Part 1 out of 7
Scanned by Martin Adamson
by Ivan S. Turgenev
Translated from the Russian by R. S. Townsend
TURGENEV was the first writer who was able, having both Slavic
and universal imagination enough for it, to interpret modern
Russia to the outer world, and Virgin Soil was the last word of
his greater testament. It was the book in which many English
readers were destined to make his acquaintance about a generation
ago, and the effect of it was, like Swinburne's Songs Before
Sunrise, Mazzini's Duties of Man, and other congenial documents,
to break up the insular confines in which they had been reared
and to enlarge their new horizon. Afterwards they went on to read
Tolstoi, and Turgenev's powerful and antipathetic fellow-
novelist, Dostoievsky, and many other Russian writers: but as he
was the greatest artist of them all, his individual revelation of
his country's predicament did not lose its effect. Writing in
prose he achieved a style of his own which went as near poetry as
narrative prose can do. without using the wrong music: while over
his realism or his irony he cast a tinge of that mixed modern and
oriental fantasy which belonged to his temperament. He suffered
in youth, and suffered badly, from the romantic malady of his
century, and that other malady of Russia, both expressed in what
M. Haumand terms his "Hamletisme." But in Virgin Soil he is easy
and almost negligent master of his instrument, and though he is
an exile and at times a sharply embittered one, he gathers
experience round his theme as only the artist can who has
enriched leis art by having outlived his youth without forgetting
its pangs, joys, mortifications, and love-songs.
In Nejdanov it is another picture of that youth which we see--
youth reduced to ineffectiveness by fatalism and by the egoism of
the lyric nature which longs to gain dramatic freedom, but cannot
achieve it. It is one of a series of portraits, wonderfully
traced psychological studies of the Russian dreamers and
incompatibles of last mid-century, of which the most moving
figure is the hero of the earlier novel, Dimitri Rudin. If we
cared to follow Turgenev strictly in his growth and contemporary
relations, we ought to begin with his Sportsman's Note Book. But
so far as his novels go, he is the last writer to be taken
chronologically. He was old enough in youth to understand old age
in the forest, and young enough in age to provide his youth with
fresh hues for another incarnation. Another element of his work
which is very finely revealed .and brought to a rare point of
characterisation in Virgin Soil, is the prophetic intention he
had of the woman's part in the new order. For the real hero of
the tale, as Mr. Edward Garnett has pointed out in an essay on
Turgenev, is not Nejdanov and not Solomin; the part is cast in
the woman's figure of Mariana who broke the silence of "anonymous
Russia." Ivan Turgenev had the understanding that goes beneath
the old delimitation of the novelist hide-bound by the law--"male
and female created he them."
He had the same extreme susceptibility to the moods of nature. He
loved her first for herself, and then with a sense of those
inherited primitive associations with her scenes and hid
influences which still play upon us to-day; and nothing could be
surer than the wilder or tamer glimpses which are seen in this
book and in its landscape settings of the characters. But Russ as
he is, he never lets his scenery hide his people: he only uses it
to enhance them. He is too great an artist to lose a human trait,
as we see even in a grotesque vignette like that of Fomishka and
Fimishka, or a chance picture like that of the Irish girl once
seen by Solomin in London.
Turgenev was born at Orel, son of a cavalry colonel, in ISIS. He
died in exile, like his early master in romance Heine--that is in
Paris-on the 4th of September, 1883. But at his own wish his
remains were carried home and buried in the Volkoff Cemetery, St.
Petersburg. The grey crow he had once seen in foreign fields and
addressed in a fit of homesickness
You are grizzled, I know,
But from Russia you come;
Ah me, there lies home!"
called him back to his mother country, whose true son he remained
despite all he suffered at her hands, and all the delicate
revenges of the artistic prodigal that he was tempted to take.
The following is the list of Turgenev's chief works:
ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF WORKS: Russian Life in the interior: or,
the Experiences of a Sportsman, from French version, by J. D.
Meiklejohn, 1855; Annals of a Sportsman, from French version, by
F. P. Abbott, 1885; Tales from the Notebook of a Sportsman, from
the Russian, by E. Richter, 1895; Fathers and Sons, from the
Russian, by E. Schuyler, 1867, 1883; Smoke: or, Life at Baden,
from French version, 1868, by W. F. West, 1872, 1883; Liza: or, a
Nest of Nobles, from the Russian, by W. R. S. Ralston, 1869,
1873, 1884; On the Eve, a tale, from the Russian, by C. E.
Turner, 1871; Dimitri Roudine, from French and German versions,
1873, 1883; Spring Floods, from the Russian, by S. M. Batts,
1874; from the Russian, by E. Richter, 1895; A Lear of the
Steppe, From the French, by W. H. Browne, 1874; Virgin Soil, from
the French, by T. S. Perry, 1877, 1883, by A. W. Dilke, 1878;
Poems in Prose, from the Russian, 1883; Senilia, Poems in Prose,
with a Biographical Sketch of the Author, by S. J. Macmillan,
1890; First Love, and Punin and Baburin from the Russian, with a
Biographcal Introduction, by S. Jerrold, 1884; Mumu, and the
Diary of a Superfluous Man, from the Russian, by H. Gersoni,
1884; Annouchka, a tale, from the French version, by F. P.
Abbott, 1884; from the Russian (with An Unfortunate Woman), by H.
Gersoni, 1886; The Unfortunate One, from the Russian, by A. R.
Thompson, 1888 (see above for Gersoni's translation); The Watch,
from the Russian, by J. E. Williams, 1893.
WORKS: Novels, translated by Constance Garnett, 15 vols., 1894-
99. 1906. Novels and Stories, translated by Isabel F. Hapgood,
with an Introduction by Henry James, 1903, etc.
LIFE: See above, Biograpical Introductions to Poems in Prose and
First Love; E. M. Arnold, Tourgueneff and his French Circle,
translated from the work of E. Halperine-Kaminsky, 1898; J. A. T.
Lloyd, Two Russian Reformers: Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, 1910.
"To turn over virgin soil it is necessary to use a deep plough
going well into the earth, not a surface plough gliding lightly
over the top."--From a Farmer's Notebook.
AT one o'clock in the afternoon of a spring day in the year 1868,
a young man of twenty-seven, carelessly and shabbily dressed, was
toiling up the back staircase of a five-storied house on Officers
Street in St. Petersburg. Noisily shuffling his down-trodden
goloshes and slowly swinging his heavy, clumsy figure, the man at
last reached the very top flight and stopped before a half-open
door hanging off its hinges. He did not ring the bell, but gave
a loud sigh and walked straight into a small, dark passage.
"Is Nejdanov at home?" he called out in a deep, loud voice.
"No, he's not. I'm here. Come in," an equally coarse woman's
voice responded from the adjoining room.
"Is that Mashurina?" asked the newcomer.
"Yes, it is I. Are you Ostrodumov?
"Pemien Ostrodumov," he replied, carefully removing his goloshes,
and hanging his shabby coat on a nail, he went into the room from
whence issued the woman's voice.
It was a narrow, untidy room, with dull green coloured walls,
badly lighted by two dusty windows. The furnishings consisted
of an iron bedstead standing in a corner, a table in the middle,
several chairs, and a bookcase piled up with books. At the table
sat a woman of about thirty. She was bareheaded, clad in a black
stuff dress, and was smoking a cigarette. On catching sight of
Ostrodumov she extended her broad, red hand without a word. He
shook it, also without saying anything, dropped into a chair and
pulled a half-broken cigar out of a side pocket. Mashurina gave
him a light, and without exchanging a single word, or so much as
looking at one another, they began sending out long, blue puffs
into the stuffy room, already filled with smoke.
There was something similar about these two smokers, although
their features were not a bit alike. In these two slovenly
figures, with their coarse lips, teeth, and noses (Ostrodumov was
even pock-marked), there was something honest and firm and
"Have you seen Nejdanov?" Ostrodumov asked.
"Yes. He will be back directly. He has gone to the library with
Ostrodumov spat to one side.
"Why is he always rushing about nowadays? One can never get hold
Mashurina took out another cigarette.
"He's bored," she remarked, lighting it carefully.
"Bored!" Ostrodumov repeated reproachfully. "What self-
indulgence! One would think we had no work to do. Heaven knows
how we shall get through with it, and he complains of being
"Have you heard from Moscow?" Mashurina asked after a pause.
"Yes. A letter came three days ago."
"Have you read it?"
Ostrodumov nodded his head.
"Well? What news?
"Some of us must go there soon."
Mashurina took the cigarette out of her mouth.
"But why?" she asked. "They say everything is going on well
"Yes, that is so, but one man has turned out unreliable and must
be got rid of. Besides that, there are other things. They want
you to come too."
"Do they say so in the letter?"
Mashurina shook back her heavy hair, which was twisted into a
small plait at the back, and fell over her eyebrows in front.
"Well," she remarked; "if the thing is settled, then there is
nothing more to be said."
"Of course not. Only one can't do anything without money, and
where are we to get it from?"
Mashurina became thoughtful.
"Nejdanov must get the money," she said softly, as if to herself.
"That is precisely what I have come about," Ostrodumov observed.
"Have you got the letter?" Mashurina asked suddenly.
"Yes. Would you like to see it?"
"I should rather. But never mind, we can read it together
"You need not doubt what I say. I am speaking the truth,"
"I do not doubt it in the least." They both ceased speaking and,
as before, clouds of smoke rose silently from their mouths and
curled feebly above their shaggy heads.
A sound of goloshes was heard from the passage.
"There he is," Mashurina whispered.
The door opened slightly and a head was thrust in, but it was not
the head of Nejdanov.
