A House of Gentlefolk
by Ivan Turgenev
List of Characters
MARYA DMITRIEVNA KALITIN, a widow.
MARFA TIMOFYEVNA PESTOV, her aunt.
SERGET PETROVITCH GEDEONOVSKY, a state councillor.
FEDOR (pr. Fyódor) IVANITCH LAVRETSKY, kinsman of Marya.
ELISAVETA MIHALOVNA (LISA) LENOTCHKA, daughters of Marya.
SHUROTCHKA, an orphan girl, ward of Marfa.
NASTASYA KARPOVNA OGARKOFF, dependant of Marfa.
VLADIMIR NIKOLAITCH PANSHIN, of the Ministry of the Interior.
CHRISTOPHER FEDORITCH LEMM, a German musician.
PIOTR ANDREITCH LAVRETSKY, grandfather of Fedor.
ANNA PAVLOVNA, grandmother of Fedor.
IVAN PETROVITCH, father of Fedor.
GLAFIRA PETROVNA, aunt of Fedor.
MALANYA SERGYEVNA, mother of Fedor.
MIHALEVITCH, a student friend of Fedor.
PAVEL PETROVITCH KOROBYIN, father of Varvara.
KALLIOPA KARLOVNA, mother of Varvara.
VARVARA PAVLOVNA, wife of Fedor.
ANTON APRAXYA, old servants of Fedor.
AGAFYA VLASYEVNA, nurse of Lisa.
A BRIGHT spring day was fading into evening. High overhead in the
clear heavens small rosy clouds seemed hardly to move across the sky
but to be sinking into its depths of blue.
In a handsome house in one of the outlying streets of the
government town of O-- (it was in the year 1842) two women were sitting
at an open window; one was about fifty, the other an old lady of
The name of the former was Marya Dmitrievna Kalitin. Her husband, a
shrewd determined man of obstinate bilious temperament, had been dead
for ten years. He had been a provincial public prosecutor, noted in his
own day as a successful man of business. He had received a fair
education and had been to the university; but having been born in
narrow circumstances he realised early in life the necessity of pushing
his own way in the world and making money. It had been a love-match on
Marya Dmitrievna's side. He was not bad-looking, was clever and could
be very agreeable when he chose. Marya Dmitrievna Pestov-that was her
maiden name-had lost her parents in childhood. She spent some years in
a boarding-school in Moscow, and after leaving school, lived on the
family estate of Pokrovskoe, about forty miles from O--, with her aunt
and her elder brother. This brother soon after obtained a post in
Petersburg, and made them a scanty allowance. He treated his aunt and
sister very shabbily till his sudden death cut short his career. Marya
Dmitrievna inherited Pokrovskoe, but she did not live there long. Two
years after her marriage with Kalitin, who succeeded in winning her
heart in a few days, Pokrovskoe was exchanged for another estate, which
yielded a much larger income, but was utterly unattractive and had no
house. At the same time Kalitin took a house in the town of O--, in
which he and his wife took up their permanent abode. There was a large
garden round the house, which on one side looked out upon the open
country away from the town.
'And so,' decided Kalitin, who had a great distaste for the quiet
of country life, 'there would be no need for them to he dragging
themselves off into the country.' In her heart Marya Dmitrievna more
than once regretted her pretty Pokrovskoe, with its babbling brook, its
wide meadows, and green copses; but she never opposed her husband in
anything and had the greatest veneration for his wisdom and knowledge
of the world. When after fifteen years of married life he died leaving
her with a son and two daughters, Marya Dmitrievna had grown so
accustomed to her house and to town life that she had no inclination to
In her youth Marya Dmitrievna had always been spoken of as a pretty
blonde; and at fifty her features had not lost all charm, though they
were somewhat coarser and less delicate in outline. She was more
sentimental than kind-hearted; and even at her mature age, she retained
the manners of the boarding-school. She was self-indulgent and easily
put out, even moved to tears when she was crossed in any of her habits.
She was, however, very sweet and agreeable when all her wishes were
carried out and none opposed her. Her house was among the pleasantest
in the town. She had a considerable fortune, not so much from her own
property as from her husband's savings. Her two daughters were living
with her; her son was being educated in one of the best government
schools in Petersburg.
The old lady sitting with Marya Dmitrievna at the window was her
father's sister, the same aunt with whom she had once spent some
solitary years in Pokrovskoe. Her name was Marfa Timofyevna Pestov. She
had a reputation for eccentricity as she was a woman of an independent
character, told every one the truth to his face, and even in the most
straitened circumstances behaved just as if she had a fortune at her
disposal. She could not endure Kalitin, and directly her niece married
him, she removed to her little property, where for ten whole years she
lived in a smoky peasants' hut. Marya Dmitrievna was a little afraid of
her. A little sharp-nosed woman with black hair and keen eyes even in
her old age, Marfa Timofyevna walked briskly, held herself upright and
spoke quickly and clearly in a sharp ringing voice. She always wore a
white cap and a white dressing-jacket.
'What's the matter with you?' she asked Marya Dmitrievna suddenly.
'What are you sighing about, pray?'
'Nothing,' answered the latter. 'What exquisite clouds!'
'You feel sorry for them, eh?'
Marya Dmitrievna made no reply.
'Why is it Gedeonovsky does not come?' observed Marfa Timofyevna,
moving her knitting needles quickly. (She was knitting a large woollen
scarf.) 'He would have sighed with you-or at least he'd have had some
fib to tell you.'
'How hard you always are on him! Sergei Petrovitch is a worthy
'Worthy!' repeated the old lady scornfully.
'And how devoted he was to my poor husband!' observed Marya
Dmitrievna; 'even now he cannot speak of him without emotion.'
'And no wonder! it was he who picked him out of the gutter,'
muttered Marfa Timofyevna, and her knitting needles moved faster than
'He looks so meek and mild,' she began again, 'with his grey head,
but he no sooner opens his mouth than out comes a lie or a slander. And
to think of his having the rank of a councillor! To be sure, though,
he's only a village priest's son.'
'Every one has faults, auntie; that is his weak point, no doubt.
Sergei Petrovitch has had no education: of course he does not speak
French, still, say what you like, he is an agreeable man.'
'Yes, he is always ready to kiss your hands. He does not speak
French-that's no great loss. I am not over strong in the French lingo
myself. It would be better if he could not speak at all; he would not
tell lies then. But here he is-speak of the devil,' added Marfa
Timofyevna looking into the street. 'Here comes your agreeable man
striding along. What a lanky creature he is, just like a stork!'
Marya Dmitrievna began to arrange her curls. Marfa Timofyevna
looked at her ironically.
'What's that, not a grey hair surely? You must speak to your
Palashka, what can she be thinking about?'
'Really, auntie, you are always so . . .' muttered Marya Dmitrievna
in a tone of vexation, drumming on the arm of her chair with her
'Sergei Petrovitch Gedeonovsky!' was announced in a shrill piping
voice, by a rosy-cheeked little page who made his appearance at the
A TALL man entered, wearing a tidy overcoat, rather short trousers,
grey doeskin gloves, and two neck-ties-a black one outside, and a white
one below it. There was an air of decorum and propriety in everything
about him, from his prosperous countenance and smoothly brushed hair,
to his low-heeled, noiseless boots. He bowed first to the lady of the
house, then to Marfa Timofyevna, and slowly drawing off his gloves, he
advanced to take Marya Dmitrievna's hand. After kissing it respectfully
twice he seated himself with deliberation in an arm-chair, and rubbing
the very tips of his fingers together, he observed with a smile-
'And is Elisaveta Mihalovna quite well?'
'Yes,' replied Marya Dmitrievna, 'she's in the garden.'
'And Elena Mihalovna?'
'Lenotchka's in the garden too. Is there no news?'
'There is indeed!' replied the visitor, slowly blinking his eyes
and pursing up his mouth. 'Hm! . . . yes, indeed, there is a piece of
news, and very surprising news too. Lavretsky-Fedor Ivanitch is here.'
'Fedya!' cried Marfa Timofyevna. 'Are you sure you are not
romancing, my good man?'
'No, indeed, I saw him myself.'
'Well, that does not prove it.'
'Fedor Ivanitch looked much more robust,' continued Gedeonovsky,
affecting not to have heard Marfa Timofyevna's last remark. 'Fedor
Ivanitch is broader and has quite a colour.'
'He looked more robust,' said Marya Dmitrievna, dwelling on each
syllable. 'I should have thought he had little enough to make him look
'Yes, indeed,' observed Gedeonovsky; 'any other man in Fedor
Ivanitch's position would have hesitated to appear in society.'
'Why so, pray?' interposed Marfa Timofyevna. 'What nonsense are you
talking! The man's come back to his home-where would you have him go?
And has he been to blame, I should like to know!'
'The husband is always to blame, madam, I venture to assure you,
when a wife misconducts herself.'
'You say that, my good sir, because you have never been married
yourself.' Gedeonovsky listened with a forced smile.
'If I may be so inquisitive,' he asked, after a short pause, 'for
whom is that pretty scarf intended?'
Marfa Timofyevna gave him a sharp look.
'It's intended,' she replied, 'for a man who does not talk scandal,
nor play the hypocrite, nor tell lies, if there's such a man to be
found in the world. I know Fedya well; he was only to blame in being
too good to his wife. To be sure, he married for love, and no good ever
comes of those love-matches,' added the old lady, with a sidelong
glance at Marya Dmitrievna, as she got up from her place. 'And now, my
good sir, you may attack any one you like, even me if you choose; I'm
going, I will not hinder you.' And Marfa Timofyevna walked away.
'That's always how she is,' said Marya Dmitrievna, following her
aunt with her eyes.
'We must remember your aunt's age . . . there's no help for it,'
replied Gedeonovsky. 'She spoke of a man not playing the hypocrite. But
who is not hypocritical nowadays? It's the age we live in. One of my
friends, a most worthy man, and, I assure you, a man of no mean
position, used to say, that nowadays the very hens can't pick up a
grain of corn without hypocrisy-they always approach it from one side.
But when I look at you, dear lady-your character is so truly angelic;
let me kiss your little snow-white hand!'
Marya Dmitrievna with a faint smile held out her plump hand to him
with the little finger held apart from the rest. He pressed his lips to
it, and she drew her chair nearer to him, and bending a little towards
him, asked in an undertone-
'So you saw him? Was he really-all right-quite well and cheerful?'
'Yes, he was well and cheerful,' replied Gedeonovsky in a whisper.
'You haven't heard where his wife is now?'
'She was lately in Paris; now, they say, she has gone away to
'It is terrible, indeed-Fedya's position; I wonder how he can bear
it. Every one, of course, has trouble; but he, one may say, has been
made the talk of all Europe.'
'Yes, indeed, yes, indeed. They do say, you know that she
associates with artists and musicians, and as the saying is, with
strange creatures of all kinds. She has lost all sense of shame
'I am deeply, deeply grieved,' said Marya Dmitrievna. 'On account
of our relationship; you know, Sergei Petrovitch, he's my cousin many
'Of course, of course. Don't I know everything that concerns your
family? I should hope so, indeed.'
'Will he come to see us-what do you think?'
'One would suppose so; though, they say, he is intending to go home
to his country place.'
Marya Dmitrievna lifted her eyes to heaven.
'Ah, Sergei Petrovitch, Sergei Petrovitch, when I think how careful
we women ought to be in our conduct!'
'There are women and women, Marya Dmitrievna. There are unhappily
such . . . of flighty character . . . and at a certain age too, and
then they are not brought up in good principles.' (Sergei Petrovitch
drew a blue checked handkerchief out of his pocket and began to unfold
it.) 'There are such women, no doubt.' (Sergei Petrovitch applied a
corner of the handkerchief first to one and then to the other eye.)
'But speaking generally, if one takes into consideration, I mean . . .
the dust in the town is really extraordinary to-day,' he wound up.
'Maman, maman,' cried a pretty little girl of eleven running into
the room, 'Vladimir Nikolaitch is coming on horseback!'
Marya Dmitrievna got up; Sergei Petrovitch also rose and made a
bow. 'Our humble respects to Elena Mihalovna,' he said, and turning
aside into a corner for good manners, he began blowing his long
'What a splendid horse he has!' continued the little girl. 'He was
at the gate just now, he told Lisa and me he would dismount at the
The sound of hoofs was heard; and a graceful young man, riding a
beautiful bay horse, was seen in the street, and stopped at the open
'HOW do you do, Marya Dmitrievna?' cried the young man in a
pleasant, ringing voice. 'How do you like my new purchase?'
Marya Dmitrievna went up to the window.
'How do you do, Woldemar! Ah, what a splendid horse! Where did you
'I bought it from the army contractor.. . . He made me pay for it
too, the brigand!'
'What's its name?'
'Orlando.. . . But it's a stupid name; I want to change it . . . Eh
bien, eh bien, mon garçon.. . . What a restless beast it is!' The horse
snorted, pawed the ground, and shook the foam off the bit.
'Lenotchka, stroke him, don't be afraid.'
The little girl stretched her hand out of the window, but Orlando
suddenly reared and started. The rider with perfect self-possession
gave it a cut with the whip across the neck, and keeping a tight grip
with his legs forced it in spite of its opposition, to stand still
again at the window.
'Prenez garde, prenez garde,' Marya Dmitrievna kept repeating.
'Lenotchka, pat him,' said the young man, 'I won't let him be
The little girl again stretched out her hand and timidly patted the
quivering nostrils of the horse, who kept fidgeting and champing the
'Bravo!' cried Marya Dmitrievna, 'but now get off and come in to
The rider adroitly turned his horse, gave him a touch of the spur,
and galloping down the street soon reached the courtyard. A minute
later he ran into the drawing-room by the door from the hall,
flourishing his whip; at the same moment there appeared in the other
doorway a tall, slender dark-haired girl of nineteen, Marya
Dmitrievna's eldest daughter, Lisa.
THE NAME of the young man whom we have just introduced to the
reader was Vladimir Nikolaitch Panshin. He served in Petersburg on
special commissions in the department of internal affairs. He had come
to the town of O-- to carry out some temporary government commissions,
and was in attendance on the Governor-General Zonnenberg, to whom he
happened to be distantly related. Panshin's father, a retired cavalry
officer and a notorious gambler, was a man with insinuating eyes, a
battered countenance, and a nervous twitch about the mouth. He spent
his whole life hanging about the aristocratic world; frequented the
English clubs of both capitals, and had the reputation of a smart, not
very trustworthy, but jolly good-natured fellow. In spite of his
smartness, he was almost always on the brink of ruin, and the property
he left his son was small and heavily encumbered. To make up for that,
however, he did exert himself, after his own fashion, over his son's
education. Vladimir Nikolaitch spoke French very well, English well,
and German badly; that is the proper thing; fashionable people would be
ashamed to speak German well; but to utter an occasional-generally a
humorous-phrase in German is quite correct, c'est mame très chic, as
the Parisians of Petersburg express themselves. By the time he was
fifteen, Vladimir knew how to enter any drawing-room without
embarrassment, how to move about in it gracefully and to leave it at
the appropriate moment. Panshin's father gained many connections for
his son. He never lost an opportunity, while shuffling the cards
between two rubbers, or playing a successful trump, of dropping a hint
about his Volodka to any personage of importance who was a devotee of
cards. And Vladimir, too, during his residence at the university, which
he left without a very brilliant degree, formed an acquaintance with
several young men of quality, and gained an entry into the best houses.
He was received cordially everywhere: he was very good-looking, easy in
his manners, amusing, always in good health, and ready for everything;
respectful, when he ought to be; insolent, when he dared to be;
excellent company, un charmant garçon. The promised land lay before
him. Panshin quickly learnt the secret of getting on in the world; he
knew how to yield with genuine respect to its decrees; he knew how to
take up trifles with half ironical seriousness, and to appear to regard
everything serious as trifling; he was a capital dancer; and dressed in
the English style. In a short time he gained the reputation of being
one of the smartest and most attractive young men in Petersburg.
Panshin was indeed very smart, not less so than his father; but he
was also very talented. He did everything well; he sang charmingly,
sketched with spirit, wrote verses, and was a very fair actor. He was
only twenty-eight, and he was already a kammer-yunker, and had a very
good position. Panshin had complete confidence in himself, in his own
intelligence, and his own penetration; he made his way with
light-hearted assurance, everything went smoothly with him. He was used
to being liked by every one, old and young, and imagined that he
understood people, especially women: he certainly understood their
ordinary weaknesses. As a man of artistic leanings, he was conscious of
a capacity for passion, for being carried away, even for enthusiasm,
and, consequently, he permitted himself various irregularities; he was
dissipated, associated with persons not belonging to good society, and,
in general, conducted himself in a free and easy manner; but at heart
he was cold and false, and at the moment of the most boisterous revelry
his sharp brown eye was always alert, taking everything in. This bold,
independent young man could never forget himself and be completely
carried away. To his credit it must be said, that he never boasted of
his conquests. He had found his way into Marya Dmitrievna's house
immediately he arrived in O--, and was soon perfectly at home there.
Marya Dmitrievna absolutely adored him. Panshin exchanged cordial
greetings with every one in the room; he shook hands with Marya
Dmitrievna and Lisaveta Mihalovna, clapped Gedeonovsky lightly on the
shoulder, and turning round on his heels, put his hand on Lenotchka's
head and kissed her on the forehead.
'Aren't you afraid to ride such a vicious horse?' Marya Dmitrievna
'I assure you he's very quiet, but I will tell you what I am afraid
of: I'm afraid to play preference with Sergei Petrovitch; yesterday he
cleaned me out of everything at Madame Byelenitsin's.'
Gedeonovsky gave a thin, sympathetic little laugh; he was anxious
to be in favour with the brilliant young official from Petersburg-the
governor's favourite. In conversation with Marya Dmitrievna, he often
alluded to Panshin's remarkable abilities. Indeed, he used to argue how
can one help admiring him? The young man is making his way in the
highest spheres, he is an exemplary official, and not a bit of pride
about him. And, in fact, even in Petersburg Panshin was reckoned a
capable official; he got through a great deal of work; he spoke of it
lightly as befits a man of the world who does not attach any special
importance to his labours, but he never hesitated in carrying out
orders. The authorities like such subordinates; he himself had no
doubt, that if he chose, he could be a minister in time.
'You are pleased to say that I cleaned you out,' replied
Gedeonovsky; 'but who was it won twelve roubles of me last week and
more?'. . .
'You're a malicious fellow,' Panshin interrupted, with genial but
somewhat contemptuous carelessness, and, paying him no further
attention, he went up to Lisa.
'I cannot get the overture of Oberon here,' he began. 'Madame
Byelenitsin was boasting when she said she had all the classical music:
in reality she has nothing but polkas and waltzes, but I have already
written to Moscow, and within a week you will have the overture. By the
way,' he went on, 'I wrote a new song yesterday, the words too are
mine, would you care for me to sing it? I don't know how far it is
successful. Madame Byelenitsin thought it very pretty, but her words
mean nothing. I should like to know what you think of it. But I think,
though, that had better be later on.'
'Why later on?' interposed Marya Dmitrievna, 'why not now?'
'I obey,' replied Panshin, with a peculiar bright and sweet smile,
which came and went suddenly on his face. He drew up a chair with his
knee, sat down to the piano, and striking a few chords began to sing,
articulating the words clearly, the following song-Above the earth the
moon floats high Amid pale clouds;Its magic light in that far sky Yet
stirs the floods. My heart has found a moon to rule Its stormy sea;To
joy and sorrow it is moved Only by thee. My soul is full of love's
cruel smart, And longing vain;But thou art calm, as that cold moon,
That knows not pain.
The second couplet was sung by Panshin with special power and
expression, the sound of waves was heard in the stormy accompaniment.
After the words 'and longing vain,' he sighed softly, dropped his eyes
and let his voice gradually die away, morendo. When he had finished,
Lisa praised the motive, Marya Dmitrievna cried, 'Charming!' but
Gedeonovsky went so far as to exclaim, 'Ravishing poetry, and music
equally ravishing!' Lenotchka looked with childish reverence at the
singer. In short, every one present was delighted with the young
dilettante's composition; but at the door leading into the drawing-room
from the hall stood an old man, who had only just come in, and who, to
judge by the expression of his downcast face and the shrug of his
shoulders, was by no means pleased with Panshin's song, pretty though
it was. After waiting a moment and flicking the dust off his boots with
a coarse pocket-handkerchief, this man suddenly raised his eyes,
compressed his lips with a morose expression, and his stooping figure
bent forward, he entered the drawing-room.
'Ah! Christopher Fedoritch, how are you?' exclaimed Panshin before
any of the others could speak, and he jumped up quickly from his seat.
'I had no suspicion that you were here,-nothing would have induced me
to sing my song before you. I know you are no lover of light music.'
'I did not hear it,' declared the new-comer, in very bad Russian,
and exchanging greetings with every one, he stood awkwardly in the
middle of the room.
'Have you come, Monsieur Lemm,' said Marya Dmitrievna, 'to give
Lisa her music lesson?'
'No, not Lisaveta Mihalovna, but Elena Mihalovna.'
'Oh! very well. Lenotchka, go up-stairs with Mr. Lemm.'
The old man was about to follow the little girl, but Panshin
'Don't go after the lesson, Christopher Fedoritch,' he said.
'Lisaveta Mihalovna and I are going to play a duet of Beethoven's
The old man muttered some reply, and Panshin continued in German,
mispronouncing the words-
'Lisaveta Mihalovna showed me the religious cantata you dedicated
to her-a beautiful thing! Pray, do not suppose that I cannot appreciate
serious music-quite the contrary: it is tedious sometimes, but then it
is very elevating.'
The old man crimsoned to his ears, and with a sidelong look at
Lisa, he hurriedly went out of the room.
Marya Dmitrievna asked Panshin to sing his song again; but he
protested that he did not wish to torture the ears of the musical
German, and suggested to Lisa that they should attack Beethoven's
sonata. Then Marya Dmitrievna heaved a sigh, and in her turn suggested
to Gedeonovsky a walk in the garden. 'I should like,' she said, 'to
have a little more talk, and to consult you about our poor Fedya.'
Gedeonovsky bowed with a smirk, and with two fingers picked up his hat,
on the brim of which his gloves had been tidily laid, and went away
with Marya Dmitrievna. Panshin and Lisa remained alone in the room; she
fetched the sonata, and opened it; both seated themselves at the piano
in silence. Overhead were heard the faint sounds of scales, played by
the uncertain fingers of Lenotchka.
CHRISTOPHER THEODOR GOTTLIEB LEMM was born in 1786 in the town of
Chemnitz in Saxony. His parents were poor musicians. His father played
the French horn, his mother the harp; he himself was practising on
three different instruments by the time he was five. At eight years old
he was left an orphan, and from his tenth year he began to earn his
bread by his art. He led a wandering life for many years, and performed
everywhere in restaurants, at fairs, at peasants' weddings, and at
balls. At last he got into an orchestra, and constantly rising in it,
he obtained the position of director. He was rather a poor performer;
but he understood music thoroughly. At twenty-eight he migrated into
Russia, on the invitation of a great nobleman, who did not care for
music himself, but kept an orchestra for show. Lemm lived with him
seven years in the capacity of orchestra conductor, and left him
empty-handed. The nobleman was ruined, he intended to give him a
promissory note, but in the sequel refused him even that-in short, did
not pay him a farthing. He was advised to go away; but he was unwilling
to return home in poverty from Russia, that great Russia which is a
mine of gold for artists; he decided to remain and try his luck. For
twenty years the poor German had been trying his luck; he had lived in
various gentlemen's houses, had suffered and put up with much, had
faced privation, had struggled like a fish on the ice; but the idea of
returning to his own country never left him among all the hardships he
endured; it was this dream alone that sustained him. But fate did not
see fit to grant him this last and first happiness: at fifty,
broken-down in health and prematurely aged, he drifted to the town of
O--, and remained there for good, having now lost once for all every
hope of leaving Russia, which he detested. He gained his poor
livelihood somehow by lessons. Lemm's exterior was not prepossessing.
He was short and bent, with crooked shoulders, and a contracted chest,
with large flat feet, and bluish white nails on the gnarled bony
fingers of his sinewy red hands. He had a wrinkled face, sunken cheeks,
and compressed lips, which he was for ever twitching and biting; and
this together with his habitual taciturnity, produced an impression
almost sinister. His grey hair hung in tufts on his low brow; like
smouldering embers, his little set eyes glowed with dull fire. He moved
painfully, at every step swinging his ungainly body forward. Some of
his movements recalled the clumsy actions of an owl in a cage when it
feels that it is being looked at, but itself can hardly see out of its
great yellow eyes timorously and drowsily blinking. Pitiless, prolonged
sorrow had laid its indelible stamp on the poor musician; it had
disfigured and deformed his person, by no means attractive to begin
with. But any one who was able to get over the first impression would
have discerned something good, and honest, and out of the common in
this half-shattered creature. A devoted admirer of Bach and Handel, a
master of his art, gifted with a lively imagination and that boldness
of conception which is only vouchsafed to the German race, Lemm might,
in time-who knows?-have taken rank with the great composers of his
fatherland, had his life been different; but he was born under an
unlucky star! He had written much in his life, and it had not been
granted to him to see one of his compositions produced; he did not know
how to set about things in the right way, to gain favour in the right
place, and to make a push at the right moment. A long, long time ago,
his one friend and admirer, also a German and also poor, had published
two of Lemm's sonatas at his own expense-the whole edition remained on
the shelves of the music-shops; they disappeared without a trace, as
though they had been thrown into a river by night. At last Lemm had
renounced everything; the years too did their work; his mind had grown
hard and stiff, as his fingers had stiffened. He lived alone in a
little cottage not far from the Kalitin's house, with an old cook he
had taken out of the poorhouse (he had never married). He took long
walks, and read the Bible and the Protestant version of the Psalms, and
Shakespeare in Schlegel's translation. He had composed nothing for a
long time; but apparently, Lisa, his best pupil, had been able to
inspire him; he had written for her the cantata to which Panshin had
made allusion. The words of this cantata he had borrowed from his
collection of hymns. He had added a few verses of his own. It was sung
by two choruses-a chorus of the happy and a chorus of the unhappy. The
two were brought into harmony at the end, and sang together, 'Merciful
God, have pity on us sinners, and deliver us from all evil thoughts and
earthly hopes.' On the title-page was the inscription, most carefully
written and even illuminated, 'Only the righteous are justified. A
religious cantata. Composed and dedicated to Miss Elisaveta Kalitin,
his dear pupil, by her teacher, C. T. G. Lemm.' The words, 'Only the
righteous are justified' and 'Elisaveta Kalitin,' were encircled by
rays. Below was written: 'For you alone, für Sie allein.' This was why
Lemm had grown red, and looked reproachfully at Lisa; he was deeply
wounded when Panshin spoke of his cantata before him.
PANSHIN, who was playing bass, struck the first chords of the
sonata loudly and decisively, but Lisa did not begin her part. He
stopped and looked at her. Lisa's eyes were fixed directly on him, and
expressed displeasure. There was no smile on her lips, her whole face
looked stern and even mournful.
'What's the matter?' he asked.
'Why did you not keep your word?' she said. 'I showed you
Christopher Fedoritch's cantata on the express condition that you said
nothing about it to him?'
'I beg your pardon, Lisaveta Mihalovna, the words slipped out
'You have hurt his feelings and mine too. Now he will not trust
'How could I help it, Lisaveta Mihalovna? Ever since I was a little
boy I could never see a German without wanting to teaze him.'
'How can you say that, Vladimir Nikolaitch? This German is poor,
lonely, and broken-down-have you no pity for him? Can you wish to teaze
Panshin was a little taken aback.
'You are right, Lisaveta Mihalovna,' he declared. 'It's my
everlasting thoughtlessness that's to blame. No, don't contradict me; I
know myself. So much harm has come to me from my want of thought. So
much harm has come to me from my want to thought. It's owing to that
failing that I am thought to be an egoist.'
Panshin paused. With whatever subject he began a conversation, he
generally ended by talking of himself, and the subject was changed by
him so easily, so smoothly and genially, that it seemed unconscious.
'In your own household, for instance,' he went on, 'your mother
certainly wishes me well, she is so kind; you-well, I don't know your
opinion of me; but on the other hand your aunt simply can't bear me. I
must have offended her too by some thoughtless, stupid speech. You know
I'm not a favourite of hers, am I?'
'No,' Lisa admitted with some reluctance, 'she doesn't like you.'
Panshin ran his fingers quickly over the keys, and a scarcely
perceptible smile glided over his lips.
'Well, and you?' he said, 'do you too think me an egoist?'
'I know you very little,' replied Lisa, 'but I don't consider you
an egoist; on the contrary, I can't help feeling grateful to you.'
'I know, I know what you mean to say,' Panshin interrupted, and
again he ran his fingers over the keys: 'for the music and the books I
bring you, for the wretched sketches with which I adorn your album, and
so forth. I might do all that-and be an egoist all the same. I venture
to think that you don't find me a bore, and don't think me a bad
fellow, but still you suppose that I-what's the saying?-would sacrifice
friend or father for the sake of a witticism.'
'You are careless and forgetful, like all men of the world,'
observed Lisa, 'that is all.'
Panshin frowned a little.
'Come,' he said, 'don't let us discuss me any more; let us play our
sonata. There's only one thing I must beg of you,' he added, smoothing
out the leaves of the book on the music stand, 'think what you like of
me, call me an egoist even-so be it! but don't call me a man of the
world; that name's insufferable to me . . . Anch 'io sono pittore. I
too am an artist, though a poor one-and that-I mean that I'm a poor
artist, I shall show directly. Let us begin.'
'Very well, let us begin,' said Lisa.
The first adagio went fairly successfully though Panshin made more
than one false note. His own compositions and what he had practised
thoroughly he played very nicely, but he played at sight badly. So the
second part of the sonata-a rather quick allegro-broke down completely;
at the twentieth bar, Panshin, who was two bars behind, gave in, and
pushed his chair back with a laugh.
'No!' he cried, 'I can't play to-day; it's a good thing Lemm did
not hear us; he would have had a fit.'
Lisa got up, shut the piano, and turned round to Panshin.
'What are we going to do?' she asked.
'That's just like you, that question! You can never sit with your
hands idle. Well, if you like let us sketch, since it's not quite dark.
Perhaps the other muse, the muse of painting-what was her name? I have
forgotten . . . will be more propitious to me. Where's your album? I
remember, my landscape there is not finished.'
Lisa went into the other room to fetch the album, and Panshin, left
alone, drew a cambric handkerchief out of his pocket, and rubbed his
nails and looked as it were critically at his hands. He had beautiful
white hands; on the second finger of his left hand he wore a spiral
gold ring. Lisa came back; Panshin sat down at the window, and opened
'Ah!' he exclaimed: 'I see that you have begun to copy my
landscape-and capitally too. Excellent! only just here-give me a
pencil-the shadows are not put in strongly enough. Look.'
And Panshin with a flourish added a few long strokes. He was for
ever drawing the same landscape: in the foreground large dishevelled
trees, a stretch of meadow in the background, and jagged mountains on
the horizon. Lisa looked over his shoulders at his work.
'In drawing, just as in life generally,' observed Panshin, holding
his head to right and to left, 'lightness and boldness-are the great
At that instant Lemm came into the room, and with a stiff bow was
about to leave it; but Panshin, throwing aside album and pencils,
placed himself in his way.
'Where are you going, dear Christopher Fedoritch? Aren't you going
to stay and have tea with us?'
'I go home,' answered Lemm in a surly voice; 'my head aches.'
'Oh, what nonsense!-do stop. We'll have an argument about
'My head aches,' repeated the old man.
'We set to work on the sonata of Beethoven without you,' continued
Panshin, taking hold of him affectionately and smiling brightly, 'but
we couldn't get on at all. Fancy, I couldn't play two notes together
'You'd better have sung your song again,' replied Lemm, removing
Panshin's hands, and he walked away.
Lisa ran after him. She overtook him on the stairs.
'Christopher Fedoritch, I want to tell you,' she said to him in
German, accompanying him over the short green grass of the yard to the
gate, 'I did wrong-forgive me.'
Lemm made no answer.
'I showed Vladimir Nikolaitch your cantata; I felt sure he would
appreciate it,-and he did like it very much really.'
'It's no matter,' he said in Russian, and then added in his own
language, 'but he cannot understand anything; how is it you don't see
that? He's a dilettante-and that's all!'
'You are unjust to him,' replied Lisa, 'he understands everything,
and he can do almost everything himself.'
'Yes, everything second-rate, cheap, scamped work. That pleases,
and he pleases, and he is glad it is so-and so much the better. I'm not
angry; the cantata and I-we are a pair of old fools; I'm a little
ashamed, but it's no matter.'
'Forgive me, Christopher Fedoritch,' Lisa said again.
'It's no matter,' he repeated in Russian, 'you're a good girl . . .
but here is some one coming to see you. Good-bye. You are a very good
And Lemm moved with hastened steps towards the gate, through which
had entered some gentleman unknown to him in a grey coat and a wide
straw hat. Bowing politely to him (he always saluted all new faces in
the town of O--; from acquaintances he always turned aside in the
street-that was the rule he had laid down for himself), Lemm passed by
and disappeared behind the fence. The stranger looked after him in
amazement, and after gazing attentively at Lisa, went straight up to
'YOU don't recognise me,' he said, taking off his hat, 'but I
recognise you in spite of its being seven years since I saw you last.
You were a child then. I am Lavretsky. Is your mother at home? Can I
'Mamma will be glad to see you,' replied Lisa; 'she had heard of
'Let me see, I think your name is Elisaveta?' said Lavretsky, as he
went up the stairs.
'I remember you very well; you had even then a face one doesn't
forget. I used to bring you sweets in those days.'
Lisa blushed and thought what a queer man. Lavretsky stopped for an
instant in the hall. Lisa went into the drawing-room, where Panshin's
voice and laugh could be heard; he had been communicating some gossip
of the town to Marya Dmitrievna, and Gedeonovsky, who by this time had
come in from the garden, and he was himself laughing aloud at the story
he was telling. At the name of Lavretsky, Marya Dmitrievna was all in a
flutter. She turned pale and went up to meet him.
'How do you do, how do you do, my dear cousin?' she cried in a
plaintive and almost tearful voice, 'how glad I am to see you!'
'How are you, cousin?' replied Lavretsky, with a friendly pressure
of her out-stretched hand; 'how has Providence been treating you?'
'Sit down, sit down, my dear Fedor Ivanitch. Ah, how glad I am! But
let me present my daughter Lisa to you.'
'I have already introduced myself to Lisaveta Mihalovna,'
'Monsieur Panshin . . . Sergei Petrovitch Gedeonovsky . . . Please
sit down. When I look at you, I can hardly believe my eyes. How are
'As you see, I'm flourishing. And you, too, cousin-no ill-luck to
you!-have grown no thinner in eight years.'
'To think how long it is since we met!' observed Marya Dmitrievna
dreamily. 'Where have you come from now? Where did you leave . . . that
is, I meant to say,' she put in hastily, 'I meant to say, are you going
to be with us for long?'
'I have come now from Berlin,' replied Lavretsky, 'and to-morrow I
shall go into the country-probably for a long time.'
'You will live at Lavriky, I suppose?'
'No, not at Lavriky; I have a little place twenty miles from here:
I am going there.'
'Is that the little estate that came to you from Glafira Petrovna?'
'Really, Fedor Ivanitch! You have such a magnificent house at
Lavretsky knitted his brows a little.
'Yes . . . but there's a small lodge in this little property, and I
need nothing more for a time. That place is the most convenient for me
Marya Dmitrievna was again thrown into such a state of agitation
that she became quite stiff, and her hands hung lifeless by her sides.
Panshin came to her support by entering into conversation with
Lavretsky. Marya Dmitrievna regained her composure, she leaned back in
her arm-chair and now and then put in a word. But she looked all the
while with such sympathy at her guest, sighed so significantly, and
shook her head so dejectedly, that the latter at last lost patience and
asked her rather sharply if she was unwell.
'Thank God, no,' replied Marya Dmitrievna; 'why do you ask?'
'Oh, I fancied you didn't seem to be quite yourself.'
Marya Dmitrievna assumed a dignified and somewhat offended air. 'If
that's how the land lies,' she thought, it's absolutely no matter to
me; I see, my good fellow, it's all like water on a duck's back for
you; any other man would have wasted away with grief, but you've grown
fat on it.' Marya Dmitrievna did not mince matters in her own mind; she
expressed herself with more elegance aloud.
Lavretsky certainly did not look like the victim of fate. His
rosy-cheeked typical Russian face, with its large white brow, rather
thick nose, and wide straight lips seemed breathing with the wild
health of the steppes, with vigorous primAEval energy. He was
splendidly well-built, and his fair curly hair stood up on his head
like a boy's. It was only in his blue eyes, with their overhanging
brows and somewhat fixed look, that one could trace an expression, not
exactly of melancholy, nor exactly of weariness, and his voice had
almost too measured a cadence.
Panshin meanwhile continued to keep up the conversation. He turned
it upon the profits of sugar-boiling, on which he had lately read two
French pamphlets, and with modest composure undertook to expound their
contents, without mentioning, however, a single word about the source
of his information.
Good God, it is Fedya!' came through the half-opened door the voice
of Marfa Timofyevna in the next room. 'Fedya himself!' and the old
woman ran hurriedly into the room. Lavretsky had not time to get up
from his seat before she had him in her arms. 'Let me have a look at
you,' she said, holding his face off at arm's length. 'Ah! what a
splendid fellow you are! You've grown older a little, but not a bit
changed for the worse, upon my word! But why are you kissing my
hands-kiss my face if you're not afraid of my wrinkled cheeks. You
never asked after me-whether your aunt was alive-I warrant: and you
were in my arms as soon as you were born, you great rascal! Well, that
is nothing to you, I suppose; why should you remember me? But it was a
good idea of yours to come back. And pray,' she added, turning to Marya
Dmitrievna, 'have you offered him something to eat?'
