A Nobleman's Nest
by Ivan Turgenieff
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"I have heard, my dear,"—she began:—"that you are a wonderful performer."

"It is a long time since I have played,"—replied Varvara Pavlovna, as she seated herself, in a leisurely manner, at the piano, and ran her fingers in a dashing way over the keys.—"Would you like to have me play?"

"Pray do."

Varvara Pavlovna played a brilliant and difficult etude of Herz in a masterly style. She had a great deal of strength and execution.

"A sylph!"—exclaimed Gedeonovsky.

"Remarkable!"—assented Marya Dmitrievna.—"Well, Varvara Pavlovna, I must confess,"—she said, calling her, for the first time, by her name:—"you have amazed me; you might even give concerts. We have an old musician here, a German, an eccentric fellow, very learned; he gives Liza lessons; he will simply go out of his mind over you."

"Lizaveta Mikhailovna is also a musician?"—inquired Varvara Pavlovna, turning her head slightly in her direction.

"Yes, she plays quite well, and loves music; but what does that signify, in comparison with you? But there is a young man here; you ought to make his acquaintance. He is—an artist in soul, and composes very prettily. He is the only one who can fully appreciate you."

"A young man?"—said Varvara Pavlovna.—"Who is he? Some poor fellow?"

"Good gracious,—he's our chief cavalier, and not among us only—et a Petersbourg. A Junior Gentleman of the Bedchamber, received in the best society. You certainly must have heard of him,—Panshin, Vladimir Nikolaitch. He is here on a government commission ... a future Minister, upon my word!"

"And an artist?"

"An artist in soul, and such a charming fellow. You shall see him. He has been at my house very frequently of late; I have invited him for this evening; I hope that he will come,"—added Marya Dmitrievna, with a gentle sigh and a sidelong bitter smile.

Liza understood the significance of that smile; but she cared nothing for it.

"And is he young?"—repeated Varvara Pavlovna, lightly modulating from one key to another.

"He is eight and twenty—and of the most happy personal appearance. Un jeune homme accompli, upon my word."

"A model young man, one may say,"—remarked Gedeonovsky.

Varvara Pavlovna suddenly began to play a noisy Strauss waltz, which started with such a mighty and rapid trill as made even Gedeonovsky start; in the very middle of the waltz, she abruptly changed into a mournful motif, and wound up with the aria from "Lucia": "Fra poco."... She had reflected that merry music was not compatible with her situation. The aria from "Lucia," with emphasis on the sentimental notes, greatly affected Marya Dmitrievna.

"What soul!"—she said, in a low tone, to Gedeonovsky.

"A sylph!"—repeated Gedeonovsky, and rolled his eyes heavenward.

Dinner-time arrived. Marfa Timofeevna came down-stairs when the soup was already standing on the table. She treated Varvara Pavlovna very coolly, replying with half-words to her amiabilities, and not looking at her. Varvara Pavlovna herself speedily comprehended that she could do nothing with the old woman, and ceased to address her; on the other hand, Marya Dmitrievna became more affectionate than ever with her guest: her aunt's discourtesy enraged her. However, Varvara Pavlovna was not the only person at whom Marfa Timofeevna refused to look: she never cast a glance at Liza, either, although her eyes fairly flashed. She sat like a stone image, all sallow, pale, with tightly compressed lips—and ate nothing. Liza seemed to be composed; and, as a matter of fact, all had become more tranquil in her soul; a strange insensibility, the insensibility of the man condemned to death, had come upon her. At dinner Varvara Pavlovna talked little: she seemed to have become timid once more, and spread over her face an expression of modest melancholy. Gedeonovsky alone enlivened the conversation with his tales, although he kept casting cowardly glances at Marfa Timofeevna, and a cough and tickling in the throat seized upon him every time that he undertook to lie in her presence,—but she did not hinder him, she did not interrupt him. After dinner it appeared that Varvara Pavlovna was extremely fond of preference; this pleased Marya Dmitrievna to such a degree, that she even became greatly affected, and thought to herself:—"But what a fool Feodor Ivanitch must be: he was not able to appreciate such a woman!"

She sat down to play cards with her and Gedeonovsky, while Marfa Timofeevna led Liza off to her own rooms up-stairs, saying that she looked ill, that her head must be aching.

"Yes, she has a frightful headache,"—said Marya Dmitrievna, turning to Varvara Pavlovna, and rolling up her eyes.—"I myself have such sick-headaches...." Liza entered her aunt's room and dropped on a chair, exhausted. Marfa Timofeevna gazed at her for a long time, in silence, knelt down softly in front of her—and began, in the same speechless manner, to kiss her hands, in turn. Liza leaned forward, blushed, and fell to weeping, but did not raise Marfa Timofeevna, did not withdraw her hands: she felt that she had not the right to withdraw them, had not the right to prevent the old woman showing her contrition, her sympathy, asking her pardon for what had taken place on the day before; and Marfa Timofeevna could not have done with kissing those poor, pale, helpless hands—and silent tears streamed from her eyes and from Liza's eyes; and the cat Matros purred in the wide arm-chair beside the ball of yarn and the stocking, the elongated flame of the shrine-lamp quivered gently and flickered in front of the holy picture,—in the adjoining room, behind the door, stood Nastasya Karpovna, and also stealthily wiped her eyes, with a checked handkerchief rolled up into a ball.


And, in the meantime, down-stairs in the drawing-room preference was in progress; Marya Dmitrievna won, and was in high spirits. A footman entered, and announced the arrival of Panshin.

Marya Dmitrievna dropped her cards, and fidgeted about in her chair; Varvara Pavlovna looked at her with a half-smile, then directed her gaze to the door. Panshin made his appearance, in a black frock-coat, with a tall English collar, buttoned up to the throat. "It was painful for me to obey, but you see I have come." That was what his freshly-shaved, unsmiling face expressed.

"Goodness, Woldemar,"—exclaimed Marya Dmitrievna:—"you always used to enter without being announced!"

Panshin replied to Marya Dmitrievna merely with a look, bowed courteously to her, but did not kiss her hand. She introduced him to Varvara Pavlovna; he retreated a pace, bowed to her with equal courtesy, but with a shade of elegance and deference, and seated himself at the card-table. The game of preference soon came to an end. Panshin inquired after Lizaveta Mikhailovna, learned that she did not feel quite well, and expressed his regrets; then he entered into conversation with Varvara Pavlovna, weighing and chiselling clearly every word, in diplomatic fashion, respectfully listening to her replies to the very end. But the importance of his diplomatic tone had no effect on Varvara Pavlovna, did not communicate itself to her. Quite the contrary: she gazed into his face with merry attention, talked in a free-and-easy way, and her delicate nostrils quivered slightly, as though with suppressed laughter. Marya Dmitrievna began to extol her talent; Panshin inclined his head as politely as his collar permitted, declared that "he was convinced of it in advance,"—and turned the conversation almost on Metternich himself. Varvara Pavlovna narrowed her velvety eyes, and saying, in a low tone: "Why, you also are an artist yourself, un confrere,"—added in a still lower tone: "Venez!"—and nodded her head in the direction of the piano. That one carelessly dropped word: "Venez!"—instantaneously, as though by magic, altered Panshin's entire aspect. His careworn mien vanished; he smiled, became animated, unbuttoned his coat, and repeating: "What sort of an artist am I, alas! But you, I hear, are a genuine artist"—wended his way, in company with Varvara Pavlovna, to the piano.

"Make him sing his romance:—'When the moon floats,'"—exclaimed Marya Dmitrievna.

"Do you sing?"—said Varvara Pavlovna, illuminating him with a bright, swift glance.—"Sit down."

Panshin began to decline.

"Sit down,"—she repeated, insistently tapping the back of the chair.

He sat down, coughed, pulled open his collar, and sang his romance.

"Charmant!"—said Varvara Pavlovna:—"you sing beautifully, vous avez du style,—sing it again."

She walked round the piano, and took up her stand directly opposite Panshin. He sang his romance again, imparting a melodramatic quiver to his voice. Varvara Pavlovna gazed intently at him, with her elbows propped on the piano, and her white hands on a level with her lips. Panshin finished.

"Charmant, charmante idee,"—said she, with the calm confidence of an expert.—"Tell me, have you written anything for the female voice, for a mezzo-soprano?"