It was a round head with rough black hair, a broad wrinkled
forehead, bright brown eyes under thick eyebrows, a snub nose and
a humorously-set mouth. The head looked round, nodded, smiled,
showing a set of tiny white teeth, and came into the room with
its feeble body, short arms, and bandy legs, which were a little
lame. As soon as Mashurina and Ostrodumov caught sight of this
head, an expression of contempt mixed with condescension came
over their faces, as if each was thinking inwardly, "What a
nuisance!" but neither moved nor uttered a single word. The newly
arrived guest was not in the least taken aback by this reception,
however; on the contrary it seemed to amuse him.
"What is the meaning of this?" he asked in a squeaky voice. "A
duet? Why not a trio? And where's the chief tenor?
"Do you mean Nejdanov, Mr. Paklin?" Ostrodumov asked solemnly.
"Yes, Mr. Ostrodumov."
"He will be back directly, Mr. Paklin."
"I am glad to hear that, Mr. Ostrodumov."
The little cripple turned to Mashurina. She frowned, and
continued leisurely puffing her cigarette.
"How are you, my dear . . . my dear . . . I am so sorry. I always
forget your Christian name and your father's name."
Mashurina shrugged her shoulders.
"There is no need for you to know it. I think you know my
surname. What more do you want? And why do you always keep on
asking how I am? You see that I am still in the land of the
"Of course!" Paklin exclaimed, his face twitching nervously. "If
you had been elsewhere, your humble servant would not have had
the pleasure of seeing you here, and of talking to you! My
curiosity is due to a bad, old-fashioned habit. But with regard
to your name, it is awkward, somehow, simply to say Mashurina. I
know that even in letters you only sign yourself Bonaparte! I beg
pardon, Mashurina, but in conversation, however--"
"And who asks you to talk to me, pray?"
Paklin gave a nervous, gulpy laugh.
"Well, never mind, my dear. Give me your hand. Don't be cross. I
know you mean well, and so do I... Well?
Paklin extended his hand, Mashurina looked at him severely and
extended her own.
"If you really want to know my name," she said with the same
expression of severity on her face, "I am called Fiekla."
"And I, Pemien," Ostrodumov added in his bass voice.
"How very instructive! Then tell me, 0h Fiekla! and you, Oh Pemien!
why you are so unfriendly, so persistently unfriendly to me when
"Mashurina thinks," Ostrodumov interrupted him, "and not only
Mashurina, that you are not to be depended upon, because you
always laugh at everything."
Paklin turned round on his heels.
"That is the usual mistake people make about me, my dear Pemien!
In the first place, I am not always laughing, and even if I were,
that is no reason why you should not trust me. In the second, I
have been flattered with your confidence on more than one
occasion before now, a convincing proof of my trustworthiness. I
am an honest man, my dear Pemien."
Ostrodumov muttered something between his teeth, but Paklin
continued without the slightest trace of a smile on his face.
"No, I am not always laughing! I am not at all a cheerful person.
You have only to look at me!"
Ostrodumov looked at him. And really, when Paklin was not
laughing, when he was silent, his face assumed a dejected, almost
scared expression; it became funny and rather sarcastic only when
he opened his lips. Ostrodumov did not say anything, however, and
Paklin turned to Mashurina again.
"Well? And how are your studies getting on? Have you made any
progress in your truly philanthropical art? Is it very hard to
help an inexperienced citizen on his first appearance in this
"It is not at all hard if he happens to be no bigger than you
are!" Mashurina retorted with a self-satisfied smile. (She had
quite recently passed her examination as a midwife. Coming from a
poor aristocratic family, she had left her home in the south of
Russia about two years before, and with about twelve shillings in
her pocket had arrived in Moscow, where she had entered a lying-
in institution and had worked very hard to gain the necessary
certificate. She was unmarried and very chaste. "No wonder!" some
sceptics may say ( bearing in mind the description of her personal
appearance; but we will permit ourselves to say that it was
wonderful and rare).
Paklin laughed at her retort.
"Well done, my dear! I feel quite crushed! But it serves me right
for being such a dwarf! I wonder where our host has got to?"
Paklin purposely changed the subject of conversation, which was
rather a sore one to him. He could never resign himself to his
small stature, nor indeed to the whole of his unprepossessing
figure. He felt it all the more because he was passionately fond of
women and would have given anything to be attractive to them. The
consciousness of his pitiful appearance was a much sorer point
with him than his low origin and unenviable position in society.
His father, a member of the lower middle class, had, through all
sorts of dishonest means, attained the rank of titular
councillor. He had been fairly successful as an intermediary in
legal matters, and managed estates and house property. He had
made a moderate fortune, but had taken to drink towards the end
of his life and had left nothing after his death.
Young Paklin, he was called Sila--Sila Samsonitch, [Meaning strength,
son of Samson] and always regarded this name as a joke against
himself, was educated in a commercial school, where he had acquired
a good knowledge of German. After a great many difficulties he
had entered an office, where he received a salary of five hundred
roubles a year, out of which he had to keep himself, an invalid
aunt, and a humpbacked sister. At the time of our story Paklin
was twenty-eight years old. He had a great many acquaintances
among students and young people, who liked him for his cynical
wit, his harmless, though biting, self-confident speeches, his
one-sided, unpedantic, though genuine, learning, but occasionally
they sat on him severely. Once, on arriving late at a political
meeting, he hastily began excusing himself. "Paklin was afraid!"
some one sang out from a corner of the room, and everyone
laughed. Paklin laughed with them, although it was like a stab in
his heart. "He is right, the blackguard!" he thought to himself.
Nejdanov he had come across in a little Greek restaurant, where
he was in the habit of taking his dinner, and where he sat airing
his rather free and audacious views. He assured everyone that
the main cause of his democratic turn of mind was the bad Greek
cooking, which upset his liver.
"I wonder where our host has got to? " he repeated. "He has been
out of sorts lately. Heaven forbid that he should be in love!
"He has gone to the library for books. As for falling in love, he
has neither the time nor the opportunity."
"Why not with you?" almost escaped Paklin's lips.
"I should like to see him, because I have an important matter to
talk over with him," he said aloud.
"What about?" Ostrodumov asked. "Our affairs?"
"Perhaps yours; that is, our common affairs."
Ostrodumov hummed. He did not believe him. "Who knows? He's such
a busy body," he thought.
"There he is at last!" Mashurina exclaimed suddenly, and her
small unattractive eyes, fixed on the door, brightened, as if lit
up by an inner ray, making them soft and warm and tender.
The door opened, and this time a young man of twenty-three, with
a cap on his head and a bundle of books under his arm, entered
the room. It was Nejdanov himself.
AT the sight of visitors he stopped in the doorway, took them in
at a glance, threw off his cap, dropped the books on to the
floor, walked over to the bed, and sat down on the very edge. An
expression of annoyance and displeasure passed over his pale
handsome face, which seemed even paler than it really was, in
contrast to his dark-red, wavy hair.
Mashurina turned away and bit her lip; Ostrodumov muttered, "At
Paklin was the first to approach him.
"Why, what is the matter, Alexai Dmitritch, Hamlet of Russia? Has
something happened, or are you just simply depressed, without any
"Oh, stop! Mephistopheles of Russia!" Nejdanov exclaimed
irritably. "I am not in the mood for fencing with blunt
witticisms just now."
"That's not quite correct. If it is wit, then it can't be blunt.
If blunt, then it can't be wit."
"All right, all right! We know you are clever!
"Your nerves are out of order," Paklin remarked hesitatingly. "Or
has something really happened?"
"Oh, nothing in particular, only that it is impossible to show
one's nose in this hateful town without knocking against some
vulgarity, stupidity, tittle-tattle, or some horrible injustice.
One can't live here any longer!"
"Is that why your advertisement in the papers says that you want
a place and have no objection to leaving St. Petersburg? "
"Yes. I would go away from here with the greatest of pleasure, if
some fool could be found who would offer me a place!"
"You should first fullfil your duties here," Mashurina remarked
significantly, her face still turned away.
"What duties?" Nejdanov asked, turning towards her.
Mashurina bit her lip. "Ask Ostrodumov."
Nejdanov turned to Ostrodumov. The latter hummed and hawed, as if
to say, "Wait a minute."
"But seriously," Paklin broke in, "have you heard any unpleasant
Nejdanov bounced up from the bed like an india-rubber ball. "What
more do you want?" he shouted out suddenly, in a ringing voice.
"Half of Russia is dying of hunger! The Moscow News is triumphant!
They want to introduce classicism, the students' benefit clubs
have been closed, spies everywhere, oppression, lies, betrayals,
deceit! And it is not enough for him! He wants some new
unpleasantness! He thinks that I am joking. . . . Basanov has
been arrested," he added, lowering his voice. "I heard it at the
Mashurina and Ostrodumov lifted their heads simultaneously.
"My dear Alexai Dmitritch," Paklin began, "you are upset, and for
a very good reason. But have you forgotten in what times and in
what country we are living? Amongst us a drowning man must
himself create the straw to clutch at. Why be sentimental over
it? One must look the devil straight in the face and not get
excited like children--"
"Oh, don't, please!" Nejdanov interrupted him desperately,
frowning as if in pain. "We know you are energetic and not afraid
"I--not afraid of anything?" Paklin began.
"I wonder who could have betrayed Basanov? "Nejdanov continued.
"I simply can't understand!"
"A friend no doubt. Friends are great at that. One must look
alive! I once had a friend, who seemed a good fellow; he was
always concerned about me and my reputation. 'I say, what
dreadful stories are being circulated about you!' he would greet
me one day. 'They say that you poisoned your uncle and that on
one occasion, when you were introduced into a certain house, you
sat the whole evening with your back to the hostess and that she
was so upset that she cried at the insult! What awful nonsense!
