Part 3 out of 5
"Cynic," said Lavretsky, correcting him.
"Just so, cyneec," repeated the undisconcerted Mikhalevich.
Even when he had taken his seat in the tarantass, in which his flat
and marvellously light portmanteau had been stowed away, he still
went on talking. Enveloped in a kind of Spanish cloak, with a collar
reddened by long use, and with lion's claws instead of hooks, he
continued to pour forth his opinions on the destinies of Russia,
waving his swarthy hand the while in the air, as if he were sowing the
seeds of future prosperity. At last the horses set off.
"Remember my last three words!" he exclaimed, leaning almost entirely
out of the carriage, and scarcely able to keep his balance. "Religion,
Progress, Humanity! Farewell!" His head, on which his forage cap was
pressed down to his eyes, disappeared from sight. Lavretsky was left
alone at the door, where he remained gazing attentively along the
road, until the carriage was out of sight. "And perhaps he is right,"
he thought, as he went back into the house. "Perhaps I am a marmot."
Much of what Mikhalevich had said had succeeded in winning its way
into his heart, although at the time he had contradicted him and
disagreed with him. Let a man only be perfectly honest--no one can
utterly gainsay him.
Two days later, Maria Dmitrievna arrived at Vasilievskoe, according
to her promise, and all her young people with her. The little girls
immediately ran into the garden, but Maria Dmitrievna languidly walked
through the house, and languidly praised all she saw. She looked upon
her visit to Lavretsky as a mark of great condescension, almost a
benevolent action. She smiled affably when Anton and Apraxia came to
kiss her hand, according to the old custom of household serfs, and in
feeble accents she asked for tea.
To the great vexation of Anton, who had donned a pair of knitted white
gloves, it was not he who handed the tea to the lady visitor, but
Lavretsky's hired lackey, a fellow who, in the old man's opinion, had
not a notion of etiquette. However, Anton had it all his own way
at dinner. With firm step, he took up his position behind Madame
Kalitine's chair, and he refused to give up his post to any one. The
apparition of visitors at Vasilievskoe--a sight for so many years
unknown there--both troubled and cheered the old man. It was a
pleasure for him to see that his master was acquainted with persons of
some standing in society.
Anton was not the only person who was agitated that day. Lemm was
excited too. He had put on a shortish snuff-colored coat with pointed
tails, and had tied his cravat tight, he coughed incessantly, and made
way for every one with kindly and affable mien. As for Lavretsky,
he remarked with satisfaction that he remained on the same friendly
footing with Liza as before. As soon as she arrived she cordially held
out her hand to him.
After dinner, Lemm took a small roll of music-paper out of the
tail-pocket of his coat, into which he had been constantly putting his
hand, and silently, with compressed lips, placed it upon the piano.
It contained a romance, which he had written the day before to some
old-fashioned German words, in which mention was made of the stars.
Liza immediately sat down to the piano, and interpreted the romance.
Unfortunately the music turned out to be confused and unpleasantly
constrained. It was evident that the composer had attempted to express
some deep and passionate idea, but no result had been attained. The
attempt remained an attempt, and nothing more. Both Lavretsky and Liza
felt this, and Lemm was conscious of it too. Without saying a word, he
put his romance back into his pocket; and, in reply to Liza's proposal
to play it over again, he merely shook his head, and said, in a tone
of meaning, "For the present--_basta_!" then bent his head, stooped
his shoulders, and left the room.
Towards evening they all went out together to fish. In the little lake
at the end of the garden there were numbers of carp and groundling.
Madame Kalitine had an arm-chair set in the shade for her, near the
edge of the water, and a carpet was spread out under her feet. Anton,
as an old fisherman of great experience, offered her his services.
Zealously did he fasten on the worms, slap them with his hand, and
spit upon them, and then fling the line into the water himself,
gracefully bending forwards the whole of his body. Maria Dmitrievna
had already that day spoken about him to Fedor Ivanovich, using the
following phrase of Institute-French:--"_Il n'y a plus maintenant de
ces gens comme ca autre fois_."
Lemm and the two little girls went on to the dam at the end of the
lake. Lavretsky placed himself near Liza. The fish kept continually
nibbling. Every minute a captured carp glistened in the air with its
sometimes golden, sometimes silver, sides. The little girls kept up a
ceaseless flow of joyful exclamations. Madame Kalitine herself two or
three times uttered a plaintive cry. Lavretsky and Liza caught fewer
fish than the others; probably because they paid less attention to
their fishing, and let their floats drift up against the edge of the
lake. The tall, reddish reeds murmured quietly around them; in front
quietly shone the unruffled water, and the conversation they carried
on was quiet too.
Liza stood on the little platform [placed there for the use of the
washerwomen;] Lavretsky sat on the bent stem of a willow. Liza wore a
white dress, fastened round the waist by a broad, white ribbon. From
one hand hung her straw hat; with the other she, not without some
effort, supported her drooping fishing-rod. Lavretsky gazed at her
pure, somewhat severe profile--at the hair turned back behind her
ears--at her soft cheeks, the hue of which was like that of a young
child's--and thought: "How charming you look, standing there by my
lake!" Liza did not look at him, but kept her eyes fixed on the water,
something which might be a smile lurking about their corners. Over
both Lavretsky and Liza fell the shadow of a neighboring lime-tree.
"Do you know," he began, "I have thought a great deal about our
last conversation, and I have come to this conclusion, that you are
"It certainly was not with that intention that I--" replied Liza, and
became greatly confused.
"You are exceedingly good," repeated Lavretsky. "I am a rough-hewn
man; but I feel that every one must love you. There is Lemm, for
instance: he's simply in love with you."
Liza's eyebrows did not exactly frown, but they quivered. This always
happened with her when she heard anything she did not like.
"I felt very sorry for him to-day, with his unsuccessful romance,"
continued Lavretsky. "To be young and to want knowledge--that is
bearable. But to have grown old and to fail in strength--that is
indeed heavy. And the worst of it is, that one doesn't know when one's
strength has failed. To an old man such blows are hard to bear. Take
care! you've a bite--I hear," continued Lavretsky, after a short
pause, "That M. Panshine has written a very charming romance."
"Yes," replied Liza, "it is a small matter; but it isn't bad."
"But what is your opinion about him himself?" asked Lavretsky. "Is he
a good musician?"
"I think he has considerable musical faculty. But as yet he has not
cultivated it as he ought."
"Just so. But is he a good man?"
Liza laughed aloud, and looked up quickly at Fedor Ivanovich.
"What a strange question!" she exclaimed, withdrawing her line from
the water, and then throwing it a long way in again.
"Why strange? I ask you about him as one who has been away from here a
long time--as a relation."
"As a relation?"
"Yes. I believe I am a sort of uncle of yours."
"Vladimir Nikolaevich has a good heart," said Liza. "He is clever.
Mamma likes him very much."
"But you--do you like him?"
"He is a good man. Why shouldn't I like him?"
"Ah!" said Lavretsky, and became silent. A half-sad, half-mocking
expression played upon his face. The fixed look with which he regarded
her troubled Liza; but she went on smiling.
"Well, may God grant them happiness!" he murmured at last, as if to
himself, and turned away his head.
"You are wrong, Fedor Ivanovich," she said; "you are wrong in
thinking--But don't you like Vladimir Ivanovich?" she asked suddenly.
"I think he has no heart."
The smile disappeared from Liza's lips.
"You are accustomed to judge people severely," she said, after a long
"I don't think so. What right have I to judge others severely, I
should like to know, when I stand in need of indulgence myself? Or
have you forgotten that it is only lazy people who do not mock me? But
tell me," he added, "have you kept your promise?"
"Have you prayed for me?"
"Yes, I prayed for you; and I pray every day. But please do not talk
lightly about that."
Lavretsky began to assure Liza that he had never dreamt of doing
so--that he profoundly respected all convictions. After that he took
to talking about religion, about its significance in the history of
humanity, of the meaning of Christianity.
"One must be a Christian," said Liza, not without an effort, "not in
order to recognize what is heavenly, or what is earthly, but because
every one must die."
With an involuntary movement of surprise, Lavretsky raised his eyes to
Liza's, and met her glance.
"What does that phrase of yours mean?" he said.
"It is not my phrase," she replied.
"Not yours? But why did you speak about death?"
"I don't know. I often think about it."
"One wouldn't say so, looking at you now. Your face seems so happy, so
bright, and you smile--"
"Yes. I feel very happy now," replied Liza simply.
Lavretsky felt inclined to seize both her hands and press them warmly.
"Liza, Liza!" cried Madame Kalitine, "come here and see what a carp I
"Yes, mamma," answered Liza, and went to her.
But Lavretsky remained sitting on his willow stem.
"I talk to her just as if I still had an interest in life," he
Liza had hung up her hat on a bough when she went away. It was with a
strange and almost tender feeling that Lavretsky looked at the hat,
and at its long, slightly rumpled ribbons.
Liza soon came back again and took up her former position on the
"Why do you think that Vladimir Nikolaevich has no heart?" she asked,
a few minutes afterwards.
"I have already told you that I may be mistaken. However, time will
Liza became contemplative. Lavretsky began to talk about his mode
of life al Vasilievskoe, about Mikhalevich, about Anton. He felt
compelled to talk to Liza, to communicate to her all that went on in
his heart. And she listened to him so attentively, with such kindly
interest; the few remarks and answers she made appeared to him so
sensible and so natural. He even told her so.
Liza was astonished. "Really?" she said. "As for me, I thought I was
like my maid, Nastasia, and had no words 'of my own.' She said one day
to her betrothed, 'You will be sure to be bored with me. You talk to
me so beautifully about every thing, but I have no words of my own.'"
"Heaven be praised!" thought Lavretsky.
In the meantime the evening had arrived, and Maria Dmitrievna evinced
a desire to return home. With some difficulty the little girls were
torn away from the lake, and got ready for the journey. Lavretsky said
he would accompany his guests half-way home, and ordered a horse to be
saddled for him. After seeing Maria Dmitrievna into her carriage he
looked about for Lemm; but the old man could nowhere be found. He
had disappeared the moment the fishing was over, Anton slammed the
carriage door to, with a strength remarkable at his age, and cried
in a stern voice, "Drive on, coachman!" The carriage set off. Maria
Dmitrievna and Liza occupied the back seats; the two girls and the
maid sat in front.