"I hardly write anything,"—replied Panshin;—"you see, I only do this sort of thing in the intervals between business affairs ... but do you sing?"


"Oh! do sing something for us,"—said Marya Dmitrievna.

Varvara Pavlovna pushed back her hair from her flushed cheeks with her hand, and shook her head.

"Our voices ought to go well together,"—she said, turning to Panshin:—"let us sing a duet. Do you know 'Son geloso,' or 'La ci darem,' or 'Mira la bianca luna'?"

"I used to sing 'Mira la bianca luna,'"—replied Panshin:—"but I have forgotten it long ago."

"Never mind, we will try it over in an undertone. Let me come."

Varvara Pavlovna sat down at the piano. Panshin stood beside her. They sang the duet in an undertone, Varvara Pavlovna correcting him several times; then they sang it aloud, then they repeated it twice: "Mira la bianca lu...u...una." Varvara Pavlovna's voice had lost its freshness, but she managed it very adroitly. Panshin was timid at first, and sang rather out of tune, but later on he warmed up, and if he did not sing faultlessly, at least he wriggled his shoulders, swayed his whole body, and elevated his hand now and then, like a genuine singer. Varvara Pavlovna played two or three little things of Thalberg's, and coquettishly "recited" a French ariette. Marya Dmitrievna no longer knew how to express her delight; several times she was on the point of sending for Liza; Gedeonovsky, also, found no words and merely rocked his head,—but all of a sudden he yawned, and barely succeeded in concealing his mouth with his hand. This yawn did not escape Varvara Pavlovna; she suddenly turned her back to the piano, said: "Assez de musique, comme ca; let us chat,"—and folded her hands. "Oui, assez de musique,"—merrily repeated Panshin—and struck up a conversation with her,—daring, light, in the French language. "Exactly as in the best Parisian salon,"—thought Marya Dmitrievna, as she listened to their evasive and nimble speeches. Panshin felt perfectly contented; his eyes sparkled, he smiled; at first, he passed his hand over his face, contracted his brows, and sighed spasmodically when he chanced to meet the glances of Marya Dmitrievna; but later on, he entirely forgot her, and surrendered himself completely to the enjoyment of the half-fashionable, half-artistic chatter. Varvara Pavlovna showed herself to be a great philosopher: she had an answer ready for everything, she did not hesitate over anything, she doubted nothing; it could be seen that she had talked much and often with clever persons of various sorts. All her thoughts, all her feelings, circled about Paris. Panshin turned the conversation on literature: it appeared that she, as well as he, read only French books: Georges Sand excited her indignation; Balzac she admired, although he fatigued her; in Sue and Scribe she discerned great experts of the heart; she adored Dumas and Feval; in her soul she preferred Paul de Kock to the whole of them, but, of course, she did not even mention his name. To tell the truth, literature did not interest her greatly. Varvara Pavlovna very artfully avoided everything which could even distantly recall her position; there was not a hint about love in her remarks: on the contrary, they were rather distinguished by severity toward the impulses of passion, by disenchantment, by meekness. Panshin retorted; she disagreed with him ... but, strange to say!—at the very time when words of condemnation, often harsh, were issuing from her lips, the sound of those words caressed and enervated, and her eyes said ... precisely what those lovely eyes said, it would be difficult to state; but their speech was not severe, not clear, yet sweet. Panshin endeavoured to understand their mysterious significance, endeavoured to talk with his own eyes, but he was conscious that he was not at all successful; he recognised the fact that Varvara Pavlovna, in her quality of a genuine foreign lioness, stood above him, and therefore he was not in full control of himself. Varvara Pavlovna had a habit, while talking, of lightly touching the sleeve of her interlocutor; these momentary touches greatly agitated Vladimir Nikolaitch. Varvara Pavlovna possessed the art of getting on easily with every one; two hours had not elapsed before it seemed to Panshin that he had known her always, and Liza, that same Liza, whom he loved, nevertheless, to whom he had offered his hand on the preceding day,—vanished as in a mist. Tea was served; the conversation became still more unconstrained. Marya Dmitrievna rang for her page, and ordered him to tell Liza to come down-stairs if her head felt better. Panshin, on hearing Liza's name, set to talking about self-sacrifice, about who was the more capable of sacrifice—man or woman? Marya Dmitrievna immediately became agitated, began to assert that woman is the more capable, declared that she would prove it in two words, got entangled, and wound up by a decidedly infelicitous comparison. Varvara Pavlovna picked up a music-book, half-concealed herself with it, and leaning over in the direction of Panshin, nibbling at a biscuit, with a calm smile on her lips and in her glance, she remarked, in an undertone: "Elle n'a pas invente la poudre, la bonne dame." Panshin was somewhat alarmed and amazed at Varvara Pavlovna's audacity; but he did not understand how much scorn for him, himself, was concealed in that unexpected sally, and, forgetting the affection and the devotion of Marya Dmitrievna, forgetting the dinners wherewith she had fed him, the money which she had lent him,—he, with the same little smile, the same tone, replied (unlucky wight!): "Je crois bien,"—and not even: "Je crois bien," but:—"Je crois ben!"

Varvara Pavlovna cast a friendly glance at him, and rose. Liza had entered; in vain had Marfa Timofeevna sought to hold her back: she had made up her mind to endure the trial to the end. Varvara Pavlovna advanced to meet her, in company with Panshin, on whose face the former diplomatic expression had again made its appearance.

"How is your health?"—he asked Liza.

"I feel better now, thank you,"—she replied.

"We have been having a little music here; it is a pity that you did not hear Varvara Pavlovna. She sings superbly, un artiste consommee."

"Come here, ma cherie,"—rang out Marya Dmitrievna's voice.

Varvara Pavlovna instantly, with the submissiveness of a little child, went up to her, and seated herself on a small tabouret at her feet. Marya Dmitrievna had called her for the purpose of leaving her daughter alone with Panshin, if only for a moment: she still secretly cherished the hope that the girl would come to her senses. Moreover, a thought had occurred to her, to which she desired to give immediate expression.

"Do you know,"—she whispered to Varvara Pavlovna:—"I want to make an effort to reconcile you with your husband: I do not guarantee success, but I will try. You know that he has great respect for me."

Varvara Pavlovna slowly raised her eyes to Marya Dmitrievna, and clasped her hands prettily.

"You would be my saviour, ma tante,"—she said, in a mournful voice:—"I do not know how to thank you for all your affection; but I am too guilty toward Feodor Ivanitch; he cannot forgive me."

"But is it possible that you ... really ..." began Marya Dmitrievna, with curiosity.

"Do not ask me,"—Varvara Pavlovna interrupted her, and dropped her eyes.—"I was young, giddy.... However, I do not wish to defend myself."

"Well, nevertheless, why not make the effort? Do not despair,"—returned Marya Dmitrievna, and was on the point of patting her on the shoulder, but glanced at her face—and grew timid. "She is a modest, modest creature,"—she thought,—"and exactly like a young girl still."

"Are you ill?"—Panshin was saying, meanwhile, to Liza.

"Yes, I am not very well."

"I understand you,"—he said, after a rather prolonged silence.—"Yes, I understand you."

"How so?"

"I understand you,"—significantly repeated Panshin, who simply did not know what to say.

Liza became confused, and then said to herself: "So be it!" Panshin assumed a mysterious air, and fell silent, gazing severely to one side.

"But the clock has struck eleven, I think,"—remarked Marya Dmitrievna.

The guests understood the hint, and began to take their leave. Varvara Pavlovna was made to promise that she would come to dinner on the morrow, and bring Ada; Gedeonovsky, who had almost fallen asleep as he sat in one corner, offered to escort her home. Panshin solemnly saluted every one, and at the steps, as he put Varvara Pavlovna into her carriage, he pressed her hand and shouted after her: "Au revoir!" Gedeonovsky seated himself by her side; all the way home, she amused herself by placing the tip of her foot on his foot, as though by accident; he became confused, and paid her compliments; she giggled and made eyes at him when the light from a street-lantern fell on the carriage. The waltz which she had herself played, rang in her head, and excited her; wherever she happened to find herself, all she had to do was to imagine to herself lights, a ball-room, the swift whirling to the sounds of music—and her soul went fairly aflame, her eyes darkened strangely, a smile hovered over her lips, something gracefully-bacchic was disseminated all over her body. On arriving at home, Varvara Pavlovna sprang lightly from the carriage,—only fashionable lionesses know how to spring out in that way,—turned to Gedeonovsky, and suddenly burst into a ringing laugh, straight in his face.

