The country-house in which Anna Sergyevna lived stood on an exposed hill at no great distance from a yellow stone church with a green roof, white columns, and a fresco over the principal entrance representing the 'Resurrection of Christ' in the 'Italian' style. Sprawling in the foreground of the picture was a swarthy warrior in a helmet, specially conspicuous for his rotund contours. Behind the church a long village stretched in two rows, with chimneys peeping out here and there above the thatched roofs. The manor-house was built in the same style as the church, the style known among us as that of Alexander; the house too was painted yellow, and had a green roof, and white columns, and a pediment with an escutcheon on it. The architect had designed both buildings with the approval of the deceased Odintsov, who could not endure—as he expressed it—idle and arbitrary innovations. The house was enclosed on both sides by the dark trees of an old garden; an avenue of lopped pines led up to the entrance.
Our friends were met in the hall by two tall footmen in livery; one of them at once ran for the steward. The steward, a stout man in a black dress coat, promptly appeared and led the visitors by a staircase covered with rugs to a special room, in which two bedsteads were already prepared for them with all necessaries for the toilet. It was clear that order reigned supreme in the house; everything was clean, everywhere there was a peculiar delicate fragrance, just as there is in the reception rooms of ministers.
'Anna Sergyevna asks you to come to her in half-an-hour,' the steward announced; 'will there be orders to give meanwhile?'
'No orders,' answered Bazarov; 'perhaps you will be so good as to trouble yourself to bring me a glass of vodka.'
'Yes, sir,' said the steward, looking in some perplexity, and he withdrew, his boots creaking as he walked.
'What grand genre!' remarked Bazarov. 'That's what it's called in your set, isn't it? She's a grand-duchess, and that's all about it.'
'A nice grand-duchess,' retorted Arkady, 'at the very first meeting she invited such great aristocrats as you and me to stay with her.'
'Especially me, a future doctor, and a doctor's son, and a village sexton's grandson.... You know, I suppose, I'm the grandson of a sexton? Like the great Speransky,' added Bazarov after a brief pause, contracting his lips. 'At any rate she likes to be comfortable; oh, doesn't she, this lady! Oughtn't we to put on evening dress?'
Arkady only shrugged his shoulders ... but he too was conscious of a little nervousness.
Half-an-hour later Bazarov and Arkady went together into the drawing-room. It was a large lofty room, furnished rather luxuriously but without particularly good taste. Heavy expensive furniture stood in the ordinary stiff arrangement along the walls, which were covered with cinnamon-coloured paper with gold flowers on it; Odintsov had ordered the furniture from Moscow through a friend and agent of his, a spirit merchant. Over a sofa in the centre of one wall hung a portrait of a faded light-haired man—and it seemed to look with displeasure at the visitors. 'It must be the late lamented,' Bazarov whispered to Arkady, and turning up his nose, he added, 'Hadn't we better bolt ...?' But at that instant the lady of the house entered. She wore a light barège dress; her hair smoothly combed back behind her ears gave a girlish expression to her pure and fresh face.
'Thank you for keeping your promise,' she began. 'You must stay a little while with me; it's really not bad here. I will introduce you to my sister; she plays the piano well. That is a matter of indifference to you, Monsieur Bazarov; but you, I think, Monsieur Kirsanov, are fond of music. Besides my sister I have an old aunt living with me, and one of our neighbours comes in sometimes to play cards; that makes up all our circle. And now let us sit down.'
Madame Odintsov delivered all this little speech with peculiar precision, as though she had learned it by heart; then she turned to Arkady. It appeared that her mother had known Arkady's mother, and had even been her confidante in her love for Nikolai Petrovitch. Arkady began talking with great warmth of his dead mother; while Bazarov fell to turning over albums. 'What a tame cat I'm getting!' he was thinking to himself.
A beautiful greyhound with a blue collar on, ran into the drawing-room, tapping on the floor with his paws, and after him entered a girl of eighteen, black-haired and dark-skinned, with a rather round but pleasing face, and small dark eyes. In her hands she held a basket filled with flowers.
'This is my Katya,' said Madame Odintsov, indicating her with a motion of her head. Katya made a slight curtsey, placed herself beside her sister, and began picking out flowers. The greyhound, whose name was Fifi, went up to both of the visitors, in turn wagging his tail, and thrusting his cold nose into their hands.
'Did you pick all that yourself?' asked Madame Odintsov.
'Yes,' answered Katya.
'Is auntie coming to tea?'
When Katya spoke, she had a very charming smile, sweet, timid, and candid, and looked up from under her eyebrows with a sort of humorous severity. Everything about her was still young and undeveloped; the voice, and the bloom on her whole face, and the rosy hands, with white palms, and the rather narrow shoulders.... She was constantly blushing and getting out of breath.
Madame Odintsov turned to Bazarov. 'You are looking at pictures from politeness, Yevgeny Vassilyitch,' she began. That does not interest you. You had better come nearer to us, and let us have a discussion about something.'
Bazarov went closer. 'What subject have you decided upon for discussion?' he said.
'What you like. I warn you, I am dreadfully argumentative.'
'Yes. That seems to surprise you. Why?'
'Because, as far as I can judge, you have a calm, cool character, and one must be impulsive to be argumentative.'
'How can you have had time to understand me so soon? In the first place, I am impatient and obstinate—you should ask Katya; and secondly, I am very easily carried away.'
Bazarov looked at Anna Sergyevna. 'Perhaps; you must know best. And so you are inclined for a discussion—by all means. I was looking through the views of the Saxon mountains in your album, and you remarked that that couldn't interest me. You said so, because you suppose me to have no feeling for art, and as a fact I haven't any; but these views might be interesting to me from a geological standpoint, for the formation of the mountains, for instance.'
'Excuse me; but as a geologist, you would sooner have recourse to a book, to a special work on the subject, and not to a drawing.'
'The drawing shows me at a glance what would be spread over ten pages in a book.'
Anna Sergyevna was silent for a little.
'And so you haven't the least artistic feeling?' she observed, putting her elbow on the table, and by that very action bringing her face nearer to Bazarov. 'How can you get on without it?'
'Why, what is it wanted for, may I ask?'
'Well, at least to enable one to study and understand men.'
Bazarov smiled. 'In the first place, experience of life does that; and in the second, I assure you, studying separate individuals is not worth the trouble. All people are like one another, in soul as in body; each of us has brain, spleen, heart, and lungs made alike; and the so-called moral qualities are the same in all; the slight variations are of no importance. A single human specimen is sufficient to judge of all by. People are like trees in a forest; no botanist would think of studying each individual birch-tree.'
Katya, who was arranging the flowers, one at a time in a leisurely fashion, lifted her eyes to Bazarov with a puzzled look, and meeting his rapid and careless glance, she crimsoned up to her ears. Anna Sergyevna shook her head.
'The trees in a forest,' she repeated. 'Then according to you there is no difference between the stupid and the clever person, between the good-natured and ill-natured?'
