Part 7 out of 7
"I am determined you shall not meet Tychkov."
"I must," replied Raisky.
"I will not have it, Boris. No good can come of it. I will follow your
advice and speak to Ivan Ivanovich; then we will see whether you need go
to Paulina Karpovna. Ask Ivan Ivanovich to come here, but say not a word
to Vera. She has heard nothing so far, and God grant that she never
Raisky went to Vera, and his place with Tatiana Markovna was taken by
Tatiana Markovna could not disguise her agitation when Ivan Ivanovich
entered her room. He made his bow in silence.
"How did you find Vera?" she asked, after a pause.
"She seemed to be well and calm."
"God grant that she is! But how much trouble all this has caused you,"
she added in a low voice, trying to avoid his eyes.
"What does that matter, if Vera Vassilievna has peace."
"She was beginning to recover, and I too felt happier, so long as our
distress was concealed." Tushin started as if he had been shot. "Ivan
Ivanovich," continued Tatiana Markovna, "there is all sorts of gossip in
the town. Borushka and I in a moment of anger tore the mask from that
hypocrite Tychkov--you have no doubt heard the story. Such an outburst
ill fitted my years, but he had been blowing his own trumpet so
abominably that it was unendurable. Now he, in his turn, is tearing the
mask from us."
"From you? I don't understand."
"When he gossipped about me, no one took any heed, for I am already
counted with my fathers. But with Vera it is different, and they have
dragged your name into the affair."
"Mine? with Vera Vassilievna's? Please tell me what the talk is."
When Tatiana Markovna had told the story he asked what she wished him to
"You must clear yourself," she said. "You have been beyond reproach all
your life, and must be again. As soon as Marfinka's wedding is over I
shall settle on my estate at Novosselovo for good. You should make haste
to inform Tychkov that you were not in the town on the day before
Marfinka's fete-day, and consequently could not have been at the
"It ought to be done differently."
"Do just as you like, Ivan Ivanovich. But what else can you say?"
"I would rather not meet Tychkov. He may have heard through others that
I certainly was in the town; I was spending a couple of days with a
friend. I shall spread it about that I did visit the precipice on that
evening with Vera Vassilievna, although that is not the case. I might
add that I had offered her my hand and had met with a refusal, by which
you, Tatiana Markovna, who gave me your approval, were aggrieved; that
Vera Vassilievna felt bitterly the breach of our friendship. One might
even speak of a distant hope ... of a promise...."
"People will not be kept quiet by that, for a promise cannot always
remain a promise."
"It will be forgotten, Tatiana Markovna, especially if you, as you say,
leave the neighbourhood. If it is not forgotten, and you and Vera
Vassilievna are further disturbed, it is still possible," he added in a
low tone, "to accept my proposal."
"Ivan Ivanovich," said Tatiana Markovna reproachfully, "do you think
Vera and I are capable of such a thing? Are we to avail ourselves of
your past affection and your generosity merely to still malicious gossip,
to stifle talk for which there is a basis of truth. Neither you nor Vera
would find happiness in that way."
"There is no question of generosity, Tatiana Markovna. If a forest
stands in one's way, it must he hewn down; bold men see no barrier in
the sea, and hew their way through the rock itself. Here there is no
obstacle of forest, sea, or rock. I am bridging the precipice, and my
feet will not tremble when I cross the bridge. Give me Vera Vassilievna.
No devil should disturb my happiness or her peace of mind, if she lived
to be a hundred. She will be my Tsaritsa, and in the peace that reigns
in my forest will forget all that now oppresses her. You don't yet
"I do," whispered Tatiana Markovna tearfully, "but the decision does not
lie with me."
He passed his hands across his eyes and through his thick hair, then
seized her hands.