'I don't want anything,' Lavretsky hastened to declare.
'Come, you must at least have some tea, my dear. Lord have mercy on
us! He has come from I don't know where, and they don't even give him a
cup of tea! Lisa, run and stir them up, and make haste. I remember he
was dreadfully greedy when he was a little fellow, and he likes good
things now, I daresay.'
'My respects, Marfa Timofyevna,' said Panshin, approaching the
delighted old lady from one side with a low bow.
'Pardon me, sir,' replied Marfa Timofyevna, 'for not observing you
in my delight. You have grown like your mother, the poor darling,' she
went on, turning again to Lavretsky, 'but your nose was always your
father's, and your father's it has remained. Well, and are you going to
be with us for long?'
'I am going to-morrow, aunt.'
'Home to Vassilyevskoe.'
'Well, if to-morrow it must be. God bless you-you know best. Only
mind you come and say good-bye to me.' The old woman patted his cheek.
'I did not think I should be here to see you; not that I have made up
my mind to die yet a while-I shall last another ten years, I daresay:
all we Pestovs live long; your late grandfather used to say we had two
lives; but you see there was no telling how much longer you were going
to dangle about abroad. Well, you're a fine lad, a fine lad; can you
lift twenty stone with one hand as you used to do, eh? Your late papa
was fantastical in some things, if I may say so; but he did well in
having that Swiss to bring you up; do you remember you used to fight
with your fists with him?-gymnastics, wasn't it they called it? But
there, why I am gabbling away like this; I have only been hindering Mr.
Panshín (she never pronounced his name Pánshin as was correct) from
holding forth. Besides, we'd better go and have tea; yes, let's go on
to the terrace, my boy, and drink it there; we have some real cream,
not like what you get in your Londons and Parises. Come along, come
along, and you, Fedusha, give me your arm. Oh! but what an arm it is!
Upon my word, no fear of my stumbling with you!'
Every one got up and went out on to the terrace, except
Gedeonovsky, who quietly took his departure. During the whole of
Lavretsky's conversation with Marya Dmitrievna, Panshin, and Marfa
Timofyevna, he sat in a corner, blinking attentively, with an open
mouth of childish curiosity; now he was in haste to spread the news of
the new arrival through the town.
At eleven o'clock on the evening of the same day, this is what was
happening in Madame Kalitin's house. Downstairs, Vladimir Nikolaitch,
seizing a favourable moment, was taking leave of Lisa at the
drawing-room door, and saying to her, as he held her hand, 'You know
who it is draws me here; you know why I am constantly coming to your
house; what need of words when all is clear as it is?' Lisa did not
speak, and looked on the ground, without smiling, with her brows
slightly contracted, and a flush on her cheek, but she did not draw
away her hands. While up-stairs, in Marfa Timofyevna's room, by the
light of a little lamp hanging before the tarnished old holy images,
Lavretsky was sitting in a low chair, his elbows on his knees and his
face buried in his hands; the old woman, standing before him, now and
then silently stroked his hair. He spent more than an hour with her,
after taking leave of his hostess; he had scarcely said anything to his
kind old friend, and she did not question him . . . Indeed, what need
to speak, what was there to ask? Without that she understood all, and
felt for everything of which his heart was full.
FEDOR IVANITCH LAVRETSKY-we must ask the reader's permission to
break off the thread of our story for a time-came of an old noble
family. The founder of the house of Lavretsky came over from Prussia in
the reign of Vassili the Blind, and received a grant of two hundred
chetverts of land in Byezhetsk. Many of his descendants filled various
offices, and served under princes and persons of eminence in outlying
districts, but not one of them rose above the rank of an inspector of
the Imperial table nor acquired any considerable fortune. The richest
and most distinguished of all the Lavretskys was Fedor Ivanitch's
great-grandfather, Andrei, a man cruel and daring, cunning and able.
Even to this day stories still linger of his tyranny, his savage
temper, his reckless munificence, and his insatiable avarice. He was
very stout and tall, swarthy of countenance and beardless, he spoke in
a thick voice and seemed half asleep; but the more quietly he spoke the
more those about him trembled. He had managed to get a wife who was a
fit match for him. She was a gipsy by birth, goggle-eyed and
hook-nosed, with a round yellow face. She was irascible and vindictive,
and never gave way in anything to her husband, who almost killed her,
and whose death she did not survive, though she had been for ever
quarrelling with him. The son of Andrei, Piotr, Fedor's grandfather,
did not take after his father; he was a typical landowner of the
steppes, rather a simpleton, loud-voiced, but slow to move, coarse but
not ill-natured, hospitable and very fond of coursing with dogs. He was
over thirty when he inherited from his father a property of two
thousand serfs in capital condition; but he had soon dissipated it, and
had partly mortgaged his estate, and demoralised his servants. All
sorts of people of low position, known and unknown, came crawling like
cockroaches from all parts into his spacious, warm, ill-kept halls. All
this mass of people ate what they could get, but always had their fill,
drank till they were drunk, and carried off what they could, praising
and blessing their genial host; and their host too when he was out of
humour blessed his guests-for a pack of sponging toadies, but he was
bored when he was without them. Piotr Andreitch's wife was a
meek-spirited creature; he had taken her from a neighbouring family by
his father's choice and command; her name was Anna Pavlovna. She never
interfered in anything, welcomed guests cordially, and readily paid
visits herself, though being powdered, she used to declare, would be
the death of her. 'They put,' she used to say in her old age, 'a fox's
brush on your head, comb all the hair up over it, smear it with grease,
and dust it over with flour, and stick it up with iron pins,-there's no
washing it off afterwards; but to pay visits without powder was quite
impossible-people would be offended. Ah, it was a torture!'
She liked being driven with fast-trotting horses, and was ready to
play cards from morning till evening, and would always keep the score
of the pennies she had lost or won hidden under her hand when her
husband came near the card-table; but all her dowry, her whole fortune,
she had put absolutely at his disposal. She bore him two children, a
son Ivan, the father of Fedor, and a daughter Glafira. Ivan was not
brought up at home, but lived with a rich old maiden aunt, the Princess
Kubensky; she had fixed on him for her heir (but for that his father
would not have let him go). She dressed him up like a doll, engaged all
kinds of teachers for him, and put him in charge of a tutor, a
Frenchman, who had been an abbé, a pupil of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a
certain M. Courtin de Vaucelles, a subtle and wily intriguer-the very,
as she expressed it, fine fleur of emigration-and finished at almost
seventy years old by marrying this 'fine fleur,' and making over all
her property to him. Soon afterwards, covered with rouge, and redolent
of perfume à la Richelieu, surrounded by negro boys, delicate-shaped
greyhounds and shrieking parrots, she died on a crooked silken divan of
the time of Louis XV., with an enamelled snuff-box of Petitot's
workmanship in her hand-and died, deserted by her husband; the
insinuating M. Courtin had preferred to remove to Paris with her money.
Ivan had only reached his twentieth year when this unexpected blow (we
mean the princess's marriage, not her death) fell upon him; he did not
care to stay in his aunt's house, where he found himself suddenly
transformed from a wealthy heir to a poor relation; the society in
Petersburg in which he had grown up was closed to him; he felt an
aversion for entering the government service in the lower grades, with
nothing but hard work and obscurity before him,-this was at the very
beginning of the reign of the Emperor Alexander. He was obliged
reluctantly to return to the country to his father. How squalid, poor,
and wretched his parents' home seemed to him! The stagnation and
sordidness of life in the country offended him at every step. He was
consumed with ennui. Moreover, every one in the house, except his
mother, looked at him with unfriendly eyes. His father did not like his
town manners, his swallow-tail coats, his frilled shirt-fronts, his
books, his flute, his fastidious ways, in which he detected-not
incorrectly-a disgust for his surroundings; he was for ever complaining
and grumbling at his son. 'Nothing here,' he used to say, 'is to his
taste; at table he is all in a fret, and doesn't eat; he can't bear the
heat and close smell of the room; the sight of folks drunk upsets him,
one daren't beat any one before him; he doesn't want to go into the
government service; he's weakly, as you see, in health; fie upon him,
the milksop! And all this because he's got his head full of Voltaire.'
The old man had a special dislike to Voltaire, and the 'fanatic'
Diderot, though he had not read a word of their works; reading was not
in his line. Piotr Andreitch was not mistaken; his son's head for that
matter was indeed full of both Diderot and Voltaire, and not only of
them alone, of Rousseau too, and Helvetius, and many other writers of
the same kind-but they were in his head only. The retired abbé and
encyclopédist who had been Ivan Petrovitch's tutor had taken pleasure
in pouring all the wisdom of the eighteenth century into his pupil, and
he was simply brimming over with it; it was there in him, but without
mixing in his blood, nor penetrating to his soul, nor shaping itself in
any firm convictions . . . But, indeed, could one expect convictions
from a young man of fifty years ago, when even at the present day we
have not succeeded in attaining them? The guests, too, who frequented
his father's house, were oppressed by Ivan Petrovitch's presence; he
regarded them with loathing, they were afraid of him; and with his
sister Glafira, who was twelve years older than he, he could not get on
at all. This Glafira was a strange creature; she was ugly, crooked, and
spare, with severe, wide-open eyes, and thin compressed lips. In her
face, her voice, and her quick angular movements, she took after her
grandmother, the gipsy, Andrei's wife. Obstinate and fond of power, she
would not even hear of marriage. The return of Ivan Petrovitch did not
fit in with her plans; while the Princess Kubensky kept him with her,
she had hoped to receive at least half of her father's estate; in her
avarice, too, she was like her grandmother. Besides, Glafira envied her
brother, he was so well educated, spoke such good French with a
Parisian accent, while she was scarcely able to pronounce 'bon jour' or
'comment vous portez-vous.' To be sure, her parents did not know any
French, but that was no comfort to her. Ivan Petrovitch did not know
what to do with himself for wretchedness and ennui; he had spent hardly
a year in the country, but that year seemed to him as long as ten. The
only consolation he could find was in talking to his mother, and he
would sit for whole hours in her low-pitched rooms, listening to the
good woman's simple-hearted prattle, and eating preserves. It so
happened that among Anna Pavlovna's maids there was one very pretty
girl with clear soft eyes and refined features, Malanya by name, a
modest intelligent creature. She took his fancy at first sight, and he
fell in love with her: he fell in love with her timid movements, her
bashful answers, her gentle voice and gentle smile; every day she
seemed sweeter to him. And she became devoted to Ivan Petrovitch with
all the strength of her soul, as none but Russian girls can be
devoted-and she gave herself to him. In the large household of a
country squire nothing can long be kept a secret; soon every one knew
of the love between the young master and Malanya; the gossip even
reached the ears of Piotr Andreitch himself. Under other circumstances,
he would probably have paid no attention to a matter of so little
importance. But he had long had a grudge against his son, and was
delighted at an opportunity of humiliating the town-bred wit and dandy.
A storm of fuss and clamour was raised; Malanya was locked up in the
pantry, Ivan Petrovitch was summoned into his father's presence. Anna
Pavlovna too ran up at the hubbub. She began trying to pacify her
husband, but Piotr Andreitch would hear nothing. He pounced down like a
hawk on his son, reproached him with immorality, with godlessness, with
hypocrisy; he took the opportunity to vent on him all the wrath against
the Princess Kubensky that had been simmering within him, and lavished
abusive epithets upon him. At first Ivan Petrovitch was silent and held
himself in, but when his father thought fit to threaten him with a
shameful punishment he could endure it no longer. 'Ah,' he thought,
'the fanatic Diderot is brought out again, then I will take the bull by
the horns, I will astonish you all.' And thereupon with a calm and even
voice, though quaking inwardly in every limb, Ivan Petrovitch declared
to his father, that there was no need to reproach him with immorality;
that though he did not intend to justify his fault he was ready to make
amends for it, the more willingly as he felt himself to be superior to
every kind of prejudice-and in fact-was ready to marry Malanya. In
uttering these words Ivan Petrovitch did undoubtedly attain his object;
he so astonished Piotr Andreitch that the latter stood open-eyed, and
was struck dumb for a moment; but instantly he came to himself, and
just as he was, in a dressing-gown bordered with squirrel fur and
slippers on his bare feet, he flew at Ivan Petrovitch with his fists.
The latter, as though by design, had that morning arranged his locks à
la Titus, and put on a new English coat of a blue colour, high boots
with little tassels and very tight modish buckskin breeches. Anna
Pavlovna shrieked with all her might and covered her face with her
hands; but her son ran over the whole house, dashed out into the
courtyard, rushed into the kitchen-garden, into the pleasure-grounds,
and flew across into the road, and kept running without looking round
till at last he ceased to hear the heavy tramp of his father's steps
behind him and his shouts, jerked out with effort, 'Stop you
scoundrel!' he cried, 'stop! or I will curse you!' Ivan Petrovitch took
refuge with a neighbour, a small landowner, and Piotr Andreitch
returned home worn out and perspiring, and without taking breath,
announced that he should deprive his son of his blessing and
inheritance, gave orders that all his foolish books should be burnt,
and that the girl Malanya should be sent to a distant village without
loss of time. Some kind-hearted people found out Ivan Petrovitch and
let him know everything. Humiliated and driven to fury, he vowed he
would be revenged on his father, and the same night lay in wait for the
peasant's cart in which Malanya was being driven away, carried her off
by force, galloped off to the nearest town with her and married her. He
was supplied with money by the neighbour, a good-natured retired marine
officer, a confirmed tippler, who took an intense delight in every kind
of-as he expressed it-romantic story.
The next day Ivan Petrovitch wrote an ironically cold and polite
letter to Piotr Andreitch, and set off to the village where lived his
second cousin, Dmitri Pestov, with his sister, already known to the
reader, Marfa Timofyevna. He told them all, announced his intention to
go to Petersburg to try to obtain a post there, and besought them, at
least for a time, to give his wife a home. At the word 'wife' he shed
tears, and in spite of his city breeding and philosophy he bowed
himself in humble, supplicating Russian fashion at his relation's feet,
and even touched the ground with his forehead. The Pestovs,
kind-hearted and compassionate people, readily agreed to his request.
He stayed with them for three weeks, secretly expecting a reply from
his father; but no reply came-and there was no chance of a reply
Piotr Andreitch, on hearing of his son's marriage, took to his bed,
and forbade Ivan Petrovitch's name to be mentioned before him; but his
mother, without her husband's knowledge, borrowed from the rector, and
sent 500 roubles and a little image to his wife. She was afraid to
write, but sent a message to Ivan Petrovitch by a lean peasant, who
could walk fifty miles a day, that he was not to take it too much to
heart; that, please God, all would be arranged, and his father's wrath
would be turned to kindness; that she too would have preferred a
different daughter-in-law, but that she sent Malanya Sergyevna her
motherly blessing. The lean peasant received a rouble, asked permission
to see the new young mistress, to whom he happened to be godfather,
kissed her hand and ran off at his best speed.
And Ivan Petrovitch set off to Petersburg with a light heart. An
unknown future awaited him; poverty perhaps menaced him, but he had
broken away from the country life he detested, and above all, he had
not been false to his teachers, he had actually put into practice the
doctrines of Rousseau, Diderot, and la Déclaration des droits de
l'homme. A sense of having done his duty, of triumph, and of pride
filled his soul; and indeed the separation from his wife did not
greatly afflict him; he would have been more perturbed by the necessity
of being constantly with her. That deed was done, now he wanted to set
about doing something fresh. In Petersburg, contrary to his own
expectations, he met with success; the Princess Kubensky, whom Monsieur
Courtin had by that time deserted, but who was still living, in order
to make up in some way to her nephew for having wronged him, gave him
introductions to all her friends, and presented him with 5000
roubles-almost all that remained of her money-and a Lepikovsky watch
with his monogram encircled by Cupids.
Three months had not passed before he obtained a position in a
Russian embassy to London, and in the first English vessel that sailed
(steamers were not even talked of then) he crossed the sea. A few
months later he received a letter from Pestov. The good-natured
landowner congratulated Ivan Petrovitch on the birth of a son, who had
been born into the world in the village of Pokrovskoe on the 20th of
August 1807, and named Fedor, in honour of the holy martyr Fedor
Stratilat. On account of her extreme weakness Malanya Sergyevna added
only a few lines; but these few lines were a surprise, for Ivan
Petrovitch had not known that Marfa Timofyevna had taught his wife to
read and write. Ivan Petrovitch did not long abandon himself to the
sweet emotion of parental feeling; he was dancing attendance on a
notorious Phryne or Lais of the day (classical names were still in
vogue at that date); the Peace of Tilsit had only just been concluded
and all the world was hurrying after pleasure, in a giddy whirl of
dissipation, and his head had been turned by the black eyes of a bold
beauty. He had very little money, but he was lucky at cards, made many
acquaintances, took part in all entertainments, in a word, he was in
FOR a long time the old Lavretsky could not forgive his son for his
marriage. If six months later Ivan Petrovitch had come to him with a
penitent face and had thrown himself at his feet, he would, very
likely, have pardoned him, after giving him a pretty severe scolding,
and a tap with his stick by way of intimidating him, but Ivan
Petrovitch went on living abroad and apparently did not care a straw.
'Be silent! I dare you to speak of it,' Piotr Andreitch said to his
wife every time she ventured to try to incline him to mercy. 'The
puppy, he ought to thank God for ever that I have not laid my curse
upon him; my father would have killed him, the worthless scamp, with
his own hands, and he would have done right too.' At such terrible
speeches Anna Pavlovna could only cross herself secretly. As for Ivan
Petrovitch's wife, Piotr Andreitch at first would not even hear her
name, and in answer to a letter of Pestov's, in which he mentioned his
daughter-in-law, he went so far as to send him word that he knew
nothing of any daughter-in-law, and that it was forbidden by law to
harbour run-away wenches, a fact which he thought it his duty to remind
him of. But later on, he was softened by hearing of the birth of a
grandson, and he gave orders secretly that inquiries should be made
about the health of the mother, and sent her a little money, also as
though it did not come from him. Fedya was not a year old before Anna
Pavlovna fell ill with a fatal complaint. A few days before her end,
when she could no longer leave her bed, with timid tears in her eyes,
fast growing dim, she informed her husband in the presence of the
priest that she wanted to see her daughter-in-law and bid her farewell,
and to give her grandchild her blessing. The heart-broken old man
soothed her, and at once sent off his own carriage for his
daughter-in-law, for the first time giving her the title of Malanya
Sergyevna. Malanya came with her son and Maria Timofyevna, who would
not on any consideration allow her to go alone, and was unwilling to
expose her to any indignity. Half dead with fright, Malanya Sergyevna
went into Piotr Andreitch's room. A nurse followed, carrying Fedya.
Piotr Andreitch looked at her without speaking; she went up to kiss his
hand; her trembling lips were only just able to touch it with a silent
'Well, my upstart lady,' he brought out at last, 'how do you do?
let us go to the mistress.'
He got up and bent over Fedya; the baby smiled and held out his
little white hands to him. This changed the old man's mood.
'Ah,' he said, 'poor little one, you were pleading for your father;
I will not abandon you, little bird.'
Directly Malanya Sergyevna entered Anna Pavlovna's bedroom, she
fell on her knees near the door. Anna Pavlovna beckoned her to come to
her bedside, embraced her, and blessed her son; then turning a face
contorted by cruel suffering to her husband she made an effort to
'I know, I know, what you want to ask,' said Piotr Andreitch;
'don't fret yourself, she shall stay with us, and I will forgive Vanka
for her sake.'
With an effort Anna Pavlovna took her husband's hand and pressed it
to her lips. The same evening she breathed her last.
Piotr Andreitch kept his word. He informed his son that for the
sake of his mother's dying hours, and for the sake of the little Fedor,
he sent him his blessing and was keeping Malanya Sergyevna in his
house. Two rooms on the ground floor were devoted to her; he presented
her to his most honoured guests, the one-eyed brigadier Skurehin, and
his wife, and bestowed on her two waiting-maids and a page for errands.
Marfa Timofyevna took leave of her; she detested Glafira, and in the
course of one day had fallen out with her three times.
It was a painful and embarrassing position at first for poor
Malanya, but, after a while, she learnt to bear it, and grew used to
her father-in-law. He, too, grew accustomed to her, and even fond of
her, though he scarcely ever spoke to her, and a certain involuntary
contempt was perceptible even in his signs of affection to her. Malanya
Sergeyvna had most to put up with from her sister-in-law. Even during
her mother's lifetime, Glafira had succeeded by degrees in getting the
whole household into her hands; every one, from her father downwards,
submitted to her rule; not a piece of sugar was given out without her
sanction; she would rather have died than shared her authority with
another mistress-and with such a mistress! Her brother's marriage had
incensed her even more than Piotr Andreitch; she set herself to give
the upstart a lesson, and Malanya Sergyevna from the very first hour
was her slave. And, indeed, how was she to contend against the
masterful, haughty Glafira, submissive, constantly bewildered, timid,
and weak in health as she was? Not a day passed without Glafira
reminding her of her former position, and commending her for not
forgetting herself. Malanya Sergyevna could have reconciled herself
readily to these reminiscences and commendations, however bitter they
might be-but Fedya was taken away from her, that was what crushed her.
On the pretext that she was not capable of undertaking his education,
she was scarcely allowed to see him; Glafira set herself to that task;
the child was put absolutely under her control. Malanya Sergyevna
began, in her distress, to beseech Ivan Petrovitch, in her letters, to
return home soon. Piotr Andreitch himself wanted to see his son, but
Ivan Petrovitch did nothing but write. He thanked his father on his
wife's account, and for the money sent him, promised to return
quickly-and did not come. The year 1812 at last summoned him home from
abroad. When they met again, after six years' absence, the father
embraced his son, and not by a single word made allusion to their
former differences; it was not a time for that now, all Russia was
rising up against the enemy, and both of them felt that they had
Russian blood in their veins. Piotr Andreitch equipped a whole regiment
of volunteers at his own expense. But the war came to an end, the
danger was over; Ivan Petrovitch began to be bored again, and again he
felt drawn away to the distance, to the world in which he had grown up,
and where he felt himself at home. Malanya Sergyevna could not keep
him; she meant too little to him. Even her fondest hopes came to
nothing; her husband considered that it was much more suitable to
intrust Fedya's education to Glafira. Ivan Petrovitch's poor wife could
not bear this blow, she could not bear a second separation; in a few
days, without a murmur, she quietly passed away. All her life she had
never been able to oppose anything, and she did not struggle against
her illness. When she could no longer speak, when the shadows of death
were already on her face, her features expressed, as of old, bewildered
resignation and constant, uncomplaining meekness; with the same dumb
submissiveness she looked at Glafira, and just as Anna Pavlovna kissed
her husband's hand on her deathbed, she kissed Glafira's, commending to
her, to Glafira, her only son. So ended the earthly existence of this
good and gentle creature, torn, God knows why, like an uprooted tree
from its natural soil and at once thrown down with its roots in the
air; she had faded and passed away, leaving no trace, and no one
mourned for her. Malanya Sergyevna's maids pitied her, and so did even
Piotr Andreitch. The old man missed her silent presence. 'Forgive me ..
farewell, my meek one!' he whispered, as he took leave of her the last
time in church. He wept as he threw a handful of earth in the grave.
He did not survive her long, not more than five years. In the
winter of the year 1819, he died peacefully in Moscow, where he had
moved with Glafira and his grandson, and left instructions that he
should be buried beside Anna Pavlovna and 'Malasha.' Ivan Petrovitch
was then in Paris amusing himself; he had retired from service soon
after 1815. When he heard of his father's death he decided to return to
Russia. It was necessary to make arrangements for the management of the
property. Fedya, according to Glafira's letter, had reached his twelfth
year, and the time had come to set about his education in earnest.
IVAN PETROVITCH returned to Russia an Anglomaniac. His
short-cropped hair, his starched shirt-front, his long-skirted
pea-green overcoat with its multitude of capes, the sour expression of
his face, something abrupt and at the same time indifferent in his
behaviour, his way of speaking through his teeth, his sudden wooden
laugh, the absence of smiles, his exclusively political or
politico-economical conversation, his passion for roast beef and port
wine-everything about him breathed, so to speak, of Great Britain. But,
marvellous to relate, while he had been transformed into an
Anglomaniac, Ivan Petrovitch had at the same time become a patriot, at
least he called himself a patriot, though he knew Russia little, had
not retained a single Russian habit, and expressed himself in Russian
rather queerly; in ordinary conversation, his language was spiritless
and inanimate and constantly interspersed with Gallicisms.
Ivan Petrovitch brought with him a few schemes in manuscript,
relating to the administration and reform of the government; he was
much displeased with everything he saw; the lack of system especially
aroused his spleen. On his meeting with his sister, at the first word
he announced to her that he was determined to introduce radical
reforms, that henceforth everything to do with him would be on a
different system. Glafira Petrovna made no reply to Ivan Petrovitch;
she only ground her teeth and thought: 'Where am I to take refuge?'
After she was back in the country, however, with her brother and
nephew, her fears were soon set at rest. In the house, certainly, some
changes were made; idlers and dependants met with summary dismissal;
among them two old women were made to suffer, one blind, another broken
down by paralysis; and also a decrepit major of the days of Catherine,
who, on account of his really abnormal appetite, was fed on nothing but
black bread and lentils. The order went forth not to admit the guests
of former days; they were replaced by a distant neighbour, a certain
fair-haired, scrofulous baron, a very well educated and very stupid
man. New furniture was brought from Moscow; spittoons were introduced,
and bells and washing-stands; and breakfast began to be served in a
different way; foreign wines replaced vodka and syrups; the servants
were put into new livery; a motto was added to the family arms: in
recto virtus . . . In reality, Glafira's power suffered no diminution;
the giving out and buying of stores still depended on her. The Alsatian
steward, brought from abroad, tried to fight it out with her and lost
his place, in spite of the master's protection. As for the management
of the house, and the administration of the estate, Glafira Petrovna
had undertaken these duties also; in spite of Ivan Petrovitch's
intention,-more than once expressed-to breathe new life into this
chaos, everything remained as before; only the rent was in some placed
raised, the mistress was more strict, and the peasants were forbidden
to apply direct to Ivan Petrovitch. The patriot had already a great
contempt for his fellow-countrymen. Ivan Petrovitch's system was
applied in its full force only to Fedya; his education really underwent
a 'radical reformation;' his father devoted himself exclusively to it.
UNTIL Ivan Petrovitch's return from abroad, Fedya was, as already
related, in the hands of Glafira Petrovna. He was not eight years old
when his mother died; he did not see her every day, and loved her
passionately; the memory of her, of her pale and gentle face, of her
dejected looks and timid caresses, were imprinted on his heart for
ever; but he vaguely understood her position in the house; he felt that
between him and her there existed a barrier which she dared not and
could not break down. He was shy of his father, and, indeed, Ivan
Petrovitch on his side never caressed him; his grandfather sometimes
patted him on the head and gave him his hand to kiss, but he thought
him and called him a little fool. After the death of Malanya Sergyevna,
his aunt finally got him under her control. Fedya was afraid of her: he
was afraid of her bright sharp eyes and her harsh voice; he dared not
utter a sound in her presence; often, when he only moved a little in
his chair, she would hiss out at once: 'What are you doing? sit still.'
On Sundays, after mass, he was allowed to play, that is to say, he was
given a thick book, a mysterious book, the work of a certain
Maximovitch-Ambodik, entitled 'Symbols and Emblems.' This book was a
medley of about a thousand mostly very enigmatical pictures, and as
many enigmatical interpretations of them in five languages. Cupid-naked
and very puffy in the body-played a leading part in these
illustrations. In one of them, under the heading, 'Saffron and the
Rainbow,' the interpretation appended was: 'Of this, the influence is
vast;' opposite another, entitled 'A heron, flying with a violet in his
beak,' stood the inscription: 'To thee they are all known.' 'Cupid and
the bear licking his fur' was inscribed, 'Little by little.' Fedya used
to ponder over these pictures; he knew them all to the minutest
details; some of them, always the same ones, used to set him dreaming,
and afforded him food for meditation; he knew no other amusements. When
the time came to teach him languages and music, Glafira Petrovna
engaged, for next to nothing, an old maid, a Swede, with eyes like a
hare's, who spoke French and German with mistakes in every alternate
word, played after a fashion on the piano, and above all, salted
cucumbers to perfection. In the society of this governess, his aunt,
and the old servant maid, Vassilyevna, Fedya spent four whole years.
Often he would sit in the corner with his 'Emblems'; he sat there
endlessly; there was a scent of geranium in the low pitched room, the
solitary candle burnt dim, the cricket chirped monotonously, as though
it were weary, the little clock ticked away hurriedly on the wall, a
mouse scratched stealthily and gnawed at the wall-paper, and the three
old women, like the Fates, swiftly and silently plied their
knitting-kneedles, the shadows raced after their hands and quivered
strangely in the half darkness, and strange, half dark ideas swarmed in
the child's brain. No one would have called Fedya an interesting child;
he was rather pale, but stout, clumsily built and awkward-a thorough
peasant, as Glafira Petrovna said; the pallor would soon have vanished
from his cheeks, if he had been allowed oftener to be in the open air.
He learnt fairly quickly, though he was often lazy; he never cried, but
at times he was overtaken by a fit of savage obstinacy; then no one
could soften him. Fedya loved no one among those around him.. . . Woe
to the heart that has not loved in youth!
Thus Ivan Petrovitch found him, and without loss of time he set to
work to apply his system to him.
'I want above all to make a man, un homme, of him,' he said to
Glafira Petrovna, 'and not only a man, but a Spartan.' Ivan Petrovitch
began carrying out his intentions by putting his son in a Scotch kilt;
the twelve-year-old boy had to go about with bare knees and a plume
stuck in his Scotch cap. The Swedish lady was replaced by a young Swiss
tutor, who was versed in gymnastics to perfection. Music, as a pursuit
unworthy of a man, was discarded. The natural sciences, international
law, mathematics, carpentry, after Jean-Jacques Rousseau's precept, and
heraldry, to encourage chivalrous feelings, were what the future 'man'
was to be occupied with. He was waked at four o'clock in the morning,
splashed at once with cold water and set to running round a high pole
with a cord; he had only one meal a day, consisting of a single dish;
rode on horseback; shot with a cross-bow; at every convenient
opportunity he was exercised in acquiring after his parent's example
firmness of will, and every evening he inscribed in a special book an
account of the day and his impressions; and Ivan Petrovitch on his side
wrote him instructions in French in which he called him mon fils, and
addressed him as vous. In Russian Fedya called his father thou, but did
not dare to sit down in his presence. The 'system' dazed the boy,
confused and cramped his intellect, but his health on the other hand
was benefited by the new manner of his life; at first he fell into a
fever but soon recovered and began to grow stout and strong. His father
was proud of him and called him in his strange jargon 'a child of
nature, my creation.' When Fedya had reached his sixteenth year, Ivan
Petrovitch thought it his duty in good time to instil into him a
contempt for the female sex; and the young Spartan, with timidity in
his heart and the first down on his lip, full of sap and strength and
young blood, already tried to seem indifferent, cold, and rude.
Meanwhile time was passing. Ivan Petrovitch spent the greater part
of the year in Lavriky (that was the name of the principal estate
inherited from his ancestors). But in the winter he used to go to
Moscow alone; there he stayed at a tavern, diligently visited the club,
made speeches and developed his plans in drawing-rooms, and in his
behaviour was more than ever Anglomaniac, grumbling and political. But
the year 1825 came and brought much sorrow. Intimate friends and
acquaintances of Ivan Petrovitch underwent painful experiences. Ivan
Petrovitch made haste to withdraw into the country and shut himself up
in his house. Another year passed by, and suddenly Ivan Petrovitch grew
feeble, and ailing; his health began to break up. He, the free-thinker,
began to go to church and have prayers put up for him; he, the
European, began to sit in steam-baths, to dine at two o'clock, to go to
bed at nine, and to doze off to the sound of the chatter of the old
steward; he, the man of political ideas, burnt all his schemes, all his
correspondence, trembled before the governor, and was uneasy at the
sight of the police-captain; he, the man of iron will, whimpered and
complained, when he had a gumboil or when they gave him a plate of cold
soup. Glafira Petrovna again took control of everything in the house;
once more the overseers, bailiffs and simple peasants began to come to
the back stairs to speak to the 'old witch,' as the servants called
her. The change in Ivan Petrovitch produced a powerful impression on
his son. He had now reached his nineteenth year, and had begun to
reflect and to emancipate himself from the hand that pressed like a
weight upon him. Even before this time he had observed a little
discrepancy between his father's words and deeds, between his wide
liberal theories and his harsh petty despotism; but he had not expected
such a complete breakdown. His confirmed egoism was patent now in
everything. Young Lavretsky was getting ready to go to Moscow, to
prepare for the university, when a new unexpected calamity overtook
Ivan Petrovitch; he became blind, and hopelessly blind, in one day.
Having no confidence in the skill of Russian doctors, he began to
make efforts to obtain permission to go abroad. It was refused. Then he
took his son with him and for three whole years was wandering about
Russia, from one doctor to another, incessantly moving from one town to
another, and driving his physicians, his son, and his servants to
despair by his cowardice and impatience. He returned to Lavriky a
perfect wreck, a tearful and capricious child. Bitter days followed,
every one had much to put up with from him. Ivan Petrovitch was only
quiet when he was dining; he had never been so greedy and eaten so
much; all the rest of the time he gave himself and others no peace. He
prayed, cursed his fate, abused himself, abused politics, his system,
abused everything he had boasted of and prided himself upon, everything
he had held up to his son as a model; he declared that he believed in
nothing and then began to pray again; he could not put up with one
instant of solitude, and expected his household to sit by his chair
continually day and night, and entertain him with stories, which he
constantly interrupted with exclamations, 'You are for ever lying,. . .
a pack of nonsense!'
Glafira Petrovna was specially necessary to him; he absolutely
could not get on without her-and to the end she always carried out
every whim of the sick man, though sometimes she could not bring
herself to answer at once, for fear the sound of her voice should
betray her inward anger. Thus he lingered on for two years and died on
the first day of May, when he had been brought out on to the balcony
into the sun. 'Glasha, Glashka! soup, soup, old foo'-- his halting
tongue muttered and before he had articulated the last word, it was
silent for ever. Glafira Petrovna, who had only just taken the cup of
soup from the hands of the steward, stopped, looked at her brother's
face, slowly made a large sign of the cross and turned away in silence;
and his son, who happened to be there, also said nothing; he leaned on
the railing of the balcony and gazed a long while into the garden, all
fragrant and green, and shining in the rays of the golden sunshine of
spring. He was twenty-three years old; how terribly, how imperceptibly
quickly those twenty-three years had passed by!. . . Life was opening
AFTER burying his father and intrusting to the unchanged Glafira
Petrovna the management of his estate and superintendence of his
bailiffs, young Lavretsky went to Moscow, whither he felt drawn by a
vague but strong attraction. He recognised the defects of his
education, and formed the resolution, as far as possible, to regain
lost ground. In the last five years he had read much and seen
something; he had many stray ideas in his head; any professor might
have envied some of his acquirements, but at the same time he did not
know much that every schoolboy would have learnt long ago. Lavretsky
was aware of his limitations; he was secretly conscious of being
eccentric. The Anglomaniac had done his son an ill turn; his whimsical
education had produced its fruits. For long years he had submitted
unquestioningly to his father; when at last he began to see through
him, the evil was already done, his habits were deeply-rooted. He could
not get on with people; at twenty-three years old, with an unquenchable
thirst for love in his shy heart, he had never yet dared to look one
woman in the face. With his intellect, clear and sound, but somewhat
heavy, with his tendencies to obstinacy, contemplation, and indolence
he ought from his earliest years to have been thrown into the stream of
life, and he had been kept instead in artificial seclusion. And now the
magic circle was broken, but he continued to remain within it, prisoned
and pent up within himself. It was ridiculous at his age to put on a
student's dress, but he was not afraid of ridicule; his Spartan
education had at least the good effect of developing in him a contempt
for the opinion of others, and he put on, without embarrassment, the
academical uniform. He entered the section of physics and mathematics.
Robust, rosy-cheeked, bearded, and taciturn, he produced a strange
impression on his companions; they did not suspect that this austere
man, who came so punctually to the lectures in a wide village sledge
with a pair of horses, was inwardly almost a child. He appeared to them
to be a queer kind of pedant; they did not care for him, and made no
overtures to him, and he avoided them. During the first two years he
spent in the university, he only made acquaintance with one student,
from whom he took lessons in Latin. This student, Mihalevitch by name,
an enthusiast and a poet, who loved Lavretsky sincerely, by chance
became the means of bringing about an important change in his destiny.
One day at the theatre # Motchalov was then at the height of his
fame and Lavretsky did not miss a single performance-he saw in a box in
the front tier a young girl, and though no woman ever came near his
grim figure without setting his heart beating, it had never beaten so
violently before. The young girl sat motionless, leaning with her
elbows on the velvet of the box; the light of youth and life played in
every feature of her dark, oval, lovely face; subtle intelligence was
expressed in the splendid eyes which gazed softly and attentively from
under her fine brows, in the swift smile on her expressive lips, in the
very pose of her head, her hands, her neck. She was exquisitely
dressed. Beside her sat a yellow and wrinkled woman of forty-five, with
a low neck, in a black headdress, with a toothless smile on her
intently-preoccupied and empty face, and in the inner recesses of the
box was visible an elderly man in a wide frock-coat and high cravat,
with an expression of dull dignity and a kind of ingratiating
distrustfulness in his little eyes, with dyed moustache and whiskers, a
large meaningless forehead and wrinkled cheeks, by every sign a retired
general. Lavretsky did not take his eyes off the girl who had made such
an impression on him; suddenly the door of the box opened and
Mihalevitch went in. The appearance of this man, almost his one
acquaintance in Moscow, in the society of the one girl who was
absorbing his whole attention, struck him as curious and significant.
