Produced by David Starner, Josephine Paolucci and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR.
(_Leisure Hour Series_.)
FATHERS AND SONS.
ON THE EVE.
SPRING FLOODS; LEAR.
ANNALS OF A SPORTSMAN.
_LEISURE HOUR SERIES_
“A NEST OF NOBLES”
BY IVAN S. TURGENIEFF
_TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN_
BY W.R.S. RALSTON
DEDICATED TO THE AUTHOR BY HIS FRIEND THE TRANSLATOR.
The author of the _Dvoryanskoe Gnyezdo_, or “Nest of Nobles,” of which a translation is now offered to the English reader under the title of “Liza,” is a writer of whom Russia may well be proud.[A] And that, not only because he is a consummate artist,–entitled as he is to take high rank among those of European fame, so accurate is he in his portrayal of character, and so quick to seize and to fix even its most fleeting expression; so vividly does he depict by a few rapid touches the appearance of the figures whom he introduces upon his canvas, the nature of the scenes among which they move,–he has other and even higher claims than these to the respect and admiration of Russian readers. For he is a thoroughly conscientious worker; one who, amid all his dealings with fiction, has never swerved from his regard for what is real and true; one to whom his own country and his own people are very dear, but who has neither timidly bowed to the prejudices of his countrymen, nor obstinately shut his eyes to their faults.
[Footnote A: Notwithstanding the unencouraging opinion expressed by Mr. Ralston in this preface, of the probable fate of “Fathers and Children,” and “Smoke,” with the English public, both have been translated in America and have met with very fair success. Of course, even more may be hoped for the author’s other works.]
His first prose work, the “Notes of a Sportsman” (_Zapiski Okhotnika_), a collection of sketches of country life, made a deep and lasting impression upon the minds of the educated classes in Russia, so vigorous were its attacks upon the vices of that system of slavery which was then prevalent. Those attacks had all the more weight, inasmuch as the book was by no means exclusively devoted to them. It dealt with many other subjects connected with provincial life; and the humor and the pathos and the picturesqueness with which they were treated would of themselves have been sufficient to commend it to the very favorable attention of his countrymen. But the sad pictures he drew in it, occasionally and almost as it were accidentally, of the wretched position occupied by the great masses of the people, then groaning under the weight of that yoke which has since been removed, stirred the heart of Russian society with a thrill of generous horror and sympathy; and the effect thus produced was all the more permanent inasmuch as it was attained by thoroughly legitimate means. Far from exaggerating the ills of which he wrote, or describing them in sensational and declamatory language, he treated them in a style that sometimes seemed almost cold in its reticence and freedom from passion. The various sketches of which the volume was composed appeared at intervals in a Russian magazine, called the _Contemporary (Sovremennik)_, about three-and-twenty years ago, and were read in it with avidity; but when the first edition of the collected work was exhausted, the censors refused to grant permission to the author to print a second, and so for many years the complete book was not to be obtained in Russia without great difficulty. Now that the good fight of emancipation has been fought, and the victory–thanks to the present Emperor–has been won, M. Turgenieff has every reason for looking back with pride upon that phase of the struggle; and his countrymen may well have a feeling of regard, as well as of respect, for him–the upper-classes as for one who has helped them to recognize their duty; the lower, as for a very generous supporter in their time of trouble.
M. Turgenieff has written a great number of very charming short stories, most of them having reference to Russia and Russian life; for though he has lived in Germany for many years, his thoughts, whenever he takes up his pen, almost always seem to go back to his native land. Besides these, as well as a number of critical essays, plays, and poems, he has brought out several novels, or rather novelettes, for none of them have attained to three-volume dimensions. Of these, the most remarkable are the one I have now translated, which appeared about eleven years ago, and the two somewhat polemical stories, called “Fathers and Children” (_Otsui i Dyeti_) and “Smoke” (_Duim_). The first of the three I may leave to speak for itself, merely adding that I trust that–although it appears under all the disadvantages by which even the most conscientious of translations must always be attended–it may be looked upon by English readers with somewhat of the admiration which I have long felt for the original, on account of the artistic finish of its execution, the purity of its tone, and the delicacy and the nobleness of the sentiment by which it is pervaded.
The story of “Fathers and Children” conveys a vigorous and excessively clever description of the change that has taken place of late years in the thoughts and feelings of the educated classes of Russian society One of the most interesting chapters in “Liza”–one which may be skipped by readers who care for nothing but incident in a story–describes a conversation which takes place between the hero and one of his old college friends. The sketch of the disinterested student, who has retained in mature life all the enthusiasm of his college days, is excellent, and is drawn in a very kindly spirit. But in “Fathers and Children” an exaggeration of this character is introduced, serving as a somewhat scare-crow-like embodiment of the excessively hard thoughts and very irreverent speculations in which the younger thinkers of the new school indulge. This character is developed in the story into dimensions which must be styled inordinate if considered from a purely artistic point of view; but the story ought not to be so regarded. Unfortunately for its proper appreciation among us, it cannot be judged aright, except by readers who possess a thorough knowledge of what was going on in Russia a few years ago, and who take a keen and lively interest in the subjects which were then being discussed there. To all others, many of its chapters will seem too unintelligible and wearisome, both linked together into interesting unity by the slender thread of its story, beautiful as many of its isolated passages are. The same objection may be made to “Smoke.” Great spaces in that work are devoted to caricatures of certain persons and opinions of note in Russia, but utterly unknown in England–pictures which either delight or irritate the author’s countrymen, according to the tendency of their social and political speculations, but which are as meaningless to the untutored English eye as a collection of “H.B.”‘s drawings would be to a Russian who had never studied English politics. Consequently neither of these stories is likely ever to be fully appreciated among us[A].
[Footnote A: A detailed account of both of these stories, as well as of several other works by M. Turgenieff, will be found in the number of the _North British Review_ for March, 1869.]
The last novelette which M. Turgenieff has published, “The Unfortunate One” (_Neschastnaya_) is free from the drawbacks by which, as far as English readers are concerned, “Fathers and Children” and “Smoke,” are attended; but it is exceedingly sad and painful. It is said to be founded on a true story, a fact which may account for an intensity of gloom in its coloring, the darkness of which would otherwise seem almost unartistically overcharged.
Several of M. Turgenieff’s works have already been translated into English. The “Notes of a Sportsman” appeared about fourteen years ago, under the title of “Russian Life in the Interior[A];” but, unfortunately, the French translation from which they were (with all due acknowledgment) rendered, was one which had been so “cooked” for the Parisian market, that M. Turgenieff himself felt bound to protest against it vigorously. It is the more unfortunate inasmuch as an admirable French translation of the work was afterwards made by M. Delaveau[B].
[Footnote A: “Russian Life in the Interior.” Edited by J.D. Meiklejohn. Black, Edinburg, 1855.]
[Footnote B: “Recits d’un Chasseur.” Traduits par H. Delavea, Paris, 1858.]
Still more vigorously had M. Turgenieff to protest against an English translation of “Smoke,” which appeared a few months ago.
The story of “Fathers and Children” has also appeared in English[A]; but as the translation was published on the other side of the Atlantic, it has as yet served but little to make M. Turgenieff’s name known among us.
[Footnote A: “Fathers and Sons.” Translated from the Russian by Eugene Schuyler. New York 1867.]
The French and German translations of M. Turgenieff’s works are excellent. From the French versions of M. Delaveau, M. Xavier Marmier, M. Prosper Merimee, M. Viardot, and several others, a very good idea may be formed by the general reader of M. Turgenieffs merits. For my own part, I wish cordially to thank the French and the German translators of the _Dvoryanskoe Gnyezdo_ for the assistance their versions rendered me while I was preparing the present translation of that story. The German version, by M. Paul Fuchs,[A] is wonderfully literal. The French version, by Count Sollogub and M.A. de Calonne, which originally appeared in the _Revue Contemporaine_, without being quite so close, is also very good indeed.[B]
[Footnote A: Das adelige Nest. Von I.S. Turgenieff. Aus dem Russicher ubersetzt von Paul Fuchs. Leipzig, 1862.]
[Footnote B: Une Nichee de Gentilshommes. Paris, 1862]
I, too, have kept as closely as I possibly could to the original. Indeed, the first draft of the translation was absolutely literal, regardless of style or even idiom. While in that state, it was revised by the Russian friend who assisted me in my translation of Krilofs Fables–M. Alexander Onegine–and to his painstaking kindness I am greatly indebted for the hope I venture to entertain that I have not “traduced” the author I have undertaken to translate. It may be as well to state that in the few passages in which my version differs designedly from the ordinary text of the original, I have followed the alterations which M. Turgenieff made with his own hand in the copy of the story on which I worked, and the title of the story has been altered to its present form with his consent.
I may as well observe also, that while I have inserted notes where I thought their presence unavoidable, I have abstained as much as possible from diverting the reader’s attention from the story by obtrusive asterisks, referring to what might seem impertinent observations at the bottom of the page. The Russian forms of name I have religiously preserved, even to the extent of using such a form as Ivanich, as well as Ivanovich, when it is employed by the author.
INNER TEMPLE, June 1, 1869.
A beautiful spring day was drawing to a close. High aloft in the clear sky floated small rosy clouds, which seemed never to drift past, but to be slowly absorbed into the blue depths beyond.
At an open window, in a handsome mansion situated in one of the outlying streets of O., the chief town of the government of that name–it was in the year 1842–there were sitting two ladies, the one about fifty years old, the other an old woman of seventy.
The name of the first was Maria Dmitrievna Kalitine. Her husband, who had formerly occupied the post of Provincial Procurator, and who was well known in his day as a good man of business–a man of bilious temperament, confident, resolute, and enterprising–had been dead ten years. He had received a good education, and had studied at the university, but as the family from which he sprang was a poor one, he had early recognized the necessity of making a career for himself and of gaining money.
