A HOUSE OF GENTLEFOLK
By Ivan Turgenev
LIST OF CHARACTERS
Marya Dmitrievna Kalitin, a widow. Marfa Timofyevna Pestov, her aunt. Sergei Petrovitch Gedeonovsky, a state councillor. Fedor Ivanitch Lavretsky, kinsman of Marya. Elisaveta Mihalovna (Lisa), daughters of Marya. Lenotchka, Shurotchka, an orphan girl, ward of Marfa. Nastasya Karpovna Ogarkoff, dependent of Marfa. Vladimir Nikolaitch Panshin, of the Ministry of the Interior. Christopher Fedoritch Lemm, a German musician. Piotr Andreitch Lavretsky, grandfather of Fedor. Anna Pavlovna, grandmother of Fedor. Ivan Petrovitch, father of Fedor. Glafira Petrovna, aunt of Fedor. Malanya Sergyevna, mother of Fedor. Mihalevitch, a student friend of Fedor. Pavel Petrovitch Korobyin, father of Varvara. Kalliopa Karlovna, mother of Varvara. Varvara Pavlovna, wife of Fedor. Anton, old servants of Fedor. Apraxya, Agafya Vlasyevna, nurse of Lisa.
A bright spring day was fading into evening. High overhead in the clear heavens small rosy clouds seemed hardly to move across the sky but to be sinking into its depths of blue.
In a handsome house in one of the outlying streets of the government town of O—— (it was in the year 1842) two women were sitting at an open window; one was about fifty, the other an old lady of seventy.
The name of the former was Marya Dmitrievna Kalitin. Her husband, a shrewd determined man of obstinate bilious temperament, had been dead for ten years. He had been a provincial public prosecutor, noted in his own day as a successful man of business. He had received a fair education and had been to the university; but having been born in narrow circumstances he realized early in life the necessity of pushing his own way in the world and making money. It had been a love-match on Marya Dmitrievna's side. He was not bad-looking, was clever and could be very agreeable when he chose. Marya Dmitrievna Pesto—that was her maiden name—had lost her parents in childhood. She spent some years in a boarding-school in Moscow, and after leaving school, lived on the family estate of Pokrovskoe, about forty miles from O——, with her aunt and her elder brother. This brother soon after obtained a post in Petersburg, and made them a scanty allowance. He treated his aunt and sister very shabbily till his sudden death cut short his career. Marya Dmitrievna inherited Pokrovskoe, but she did not live there long. Two years after her marriage with Kalitin, who succeeded in winning her heart in a few days, Pokrovskoe was exchanged for another estate, which yielded a much larger income, but was utterly unattractive and had no house. At the same time Kalitin took a house in the town of O——, in which he and his wife took up their permanent abode. There was a large garden round the house, which on one side looked out upon the open country away from the town.
"And so," decided Kalitin, who had a great distaste for the quiet of country life, "there would be no need for them to be dragging themselves off into the country." In her heart Marya Dmitrievna more than once regretted her pretty Pokrovskoe, with its babbling brook, its wide meadows, and green copses; but she never opposed her husband in anything and had the greatest veneration for his wisdom and knowledge of the world. When after fifteen years of married life he died leaving her with a son and two daughters, Marya Dmitrievna had grown so accustomed to her house and to town life that she had no inclination to leave O——.
In her youth Marya Dmitrievna had always been spoken of as a pretty blonde; and at fifty her features had not lost all charm, though they were somewhat coarser and less delicate in outline. She was more sentimental than kindhearted; and even at her mature age, she retained the manners of the boarding-school. She was self-indulgent and easily put out, even moved to tears when she was crossed in any of her habits. She was, however, very sweet and agreeable when all her wishes were carried out and none opposed her. Her house was among the pleasantest in the town. She had a considerable fortune, not so much from her own property as from her husband's savings. Her two daughters were living with her; her son was being educated in one of the best government schools in Petersburg.
The old lady sitting with Marya Dmitrievna at the window was her father's sister, the same aunt with whom she had once spent some solitary years in Pokrovskoe. Her name was Marfa Timofyevna Pestov. She had a reputation for eccentricity as she was a woman of an independent character, told every one the truth to his face, and even in the most straitened circumstances behaved just as if she had a fortune at her disposal. She could not endure Kalitin, and directly her niece married him, she removed to her little property, where for ten whole years she lived in a smoky peasants' hut. Marya Dmitrievna was a little afraid of her. A little sharp-nosed woman with black hair and keen eyes even in her old age, Marfa Timofyevna walked briskly, held herself upright and spoke quickly and clearly in a sharp ringing voice. She always wore a white cap and a white dressing-jacket.
"What's the matter with you?" she asked Marya Dmitrievna suddenly. "What are you sighing about, pray?"
"Nothing," answered the latter. "What exquisite clouds!"
"You feel sorry for them, eh?"
Marya Dmitrievna made no reply.
"Why is it Gedeonovsky does not come?" observed Marfa Timofyevna, moving her knitting needles quickly. (She was knitting a large woolen scarf.) "He would have sighed with you—or at least he'd have had some fib to tell you."
"How hard you always are on him! Sergei Petrovitch is a worthy man."
"Worthy!" repeated the old lady scornfully.
"And how devoted he was to my poor husband!" observed Marya Dmitrievna; "even now he cannot speak of him without emotion."
"And no wonder! It was he who picked him out of the gutter," muttered Marfa Timofyevna, and her knitting needles moved faster than ever.
"He looks so meek and mild," she began again, "with his grey head, but he no sooner opens his mouth than out comes a lie or a slander. And to think of his having the rank of a councillor! To be sure, though, he's only a village priest's son."
"Every one has faults, auntie; that is his weak point, no doubt. Sergei Petrovitch has had no education: of course he does not speak French, still, say what you like, he is an agreeable man."
"Yes, he is always ready to kiss your hands. He does not speak French—that's no great loss. I am not over strong in the French lingo myself. It would be better if he could not speak at all; he would not tell lies then. But here he is—speak of the devil," added Marfa Timofyevna looking into the street. "Here comes your agreeable man striding along. What a lanky creature he is, just like a stork!"
Marya Dmitrievna began to arrange her curls. Marfa Timofyevna looked at her ironically.
"What's that, not a grey hair surely? You must speak to your Palashka, what can she be thinking about?"
"Really, auntie, you are always so..." muttered Marya Dmitrievna in a tone of vexation, drumming on the arm of her chair with her finger-tips.
"Sergei Petrovitch Gedeonovsky!" was announced in a shrill piping voice, by a rosy-cheeked little page who made his appearance at the door.
A tall man entered, wearing a tidy overcoat, rather short trousers, grey doeskin gloves, and two neckties—a black one outside, and a white one below it. There was an air of decorum and propriety in everything about him, from his prosperous countenance and smoothly brushed hair, to his low-heeled, noiseless boots. He bowed first to the lady of the house, then to Marfa Timofyevna, and slowly drawing off his gloves, he advanced to take Marya Dmitrievna's hand. After kissing it respectfully twice he seated himself with deliberation in an arm-chair, and rubbing the very tips of his fingers together, he observed with a smile—
"And is Elisaveta Mihalovna quite well?"
"Yes," replied Marya Dmitrievna, "she's in the garden."
"And Elena Mihalovna?"
"Lenotchka's in the garden too. Is there no news?"
"There is indeed!" replied the visitor, slowly blinking his eyes and pursing up his mouth. "Hm!... yes, indeed, there is a piece of news, and very surprising news too. Lavretsky—Fedor Ivanitch is here."
"Fedya!" cried Marfa Timofyevna. "Are you sure you are not romancing, my good man?"
"No, indeed, I saw him myself."
"Well, that does not prove it."
"Fedor Ivanitch looked much more robust," continued Gedeonovsky, affecting not to have heard Marfa Timofyevna's last remark. "Fedor Ivanitch is broader and has quite a colour."
"He looked more robust," said Marya Dmitrievna, dwelling on each syllable. "I should have thought he had little enough to make him look robust."
"Yes, indeed," observed Gedeonovsky; "any other man in Fedor Ivanitch's position would have hesitated to appear in society."
"Why so, pray?" interposed Marfa Timofyevna. "What nonsense are you talking! The man's come back to his home—where would you have him go? And has he been to blame, I should like to know!"
"The husband is always to blame, madam, I venture to assure you, when a wife misconducts herself."
"You say that, my good sir, because you have never been married yourself." Gedeonovsky listened with a forced smile.
"If I may be so inquisitive," he asked, after a short pause, "for whom is that pretty scarf intended?"
Marfa Timofyevna gave him a sharp look.
"It's intended," she replied, "for a man who does not talk scandal, nor play the hypocrite, nor tell lies, if there's such a man to be found in the world. I know Fedya well; he was only to blame in being too good to his wife. To be sure, he married for love, and no good ever comes of those love-matches," added the old lady, with a sidelong glance at Marya Dmitrievna, as she got up from her place. "And now, my good sir, you may attack any one you like, even me if you choose; I'm going. I will not hinder you." And Marfa Timofyevna walked away.