Continuing to gaze into the box, he observed that all the persons in it
treated Mihalevitch as an old friend. The performance on the stage
ceased to interest Lavretsky, even Motchalov, though he was that
evening in his 'best form,' did not produce the usual impression on
him. At one very pathetic part, Lavretsky involuntarily looked at his
beauty: she was bending forward, her cheeks glowing under the influence
of his persistent gaze, her eyes, which were fixed on the stage, slowly
turned and rested on him. All night he was haunted by those eyes. The
skilfully constructed barriers were broken down at last; he was in a
shiver and a fever, and the next day he went to Mihalevitch. From him
he learnt that the name of the beauty was Varvara Pavlovna Korobyin;
that the old people sitting with her in the box were her father and
mother; and that he, Mihalevitch, had become acquainted with them a
year before, while he was staying at Count N.'s, in the position of a
tutor, near Moscow. The enthusiast spoke in rapturous praise of Varvara
Pavlovna. 'My dear fellow,' he exclaimed with the impetuous ring in his
voice peculiar to him, 'that girl is a marvellous creature, a genius,
an artist in the true sense of the word, and she is very good too.'
Noticing from Lavretsky's inquiries the impression Varvara Pavlovna had
made on him, he himself proposed to introduce him to her, adding that
he was like one of the family with them; that the general was not at
all proud, and the mother was so stupid she could not say 'Bo' to a
goose. Lavretsky blushed, muttered something unintelligible, and ran
away. For five whole days he was struggling with his timidity; on the
sixth day the young Spartan got into a new uniform and placed himself
at Mihalevitch's disposal. The latter being his own valet, confined
himself to combing his hair-and both betook themselves to the
VARVARA PAVLOVNA'S father, Pavel Petrovitch Korobyin, a retired
general-major, had spent his whole time on duty in Petersburg. He had
had the reputation in his youth of a good dancer and driller. Through
poverty, he had served as adjutant to two or three generals of no
distinction, and had married the daughter of one of them with a dowry
of twenty-five thousand roubles. He mastered all the science of
military discipline and manoeuvres to the minutest niceties, he went on
in harness, till at last, after twenty-five years' service, he received
the rank of a general and the command of a regiment. Then he might have
relaxed his efforts and have quietly secured his pecuniary position.
Indeed this was what he reckoned upon doing, but he managed things a
little incautiously. He devised a new method of speculating with public
funds-the method seemed an excellent one in itself-but he neglected to
bribe in the right place, and was consequently informed against, and a
more than unpleasant, a disgraceful scandal followed. The general got
out of the affair somehow, but his career was ruined; he was advised to
retire from active duty. For two years he lingered on in Petersburg,
hoping to drop into some snug berth in the civil service, but no such
snug berth came in his way. His daughter had left school, his expenses
were increasing every day. Resigning himself to his fate, he decided to
remove to Moscow for the sake of the greater cheapness of living, and
took a tiny low-pitched house in the Old Stables Road, with a coat of
arms seven feet long on the roof, and there began the life of a retired
general at Moscow on an income of 2750 roubles a year. Moscow is a
hospitable city, ready to welcome all stray comers, generals by
preference. Pavel Petrovitch's heavy figure, which was not quite devoid
of martial dignity, however, soon began to be seen in the best
drawing-rooms in Moscow. His bald head with its tufts of dyed hair, and
the soiled ribbon of the Order of St. Anne which he wore over a cravat
of the colour of a raven's wing, began to be familiar to all the pale
and listless young men who hang morosely about the card-tables while
dancing is going on. Pavel Petrovitch knew how to gain a footing in
society; he spoke little, but, from old habit, condescendingly-though,
of course, not when he was talking to persons of a higher rank than his
own. He played cards carefully; ate moderately at home, but consumed
enough for six at parties. Of his wife there is scarcely anything to be
said. Her name was Kalliopa Karlovna. There was always a tear in her
left eye, on the strength of which Kalliopa Karlovna (she was, one must
add, of German extraction) considered herself a woman of great
sensibility. She was always in a state of nervous agitation, seemed as
though she were ill-nourished, and wore a tight velvet dress, a cap,
and tarnished hollow bracelets. The only daughter of Pavel Petrovitch
and Kalliopa Karlovna, Varvara Pavlovna, was only just seventeen when
she left the boarding-school, in which she had been reckoned, if not
the prettiest, at least the cleverest pupil and the best musician, and
where she had taken a decoration. She was not yet nineteen, when
Lavretsky saw her for the first time.
THE YOUNG Spartan's legs shook under him when Mihalevitch conducted
him into the rather shabbily furnished drawing-room of the Korobyins,
and presented him to them. But his overwhelming feeling of timidity
soon disappeared. In the general the good-nature innate in all Russians
was intensified by that special kind of geniality which is peculiar to
all people who have done something disgraceful; the general's lady was
as it were overlooked by every one; and as for Varvara Pavlovna, she
was so self-possessed and easily cordial that every one at once felt at
home in her presence; besides, about all her fascinating person, her
smiling eyes, her faultlessly sloping shoulders and rosy-tinged white
hands, her light and yet languid movements, the very sound of her
voice, slow and sweet, there was an impalpable, subtle charm, like a
faint perfume, voluptuous, tender, soft, though still modest, something
which is hard to translate into words, but which moved and kindled-and
timidity was not the feeling it kindled. Lavretsky turned the
conversation on the theatre, on the performance of the previous day;
she at once began herself to discuss Motchalov, and did not confine
herself to sighs and interjections only, but uttered a few true
observations full of feminine insight in regard to his acting.
Mihalevitch spoke about music; she sat down without ceremony to the
piano, and very correctly played some of Chopin's mazurkas, which were
then just coming into fashion. Dinner-time came; Lavretsky would have
gone away, but they made him stay: at dinner the general regaled him
with excellent Lafitte, which the general's lackey hurried off in a
street-sledge to Dupré's to fetch. Late in the evening Lavretsky
returned home; for a long while he sat without undressing, covering his
eyes with his hands in the stupefaction of enchantment. It seemed to
him that now for the first time he understood what made life worth
living; all his previous assumptions, all his plans, all that rubbish
and nonsense had vanished into nothing at once; all his soul was
absorbed in one feeling, in one desire-in the desire of happiness, of
possession, of love, the sweet love of a woman. From that day he began
to go often to the Korobyins. Six months later he spoke to Varvara
Pavlovna, and offered her his hand. His offer was accepted; the general
had long before, almost on the eve of Lavretsky's first visit, inquired
of Mihalevitch how many serfs Lavretsky owned; and indeed Varvara
Pavlovna, who through the whole time of the young man's courtship, and
even at the very moment of his declaration, had preserved her customary
composure and clearness of mind-Varvara Pavlovna too was very well
aware that her suitor was a wealthy man; and Kalliopa Karlovna thought
'meine Tochter macht eine schöne Partie,' and bought herself a new cap.
AND so his offer was accepted, but on certain conditions. In the
first place, Lavretsky was at once to leave the university; who would
be married to a student, and what a strange idea too-how could a
landowner, a rich man, at twenty-six, take lessons and be at school?
Secondly, Varvara Pavlovna took upon herself the labour of ordering and
purchasing her trousseau, and even choosing her present from the
bridegroom. She had much practical sense, a great deal of taste, and a
very great love of comfort, together with a great faculty for obtaining
it for herself. Lavretsky was especially struck by this faculty when,
immediately after their wedding, he travelled alone with his wife in
the comfortable carriage, bought by her, to Lavriky. How carefully
everything with which he was surrounded had been thought of, devised
and provided beforehand by Varvara Pavlovna! What charming travelling
knick-knacks appeared from various snug corners, what fascinating
toilet-cases and coffee-pots, and how delightfully Varvara Pavlovna
herself made the coffee in the morning! Lavretsky, however, was not at
that time disposed to be observant; he was blissful, drunk with
happiness; he gave himself up to it like a child. Indeed he was as
innocent as a child, this young Hercules. Not in vain was the whole
personality of his young wife breathing with fascination; not in vain
was her promise to the senses of a mysterious luxury of untold bliss;
her fulfilment was richer than her promise. When she reached Lavriky in
the very height of the summer, she found the house dark and dirty, the
servants absurd and old-fashioned, but she did not think it necessary
even to hint at this to her husband. If she had proposed to establish
herself at Lavriky, she would have changed everything in it, beginning
of course with the house; but the idea of staying in that
out-of-the-way corner of the steppes never entered her head for an
instant; she lived as in a tent, good-temperedly putting up with all
its inconveniences, and indulgently making merry over them. Marfa
Timofyevna came to pay a visit to her former charge; Varvara Pavlovna
liked her very much, but she did not like Varvara Pavlovna. The new
mistress did not get on with Glafira Petrovna either; she would have
left her in peace, but old Korobyin wanted to have a hand in the
management of his son-in-law's affairs; to superintend the property of
such a near relative, he said, was not beneath the dignity even of a
general. One must add that Pavel Petrovitch would not have been above
managing the property even of a total stranger. Varvara Pavlovna
conducted her attack very skilfully, without taking any step in
advance, apparently completely absorbed in the bliss of the honeymoon,
in the peaceful life of the country, in music and reading, she
gradually worked Glafira up to such a point that she rushed one
morning, like one possessed, into Lavretsky's study, and throwing a
bunch of keys on the table, she declared that she was not equal to
undertaking the management any longer, and did not want to stop in the
place. Lavretsky, having been suitably prepared beforehand, at once
agreed to her departure. This Glafira Petrovna had not anticipated.
'Very well,' she said, and her face darkened, 'I see that I am not
wanted here! I know who is driving me out of the home of my fathers.
Only you mark my words, nephew; you will never make a home anywhere,
you will come to be a wanderer for ever. That is my last word to you.'
The same day she went away to her own little property, and in a week
General Korobyin was there, and with a pleasant melancholy in his looks
and movements he took the superintendence of the whole property into
In the month of September, Varvara Pavlovna carried her husband off
to Petersburg. She passed two winters in Petersburg (for the summer she
went to stay at Tsarskoe Selo), in a splendid, light,
artistically-furnished flat; they made many acquaintances among the
middle and even higher ranks of society; went out and entertained a
great deal, and gave the most charming dances and musical evenings.
Varvara Pavlovna attracted guests as a fire attracts moths. Fedor
Ivanitch did not altogether like such a frivolous life. His wife
advised him to take some office under government; but from old
association with his father, and also through his own ideas, he was
unwilling to enter government service, still he remained in Petersburg
for Varvara Pavlovna's pleasure. He soon discovered, however, that no
one hindered him from being alone; that it was not for nothing that he
had the quietest and most comfortable study in all Petersburg; that his
tender wife was even ready to aid him to be alone; and from that time
forth all went well. He again applied himself to his own, as he
considered, unfinished education; he began again to read, and even
began to learn English. It was a strange sight to see his powerful,
broad-shouldered figure for ever bent over his writing table, his
full-bearded ruddy face half buried in the pages of a dictionary or
note-book. Every morning he set to work, then had a capital dinner
(Varvara Pavlovna was unrivaled as a housekeeper), and in the evenings
he entered an enchanted world of light and perfume, peopled by gay
young faces, and the centre of this world was also the careful
housekeeper, his wife. She rejoiced his heart by the birth of a son,
but the poor child did not live long; it died in the spring, and in the
summer, by the advice of the doctors, Lavretsky took his wife abroad to
a watering-place. Distraction was essential for her after such a
trouble, and her health, too, required a warm climate. The summer and
autumn they spent in Germany and Switzerland, and for the winter, as
one would naturally expect, they went to Paris. In Paris, Varvara
Pavlovna bloomed like a rose, and was able to make herself a little
nest as quickly and cleverly as in Petersburg. She found very pretty
apartments in one of the quiet but fashionable streets in Paris; she
embroidered her husband such a dressing-gown as he had never worn
before; engaged a coquettish waiting maid, an excellent cook, and a
smart footman, procured a fascinating carriage, and an exquisite piano.
Before a week had passed, she crossed the street, wore her shawl,
opened her parasol, and put on her gloves in a manner equal to the most
true-born Parisian. And she soon drew round herself acquaintances. At
first, only Russians visited her, afterwards Frenchmen too, very
agreeable, polite, and unmarried, with excellent manners and
well-sounding names; they all talked a great deal and very fast, bowed
easily, grimaced agreeably; their white teeth flashed under their rosy
lips-and how they could smile! All of them brought their friends, and
la belle Madame de Lavretsky was soon known from Chaussée d'Antin to
Rue de Lille. In those days-it was in 1836-there had not yet arisen the
tribe of journalists and reporters who now swarm on all sides like ants
in an ant-hill; but even then there was seen in Varvara Pavlovna's
salon a certain M. Jules, a gentleman of unprepossessing exterior, with
a scandalous reputation, insolent and mean, like all duellists and men
who have been beaten. Varvara Pavlovna felt a great aversion to this M.
Jules, but she received him because he wrote for various journals, and
was incessantly mentioning her, calling her at one time Madame de
L--tski, at another Madame de --, cette grande dame russe si
distinguée, qui demeure rue de P-- and telling all the world, that is,
some hundreds of readers who had nothing to do with Madame de L--tski,
how charming and delightful this lady was; a true Frenchwoman in
intelligence (une vraie française par l'esprit)-Frenchmen have no
higher praise than this-what an extraordinary musician she was, and how
marvellously she waltzed (Varvara Pavlovna did in fact waltz so that
she drew all her hearts to the hem of her light flying skirts)--in a
word, he spread her fame through the world, and, whatever one may say,
that is pleasant. Mademoiselle Mars had already left the stage, and
Mademoiselle Rachel had not yet made her appearance; nevertheless,
Varvara Pavlovna was assiduous in visiting the theatres. She went into
raptures over Italian music, yawned decorously at the Comédie
Française, and wept at the acting of Madame Dorval in some
ultra-romantic melodrama; and a great thing-Liszt played twice in her
salon, and was so kind, so simple-it was charming! In such agreeable
sensations was spent the winter, at the end of which Varvara Pavlovna
was even presented at court. Fedor Ivanitch, for his part, was not
bored, though his life, at times, weighed rather heavily on him-because
it was empty. He read the papers, listened to the lectures at the
Sorbonne and the Collège de France, followed the debates in the
Chambers, and set to work on a translation of a well-known scientific
treatise on irrigation. 'I am not wasting my time,' he thought, 'it is
all of use; but next winter I must, without fail, return to Russia and
set to work.' It is difficult to say whether he had any clear idea of
precisely what this work would consist of; and there is no telling
whether he would have succeeded in going to Russia in the winter; in
the meantime, he was going with his wife to Baden . . . An unexpected
incident broke up all his plans.
HAPPENING to go one day in Varvara Pavlovna's absence into her
boudoir, Lavretsky saw on the floor a carefully folded little paper. He
mechanically picked it up, unfolded it, and read the following note,
written in French: 'Sweet angel Betsy (I never can make up my mind to
call you Barbe or Varvara), I waited in vain for you at the corner of
the boulevard; come to our little room at half-past one to-morrow. Your
stout good-natured husband (ton gros bonhomme de mari) is usually
buried in his books at that time; we will sing once more the song of
your poet Pouskine (de votre poète Pouskine) that you taught me: "Old
husband, cruel husband!" A thousand kisses on your little hands and
feet. I await you.'ERNEST.'
Lavretsky did not at once understand what he had read; he read it a
second time, and his head began to swim, the ground began to sway under
his feet like the deck of a ship in a rolling sea. He began to cry out
and gasp and weep all at the same instant.
He was utterly overwhelmed. He had so blindly believed in his wife;
the possibility of deception, of treason, had never presented itself to
his mind. This Ernest, his wife's lover, was a fair-haired pretty boy
of three-and-twenty, with a little turned-up nose and refined little
moustaches, almost the most insignificant of all her acquaintances. A
few minutes passed, half an hour passed, Lavretsky still stood,
crushing the fatal note in his hands, and gazing senselessly at the
floor; across a kind of tempest of darkness pale shapes hovered about
him; his heart was numb with anguish; he seemed to be falling,
falling-and a bottomless abyss was opening at his feet. A familiar
light rustle of a silk dress roused him from his numbness; Varvara
Pavlovna in her hat and shawl was returning in haste from her walk.
Lavretsky trembled all over and rushed away; he felt that at that
instant he was capable of tearing her to pieces, beating her to death,
as a peasant might do, strangling her with his own hands. Varvara
Pavlovna in amazement tried to stop him; he could only whisper,
'Betsy,'-and ran out of the house.
Lavretsky took a cab and ordered the man to drive him out of the
town. All the rest of the day and the whole night he wandered about,
constantly stopping short and wringing his hands, at one moment he was
mad, and the next he was ready to laugh, was even merry after a
fashion. By the morning he grew calm through exhaustion, and went into
a wretched tavern in the outskirts, asked for a room and sat down on a
chair before the window. He was overtaken by a fit of convulsive
yawning. He could scarcely stand upright, his whole body was worn out,
and he did not even feel fatigue, though fatigue began to do its work;
he sat and gazed and comprehended nothing; he did not understand what
had happened to him, why he found himself alone, with his limbs stiff,
with a taste of bitterness in his mouth, with a load on his heart, in
an empty unfamiliar room; he did not understand what had impelled her,
his Varya, to give herself to this Frenchman, and how, knowing herself
unfaithful, she could go on being just as calm, just as affectionate,
as confidential with him as before! 'I cannot understand it!' his
parched lips whispered. 'Who can guarantee now that even in Petersburg'
. . . And he did not finish the question, and yawned again, shivering
and shaking all over. Memories-bright and gloomy-fretted him alike;
suddenly it crossed his mind how some days before she had sat down to
the piano and sung before him and Ernest the song, 'Old husband, cruel
husband!' He recalled the expression of her face, the strange light in
her eyes, and the colour on her cheeks-and he got up from his seat, he
would have liked to go to them, to tell them: 'You were wrong to play
your tricks on me; my great-grandfather used to hang the peasants up by
their ribs, and my grandfather was himself a peasant,' and to kill them
both. Then all at once it seemed to him as if all that was happening
was a dream, scarcely even a dream, but some kind of foolish joke; that
he need only shake himself and look round.. . . He looked round, and
like a hawk clutching its captured prey, anguish gnawed deeper and
deeper into his heart. To complete it all, Lavretsky had been hoping in
a few months to be a father.. . . The past, the future, his whole life
was poisoned. He went back at last to Paris, stopped at an hotel and
sent M. Ernest's note to Varvara Pavlovna with the following letter:-
'The enclosed scrap of paper will explain everything to you. Let me
tell you by the way, that I was surprised at you; you, who are always
so careful, to leave such valuable papers lying about.' (Poor Lavretsky
had spent hours preparing and gloating over this phrase.) 'I cannot see
you again; I imagine that you, too, would hardly desire an interview
with me. I am assigning you 15,000 francs a year; I cannot give more.
Send your address to the office of the estate. Do what you please; live
where you please. I wish you happiness. No answer is needed.'
Lavretsky wrote to his wife that he needed no answer . . . but he
waited, he thirsted for a reply, for an explanation of this incredible,
inconceivable thing. Varvara Pavlovna wrote him the same day a long
letter in French. It put the finishing touch; his last doubts
vanished,-and he began to feel ashamed that he had still had any doubt
left. Varvara Pavlovna did not attempt to defend herself; her only
desire was to see him, she besought him not to condemn her irrevocably.
The letter was cold and constrained, though here and there traces of
tears were visible. Lavretsky smiled bitterly, and sent word by the
messenger that it was all right. Three days later he was no longer in
Paris; but he did not go to Russia, but to Italy. He did not know
himself why he fixed upon Italy; he did not really care where he
went-so long as it was not home. He sent instructions to his steward on
the subject of his wife's allowance, and at the same time told him to
take all control of his property out of General Korobyin's hands at
once, without waiting for him to draw up an account, and to make
arrangements for his Excellency's departure from Lavriky; he could
picture vividly the confusion, the vain airs of self-importance of the
dispossessed general, and in the midst of all his sorrow, he felt a
kind of spiteful satisfaction. At the same time he asked Glafira
Petrovna by letter to return to Lavriky, and drew up a deed authorising
her to take possession; Glafira Petrovna did not return to Lavriky, and
printed in the newspapers that the deed was cancelled, which was
perfectly unnecessary on her part. Lavretsky kept out of sight in a
small Italian town, but for a long time he could not help following his
wife's movements. From the newspapers he learned that she had gone from
Paris to Baden as she had arranged; her name soon appeared in an
article written by the same M. Jules. In this article there was a kind
of sympathetic condolence apparent under the habitual playfulness;
there was a deep sense of disgust in the soul of Fedor Ivanitch as he
read this article. Afterwards he learned that a daughter had been born
to him; two months later he received a notification from his steward
that Varvara Pavlovna had asked for the first quarter's allowance. Then
worse and worse rumours began to reach him; at last, a tragic-comic
story was reported with acclamations in all the papers. His wife played
an unenviable part in it. It was the finishing stroke; Varvara Pavlovna
had become a 'notoriety.'
Lavretsky ceased to follow her movements; but he could not quickly
gain mastery over himself. Sometimes he was overcome by such a longing
for his wife that he would have given up everything, he thought, even,
perhaps . . . could have forgiven her, only to hear her caressing voice
again, to feel again her hand in his. Time, however, did not pass in
vain. He was not born to be a victim; his healthy nature reasserted its
rights. Much became clear to him; even the blow that had fallen on him
no longer seemed to him to have been quite unforeseen; he understood
his wife,-we can only fully understand those who are near to us, when
we are separated from them. He could take up his interests, could work
again, though with nothing like his former zeal; scepticism,
half-formed already by the experiences of his life, and by his
education, took complete possession of his heart. He became indifferent
to everything. Four years passed by, and he felt himself strong enough
to return to his country, to meet his own people. Without stopping at
Petersburg or at Moscow he came to the town of O--, where we parted
from him, and whither we will now ask the indulgent reader to return
THE MORNING after the day we have described, at ten o'clock,
Lavretsky was mounting the steps of the Kalitins' house. He was met by
Lisa coming out in her hat and gloves.
'Where are you going?' he asked her.
'To service. It is Sunday.'
'Why do you go to church?'
Lisa looked at him in silent amazement.
'I beg your pardon,' said Lavretsky; 'I-I did not mean to say that;
I have come to say good-bye to you, I am starting for my village in an
'Is it far from here?' asked Lisa.
Lenotchka made her appearance in the doorway, escorted by a maid.
'Mind you don't forget us,' observed Lisa, and went down the steps.
'And don't you forget me. And listen,' he added, 'you are going to
church; while you are there, pray for me, too.'
Lisa stopped short and turned round to him: 'Certainly,' she said,
looking him straight in the face, 'I will pray for you too. Come,
In the drawing-room Lavretsky found Marya Dmitrievna alone. She was
redolent of eau de Cologne and mint. She had, as she said, a headache,
and had passed a restless night. She received him with her usual
languid graciousness and gradually fell into conversation.
'Vladimir Nikolaitch is really a delightful young man, don't you
think so?' she asked him.
'What Vladimir Nikolaitch?'
'Panshin to be sure, who was here yesterday. He took a tremendous
fancy to you; I will tell you a secret, mon cher cousin, he is simply
crazy about my Lisa. Well, he is of good family, has a capital position
in the service, and a clever fellow, a kammer-yunker, and if it is
God's will, I for my part, as a mother, shall be well pleased. My
responsibility of course is immense; the happiness of children depends,
no doubt, on parents; still I may say, up till now, for better or for
worse I have done everything, I alone have been everywhere with them,
that is to say, I have educated my children and taught them everything
myself. Now, indeed, I have written for a French governess from Madame
Marya Dmitrievna launched into a description of her cares and
anxieties and maternal sentiments. Lavretsky listened in silence,
turning his hat in his hands. His cold, weary glance embarrassed the
'And do you like Lisa?' she asked.
'Lisaveta Mihalovna is an excellent girl,' replied Lavretsky, and
he got up, took his leave, and went off to Marfa Timofyevna. Marya
Dmitrievna looked after him in high displeasure, and thought, 'What a
dolt, a regular peasant! Well, now I understand why his wife could not
remain faithful to him.'
Marfa Timofyevna was sitting in her room, surrounded by her little
court. It consisted of five creatures almost equally near her heart; a
big-cropped, learned bullfinch, which she had taken a fancy to because
he had lost his accomplishments of whistling and drawing water; a very
timid and peaceable little dog, Roska; an ill-tempered cat, Matross; a
dark-faced, agile little girl of nine years old, with big eyes and a
sharp nose, called Shurotchka; and an elderly woman of fifty-five, in a
white cap and a cinnamon-coloured abbreviated jacket, over a dark
skirt, by name, Nastasya Karpovna Ogarkov. Shurotchka was an orphan of
the tradesman class. Marfa Timofyevna had taken her to her heart like
Roska, from compassion; she had found the little dog and the little
girl too in the street; both were thin and hungry, both were being
drenched by the autumn rain; no one came in search of Roska, and
Shurotchka was given up to Marfa Timofyevna with positive eagerness by
her uncle, a drunken shoemaker, who did not get enough to eat himself,
and did not feed his niece, but beat her over the head with his last.
With Nastasya Karpovna Marfa Timofyevna had made acquaintance on a
pilgrimage at a monastery; she had gone up to her at the church (Marfa
Timofyevna took a fancy to her because in her own words she said her
prayers so prettily) and had addressed her and invited her to a cup of
tea. From that day she never parted from her.
Nastasya Karpovna was a woman of the most cheerful and gentle
disposition, a widow without children, of poor noble family; she had a
round grey head, soft white hands, a soft face with large mild
features, and a rather absurd turned-up nose; she stood in awe of Marfa
Timofyevna, and the latter was very fond of her, though she laughed at
her susceptibility. She had a soft place in her heart for every young
man, and could not help blushing like a girl at the most innocent joke.
Her whole fortune consisted of only 1200 roubles; she lived at Marfa
Timofyevna's expense, but on an equal footing with her: Marfa
Timofyevna would not have put up with any servility.
'Ah! Fedya,' she began, directly she saw him, 'last night you did
not see my family, you must admire them, we are all here together for
tea; this is our second, holiday tea. You can make friends with them
all; only Shurotchka won't let you, and the cat will scratch. Are you
'Yes.' Lavretsky sat down on a low seat, 'I have just said good-bye
to Marya Dmitrievna. I saw Lisaveta Mihalovna too.'
'Call her Lisa, my dear fellow. Mihalovna indeed to you! But sit
still, or you will break Shurotchka's little chair.'
'She has gone to church,' continued Lavretsky. 'Is she religious?'
'Yes, Fedya, very much so. More than you and I, Fedya.'
'Aren't you religious then?' lisped Nastasya Karpovna. 'To-day, you
have not been to the early service, but you are going to the late.'
'No, not at all; you will go alone; I have grown too lazy, my
dear,' replied Marfa Timofyevna. 'Already I am indulging myself with
tea.' She addressed Nastasya Karpovna in the singular, though she
treated her as an equal. She was not a Pestov for nothing: three
Pestovs had been on the death-list of Ivan the Terrible, Marfa
Timofyevna was well aware of the fact.
'Tell me please,' began Lavretsky again, 'Marya Dmitrievna has just
been talking to me about this-what's his name? Panshin. What sort of a
man is he?'
'What a chatterbox she is, Lord save us!' muttered Marfa
Timofyevna. 'She told you, I suppose, as a secret that he has turned up
as a suitor. She might have whispered it to her priest's son; no, he's
not enough for her, it seems. And so far there's nothing to tell, thank
God, but already she's gossiping about it.'
'Why thank God?' asked Lavretsky.
'Because I don't like the fine young gentleman; and so what is
there to be glad of in it?'
'You don't like him?'
'No, he can't fascinate every one. He must be satisfied with
Nastasya Karpovna's being in love with him.'
The poor widow was utterly dismayed.
'How can you, Marfa Timofyevna? you've no conscience!' she cried,
and a crimson flush instantly overspread her face and neck.
'And he knows, to be sure, the rogue,' Marfa Timofyevna interrupted
her, 'he knows how to captivate her; he made her a present of a
snuff-box. Fedya, ask her for a pinch of snuff; you will see what a
splendid snuff-box it is; on the lid a hussar on horseback. You'd
better not try to defend yourself, my dear.'
Nastasya Karpovna could only fling up her hands.
'Well, but Lisa,' inquired Lavretsky, 'is the indifferent to him?'
'She seems to like him, but there, God knows! The heart of another,
you know, is a dark forest, and a girl's more than any. Shurotchka's
heart, for instance-I defy you to understand it! What makes her hide
herself and not come out ever since you came in?'
Shurotchka choked with suppressed laughter and skipped out of the
room. Lavretsky rose from his place.
'Yes,' he said in an uncertain voice, 'there is no deciphering a
He began to say good-bye.
'Well, shall we see you again soon?' inquired Marfa Timofyevna.
'Very likely, aunt: it's not far off, you know.'
'Yes, to be sure you are going to Vassilyevskoe. You don't care to
stay at Lavriky: well, that's your own affair, only mind you go and say
a prayer at our mother's grave, and our grandmother's too while you are
there. Out there in foreign parts you have picked up all kinds of
ideas, but who knows? Perhaps even in their graves they will feel that
you have come to them. And, Fedya, don't forget to have a service sung
too for Glafira Petrovna; here's a silver rouble for you. Take it, take
it, I want to pay for a service for her. I had no love for her in her
lifetime, but all the same there's no denying she was a girl of
character. She was a clever creature; and a good friend to you. And now
go and God be with you, before I weary you.'
And Marfa Timofyevna embraced her nephew.
'And Lisa's not going to marry Panshin; don't you trouble yourself;
that's not the sort of husband she deserves.'
'Oh, I'm not troubling myself,' answered Lavretsky, and went away.
FOUR days later, he set off for home. His coach rolled quickly
along the soft cross-road. There had been no rain for a fortnight; a
fine milky mist was diffused in the air and hung over the distant
woods; a smell of burning came from it. A multitude of darkish clouds
with blurred edges were creeping across the pale blue sky; a fairly
strong breeze blew a dry and steady gale, without dispelling the heat.
Leaning back with his head on the cushion and his arms crossed on his
breast, Lavretsky watched the furrowed fields unfolding like a fan
before him, the willow bushes as they slowly came into sight, and the
dull ravens and rooks, who looked sidelong with stupid suspicion at the
approaching carriage, the long ditches, overgrown with mugwort,
wormwood, and mountain ash; and as he watched the fresh fertile
wilderness and solitude of this steppe country, the greenness, the long
slopes, and valleys with stunted oak bushes, the grey villages, and
scant birch-trees,-the whole Russian landscape, so long unseen by him,
stirred emotion at once pleasant, sweet and almost painful in his
heart, and he felt weighed down by a kind of pleasant oppression.
Slowly his thoughts wandered; their outlines were as vague and
indistinct as the outlines of the clouds which seemed to be wandering
at random overhead. He remembered his childhood, his mother; he
remembered her death, how they had carried him in to her, and how,
clasping his head to her bosom, she had begun to wail over him, then
had glanced at Glafira Petrovna-and checked herself. He remembered his
father, at first vigorous, discontented with everything, with strident
voice; and later, blind, tearful, with unkempt grey beard; he
remembered how one day after drinking a glass too much at dinner, and
spilling the gravy over his napkin, he began to relate his conquests,
growing red in the face, and winking with his sightless eyes; he
remembered Varvara Pavlovna,-and involuntarily shuddered, as a man
shudders from a sudden internal pain, and shook his head. Then his
thoughts came to a stop at Lisa.
'There,' he thought, 'is a new creature, only just entering on
life. A nice girl, what will become of her? She is good-looking too. A
pale, fresh face, mouth and eyes so serious, and an honest innocent
expression. It is a pity she seems a little enthusiastic. A good
figure, and she moves so lightly, and a soft voice. I like the way she
stops suddenly, listens attentively, without a smile, then grows
thoughtful and shakes back her hair. I fancy, too, that Panshin is not
good enough for her. What's amiss with him, though? And besides, what
business have I to wonder about it? She will go along the same road as
all the rest. I had better go to sleep.' And Lavretsky closed his eyes.
He could not sleep, but he sank into the drowsy numbness of a
journey. Images of the past rose slowly as before, floated in his soul,
mixed and tangled up with other fancies. Lavretsky, for some unknown
reason, began to think about Robert Peel, .. about French history-of
how he would gain a battle, if he were a general; he fancied the shots
and the cries. .. His head slipped on one side, he opened his eyes. The
same fields, the same steppe scenery; the polished shoes of the
trace-horses flashed alternately through the driving dust; the
coachman's shirt, yellow with red gussets, was puffed out by the wind.
.. 'A nice home-coming!' glanced through Lavretsky's brain; and he
cried, 'Get on!' wrapped himself in his cloak and pressed close into
the cushion. The carriage jolted; Lavretsky sat up and opened his eyes
wide. On the slope before him stretched a small hamlet; a little to the
right could be seen an ancient manorhouse of small size, with closed
shutters and a winding flight of steps; nettles, green and thick as
hemp, grew over the wide courtyard from the very gates; in it stood a
storehouse built of oak, still strong. This was Vassilyevskoe.
The coachman drove to the gates and drew up; Lavretsky's groom
stood up on the box and as though in preparation for jumping down,
shouted, 'Hey!' There was a sleepy, muffled sound of barking, but not
even a dog made its appearance; the groom again made ready for a jump,
and again shouted 'Hey!' The feeble barking was repeated, and an
instant after a man from some unseen quarter ran into the courtyard,
dressed in a nankeen coat, his head as white as snow; he stared at the
coach, shading his eyes from the sun; all at once he slapped his thighs
with both hands, ran to and fro a little, then rushed to open the
gates. The coach drove into the yard, crushing the nettles with the
wheels and drew up at the steps. The white-headed man, who seemed very
alert, was already standing on the bottom step, his legs bent and wide
apart. He unfastened the apron of the carriage, holding back the strap
with a jerk and aiding his master to alight; then kissed his hand.
'How do you do, how do you do, brother?' began Lavretsky. 'Your
name's Anton, I think? You are still alive, then?' The old man bowed
without speaking, and ran off for the keys. While he went, the coachman
sat motionless, sitting sideways and staring at the closed door, but
Lavretsky's groom stood as he had leaped down in a picturesque pose
with one arm thrown back on the box. The old man brought the keys, and,
quite needlessly, twisting about like a snake, with his elbows raised
high, he opened the door, stood on one side, and again bowed to the
'So here I am at home, here I am back again,' thought Lavretsky, as
he walked into the diminutive passage, while one after another the
shutters were being opened with much creaking and knocking, and the
light of day poured into the deserted rooms.
THE SMALL manor-house to which Lavretsky had come and in which two
years before Glafira Petrovna had breathed her last, had been built in
the preceding century of solid pine-wood; it looked ancient, but it was
still strong enough to stand another fifty years or more. Lavretsky
made the tour of all the rooms, and to the great discomfiture of the
aged languid flies, settled under the lintels and covered with white
dust, he ordered the windows to be opened everywhere; they had not been
opened ever since the death of Glafira Petrovna. Everything in the
house had remained as it was; the thin-legged white miniature couches
in the drawing-room, covered with glossy grey stuff, threadbare and
rickety, vividly suggested the days of Catherine; in the drawing-room,
too, stood the mistress's favourite arm-chair, with high straight back,
against which she never leaned even in her old age. On the principal
wall hung a very old portrait of Fedor's great-grandfather, Andrey
Lavretsky; the dark yellow face was scarcely distinguishable from the
warped and blackened background; the small cruel eyes looked grimly out
from beneath the eyelids, which dropped as if they were swollen; his
black unpowdered hair rose bristling above his heavy indented brow. In
the corner of the portrait hung a wreath of dusty immortelles. 'Glafira
Petrovna herself was pleased to make it,' Anton announced. In the
bedroom stood a narrow bedstead, under a canopy of old-fashioned and
very good striped material; a heap of faded cushions and a thin quilted
counterpane lay on the bed, and at the head hung a picture of the
Presentation in the Temple of the Holy Mother of God; it was the very
picture which the old maid, dying alone and forgotten by every one, had
for the last time pressed to her chilling lips. A little toilet table
of inlaid wood, with brass fittings and a warped looking-glass in a
tarnished frame stood in the window. Next to the bedroom room was the
little ikon room with bare walls and a heavy case of holy images in the
corner; on the floor lay a threadbare rug spotted with wax; Glafira
Petrovna used to pray bowing to the ground upon it. Anton went away
with Lavretsky's groom to unlock the stable and coach-house; to replace
him appeared an old woman of about the same age, with a handkerchief
tied round to her very eyebrows; her head shook, and her eyes were dim,
but they expressed zeal, the habit of years of submissive service, and
at the same time a kind of respectful commiseration. She kissed
Lavretsky's hand and stood still in the doorway awaiting his orders. He
positively could not recollect her name and did not even remember
whether he had ever seen her. Her name, it appeared, was Apraxya; forty
years before, Glafira Petrovna had put her out of the master's house
and ordered that she should be poultry-woman. She said little, however;
she seemed to have lost her senses from old age, and could only gaze at
him obsequiously. Besides these two old creatures and three pot-bellied
children in long smocks, Anton's great-grandchildren, there was also
living in the manor-house a one-armed peasant, who was exempted from
servitude; he muttered like a woodcock and was of no use for anything.