Maria Dmitrievna married him for love. He was good-looking, he had plenty of sense, and, when he liked, he could be very agreeable. Maria Dmitrievna, whose maiden name was Pestof, lost her parents while she was still a child. She spent several years in an Institute at Moscow, and then went to live with her brother and one of her aunts at Pokrovskoe, a family estate situated fifteen versts from O. Soon afterwards her brother was called away on duty to St. Petersburgh, and, until a sudden death put an end to his career, he kept his aunt and sister with only just enough for them to live upon. Maria Dmitrievna inherited Pokrovskoe, but she did not long reside there. In the second year of her marriage with Kalitine, who had succeeded at the end of a few days in gaining her affections, Pokrovskoe was exchanged for another estate–one of much greater intrinsic value, but unattractive in appearance, and not provided with a mansion. At the same time Kalitine purchased a house in the town of O., and there he and his wife permanently established themselves. A large garden was attached to it, extending in one direction to the fields outside the town, “so that,” Kalitine, who was by no means an admirer of rural tranquillity, used to say, “there is no reason why we should go dragging ourselves off into the country.” Maria Dmitrievna often secretly regretted her beautiful Pokrovskoe, with its joyous brook, its sweeping meadows, and its verdant woods, but she never opposed her husband in any thing, having the highest respect for his judgment and his knowledge of the world. And when he died, after fifteen years of married life, leaving behind him a son and two daughters, Maria Dmitrievna had grown so accustomed to her house and to a town life, that she had no inclination to change her residence.
In her youth Maria Dmitrievna had enjoyed the reputation of being a pretty blonde, and even in her fiftieth year her features were not unattractive, though they had lost somewhat of their fineness and delicacy. She was naturally sensitive and impressionable, rather than actually good-hearted, and even in her years of maturity she continued to behave in the manner peculiar to “Institute girls;” she denied herself no indulgence, she was easily put out of temper, and she would even burst into tears if her habits were interfered with. On the other hand, she was gracious and affable when all her wishes were fulfilled, and when nobody opposed her in any thing. Her house was the pleasantest in the town; and she had a handsome income, the greater part of which was derived from her late husband’s earnings, and the rest from her own property. Her two daughters lived with her; her son was being educated in one of the best of the crown establishments at St. Petersburgh.
The old lady who was sitting at the window with Maria Dmitrievna was her father’s sister, the aunt with whom she had formerly spent so many lonely years at Pokrovskoe. Her name was Marfa Timofeevna Pestof. She was looked upon as an original, being a woman of an independent character, who bluntly told the truth to every one, and who, although her means were very small, behaved in society just as she would have done had she been rolling in wealth. She never could abide the late Kalitine, and as soon as her niece married him she retired to her own modest little property, where she spent ten whole years in a peasant’s smoky hut. Maria Dmitrievna was rather afraid of her. Small in stature, with black hair, a sharp nose, and eyes which even in old age were still keen, Marfa Timofeevna walked briskly, held herself bolt upright, and spoke quickly but distinctly, and with a loud, high-pitched voice. She always wore a white cap, and a white _kofta_[A] always formed part of her dress.
[Footnote A: A sort of jacket.]
“What is the matter?” she suddenly asked. “What are you sighing about?”
“Nothing,” replied Maria Dmitrievna. “What lovely clouds!”
“You are sorry for them, I suppose?”
Maria Dmitrievna made no reply.
“Why doesn’t Gedeonovsky come?” continued Marfa Timofeevna, rapidly plying her knitting needles. (She was making a long worsted scarf.) “He would have sighed with you. Perhaps he would have uttered some platitude or other.”
“How unkindly you always speak of him! Sergius Petrovich is–a most respectable man.”
“Respectable!” echoed the old lady reproachfully.
“And then,” continued Maria Dmitrievna, “how devoted he was to my dear husband! Why, he can never think of him without emotion.”
“He might well be that, considering that your husband pulled him out of the mud by the ears,” growled Marfa Timofeevna, the needles moving quicker than ever under her fingers. “He looks so humble,” she began anew after a time. “His head is quite grey, and yet he never opens his mouth but to lie or to slander. And, forsooth, he is a councillor of state! Ah, well, to be sure, he is a priest’s son.”[A]
[Footnote A: _Popovich_, or son of a pope; a not over respectful designation in Russia.]
“Who is there who is faultless, aunt? It is true that he has this weakness. Sergius Petrovich has not had a good education, I admit–he cannot speak French–but I beg leave to say that I think him exceedingly agreeable.”
“Oh, yes, he fawns on you like a dog. As to his not speaking French, that’s no great fault. I am not very strong in the French ‘dialect’ myself. It would be better if he spoke no language at all; he wouldn’t tell lies then. But of course, here he is, in the very nick of time,” continued Marfa Timofeevna, looking down the street. “Here comes your agreeable man, striding along. How spindle-shanked he is, to be sure–just like a stork!”
Maria Dmitrievna arranged her curls. Marfa Timofeevna looked at her with a quiet smile.
“Isn’t that a grey hair I see, my dear? You should scold Pelagia. Where can her eyes be?”
“That’s just like you, aunt,” muttered Maria Dmitrievna, in a tone of vexation, and thrumming with her fingers on the arm of her chair.
“Sergius Petrovich Gedeonovsky!” shrilly announced a rosy-cheeked little Cossack,[A] who suddenly appeared at the door.
[Footnote A: A page attired in a sort of Cossack dress.]
A tall man came into the room, wearing a good enough coat, rather short trousers, thick grey gloves, and two cravats–a black one outside, a white one underneath. Every thing belonging to him was suggestive of propriety and decorum, from his well-proportioned face, with locks carefully smoothed down over the temples, to his heelless and never-creaking boots. He bowed first to the mistress of the house, then to Marfa Timofeevna, and afterwards, having slowly taken off his gloves, he approached Maria Dmitrievna and respectfully kissed her hand twice. After that he leisurely subsided into an easy-chair, and asked, as he smilingly rubbed together the tips of his fingers–
“Is Elizaveta quite well?”
“Yes,” replied Maria Dmitrievna, “she is in the garden.”
“And Elena Mikhailovna?”
“Lenochka is in the garden also. Have you any news?”
“Rather!” replied the visitor, slowly screwing up his eyes, and protruding his lips. “Hm! here is a piece of news, if you please, and a very startling one, too. Fedor Ivanovich Lavretsky has arrived.”
“Fedia!” exclaimed Marfa Timofeevna. “You’re inventing, are you not?”
“Not at all. I have seen him with my own eyes.”
“That doesn’t prove any thing.”
“He’s grown much more robust,” continued Gedeonovsky, looking as if he had not heard Marfa Timofeevna’s remark; “his shoulders have broadened, and his cheeks are quite rosy.”
“Grown more robust,” slowly repeated Maria Dmitrievna. “One would think he hadn’t met with much to make him robust.”
“That is true indeed,” said Gedeonovsky. “Any one else, in his place, would have scrupled to show himself in the world.”
“And why, I should like to know?” broke in Marfa Timofeevna. “What nonsense you are talking! A man comes back to his home. Where else would you have him betake himself? And, pray, in what has he been to blame?”
“A husband is always to blame, madam, if you will allow me to say so, when his wife behaves ill.”
“You only say that, _batyushka_,[A] because you have never been married.”
[Footnote A: Father.]
Gedeonovsky’s only reply was a forced smile. For a short time he remained silent, but presently he said, “May I be allowed to be so inquisitive as to ask for whom this pretty scarf is intended?”
Marfa Timofeevna looked up at him quickly.
“For whom is it intended?” she said. “For a man who never slanders, who does not intrigue, and who makes up no falsehoods–if, indeed, such a man is to be found in the world. I know Fedia thoroughly well; the only thing for which he is to blame is that he spoilt his wife. To be sure he married for love; and from such love-matches no good ever comes,” added the old lady, casting a side glance at Maria Dmitrievna. Then, standing up, she added: “But now you can whet your teeth on whom you will; on me, if you like. I’m off. I won’t hinder you any longer.” And with these words she disappeared.
“She is always like that,” said Maria Dmitrievna following her aunt with her eyes–“always.”
“What else can be expected of her at her time of life?” replied Gedeonovsky. “Just see now! ‘Who does not intrigue?’ she was pleased to say. But who is there nowadays who doesn’t intrigue? It is the custom of the present age. A friend of mine–a most respectable man, and one, I may as well observe, of no slight rank–used to say, ‘Nowadays, it seems, if a hen wants a grain of corn she approaches it cunningly, watches anxiously for an opportunity of sidling up to it.’ But when I look at you, dear lady, I recognize in you a truly angelic nature. May I be allowed to kiss your snow-white hand?”
Maria Dmitrievna slightly smiled, and held out her plump hand to Gedeonovsky, keeping the little finger gracefully separated from the rest; and then, after he had raised her hand to his lips, she drew her chair closer to his, bent a little towards him, and asked, in a low voice–
“So you have seen him? And is he really well and in good spirits?”
“In excellent spirits,” replied Gedeonovsky in a whisper.
“You haven’t heard where his wife is now?”
“A short time ago she was in Paris; but she is gone away, they say, and is now in Italy.”
“Really it is shocking–Fedia’s position. I can’t think how he manages to bear it. Every one, of course, has his misfortunes; but his affairs, one may say, have become known all over Europe.”
“Quite so, quite so! They say she has made friends with artists and pianists; or, as they call them there, with lions and other wild beasts. She has completely lost all sense of shame–“
“It’s very, very sad,” said Maria Dmitrievna; “especially for a relation. You know, don’t you, Sergius Petrovich, that he is a far-away cousin of mine?”
“To be sure, to be sure! You surely don’t suppose I could be ignorant of any thing that concerns your family.”
“Will he come to see us? What do you think?”
“One would suppose so; but afterwards, I am told, he will go and live on his estate in the country.”
Maria Dmitrievna lifted her eyes towards heaven.
“Oh, Sergius Petrovich, Sergius Petrovich! how often I think how necessary it is for us women to behave circumspectly!”
“There are women and women, Maria Dmitrievna. There are, unfortunately, some who are–of an unstable character; and then there is a certain time of life–and, besides, good principles have not been instilled into them when they were young.”
Here Sergius Petrovich drew from his pocket a blue handkerchief, of a check pattern, and began to unfold it.
“Such women, in fact, do exist.”
Here Sergius Petrovich applied a corner of the handkerchief to each of his eyes in turn.
“But, generally speaking, if one reflects–that is to say–The dust in the streets is something extraordinary,” he ended by saying.
“_Maman, maman_,” exclaimed a pretty little girl of eleven, who came running into the room, “Vladimir Nikolaevich is coming here on horseback.”