"A charming person,"—thought the State Councillor, as he wended his way homeward to his lodgings, where his servant was awaiting him with a bottle of eau de Cologne:—"it is well that I am a staid man ... only, what was she laughing at?"

Marfa Timofeevna sat all night long by Liza's pillow.


Lavretzky spent a day and a half at Vasilievskoe, and during nearly the whole of that time he wandered about the neighbourhood. He could not remain long in one place: anguish gnawed him; he experienced all the torture of incessant, impetuous, and impotent impulses. He recalled the feeling which had taken possession of his soul on the day following his arrival in the country; he recalled his intentions at that time, and waxed very angry with himself. What could have torn him away from that which he recognised as his duty, the sole task of his future? The thirst for happiness—once more, the thirst for happiness!—"Obviously, Mikhalevitch is right," he thought. "Thou hast wished once more to taste of happiness in life,"—he said to himself,—"thou hast forgotten what a luxury, what an unmerited mercy it is when it has visited a man even once. It was not complete, thou wilt say? But put forth thy claims to complete, genuine happiness! Look about thee: who of those around thee is blissful, who enjoys himself? Yonder, a peasant is driving to the reaping; perchance, he is satisfied with his lot.... What of that? Wouldst thou change with him? Remember thy mother: how insignificantly small were her demands, and what lot fell to her share? Thou hast, evidently, only been bragging before Panshin, when thou saidst to him, that thou hadst come to Russia in order to till the earth; thou hast come in order to run after the girls in thine old age. The news of thy freedom came, and thou didst discard everything, thou didst forget everything, thou didst run like a little boy after a butterfly."... Liza's image uninterruptedly presented itself before his thoughts; with an effort he drove it away, as he did also another importunate image, other imperturbably-crafty, beautiful, and detested features. Old Anton noticed that his master was not himself; after heaving several sighs outside the door, and several more on the threshold, he made up his mind to approach him, and advised him to drink something warm. Lavretzky shouted at him, ordered him to leave the room, but afterward begged his pardon; but this caused Anton to grow still more disconsolate. Lavretzky could not sit in the drawing-room; he felt as though his great-grandfather Andrei were gazing scornfully from the canvas at his puny descendant.—"Ekh, look out for thyself! thou art sailing in shoal water!" his lips, pursed up on one side, seemed to be saying. "Can it be,"—he thought,—"that I shall not be able to conquer myself,—that I shall give in to this—nonsense?" (The severely-wounded in war always call their wounds "nonsense." If a man could not deceive himself,—he could not live on the earth.) "Am I really a miserable little boy? Well, yes: I have beheld close by, I have almost held in my hand, the possibility of happiness for my whole life—it has suddenly vanished; and in a lottery, if you turn the wheel just a little further, a poor man might become a rich one. If it was not to be, it was not to be,—and that's the end of the matter. I'll set to work, with clenched teeth, and I will command myself to hold my tongue; luckily, it is not the first time I have had to take myself in hand. And why did I run away, why am I sitting here, with my head thrust into a bush, like an ostrich? To be afraid to look catastrophe in the face—is nonsense!—Anton!"—he called loudly,—"order the tarantas to be harnessed up immediately. Yes,"—he meditated once more,—"I must command myself to hold my tongue, I must keep a tight rein on myself."...

With such arguments did Lavretzky strive to alleviate his grief; but it was great and powerful; and even Apraxyeya, who had outlived not so much her mind as every feeling, even Apraxyeya shook her head, and sorrowfully followed him with her eyes, when he seated himself in the tarantas, in order to drive to the town. The horses galloped off; he sat motionless and upright, and stared impassively ahead along the road.


Liza had written to Lavretzky on the day before, that he was to come to their house in the evening; but he first went up to his own quarters. He did not find either his wife or his daughter at home; from the servants he learned that she had gone with her to the Kalitins'. This news both startled and enraged him. "Evidently, Varvara Pavlovna is determined not to give me a chance to live,"—he thought, with the excitement of wrath in his heart. He began to stride to and fro, incessantly thrusting aside with his feet and hands the child's toys, the books, and the feminine appurtenances which came in his way; he summoned Justine, and ordered her to remove all that "rubbish."—"Oui, monsieur,"—said she, with a grimace, and began to put the room in order, gracefully bending, and giving Lavretzky to understand, by every movement, that she regarded him as an unlicked bear. With hatred he watched her worn but still "piquant," sneering, Parisian face, her white cuffs, her silken apron, and light cap. He sent her away, at last, and after long wavering (Varvara Pavlovna still did not return) he made up his mind to betake himself to the Kalitins',—not to Marya Dmitrievna—(not, on any account, would he have entered her drawing-room, that drawing-room where his wife was), but to Marfa Timofeevna; he remembered that a rear staircase from the maids' entrance led straight to her rooms. This is what Lavretzky did. Chance favoured him: in the yard he met Schurotchka; she conducted him to Marfa Timofeevna. He found her, contrary to her wont, alone; she was sitting in a corner, with hair uncovered, bowed over, with her hands clasped in her lap. On perceiving Lavretzky, the old woman was greatly alarmed, rose briskly to her feet, and began to walk hither and yon in the room, as though in search of her cap.

"Ah, here thou art, here thou art,"—she began, avoiding his gaze, and bustling about—"well, how do you do? Come, what now? What is to be done? Where wert thou yesterday? Well, she has come,—well, yes. Well, we must just ... somehow or other."

Lavretzky dropped into a chair.

"Come, sit down, sit down,"—went on the old woman.—"Thou hast come straight up-stairs. Well, yes, of course. What? thou art come to look at me? Thanks."

The old woman was silent for a while; Lavretzky did not know what to say to her; but she understood him.

"Liza ... yes, Liza was here just now,"—went on Marfa Timofeevna, tying and untying the cords of her reticule. "She is not quite well. Schurotchka, where art thou? Come hither, my mother, why canst thou not sit still? And I have a headache. It must be from that—from the singing and from the music."

"From what singing, aunty?"

"Why, of course, they keep singing—what do you call it?—duets. And always in Italian: tchi-tchi, and tcha-tcha, regular magpies. They begin to drag the notes out, and it's just like tugging at your soul. Panshin and that wife of yours. And all that has come about so quickly; already they are on the footing of relatives, they do not stand on ceremony. However, I will say this much: even a dog seeks a refuge; no harm will come to her, so long as people don't turn her out."

"Nevertheless, I must confess that I did not expect this,"—replied Lavretzky:—"it must have required great boldness."

"No, my dear soul, that is not boldness; it is calculation. The Lord be with her—I want nothing to do with her! They tell me that thou art sending her to Lavriki,—is it true?"

"Yes, I am placing that estate at the disposal of Varvara Pavlovna."

"Has she asked for money?"

"Not yet."

"Well, it will not be long before she does. But I have only just taken a good look at thee. Art thou well?"


"Schurotchka,"—suddenly cried Marfa Timofeevna:—"go, and tell Lizaveta Mikhailovna—that is to say, no, ask her ... she's down-stairs, isn't she?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Well, yes; then ask her: 'Where did she put my book?' She knows."

"I obey, ma'am."

Again the old woman began to bustle about, and to open the drawers of her commode. Lavretzky sat motionless on his chair.

Suddenly light footsteps became audible on the stairs—and Liza entered. Lavretzky rose to his feet, and bowed; Liza halted by the door.

"Liza, Lizotchka,"—said Marfa Timofeevna hastily;—"where is my book, where didst thou put my book?"

"What book, aunty?"

"Why, my book; good heavens! However, I did not call thee.... Well, it makes no difference. What are you doing there—down-stairs? See here, Feodor Ivanitch has come.—How is thy head?"

"It is all right."

"Thou art always saying: 'It is all right.' What's going on with you down-stairs,—music again?"

"No—they are playing cards."

"Yes, of course, she is up to everything. Schurotchka, I perceive that thou wishest to have a run in the garden. Go along."

"Why, no, Marfa Timofeevna...."