The evening was warm and still, and the windows were open on both
sides. Lavretsky rode close by the carriage on Liza's side, resting a
hand on the door--he had thrown the reins on the neck of his easily
trotting horse--and now and then exchanged two or three words with the
young girl. The evening glow disappeared. Night came on, but the air
seemed to grow even warmer than before. Maria Dmitrievna soon went to
sleep; the little girls and the maid servant slept also. Smoothly and
rapidly the carriage rolled on. As Liza bent forwards, the moon, which
had only just made its appearance, lighted up her face, the fragrant
night air breathed on her eyes and cheeks, and she felt herself
happy. Her hand rested on the door of the carriage by the side of
Lavretsky's. He too felt himself happy as he floated on in the calm
warmth of the night, never moving his eyes away from the good young
face, listening to the young voice, clear even in its whispers, which
spoke simple, good words.
It even escaped his notice for a time that he had gone more than half
of the way. Then he would not disturb Madame Kalitine, but he pressed
Liza's hand lightly and said, "We are friends now, are we not?" She
nodded assent, and he pulled up his horse. The carriage rolled on its
way quietly swinging and curtseying.
Lavretsky returned home at a walk. The magic of the summer night took
possession of him. All that spread around him seemed so wonderfully
strange, and yet at the same time so well known and so dear. Far and
near all was still--and the eye could see very far, though it could
not distinguish much of what it saw--but underneath that very
stillness a young and flowering life made itself felt.
Lavretsky's horse walked on vigorously, swinging itself steadily to
right and left. Its great black shadow moved by its side. There was a
sort of secret charm in the tramp of its hoofs, something strange and
joyous in the noisy cry of the quails. The stars disappeared in a kind
of luminous mist. The moon, not yet at its full, shone with steady
lustre. Its light spread in a blue stream over the sky, and fell in
a streak of vaporous gold on the thin clouds which went past close at
The freshness of the air called a slight moisture into Lavretsky's
eyes, passed caressingly over all his limbs, and flowed with free
current into his chest. He was conscious of enjoying, and felt glad
of that enjoyment. "Well, we will live on still; she has not entirely
deprived us--" he did not say who, or of what.--Then he began to think
about Liza; that she could scarcely be in love with Panshine; that if
he had met her under other circumstances--God knows what might have
come of it; that he understood Lemm's feelings about her now, although
she had "no words of her own." And, moreover, that that was not true;
for she had words of her own. "Do not speak lightly about that,"
recurred to Lavretsky's memory. For a long time he rode on with bent
head, then he slowly drew himself up repeating,--
"And I have burnt all that I used to worship,
I worship all that I used to burn--"
then he suddenly struck his horse with his whip and and galloped
straight away home.
On alighting from his horse he gave a final look round, a thankful
smile playing involuntarily on his lips. Night--silent, caressing
night--lay on the hills and dales. From its fragrant depths
afar--whether from heaven or from earth could not be told--there
poured a soft and quiet warmth. Lavretsky wished a last farewell to
Liza--and hastened up the steps.
The next day went by rather slowly, rain setting in early in the
morning. Lemm looked askance, and compressed his lips even tighter
and tighter, as if he had made a vow never to open them again. When
Lavretsky lay down at night he took to bed with him a whole bundle of
French newspapers, which had already lain unopened on his table for
two or three weeks. He began carelessly to tear open their covers and
to skim the contents of their columns, in which, for the matter of
that, there was but little that was new. He was just on the point
of throwing them aside, when he suddenly bounded out of bed as if
something had stung him. In the _feuilleton_ of one of the papers our
former acquaintance, M. Jules, communicated to his readers a "painful
piece of intelligence." "The fascinating, fair Muscovite," he wrote,
"one of the queens of fashion, the ornament of Parisian salons, Madame
de Lavretski," had died almost suddenly. And this news, unfortunately
but too true, had just reached him, M. Jules. He was, so he continued,
he might say, a friend of the deceased--
Lavretsky put on his clothes, went out into the garden, and walked up
and down one of its alleys until the break of day.
At breakfast, next morning, Lemm asked Lavretsky to let him have
horses in order to get back to town.
"It is time for me to return to business, that is to lessons,"
remarked the old man. "I am only wasting my time here uselessly."
Lavretsky did not reply at once. He seemed lost in a reverie.
"Very good," he said at last; "I will go with you myself."
Refusing the assistance of a servant, Lemm packed his little
portmanteau, growing peevish the while and groaning over it, and then
tore up and burnt some sheets of music paper. The carriage came to the
door. As Lavretsky left his study he put in his pocket the copy of
the newspaper he had read the night before. During the whole of
the journey neither Lavretsky nor Lemm said much. Each of them was
absorbed in his own thoughts, and each was glad that the other did not
disturb him. And they parted rather coldly, an occurrence which, for
the matter of that, often occurs among friends in Russia. Lavretsky
drove the old man to his modest dwelling. Lemm took his portmanteau
with him as he got out of the carriage, and, without stretching out
his hand to his friend, he held the portmanteau before him with both
hands, and, without even looking at him, said in Russian, "Farewell!"
"Farewell!" echoed Lavretsky, and told the coachman to drive to his
apartments; for he had taken lodgings in O.
After writing several letters, and making a hasty dinner, he went
to the Kalitines'. There he found no one in the drawing-room but
Panshine, who told him that Maria Dmitrievna would come directly, and
immediately entered into conversation with him in the kindest and most
affable manner. Until that day Panshine had treated Lavretsky, not
with haughtiness exactly, but with condescension; but Liza, in
describing her excursion of the day before, had spoken of Lavretsky as
an excellent and clever man. That was enough; the "excellent" man must
Panshine began by complimenting Lavretsky, giving him an account of
the rapture with which, according to him, all the Kalitine family
had spoken of Vasilievskoe; then, according to his custom, adroitly
bringing the conversation round to himself, he began to speak of his
occupations, of his views concerning life, the world, and the service;
said a word or two about the future of Russia, and about the
necessity of holding the Governors of provinces in hand; joked
facetiously about himself in that respect, and added that he, among
others, had been entrusted at St. Petersburg with the commission _de
populariser l'idee du cadastre_. He spoke at tolerable length, and
with careless assurance, solving all difficulties, and playing with
the most important administrative and political questions as a juggler
does with his balls. Such expressions as, "That is what I should do if
I were the Government," and, "You, as an intelligent man, doubtless
agree with me," were always at the tip of his tongue.
Lavretsky listened coldly to Panshine's eloquence. This handsome,
clever, and unnecessarily elegant young man, with his serene smile,
his polite voice, and his inquisitive eyes, was not to his liking.
Panshine soon guessed, with the quick appreciation of the feelings of
others which was peculiar to him, that he did not confer any special
gratification on the person he was addressing, so he disappeared under
cover of some plausible excuse, having made up his mind that Lavretsky
might be an excellent man, but that he was unsympathetic, "_aigri_"
and, _en somme_, somewhat ridiculous.
Madame Kalitine arrived, accompanied by Gedeonovsky. Then came Marfa
Timofeevna and Liza, and after them all the other members of the
family. Afterwards, also, there arrived the lover of music, Madame
Belenitsine, a thin little woman, with an almost childish little face,
pretty but worn, a noisy black dress, a particolored fan, and thick
gold bracelets. With her came her husband, a corpulent man, with red
cheeks, large hands and feet, white eyelashes, and a smile which never
left his thick lips. His wife never spoke to him in society; and at
home, in her tender moments, she used to call him her "sucking pig."
Panshine returned; the room became animated and noisy. Such an
assemblage of people was by no means agreeable to Lavretsky. He was
especially annoyed by Madame Belenitsine, who kept perpetually staring
at him through her eye-glass. If it had not been for Liza he would
have gone away at once. He wanted to say a few words to her alone, but
for a long time he could not obtain a fitting opportunity of doing so,
and had to content himself with following her about with his eyes It
was with a secret joy that he did so. Never had her face seemed to
him more noble and charming. She appeared to great advantage in the
presence of Madame Belenitsine. That lady was incessantly fidgeting
on her chair, working her narrow shoulders, laughing affectedly, and
either all but closing her eyes or opening them unnaturally wide. Liza
sat still, looked straight before her, and did not laugh at all.
Madame Kalitine sat down to cards with Marfa Timofeevna, Belenitsine,
and Gedeonovsky, the latter of whom played very slowly, made continual
mistakes, squeezed up his eyes, and mopped his face with his
handkerchief. Panshine assumed an air of melancholy, and expressed
himself tersely, sadly, and significantly--altogether after the
fashion of an artist who has not yet had any opportunity of showing
off--but in spite of the entreaties of Madame Belenitsine, who
coquetted with him to a great extent he would not consent to sing his
romance. Lavretsky's presence embarrassed him.
Lavretsky himself spoke little, but the peculiar expression his face
wore struck Liza as soon as he entered the room. She immediately felt
that he had something to communicate to her; but, without knowing
herself why, she was afraid of asking him any questions. At last,
as she was passing into the next room to make the tea, she almost
unconsciously looked towards him. He immediately followed her.
"What is the matter with you?" she asked, putting the teapot on the
[Footnote A: Urn.]
"You have remarked something, then?" he said.
"You are different to-day from what I have seen you before."
Lavretsky bent over the table.
"I wanted," he began, "to tell you a piece of news, but just now it is
impossible. But read the part of this _feuilleton_ which is marked in
pencil," he added, giving her the copy of the newspaper he had
brought with him. "Please keep the secret; I will come back to-morrow
Liza was thoroughly amazed. At that moment Panshine appeared in the
doorway. She put the newspaper in her pocket.
"Have you read Obermann,[A] Lizaveta Mikhailovna?" asked Panshine with
a thoughtful air.
[Footnote A: The sentimental romance of that name, written by E.
Pivert de Senancour.]