Not much more useful was the decrepit dog who had saluted Lavretsky's
return by its barking; he had been for ten years fastened up by a heavy
chain, purchased at Glafira Petrovna's command, and was scarcely able
to move and drag the weight of it. Having looked over the house,
Lavretsky went into the garden and was very much pleased with it. It
was all overgrown with high grass, and burdock, and gooseberry and
raspberry bushes, but there was plenty of shade, and many old
lime-trees, which were remarkable for their immense size and the
peculiar growth of their branches; they had been planted too close and
at some time or other-a hundred years before-they had been lopped. At
the end of the garden was a small clear pool bordered with high reddish
rushes. The traces of human life very quickly pass away; Glafira
Petrovna's estate had not had time to become quite wild, but already it
seemed plunged in that quiet slumber in which everything reposes on
earth where there is not the infection of man's restlessness. Fedor
Ivanitch walked also through the village; the peasant-women stared at
him from the doorways of their huts, their cheeks resting on their
hands; the peasants saluted him from a distance, the children ran out,
and the dogs barked indifferently. At last he began to feel hungry; but
he did not expect his servants and his cook till the evening; the
waggons of provisions from Lavriky had not come yet, and he had to have
recourse to Anton. Anton arranged matters at once; he caught, killed,
and plucked an old hen; Apraxya gave it a long rubbing and cleaning,
and washed it like linen before putting it into the stew-pan; when, at
last, it was cooked, Anton laid the cloth and set the table, placing
beside the knife and fork a three-legged saltcellar of tarnished plate
and a cut decanter with a round glass stopper and a narrow neck; then
he announced to Lavretsky in a sing-song voice that the meal was ready,
and took his stand behind his chair, with a napkin twisted round his
right fist, and diffusing about him a peculiar strong ancient odour,
like the scent of a cypress-tree. Lavretsky tried the soup, and took
out the hen; its skin was all covered with large blisters; a tough
tendon ran up each leg; the meat had a flavour of wood and soda. When
he had finished dinner, Lavretsky said that he would drink a cup to
tea, if--'I will bring it this minute,' the old man interrupted. And he
kept his word. A pinch of tea was hunted up, twisted in a screw of red
paper; a small but very fiery and loudly-hissing samovar was found, and
sugar too in small lumps, which looked as if they were thawing.
Lavretsky drank tea out of a large cup; he remembered this cup from
childhood; there were playing-cards depicted upon it, only visitors
used to drink out of it-and here was he drinking out of it like a
visitor. In the evening his servants came; Lavretsky did not care to
sleep in his aunt's bed; he directed them to put him up a bed in the
dining-room. After extinguishing his candle he stared for a long time
about him and fell into cheerless reflection; he experienced that
feeling which every man knows whose lot it is to pass the night in a
place long uninhabited; it seemed to him that the darkness surrounding
him on all sides could not be accustomed to the new inhabitant, the
very walls of the house seemed amazed. At last he sighed, drew up the
counterpane round him and fell asleep. Anton remained up after all the
rest of the household; he was whispering a long while with Apraxya, he
sighed in an undertone, and twice he crossed himself; they had neither
of them expected that their master would settle among them at
Vassilyevskoe when he had not far off such a splendid estate with such
a capitally built house; they did not suspect that the very house was
hateful to Lavretsky; it stirred painful memories within him. Having
gossiped to his heart's content, Anton took a stick and struck the
night watchman's board, which had hung silent for so many years, and
laid down to sleep in the courtyard with no covering on his white head.
The May night was mild and soft, and the old man slept sweetly.
THE NEXT day Lavretsky got up rather early, had a talk with the
village bailiff, visited the threshing-floor, ordered the chain to be
taken off the yard dog, who only barked a little, but did not even come
out of his kennel, and, returning home, sank into a kind of peaceful
torpor, which he did not shake off the whole day.
'Here I am at the very bottom of the river,' he said to himself
more than once. He sat at the window without stirring, and, as it were,
listened to the current of the quiet life surrounding him, to the few
sounds of the country solitude. Something from behind the nettles
chirps with a shrill, shrill little note; a gnat seems to answer it.
Now it has ceased, but still the gnat keeps up its sharp whirr; across
the pleasant, persistent, fretful buzz of the flies sounds the hum of a
big bee, constantly knocking its head against the ceiling; a cock crows
in the street, hoarsely prolonging the last note; there is the rattle
of a cart; in the village a gate is creaking. Then the jarring voice of
a peasant woman, 'What?' 'Hey, you are my little sweetheart,' cries
Anton to the little two-year-old girl he is dandling in his arms.
'Fetch the kvas,' repeats the same woman's voice, and all at once there
follows a deathly silence; nothing rattles, nothing is moving; the wind
is not stirring a leaf; without a sound the swallows fly one after
another over the earth, and sadness weighs on the heart from their
noiseless flight. 'Here I am at the very bottom of the river,' thought
Lavretsky again. 'And always, at all times life here is quiet,
unhasting,' he thought; 'whoever comes within its circle must submit;
here there is nothing to agitate, nothing to harass; one can only get
on here by making one's way slowly, as the ploughman cuts the furrow
with his plough. And what vigour, what health abound in this inactive
place! Here under the window the sturdy burdock creeps out of the thick
grass; above it the lovage trails its juicy stalks and the Virgin's
tears fling still higher their pink tendrils; and yonder further in the
fields is the silky rye, and the oats are already in ear, and every
leaf on every tree, every grass on its stalk is spread to its fullest
width. In the love of a woman my best years have gone by,' Lavretsky
went on thinking, 'let me be sobered by the sameness of life here, let
me be soothed and made ready, so that I may learn to do my duty without
haste.' And again he fell to listening to the silence, expecting
nothing-and at the same time constantly expecting something; the
silence enfolded him on all sides, the sun moved calmly in the peaceful
blue sky, and the clouds sailed calmly across it; they seemed to know
why and whither they were sailing. At this same time in other places on
the earth there is the seething, the bustle, the clash of life; life
here slipped by noiseless, as water over marshy grass; and even till
evening Lavretsky could not tear himself from the contemplation of this
life as it passed and glided by; sorrow for the past was melting in his
soul like snow in spring, and strange to say, never had the feeling of
home been so deep and strong within him.
IN the course of a fortnight, Fedor Ivanitch had brought Glafira
Petrovna's little house into order and had cleared the court-yard and
the garden. From Lavriky comfortable furniture was sent him; from the
town, wine, books, and papers; horses made their appearance in the
stable; in brief Fedor Ivanitch provided himself with everything
necessary and began to live-not precisely after the manner of a country
landowner, nor precisely after the manner of a hermit. His days passed
monotonously; but he was not bored though he saw no one; he set
diligently and attentively to work at farming his estate, rode about
the neighbourhood and did some reading. He read little, however; he
found it pleasanter to listen to the tales of old Anton. Lavretsky
usually sat at the window with a pipe and a cup of cold tea. Anton
stood at the door, his hands crossed behind him, and began upon his
slow, deliberate stories of old times, of those fabulous times when
oats and rye were not sold by measure, but in great sacks, at two or
three farthings a sack; when there were impassable forests, virgin
steppes stretching on every side, even close to the town. 'And now,'
complained the old man, whose eightieth year had passed, 'there has
been so much clearing, so much ploughing everywhere, there's nowhere
you may drive now.' Anton used to tell many stories, too, of his
mistress, Glafira Petrovna; how prudent and saving she was; how a
certain gentleman, a young neighbour, had paid her court, and used to
ride over to see her, and how she was even pleased to put on her best
cap, with ribbons of salmon colour, and her yellow gown of tru-tru
lévantine for him; but how, later on, she had been angry with the
gentleman neighbour for his unseemly inquiry, 'What, madam, pray, might
be your fortune?' and had bade them refuse him the house; and how it
was then that she had given directions that, after her decease,
everything to the last rag should pass to Fedor Ivanitch. And, indeed,
Lavretsky found all his aunt's household goods intact, not excepting
the best cap with ribbons of salmon colour, and the yellow gown of
tru-tru lévantine. Of old papers and interesting documents, upon which
Lavretsky had reckoned, there seemed no trace, except one old book, in
which his grandfather, Piotr Andreitch, had inscribed in one place,
'Celebration in the city of Saint Petersburg of the peace, concluded
with the Turkish empire by his Excellency Prince Alexander
Alexandrovitch Prozorovsky;' in another place a recipe for a pectoral
decoction with the comment, 'This recipe was given to the general's
lady, Prascovya Federovna Soltikov, by the chief priest of the Church
of the Life-giving Trinity, Fedor Avksentyevitch:' in another, a piece
of political news of this kind: 'Somewhat less talk of the French
tigers;' and next this entry: 'In the Moscow Gazette an announcement of
the death of Mr. Senior-Major Mihal Petrovitch Kolitchev. Is not this
the son of Piotr Vassilyevitch Kolitchev? Lavretsky found also some old
calendars and dream-books, and the mysterious work of Ambodik; many
were the memories stirred by the well-known, but long-forgotten Symbols
and Emblems. In Glafira Petrovna's little dressing-table, Lavretsky
found a small packet, tied up with black ribbon, sealed with black
sealing wax, and thrust away in the very farthest corner of the drawer.
In the parcel there lay face to face a portrait, in pastel, of his
father in his youth, with effeminate curls straying over his brow, with
almond-shaped languid eyes and parted lips, and a portrait, almost
effaced, of a pale woman in a white dress with a white rose in her
hand-his mother. Of herself, Glafira Petrovna had never allowed a
portrait to be taken. 'I, myself, little father, Fedor Ivanitch,' Anton
used to tell Lavretsky, 'though I did not then live in the master's
house, still I can remember your great-grandfather, Andrey
Afanasyevitch, seeing that I had come to my eighteenth year when he
died. Once I met him in the garden, and my knees were knocking with
fright indeed; however, he did nothing, only asked me my name, and sent
me into his room for his pocket-handkerchief. He was a gentleman-how
shall I tell you-he didn't look on any one as better than himself. For
your great-grandfather had, I do assure you, a magic amulet; a monk
from Mount Athos made him a present of this amulet. And he told him,
this monk did, "It's for your kindness, Boyar, I give you this; wear
it, and you need not fear judgment." Well, but there, little father, we
know what those times were like; what the master fancied doing, that he
did. Sometimes, if even some gentleman saw fit to cross him in
anything, he would just stare at him and say, "You swim in shallow
water;" that was his favourite saying. And he lived, your
great-grandfather of blessed memory, in a small log-house; and what
goods he left behind him, what silver, and stores of all kinds! All the
storehouses were full and overflowing. He was a manager. That very
decanter, that you were pleased to admire, was his; he used to drink
brandy out of it. But there was your grandfather, Piotr Andreitch,
built himself a palace of stone, but he never grew rich; everything
with him went badly, and he lived worse than his father by far, and he
got no pleasure from it for himself, but spent all his money, and now
there is nothing to remember him by-not a silver spoon has come down
from him, and we have Glafira Petrovna's management to thank for all
that is saved.'
'But is it true,' Lavretsky interrupted him, 'they called her the
'What sort of people called her so, I should like to know!' replied
Anton with an air of displeasure.
'And, little father,' the old man one day found courage to ask,
'what about our mistress, where is she pleased to fix her residence?'
'I am separated from my wife,' Lavretsky answered with an effort,
'please do not ask questions about her.'
'Yes, sir,' replied the old man mournfully.
After three weeks had passed by, Lavretsky rode into O-- to the
Kalitins, and spent an evening with them. Lemm was there; Lavretsky
took a great liking to him. Although thanks to his father, he played no
instrument, he was passionately fond of music, real classical music.
Panshin was not at the Kalitins' that evening. The governor had sent
him off to some place out of the town. Lisa played alone and very
correctly; Lemm woke up, got excited, twisted a piece of paper into a
roll, and conducted. Marya Dmitrievna laughed at first, as she looked
at him, later on she went off to bed; in her own words, Beethoven was
too agitating for her nerves. At midnight Lavretsky accompanied Lemm to
his lodging and stopped there with him till three o'clock in the
morning. Lemm talked a great deal; his bent figure grew erect, his eyes
opened wide and flashed fire; his hair even stood up on his forehead.
It was so long since any one had shown him any sympathy, and Lavretsky
was obviously interested in him, he was plying him with sympathetic and
attentive questions. This touched the old man; he ended by showing the
visitor his music, played and even sang in a faded voice some extracts
from his works, among others the whole of Schiller's balled, Fridolin,
set by him to music. Lavretsky admired it, made him repeat some
passages, and at parting, invited him to stay a few days with him.
Lemm, as he accompanied him as far as the street, agreed at once, and
warmly pressed his hand; but, when he was left standing alone in the
fresh, damp air, in the just dawning sunrise, he looked round him,
shuddered, shrank into himself, and crept up to his little room, with a
guilty air. 'Ich bin wohl nicht klug' (I must be out of my senses), he
muttered, as he lay down in his hard short bed. He tried to say that he
was ill, a few days later, when Lavretsky drove over to fetch him in an
open carriage; but Fedor Ivanitch went up into his room and managed to
persuade him. What produced the most powerful effect upon Lemm was the
circumstance that Lavretsky had ordered a piano from town to be sent
into the country expressly for him.
They set off together to the Kalitins' and spent the evening with
them, but not so pleasantly as on the last occasion. Panshin was there,
he talked a great deal about his expedition, and very amusingly
mimicked and described the country gentry he had seen; Lavretsky
laughed, but Lemm would not come out of his corner, and sat silent,
slightly tremulous all over like a spider, looking dull and sullen, and
he only revived when Lavretsky began to take leave. Even when he was
sitting in the carriage, the old man was still shy and constrained; but
the warm soft air, the light breeze, and the light shadows, the scent
of the grass and the birch-buds, the peaceful light of the starlit,
moonless night, the pleasant tramp and snort of the horses-all the
witchery of the roadside, the spring and the night, sank into the poor
German's soul, and he was himself the first to begin a conversation
HE began talking about music, about Lisa, then of music again. He
seemed to enunciate his words more slowly when he spoke of Lisa.
Lavretsky turned the conversation on his compositions, and half in
jest, offered to write him a libretto.
'H'm, a libretto!' replied Lemm; 'no, that is not in my line; I
have not now the liveliness, the play of the imagination, which is
needed for an opera; I have lost too much of my power. . . But if I
were still able to do something,-I should be contented with a song; of
course I should like to have beautiful words. . .'
He ceased speaking, and sat a long while motionless, his eyes
lifted to the heavens.
'For instance,' he said at last, 'something in this way: "Ye stars,
ye pure stars!"'
Lavretsky turned his face slightly towards him and began to look at
"'Ye stars, pure stars,"' repeated Lemm.. . . "You look down upon
the righteous and the guilty alike. . . but only the pure in heart,"-or
something of that kind-"comprehend you"-that is, no-"love you." But I
am not a poet. I'm not equal to it! Something of that kind, though,
Lemm pushed his hat on to the back of his head; in the dim twilight
of the clear night his face looked paler and younger.
"'And you too,"' he continued, his voice gradually sinking, "'ye
know who loves, who can love, because ye, pure ones, ye alone can
comfort". . . No, that's not it at all! I am not a poet,' he said, 'but
something of that sort.'
'I am sorry I am not a poet,' observed Lavretsky.
'Vain dreams!' replied Lemm, and he buried himself in the corner of
the carriage. He closed his eyes as though he were disposing himself to
A few instants passed. . . Lavretsky listened. . . "'Stars, pure
stars, love,"' muttered the old man.
'Love,' Lavretsky repeated to himself. He sank into thought-and his
heart grew heavy.
'That is beautiful music you have set to Fridolin, Christopher
Fedoritch,' he said aloud, 'but what do you suppose, did that Fridolin
do after the Count had presented him to his wife. . . became her lover,
'You think so,' replied Lemm, 'probably because experience,'-he
stopped suddenly and turned away in confusion. Lavretsky laughed
constrainedly, and also turned away and began gazing at the road.
The stars had begun to grow paler and the sky had turned grey when
the carriage drove up to the steps of the little house in
Vassilyevskoe. Lavretsky conducted his guest to the room prepared for
him, returned to his study and sat down before the window. In the
garden a nightingale was singing its last song before dawn. Lavretsky
remembered that a nightingale had sung in the garden at the Kalitins';
he remembered, too, the soft stir in Lisa's eyes, as at its first
notes, they turned towards the dark window. He began to think of her,
and his heart was calm again. 'Pure maiden,' he murmured half-aloud:
'pure stars,' he added with a smile, and went peacefully to bed.
But Lemm sat a long while on his bed, a music-book on his knees. He
felt as though sweet, unheard melody was haunting him; already he was
all aglow and astir, already he felt the languor and sweetness of its
presence. . . but he could not reach it.
'Neither poet nor musician!' he muttered at last. . . And his tired
head sank wearily on to the pillows.
THE NEXT morning the master of the house and his guest drank tea in
the garden under an old lime-tree. 'Maestro!' said Lavretsky among
other things, 'you will soon have to compose a triumphal cantata.'
'On what occasion?'
'For the nuptials of Mr. Panshin and Lisa. Did you notice what
attention he paid her yesterday? It seems as though things were in a
fair way with them already.'
'That will never be!' cried Lemm.
'Because it is impossible. Though, indeed,' he added after a short
pause, 'everything is possible in this world. Especially here among you
'We will leave Russia out of the question for a time; but what do
you find amiss in this match?'
'Everything is amiss, everything. Lisaveta Mihalovna is a girl of
high principles, serious, of lofty feelings, and he. . . he is a
dilettante, in a word.'
'But suppose she loves him?'
Lemm got up from the bench.
'No, she does not love him, that is to say, she is very pure in
heart, and does not know herself what it means. . . love. Madame von
Kalitin tells her that he is a fine young man, and she obeys Madame von
Kalitin because she is still quite a child, though she is nineteen; she
says her prayers in the morning and in the evening-and that is very
well; but she does not love him. She can only love what is beautiful,
and he is not, that is, his soul is not beautiful.'
Lemm uttered this whole speech coherently, and with fire, walking
with little steps to and fro before the tea-table, and running his eyes
over the ground.
'Dearest maestro!' cried Lavretsky suddenly, 'it strikes me you are
in love with my cousin yourself.'
Lemm stopped short all at once.
'I beg you,' he began in an uncertain voice, 'do not make fun of me
like that. I am not crazy; I look towards the dark grave, not towards a
Lavretsky felt sorry for the old man; he begged his pardon. After
morning tea, Lemm played him his cantata, and after dinner, at
Lavretsky's initiative, there was again talk of Lisa. Lavretsky
listened to him with attention and curiosity.
'What do you say, Christopher Fedoritch,' he said at last, 'you see
everything here seems in good order now, and the garden is in full
bloom, couldn't we invite her over here for a day with her mother and
my old aunt. . . eh? Would you like it?'
Lemm bent his head over his plate.
'Invite her,' he murmured, scarcely audibly.
'But Panshin isn't wanted?'
'No, he isn't wanted,' rejoined the old man with an almost
Two days later Fedor Ivanitch set off to the town to see the
HE found them all at home, but he did not at once disclose his plan
to them; he wanted to discuss it first with Lisa alone. Fortune
favoured him; they were left alone in the drawing-room. They had some
talk; she had had time by now to grow used to him-and she was not shy
as a rule with any one. He listened to her, watched her, and mentally
repeated Lemm's words, and agreed with them. It sometimes happens that
two people who are acquainted, but not on intimate terms with one
another, all of sudden grow rapidly more intimate in a few minutes, and
the consciousness of this greater intimacy is at once expressed in
their eyes, in their soft and affectionate smiles, and in their very
gestures. This was exactly what came to pass with Lavretsky and Lisa.
'So he is like that,' was her thought, as she turned a friendly glance
on him; 'so you are like that,' he too was thinking. And so he was not
very much surprised when she informed him, not without a little
faltering, however, that she had long wished to say something to him,
but she was afraid of offending him.
'Don't be afraid; tell me,' he replied, and stood still before her.
Lisa raised her clear eyes to him.
'You are so good,' she began, and at the same time, she thought:
'Yes, I am sure he is good'. . . 'you will forgive me, I ought not to
dare to speak of it to you. . . but-how could you. . . why did you
separate from you wife?'
Lavretsky shuddered: he looked at Lisa, and sat down near her.
'My child,' he began, 'I beg you, do not touch upon that wound;
your hands are tender, but it will hurt me all the same.'
'I know,' Lisa went on, as though she did not hear him, 'she has
been to blame towards you. I don't want to defend her; but what God has
joined, how can you put asunder?'
'Our convictions on that subject are too different, Lisaveta
Mihalovna,' Lavretsky observed, rather sharply; 'we cannot understand
Lisa grew paler: her whole frame was trembling slightly; but she
was not silenced.
'You must forgive,' she murmured softly, 'if you wish to be
'Forgive!' broke in Lavretsky. 'Ought you not first to know whom
you are interceding for? Forgive that woman, take her back into my
home, that empty, heartless creature! And who told you she wants to
return to me? She is perfectly contented with her position, I can
assure you. . . But what a subject to discuss here! Her name ought
never to be uttered by you. You are too pure, you are not capable of
understanding such a creature.'
'Why abuse her?' Lisa articulated with an effort. The trembling of
her hands was perceptible now. 'You left her yourself, Fedor Ivanitch.'
'But I tell you,' retorted Lavretsky with an involuntary outburst
of impatience, 'you don't know what that woman is!'
'Then why did you marry her?' whispered Lisa, and her eyes fell.
Lavretsky got up quickly from his seat.
'Why did I marry her? I was young and inexperienced; I was
deceived, I was carried away by a beautiful exterior. I knew no women.
I knew nothing. God grant you may make a happier marriage! but let me
tell you, you can be sure of nothing.'
'I too might be unhappy,' said Lisa (her voice had begun to be
unsteady), 'but then I ought to submit, I don't know how to say it; but
if we do not submit'--
Lavretsky clenched his hands and stamped with his foot.
'Don't be angry, forgive me,' Lisa faltered hurriedly.
At that instant Marya Dmitrievna came in. Lisa got up and was going
'Stop a minute,' Lavretsky cried after her unexpectedly. 'I have a
great favour to beg of your mother and you; to pay me a visit in my new
abode. You know, I have had a piano sent over; Lemm is staying with me;
the lilac is in flower now; you will get a breath of country air, and
you can return the same day-will you consent?' Lisa looked towards her
mother; Marya Dmitrievna was assuming an expression of suffering; but
Lavretsky did not give her time to open her mouth; he at once kissed
both her hands. Marya Dmitrievna, who was always susceptible to
demonstrations of feeling, and did not at all anticipate such
effusiveness from the 'dolt,' was melted and gave her consent. While
she was deliberating which day to fix, Lavretsky went up to Lisa, and,
still greatly moved, whispered to her aside: 'Thank you, you are a good
girl; I was to blame.' And her pale face glowed with a bright, shy
smile; her eyes smiled too-up to that instant she had been afraid she
had offended him.
'Vladimir Nikolaitch can come with us?' inquired Marya Dmitrievna.
'Yes,' replied Lavretsky, 'but would it not be better to be just a
'Well, you know, it seems,' began Marya Dmitrievna.
'But as you please,' she added.
It was decided to take Lenotchka and Shurotchka. Marfa Timofyevna
refused to join in the expedition.
'It is hard for me, my darling,' she said, 'to give my old bones a
shaking; and to be sure there's nowhere for me to sleep at your place:
besides, I can't sleep in a strange bed. Let the young folks go
Lavretsky did not succeed in being alone again with Lisa; but he
looked at her in such a way that she felt her heart at rest, and a
little ashamed, and sorry for him. He pressed her hand warmly at
parting; left alone, she fell to musing.
WHEN Lavretsky reached home, he was met at the door of the
drawing-room by a tall, thin man, in a thread-bare blue coat, with a
wrinkled, but lively face, with dishevelled grey whiskers, a long
straight nose, and small fiery eyes. This was Mihalevitch, who had been
his friend at the university. Lavretsky did not at first recognise him,
but embraced him warmly directly he told his name.
They had not met since their Moscow days. Torrents of exclamations
and questions followed; long-buried recollections were brought to
light. Hurriedly smoking pipe after pipe, tossing off tea at a gulp,
and gesticulating with his long hands, Mihalevitch related his
adventures to Lavretsky; there was nothing very inspiriting in them, he
could not boast of success in his undertakings-but he was constantly
laughing a hoarse, nervous laugh. A month previously he had received a
position in the private counting-house of a spirit-tax contractor, two
hundred and fifty miles from the town of O--, and hearing of
Lavretsky's return from abroad he had turned out of his way so as to
see his old friend. Mihalevitch talked as impetuously as in his old
friend. youth; made as much noise and was as effervescent as of old.
Lavretsky was about to acquaint him with his position, but Mihalevitch
interrupted him, muttering hurriedly, 'I have heard, my dear fellow, I
have heard-who could have anticipated it?' and at once turned the
conversation upon general subjects.
'I must set off to-morrow, my dear fellow,' he observed; 'to-day if
you will excuse it, we will sit up late. I want above all to know what
you are like, what are your views and convictions, what you have
become, what life has taught you.' (Mihalevitch still preserved the
phraseology of 1830.) 'As for me, I have changed in much; the waves of
life have broken over my breast-who was it said that?-though in what is
important, essential I have not changed; I believe as of old in the
good, the true: but I do not only believe-I have faith now, yes, I have
faith, faith. Listen, you know I write verses; there is no poetry in
them, but there is truth. I will read you aloud my last poem; I have
expressed my truest convictions in it. Listen.' Mihalevitch fell to
reading his poem: it was rather long, and ended with the following
lines:'I gave myself to new feelings with all my heart,And my soul
became as a child's!And I have burnt all I adored,And now adore all
that I burnt.'
As he uttered the two last lines, Mihalevitch all but shed tears; a
slight spasm-the sign of deep emotion-passed over his wide mouth, his
ugly face lighted up. Lavretsky listened, and listened to him-and the
spirit of antagonism was aroused in him; he was irritated by the
ever-ready enthusiasm of the Moscow student, perpetually at
boiling-point. Before a quarter of an hour had elapsed a heated
argument had broken out between them, one of these endless arguments,
of which only Russians are capable. After a separation of many years
spent in two different worlds, with no clear understanding of the
other's ideas or even of their own, catching at words and replying only
in words, they disputed about the most abstract subjects, and they
disputed as though it were a matter of life and death for both: they
shouted and vociferated so that every one in the house was startled,
and poor Lemm, who had locked himself up in his room directly after
Mihalevitch arrived, was bewildered, and began even to feel vaguely
'What are you after all? a pessimist?' cried Mihalevitch at one
o'clock in the night.
'Are pessimists usually like this?' replied Lavretsky. 'They are
usually all pale and sickly-would you like me to lift you with one
'Well, if you are not a pessimist you are a scepteec, that's still
worse.' Mihalevitch's talk had a strong flavour of his mother-country,
Little Russia. 'And what right have you to be a scepteec? You have had
ill-luck in life, let us admit; that was not your fault; you were born
with a passionate loving heart, and you were unnaturally kept out of
the society of women: the first woman you came across was bound to
'She deceived you too,' observed Lavretsky grimly.
'Granted, granted; I was the tool of destiny in it-what nonsense I
talk, though-there is no such thing as destiny; it is an old habit of
expressing things inexactly. But what does that prove?'
'It proves this, that they distorted me from my childhood.'
'Well, it's for you to straighten yourself! What's the good of
being a man, a male animal? And however that may be, is it possible, is
it permissible, to reduce a personal, so to speak, fact to a general
law, to an infallible principle?'
'How a principle?' interrupted Lavretsky; 'I don't admit-'
'No, it is your principle, your principle,' Mihalevitch interrupted
in his turn.
'You are an egoist, that's what it is!' he was thundering an hour
later: 'you wanted personal happiness, you wanted enjoyment in life,
you wanted to live only for yourself.'
'What do you mean by personal happiness?'
'And everything deceived you; everything crumbled away under your
'What do you mean by personal happiness, I ask you?'
'And it was bound to crumble away. Either you sought support where
it could not be found, or you built your house on shifting sands, or--'
'Speak more plainly, or I can't understand you.
'Or-you may laugh if you like-or you had no faith, no warmth of
heart; intellect, nothing but one farthing's worth of intellect . . .
you are simply a pitiful, antiquated Voltairean, that's what you are!'
'I'm a Voltairean?'
'Yes, like your father, and you yourself do not suspect it.'
'After that,' exclaimed Lavretsky, 'I have the right to call you a
'Alas!' replied Mihalevitch with a contrite air, 'I have not so far
deserved such an exalted title, unhappily.'
'I have found out now what to call you,' cried the same
Mihalevitch, at three o'clock in the morning. 'You are not a sceptic,
nor a pessimist, nor a Voltairean, you are a loafer, and you are a
vicious loafer, a conscious loafer, not a simple loafer. Simple loafers
lie on the stove and do nothing because they don't know how to do
anything; they don't think about anything either, but you are a man of
ideas-and yet you lie on the stove; you could do something-and you do
nothing; you lie idle with a full stomach and look down from above and
say, "It's best to lie idle like this, because whatever people do, is
all rubbish, leading to nothing."'
'And from what do you infer that I lie idle?' Lavretsky protested
stoutly. 'Why do you attribute such ideas to me?'
'And, besides that, you are all, all the tribe of you,' continued
Mihalevitch, 'cultivated loafers. You know which leg the German limps
on, you know what's amiss with the English and the French, and your
pitiful culture goes to make it worse, your shameful idleness, your
abominable inactivity is justified by it. Some are even proud of it:
"I'm such a clever fellow," they say, "I do nothing, while these fools
are in a fuss." Yes! and there are fine gentlemen among us-though I
don't say this as to you-who reduce their whole life to a kind of
stupor of boredom, get used to it, live in it, like-like a mushroom in
white sauce,' Mihalevitch added hastily, and he laughed at his own
comparison. 'Oh! this stupor of boredom is the ruin of Russians. Ours
is the age for work, and the sickening loafer' . . .
'But what is all this abuse about?' Lavretsky clamoured in his
turn. 'Work-doing-you'd better say what is to be done, instead of
abusing me, Desmosthenes of Poltava!'
'There, what a thing to ask! I can't tell you that, brother; that,
every one ought to know for himself,' retorted the Desmosthenes
ironically. 'A landowner, a nobleman, and not know what to do? You have
no faith, or else you would know; no faith-and no intuition.'
'Let me at least have time to breathe; you don't let me have time
to look round,' Lavretsky besought him.
'Not a minute, nor a second!' retorted Mihalevitch with an
imperious wave of the hand. 'Not one second: death does not delay, and
life ought not to delay.'
'And what a time what a place for men to think of loafing!' he
cried at four o'clock, in a voice, however, which showed signs of
sleepiness; 'among us! now! in Russia where every separate
individuality has a duty resting upon him, a solemn responsibility to
God, to the people, to himself. We are sleeping, and the time is
slipping away; we are sleeping.' . . .
'Permit me to observe,' remarked Lavretsky, 'that we are not
sleeping at present, but rather preventing others from sleeping. We are
straining our throats like the cocks-listen! there is one crowing for
the third time.'
This sally made Mihalevitch laugh, and calmed him down. 'Good-bye
till to-morrow,' he said with a smile, and thrust his pipe into his
'Till to-morrow,' repeated Lavretsky. But the friends talked for
more than an hour longer. Their voices were no longer raised, however,
and their talk was quiet, sad, friendly talk.
Mihalevitch set off the next day, in spite of all Lavretsky's
efforts to keep him. Fedor Ivanitch did not succeed in persuading him
to remain; but he talked to him to his heart's content. Mihalevitch, it
appeared, had not a penny to bless himself with. Lavretsky had noticed
with pain the evening before all the tokens and habits of years of
poverty: his boots were shabby, a button was off on the back of his
coat, his hands were unused to gloves, his hair wanted brushing; on his
arrival, he had not even thought of asking to wash, and at supper he
ate like a shark, tearing his meat in his fingers, and crunching the
bones with his strong black teeth. It appeared, too, that he had made
nothing out of his employment, that he now rested all his hopes on the
contractor who was taking him solely in order to have an 'educated man'
in his office.
For all that Mihalevitch was not discouraged, but as idealist or
cynic, lived on a crust of bread, sincerely rejoicing or grieving over
the destinies of humanity, and his own vocation, and troubling himself
very little as to how to escape dying of hunger. Mihalevitch was not
married: but had been in love times beyond number, and had written
poems to all the objects of his adoration; he sang with especial
fervour the praises of a mysterious black-tressed 'noble Polish lady.'
There were rumours, it is true, that this 'noble Polish lady' was a
simple Jewess, very well known to a good many cavalry officers-but,
after all, what do you think-does it really make any difference?
With Lemm, Mihalevitch did not get on; his noisy talk and brusque
manners scared the German, who was unused to such behaviour. One poor
devil detects another by instinct at once, but in old age he rarely
gets on with him, and that is hardly astonishing, he has nothing to
share with him, not even hopes.
Before setting off, Mihalevitch had another long discussion with
Lavretsky, foretold his ruin, if he did not see the error of his ways,
exhorted him to devote himself seriously to the welfare of his
peasants, and pointed to himself as an example, saying that he had been
purified in the furnace of suffering; and in the same breath called
himself several times a happy man, comparing himself with the fowl of
the air and the lily of the field.
'A black lily, any way,' observed Lavretsky.
'Ah, brother, don't be a snob!' retorted Mihalevitch,
good-naturedly, 'but thank God rather that there is pure plebeian blood
in your veins too. But I see you want some pure, heavenly creature to
draw you out of your apathy.'
'Thanks, brother,' remarked Lavretsky. 'I have had quite enough of
those heavenly creatures.'
'Silence, ceeneec!' cried Mihalevitch.
'Cynic,' Lavretsky corrected him.
'Ceeneec, just so,' repeated Mihalevitch unabashed.
Even when he had taken his seat in the carriage, to which his flat,
yellow, strangely light trunk was carried, he still talked; muffled in
a kind of Spanish cloak with a collar, brown with age, and a clasp of
two lion's paws; he went on developing his views on the destiny of
Russia, and waving his swarthy hand in the air, as though he were
sowing the seeds of her future prosperity. The horses started at last.
'Remember my three last words,' he cried, thrusting his whole body
out of the carriage and balancing so, 'Religion, progress, humanity! .
. . Farewell.'
His head, with a foraging cap pulled down over his eyes,
disappeared. Lavretsky was left standing alone on the steps, and he
gazed steadily into the distance along the road till the carriage
disappeared out of sight. 'Perhaps he is right, after all,' he thought
as he went back into the house; 'perhaps I am a loafer.' Many of
Mihalevitch's words had sunk irresistibly into his heart, though he had
disputed and disagreed with him. If a man only has a good heart, no one
can resist him.
TWO days later, Marya Dmitrievna visited Vassilyevskoe according to
her promise, with all her young people. The little girls ran at once
into the garden, while Marya Dmitrievna languidly walked through the
rooms and languidly admired everything. She regarded her visit to
Lavretsky as a sign of great condescension, almost as a deed of
charity. She smiled graciously when Anton and Apraxya kissed her hand
in the old-fashioned house-servants' style; and in a weak voice,
speaking through her nose, asked for some tea. To the great vexation of
Anton, who had put on knitted white gloves for the purpose, tea was not
handed to the grand lady visitor by him, but by Lavretsky's hired
valet, who in the old man's words, had not a notion of what was proper.
To make up for this, Anton resumed his rights at dinner: he took up a
firm position behind Marya Dmitrievna's chair, and would not surrender
his post to any one. The appearance of guests after so long an interval
at Vassilyevskoe fluttered and delighted the old man; it was a pleasure
to him to see that his master was acquainted with such fine gentlefolk.
He was not, however, the only one who was fluttered that day; Lemm,
too, was in agitation. He had put on a rather short snuff-coloured coat
with a swallowtail, and tied his neckhandkerchief stiffly, and he kept
incessantly coughing and making way for people with a cordial and
affable air. Lavretsky noticed with pleasure that his relations with
Lisa were becoming more intimate; she had held out her hand to him
affectionately directly she came in. After dinner Lemm drew out of his
coat-tail pocket, into which he had continually been fumbling, a small
roll of music-paper and compressing his lips he laid it without
speaking on the pianoforte. It was a song composed by him the evening
before, to some old-fashioned German words, in which mention was made
of the stars. Lisa sat down at once to the piano and played at sight
the song.. . . Alas! the music turned out to be complicated and
painfully strained; it was clear that the composer had striven to
express something passionate and deep, but nothing had come of it; the
effort had remained an effort. Lavretsky and Lisa both felt this, and
Lemm understood it. Without uttering a single word, he put his song
back into his pocket, and in reply to Lisa's proposal to play it again,
he only shook his head and said significantly: 'Now-enough!' and
shrinking into himself he turned away.