"Don't argue, if you please. Go! Nastasya Karpovna has gone into the garden alone: stay with her. Respect the old woman."—Schurotchka left the room.—"Why, where is my cap? Really, now, where has it got to?"

"Pray let me look for it,"—said Liza.

"Sit down, sit down; my own legs haven't given out yet. I must have left it yonder, in my bedroom."

And, casting a sidelong glance at Lavretzky, Marfa Timofeevna left the room. She was on the point of leaving the door open, but suddenly turned round toward it, and shut it.

Liza leaned against the back of her chair, and gently lifted her hands to her face; Lavretzky remained standing, as he was.

"This is how we were to meet again,"—he said, at last.

Liza took her hands from her face.

"Yes,"—she said dully:—"we were promptly punished."

"Punished?"—said Lavretzky. "But what were you punished for?"

Liza raised her eyes to him. They expressed neither grief nor anxiety: they looked smaller and dimmer. Her face was pale; her slightly parted lips had also grown pale.

Lavretzky's heart shuddered with pity and with love.

"You wrote to me: 'All is at an end,'"—he whispered:—"Yes, all is at an end—before it has begun."

"We must forget all that,"—said Liza:—"I am glad that you came; I wanted to write to you, but it is better thus. Only, we must make use, as promptly as possible, of these minutes. It remains for both of us to do our duty. You, Feodor Ivanitch, ought to become reconciled to your wife."


"I implore you to do it; in that way alone can we expiate ... everything which has taken place. Think it over—and you will not refuse me."

"Liza, for God's sake,—you are demanding the impossible. I am ready to do everything you command; but become reconciled to her now!... I agree to everything, I have forgotten everything; but I cannot force my heart to.... Have mercy, this is cruel!"

"I do not require from you ... what you think; do not live with her, if you cannot; but become reconciled,"—replied Liza, and again raised her hand to her eyes.—"Remember your little daughter; do this for me."

"Very well,"—said Lavretzky, through his teeth:—"I will do it; let us assume that thereby I am fulfilling my duty. Well, and you—in what does your duty consist?"

"I know what it is."

Lavretzky suddenly started.

"Surely, you are not preparing to marry Panshin?"—he asked.

Liza smiled almost imperceptibly.

"Oh, no!"—she said.

"Akh, Liza, Liza!"—cried Lavretzky:—"how happy we might have been!"

Again Liza glanced at him.

"Now you see yourself, Feodor Ivanitch, that happiness does not depend upon us, but upon God."

"Yes, because you...."

The door of the adjoining room opened swiftly, and Marfa Timofeevna entered, with her cap in her hand.

"I have found it at last,"—she said, taking up her stand between Lavretzky and Liza.—"I had mislaid it myself. That's what it is to be old, alack! However, youth is no better. Well, and art thou going to Lavriki thyself, with thy wife?"—she added, addressing Feodor Ivanitch.

"With her, to Lavriki?—I do not know,"—he said, after a pause.

"Thou art not going down-stairs?"

"Not to-day."

"Well, very good, as it pleases thee; but I think thou shouldst go down-stairs, Liza. Akh, gracious goodness!—and I have forgotten to give the bullfinch his food. Just wait, I'll be back directly...."

And Marfa Timofeevna ran out of the room, without putting on her cap.

Lavretzky went quickly up to Liza.

"Liza,"—he began in a beseeching voice:—"we are parting forever, my heart is breaking,—give me your hand in farewell."

Liza raised her head. Her weary, almost extinct gaze rested on him....

"No,"—she said, and drew back the hand which she had already put forward—"no. Lavretzky"—(she called him thus, for the first time)—"I will not give you my hand. To what end? Go away, I entreat you. You know that I love you,"—she added, with an effort:—"but no ... no."

And she raised her handkerchief to her eyes.

The door creaked.... The handkerchief slipped off Liza's knees. Lavretzky caught it before it fell to the floor, hastily thrust it into his side pocket, and, turning round, his eyes met those of Marfa Timofeevna.

"Lizotchka, I think thy mother is calling thee,"—remarked the old woman.

Liza immediately rose, and left the room.

Marfa Timofeevna sat down again in her corner. Lavretzky began to take leave of her.

"Fedya,"—she suddenly said.

"What, aunty?"

"Art thou an honourable man?"


"I ask thee: art thou an honourable man?"

"I hope so."

"H'm. But give me thy word of honour that thou art an honourable man."

"Certainly.—But why?"

"I know why. Yes, and thou also, my benefactor, if thou wilt think it over well,—for thou art not stupid,—wilt understand thyself why I ask this of thee. And now, farewell, my dear. Thanks for thy visit; and remember the word that has been spoken, Fedya, and kiss me. Okh, my soul, it is hard for thee, I know: but then, life is not easy for any one. That is why I used to envy the flies; here, I thought, is something that finds life good; but once, in the night, I heard a fly grieving in the claws of a spider,—no, I thought, a thundercloud hangs over them also. What is to be done, Fedya? but remember thy word, nevertheless.—Go."

Lavretzky emerged from the back entrance, and was already approaching the gate ... when a lackey overtook him.

"Marya Dmitrievna ordered me to ask you to be so good as to come to her,"—he announced to Lavretzky.

"Say to her, my good fellow, that I cannot at present ..." began Feodor Ivanitch.

"She ordered me to entreat you urgently,"—went on the lackey:—"she ordered me to say, that she is at home."

"But have the visitors gone?"—asked Lavretzky.

"Yes, sir,"—returned the lackey, and grinned.

Lavretzky shrugged his shoulders, and followed him.


Marya Dmitrievna was sitting alone, in her boudoir, in a sofa-chair, and sniffing eau de Cologne; a glass of orange-flower water was standing beside her, on a small table. She was excited, and seemed to be timorous.

Lavretzky entered.

"You wished to see me,"—he said, saluting her coldly.

"Yes,"—returned Marya Dmitrievna, and drank a little of the water. "I heard that you went straight up-stairs to aunty; I gave orders that you should be requested to come to me: I must have a talk with you. Sit down, if you please."—Marya Dmitrievna took breath.—"You know,"—she went on:—"that your wife has arrived?"

"That fact is known to me,"—said Lavretzky.

"Well, yes,—that is, I meant to say, she came to me, and I received her; that is what I wish to have an explanation about with you now, Feodor Ivanitch. I, thank God, have won universal respect, I may say, and I would not do anything improper for all the world. Although I foresaw that it would be disagreeable to you, still, I could not make up my mind to refuse her, Feodor Ivanitch; she is my relative—through you: put yourself in my place—what right had I to turn her out of my house?—You agree with me?"

"There is no necessity for your agitating yourself, Marya Dmitrievna,"—returned Lavretzky: "you have behaved very well indeed; I am not in the least angry. I have not the slightest intention of depriving Varvara Pavlovna of the right to see her acquaintances; I only refrained from entering your apartments to-day because I wished to avoid meeting her,—that was all."

"Akh, how delighted I am to hear that from you, Feodor Ivanitch,"—exclaimed Marya Dmitrievna:—"however, I always expected this from your noble sentiments. But that I should feel agitated, is not wonderful: I am a woman and a mother. And your wife ... of course, I cannot judge between her and you—I told her so myself; but she is such an amiable lady, that she cannot cause anything but pleasure."

Lavretzky laughed, and played with his hat.

"And this is what I wished to say to you, Feodor Ivanitch,"—went on Marya Dmitrievna, moving a little nearer to him:—"if you had only seen how modestly, how respectfully she behaves!—Really, it is touching. But if you had heard how she speaks of you! 'I am wholly culpable with regard to him,' she says; 'I did not know how to appreciate him,' she says; 'he is an angel,' she says, 'not a man.' Truly, she did say that, 'an angel.' She is so penitent.... I never beheld such penitence, I give you my word!"

"Well, Marya Dmitrievna,"—said Lavretzky:—"permit me to ask you a question: I am told that Varvara Pavlovna has been singing for you; did she sing during her repentance—or how?"...

"Akh, aren't you ashamed to talk like that! She sang and played merely with the object of giving me pleasure, because I begged, almost commanded her to do so. I perceive that she is distressed—so distressed, I wonder how I can divert her. And I had heard that she had such a fine talent.—Upon my word, Feodor Ivanitch, she is a completely crushed, overwhelmed woman—ask Sergyei Petrovitch if she is not, tout a fait,—what have you to say to that?"

