Bazarov leaned out of the coach, while Arkady thrust his head out behind his companion's back, and caught sight on the steps of the little manor-house of a tall, thinnish man with dishevelled hair, and a thin hawk nose, dressed in an old military coat not buttoned up. He was standing, his legs wide apart, smoking a long pipe and screwing up his eyes to keep the sun out of them.
The horses stopped.
'Arrived at last,' said Bazarov's father, still going on smoking though the pipe was fairly dancing up and down between his fingers. 'Come, get out; get out; let me hug you.'
He began embracing his son ... 'Enyusha, Enyusha,' was heard a trembling woman's voice. The door was flung open, and in the doorway was seen a plump, short, little old woman in a white cap and a short striped jacket. She moaned, staggered, and would certainly have fallen, had not Bazarov supported her. Her plump little hands were instantly twined round his neck, her head was pressed to his breast, and there was a complete hush. The only sound heard was her broken sobs.
Old Bazarov breathed hard and screwed his eyes up more than ever.
'There, that's enough, that's enough, Arisha! give over,' he said, exchanging a glance with Arkady, who remained motionless in the coach, while the peasant on the box even turned his head away; 'that's not at all necessary, please give over.'
'Ah, Vassily Ivanitch,' faltered the old woman, 'for what ages, my dear one, my darling, Enyusha,' ... and, not unclasping her hands, she drew her wrinkled face, wet with tears and working with tenderness, a little away from Bazarov, and gazed at him with blissful and comic-looking eyes, and again fell on his neck.
'Well, well, to be sure, that's all in the nature of things,' commented Vassily Ivanitch, 'only we'd better come indoors. Here's a visitor come with Yevgeny. You must excuse it,' he added, turning to Arkady, and scraping with his foot; 'you understand, a woman's weakness; and well, a mother's heart ...'
His lips and eyebrows too were twitching, and his beard was quivering ... but he was obviously trying to control himself and appear almost indifferent.
'Let's come in, mother, really,' said Bazarov, and he led the enfeebled old woman into the house. Putting her into a comfortable armchair, he once more hurriedly embraced his father and introduced Arkady to him.
'Heartily glad to make your acquaintance,' said Vassily Ivanovitch, 'but you mustn't expect great things; everything here in my house is done in a plain way, on a military footing. Arina Vlasyevna, calm yourself, pray; what weakness! The gentleman our guest will think ill of you.'
'My dear sir,' said the old lady through her tears, 'your name and your father's I haven't the honour of knowing....'
'Arkady Nikolaitch,' put in Vassily Ivanitch solemnly, in a low voice.
'You must excuse a silly old woman like me.' The old woman blew her nose, and bending her head to right and to left, carefully wiped one eye after the other. 'You must excuse me. You see, I thought I should die, that I should not live to see my da .. arling.'
'Well, here we have lived to see him, madam,' put in Vassily Ivanovitch. 'Tanyushka,' he turned to a bare-legged little girl of thirteen in a bright red cotton dress, who was timidly peeping in at the door, 'bring your mistress a glass of water—on a tray, do you hear?—and you, gentlemen,' he added, with a kind of old-fashioned playfulness, 'let me ask you into the study of a retired old veteran.'
'Just once more let me embrace you, Enyusha,' moaned Arina Vlasyevna. Bazarov bent down to her. 'Why, what a handsome fellow you have grown!'
'Well, I don't know about being handsome,' remarked Vassily Ivanovitch, 'but he's a man, as the saying is, ommfay. And now I hope, Arina Vlasyevna, that having satisfied your maternal heart, you will turn your thoughts to satisfying the appetites of our dear guests, because, as you're aware, even nightingales can't be fed on fairy tales.'
The old lady got up from her chair. 'This minute, Vassily Ivanovitch, the table shall be laid. I will run myself to the kitchen and order the samovar to be brought in; everything shall be ready, everything. Why, I have not seen him, not given him food or drink these three years; is that nothing?'
'There, mind, good mother, bustle about; don't put us to shame; while you, gentlemen, I beg you to follow me. Here's Timofeitch come to pay his respects to you, Yevgeny. He, too, I daresay, is delighted, the old dog. Eh, aren't you delighted, old dog? Be so good as to follow me.'
And Vassily Ivanovitch went bustling forward, scraping and flapping with his slippers trodden down at heel.