Towards evening the whole party went out to fish. In the pond
behind the garden there were plenty of carp and groundlings. Marya
Dmitrievna was put in an arm-chair near the banks, in the shade, with a
rug under her feet and the best line was given to her. Anton as an old
experienced angler offered her his services. He zealously put on the
worms, and clapped his hand on them, spat on them and even threw in the
line with a graceful forward swing of his whole body. Marya Dmitrievna
spoke of him the same day to Fedor Ivanitch in the following phrase, in
boarding-school French: 'Il n'y a plus maintenant de ces gens comme ça,
comme autrefois.' Lemm with the two little girls went off further to
the dam of the pond; Lavretsky took up his position near Lisa. The fish
were continually biting, the carp were constantly flashing in the air
with golden and silvery sides as they were drawn in; the cries of
pleasure of the little girls were incessant, even Marya Dmitrievna
uttered a little feminine shriek on two occasions. The fewest fish were
caught by Lavretsky and Lisa; probably this was because they paid less
attention than the others to the angling, and allowed their floats to
swim back right up to the bank. The high reddish reeds rustled quietly
around, the still water shone quietly before them, and quietly too they
talked together. Lisa was standing on a small raft; Lavretsky sat on
the inclined trunk of a willow; Lisa wore a white gown, tied round the
waist with a broad ribbon, also white; her straw hat was hanging on one
hand, and in the other with some effort she held up the crooked rod.
Lavretsky gazed at her pure, somewhat severe profile, at her hair drawn
back behind her ears, at her soft cheeks, which glowed like a little
child's, and thought, 'Oh, how sweet you are, bending over my pond!'
Lisa did not turn to him, but looked at the water, half frowning, to
keep the sun out of her eyes, half smiling. The shade of the lime-tree
near fell upon both.
'Do you know,' began Lavretsky, 'I have been thinking over our last
conversation a great deal, and have come to the conclusion that you are
'That was not at all my intention in--' Lisa was beginning to
reply, and she was overcome with embarrassment.
'You are good,' repeated Lavretsky. 'I am a rough fellow, but I
feel that every one must love you. There's Lemm for instance; he is
simply in love with you.'
Lisa's brows did not exactly frown, they contracted slightly; it
always happened with her when she heard something disagreeable to her.
'I was very sorry for him to-day,' Lavretsky added, 'with his
unsuccessful song. To be young and to fail is bearable; but to be old
and not be successful is hard to bear. And how mortifying it is to feel
that one's forces are deserting one! It is hard for an old man to bear
such blows!. . . Be careful, you have a bite.. . . They say,' added
Lavretsky after a short pause, 'that Vladimir Nikolaitch has written a
very pretty song.'
'Yes,' replied Lisa, 'it is only a trifle, but not bad.'
'And what do you think,' inquired Lavretsky; 'is he a good
'I think he has great talent for music; but so far he has not
worked at it, as he should.'
'Ah! And is he a good sort of man?'
Lisa laughed and glanced quickly at Fedor Ivanitch.
'What a queer question!' she exclaimed, drawing up her line and
throwing it in again further off.
'Why is it queer? I ask you about him, as one who has only lately
come here, as a relation.'
'Yes. I am, it seems, a sort of uncle of yours?'
'Vladimir Nikolaitch has a good heart,' said Lisa, 'and he is
clever; maman likes him very much.'
'And do you like him?'
'He is nice; why should I not like him?'
'Ah!' Lavretsky uttered and ceased speaking. A half-mournful,
half-ironical expression passed over his face. His steadfast gaze
embarrassed Lisa, but he went on smiling.-'Well God grant them
happiness!' he muttered at last, as though to himself, and turned away
'You are mistaken, Fedor Ivanitch,' she said: 'you are wrong in
thinking.. . . But don't you like Vladimir Nikolaitch?' she asked
'No, I don't.'
'I think he has no heart.'
The smile left Lisa's face.
'It is your habit to judge people severely,' she observed after a
'I don't think it is. What right have I to judge others severely,
do you suppose, when I must ask for indulgence myself? Or have you
forgotten that I am a laughing stock to everyone, who is not too
indifferent even to scoff?. . . By the way,' he added, 'did you keep
'Did you pray for me?'
'Yes, I prayed for you, and I pray for you every day. But please do
not speak lightly of that.'
Lavretsky began to assure Lisa that the idea of doing so had never
entered his head, that he had the deepest reverence for every
conviction; then he went off into a discourse upon religion, its
significance in the history of mankind, the significance of
'One must be a Christian,' observed Lisa, not without some effort,
'not so as to know the divine. . . and the. . . earthly, because every
man has to die.'
Lavretsky raised his eyes in involuntary astonishment upon Lisa and
met her gaze.
'What a strange saying you have just uttered!' he said.
'It is not my saying,' she replied.
'Not yours.. . . But what made you speak of death?'
'I don't know. I often think of it.'
'One would not suppose so, looking at you now; you have such a
bright, happy face, you are smiling.'
'Yes, I am very happy just now,' replied Lisa simply.
Lavretsky would have liked to seize both her hands, and press them
'Lisa, Lisa!' cried Marya Dmitrievna, 'do come here, and look what
a fine carp I have caught.'
'In a minute, maman,' replied Lisa, and went towards her, but
Lavretsky remained sitting on his willow. 'I talk to her just as if
life were not over for me,' he thought. As she went away, Lisa hung her
hat on a twig; with strange, almost tender emotion, Lavretsky looked at
the hat, and its long rather crumpled ribbons. Lisa soon came back to
him, and again took her stand on the platform.
'What makes you think Vladimir Nikolaitch has no heart?' she asked
a few minutes later.
'I have told you already that I may be mistaken; time will show,
Lisa grew thoughtful. Lavretsky began to tell her about his daily
life at Vassilyevskoe, about Mihalevitch, and about Anton; he felt a
need to talk to Lisa, to share with her everything that was passing in
his heart; she listened so sweetly, so attentively; her few replies and
observations seemed to him so simple and so intelligent. He even told
Lisa was surprised.
'Really?' she said; 'I thought that I was like my maid, Nastya, I
had no words of my own. She said one day to her sweetheart: "You must
be dull with me; you always talk so finely to me, and I have no words
of my own."'
'And thank God for it!' thought Lavretsky.
MEANWHILE the evening had come on, Marya Dmitrievna expressed a
desire to return home, and the little girls were with difficulty torn
away from the pond, and made ready. Lavretsky declared that he would
escort his guests half-way, and ordered his horse to be saddled. As he
was handing Marya Dmitrievna into the coach, he bethought himself of
Lemm; but the old man could nowhere be found. He had disappeared
directly after the angling was over. Anton, with an energy remarkable
for his years, slammed the doors, and called sharply, 'Go on,
coachman!' The coach started. Marya Dmitrievna and Lisa were seated in
the back seat; the children and their maid in the front. The evening
was warm and still, and the windows were open on both sides. Lavretsky
trotted near the coach on the side of Lisa, with his arm leaning on the
door-he had thrown the reins on the neck of his smoothly-pacing
horse-and now and then he exchanged a few words with the young girl.
The glow of sunset was disappearing; night came on, but the air seemed
to grow even warmer. Marya Dmitrievna was soon slumbering, the little
girls and the maid fell asleep also. The coach rolled swiftly and
smoothly along; Lisa was bending forward, she felt happy; the rising
moon lighted up her face, the fragrant night breeze breathed on her
eyes and cheeks. Her hand rested on the coach door near Lavretsky's
hand. And he was happy; borne along in the still warmth of the night,
never taking his eyes off the good young face, listening to the young
voice that was melodious even in a whisper, as it spoke of simple, good
things, he did not even notice that he had gone more than half-way. He
did not want to wake Marya Dmitrievna, he lightly pressed Lisa's hand
and said, 'I think we are friends now, aren't we?' She nodded, he
stopped, his horse, and the coach rolled away, lightly swaying and
oscillating up and down; Lavretsky turned homeward at a walking pace.
The witchery of the summer night enfolded him; all around him seemed
suddenly so strange-and at the same time so long known, so sweetly
familiar. Everywhere near and afar-and one could see into the far
distance, though the eye could not make out clearly much of what was
seen-all was at peace; youthful, blossoming life seemed expressed in
this deep peace. Lavretsky's horse stepped out bravely, swaying evenly
to right and left; its great black shadow moved along beside it. There
was something strangely sweet in the tramp of its hoofs, a strange
charm in the ringing cry of the quails. The stars were lost in a bright
mist; the moon, not yet at the full, shone with steady brilliance; its
light was shed in an azure stream over the sky, and fell in patches of
smoky gold on the thin clouds as they drifted near. The freshness of
the air drew a slight moisture into the eyes, sweetly folded all the
limbs, and flowed freely into the lungs. Lavretsky rejoiced in it, and
was glad at his own rejoicing. 'Come, we are still alive,' he thought;
'we have not been altogether destroyed by'-he did not say-by whom or by
what. Then he fell to thinking of Lisa, that she could hardly love
Panshin, that if he had met her under different circumstances-God knows
what might have come of it; that he understood Lemm though Lisa had no
words of 'her own;' but that, he thought, was not true; she had words
of her own. 'Don't speak lightly of that,' came back to Lavretsky's
mind. He rode a long way with his head bent in thought, then drawing
himself up, he slowly repeated aloud:'And I have burnt all I adored,And
now I adore all that I burnt.'Then he gave his horse a switch with the
whip, and galloped all the way home.
Dismounting from his horse, he looked round for the last time with
an involuntary smile of gratitude. Night, still, kindly night stretched
over hills and valleys; from after, out of its fragrant depths-God
knows whence-whether from the heavens or the earth-rose a soft, gentle
warmth. Lavretsky sent a last greeting to Lisa, and ran up the steps.
The next day passed rather dully. Rain was falling from early
morning; Lemm wore a scowl, and kept more and more tightly compressing
his lips, as though he had taken an oath never to open them again. When
he went to his room, Lavretsky took up to bed with him a whole bundle
of French newspapers, which had been lying for more than a fortnight on
his table unopened. He began indifferently to tear open the wrappings,
and glanced hastily over the columns of the newspapers-in which,
however, there was nothing new. He was just about to throw them
down-and all at once he leaped out of bed as if he had been stung. In
an article in one of the papers, M. Jules, with whom we are already
familiar, communicated to his readers a 'mournful intelligence, that
charming, fascinating Moscow lady,' he wrote, 'one of the queens of
fashion, who adorned Parisian salons, Madame de Lavretsky, had died
almost suddenly, and this intelligence, unhappily only too
well-founded, had only just reached him, M. Jules. He was,' so he
continued, 'he might say a friend of the deceased.'
Lavretsky dressed, went out into the garden, and till morning he
walked up and down the same path.
THE NEXT morning, over their tea, Lemm asked Lavretsky to let him
have the horses to return to town. 'It's time for me to set to work,
that is, to my lessons,' observed the old man. 'Besides, I am only
wasting time here.' Lavretsky did not reply at once; he seemed
abstracted. 'Very good,' he said at last; 'I will come with you
myself.' Unaided by the servants, Lemm, groaning and wrathful, packed
his small box and tore up and burnt a few sheets of music-paper. The
horses were harnessed. As he came out of his own room, Lavretsky put
the paper he had read last night in his pocket. During the whole course
of the journey both Lemm and Lavretsky spoke little to one another;
each was occupied with his own thoughts, and each was glad not to be
disturbed by the other; and they parted rather coolly, which is often
the way, however, with friends in Russia. Lavretsky conducted the old
man to his little house; the latter got out, took his trunk, and
without holding out his hand to his friend (he was holding his trunk in
both arms before his breast), without even looking at him, he said to
him in Russian, 'good-bye!' 'Good-bye,' repeated Lavretsky, and bade
the coachman drive to his lodging. He had taken rooms in the town of
O--. . . After writing a few letters and hastily dining, Lavretsky went
to the Kalitins'. In their drawing-room he found only Panshin, who
informed him that Marya Dmitrievna would be in directly, and at once,
with charming cordiality, entered into conversation with him. Until
that day, Panshin had always treated Lavretsky, not exactly haughtily,
but at least condescendingly; but Lisa, in describing her expedition of
the previous day to Panshin, had spoken of Lavretsky as an excellent
and clever man, that was enough; he felt bound to make a conquest of an
'excellent man.' Panshin began with compliments to Lavretsky, with a
description of the rapture in which, according to him, the whole family
of Marya Dmitrievna spoke of Vassilyevskoe; and then, according to his
custom, passing neatly to himself, began to talk about his pursuits,
and his views on life, the world and government service; uttered a
sentence or two upon the future of Russia, and the duty of rulers to
keep a strict hand over the country; and at this point laughed
light-heartedly at his own expense, and added that among other things
he had been intrusted in Petersburg with the duty de populariser I'idée
du cadastre. He spoke somewhat at length, passing over all difficulties
with careless self-confidence, and playing with the weightiest
administrative and political questions, as a juggler plays with balls.
The expressions: 'That's what I would do if I were in the government;'
'you as a man of intelligence, will agree with me at once,' were
constantly on his lips. Lavretsky listened coldly to Panshin's chatter;
he did not like this handsome, clever, easily-elegant young man, with
his bright smile, affable voice, and inquisitive eyes. Panshin, with
the quick insight into the feelings of others, which was peculiar to
him, soon guessed that he was not giving his companion any special
satisfaction, and made a plausible excuse to go away, inwardly deciding
that Lavretsky might be an 'excellent man,' but he was unattractive,
aigri, and, en somme, rather absurd. Marya Dmitrievna made her
appearance escorted by Gedeonovsky, then Marfa Timofyevna and Lisa came
in; and after them the other members of the household; and then the
musical amateur, Madame Byelenitsin, arrived, a little thinnish lady,
with a languid, pretty, almost childish little face, wearing a rustling
dress, a striped fan, and heavy gold bracelets. Her husband was with
her, a fat red-faced man, with large hands and feet, white eye-lashes,
and an immovable smile on his thick lips; his wife never spoke to him
in company, but at home, in moments of tenderness, she used to call him
her little sucking-pig. Panshin returned; the rooms were very full of
people and noise. Such a crowd was not to Lavretsky's taste; and he was
particularly irritated by Madame Byelenitsin, who kept staring at him
through her eye-glasses. He would have gone away at once but for Lisa;
he wanted to say a few words to her alone, but for a long time he could
not get a favourable opportunity, and had to content himself with
following her in secret delight with his eyes; never had her face
seemed sweeter and more noble to him. She gained much from being near
Madame Byelenitsin. The latter was for ever fidgeting in her chair,
shrugging her narrow shoulders, giving little girlish giggles, and
screwing up her eyes and then opening them wide; Lisa sat quietly,
looked directly at every one and did not laugh at all. Madame Kalitin
sat down to a game of cards with Marfa Timofyevna, Madame Byelenitsin,
and Gedeonovsky, who played very slowly, and constantly made mistakes,
frowning and wiping his face with his handkerchief. Panshin assumed a
melancholy air, and expressed himself in brief, pregnant, and gloomy
phrases, played the part, in fact, of the unappreciated genius, but in
spite of the entreaties of Madame Byelenitsin, who was very coquettish
with him, he would not consent to sing his song; he felt Lavretsky's
presence a constraint. Fedor Ivanitch also spoke little; the peculiar
expression of his face struck Lisa directly he came into the room; she
felt at once that he had something to tell her, and though she could
not herself have said why, she was afraid to question him. At last, as
she was going into the next room to pour out tea, she involuntarily
turned her head in his direction. He at once went after her.
'What is the matter?' she said, setting the teapot on the samovar.
'Why, have you noticed anything?' he asked.
'You are not the same to-day as I have always seen you before.'
Lavretsky bent over the table.
'I wanted,' he began, 'to tell you a piece of news, but now it is
impossible. However, you can read what is marked with pencil in that
article,' he added, handing her the paper he had brought with him. 'Let
me ask you to keep it a secret; I will come to-morrow morning.'
Lisa was greatly bewildered. Panshin appeared in the doorway. She
put the newspaper in her pocket.
'Have you read Obermann, Lisaveta Mihalovna?' Panshin asked her
Lisa made him a reply in passing, and went out of the room and
up-stairs. Lavretsky went back to the drawing-room and drew near the
card-table. Marfa Timofyevna, flinging back the ribbons of her cap and
flushing with annoyance, began to complain of her partner, Gedeonovsky,
who in her words, could not play a bit.
'Card-playing, you see,' she said, 'is not so easy as talking
The latter continued to blink and wipe his face. Lisa came into the
drawing-room and sat down in a corner; Lavretsky looked at her, she
looked at him, and both felt the position insufferable. He read
perplexity and a kind of secret reproachfulness in her face. He could
not talk to her as he would have liked to do; to remain in the same
room with her, a guest among other guests, was too painful; he decided
to go away. As he took leave of her, he managed to repeat that he would
come to-morrow, and added that he trusted in her friendship.
'Come,' she answered with the same perplexity on her face.
Panshin brightened up at Lavretsky's departure: he began to give
advice to Gedeonovsky, paid ironical attentions to Madame Byelenitsin,
and at last sang his song. But with Lisa he still spoke and looked as
before, impressively and rather mournfully.
Again Lavretsky did not sleep all night. He was not sad, he was not
agitated, he was quite calm; but he could not sleep. He did not even
remember the past; he simply looked at his life; his heart beat slowly
and evenly; the hours glided by; he did not even think of sleep. Only
at times the thought flashed through his brain: 'But it is not true, it
is all nonsense,' and he stood still, bowed his head and again began to
ponder on the life before him.
MARYA DMITRIEVNA did not give Lavretsky an over-cordial welcome
when he made his appearance the following day. 'Upon my word, he's
always in and out,' she thought. She did not much care for him, and
Panshin, under whose influence she was, had been very artful and
disparaging in his praises of him the evening before. And as she did
not regard him as a visitor, and did not consider it necessary to
entertain a relation, almost one of the family, it came to pass that in
less than half-an-hour's time he found himself walking in an avenue in
the grounds with Lisa. Lenotchka and Shurotchka were running about a
few paces from them in the flower-garden.
Lisa was as calm as usual but more than usually pale. She took out
of her pocket and held out to Lavretsky the sheet of the newspaper
folded up small.
'That is terrible!' she said.
Lavretsky made no reply.
'But perhaps it is not true, though,' added Lisa.
'That is why I asked you not to speak of it to any one.'
Lisa walked on a little.
'Tell me,' she began: 'you are not grieved? not at all?'
'I do not know myself what I feel,' replied Lavretsky.
'But you loved her once?'
'So you are not grieved at her death?'
'She was dead to me long ago.'
'It is sinful to say that. Do not be angry with me. You call me
your friend: a friend may say everything. To me it is really terrible..
. . Yesterday there was an evil look in your face.. . . Do you remember
not long ago how you abused her, and she, perhaps, at that very time
was dead? It is terrible. It has been sent to you as a punishment.'
Lavretsky smiled bitterly.
'Do you think so? At least, I am now free.'
Lisa gave a slight shudder.
'Stop, do not talk like that. Of what use is your freedom to you?
You ought not to be thinking of that now, but of forgiveness.'
'I forgave her long ago,' Lavretsky interposed with a gesture of
'No, that is not it,' replied Lisa, flushing. 'You did not
understand me. You ought to be seeking to be forgiven.'
'To be forgiven by whom?'
'By whom? God. Who can forgive us, but God?'
Lavretsky seized her hand.
'Ah, Lisaveta Mihalovna, believe me,' he cried, 'I have been
punished enough as it is. I have expiated everything already, believe
'That you cannot know,' Lisa murmured in an undertone. 'You have
forgotten-not long ago, when you were talking to me-you were not ready
to forgive her.'
She walked in silence along the avenue.
'And what about your daughter?' Lisa asked, suddenly stopping
'Oh, don't be uneasy! I have already sent letters in all
directions. The future of my daughter, as you call-as you say-is
assured. Do not be uneasy.'
Lisa smiled mournfully.
'But you are right,' continued Lavretsky, 'what can I do with my
freedom? What good is it to me?'
'When did you get that paper?' said Lisa, without replying to his
'The day after your visit.'
'And is it possible you did not even shed tears?'
'No. I was thunderstruck; but where were tears to come from? Should
I weep over the past? but it is utterly extinct for me! Her very fault
did not destroy my happiness, but only showed me that it had never been
at all. What is there to weep over now? Though indeed, who knows? I
might, perhaps, have been more grieved if I had got this news a
'A fortnight?' repeated Lisa. 'But what has happened then in the
Lavretsky made no answer, and suddenly Lisa flushed even more than
'Yes, yes, you guess why,' Lavretsky cried suddenly, 'in the course
of this fortnight I have come to know the value of a pure woman's
heart, and my past seems further from me than ever.'
Lisa was confused, and went gently into the flower-garden towards
Lenotchka and Shurotchka.
'But I am glad I showed you that newspaper,' said Lavretsky,
walking after her; 'already I have grown used to hiding nothing from
you, and I hope you will repay me with the same confidence.'
'Do you expect it?' said Lisa, standing still. 'In that case I
ought-but no! It is impossible.'
'What is it? Tell me, tell me.'
'Really, I believe I ought not-after all, though,' added Lisa,
turning to Lavretsky with a smile, 'what's the good of half confidence?
Do you know I received a letter today?'
'Yes. How did you know?'
'He asks for your hand?'
'Yes,' replied Lisa, looking Lavretsky straight in the face with a
Lavretsky on his side looked seriously at Lisa.
'Well, and what answer have you given him?' he managed to say at
'I don't know what answer to give,' replied Lisa, letting her
clasped hands fall.
'How is that? Do you love him, then?'
'Yes, I like him; he seems a nice man.'
'You said the very same thing, and in the very same words, three
days ago. I want to know do you love him with that intense passionate
feeling which we usually call love?'
'As you understand it-no.'
'You're not in love with him?'
'No. But is that necessary?'
'What do you mean?'
'Mamma likes him,' continued Lisa, 'he is kind; I have nothing
'You hesitate, however.'
'Yes-and perhaps-you, your words are the cause of it. Do you
remember what you said three days ago? But that is weakness.'
'O my child!' cried Lavretsky suddenly, and his voice was shaking,
'don't cheat yourself with sophistries, don't call weakness the cry of
your heart, which is not ready to give itself without love. Do not take
on yourself such a fearful responsibility to this man, whom you don't
love, though you are ready to belong to him.'
'I'm obeying, I take nothing on myself,' Lisa was murmuring.
'Obey your heart; only that will tell you the truth,' Lavretsky
interrupted her. 'Experience, prudence, all that is dust and ashes! Do
not deprive yourself of the best, of the sole happiness on earth.'
'Do you say that, Fedor Ivanitch? You yourself married for love,
and were you happy?'
Lavretsky threw up his arms.
'Ah, don't talk about me! You can't even understand all that a
young, inexperienced, badly brought-up boy may mistake for love! Indeed
though, after all, why should I be unfair to myself? I told you just
now that I had not had happiness. No! I was happy!'
'It seems to me, Fedor Ivanitch,' Lisa murmured in a low voice-when
she did not agree with the person whom she was talking to, she always
dropped her voice; and now too she was deeply moved-'happiness on earth
does not depend on ourselves.'
'On ourselves, ourselves, believe me' (he seized both her hands;
Lisa grew pale and almost with terror but still steadfastly looked at
him): 'if only we do not ruin our lives. For some people marriage for
love may be unhappiness; but not for you, with your calm temperament,
and your clear soul; I beseech you, do not marry without love, from a
sense of duty, self-sacrifice, or anything.. . . That is infidelity,
that is mercenary, and worse still. Believe me,-I have the right to say
so; I have paid dearly for the right. And if your God--.'
At that instant Lavretsky noticed that Lenotchka and Shurotchka
were standing near Lisa, and staring in dumb amazement at him. He
dropped Lisa's hands, saying hurriedly, 'I beg your pardon,' and turned
away towards the house.
'One thing only I beg of you,' he added, returning again to Lisa:
'don't decide at once, wait a little, think of what I have said to you.
Even if you don't believe me, even if you did decide on a marriage of
prudence-even in that case you mustn't marry Panshin. He can't be your
husband. You will promise me not to be in a hurry, won't you?'
Lisa tried to answer Lavretsky, but she did not utter a word-not
because she was resolved to 'be in a hurry,' but because her heart was
beating too violently and a feeling, akin to terror, stopped her
AS he was coming away from the Kalitins, Lavretsky met Panshin;
they bowed coldly to one another. Lavretsky went to his lodgings, and
locked himself in. He was experiencing emotions such as he had hardly
ever experienced before. How long ago was it since he had thought
himself in a state of peaceful petrifaction? How long was it since he
had felt as he had expressed himself at the very bottom of the river?
What had changed his position? What had brought him out of his
solitude? The most ordinary, inevitable, though always unexpected
event, death? Yes; but he was not thinking so much of his wife's death
and his own freedom, as of this question-what answer would Lisa give
Panshin? He felt that in the course of the last three days, he had come
to look at her with different eyes; he remembered how after returning
home when he thought of her in the silence of the night, he had said to
himself, 'if only!' . . . That 'if only'-in which he had referred to
the past, to the impossible had come to pass, though not as he had
imagined it,-but his freedom alone was little. 'She will obey her
mother,' he thought, 'she will marry Panshin; but even if she refuses
him, won't it be just the same as far as I am concerned?' Going up to
the looking-glass he minutely scrutinised his own face and shrugged his
The day passed quickly by in these meditations; and evening came.
Lavretsky went to the Kalitins'. He walked quickly, but his pace
slackened as he drew near the house. Before the steps was standing
Panshin's light carriage. 'Come,' thought Lavretsky, 'I will not be an
egoist'-and he went into the house. He met with no one within-doors,
and there was no sound in the drawing-room; he opened the door and saw
Marya Dmitrievna playing picquet with Panshin. Panshin bowed to him
without speaking, but the lady of the house cried, 'Well, this is
unexpected!' and slightly frowned. Lavretsky sat down near her, and
began to look at her cards.
'Do you know how to play picquet?' she asked him with a kind of
hidden vexation, and then declared that she had thrown away a wrong
Panshin counted ninety, and began calmly and urbanely taking tricks
with a severe and dignified expression of face. So it befits
diplomatists to play; this was no doubt how he played in Petersburg
with some influential dignitary, whom he wished to impress with a
favourable opinion of his solidity and maturity. 'A hundred and one, a
hundred and two, hearts, a hundred and three,' sounded his voice in
measured tones, and Lavretsky could not decide whether it had a ring of
reproach or of self-satisfaction.
'Can I see Marfa Timofyevna?' he inquired, observing that Panshin
was setting to work to shuffle the cards with still more dignity. There
was not a trace of the artist to be detected in him now.
'I think you can. She is at home, up-stairs,' replied Marya
Dmitrievna; 'inquire for her.'
Lavretsky went up-stairs. He found Marfa Timofyevna also at cards;
she was playing old maid with Nastasya Karpovna. Roska barked at him;
but both the old ladies welcomed him cordially. Marfa Timofyevna
especially seemed in excellent spirits.
'Ah! Fedya!' she began, 'pray sit down, my dear. We are just
finishing our game. Would you like some preserve? Shurotchka, bring him
a pot of strawberry. You don't want any? Well, sit there; only you
mustn't smoke; I can't bear your tobacco, and it makes Matross sneeze.'
Lavretsky made haste to assure her that he had not the least desire
'Have you been down-stairs?' the old lady continued. 'Whom did you
see there? Is Panshin still on view? Did you see Lisa? No? She was
meaning to come up here. And here she is: speak of angels--'
Lisa came into the room, and she flushed when she saw Lavretsky.
'I came in for a minute, Marfa Timofyevna,' she was beginning.
'Why for a minute?' interposed the old lady. 'Why are you always in
such a hurry, you young people? You see I have a visitor; talk to him a
little, and entertain him.'
Lisa sat down on the edge of a chair; she raised her eyes to
Lavretsky-and felt that it was impossible not to let him know how her
interview with Panshin had ended. But how was she to do it? She felt
both awkward and ashamed. She had not long known him, this man who
rarely went to church, and took his wife's death so calmly-and here was
she, confiding all her secrets to him.. . . It was true he took an
interest in her; she herself trusted him and felt drawn to him; but all
the same, she was ashamed, as though a stranger had been into her pure,
Marfa Timofyevna came to her assistance.
'Well, if you won't entertain him,' said Marfa Timofyevna, who
will, poor fellow? I am too old for him, he is too clever for me, and
for Nastasya Karpovna he's too old, it's only the quite young men she
will look at.'
'How can I entertain Fedor Ivanitch?' said Lisa. 'If he likes, had
I not better play him something on the piano?' she added irresolutely.
'Capital; you're my clever girl,' rejoined Marfa Timofyevna. 'Step
down-stairs, my dears; when you have finished, come back: I have been
made old maid, I don't like it, I want to have my revenge.'
Lisa got up. Lavretsky went after her. As she went down the
staircase, Lisa stopped.
'They say truly,' she began, 'that people's hearts are full of
contradictions. Your example ought to frighten me, to make me distrust
marriage for love; but I--'
'You have refused him?' interrupted Lavretsky.
'No; but I have not consented either. I told him everything,
everything I felt, and asked him to wait a little. Are you pleased with
me?' she added with a swift smile-and with a light touch of her hand on
the banister she ran down the stairs.
'What shall I play to you?' she asked, opening the piano.
'What you like,' answered Lavretsky as he sat down so that he could
look at her.
Lisa began to play, and for a long while she did not lift her eyes
from her fingers. She glanced at last at Lavretsky, and stopped short;
his face seemed strange and beautiful to her.
'What is the matter with you?' she asked.
'Nothing,' he replied; 'I'm very happy; I'm glad of you, I'm glad
to see you-go on.'
'It seems to me,' said Lisa a few moments later, 'that if he had
really loved me, he would not have written that letter; he must have
felt that I could not give him an answer now.'
'That is of no consequence,' observed Lavretsky, 'what is important
is that you don't love him.'
'Stop, how can we talk like this? I keep thinking of your dead
wife, and you frighten me.'
'Don't you think, Voldemar, that Liseta plays charmingly?' Marya
Dmitrievna was saying at that moment to Panshin.
'Yes,' answered Panshin, 'very charmingly.'
Marya Dmitrievna looked tenderly at her young partner, but the
latter assumed a still more important and care-worn air and called
LAVRETSKY was not a young man; he could not long delude himself as
to the nature of the feeling inspired in him by Lisa; he was brought on
that day to the final conviction that he loved her. This conviction did
not give him any great pleasure. 'Have I really nothing better to do,'
he thought, 'at thirty-five than to put my soul into a woman's keeping
again? But Lisa is not like her; she would not demand degrading
sacrifices from me: she would not tempt me away from my duties; she
would herself incite me to hard honest work, and we would walk hand in
hand towards a noble aim. Yes,' he concluded his reflections, 'that's
all very fine, but the worst of it is that she does not in the least
wish to walk hand in hand with me. She meant it when she said that I
frightened her. But she doesn't love Panshin either-a poor
Lavretsky went back to Vassilyevskoe, but he could not get through
four days there-so dull it seemed to him. He was also in agonies of
suspense; the news announced by M. Jules required confirmation, and he
had received no letters of any kind. He returned to the town and spent
an evening at the Kalitins'. He could easily see that Marya Dmitrievna
had been set against him; but he succeeded in softening her a little,
by losing fifteen roubles to her at picquet, and he spent nearly half
an hour almost alone with Lisa in spite of the fact that her mother had
advised her the previous evening not to be too intimate with a man qui
a un si grand ridicule. He found a change in her; she had become, as it
were, more thoughtful. She reproached him for his absence and asked him
would he not go on the morrow to mass? (The next day was Sunday.)
'Do go,' she said before he had time to answer, 'we will pray
together for the repose of her soul.' Then she added that she did not
know how to act-she did not know whether she had the right to make
Panshin wait any longer for her decision.
'Why so?' inquired Lavretsky.
'Because,' she said, 'I begin now to suspect what that decision
She declared that her head ached and went to her own room
up-stairs, hesitatingly holding out the tips of her fingers to
The next day Lavretsky went to mass. Lisa was already in the church
when he came in. She noticed him though she did not turn round towards
him. She prayed fervently, her eyes were full of a calm light, calmly
she bowed her head and lifted it again. He felt that she was praying
for him too, and his heart was filled with a marvellous tenderness. He
was happy and a little ashamed. The people reverently standing, the
homely faces, the harmonious singing, the scent of incense, the long
slanting gleams of light from the windows, the very darkness of the
walls and arched roofs, all went to his heart. For long he had not been
to church, for long he had not turned to God: even now he uttered no
words of prayer-he did not even pray without words-but, at least, for a
moment in all his mind, if not in his body, he bowed down and meekly
humbled himself to earth. He remembered how, in his childhood, he had
always prayed in church until he had felt, as it were, a cool touch on
his brow; that, he used to think then, is the guardian angel receiving
me, laying on me the seal of grace. He glanced at Lisa. 'You brought me
here,' he thought, 'touch me, touch my soul.' She was still praying
calmly; her face seemed to him full of joy, and he was softened anew:
he prayed for another soul, peace; for his own, forgiveness.
They met in the porch; she greeted him with glad and gracious
seriousness. The sun brightly lighted up the young grass in the
church-yard, and the striped dresses and kerchiefs of the women; the
bells of the churches near were tinkling overhead; and the crows were
cawing about the hedges. Lavretsky stood with uncovered head, a smile
on his lips; the light breeze lifted his hair, and the ribbons of
Lisa's hat. He put Lisa and Lenotchka who was with her into their
carriage, divided all his money among the poor, and peacefully
PAINFUL days followed for Fedor Ivanitch. He found himself in a
continual fever. Every morning he made for the post, and tore open
letters and papers in agitation, and nowhere did he find anything which
could confirm or disprove the fateful rumour. Sometimes he was
disgusting to himself. 'What am I about,' he thought, 'waiting, like a
vulture for blood, for certain news of my wife's death?' He went to the
Kalitins every day, but things had grown no easier for him there; the
lady of the house was obviously sulky with him, and received him very
condescendingly. Panshin treated him with exaggerated politeness; Lemm
had entrenched himself in his misanthropy and hardly bowed to him, and,
worst of all, Lisa seemed to avoid him. When she happened to be left
alone with him, instead of her former candour there was visible
embarrassment on her part, she did not know what to say to him, and he,
too, felt confused. In the space of a few days Lisa had become quite
different from what she was as he knew her: in her movements, her
voice, her very laugh a secret tremor, an unevenness never there before
was apparent. Marya Dmitrievna, like a true egoist, suspected nothing;
but Marfa Timofyevna began to keep a watch over her favourite.
Lavretsky more than once reproached himself for having shown Lisa the
newspaper he had received; he could not but be conscious that in his
spiritual condition there was something revolting to a pure nature. He
imagined also that the change in Lisa was the result of her inward
conflicts, her doubts as to what answer to give Panshin.
One day she brought him a book, a novel of Walter Scott's, which
she had herself asked him for.
'Have you read it?' he said.
'No; I can't bring myself to read just now,' she answered, and was
about to go away.
'Stop a minute, it is so long since I have been alone with you. You
seem to be afraid of me.'
'Why so, pray?'
'I don't know.'
Lavretsky was silent.
'Tell me,' he began, 'you haven't yet decided?'
'What do you mean?' she said, not raising her eyes.
'You understand me.'
Lisa flushed crimson all at once.
'Don't ask me about anything!' she broke out hotly. 'I know
nothing; I don't know myself.' And instantly she was gone.
The following day Lavretsky arrived at the Kalitins' after dinner
and found there all the preparations for an evening service. In the
corner of the dining-room on a square table covered with a clean cloth
were already arranged, leaning up against the wall, the small holy
pictures, in gold frames, set with tarnished jewels. The old servant in
a grey coat and shoes was moving noiselessly and without haste all
about the room; he set two wax-candles in the slim candlesticks before
the holy pictures, crossed himself, bowed, and slowly went out. The
unlighted drawing-room was empty. Lavretsky went into the dining-room
and asked if it was some one's name-day.
In a whisper they told him no, but that the evening service had
been arranged at the desire of Lisaveta Mihalovna and Marfa Timofyevna;
that it had been intended to invite a wonder-working image, but that
the latter had gone thirty versts away to visit a sick man. Soon the
priest arrived with the deacons; he was a man no longer young, with a
large bald head; he coughed loudly in the hall: the ladies at once
filed slowly out of the boudoir, and went up to receive his blessing;
Lavretsky bowed to them in silence; and in silence they bowed to him.
The priest stood still for a little while, coughed once again, and
asked in a bass undertone-
'You wish me to begin?'
'Pray begin, father,' replied Marya Dmitrievna.
He began to put on his robes; a deacon in a surplice asked
obsequiously for a hot ember; there was a scent of incense. The maids
and men-servants came out from the hall and remained huddled close
together before the door. Roska, who never came down from up-stairs,
suddenly ran into the dining-room; they began to chase her out; she was
scared, doubled back into the room and sat down; a footman picked her
up and carried her away.
The evening service began. Lavretsky squeezed himself into a
corner; his emotions were strange, almost sad; he could not himself
make out clearly what he was feeling. Marya Dmitrievna stood in front
of all, before the chairs; she crossed herself with languid
carelessness, like a grand lady, and first looked about her, then
suddenly lifted her eyes to the ceiling; she was bored. Marfa
Timofyevna looked worried; Nastasya Karpovna bowed down to the ground
and got up with a kind of discreet, subdued rustle; Lisa remained
standing in her place motionless; from the concentrated expression of
her face it could be seen that she was praying steadfastly and
fervently. When she bowed to the cross at the end of the service, she
also kissed the large red hand of the priest. Marya Dmitrievna invited
the latter to have some tea; he took off his vestment, assumed a
somewhat more worldly air, and passed into the drawing-room with the
ladies. Conversation-not too lively-began. The priest drank four cups
of tea, incessantly wiping his bald head with his handkerchief; he
related among other things that the merchant Avoshnikov was subscribing
seven hundred roubles to gilding the 'cumpola' of the church, and
informed them of a sure remedy against freckles. Lavretsky tried to sit
near Lisa, but her manner was severe, almost stern, and she did not
once glance at him. She appeared intentionally not to observe him; a
kind of cold, grave enthusiasm seemed to have taken possession of her.