Lavretzky simply shrugged his shoulders.

"And then, what a little angel that Ada of your is, what a darling!—How pretty she is, how clever! how well she talks French; and she understands Russian—she called me tyotenka [aunty]. And do you know, as for being shy, like nearly all children of her age,—there is no shyness about her. She is awfully like you, Feodor Ivanitch. Her eyes, her brows ... well, she's you all over again, your perfect image. I am not very fond of such small children, I must confess; but I have simply lost my heart to your little daughter."

"Marya Dmitrievna,"—exclaimed Lavretzky, suddenly:—"allow me to ask you why you are pleased to say all this to me?"

"Why?"—again Marya Dmitrievna sniffed at her eau de Cologne, and sipped her water:—"I say it, Feodor Ivanitch, because ... you see, I am a relative, I take the closest interest in you.... I know that you have the very kindest of hearts. Hearken to me, mon cousin,—I am a woman of experience, and I am not talking at random: forgive, forgive your wife."—Marya Dmitrievna's eyes suddenly filled with tears.—"Reflect: youth, inexperience ... well, perhaps, a bad example—she had not the sort of a mother who might have put her on the right road. Forgive her, Feodor Ivanitch; she has been sufficiently punished."

Tears trickled down Marya Dmitrievna's cheeks; she did not wipe them away: she loved to weep. Lavretzky sat as on hot coals. "My God,"—he thought,—"what sort of torture, what sort of a day has fallen to my lot!"

"You do not answer,"—began Marya Dmitrievna again:—"what am I to understand by that?—is it possible that you can be so cruel? No, I will not believe that. I feel that my words have convinced you. Feodor Ivanitch, God will reward you for your kindness of heart, and you will now receive your wife from my hands...."

Lavretzky involuntarily rose from his chair; Marya Dmitrievna also rose, and stepping briskly behind a screen, led forth Varvara Pavlovna. Pale, half-fainting, with eyes cast down, she seemed to have renounced every thought, every impulse of her own—to have placed herself wholly in the hands of Marya Dmitrievna.

Lavretzky retreated a pace.

"You were here?"—he exclaimed.

"Do not blame her,"—said Marya Dmitrievna, hastily;—"she did not wish to remain on any account whatever, but I ordered her to stay, and placed her there behind the screen. She assured me that it would only make you more angry; but I would not listen to her; I know you better than she does. Receive your wife from my hands; go, Varya, be not afraid, fall at your husband's feet" (she tugged at her hand)—"and my blessing on you!..."

"Wait, Marya Dmitrievna,"—Lavretzky interrupted her, in a dull, but quivering voice:—"you are, probably, fond of sentimental scenes," (Lavretzky was not mistaken: Marya Dmitrievna had retained from her boarding-school days a passion for a certain theatricalness); "they amuse you; but others suffer from them. However, I will not discuss the matter with you; in this scene you are not the principal actor. What do you want of me, madam?"—he added, addressing his wife. "Have not I done for you all that I could? Do not retort, that you have not plotted this meeting; I shall not believe you,—and you know that I cannot believe you. What, then, do you want? You are clever,—you never do anything without an object. You must understand that I am not capable of living with you as I used to live; not because I am angry with you, but because I have become a different man. I told you that on the day after your return, and you yourself, at that moment, acquiesced with me in your own soul. But you wish to reinstate yourself in public opinion; it is not enough for you to live in my house, you want to live under one roof with me,—is not that the truth?"

"I want you to forgive me,"—said Varvara Pavlovna, without raising her eyes.

"She wants you to forgive her,"—repeated Marya Dmitrievna.

"And not for my own sake, but for Ada's,"—whispered Varvara Pavlovna.

"Not for her sake, but for Ada's,"—repeated Marya Dmitrievna.

"Very good. You wish that?"—ejaculated Lavretzky, with an effort. "As you like, I agree to that."

Varvara Pavlovna cast a swift glance at him, and Marya Dmitrievna cried out:—"Well, God be praised"—and again tugged at Varvara Pavlovna's hand. "Now receive from me...."

"Wait, I tell you,"—Lavretzky interrupted her. "I consent to live with you, Varvara Pavlovna,"—he continued:—"That is to say, I will take you to Lavriki, and I will live with you as long as my strength holds out, and then I shall go away,—and return now and then. You see, I do not wish to deceive you; but do not demand anything more. You yourself would smile, were I to comply with the desire of your respected relative, and press you to my heart, and assure you that ... there had been no past, that the felled tree could burst into blossom once more. But I perceive that I must submit. You will not understand that word; ... it matters not. I repeat, I will live with you ... or, no, I cannot promise that ... I will join you, I will regard you again as my wife...."

"But give her your hand on that, at least,"—said Marya Dmitrievna, whose tears were long since dried up.

"Up to the present moment, I have not deceived Varvara Pavlovna,"—returned Lavretzky;—"she will believe me as it is. I will take her to Lavriki;—and recollect, Varvara Pavlovna: our compact will be regarded as broken just as soon as you leave that place. And now, permit me to withdraw."

He bowed to both ladies, and hastily quitted the room.

"You are not taking her with you,"—called Marya Dmitrievna after him.... "Let him alone,"—Varvara Pavlovna whispered to her, and immediately threw her arms round her, began to utter thanks, to kiss her hands, and to call her her saviour.

Marya Dmitrievna accepted her caresses with condescension; but in her secret soul she was pleased neither with Lavretzky nor with Varvara Pavlovna, nor with the whole scene which she had planned. There had turned out to be very little sentimentality; Varvara Pavlovna, in her opinion, should have flung herself at her husband's feet.

"How was it that you did not understand me?"—she commented:—"why, I told you: 'fall at his feet.'"

"It was better thus, dear aunty; do not disturb yourself—everything is all right,"—insisted Varvara Pavlovna.

"Well, and he is as cold as ice,"—remarked Marya Dmitrievna. "Even if you did not weep, why, I fairly overflowed before him. He means to shut you up in Lavriki. The idea,—and you cannot even come to see me! All men are unfeeling,"—she said, in conclusion, and shook her head significantly.

"On the other hand, women know how to value kindness and magnanimity,"—said Varvara Pavlovna, and softly dropping on her knees before Marya Dmitrievna, she embraced the latter's corpulent form with her arms, and pressed her face against her. That face wore a quiet smile, but Marya Dmitrievna's tears were flowing again.

And Lavretzky went home, locked himself up in his valet's room, flung himself on the divan, and lay there until the morning.


The next day was Sunday. The chiming of the bells for the early Liturgy did not awaken Lavretzky—he had not closed an eye all night long—but it did remind him of another Sunday, when, at the wish of Liza, he had gone to church. He hastily rose; a certain secret voice told him that he would see her there again to-day. He noiselessly quitted the house, ordered Varvara Pavlovna to be informed that he would return to dinner, and with great strides wended his way thither, whither the monotonously-mournful chiming summoned him. He arrived early: there was hardly any one in the church; a chanter in the choir was reading the Hours; his voice, occasionally broken by a cough, boomed on in measured cadence, now rising, now falling. Lavretzky took up his stand not far from the entrance. The prayerfully inclined arrived one by one, paused, crossed themselves, bowed on all sides; their footsteps resounded in the emptiness and silence, distinctly re-echoing from the arches overhead. A decrepit little old woman, in an ancient hooded cloak, knelt down beside Lavretzky, and began to pray assiduously; her yellow, toothless, wrinkled face expressed intense emotion; her red eyes gazed fixedly upward at the holy picture on the ikonostasis; her bony hand kept incessantly emerging from under her cloak, and slowly but vigorously made a great, sweeping sign of the cross. A peasant, with a thick beard and a surly face, tousled and dishevelled, entered the church, went down at once on both knees, and immediately set to crossing himself, hastily flinging back his head and shaking it after every prostration. Such bitter woe was depicted on his countenance, and in all his movements, that Lavretzky made up his mind to approach and ask him what was the matter. The peasant started back timidly and roughly, and looked at him.... "My son is dead,"—he said, in hasty accents—and again began to prostrate himself to the floor. "What can take the place, for them, of the consolation of the church?"—Lavretzky thought,—and tried to pray himself; but his heart had grown heavy and hard, and his thoughts were far away. He was still expecting Liza—but Liza did not come. The church began to fill with people; still she did not come. The Liturgy began, the deacon had already read the Gospel, the bell had pealed for the hymn "Worthy"; Lavretzky moved a little,—and suddenly caught sight of Liza. She had arrived before him, but he had not descried her; crowded into the space between the wall and the choir, she neither glanced around nor moved. Lavretzky did not take his eyes from her until the very end of the Liturgy: he was bidding her farewell. The congregation began to disperse, but she still stood on; she seemed to be awaiting Lavretzky's departure. At last, she crossed herself for the last time, and went away, without looking round; she had only a maid with her. Lavretzky followed her out of the church, and overtook her in the street; she was walking very rapidly, with her head bowed and her veil lowered over her face.