His whole house consisted of six tiny rooms. One of them—the one to which he led our friends—was called the study. A thick-legged table, littered over with papers black with the accumulation of ancient dust as though they had been smoked, occupied all the space between the two windows; on the walls hung Turkish firearms, whips, a sabre, two maps, some anatomical diagrams, a portrait of Hoffland, a monogram woven in hair in a blackened frame, and a diploma under glass; a leather sofa, torn and worn into hollows in parts, was placed between two huge cupboards of birch-wood; on the shelves books, boxes, stuffed birds, jars, and phials were huddled together in confusion; in one corner stood a broken galvanic battery.
'I warned you, my dear Arkady Nikolaitch,' began Vassily Ivanitch, 'that we live, so to say, bivouacking....'
'There, stop that, what are you apologising for?' Bazarov interrupted. 'Kirsanov knows very well we're not Croesuses, and that you have no butler. Where are we going to put him, that's the question?'
'To be sure, Yevgeny; I have a capital room there in the little lodge; he will be very comfortable there.'
'Have you had a lodge put up then?'
'Why, where the bath-house is,' put in Timofeitch.
'That is next to the bathroom,' Vassily Ivanitch added hurriedly. 'It's summer now ... I will run over there at once, and make arrangements; and you, Timofeitch, meanwhile bring in their things. You, Yevgeny, I shall of course offer my study. Suum cuique.'
'There you have him! A comical old chap, and very good-natured,' remarked Bazarov, directly Vassily Ivanitch had gone. 'Just such a queer fish as yours, only in another way. He chatters too much.'
'And your mother seems an awfully nice woman,' observed Arkady.
'Yes, there's no humbug about her. You'll see what a dinner she'll give us.'
'They didn't expect you to-day, sir; they've not brought any beef?' observed Timofeitch, who was just dragging in Bazarov's box.
'We shall get on very well without beef. It's no use crying for the moon. Poverty, they say, is no vice.'
'How many serfs has your father?' Arkady asked suddenly.
'The estate's not his, but mother's; there are fifteen serfs, if I remember.'
'Twenty-two in all,' Timofeitch added, with an air of displeasure.
The flapping of slippers was heard, and Vassily Ivanovitch reappeared. 'In a few minutes your room will be ready to receive you,' he cried triumphantly. Arkady ... Nikolaitch? I think that is right? And here is your attendant,' he added, indicating a short-cropped boy, who had come in with him in a blue full-skirted coat with ragged elbows and a pair of boots which did not belong to him. 'His name is Fedka. Again, I repeat, even though my son tells me not to, you mustn't expect great things. He knows how to fill a pipe, though. You smoke, of course?'
'I generally smoke cigars,' answered Arkady.
'And you do very sensibly. I myself give the preference to cigars, but in these solitudes it is exceedingly difficult to obtain them.'
'There, that's enough humble pie,' Bazarov interrupted again. 'You'd much better sit here on the sofa and let us have a look at you.'
Vassily Ivanovitch laughed and sat down. He was very like his son in face, only his brow was lower and narrower, and his mouth rather wider, and he was for ever restless, shrugging up his shoulder as though his coat cut him under the armpits, blinking, clearing his throat, and gesticulating with his fingers, while his son was distinguished by a kind of nonchalant immobility.
'Humble-pie!' repeated Vassily Ivanovitch. 'You must not imagine, Yevgeny, I want to appeal, so to speak, to our guest's sympathies by making out we live in such a wilderness. Quite the contrary, I maintain that for a thinking man nothing is a wilderness. At least, I try as far as possible not to get rusty, so to speak, not to fall behind the age.'
Vassily Ivanovitch drew out of his pocket a new yellow silk handkerchief, which he had had time to snatch up on the way to Arkady's room, and flourishing it in the air, he proceeded: 'I am not now alluding to the fact that, for example, at the cost of sacrifices not inconsiderable for me, I have put my peasants on the rent-system and given up my land to them on half profits. I regarded that as my duty; common sense itself enjoins such a proceeding, though other proprietors do not even dream of it; I am alluding to the sciences, to culture.'
'Yes; I see you have here The Friend of Health for 1855,' remarked Bazarov.
'It's sent me by an old comrade out of friendship,' Vassily Ivanovitch made haste to answer; 'but we have, for instance, some idea even of phrenology,' he added, addressing himself principally, however, to Arkady, and pointing to a small plaster head on the cupboard, divided into numbered squares; 'we are not unacquainted even with Schenlein and Rademacher.'
'Why do people still believe in Rademacher in this province?' asked Bazarov.