What fools could possibly believe such things!' Well, and what do
you think? A year after I quarrelled with this same friend, and
in his farewell letter to me he wrote, 'You who killed your own
uncle! You who were not ashamed to insult an honourable lady by
sitting with your back to her,' and so on and so on. Here are
friends for you!"
Ostrodumov and Mashurina exchanged glances.
"Alexai Dmitritch!" Ostrodumov exclaimed in his heavy bass voice;
he was evidently anxious to avoid a useless discussion. "A letter
has come from Moscow, from Vassily Nikolaevitch."
Nejdanov trembled slightly and cast down his eyes.
"What does he say? " he asked at last.
"He wants us to go there with her." Ostrodumov indicated to
Mashurina with his eyebrows.
"Do they want her too?'
"Well, what's the difficulty?
"Why, money, of course."
Nejdanov got up from the bed and walked over to the window.
"How much do you want?"
"Not less than fifty roubles."
Nejdanov was silent.
"I have no money just now," he whispered at last, drumming his
fingers on the window pane, "but I could get some. Have you got
"Yes, it . . . that is . . . certainly. . ."
"Why are you always trying to keep things from me?" Paklin
exclaimed. "Have I not deserved your confidence? Even if I were
not fully in sympathy with what you are undertaking, do you think
for a moment that I am in a position to turn around or gossip?"
"Without intending to, perhaps," Ostrodumov remarked.
"Neither with nor without intention! Miss Mashurina is looking at
me with a smile . . . but I say--"
"I am not smiling!" Mashurina burst out.
"But I say," Paklin went on, "that you have no tact. You are
utterly incapable of recognising your real friends. If a man can
laugh, then you think that he can't be serious--"
"Is it not so?" Mashurina snapped.
"You are in need of money, for instance," Paklin continued with
new force, paying no attention to Mashurina; "Nejdanov hasn't
any. I could get it for you."
Nejdanov wheeled round from the window.
"No, no. It is not necessary. I can get the money. I will draw
some of my allowance in advance. Now I recollect, they owe me
something. Let us look at the letter, Ostrodumov."
Ostrodumov remained motionless for a time, then he looked around,
stood up, bent down, turned up one of the legs of his trousers,
and carefully pulled a piece of blue paper out of his high boot,
blew at it for some reason or another, and handed it to Nejdanov.
The latter took the piece of paper, unfolded it, read it
carefully, and passed it on to Mashurina. She stood up, also read
it, and handed it back to Nejdanov, although Paklin had extended
his hand for it. Nejdanov shrugged his shoulders and gave the
secret letter to Paklin. The latter scanned the paper in his
turn, pressed his lips together significantly, and laid it
solemnly on the table. Ostrodumov took it, lit a large match,
which exhaled a strong odour of sulphur, lifted the paper high
above his head, as if showing it to all present, set fire to it,
and, regardless of his fingers, put the ashes into the stove. No
one moved or pronounced a word during this proceeding; all had
their eyes fixed on the floor. Ostrodumov looked concentrated and
business-like, Nejdanov furious, Paklin intense, and Mashurina as
if she were present at holy mass.
About two minutes went by in this way, everyone feeling
uncomfortable. Paklin was the first to break the silence.
"Well?" he began. "Is my sacrifice to be received on the altar of
the fatherland? Am I permitted to bring, if not the whole at any
rate, twenty-five or thirty roubles for the common cause?"
Nejdanov flared up. He seemed to be boiling over with annoyance,
which was not lessened by the solemn burning of the letter--he
was only waiting for an opportunity to burst out.
"I tell you that I don't want it, don't want, don't want it! I'll
not allow it and I'll not take it! I can get the money. I can get
it at once. I am not in need of anyone's help!
"My dear Alexai," Paklin remarked, "I see that you are not a
democrat in spite of your being a revolutionist!"
"Why not say straight out that I'm an aristocrat?"
"So you are up to a certain point."
Nejdanov gave a forced laugh.
"I see you are hinting at the fact of my being illegitimate. You
can save yourself the trouble, my dear boy. I am not likely to
Paklin threw up his arms in despair.
"Aliosha! What is the matter with you? How can you twist my words
so? I hardly know you today."
Nejdanov shrugged his shoulders.
"Basanov's arrest has upset you, but he was so careless--"
He did not hide his convictions," Mashurina put in gloomily. "It
is not for us to sit in judgment upon him!"
"Quite so; only he might have had a little more consideration for
others, who are likely to be compromised through him now."
"What makes you think so?" Ostrodumov bawled out in his turn.
"Basanov has plenty of character, he will not betray anyone.
Besides, not every one can be cautious you know, Mr. Paklin."
Paklin was offended and was about to say something when Nejdanov
"I vote we leave politics for a time, ladies and gentlemen!" he
A silence ensued.
"I ran across Skoropikin today," Paklin was the first to begin.
"Our great national critic, aesthetic, and enthusiast! What an
insufferable creature! He is forever boiling and frothing over
like a bottle of sour kvas. A waiter runs with it, his finger
stuck in the bottle instead of a cork, a fat raisin in the neck,
and when it has done frothing and foaming there is nothing left
at the bottom but a few drops of some nasty stuff, which far from
quenching any one's thirst is enough to make one ill. He's a most
dangerous person for young people to come in contact with."
Paklin's true and rather apt comparison raised no smile on his
listeners' faces, only Nejdanov remarked that if young people
were fools enough to interest themselves in aesthetics, they
deserved no pity whatever, even if Skoropikin did lead them
"Of course," Paklin exclaimed with some warmth--the less sympathy
he met with, the more heated he became--" I admit that the
question is not a political one, but an important one,
nevertheless. According to Skoropikin, every ancient work of art
is valueless because it is old. If that were true, then art would
be reduced to nothing more or less than mere fashion. A
preposterous idea, not worth entertaining. If art has no firmer
foundation than that, if it is not eternal, then it is utterly
useless. Take science, for instance. In mathematics do you look
upon Euler, Laplace, or Gauss as fools? Of course not. You accept
their authority. Then why question the authority of Raphael and
Mozart? I must admit, however, that the laws of art are far more
difficult to define than the laws of nature, but they exist just
the same, and he who fails to see them is blind, whether he shuts
his eyes to them purposely or not."
Paklin ceased, but no one uttered a word. They all sat with
tightly closed mouths as if feeling unutterably sorry for him.
"All the same," Ostrodumov remarked, " I am not in the least
sorry for the young people who run after Skoropikin."
"You are hopeless," Paklin thought. "I had better be going."
He went up to Nejdanov, intending to ask his opinion about
smuggling in the magazine, the "Polar Star", from abroad (the "Bell"
had already ceased to exist), but the conversation took such a
turn that it was impossible to raise the question. Paklin had
already taken up his hat, when suddenly, without the slightest
warning, a wonderfully pleasant, manly baritone was heard from
the passage. The very sound of this voice suggested something
gentle, fresh, and well-bred.
"Is Mr. Nejdanov at home?"
They all looked at one another in amazement.
"Is Mr. Nejdanov at home?" the baritone repeated.
"Yes, he is," Nejdanov replied at last.
The door opened gently and a man of about forty entered the room
and slowly removed his glossy hat from his handsome, closely
cropped head. He was tall and well-made, and dressed in a
beautiful cloth coat with a gorgeous beaver collar, although it
was already the end of April. He impressed Nejdanov and Paklin,
and even Mashurina and Ostrodumov, with his elegant, easy
carriage and courteous manner. They all rose instinctively on his
THE elegantly dressed man went up to Nejdanov with an amiable
smile and began: "I have already had the pleasure of meeting you
and even speaking to you, Mr. Nejdanov, the day before yesterday,
if you remember, at the theatre." (The visitor paused, as though
waiting for Nejdanov to make some remark, but the latter merely
bowed slightly and blushed.) "I have come to see you about your
advertisement, which I noticed in the paper. I should like us to
have a talk if your visitors would not mind. . ." (He bowed to
Mashurina, and waved a grey-gloved hand in the direction of
Paklin and Ostrodumov.)
"Not at all," Nejdanov replied awkwardly. "Won't you sit down?"
The visitor bowed from the waist, drew a chair to himself, but
did not sit down, as every oneelse was standing. He merely gazed
around the room with his bright though half-closed eyes.
"Goodbye, Alexai Dmitritch," Mashurina exclaimed suddenly. "I
will come again presently."
"And I too," Ostrodumov added.
Mashurina did not take the slightest notice of the visitor as she
passed him, but went straight up to Nejdanov, gave him a hearty
shake of the hand, and left the room without bowing to anyone.
Ostrodumov followed her, making an unnecessary noise with his
boots, and snorting out once or twice contemptuously, "There's a
beaver collar for you!"
The visitor accompanied them with a polite though slightly
inquisitive look, and then directed his gaze to Paklin, hoping
the latter would follow their example, but Paklin withdrew into a
corner and settled down. A peculiarly suppressed smile played on
his lips ever since the appearance of the stranger. The visitor
and Nejdanov also sat down.
"My name is Sipiagin. You may perhaps have heard of me," the
visitor began with modest pride.
We must first relate how Nejdanov had met him at the theatre.
There had been a performance of Ostrovsky's play "Never Sit in
Another Man's Sledge", on the occasion of the great actor
Sadovsky's coming from Moscow. Rusakov, one of the characters in
the play, was known to be one of his favourite parts. Just before
dinner on that day, Nejdanov went down to the theatre to book a
ticket, but found a large crowd already waiting there. He walked
up to the desk with the intention of getting a ticket for the
pit, when an officer, who happened to be standing behind him,
thrust a three-rouble note over Nejdanov's head and called out to
the man inside: "He" (meaning Nejdanov) "will probably want
change. I don't. Give me a ticket for the stalls, please. Make
haste, I'm in a hurry!"
