Part 4 out of 5
For more than two hours Lavretsky wandered about the streets. The
night he had spent in the suburbs of Paris came back into his mind.
His heart seemed rent within him, and his brain felt vacant and as it
were numbed, while the same set of evil, gloomy, mad thoughts went
ever circling in his mind. "She is alive; she is here," he whispered
to himself with constantly recurring amazement. He felt that he had
lost Liza. Wrath seemed to suffocate him. The blow had too suddenly
descended upon him. How could he have so readily believed the foolish
gossip of a _feuilleton_, a mere scrap of paper? "But if I had not
believed it," he thought, "what would have been the difference? I
should not have known that Liza loves me. She would not have known it
herself." He could not drive the thought of his wife out of his mind;
her form, her voice, her eyes haunted him. He cursed himself, he
cursed every thing in the world.
Utterly tired out, he came to Lemm's house before the dawn. For a
long time he could not get the door opened; at last the old man's
nightcapped head appeared at the window. Peevish and wrinkled, his
face bore scarcely any resemblance to that which, austerely inspired,
had looked royally down upon Lavretsky twenty-four hours before, from
all the height of its artistic grandeur.
"What do you want?" asked Lemm. "I cannot play every night. I have
taken a _tisane_."
But Lavretsky's face wore a strong expression which could not escape
notice. The old man shaded his eyes with his hand, looked hard at his
nocturnal visitor, and let him in.
Lavretsky came into the room and dropped on a chair. The old man
remained standing before him, wrapping the skirts of his motley old
dressing-gown around him, stooping very much, and biting his lips.
"My wife has come," said Lavretsky, with drooping head, and then he
suddenly burst into a fit of involuntary laughter.
Lemm's face expressed astonishment, but he preserved a grave silence,
only wrapping his dressing-gown tighter around him.
"I suppose you don't know," continued Lavretsky. "I supposed--I saw in
a newspaper that she was dead."
"O--h! Was it lately you saw that?" asked Lemm.
"O--h!" repeated the old man, raising his eyebrows, "and she has come
"Yes. She is now in my house, and I--I am a most unfortunate man."
And he laughed again.
"You are a most unfortunate man," slowly repeated Lemm.
"Christopher Fedorovich," presently said Lavretsky, "will you
undertake to deliver a note?"
"Hm! To whom, may I ask?"
"Ah! yes, yes, I understand. Very well. But when must the note be
"To-morrow, as early as possible."
"Hm! I might send my cook, Katrin. No, I will go myself."
"And will you bring me back the answer?"
"Yes, my poor young friend," he said, "you certainly are--a most
unfortunate young man."
Lavretsky wrote a few words to Liza, telling her of his wife's
arrival, and begging her to make an appointment for an interview. Then
he flung himself on the narrow sofa, with his face to the wall.
The old man also lay down on his bed, and there long tossed about,
coughing and swallowing mouthfuls of his _tisane_.
The morning came; they both arose--strange were the looks they
exchanged. Lavretsky would have liked to kill himself just then.
Katrin the cook brought them some bad coffee, and then, when eight
o'clock struck, Lemm put on his hat and went out saying that he was
to have given a lesson at the Kalitines' at ten o'clock, but that he
would find a fitting excuse for going there sooner.
Lavretsky again threw himself on the couch, and again a bitter laugh
broke out from the depths of his heart. He thought of how his wife had
driven him out of the house; he pictured to himself Liza's position,
and then he shut his eyes, and wrung his hands above his head.
At length Lemm returned and brought him a scrap of paper, on which
Liza had traced the following words in pencil: "We cannot see each
other to-day; perhaps we may to-morrow evening. Farewell." Lavretsky
thanked Lemm absently and stiffly, and then went home.
He found his wife at breakfast. Ada, with her hair all in curl-papers,
and dressed in a short white frock with blue ribbons, was eating
a mutton cutlet. Varvara Pavlovna rose from her seat the moment
Lavretsky entered the room, and came towards him with an expression of
humility on her face. He asked her to follow him into his study, and
when there he shut the door and began to walk up and down the room.
She sat down, folded her hands, and began to follow his movements with
eyes which were still naturally beautiful, besides having their lids
dyed a little.
For a long time Lavretsky could not begin what he had to say, feeling
that he had not complete mastery over himself. As for his wife, he saw
that she was not at all afraid of him, although she looked as if she
might at any moment go off into a fainting fit.
"Listen, Madame," at last he began, breathing with difficulty, and at
times setting his teeth hard. "There is no reason why we should be
hypocritical towards each other. I do not believe in your repentance;
but even if it were genuine, it would be impossible for me to rejoin
you and live with you again."
Varvara Pavlovna bit her lips and half closed her eyes. "That's
dislike," she thought. "It's all over. I'm not even a woman for him."
"Impossible," repeated Lavretsky, and buttoned his coat. "I don't know
why you have been pleased to honor me by coming here. Most probably
you are out of funds."
"Don't say that--you wound my feelings," whispered Varvara Pavlovna.
"However that may be, you are still, to my sorrow, my wife. I
cannot drive you away, so this is what I propose. You can go to
Lavriki--to-day if you like--and live there! There is an excellent
house there, as you know. You shall have every thing you can want,
besides your allowance. Do you consent?"
Varvara Pavlovna raised her embroidered handkerchief to her face.
"I have already told you," she said, with a nervous twitching of her
lips, "that I will agree to any arrangement you may please to make for
me. At present I have only to ask you--will you at least allow me to
thank you for your generosity?"
"No thanks, I beg of you--we shall do much better without them,"
hastily exclaimed Lavretsky. "Then, he added, approaching the door, I
may depend upon--"
"To-morrow I will be at Lavriki," replied Varvara Pavlovna, rising
respectfully from her seat. "But Fedor Ivanich--" ("She no longer
familiarly called him Theodore).
"What do you wish to say?"
"I am aware that I have not yet in any way deserved forgiveness. But
may I hope that, at least, in time--"
"Ah, Varvara Pavlovna," cried Lavretsky, interrupting her, "you are a
clever woman; but I, too, am not a fool. I know well that you have no
need of forgiveness. Besides, I forgave you long ago; but there has
always been a gulf between you and me."
"I shall know how to submit," answered Varvara Pavlovna, and bowed her
head. "I have not forgotten my fault. I should not have wondered if I
had learnt that you had even been glad to hear of my death," she added
in a soft voice, with a slight wave of her hand towards the newspaper,
which was lying on the table where Lavretsky had forgotten it.
Lavretsky shuddered. The _feuilleton_ had a pencil mark against it.
Varvara Pavlovna gazed at him with an expression of even greater
humility than before on her face. She looked very handsome at that
moment. Her grey dress, made by a Parisian milliner, fitted closely
to her pliant figure, which seemed almost like that of a girl of
seventeen. Her soft and slender neck, circled by a white collar, her
bosom's gentle movement under the influence of her steady breathing,
her arms and hands, on which she wore neither bracelets nor rings,
her whole figure, from her lustrous hair to the tip of the scarcely
visible _bottine_, all was so artistic!
Lavretsky eyed her with a look of hate, feeling hardly able to
abstain from crying _brava_, hardly able to abstain from striking her
down--and went away.
An hour later he was already on the road to Vasilievskoe, and two
hours later Varvara Pavlovna ordered the best carriage on hire in the
town to be got for her, put on a simple straw hat with a black veil,
and a modest mantilla, left Justine in charge of Ada, and went to the
Kalitines'. From the inquiries Justine had made, Madame Lavretsky had
learnt that her husband was in the habit of going there every day.
The day on which Lavretsky's wife arrived in O.--sad day for
him--was also a day of trial for Liza. Before she had had time to go
down-stairs and say good morning to her mother, the sound of a horse's
hoofs was heard underneath the window, and, with a secret feeling of
alarm, she saw Panshine ride into the court-yard. "It is to get a
definite answer that he has come so early," she thought; and she
was not deceived. After taking a turn through the drawing-room, he
proposed to go into the garden with her; and when there he asked her
how his fate was to be decided.
Liza summoned up her courage, and told him that she could not be his
wife. He listened to all she had to say, turning himself a little
aside, with his hat pressed down over his eyes. Then, with perfect
politeness, but in an altered tone, he asked her if that was her final
decision, and whether he had not, in some way or other, been the cause
of such a change in her ideas. Then he covered his eyes with his hand
for a moment, breathed one quick sigh, and took his hand away from his
"I wanted to follow the beaten track," he said sadly; "I wanted to
choose a companion for myself according to the dictates of my heart.
But I see that it is not to be. So farewell to my fancy!"
He made Liza a low bow, and went back into the house.
She hoped he would go away directly; but he went to her mother's
boudoir, and remained an hour with her. As he was leaving the house he
said to Liza, "_Votre mere vous appelle: Adieu a jamais_!" then he got
on his horse, and immediately set off at full gallop.
On going to her mother's room, Liza found her in tears. Panshine had
told her about his failure.
"Why should you kill me? Why should you kill me?" Thus did the
mortified widow begin her complaint. "What better man do you want? Why
is he not fit to be your husband? A chamberlain! and so disinterested
Why, at Petersburg he might marry any of the maids of honor! And I--I
had so longed for it. And how long is it since you changed your mind
about him? Wherever has this cloud blown from?--for it has never come
of its own accord. Surely it isn't that wiseacre? A pretty adviser you
have found, if that's the case!"
"And as for him, my poor, dear friend," continued Maria Dmitrievna,
"how respectful he was, how attentive, even in the midst of his
sorrow! He has promised not to desert me. Oh, I shall never be able to
bear this! Oh, my head is beginning to ache dreadfully! Send Palashka
here. You will kill me, if you don't think better of it. Do you hear?"
And then, after having told Liza two or three times that she was
ungrateful, Maria Dmitrievna let her go away.
Liza went to her room. But before she had had a moment's
breathing-time after her scene with Panshine and with her mother,
another storm burst upon her, and that from the quarter from which she
least expected it.
