Гончаров Иван Александрович
The Precipice

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  The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Precipice, by Ivan Goncharov
  
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  Title: The Precipice
  
  Author: Ivan Goncharov
  
  Release Date: January, 2005 [EBook #7307]
  [This file was first posted on April 10, 2003]
  
  Edition: 10
  
  Language: English
  
  Character set encoding: ISO Latin-1
  
  *** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, THE PRECIPICE ***
  
  
  
  
  Susan Skinner, Eric Eldred, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed
  Proofreading Team
  
  
  
  THE PRECIPICE
  
  by
  IVAN GONCHAROV
  
  
  
  Original Russian Title: _OBRYV_
  
  TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL RUSSIAN; TRANSLATOR UNKNOWN
  [This text is condensed from the original.]
  
  
  PREFACE
  
  Ivan Alexandrovich Goncharov (1812-1891) was one of the leading members
  of the great circle of Russian writers who, in the middle of the
  nineteenth century, gathered around the _Sovremmenik_ (Contemporary)
  under Nekrasov's editorship--a circle including Turgenev, Dostoyevsky,
  Tolstoy, Byelinsky, and Herzen. He had not the marked genius of the
  first three of these; but that he is so much less known to the western
  reader is perhaps also due to the fact that there was nothing
  sensational either in his life or his literary method. His strength was
  in the steady delineation of character, conscious of, but not deeply
  disturbed by, the problems which were obsessing and distracting smaller
  and greater minds.
  
  Tolstoy has a characteristically prejudiced reminiscence: "I remember
  how Goncharov, the author, a very sensible and educated man but a
  thorough townsman and an aesthete, said to me that, after Turgenev,
  there was nothing left to write about in the life of the lower classes.
  It was all used up. The life of our wealthy people, with their
  amorousness and dissatisfaction with their lives, seemed to him full of
  inexhaustible subject-matter. One hero kissed his lady on her palm, and
  another on her elbow, and a third somewhere else. One man is
  discontented through idleness, another because people don't love him.
  And Goncharov thought that in this sphere there is no end of variety."
  
  In fact, his greatest success was the portrait of Oblomov in the novel
  of that name, which was at once recognised as a peculiarly national
  character--a man of thirty-two years, careless, bored, untidy, lazy, but
  gentle and good-natured. In the present work, now translated for the
  first time into English, the type reappears with some differences.
  Raisky seems to have been "born tired." He has plenty of intelligence,
  some artistic gifts, charm, and an abundant kindliness, yet he achieves
  nothing, either in work or in love, and in the end fades ineffectually
  out of the story. "He knew he would do better to begin a big piece of
  work instead of these trifles; but he told himself that Russians did not
  understand hard work, or that real work demanded rude strength, the use
  of the hands, the shoulders, and the back," "He is only half a man,"
  says Mark Volokov, the wolfish outlaw who quotes Proudhon and talks
  about "the new knowledge, the new life." This rascal, whose violent
  pursuit of the heroine produces the tragedy of the book, is a much less
  convincing figure, though he also represents a reality of Russian life
  then, and even now.
  
  The true contrast to Raisky of which Goncharov had deep and sympathetic
  knowledge is shown in the splendid picture of the two women--Vera, the
  infatuated beauty, and Aunt Tatiana, whose agony of motherly concern and
  shamed remembrance is depicted with great power. The book is remarkable
  as a study in the psychology of passionate emotion; for the western
  reader, it is also delightful for the glimpses it gives of the old
  Russian country life which is slowly passing away. The scene lies beside
  one of the small towns on the Volga--"like other towns, a cemetery ...
  the tranquillity of the grave. What a frame for a novel, if only he knew
  what to put in the novel.... If the image of passion should float over
  this motionless, sleepy little world, the picture would glow into the
  enchanting colour of life." The storm of passion does break over the
  edge of the hill overlooking the mighty river, and, amid the wreckage,
  the two victims rise into a nobility that the reckless reformer and the
  pleasant dilettante have never conceived.
  
  Goncharov had passed many years in Governmental service and had, in fact,
  reached the age of thirty-five when his first work, _"A Common
  Story,"_ was published. _"The Frigate Pallada,"_ which followed,
  is a lengthy descriptive account of an official expedition to Japan and
  Siberia in which Goncharov took part. After the publication of _"The
  Precipice,"_ its author was moved to write an essay, _"Better Late
  Than Never,"_ in which he attempted to explain that the purpose of
  his three novels was to present the eternal struggle between East and
  West--the lethargy of the Russian and the ferment of foreign influences.
  Thus he ranged himself more closely with the great figures among his
  contemporaries. Two other volumes consist of critical study and
  reminiscence.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER I
  
  
  Boris Pavlovich Raisky had a vivacious, unusually mobile face. At first
  sight he appeared younger than his years. The high, white forehead gave
  an impression of freshness and vigour; the eyes blazed one moment with
  intelligence, emotion or gaiety, a moment later they wore a meditative,
  dreamy expression, then again they looked young, even childlike. At
  other times they evidenced knowledge of life, or looked so weary, so
  bored that they betrayed their owner's age; at these times there
  appeared between them three furrows, certain indications of time and
  knowledge of life. Smooth black hair fell on his neck and half covered
  the ears, with here and there silver threads about the temples. His
  complexion had kept the tints of youth except on the temples and the
  chin, which were a brownish-yellow colour.
  
  It was easy to guess from his physiognomy that the conflict between
  youth and maturity was past, that he had passed the early stages of
  life's journey and that sorrow and sickness had left their marks on him.
  Only the mouth, with its delicate lines, with the fresh, almost
  childlike smile remained unchanged by age.
  
  He had been left an orphan in childhood, and for some time his
  indifferent, bachelor guardian had left his education to a relative,
  Boris's aunt.
  
  This lady was endowed with a rich temperament, but her horizon did not
  stretch far beyond her own home, where in the tranquil atmosphere of
  woods and gardens, in the environment of the family and the estate,
  Boris had passed several years. When he grew older his guardian sent him
  to the High School, where the family traditions of former wealth and of
  the connexion with other old noble families faded.
  
  His further development, occupations and inclinations led him still
  further from the traditions of his childhood. Raisky had lived for about
  ten years in St. Petersburg; that is to say he rented three pleasant
  rooms from a German landlord, which he retained, although after he had
  left the civil service he rarely spent two successive half-years in the
  capital.
  
  He had left the civil service as casually as he had entered it, because,
  when he had had time to consider his position, he came to the conclusion
  that the service is not an aim in itself, but merely a means to bring
  together a number of men who would otherwise have had no justification
  for their existence. If these men had not existed, the posts which they
  filled need never have been created.
  
  Now, he had already passed his thirtieth year, and had neither sowed nor
  reaped. He did not follow the same path as the other ordinary arrival
  from the interior of Russia, for he was neither an officer nor an
  official, nor did he seek a career for himself by hard work or by
  influence. He was inscribed in the registers of his police district as a
  civil servant.
  
  It would have been hard for the expert in physiognomy to decipher
  Raisky's characteristics, inclinations and character from his face
  because of its extraordinary mobility. Still less could his mental
  physiognomy be defined. He had moments when, to use his own expression,
  he embraced the whole world, so that many people declared that there was
  no kinder, more amiable man in existence. Others, on the contrary, who
  came across him at an unfortunate moment, when the yellow patches on his
  face were most marked, when his lips were drawn in a sinister, nervous
  quiver, and he returned kindness and sympathy with cold looks and sharp
  words, were repelled by him and even pursued him with their dislike.
  Some called him egotistic and proud, while others declared themselves
  enchanted with him; some again maintained that he was theatrical, others
  that he was not to be trusted. Two or three friends judged otherwise. "A
  noble nature," they said, "most honourable, but with all its virtues,
  nervous, passionate, excitable, fiery tempered...." So there had never
  been any unanimous opinion of him.
  
  Even in early childhood while he lived with his aunt, and later, after
  his school-days had begun, he showed the same enigmatic and
  contradictory traits.
  
  It might be expected that the first effort of a new boy would be to
  listen to the teacher's questions and the pupils' answers. But Raisky
  stared at the teacher, as if seeking to impress on his memory the
  details of his appearance, his speech, how he took snuff; he looked at
  his eyebrows, his beard, then at his clothes, at the cornelian seal
  suspended across his waistcoat, and so on. Then he would observe each of
  the other boys and note their peculiarities, or he would study his own
  person, and wonder what his own face was like, what the others thought
  of him....
  
  "What did I say just now?" interrupted the master, noticing Boris's
  wandering glance.
  
  To the teacher's amazement Boris replied word for word, "And what is the
  meaning of this?" He had listened mechanically, and had caught the
  actual syllables.
  
  The master repeated his explanation, and again Boris caught the sound of
  his voice, noticing that sometimes he spoke shortly, staccato--sometimes
  drawled as if he were singing, and then rapped out his words smartly
  like nuts.
  
  "Well?"
  
  Raisky blushed, perspired with anxiety, and was silent.
  
  It was the mathematical master. He went to the blackboard, wrote up the
  problem, and again began the explanation. Raisky only noticed with what
  rapidity and certainty he wrote the figures, how the waistcoat with the
  cornelian seal and then the snuff-spattered shirt front came
  nearer--nothing, except the solution of the problem, escaped him.
  
  Now and then a notion penetrated to his brain, but when it came to
  equations he grew weary with the effort required. Sometimes the teacher
  lost patience with him, and generally concluded: "Go back to your place,
  you are a blockhead."
  
  But if a whiff of originality passed over the master himself, if he
  taught as if it were a game, and had recourse neither to his book nor to
  the blackboard, then the solution flashed on Raisky, and he found the
  answer quicker than any of the others.
  
  He consumed passionately history, novels and tales; wherever he could he
  begged for books. But he did not like facts or theories or anything that
  drew him from the world of fancy towards the world of reality. In the
  geography lesson he could not understand how any boy could answer in
  class, but once out of class he could talk about foreign countries and
  cities, or about the sea, to the amazement of his classmates. He had not
  learnt it from the teacher or from a book, but he gave a picture of the
  place as if he had actually been there.
  
  "You are inventing," a sceptical listener would say. "Vassili Nikitich
  never said that."
  
  His companions did not know what to make of him, for his sympathies
  changed so often that he had neither constant friends nor constant
  enemies. One week he would attach himself to one boy, seek his society,
  sit with him, read to him, talk to him and give him his confidence. Then,
  for no reason, he would leave him, enter into close relations with
  another boy, and then as speedily forget him.
  
  If one of his companions annoyed him he became angry with him and
  pursued hostilities obstinately long after the original cause was
  forgotten. Then suddenly he would have a friendly, magnanimous impulse,
  would carefully arrange a scene of reconciliation, which interested
  everyone, himself most of all.
  
  When he was out of school, everyday life attracted him very little; he
  cared neither for its gayer side nor its sterner activities. If his
  guardian asked him how the corn should be threshed, the cloth milled or
  linen bleached, he turned away and went out on to the verandah to look
  out on the woods, or made his way along the river to the thicket to
  watch the insects at work, or to observe the birds, to see how they
  alighted, how they sharpened their beaks. He caught a hedgehog and made
  a playmate of it, went out fishing all day long with the village boys,
  or listened to the tales about Pugachev told by a half-witted old woman
  living in a mud hut, greedily drinking in the most singular of the
  horrible incidents she related, while he looked into the old woman's
  toothless mouth and into the caverns of her fading eyes.
  
  For hours he would listen with morbid curiosity to the babble of the
  idiot Feklusha. At home he read in the most desultory way. He deemed the
  secrets of Eastern magic, Russian tales and folk-lore, skimmed Ossian,
  Tasso, Homer, or wandered with Cook in strange lands. If he found
  nothing to read he lay motionless all day long, as if he were exhausted
  with hard work; his fancy carried him beyond Ossian and Homer, beyond
  the tales of Cook, until fevered with his imaginings he rose tired,
  exhausted, and unable for a long time to resume normal life.
  
  People called him an idler. He feared this accusation, and wept over it
  in secret, though he was convinced that he was no idler, but something
  different, that no one but himself comprehended.
  
  Unfortunately, there was no one to guide him in a definite direction. On
  the one hand, his guardian merely saw to it that his masters came at
  stated times and that Boris did not avoid school; on the other, his aunt
  contented herself with seeing that he was in good health, ate and slept
  well, was decently dressed, and as a well-brought-up boy should, did not
  consort with every village lout.
  
  Nobody cared to see what he read; his aunt gave him the keys of his
  father's library in the old house, where he shut himself in, now to read
  Spinoza, now a novel, and another day Voltaire or Boccaccio.
  
  He made better progress in the arts than in the sciences. Here too he
  had his tricks. One day the teacher set the pupils to draw eyes, but
  Raisky grew tired of that, and proceeded to add a nose and a moustache.
  The master surprised him, and seized him by the hair. When he looked
  closer at the drawing, however, he asked: "Where did you learn to do
  that?"
  
  "Nowhere," was the reply.
  
  "But it is well done, my lad. See yourself what this hurry to get on
  leads to; the forehead and nose are good enough, but the ear you have
  put in the wrong place, and the hair looks like tow."
  
  Raisky was triumphant. The words, "But it is well done; the forehead and
  nose are good enough," were for him a crown of laurel.
  
  He walked round the school yard proud in the consciousness that he was
  the best in the drawing class; this mood lasted to the next day, when he
  came to grief in the ordinary lessons. But he conceived a passion for
  drawing, and during the month that followed drew a curly-headed boy,
  then the head of Fingal. His fancy was caught by a woman's head which
  hung in the master's room; it leaned a little towards one shoulder, and
  looked away into the distance with melancholy, meditative eyes. "Allow
  me to make a copy," he begged with a gentle, tremulous voice, and with a
  nervous quiver of the upper lip.
  
  "Don't break the glass," the master warned him, and gave him the picture.
  Boris was happy. For a whole week his masters did not secure a single
  intelligent answer from him. He sat silently in his corner and drew. At
  night he took the drawing to his bedroom, and as he looked into its
  gracious eyes, followed the lines of the delicately bent neck, he
  shivered, his heart stood still, there was a catch in his breath, and he
  closed his eyes; with a faint sigh he pressed the picture to his breast
  where the breath came so painfully--and then there was a crash and the
  glass fell clattering on the floor.
  
  When he had drawn the head his pride knew no bounds. His work was
  exhibited with the drawings of pupils of the top class, the teacher had
  made few corrections, had only here and there put broad strokes in the
  shading, had drawn three or four more decided lines, had put a point in
  each eye--and the eyes were now like life.
  
  "How lifelike and bold it is!" thought Raisky, as he looked at the
  strokes inserted by his master, and more especially at the points in the
  eyes, which had so suddenly given them the look of life. This step
  forward intoxicated him. "Talent! Talent!" sang in his ears.
  
  He sketched the maids, the coachman, the peasants of the countryside. He
  was particularly successful with the idiot Feklusha, seated in a cavern
  with her bust in the shade, and the light on her wild hair; he had not
  the patience nor the skill to finish bust, hands and feet. How could
  anybody be expected to sit still all the morning, when the sun was
  shedding its rays so gaily and so generously on stream and meadow?
  
  Within three days the picture had faded in his imagination, and new
  images were thronging his brain. He would like to have drawn a round
  dance, a drunken old man, the rapid passage of a troОka. For two days he
  was taken up with this picture, which stood before his mind's eye in
  every detail; the peasants and the women were finished, but not the
  waggon with its three fleet horses.
  
  In a week he had forgotten this picture also.
  
  He loved music to distraction. At school he had an enduring affection
  for the dull Vassyvkov, who was the laughing stock of the other boys. A
  boy would seize Vassyvkov by the ear, crying, "Get out, stupid,
  blockhead," but Raisky stood by him, because Vassyvkov, inattentive,
  sleepy, idle, who never did his work even for the universally beloved
  Russian master, would every afternoon after dinner take his violin, and
  as he played, forget the school, the masters and the nose-pullings. His
  eyes as they gazed into the distance, apparently seeking something
  strange, enticing, and mysterious, became wild and gloomy, and often
  filled with tears.
  
  He was no longer Vassyvkov, but another creature. His pupils dilated,
  his eyes ceased to blink, becoming clearer and deeper; his glance was
  proud and intelligent; his breath came long and deep. Over his face
  stole an expression of happiness, of gentleness; his eyes became darker
  and seemed to radiate light. In a word he became beautiful.
  
  Raisky began to think the thoughts of Vassyvkov, to see what he saw. His
  surroundings vanished, and boys and benches were lost in a mist. More
  notes ... and a wide space opened before him. A world in motion arose.
  He heard the murmur of running streams, saw ships, men, woods, and
  drifting clouds; everywhere was light, motion, and gaiety. He had the
  sensation that he himself was growing taller, he caught his breath....
  
  The dream continued just so long as the notes were heard. Suddenly he
  heard a noise, he was awakened with a start, Vassyvkov had ceased to
  play; the moving, musical waves vanished, and there were only the boys,
  benches and tables. Vassyvkov laid aside his violin, and somebody
  tweaked his ear. Raisky threw himself in a rage on the offender, struck
  him--all the while possessed by the magic notes.
  
  Every nerve in his body sang. Life, thought, emotion broke in waves in
  the seething sea of his consciousness. The notes strike a chord of
  memory. A cloud of recollection hovers before him, shaping the figure of
  a woman who holds him to her breast. He gropes in his consciousness--it
  was thus that his mother's arms cradled him, his face pressed to her
  breast ... her figure grows in distinctness, as if she had risen from
  the grave....
  
  He had begun to take lessons from Vassyvkov. For a whole week he had
  been moving the bow up and down, but its scratching set his teeth on
  edge. He caught two strings at once, and his hand trembled with weakness.
  It was clearly no use. When Vassyvkov played his hand seemed to play of
  itself. Tired of the torment, Raisky begged his guardian to allow him to
  take piano lessons.
  
  "It will be easier on the pianoforte," he thought.
  
  His guardian engaged a German master, but took the opportunity of saying
  a few words to his nephew.
  
  "Boris," he said, "for what are you preparing yourself? I have been
  intending to ask you for a long time."
  
  Boris did not understand the question, and made no answer.
  
  "You are nearly sixteen years old, and it is time you began to think of
  serious things. It is plain that you have not yet considered what
  faculty you will follow in the University, and to which branch of the
  service you will devote yourself. You cannot well go into the army,
  because you have no great fortune, and yet, for the sake of your family,
  could hardly serve elsewhere than in the Guards."
  
  Boris was silent, and watched through the window how the hens strutted
  about, how the pigs wallowed in the mire, how the cat was stalking a
  pigeon....
  
  "I am speaking to you seriously, and you stare out of the window. For
  what future are you preparing yourself?"
  
  "I want to be an artist."
  
  "Wha-at?"
  
  "An artist."
  
  "The devil only knows what notions you have got into your head. Who
  would agree to that? Do you even know what an artist is?"
  
  Raisky made no answer.
  
  "An artist ... is a man who borrows money from you, or chatters foolish
  nonsense, and drives you to distraction.... Artist! ... These people
  lead a wild gipsy life, are destitute of money, clothes, shoes, and all
  the time they dream of wealth. Artists live on this earth like the birds
  of heaven. I have seen enough of them in St. Petersburg: bold rascals
  who meet one another in the evening dressed in fantastic costumes, lie
  upon divans, smoke pipes, talk about trifles, read poetry, drink brandy
  and declare that they are artists. Uncombed, unwashed...."
  
  "I have heard, Uncle, that artists are now held in high esteem. You are
  thinking of the past. Now, the Academy produces many famous people."
  
  "I am not very old, and I have seen the world. You have heard the bells
  ring, but do not know in what tower. Famous people! There are famous
  artists as there are famous doctors. But when do they achieve fame? When
  do they enter the service and reach the rank of Councillor? If a man
  builds a cathedral or erects a monument in a public place, then people
  begin to seek him out. But artists begin in poverty, with a crust of
  bread. You will find they are for the most part freed serfs, small
  tradespeople or foreigners, or Jews. Poverty drives them to art. But
  you--a Raisky! You have land of your own, and bread to eat. It's
  pleasant enough to have graceful talents in society, to play the piano,
  to sketch in an album, and to sing a song, and I have therefore engaged
  a German professor for you. But what an abominable idea to be an artist
  by profession! Have you ever heard of a prince or a count who has
  painted a picture, or a nobleman who has chiselled a statue? No, and
  why?"
  
  "What about Rubens? He was a courtier, an ambassador...."
  
  "Where have you dug that out? Two hundred years ago.... Among the
  Germans ... but you are going to the University, to enter the faculty of
  law, then you will study for the service in St. Petersburg, try to get a
  position as advocate, and your connexions will help you to a place at
  court. And if you keep your eyes open, with your name and your
  connexions, you will be a Governor in thirty years' time. That is the
  career for you. But there seem to be no serious ideas in your head; you
  catch fish with the village boors, have sketched a swamp and a drunken
  beggar, but you have not the remotest idea of when this or that crop
  should be sown, or at what price it is sold."
  
  Raisky trembled. His guardian's lecture affected his nerves.
  
  Like Vassyvkov, the music master began to bend his fingers. If Raisky
  had not been ashamed before his guardian he would not have endured the
  torture. As it was he succeeded in a few months, after much trouble, in
  completing the first stages of his instruction. Very soon he surpassed
  and surprised the local young ladies by the strength and boldness of his
  playing. His master saw his abilities were remarkable, his indolence
  still more remarkable.
  
  That, he thought, was no misfortune. Indolence and negligence are native
  to artists. He had been told too that a man who has talent should not
  work too hard. Hard work is only for those with moderate abilities.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER II
  
  
  Raisky entered the University, and spent the summer vacation with his
  aunt, Tatiana Markovna Berezhkov.
  
  His aunt lived in a family estate which Boris had inherited from his
  mother--a piece of land on the Volga, close by a little town, with fifty
  souls and two residences, one built of stone and now neglected, the
  other a wooden building built by Boris's father. In this newer house
  Tatiana Markovna lived with two orphan girls of six and five years old
  respectively, who had been left in her care by a niece whom she had
  loved as a daughter.
  
  Tatiana Markovna had an estate and a village of her own, but after the
  death of Raisky's parents she had established herself on their little
  estate, which she ruled like a miniature kingdom, wisely, economically,
  carefully and despotically. She never permitted Boris's guardian to
  interfere in her business, took no heed of documents, papers, or deeds,
  but carried on the affairs of the estate according to the practice of
  its former owners. She told Boris's guardian that all the documents,
  papers and deeds were inscribed in her memory, and that she would render
  account to Boris when he came of age; until that day came she, according
  to the verbal instructions of his parents, was mistress of the estate.
  Boris's guardian was content. It was an excellent estate, and could not
  be better administered than by the old lady.
  
  What a Paradise Raisky evolved for himself in this corner of the earth,
  from which he had been taken away in his childhood and where he had
  spent many a summer visit in his schooldays. What views in the
  neighbourhood! Every window in the house framed a lovely landscape. From
  one side could be seen the Volga with its steep banks; from the others
  wide meadows and gorges, and the whole seemed to melt into the distant
  blue hills. From the third side could be seen fields, villages, and part
  of the town. The air was cool and invigorating, and as refreshing as a
  bathe on a summer day.
  
  In the immediate neighbourhood of the two houses the great park, with
  its dark alleys, arbours and seats, was kept in good order, but beyond
  these limits it was left wild. There were broad stretching elms, cherry
  and apple trees, service trees, and there were lime trees intended to
  form an avenue, which lost itself in a wood in the friendly
  neighbourhood of pines and birches. Suddenly the whole ended in a
  precipice, thickly overgrown with bushes, which overhung a plain about
  one and a-half versts in breadth along the banks of the Volga.
  
  Nearer the wooden house lay the vegetable garden, and just in front of
  its windows lay the flower garden. Tatiana Markovna liked to have a
  space clear of trees in front of the house, so that the place was
  flooded with sunshine and the scent of flowers. From the other side of
  the house one could watch all that was going on in the courtyard and
  could see the servants' quarters, the kitchens, the hayricks, and the
  stable. In the depths of the courtyard stood the old house, gloomy,
  always in shadow, stained with age, with here and there a cracked window
  pane, with heavy doors fastened by heavy bolts, and the path leading up
  to it overgrown with grass. But on the new house the sun streamed from
  morning to night; the flower garden, full of roses and dahlias,
  surrounded it like a garland, and the gay flowers seemed to be trying to
  force their way in through the windows. Swallows nesting under the eaves
  flew hither and thither; in the garden and the trees there were
  hedge-sparrows, siskins and goldfinches, and when darkness fell the
  nightingale began to sing. Around the flowers there were swarms of bees,
  humble-bees, dragon-flies, and glittering butterflies; and in the
  corners cats and kittens stretched themselves comfortably in the
  sunshine.
  
  In the house itself peace and joy reigned. The rooms were small, but
  cosy. Antique pieces of furniture had been brought over from the great
  house, as had the portraits of Raisky's parents and grandparents. The
  floors were painted, waxed and polished; the stoves were adorned with
  old-fashioned tiles, also brought over from the other house; the
  cupboards were full of plate and silver; there were old Dresden cups and
  figures, Chinese ornaments, tea-pots, sugar-basins, heavy old spoons.
  Round stools bound with brass, and inlaid tables stood in pleasant
  corners.
  
  In Tatiana Markovna's sitting-room stood an old-fashioned carved bureau
  with a mirror, urns, lyres, and genii. But she had hung up the mirror,
  because she said it was a hindrance to writing when you stared at your
  own stupid face. The room also contained a round table where she lunched
  and drank her tea and coffee, and a rather hard leather-covered armchair
  with a high back. Grandmother [1] was old-fashioned; she did not approve
  of lounging, but held herself upright and was simple and reserved in
  her manners.
  
  How beautiful Boris thought her! And indeed she was beautiful.
  
  Tall, neither stout nor thin, a vivacious old lady ... not indeed an old
  lady, but a woman of fifty, with quick black eyes, and so kind and
  gracious a smile that even when she was angry, and the storm-light
  flickered in her eyes, the blue sky could be observed behind the clouds.
  She had a slight moustache, and, on her left cheek, near the chin, a
  birth-mark with a little bunch of hairs, details which gave her face a
  remarkable expression of kindness.
  
  She cut her grey hair short, and went about in house, yard, garden with
  her head uncovered, but on feast days, or when guests were expected she
  put on a cap. The cap could not be kept in its place, and did not suit
  her at all, so that after about five minutes she would with apologies
  remove the tiresome headdress.
  
  In the mornings she wore a wide white blouse with a girdle and big
  pockets; in the afternoon she put on a brown dress, and on feast days a
  heavy rustling silk dress that gleamed like silver, and over it a
  valuable shawl which only Vassilissa, her housekeeper, was allowed to
  take out of the press.
  
  "Uncle Ivan Kusmich brought it from the East," she used to boast. "It
  cost three hundred gold roubles, and now no money would buy it."
  
  At her girdle hung a bunch of keys, so that Grandmother could he heard
  from afar like a rattlesnake when she crossed the yard or the garden. At
  the sound the coachmen hid their pipes in their boots, because the
  mistress feared nothing so much as fire, and for that reason counted
  smoking as the greatest of crimes. The cooks seized the knife, the spoon
  or the broom; Kirusha, who had been joking with Matrona, hurried to the
  door, while Matrona hurried to the byre.
  
  If the approaching clatter gave warning that the mistress was returning
  to the house Mashutka quickly took off her dirty apron and wiped her
  hands on a towel or a bit of rag, as the case might be. Spitting on her
  hands she smoothed down her dry, rebellious hair, and covered the round
  table with the finest of clean tablecloths. Vassilissa, silent, serious,
  of the same age as her mistress, buxom, but faded with much confinement
  indoors, would bring in the silver service with the steaming coffee.
  
  Mashutka effaced herself as far as possible in a corner. The mistress
  insisted on cleanliness in her servants, but Mashutka had no gift for
  keeping herself spotless. When her hands were clean she could do nothing,
  but felt as if everything would slip through her fingers. If she was
  told to do her hair on Sunday, to wash and to put on tidy clothes, she
  felt the whole day as if she had been sewn into a sack. She only seemed
  to be happy when, smeared and wet with washing the boards, the windows,
  the silver, or the doors, she had become almost unrecognisable, and had,
  if she wanted to rub her nose or her eyebrows, to use her elbow.
  
  Vassilissa, on the contrary, respected herself, and was the only tidy
  woman among all the servants. She had been in the service of her
  mistress since her earliest days as her personal maid, had never been
  separated from her, knew every detail of her life, and now lived with
  her as housekeeper and confidential servant. The two women communicated
  with one another in monosyllables. Tatiana Markovna hardly needed to
  give instructions to Vassilissa, who knew herself what had to be done.
  If something unusual was required, her mistress did not give orders, but
  suggested that this or that should be done.
  
  Vassilissa was the only one of her subjects whom Tatiana Markovna
  addressed by her full name. If she did address them by their baptismal
  names they were names that could not be compressed nor clipped, as for
  example Ferapont or Panteleimon. The village elder she did indeed
  address as Stepan Vassilich, but the others were to her Matroshka,
  Mashutka, Egorka and so on. The unlucky individual whom she addressed
  with his Christian name and patronymic knew that a storm was impending.
  "Here, Egor Prokhorich! where were you all day yesterday?" Or "Simeon
  Vassilich, you smoked a pipe yesterday in the hayrick. Take care!"
  
  She would get up in the middle of the night to convince herself that a
  spark from a pipe had not set fire to anything, or that there was not
  someone walking about the yard or the coachhouse with a lantern.
  
  Under no consideration could the gulf between the "people" and the
  family be bridged. She was moderately strict and moderately considerate,
  kindly, but always within the limits of her ideas of government. If
  Irene, Matrona or another of the maids gave birth to a child, she
  listened to the report of the event with an air of injured dignity, but
  gave Vassilissa to understand that the necessaries should be provided;
  and would add, "Only don't let me see the good-for-nothing." After
  Matrona or Irene had recovered she would keep out of her mistress's
  sight for a month or so; then it was as if nothing had happened, and the
  child was put out in the village.
  
  If any of her people fell sick, Tatiana got up in the night, sent him
  spirits and embrocation, but next day she would send him either to the
  infirmary or oftener to the "wise woman," but she did not send for a
  doctor. But if one of her own relatives, her "grandchildren" showed a
  bad tongue, or a swollen face, Kirusha or Vlass must immediately ride
  post haste to the town for the doctor.
  
  The "wise woman" was a woman in the suburbs who treated the "people"
  with simple remedies, and rapidly relieved them of their maladies. It
  did, indeed, happen that many a man remained crippled for life after her
  treatment. One lost his voice and could only crow, another lost an eye,
  or a piece of his jawbone, but the pain was gone and he went back to
  work. That seemed satisfactory to the patient as well as the proprietor
  of the estate. And as the "wise woman" only concerned herself with
  humble people, with serfs and the poorer classes, the medical profession
  did not interfere with her.
  
  Tatiana Markovna fed her servants decently with cabbage soup and groats,
  on feast-days with rye and mutton; at Christmas geese and pigs were
  roasted. She allowed nothing out of the common on the servants' table or
  in their dress, but she gave the surplus from her own table now to one
  woman, now to another.
  
  Vassilissa drank tea immediately after her mistress; after her came the
  maids in the house, and last old Yakob. On feast days, on account of the
  hardness of their work, a glass of brandy was handed to the coachman,
  the menservants and the Starost.
  
  As soon as the tea was cleared away in the morning a stout, chubby-faced
  woman pushed her way into the room, always smiling. She was maid to the
  grandchildren, Veroshka and Marfinka. Close at her heels the
  twelve-year-old assistant, and together they brought the children
  to breakfast.
  
  Never knowing which of the two to kiss first, Tatiana Markovna would
  begin: "Well, my birdies, how are you? Veroshka, darling, you have
  brushed your hair?"
  
  "And me, Granny, me," Marfinka would cry.
  
  "Why are Marfinka's eyes red? Has she been crying?" Tatiana Markovna
  inquired anxiously of the maid. "The sun has dazzled her. Are her
  curtains well drawn, you careless girl? I must see."
  
  In the maid's room sat three or four young girls who sat all day long
  sewing, or making bobbin lace, without once stretching their limbs all
  day, because the mistress did not like to see idle hands. In the
  ante-room there sat idly the melancholy Yakob, Egorka, who was sixteen
  and always laughing, with two or three lackeys. Yakob did nothing but
  wait at table, where he idly flicked away the flies, and as idly changed
  the plates. He was almost too idle to speak, and when the visitors
  addressed him he answered in a tone indicating excessive boredom or a
  guilty conscience. Because he was quiet, never seriously drunk, and did
  not smoke, his master had made him butler; he was also very zealous at
  church.
  
  [1] Tatiana Markovna was addressed by her grand-nieces and her
  grand-nephew as Grandmother.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER III
  
  
  Boris came in on his aunt during the children's breakfast. Tatiana
  Markovna clapped her hands and all but jumped from her chair; the plates
  were nearly shaken off the table.
  
  "Borushka, tiresome boy! You have not even written, but descend like a
  thunderclap. How you frightened me!"
  
  She took his head in her hands, looked for a full minute into his face,
  and would have wept, but she glanced away at his mother's portrait, and
  sighed.
  
  "Well, well!" she seemed to say, but in fact said nothing, but smiled
  and wiped away her tears with her handkerchief. "Your mother's boy," she
  cried, "her very image! See how lovely she was, look, Vassilissa! Do you
  remember? Isn't he like her?"
  
  With youthful appetite Boris devoured coffee, tea, cakes and bread, his
  aunt watching all the while.
  
  "Call the people, tell the Starost and everybody that the Master is here,
  the real Master, the owner. Welcome, little father, welcome home!" she
  said, with an ironic air of humility, laughing and mimicking the
  pleasant speech. "Forsake us not with your favour. Tatiana Markovna
  insults us, ruins us, take us over into your charge.... Ha! Ha! Here are
  the keys, the accounts, at your service, demand a reckoning from the old
  lady. Ask her what she has done with the estate money, why the peasants'
  huts are in ruins. See how the Malinovka peasants beg in the streets of
  the town. Ha! Ha! Under your guardian and uncle in the new estate, I
  believe, the peasants wear polished boots and red shirts, and live in
  two-storied houses. Well, Sir, why this silence? Why do you not ask for
  the accounts? Have your breakfast, and then I will show you everything."
  
  After breakfast Tatiana Markovna took her sunshade, put on her
  thick-soled shoes, covered her head with a light hood, and went to
  show Boris the garden.
  
  "Now, Sir, keep your eyes wide open, and if there is anything wrong,
  don't spare your Grandmother. You will see I have just planted out the
  beds in front of the house. Veroshka and Marfinka play here under my
  eyes, in the sand. One cannot trust any nurse."
  
  They reached the yard.
  
  "Kirusha, Eromka, Matroshka, where have you all hidden yourselves? One
  of you come here."
  
  Matroshka appeared, and announced that Kirusha and Eromka had gone into
  the village to fetch the peasants.
  
  "Here is Matroshka. Do you remember her? What are you staring there for,
  fool. Kiss your Master's hand."
  
  Matroshka came nearer. "I dare not," she said.
  
  Boris shyly embraced the girl.
  
  "You have built a new wing to the buildings, Grandmother," he said.
  
  "You noticed that. Do you remember the old one? It was quite rotten, had
  holes in the floors as broad as my hand, and the dirt and the soot! And
  now look!"
  
  They went into the new wing. His aunt showed Boris the alterations in
  the stables, the horses and the separate space for fowls, the laundry
  and byres.
  
  "Here is the new kitchen which I built detached so that the kitchen
  range is outside the house, and the servants have more room. Now each
  has his own corner. Here is the pantry, there the new ice-cellar. What
  are you standing there for?" she said, turning to Matrona. "Go and tell
  Egorka to run into the village and say to the Starost that we are going
  over there."
  
  In the garden his aunt showed him every tree and every bush, led him
  through the alleys, looked down from the top of the precipice into the
  brushwood, and went with him into the village. It was a warm day, and
  the winter corn waved gently in the pleasant breeze.
  
  "Here is my nephew, Boris Pavlovich," she said to the Starost. "Are you
  getting in the hay while the warm weather lasts? We are sure to have
  rain before long after this heat. Here is the Master, the real Master,
  my nephew," she said, turning to the peasants. "Have you seen him before,
  Garashka? Take a good look at him. Is that your calf in the rye,
  Iliusha?" she said in passing to a peasant, while her attention already
  wandered to the pond.
  
  "There they are again, hanging out the clothes on the trees," she
  remarked angrily to the village elder. "I have given orders for a line
  to be fixed. Tell blind Agasha so. It is she that likes to hang her
  things out on the willows. The branches will break...."
  
  "We haven't a line long enough," answered the Starost sleepily. "We
  shall have to buy one in the town."
  
  "Why did you not tell Vassilissa? She would have let me know. I go into
  the town every week, and would have brought a line long ago."
  
  "I have told her, but she forgets, or says it is not worth while to
  bother the Mistress about it."
  
  Tatiana Markovna made a knot in her handkerchief. She liked it to be
  said that nothing could be done without her; a clothes-line, for
  instance, could be bought by anybody, but God forbid that she should
  trust anybody with money. Although by no means avaricious, she was
  sparing with money. Before she brought herself to part with it she was
  thoughtful, sometimes angry, but the money once spent, she forgot all
  about it and did not like keeping account of it.
  
  Besides the more important arrangements, her life was full of small
  matters of business. The maids had to be put to cutting out and sewing,
  or to cooking and cleaning. She arranged so that everything was carried
  out before her own eyes. She herself did not touch the actual work, but
  with the dignity of age she stood with one hand on her hip and the other
  pointing out exactly where and how everything was to be done. The
  clattering keys opened cupboards, chests, strong boxes, which contained
  a profusion of household linen, costly lace yellow with age, diamonds,
  destined for the dowry of her nieces, and money. The cupboards where tea,
  sugar, coffee and other provisions were kept were in Vassilissa's charge.
  
  In the morning, after coffee, when she had given her orders for the farm,
  Tatiana Markovna sat down at her bureau to her accounts, then sat by the
  window and looked out into the field, watched the labourers, saw what
  was going on in the yard, and sent Yakob or Vassilissa when there was
  anything of which she disapproved.
  
  When necessary she drove into the town to the market hall, or to make
  visits, but never was long away, returning always in time for the midday
  meal. She herself received many guests; she liked to be dispensing
  hospitality from morning to night.
  
  When in winter afternoons she sat by the stove, she was silent and
  thoughtful, and liked everything around her quiet. Summer afternoons she
  spent in the garden, when she put on her gardening gloves and took a
  spade, a rake, or a watering can, by way of obtaining a little exercise.
  Then she spent the evening at the tea-table in the company of Tiet
  Nikonich Vatutin, her oldest and best friend and adviser.
  
  Tiet Nikonich was a gentleman of birth and breeding. He owned in the
  province two or three hundred "souls"--he did not exactly know how many,
  and never attended to his estate, but left his peasants to do as they
  liked, and to pay him what dues they pleased. Shyly, and without
  counting it, he took the money they brought him, put it in his bureau,
  and signed to them to go where they pleased. He had been in the army,
  and old people remembered him as a handsome young officer, a modest,
  frank young man. In his youth he often visited his mother on the estate,
  and spent his leave with her. Eventually he took his discharge, and then
  built himself a little grey house in the town with three windows on to
  the street, and there established himself.
  
  Although he had only received a moderate education in the cadet school,
  he liked to read, occupying himself chiefly with politics and natural
  science. In his speech, his manners and his gait he betrayed a gentle
  shyness, never obtruded his dignity, but was ready to show it if
  necessity arose. However intimate he might be with anyone, he always
  maintained a certain courtesy and reserve in word and gesture. He bowed
  to the Governor or a friend or a new acquaintance with the same
  old-fashioned politeness, drawing back one foot as he did so. In the
  street he addressed ladies with uncovered head, was the first to pick up
  a handkerchief or bring a footstool. If there were young girls in a house
  he visited he came armed with a pound of bonbons, a bunch of flowers,
  and tried to suit his conversation to their age, their tastes and their
  occupations. He always maintained his delicate politeness, tinged with
  the respectful manner of a courtier of the old school. When ladies were
  present he always wore his frock-coat. He neither smoked, nor used
  perfume, nor tried to make himself look younger, but was always spotless,
  and distinguished in his dress. His clothes were simple but dazzlingly
  neat. His nankeen trousers were freshly pressed, and his blue frock-coat
  looked as if it had come straight from the tailor. In spite of his fifty
  years, he had, with his perruque and his shaven chin, the air of a fresh,
  rosy-cheeked young man. With all his narrow means he gave the impression
  of wealth and good breeding, and put down his hundred roubles as if he
  had thousands to throw about.
  
  For Tatiana Markovna he showed a respectful friendship, but one so
  devoted and ardent that it was evident from his manner that he loved her
  beyond all others. But although he was her daily guest he gave no sign
  of intimacy before strangers.
  
  She showed great friendship for him, but there was more vivacity in her
  tone. Those who remembered them when they were young, said she had been
  a very beautiful girl. When she had thrown on her shawl and sat looking
  meditatively before her, she resembled a family portrait in the gallery
  of the old house. Occasionally there came over her moods which betrayed
  pride and a desire for domination; when this happened her face wore an
  earnest, dreamy expression, as if she were leading another life far from
  the small details of her actual existence.
  
  Hardly a day went by that Tiet Nikonich did not bring some present for
  Grandmother or the little girls, a basket of strawberries, oranges,
  peaches, always the earliest on the market.
  
  At one time it had been rumoured in the town--a rumour long since
  stilled--that Tiet Nikonich had loved Tatiana Markovna and Tatiana
  Markovna him, but that her parents had chosen another husband for her.
  She refused to assent, and remained unmarried. What truth there was in
  this, none knew but herself. But every day he came to her, either at
  midday or in the evening.
  
  He liked to talk over with her what was going on in the world, who was
  at war, and with whom, and why. He knew why bread was cheap in Russia;
  the names of all the noble houses; he knew by heart the names of all the
  ministers and the men in high commands and their past history; he could
  tell why one sea lay at a higher tide than another; he was the first to
  know what the English or the French had invented, and whether the
  inventions were useful or not. If there was any business to be arranged
  in the law courts, Tiet Nikonich arranged it, and sometimes concealed
  the sums that he spent in so doing. If he was found out, she scolded him;
  he could not conceal his confusion, begged her pardon, kissed her hand,
  and took his leave.
  
  Tatiana Markovna was always at loggerheads with the bureaucracy of the
  neighbourhood. If soldiers were to be billeted on her, the roads to be
  improved, or the taxes collected, she complained of outrage, argued and
  refused to pay. She would hear nothing about the public interest. In her
  opinion everyone had his own business to mind. She strongly objected to
  the police, and especially to the Superintendent, who was in her view a
  robber. More than once Tiet Nikonich tried, without success, to
  reconcile her to the doctrine of the public interest; he had to be
  content if she was reconciled with the officials and the police.
  
  This was the patriarchal, peaceful atmosphere which young Raisky
  absorbed. Grandmother and the little girls were mother and sisters to
  him, and Tiet Nikonich the ideal uncle.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER IV
  
  
  Boris's aunt had only just begun to give him an idea of her methods of
  conducting the estate when he began to yawn.
  
  "Listen, these are all your affairs; I am only your Starost," she said.
  But he could not suppress a yawn, watched the birds, the dragon-flies,
  picked the cornflowers, looked curiously at the peasants, and gazed up
  at the sky over-arching the wide horizon. Then his aunt began to talk to
  one of the peasants, and he hurried off to the garden, ran down to the
  edge of the precipice, and made his way through the undergrowth to the
  steep bank of the Volga.
  
  "He is still too young, only a child, does not understand serious
  matters," thought his aunt, as she followed him with her eyes. "What
  will become of him?"
  
  The Volga glided quietly between its overgrown banks, with here and
  there a sandbank or an island thickly covered with bushes. In the
  distance lay the sandhills and the darkening forest. Here and there
  shimmered a sail; gulls, with an even balancing of their wings, skimmed
  the water, and then rose with a more strenuous movement, while over the
  gardens, high in the air, the goshawks hovered.
  
  Boris stood still for a long time, recalling his childhood. He
  remembered that he had sat on this spot with his mother, looking
  thoughtfully out at this same landscape. Then he went slowly back to the
  house, and climbed the precipice, with the picture of her vividly before
  his mind's eye.
  
  In Malinovka and the neighbourhood there were tragic memories connected
  with this precipice. In the lifetime of Boris's parents a man wild with
  jealousy, a tailor from the town, had killed his wife and her lover
  there in the midst of the thicket, and had then cut his own throat. The
  suicide had been buried on the spot where he had committed the crime.
  Among the common people, as always happens in cases of this sort, there
  were rumours that the murderer, all dressed in white, wandered about the
  wood, climbed the precipice, and looked down on town and village before
  he vanished into air. And for superstitious reasons this part of the
  grounds had been left neglected. None of the servants went down the
  precipice, and the peasants from the outskirts of the town and from
  Malinovka made a dИtour to avoid it. The fence that divided the Raiskys'
  park from the woods had long since fallen into disrepair. Pines and
  bushes of hawthorn and dwarf-cherry had woven themselves together into a
  dense growth in the midst of which was concealed a neglected arbour.
  
  Boris vividly imagined the scene, how the jealous husband, trembling
  with agitation, stole through the bushes, threw himself on his rival,
  and struck him with his knife; how the woman flung herself at his feet
  and begged his forgiveness. But he, with the foam of madness on his lips,
  struck her again and again, and then, in the presence of the two corpses,
  cut his own throat. Boris shuddered. Agitated and gloomy he turned from
  the accursed spot. Yet he was attracted by the mysterious darkness of
  the tangled wood to the precipice, to the lovely view over the Volga and
  its banks.
  
  He closed his eyes, abandoning himself to the contemplation of the
  picture; his thoughts swept over him like the waves of the Volga; the
  lovely landscape was ever before his eyes, mirrored in his consciousness.
  
  Veroshka and Marfinka provided him with amusement.
  
  Veroshka was a little girl of six, with dark, brilliant eyes and dark
  complexion, who was beginning to be serious and to be ashamed of her
  baby ways. She would hop, skip and jump, then stand still, look shyly
  round and walk sedately along; then she would dart on again like a bird,
  pick a handful of currants and stuff them into her mouth. If Boris
  patted her hair, she smoothed it rapidly; if he gave her a kiss, she
  wiped it away. She was self-willed too. When she was sent on an errand
  she would shake her head, then run off to do it. She never asked Boris
  to draw for her, but if Marfinka asked him she watched silently and more
  intently than her sister. She did not, like Marfinka, beg either
  drawings or pencils.
  
  Marfinka, a rosy little girl of four, was often self-willed, and often
  cried, but before the tears were dry she was laughing and shouting again.
  Veroshka rarely wept, and then quietly. She soon recovered, but she did
  not like to be told to beg pardon.
  
  Boris's aunt wondered, as she saw him gay and serious by turns, what
  occupied his mind; she wondered what he did all day long. In answer
  Boris showed his sketching folio; then he would play her quadrilles,
  mazurkas, excerpts from opera, and finally his own improvisations.
  
  Tatiana Markovna's astonishment remained. "Just like your mother," she
  said. "She was just as restless, always sighing as if she expected
  something to happen. Then she would begin to play and was gay again. See,
  Vassilissa, he has sketched you and me, like life! When Tiet Nikonich
  comes, hide yourself and make a sketch of him, and next day we will send
  it him, and it can hang on the study wall. What a boy you are! And you
  play as well as the French emigrИ who used to live with your Aunt. Only
  it is impossible to talk to you about the farm; you are still too
  young."
  
  She always wished to go through the accounts with him. "The accounts for
  Veroshka and Marfinka are separate, you see," she said. "You need not
  think that a penny of your money goes to them. See...."
  
  But he never listened. He merely watched how his aunt wrote, how she
  looked at him over her spectacles, observed the wrinkles in her face,
  her birthmark, her eyes, her smile, and then burst out laughing, and,
  throwing himself into her arms, kissed her, and begged to go and look at
  the old house. She could refuse him nothing; so she unwillingly gave him
  the keys and he went to look at the rooms where he was born and had
  spent his childhood, of which he retained only a confused memory.
  
  "I am going with Cousin Boris," said Marfinka.
  
  "Where, my darling? It is uncanny over there," said Tatiana Markovna.
  
  Marfinka was frightened. Veroshka said nothing, but when Boris reached
  the old house, she was already standing at the door, with her hand on
  the latch, as if she feared she might be driven away.
  
  Boris shuddered as he entered the ante-room, and cast an anxious glance
  into the neighbouring hall, supported by pillars. Veroshka had run on in
  front.
  
  "Where are you off to, Veroshka?"
  
  She stood still a moment, her hand on the latch of the nearest door, and
  he had only just time to follow her before she vanished. Dark,
  smoke-stained reception rooms adjoined the hall. In one were two ghostly
  figures of shrouded statues and shrouded candelabra; by the walls were
  ranged dark stained oak pieces of furniture with brass decorations and
  inlaid work; there were huge Chinese vases, a clock representing Bacchus
  with a barrel, and great oval mirrors in elaborate gilded frames. In the
  bedroom stood an enormous bed, like a magnificent bier, with a brocade
  cover. Boris could not imagine how any human being could sleep in such a
  catafalque. Under the baldachin hovered a gilded Cupid, spotted and
  faded, with his arrow aimed at the bed. In the corners stood carved
  cupboards, damascened with ebony and mother-of-pearl. Veroshka opened a
  press and put her little face inside, and a musty, dusty smell came from
  the shelves, laden with old-fashioned caftans and embroidered uniforms
  with big buttons.
  
  Raisky shivered. "Granny was right!" he laughed. "It is uncanny here."
  
  "But everything here is so beautiful!" cried Vera, "the great pictures
  and the books!"
  
  "Pictures? Books? Where? I don't remember. Bravo, little Veroshka."
  
  He kissed her. She wiped her lips, and ran on in front to show him the
  books. He found some two thousand volumes, and was soon absorbed in
  reading the titles; many of the books were still uncut.
  
  From this time he was not often to be seen in the wooden house. He did
  not even go down to the Volga, but devoured one volume after another.
  Then he wrote verses, read them aloud, and intoxicated himself with the
  sound of them; then gave all his time to drawing. He expected something,
  he knew not what, from the future. He was filled with passion, with the
  foretaste of pleasure; there rose before him a world of wonderful music,
  marvellous pictures, and the murmur of enchanting life.
  
  "I have been wanting to ask you," said Tatiana Markovna, "why you have
  entered yourself for school again."
  
  "Not the school, the University!"
  
  "It's the same thing. You studied at your guardian's, and at the High
  School, you can draw, play the piano. What more do you want to learn?
  The students will only teach you to smoke a pipe, and in the end--which
  God forbid--to drink wine. You should go into the Guards."
  
  "Uncle says my means are not sufficient...."
  
  "Not sufficient! What next?" She pointed to the fields and the village.
  She counted out his resources in hundreds and thousands of roubles. She
  had had no experience of army circles, had never lived in the capital,
  and did not know how much money was needed.
  
  "Your means insufficient! Why, I can send provision alone for a whole
  regiment. No means! What does your Uncle do with the revenues?"
  
  "I intend to be an artist, Granny."
  
  "What! An artist!"
  
  "When I leave the University, I intend to enter the Academy."
  
  "What's the matter with you, Borushka? Make the sign of the cross! Do
  you want to be a teacher!"
  
  "All artists are not teachers. Among artists there are great geniuses,
  who are famous and receive large sums for pictures or music."
  
  "And do you intend to sell your pictures for money, or to play the piano
  for money in the evenings? What a disgrace!"
  
  "No, Grandmother, an artist...."
  
  "No, Borushka, don't anger your Grandmother; let her have the joy of
  seeing you in your Guard's uniform."
  
  "Uncle says I ought to go into the Civil Service."
  
  "A clerk! Good heavens! To stoop over a desk all day, bathed in ink, run
  in and out of the courts! Who would marry you then? No, no; come home to
  me as an officer, and marry a rich woman!"
  
  Although Boris shared neither his uncle's nor his aunt's views, yet for
  a moment there shimmered before his eyes a vision of his own figure in a
  hussar's or a court uniform. He saw how well he sat his horse, how well
  he danced. That day he made a sketch of himself, negligently seated in
  the saddle, with a cloak over his shoulders.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER V
  
  
  In Moscow Raisky spent his time partly in the University, partly in the
  Kremlin gardens. In the evening he sat in the club with his friends,
  hot-headed, good-hearted individuals. Every one of them made a great
  to-do, and confidently expected a great future.
  
  At the University, as at school, Raisky paid little attention to the
  rules of grammar, but observed intently the professor and the students.
  But as soon as the lecture touched actual life and brought living men,
  Romans, Germans or Russians on the scene, whether in history or
  literature, he involuntarily gave the lecturer his attention, and the
  personages and their doings became real to him.
  
  In his second year he made friends with a poor student named Koslov, the
  son of a deacon, who had been sent first of all to a seminary, but had
  taught himself Latin and Greek at home, and thus gained admission to the
  Gymnasium. He zealously studied the life of antiquity, but understood
  nothing of the life going on around him. Raisky felt himself drawn to
  this young man, at first because of his loneliness, his reserve,
  simplicity and kindness; later he discovered in him passion, the sacred
  fire, profundity of comprehension and austerity of thought and delicacy
  of perception--in all that pertained to antiquity. Koslov on his side
  was devoted to Raisky, whose vivacious temperament could not be
  permanently bound by anything. The outcome was the great gift of an
  intimate friendship.
  
  In summer Raisky liked to explore the neighbourhood of Moscow. He
  explored old convents, examined their dark recesses, the blackened
  pictures of the saints and martyrs; his imagination interpreted old
  Russia for him better than the lectures of his professors.
  
  The tsars, monks, warriors and statesmen of the past filed before him as
  they lived and moved. Moscow seemed to him to be a miniature tsardom.
  Here was conflict, here the death punishment was carried out; he saw
  Tatars, Cossacks of the Don. The varied life attracted him.
  
  In spite of obstacles he passed from one course to another at the
  University. He was helped by the reputation for talent he had won by
  certain poems and essays, the subjects of which were drawn from Russian
  history.
  
  "Which service do you mean to enter?" the Dean asked him one day. "In a
  week's time you will be leaving the University. What are you going to
  do?"
  
  Raisky was silent.
  
  "What profession have you selected?"
  
  Raisky almost answered that he meant to be an artist, but he remembered
  in time the reception that this proposition had received from his
  guardian and his aunt. "I shall write verses," he answered in a low tone.
  
  "But that is not a profession. You may write verses and yet...."
  
  "Stories too."
  
  "Naturally, you can write stories as well. You have talent and means to
  develop it. But what profession--profession, I asked."
  
  "For the moment I shall enter the Guards, later on the Civil Service--I
  mean to be a barrister, a governor...."
  
  The Dean smiled. "You begin by being an ensign, that is comprehensible.
  You and Leonid Koslov are exceptions; every other man has made his
  decision."
  
  When Koslov was asked his intentions he replied that he would like to be
  a schoolmaster somewhere in the interior, and from this intention he
  refused to be turned aside.
  
  Raisky moved among the golden youth of St. Petersburg society, first as
  young officer, then as bureaucrat, fulfilled his duties in devotion to
  the beauty of many an Armide, suffering to some degree, and gaining some
  experience in the process. After a time his dreams and his artistic
  consciousness revived. He seemed to see the Volga flowing between its
  steep banks, the shady garden, and the wooded precipice. He abandoned
  the Civil Service in its turn to enter the Academy of Arts. His
  education would never be finished, but he was determined to be a
  creative artist. His aunt scolded him by letter for having left the
  Guards; his guardian advised him to seek a position in the Senate, and
  sent him letters of recommendation.
  
  But Raisky did not enter the Senate, but indolently pursued his artistic
  studies, read a great deal, wrote poems and prose, danced, went into
  society and to the theatre, indulged in wild dissipation, and at the
  same time did some musical composition, and drew a portrait of a lady.
  He would spend one week in dissipation and the next in diligent study at
  the Academy. Life knocked at the door and tore him from his artist's
  dreams to a dissolute existence of alternating pleasure and boredom.
  
  The universal summer exodus from the capital had driven him abroad. But
  one day when he came home he found two letters awaiting him, one from
  Tatiana Markovna, the other from his comrade at the University, Leonid
  Koslov, who had been installed in Raisky's native place as a master in
  the Gymnasium.
  
  During all these years his aunt had often written to him, and sent him
  statements of accounts. His answers were short but affectionate; the
  accounts he tore up without having even looked at them.
  
  "Is it not a sin," she wrote, "to forget an old woman like me, when I am
  all the family you have? But in these days it seems that old people have,
  in the judgment of youth, become superfluous. But I have not even
  leisure to die; I have two grown-up nieces, and until their future is
  settled to my satisfaction, I shall pray God to spare my life--and then
  His will be done. I do not complain that you forget me. But if I were
  not here my little girls, your sisters, would be alone. You are their
  next of kin and their natural protector. Think, too, of the estate. I am
  old, and can no longer be your bailiff. To whom do you intend to entrust
  the estate? The place will be ruined and the estate dissipated. It
  breaks my heart to think that your family silver, bronzes, pictures,
  diamonds, lace, china and glass will come into the hands of the servants,
  or the Jews, or the usurers. So long as your Grandmother lives, you may
  be sure that not a thread goes astray, but after that I can give no
  guarantee. And my two nieces, what is to become of them? Vera is a good,
  sensible, but retiring girl, and does not concern herself with domestic
  matters at all. Marfinka will be a splendid manager, but she is still
  young; although she ought to have been married before now, she is still
  such a child in her ideas, thank God! She will mature with experience,
  and meantime I shelter her. She appreciates this and does nothing
  against her Grandmother's will, for which may God reward her. In the
  house she is a great help, but I do not let her do anything on the
  estate; that is no work for a young girl.
  
  "Do not defer your coming, but gladden your Grandmother's heart. She is
  devoted to you, not merely because of the relationship, but from her
  heart. You were conscious of the sympathy between us when you were a
  child. I don't know what you are in manhood, but you were then a good
  nephew. Come, if only to see your sisters, and perhaps happiness will
  reward your coming. If God grants me the joy of seeing you married and
  laying the estate in your hands I shall die happy. Marry, Borushka; you
  are long since of an age to do so. Then my little girls will still have
  a home. So long as you remain unmarried they cannot live in your house.
  Marry, please your Grandmother, and God will not forsake you. I wait
  your coming; let me know when to expect you.
  
  "Tiet Nikonich desires to be remembered to you. He has aged, but is
  still hale and hearty, he has the same smile, still talks well and has
  such pleasant manners that none of the young dandies can hold a candle
  to him. Bring him, please, a vest and hose of Samian leather; it is worn
  now, I hear, as a specific against rheumatism. It will be a surprise for
  him. I enclose the account for the last two years. Accept my blessing."
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER VI
  
  
  In a _kibitka_ covered with bast, drawn by three lean and sleepy
  nags, Raisky drove slowly to his estate. It was not without agitation
  that he saw the smoke curling up from the chimneys of his own roof, the
  fresh, delicate green of the birches and the limes which overshadowed
  this place of refuge, the gables of the old house and the pale line of
  the Volga now gleaming between the trees and now hidden from view. He
  approached nearer and nearer; now he could see the shimmer of the
  flowers in the garden, the avenues of lime and acacia became visible,
  the old elm emerged, and there, more to the left, lay the orchard. There
  were dogs in the yard, cats sunning themselves, on the roof of the new
  house flocked the pigeon and the swallows flitted around the eaves.
  Behind the house, on the side towards the village, linen lay out to
  bleach. One woman was rolling a cask, the coachman was chopping wood, a
  peasant got into the _telega_ and gathered up the reins--Boris saw
  only unfamiliar faces. But Yakob was there and looked sleepily round.
  One familiar face, but how aged!
  
  Raisky observed the scene intently. He alighted from the _kibitka_,
  and walked along the fence which divided house, yard, garden and park
  from the road, feasting his eyes on the well-remembered prospect, when
  suddenly his eye was caught by an unexpected apparition.
  
  On the verandah, which led down to the garden and was decorated by lemon
  and pomegranate trees in tubs, and with cactus and aloe and flowering
  plants, stood a young girl of about twenty, scattering millet from two
  plates held by a barefooted child of twelve. At her feet were assembled
  hens, turkeys, ducks, pigeons, sparrows and daws. She called to the
  birds to come to breakfast, and cocks, hens and pigeons fell to, looking
  round every moment as if they feared treason, and then again falling to.
  As the morning sun shed a fierce light on the busy group of birds and on
  the young girl herself, Raisky saw her large, dark grey eyes, her round,
  healthy cheeks, her narrow white teeth, her long light-brown tresses
  wound twice round her head, and the strong young breasts rising and
  sinking underneath her white blouse. Her white, slightly tanned neck was
  innocent of collar or scarf. A hasty movement loosened one plait of hair
  over her head and back, but she took no notice, but continued to scatter
  the corn, taking care that all received their share and that sparrows
  and daws did not obtrude too much, and looking as fresh and happy as the
  morning itself.
  
  "Didn't you see the goose?" she asked the little girl in a loud clear
  voice.
  
  "No," answered the child, "it is the cat's fault. Afimua says it will
  die."
  
  "I shall look after it myself. Afimua has no pity."
  Motionless, Raisky watched the scene without his presence being
  suspected. This must be his cousin, and how charming! But which one,
  Veroshka or Marfinka? Without waiting for the _kibitka_ to turn in
  through the gate, he ran forward, and stood before the young girl.
  
  "Cousin," he cried, extending his arms.
  
  In a moment both girls had vanished as if by magic, the sparrows were
  away on the roof, and the pigeons in flight. The servants in the yard
  stopped their work. Raisky looked in amazement on the emptiness and at
  the corn scattered at his feet.
  
  Then he heard in the house bustle, murmurs, movement, the clatter of
  keys, and his aunt's voice, "Where is he?" Her face lighted up when she
  saw Raisky and she opened her arms, to press him to her breast.
  She had aged, but in so even, so healthy a fashion, that there were no
  unwholesome patches, no deep hanging pockets about the eyes and mouth,
  no sadness or gloom in her eyes. Life had not conquered her; she
  conquered life, and only slowly laid down her weapons in the combat. Her
  voice was not so clear as of old, and she leaned on a stick, but she
  made no complaint. She still wore no cap on her short hair. Health and
  kindliness shone from her eyes, and not only from her eyes, from her
  whole figure.
  
  "Borushka, my friend!" Three times she embraced him. Tears stood in her
  eyes. In her embrace, her voice, in the sudden grip of joy, there was
  tenderness, affection, and ardour.
  
  He felt that he was almost a criminal, that he had been playing with his
  emotions and seeking forbidden fruit, wandering homelessly in the world,
  while Nature himself had been preparing for him a nest where sympathy
  and happiness awaited him.
  
  "Marfinka, where are you, come here," cried her grandmother. "She was so
  terrified when she saw you, and terrified me too. Let me look at you,
  Borushka."
  
  She led him to the light and looked at him long and earnestly.
  
  "How ill you look," she said. "But no, you are sunburnt. The moustache
  suits you, why do you grow a beard? Shave it off, Borushka, I can't
  endure it. Ah! grey hairs here and there already. You are beginning to
  age too soon."
  
  "It's not with age, Granny."
  
  "Why then? Are you in good health?"
  
  "I'm well enough. Let us talk of something else. You, thank God, are
  always the same."
  
  "What do you mean?"
  
  "You don't alter a bit, are still as beautiful as ever. I never saw an
  old lady whose age adorned her so."
  
  "Thanks for the compliment, my child. It would be better for you to
  spend your admiration on your sisters. I will whisper the truth to you.
  Two such beauties you will not find in the town, especially the
  other...."
  
  "Where is my other sister?"
  
  "On a visit to the pope's wife on the other side of the Volga. It is a
  pity. The pope's wife has been ill and sent for her, of course just now.
  A messenger shall go."
  
  "No! No! Why should anyone be disturbed on my account?"
  
  "And you have come on your Grandmother so suddenly. We waited, waited,
  in vain. The peasants sat up for you at night, I have just sent Egorka
  on to the highway to look for you and Savili into the town. Now you must
  have your breakfast. Why is it so long in coming? The master has come,
  and there is nothing ready, just as if the house was nothing better than
  a station. Serve what is ready."
  
  "I need nothing, Granny. I am stuffed with food. At one station I drank
  tea, milk at another, and at the third there was a wedding, and I was
  treated to wine, meat and gingerbread."
  
  "You are on your way home to your Grandmother, and are not ashamed to
  eat and drink all sorts of things. Gingerbread in the morning! Marfinka
  ought to have been there; she loves weddings and gingerbread. Come in.
  Marfinka, don't be so shy. She is ashamed because you caught her in her
  morning gown. Come here, darling; he is your brother."
  