"Excuse me, sir, I want a ticket for the stalls myself!Nejdanov exclaimed,
throwing down a three-rouble note, all the ready money he possessed. He got
his ticket, and in the evening appeared in the aristocratic part of the
He was badly dressed, without gloves and in dirty boots. He was
uncomfortable and angry with himself for feeling uncomfortable. A
general with numerous orders glittering on his breast sat on his
right, and on his left this same elegant Sipiagin, whose
appearance two days later at Nejdanov's so astonished Mashurina
and Ostrodumov. The general stared at Nejdanov every now and
again, as though at something indecent, out of place, and
offensive. Sipiagin looked at him sideways, but did not seem
unfriendly. All the people surrounding him were evidently
personages of some importance, and as they all knew one another,
they kept exchanging remarks, exclamations, greetings,
occasionally even over Nejdanov's head. He sat there motionless
and ill at ease in his spacious armchair, feeling like an
outcast. Ostrovsky's play and Sadovsky's acting afforded him but
little pleasure, and he felt bitter at heart. When suddenly, Oh
wonder! During one of the intervals, his neighbour on the left,
not the glittering general, but the other with no marks of
distinction on his breast, addressed him politely and kindly, but
somewhat timidly. He asked him what he thought of Ostrovsky's
play, wanted to know his opinion of it as a representative of the
new generation. Nejdanov, overwhelmed and half frightened, his
heart beating fast, answered at first curtly, in monosyllables,
but soon began to be annoyed with his own excitement. "After
all," he thought, " am I not a man like everybody else? "And
began expressing his opinions quite freely, without any
restraint. He got so carried away by his subject, and spoke so
loudly, that he quite alarmed the order-bedecked general.
Nejdanov was a strong admirer of Ostrovsky, but could not help
feeling, in spite of the author's great genius, his evident
desire to throw a slur on modern civilisation in the burlesqued
character of Veherov, in "Never Sit in Another Man's Sledge".
His polite neighbour listened to him attentively, evidently
interested in what he said. He spoke to him again in the next
interval, not about the play this time, but about various matters
of everyday life, about science, and even touched upon political
questions. He was decidedly interested in his eloquent young
companion. Nejdanov did not feel in the least constrained as
before, but even began to assume airs, as if saying, "If you
really want to know, I can satisfy your curiosity!" The general's
annoyance grew to indignation and even suspicion.
After the play Sipiagin took leave of Nejdanov very courteously,
but did not ask his name, neither did he tell him his own. While
waiting for his carriage, he ran against a friend, a certain
Prince G., an aide-de-camp.
"I watched you from my box," the latter remarked, through a
perfumed moustache. "Do you know whom you were speaking to?"
"No. Do you? A rather clever chap. Who is he?"
The prince whispered in his ear in French. "He is my brother . .
.. illegitimate. . . . His name is Nejdanov. I will tell you all
about it someday. My father did not in the least expect that
sort of thing, that was why he called him Nejdanov. [The
unexpected.] But he looked after him all right. Il lui a fait un
sort. We make him an allowance to live on. He is not stupid. Had
quite a good education, thanks to my father. But he has gone
quite off the track--I think he's a republican. We refuse to have
anything to do with him. Il est impossible. Goodbye, I see my
carriage is waiting."
The prince separated.
The next day Sipiagin noticed Nejdanov's advertisement in the
paper and went to see him.
"My name is Sipiagin," he repeated, as he sat in front of
Nejdanov, surveying him with a dignified air. "I see by your
advertisement that you are looking for a post, and I should like
to know if you would be willing to come to me. I am married and
have a boy of eight, a very intelligent child, I may say. We
usually spend the summer and autumn in the country, in the
province of S., about five miles from the town of that name. I
should like you to come to us for the vacation to teach my boy
Russian history and grammar. I think those were the subjects you
mentioned in your advertisement. I think you will get on with us
all right, and I am sure you will like the neighbourhood. We have
a large house and garden, the air is excellent, and there is a
river close by. Well, would you like to come? We shall only have
to come to terms, although I do not think," he added, with a
slight grimace, "that there will be any difficulty on that point
Nejdanov watched Sipiagin all the time he was speaking. He gazed
at his small head, bent a little to one side, his low, narrow,
but intelligent forehead, his fine Roman nose, pleasant eyes,
straight lips, out of which his words flowed graciously; he gazed
at his drooping whiskers, kept in the English fashion, gazed and
wondered. "What does it all mean?" he asked himself. "Why has
this man come to seek me out? This aristocrat and I! What have we
in common? What does he see in me?"
He was so lost in thought that he did not open his lips when
Sipiagin, having finished speaking, evidently awaited an answer.
Sipiagin cast a look into the corner where Paklin sat, also
watching him. "Perhaps the presence of a third person prevents
him from saying what he would like," flashed across Sipiagin's
mind. He raised his eyebrows, as if in submission to the
strangeness of the surroundings he had come to of his own accord,
and repeated his question a second time.
"Of course," he began hurriedly, "I should like to...with pleasure
.. . . only I must confess . . . I am rather surprised . . .
having no recommendations . . . and the views I expressed at the
theatre were more calculated to prejudice you--"
"There you are quite mistaken Alexai--Alexai Dmitritch--have I
got the name right?" Sipiagin asked with a smile. "I may venture
to say that I am well known for my liberal and progressive
opinions. On the contrary, what you said the other evening, with
the exception perhaps of any youthful characteristics, which are
always rather given to exaggeration, if you will excuse my saying
so, I fully agreed with, and was even delighted with your
Sipiagin spoke without the slightest hesitation, his words
flowing from him as a stream.
"My wife shares my way of thinking," he continued. "her views
are, if anything, more like yours than mine, which is not
surprising, considering that she is younger than I am. When I
read your name in the paper the day after our meeting--and by the
way, you announced your name and address contrary to the usual
custom--I was rather struck by the coincidence, having already
heard it at the theatre. It seemed to me like the finger of fate.
Excuse my being so superstitious. As for recommendations, I do
not think they are necessary in this case. I, like you, am
accustomed to trusting my intuition. May I hope that you will
"Yes, I will come," Nejdanov replied, "and will try to be worthy
of your confidence. But there is one thing I should like to
mention. I could undertake to teach your boy, but am not prepared
to look after him. I do not wish to undertake anything that would
interfere with my freedom."
Sipiagin gave a slight wave of the hand, as if driving away a
"You may be easy on that point. You are not made that way. I only
wanted a tutor, and I have found one. Well, now, how about terms?
Financial terms, that is. Base metal!"
Nejdanov did not know what to say.
"I think," Sipiagin went on, bending forward and touching
Nejdanov with the tips of his fingers, "that decent people can
settle such things in two words. I will give you a hundred
roubles a month and all travelling expenses. Will you come?
"That is more than I wanted to ask . . . because I--"
"Well," Sipiagin interrupted him, "I look upon the matter as
settled, and consider you as a member of our household." He rose
from his chair, and became quite gay and expansive, as if he had
just received a present. A certain amiable familiarity, verging
on the playful, began to show itself in all his gestures. " We
shall set out in a day or two," he went on, in an easy tone.
"There is nothing I love better than meeting spring in the
country, although I am a busy, prosaic sort of person, tied to
town. . . I want you to count your first month as beginning
from today. My wife and boy have already started, and are
probably in Moscow by now. We shall find them in the lap of
nature. We will go alone, like two bachelors, ha, ha!" Sipiagin
laughed coquettishly, through his nose. "And now--"
He took a black and silver pocketbook out of his overcoat pocket
and pulled out a card.
"This is my address. Come and see me tomorrow at about twelve
o'clock. We can talk things over further. I should like to tell
you a few of my views on education. We can also decide when to
Sipiagin took Nejdanov's hand. "By the way," he said, lowering
his voice and bending his head a little to one side, "if you are
in need of money, please do not stand on ceremony. I can let you
have a month's pay in advance."
Nejdanov was at a loss to know what to say. He gazed, with the
same puzzled expression, at the kind, bright face, which was so
strange yet so close to him, smiling encouragingly.
"You are not in need of any?" Sipiagin asked in a whisper.
"I will tell you tomorrow, if I may," Nejdanov said at last.
"Well, goodbye, then. Till tomorrow." Sipiagin dropped
Nejdanov's hand and turned to go out.
"I should like to know," Nejdanov asked suddenly, "who told you
my name? You said you heard it at the theatre."
"Someone who is very well known to you. A relative of yours, I
think. Prince G."
Nejdanov flushed even redder than before, but did not say
anything. Sipiagin shook his hand again, without a word this
time, then bowing first to him and then to Paklin, put on his hat
at the door, and went out with a self-satisfied smile on his
lips, denoting the deep impression the visit must have produced
SIPIAGIN had barely crossed the threshold when Paklin jumped up,
and rushing across to Nejdanov began showering congratulations
"What a fine catch!" he exclaimed laughing, scarcely able to
stand still. "Do you know who he is? He's quite a celebrity, a
chamberlain, one of our pillars of society, a future minister!"
"I have never heard of him," Nejdanov remarked dejectedly.
Paklin threw up his arms in despair.
"That's just where we are mistaken, Alexai Dmitritch! We never
know anyone. We want to do things, to turn the whole world
upside down, and are living outside this very world, amidst two
or three friends, jostling each other in our narrow little
"Excuse me," Nejdanov put in. "I don't think that is quite true.
We certainly do not go amongst the enemy, but are constantly
mixing with our own kind, and with the masses."