Marfa Timofeevna suddenly came into her room, and immediately shut the
door after her. The old lady's face was pale; her cap was all
awry; her eyes were flashing, her lips quivering. Liza was lost in
astonishment. She had never seen her shrewd and steady aunt in such a
"Very good, young lady!" Marfa Timofeevna began to whisper, with a
broken and trembling voice. "Very good! Only who taught that, my
mother--Give me some water; I can't speak."
"Do be calm, aunt. What is the matter?" said Liza, giving her a glass
of water. "Why, I thought you didn't like M. Panshine yourself."
Marfa Timofeevna pushed the glass away. "I can't drink it. I should
knock out my last teeth, if I tried. What has Panshine to do with it?
Whatever have we to do with Panshine? Much better tell me who taught
you to make appointments with people at night. Eh, my mother!"
Liza turned very pale.
"Don't try to deny it, please," continued Marfa Timofeevna. "Shurochka
saw it all herself, and told me. I've had to forbid her chattering,
but she never tells lies.".--
"I am not going to deny it, aunt," said Liza, in a scarcely audible
"Ah, ah! Then it is so, my mother. You made an appointment with him,
that old sinner, that remarkably sweet creature!"
"How was it, then?"
"I came down to the drawing-room to look for a book. He was in the
garden; and he called me."
"And you went? Very good, indeed! Perhaps you love him, then?"
"I do love him," said Liza quietly.
"Oh, my mothers! She does love him!" Here Marfa Timofeevna took off
her cap. "She loves a married man! Eh? Loves him!"
"He had told me--" began Liza.
"What he had told you, this little hawk? Eh, what?"
"He had told me that his wife was dead."
Marfa Timofeevna made the sign of the cross. "The kingdom of heaven be
to her," she whispered. "She was a frivolous woman. But don't let's
think about that. So that's how it is. I see, he's a widower. Oh yes,
he's going ahead. He has killed one wife, and now he's after a second.
A nice sort of person he is, to be sure. But, niece, let me tell you
this, in my young days things of this kind used to turn out very badly
for girls. Don't be angry with me, my mother. It's only tools who are
angry with the truth. I've even told them not to let him in to see me
to-day. I love him, but I shall never forgive him for this. So he is
a widower! Give me some water. But as to your putting Panshine's nose
out of joint, why I think you're a good girl for that. But don't go
sitting out at night with men creatures. Don't make me wretched in my
old age, and remember that I'm not altogether given over to fondling.
I can bite, too--A widower!"
Marfa Timofeevna went away, and Liza sat down in a corner, and cried a
long time. Her heart was heavy within her. She had not deserved to be
so humiliated. It was not in a joyous manner that love had made itself
known to her. It was for the second time since yesterday morning that
she was crying now. This new and unlooked-for feeling had only just
sprung into life within her heart, and already how deafly had she had
to pay for it, how roughly had other hands dealt with her treasured
secret! She felt ashamed, and hurt, and unhappy; but neither doubt nor
fear troubled her, and Lavretsky became only still dearer to her. She
had hesitated so long as she was not sure of her own feelings; but
after that interview, after that kiss--she could no longer hesitate.
She knew now that she loved, and that she loved earnestly, honestly;
she knew that her's was a firm attachment, one which would last for
her whole life. As for threats, she did not fear them. She felt that
this tie was one which no violence could break.
Maria Dmitrievna was greatly embarrassed when she was informed that
Madame Lavretsky was at the door. She did not even know whether she
ought to receive her, being afraid of offending Lavretsky; but at last
curiosity prevailed. "After all," she thought, "she is a relation,
too." So she seated herself in an easy chair, and said to the footman,
"Show her in."
A few minutes went by, then the door was thrown open, and Varvara
Pavlovna, with a swift and almost noiseless step, came up to Maria
Dmitrievna, and, without giving her time to rise from her chair,
almost went down upon her knees before her.
"Thank you, aunt," she began in Russian, speaking softly, but in a
tone of deep emotion. "Thank you; I had not even dared to hope that
you would condescend so far. You are an angel of goodness."
Having said this, Varvara Pavlovna unexpectedly laid hold of one of
Maria Dmitrievna's hands, gently pressed it between her pale-lilac
Jouvin's gloves, and then lifted it respectfully to her pouting, rosy
lips. Maria Dmitrievna was entirely carried away by the sight of such
a handsome and exquisitely dressed woman almost at her feet, and did
not know what position to assume. She felt half inclined to draw back
her hand, half inclined to make her visitor sit down, and to say
something affectionate to her. She ended by rising from her chair and
kissing Varvara's smooth and perfumed forehead.
Varvara appeared to be totally overcome by that kiss.
"How do you do? _bonjour_," said Maria Dmitrievna. "I never
imagined--however, I'm really delighted to see you. You will
understand, my dear, it is not my business to be judge between a man
and his wife."
"My husband is entirely in the right," said Varvara Pavlovna,
interrupting her, "I alone am to blame."
"Those are very praiseworthy sentiments, very," said Maria Dmitrievna.
"Is it long since you arrived? Have you seen him? But do sit down."
"I arrived yesterday," answered Varvara Pavlovna, seating herself on a
chair in an attitude expressive of humility. "I have seen my husband,
and I have spoken with him."
"Ah! Well, and what did he say?"
"I was afraid that my coming so suddenly might make him angry,"
continued Varvara Pavlovna; "but he did not refuse to see me."
"That is to say, he has not--Yes, yes, I understand," said Maria
Dmitrievna. "It is only outwardly that he seems a little rough; his
heart is really soft."
"Fedor Ivanovich has not pardoned me. He did not want to listen to me.
But he has been good enough to let me have Lavriki to live in."
"Ah, a lovely place!"
"I shall set off there to-morrow, according to his desire. But I
considered it a duty to pay you a visit first."
"I am very, very much obliged to you my dear. One ought never to
forget one's relations. But do you know I am astonished at your
speaking Russian so well. _C'est etonnant_."
Varvara Pavlovna smiled.
"I have been too long abroad, Maria Dmitrievna, I am well aware of
that. But my heart has always been Russian, and I have not forgotten
my native land."
"Yes, yes. There's nothing like that. Your husband certainly didn't
expect you in the least. Yes, trust my experience--_la patrie avant
tout_. Oh! please let me! What a charming mantilla you have on!"
"Do you like it?" Varvara took it quickly off her shoulders. "It is
very simple; one of Madame Baudran's."
"One can see that at a glance. How lovely, and in what exquisite
taste! I feel sure you've brought a number of charming things with
you. How I should like to see them!"
"All my toilette is at your service, dearest aunt. I might show your
maid something if you liked. I have brought a maid from Paris, a
"You are exceedingly good, my dear. But, really, I haven't the
"Haven't the conscience!" repeated Varvara Pavlovna, in a reproachful
tone. "If you wish to make me happy, you will dispose of me as if I
belonged to you."
Maria Dmitrievna fairly gave way.
"_Vous etes charmante_," she said. But why don't you take off your
bonnet and gloves?"
"What! You allow me?" asked Varvara Pavlovna, gently clasping her
hands with an air of deep emotion.
"Of course. You will dine with us, I hope. I--I will introduce my
daughter to you." (Maria Dmitrievna felt embarrassed for a moment, but
then, "Well, so be it," she thought.) "She happens not to be quite
"Oh! _ma tante_, how kind you are!" exclaimed Varvara Pavlovna,
lifting her handkerchief to her eyes.
At this moment the page announced Gedeonovsky's arrival, and the
old gossip came in smiling, and bowing profoundly. Maria Dmitrievna
introduced him to her visitor. At first he was somewhat abashed, but
Varvara Pavlovna behaved to him with such coquettish respectfulness
that his ears soon began to tingle, and amiable speeches and gossiping
stories began to flow uninterruptedly from his lips.
Varvara Pavlovna listened to him, slightly smiling at times, then by
degrees she too began to talk. She spoke in a modest way about Paris,
about her travels, about Baden; she made Maria Dmitrievna laugh two or
three times, and each time she uttered a gentle sigh afterwards, as if
she were secretly reproaching herself for her unbecoming levity; she
asked leave to bring Ada to the house; she took off her gloves, and
with her smooth white hands she pointed out how and where flounces,
ruches, lace, and so forth, were worn; she promised to bring a bottle
of new English scent--the Victoria essence--and was as pleased as a
child when Maria Dmitrievna consented to accept it as a present;
and she melted into tears at the remembrance of the emotion she had
experienced when she heard the first Russian bells.
"So profoundly did they sink into my very heart," she said.
At that moment Liza came into the room.
All that day, ever since the moment when, cold with dismay, Liza had
read Lavretsky's note, she had been preparing herself for an interview
with his wife. She foresaw that she would see her, and she determined
not to avoid her, by way of inflicting upon herself a punishment for
what she considered her culpable hopes. The unexpected crisis which
had taken place in her fate had profoundly shaken her. In the course
of about a couple of hours her face seemed to have grown thin. But
she had not shed a single tear. "It is what you deserve," she said to
herself, repressing, though not without difficulty, and at the cost
of considerable agitation, certain bitter thoughts and evil impulses
which frightened her as they arose in her mind. "Well, I must go," she
thought, as soon as she heard of Madame Lavretsky's arrival, and she
She stood outside the drawing-room door for a long time before she
could make up her mind to open it At last, saying to herself, "I am
guilty before her," she entered the room, and forced herself to look
at her, even forced herself to smile. Varvara Pavlovna came forward to
meet her as soon as she saw her come in, and made her a slight, but
still a respectful salutation.
"Allow me to introduce myself," she began, in an insinuating tone."
Your mamma has been so indulgent towards me that I hope that you too
will be--good to me."