"That's always how she is," said Marya Dmitrievna, following her aunt with her eyes.
"We must remember your aunt's age...there's no help for it," replied Gedeonovsky. "She spoke of a man not playing the hypocrite. But who is not hypocritical nowadays? It's the age we live in. One of my friends, a most worthy man, and, I assure you, a man of no mean position, used to say, that nowadays the very hens can't pick up a grain of corn without hypocrisy—they always approach it from one side. But when I look at you, dear lady—your character is so truly angelic; let me kiss your little snow-white hand!"
Marya Dmitrievna with a faint smile held out her plump hand to him with the little finger held apart from the rest. He pressed his lips to it, and she drew her chair nearer to him, and bending a little towards him, asked in an undertone—
"So you saw him? Was he really—all right—quite well and cheerful?"
"Yes, he was well and cheerful," replied Gedeonovsky in a whisper.
"You haven't heard where his wife is now?"
"She was lately in Paris; now, they say, she has gone away to Italy."
"It is terrible, indeed—Fedya's position; I wonder how he can bear it. Every one, of course, has trouble; but he, one may say, has been made the talk of all Europe."
"Yes, indeed, yes, indeed. They do say, you know that she associates with artists and musicians, and as the saying is, with strange creatures of all kinds. She has lost all sense of shame completely."
"I am deeply, deeply grieved." said Marya Dmitrievna. "On account of our relationship. You know, Sergei Petrovitch, he's my cousin many times removed."
"Of course, of course. Don't I know everything that concerns your family? I should hope so, indeed."
"Will he come to see us—what do you think?"
"One would suppose so; though, they say, he is intending to go home to his country place."
Mary Dmitrievna lifted her eyes to heaven.
"Ah, Sergei Petrovitch, Sergei Petrovitch, when I think how careful we women ought to be in our conduct!"
"There are women and women, Marya Dmitrievna. There are unhappily such ... of flighty character... and at a certain age too, and then they are not brought up in good principles." (Sergei Petrovitch drew a blue checked handkerchief out of his pocket and began to unfold it.) "There are such women, no doubt." (Sergei Petrovitch applied a corner of the handkerchief first to one and then to the other eye.) "But speaking generally, if one takes into consideration, I mean...the dust in the town is really extraordinary to-day," he wound up.
"Maman, maman," cried a pretty little girl of eleven running into the room, "Vladimir Nikolaitch is coming on horseback!"
Marya Dmitrievna got up; Sergei Petrovitch also rose and made a bow. "Our humble respects to Elena Mihalovna," he said, and turning aside into a corner for good manners, he began blowing his long straight nose.
"What a splendid horse he has!" continued the little girl. "He was at the gate just now, he told Lisa and me he would dismount at the steps."
The sound of hoofs was heard; and a graceful young man, riding a beautiful bay horse, was seen in the street, and stopped at the open window.
"How do you do, Marya Dmitrievna?" cried the young man in a pleasant, ringing voice. "How do you like my new purchase?"
Marya Dmitrievna went up to the window.
"How do you do, Woldemar! Ah, what a splendid horse! Where did you buy it?"
"I bought it from the army contractor.... He made me pay for it too, the brigand!"
"What's its name?"
"Orlando.... But it's a stupid name; I want to change.... Eh bien, eh bien, mon garcon.... What a restless beast it is!" The horse snorted, pawed the ground, and shook the foam off the bit.
"Lenotchka, stroke him, don't be afraid."
The little girl stretched her hand out of the window, but Orlando suddenly reared and started. The rider with perfect self-possession gave it a cut with the whip across the neck, and keeping a tight grip with his legs forced it in spite of its opposition, to stand still again at the window.
"Prenez garde, prenez garde," Marya Dmitrievna kept repeating.
"Lenotchka, pat him," said the young man, "I won't let him be perverse."
The little girl again stretched out her hand and timidly patted the quivering nostrils of the horse, who kept fidgeting and champing the bit.
"Bravo!" cried Marya Dmitrievna, "but now get off and come in to us."
The rider adroitly turned his horse, gave him a touch of the spur, and galloping down the street soon reached the courtyard. A minute later he ran into the drawing-room by the door from the hall, flourishing his whip; at the same moment there appeared in the other doorway a tall, slender dark-haired girl of nineteen, Marya Dmitrievna's eldest daughter, Lisa.
The name of the young man whom we have just introduced to the reader was Vladimir Nikolaitch Panshin. He served in Petersburg on special commissions in the department of internal affairs. He had come to the town of O—— to carry out some temporary government commissions, and was in attendance on the Governor-General Zonnenberg, to whom he happened to be distantly related. Panshin's father, a retired cavalry officer and a notorious gambler, was a man with insinuating eyes, a battered countenance, and a nervous twitch about the mouth. He spent his whole life hanging about the aristocratic world; frequented the English clubs of both capitals, and had the reputation of a smart, not very trustworthy, but jolly good-natured fellow. In spite of his smartness, he was almost always on the brink of ruin, and the property he left his son was small and heavily-encumbered. To make up for that, however, he did exert himself, after his own fashion, over his son's education. Vladimir Nikolaitch spoke French very well, English well, and German badly; that is the proper thing; fashionable people would be ashamed to speak German well; but to utter an occasional—generally a humorous—phrase in German is quite correct, c'est meme tres chic, as the Parisians of Petersburg express themselves. By the time he was fifteen, Vladimir knew how to enter any drawing-room without embarrassment, how to move about in it gracefully and to leave it at the appropriate moment. Panshin's father gained many connections for his son. He never lost an opportunity, while shuffling the cards between two rubbers, or playing a successful trump, of dropping a hint about his Volodka to any personage of importance who was a devotee of cards. And Vladimir, too, during his residence at the university, which he left without a very brilliant degree, formed an acquaintance with several young men of quality, and gained an entry into the best houses. He was received cordially everywhere: he was very good-looking, easy in his manners, amusing, always in good health, and ready for everything; respectful, when he ought to be; insolent, when he dared to be; excellent company, un charmant garcon. The promised land lay before him. Panshin quickly learnt the secret of getting on in the world; he knew how to yield with genuine respect to its decrees; he knew how to take up trifles with half ironical seriousness, and to appear to regard everything serious as trifling; he was a capital dancer; and dressed in the English style. In a short time he gained the reputation of being one of the smartest and most attractive young men in Petersburg.
Panshin was indeed very smart, not less so than his father; but he was also very talented. He did everything well; he sang charmingly, sketched with spirit, wrote verses, and was a very fair actor. He was only twenty-eight, and he was already a kammer-yunker, and had a very good position. Panshin had complete confidence in himself, in his own intelligence, and his own penetration; he made his way with light-hearted assurance, everything went smoothly with him. He was used to being liked by every one, old and young, and imagined that he understood people, especially women: he certainly understood their ordinary weaknesses. As a man of artistic leanings, he was conscious of a capacity for passion, for being carried away, even for enthusiasm, and consequently, he permitted himself various irregularities; he was dissipated, associated with persons not belonging to good society, and, in general, conducted himself in a free and easy manner; but at heart he was cold and false, and at the moment of the most boisterous revelry his sharp brown eye was always alert, taking everything in. This bold, independent young man could never forget himself and be completely carried away. To his credit it must be said, that he never boasted of his conquests. He had found his way into Marya Dmitrievna's house immediately he arrived in O——, and was soon perfectly at home there. Marya Dmitrievna absolutely adored him. Panshin exchanged cordial greetings with every one in the room; he shook hands with Marya Dmitrievna and Lisaveta Mihalovna, clapped Gedeonovsky lightly on the shoulder, and turning round on his heels, put his hand on Lenotchka's head and kissed her on the forehead.
"Aren't you afraid to ride such a vicious horse?" Marya Dmitrievna questioned him.
"I assure you he's very quiet, but I will tell you what I am afraid of: I'm afraid to play preference with Sergei Petrovitch; yesterday he cleaned me out of everything at Madame Byelenitsin's."
Gedeonovsky gave a thin, sympathetic little laugh; he was anxious to be in favour with the brilliant young official from Petersburg—the governor's favourite. In conversation with Marya Dmitrievna, he often alluded to Panshin's remarkable abilities. Indeed, he used to argue, how can one help admiring him? The young man is making his way in the highest spheres, he is an exemplary official, and not a bit of pride about him. And, in fact, even in Petersburg Panshin was reckoned a capable official; he got through a great deal of work; he spoke of it lightly as befits a man of the world who does not attach any special importance to his labours, but he never hesitated in carrying out orders. The authorities like such subordinates; he himself had no doubt, that if he chose, he could be a minister in time.