  Tea and coffee appeared, and finally breakfast. However much he
  protested Raisky had to eat, for otherwise his aunt's morning would have
  been spoiled.
  
  "Marfinka, come here and entertain us."
  
  After about five minutes the door opened slowly and quietly, and
  Marfinka entered, blushing with confusion and with downcast eyes. At her
  heels followed Vassilissa with a tea-tray full of sweets, preserves,
  cakes, etc. Marfinka stood still, betraying in her confusion a certain
  curiosity. She wore lace at her neck and wrists; her hair was plaited
  firmly around her head and the waist of her barХge dress encircled by a
  blue ribbon.
  
  Raisky threw down his napkin, and jumped up, to stand before her in
  admiration. "How lovely," he cried. "This is my little sister, Marfa
  Vassilievna. And is the goose still alive?"
  
  Marfinka became still more embarrassed, returned his greeting awkwardly,
  and retired to a corner.
  
  "You have both gone mad," interrupted their aunt. "Is that the way to
  greet one another?"
  
  "Marfa Vassilievna," said Raisky, as he sought to kiss Marfinka's hand.
  
  "Vassilievna!" cried Tatiana Markovna. "Don't you love her any more?
  Marfinka, not Marfa Vassilievna! You will be addressing me as Tatiana
  Markovna next! Kiss one another. Are you not brother and sister?"
  
  "I won't, Grandmama. He is teasing me about the goose. It is not polite
  to spy on people," she said severely.
  
  Everybody laughed. Raisky kissed her on both cheeks, embraced her, and
  overcame her confusion. She kissed him in return, and her shyness
  vanished.
  
  "Do you remember, Marfinka, how we used to run about and draw, and how
  you cried?"
  
  "No ... but yes. I do remember as if in a dream."
  
  "How should she remember, when she was only five?" interrupted her aunt.
  
  "But I do, Grandmama, as in a dream."
  
  Raisky had hardly captured his old memories when Marfinka disappeared.
  Soon she returned with sketch books, drawings and toys, and sitting down
  by Raisky in friendly fashion began, "Granny says that I don't remember.
  I remember how you used to draw, and how I sat on your knee. Granny has
  all your drawings, portraits and sketch books. She has kept them all in
  the dark room where the silver, the diamonds and the lace are. She got
  them out, and gave them to me a little time ago, when she heard you were
  coming. Here is my portrait. How funny I looked! And here is Veroshka,
  and Granny, and Vassilissa. Do you remember how you held me, and
  Veroshka sat on your shoulder, and you carried us over the water?"
  
  "Do you remember that too?" asked her aunt. "Boastful child! Veroshka
  said the other day...."
  
  "This is how I draw now," said Marfinka, handing him a drawing of a
  bunch of flowers.
  
  "Splendid, little sister! Is it done from nature?"
  
  "Yes, from nature. I can make wax-flowers, too."
  
  "And do you play or sing?"
  
  "I play the piano."
  
  "And does Veroshka draw and play?"
  
  Marfinka shook her head.
  
  "Does she like needlework? No? Then is she fond of reading?"
  
  "Yes, she reads a great deal. But she does not tell us what she reads,
  nor show us the book, nor even say where she got it."
  
  "She hides herself from everybody, does my strange child," sighed
  Tatiana Markovna. "God only knows what will become of her. Now, Marfinka,
  don't waste your brother's time any longer with your chatter about
  trifles. We will talk about serious matters, about the estate."
  
  The old lady had worn a serious expression while she watched Boris as he
  talked to Marfinka. She recognised his mother's features, but the
  changes in his face did not escape her--the indications of vanishing
  youth, the premature furrows; and she was baffled by the original
  expression of his eyes. Formerly she had always been able to read his
  face, but now there was much inscribed on it that was undecipherable for
  her. Yet his temperament was open and affectionate and his words frankly
  interpreted his thoughts.
  
  Now his aunt stood before him wearing a most business-like expression;
  in her hand were accounts and a ledger.
  
  "Are you not weary with your journey?" she said. "You are yawning and
  perhaps you would like a little sleep. Business can wait till
  to-morrow."
  
  "I slept a good deal on the journey. But you are giving yourself useless
  trouble, Grandmother, for I am not going to look at your accounts."
  
  "What? You have surely come to take over the estate and to ask for an
  account of my stewardship. The accounts and statements that I sent you--"
  
  "I have never even read, Grandmother."
  
  "You haven't read them. I have sent you precise information about your
  income and you don't even know how your money is spent."
  
  "And I don't want to know," answered Raisky, looking out of the window
  away towards the banks of the Volga.
  
  "Imagine, Marfinka," he said, "I remember a verse I learnt as a child--
  
   "'Oh Volga, proudest of rivers,
   Stem thy hurrying flood;
   Oh Volga, hearken, hearken,
   To the ringing song of the poet,
   The unknown, whose life thou hast spared.'"
  
  
  "Don't be vexed with me, Borushka," cried Tatiana Markovna, "but I think
  you are mad. What have you done with the papers I sent you? Have you
  brought them?"
  
  "Where are they?" she continued, as he shook his head.
  
  "Granny, I tore up all the accounts, and I swear I will do the same with
  these if you worry me with them."
  
  He seized the paper, but she snatched them away, exclaiming, "You dare
  to tear up my accounts."
  
  He laughed, suddenly embraced her, and kissed her lips as he had done
  when he was a child. She shook herself free and wiped her mouth.
  
  "I toil till midnight, adding up and writing down every kopek, and he
  tears up my work. That is why you never wrote about money matters, gave
  any orders, made any preparations, or did anything of the kind. Did you
  never think of your estate?"
  
  "Not at all, Granny. I forgot all about it. If I thought at all I
  thought of these rooms in which lives the only woman who loves me and is
  loved by me, you alone in the whole world. And now," he said, turning to
  Marfinka, "I want to win my sisters too."
  
  His aunt took off her spectacles and gazed at him.
  
  "In all my days I have never seen anything like it," she said. "Here the
  only person with no roots like that is Markushka."
  
  "What sort of person is this Markushka. Leonti Koslov writes about him.
  How is Leonti, Granny? I must look him up."
  
  "How should he be? He crouches in one spot with a book, and his wife in
  another. But he does not even see what goes on under his nose, and can
  any good come from his friendship with this Markushka. Only the other
  day your friend came here to complain that that Markushka was destroying
  books from your library. You know, don't you, that the library from the
  old house has been installed in Koslov's house?"
  
  Raisky hummed an air from _"Il Barbiere."_
  
  "You are an extraordinary man," cried his aunt angrily. "Why did you
  come at all? Do talk sensibly."
  
  "I came to see you, Granny, to live here for a little while, to breathe
  freely, to look out over the Volga, to write, to draw...."
  
  "But the estate? If you are not tired we will drive out into the field,
  to look at the sowing of the winter-corn."
  
  "Later on, Granny."
  
  "Will you take over the management of the estate?"
  
  "No, Granny, I will not."
  "Who then is to look after it? I am old and can no longer do all the
  work. Do you wish me to put the estate into strange hands?"
  
  "Farm it yourself, Granny, so long as you take any pleasure in it."
  
  "And if I die?"
  
  "Then leave everything as it is."
  
  Tatiana Markovna looked at the portrait of Raisky's mother, for a long
  time she looked at the languishing eyes, the melancholy smile.
  
  "Yes," she whispered. "I honour the memory of the departed, but hers is
  the fault. She kept you by her side, talked to you, played the piano,
  read out of books and wept as she did so. And this is the result.
  Singing and painting. Now tell me, Borushka," she went on in her
  ordinary tone, "what is to become of the house, of the linen, the silver,
  the diamonds? Shall you order them to be given to the peasants?"
  
  "Do I possess diamonds and silver?"
  
  "How often have I told you so? From your mother you have inherited all
  these things; what is to be done with them. I will show you the
  inventory of them."
  
  "Don't do that, for Heaven's sake. I can believe they are mine. And so I
  can dispose of them as I please?"
  
  "Of course; you are the proprietor. We live here as your guests, though
  we do not eat your bread. See here are my receipts and expenditure," she
  said, thrusting towards another big ledger which he waved away.
  
  "But I believe all you say, Granny," he said. "Send for a clerk and tell
  him to make out a deed, by which I give the house, the land, and all
  that belongs to it to my dear cousins, Veroshka and Marfinka, as dowry."
  The old lady wrinkled her brow, and waited impatiently till he should
  finish speaking. "So long as you live, dear Granny," he continued, "the
  estate naturally remains under your control; the peasants must have
  their freedom...."
  
  "Never," interrupted his aunt, "Veroshka and Marfinka are not
  beggars--each of them has her fifty thousand roubles--and after my death
  three times that sum, perhaps more. All I have is for my little girls,
  and, thank God, I am not a pauper. I have a corner of my own, a bit of
  land, and a roof to cover them. One would think you were a millionaire.
  You make gifts; you will have this, and you won't have that. Here,
  Marfinka! where have you hidden yourself?"
  
  "Directly!" cried Marfinka's clear voice from a neighbouring room. Happy,
  gay, smiling and frank, she fluttered into the room, looked hesitatingly,
  first at Raisky, then at her aunt, who was nearly beside herself.
  
  "Your cousin, Marfinka, is pleased to present you with a house, silver,
  and lace. You are, he thinks, a beggared, dowerless girl. Make a curtsey,
  thank your benefactor, kiss his hand--Well?"
  
  Marfinka, who did not know what to say, squeezed herself flat against
  the stove and looked at her two relatives. Her aunt pushed papers and
  books on one side, crossed her hands over her breast, and looked out of
  the window, while Raisky sat down beside Marfinka, and took her hand.
  
  "Would you like to go away from here, Marfinka, into a strange house,
  perhaps in an altogether different district?"
  
  "God forbid! How could such a thing happen. Who ever imagined such
  nonsense?"
  
  "Granny," laughed Raisky.
  
  Happily "Granny" had not heard the words. Marfinka was embarrassed, and
  looked out of the window.
  
  "Here I have everything I want, the lovely flowers in the garden, the
  birds. Who would look after the birds? I will never go away from here,
  never!"
  
  "But Granny wants to go and take you with her."
  
  "Granny! Where? Why?" she asked her aunt in her caressing, coaxing way.
  
  "Don't tease me," said Tatiana Markovna.
  
  "Marfinka, you don't want to leave home?" asked Boris.
  
  "Not for anything in the world. How could such a thing be?"
  
  "What would Veroshka say about it?"
  
  "She would never be separated from the old house."
  
  "She loves the old house?"
  
  "Yes. She is only happy when she is here. If she were taken away from it
  she would die. We both should."
  
  "That matter is settled then, little sister. You two, Veroshka and you,
  will accept the gift from me, won't you?"
  
  "I will if Veroshka agrees."
  
  "Agreed, dear sister. You are not so proud as Granny," he said, as he
  kissed her forehead.
  
  "What is agreed?" suddenly grumbled Tatiana Markovna. "You have accepted?
  Who told you you might accept? Grandmother will never permit you to live
  at a stranger's expense. Be so kind, Boris Pavlovich, as to take over
  books, accounts, inventories and sales. I am not your paid servant." She
  pushed papers and books towards him.
  
  "Granny!"
  
  "Granny! My name is Tatiana Markovna Berezhkov." She stood up, and
  opened the door into the servants' room. "Send Savili here."
  
  A quarter of an hour later, a peasant of almost forty-five years of age
  opened the door with a casual greeting. He was strongly-built, big boned,
  and was robust, without being fat. His eyes with their overhanging brows
  and wide heavy lids, wasted no idle glances; he neither spoke an
  unnecessary word, nor made a superfluous gesture.
  
  "The proprietor is here," said Tatiana Markovna, indicating Raisky. "You
  must now make your reports to him. He intends to administer the estate
  himself."
  
  Savili looked askance at Raisky.
  
  "At your orders," he said stiffly, slowly raising his eyes. "What orders
  are you pleased to give?" he asked, lowering his eyes again.
  Raisky thought for a moment before he replied:
  
  "Do you know an official who could draw up a document for the transfer
  of the estate?"
  
  "Gavril Ivanov Meshetshnikov draws up the papers we require," he said.
  
  "Send for him."
  
  As Savili bowed, and slowly retired, Raisky followed him with his eyes.
  
  "An anxious rascal," was his comment.
  
  "How should he be other than anxious," said his aunt, "when he is tied
  to a wife like Marina Antipovna? Do you remember Antip? Well, she is his
  daughter. But for his marriage he is a treasure. He does my important
  business, sells the corn, and collects the money. He is honest and
  practical, but fate deals her blows where she will, and every man must
  bear his own burden. But what idea have you in your head now? Are you
  beside yourself?"
  
  "Something must be done. I am going away, and you will not administer
  the estate, so some arrangement must be made."
  
  "And is that your reason for going? I thought you were now going to take
  over the management of your estate. You have done enough gadding about.
  Why not marry and settle here?"
  
  She was visibly struggling with herself. It had never entered her head
  to give up the administration; she would not have known what to do with
  herself. Her idea had been to alarm Raisky, and he was taking her
  seriously.
  
  "What is to be done?" she said. "I will see after the estate as long as
  I have the strength to do so. How else should you live, you strange
  creature?"
  
  "I receive two thousand roubles from my other estate, and that is a
  sufficient income. I want to work, to draw, to write, to travel for a
  little; and for that purpose I might mortgage or sell the other estate."
  
  "God bless you, Borushka, what next? Are you so near beggary? You talk
  of drawing, writing, alienating your land; next it will be giving
  lessons or school teaching. Instead of arriving with four horses and a
  travelling carriage you sneak in, without a servant, in a miserable
  _kibitka_, you, a Raisky. Look at the old house, at the portraits
  of your ancestors, and take shame to yourself. Shame, Borushka! How
  splendid it would have been if you had come epauletted like Sergei
  Ivanovich, and had married a wife with a dowry of three thousand souls."
  
  Raisky burst out laughing.
  
  "Why laugh? I am speaking seriously when I tell you what a joy it would
  have been for your Grandmother. Then you would have wanted the lace and
  the silver, and not be flinging it away."
  
  "But as I am not marrying, I don't need these things. Therefore it is
  settled that Veroshka and Marfinka shall have them."
  
  "Your decision is final?"
  
  "It is final. And it is further settled that if you do not like this
  arrangement, everything passes into the hands of strangers. You have my
  word for it."
  
  "Your word for it," cried his aunt. "You are a lost man. Where have you
  lived, and what have you done. Tell me, for Heaven's sake, what your
  purpose in life is, and what you really are?"
  
  "What I am, Grandmother? The unhappiest of men!" He leaned his head back
  on the cushion as he spoke.
  
  "Never say such a thing," she interrupted. "Fate hears and exacts the
  penalty, and you will one day be unhappy. Either be content or feign
  content."
  
  She looked anxiously round, as if Fate were already standing at her
  shoulder.
  
  Raisky rose from the divan.
  
  "Let us be reconciled," he said. "Agree to keep this little corner of
  God's earth under your protection."
  
  "It is an estate, not a 'corner.'"
  
  "Resign yourself to my gift of this old stuff to the dear girls. A
  lonely man like me has no use for it, but they will be mistresses of a
  house. If you don't agree, I will present it to the school...."
  
  "The school-children! Those rascals who steal our apples, shall not have
  it."
  
  "Come to the point, Granny! You don't really want to leave this nest in
  your old age."
  
  "We'll see, we'll see. Give them the lace on their wedding-day. I can do
  nothing with you; talk to Tiet Nikonich who is coming to dinner." And
  she wondered what would come of such strangeness.
  
  Raisky took his cap to go out, and Marfinka went with him. She showed
  him the park, her own garden, the vegetable and flower gardens, and the
  arbours. When they came to the precipice she looked anxiously over the
  edge, and drew back with a shudder. Raisky looked down on the Volga,
  which was in flood, and had overflowed into the meadows. In the distance
  were ships which appeared to be motionless, and above hung heaped banks
  of cloud. Marfinka drew closer to Raisky, and looked down indifferently
  on the familiar picture.
  
  "Come down!" he said suddenly, and seized her hand.
  
  "No, I am afraid," she answered trembling, and drew back.
  
  "I won't let you fall. Do you think I can't take care of you?"
  
  "Not at all, but I am afraid. Veroshka has no fear, but goes down alone,
  even in the dusk. Although a murderer lies buried there, she is not
  afraid."
  
  "Try, shut your eyes, and give me your hand. You will see how carefully
  I take you down."
  
  Marfinka half closed her eyes, but she had hardly taken his hand and
  made one step, when she found herself standing on the edge of the
  precipice. Shuddering she withdrew her hand.
  
  "I would not go down for anything in the world," she cried as she ran
  back. "Where are you going to!"
  
  No answer reached her. She approached the edge and looked timidly over.
  She saw how the bushes were bent noisily aside, as Raisky sprang down,
  step by step. How horrible! she thought as she returned to the house.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER VII
  
  
  Raisky went nearly all round the town, and when he climbed the cliffs
  once more, he was on the extreme boundary of his estate. A steep path
  led down to the suburbs, and the town lay before him as in the palm of a
  hand. Stirred with the passion aroused by his memories of childhood, he
  looked at the rows of houses, cottages and huts. It was not a town, but,
  like other towns, a cemetery. Going from street to street, Raisky saw
  through the windows, how in one house the family sat at dinner, and in
  another the amovar had already been brought in. In the empty streets,
  every conversation could be heard a _verst_ away; voices and
  footsteps re-echoed on the wooden pavement. It seemed to Raisky a
  picture of dreamy peace, the tranquillity of the grave. What a frame for
  a novel, if only he knew what to put in the novel. The houses fell into
  their places in the picture that filled his mind, he drew in the faces
  of the towns-people, grouped the servants with his aunt, the whole
  composition centring in Marfinka. The figures stood sharply outlined in
  his mind; they lived and breathed. If the image of passion should float
  over this motionless sleeping little world, the picture would glow with
  the enchanting colour of life. Where was he to find the passion, the
  colour?
  
  "Passion!" he repeated to himself. If her burning fire could but be
  poured out upon him, and engulf the artist in her destroying waves.
  
  As he moved forward he remembered that his stroll had an aim. He
  wondered how Leonid Koslov was, whether he had changed, or whether he
  had remained what he had been before, a child for all his learning. He
  too was a good subject for an artist. Raisky thought of Leonti's
  beautiful wife, whose acquaintance he had made during his student days
  in Moscow, when she was a young girl. She used to call Leonti her fiancИ,
  without any denial on his part, and five years after he had left the
  University he made the journey to Moscow, and married her. He loved his
  wife as a man loves air and warmth; absorbed in the life and art of the
  ancients, his lover's eyes saw in her the antique ideal of beauty. The
  lines of her neck and bosom charmed him, and her head recalled to him
  Roman heads seen on bas-reliefs and cameos.
  
  Leonti did not recognise Raisky, when his friend suddenly entered his
  study.
  
  "I have not the honour," he began.
  
  But when Boris Pavlovich opened his lips he embraced him.
  
  "Wife! Ulinka!" he cried into the garden. "Come quickly, and see who has
  come to see us."
  
  She came hastily, and kissed Raisky.
  
  "What a man you have grown, and how much more handsome you are!" she
  said, her eyes flashing.
  
  Her eyes, her mien, her whole figure betrayed audacity. Just over thirty
  years old, she gave the impression of a splendidly developed specimen of
  blooming womanhood.
  
  "Have you forgotten me?" she asked.
  
  "How should he forget you?" broke in Leonti. "But Ulinka is right. You
  have altered, and are hardly recognisable with your beard. How delighted
  your Aunt must have been to see you."
  
  "Ah! his Aunt!" remarked Juliana Andreevna in a tone of displeasure. "I
  don't like her."
  
  "Why not?"
  
  "She is despotic and censorious."
  
  "Yes, she is a despot," answered Raisky. "That comes from intercourse
  with serfs. Old customs!"
  
  "According to Tatiana Markovna," continued Juliana Andreevna, "everybody
  should stay on one spot, turn his head neither to right nor left, and
  never exchange a word with his neighbours. She is a past mistress in
  fault-finding; nevertheless she and Tiet Nikonich are inseparable, he
  spends his days and nights with her."
  
  Raisky laughed and said, "She is a saint nevertheless, whatever you may
  find to say about her."
  
  "A saint perhaps, but nothing is right for her. Her world is in her two
  nieces, and who knows how they will turn out? Marfinka plays with her
  canaries and her flowers, and the other sits in the corner like the
  family ghost, and not a word can be got from her. We shall see what will
  become of her."
  
  "Veroshka? I haven't seen her yet. She is away on a visit on the other
  side of the Volga."
  
  "And who knows what her business is there?"
  
  "I love my Aunt as if she were my Mother," said Raisky emphatically.
  "She is wise, honourable, just! She has strength and individuality, and
  there is nothing commonplace about her."
  
  "You will believe everything she says?" asked Juliana Andreevna, drawing
  him away to the window, while Leonti collected the scattered papers,
  laid them in cupboards and put the books on the shelves.
  
  "Yes, everything," she said.
  
  "Don't believe her. I know she will tell you all sorts of
  nonsense--about Monsieur Charles."
  
  "Who is he?"
  
  "A Frenchman, a teacher, and a colleague of my husband's. They sit there
  reading till all hours. How can I help it? Yet God knows what they make
  out of it in the town, as if I.... Don't believe it," she went on, as she
  saw Raisky was silent. "It is idle talk, there is nothing," she
  concluded, with a false smile intended to be allowing.
  
  "What business is it of mine?" returned Raisky, turning away from her.
  "Shall we go into the garden?"
  
  "Yes, we will have dinner outside," said Leonti. "Serve what there is,
  Ulinka. Come, Boris, now we can talk." Then as an idea struck him, he
  added, "What shall you have to say to me about the library?"
  
  "About what library? You wrote to me about it, but I did not understand
  what you were talking about. I think you said some person called Mark,
  had been tearing the books."
  
  "You cannot imagine, Boris, how vexed I was about it," he said as he
  took down some books with torn backs from the shelves.
  
  Raisky pushed the books away. "What does it matter to me?" he said. "You
  are like my grandmother; she bothers me about accounts, you about
  books."
  
  "But Boris, I don't know what accounts she bothered you about, but these
  books are your most precious possession. Look!" he said, pointing with
  pride to the rows of books which filled the study to the ceiling.
  
  "Only on this shelf nearly everything is ruined by that accursed Mark!
  The other books are all right. See, I drew up a catalogue, which took
  a whole year to do," and he pointed self-consciously to a thick bound
  volume of manuscript. "I wrote it all with my own hand," he continued.
  "Sit down, Boris, and read out the names. I will get on the ladder, and
  show you the books; they are arranged according to their numbers."
  
  "What an idea!"
  
  "Or better wait till after dinner; we shall not be able to finish
  before."
  
  "Listen, should you like to have a library like that?" asked Raisky.
  
  "I!--a library like that?"
  
  Sunshine blazed from Leonti's eyes, he smiled so broadly that even the
  hair on his brow stirred with the dislocation caused. "A library like
  that?" He shook his head. "You must be mad."
  
  "Tell me, do you love me as you used to do?"
  
  "Why do you ask? Of course."
  
  "Then the books shall be yours for good and all, under one condition."
  
  "I--take these books!"
  
  Leonti looked now at the books, now at Raisky, then made a gesture of
  refusal, and sighed.
  
  "Do not laugh at me, Boris! Don't tempt me."
  
  "I am not joking."
  
  Here Juliana Andreevna, who had heard the last words, chimed in with,
  "Take what is given you."
  
  "She is always like that," sighed Leonti. "On feast days the tradesmen
  come with presents, and on the eve of the examinations the parents. I
  send them away, but my wife receives them at the side door. She looks
  like Lucretia, but she has a sweet tooth, a dainty one."
  
  Raisky laughed, but Juliana Andreevna was annoyed.
  
  "Go to your Lucretia," she said indifferently. "He compares me with
  everybody. One day I am Cleopatra, then Lavinia, then Cornelia. Better
  take the books when they are offered you. Boris Pavlovich will give them
  to me."
  
  "Don't take it on yourself to ask him for gifts," commanded Leonti. "And
  what can we give him? Shall I hand you over to him, for instance?" he
  added as he embraced her.
  
  "Splendid! Take me, Boris Pavlovich," she cried, throwing a sparkling
  glance at him.
  
  "If you don't take the books, Leonti," said Raisky, "I will make them
  over to the Gymnasium. Give me the catalogue, and I'll send it to the
  Director to-morrow."
  
  He put his hand out for the catalogue, of which Leonti kept a tight hold.
  
  "The Gymnasium shall never get one of them," he cried. "You don't know
  the Director, who cares for books just about as much as I do for perfume
  and pomade. They will be destroyed, torn, and worse handled than by
  Mark."
  
  "Then take them."
  
  "To give away such treasures all in a minute. It would be comprehensible
  if you were selling them to responsible hands. I have never wanted so
  much to be rich. I would give five thousand. I cannot accept, I cannot.
  You are a spendthrift, or rather a blind, ignorant child--"
  
  "Many thanks."
  
  "I didn't mean that," cried Leonti in confusion. "You are an artist; you
  need pictures, statues, music; and books are nothing to you. Besides,
  you don't know what treasures you possess; after dinner I will show
  you."
  
  "Well, in the afternoon, instead of drinking coffee, you will go over
  with the books to the Gymnasium for me."
  
  "Wait, Boris, what was the condition on which you would give me the
  books. Will you take instalments from my salary for them? I would sell
  all I have, pledge myself and my wife."
  
  "No, thank you," broke in Juliana Andreevna, "I can pledge or sell
  myself if I want to."
  
  Leonti and Raisky looked at one another.
  
  "She does not think before she speaks," said Leonti. "But tell me what
  the condition is."
  
  "That you never mention these books to me again, even if Mark tears them
  to pieces."
  
  "Do you mean I am not to let him have access to them?"
  
  "He is not likely to ask you," put in Juliana Andreevna. "As if that
  monster cared for what you may say."
  
  "How Ulinka loves me," said Leonti to Raisky. "Would that every woman
  loved her husband like that."
  
  He embraced her. She dropped her eyes, and the smile died from her face.
  
  "But for her you would not see a single button on my clothes," continued
  Leonti. "I eat and sleep comfortably, and our household goes on evenly
  and placidly. However small my means are she knows how to make them
  provide for everything." She raised her eyes, and looked at them, for
  the last statement was true. "It's a pity," continued Leonti, "that she
  does not care about books. She can chatter French fast enough, but if
  you give her a book, she does not understand half of it. She still
  writes Russian incorrectly. If she sees Greek characters, she says they
  would make a good pattern for cotton printing, and sets the book upside
  down. And she cannot even read a Latin title."
  
  "That will do. Not another word about the books. Only on that condition,
  I don't send them to the Gymnasium. Now let us sit down to table, or I
  shall go to my Grandmother's, for I am famished."
  
  "Do you intend to spend your whole life like this?" asked Raisky as he
  was sitting after dinner alone with Leonti in the study.
  
  "Yes, what more do I need?"
  
  "Have you no desires, does nothing call you away from this place, have
  you no longings for freedom and space, and don't you feel cramped in
  this narrow frame of hedge, church spire and house, under your very
  nose?"
  
  "Have I so little to look at under my nose?" asked Leonti, pointing to
  the books. "I have books, pupils, and in addition a wife and peace of
  heart, isn't that enough?"
  
  "Are books life? This old trash has a great deal to answer for. Men
  strive forwards, seek to improve themselves, to cleanse their
  conceptions, to drive away the mist, to meet the problems of society by
  justice, civilisation, orderly administration, while you instead of
  looking at life, study books."
  
  "What is not to be found in books is not to be found in life either, or
  if there is anything it is of no importance," said Leonti firmly. "The
  whole programme of public and private life lies behind us; we can find
  an example for everything."
  
  "You are still the same old student, Leonti, always worrying about what
  has been experienced in the past, and never thinking of what you
  yourself are."
  
  "What I am! I am a teacher of the classics. I am as deeply concerned
  with the life of the past, as you with ideals and figures. You are an
  artist. Why should you wonder that certain figures are dear to me? Since
  when have artists ceased to draw water from the wells of the ancients?"
  
  "Yes, an artist," said Raisky, with a sigh. He pointed to his head and
  breast. "Here are figures, notes, forms, enthusiasm, the creative
  passion, and as yet I have done almost nothing."
  
  "What restrains you? You are now painting, you wrote me, a great picture,
  which you mean to exhibit."
  
  "The devil take the great pictures. I shall hardly be able to devote my
  whole energy to painting now. One must put one's whole being into a
  great picture, and then to give effect to one hundredth part of what one
  has put in a representation of a fleeting, irrecoverable impression.
  Sometimes I paint portraits...."
  
  "What art are you following now?"
  
  "There is but one Art that can satisfy the artist of to-day, the art of
  words, of poetry, which is limitless in its possibilities."
  
  "You write verses then?"
  
  "Verses are children's food. In verse you celebrate a love affair, a
  festival, flowers, a nightingale."
  
  "And satire. Remember the use made of it by the Romans."
  
  With these words he would have gone to the bookshelf, but Raisky held
  him back. "You may," he said, "be able now and then to hit a diseased
  spot with satire. Satire is a rod, whose stroke stings but has no
  further consequences; but she does not show you figures brimming with
  life, she does not reveal the depths of life with its secret mainsprings
  of action, she holds no mirror before your eyes. It is only the novel
  that comprehends and mirrors the life of man."
  
  "So you are writing a novel? On what subject?"
  
  "I have not yet quite decided."
  
  "Don't at all events describe this pettifogging, miserable existence
  which stares us in the face without the medium of art. Our contemporary
  literature squeezes every worm, every peasant-girl, and I don't know
  what else, into the novel. Choose a historical subject, worthy of your
  vivacious imagination and your clean-cut style. Do you remember how you
  used to write of old Russia? Now it is the fashion to choose material
  from the ant-heap, the talking shop of everyday life. This is to be the
  stuff of which literature is made. Bah! it is the merest journalism."
  
  "There we are again on the old controversy. If you once mount that horse,
  there will be no calling you back. Let us leave this question for the
  moment, and go back to my question. Are you satisfied to spend your life
  here, as you are now doing, with no desires for anything further?"
  
  Leonti looked at him in astonishment, with wide opened eyes.
  
  "You do nothing for your generation," Raisky went on, "but creep
  backwards like a crab. Why are you for ever talking of the Greeks and
  Romans? Their work is done, and ours is to bring life into these
  cemeteries, to shake the slumbering ghosts out of their twilight
  dreams."
  
  "And how is the task to be begun?"
  
  "I mean to draw a picture of this existence, to reflect it as in a
  mirror. And you...."
  
  "I too accomplish something. I have prepared several boys for the
  University," remarked Leonti with hesitation, for he was not sure
  whether this was meritorious or not. "You imagine that I go into my
  class, then home, and forget about everything. That is not the case.
  Young people gather round me, attach themselves to me, and I show them
  drawings of old buildings, utensils, make sketches and give explanations,
  as I once did for you. What I know myself I communicate to others,
  explain the ancient ideals of virtue, expound classical life, just as
  our own classics are explained. Is that no longer essential?"
  
  "Certainly it has its advantage. But it has nothing to do with real life.
  One cannot live like that to-day. So much has disappeared, so many
  things have arisen that the Greeks and Romans never knew. But we need
  models from contemporary life, we must educate ourselves and others to
  be men. That is our task."
  
  "No, I do not take that upon my shoulders; it is sufficient for one to
  take the models of ancient virtue from books. I myself live for and
  through myself. You see I live quietly and modestly, eat my vermicelli
  soup...."
  
  "Life for and through yourself is not life at all, it is a passive
  condition, and man is a fighting animal."
  
  "I have already told you that I do my duty and do not interfere in
  anybody else's business; and no one interferes with mine."
  
  "Life's arm is long, and will not spare even you. And how will you meet
  her blows--unprepared."
  
  "What has Life to do with a humble man like me? I shall pass unnoticed.
  I have books, although they are not mine," he said glancing hesitatingly
  at Raisky, "but you give me free use of them. My needs are small, I feel
  no boredom. I have a wife who loves me...."
  
  Raisky looked away.
  
  "And," he added in a whisper, "I love her."
  
  It was plain that as his mind nourished itself on the books, so his
  heart had found a warm refuge; he himself did not even know what bound
  him to life and books, and did not guess that he might keep his books
  and lose his life, and that his life would be maimed if his "Roman head"
  was stolen from him.
  
  Happy child, thought Raisky. In his learned sleep he does not notice the
  darkness that is hidden in that dear Roman head, nor how empty the
  woman's heart is. He is helpless as far as she is concerned, and will
  never convince her of the virtues of the ancient ideals.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER VIII
  
  
  The sun was setting when Raisky returned home, and was received at the
  door by Marfinka.
  
  "Where did you get lost, Cousin?" she asked him. "Grandmother is very
  angry, and is grumbling...."
  
  "I was with Leonti," returned Raisky indifferently.
  
  "I thought so, and told Grandmother so, but she won't listen and will
  hardly speak even to Tiet Nikonich. He is with her now and Paulina
  Karpovna too. Go to Grandmother, and it will be all right. Are you
  afraid. Does your heart beat fast?"
  
  Raisky had to laugh.
  
  "She is very angry. We had prepared so many dishes."
  
  "We will eat them up for supper."
  
  "Will you? Grandmother, Grandmother," she cried happily, "Cousin has
  come and wants his supper."
  
  His aunt sat severely there, and did not look up when Raisky entered.
  Tiet Nikonich embraced him. He received an elegant bow from Paulina
  Karpovna, an elaborately got-up person of forty-five in a low cut muslin
  gown, with a fine lace handkerchief and a fan, which she kept constantly
  in motion although there was no heat.
  
  "What a man you have grown! I should hardly have known you," said Tiet
  Nikonich, beaming with kindness and pleasure.
  
  "He has grown very, very handsome," said Paulina Karpovna Kritzki.
  
  "You have not altered, Tiet Nikonich," remarked Raisky. "You have hardly
  aged at all, and are as gay, as fresh, as kind and amiable...."
  
  "Thank God! there is nothing worse than rheumatism the matter with me,
  and my digestion is no longer quite as good as it was. That is age, age.
  But how glad I am that you, our guest, have arrived in such good spirits.
  Tatiana Markovna was anxious about you. You will be staying here for
  some time?"
  
  "Of course you will spend the summer with us," said Paulina Karpovna.
  "Here is nature, and fine air, and so many people are interested in
  you."
  
  He looked at her askance, and said nothing.
  
  "Do you remember me?" she asked. Boris's aunt noticed with displeasure
  that Paulina Karpovna was ogling her nephew.
  
  "No, I must confess I forgot."
  
  "Yes, impressions are quickly forgotten in the capital," she said in
  a languishing tone. She looked him up and down and then added, "What an
  admirable travelling suit."
  
  "That reminds me I am still in my travelling clothes. Egor must be sent
  for and must take my clothes and linen out of the trunk. For you, Granny,
  and for you, my dear sisters, I have brought some small things for
  remembrance."
  
  Marfinka grew crimson with pleasure.
  
  "Granny, where are you going to put me up?"
  
  "The house belongs to you. Where you will," she returned coldly.
  
  "Don't be angry, Granny," he laughed. "It won't happen twice."
  
  "You may laugh, you may laugh, Boris Pavlovich. Here, in the presence of
  our guests, I tell you you have behaved badly. You have hardly put your
  nose inside the house, and straightway vanish. That is an insult to your
  Grandmother."
  
  "Surely, Granny, we shall be together every day. I have been visiting an
  old friend, and we forgot ourselves in talking."
  
  "Cousin Boris did not do it on purpose, Granny," said Marfinka. "Leonti
  Ivanovich is so good."
  
  "Please be silent when you are not addressed. You are too young to
  contradict your Grandmother, who knows what she is saying."
  
  Smilingly Marfinka drew back into her corner.
  
  "No doubt Juliana Andreevna was able to entertain you better, and knows
  better than I how to entertain a Petersburger. What friccassee did she
  give you?" asked his aunt, not without a little real curiosity.
  
  "Vermicelli soup, pastry with cabbage, then beef and potatoes."
  
  Tatiana Markovna laughed ironically, "Vermicelli soup and beef!"
  
  "And groats in the pan...."
  
  "It's a long time since you tasted such delicacies."
  
  "Excellent dishes," said Tiet Nikonich kindly, "but heavy for the
  digestion."
  
  "To-morrow, Marfinka," said the old lady, "we will entertain our guest
  with a gosling, pickled pork, carrots, and perhaps with a goose."
  
  "A goose, stuffed with groats, would be acceptable," put in Raisky.
  
  "Indigestible!" protested Tiet Nikonich. "The best is a light soup, with
  pearl barley, a cutlet, pastries and jelly; that is the proper midday
  meal."
  
  "But I should like groats."
  
  "Do you like mushrooms too, Cousin?" asked Marfinka. "Because we have so
  many."
  
  "Rather! Can't we have them for supper tonight?"
  
  In spite of Tiet Nikonich's caution against this heavy food, Tatiana
  Markovna sent Marfinka to Peter and to the cook to order mushrooms for
  supper.
  
  "If there is any champagne in the cellar, Granny, let us have a bottle
  up. Tiet Nikonich and I would like to drink your health. Isn't that so,
  Tiet Nikonich?"
  
  "Yes, to celebrate your arrival, though mushrooms and champagne are
  indigestible."
  
  "Tell the cook to bring champagne on ice, Marfinka," said the old lady.
  
  _"Ce que femme veut,"_ said Tiet Nikonich amiably, with a slight
  bow.
  
  "Supper is a special occasion, but one ought to dine at home too. You
  have vexed your Grandmother by going out on the very day of your
  return."
  
  "Ah, Tatiana Markovna," sighed Paulina Karpovna, "our ways here are so
  bourgeois, but in the capital...."
  
  The old lady's eyes blazed, as she pointed to the wall where hung the
  portraits of Raisky's and the young girls' parents, and exclaimed:
  "There was nothing bourgeois about those, Paulina Karpovna."
  
  "Granny," said Raisky, "let us allow one another absolute freedom. I am
  now making up for my absence at midday, and shall be here all night. But
  I can't tell where I shall dine to-morrow, or where I shall sleep."
  
  Paulina Karpovna could not refrain from applauding, but his aunt looked
  at him with amazement, and inquired if he were really a gipsy.
  
  "Monsieur Raisky is a poet, and poets are as free as air," remarked
  Paulina Karpovna. Again she made play with her eyes, shifted the pointed
  toes of her shoes in an effort to arouse Raisky's attention. The more
  she twisted and turned, the more icy was his indifference, for her
  presence made an uncomfortable impression on him. Marfinka observed the
  by-play and smiled to herself.
  
  "You have two houses, land, peasants, silver and glass, and talk of
  wandering about from one shelter to another like a beggar, like
  Markushka, the vagrant."
  
  "Markushka again! I must certainly make his acquaintance."
  
  "No, don't do that and add to your Grandmother's anxieties. If you see
  him, make your escape."
  
  "But why?"
  
  "He will lead you astray."
  
  "That's of no consequence, Grandmother. It looks as if he were an
  interesting individual, doesn't it, Tiet Nikonich?"
  
  "He is a riddle to everybody," Tiet Nikonich answered with a smile. "He
  must have gone astray very early in life, but he has apparently good
  brains and considerable knowledge, and might have been a useful member
  of society."
  
  Paulina Karpovna turned her head away, and dismissed Mark with the
  criticism, "No manners."
  
  "Brains! You bought his brains for three hundred roubles. Has he repaid
  them?" asked Tatiana Markovna.
  
  "I did not remind him of his debt. But to me he is, for the matter of
  that, almost polite."
  
  "That is to say he does not strike you, or shoot in your direction. Just
  imagine, Boris, that he nearly shot Niel Andreevich."
  
  "His dogs tore my train," complained Paulina Karpovna.
  
  "Did he never visit you unceremoniously at dinner again?" Tatiana
  Markovna asked Tiet Nikonich.
  
  "No, you don't like me to receive him, so I refuse him admission. He
  once came to me at night," he went on, addressing Raisky. "He had been
  out hunting, and had eaten nothing for twenty-four hours. I gave him
  food, and we passed the time very pleasantly."
  
  "Pleasantly!" exclaimed Tatiana Markovna. "How can you say such things?
  If he came to me at that hour, I would settle him. No, Boris Pavlovich,
  live like other decent people. Stay with us, have dinner with us, go out
  with us, keep suspicious people at a distance, see how I administer your
  estate, and find fault if I do anything wrong."
  
  "That is so monotonous, Grandmother. Let us rather live each one after
  his own ideas and inclinations."
  
  "You are an exception," sighed his aunt.
  
  "No, Grandmother, it is you who are an exceptional woman. Why should we
  bother about one another."
  
  "To please your Grandmother."
  
  "Why don't you want to please your Grandson? You are a despot,
  Grandmother."
  
  "A despot! Boris Pavlovich, I have waited anxiously for you, I have
  hardly slept, have tried to have everything as you liked it."
  
  "But you did all that because activity is a pleasure to you. All this
  care and trouble is a pleasant stimulant, keeps you busy. If Markushka
  came to you, you would receive him in the same fashion."
  
  "You are right, Cousin," broke in Marfinka. "Grandmother is kindness
  itself, but she tries to disguise it."
  
  "Don't give your opinion when it is not asked. She contradicts her
  Grandmother only when you are here, Boris Pavlovich; at other times she
  is modest enough. And now the ideas she suddenly takes into her head. I?
  entertain Markushka!"
  
  "You did as you pleased," continued Raisky. "And then when it entered my
  head too to do as I pleased, I disturbed your arrangements and made a
  breach in your despotism. Isn't that so, Granny? And now kiss me, and we
  will give one another full liberty."
  
  "What a strange boy? Do you hear, Tiet Nikonich, what nonsense he
  talks."
  
  On that evening Tatiana Markovna and Raisky concluded, if not peace, at
  least a truce. She was assured that Boris loved and esteemed her; she
  was, in truth, easily convinced. After supper Raisky unpacked his trunk,
  and brought down his gifts; for his aunt, a few pounds of excellent tea,
  of which she was a connoisseur, a coffee machine of a new kind, with a
  coffee-pot, and a dark brown silk dress; bracelets with monograms for
  his cousins; and for Tiet Nikonich vest and hose of Samian leather, as
  his aunt had desired.
  
  Tatiana Markovna, with tears in her eyes, sat down beside him, and
  putting her hand on his shoulder said, "And you remembered me?"
  
  "Whom else should I remember? You are my nearest and dearest,
  Grandmother."
  
  When Tiet Nikonich and Paulina Karpovna took leave, the lady said that
  she had left orders with no one to fetch her, and that she hoped someone
  would accompany her, looking towards Raisky as she spoke. Tiet Nikonich
  expressed himself ready to see her home.
  
  "Egorka could have taken her," whispered Tatiana Markovna. "Why didn't
  she stay at home; she was not invited."
  
  "Thank you, thank you," said Paulina Karpovna to Raisky as she passed
  him.
  
  "What for?" asked Raisky in amazement.
  
  "For the pleasant, witty conversation, although it was not directed to
  me. What pleasure it gave me!"
  
  "A practical conversation about groats, a goose, and a quarrel with
  Grandmother."
  
  "Ah, I understand," she continued, "but I caught two glances, which were
  intended for me, confess they were. I am filled with hope and
  expectation."
  
  As she went out Raisky asked Marfinka what she was talking about.
  
  "She's always like that," laughed Marfinka.
  
  Tatiana Markovna followed Raisky to his room, smoothed the sheets of his
  bed once more, drew the curtains so that the sun should not awaken him
  in the morning, felt the feather bed to test its softness, and had a jug
  of water placed on the table beside him. She came back three times to
  see if he were asleep or wanted anything. Touched by so much kindly
  thought he recognised that his grandmother's activity was not only
  exerted to gratify herself.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER IX
  
  
  The days passed quietly by. Every morning the sun climbed up through the
  blue air, and lighted up the Volga and its banks. At midday the snowy
  clouds crept up, often piled one on another until the blue sky was
  hidden, and the cooling rain fell on woods and fields; then once more
  the clouds stole away before the approach of the warm, pleasant evening.
  
  Life at Malinovka passed just as peacefully. The naivetИ of the
  surroundings had not yet lost its charm for Raisky. The sunshine
  insinuating itself everywhere, his aunt's kind face, Marfinka's
  friendliness, and the willing attention of the servants made up a
  pleasant, friendly environment. He even felt pleasure in the watchful
  guardianship that his aunt exercised over him; he smiled when she
  preached order to him, warned him of crime and temptation, reproached
  him for his gipsy tendencies and tried to lead him to a definite plan of
  life.
  
  He liked Tiet Nikonich, and saw in his courtesy and his extreme good
  manners, his care for his health, and the universal esteem and affection
  in which he was held, a survival from the last century. When he felt
  very good tempered he found even Paulina Karpovna's eccentricities
  amusing. She had induced him to lunch with her one day, when she assured
  him that she was not indifferent to him, and that he himself was on the
  eve of returning her sentiments!
  
  The even, monotonous life lulled him like a cradle song. He wrote idly
  at his novel, strengthened a situation here, grouped a scene there, or
  accentuated a character. He watched his aunt, Leonti and his wife, and
  Marfinka, or looked at the villages and fields lying in an enchanted
  sleep along the banks of the Volga. In this ocean of silence he caught
  notes which he could interpret in terms of music, and determined, in his
  abundant leisure, to pursue the subject.
  
  One day, after a lonely walk along the shore, he climbed the cliff, and
  passed Koslov's house. Seeing that the windows were lighted, he was
  going up to the door, when suddenly he heard someone climb over the
  fence and jump down into the garden. Standing in the shadow of the fence,
  Raisky hesitated. He was afraid to sound the alarm until he knew whether
  it was a thief or an admirer of Juliana Andreevna's, some Monsieur
  Charles or other. However, he decided to pursue the intruder, and
  promptly climbed the fence and followed him. The man stopped before a
  window and hammered on the pane.
  
  "That is no thief, possibly Mark," thought Raisky. He was right.
  
  "Philosopher, open! Quick!" cried the intruder.
  
  "Go round to the entrance," said Leonti's voice dully through the glass.
  
  "To the entrance, to wake the dog! Open!"
  
  "Wait!" said Leonti, and as he opened the window Mark swung himself into
  the room.
  
  "Who is that behind you. Whom have you brought with you?" asked Leonti
  in terror.
  
  "No one. Do you imagine there's a ghost. Ah! there is someone scrambling
  up."
  
  "Boris, you? How did you happen to arrive together," he exclaimed as
  Raisky sprang into the room.
  
  Mark cast a hasty glance on Boris and turned to Leonti. "Give me another
  pair of trousers. Have you any wine in the house?
  
  "What's the matter, and where have you been?" asked Leonti suddenly, who
  had just noticed that Mark was covered up to the waist with wet and
  slime.
  
  "Give me another pair of trousers quick," said Mark impatiently. "What
  is the good of chattering?"
  
  "I have no wine, because we drank it all at dinner, when Monsieur
  Charles was our guest."
  
  "Where do you keep your clothes?"
  
  "My wife is asleep and I don't know; you must ask Avdotya."
  
  "Fool! I will find them myself!"
  
  He took a light, and went into the next room.
  
  "You see what he is like," sighed Leonti, addressing Raisky.
  
  After about ten minutes, Mark returned with the trousers and Leonti
  questioned him as to how he had got wet through.
  
  "I was crossing the Volga in a fishing-boat. The ass of a fisherman fell
  asleep, and brought us right up into the reeds by the island, and we had
  to get out among the reeds to extricate the boat."
  
  Without taking any heed of Raisky, he changed his trousers and sat down
  with his feet drawn up under him in the great armchair, so that his
  knees were on a level with his face, and he supported his bearded chin
  upon them.
  
  Raisky observed him silently. Mark was twenty-seven, built as if his
  muscles were iron, and well proportioned; a thick mane of light brown
  hair framed his pale face with its high arched forehead, and fell in
  long locks on his neck. The full beard was paler in colour. His open,
  bold, irregular, rather thin face was illuminated every now and then by
  a smile--of which it was hard to read the meaning; one could not tell
  whether it spelt vexation, mockery or pleasure. His grey eyes could be
  bold and commanding, but for the most part wore a cold expression of
  contempt. Tied up in a knot as he was, he now sat motionless with
  staring eyes, stirring neither hand nor foot.
  
  There was something restless and watchful in the motionless attitude, as
  in that of a dog apparently at rest, but ready to spring.
  
  Suddenly his eyes gleamed, and he turned to Raisky. "You will have
  brought some good cigars from St. Petersburg," he began without ceremony.
  "Give me one."
  
  Raisky offered his cigar case, and reminded Leonti that he had not
  introduced them.
  
  "What need is there of introduction! You came in by the same way, and
  both know who the other is."
  
  "Words of wisdom from the scholar!" ejaculated Mark.
  
  "That same Mark of whom I wrote to you, don't you remember!" said Leonti.
  
  "Wait, I will introduce myself," cried Mark, springing from the easy
  chair. He posed ceremoniously, and bowed.
  
  "I have the honour to present myself, Mark Volokov, under police
  surveillance, involuntary citizen of this town."
  
  He puffed away at his cigar, and again rolled himself up in a ball.
  
  "What do you do with yourself here?" asked Raisky.
  
  "I think, as you do."
  
  "You love art, are perhaps an artist?"
  
  "And are you an artist?"
  
  "Painter and musician," broke in Leonti, "and now he is writing a novel.
  Take care, brother, he may put you in too."
  
  Raisky signed to him to be silent.
  
  "Yes, I am an artist," Mark went on, "but of a different kind. Your Aunt
  will have acquainted you with my works."
  
  "She won't hear your name mentioned."
  
  "There you have it. But it was only a matter of a hundred apples or so
  that I plucked from over the fence."
  
  "The apples are mine; you may take as many as you like."
  
  "Many thanks. But why should I need your permission? I am accustomed to
  do everything in this life without permission. Therefore I will take the
  apples without your permission, they taste better."
  
  "I was curious to make your acquaintance. I hear so many tales about
  you."
  
  "What do they say?"
  
  "Little that is good."
  
  "Probably they tell you I am a thief, a monster, the terror of the
  neighbourhood."
  
  "That's about it."
  
  "But if this reputation precedes me, why should you seek my acquaintance.
  I have torn your books, as no doubt our friend there has informed you."
  
  "There he is to the point," cried Leonti. "I am glad he began the
  subject himself. He is a good sort at the bottom. If one is ill, he
  waits on one like a nurse, runs to the chemist, and takes any amount of
  trouble. But the rascal wanders round and gives no one any peace."
  
  "Don't chatter so," interrupted Mark.
  
  "For that matter," said Raisky, "everybody does not abuse you. Tiet
  Nikonich Vatutin, for instance, goes out of his way to speak well of
  you."
  
  "Is it possible! The sugar marquis! I left him some souvenirs of my
  presence. More than once I have waked him in the night by opening his
  bedroom window. He is always fussing about his health, but in all the
  forty years since he came here no one remembers him to have been ill. I
  shall never return the money he lent me. What more provocation would he
  have? And yet he praises me."
  
  "So that is your department of art," said Raisky gaily.
  
  "What kind of an artist are you? It is your turn to tell me."
  
  "I love and adore beauty. I love art, draw, and make music, and just now
  I am trying to write a great work, a novel."
  
  "Yes, yes, I see. You are an artist of the kind we all are."
  
  "All?"
  
  "With us Russians everybody is an artist. They use the chisel, paint,
  strum, write poetry, as you and your like do. Others drive in the
  mornings to the courts or the government offices, others sit before
  their stalls playing draughts, and still others stick on their
  estates--Art is everywhere."
  
  "Do you feel no desire to enter any of these categories."
  
  "I have tried, but don't know how to. What brought you here?"
  
  "I don't know myself. It is all the same to me where I go. I had a
  letter summoning me here from my Aunt, and I came."
  
  Mark busied himself in his thoughts, and took no further interest in
  Raisky. Raisky on the other hand examined the extraordinary person
  before him attentively, studied the expression of his face, followed his
  movements, and tried to grasp the outline of a strong character. "Thank
  God," he said to himself, "that I am not the only idle, aimless person
  here. In this man there is something similar; he wanders about,
  reconciles himself to his fate, and does nothing. I at least draw and
  try to write my novel, while he does nothing. Is he the victim of secret
  discord like myself? Is he always struggling between two fires?
  Imagination striving upward to the ideal lures him on on the one
  hand--man, nature and life in all its manifestations; on the other he is
  attracted by a cold, destructive analysis which allows nothing to live,
  and will forget nothing, an analysis that leads to eternal discontent
  and blighting cold. Is that his secret?" He glanced at Mark, who was
  already drowsing.
  
  "Good-bye, Leonti," he said, "it's time I was going home."
  
  "What am I to do with him?"
  
  "He can stay here all right."
  
  "Think of the books. It's leaving the goat loose in the vegetable
  garden."
  
  "I might wheel him in the armchair into that dark little room,
  and lock him in," thought Leonti, "but if he woke, he might pull the
  roof down."
  
  Mark helped him out of his dilemma by jumping to his feet.
  
  "I am going with you," he said to Raisky. "It is time for you to go to
  bed, philosopher," he said to Leonti. "Don't sit up at nights. You have
  already got a yellow patch in your face, and your eyes are hollow."
  
  He put out the light, stuffed on his cap, and leapt out of the window.
  Raisky followed his example, and they went down the garden once more,
  climbed the fence, and came out in the street.
  
  "Listen," said Mark. "I am hungry, and Leonti has nothing to give me.
  Can you help me to storm an inn?"
  
  "As far as I am concerned. But the thing can be managed without the
  application of force."
  
  "It is late, and the inns are shut. No one will open willingly,
  especially when it is known that I am in the case; consequently we must
  enter by storm. We will call 'Fire!' and then they will open at once,
  and we can get in."
  
  "And be hurled out into the street again."
  
  "There you are wrong. It is possible that I might be refused entrance,
  but once in, I remain."
  
  "A siege, a row at night...."
  
  "Ah, you are afraid of the police," laughed Mark. "You are thinking of
  what the Governor would decide on in such a serious case, what Niel
  Andreevich would say, how the company would take it. Now good-bye, I
  will go and storm my entrance alone."
  
  "Wait, I have another, more delightful plan," said Raisky. "My Aunt
  cannot, you say, bear to hear your name; only the other day she declared
  she would in no circumstances give you hospitality."
  
  "Well, what then?"
  
  "Come home with me to supper, and stay the night with me."
  
  "That's not a bad plan. Let us go."
  
  They walked in silence, almost feeling their way through the darkness.
  When they came to the fence of the Malinovka estate, which bounded the
  vegetable garden, Raisky proposed to climb it.
  
  "It would be better," said Mark, "to go by way of the orchard or from
  the precipice. Here we shall wake the house and must make a circuit in
  addition. I always go the other way."
  
  "You--come--here--into the garden? What to do?"
  
  "To get apples."
  
  "You have my permission, so long as Tatiana Markovna does not catch
  you."
  
  "I shan't be caught so easily. Look, someone has just leaped over the
  fence, like us. Hi! Stop! Don't try to hide. Who's there? Halt! Raisky,
  come and help me!"
  
  He ran forward a few paces, and seized someone.
  
  Raisky hurried to the point from which voices were audible, remarking,
  "What cat's eyes you have!" The man who was held fast by Mark's strong
  arms twisted round to free himself, and in the end fell to the ground
  and made for the fence.
  
  "Catch him, hold fast! There is another sneaking round in the vegetable
  garden," cried Raisky.
  
  Raisky saw dimly a figure about to spring down from the fence, and
  demanded who it was.
  
  "Sir, let me go, do not ruin me!" whispered a woman's voice.
  
  "Is it you, Marina, what are you doing here?
  
  "Gently, Sir. Don't call me by name. Savili will hear, and will beat
  me."
  
  "Off with you! No, stop. I have found you at the right moment. Can you
  bring some supper to my room?"
  
  "Anything, Sir. Only, for God's sake, don't betray me."
  
  "I won't betray you. Tell me what there is in the kitchen."
  
  "The whole supper is there. As you did not come, no one ate anything.
  There is sturgeon in jelly, turkey, all on ice."
  
  "Bring it, and what about wine?"
  
  "There is a bottle in the sideboard, and the fruit liqueurs are in Marfa
  Vassilievna's room."
  
  "Be careful not to wake her."
  
  "She sleeps soundly. Let me go now, Sir, for my husband may hear us."
  
  "Run, but take care you don't run into him."
  
  "He dare not do anything if he does meet me now. I shall tell him that
  you have given me orders...."
  
  Meanwhile, Mark had dragged his man from hiding. "Savili Ilivich," the
  unknown murmured, "don't strike me."
  
  "I ought to know the voice," said Raisky.
  
  "Ah! You are not Savili Ilivich, thank God. I Sir, I am the gardener
  from over there."
  
  "What are you doing here?"
  
  "I came on a real errand, Sir. Our clock has stopped, and I came here to
  wait for the church-clock to strike."
  
  "Devil take you," cried Mark, and gave the man a push that sent him
  reeling.
  
  The man sprang over the ditch, and vanished in the darkness.
  
  Raisky, meantime, returned to the main entrance. He tried to open the
  door, not wishing to knock for fear of awaking his aunt. "Marina," he
  called in a low voice, "Marina, open!"
  
  The bolt was pushed back. Raisky pushed open the door with his foot.
  Before him stood--he recognised the voice--Savili, who flung himself
  upon him and held him.
  
  "Wait, my little dove, I will make my reckoning with you, not with
  Marina."
  
  "Take your hands off, Savili, it is I."
  
  "Who, not the Master?" exclaimed Savili, loosening his prisoner. "You
  were so good as to call Marina? But," after a pause, "have you not seen
  her."
  
  "I had already asked her to leave some supper for me and to open the
  door," he said untruthfully, by way of protecting the unfaithful wife.
  "She had already heard that I am here. Now let my guest pass, shut the
  door, and go to bed."
  
  "Yes, Sir," said Savili, and went slowly to his quarters, meeting Marina
  on the way.
  
  "Why aren't you in bed, you demon?" she cried, dashing past him. "You
  sneak around at night, you might be twisting the manes of the horses
  like a goblin, and put me to shame before the gentry."
  
  Marina sped past light-footed as a sylph, skilfully balancing dishes and
  plates in her hands, and vanished into the dark night. Savili's answer
  was a threatening gesture with his whip.
  
  Mark was indeed hungry, and as Raisky showed no hesitation either, the
  sturgeon soon disappeared, and when Marina came to clear away there was
  not much to take.
  
  "Now we should like something sweet," suggested Raisky.
  
  "No sweets are left," Marina assured them, "but I could get some
  preserves, of which Vassilissa has the keys."
  
  "Better still punch," said Mark. "Have you any rum?"
  
  "Probably," she said, in answer to an inquiring glance from Raisky. "The
  cook was given a bottle this morning for a pudding. I will see."
  
  Marina returned with a bottle of rum, a lemon and sugar, and then left
  the room. The bowl was soon in flames, which lighted up the darkened
  room with their pale blue light. Mark stirred it with the spoon, while
  the sugar held between two spoons dripped slowly into the bowl. From
  time to time he tasted it.
  
  "How long have you been in our town?" asked Raisky after a short silence.
  
  "About two years."
  
  "You must assuredly be bored?"
  
  "I try to amuse myself," he said, pouring out a glass for himself and
  emptying it. "Drink," he said, pushing a glass towards Raisky.
  
  Raisky drank slowly, not from inclination, but out of politeness to his
  guest. "It must be essential for you to do something, and yet you appear
  to do nothing?"
  
  "And what do you do?"
  
  "I told you I am an artist."
  
  "Show me proof of your art."
  
  "At the moment I have nothing except a trifling thing, and even that is
  not complete."
  
  He rose from the divan and uncovered Marfinka's portrait.
  
  "H'm, it's like her, and good," declared Mark. He told himself that
  Raisky had talent. "And it would be excellent, but the head is too large
  in proportion and the shoulders a trifle broad."
  
  "He has a straight eye," thought Raisky.
  
  "I like best the lightly-observed background and accessories, from which
  the figure detaches itself light, gay, and transparent. You have found
  the secret of Marfinka's figure. The tone suits her hair and her
  complexion."
  
  Raisky recognised that he had taste and comprehension, and wondered if
  he were really an artist in a disguise.
  
  "Do you know Marfinka?" he asked.
  
  "Yes."
  
  "And Vera?"
  
  "Vera too."
  
  "Where have you met my cousins? You do not come to the house."
  
  "At church."
  
  "At church? But they say you never look inside a church."
  
  "I don't exactly remember where I have seen them, in the village, in the
  field."
  
  Raisky concluded his guest was a drunkard, as he drunk down glass after
  glass of punch. Mark guessed his thoughts.
  
  "You think it extraordinary that I should drink. I do it out of sheer
  boredom, because I am idle and have no occupation. But don't be afraid
  that I shall set the house on fire or murder anybody. To-day I am
  drinking more than usual because I am tired and cold. But I am not a
  drunkard."
  
  "It depends on ourselves whether we are idle or not."
  
  "When you climbed over Leonti's fence, I thought you were a sensible
  individual, but now I see that you belong to the same kind of preaching
  person as Niel Andreevich...."
  
  "Is it true that you fired on him?" asked Raisky curiously.
  
  "What nonsense! I fired a shot among the pigeons to empty the barrel of
  my gun, as I was returning from hunting. He came up and shouted that I
  should stop, because it was sinful. If he had been content with
  protesting I should merely have called him a fool, and there it would
  have ended. But he began to stamp and to threaten, 'I will have you put
  in prison, you ruffian, and will have you locked up where not even the
  raven will bring you a bone.' I allowed him to run through the whole
  gamut of polite remarks, and listened calmly--and then I 'took aim at
  him.'"
  
  "And he?"
  
  "Ducked, lost his stick and goloshes, finally squatted on the ground and
  whimpered for forgiveness. I shot into the air. That's all."
  
  "A pretty distraction," commented Raisky ironically.
  
  "No distraction," said Mark seriously. "There was more in it, a
  badly-needed lesson for the old boy."
  
  "And then what?"
  
  "Nothing. He lied to the Governor, saying that I had aimed at him, but
  missed. If I had been a peaceful citizen of the town I should have been
  thrust into gaol without delay; but as I am an outlaw, the Governor
  inquired into the matter and advised Niel Andreevich to say nothing. So
  that no enquiry should be instituted from St. Petersburg; they fear that
  like fire."
  
  "When I spoke of idleness," said Raisky, "I did not mean to read a moral.
  Yet when I see what your mind, your abilities and your education
  are...."
  
  "What have you seen? That I can climb a hedge, shoot at a fool, eat and
  drink heavily?" he asked as he drained his glass.
  
  Raisky watched him, and wondered uneasily how it would all end.
  
  "We were speaking of the art you love so much," said Mark.
  
  "I have been snatched from Art as if from my mother's breast," sighed
  Raisky, "but I shall return and shall reach my goal."
  
  "No, you will not," laughed Mark.
  
  "Why not, don't you believe in firm intentions?"
  
  "How should I do otherwise, since they say the way to Hell is paved with
  them. No, you will do little more than you have accomplished
  already--that is very little. We, and many like us, simply rot and die.
  The only wonder is that you don't drink. That is how our artists,
  half men, usually end their careers."
  
  Smiling he thrust a glass towards his host, but emptied it himself.
  Raisky concluded that he was cold, malicious and heartless. But the last
  remark had disturbed him. Was he really only half a man? Had he not a
  firm determination to reach the goal he had set before himself? He was
  only making fun of him.
  
  "You see that I don't drink away my talents," he remarked.
  
  "Yes, that is an improvement, a step forward. You haven't succumbed to
  society, to perfumes, gloves and dancing. Drinking is a different thing.
  It goes to one man's head, another is susceptible to passion. Tell me,
  do you easily take fire? Ah! I have touched the spot," he went on as
  Raisky coloured. "That belongs to the artistic temperament, to which
  nothing is foreign--_Nihil humanum_, etc. One loves wine, another
  women, a third cards. The artists have usurped all these things for
  themselves. Now kindly explain what I am."
  
  "What you are. Why, an artist, without doubt, who on a first
  acquaintance will drink, storm public houses, shoot, borrow money--"
  
  "And not repay it. Bravo! an admirable description. To justify your last
  remark and prove its truth beyond doubt, lend me a hundred roubles. I
  will never pay them back unless you and I should have exchanged our
  respective situations in life."
  
  "You say that in jest?"
  
  "Not at all. The market gardener, with whom I live, feeds me. He has no
  money, nor have I."
  
  Raisky shrugged his shoulders, felt in his pockets, produced his pocket
  book and laid some notes on the table.
  