Maria Dmitrievna rose from her chair. Sergius Petrovich also got up and bowed.
“My respects to Elena Mikhailovna,” he said; and, discreetly retiring to a corner, he betook himself to blowing his long straight nose.
“What a lovely horse he has!” continued the little girl. “He was at the garden gate just now, and he told me and Liza that he would come up to the front door.”
The sound of hoofs was heard, and a well appointed cavalier, mounted on a handsome bay horse, rode up to the house, and stopped in front of the open window.
“Good-evening, Maria Dmitrievna!” exclaimed the rider’s clear and pleasant voice. “How do you like my new purchase?”
Maria Dmitrievna went to the window.
“Good-evening, Woldemar! Ah, what a splendid horse! From whom did you buy it?”
“From our remount-officer. He made me pay dear for it, the rascal.”
“What is it’s name?”
“Orlando. But that’s a stupid name. I want to change it. _Eh bien, eh bien, mon garcon_. What a restless creature it is!”
The horse neighed, pawed the air, and tossed the foam from its nostrils.
“Come and stroke it, Lenochka; don’t be afraid.”
Lenochka stretched out her hand from the window, but Orlando suddenly reared and shied. But its rider, who took its proceedings very quietly, gripped the saddle firmly with his knees, laid his whip across the horse’s neck, and forced it, in spite of its resistance, to return to the window, “_Prenez garde, prenez garde_,” Maria Dmitrievna kept calling out.
“Now then, stroke him, Lenochka,” repeated the horseman; “I don’t mean to let him have his own way.”
Lenochka stretched out her hand a second time, and timidly touched the quivering nostrils of Orlando, who champed his bit, and kept incessantly fidgeting.
“Bravo!” exclaimed Maria Dmitrievna; “but now get off, and come in.”
The rider wheeled his horse sharply round, drove the spurs into its sides, rode down the street at a hand gallop, and turned into the court-yard. In another minute he had crossed the hall and entered the drawing-room, flourishing his whip in the air.
At the same moment there appeared on the threshold of another doorway a tall, well-made, dark-haired girl of nineteen–Maria Dmitrievna’s elder daughter, Liza.
The young man whom we have just introduced to our readers was called Vladimir Nikolaevich Panshine. He occupied a post at St. Petersburg–one devoted to business of a special character–in the Ministry of the Interior. He had come to O. about certain affairs of a temporary nature, and was placed there at the disposal of the governor, General Zonnenberg, to whom he was distantly related.
Panshine’s father, a retired cavalry officer,[A] who used to be well known among card-players, was a man of a worn face, with weak eyes, and a nervous contraction about the lips. Throughout his life he always revolved in a distinguished circle, frequenting the English Clubs[B] of both capitals, and being generally considered a man of ability and a pleasant companion, though not a person to be confidently depended upon. In spite of all his ability, he was almost always just on the verge of ruin, and he ultimately left but a small and embarrassed property to his only son. About that son’s education, however, he had, after his own fashion, taken great pains.
[Footnote A: A _Shtabs-Rotmistr_, the second captain in a cavalry regiment.]
[Footnote B: Fashionable clubs having nothing English about them but their name.]
The young Vladimir Nikolaevich spoke excellent French, good English, and bad German. That is just as it should be. Properly brought-up people should of course be ashamed to speak German really well; but to throw out a German word now and then, and generally on facetious topics–that is allowable; “_c’est meme tres chic_,” as the Petersburg Parisians say. Moreover, by the time Vladimir Nikolaevich was fifteen, he already knew how to enter any drawing-room whatsoever without becoming nervous, how to move about it in an agreeable manner, and how to take his leave exactly at the right moment.
The elder Panshine made a number of useful connections for his son; while shuffling the cards between two rubbers, or after a lucky “Great Schlemm,”[A] he never lost the opportunity of saying a word about his young “Volodka” to some important personage, a lover of games of skill. On his part, Vladimir Nikolaevich, during the period of his stay at the university, which he left with the rank of “effective student,”[B] made acquaintance with several young people of distinction, and gained access into the best houses. He was cordially received everywhere, for he was very good looking, easy in manner, amusing, always in good health, and ready for every thing. Where he was obliged, he was respectful; where he could, he was overbearing. Altogether, an excellent companion, _un charmant garcon_. The Promised Land lay before him. Panshine soon fathomed the secret of worldly wisdom, and succeeded in inspiring himself with a genuine respect for its laws. He knew how to invest trifles with a half-ironical importance, and to behave with the air of one who treats all serious matters as trifles. He danced admirably; he dressed like an Englishman. In a short time he had gained the reputation of being one of the pleasantest and most adroit young men in St. Petersburg.
[Footnote A: “A bumper.”]
[Footnote B: A degree a little inferior to that of Bachelor of Arts.]
Panshine really was very adroit–not less so than his father had been. And besides this, he was endowed with no small talent; nothing was too difficult for him. He sang pleasantly, drew confidently, could write poetry, and acted remarkably well.
He was now only in his twenty eighth year, but he was already a Chamberlain, and he had arrived at a highly respectable rank in the service. He had thorough confidence in himself, in his intellect, and in his sagacity. He went onwards under full sail, boldly and cheerfully; the stream of his life flowed smoothly along. He was accustomed to please every one, old and young alike; and he imagined that he thoroughly understood his fellow-creatures, especially women–that he was intimately acquainted with all their ordinary weaknesses.
As one who was no stranger to Art, he felt within him a certain enthusiasm, a glow, a rapture, in consequence of which he claimed for himself various exemptions from ordinary rules. He led a somewhat irregular life, he made acquaintance with people who were not received into society, and in general he behaved in an unconventional and unceremonious manner. But in his heart of hearts he was cold and astute; and even in the midst of his most extravagant rioting, his keen hazel eye watched and took note of every thing. It was impossible for this daring and unconventional youth ever quite to forget himself, or to be thoroughly carried away. It should be mentioned to his credit, by the way, that he never boasted of his victories. To Maria Dmitrievna’s house he had obtained access as soon as he arrived in O., and he soon made himself thoroughly at home in it. As to Maria Dmitrievna herself, she thought there was nobody in the world to be compared with him.
Panshine bowed in an engaging manner to all the occupants of the room; shook hands with Maria Dmitrievna and Elizaveta Mikhailovna, lightly tapped Gedeonovsky on the shoulder, and, turning on his heels, took Lenochka’s head between his hands and kissed her on the forehead.
“Are not you afraid to ride such a vicious horse?” asked Maria Dmitrievna.
“I beg your pardon, it is perfectly quiet. No, but I will tell you what I really am afraid of. I am afraid of playing at preference with Sergius Petrovich. Yesterday, at the Bielenitsines’, he won all the money I had with me.”
Gedeonovsky laughed a thin and cringing laugh; he wanted to gain the good graces of the brilliant young official from St. Petersburg, the governor’s favorite. In his conversations with Maria Dmitrievna, he frequently spoke of Panshine’s remarkable faculties. “Why, really now, how can one help praising him?” he used to reason. “The young man is a success in the highest circles of society, and at the same time he does his work in the most perfect manner, and he isn’t the least bit proud.” And indeed, even at St. Petersburg, Panshine was looked upon as an efficient public servant; the work “burnt under his hands;” he spoke of it jestingly, as a man of the world should, who does not attach any special importance to his employment; but he was a “doer.” Heads of departments like such subordinates; he himself never doubted that in time, supposing he really wished it, he would be a Minister.
“You are so good as to say that I won your money,” said Gedeonovsky; “but who won fifteen roubles from me last week? And besides–“
“Ah, rogue, rogue!” interrupted Panshine, in a pleasant tone, but with an air of indifference bordering on contempt, and then, without paying him any further attention, he accosted Liza.
“I cannot get the overture to Oberon here,” he began. “Madame Bielenitsine boasted that she had a complete collection of classical music; but in reality she has nothing but polkas and waltzes. However, I have already written to Moscow, and you shall have the overture in a week.”
“By the way,” he continued, “I wrote a new romance yesterday; the words are mine as well as the music. Would you like me to sing it to you? Madame Bielenitsine thought it very pretty, but her judgment is not worth much. I want to know your opinion of it. But, after all, I think I had better sing it by-and-by.”
“Why by-and-by?” exclaimed Maria Dmitrievna, “why not now?”
“To hear is to obey,” answered Panshine, with a sweet and serene smile, which came and went quickly; and then, having pushed a chair up to the piano, he sat down, struck a few chords, and began to sing the following romance, pronouncing the words very distinctly
Amid pale clouds, above the earth,
The moon rides high,
And o’er the sea a magic light
Pours from the sky.
My Spirit’s waves, as towards the moon, Towards thee, love, flow:
Its waters stirred by thee alone
In weal or woe.
My heart replete with love that grieves But yields no cry,
I suffer–cold as yonder moon
Thou passest by.
Panshine sang the second stanza with more than usual expression and feeling; in the stormy accompaniment might be heard the rolling of the waves. After the words, “I suffer!” he breathed a light sigh, and with downcast eyes let his voice die gradually away. When he had finished; Liza praised the air, Maria Dmitrievna said, “Charming!” and Gedeonovsky exclaimed, “Enchanting!–the words and the music are equally enchanting!” Lenochka kept her eyes fixed on the singer with childish reverence. In a word, the composition of the young _dilettante_ delighted all who were in the room. But outside the drawing-room door, in the vestibule, there stood, looking on the floor, an old man who had just come into the house, to whom, judging from the expression of his face and the movements of his shoulders, Panshine’s romance, though really pretty, did not afford much pleasure. After waiting a little, and having dusted his boots with a coarse handkerchief, he suddenly squeezed up his eyes, morosely compressed his lips, gave his already curved back an extra bend, and slowly entered the drawing-room.
“Ah! Christophor Fedorovich, how do you do?” Panshine was the first to exclaim, as he jumped up quickly from his chair. “I didn’t suspect you were there. I wouldn’t for any thing have ventured to sing my romance before you. I know you are no admirer of the light style in music.”
“I didn’t hear it,” said the new-comer, in imperfect Russian. Then, having bowed to all the party, he stood still in an awkward attitude in the middle of the room.