Vassily Ivanovitch cleared his throat. 'In this province.... Of course, gentlemen, you know best; how could we keep pace with you? You are here to take our places. In my day, too, there was some sort of a Humouralist school, Hoffmann, and Brown too with his vitalism—they seemed very ridiculous to us, but, of course, they too had been great men at one time or other. Some one new has taken the place of Rademacher with you; you bow down to him, but in another twenty years it will be his turn to be laughed at.'
'For your consolation I will tell you,' observed Bazarov, 'that nowadays we laugh at medicine altogether, and don't bow down to any one.'
'How's that? Why, you're going to be a doctor, aren't you?'
'Yes, but the one fact doesn't prevent the other.'
Vassily Ivanovitch poked his third finger into his pipe, where a little smouldering ash was still left. 'Well, perhaps, perhaps—I am not going to dispute. What am I? A retired army-doctor, volla-too; now fate has made me take to farming. I served in your grandfather's brigade,' he addressed himself again to Arkady; 'yes, yes, I have seen many sights in my day. And I was thrown into all kinds of society, brought into contact with all sorts of people! I myself, the man you see before you now, have felt the pulse of Prince Wittgenstein and of Zhukovsky! They were in the southern army, in the fourteenth, you understand' (and here Vassily Ivanovitch pursed his mouth up significantly). 'Well, well, but my business was on one side; stick to your lancet, and let everything else go hang! Your grandfather was a very honourable man, a real soldier.'
'Confess, now, he was rather a blockhead,' remarked Bazarov lazily.
'Ah, Yevgeny, how can you use such an expression! Do consider.... Of course, General Kirsanov was not one of the ...'
'Come, drop him,' broke in Bazarov; 'I was pleased as I was driving along here to see your birch copse; it has shot up capitally.'
Vassily Ivanovitch brightened up. 'And you must see what a little garden I've got now! I planted every tree myself. I've fruit, and raspberries, and all kinds of medicinal herbs. However clever you young gentlemen may be, old Paracelsus spoke the holy truth: in herbis verbis et lapidibus.... I've retired from practice, you know, of course, but two or three times a week it will happen that I'm brought back to my old work. They come for advice—I can't drive them away. Sometimes the poor have recourse to me for help. And indeed there are no doctors here at all. There's one of the neighbours here, a retired major, only fancy, he doctors the people too. I asked the question, "Has he studied medicine?" And they told me, "No, he's not studied; he does it more from philanthropy."... Ha! ha! ha! from philanthropy! What do you think of that? Ha! ha! ha!'
'Fedka, fill me a pipe!' said Bazarov rudely.
'And there's another doctor here who just got to a patient,' Vassily Ivanovitch persisted in a kind of desperation, 'when the patient had gone ad patres; the servant didn't let the doctor speak; you're no longer wanted, he told him. He hadn't expected this, got confused, and asked, "Why, did your master hiccup before his death?" "Yes." "Did he hiccup much?" "Yes." "Ah, well, that's all right," and off he set back again. Ha! ha! ha!'
The old man was alone in his laughter; Arkady forced a smile on his face. Bazarov simply stretched. The conversation went on in this way for about an hour; Arkady had time to go to his room, which turned out to be the anteroom attached to the bathroom, but was very snug and clean. At last Tanyusha came in and announced that dinner was ready.
Vassily Ivanovitch was the first to get up. 'Come, gentlemen. You must be magnanimous and pardon me if I've bored you. I daresay my good wife will give you more satisfaction.'
The dinner, though prepared in haste, turned out to be very good, even abundant; only the wine was not quite up to the mark; it was almost black sherry, bought by Timofeitch in the town at a well-known merchant's, and had a faint coppery, resinous taste, and the flies were a great nuisance. On ordinary days a serf-boy used to keep driving them away with a large green branch; but on this occasion Vassily Ivanovitch had sent him away through dread of the criticism of the younger generation. Arina Vlasyevna had had time to dress: she had put on a high cap with silk ribbons and a pale blue flowered shawl. She broke down again directly she caught sight of her Enyusha, but her husband had no need to admonish her; she made haste to wipe away her tears herself, for fear of spotting her shawl. Only the young men ate anything; the master and mistress of the house had dined long ago. Fedka waited at table, obviously encumbered by having boots on for the first time; he was assisted by a woman of a masculine cast of face and one eye, by name Anfisushka, who performed the duties of housekeeper, poultry-woman, and laundress. Vassily Ivanovitch walked up and down during the whole of dinner, and with a perfectly happy, positively beatific countenance, talked about the serious anxiety he felt at Napoleon's policy, and the intricacy of the Italian question. Arina Vlasyevna took no notice of Arkady. She did not press him to eat; leaning her round face, to which the full cherry-coloured lips and the little moles on the cheeks and over the eyebrows gave a very simple good-natured expression, on her little closed fist, she did not take her eyes off her son, and kept constantly sighing; she was dying to know for how long he had come, but she was afraid to ask him.