'No, there is a difference, just as between the sick and the healthy. The lungs of a consumptive patient are not in the same condition as yours and mine, though they are made on the same plan. We know approximately what physical diseases come from; moral diseases come from bad education, from all the nonsense people's heads are stuffed with from childhood up, from the defective state of society; in short, reform society, and there will be no diseases.'
Bazarov said all this with an air, as though he were all the while thinking to himself, 'Believe me or not, as you like, it's all one to me!' He slowly passed his fingers over his whiskers, while his eyes strayed about the room.
'And you conclude,' observed Anna Sergyevna, 'that when society is reformed, there will be no stupid nor wicked people?'
'At any rate, in a proper organisation of society, it will be absolutely the same whether a man is stupid or clever, wicked or good.'
'Yes, I understand; they will all have the same spleen.'
'Precisely so, madam.'
Madame Odintsov turned to Arkady. 'And what is your opinion, Arkady Nikolaevitch?'
'I agree with Yevgeny,' he answered.
Katya looked up at him from under her eyelids.
'You amaze me, gentlemen,' commented Madame Odintsov, 'but we will have more talk together. But now I hear my aunt coming to tea; we must spare her.'
Anna Sergyevna's aunt, Princess H——, a thin little woman with a pinched-up face, drawn together like a fist, and staring ill-natured-looking eyes under a grey front, came in, and, scarcely bowing to the guests, she dropped into a wide velvet covered arm-chair, upon which no one but herself was privileged to sit. Katya put a footstool under her feet; the old lady did not thank her, did not even look at her, only her hands shook under the yellow shawl, which almost covered her feeble body. The Princess liked yellow; her cap, too, had bright yellow ribbons.
'How have you slept, aunt?' inquired Madame Odintsov, raising her voice.
'That dog in here again,' the old lady muttered in reply, and noticing Fifi was making two hesitating steps in her direction, she cried, 'Ss——ss!'
Katya called Fifi and opened the door for him.
Fifi rushed out delighted, in the expectation of being taken out for a walk; but when he was left alone outside the door, he began scratching and whining. The princess scowled. Katya was about to go out....
'I expect tea is ready,' said Madame Odintsov.
'Come gentlemen; aunt, will you go in to tea?'
The princess got up from her chair without speaking and led the way out of the drawing-room. They all followed her in to the dining-room. A little page in livery drew back, with a scraping sound, from the table, an arm-chair covered with cushions, devoted to the princess's use; she sank into it; Katya in pouring out the tea handed her first a cup emblazoned with a heraldic crest. The old lady put some honey in her cup (she considered it both sinful and extravagant to drink tea with sugar in it, though she never spent a farthing herself on anything), and suddenly asked in a hoarse voice, 'And what does Prince Ivan write?'
No one made her any reply. Bazarov and Arkady soon guessed that they paid no attention to her though they treated her respectfully.
'Because of her grand family,' thought Bazarov....
After tea, Anna Sergyevna suggested they should go out for a walk; but it began to rain a little, and the whole party, with the exception of the princess, returned to the drawing-room. The neighbour, the devoted card-player, arrived; his name was Porfiry Platonitch, a stoutish, greyish man with short, spindly legs, very polite and ready to be amused. Anna Sergyevna, who still talked principally with Bazarov, asked him whether he'd like to try a contest with them in the old-fashioned way at preference? Bazarov assented, saying 'that he ought to prepare himself beforehand for the duties awaiting him as a country doctor.'
'You must be careful,' observed Anna Sergyevna; 'Porfiry Platonitch and I will beat you. And you, Katya,' she added, 'play something to Arkady Nikolaevitch; he is fond of music, and we can listen, too.'
Katya went unwillingly to the piano; and Arkady, though he certainly was fond of music, unwillingly followed her; it seemed to him that Madame Odintsov was sending him away, and already, like every young man at his age, he felt a vague and oppressive emotion surging up in his heart, like the forebodings of love. Katya raised the top of the piano, and not looking at Arkady, she said in a low voice—
'What am I to play you?'
'What you like,' answered Arkady indifferently.
'What sort of music do you like best?' repeated Katya, without changing her attitude.
'Classical,' Arkady answered in the same tone of voice.
'Do you like Mozart?'
'Yes, I like Mozart.'
Katya pulled out Mozart's Sonata-Fantasia in C minor. She played very well, though rather over correctly and precisely. She sat upright and immovable, her eyes fixed on the notes, and her lips tightly compressed, only at the end of the sonata her face glowed, her hair came loose, and a little lock fell on to her dark brow.
Arkady was particularly struck by the last part of the sonata, the part in which, in the midst of the bewitching gaiety of the careless melody, the pangs of such mournful, almost tragic suffering, suddenly break in.... But the ideas stirred in him by Mozart's music had no reference to Katya. Looking at her, he simply thought, 'Well, that young lady doesn't play badly, and she's not bad-looking either.'
When she had finished the sonata, Katya without taking her hands from the keys, asked, 'Is that enough?' Arkady declared that he could not venture to trouble her again, and began talking to her about Mozart; he asked her whether she had chosen that sonata herself, or some one had recommended it to her. But Katya answered him in monosyllables; she withdrew into herself, went back into her shell. When this happened to her, she did not very quickly come out again; her face even assumed at such times an obstinate, almost stupid expression. She was not exactly shy, but diffident, and rather overawed by her sister, who had educated her, and who had no suspicion of the fact. Arkady was reduced at last to calling Fifi to him, and with an affable smile patting him on the head to give himself an appearance of being at home.
Katya set to work again upon her flowers.
Bazarov meanwhile was losing and losing. Anna Sergyevna played cards in masterly fashion; Porfiry Platonitch, too, could hold his own in the game. Bazarov lost a sum which, though trifling in itself, was not altogether pleasant for him. At supper Anna Sergyevna again turned the conversation on botany.
'We will go for a walk to-morrow morning,' she said to him; 'I want you to teach me the Latin names of the wild flowers and their species.'
'What use are the Latin names to you?' asked Bazarov.
'Order is needed in everything,' she answered.
'What an exquisite woman Anna Sergyevna is!' cried Arkady, when he was alone with his friend in the room assigned to them.
'Yes,' answered Bazarov, 'a female with brains. Yes, and she's seen life too.'
'In what sense do you mean that, Yevgeny Vassilyitch?'
'In a good sense, a good sense, my dear friend, Arkady Nikolaevitch! I'm convinced she manages her estate capitally too. But what's splendid is not her, but her sister.'
'What, that little dark thing?'
'Yes, that little dark thing. She now is fresh and untouched, and shy and silent, and anything you like. She's worth educating and developing. You might make something fine out of her; but the other's—a stale loaf.'
Arkady made no reply to Bazarov, and each of them got into bed with rather singular thoughts in his head.
Anna Sergyevna, too, thought of her guests that evening. She liked Bazarov for the absence of gallantry in him, and even for his sharply defined views. She found in him something new, which she had not chanced to meet before, and she was curious.