Liza replied vaguely as she passed out of the room, and then went
up-stairs. Lavretsky returned into the drawing room and approached the
card table. Marfa Timofeevna flushed, and with her cap-strings untied,
began to complain to him of her partner Gedeonovsky, who, according
to her, had not yet learnt his steps. "Card-playing," she said,
"is evidently a very different thing from gossiping." Meanwhile
Gedeonovsky never left off blinking and mopping himself with his
Presently Liza returned to the drawing-room and sat down in a corner.
Lavretsky looked at her and she at him, and each experienced a painful
sensation. He could read perplexity on her face, and a kind of secret
reproach. Much as he wished it, he could not get a talk with her, and
to remain in the same room with her as a mere visitor among other
visitors was irksome to him, so he determined to go away.
When taking leave of her, he contrived to repeat that he would come
next day, and he added that he counted on her friendship. "Come," she
replied, with the same perplexed look still on her face.
After Lavretsky's departure, Panshine grew animated. He began to give
advice to Gedeonovsky, and to make mock love to Madame Belenitsine,
and at last he sang his romance. But when gazing at Liza, or talking
to her, he maintained the same air as before, one of deep meaning,
with a touch of sadness in it.
All that night also, Lavretsky did not sleep. He was not unhappy, he
was not agitated; on the contrary, he was perfectly calm; but he could
not sleep. He was not even recalling the past. He simply looked at his
present life. His heart beat firmly and equably, the hours flew by, he
did not even think about sleeping. Only at times there came into his
head the thought, "Surely this is not true, this is all nonsense." And
then he would stop short, and presently let his head fall back and
again betake himself to gazing into the stream of his life.
Madame Kalitine did not receive Lavretsky over cordially, when he paid
her a visit next day. "Ah! he's making a custom of it," she thought.
She was not of herself disposed to like him very much, and Panshine,
who had got her thoroughly under his influence, had praised him the
evening before in a very astutely disparaging manner. As she did not
treat him as an honored guest, nor think it necessary to trouble
herself about one who was a relation, almost a member of the family
circle, before half an hour had elapsed he went out into the garden.
There he and Liza strolled along one of the alleys, while Lenochka
and Shurochka played around the flower-pots at a little distance from
Liza was as quiet as usual, but more than usually pale. She took
the folded leaf of the newspaper from her pocket, and handed it to
"That is terrible news," she said.
Lavretsky made no reply.
"But, after all, perhaps it may not be true."
"That is why I asked you not to mention it to any one."
Liza walked on a little farther.
"Tell me," she began, "are not you sorry?--not at all sorry?"
"I don't know myself what I feel," answered Lavretsky.
"But you loved her once?"
"And yet you are not sorry for her death?"
"It is not only now that she has become dead for me."
"You are saying what is sinful. Don't be angry with me. You have
called me your friend. A friend may say anything. And it really seems
terrible to me. The expression on your face yesterday was not good to
see. Do you remember your complaining about her not long ago? And at
that very time, perhaps, she was already no longer among the
living. It is terrible. It is just as if it had been sent you as a
Lavretsky laughed bitterly.
"You think so?--at all events I am free now."
"Do not speak so any more. What use is your freedom to you? You should
not be thinking of that now, but of forgiveness--"
"I forgave her long ago," interrupted Lavretsky, with an impatient
"No, I don't mean that," answered Liza, reddening; "you have not
understood me properly. It is you who ought to strive to get
"Who is there to pardon me?"
"Who? Why God. Who can pardon us except God?"
Lavretsky grasped her hand.
"Ah! Lizaveta Mikhailovna!" he exclaimed, "believe me, I have already
been punished enough--I have already expiated all, believe me."
"You cannot tell that," said Liza, in a low voice. "You forget. It was
not long ago that you and I were talking, and you were not willing to
Both of them walked along the alley for a time in silence.
"And about your daughter?" suddenly asked Liza, and then stopped
"Oh! don't disturb yourself about her. I have already sent off letters
in all directions. The future of my daughter, as you--as you say--is
assured. You need not trouble yourself on that score."
Liza smiled sadly.
"But you are right," continued Lavretsky. "What am I to do with my
freedom--what use is it to me?"
"When did you get this paper?" asked Liza, without answering his
"The day after your visit."
"And have not you--have not you even shed a tear?"
"No; I was thunderstruck. But whither should I look for tears? Should
I cry over the past? Why, all mine has been, as it were, consumed with
fire. Her fault did not actually destroy my happiness; it only proved
to me that for me happiness had never really existed. What, then, had
I to cry for? Besides--who knows?--perhaps I should have been more
grieved if I had received this news a fortnight sooner."
"A fortnight!" replied Liza. "But what can have happened to make such
a difference in that fortnight?"
Lavretsky make no reply at first, and Liza suddenly grew still redder
"Yes, yes! you have guessed it!" unexpectedly cried Lavretsky. "In the
course of that fortnight I have learnt what a woman's heart is like
when it is pure and clear; and my past life seems even farther off
from me than it used to be."
Liza became a little uncomfortable, and slowly turned to where
Lenochka and Shurochka were in the flower-garden.
"But I am glad I showed you that newspaper," said Lavretsky, as he
followed her. "I have grown accustomed to conceal nothing from you,
and I hope you will confide in me equally in return."
"Do you really?" said Liza, stopping still. "In that case, I ought.
But, no! it is impossible."
"What is it? Tell me--tell me!"
"I really think I ought not.--However," added Liza, turning to
Lavretsky with a smile, "what is the good of a half-confidence? Do you
know, I received a letter to-day?"
"Yes, from him. How did you guess that?"
"And he asks for your hand?"
"Yes," replied Liza, looking straight at Lavretsky with serious eyes.
Lavretsky, in his turn, looked seriously at Liza.
"Well, and what answer have you made him?" he said at last.
"I don't know what to answer," replied Liza, unfolding her arms, and
letting them fall by her side.
"Why? Do you like him?"
"Yes, I like him; I think he is a good man."
"That is just what you told me three days ago, and in the very same
words. But what I want to know is, do you love him--love him with that
strong, passionate feeling which we usually call 'love'?"
"In the sense in which you understand the word--No."
"You are not in love with him?"
"No. But is that necessary?"
"How do you mean?"
"Mamma likes him," continued Liza. "He is good: I have no fault to
find with him."
"But still you waver?"
"Yes--and, perhaps--you, your words are the cause of that. Do you
remember what you said the day before yesterday? But all that is
"Oh, my child!" suddenly exclaimed Lavretsky, and his voice trembled
as he spoke, "don't be fatally wise--don't stigmatize as weakness the
cry of your heart, unwilling to give itself away without love! Do not
take upon yourself so fearful a responsibility towards that man, whom
you do not love, and yet to whom you would be about to belong."
"I shall only be obeying; I shall be taking nothing upon myself,"
"Obey your own heart, then. It only will tell you the truth," said
Lavretsky, interrupting her. "Wisdom, experience--all that is mere
vanity and vexation. Do not deprive yourself of the best, the only
real happiness upon earth."
"And do you speak in that way. Fedor Ivanovich? You married for love
yourself--and were you happy?"
Lavretsky clasped his hands above his head.
"Ah! do not talk about me. You cannot form any idea of what a young,
inexperienced, absurdly brought-up boy may imagine to be love.
However, why should one calumniate one's self? I told you just now I
had never known happiness. No! I have been happy."
"I think, Fedor Ivanovich," said Liza, lowering her voice--she always
lowered her voice when she differed from the person she was speaking
to; besides, she felt considerably agitated just then--"our happiness
upon earth does not depend upon ourselves--"
"It does depend upon ourselves--upon ourselves:" here he seized both
her hands. Liza grew pale and looked at him earnestly, but almost with
alarm--"at least if we do not ruin our own lives. For some people a
love match may turn out unhappily, but not for you, with your calmness
of temperament; with your serenity of soul. I do beseech you not to
marry without love, merely from a feeling of duty, self-denial, or
the like. All that is sheer infidelity, and moreover a matter of
calculation--and worse still. Trust my words. I have a right to say
this; a right for which I have paid dearly. And if your God--"
At that moment Lavretsky became aware that Lenochka and Shurochka
were standing by Liza's side, and were staring at him with intense
astonishment. He dropped Liza's hands, saying hastily, "Forgive me,"
and walked away towards the house.
"There is only one thing I have to ask you," he said, coming back to
Liza. "Don't make up your mind directly, but wait a little, and think
over what I have said to you. And even if you don't believe my words,
but are determined to marry in accordance with the dictates of mere
prudence--even, in that case, Mr. Panshine is not the man you ought
to marry. He must not be your husband. You will promise me not to be
hasty, won't you?"
Liza wished to reply, but she could not utter a single word. Not that
she had decided on being "hasty"--but because her heart beat too
strongly, and a feeling resembling that of fear impeded her breathing.
As Lavretsky was leaving the Kalitines' house he met Panshine, with
whom he exchanged a cold greeting. Then he went home and shut himself
up in his room. The sensations he experienced were such as he had
hardly ever known before. Was it long ago that he was in a condition
of "peaceful torpor?" Was it long ago that he felt himself, as he had
expressed it, "at the very bottom of the river?" What then had changed
his condition? What had brought him to the surface, to the light of
day? Was the most ordinary and inevitable, though always unexpected,
of occurrences--death? Yes. But yet it was not so much his wife's
death, his own freedom, that he was thinking about, as this--what
answer will Liza give to Panshine?
He felt that in the course of the last three days he had begun to look
on Liza with different eyes. He remembered how, when he was returning
home and thinking of her in the silence of the night, he said to
himself "If!--" This "if," by which at that time he had referred to
the past, to the impossible, now applied to an actual state of things,
but not exactly such a one as he had then supposed. Freedom by itself
was little to him now. "She will obey her mother," he thought. "She
will marry Panshine. But even if she refuses him--will it not be just
the same as far as I am concerned?" Passing at that moment in front of
a looking-glass, he just glanced at his face in it, and then shrugged
Amid such thoughts as these the day passed swiftly by. The evening
arrived, and Lavretsky went to the Kalitines. He walked fast until he
drew near to the house, but then he slackened his pace. Panshine's
carriage was standing before the door. "Well," thought Lavretsky,
as he entered the house, "I will not be selfish." No one met him
in-doors, and all seemed quiet in the drawing-room. He opened the
door, and found that Madame Kalitine was playing piquet with Panshine.