'What if he says for two days,' she thought, and her heart sank. After the roast Vassily Ivanovitch disappeared for an instant, and returned with an opened half-bottle of champagne. 'Here,' he cried, 'though we do live in the wilds, we have something to make merry with on festive occasions!' He filled three champagne glasses and a little wineglass, proposed the health of 'our inestimable guests,' and at once tossed off his glass in military fashion; while he made Arina Vlasyevna drink her wineglass to the last drop. When the time came in due course for preserves, Arkady, who could not bear anything sweet, thought it his duty, however, to taste four different kinds which had been freshly made, all the more as Bazarov flatly refused them and began at once smoking a cigarette. Then tea came on the scene with cream, butter, and cracknels; then Vassily Ivanovitch took them all into the garden to admire the beauty of the evening. As they passed a garden seat he whispered to Arkady—
'At this spot I love to meditate, as I watch the sunset; it suits a recluse like me. And there, a little farther off, I have planted some of the trees beloved of Horace.'
'What trees?' asked Bazarov, overhearing.
'Oh ... acacias.'
Bazarov began to yawn.
'I imagine it's time our travellers were in the arms of Morpheus,' observed Vassily Ivanovitch.
'That is, it's time for bed,' Bazarov put in. 'That's a correct idea. It is time, certainly.'
As he said good-night to his mother, he kissed her on the forehead, while she embraced him, and stealthily behind his back she gave him her blessing three times. Vassily Ivanovitch conducted Arkady to his room, and wished him 'as refreshing repose as I enjoyed at your happy years.' And Arkady did as a fact sleep excellently in his bath-house; there was a smell of mint in it, and two crickets behind the stove rivalled each other in their drowsy chirping. Vassily Ivanovitch went from Arkady's room to his study, and perching on the sofa at his son's feet, he was looking forward to having a chat with him; but Bazarov at once sent him away, saying he was sleepy, and did not fall asleep till morning. With wide open eyes he stared vindictively into the darkness; the memories of childhood had no power over him; and besides, he had not yet had time to get rid of the impression of his recent bitter emotions. Arina Vlasyevna first prayed to her heart's content, then she had a long, long conversation with Anfisushka, who stood stock-still before her mistress, and fixing her solitary eye upon her, communicated in a mysterious whisper all her observations and conjectures in regard to Yevgeny Vassilyevitch. The old lady's head was giddy with happiness and wine and tobacco smoke; her husband tried to talk to her, but with a wave of his hand gave it up in despair.
Arina Vlasyevna was a genuine Russian gentlewoman of the olden times; she ought to have lived two centuries before, in the old Moscow days. She was very devout and emotional; she believed in fortune-telling, charms, dreams, and omens of every possible kind; she believed in the prophecies of crazy people, in house-spirits, in wood-spirits, in unlucky meetings, in the evil eye, in popular remedies, she ate specially prepared salt on Holy Thursday, and believed that the end of the world was at hand; she believed that if on Easter Sunday the lights did not go out at vespers, then there would be a good crop of buckwheat, and that a mushroom will not grow after it has been looked on by the eye of man; she believed that the devil likes to be where there is water, and that every Jew has a blood-stained patch on his breast; she was afraid of mice, of snakes, of frogs, of sparrows, of leeches, of thunder, of cold water, of draughts, of horses, of goats, of red-haired people, and black cats, and she regarded crickets and dogs as unclean beasts; she never ate veal, doves, crayfishes, cheese, asparagus, artichokes, hares, nor water-melons, because a cut water-melon suggested the head of John the Baptist, and of oysters she could not speak without a shudder; she was fond of eating—and fasted rigidly; she slept ten hours out of the twenty-four—and never went to bed at all if Vassily Ivanovitch had so much as a headache; she had never read a single book except Alexis or the Cottage in the Forest; she wrote one, or at the most two letters in a year, but was great in housewifery, preserving, and jam-making, though with her own hands she never touched a thing, and was generally disinclined to move from her place. Arina Vlasyevna was very kindhearted, and in her way not at all stupid. She knew that the world is divided into masters whose duty it is to command, and simple folk whose duty it is to serve them—and so she felt no repugnance to servility and prostrations to the ground; but she treated those in subjection to her kindly and gently, never let a single beggar go away empty-handed, and never spoke ill of any one, though she was fond of gossip. In her youth she had been pretty, had played the clavichord, and spoken French a little; but in the course of many years' wanderings with her husband, whom she had married against her will, she had grown stout, and forgotten music and French. Her son she loved and feared unutterably; she had given up the management of the property to Vassily Ivanovitch—and now did not interfere in anything; she used to groan, wave her handkerchief, and raise her eyebrows higher and higher with horror directly her old husband began to discuss the impending government reforms and his own plans. She was apprehensive, and constantly expecting some great misfortune, and began to weep directly she remembered anything sorrowful.... Such women are not common nowadays. God knows whether we ought to rejoice!