  "You have counted wrong," said Mark. "There are only eighty here."
  
  "I have no more money on me. My aunt keeps my money, and I will send you
  the balance to-morrow."
  
  "Don't forget. This is enough for the moment and now I want to sleep."
  
  "My bed is at your disposal, and I will sleep on the divan. You are my
  guest."
  
  "I should be worse than a Tatar if I did that," murmured Mark, already
  half asleep. "Lie down on your bed. Anything will do for me."
  
  In a few minutes he was sleeping the sleep of a tired, satisfied and
  drunken man worn out with cold and weariness. Raisky went to the window,
  raised the curtain, and looked out into the dark, starlit night. Now and
  then a flame hovered over the unemptied bowl, flared up and lighted up
  the room for a moment. There was a gentle tap on the door.
  
  "Who is there?" he asked.
  
  "I, Borushka. Open quickly. What are you doing there," said the anxious
  voice of Tatiana Markovna.
  
  Raisky opened the door, and saw his aunt before him, like a white-clad
  ghost.
  
  "What is going on here. I saw a light through the window, and thought
  you were asleep. What is burning in the bowl."
  
  "Rum."
  
  "Do you drink punch at night?" she whispered, looking first at him, then
  at the bowl in amazement.
  
  "I am a sinner, Grandmother. Sometimes I drink."
  
  "And who is lying there asleep?" she asked in new terror as she gazed on
  the sleeping Mark.
  
  "Gently, Grandmother, don't wake him. It is Mark."
  
  "Mark! Shall I send for the police! What have you to do with him? You
  have been drinking punch at night with Mark? What has come over you,
  Boris Pavlovich?"
  
  "I found him at Leonti's, we were both hungry. So I brought him here and
  we had supper."
  
  "Why didn't you call me. Who served you, and what did they bring you?"
  
  "Marina did everything."
  
  "A cold meal. Ah, Borushka, you shame me."
  
  "We had plenty to eat."
  
  "Plenty, without a single hot dish, without dessert. I will send up some
  preserves."
  
  "No, no ... if you want anything, I can wake Mark and ask him."
  
  "Good heavens! I am in my night-jacket," she whispered, and drew back to
  the door. "How he sleeps, all rolled up like a little dog. I am ashamed,
  Boris Pavlovich, as if we had no beds in the house. But put out the
  flames. No dessert!"
  
  Raisky extinguished the blue flame and embraced the old lady. She made
  the sign of the Cross over him, looked round the room once more, and
  went out on tiptoe. Just as he was going to lie down again there was
  another tap on the door, he opened it immediately.
  
  Marina entered, bearing a jar of preserves; then she brought a bed and
  two pillows. "The mistress sent them," she said.
  
  Raisky laughed heartily, and was almost moved to tears.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER X
  
  
  Early in the morning a slight noise wakened Raisky, and he sat up to see
  Mark disappear through the window. He does not like the straight way, he
  thought, and stepped to the window. Mark was going through the park, and
  vanished under the thick trees on the top of the precipice. As he had no
  inclination to go to bed again, he put on a light overcoat and went down
  into the park too, thinking to bring Mark back, but he was already far
  below on the bank of the Volga. Raisky remained standing at the top of
  the precipice. The sun had not yet risen, but his rays were already
  gilding the hill tops, the dew covered fields were glistening in the
  distance, and the cool morning wind breathed freshness. The air grew
  rapidly warmer, giving promise of a hot day. Raisky walked on in the
  park, and the rain began to fall. The birds sang, as they darted in all
  directions seeking their morning meal, and the bees and the humble-bees
  hummed over the flowers. A feeling of discomfort came over Raisky. He
  had a long day before him, with the impressions of yesterday and the day
  before still strong upon him. He looked down on the unchanging prospect
  of smiling nature, the woods and the melancholy Volga, and felt the
  caress of the same cooling breeze. He went forward over the courtyard,
  taking no notice of the greetings of the servants or the friendly
  advances of the dogs.
  
  He intended to go back to his room to turn the tenseness of his mood to
  account as an artistic motive in his novel; but as he hurried past the
  old house, he noticed that the door was half open, and went in. Since
  his arrival he had only been here for a moment with Marfinka, and had
  glanced into Vera's room. Now it occurred to him to make a closer
  inspection. Passing through his old bedroom and two or three other rooms,
  he came into the corner room, then with an expression of extreme
  astonishment in his face he stood still.
  
  Leaning on the window-sill, so that her profile was turned towards him,
  stood a girl of two or three and twenty, looking with strained curiosity,
  as if she were following some one with her eyes, down to the bank of the
  Volga. He was startled by the white, almost pallid face under the dark
  hair, the velvet-black eyes with their long lashes. Her face, still
  looking anxiously into the distance, gradually assumed an indifferent
  expression. The girl glanced hastily over park and courtyard, then as
  she turned and caught sight of him, shrank back.
  
  "Sister Vera!" he cried.
  
  Her face cleared, and her eyes remained fixed on him with an expression
  of modest curiosity, as he approached to kiss her.
  
  She drew back almost imperceptibly, turning her head a little so that
  his lips touched her cheek, not her mouth, and they sat down opposite
  the window.
  
  Impatient to hear her voice he began: "How eagerly I have expected you,
  and you have stayed away so long."
  
  "Marina told me yesterday that you were here."
  
  Her voice, though not so clear as Marfinka's, was still fresh and
  youthful.
  
  "Grandmother wanted to send you word of my arrival, but I begged her not
  to tell you. When did you return? No one told me you were here."
  
  "Yesterday, after supper. Grandmother and my sister don't know I am here
  yet. No one saw me but Marina."
  
  She threw some white garments that lay beside her into the next room,
  pushed aside a bundle and brought a table to the window. Then she sat
  down again, with a manner quite unconstrained, as if she were alone.
  
  "I have prepared coffee," she said. "Will you drink it with me. It will
  be a long time before it is ready at the other house. Marfinka gets up
  late."
  
  "I should like it very much," he replied, following her with his eyes.
  Like a true artist he abandoned himself to the new and unexpected
  impression.
  
  "You must have forgotten me, Vera," he remarked after a pause, with an
  affectionate note in his voice.
  
  "No," she said, as he poured out the coffee, "I remember everything. How
  was it possible to forget you when Grandmother was for ever talking
  about you?"
  
  He would have liked to ask her question after question, but they crowded
  into his brain in so disconnected a fashion that he did not know where
  to begin.
  
  "I have already been in your room. Forgive the intrusion," he said.
  
  "There is nothing remarkable here," she said hastily, looking around as
  if something not intended for strange eyes might be lying about.
  
  "Nothing remarkable, quite right. What book is that?"
  
  He put out his hand for the book under her hand; she rapidly drew it
  away and put it behind her on the shelf.
  
  "You hide it as you used to hide the currants in your mouth. But show it
  me."
  
  "Do you read books that may not be seen?" he said, laughingly as she
  shook her head.
  
  "Heavens! how lovely she is!" he thought. And he wondered how such
  beauty could have lost its way in such an outlandish place. He wanted to
  touch some answering chord in her heart, wanted her to reveal something
  of her feelings, but his efforts only produced a greater coldness.
  
  "My library was in your hands?"
  
  "Yes, but later Leonid Ivanovich took it over, and I was glad to be
  relieved of the charge."
  
  "But he must have left you a few books?"
  
  "Oh no! I read what I liked, and then surrendered the books."
  
  "What did you like?"
  
  She looked out of the window as she answered: "A great many. I have
  really forgotten."
  
  "Do you care for music?"
  
  She looked at him inquiringly before she said, "Does that mean that I
  play myself, or like to hear music?"
  
  "Both."
  
  "I don't play, but I like to hear music, but what music is there here?"
  
  "But what are your particular tastes?" Again she looked at him
  inquiringly. "Do you like housekeeping, or needlework. Do you do
  embroidery?"
  
  "No, Marfinka likes and understands all those things."
  
  "But what do you like? A book only occupies you for a short time. You
  say that you don't do any needlework, but you must like something,
  flowers perhaps."
  
  "Flowers, yes, in the garden, but not in the house where they have to be
  tended. I love this corner of God's earth, the Volga, the precipice, the
  forest and the garden--these are the things I love," she said, looking
  contentedly at the prospect from the window.
  
  "What ties bind you to this little place?"
  
  She gave no answer, but her eyes wandered lovingly over the trees and
  the rising ground, and finally rested on the dazzling mirror of water.
  
  "It is a beautiful place," admitted Raisky, "but the view, the river
  bank, the hills, the forest--all these things would became tedious if
  they were not inhabited by living creatures which share our feelings and
  exchange ideas with us."
  
  She was silent.
  
  "Vera!" said Raisky after a pause.
  
  "Ah!" she said, as if she had only just heard his remarks, "I don't live
  alone; Grandmother, Marfinka...."
  
  "As if you shared your sympathies and thoughts with them. But perhaps
  you have a congenial spirit here?"
  
  Vera nodded her head.
  
  "Who is that happy individual?" he stammered, urged on by envy, terror
  and jealousy.
  
  "The pope's wife with whom I have been stopping," said Vera as she rose
  and shook the crumbs from her apron. "You must have heard of her."
  
  "The pope's wife!" he repeated.
  
  "When she is here with me we both admire the Volga, we are never tired
  of talking about it. Will you have some more coffee? May I have it
  cleared away?"
  
  "The pope's wife," he repeated thoughtfully, without hearing her
  question, and the smile on her lips passed unobserved.
  
  "Will you have some more coffee?"
  
  "No. Do you care for Grandmother and Marfinka?"
  
  "Whom else should I hold dear?"
  
  "Well--me," he retorted, jesting.
  
  "You too," she said, looking gaily at him, "if you deserve it."
  
  "How does one earn this good fortune?" he asked ironically.
  
  "Love, they say, is blind, gives herself without any merit, is indeed
  blind," she rejoined.
  
  "Yet sometimes love comes consciously, by way of confidence, esteem and
  friendship. I should like to begin with the last, and end with the first.
  So what must one do, dear sister, to attract your attention."
  
  "Not to make such round eyes as you are doing now for instance, not to
  go into my room--without me, not to try to find out what my likes and
  dislikes are...."
  
  "What pride! Tell me, Sister, forgive my bluntness: Do you pride
  yourself on this? I ask because Grandmother told me you were proud."
  
  "Grandmother must have her finger in everything. I am not proud. In what
  connection did she say I was?"
  
  "Because I have made a gift of these houses and gardens to you and
  Marfinka. She said that you would not accept the gift. Is that true?
  Marfinka has accepted on the condition that you do not refuse.
  Grandmother hesitated, and has not come to a final decision, but waits,
  it seems, to see what you will say. And how shall you decide. Will a
  sister take a gift from a brother?"
  
  "Yes, I accept ... but no, I can buy the estate. Sell it to me.... I
  have money, and will pay you 50,000 roubles for it."
  
  "I will not do it that way."
  
  She looked thoughtfully out on the Volga, the precipice, and the park.
  
  "Very well. I agree to anything you please, so long as we remain here."
  
  "I will have the deed drawn up."
  
  "Yes, thank you!" she said, stretching out both hands to him.
  
  He pressed her hands, and kissed Vera on the cheek. She returned the
  pressure of his hands and kissed the air.
  
  "You seem really to love the place and this old house."
  
  "And you, do you mean to stay here long?"
  
  "I don't know. It depends on circumstances--on you."
  
  "On me?"
  
  "Come over to the other house."
  
  "I will follow you. I must first put things straight here. I have not
  yet unpacked."
  
  The less Raisky appeared to notice Vera, the more friendly Vera was to
  him, although, in spite of her aunt's wishes she neither kissed him nor
  addressed him as "thou." But as soon as he looked at her overmuch or
  seemed to hang on her words, she became suspicious, careful and reserved.
  Her coming made a change in the quiet circle, putting everything in a
  different light. It might happen that she said nothing, and was hardly
  seen for a couple of days, yet Raisky was conscious every moment of her
  whereabouts and her doings. It was as if her voice penetrated to him
  through any wall, and as if her doings were reflected in any place where
  he was. In a few days he knew her habits, her tastes, her likings, all
  that love on her outer life. But the indwelling spirit, Vera herself,
  remained concealed in the shadows. In her conversation she betrayed no
  sign of her active imagination and she answered a jest with a gay smile,
  but Raisky rarely made her laugh outright. If he did her laughter broke
  off abruptly to give place to an indifferent silence. She had no regular
  employment. She read, but was never heard to speak of what she read; she
  did not play the piano, though she sometimes struck discords and
  listened to their effects.
  
  Raisky noticed that their aunt was liberal with observation and warnings
  for Marfinka; but she said nothing to Vera, no doubt in the hope that
  the good seed sown would bear fruit.
  
  Vera had moments when she was seized with a feverish desire for activity;
  and then she would help in the house, and in the most varying tasks with
  surprising skill. This thirst for occupation came on her especially when
  she read reproach in her aunt's eyes. If she complained that her guests
  were too much for her, Vera would not bring herself to assist
  immediately, but presently she would appear in the company with a bright
  face, her eyes gleaming with gaiety, and astonished her aunt by the
  grace and wit with which she entertained the visitors. This mood would
  last a whole evening, sometimes a whole day, before she again relapsed
  into shyness and reserve, so that no one could read her mind and heart.
  
  That was all that Raisky could observe for the time, and it was all the
  others saw either. The less ground he had to go on however, the more
  active his imagination was in seeking to divine her secret.
  
  She came over every day for a short time, exchanged greetings with her
  aunt and her sister, and returned to the other house, and no one knew
  how she passed her time there. Tatiana Markovna grumbled a little to
  herself, complained that her niece was moody, and shy, but did not
  insist.
  
  For Raisky the whole place, the park, the estate with the two houses,
  the huts, the peasants, the whole life of the place had lost its gay
  colours. But for Vera he would long since have left it. It was in this
  melancholy mood that he lay smoking a cigar on the sofa in Tatiana
  Markovna's room. His aunt who was never happy unless she was doing
  something, was looking through some accounts brought her by Savili;
  before her lay on pieces of paper samples of hay and rye. Marfinka was
  working at a piece of lace. Vera, as usual, was not there.
  
  Vassilissa announced visitors; the young master; from Kolchino.
  
  "Nikolai Andreevich Vikentev, please enter."
  
  Marfinka coloured, smoothed her hair, gave a tug to her fichu, and cast
  a glance in the mirror. Raisky shook his finger at her, making her
  colour more deeply.
  
  "The person who stayed one night here," said Vassilissa to Raisky, "is
  also asking for you."
  
  "Markushka?" asked Tatiana Markovna in a horrified tone.
  
  "Yes," said Vassilissa.
  
  Raisky hurried out.
  
  "How glad he is, how he rushes to meet him. Don't forget to ask him for
  the money. Is he hungry? I will send food directly," cried his aunt
  after him.
  
  There stepped, or rather sprang into the room a fresh-looking,
  well-built young man of middle height of about twenty-three years of age.
  He had chestnut hair, a rosy face, grey-blue keen eyes, and a smile which
  displayed a row of strong teeth. He laid on a chair with his hat a bunch
  of cornflowers and a packet carefully done up in a handkerchief.
  
  "Good-day, Tatiana Markovna; Good-day, Marfa Vassilievna," he cried. He
  kissed the old lady's hand, and would have raised Marfinka's to his lips,
  but she pulled it away, though he found time to snatch a hasty kiss from
  it.
  
  "You haven't been to see us for three weeks," said Tatiana Markovna,
  reproachfully.
  
  "I could not come. The Governor would not let me off. Orders were given
  to settle up all the business in the office," said Vikentev, so
  hurriedly that he nearly swallowed some of the words.
  
  "That is absurd; don't listen to him, Granny," interrupted Marfinka. "He
  hasn't any business, as he himself said."
  
  "I swear I am up to my neck in work. We are now expecting a new chief
  clerk, and I swear by God we have to sit up into the night."
  
  "It is not the custom to appeal to God over such trifles. It is a sin,"
  said Tatiana Markovna severely.
  
  "What do you mean? Is it a trifle when Marfa Vassilievna will not
  believe me, and I, by God--"
  
  "Again?"
  
  "Is it true, Tatiana Markovna, that you have a visitor? Has Boris
  Pavlovich arrived? Was it he I met in the corridor? I have come on
  purpose--"
  
  "You see, Granny, he has come to see my cousin. Otherwise he would have
  stayed away longer, wouldn't he?"
  
  "As soon as I could tear myself away, I came here. Yesterday I was at
  Kolchino for a minute, with Mama--"
  
  "Is she well?"
  
  "Thanks for the kind thought. She sends her kind regards and begs you
  not to forget her nameday."
  
  "Many thanks. I only don't know whether I can come myself. I am old, and
  fear the crossing of the Volga."
  
  "Without you, Granny, Vera and I will not go. We, too, are afraid of
  crossing the Volga."
  
  "Be ashamed of yourself, Marfa Vassilievna. What are you afraid of? I
  will fetch you myself with our boat. Our rowers are singers."
  
  "Under no circumstances will I cross with you. You never sit quiet in
  the boat for a minute. What have you got alive in that handkerchief? See,
  Granny, I am sure it's a snake."
  
  "I have brought you a carp, Tatiana Markovna, which I have caught myself.
  And these are for you, Marfa Vassilievna. I picked the cornflowers here
  in the rye."
  
  "You promised not to pick any without me. Now you have not put in an
  appearance for more than two weeks. The cornflowers are all withered,
  and what can I do with them?"
  
  "Come with me, and we'll pick some fresh ones."
  
  "Wait," called Tatiana Markovna. "You can never sit quiet, you have
  hardly had time to show your nose, the perspiration still stands on your
  forehead, and you are aching to be off. First you must have breakfast.
  And you, Marfinka, find out if that person, Markushka, will have
  anything. But don't go yourself, send Egorka."
  
  Marfinka seized the carp's head with two fingers, but when he began to
  wave his tail hither and thither, she uttered a loud cry, hastily
  dropped him on the floor, and fled down the corridor.
  
  Vikentev hurried after, and a few moments later Tatiana Markovna heard a
  gay waltz in progress and a vigorous stampede, as if someone were
  rolling down the steps. Soon the two of them tore across the courtyard
  to the garden, Marfinka leading, and from the garden came the sound of
  chattering, singing and laughter. Tatiana Markovna shook her head as she
  looked through the window. Cocks, hens and ducks fled in panic, the dogs
  dashed barking at Marfinka's heels, the servants put their heads out of
  the windows of their quarters, in the garden the tall plants swayed
  hither and hither, the flower beds were broken by the print of flying
  feet, two or three vases were overturned, and every bird sought refuge
  in the depths of the trees.
  
  A quarter of an hour later, the two culprits sat with Tatiana Markovna
  as politely as if nothing had happened. They looked gaily about the room
  and at one another, as Vikentev wiped the perspiration from his face and
  Marfinka fanned her burning face with her handkerchief.
  
  "You are a nice pair," remarked Tatiana Markovna.
  
  "He is always like that," complained Marfinka, "he chased me. Tell him
  to sit quiet."
  
  "It wasn't my fault, Tatiana Markovna. Marfa Vassilievna told me to go
  into the garden, and she herself ran on in front."
  
  "He is a man. But it does not become you, who are a girl, to do these
  things."
  
  "You see what I have to endure through you," said Marfinka.
  
  "Never mind, Marfa Vassilievna. Granny is only scolding a little, as she
  is privileged to do."
  
  "What do you say, Sir?" said Tatiana Markovna, catching his words. "Come
  here, and since your Mama is not here, I will box your ears for you."
  
  "But, Tatiana Markovna, you threaten these things and never do them," he
  said, springing up to the old lady and bowing his head submissively.
  
  "Do box his ears well, Granny, so that his ears will be red for a
  month."
  
  "How did you come to be made of quicksilver?" said Tatiana Markovna,
  affectionately. "Your late father was serious, never talked at random,
  and even disaccustomed your mother from laughter!"
  
  "Ah, Marfa Vassilievna," broke in Vikentev. "I have brought you some
  music and a new novel."
  
  "Where are they?"
  
  "I left them in the boat. That's the fault of the carp. I will go and
  fetch them now."
  
  In a moment he was out of the door, and Marfinka would have followed if
  her aunt had not detained her.
  
  "What I wanted to say to you is----" she began.
  
  She hesitated a little, as if she could not make up her mind to speak.
  Marfinka came up to her, and the old lady smoothed her disordered hair.
  
  "What then, Granny?"
  
  "You are a good child, and obey every word of your grandmother's. You
  are not like Veroshka...."
  
  "Don't find fault with Veroshka, Granny!"
  
  "No, you always defend her. She does indeed respect me, but she retains
  her own opinion and does not believe me. Her view is that I am old,
  while you two girls are young, know everything, and read everything. If
  only she were right. But everything is not written in books," she added
  with a sigh.
  
  "What do you want to say to me?" asked Marfinka curiously.
  
  "That a grown girl must be a little more cautious. You are so wild, and
  run about like a child."
  
  "I am not always running about. I work, sew embroider, pour out tea,
  attend to the household. Why do you scold me, Grandmother," she asked
  with tears in her eyes. "If you tell me I must not sing, I won't do it."
  
  "God grant that you may always be as happy as a bird. Sing, play----"
  
  "Then, why scold me?"
  
  "I don't scold you; I only ask you to keep within bounds. You used to
  run about with Nikolai Andreevich--"
  
  Marfinka reddened and retired to her corner.
  
  "That is no harm," continued Tatiana Markovna. "There is nothing against
  Nikolai Andreevich, but he is just as wild as you are. You are my
  dearest child, and you will remember what is due to your dignity."
  
  Marfinka blushed crimson.
  
  "Don't blush, darling. I know that you will do nothing wrong, but for
  other people's sake you must be careful. Why do you look so angry. Come
  and let me kiss you."
  
  "Nikolai Andreevich will be here in a moment, and I don't know how to
  face him."
  
  Before Tatiana Markovna could answer Vikentev burst in, covered with
  dust and perspiration, carrying music and a book which he laid on the
  table by Marfinka.
  
  "Give me your hand, Marfa Vassilievna," he cried, wiping his forehead.
  "How I did run, with the dogs after me!"
  
  Marfinka hid her hand, bowed, and returned with dignity:
  
  _"Je vous remercie, monsieur Vikentev, vous Йtes bien amiable."_
  
  He stared first at Marfinka, then at her aunt, and asked whether she
  would try over a song with him.
  
  "I will try it by myself, or in company with Grandmother."
  
  "Let us go into the park, and I will read you the new novel," he then
  said, picking up the book.
  
  "How could I do such a thing?" asked Marfinka, looking demurely at her
  aunt. "Do you think I am a child?"
  
  "What is the meaning of this, Tatiana Markovna," stammered Vikentev in
  amazement. "Marfa Vassilievna is unendurable." He looked at both of them,
  walked into the middle of the room, assumed a sugary smile, bowed
  slightly, put his hat under his arm, and struggling in vain to drag his
  gloves on his moist hands began: "_Mille pardons, mademoiselle, de
  vous avoir dИrangИe. Sacrebleu, ca n'entre pas. Oh mille pardons,
  mademoiselle_."
  
  "Do stop, you foolish boy!"
  
  Marfinka bit her lips, but could not help laughing.
  
  "Just look at him, Granny! How can anybody keep serious when he mimics
  Monsieur Charles so nicely?"
  
  "Stop, children," cried Tatiana Markovna, her frown relaxing into smiles.
  "Go, and God be with you. Do whatever you like."
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XI
  
  
  Raisky's patience had to suffer a hard trial in Vera's indifference. His
  courage failed him, and he fell into a dull, fruitless boredom. In this
  idle mood he drew village scenes in his sketch album--he had already
  sketched nearly every aspect of the Volga to be seen from the house or
  the cliff--and he made notes in his note books. He hoped by these
  occupations to free himself from his obsessing thoughts of Vera. He knew
  he would do better to begin a big piece of work, instead of these
  trifles. But he told himself that Russians did not understand hard work,
  or that real work demanded rude strength, the use of the hands, the
  shoulders and the back. He thought that in work of this kind a man lost
  consciousness of his humanity, and experienced no pleasures in his
  exertions; he shouldered his burden like a horse that seeks to ward off
  the whip with his tail. Rough manual labour left no place for boredom.
  Yet no one seeks distractions in work, but in pleasure. Work, not
  appearances, he repeated, oppressed by the overpowering dulness which
  drove him nearly mad, and created a frame of mind quite contrary to his
  gentle temperament. I have no work, I cannot create as do artists who
  are absorbed in their work, and are ready to die for it.
  
  He took his cap and strolled into the outlying parts of the town, then
  into the town, where he observed every passer-by, stared into the houses,
  down the streets, and at last found himself standing before the Koslov's
  house. Being told that Koslov was at the school, he inquired for Juliana
  Andreevna. The woman who had opened the door to him, looked at him
  askance, blew her nose with her apron, wiped it with her finger, and
  vanished into the house for good. He knocked again, the dogs barked, and
  then appeared a little girl, holding her finger to her mouth, who stared
  at him and departed. He was about to knock again, but, instead, turned
  to go. As he passed through the little garden he heard voices, Parisian
  French, and a woman's voice; he heard laughter and even a kiss.
  
  "Poor Leonti!" he whispered. "Or rather, blind Leonti!"
  
  He stood uncertain whether to go or stay, then hastened his steps, and
  determined to have speech with Mark. He sought distraction of some kind
  to rid himself of his mood of depression, and to drive away the
  insistent thoughts of Vera. Passing the warped houses, he left the town
  and passed between two thick hedges beyond which stretched on both sides
  vegetable gardens.
  
  "Where does the market gardener, Ephraim, live?" he asked, addressing a
  woman over the hedge who was working in the beds.
  
  Silently, without pausing in her work, she motioned with her elbow to a
  hut standing isolated in the field. As he climbed over the fence, two
  dogs barked furiously at him. From the door of the hut came a healthy
  young woman with sunburnt face and bare arms, holding a baby.
  
  She called off the dogs with curses, and asked Raisky whom he wished to
  see. He was looking curiously round, since he did not understand how
  anyone except the peasant and his wife could be living there. The hut,
  against which were propped spades, rakes and other tools, planks and
  pails, had neither yard nor fence; two windows looked out on the
  vegetable garden, two others on the field. In the shed were two horses,
  here was a pig surrounded by a litter of young, and a hen wandered
  around with her chickens. A little further off stood some cars and a big
  telega.
  
  "Does Mark Volokov live here?" asked Raisky.
  
  The woman pointed to the telega in silence.
  
  "That's his room," she said, pointing to one of the windows. "He sleeps
  in the telega."
  
  "At this time of day?"
  
  "He only came home this morning, probably rather drunk."
  
  Raisky approached the telega.
  
  "What do you want of him?" asked the woman.
  
  "To visit him."
  
  "Let him sleep."
  
  "Why?"
  
  "I am frightened here alone with him, and my husband won't be here yet.
  I hope he'll sleep."
  
  "Does he insult you?"
  
  "No, it would be wicked to say such a thing. But he is so restless and
  peculiar that I am afraid of him."
  
  She rocked the child in her arms, and Raisky looked curiously under the
  straw covering. Suddenly Mark's tangled hair and beard emerged and the
  woman vanished into the hut as he cried, "Fool, you don't know how to
  receive visitors."
  
  "Good-day! What has brought you here?" cried Mark as he crawled out of
  the telega and stretched himself. "A visit, perhaps."
  
  "I was taking a walk out of sheer boredom."
  
  "Bored! with two beautiful girls at home. You, an artist, and you are
  taking a walk out of sheer boredom. Don't your affections prosper?" he
  winked. "They are lovely children, especially Vera?"
  
  "How do you know my cousins, and in what way do they concern you?" asked
  Raisky drily.
  
  "Don't be vexed. Come into my drawing-room."
  
  "Tell me rather why you sleep in the telega. Are you playing at
  Diogenes?"
  
  "Yes, because I must."
  
  They entered the hut and went into a boarded compartment, where stood
  Mark's bed with a thin old mattress, a thin wadded bed-cover and a tiny
  pillow. Scattered on a shelf on the wall, and on the table lay books,
  two guns hung on the wall, linen and clothes were tumbled untidily on
  the only chair.
  
  "This is my salon, sit down on the bed, and I will sit on the chair. Let
  us take off our coats, for it is infernally hot. No ceremony, as there
  are no ladies. That's right. Do you want anything? There is nothing but
  milk and eggs. If you don't want any, give me a cigar."
  
  "Many thanks. I have already breakfasted, and it will presently be
  dinner time."
  
  "Yes! You live with your Aunt. Weren't you expelled after having
  harboured me in the night?"
  
  "On the contrary, she reproached me with having allowed you to go to bed
  without any dessert, and for not having demanded pillows."
  
  "And didn't she rail against me?"
  
  "As usual, but...."
  
  "I know it is habit and does not come from her heart. She has the best
  heart one can wish for, better than any here. She is bold, full of
  character, and with a solid understanding; now indeed her brain is
  weakening...."
  
  "That is your opinion? You have found someone for whom you have
  sympathy?"
  
  "Yes, especially in one respect. She cannot endure the Governor any more
  than I can. I don't know what her reasons are; his position is enough
  for me. We neither of us like the police; we are oppressed by them. The
  old lady is compelled by them to carry out all sorts of repairs; to me
  they pay far too much attention, find out where I live, whether I go far
  from the town, and whom I visit."
  
  Both fell silent.
  
  "Now we have nothing more to talk about. Why did you come here?" asked
  Mark.
  
  "Because I was bored."
  
  "Fall in love."
  
  Raisky was silent.
  
  "With Vera," continued Mark. "Splendid girl, and she is related to you.
  It must be easy for you to begin a romance with her."
  
  Raisky made an angry gesture, to which Mark replied by a burst of
  laughter.
  
  "Call the ancient wisdom to your help," he said. "Show outward coldness
  when you are inwardly consumed, indifference of manner, pride,
  contempt--every little helps. Parade yourself before her as suits
  your calling."
  
  "My calling?"
  
  "Isn't it your calling to be eccentric?"
  
  "Perhaps," remarked Raisky indifferently.
  
  "I, for instance," said Mark, "should make direct for my goal, and
  should be sure of victory. You may do the same, but you would do so
  penetrated by the conviction that you stood on the heights and had drawn
  her up to you, you idealist. Show that you understand your calling, and
  you may succeed. It's no use to wear yourself out with sighs, to be
  sleepless, to watch for the raising of the lilac curtain by a white hand,
  to wait a week for a kindly glance."
  
  Raisky rose, furious.
  
  "Ah, I have hit the bull's eye."
  
  Raisky put compulsion on himself to restrain his rage, for every
  involuntary expression or gesture of anger would have meant nothing less
  than acquiescence.
  
  "I should very well like to fall in love, but I cannot," he yawned,
  counterfeiting indifference. "It is unsuited to my years and doesn't
  cure my boredom."
  
  "Try it," teased Mark. "Let us have a wager that in a week you will be
  as enamoured as a young cat. And within two months, or perhaps one, you
  will have perpetrated so many follies that you will not know how to get
  away from here."
  
  "If I am, with what will you pay?" asked Raisky in a tone bordering on
  contempt.
  
  "I will give you my trousers or my gun. I possess only two pairs of
  trousers. The tailor has recovered a third pair for debt. Wait, I will
  try on your coat. Why, it fits as if I were poured into a mould. Try
  mine."
  
  "Why?"
  
  "I should like to see whether it suits you. Please try it on, do."
  
  Raisky was indulgent enough to allow himself to be persuaded, and put on
  Mark's worn, dirty coat.
  
  "Well, does it suit?"
  
  "It fits!"
  
  "Wear it then. You don't wear a coat long, while for me it lasts for two
  years. Besides, whether you are contented or not I shan't take yours off
  my shoulders. You would have to steal it from me."
  
  Raisky shrugged his shoulders.
  
  "Does the wager hold!" asked Mark.
  
  "What put you on to that--you will excuse me--ridiculous idea?"
  
  "Don't excuse yourself. Does it hold?"
  
  "The wager is not equal. You have no possessions."
  
  "Don't be disturbed on that account. I shall not have to pay. If my
  prophecy comes true, then you will pay me three hundred roubles, which
  would come in very conveniently."
  
  "What nonsense," said Raisky, as he stood up and reached for his cap and
  stick.
  
  "At the latest you will be in love in a fortnight. In a month you will
  be groaning, wandering about like a ghost, playing your part in a drama,
  or possibly in a tragedy, and ending, as all your like do, with some
  piece of folly. I know you, I can see through you."
  
  "But if, instead my falling in love with her, she were to fall in love
  with me...."
  
  "Vera! with you!"
  
  "Yes, Vera, with me."
  
  "Then I will find a double pledge, and bring it to you."
  
  "You are a madman!" said Raisky, and went without bestowing a further
  glance on Mark.
  
  "In one month's time I shall have won three hundred roubles," Mark cried
  after him.
  
  Raisky walked angrily home. "I wonder where our charmer is now," he
  wondered gloomily. "Probably sitting on her favourite bench, admiring
  the view. I will see." As he knew Vera's habits, he could say with
  nearly complete certainty where she would be at any hour of the day. He
  went over to the precipice, and saw her, as he had thought, sitting on
  the bench with a book in her hand. Instead of reading she looked out,
  now over the Volga, now into the bushes. When she saw Raisky, she rose
  slowly and walked over to the old house. He signed to her to wait for
  him, but she either did not perceive the sign, or did not wish to do so.
  When she reached the courtyard she quickened her steps, and disappeared
  within the door of the old house.
  
  Raisky could hardly control his rage. "And a stupid girl like that
  thinks that I am in love with her," he thought. "She has not the
  remotest conception of manners." In offering the wager, Mark had stirred
  up all the bitterness latent in him. He hardly looked at Vera when he
  sat opposite her at dinner. If he happened to raise his eyes, it was as
  if he were dazed by a flash of lightning. Once or twice she had looked
  at him in a kind, almost affectionate way, but his wild glance betrayed
  to her the agitation, of which she deemed herself to be the cause, and
  to avoid meeting his eyes she bent her head over her empty plate.
  
  "After dinner, I shall drive with Marfinka to the hay harvest," said
  Tatiana Markovna to Raisky. "Will you bestow on your meadows the honour
  of your presence, Sir?"
  
  "I have no inclination to go," he murmured.
  
  "Does the world go so hard with you?" asked Tatiana Markovna. "You are
  indeed weighed down with work."
  
  He looked at Vera, who was mixing red wine with water. She emptied her
  glass, rose, kissed her aunt's hand, and went out.
  
  Raisky too rose, and went to his room. His aunt, Marfinka, and Vikentev,
  who had just happened to turn up, drove to the hay harvest, and the
  afternoon peace soon reigned over the house. One man crawled into the
  hayrick, another in the outhouse, another slept in the family carriage
  itself, while others took advantage of the mistress's absence to go into
  the outskirts of the town.
  
  Raisky's thoughts were filled with Vera. Although he had sworn to
  himself to think of her no more, he could not conquer his thoughts.
  Where was she? He would go to her and talk it all over. He was inspired
  only with curiosity, he assured himself. He took his cap and hurried out.
  Vera was neither in the room nor in the old house; he searched for her
  in vain on the field, in the vegetable garden, in the thicket on the
  cliff, and went to look for her down along the bank of the Volga. When
  he found no one he turned homewards, and suddenly came across her a few
  steps from him, not far from the house.
  
  "Ah!" he cried, "there you are. I have been hunting for you everywhere."
  
  "And I have been waiting for you here," she returned.
  
  He felt as if he were suddenly enveloped in winter in the soft airs of
  the South.
  
  "You--waiting for me," he said in a strange voice, and looked at her in
  astonishment.
  
  "I wanted to ask you why you pursue me?"
  
  Raisky looked at her fixedly.
  
  "I hardly ever speak to you."
  
  "It is true that you rarely talk to me, but you look at me in such a
  wild and extraordinary fashion that it constitutes a kind of pursuit.
  And that is not all; you quietly follow my steps. You get up earlier
  than I do, and wait for me to wake, draw my curtains back, and open the
  window; whatever way I take in the park, and wherever I sit down, I must
  meet you."
  
  "Very rarely."
  
  "Three or four times a week. It would not be often and would not annoy
  me, quite the reverse, if it occurred without intention. But in your
  eyes and steps I see only one thing, the continual effort to give me no
  peace, to master my every glance, word and thought."
  
  He was amazed at her boldness and independence, at the freedom of her
  speech. He saw before him, as he imagined, the little girl who had
  nervously concealed herself from him for fear that her egoism might
  suffer through the inequality of her brains, her ideas and her education.
  This was a new figure, a new Vera.
  
  "What if all this exists only in your imagination?" he said undecidedly.
  
  "Don't lie to me," she interrupted. "If you are successful in observing
  my every footstep, my every moment, at least permit me to be conscious
  of the discomfort of such observation. I tell you plainly that it
  oppresses me; it is slavery; I feel like a prisoner."
  
  "What do you ask of me?"
  
  "My freedom."
  
  "Freedom--I am your chevalier--therefore...."
  
  "Therefore you will not leave a poor girl room to breathe. Tell me, what
  reason have I given you to regard me differently from any other girl?"
  
  "Beauty adores admiration; it is her right."
  
  "Beauty has also a right to esteem and freedom. Is it an apple hanging
  on the other side of the hedge, that every passer-by can snatch at?"
  
  "Don't agitate yourself, Vera!" he begged, taking her hands. "I confess
  my guilt. I am an artist, have a susceptible temperament, and perhaps
  abandoned myself too much to my impressions. Then I am no stranger. Let
  us be reconciled, Vera. Tell me your wishes, and they shall be sacredly
  fulfilled. I will do what pleases you, will avoid what offends you, in
  order to deserve your friendship."
  
  "I told you from the beginning, you remember, how you could show me your
  sympathy, by not observing me, by letting me go my way and taking no
  notice of me. Then I will come of myself, and we will fix the hours that
  we will spend together, reading or walking."
  
  "You ask me, Vera, to be utterly indifferent to you?"
  
  "Yes."
  
  "Not to notice how lovely you are? To look at you as if you were
  Grandmother. But even if I adore your beauty in silence from a distance,
  you would know it, and can you forbid me that? Passion may melt the
  surface and there may steal into your heart an affection for me. Don't
  let me leave you without any hope. Can you not give me any?"
  
  "I cannot!"
  
  "How can you tell? There may come a time."
  
  "No, Cousin, never."
  
  Unmanned by terror, he collected his strength to say breathlessly:
  
  "You are no longer free? You love?"
  
  She knit her brow and looked down on the Volga.
  
  "And is there any sin if I do? Will you not permit it, Cousin?" she
  asked ironically.
  
  "I! I, who bring you the lofty philosophy of freedom, how should I not
  permit you to love. Love independently of everybody, conceal nothing,
  fear neither Granny nor anyone else. The dawn of freedom is red in the
  sky, and shall woman alone be enslaved? You love. Say so boldly, for
  passion is happiness, and allow others at least to envy you."
  
  "I concede no one the right to call me to account; I am free."
  
  "But you are afraid of Grandmother."
  
  "I am afraid of no one. Grandmother knows it, and respects my freedom.
  And my wish is that you should follow her example. That is all I wanted
  to say," she concluded as she rose from the bench.
  
  "Yes, Vera, now I understand, and am in accord with you," he replied,
  rising also. "Here is my hand on it, that from to-day you will neither
  hear nor notice my presence."
  
  She gave her hand, but drew it rapidly back as he pressed it to his lips.
  
  "We will see," she said. "But if you don't keep your word, we will see--"
  
  "Say all you have to say, Vera, or my head will go to pieces."
  
  Vera looked long at the prospect before her before she ended with
  decision:
  
  "Then however dearly I love this place, I will leave it."
  
  "To go where?"
  
  "God's world is wide. Au revoir, Cousin!"
  
  A few days later Raisky got up about five o'clock. The sun was already
  full on the horizon, a wholesome freshness rose from garden and park,
  flowers breathed a deeper perfume, and the dew glittered on the grass.
  He dressed quickly and went out into the garden, when he suddenly met
  Vera.
  
  "It is not intentional, not intentional, I swear," he stammered in his
  first surprise.
  
  They both laughed. She picked a flower, threw it to him, and gave him
  her hand; and in reply to the kiss he gave she kissed him on the
  forehead.
  
  "It was not intentional, Vera," he repeated. "You see yourself."
  
  "I see you are good and kind."
  
  "Generous," he added.
  
  "We have not got to generosity yet," she said laughing, and took his arm.
  "Let us go for a walk; it's a lovely morning."
  
  He felt unspeakably happy.
  
  "What coat are you wearing?" she asked in surprise as they walked. "It
  is not yours."
  
  "Ah, it is Mark's."
  
  "Is he here? How did you come by his coat?"
  
  "Are you frightened? The whole house fears him like fire?" And he
  explained how he got the coat. She listened absently as they went
  silently down the main path of the garden, Vera with her eyes on the
  ground.
  
  Against his will he felt impelled to seek another argument with her.
  
  "You seem to have something on your mind," she began, "which you do not
  wish to tell."
  
  "I did wish to, but I feared the storm I might draw upon myself."
  
  "You did not wish to discuss beauty once more?"
  
  "No, no, I want to explain what my feeling for you is. I am convinced
  that this time I am not in error. You have opened to me a special door
  of your heart, and I recognise that your friendship would bring great
  happiness, and that its soft tones would bring colour into my dull life.
  Do you think, Vera, that friendship is possible between a man and a
  woman?"
  
  "Why not? If two such friends can make up their minds to respect one
  another's freedom, if one does not oppress the other, does not seek to
  discover the secret of the other's heart, if they are in constant,
  natural intercourse, and know how to respect secrets...."
  
  His eyes blazed. "Pitiless woman," he broke in.
  
  She had seen the glance, and lowered her eyes.
  
  "We will go in to Grandmother. She has just opened the window, and will
  call us to tea?"
  
  "One word more, Vera. You have wisdom, lucidity, decision...."
  
  "What is wisdom?" she asked mischievously.
  
  "Observation and experience, harmoniously applied to life."
  
  "I have hardly any experience."
  
  "Nature has bestowed on you a sharp eye and a clear brain."
  
  "Is not such a possession disgraceful for a girl?"
  
  "Your wholesome ideas, your cultivated speech...."
  
  "You are surprised that a drop of village wisdom should have descended
  on your poor sister. You would have preferred to find a fool in my place,
  wouldn't you, and now you are annoyed?"
  
  "No, Vera, you intoxicate me. You do indeed forbid me to mention your
  beauty by so much as a syllable, and will not hear why I place it so
  high. Beauty is the aim and at the same time the driving power of art,
  and I am an artist. The beauty of which I speak is no material thing,
  she does not kindle her fires with the glow of passionate desire alone;
  more especially she awakens the man in man, arouses thought, inspires
  courage, fertilises the creative power of genius, even when that genius
  stands at the culmination of its dignity and power; she does not scatter
  her beams for trifles, does not besmirch purity--she is womanly wisdom.
  You are a woman, Vera, and understand what I mean. Your hand will not be
  raised to punish the man, the artist, for this worship of beauty."
  
  "According to you wisdom lies in keeping these rules before one's eyes
  as the guiding thread of life, in which case I am not wise, I have not
  'received this baptism.'"
  
  An emotion closely related to sadness shone in her eyes, as she gazed
  upwards for a moment before she entered the house. Raisky anxiously told
  himself that she was as enigmatic as night itself, and he wondered what
  was the origin of these foreign ideas and whether her young life was
  already darkened.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XII
  
  
  On Sunday Tatiana Markovna had guests for the second breakfast. The
  covers had been removed from the purple damask-covered chairs in the
  reception room. Yakob had rubbed the eyes of the family portraits with a
  damp rag, and they appeared to look forth more sharply than on ordinary
  days. The freshly waxed floors shone. Yakob himself paraded in a dress
  coat and a white necktie, while Egorka, Petrushka and Stepka, the latter
  of whom had been fetched from the village and had not yet found his legs,
  had been put into old liveries which did not fit them and smelt of moth.
  The dining-room and the reception room had been fumigated just before
  the meal.
  
  Tatiana Markovna herself, in a silk dress and shawl, with her cap on the
  back of her head, sat on the divan. Near her the guests had taken their
  places in accordance with their rank and dignity. The place of honour
  was occupied by Niel Andreevich Tychkov, in a dress coat with an order,
  an important old gentleman whose eyebrows met in his great fat face,
  while his chin was lost in his cravat. The consciousness of his dignity
  appeared in every gesture and in his condescending speech. Next him sat
  the invariably modest Tiet Nikonich, also in a dress coat, with a glance
  of devotion for Tatiana Markovna, and a smile for all. Then followed the
  priest in a silk gown with a broad embroidered girdle, the councillors
  of the local court, the colonel of the garrison, ladies from the town;
  young officials who stood talking in undertones in a corner; young girls,
  friends of Marfinka, who timidly clasped their damp hands and
  continually changed colour; finally a proprietor from the neighbourhood
  with three half-grown sons.
  
  When the company had already been assembled for some little time at the
  breakfast-table, Raisky entered. He felt that he was playing the rТle of
  an actor, fresh to the place, making his first appearance on the
  provincial stage after the most varying reports had been spread about
  him.
  
  Tatiana Markovna introduced him as "My nephew, the son of my late niece
  Sfonichka," though everybody knew who he was. Several people stood up to
  greet him. Niel Andreevich, who expected that he would come and speak to
  him, gave him a friendly smile; the ladies pulled their dresses straight
  and glanced at the mirror; the young officials who were standing eating
  off their plates in the corner shifted from one foot to the other; and
  the young girls blushed still more and pressed their hands as if danger
  threatened.
  
  Raisky bowed to the assembled guests, and sat down beside his aunt on
  the divan.
  
  "Look how he throws himself down," whispered a young official to his
  neighbour. "His Excellency is looking at him."
  
  "Niel Andreevich has been wanting to see you for a long time," said
  Tatiana Markovna aloud, adding under her breath, "His Excellency, don't
  forget." In the same low tone Raisky asked who the little lady was with
  the fine teeth and the well-developed figure.
  
  "Shame, Boris Pavlovich," and aloud, "Niel Andreevich, Borushka has been
  desiring to present himself to you for a long time."
  
  Raisky was about to reply when Tatiana Markovna pressed his hand,
  enjoining silence.
  
  "Why have you not given me the pleasure of a visit from you before,"
  said Niel Andreevich with a kindly air. "Good men are always welcome.
  But it is not amusing to visit us old people, and the new generation do
  not care for us, do they? And you hold with the young people. Answer
  frankly."
  
  "I do not divide mankind into the old and the new generation," said
  Raisky, helping himself to a slice of cake.
  
  "Don't hurry about eating; talk to him," whispered Tatiana Markovna.
  
  "I will eat and talk at the same time," he returned aloud.
  
  Tatiana Markovna looked confused, and turned her back on him.
  
  "Don't disturb him," continued Niel Andreevich. "Young people are like
  that. I am curious to know how you judge men, Boris Pavlovich."
  
  "By the impression they produce on me."
  
  "Admirable. I like you for your candour. Let us take an example. What is
  your opinion of me?"
  
  "I am afraid of you."
  
  Niel Andreevich laughed complacently.
  
  "Tell me why. You may speak quite plainly."
  
  "Why I am afraid of you? They say you find fault with everybody," he
  went on, heedless of Tatiana Markovna's efforts to interrupt. "My
  Grandmother tells me that you lectured one man for not having attended
  Mass."
  
  Tatiana Markovna went hot all over, and taking off her cap, put it down
  behind her.
  
  "I am glad she told you that. I like to have my doings correctly
  reported. Yes, I do lecture people sometimes. Do you remember?" he
  appealed to the young men at the door.
  
  "At your service, your Excellency," answered one of them quickly,
  putting one foot forward and his hands behind his back. "I once received
  one."
  
  "And why?"
  
  "I was unsuitably dressed."
  
  "You came to me one Sunday after Mass. I was glad to see you, but
  instead of appearing in a dress coat, you came in a short jacket."
  
  At this point Paulina Karpovna rustled in, wearing a muslin dress with
  wide sleeves so that her white arms were visible almost to the shoulder.
  She was followed by a cadet.
  
  "What heat! _Bonjour, Bonjour_," she cried, nodding in all
  directions, and then sat down on the divan beside Raisky.
  
  "There is not room here," he said, and sat down on a chair beside her.
  
  "Ah, Dalila Karpovna," remarked Niel Andreevich. "Good-day. How are
  you?"
  
  "Good-day," she answered drily, turning away.
  
  "Why don't you bestow a kind glance on me, and let me admire your
  swanlike neck!"
  
  The young officials in the corner giggled, the ladies smiled, and
  Paulina Karpovna whispered to Raisky: "The rude creature. The first word
  he speaks is folly."
  
  "Ah, you despise an old man. But if I were to seek for your hand? Do I
  look like a bridegroom, or am I too old for you?"
  
  "I decline the honour. _Bonjour_, Natalie Ivanovna, where did you
  buy that pretty hat, at Madame Pichet's?"
  
  "My husband ordered it from Moscow, as a surprise for me."
  
  "Very pretty."
  
  "But listen seriously," cried Niel Andreevich insistently. "I am going
  to woo you in earnest. I need a housekeeper, a modest woman, who is no
  coquette, and has no taste for finery, who never glances at another man,
  and you are an example."
  
  Paulina Karpovna pretended not to hear, but fanned herself and attempted
  to draw Raisky into a conversation.
  
  "In our esteem," went on Niel Andreevich, pitilessly, "you are a model
  for our mothers and daughters. At church your eyes remain fixed on the
  sacred picture without a moment's diversion, and never even perceive the
  presence of young men...."
  
  The giggling in the corner increased, the ladies made faces in their
  efforts to restrain their laughter, and Tatiana Markovna tried to divert
  Niel Andreevich's attention from her guest, by herself addressing her,
  but he returned to the attack.
  
  "You are as retiring as a nun," he went on, "never display your arms and
  shoulders, but bear yourself in accordance with your years."
  
  "Why don't you leave me alone?" returned Paulina Karpovna, and turning
  to Raisky she added: "_Est-il bЙte, grossier_."
  
  "Because I wish to marry you, we are a suitable pair."
  
  "It will be difficult to find a wife for you."
  
  "We are well matched. I was still an assessor when you married the late
  Ivan Egorovich. And that must be--"
  
  "How hot it is! Stifling! Let us go into the garden. Please give me my
  mantilla, Michel," she said turning to the cadet who had come with her.
  
  At this moment Vera appeared, and the company rose and crowded round her,
  so that the conversation took another turn. Raisky was bored by the
  guests, and by the exhibition he had just witnessed. He would have left
  the room, but that Vera's presence provided a strong incentive to remain.
  Vera looked quickly round at the guests, said a few words here and there,
  shook hands with the young girls, smiled at the ladies, and sat down on
  a chair by the stove. The young officials smoothed their coats, Niel
  Andreevich kissed her hand with evident pleasure, and the girls fixed
  their eyes on her. Meanwhile Marfinka was busily employed in pouring out
  time, handing dishes and particularly in entertaining her friends.
  
  "Vera Vassilievna, my dear, do take my part," cried Niel Andreevich.
  
  "Is any one offending you?"
  
  "Indeed there is. There is Dalila, no, Pelageia Karpovna--"
  
  "Impertinent creature," said that lady aloud, as she rose and went
  quickly towards the door.
  
  Tatiana Markovna also rose. "Where are you going, Paulina Karpovna?" she
  cried. "Marfinka, do not let her go."
  
  "No, no, Tatiana Markovna," came Paulina Karpovna's voice from the hall,
  "I am always grateful to you, but I do not wish to meet such a loon. If
  my husband were alive, no man would dare...."
  
  "Do not be vexed; he means nothing by it, but is in reality a decent old
  gentleman."
  
  "Please let me go. I will come again and see you when he is not here,"
  she said as she left the house in tears.
  
  In the room she had left everyone was in gay humour, and Niel Andreevich
  condescended to share the general laughter, in which however, neither
  Raisky nor Vera joined. Paulina Karpovna might be eccentric, but that
  did not excuse either the loonish amusement of the people assembled or
  the old man's attacks. Raisky remained gloomily silent, and shifted his
  feet ominously.
  
  "She is offended and has departed," remarked Niel Andreevich, as Tatiana
  Markovna, visibly agitated returned, and resumed her seat in silence.
  "It won't do her any harm, but will be good for her health. She
  shouldn't appear naked in society. This is not a bathing establishment."
  
  At this point the ladies lowered their eyes, and the young girls grew
  crimson, and pressed their hands nervously together.
  
  "Neither should she stare about her in church and have young men
  following her footsteps. Come, Ivan Ivanovich, you were once her
  indefatigable cavalier. Do you still visit her?" he asked a young man
  severely.
  
  "Not for a long time, your Excellency. I got tired of forever exchanging
  compliments."
  
  "It's a good thing you have given it up. What an example she sets to
  women and young girls, going about dressed in pink with ribbons and
  frills, when she is over forty. How can anybody help reading her a
  lecture? You see," he added turning to Raisky. "that I am only a terror
  to evildoers. Who has made you fear me?"
  
  "Mark," answered Raisky, to the excitement of all present.
  
  "What Mark?" asked Niel Andreevich, frowning.
  
  "Mark Volokov, who is in exile here."
  
  "Ah! that thief. Do you know him?"
  
  "We are friends."
  
  "Friends!" hissed the old man. "Tatiana Markovna, what do I hear?"
  
  "Don't believe him, Niel Andreevich. He does not know what he is talking
  about. What sort of a friend of yours is he?"
  
  "Why, Grandmother, did he not sup here with me and spend the night?
  Didn't you yourself give orders to have a soft bed made up for him?"
  
  "Boris Pavlovich, for pity's sake, be silent," whispered his aunt
  angrily.
  
  But Tychkov was already looking at her with amazement, the ladies with
  sympathy, while the men stared and the young girls drew closer to one
  another. Vera looked round the company, thanking Raisky by a friendly
  glance, and Marfinka hid behind her aunt.
  
  "What a confession! You admitted this Barabbas under your roof," said
  Niel Andreevich.
  
  "Not I, Niel Andreevich. Borushka brought him in at night, and I did not
  even know who was sleeping in his room."
  
  "You go round with him at night? Don't you know that he is a suspicious
  character, an enemy of the administration, a renegade from Church and
  Society. So he has been telling you about me?"
  
  "Yes," Raisky said.
  
  "By his description I am a wild beast, a devourer of men."
  
  "No, you do not devour them, but you allow yourself, by what right God
  only knows, to insult them."
  
  "And did you believe that?"
  
  "Until to-day, no."
  
  "And to-day?"
  
  "To-day, I believe it," agreed Raisky to the terror and agitation of the
  company. Most of the officials present escaped to the hall, and stood
  near the door listening.
  
  "How so," asked Niel Andreevich haughtily.
  
  "Because you have just insulted a lady."
  
  "You hear, Tatiana Markovna."
  
  "Boris Pavlovich, Borushka," she said, seeking to restrain him.
  
  "That old fashion-plate, that frivolous, dangerous woman!"
  
  "What do her faults matter to you. Who gave you the right to judge other
  people?"
  
  "Who gave you the right, young man, to reproach me? Do you know that I
  have been in the service for forty years, and that no minister has ever
  made the slightest criticism to me."
  
  "My right is that you have insulted a lady in my house. I should be a
  miserable creature to permit that. If you don't understand that, the
  worse for you."
  
  "If you receive a person who is, to the knowledge of the whole town,
  a frivolous butterfly, dressing in a way unsuited to her age, and
  leaving unfulfilled her duties to her family...."
  
  "Well, what then?"
  
  "Then both you and Tatiana Markovna deserve to hear the truth. Yes, I
  have been meaning to tell you for a long time, Matushka."
  
  "Frivolity, flightiness and the desire to please are not such terrible
  crimes. But the whole town knows that you have accumulated money through
  bribery that you robbed your own nieces and had them locked up in an
  asylum. Yet my Grandmother and I have received you in our house, and you
  take it upon yourself to lecture us."
  
  The guests who heard this indictment were horror-stricken. The ladies
  hurried out into the hall without taking leave of their hostess, the
  rest followed them like sheep, and soon all were gone. Tatiana Markovna
  motioned Marfinka and Vera to the door, but Marfinka alone obeyed the
  indication. As for Niel Andreevich he had become deadly pale.
  
  "Who," he cried, "who has brought you these tales? Speak! That brigand
  Mark? I am going straight to the Governor. Tatiana Markovna, if this
  young man again sets foot in your house, you and I are strangers.
  Otherwise within twenty four hours, both he and you and your whole
  household shall be transferred to a place where not even a raven can
  penetrate with food. Who? Who told him? I will know. Who? Speak," he
  hissed, gasping for breath, and hardly knowing what he said.
  
  "Stop talking rubbish, Niel Andreevich," commanded Tatiana Markovna,
  rising suddenly from her place. "You will explode with fury. Better
  drink some water. You ask who has said it. There is no secret about it,
  for I have said it, and it is common knowledge in the town."
  
  "Tatiana Markovna!" shrieked Niel Andreevich.
  "You have your deserts. Why make so much noise about it? In another
  person's house you attack a woman, and that is not the action of a
  gentleman."
  
  "How dare you speak like that to me?"
  
  Raisky would have thrown himself on him if his aunt had not waved him
  aside. Then with the commanding dignity she knew how to assume, she put
  on her cap, wrapt herself in her shawl, and went right up to Niel
  Andreevich, while Raisky looked on in amazement, with a sense of his own
  smallness in her majestic presence.
  
  "Who are you?" she began. "A clerk in the chancellery, an upstart. And
  yet you dare to address a noblewoman with violence. You have too good an
  opinion of yourself, and have asked for your lesson, which you shall
  have from me once and for all. Have you forgotten the days when you used
  to bring documents from the office to my father, and did not dare to sit
  down in my presence, when you used to receive gifts from my hand on
  feast-days? If you were an honest man no one would reproach you. But you
  have, as my nephew says, accumulated stolen wealth, and it has been
  endured out of weakness. You should hold your tongue, and repent in your
  old age of your evil life. But you are bursting, intoxicated with pride.
  Sober yourself and bow your head. Before you stands Tatiana Markovna
  Berezhkov, and also my nephew Boris Pavlovich Raisky. If I had not
  restrained him he would have thrown you out of the house, but I prefer
  that he should not soil his hands with you; the lackeys are good
  enough."
  
  As she stood there with blazing eyes, she bore a close resemblance to a
  portrait of one of her ancestors that hung on the wall. Tychkov turned
  his eyes this way and that seemingly beside himself with rage.
  
  "I shall write to St. Petersburg," he gasped, "the town is in danger."
  Then he slunk out, so agitated by her furious aspect that he dared not
  raise his eyes to her face.
  
  Tatiana Markovna maintained her proud bearing, though her fingers
  grasped nervously at her shawl. Raisky approached her hesitatingly,
  seeing in her, not his aunt, but another, and to him an almost unknown
  woman.
  
  "I did not understand the majesty of your temperament. But I make my bow,
  not as a grandson before to an honoured grandmother, but as man to woman.
  I offer you my admiration and respect, Tatiana Markovna, best of women,"
  he said, kissing her hand.
  
  "I accept your courtesy, Boris Pavlovich, as an honour which I have
  deserved. Do you accept for your honourable championship the kiss, not
  of a grandmother, but of a woman."
  
  As she kissed him on the cheek, he received another kiss from the other
  side.
  
  "This kiss is from another woman," said Vera in a low voice as she left
  the room, before Raisky's outstretched arms could reach her.
  
  "Vera and I have not spoken to one another, but we have both understood
  you. We do, in fact, talk very little, but we resemble one another,"
  said Tatiana Markovna.
  
  "Granny, you are an extraordinary woman!" cried Raisky, looking at her
  with as much enthusiasm as if he saw her for the first time.
  
  "Drive to the Governor's, Borushka, and tell him exactly what has
  happened so that the other party may not be first with his lying
  nonsense. I am going to beg Paulina Karpovna's pardon."
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XIII
  
  
  For three days the impression of this Sunday morning breakfast remained
  with Raisky. He had been surprised by this sudden transformation of
  Tatiana Markovna from grandmother and kindly hostess into a lioness, but
  he had been still more agitated by Vera's kiss. He could have wept for
  emotion, and would like to have built new hopes on it, but it was a kiss
  that led no further, a flash of lightning immediately extinguished.
  
  Raisky kept his promise, and neither went to Vera's room, nor followed
  her; he saw her only at meals and then rarely talked to her. He
  succeeded in hiding from her the fact that she still occupied his
  thoughts; he would like to have wiped out of her recollection his hasty
  revelation of himself to her.
  
  Then he began a portrait of Tatiana Markovna, and occupied himself
  seriously with the plan of his novel. With Vera as the central figure,
  and the scene his own estate and the bank of the Volga his fancy took
  shape and the secret of artistic creation became clear to him.
  
  It chanced once or twice that he found himself walking with Vera. Gaily
  and almost indifferently he poured out for her his store of thought and
  knowledge, even of anecdote, as he might do to any amiable, clever
  stranger, without second thoughts or any wish to reap an advantage. He
  led in fact a peaceful, pleasant life, demanding nothing and regretting
  nothing. He perceived with satisfaction that Vera no longer avoided him,
  that she confided in him and drew closer to him; she would herself come
  to his room to fetch books, and he made no effort to retain her.
  
  They often spent the afternoon with Tatiana Markovna. Vera apparently
  liked to hear him talk, and smiled at his jokes, though from time to
  time she would get up suddenly in the middle of a sentence when he was
  reading aloud or talking, and with some slight excuse, go out and not
  appear again for hours. He made no effort to follow her.
  
  He found recreation with friends in the town, driving occasionally with
  the Governor or taking part with Marfinka and Vera in some rural
  entertainment.
  
  The month which Mark had set as a limit for their wager, was nearly over,
  and Raisky felt himself free from passion. At least he thought so, and
  put down all his symptoms to the working of his imagination and to
  curiosity. On some days even Vera appeared to him in the same light as
  Marfinka. He saw in them two charming young girls, only late left school
  with all the ideas and adorations of the schoolgirl, with the
  schoolgirl's dream-theory of life, which is only shattered by experience.
  He told himself that he was absolutely cold and indifferent, and in a
  position truthfully to call himself her friend. He would shortly leave
  the place, but before that he must visit "Barabbas," take his last pair
  of trousers, and warn him against making a wager.
  
  He went to Leonti to ask where Mark was to be found and discovered them
  both at breakfast.
  
  "You might develop into a decent individual," cried Mark to him, "if you
  were a little bolder."
  
  "You mean if I had the boldness to shoot my neighbour or to storm an inn
  by night."
  
  "How will you take an inn by storm? Besides, there is no need, since
  your aunt has her own guesthouse. Many thanks for having chased that old
  swine from your house, I am told in conjunction with Tatiana Markovna.
  Splendid!"
  
  "Where did you hear that?"
  
  "The whole town is talking of it. I wanted to come and show my respect
  to you, when I suddenly heard that you were on friendly terms with the
  Governor, had invited him to your house, and that you and your aunt had
  stood on your hind paws before him. That is abominable, when I thought
  you had only invited him to show him the door."
  
  "That is what is called bourgeois courage, I believe."
  
  "I don't know what it is called, but I can best give you an example of
  the kind of courage. For some time the police inspector has been
  sniffing round our vegetable garden, so probably his Excellency has been
  kind enough to show an interest in me, and to enquire after my health
  and amusements. Well, I am training a couple of bull-dogs, and I hadn't
  had them a week before the garden was clear of cats. I have them ready
  at dark, and if the Colonel or his suite arrive, I shall let my beasts
  loose. Of course it will happen by accident."
  
  "I have come to say goodbye, for I am leaving here shortly."
  
  "You are going away?" asked Mark in astonishment, then added in a low,
  serious voice, "I should like to have a word with you."
  
  "Speak, by all means. Is it a question of money again?"
  
  "Money as far as I am concerned, but it is not of that I wish to speak
  to you. I will come to you later. I cannot speak of that now," he said
  looking significantly at Koslov's wife to indicate that he could not
  explain himself in her presence.
  
  "No one will let you go?" whispered Juliana Andreevna. "I have not once
  spoken to you out of hearing of my husband."
  
  "Have you brought the money with you," asked Mark suddenly, "the three
  hundred roubles for the wager?"
  
  "Where is the pair of trousers?" asked Raisky ironically.
  
  "I am not joking; you must pay me my three hundred roubles."
  
  "Why? I am not in love as you see."
  
  "I see that you are head over ears in love."
  
  "How do you see that."
  
  "In your face."
  
  "The month is past, and with it the wager at an end. As I don't need the
  trousers I will make you a present of them to go with the coat."
  
  "How can you go away?" complained Leonti. "And the books--"
  
  "What books?"
  
  "Your books. See for yourself by the catalogue that they are all right."
  