The expression of Varvara Pavlovna's face as she uttered these last
words, her cunning smile, her cold and, at the same time, loving look,
the movements of her arms and shoulders, her very dress, her whole
being, aroused such a feeling of repugnance in Liza's mind that she
absolutely could not answer her, and only by a strong effort could
succeed in holding out her hand to her. "This young lady dislikes me,"
thought Varvara Pavlovna, as she squeezed Liza's cold fingers, then,
turning to Maria Dmitrievna, she said in a half whisper. "_Mais elle
Liza faintly reddened. In that exclamation she seemed to detect a tone
of irony and insult. However, she determined not to trust to that
impression, and she took her seat at her embroidery frame near the
Even there Varvara Pavlovna would not leave her in peace. She came to
her, and began to praise her cleverness and taste. Liza's heart began
to beat with painful force. Scarcely could she master her feelings,
scarcely could she remain sitting quietly in her place. It seemed to
her as if Varvara Pavlovna knew all and were mocking her with secret
triumph. Fortunately for her, Gedeonovsky began to talk to Varvara
and diverted her attention. Liza bent over her frame and watched her
without being observed. "That woman," she thought, "was once loved by
_him_." But then she immediately drove out of her mind even so much as
the idea of Lavretsky. She felt her head gradually beginning to swim,
and she was afraid of losing command over herself. Maria Dmitrievna
began to talk about music.
"I have heard, my dear," she began, "that you are a wonderful
"I haven't played for a long time," replied Varvara Pavlovna, but she
immediately took her seat at the piano and ran her fingers rapidly
along the keys. "Do you wish me to play?"
"If you will do us that favor."
Varvara Pavlovna played in a masterly style a brilliant and difficult
study by Herz. Her performance was marked by great power and rapidity.
"_A sylphide_!" exclaimed Gedeonovsky.
"It is wonderful!" declared Maria Dmitrievna. "I must confess you have
fairly astonished me, Varvara Pavlovna," calling that lady by her name
for the first time. "Why you might give concerts. We have a musician
here, an old German, very learned and quite an original. He gives Liza
lessons. You would simply make him go out of his mind."
"Is Lizaveta Mikhailovna also a musician?" asked Madame Lavretsky,
turning her head a little towards her.
"Yes; she doesn't play badly, and she is very fond I of music. But
what does that signify in comparison with you? But we have a young man
here besides. You really must make his acquaintance. He is a thorough
artist in feeling, and he composes charmingly. He is the only person
here who can fully appreciate you"
"A young man?" said Varvara Pavlovna. "What is he? Some poor fellow?"
"I beg your pardon. He is the leading cavalier here, and not here
only--_et a Petersbourg_--a chamberlain, received in the best society.
You surely must have heard of him--Vladimir Nikolaevich Panshine. He
is here on government business--a future minister!"
"And an artist too?"
"An artist in feeling, and so amiable. You shall see him. He has
been here a great deal for some time past. I asked him to come this
evening. I _hope_ he will come," added Maria Dmitrievna with a slight
sigh and a bitter smile.
Liza understood the hidden meaning of that smile, but she had other
things to think about then.
"And he's young?" repeated Varvara Pavlovna, lightly modulating from
key to key.
"Twenty-eight years old--and a most pleasing exterior. _Un jeune homme
"A model young man, one may say," remarked Gedeonovsky.
Varvara Pavlovna suddenly began to play a noisy waltz by Strauss,
beginning with so loud and quick a trill that Gedeonovsky fairly
started. Right in the middle of the waltz she passed abruptly into a
plaintive air, and ended with the _Fra poco_ out of _Lucia_. She had
suddenly remembered that joyful music was not in keeping with her
Maria Dmitrievna was deeply touched by the air from _Lucia_, in which
great stress was laid upon the sentimental passages.
"What feeling!" she whispered to Gedeonovsky.
"_A Sylphide_!" repeated Gedeonovsky, lifting his eyes to heaven.
The dinner hour arrived. Marfa Timofeevna did not come down from
up-stairs until the soup was already placed on the table. She behaved
very coldly to Varvara Pavlovna, answering her amiable speeches with
broken phrases, and never even looking at her. Varvara soon perceived
that there was no conversation to be got out of that old lady, so she
gave up talking to her. On the other hand Madame Kalitine became still
more caressing in her behavior towards her guest. She was vexed by her
After all, it was not only Varvara that the old lady would not look
at. She did not once look at Liza either, although her eyes almost
glowed with a meaning light. Pale, almost yellow, there she sat, with
compressed lips, looking as if she were made of stone, and would eat
As for Liza, she seemed calm, and was so in reality. Her heart was
quieter than it had been. A strange callousness, the callousness of
the condemned, had come over her.
During dinner Varvara Pavlovna said little. She seemed to have become
timid again, and her face wore an expression of modest melancholy.
Gedeonovsky was the only person who kept the conversation alive,
relating several of his stories, though from time to time he looked
timidly at Marfa Timofeevna and coughed. That cough always seized him
whenever he was going to embellish the truth in her presence. But this
time she did not meddle with him, never once interrupted him.
After dinner it turned out that Varvara Pavlovna was very fond of the
game of preference. Madame Kalitine was so pleased at this that she
felt quite touched and inwardly thought, "Why, what a fool Fedor
Ivanovich must be! Fancy not having been able to comprehend such a
She sat down to cards with Varvara and Gedeonov sky; but Marfa
Timofeevna carried off Liza to her room up-stairs, saying that the
girl "had no face left," and she was sure her head must be aching.
"Yes, her head aches terribly," said Madame Kalitine, addressing
Varvara Pavlovna, and rolling her eyes. "I often have such headaches
"Really!" answered Varvara Pavlovna.
Liza entered her aunt's room, and sank on a chair perfectly worn out.
For a long time Marfa Timofeevna looked at her in silence, then she
quietly knelt down before her, and began, still quite silently, to
kiss her hands--first one, and then the other.
Liza bent forwards and reddened--then she began to cry; but she did
not make her aunt rise, nor did she withdraw her hands from her. She
felt that she had no right to withdraw them--had no right to prevent
the old lady from expressing her sorrow, her sympathy--from asking
to be pardoned for what had taken place the day before. And Marfa
Timofeevna could not sufficiently kiss those poor, pale, nerveless
hands; while silent tears poured down from her eyes and from Liza's
too. And the cat, Matros, purred in the large chair by the side of the
stocking and the ball of worsted; the long, thin flame of the little
lamp feebly wavered in front of the holy picture; and in the next
room, just the other side of the door, stood Nastasia Carpovna, and
furtively wiped her eyes with a check pocket-handkerchief, rolled up
into a sort of ball.
Down-stairs, meanwhile, the game of preference went on. Maria
Dmitrievna was winning, and was in a very good humor. A servant
entered and announced Panshine's arrival. Maria Dmitrievna let fall
her cards, and fidgeted in her chair. Varvara Pavlovna looked at her
with a half-smile, and then turned her eyes towards the door.
Panshine appeared in a black dress-coat, buttoned all the way up, and
wearing a high English shirt-collar. "It was painful for me to obey;
but, you see, I have come;" that was what was expressed by his serious
face, evidently just shaved for the occasion.
"Why, Valdemar!" exclaimed Maria Dmitrievna, "you used always to come
in without being announced."
Panshine made no other reply than a look, and bowed politely to Maria
Dmitrievna, but did not kiss her hand. She introduced him to Varvara
Pavlovna. He drew back a pace, bowed to her with the same politeness
and with an added expression of respectful grace, and then took a seat
at the card-table. The game soon came to an end. Panshine asked after
Lizaveta Mikhailovna, and expressed his regret at hearing that she
was not quite well. Then he began to converse with Varvara Pavlovna,
weighing every word carefully and emphasizing it distinctly in true
diplomatic style, and, when she spoke, respectfully hearing her
answers to the end. But the seriousness of his diplomatic tone
produced no effect upon Varvara Pavlovna, who would have nothing to do
with it. On the contrary, she looked him full in the face with a sort
of smiling earnestness, and in talking with him seemed thoroughly at
her ease, while her delicate nostrils lightly quivered, as though with
Maria Dmitrievna began to extol Varvara's cleverness. Panshine bent
his head politely, as far as his shirt-collar permitted him, declared
that he had already been convinced of the exceptional nature of her
talents, and all but brought round the conversation to the subject of
Metternich himself. Varvara Pavlovna half-closed her velvety eyes,
and, having said in a low voice, "But you are an artist also, _un
confrere_," added still lower, "_Venez_!" and made a sign with her
head in the direction of the piano. This single word, "_Venez_!" so
abruptly spoken, utterly changed Panshine's appearance, as if by
magic, in a single moment. His care-worn air disappeared, he began to
smile, he became animated, he unbuttoned his coat, and, saying "I am
an artist! Not at all; but you, I hear, are an artist indeed," he
followed Varvara Pavlovna to the piano.
"Tell him to sing the romance, 'How the moon floats,'" exclaimed Maria
"You sing?" asked Varvara Pavlovna, looking at him with a bright and
rapid glance. "Sit down there."
Panshine began to excuse himself.
"Sit down," she repeated, tapping the back of the chair in a
He sat down, coughed, pulled up his shirt-collar, and sang his
"_Charmant_," said Varvara Pavlovna. "You sing admirably--_vous avez
du style_. Sing it again."
She went round to the other side of the piano, and placed herself
exactly opposite Panshine. He repeated his romance, giving a
melodramatic variation to his voice. Varvara looked at him steadily,
resting her elbows on the piano, with her white hands on a level with
her lips. The song ended, "_Charmant! Charmante idee_," she said, with
the quiet confidence of a connoisseur. "Tell me, have you written
anything for a woman's voice--a mezzo-soprano?"
"I scarcely write anything," answered Panshine. "I do so only now and
then--between business hours. But do you sing?"
"Oh yes! do sing us something," said Maria Dmitrievna.
Varvara Pavlovna tossed her head, and pushed her hair back from her
flushed cheeks. Then, addressing Panshine, she said--
"Our voices ought to go well together. Let us sing a duet. Do you know
'_Son geloso_,' or '_La ci darem_,' or '_Mira la bianca luna_?'"
"I used to sing '_Mira la bianca luna_,'" answered Panshine; but it
was a long time ago. I have forgotten it now."
"Never mind, we will hum it over first by way of experiment. Let me
Varvara Pavlovna sat down to the piano. Panshine stood by her side.