Anna Sergyevna was a rather strange creature. Having no prejudices of any kind, having no strong convictions even, she never gave way or went out of her way for anything. She had seen many things very clearly; she had been interested in many things, but nothing had completely satisfied her; indeed, she hardly desired complete satisfaction. Her intellect was at the same time inquiring and indifferent; her doubts were never soothed to forgetfulness, and they never grew strong enough to distract her. Had she not been rich and independent, she would perhaps have thrown herself into the struggle, and have known passion. But life was easy for her, though she was bored at times, and she went on passing day after day with deliberation, never in a hurry, placid, and only rarely disturbed. Dreams sometimes danced in rainbow colours before her eyes even, but she breathed more freely when they died away, and did not regret them. Her imagination indeed overstepped the limits of what is reckoned permissible by conventional morality; but even then her blood flowed as quietly as ever in her fascinatingly graceful, tranquil body. Sometimes coming out of her fragrant bath all warm and enervated, she would fall to musing on the nothingness of life, the sorrow, the labour, the malice of it.... Her soul would be filled with sudden daring, and would flow with generous ardour, but a draught would blow from a half-closed window, and Anna Sergyevna would shrink into herself, and feel plaintive and almost angry, and there was only one thing she cared for at that instant—to get away from that horrid draught.
Like all women who have not succeeded in loving, she wanted something, without herself knowing what. Strictly speaking, she wanted nothing; but it seemed to her that she wanted everything. She could hardly endure the late Odintsov (she had married him from prudential motives, though probably she would not have consented to become his wife if she had not considered him a good sort of man), and had conceived a secret repugnance for all men, whom she could only figure to herself as slovenly, heavy, drowsy, and feebly importunate creatures. Once, somewhere abroad, she had met a handsome young Swede, with a chivalrous expression, with honest blue eyes under an open brow; he had made a powerful impression on her, but it had not prevented her from going back to Russia.
'A strange man this doctor!' she thought as she lay in her luxurious bed on lace pillows under a light silk coverlet.... Anna Sergyevna had inherited from her father a little of his inclination for splendour. She had fondly loved her sinful but good-natured father, and he had idolised her, used to joke with her in a friendly way as though she were an equal, and to confide in her fully, to ask her advice. Her mother she scarcely remembered.
'This doctor is a strange man!' she repeated to herself. She stretched, smiled, clasped her hands behind her head, then ran her eyes over two pages of a stupid French novel, dropped the book—and fell asleep, all pure and cold, in her pure and fragrant linen.
The following morning Anna Sergyevna went off botanising with Bazarov directly after lunch, and returned just before dinner; Arkady did not go off anywhere, and spent about an hour with Katya. He was not bored with her; she offered of herself to repeat the sonata of the day before; but when Madame Odintsov came back at last, when he caught sight of her, he felt an instantaneous pang at his heart. She came through the garden with a rather tired step; her cheeks were glowing and her eyes shining more brightly than usual under her round straw hat. She was twirling in her fingers the thin stalk of a wildflower, a light mantle had slipped down to her elbows, and the wide gray ribbons of her hat were clinging to her bosom. Bazarov walked behind her, self-confident and careless as usual, but the expression of his face, cheerful and even friendly as it was, did not please Arkady. Muttering between his teeth, 'Good-morning!' Bazarov went away to his room, while Madame Odintsov shook Arkady's hand abstractedly, and also walked past him.
'Good-morning!' thought Arkady ... 'As though we had not seen each other already to-day!'
Time, it is well known, sometimes flies like a bird, sometimes crawls like a worm; but man is wont to be particularly happy when he does not even notice whether it passes quickly or slowly. It was in that way Arkady and Bazarov spent a fortnight at Madame Odintsov's. The good order she had established in her house and in her life partly contributed to this result. She adhered strictly to this order herself, and forced others to submit to it. Everything during the day was done at a fixed time. In the morning, precisely at eight o'clock, all the party assembled for tea; from morning-tea till lunch-time every one did what he pleased, the hostess herself was engaged with her bailiff (the estate was on the rent-system), her steward, and her head housekeeper. Before dinner the party met again for conversation or reading; the evening was devoted to walking, cards, and music; at half-past ten Anna Sergyevna retired to her own room, gave her orders for the following day, and went to bed. Bazarov did not like this measured, somewhat ostentatious punctuality in daily life, 'like moving along rails,' he pronounced it to be; the footmen in livery, the decorous stewards, offended his democratic sentiments. He declared that if one went so far, one might as well dine in the English style at once—in tail-coats and white ties. He once spoke plainly upon the subject to Anna Sergyevna. Her attitude was such that no one hesitated to speak his mind freely before her. She heard him out; and then her comment was, 'From your point of view, you are right—and perhaps, in that respect, I am too much of a lady; but there's no living in the country without order, one would be devoured by ennui,' and she continued to go her own way. Bazarov grumbled, but the very reason life was so easy for him and Arkady at Madame Odintsov's was that everything in the house 'moved on rails.' For all that, a change had taken place in both the young men since the first days of their stay at Nikolskoe. Bazarov, in whom Anna Sergyevna was obviously interested, though she seldom agreed with him, began to show signs of an unrest, unprecedented in him; he was easily put out of temper, and unwilling to talk, he looked irritated, and could not sit still in one place, just as though he were possessed by some secret longing; while Arkady, who had made up his mind conclusively that he was in love with Madame Odintsov, had begun to yield to a gentle melancholy. This melancholy did not, however, prevent him from becoming friendly with Katya; it even impelled him to get into friendly, affectionate terms with her. 'She does not appreciate me? So be it!... But here is a good creature, who does not repulse me,' he thought, and his heart again knew the sweetness of magnanimous emotions. Katya vaguely realised that he was seeking a sort of consolation in her company, and did not deny him or herself the innocent pleasure of a half-shy, half-confidential friendship. They did not talk to each other in Anna Sergyevna's presence; Katya always shrank into herself under her sister's sharp eyes; while Arkady, as befits a man in love, could pay attention to nothing else when near the object of his passion; but he was happy with Katya alone. He was conscious that he did not possess the power to interest Madame Odintsov; he was shy and at a loss when he was left alone with her, and she did not know what to say to him, he was too young for her. With Katya, on the other hand, Arkady felt at home; he treated her condescendingly, encouraged her to express the impressions made on her by music, reading novels, verses, and other such trifles, without noticing or realising that these trifles were what interested him too. Katya, on her side, did not try to drive away melancholy. Arkady was at his ease with Katya, Madame Odintsov with Bazarov, and thus it usually came to pass that the two couples, after being a little while together, went off on their separate ways, especially during the walks. Katya adored nature, and Arkady loved it, though he did not dare to acknowledge it; Madame Odintsov was, like Bazarov, rather indifferent to the beauties of nature. The almost continual separation of the two friends was not without its consequences; the relations between them began to change. Bazarov gave up talking to Arkady about Madame Odintsov, gave up even abusing her 'aristocratic ways'; Katya, it is true, he praised as before, and only advised him to restrain her sentimental tendencies, but his praises were hurried, his advice dry, and in general he talked less to Arkady than before ... he seemed to avoid him, seemed ill at ease with him.
Arkady observed it all, but he kept his observations to himself.