"Just a minute! " Paklin interrupted, in his turn. "Talking of
enemies reminds me of Goethe's lines--
Wer den Dichter will versteh'n
Muss im Dichter's lands geh'n.
and I say--
Wer den Feinde will versteh'n
Muss im Feinde's lands geh'n.
To turn one's back on one's enemies, not to try and understand
their manner of life, is utterly stupid! Yes, utterly stu-pid! If
I want to shoot a wolf in the forest, I must first find out his
haunts. You talked of coming in contact with the people just now.
My dear boy! In 1862 the Poles formed their revolutionary bands
in the forest; we are just about to enter that same forest, I
mean the people, where it is no less dark and dense than in the
"Then what would you have us do?"
"The Hindus cast themselves under the wheels of the Juggernaut,"
Paklin continued; "they were mangled to pieces and died in
ecstasy. We, also, have our Juggernaut--it crushes and mangles
us, but there is no ecstasy in it."
"Then what would you have us do?" Nejdanov almost screamed at
him. "Would you have us write preachy novels?
Paklin folded his arms and put his head on one side.
"You, at any rate, could write novels. You have a decidedly
literary turn of mind. All right, I won't say anything about it.
I know you don't like it being mentioned. I know it is not very
exciting to write the sort of stuff wanted, and in the modern
style too. "'Oh, I love you," she bounded--'"
"It's all the same to me," he replied, scratching himself.
"That is precisely why I advise you to get to know all sorts and
conditions, beginning from the very highest. We must not be
entirely dependent on people like Ostrodumov! They are very
honest, worthy folk, but so hopelessly stupid! You need only look
at our friend. The very soles of his boots are not like those
worn by intelligent people. Why did he hurry away just now? Only
because he did not want to be in the same room with an
aristocrat, to breathe the same air--"
"Please don't talk like that about Ostrodumov before me!"
Nejdanov burst out. "He wears thick boots because they are
"I did not mean it in that sense," Paklin began.
"If he did not wish to remain in the same room with an
aristocrat," Nejdanov continued, raising his voice, "I think it
very praiseworthy on his part, and what is more, he is capable of
sacrificing himself, will face death, if necessary, which is more
than you or I will ever do!
Paklin made a sad grimace, and pointed to his scraggy, crippled
"Now do I look like a warrior, my dear Alexai Dmitritch? But
enough of this. I am delighted that you met this Sipiagin, and
can even foresee something useful to our cause as a result of it.
You will find yourself in the highest society, will come in
contact with those wonderful beauties one hears about, women with
velvety bodies on steel springs, as it says in "Letters on Spain".
Get to know them, my dear fellow. If you were at all inclined to
be an Epicurean, I should really be afraid to let you go. But
those are not the objects with which you are going, are they?"
"I am going away," Nejdanov said, "to earn my living. And to get
away from you all," he added to himself.
"Of course, of course! That is why I advise you to learn. Fugh!
What a smell this gentleman has left behind him!" Paklin sniffed
the air. "The very ambrosia that the governor's wife longed for
in Gogol's 'Revisor'!"
"He discussed me with Prince G.," Nejdanov remarked dejectedly.
"I suppose he knows my whole history now."
"You need not suppose; you may be quite sure of it! But what does
it matter? I wouldn't mind betting that that was the very reason
for his wanting to engage you. You will be able to hold your own
with the best of them. You are an aristocrat yourself by blood,
and consequently an equal. However, I have stayed too long. I
must go back to the exploiter's, to my office. Goodbye."
Paklin went to the door, but stopped and turned back.
"I say, Aliosha," he began in a persuasive tone of voice, you
have only just refused me, and I know you will not be short of
money now; but, all the same, do allow me to sacrifice just a
little for the cause. I can't do anything else, so let me help
with my pocket! I have put ten roubles on the table. Will you
Nejdanov remained motionless, and did not say anything. "Silence
means consent! Thanks!" Paklin exclaimed gaily and vanished.
Nejdanov was left alone. He continued gazing out into the narrow,
gloomy court, unpenetrated by the sun even in summer, and he felt
sad and gloomy at heart.
We already know that Nejdanov's father was Prince G., a rich
adjutant-general. His mother was the daughter of the general's
governess, a pretty girl who died on the day of Nejdanov's birth.
He received his early education in a boarding school kept by a
certain Swiss, a very energetic and severe pedagogue, after which
he entered the university. His great ambition was to study law,
but his father, who had a violent hatred for nihilists, made him
go in for history and philology, or for "aesthetics" as Nejdanov
put it with a bitter smile. His father used to see him about four
times a year in all, but was, nevertheless, interested in his
welfare, and when he died, left him a sum of six thousand roubles
"in memory of Nastinka" his mother. Nejdanov received the
interest on this money from his brothers the Princes G., which
they were pleased to call an allowance.
Paklin had good reason to call him an aristocrat. Everything about
him betokened his origin. His tiny ears, hands, feet, his small but
fine features, delicate skin, wavy hair; his very voice was pleasant,
although it was slightly guttural. He was highly strung, frightfully
conceited, very susceptible, and even capricious. The false
position he had been placed in from childhood had made him
sensitive and irritable, but his natural generosity had kept him
from becoming suspicious and mistrustful. This same false
position was the cause of an utter inconsistency, which permeated
his whole being. He was fastidiously accurate and horribly
squeamish, tried to be cynical and coarse in his speech, but was
an idealist by nature. He was passionate and pure-minded, bold
and timid at the same time, and, like a repentant sinner, ashamed
of his sins; he was ashamed alike of his timidity and his purity,
and considered it his duty to scoff at all idealism. He had an
affectionate heart, but held himself aloof from everybody, was
easily exasperated, but never bore ill-will. He was furious with
his father for having made him take up "aesthetics," openly
interested himself in politics and social questions, professed
the most extreme views (which meant more to him than mere words),
but secretly took a delight in art, poetry, beauty in all its
manifestations, and in his inspired moments wrote verses. It is
true that he carefully hid the copy-book in which they were
written, and none of his St. Petersburg friends, with the
exception of Paklin, and he only by his peculiar intuitiveness,
suspected its existence. Nothing hurt or offended Nejdanov more
than the smallest allusion to his poetry, which he regarded as an
unpardonable weakness in himself. His Swiss schoolmaster had
taught him a great many things, and he was not afraid of hard
work. He applied himself readily and zealously, but did not work
consecutively. All his friends loved him. They were attracted by
his natural sense of justice, his kindness, and his pure-
mindedness, but Nejdanov was not born under a lucky star, and did
not find life an easy matter. He was fully conscious of this fact
and felt utterly lonely in spite of the untiring devotion of his
He stood meditating at the window. Sad, oppressive thoughts rose
up in his mind one after another about the prospective journey,
the new and unexpected change that was coming into his life. He
had no regrets at the thought of leaving St. Petersburg, as he
would leave nothing behind that was especially dear to him, and
he knew that he would be back in the autumn; but he was pervaded
by the spirit of indecision, and an involuntary melancholy came
"A fine tutor I shall make!" flashed across his mind. "Am I cut
out for a schoolmaster?" He was ready to reproach himself for
having undertaken the duties of a tutor, and would have been
unjust in doing so. Nejdanov was sufficiently cultured, and, in
spite of his uncertain temperament, children grew readily fond of
him and he of them. His depression was due to that feeling which
takes possession of one before any change of place, a feeling
experienced by all melancholy, dreaming people and unknown to
those of energetic, sanguine temperaments, who always rejoice at
any break in the humdrum of their daily existence, and welcome a
change of abode with pleasure. Nejdanov was so lost in his
meditations that his thoughts began quite unconsciously to take
the form of words. His wandering sensations began to arrange
themselves into measured cadences.
"Damn!" he exclaimed aloud. "I'm wandering off into poetry!" He
shook himself and turned away from the window. He caught sight of
Paklin's ten-rouble note, put it in his pocket, and began pacing
up and down the room.
"I must get some money in advance," he thought to himself. "What
a good thing this gentleman suggested it. A hundred roubles . . .
a hundred from my brothers--their excellencies. . . . I want fifty
to pay my debts, fifty or seventy for the journey--and the rest
Ostrodumov can have. Then there are Paklin's ten roubles in
addition, and I dare say I can get something from Merkulov--"
In the midst of these calculations the rhythmic cadences began to
reassert themselves. He stood still, as if rooted to the spot,
with fixed gaze. After a while his hands involuntarily found
their way to the table drawer, from which he pulled out a much-
used copy-book. He dropped into a chair with the same fixed look,
humming softly to himself and every now and again shaking back
his wavy hair, began writing line after line, sometimes
scratching out and rewriting.
The door leading into the passage opened slightly and Mashurina's
head appeared. Nejdanov did not notice her and went on writing.
Mashurina stood looking at him intently for some time, shook her
head, and drew it back again. Nejdanov sat up straight, and
suddenly catching sight of her, exclaimed with some annoyance:
"Oh, is that you?" and thrust the copy-book into the drawer
Mashurina came into the room with a firm step.
"Ostrodumov asked me to come," she began deliberately.
"He would like to know when we can have the money. If you could
get it today, we could start this evening."
"I can't get it today," Nejdanov said with a frown. Please come
"At what time?"
Mashurina was silent for a while and then extended her hand.
"I am afraid I interrupted you. I am so sorry. But then. . . I
am going away. . . who knows if we shall ever meet again. . .
I wanted to say goodbye to you."
Nejdanov pressed her cold, red fingers. "You know the man who was
here today," he began. "I have come to terms with him, and am
going with him. His place is down in the province of S., not far
from the town itself."
A glad smile lit up Mashurina's face.
"Near S. did you say? Then we may see each other again perhaps.