Lavretsky for some reason or other tried to smile and to say something
amusing; but there was perplexity in his heart, and he went away at
last in secret bewilderment.. . . He felt there was something in Lisa
to which he could never penetrate.
Another time Lavretsky was sitting in the drawing-room listening to
the sly but tedious gossip of Gedeonovsky, when suddenly, without
himself knowing why, he turned round and caught a profound, attentive
questioning look in Lisa's eyes.. . . It was bent on him, this
enigmatic look. Lavretsky thought of it the whole night long. His love
was not like a boy's; sighs and agonies were not in his line, and Lisa
herself did not inspire a passion of that kind; but for every age love
has its tortures-and he was spared none of them.
ONE day Lavretsky, according to his habit, was at the Kalitins'.
After an exhaustingly hot day, such a lovely evening had set in that
Marya Dmitrievna, in spite of her aversion to a draught, ordered all
the windows and doors into the garden to be thrown open, and declared
that she would not play cards, that it was a sin to play cards in such
weather, and one ought to enjoy nature. Panshin was the only guest. He
was stimulated by the beauty of the evening, and conscious of a flood
of artistic sensations, but he did not care to sing before Lavretsky,
so he fell to reading poetry; he read aloud well, but too
self-consciously and with unnecessary refinements, a few poems of
Lermontov (Pushkin had not then come into fashion again). Then
suddenly, as though ashamed of his enthusiasm, began, à propos of the
well-known poem, 'A Reverie,' to attack and fall foul of the younger
generation. While doing so he did not lose the opportunity of
expounding how he would change everything after his own fashion, if the
power were in his hands. 'Russia,' he said, 'has fallen behind Europe;
we must catch her up. It is maintained that we are young-that's
nonsense. Moreover we have no inventiveness: Homakov himself admits
that we have not even invented mouse-traps. Consequently, whether we
will or no, we must borrow from others. We are sick, Lermontov says-I
agree with him. But we are sick from having only half become Europeans,
we must take a hair of the dog that bit us ('le cadastre,' thought
Lavretsky). 'The best heads, les meilleures tates,' he continued,
'among us have long been convinced of it. All peoples are essentially
alike; only introduce among them good institutions, and the thing is
done. Of course there may be adaptation to the existing national life;
that is our affair-the affair of the official (he almost said
"governing") class. But in case of need don't be uneasy. The
institutions will transform the life itself.' Marya Dmitrievna most
feelingly assented to all Panshin said. 'What a clever man,' she
thought, 'is talking in my drawing-room!' Lisa sat in silence leaning
back against the window; Lavretsky too was silent. Marfa Timofyevna,
playing cards with her old friend in the corner, muttered something to
herself. Panshin walked up and down the room, and spoke eloquently, but
with secret exasperation. It seemed as if he were abusing not a whole
generation but a few people known to him. In a great lilacbush in the
Kalitins' garden a nightingale had built its nest; its first evening
notes filled the pauses of the eloquent speech; the first stars were
beginning to shine in the rosy sky over the motionless tops of the
limes. Lavretsky got up and began to answer Panshin; an argument sprang
up. Lavretsky championed the youth and the independence of Russia; he
was ready to throw over himself and his generation, but he stood up for
the new men, their convictions and desires. Panshin answered sharply
and irritably. He maintained that the intelligent people ought to
change everything, and was at last even brought to the point of
forgetting his position as a kammer-yunker, and his career as an
official, and calling Lavretsky an antiquated conservative, even
hinting-very remotely it is true-at his dubious position in society.
Lavretsky did not lose his temper. He did not raise his voice (he
recollected that Mihalevitch too had called him antiquated but an
antiquated Voltairean), and calmly proceeded to refute Panshin at all
points. He proved to him the impracticability of sudden leaps and
reforms from above, founded neither on knowledge of the mother-country,
nor on any genuine faith in any ideal, even a negative one. He brought
forward his own education as an example, and demanded before all things
a recognition of the true spirit of the people and submission to it,
without which even a courageous combat against error is impossible.
Finally he admitted the reproach-well-deserved as he thought-of
reckless waste of time and strength.
'That is all very fine!' cried Panshin at last, getting angry. 'You
now have just returned to Russia, what do you intend to do?'
'Cultivate the soil,' answered Lavretsky, 'and try to cultivate it
as well as possible.'
'That is very praiseworthy, no doubt,' rejoined Panshin, 'and I
have been told that you have already had great success in that line;
but you must allow that not every one is fit for pursuits of that
'Une nature poétique,' observed Marya Dmitrievna, 'cannot, to be
sure, cultivate . . . et puis, it is your vocation, Vladimir
Nikolaitch, to do everything en grand.'
This was too much even for Panshin: he grew confused, and changed
the conversation. He tried to turn it upon the beauty of the starlit
sky, the music of Schubert; nothing was successful. He ended by
proposing to Marya Dmitrievna a game of picquet. 'What! on such an
evening?' she replied feebly. She ordered the cards to be brought in,
however. Panshin tore open a new pack of cards with a loud crash, and
Lisa and Lavretsky both got up as if by agreement, and went and placed
themselves near Marfa Timofyevna. They both felt all at once so happy
that they were even a little afraid of remaining alone together, and at
the same time they both felt that the embarrassment they had been
conscious of for the last few days had vanished, and would return no
more. The old lady stealthily patted Lavretsky on the cheek, slyly
screwed up her eyes, and shook her head once or twice, adding in a
whisper, 'You have shut up our clever friend, many thanks.' Everything
was hushed in the room; the only sound was the faint crackling of the
wax-candles, and sometimes the tap of a hand on the table, and an
exclamation or reckoning of points; and the rich torrent of the
nightingale's song, powerful piercingly sweet, poured in at the window,
together with the dewy freshness of the night.
LISA had not uttered a word in the course of the dispute between
Lavretsky and Panshin, but she had followed it attentively and was
completely on Lavretsky's side. Politics interested her very little;
but the supercilious tone of the worldly official (he had never
delivered himself in that way before) repelled her; his contempt for
Russia wounded her. It had never occurred to Lisa that she was a
patriot; but her heart was with the Russian people; the Russian turn of
mind delighted her; she would talk for hours together without ceremony
to the peasant-overseer of her mother's property when he came to the
town, and she talked to him as to an equal, without any of the
condescension of a superior. Lavretsky felt all this; he would not have
troubled himself to answer Panshin by himself; he had spoken only for
Lisa's sake. They had said nothing to one another, their eyes even had
seldom met. But they both knew that they had grown closer that evening,
they knew that they liked and disliked the same things. On one point
only were they divided; but Lisa secretly hoped to bring him to God.
They sat near Marfa Timofyevna, and appeared to be following her play;
indeed, they were really following it, but meanwhile their hearts were
full, and nothing was lost on them; for them the nightingale sang, and
the stars shone, and the trees gently murmured, lulled to sleep by the
summer warmth and softness. Lavretsky was completely carried away, and
surrendered himself wholly to his passion-and rejoiced in it. But no
word can express what was passing in the pure heart of the young girl.
It was a mystery for herself. Let it remain a mystery for all. No one
knows, no one has seen, nor will ever see, how the grain, destined to
life and growth, swells and ripens in the bosom of the earth.
Ten o'clock struck. Marfa Timofyevna went off up-stairs to her own
apartments with Nastasya Karpovna. Lavretsky and Lisa walked across the
room, stopped at the open door into the garden, looked into the
darkness in the distance and then at one another, and smiled. They
could have taken each other's hands, it seemed, and talked to their
hearts' content. They returned to Marya Dmitrievna and Panshin, where a
game of picquet was still dragging on. The last king was called at
last, and the lady of the house rose, sighing and groaning from her
well-cushioned easy chair. Panshin took his hat, kissed Marya
Dmitrievna's hand, remarking that nothing hindered some happy people
now from sleeping, but that he had to sit up over stupid papers till
morning, and departed, bowing coldly to Lisa (he had not expected that
she would ask him to wait so long for an answer to his offer, and he
was cross with her for it). Lavretsky followed him. They parted at the
gate. Panshin waked his coachman by poking him in the neck with the end
of his stick, took his seat in the carriage and rolled away. Lavretsky
did not want to go home. He walked away from the town into the open
country. The night was still and clear, though there was no moon.
Lavretsky rambled a long time over the dewy grass. He came across a
little narrow path; and went along it. It led him up to a long fence,
and to a little gate; he tried, not knowing why, to push it open. With
a faint creak the gate opened, as though it had been awaiting the touch
of his hand. Lavretsky went into the garden. After a few paces along a
walk of lime-trees he stopped short in amazement; he recognised the
He moved at once into a black patch of shade thrown by a thick
clump of hazels, and stood a long while without moving, shrugging his
shoulders in astonishment.
'This cannot be for nothing,' he thought.
All was hushed around. From the direction of the house not a sound
reached him. He went cautiously forward. At the bend of an avenue
suddenly the whole house confronted him with its dark face; in two
upstair-windows only a light was shining. In Lisa's room behind the
white curtain a candle was burning, and in Marfa Timofyevna's bedroom a
lamp shone with red-fire before the holy picture, and was reflected
with equal brilliance on the gold frame. Below, the door on to the
balcony gaped wide open. Lavretsky sat down on a wooden garden-seat,
leaned on his elbow, and began to watch this door and Lisa's window. In
the town it struck midnight; a little clock in the house shrilly
clanged out twelve; the watchman beat it with jerky strokes upon his
board. Lavretsky had no thought, no expectation; it was sweet to him to
feel himself near Lisa, to sit in her garden on the seat where she
herself had sat more than once.
The light in Lisa's room vanished.
'Sleep well, my sweet girl,' whispered Lavretsky, still sitting
motionless, his eyes fixed on the darkened window.
Suddenly the light appeared in one of the windows of the
ground-floor, then changed into another, and a third.. . . Some one was
walking through the rooms with a candle. 'Can it be Lisa? It cannot
be.' Lavretsky got up.. . . He caught a glimpse of a well-known
face-Lisa came into the drawing-room. In a white gown, her plaits
hanging loose on her shoulders, she went quietly up to the table, bent
over it, put down the candle, and began looking for something. Then
turning round facing the garden, she drew near the open door, and stood
on the threshold, a light slender figure all in white. A shiver passed
'Lisa!' broke hardly audibly from his lips.
She started and began to gaze into the darkness.
'Lisa!' Lavretsky repeated louder, and he came out of the shadow of
Lisa raised her head in alarm, and shrank back. She had recognised
him. He called to her a third time, and stretched out his hands to her.
She came away from the door and stepped into the garden.
'Is it you?' she said. 'You here?'
'I-I-listen to me,' whispered Lavretsky, and seizing her hand he
led her to the seat.
She followed him without resistance, her pale face, her fixed eyes,
and all her gestures expressed an unutterable bewilderment. Lavretsky
made her sit down and stood before her.
'I did not mean to come here,' he began. 'Something brought me.. .
. I-I love you,' he uttered in involuntary terror.
Lisa slowly looked at him. It seemed as though she only at that
instant knew where she was and what was happening. She tried to get up,
she could not, and she covered her face with her hands.
'Lisa,' murmured Lavretsky. 'Lisa,' he repeated, and fell at her
Her shoulders began to heave slightly; the fingers of her pale
hands were pressed more closely to her face.
'What is it?' Lavretsky urged, and he heard a subdued sob. His
heart stood still.. . . He knew the meaning of those tears. 'Can it be
that you love me?' he whispered, and caressed her knees.
'Get up,' he heard her voice, 'get up, Fedor Ivanitch. What are we
He got up and sat beside her on the seat. She was not weeping now,
and she looked at him steadfastly with her wet eyes.
'It frightens me: what are we doing?' she repeated.
'I love you,' he said again. 'I am ready to devote my whole life to
She shuddered again, as though something had stung her, and lifted
her eyes towards heaven.
'All that is in God's hands,' she said.
'But you love me, Lisa? We shall be happy.' She dropped her eyes;
he softly drew her to him, and her head sank on to his shoulder.. . .
He bent his head a little and touched her pale lips.
Half an hour later Lavretsky was standing before the little garden
gate. He found it locked and was obliged to get over the fence. He
returned to the town and walked along the slumbering streets. A sense
of immense, unhoped-for happiness filled his soul; all his doubts had
died away. 'Away, dark phantom of the past,' he thought. 'She loves me,
she will be mine.' Suddenly it seemed to him that in the air over his
head were floating strains of divine triumphant music. He stood still.
The music resounded in still greater magnificence; a mighty flood of
melody-and all his bliss seemed speaking and singing in its strains. He
looked about him; the music floated down from two upper windows of a
'Lemm?' cried Lavretsky as he ran to the house. 'Lemm! Lemm!' he
The sounds died away and the figure of the old man in a
dressing-gown, with his throat bare and his hair dishevelled, appeared
at the window.
'Aha!' he said with dignity, 'is it you?'
'Christopher Fedoritch, what marvellous music! for mercy's sake,
let me in.'
Without uttering a word, the old man with a majestic flourish of
the arm dropped the key of the street door from the window.
Lavretsky hastened up-stairs, went into the room and was about to
rush up to Lemm; but the latter imperiously motioned him to a seat,
saying abruptly in Russian, 'Sit down and listen,' sat down himself to
the piano, and looking proudly and severely about him, he began to
play. It was long since Lavretsky had listened to anything like it. The
sweet passionate melody went to his heart from the first note; it was
glowing and languishing with inspiration, happiness and beauty; it
swelled and melted away; it touched on all that is precious,
mysterious, and holy on earth. It breathed of deathless sorrow and
mounted dying away to the heavens. Lavretsky drew himself up, and rose
cold and pale with ecstasy. This music seemed to clutch his very soul,
so lately shaken by the rapture of love, the music was glowing with
love too. 'Again!' he whispered as the last chord sounded. The old man
threw him an eagle glance, struck his hand on his chest and saying
deliberately in his own tongue, 'This is my work, I am a great
musician,' he played again his marvellous composition. There was no
candle in the room; the light of the rising moon fell aslant on the
window; the soft air was vibrating with sound; the poor little room
seemed a holy place, and the old man's head stood out noble and
inspired in the silvery half light. Lavretsky went up to him and
embraced him. At first Lemm did not respond to his embrace, and even
pushed him away with his elbow. For a long while without moving in any
limb he kept the same severe, almost morose expression, and only
growled out twice, 'aha.' At last his face relaxed, changed, and grew
calmer, and in response to Lavretsky's warm congratulations he smiled a
little at first, then burst into tears, and sobbed weakly like a child.
'It is wonderful,' he said, 'that you have come just at this
moment; but I know all, I know all.'
'You know all?' Lavretsky repeated in amazement.
'You have heard me,' replied Lemm, 'did you not understand that I
Till daybreak Lavretsky could not sleep, all night he was sitting
on his bed. And Lisa too did not sleep; she was praying.
THE READER knows how Lavretsky grew up and developed. Let us say a
few words about Lisa's education. She was in her tenth year when her
father died; but he had not troubled himself much about her. Weighed
down with business cares, for ever anxious for the increase of his
property, bilious, sharp and impatient, he gave money unsparingly for
the teachers, tutors, dress and other necessities of his children; but
he could not endure, as he expressed it, 'to be dandling his
squallers,' and indeed he had no time to dandle them. He worked, took
no rest from business, slept little, rarely played cards, and worked
again. He compared himself to a horse harnessed to a threshing-machine.
'My life has soon come to an end,' was his comment on his deathbed,
with a bitter smile on his parched lips. Marya Dmitrievna did not in
reality trouble herself about Lisa any more than her husband, though
she had boasted to Lavretsky that she alone had educated her children.
She dressed her up like a doll, stroked her on the head before visitors
and called her a clever child and a darling to her face, and that was
all. Any kind of continuous care was too exhausting for the indolent
lady. During her father's lifetime, Lisa was in the hands of a
governess, Mademoiselle Moreau from Paris, after his death she passed
into the charge of Marfa Timofyevna. Marfa Timofyevna the reader knows
already; Mademoiselle Moreau was a tiny wrinkled creature with little
bird-like ways and a bird's intellect. In her youth she had led a very
dissipated life, but in old age she had only two passions left-gluttony
and cards. When she had eaten her fill, and was neither playing cards
nor chattering, her face assumed an expression almost death-like. She
was sitting, looking, breathing-yet it was clear that there was not an
idea in her head. One could not even call her good-natured. Birds are
not good-natured. Either as a result of her frivolous youth or of the
air of Paris, which she had breathed from childhood, a kind of cheap
universal scepticism had found its way into her, usually expressed by
the words: tout ça c'est des batises. She spoke ungrammatically, but in
a pure Parisian jargon, did not talk scandal and had no caprices-what
more can one desire in a governess? Over Lisa she had little influence;
all the stronger was the influence on her of her nurse, Agafya
This woman's story was remarkable. She came of a peasant family.
She was married at sixteen to a peasant; but she was strikingly
different from her peasant sisters. Her father had been twenty years
starosta, and had made a good deal of money, and he spoiled her. She
was exceptionally beautiful, the best-dressed girl in the whole
district, clever, ready with her tongue, and daring. Her master Dmitri
Pestov, Marya Dmitrievna's father, a man of modest and gentle
character, saw her one day at the threshing-floor, talked to her and
fell passionately in love with her. She was soon left a widow; Pestov,
though he was a married man, took her into his house and dressed her
like a lady. Agafya at once adapted herself to her new position, just
as if she had never lived differently all her life. She grew fairer and
plumper; her arms grew as 'floury white' under her muslin-sleeves as a
merchant's lady's; the samovar never left her table; she would wear
nothing except silk or velvet, and slept on well-stuffed feather-beds.
This blissful existence lasted for five years, but Dmitri Pestov died;
his widow, a kindhearted woman, out of regard for the memory of the
deceased, did not wish to treat her rival unfairly, all the more
because Agafya had never forgotten herself in her presence. She married
her, however, to a shepherd, and sent her a long way off. Three years
passed. It happened one hot summer day that her mistress in driving
past stopped at the cattle-yard. Agafya regaled her with such delicious
cool cream, behaved so modestly, and was so neat, so bright, and so
contented with everything that her mistress signified her forgiveness
to her and allowed her to return to the house. Within six months she
had become so much attached to her that she raised her to be
housekeeper, and intrusted the whole household management to her.
Agafya again returned to power, and again grew plump and fair; her
mistake put the most complete confidence in her. So passed five years
more. Misfortune again overtook Agafya. Her husband, whom she had
promoted to be a footman, began to drink, took to vanishing from the
house, and ended by stealing six of the mistress' silver spoons and
hiding them till a favourable moment in his wife's box. It was opened.
He was sent to be a shepherd again, and Agafya fell into disgrace. She
was not turned out of the house, but was degraded from housekeeper to
being a sewing-woman and was ordered to wear a kerchief on her head
instead of a cap. To the astonishment of every one, Agafya accepted
with humble resignation the blow that had fallen upon her. She was at
that time about thirty, all her children were dead and her husband did
not live much longer. The time had come for her to reflect. And she did
reflect. She became very silent and devout, never missed a single
matin's service nor a single mass, and gave away all her fine clothes.
She spent fifteen years quietly, peacefully, and soberly, never
quarrelling with any one and giving way to every one. If any one
scolded her, she only bowed to them and thanked them for the
admonition. Her mistress had long ago forgiven her, raised her out of
disgrace, and had made her a present of a cap of her own. But she was
herself unwilling to give up the kerchief and always wore a dark dress.
After her mistress' death she became still more quiet and humble. A
Russian readily feels fear, and affection; but it is hard to gain his
respect: it is not soon given, nor to every one. For Agafya every one
in the house had great respect; no one even remembered her previous
sins, as though they had been buried with the old master.
When Kalitin became Marya Dmitrievna's husband, he wanted to
intrust the care of the house to Agafya. But she refused 'on account of
temptation;' he scolded her, but she bowed humbly and left the room.
Kalitin was clever in understanding men; he understood Agafya and did
not forget her. When he moved to the town, he gave her, with her
consent, the place of nurse to Lisa, who was only just five years old.
Lisa was at first frightened by the austere and serious face of her
new nurse; but she soon grew used to her and began to love her. She was
herself a serious child. Her features recalled Kalitin's decided and
regular profile, only her eyes were not her father's; they were lighted
up by a gentle attentiveness and goodness, rare in children. She did
not care to play with dolls, never laughed loudly or for long, and
behaved with great decorum. She was not often thoughtful, but when she
was, it was almost always with some reason. After a short silence, she
usually turned to some grown-up person with a question which showed
that her brain had been at work upon some new impression. She very
early got over childish lispings, and by the time she was four years
old spoke perfectly plainly. She was afraid of her father; her feeling
towards her mother was undefinable, she was not afraid of her, nor was
she demonstrative to her; but she was not demonstrative even towards
Agafya, though she was the only person she loved. Agafya never left
her. It was curious to see them together. Agafya, all in black, with a
dark handkerchief on her head, her face thin and transparent as wax,
but still beautiful and expressive, would be sitting upright, knitting
a stocking; Lisa would sit at her feet in a little arm-chair, also
busied over some kind of work, and seriously raising her clear eyes,
listening to what Agafya was relating to her. And Agafya did not tell
her stories; but in even measured accents she would narrate the life of
the Holy Virgin, the lives of hermits, saints, and holy men. She would
tell Lisa how the holy men lived in deserts, how they were saved, how
they suffered hunger and want, and did not fear kings, but confessed
Christ; how fowls of the air brought them food and wild beasts listened
to them, and flowers sprang up on the spots where their blood had been
spilt. 'Wall-flowers?' asked Lisa one day, she was very fond of
flowers.. . . Agafya spoke to Lisa gravely and meekly, as though she
felt herself to be unworthy to utter such high and holy words. Lisa
listened to her, and the image of the all-seeing, all-knowing God
penetrated with a kind of sweet power into her very soul, filling it
with pure and reverent awe; but Christ became for her something near,
well-known, almost familiar. Agafya taught her to pray also. Sometimes
she wakened Lisa early at daybreak, dressed her hurriedly, and took her
in secret to matins. Lisa followed her on tiptoe, almost holding her
breath. The cold and twilight of the early morning, the freshness and
emptiness of the church, the very secrecy of these unexpected
expeditions, the cautious return home and to her little bed, all these
mingled impressions of the forbidden, strange, and holy agitated the
little girl and penetrated to the very innermost depths of her nature.
Agafya never censured any one, and never scolded Lisa for being
naughty. When she was displeased at anything, she only kept silence.
And Lisa understood this silence; with a child's quick-sightedness she
knew very well, too, when Agafya was displeased with other people,
Marya Dmitrievna, or Kalitin himself. For a little over three years
Agafya waited on Lisa, then Mademoiselle Moreau replaced her; but the
frivolous Frenchwoman, with her cold ways and exclamation, tout ça
c'est des batises, could never dislodge her dear nurse from Lisa's
heart; the seeds that had been dropped into it had become too deeply
rooted. Besides, though Agafya no longer waited on Lisa, she was still
in the house and often saw her charge, who believed in her as before.
Agafya did not, however, get on well with Marfa Timofyevna, when
she came to live in the Kalitins' house. Such gravity and dignity on
the part of one who had once worn the motley skirt of a peasant wench
displeased the impatient and self-willed old lady. Agafya asked leave
to go on a pilgrimage and she never came back. There were dark rumours
that she had gone off to a retreat of sectaries. But the impression she
had left in Lisa's soul was never obliterated. She went as before to
the mass as to a festival, she prayed with rapture, with a kind of
restrained and shamefaced transport, at which Marya Dmitrievna secretly
marvelled not a little, and even Marfa Timofyevna, though she did not
restrain Lisa in any way, tried to temper her zeal, and would not let
her make too many prostrations to the earth in her prayers; it was not
a lady-like habit, she would say. In her studies Lisa worked well, that
is to say perseveringly; she was not gifted with specially brilliant
abilities, or great intellect; she could not succeed in anything
without labour. She played the piano well, but only Lemm knew what it
had cost her. She had read little; she had not 'words of her own,' but
she had her own ideas, and she went her own way. It was not only on the
surface that she took after her father; he, too, had never asked other
people what was to be done. So she had grown up tranquilly and
restfully till she had reached the age of nineteen. She was very
charming, without being aware of it herself. Her every movement was
full of spontaneous, somewhat awkward gracefulness; her voice had the
silvery ring of untouched youth, the least feeling of pleasure called
forth an enchanting smile on her lips, and added a deep light and a
kind of mystic sweetness to her kindling eyes. Penetrated through and
through by a sense of duty, by the dread of hurting any one whatever,
with a kind and tender heart, she had loved all men, and no one in
particular; God only she had loved passionately, timidly, and tenderly.
Lavretsky was the first to break in upon her peaceful inner life.
Such was Lisa.
ON the following day at twelve o'clock, Lavretsky set off to the
Kalitins. On the way he met Panshin, who galloped past him on
horseback, his hat pulled down to his very eyebrows. At the Kalitins',
Lavretsky was not admitted for the first time since he had been
acquainted with them. Marya Dmitrievna was 'resting,' so the footman
informed him; her excellency had a headache. Marfa Timofyevna and
Lisaveta Mihalovna were not at home. Lavretsky walked round the garden
in the faint hope of meeting Lisa, but he saw no one. He came back two
hours later and received the same answer, accompanied by a rather
dubious look from the footman. Lavretsky thought it would be unseemly
to call for a third time the same day, and he decided to drive over to
Vassilyevskoe, where he had business moreover. On the road he made
various plans for the future, each better than the last; but he was
overtaken by a melancholy mood when he reached his aunt's little
village. He fell into conversation with Anton; the old man, as if
purposely, seemed full of cheerless fancies. He told Lavretsky how, at
her death, Glafira Petrovna had bitten her own arm, and after a brief
pause, added with a sigh: 'Every man, dear master, is destined to
devour himself.' It was late when Lavretsky set off on the way back. He
was haunted by the music of the day before, and Lisa's image returned
to him in all its sweet distinctness; he mused with melting tenderness
over the thought that she loved him, and reached his little house in
the town, soothed and happy.
The first thing that struck him as he went into the entrance hall
was a scent of patchouli, always distasteful to him; there were some
high travelling-trunks standing there. The face of his groom, who ran
out to meet him, seemed strange to him. Not stopping to analyse his
impressions, he crossed the threshold of the drawing-room.. . . On his
entrance there rose from the sofa a lady in a black silk dress with
flounces, who, raising a cambric handkerchief to her pale face, made a
few paces forward, bent her carefully dressed, perfumed head, and fell
at his feet.. . . Then, only, he recognised her: this lady was his
He caught his breath.. . . He leaned against the wall.
'Théodore, do not repulse me!' she said in French, and her voice
cut to his heart like a knife.
He looked at her senselessly, and yet he noticed involuntarily at
once that she had grown both whiter and fatter.
'Théodore!' she went on, from time to time lifting her eyes and
discreetly wringing her marvellously-beautiful fingers with their rosy,
polished nails. 'Théodore, I have wronged you, deeply wronged you; I
will say more, I have sinned: but hear me; I am tortured by remorse, I
have grown hateful to myself, I could endure my position no longer; how
many times have I thought of turning to you, but I feared your anger; I
resolved to break every tie with the past.. . . Puis j'ai été si
malade.. . . I have been so ill,' she added, and passed her hand over
her brow and cheek. I took advantage of the widely-spread rumour of my
death, I gave up everything; without resting day or night I hastened
hither; I hesitated long to appear before you, my judge.. . . paraatre
devant vous, mon juge; but I resolved at last, remembering your
constant goodness, to come to you; I found your address at Moscow.
Believe me,' she went on, slowly getting up from the floor and sitting
on the very edge of an arm-chair, 'I have often thought of death, and I
should have found courage enough to take my life. . . ah! life is a
burden unbearable for me now!. . . but the thought of my daughter, my
little Ada, stopped me. She is here, she is asleep in the next room,
the poor child! She is tired-you shall see her; she at least has done
you no wrong, and I am so unhappy, so unhappy!' cried Madame Lavretsky,
and she melted into tears.
Lavretsky came to himself at last; he moved away from the wall and
turned towards the door.
'You are going?' cried his wife in a voice of despair. 'Oh, this is
cruel! Without uttering one word to me, not even a reproach. This
contempt will kill me, it is terrible!'
Lavretsky stood still.
'What do you want to hear from me?' he articulated in an
'Nothing, nothing,' she rejoined quickly, 'I know I have no right
to expect anything; I am not mad, believe me; I do not hope, I do not
dare to hope for your forgiveness; I only venture to entreat you to
command me what I am to do, where I am to live. Like a slave I will
fulfil your commands whatever they may be.'
'I have no commands to give you,' replied Lavretsky in the same
colourless voice; 'you know, all is over between us. . . and now more
than ever; you can live where you like; and if your allowance is too
'Ah, don't say such dreadful things,' Varvara Pavlovna interrupted
him, 'spare me, if only. . . if only for the sake of this angel.' And
as she uttered these words, Varvara Pavlovna ran impulsively into the
next room, and returned at once with a small and very elegantly dressed
little girl in her arms.
Thick flaxen curls fell over her pretty rosy little face, and on to
her large sleepy black eyes; she smiled and blinked her eyes at the
light and laid a chubby little hand on her mother's neck.
'Ada, vois, c'est ton père,' said Varvara Pavlovna, pushing the
curls back from her eyes and kissing her vigorously, 'prie le avec
'C'est ça, papa?' stammered the little girl lisping.
'Oui, mon enfant, n'est-ce pas que tu l'aimes?'
But this was more than Lavretsky could stand.
'In such a melodrama must there really be a scene like this?' he
muttered, and went out of the room.
Varvara Pavlovna stood still for some time in the same place,
slightly shrugged her shoulders, carried the little girl off into the
next room, undressed her and put her to bed. Then she took up a book
and sat down near the lamp, and after staying up for an hour she went
to bed herself.
'Eh bien, madame?' queried her maid, a Frenchwoman whom she had
brought from Paris, as she unlaced her corset.
'Eh bien, Justine,' she replied, 'he is a good deal older, but I
fancy he is just the same good-natured fellow. Give me my gloves for
the night, and get out my grey high-necked dress for to-morrow, and
don't forget the mutton cutlets for Ada.. . . I daresay it will be
difficult to get them here; but we must try.'
'A la guerre comme à la guerre,' replied Justine, as she put out
FOR more than two hours Lavretsky wandered about the streets of the
town. The night he had spent in the outskirts of Paris returned to his
mind. His heart was bursting and his head, dull and stunned, was filled
again with the same dark senseless angry thoughts, constantly
recurring. 'She is alive, she is here,' he muttered, with ever fresh
amazement. He felt that he had lost Lisa. His wrath choked him; this
blow had fallen too suddenly upon him. How could he so readily have
believed in the nonsensical gossip of a journal, a wretched scrap of
paper? 'Well, if I had not believed it,' he thought, 'what difference
would it have made? I should not have known that Lisa loved me; she
would not have known it herself.' He could not rid himself of the
image, the voice, the eyes of his wife. . . and he cursed himself, he
cursed everything in the world.
Wearied out he went towards morning to Lemm's. For a long while he
could make no one hear; at last at a window the old man's head appeared
in a nightcap, sour, wrinkled, and utterly unlike the inspired austere
visage which twenty-four hours before had looked down imperiously upon
Lavretsky in all the dignity of artistic grandeur.
'What do you want?' queried Lemm. 'I can't play to you every night,
I have taken a decoction for a cold.' But Lavretsky's face, apparently,
struck him as strange; the old man made a shade for his eyes with his
hand, took a look at his belated visitor, and let him in.
Lavretsky went into the room and sank into a chair. The old man
stood still before him, wrapping the skirts of his shabby striped
dressing-gown around him, shrinking together and gnawing his lips.
'My wife is here,' Lavretsky brought out. He raised his head and
suddenly broke into involuntary laughter.
Lemm's face expressed bewilderment, but he did not even smile, only
wrapped himself closer in his dressing-gown.
'Of course, you don't know,' Lavretsky went on, 'I had imagined. .
. I read in a paper that she was dead.'
'O-oh, did you read that lately?' asked Lemm.
'O-oh,' repeated the old man, raising his eyebrows. 'And she is
'Yes. She is at my house now; and I. . . I am an unlucky fellow.'
And he laughed again.
'You are an unlucky fellow,' Lemm repeated slowly.
'Christopher Fedoritch,' began Lavretsky, 'would you undertake to
carry a note for me?'
'H'm. May I know to whom?'
'Ah. . . yes, yes, I understand. Very good. And when must the
letter be received?'
'To-morrow, as early as possible.'
'H'm. I can send Katrine, my cook. No, I will go myself.'
'And you will bring me an answer?'
'Yes, I will bring an answer.'
'Yes, my poor young friend; you are certainly an unlucky young
Lavretsky wrote a few words to Lisa. He told her of his wife's
arrival, begged her to appoint a meeting with him,-then he flung
himself on the narrow sofa, with his face to the wall; and the old man
lay down on the bed, and kept muttering a long while, coughing and
drinking off his decoction by gulps.
The morning came; they both got up. With strange eyes they looked
at one another. At that moment Lavretsky longed to kill himself. The
cook, Katrine, brought them some villainous coffee. It struck eight.
Lemm put on his hat, and saying that he was going to give a lesson at
the Kalitins' at ten, but he could find a suitable pretext for going
there now, he set off. Lavretsky flung himself again on the little
sofa, and once more the same bitter laugh stirred in the depth of his
soul. He thought of how his wife had driven him out of his house; he
imagined Lisa's position, covered his eyes and clasped his hands behind
his head. At last Lemm came back and brought him a scrap of paper, on
which Lisa had scribbled in pencil the following words: 'We cannot meet
to-day; perhaps, to-morrow evening. Good-bye.' Lavretsky thanked Lemm
briefly and indifferently, and went home.
He found his wife at breakfast; Ada, in curl-papers, in a little
white frock with blue ribbons, was eating her mutton cutlet. Varvara
Pavlovna rose at once directly Lavretsky entered the room, and went to
meet him with humility in her face. He asked her to follow him into the
study, shut the door after them, and began to walk up and down; she sat
down, modestly laying one hand over the other, and began to follow his
movements with her eyes, which were still beautiful, though they were
pencilled lightly under their lids.
For some time Lavretsky could not speak; he felt that he could not
master himself, he saw clearly that Varvara Pavlovna was not in the
least afraid of him, but was assuming an appearance of being ready to
faint away in another instant.
'Listen, madam,' he began at last, breathing with difficulty and at
moments setting his teeth: 'it is useless for us to make pretences with
one another; I don't believe in your penitence; and even if it were
sincere, to be with you again, to live with you, would be impossible
Varvara Pavlovna bit her lips and half-closed her eyes. 'It is
aversion,' she thought; 'all is over; in his eyes I am not even a
'Impossible,' repeated Lavretsky, fastening the top buttons of his
coat. 'I don't know what induced you to come here; I suppose you have
come to the end of your money.'
'Ah! you hurt me!' whispered Varvara Pavlovna.
'However that may be-you are, any way, my wife, unhappily. I cannot
drive you away . . . and this is the proposal I make you. You may
to-day, if you like, set off to Lavriky, and live there: there is, as
you know a good house there; you will have everything you need in
addition to your allowance . . . Do you agree?'-Varvara Pavlovna raised
an embroidered handkerchief to her face.
'I have told you already,' she said, her lips twitching nervously,
'that I will consent to whatever you think fit to do with me; at
present it only remains for me to beg of you-will you allow me at least
to thank you for your magnanimity?'
'No thanks, I beg-it is better without that,' Lavretsky said
hurriedly. 'So then,' he pursued, approaching the door, 'I may reckon
'To-morrow I will be at Lavriky,' Varvara Pavlovna declared, rising
respectfully from her place. 'But Fedor Ivanitch--' (She no longer
called him 'Théodore.')
'What do you want?'
'I know, I have not yet gained any right to forgiveness; may I hope
at least that with time--'
'Ah, Varvara Pavlovna,' Lavretsky broke in, 'you are a clever
woman, but I too am not a fool; I know that you don't want forgiveness
in the least. And I have forgiven you long ago; but there was always a
great gulf between us.'
'I know how to submit,' rejoined Varvara Pavlovna, bowing her head.
'I have not forgotten my sin; I should not have been surprised if I had
learnt that you even rejoiced at the news of my death,' she added
softly, slightly pointing with her hand to the copy of the journal
which was lying forgotten by Lavretsky on the table.
Fedor Ivanitch started; the paper had been marked in pencil.
Varvara Pavlovna gazed at him with still greater humility. She was
superb at that moment. Her grey Parisian gown clung gracefully round
her supple, almost girlish figure; her slender, soft neck, encircled by
a white collar, her bosom gently stirred by her even breathing, her
hands innocent of bracelets and rings-her whole figure, from her
shining hair to the tip of her just visible little shoe, was so
artistic . . .
Lavretsky took her in with a glance of hatred; scarcely could he
refrain from crying: 'Bravo!' scarcely could he refrain from felling
her with a blow of his fist on her shapely head-and he turned on his
heel. An hour later he had started for Vassilyevskoe, and two hours
later Varvara Pavlovna had bespoken the best carriage in the town, had
put on a simple straw hat with a black veil, and a modest mantle, given
Ada into the charge of Justine, and set off to the Kalitins'. From the
inquiries she had made among the servants, she had learnt that her
husband went to see them every day.