The real cause of all this 'newness' was the feeling inspired in Bazarov by Madame Odintsov, a feeling which tortured and maddened him, and which he would at once have denied, with scornful laughter and cynical abuse, if any one had ever so remotely hinted at the possibility of what was taking place in him. Bazarov had a great love for women and for feminine beauty; but love in the ideal, or, as he expressed it, romantic sense, he called lunacy, unpardonable imbecility; he regarded chivalrous sentiments as something of the nature of deformity or disease, and had more than once expressed his wonder that Toggenburg and all the minnesingers and troubadours had not been put into a lunatic asylum. 'If a woman takes your fancy,' he used to say, 'try and gain your end; but if you can't—well, turn your back on her—there are lots of good fish in the sea.' Madame Odintsov had taken his fancy; the rumours about her, the freedom and independence of her ideas, her unmistakable liking for him, all seemed to be in his favour, but he soon saw that with her he would not 'gain his ends,' and to turn his back on her he found, to his own bewilderment, beyond his power. His blood was on fire directly if he merely thought of her; he could easily have mastered his blood, but something else was taking root in him, something he had never admitted, at which he had always jeered, at which all his pride revolted. In his conversations with Anna Sergyevna he expressed more strongly than ever his calm contempt for everything idealistic; but when he was alone, with indignation he recognised idealism in himself. Then he would set off to the forest and walk with long strides about it, smashing the twigs that came in his way, and cursing under his breath both her and himself; or he would get into the hay-loft in the barn, and, obstinately closing his eyes, try to force himself to sleep, in which, of course, he did not always succeed. Suddenly his fancy would bring before him those chaste hands twining one day about his neck, those proud lips responding to his kisses, those intellectual eyes dwelling with tenderness—yes, with tenderness—on his, and his head went round, and he forgot himself for an instant, till indignation boiled up in him again. He caught himself in all sorts of 'shameful' thoughts, as though he were driven on by a devil mocking him. Sometimes he fancied that there was a change taking place in Madame Odintsov too; that there were signs in the expression of her face of something special; that, perhaps ... but at that point he would stamp, or grind his teeth, and clench his fists.
Meanwhile Bazarov was not altogether mistaken. He had struck Madame Odintsov's imagination; he interested her, she thought a great deal about him. In his absence, she was not dull, she was not impatient for his coming, but she always grew more lively on his appearance; she liked to be left alone with him, and she liked talking to him, even when he irritated her or offended her taste, her refined habits. She was, as it were, eager at once to sound him and to analyse herself.
One day walking in the garden with her, he suddenly announced, in a surly voice, that he intended going to his father's place very soon.... She turned white, as though something had given her a pang, and such a pang, that she wondered and pondered long after, what could be the meaning of it. Bazarov had spoken of his departure with no idea of putting her to the test, of seeing what would come of it; he never 'fabricated.' On the morning of that day he had an interview with his father's bailiff, who had taken care of him when he was a child, Timofeitch. This Timofeitch, a little old man of much experience and astuteness, with faded yellow hair, a weather-beaten red face, and tiny tear-drops in his shrunken eyes, unexpectedly appeared before Bazarov, in his shortish overcoat of stout greyish-blue cloth, girt with a strip of leather, and in tarred boots.
'Hullo, old man; how are you?' cried Bazarov.
'How do you do, Yevgeny Vassilyitch?' began the little old man, and he smiled with delight, so that his whole face was all at once covered with wrinkles.
'What have you come for? They sent for me, eh?'
'Upon my word, sir, how could we?' mumbled Timofeitch. (He remembered the strict injunctions he had received from his master on starting.) 'We were sent to the town on business, and we'd heard news of your honour, so here we turned off on our way, that's to say—to have a look at your honour ... as if we could think of disturbing you!'
'Come, don't tell lies!' Bazarov cut him short. 'Is this the road to the town, do you mean to tell me?' Timofeitch hesitated, and made no answer. 'Is my father well?'
'Thank God, yes.'
'And my mother?'
'Anna Vlasyevna too, glory be to God.'
'They are expecting me, I suppose?'
The little old man held his tiny head on one side.
'Ah, Yevgeny Vassilyitch, it makes one's heart ache to see them; it does really.'
'Come, all right, all right! shut up! Tell them I'm coming soon.'
'Yes, sir,' answered Timofeitch, with a sigh.
As he went out of the house, he pulled his cap down on his head with both hands, clambered into a wretched-looking racing droshky, and went off at a trot, but not in the direction of the town.
On the evening of the same day, Madame Odintsov was sitting in her own room with Bazarov, while Arkady walked up and down the hall listening to Katya's playing. The princess had gone upstairs to her own room; she could not bear guests as a rule, and 'especially this new riff-raff lot,' as she called them. In the common rooms she only sulked; but she made up for it in her own room by breaking out into such abuse before her maid that the cap danced on her head, wig and all. Madame Odintsov was well aware of all this.
'How is it you are proposing to leave us?' she began; 'how about your promise?'
Bazarov started. 'What promise?'
'Have you forgotten? You meant to give me some lessons in chemistry.'
'It can't be helped! My father expects me; I can't loiter any longer. However, you can read Pelouse et Frémy, Notions générales de Chimie; it's a good book, and clearly written. You will find everything you need in it.'
'But do you remember; you assured me a book cannot take the place of ... I've forgotten how you put it, but you know what I mean ... do you remember?'
'It can't be helped!' repeated Bazarov.
'Why go away?' said Madame Odintsov, dropping her voice.
He glanced at her. Her head had fallen on to the back of her easy-chair, and her arms, bare to the elbow, were folded on her bosom. She seemed paler in the light of the single lamp covered with a perforated paper shade. An ample white gown hid her completely in its soft folds; even the tips of her feet, also crossed, were hardly seen.
'And why stay?' answered Bazarov.
Madame Odintsov turned her head slightly. 'You ask why. Have you not enjoyed yourself with me? Or do you suppose you will not be missed here?'
'I am sure of it.'
Madame Odintsov was silent a minute. 'You are wrong in thinking that. But I don't believe you. You could not say that seriously.' Bazarov still sat immovable. 'Yevgeny Vassilyitch, why don't you speak?'
'Why, what am I to say to you? People are not generally worth being missed, and I less than most.'
'I'm a practical, uninteresting person. I don't know how to talk.'
'You are fishing, Yevgeny Vassilyitch.'
'That's not a habit of mine. Don't you know yourself that I've nothing in common with the elegant side of life, the side you prize so much?'
Madame Odintsov bit the corner of her handkerchief.
'You may think what you like, but I shall be dull when you go away.'
'Arkady will remain,' remarked Bazarov. Madame Odintsov shrugged her shoulders slightly. 'I shall be dull,' she repeated.
'Really? In any case you will not feel dull for long.'
'What makes you suppose that?'
'Because you told me yourself that you are only dull when your regular routine is broken in upon. You have ordered your existence with such unimpeachable regularity that there can be no place in it for dulness or sadness ... for any unpleasant emotions.'