They might send us there!" Mashurina sighed. "Oh, Alexai
"What is it?" Nejdanov asked.
Mashurina looked intense.
"Oh, nothing. Goodbye. It's nothing." She squeezed Nejdanov's
hand a second time and went out.
"There is not a soul in St. Petersburg who is so attached to me
as this eccentric person," he thought. " I wish she had not
interrupted me though. However, I suppose it's for the best."
The next morning Nejdanov called at Sipiagin's townhouse and was
shown into a magnificent study, furnished in a rather severe
style, but quite in keeping with the dignity of a statesman of
liberal views. The gentleman himself was sitting before an
enormous bureau, piled up with all sorts of useless papers,
arrayed in the strictest order, and numerous ivory paper-knives,
which had never been known to cut anything. During the space of
an hour Nejdanov listened to the wise, courteous, patronising
speeches of his host, received a hundred roubles, and ten days
later was leaning back in the plush seat of a reserved first-
class compartment, side by side with this same wise, liberal
politician, being borne along to Moscow on the jolting lines of
the Nikolaevsky Railway.
IN the drawing room of a large stone house with a Greek front--
built in the twenties of the present century by Sipiagin's
father, a well-known landowner, who was distinguished by the free
use of his fists--Sipiagin's wife, Valentina Mihailovna, a very
beautiful woman, having been informed by telegram of her
husband's arrival, sat expecting him every moment. The room was
decorated in the best modern taste. Everything in it was charming
and inviting, from the wails hung in variegated cretonne and
beautiful curtains, to the various porcelain, bronze, and crystal
knickknacks arranged upon the tables and cabinets; the whole
blending together into a subdued harmony and brightened by the
rays of the May sun, which was streaming in through the wide-open
windows. The still air, laden with the scent of lily-of-the-
valley (large bunches of these beautiful spring flowers were
placed about the room), was stirred from time to time by a slight
breeze from without, blowing gently over the richly grown garden.
What a charming picture! And the mistress herself, Valentina
Mihailovna Sipiagina, put the finishing touch to it, gave it
meaning and life. She was a tall woman of about thirty, with dark
brown hair, a fresh dark complexion, resembling the Sistine
Madonna, with wonderfully deep, velvety eyes. Her pale lips were
somewhat too full, her shoulders perhaps too square, her hands
rather too large, but, for all that, anyone seeing her as she
flitted gracefully about the drawing room, bending from her
slender waist to sniff at the flowers with a smile on her lips,
or arranging some Chinese vase, or quickly readjusting her glossy
hair before the looking-glass, half-closing her wonderful eyes,
anyone would have declared that there could not be a more
A pretty curly-haired boy of about nine burst into the room and
stopped suddenly on catching sight of her. He was dressed in a
Highland costume, his legs bare, and was very much befrizzled and
"What do you want, Kolia?" Valentina Mihailovna asked. Her voice
was as soft and velvety as her eyes.
"Mamma," the boy began in confusion, "auntie sent me to get some
lilies-of-the-valley for her room. . . . She hasn't got any--"
Valentina Mihailovna put her hand under her little boy's chin and
raised his pomaded head.
"Tell auntie that she can send to the gardener for flowers. These
are mine. I don't want them to be touched. Tell her that I don't
like to upset my arrangements. Can you repeat what I said?"
"Yes, I can," the boy whispered.
"Well, repeat it then."
"I will say . . . I will say . . . that you don't want."
Valentina Mihailovna laughed, and her laugh, too, was soft.
"I see that one can't give you messages as yet. But never mind,
tell her anything you like."
The boy hastily kissed his mother's hand, adorned with rings, and
rushed out of the room.
Valentina Mihailovna looked after him, sighed, walked up to a
golden wire cage, on one side of which a green parrot was
carefully holding on with its beak and claws. She teased it a
little with the tip of her finger, then dropped on to a narrow
couch, and picking up a number of the "Revue des Deux Mondes" from
a round carved table, began turning over its pages.
A respectful cough made her look round. A handsome servant in
livery and a white cravat was standing by the door.
"What do you want, Agafon?" she asked in the same soft voice.
"Simion Petrovitch Kollomietzev is here. Shall I show him in?
"Certainly. And tell Mariana Vikentievna to come to the drawing
Valentina Mihailovna threw the "Revue des Deux Mondes" on the
table, raised her eyes upwards as if thinking--a pose which
suited her extremely.
From the languid, though free and easy, way in which Simion
Petrovitch Kollomietzev, a young man of thirty-two, entered the
room; from the way in which he brightened suddenly, bowed
slightly to one side, and drew himself up again gracefully; from
the manner in which he spoke, not too harshly, nor too gently;
from the respectful way in which he kissed Valentina Mihailovna's
hand, one could see that the new-comer was not a mere provincial,
an ordinary rich country neighbour, but a St. Petersburg grandee
of the highest society. He was dressed in the latest English
fashion. A corner of the coloured border of his white cambric
pocket handkerchief peeped out of the breast pocket of his tweed
coat, a monocle dangled on a wide black ribbon, the pale tint of
his suede gloves matched his grey checked trousers. He was clean
shaven, and his hair was closely cropped. His features were
somewhat effeminate, with his large eyes, set close together, his
small flat nose, full red lips, betokening the amiable
disposition of a well-bred nobleman. He was effusion itself, but
very easily turned spiteful, and even vulgar, when any one dared
to annoy him, or to upset his religious, conservative, or
patriotic principles. Then he became merciless. All his elegance
vanished like smoke, his soft eyes assumed a cruel expression,
ugly words would flow from his beautiful mouth, and he usually
got the best of an argument by appealing to the authorities.
His family had once been simple gardeners. His great-grandfather
was called Kolomientzov after the place in which he was born; his
grandfather used to sign himself Kolomietzev; his father added
another I and wrote himself Kollomietzev, and finally Simion
Petrovitch considered himself to be an aristocrat of the bluest
blood, with pretensions to having descended from the well-known
Barons von Gallenmeier, one of whom had been a field-marshal in
the Thirty Years' War. Simion Petrovitch was a chamberlain, and
served in the ministerial court. His patriotism had prevented him
from entering the diplomatic service, for which he was cut out by
his personal appearance, education, knowledge of the world, and
his success with women. Mais quitter la Russie? Jamais!
Kollomietzev was rich and had a great many influential friends.
He passed for a promising, reliable young man un peu feodal dans
ses opinions, as Prince B. said of him, and Prince B. was one of
the leading lights in St. Petersburg official circles.
Kollomietzev had come away on a two months' leave to look after
his estate, that is, to threaten and oppress his peasants a
little more. "You can't get on without that!" he used to say.
"I thought that your husband would have been here by now," he
began, rocking himself from one leg to the other. He suddenly
drew himself up and looked down sideways--a very dignified pose.
Valentina Mihailovna made a grimace.
"Would you not have come otherwise?"
Kollomietzev drew back a pace, horrified at the imputation.
"Valentina Mihailovna!" he exclaimed. "How can you possibly say
such a thing?"
"Well, never mind. Sit down. My husband will be here soon. I have
sent the carriage to the station to meet him. If you wait a
little, you will be rewarded by seeing him. What time is it?
"Half-past two," Kollomietzev replied, taking a large gold
enamelled watch out of his waistcoat pocket and showing it to
Valentina Mihailovna. "Have you seen this watch? A present from
Michael, the Servian Prince Obrenovitch. Look, here are his
initials. We are great friends-- go out hunting a lot together.
Such a splendid fellow, with an iron hand, just what an
administrator ought to be. He will never allow himself to be made
a fool of. Not he! Oh dear no!"
Kollomietzev dropped into an armchair, crossed his legs, and
began leisurely pulling off his left glove.
"We are badly in need of such a man as Michael in our province
here," he remarked.
"Why? Are you dissatisfied with things here?"
Kollomietzev made a wry face.
"It's this abominable county council! What earthly use is it?
Only weakens the government and sets people thinking the wrong
way." (He gesticulated with his left hand, freed from the
pressure of the glove.) "And arouses false hopes." (Kollomietzev
blew on his hand.) "I have already mentioned this in St.
Petersburg, mais bah! They won't listen to me. Even your husband-
-but then he is known to be a confirmed liberal!"
Valentina Mihailovna sat up straight.
"What do I hear? You opposed to the government, Monsieur
"I-- not in the least! Never! What an idea! Mais j'ai mon franc
parler. I occasionally allow myself to criticise, but am always
"And I, on the contrary, never criticise and am never obedient."
"Ah! Mais c'est un mot! Do let me repeat it to my friend
Ladislas. Vous savez, he is writing a society novel, read me some
of it. Charming! Nous aurons enfin le grand monde russe peint par
"Where is it to be published?
"In the "Russian Messenger", of course. It is our "Revue des Deux
Mondes". I see you take it, by the way."
"Yes, but I think it rather dull of late."
"Perhaps, perhaps it is. "The Russian Messenger", too, has also
gone off a bit, using a colloquial expression.
Kollomietzev laughed. It amused him to have said "gone off a
bit." "Mais c'est un journal qui se respecte," he continued, "and
that is the main thing. I am sorry to say that I interest myself
very little in Russian literature nowadays. It has grown so
horribly vulgar. A cook is now made the heroine of a novel. A
mere cook, parole d'honneur! Of course, I shall read Ladislas'
novel. Il y aura le petit mot pour rire, and he writes with a
purpose! He will completely crush the nihilists, and I quite
agree with him. His ideas sont tres correctes."
"That is more than can be said of his past," Valentina Mihailovna
"Ah! jeton une voile sur les erreurs de sa jeunesse!"
Kollomietzev exclaimed, pulling off his other glove.