They hummed over the duet, Varvara Pavlovna correcting him several
times; then they sang it out loud, and afterwards repeated it
twice--"_Mira la bianca lu-u-una_." Varvara's voice had lost its
freshness, but she managed it with great skill. At first Panshine
was nervous, and sang rather false, but afterwards he experienced an
artistic glow; and, if he did not sing faultlessly, at all events he
shrugged his shoulders, swayed his body to and fro, and from time to
time lifted his hand aloft, like a genuine vocalist.
Varvara Pavlovna afterwards played two or three little pieces by
Thalberg, and coquettishly chanted a French song. Maria Dmitrievna
did not know how to express her delight, and several times she felt
inclined to send for Liza. Gedeonovsky, too, could not find words
worthy of the occasion, and could only shake his head. Suddenly,
however, and quite unexpectedly, he yawned, and only just contrived to
hide his mouth with his hand.
That yawn did not escape Varvara's notice. She suddenly turned her
back upon the piano, saying, "_Assez de musique comme ca_; let us talk
a little," and crossed her hands before her.
"_Oui, asses de musique_," gladly repeated Panshine, and began a
conversation with her--a brisk and airy conversation, carried on
in French. "Exactly as if it were in one of the best Paris
drawing-rooms," thought Maria Dmitrievna, listening to their quick and
Panshine felt completely happy. He smiled, and his eyes shone. At
first, when he happened to meet Maria Dmitrievna's eyes, he would pass
his hand across his face and frown and sigh abruptly, but after a time
he entirely forgot her presence, and gave himself up unreservedly to
the enjoyment of a half-fashionable, half-artistic chat.
Varvara Pavlovna proved herself a great philosopher. She had an answer
ready for everything; she doubted nothing; she did not hesitate at
anything. It was evident that she had talked often and much with all
kinds of clever people. All her thoughts and feelings circled around
Paris. When Panshine made literature the subject of the conversation,
it turned out that she, like him, had read nothing but French books.
George Sand irritated her; Balzac she esteemed, although he wearied
her; to Eugene Sue and Scribe she ascribed a profound knowledge of the
human heart; Dumas and Feval she adored. In reality she preferred Paul
de Kock to all the others; but, as may be supposed, she did not even
mention his name. To tell the truth, literature did not interest her
Varvara Pavlovna avoided with great skill every thing that might, even
remotely, allude to her position. In all that she said, there was not
even the slightest mention made of love; on the contrary, her language
seemed rather to express an austere feeling with regard to the
allurements of the passions, and to breathe the accents of
disillusionment and resignation.
Panshine replied to her, but she refused to agree with him. Strange
to say, however, at the very time when she was uttering words which
conveyed what was frequently a harsh judgment, the accents of those
very words were tender and caressing, and her eyes expressed--What
those charming eyes expressed it would be hard to say, but it was
something which had no harshness about it, rather a mysterious
sweetness. Panshine tried to make out their hidden meaning, tried to
make his own eyes eloquent, but he was conscious that he failed. He
acknowledged that Varvara Pavlovna, in her capacity as a real lioness
from abroad, stood on a higher level than he; and, therefore, he was
not altogether master of himself.
Varvara Pavlovna had a habit of every now and then just touching the
sleeve of the person with whom she was conversing. These light touches
greatly agitated Panshine. She had the faculty of easily becoming
intimate with any one. Before a couple of hours had passed, it seemed
to Panshine as if he had known her an age, and as if Liza--that very
Liza whom he had loved so much, and to whom he had proposed the
evening before--had vanished in a kind of fog.
Tea was brought; the conversation became even more free from restraint
than before. Madame Kalitine rang for the page, and told him to ask
Liza to come down if her headache was better. At the sound of Liza's
name, Panshine began to talk about self-sacrifice, and to discuss the
question as to which is the more capable of such sacrifice--man or
woman. Maria Dmitrievna immediately became excited, began to affirm
that the woman is the more capable, asserted that she could prove
the fact in a few words, got confused over them, and ended with a
sufficiently unfortunate comparison. Varvara Pavlovna took up a sheet
of music, and half-screening her face with it, bent over towards
Panshine, and said in a whisper, while she nibbled a biscuit, a quiet
smile playing about her lips and her eyes, "_Elle n'a pas invente la
poudre, la bonne dame_."
Panshine was somewhat astonished, and a little alarmed by Varvara's
audacity, but he did not detect the amount of contempt for himself
that lay hid in that unexpected sally, and--forgetting all Maria
Dmitrievna's kindness and her attachment towards him, forgetting the
dinners she had given him, the money she had lent him--he replied
(unhappy mortal that he was) in the same tone, and with a similar
smile, "_Je crois bien_!" and what is more he did not even say "_Je
crois bien_!" but "_J'crois ben_!"
Varvara Pavlovna gave him a friendly look, and rose from her seat.
At that moment Liza entered the room. Marfa Timofeevna had tried to
prevent her going but in vain. Liza was resolved to endure her trial
to the end. Varvara Pavlovna advanced to meet her, attended by
Panshine, whose face again wore its former diplomatic expression.
"How are you now?" asked Varvara.
"I am better now, thank you," replied Liza.
"We have been passing the time with a little music," said Panshine.
"It is a pity you did not hear Varvara Pavlovna. She sings charmingly,
_en artiste consommee_."
"Come here, _ma chere_," said Madame Kalitine's voice.
With childlike obedience, Varvara immediately went to her, and sat
down on a stool at her feet. Maria Dmitrievna had called her away, in
order that she might leave her daughter alone with Panshine, if only
for a moment. She still hoped in secret that Liza would change her
mind. Besides this, an idea had come into her mind, which she wanted
by all means to express.
"Do you know," she whispered to Varvara Pavlovna, "I want to try and
reconcile you and your husband. I cannot promise to succeed, but I
will try. He esteems me very much, you know."
Varvara slowly looked up at Maria Dmitrievna, and gracefully clasped
her hands together.
"You would be my saviour, _ma tante_," she said, with a sad voice. "I
don't know how to thank you properly for all your kindness; but I am
too guilty before Fedor Ivanovich. He cannot forgive me."
"But did you actually--in reality--?" began Maria Dmitrievna, with
"Do not ask me," said Varvara, interrupting her, and then looked
down. "I was young, light headed--However, I don't wish to make
excuses for myself."
"Well, in spite of all that, why not make the attempt? Don't give way
to despair," replied Maria Dmitrievna, and was going to tap her on
the cheek, but looked at her, and was afraid. "She is modest and
discreet," she thought, "but, for all that, a _lionne_ still!"
"Are you unwell?" asked Panshine, meanwhile.
"I am not quite well," replied Liza.
"I understand," he said, after rather a long silence, "Yes, I
"What do you mean?"
"I understand," significantly repeated Panshine, who simply was at a
loss for something to say.
Liza felt confused, but then she thought, "What does it matter?"
Meanwhile Panshine assumed an air of mystery and maintained silence,
looking in a different direction with a grave expression on his face.
"Why I fancy it must be past eleven!" observed Maria Dmitrievna.
Her guests understood the hint and began to take leave. Varvara was
obliged to promise to come and dine to-morrow, and to bring Ada with
her. Gedeonovsky, who had all but gone to sleep as he sat in a corner,
offered to escort her home. Panshine bowed gravely to all the party;
afterwards, as he stood on the steps after seeing Varvara into her
carriage, he gave her hand a gentle pressure, and exclaimed, as
she drove away, "_Au revoir_!" Gedeonovsky sat by her side in the
carriage, and all the way home she amused herself by putting the tip
of her little foot, as if by accident, on his foot. He felt abashed,
and tried to make her complimentary speeches. She tittered, and made
eyes at him when the light from the street lamps shone Into the
carriage. The waltz she had played rang in her ears and excited her.
Wherever she might be she had only to imagine a ballroom and a blaze
of light, and swift circling round to the sound of music, and her
heart would burn within her, her eyes would glow with a strange
lustre, a smile would wander around her lips, a kind of bacchanalian
grace would seem to diffuse itself over her whole body.
When they arrived at her house Varvara lightly bounded from the
carriage, as only a _lionne_ could bound, turned towards Gedeonovsky,
and suddenly burst out laughing in his face.
"A charming creature," thought the councillor of state, as he made his
way home to his lodgings, where his servant was waiting for him with a
bottle of opodeldoc. "It's as well that I'm a steady man--But why did
All that night long Marfa Timofeevna sat watching by Liza's bedside.
Lavretsky spent a day and a half at Vasilievskoe, wandering about the
neighborhood almost all the time. He could not remain long in any one
place. His grief goaded him on. He experienced all the pangs of a
ceaseless, impetuous, and impotent longing. He remembered the feeling
which had come over him the day after his first arrival. He remembered
the resolution he had formed then, and he felt angrily indignant with
himself. What was it that had been able to wrest him aside from that
which he had acknowledged as his duty, the single problem of his
future life? The thirst after happiness--the old thirst after
happiness. "It seems that Mikhalevich was right after all," he
thought. "You wanted to find happiness in life once more," he said to
himself. "You forgot that for happiness to visit a man even once is
an undeserved favor, a steeping in luxury. Your happiness was
incomplete--was false, you may say. Well, show what right you have to
true and complete happiness! Look around you and see who is happy, who
enjoys his life! There is a peasant going to the field to mow. It may
be that he is satisfied with his lot. But what of that? Would you
be willing to exchange lots with him? Remember your own mother. How
exceedingly modest were her wishes, and yet what sort of a lot fell to
her share! You seem to have only been boasting before Panshine, when
you told him that you had come into Russia to till the soil. It was to
run after the girls in your old age that you came. Tidings of freedom,
reached you, and you flung aside every thing, forgot every thing, ran
like a child after a butterfly."
In the midst of his reflections the image of Liza constantly haunted
him. By a violent effort he tried to drive it away, and along with it
another haunting face, other beautiful but ever malignant and hateful
Old Anton remarked that his master was not quite himself; and after
sighing several times behind the door, and several times on the
threshold, he ventured to go up to him, and advised him to drink
something hot. Lavretsky spoke to him harshly, and ordered him out of
the room: afterwards he told the old man he was sorry he had done so;
but this only made Anton sadder than he had been before.