'And do you consider I am so unimpeachable ... that's to say, that I have ordered my life with such regularity?'
'I should think so. Here's an example; in a few minutes it will strike ten, and I know beforehand that you will drive me away.'
'No; I'm not going to drive you away, Yevgeny Vassilyitch. You may stay. Open that window.... I feel half-stifled.'
Bazarov got up and gave a push to the window. It flew up with a loud crash.... He had not expected it to open so easily; besides, his hands were shaking. The soft, dark night looked in to the room with its almost black sky, its faintly rustling trees, and the fresh fragrance of the pure open air.
'Draw the blind and sit down,' said Madame Odintsov; 'I want to have a talk with you before you go away. Tell me something about yourself; you never talk about yourself.'
'I try to talk to you upon improving subjects, Anna Sergyevna.'
'You are very modest.... But I should like to know something about you, about your family, about your father, for whom you are forsaking us.'
'Why is she talking like that?' thought Bazarov.
'All that's not in the least interesting,' he uttered aloud, 'especially for you; we are obscure people....'
'And you regard me as an aristocrat?'
Bazarov lifted his eyes to Madame Odintsov.
'Yes,' he said, with exaggerated sharpness.
She smiled. 'I see you know me very little, though you do maintain that all people are alike, and it's not worth while to study them. I will tell you my life some time or other ... but first you tell me yours.'
'I know you very little,' repeated Bazarov. 'Perhaps you are right; perhaps, really, every one is a riddle. You, for instance; you avoid society, you are oppressed by it, and you have invited two students to stay with you. What makes you, with your intellect, with your beauty, live in the country?'
'What? What was it you said?' Madame Odintsov interposed eagerly. 'With my ... beauty?'
Bazarov scowled. 'Never mind that,' he muttered; 'I meant to say that I don't exactly understand why you have settled in the country?'
'You don't understand it.... But you explain it to yourself in some way?'
'Yes ... I assume that you remain continually in the same place because you indulge yourself, because you are very fond of comfort and ease, and very indifferent to everything else.'
Madame Odintsov smiled again. 'You would absolutely refuse to believe that I am capable of being carried away by anything?'
Bazarov glanced at her from under his brows.
'By curiosity, perhaps; but not otherwise.'
'Really? Well, now I understand why we are such friends; you are just like me, you see.'
'We are such friends ...' Bazarov articulated in a choked voice.
'Yes!... Why, I'd forgotten you wanted to go away.'
Bazarov got up. The lamp burnt dimly in the middle of the dark, luxurious, isolated room; from time to time the blind was shaken, and there flowed in the freshness of the insidious night; there was heard its mysterious whisperings. Madame Odintsov did not move in a single limb; but she was gradually possessed by concealed emotion.
It communicated itself to Bazarov. He was suddenly conscious that he was alone with a young and lovely woman....
'Where are you going?' she said slowly.
He answered nothing, and sank into a chair.
'And so you consider me a placid, pampered, spoiled creature,' she went on in the same voice, never taking her eyes off the window. 'While I know so much about myself, that I am unhappy.'
'You unhappy? What for? Surely you can't attach any importance to idle gossip?'
Madame Odintsov frowned. It annoyed her that he had given such a meaning to her words.
'Such gossip does not affect me, Yevgeny Vassilyitch, and I am too proud to allow it to disturb me. I am unhappy because ... I have no desires, no passion for life. You look at me incredulously; you think that's said by an "aristocrat," who is all in lace, and sitting in a velvet armchair. I don't conceal the fact: I love what you call comfort, and at the same time I have little desire to live. Explain that contradiction as best you can. But all that's romanticism in your eyes.'
Bazarov shook his head. 'You are in good health, independent, rich; what more would you have? What do you want?'
'What do I want,' echoed Madame Odintsov, and she sighed, 'I am very tired, I am old, I feel as if I have had a very long life. Yes, I am old,' she added, softly drawing the ends of her lace over her bare arms. Her eyes met Bazarov's eyes, and she faintly blushed. 'Behind me I have already so many memories: my life in Petersburg, wealth, then poverty, then my father's death, marriage, then the inevitable tour in due order.... So many memories, and nothing to remember, and before me, before me—a long, long road, and no goal.... I have no wish to go on.'
'Are you so disillusioned?' queried Bazarov.
'No, but I am dissatisfied,' Madame Odintsov replied, dwelling on each syllable. 'I think if I could interest myself strongly in something....'
'You want to fall in love,' Bazarov interrupted her, 'and you can't love; that's where your unhappiness lies.'
Madame Odintsov began to examine the sleeve of her lace.
'Is it true I can't love?' she said.
'I should say not! Only I was wrong in calling that an unhappiness. On the contrary, any one's more to be pitied when such a mischance befalls him.'
'Falling in love.'
'And how do you come to know that?'
'By hearsay,' answered Bazarov angrily.
'You're flirting,' he thought; 'you're bored, and teasing me for want of something to do, while I ...' His heart really seemed as though it were being torn to pieces.
'Besides, you are perhaps too exacting,' he said, bending his whole frame forward and playing with the fringe of the chair.
'Perhaps. My idea is everything or nothing. A life for a life. Take mine, give up thine, and that without regret or turning back. Or else better have nothing.'
'Well?' observed Bazarov; 'that's fair terms, and I'm surprised that so far you ... have not found what you wanted.'
'And do you think it would be easy to give oneself up wholly to anything whatever?'
'Not easy, if you begin reflecting, waiting and attaching value to yourself, prizing yourself, I mean; but to give oneself up without reflection is very easy.'
'How can one help prizing oneself? If I am of no value, who could need my devotion?'
'That's not my affair; that's the other's business to discover what is my value. The chief thing is to be able to devote oneself.'
Madame Odintsov bent forward from the back of her chair. 'You speak,' she began, 'as though you had experienced all that.'
'It happened to come up, Anna Sergyevna; all that, as you know, is not in my line.'
'But you could devote yourself?'
'I don't know. I shouldn't like to boast.'
Madame Odintsov said nothing, and Bazarov was mute. The sounds of the piano floated up to them from the drawing-room.
'How is it Katya is playing so late?' observed Madame Odintsov.
Bazarov got up. 'Yes, it is really late now; it's time for you to go to bed.'
'Wait a little; why are you in a hurry?... I want to say one word to you.'
'What is it?'
'Wait a little,' whispered Madame Odintsov. Her eyes rested on Bazarov; it seemed as though she were examining him attentively.
He walked across the room, then suddenly went up to her, hurriedly said 'Good-bye,' squeezed her hand so that she almost screamed, and was gone. She raised her crushed fingers to her lips, breathed on them, and suddenly, impulsively getting up from her low chair, she moved with rapid steps towards the door, as though she wished to bring Bazarov back.... A maid came into the room with a decanter on a silver tray. Madame Odintsov stood still, told her she could go, and sat down again, and again sank into thought. Her hair slipped loose and fell in a dark coil down her shoulders. Long after the lamp was still burning in Anna Sergyevna's room, and for long she stayed without moving, only from time to time chafing her hands, which ached a little from the cold of the night.
