By Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy
Ivan Dmitrich Aksionov is a merchant living in Vladimir, a town in Russia. Although Aksionov is prone to drinking, he is not violent, and he is responsible and well liked by people that know him. One day he decides to go to a fair as a business venture, but his wife pleads for him not to go because of a nightmare she had the previous night. Aksionov doesn’t consider his wife’s dream and leaves for the fair.
Aksionov meets another merchant on his way, and the two decide to travel together. They check into an inn and have a good time drinking, then they retire separately. Aksionov wakes early in the next morning to get to the fair and leaves without the other merchant. Not far down the road, Aksionov is stopped by some policemen. They explain a merchant was just murdered and robbed, and then they search Aksionov’s bag. They find a bloody knife, and despite Aksionov’s claims that he is not the murderer, he is sentenced and sent to Siberia. After his trial flogging, his wife can finally visit him, and she sees that Aksionov’s hair has begun to go gray from the stress.
Aksionov spends twenty-six years in Siberia, and, resigned to his fate, he dedicates his life to God. He becomes a mediator of sorts in the prison, and he is well respected by the other prisoners and also guards alike. One day….