  "I have made you a present of them."
  
  "Be serious for a moment. Where shall I send them?"
  
  "Goodbye. I have no time to spare. Don't come to me with the books, or I
  will burn them. And you, wise man, who can tell a lover by his face,
  farewell. I don't know whether we shall meet again."
  
  "Where is the money? It isn't honest not to surrender it. I see the
  presence of love, which like measles has not yet come out, but soon will.
  Your face is already red. How tiresome that I fixed a limit, and so lose
  three hundred roubles by my own stupidity."
  
  "Goodbye."
  
  "You will not go," said Mark with decision.
  
  "I shall have another opportunity of seeing you, Koslov. I am not
  starting until next week."
  
  "You will not go," repeated Mark.
  
  "What about your novel?" asked Leonti. "You intended to finish it here."
  
  "I am already near the end of it, though there is still some arranging
  to be done, which I can do in St. Petersburg."
  
  "You will not end your romance either, neither the paper one nor the
  real one." said Mark.
  
  Raisky was about to answer, but thought better of it, and was quickly
  gone.
  
  "Why do you think he won't finish the novel?" asked Leonti.
  
  "He is only half a man," replied Mark with a scornful, bitter laugh.
  
  Raisky walked in the direction of home. His victory over himself seemed
  so assured that he was ashamed of his earlier weakness. He pictured to
  himself how he would now appear to her in a new and surprising guise,
  bold, deliberately scornful, with neither eyes nor desire for her beauty;
  and he pictured her astonishment and sorrow.
  
  In his impatience to see the effect of this new development in himself
  he stole into her room and crossed the carpet without betraying his
  presence. She sat with her elbows on the table, reading a letter,
  written as he noticed on blue paper in irregular lines and sealed with
  common blackish-brown sealing wax.
  
  "Vera!" he said in a low voice. She shrank back with such obvious
  terror that he too trembled, then quickly put the letter in her pocket.
  
  They looked at one another without stirring.
  
  "You are busy. Excuse my coming," he said, and took a step backward, as
  if to leave her.
  
  She made no answer, but, gradually recovering her self-possession, and
  without removing her eyes from his face she advanced towards him with
  her hand still in her pocket.
  
  "It must be a very interesting letter and a great secret," he said with
  a forced laugh, "since you conceal it so quickly."
  
  With her eyes still upon him she sat down on the divan.
  
  "Show me the letter," he laughed, betraying his agitation by a tremor of
  the voice. "You will not show it?" he went on as she looked at him in
  amazement and pressed her hand tighter in her pocket.
  
  She shook her head.
  
  "I don't need to read it. What possible interest could I have in another
  person's letter? I only wanted a proof of your confidence, of your
  friendly disposition towards me. You see my indifference. See, I am not
  as I was," he said, telling himself at the same time that the letter
  obsessed him.
  
  She tried, to read in his face the indifference in which he was
  insisting. His face indeed wore an aspect of indifference, but his voice
  sounded as if he were pleading for alms.
  
  "You will not show it," he said. "Then God be with you," and he turned
  to the door.
  
  "Wait," she said, putting her hand in her pocket and drawing out a
  letter which she showed him.
  
  He looked at both sides, and glanced at the signature, Pauline Kritzki.
  
  "That is not the letter," he said, returning it.
  
  "Do you see another?" she asked drily.
  
  He replied that he had not, fearing that she might accuse him of spying,
  and at her request began to read:
  
  "Ma belle chamante divine Vera Vassilievna! I am enraptured and fall on
  my knees before your dear, noble, handsome cousin; he has avenged me,
  and I am triumphant and weep for joy. He was great. Tell him that he is
  ever my knight, that I am his devoted slave. Ah, how I admire him, I
  would say--the word is on the tip of my tongue--but I dare not. Yet why
  should I not? Yes, I love him, I adore him. Everyone must adore him...."
  
  Here Raisky attempted to return the letter, but Vera bade him continue,
  as there was a request for him. He skipped a few lines and proceeded:--
  
  "Implore your cousin (he adores you. Do not deny it, for I have seen his
  passionate glances. What would I not give to be in your place).
  
  "Implore your cousin, darling Vera Vassilievna, to paint my portrait. I
  don't really care about the portrait, but to be with an artist to admire
  him, to speak to him, to breathe the same air with him! _Ma pauvre
  tЙte, je deviens folle. Je compte sur vous, ma belle et bonne amie, et
  j'attends la rИponse_."
  
  "What answer shall I give her?" asked Vera, as Raisky laid the letter on
  the table.
  
  He was thinking of the other letter, wondering why she had hidden it,
  and did not hear her question.
  
  "May I write that you agree?"
  
  "God forbid! on no account."
  
  "How is it to be done then? She wants to breathe the same air as you."
  
  "I should stifle in that atmosphere."
  
  "But if I ask you to do it?" whispered Vera.
  
  "You, what difference can it make to you?" he asked trembling.
  
  "I should like to say something pleasant to her," she returned, but did
  not add that she seized this means of detaching him from herself.
  Paulina Karpovna would not lightly let him out of her hands.
  
  "Should you accept it as a sign of friendship if I fulfilled your wish?
  Well, then," as she nodded, "I make two conditions, one that you should
  be present at the sittings. Otherwise I should be clearing out at the
  first sitting. Do you agree?" Then, as she nodded unwillingly, "the
  second is that you show me the other letter."
  
  "Which letter?"
  
  "The one you hid so quickly in your pocket."
  
  "There isn't another."
  
  "You would not have hidden this letter in terror; will you show the
  other?"
  
  "You are beginning again," she said reproachfully.
  
  "You need not trouble. I was only jesting. But for God's sake do not
  look on me as a despТt or a spy; it was mere curiosity. God be with you
  and your secrets."
  
  "I have no secrets," she returned drily as he rose to go.
  
  "Do you know that I am soon leaving?" he asked suddenly.
  
  "I heard so; is it true?"
  
  "Why do you doubt?"
  
  She dropped her eyes and said nothing.
  
  "You will be glad for me to go?"
  
  "Yes," she answered in a whisper.
  
  "Why," he said sadly, and came nearer.
  
  She thought for a moment, drew out another letter, glanced through it,
  carefully scratching out a word or a line here and there, and handed it
  to him.
  
  "Read that letter," she said, again slipping her hand into her pocket.
  
  He began to read the delicate handwriting: "I am sorry, dear Natasha,"
  and then asked, "Who is Natasha?"
  
  "The priest's wife, my school friend."
  
  "Ah! the pope's wife. It is your own letter. That is interesting," and
  he became absorbed in the reading.
  
  "I am sorry, dear Natasha," the letter ran, "that I have not written to
  you since my return. As usual I have been idle, but I had other reasons,
  which you shall learn. The chief reason you already know (here some
  words were scratched out), which agitates me very much. But of that we
  will speak when we meet.
  
  "The other reason is the arrival of our relative, Boris Pavlovich Raisky.
  For my misfortune he scarcely ever leaves the house, so that for a
  fortnight I did hardly anything except hide from him. What an abundance
  of reason, of different kinds of knowledge, of brilliance, of talent he
  brought with him, and with it all what unrest. He upsets the whole
  household. He had hardly arrived before he was seized with the firm
  conviction that not only the estate, but all that lived on it, were his
  property. Taking his stand on a relationship, which hardly deserves the
  name, and on the fact that he knew us when we were little, he treated us
  as if we were children or schoolgirls. Although I have hidden myself
  from him, I have only just succeeded in preventing him from seeing how I
  sleep and dream, and what I hope and wait for.
  
  "This pursuit has almost made me ill, and I have seen no one, written to
  no one. I feel like a prisoner. It is as if he were playing with me,
  perhaps quite against his own will. One day he is cold and indifferent,
  the next his eyes are ablaze, and I fear him as I would a madman. The
  worst of all seems to me to be that he does not know himself, so that no
  reliance can be placed on his plans and promises; he decides on one
  course, and the next day takes another. He himself says he is nervous,
  susceptible and passionate, and he may be right. He is no play actor,
  and does not disguise himself; he is, I think, too sensible and
  well-bred, indeed, too honest, for that.
  
  "He is by way of being an artist, draws, writes, improvises very nicely
  on the piano, and dreams of art. Yet it seems to me that he does
  substantially nothing, but is spending his life, as he says, in the
  adoration of beauty; he is a lover by temperament, like (do you
  remember?) Dashenka Sfemechkin, who fell in love with a Spanish prince,
  whose portrait she had seen in a German calendar, and would admit no one,
  not even the piano-tuner, Kish. But Boris Pavlovich is full of kindness
  and honour, is upright, gay, original, but all these qualities are so
  disconnected and uncertain in their expression that we don't know what
  to make of them. Now he seeks my friendship, but I am afraid of him, am
  afraid he may do anything, am afraid (here some lines were crossed out).
  Ah, if only he would go away. It is terrible to think he may one day
  (here again words were crossed out).
  
  "And I need one thing--rest. The doctor says I am nervous, must spare
  myself, and avoid all agitation. Thank God, he is also attached to
  Grandmother, and I am left in peace. I do not want to step out of the
  circle I have drawn for myself; and nobody else should cross the line.
  In its sanctity lies my peace and my whole happiness.
  
  "If Raisky oversteps this line, the only course that remains to me is to
  fly from here. That is easy to say, but where? And then I have some
  conscience about it, because he is so good, so kind to me and my sister,
  and means to make a gift to us of this place, this Paradise, where I
  have learned to live and not to vegetate. It lies on my conscience that
  he should squander these undeserved tokens of affection, that he tries
  to be brilliant for my sake, and to awaken in me some affection,
  although I have denied him every hope. Ah, if he only knew how vain his
  efforts are.
  
  "Now I will tell you about _him_...."
  
  The letter went no further, and Raisky looked at the lines as if he were
  trying to read behind them. Vera had said practically nothing about
  herself; she remained in the shadow, while the whole garish light fell
  on him.
  
  "There was another letter," he said sharply, "written on blue paper."
  
  Vera had not left the room, but someone's hand was on the lock.
  
  "Who is there?" asked Raisky with a start.
  
  In the doorway appeared Vassilissa's anxious face.
  
  "It's I," she said in a low voice. "It's a good thing you are here,
  Boris Pavlovich; they are asking for you. Please make haste. There is
  nobody in the hall. Yakob is at church. Egorka has been sent to the
  Volga for some fish, and I am alone with Pashutka."
  
  "Who is asking for me?"
  
  "A gendarme from the Governor. The Governor asks you to go to see him,
  at once, if possible, if not to-morrow morning. The business is
  pressing."
  
  "Very well. I will go."
  
  "Please, as quickly as possible. Then _he_ has also come."
  
  "Who?"
  
  "The man they would like to horsewhip. He has made himself at home in
  the hall, and is waiting for you. The Mistress and Marfa Vassilievna
  have not yet returned from the town."
  
  "Didn't you ask his name?"
  
  "He gave his name, but I have forgotten. He is the man who stayed the
  night with you when you were drinking. Please, Boris Pavlovich, be quick.
  Pashutka and I have locked ourselves in."
  
  "Why?"
  
  "Because we were afraid. I climbed out of the window into the yard to
  come and tell you. If only he does not nose anything out."
  
  Raisky went with her, laughing. He sent a message by the gendarme that
  he would be with the Governor in an hour. Then he sought out Mark and
  led him into his room.
  
  "Do you wish to spend the night with me?" he asked ironically.
  
  "I am indeed a nightbird," answered Mark, who looked anxious. "I receive
  too much attention in the daytime, and it puts less shame on your Aunt's
  house. The magnificent old lady, to show Tychkov the door. But I have
  come to you on important business," he said, looking serious.
  
  "You have business! That is interesting."
  
  "Yes, more serious than yours. To-day I was at the police-station, not
  exactly paying a call. The police inspector had invited me, and I was
  politely fetched with a pair of grey horses."
  
  "What has happened?"
  "A trifling thing. I had lent books to one or two people...."
  
  "Perhaps mine, that you had taken from Leonti?"
  
  "Those and others--here is the list," he said, handing him a slip of
  paper.
  
  "To whom did you give the books?"
  
  "To many people, mostly young people. One fool, the son of an advocate,
  did not understand some French phrases, and showed the book to his
  mother, who handed it on to the father, and he in his turn to the
  magistrate. The magistrate, having heard of the name of the author, made
  a great commotion and informed the Governor. At first the lad would not
  give me away, but when they applied the rod to him he gave my name, and
  to-day they summoned me to court."
  
  "And what line did you adopt?"
  
  "What line?" said Mark laughing, as he looked at Raisky. "They asked me
  whose books they were, and where I had got them, and I said from you;
  some you had brought with you; others, Voltaire, for instance, I had
  found in your library."
  
  "I'm much obliged. Why did you put this honour on me?"
  
  "Nobody will meddle with you, since you are in his Excellency's favour.
  Then you are not living here under official compulsion. But I shall be
  sent off to a third place of exile; this is already the second. At any
  other time this would be a matter of indifference to me, but just now,
  for the time being, at least, I should like to stay here."
  
  "And what else?"
  
  "Nothing. I only wanted to tell you what I have done, and to ask whether
  you will take it on yourself or not."
  
  "But what if I won't, and I don't intend to."
  
  "Then instead of your name I will give Koslov's. He is growing mouldy
  here. Let him go to prison. He can take up his Greeks again later."
  
  "No, he will never take them up again if he is robbed of his position,
  and of his bread and butter."
  
  "There you are right, my conclusions were illogical. It would be better
  for you to take it on yourself."
  
  "What are you to me that I should do so?"
  
  "On the former occasion I needed money, and you had what I lacked. This
  is the same case. No one will touch you, while I should be sent off. I
  am now logical enough."
  
  "You ask a remarkable service. I am just going to the Governor, who has
  sent for me. Good-bye."
  
  "He has sent for you, then?"
  
  "What am I to do? What should I say?"
  
  "Say that you are the hero of the piece, and the Governor will quash the
  whole matter, for he does not like sending special reports to St.
  Petersburg. With me it is quite different. I am under police supervision,
  and it is his duty to return a report every month as to my circumstances
  and my mode of life. However," he added with apparent indifference, "do
  as you like. And now come, for I have no more time either. Let us go as
  far as the wood together, and I will climb down the precipice. I will
  wait at the fisherman's on the island to see how the matter ends."
  
  At the edge of the precipice Mark vanished into the bushes. Raisky drove
  to the Governor's, and returned home about two o'clock in the morning.
  
  Although he had gone so late to bed, he rose early. The windows of
  Vera's room were still darkened. She is still sleeping, he thought, and
  he went into the garden, where he walked up and down for an hour,
  waiting for the drawing back of the lilac curtain. He hoped Marina would
  cross the yard, but she did not come. Then Tatiana Markovna's window was
  opened, the pigeons and the sparrows began to gather on the spot were
  they were wont to receive crumbs from Marfinka, doors opened and shut,
  the grooms and the servants crossed the yard, but the lilac curtain
  remained untouched. The gloomy Savili came out of his room and looked
  silently round the yard. When Raisky called him he came towards him with
  slow steps.
  
  "Tell Marina to let me know when Vera Vassilievna is dressed."
  
  "Marina is not here."
  
  "Where is she?"
  
  "She started at dawn to accompany the young lady over the Volga."
  
  "What young lady, Vera Vassilievna?"
  
  "Yes."
  
  "How did they go, and with whom?"
  
  "In the _brichka_, with the dun horse. They will return in the
  evening," he added.
  
  "Do you think they will return to-day?" asked Raisky with interest.
  
  "Assuredly. Prokor with the horse, and Marina too. They will see the
  young lady safely there, and return immediately."
  
  Raisky looked at Savili without seeing him, and they stood opposite one
  another for some time speechless.
  
  "Have you any further orders?" Savili asked at length.
  
  Raisky recovered himself, and inquired whether Savili was awaiting
  Marina. Savili replied by a curse on his wife.
  
  "Why do you beat her?" asked Raisky. "I have been intending for a long
  time to advise you to leave her alone."
  
  "I don't beat her any more."
  
  "Since when?"
  
  "For the last week, since she has stayed quietly at home."
  
  "Go, I have no orders. But do not beat Marina. It will be better both
  for you and her if you give her complete liberty."
  
  Raisky passed on his way with bent head, glancing sadly at Vera's window.
  Savili's eyes too were on the ground, and he had forgotten to put his
  cap on again in his amazement at Raisky's last words.
  
  "Passion once more!" thought Raisky. "Alas, for Savili, and for me!"
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XIV
  
  
  Since Vera's departure Raisky had experienced the meaning of unmitigated
  solitude. He felt as if he were surrounded by a desert, now that he was
  deprived of the sight of her, although nature around him was radiant and
  smiling. Tatiana Markovna's anxious solicitude, Marfinka's charming rule,
  her songs, her lively chatter with the gay and youthful Vikentev, the
  arrival and departure of guests, the eccentricities of the freakish
  Paulina Karpovna--none of these things existed for him. He only saw that
  the lilac curtain was motionless, the blinds had been drawn down, and
  that Vera's favourite bench remained empty.
  
  He did not want to love Vera, and if he had wished it he ought still to
  resist, for Vera had denied him every hope; indeed her beauty seemed to
  have lost its power over him, and he was now drawn to her by a different
  attraction.
  
  "What is Vera's real nature?" he asked his aunt one day.
  
  "You see for yourself. She recognises only her own understanding and her
  own will. She was born in my arms, and has spent her whole life with me,
  yet I do not know what is in her mind, what are her likes and dislikes.
  I do not force her, or worry her, so that she can hardly think herself
  unfortunate. You see for yourself that my girls live with me as free as
  the birds of the air."
  
  "You are right, Grandmother. It is not fear, or anxiety, or the power of
  authority that binds you to them, but the tenderest of home ties. They
  adore you, and so they ought to do, but it is the fruit of their
  upbringing. Why should worn-out conceptions of duty be pressed upon them,
  and why should they live like caged birds? Let them dip into the
  reservoir of life itself. A bird imprisoned in a cage loses the capacity
  for freedom, and, even if the door of his cage is opened, he will not
  take flight."
  
  "I have never tried to exercise restraint on Marfinka or Vera. Supposing
  a respectable, rich man of old and blameless family were to ask for
  Marfinka's hand, and she refused it, do you think I should persuade
  her?"
  
  "Well, Granny, I leave Marfinka to you, but do not attempt to do
  anything with Vera. You must not restrain her in any way, must leave her
  her freedom. One bird is born for the cage, another for freedom. Vera
  will be able to direct her own life."
  
  "Do I restrain or repress her? I am like the police inspector who only
  sees that there is an outward semblance of order; I do not penetrate
  below the surface unless my assistance is invited."
  
  "Tell me, Grandmother, what sort of a woman is this priest's wife, and
  what are the links that bind her to Vera?"
  
  "Natalie Ivanovna and Vera made friends at a boarding school. She is a
  good, modest woman."
  
  "Is she sensible? Possibly a woman of weight and character?"
  
  "Oh no! She is not stupid, is fairly educated, a great reader, and fond
  of dress. The pope, who is much liked by the local landowner, is not
  poor, and lives in comfort on his own land. He is a sensible man,
  belongs to the younger generation, but he leads too worldly a life for
  the priesthood, as is the custom in landed society. He reads French
  books, and smokes, for instance; things that are unsuited to the
  priestly garb. Every glance of Veroshka's, every mood of hers is sacred
  to Natalie Ivanovna; whatever she may say is wise and good. This suits
  Vera, who does not want a friend, but an obedient servant; that is why
  she loves the pope's wife."
  
  "And Vera loves you too?" asked Raisky, who wanted to know if Vera loved
  anybody else except the pope's wife.
  
  "Yes, she loves me," answered Tatiana Markovna with conviction, "but in
  her own fashion. She never shows it, and never will, though she loves me
  and would be ready to die for me."
  
  "And you love Vera?"
  
  "Ah, how I love her!" she sighed, and tears stood in her eyes. "She does
  not know, but perhaps one day she may learn."
  
  "Have you noticed how thoughtful she has been for some time. Is she not
  in love?" he added in a half-whisper, but immediately regretted the
  question, which it was too late to withdraw. His aunt started back as if
  a stone had hit her.
  
  "God forbid!" she cried, making the sign of the Cross. "This sorrow has
  been spared us. Do not disturb my peace, but confess, as you would to
  the priest, if you know anything."
  
  Raisky was annoyed with himself, and made an effort, partially
  successful, to pacify his aunt.
  
  "I have not noticed anything more than you have. She would hardly be
  likely to say anything to me that she kept secret from you."
  
  "Yes, yes, it is true she will say nothing. The pope's wife knows
  everything, but she would rather die than betray Vera's secrets. Her own
  secrets she scatters for anyone to pick up, but not Vera's."
  
  "With whom could she fall in love?" remarked Tatiana Markovna after a
  silence. "There is no one here."
  
  "No one?" interrupted Raisky quickly.
  
  Tatiana Markovna shook her head, then went on after a while:--
  
  "There might be the Forester. He is an excellent individual, and has
  shown an inclination, I notice. He would be certainly an admirable match
  for Vera, but...."
  
  "Well?"
  
  "She is so strange. Heaven knows how any one would dare, how any man
  would woo her. He is splendid--well-established and rich. The wood alone
  yields thousands."
  
  "Is the Forester young, educated, a man that counts?"
  
  Vassilissa entered and announced Paulina Karpovna.
  
  "The evil one himself has brought her," grumbled Tatiana Markovna. "Show
  her in, and be quick with breakfast."
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XV
  
  
  One evening a thunderstorm was brewing. The black clouds lay entrenched
  beyond the Volga, and the air was as hot and moist as in a bath-house.
  Here and there over the fields and roads rose pillars of dust.
  
  In the house Tatiana Markovna sent her household hurrying to close the
  stove pipes, the doors and the windows. She was not only afraid of a
  thunderstorm herself, but she was not pleased if her fear was not shared
  by everybody else--that would be freethinking. So at each flash of
  lightning everyone must make the sign of the Cross, on pain of being
  thought a blockhead. She chased Egorka from the ante-room into the
  servants' room, because during the approach of the storm he would not
  stop giggling with the maids.
  
  The storm approached majestically, with the dull distant noise of the
  thunder, with a storm of sand, when suddenly there was a flash of
  lightning over the village and a sharp clap of thunder.
  
  Disregarding the passionate warnings of his aunt, Raisky took his cap
  and umbrella and hurried into the park, anxious to see the landscape
  under the shadow of the storm, to find new ideas for his drawings, and
  to observe his own emotions. He descended the cliff, and passed through
  the undergrowth by a winding, hardly perceptible path. The rain fell by
  bucketfuls, one flash of lightning followed another, the thunder rolled,
  and the whole prospect was veiled in mist and cloud. He soon regretted
  his intention. His soaked umbrella did not protect him from the rain,
  which whipped his face and poured down on his clothes, and his feet sank
  ankle-deep in the muddy ground. He was continually knocking against and
  stumbling over unevennesses in the ground or tree stumps, treading in
  holes and pools. He was obliged to stand still until a flash of
  lightning lighted up a few yards of the path. He knew that not far away
  lay a ruined arbour, dating from the time when the precipice formed part
  of the garden. Not long before he had seen it in the thicket, but now it
  was indiscoverable, however much he would have preferred to observe the
  storm from its shelter. And since he did not wish to retrace the
  horrible path by which he had come, he resolved to make his way to the
  nearest carriage road, to climb over the twisted hedge and to reach the
  village.
  
  He could hardly drag his soaked boots free of the mud and weeds, and he
  was dazzled by the lightning and nearly deafened by the noise. He
  confessed that he might as well have admired the storm from the shelter
  of the house. In the end he struck the fence, but when he tried to leap
  over it he slipped and fell in the ditch. With difficulty he dragged
  himself out and clambered over. There was little traffic on the steep
  and dangerous ridge, used for the most part as a short cut by empty
  one-horse carriages with their quiet beasts.
  
  He closed his dripping umbrella, and put it under his arm. Dazzled by
  the lightning, slipping every minute, he toiled painfully up the slope,
  and when he reached the summit he heard close by the noise of wheels,
  the neighing of horses and the cry of the coachman. He stood on one side
  and pressed himself against the fence to allow the passage of the
  carriage, since the road was very narrow. In a flash of lightning Raisky
  saw before him a char-Ю-banc with several persons in it, drawn by two
  well-kept, apparently magnificent horses. In the light of another flash
  he was amazed to recognise Vera.
  
  "Vera," he cried loudly.
  
  The carriage stood still.
  
  "Who is there? Is it you, cousin, in this weather?"
  
  "And you?"
  
  "I am hurrying home."
  
  "So do I want to. I came down the precipice, and lost my way in the
  bushes.
  
  "Who is driving you? Is there room for me."
  
  "Plenty of room," said a masculine voice. "Give me your hand to get up."
  Raisky gave his hand, and was hauled up by a strong arm. Next to Vera
  sat Marina, and the two, huddled together like wet chickens, were trying
  to protect themselves from the drenching rain by the leather covering.
  
  "Who is with you?" asked Raisky in a low voice. "Whose horses are these,
  and who is driving?"
  
  "Ivan Ivanovich."
  
  "I don't know him."
  
  "The Forester," whispered Vera, and he would have repeated her words if
  she had not nudged him to keep silence. "Later," she said.
  
  He remembered the talk with his aunt, her praises of the Forester, her
  hints of his being a good match. This then was the hero of the romance,
  the Forester. He tried to get a look at him, but only saw an ordinary
  hat with a wide brim, and a tall, broad-shouldered figure wrapped in a
  rain coat.
  
  The Forester handled the reins skilfully as he drove up the steep hill,
  cracked his whip, whistled, held the horses' heads with a firm hand when
  they threatened to shy at a flash of lightning, and turned round to
  those sheltered in the body of the vehicle.
  
  "How do you feel, Vera Vassilievna," he inquired anxiously. "Are you
  very cold and wet?"
  
  "I am quite comfortable, Ivan Ivanovich; the rain does not catch me."
  
  "You must take my raincoat. God forbid that you should take cold. I
  should never forgive myself all my life for having driven you."
  
  "You weary me with your friendly anxiety. Don't bother about anything
  but your horses."
  
  "As you please," replied Ivan Ivanovich with hasty obedience, turning to
  his horses, and he cast only an occasional anxious glance towards Vera.
  
  They drove past the village to the door of the new house. Ivan Ivanovich
  jumped down and hammered on the door with his riding whip. Handing over
  the care of his horses to Prokor, Tarasska and Egorka, who hurried up
  for the purpose, he stood by the steps, took Vera in his arms, and
  carried her carefully and respectfully, like a precious burden, through
  the ranks of wide-eyed lackeys and maid-servants bearing lights, to the
  divan in the hall.
  
  Raisky followed, wet and dirty, without once removing his eyes from them.
  
  The Forester went back into the ante-room, made himself as respectable
  as he could, shook himself, pushed his fingers through his hair, and
  demanded a brush.
  
  Meanwhile Tatiana Markovna bade Vera welcome and reproached her for
  venturing on such a journey; she must change her clothes throughout and
  in a few moments the samovar would be brought in, and supper served.
  
  "Quick, quick, Grandmother!" said Vera, rubbing herself affectionately
  against her. "Let us have tea, soup, roast and wine. Ivan Ivanovich is
  hungry." She knew how to quiet her aunt's anxiety.
  
  "That's splendid. It shall be served in a minute. Where is Ivan
  Ivanovich?"
  
  "I am making myself a bit decent," cried a voice from the ante-room.
  
  Egor, Yakob and Stepan hummed round the Forester as if he had been a
  good horse. Then he entered the hall and respectfully kissed the hands
  of Tatiana Markovna, and of Marfinka, who had only just decided to get
  out of bed, where she had hidden herself for fear of the storm.
  
  "It is not necessary, Marfinka," said her aunt, "to hide from the storm.
  You should pray to God, and will not then be struck."
  
  "I am not afraid of thunder and lightning, of which the peasants are
  usually the victims, but it makes me nervous," replied Marfinka.
  
  Raisky, with the water still dripping off him, stood in the window
  watching the guest. Ivan Ivanovich Tushin was a tall, broad-shouldered
  man of thirty-eight, with strongly-marked features, a dark, thick beard,
  and large grey rather timid eyes, and hands disproportionately large,
  with broad nails. He wore a grey coat and a high-buttoned vest, with a
  broad turned-down home-spun collar. He was a fine man, but with marked
  simplicity, not to put a fine point on it in his glance and his manners.
  Raisky wondered jealously whether he was Vera's hero. Why not? Women
  like these tall men with open faces and highly developed muscular
  strength. But Vera--
  
  "And you, Borushka," cried Tatiana Markovna suddenly, clapping her hands.
  "Look at your clothes. Egorka and the rest of you! Where are you? There
  is a pool on the floor round you, Borushka. You will be ill. Vera was
  driving home, but there was no reason for you to go out into the storm.
  Go and change your clothes, Borushka, and have some rum in your tea.
  Ivan Ivanovich, you ought to go with him. Are you acquainted? My nephew
  Boris Raisky--Ivan Ivanovich Tushin."
  
  "We have already made acquaintance," said Tushin, with a bow. "We picked
  up your nephew on the way. Many thanks, I need nothing, but you, Boris
  Pavlovich, ought to change."
  
  "You must forgive an old woman for telling you you are all half mad. No
  animal leaves his hole in weather like this. Yakob, shut the shutters
  closer. Fancy crossing the Volga in weather like this."
  
  "My carriage is solid, and has a cover. Vera Vassilievna sat as dry as
  if she were in a room."
  
  "But in this terrible storm."
  
  "Only old women are afraid of a storm."
  
  "I'm much obliged."
  
  "I beg your pardon," said Tushin in embarrassment. "It slipped from my
  tongue. I meant ordinary women."
  
  "God will forgive you," laughed Tatiana Markovna. "It won't indeed hurt
  you, but Vera! Were you not afraid?"
  
  "One does not think of fear with Ivan Ivanovich."
  
  "If Ivan Ivanovich went bear-hunting, would you go with him?"
  
  "Yes, Grandmother. Take me with you sometimes, Ivan Ivanovich."
  
  "With pleasure, Vera Vassilievna, in winter. You have only to command."
  
  "That is just like her, not to mind what her Grandmother thinks."
  
  "I was joking, Grandmother."
  
  "I know you would be equal to it. Had you no scruples about hindering
  Ivan Ivanovich; this distance...."
  
  "It is my fault. As soon as I heard from Natalie Ivanovna that Vera
  Vassilievna wanted to come home, I asked for the pleasure," he said
  looking at Vera with a mixed air of modesty and respect.
  
  "A nice pleasure in this weather."
  
  "It was lighter while we were driving, and Vera Vassilievna was not
  afraid."
  
  "Is Anna Ivanovna well?"
  
  "Thank you. She sends her kindest regards, and has sent you some
  preserves, also some peaches out of the orangery, and mushrooms. They
  are in the char-Ю-banc."
  
  "It is very good of her. We have no peaches. I have put aside for her
  some of the tea that Borushka brought with him."
  
  "Many thanks."
  
  "How could you let your horses climb the hill in such weather? Were they
  terrified by the storm?"
  
  "My horses obey me like dogs. Should I have driven Vera Vassilievna if
  there were any danger?"
  
  "You are a good friend," interrupted Vera. "I have absolute trust both
  in you, and in your horses."
  
  At this moment Raisky returned, having changed his clothes. He had
  noticed the glance which Vera gave Tushin, and had heard her last remark.
  
  "Thank you, Vera Vassilievna," answered Tushin. "Don't forget what you
  have just said. If you ever need anything, if...."
  
  "If there is another such raging storm," said Tatiana Markovna.
  
  "Any storm," added Tushin firmly.
  
  "There are other storms in life," said Tatiana Markovna with a sigh.
  
  "Whatever they are, if they break on you, Vera Vassilievna, seek refuge
  in the forest over the Volga, where lives a bear who will serve you, as
  the fairytale tells."
  
  "I will remember," returned Vera laughing. "If a sorcerer wants to carry
  me off, as in the fairy-tale, I will take refuge in the wood."
  
  Raisky saw Tushin's glance of devotion and modest reserve, he heard his
  words, so quietly and modestly spoken, and thought the letter written on
  the blue paper could be from no one else. He looked at Vera to see if
  she were moved or would relapse into a stony silence, but she showed no
  sign. Vera appeared to him in a new light. In her manner and her words
  to Tushin he saw simplicity, trust, gentleness and affection such as she
  showed to no one else, not even to her aunt or to Marfinka.
  
  "She is on her guard with her Grandmother," he thought, "and takes no
  heed of Marfinka. But when she looks at Tushin, speaks to him, or gives
  her hand it is plain to see that they are friends."
  
  The Forester, who had business to do in the town, stayed for three days
  with Tatiana Markovna, and for three days Raisky sought for the key to
  this new character and to his place in Vera's heart.
  
  They called Ivan Ivanovich the "Forester," because he lived on his
  estate in the midst of the forest. He loved the forest, growing new
  timber on the one hand and on the other allowing it to be cut down and
  loaded up on the Volga for sale. The several thousand _dessiatins_
  of surrounding forest were exceedingly well managed, and nothing was
  lacking; there was even a steam saw. He attended to everything himself,
  and in his spare time hunted and fished and amused himself with his
  bachelor neighbours. From time to time he sought a change of scene, and
  then arranged with his friends to drive in a three-horse carriage, drawn
  by fresh horses, forty versts away to the seat of a landed proprietor,
  where for three days the fun was fast enough. Then they returned, put up
  with Tushin, or waked the sleepy town. In these festivals all class
  distinctions were lost.
  
  After this dissipation he would again remain lost to the world for three
  months in his forest home, see after the wood cutting, and go hunting
  with two servants, and occasionally have to lie up with a wounded arm.
  The life suited him. He read works on agriculture and forestry, took
  counsel with his German assistant, an experienced forester, who was
  nevertheless not allowed to be the master. All orders must come from
  Tushin himself, and were carried out by the help of two foremen and a
  gang of hired labourers. In his spare time he liked to read French
  novels, the only distraction that he permitted himself. There was
  nothing extraordinary in a retired life like this in the wide district
  in which he lived.
  
  Raisky learnt that Tushin saw Vera at the pope's house, that he went
  there expressly when he heard that Vera was a visitor. Vera herself told
  him so. She and Natalie Ivanovna, too, visited Tushin's property, known
  as "Smoke," because far away from the hills could be seen the smoke
  rising from the chimneys of the house in the depth of the forest.
  
  Tushin lived with his spinster sister, Anna Ivanovna, to whom Tatiana
  Markovna was much attached. Tatiana Markovna was delighted when she came
  to town. There was no one with whom she liked more to drink coffee, no
  one to whom she gave her confidence in the same degree; they shared the
  same liking for household management, the same deep-rooted self-esteem
  and the same respect for family tradition.
  
  Of Tushin himself there was little more to say than was revealed on a
  first occasion; his character lay bare to the daylight, with no secret,
  no romantic side. He possessed more than plain good sense, for his
  understanding did not derive from the brain alone, but from the heart
  and will. Men of his type, especially when they care nothing for the
  superfluous things of life, but keep their eyes fixed undeviatingly on
  the necessary, do not make themselves noticed in the crowd and rarely
  reach the front of the world's stage.
  
  Raisky noticed in the Forester's behaviour towards Vera a constant
  adoration expressed by his glance and his voice, and sometimes by his
  timidity; on her side an equally constant confidence, frankness and
  affection, nothing more. He did not surprise in her a single sign or
  gesture, a single word or glance that might have betrayed her. Tushin
  showed pure esteem and a consistent readiness to serve her as her bear,
  and no more. Surely he was not the man who wrote the letter on the blue
  paper.
  
  After the Forester had taken his leave, the household fell back into its
  regular routine. Vera seemed untroubled and in possession of a quiet
  happiness, and showed herself kind and affectionate to her aunt and
  Marfinka. Yet there were days when unrest suddenly came upon her, when
  she went hastily to her room in the old house, or descended the
  precipice into the park, and displayed a gloomy resentment if Raisky or
  Marfinka ventured to disturb her solitude. After a short interval she
  resumed an even, sympathetic temper, helped in the household, looked
  over her aunt's accounts, and even paid visits to the ladies in the town.
  She discussed literary questions with Raisky, who realised from the
  opinions she expressed that her reading was wide and enticed her into
  thorough-going discussions. They read together, though not regularly.
  Sometimes a wild intoxication flared up in her, but it was a
  disconcerting merriment. One evening, when she suddenly left the room,
  Tatiana Markovna and Raisky exchanged a long questioning glance.
  
  "What do you think of Vera?" she began. "She seems to have recovered
  from her malady of the soul."
  
  "I think it is more serious than before."
  
  "What is the matter with you, Borushka? You can see how gay and friendly
  she has become."
  
  "Is she like the Vera you have known. I fear that this is not gladness,
  but rather agitation, even intoxication."
  
  "You are right. She is changed."
  
  "Don't you notice that she is ecstatic?"
  
  "Ecstatic?" repeated Tatiana Markovna anxiously. "Why do you say that,
  especially just at night? I shan't sleep. The ecstasy of a young girl
  spells disaster."
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XVI
  
  
  Not only Raisky, but Tatiana Markovna gave up her attitude of
  acquiescence, and secretly began to watch Vera narrowly. Tatiana
  Markovna became thoughtful, she even neglected the affairs of the house
  and farm, left the keys lying on the table, did not speak to Savili,
  kept no accounts, and did not drive out into the fields. She grew
  melancholy as she sought in vain how she might seek from Vera a frank
  avowal, or find means to avert misfortune.
  
  Vera in love, in an ecstasy! It seemed to her more than small-pox or
  measles, worse even than brain fever. And with whom was she in love? God
  grant that it were Ivan Ivanovich. If Vera were married to him, she
  herself would die in peace. But her feminine instinct told her that
  whatever deep affection the Forester cherished for Vera, it was
  reciprocated by nothing more than friendship.
  
  Who then was the man? Of the neighbouring landowners there was only
  Tushin whom she saw and knew anything of. The young men in the town, the
  officers and councillors, had long since given up any hope of being
  received into her favour.
  
  She looked keenly and suspiciously at Vera when she came to dinner or
  tea, and tried to follow her into the garden, but as soon as Vera was
  aware of her aunt's presence she quickened her steps and vanished into
  the distance.
  
  "Spirited away like a ghost!" said Tatiana Markovna to Raisky. "I wanted
  to follow her, but where, with my old limbs? She flits like a bird into
  the woods, into the bushes, over the precipice."
  
  Raisky went immediately into the park, where he met Yakob, and asked him
  if he had seen the young lady.
  
  "I saw Vera Vassilievna just now by the chapel."
  
  "What was she doing there?"
  
  "Praying."
  
  Raisky went to the chapel, wondering to himself how she had come to take
  refuge in prayer. On the left there lay in the meadow between the park
  and the road, a lonely, weather-beaten, half-ruined wooden chapel,
  adorned with a picture of the Christ, a Byzantine painting in a bronze
  frame. The ikon had grown dark with age, the paint had been cracked in
  many places, so that the Christ face was hardly recognisable, but the
  eyelids were still plainly discernible, and the eyes looked out dreamily
  on the worshippers; the folded hands were also preserved.
  
  Raisky advanced noiselessly over the grass. Vera was standing with her
  back to him, her face turned towards the ikon, unconscious of his
  approach. On the grass by the chapel lay her straw hat and sunshade. Her
  hands did not make the sign of the Cross, her lips uttered no prayers,
  her whole body appeared motionless, as if she hardly breathed; her whole
  being was at prayer.
  
  Involuntarily Raisky too held his breath. Is she begging for happiness,
  or is she confiding her sorrow to the Crucified?
  
  Suddenly she awoke from her prayer, turned and started when she caught
  sight of Raisky.
  
  "What are you doing here?" she said severely.
  
  Yakob met me and said you were here; so I came. Grandmother...."
  
  "Since you mention Grandmother, I will point out that she has been
  watching me for some time. Do you know the reason?" she asked, looking
  straight into his eyes.
  
  "I think she always does."
  
  "No, it was not her idea to watch me. Tell me without concealing
  anything, have you communicated to her your suppositions about love and
  a letter written on blue paper?"
  
  "I think not of the letter."
  
  "Then of love. I must know what you said?"
  
  "We were speaking of you. Grandmother has her own questionings as to why
  you are so serious one moment and so gay the next. I said (it is a long
  time ago) that perhaps you were in love."
  
  "And Grandmother?"
  
  "She was terrified."
  
  "Why?"
  
  "Chiefly because of your evident excitement."
  
  "Grandmother's peace of mind is dear to me; dearer, perhaps, than you
  think."
  
  "She told me herself that she believed in your boundless love for her."
  
  "Thank God! I am grateful to you for repeating this to me. Go to
  Grandmother and destroy this curiosity of hers about my being in love,
  in ecstasy. It cannot be difficult for you, and you will fulfil my
  wishes if you love me."
  
  "What would I not do to prove it to you. Later in the evening...."
  
  "No, this minute. When I come to dinner her eyes are to look on me as
  before, do you understand?"
  
  "Well, I will go!" promised Raisky, but did not stir.
  
  "Make haste!"
  
  "And you?"
  
  For answer she pointed in the direction of the house.
  
  "One word more," she said, detaining him. "You must never, never talk
  about me to Grandmother, do you understand?"
  
  "Agreed, sister."
  
  She motioned him to be gone, and when turning into an avenue he looked
  round for a moment, she had vanished. She had, as Grandmother said,
  disappeared like a ghost. A moment later there was the report of a gun
  from the precipice. Raisky wondered who was playing tricks there, and
  went towards the house.
  
  Vera appeared punctually at the midday meal. Keenly as he looked at her,
  Raisky could observe no change in her. Tatiana Markovna glanced at him
  once or twice in inquiry, but was visibly reassured when she saw no
  signs of anything unusual. Raisky had executed Vera's commission, and
  had alleviated her acutest anxiety, but it was impossible to reassure
  her completely.
  
  Tatiana Markovna was saddened and wounded by the lack of confidence
  shown her by Vera, her niece, her daughter, her dearest child, entrusted
  to her care by her mother. Terror overcame her. She lay awake anxiously
  through the night, she questioned Marina, sent Marfinka to find out what
  Vera was doing, but without result. Suddenly there occurred to her what
  seemed to her a good plan; as she put it to Raisky, she would make use
  of allegory. She remembered that she possessed a moral tale which she
  had read and wept over in her own youth. Its theme was the disastrous
  consequences which followed on passion and disobedience to parents. A
  young man and a girl loved one another, and met against the will of
  their parents. She stood on the balcony beckoning and talking to him,
  and they wrote one another long epistles. Others intervened, the young
  girl lost her reputation, and the young man was sent to some vague place
  in America by his father.
  
  Like many others Tatiana Markovna pinned her faith to the printed word,
  especially when the reading was of an edifying character. So she took
  her talisman from the shelf, where it lay hidden under a pile of rubbish,
  and laid it on the table near her work basket. At dinner she declared to
  the two sisters her desire that they should read aloud to her on
  alternate evenings, especially in bad weather, since she could not read
  very much on account of her eyes. Generally speaking, she was not an
  enthusiastic reader, and only liked to listen when Tiet Nikonich read
  aloud to her on agricultural matters or hygiene, or about distressing
  occurrences of murder or arson.
  
  Vera said nothing, but Marfinka asked immediately whether the book had a
  happy ending.
  
  "What sort of book is it?" inquired Raisky, picking up the book and
  glancing at a page here and there. "What old rubbish have you discovered,
  Grandmother. I expect you read it when you were in love with Tiet
  Nikonich."
  
  "Don't be foolish, Boris Pavlovich. You are not asked to read."
  
  Raisky took his departure, and the room was left to the reading party.
  
  Vera was unendurably bored, but she never refused assent to any
  definitely expressed wish of her aunt's. At last, after three or four
  evenings, the point was reached where the lovers exchanged their vows.
  The tale was faultlessly moral and horribly dull. Vera hardly listened.
  At each word of love her aunt looked at her to see whether she was
  touched, whether she blushed or turned pale, but Vera merely yawned.
  
  On the last evening when only a few chapters were left, Raisky stayed in
  the room when the table was cleared and the reading began. Vikentev, too,
  was present. He could not sit quiet, but jumped up from time to time,
  ran to Marfinka, and begged to be allowed to take his share in the
  reading. When they gave him the book he inserted long tirades of his own
  in the novel, or read with a different voice suited to each character.
  He made the heroine lisp in a mournful whisper, the hero speak with his
  own natural voice, so that Marfinka blushed and looked angrily at him,
  and the stern father spoke with the voice of Niel Andreevich. At last
  Tatiana Markovna took the book from him with an intimation to him to
  behave reasonably, whereupon he continued his studies in
  character-mimicry for Marfinka's benefit behind her back. When Marfinka
  betrayed him he was requested to go into the garden until supper time
  and the reading went on without him. The catastrophe of the tale
  approached at last, and when the last word was read and the book shut
  there was silence.
  
  "What stupid nonsense," said Raisky at length, and Marfinka wiped away a
  tear.
  
  "What do you think, Veroshka?" asked Tatiana Markovna.
  
  Vera made no reply, but Marfinka decided it was a horrid book because
  the lovers had suffered so cruelly.
  
  "If they had followed the advice of their parents, things would not have
  come to such a pass. What do you think, Veroshka?"
  
  Vera got up to go, but on the threshold she stopped.
  
  "Grandmother," she said, "why have you bothered me for a whole week with
  this stupid book?" And without waiting for an answer she glided away,
  but Tatiana Markovna called her back.
  
  "Why, Vera, I meant to give you pleasure."
  
  "No, you wanted to punish me for something. In future I would rather be
  put for a week on bread and water," and kneeling on the footstool at her
  aunt's feet she added, "Good-night, Grandmother."
  
  Tatiana Markovna stooped to kiss her and whispered. "I did not want to
  punish you, but to guard you against getting into trouble yourself."
  
  "And if I do," whispered Vera in reply, "will you have me put in a
  convent like Cunigunde?"
  
  "Do you think I am a monster like those bad parents? It's wicked, Vera,
  to think such things of me."
  
  "I know it would be wicked, Grandmother, and I don't think any such
  thing. But why warn me with such a silly book?"
  
  "How should I warn you and guard you, my dear. Tell me and set my mind
  at rest."
  
  "Make the sign of the Cross over me," she said after a moment's
  hesitation, and when her aunt had made the holy sign, Vera kissed her
  hand and left the room.
  
  "A wise book," laughed Raisky. "Well, has the beautiful Cunigunde's
  example done any good?"
  
  Tatiana Markovna was grieved and in no mood for joking, and sent for
  Pashutka to take the book to the servants' room.
  
  "You have brought Vera up in the right way," said Raisky. "Let Egorka
  and Marina read your allegory together, and the household will be
  impeccable."
  
   * * * * *
  
  Vikentev called Marfinka into the garden, Raisky went to his room, and
  Tatiana Markovna sat for a long time on the divan, absorbed in thought.
  She had lost all interest in the book, was herself sickened by its pious
  tone, and was really ashamed of having had recourse to so gross a method.
  Marina, Yakob and Vassilissa came one after another to say that supper
  was ready, but Tatiana Markovna wanted none, Vera declined, and to
  Marina's astonishment even Marfinka, who never went supperless to bed,
  was not hungry.
  
  Meanwhile Egorka had got wind of the universal loss of appetite. He
  helped himself to a considerable slice from the dish with his fingers to
  taste, as he told Yakob, whom he invited to share the feast. Yakob shook
  his head and crossed himself, but nevertheless did his share, so that
  when Marina came to clear the table the fish and the sweets were gone.
  
  The mistress's preparations for rest were made, and quiet reigned in the
  house. Tatiana Markovna rose from the divan and looked at the ikon. She
  crossed herself, but she was too restless for prayer, and did not kneel
  down as usual. Instead she sat down on the bed and began to go over her
  passage of arms with Vera. How could she learn what lay on the girl's
  heart. She remembered the proverb that wisdom comes with the morning,
  and lay down, but not that night to sleep, for there was a light tap on
  the door, and she heard Marfinka's voice, "Open the door. Grandmother.
  It's me."
  
  "What's the matter, my dear?" she said, as she opened the door. "Have
  you come to say good-night. God bless you! Where is Nikolai Andreevich?"
  
  But she was terrified when she saw Marfinka's face.
  
  "Sit down in the armchair," she said, but Marfinka clung to her.
  
  "Lie down, Grandmother, and I will sit on the bed beside you. I will
  tell you everything, but please put out the light."
  
  Then Marfinka began to relate how she had gone with Vikentev into the
  park to hear the nightingales sing, how she had first objected because
  it was so dark.
  
  "Are you afraid?" Vikentev had asked.
  
  "Not with you," and they had gone on hand in hand.
  
  "How dark it is! I won't go any farther. Don't take hold of my hand!"
  She went on involuntarily, although Vikentev had loosed her hand, her
  heart beating faster and faster. "I am afraid, I won't go a step
  farther." She drew closer to him all the same, terrified by the
  crackling of the twigs under her feet.
  
  "Here we will wait. Listen!" he whispered.
  
  The nightingale sang, and Marfinka felt herself enveloped in the warm
  breath of night. At intervals her hand sought Vikentev's, but when he
  touched hers she drew it back.
  
  "How lovely, Marfa Vassilievna! What an enchanted night!"
  
  She nudged him not to disturb the song.
  
  "Marfa Vassilievna," he whispered, "something so good, so wonderful is
  happening to me, something I have never felt before. It is as if
  everything in me was astir. At this moment," he went on as she remained
  silent, "I should like to fling myself on horseback, and ride, ride,
  till I had no breathe left, or fling myself into the Volga and swim to
  the opposite bank. Do you feel anything like that?"
  
  "Let us go away from here. Grandmother will be angry."
  
  "Just a minute more. How the nightingale does sing! What does he sing?"
  
  "I don't know."
  
  "Just what I should like to say to you, but don't know how to say."
  
  "How do you know what he sings? Can you speak nightingale language?"
  
  "He is singing of love, of my love for you," and startled by his own
  words he drew her hand to his lips and covered it with kisses.
  
  She drew it back, and ran at full speed down the avenue towards the
  house; on the steps she waited a moment to take breath.
  
  "Not a step farther," she cried breathlessly, clinging to the doorpost
  as he overtook her. "Go home."
  
  "Listen, Marfa Vassilievna, my angel," he cried, falling on his knees.
  "On my knees I swear...."
  
  "If you speak another word, I go straight to Grandmother."
  
  He rose, and led her by force into the avenue.
  
  "What are you doing? I will call, I won't listen to your nightingale."
  
  "You won't listen to it, but you will to me."
  
  "Let me go. I will tell Grandmother everything."
  
  "You must tell her to-night, Marfa Vassilievna. We have come too near to
  one another that if we were suddenly separated.... Should you like that,
  Marfa Vassilievna? If you like I will go away for good."
  
  She wept and seized his hand in panic, when he drew back a step.
  
  "You love me, you love me," he cried.
  
  "Does your mother know what you are saying to me?"
  
  "Not yet."
  
  "Ought you to say it then? Is it honourable?"
  
  "I shall tell her to-morrow."
  
  "What if she will not give her blessing?"
  
  "I won't obey."
  
  "But I will. I will take no step without your Mother's and Grandmother's
  consent," she said, turning to go.
  
  "As far as I am concerned, I am sure of my Mother's consent. I will
  hurry now to Kolchino, and my Mother will send you her consent to-morrow.
  Marfa Vassilievna, give me your hand."
  
  "What will Grandmother say? If she does not forgive me I shall die of
  shame," she said, and she hurried into the house.
  
  "Heavens, what will Grandmother say?" she wondered, shutting herself up
  in her room, and shaking with fever. How should she tell her grandmother,
  and should she tell Veroshka first. She decided in favour of her
  grandmother, and when the house was quiet slipped to her room like a
  mouse.
  
  The two talked low to one another for a long time. Tatiana Markovna made
  the sign of the cross over her darling many times, until she fell asleep
  on her shoulder. Then she carefully laid the girl's head on the pillow,
  rose, and prayed with many tears. But more heartily than for Marfinka's
  happiness she prayed for Vera, with her grey head bowed before the cross.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XVII
  
  
  Vikentev kept his word, and on the very next day brought his mother to
  Tatiana Markovna, he himself taking refuge in his office, where he sat
  on pins and needles.
  
  His mother, still a young woman, not much over forty, as gay and full of
  life as he himself was, had plenty of practical sense. They kept up
  between themselves a constant comic war of words; they were for ever
  disputing about trifles, but when it came to serious matters, she
  proclaimed her authority to him with quite another voice and another
  manner. And though he indeed usually began by protesting, he submitted
  to her will, if her request was reasonable. An unseen harmony underlay
  their visible strife.
  
  That night, after Marfinka had left him, Vikentev had hurried to
  Kolchino. He rushed to his mother, threw his arms round her and kissed
  her. When, nearly smothered by his embrace, she thrust him from her, he
  fell on his knees and said solemnly: "Mother, strike me if you will, but
  listen. The supreme moment of my life has arrived. I have...."
  
  "Gone mad," she supplied, looking him up and down.
  
  "I am going to be married," he said, almost inaudibly.
  
  "What? Mavra, Anton, Ivan, Kusma! Come here, quick!"
  
  Mavra alone responded to the call.
  
  "Call everybody. Nikolai Andreevich has gone mad."
  
  "I am not joking, and I must have an answer tomorrow."
  
  "I will have you locked up," she said, seriously disturbed at last.
  
  Far into the night the servants heard heated arguments, the voices of
  the disputants now rising almost to a shout, then laughter, then
  outbursts of anger from the mistress, a gay retort from him, then dead
  silence, the sign of restored tranquillity. Vikentev had won the victory,
  which was indeed a foregone conclusion, for while Vikentev and Marfinka
  were still uncertain of their feelings, Tatiana Markovna and Marfa
  Egorovna had long before realised what was coming, and both, although
  they kept their own counsel, had weighed and considered the matter, and
  had concluded that the marriage was a suitable one.
  
  "What will Tatiana Markovna say?" cried Marfa Egorovna to her son the
  next morning as the horses were being put in. "If she does not agree, I
  will never forgive you for the disgrace it will bring on us, do you
  hear?"
  
  She herself, in a silk dress and a lace mantle, with yellow gloves and a
  coquettish fan, might have been a fiancИe. When Tatiana Markovna was
  informed of the arrival of Madame Vikentev, she had her shown into the
  reception room. Before she herself changed her dress to receive her,
  Vassilissa had to peer through the doorway to see what kind of toilette
  the guest had made. Then Tatiana Markovna donned a rustling silk dress
  with a silver sheen, over which she wore her Turkish shawl; she even
  tried to put on a pair of diamond earrings, but gave up the attempt
  impatiently, telling herself that the holes in her ears had grown
  together. Then she sent word to Vera and Marfinka to change their
  dresses. In passing she told Vassilissa to set out the best table linen,
  and the old silver and glass for the breakfast and the dinner table. The
  cook was ordered to serve chocolate in addition to the usual dishes, and
  sweets and champagne were ordered. With folded hands, adorned for the
  occasion with old and costly rings, she stepped solemnly into the
  reception room. But when she caught sight of her guest's pleasant face
  she all but forget the importance of the moment, but pulled herself
  together in time, and resumed her serious aspect.
  
  Marfa Egorovna rose in friendly haste to meet her hostess, and began:
  "What ideas my mad boy has!" but restrained herself when she saw Madame
  Berezhkov's attitude. They exchanged ceremonious greetings. Tatiana
  Markovna asked the visitor to sit on the divan, and seated herself
  stiffly beside her.
  
  "What is the weather like?" she asked. "Had you a windy crossing over
  the Volga?"
  
  "There was no wind."
  
  "Did you come by the ferry?"
  
  "In the boat. The calХche was brought over on the ferry."
  
  "Yakob, Egorovna, Petrushka? Where are you? Why don't you come when you
  are called? Take out the horses, give them fodder, and see that the
  coachman is well looked after."
  
  The servants, who had rushed in to answer the summons, hurried out. Of
  course the horses had been taken out while Tatiana Markovna was dressing,
  and the coachman was already sitting in the servants' room, doing full
  justice to the beer set before him.
  
  "No, no, Tatiana Markovna," protested the visitor, "I have come for half
  an hour on business."
  
  "Do you think you will be allowed to go?" asked Tatiana Markovna in a
  voice that permitted no reply. "You have come a long way from over the
  Volga. Is this the first year of our acquaintance? Do you want to insult
  me?"
  
  "Ah, Tatiana Markovna, I am so grateful to you, so grateful! You are
  just like a relative, and how you have spoilt my Nikolai!"
  
  "I feel sometimes as if he were my own son," burst from Tatiana Markovna,
  whose dignity could hold out no longer against these friendly advances.
  
  "Yes, you are so kind to him, Tatiana Markovna, that, presuming on your
  kindness, he has taken it into his head...."
  
  "Well?"
  
  "He begged me to come over to see you, and he asks for the hand of Marfa
  Vassilievna. Marfa Vassilievna agrees; she loves Nikolai."
  
  "Because Marfinka took upon herself to answer his declaration she is now
  shut up in her room, in her petticoat, without shoes," lied her aunt.
  Then in order to lay full stress on the importance of the moment, she
  added: "I have given orders not to admit your son, so that he may not
  play with a poor girl's affections."
  
  It was impossible for Marfa Egorovna not to recognise the provocation of
  these remarks.
  
  "If I had foreseen this," she said angrily, "I would have given him a
  different answer. He assured me--and I was so willing to believe him--of
  your affection for him, and for me. Pardon my mission, Tatiana Markovna,
  and pray let that poor child out of her room. The blame rests with my
  boy only, and he shall be punished. Have the kindness to order my
  carriage."
  
  She placed her hand on the bell, but Tatiana Markovna detained her.
  
  "Your horses are taken out. You will stay with me, Marfa Egorovna,
  to-day, to-morrow, all the week."
  
  "But since you are so angry with Marfa Vassilievna and my son, who does
  indeed deserve to be punished?"
  
  The wrinkles in Tatiana Markovna's face faded, and her eyes gleamed with
  joy. She threw her shawl and cap on the divan.
  
  "I can't keep it up any longer!" she exclaimed. "Take off your hat and
  mantilla. We are only teasing one another, Marfa Egorovna. I shall have
  a grandson, you a daughter. Kiss me, dear! I wanted to keep up the old
  customs, but there are cases which they don't fit. We knew what must be
  the upshot of this. If we hadn't wished it we should not have allowed
  them to go and listen to the nightingales."
  
  "How you frightened me!" cried Marfa Egorovna.
  
  "He had to be frightened. I will read him a lesson."
  
  Mother and aunt had gone a long way into the future, and when they were
  about as far as the christening of the third child, Marfa Egorovna
  noticed in the garden among the bushes a head which was now hidden, then
  again cautiously raised to reconnoitre. She recognised her son, and
  pointed him out to Tatiana Markovna. They called him, but when he at
  last decided to enter, he hung about in the ante-room, as if he were
  making himself presentable.
  
  "You are welcome, Nikolai Andreevich," said Tatiana Markovna pointedly,
  while his mother looked at him ironically.
  
  "Good morning, Tatiana Markovna," he stammered at last, and kissed the
  old lady's hand. "I have bought tickets for the charity concert, for you
  and Mama, for Vera Vassilievna and Marfa Vassilievna and for Boris
  Pavlovich. It's a splendid concert ... the first singer in Moscow...."
  
  "Why do we need to go to concerts?" interrupted Tatiana Markovna,
  looking at him sideways. "The nightingales sing so finely here. In the
  evening we go into the garden, and can hear them for nothing."
  
  Marfa Egorovna bit her lip, but Vikentev stood transfixed.
  
  "Sit down, Nikolai Andreevich," continued the old lady seriously and
  reproachfully, "and listen to what I have to say. What does your
  conscience tell you? How have you rewarded my confidence?"
  
  "Don't make fun of me ... it's unkind."
  
  "I am not joking. It wasn't right of you, my friend, to speak to
  Marfinka, and not to me. Supposing I had not consented?"
  
  "If you had not consented I would have...."
  
  "What?"
  
  "Oh, I would have gone away from here, joined the Hussars, have
  contracted debts, and gone to wrack and ruin."
  
  "Now he threatens! You should not be so bent on your own way, young
  man."
  
  "Give me Marfa Vassilievna, and I will be more tranquil than water,
  humbler than the grass."
  
  "Shall we give him Marfinka, Marfa Egorovna?"
  
  "He hasn't deserved it, Tatiana Markovna. And it is really too early.
  Perhaps in two years' time...."
  
  He flew to his mother and shut her mouth with a kiss. Then he received
  from Tatiana Markovna the sign of the cross, and a kiss on the forehead.
  
  "Where is Marfa Vassilievna?" he shouted joyfully.
  
  "You must have patience," admonished his grandmother, "we will fetch
  her."
  
  Tatiana Markovna and Marfa Egorovna found Marfinka hidden in the corner
  behind the curtains of her bed, close by the ikons. She covered her
  blushing face in her hands.
  
  Vera received the news from her aunt with quiet pleasure, saying that
  she had expected it for a long time.
  
  "God grant that you may follow her example," said Tatiana Markovna.
  
  "If you love me as I love you, Grandmother, you will bestow all your
  care and thought on Marfinka. Take no thought for me."
  
  "My heart aches for you, Veroshka."
  
  "I know, and that grieves me. Grandmother," she said with a despairing
  note, "it is killing me to think that your heart aches on my account."
  
  "What do you say, Veroshka? open your heart to me. Perhaps I can
  comprehend, and if you have grief, help to assuage it."
  
  "If trouble overtakes me, Grandmother, and I cannot conquer it myself, I
  will come to you and to none other, God only excepted. But do not make
  me suffer any more, or allow yourself to suffer."
  
  "Will it not be too late when trouble has once overtaken you?" whispered
  her aunt. Then she added aloud, "I know that you are not like Marfinka,
  and I will not disturb you."
  
  A long sigh escaped her as she left the room with quick steps and bent
  head. Vera's distress was the only cloud on her horizon, and she prayed
  earnestly that it might pass and not gather into a black storm cloud.
  Vera sought to calm her own agitation by walking up and down the garden,
  but only succeeded gradually. As soon as she caught sight of Marfinka
  and Vikentev in the arbour, she hurried to them, looked affectionately
  into her sister's face, kissed her eyes, her lips, her cheeks, and
  embraced her warmly.
  
  "You must be happy," she said with tears in her eyes.
  
  "How lovely you are Veroshka, and how good! We are not a bit like
  sisters. There is nobody in the neighbourhood fit to marry you, is there,
  Nikolai Andreevich?"
  
  Vera pressed her hand in silence.
  
  "Nikolai Andreevich, do you know what she is?"
  
  "An angel," answered Vikentev as promptly as a soldier answers his
  officer.
  
  "An angel," mimicked Vera laughing, and pointing to a butterfly hovering
  over a flower. "There is an angel. But if you even touch him the colour
  of his wings will be spoiled, and he will perhaps even lose a wing. You
  must spoil her, love and caress her, and God forbid that you ever wound
  her. If you ever do," she threatened, smiling, "you will have to reckon
  with me."
  
  Within a week of this happy occasion the house was restored to its
  ordinary routine. Marfa Egorovna drove back to Kolchino, but Vikentev
  became a daily visitor, and almost a member of the family. He and
  Marfinka no longer jumped and ran like children, though they
  occasionally had a lively dispute, half in jest, half in earnest. They
  sang and read together, and the pure, fresh poetry of youth, plain for
  all to read, welled up in their frank, unspoiled hearts.
  
  The wedding being fixed for the autumn, preparations for Marfinka's
  house-furnishing and trousseau were being gradually pushed forward. From
  the cupboards of the house were brought old lace, silver and gold plate,
  glass, linen, furs, pearls, diamonds and all sorts of treasures, to be
  divided by Tatiana Markovna with Jew-like exactness into two equal
  shares, with the aid of jewellers, workers in gold, and others.
  
  "That is yours, Vera, and there is Marfinka's share. You are not to
  receive a pearl or on ounce more than the other. See for yourselves."
  
  Vera pushed pearls and diamonds into a heap with a declaration that she
  needed very little. This only angered Tatiana Markovna, who began the
  work of division all over again. Raisky sent to his former guardian for
  the diamonds and silver that had been his mother's portion, and bestowed
  these also on the sisters, but his aunt hid the treasure in the depths
  of her coffers.
  
  "You will want them yourself." she said, "on the day when you take it
  into your head to marry."
  
  The estate with all that belonged to it he had made over in the names of
  the sisters, a gift for which each of them thanked him after her fashion.
  Tatiana Markovna wrinkled her forehead, and looked askance at him, but
  she could not long maintain this attitude, and ended by embracing him.
  