Bazarov went back two hours later to his bed-room with his boots wet with dew, dishevelled and ill-humoured. He found Arkady at the writing-table with a book in his hands, his coat buttoned up to the throat.
'You're not in bed yet?' he said, in a tone, it seemed, of annoyance.
'You stopped a long while with Anna Sergyevna this evening,' remarked Arkady, not answering him.
'Yes, I stopped with her all the while you were playing the piano with Katya Sergyevna.'
'I did not play ...' Arkady began, and he stopped. He felt the tears were coming into his eyes, and he did not like to cry before his sarcastic friend.
The following morning when Madame Odintsov came down to morning tea, Bazarov sat a long while bending over his cup, then suddenly he glanced up at her.... She turned to him as though he had struck her a blow, and he fancied that her face was a little paler since the night before. She quickly went off to her own room, and did not appear till lunch. It rained from early morning; there was no possibility of going for a walk. The whole company assembled in the drawing-room. Arkady took up the new number of a journal and began reading it aloud. The princess, as was her habit, tried to express her amazement in her face, as though he were doing something improper, then glared angrily at him; but he paid no attention to her.
'Yevgeny Vassilyitch' said Anna Sergyevna, 'come to my room.... I want to ask you.... You mentioned a textbook yesterday ...'
She got up and went to the door. The princess looked round with an expression that seemed to say, 'Look at me; see how shocked I am!' and again glared at Arkady; but he raised his voice, and exchanging glances with Katya, near whom he was sitting, he went on reading.
Madame Odintsov went with rapid steps to her study. Bazarov followed her quickly, not raising his eyes, and only with his ears catching the delicate swish and rustle of her silk gown gliding before him. Madame Odintsov sank into the same easy-chair in which she had sat the previous evening, and Bazarov took up the same position as before.
'What was the name of that book?' she began, after a brief silence.
'Pelouse et Frémy, Notions générales,' answered Bazarov. 'I might though recommend you also Ganot, Traité élémentaire de physique éxpérimentale. In that book the illustrations are clearer, and in general it's a text-book.'
Madame Odintsov stretched out her hand. 'Yevgeny Vassilyitch, I beg your pardon, but I didn't invite you in here to discuss text-books. I wanted to continue our conversation of last night. You went away so suddenly.... It will not bore you ...'
'I am at your service, Anna Sergyevna. But what were we talking about last night?'
Madame Odintsov flung a sidelong glance at Bazarov.
'We were talking of happiness, I believe. I told you about myself. By the way, I mentioned the word "happiness." Tell me why it is that even when we are enjoying music, for instance, or a fine evening, or a conversation with sympathetic people, it all seems an intimation of some measureless happiness existing apart somewhere rather than actual happiness—such, I mean, as we ourselves are in possession of? Why is it? Or perhaps you have no feeling like that?'
'You know the saying, "Happiness is where we are not,"' replied Bazarov; 'besides, you told me yesterday you are discontented. I certainly never have such ideas come into my head.'
'Perhaps they seem ridiculous to you?'
'No; but they don't come into my head.'
'Really? Do you know, I should very much like to know what you do think about?'
'What? I don't understand.'
'Listen; I have long wanted to speak openly to you. There's no need to tell you—you are conscious of it yourself—that you are not an ordinary man; you are still young—all life is before you. What are you preparing yourself for? What future is awaiting you? I mean to say—what object do you want to attain? What are you going forward to? What is in your heart? in short, who are you? What are you?'
'You surprise me, Anna Sergyevna. You are aware that I am studying natural science, and who I ...'
'Well, who are you?'
'I have explained to you already that I am going to be a district doctor.'
Anna Sergyevna made a movement of impatience.
'What do you say that for? You don't believe it yourself. Arkady might answer me in that way, but not you.'
'Why, in what is Arkady ...'
'Stop! Is it possible you could content yourself with such a humble career, and aren't you always maintaining yourself that you don't believe in medicine? You—with your ambition—a district doctor! You answer me like that to put me off, because you have no confidence in me. But, do you know, Yevgeny Vassilyitch, that I could understand you; I have been poor myself, and ambitious, like you; I have been perhaps through the same trials as you.'
'That is all very well, Anna Sergyevna, but you must pardon me for ... I am not in the habit of talking freely about myself at any time as a rule, and between you and me there is such a gulf ...'
'What sort of gulf? You mean to tell me again that I am an aristocrat? No more of that, Yevgeny Vassilyitch; I thought I had proved to you ...'
'And even apart from that,' broke in Bazarov, 'what could induce one to talk and think about the future, which for the most part does not depend on us? If a chance turns up of doing something—so much the better; and if it doesn't turn up—at least one will be glad one didn't gossip idly about it beforehand.'
'You call a friendly conversation idle gossip?... Or perhaps you consider me as a woman unworthy of your confidence? I know you despise us all.'
'I don't despise you, Anna Sergyevna, and you know that.'
'No, I don't know anything ... but let us suppose so. I understand your disinclination to talk of your future career; but as to what is taking place within you now ...'
'Taking place!' repeated Bazarov, 'as though I were some sort of government or society! In any case, it is utterly uninteresting; and besides, can a man always speak of everything that "takes place" in him?'
'Why, I don't see why you can't speak freely of everything you have in your heart.'
'Can you?' asked Bazarov.
'Yes,' answered Anna Sergyevna, after a brief hesitation.
Bazarov bowed his head. 'You are more fortunate than I am.'
Anna Sergyevna looked at him questioningly. 'As you please,' she went on, 'but still something tells me that we have not come together for nothing; that we shall be great friends. I am sure this—what should I say, constraint, reticence in you will vanish at last.'
'So you have noticed reticence ... as you expressed it ... constraint?'
Bazarov got up and went to the window. 'And would you like to know the reason of this reticence? Would you like to know what is passing within me?'
'Yes,' repeated Madame Odintsov, with a sort of dread she did not at the time understand.
'And you will not be angry?'
'No?' Bazarov was standing with his back to her. 'Let me tell you then that I love you like a fool, like a madman.... There, you've forced it out of me.'
Madame Odintsov held both hands out before her; but Bazarov was leaning with his forehead pressed against the window pane. He breathed hard; his whole body was visibly trembling. But it was not the tremor of youthful timidity, not the sweet alarm of the first declaration that possessed him; it was passion struggling in him, strong and painful—passion not unlike hatred, and perhaps akin to it.... Madame Odintsov felt both afraid and sorry for him.
'Yevgeny Vassilyitch!' she said, and there was the ring of unconscious tenderness in her voice.
He turned quickly, flung a searching look on her, and snatching both her hands, he drew her suddenly to his breast.
She did not at once free herself from his embrace, but an instant later, she was standing far away in a corner, and looking from there at Bazarov. He rushed at her ...
'You have misunderstood me,' she whispered hurriedly, in alarm. It seemed if he had made another step she would have screamed.... Bazarov bit his lips, and went out.
Half-an-hour after, a maid gave Anna Sergyevna a note from Bazarov; it consisted simply of one line: 'Am I to go to-day, or can I stop till to-morrow?'