"Forgive me, I forgot the important point. It is not mountain, forest or
sea, but an insurmountable obstacle that confronts me--Vera Vassilievna
is not willing. She looks forward to a happier future than I can offer
her. You sent for me to let me know of the gossip there is going about,
in the view that it must be painful, didn't you? Do not let it disturb
either yourself or Vera Vassilievna, but take her away, so that no word
of it penetrates to her ears. In the meantime I will spread in the town
the account we have discussed. That man," he could not bring Mark's name
over his lips, "leaves the town to-morrow or the day after, and all will
be forgotten. As for me, since it is decided that Vera Vassilievna is
not to be my wife, it does not matter whether I die or live."
Tatiana Markovna, pale and trembling, interrupted him.
"She will be your wife," she said, "when she has learnt to forget. I
understand for the first time how you love Vera."
"Do not lure me on with false hopes, for I am not a boy. Who can give me
security that Vera Vassilievna will ever...."
"I give you that security."
His eyes shone with gratitude as he took her hand. Tatiana Markovna felt
that she had gone too far, and had promised more than she could perform.
She withdrew her hand, and said soothingly: "She is still very unhappy,
and would not understand at present. First of all she must be left
"I will wait and hope," he said in a low tone. "If only I might, like
Vikentev, call you Grandmother."
She signed to him to leave her. When he had gone she dropped on to her
chair, and covered her face with her handkerchief.
Raisky had written to Paulina Karpovna asking her if he might call the
next day about one o'clock. Her answer ran: "_Charmee, j'attends...._"
and so on.
He found her in her boudoir in a stifling atmosphere of burning incense,
with curtains drawn to produce a mysterious twilight. She wore a white
muslin frock with wide lace sleeves, with a yellow dahlia at her breast.
Near the divan was placed a sumptuously spread table with covers for two.
Raisky explained that he had come to make a farewell call.
"A farewell call! I won't hear of such a thing. You are joking, it is a
bad joke! No, no! Smile and take back the hated word," she protested,
slipping her arm in his and leading him to the table. "Don't think of
going away. _Vive l'amour et la joie_."
She invited him with a coquettish gesture to be seated, and hung a table
napkin over his coat, as she might to a child. He devoted an excellent
morning appetite to the food before him. She poured out champagne for
him and watched him with tender admiration.
After a longish pause when she had filled his glass for the third or
fourth time she said: "Well, what have you to say about it?" Then as
Raisky looked at her in amazement she continued: "I see, I see! Take off
the mask, and have done with concealment."
"Ah!" sighed Raisky, putting his lips to his glass. They drank to one
"Do you remember that night," she murmured, "the night of love as you
"How should it fade from my memory," he whispered darkly. "That night
was the decisive hour."
"I knew it. A mere girl could not hold you ... _une nullite, cette
pauvre petite fille, qui n'a que sa figure_ ... shy, inexperienced,
devoid of elegance."
"She could not. I have torn myself free."
"And have found what you have long been seeking, have you not? What
happened in the park to excite you so?"
After a little fencing, Raisky proceeded with his story. "When I thought
my happiness was within my grasp, I heard...."
"Tushin was there?" whispered Paulina Karpovna, holding her breath.
He nodded silently, and raised his glass once more.
"_Dites tout_," she said with a malicious smile.
"She was walking alone, lost in thought," he said in a confidential tone,
while Paulina Karpovna played with her watch chain, and listened with
strained attention. "I was at her heels, determined to have an answer
from her. She took one or two steps down the face of the precipice, when
someone suddenly came towards her."
"What did he do?"
"'Good evening, Vera Vassilievna,' he said. 'How do you do?' She
"Not at all. I hid myself and listened. 'What are you doing here?' she
said. 'I am spending two days in town,' he said, 'to be present at your
sister's fete, and I have chosen that day.... Decide, Vera Vassilievna,
whether I am to love or not."
"_Ou le sentiment va-t-il se nicher?_" exclaimed Paulina Karpovna.
"Even in that clod."
"'Ivan Ivanovich!' pleaded Vera," continued Raisky. "He interrupted her
with 'Vera Vassilievna, decide whether to-morrow I should ask Tatiana
Markovna for your hand, or throw myself into the Volga!'"
"Those were his words?"
"His very words."
