Several days passed, and the animosity between the two neighbours did not subside. Andrei Gavrilovitch returned no more to Pokrovskoe, and Kirila Petrovitch, feeling dull without him, vented his spleen in the most insulting expressions, which, thanks to the zeal of the neighbouring nobles, reached Doubrovsky revised and augmented. A fresh incident destroyed the last hope of a reconciliation.
One day, Doubrovsky was going the round of his little estate, when, on approaching a grove of birch trees, he heard the blows of an axe, and a minute afterwards the crash of a falling tree; he hastened to the spot and found some of the Pokrovskoe peasants stealing his wood. Seeing him, they took to flight; but Doubrovsky, with the assistance of his coachman, caught two of them, whom he brought home bound. Moreover, two horses, belonging to the enemy, fell into the hands of the conqueror.
Doubrovsky was exceedingly angry. Before this, Troekouroff's people, who were well-known robbers, had never dared to play tricks within the boundaries of his property, being aware of the friendship which existed between him and their master. Doubrovsky now perceived that they were taking advantage of the rupture which had occurred between him and his neighbour, and he resolved, contrary to all ideas of the rules of war, to teach his prisoners a lesson with the rods which they themselves had collected in his grove, and to send the horses to work and to incorporate them with his own cattle.
The news of these proceedings reached the ears of Kirila Petrovitch that very same day. He was almost beside himself with rage, and in the first moment of his passion, he wanted to take all his domestics and make an attack upon Kistenevka (for such was the name of his neighbour's village), raze it to the ground, and besiege the landholder in his own residence. Such exploits were not rare with him; but his thoughts soon took another direction. Pacing with heavy steps up and down the hall, he glanced casually out of the window, and saw a troika in the act of stopping at his, gate. A man in a leather travelling-cap and a frieze cloak stepped out of the telega and proceeded towards the wing occupied by the bailiff. Troekouroff recognized the assessor Shabashkin, and gave orders for him to be sent in to him. A minute afterwards Shabashkin stood before Kirila Petrovitch, and bowing repeatedly, waited respectfully to hear what he had to say to him.
"Good day—what is your name?" said Troekouroff: "Why have you come?"
"I was going to the town, Your Excellency," replied Shabashkin, "and I called on Ivan Demyanoff to know if there; were any orders."
"You have come at a very opportune moment—what is; your name? I have need of you. Take a glass of brandy and listen to me."
Such a friendly welcome agreeably surprised the assessor: he declined the brandy, and listened to Kirila Petrovitch with all possible attention.
"I have a neighbour," said Troekouroff, "a small proprietor, a rude fellow, and I want to take his property from him.... What do you think of that?"
"Your Excellency, are there any documents—?"
"Don't talk nonsense, brother, what documents are you talking about? The business in this case is to take his property away from him, with or without documents. But stop! This estate belonged to us at one time. It was bought from a certain Spitsin, and then sold to Doubrovsky's father. Can't you make a case out of that?"
"It would be difficult, Your Excellency: probably the sale was effected in strict accordance with the law."
"Think, brother; try your hardest."
"If, for example, Your Excellency could in some way obtain from your neighbour the contract, in virtue of which he holds possession of his estate, then, without doubt—"
"I understand, but that is the misfortune: all his papers were burnt at the time of the fire."
"What! Your Excellency, his papers were burnt? What could be better? In that case, take proceedings according to law; without the slightest doubt you will receive complete satisfaction."
"You think so? Well, see to it, I rely upon your zeal, and you can rest assured of my gratitude."
Shabashkin, bowing almost to the ground, took his departure; from that day he began to devote all his energies to the business intrusted to him and, thanks to his prompt action, exactly a fortnight afterwards Doubrovsky received from the town a summons to appear in court and to produce the documents, in virtue of which he held possession of the village of Kistenevka.