Lavretsky could not stop in the drawing-room. He fancied that his
great grandfather, Andrei, was looking out from his frame with
contempt on his feeble descendant. "So much for you! You float in
shallow water!"[A] the wry lips seemed to be saying to him. "Is it
possible," he thought, "that I cannot gain mastery over myself; that
I am going to yield to this--this trifling affair!" (Men who are
seriously wounded in a battle always think their wounds "a mere
trifle;" when a man can deceive himself no longer, it is time to give
up living). "Am I really a child? Well, yes I have seen near at
hand, I have almost grasped, the possibility of gaining a life-long
happiness--and then it has suddenly disappeared. It is just the same
in a lottery. Turn the wheel a little more, and the pauper would
perhaps be rich. If it is not to be, it is not to be--and all is over.
I will betake me to my work with set teeth, and I will force myself to
be silent; and I shall succeed, for it is not for the first time that
I take myself in hand. And why have I run away? Why do I stop here,
vainly hiding my head, like an ostrich? Misfortune a terrible thing to
look in the face! Nonsense!"
[Footnote A: See note to page 142.]
"Anton!" he called loudly, "let the tarantass be got ready
"Yes," he said to himself again. "I must compel myself to be silent; I
must keep myself tightly in hand."
With such reflections as these Lavretsky sought to assuage his sorrow;
but it remained as great and as bitter as before. Even Apraxia, who
had outlived, not only her intelligence, but almost all her faculties,
shook her head, and followed him with sad eyes as he started in
the tarantass for the town. The horses galloped. He sat erect and
motionless, and looked straight along the road.
Liza had written to Lavretsky the night before telling him to come and
see her on this evening; but he went to his own house first. He did
not find either his wife or his daughter there; and the servant told
him that they had both gone to the Kalitines'! This piece of news both
annoyed and enraged him. "Varvara Pavlovna seems to be determined not
to let me live in peace," he thought, an angry feeling stirring in
his heart. He began walking up and down the room, pushing away every
moment, with hand or foot, one of the toys or books or feminine
belongings which fell in his way. Then he called Justine, and told her
to take away all that "rubbish."
"_Oui, monsieur_," she replied, with a grimace, and began to set the
room in order, bending herself into graceful attitudes, and by each
of her gestures making Lavretsky feel that she considered him an
uncivilized bear. It was with a sensation of downright hatred that he
watched the mocking expression of her faded, but still _piquante_,
Parisian face, and looked at her white sleeves, her silk apron, and
her little cap. At last he sent her away, and, after long hesitation,
as Varvara Pavlovna did not return, he determined to go to the
Kalitines', and pay a visit, not to Madame Kalitine (for nothing would
have induced him to enter her drawing-room--that drawing-room in which
his wife was), but to Marfa Timofeevna. He remembered that a back
staircase, used by the maid-servants, led straight to her room.
Lavretsky carried out his plan. By a fortunate chance he met Shurochka
in the court-yard, and she brought him to Marfa Timofeevna. He found
the old lady, contrary to her usual custom, alone. She was without her
cap, and was sitting in a corner of the room in a slouching attitude,
her arms folded across her breast. When she saw Lavretsky, she was
much agitated, and jumping up hastily from her chair, she began going
here and there about the room, as if she were looking for her cap.
"Ah! so you have come, then," she said, fussing about and avoiding his
eyes. "Well, good day to you! Well, what's--what's to be done? Where
were you yesterday? Well, she has come. Well--yes. Well, it must
be--somehow or other."
Lavretsky sank upon a chair.
"Well, sit down, sit down," continued the old lady. "Did you come
straight up-stairs? Yes, of course. Eh! You came to see after me? Many
The old lady paused. Lavretsky did not know what to say to her; but
she understood him.
"Liza--yes; Liza was here just now," she continued tying and untying
the strings of her work-bag. "She isn't quite well. Shurochka, where
are you? Come here, my mother; cannot you sit still a moment? And I
have a headache myself. It must be that singing which has given me it,
and the music."
"What singing, aunt?"
"What? don't you know? They have already begun--what do you
call them?--duets down there. And all in Italian--chi-chi and
cha-cha--regular magpies. With their long drawn-out notes, one would
think they were going to draw one's soul out. It's that Panshine, and
your wife too. And how quickly it was all arranged! Quite without
ceremony, just as if among near relations. However, one must say that
even a dog will try to find itself a home somewhere. You needn't die
outside if folks don't chase you away from their houses."
"I certainly must confess I did not expect this," answered Lavretsky.
"This must have required considerable daring."
"No, my dear, it isn't daring with her, it is calculation. However,
God be with her! They say you are going to send her to Lavriki. Is
"Yes; I am going to make over that property to her."
"Has she asked you for money?"
"Well, that request won't be long in coming. But--I haven't looked at
you till now--are you well?"
"Shurochka!" suddenly exclaimed the old lady. "Go and tell Lizaveta
Mikhailovna--that is--no--ask her--Is she down-stairs?"
"Well, yes. Ask her where she has put my book She will know all about
The old lady commenced bustling about again, and began to open the
drawers in her commode. Lavretsky remained quietly sitting on his
Suddenly light steps were heard on the staircase--and Liza entered.
Lavretsky stood up and bowed. Liza remained near the door.
"Liza, Lizochka," hurriedly began Marfa Timofeevna, "where have
you--where have you put my book?"
"What book, aunt?"
"Why, good gracious! that book. However, I didn't send for you--but
it's all the same. What are you all doing down-stairs? Here is Fedor
Ivanovich come. How is your headache?"
"It's of no consequence."
"You always say, 'It's of no consequence.' What are you all doing down
below?--having music again?"
"No--They are playing cards."
"Of course; she is ready for anything. Shurochka, I see you want to
run out into the garden. Be off!"
"No, I don't Marfa Timofeevna--"
"No arguing, if you please. Be off. Nastasia Carpovna has gone into
the garden by herself. Go and keep her company. You should show the
old lady respect."
Shurochka left the room.
"But where is my cap? Wherever can it have got to?"
"Let me look for it," said Liza.
"Sit still, sit still! My own legs haven't dropped off yet. It
certainly must be in my bed-room."
And Marfa Timofeevna went away, after casting a side-glance at
Lavretsky. At first she left the door open, but suddenly she returned
and shut it again from the outside.
Liza leant back in her chair and silently hid her face in her hands.
Lavretsky remained standing where he was.
"This is how we have had to see each other!" he said at last.
Liza let her hands fall from before her face.
"Yes," she replied sadly, "we have soon been punished."
"Punished!" echoed Lavretsky. "For what have you, at all events, been
Liza looked up at him. Her eyes did not express either sorrow or
anxiety; but they seemed to have become smaller and dimmer than they
used to be. Her face was pale; even her slightly-parted lips had lost
Lavretsky's heart throbbed with pity and with love.
"You have written to me that all is over," he whispered. "Yes, all is
over--before it had begun."
"All that must be forgotten," said Liza. "I am glad you have come. I
was going to write to you; but it is better as it is. Only we must
make the most of these few minutes. Each of us has a duty to fulfil.
You, Fedor Ivanovich, must become reconciled with your wife."
"I entreat you to let it be so. By this alone can expiation be made
for--for all that has taken place. Think over it, and then you will
not refuse my request."
"Liza! for God's sake! You ask what is impossible. I am ready to do
every thing you tell me; but to be reconciled with her _now_!--I
consent to every thing, I have forgotten every thing; but I cannot do
violence to my heart. Have some pity; this is cruel!"
"But I do not ask you to do what is impossible. Do not live with her
if you really cannot do so. But be reconciled with her," answered
Liza, once more hiding her face in her hands. "Remember your daughter;
and, besides, do it for my sake."
"Very good," said Lavretsky between his teeth. "Suppose I do this--in
this I shall be fulfilling my duty; well, but you--in what does your
"That I know perfectly well."
Lavretsky suddenly shuddered.
"Surely you have not made up your mind to many Panshine?" he asked.
"Oh, no!" replied Liza, with an almost imperceptible smile.
"Ah! Liza, Liza!" exclaimed Lavretsky, "how happy we might have been!"
Liza again looked up at him.
"Now even you must see, Fedor Ivanovich, that happiness does not
depend upon ourselves, but upon God."
"Yes, because you--"
The door of the next room suddenly opened, and Marfa Timofeevna came
in, holding her cap in her hand.
"I had trouble enough to find it," she said, standing between Liza and
Lavretsky; "I had stuffed it away myself. Dear me, see what old age
comes to! But, after all, youth is no better. Well, are you going to
Lavriki with your wife?" she added, turning to Fedor Ivanovich.
"To Lavriki with her? I?--I don't know," he added, after a short
"Won't you pay a visit down stairs?"
"Well, very good; do as you please. But you, Liza, ought to go
down-stairs, I think. Ah! my dears. I've forgotten to give any seed to
my bullfinch too. Wait a minute; I will be back directly."
And Marfa Timofeevna ran out of the room without even having put on
Lavretsky quickly drew near to Liza.
"Liza," he began, with an imploring voice, "we are about to part for
ever, and my heart is very heavy. Give me your hand at parting."
Liza raised her head. Her wearied, almost lustre less eyes looked at
"No," she said, and drew back the hand she had half held out to him.
"No, Lavretsky" (it was the first time that she called him by this
name), "I will not give you my hand. Why should I? And now leave me,
I beseech you. You know that I love you--Yes, I love you!" she added
emphatically. "But no--no;" and she raised her handkerchief to her
"At least, then, give me that handkerchief--"
The door creaked. The handkerchief glided down to Liza's knees.
Lavretsky seized it before it had time to fall on the floor, and
quickly hid it away in his pocket; then, as he turned round, he
encountered the glance of Marfa Timofeevna's eyes.
"Lizochka, I think your mother is calling you," said the old lady.
Liza immediately got up from her chair, and left the room.
Marfa Timofeevna sat down again in her corner, Lavretsky was going to
take leave of her.
"Fedia," she said, abruptly.
"Are you an honorable man?"
"I ask you--Are you an honorable man?"
"I hope so."
"Hm! Well, then, give me your word that you are going to behave like
an honorable man."