On getting up Arkady opened the window, and the first object that met his view was Vassily Ivanovitch. In an Oriental dressing-gown girt round the waist with a pocket-handkerchief he was industriously digging in his garden. He perceived his young visitor, and leaning on his spade, he called, 'The best of health to you! How have you slept?'
'Capitally,' answered Arkady.
'Here am I, as you see, like some Cincinnatus, marking out a bed for late turnips. The time has come now—and thank God for it!—when every one ought to obtain his sustenance with his own hands; it's useless to reckon on others; one must labour oneself. And it turns out that Jean Jacques Rousseau is right. Half an hour ago, my dear young gentleman, you might have seen me in a totally different position. One peasant woman, who complained of looseness—that's how they express it, but in our language, dysentery—I ... how can I express it best? I administered opium, and for another I extracted a tooth. I proposed an anæsthetic to her ... but she would not consent. All that I do gratis—anamatyer (en amateur). I'm used to it, though; you see, I'm a plebeian, homo novus—not one of the old stock, not like my spouse.... Wouldn't you like to come this way into the shade, to breathe the morning freshness a little before tea?'
Arkady went out to him.
'Welcome once again,' said Vassily Ivanovitch, raising his hand in a military salute to the greasy skull-cap which covered his head. 'You, I know, are accustomed to luxury, to amusements, but even the great ones of this world do not disdain to spend a brief space under a cottage roof.'
'Good heavens,' protested Arkady, 'as though I were one of the great ones of this world! And I'm not accustomed to luxury.'
'Pardon me, pardon me,' rejoined Vassily Ivanovitch with a polite simper. 'Though I am laid on the shelf now, I have knocked about the world too—I can tell a bird by its flight. I am something of a psychologist too in my own way, and a physiognomist. If I had not, I will venture to say, been endowed with that gift, I should have come to grief long ago; I should have stood no chance, a poor man like me. I tell you without flattery, I am sincerely delighted at the friendship I observe between you and my son. I have just seen him; he got up as he usually does—no doubt you are aware of it—very early, and went a ramble about the neighbourhood. Permit me to inquire—have you known my son long?'
'Since last winter.'
'Indeed. And permit me to question you further—but hadn't we better sit down? Permit me, as a father, to ask without reserve, What is your opinion of my Yevgeny?'
'Your son is one of the most remarkable men I have ever met,' Arkady answered emphatically.
Vassily Ivanovitch's eyes suddenly grew round, and his cheeks were suffused with a faint flush. The spade fell out of his hand.
'And so you expect,' he began ...
'I'm convinced,' Arkady put in, 'that your son has a great future before him; that he will do honour to your name. I've been certain of that ever since I first met him.'
'How ... how was that?' Vassily Ivanovitch articulated with an effort. His wide mouth was relaxed in a triumphant smile, which would not leave it.
'Would you like me to tell you how we met?'
'Yes ... and altogether....'
Arkady began to tell his tale, and to talk of Bazarov with even greater warmth, even greater enthusiasm than he had done on the evening when he danced a mazurka with Madame Odintsov.