  In various rooms, in Tatiana Markovna's sitting room, in the servants'
  room, and even in the reception room, tables were covered with linen.
  The marriage bed, with its lace pillow-cases and cover was being
  prepared, and every morning there came dressmakers and seamstresses.
  Only Raisky and Vera remained untouched by the universal gay activity.
  Even when Raisky sought distraction in riding or visiting, there was in
  fact no one else in the world for him but Vera. He avoided too frequent
  visits to Koslov on account of Juliana Andreevna.
  
  He did not visit Paulina Karpovna, but she came the oftener, and bored
  him and Tatiana Markovna by her pose, retiring or audacious, as the case
  might be. Tatiana Markovna especially was annoyed by her unasked for
  criticisms of the wedding preparations, and by her views on marriage
  generally. Marriage, she declared, was the grave of love, elect souls
  were bound to meet in spite of all obstacles, even outside the marriage
  bond, and so forth. While she expounded these doctrines she cast
  languishing eyes on Raisky.
  
  Neither did the young people who now often came to the house to dance,
  awaken any interest in Raisky or Vera. These two were only happy under
  given circumstances; he--with her, she--when unseen by anyone she could
  flit like a ghost to the precipice to lose herself in the under-growth,
  or when she drove over the Volga to see the pope's wife.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XVIII
  
  
  The weather was gloomy. Rain fell unintermittently, the sky was
  enshrouded in a thick cloud of fog, and on the ground lay banks of mist.
  No one had ventured out all day, and the family had already gone early
  to bed, when about ten o'clock the rain ceased, Raisky put on his
  overcoat to get a breath of air in the garden. The rustle of the bushes
  and the plants from which the rain was still dripping, alone broke the
  stillness of the night. After a few turns up and down he turned his
  steps to the vegetable garden, through which his way to the fields lay.
  Here and there a glimmering star hung above in the dense darkness, and
  before him the village lay like a dark spot on the dark background of
  the indistinguishable fields beyond. Suddenly he heard a slight noise
  from the old house, and saw that a window on the ground floor had been
  opened. Since the window looked out not into the garden, but on to the
  field, he hastened to reach the grove of acacias, leapt the fence and
  landed in a puddle of water, where he stood motionless.
  
  "Is it you?" said a low voice from the window. It was Vera's voice.
  
  Though his knees trembled under him, he was just able to answer in the
  same low tone, "Yes."
  
  "The rain has kept me in all day, but to-morrow morning at ten. Go
  quickly; some one is coming."
  
  The window was closed quietly, and Raisky cursed the approaching
  footsteps that had interrupted the conversation. It was then true, and
  the letter written on blue paper not a dream. Was there a rendezvous? He
  went in the direction of the steps.
  
  "Who is there?" cried a voice, and Raisky was seized from behind.
  
  "The devil," cried Raisky, pushing Savili away, "since when have you
  taken upon yourself to guard the house?"
  
  "I have the Mistress's orders. There are so many thieves and vagabonds
  in the neighbourhood, and the sailors from the Volga do a lot of
  mischief."
  
  "That is a lie. You are out after Marina, and you ought to be ashamed of
  yourself."
  
  He would have gone, but Savili detained him.
  
  "Allow me, Sir, to say a word or two about Marina. Exercise your
  merciful powers, and send the woman to Siberia."
  
  "Are you out of your senses?"
  
  "Or into a house of detention for the rest of her life."
  
  "I'm much more likely to send you, so that you cease to beat her. What
  are you doing, spying here in this abominable way?" said Raisky between
  his teeth, as he cast a glance at Vera's window. In another moment he
  was gone.
  
  Raisky hardly slept at all that night, and he appeared next morning in
  his aunt's sitting-room with dry, weary eyes. The whole family had
  assembled for tea on this particular bright morning. Vera greeted him
  gaily, as he pressed her hand feverishly and looked straight into her
  eyes. She returned his gaze calmly and quietly.
  
  "How elegant you are this morning," he said.
  
  "Do you call a simple straw-coloured blouse elegant?" she asked.
  
  "But the scarlet band on your hair, with the coils of hair drawn across
  it, the belt with the beautiful clasp, and the scarlet-embroidered
  shoes.... You have excellent taste, and I congratulate you."
  
  "I am glad that I meet with your approval, but your enthusiasm is rather
  strange. Tell me the reason of this extraordinary tone."
  
  "Good, I will tell you. Let us go for a stroll."
  
  He saw that she gave him a quick glance of suspicion as he proposed an
  appointment with her for ten o'clock. After a moment's thought she
  agreed, sat down in a corner, and was silent. About ten o'clock she
  picked up her work and her parasol, and signed to him to follow her as
  she left the house. She walked in silence through the garden, and they
  sat down on a bench at the top of the cliff.
  
  "It was by chance," said Raisky, who was hardly able to restrain his
  emotion, "that I have learnt a part of your secret."
  
  "So it seems," she answered coldly. "You were listening yesterday."
  
  "Accidentally, I swear."
  
  "I believe you."
  
  "Vera, there is no longer any doubt that you have a lover. Who is he?"
  
  "Don't ask."
  
  "Who is there in the world who could desire your happiness more ardently
  than I do? Why have you confidence in him and not in me?"
  
  "Because I love him."
  
  "The man you love is to be envied, but how is he going to repay you for
  the supreme happiness that you bring him? Be careful, my friend. To whom
  do you give your confidence?"
  
  "To myself."
  
  "Who is the man?"
  
  Instead of answering him she looked full in his face, and he thought
  that her eyes were as colourless as those of a watersprite, and there
  lay hidden in them a maddening riddle. From below in the bushes there
  came the sound of a shot. Vera rose immediately from the bench, and
  Raisky also rose.
  
  "HE?" he asked in a dull voice. "It is ten o'clock."
  
  She approached the precipice, Raisky following close at her heels. She
  motioned him to come no farther.
  
  "What is the meaning of the shot?"
  
  "He calls."
  
  "Who?"
  
  "The writer of the blue letter. Not a step further unless you wish that
  I leave here for ever."
  
  She rapidly descended the precipice, and in a few moments had vanished
  behind the brushwood and the trees. He called after her to take care,
  but in reply heard only the crackling of the dry twigs beneath her feet.
  Then all was still. He was left to torment himself with wondering who
  the object of her passion could be.
  
  It was none other than Mark Volokov, pariah, cynic, gipsy, who would ask
  the first likely man he met for money, who levelled his gun on his
  fellow-men, and, like Karl Moor, had declared war on mankind--Mark
  Volokov, the man under police supervision.
  
  It was to meet this dangerous and suspicious character that Vera stole
  to the rendezvous--Vera, the pearl of beauty in the whole neighbourhood,
  whose beauty made strong men weak; Vera, who had mastered even the
  tyrannical Tatiana Markovna; Vera, the pure maiden sheltered from all
  the winds of heaven. It would have seemed impossible for her to meet a
  man against whom all houses were barred. It had happened so simply, so
  easily, towards the end of the last summer, at the time that the apples
  were ripe. She was sitting one evening in the little acacia arbour by
  the fence near the old house, looking absently out into the field, and
  away to the Volga and the hills beyond, when she became aware that a few
  paces away the branches of the apple tree were swaying unnaturally over
  the fence. When she looked more closely she saw that a man was sitting
  comfortably on the top rail. He appeared by his face and dress to belong
  to the lower class; he was not a schoolboy, but he held in his hands
  several apples.
  
  "What are you doing here?" she asked, just as he was about to spring
  down from the fence.
  
  "I am eating," he said, after taking a look at her. "Will you try one?"
  he added, hitching himself along the fence towards her.
  
  She looked at him curiously, but without fear, as she drew back a little.
  
  "Who are you?" she said severely. "And why do you climb on to other
  people's fences."
  
  "What can it matter to you who I am. I can easily tell you why I climb
  on other people's fences. It is to eat apples."
  
  "Aren't you ashamed to take other people's apples?" she asked.
  
  "They are my apples, not theirs; they have been stolen from me. You
  certainly have not read Proudhon. But how beautiful you are!" he added
  in amazement. "Do you know what Proudhon says?" he concluded.
  
  "_La propriИtИ c'est le vol_."
  
  "Ah, you have read Proudhon." He stared at her, and as she shook her
  head, he continued, "Anyway, you have heard it. Indeed, this divine
  truth has gone all round the world nowadays. I have a copy of Proudhon,
  and will bring it to you."
  
  "You are not a boy, and yet you steal apples. You think it is not theft
  to do so because of that saying of Proudhon's."
  
  "You believe, then, everything that was told you at school? But please
  tell me who you are. This is the Berezhkovs' garden. They tell me the
  old lady has two beautiful nieces."
  
  "I too say what can it matter to you who I am?"
  
  "Then you believe what your Grandmother tells you?"
  
  "I believe in what convinces me."
  
  "Exactly like me," he said, taking off his cap. "Is it criminal in your
  eyes to take apples?"
  
  "Not criminal, perhaps, but not good manners."
  
  "I make you a present of them," he said, handing her the remaining four
  apples and taking another bite out of his own.
  
  He raised his cap once more and bid her an ironic good-day.
  
  "You have a double beauty, you are beautiful to look at and sensible
  into the bargain. It is a pity that you are destined to adorn the life
  of an idiot. You will be given away, poor girl."
  
  "No pity, if you please. I shall not be given away like an apple."
  
  "You remember the apples; many thanks for the gift. I will bring you
  books in exchange, as you like books."
  
  "Proudhon?"
  
  "Yes, Proudhon and others. I have all the new ones. Only you must not
  tell your Grandmother and her stupid visitors, for although I do not
  know who they are, I don't think they would have anything to do with
  me."
  
  "How do you know? You have only seen me for five minutes."
  
  "The stag's breed is never hidden, one sees at once that you belong to
  the living, not to the dead-alive, and that is the main point. The rest
  comes with opportunity...."
  
  "I have a free mind, as you yourself say, and you immediately want to
  overpower it. Who are you that you should take upon yourself to instruct
  me?"
  
  He looked at her in amazement.
  
  "You are neither to bring me books, nor to come here again yourself,"
  she said, rising to go. "There is a watchman here, and he will seize
  you."
  
  "That is like the Grandmother again. It smells of the town and the
  Lenten oil, and I thought that you loved the wide world and freedom. Are
  you afraid of me, and who do you think I am?"
  
  "A seminarist, perhaps," she said laconically.
  
  "What makes you think that?"
  
  "Well, seminarists are unconventional, badly dressed, and always hungry.
  Go into the kitchen, and I will tell them to give you something to eat."
  
  "That's very kind. Did anything else about the seminarists strike you?"
  
  "I am not acquainted with any of them, and have seen very little of them
  at all; they are so unpolished, and talk so queerly...."
  
  "They are our real missionaries, and what does it matter if they talk
  queerly? While we laugh at them they attack the enemy, blindly perhaps,
  but at any rate with enthusiasm."
  
  "What enemy?"
  
  "The world; they fight for the new knowledge, the new life. Healthy,
  virile youth needs air and food, and we need such men."
  
  "We? Who?"
  
  "The new-born strength of the world."
  
  "Do you then represent the 'new-born strength of the world,'" she said,
  looking at him with observant, curious eyes, but without irony, "or is
  your name a secret?"
  
  "Would it frighten you if I named it?"
  
  "What could it mean to me if you did disclose it? What is it?"
  
  "Mark Volokov. In this silly place my name is heard with nearly as much
  terror as if it were Pugachev or Stenka Razin."
  
  "You are that man?" she said, looking at him with rising curiosity. "You
  boast of your name, which I have heard before. You shot at Niel
  Andreevich, and let a couple of dogs loose on an old lady. There are the
  manifestations of your 'new strength.' Go, and don't be seen here
  again."
  
  "Otherwise you will complain to Grandmama?"
  
  "I certainly shall. Good-bye."
  
  She left the arbour and walked away without listening to his rejoinder.
  He followed her covetously with his eyes, murmuring as he sprang to the
  ground a wish that those apples also could be stolen. Vera, for her part,
  said not a word to her aunt of this meeting, but she confided
  nevertheless in her friend Natalie Ivanovna after exacting a promise of
  secrecy.
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XIX
  
  
  After leaving Raisky, Vera listened for a while to make sure he was not
  following her, and then, pushing the branches of the undergrowth aside
  with her parasol, made her way by the familiar path to the ruined arbour,
  whose battered doorway was almost barricaded by the fallen timbers. The
  steps of the arbour and the planks of the floor had sunk, and rotten
  planks cracked under her feet. Of its original furniture there was
  nothing left but two moss-grown benches and a crooked table.
  
  Mark was already in the arbour, and his rifle and huntsman's bag lay on
  the table. He held out his hand to Vera, and almost lifted her in over
  the shattered steps. By way of welcome he merely commented on her
  lateness.
  
  "The weather detained me," she said. "Have you any news?"
  
  "Did you expect any?"
  
  "I expect every day that you will be sent for by the military or the
  police."
  
  "I have been more careful since Raisky played at magnanimity and took
  upon himself the fuss about the books."
  
  "I don't like that about you, Mark, your callousness and malice towards
  everyone except yourself. My cousin made no parade of what he had done;
  he did not even mention it to me. You are incapable of appreciating a
  kindness."
  
  "I do appreciate it in my own way."
  
  "Just as the wolf in the fable appreciated the kindness of the crane.
  Why not thank him with the same simplicity with which he served you. You
  are a real wolf; you are for ever disparaging, detracting, or blaming
  someone, either from pride or...."
  
  "Or what?"
  
  "Or by way of cultivating the 'new strength.'"
  
  "Scoffer!" he laughed, as he sat down beside her. "You are young, and
  still too inexperienced to be disillusioned of all the charm of the good
  old times. How can I instruct you in the rights of mankind?"
  
  "And how am I to cure you of the slandering of mankind?"
  
  "You have always a retort handy, and nobody could complain of dullness
  with you, but," he said, clutching meditatively at his head, "if I...."
  
  "Am locked up by the police," she finished. "That seems to be all that
  your fate still lacks."
  
  "But for you, I should long ago have been sent off somewhere. You are
  a disturbing element."
  
  "Are you tired of living peaceably, and already craving for a storm? You
  promised me to lead a different life. What have you not promised me? And
  I was so happy that they even noticed my delight at home. And now you
  have relapsed into your old mood," she protested, as he seized her hand.
  
  "Pretty hand!" he said, kissing it again and again without any objection
  from her, but when he sought to kiss her cheek she drew back.
  
  "You refuse again. Is your reserve never to end? Perhaps you keep your
  caresses for...."
  
  She drew her hand away hastily.
  
  "You know I do not like jests of that kind. You must break yourself of
  this tone, and of wolfish manners generally; that would be the first
  step towards unaffected manhood."
  
  "Tone and manners! You are a child still occupied with your ABC. Before
  you lie freedom, life, love, happiness, and you talk of tone and manners.
  Where is the human soul, the woman in you? What is natural and genuine
  in you?"
  
  "Now you are talking like Raisky."
  
  "Ah, Raisky! Is he still so desperate?"
  
  "More than ever, so that I really don't know how to treat him."
  
  "Lead him by the nose."
  
  "How hideous! It would be best to tell him the truth about myself. If he
  knew all he would be reconciled and would go away, as he said he
  intended to do long ago."
  
  "He will hate you, read you a lecture, and perhaps tell your Aunt."
  
  "God forbid that she should hear the truth except from ourselves. Should
  I go away for a time?"
  
  "Why? It could not be arranged for you to be away long, and if your
  absence was short he would be only the more agitated. When you were away
  what good did it do. There is only one way and that is to conceal the
  truth from him, to put him on a wrong track. Let him cherish his passion,
  read verses, and gape at the moon, since he is an incurable Romanticist.
  Later on he will sober down and travel once more."
  
  "He is not a Romanticist in the sense you mean," sighed Vera. "You may
  fairly call him poet, artist. I at least begin to believe in him, in his
  delicacy and his truthfulness. I would hide nothing from him if he did
  not betray his passion for me. If he subdues that, I will be the first
  to tell him the whole truth."
  
  "We did not meet," interrupted Mark, "to talk so much about him."
  
  "Well, what have you done since we last met?" she asked gaily. "Whom
  have you met? Have you been discoursing on the 'new strength' or the
  'dawn of the future,' or 'young hopes?' Every day I live in anxious
  expectation."
  
  "No, no," laughed Mark. "I have ceased to bother about the people here;
  it is not worth while to tackle them."
  
  "God grant it were so. You would have done well if you had acted up to
  what you say. But I cannot be happy about you. At the Sfogins, the
  youngest son, Volodya, who is fourteen, declared to his mother that he
  was not going any more to Mass. When he was whipped, and questioned, he
  pointed to his eldest brother, who had sneaked into the servants' room
  and there preached to the maids the whole evening that it was stupid to
  observe the fasts of the Church, to go through the ceremony of marriage,
  that there was no God...."
  
  Mark looked at her in horror.
  
  "In the servants' room! And yet I talked to him for a whole evening as
  if he were a man capable of reason, and gave him books...."
  
  "Which he took straight to the bookseller. 'These are the books you
  ought to put on sale,' he said. Did you not give me your promise," she
  said reproachfully, "when we parted and you begged to see me again?"
  
  "All that is long past. I have had nothing more to do with those people
  since I gave you that promise. Don't be angry, Vera. But for you I would
  escape from this neighbourhood to-morrow."
  
  "Escape--where? Everywhere there are the same opportunities; boys who
  would like to see their moustaches grow quicker, servants' rooms, if
  independent men and women will not listen to your talk. Are you not
  ashamed of the part you play?" she asked after a brief pause. "Do you
  look on it as your mission?"
  
  She stroked his bent head affectionately as she spoke. At her last words
  he raised his head quickly.
  
  "What part do I play? I give a baptism of pure water."
  
  "Are you convinced of the pureness of the water?"
  
  "Listen, Vera. I am not Raisky," said Mark, rising. "You are a woman, or
  rather one should say a bud which has yet to unfold into womanhood. When
  that unfolding comes many secrets will be clear to you that have no part
  in a girl's dreams and that cannot be explained; experience is the sole
  key to these secrets. I call you to your initiation, Vera; I show you
  the path of life. But you stand hesitating on the threshold, and your
  advance is slow. The serious thing is that you don't even believe me."
  
  "Do not be vexed," begged Vera affectionately. "I agree with you in
  everything that I recognise as right and honourable. If I cannot always
  follow you in life and in experience it is because I desire to know and
  see for myself the goal for which I am making."
  
  "That is to say, that you wish to judge for yourself."
  
  "And do you desire that I should not judge for myself?"
  
  "I love you, Vera. Put your trust in me, and obey. Does the flame of
  passion burn in me less strongly than in your Raisky, for all his poetry.
  Passion is chary of words. But you will neither trust nor obey me."
  
  "Would you have me not stand at the level of my personality? You
  yourself preached freedom to me, and now the tyrant in you appears
  because I do not show a slavish submission."
  
  "Let us part, Vera, if doubt is uppermost with you and you have no
  confidence in me, for in that fashion we cannot continue our meetings."
  
  "Yes, let us part rather than that you should exact a blind trust in you.
  In my waking hours and in my dreams I imagine that there lies between us
  no disturbance, no doubt. But I don't understand you, and therefore
  cannot trust you."
  
  "You hide under your Aunt's skirts like a chicken under a hen, and you
  have absorbed her ideas and her system of morals. You, like Raisky,
  inshroud passion in fantastic draperies. Let us put aside all the other
  questions untouched. The one that lies before us is simple and
  straightforward. We love one another. Is that so or not?"
  
  "What does that lead to, Mark!"
  
  "If you don't believe me, look around you. You have spent your whole
  life in the woods and fields, and do you learn nothing from what you see
  in all directions?" he asked, pointing to a swarm of flying pigeons, and
  to the nesting swallows. "Learn from them; they deal in no subtleties!"
  
  "Yes, they circle round their nests. One has flown away, probably in
  search of food."
  
  "When winter comes they will all separate."
  
  "And return in spring to the same nest."
  
  "I believe you when you talk reasonably, Vera. You felt injured by my
  rough manners, and I am making every effort. I have transformed myself
  to the old-fashioned pattern, and shall soon shift my feet and smile
  when I make my bow like Tiet Nikonich. I don't give way to the desire to
  abuse or to quarrel with anybody, and draw no attention to my doings. I
  shall next be making up my mind to attend Mass, what else should I do?"
  
  "You are in the mood for joking, but joking is not what I wanted,"
  sighed Vera.
  
  "What do you want me to do?"
  
  "So far I have not even been able to persuade you to spare yourself for
  my sake, to cease your baptisms, to live like other people."
  
  "But if I act in accordance with my convictions?"
  
  "What is your aim? What do you hope to do?"
  
  "I teach fools."
  
  "Do you even know yourself what you teach, for what you have been
  struggling for a whole year? To live the life that you prescribe is not
  within the bounds of possibility. It is all very new and bold, but...."
  
  "There we are again at the same old point. I can hear the old lady
  piping," he laughed scornfully, pointing in the direction of the house.
  "You speak with her voice."
  
  "Is that your whole answer, Mark? Everything is a lie; therefore, away
  with it! But the absence of any notion of what truth is to supersede the
  lies makes me distrustful."
  
  "You set reflexion above nature and passion. You are noble, and you
  naturally desire marriage. But that has nothing to do with love, and it
  is love and happiness that I seek."
  
  Vera rose and looked at him with blazing eyes.
  
  "If I wished only for marriage, Mark, I should naturally make another
  choice."
  
  "Pardon me, I was rude," he said in real embarrassment, and kissed her
  hand. "But, Vera, you repress your love, you are afraid, and instead of
  giving yourself up to the pleasure of it you are for ever analysing."
  
  "I try to find out who and what you are, because love is not a passing
  pleasure to me, but you look on it as a distraction."
  
  "No, as a daily need of life, which is no matter for jesting. Like
  Raisky, I cannot sleep through the long nights, and I suffer nervous
  torture that I could not have believed possible. You say you love me;
  that I love you is plain? But I call you to happiness and you are
  afraid...."
  
  "I do not want happiness for a month, for six months--"
  
  "For your life long, and even after death?" asked Mark, scornfully.
  
  "For life! I do not want to foresee an ultimate limit. I do not and will
  not believe in happiness with a term. But I do believe in another kind
  of intimate happiness, and I want...."
  
  "To make me embrace the same belief."
  
  "Yes, I know no other happiness, and I would scorn it if I knew it."
  
  "Good-bye, Vera. You do not love me, but are for ever disputing,
  analysing either my character or the nature of happiness. We always get
  back to the point from which we started. I think it is your destiny to
  love Raisky. You can make what you will of him, can deck him out with
  all your Aunt's tags, and evolve a new hero of romance every day, for
  ever and ever. I haven't the time for that kind of thing. I have work to
  do."
  
  "Ah work, and love, with happiness as an afterthought, a trifle...."
  
  "Do you wish to build a life out of love after the old fashion, a life
  such as that lived by the swallows who leave their nest only to seek
  food."
  
  "You would fly for a moment into a strange nest, and then forget."
  
  "Yes, if forgetting is so easy; but if one cannot forget, one returns.
  But must I return if I don't want to? Is that compatible with freedom?
  Would you ask that?"
  
  "I cannot understand a bird's life of that kind."
  
  "Farewell, Vera. We were mistaken. I want a comrade, not a school girl."
  
  "Yes, Mark, a comrade, strong like yourself, I agree. A comrade for the
  whole of life, is that not so?"
  
  "I thought," said Mark as if he had not heard her last question, "that
  we should soon be united, and that whether we separated again must
  depend on temperament and circumstances. You make your analysis in
  advance, so that your judgment is as crooked and twisted as an old
  maid's could be. You don't look to the quarter whence truth and light
  must come. Sleep, my child. I was mistaken. Farewell once more. We will
  try to avoid one another in the future."
  
  "We will try. But can we really not find happiness together? What is the
  hindrance?" she asked, in a low, agitated tone, touching his hand.
  
  Mark shouldered his gun in silence, and walked out of the arbour into
  the brushwood. Vera stood motionless as if she were in a deep sleep.
  Overcome by grief and amazement, she could not believe he was really
  leaving her. Where there is no trust there is no love, she thought. She
  did not trust him, and yet, if she did not love him, why was her grief
  and pain at his going so great. Why did she feel that death itself would
  be welcome?
  
  "Mark!" she cried in a low voice. He did not look round, and although
  she repeated the cry he strode forward. "Mark!" she cried breathlessly a
  third time, but he still pursued his path. Her face faded, but
  mechanically she picked up her handkerchief and her parasol and mounted
  the cliff. Were truth and love to be found there where her heart called
  her? Or did truth lie in the little chapel that she was now approaching?
  
  For four days Vera wandered in the park, and waited in the arbour, but
  Mark did not come. There was no reply to the call of her heart. She no
  longer hid her movements from Raisky, who came upon her from time to
  time in the chapel. She allowed him to accompany her to the little
  village church on the hill where she usually went alone. She remained on
  her knees with bowed head for a long time, while he stood motionless
  behind her. Then without a word or a glance, she took his arm, to return
  wearily to the old house, where they parted. Vera knew nothing of his
  secret suffering, of the passionate love which attracted him to her, the
  double love of a man for a woman, and of an artist for his ideal.
  
  Raisky wondered what the shots meant. It need not necessarily be love
  that drove her to the rendezvous. There might be a secret of another
  kind, but the key to the mystery lay in her heart. There was no
  salvation for her except in love, and he longed to give her protection
  and freedom.
  
  Again he found her at twilight praying in the chapel, but this time she
  was calm and her eyes clear. She gave him her hand, and was plainly
  pleased to see him.
  
  "You cannot imagine, Vera," he said, "how happy it makes me to see you
  calmer. What has given you peace?"
  
  She glanced towards the chapel.
  
  "You don't go down there any more?" he said, pointing to the precipice.
  
  She shook her head.
  
  "Thank God!" he cried. "If you are going home now, take my arm," he said,
  and they walked together along the path leading across the meadow. "You
  have been fighting a hard and despairing battle, Vera. So much you do
  not conceal. Are you going to conquer this agonising and dangerous
  passion?"
  
  "And if I do, Cousin?" she asked despondently.
  
  "The richer for a great experience, strengthened against future storms,
  your portion will be a great happiness, sufficient to fill your whole
  life."
  
  "I cannot comprehend any other happiness," she said, thoughtfully. She
  stood still, leaning her head on his shoulder, and her eyes filled with
  tears. He did not know that he had probed her wound by touching on the
  very point that had caused her separation from Mark.
  
  At that moment there was the report of a shot in the depths below the
  precipice, and the sound was re-echoed from the hills. Raisky and Vera
  both started. She stood listening for a moment. Her eyes, still wet with
  tears, were wide and staring now. Then she loosed her hold of his arm,
  and hurried in the direction of the precipice, with Raisky hurrying at
  her heels. When she had gone half way, she stopped, laid her hand on her
  heart, and listened once more.
  
  "A few minutes ago your mind was made up, Vera!"
  
  Raisky's face was pale, and his agitation nearly as great as hers. She
  did not hear his words, and she looked at him without seeing him. Then
  she took a few steps in the direction of the precipice, but suddenly
  turned to go slowly towards the chapel.
  
  "I am not going," she whispered. "Why does he call me? It cannot be that
  he has changed his attitude in the last few days."
  
  She sank down on her knees before the sacred picture, and covered her
  face with her hands. Raisky came up to her, and implored her not to go.
  She herself gazed at the picture with expressionless, hopeless eyes.
  When she rose she shuddered, and seemed unaware of Raisky's presence.
  
  A shot sounded once more. With a cry Vera ran over the meadow towards
  the cliff. Perhaps my conviction has conquered, she thought. Why else
  should he call her? Her feet hardly seemed to touch the grass as she ran
  into the avenue that led to the precipice.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XX
  
  
  Vera came that night to supper with a gloomy face. She eagerly drank a
  glass of milk, but offered no remark to anyone.
  
  "Why are you so unhappy, Veroshka?" asked her aunt. "Don't you feel
  well."
  
  "I was afraid to ask," interposed Tiet Nikonich politely. "I could not
  help noticing, Vera Vassilievna, that you have been altered for some
  time; you seem to have grown thinner and paler. The change becomes your
  looks, but the symptoms ought not to be overlooked, as they might
  indicate the approach of illness."
  
  "I have a little tooth-ache, but it will soon pass," answered Vera
  unwillingly.
  
  Tatiana Markovna looked away sadly enough, but said nothing, while
  Raisky tapped his plate absently with a fork, but ate nothing, and
  maintained a gloomy silence. Only Marfinka and Vikentev took every dish
  that was offered them, and chattered without intermission.
  
  Vera soon took her leave, followed by Raisky. She went into the park,
  and stood at the top of the cliff looking down into the dark wood below
  her; then she wrapped herself in her mantilla, and sat down on the bench.
  Silently she acceded to Raisky's request to be allowed to sit down
  beside her.
  
  "You are in trouble, and are suffering, Vera."
  
  "I have tooth-ache."
  
  "It is your heart that aches, Vera. Share your trouble with me."
  
  "I make no complaint."
  
  "You have an unhappy love affair, with whom?"
  
  She did not answer. She knew that her hopes were still not dead, mad
  though they might be. What if she went away for a week or two to breathe,
  to conjure up her strength.
  
  "Cousin," she said at last, "to-morrow at daybreak I am going across the
  Volga, and may stay away longer than usual. I have not said good-bye to
  Grandmother. Please say it for me."
  
  "I will go away too."
  
  "Wait, Cousin, until I am a little calmer. Perhaps then I can confide in
  you, and we can part like brother and sister, but now it is impossible.
  Still, in case you do go away, let us say good-bye now. Forgive me my
  strange ways, and let me give you a sister's kiss."
  
  She kissed him on the forehead and walked quickly away, but she had only
  taken a few steps before she paused to say: "Thank you for all you have
  done for me. I have not the strength to tell you how grateful I am for
  your friendship, and above all for this place. Farewell, and forgive
  me."
  
  "Vera," he cried in painful haste. "Let me stay as long as you are here
  or are in the neighbourhood. Even if we don't see one another, I yet
  know where you are. I will wait till you are calmer, till you fulfil
  your promise, and confide in me, as you have said you would. You won't
  be far away, and we can at least write to one another. Give me at least
  this consolation, for God's sake," he murmured passionately. "Leave me
  at least that Paradise which is next door to Hell."
  
  She looked at him with a distraught air, and bent her head in assent.
  But she saw the glow of delight which swept over his agitated face, and
  wondered sorrowfully why _he_ did not speak like that.
  
  "I will put off my journey till the day after tomorrow. Good-night!" she
  said, and gave him her hand to kiss before they separated.
  
  Early next day Vera gave Marina a note with instructions to deliver it
  and to wait for the answer. After the receipt of the answer she grew
  more cheerful and went out for a walk along the riverside. That evening
  she told her aunt that she was going on a visit to Natalie Ivanovna, and
  took leave of them all, promising Raisky not to forget him.
  
  The next day a fisherman from the Volga brought him a letter from Vera,
  in which she called him "dear cousin," and seemed to look forward to a
  happier future. Into the friendly tone of the letter he contrived to
  read tender feeling, and he forgot, in his delight, his doubts, his
  anxiety, the blue letters, and the precipice. He wrote and dispatched
  immediately a brief, affectionate reply.
  
  Vera's letter aroused in him the artist sense, and drove him to set out
  his chaotic emotions in defined form. He sought to crystallise his
  thoughts and affections; his very passion took artistic shape, and
  assumed in the clear light Vera's charming features.
  
  "What are you scribbling day and night?" inquired Tatiana Markovna. "Is
  it a play or another novel?"
  
  "I write and write, Granny, and don't know myself how it will end."
  
  "It doesn't matter what the child does so long as he is amused," she
  remarked, not altogether missing the character of Raisky's occupation.
  "But why do you write at night, when I am so afraid of fire, and you
  might fall asleep over your drama. You will make yourself ill, and you
  often look as yellow as an over-ripe gherkin as it is."
  
  He looked in the glass, and was struck with his own appearance. Yellow
  patches were visible on the nose and temples, and there were grey
  threads in his thick, black hair.
  
  "If I were fair," he grumbled, "I should not age so quickly. Don't
  bother about me, Granny, but leave me my freedom. I can't sleep."
  
  "You too ask me for freedom, like Vera. It is as if I held you both in
  chains," she added with an anxious sigh. "Go on writing, Borushka, but
  not at night. I cannot sleep in peace, for when I look at your window
  the light is always burning."
  
  "I will answer for it, Grandmother, that there shall be no fire, and if
  I myself were to be burnt...."
  
  "Touch wood! Do not tempt fate. Remember the saying that 'my tongue is
  my enemy.'"
  
  Suddenly Raisky sprang from the divan and ran to the window.
  
  "There is a peasant bringing a letter from Vera," he cried, as he
  hurried out of the room.
  
  "One might think it was his father in person," said Tatiana Markovna to
  herself. "How many candles he burns with his novels and plays, as many
  as four in a night!"
  
  Again Raisky received a few lines from Vera. She wrote that she was
  longing to see him again, and that she wanted to ask for his services.
  She added the following postscript:--
  
  "Dear Friend and Cousin, you taught me to love and to suffer, and poured
  the strength of your love into my soul. This it is that gives me courage
  to ask you to do a good deed. There is here an unhappy man who has been
  driven from his home and lies under the suspicion of the Government. He
  has no place to lay his head, and everyone, either from indifference or
  fear, avoids him. But you are kind and generous, and cannot be
  indifferent; still less will you hesitate to do a deed of pure charity.
  The wretched man has not a kopek, has no clothes, and autumn is coming
  on.
  
  "If your heart tells you, as I don't doubt it will, what to do, address
  the wife of the acolyte, Sekleteia Burdalakov, but arrange it so that
  neither Grandmother, nor anyone at home, knows anything of it. A sum of
  three hundred roubles will be sufficient, I think, to provide for him
  for a whole year, perhaps two hundred and fifty would suffice. Will you
  put in a cloak and a warm vest (in my firm belief in your kind heart and
  your love to me, I enclose the measures taken by the village tailor) to
  protect him from the cold.
  
  "I don't like to ask you for a rug for him; that would be to make an
  unfair use of kindness. In the winter the poor exile will probably leave
  the place, and will bless you, and to some degree me as well. I would
  not have troubled you, but you know that my Grandmother has all my money,
  which is therefore inaccessible."
  
  "What on earth is the meaning of this postscript?" cried Raisky. "The
  whole note is certainly not from her hand; she could not have written
  like this."
  
  He threw himself on the divan in a fit of nervous laughter. He was in
  Tatiana Markovna's sitting-room, with Vikentev and Marfinka. At first
  the lovers laughed, but stopped when they saw the violent character of
  his mirth. Tatiana Markovna, who came in at this moment, offered him
  some drops of cordial in a teaspoon.
  
  "No, Grandmother," he cried, still laughing violently. "Don't give me
  drops, but three hundred roubles."
  
  "What do you want the money for?" said Tatiana Markovna hesitating. "Is
  it for Markushka again. You had much better ask him to return the eighty
  roubles he has had."
  
  He entered into the spirit of the bargain, and eventually had to content
  himself with two hundred and fifty roubles, which he dispatched next day
  to the address given. He also ordered the cloak and vest, and bought a
  warm rug, to be sent in a few days.
  
  "I thank you heartily, and with tears, dear Cousin," ran the letter he
  received in return for his gifts. "I cannot express in writing the
  gratitude I feel. Heaven, not I, will reward you. How delighted the poor
  exile was with your gift. He laughed for joy, and is wearing the new
  things. He immediately paid his landlord his three months' arrears of
  rent, and a month in advance. He only allowed himself to spend three
  roubles in cigars, which he has not smoked for a long time, and smoking
  is his only passion."
  
  Although the apocryphal nature of this remarkable missive was quite
  clear to Raisky, he did not hesitate to add a box of cigars to his gift
  for the "poor exile." It was enough for him that Vera's name was
  attached to this pressing request. He observed the course of his own
  passion as a physician does disease. As he watched the clouds driven
  before the wind, or looked at the green carpet of the earth, now taking
  on sad autumnal hues, he realised that Nature was marching on her way
  through never ending change, with not a moment's stagnation. He alone
  brooded idly with no prize in view. He asked himself anxiously what his
  duty was, and begged that Reason would shed some light on his way, give
  him boldness to leap over the funeral pyre of his hopes. Reason told him
  to seek safety in flight.
  
  He drove into the town to buy some necessities for the journey, and
  there met the Governor who reproached him with having hidden himself for
  so long. Raisky excused himself on the ground of ill-health, and spoke
  of his approaching departure.
  
  "Where are you going?"
  
  "It is all one to me," returned Raisky gloomily. "Here I am so bored
  that I must seek some distraction. I intend going to St. Petersburg,
  then to my estate in the government of R---- and then perhaps abroad."
  
  "I don't wonder that you are bored with staying in the same spot, since
  you avoid society, and must need distraction. Will you make an
  expedition with me? I am starting on a tour of the district to-morrow,
  why not come with me? You will see much that is beautiful, and, being a
  poet, you will collect new impressions. We will travel for a hundred
  versts by river. Don't forget your sketch-book."
  
  Raisky shook the Governor's proffered hand, and accepted. The Governor
  showed him his well-equipped travelling carriage, declared that his
  kitchen would travel with him, and cards should not be forgotten, and
  promised himself a gayer journey than would have been possible in the
  sole society of a busy secretary.
  
  Raisky felt a relief in the firm determination he now made to conquer
  his passion, and decided not to return from this journey, but to have
  his effects sent after him. While he was away he wrote in this sense to
  Vera, telling her that his life in Malinovka had been like an evil dream
  full of suffering, and that if he ever saw the place again it would be
  at some distant date.
  
  A day or two later he received a short answer from Vera dated from
  Malinovka. Marfinka's birthday fell during the next week, and when the
  festival was over she was to go on a long visit to her future
  mother-in-law. If Raisky did not make some sacrifice and return,
  a sacrifice to her grandmother and herself, Tatiana Markovna would
  be terribly lonely.
  
  Next evening he had a letter from Vera acquiescing in his intention of
  leaving Malinovka without seeing her again, and saying that immediately
  after the dispatch of this letter she would go over to her friend on the
  other side of the Volga, but she hoped that he would go to say good-bye
  to Tatiana Markovna and the rest of the household, as his departure
  without any farewell must necessarily cause surprise in the town, and
  would hurt Tatiana Markovna's feelings.
  
  This answer relieved him enormously. On the afternoon of the next day,
  when he alighted from the carriage in the outskirts of the town and bade
  his travelling host good-bye, he was in good enough spirits as he picked
  up his bag and made his way to the house.
  
  Marfinka and Vikentev were the first to meet him, the dogs leaped to
  welcome him, the servants hurried up, and the whole household showed
  such genuine pleasure at his return that he was moved almost to tears.
  He looked anxiously round to see if Vera was there, but one and another
  hastened to tell him that Vera had gone away. He ought to have been glad
  to hear this news, but he heard it with a spasm of pain. When he entered
  his aunt's room she sent Pashutka out and locked the door.
  
  "How anxiously I have been expecting you!" she said. "I wanted to send a
  messenger for you."
  
  "What is the matter?" he exclaimed, pale with terror in fear of bad news
  of Vera.
  
  "Your friend Leonti Ivanovich is ill."
  
  "Poor fellow! What is wrong? Is it dangerous? I will go to him at once."
  
  "I will have the horses put in. In the meantime I may as well tell you
  what is known all over the town. I have kept it secret from Marfinka
  only, and Vera already knows it. His wife has left him, and he has
  fallen ill. Yesterday and the day before the Koslovs' cook came to fetch
  you."
  
  "Where has she gone?"
  
  "Away with the Frenchman, Charles, who was suddenly called to St.
  Petersburg. She pretended she was going to stay with her relations in
  Moscow and said that Monsieur Charles would accompany her so far. She
  extracted from Koslov a pass giving her permission to live alone, and is
  now with Charles in St. Petersburg."
  
  "Her relations with Charles," replied Raisky, "were no secret to anybody
  except her husband. Everyone will laugh at him, but he will understand
  nothing, and his wife will return."
  
  "You have not heard the end. On her way she wrote to her husband telling
  him to forget her, not to expect her return, because she could no longer
  endure living with him."
  
  "The fool! Just as if she had not made scandal enough. Poor Leonti! I
  will go to him, how sorry I am for him."
  
  "Yes, Borushka, I am sorry for him too, and should like to have gone to
  see him. He has the simple honesty of a child. God has given him
  learning, but no common sense, and he is buried in his books. I wonder
  who is looking after him now. If you find he is not being properly cared
  for, bring him here. The old house is empty, and we can establish him
  there for the time being. I will have two rooms got ready for him."
  
  "What a woman you are, Grandmother. While I am thinking, you have
  acted."
  
  When he reached Koslov's house he found the shutters of the grey house
  were closed, and he had to knock repeatedly before he was admitted. He
  passed through the ante-room into the dining-room and stood uncertain
  before the study door, hesitating whether he should knock or go straight
  in. Suddenly the door opened, and there stood before him, dressed in a
  woman's dressing-gown and slippers, Mark Volokov, unbrushed, sleepy,
  pale, thin and sinister.
  
  "The evil one has brought you at last," he grumbled half in surprise and
  half in vexation. "Where have you been all this time? I have hardly
  slept for two nights. His pupils are about in the day time, but at night
  he is alone."
  
  "What is the matter with him?"
  
  "Has no one told you. That she-goat has gone. I was pleased to hear it,
  and came at once to congratulate him, but I found him with not a drop of
  blood in his face, with dazed eyes, and unable to recognise anyone. He
  just escaped brain fever. Instead of weeping for joy, the man has nearly
  died of sorrow. I fetched the doctor, but Koslov sent him away, and
  walked up and down the room like one demented. Now he is sleeping, so we
  will not disturb him. I will go, and you must stay, and see that he does
  not do himself some injury in a fit of melancholy. He listens to no one,
  and I have been tempted to smack him." Mark spit with vexation. "You
  can't depend on his idiot of a cook. Yesterday the woman gave him some
  tooth powder instead of his proper powder. I am going to dismiss her
  to-morrow."
  
  Raisky watched him in amazement, and offered his hand.
  
  "What favour is this?" said Mark bitterly, and without taking the
  proffered hand.
  
  "I thank you for having stood by my old friend."
  
  Mark seized Raisky's hand and shook it.
  
  "I have been looking for some means of serving you for a long time."
  
  "Why, Volokov, are you for ever executing quick changes like a clown in
  a circus?"
  
  "What the devil have I to do with your gratitude? I am not here for that,
  but on Koslov's account."
  
  "God be with you and your manners, Mark Ivanovich!" replied Raisky. "In
  any case, you have done a good deed."
  
  "More praise. You can be as sentimental as you like for all I care...."
  
  "I will take Leonti home with me," resumed Raisky. "He will be
  absolutely at home there, and if his troubles do not blow over he will
  have his own quiet corner all his life."
  
  "Bravo! that is deeds, not words. Koslov would wither without a home and
  without care. It is an excellent idea you have taken into your head."
  
  "It comes not from me, but from a woman, and not from her head, but from
  her heart. My Aunt...."
  
  "The old lady has a sound heart. I must go and breakfast with her one
  day. It is a pity she has amassed so many foolish ideas. Now I am going.
  Look after Koslov, if not personally, through some one else. The day
  before yesterday his head had to be cooled all day, and at night cabbage
  leaves should be laid on it. I was a little disturbed, because in his
  dazed state he got the cabbage and began to eat it. Good-bye! I have
  neither slept nor eaten, though Avdotya has treated me to a horrible
  brew of coffee...."
  
  "Allow me to send the coachman home to fetch some supper," said Raisky.
  
  "I would rather eat at home."
  
  "Perhaps you have no money," said Raisky nervously drawing out his
  pocket book.
  
  "I have money," said Mark enigmatically, hardly able to restrain a
  callous laugh, "I am going to the bath-house before I have my supper, as
  I haven't been able to undress here. I have changed my quarters, and now
  live with a clerical personage."
  
  "You look ill, thin, and your eyes...."
  
  Mark's face grew more evil and sinister than before.
  
  "You too look worse," he said. "If you look in the glass you will see
  yellow patches and hollow eyes."
  
  "I have many causes of anxiety."
  
  "So have I. Good-bye," said Mark, and was gone.
  
  Raisky went into the study and walked up to the bed on tiptoe.
  
  "Who is there?" asked Leonti feebly.
  
  When Leonti recognised Raisky he pushed his feet out of bed, and sat up.
  
  "Is he gone?" he asked weakly. "I pretended to be asleep. You have not
  been for so long, and I have been expecting you all the time. The face
  of an old comrade is the only one that I can bear to see."
  
  "I have been away, and heard when I returned of your illness."
  
  "It is gossip. There is a conspiracy to say I am ill, which is all
  foolish talk. Mark, who even fetched a doctor, has been hanging about
  here as if he were afraid I should do myself an injury," said Leonti and
  paced up and down the room.
  
  "You are weak, and walk with difficulty," said Raisky. "It would be
  better for you to lie down."
  
  "I am weak, that is true," admitted Leonti.
  
  He bent over the chair-back to Raisky, embraced him, and laid his face
  against his hair. Raisky felt hot tears on his forehead and cheeks.
  
  "It is weakness," sobbed Leonti. "But I am not ill, and have not brain
  fever. They talk, but don't understand. And I understood nothing either,
  but now that I see you, I cannot keep back my tears. Don't abuse me like
  Mark, or laugh at me, as they all do, my colleagues and my sympathetic
  visitors. I can discern malicious laughter on all their faces."
  
  "I respect and understand your tears and your sorrow," said Raisky,
  stifling his own tears.
  
  "You are my kind old comrade. Even at school you never laughed at me,
  and do you know why I weep?"
  
  Leonti took a letter from his desk and handed it to Raisky. It was the
  letter from Juliana Andreevna of which Tatiana Markovna had spoken.
  Raisky glanced through it.
  
  "Destroy it," he said. "You will have no peace while it is in your
  possession."
  
  "Destroy it!" said Leonti, seizing the letter, and replacing it in the
  desk. "How is it possible to think of such a thing, when these are the
  only lines she has written me, and these are all that I have as a
  souvenir?"
  
  "Leonti! Think of all this as a malady, a terrible misfortune, and don't
  succumb to it. You are not an old man, and have a long life before you."
  
  "My life is over, unless she returns to me," he whispered.
  
  "What! You could, you would take her back!"
  
  "You, too, Boris, fail to understand me!" cried Leonti in despair, as he
  thrust his hands into his hair and strode up and down. "People keep on
  saying I am ill, they offer sympathy, bring a doctor, sit all night by
  my bedside, and yet don't guess why I suffer so wildly, don't even guess
  at the only remedy there is for me. She is not here," he whispered
  wildly, seizing Raisky by the shoulders and shaking him violently. "She
  is not here, and that is what constitutes my illness. Besides, I am not
  ill, I am dead. Take me to her, and I shall rise again. And you ask
  whether I will take her back again! You, a novelist, don't understand
  simple things like that!"
  
  "I did not know that you loved her like that," said Raisky tenderly.
  "You used to laugh and say that you had got so used to her that you were
  becoming faithless to your Greeks and Romans."
  
  "I chattered, I boasted," laughed Leonti bitterly, "and was without
  understanding. But for this I never should have understood. I thought I
  loved the ancients, while my whole love was given to the living woman.
  Yes, Boris, I loved books and my gymnasium, the ancients and the moderns,
  my scholars, and you, Boris; I loved the street, this hedge, the service
  tree there, only through my love for her. Now, nothing of all this
  matters. I knew that as I lay on the floor reading her letter. And you
  ask whether I would receive her. God in Heaven! If she came, how she
  should be cherished!" he concluded, his tears flowing once more.
  
  "Leonti, I come to you with a request from Tatiana Markovna, who asks
  you," he went on, though Leonti walked ceaselessly up and down, dragging
  his slippers and appeared not to listen, "to come over to us. Here you
  will die of misery."
  
  "Thank you," said Leonti, shaking his head. "She is a saint. But how can
  a desolate man carry his sorrow into a strange house?"
  
  "Not a strange house, Leonti, we are brothers, and our relation is
  closer than the ties of blood."
  
  Leonti lay down on the bed, and took Raisky's hand.
  
  "Pardon my egoism," he said. "Later, later, I will come of my own accord,
  will ask permission to look after your library, if no hope is left me."
  
  "Have you any hope?"
  
  "What! Do you think there is no hope?"
  
  Raisky, who did not wish to deprive his friend of the last straw, nor to
  stir useless hope in him, hesitated, before he answered after a pause:
  "I don't know what to say to you exactly, Leonti. I know so little of
  your wife that I cannot judge her character."
  
  "You know her," said Leonti in a dull voice. "It was you who directed my
  attention to the Frenchman, but then I did not understand you, because
  nothing of the kind had entered my head. But if he leaves her," he said,
  with a gleam of hope in his eyes, "she will perhaps remember me."
  
  "Perhaps," said Raisky. "To-morrow I will come to fetch you. Good-bye
  for the present. To-night I will either come myself or send someone who
  will stay with you."
  
  Leonti did not hear, and did not even see Raisky go.
  
  When he reached home, Raisky gave his aunt an account of Leonti's
  condition, telling her that there was no danger, but that no sympathy
  would help matters. Yakob was sent to look after the sick man and
  Tatiana Markovna did not forget to send an abundant supper, with tea,
  rum, wine and all sorts of other things.
  
  "What are these things for, Grandmother?" asked Raisky. "He doesn't eat
  anything."
  
  "But the other one, if he returns?"
  
  "What other one?"
  
  "Who but Markushka? He will want something to eat. You found him with
  our invalid."
  
  "I will go to Mark, Granny, and tell him what you say."
  
  "For goodness' sake don't do that, Borushka. Mark will laugh at me."
  
  "No, he will be grateful and respectful, for he understands you. He is
  not like Niel Andreevich."
  
  "I don't want his gratitude and respect. Let him eat, and be satisfied,
  and God be with him. He is a ruined man. Has he remembered the eighty
  roubles?"
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXI
  
  
  Raisky laughed as he went out into the garden. He looked sadly at the
  closed shutters of the old house, and stood for a long time on the edge
  of the precipice, looking down thoughtfully into the depths of the
  thicket and the trees rustling and cracking in the wind. Then he turned
  to look at the long avenues, here forming gloomy corridors, and then
  opening out into open stately spaces, at the flower gardens now fading
  under the approach of autumn, at the kitchen garden, and at the distant
  glimmer of the rising moon, and at the stars. He looked out over the
  Volga, gleaming like steel in the distance. The evening was fresh and
  cool, and the withered leaves were falling with a gentle rustle around
  him. He could not take his eyes from the river, now silvered by the moon,
  which separated him from Vera. She had gone without leaving a word for
  him. A word from her would have brought tenderness and would have
  drowned all bitterness, he thought. But she was gone without leaving a
  trace or any kind remembrance. With bent head and full of anxious
  thought he made his way along the dark avenues.
  
  Suddenly delicate fingers seized his shoulders, and he heard a low laugh.
  
  "Vera!" he cried, seizing her hand violently. "You here, and not away
  over the Volga!"
  
  "Yes, here, not over there." She put her arm in his and asked him,
  laughing, whether he thought she would let him go without saying good-bye.
  
  "Witch!" he said, not knowing whether fear or joy was uppermost. "I was
  this very moment complaining that you had not left a line for me, and
  now I can't understand, as everyone in the house told me you had gone
  away yesterday."
  
  "And you believed it," she said laughing. "I told them to say so, to
  surprise you. They were humbugging.... To go away without two words,"
  she asked triumphantly, "or to stay, which is better?"
  
  Her gay talk, her quick gestures, the mockery in her voice, all these
  things seemed unnatural, and he recognised beneath it all weariness,
  strain, an effort to conceal the collapse of her strength. When they
  reached the end of the avenue he tried to lead her to an open spot,
  where he could see her face.
  
  "Let me look at you! How gay and merry you are, Vera!" he said timidly.
  
  "What is there to see?" she interrupted impatiently, and tried to draw
  him into the shadow again. He felt that her hands were trembling, and
  for the moment his own passion was stilled, and he shared her suffering.
  
  "Why do you look at me like that? I am not crazy," she said, turning her
  face away.
  
  He was stricken with horror. The insane are always assuring everyone of
  their sanity. What was wrong with Vera? She did not confide in him, she
  would not speak out, she was determined to fight her own battles. Who
  could support and shelter her? An inner voice told him that Tatiana
  Markovna alone could do it.
  
  "Vera, you are ill," he said earnestly. "Give Grandmother your
  confidence."
  
  "Silence! Not a word of Grandmother! Goodbye! To-morrow we will go for a
  stroll, do some shopping, go down by the river, anything you like."
  
  "I will go away, Vera," he cried, filled with inexpressible fear. "I am
  worn out. Why do you deceive me? Why did you call me back to find you
  still here? Was it to mock my sufferings?"
  
  "So that we could suffer together," she answered. "Passion is beautiful,
  as you yourself have said; it is life itself. You have taught me how to
  love, have educated passion in me, and now you may admire the result of
  your labour," she ended, drawing in a deep breath of the cool evening
  air.
  
  "I warned you, Vera. I told you passion was a fierce wolf."
  
  "No, worse, it is a tiger. I could not believe what you said, but I do
  now. Do you know the picture in the old house which represents a tiger
  showing his teeth at a seated Cupid? I never understood the picture,
  which seemed meaningless, but now I understand it. Passion is a tiger,
  lying there apparently so peaceful and inviting, until he begins to howl
  and to whet his teeth."
  
  Raisky pursued the comparison in the hope that he might learn the name
  of Vera's lover.
  
  "Your comparison is false, Vera. There are no tigers in our Northern
  climate. I am nearer the mark when I compare passion to a wolf."
  
  "You are right," she said with a nervous laugh. "A real wolf. However
  carefully you feed him he looks always to the woods. You are all wolves,
  and _he_, too, is a wolf."
  
  "Who?" he asked in an expressionless voice. "Tushin is a bear, a genuine
  Russian bear. You may lay your hand on his shaggy head, and sleep; your
  rest is sure, for he will serve you all his life."
  
  "Which of the animals am I?" he asked gaily, noting that Tushin was not
  the man. "Don't beat about the bush, Vera, you may say I am an ass."
  
  "No," she said scornfully. "You are a fox, a nice, cunning fox, with a
  gift for deception. That's what you are. Why don't you say something?"
  she went on, as he kept an embarrassed silence.
  
  "Vera, there are weapons to be used against wolves, for me, to go away;
  for you, not to go down there," he said, pointing to the precipice.
  
  "Tell me how to prevent myself from going there. Teach me, since you are
  my mentor, how not to go. You first set the house on fire, and then talk
  of leaving it. You sing in praise of passion, and then...."
  
  "I meant another kind of passion. Where both parties to it are
  honourable, it means the supreme happiness in life, and its storms are
  full of the glow of life...."
  
  "And where there is no dishonour, no precipice yawns? I love, and am
  loved, yet passion has me in its jaws. Tell me what I should do."
  
  "Confess all to Grandmother," whispered Raisky, pale with terror, "or
  permit me to talk to her."
  
  "To shame me and ruin me? Who told me I need not obey her?"
  
  "At one moment you are on the point of telling your secret, at another
  you hide behind it. I am in the dark, and feel my way in uncertainty.
  How can I, when I do not know the whole truth, diagnose the case?"
  
  "You know what is wrong with me? Why do you say you are in the dark.
  Come," she said, leading him into the moonlight. "See what is wrong with
  me."
  
  He stood transfixed with terror and pity. Pale, haggard, with wild eyes
  and tightly pressed lips, this was quite another Vera. Strands of hair
  were loose from beneath her hood, and fell in gipsy-like confusion over
  her forehead and temples, and covered her eyes and mouth with every
  quick movement she made. Her shoulders were negligently clad in a satin
  wrap trimmed with swansdown, held in place by a loosely tied knot of
  silk.
  
  "Well," she said, shaking her hair out of her eyes. "What has happened
  to the beauty whose praise you sang?"
  
  "Vera," he said, "I would die for you. Tell me how I may serve you."
  
  "Die!" she exclaimed. "Help me to live. Give me that beautiful passion
  which sheds its glorious light over the whole of life. I see no passion
  but this drowning tiger passion. Give me back at least my old strength,
  you, who talk of going to my Grandmother to place her and me on the same
  bier. It is too late to tell me to go no more to the precipice."
  
  She sat down on the bench and looked moodily straight before her.
  
  "You yourself, Vera, dreamed of freedom, and you prided yourself on your
  independence."
  
  "My head burns. Have pity on your sister! I am ashamed to be so weak."
  
  "What is it, dear Vera?"
  
  "Nothing. Take me home, help me to mount the steps. I am afraid, and
  would like to lie down. Pardon me for having disturbed you for nothing,
  for having brought you here. You would have gone away and forgotten me.
  I am only feverish. Are you angry with me?"
  
  Too dejected to reply, he gave her his arm, took her as far as her room,
  and struck a light.
  
  "Send Marina or Masha to stay in my room, please. But say nothing to
  Grandmother, lest she should be alarmed and come herself. Why are you
  looking at me so strangely? God knows what I have been saying to you, to
  plague you and to avenge myself of all my humiliations. Tell Grandmother
  that I have gone to bed to be up early in the morning, and I pray you
  bless me in your thoughts, do you hear?"
  
  "I hear," he said absently, as he pressed her hand and went out in
  search of Masha.
  
  He looked forward with anxiety to Vera's awakening. He seemed to have
  forgotten his own passion since his imagination had become absorbed in
  the contemplation of her suffering.
  
  "Something is wrong with Vera," said Tatiana Markovna, shaking her grey
  head as she saw how grimly he avoided her questioning glance.
  
  "What can it be?" asked Raisky negligently, with an effort to assume
  indifference.
  
  "Something is wrong, Borushka. She looks so melancholy and is so silent,
  and often seems to have tears in her eyes. I have spoken to the doctor,
  but he only talks the old nonsense about nerves," she said, relapsing
  into a gloomy silence.
  
  Raisky looked anxiously for Vera's appearance next morning. She came at
  last, accompanied by the maid, who carried a warm coat and her hat and
  shoes. She said good morning to her aunt, asked for coffee, ate her roll
  with appetite, and reminded Raisky that he had promised to go shopping
  with her in the town and to take a walk in the park. It amazed him that
  she should be once more transformed, but there was a certain audacity in
  her gestures and a haste in her speech which seemed forced and alien
  from her usual manner and reminded him of her behaviour the day before.
  
  She was plainly making a great effort to conceal her real mood. She
  chatted volubly with Paulina Karpovna, who had turned up unexpectedly
  and was displaying the pattern of a dress intended for Marfinka's
  trousseau. That lady's visit was really directed towards Raisky, of
  whose return she had heard. She sought in vain an occasion to speak with
  him alone, but seized a moment to sit down beside him, when she made
  eyes at him and said in a low voice: _"Je comprends; dites tout, du
  courage."_
  
  Raisky wished her anywhere, and moved away. Vera meanwhile put on her
  coat and asked him to come with her. Paulina Karpovna wished to
  accompany them, but Vera declined on the ground that they were walking
  and had far to go, that the ground was damp, and that Paulina's elegant
  dress with a long train was unsuited for the expedition.
  
  "I want to have you this whole day for myself," she said to Raisky as
  they went out together, "indeed every day until you go."
  
  "But, Vera, how can I help you when I don't know what is making you
  suffer. I only see that you have your own drama, that the catastrophe is
  approaching, or is in process. What is it?" he asked anxiously, as she
  shivered.
  
  "I don't feel well, and am far from gay. Autumn is beginning. Nature
  grows dark and sinister, the birds are already deserting us, and my mood,
  too, is autumnal. Do you see the black line high above the Volga? Those
  are the cranes in flight. My thoughts, too, fly away into the distance."
  
  She realised halfway that this strange explanation was unconvincing, and
  only pursued it because she did not wish to tell the truth.
  
  "I wanted to ask you, Vera, about the letters you wrote to me."
  
  "I am ill and weak; you saw what an attack I had yesterday. I cannot
  remember just now all that I wrote."
  
  "Another time then!" he sighed. "But tell me, Vera, how I can help you.
  Why do you keep me back, and why do you want to spend these days in my
  society? I have a right to ask this, and it is your duty to give a plain
  answer unless you want me to think you false."
  
  "Don't let us talk of it now."
  
  "No," he cried angrily. "You play with me as a cat does with a mouse. I
  will endure it no longer. You can either reveal your own secrets or keep
  them as you please, but in so far as it touches me, I demand an
  immediate answer. What is my part in this drama?"
  
  "Do not be angry! I did not keep you back to wound you. But don't talk
  about it, don't agitate me so that I have another attack like
  yesterday's. You see that I can hardly stand. I don't want my weakness
  to be seen at home. Defend me from myself. Come to me at dusk, about six,
  and I will tell you why I detained you."
  
  "Pardon me, Vera. I am not myself either," he said, struck by her
  suffering. "I don't know what lies on your heart, and I will not ask. I
  will come later to fetch you."
  
  "I will tell you if I have the strength," she said.
  
  They went into the shops, where Vera made purchases for herself and
  Marfinka, she talked eagerly to the acquaintances they met, and even
  visited a poor godchild, for whom she took gifts. She assented readily
  to Raisky's suggestion that they should visit Koslov.
  
  When they reached the house, Mark walked out of the door. He was plainly
  startled, made no answer to Raisky's inquiry after Leonti's health, and
  walked quickly away. Vera was still more disconcerted but pulled herself
  together, and followed Raisky into the house.
  
  "What is the matter with him?" asked Raisky. "He did not answer a word,
  but simply bolted. You were frightened, too, Vera. Is it Mark who
  signalises his presence at the foot of the precipice by a shot? I have
  seen him wandering round with a gun," he said joking.
  
  She answered in the same tone: "Of course, Cousin," but she did not look
  at him.
  
  No, thought Raisky to himself, she could not have taken for her idol a
  wandering, ragged gipsy like that. Then he wondered whether the
  possibility could be entirely excluded, since passion wanders where he
  lists, and not in obedience to the convictions and dictates of man. He
  is invincible, and master of his own inexplicable moods. But Vera had
  never had any opportunity of meeting Mark, he concluded, and was merely
  afraid of him as every one else was.
  
  Leonti's condition was unchanged. He wandered about like a drunken man,
  silent and listening for the noise of any carriage in the street, when
  he would rush to the window to look if it bore his fugitive wife.
  
  He would come to them in a few weeks, he said, after Marfinka's wedding,
  as Vera suggested. Then he became aware of Vera's presence.
  
  "Vera Vassilievna!" he cried in surprise, staring at her as he addressed
  Raisky. "Do you know, Boris Pavlovich, who else has read your books and
  helped me to arrange them?"
  
  "Who has been reading my books?" asked Raisky.
  
  But Leonti had been distracted by the sound of a passing carriage and
  did not hear the question. Vera whispered to Raisky that they should go.
  
  "I wanted to say something, Boris Pavlovich," said Leonti thoughtfully,
  raising his head, "but I can't remember what."
  
  "You said some one else had been reading my books."
  
  Leonti pointed to Vera, who was looking out of the window, but who now
  pulled Raisky's sleeve "Come!" she said and they left the house.
  
  When they reached home Vera made over some of her purchases to her aunt,
  and had others taken to her room. She asked Raisky to go out with her
  again in the park and down by the Volga.
  
  "Why are you tiring yourself out, Vera?" he asked, as they went. "You
  are weak."
  
  "Air, I must have air!" she exclaimed, turning her face to the wind.
  
  She is collecting all her strength, he thought, as they entered the room
  where the family was waiting for them for dinner. In the afternoon he
  slept for weariness, and only awoke at twilight, when six o'clock had
  already struck. He went to find Vera, but Marina told him she had gone
  to vespers, she did not know whether in the village church on the hill
  or in the church on the outskirts of the town. He went to the town
  church first, and after studying the faces of all the old women
  assembled there, he climbed the hill to the village church. Old people
  stood in the corners and by the door, and by a pillar in a dark corner
  knelt Vera, with a veil wrapped round her bowed head. He took his stand
  near her, behind another pillar, and, engrossed in his thoughts of her
  state of mind, watched her intently as she prayed motionless, with her
  eyes fixed on the cross. He went sadly into the porch to wait for her,
  and there she joined him, putting her hand in his arm without a word.
  
  As they crossed the big meadow into the park he thought of nothing but
  the promised explanation. His own intense desire to be freed from his
  miserable uncertainty weighed with him less than his duty, as he
  conceived it, of shielding her, of illuminating her path with his
  experience, and of lending his undivided strength to keep her from
  overstepping her moral precipice. Perhaps it was merely a remnant of
  pride that prevented her from telling him why she had summoned him and
  detained him.
  