"_Mais, il est ridicule_. What did she do? She moaned, cried yes
"She answered, 'No, Ivan Ivanovich, give me time to consider whether I
can respond with the same deep affection that you feel for me. Give me
six months, a year, and then I will answer "yes" or "no."' Your room is
so hot, Paulina Karpovna, could we have a little air?"
Raisky thought he had invented enough, and glanced up at his hostess,
who wore an expression of disappointment.
"_C'est tout?_" she asked.
"_Oui_," he said. "In any case Tushin did not abandon hope. On the
next day, Marfinka's birthday, he appeared again to hear her last word.
From the precipice he went through the park, and she accompanied him. It
seems that next day his hopes revived. Mine are for ever gone."
"And that is all? People have been spreading God knows what tales about
your cousin--and you. They have not even spared that saint Tatiana
Markovna with their poisonous tongues. That unendurable Tychkov!"
Raisky pricked up his ears. "They talk about Grandmother?" he asked
He remembered the hint Vera had given him of Tatiana Markovna's love
story, and he had heard something from Vassilissa, but what woman has
not her romance? They must have dug up some lie or some gossip out of
the dust of forty years. He must know what it was in order to stop
"What do they say about Grandmother?" he asked in a low, intimate voice.
"_Ah, c'est degoutant_. No one believes it, and everybody is
jeering at Tychkov for having debased himself to interrogate a
drink-maddened old beggar-woman. I will not repeat it."
"If you please," he whispered tenderly.
"You wish to know?" she whispered, bending towards him. "Then you shall
hear everything. This woman, who stands regularly in the porch of the
Church of the Ascension, has been saying that Tiet Nikonich loved
Tatiana Markovna, and she him."
"I know that," he interrupted impatiently. "That is no crime."
"And she was sought in marriage by the late Count Sergei Ivanovich--"
"I have heard that, too. She did not agree, and the Count married
somebody else, but she was forbidden to marry Tiet Nikonich. I have been
told all that by Vassilissa. What did the drunken woman say?"
"The Count is said to have surprised a rendezvous between Tatiana
Markovna and Tiet Nikonich, and such a rendezvous.
"No, no!" she cried, shaking with laughter. "Tatiana Markovna! Who would
believe such a thing?"
Raisky listened seriously, and surmises flitted across his mind.
"The Count gave Tiet Nikonich a box on the ears."
"That is a lie," cried Raisky, jumping up. "Tiet Nikonich would not have
"A lie naturally--he did not endure it. He seized a garden knife that he
found among the flowers, struck the Count to the ground, seized him by
the throat, and would have killed him."
Raisky's face changed. "Well?" he urged.
"Tatiana Markovna restrained his hand. 'You are' she said, 'a nobleman,
not a bandit, your weapon is a sword.' She succeeded in separating them,
and a duel was not possible, for it would have compromised her. The
opponents gave their word; the Count to keep silence over what had
happened, and Tiet Nikonich not to marry Tatiana Markovna. That is why
she remains unmarried. Is it not a shame to spread such calumnies?"
Raisky could no longer contain his agitation, but he said, "You see it
is a lie. Who could possibly have seen and heard what passed."
"The gardener, who was asleep in a corner, is said to have witnessed the
whole scene. He was a serf, and fear ensured his silence, but he told
his wife, the drunken widow who is now chattering about it. Of course it
is nonsense, incredible nonsense. I am the first to cry that it is a lie,
a lie. Our respected and saintly Tatiana Markovna!" Paulina Karpovna
burst out laughing, but checked herself when she looked at Raisky.
"What is the matter? _Allons donc, oubliez tout. Vive la joie!_ Do
not frown. We will send for more wine," she said, looking at him with
her ridiculous, languishing air.
"No, no, I am afraid--" He broke off, fearing to betray himself, and
concluded lamely, "It would not agree with me--I am not accustomed to
He rose from his seat, and his hostess followed his example.
"Good-bye, for ever," he said.
"No, no," she cried.
"I must escape from these dangerous places, from your precipices and
abysses. Farewell, farewell!"