Vassily Ivanovitch listened and listened, blinked, and rolled his handkerchief up into a ball in both his hands, cleared his throat, ruffled up his hair, and at last could stand it no longer; he bent down to Arkady and kissed him on his shoulder. 'You have made me perfectly happy,' he said, never ceasing to smile. 'I ought to tell you, I ... idolise my son; my old wife I won't speak of—we all know what mothers are!—but I dare not show my feelings before him, because he doesn't like it. He is averse to every kind of demonstration of feeling; many people even find fault with him for such firmness of character, and regard it as a proof of pride or lack of feeling, but men like him ought not to be judged by the common standard, ought they? And here, for example, many another fellow in his place would have been a constant drag on his parents; but he, would you believe it? has never from the day he was born taken a farthing more than he could help, that's God's truth!'
'He is a disinterested, honest man,' observed Arkady.
'Exactly so; he is disinterested. And I don't only idolise him, Arkady Nikolaitch, I am proud of him, and the height of my ambition is that some day there will be the following lines in his biography: "The son of a simple army-doctor, who was, however, capable of divining his greatness betimes, and spared nothing for his education ..."' The old man's voice broke.
Arkady pressed his hand.
'What do you think,' inquired Vassily Ivanovitch, after a short silence, 'will it be in the career of medicine that he will attain the celebrity you anticipate for him?'
'Of course, not in medicine, though even in that department he will be one of the leading scientific men.'
'In what then, Arkady Nikolaitch?'
'It would he hard to say now, but he will be famous.'
'He will be famous!' repeated the old man, and he sank into a reverie.
'Arina Vlasyevna sent me to call you in to tea,' announced Anfisushka, coming by with an immense dish of ripe raspberries.
Vassily Ivanovitch started. 'And will there be cooled cream for the raspberries?'
'Cold now, mind! Don't stand on ceremony, Arkady Nikolaitch; take some more. How is it Yevgeny doesn't come?'
'I'm here,' was heard Bazarov's voice from Arkady's room.
Vassily Ivanovitch turned round quickly. 'Aha! you wanted to pay a visit to your friend; but you were too late, amice, and we have already had a long conversation with him. Now we must go in to tea, mother summons us. By the way, I want to have a little talk with you.'
'There's a peasant here; he's suffering from icterus....
'You mean jaundice?'
'Yes, a chronic and very obstinate case of icterus. I have prescribed him centaury and St. John's wort, ordered him to eat carrots, given him soda; but all that's merely palliative measures; we want some more decided treatment. Though you do laugh at medicine, I am certain you can give me practical advice. But we will talk of that later. Now come in to tea.'
Vassily Ivanovitch jumped up briskly from the garden seat, and hummed from Robert le Diable—
'The rule, the rule we set ourselves,
To live, to live for pleasure!'
'Singular vitality!' observed Bazarov, going away from the window.
It was midday. The sun was burning hot behind a thin veil of unbroken whitish clouds. Everything was hushed; there was no sound but the cocks crowing irritably at one another in the village, producing in every one who heard them a strange sense of drowsiness and ennui; and somewhere, high up in a tree-top, the incessant plaintive cheep of a young hawk. Arkady and Bazarov lay in the shade of a small haystack, putting under themselves two armfuls of dry and rustling, but still greenish and fragrant grass.
'That aspen-tree,' began Bazarov, 'reminds me of my childhood; it grows at the edge of the clay-pits where the bricks were dug, and in those days I believed firmly that that clay-pit and aspen-tree possessed a peculiar talismanic power; I never felt dull near them. I did not understand then that I was not dull, because I was a child. Well, now I'm grown up, the talisman's lost its power.'
'How long did you live here altogether?' asked Arkady.
'Two years on end; then we travelled about. We led a roving life, wandering from town to town for the most part.'
'And has this house been standing long?'
'Yes. My grandfather built it—my mother's father.'
'Who was he—your grandfather?'
'Devil knows. Some second-major. He served with Suvorov, and was always telling stories about the crossing of the Alps—inventions probably.'
'You have a portrait of Suvorov hanging in the drawing-room. I like these dear little houses like yours; they're so warm and old-fashioned; and there's always a special sort of scent about them.'
'A smell of lamp-oil and clover,' Bazarov remarked, yawning. 'And the flies in those dear little houses.... Faugh!'
'Tell me,' began Arkady, after a brief pause, 'were they strict with you when you were a child?'
'You can see what my parents are like. They're not a severe sort.'
'Are you fond of them, Yevgeny?'
'I am, Arkady.'
'How fond they are of you!'
Bazarov was silent for a little. 'Do you know what I'm thinking about?' he brought out at last, clasping his hands behind his head.
'No. What is it?'