That gentleman bowed to him silently, while the lady of the house
exclaimed, "Well, this is an unexpected pleasure," and slightly
frowned. Lavretsky sat down beside her and began looking at her cards.
"So you can play piquet?" she asked, with a shade of secret vexation
in her voice, and then remarked that she had thrown away a wrong card.
Panshine counted ninety, and began to take up the tricks calmly and
politely, his countenance the while wearing a grave and dignified
expression. It was thus, he thought, that diplomatists ought to play.
It was thus, in all probability, that he used to play with some
influential dignitary at St. Petersburg, whom he wished to impress
with a favorable idea of his solidity and perspicacity. "One hundred
and one, hundred and two, heart, hundred and three," said the
measured tones of his voice, and Lavretsky could not tell which it
expressed--dislike or assurance.
"Can't I see Marfa Timofeevna?" asked Lavretsky, observing that
Panshine, with a still more dignified air than before, was about to
shuffle the cards; not even a trace of the artist was visible in him
"I suppose so. She is up-stairs in her room," answered Maria
Dmitrievna. "You can ask for her."
Lavretsky went up-stairs. He found Marfa Timofeevna also at cards. She
was playing at _Durachki_ with Nastasia Carpovna. Roska barked at
him, but both the old ladies received him cordially. Marfa Timofeevna
seemed in special good humor.
"Ah, Fedia!" she said, "do sit down, there's a good fellow. We shall
have done our game directly. Will you have some preserves? Shurochka,
give him a pot of strawberries. You won't have any? Well, then, sit
there as you are. But as to smoking, you mustn't. I cannot abide your
strong tobacco; besides, it would make Matros sneeze."
Lavretsky hastened to assure her that he had not the slightest desire
"Have you been down-stairs?" asked the old lady. "Whom did you find
there? Is Panshine always hanging about there? But did you see Liza?
No? She was to have come here. Why there she is--as soon as one
Liza came into the room, caught sight of Lavretsky and blushed.
"I have only come for a moment, Marfa Timofeevna," she was beginning.
"Why for a moment?" asked the old lady. "Why are all you young people
so restless? You see I have a visitor there. Chat a little with him,
Liza sat down on the edge of a chair, raised her eyes to Lavretsky,
and felt at once that she could not do otherwise than let him know how
her interview with Panshine had ended. But how was that to be managed?
She felt at the same time confused and ashamed. Was it so short a time
since she had become acquainted with that man, one who scarcely ever
went to church even, and who bore the death of his wife so equably?
and yet here she was already communicating her secrets to him. It
was true that he took an interest in her; and that, on her side she
trusted him, and felt herself drawn towards him. But in spite of all
this, she felt a certain kind of modest shame--as if a stranger had
entered her pure maiden chamber.
Marfa Timofeevna came to her rescue.
"Well, if you will not amuse him," she said, "who is to amuse him,
poor fellow? I am too old for him; he is too clever for me; and as to
Nastasia Carpovna, he is too old for her. It's only boys she cares
"How can I amuse Fedor Ivanovich?" said Liza. "I would rather play him
something on the piano, if he likes," she continued irresolutely.
"That's capital. You're a clever creature," replied Marfa Timofeevna.
"Go down-stairs, my dears. Come back again when you've clone; but just
now, here I'm left the _durachka_,[A] so I'm savage. I must have my
[Footnote A: In the game of _durachki_, the player who remains the
last is called the _durachok_ or _durachka_, diminutive of _durak_,
a fool. The game somewhat resembles our own "Old Bachelor" or "Old
Liza rose from her chair, and so did Lavretsky. As she was going
down-stairs, Liza stopped.
"What they say is true," she began. "The human heart is full of
contradictions. Your example ought to have frightened me--ought to
have made me distrust marrying for love, and yet I--".
"You've refused him?" said Lavretsky, interrupting her.
"No; but I have not accepted him either. I told him every thing--all
my feelings on the subject--and I asked him to wait a little. Are you
satisfied?" she asked with a sudden smile: and letting her hand skim
lightly along the balustrade, she ran down-stairs.
"What shall I play you?" she asked, as she opened the piano.
"Whatever you like," answered Lavretsky, taking a seat where he could
look at her.
Liza began to play, and went on for some time with-out lifting her
eyes from her fingers. At last she looked at Lavretsky, and stopped
playing. The expression of his face seemed so strange and unusual to
"What is the, matter?" she asked.
"Nothing," he replied. "All is well with me at present. I feel happy
on your account; it makes me glad to look at you--do go on."
"I think," said Liza, a few minutes later, "if he had really loved me
he would not have written that letter; he ought to have felt that I
could not answer him just now."
"That doesn't matter," said Lavretsky; "what does matter is that you
do not love him."
"Stop! What is that you are saying? The image of your dead wife is
always haunting me, and I feel afraid of you."
"Doesn't my Liza play well, Woldemar?" Madame Kalitine was saying at
this moment to Panshine.
"Yes," replied Panshine, "exceedingly well."
Madame Kalitine looked tenderly at her young partner; but he assumed a
still more important and pre-occupied look, and called fourteen kings.
Lavretsky was no longer a very young man. He could not long delude
himself as to the nature of the feeling with which Liza had inspired
him. On that day he became finally convinced that he was in love with
her. That conviction did not give him much pleasure.
"Is it possible," he thought, "that at five-and-thirty I have nothing
else to do than to confide my heart a second time to a woman's
keeping? But Liza is not like _her_. She would not have demanded
humiliating sacrifices from me. She would not have led me astray from
my occupations. She would have inspired me herself with a love for
honorable hard work, and we should have gone forward together towards
some noble end. Yes," he said, bringing his reflections to a close,
"all that is very well. But the worst of it is that she will not go
anywhere with me. It was not for nothing that she told me she was
afraid of me. And as to her not being in love with Panshine--that is
but a poor consolation!"
Lavretsky went to Vasilievskoe; but he could not manage to spend even
four days there--so wearisome did it seem to him. Moreover, he was
tormented by suspense. The news which M. Jules had communicated
required confirmation, and he had not yet received any letters. He
returned to town, and passed the evening at the Kalitines'. He could
easily see that Madame Kalitine had been set against him; but he
succeeded in mollifying her a little by losing some fifteen roubles to
her at piquet. He also contrived to get half-an-hour alone with Liza,
in spite of her mother having recommended her, only the evening
before, not to be too intimate with a man "_qui a tin si grand
He found a change in her. She seemed to have become more
contemplative. She blamed him for stopping away; and she asked him if
he would not go to church the next day--the next day being Sunday.
"Do come," she continued, before he had time to answer. "We will pray
together for the repose of _her_ soul." Then she added that she did
not know what she ought to do--that she did not know whether she had
any right to make Panshine wait longer for her decision.
"Why?" asked Lavretsky.
"Because," she replied, "I begin to suspect by this time what that
decision will be."
Then she said that she had a headache, and went to her room, after
irresolutely holding out the ends of her fingers to Lavretsky.
The next day Lavretsky went to morning service. Liza was already in
the church when he entered. He remarked her, though she did not look
towards him. She prayed fervently; her eyes shone with a quiet light;
quietly she bowed and lifted her head.
He felt that she was praying for him also, and a strange emotion
filled his soul. The people standing gravely around, the familiar
faces, the harmonious chant, the odor of the incense, the long rays
slanting through the windows, the very sombreness of the walls and
arches--all appealed to his heart. It was long since he had been in
church--long since he had turned his thoughts to God. And even now he
did not utter any words of prayer--he did not even pray without words;
but nevertheless, for a moment, if not in body, at least in mind, he
bowed clown and bent himself humbly to the ground. He remembered how,
in the days of his childhood, he always used to pray in church till he
felt on his forehead something like a kind of light touch. "That" he
used then to think, "is my guardian angel visiting me and pressing
on me the seal of election." He looked at Liza. "It is you who have
brought me here," he thought. "Touch me--touch my soul!" Meanwhile,
she went on quietly praying. Her face seemed to him to be joyous,
and once more he felt softened, and he asked, for another's soul,
rest--for his own, pardon. They met outside in the porch, and she
received him with a friendly look of serious happiness. The
sun brightly lit up the fresh grass in the church-yard and the
many-colored dresses and kerchiefs of the women. The bells of the
neighboring churches sounded on high; the sparrows chirped on the
walls. Lavretsky stood by, smiling and bare-headed; a light breeze
played with his hair and Liza's, and with the ends of Liza's bonnet
strings. He seated Liza and her companion Lenochka, in the carriage,
gave away all the change he had about him to the beggars, and then
strolled slowly home.
The days which followed were days of heaviness for Lavretsky. He felt
himself in a perpetual fever. Every morning he went to the post, and
impatiently tore open his letters and newspapers; but in none of them
did he find anything which could confirm or contradict that rumor, on
the truth of which he felt that so much now depended. At times he grew
disgusted with himself. "What am I," he then would think, "who am
waiting here, as a raven waits for blood, for certain intelligence of
my wife's death?"
He went to the Kalitines' every day; but even there he was not more at
his ease. The mistress of the house was evidently out of humor with
him, and treated him with cold condescension. Panshine showed him
exaggerated politeness; Lemm had become misanthropical, and scarcely
even returned his greeting; and, worst of all, Liza seemed to avoid
him. Whenever she happened to be left alone with him, she manifested
symptoms of embarrassment, instead of the frank manner of former days.
On such occasions she did not know what to say to him; and even he
felt confused. In the course of a few days Liza had become changed
from what he remembered her to have been. In her movements, in her
voice, even in her laugh itself, a secret uneasiness manifested
itself--something different from her former evenness of temper. Her
mother, like a true egotist, did not suspect anything; but Marfa
Timofeevna began to watch her favorite closely.