"You are pleased to say that I cleaned you out," replied Gedeonovsky; "but who was it won twelve roubles of me last week and more?"...
"You're a malicious fellow," Panshin interrupted, with genial but somewhat contemptuous carelessness, and, paying him no further attention, he went up to Lisa.
"I cannot get the overture of Oberon here," he began. "Madame Byelenitsin was boasting when she said she had all the classical music: in reality she has nothing but polkas and waltzes, but I have already written to Moscow, and within a week you will have the overture. By the way," he went on, "I wrote a new song yesterday, the words too are mine, would you care for me to sing it? I don't know how far it is successful. Madame Byelenitsin thought it very pretty, but her words mean nothing. I should like to know what you think of it. But, I think, though, that had better be later on."
"Why later on?" interposed Marya Dmitrievna, "why not now?"
"I obey," replied Panshin, with a peculiar bright and sweet smile, which came and went suddenly on his face. He drew up a chair with his knee, sat down to the piano, and striking a few chords began to sing, articulating the words clearly, the following song—
Above the earth the moon floats high Amid pale clouds; Its magic light in that far sky Yet stirs the floods.
My heart has found a moon to rule Its stormy sea; To joy and sorrow it is moved Only by thee.
My soul is full of love's cruel smart, And longing vain; But thou art calm, as that cold moon, That knows not pain.
The second couplet was sung by Panshin with special power and expression, the sound of waves was heard in the stormy accompaniment. After the words "and longing vain," he sighed softly, dropped his eyes and let his voice gradually die away, morendo. When he had finished, Lisa praised the motive, Marya Dmitrievna cried, "Charming!" but Gedeonovsky went so far as to exclaim, "Ravishing poetry, and music equally ravishing!" Lenotchka looked with childish reverence at the singer. In short, every one present was delighted with the young dilettante's composition; but at the door leading into the drawing-room from the hall stood an old man, who had only just come in, and who, to judge by the expression of his downcast face and the shrug of his shoulders, was by no means pleased with Panshin's song, pretty though it was. After waiting a moment and flicking the dust off his boots with a coarse pocket-handkerchief, this man suddenly raised his eyes, compressed his lips with a morose expression, and his stooping figure bent forward, he entered the drawing-room.
"Ah! Christopher Fedoritch, how are you?" exclaimed Panshin before any of the others could speak, and he jumped up quickly from his seat. "I had no suspicion that you were here—nothing would have induced me to sing my song before you. I know you are no lover of light music."
"I did not hear it," declared the new-comer, in very bad Russian, and exchanging greetings with every one, he stood awkwardly in the middle of the room.
"Have you come, Monsieur Lemm," said Marya Dmitrievna, "to give Lisa her music lesson?"
"No, not Lisaveta Mihalovna, but Elena Mihalovna."
"Oh! very well. Lenotchka, go up-stairs with Mr. Lemm."
The old man was about to follow the little girl, but Panshin stopped him.
"Don't go after the lesson, Christopher Fedoritch," he said. "Lisa Mihalovna and I are going to play a duet of Beethoven's sonata."
The old man muttered some reply, and Panshin continued in German, mispronouncing the words—
"Lisaveta Mihalovna showed me the religious cantata you dedicated to her—a beautiful thing! Pray, do not suppose that I cannot appreciate serious music—quite the contrary: it is tedious sometimes, but then it is very elevating."
The old man crimsoned to his ears, and with a sidelong look at Lisa, he hurriedly went out of the room.
Marya Dmitrievna asked Panshin to sing his song again; but he protested that he did not wish to torture the ears of the musical German, and suggested to Lisa that they should attack Beethoven's sonata. Then Marya Dmitrievna heaved a sigh, and in her turn suggested to Gedeonovsky a walk in the garden. "I should like," she said, "to have a little more talk, and to consult you about our poor Fedya." Gedeonovsky bowed with a smirk, and with two fingers picked up his hat, on the brim of which his gloves had been tidily laid, and went away with Marya Dmitrievna. Panshin and Lisa remained alone in the room; she fetched the sonata, and opened it; both seated themselves at the piano in silence. Overhead were heard the faint sounds of scales, played by the uncertain fingers of Lenotchka.
Christopher Theodor Gottlieb Lemm was born in 1786 in the town of Chemnitz in Saxony. His parents were poor musicians. His father played the French horn, his mother the harp; he himself was practising on three different instruments by the time he was five. At eight years old he was left an orphan, and from his tenth year he began to earn his bread by his art. He led a wandering life for many years, and performed everywhere in restaurants, at fairs, at peasants' weddings, and at balls. At last he got into an orchestra and constantly rising in it, he obtained the position of director. He was rather a poor performer; but he understood music thoroughly. At twenty-eight he migrated into Russia, on the invitation of a great nobleman, who did not care for music himself, but kept an orchestra for show. Lemm lived with him seven years in the capacity of orchestra conductor, and left him empty-handed. The nobleman was ruined, he intended to give him a promissory note, but in the sequel refused him even that—in short, did not pay him a farthing. He was advised to go away; but he was unwilling to return home in poverty from Russia, that great Russia which is a mine of gold for artists; he decided to remain and try his luck. For twenty years the poor German had been trying his luck; he had lived in various gentlemen's houses, had suffered and put up with much, had faced privation, had struggled like a fish on the ice; but the idea of returning to his own country never left him among all the hardships he endured; it was this dream alone that sustained him. But fate did not see fit to grant him this last and first happiness: at fifty, broken-down in health and prematurely aged, he drifted to the town of O——, and remained there for good, having now lost once for all every hope of leaving Russia, which he detested. He gained his poor livelihood somehow by lessons. Lemm's exterior was not prepossessing. He was short and bent, with crooked shoulders, and contracted chest, with large flat feet, and bluish white nails on the gnarled bony fingers of his sinewy red hands. He had a wrinkled face, sunken cheeks, and compressed lips, which he was for ever twitching and biting; and this, together with his habitual taciturnity, produced an impression almost sinister. His grey hair hung in tufts on his low brow; like smouldering embers, his little set eyes glowed with dull fire. He moved painfully, at every step swinging his ungainly body forward. Some of his movements recalled the clumsy actions of an owl in a cage when it feels that it is being looked at, but itself can hardly see out of its great yellow eyes timorously and drowsily blinking. Pitiless, prolonged sorrow had laid its indelible stamp on the poor musician; it had disfigured and deformed his person, by no means attractive to begin with. But any one who was able to get over the first impression would have discerned something good, and honest, and out of the common in this half-shattered creature. A devoted admirer of Bach and Handel, a master of his art, gifted with a lively imagination and that boldness of conception which is only vouchsafed to the German race, Lemm might, in time—who knows?—have taken rank with the great composers of his fatherland, had his life been different; but he was born under an unlucky star! He had written much in his life, and it had not been granted to him to see one of his compositions produced; he did not know how to set about things in the right way, to gain favour in the right place, and to make a push at the right moment. A long, long time ago, his one friend and admirer, also a German and also poor, had published two of Lemm's sonatas at his own expense—the whole edition remained on the shelves of the music-shops; they disappeared without a trace, as though they had been thrown into a river by night. At last Lemm had renounced everything; the years too did their work; his mind had grown hard and stiff, as his fingers had stiffened. He lived alone in a little cottage not far from the Kalitin's house, with an old cook he had taken out of the poorhouse (he had never married). He took long walks, and read the Bible and the Protestant version of the Psalms, and Shakespeare in Schlegel's translation. He had composed nothing for a long time; but apparently, Lisa, his best pupil, had been able to inspire him; he had written for her the cantata to which Panshin had! made allusion. The words of this cantata he had borrowed from his collection of hymns. He had added a few verses of his own. It was sung by two choruses—a chorus of the happy and a chorus of the unhappy. The two were brought into harmony at the end, and sang together, "Merciful God, have pity on us sinners, and deliver us from all evil thoughts and earthly hopes." On the title-page was the inscription, most carefully written and even illuminated, "Only the righteous are justified. A religious cantata. Composed and dedicated to Miss Elisaveta Kalitin, his dear pupil, by her teacher, C. T. G. Lemm." The words, "Only the righteous are justified" and "Elisaveta Kalitin," were encircled by rays. Below was written: "For you alone, fur Sie allein." This was why Lemm had grown red, and looked reproachfully at Lisa; he was deeply wounded when Panshin spoke of his cantata before him.
Panshin, who was playing bass, struck the first chords of the sonata loudly and decisively, but Lisa did not begin her part. He stopped and looked at her. Lisa's eyes were fixed directly on him, and expressed displeasure. There was no smile on her lips, her whole face looked stern and even mournful.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
"Why did you not keep your word?" she said. "I showed you Christopher Fedoritch's cantata on the express condition that you said nothing about it to him?"
"I beg your pardon, Lisaveta Mihalovna, the words slipped out unawares."
"You have hurt his feelings and mine too. Now he will not trust even me."