'I'm thinking life is a happy thing for my parents. My father at sixty is fussing around, talking about "palliative" measures, doctoring people, playing the bountiful master with the peasants—having a festive time, in fact; and my mother's happy too; her day's so chockful of duties of all sorts, and sighs and groans that she's no time even to think of herself; while I ...'
'I think; here I lie under a haystack.... The tiny space I occupy is so infinitely small in comparison with the rest of space, in which I am not, and which has nothing to do with me; and the period of time in which it is my lot to live is so petty beside the eternity in which I have not been, and shall not be.... And in this atom, this mathematical point, the blood is circulating, the brain is working and wanting something.... Isn't it loathsome? Isn't it petty?'
'Allow me to remark that what you're saying applies to men in general.'
'You are right,' Bazarov cut in. 'I was going to say that they now—my parents, I mean—are absorbed and don't trouble themselves about their own nothingness; it doesn't sicken them ... while I ... I feel nothing but weariness and anger.'
'Anger? why anger?'
'Why? How can you ask why? Have you forgotten?'
'I remember everything, but still I don't admit that you have any right to be angry. You're unlucky, I'll allow, but ...'
'Pooh! then you, Arkady Nikolaevitch, I can see, regard love like all modern young men; cluck, cluck, cluck you call to the hen, but if the hen comes near you, you run away. I'm not like that. But that's enough of that. What can't be helped, it's shameful to talk about.' He turned over on his side. 'Aha! there goes a valiant ant dragging off a half-dead fly. Take her, brother, take her! Don't pay attention to her resistance; it's your privilege as an animal to be free from the sentiment of pity—make the most of it—not like us conscientious self-destructive animals!'
'You shouldn't say that, Yevgeny! When have you destroyed yourself?'
Bazarov raised his head. 'That's the only thing I pride myself on. I haven't crushed myself, so a woman can't crush me. Amen! It's all over! You shall not hear another word from me about it.'
Both the friends lay for some time in silence.
'Yes,' began Bazarov, 'man's a strange animal. When one gets a side view from a distance of the dead-alive life our "fathers" lead here, one thinks, What could be better? You eat and drink, and know you are acting in the most reasonable, most judicious manner. But if not, you're devoured by ennui. One wants to have to do with people if only to abuse them.'
'One ought so to order one's life that every moment in it should be of significance,' Arkady affirmed reflectively.
'I dare say! What's of significance is sweet, however mistaken; one could make up one's mind to what's insignificant even. But pettiness, pettiness, that's what's insufferable.'
'Pettiness doesn't exist for a man so long as he refuses to recognise it.'
'H'm ... what you've just said is a common-place reversed.'
'What? What do you mean by that term?'
'I'll tell you; saying, for instance, that education is beneficial, that's a common-place; but to say that education is injurious, that's a common-place turned upside down. There's more style about it, so to say, but in reality it's one and the same.'
'And the truth is—where, which side?'
'Where? Like an echo I answer, Where?'
'You're in a melancholy mood to-day, Yevgeny.'
'Really? The sun must have softened my brain, I suppose, and I can't stand so many raspberries either.'
'In that case, a nap's not a bad thing,' observed Arkady.
'Certainly; only don't look at me; every man's face is stupid when he's asleep.'
'But isn't it all the same to you what people think of you?'
'I don't know what to say to you. A real man ought not to care; a real man is one whom it's no use thinking about, whom one must either obey or hate.'
'It's funny! I don't hate anybody,' observed Arkady, after a moment's thought.
'And I hate so many. You are a soft-hearted, mawkish creature; how could you hate any one?... You're timid; you don't rely on yourself much.'
'And you,' interrupted Arkady, 'do you expect much of yourself? Have you a high opinion of yourself?'
Bazarov paused. 'When I meet a man who can hold his own beside me,' he said, dwelling on every syllable, 'then I'll change my opinion of myself. Yes, hatred! You said, for instance, to-day as we passed our bailiff Philip's cottage—it's the one that's so nice and clean—well, you said, Russia will come to perfection when the poorest peasant has a house like that, and every one of us ought to work to bring it about.... And I felt such a hatred for this poorest peasant, this Philip or Sidor, for whom I'm to be ready to jump out of my skin, and who won't even thank me for it ... and why should he thank me? Why, suppose he does live in a clean house, while the nettles are growing out of me,—well what do I gain by it?'
'Hush, Yevgeny ... if one listened to you to-day one would be driven to agreeing with those who reproach us for want of principles.'
'You talk like your uncle. There are no general principles—you've not made out that even yet! There are feelings. Everything depends on them.'
