The story is set in the city of Vladimir, Russia.Ivan Dmitrich Aksinov is a well to do merchant and a jolly good fellow.One summer he sets out to go to the Nizhny Fair to do some trade and business.His wife forbids him to go that day as she has had a bad dream .In the dream , when he comes back from town and takes off his cap, the wife finds that all his hair have turned grey.
Aksinov laughs off the matter and proceeds on his journey.En route he meets another merchant known to him and together they spend a night in an inn , of course occupying separate room each. An early riser,Aksenov , after making payment to the owner of the inn , starts his journey again. After covering about 25 miles, he stops at a place to give rest to the horse and sits to play on his instrument.After some time a troika arrives . An official and two cops alight from it and make inquiry from Aksenov as to where he had spent the night. On being told , they make a search in his luggage and much to the horror , shock and surprise of Aksenov, take out a blood stained knife. Aksenov is taken prisoner and is charged with the murder of the merchant who was staying in the inn the same night and also of robbing the merchant of twenty thousand roubles.
All efforts including petitions for pardon made to the Czar having failed,
Aksenov is tried and sentenced to imprisonment and is deported to Siberia after being subjected to flogging.
He spends 26 years in Siberia in prison, learns to make boots , earns some money and purchases a book' The Lives of the Saints'. Good and a nice gentleman that he is, the earns the love and respect of fellow convicts due to his good behaviour.
One day another group of convicts arrives to serve the sentence.
As events unfold one of the freshly arrived convicts is Makar Semenich. During the course of exchange of notes , Aksenov grows strongly suspicious that Makar is the person who had murdered the merchant, but can do nothing about it.
After some days the prisoner authorities find out that a secret tunnel is being dug up by some prisoner to facilitate escape.One by one all prisoners are enquired about it . Aksenov, despite knowing that Makar has done it, does not divulge his name.
This brings about a change of heart in Makar and he confesses to the crime of having committed the murder and robbery for which Aksenov has been falsely accused and convicted.
Now the process for release of Aksenov has started.But one day Aksenov is found dead. His compensation is only being absolved of the charge for which he has suffered so much.
The title of the story says ...... but waits.
But in this case the wait has been too long !
Nevertheless, a masterpiece by Leo Tolstoy !!