Lavretsky often blamed himself for having shown Liza the newspaper
he had received; he could not help being conscious that there was
something in his state of feeling which must be repugnant to a very
delicate mind. He supposed, moreover, that the change which had taken
place in Liza arose from a struggle with herself, from her doubt as to
what answer she should give to Panshine.
One day she returned him a book--one of Walter Scott's novels--which
she had herself asked him for.
"Have you read it?" he asked.
"No; I am not in a mood for books just now," she answered, and then
was going away.
"Wait a minute," he said. "It is so long since I got a talk with you
alone. You seem afraid of me. Is it so?"
"I don't know."
Lavretsky said nothing for a time.
"Tell me," he began again presently; "haven't you made up your mind
"What do you mean?" she replied, without lifting her eyes from the
"Surely you understand me?"
Liza suddenly reddened.
"Don't ask me about anything!" she exclaimed with animation. "I know
nothing. I don't know myself."
And she went hastily away.
The next day Lavretsky arrived at the Kalitines' after dinner, and
found all the preparations going on there for an evening service. In
a corner of the dining-room, a number of small icons[A] in golden
frames, with tarnished little diamonds in the aureolas, were already
placed against the wall on a square table, which was covered with a
table-cloth of unspotted whiteness. An old servant, dressed in a grey
coat and wearing shoes, traversed the whole room deliberately and
noiselessly, placed two slender candle-sticks with wax tapers in them
before the icons, crossed himself, bowed, and silently left the room.
[Footnote A: Sacred Pictures.]
The drawing-room was dark and empty. Lavretsky went into the
dining-room, and asked if it was any one's name-day.[A] He was told in
a whisper that it was not, but that a service was to be performed
in accordance with the request of Lizaveta Mikhailovna and Marfa
Timofeevna. The miracle-working picture was to have been brought, but
it had gone to a sick person thirty versts off.
[Footnote A: A Russian keeps, not his birthday, but his name-day--that
is, the day set apart by the church in honor of the saint after whom
he is called.]
Soon afterwards the priest arrived with his acolytes--a middle-aged
man, with a large bald spot on his head, who coughed loudly in the
vestibule. The ladies immediately came out of the boudoir in a row,
and asked him for his blessing. Lavretsky bowed to them in silence,
and they as silently returned his greeting. The priest remained a
little longer where he was, then coughed again, and asked, in a low,
"Do you wish me to begin?"
"Begin, reverend father," replied Maria Dmitrievna.
The priest began to robe. An acolyte in a surplice humbly asked for a
coal from the fire. The scent of the incense began to spread around.
The footmen and the maid-servants came in from the ante-chamber and
remained standing in a compact body at the door. The dog Roska, which,
as a general rule, never came down-stairs from the upper story, now
suddenly made its appearance in the dining room. The servants tried
to drive it out, but it got frightened, first ran about, and then lay
down. At last a footman got hold of it and carried it off.
The service began. Lavretsky retired into a corner. His feelings were
strange and almost painful. He himself could not well define what it
was that he felt. Maria Dmitrievna stood in front of the rest, with an
arm-chair behind her. She crossed herself carelessly, languidly, like
a great lady. Sometimes she looked round, at others she suddenly
raised her eyes towards the ceiling. The whole affair evidently bored
Marfa Timofeevna seemed pre-occupied. Nastasia Carpovna bowed down
to the ground, and raised herself up again, with a sort of soft and
modest sound. As for Liza, she did not stir from the spot where she
was standing, she did not change her position upon it; from the
concentrated expression of her face, it was evident that she was
praying uninterruptedly and fervently.
At the end of the service she approached the crucifix, and kissed both
it and the large red hand of the priest. Maria Dmitrievna invited him
to take tea. He threw off his stole, assumed a sort of mundane air,
and went into the drawing-room with the ladies. A conversation began,
not of a very lively nature. The priest drank four cups of tea, wiping
the bald part of his head the while with his handkerchief, stated
among other things that the merchant Avoshnikof had given several
hundred roubles towards the gilding of the church's "cumpola," and
favored the company with an unfailing cure for freckles.
Lavretsky tried to get a seat near Liza, but she maintained her
grave, almost austere air, and never once looked at him. She seemed
intentionally to ignore him. A kind of serious, cold enthusiasm
appeared to possess her. For some reason or other Lavretsky felt
inclined to smile, and to utter words of jesting; but his heart was
ill at ease, and at last he went away in a state of secret perplexity.
There was something, he felt, in Liza's mind, which he could not
On another occasion, as Lavretsky was sitting in the drawing-room,
listening to the insinuating tones of Gedeonovsky's wearisome
verbiage, he suddenly turned round, he knew not why, and caught the
deep, attentive, inquiring look of Liza's eyes. That enigmatical look
was directed towards him. The whole night long Lavretsky thought of
it. His love was not like that of a boy, nor was it consistent with
his age to sigh and to torment himself; and indeed it was not with a
feeling of a merely passionate nature that Liza had inspired him.
But love has its sufferings for every age--and he became perfectly
acquainted with them.
One day Lavretsky was as usual at the Kalitines'. An overpoweringly
hot afternoon had been followed by such a beautiful evening that
Madame Kalitine, notwithstanding her usual aversion to a draught,
ordered all the windows and the doors leading into the garden to be
opened. Moreover, she announced that she was not going to play cards,
that it would be a sin to do so in such lovely weather, and that it
was a duty to enjoy the beauties of nature.
Panshine was the only stranger present. Influenced by the evening,
and feeling a flow of artistic emotion, but not wishing to sing in
Lavretsky's presence, he threw himself into poetry He read--and read
well, only with too much consciousness, and with needlessly subtle
distinctions--some of Lermontof's poems (Pushkin had not then
succeeded in getting back into fashion). Suddenly, as if ashamed of
his emotion, he began in reference to the well-known _Duma_,[A] to
blame and attack the new generation, not losing the opportunity which
the subject afforded him of setting forth how, if the power lay in his
hands, he would alter everything his own way.
[Footnote A: For the poem, so-called, see note at end of chapter.]
"Russia," he said, "has lagged behind Europe, and must be driven up
alongside of it. We are told that ours is a young country. That is all
nonsense. Besides, we have no inventive power. Khomakof[A] himself
admits that we have never invented so much as a mousetrap.
Consequently we are obliged to imitate others, whether we like it or
[Footnote A: A poet, who was one of the leaders of the Slavophile
"'We are ill,' says Lermontof, and I agree with him. But we are ill
because we have only half become Europeans. With that which has
wounded us we must be cured." ("_Le cadastre_" thought Lavretsky.)
"Among us," he continued, "the best heads, _les meilleures tetes_,
have long been convinced of this. In reality, all peoples are alike;
only introduce good institutions, and the affair is settled. To be
sure, one may make some allowance for the existing life of the nation;
that is our business, the business of the people who are" (he all but
said "statesmen") "in the public service; but if need arises, don't be
uneasy. Those institutions will modify that life itself."
Maria Dmitrievna admiringly agreed with him. "What a clever man to
have talking in my house!" she thought. Liza kept silence, leaning
back in the recess of the window. Lavretsky kept silence too. Marfa
Timofeevna, who was playing cards in a corner with her friend,
grumbled something to herself. Panshine walked up and down the room,
speaking well, but with a sort of suppressed malice. It seemed as if
he was blaming, not so much a whole generation, as some individuals
of his acquaintance. A nightingale had made its home in a large lilac
bush which stood in the Kalitines' garden, and the first notes of its
even-song made themselves heard during the pauses in the eloquent
harangue; the first stars began to kindle in the rose-stained sky
above the motionless tops of the lime trees. Presently Lavretsky rose
and began to reply to Panshine. A warm dispute soon commenced.
Lavretsky spoke in defence of the youth of Russia, and of the capacity
of the country to suffice for itself. He surrendered himself and his
contemporaries, but he stood up for the new generation, and their
wishes and convictions. Panshine replied incisively and irritably,
declared that clever people were bound to reform every thing, and
at length was carried away to such an extent that, forgetting his
position as a chamberlain, and his proper line of action as a member
of the civil service, he called Lavretsky a retrogade conservative,
and alluded--very distantly it is true--to his false position in
society. Lavretsky did not lose his temper, nor did he raise
his voice; he remembered that Mikhalevich also had called him a
retrograde, and, at the same time a disciple of Voltaire; but he
calmly beat Panshine on every point. He proved the impracticability
of reforming by sudden bounds, and of introducing changes haughtily
schemed on the heights of official self-complacency--changes which
were not justified by any intimate acquaintance with the country, nor
by a living faith in any ideal, not even in one of negation, and in
illustration of this he adduced his own education. He demanded
before every thing else that the true spirit of the nation should be
recognized, and that it should be looked up to with that humility
without which no courage is possible, not even that wherewith to
oppose falsehood. Finally he did not attempt to make any defence
against what he considered a deserved reproach, that of giving way to
a wasteful and inconsiderate expenditure of both time and strength.
"All that is very fine!" at last exclaimed Panshine with vexation.
"But here are you, just returned to Russia; what do you intend to do?"
"To cultivate the soil," replied Lavretsky; "and to cultivate it as
well as possible."
"No doubt that is very praiseworthy," answered Panshine, "and I hear
you have already had great success in that line; but you must admit
that every one is not fitted for such an occupation--"
"_Une nature poetique_," said Maria Dmitrievna, "certainly cannot
go cultivating the soil--_et puis_, it is your vocation, Vladimir
Nikolaevich, to do every thing _en grand_."
This was too much even for Panshine, who grew confused, and changed
the conversation. He tried to turn it on the beauty of the starry
heavens, on Schubert's music, but somehow his efforts did not prove
successful. He ended by offering to play at piquet with Maria
Dmitrievna. "What! on such an evening as this?" she feebly objected;
but then she ordered the cards to be brought.
Panshine noisily tore open a new pack; and Liza and Lavretsky, as if
by mutual consent, both rose from their seats and placed themselves
near Marfa Timofeevna. They both suddenly experienced a great feeling
of happiness, mingled with a sense of mutual dread, which made them
glad of the presence of a third person; at the same time, they both
felt that the uneasiness from which they had suffered during the last
few days had disappeared, and would return no more.