  He could not, and, even if he could, he had not the right to share his
  apprehensions with anyone else. Even if he might confide in Tatiana
  Markovna, if he spoke to her of his suspicion and his surmises, he was
  not clear that it would help matters, for he feared that their aunt's
  practical, but old-fashioned wisdom would be shattered on Vera's
  obstinacy. Vera possessed the bolder mind, the quicker will. She was
  level with contemporary thought, and towered above the society in which
  she moved. She must have derived her ideas and her knowledge from some
  source accessible to her alone. Though she took pains to conceal her
  knowledge, it was betrayed by a chance word, by the mention of a name or
  an authority in this or that sphere of learning, and it was betrayed
  also in her speech; in the remarkable aptness of the words in which she
  clothed her thoughts and feelings. In this matter she held so great an
  advantage over Tatiana Markovna that the old lady's efforts in argument
  were more likely to be disastrous than not.
  
  Undoubtedly Tatiana Markovna was a wise woman with a correct judgment of
  the general phenomena of life. She was a famous housewife, ruling her
  little tsardom magnificently; she knew the ways, the vices and the
  virtues of mankind as they are set out in the Ten Commandments and the
  Gospels, but she knew nothing of the life where the passions rage and
  steep everything in their colours. And even if she had known such a
  world in her youth it must have been passion divorced from experience,
  an unshared passion, or one stifled in its development, not a stormy
  drama of love, but rather a lyric tenderness which unfolded and perished
  without leaving a trace on her pure life. How could she lend a rescuing
  hand to snatch Vera from the precipice, she who had no faith in passion,
  but had merely sought to understand facts?
  
  The shots in the depths of the precipice, and Vera's expeditions were
  indeed facts, against which Tatiana Markovna might be able to adopt
  measures. She might double the watch kept on the property, set men to
  watch for the lover, while Vera, shut up in the house, endured
  humiliation and a fresh kind of suffering.
  
  Vera would not endure any such rough constraint, and would make her
  escape, just as she had fled across the Volga from Raisky. These would
  be, in fact, no means at all, for she had outgrown Tatiana Markovna's
  circle of experience and morals. No, authority might serve with Marfinka,
  but not with the clear-headed, independent Vera.
  
  Such were Raisky's thoughts as he walked silently by Vera's side, no
  longer desiring full knowledge for his own sake, but for her salvation.
  Perhaps, he thought, he would best gain his end by indirect efforts to
  make her betray herself.
  
  "Leonti said," he began, "that you have been reading books out of my
  library. Did you read them with him?"
  
  "Sometimes he told me of the contents of certain books; others I read
  with the priest, Natasha's husband."
  
  "What books did you read with the priest?"
  
  "For the moment I don't remember, but he read the writings of the
  Fathers, for instance, and explained them to Natasha and me, to my great
  advantage. We also read with him Voltaire and Spinoza. Why do you
  laugh?" she asked, looking at Raisky.
  
  "There seems a remarkable gap between the Fathers and Spinoza and
  Voltaire. The EncyclopФdists are also included in my library. Did you
  read them?"
  
  "Nikolai Ivanovich read some to us, and talked about others."
  
  "Did you also occupy yourselves with Feuerbach, with the Socialists and
  the Materialists?"
  
  "Yes, Natasha's husband asked us to copy out passages, which he
  indicated by pencil marks."
  
  "What was his object in this?"
  
  "I think he was preparing to publish a refutation."
  
  "Where did you obtain the newer books that are not in my library?
  Not the exile," he suggested as she gave no answer, "who lives
  here under police supervision, the same man about whom you wrote
  to me? But you are not listening."
  
  "Yes, I am. Who gave me the books? Sometimes one person, sometimes
  another here in the town."
  
  "Volokov borrowed these books."
  
  "Perhaps so, I had them from professors."
  
  The thought flashed through Raisky's head that there might be other
  professors of the same kind as Monsieur Charles. But he merely asked
  what were the views of Nikolai Ivanovich on Spinoza and these other
  writers.
  
  "He says." replied Vera, "that these writings are the efforts of bold
  minds to evade the truth; they have beaten out for themselves side paths
  which must in the end unite with the main road. He says too, that all
  these attempts serve the cause of truth, in that the truth shines out
  with greater splendour in the end."
  
  "But he does not tell you where truth lies?"
  
  By way of answer she pointed to the little chapel now in sight.
  
  "And you think he is right?"
  
  "I don't think, I believe. And don't you also believe he is right."
  
  He agreed, and she asked him why, that being so, he had asked her.
  
  "I wanted," he said, "to know your opinion."
  
  "But you have often seen me at prayer," said Vera.
  
  "Yes, but I do not overhear your prayers. Do you pray for the
  alleviation of the restless sorrow that afflicts your mind?"
  
  They had reached the chapel, and Vera stood still for a moment. She did
  not appear to have heard his question, and she answered only with a deep
  sigh. It was growing dark as they retraced their steps, Vera's growing
  slower and more uncertain as they approached the old house, where she
  stood still and glanced in the direction of the precipice.
  
  "To still the storm I must not go near the precipice, you say--I beg of
  you to stand by me, for I am sick and helpless."
  
  "Will not Grandmother know better how to help you, Vera? Confide in her,
  a woman, who will perhaps understand your pain."
  
  She shook her head. "I will tell you, Grandmother and you, but not now;
  now I cannot. And yet I beg of you not to leave me, not to allow me out
  of your sight. If a shot summons me, keep me away from the precipice,
  and, if necessary, hold me back by force. Things are as bad as that with
  me. That is all you can do for me. That is why I asked you not to go
  away, because I felt that my strength is failing, because except you I
  have no one to help me, for Grandmother would not understand. Forgive
  me."
  
  "You did right, Vera," he replied, deeply moved. "Depend on me. I am
  willing to stay here for ever, if that will bring you peace."
  
  "No, in a week's time the shots will cease."
  
  She dried her eyes, and pressed his hand; then with slow, uneven steps,
  supporting herself by the balustrade she passed up the steps and into
  the house.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXII
  
  
  Two days had passed, and Raisky had had small opportunity of seeing
  Vera alone, though she came to dinner and to tea, and spoke of ordinary
  things. Raisky turned once more to his novel, or rather to the plan of
  it. He visited Leonti, and did not neglect the Governor and other
  friends. But in order to keep watch on Vera he wandered about the park
  and the garden. Two days were now gone, he thought, since he sat on the
  bench by the precipice, but there were still five days of danger.
  Marfinka's birthday lay two days' ahead, and on that day Vera would
  hardly leave the family circle. On the next Marfinka was to go with her
  fiancИ and his mother to Kolchino, and Vera would not be likely to leave
  Tatiana Markovna alone. By that time the week would be over and the
  threatening clouds dispersed.
  
  After dinner Vera asked him to come over to her in the evening, as she
  wished him to undertake a commission for her. When he arrived she
  suggested a walk, and, as she chose the direction of the fields he
  realised that she wished to go to the chapel, and took the field path
  accordingly.
  
  As she crossed the threshold, she looked up at the thoughtful face of
  the Christ.
  
  "You have sought more powerful aid than mine," said Raisky. "Moreover,
  you will not now go there without me."
  
  She nodded in assent. She seemed to be seeking strength, sympathy and
  support from the glance of the Crucified, but His eyes kept their
  expression of quiet thought and detachment.
  
  When she turned her eyes from the picture she reiterated, "I will not
  go." Raisky read on her face neither prayer nor desire; it wore an
  expression of weariness, indifference and submission.
  
  He suggested that they should return, and reminded her that she had a
  commission for him.
  
  "Will you take the bouquet-holder that I chose the other week for
  Marfinka's birthday to the goldsmith?" she said, handing him her purse.
  "I gave him some pearls to set in it, and her name should be engraved.
  And could you be up as early as eight o'clock on her birthday?"
  
  "Of course. If necessary, I can stay up all night!"
  
  "I have already spoken to the gardener, who owns the big orangery. Would
  you choose me a nice bouquet and send it to me. I have confidence in
  your taste."
  
  "Your confidence in me makes progress, Vera," he laughed. "You already
  trust my taste and my honour."
  
  "I would have seen to all this myself," she went on, "but I have not the
  strength."
  
  Next day Raisky took the bouquet holder, and discussed the arrangement
  of the flowers with the gardener. He himself bought for Marfinka an
  elegant watch and chain, with two hundred roubles which he borrowed from
  Tiet Nikonich, for Tatiana Markovna would not have given him so much
  money for the purpose, and would have betrayed the secret. In Tiet
  Nikonich's room he found a dressing table decked with muslin and lace,
  with a mirror encased in a china frame of flowers and Cupids, a
  beautiful specimen of SХvres work.
  
  "Where did you get this treasure?" cried Raisky, who could not take his
  eyes from the thing. "What a lovely piece!"
  
  "It is my gift for Marfa Vassilievna," said Tiet Nikonich with his kind
  smile. "I am glad it pleases you, for you are a connoisseur. Your liking
  for it assures me that the dear birthday child will appreciate it as a
  wedding gift. She is a lovely girl, just like these roses. The Cupids
  will smile when they see her charming face in the mirror. Please don't
  tell Tatiana Markovna of my secret."
  
  "This beautiful piece must have cost over two thousand roubles, and you
  cannot possibly have bought it here."
  
  "My Grandfather gave five thousand roubles for it, and it was part of my
  Mother's house-furnishing and until now it stood in her bedroom, left
  untouched in my birth-place. I had it brought here last month, and to
  make sure it should not be broken, six men carried it in alternate
  shifts for the whole hundred and fifty versts. I had a new muslin cover
  made, but the lace is old; you will notice how yellow it is. Ladies like
  these things, although they don't matter to us."
  
  "What will Grandmother say?"
  
  "There will be a storm. I do feel rather uneasy about it, but perhaps
  she will forgive me. I may tell you, Boris Pavlovich, that I love both
  the girls, as if they were my own daughters. I held them on my knee as
  babies, and with Tatiana Markovna gave them their first lessons. I tell
  you in confidence that I have also arranged a wedding present for Vera
  Vassilievna which I hope she will like when the time comes." He showed
  Raisky a magnificent antique silver dinner service of fine workmanship
  for twelve persons. "I may confess to you, as you are her cousin, that
  in agreement with Tatiana Markovna I have a splendid and a rich marriage
  in view for her, for whom nothing can be too good. The finest
  _partie_ in this neighbourhood," he said in a confidential tone,
  "is Ivan Ivanovich Tushin, who is absolutely devoted to her, as he well
  may be."
  
  Raisky repressed a sigh and went home where he found Vikentev and his
  mother, who had arrived for Marfinka's birthday, with Paulina Karpovna
  and other guests from the town, who stayed until nearly seven o'clock.
  Tatiana Markovna and Marfa Egorovna carried on an interminable
  conversation about Marfinka's trousseau and house furnishing. The lovers
  went into the garden, and from there to the village. Vikentev carrying a
  parcel which he threw in the air and caught again as he walked. Marfinka
  entered every house, said good-bye to the women, and caressed the
  children. In two cases she washed the children's faces, she distributed
  calico for shirts and dresses, and told two elder children to whom she
  presented shoes that it was time they gave up paddling in the puddles.
  
  "God reward you, our lovely mistress, Angel of God!" cried the women in
  every yard as she bade them farewell for a fortnight.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXIII
  
  
  In the evening the house was aglow with light. Tatiana Markovna could
  not do enough in honour of her guest and future connexion. She had a
  great bed put up in the guest-chamber, that nearly reached to the
  ceiling and resembled a catafalque. Marfinka and Vikentev gave full rein
  to their gay humour, as they played and sang. Only Raisky's windows were
  dark. He had gone out immediately after dinner and had not returned to
  tea.
  
  The moon illuminated the new house but left the old house in shadow.
  There was bustle in the yard, in the kitchen, and in the servants' rooms,
  where Marfa Egorovna's coachman and servants were being entertained.
  
  From seven o'clock onwards Vera had sat idle in the dusk by the feeble
  light of a candle, her head supported on her hand, leaning over the
  table, while with her other hand she turned over the leaves of a book at
  which she hardly glanced. She was protected from the cold autumn air
  from the open window, by a big white woollen shawl thrown round her
  shoulders. She stood up after a time, laid the book on the table, and
  went to the window. She looked towards the sky, and then at the
  gaily-lighted house opposite. She shivered, and was about to shut the
  window when the report of a gun rolled up from the park through the
  quiet dusk.
  
  She shuddered, and seemed to have lost the use of her limbs, then sank
  into a chair and bowed her head. When she rose and looked wildly round,
  her face had changed. Sheer fright and distress looked from her eyes.
  Again and again she passed her hand over her forehead, and sat down at
  the table, only to jump up again. She tore the shawl from her shoulders
  and threw it on the bed; then with nervous haste she opened and shut the
  cupboard; she looked on the divan, on the chairs, for something she
  apparently could not find, and then collapsed wearily on her chair.
  
  On the back of the chair hung a wrap, a gift from Tiet Nikonich. She
  seized it and threw it over her head, rushed to the wardrobe, hunted in
  it with feverish haste, taking out first one coat, then another, until
  she had nearly emptied the cupboard and dresses and cloaks lay in a heap
  on the floor. At last she found something warm and dark, put out the
  light, and went noiselessly down the steps into the open. She crossed
  the yard, hidden in the shadows, and took her way along the dark avenue.
  She did not walk, she flew; and when she crossed the open light patches
  her shadow was hardly visible for a moment, as if the moon had not time
  to catch the flying figure.
  
  When she reached the end of the avenue, by the ditch which divided the
  garden from the park, she stopped a moment to get her breath. Then she
  crossed the park, hurried through the bushes, past her favourite bench,
  and reached the precipice. She picked up her skirts for the descent,
  when suddenly, as if he had risen out of the ground, Raisky stood
  between her and her goal.
  
  "Where are you going, Vera?"
  
  There was no answer.
  
  "Go back," he said, offering his hand, but she tried to push past him.
  "Vera, where are you going?"
  
  "It is for the last time." she said in a pleading, shamed whisper. "I
  must say good-bye. Make way for me, Cousin! I will return in a moment.
  Wait for me here, on this bench."
  
  Without replying, he took her firmly by the hand, and she struggled in
  vain to free herself.
  
  "Let me go! You are hurting me!"
  
  But he did not give way, and the struggle proceeded.
  
  "You will not hold me by force," she cried, and with unnatural strength
  freed herself, and sought to dash past him.
  
  But he put his arm round her waist, took her to the bench, and sat down
  beside her.
  
  "How rough and rude!" she cried.
  
  "I cannot hold you back by force, Vera. I may be saving you from ruin."
  
  "Can I be ruined against my own will?"
  
  "It is against your will; yet you go to your ruin."
  
  "There is no question of ruin. We must see one another again in order to
  separate."
  
  "It is not necessary to see one another in order to separate."
  
  "I must, and will. An hour or a day later, it is all the same. You may
  call the servants, the whole town, a file of soldiers, but no power will
  keep me back."
  
  A second shot resounded.
  
  She pulled herself up, but was pressed down on the bench with the weight
  of Raisky's hands. She shook her head wildly in powerless rage.
  
  "What reward do you hope from me for this virtuous deed?" she hissed.
  
  He said nothing, but kept a watchful eye on her movements. After a time
  she besought him gently: "Let me go, Cousin," but he refused.
  
  "Cousin," she said, laying her hand gently on his shoulder. "Imagine
  that you sat upon hot coals, and were dying every minute of terror, and
  of wild impatience, that happiness rose before you, stretching out
  enticing arms, only to vanish, that your whole being rose to meet it;
  imagine that you saw before you a last hope, a last glimmer. That is how
  it is with me at this moment. The moment will be lost, and with it
  everything else."
  
  "Think, Vera, if in the hot thirst of fever you ask for ice, it is
  denied you. In your soberer moments yesterday you pointed out to me the
  practical means of rescue, you said I was not to let you go, and I will
  not."
  
  She fell on her knees before him, and wrung her hands.
  
  "I should curse you my whole life long for your violence. Give way.
  Perhaps it is my destiny that calls me."
  
  "I was a witness yesterday, Vera, of where you seek your fate. You
  believe in a Providence, and there is no other destiny."
  
  "Yes," she answered submissively. "I do believe. There before the sacred
  picture I sought for a spark to lighten my path, but in vain. What shall
  I do?" she said, rising.
  
  "Do not go, Vera."
  
  "Perhaps it is my destiny that sends me there, there where my presence
  may be needed. Don't try any longer to keep me, for I have made up my
  mind. My weakness is gone, and I have recovered control of myself and
  feel I am strong. It is not my destiny alone, but the destiny of another
  human being that is to be decided down there. Between me and him you are
  digging an abyss, and the responsibility will rest upon you. I shall
  never be consoled, and shall accuse you of having destroyed our
  happiness. Do not hold me back. You can only do it out of egoism, out of
  jealousy. You lied when you spoke to me of freedom."
  
  "I hear the voice of passion, Vera, with all its sophistry and its
  deviations. You are practising the arts of a Jesuit. Remember that you
  yourself bade me, only yesterday, not to leave you. Will you curse me
  for not yielding to you? On whom does the responsibility rest? Tell me
  who the man is?"
  
  "If I tell you will you promise not to keep me back?" she said quickly.
  
  "I don't know. Perhaps."
  
  "Give me your word not to keep me any longer, and I give the name."
  
  Another shot rang out.
  
  She sprang to one side, before he had time to take her by the hand.
  
  "Go to Grandmother," he commanded, adding gently, "Tell her your
  trouble."
  
  "For Christ's sake let me go. I ask for alms like a beggar. I must be
  free! I take him to whom I prayed yesterday to witness that I am going
  for the last time. Do you hear? I will not break my oath. Wait here for
  me. I will return immediately, will only say farewell to the 'Wolf,'
  will hear a word from him, and perhaps he will yield!" She rushed
  forward, fell to the ground in her haste, and tried in vain to rise. Tom
  by an unutterable pity, Raisky took no heed of his own suffering, but
  raised her in his arms and bore her down the precipice.
  
  "The path is so steep here that you would fall again," he whispered.
  Presently he set her down on the path, and she stooped to kiss his hand.
  
  "You are generous, Cousin. Vera will not forget."
  
  With that she hurried into the thicket, jubilant as a bird set free from
  his cage.
  
  Raisky heard the rustle of the bushes as she pushed them aside, and the
  crackle of the dry twigs.
  
  In the half-ruined arbour waited Mark, with gun and cap laid upon the
  table. He walked up and down on the shaky floor, and whenever he trod on
  one end of a board the other rose in the air, and then fell clattering
  back again.
  
  "The devil's music!" he murmured angrily, sat down on a bench near the
  table, and pushed his hands through his thick hair. He smoked one
  cigarette after another, the burning match lighting up his pale,
  agitated face for a moment. After each shot he listened for a few
  minutes, went out on the steps, and looked out into the bushes. When he
  returned he walked up and down, raising the "devil's music" once more,
  threw himself on the bench, and ran his hands through his hair. After
  the third shot he listened long and earnestly. As he heard nothing he
  was on the point of going away. To relieve his gloomy feelings he
  murmured a curse between his teeth, took the gun and prepared to descend
  the path. He hesitated a few moments longer, then walked off with
  decision. Suddenly he met Vera.
  
  She stood still, breathing with difficulty, and laid her hand on her
  heart. As soon as he took her hand she was calm. Mark could not conceal
  his joy, but his words of greeting did not betray it.
  
  "You used to be punctual, Vera," he said, "and I used not to have to
  waste three shots."
  
  "A reproach instead of a welcome!" she said, drawing her hand away.
  
  "It's only by way of beginning a conversation Happiness makes a fool of
  me, like Raisky."
  
  "If happiness gleamed before us, we should not be meeting in secret by
  this precipice," she said, drawing a long breath.
  
  "We should be sitting at your Grandmother's tea-table, and waiting till
  someone arranged our betrothal. Why dream of these impossible things.
  Your Grandmother would not give you to me."
  
  "She would. She does what I wish. That is not the hindrance."
  
  "You are starting on this endless polemic again, Vera. We are meeting
  for the last time, as you determined we should. Let us make an end of
  this torture."
  
  "I took an oath never to come here again."
  
  "Meanwhile, the time is precious. We are parting for ever, if stupidity
  commands, if your Grandmother's antiquated convictions separate us. I
  leave here a week from now. As you know the document assuring my freedom
  has arrived. Let us be together, and not be separated again."
  
  "Never?"
  
  "Never!" he repeated angrily, with a gesture of impatience. "What lying
  words those are, 'never' and 'always.' Of course 'never.' Does not a
  year, perhaps two, three years, mean never? You want a never ending
  tenderness. Does such a thing exist?"
  
  "Enough, Mark! I have heard enough of this temporary affection. Ah! I am
  very unhappy. The separation from you is not the only cloud over my soul.
  For a year now I have been hiding myself from my Grandmother, which
  oppresses me, and her still more. I hoped that in these days my trouble
  would end; we should put our thoughts, our hopes, our intentions on a
  clear footing. Then I would go to Grandmother and say: 'This is what I
  have chosen for my whole life.' But it is not to be, and we are to
  part?" she asked sadly.
  
  "If I conceived myself to be an angel," said Mark, "I might say 'for our
  whole lives,' and you would be justified. That gray-headed dreamer,
  Raisky, also thinks that women are created for a higher purpose."
  
  "They are created above all for the family. They are not angels, neither
  are they, most certainly, mere animals. I am no wolf's mate, Mark, but a
  woman."
  
  "For the family, yes. But is that any hindrance for us. You want
  draperies, for fine feeling, sympathies and the rest of the stuff are
  nothing but draperies, like those famous leaves with which, it is said,
  human beings covered themselves in Paradise."
  
  "Yes, Mark, human beings!"
  
  Mark smiled sarcastically, and shrugged his shoulders.
  
  "They may be draperies," continued Vera, "but they also, according to
  your own teaching, are given by nature. What, I ask, is it that attaches
  you to me? You say you love me. You have altered, grown thinner. Is it
  not, by your conception of love, a matter of indifference whether you
  choose a companion in me, or from the poor quarter of our town, or from
  a village on the Volga. What has induced you to come down here for a
  whole year?"
  
  "Examine your own fallacy, Vera," he said, looking at her gloomily.
  "Love is not a concept merely, but a driving force, a necessity, and
  therefore is mostly blind. But I am not blindly chained to you. Your
  extraordinary beauty, your intellect and your free outlook hold me
  longer in thrall than would be possible with any other woman."
  
  "Very flattering!" she said in a low, pained voice.
  
  "These ideas of yours, Vera, will bring us to disaster. But for them we
  should for long have been united and happy."
  
  "Happy for a time. And then a new driving force will appear on the scene,
  the stage will be cleared, and so on."
  
  "The responsibility is not ours. Nature has ordered it so, and rightly.
  Can we alter Nature, in order to live on concepts?"
  
  "These concepts are essential principles. You have said yourself that
  Nature has her laws, and human beings their principles."
  
  "That is where the germ of disintegration lies, in that men want to
  formulate principles from the driving force of Nature, and thus to
  hamper themselves hand and foot. Love is happiness, which Nature has
  conferred on man. That is my view."
  
  "The happiness of which you speak," said Vera, rising, "has as its
  complement, duty. That is my view."
  
  "How fantastic! Forget your duty, Vera, and acquiesce in the fact that
  love is a driving force of Nature, often an uncontrollable one." Then
  standing up to her embraced her, saying, "Is that not so, you most
  obstinate, beautiful and wisest of women?"
  
  "Yes, duty," she said haughtily, disengaging herself. "For the years of
  happiness retribution will be exacted."
  
  "How? In making soup, nursing one another, looking at one another and
  pretending, in harping on principles, as we ourselves fade? If one half
  falls ill and retrogresses, shall the other who is strong, who hears the
  call of life, allow himself to be held back by duty?"
  
  "Yes. In that case he must not listen to the calls that come to him; he
  must, to use Grandmother's expression, avoid the voice as he would the
  brandy bottle. That is how I understand happiness."
  
  "Your case must be a bad one if it has to be bolstered up by quotations
  from your Grandmother's wisdom. Tell me how firmly your principles are
  rooted."
  
  "I will go to her to-day direct from here."
  
  "To tell her what?"
  
  "To tell her what there is between us, all that she does not know," she
  said, sitting down on the bench again.
  
  "Why?"
  
  "You don't understand, because you don't know what duty means. I have
  been guilty before her for a long time."
  
  "That is the morality which smothers life with mould and dulness. Vera,
  Vera, you don't love, you do not know how!"
  
  "You ought not to speak like that, unless you wish to drive me to
  despair. Am I to think that there is deception in your past, that you
  want to ruin me when you do not love me?"
  
  "No, no, Vera," he said, rising hastily to his feet. "If I had wanted to
  deceive you I could have done so long ago."
  
  "What a desperate war you wage against yourself, Mark, and how you ruin
  your own life!" she cried, wringing her hands.
  
  "Let us cease to quarrel, Vera. Your Grandmother speaks through you, but
  with another voice. That was all very well once, but now we are in the
  flood of another life where neither authority nor preconceived ideas
  will help us, where truth alone asserts her power."
  
  "Where is truth?"
  
  "In happiness, in the joy of love. And I love you. Why do you torture me.
  Why do you fight against me and against yourself, and make two victims?"
  
  "It is a strange reproach. Look at me. It is only a few days since we
  saw one another, and have I not changed?"
  
  "I see that you suffer, and that makes it the more senseless. Now, I too
  ask what has induced you to come down here for all this time?"
  
  "Because I had not earlier realised the horror of my position, you will
  say," she said, with a look that was almost hostile. "We might have
  asked one another this question, and made this reproach, long ago, and
  might have ceased to meet here. Better late than never! To-day we must
  answer the question, What is it that we wanted and expected from one
  another?"
  
  "Here is my irrefragable opinion--I want your love, and I give you mine.
  In love I recognise solely the principle of reciprocation, as it obtains
  in Nature. The law that I acknowledge is to follow unfettered our strong
  impression, to exchange happiness for happiness. This answers your
  question of why I came here. Is sacrifice necessary? Call it what you
  will there is no sacrifice in my scheme of life. I will no longer wander
  in this morass, and don't understand how I have wasted my strength so
  long, certainly not for your sake, but essentially for my own. Here I
  will stay so long as I am happy, so long as I love. If my love grows
  cold, I shall tell you so, and go wherever Life leads me, without taking
  any baggage of duties and privileges with me; those I leave here in the
  depths below the precipice. You see, Vera, I don't deceive you, but
  speak frankly. Naturally you possess the same rights as I. The mob above
  there lies to itself and others, and calls these his principles. But in
  secret and by cunning it acts in the same way, and only lays its ban on
  the women. Between us there must be equality. Is that fair or not?"
  
  "Sophistry!" she said, shaking her head. "You know my principles, Mark."
  
  "To hang like stones round one another's necks."
  
  "Love imposes duties, just as life demands them. If you had an old,
  blind mother you would maintain and support her, would remain by her. An
  honourable man holds it to be his duty and his pleasure too."
  
  "You philosophise, Vera, but you do not love."
  
  "You avoid my argument, Mark. I speak my opinion plainly, for I am a
  woman, not an animal, or a machine."
  
  "Your love is the fantastic, elaborate type described in novels. Is what
  you ask of me honourable? Against my convictions I am to go into a
  church, to submit to a ceremony which has no meaning for me. I don't
  believe any of it and can't endure the parson. Should I be acting
  logically or honourably?"
  
  Vera hastily wrapped herself in her mantilla, and stood up to go.
  
  "We met, Mark, to remove all the obstacles that stand in the way of our
  happiness, but instead of that we are increasing them. You handle
  roughly things that are sacred to me. Why did you call me here? I
  thought you had surrendered, that we should take one another's hands for
  ever. Every time I have taken the path down the cliff it has been in
  this hope, and in the end I am disappointed. Do you know, Mark, where
  true life lies?"
  
  "Where?"
  
  "In the heart of a loving woman. To be the friend of such a woman...."
  
  Tears stifled her voice, but through her sobs she whispered: "I cannot,
  Mark. Neither my intellect nor my strength are sufficient to dispute
  with you. My weapon is weak, and has no value except that I have drawn
  it from the armoury of a quiet life, not from books or hearsay. I had
  thought to conquer you with other weapons. Do you remember how all this
  began?" she said, sitting down once more. "At first I was sorry for you.
  You were here alone, with no one to understand you, and everyone fled at
  the sight of you. I was drawn to you by sympathy, and saw something
  strange and undisciplined in you. You had no care for propriety, you
  were incautious in speech, you played rashly with life, cared for no
  human being, had no faith of your own, and sought to win disciples. From
  curiosity I followed your steps, allowed you to meet me, took books from
  you. I recognised in you intellect and strength, but strangely mixed and
  directed away from life. Then, to my sorrow, I imagined that I could
  teach you to value life, I wanted you to live so that you should be
  higher and better than anyone else, I quarrelled with you over your
  undisciplined way of living. You submitted to my influence, and I
  submitted to yours, to your intellect, your audacity, and even adopted
  part of your sophistry."
  
  "But you soon," put in Mark, "retraced your steps, and were seized with
  fear of your Grandmother. Why did you not leave me when you first became
  aware of my sophistry? Sophistry!"
  
  "It was too late, for I had already taken your fate too intimately to
  heart. I believed with all possible ardour that you would for my sake
  comprehend life, that you would cease to wander about to your own injury
  and without advantage to anyone else, that you would accept a
  substantial position of some kind...."
  
  "Vice-governor, Councillor or something of the kind," he mocked.
  
  "What's in the name? Yes, I thought that you would show yourself a man
  of action in a wide sphere of influence."
  
  "As a well-disposed subject and as jack of all trades, and what else?"
  
  "My lifelong friend. I let my hopes of you take hold on me, and was
  carried away by them, and what are my gains in the terrible conflict?
  One only, that you flee from love, from happiness, from life, and from
  your Vera." She drew closer to him and touched his shoulder. "Don't fly
  from us, Mark. Look in my eyes, listen to my voice, which speaks with
  the voice of truth. Let us go to-morrow up the hill into the garden, and
  to-morrow there will be no happier pair than we are. You love me, Mark.
  Mark, do you hear? Look at me."
  
  She stooped, and looked into his eyes.
  
  He got sharply to his feet, and shook his mass of hair.
  
  Vera took up her black mantilla once more, but her hands refused to obey
  her, and the mantilla fell on the floor. She took a step towards the
  door, but sank down again on the bench. Where could she find strength to
  hold him, when she had not even strength to leave the arbour, she
  wondered. And even if she could hold him, what would be the consequences?
  Not one life, but two separate lives, two prisons, divided by a grating.
  
  "We are both brusque and strong, Vera; that is why we torture one
  another, why we are separating."
  
  "If I were strong, you would not leave Malinovka; you would ascend the
  hill with me, not clandestinely, but boldly by my side. Come and share
  life and happiness with me. It is impossible that you should not trust
  me, impossible that you are insincere, for that would be a crime. What
  shall I do? How shall I bring home to you the truth?"
  
  "You would have to be stronger than I, but we are of equal strength.
  That is why we dispute and are not of one mind. We must separate without
  bringing our struggle to an issue, one must submit to the other. I could
  take forcible possession of you as I could of any other woman. But what
  in another woman is prudery, or petty fear, or stupidity, is in you
  strength and womanly determination. The mist that divided us is
  dispersed; we have made our position clear. Nature has endued you with a
  powerful weapon, Vera. The antiquated ideas, morality, duty, principles,
  and faiths that do not exist for me are firmly established with you. You
  are not easily carried away, you put up a desperate fight and will only
  confess yourself conquered under terms of equality with your opponent.
  You are wrong, for it is a kind of theft. You ask to be conquered, and
  to carry off all the spoils! I, Vera, cannot give everything, but I
  respect you."
  
  Vera gave him a glance in which there was a trace of pride, but her
  heart beat with the pain of parting. His words were a model of what a
  farewell should be.
  
  "We have gone to the bottom of the matter," said Mark dully, "and I
  leave the decision in your hands." He went to the other side of the
  arbour, keeping his eyes fixed upon her. "I am not deceiving you even
  now, in this decisive moment, when my head is giddy--I cannot. I do not
  promise you an unending love, because I do not believe in such a thing.
  I will not be your betrothed. But I love you more than anything else in
  the world. If, after all I have told you, you come to my arms, it means
  that you love me, that you are mine."
  
  She looked across at him with wide open eyes, and felt that her whole
  body was trembling. A doubt shot through her mind. Was he a Jesuit, or
  was the man who brought her into this dangerous dilemma in reality of
  unbending honour?
  
  "Yours for ever?" she said in a low voice. If he said, "yes," it would,
  she knew, be a bridge for the moment to help her over the abyss that
  divided them, but that afterwards she would be plunged into the abyss.
  She was afraid of him.
  
  Mark was painfully agitated, but he answered in a subdued tone, "I do
  not know. I only know what I am doing now, and do not see even into the
  near future. Neither can you. Let us give love for love, and I remain
  here, quieter than the waters of the pool, humbler than grass. I will do
  what you will, and what do you ask more. Or," he added suddenly, coming
  nearer, "we will leave this place altogether...."
  
  In a lightning flash the wide world seemed to smile before her, as if
  the gates of Paradise were open. She threw herself in Mark's arms and
  laid her hand on his shoulder. If she went away into the far distance
  with him, she thought, he could not tear himself from her, and once
  alone with her he must realise that life was only life in her presence.
  
  "Will you decide!" he asked seriously. She said nothing, but bowed her
  head. "Or do you fear your Grandmother?"
  
  The last words brought her to her senses, and she stepped back.
  
  "If I do not decide," she whispered, "it is only because I fear her."
  
  "The old lady would not let you go."
  
  "She would let me go, and would give me her blessing, but she herself
  would die of grief. That is what I fear. To go away together," she said
  dreamily, "and what then?" She looked up at him searchingly.
  
  "And then? How can I know, Vera?"
  
  "You will suddenly be driven from me; you will go and leave me, as if I
  were merely a log?"
  
  "Why a log? We could separate as friends."
  
  "Separation! Do the ideas of love and separation exist side by side in
  your mind? They are extremes which should never meet. Separation must
  only come with death. Farewell, Mark! You can never promise me the
  happiness that I seek. All is at an end. Farewell!"
  
  "Farewell, Vera!" he said in a voice quite unlike his own.
  
  Both were pale, and avoided one another's eyes. In the white moonlight
  that gleamed through the trees Vera sought her mantilla, and grasped the
  gun instead. At last she found the mantilla, but could not put it on her
  shoulders. Mark helped her mechanically, but left his own belongings
  behind. They went silently up the path, with slow and hesitating steps,
  as if each expected something from the other, both of them occupied with
  the same mental effort to find a pretext for delay. They came at last to
  the spot where Mark's way lay across a low fence, and hers by the
  winding path through the bushes up to the park.
  
  Vera stood still. She seemed to see the events of her whole life pass
  before her in quick succession, but saw none filled with bitterness like
  the present. Her eyes filled with tears. She felt a violent impulse to
  look round once more, to see him once more, to measure with her eyes the
  extent of her loss, and then to hurry on again. But however great her
  sorrow for her wrecked happiness she dare not look round, for she knew
  it would be equivalent to saying Yes to destiny. She took a few steps up
  the path.
  
  Mark strode fiercely away towards the hedge, like a wild beast baulked
  of his prey. He had not lied when he said that he esteemed Vera, but it
  was an esteem wrung from him against his will, the esteem of the soldier
  for a brave enemy. He cursed the old-fashioned ideas which had enchained
  her free and vivacious spirit. His suffering was the suffering of
  despair; he was in the mood of a madman who would shatter a treasure of
  which the possession was denied him, in order that no one else might
  possess it. He was ready to spring, and could hardly restrain himself
  from laying violent hands on Vera. By his own confession to her he would
  have treated any other woman so, but not Vera. Then the conviction
  gnawed at his heart that for the sake of the woman who was now escaping
  him he was neglecting his "mission." His pride suffered unspeakably by
  the confession of his own powerlessness. He admitted that the beautiful
  statue filled with the breath of life had character; she acted in
  accordance with her own proud will, not by the influence of outside
  suggestion. His new conception of truth did not subdue her strong,
  healthy temperament; it rather induced her to submit it to a minute
  analysis and to stick closer to her own conception of the truth. And now
  she was going, and as the traces of her footsteps would vanish, so all
  that had passed between them would be lost. And with her went all the
  charm and glory of life, never to return.
  
  He stamped his feet with rage and swung himself on to the fence. He
  would cast one glance in her direction to see if the haughty creature
  was really going.
  
  "One more glance," thought Vera. She turned, and shuddered to see Mark
  sitting on the fence and gazing at her.
  
  "Farewell, Mark," she cried, in a voice trembling with despair.
  
  From his throat there issued a low, wild cry of triumph. In a moment he
  was by her side, with victory and the conviction of her surrender in his
  heart.
  
  "Vera!"
  
  "You have come back, for always? You have at last understood. What
  happiness! God forgive...."
  
  She did not complete her sentence, for she lay wrapt in his embrace, her
  sobs quenched by his kisses. He raised her in his arms, and like a wild
  animal carrying off his prey, ran with her back to the arbour.
  
  God forgive her for having turned back.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXIV
  
  
  Raisky lay on the grass at the top of the cliff for a long time in
  gloomy meditation, groaning over the penalty he must pay for his
  generosity, suffering alike for himself and Vera. "Perhaps she is
  laughing at my folly, down there with him. Who is there?" he cried aloud,
  stung with rage. "I will have his name." He saw himself merely as a
  shield to cover her passion. He sprang up wildly, and hurried down the
  precipice, tearing his clothes in the bushes and listening in vain for a
  suspicious rustling. He told himself that it was an evil thing to pry
  into another's secret; it was robbery. He stood still a moment to wipe
  the sweat from his brow, but his sufferings overcame his scruples. He
  felt his way stealthily forward, cursing every broken branch that
  cracked under his feet, and unconscious of the blows he received on his
  face from the rebounding branches as he forced his way through. He threw
  himself on the ground to regain his breath, then in order not to betray
  his presence crept along, digging his nails into the ground as he went.
  When he reached the suicide's grave he halted, uncertain which way to
  follow, and at length made for the arbour, listening and searching the
  ground as he went.
  
  Meanwhile everything was going on as usual in Tatiana Markovna's
  household. After supper the company sat yawning in the hall, Tiet
  Nikonich alone being indefatigable in his attentions, shuffling his foot
  when he made a polite remark, and looking at each lady as if he were
  ready to sacrifice everything for her sake.
  
  "Where is Monsieur Boris?" inquired Paulina Karpovna, addressing Tatiana
  Markovna.
  
  "Probably he is paying a visit in the town. He never says where he
  spends his time, so that I never know where to send the carriage for
  him."
  
  Inquiries made of Yakob revealed the fact that he had been in the garden
  up to a late hour. Vera was not in the house when she was summoned to
  tea. She had left word that they were not to keep supper for her, and
  that she would send across for some if she were hungry. No one but
  Raisky had seen her go.
  
  Tatiana Markovna sighed over their perversity, to be wandering about at
  such hours, in such cold weather.
  
  "I will go into the garden," said Paulina Karpovna. "Perhaps Monsieur
  Boris is not far away. He will be delighted to see me. I noticed," she
  continued confidentially, "that he had something to say to me. He could
  not have known I was here."
  
  Marfinka whispered to Vikentev that he did know, and had gone out on
  that account.
  
  "I will go, Marfa Vassilievna, and hide behind a bush, imitate Boris
  Pavlovich's voice and make her a declaration," suggested Vikentev.
  
  "Stay here, Nikolai Andreevich. Paulina Karpovna might be frightened and
  faint. Then you would have to reckon with Grandmother."
  
  "I am going into the garden for a moment to fetch the fugitive," said
  Paulina Karpovna.
  
  "God be with you, Paulina Karpovna," said Tatiana Markovna. "Don't put
  your nose outside in the darkness, or at any rate take Egorka with you
  to carry a lantern."
  
  "No, I will go alone. It is not necessary for anyone to disturb us."
  
  "You ought not," intervened Tiet Nikonich politely, "to go out after
  eight o'clock on these damp nights. I would not have ventured to detain
  you, but a physician from DЭsseldorf on the Rhine, whose book I am now
  reading and can lend you if you like, and who gives excellent advice,
  says...."
  
  Paulina Karpovna interrupted him by asking him if he would see her home,
  and then went into the garden before he could resume his remarks. He
  agreed to her request and shut the door after her.
  
  Soon after Paulina Karpovna's exit there was a rustling and crackling on
  the precipice, and Raisky wearing the aspect of a restless, wounded
  animal, appeared out of the darkness. He sat for several minutes
  motionless on Vera's favourite bench, covering his eyes with his hands.
  Was it dream or reality, he asked himself. He must have been mistaken.
  Such a thing could not be. He stood up, then sat down again to listen.
  With his hands lying listlessly on his knees, he broke into laughter
  over his doubts, his questionings, his secret. Again he had an access of
  terrible laughter. Vera--and _he_. The cloak which he himself had
  sent to the "exile" lay near the arbour. The rogue had been clever
  enough to get two hundred and twenty roubles for the settlement of his
  wager, and the earlier eighty in addition. Sekleteia Burdalakov!
  
  Again he laughed with a laugh very near a groan. Suddenly he stopped,
  and put his hand to his side, seized with a sudden consciousness of pain.
  Vera was free, but he told himself she had dared to mock another fellow
  human being who had been rash enough to love her; she had mocked her
  friend. His soul cried for revenge.
  
  He sprang up intent on revenge, but was checked by the question of how
  to avenge himself. To bring Tatiana Markovna, with lanterns, and a crowd
  of servants and to expose the scandal in a glare of light; to say to her,
  "Here is the serpent you have carried for two and twenty years in your
  bosom"--that would be a vulgar revenge of which he knew himself to be
  incapable. Such a revenge would hit, not Vera, but his aunt, who was to
  him like his mother. His head drooped for a moment; then he rose and
  hurried like a madman down the precipice once more.
  
  There in the depths passion was holding her festival, night drew her
  curtain over the song of love, love ... with Mark. If she had
  surrendered to another lover, to the tall, handsome Tushin, the owner of
  land, lake, and forest, and the Olympian tamer of horses....
  
  He could hardly breathe. Against his will there rose before him, from
  the depths of the precipice, the vision of Vera's figure, glorified with
  a seductive beauty that he had never yet seen in her, and though he was
  devoured by agony he could not take his eyes from the vision. At her
  feet, like a lion at rest, lay Mark, with triumph on his face. Her foot
  rested on his head. Horror seized him, and drove him onward, to destroy
  and mar the vision. He seemed to hear in the air the flattering words,
  the songs and the sighs of passion; the vision became fainter,
  mist-enshrouded, and finally vanished into air, but the rage for
  revenge remained.
  
  Everywhere was stillness and darkness, as he climbed the hill once more,
  but when he reached Vera's bench he saw a human shadow.
  
  "Who is there?" he cried.
  
  "Monsieur Boris, it is I, Paulina."
  
  "You, what are you doing here?"
  
  "I came, because I knew, I knew that you have long had something to say
  to me, but have hesitated. Du courage. There is no one to see or hear us.
  _EspИrez tout...._"
  
  "What do you want? Speak out."
  
  _"Que vous m'aimez._ I have known it for a long time. _Vous
  m'avez fui, mais la passion vous a ramenИ ici...._"
  
  He seized her roughly by the hand, and pushed her to the edge of the
  precipice.
  
  "Ah, _de grАce. Mais pas si brusquement ... qu'est-ce que vous
  faites ... mais laissez donc,_" she groaned.
  
  Her anxiety was not altogether groundless, for she stood on the edge of
  an abrupt fall of the ground, and he grasped her hand more determinedly.
  
  "You want love," he cried to the terrified woman. "Listen, to-night is
  love's night. Do you hear the sighs, the kisses, the breath of passion?"
  
  "Let me go! Let me go! I shall fall."
  
  "Away from here," he cried, loosening his grasp and drawing a deep
  breath.
  
  Like a madman he ran across the garden and the flower garden into the
  yard, where Egorka was washing his hands and face at the spring.
  
  "Bring my trunk," he cried. "I am going to St. Petersburg in the
  morning." He ran water over his hands and washed his face and eyes
  before he turned to go to his room.
  
  He could not stay within the four walls of his chamber. He went out
  again and again, unprotected against the cold, to look at Vera's window.
  It was hardly possible to see ten paces ahead in the darkness. He went
  to the acacia arbour to watch for Vera's return, and was furious because
  he could not conceal himself there, now that the leaves had fallen. He
  sat there in torture until morning dawned, not from passion, which had
  been drowned in that night's experiences. What passion would stand such
  a shock as this? But he had an unconquerable desire to look Vera in the
  face, this new Vera, and with one glance of scorn to show her the shame,
  the affront she had put on him, on their aunt, on the whole household,
  on their society, on womanhood itself. He awaited her return in a fever
  of impatience. Suddenly he sprang up with an evil look of triumph on his
  face.
  
  "Fate has given me the idea," he thought. He found the gates still
  locked, but there was a lamp before the ikon in Savili's room, and he
  ordered him to let him out and to leave the gates unlocked. He took from
  his room the bouquet holder and hastened to the orangery to the gardener.
  He had to wait a long time before it opened. The light grew stronger.
  When he looked over at the trees in the orangery, an evil smile again
  crossed his face. The gardener was arranging Marfinka's bouquet.
  
  "I want another bouquet," said Raisky unsteadily.
  
  "One like this?"
  
  "No, only orange blossoms," he whispered, turning paler as he spoke.
  
  "Right, Sir," said the gardener, recalling that one of Tatiana
  Markovna's young ladies was betrothed.
  
  "I am thirsty," said Raisky. "Give me a glass of water."
  
  He drank the water greedily, and hurried the gardener on. When the
  second bouquet was ready he paid lavishly.
  
  He returned to the house cautiously, carrying the two bouquets. As he
  did not know whether Vera had returned in his absence, he had Marina
  called, and sent her to see if her mistress was at home or had already
  gone out walking. On hearing she was out he ordered Marfinka's bouquet
  to be put on Vera's table and the window to be opened. Then he dismissed
  Marina, and returned to the acacia arbour. Passion and jealousy set
  loose raged unchecked, and when pity raised her head she was quenched by
  the torturing, overmastering feeling of outrage. He suppressed the low
  voice of sympathy, and his better self was silent. He was shuddering,
  conscious that poison flowed in his veins, the poison of lies and
  deception.
  
  "I must either shoot this dog Mark, or myself," he thought.
  
  He held the bouquet of orange-blossoms in his two hands, like a sacred
  thing, and drank in its beauty with a wild delight. Then he fixed his
  eyes on the dark avenue, but she did not come.
  
  Broad daylight came, a fine rain began to fall and made the paths sodden.
  At last Vera appeared in the distance. His heart beat faster, and his
  knees trembled so that he had to steady himself by the bench to keep
  from falling.
  
  She came slowly nearer, with her bowed head wrapped in a dark mantilla,
  held in place over her breast by her pale hands, and walked into the
  porch without seeing him. Raisky sprang from his place of observation,
  and hid himself under her window.
  
  She entered her room in a dream, without noticing that her clothes which
  she had flung on the floor when she went out had been put back again,
  and without observing the bouquet on the table or the opened window.
  Mechanically she threw aside her mantilla, and changed her muddy shoes
  for satin slippers; then she sank down on the divan, and closed her eyes.
  After a brief minute she was awakened from her dream by the thud of
  something falling on the floor. She opened her eyes and saw on the floor
  a great sheaf of orange blossoms, which had plainly been thrown through
  the window.
  
  Pale as death, and without picking up the flowers, she hurried to the
  window. She saw Raisky, as he went away, and stood transfixed. He looked
  round, and their eyes met.
  
  She was seized by pain so sharp that she could hardly breathe, and
  stepped back. Then she saw the bouquet intended for Marfinka on the
  table. She picked it up, half unconsciously, to press it to her face,
  but it slipped from her hands, and she herself fell unconscious on the
  floor.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXV
  
  
  At ten o'clock the big bell in the village church began to sound for
  Mass. Tatiana Markovna's household was full of stir and bustle. The
  horses were being harnessed to the calХche and to an old fashioned
  carriage. The coachmen, already drunk, donned their new dark blue
  caftans, and their hair shone with grease. The women servants made a gay
  picture in their many coloured cotton dresses, head and neck kerchiefs,
  and the maids employed in the house diffused a scent of cloves within a
  ten yards radius. The cooks had donned their white caps in the early
  morning, and had been incessantly busy in the preparation of the
  breakfast, dinner and supper to be served to the family and their guests,
  the kitchen, and the servants the visitors brought with them.
  
  Tatiana Markovna had begun to make her toilet at eight o'clock, as soon
  as she had given her orders; she descended to the hall to greet her
  guests with the reserved dignity of a great lady, and the gentle smile
  of a happy mother and a hospitable hostess. She had set a small simple
  cap on her grey hair; the light brown silk dress that Raisky had brought
  from St. Petersburg suited her well, and round her neck she wore
  beautiful old lace; the Turkish shawl lay on the arm-chair in her room.
  
  Now she was preparing to drive to Mass, and walked slowly up and down
  the hall with crossed hands, awaiting the assembly of the household. She
  hardly noticed the bustle around her, as the servants went hither and
  thither, sweeping the carpets, cleaning the lamps, dusting the mirrors,
  and taking the covers from the furniture. She went first to one window
  and then to the other, looking out meditatively on the road, the garden
  and the courtyards.
  
  Vikentev's mother was dressed in pearl grey with dark lace trimmings.
  Vikentev himself had been in his dress coat and white gloves from eight
  o'clock onwards.
  
  Tatiana Markovna's pride and joy knew no bounds when Marfinka appeared,
  radiating gaiety from her bright eyes. While she slept the walls of her
  two rooms had been decorated with flowers and garlands. She was going to
  put on her simple blouse when she woke, but instead there lay on the
  chair by her bed a morning gown of lace and muslin with pink ribbons.
  She had not had time to give vent to her admiration when she saw on two
  other chairs two lovely dresses, one pink and one blue, for her to make
  her choice for the gala day.
  
  She jumped up, and threw on her new morning gown without waiting to put
  on her stockings, and when she approached her mirror she found a new
  surprise in the gifts that lay on her toilet table. She did not know
  which to look at, or which to take up.
  
  First she opened a lovely rosewood casket which contained a complete
  dressing set, flasks, combs, brushes and endless trifles in glass and
  silver, with a card bearing the name of her future Mama. Beside it lay
  cases of different sizes. She threw a quick glance in the mirror,
  smoothed back her abundant hair from her eyes, seized all the cases in a
  heap, and sat down on the bed to look at them. She hesitated to open
  them, and finally began with the smallest, which contained an emerald
  ring, which she hastily put on her finger. A larger case held earrings
  which she inserted in her ears and admired in the glass from the bed.
  There were massive gold bracelets, set with rubies and diamonds, which
  she also put on. Last of all she opened the largest case, and looked
  astonished and dazzled at its splendid contents: a chain of strung
  diamonds, twenty-one to match her years. The accompanying card said:
  "With this gift I confide to you another, a costly one, my best of
  friends--myself. Take care of him. Your lover, Vikentev."
  
  She laughed, looked round, kissed the card, blushed, sprang from the bed
  and laid the case in her cupboard, in the box where she kept her bonbons.
  There was still another case on the table, containing Raisky's gift of a
  watch, whose enamel cover bore her monogram, and its chain.
  
  She looked at it with wide eyes, threw another glance at the other gifts
  and the garlanded walls, then threw herself on a chair and wept hot
  tears of joy. "Oh, God!" she sobbed happily. "Why does everyone love me
  so. I do no good to anyone, and never shall."
  
  And so, undressed, without shoes and stockings, but adorned with rings,
  bracelets, diamond earrings, she tearfully sought her aunt, who caressed
  and kissed her darling when she heard the cause of her tears.
  
  "God loves you, Marfinka, because you love others, because all who see
  you are infected by your happiness."
  
  Marfinka dried her tears.
  
  "Nikolai Andreevich loves me, but he is my fiancИ; so does his Mama, but
  so does my cousin, Boris Pavlovich, and what am I to him?"
  
  "The same as you are to everyone. No one can look at you and not be
  happy; you are modest, pure and good, obedient to your Grandmother.
  Spendthrift," she murmured in an aside, to hide her pleasure. "Such a
  costly gift! You shall hear of this, Borushka!"
  
  "Grandmother! As if Boris Pavlovich could have guessed it. I have wanted
  a little enamelled watch like this for a long time."
  
  "You haven't asked your Grandmother why she gives you nothing?"
  
  Marfinka shut her mouth with a kiss.
  
  "Grandmother," she said, "love me always, if you want to make me happy."
  
  "With my love I will give you my enduring gift," she said, making the
  sign of the cross over Marfinka. "So that you shall not forget my
  blessing," she went on, feeling in her pocket--"You have given me two
  dresses, Grandmother, but who decorated my room so magnificently?"
  
  "Your fiancИ and Paulina Karpovna sent the things yesterday, and kept
  them out of your sight. Vassilissa and Pashutka hung the garlands up at
  daybreak. The dresses are part of your trousseau, and there are more to
  follow." Then taking from its case a gold cross with four large diamonds
  she hung it round the girl's neck, and gave her a plain, simple bracelet
  with the inscription: "From Grandmother to her Grandchild," and with the
  name and the date.
  
  Marfinka kissed her aunt's hand, and nearly wept once more.
  
  "All that Grandmother has, and she has many things, will be divided
  between you and Veroshka. Now make haste."
  
  "How lovely you are to-day, Grandmother. Cousin is right. Tiet Nikonich
  will fall in love with you."
  
  "Nonsense, chatterbox. Go to Veroshka, and tell her not to be late for
  Mass. I would have gone myself, but am afraid of the steps."
  
  "Directly, Grandmother," cried Marfinka, and hastened to change her
  dress.
  
  Vera lay unconscious for half an hour before she came to herself. The
  cold wind that streamed through the open window fell on her face, and
  she sat up to look around her. Then she rose, shut the window, walked
  unsteadily to the bed, sank down on it, and drawing the cover over
  herself, lay motionless.
  
  Overpowered with weakness she fell into a deep sleep, with her hair
  loose over the pillow. She slept heavily for about three hours until she
  was awakened by the noise in the courtyard, the many voices, the
  creaking of wheels and the sound of bells. She opened her eyes, looked
  round, and listened.
  
  There was a light knock at the door, but Vera did not stir. There was a
  louder knock, but she remained motionless. At the third she got up,
  glanced in the glass, and was terrified by the sight of her own face.
  She pushed her hair into order, threw a shawl over her shoulders, picked
  up Marfinka's bouquet from the floor, and laid it on the table. There
  was another knock and she opened the door. Marfinka, gay and lovely,
  gleaming like a rainbow in her pretty clothes, flew into the room. When
  she saw her sister she stood still in amazement.
  
  "What is the matter with you, Veroshka? Aren't you well?"
  
  "Not quite. I offer you my congratulations."
  
  The sisters kissed one another.
  
  "How lovely you are, and how beautifully dressed!" said Vera, making a
  faint attempt to smile. Her lips framed one, but her eyes were like the
  eyes of a corpse that no one has remembered to close. But she felt she
  must control herself, and hastened to present Marfinka with the bouquet.
  
  "What a lovely bouquet! And what is this?" asked Marfinka as she felt a
  hard substance, and discovered the holder set with her name and the
  pearls. "You, too, Veroshka! How is it you all love me so? I love you
  all, how I love you! But how and when you found out that I did, I cannot
  think."
  
  Vera was not capable of answering, but she caressed Marfinka's shoulder
  affectionately.
  
  "I must sit down," she said. "I have slept badly through the night."
  
  "Grandmother calls you to Mass."
  
  "I cannot, darling. Tell her I am unwell, and cannot leave the house
  to-day."
  
  "What! you are not coming?"
  
  "I shall stay in bed. Perhaps I caught cold yesterday. Tell
  Grandmother."
  
  "We will come to you."
  
  "You would only disturb me."
  
  "Then we shall send everything over. Ah, Veroshka, people have sent me
  so many presents, and flowers and bonbons. I must show them to you," and
  she ran over a list of them.
  
  "Yes, show me everything; perhaps I will come later," said Vera absently.
  
  "Another bouquet?" asked Marfinka, pointing to the one that lay on the
  floor. "For whom? How lovely!"
  
  "For you too," said Vera, turning paler. She picked a ribbon hastily
  from a drawer and fastened the bouquet with it. Then she kissed her
  sister, and sank down on the divan.
  
  "You are really ill. How pale you are! Shall I tell Grandmother, and let
  her send for the doctor? How sad that it should be on my birthday. The
  day is spoiled for me!"
  
  "It will pass. Don't say a word to Grandmother. Don't frighten her.
  Leave me now, for I must rest."
  
  At last Marfinka went. Vera shut the door after her, and lay down on the
  divan.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXVI
  
  
  When Raisky returned to his room at daybreak and looked in the mirror,
  he hardly recognised himself. He felt chilly, and sent Marina for a
  glass of wine which he drank before he threw himself on his bed.
  Overcome by moral and physical exhaustion he slept as if he had thrown
  himself into the arms of a friend and had confided his trouble to him.
  Sleep did him the service of a friend, for it carried him far from Vera,
  from Malinovka, from the precipice, from the fantastic vision of last
  night. When the ringing of many bells awoke him he lay for several
  minutes under the soothing influence of the physical rest, which built a
  rampart between him and yesterday. There was no agony in his awakening
  moments. But soon memory revived, and his face wore an expression more
  terrible than in the worst moments of yesterday. A pain different from
  yesterday's, a new devil had hurled itself upon him. He seized one piece
  of clothing after another and dressed as hastily and nervously as Vera
  had done as she prepared to go to the precipice.
  
  He rang for Egorka, from whom he learnt that everybody except Vera, who
  was not well, had driven to Mass. In wild agitation he dashed across to
  the old house. There was no response when he knocked at Vera's door. He
  opened it cautiously, and stole in like a man with murderous intent,
  with horror imprinted on his features, and advanced on tiptoe, trembling,
  deadly pale, with swaying steps as if he might fall at any minute.
  
  Vera lay on the divan, with her face turned away, her hair falling down
  almost to the floor, and her slipper-clad feet hardly covered by her
  grey skirt. She tried to turn round when she heard the noise of the
  opening door, but could not.
  
  He approached, knelt at her feet, and pressed his lips to the slipper
  she wore. Suddenly she turned, and stared at him in astonishment. "Is it
  comedy or romance, Boris Pavlovich," she asked brusquely, turned in
  annoyance, and hid her foot under the skirt which she straightened
  quickly.
  
  "No, Vera, tragedy," he whispered in a lifeless voice, and sat down on
  the chair near the divan.
  
  The tone of his voice moved her to turn and look keenly at him, and her
  eyes opened wide with astonishment. She threw aside her shawl, and rose,
  she had divined in Raisky's face the presence of the same deadly
  suffering that she herself endured.
  
  "What is your trouble? Are _you_ unhappy?" she said, laying her
  hand on his shoulder. In the simple word and in the tone of her voice
  there were revealed the generous qualities of a woman, sympathy,
  selflessness, and love.
  
  Keenly touched by the kindness and tenderness in her voice he looked at
  her with the same rapturous gratitude which she had worn on her face
  yesterday when in self-forgetfulness he had helped her down the
  precipice. She returned generosity with generosity, just as yesterday
  there had streamed from him a gleam of one of the highest qualities of
  the human mind. He was all the more in despair over what he had done,
  and wept hot tears. He hid his face in his hands like a man for whom all
  is lost.
  
  "What have I done? I have insulted you, woman and sister."
  
  "Do not make us both suffer," she said in a gentle, friendly tone.
  "Spare me; you see how I am."
  
  He tried not to meet her eyes, and she again lay down on the divan.
  
  "What a blow I dealt you," he whispered in horror. "You see my
  punishment, Vera!"
  
  "Your blow gave me a minute's pain, and then I understood that it was
  not delivered with an indifferent hand, that you loved me. And it became
  clear to me how you must have suffered ... yesterday."
  
  "Don't justify my crime, Vera. A knife is a knife, and I aimed a knife
  at you."
  
  "You brought me to myself. I was as if I slept, and you, Grandmother,
  Marfinka and the whole house I saw as if in a dream."
  
  "What am I to do, Vera? Fly from here? In what a state of mind I should
  leave! Let me endure my penance here, and be reconciled, as far as is
  possible, with myself, with all that has happened here."
  
  "Your imagination paints what was only a fault as a crime. Remember your
  condition when you did it, your agitation!" She gave him her hand, and
  continued, "I know now what one is capable of doing in the fever of
  emotion."
  
  She set herself to calm him in spite of her own weariness.
  
  "You are good, Vera, and, womanlike, judge not with your brain, but with
  your heart."
  
  "You are too severe with yourself. Another would have thought himself
  justified after all the jesting.... You remember those letters. With
  whatever good intention of calming your agitation, of answering your
  jest with jests, it was malicious mockery. You suffered more from those
  letters than I did yesterday."
  
  "Oh, dear, no! I have often laughed over them, especially when you asked
  for a cloak, a rug, and money for the exile."
  
  "What money? what cloak? what exile?" she exclaimed in astonishment. "I
  don't understand."
  
  "I myself had suspicions," he said, his face clearing a little. "I could
  not believe that that was your idea." And in a few words he told her the
  contents of the two letters.
  
  Her lips turned white.
  
  "Natasha and I wrote to you turn and turn about in the same handwriting,
  amusing little letters in which we tried to imitate yours; that is all.
  I didn't know anything about the other letters," she whispered, turning
  her face to the wall.
  
  Raisky strode up and down in thought, while Vera appeared to be resting,
  exhausted by the conversation.
  
  "Cousin," she said suddenly, "I ask your help in a very important matter,
  and I know you will not refuse me." A glance at his face told her that
  there was nothing she could not ask of him. "While I still have strength,
  I want to tell you the whole history of this year."
  
  "Why should you do that? I will not and I ought not to know."
  
  "Do not disturb me, Boris. I can hardly breathe and time is precious. I
  will tell you the whole story, and you must repeat it to our Grandmother.
  I could not do it," she said. "My tongue would not say the words--I
  would rather die."
  
  He looked at her with an expression of blank terror. "But why should
  Grandmother be told? Think of the consequences. Would it not be better
  to keep her in ignorance?"
  
  "No, the burden must be borne. It is possible that Grandmother and I
  will both die of it, or we shall lose our senses, but I will not deceive
  her. She ought to have known it long ago, but I hoped to be able to tell
  her another story, and therefore was silent."
  
  "To tell her everything, even of yesterday evening," he asked in a low
  tone. "And the name also?"
  
  She nodded almost imperceptibly in assent. Then she made him sit down on
  the divan beside her, and in low, broken sentences told the story of her
  relations with Mark. When she had finished she wrapped herself,
  shivering with cold, in her shawl. He rose from his seat. Both were
  silent, each of them in terror, she as she thought of her grandmother,
  he as he thought of them both. Before him lay the prospect of having to
  deal Tatiana Markovna one thrust after another, and that not in the heat
  of passion, or in an access of blind revenge, but in the consciousness
  of a most painful duty. It might be as she said an important service,
  but it was certainly a terrible commission.
  
  "When shall I tell her?" he asked.
  
  "As soon as possible, for I shall suffer so long as I know she is in
  ignorance, and now, give me the eau-de-Cologne from the dressing-table,
  and leave me alone."
  
  "It would not do to tell Grandmother to-day when the house is full of
  guests, but to-morrow...." said Raisky.
  
  "How shall I survive it? But till to-morrow, calm her by some means or
  other, so that she has no suspicion and sends no one here."
  
  She closed her eyes in a longing for impenetrable night, for rest
  without an awakening; she would like to have been turned into a thing of
  stone so that she could neither think nor feel.
  
  When he left her he was weighed down with a greater weight of fear than
  that which he had brought to the interview. Vera rose as soon as he left
  her, closed the door, and lay down again. She had found consolation and
  help in Raisky's friendship, his sympathy and devotion, as a drowning
  man rises to the surface for a moment, but as soon as he was gone she
  fell back deeper into the depths. She told herself in despair that life
  was over. Before her there stretched the bare steppe; there was no
  longer for her a family, nor anything on which a woman's life depends.
  She would have to stand before her aunt, to look her in the eyes, and to
  tell her how she had recompensed her love and care. Suddenly she heard
  steps and her aunt's voice. Pale and motionless, as if she had lost the
  use of hands and feet, she listened to the light tap at the door. I will
  not get up, I cannot, she thought. But when the knock was repeated, she
  sprang up with a strength which astonished herself, dried her eyes and
  went smiling to meet her aunt.
  
  When Tatiana Markovna had heard from Marfinka that Vera was ill, and
  would remain in her room all day, she had come herself to inquire; she
  glanced at Vera and sat down on the divan.
  
  "The service has tired me so that I could hardly walk up the steps.
  What's the matter with you, Vera?" she continued, looking keenly at her.
  