“I suppose, Monsieur Lemm,” said Maria Dmitrievna, “you have come to give Liza a music lesson.”
“No; not Lizaveta Mikhailovna, but Elena Miknailovna.”
“Oh, indeed! very good. Lenochka, go up-stairs with Monsieur Lemm.”
The old man was about to follow the little girl, when Panshine stopped him.
“Don’t go away when the lesson is over, Christopher Fedorovich,” he said. “Lizaveta Mikhailovna and I are going to play a duet–one of Beethoven’s sonatas.”
The old man muttered something to himself, but Panshine continued in German, pronouncing the words very badly–
“Lizaveta Mikhailovna has shown me the sacred cantata which you have dedicated to her–a very beautiful piece! I beg you will not suppose I am unable to appreciate serious music. Quite the reverse. It is sometimes tedious; but, on the other hand, it is extremely edifying.”
The old man blushed to the ears, cast a side glance at Liza, and went hastily out of the room.
Maria Dmitrievna asked Panshine to repeat his romance; but he declared that he did not like to offend the ears of the scientific German, and proposed to Liza to begin Beethoven’s sonata. On this, Maria Dmitrievna sighed, and, on her part, proposed a stroll in the garden to Gedeonovsky.
“I want to have a little more chat with you,” she said, “about our poor Fedia, and to ask for your advice.”
Gedeonovsky smiled and bowed, took up with two fingers his hat, on the brim of which his gloves were neatly laid out, and retired with Maria Dmitrievna.
Panshine and Eliza remained in the room. She fetched the sonata, and spread it out. Both sat down to the piano in silence. From up-stairs there came the feeble sound of scales, played by Lenochka’s uncertain fingers.
* * * * *
_Note to p_. 36.
It is possible that M. Panshine may have been inspired by Heine’s verses:–
Wie des Mondes Abbild zittert
In den wilden Meereswogen,
Und er selber still und sicher
Wandelt an dem Himmelshogen.
Also wandelst du, Geliebte,
Still und sicher, und es zittert
Nur dein Abbild mir im Herzen,
Weil mein eignes Herz erschuettert.
Christoph Theodor Gottlieb Lemm was born in 1786, in the kingdom of Saxony, in the town of Chemnitz. His parents, who were very poor, were both of them musicians, his father playing the hautboy, his mother the harp. He himself, by the time he was five years old, was already practicing on three different instruments. At the age of eight, he was left an orphan, and at ten, he began to earn a living by his art. For a long time he led a wandering life, playing in all sorts of places–in taverns, at fairs, at peasants’ marriages, and at balls. At last he gained access to an orchestra, and there, steadily rising higher and higher, he attained to the position of conductor. As a performer he had no great merit, but he understood music thoroughly. In his twenty-eighth year, he migrated to Russia. He was invited there by a great seigneur, who, although he could not abide music himself, maintained an orchestra from a love of display. In his house Lemm spent seven years as a musical director, and then left him with empty hands. The seigneur, who had squandered all his means, first offered Lemm a bill of exchange for the amount due to him; then refused to give him even that; and ultimately never paid him a single farthing. Lemm was advised to leave the country, but he did not like to go home penniless from Russia–from the great Russia, that golden land of artists. So be determined to remain and seek his fortune there.
During the course of ten years, the poor German continued to seek his fortune. He found various employers, he lived in Moscow, and in several county towns, he patiently suffered much, he made acquaintance with poverty, he struggled hard.[A] All this time, amidst all the troubles to which he was exposed, the idea of ultimately returning home never quitted him. It was the only thing that supported him. But fate did not choose to bless him with this supreme and final piece of good fortune.
[Footnote A: Literally, “like a fish out of ice:” as a fish, taken out of a river which has been frozen over, struggles on the ice.]
At fifty years of age, in bad health and prematurely decrepid, he happened to come to the town of O., and there he took up his permanent abode, managing somehow to obtain a poor livelihood by giving lessons. He had by this time entirely lost all hope of quilting the hated soil of Russia.
Lemm’s outward appearance was not in his favor. He was short and high-shouldered, his shoulder-blades stuck out awry, his feet were large and flat, and his red hands, marked by swollen veins, had hard, stiff fingers, tipped with nails of a pale blue color. His face was covered with wrinkles, his cheeks were hollow, and he had pursed-up lips which he was always moving with a kind of chewing action–one which, joined with his habitual silence, gave him an almost malignant expression. His grey hair hung in tufts over a low forehead. His very small and immobile eyes glowed dully, like coals in which the flame has just been extinguished by water. He walked heavily, jerking his clumsy frame at every step. Some of his movements called to mind the awkward shuffling of an owl in a cage, when it feels that it is being stared at, but can scarcely see anything itself out of its large yellow eyes, blinking between sleep and fear. An ancient and inexorable misery had fixed its ineffaceable stamp on the poor musician, and had wrenched and distorted his figure–one which, even without that, would have had but little to recommend it; but in spite of all that, something good and honest, something out of the common run, revealed itself in that half-ruined being, to any one who was able to get over his first impressions.
A devoted admirer of Bach and Handel, thoroughly well up to his work, gifted with a lively imagination, and that audacity of idea which belongs only to the Teutonic race, Lemm might in time–who can tell?–have been reckoned among the great composers of his country, if only his life had been of a different nature. But he was not born under a lucky star. He had written much in his time, and yet he had never been fortunate enough to see any of his compositions published. He did not know how to set to work, how to cringe at the right moment, how to proffer a request at the fitting time. Once, it is true, a very long time ago, one of his friends and admirers, also a German, and also poor, published at his own expense two of Lemm’s sonatas. But they remained untouched on the shelves of the music shops; silently they disappeared and left no trace behind, just as if they had been dropped into a river by night.
At last Lemm bade farewell to every thing Old age gained upon him, and he hardened, he grew stiff in mind, just as his fingers had stiffened. He had never married, and now he lived alone in O., in a little house not far from that of the Kalitines, looked after by an old woman-servant whom he had taken out of an alms-house. He walked a great deal, and he read the Bible, also a collection of Protestant hymns, and Shakspeare in Schlegel’s translation. For a long time he had composed nothing; but apparently Liza, his best pupil, had been able to arouse him. It was for her that he had written the cantata to which Panshine alluded. The words of this cantata were borrowed by him from his collection of hymns, with the exception of a few verses which he composed himself. It was written for two choruses: one of the happy, one of the unhappy. At the end the two united and sang together, “Merciful Lord, have pity upon us, poof sinners, and keep us from all evil thoughts and worldly desires.” On the title-page, very carefully and even artistically written, were the words, “Only the Righteous are in the Right. A Sacred Cantata. Composed, and dedicated to Elizaveta Kalitine, his dear pupil, by her teacher, C.T.G, Lemm.” The words “Only the Righteous are in the Right.” and “To Elizaveta Kalitine” were surrounded by a circle of rays. Underneath was written, “For you only. Fuer Sie allein.” This was why Lemm grew red and looked askance at Liza; he felt greatly hurt when Panshine began to talk to him about his cantata.
Panshine struck the first chords of the sonata, in which he played the bass, loudly and with decision, but Liza did not begin her part. He stopped and looked at her–Liza’s eyes, which were looking straight at him, expressed dissatisfaction; her lips did not smile, all her countenance was severe, almost sad.
“What is the matter?” he asked.
“Why have you not kept your word?” she said. “I showed you Christopher Fedorovich’s cantata only on condition that you would not speak to him about it.”
“I was wrong, Lizaveta Mikhailovna–I spoke without thinking.”
“You have wounded him and me too. In future he will distrust me as well as others.”
“What could I do, Lizaveta Mikhailovna? From my earliest youth I have never been able to see a German without feeling tempted to tease him.”
“What are you saying, Vladimir Nikolaevich? This German is a poor, lonely, broken man; and you feel no pity for him! you feel tempted to tease him!”
Panshine seemed a little disconcerted.
“You are right, Lizaveta Mikhailovna,” he said “The fault is entirely due to my perpetual thoughtlessness. No, do not contradict me. I know myself well. My thoughtlessness has done me no slight harm. It makes people suppose that I am an egotist.”
Panshine made a brief pause. From whatever point he started a conversation, he generally ended by speaking about himself, and then his words seemed almost to escape from him involuntarily, so softly and pleasantly did he speak, and with such an air of sincerity.
“It is so, even in your house,” he continued. “Your mamma, it is true, is most kind to me. She is so good. You–but no, I don’t know what you think of me. But decidedly your aunt cannot abide me. I have vexed her by some thoughtless, stupid speech. It is true that she does not like me, is it not?”
“Yes,” replied Liza, after a moment’s hesitation. “You do not please her.”
Panshine let his fingers run rapidly over the keys; a scarcely perceptible smile glided over his lips.
“Well, but you,” he continued, “do you also think me an egotist?”.
“I know so little about you,” replied Liza; “but I should not call you an egotist. On the contrary, I ought to feel grateful to you–“
“I know, I know what you are going to say,” interrupted Panshine, again running his fingers over the keys, “for the music, for the books, which I bring you, for the bad drawings with which I ornament your album, and so on, and so on. I may do all that, and yet be an egotist. I venture to think that I do not bore you, and that you do not think me a bad man; but yet you suppose that I–how shall I say it?–for the sake of an epigram would not spare my friend, my father him self.”
“You are absent and forgetful, like all men of the world,” said Liza, “that is all.”
Panshine slightly frowned.
“Listen,” he said; “don’t let’s talk any more about me; let us begin our sonata. Only there is one thing I will ask of you,” he added, as he smoothed the sheets which lay on the music-desk with his hand; “think of me what you will, call me egotist even, I don’t object to that; but don’t call me a man of the world, that name is insufferable. _Anch’io sono pittore_. I too am an artist, though but a poor one, and that–namely, that I am a poor artist–I am going to prove to you on the spot. Let us begin.”
“Very good, let us begin,” said Liza.
The first adagio went off with tolerable success, although Panshine made several mistakes. What he had written himself, and what he had learnt by heart, he played very well, but he could not play at sight correctly. Accordingly the second part of the sonata–tolerably quick allegro–would not do at all. At the twentieth bar Panshine, who was a couple of bars behind, gave in, and pushed back his chair with a laugh.