The old lady stealthily tapped Lavretsky on the cheek, screwed up her
eyes with an air of pleasant malice, and shook her head repeatedly,
saying in a whisper, "You've done for the genius--thanks!" Then all
became still in the room. Nothing was to be heard but the faint
crackling of the wax lights, and sometimes the fall of a hand on the
table, or an exclamation on the score of points, and the song of the
nightingale which, powerful, almost insolently loud, flowed in a great
wave through the window, together with the dewy freshness of the
* * * * *
NOTE.--The following is a tolerably literal translation of the poem of
Lermontof's to which allusion is made on p. 208, and which created no
slight sensation when it first appeared, in the year 1838:--
Sorrowfully do I look upon the present generation! Its future seems
either gloomy or meaningless, and meanwhile, whether under the burden
of knowledge or of doubt, it grows old in idleness.
When scarcely out of the cradle, we reap the rich inheritance of the
errors of our fathers, and the results of their tardy thoughts. Life
soon grows wearisome for us, like a banquet at a stranger's festival,
like a level road leading nowhere.
In the commencement of our career, we fall away without a struggle,
shamefully careless about right and wrong, shamefully timid in the
face of danger.
So does a withered fruit which has prematurely ripened--attractive
neither to the eye nor to the palate--hang like an alien orphan among
blossoms; and the hour of their beauty is that of its fall.
Our intellect has dried up in the pursuit of fruitless science, while
we have been concealing the purest of hopes from the knowledge of
those who are near and dear to us, and stifling the noble utterance of
such sentiments as are ridiculed by a mocking spirit.
We have scarcely tasted of the cup of enjoyment, but for all that we
have not husbanded our youthful strength. While we were always in
dread of satiety, we have contrived to drain each joy of its best
No dreams of poetry, no creations of art, touch our hearts with a
sweet rapture. We stingily hoard up within our breasts the last
remnants of feeling--a treasure concealed by avarice, and which
remains utterly unprofitable.
We love and we hate capriciously, sacrificing nothing either to our
animosity or to our affection, a certain secret coldness possessing
our souls, even while a fire is raging in our veins.
The sumptuous pleasures of our ancestors weary us, as well as their
simple, childish diversions. Without enjoying happiness, without
reaping glory, we hasten onwards to the grave, casting naught but
unlucky glances behind us.
A saturnine crowd, soon to be forgotten, we silently pass away from
the world and leave no trace behind, without having handed down to the
ages to come a single work of genius, or even a solitary thought laden
And our descendants, regarding our memory with the severity of
citizens called to sit in judgment on an affair concerning the state,
will allude to us with the scathing irony of a ruined son, when he
speaks of the father who has squandered away his patrimony.
Liza had not uttered a single word during the dispute between
Lavretsky and Panshine, but she had followed it attentively, and had
been on Lavretsky's side throughout. She cared very little about
politics; but she was repelled by the self-sufficient tone of the
worldly official, who had never shown himself in that light before,
and his contempt for Russia offended her. It had never occurred to
Liza to imagine that she was a patriot. But she was thoroughly at her
ease with the Russian people. The Russian turn of mind pleased her.
She would chat for hours, without thinking anything of it, with the
chief of the village on her mother's estate, when he happened to come
into town, and talk with him as if he were her equal, without any
signs of seigneurial condescension. All this Lavretsky knew well. For
his own part, he never would have cared to reply to Panshine; it was
only for Liza's sake that he spoke.
They said nothing to each other, and even their eyes but rarely met.
But they both felt that they had been drawn closer together that
evening, they knew that they both had the same likes and dislikes. On
one point only were they at variance; but Liza secretly hoped to bring
him back to God. They sat down close by Marfa Timofeevna, and seemed
to be following her game; nay, more, did actually follow it. But,
meantime, their hearts grew full within them, and nothing escaped
their senses--for them the nightingale sang softly, and the stars
burnt, and the trees whispered, steeped in slumberous calm, and lulled
to rest by the warmth and softness of the summer night.
Lavretsky gave himself up to its wave of fascination, and his heart
rejoiced within him. But no words can express the change that was
being worked within the pure soul of the maiden by his side. Even for
herself it was a secret; let it remain, then, a secret for all others
also. No one knows, no eye has seen or ever will see, how the grain
which has been confided to the earth's bosom becomes instinct with
vitality, and ripens into stirring, blossoming life.
Ten o'clock struck, and Marfa Timofeevna went up-stairs to her room
with Nastasia Carpovna. Lavretsky and Liza walked about the room,
stopped in front of the open door leading into the garden, looked
first into the gloaming distance and then at each other--and smiled.
It seemed as if they would so gladly have taken each other's hands and
talked to their hearts' content.
They returned to Maria Dmitrievna and Panshine, whose game dragged
itself out to an unusual length. At length the last "king" came to an
end, and Madame Kalitine rose from her cushioned chair, sighing, and
uttering sounds of weariness the while. Panshine took his hat, kissed
her hand, remarked that nothing prevented more fortunate people from
enjoying the night or going to sleep, but that he must sit up till
morning over stupid papers, bowed coldly to Liza--with-whom he was
angry, for he had not expected that she would ask him to wait so
long for an answer to his proposal--and retired. Lavretsky went away
directly after him, following him to the gate, where he took leave of
him. Panshine aroused his coachman, poking him in the neck with the
end of his stick, seated himself in his droshky, and drove away. But
Lavretsky did not feel inclined to go home, so he walked out of the
town into the fields.
The night was still and clear, although there was no moon. For a long
time Lavretsky wandered across the dewy grass. A narrow footpath lay
in his way, and he followed it. It led him to a long hedge, in which
there was a wicket gate. Without knowing why he did so, he tried to
push it open; with a faint creak it did open, just as if it had been
awaiting the touch of his hand. Lavretsky found himself in a garden,
took a few steps along a lime-tree alley, and suddenly stopped short
in utter amazement. He saw that he was in the Kalitines' garden.
A thick hazel bush close at hand flung a black patch of shadow on the
ground. Into this he quickly passed, and there stood for some time
without stirring from the spot, inwardly wondering and from time to
time shrugging his shoulders. "This has not happened without some
purpose," he thought.
Around all was still. From the house not the slightest sound reached
him. He began cautiously to advance. At the corner of an alley all the
house suddenly burst upon him with its dusky facade. In two windows
only on the upper story were lights glimmering. In Liza's apartment a
candle was burning behind the white blind, and in Marfa Timofeevna's
bed-room glowed the red flame of the small lamp hanging in front of
the sacred picture, on the gilded cover of which it was reflected in
steady light. Down below, the door leading on to the balcony gaped
Lavretsky sat down on a wooden bench, rested his head on his hand, and
began looking at that door, and at Liza's window. Midnight sounded
in the town; in the house a little clock feebly struck twelve. The
watchman beat the hour with quick strokes on his board. Lavretsky
thought of nothing, expected nothing. It was pleasant to him to feel
himself near Liza, to sit in her garden, and on the bench where she
also often sat.
The light disappeared from Liza's room.
"A quiet night to you, dear girl," whispered Lavretsky, still sitting
where he was without moving, and not taking his eyes off the darkened
Suddenly a light appeared at one of the windows of the lower story,
crossed to another window, and then to a third. Some one was carrying
a candle through the room. "Can it be Liza? It cannot be," thought
Lavretsky. He rose. A well-known face glimmered in the darkness, and
Liza appeared in the drawing-room, wearing a white dress, her hair
hanging loosely about her shoulders. Quietly approaching the table,
she leant over it, put down the candle and began looking for
something. Then she turned towards the garden, and crossed to the open
door; presently her light, slender, white-robed form stood still on
A kind of shiver ran over Lavretsky's limbs, and the word "Liza!"
escaped all but inaudibly from his lips.
She started, and then began to peer anxiously into the darkness.
"Liza!" said Lavretsky louder than before, and came out from the
shadow of the alley.
Liza was startled. For a moment she bent forward; then she shrank
back. She had recognized him. For the third time he called her, and
held out his hands towards her. She passed out from the doorway and
came into the garden.
"You!" she said. "You here!"
"I--I--Come and hear what I have to say," whispered Lavretsky; and
then, taking her hand, he led her to the bench.
She followed him without a word; but her pale face, her fixed look,
and all her movements, testified her unutterable astonishment.
Lavretsky made her sit down on the bench, and remained standing in
front of her.
"I did not think of coming here," he began. "I was led here--I--I--I
love you," he ended by saying, feeling very nervous in spite of
Liza slowly looked up at him. It seemed as if it had not been till
that moment that she understood where she was, and what was happening
to her. She would have risen, but she could not. Then she hid her face
in her hands.
"Liza!" exclaimed Lavretsky; "Liza!" he repeated, and knelt down at
A slight shudder ran over her shoulders; she pressed the fingers of
her white hands closer to her face.
"What is it?" said Lavretsky. Then he heard a low sound of sobbing,
and his heart sank within him. He understood the meaning of those
"Can it be that you love me?" he whispered, with a caressing gesture
of the hand.
"Stand up, stand up, Fedor Ivanovich," she at last succeeded in
saying. "What are we doing?"
He rose from his knees, and sat down by her side on the bench. She was
no longer crying, but her eyes, as she looked at him earnestly, were
wet with tears.
"I am frightened! What are we doing?" she said again.
"I love you," he repeated. "I am ready to give my whole life for you."
She shuddered again, just as if something had stung her, then she
raised her eyes to heaven.
"That is entirely in the hands of God," she replied.
"But you love me, Liza? We are going to be happy?"
She let fall her eyes. He softly drew her to himself, and her head
sank upon his shoulder. He bent his head a little aside, and kissed
her pale lips.
* * * * *
Half an hour later Lavretsky was again standing before the garden
gate. He found it closed now and was obliged to get over the fence.
He returned into the town, and walked along its sleeping streets. His
heart was full of happiness, intense and unexpected; all misgiving
was dead within him. "Disappear, dark spirit of the Past!" he said to
himself. "She loves me. She will be mine."