"Certainly. But why do you ask that?"
"I know why, perfectly well. And so do you, too, my good friend.[A] As
you are no fool, you will understand why I ask you this, if you will
only think over it a little. But now, good-bye, my dear. Thank you for
coming to see me; but remember what I have said, Fedia; and now give
me a kiss. Ah, my dear, your burden is heavy to bear, I know that. But
no one finds his a light one. There was a time when I used to envy the
flies. There are creatures, I thought, who live happily in the world.
But one night I heard a fly singing out under a spider's claws. So,
thought I, even they have their troubles. What can be done, Fedia?
But mind you never forget what you have said to me. And now leave
[Footnote A: Literally, "my foster father," or "my benefactor."]
Lavretsky left by the back door, and had almost reached the street,
when a footman ran after him and said, "Maria Dmitrievna told me to
ask you to come to her."
"Tell her I cannot come just now," began Lavretsky.
"She told me to ask you particularly," continued the footman. "She
told me to say that she was alone."
"Then her visitors have gone away?" asked Lavretsky.
"Yes," replied the footman, with something like a grin on his face.
Lavretsky shrugged his shoulders, and followed him into the house.
Maria Dmitrievna was alone in her boudoir. She was sitting in a large
easy-chair, sniffing Eau-de-Cologne, with a little table by her side,
on which was a glass containing orange-flower water. She was evidently
excited, and seemed nervous about something.
Lavretsky came into the room.
"You wanted to see me," he said, bowing coldly.
"Yes," answered Maria Dmitrievna, and then she drank a little water.
"I heard that you had gone straight up-stairs to my aunt, so I told
the servants to ask you to come and see me. I want to have a talk with
you. Please sit down."
Maria Dmitrievna took breath. "You know that your wife has come," she
"I am aware of that fact," said Lavretsky.
"Well--yes--that is--I meant to say that she has been here, and I have
received her. That is what I wanted to have the explanation about with
you, Fedor Ivanovich, I have deserved, I may say, general respect,
thank God! and I wouldn't, for all the world, do any thing unbecoming.
But, although I saw beforehand that it would be disagreeable to you,
Fedor Ivanich, yet I couldn't make up my mind to refuse her. She is
a relation of mine--through you. Only put yourself into my position.
What right had I to shut my door in her face? Surely you must agree
"You are exciting yourself quite unnecessarily, Maria Dmitrievna,"
replied Lavretsky. "You have done what is perfectly right. I am not in
the least angry. I never intended to deprive my wife of the power of
seeing her acquaintances. I did not come to see you to-day simply
because I did not wish to meet her. That was all."
"Ah! how glad I am to hear you say that, Fedor Ivanich!" exclaimed
Maria Dmitrievna. "However, I always expected as much from your noble
feelings. But as to my being excited, there's no wonder in that. I am
a woman and a mother. And your wife--of course I cannot set myself up
as a judge between you and her, I told her so herself; but she is such
a charming person that no one can help being pleased with her."
Lavretsky smiled and twirled his hat in his hands.
"And there is something else that I wanted to say to you, Fedor
Ivanich," continued Maria Dmitrievna, drawing a little nearer to him.
"If you had only seen how modestly, how respectfully she behaved!
Really it was perfectly touching. And if you had only heard how she
spoke of you! 'I,' she said, 'am altogether guilty before him.' 'I,'
she said, 'was not able to appreciate him.' 'He,' she said, 'is an
angel, not a mere man,' I can assure you that's what she said--'an
angel.' She is so penitent--I do solemnly declare I have never seen
any one so penitent."
"But tell me, Maria Dmitrievna," said Lavretsky, "if I may be allowed
to be so inquisitive. I hear that Varvara Pavlovna has been singing
here. Was it in one of her penitent moments that she sang, or how--?"
"How can you talk like that and not feel ashamed of yourself? She
played and sang simply to give me pleasure, and because I particularly
entreated her, almost ordered her to do so. I saw that she was
unhappy, so unhappy, and I thought how I could divert her a little;
and besides that, I had heard that she had so much talent. Do show
her some pity, Fedor Ivanich--she is utterly crushed--only ask
Gedeonovsky--broken down entirely, _tout-a-fait_. How can you say such
things of her?"
Lavretsky merely shrugged his shoulders.
"And besides, what a little angel your Adochka is! What a charming
little creature! How pretty she is! and how good! and how well she
speaks French! And she knows Russian too. She called me aunt in
Russian. And then as to shyness, you know, almost all children of her
age are shy; but she is not at all so. It's wonderful how like you she
is, Fedor Ivanich--eyes, eyebrows, in fact you all over--absolutely
you. I don't usually like such young children, I must confess, but I
am quite in love with your little daughter."
"Maria Dmitrievna," abruptly said Lavretsky, "allow me to inquire why
you are saying all this to me?"
"Why?"--Maria Dmitrievna again had recourse to her Eau-de-Cologne
and drank some water--"why I say this to you, Fedor Ivanich, is
because--you see I am one of your relations, I take a deep interest in
you. I know your heart is excellent. Mark my words, _mon cousin_--at
all events I am a woman of experience, and I do not speak at random.
Forgive, do forgive your wife!". (Maria Dmitrievna's eyes suddenly
filled with tears.) "Only think--youth, inexperience, and perhaps also
a bad example--hers was not the sort of mother to put her in the right
way. Forgive her, Fedor Ivanich! She has been punished enough."
The tears flowed down Maria Dmitrievna's cheeks. She did not wipe
them away; she was fond of weeping. Meanwhile Lavretsky sat as if on
thorns. "Good God!" he thought, "what torture this is! What a day this
has been for me!"
"You do not reply," Maria Dmitrievna recommenced: "how am I to
understand you? Is it possible that you can be so cruel? No, I cannot
believe that. I feel that my words have convinced you. Fedor Ivanich,
God will reward you for your goodness! Now from my hands receive your
Lavretsky jumped up from his chair scarcely knowing what he was doing.
Maria Dmitrievna had risen also, and had passed rapidly to the
other side of the screen, from behind which she brought out Madame
Lavretsky. Pale, half lifeless, with downcast eyes, that lady seemed
as if she had surrendered her whole power of thinking or willing for
herself, and had given herself over entirely into the hands of Maria
Lavretsky recoiled a pace.
"You have been there all this time!" he exclaimed.
"Don't blame her," Maria Dmitrievna hastened to say. "She wouldn't
have stayed for any thing; but I made her stay; I put her behind the
screen. She declared that it would make you angrier than ever; but I
wouldn't even listen to her. I know you better than she does. Take
then from my hands your wife! Go to him, Varvara; have no fear; fall
at your husband's feet" (here she gave Varvara's arm a pull), "and may
"Stop, Maria Dmitrievna!" interposed Lavretsky, in a voice shaking
with emotion. "You seem to like sentimental scenes." (Lavretsky was
not mistaken; from her earliest school-days Maria Dmitrievna had
always been passionately fond of a touch of stage effect.) "They
may amuse you, but to other people they may prove very unpleasant.
However, I am not going to talk to you. In _this_ scene you do not
play the leading part."
"What is it _you_ want from me, Madame?" he added, turning to his
wife. "Have I not done for you all that I could? Do not tell me that
it was not you who got up this scene. I should not believe you. You
know that I cannot believe you. What is it you want? You are clever.
You do nothing without an object. You must feel that to live with you,
as I used formerly to live, is what I am not in a position to do--not
because I am angry with you, but because I have become a different
man. I told you that the very day you returned; and at that time
you agreed with me in your own mind. But, perhaps, you wish to
rehabilitate yourself in public opinion. Merely to live in my house is
too little for you; you want to live with me under the same roof. Is
it not so?"
"I want you to pardon me," replied Varvara Pavlovna, without lifting
her eyes from the ground.
"She wants you to pardon her," repeated Maria Dmitrievna.
"And not for my own sake, but for Ada's," whispered Varvara.
"Not for her own sake, but for your Ada's," repeated Maria Dmitrievna.
"Very good! That is what you want?" Lavretsky just managed to say.
"Well, I consent even to that."
Varvara Pavlovna shot a quick glance at him. Maria Dmitrievna
exclaimed, "Thank God!" again took Varvara by the arm, and again
began, "Take, then, from my hands--"
"Stop, I tell you!" broke in Lavretsky. "I will consent to live with
you, Varvara Pavlovna," he continued; "that is to say, I will take you
to Lavriki, and live with you as long as I possibly can. Then I will
go away; but I will visit you from time to time. You see, I do not
wish to deceive you; only do not ask for more than that. You would
laugh yourself, if I were to fulfil the wish of our respected
relative, and press you to my heart--if I were to assure you
that--that the past did not exist, that the felled tree would again
produce leaves. But I see this plainly--one must submit. These words
do not convey the same meaning to you as to me, but that does not
matter. I repeat, I will live with you--or, no, I cannot promise that;
but I will no longer avoid you; I will look on you as my wife again--"
"At all events, give her your hand on that," said Maria Dmitrievna,
whose tears had dried up long ago.
"I have never yet deceived Varvara Pavlovna," answered Lavretsky. "She
will believe me as it is. I will take her to Lavriki. But remember
this, Varvara Pavlovna. Our treaty will be considered at an end, as
soon as you give up stopping there. And now let me go away."
He bowed to both of the ladies, and went out quickly.
"Won't you take her with you?" Maria Dmitrievna called after him.
"Let him alone," said Varvara to her in a whisper, and then began to
express her thanks to her, throwing her arms around her, kissing her
hand, saying she had saved her.
Maria Dmitrievna condescended to accept her caresses, but in reality
she was not contented with her; nor was she contented with Lavretsky,
nor with the whole scene which she had taken so much pains to arrange.
There had been nothing sentimental about it.
According to her ideas Varvara Pavlovna ought to have thrown herself
at her husband's feet.
"How was it you didn't understand what I meant?" she kept saying.
"Surely I said to you, 'Down with you!'"
"It is better as it is, my dear aunt. Don't disturb yourself--all has
turned out admirably," declared Varvara Pavlovna.