He picked up his hat, and hurried away. Paulina Karpovna stood as if
turned to stone, then rang the bell, and called for her carriage and for
her maid to dress her, saying she had calls to pay.
Raisky perceived that there was truth in the drunken woman's story, and
that he held in his hand the key to his aunt's past. He realised now how
she had grown to be the woman she was, and where she had won her
strength, her practical wisdom, her knowledge of life and of men's
hearts; he understood why she had won Vera's confidence, and had been
able to calm her niece in spite of her own distress. Perhaps Vera, too,
knew the story. While he had been manoeuvring to give another turn to
the gossip about Vera's relations to himself and Tushin, he had lighted
by chance on a forgotten but vivid page of his family history, on
another drama no less dangerous to those who took part in it, and found
that his whole soul was moved by this record of what had happened forty
"Borushka!" cried Tatiana Markovna in horror, when he entered her room.
"What has come to you, my friend? You have been drinking!" She looked
keenly at him for a long minute, then turned away when she read in his
tell-tale face that he, too, had heard the talk about her past self.
Against universal expectation, Marfinka's wedding was a quiet one, no
one being invited except a few neighbouring landowners and the important
personages in the town, about fifty guests in all. The young people were
married in the village church on Sunday, after morning service, and
afterwards in the hall, which had been transformed for the occasion, a
formal breakfast was served without any of the gaiety and excitement
usual to such occasions. The servants were most disappointed, for their
mistress had taken precautions against their drinking to excess, which
made the whole affair seem dull to them.
Marfinka's trousseau and her contributions to the household had already
been taken across the Volga, the process having occupied a full week.
She herself shone with the charm of a rose grown to perfection; in her
face a new emotion was visible which found expression now in a musing
smile, now in a stray tear. Her face was shadowed with the consciousness
of a new life, of a far stretching future with unknown duties, a new
dignity and a new happiness. Vikentev wore an expression of modesty,
almost of timidity, and was visibly affected.
Raisky looked at the pretty bride with the emotions of a brother, but he
had an impulse of terror when he noticed in her sheaf of orange blossom
some faded blooms.
"They are from the bouquet that Vera gave me for my birthday," she
Raisky pretended that withered flowers were a bad omen, and helped her
to pick them out.
When the time for their departure came, the bride had to be literally
dragged sobbing from her aunt's breast, but her tears were tears of joy.
Tatiana Markovna was pale, only maintaining her self-restraint with
difficulty, and it was plain that she could only just stand as she
looked out on the Volga after her departing child. Once at home again,
she gave way to her tears. She knew that she possessed the almost
undivided love of her other child, the passionate Vera, whose character
had been ripened by bitter experience.
Tushin stayed with a friend in the town for the wedding. Next day he
came to Tatiana Markovna, accompanied by an architect, and they spent
nearly a week over plans, going over the two houses, the gardens and the
servants' quarters, making sketches and talking of radical alterations
in the spring. Everything of value--furniture, pictures, even the
parquet flooring--had been taken out of the old house and stored, partly
in the new house, partly in outhouses and on the ground.
Tatiana Markovna and Vera intended to go to Novosselovo, and later on to
visit the Vikentevs; for the summer they were invited to be the guests
of Anna Ivanovna, Tushin's sister, at "Smoke." Tatiana Markovna had
given no definite answer to the suggestion, saying that it must be "as
God wills." In any case Tushin was making the necessary arrangements
with the architect, and intended to make extensive alterations in his
house for the reception of the honoured visitors.
Raisky stayed in his rooms in the new house, but Leonti had returned to
his own home for the time being, to return to Malinovka after the
departure of Tatiana Markovna and Vera. He, too, had been invited by
Tushin to "Smoke," but Leonti had answered with a sigh, "Later in the
winter. Just now I am expecting...." and had broken off to look out on to
the road from Moscow. He was in fact expecting a letter from his wife in
answer to one he had just written. Not long before, Juliana Andreevna
had written to their housekeeper and had asked her to send her winter
cloak. She indicated the address, but said not a word about her husband.