'Why should you go? I did not understand you—you did not understand me,' Anna Sergyevna answered him, but to herself she thought: 'I did not understand myself either.'
She did not show herself till dinner-time, and kept walking to and fro in her room, stopping sometimes at the window, sometimes at the looking-glass, and slowly rubbing her handkerchief over her neck, on which she still seemed to feel a burning spot. She asked herself what had induced her to 'force' Bazarov's words, his confidence, and whether she had suspected nothing ... 'I am to blame,' she decided aloud, 'but I could not have foreseen this.' She fell to musing, and blushed crimson, remembering Bazarov's almost animal face when he had rushed at her....
'Oh?' she uttered suddenly aloud, and she stopped short and shook back her curls.... She caught sight of herself in the glass; her head thrown back, with a mysterious smile on the half-closed, half-opened eyes and lips, told her, it seemed, in a flash something at which she herself was confused....
'No,' she made up her mind at last. 'God knows what it would lead to; he couldn't be played with; peace is anyway the best thing in the world.'
Her peace of mind was not shaken; but she felt gloomy, and even shed a few tears once though she could not have said why—certainly not for the insult done her. She did not feel insulted; she was more inclined to feel guilty. Under the influence of various vague emotions, the sense of life passing by, the desire of novelty, she had forced herself to go up to a certain point, forced herself to look behind herself, and had seen behind her not even an abyss, but what was empty ... or revolting.
Great as was Madame Odintsov's self-control, and superior as she was to every kind of prejudice, she felt awkward when she went into the dining-room to dinner. The meal went off fairly successfully, however. Porfiry Platonovitch made his appearance and told various anecdotes; he had just come back from the town. Among other things, he informed them that the governor had ordered his secretaries on special commissions to wear spurs, in case he might send them off anywhere for greater speed on horseback. Arkady talked in an undertone to Katya, and diplomatically attended to the princess's wants. Bazarov maintained a grim and obstinate silence. Madame Odintsov looked at him twice, not stealthily, but straight in the face, which was bilious and forbidding, with downcast eyes, and contemptuous determination stamped on every feature, and thought: 'No ... no ... no.' ... After dinner, she went with the whole company into the garden, and seeing that Bazarov wanted to speak to her, she took a few steps to one side and stopped. He went up to her, but even then did not raise his eyes, and said hoarsely—
'I have to apologise to you, Anna Sergyevna. You must be in a fury with me.'
'No, I'm not angry with you, Yevgeny Vassilyitch,' answered Madame Odintsov; 'but I am sorry.'
'So much the worse. Any way, I'm sufficiently punished. My position, you will certainly agree, is most foolish. You wrote to me, "Why go away?" But I cannot stay, and don't wish to. To-morrow I shall be gone.'
'Yevgeny Vassilyitch, why are you ...'
'Why am I going away?'
'No; I didn't mean to say that.'
'There's no recalling the past, Anna Sergyevna ... and this was bound to come about sooner or later. Consequently I must go. I can only conceive of one condition upon which I could remain; but that condition will never be. Excuse my impertinence, but you don't love me, and you never will love me, I suppose?'
Bazarov's eyes glittered for an instant under their dark brows.
Anna Sergyevna did not answer him. 'I'm afraid of this man,' flashed through her brain.
'Good-bye, then,' said Bazarov, as though he guessed her thought, and he went back into the house.
Anna Sergyevna walked slowly after him, and calling Katya to her, she took her arm. She did not leave her side till quite evening. She did not play cards, and was constantly laughing, which did not at all accord with her pale and perplexed face. Arkady was bewildered, and looked on at her as all young people look on—that's to say, he was constantly asking himself, 'What is the meaning of that?' Bazarov shut himself up in his room; he came back to tea, however. Anna Sergyevna longed to say some friendly word to him, but she did not know how to address him....
An unexpected incident relieved her from her embarrassment; a steward announced the arrival of Sitnikov.
It is difficult to do justice in words to the strange figure cut by the young apostle of progress as he fluttered into the room. Though, with his characteristic impudence, he had made up his mind to go into the country to visit a woman whom he hardly knew, who had never invited him; but with whom, according to information he had gathered, such talented and intimate friends were staying, he was nevertheless trembling to the marrow of his bones; and instead of bringing out the apologies and compliments he had learned by heart beforehand, he muttered some absurdity about Evdoksya Kukshin having sent him to inquire after Anna Sergyevna's health, and Arkady Nikolaevitch's too, having always spoken to him in the highest terms.... At this point he faltered and lost his presence of mind so completely that he sat down on his own hat. However, since no one turned him out, and Anna Sergyevna even presented him to her aunt and her sister, he soon recovered himself and began to chatter volubly. The introduction of the commonplace is often an advantage in life; it relieves over-strained tension, and sobers too self-confident or self-sacrificing emotions by recalling its close kinship with them. With Sitnikov's appearance everything became somehow duller and simpler; they all even ate a more solid supper, and retired to bed half-an-hour earlier than usual.
'I might now repeat to you,' said Arkady, as he lay down in bed, to Bazarov, who was also undressing, what you once said to me, 'Why are you so melancholy? One would think you had fulfilled some sacred duty.' For some time past a sort of pretence of free-and-easy banter had sprung up between the two young men, which is always an unmistakable sign of secret displeasure or unexpressed suspicions.
'I'm going to my father's to-morrow,' said Bazarov.
Arkady raised himself and leaned on his elbow. He felt both surprised, and for some reason or other pleased. 'Ah!' he commented, 'and is that why you're sad?'
Bazarov yawned. 'You'll get old if you know too much.'
'And Anna Sergyevna?' persisted Arkady.
'What about Anna Sergyevna?'
'I mean, will she let you go?'
'I'm not her paid man.'
Arkady grew thoughtful, while Bazarov lay down and turned with his face to the wall.
Some minutes went by in silence. 'Yevgeny?' cried Arkady suddenly.
'I will leave with you to-morrow too.'
Bazarov made no answer.
'Only I will go home,' continued Arkady. 'We will go together as far as Hohlovsky, and there you can get horses at Fedot's. I should be delighted to make the acquaintance of your people, but I'm afraid of being in their way and yours. You are coming to us again later, of course?'
'I've left all my things with you,' Bazarov said, without turning round.
'Why doesn't he ask me why I am going, and just as suddenly as he?' thought Arkady. 'In reality, why am I going, and why is he going?' he pursued his reflections. He could find no satisfactory answer to his own question, though his heart was filled with some bitter feeling. He felt it would be hard to part from this life to which he had grown so accustomed; but for him to remain alone would be rather odd. 'Something has passed between them,' he reasoned to himself; 'what good would it be for me to hang on after he's gone? She's utterly sick of me; I'm losing the last that remained to me.' He began to imagine Anna Sergyevna to himself, then other features gradually eclipsed the lovely image of the young widow.
'I'm sorry to lose Katya too!' Arkady whispered to his pillow, on which a tear had already fallen.... All at once he shook back his hair and said aloud—
'What the devil made that fool of a Sitnikov turn up here?'