Valentina Mihailovna half-closed her exquisite eyes and looked at
"Simion Petrovitch!" she exclaimed, "why do you use so many
French words when speaking Russian? It seems to me rather old-
fashioned, if you will excuse my saying so."
"But, my dear lady, not everyone is such a master of our native
tongue as you are, for instance. I have a very great respect for
the Russian language. There is nothing like it for giving
commands or for governmental purposes. I like to keep it pure and
uncorrupted by other languages and bow before Karamzin; but as
for an everyday language, how can one use Russian? For instance,
how would you say, in Russian, de tout a l'heure, c'est un mot?
You could not possibly say 'this is a word,' could you?"
"You might say 'a happy expression.'"
"A happy expression! My dear Valentina Mihailovna. Don't you feel
that it savours of the schoolroom; that all the salt has gone out
"I am afraid you will not convince me. I wonder where Mariana
is?" She rang the bell and a servant entered.
"I asked to have Mariana Vikentievna sent here. Has she not been
The servant had scarcely time to reply when a young girl appeared
behind him in the doorway. She had on a loose dark blouse, and
her hair was cut short. It was Mariana Vikentievna Sinitska,
Sipiagin's niece on the mother's side.
"I am sorry, Valentina Mihailovna," Mariana said, drawing near to
her, "I was busy and could not get away."
She bowed to Kollomietzev and withdrew into a corner, where she
sat down on a little stool near the parrot, who began flapping
its wings as soon as it caught sight of her.
"Why so far away, Mariana?" Valentina Mihailovna asked, looking
after her. "Do you want to be near your little friend? Just
think, Simion Petrovitch," she said, turning to Kollomietzev,
"our parrot has simply fallen in love with Mariana!"
"I don't wonder at it!"
"But he simply can't bear me!"
"How extraordinary! Perhaps you tease him."
"Oh, no, I never tease him. On the contrary, I feed him with
sugar. But he won't take anything out of my hand. It is a case of
sympathy and antipathy."
Mariana looked sternly at Valentina Mihailovna and Valentina
Mihailovna looked at her. These two women did not love one
Compared to her aunt Mariana seemed plain. She had a round face,
a large aquiline nose, big bright grey eyes, fine eyebrows, and
thin lips. Her thick brown hair was cut short; she seemed
retiring, but there was something strong and daring, impetuous
and passionate, in the whole of her personality. She had tiny
little hands and feet, and her healthy, lithesome little figure
reminded one of a Florentine statuette of the sixteenth century.
Her movements were free and graceful.
Mariana's position in the Sipiagin's house was a very difficult
one. Her father, a brilliant man of Polish extraction, who had
attained the rank of general, was discovered to have embezzled
large state funds. He was tried and convicted, deprived of his
rank, nobility, and exiled to Siberia. After some time he was
pardoned and returned, but was too utterly crushed to begin life
anew, and died in extreme poverty. His wife, Sipiagin's sister,
did not survive the shock of the disgrace and her husband's
death, and died soon after. Uncle Sipiagin gave a home to their
only child, Mariana. She loathed her life of dependence and
longed for freedom with all the force of her upright soul. There
was a constant inner battle between her and her aunt. Valentina
Mihailovna looked upon her as a nihilist and freethinker, and
Mariana detested her aunt as an unconscious tyrant. She held
aloof from her uncle and, indeed, from everyone else in the
house. She held aloof, but was not afraid of them. She was not
timid by nature.
"Antipathy is a strange thing," Kollomietzev repeated. "Everybody
knows that I am a deeply religious man, orthodox in the fullest
sense of the word, but the sight of a priest's flowing locks
drives me nearly mad. It makes me boil over with rage."
"I believe hair in general has an irritating effect upon you,
Simion Petrovitch," Mariana remarked. "I feel sure you can't bear
to see it cut short like mine."
Valentina Mihailovna lifted her eyebrows slowly, then dropped her
head, as if astonished at the freedom with which modern young
girls entered into conversation. Kollomietzev smiled
"Of course," he said, "I can't help feeling sorry for beautiful
curls such as yours, Mariana Vikentievna, falling under the
merciless snip of a pair of scissors, but it doesn't arouse
antipathy in me. In any case, your example might even . . . even
. . . convert me!"
Kollomietzev could not think of a Russian word, and did not like
using a French one, after what his hostess had said.
"Thank heaven," Valentina Mihailovna remarked, "Mariana does not
wear glasses and has not yet discarded collars and cuffs; but,
unfortunately, she studies natural history, and is even
interested in the woman question. Isn't that so, Mariana?
This was evidently said to make Mariana feel uncomfortable, but
Mariana, however, did not feel uncomfortable.
"Yes, auntie," she replied, " I read everything I can get hold of
on the subject. I am trying to understand the woman question."
"There is youth for you!" Valentina Mihailovna exclaimed, turning
to Kollomietzev. "Now you and I are not at all interested in that
sort of thing, are we?
Kollomietzev smiled good-naturedly; he could not help entering
into the playful mood of his amiable hostess.
"Mariana Vikentievna," he began, "is still full of the ideals . .
. the romanticism of youth . . . which . . . in time--"
"Heaven, I was unjust to myself," Valentina Mihailovna
interrupted him; "I am also interested in these questions. I am
not quite an old lady yet."
"Of course. So am I in a way," Kollomietzev put in hastily. "Only
I would forbid such things being talked about!"
"Forbid them being talked about?" Mariana asked in astonishment.
"Yes! I would say to the public, 'Interest yourselves in these
things as much as you like, but talk about them... shhh...'" He layed
his finger on his lips.
"I would, at any rate, forbid speaking through the press under
Valentina Mihailovna laughed.
"What? Would you have a commission appointed by the ministers for
settling these questions?
"Why not? Don't you think we could do it better than these
ignorant, hungry loafers who know nothing and imagine themselves
to be men of genius? We could appoint Boris Andraevitch as
Valentina Mihailovna laughed louder still.
"You had better take care, Boris Andraevitch is sometimes such a
"Jacko, jacko, jacko," the parrot screamed. Valentina Mihailovna
waved her handkerchief at him. "Don't interrupt an intelligent
conversation! Mariana, do teach him manners!"
Mariana turned to the cage and began stroking the parrot's neck
with her finger; the parrot stretched towards her.
"Yes," Valentina Mihailovna continued, "Boris Andraevitch
astonishes me, too, sometimes. There is a certain strain in him .
. . a certain strain . . . of the tribune."
"C'est parce qu'il est orateur!" Kollomietzev exclaimed
enthusiastically in French. "Your husband is a marvellous orator
and is accustomed to success . . . ses propres paroles le grisent
. . . and then his desire for popularity. By the way, he is
rather annoyed just now, is he not? Il boude? Eh?"
Valentina Mihailovna looked at Mariana.
"I haven't noticed it," she said after a pause. "Yes,"
Kollomietzev continued pensively, "he was rather overlooked at
Valentina Mihailovna indicated Mariana with her eyes.
Kollomietzev smiled and screwed up his eyes, conveying to her
that he understood. "Mariana Vikentievna," he exclaimed suddenly,
in an unnecessarily loud tone of voice, "do you intend teaching
at the school again this year?"
Mariana turned round from the cage.
"Are you interested to know, Simion Petrovitch? "
"Certainly. I am very much interested."
"Would you forbid it?"
"I would forbid nihilists even so much as to think of schools. I
would put all schools into the hands of the clergy, and with an
eye on them I wouldn't mind running one myself!"
"Really! I haven't the slightest idea what I shall do this year.
Last year things were not at all successful. Besides, how can you
get a school together in the summer?
Mariana blushed deeply all the time she was speaking, as if it
cost her some effort. She was still very self-conscious.
"Are you not sufficiently prepared?" Valentina Mihailovna asked
"Heavens! " Kollomietzev exclaimed. "What do I hear? 0h ye gods!
Is preparation necessary to teach peasants the alphabet?"
At this moment Kolia ran into the drawing room shouting "Mamma!
mamma! Papa has come!" And after him, waddling on her stout
little legs, appeared an old grey-haired lady in a cap and yellow
shawl, and also announced that Boris had come.
This lady was Sipiagin's aunt, and was called Anna Zaharovna.
Everyone in the drawing room rushed out into the hall, down the
stairs, and on to the steps of the portico. A long avenue of
chipped yews ran straight from these steps to the high road--a
carriage and four was already rolling up the avenue straight
towards them. Valentina Mihailovna, standing in front, waved her
pocket handkerchief, Kolia shrieked with delight, the coachman
adroitly pulled up the steaming horses, a footman came down
headlong from the box and almost pulled the carriage door off its
hinges in his effort to open it--and then, with a condescending
smile on his lips, in his eyes, over the whole of his face, Boris
Andraevitch, with one graceful gesture of the shoulders, dropped
his cloak and sprang to the ground. Valentina Mihailovna
gracefully threw her arms round his neck and they kissed three
times. Kolia stamped his little feet and pulled at his father's
coat from behind, but Boris Andraevitch first kissed Anna
Zaharovna, quickly threw off his uncomfortable, ugly Scotch cap,
greeted Mariana and Kollomietzev, who had also come out (he gave
Kollomietzev a hearty shake of the hand in the English fashion),
and then turned to his little son, lifted him under the arms, and
During this scene Nejdanov half guiltily scrambled out of the
carriage and, without removing his cap, stood quietly near the
front wheel, looking out from under his eyebrows. Valentina
Mihailovna, when embracing her husband, had cast a penetrating
look over his shoulder at this new figure. Sipiagin had informed
her that he was bringing a tutor.
Everyone continued exchanging greetings and shaking hands with
the newly-arrived host as they all moved up the broad stairs,
lined on either side with the principal men and maid servants.