Leonti dispatched the cloak himself with a glowing letter in which he
asked her to come, and spoke of his love and friendship.
The poor man received no reply. Gradually he resumed his teaching,
though he still betrayed his melancholy now and again during the lessons,
and was apt to be absentminded and unconscious of the behaviour of his
scholars, who took pitiless advantage of his helplessness.
Tushin had offered to look after Malinovka during Tatiana Markovna's
absence. He called it his winter quarters and made a point of crossing
the Volga every week to give an eye to the house, the farm yard and the
servants, of whom only Vassilissa, Egor, the cook and the coachman
accompanied their mistress to Novosselovo. Yakob and Savili were put
especially at Tushin's disposition.
Raisky proposed to leave a week after the wedding.
Tiet Nikonich was in the most melancholy plight of all. At any other
time he would have followed Tatiana Markovna to the end of the world,
but after the outbreak of gossip it would have been unsuitable to follow
her for the moment, because it might have given colour to the talk about
them which was half-believed and already partly forgotten. Tatiana
Markovna, however, said he might come at Christmas, and by that time
perhaps circumstances would permit him to stay. In the meantime, he
accepted Tushin's invitation to be his guest at "Smoke."
The gossip about Vera had given ground to the universal expectation of
her marriage with Tushin. Tatiana Markovna hoped that time would heal
all her wounds, but she recognised that Vera's case stood in a category
by itself, and that ordinary rules did not apply to it. No rumour
reached Vera, who continued to see in Tushin the friend of long standing,
who was all the dearer to her since he had stretched out to her his
In the last days before his departure Raisky had gone through and sorted
his sketches and notebooks, and had selected from his novel those pages
which bore reference to Vera. In the last night that he spent under the
roof of home he decided to begin his plot then and there, and sat down
to his writing-table. He determined that one chapter at least should be
written. "When my passion is past," he told himself, "when I no longer
stand in the presence of these men, with their comedy and their tragedy,
the picture will be clearer and in perspective. I already see the
splendid form emerge fresh from the hand of its creator, I see my statue,
whose majesty is undefiled by the common and the mean." He rose, walked
up and down the room, and thought over the first chapter. After half an
hour's meditation he sat down and rested his head on his hands.
Weariness invaded him, and as it was uncomfortable to doze in a sitting
posture he lay down on the sofa. Very soon he fell asleep, and there was
a sound of regular breathing.
When he woke it was beginning to get light. He sprang up hastily and
looked round in astonishment, as if he had seen something new and
unexpected in his dreams.
"In my dream, even, I saw a statue," he said to himself. "What does it
mean? Is it an omen?"
He went to the table, read the introduction he had written, and sighed.
"What use do I make of my powers?" he cried. "Another year is gone." He
angrily thrust the manuscript aside to look for a letter he had received
a month ago from the sculptor Kirilov, and sat down at the table to
"In my sound and clear mind, dear Kirilov, I hasten to give you
the first intimation of the new and unexpected perspective of
my art and my activity. I write in answer to the letter in which
you tell me that you are going to visit Italy and Rome. I am
coming to St. Petersburg; so for God's sake wait for me and I
will travel with you. Take me with you, and have pity on a blind,
insane individual, who has only to-day had his eyes opened to his
real calling. I have groped about in the darkness for a long time,
and have very nearly committed suicide, that is, let my talent
perish. You discovered talent in my pictures, but instead of
devoting myself solely to my brush I have dabbled in music, in
literature--have dissipated my energies. I meant to write a novel,
and neither you nor anybody else prevented me and told me that I
am a sculptor, a classical artist. A Venus of living marble is
born of my imagination. Is it then my cue to introduce psychology
into my pictures, to describe manners and customs? Surely not, my
art is concerned with form and beauty.