Suddenly he seemed to hear strange triumphal sounds floating in the
air above his head. He stopped. With greater grandeur than before the
sounds went clanging forth. With strong, sonorous stream did they flow
along--and in them, as it seemed to him, all his happiness spoke and
sang. He looked round. The sounds came from the two upper windows of a
"Lemm!" he exclaimed, and ran up to the door of the house. "Lemm,
Lemm!" he repeated loudly.
The sounds died away, and the form of the old man, wrapped in a
dressing-gown, with exposed chest and wildly floating hair, appeared
at the window.
"Ha! it is you," he said, with an air of importance.
"Christopher Fedorovich, what wonderful music! For heaven's sake let
The old man did not say a word, but with a dignified motion of the
hand he threw the key of the door out of the window into the street.
Lavretsky hastily ran up-stairs, entered the room, and was going to
fling himself into Lemm's arms. But Lemm, with a gesture of command,
pointed to a chair, and said sharply in his incorrect Russian, "Sit
down and listen," then took his seat at the piano, looked round with a
proud and severe glance, and began to play.
Lavretsky had heard nothing like it for a long time indeed. A sweet,
passionate melody spoke to the heart with its very first notes. It
seemed all thoroughly replete with sparkling light, fraught with
inspiration, with beauty, and with joy. As it rose and sank it seemed
to speak of all that is dear, and secret, and holy, on earth. It spoke
too of a sorrow that can never end, and then it went to die away in
the distant heaven.
Lavretsky had risen from his seat and remained standing, rooted to the
spot, and pale with rapture. Those sounds entered very readily into
his heart; for it had just been stirred into sensitiveness by the
touch of a happy love, and they themselves were glowing with love.
"Play it again," he whispered, as soon as the last final chord had
The old man looked at him with an eagle's glance, and said slowly, in
his native tongue, striking his breast with his hand, "It is I who
wrote that, for I am a great musician," and then he played once more
his wonderful composition.
There were no lights in the room, but the rays of the rising moon
entered obliquely through the window. The listening air seemed to
tremble into music, and the poor little apartment looked like a
sanctuary, while the silvery half-light gave to the head of the old
man a noble and spiritual expression.
Lavretsky came up to him and embraced him. At first Lemm did not
respond to his embrace--even put him aside with his elbow. Then he
remained rigid for some time, without moving any of his limbs, wearing
the same severe, almost repellent, look as before, and only growling
out twice, "Aha!" But at last a change came over him, his face grew
calm, and his head was no longer thrown back. Then, in reply to
Lavretsky's warm congratulations, he first smiled a little, and
afterwards began to cry, sobbing faintly, like a child.
"It is wonderful," he said, "your coming just at this very moment. But
I know every thing--I know all about it."
"You know every thing?" exclaimed Lavretsky in astonishment.
"You have heard what I said," replied Lemm. "Didn't you understand
that I knew every thing?"
* * * * *
Lavretsky did not get to sleep till the morning. All night long he
remained sitting on the bed. Neither did Liza sleep. She was praying.
The reader knows how Lavretsky had been brought up and educated. We
will now say a few words about Liza's education. She was ten years old
when her father died, who had troubled himself but little about her.
Overwhelmed with business, constantly absorbed in the pursuit of
adding to his income, a man of bilious temperament and a sour and
impatient nature, he never grudged paying for the teachers and tutors,
or for the dress and the other necessaries required by his children,
but he could not bear "to nurse his squallers," according to his own
expression--and, indeed, he never had any time for nursing them. He
used to work, become absorbed in business, sleep a little, play cards
on rare occasions, then work again. He often compared himself to a
horse yoked to a threshing machine. "My life has soon been spent," he
said on his death-bed, a bitter smile contracting his lips.
As to Maria Dmitrievna, she really troubled herself about Liza very
little more than her husband did, for all that she had taken credit to
herself, when speaking to Lavretsky, for having educated her children
herself. She used to dress her like a doll, and when visitors were
present, she would caress her and call her a good child and her
darling, and that was all. Every continuous care troubled that
During her father's lifetime, Liza was left in the hands of a
governess, a Mademoiselle Moreau, from Paris; but after his death she
passed under the care of Marfa Timofeevna. That lady is already known
to the reader. As for Mademoiselle Moreau, she was a very small woman,
much wrinkled, and having the manners of a bird, and the character of
a bird also. In her youth she had led a very dissipated life; in her
old age she retained only two passions--the love of dainties and the
love of cards. When her appetite was satiated, and when she was not
playing cards or talking nonsense, her countenance rapidly assumed an
almost death-like expression. She would sit and gaze and breathe, but
it was plain that there was not a single idea stirring in her mind.
She could not even be called good; goodness is not an attribute of
birds. In consequence either of her frivolous youth or of the air of
Paris, which she had breathed from her childhood's days, there was
rooted in her a kind of universal scepticism, which usually found
expression in the words, "_Tout ca c'est des betises_." She spoke an
incorrect, but purely Parisian jargon, did not talk scandal, and had
no caprices--what more could one expect from a governess? Over Liza
she had but little influence. All the more powerful, then, was the
influence exercised over the child by her nurse, Agafia Vlasievna.
That woman's story was a remarkable one. She sprang from a family of
peasants, and was married at sixteen to a peasant; but she stood out
in sharp relief against the mass of her peasant sisters. As a child,
she had been spoilt by her father, who had been for twenty years the
head of his commune, and who had made a good deal of money. She was
singularly beautiful, and for grace and taste she was unsurpassed in
the whole district, and she was intelligent, eloquent, and courageous.
Her master, Dmitry Pestof, Madame Kalitine's father, a quiet and
reserved man, saw her one day on the threshing-floor, had a talk with
her, and fell passionately in love with her. Soon after this she
became a widow. Pestof, although he was a married man, took her into
his house, and had her dressed like one of the household. Agafia
immediately made herself at home in her new position, just as if she
had never led a different kind of life. Her complexion grew fairer,
her figure became more rounded, and her arms, under their muslin
sleeves, showed "white as wheat-flour," like those of a wealthy
tradesman's wife. The _samovar_ never quitted her table; she would
wear nothing but silks and velvets; she slept on feather-beds of down.
This happy life lasted five years; then Dmitry Pestof died. His widow,
a lady of a kindly character, respected the memory of her late husband
too much to wish to treat her rival with ignominy, especially as
Agafia had never forgotten herself in her presence; but she married
her to a herdsman, and sent her away from her sight. Three years
passed by. One hot summer day the lady happened to pay a visit to the
cattle-yard. Agafia treated her to such a cool dish of rich cream,
behaved herself so modestly, and looked so clean, so happy, so
contented with every thing, that her mistress informed her that she
was pardoned, and allowed her to return into the house. Before six
months had passed, the lady had become, so attached to her that she
promoted her to the post of housekeeper, and confided all the domestic
arrangements to her care. Thus Agafia came back into power, and again
became fair and plump. Her mistress trusted her implicitly.
So passed five more years. Then misfortune came a second time on
Agafia. Her husband, for whom she had obtained a place as footman,
took to drink, began to absent himself from the house, and ended by
stealing half-a-dozen of his mistress's silver spoons and hiding them,
till a fitting opportunity should arise for carrying them off in his
wife's box. The theft was found out. He was turned into a herdsman
again, and Agafia fell into disgrace. She was not dismissed from the
house, but she was degraded from the position of housekeeper to that
of a needle-woman, and she was ordered to wear a handkerchief on her
head instead of a cap. To every one's astonishment, Agafia bore the
punishment inflicted on her with calm humility. By this time she was
about thirty years old, all her children were dead, and her husband
soon afterwards died also. The season of reflection had arrived for
her, and she did reflect. She became very silent and very devout,
never once letting matins or mass go unheeded by, and she gave away
all her fine clothes. For fifteen years she led a quiet, grave,
peaceful life, quarrelling with no one, giving way to all. If any one
spoke to her harshly, she only bent her head and returned thanks for
the lesson. Her mistress had forgiven her long ago, and had taken the
ban off her--had even given her a cap off her own head to wear. But
she herself refused to doff her handkerchief, and she would never
consent to wear any but a sombre-colored dress. After the death of her
mistress she became even more quiet and more humble than before. It is
easy to work upon a Russian's fears and to secure his attachment, but
it is difficult to acquire his esteem; that he will not readily give,
nor will he give it to every one. But the whole household esteemed
Agafia. No one even so much as remembered her former faults; it was as
if they had been buried in the grave with her old master.
When Kalitine married Maria Dmitrievna, he wanted to entrust the
care of his household to Agafia; but she refused, "on account of
temptation." He began to scold her, but she only bowed low and left
the room. The shrewd Kalitine generally understood people; so he
understood Agafia's character, and did not lose sight of her. When he
settled in town, he appointed her, with her consent, to the post of
nurse to Liza, who was then just beginning her fifth year.
At first Liza was frightened by the serious, even severe, face of her
new nurse; but she soon became accustomed to her, and learned to
love her warmly. The child was of a serious disposition herself. Her
features called to mind Kalitine's regular and finely-moulded face,
but her eyes were not like those of her father; they shone with a
quiet light, expressive of an earnest goodness that is rarely seen in
children. She did not care about playing with dolls; she never laughed
loudly nor long, and a feeling of self-respect always manifested
itself in her conduct. It was not often that she fell into a reverie,
but when she did so there was almost always good reason for it; then
she would keep silence for a time, but generally ended by addressing
to some person older than herself a question which showed that her
mind had been working under the influence of a new impression. She
very soon got over her childish lisp, and even before she was four
years old she spoke with perfect distinctness. She was afraid of her
father. As for her mother, she regarded her with a feeling which she
could scarcely define, not being afraid of her, but not behaving
towards her caressingly. As for that, she did not caress even her
nurse, although she loved her with her whole heart. She and Agafia
were never apart. It was curious to see them together. Agafia, all in
black, with a dark handkerchief on her head, her face emaciated and of
a wax-like transparency, but still beautiful and expressive, would
sit erect on her chair, knitting stockings. At her feet Liza would be
sitting on a little stool, also engaged in some work, or, her clear
eyes uplifted with a serious expression, listening to what Agafia was
telling her. Agafia never told her nursery tales. With a calm and even
voice, she used to tell her about the life of the Blessed Virgin, or
the lives of the hermits and people pleasing to God, or about the
holy female martyrs. She would tell Liza how the saints lived in the
deserts; how they worked out their salvation, enduring hunger and
thirst; and how they did not fear kings, but confessed Christ; and how
the birds of the air brought them food, and the wild beasts obeyed
them; how from those spots where their blood had fallen flowers sprang
up. ("Were they carnations?" once asked Liza, who was very fond of
flowers.) Agafia spoke about these things to Liza seriously and
humbly, as if she felt that it was not for her to pronounce such
grand and holy words; and as Liza listened to her, the image of the
Omnipresent, Omniscient God entered with a sweet influence into her
very soul, filling her with a pure and reverend dread, and Christ
seemed to her to be close to her, and to be a friend, almost, as
it were, a relation. It was Agafia, also, who taught her to pray.