  "I congratulate Marfinka on her birthday," said Vera, in the voice of a
  little girl who has learnt her speech by heart. She kissed her
  grandmother's hand and wondered how she had managed to bring the words
  over her lips. "I got wet feet yesterday, and have a headache." She
  tried to smile, but there was no smile on her lips.
  
  "You must rub your feet with spirit," remarked Tatiana Markovna, who had
  noticed the strained voice and the unnatural smile, and guessed a lack
  of frankness. "Are you coming to be with us, Vera? Don't force yourself
  to do so, and so make yourself worse," she continued, seeing that Vera
  was incapable of answering.
  
  Vera was all the more frightened by her aunt's consideration for her.
  Her conscience stirred, and she felt that Tatiana Markovna must already
  know all, and that her confession would come too late. She was on the
  point of falling on her breast, and making her confession there and then,
  but her strength failed her.
  
  "Excuse me, Grandmother, from dinner; perhaps I will come over in the
  afternoon."
  
  "As you like. I will send your dinner across."
  
  "Thank you, I am already quite hungry," said Vera quickly, without
  knowing what she said.
  
  Tatiana Markovna kissed her, and stroked her hair, remarking casually
  that one of the maids should come and do her room, as she might have a
  visitor.
  
  Tatiana Markovna returned sadly to the house. She was, indeed, politely
  attentive to her guests as she always was, but Raisky noticed
  immediately that something was wrong with her after her visit to Vera.
  She found it hard to restrain her emotion, hardly touched the food, did
  not even look round when Petrushka smashed a pile of plates, and more
  than once broke off in the middle of a sentence. In the afternoon as the
  guests took coffee on the broad terrace in the mild September sunshine,
  Tatiana Markovna moved among her guests as if she were hardly aware of
  them. Raisky wore a gloomy air and had eyes for no one but his aunt.
  "Something is wrong with Vera," she whispered to him. "She is in trouble.
  Have you seen her?"
  
  "No," he said. But his aunt looked at him as if she doubted what he said.
  
  Paulina Karpovna had not come. She had sent word that she was ill, and
  the messenger brought flowers and plants for Marfinka. In order to
  explain the scene of the day before, and to find out whether she had
  guessed anything, Raisky had paid a visit in the morning to Paulina
  Karpovna. She received him with a pretence of being offended, but with
  hardly disguised satisfaction. His excuse was that he had dined with
  friends that night and had had a glass too much. He begged for
  forgiveness which was accorded with a smile, all which did not prevent
  Paulina Karpovna from recounting to all her acquaintance her love scene.
  
  Tushin came to dinner, and brought Marfinka a lovely pony to ride. He
  asked for Vera, and was plainly disturbed when he heard of the
  indisposition which prevented her from coming to dinner. Tatiana
  Markovna observed him, wondering why Vera's absence had such a
  remarkable effect on him, though this had often been the case before
  without exciting any surprise on her part. She could not keep out of her
  head anxiety as to what change had come over Vera since yesterday
  evening. She had had a little quarrel with Tiet Nikonich, and had
  scolded him for having brought Marfinka the SХvres mirror. Afterwards
  she was closeted with him for a quarter of an hour in her sitting-room,
  and he emerged from the interview looking serious. He shifted his foot
  less, and even when he was talking to ladies his serous inquiring glance
  would wander to Raisky or Tushin.
  
  Up till this time Tatiana Markovna had been so gay. Her one anxiety, and
  at the moment the only one perhaps, had been the celebration of Vera's
  nameday a fortnight ahead, she would have liked to have celebrated it
  with the same magnificence as Marfinka's birthday, although Vera had
  roundly declared that on that day she meant to go on a visit to Anna
  Ivanovna Tushin, or to her friend Natasha. But how Tatiana Markovna had
  changed since Mass. As she talked with her guests she was thinking only
  of Vera, and gave absent-minded answers. The excuse of a cold had not
  deceived her, and as she had touched Vera's brow on leaving her, she had
  realised that a cold could be nothing but a pretext. She remembered that
  Vera and Raisky had vanished in the afternoon and that neither had
  appeared at supper. She was constantly watching Raisky, who sought to
  avoid her glance, thereby only arousing her suspicions the more.
  Then Vera herself unexpectedly appeared amongst the guests, wearing a
  warm mantilla over her light dress and a wrap round her throat. Raisky
  was so astonished that he looked at her as if she were an apparition. A
  few hours ago she had been almost too exhausted to speak, and now here
  she was in person. He wondered where women found their strength. Vera
  went round speaking to the guests, looked at Marfinka's presents, and
  ate, to quench her thirst, as she said, a slice of water melon. Tatiana
  Markovna was to some extent relieved to see Vera, but it disturbed her
  to notice that Raisky's face had changed. For the first time in her life
  she cursed her guests; they were just sitting down to cards, then there
  would be tea, and then supper, and Vikentev was not going until
  to-morrow morning.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXVII
  
  
  Raisky found himself between two fires. On the one hand, Tatiana
  Markovna looked at him as much as to say that he probably knew what was
  the matter with Vera, while Vera's despairing glance betrayed her
  anxiety for the moment of her confession. He himself would have liked to
  have sunk into the earth. Tushin looked in an extraordinary manner at
  Vera, as both Tatiana Markovna and Raisky, but most of all Vera herself,
  noticed. She was terrified, and asked herself whether he had heard any
  rumour. He esteemed her so highly, thought her the noblest woman in the
  world, and, if she were silent, she would be accepting his esteem on
  false premisses. He, too, would have to be told, she thought. She
  exchanged greetings with him without meeting his eyes; and he looked
  strangely at her, timidly and sympathetically. Vera told herself that
  she must know what was in his mind, that if he looked at her again like
  that she would collapse. He did look at her again, and she could endure
  no more and left the company. Before she went she signed secretly to
  Tushin to follow her.
  
  "I cannot receive you in the old house," she said, "Come into the
  avenue."
  
  "Is it not too damp, as you are not well?"
  
  "That does not matter," she said.
  
  He looked at his watch and said that he would be going in an hour. After
  giving orders to have his horses taken out of the stable and brought
  into the yard, he picked up his silver-handled whip and with his cloak
  on his arm followed Vera into the avenue. "I will not beat about the
  bush," he said. "What is the matter with you to-day? You have something
  on your mind."
  
  She wrapped her face in her mantilla as she spoke, and her shoulders
  shivered as if with cold. She dare not raise her eyes to him as he
  strode silently beside her.
  
  "But you are ill, Vera Vassilievna. I had better talk to you another
  time. You were not wrong in thinking I had something to say to you."
  
  "No, Ivan Ivanovich, let it be to-day. I want to know what you have to
  say to me. I myself wanted to talk to you, but perhaps it is too late
  for what I have to say. Do you speak," she said, wondering painfully how
  and where he could have learnt her secret.
  
  "I came here to-day...." he said as they sat down on the bench.
  
  "What have you to say to me? Speak!" she interrupted.
  
  "How can I say it to you now, Vera Vassilievna?" said Tushin springing
  to his feet.
  
  "Do not make me suffer," she murmured.
  
  "I love you...."
  
  "Yes, I know it," she interrupted. "But what have you heard?"
  
  "I have heard nothing," he said, looking round in amazement. He was now
  for the first time aware of her agitation, and his heart stood still
  with delight. She has guessed my secret and shares my feelings, he
  thought, and what she is asking, is for a frank, brief avowal. "You are
  so noble, so beautiful, Vera Vassilievna, so pure...." An exclamation
  was wrung from her, and she would have risen, but could not.
  
  "You mock me, you mock me," she said, raising her hands beseechingly.
  
  "You are ill, Vera Vassilievna," he said, looking at her in terror.
  "Forgive me for having spoken to you at such a time."
  
  "A day earlier or later makes no difference. Say what you have to say,
  for I also desire to tell you why I have brought you here."
  
  "Is it really true?" he cried, hardly knowing how to contain his delight.
  
  "What is true? You want to say something else, not what I expected," she
  said. "Speak, and do not prolong my sufferings."
  
  "I love you," he repeated. "If you can grant what I have confessed to
  you (and I am not worthy of it), if your love is not given elsewhere,
  then be my forest queen, my wife, and there will be no happier man on
  earth than I. That is what I have long wished to say to you and have not
  dared. I should have done it on your nameday but I could no longer
  endure the suspense, and have come to-day, on the family festival, on
  your sister's birthday."
  
  "Ivan Ivanovich," she moaned. The thought flashed through his head like
  lightning that this was no expression of joy, and he felt his hair was
  beginning to stand on end. He sat down beside her and said, "What is
  wrong with you, Vera Vassilievna? You are either ill, or are bearing a
  great sorrow."
  
  "Yes, Ivan Ivanovich! I feel that I shall die."
  
  "What is your trouble? For God's sake, tell me. You said that you had
  something to confide in me, which means that I must be necessary to you;
  there is nothing I would not do for you. You have only to command me.
  Forgive me my too hasty speech."
  
  "You, too, my poor Ivan Ivanovich! I can find neither prayers nor tears,
  nor is there any guidance or help for me anywhere."
  
  "What words of despair are these, Vera Vassilievna?"
  
  "Do you know _whom_ you love?"
  
  He threw his cloak on the bench, and wiped the sweat from his brow. Her
  words told him that his hopes were ruined, that her love was given
  elsewhere. He drew a deep breath, and sat motionless, awaiting her
  further explanations.
  
  "My poor friend," she said, taking his hand. The simple words filled him
  with new sorrow; he knew that he was in fact to be pitied.
  
  "Thank you," he whispered. "Forgive me ... I did not know, Vera
  Vassilievna ... I am a fool.... Please forget my declaration. But I
  should like to help you, since you say yourself you rely on me for a
  service. I thank you for holding me worthy of that. You stand so high
  above me; I always feel that you stand so high, Vera Vassilievna."
  
  "My poor Ivan Ivanovich, I have fallen from those heights, and no human
  power can reinstate me," she said, as she led him to the edge of the
  precipice.
  
  "Do you know this place?" she asked.
  
  "Yes, a suicide is buried there."
  
  "There, in the depths below the precipice, your 'pure' Vera also lies
  buried," she said with the decision of despair.
  
  "What are you saying? I don't understand. Enlighten me, Vera
  Vassilievna."
  
  Summoning all her strength she bent her head and whispered a few words
  to him, then returned, and sank down on the bench. Tushin turned pale,
  swayed, lost his balance, and sat down beside her. Even in the dim light
  Vera noticed his pallor.
  
  "And I thought," he said, with a strange smile, as if he were ashamed of
  his weakness, rising to his feet with difficulty, "that only a bear was
  strong enough to knock me over." Then he stooped to her and whispered,
  "Who?"
  
  The question sent a shudder through her, but she answered quickly:
  
  "Mark Volokov."
  
  His face twitched ominously. Then he pressed his whip over his knee so
  that it split in pieces, which he hurled away from him.
  
  "So it will end with him too," he shouted. As he stood trembling before
  her, stooping forward, with wild eyes, he was like an animal ready to
  spring on the enemy. "Is he there now?" he cried, pointing with a
  violent gesture in the direction of the precipice.
  
  She looked at him as if he were a dangerous animal, as he stood there,
  breathing heavily; then she rose and took refuge behind the bench.
  
  "I am afraid, Ivan Ivanovich! Spare me! Go!" she exclaimed, warding him
  off with her arms.
  
  "First I will kill him, and then I will go."
  
  "Are you going to do this for my sake, for my peace of mind or for your
  own sake?"
  
  He kept silence, his eyes fixed on the ground, and then began to walk
  about in great strides. "What should I do?" he said, still trembling
  with agitation. "Tell me, Vera Vassilievna."
  
  "First of all, calm yourself, and explain to me why you wish to kill him
  and whether I desire it."
  
  "He is your enemy, consequently also mine."
  
  "Does one kill one's enemies?"
  
  He bent his head and seeing the pieces of the whip lying on the ground
  he picked them up as if he were ashamed, and put them in his pocket.
  
  "I do not accuse him. I alone bear the blame, and he has justification,"
  she said with such bitter misery that Tushin took her hand.
  
  "Vera Vassilievna," he said, "you are suffering horribly. I do not
  understand," he went on, looking at her with sympathy and admiration,
  "what you mean by saying that he has justification, and that you bring
  no accusation against him. If that's the case, why did you wish to speak
  to me and call me here into the avenue?"
  
  "Because I wanted you to know the whole truth."
  
  "Don't leave me in the dark, Vera Vassilievna. You must have had some
  reason for confiding your secret to me."
  
  "You looked at me so strangely to-day that I could not understand your
  meaning, and thought you must already be informed of all that had
  happened and could not rest until I knew what was in your mind. I was
  too hasty, but it comes to the same thing, for sooner or later I should
  have told you. Sit down, and hear what I have to say, and then have done
  with me." She explained the situation to him in a few words.
  
  "So you forgive him," he asked, after a moment's thought.
  
  "Forgive him, of course. I tell you that I alone am guilty."
  
  "Have you separated from him, or do you hope for his return?"
  
  "There is nothing whatever in common between us, and we shall never see
  one another again."
  
  "Now, I understand a little, for the first time, but still not
  everything," said Tushin, sighing bitterly. "I thought you had been
  vulgarly betrayed, and, since you called me to your help, I imagined
  that the time had come for the Bear to do his duty. I was on the point
  of rendering you the service of a Bear, and it was for that reason that
  I permitted myself to ask boldly for the man's name. Forgive me, and now
  tell me why you have revealed the story to me."
  
  "Because I was not willing that you should think better of me than I
  deserve, and esteem me...."
  
  "But how would you accomplish that? I shall not cease to think of you as
  I have always thought of you, and I cannot do otherwise than respect
  you."
  
  A gleam of pleasure lighted her eyes, only to be immediately
  extinguished. "You want to restore my self-esteem," she said, "because
  you are good and generous. You are sorry for a poor unfortunate girl and
  want to raise her up again. I understand your generosity, Ivan Ivanovich,
  but I will have none of it."
  
  "Vera Vassilievna," he said, kissing her hand. "I could not esteem
  anybody under compulsion. If I give anyone a greeting in the street, he
  has my esteem; if he has not my esteem, I pass him by. I greet you as
  before, and because you are unhappy my love for you is greater than
  before. You are enduring a great sorrow, as I am. You have lost your
  hopes of happiness," he added in a low, melancholy tone. "If you had
  kept your secret from me and I had heard it by chance, even so my esteem
  for you could not have been diminished. For there is no duty laid on you
  to reveal a secret which belongs to you alone. No one has the right to
  judge you." The last words were spoken in a trembling voice which made
  it clear that he also was oppressed by the secret, the weight of which
  he desired to lighten for Vera.
  
  "I had to tell you to-day when you made your declaration to me. I felt
  it was impossible to leave you in ignorance."
  
  "You might very well have answered me with a categorical 'No.' But since
  you do me the honour, Vera Vassilievna, of bestowing your particular
  friendship on me, you might have gilded your 'No' by saying that you
  loved another. That would have been sufficient for me, for I should
  never have asked you who, and your secret would, without doubt, have
  remained your own." He pointed to the precipice, and collecting his
  whole strength whispered, "A misfortune...." Although he tried with all
  his might not to let her see how disturbed he was, he was hardly able to
  speak clearly. "A misfortune," he repeated. "You say that he has
  justification, that the guilt is yours; if that is so, where does
  justice lie?"
  
  "I told you, Ivan Ivanovich, that my confession was not necessary for
  your sake, but for mine. You know how I esteem your friendship, and it
  would have caused me unspeakable pain to deceive you. Even now, when I
  have hidden nothing from you, I cannot look you in the eyes." Tears
  stifled her voice, and it was with difficulty that Tushin held back his
  own tears; he stooped and kissed her hand once more.
  
  "Thanks, a thousand thanks, Vera Vassilievna. I see that an affection
  for another has no power to lessen your friendship for me, and that is a
  wonderful consolation."
  
  "Ivan Ivanovich, if I could only cut this year out of my life."
  
  "A speedy forgetfulness," he said, "comes to the same thing."
  
  "How can I forget, and where can I find the strength to endure its
  memory?"
  
  "You will find strength in friendship, and I am one of your friends."
  
  She breathed another air for the moment, conscious that there was beside
  her a tower of strength, under whose shadow her passion and her pain
  were alleviated. "I believe in your friendship, Ivan Ivanovich, and
  thank you for it," she said, drying her tears. "I already feel calmer,
  and should feel still calmer if Grandmother...."
  
  "She does not yet know anything of this?" he asked, but broke off
  immediately in the consciousness that his question involved a reproach.
  
  "She has guests to-day and could not possibly be told, but to-morrow she
  shall learn all. Farewell, Ivan Ivanovich, my head aches, and I am going
  back to the house to lie down." Tushin looked at Vera, asking himself
  how any man could be such a blind fool as Volokov. Or is he merely a
  beast, he thought to himself in impotent rage. He pulled himself
  together, however, and asked her if she had any instructions for him.
  
  "Please ask Natasha," she said, "to come over to me to-morrow or the
  next day."
  
  "And may I come one day next week to inquire whether you are better?"
  
  "Do not be anxious, Ivan Ivanovich. And now good-bye, for I can hardly
  stand."
  
  When he left her, he drove his horses so wildly down the steep hill that
  he himself was in danger of being hurled to the bottom of the precipice.
  When he put his hand out as usual for his whip, it was not there, and he
  remembered that he had broken it, and threw away the useless pieces on
  the road. In spite of his mad haste he reached the Volga too late for
  the ferry. He had to stay in the town with a friend, and drove next
  morning to his home in the forest.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXVIII
  
  
  In Tatiana Markovna's house, servants, cooks and coachmen were all
  astir, and at a very early hour in the morning were already drunk. The
  mistress of the house herself was unusually silent and sad when she let
  Marfinka go with her future mother-in-law. She had no instructions or
  advice to give, and hardly listened to Marfinka's questions about what
  she ought to take with her. "What you like," she said absently, and gave
  orders to Vassilissa and the maid who was going with Marfinka to
  Kolchino to put everything in order and pack up what was necessary. She
  handed over her dear child to Marfa Egorovna's charge, at the same time
  pointing out to Marfinka's fiancИ that he must take the greatest care of
  her, and that in order not to give strangers a wrong impression, he must
  be more dignified and must not chase about the garden and the woods with
  her as he did in Malinovka.
  
  When she saw that Vikentev coloured at this advice, which indicated
  doubt of his tactfulness, and that Marfa Egorovna bit her underlip,
  Tatiana Markovna changed her tone; she laid her hand on his shoulder
  calling him "Dear Nikolinka," and telling him that she knew herself how
  unnecessary her words were, but that old women liked to preach. Then she
  sighed, and said not another word to her guests before their departure.
  
  Vera too came to breakfast; she looked pale, and it was clear that she
  had had a sleepless night. She said she still had a headache, but felt
  better than she did yesterday. There was no change in Tatiana Markovna's
  affectionate manner to her. Now and then Marfa Egorovna cast questioning
  glances in Vera's direction. What was the meaning of pain without any
  definite illness? Why did she not appear yesterday until after dinner,
  and then only for a moment, to go out followed by Tushin. What had they
  found to say to one another for an hour in the twilight? Being a
  sensible woman she did not pursue these inquiries, though they flashed
  for a moment in her eyes; nevertheless Vera saw them, although they were
  quickly exchanged for looks of sympathy. Neither did Marfa Egorovna's
  questioning glances escape Tatiana Markovna, who kept her eyes on the
  ground, while Vera maintained her indifferent manner. Already people are
  wondering what had happened, thought Tatiana Markovna sadly; on my arms
  she came into the world, she is my child and yet I do not know what her
  trouble is.
  
  Raisky had been out for a walk before breakfast, and wore on his face a
  look as if he had just come to a decision on a momentous question. He
  looked at Vera as calmly as at the others, and did not avoid Tatiana
  Markovna's eyes. He promised Vikentev to come over to see him in a day
  or two, and listened attentively to his guest's conversation about
  hunting and fishing.
  
  At last everything was ready for their departure. Tatiana Markovna and
  Raisky went with their guests as far as the Volga, leaving Vera at home.
  
  Vera's world had always been a small one, and its boundaries were now
  drawn more narrowly than ever. She had been contented during the long
  years with the observation and experience which were accessible to her
  in her immediate environment. Her small circle represented to her the
  crowd; she made her own in a short time what it took others many years
  in many places to learn. Unlike Marfinka she was cautious in her
  sympathies, granting her friendship only to the priest's wife and to
  Tushin, whom she openly called her friend. The simple things and the
  simple people who surrounded her did not serve only trivial purposes.
  She understood how to embroider on this ordinary canvas the bold pattern
  of a richer life with other needs, thoughts and feelings; she guessed at
  these by reading between the lines of everyday life other lines which
  expressed the desires of her mind and heart. If she was cautious in her
  sympathies she was excessively so in the sphere of thought and knowledge.
  She read books from the library in the old house, taking from the
  shelves at first without choice or system as a pastime whatever came
  into her hands; then she began to experience curiosity, and finally a
  definite desire for knowledge. She was keen-sighted enough to understand
  how aimless and unfruitful it was to wander among these other minds
  without any guiding thread. Without making direct inquiries she procured
  some explanations from Koslov, and although she understood many things
  at a bound, she never let it be seen that she had any knowledge of
  things beyond her immediate circle. Without losing sight of Koslov's
  instructions she read the books once more, to find that they meant much
  more to her and that her interest in them was steadily increasing. At
  the request of the young priest, Natasha's husband, she brought him
  books too, and listened when he expressed his views on this or that
  author, without herself adopting the seminarist view.
  
  Later on she came into contact with Mark, who brought a new light to
  bear on all that she had read and heard and known; his attitude was one
  of blank denial. No authority in heaven or earth weighed with him, he
  despised science as it had hitherto developed, and made no distinction
  between virtue and crime. If he thought that he would soon be able to
  triumph over Vera's convictions he was mistaken. She regarded these bold
  and often alluring ideas with shy admiration, without giving herself up
  blindly to their influence; she listened cautiously to the preaching of
  the apostle, but found in it neither a new life, nor happiness, nor
  truth, and, though she followed attentively what he had to say, it was
  only because she was drawn on by the ardent desire to find the reality
  that lay behind Mark's extraordinary and audacious personality. Mark
  displayed his unsparing negation, enmity and scorn against all that men
  believe, love and hope for; Vera did not agree with all she heard,
  because she observed the malady that lay concealed behind the teaching,
  even if she could not discover where it lay. Her Columbus could show her
  nothing but a row of open graves standing ready to receive all that by
  which society had hitherto existed. Vera remembered the story of
  Pharaoh's lean kine, which without themselves becoming fatter devoured
  the fat kine.
  
  Mark would have despoiled mankind of his crown in the name of wisdom; he
  would acknowledge in him nothing but an animal organism. And while he
  denied man in man, denied him the possession of a soul and the right to
  immortality, he yet spoke of his strivings to introduce a better order
  of things, neglecting to observe that in accordance with his own theory
  of the chance arrangement of existence, by which men herd together like
  flies in the hot weather; such efforts were useless.
  
  Granting the correctness of his ideas as a premiss, thought Vera, there
  can be no sense in striving to be better, kinder, truer and purer, if
  this life enduring only for a few decades is the end of all things. When
  she looked deeper into the matter and examined the new truth taught by
  the young apostle, the new conception of good and the new revelation,
  she saw with astonishment that what in his talk was good and
  incontrovertible was not new, that it was derived from sources from
  which others also drew, who certainly did not belong to the new society;
  she recognised that the seed of the new civilisation which he preached
  with so much boastfulness and such a parade of mystery lay in the
  old-fashioned doctrine, and for this reason she believed more firmly than
  ever in the older philosophy of life. She looked on Mark's personality
  with such suspicion that she gradually withdrew herself from his
  influence. Hideously disturbed by his audacity of thought, she had even
  gone so far as to tell Tatiana Markovna of this accidental acquaintance,
  with the result that the old lady told the servants to keep a watch on
  the garden, but Volokov came from the direction of the precipice, from
  which the watchmen were effectually kept away by their superstitious
  fears. Mark himself had noted Vera's distrust, and he set himself to
  overcome it.
  
  He was the more easily able to accomplish this because, when her
  interest was once awakened, she met him halfway, imperceptibly to
  herself. She meditated carefully on the facts that made up her life; her
  mind was occupied by new questionings, and for that reason she listened
  more attentively to his words when she met him in the fields. Often they
  went out walking on the banks of the Volga, and eventually found a
  meeting-place in the arbour at the bottom of the precipice. Gradually
  Vera adopted a more active role in their intercourse. She wanted to
  convert him, to lead him back to the acceptance of proved truth, the
  truth of love, of human as opposed to animal happiness, of faith and
  hope. Mark gave way in some things, though only gradually; his manners
  became less eccentric, he was less provocative in his behaviour to the
  police than before, he lived in a more orderly fashion, and ceased to
  stud his conversation with cynical remarks.
  
  The change pleased Vera, and this was the cause of the happy excitement
  that Tatiana Markovna and Raisky had remarked in her. Since her
  influence was effective even if only in what affected his external life,
  she hoped by incessant effort and sacrifice gradually to produce a
  miracle; her reward was to be the happiness of being loved by the man of
  her heart's choice. She flattered herself that she would be introducing
  a new strong man into society. If he were to show himself in wisdom and
  strength of will, simply and reliable, as Tushin was, her life was
  mapped out for her. While she was engaged in these efforts she allowed
  her passionate nature to be carried away by his personality; she fell in
  love, not with his doctrine, which she refused to accept, but with
  himself. He called to new activity, but she saw in his appeal nothing
  more than the lending of forbidden books. She agreed with him that work
  was necessary, and herself avoided idleness; she drew up for herself a
  picture of simple genuine activity for the future, and envied Marfinka
  because she understood how to make herself useful in the house and the
  village. She intended to share these labours with her sister when once
  the stiff battle with Mark had been brought to a conclusion; but the
  struggle was not to end with a victory for either one or the other, but
  with mutual overthrow and a permanent separation.
  
  These were the thoughts that passed through Vera's mind while Tatiana
  Markovna and Raisky were accompanying their guests and Marfinka as far
  as the Volga. What was the Wolf doing now? was he enjoying his triumph?
  She took from her letter case a sealed letter on blue paper which she
  had received early that morning and looked at it thoughtfully for a
  minute before she threw it down with its seals unbroken on the table.
  All her troubles were submerged in the painful question, what would
  become of her Grandmother. Raisky had already whispered to Vera that he
  would speak to Tatiana Markovna that evening if she were alone, and that
  he would take care that none of the servants should have the opportunity
  of seeing the impression which the news was bound to make on her. Vera
  shivered with foreboding when he spoke of these precautions; she would
  have liked to have died before evening came. After her talk of past
  events with Raisky and Tushin she recovered something of her usual
  calmness; a part of her burden was gone now that, like a sailor in a
  storm, she had lightened the ship of some of its ballast, but she felt
  that the heaviest load of all still lay on her conscience. It is
  impossible to go on living like this, she told herself, as she made her
  way to the chapel. There, on her knees, she looked anxiously up at the
  holy picture as if she expected a sign, but the sign she longed for was
  not granted, and she passed out of the chapel in despair as one who lay
  under the ban of God.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXIX
  
  
  When Tatiana Markovna returned from the ferry she sat down to work at
  her accounts, but soon laid them aside, and dismissed the servants. She
  asked for Raisky, who had gone over to see Koslov because he did not
  want to be left alone with his aunt. She sent across to ask Vera whether
  she was coming to dinner. Vera said that she would rather stay in her
  room and go to bed early.
  
  In the courtyard a scene by no means unusual was being enacted. Savili
  had nearly broken Marina's back with a severe beating because he had
  seen her slipping out at dawn from the room in which Vikentev's servant
  was quartered. She hid herself in the fields and the vegetable garden,
  but at last she emerged, thinking that he would have forgotten. He
  struck her with the whip while she sought refuge in one corner after
  another, swearing by all that was sacred that the devil had taken on her
  figure and had made a fool of him. But when he exchanged the whip for
  the stick she cried out aloud at the first blow and fell at his feet. "I
  am guilty," she cried, begging for mercy. She promised not to transgress
  again, calling God to witness of her sincerity. Thereupon Savili threw
  away the stick and wiped his face with his sleeve.
  
  "You may go this time," he said, "since you have confessed, and since
  you call God to witness."
  
  Tatiana Markovna was informed of this proceeding, but she only wrinkled
  her forehead, and made a sign to Vassilissa not to be too severe with
  Marina.
  
  There were visitors to dinner who had heard of Vera's indisposition and
  had come to inquire. Tatiana Markovna spoke of a chill, suffering all
  the time from her insincerity, since she did not know what was the truth
  that lay behind this feigned illness. She had not dared to send for the
  doctor, who would have immediately seen that it was a moral, not a
  physical malady.
  
  She ate no supper; Tiet Nikonich politely said that he had no appetite
  either. Then came Raisky, who also wanted no supper, but sat silently at
  table pretending not to notice the glances which Tatiana Markovna
  directed towards him from time to time.
  
  When Tiet Nikonich had made his bow and departed, Tatiana Markovna
  prepared to retire. She hardly looked at Raisky when she bade him
  good-night, because her affections and her self-esteem were both too
  deeply wounded. A secret and serious misfortune had befallen the family,
  but she was left on one side like a stranger, as if she were a useless,
  incapable woman. Raisky said in a low voice that he must speak with her.
  
  "Bad news?" she whispered, shivering and looking fixedly at him before
  she passed with him into her own room. She dropped into her old chair
  and pushed the lamp farther away, first covering it with a shade, so
  that the room was dimly lighted. Raisky began his tale as cautiously as
  possible, but his lips trembled and now and again his tongue refused its
  office, but he collected all his strength and went on, although towards
  the end of his story his voice was hardly audible.
  
  Dawn had come, but throughout the long hours Tatiana Markovna had sat
  motionless and speechless with bowed head, giving vent now and then to a
  low moan. Raisky fell on his knees before her and implored her, "Go to
  Vera's help."
  
  "She has sent too late for Grandmother. God will go to her help. Spare
  her and console her as you know how to do. She no longer has a
  Grandmother," she said, going towards the door.
  
  "Grandmother, what is the matter with you?" cried Raisky barring her way.
  
  "You have no longer a Grandmother," she said absently. "Go, go." As he
  did not obey, she cried angrily, "Don't come here. I will see no one.
  You must all of you leave me in peace." He would have replied, but she
  made an impatient gesture with her hand. "Go to her," she continued.
  "Help her as far as you can. Grandmother can do nothing: you have no
  longer a Grandmother."
  
  She made another gesture with her hand, so imperious this time that he
  went without further parley, but he concealed himself in the yard and
  watched her window. Tatiana Markovna sank back in her chair and closed
  her eyes, and for a long time she remained there, cold and stiff as if
  she were a dead woman. Raisky, who had not gone to bed, and Vassilissa
  and Yakob as well, saw Tatiana Markovna with her head uncovered and her
  Turkish shawl thrown round her shoulders leave the house in the early
  morning and go out into the garden. It was as if a bronze figure had
  descended from its pedestal and had begun to walk.
  
  She passed through the flower garden and then through the avenue to the
  precipice; then, striding slowly along, with her head held high and
  without looking round, she went down the face of the cliff, and
  disappeared. Concealing his presence in the trees, Raisky hurried after
  her, following her as she passed deeper and deeper down the precipice
  and until she reached the arbour, where she paused. Raisky came closer,
  and held his breath as he listened to Tatiana Markovna's heavy sighs,
  and then heard her whisper, "My sin." With her hands above her head she
  walked hastily on, until she came to the bank of the river and stood
  still. The wind wound her dress round her ankles, disordered her hair,
  and tugged at her shawl, but she noticed nothing. A terrible idea dawned
  on Raisky that she intended to drown herself. But his aunt turned back
  as she had come, with slow strides which left deep prints in the damp
  sand. Raisky breathed more freely; but when, following her track in a
  parallel direction, he caught sight of her face, he held his breath in
  horror at the agony he saw written there. She had spoken truly, their
  grandmother existed no longer. This was not grandmother, not Tatiana
  Markovna, the warm-hearted mistress of Malinovka, where the life and
  prosperity of the whole place depended on her, the wise and happy ruler
  of her little kingdom. It was as if she were not walking of her own
  accord but was driven on by an impulse exterior to herself, as
  unconscious of her movements she climbed the steep hill through the
  brushwood, with her shawl hanging down from her shoulders dragging its
  corners in the dust; her eyes, from which stony horror looked forth,
  were unwinking; her manner was that of a moonstruck woman. Raisky found
  it difficult to follow her. She paused once, leaning both hands on a
  tree. "My sin," she exclaimed again. "How heavy is the burden! If it is
  not lightened, I can bear it no longer." She began again to climb
  quickly up the hill, surmounting the difficulties of the steep path
  with unnatural strength and leaving tags of her dress and her shawl
  behind her in the bushes.
  
  Overcome with amazement and horror, Raisky watched this new strange
  woman. He knew that only great souls conquer heavy trouble with strength
  like hers. They have wings like eagles to soar into the clouds and eagle
  eyes to gaze into the abyss. This was not his grandmother; she seemed to
  him to be one of those feminine figures which emerge from the family
  circle in the supreme moments of life under the heavy blows of fate, who
  bear great misfortunes majestically and are not overwhelmed. He saw in
  her a Jewess of the olden days, a noble woman of Jerusalem, who scorns
  the prophecy that her people will lose their fame and their honour to
  the Romans, but when the hour of fate has arrived, when the men of
  Jerusalem are watering its walls with their tears and beating their
  heads against the stones, then she takes the ornaments from her hair,
  puts on mourning garments, and goes on her pilgrimage wherever the hand
  of Jehovah leads. His mind went back to another queen of misfortune, to
  the Russian Marfa, the enemy of the city of Moscow, who maintained her
  defiance even in her chains, and, dying, directed the destiny of free
  Novgorod. Before his imagination there passed a procession of other
  suffering women, Russian Tsaritsas, who, at the wish of their husbands,
  had adopted the dress of the nun and had maintained their intellect and
  their strength of character in the cloister....
  
  Raisky diverted his attention from these unsummoned apparitions, and
  looked attentively at the suffering woman before him. Tatiana Markovna's
  kingdom was perishing. Her house was left desolate; her dearest treasure,
  her pride, her pearl, had been taken from her, and she wandered lonely
  among the ruins. When she paused in her walk in order to collect her
  strength, she tottered and would have fallen but for an inner whisper
  which assured her she would yet reach her goal. She pulled herself
  together, and wandered on until evening. Half asleep, terrified by her
  crowding fancies, she spent the night on the sofa. At dawn she rose, and
  went once more to the precipice. With her head resting on the bare
  boards she sat for a long time on the crumbling threshold of the arbour,
  then she went through the fields, and was lost in the thicket on the
  bank of the river. By chance her steps led her to the chapel, where new
  terror seized her at the sight of the picture of the Christ. She fell on
  her knees like a wounded animal, covered her face with her shawl, and
  moaned, "My sin! my sin!"
  
  Tatiana Markovna's servants had lost their heads in terror. Vassilissa
  and Yakob hardly stirred from the church. She intended, if her mistress
  recovered, to make her pilgrimage on foot to Kiev in order to venerate
  the miracle worker; he promised to the patron saint of the village a
  thick wax candle ornamented with gold. The rest of the servants hid
  themselves, and only looked shyly out after their mistress as she
  wandered distraught through the fields and the woods.
  
  For two days already Tatiana Markovna had eaten nothing. Raisky indeed
  tried to restrain her from leaving the house again, but she waved him
  imperiously away. Then with decision he took a jug of water, came up to
  her, and took her hand. She looked at him as if she did not know who he
  was, then mechanically seized the jug in her trembling hand, and drank
  greedily in big mouthfuls.
  
  "Grandmother, come home again, and do not make both yourself and us
  wretched," he begged. "You will kill yourself."
  
  "It is God's will; I shall not lose my reason, for I am upheld by His
  strength. I must endure to the end. Do you raise me if I fall. My sin!"
  she murmured and went on her way. After she had gone a few steps, she
  turned round and he ran to her.
  
  "If I do not survive," she began, signing to him to bow his head. Raisky
  knelt down, and she pressed his head to her breast, laid her hands on it
  and kissed him. "Accept my blessing, deliver it to Marfinka, and to her,
  to my poor Vera. Do you understand, to her also."
  
  "Grandmother!" he cried, kissing her hand.
  
  She tore her hand away, and set out to wander once more through the
  thicket, by the river bank, and in the fields. A devout soul obeys its
  own laws, thought Raisky, as he dried his tears; only a saint could
  suffer like this for the object of her love.
  
  Things were not going any better with Vera. Raisky made haste to tell
  her of his conversation with their aunt; when she sent for him early
  next morning, in her anxiety to have news of Tatiana Markovna, he
  pointed out of the window, and Vera saw how Tatiana Markovna was
  drifting, urged on by the heavy hand of misfortune. For a moment she
  caught sight of her expression, and sank horrified on the floor, but she
  pulled herself up again, ran from one window to the other, and stretched
  her hands out towards her grandmother. Then she rushed through the wide
  empty hall of the old house in a wild desire to follow Tatiana Markovna,
  but she realised in time that it would have killed her aunt if she
  approached her just now. Vera was conscious now how deeply she had
  wounded another life so close to her own, as she saw the tragic figure
  of her aunt, so happy until recently and now bearing the punishment of
  another's sin. Raisky brought her Tatiana Markovna's blessing, and Vera
  fell on his neck and wept for a long time.
  
  On the evening of the second day, Vera was found sitting in a corner of
  the great hall, half dressed. Raisky and the priest's wife, who had just
  arrived, led her almost by force into her room and laid her down on the
  bed. Raisky sent for the doctor, to whom he tried to explain her
  indisposition. The doctor prescribed a sedative, which Vera drank
  without being any calmer for it; she often waked in her sleep to ask
  after her grandmother.
  
  "Give me something to drink ... don't say a word. Do not let anyone come
  to see me. Find out what Grandmother is doing." It was just the same in
  the night. When she awoke, she would whisper, "Grandmother doesn't come,
  Grandmother doesn't love me any more. She has not forgiven me."
  
  On the third day Tatiana Markovna left the house without being observed.
  After two sleepless nights, Raisky had lain down and had given
  instructions to wake him if she left the house, but Yakob and Vassilissa
  had gone to early Mass, and the other servants had paid no attention.
  Later on Savili saw that his mistress, catching hold of the trees as she
  went, was making her way from the precipice to the fields. Raisky
  hurried after her and watched her slow return to the house; she stood
  still, looked round as if she were saying goodbye to the group of houses,
  groped with her hands, and swayed violently. Then he rushed up to her,
  brought her back to the house with Vassilissa's help, put her in her
  armchair and sent for the doctor. Vassilissa fell on her knees before
  her mistress.
  
  "Little mother! Tatiana Markovna," she begged, "come back to us. Make
  the sign of the Cross."
  
  Tatiana Markovna crossed herself, sighed, and signed that she could not
  speak and wanted something to drink. Vassilissa undressed her, wrapped
  her in warm sheets, rubbed her hands and feet with spirit, and then gave
  her some warm wine to drink. The doctor prescribed for her, but said
  that it was most important of all that she should not be disturbed, but
  should be allowed to sleep.
  
  An incautious word that Tatiana Markovna was ill reached Vera's ears.
  She pushed past Natalie Ivanovna, and wanted to go over to the new house;
  Raisky had great difficulty in persuading her to abandon her intention
  as Tatiana Markovna lay in a deep sleep. In the evening Vera was worse,
  she had fever and was delirious, and during the night she flung herself
  from one side to another, calling on her grandmother in her sleep, and
  weeping. Raisky wanted to call the old doctor; he waited impatiently
  till the morning and spent his time in going from Vera to Tatiana
  Markovna, and from Tatiana Markovna back to Vera.
  
  As Vera's condition had not improved next morning, Raisky went with
  Vassilissa into Tatiana Markovna's bedroom, where they found the old
  lady in the same state as she had been in the whole of the day before.
  
  "I am afraid of going near her in case I alarm her," he whispered.
  
  "Should I awaken the mistress?"
  
  "She must be awakened. Vera Vassilievna is ill, and I don't know whether
  I ought to send for the old doctor."
  
  The words were hardly out of his mouth when Tatiana Markovna sat up. "Is
  Vera ill?" she said in a low voice.
  
  Raisky breathed more freely, for his aunt, in her present anxiety, had
  lost the stony expression of yesterday. She signed to him to leave the
  room. Half an hour later she was walking across the courtyard to the old
  house with trouble plainly depicted on her face, but apparently without
  a trace of weariness. She entered Vera's room cautiously, and when she
  saw the pale sleeping face, whispered to Raisky, "Send for the old
  doctor." She now noticed for the first time the priest's wife and her
  weary eyes; she embraced Natalie Ivanovna, and advised her kindly to go
  and get a whole day's rest.
  
  When the doctor arrived, Tatiana Markovna gave him an ingenious
  explanation of Vera's indisposition. He discovered symptoms of a nervous
  fever and prescribed medicine; but on the whole he did not think that
  serious consequences need be expected if the patient could be kept quiet.
  Vera was half asleep when she took the medicine and towards evening fell
  fast asleep. Tatiana Markovna sat down at the head of the bed, watching
  her movements and listening to her breathing. Presently Vera woke up and
  asked, "Are you asleep, Natasha?"
  
  As she received no answer she closed her eyes, but she could not go to
  sleep again, and the darkness seemed to her to be a dark and terrible
  prison. After a time she asked for something to drink. Someone handed
  her a cup.
  
  "How is Grandmother?" asked Vera, opening her eyes only to close them
  again immediately. "Natasha, where are you? Come here. Why are you
  hiding?" she sighed and fell asleep again. Presently she woke again and
  whispered pitifully, "Grandmother doesn't come. Grandmother loves me no
  longer, and has not forgiven me."
  
  "Grandmother is here. She loves you and has forgiven you."
  
  Vera sprang from the bed and rushed up to Tatiana Markovna.
  "Grandmother," she cried, half fainting and hiding her head on her
  breast.
  
  Tatiana Markovna put her to bed again, leaned her grey head by Vera's
  white suffering face, while the girl in a low voice, with sighs and
  tears, made her confession on her breast. Her aunt listened without
  speaking, and presently wiped away Vera's tears with her handkerchief,
  and kissed her warmly and affectionately.
  
  "Do not waste your caresses on me, Grandmother; only do not leave me. I
  do not deserve your caresses. Keep your kisses for my sister."
  
  "Your sister is no longer in need of my caresses. But I need your love.
  If you forsake me, Vera, I shall be a desolate old woman." Tatiana
  Markovna wept.
  
  "Mother, forgive me," whispered Vera, embracing her with her whole
  strength. "I have not been obedient to you, and God has punished me,"
  she went on, but Tatiana Markovna shut her mouth with a kiss.
  
  "Do not talk like that, Vera," interrupted her grandmother, who had
  turned pale with horror and once more wore the aspect of the old woman
  who had been wandering about in the thicket by the precipice.
  
  "Yes, I thought that my own brain and will were self-sufficing, that I
  was wiser than you all."
  
  "You are wiser than I and have more learning," said Tatiana Markovna,
  breathing more freely. "God has given you a clear understanding, but you
  have not my experience."
  
  Vera thought that she had more experience also, but she merely said,
  "Take me away from here. There is no Vera any longer. I want to be your
  Marfinka. Take me away from this old house over there to you."
  
  The two heads rested side by side on the pillow. They lay in a close
  embrace and fell asleep.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXX
  
  
  Vera rose the next morning pale and exhausted, but without any fever.
  She had wept out her malady on her grandmother's breast. The doctor
  professed himself satisfied, and said she should stay in her room for a
  few days. Everything in the house went on as before. There were no
  festivities in honour of Vera's name day, as she had expressed a wish
  that there should be none. Neither Marfinka nor the Vikentevs came; a
  messenger was sent to Kolchino with the announcement that Vera
  Vassilievna was unwell and was keeping her room. Tushin sent his
  congratulations in a respectful note, asking for permission to come and
  see her. Her reply was that he should wait a little until she was better.
  Under the pretext of Vera's illness, callers who came from the town to
  present their congratulations were not admitted. Only the servants
  celebrated the occasion in their own way; the maids appeared in their
  gay dresses, and the coachmen and the lackeys got drunk.
  
  Vera and her aunt developed a new relationship. Tatiana Markovna's
  consideration for Vera was by no means assumed, but her kindness did not
  make Vera's heart lighter. What she had expected and wished was severe
  judgment, a penance, perhaps exile for half a year or a year to Tatiana
  Markovna's distant estate, where she would gradually win back her peace
  of mind or at any rate forget, if it was true, as Raisky said, that time
  extinguishes all impressions. "I see," thought Vera, "that Grandmother
  suffers inexpressibly. Grief has changed her altogether; her figure is
  bowed and her face more deeply furrowed. Perhaps she is only sparing me
  now because her heart has opened itself to pity. She cannot bear to
  punish me, now that I am ill and repentant." Vera had lost her pride,
  her self-respect and her dignity, and if once these flowers are taken
  out of the crown which adorns the head of man, his doom is at hand. She
  tried to pray and could not, for she had nothing to pray for, and could
  only bow her head in humility.
  
  Raisky came into much closer relation with his aunt and Vera. His
  naturalness and genuine affection, the friendly intimacy of his
  conversation, his straightforwardness, his talkative humour, and the
  gleaming play of his fancy were a distraction and a consolation to both
  of them. He often drew a laugh from them, but he tried in vain to
  distract them from the grief which hung like a cloud over them both and
  over the whole house. He himself was sad when he saw that neither his
  esteem nor Tatiana Markovna's kindness could give back to poor Vera her
  courage, her pride, her confidence and her strength of will.
  
  Tatiana Markovna spent the nights in the old house on the divan opposite
  Vera's bed and watched her sleep. But it nearly always happened that
  they were both observing one another, so that neither of them found
  refreshing sleep. On the morning after a sleepless night of this kind,
  Tatiana Markovna sent for Tiet Nikonich. He came gladly, plainly
  delighted that the illness which threatened Vera Vassilievna had blown
  over, and bringing with him a water melon of extraordinary size and a
  pineapple for a present. But a glance at his old friend was enough to
  make him change colour. Tatiana Markovna hastily put on her fur-trimmed
  cloak, threw a scarf over her head, and signed to him to follow her as
  she led the way into the garden. They sat for two hours on Vera's bench.
  Then she went back to the house with bowed head, while he drove home,
  overcome with grief, ordered his servants to pack, sent for post horses,
  and drove to his estate, to which he had not been for many years.
  
  Raisky, who had gone to see him, heard the news with astonishment. He
  questioned his aunt, who told him that some disturbance had broken out
  on Tiet Nikonich's estate. Vera was sadder than ever. Lines began to
  appear on her forehead, which would one day become furrows. Sometimes
  she would approach the table on which the unopened blue letter lay and
  then turn away. Where should she flee, where conceal herself from the
  world? When night fell, she lay down, put out the light, and stared
  wide-eyed in front of her. She wanted to forget, to sleep, but sleep
  would not come. Dark spots, blacker than night, danced before her eyes,
  shadows moved up and down with a wave-like motion in the glimmer of
  light that lay around the window. But she felt no fear, she would not
  have died of terror if there had risen suddenly out of the corner a
  ghost, a thief or a murderer; she would not have felt any fear if she
  had been told that her last hour was come. She looked out unceasingly
  into the darkness, at the waving shadows, at the flitting specks which
  stood out the more clearly in the blackness of the night, at the rings
  of changing colour which whirled shimmering round her.
  
  Slowly and quietly the door opened. Vera propped herself on her elbow
  and saw a hand carrying a lamp carefully shaded. Tatiana Markovna
  dropped her cloak from her shoulder on to a chair and approached the bed,
  looking not unlike a ghost in her white dressing-gown. Vera had laid her
  head back on the pillow and pretended to sleep. Tatiana Markovna put the
  lamp on the table behind the bed-head, and sat down carefully and
  quietly on the divan with her head leaning on her hand. She did not take
  her eyes from Vera, and when Vera opened her own an hour later Tatiana
  Markovna was still looking fixedly at her. "Can't you sleep, Vera?"
  
  "No."
  
  "Why?"
  
  "Why do you punish me in the night too, Grandmother?" asked Vera in a
  low tone. The two women looked at one another and both seemed to
  understand the speech in their eyes. "You are killing me with sympathy,
  Grandmother," Vera went on. "It would be better to drive me from your
  sight. But it is very hard for me to bear when you measure out your
  scorn drop by drop. Either forgive me or, if that is impossible, bury me
  alive. Why are you silent? What is in your mind? Your silence tortures
  me; it seems to say something, and yet never says it."
  
  "It is so hard, Vera, to speak. Pray, and understand your Grandmother
  even when she is silent."
  
  "I have tried to pray, and cannot. What have I to pray for, except that
  I should die the sooner. I shall die I know; only let it come quickly,
  for like this it is impossible to live."
  
  "It is possible," said Tatiana Markovna, drawing a deep sigh.
  
  "After ... that?"
  
  "After _that_," replied her grandmother.
  
  "You don't know, Grandmother," said Vera with a hopeless sigh. "You have
  not been a woman like me."
  
  Tatiana Markovna stooped down to Vera, and whispered in a hardy audible
  voice, "A woman like you."
  
  Vera looked at her in amazement, then let her head fall back on the
  pillow and said wearily, "You were never in my position. You are a
  saint."
  
  "A sinner," rejoined Tatiana Markovna.
  
  "We are all sinners, but not a sinner of that kind."
  
  "Of that kind."
  
  Vera seized Tatiana Markovna's dress with both hands, and pressed her
  face to hers. The words that came from her troubled breast sounded like
  hisses. "Why do you slander yourself? Is it in order to calm and help me?
  Grandmother, do not lie!"
  
  "I never lie and you know it, and how should I begin to do so now. I am
  a sinner, and myself need forgiveness," she said, throwing herself on
  her knees and bowing her grey head.
  
  "Why do you say these things to me?" said Vera, staring at the kneeling
  woman, and pressing her head to her breast. "Take your words back again.
  I have not heard them or will forget them; will regard them as the
  product of a dream. Do not torture yourself for my sake. Rise,
  Grandmother." Tatiana Markovna lay on her breast, sobbing like a child.
  "Why did you tell me this?" said Vera.
  
  "It was God's wish that I should humble myself to ask you, my child, for
  forgiveness. If you grant me your forgiveness, Vera, I, too, can forgive
  you. I had hoped to keep my secret until I died, and now my sin has
  plunged you into ruin."
  
  "You rescue me, Grandmother, from despair."
  
  "And myself, Vera. God forgives, but he demands cleansing. I thought my
  sin was forgotten and forgiven. Because of my silence I seemed to men to
  be virtuous, but my virtue was a lie. God has punished my sin. Forgive
  me from your heart."
  
  "Does one forgive one's Mother? You are a saint, a Mother without a peer
  in the whole wide world. If I had known you, as you really are, how
  could I have acted contrary to your will?"
  
  "That is my second terrible sin. I was silent, and did not tell you to
  beware of the precipice. Your dead Mother will call me to account for my
  failure, I know. She comes to me in my dreams, and is now here between
  us. Do you also forgive me, Departed One," she cried wildly, stretching
  out her arms in supplication.
  
  Vera shuddered.
  
  "Forgive me, Vera. I ask forgiveness of you both. We will pray."
  
  Vera tried to raise her to her feet, and Tatiana Markovna raised herself
  with difficulty, and sat down on the divan.
  
  Vera bathed her temples with eau de Cologne, and gave her a sedative;
  then she kneeled down before her and covered her hand with kisses.
  
  "What is hidden must be revealed," began Tatiana Markovna, when she had
  recovered a little. "For forty-five years only two human beings beside
  myself have known it, _he_ and Vassilissa, and I thought the secret
  would die with me. And now it is made public. My God!" she cried, wildly,
  stretching her folded arms to the picture of the Christ. "Had I known
  that this stroke would ever fall on another, on _my_ child, I would
  have confessed my sin there and then to the all world in the Cathedral
  square."
  
  Vera still hesitated to believe what she heard. Was it a heroic measure,
  a generous invention to rescue and restore her own self-respect? But her
  aunt's prayers, her tears, her appeal to Vera's dead mother, no actress
  would have dared to use such devices, and her aunt was the soul of truth
  and honour.
  
  Warm life pulsed in Vera's heart, and her heart was lightened. She felt
  as if life was streaming through her veins after an evil dream. Peace
  tapped at the door of her soul, the dark forsaken temple, which was now
  gaily lighted once more and a home of prayer. She felt that Tatiana
  Markovna and she were inseparable sisters, and she even began
  involuntarily to address her as "thou," as she had done Raisky when her
  heart responded to his kindness. As these thoughts whirled in her head,
  she had a sensation of lightness and freedom, like a prisoner whose
  fetters have been removed.
  
  "Grandmother," she said, rising, "you have forgiven me, and you love me
  more than you do any of the others, more than Marfinka, that I realise.
  But do you know and understand my love for you? I should not have
  suffered as I did, but for my love for you. How long we have been
  strangers!"
  
  "I will tell you all, Vera, and you must hear my confession. Judge me
  severely, but pardon me, and God will pardon us both."
  
  "I will not, I ought not, I may not," cried Vera. "To what end should I
  hear it?"
  
  "So that I may suffer once more, as I suffered five-and-forty years ago.
  You know my sin, and Boris shall know it. He may laugh at the grey hairs
  of old Kunigunde."
  
  As she strode up and down, shaking her head in her fanatical seriousness,
  with sorrow and triumphant dignity in her face, her resemblance to the
  old family portrait in the gallery was very marked.
  
  Beside her Vera felt like a small and pitiful child as she gazed timidly
  into her aunt's eyes; she measured her own young strength by the
  strength of this old woman who had ripened and remained unbroken in the
  long struggle of life.
  
  "My whole life can never repay what you have done for me, Grandmother.
  Let this be the end of your penance, and tell me no more. If you are
  determined that Boris shall know, I will whisper a word about your past
  to him. Since I have seen your anguish, why should you suffer a longer
  martyrdom? I will not listen. It is not my place to sit in judgment on
  you. Let me hold your grey hairs sacred."
  
  Tatiana Markovna sighed, and embraced Vera.
  
  "As you will. Your will is like God's forgiveness to me, and I am
  grateful to you for sparing my grey hairs."
  
  "Now," said Vera, "let us go across to your house, where we can both
  rest."
  
  Tatiana Markovna almost carried her across to the new house, laid her on
  her own bed, and lay down beside her.
  
  When Vera had fallen peacefully asleep, her aunt rose cautiously, and,
  in the light of the lamp, watched the marble beauty of her forehead, her
  closed eyes, all sculptured pure and delicate as if by a master hand,
  and at the expression of deep peace that lay on her face. She made the
  sign of the cross over Vera as she slept, touched her forehead with her
  lips, and sank on her knees in prayer.
  
  "Have mercy on her!" she breathed. "If Thy anger is not yet appeased,
  turn it from her and strike my grey head."
  
  Presently she lay down beside Vera, with her arm around her neck. Vera
  woke occasionally, opened her eyes, and closed them again. She pressed
  closer and closer to Tatiana Markovna as if no harm could befall her
  within the circle of those faithful arms.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXXI
  
  
  As the days went by Malinovka assumed its wonted calm. The quiet life
  which had been brought to a pause by the catastrophe, flowed evenly on.
  The peaceful atmosphere was not undisturbed by anxiety. Autumn had laid
  her hand on men as well as on nature. The household was thoughtful,
  silent, and cold; smiles, laughter, and joy had vanished like the
  falling leaves, and even though the worst crisis was passed, it had left
  behind it an atmosphere of gloom.
  
  Tatiana Markovna ruled her little kingdom once more. Vera was busily
  engaged in the house, and devoted much care and taste to the choice of
  Marfinka's trousseau. She had determined not to avoid any task, however
  simple and trivial it might be, while she awaited the opportunity of
  some serious work that life might offer her; she recognised that with
  most people avoidance of the trivial and the hope of something
  extraordinary and unprecedented were dictated either by idleness and
  incompetence, or by morbid self-love and vanity.
  
  She was paler than before, her eyes were less sparkling, and she had
  lost some of her vivacity of gesture; but these changes were put down by
  everyone to her narrow escape from nervous fever.
  
  In fulfilment of Tatiana Markovna's insistently expressed wish, Vera had
  spoken to Raisky of their aunt's passion, of which Tiet Nikonich had
  been the object, but she said nothing of the sin. Even this partial
  confidence explained to Raisky the riddle, how Tatiana Markovna, who in
  his eyes was an old maid, could find the strength, not only to bear the
  brunt of Vera's misfortune, but to soothe her, and to rescue her from
  moral collapse and despair.
  
  He showed in his intercourse with her, more clearly than before, a deep
  and affectionate esteem, and an unbounded devotion. He now no longer
  contradicted her, so that an end was put to the earlier semi-comic
  warfare he had waged against her; even in his gestures there was a
  certain reserve. She inspired him with the astonishment and admiration
  which are called forth by women of exceptional moral strength.
  
  The servants, too, were different, even though the cloud had passed.
  There was no sound of quarrelling, abuse or laughter. Vassilissa found
  herself in an exceptionally difficult position, since, now that her
  mistress was restored to health, she was called on to fulfil her vow.
  
  One morning Yakob vanished from the yard. He had taken money from the
  box where the cash was kept for buying the oil for the lamps kept
  burning in front of the ikons, which were in his charge, and had bought
  the promised candle, which he set up before the sacred picture in the
  village church at early Mass. As there was a small surplus he crossed
  himself piously, then betook himself to the poorer quarter of the town,
  where he spent his riches, and then reeled home again on his unsteady
  legs, displaying a slight redness on his nose and his cheeks. Tatiana
  Markovna happened to meet him. She immediately smelt the brandy, and
  asked in surprise what he had been doing. He replied that he had been to
  church, bowed his head devoutly, and folded his arms on his breast.
  
  He explained to Vassilissa that he had done his duty in fulfilling his
  vow. She looked at him in perturbation, for in her anxieties about her
  mistress and in the preparations for the wedding she had not thought of
  her own vow. Here was Yakob who had fulfilled his and was going about
  with a pious jubilant air, and reminding her of her promised pilgrimage
  to Kiev.
  
  "I don't feel strong enough," she complained. "I have hardly any bones
  in me, only flesh. Lord, have mercy on me!"
  
  For thirty years she had been steadily putting on flesh; she lived on
  coffee, tea, bread, potatoes and gherkins, and often fish, even at those
  times of the year when meat was permitted. In her distress she went to
  Father Vassili, to ask him to set her doubts at rest. She had heard that
  kind priests were willing to release people from their vows or to allow
  substituted vows, where weakness of body hindered the performance of the
  original.
  
  "As you agreed to go, you must go," said Father Vassili.
  
  "I agreed because I was frightened, Little Father. I thought that
  Mistress would die, but she was well again in three days; why then
  should I make the long journey?"
  
  "Yes, there is no short road to Kiev. If you had no inclination to go
  you should not have registered the vow."
  
  "The inclination is there, but strength fails me. I suffer from want of
  breath even when I go to church. I am already in my seventh decade,
  Father. It would be different if Mistress had been three months in bed,
  if she had received the sacraments and the last unction, and then had
  been restored to health by God in answer to my prayer; then I would have
  gone to Kiev on my hands and knees."
  
  "Well, what is to be done?" asked Father Vassili, smiling.
  
  "Now I should like to promise something different. I will lay a fast on
  myself, never to eat another bit of meat until I die."
  
  "Do you like meat?"
  
  "I can't bear the sight of it, and have weaned myself from eating it."
  
  "A difficult vow," said Father Vassili with another smile, "must be
  replaced by something as difficult or more difficult, but you have
  chosen the easiest. Isn't there anything that it would be hard for you
  to carry out? Think again!"
  
  Vassilissa thought, and said there was nothing.
  
  "Very well then, you must go to Kiev."
  
  "I would gladly go, if I were not so stout."
  
  "How can your vow be eased?" said Father Vassili, thinking aloud. "What
  do you live on?"
  
  "On tea, coffee, mushroom soup, potatoes...."
  
  "Do you like coffee?"
  
  "Yes, Little Father."
  
  "Abstain from coffee."
  
  "That is nearly as bad," she sighed, "as going to Kiev. What am I to
  live on?"
  
  "On meat."
  
  It seemed to her that he was laughing, and indeed he did laugh when he
  saw her face.
  
  "You don't like it," he said. "But make the sacrifice."
  
  "What good does it do me, and to eat meat is not fasting, Father."
  
  "Eat it on the days when it may be eaten. The good it will do is that
  you will lay on less fat. In six months you are absolved of your vow."
  
  She went away in some distress, and began to execute the priest's
  instructions the next day, turning her nose sadly away from the steaming
  coffee that she brought her mistress in the morning.
  
  In about ten days Marfinka returned in company with her fiancИ and his
  mother. Vikentev and she brought their laughter, their gaiety and their
  merry talk into the quiet house. But within a couple of hours after
  their arrival they had become quiet and timid, for their gaiety had
  aroused a melancholy echo, as in an empty house. A mist lay on
  everything. Even the birds had ceased to fly to the spot where Marfinka
  fed them; swallows, starlings and all the feathered inhabitants of the
  park were gone, and not a stork was to be seen flying over the Volga.
  The gardener had thrown away the withered flowers; the space in front of
  the house, usually radiant and sweet with flowers, now showed black
  rings of newly-dug earth framed in yellowish grass. The branches of some
  of the trees had been enveloped in bast, and the trees in the park
  became barer with every day. The Volga grew darker and darker, as if the
  river were preparing for its icy winter sleep.
  
  Nature does not create, but it does emphasise human melancholy. Marfinka
  asked herself what had happened to everybody in the house, as she looked
  doubtfully round her. Even her own pretty little room did not look so
  gay; it was as if Vera's nervous silence had invaded it.
  
  Her eyes filled with tears. Why was everything so different? Why had
  Veroshka come over from the other house, and why did she walk no more in
  the field or in the thicket? Where was Tiet Nikonich?
  
  They all looked worried, and hardly spoke to one another; they did not
  even tease Marfinka and her fiancИ. Vera and grandmother were silent.
  What had happened to the whole house? It was the first trouble that
  Marfinka had encountered in her happy life, and she fell in
  unconsciously with the serious, dull tone that obtained in Malinovka.
  
  Silence, reserve and melancholy were equally foreign to Vikentev's
  nature. He urged his mother to persuade Tatiana Markovna to allow
  Marfinka to go back with them to Kolchino until the wedding at the end
  of October. To his surprise permission was given easily and quickly, and
  the young people flew like swallows from autumn to the warmth, light,
  and brightness of their future home.
  
  Raisky drove over to fetch Tiet Nikonich. He was haggard and yellow, and
  hardly stirred from his place, and he only gradually recovered, like a
  child whose toys have been restored to him, when he saw Tatiana Markovna
  in her usual surroundings and found himself in the middle of the picture,
  either at table with his serviette tucked in his collar, or in the
  window on the stool near her chair, with a cup of tea before him poured
  out by her hands.
  
  Another member was added to the family circle at Malinovka, for Raisky
  brought Koslov to dinner one day, to receive the heartiest of welcomes.
  Tatiana Markovna had the tact not to let the poor forsaken man see that
  she was aware of his trouble. She greeted him with a jest.
  
  "Why have you not been near us for so long, Leonti Ivanovich? Borushka
  says that I don't know how to entertain you, and that you don't like my
  table. Did you tell him so?"
  
  "How should I not like it? When did I say such a thing?" he asked Raisky
  severely. "You are joking!" he went on, as everybody laughed, and he
  himself had to smile.
  
  He had had time to find his own bearings, and had begun to realise the
  necessity of hiding his grief from others.
  
  "Yes, it is a long time since I was here. My wife has gone to Moscow to
  visit her relations, so that I could not...."
  
  "You ought to have come straight to us," observed Tatiana Markovna,
  "when it was so dull by yourself at home."
  
  "I expect her, and am always afraid she may come when I am not at home."
  
  "You would soon hear of her arrival, and she must pass our house. From
  the windows of the old house we can see who comes along the road, and we
  will stop her."
  
  "It is true that the road to Moscow can be seen from there," said Koslov,
  looking quickly, and almost happily, at his hostess.
  
  "Come and stay with us," she said.
  
  "I simply will not let you go to-day," said Raisky. "I am bored by
  myself, and we will move over into the old house. After Marfinka's
  wedding I am going away, and you will be Grandmother's and Vera's first
  minister, friend and protector."
  
  "Thank you. If I am not in the way...."
  
  "How can you talk like that. You ought to be ashamed of yourself."
  
  "Forgive me, Tatiana Markovna."
  