"Good morning, Lizaveta Mikhailovna,"—said he, loudly, with forced ease:—"may I accompany you?"

She said nothing; he walked along by her side.

"Are you satisfied with me?"—he asked her, lowering his voice.—"You have heard what took place last night?"

"Yes, yes,"—she said in a whisper:—"you did well."

And she walked on faster than ever.

"You are satisfied?"

Liza only nodded her head.

"Feodor Ivanitch,"—she began, in a composed, but weak voice:—"I have wanted to ask you: do not come to our house again; go away as speedily as possible; we can see each other later on,—sometime, a year hence. But now, do this for me; comply with my request, for God's sake."

"I am ready to obey you in all things, Lizaveta Mikhailovna; but is it possible that we are to part thus? will you not say a single word to me?"

"Feodor Ivanitch, here you are now, walking by my side. But you are already far away from me. And not you alone, but also...."

"Finish, I entreat you!"—exclaimed Lavretzky:—"what is it that you mean to say?"

"You will hear, perhaps ... but whatever happens, forget ... no, do not forget me,—remember me."

"I forget you!..."

"Enough; farewell. Do not follow me."

"Liza ..."—Lavretzky was beginning.

"Farewell, farewell!"—she repeated, dropped her veil still lower, and advanced almost at a run.

Lavretzky gazed after her, and dropping his head, went back down the street. He hit upon Lemm, who was also walking along, with his hat pulled down on his nose, and staring at the ground under his feet.

They stared at each other in silence.

"Well, what have you to say?"—said Lavretzky at last.

"What have I to say?"—returned Lemm surlily:—"I have nothing to say. Everything is dead, and we are dead. (Alles ist todt und wir sind todt.) You are going to the right, I think?"


"Then I go to the left. Good-bye."

On the following morning, Feodor Ivanitch and his wife set out for Lavriki. She drove in front, in the carriage, with Ada and Justine; he came behind, in his tarantas. The pretty little girl never quitted the carriage-window during the whole journey; she was surprised at everything: at the peasants, the peasant women, the wells, the shaft-arches, the carriage-bells, at the multitude of jackdaws; Justine shared her surprise. Varvara Pavlovna laughed at their comments and exclamations.... She was in high spirits; before their departure from the town of O * * * she had had an explanation with her husband.

"I understand your position,"—she had said to him,—and he, from the expression of her clever eyes, was able to conclude that she did fully understand his position,—"but you must do me the justice, at least, to say that I am easy to live with; I shall not obtrude myself upon you, embarrass you; I wanted to assure Ada's future. I need nothing further."

"Yes, and you have attained your object,"—said Feodor Ivanitch.

"My sole idea now is to shut myself up in the wilds; I shall forever remember your good deed in my prayers...."

"Faugh!... enough of that,"—he interrupted her.

"And I shall know how to respect your independence, and your repose,"—she completed her phrase, which she had prepared in advance.

Lavretzky had made her a low bow. Varvara Pavlovna understood that her husband, in his soul, was grateful to her.

On the second day, toward the evening, they reached Lavriki; a week later, Lavretzky set off for Moscow, leaving his wife five thousand rubles for her expenses—and the day after Lavretzky's departure, Panshin, whom Varvara Pavlovna had begged not to forget her in her isolation, made his appearance. She gave him the warmest sort of a welcome, and until late into the night the lofty rooms of the house and the very garden rang with the sounds of music, singing, and merry French speeches. Panshin visited Varvara Pavlovna for three days; when he took leave of her, and warmly pressed her beautiful hands, he promised to return very soon—and he kept his promise.


[13] That is—they figuratively begged the pardon of all whom they might have offended, before entering on the Church service. The officiating priest does the same.—Translator.

[14] "Worthy and right is it, to bow down to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, to the Trinity, consubstantial and indivisible"—at a very solemn point, and quite late in the Liturgy.—Translator.


Liza had a separate little room, on the second story of her mother's house, small, clean, bright, with a white bed, pots of flowers in the corners and in front of the holy pictures, with a tiny writing-table, a case of books, and a crucifix on the wall. This little chamber was called the nursery; Liza had been born in it. On returning to it from church, where she had seen Lavretzky, she put everything in order, even more carefully than usual, wiped the dust off everything, looked over and tied up with ribbons her note-books and the letters of her friends, locked all the drawers, watered the plants, and touched every flower with her hand. She did all this without haste, without noise, with a certain touched and tranquil solicitude on her face. She halted, at last, in the middle of the room, slowly looked around her, and stepping up to the table over which hung the crucifix, she knelt down, laid her head on her clasped hands, and remained motionless.

Marfa Timofeevna entered, and found her in this position. Liza did not notice her entrance. The old woman went outside the door, on tiptoe, and gave vent to several loud coughs. Liza rose quickly to her feet, and wiped her eyes, in which glittered clear tears which had not fallen.

"I see that thou hast been arranging thy little cell again,"—said Marfa Timofeevna, and bent low over a pot containing a young rose-bush:—"what a splendid perfume it has!"

Liza gazed thoughtfully at her aunt.

"What a word you have uttered!"—she whispered.

"What sort of a word, what word?"—interposed the old woman, vivaciously;—"what dost thou mean?—This is dreadful,"—she said, suddenly tearing off her cap, and seating herself on Liza's bed:—"this is beyond my strength! today is the fourth day that I seem to be seething in a kettle; I can no longer pretend that I notice nothing,—I cannot see thee growing pale, withering away, weeping,—I cannot, I cannot!"

"Why, what is the matter with you, aunty?"—said Liza:—"I am all right...."

"All right?"—exclaimed Marfa Timofeevna:—"tell that to others, but not to me! All right! But who was it that was on her knees just now? whose eyelashes are still wet with tears? All right! Why, look at thyself, what hast thou done to thy face, what has become of thine eyes?—All right! As though I did not know all!"

"It will pass off, aunty; give me time."

"It will pass off, but when? O Lord God, my Master! is it possible that thou didst love him so? why, he is an old man, Lizotchka. Well, I do not dispute that he is a good man, he does not bite; but what does that signify? we are all good people: the world is large, there will always be plenty of that sort."

"I tell you, that it will all pass off, it is all over already."

"Listen, Lizotchka, to what I have to say to thee,"—said Marfa Timofeevna, suddenly, making Liza sit down beside her on the bed, and adjusting now her hair, now her kerchief.—"It only seems to you, while it is fresh, that your grief is beyond remedy. Ekh, my darling, for death alone there is no remedy! Only say to thyself: 'I won't give in—so there now!' and afterward thou wilt be amazed thyself—how soon, how well, it will pass off. Only have patience."

"Aunty,"—replied Liza:—"it is already past, all is over already."

"Past—over—forsooth! Why, even thy little nose has grown pointed, and thou sayest: 'It is over—it is over!'"

"Yes, it is over, aunty, if you will only help me,"—cried Liza, with sudden animation, and threw herself on Marfa Timofeevna's neck.—"Dear aunty, be my friend, help me; do not be angry, understand me."

"Why, what is this, what is this, my mother? Don't frighten me, please; I shall scream in another minute; don't look at me like that: tell me quickly what thou meanest?"

"I ... I want ..." Liza hid her face in Marfa Timofeevna's bosom.... "I want to enter a convent,"—she said, in a dull tone.

The old woman fairly leaped on the bed.

"Cross thyself, my mother, Lizotchka; come to thy senses: God be with thee, what dost thou mean?"—she stammered at last: "lie down, my darling, sleep a little: this comes from lack of sleep, my dear."