"For the novelist quite other qualities are required, and years
of labour are necessary. I would spare neither time nor endeavour
if I thought that my talent lay in my pen. In any case, I will
keep my notes--or perhaps no!--I must not deceive myself by
harbouring an uncertain hope. I cannot accomplish what I have in
mind with the pen. The analysis of the complicated mechanism of
human nature is contrary to my nature. My gift is to comprehend
beauty, to model it in clear and lovely forms.... I shall keep
those notes to remind me of what I have seen, experienced, and
"If the art of sculpture fails me I will humiliate myself,
and seek out, wherever he may be, the man (his name is Mark
Volokov) who first doubted the completion of my novel and will
confess to him, 'You are right, right, I am only half a man!'
But until that time comes, I will live and hope.
"Let us go to Rome, Rome. There dwells Art, not snobbishness
and empty pastime; there is work, enjoyment, life itself. To our
The house was early astir to bid Raisky Godspeed. Tushin and the young
Vikentevs had come, Marfinka, a marvel of beauty, amiability and shyness.
Tatiana Markovna looked sad, but she pulled herself together and avoided
"Stay with us," she said reproachfully. "You do not even know, yourself,
where you are going."
"To Rome, Grandmother."
"What for? To see the Pope?"
"To be a sculptor."
Marfinka also begged him to stay. Vera did not add her voice to the
request, because she knew he would not stay; she thought sorrowfully
that his manifold talents had not developed so far to give the pleasure
they should do to himself and others.
"Cousin," she said, "if ever you grow weary of your existence abroad,
will you come back to glance at this place where you are now at last
understood and loved?"
"Certainly I will, Vera. My heart has found a real home here.
Grandmother, Marfinka and you are my dear family; I shall never form new
domestic ties. You will always be present with me wherever I go, but now
do not seek to detain me. My imagination drives me away, and my head is
whirling with ideas, but in less than a year I shall have completed a
statue of you in marble."
"What about the novel?" she asked, laughing.
"When I am dead anyone who has a fancy for them may examine my papers,
and will find material enough. But my immediate intention is to
represent your head and shoulders in marble."
"Before the year is out you will fall in love with somebody else, and
will not know which to choose as your model."
"I may fall in love, but I shall never love anyone as I do you. I will
carve your statue in marble, for you always stand vividly before my eyes.
That is certain," he concluded emphatically, as he caught her smiling
"Certain again!" interrupted Tatiana Markovna. "I don't know what you
are discussing there, but I know that when you say 'certain,' Boris, it
is safe to say that nothing will come of it."
Raisky went up to Tushin, who was sitting in a corner silently watching
"I hope, Ivan Ivanovich, that what we all wish will be accomplished," he
"All of us, Boris Pavlovich? Do you think it will be accomplished?"
"I think so; it could hardly be otherwise. Promise to let me know
wherever I am, because I wish to hold the marriage crown over Vera's
head at the ceremony."
"And I promise to come."
Leonti took Raisky on one side, gave him a letter for Juliana Andreevna,
and begged him to seek her out.
"Speak to her conscience," he said. "If she agrees to return, telegraph
to me, and I will travel to Moscow to meet her."
Raisky promised, but advised him, in the meantime, to rest and to spend
the winter with Tushin.
The whole party surrounded the travelling carriage. Marfinka wept
copiously, and Vikentev had already provided her with no less than five
handkerchiefs. When Raisky had taken his seat he looked out once more,
and exchanged glances with Tatiana Markovna, with Vera and with Tushin.
The common experience and suffering of the six months, which had drawn
them so closely together, passed before his vision with the rapidity,
the varying tone and colour, and the vagueness of a dream.
As soon as Raisky reached St. Petersburg he hurried off to find Kirilov.
He felt an impulse to touch his friend to assure himself that Kirilov
really stood before him, and that he had not started on the journey
without him. He repeated to him his ardent confidence that his artistic
future lay in sculpture.
"What new fancy is this?" asked Kirilov, frowning and plainly expressing
his mistrust. "When I got your letter I thought you were mad. You have
one talent already; why do you want to follow a sidetrack. Take your
pencil, go to the Academy, and buy this," he said, showing him a thick
book of lithographed anatomical drawings. "What do you want with
sculpture? It is too late."