Andrei Gavrilovitch, greatly astonished by this unexpected request, wrote that very same day a somewhat rude reply, in which he explained that the village of Kistenevka became his on the death of his father, that he held it by right of inheritance, that Troekouroff had nothing to do with the matter, and that all adventitious pretensions to his property were nothing but the outcome of chicanery and roguery. Doubrovsky had no experience in litigation. He generally followed the dictates of common sense, a guide rarely safe, and nearly always insufficient.
This letter produced a very agreeable impression on the mind of Shabashkin; he saw, in the first place, that Doubrovsky knew very little about legal matters; and, in the second, that it would not be difficult to place such a passionate and indiscreet man in a very disadvantageous position.
Andrei Gavrilovitch, after a more careful consideration of the questions addressed to him, saw the necessity of replying more circumstantially. He wrote a sufficiently pertinent paper, but in the end this proved insufficient also.
The business dragged on. Confident in his own right, Andrei Gavrilovitch troubled himself very little about the matter; he had neither the inclination nor the means to scatter money about him, and he began to deride the mercenary consciences of the scribbling fraternity. The idea of being made the victim of treachery never entered his head. Troekouroff, on his side, thought as little of winning the case he had devised. Shabashkin took the matter in hand for him, acting in his name, threatening and bribing the judges and quoting and interpreting the ordinances in the most distorted manner possible.
At last, on the 9th day of February, in the year 18—, Doubrovsky received, through the town police, an invitation to appear at the district court to hear the decision in the matter of the disputed property between himself—Lieutenant Doubrovsky, and General-in-Chief Troekouroff, and to sign his approval or disapproval of the verdict. That same day Doubrovsky set out for the town. On the road he was overtaken by Troekouroff. They glared haughtily at each other, and Doubrovsky observed a malicious smile upon the face of his adversary.
Arriving in town, Andrei Gavrilovitch stopped at the house of an acquaintance, a merchant, with whom he spent the night, and the next morning he appeared before the Court. Nobody paid any attention, to him. After him arrived Kirila Petrovitch. The members of the Court received him with every manifestation of the deepest submission, and an armchair was brought to him out of consideration for his rank, years and corpulence. He sat down; Andrei Gavrilovitch stood leaning against the wall. A deep silence ensued, and the secretary began in a sonorous voice to read the decree of the Court.
When the secretary had ceased reading, the assessor arose and, with a low bow, turned to Troekouroff, inviting him to sign the paper which he held out to him. Troekouroff, quite triumphant, took the pen and wrote beneath the decision of the Court his complete satisfaction.
It was now Doubrovsky's turn. The secretary handed the paper to him, but Doubrovsky stood immovable, with his head bent down. The secretary repeated his invitation: "To subscribe his full and complete satisfaction, or his manifest dissatisfaction, if he felt in his conscience that his case was just, and intended to appeal against the decision of the Court."
Doubrovsky remained silent ... Suddenly he raised his head, his eyes sparkled, he stamped his foot, pushed back the secretary, with such force, that he fell, seized the inkstand, hurled it at the assessor, and cried in a wild voice:
"What! you don't respect the Church of God! Away, you race of Shem!"
Then turning to Kirila Petrovitch:
"Has such a thing ever been heard of, Your Excellency?" he continued. "The huntsmen lead greyhounds into the Church of God! The dogs are running about the church! I will teach them a lesson presently!"
Everybody was terrified. The guards rushed in on hearing the noise, and with difficulty overpowered him. They led him out and placed him in a sledge. Troekouroff went out after him, accompanied by the whole Court Doubrovsky's sudden madness had produced a deep impression upon his imagination; the judges, who had counted upon his gratitude, were not honoured by receiving a single affable word from him. He returned immediately to Pokrovskoe, secretly tortured by his conscience, and not at all satisfied with the triumph of his hatred. Doubrovsky, in the meantime, lay in bed. The district doctor—not altogether a blockhead—bled him and applied leeches and mustard-plasters to him. Towards evening he began to feel better, and the next day he was taken to Kistenevka, which scarcely belonged to him any longer.
 Superiors in Russia frequently make use of this term in addressing their inferiors.