Liza raised her head, her cheeks were burning.

"No, aunty,"—she articulated, "do not speak like that. I have made up my mind, I have prayed, I have asked counsel of God; all is ended, my life with you is ended. Such a lesson is not in vain; and it is not the first time I have thought of this. Happiness was not suited to me; even when I cherished hopes of happiness, my heart was always heavy. I know everything, my own sins and the sins of others, and how papa acquired his wealth; I know everything. All that must be atoned for by prayer—atoned for by prayer. I am sorry for all of you—I am sorry for mamma, for Lyenotchka; but there is no help for it; I feel that I cannot live here; I have already taken leave of everything, I have made my reverence to everything in the house for the last time; something is calling me hence; I am weary; I want to shut myself up forever. Do not hold me back, do not dissuade me; help me, or I will go away alone."

Marfa Timofeevna listened in terror to her niece.

"She is ill, she is raving,"—she thought:—"I must send for a doctor; but for which? Gedeonovsky was praising some one the other day; he's always lying,—but, perhaps, he told the truth that time." But when she became convinced that Liza was not ill, and was not raving, when to all her objections Liza steadfastly made one and the same reply, Marfa Timofeevna became seriously frightened and grieved.—"But thou dost not know, my darling,"—she began to try to prevail upon her;—"what sort of a life they lead in convents! Why, my own one, they will feed thee with green hemp-oil; they will put on thee coarse, awfully coarse linen; they will make thee go about cold; thou canst not endure all that, Lizotchka. All that is the traces of Agafya in thee; it was she who led thee astray. Why, she began by living her life, living a gay life; do thou live thy life also. Let me, at least, die in peace, and then do what thou wilt. And who ever heard of any one going into a convent, all on account of such a goat's beard—the Lord forgive me!—on account of a man? Come, if thy heart is so heavy, go away on a journey, pray to a saint, have a prayer-service said, but don't put the black cowl on thy head, my dear little father, my dear little mother...."

And Marfa Timofeevna began to weep bitterly.

Liza comforted her, wiped away her tears, but remained inflexible. In her despair, Marfa Timofeevna tried to resort to threats: she would tell Liza's mother everything; but even that was of no avail. Only as a concession to the old woman's urgent entreaties, did Liza consent to defer the fulfilment of her intention for six months; in return, Marfa Timofeevna was compelled to give her her word that she would help her, and obtain the permission of Marya Dmitrievna if, at the end of six months, she had not changed her mind.

* * * * *

With the advent of the first cold weather, Varvara Pavlovna, despite her promise to shut herself up in the depths of the country, after providing herself with money, removed to Petersburg, where she hired a modest but pretty apartment, which had been found for her by Panshin, who had quitted the Government of O * * * before her. During the latter part of his sojourn in O * * * he had completely fallen out of favour with Marya Dmitrievna; he had suddenly ceased to call upon her and hardly ever quitted Lavriki. Varvara Pavlovna had enslaved him, precisely that,—enslaved him; no other word will express her unlimited, irrevocable, irresponsible power over him.

Lavretzky passed the winter in Moscow, but in the spring of the following year the news reached him that Liza had entered the B * * * convent, in one of the most remote corners of Russia.


Eight years have passed. Spring has come again.... But first, let us say a few words about the fate of Mikhalevitch, Panshin, Mme. Lavretzky—and take our leave of them. Mikhalevitch, after long peregrinations, has finally hit upon his real vocation: he has obtained the post of head inspector in a government institution. He is very well satisfied with his lot, and his pupils "adore" him, although they mimic him. Panshin has advanced greatly in rank, and already has a directorship in view; he walks with his back somewhat bent: it must be the cross of the Order of Vladimir, which has been conferred upon him, that drags him forward. The official in him has, decidedly, carried the day over the artist; his still youthful face has turned quite yellow, his hair has grown thin, and he no longer sings or draws, but secretly occupies himself with literature: he has written a little comedy, in the nature of "a proverb,"—and, as every one who writes nowadays "shows up" some one or something, he has shown up in it a coquette, and he reads it surreptitiously to two or three ladies who are favourably disposed toward him. But he has not married, although many fine opportunities of so doing have presented themselves: for this Varvara Pavlovna is responsible. As for her, she lives uninterruptedly in Paris, as of yore: Feodor Ivanitch has given her a bill of exchange on himself, and bought himself free from her,—from the possibility of a second, unexpected invasion. She has grown old and fat, but it is still pretty and elegant. Every person has his own ideal: Varvara Pavlovna has found hers—in the dramatic productions of Dumas fils. She assiduously frequents the theatre where consumptive and sentimental ladies of the frail class are put on the stage; to be Mme. Doche seems to her the very apex of human felicity; one day, she declared that she desired no better lot for her daughter. It is to be hoped that fate will deliver Mademoiselle Ada from such felicity: from a rosy, plump child, she has turned into a weak-chested, pale-faced young girl; her nerves are already deranged. The number of Varvara Pavlovna's admirers has decreased; but they have not transferred their allegiance: she will, in all probability, retain several of them to the end of her life. The most ardent of them, of late, has been a certain Zakurdalo-Skubyrnikoff, one of the retired dandies of the Guards, a man of eight and thirty, of remarkably robust build. The Frenchmen who frequent Mme. Lavretzky's salon call him "le gros taureau de l'Ukraine"; Varvara Pavlovna never invites him to her fashionable evening gatherings, but he enjoys her favour in the fullest measure.

So ... eight years have passed. Again the sky is breathing forth the beaming happiness of spring; again it is smiling upon the earth and upon men; again, beneath its caress, everything has burst into blossom, into love and song. The town of O * * * has undergone very little change in the course of those eight years; but Marya Dmitrievna's house seems to have grown young: its recently painted walls shine as in welcome, and the panes of the open windows are crimsoning and glittering in the rays of the setting sun. Through these windows, out upon the street, are wafted the sounds of ringing young voices, of incessant laughter; the whole house seems bubbling with life, and overflowing the brim with merriment. The mistress of the house herself has long since gone to her grave: Marya Dmitrievna died two years after Liza's profession as a nun; and Marfa Timofeevna did not long survive her niece; they rest side by side in the town cemetery. Nastasya Karpovna, also, is dead; the faithful old woman went, every week, for the space of several years, to pray over the ashes of her friend.... Her time came, and her bones also were laid in the damp earth. But Marya Dmitrievna's house has not passed into the hands of strangers, has not left her family; the nest has not been destroyed: Lyenotchka, who has become a stately, beautiful young girl, and her betrothed, a fair-haired officer of hussars; Marya Dmitrievna's son, who has just been married in Petersburg, and has come with his young wife to spend the spring in O * * *; his wife's sister, an Institute-girl of sixteen, with brilliantly scarlet cheeks and clear eyes; Schurotchka, who has also grown up and become pretty—these are the young folks who are making the walls of the Kalitin house re-echo with laughter and chatter. Everything about it has been changed, everything has been brought into accord with the new inhabitants. Beardless young house-servants, who grin and jest, have taken the places of the former sedate old servitors; where overgrown Roska was wont to stroll, two setters are chasing madly about, and leaping over the divans; the stable has been filled with clean-limbed amblers, high-spirited shaft-horses, fiery trace-horses with braided manes, and riding-horses from the Don; the hours for breakfast, dinner, and supper have become mixed up and confused; according to the expression of the neighbours, "an unprecedented state of affairs" has been established.

On the evening of which we are speaking, the inhabitants of the Kalitin house (the oldest of them, Lyenotchka's betrothed, was only four and twenty) were engaged in a far from complicated, but, judging from their vigorous laughter, a very amusing game: they were running through the rooms, and catching each other; the dogs, also, were running and barking, and the canaries which hung in cages in front of the windows vied with each other in singing at the tops of their voices, increasing the uproar of ringing volleys of noise with their furious chirping. While this deafening diversion was at its very height, a mud-stained tarantas drove up to the gate, and a man of forty-five, clad in travelling garb, descended from it, and stopped short in amazement. He stood motionless for some time, swept an attentive glance over the house, passed through the gate into the yard, and slowly ascended the steps. There was no one in the anteroom to receive him; but the door of the "hall" flew wide open; through it, all flushed, bounced Schurotchka, and instantly, in pursuit of her, with ringing laughter, rushed the whole youthful band. She came to a sudden halt and fell silent at the sight of the stranger; but the clear eyes fastened upon him were as caressing as ever, the fresh faces did not cease to smile. Marya Dmitrievna's son stepped up to the visitor, and courteously asked him what he wished.