"How could I help it, Lisaveta Mihalovna? Ever since I was a little boy I could never see a German without wanting to teaze him."
"How can you say that, Vladimir Nikolaitch? This German is poor, lonely, and broken-down—have you no pity for him? Can you wish to teaze him?"
Panshin was a little taken aback.
"You are right, Lisaveta Mihalovna," he declared. "It's my everlasting thoughtlessness that's to blame. No, don't contradict me; I know myself. So much harm has come to me from my want of thought. It's owing to that failing that I am thought to be an egoist."
Panshin paused. With whatever subject he began a conversation, he generally ended by talking of himself, and the subject was changed by him so easily, so smoothly and genially, that it seemed unconscious.
"In your own household, for instance," he went on, "your mother certainly wishes me well, she is so kind; you—well, I don't know your opinion of me; but on the other hand your aunt simply can't bear me. I must have offended her too by some thoughtless, stupid speech. You know I'm not a favourite of hers, am I?"
"No," Lisa admitted with some reluctance, "she doesn't like you."
Panshin ran his fingers quickly over the keys, and a scarcely perceptible smile glided over his lips.
"Well, and you?" he said, "do you too think me an egoist?"
"I know you very little," replied Lisa, "but I don't consider you an egoist; on the contrary, I can't help feeling grateful to you."
"I know, I know what you mean to say," Panshin interrupted, and again he ran his fingers over the keys: "for the music and the books I bring you, for the wretched sketches with which I adorn your album, and so forth. I might do all that—and be an egoist all the same. I venture to think that you don't find me a bore, and don't think me a bad fellow, but still you suppose that I—what's the saying?—would sacrifice friend or father for the sake of a witticism."
"You are careless and forgetful, like all men of the world," observed Lisa, "that is all."
Panshin frowned a little.
"Come," he said, "don't let us discuss me any more; let us play our sonata. There's only one thing I must beg of you," he added, smoothing out the leaves of the book on the music stand, "think what you like of me, call me an egoist even—so be it! but don't call me a man of the world; that name's insufferable to me.... Anch 'io sono pittore. I too am an artist, though a poor one—and that—I mean that I'm a poor artist, I shall show directly. Let us begin."
"Very well, let us begin," said Lisa.
The first adagio went fairly successfully though Panshin made more than one false note. His own compositions and what he had practised thoroughly he played very nicely, but he played at sight badly. So the second part of the sonata—a rather quick allegro—broke down completely; at the twentieth bar, Panshin, who was two bars behind, gave in, and pushed his chair back with a laugh.
"No!" he cried, "I can't play to-day; it's a good thing Lemm did not hear us; he would have had a fit."
Lisa got up, shut the piano, and turned round to Panshin.
"What are we going to do?" she asked.
"That's just like you, that question! You can never sit with your hands idle. Well, if you like let us sketch, since it's not quite dark. Perhaps the other muse, the muse of painting—what was her name? I have forgotten... will be more propitious to me. Where's your album? I remember, my landscape there is not finished."
Lisa went into the other room to fetch the album, and Panshin, left alone, drew a cambric handkerchief out of his pocket, and rubbed his nails and looked as it were critically at his hands. He had beautiful white hands; on the second finger of his left hand he wore a spiral gold ring. Lisa came back; Panshin sat down at the window, and opened the album.
"Ah!" he exclaimed: "I see that you have begun to copy my landscape—and capitally too. Excellent! only just here—give me a pencil—the shadows are not put in strongly enough. Look."
And Panshin with a flourish added a few long strokes. He was for ever drawing the same landscape: in the foreground large disheveled trees, a stretch of meadow in the background, and jagged mountains on the horizon. Lisa looked over his shoulders at his work.
"In drawing, just as in life generally," observed Panshin, holding his head to right and to left, "lightness and boldness—are the great things."
At that instant Lemm came into the room, and with a stiff bow was about to leave it; but Panshin, throwing aside album and pencils, placed himself in his way.
"Where are you doing, dear Christopher Fedoritch? Aren't you going to stay and have tea with us?"
"I go home," answered Lemm in a surly voice; "my head aches."
"Oh, what nonsense!—do stop. We'll have an argument about Shakespeare."
"My head aches," repeated the old man.
"We set to work on the sonata of Beethoven without you," continued Panshin, taking hold of him affectionately and smiling brightly, "but we couldn't get on at all. Fancy, I couldn't play two notes together correctly."
"You'd better have sung your song again," replied Lemm, removing Panshin's hands, and he walked away.
Lisa ran after him. She overtook him on the stairs.
"Christopher Fedoritch, I want to tell you," she said to him in German, accompanying him over the short green grass of the yard to the gate, "I did wrong—forgive me."
Lemm made no answer.
"I showed Vladimir Nikolaitch your cantata; I felt sure he would appreciate it,—and he did like it very much really."
"It's no matter," he said in Russian, and then added in his own language, "but he cannot understand anything; how is it you don't see that? He's a dilettante—and that's all!"
"You are unjust to him," replied Lisa, "he understands everything, and he can do almost everything himself."
"Yes, everything second-rate, cheap, scamped work. That pleases, and he pleases, and he is glad it is so—and so much the better. I'm not angry; the cantata and I—we are a pair of old fools; I'm a little ashamed, but it's no matter."
"Forgive me, Christopher Fedoritch," Lisa said again.
"It's no matter," he repeated in Russian, "you're a good girl... but here is some one coming to see you. Goodbye. You are a very good girl."
And Lemm moved with hastened steps towards the gate, through which had entered some gentleman unknown to him in a grey coat and a wide straw hat. Bowing politely to him (he always saluted all new faces in the town of O——-; from acquaintances he always turned aside in the street—that was the rule he had laid down for himself), Lemm passed by and disappeared behind the fence. The stranger looked after him in amazement, and after gazing attentively at Lisa, went straight up to her.
"You don't recognise me," he said, taking off his hat, "but I recognise you in spite of its being seven years since I saw you last. You were a child then. I am Lavretsky. Is your mother at home? Can I see her?"
"Mamma will be glad to see you," replied Lisa; "she had heard of your arrival."
"Let me see, I think your name is Elisaveta?" said Lavretsky, as he went up the stairs.
"I remember you very well; you had even then a face one doesn't forget. I used to bring you sweets in those days."
Lisa blushed and thought what a queer man. Lavretsky stopped for an instant in the hall. Lisa went into the drawing-room, where Panshin's voice and laugh could be heard; he had been communicating some gossip of the town to Marya Dmitrievna, and Gedeonovksy, who by this time had come in from the garden, and he was himself laughing aloud at the story he was telling. At the name of Lavretsky, Marya Dmitrievna was all in a flutter. She turned pale and went up to meet him.
"How do you do, how do you do, my dear cousin?" she cried in a plaintive and almost tearful voice, "how glad I am to see you!"
"How are you, cousin?" replied Lavretsky, with a friendly pressure of her out-stretched hand; "how has Providence been treating you?"
"Sit down, sit down, my dear Fedor Ivanitch. Ah, how glad I am! But let me present my daughter Lisa to you."
"I have already introduced myself to Lisaveta Mihalovna," interposed Lavretsky.
"Monsier Panshin... Sergei Petrovitch Gedeonovsky... Please sit down. When I look at you, I can hardly believe my eyes. How are you?"
"As you see, I'm flourishing. And you, too, cousin—no ill-luck to you!—have grown no thinner in eight years."
"To think how long it is since we met!" observed Marya Dmitrievna dreamily. "Where have you come from now? Where did you leave... that is, I meant to say," she put in hastily, "I meant to say, are you going to be with us for long?"
"I have come now from Berlin," replied Lavretsky, "and to-morrow I shall go into the country—probably for a long time."
"You will live at Lavriky, I suppose?"
"No, not at Lavriky; I have a little place twenty miles from here: I am going there."
"Is that the little estate that came to you from Glafira Petrovna?"
"Really, Fedor Ivanitch! You have such a magnificent house at Lavriky."
Lavretsky knitted his brows a little.
"Yes... but there's a small lodge in this little property, and I need nothing more for a time. That place is the most convenient for me now."
Marya Dmitrievna was again thrown into such a state of agitation that she became quite stiff, and her hands hung lifeless by her sides. Panshin came to her support by entering into conversation with Lavretsky. Marya Dmitrievna regained her composure, she leaned back in her arm-chair and now and then put in a word. But she looked all the while with such sympathy at her guest, sighed so significantly, and shook her head so dejectedly, that the latter at last lost patience and asked her rather sharply if she was unwell.
"Thank God, no," replied Marya Dmitrievna; "why do you ask?"
"Oh, I fancied you didn't seem to be quite yourself."