“No!” he exclaimed, “I cannot play to-day. It is fortunate that Lemm cannot hear us; he would have had a fit.”
Liza stood up, shut the piano, and then turned to Panshine.
“What shall we do then?” she asked.
“That question is so like you! You can never sit with folded hands for a moment. Well then, if you feel inclined, let’s draw a little before it becomes quite dark. Perhaps another Muse–the Muse of painting–what’s her name? I’ve forgotten–will be more propitious to me. Where is your album? I remember the landscape I was drawing in it was not finished.”
Liza went into another room for the album, and Panshine, finding himself alone, took a cambric handkerchief out of his pocket, rubbed his nails and looked sideways at his hands. They were very white and well shaped; on the second finger of the left hand he wore a spiral gold ring.
Liza returned; Panshine seated himself by the window and opened the album.
“Ah!” he exclaimed, “I see you have begun to copy my landscape–and capitally–very good indeed–only–just give me the pencil–the shadows are not laid in black enough. Look here.”
And Panshine added some long strokes with a vigorous touch. He always drew the same landscape–large dishevelled trees in the foreground, in the middle distance a plain, and on the horizon an indented chain of hills. Liza looked over his shoulder at his work.
“In drawing, as also in life in general,” said Panshine, turning his head now to the right, now to the left, “lightness and daring–those are the first requisites.”
At this moment Lemm entered the room, and after bowing gravely, was about to retire; but Panshine flung the album and pencil aside, and prevented him from leaving the room.
“Where are you going, dear Christoph Fedorovich? Won’t you stay and take tea?”
“I am going home,” said Lemm, in a surly voice; “my head aches.”
“What nonsense! do remain. We will have a talk about Shakspeare.”
“My head aches,” repeated the old man.
“We tried to play Beethoven’s sonata without you,” continued Panshine, caressingly throwing his arm over the old man’s shoulder and smiling sweetly; “but we didn’t succeed in bringing it to a harmonious conclusion. Just imagine, I couldn’t play two consecutive notes right.”
“You had better have played your romance over again,” replied Lemm; then, escaping from Panshine’s hold he went out of the room.
Liza ran after him, and caught him on the steps.
“Christopher Fedorovich, I want to speak to you,” she said in German, as led him across the short green grass to the gate. “I have done you a wrong–forgive me.”
Lemm made no reply.
“I showed your cantata to Vladimir Nikolaevich; I was sure he would appreciate it, and, indeed, he was exceedingly pleased with it.”
Lemm stopped still.
“It’s no matter,” he said in Russian, and then added in his native tongue,–“But he is utterly incapable of understanding it. How is it you don’t see that? He is a _dilettante_–that is all.”
“You are unjust towards him,” replied Liza. “He understands every thing, and can do almost every thing himself.”
“Yes, every thing second-rate–poor goods, scamped work. But that pleases, and he pleases, and he is well content with that. Well, then, bravo!–But I am not angry. I and that cantata, we are both old fools! I feel a little ashamed, but it’s no matter.”
“Forgive me, Christopher Fedorovich!” urged Liza anew.
“It’s no matter, no matter,” he repeated a second time in Russian. “You are a good girl.–Here is some one coming to pay you a visit. Good-bye. You are a very good girl.”
And Lemm made his way with hasty steps to the gate, through which there was passing a gentleman who was a stranger to him, dressed in a grey paletot and a broad straw hat. Politely saluting him (he bowed to every new face in O., and always turned away his head from his acquaintances in the street–such was the rule he had adopted), Lemm went past him, and disappeared behind the wall.
The stranger gazed at him as he retired with surprise, then looked at Liza, and then went straight up to her.
“You won’t remember me,” he said, as he took off his hat, “but I recognized you, though it is seven years since I saw you last. You were a child then. I am Lavretsky. Is your mamma at home? Can I see her?”
“Mamma will be so glad,” replied Liza. “She has heard of your arrival.”
“Your name is Elizaveta, isn’t it?” asked Lavretsky, as he mounted the steps leading up to the house.
“I remember you perfectly. Yours was even in those days one of the faces which one does not forget. I used to bring you sweetmeats then.”
Liza blushed a little, and thought to herself, “What an odd man!” Lavretsky stopped for a minute in the hall.
Liza entered the drawing-room, in which Panshine’s voice and laugh were making themselves heard. He was communicating some piece of town gossip to Maria Dmitrievna and Gedeonovsky, both of whom had by this time returned from the garden, and he was laughly loudly at his own story. At the name of Lavretsky, Maria Dmitrievna became nervous and turned pale, but went forward to receive him.
“How are you? how are you, my dear cousin?” she exclaimed, with an almost lachrymose voice, dwelling on each word she uttered. “How glad I am to see you!”
“How are you, my good cousin?” replied Lavretsky, with a friendly pressure of her outstretched hand. “Is all well with you?”
“Sit clown, sit down, my dear Fedor Ivanovich. Oh, how delighted I am! But first let me introduce my daughter Liza.”
“I have already introduced myself to Lizaveta Mikhailovna,” interrupted Lavretsky.
“Monsieur Panshine–Sergius Petrovich Gedeonovsky. But do sit down. I look at you, and, really, I can scarcely trust my eyes. But tell me about your health; is it good?”
“I am quite well, as you can see. And you, too, cousin–if I can say so without bringing you bad luck[A]–you are none the worse for these seven years.”
[Footnote A: A reference to the superstition of the “evil eye,” still rife among the peasants in Russia. Though it has died out among the educated classes, yet the phrase, “not to cast an evil eye,” is still made use of in conversation.]
“When I think what a number of years it is since we last saw one another,” musingly said Maria Dmitrievna. “Where do you come from now? Where have you left–that’s to say, I meant”–she hurriedly corrected herself–“I meant to say, shall you stay with us long?”
“I come just now from Berlin,” replied Lavretsky, “and to-morrow I shall go into the country–to stay there, in all probability, a long time.”
“I suppose you are going to live at Lavriki?”
“No, not at Lavriki; but I have a small property about five-and-twenty versts from here, and I am going there.”
“Is that the property which Glafira Petrovna left you?”
“Yes, that’s it.”
“But really, Fedor Ivanovich, you have such a charming house at Lavriki.”
Lavretsky frowned a little.
“Yes–but I have a cottage on the other estate too; I don’t require any more just now. That place is–most convenient for me at present.”
Maria Dmitrievna became once more so embarrassed that she actually sat upright in her chair, and let her hands drop by her side. Panshine came to the rescue, and entered into conversation with Lavretsky. Maria Dmitrievna by degrees grew calm, leant back again comfortably in her chair, and from time to time contributed a word or two to the conversation. But still she kept looking at her guest so pitifully, sighing so significantly, and shaking her head so sadly, that at last he lost all patience, and asked her, somewhat brusquely, if she was unwell.
“No, thank God!” answered Maria Dmitrievna; “but why do you ask?”
“Because I thought you did not seem quite yourself.”
Maria Dmitrievna assumed a dignified and somewhat offended expression.
“If that’s the way you take it,” she thought, “it’s a matter of perfect indifference to me; it’s clear that every thing slides off you like water off a goose. Any one else would have withered up with misery, but you’ve grown fat on it.”
Maria Dmitrievna did not stand upon ceremony when she was only thinking to herself. When she spoke aloud she was more choice in her expressions.
And in reality Lavretsky did not look like a victim of destiny. His rosy-cheeked, thoroughly Russian face, with its large white forehead, somewhat thick nose, and long straight lips, seemed to speak of robust health and enduring vigor of constitution. He was powerfully built, and his light hair twined in curls, like a boy’s, about his head. Only in his eyes, which were blue, rather prominent, and a little wanting in mobility, an expression might be remarked which it would be difficult to define. It might have been melancholy, or it might have been fatigue; and the ring of his voice seemed somewhat monotonous.
All this time Panshine was supporting the burden of the conversation. He brought it round to the advantages of sugar making, about which he had lately read two French pamphlets; their contents he now proceeded to disclose, speaking with an air of great modesty, but without saying a single word about the sources of his information.
“Why, there’s Fedia!” suddenly exclaimed the voice of Marfa Timofeevna in the next room, the door of which had been left half open. “Actually, Fedia!” And the old lady hastily entered the room. Lavretsky hadn’t had time to rise from his chair before she had caught him in her arms. “Let me have a look at you,” she exclaimed, holding him at a little distance from her. “Oh, how well you are looking! You’ve grown a little older, but you haven’t altered a bit for the worse, that’s a fact. But what makes you kiss my hand. Kiss my face, if you please, unless you don’t like the look of my wrinkled cheeks. I dare say you never asked after me, or whether your aunt was alive or no. And yet it was my hands received you when you first saw the light, you good-for-nothing fellow! Ah, well, it’s all one. But it was a good idea of yours to come here. I say, my dear,” she suddenly exclaimed, turning to Maria Dmitrievna, “have you offered him any refreshment?”
“I don’t want any thing,” hastily said Lavretsky.
“Well, at all events, you will drink tea with us, _batyushka_. Gracious heavens! A man comes, goodness knows from how far off, and no one gives him so much as a cup of tea. Liza, go and see after it quickly. I remember he was a terrible glutton when he was a boy, and even now, perhaps, he is fond of eating and drinking.”
“Allow me to pay my respects, Maria Timofeevna,” said Panshine, coming up to the excited old lady, and making her a low bow.
“Pray excuse me, my dear sir,” replied Marfa Timofeevna, “I overlooked you in my joy. You’re just like your dear mother,” she continued, turning anew to Lavretsky, “only you always had your father’s nose, and you have it still. Well, shall you stay here long?”
“I go away to-morrow, aunt.”
“To my house at Vasilievskoe.”
“Well, if it must be to-morrow, so be it. God be with you! You know what is best for yourself. Only mind you come and say good-bye.” The old lady tapped him gently on the cheek. “I didn’t suppose I should live to see you come back; not that I thought I was going to die–no, no; I have life enough left in me for ten years to come. All we Pestofs are long-lived–your late grandfather used to call us double-lived; but God alone could tell how long you were going to loiter abroad. Well, well! You are a fine fellow–a very fine fellow. I dare say you can still lift ten poods[A] with one hand, as you used to do. Your late father, if you’ll excuse my saying so, was as nonsensical as he could be, but he did well in getting you that Swiss tutor. Do you remember the boxing matches you used to have with him? Gymnastics, wasn’t it, you used to call them? But why should I go on cackling like this? I shall only prevent Monsieur Pan_shine_ (she never laid the accent on the first syllable of his name, as she ought to have done) from favoring us with his opinions. On the whole, we had much better go and have tea. Yes, let’s go and have it on the terrace. We have magnificent cream–not like what they have in your Londons and Parises. Come away, come away; and you, Fediouchka, give me your arm. What a strong arm you have, to be sure! I shan’t fall while you’re by my side.”