"I am Lavretzky,"—said the visitor.

A vigorous shout rang out in response—and not because all these young people were so extremely delighted at the arrival of the distant, almost forgotten relative, but simply because they were ready to make an uproar and rejoice on every convenient opportunity. They immediately surrounded Lavretzky: Lyenotchka, in the quality of an old acquaintance, was the first to introduce herself, and to assure him that, in another moment, she certainly would have recognised him, and then she presented all the rest of the company, calling each one of them, including her betrothed, by his pet name. The whole throng moved through the dining-room to the drawing-room. The hangings in both rooms were different, but the furniture remained the same; Lavretzky recognised the piano; even the same embroidery-frame was standing in the window, in the same position—and almost with the same unfinished bit of embroidery as eight years previously. They made him sit down in a comfortable easy-chair; all seated themselves decorously around him. Questions, exclamations, stories showered down without cessation.

"But it is a long time since we have seen you,"—remarked Lyenotchka, ingenuously:—"and we have not seen Varvara Pavlovna either."

"I should think so!"—interposed her brother, hurriedly. "I carried thee off to Petersburg, but Feodor Ivanitch lived in the country all the time."

"Yes, and mamma has died since, you know."

"And Marfa Timofeevna,"—said Schurotchka.

"And Nastasya Karpovna,"—rejoined Lyenotchka.—"And M'sieu Lemm...."

"What? And is Lemm dead also?"—asked Lavretzky.

"Yes,"—replied young Kalitin:—"he went away from here to Odessa—they say that some one decoyed him thither; and there he died."

"You do not know—whether he left any music behind him?"

"I don't know,—it is hardly probable."

All fell silent, and exchanged glances. A cloud of sadness had descended upon all the young faces.

"And Matroska is alive,"—suddenly remarked Lyenotchka.

"And Gedeonovsky is alive,"—added her brother.

At the name of Gedeonovsky a vigorous peal of laughter rang out in unison.

"Yes, he is alive, and lies just as he always did,"—went on Marya Dmitrievna's son:—"and just imagine, that naughty child there" (and he pointed at his wife's sister, the Institute-girl) "put pepper in his snuff-box yesterday."

"How he did sneeze!" exclaimed Lyenotehka:—and again a peal of irrepressible laughter rang out.

"We received news of Liza recently,"—said young Kalitin,—and again everything grew still round about:—"things are well with her,—her health is now improving somewhat."

"Is she still in the same convent?"—asked Lavretzky, not without an effort.

"Yes, still in the same place."

"Does she write to you?"

"No, never; the news reaches us through other people."—A sudden, profound silence ensued. "The angel of silence has flown past," all said to themselves.

"Would not you like to go into the garden?"—Kalitin turned to Lavretzky:—"it is very pretty now, although we have rather neglected it."

Lavretzky went out into the garden, and the first thing that struck his eyes was the bench on which he had once spent with Liza a few happy moments, never to be repeated; it had grown black and crooked; but he recognised it, and his soul was seized by that feeling which has no peer in sweetness and in sorrow,—the feeling of living grief for vanished youth, for happiness which it once possessed. In company with the young people, he strolled through the alleys: the linden-trees had not grown much older and taller during the last eight years, but their shade had become more dense; on the other hand, all the shrubs had sprung upward, the raspberry-bushes had waxed strong, the hazel copse had become entirely impenetrable, and everywhere there was an odour of thickets, forest, grass, and lilacs.

"What a good place this would be to play at puss-in-the-corner,"—suddenly cried Lyenotchka, as they entered a small, verdant glade, hemmed in by lindens:—"by the way, there are five of us."

"And hast thou forgotten Feodor Ivanitch?"—her brother observed to her.... "Or art thou not reckoning in thyself?"

Lyenotchka blushed faintly.

"But is it possible that Feodor Ivanitch, at his age, can..."—she began.

"Please play,"—interposed Lavretzky, hastily:—"pay no heed to me. It will be all the more agreeable to me if I know that I am not embarrassing you. And there is no need for you to bother about me; we old fellows have occupations of which you, as yet, know nothing, and which no diversion can replace: memories."

The young people listened to Lavretzky with courteous and almost mocking respect,—exactly as though their teacher were reading them a lesson,—and suddenly all of them flew away from him, and ran over the glade; four of them took up their stand near the trees, one stood in the centre,—and the fun began.

But Lavretzky returned to the house, went into the dining-room, approached the piano, and touched one of the keys: a faint, but pure sound rang out, and secretly trembled in his heart: with that note began that inspired melody wherewith, long ago, on that same blissful night, Lemm, the dead Lemm, had led him to such raptures. Then Lavretzky passed into the drawing-room, and did not emerge from it for a long time: in that room, where he had so often seen Liza, her image rose up before him more vividly than ever; it seemed to him, that he felt around him the traces of her presence; but his grief for her was exhausting and not light: there was in it none of the tranquillity which death inspires. Liza was still living somewhere, dully, far away; he thought of her as among the living, but did not recognise the young girl whom he had once loved in that pale spectre swathed in the conventual garment, surrounded by smoky clouds of incense. Lavretzky would not have recognised himself, had he been able to contemplate himself as he mentally contemplated Liza. In the course of those eight years the crisis had, at last, been effected in his life; that crisis which many do not experience, but without which it is not possible to remain an honourable man to the end: he had really ceased to think of his own happiness, of selfish aims. He had calmed down, and—why should the truth be concealed?—he had aged, not alone in face and body, he had aged in soul; to preserve the heart youthful to old age, as some say, is difficult, and almost absurd: he may feel content who has not lost faith in good, steadfastness of will, desire for activity.... Lavretzky had a right to feel satisfied: he had become a really fine agriculturist, he had really learned to till the soil, and he had toiled not for himself alone; in so far as he had been able, he had freed from care and established on a firm foundation the existence of his serfs.

Lavretzky emerged from the house into the garden: he seated himself on the familiar bench—and in that dear spot, in the face of the house, where he had, on the last occasion, stretched out his hands in vain to the fatal cup in which seethes and sparkles the wine of delight,—he, a solitary, homeless wanderer,—to the sounds of the merry cries of the younger generation which had already superseded him,—took a survey of his life. His heart was sad, but not heavy and not very sorrowful: he had nothing which he had need to regret or be ashamed of. "Play on, make merry, grow on, young forces,"—he thought, and there was no bitterness in his meditations:—"life lies before you, and it will be easier for you to live: you will not be compelled, as we have been, to seek your road, to struggle, to fall, and to rise to your feet again amid the gloom; we have given ourselves great trouble, that we might remain whole,—and how many of us have failed in that!—but you must do deeds, work,—and the blessing of old fellows like me be upon you. But all that remains for me, after to-day, after these emotions, is to make my final reverence to you, and, although with sadness, yet without envy, without any dark feelings, to say, in view of the end, in view of God who is awaiting me: 'Long live solitary old age! Burn thyself out, useless life!'"

Lavretzky rose softly, and softly went away; no one noticed him, no one detained him; the merry cries resounded more loudly than ever in the garden behind the green, dense wall of lofty lindens. He seated himself in his tarantas, and ordered the coachman to drive home, and not to press the horses hard.

* * * * *

"And the end?" perchance some dissatisfied reader will say. "And what became of Lavretzky? of Liza?" But what can one say about people who are still alive, but who have already departed from the earthly arena,—why revert to them? They say that Lavretzky paid a visit to that distant convent where Liza had hidden herself—and saw her. In going from one choir to the other, she passed close to him—passed with the even, hurriedly-submissive gait of a nun—and did not cast a glance at him; only the lashes of the eye which was turned toward him trembled almost imperceptibly, and her haggard face was bowed a little lower than usual—and the fingers of her clasped hands, interlaced with her rosary, were pressed more tightly to one another. What did they both think,—what did they both feel? Who knows? Who shall say? There are moments in life, there are feelings ... we can only indicate them,—and pass by.


[15] The trotter as shaft-horse, and the galloping side-horses of a troika.—Translator.


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