THE DAY of the arrival of Lavretsky's wife at the town of O--, a
sorrowful day for him, had been also a day of misery for Lisa. She had
not had time to go down-stairs and say good-morning to her mother, when
the tramp of hoofs was heard under the window, and with secret dismay
she saw Panshin riding into the courtyard. 'He has come so early for a
final explanation,' she thought, and she was not mistaken. After a turn
in the drawing-room, he suggested that she should go with him into the
garden, and then asked her for the decision of his fate. Lisa summoned
up all her courage and told him that she could not be his wife. He
heard her to the end, standing on one side of her and pulling his hat
down over his forehead; courteously, but in a changed voice, he asked
her, 'Was this her last word, and had he given her any ground for such
a change in her views?'-then pressed his hand to his eyes, sighed
softly and abruptly, and took his hand away from his face again.
'I did not want to go along the beaten track,' he said huskily. 'I
wanted to choose a wife according to the dictates of my heart; but it
seems this was not to be. Farewell, fond dream!' He made Lisa a
profound bow, and went back into the house.
She hoped that he would go away at once; but he went into Marya
Dmitrievna's room and remained nearly an hour with her. As he came out,
he said to Lisa: 'Votre mère vous appelle; adieu à jamais,' . . .
mounted his horse, and set off at full trot from the very steps. Lisa
went in to Marya Dmitrievna and found her in tears; Panshin had
informed her of his ill-luck.
'Do you want to be the death of me? Do you want to be the death of
me?' was how the disconsolate widow began her lamentations. 'Whom do
you want? Wasn't he good enough for you? A kammer-junker! not
interesting! He might have married any Maid of Honour he liked in
Petersburg. And I-I had so hoped for it! Is it long that you have
changed towards him? How has this misfortune come on us,-it cannot have
come of itself! Is it that dolt of a cousin's doing? A nice person you
have picked up to advise you!'
'And he, poor darling,' Marya Dmitrievna went on, 'how respectful
he is, how attentive even in his sorrow! He has promised not to desert
me. Ah, I can never bear that! Ah, my head aches fit to split! Send me
Palashka. You will be the death of me, if you don't think better of
it,-do you hear?'
And, calling her twice an ungrateful girl, Marya Dmitrievna
She went to her own room. But she had not had time to recover from
her interviews with Panshin and her mother before another storm broke
over her head, and this time from a quarter from which she would least
have expected it Marfa Timofyevna came into her room, and at once
slammed the door after her. The old lady's face was pale, her cap was
awry, her eyes were flashing, and her hands and lips were trembling.
Lisa was astonished; she had never before seen her sensible and
reasonable aunt in such a condition.
'A pretty thing, miss,' Marfa Timofyevna began in a shaking and
broken whisper, 'a pretty thing! Who taught you such ways, I should
like to know, miss? . . . Give me some water; I can't speak.'
'Calm yourself, auntie, what is the matter?' said Lisa, giving her
a glass of water. 'Why, I thought you did not think much of Mr Panshin
Marfa Timofyevna pushed away the glass.
'I can't drink; I shall knock my last teeth out if I try to What's
Panshin to do with it? Why bring Panshin in? You had better tell me who
has taught you to make appointments at night-eh? miss?'
Lisa turned pale.
'Now, please, don't try to deny it,' pursued Marfa Timofyevna;
'Shurotchka herself saw it all and told me. I have had to forbid her
chattering, but she is not a liar.'
'I don't deny it, auntie,' Lisa uttered scarcely audibly.
'Ah, ah! That's it, is it, miss; you made an appointment with him,
that old sinner, who seems so meek?'
'I went down into the drawing-room for a book; he was in the
garden-and he called me.'
'And you went? A pretty thing! So you love him, eh?'
'I love him,' answered Lisa softly.
'Merciful Heavens! She loves him!' Marfa Timofyevna snatched off
her cap. 'She loves a married man! Ah! she loves him.'
'He told me' . . . began Lisa.
'What has he told you, the scoundrel, eh?'
'He told me that his wife was dead.'
Marfa Timofyevna crossed herself. 'Peace be with her,' she
muttered; 'she was a vain hussy, God forgive her. So, then, he's a
widower, I suppose. And he's losing no time, I see. He has buried one
wife and now he's after another. He's a nice person: only let me tell
you one thing, niece; in my day, when I was young, harm came to young
girls from such goings on. Don't be angry with me, my girl, only fools
are angry at the truth. I have given orders not to admit him to-day. I
love him, but I shall never forgive him for this. Upon my word, a
widower! Give me some water. But as for your sending Panshin about his
business, I think you're a first-rate girl for that. Only don't you go
sitting of nights with any animals of that sort; don't break my old
heart, or else you'll see I'm not all fondness-I can bite too . . . a
Marfa Timofyevna went off, and Lisa sat down in a corner and began
to cry. There was bitterness in her soul. She had not deserved such
humiliation. Love had proved no happiness to her: she was weeping for a
second time since yesterday evening. This new unexpected feeling had
only just arisen in her heart, and already what a heavy price she had
paid for it, how coarsely had strange hands touched her sacred secret.
She felt ashamed, and bitter, and sick; but she had no doubt and no
dread-and Lavretsky was dearer to her than ever. She had hesitated
while she did not understand herself; but after that meeting, after
that kiss-she could hesitate no more: she knew that she loved, and now
she loved honestly and seriously, she was bound firmly for all her
life, and she did not fear reproaches. She felt that by no violence
could they break that bond.
MARYA DMITRIEVNA was much agitated when she received the
announcement of the arrival of Varvara Pavlovna Lavretsky, she did not
even know whether to receive her; she was afraid of giving offence to
Fedor Ivanitch. At last curiosity prevailed. 'Why,' she reflected, 'she
too is a relation,' and, taking up her position in an arm-chair, she
said to the footman, 'Show her in.' A few moments passed; the door
opened, Varvara Pavlovna, swiftly and with scarcely audible steps,
approached Marya Dmitrievna, and not allowing her to rise from her
chair, bent almost on her knees before her.
'I thank you, dear aunt,' she began in a soft voice full of
emotion, speaking Russian; 'I thank you; I did not hope for such
condescension on your part; you are an angel of goodness.'
As she uttered these words Varvara Pavlovna quite unexpectedly took
possession of one of Marya Dmitrievna's hands, and pressing it lightly
in her pale lavender gloves she raised it in a fawning way to her full
rosy lips. Marya Dmitrievna quite lost her head, seeing such a handsome
and charmingly dressed woman almost at her feet. She did not know where
she was. And she tried to withdraw her hand, while, at the same time,
she was inclined to make her sit down, and to say something
affectionate to her. She ended by raising Varvara Pavlovna and kissing
her on her smooth perfumed brow. Varvara Pavlovna was completely
overcome by this kiss.
'How do you do, bonjour,' said Marya Dmitrievna. 'Of course I did
not expect . . . but, of course, I am glad to see you. You understand,
my dear, it's not for me to judge between man and wife' . . .
'My husband is in the right in everything,' Varvara Pavlovna
interposed; 'I alone am to blame.'
'That is a very praiseworthy feeling,' rejoined Marya Dmitrievna,
'very. Have you been here long? Have you seen him? But sit down,
'I arrived yesterday,' answered Varvara Pavlovna, sitting down
meekly. 'I have seen Fedor Ivanitch; I have talked with him.
'Ah! Well, and how was he?'
'I was afraid my sudden arrival would provoke his anger,' continued
Varvara Pavlovna, 'but he did not refuse to see me.'
'That is to say, he did not . . . Yes, yes, I understand,'
commented Marya Dmitrievna. 'He is only a little rough on the surface,
but his heart is soft.'
'Fedor Ivanitch has not forgiven me; he would not hear me. But he
was so good as to assign me Lavriky as a place of residence.'
'Ah! a splendid estate!'
'I am setting off there to-morrow in fulfilment of his wish; but I
esteemed it a duty to visit you first.'
'I am very, very much obliged to you, my dear. Relations ought
never to forget one another. And do you know I am surprised how well
you speak Russian. C'est étonnant.'
Varvara Pavlovna sighed.
'I have been too long abroad, Marya Dmitrievna, I know that; but my
heart has always been Russian, and I have not forgotten my country.'
'Ah, ah; that is good. Fedor Ivanitch did not, however, expect you
at all. Yes; you may trust my experience, la patrie avant tout. Ah,
show me, if you please-what a charming mantle you have.'
'Do you like it?' Varvara Pavlovna slipped it quickly off her
shoulders; 'it is a very simple little thing from Madame Baudran.'
'One can see it at once. From Madame Baudran? How sweet, and what
taste! I am sure you have brought a number of fascinating things with
you. If I could only see them.'
'All my things are at your service, dearest auntie. If you permit,
I can show some patterns to your maid. I have a woman with me from
Paris-a wonderfully clever dressmaker.'
'You are very good, my dear. But, really, I am ashamed.' . . .
'Ashamed!' repeated Varvara Pavlovna reproachfully. 'If you want to
make me happy, dispose of me as if I were your property.'
Marya Dmitrievna was completely melted.
'Vous ates charmante,' she said. 'But why don't you take off your
hat and gloves?'
'What? you will allow me?' asked Varvara Pavlovna, and slightly, as
though with emotion, clasped her hands.
'Of course, you will dine with us, I hope. I-I will introduce you
to my daughter.' Marya Dmitrievna was a little confused. 'Well! we are
in for it! here goes!' she thought. 'She is not very well to-day.'
'O ma tante, how good you are!' cried Varvara Pavlovna, and she
raised her handkerchief to her eyes.
A page announced the arrival of Gedeonovsky. The old gossip came in
bowing and smiling. Marya Dmitrievna presented him to her visitor. He
was thrown into confusion for the first moment; but Varvara Pavlovna
behaved with such coquettish respectfulness to him, that his ears began
to tingle, and gossip, slander, and civility dropped like honey from
his lips. Varvara Pavlovna listened to him with a restrained smile and
began by degrees to talk herself. She spoke modestly of Paris, of her
travels, of Baden; twice she made Marya Dmitrievna laugh, and each time
she sighed a little afterwards, and seemed to be inwardly reproaching
herself for misplaced levity. She obtained permission to bring Ada;
taking off her gloves, with her smooth hands, redolent of soap à la
guimauve, she showed how and where flounces were worn and ruches and
lace and rosettes. She promised to bring a bottle of the new English
scent, Victoria Essence; and was as happy as a child when Marya
Dmitrievna consented to accept it as a gift. She was moved to tears
over the recollection of the emotion she experienced, when, for the
first time, she heard the Russian bells. 'They went so deeply to my
heart,' she explained.
At that instant Lisa came in.
Ever since the morning, from the very instant when, chill with
horror, she had read Lavretsky's note, Lisa had been preparing herself
for the meeting with his wife. She had a presentiment that she would
see her. She resolved not to avoid her, as a punishment of her, as she
called them, sinful hopes. The sudden crisis in her destiny had shaken
her to the foundations. In some two hours her face seemed to have grown
thin. But she did not shed a single tear. 'It's what I deserve!' she
said to herself, repressing with difficulty and dismay some bitter
impulses of hatred which frightened her in her soul. 'Well, I must go
down!' she thought directly she heard of Madame Lavretsky's arrival,
and she went down.. . . She stood a long while at the drawingroom door
before she could summon up courage to open it. With the thought, 'I
have done her wrong,' she crossed the threshold and forced herself to
look at her, forced herself to smile. Varvara Pavlovna went to meet her
directly she caught sight of her, and bowed to her slightly, but still
respectfully. 'Allow me to introduce myself,' she began in an
insinuating voice, 'your maman is so indulgent to me that I hope that
you too will be . . . good to me.' The expression of Varvara Pavlovna,
when she uttered these last words, cold and at the same time soft, her
hypocritical smile, the action of her hands, and her shoulders, her
very dress, her whole being aroused such a feeling of repulsion in Lisa
that she could make no reply to her, and only held out her hand with an
effort. 'This young lady disdains me,' thought Varvara Pavlovna, warmly
pressing Lisa's cold fingers, and turning to Marya Dmitrievna, she
observed in an undertone, 'mais elle est délicieuse!' Lisa faintly
flushed; she heard ridicule, insult in this exclamation. But she
resolved not to trust her impressions, and sat down by the window at
her embroidery-frame. Even here Varvara Pavlovna did not leave her in
peace. She began to admire her taste, her skill.. . . Lisa's heart beat
violently and painfully. She could scarcely control herself, she could
scarcely sit in her place. It seemed to her that Varvara Pavlovna knew
all, and was mocking at her in secret triumph. To her relief,
Gedeonovsky began to talk to Varvara Pavlovna, and drew off her
attention. Lisa bent over her frame, and secretly watched her. 'That
woman,' she thought, 'was loved by him.' But she at once drove away the
very thought of Lavretsky; she was afraid of losing her control over
herself, she felt that her head was going round. Marya Dmitrievna began
to talk of music.
'I have heard, my dear,' she began, 'that you are a wonderful
'It is long since I have played,' replied Varvara Pavlovna, seating
herself without delay at the piano, and running her fingers smartly
over the keys. 'Do you wish it?'
'If you will be so kind.'
Varvara Pavlovna played a brilliant and difficult étude by Hertz
very correctly. She had great power and execution.
'Sylphide!' cried Gedeonovsky.
'Marvellous!' Marya Dmitrievna chimed in. 'Well, Varvara Pavlovna,
I confess,' she observed, for the first time calling her by her name,
'you have astonished me; you might give concerts. We have a musician
here, an old German, a queer fellow, but a very clever musician. He
gives Lisa lessons. He will be simply crazy over you.'
'Lisaveta Mihalovna is also musical?' asked Varvara Pavlovna,
turning her head slightly towards her.
'Yes, she plays fairly, and is fond of music; but what is that
beside you? But there is one young man here too-with whom we must make
you acquainted. He is an artist in soul, and composes very charmingly.
He alone will be able to appreciate you fully.'
'A young man?' said Varvara Pavlovna: 'Who is he? Some poor man?'
'Oh dear no, our chief beau, and not only among us-et à
Petersbourg. A kammer-junker, and received in the best society. You
must have heard of him: Panshin, Vladimir Nikolaitch. He is here on a
government commission . . . a future minister, I daresay!'
'And an artist?'
'An artist at heart, and so well-bred. You shall see him. He has
been here very often of late: I invited him for this evening; I hope he
will come,' added Marya Dmitrievna with a gentle sigh, and an oblique
smile of bitterness.
Lisa knew the meaning of this smile, but it was nothing to her now.
'And young?' repeated Varvara Pavlovna, lightly modulating from
tone to tone.
'Twenty-eight, and of the most prepossessing appearance. Un jeune
homme accompli, indeed.'
'An exemplary young man, one may say,' observed Gedeonovsky.
Varvara Pavlovna began suddenly playing a noisy waltz of Strauss,
opening with such a loud and rapid trill that Gedeonovsky was quite
startled. In the very middle of the waltz she suddenly passed into a
pathetic motive, and finished up with an air from 'Lucia' Fra poco.. .
. She reflected that lively music was not in keeping with her position.
The air from 'Lucia,' with emphasis on the sentimental passages, moved
Marya Dmitrievna greatly.
'What soul!' she observed in an undertone to Gedeonovsky.
'A sylphide!' repeated Gedeonovsky, raising his eyes towards
The dinner hour arrived. Marfa Timofyevna came down from up-stairs,
when the soup was already on the table. She treated Varvara Pavlovna
very drily, replied in half-sentences to her civilities, and did not
look at her. Varvara Pavlovna soon realised that there was nothing to
be got out of this old lady, and gave up trying to talk to her. To make
up for this, Marya Dmitrievna became still more cordial to her guest;
her aunt's discourtesy irritated her. Marfa Timofyevna, however, did
not only avoid looking at Varvara Pavlovna; she did not look at Lisa
either, though her eyes seemed literally blazing. She sat as though she
were of stone, yellow and pale, her lips compressed, and ate nothing.
Lisa seemed calm; and in reality, her heart was more at rest; a strange
apathy, the apathy of the condemned had come upon her. At dinner
Varvara Pavlovna spoke little; she seemed to have grown timid again,
and her countenance was overspread with an expression of modest
melancholy. Gedeonovsky alone enlivened the conversation with his
tales, though he constantly looked timorously towards Marfa Timofyevna
and coughed-he was always overtaken by a fit of coughing when he was
going to tell a lie in her presence-but she did not hinder him by any
interruption. After dinner it seemed that Varvara Pavlovna was quite
devoted to preference; at this Marya Dmitrievna was so delighted that
she felt quite overcome, and thought to herself, 'Really what a fool
Fedor Ivanitch must be; not able to appreciate a woman like this!'
She sat down to play cards together with her and Gedeonovsky, and
Marfa Timofyevna led Lisa away up-stairs with her, saying that she
looked shocking, and that she must certainly have a headache.
'Yes, she has an awful headache,' observed Marya Dmitrievna,
turning to Varvara Pavlovna and rolling her eyes, 'I myself have often
just such sick headaches.'
'Really!' rejoined Varvara Pavlovna.
Lisa went into her aunt's room, and sank powerless into a chair.
Marfa Timofyevna gazed long at her in silence, slowly she knelt down
before her-and began still in the same silence to kiss her hands
alternately. Lisa bent forward, crimsoning-and began to weep, but she
did not make Marfa Timofyevna get up, she did not take away her hands;
she felt that she had not the right to take them away, that she had not
the right to hinder the old lady from expressing her penitence, and her
sympathy, from begging forgiveness for what had passed the day before.
And Marfa Timofyevna could not kiss enough those poor, pale, powerless
hands, and silent tears flowed from her eyes and from Lisa's; while the
cat Matross purred in the wide arm-chair among the knitting wool, and
the long flame of the little lamp faintly stirred and flickered before
the holy picture. In the next room, behind the door, stood Nastasya
Karpovna, and she too was furtively wiping her eyes with her check
pocket-handkerchief rolled up in a ball.
MEANWHILE, down-stairs, preference was going on merrily in the
drawing-room; Marya Dmitrievna was winning, and was in high
good-humour. A servant came in and announced that Panshin was below.
Marya Dmitrievna dropped her cards and moved restlessly in her
arm-chair; Varvara Pavlovna looked at her with a half-smile, then
turned her eyes towards the door. Panshin made his appearance in a
black frock-coat buttoned up to the throat, and a high English collar.
'It was hard for me to obey; but you see I have come,' this was what
was expressed by his unsmiling, freshly shaven countenance.
'Well, Woldemar,' cried Marya Dmitrievna, 'you used to come in
Panshin only replied to Marya Dmitrievna by a single glance. He
bowed courteously to her, but did not kiss her hand. She presented him
to Varvara Pavlovna; he stepped back a pace, bowed to her with the same
courtesy, but with still greater elegance and respect, and took a seat
near the card-table. The game of preference was soon over. Panshin
inquired after Lisaveta Mihalovna, learnt that she was not quite well,
and expressed his regret. Then he began to talk to Varvara Pavlovna,
diplomatically weighing each word and giving it its full value, and
politely hearing her answers to the end. But the dignity of his
diplomatic tone did not impress Varvara Pavlovna, and she did not adopt
it. On the contrary, she looked him in the face with light-hearted
attention and talked easily, while her delicate nostrils were quivevna
began to enlarge on her talent; Panshin courteously inclined his head,
so far as his collar would permit him, declared that, 'he felt sure of
it beforehand,' and almost turned the conversation to the diplomatic
topic of Metternich himself. Varvara Pavlovna, with an expressive look
in her velvety eyes, said in a low voice, 'Why, but you too are an
artist, un confrère,' adding still lower, 'venez!' with a nod towards
the piano. The single word venez thrown at him, instantly, as though by
magic, effected a complete transformation in Panshin's whole
appearance. His care-worn air disappeared; he smiled and grew lively,
unbuttoned his coat, and repeating 'a poor artist, alas! Now you, I
have heard, are a real artist;' he followed Varvara Pavlovna to the
piano.. . .
'Make him sing his song, "How the Moon Floats,"' cried Marya
'Do you sing?' said Varvara Pavlovna, enfolding him in a rapid
radiant look. 'Sit down.'
Panshin began to cry off.
'Sit down,' she repeated insistently, tapping on a chair behind
He sat down, coughed, tugged at his collar, and sang his song.
'Charmant,' pronounced Varvara Pavlovna, 'you sing very well, vous
avez du style, again.'
She walked round the piano and stood just opposite Panshin. He sang
it again, increasing the melodramatic tremor in his voice. Varvara
Pavlovna stared steadily at him, leaning her elbows on the piano and
holding her white hands on a level with her lips. Panshin finished the
'Charmant, charmante idée,' she said with the calm self-confidence
of a connoisseur. 'Tell me, have you composed anything for a woman's
voice, for a mezzo-soprano?'
'I hardly compose at all,' replied Panshin. 'That was only thrown
off in the intervals of business . . . but do you sing?'
'Oh! sing us something,' urged Marya Dmitrievna.
Varvara Pavlovna pushed her hair back off her glowing cheeks and
gave her head a little shake.
'Our voices ought to go well together,' she observed, 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, once,' replied Panshin, 'but
long ago; I have forgotten it.'
'Never mind, we will rehearse it in a low voice. Allow me.'
Varvara Pavlovna sat down at piano, Panshin stood by her. They sang
through the duet in an undertone, and Varvara Pavlovna corrected him
several times as they did so, then they sang it aloud, and then twice
repeated the performance of Mira la bianca lu-u-una. Varvara Pavlovna's
voice had lost its freshness, but she managed it with great skill.
Panshin at first was hesitating, and a little out of tune, then he
warmed up, and if his singing was not quite beyond criticism, at least
he shrugged his shoulders, swayed his whole person, and lifted his hand
from time to time in the most genuine style. Varvara Pavlovna played
two or three little things of Thalber's, and coquettishly rendered a
little French ballad. Marya Dmitrievna did not know how to express her
delight; she several times tried to send for Lisa. Gedeonovsky, too,
was at a loss for words, and could only nod his head, but all at once
he gave an unexpected yawn, and hardly had time to cover his mouth with
his hand. This yawn did not escape Varvara Pavlovna; she at once turned
her back on the piano, observing, 'Assez de musique comme ça; let us
talk,' and she folded her arms. 'Oui, assez de musique,' repeated
Panshin gaily, and at once he dropped into a chat, alert, light, and in
French. 'Precisely as in the best Parisian salon,' thought Marya
Dmitrievna, as she listened to their fluent and quick-witted sentences.
Panshin had a sense of complete satisfaction; his eyes shone, and he
smiled. At first he passed his hand across his face, contracted his
brows, and sighed spasmodically whenever he chanced to encounter Marya
Dmitrievna's eyes. But latter on he forgot her altogether, and gave
himself up entirely to the enjoyment of a half-worldly, half-artistic
chat. Varvara Pavlovna proved to be a great philosopher; she had a
ready answer for everything; she never hesitated, never doubted about
anything; one could see that she had conversed much with clever men of
all kinds. All her ideas, all her feelings revolved round Paris.
Panshin turned the conversation upon literature; it seemed that, like
himself, she read only French books. George Sand drove her to
exasperation, Balzac she respected, but he wearied her; in Sue and
Scribe she saw great knowledge of human nature, Dumas and Féval she
adored. In her heart she preferred Paul de Kock to all of them, but of
course she did not even mention his name. To tell the truth, literature
had no great interest for her. Varvara Pavlovna very skilfully avoided
all that could even remotely recall her position; there was no
reference to love in her remarks; on the contrary, they were rather
expressive of austerity in regard to the allurements of passion, of
disillusionment and resignation. Panshin disputed with her; she did not
agree with him . . . but, strange to say! . . . at the very time when
words of censure-often of severe censure-were coming from her lips,
these words had a soft caressing sound, and her eyes spoke . . .
precisely what those lovely eyes spoke, it was hard to say; but at
least their utterances were anything but severe, and were full of
Panshin tried to interpret their secret meaning, he tried to make
his own eyes speak, but he felt he was not successful; he was conscious
that Varvara Pavlovna, in the character of a real lioness from abroad,
stood high above him, and consequently was not completely master of
himself. Varvara Pavlovna had a habit in conversation of lightly
touching the sleeve of the person she was talking to; these momentary
contacts had a most disquieting influence on Vladimir Nikolaitch.
Varvara Pavlovna possessed the faculty of getting on easily with every
one; before two hours had passed it seemed to Panshin that he had known
her for an age, and Lisa, the same Lisa whom, at any-rate, he had
loved, to whom he had the evening before offered his hand, had vanished
as it were into a mist. Tea was brought in; the conversation became
still more unconstrained. Marya Dmitrievna rang for the page and gave
orders to ask Lisa to come down if her head were better. Panshin,
hearing Lisa's name, fell to discussing self-sacrifice and the question
which was more capable of sacrifice-man or woman. Marya Dmitrievna at
once became excited, began to maintain that woman is the more ready for
sacrifice, declared that she would prove it in a couple of words, got
confused and finished up by a rather unfortunate comparison. Varvara
Pavlovna took up a music-book and half-hiding behind it and bending
towards Panshin, she observed in a whisper, as she nibbled a biscuit,
with a serene smile on her lips and in her eyes, 'Elle n'a pas inventé
la poudre, la bonne dame.' Panshin was a little taken aback and amazed
at Varvara Pavlovna's audacity; but he did not realise how much
contempt for himself was concealed in this unexpected outbreak, and
forgetting Marya Dmitrievna's kindness and devotion, forgetting all the
dinners she had given him, and the money she had lent him, he replied
(luckless mortal!) with the same smile and in the same tone, 'je crois
bien,' and not even, je crois bien, but j'crois ben!
Varvara Pavlovna flung him a friendly glance and got up. Lisa came
in: Marfa Timofyevna had tried in vain to hinder her; she was resolved
to go through with her sufferings to the end. Varvara Pavlovna went to
meet her together with Panshin, on whose face the former diplomatic
expression had reappeared.
'How are you?' he asked Lisa.
'I am better now, thank you,' she replied.
'We have been having a little music here; it's a pity you did not
hear Varvara Pavlovna, she sings superbly, en artiste consommée.'
'Come here, my dear,' sounded Marya Dmitrievna's voice.
Varvara Pavlovna went to her at once with the submissiveness of a
child, and sat down on a little stool at her feet. Marya Dmitrievna had
called her so as to leave her daughter, at least for a moment, alone
with Panshin; she was still secretly hoping that she would come round.
Besides, an idea had entered her head, to which she was anxious to give
expression at once.
'Do you know,' she whispered to Varvara Pavlovna, 'I want to
endeavour to reconcile you and your husband; I won't answer for my
success, but I will make an effort. He has, you know, a great respect
Varvara Pavlovna slowly raised her eyes to Marya Dmitrievna, and
eloquently clasped her hands.
'You would be my saviour, ma tante,' she said in a mournful voice:
'I don't know how to thank you for all your kindness; but I have been
too guilty towards Fedor Ivanitch; he can not forgive me.'
'But did you-in reality--' Marya Dmitrievna was beginning
'Don't question me,' Varvara Pavlovna interrupted her, and she cast
down her eyes. 'I was young, frivolous. But I don't want to justify
'Well, anyway, why not try? Don't despair,' rejoined Marya
Dmitrievna, and she was on the point of patting her on the cheek, but
after a glance at her she had not the courage. 'She is humble, very
humble,' she thought, 'but still she is a lioness.'
'Are you ill?' Panshin was saying to Lisa meanwhile.
'Yes, I am not well.'
'I understand you,' he brought out after a rather protracted
silence. 'Yes, I understand you.'
'I understand you,' Panshin repeated significantly; he simply did
not know what to say.
Lisa felt embarrassed, and then 'so be it!' she thought. Panshin
assumed a mysterious air and kept silent, looking severely away.
'I fancy though it's struck eleven,' remarked Marya Dmitrievna.
Her guests took the hint and began to say good-bye. Varvara
Pavlovna had to promise that she would come to dinner the following day
and bring Ada. Gedeonovsky, who had all but fallen asleep sitting in
his corner, offered to escort her home. Panshin took leave solemnly of
all, but at the steps as he put Varvara Pavlovna into her carriage he
pressed her hand, and cried after her, 'au revoir!' Gedeonovsky sat
beside her all the way home. She amused herself by pressing the tip of
her little foot as though accidentally on his foot; he was thrown into
confusion and began paying her compliments. She tittered and made eyes
at him when the light of a street lamp fell into the carriage. The
waltz she had played was ringing in her head, and exciting her;
whatever position she might find herself in, she had only to imagine
lights, a ballroom, rapid whirling to the strains of music-and her
blood was on fire, her eyes glittered strangely, a smile strayed about
her lips, and something of bacchanalian grace was visible over her
whole frame. When she reached home Varvara Pavlovna bounded lightly out
of the carriage-only real lionesses know how to bound like that-and
turning round to Gedeonovsky she burst suddenly into a ringing laugh
right in his face.
'An attractive person,' thought the counsellor of state as he made
his way to his lodgings, where his servant was awaiting him with a
glass of opodeldoc: 'It's well I'm a steady fellow-only, what was she
Marfa Timofyevna spent the whole night sitting beside Lisa's bed.
LAVRETSKY spent a day and a half at Vassilyevskoe, and employed
almost all the time in wandering about the neighbourhood. He could not
stop long in one place: he was devoured by anguish; he was torn
unceasingly by impotent violent impulses. He remembered the feeling
which had taken possession of him the day after his arrival in the
country; he remembered his plans then and was intensely exasperated
with himself. What had been able to tear him away from what he
recognised as his duty-as the one task set before him in the future?
The thirst for happiness-again the same thirst for happiness.
'It seems Mihalevitch was right,' he thought; 'you wanted a second
time to taste happiness in life,' he said to himself, 'you forgot that
it is a luxury, an undeserved bliss, if it even comes once to a man. It
was not complete, it was not genuine, you say; but prove your right to
full, genuine happiness! Look round and see who is happy, who enjoys
life about you? Look at that peasant going to the mowing; is he
contented with his fate? . . . What! would you care to change places
with him? Remember your mother; how infinitely little she asked of
life, and what a life fell to her lot. You were only bragging it seems
when you said to Panshin that you had come back to Russia to cultivate
the soil; you have come back to dangle after young girls in your old
age. Directly the news of your freedom came, you threw up everything,
forgot everything; you ran like a boy after a butterfly.' . . .
The image of Lisa continually presented itself in the midst of his
broodings. He drove it away with an effort together with another
importunate figure, other serenely wily, beautiful, hated features. Old
Anton noticed that the master was not himself: after sighing several
times outside the door and several times in the doorway, he made up his
mind to go up to him, and advised him to take a hot drink of something.
Lavretsky swore at him; ordered him out; afterwards he begged his
pardon, but that only made Anton still more sorrowful. Lavretsky could
not stay in the drawing-room; it seemed to him that his
great-grandfather Andrey, was looking contemptuously from the canvas at
his feeble descendant. 'Bah: you swim in shallow water,' the distorted
lips seemed to be saying. 'Is it possible,' he thought, 'that I cannot
master myself, that I am going to give in to this . . . nonsense?'
(Those who are badly wounded in war always call their wounds
'nonsense.' If man did not deceive himself, he could not live on
earth.) 'Am I really a boy? Ah, well; I saw quite close, I almost held
in my hands the possibility of happiness for my whole life; yes, in the
lottery too-turn the wheel a little and the beggar perhaps would be a
rich man. If it does not happen, then it does not-and it's all over. I
will set to work, with my teeth clenched, and make myself be quiet;
it's as well, it's not the first time I have had to hold myself in. And
why have I run away, why am I stopping here sticking my head in a bush,
like an ostrich? A fearful thing to face trouble . . . nonsense!
Anton,' he called aloud, 'order the coach to be brought round at once.
Yes,' he thought again, 'I must grin and bear it, I must keep myself
well in hand.'
With such reasonings Lavretsky tried to ease his pain; but it was
deep and intense; and even Apraxya who had outlived all emotion as well
as intelligence shook her head and followed him mournfully with her
eyes, as he took his seat in the coach to drive to the town. The horses
galloped away; he sat upright and motionless, and looked fixedly at the
road before him.
LISA had written to Lavretsky the day before, to tell him to come
in the evening; but he first went home to his lodgings. He found
neither his wife nor his daughter at home; from the servants he learned
that she had gone with the child to the Kalitins.' This information
astounded and maddened him. 'Varvara Pavlovna has made up her mind not
to let me live at all, it seems,' he thought with a passion of hatred
in his heart. He began to walk up and down, and his hands and feet were
constantly knocking up against child's toys, books and feminine
belongings; he called Justine and told her to clear away all this
'litter.' 'Oui, monsieur,' she said with a grimace, and began to set
the room in order, stooping gracefully and letting Lavretsky feel in
every movement that she regarded him as an unpolished bear.
He looked with aversion at her faded, but still 'piquante,'
ironical, Parisian face, at her white elbow-sleeves, her silk apron,
and little light cap. He sent her away at last, and after long
hesitation (as Varvara Pavlovna still did not return) he decided to go
to the Kalitins'-not to see Marya Dmitrievna (he would not for anything
in the world have gone into that drawing-room, the room where his wife
was), but to go up to Marfa Timofyevna's. He remembered that the back
staircase from the servants' entrance led straight to her apartment. He
acted on this plan; fortune favoured him; he met Shurotchka in the
court-yard; she conducted him up to Marfa Timofyevna's. He found her,
contrary to her usual habit, alone; she was sitting without a cap in a
corner, bent, and her arms crossed over her breast. The old lady was
much upset on seeing Lavretsky, she got up quickly and began to move to
and fro in the room as if she were looking for her cap.
'Ah, it's you,' she began, fidgeting about and avoiding meeting his
eyes, 'well, how do you do? Well, well, what's to be done! Where were
you yesterday? Well, she has come, so there, there! Well, it must . . .
one way or another.'
Lavretsky dropped into a chair.
'Well, sit down, sit down,' the old lady went on. 'Did you come
straight up-stairs? Well, there, of course. So . . . you came to see
The old lady was silent for a little; Lavretsky did not know what
to say to her; but she understood him.
'Lisa . . . yes, Lisa was here just now,' pursued Marfa Timofyevna,
tying and untying the tassels of her reticule. 'She was not quite well.
Shurotchka, where are you? Come here, my girl; why can't you sit still
a little? My head aches too. It must be the effect of the singing and
'What singing, auntie?'
'Why, we have been having those-upon my word, what do you call
them-duets here. And all in Italian: chi-chi-and cha-cha-like magpies
for all the world with their long drawn-out notes as if they'd pull
your very soul out. That's Panshin, and your wife too. And how quickly
everything was settled; just as though it were all among relations,
without ceremony. However, one may well say, even a dog will try to
find a home; and won't be lost so long as folks don't drive it out.'
'Still, I confess I did not expect this,' rejoined Lavretsky;
'there must be great effrontery to do this.'
'No, my darling, it's not effrontery, it's calculation, God forgive
her! They say you are sending her off to Lavriky; is it true?'
'Yes, I am giving up that property to Varvara Pavlovna.' 'Has she
asked you for money?'
'Well, that won't be long in coming. But I have only now got a look
at you. Are you quite well?'
'Shurotchka!' cried Marfa Timofyevna suddenly, 'run and tell
Lisaveta Mihalovna,-at least, no, ask her . . . is she down-stairs?'
'Well, then; ask her where she put my book? she will know.'
The old lady grew fidgety again and began opening a drawer in the
chest. Lavretsky sat still without stirring in his place.
All at once light footsteps were heard on the stairs-and Lisa came
Lavretsky stood up and bowed; Lisa remained at the door.
'Lisa, Lisa, darling,' began Marfa Timofyevna eagerly, 'where is my
book? where did you put my book?'
'What book, auntie?'
'Why, goodness me, that book! But I didn't call you though. .
.There, it doesn't matter. What are you doing down-stairs? Here Fedor
Ivanitch has come. How is your head?'
'You keep saying it's nothing. What have you going on
'No-they are playing cards.'
'Well, she's ready for anything. Shurotchka, I see you want a run
in the garden-run along.'
'Oh, no, Marfa Timofyevna.'
'Don't argue, if you please, run along. Nastasya Karpovna has gone
out into the garden all by herself; you keep her company. You must
treat the old with respect.'-Shurotchka departed-'But where is my cap?
Where has it got to?'
'Let me look for it,' said Lisa.
'Sit down, sit down; I have still the use of my legs. It must be
inside in my bedroom.'
And flinging a sidelong glance in Lavretsky's direction, Marfa
Timofyevna went out. She left the door open; but suddenly she came back
to it and shut it.
Lisa leant back against her chair and quietly covered her face with
her hands; Lavretsky remained where he was.
'This is how we were to meet again!' he brought out at last.
Lisa took her hands from her face.
'Yes,' she said faintly: 'we were quickly punished.'
'Punished,' said Lavretsky.. . .'What had you done to be punished?'
Lisa raised her eyes to him. There was neither sorrow nor disquiet
expressed in them: they seemed smaller and dimmer. Her face was pale;
and pale too her slightly parted lips.
Lavretsky's heart shuddered for pity and love.
'You wrote to me; all is over,' he whispered, 'yes, all is
over-before it had begun.'
'We must forget all that,' Lisa brought out; 'I am glad that you
have come; I wanted to write to you, but it is better so. Only we must
take advantage quickly of these minutes. It is left for both of us to
do our duty. You, Fedor Ivanitch, must be reconciled with your wife.'
'I beg you to do so; by that alone can we expiate. . . all that has
happened. You will think about it-and will not refuse me.'
'Lisa, for God's sake,-you are asking what is impossible. I am
ready to do everything you tell me; but to be reconciled to her now!. .
. I consent to everything, I have forgotten everything; but I cannot
force my heart.. . . Indeed, this is cruel!'
'I do not even ask of you,. . . what you say; do not live with her,
if you cannot; but be reconciled,' replied Lisa, and again she hid her
eyes in her hand.-'Remember your little girl; do it for my sake.'