Sometimes she awoke Liza at the early dawn, dressed her hastily, and
secretly conveyed her to matins. Liza would follow her on tiptoe,
scarcely venturing to breathe. The cold, dim morning light, the raw
air pervading the almost empty church, the very secrecy of those
unexpected excursions, the cautious return home to bed--all that
combination of the forbidden, the strange, the holy, thrilled the
young girl, penetrated to the inmost depths of her being.
Agafia never blamed any one, and she never scolded Liza for any
childish faults. When she was dissatisfied about anything, she merely
kept silence, and Liza always understood that silence. With a child's
quick instinct, she also knew well when Agafia was dissatisfied
with others, whether it were with Maria Dmitrievna or with Kalitine
For rather more than three years Agafia waited upon Liza. She was
replaced by Mademoiselle Moreau; but the frivolous Frenchwoman, with
her dry manner and her constant exclamation, _Tout ca c'est des
betises_! could not expel from Liza's heart the recollection of her
much-loved nurse. The seeds that had been sown had pushed their roots
too far for that. After that Agafia, although she had ceased to attend
Liza, remained for some time longer in the house, and often saw her
pupil, and treated her as she had been used to do.
But when Marfa Timofeevna entered the Kalitines' house, Agafia did not
get on well with her. The austere earnestness of the former "wearer of
the coarse petticoat." [Footnote: The _Panovnitsa_, or wearer of the
_Panovna_, a sort of petticoat made of a coarse stuff of motley hue.]
did not please the impatient and self-willed old lady. Agafia obtained
leave to go on a pilgrimage, and she never came back. Vague rumors
asserted that she had retired into a schismatic convent. But the
impression left by her on Liza's heart did not disappear. Just as
before, the girl went to mass, as if she were going to a festival; and
when in church prayed with enthusiasm, with a kind of restrained and
timid rapture, at which her mother secretly wondered not a little.
Even Marfa Timofeevna, although she never put any constraint upon
Liza, tried to induce her to moderate her zeal, and would not let her
make so many prostrations. It was not a lady-like habit, she said.
Liza was a good scholar, that is, a persevering one; she was not
gifted with a profound intellect, or with extraordinarily brilliant
faculties, and nothing yielded to her without demanding from her no
little exertion. She was a good pianiste, but no one else, except
Lemm, knew how much that accomplishment had cost her. She did not read
much, and she had no "words of her own;" but she had ideas of her
own, and she went her own way. In this matter, as well as in personal
appearance, she may have taken after her father, for he never used to
ask any one's advice as to what he should do.
And so she grew up, and So did her life pass, gently and tranquilly,
until she had attained her nineteenth year. She was very charming, but
she was not conscious of the fact. In all her movements, a natural,
somewhat unconventional, grace, revealed itself; in her voice there
sounded the silver notes of early youth. The slightest pleasurable
sensation would bring a fascinating smile to her lips, and add a
deeper light, a kind of secret tenderness, to her already lustrous
eyes. Kind and soft-hearted, thoroughly penetrated by a feeling of
duty, and a fear of injuring any one in any way, she was attached to
all whom she knew, but to no one person in particular. To God
alone did she consecrate her love--loving Him with a timid, tender
enthusiasm. Until Lavretsky came, no one had troubled the calmness of
her inner life.
Such was Liza.
About the middle of the next day Lavretsky went to the Kalitines'. On
his way there he met Panshine, who galloped past on horseback, his
hat pulled low over his eyes. At the Kalitines', Lavretsky was not
admitted, for the first time since he had made acquaintance with the
family. Maria Dmitrievna was asleep, the footman declared; her head
ached, Marfa Timofeevna and Lizaveta Mikhailovna were not at home.
Lavretsky walked round the outside of the garden in the vague hope of
meeting Liza, but he saw no one. Two hours later he returned to the
house, but received the same answer as before; moreover, the footman
looked at him in a somewhat marked manner. Lavretsky thought it would
be unbecoming to call three times in one day, so he determined to
drive out to Vasilievskoe, where, moreover, he had business to
On his way there he framed various plans, each one more charming than
the rest. But on his arrival at his aunt's estate, sadness took hold
of him. He entered into conversation with Anton; but the old man, as
if purposely, would dwell on none but gloomy ideas. He told Lavretsky
how Glafira Petrovna, just before her death, had bitten her own hand.
And then, after an interval of silence, he added with a sigh, "Every
man, _barin batyushka_,[A] is destined to devour himself."
[Footnote A: Seigneur, father.]
It was late in the day before Lavretsky set out on his return. The
music he had heard the night before came back into his mind, and the
image of Liza dawned on his heart in all its sweet serenity. He was
touched by the thought that she loved him; and he arrived at his
little house in the town, tranquillized and happy.
The first thing that struck him when he entered the vestibule, was a
smell of patchouli, a perfume he disliked exceedingly. He observed
that a number of large trunks and boxes were standing there, and he
thought there was a strange expression on the face of the servant who
hastily came to meet him. He did not stop to analyze his impressions,
but went straight into the drawing-room.
A lady, who wore a black silk dress with flounces, and whose pale face
was half hidden by a cambric handkerchief, rose from the sofa, took
a few steps to meet him, bent her carefully-arranged and perfumed
locks--and fell at his feet. Then for the first time, he recognized
her. That lady was his wife!
His breathing stopped. He leaned against the wall.
"Do not drive me from you, Theodore!" she said in French; and her
voice cut him to the heart like a knife. He looked at her without
comprehending what he saw, and yet, at the same time, he involuntarily
remarked that she had grown paler and stouter.
"Theodore!" she continued, lifting her eyes from time to time towards
heaven, her exceedingly pretty fingers, tipped with polished nails of
rosy hue, writhing the while in preconcerted agonies--"Theodore, I am
guilty before you--deeply guilty. I will say more--I am a criminal;
but hear what I have to say. I am tortured by remorse; I have become a
burden to myself; I can bear my position no longer. Ever so many times
I have thought of addressing you, but I was afraid of your anger. But
I have determined to break every tie with the past--_puis, j'ai ete si
malade_. I was so ill," she added, passing her hand across her brow
and cheek, "I took advantage of the report which was spread abroad
of my death, and I left everything. Without stopping anywhere, I
travelled day and night to come here quickly. For a long time I was in
doubt whether to appear before you, my judge--_paraitre devant vous
man juge_; but at last I determined to go to you, remembering your
constant goodness. I found out your address in Moscow. Believe me,"
she continued, quietly rising from the ground and seating herself upon
the very edge of an arm-chair, "I often thought of death, and I
could have found sufficient courage in my heart to deprive myself of
life--ah! life is an intolerable burden to me now--but the thought of
my child, my little Ada, prevented me. She is here now; she is asleep
in the next room, poor child. She is tired out You will see her,
won't you? She, at all events, is innocent before you; and so
unfortunate--so unfortunate!" exclaimed Madame Lavretsky, and melted
Lavretsky regained his consciousness at last. He stood away from the
wall, and turned towards the door.
"You are going away?" exclaimed his wife, in accents of despair. "Oh,
that is cruel! without saying a single word to me--not even one of
reproach! This contempt kills me; it is dreadful!"
"What do you want me to say to you?" he said in a hollow tone.
"Nothing--nothing!" she cried with animation. "I know that I have no
right to demand anything. I am no fool, believe me. I don't hope, I
don't dare to hope, for pardon. I only venture to entreat you to tell
me what I ought to do, where I ought to live. I will obey your orders
like a slave, whatever they may be."
"I have no orders to give," replied Lavretsky in the same tone as
before. "You know that all is over between us--and more than ever now.
You can live where you like; and if your allowance is too small--"
"Ah, don't say such terrible things!" she said, interrupting him.
"Forgive me, if only--if only for the sake of this angel."
And having uttered these words, Varvara Pavlovna suddenly rushed
into the other room, and immediately returned with a very
tastefully-dressed little girl in her arms. Thick flaxen curls fell
about the pretty little rosy face and over the great black, sleepy
eyes of the child, who smilingly blinked at the light, and held on to
her mother's neck by a chubby little arm.
"_Ada, vois, c'est ton pere_," said Varvara Pavlovna, removing
the curls from the child's eyes, and kissing her demonstratively.
"_Prie-le avec moi_."
"_C'est la, papa_?" the little girl lispingly began to stammer.
"_Oui, mon enfant, n'est-ce pas que tu l'aimes_?"
But the interview had become intolerable to Lavretsky. ;'
"What melodrama is it just such a scene occurs; in?" he muttered, and
left the room.
Varvara Pavlovna remained standing where she was for some time, then
she slightly shrugged her shoulders, took the little girl back into
the other room, undressed her, and put her to bed. Then she took a
book and sat down near the lamp. There she waited about an hour, but
at last she went to bed herself.
"_Eh bien, madame_?" asked her maid,--a Frenchwoman whom she had
brought with her from Paris,--as she unlaced her stays.
"_Eh bien_, Justine!" replied Varvara Pavlovna. "He has aged a great
deal, but I think he is just as good as ever. Give me my gloves for
the night, and get the gray dress, the high one, ready for to-morrow
morning--and don't forget the mutton cutlets for Ada. To be sure it
will be difficult to get them here, but we must try."
"_A la guerre comme a la guerre_!" replied Justine as she put out the