[Footnote A: The pood weighs thirty-six pounds.]
Every one rose and went out on the terrace, except Gedeonovsky, who slipped away stealthily. During the whole time Lavretsky was talking with the mistress of the house, with Panshine and with Marfa Timofeevna, that old gentleman had been sitting in his corner, squeezing up his eyes and shooting out his lips, while he listened with the curiosity of a child to all that was being said. When he left, it was that he might hasten to spread through the town the news of the recent arrival.
Here is a picture of what was taking place at eleven o’clock that same evening in the Kalitines’ house. Down stairs, on the threshold of the drawing-room, Panshine was taking leave of Liza, and saying, as he held her hand in his:–
“You know who it is that attracts me here; you know why I am always coming to your house. Of what use are words when all is so clear?”
Liza did not say a word in reply–she did not ever smile. Slightly arching her eyebrows, and growing rather red, she kept her eyes fixed on the ground, but did not withdraw her hand. Up stairs, in Marfa Timofeevna’s room, the light of the lamp, which hung in the corner before the age-embrowned sacred pictures, fell on Lavretsky, as he sat in an arm-chair, his elbows resting on his knees, his face hidden in his hands. In front of him stood the old lady, who from time to time silently passed her hand over his hair. He spent more than an hour with her after taking leave of the mistress of the house, he scarcely saying a word to his kind old friend, and she not asking him any questions. And why should he have spoken? what could she have asked? She understood all so well, she so fully sympathized with all the feelings which filled his heart.
Fedor Ivanovich Lavretsky (we must ask our reader’s permission to break off the thread of the story for a time) sprang from a noble family of long descent. The founder of the race migrated from Prussia during the reign of Basil the Blind,[A] and was favored with a grant of two hundred _chetverts_[B] of land in the district of Biejetsk. Many of his descendants filled various official positions, and were appointed to governorships in distant places, under princes and influential personages, but none of them obtained any great amount of property, or arrived at a higher dignity, than that of inspector of the Czar’s table.
[Footnote A: In the fifteenth century.]
[Footnote B: An old measure of land, variously estimated at from two to six acres.]
The richest and most influential of all the Lavretskys was Fedor Ivanovich’s paternal great-grandfather Andrei, a man who was harsh, insolent, shrewd, and crafty. Even up to the present day men have never ceased to talk about his despotic manners, his furious temper, his senseless prodigality, and his insatiable avarice. He was very tall and stout, his complexion was swarthy, and he wore no beard. He lisped, and he generally seemed half asleep. But the more quietly he spoke, the more did all around him tremble. He had found a wife not unlike himself. She had a round face, a yellow complexion, prominent eyes, and the nose of a hawk. A gypsy by descent, passionate and vindictive in temper, she refused to yield in any thing to her husband, who all but brought her to her grave, and whom, although she had been eternally squabbling with him, she could net bear long to survive.
Andrei’s son, Peter, our Fedor’s grandfather, did not take after his father. He was a simple country gentleman; rather odd, noisy in voice and slow in action, rough but not malicious, hospitable, and devoted to coursing. He was more than thirty years old when he inherited from his father two thousand souls,[A] all in excellent condition; but he soon began to squander his property, a part of which he disposed of by sale, and he spoilt his household. His large, warm, and dirty rooms were full of people of small degree, known and unknown, who swarmed in from all sides like cockroaches. All these visitors gorged themselves with whatever came in their way, drank their fill to intoxication, and carried off what they could, extolling and glorifying their affable host. As for their host, when he was out of humor with them, he called them scamps and parasites; but when deprived of their company, he soon found himself bored.
[Footnote A: Male serfs.]
The wife of Peter Andreich was a quiet creature whom he had taken from a neighboring family in acquiescence with his father’s choice and command. Her name was Anna Pavlovna. She never interfered in any thing, received her guests cordially, and went out into society herself with pleasure–although “it was death” to her, to use her own phrase, to have to powder herself. “They put a felt cap on your head,” she used to say in her old age; “they combed all your hair straight up on end, they smeared it with grease, they strewed it with flour, they stuck it full of iron pins; you couldn’t wash it away afterwards. But to pay a visit without powdering was impossible. People would have taken offence. What a torment it was!” She liked to drive fast, and was ready to play at cards from morning until evening. When her husband approached the card-table, she was always in the habit of covering with her hand the trumpery losses scored up against her; but she had made over to him, without reserve, all her dowry, all the money she had. She brought him two children–a son named Ivan, our Fedor’s father, and a daughter, Glafira.[A]
[Footnote A: The accent should be on the second syllable of this name.]
Ivan was not brought up at home, but in the house of an old and wealthy maiden aunt, Princess Kubensky. She styled him her heir (if it had not been for that, his father would not have let him go), dressed him like a doll, gave him teachers of every kind, and placed him under the care of a French tutor–an ex-abbe, a pupil of Jean Jacques Rousseau–a certain M. Courtin de Vaucelles an adroit and subtle intriguer–“the very _fine fleur_ of the emigration,” as she expressed herself; and she ended by marrying this _fine fleur_ when she was almost seventy years old. She transferred all her property to his name, and soon afterwards, rouged, perfumed with amber _a la Richelieu_, surrounded by negro boys, Italian grey-hounds, and noisy parrots, she died, stretched on a crooked silken couch of the style of Louis the Fifteenth, with an enamelled snuff-box of Petitot’s work in her hands–and died deserted by her husband. The insinuating M. Courtin had preferred to take himself and her money off to Paris.
Ivan was in his twentieth year when this unexpected blow struck him. We speak of the Princess’s marriage, not her death. In his aunt’s house, in which he had suddenly passed from the position of a wealthy heir to that of a hanger-on, he would not slay any longer. In Petersburg, the society in which he had grown up closed its doors upon him. For the lower ranks of the public service, and the laborious and obscure life they involved, he felt a strong repugnance. All this, it must be remembered, took place in the earliest part of the reign of the Emperor Alexander I[A]. He was obliged, greatly against his will, to return to his father’s country house. Dirty, poor, and miserable did the paternal nest seem to him. The solitude and the dullness of a retired country life offended him at every step. He was devoured by ennui; besides, every one in the house, except his mother, regarded him with unloving eyes. His father disliked his metropolitan habits, his dress-coats and shirt-frills, his books, his flute, his cleanliness–from which he justly argued that his son regarded him with a feeling of aversion. He was always grumbling at his son, and complaining of his conduct.
[Footnote A: When corruption was the rule in the public service.]
“Nothing we have here pleases him,” he used to say. “He is so fastidious at table, he eats nothing. He cannot bear the air and the smell of the room. The sight of drunken people upsets him; and as to beating anyone before him, you musn’t dare to do it. Then he won’t enter the service; his health is delicate, forsooth! Bah! What an effeminate creature!–and all because his head is full of Voltaire!” The old man particularly disliked Voltaire, and also the “infidel” Diderot, although he had never read a word of their works. Reading was not in his line.
Peter Andreich was not mistaken. Both Diderot and Voltaire really were in his son’s head; and not they alone. Rousseau and Raynal and Helvetius also, and many other similar writers, were in his head; but in his head only. Ivan Petrovich’s former tutor, the retired Abbe and encyclopaedist, had satisfied himself with pouring all the collective wisdom of the eighteenth century over his pupil; and so the pupil existed, saturated with it. It held its own in him without mixing with his blood, without sinking into his mind, without resolving into fixed convictions. And would it be reasonable to ask for convictions from a youngster half a century ago, when we have not even yet acquired any?
Ivan Petrovich disconcerted the visitors also in his father’s house. He was too proud to have anything to do with them; they feared him. With his sister Glafira, too, who was twelve years his senior, he did not at all agree. This Glafira was a strange being. Plain, deformed, meagre–with staring and severe eyes, and with thin, compressed lips–she, in her face and her voice, and in her angular and quick movements, resembled her grandmother, the gipsy Andrei’s wife. Obstinate, and fond of power, she would not even hear of marriage. Ivan Petrovich’s return home was by no means to her taste. So long as the Princess Kubensky kept him with her, Glafira had hoped to obtain at least half of her father’s property; and in her avarice, as well as in other points, she resembled her grandmother. Besides this, Glafira was jealous of her brother. He had been educated so well; he spoke French so correctly, with a Parisian accent; and she scarcely knew how to say “_Bonjour_” and “_Comment vous portez vous_?” It is true that her parents were entirely ignorant of French, but that did not make things any better for her.
As to Ivan Petrovich, he did not know what to do with himself for vexation and ennui; he had not spent quite a year in the country, but even this time seemed to him like ten years. It was only with his mother that he was at ease in spirit; and for whole hours he used to sit in her low suite of rooms listening to the good lady’s simple, unconnected talk, and stuffing himself with preserves. It happened that among Anna Pavlovna’s maids there was a very pretty girl named Malania. Intelligent and modest, with calm, sweet eyes, and finely-cut features, she pleased Ivan Petrovich from the very first, and he soon fell in love with her. He loved her timid gait, her modest replies, her gentle voice, her quiet smile. Every day she seemed to him more attractive than before. And she attached herself to Ivan Petrovich with the whole strength of her soul–as only Russian girls know how to devote themselves–and gave herself to him. In a country house no secret can be preserved long; in a short time almost every one knew of the young master’s fondness for Malania. At last the news reached Peter Andreich himself. At another time it is probable that he would have paid very little attention to so unimportant an affair; but he had long nursed a grudge against his son, and he was delighted to have an opportunity of disgracing the philosophical exquisite from St. Petersburg. There ensued a storm, attended by noise and outcry. Malania was locked up in the store-room.[A] Ivan Petrovich was summoned into his father’s presence. Anna Pavlovna also came running to the scene of confusion, and tried to appease her husband; but he would not listen to a word she said. Like a hawk, he pounced upon his son charging him with immorality, atheism, and hypocrisy. He eagerly availed himself of so good an opportunity of discharging on him all his long-gathered spite against the Princess Kubensky, and overwhelmed him with insulting expressions.