They did not come forward to kiss the master's hand (an Asiatic
custom they had abandoned long ago), but bowed respectfully.
Sipiagin responded to their salutations with a slight movement of
the nose and eyebrows, rather than an inclination of the head.
Nejdanov followed the stream up the wide stairs. As soon as they
reached the hall, Sipiagin, who had been searching for Nejdanov
with his eyes, introduced him to his wife, Anna Zaharovna, and
Mariana, and said to Kolia, "This is your tutor. Mind you do as
he tells you. Give him your hand." Kolia extended his hand
timidly, stared at him fixedly, but finding nothing particularly
interesting about his tutor, turned to his "papa" again. Nejdanov
felt uncomfortable, just as he had done at the theatre. He wore
an old shabby coat, and his face and hands were covered with dust
from the journey. Valentina Mihailovna said something kindly to
him, but he did not quite catch what it was and did not reply. He
noticed that she was very bright, and clung to her husband
affectionately. He did not like Kolia's befrizzled and pomaded
head, and when his eye fell on Kollomietzev, thought" What a
sleek individual." He paid no attention to the others. Sipiagin
turned his head once or twice in a dignified manner, as if
looking round at his worldly belongings, a pose that set off to
perfection his long drooping whiskers and somewhat small round
neck. Then he shouted to one of the servants in a loud resonant
voice, not at all husky from the journey, "Ivan! Take this
gentleman to the green room and see to his luggage afterwards!"
He then told Nejdanov that he could change and rest awhile, and
that dinner would be served at five o'clock. Nejdanov bowed and
followed Ivan to the "green" room, which was situated on the
The whole company went into the drawing room. The host was
welcomed all over again. An old blind nurse appeared and made him
a courtesy. Out of consideration for her years, Sipiagin gave her
his hand to kiss. He then begged Kollomietzev to excuse him, and
retired to his own room accompanied by his wife.
The room into which the servant conducted Nejdanov was
beautifully neat and spacious, with wide-open windows looking on
to the garden. A gentle breeze stirred the white curtains,
blowing them out high like sails and letting them fall again.
Golden reflections glided lightly over the ceiling; the whole
room was filled with the moist freshness of spring. Nejdanov
dismissed the servant, unpacked his trunk, washed, and changed.
The journey had thoroughly exhausted him. The constant presence
of a stranger during the last two days, the many fruitless
discussions, had completely upset his nerves. A certain
bitterness, which was neither boredom nor anger, accumulated
mysteriously in the depths of his being. He was annoyed with
himself for his lack of courage, but his heart ached. He went up
to the window and looked out into the garden. It was an old-
fashioned garden, with rich dark soil, such as one rarely sees
around Moscow, laid out on the slope of a hill into four separate
parts. In front of the house there was a flower garden, with
straight gravel paths, groups of acacias and lilac, and round
flower beds. To the left, past the stable yard, as far down as
the barn, there was an orchard, thickly planted with apples,
pears, plums, currants, and raspberries. Beyond the flower
garden, in front of the house, there was a large square walk,
thickly enterlaced with lime trees. To the right, the view was
shut out by an avenue of silver poplars; a glimpse of an orangery
could be seen through a group of weeping willows. The whole
garden was clothed in its first green leaves; the loud buzz of
summer insects was not yet heard; the leaves rustled gently,
chaffinches twittered everywhere; two doves sat cooing on a tree;
the note of a solitary cuckoo was heard first in one place, then
in another; the friendly cawing of rooks was carried from the
distance beyond the mill pond, sounding like the creaking of
innumerable cart wheels. Light clouds floated dreamily over this
gentle stillness, spreading themselves out like the breasts of
some huge,lazy birds.
Nejdanov gazed and listened, drinking in the cool air through
His depression left him and a wonderful calmness entered his
Meanwhile he was being discussed in the bedroom below. Sipiagin
was telling his wife how he had met him, what Prince G. had said
of him, and the gist of their talks on the journey.
"A clever chap!" he repeated, "and well educated, too. It's true
he's a revolutionist, but what does it matter? These people are
ambitious, at any rate. As for Kolia, he is too young to be
spoiled by any of this nonsense."
Valentina Mihailovna listened to her husband affectionately; an
amused smile played on her lips, as if he were telling her of
some naughty amusing prank. It was pleasant to her to think that
her seigneur a maitre, such a respectable man, of important
position, could be as mischievous as a boy of twenty. Standing
before the looking-glass in a snow-white shirt and blue silk
braces, Sipiagin was brushing his hair in the English fashion
with two brushes, while Valentina Mihailovna, her feet tucked
under her, was sitting on a narrow Turkish couch, telling him
various news about the house, the paper mill, which, alas, was
not going well, as was to be expected; about the possibilities of
changing the cook, about the church, of which the plaster had
come off; about Mariana, Kollomietzev. . .
Between husband and wife there existed the fullest confidence and
good understanding; they certainly lived in "love and harmony,"
as people used to say in olden days. When Sipiagin, after
finishing his toilet, asked chivalrously for his wife's hand and
she gave him both, and watched him with an affectionate pride as
he kissed them in turn, the feeling expressed in their faces was
good and true, although in her it shone out of a pair of eyes
worthy of Raphael, and in him out of the ordinary eyes of a mere
On the stroke of five Nejdanov went down to dinner, which was
announced by a Chinese gong, not by a bell. The whole company was
already assembled in the dining room. Sipiagin welcomed him again
from behind his high cravat, and showed him to a place between
Anna Zaharovna and Kolia. Anna Zaharovna was an old maid, a
sister of Sipiagin's father; she exhaled a smell of camphor, like
a garment that had been put away for a long time, and had a
nervous, dejected look. She had acted as Kolia's nurse or
governess, and her wrinkled face expressed displeasure when
Nejdanov sat down between her and her charge. Kolia looked
sideways at his new neighbour; the intelligent boy soon saw that
his tutor was shy and uncomfortable, that he did not raise his
eyes, and scarcely ate anything. This pleased Kolia, who had been
afraid that his tutor would be cross and severe. Valentina
Mihailovna also watched Nejdanov.
"He looks like a student," she thought to herself. "He's not
accustomed to society, but has a very interesting face, and the
colour of his hair is like that of the apostle whose hair the old
Italian masters always painted red--and his hands are clean!"
Indeed, everybody at the table stared at Nejdanov, but they had
mercy on him, and left him in peace for the time being. He was
conscious of this, and was pleased and angry about it at the same
Sipiagin and Kollomietzev carried on the conversation. They
talked about the county council, the governor, the highway tax,
the peasants buying out the land, about mutual Moscow and St.
Petersburg acquaintances, Katkov's lyceum, which was just coming
into fashion, about the difficulty of getting labour, penalties,
and damage caused by cattle, even of Bismarck, the war of 1866,
and Napoleon III., whom Kollomietzev called a hero. Kollomietzev
gave vent to the most retrograde opinions, going so far as to
propose, in jest it is true, a toast given by a certain friend of
his on a names-day banquet, "I drink to the only principle I
acknowledge, the whip and Roedeger!"
Valentina Mihailovna frowned, and remarked that it was de tres
Sipiagin, on the contrary, expressed the most liberal views,
refuted Kollomietzev's arguments politely, though with a certain
amount of disdain, and even chaffed him a little.
"Your terror of emancipation, my dear Simion Petrovitch," he
said, "puts me in mind of our much respected friend, Alexai
Ivanovitch Tveritinov, and the petition he sent in, in the year
1860. He insisted on reading it in every drawing room in St.
Petersburg. There was one rather good sentence in it about our
liberated serf, who was to march over the face of the fatherland
bearing a torch in his hand. You should have seen our dear Alexai
Ivanovitch, blowing out his cheeks and blinking his little eyes,
pronounce in his babyish voice, 'T-torch! t-torch! Will march
with a t-torch!' Well, the emancipation is now an established
fact, but where is the peasant with the torch?
"Tveritinov was only slightly wrong," Kollomietzev said solemnly.
"Not the peasants will march with the torch, but others."
At the words, Nejdanov, who until then had scarcely noticed
Mariana, who sat a little to one side, exchanged glances with
her, and instantly felt that this solemn girl and he were of the
same convictions, of the same stamp. She had made no impression
on him whatever when Sipiagin had introduced them; then why did
he exchange glances with her in particular? He wondered if it was
not disgraceful to sit and listen to such views without
protesting and by reason of his silence letting others think that
he shared them. Nejdanov looked at Mariana a second time, and her
eyes seemed to say, "Wait a while . . . the time is not ripe. It
isn't worth it . . . later on . . . there is plenty of time in
He was happy to think that she understood him, and began
following the conversation again. Valentina Mihailovna supported
her husband, and was, if anything, even more radical in her
expressions than he. She could not understand, "simply could not
un-der-stand, how an educated young man could hold such
"However," she added, "I am convinced that you only say these
things for the sake of argument. And you, Alexai Dmitritch," she
added to Nejdanov, with a smile (he wondered how she had learned
his Christian name and his father's name), "I know, do not share
Simion Petrovitch's fears; my husband told me about your talks on
Nejdanov blushed, bent over his plate, and mumbled something; he
did not feel shy, but was simply unaccustomed to conversing with
such brilliant personages. Madame Sipiagin continued smiling to
him; her husband nodded his head patronisingly. Kollomietzev
stuck his monocle between his eyebrow and nose and stared at the
student who dared not to share his "fears." But it was difficult
to embarrass Nejdanov in this way; on the contrary, he instantly
sat up straight, and in his turn fixed his gaze on the
fashionable official. Just as instinctively as he had felt
Mariana to be a comrade, so he felt Kollomietzev to be an enemy!
Kollomietzev felt it too; he removed his monocle, turned away,