"Well, anyhow he is--as cold as ice," said Maria Dmitrievna. "It is
true you didn't cry, but surely my tears flowed before his eyes. So he
wants to shut you up at Lavriki. What! You won't be able to come out
even to see me! All men are unfeeling," she ended by saying, and shook
her head with an air of deep meaning.
"But at all events women can appreciate goodness and generosity," said
Varvara Pavlovna. Then, slowly sinking on her knees, she threw her
arms around Maria Dmitrievna's full waist, and hid her face in that
lady's lap. That hidden face wore a smile, but Maria Dmitrievna's
tears began to flow afresh.
As for Lavretsky, he returned home, shut himself up in his valet's
room, flung himself on the couch, and lay there till the morning.
The next day was Sunday. Lavretsky was not awakened by the bells which
clanged for early Mass, for he had not closed his eyes all night; but
they reminded him of another Sunday, when he went to church at Liza's
request. He rose in haste. A certain secret voice told him that to-day
also he would see her there. He left the house quietly, telling the
servant to say to Varvara Pavlovna, who was still asleep, that he
would be back to dinner, and then, with long steps, he went where the
bell called him with its dreary uniformity of sound.
He arrived early; scarcely any one was yet in the church. A Reader was
reciting the Hours in the choir. His voice, sometimes interrupted by
a cough, sounded monotonously, rising and falling by turns. Lavretsky
placed himself at a little distance from the door. The worshippers
arrived, one after another, stopped, crossed themselves, and bowed in
all directions. Their steps resounded loudly through the silent and
almost empty space, and echoed along the vaulted roof. An infirm old
woman, wrapped in a threadbare hooded cloak, knelt by Lavretsky's side
and prayed fervently. Her toothless, yellow, wrinkled face expressed
intense emotion. Her bloodshot eyes gazed upwards, without moving, on
the holy figures displayed upon the iconostasis. Her bony hand kept
incessantly coming out from under her cloak, and making the sign of
the cross--with a slow and sweeping gesture, and with steady pressure
of the fingers on the forehead and the body. A peasant with a morose
and thickly-bearded face, his hair and clothes all in disorder,
came into the church, threw himself straight down on his knees, and
immediately began crossing and prostrating himself, throwing back his
head and shaking it after each inclination. So bitter a grief showed
itself in his face and in all his gestures, that Lavretsky went up to
him and asked him what was the matter. The peasant sank back with an
air of distrust; then, looking at him coldly, said in a hurried voice,
"My son is dead," and again betook himself to his prostrations.
"What sorrow can they have too great to defy the consolations of the
Church?" thought Lavretsky, and he tried to pray himself. But his
heart seemed heavy and hardened, and his thoughts were afar off. He
kept waiting for Liza; but Liza did not come. The church gradually
filled with people, but he did not see Liza among them. Mass began,
the deacon read the Gospel, the bell sounded for the final prayer.
Lavretsky advanced a few steps, and suddenly he caught sight of Liza.
She had come in before him, but he had not observed her till now.
Standing in the space between the wall and the choir, to which she had
pressed as close as possible, she never once looked round, never moved
from her place. Lavretsky did not take his eyes off her till the
service was quite finished; he was bidding her a last farewell. The
congregation began to disperse, but she remained standing there. She
seemed to be waiting for Lavretsky to go away. At last, however, she
crossed herself for the last time, and went out without turning round.
No one but a maid-servant was with her.
Lavretsky followed her out of the church, and came up with her in the
street. She was walking very fast, her head drooping, her veil pulled
low over her face.
"Good-day, Lizaveta Mikhailovna," he said in a loud voice, with
feigned indifference. "May I accompany you?"
She made no reply. He walked on by her side.
"Are you satisfied with me?" he asked, lowering his voice. "You have
heard what took place yesterday, I suppose?"
"Yes, yes," she answered in a whisper; "that was very good;" and she
quickened her pace.
"Then you are satisfied?"
Liza only made a sign of assent.
"Fedor Ivanovich," she began, presently, in a calm but feeble voice,
"I wanted to ask you something. Do not come any more to our house. Go
away soon. We may see each other by-and-by--some day or other--a year
hence, perhaps. But now, do this for my sake. In God's name, I beseech
you, do what I ask!"
"I am ready to obey you in every thing, Lizaveta Mikhailovna. But can
it be that we must part thus? Is it possible that you will not say a
single word to me?"
"Fedor Ivanovich, you are walking here by my side. But you are already
so far, far away from me; and not only you, but--"
"Go on, I entreat you!" exclaimed Lavretsky. "What do you mean?"
"You will hear, perhaps--But whatever it may be, forget--No, do not
forget me--remember me."
"I forget you?"
"Enough. Farewell. Please do not follow me."
"Liza--" began Lavretsky.
"Farewell, farewell!" she repeated, and then, drawing her veil still
lower over her face, she went away, almost at a run.
Lavretsky looked after her for a time, and then walked down the street
with drooping head. Presently he ran against Lemm, who also was
walking along with his hat pulled low over his brows, and his eyes
fixed on his feet.
They looked at each other for a time in silence.
"Well, what have you to say?" asked Lavretsky at last.
"What have I to say?" replied Lemm, in a surly voice. "I have nothing
to say. 'All is dead and we are dead.' ('_Alles ist todt und wir sind
todt_.') Do you go to the right?"
"And I am going to the left. Good-bye."
* * * * *
On the following morning Lavretsky took his wife to Lavriki. She went
in front in a carriage with Ada and Justine. He followed behind in a
tarantass. During the whole time of the journey, the little girl never
stirred from the carriage-window. Every thing astonished her: the
peasant men and women, the cottages, the wells, the arches over the
horses' necks, the little bells hanging from them, and the numbers of
rooks. Justine shared her astonishment. Varvara Pavlovna kept laughing
at their remarks and exclamations. She was in excellent spirits; she
had had an explanation with her husband before leaving O.
"I understand your position," she had said to him; and, from the
expression of her quick eyes, he could see that she did completely
understand his position. "But you will do me at least this
justice--you will allow that I am an easy person to live with. I shall
not obtrude myself on you, or annoy you. I only wished to ensure Ada's
future; I want nothing more."
"Yes, you have attained all your ends," said Lavretsky.
"There is only one thing I dream of now; to bury myself for ever in
seclusion. But I shall always remember your kindness--"
"There! enough of that!" said he, trying to stop her.
"And I shall know how to respect your tranquillity and your
independence," she continued, bringing her preconcerted speech to a
Lavretsky bowed low. Varvara understood that her husband silently
The next day they arrived at Lavriki towards evening. A week later
Lavretsky went away to Moscow, having left five thousand roubles at
his wife's disposal; and the day after Lavretsky's departure, Panshine
appeared, whom Varvara Pavlovna had entreated not to forget her in her
solitude. She received him in the most cordial manner; and, till late
that night, the lofty rooms of the mansion and the very garden itself
were enlivened by the sounds of music, and of song, and of joyous
French talk. Panshine spent three days with Varvara Pavlovna. When
saying farewell to her, and warmly pressing her beautiful hands, he
promised to return very soon--and he kept his word.
Liza had a little room of her own on the second floor of her mother's
house, a bright, tidy room, with a bedstead with white curtains in it,
a small writing-table, several flower-pots in the corners and in front
of the windows, and fixed against the wall a set of bookshelves and a
crucifix. It was called the nursery; Liza had been born in it.
After coming back from the church where Lavretsky had seen her, she
set all her things in order with even more than usual care, dusted
every thing, examined all her papers and letters from her friends,
and tied them up with pieces of ribbon, shut up all her drawers, and
watered her flowers, giving each flower a caressing touch. And all
this she did deliberately, quietly, with a kind of sweet and tranquil
earnestness in the expression of her face. At last she stopped still
in the middle of the room and looked slowly around her; then she
approached the table over which hung the crucifix, fell on her knees,
laid her head on her clasped hands, and remained for some time
motionless. Presently Marfa Timofeevna entered the room and found her
in that position. Liza did not perceive her arrival. The old lady went
out of the room on tiptoe, and coughed loudly several times outside
the door. Liza hastily rose and wiped her eyes, which shone, with
gathered but not fallen tears.
"So I see you have arranged your little cell afresh," said Marfa
Timofeevna, bending low over a young rose-tree in one of the
flower-pots. "How sweet this smells!"
Liza looked at her aunt with a meditative air.
"What was that word you used?" she whispered.
"What word--what?" sharply replied the old lady. "It is dreadful," she
continued, suddenly pulling off her cap and sitting down on Liza's
bed. "It is more than I can bear. This is the fourth day I've been
just as if I were boiling in a cauldron. I cannot any longer pretend I
don't observe any thing. I cannot bear to see you crying, to see how
pale and withered you are growing. I cannot--I cannot."
"But what makes you say that aunt?" said Liza. "There is nothing the
matter with me, I--"
"Nothing?" exclaimed Marfa Timofeevna. "Tell that to some one else,
not to me! Nothing! But who was on her knees just now? Whose eyelashes
are still wet with tears? Nothing! Why, just look at yourself, what
have you done to your face? where are your eyes gone? Nothing, indeed!
As if I didn't know all!"
"Give me a little time, aunt. All this will pass away."
"Will pass away! Yes, but when? Good heavens! is it possible you have
loved him so much? Why, he is quite an old fellow, Lizochka! Well,
well! I don't deny he is a good man; will not bite; but what of that?
We are all good people; the world isn't shut up in a corner, there
will always be plenty of this sort of goodness."
"I can assure you all this will pass away--all this has already passed
"Listen to what I am going to tell you, Lizochka," suddenly said Marfa
Timofeevna, making Liza sit down beside her on the bed, smoothing down
the girl's hair, and setting her neckerchief straight while she spoke.
"It seems to you, in the heat of the moment, as if it were impossible
for your wound to be cured. Ah, my love, it is only death for which
there is no cure. Only say to yourself, 'I won't give in--so much
for him!' and you will be surprised yourself to see how well and how
quickly it will all pass away. Only have a little patience."
"Aunt," replied Liza, "it has already passed away. All has passed
"Passed away! how passed away? Why your nose has actually grown peaky,
and yet you say--'passed away.' Passed away indeed!"