"I feel I have the right touch here," he said, rubbing his fingers one
against the other.
"Whether you have the right touch or not, it is too late."
"Why too late? There is an ensign I know who wields the chisel with
"An ensign, yes! But you, with your grey hair...." Kirilov emphasised
his remarks with a vigorous shake of the head.
Raisky would wrangle with him no longer. He spent three weeks in the
studio of a sculptor, and made acquaintance with the students there. At
home he worked zealously; visited with the sculptor and his students the
Isaac Cathedral, where he stood in admiration before the work of Vitali;
and he spent many hours in the galleries of the Hermitage. Overwhelmed
with enthusiasm he urged Kirilov to start at once for Italy and Rome.
He had not forgotten Leonti's commission, and sought out Juliana
Andreevna in her lodgings. When he entered the corridor he heard the
strains of a waltz and, he thought, the voice of Koslov's wife. He sent
in his name and with it Leonti's letter. After a time the servant, with
an air of embarrassment, came to tell him that Juliana Andreevna had
gone with a party of friends to Zarskoe-Selo, and would travel direct
from there to Moscow. Raisky did not think it necessary to mention this
incident to Leonti.
His former guardian had sent him a considerable sum raised by the
mortgage of his estate, and with this in hand he set out with Kirilov at
the beginning of January for Dresden. He spent many hours of every day
in the gallery, and paid an occasional visit to the theatre. Raisky
pressed his fellow-traveller to go farther afield; he wanted to go to
Holland, to England, to Paris.
"What should I do in England?" asked Kirilov. "There, all the
art-treasures are in private galleries to which we have no access, and the
public museums are not rich in great works of art. If you are determined
to go, you must go by yourself from Holland. I will wait for you in
Raisky agreed to this proposition. He only stayed a fortnight in England,
however, and was very much impressed by the mighty sea of social life.
Then he hastened back to his eager study of the rich art treasures of
Paris; but he could not possess his soul in the confusion and noisy
merriment, in the incessant entertainments of Paris.
In the early spring the friends crossed the Alps. Even while he
abandoned himself to the new impressions which nature, art, and a
different race made on his mind, Raisky found that the dearest and
nearest ties still connected him with Tatiana Markovna, Vera and
Marfinka. When he watched the towering crests of the waves at sea or the
snow-clad mountain tops his imagination brought before him his aunt's
noble grey head; her eyes looked at him from the portraits of Velasquez
and Gerard Dow, just as Murillo's women reminded him of Vera, and he
recalled Marfinka's charming face as he looked at the masterpieces of
Greuze, or even at the women of Raphael. Vera's form flitted before him
on the mountain side; he saw once more before him the precipice
overlooking the narrow plain of the Volga, and fought over again the
despairing struggle from which he had emerged. In the flowery valleys
Vera beckoned to him under another aspect, offering her hand with her
affectionate smile. So his memories followed him even as he contemplated
the mighty figures of Nature, Art and History as they were revealed in
the mountains and the plains of Italy.
He gave himself up to these varied emotions with a passionate absorption
which shook the foundations of his physical strength. In Rome he
established himself in a studio which he shared with Kirilov, and spent
much of his time in visiting the museums and the monuments of antiquity.
Sometimes he felt he had suddenly lost his appreciation of natural
beauty, and then he would shut himself up and work for days together.
Another time he was absorbed in the crowded life of the city, which
appeared to him as a great, crude, moving picture in which the life of
bygone centuries was reflected as in a mirror.
Through all the manifestations of this rich and glowing existence he
remained faithful to his own family, and he was never more than a guest
on the foreign soil. In his leisure hours his thoughts were turned
homewards; he would have liked to absorb the eternal beauty of nature
and art, to saturate himself with the history revealed in the monuments
of Rome in order that he might take his spiritual and artistic gains
back to Malinovka.
The three figures of Vera, Marfinka, and his "little mother" Tatiana
Markovna, stretched out beckoning hands to him; and calling him to
herself with even greater insistence than these, was another, mightier
figure, the "great mother," Russia herself.
* * * * *