Marya Dmitrievna assumed a dignified and somewhat offended air. "If that's how the land lies," she thought, "it's absolutely no matter to me; I see, my good fellow, it's all like water on a duck's back for you; any other man would have wasted away with grief, but you've grown fat on it." Marya Dmitrievna did not mince matters in her own mind; she expressed herself with more elegance aloud.
Lavretsky certainly did not look like the victim of fate. His rosy-cheeked typical Russian face, with its large white brow, rather thick nose, and wide straight lips seemed breathing with the wild health of the steppes, with vigorous primaeval energy. He was splendidly well-built, and his fair curly hair stood up on his head like a boy's. It was only in his blue eyes, with their overhanging brows and somewhat fixed look, that one could trace an expression, not exactly of melancholy, nor exactly of weariness, and his voice had almost too measured a cadence.
Panshin meanwhile continued to keep up the conversation. He turned it upon the profits of sugar-boiling, on which he had lately read two French pamphlets, and with modest composure undertook to expound their contents, without mentioning, however, a single word about the source of his information.
"Good God, it is Fedya!" came through the half-opened door the voice of Marfa Timofyevna in the next room. "Fedya himself!" and the old woman ran hurriedly into the room. Lavretsky had not time to get up from his seat before she had him in her arms. "Let me have a look at you," she said, holding his face off at arm's length. "Ah! what a splendid fellow you are! You've grown older a little, but not a bit changed for the worse, upon my word! But why are you kissing my hands—kiss my face if you're not afraid of my wrinkled cheeks. You never asked after me—whether your aunt was alive—I warrant: and you were in my arms as soon as you were born, you great rascal! Well, that is nothing to you, I suppose; why should you remember me? But it was a good idea of yours to come back. And pray," she added, turning to Marya Dmitrievna, "have you offered him something to eat?"
"I don't want anything," Lavretsky hastened to declare.
"Come, you must at least have some tea, my dear. Lord have mercy on us! He has come from I don't know where, and they don't even give him a cup of tea! Lisa, run and stir them up, and make haste. I remember he was dreadfully greedy when he was a little fellow, and he likes good things now, I daresay."
"My respects, Marfa Timofyevna," said Panshin, approaching the delighted old lady from one side with a low bow.
"Pardon me, sir," replied Marfa Timofyevna, "for not observing you in my delight. You have grown like your mother, the poor darling," she went on turning again to Lavretsky, "but your nose was always your father's, and your father's it has remained. Well, and are you going to be with us for long?"
"I am going to-morrow, aunt."
"Home to Vassilyevskoe."
"Well, if to-morrow it must be. God bless you—you know best. Only mind you come and say good-bye to me." The old woman patted his cheek. "I did not think I should be here to see you; not that I have made up my mind to die yet a while—I shall last another ten years, I daresay: all we Pestovs live long; your late grandfather used to say we had two lives; but you see there was no telling how much longer you were going to dangle about abroad. Well, you're a fine lad, a fine lad; can you lift twenty stone with one hand as you used to do, eh? Your late pap was fantastical in some things, if I may say so; but he did well in having that Swiss to bring you up; do you remember you used to fight with your fists with him?—gymnastics, wasn't it they called it? But there, why I am gabbling away like this; I have only been hindering Mr. PanSHIN (she never pronounced his name PANshin as was correct) from holding forth. Besides, we'd better go and have tea; yes, let's go on to the terrace, my boy, and drink it there; we have some real cream, not like what you get in your Londons and Parises. Come along, come along, and you, Fedusha, give me your arm. Oh! but what an arm it is! Upon my word, no fear of my stumbling with you!"
Every one got up and went out on to the terrace, except Gedeonovsky, who quietly took his departure. During the whole of Lavretsky's conversation with Marya Dmitrievna, Panshin, and Marfa Timofyevna, he sat in a corner, blinking attentively, with an open mouth of childish curiosity; now he was in haste to spread the news of the new arrival through the town.
At eleven o'clock on the evening of the same day, this is what was happening in Madame Kalitin's house. Downstairs, Vladimir Nikolaitch, seizing a favourable moment, was taking leave of Lisa at the drawing-room door, and saying to her, as he held her hand, "You know who it is draws me here; you know why I am constantly coming to your house; what need of words when all is clear as it is?" Lisa did not speak, and looked on the ground, without smiling, with her brows slightly contracted, and a flush on her cheek, but she did not draw away her hands. While up-stairs, in Marfa Timofyevna's room, by the light of a little lamp hanging before the tarnished old holy images, Lavretsky was sitting in a low chair, his elbows on his knees and his face buried in his hands; the old woamn, standing before him, now and then silently stroked his hair. He spent more than an hour with her, after taking leave of his hostess; he had scarcely said anything to his kind old friend, and she did not question him.... Indeed, what need to speak, what was there to ask? Without that she understood all, and felt for everything of which his heart was full.
Fedor Ivanitch Lavretsky—we must ask the reader's permission to break off the thread of our story for a time—came of an old noble family. The founder of the house of Lavretskky came over from Prussia in the reign of Vassili the Blind, and received a grant of two hundred chetverts of land in Byezhetsk. Many of his descendants filled various offices, and served under princes and persons of eminence in outlying districts, but not one of them rose above the rank of an inspector of the Imperial table nor acquired any considerable fortune. The richest and most distinguished of all the Lavretskys was Fedor Ivanitch's great-grandfather, Andrei, a man cruel and daring, cunning and able. Even to this day stories still linger of his tyranny, his savage temper, his reckless munificence, and his insatiable avarice. He was very stout and tall, swarthy of countenance and beardless, he spoke in a thick voice and seemed half asleep; but the more quietly he spoke the more those about him trembled. He had managed to get a wife who was a fit match for him. She was a gipsy by birth, goggle-eyed and hook-nosed, with a round yellow face. She was irascible and vindictive, and never gave way in anything to her husband, who almost killed her, and whose death she did not survive, though she had been for ever quarrelling with him. The son of Andrei, Piotr, Fedor's grandfather, did not take after his father; he was a typical landowner of the steppes, rather a simpleton, loud-voiced, but slow to move, coarse but not ill-natured, hospitable and very fond of coursing with dogs. He was over thirty when he inherited from his father a property of two thousand serfs in capital condition; but he had soon dissipated it, and had partly mortgaged his estate, and demoralised his servants. All sorts of people of low position, known and unknown, came crawling like cockroaches from all parts into his spacious, warm, ill-kept halls. All this mass of people ate what they could get, but always had their fill, drank till they were drunk, and carried off what they could, praising and blessing their genial host; and their host too when he was out humour blessed his guests—for a pack of sponging toadies, but he was bored when he was without them. Piotr Andreitch's wife was a meek-spirited creature; he had taken her from a neighbouring family by his father's choice and command; her name was Anna Pavlovna. She never interfered in anything, welcomed guests cordially, and readily paid visits herself, though being powdered, she used to declare, would be the death of her. "They put," she used to say in her old age, "a fox's brush on your head, comb all the hair up over it, smear it with grease, and dust it over with flour, and stick it up with iron pins,—there's no washing it off afterwards; but to pay visits without powder was quite impossible—people would be offended. Ah, it was a torture!"