'Very well,' Lavretsky muttered between his teeth: 'I will do that,
I suppose in that I shall fulfil my duty. But you-what does your duty
'That I know myself.'
Lavretsky started suddenly.
'You cannot be making up your mind to marry Panshin?' he said.
Lisa gave an almost imperceptible smile.
'Oh, no!' she said.
'Ah, Lisa, Lisa!' cried Lavretsky 'how happy you might have been!'
Lisa looked at him again.
'Now you see yourself, Fedor Ivanitch, that happiness does not
depend on us, but on God.'
'Yes, because you--'
The door from the adjoining room opened quickly and Marfa
Timofyevna came in with her cap in her hand.
'I have found it at last,' she said, standing between Lavretsky and
Lisa; 'I had laid it down myself. That's what age does for one,
alack-though youth's not much better.'
'Well, and are you going to Lavriky yourself with your wife?' she
added, turning to Lavretsky.
'To Lavriky with her? I don't know,' he said, after a moment's
'You are not going down-stairs.'
'To-day,-no, I'm not.'
'Well, well, you know best; but you, Lisa, I think, ought to go
down. Ah, merciful powers, I have forgotten to feed my bullfinch.
There, stop a minute, I'll soon--' And Marfa Timofyevna ran off without
putting on her cap.
Lavretsky walked quickly up to Lisa.
'Lisa,' he began in a voice of entreaty, 'we are parting for ever,
my heart is torn,-give me your hand at parting.'
Lisa raised her head, her wearied eyes, their light almost extinct,
rested upon him.. . . 'No,' she uttered, and she drew back the hand she
was holding out. 'No, Lavretsky (it was the first time she had used
this name), I will not give you my hand. What is the good? Go away, I
beseech you. You know I love you. . . yes, I love you,' she added with
an effort; 'but no . . . no.'
She pressed her handkerchief to her lips.
'Give me, at least, that handkerchief.'
The door creaked. . . the handkerchief slid on to Lisa's lap.
Lavretsky snatched it before it had time to fall to the floor, thrust
it quickly into a side pocket, and turning round met Marfa Timofyevna's
'Lisa, darling, I fancy your mother is calling you,' the old lady
Lisa at once got up and went away.
Marfa Timofyevna sat down again in her corner. Lavretsky began to
take leave of her.
'Fedor,' she said suddenly.
'What is it?'
'Are you an honest man?'
'I ask you, are you an honest man?'
'I hope so.'
'H'm. But give me your word of honour that you will be an honest
'Certainly. But why?'
'I know why. And you too, my dear friend, if you think well, you're
no fool-will understand why I ask it of you. And now, good-bye, my
dear. Thanks for your visit; and remember you have given your word,
Fedya, and kiss me. Oh, my dear, it's hard for you, I know; but there,
it's not easy for any one. Once I used to envy the flies: I thought,
it's for them it's good to be alive, but one night I heard a fly
complaining in a spider's web-no, I think, they too have their
troubles. There's no help, Fedya; but remember your promise all the
Lavretsky went down the back staircase, and had reached the gates
when a man-servant overtook him.
'Marya Dmitrievna told me to ask you to go in to her,' he commenced
'Tell her, my boy, that just now I can't--' Fedor Ivanitch was
'Her excellency told me to ask you very particularly,' continued
the servant. 'She gave orders to say she was at home.'
'Have the visitors gone?' asked Lavretsky.
'Certainly, sir,' replied the servant with a grin.
Lavretsky shrugged his shoulders and followed him.
MARYA DMITRIEVNA was sitting alone in her boudoir in any
easy-chair, sniffing eau de cologne; a glass of orange-flower-water was
standing on a little table near her. She was agitated and seemed
Lavretsky came in.
'You wanted to see me,' he said, bowing coldly.
'Yes,' replied Marya Dmitrievna, and she sipped a little water: 'I
heard that you had gone straight up to my aunt; I gave orders that you
should be asked to come in; I wanted to have a little talk with you.
Sit down, please,' Marya Dmitrievna took breath. 'You know,' she went
on, 'your wife has come.'
'I was aware of that,' remarked Lavretsky.
'Well, then, that is, I wanted to say, she came to me, and I
received her; that is what I wanted to explain to you, Fedor Ivanitch.
Thank God I have, I may say, gained universal respect, and for no
consideration in the world would I do anything improper. Though I
foresaw that it would be disagreeable to you, still I could not make up
my mind to deny myself to her, Fedor Ivanitch; she is a relation of
mine-through you; put yourself in my position, what right had I to shut
my doors on her-you will agree with me?'
'You are exciting yourself needlessly, Marya Dmitrievna,' replied
Lavretsky; 'you acted very well, I am not angry. I have not the least
intention of depriving Varvara Pavlovna of the opportunity of seeing
her friends; I did not come in to you to-day simply because I did not
care to meet her-that was all.'
'Ah, how glad I am to hear you say that, Fedor Ivanitch,' cried
Marya Dmitrievna, 'but I always expected it of your noble sentiments.
And as for my being excited-that's not to be wondered at; I am a woman
and a mother. And your wife. . . of course I cannot judge between you
and her-as I said to her herself; but she is such a delightful woman
that she can produce nothing but a pleasant impression.'
Lavretsky gave a laugh and played with his hat.
'And this is what I wanted to say to you besides, Fedor Ivanitch,'
continued Marya Dmitrievna, moving slightly nearer up to him, 'if you
had seen the modesty of her behaviour, how respectful she is! Really,
it is quite touching. And if you had heard how she spoke of you! I have
been to blame towards him, she said, altogether; I did not know how to
appreciate him, she said; he is an angel, she said, and not a man.
Really, that is what she said-an angel. Her penitence is such. . . Ah,
upon my word, I have never seen such penitence!'
'Well, Marya Dmitrievna,' observed Lavretsky, 'if I may be
inquisitive: I am told that Varvara Pavlovna has been singing in your
drawing-room; did she sing during the time of her penitence, or how was
'Ah, I wonder you are not ashamed to talk like that! She sang and
played the piano only to do me a kindness, because I positively
entreated, almost commanded her to do so. I saw that she was sad, so
sad; I thought how to distract her mind-and I heard that she had such
marvellous talent! I assure you, Fedor Ivanitch, she is utterly
crushed, ask Sergei Petrovitch even; a heart-broken woman, tout à fait:
what do you say?'
Lavretsky only shrugged his shoulders.
'And then what a little angel is that Adotchka of yours, what a
darling! How sweet she is, what a clever little thing; how she speaks
French; and understands Russian too-she called me "auntie" in Russian.
And you know that as for shyness-almost all children at her age are
shy-there's not a trace of it. She's so like you, Fedor Ivanitch, it's
amazing. The eyes, the forehead-well, it's you over again, precisely
you. I am not particularly fond of little children, I must own; but I
simply lost my heart to your little girl.'
'Marya Dmitrievna,' Lavretsky blurted out suddenly, allow me to ask
you what is your object in talking to me like this?'
'What object?' Marya Dmitrievna sniffed her eau de cologne again,
and took a sip of water. 'Why, I am speaking to you, Fedor Ivanitch,
because-I am a relation of yours, you know, I take the warmest interest
in you-I know your heart is of the best. Listen to me, mon cousin. I am
at any rate a woman of experience, and I shall not talk at random:
forgive her, forgive your wife.' Marya Dmitrievna's eyes suddenly
filled with tears. 'Only think: her youth, her inexperience. . . and
who knows, perhaps, bad example; she had not a mother who could bring
her up in the right way. Forgive her, Fedor Ivanitch, she has been
The tears were trickling down Marya Dmitrievna's cheeks: she did
not wipe them away; she was fond of weeping. Lavretsky sat as if on
thorns. 'Good God,' he thought, 'what torture, what a day I have had
'You make no reply,' Marya Dmitrievna began again. 'How am I to
understand you? Can you really be so cruel? No, I will not believe it.
I feel that my words have influenced you, Fedor Ivanitch. God reward
you for your goodness, and now receive your wife from my hands.'
Involuntarily Lavretsky jumped up from his chair; Marya Dmitrievna
also rose and running quickly behind a screen, she led forth Varvara
Pavlovna. Pale, almost lifeless, with downcast eyes, she seemed to have
renounced all thought, all will of her own, and to have surrendered
herself completely to Marya Dmitrievna.
Lavretsky stepped back a pace.
"You have been here all the time!' he cried.
'Do not blame her,' explained Marya Dmitrievna; 'she was most
unwilling to stay, but I forced her to remain. I put her behind the
screen. She assured me that this would only anger you more; I would not
even listen to her; I know you better than she does. Take your wife
back from my hands; come, Varya, do not fear, fall at your husband's
feet (she gave a pull at her arm) and my blessing' . . .
'Stop a minute, Marya Dmitrievna,' said Lavretsky in a low but
startlingly impressive voice. 'I dare say you are fond of affecting
scenes' (Lavretsky was right, Marya Dmitrievna still retained her
school-girl's passion for a little melodramatic effect), 'they amuse
you; but they may be anything but pleasant for other people. But I am
not going to talk to you; in this scene you are not the principal
character. What do you want to get out of me, madam?' he added, turning
to his wife. 'Haven't I done all I could for you? Don't tell me you did
not contrive this interview; I shall not believe you-and you know that
I cannot possibly believe you. What is it you want? You are clever-you
do nothing without an object. You must realise, that as for living with
you, as I once lived with you, that I cannot do; not because I am angry
with you, but because I have become a different man. I told you so the
day after your return, and you yourself, at that moment, agreed with me
in your heart. But you want to reinstate yourself in public opinion; it
is not enough for you to live in my house, you want to live with me
under the same roof-isn't that it?'
'I want your forgiveness,' pronounced Varvara Pavlovna, not raising
'She wants your forgiveness,' repeated Marya Dmitrievna.
'And not for my own sake, but for Ada's,' murmured Varvara
'And not for her own sake, but for your Ada's,' repeated Marya
'Very good. Is that what you want?' Lavretsky uttered with an
effort. 'Certainly, I consent to that too.'
Varvara Pavlovna darted a swift glance at him, but Marya Dmitrievna
cried: 'There, God be thanked!' and again drew Varvara Pavlovna forward
by the arm. 'Take her now from my arms--'
'Stop a minute, I tell you,' Lavretsky interrupted her, 'I agree to
live with you, Varvara Pavlovna,' he continued, 'that is to say, I will
conduct you to Lavriky, and I will live there with you, as long as I
can endure it, and then I will go away-and will come back again. You
see, I do not want to deceive you; but do not demand anything more. You
would laugh yourself if I were to carry out the desire of our respected
cousin, were to press you to my breast, and to fall to assuring you
that. . . that the past had not been; and the felled tree can bud
again. But I see, I must submit. You will not understand these words. .
. but that's no matter. I repeat, I will live with you. . . or no, I
cannot promise that . . . I will be reconciled with you, I will regard
you as my wife again.'
'Give her, at least, your hand on it,' observed Marya Dmitrievna,
whose tears had long since dried up.
'I have never deceived Varvara Pavlovna hitherto,' returned
Lavretsky; 'she will believe me without that. I will take her to
Lavriky; and remember, Varvara Pavlovna, our treaty is to be reckoned
as broken directly you go away from Lavriky. And now allow me to take
He bowed to both the ladies, and hurriedly went away.
'Are you not going to take her with you!' Marya Dmitrievna cried
after him . . . 'Leave him alone,' Varvara Pavlovna whispered to her.
And at once she embraced her, and began thanking her, kissing her hands
and calling her her saviour.
Marya Dmitrievna received her caresses indulgently; but at heart
she was discontented with Lavretsky, with Varvara Pavlovna, and with
the whole scene she had prepared. Very little sentimentality had come
of it; Varvara Pavlovna, in her opinion, ought to have flung herself at
her husband's feet.
'How was it you didn't understand me?' she commented: 'I kept
'It is better as it was, dear auntie; do not be uneasy-it was all
for the best,' Varvara Pavlovna assured her.
'Well, any way, he's as cold as ice,' observed Marya Dmitrievna.
'You didn't weep, it is true, but I was in floods of tears before his
eyes. He wants to shut you up at Lavriky. Why, won't you even be able
to come and see me? All men are unfeeling,' she concluded, with a
significant shake of the head.
'But then women can appreciate goodness and noble-heartedness,'
said Varvara pavlovna, and gently dropping on her knees before Marya
Dmitrievna, she flung her arms about her round person, and pressed her
face against it. That face wore a sly smile, but Marya Dmitrievna's
tears began to flow again.
When Lavretsky returned home, he locked himself in his valet's
room, and flung himself on a sofa; he lay like that till morning.
THE FOLLOWING day was Sunday. The sound of bells ringing for early
mass did not wake Lavretsky-he had not closed his eyes all night-but it
reminded him of another Sunday, when at Lisa's desire he had gone to
church. He got up hastily; some secret voice told him that he would see
her there to-day. He went noiselessly out of the house, leaving a
message for Varvara Pavlovna that he would be back to dinner, and with
long strides he made his way in the direction in which the monotonously
mournful bells were calling him. He arrived early; there was scarcely
any one in the church; a deacon was reading the service in the chair;
the measured drone of his voice-sometimes broken by a cough-fell and
rose at even intervals. Lavretsky placed himself not far from the
entrance. Worshippers came in one by one, stopped, crossed themselves,
and bowed in all directions; their steps rang out in the empty, silent
church, echoing back distinctly under the arched roof. An infirm poor
little old woman in a worn-out cloak with a hood was on her knees near
Lavretsky, praying assiduously; her toothless, yellow, wrinkled face
expressed intense emotion; her red eyes were gazing fixedly upwards at
the holy figures on the iconostasis; her bony hand was constantly
coming out from under her cloak, and slowly and earnestly making a
great sign of the cross. A peasant with a bushy beard and a surly face,
disheveled and unkempt, came into the church, and at once fell on both
knees, and began directly crossing himself in haste, bending back his
head with a shake after each prostration. Such bitter grief was
expressed in his face, and in all his actions, that Lavretsky made up
his mind to go up to him and ask him what was wrong. The peasant
timidly and morosely started back, looked at him.. . . 'My son is
dead,' he articulated quickly, and again fell to bowing to the earth.
'What could replace the consolations of the Church to them?' thought
Lavretsky; and he tried himself to pray, but his heart was hard and
heavy, and his thoughts were far away. He kept expecting Lisa, but Lisa
did not come. The church began to be full of people; but still she was
not there. The service commenced, the deacon had already read the
gospel, they began ringing for the last prayer; Lavretsky moved a
little forward-and suddenly caught sight of Lisa. She had come before
him, but he had not seen her; she was hidden in a recess between the
wall and the choir, and neither moved nor looked round. Lavretsky did
not take his eyes off her till the very end of the service; he was
saying farewell to her. The people began to disperse, but she still
remained; it seemed as though she were waiting for Lavretsky to go out.
At last she crossed herself for the last time and went out-there was
only a maid with her-not turning round. Lavretsky went out of the
church after her and overtook her in the street; she was walking very
quickly, with downcast head, and a veil over her face.
'Good morning, Lisaveta Mihalovna,' he said aloud with assumed
carelessness: 'may I accompany you?'
She made no reply; he walked beside her.
'Are you content with me?' he asked her, dropping his voice. 'Have
you heard what happened yesterday?'
'Yes, yes,' she replied in a whisper, 'that was well.' And she went
still more quickly.
'Are you content?'
Lisa only bent her head in assent.
'Fedor Ivanitch,' she began in a calm but faint voice, 'I wanted to
beg you not to come to see us any more; go away as soon as possible, we
may see each other again later-sometime-in a year. But now, do this for
my sake; fulfil my request, for God's sake.'
'I am ready to obey you in everything, Lisaveta Mihalovna; but are
we really to part like this? will you not say one word to me?'
'Fedor Ivanitch, you are walking near me now.. . . But already you
are so far from me. And not only you, but--'
'Speak out, I entreat you!' cried Lavretsky, 'what do you mean?'
'You will hear, perhaps . . . but whatever it may be, forget . . .
no, do not forget; remember me.'
'Me forget you--'
'That's enough, good-bye. Do not come after me.'
'Lisa!' Lavretsky was beginning.
'Good-bye, good-bye!' she repeated, pulling her veil still lower
and almost running forward. Lavretsky looked after her, and with bowed
head, turned back along the street. He stumbled up against Lemm, who
was also walking along with his eyes on the ground, and his hat pulled
down to his nose.
They looked at one another without speaking.
'Well, what have you to say?' Lavretsky brought out at last.
'What have I to say?' returned Lemm, grimly. 'I have nothing to
say. All is dead, and we are dead (Alles ist todt, und wir sind todt).
So you're going to the right, are you?'
'And I go to the left. Good-bye.'
The following morning Fedor Ivanitch set off with his wife for
Lavriky. She drove in front in the carriage with Ada and Justine; he
behind, in the coach. The pretty little girl did not move away from the
window the whole journey; she was astonished at everything: the
peasants, the women, the wells, the yokes over the horses' heads, the
bells and the flocks of crows. Justine shared her wonder. Varvara
Pavlovna laughed at their remarks and exclamations. She was in
excellent spirits; before leaving town, she had come to an explanation
with her husband.
'I understand your position,' she said to him, and from the look in
her subtle eyes, he was able to infer that she understood his position
fully, 'but you must do me, at least, this justice, that I am easy to
live with; I will not fetter you or hinder you: I wanted to secure
Ada's future, I want nothing more.'
'Well, you have obtained your object,' observed Fedor Ivanitch.
'I only dream of one thing now: to hide myself for ever in
obscurity. I shall remember your goodness always.'
'Enough of that,' he interrupted.
'And I shall know how to respect your independence and
tranquillity,' she went on, completing the phrases she had prepared.
Lavretsky made her a low bow. Varvara Pavlovna then believed her
husband was thanking her in his heart.
On the evening of the next day they reached Lavriky; a week later,
Lavretsky set off for Moscow, leaving his wife five thousand roubles
for her household expenses; and the day after Lavretsky's departure,
Panshin made his appearance. Varvara Pavlovna had begged him not to
forget her in her solitude. She gave him the best possible reception,
and, till a late hour of the night, the lofty apartments of the house
and even the garden re-echoed with the sound of music, singing, and
lively French talk. For three days Varvara Pavlovna entertained
Panshin; when he took leave of her, warmly pressing her lovely hands,
he promised to come back very soon-and he kept his word.
LISA had a room to herself on the second story of her mother's
house, a clean bright little room with a little white bed, with pots of
flowers in the corners and before the windows, a small writing-table, a
book-stand, and a crucifix on the wall. It was always called the
nursery; Lisa had been born in it. When she returned from the church
where she had seen Lavretsky she set everything in her room in order
more carefully than usual, dusted it everywhere, looked through and
tied up with ribbon all her copybooks, and the letters of her
girl-friends, shut up all the drawers, watered the flowers and caressed
every blossom with her hand. All this she did without haste,
noiselessly, with a kind of rapt and gentle solicitude on her face. She
stopped at last in the middle of the room, slowly looked around, and
going up to the table above which the crucifix was hanging, she fell on
her knees, dropped her head on to her clasped hands and remained
Marfa Timofyevna came in and found her in this position. Lisa did
not observe her entrance. The old lady stepped out on tip-toe and
coughed loudly several times outside the door. Lisa rose quickly and
wiped her eyes, which were bright with unshed tears.
'Ah! I see, you have been setting your cell to rights again,'
observed Marfa Timofyevna, and she bent low over a young rose-tree in a
pot; 'how nice it smells!'
Lisa looked thoughtfully at her aunt.
'How strange you should use that word!' she murmured.
'What word, eh?' the old lady returned quickly. 'What do you mean?
This is horrible,' she began, suddenly flinging off her cap and sitting
down on Lisa's little bed: 'it is more than I can bear! this is the
fourth day now that I have been boiling over inside; I can't pretend
not to notice any longer; I can't see you getting pale, and fading
away, and weeping, I can't, I can't!'
'Why, what is the matter, auntie?' said Lisa, 'it's nothing.
'Nothing!' cried Marfa Timofyevna; 'you may tell that to others but
not to me. Nothing, who was on her knees just this minute? and whose
eyelashes are still wet with tears? Nothing, indeed! why, look at
yourself, what have you done with your face, what has become of your
eyes?-Nothing! do you suppose I don't know all?
'It will pass off, auntie; give me time.'
'It will pass off, but when? Good God! Merciful Saviour! can you
have loved him like this? why, he's an old man, Lisa, darling. There, I
don't dispute he's a good fellow, no harm in him; but what of that? we
are all good people, the world is not so small, there will be always
plenty of that commodity.'
'I tell you, it will all pass away, it has all passed away
'Listen, Lisa, darling, what I am going to say to you,' Marfa
Timofyevna said suddenly, making Lisa sit beside her, and straightening
her hair and her neckerchief. 'It seems to you now in the midst of the
worst of it that nothing can ever heal your sorrow. Ah, my darling, the
only thing that can't be cured is death. You only say to yourself now:
"I won't give in to it-so there!" and you will be surprised yourself
how soon, how easily it will pass off. Only have patience.'
'Auntie,' returned Lisa, 'it has passed off already, it is all
'Passed! how has it passed? Why, your poor little nose has grown
sharp already and you say it is over. A fine way of getting over it!'
'Yes, it is over, auntie, if you will only try to help me,' Lisa
declared with sudden animation, and she flung herself on Marfa
Timofyevna's neck. 'Dear auntie, be a friend to me, help me, don't be
angry, understand me' . . .
'Why, what is it, what is it, my good girl? Don't terrify me,
please; I shall scream directly; don't look at me like that; tell me
quickly what is it?'
'I-I want,' Lisa hid her face on Marfa Timofyevna's bosom, 'I want
to go into a convent,' she articulated faintly.
The old lady almost bounded off the bed.
'Cross yourself, my girl, Lisa, dear, think what you are saying;
what are you thinking of? God have mercy on you!' she stammered at
last. 'Lie down, my darling, sleep a little, all this comes from
sleeplessness, my dearie.'
Lisa raised her head, her cheeks were glowing.
'No, auntie,' she said, 'don't speak like that; I have made up my
mind, I prayed, I asked counsel of God; all is at an end, my life with
you is at an end. Such a lesson was not for nothing; and it is not the
first time that I have thought of it. Happiness was not for me; even
when I had hopes of happiness, my heart was always heavy. I knew all my
own sins and those of others, and how papa made our fortune; I know it
all. For all that there must be expiation. I am sorry for you, sorry
for mamma, for Lenotchka; but there is no help; I feel that there is no
living here for me; I have taken leave of all, I have greeted
everything in the house for the last time; something calls to me; I am
sick at heart, I want to hide myself away for ever. Do not hinder me,
do not dissuade me, help me, or else I must go away alone.'
Marfa Timofyevna listened to her niece with horror.
'She is ill, she is raving,' she thought: 'we must send for a
doctor; but for which one? Gedeonovsky was praising one the other day;
he always tells lies-but perhaps this time he spoke the truth.' But
when she was convinced that Lisa was not ill, and was not raving, when
she constantly made the same answer to all her expostulations, Marfa
Timofyevna was alarmed and distressed in earnest. 'But you don't know,
my darling,' she began to reason with her, 'what a life it is in those
convents! Why, they would feed you, my own, on green hemp oil, and they
would put you in the coarsest coarsest linen, and make you go about in
the cold; you will never be able to bear all that, Lisa, darling. All
this is Agafya's doing; she led you astray. But then you know she began
by living and lived for her own pleasure; you must live too. At least,
let me die in peace, and then do as you like. And who has ever heard of
such a thing, for the sake of such a-for the sake of a goat's beard,
God forgive us!-for the sake of a man-to go into a convent! Why, if you
are so sick at heart, go on a pilgrimage, offer prayers to some saint,
have a Te Deum sung, but don't put the black hood on your head, my dear
creature, my good girl.'
And Marfa Timofyevna wept bitterly.
Lisa comforted her, wiped away her tears and wept herself, but
remained unshaken. In her despair Marfa Timofyevna had recourse to
threats: to tell her mother all about it . . . but that too was of no
avail. Only at the old lady's most earnest entreaties Lisa agreed to
put off carrying out her plan for six months. Marfa Timofyevna was
obliged to promise in return that if, within six months, she did not
change her mind, she would herself help her and would do all she could
to gain Marya Dmitrievna's consent.
In spite of her promise to bury herself in seclusion, at the first
approach of cold weather, Varvara Pavlovna, having provided herself
with funds, removed to Petersburg, where she took a modest but charming
set of apartments, found for her by Panshin, who had left the O--
district a little before. During the latter part of his residence in
O-- he had completely lost Marya Dmitrievna's good graces; he had
suddenly given up visiting her and scarcely stirred from Lavriky.
Varvara Pavlovna had enslaved him, literally enslaved him, no other
word can describe her boundless, irresistible, unquestioned sway over
Lavretsky spent the winter in Moscow; and in the spring of the
following year the news reached him that Lisa had taken the veil in the
B-- convent, in one of the remote parts of Russia.
EIGHT years had passed by. Once more the spring had come.. . . But
we will say a few words first of the fate of Mihalevitch, Panshin, and
Madame Lavretsky-and then take leave of them. Mihalevitch, after long
wanderings, has at last fallen in with exactly the right work for him;
he has received the position of senior superintendent of a government
school. He is very well content with his lot; his pupils adore him,
though they mimick him too. Panshin has gained great advancement in
rank, and already has a directorship in view; he walks with a slight
stoop, caused doubtless by the weight round his neck of the Vladimir
cross which has been conferred on him. The official in him has finally
gained the ascendency over the artist; his still youngish face has
grown yellow, and his hair scanty; he now neither sings nor sketches,
but applies himself in secret to literature; he has written a comedy,
in the style of a 'proverb,' and as nowadays all writers have to draw a
portrait of some one or something, he has drawn in it the portrait of a
coquette, and he reads it privately to two or three ladies who look
kindly upon him. He has, however, not entered upon matrimony, though
many excellent opportunities of doing so have presented themselves. For
this Varvara Pavlovna was responsible. As for her, she lives constantly
at Paris, as in former days. Fedor Ivanitch has given her a promissory
note for a large sum, and has so secured immunity from the possibility
of her making a second sudden descent upon him. She has grown older and
stouter, but is still charming and elegant. Every one has his ideal.
Varvara Pavlovna found hers in the dramatic works of M. Dumas Fils. She
diligently frequents the theatres, when consumptive and sentimental
'dames aux camélias' are brought on the stage; to be Madame Doche seems
to her the height of human bliss; she once declared that she did not
desire a better fate for her own daughter. It is to be hoped that fate
will spare Mademoiselle Ada from such happiness; from a rosy-cheeked,
chubby child she has turned into a weak-chested, pale girl; her nerves
are already deranged. The number of Varvara Pavlovna's adorers has
diminished, but she still has some; a few she will probably retain to
the end of her days. The most ardent of them in these later days is a
certain Zakurdalo-Skubirnikov, a retired guardsman, a full-bearded man
of thirty-eight, of exceptionally vigorous physique. The French
habitués of Madame Lavretsky's salon call him "le gros taureau de
l'Ukrine;' Varvara Pavlovna never invites him to her fashionable
evening reunions, but he is in the fullest enjoyment of her favours.
And so-eight years have passed by. Once more the breezes of spring
breathed brightness and rejoicing from the heavens; once more spring
was smiling upon the earth and upon men; once more under her caresses
everything was turning to blossom, to love, to song. The town of O--
had undergone little change in the course of these eight years; but
Marfa Dmitrievna's house seemed to have grown younger; its
freshly-painted walls gave a bright welcome, and the panes of its open
windows were crimson, shining in the setting sun; from these windows
the light merry sound of ringing young voices and continual laughter
floated into the street; the whole house seemed astir with life and
brimming over with gaiety. The lady of the house herself had long been
in her tomb; Marya Dmitrievna had died two years after Lisa took the
veil, and Marfa Timofyevna had not long survived her niece; they lay
side by side in the cemetery of the town. Nastasya Karpovna too was no
more; for several years the faithful old woman had gone every week to
say a prayer over her friend's ashes.. . . Her time had come, and now
her bones too lay in the damp earth. But Marya Dmitrievna's house had
not passed into strangers' hands, it had not gone out of her family,
the home had not been broken up. Lenotchka, transformed into a slim,
beautiful young girl, and her betrothed lover-a fair-haired officer of
hussars; Marya Dmitrievna's son, who had just been married in
Petersburg and had come with his young wife for the spring to O--; his
wife's sister, a school-girl of sixteen, with glowing cheeks and bright
eyes; Shurotchka, grown up and also pretty, made up the youthful
household, whose laughter and talk set the walls of the Kalitins' house
resounding. Everything in the house was changed, everything was in
keeping with its new inhabitants. Beardless servant lads, grinning and
full of fun, had replaced the sober old servants of former days. Two
setter dogs dashed wildly about and gambolled over the sofas, where the
fat Roska had at one time waddled in solemn dignity. The stables were
filled with slender racers, spirited carriage horses, fiery out-riders
with plaited manes, and riding horses from the Don. The breakfast,
dinner, and supper-hours were all in confusion and disorder; in the
words of the neighbours, 'unheard-of arrangements' were made.
On the evening of which we are speaking, the inhabitants of the
Kalitins' house (the eldest of them, Lenotchka's betrothed, was only
twenty-four) were engaged in a game, which, though not of a very
complicated nature, was, to judge from their merry laughter,
exceedingly entertaining to them; they were running about the rooms,
chasing one another; the dogs, too, were running and barking, and the
canaries, hanging in cages above the windows, were straining their
throats in rivalry and adding to the general uproar by the shrill
trilling of their piercing notes. At the very height of this deafening
merry-making a mud-bespattered carriage stopped at the gate, and a man
of five-and-forty, in a travelling dress, stepped out of it and stood
still in amazement. He stood a little time without stirring, watching
the house with attentive eyes; then went through the little gate in the
courtyard, and slowly mounted the steps. In the hall he met no one; but
the door of a room was suddenly flung open, and out of it rushed
Shurotchka, flushed and hot, and instantly, with a ringing shout, all
the young party in pursuit of her. They stopped short at once and were
quiet at the sight of a stranger; but their clear eyes fixed on him
wore the same friendly expression, and their fresh faces were still
smiling as Marya Dmitrievna's son went up to the visitor and asked him
cordially what he could do for him.
'I am Lavretsky,' replied the visitor.
He was answered by a shout in chorus-and not because these young
people were greatly delighted at the arrival of a distant, almost
forgotten relation, but simply because they were ready to be delighted
and make a noise at every opportunity. They surrounded Lavretsky at
once; Lenotchka, as an old acquaintance, was the first to mention her
own name, and assured him that in a little while she would have
certainly recognised him. She presented him to the rest of the party,
calling each, even her betrothed, by their pet names. They all trooped
through the dining-room into the drawingroom. The walls of both rooms
had been repapered; but the furniture remained the same. Lavretsky
recognised the piano; even the embroidery-frame in the window was just
the same, and in the same position, and it seemed with the same
unfinished embroidery on it, as eight years ago. They made him sit down
in a comfortable arm-chair; all sat down politely in a circle round
him. Questions, exclamations, and anecdotes followed.
'It's a long time since we have seen you,' observed Lenotchka
simply, 'and Varvara Pavlovna we have seen nothing of either.'
'Well, no wonder!' her brother hastened to interpose. 'I carried
you off to Petersburg, and Fedor Ivanitch has been living all the time
in the country.'
'Yes, and mamma died soon after then.'
'And Marfa Timofyevna,' observed Shurotchka.
'And Nastasya Karpovna,' added Lenotchka, 'and Monsieur Lemm.'
'What? is Lemm dead?' inquired Lavretsky.
'Yes,' replied young Kalitin, 'he left here for Odessa; they say
some one enticed him there; and there he died.'
'You don't happen to know, . . . did he leave any music?'
'I don't know; not very likely.'
All were silent and looked about them. A slight cloud of melancholy
flitted over all the young faces.
'But Matross is alive,' said Lenotchka suddenly.
'And Gedeonovsky,' added her brother.
At Gedeonovsky's name a merry laugh broke out at once.
'Yes, he is alive, and as great a liar as ever,' Marya Dmitrievna's
son continued; 'and only fancy, yesterday this madcap'-pointing to the
school-girl, his wife's sister-'put some pepper in his snuff-box.'
'How he did sneeze!' cried Lenotchka, and again there was a burst
of unrestrained laughter.
'We have had news of Lisa lately,' observed young Kalitin, and
again a hush fell upon all; 'there was good news of her; she is
recovering her health a little now.'
'She is still in the same convent?' Lavretsky asked, not without
'Yes, still in the same.'
'Does she write to you?'
'No, never; but we get news through other people.'
A sudden and profound silence followed. 'A good angel is passing
over,' all were thinking.
'Wouldn't you like to go into the garden?' said Kalitin, turning to
Lavretsky; 'it is very nice now, though we have let it run wild a
Lavretsky went out into the garden, and the first thing that met
his eyes was the very garden seat on which he had once spent with Lisa
those few blissful moments, never repeated; it had grown black and
warped; but he recognised it, and his soul was filled with that
emotion, unequalled for sweetness and for bitterness-the emotion of
keen sorrow for vanished youth, for the happiness which has once been
He walked along the avenues with the young people; the lime-trees
looked hardly older or taller in the eight years, but their shade was
thicker; on the other hand, all the bushes had sprung up, the raspberry
bushes had grown strong, the hazels were tangled thicket, and from all
sides rose the fresh scent of the trees and grass and lilac.
'This would be a nice place for Puss-in-the-Corner,' cried
Lenotchka suddenly, as they came upon a small green lawn, surrounded by
lime-trees, 'and we are just five, too.'
'Have you forgotten Fedor Ivanitch?' replied her brother, . . . 'or
didn't you count yourself?'
Lenotchka blushed slightly.
'But would Fedor Ivanitch, at his age--' she began.
'Please, play your games,' Lavretsky hastened to interpose; 'don't
pay attention to me. I shall be happier myself, when I am sure I am not
in your way. And there's no need for you to entertain me; we old
fellows have an occupation which you know nothing of yet, and which no
amusement can replace-our memories.'
The young people listened to Lavretsky with polite, but rather
ironical respect-as though a teacher were giving them a lesson-and
suddenly they all dispersed, and ran to the lawn; four stood near
trees, one in the middle, and the game began.
And Lavretsky went back into the house, went into the dining-room,
drew near the piano and touched one of the keys; it gave out a faint
but clear sound; on that note had begun the inspired melody with which
long ago on that same happy night Lemm, the dead Lemm, had thrown him
into such transports. Then Lavretsky went into the drawing-room, and
for a long time he did not leave it; in that room where he had so often
seen Lisa, her image rose most vividly before him; he seemed to feel
the traces of her presence round him; but his grief for her was
crushing, not easy to bear; it had none of the peace which comes with
death. Lisa still lived somewhere, hidden and afar; he thought of her
as of the living, but he did not recognise the girl he had once loved
in that dim pale shadow, cloaked in a nun's dress and encircled in
misty clouds of incense. Lavretsky would not have recognised himself,
could he have looked at himself, as mentally he looked at Lisa. In the
course of these eight years he had passed that turning-point in life,
which many never pass, but without which no one can be a good man to
the end; he had really ceased to think of his own happiness, of his
personal aims. He had grown calm, and-why hide the truth?-he had grown
old not only in face and in body, he had grown old in heart; to keep a
young heart up to old age, as some say, is not only difficult, but
almost ridiculous; he may well be content who has not lost his belief
in goodness, his steadfast will, and his zeal for work. Lavretsky had
good reason to be content; he had become actually an excellent farmer,
he had really learnt to cultivate the land, and his labours were not
only for himself; he had, to the best of his powers, secured on a firm
basis the welfare of his peasants.
Lavretsky went out of the house into the garden, and sat down on
the familiar garden seat. And on this loved spot, facing the house
where for the last time he had vainly stretched out his hand for the
enchanted cup which frothed and sparkled with the golden wine of
delight, he, a solitary homeless wanderer, looked back upon his life,
while the joyous shouts of the younger generation who were already
filling his place floated across the garden to him. His heart was sad,
but not weighed down, nor bitter; much there was to regret, nothing to
be ashamed of.
'Play away, be gay, grow strong, vigorous youth!' he thought, and
there was no bitterness in his meditations; 'your life is before you,
and for you life will be easier; you have not, as we had, to find out a
path for yourselves, to struggle, to fall, and to rise again in the
dark; we had enough to do to last out-and how many of us did not last
out?-but you need only do your duty, work away, and the blessing of an
old man be with you. For me, after to-day, after these emotions, there
remains to take my leave at last,-and though sadly, without envy,
without any dark feelings, to say, in sight of the end, in sight of God
who awaits me: "Welcome, lonely old age! burn out, useless life!"'
Lavretsky quietly rose and quietly went away; no one noticed him,
no one detained him; the joyous cries sounded more loudly in the garden
behind the thick green wall of high lime-trees. He took his seat in the
carriage and bade the coachman drive home and not hurry the horses.
'And the end?' perhaps the dissatisfied reader will inquire. 'What
became of Lavretsky afterwards, and of Lisa?' But what is there to tell
of people who, though still alive, have withdrawn from the battlefield
of life? They say, Lavretsky visited that remote convent where Lisa had
hidden herself-that he saw her. Crossing over from choir to choir, she
walked close past him, moving with the even, hurried, but meek walk of
a nun; and she did not glance at him; only the eyelashes on the side
towards him quivered a little, only she bent her emaciated face lower,
and the fingers of her clasped hands, entwined with her rosary, were
pressed still closer to one another. What were they both thinking, what
were they feeling? Who can know? who can say? There are such moments in
life, there are such feelings . . . One can but point to them-and pass