[Footnote A: A sort of closet under the stairs.]
At first Ivan Petrovich kept silence, and maintained his hold over himself; but when his father thought fit to threaten him with a disgraceful punishment, he could bear it no longer. “Ah!” he thought, “the infidel Diderot is going to be brought forward again. Well, then, I will put his teaching in action.” And so with a quiet and even voice, although with a secret shuddering in all his limbs, he told his father that it was a mistake to accuse him of immorality; that he had no intention of justifying his fault, but that he was ready to make amends for it, and that all the more willingly, inasmuch as he felt himself superior to all prejudices; and, in fact–that he was ready to marry Malania. In uttering these words Ivan Petrovich undoubtedly attained the end he had in view. Peter Andreich was so confounded that he opened his eyes wide, and for a moment was struck dumb; but he immediately recovered his senses, and then and there, just as he was, wrapped in a dressing-gown trimmed with squirrels’ fur, and with slippers on his bare feet, he rushed with clenched fists at his son, who, as if on purpose, had dressed his hair that day _a la Titus_, and had put on a blue dress-coat, quite new and made in the English fashion, tasselled boots, and dandified, tight-fitting buckskin pantaloons. Anna Pavlovna uttered a loud shriek, and hid her face in her hands; meanwhile her son ran right through the house, jumped into the court-yard, threw himself first into the kitchen garden and then into the flower garden, flew across the park into the road, and ran and ran, without once looking back, until at last he ceased to hear behind him the sound of his father’s heavy feet, the loud and broken cries with which his father sobbed out, “Stop, villain! Stop, or I will curse you!”
Ivan Petrovich took refuge in the house of a neighbor,[A] and his father returned home utterly exhausted, and bathed in perspiration. There he announced, almost before he had given himself time to recover breath, that he withdrew his blessing and his property from his son, whose stupid books he condemned to be burnt; and he gave orders to have the girl Malania sent, with out delay, to a distant village. Some good people found out where Ivan Petrovich was, and told him everything. Full of shame and rage, he swore vengeance upon his father; and that very night, having lain in wait for the peasant’s cart on which Malania was being sent away, he carried her off by force, galloped with her to the nearest town, and there married her. He was supplied with the necessary means by a neighbor, a hard-drinking, retired sailor, who was exceedingly good-natured, and a very great lover of all “noble histories,” as he called them.
[Footnote A: Literally, “of a neighboring _Odnodvorets_.” That word signifies one who belongs by descent to the class of nobles and proprietors, but who has no serfs belonging to him, and is really a moujik, or peasant. Some villages are composed of inhabitants of this class, who are often intelligent, though uneducated.]
The next day Ivan Petrovich sent his father a letter, which was frigidly and ironically polite, and then betook himself to the estate of two of his second cousins,–Dmitry Pestof, and his sister Marfa Timofeevna, with the latter of whom the reader is already acquainted. He told them everything that had happened, announced his intention of going to St. Petersburg to seek an appointment, and begged them to give shelter to his wife, even if only for a time. At the word “wife” he sobbed bitterly; and, in spite of his metropolitan education, and his philosophy, he humbly, like a thorough Russian peasant, knelt down at the feet of his relations, and even touched the floor with his forehead.
The Pestofs, who were kind and compassionate people, willingly consented to his request. With them he spent three weeks, secretly expecting an answer from his father. But no answer came; no answer could come. Peter Andreich, when he received the news of the marriage, took to his bed, and gave orders that his son’s name should never again be mentioned to him; but Ivan’s mother, without her husband’s knowledge, borrowed five hundred paper roubles from a neighboring priest,[A] and sent them to her son, with a little sacred picture for his wife. She was afraid of writing, but she told her messenger, a spare little peasant who could walk sixty versts in a day, to say to Ivan that he was not to fret too much; that please God, all would yet go right, and his father’s wrath would turn to kindness–that she, too, would have preferred a different daughter-in-law; but that evidently God had willed it as it was, and that she sent her paternal benediction to Malania Sergievna. The spare little peasant had a rouble given him, asked leave to see the new mistress, whose gossip[B] he was, kissed her hand, and returned home.
[Footnote A: Literally, “from the _Blagochinny_” an ecclesiastic who exercises supervision over a number of churches or parishes, a sort of Rural Dean.]
[Footnote A: The word is used in its old meaning of fellow-sponsor.]
So Ivan Petrovich betook himself to St. Petersburg with a light heart. An unknown future lay before him. Poverty might menace him; but he had broken with the hateful life in the country, and, above all, he had not fallen short of his instructors; he had really “put into action,” and indeed done justice to, the doctrines of Rousseau, Diderot, and the “Declaration of the Rights of Man.” The conviction of having accomplished a duty, a sense of pride and of triumph, filled his soul; and the fact of having to separate from his wife did not greatly alarm him; he would far sooner have been troubled by the necessity of having constantly to live with her. He had now to think of other affairs. One task was finished.
In St. Petersburg, contrary to his own expectations, he was successful. The Princess Kubensky–whom M. Courtin had already flung aside, but who had not yet contrived to die–in order that she might at least to some extent, make amends for her conduct towards her nephew, recommended him to all her friends, and gave him five thousand roubles–almost all the money she had left–and a watch, with his crest wrought on its back surrounded by a wreath of Cupids.
Three months had not gone by before he received an appointment on the staff of the Russian embassy in London, whither he set sail (steamers were not even talked about then) in the first homeward bound English vessel he could find. A few months later he received a letter from Pestof. The kind-hearted gentleman congratulated him on the birth of a son, who had come into the world at the village of Pokrovskoe, on the 20th of August, 1807, and had been named Fedor, in honor of the holy martyr Fedor Stratilates. On account of her extreme weakness, Malania Sergievna could add only a few lines. But even those few astonished Ivan Petrovich; he was not aware that Marfa Timofeevna had taught his wife to read and write.
It must not be supposed that Ivan Petrovich gave himself up for any length of time to the sweet emotion caused by paternal feeling. He was just then paying court to one of the celebrated Phrynes or Laises of the day–classical names were still in vogue at that time. The peace of Tilset was only just concluded,[A] and every one was hastening to enjoy himself, every one was being swept round by a giddy whirlwind. The black eyes of a bold beauty had helped to turn his head also. He had very little money, but he played cards luckily, made friends, joined in all possible diversions–in a word, he sailed with all sail set.
[Footnote A: In consequence of which the Russian embassy was withdrawn from London, and Ivan Petrovich probably went to Paris.]
For a long time the old Lavretsky could not forgive his son for his marriage. If, at the end of six months, Ivan Petrovich had appeared before him with contrite mien, and had fallen at his feet, the old man would, perhaps, have pardoned the offender–after having soundly abused him, and given him a tap with his crutch by way of frightening him. But Ivan Petrovich went on living abroad, and, apparently, troubled himself but little about his father. “Silence! don’t dare to say another word!” exclaimed Peter Andreich to his wife, every time she tried to mollify him. “That puppy ought to be always praying to God for me, since I have not laid my curse upon him, the good-for-nothing fellow! Why, my late father would have killed him with his own hands, and he would have done well.” All that Anna Pavlovna could do was to cross herself stealthily when she heard such terrible words as these. As to his son’s wife, Peter Andreich would not so much as hear of her at first; and even when he had to answer a letter in which his daughter-in-law was mentioned by Pestof, he ordered a message to be sent to him to say that he did not know of any one who could be his daughter-in-law, and that it was contrary to the law to shelter runaway female serfs, a fact of which he considered it a duty to warn him. But afterwards, on learning the birth of his grandson, his heart softened a little; he gave orders that inquiries should be secretly made on his behalf about the mother’s health, and he sent her–but still, not as if it came from himself–a small sum of money.
Before Fedor was a year old, his grandmother, Anna Pavlovna, was struck down by a mortal complaint. A few days before her death, when she could no longer rise from her bed, she told her husband in the presence of the priest, while her dying eyes swam with timid tears, that she wished to see her daughter-in-law, and to bid her farewell, and to bless her grandson. The old man, who was greatly moved, bade her set her mind at rest, and immediately sent his own carriage for his daughter-in-law, calling her, for the first time, Malania Sergievna.[A] Malania arrived with her boy, and with Marfa Timofeevna, whom nothing would have induced to allow her to go alone, and who was determined not to allow her to meet with any harm. Half dead with fright, Malania Sergievna entered her father-in-law’s study, a nurse carrying Fedia behind her. Peter Andreich looked at her in silence. She drew near and took his hand, on which her quivering lips could scarcely press a silent kiss.
[Footnote A: That is to say, no longer speaking of her as if she were still a servant.]
“Well, noble lady,”[A] he said at last,–“Good-day to you; let’s go to my wife’s room.”
[Footnote A: Literally “thrashed-while-damp noblewoman,” _i.e._, hastily ennobled. Much corn is thrashed in Russia before it has had time to get dry.]
He rose and bent over Fedia; the babe smiled and stretched out its tiny white hands towards him. The old man was touched.
“Ah, my orphaned one!” he said. “You have successfully pleaded your father’s cause. I will not desert you, little bird.”
As soon as Malania Sergievna entered Anna Pavlovna’s bed-room, she fell on her knees near the door. Anna Pavlovna, having made her a sign to come to her bedside, embraced her, and blessed her child. Then, turning towards her husband a face worn by cruel suffering, she would have spoken to him, but he prevented her.
“I know, I know what you want to ask,” he said; “don’t worry yourself. She shall remain with us, and for her sake I will forgive Vanka.”[A]
[Footnote A: A diminutive of Ivan, somewhat expressive of contempt Vanya is the affectionate form.]
Anna Pavlovna succeeded by a great effort in getting hold of her husband’s hand and pressing it to her lips. That same evening she died.
Peter Andreich kept his word. He let his son know that out of respect to his mother’s last moments, and for the sake of the little Fedor, he gave him back his blessing, and would keep Malania Sergievna in his house. A couple of small rooms up-stairs were accordingly given to Malania, and he presented her to his most important acquaintances, the one-eyed Brigadier Skurekhine and his wife. He also placed two maid-servants at her disposal, and a page to run her errands.