  "Better eat your dinner; the soup is getting cold."
  
  "I am hungry too," he said suddenly, seizing his spoon. He ate his soup
  silently, looking round him as if he were seeking the road to Moscow,
  and he preserved the same demeanour all through the meal.
  
  "It is so quiet here," he said after dinner, as he looked out of the
  window. "There is still some green left, and the air is so fresh. Listen,
  Boris Pavlovich, I should like to bring the library here."
  
  "As you like. To-morrow, as far as I am concerned. It is your possession
  to do as you please with."
  
  "What should I do with it now? I will have it brought over, so that I
  can take care of it; else in the end that man Mark will...."
  
  Raisky strode about the room, Vera's eyes were fixed on her needlework,
  and Tatiana Markovna went to the window. Shortly after this Raisky took
  Leonti to the old house, to show him the room that Tatiana Markovna had
  arranged for him. Leonti went from one window to another to see which of
  them commanded a view of the Moscow road.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXXII
  
  
  On a misty autumn day, as Vera sat at work in her room, Yakob brought
  her a letter written on blue paper, which had been brought by a lad who
  had instructions to wait for an answer. When she had recovered from the
  first shock at the sight of the letter, she took it, laid it on the
  table, and dismissed Yakob. She tried to go on with her work but her
  hands fell helplessly on her lap.
  
  "When will there be an end of this torture?" she whispered, nervously.
  Then she took from her bureau the earlier unopened blue letter, laid it
  by the side of the other, and covered her face with her hands. What
  answer could he expect from her, she asked herself, when they had parted
  for ever? Surely he dare not call her once more. If so, an answer must
  be given, for the messenger was waiting. She opened the letters and read
  the earlier one:--
  
  "Are we really not to meet again, Vera? That would be incredible. A few
  days ago there would have been reason in our separation, now it is a
  useless sacrifice, hard for both of us. We have striven obstinately with
  one another for a whole year for the prize of happiness; and now that
  the goal is attained you run away. Yet it is you who spoke of an eternal
  love. Is that logical?"
  
  "Logical!" she repeated, but she collected her courage and read on.
  
  "I am now permitted to choose another place of residence. But now I
  cannot leave you, for it would be dishonourable. You cannot think that I
  am proud of my victory, and that it is easy for me to go away. I cannot
  allow you to harbour such an idea. I cannot leave you, because you love
  me."
  
  Once more she interrupted her reading, but resumed it with an effort--
  
  "And because my whole being is in a fever. Let us be happy, Vera. Be
  convinced that our conflict, our quarrelling was nothing but the mask of
  passion. The mask has fallen, and we have no other ground of dispute. In
  reality we have long been one. You ask for a love which shall be eternal;
  many desire that, but it is an impossibility."
  
  She stopped her reading to tell herself with a pitying smile that his
  conception of love was of a perpetual fever.
  
  "My mistake was in openly asserting this truth, which life itself would
  have revealed in due course. From this time onwards, I will not assail
  your convictions, for it is not they, but passion, which is the
  essential factor in our situation. Let us enjoy our happiness in silence.
  I hope that you will agree to this logical solution."
  
  Vera smiled bitterly as she continued to read.
  
  "They would hardly allow you to go away with me, and indeed that is
  hardly possible. Nothing but a wild passion could lead you to do such a
  thing, and I do not expect it. Other convictions, indifferent to me,
  would be needed to impel you to this course; you would be faced with a
  future which fulfils neither your own wishes nor the demands of your
  relations, for mine is an uncertain existence, without home, hearth or
  possessions. But if you think you can persuade your Grandmother, we will
  be betrothed, and I will remain here until--for an indefinite time. A
  separation now would be like a bad comedy, in which the unprofitable
  role is yours, at which Raisky, when he hears of it, will be the first
  to laugh. I warn you again now, as I did before. Send your reply to the
  address of my landlady, Sekletaia Burdalakov."
  
  In spite of her exhaustion after reading this epistle Vera took up the
  one which Yakob had just brought. It was hastily written in pencil.
  
  "Every day I have been wandering about by the precipice, hoping to see
  you in answer to my earlier letter. I have only just heard by chance of
  your indisposition. Come, Vera. If you are ill, write two words, and I
  will come myself to the old house. If I receive no answer to-day, I will
  expect you to-morrow at five o'clock in the arbour. I must know quickly
  whether I should go or stay. But I do not think we shall part. In any
  case, I expect either you or an answer. If you are ill, I will make my
  way into your house."
  
  Terrified by his threat of coming, she seized pen and paper, but her
  hands trembled too much to allow her to write.
  
  "I cannot," she exclaimed. "I have no strength, I am stifled! How shall
  I begin, and what can I write? I have forgotten how I used to write to
  him, to speak to him."
  
  She sent for Yakob, and told him to dismiss the messenger and to say
  that an answer would follow later. She wondered as she walked slowly
  back to her room, when she would find strength that day to write to him;
  what she should say. She could only repeat that she could not, and would
  not, and to-morrow she told herself, he would wait for her in the arbour,
  he would be wild with disappointment, and if he repeats his signals with
  the rifle he will come into conflict with the servants, and eventually
  with grandmother herself. She tried to write, but threw the pen aside;
  then she thought she would go to him herself, tell him all she had to
  say, and then leave him. As once before her hands sought in vain her
  mantilla, her scarf, and without knowing what she did, she sank
  helplessly down on the divan.
  
  If she told her grandmother the necessary steps would be taken, but
  otherwise the letters would begin again. Or should she send her cousin,
  who was after all her natural and nearest friend and protector, to
  convince Mark that there was no hope for him? But she considered that he
  also was in the toils of passion, and that it would be hard for him to
  execute the mission, that he might be involved in a heated dispute,
  which might develop into a dangerous situation. She turned to Tushin,
  whom she could trust to accomplish the errand effectively without
  blundering. But it seemed impossible to set Tushin face to face with the
  rival who had robbed him of his desires. Yet she saw no alternative. No
  delay was possible; to-morrow would bring another letter, and then,
  failing an answer, Mark himself.
  
  After brief consideration, she wrote a note to Tushin, and this time the
  same pen covered easily and quickly the same paper that had been so
  impracticable half an hour before. She asked him to come and see her the
  next morning.
  
  Until now Vera had been accustomed to guard her own secrets, and to
  exercise an undivided rule in the world of her thoughts. If she had
  given her confidence to the priest's wife, it was out of charity. She
  had confided to her the calendar of her everyday life, its events, its
  emotions and impressions; she had told her of her secret meetings with
  Mark, but concealed from her the catastrophe, telling her simply that
  all was over between them. As the priest's wife was ignorant of the
  dИnouement of the story at the foot of the precipice, she put down
  Vera's illness to grief at their parting.
  
  Vera loved Marfinka as she loved Natalie Ivanovna, not as a comrade, but
  as a child. In more peaceful times she would again confide the details
  of her life to Natalie Ivanovna as before; but in a crisis she went to
  Tatiana Markovna, sent for Tushin, or sought help from her cousin Boris.
  
  Now she put the letters in her pocket, found her aunt, and sat down
  beside her.
  
  "What has happened, Vera? You are upset."
  
  "Not upset, but worried. I have received letters, from _there_."
  
  "From _there_!" repeated Tatiana Markovna, turning pale.
  
  "The first was written some time ago, but I have only just opened it,
  and the second was brought to me to-day," she said, laying them both on
  the table.
  
  "You want me to know what is in them?"
  
  "Read them, Grandmother."
  
  Tatiana Markovna put on her glasses, and tried to read them, but she
  found that she could not decipher them, and eventually Vera had to read
  them. She read in a whisper, suppressing a phrase here and there; then
  she crumpled them up and put them back in her pocket.
  
  "What do you think, Veroshka?" asked Tatiana Markovna, uncertainly. "He
  is willing to be betrothed and to remain here. Perhaps if he is prepared
  to live like other people, if he loves you, and if you think you could
  be happy--"
  
  "He calls betrothal a comedy, and yet suggests it. He thinks that only
  that is needed to make me happy. Grandmother, you know my frame of mind;
  so why do you ask me?"
  
  "You came to me to ask me what you should decide," began Tatiana
  Markovna with some hesitation, as she did not yet understand why Vera
  had read her the letters. She was incensed at Mark's audacity, and
  feared that Vera herself might be seized with a return of her passion.
  For these reasons she concealed her anxiety.
  
  "It was not for that that I came to you, Grandmother. You know that my
  mind has long been made up. I will have no more to do with him. And if I
  am to breathe freely again, and to hope to be able to live once more, it
  is under the condition that I hear nothing of him, that I can forget
  everything. He reminds me of what has happened, calls me down there,
  seeks to allure me with talk of happiness, will marry me.... Gracious
  Heaven! Understand, Grandmother," she went on, as Tatiana Markovna's
  anxiety could no longer be concealed, "that if by a miracle he now
  became the man I hoped he would be, if he now were to believe all that I
  believe, and loved me as I desired to love him, even if all this
  happened I would not turn aside from my path at his call." No song could
  have been sweeter to the ears of Tatiana Markovna. "I should not be
  happy with him," Vera continued. "I could never forget what he had been,
  or believe in the new Mark. I have endured more than enough to kill any
  passion. There is nothing left in my heart but a cold emptiness, and but
  for you, Grandmother, I should despair."
  
  She wept convulsively, her head pressed against her aunt's shoulder.
  
  "Do not recall your sufferings, Veroshka, and do not distress yourself
  unnecessarily. We agreed never to speak of it again."
  
  "But for the letters I should not have spoken, for I need peace. Take me
  away, Grandmother, hide me, or I shall die. He calls me--to that place."
  
  Tatiana Markovna rose and drew Vera into the armchair, while she drew
  herself to her full height.
  
  "If that is so," she said, "if he thinks he can continue to annoy you,
  he will have to reckon with me. I will shield and protect you. Console
  yourself, child, you will hear no more of him."
  
  "What will you do?" she asked in amazement, springing from her chair.
  
  "He summons you. Well, I will go to the rendezvous in your place, and we
  will see if he calls you any more, or comes here, or writes to you." She
  strode up and down the room trembling with anger. "At what time does he
  go to the arbour to-morrow. At five, I think?" she asked sharply.
  
  "Grandmother, you don't understand," said Vera gently, taking her hand.
  "Calm yourself. I make no accusation against him. Never forget that I
  alone am guilty. He does not know what has happened to me during these
  days, and therefore he writes. Now it is necessary to explain to him how
  ill and spiritless I am, and you want to fight. I don't wish that. I
  would have written to him, but could not; and I have not the strength to
  see him. I would have asked Ivan Ivanovich, but you know how he cares
  for me and what hopes he cherishes. To bring him into contact with a man
  who has destroyed those hopes is impossible."
  
  "Impossible," agreed Tatiana Markovna. "God knows what might happen
  between them. You have a near relation, who knows all and loves you like
  a sister, Borushka."
  
  "If that were how he loved me," thought Vera. She did not mean to reveal
  Raisky's passion for her, which remained her secret.
  
  "Perhaps I will ask my cousin," she said. "Or I will collect my strength,
  and answer the letter myself, so as to make him understand my position
  and renounce all hope. But in the mean time, I must let him know so that
  he does not come to the arbour to wait in vain for me."
  
  "I will do that," struck in Tatiana Markovna.
  
  "But you will not go yourself?" asked Vera, looking direct into her eyes.
  "Remember that I make no complaint against him, and wish him no evil."
  
  "Nor do I," returned her aunt, looking away. "You may be assured I will
  not go myself, but I will arrange it so that he does not await you in
  the arbour."
  
  "Forgive me, Grandmother, for this fresh disturbance."
  
  Tatiana Markovna sighed, and kissed her niece. Vera left the room in a
  calmer frame of mind, wondering what means her aunt proposed to take to
  prevent Mark from coming next day to the arbour.
  
  Next day at noon Vera heard horse's hoofs at the gate. When she looked
  out of the window her eyes shone with pleasure for a moment, as she saw
  Tushin ride into the courtyard. She went to meet him.
  
  "I saw you from the window," she said, adding, as she looked at him,
  "Are you well?"
  
  "What else should I be?" he answered with embarrassment, turning his
  head away so that she should not notice the signs of suffering on his
  face. "And you?"
  
  "I fell ill, and my illness might have taken an ill turn, but now it is
  over. Where is Grandmother?" she asked, turning to Vassilissa.
  
  "The Mistress went out after tea, and took Savili with her."
  
  Vera invited Tushin to her room, but for the moment both were
  embarrassed.
  
  "Have you forgiven me?" asked Vera after a pause, without looking at him.
  
  "Forgiven you?"
  
  "For all you have endured. Ivan Ivanovich, you have changed. I can see
  that you carry a heavy heart. Your suffering and Grandmother's is a hard
  penance for me. But for you three, Grandmother, you, and Cousin Boris,
  I could not survive."
  
  "And yet you say that you give us pain. Look at me; I think I am better
  already. If you would only recover your own peace of mind it will all be
  over and forgotten."
  
  "I had begun to recover, and to forget. Marfinka's marriage is close at
  hand, there was a great deal to do and my attention was distracted, but
  yesterday I was violently excited, and am not quite calm now."
  
  "What has happened? Can I serve you, Vera Vassilievna?"
  
  "I cannot accept your service."
  
  "Because you do not think me able...."
  
  "Not that. You know all that has happened; read what I have received,"
  she said, taking the letters from a box, and handing them to him.
  
  Tushin read, and turned as pale as he had been when he arrived.
  
  "You are right. In this matter my assistance is superfluous. You alone
  can...."
  
  "I cannot, Ivan Ivanovich," she said, while he looked at her
  interrogatively. "I can neither write a word to him, nor see him; yet I
  must give him an answer. He will wait there in the arbour, or if I leave
  him without an answer he will come here, and I can do nothing."
  
  "What kind of answer?"
  
  "You ask the same question as Grandmother. Yet you have read the letter!
  He promises me happiness, will submit to a betrothal. Yesterday I tried
  to write to him to tell him that I was not happy, and should not be
  happy after betrothal, and to bid him farewell. But I cannot put these
  lines on paper, and I cannot commission anyone to deliver my answer.
  Grandmother flared up when she read the letter, and I fear she would not
  be able to restrain her feelings. So I...."
  
  "You thought of me," said Tushin, standing up. "Tushin, you thought,
  would do you this service, and then you sent for me." Pride, joy, and
  affection shone in his eyes.
  
  "No, Ivan Ivanovich. I sent for you, so that you might be at my side in
  these difficult hours. I am calmer when you are here. But I will not
  send you--down there, I will not inflict on you this last insult, will
  not set you face to face with a man, who cannot be an object of
  indifference to you--no, no."
  
  Tushin was about to speak, but instead he stretched out his hands in
  silence, and Vera looked at him with mixed feelings of gratitude and
  sorrow, as she realised with what small things he was made happy.
  
  "Insult!" he said. "It would have been hard to bear if you were to send
  me to him with an olive branch, to bring him up here from the depths of
  the precipice. But even though that dove-like errand would not suit me,
  I would still undertake it to give you peace, if I thought it would make
  you happy."
  
  "Ivan Ivanovich," replied Vera, hardly restraining her tears, "I believe
  you would have done it, but I would never send you."
  
  "But now I am not asked to go outside my rТle of Bear; to tell him what
  you cannot write to him, Vera Vassilievna, would give me happiness."
  
  She reflected that this was all the happiness with which she had to
  reward him, and dropped her eyes. His mood changed when he noticed her
  thoughtful, melancholy air; his proud bearing, the gleam in his eyes,
  and the colour in his face disappeared. He regretted his incautious
  display of pleasure. It seemed to him that his delight and his mention
  of the word "happiness!" had been tantamount to a renewal of his
  profession of love and the offer of his hand, and had betrayed to her
  the fact that he rejoiced selfishly at her breach with Mark.
  
  Vera guessed that he was deceiving himself once more. Her heart, her
  feminine instinct, her friendship, these things prevented Tushin from
  abandoning his hope; she gave what she could, an unconditional trust and
  a boundless esteem.
  
  "Yes, Ivan Ivanovich, I see now that I have placed my hopes on you,
  though I did not confess it to myself, and no one would have persuaded
  me to ask this service of you. But since you make the generous offer
  yourself, I am delighted, and thank you with all my heart. No one can
  help me as you do, because no one else loves me as you do."
  
  "You spoil me, Vera Vassilievna, when you talk like that. But it is true;
  you read my very soul."
  
  "Will it not be hard for you to see him."
  
  "No, I shan't faint," he smiled.
  
  "Go at five o'clock to the arbour and tell him...." She considered a
  moment, then scribbled with a pencil what she had said she wished to say
  without adding a word. "Here is my answer," she said, handing him the
  open envelope. "You may add anything you think necessary, for you know
  all. And don't forget, Ivan Ivanovich, that I blame him for nothing, and
  consequently," she added, looking away, "you may leave your whip
  behind."
  
  "Very well," he said between his teeth.
  
  "Forgive me," said Vera, offering her hand. "I do not say it as a
  reproach. I breathe more freely now that I have told you what I wish,
  and what I don't wish in your interview."
  
  "And you thought I needed the hint?"
  
  "Pardon a sick woman," she said, and he pressed her hand again.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXXIII
  
  
  A little later Tatiana Markovna and Raisky returned to the house.
  Raisky and Tushin were embarrassed in one another's presence, and found
  it difficult to talk naturally about the simplest things. But at the
  dinner-table the real sympathy between them conquered the awkwardness of
  the situation. They looked one another straight in the eyes and read
  there a mutual confidence. After dinner Raisky went to his room, and
  Tushin excused himself on the ground of business. Vera's thoughts
  followed him.
  
  It was nearly five o'clock when he was trying to find his direction in
  the thicket. Although he was no stranger there he seemed not to be able
  to find what he sought; he looked from side to side where the bushes
  grew more thickly, certain that he must be in the neighbourhood of the
  arbour. He stood still and looked impatiently at his watch. It was
  nearly five o'clock, and neither the arbour nor Mark were visible.
  
  Suddenly he heard a rustle in the distance, and among the young pines a
  figure appeared and disappeared alternately. Mark was approaching, and
  reached the place where Tushin was standing. They looked at one another
  a full minute when they met.
  
  "Where is the arbour?" said Mark at last.
  
  "I don't exactly know in which direction...."
  
  "In which direction? We are standing on the spot where it was still
  standing yesterday morning."
  
  The arbour had vanished to allow of the literal carrying out of Tatiana
  Markovna's promise that Mark should not wait for Vera in the arbour. An
  hour after her conversation with Vera she had descended the precipice,
  accompanied by Savili and five peasants with axes, and within two hours
  the arbour had been carried away, the peasant women and children helping
  to remove beams and boards. Next day the site of the arbour was levelled,
  covered with turf, and planted with young fir trees. "If I had had the
  arbour removed before," thought Tatiana Markovna regretfully, "the
  rascal would have noticed it, and would not have written her the
  letters."
  
  The situation was clear enough to the "rascal" now. "That is the old
  lady's handiwork," he thought, when he saw the young fir trees. "Her
  Vera, like a well-bred young woman, has told her the whole story." He
  nodded to Tushin, and was turning away, when he saw his rival's eyes
  were fixed on him.
  
  "Are you out for a stroll?" said Mark. "Why do you look at me in that
  extraordinary fashion? I suppose you are visiting at Malinovka."
  
  Tushin replied drily and politely that he was a visitor at the house,
  and had come down especially to see Mark.
  
  "To see me?" asked Mark quickly with a look of inquiry. Has he heard too?
  he wondered. He remembered that Tushin admired Vera and wondered whether
  the "Forest Othello" was meditating tragedy and murder on the green.
  
  "I have a commission for you," said Tushin, handing him the letter.
  
  Without betraying any sense of discomfort, or any sign of pain or rage
  Mark read it rapidly.
  
  "Do you know the whole story?" he asked.
  
  "Allow me to leave that question unanswered, and instead to ask you
  whether you have any answer to give," said Tushin.
  
  Mark shook his head.
  
  "I take it for granted, that, in accordance with her wish, you will
  leave her in peace in the future, that you will not remind her of your
  existence in any way, will not write to her, nor visit this place...."
  
  "What business is it of yours?" asked Mark. "Are you her declared lover,
  that you make these demands?"
  
  "One does not need to be her fiancИ to execute a commission; it is
  sufficient to be a friend."
  
  "And if I do write, or do come here, what then?" cried Mark angrily.
  
  "I cannot say how Vera Vassilievna would take it, but if she gives me
  another commission, I will undertake it," said Tushin.
  
  "You are an obedient friend," observed Mark maliciously.
  
  "Yes, I am her friend," replied Tushin seriously. "I thought her wish
  would be law to you too. She is just beginning to recover from a serious
  illness."
  
  "What is the matter with her?" said Mark, gently for him. As he received
  no answer he went on, "Excuse my outburst, but you see my agitation."
  
  "Calmness is desirable for you too. Is there any answer to this letter?"
  
  "I do not need your assistance for that. I will write."
  
  "She will not receive your letter. Her state of health necessitates
  quiet, which she cannot have if you force yourself on her. I tell you
  what was told me, and what I have seen for myself."
  
  "Do you wish her well?" asked Mark.
  
  "I do."
  
  "You see that she loves me. She has told you so."
  
  "She has not said so to me; indeed she never spoke of love. She gave me
  the letter I handed you, and asked me to make it clear that she did not
  wish, and was not indeed in a condition to see you or to receive any
  letter from you."
  
  "How ridiculous to make herself and other people suffer. If you are her
  friend you can relieve her of her misery, her illness, and her collapse
  of strength. The old lady has broken down the arbour, but she has not
  destroyed passion, and passion will break Vera. You say yourself she is
  ill."
  
  "I did not say that passion was the cause of her illness."
  
  "What can have made her ill?" asked Mark.
  
  "Your letters. You expect her in the arbour, and threaten to come to her
  yourself. That she cannot endure, and has asked me to tell you so."
  
  "She says that, but in reality...."
  
  "She always speaks the truth."
  
  "Why did she give you this commission?" Receiving no answer, Mark
  continued: "You have her confidence, and can therefore tell her how
  strange it is to refuse happiness. Advise her to put an end to the
  wretched situation, to renounce her Grandmother's morality, and then I
  propose...."
  
  "If you understood Vera Vassilievna, you would know that hers is one of
  those natures that declines explanations and advice."
  
  "You execute your errands most brilliantly and diplomatically," said
  Mark angrily.
  
  Tushin looked at him without replying, and his calm silence enraged Mark.
  He saw in the disappearance of the arbour and the appearance on the
  scene of Tushin as a mediator, the certain end of his hopes. Vera's
  hesitation was over, and she was now firmly determined on separation.
  
  He was enraged by his consciousness that Vera's illness was really not
  the result of her infatuation for him, which she would not have
  confessed to her aunt, much less to Tushin. Mark knew her obstinacy,
  which resisted even the flame of passion, and on that very account he
  had, almost in despair, resigned himself to submit to a formal betrothal,
  and had communicated his decision to her, had consented to remain in the
  town indefinitely, that is, so long as the tie between them held.
  Convinced of the truth of his conception of love, he foresaw that in the
  course of time passion would grow cool and disappear, that they would
  not for ever be held by it, and then.... Then, he was convinced, Vera
  would herself recognise the situation, and acquiesce in the consequences.
  
  And now his offer had become superfluous; no one was prepared to accept
  it, and he was simply to be dismissed.
  
  "I do not know what to do," he said proudly. "I cannot find any answer
  to your diplomatic mission. Naturally, I shall not again visit the
  arbour, as it has ceased to exist."
  
  "And you will write no more letters either," added Tushin, "as they
  would not in any case reach her. Neither will you come to the house,
  where you would not be admitted."
  
  "Are you her guardian?"
  
  "That would depend on Vera Vassilievna's wishes. There is a mistress of
  the house who commands her servants. I take it that you accept the
  facts."
  
  "The devil knows," cried Mark, "how ridiculous all this is. Mankind have
  forged chains for themselves, and make martyrs of themselves." Although
  he still justified himself in making no reply, he felt that his position
  was untenable. "I am leaving the place shortly," he said, "in about a
  week's time. Can I not see Vera--Vassilievna for a minute?"
  
  "That cannot be arranged, because she is ill."
  
  "Is any pressure being put upon her?"
  
  "She requires only one medicine--not to be reminded of you."
  
  "I do not place entire confidence in you, because you do not appear to
  me to be an indifferent party."
  
  Tushin did not answer in the same tone. He understood Mark's feeling of
  bitter disillusion, and made another attempt at conciliation. "If you do
  not trust me," he said, "you hold the evidence in your hand."
  
  "A dismissal. Yes, but that proves nothing. Passion is a sea, where
  storm reigns to-day, and tomorrow dead calm. Perhaps she already repents
  having sent this."
  
  "I think not. She takes counsel with herself before acting. It is plain
  from your last words that you don't understand Vera Vassilievna. You
  will, of course, act in accordance with her wishes. I will not insist
  any more on an answer."
  
  "There is no answer to give. I am going away."
  
  "That is an answer."
  
  "It is not she who needs an answer, but you, the romantic Raisky, and
  the old lady."
  
  "Why not include the whole town! But I will take on myself to assure
  Vera Vassilievna that your answer will be literally carried out.
  Farewell."
  
  "Farewell ... Sir Knight."
  
  Tushin frowned slightly, touched his cap, and was gone.
  
  Mark's face was very pale. He recognised bitterly that he was beaten,
  that his romance ended here at the foot of the precipice, which he must
  leave without once turning round, with no pity, no word of farewell to
  speed him; he was bidden to go as if he were a contemptible enemy. Why
  had all this come about? He was not conscious of any fault. Why should
  he part from her like this. She could not pretend that he had been the
  cause of what old-fashioned people would call her "fall." He had gone so
  far as to belie his own convictions, to neglect his mission, and was
  even prepared to contemplate marriage. Yet he received a laconic note
  instead of a friendly letter, a go-between instead of herself. It was as
  if he had been struck with a knife, and a cold shiver ran through his
  body. It was not the old lady who had invented these measures, for Vera
  did not allow others to dictate to her. It must have been she herself.
  What had he done, and why should she act with such severity?
  He went slowly away. When he reached the fence he swung himself on to
  the top and sat there, asking himself again where his fault lay. He
  remembered that at their last meeting he had fairly warned her. He had
  said in effect: "Remember that I have warned you. If you stretch out
  your hand to me you are mine, and the responsibility for the
  consequences rests with you; I am innocent." That was surely logical, he
  thought. Suddenly he sprang down on to the road, and went without
  looking back. He remembered how at this very spot he had prepared to
  leave her. But he heard her nervous, despairing cry of farewell, and had
  then looked round and rushed to her. As he answered these questions his
  blood hammered in his veins. He strode up the hill. The knife had done
  its work; it bored deeper and deeper. Memory pitilessly revived a series
  of fleeting pictures. The inner voice told him that he had not acted
  honourably, and spared her when her strength had failed.
  
  She used to call you a "Wolf" in jest, but the name will be no jest in
  her memory, for you joined to the fierceness of a wolf a fox's cunning
  and the malice of a yapping dog; there was nothing human about you. She
  took with her from the depths of the precipice nothing but a bitter
  memory and a lifelong sorrow. How could she be so blind as to be led
  astray, to let herself be dazzled, to forget herself? You may triumph,
  for she will never forget you.
  
  He understood now the laconic note, her illness and the appearance of
  Tushin instead of herself at the foot of the precipice.
  
  Leonti told Raisky that Mark had informed him that he was going to spend
  some time with his old aunt in the government of Novgorod; he intended
  to enter the army once more as an ensign, in the hope of being sent to
  the Caucasus.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXXIV
  
  
  Raisky and Tushin had been talking all the evening, and for the first
  time in their lives observed one another closely, with the result that
  both felt a desire for a closer acquaintance. Tushin asked Raisky to be
  his guest for a week, to have a look at the forest, the steam-saw, and
  the timber industry. Raisky accepted, and the next day they crossed the
  river together in Tushin's boat.
  
  Vera's name did not cross their lips. Each was conscious that the other
  knew his secret. Raisky in any case had learned of Tushin's offer, of
  his behaviour on that occasion, and of his part in the whole drama from
  Vera herself. His jealous prejudices had instantly vanished, and he felt
  nothing but esteem and sympathy for Tushin. As he studied the
  personality of Vera's friend, as his fancy did him its usual service of
  putting the object, not in itself a romantic one, in the best light, he
  admired Tushin's simplicity and frankness.
  
  After a week spent at "Smoke," after seeing him at home, in the factory,
  in field and forest, after talking through the night with him by the
  flickering light of the fire, he understood how Vera's eye and heart
  should have recognised the simple completeness of the man and placed
  Tushin side by side with Tatiana Markovna and her sister in her
  affections. Raisky himself was attracted to this simple, gentle and yet
  strong personality, and would like to have stayed longer at "Smoke," but
  Tatiana Markovna wrote asking him to return without delay as his
  presence was necessary at Malinovka.
  
  Tushin offered to drive with him, for company's sake, as he said; in
  reality he wanted to know why Tatiana Markovna had sent for Raisky,
  whether there was a new turn in Vera's affairs, or any service to be
  rendered her. He remembered uncomfortably his meeting with Mark, and how
  unwillingly he had said that he was going away. Tushin wondered
  anxiously whether he had kept his promise, whether he was annoying Vera
  in any way.
  
  When Raisky reached Malinovka he hurried straight to Vera. While his
  impressions were still fresh, he drew in vivid colours a full length
  portrait of Tushin, describing his surroundings and his activities with
  sympathetic appreciation.
  
  Vera sighed, perhaps for sorrow that she did not love Tushin more and
  differently.
  
  Raisky would have gone on talking about his visit if he had not had a
  message from his aunt that she would like to see him immediately. He
  asked Vera if she knew why he had been sent for.
  
  "I know something is wrong, but she has not told me, and I don't like to
  ask. Indeed, I fear...."
  
  She broke off, and at that moment Tushin sent in word to know if she
  would receive him. She assented.
  
  When Raisky entered her room, Tatiana Markovna dismissed Pashutka and
  locked the door. She looked worried and old, and her appearance
  terrified Raisky.
  
  "Has something disagreeable happened?" he asked, sitting down opposite
  her.
  
  "What is done is done," she said sadly.
  
  "I am sitting on needles, Grandmother. Tell me quickly."
  
  "That old thief Tychkov has had his revenge on us both. He wormed out a
  tale about me from a crazy old woman, but this has had no special
  results, for people are indifferent to the past, and in any case I stand
  with one foot in the grave, and don't care about myself, but Vera--"
  
  "What about Vera, Grandmother?"
  
  "Her secret has ceased to be a secret. Rumours are going about the town.
  At first I did not understand why on Sunday at church, the
  Vice-governor's wife asked me twice after Vera's health, and why two other
  ladies listened curiously for my answers. I looked round, and read on
  every face the same question, what was the matter with Vera? I said she
  had been ill, but was better again. Then there were further questions,
  and I extricated myself with difficulty. The real misfortune, thank God,
  is concealed. I learned from Tiet Nikonich yesterday, that the gossip is
  on the wrong track. Ivan Ivanovich is suspected. Do you remember that on
  Marfinka's birthday he said not a word, but sat there like a mute, until
  Vera came in, when he suddenly woke up. The guests, of course, noticed
  it. In any case it has long been no secret that he loves Vera, and he
  has no arts of concealment. People said that they vanished into the
  garden, that Vera went later to the old house and Tushin drove away. Do
  you know what he came for?"
  
  Raisky nodded.
  
  "Vera and Tushin are coupled together in everybody's mouth."
  
  "You said that Tychkov had dragged me in too."
  
  "Paulina Karpovna did that. She went out to find you in the evening when
  you were out late with Vera. You said something to her, apparently in
  jest, which she understood in her own way, and she has involved you.
  They say she had alienated you from Vera, with whom you were supposed to
  be in love, and she keeps on repeating that she dragged you from the
  precipice. What had you to do with her, and what is the tale about Vera?
  Perhaps you had been in her confidence for a long time, and you both
  kept silence with me--this is what your freedom has brought you to." She
  sighed.
  
  "That silly old bird got off too easily," said Raisky, clenching his
  fists. "To-morrow I will have it out with her."
  
  "You have found someone whom you can call to account. What is the use of
  reproaching her? She is ridiculous, and no one cares what she says. But
  the old chatterbox Tychkov has established that on Marfinka's birthday,
  Vera and Tushin had a long conversation in the avenue, that the day
  before she stayed out far into the night, and was subsequently ill, and
  he has put his own construction on Paulina Karpovna's tale. He is
  trumpeting it in the town that it was not with you, but with Tushin that
  she was walking about at night. Then to crown all a drunken old woman
  made revelations about me. Tychkov has extracted everything...."
  
  Tatiana's eyes dropped, and her face flushed for a moment.
  
  "That is another story," said Raisky seriously, striding up and down the
  room. "The lesson you gave him was not sufficient. I will try a
  repetition of it."
  
  "What do you mean? God forbid that you should. You will try to prove
  that the tale is not true, which is not difficult; it is only necessary
  to know where Ivan Ivanovich spent the evening before Marfinka's
  birthday. Supposing he was in his forest, then people will ask who was
  with Vera in the park. The Kritzki woman saw you at the top of the
  precipice, and Vera was--"
  
  "What is to be done?" asked Raisky in fear for Vera.
  
  "God's judgments are put in the mouths of men," whispered Tatiana
  Markovna sadly, "and they must not be despised. We must humble ourselves,
  and our cup is apparently not yet full."
  
  Conscious of the difficulties of their position, both were silent.
  Vera's retired way of life, Tushin's devotion to her, her independence
  of her aunt's authority, were familiar and accustomed facts. But
  Raisky's attentions to her wrapped this simple situation in an
  uncertainty, which Paulina Karpovna had noticed, and had naturally not
  kept to herself. It was not only Tatiana Markovna who had marked out
  Tushin as Vera's probable husband. The town expected two great events,
  Marfinka's marriage with Vikentev which was about to take place, and, in
  no distant future, Tushin's marriage with Vera. Then suddenly there were
  these incomprehensible, unexpected happenings. On her sister's birthday
  Vera appeared among the guests only for a moment, hardly spoke to anyone,
  then vanished into the garden with Tushin, and afterwards to the old
  house, while Tushin left without even saying good-bye to his hostess.
  
  Paulina Markovna had related how Raisky, on the eve of the family
  festival, had gone out for a walk with Vera.
  
  Following on this Vera had fallen ill, then Tatiana Markovna, no one was
  admitted to the house, Raisky wandered about like one possessed, and the
  doctors gave no definite report.
  
  There was no word or sign of a wedding. Why had Tushin not made his
  offer, and if he made it, why was it not accepted? People surmised that
  Raisky had entrapped Vera; if so, why did he not marry her. They were
  determined to know who was wrong and who was right, and to give judgment
  accordingly. Both Tatiana Markovna and Raisky were conscious of all this,
  and feared the verdict for Vera's sake.
  
  "Grandmother," said Raisky at last, "you must tell Ivan Ivanovich this
  yourself, and be guided by what he says. I know his character now, and
  am confident that he will decide on the right course. He loves Vera, and
  cares more for what happens to her than to himself. He came over the
  Volga with me because your letter to me made him anxious about Vera.
  When you have talked this over with him, I will go to Paulina Karpovna,
  and perhaps see Tychkov as well."
  
  "I am determined you shall not meet Tychkov."
  
  "I must," replied Raisky.
  
  "I will not have it, Boris. No good can come of it. I will follow your
  advice and speak to Ivan Ivanovich; then we will see whether you need go
  to Paulina Karpovna. Ask Ivan Ivanovich to come here, but say not a word
  to Vera. She has heard nothing so far, and God grant that she never
  will."
  
  Raisky went to Vera, and his place with Tatiana Markovna was taken by
  Tushin.
  
  Tatiana Markovna could not disguise her agitation when Ivan Ivanovich
  entered her room. He made his bow in silence.
  
  "How did you find Vera?" she asked, after a pause.
  
  "She seemed to be well and calm."
  
  "God grant that she is! But how much trouble all this has caused you,"
  she added in a low voice, trying to avoid his eyes.
  
  "What does that matter, if Vera Vassilievna has peace."
  
  "She was beginning to recover, and I too felt happier, so long as our
  distress was concealed." Tushin started as if he had been shot. "Ivan
  Ivanovich," continued Tatiana Markovna, "there is all sorts of gossip in
  the town. Borushka and I in a moment of anger tore the mask from that
  hypocrite Tychkov--you have no doubt heard the story. Such an outburst
  ill fitted my years, but he had been blowing his own trumpet so
  abominably that it was unendurable. Now he, in his turn, is tearing the
  mask from us."
  
  "From you? I don't understand."
  
  "When he gossipped about me, no one took any heed, for I am already
  counted with my fathers. But with Vera it is different, and they have
  dragged your name into the affair."
  
  "Mine? with Vera Vassilievna's? Please tell me what the talk is."
  
  When Tatiana Markovna had told the story he asked what she wished him to
  do.
  
  "You must clear yourself," she said. "You have been beyond reproach all
  your life, and must be again. As soon as Marfinka's wedding is over I
  shall settle on my estate at Novosselovo for good. You should make haste
  to inform Tychkov that you were not in the town on the day before
  Marfinka's fЙte-day, and consequently could not have been at the
  precipice."
  
  "It ought to be done differently."
  
  "Do just as you like, Ivan Ivanovich. But what else can you say?"
  
  "I would rather not meet Tychkov. He may have heard through others that
  I certainly was in the town; I was spending a couple of days with a
  friend. I shall spread it about that I did visit the precipice on that
  evening with Vera Vassilievna, although that is not the case. I might
  add that I had offered her my hand and had met with a refusal, by which
  you, Tatiana Markovna, who gave me your approval, were aggrieved; that
  Vera Vassilievna felt bitterly the breach of our friendship. One might
  even speak of a distant hope ... of a promise...."
  
  "People will not be kept quiet by that, for a promise cannot always
  remain a promise."
  
  "It will be forgotten, Tatiana Markovna, especially if you, as you say,
  leave the neighbourhood. If it is not forgotten, and you and Vera
  Vassilievna are further disturbed, it is still possible," he added in a
  low tone, "to accept my proposal."
  
  "Ivan Ivanovich," said Tatiana Markovna reproachfully, "do you think
  Vera and I are capable of such a thing? Are we to avail ourselves of
  your past affection and your generosity merely to still malicious gossip,
  to stifle talk for which there is a basis of truth. Neither you nor Vera
  would find happiness in that way."
  
  "There is no question of generosity, Tatiana Markovna. If a forest
  stands in one's way, it must he hewn down; bold men see no barrier in
  the sea, and hew their way through the rock itself. Here there is no
  obstacle of forest, sea, or rock. I am bridging the precipice, and my
  feet will not tremble when I cross the bridge. Give me Vera Vassilievna.
  No devil should disturb my happiness or her peace of mind, if she lived
  to be a hundred. She will be my Tsaritsa, and in the peace that reigns
  in my forest will forget all that now oppresses her. You don't yet
  understand me!"
  
  "I do," whispered Tatiana Markovna tearfully, "but the decision does not
  lie with me."
  
  He passed his hands across his eyes and through his thick hair, then
  seized her hands.
  
  "Forgive me, I forgot the important point. It is not mountain, forest or
  sea, but an insurmountable obstacle that confronts me--Vera Vassilievna
  is not willing. She looks forward to a happier future than I can offer
  her. You sent for me to let me know of the gossip there is going about,
  in the view that it must be painful, didn't you? Do not let it disturb
  either yourself or Vera Vassilievna, but take her away, so that no word
  of it penetrates to her ears. In the meantime I will spread in the town
  the account we have discussed. That man," he could not bring Mark's name
  over his lips, "leaves the town to-morrow or the day after, and all will
  be forgotten. As for me, since it is decided that Vera Vassilievna is
  not to be my wife, it does not matter whether I die or live."
  
  Tatiana Markovna, pale and trembling, interrupted him.
  
  "She will be your wife," she said, "when she has learnt to forget. I
  understand for the first time how you love Vera."
  
  "Do not lure me on with false hopes, for I am not a boy. Who can give me
  security that Vera Vassilievna will ever...."
  
  "I give you that security."
  
  His eyes shone with gratitude as he took her hand. Tatiana Markovna felt
  that she had gone too far, and had promised more than she could perform.
  She withdrew her hand, and said soothingly: "She is still very unhappy,
  and would not understand at present. First of all she must be left
  alone."
  
  "I will wait and hope," he said in a low tone. "If only I might, like
  Vikentev, call you Grandmother."
  
  She signed to him to leave her. When he had gone she dropped on to her
  chair, and covered her face with her handkerchief.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXXV
  
  
  Raisky had written to Paulina Karpovna asking her if he might call the
  next day about one o'clock. Her answer ran: "_CharmИe, j'attends...._"
  and so on.
  
  He found her in her boudoir in a stifling atmosphere of burning incense,
  with curtains drawn to produce a mysterious twilight. She wore a white
  muslin frock with wide lace sleeves, with a yellow dahlia at her breast.
  Near the divan was placed a sumptuously spread table with covers for two.
  
  Raisky explained that he had come to make a farewell call.
  
  "A farewell call! I won't hear of such a thing. You are joking, it is a
  bad joke! No, no! Smile and take back the hated word," she protested,
  slipping her arm in his and leading him to the table. "Don't think of
  going away. _Vive l'amour et la joie_."
  
  She invited him with a coquettish gesture to be seated, and hung a table
  napkin over his coat, as she might to a child. He devoted an excellent
  morning appetite to the food before him. She poured out champagne for
  him and watched him with tender admiration.
  
  After a longish pause when she had filled his glass for the third or
  fourth time she said: "Well, what have you to say about it?" Then as
  Raisky looked at her in amazement she continued: "I see, I see! Take off
  the mask, and have done with concealment."
  
  "Ah!" sighed Raisky, putting his lips to his glass. They drank to one
  another's health.
  
  "Do you remember that night," she murmured, "the night of love as you
  called it."
  
  "How should it fade from my memory," he whispered darkly. "That night
  was the decisive hour."
  
  "I knew it. A mere girl could not hold you ... _une nullitИ, cette
  pauvre petite fille, qui n'a que sa figure_ ... shy, inexperienced,
  devoid of elegance."
  
  "She could not. I have torn myself free."
  
  "And have found what you have long been seeking, have you not? What
  happened in the park to excite you so?"
  
  After a little fencing, Raisky proceeded with his story. "When I thought
  my happiness was within my grasp, I heard...."
  
  "Tushin was there?" whispered Paulina Karpovna, holding her breath.
  
  He nodded silently, and raised his glass once more.
  
  "_Dites tout_," she said with a malicious smile.
  
  "She was walking alone, lost in thought," he said in a confidential tone,
  while Paulina Karpovna played with her watch chain, and listened with
  strained attention. "I was at her heels, determined to have an answer
  from her. She took one or two steps down the face of the precipice, when
  someone suddenly came towards her."
  
  "He?"
  
  "He."
  
  "What did he do?"
  
  "'Good evening, Vera Vassilievna,' he said. 'How do you do?' She
  shuddered."
  
  "Hypocrisy!"
  
  "Not at all. I hid myself and listened. 'What are you doing here?' she
  said. 'I am spending two days in town,' he said, 'to be present at your
  sister's fЙte, and I have chosen that day.... Decide, Vera Vassilievna,
  whether I am to love or not."
  
  "_OЫ le sentiment va-t-il se nicher?_" exclaimed Paulina Karpovna.
  "Even in that clod."
  
  "'Ivan Ivanovich!' pleaded Vera," continued Raisky. "He interrupted her
  with 'Vera Vassilievna, decide whether to-morrow I should ask Tatiana
  Markovna for your hand, or throw myself into the Volga!'"
  
  "Those were his words?"
  
  "His very words."
  
  "_Mais, il est ridicule_. What did she do? She moaned, cried yes
  and no?"
  
  "She answered, 'No, Ivan Ivanovich, give me time to consider whether I
  can respond with the same deep affection that you feel for me. Give me
  six months, a year, and then I will answer "yes" or "no."' Your room is
  so hot, Paulina Karpovna, could we have a little air?"
  
  Raisky thought he had invented enough, and glanced up at his hostess,
  who wore an expression of disappointment.
  
  "_C'est tout?_" she asked.
  
  "_Oui_," he said. "In any case Tushin did not abandon hope. On the
  next day, Marfinka's birthday, he appeared again to hear her last word.
  From the precipice he went through the park, and she accompanied him. It
  seems that next day his hopes revived. Mine are for ever gone."
  
  "And that is all? People have been spreading God knows what tales about
  your cousin--and you. They have not even spared that saint Tatiana
  Markovna with their poisonous tongues. That unendurable Tychkov!"
  
  Raisky pricked up his ears. "They talk about Grandmother?" he asked
  waveringly.
  
  He remembered the hint Vera had given him of Tatiana Markovna's love
  story, and he had heard something from Vassilissa, but what woman has
  not her romance? They must have dug up some lie or some gossip out of
  the dust of forty years. He must know what it was in order to stop
  Tychkov's mouth.
  
  "What do they say about Grandmother?" he asked in a low, intimate voice.
  "_Ah, c'est degТutant_. No one believes it, and everybody is
  jeering at Tychkov for having debased himself to interrogate a
  drink-maddened old beggar-woman. I will not repeat it."
  
  "If you please," he whispered tenderly.
  
  "You wish to know?" she whispered, bending towards him. "Then you shall
  hear everything. This woman, who stands regularly in the porch of the
  Church of the Ascension, has been saying that Tiet Nikonich loved
  Tatiana Markovna, and she him."
  
  "I know that," he interrupted impatiently. "That is no crime."
  
  "And she was sought in marriage by the late Count Sergei Ivanovich--"
  
  "I have heard that, too. She did not agree, and the Count married
  somebody else, but she was forbidden to marry Tiet Nikonich. I have been
  told all that by Vassilissa. What did the drunken woman say?"
  
  "The Count is said to have surprised a rendezvous between Tatiana
  Markovna and Tiet Nikonich, and such a rendezvous.
  
  "No, no!" she cried, shaking with laughter. "Tatiana Markovna! Who would
  believe such a thing?"
  
  Raisky listened seriously, and surmises flitted across his mind.
  
  "The Count gave Tiet Nikonich a box on the ears."
  
  "That is a lie," cried Raisky, jumping up. "Tiet Nikonich would not have
  endured it."
  
  "A lie naturally--he did not endure it. He seized a garden knife that he
  found among the flowers, struck the Count to the ground, seized him by
  the throat, and would have killed him."
  
  Raisky's face changed. "Well?" he urged.
  
  "Tatiana Markovna restrained his hand. 'You are' she said, 'a nobleman,
  not a bandit, your weapon is a sword.' She succeeded in separating them,
  and a duel was not possible, for it would have compromised her. The
  opponents gave their word; the Count to keep silence over what had
  happened, and Tiet Nikonich not to marry Tatiana Markovna. That is why
  she remains unmarried. Is it not a shame to spread such calumnies?"
  
  Raisky could no longer contain his agitation, but he said, "You see it
  is a lie. Who could possibly have seen and heard what passed."
  
  "The gardener, who was asleep in a corner, is said to have witnessed the
  whole scene. He was a serf, and fear ensured his silence, but he told
  his wife, the drunken widow who is now chattering about it. Of course it
  is nonsense, incredible nonsense. I am the first to cry that it is a lie,
  a lie. Our respected and saintly Tatiana Markovna!" Paulina Karpovna
  burst out laughing, but checked herself when she looked at Raisky.
  
  "What is the matter? _Allons donc, oubliez tout. Vive la joie!_ Do
  not frown. We will send for more wine," she said, looking at him with
  her ridiculous, languishing air.
  
  "No, no, I am afraid--" He broke off, fearing to betray himself, and
  concluded lamely, "It would not agree with me--I am not accustomed to
  wine."
  
  He rose from his seat, and his hostess followed his example.
  
  "Good-bye, for ever," he said.
  
  "No, no," she cried.
  
  "I must escape from these dangerous places, from your precipices and
  abysses. Farewell, farewell!"
  
  He picked up his hat, and hurried away. Paulina Karpovna stood as if
  turned to stone, then rang the bell, and called for her carriage and for
  her maid to dress her, saying she had calls to pay.
  
  Raisky perceived that there was truth in the drunken woman's story, and
  that he held in his hand the key to his aunt's past. He realised now how
  she had grown to be the woman she was, and where she had won her
  strength, her practical wisdom, her knowledge of life and of men's
  hearts; he understood why she had won Vera's confidence, and had been
  able to calm her niece in spite of her own distress. Perhaps Vera, too,
  knew the story. While he had been manoeuvring to give another turn to
  the gossip about Vera's relations to himself and Tushin, he had lighted
  by chance on a forgotten but vivid page of his family history, on
  another drama no less dangerous to those who took part in it, and found
  that his whole soul was moved by this record of what had happened forty
  years ago.
  
  "Borushka!" cried Tatiana Markovna in horror, when he entered her room.
  "What has come to you, my friend? You have been drinking!" She looked
  keenly at him for a long minute, then turned away when she read in his
  tell-tale face that he, too, had heard the talk about her past self.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXXVI
  
  
  Against universal expectation, Marfinka's wedding was a quiet one, no
  one being invited except a few neighbouring landowners and the important
  personages in the town, about fifty guests in all. The young people were
  married in the village church on Sunday, after morning service, and
  afterwards in the hall, which had been transformed for the occasion, a
  formal breakfast was served without any of the gaiety and excitement
  usual to such occasions. The servants were most disappointed, for their
  mistress had taken precautions against their drinking to excess, which
  made the whole affair seem dull to them.
  
  Marfinka's trousseau and her contributions to the household had already
  been taken across the Volga, the process having occupied a full week.
  She herself shone with the charm of a rose grown to perfection; in her
  face a new emotion was visible which found expression now in a musing
  smile, now in a stray tear. Her face was shadowed with the consciousness
  of a new life, of a far stretching future with unknown duties, a new
  dignity and a new happiness. Vikentev wore an expression of modesty,
  almost of timidity, and was visibly affected.
  
  Raisky looked at the pretty bride with the emotions of a brother, but he
  had an impulse of terror when he noticed in her sheaf of orange blossom
  some faded blooms.
  
  "They are from the bouquet that Vera gave me for my birthday," she
  explained naively.
  
  Raisky pretended that withered flowers were a bad omen, and helped her
  to pick them out.
  
  When the time for their departure came, the bride had to be literally
  dragged sobbing from her aunt's breast, but her tears were tears of joy.
  Tatiana Markovna was pale, only maintaining her self-restraint with
  difficulty, and it was plain that she could only just stand as she
  looked out on the Volga after her departing child. Once at home again,
  she gave way to her tears. She knew that she possessed the almost
  undivided love of her other child, the passionate Vera, whose character
  had been ripened by bitter experience.
  
  Tushin stayed with a friend in the town for the wedding. Next day he
  came to Tatiana Markovna, accompanied by an architect, and they spent
  nearly a week over plans, going over the two houses, the gardens and the
  servants' quarters, making sketches and talking of radical alterations
  in the spring. Everything of value--furniture, pictures, even the
  parquet flooring--had been taken out of the old house and stored, partly
  in the new house, partly in outhouses and on the ground.
  
  Tatiana Markovna and Vera intended to go to Novosselovo, and later on to
  visit the Vikentevs; for the summer they were invited to be the guests
  of Anna Ivanovna, Tushin's sister, at "Smoke." Tatiana Markovna had
  given no definite answer to the suggestion, saying that it must be "as
  God wills." In any case Tushin was making the necessary arrangements
  with the architect, and intended to make extensive alterations in his
  house for the reception of the honoured visitors.
  
  Raisky stayed in his rooms in the new house, but Leonti had returned to
  his own home for the time being, to return to Malinovka after the
  departure of Tatiana Markovna and Vera. He, too, had been invited by
  Tushin to "Smoke," but Leonti had answered with a sigh, "Later in the
  winter. Just now I am expecting...." and had broken off to look out on to
  the road from Moscow. He was in fact expecting a letter from his wife in
  answer to one he had just written. Not long before, Juliana Andreevna
  had written to their housekeeper and had asked her to send her winter
  cloak. She indicated the address, but said not a word about her husband.
  Leonti dispatched the cloak himself with a glowing letter in which he
  asked her to come, and spoke of his love and friendship.
  
  The poor man received no reply. Gradually he resumed his teaching,
  though he still betrayed his melancholy now and again during the lessons,
  and was apt to be absentminded and unconscious of the behaviour of his
  scholars, who took pitiless advantage of his helplessness.
  
  Tushin had offered to look after Malinovka during Tatiana Markovna's
  absence. He called it his winter quarters and made a point of crossing
  the Volga every week to give an eye to the house, the farm yard and the
  servants, of whom only Vassilissa, Egor, the cook and the coachman
  accompanied their mistress to Novosselovo. Yakob and Savili were put
  especially at Tushin's disposition.
  
  Raisky proposed to leave a week after the wedding.
  
  Tiet Nikonich was in the most melancholy plight of all. At any other
  time he would have followed Tatiana Markovna to the end of the world,
  but after the outbreak of gossip it would have been unsuitable to follow
  her for the moment, because it might have given colour to the talk about
  them which was half-believed and already partly forgotten. Tatiana
  Markovna, however, said he might come at Christmas, and by that time
  perhaps circumstances would permit him to stay. In the meantime, he
  accepted Tushin's invitation to be his guest at "Smoke."
  
  The gossip about Vera had given ground to the universal expectation of
  her marriage with Tushin. Tatiana Markovna hoped that time would heal
  all her wounds, but she recognised that Vera's case stood in a category
  by itself, and that ordinary rules did not apply to it. No rumour
  reached Vera, who continued to see in Tushin the friend of long standing,
  who was all the dearer to her since he had stretched out to her his
  helping hand.
  
  In the last days before his departure Raisky had gone through and sorted
  his sketches and notebooks, and had selected from his novel those pages
  which bore reference to Vera. In the last night that he spent under the
  roof of home he decided to begin his plot then and there, and sat down
  to his writing-table. He determined that one chapter at least should be
  written. "When my passion is past," he told himself, "when I no longer
  stand in the presence of these men, with their comedy and their tragedy,
  the picture will be clearer and in perspective. I already see the
  splendid form emerge fresh from the hand of its creator, I see my statue,
  whose majesty is undefiled by the common and the mean." He rose, walked
  up and down the room, and thought over the first chapter. After half an
  hour's meditation he sat down and rested his head on his hands.
  Weariness invaded him, and as it was uncomfortable to doze in a sitting
  posture he lay down on the sofa. Very soon he fell asleep, and there was
  a sound of regular breathing.
  
  When he woke it was beginning to get light. He sprang up hastily and
  looked round in astonishment, as if he had seen something new and
  unexpected in his dreams.
  
  "In my dream, even, I saw a statue," he said to himself. "What does it
  mean? Is it an omen?"
  
  He went to the table, read the introduction he had written, and sighed.
  "What use do I make of my powers?" he cried. "Another year is gone." He
  angrily thrust the manuscript aside to look for a letter he had received
  a month ago from the sculptor Kirilov, and sat down at the table to
  answer it.
  
  "In my sound and clear mind, dear Kirilov, I hasten to give you
  the first intimation of the new and unexpected perspective of
  my art and my activity. I write in answer to the letter in which
  you tell me that you are going to visit Italy and Rome. I am
  coming to St. Petersburg; so for God's sake wait for me and I
  will travel with you. Take me with you, and have pity on a blind,
  insane individual, who has only to-day had his eyes opened to his
  real calling. I have groped about in the darkness for a long time,
  and have very nearly committed suicide, that is, let my talent
  perish. You discovered talent in my pictures, but instead of
  devoting myself solely to my brush I have dabbled in music, in
  literature--have dissipated my energies. I meant to write a novel,
  and neither you nor anybody else prevented me and told me that I
  am a sculptor, a classical artist. A Venus of living marble is
  born of my imagination. Is it then my cue to introduce psychology
  into my pictures, to describe manners and customs? Surely not, my
  art is concerned with form and beauty.
  
  "For the novelist quite other qualities are required, and years
  of labour are necessary. I would spare neither time nor endeavour
  if I thought that my talent lay in my pen. In any case, I will
  keep my notes--or perhaps no!--I must not deceive myself by
  harbouring an uncertain hope. I cannot accomplish what I have in
  mind with the pen. The analysis of the complicated mechanism of
  human nature is contrary to my nature. My gift is to comprehend
  beauty, to model it in clear and lovely forms.... I shall keep
  those notes to remind me of what I have seen, experienced, and
  suffered.
  
  "If the art of sculpture fails me I will humiliate myself,
  and seek out, wherever he may be, the man (his name is Mark
  Volokov) who first doubted the completion of my novel and will
  confess to him, 'You are right, right, I am only half a man!'
  But until that time comes, I will live and hope.
  
  "Let us go to Rome, Rome. There dwells Art, not snobbishness
  and empty pastime; there is work, enjoyment, life itself. To our
  early meeting!"
  
  The house was early astir to bid Raisky Godspeed. Tushin and the young
  Vikentevs had come, Marfinka, a marvel of beauty, amiability and shyness.
  Tatiana Markovna looked sad, but she pulled herself together and avoided
  sentiment.
  
  "Stay with us," she said reproachfully. "You do not even know, yourself,
  where you are going."
  
  "To Rome, Grandmother."
  
  "What for? To see the Pope?"
  
  "To be a sculptor."
  
  "Wha-at?"
  
  Marfinka also begged him to stay. Vera did not add her voice to the
  request, because she knew he would not stay; she thought sorrowfully
  that his manifold talents had not developed so far to give the pleasure
  they should do to himself and others.
  
  "Cousin," she said, "if ever you grow weary of your existence abroad,
  will you come back to glance at this place where you are now at last
  understood and loved?"
  
  "Certainly I will, Vera. My heart has found a real home here.
  Grandmother, Marfinka and you are my dear family; I shall never form new
  domestic ties. You will always be present with me wherever I go, but now
  do not seek to detain me. My imagination drives me away, and my head is
  whirling with ideas, but in less than a year I shall have completed a
  statue of you in marble."
  
  "What about the novel?" she asked, laughing.
  
  "When I am dead anyone who has a fancy for them may examine my papers,
  and will find material enough. But my immediate intention is to
  represent your head and shoulders in marble."
  
  "Before the year is out you will fall in love with somebody else, and
  will not know which to choose as your model."
  
  "I may fall in love, but I shall never love anyone as I do you. I will
  carve your statue in marble, for you always stand vividly before my eyes.
  That is certain," he concluded emphatically, as he caught her smiling
  glance.
  
  "Certain again!" interrupted Tatiana Markovna. "I don't know what you
  are discussing there, but I know that when you say 'certain,' Boris, it
  is safe to say that nothing will come of it."
  
  Raisky went up to Tushin, who was sitting in a corner silently watching
  the scene.
  
  "I hope, Ivan Ivanovich, that what we all wish will be accomplished," he
  said.
  
  "All of us, Boris Pavlovich? Do you think it will be accomplished?"
  
  "I think so; it could hardly be otherwise. Promise to let me know
  wherever I am, because I wish to hold the marriage crown over Vera's
  head at the ceremony."
  
  "I promise."
  
  "And I promise to come."
  
  Leonti took Raisky on one side, gave him a letter for Juliana Andreevna,
  and begged him to seek her out.
  
  "Speak to her conscience," he said. "If she agrees to return, telegraph
  to me, and I will travel to Moscow to meet her."
  
  Raisky promised, but advised him, in the meantime, to rest and to spend
  the winter with Tushin.
  
  The whole party surrounded the travelling carriage. Marfinka wept
  copiously, and Vikentev had already provided her with no less than five
  handkerchiefs. When Raisky had taken his seat he looked out once more,
  and exchanged glances with Tatiana Markovna, with Vera and with Tushin.
  The common experience and suffering of the six months, which had drawn
  them so closely together, passed before his vision with the rapidity,
  the varying tone and colour, and the vagueness of a dream.
  
  
  
  
  CHAPTER XXXVII
  
  
  As soon as Raisky reached St. Petersburg he hurried off to find Kirilov.
  He felt an impulse to touch his friend to assure himself that Kirilov
  really stood before him, and that he had not started on the journey
  without him. He repeated to him his ardent confidence that his artistic
  future lay in sculpture.
  
  "What new fancy is this?" asked Kirilov, frowning and plainly expressing
  his mistrust. "When I got your letter I thought you were mad. You have
  one talent already; why do you want to follow a sidetrack. Take your
  pencil, go to the Academy, and buy this," he said, showing him a thick
  book of lithographed anatomical drawings. "What do you want with
  sculpture? It is too late."
  
  "I feel I have the right touch here," he said, rubbing his fingers one
  against the other.
  
  "Whether you have the right touch or not, it is too late."
  
  "Why too late? There is an ensign I know who wields the chisel with
  great success."
  
  "An ensign, yes! But you, with your grey hair...." Kirilov emphasised
  his remarks with a vigorous shake of the head.
  
  Raisky would wrangle with him no longer. He spent three weeks in the
  studio of a sculptor, and made acquaintance with the students there. At
  home he worked zealously; visited with the sculptor and his students the
  Isaac Cathedral, where he stood in admiration before the work of Vitali;
  and he spent many hours in the galleries of the Hermitage. Overwhelmed
  with enthusiasm he urged Kirilov to start at once for Italy and Rome.
  
  He had not forgotten Leonti's commission, and sought out Juliana
  Andreevna in her lodgings. When he entered the corridor he heard the
  strains of a waltz and, he thought, the voice of Koslov's wife. He sent
  in his name and with it Leonti's letter. After a time the servant, with
  an air of embarrassment, came to tell him that Juliana Andreevna had
  gone with a party of friends to Zarskoe-Selo, and would travel direct
  from there to Moscow. Raisky did not think it necessary to mention this
  incident to Leonti.
  
  His former guardian had sent him a considerable sum raised by the
  mortgage of his estate, and with this in hand he set out with Kirilov at
  the beginning of January for Dresden. He spent many hours of every day
  in the gallery, and paid an occasional visit to the theatre. Raisky
  pressed his fellow-traveller to go farther afield; he wanted to go to
  Holland, to England, to Paris.
  
  "What should I do in England?" asked Kirilov. "There, all the
  art-treasures are in private galleries to which we have no access, and the
  public museums are not rich in great works of art. If you are determined
  to go, you must go by yourself from Holland. I will wait for you in
  Paris."
  
  Raisky agreed to this proposition. He only stayed a fortnight in England,
  however, and was very much impressed by the mighty sea of social life.
  Then he hastened back to his eager study of the rich art treasures of
  Paris; but he could not possess his soul in the confusion and noisy
  merriment, in the incessant entertainments of Paris.
  
  In the early spring the friends crossed the Alps. Even while he
  abandoned himself to the new impressions which nature, art, and a
  different race made on his mind, Raisky found that the dearest and
  nearest ties still connected him with Tatiana Markovna, Vera and
  Marfinka. When he watched the towering crests of the waves at sea or the
  snow-clad mountain tops his imagination brought before him his aunt's
  noble grey head; her eyes looked at him from the portraits of Velasquez
  and Gerard Dow, just as Murillo's women reminded him of Vera, and he
  recalled Marfinka's charming face as he looked at the masterpieces of
  Greuze, or even at the women of Raphael. Vera's form flitted before him
  on the mountain side; he saw once more before him the precipice
  overlooking the narrow plain of the Volga, and fought over again the
  despairing struggle from which he had emerged. In the flowery valleys
  Vera beckoned to him under another aspect, offering her hand with her
  affectionate smile. So his memories followed him even as he contemplated
  the mighty figures of Nature, Art and History as they were revealed in
  the mountains and the plains of Italy.
  
  He gave himself up to these varied emotions with a passionate absorption
  which shook the foundations of his physical strength. In Rome he
  established himself in a studio which he shared with Kirilov, and spent
  much of his time in visiting the museums and the monuments of antiquity.
  Sometimes he felt he had suddenly lost his appreciation of natural
  beauty, and then he would shut himself up and work for days together.
  Another time he was absorbed in the crowded life of the city, which
  appeared to him as a great, crude, moving picture in which the life of
  bygone centuries was reflected as in a mirror.
  
  Through all the manifestations of this rich and glowing existence he
  remained faithful to his own family, and he was never more than a guest
  on the foreign soil. In his leisure hours his thoughts were turned
  homewards; he would have liked to absorb the eternal beauty of nature
  and art, to saturate himself with the history revealed in the monuments
  of Rome in order that he might take his spiritual and artistic gains
  back to Malinovka.
  
  The three figures of Vera, Marfinka, and his "little mother" Tatiana
  Markovna, stretched out beckoning hands to him; and calling him to
  herself with even greater insistence than these, was another, mightier
  figure, the "great mother," Russia herself.
  
   * * * * *
  
  THE END
  
  
  
  
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