God Sees the Truth, but Waits


An official and two soldiers got out of the carriage. The official went up to Aksenov and asked him who he was and where he was from. Aksenov told him what he wanted to know and asked if he would like to join him for tea. But the official continued to question him: “Where did you sleep last night? Were you alone or with a merchant? Did you see the merchant in the morning? Why did you leave the inn so early?” Aksenov wondered why he was being asked these things. He told him all that had occurred then added, “But why are you questioning me like this? I’m not some kind of thief or bandit. I am traveling on my own business, and there’s nothing for you to question me about.”

Then the official called a soldier and said: “I am the district police officer, and I am asking you these questions because the merchant you stayed with last night has been found with his throat cut. Show me your things. Search him.” They went into the cabin, took out his suitcase and bag, untied them and began to search. Suddenly, the officer pulled out a knife from the bag and shouted: “Whose knife is this?”

Aksenov looked. He saw that they had found a knife covered with blood in his bag, and he was frightened.

“And why is there blood on the knife?”

Aksenov wanted to answer, but he could not speak.

“I… I don’t know… I… knife… I, not mine…”

Then the officer said : “In the morning they found a merchant with his throat cut. There is no one besides you who could have done it. The cabin was locked from the inside. You have in your bag a knife covered with blood, and, in fact, guilt is written all over your face. Now tell us, how did you kill him and how much money did you steal?”

Aksenov swore that he did not do it, that he had not seen the merchant since they had drunk tea together, that the only money he had was his own eight thousand rubles, that the knife was not his.

-Excerpted from “God Sees the Truth, but Waits” by Leo Tolstoy

  1. What was the most incriminating evidence against Aksenov?
  • Guilt was written all over his face.
  • Aksenov drank tea with the merchant.
  • The cabin was locked from the inside.
  • A blood-covered knife was found in his bag.
  • He had eight thousand rubles.
  1. Which statement best summarizes the action occurring in this scene?
  • A suspect is questioned about a murder.
  • A criminal refuses to cooperate with police.
  • Two soldiers assist a district police officer.
  • A police officer forces a suspect to plead guilty.
  • A merchant is brutally murdered and robbed.
  1. What is the author’s purpose in writing the dialogue, “I… I don’t know… I… knife… I, not mine…” (lines 35-36) in this way? To show that
  • Aksenov suffers from a chronic stuttering problem
  • Aksenov is lying to the police officer
  • Askenov’s nervousness is affecting his speech
  • Aksenov has a limited vocabulary
  • Aksenov is a poor conversationalist
  1. To whose behavior could the police officer in this scene best be compared?
  • a defense attorney
  • a jury member
  • a judge
  • a prosecuting attorney
  • an eyewitness