After Marfa Timofeevna had left her–who had conceived a perfect hatred for Glafira, and had quarrelled with her three times in the course of a single day–the poor woman at first found her position difficult and painful. But after a time she attained endurance, and grew accustomed to her father-in-law. He, on his part, grew accustomed to her, and became fond of her, though he scarcely ever spoke to her, although in his caresses themselves a certain involuntary contempt showed itself. But it was her sister-in-law who made Malania suffer the most. Even during her mother’s lifetime, Glafira had gradually succeeded in getting the entire management of the house into her own hands. Every one, from her father downwards, yielded to her. Without her permission not even a lump of sugar was to be got. She would have preferred to die rather than to delegate her authority to another housewife–and such a housewife too! She had been even more irritated than Peter Andreich by her brother’s marriage, so she determined to read the upstart a good lesson, and from the very first Malania Sergievna became her slave. And Malania, utterly without defence, weak in health, constantly a prey to trouble and alarm–how could she have striven against the proud and strong-willed Glafira? Not a day passed without Glafira reminding her of her former position, and praising her for not forgetting herself. Malania Sergievna would willingly have acquiesced in these remindings and praisings, however bitter they might be–but her child had been taken away from her. This drove her to despair. Under the pretext that she was not qualified to see after his education, she was scarcely ever allowed to go near him. Glafira undertook the task. The child passed entirely into her keeping.
In her sorrow, Malania Sergievna began to implore her husband in her letters to return quickly. Peter Andreich himself wished to see his son, but Ivan Petrovich merely sent letters in reply. He thanked his father for what had been done for his wife, and for the money which had been sent to himself, and he promised to come home soon–but he did not come.
At last the year 1812 recalled him from abroad. On seeing each other for the first time after a separation of six years, the father and the son met in a warm embrace, and did not say a single word in reference to their former quarrels. Nor was it a time for that. All Russia was rising against the foe, and they both felt that Russian blood flowed in their veins, Peter Andreich equipped a whole regiment of volunteers at his own expense. But the war ended; the danger passed away. Ivan Petrovich once more became bored, once more he was allured into the distance, into that world in which he had grown up, and in which he felt himself at home. Malania could not hold him back; she was valued at very little in his eyes. Even what she really had hoped had not been fulfilled. Like the rest, her husband thought that it was decidedly most expedient to confide Fedia’s education to Glafira. Ivan’s poor wife could not bear up against this blow, could not endure this second separation. Without a murmur, at the end of a few days, she quietly passed away.
In the course of her whole life she had never been able to resist any thing; and so with her illness, also, she did not struggle. When she could no longer speak, and the shadows of death already lay on her face, her features still retained their old expression of patient perplexity, of unruffled and submissive sweetness. With her usual silent humility, she gazed at Glafira; and as Anna Pavlovna on her death-bed had kissed the hand of Peter Andreich, so she pressed her lips to Glafira’s hand, as she confided to Glafira’s care her only child. So did this good and quiet being end her earthly career. Like a shrub torn from its native soil, and the next moment flung aside, its roots upturned to the sun, she withered and disappeared, leaving no trace behind, and no one to grieve for her. It is true that her maids regretted her, and so did Peter Andreich. The old man missed her kindly face, her silent presence. “Forgive–farewell–my quiet one!” he said, as he took leave of her for the last time, in the church. He wept as he threw a handful of earth into her grave.
He did not long survive her–not more than five years. In the winter of 1819, he died peacefully in Moscow, whither he had gone with Glafira and his grandson. In his will he desired to be buried by the side of Anna Pavlovna and “Malasha.”[A]
[Footnote A: Diminutive of Malania.]
Ivan Petrovich was at that time amusing himself in Paris, having retired from the service soon after the year 1815. On receiving the news of his father’s death, he determined to return to Russia. The organization of his property had to be considered. Besides, according to Glafira’s letter, Fedia had finished his twelfth year; and the time had come for taking serious thought about his education.
Ivan Petrovich returned to Russia an Anglomaniac. Short hair, starched frills, a pea-green, long-skirted coat with a number of little collars; a soar expression of countenance, something trenchant and at the same time careless in his demeanor, an utterance through the teeth, an abrupt wooden laugh, an absence of smile, a habit of conversing only on political or politico-economical subjects, a passion for under-done roast beef and port wine–every thing in him breathed, so to speak, of Great Britain. He seemed entirely imbued by its spirit. But strange to say, while becoming an Anglomaniac, Ivan Petrovich had also become a patriot,–at all events he called himself a patriot,–although he knew very little about Russia, he had not retained a single Russian habit, and he expressed himself in Russian oddly. In ordinary talk, his language was colorless and unwieldy, and absolutely bristled with Gallicisms. But the moment that the conversation turned upon serious topics, Ivan Petrovich immediately began to give utterance to such expressions as “to render manifest abnormal symptoms of enthusiasm,” or “this is extravagantly inconsistent with the essential nature of circumstances,” and so forth. He had brought with him some manuscript plans, intended to assist in the organization and improvement of the empire. For he was greatly discontented with what he saw taking place. It was the absence of system which especially aroused his indignation.
At his interview with his sister, he informed her in the first words he spoke that he meant to introduce radical reforms on his property, and that for the future all his affairs would be conducted on a new system. Glafira made no reply, but she clenched her teeth and thought, “What is to become of me then?” However, when she had gone with her brother and her nephew to the estate, her mind was soon set at ease. It is true that a few changes were made in the house, and the hangers-on and parasites were put to immediate flight. Among their number suffered two old women, the one blind, the other paralyzed, and also a worn-out major of the Ochakof[A] days, who, on account of his great voracity, was fed upon nothing but black bread and lentiles. An order was given also not to receive any of the former visitors; they were replaced by a distant neighbor, a certain blonde and scrofulous baron, an exceedingly well brought-up and remarkably dull man. New furniture was sent from Moscow; spittoons, bells, and washhand basins were introduced; the breakfast was served in a novel fashion; foreign wines replaced the old national spirits and liquors; new liveries were given to the servants, and to the family coat of arms was added the motto, “_In recto virtus_.”
[Footnote A: Ochakof is a town which was taken from the Turks by the Russians in 1788.]
In reality, however, the power of Glafira did not diminish; all receipts and expenditures were settled, as before, by her. A Valet, who had been brought from abroad, a native of Alsace, tried to compete with her, and lost his place, in spite of the protection which his master generally afforded him. In all that related to house-keeping, and also to the administration of the estate (for with these things too Glafira interfered)–in spite of the intention often expressed by Ivan Petrovich “to breathe new life into the chaos,”–all remained on the old footing. Only the _obrok_[A] remained on the old footing, and the _barshina_[B] became heavier, and the peasants were forbidden to go straight to Ivan Petrovich. The patriot already despised his fellow-citizens heartily. Ivan Petrovich’s system was applied in its full development only to Fedia. The boy’s education really underwent “a radical reform.” His father undertook the sole direction of it himself.
[Footnote A: What the peasant paid his lord in money.]
[Footnote B: What the peasant paid his lord in labor.]
Until the return of Ivan Petrovich from abroad, Fedia remained, as we have already said, in the hands of Glafira Petrovna. He was not yet eight years old when his mother died. It was not every day that he had been allowed to see her, but he had become passionately attached to her. His recollections of her, especially of her pale and gentle face, her mournful eyes, and her timid caresses, were indelibly impressed upon his heart. It was but vaguely that he understood her position in the house, but he felt that between him and her there existed a barrier which she dared not and could not destroy. He felt shy of his father, who, on his part, never caressed him. His grandfather sometimes smoothed his hair and gave him his hand to kiss, but called him a savage and thought him a fool. After Malania’s death, his aunt took him regularly in hand. Fedia feared her, feared her bright sharp eyes, her cutting voice; he never dared to make the slightest noise in her presence; if by chance he stirred ever so little on his chair, she would immediately exclaim in her hissing voice, “Where are you going? sit still!”
On Sundays, after mass, he was allowed to play–that is to say, a thick book was given to him, a mysterious book, the work of a certain Maksimovich-Ambodik, bearing the title of “Symbols and Emblems.” In this book there were to be found about a thousand, for the most part, very puzzling pictures, with equally puzzling explanations in five languages. Cupid, represented with a naked and chubby body, played a great part in these pictures. To one of them, the title of which was “Saffron and the Rainbow,” was appended the explanation, “The effect of this is great.” Opposite another, which represented “A Stork, flying with a violet in its beak,” stood this motto, “To thee they are all known;” and “Cupid, and a bear licking its cub,” was styled “Little by Little.” Fedia used to pore over these pictures. He was familiar with them all even to their minutest details. Some of them–it was always the same ones–made him reflect, and excited his imagination: of other diversions he knew nothing.
When the time came for teaching him languages and music, Glafira Petrovna hired an old maid for a mere trifle, a Swede, whose eyes looked sideways, like a hare’s, who spoke French and German more or less badly, played the piano so so, and pickled cucumbers to perfection. In the company of this governess, of his aunt, and of an old servant maid called Vasilievna, Fedia passed four whole years. Sometimes he would sit in a corner with his “Emblems”–there he would sit and sit. A scent of geraniums filled the low room, one tallow candle burnt dimly, the cricket chirped monotonously as if it were bored, the little clock ticked busily on the wall, a mouse scratched stealthily and gnawed behind the tapestry; and the three old maids, like the three Fates, knitted away silently and swiftly, the shadows of their hands now scampering along, now mysteriously quivering in the dusk; and strange, no less dusky, thoughts were being born in the child’s mind.
No one would have called Fedia an interesting child. He was rather pale, but stout, badly built, and awkward–a regular moujik, to use the expression employed by Glafira Petrovna. The pallor would soon have vanished from his face if they had let him go out more into the fresh air. He learnt his lessons pretty well, though he was often idle. He never cried, but he sometimes evinced a savage obstinacy. At those times no one could do any thing with him. Fedia did not love a single one of the persons by whom he was surrounded. Alas for that heart which has not loved in youth!
Such did Ivan Petrovich find him when he returned; and, without losing