"Yes, passed away, aunt--if only you are willing to help me," said
Liza, with unexpected animation, and then threw her arms round Marfa
Timofeevna's neck. "Dearest aunt, do be a friend to me, do help me,
don't be angry with me, try to understand me--"
"But what is all this, what is all this, my mother? Don't frighten me,
please. I shall cry out in another minute. Don't look at me like that:
quick, tell me what is the meaning of all this!"
"I--I want--" Here Liza hid her face on Marfa Timofeevna's breast. "I
want to go into a convent," she said in a low tone.
The old lady fairly bounded off the bed.
"Cross yourself, Lizochka! gather your senses together! what ever are
you about? Heaven help you!" at last she stammered out. "Lie down and
sleep a little, my darling. And this comes of your want of sleep,
Liza raised her head; her cheeks glowed.
"No, aunt," she said, "do not say that. I have prayed, I have asked
God's advice, and I have made up my mind. All is over. My life with
you here is ended. Such lessons are not given to us without a purpose;
besides, it is not for the first time that I think of it now.
Happiness was not for me. Even when I did indulge in hopes of
happiness, my heart shuddered within me. I know all, both my sins and
those of others, and how papa made our money. I know all, and all that
I must pray away, must pray away. I grieve to leave you, I grieve for
mamma and for Lenochka; but there is no help for it. I feel that it is
impossible for me to live here longer. I have already taken leave of
every thing, I have greeted every thing in the house for the last
time. Something calls me away. I am sad at heart, and I would fain
hide myself away for ever. Please don't hinder me or try to dissuade
me; but do help me, or I shall have to go away by myself."
Marfa Timofeevna listened to her niece with horror.
"She is ill," she thought. "She is raving. We must send for a doctor;
but for whom? Gedeonovsky praised some one the other day; but then he
always lies--but perhaps he has actually told the truth this time."
But when she had become convinced that Liza was not ill, and was not
raving--when to all her objections Liza had constantly made the same
reply, Marfa Timofeevna was thoroughly alarmed, and became exceedingly
"But surely you don't know, my darling, what sort of life they lead in
convents!" thus she began, in hopes of dissuading her. "Why they will
feed you on yellow hemp oil, my own; they will dress you in coarse,
very coarse clothing; they will make you go out in the cold; you will
never be able to bear all this Lizochka. All these ideas of yours are
Agafia's doing. It is she who has driven you out of your senses. But
then she began with living, and with living to her own satisfaction.
Why shouldn't you live too? At all events, let me die in peace, and
then do as you please. And who on earth has ever known any one go into
a convent for the sake of such-a-one--for a goat's beard--God forgive
me--for a man! Why, if you're so sad at heart, you should pay a visit
to a convent, pray to a saint, order prayers to be said, but don't put
the black veil on your head, my _batyushka_, my _matyushka_."
And Marfa Timofeevna cried bitterly.
Liza tried to console her, wiped the tears from her eyes, and cried
herself, but maintained her purpose unshaken. In her despair, Marfa
Timofeevna tried to turn threats to account, said she would reveal
every thing to Liza's mother; but that too had no effect. All that
Liza would consent to do in consequence of the old lady's urgent
entreaties, was to put off the execution of her plan for a half year.
In return Marfa Timofeevna was obliged to promise that, if Liza had
not changed her mind at the end of the six months, she would herself
assist in the matter, and would contrive to obtain Madame Kalitine's
* * * * *
As soon as the first cold weather arrived, in spite of her promise to
bury herself in seclusion, Varvara Pavlovna, who had provided herself
with sufficient funds, migrated to St. Petersburg. A modest, but
pretty set of rooms had been found for her there by Panshine, who had
left the province of O. rather earlier than she did. During the latter
part of his stay in O., he had completely lost Madame Kalitine's good
graces. He had suddenly given up visiting her, and indeed scarcely
stirred away from Lavriki. Varvara Pavlovna had enslaved--literally
enslaved him. No other word can express the unbounded extent of the
despotic sway she exercised over him.
Lavretsky spent the winter in Moscow. In the spring of the ensuing
year the news reached him that Liza had taken the veil in the B.
convent, in one of the most remote districts of Russia.
Eight years passed away. The spring had come again--
But we will first of all say a few words about the fate of
Mikhalevich, Panshine, and Madame Lavretsky, and then take leave of
Mikhalevich, after much wandering to and fro, at last hit upon the
business he was fitted for, and obtained the post of Head Inspector
in one of the Government Educational Institutes. His lot thoroughly
satisfies him, and his pupils "adore" him, though at the same time
they mimic him. Panshine has advanced high in the service, and already
aims at becoming the head of a department. He stoops a little as he
walks; it must be the weight of the Vladimir Cross which hangs from
his neck, that bends him forward. In him the official decidedly
preponderates over the artist now. His face, though still quite young,
has grown yellow, his hair is thinner than it used to be, and he
neither sings nor draws any longer. But he secretly occupies himself
with literature. He has written a little comedy in the style of a
"proverb;" and--as every one who writes now constantly brings on
the stage some real person or some actual fact--he has introduced a
coquette into it, and he reads it confidentially to a few ladies who
are very kind to him. But he has never married, although he has had
many excellent opportunities for doing so. For that Varvara Pavlovna
is to blame.
As for her, she constantly inhabits Paris, just as she used to do.
Lavretsky has opened a private account for her with his banker, and
has paid a sufficient sum to ensure his being free from her--free from
the possibility of being a second time unexpectedly visited by
her. She has grown older and stouter, but she is still undoubtedly
handsome, and always dresses in taste. Every one has his ideal.
Varvara Pavlovna has found hers--in the plays of M. Dumas _fils_.
She assiduously frequents the theatres in which consumptive and
sentimental Camelias appear on the boards; to be Madame Doche seems to
her the height of human happiness. She once announced that she could
not wish her daughter a happier fate. It may, however, be expected
that destiny will save Mademoiselle Ada from that kind of happiness.
From being a chubby, rosy child, she has changed into a pale,
weak-chested girl, and her nerves are already unstrung. The number
of Varvara Pavlovna's admirers has diminished, but they have not
disappeared. Some of them she will, in all probability, retain to the
end of her days. The most ardent of them in recent times has been a
certain Zakurdalo-Skubyrnikof, a retired officer of the guard, a
man of about thirty-eight years of age, wearing long mustaches, and
possessing a singularly vigorous frame. The Frenchmen who frequent
Madame Lavretsky's drawing-room call him _le gros taureau de
l'Ukraine_. Varvara Pavlovna never invites him to her fashionable
parties, but he is in full possession of her good graces.
And so--eight years had passed away. Again spring shone from heaven in
radiant happiness. Again it smiled on earth and on man. Again, beneath
its caress, all things began to love, to flower, to sing.
The town of O. had changed but little in the course of these eight
years, but Madame Kalitine's house had, as it were, grown young again.
Its freshly-painted walls shone with a welcome whiteness, while the
panes of its open windows flashed ruddy to the setting sun. Out of
these windows there flowed into the street mirthful sounds of ringing
youthful voices, of never-ceasing laughter. All the house seemed
teeming with life and overflowing with irrepressible merriment. As for
the former mistress of the house, she had been laid in the grave long
ago. Maria Dmitrievna died two years after Liza took the veil. Nor did
Marfa Timofeevna long survive her niece; they rest side by side in
the cemetery of the town. Nastasia Carpovna also was no longer alive.
During the course of several years the faithful old lady used to go
every day to pray at her friend's grave. Then her time came, and her
bones also were laid in the mould.
But Maria Dmitrievna's house did not pass into the hands of strangers,
did not go out of her family--the nest was not torn to pieces.
Lenochka, who had grown into a pretty and graceful girl; her
betrothed, a flaxen locked officer of hussars; Maria Dmitrievna's son,
who had only recently married at St. Petersburg, and had now arrived
with his young bride to spend the spring in O.; his wife's sister, a
sixteen-year-old Institute-girl, with clear eyes and rosy cheeks; and
Shurochka, who had also grown up and turned out pretty--these were the
young people who made the walls of the Kalitine house resound with
laughter and with talk. Every thing was altered in the house, every
thing had been made to harmonize with its new inhabitants. Beardless
young servant-lads, full of fun and laughter, had replaced the grave
old domestics of former days. A couple of setters tore wildly about
and jumped upon the couches, in the rooms up and down which Roska,
after it had grown fat, used to waddle seriously. In the stable many
horses were stalled--clean-limbed canterers, smart trotters for the
centre of the _troika_, fiery gallopers with platted manes for the
side places, riding horses from the Don. The hours for breakfast,
dinner, and supper, were all mixed up and confounded together. In the
words of neighbors, "Such a state of things as never had been known
before" had taken place.
On the evening of which we are about to speak, the inmates of the
Kalitine house, of whom the eldest, Lenochka's betrothed, was not more
than four-and-twenty, had taken to playing a game which was not of a
very complicated nature, but which seemed to be very amusing to them,
to judge by their happy laughter,--that of running about the rooms,
and trying to catch each other. The dogs, too, ran about and barked;
and the canaries which hung up in cages before the windows, straining
their throats in rivalry, heightened the general uproar by the
piercing accents of their shrill singing. Just as this deafening
amusement had reached its climax, a tarantass, all splashed with mud,
drew up at the front gate, and a man about forty-five years old,
wearing a travelling dress, got out of it and remained standing as if
For some time he stood at the gate without moving, but gazing at the
house with observant eyes; then he entered the court-yard by the
wicket-gate, and slowly mounted the steps. He encountered no one in
the vestibule; but suddenly the drawing-room door was flung open, and
Shurochka, all rosy red, came running out of the room; and directly
afterwards, with shrill cries, the whole of the youthful band rushed
after her. Suddenly, at the sight of an unknown stranger, they stopped
short, and became silent; but the bright eyes which were fixed on him
still retained their friendly expression, the fresh young faces
did not cease to smile. Then Maria Dmitrievna's son approached the
visitor, and politely asked what he could do for him.
"I am Lavretsky," said the stranger.