She liked being driven with fast-trotting horses, and was ready to play cards from morning till evening, and would always keep the score of the pennies she had lost or won hidden under her hand when her husband came near the card-table; but all her dowry, her whole fortune, she had put absolutely at his disposal. She bore him two children, a son Ivan, the father of Fedor, and a daughter Glafira. Ivan was not brought up at home, but lived with a rich old maiden aunt, the Princess Kubensky; she had fixed on him for her heir (but for that his father would not have let him go). She dressed him up like a doll, engaged all kinds of teachers for him, and put him in charge of a tutor, a Frenchman, who had been an abbe, a pupil of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a certain M. Courtin de Vaucelles, a subtle and wily intriguer—the very, as she expressed it, fine fleur of emigration—and finished at almost seventy years old by marrying this "fine fleur," and making over all her property to him. Soon afterwards, covered with rouge, and redolent of perfume a la Richelieu, surrounded by negro boys, delicate-shaped greyhounds and shrieking parrots, she died on a crooked silken divan of the time of Louis XV., with an enamelled snuff-box of Petitot's workmanship in her hand—and died, deserted by her husband; the insinuating M. Courtin had preferred to remove to Paris with her money. Ivan had only reached his twentieth year when this unexpected blow (we mean the princess's marriage, not her death) fell upon him; he did not care to stay in his aunt's house, where he found himself suddenly transformed from a wealthy heir to a poor relation; the society in Petersburg in which he had grown up was closed to him; he felt an aversion for entering the government service in the lower grades, with nothing but hard work and obscurity before him,—this was at the very beginning of the reign of the Emperor Alexander. He was obliged reluctantly to return to the country to his father. How squalid, poor, and wretched his parents' home seemed to him! The stagnation and sordidness of life in the country offended him at every step. He was consumed with ennui. Moreover, every one in the house, except his mother, looked at him with unfriendly eyes. His father did not like his town manners, his swallow-tail coats, his frilled shirt-fronts, his books, his flute, his fastidious ways, in which he detected—not incorrectly—a disgust for his surroundings; he was for ever complaining and grumbling at his son. "Nothing here," he used to say, "is to his taste; at table he is all in a fret, and doesn't eat; he can't bear the heat and close smell of the room; the sight of folks drunk upsets him, one daren't beat any one before him; he doesn't want to go into the government service; he's weakly, as you see, in health; fie upon him, the milksop! And all this because he's got his head full of Voltaire." The old man had a special dislike to Voltaire, and the "fanatic" Diderot, though he had not read a word of their words; reading was not in his line. Piotr Andreitch was not mistaken; his son's head for that matter was indeed full of both Diderot and Voltaire, and not only of them alone, of Rousseau too, and Helvetius, and many other writers of the same kind—but they were in his head only. The retired abbe and encyclopedist who had been Ivan Petrovitch's tutor had taken pleasure in pouring all the wisdom of the eighteenth century into his pupil, and he was simply brimming over with it; it was there in him, but without mixing in his blood, nor penetrating to his soul, nor shaping itself in any firm convictions.... But, indeed, could one expect convictions from a young man of fifty years ago, when even at the present day we have not succeeded in attaining them? The guests, too, who frequented his father's house, were oppressed by Ivan Petrovitch's presence; he regarded them with loathing, they were afraid of him; and with his sister Glafira, who was twelve years older than he, he could not get on at all. This Glafira was a strange creature; she was ugly, crooked, and spare, with severe, wide-open eyes, and thin compressed lips. In her face, her voice, and her quick angular movements, she took after her grandmother, the gipsy, Andrei's wife. Obstinate and fond of power, she would not even hear of marriage. The return of Ivan Petrovitch did not fit in with her plans; while the Princess Kubensky kept him with her, she had hoped to receive at least half of her father's estate; in her avarice, too, she was like her grandmother. Besides, Glafira envied her brother, he was so well educated, spoke such good French with a Parisian accent, while she was scarcely able to pronounce "bon jour" or "comment vous portez-vous." To be sure, her parents did not know any French, but that was no comfort to her. Ivan Petrovitch did not know what to do with himself for wretchedness and ennui; he had spent hardly a year in the country, but that year seemed to him as long as ten. The only consolation he could find was in talking to his mother, and he would sit for whole hours in her low-pitched rooms, listening to the good woman's simple-hearted prattle, and eating preserves. It so happened that among Anna Pavlovna's maids there was one very pretty girl with clear soft eyes and refined features, Malanya by name, an modest intelligent creature. She took his fancy at first sight, and he fell in love with her: he fell in love with her timid movements, her bashful answers, her gentle voice and gentle smile; every day she seemed sweeter to him. And she became devoted to Ivan Petrovitch with all the strength of her soul, as none but Russian girls can be devoted—and she gave herself to him. In the large household of a country squire nothing can long be kept a secret; soon every one knew of the love between the young master and Malanya; the gossip even reached the ears of Piotr Andreitch himself. Under other circumstances, he would probably have paid no attention to a matter of so little importance, but he had long had a grudge against his son, and was delighted at an opportunity of humiliating the town-bred wit and dandy. A storm of fuss and clamour was raised; Malanya was locked up in the pantry, Ivan Petrovitch was summoned into his father's presence. Anna Pavlovna too ran up at the hubbub. She began trying to pacify her husband, but Piotr Andreitch would hear nothing. He pounced down like a hawk on his son, reproached him with immorality, with godlessness, with hypocrisy; he took the opportunity to vent on him all the wrath against the Princess Kubensky that had been simmering within him, and lavished abusive epithets upon him. At first Ivan Petrovitch was silent and held himself in, but when his father thought to fit to threaten him with a shameful punishment he could endure it no longer. "Ah," he thought, "the fanatic Diderot is brought out again, then I will take the bull by the horns, I will astonish you all." And thereupon with a calm and even voice, though quaking inwardly in every limb, Ivan Petrovitch declared to his father, that there was no need to reproach him with immorality; that though he did not intend to justify his fault he was ready to make amends for it, the more willingly as he felt himself to be superior to every kind of prejudice—and in fact—was ready to marry Malanya. In uttering these words Ivan Petrovitch did undoubtedly attain his object; he so astonished Piotr Andreitch that the latter stood open-eyed, and was struck dumb for a moment; but instantly he came to himself, and just as he was, in a dressing-gown bordered with squirrel fur and slippers on his bare feet, he flew at Ivan Petrovitch with his fists. The latter, as though by design, had that morning arranged his locks a la Titus, and put on a new English coat of a blue colour, high boots with little tassels and very tight modish buckskin breeches. Anna Pavlovna shrieked with all her might and covered her face with her hands; but her son ran over the whole house, dashed out into the courtyard, rushed into the kitchen-garden, into the pleasure-grounds, and flew across into the road, and kept running without looking round till at last he ceased to hear the heavy tramp of his father's steps behind him and his shouts, jerked out with effort, "Stop you scoundrel!" he cried, "stop! or I will curse you!" Ivan Petrovitch took refuge with a neighbour, a small landowner, and Piotr Andreitch returned home worn out and perspiring, and without taking breath, announced that he should deprive his son of his blessing and inheritance, gave orders that all his foolish books should be burnt, and that the girl Malanya should be sent to a distant village without loss of time. Some kind-hearted people found out Ivan Petrovitch and let him know everything. Humiliated and driven to fury, he vowed he would be revenged on his father, and the same night lay in wait for the peasant's cart in which Malanya was being driven away, carried her off by force, galloped off to the nearest town with her and married her. He was supplied with money by the neighbour, a good-natured retired marine officer, a confirmed tippler, who took an intense delight in every kind of—as he expressed it—romantic story.
The next day Ivan Petrovitch wrote an ironically cold and polite letter to Piotr Andreitch, and set off to the village where lived his second cousin, Dmitri Pestov, with his sister, already known to the reader, Marfa Timofyevna. He told them all, announced his intention to go to Petersburg to try to obtain a post there, and besought them, at least for a time, to give his wife a home. At the word "wife" he shed tears, and in spite of his city breeding and philosophy he bowed himself in humble, supplicating Russian fashion at his relations' feet, and even touched the ground with his forehead. The Pestovs, kind-hearted and compassionate people, readily agreed to his request. He stayed with them for three weeks, secretly expecting a reply from his father; but no reply came—and there was no chance of a reply coming.
Piotr Andreitch, on hearing of his son's marriage, took to his bed, and forbade Ivan Petrovitch's name to be mentioned before him; but his mother, without her husband's knowledge, borrowed from the rector, and sent 500 roubles and a little image to his wife. She was afraid to write, but sent a message to Ivan Petrovitch by a lean peasant, who could walk fifty miles a day, that he was not to take it too much to heart; that, please God, all would be arranged, and his father's wrath would be turned to kindness; that she too would have preferred a different daughter-in-law, but that she sent Malanya Sergyevna her motherly blessing. The lean peasant received a rouble, asked permission to see the new young mistress, to whom he happened to be godfather, kissed her hand and ran off at his best speed.
And Ivan Petrovitch set off to Petersburg with a light heart. An unknown future awaited him; poverty perhaps menaced him, but he had broken away from the country life he detested, and above all, he had not been false to his teachers, he had actually put into practice the doctrines of Rousseau, Diderot, and la Declaration des droits de l'homme. A sense of having done his duty, of triumph, and of pride filled his soul; and indeed the separation from his wife did not greatly afflict him; he would have been more perturbed by the necessity of being constantly with her. That deed was done, now he wanted to set about doing something fresh. In Petersburg, contrary to his own expectations, he met with success; the Princess Kubensky, whom Monsieur Courtin had by that time deserted, but who was still living, in order to make up in some way to her nephew for having wronged him, gave him introductions to all her friends, and presented him with 5000 roubles—almost all that remained of her money—and a Lepkovsky watch with his monogram encircled by Cupids.
Three months had not passed before he obtained a position in a Russian embassy to London, and in the first English vessel that sailed (steamers were not even talked of then) he crossed the sea. A few months later he received a letter from Pestov. The good-natured landowner congratulated Ivan Petrovitch on the birth of a son, who had been born into the world in the village of Pokrovskoe on the 20th of August, 1807, and named Fedor, in honour of the holy martyr Fedor Stratilat. On account of her extreme weakness Malanya Sergyevna added only a few lines; but those few lines were a surprise, for Ivan Petrovitch had not known that Marfa Timofyevna had taught his wife to read and write. Ivan Petrovitch did not long abandon himself to the sweet emotion of parental feeling; he was dancing attendance on a notorious Phryne or Lais of the day (classical names were still in vogue at that date); the Peace of Tilsit had only just been concluded and all the world was hurrying after pleasure, in a giddy whirl of dissipation, and his head had been turned by the black eyes of a bold beauty. He had very little money, but he was lucky at cards, made many acquaintances, took part in all entertainments, in a word, he was in the swim.