Bazarov at first stirred a little in his bed, then he uttered the following rejoinder: 'You're still a fool, my boy, I see. Sitnikovs are indispensable to us. I—do you understand? I need dolts like him. It's not for the gods to bake bricks, in fact!'...
'Oho!' Arkady thought to himself, and then in a flash all the fathomless depths of Bazarov's conceit dawned upon him. 'Are you and I gods then? at least, you're a god; am not I a dolt then?'
'Yes,' repeated Bazarov; 'you're still a fool.'
Madame Odintsov expressed no special surprise when Arkady told her the next day that he was going with Bazarov; she seemed tired and absorbed. Katya looked at him silently and seriously; the princess went so far as to cross herself under her shawl so that he could not help noticing it. Sitnikov, on the other hand, was completely disconcerted. He had only just come in to lunch in a new and fashionable get-up, not on this occasion of a Slavophil cut; the evening before he had astonished the man told off to wait on him by the amount of linen he had brought with him, and now all of a sudden his comrades were deserting him! He took a few tiny steps, doubled back like a hunted hare at the edge of a copse, and abruptly, almost with dismay, almost with a wail, announced that he proposed going too. Madame Odintsov did not attempt to detain him.
'I have a very comfortable carriage,' added the luckless young man, turning to Arkady; 'I can take you, while Yevgeny Vassilyitch can take your coach, so it will be even more convenient.'
'But, really, it's not at all in your way, and it's a long way to my place.'
'That's nothing, nothing; I've plenty of time; besides, I have business in that direction.'
'Gin-selling?' asked Arkady, rather too contemptuously.
But Sitnikov was reduced to such desperation that he did not even laugh as usual. 'I assure you, my carriage is exceedingly comfortable,' he muttered; 'and there will be room for all.'
'Don't wound Monsieur Sitnikov by a refusal,' commented Anna Sergyevna.
Arkady glanced at her, and bowed his head significantly.
The visitors started off after lunch. As she said good-bye to Bazarov, Madame Odintsov held out her hand to him, and said, 'We shall meet again, shan't we?'
'As you command,' answered Bazarov.
'In that case, we shall.'
Arkady was the first to descend the steps; he got into Sitnikov's carriage. A steward tucked him in respectfully, but he could have killed him with pleasure, or have burst into tears.
Bazarov took his seat in the coach. When they reached Hohlovsky, Arkady waited till Fedot, the keeper of the posting-station, had put in the horses, and going up to the coach, he said, with his old smile, to Bazarov, 'Yevgeny, take me with you; I want to come to you.'
'Get in,' Bazarov brought out through his teeth.
Sitnikov, who had been walking to and fro round the wheels of his carriage, whistling briskly, could only gape when he heard these words; while Arkady coolly pulled his luggage out of the carriage, took his seat beside Bazarov, and bowing politely to his former fellow-traveller, he called, 'Whip up!' The coach rolled away, and was soon out of sight.... Sitnikov, utterly confused, looked at his coachman, but the latter was flicking his whip about the tail of the off horse. Then Sitnikov jumped into the carriage, and growling at two passing peasants, 'Put on your caps, idiots!' he drove to the town, where he arrived very late, and where, next day, at Madame Kukshin's, he dealt very severely with two 'disgusting stuck-up churls.'
When he was seated in the coach by Bazarov, Arkady pressed his hand warmly, and for a long while he said nothing. It seemed as though Bazarov understood and appreciated both the pressure and the silence. He had not slept all the previous night, and had not smoked, and had eaten scarcely anything for several days. His profile, already thinner, stood out darkly and sharply under his cap, which was pulled down to his eyebrows.
'Well, brother,' he said at last, 'give us a cigarette. But look, I say, is my tongue yellow?'
'Yes, it is,' answered Arkady.
'Hm ... and the cigarette's tasteless. The machine's out of gear.'
'You look changed lately certainly,' observed Arkady.
'It's nothing! we shall soon be all right. One thing's a bother—my mother's so tender-hearted; if you don't grow as round as a tub, and eat ten times a day, she's quite upset. My father's all right, he's known all sorts of ups and downs himself. No, I can't smoke,' he added, and he flung the cigarette into the dust of the road.
'Do you think it's twenty miles?' asked Arkady.
'Yes. But ask this sage here.' He indicated the peasant sitting on the box, a labourer of Fedot's.
But the sage only answered, 'Who's to know—miles hereabout aren't measured,' and went on swearing in an undertone at the shaft horse for 'kicking with her head-piece,' that is, shaking with her head down.
'Yes, yes,' began Bazarov; 'it's a lesson to you, my young friend, an instructive example. God knows, what rot it is? Every man hangs on a thread, the abyss may open under his feet any minute, and yet he must go and invent all sorts of discomforts for himself, and spoil his life.'
'What are you alluding to?' asked Arkady.
'I'm not alluding to anything; I'm saying straight out that we've both behaved like fools. What's the use of talking about it! Still, I've noticed in hospital practice, the man who's furious at his illness—he's sure to get over it.'
'I don't quite understand you,' observed Arkady; 'I should have thought you had nothing to complain of.'
'And since you don't quite understand me, I'll tell you this—to my mind, it's better to break stones on the highroad than to let a woman have the mastery of even the end of one's little finger. That's all ...' Bazarov was on the point of uttering his favourite word, 'romanticism,' but he checked himself, and said, 'rubbish. You don't believe me now, but I tell you; you and I have been in feminine society, and very nice we found it; but to throw up society like that is for all the world like a dip in cold water on a hot day. A man hasn't time to attend to such trifles; a man ought not to be tame, says an excellent Spanish proverb. Now, you, I suppose, my sage friend,' he added, turning to the peasant sitting on the box—'you've a wife?'
The peasant showed both the friends his dull blear-eyed face.
'A wife? Yes. Every man has a wife.'
'Do you beat her?'
'My wife? Everything happens sometimes. We don't beat her without good reason!'
'That's excellent. Well, and does she beat you?'
The peasant gave a tug at the reins. 'That's a strange thing to say, sir. You like your joke.'... He was obviously offended.
'You hear, Arkady Nikolaevitch! But we have taken a beating ... that's what comes of being educated people.'
Arkady gave a forced laugh, while Bazarov turned away, and did not open his mouth again the whole journey.
The twenty miles seemed to Arkady quite forty. But at last, on the slope of some rising ground, appeared the small hamlet where Bazarov's parents lived. Beside it, in a young birch copse, could be seen a small house with a thatched roof.
Two peasants stood with their hats on at the first hut, abusing each other. 'You're a great sow,' said one; 'and worse than a little sucking pig.'
'And your wife's a witch,' retorted the other.
'From their unconstrained behaviour,' Bazarov remarked to Arkady, 'and the playfulness of their retorts, you can guess that my father's peasants are not too much oppressed. Why, there he is himself coming out on the steps of his house. They must have heard the bells. It's he; it's he—I know his figure. Ay, ay! how grey he's grown though, poor chap!'