For a long time the old Lavretsky could not forgive his son for his marriage. If six months later Ivan Petrovitch had come to him with a penitent face and had thrown himself at his feet, he would, very likely, have pardoned him, after giving him a pretty severe scolding, and a tap with his stick by way of intimidating him, but Ivan Petrovitch went on living abroad and apparently did not care a straw. "Be silent! I dare you to speak of it," Piotr Andreitch said to his wife every time she ventured to try to incline him to mercy. "The puppy, he ought to thank God for ever that I have not laid my curse upon him; my father would have killed him, the worthless scamp, with his own hands, and he would have done right too." At such terrible speeches Anna Pavlovna could only cross herself secretly. As for Ivan Petrovitch's wife, Piotr Andreitch at first would not even hear her name, and in answer to a letter of Pestov's, in which he mentioned his daughter-in-law, he went so far as to send him word that he knew nothing of any daughter-in-law, and that it was forbidden by law to harbour run-away wenches, a fact which he thought it his duty to remind him of. But later on, he was softened by hearing of the birth of a grandson, and he gave orders secretly that inquiries should be made about the health of the mother, and sent her a little money, also as though it did not come from him. Fedya was not a year old before Anna Pavlovna fell ill with a fatal complaint. A few days before her end, when she could no longer leave her bed, with timid tears in her eyes, fast growing dim, she informed her husband in the presence of the priest that she wanted to see her daughter-in-law and bid her farewell, and to give her grand-child her blessing. The heart-broken old man soothed her, and at once sent off his own carriage for his daughter-in-law, for the first time giving her the title of Malanya Sergyevna. Malanya came with her son and Marfa Timofyevna, who would not on any consideration allow her to go alone, and was unwilling to expose her to any indignity. Half dead with fright, Malanya Sergyevna went into Piotr Andreitch's room. A nurse followed, carrying Fedya. Piotr Andreitch looked at her without speaking; she went up to kiss his hand; her trembling lips were only just able to touch it with a silent kiss.
"Well, my upstart lady," he brought out at last, "how do you do? let us go to the mistress."
He got up and bent over Fedya: the baby smiled and held out his little white hands to him. This changed the old man's mood.
"Ah," he said, "poor little one, you were pleading for your father; I will not abandon you, little bird."
Directly Malanya Sergyevna entered Anna Pavlovna's bedroom, she fell on her knees near the door. Anna Pavlovna beckoned her to come to her bedside, embraced her, and blessed her son; then turning a face contorted by cruel suffering to her husband she made an effort to speak.
"I know, I know, what you want to ask," said Piotr Andreitch; "don't fret yourself, she shall stay with us, and I will forgive Vanka for her sake."
With an effort Anna Pavlovna took her husband's hand and pressed it to her lips. The same evening she breathed her last.
Piotr Andreitch kept his word. He informed his son that for the sake of his mother's dying hours, and for the sake of the little Fedor, he sent him his blessing and was keeping Malanya Sergyevna in his house. Two rooms on the ground floor were devoted to her; he presented her to his most honoured guests, the one-eyed brigadier Skurchin, and his wife, and bestowed on her two waiting-maids and a page for errands. Marfa Timofyevna took leave of her; she detested Glafira, and in the course of one day had fallen out with her three times.
It was a painful and embarrassing position at first for poor Malanya, but, after a while, she learnt to bear it, and grew used to her father-in-law. He, too, grew accustomed to her, and even fond of her, though he scarcely ever spoke to her, and a certain involuntary contempt was perceptible even in his signs of affection to her. Malanya Sergyevna had most to put up with from her sister-in-law. Even during her mother's lifetime, Glafira had succeeded by degrees in getting the whole household into her hands; every one from her father downwards, submitted to her rule; not a piece of sugar was given out without her sanction; she would rather have died than shared her authority with another mistress—and with such a mistress! Her brother's marriage had incensed her even more than Piotr Andreitch; she set herself to give the upstart a lesson, and Malanya Sergyevna from the very first hour was her slave. And, indeed, how was she to contend against the masterful, haughty Glafira, submissive, constantly bewildered, timid, and weak in health as she was? Not a day passed without Glafira reminding her of her former position, and commending her for not forgetting herself. Malanya Sergyevna could have reconciled herself readily to these reminiscences and commendations, however they might be—but Fedya was taken away from her, that was what crushed her. On the pretext that she was not capable of undertaking his education, she was scarcely allowed to see him; Glafira set herself to that task; the child was put absolutely under her control. Malanya Sergyevna began, in her distress, to beseech Ivan Petrovitch, in her letters, to return home soon. Piotr Andreitch himself wanted to see his son, but Ivan Petrovitch did nothing but write. He thanked his father on his wife's account, and for the money sent him, promised to return quickly—and did not come. The year 1812 at last summoned him home from abroad. When they met again, after six years' absence, the father embraced his son, and not by a single word made allusion to their former differences; it was not a time for that now, all Russia was rising up against the enemy, and both of them felt that they had Russian blood in their veins. Piotr Andreitch equipped a whole regiment of volunteers at his own expense. But the war came to an end, the danger was over; Ivan Petrovitch began to be bored again, and again he felt drawn away to the distance, to the world in which he had grown up, and where he felt himself at home. Malanya Sergyevna could not keep him; she meant too little to him. Even her fondest hopes came to nothing; her husband considered that it was much more suitable to intrust Fedya's education to Glafira. Ivan Petrovitch's poor wife could not bear this blow, she could not bear a second separation; in a few days, without a murmur, she quietly passed away. All her life she had never been able to oppose anything, and she did not struggle against her illness. When she could no longer speak, when the shadows of death were already on her face, her features expressed, as of old, bewildered resignation and constant, uncomplaining meekness; with the same dumb submissiveness she looked at Glafira, and just as Anna Pavlovna kissed her husband's hand on her deathbed, she kissed Glafira's, commending to her, to Glafira, her only son. So ended the earthly existence of this good and gentle creature, torn, God knows why, like an uprooted tree from its natural soil and at once thrown down with its roots in the air; she had faded and passed away leaving no trace, and no one mourned for her. Malanya Sergyevna's maids pitied her, and so did even Piotr Andreitch. The old man missed her silent presence. "Forgive me... farewell, my meek one!" he whispered, as he took leave of her the last time in church. He wept as he threw a handful of earth in the grave.
He did not survive her long, not more than five years. In the winter of the year 1819, he died peacefully in Moscow, where he had moved with Glafira and his grandson, and left instructions that he should be buried beside Anna Pavlovna and "Malasha." Ivan Petrovitch was then in Paris amusing himself; he had retired from service soon after 1815. When he heard of his father's death he decided to return to Russia. It was necessary to make arrangements for the management of the property. Fedya, according to Glafira's letter, had reached his twelfth year, and the time had come to set about his education in earnest.
Ivan Petrovitch returned to Russia an Anglomaniac. His short-cropped hair, his starched shirt-front, his long-skirted pea-green overcoat with its multitude of capes, the sour expression of his face, something abrupt and at the same time indifferent in his behaviour, his way of speaking through his teeth, his sudden wooden laugh, the absence of smiles, his exclusively political or politic-economical conversation, his passion for roast beef and port wine—everything about him breathed, so to speak, of Great Britain. But, marvelous to relate, while he had been transformed into an Anglomaniac, Ivan Petrovitch had at the same time become a patriot, at least he called himself a patriot, though he knew Russia little, had not retained a single Russian habit, and expressed himself in Russian rather queerly; in ordinary conversation, his language was spiritless and inanimate and constantly interspersed with Gallicisms.
Ivan Petrovitch brought with him a few schemes in manuscript, relating to the administration and reform of the government; he was much displeased with everything he saw; the lack of system especially aroused his spleen. On his meeting with his sister, at the first word he announced to her that he was determined to introduce radical reforms, that henceforth everything to do with him would be on a different system. Glafira Petrovna made no reply to Ivan Petrovitch; she only ground her teeth and thought: "Where am I to take refuge?" After she was back in the country, however, with her brother and nephew, her fears were soon set at rest. In the house, certainly, some changes were made; idlers and dependants met with summary dismissal; among them two old women were made to suffer, one blind, another broken down by paralysis; and also a decrepit major of the days of Catherine, who, on account of his really abnormal appetite, was fed on nothing but black bread and lentils. The order went forth not to admit the guests of former days; they were replaced by a distant neighbour, a certain fair-haired, scrofulous baron, a very well educated and very stupid man. New furniture was brought from Moscow; spittoons were introduced, and bells and washing-stands; and breakfast began to be served in a different way; foreign wines replaced vodka and syrups; the servants were put into new livery; a motto was added to the family arms: in recto virtus... In reality, Glafira's power suffered no diminution; the giving out and buying of stores still depended on her. The Alsatian steward, brought from abroad, tried to fight it out with her and lost his place, in spite of the master's protection. As for the management of the house, and the administration of the estate, Glafira Petrovna had undertaken these duties also; in spite of Ivan Petrovitch's intention,—more than once expressed—to breathe new life into this chaos, everything remained as before; only the rent was in some places raised, the mistress was more strict, and the peasants were forbidden to apply direct to Ivan Petrovitch. The patriot had already a great contempt for his fellow-countrymen. Ivan Petrovitch's system was applied in its full force only to Fedya; his education really underwent a "radical reformation;" his father devoted himself exclusively to it.
Until Ivan Petrovitch's return from abroad, Fedya was, as already related, in the hands of Glafira Petrovna. He was not eight years old when his mother died; he did not see her every day, and loved her passionately; the memory of her, of her pale and gentle face, of her dejected looks and timid caresses, was imprinted on his heart for ever; but he vaguely understood her position in the house; he felt that between him and her there existed a barrier which she dared not and could not break down. He was shy of his father, and, indeed, Ivan Petrovitch on his side never caressed him; his grandfather sometimes patted him on the head and gave him his hand to kiss, but he thought him and called him a little fool. After the death of Malanya Sergyevna, his aunt finally got him under her control. Fedya was afraid of her: he was afraid of her bright sharp eyes and her harsh voice; he dared not utter a sound in her presence; often, when he only moved a little in his chair, she would! hiss out at once: "What are you doing? sit still." On Sundays, after mass, he was allowed to play, that is to say, he was given a thick book, a mysterious book, the work of a certain Maimovitch-Ambodik, entitled "Symbols and Emblems." This book was a medley of about a thousand mostly very enigmatical pictures, and as many enigmatical interpretations of them in five languages. Cupid—naked and very puffy in the body—played a leading part in these illustrations. In one of them, under the heading, "Saffron and the Rainbow," the interpretation appended was: "Of this, the influence is vast;" opposite another, entitled "A heron, flying with a violet in his beak," stood the inscription: "To thee they are all known." "Cupid and the bear licking his fur" was inscribed, "Little by little." Fedya used to ponder over these pictures; he knew them all to the minutest details; some of them, always the same ones, used to set him dreaming, and afforded him food for meditation; he! knew no other amusements. When the time came to teach him languages and music, Glafira Petrovna engaged, for next to nothing, an old maid, a Swede, with eyes like a hare's, who spoke French and German with mistakes in every alternate word, played after a fashion on the piano, and above all, salted cucumbers to a perfection. In the society of this governess, his aunt, and the old servant maid, Vassilyevna, Fedya spent four whole years. Often he would sit in the corner with his "Emblems"; he sat there endlessly; there was a scent of geranium in the low pitched room, the solitary candle burnt dim, the cricket chirped monotonously, as though it were weary, the little clock ticked away hurriedly on the wall, a mouse scratched stealthily and gnawed at the wall-paper, and the three old women, like the Fates, swiftly and silently plied their knitting needles, the shadows raced after their hands and quivered strangely in the half darkness, and strange, half dark ideas swarmed in the child's brain. No one would have called Fedya an interesting child; he was rather pale, but stout, clumsily built and awkward—a thorough peasant, as Glafira Petrovna said; the pallor would soon have vanished from his cheeks, if he had been allowed oftener to be in the open air. He learnt fairly quickly, though he was often lazy; he never cried, but at times he was overtaken by a fit of savage obstinacy; then no one could soften him. Fedya loved no one among those around him.... Woe to the heart that has not loved in youth!
Thus Ivan Petrovitch found him, and without loss of time he set to work to apply his system to him.
"I want above all to make a man, un homme, of him," he said to Glafira Petrovna, "and not only a man, but a Spartan." Ivan Petrovitch began carrying out his intentions by putting his son in a Scotch kilt; the twelve-year-old boy had to go about with bare knees and a plume stuck in his Scotch cap. The Swedish lady was replaced by a young Swiss tutor, who was versed in gymnastics to perfection. Music, as a pursuit unworthy of a man, was discarded. The natural sciences, international law, mathematics, carpentry, after Jean-Jacques Rousseau's precept, and heraldry, to encourage chivalrous feelings, were what the future "man" was to be occupied with. He was waked at four o'clock in the morning, splashed at once with cold water and set to running round a high pole with a cord; he had only one meal a day, consisting of a single dish; rode on horseback; shot with a cross-bow; at every convenient opportunity he was exercised in acquiring after his parent's example firmness of will, and every evening he inscribed in a special book an account of the day and his impressions; and Ivan Petrovitch on his side wrote him instructions in French in which he called him mon fils, and addressed him as vous. In Russian Fedya called his father thou, but did not dare to sit down in his presence. The "system" dazed the boy, confused and cramped his intellect, but his health on the other hand was benefited by the new manner of his life; at first he fell into a fever but soon recovered and began to grow stout and strong. His father was proud of him and called him in his strange jargon "a child of nature, my creation." When Fedya had reached his sixteenth year, Ivan Petrovitch thought it his duty in good time to instil into him a contempt for the female sex; and the young Spartan, with timidity in his heart and the first down on his lip, full of sap and strength and young blood, already tried to seem indifferent, cold, and rude.
Meanwhile time was passing. Ivan Petrovitch spent the great part of the year in Lavriky (that was the name of the principal estate inherited from his ancestors). But in the winter he used to go to Moscow alone; there he stayed at a tavern, diligently visited the club, made speeches and developed his plans in drawing-rooms, and in his behaviour was more than ever Anglomaniac, grumbling and political. But the year 1825 came and brought much sorrow. Intimate friends and acquaintances of Ivan Petrovitch underwent painful experiences. Ivan Petrovitch made haste to withdraw into the country and shut himself up in his house. Another year passed by, and suddenly Ivan Petrovitch grew feeble, and ailing; his health began to break up. He, the free-thinker, began to go to church and have prayers put up for him; he, the European, began to sit in steam-baths, to dine at two o'clock, to go to bed at nine, and to doze off to the sound of the chatter of the old steward; he, the man of! political ideas, burnt all his schemes, all his correspondence, trembled before the governor, and was uneasy at the sigh of the police-captain; he, the man of iron will, whimpered and complained, when he had a gumboil or when they gave him a plate of cold soup. Glafira Petrovna again took control of everything in the house; once more the overseers, bailiffs and simple peasants began to come to the back stairs to speak to the "old witch," as the servants called her. The change in Ivan Petrovitch produced a powerful impression on his son. He had now reached his nineteenth year, and had begun to reflect and to emancipate himself from the hand that pressed like a weight upon him. Even before this time he had observed a little discrepancy between his father's words and deeds, between his wide liberal theories and his harsh petty despotism; but he had not expected such a complete breakdown. His confirmed egoism was patent now in everything. Young Lavretsky was getting ready! to go to Moscow, to prepare for the university, when a new unexpected calamity overtook Ivan Petrovitch; he became blind, and hopelessly blind, in one day.
Having no confidence in the skill of Russian doctors, he began to make efforts to obtain permission to go abroad. It was refused. Then he took his son with him and for three whole years was wandering about Russia, from one doctor to another, incessantly moving from one town to another, and driving his physicians, his son, and his servants to despair by his cowardice and impatience. He returned to Lavriky a perfect wreck, a tearful and capricious child. Bitter days followed, every one had much to put up with from him. Ivan Petrovitch was only quiet when he was dining; he had never been so greedy and eaten so much; all the rest of the time he gave himself and others no peace. He prayed, cursed his fate, abused himself, abused politics, his system, abused everything he had boasted of and prided himself upon, everything he had held up to his son as a model; he declared that he believed in nothing and then began to pray again; he could not put up with one instant of solitude, and expected his household to sit by his chair continually day and night, and entertain him with stories, which he constantly interrupted with exclamations, "You are for ever lying,... a pack of nonsense!"
Glafira Petrovna was specially necessary to him; he absolutely could not get on without her—and to the end she always carried out every whim of the sick man, though sometimes she could not bring herself to answer at once for fear the sound of her voice should betray her inward anger. Thus he lingered on for two years and died on the first day of May, when he had been brought out on to the balcony into the sun. "Glasha, Glashka! soup, soup, old foo——" his halting tongue muttered and before he had articulated the last word, it was silent for ever. Glafira Petrovna, who had only just taken the cup of soup from the hands of the steward, stopped, looked at her brother's face, slowly made a large sign of the cross and turned away in silence; and his son, who happened to be there, also said nothing; he leaned on the railing of the balcony and gazed a long while into the garden, all fragrant and green, and shining in the rays of the golden sunshine of spring. He was twenty-three years old; how terribly, how imperceptibly quickly those twenty-three years had passed by!... Life was opening before him.