'Why, I, for instance, take up a negative attitude, by virtue of my sensations; I like to deny—my brain's made on that plan, and that's all about it! Why do I like chemistry? Why do you like apples?—by virtue of our sensations. It's all the same thing. Deeper than that men will never penetrate. Not every one will tell you that, and, in fact, I shan't tell you so another time.'
'What? and is honesty a matter of the senses?'
'I should rather think so.'
'Yevgeny!' Arkady was beginning in a dejected voice ...
'Well? What? Isn't it to your taste?' broke in Bazarov. 'No, brother. If you've made up your mind to mow down everything, don't spare your own legs. But we've talked enough metaphysics. "Nature breathes the silence of sleep," said Pushkin.'
'He never said anything of the sort,' protested Arkady.
'Well, if he didn't, as a poet he might have—and ought to have said it. By the way, he must have been a military man.'
'Pushkin never was a military man!'
'Why, on every page of him there's, "To arms! to arms! for Russia's honour!"'
'Why, what stories you invent! I declare, it's positive calumny.'
'Calumny? That's a mighty matter! What a word he's found to frighten me with! Whatever charge you make against a man, you may be certain he deserves twenty times worse than that in reality.'
'We had better go to sleep,' said Arkady, in a tone of vexation.
'With the greatest pleasure,' answered Bazarov. But neither of them slept. A feeling almost of hostility had come over both the young men. Five minutes later, they opened their eyes and glanced at one another in silence.
'Look,' said Arkady suddenly, 'a dry maple leaf has come off and is falling to the earth; its movement is exactly like a butterfly's flight. Isn't it strange? Gloom and decay—like brightness and life.'
'Oh, my friend, Arkady Nikolaitch!' cried Bazarov, 'one thing I entreat of you; no fine talk.'
'I talk as best I can.... And, I declare, its perfect despotism. An idea came into my head; why shouldn't I utter it?'
'Yes; and why shouldn't I utter my ideas? I think that fine talk's positively indecent.'
'And what is decent? Abuse?'
'Ha! ha! you really do intend, I see, to walk in your uncle's footsteps. How pleased that worthy imbecile would have been if he had heard you!'
'What did you call Pavel Petrovitch?'
'I called him, very justly, an imbecile.'
'But this is unbearable!' cried Arkady.
'Aha! family feeling spoke there,' Bazarov commented coolly. 'I've noticed how obstinately it sticks to people. A man's ready to give up everything and break with every prejudice; but to admit that his brother, for instance, who steals handkerchiefs, is a thief—that's too much for him. And when one comes to think of it: my brother, mine—and no genius ... that's an idea no one can swallow.'
'It was a simple sense of justice spoke in me and not in the least family feeling,' retorted Arkady passionately. 'But since that's a sense you don't understand, since you haven't that sensation, you can't judge of it.'
'In other words, Arkady Kirsanov is too exalted for my comprehension. I bow down before him and say no more.'
'Don't, please, Yevgeny; we shall really quarrel at last.'
'Ah, Arkady! do me a kindness. I entreat you, let us quarrel for once in earnest....'
'But then perhaps we should end by ...'
'Fighting?' put in Bazarov. 'Well? Here, on the hay, in these idyllic surroundings, far from the world and the eyes of men, it wouldn't matter. But you'd be no match for me. I'll have you by the throat in a minute.'
Bazarov spread out his long, cruel fingers.... Arkady turned round and prepared, as though in jest, to resist.... But his friend's face struck him as so vindictive—there was such menace in grim earnest in the smile that distorted his lips, and in his glittering eyes, that he felt instinctively afraid.
'Ah! so this is where you have got to!' the voice of Vassily Ivanovitch was heard saying at that instant, and the old army-doctor appeared before the young men, garbed in a home-made linen pea-jacket, with a straw hat, also home-made, on his head. 'I've been looking everywhere for you.... Well, you've picked out a capital place, and you're excellently employed. Lying on the "earth, gazing up to heaven." Do you know, there's a special significance in that?'
'I never gaze up to heaven except when I want to sneeze,' growled Bazarov, and turning to Arkady he added in an undertone. 'Pity he interrupted us.'
'Come, hush!' whispered Arkady, and he secretly squeezed his friend's hand. But no friendship can long stand such shocks.
'I look at you, my youthful friends,' Vassily Ivanovitch was saying meantime, shaking his head, and leaning his folded arms on a rather cunningly bent stick of his own carving, with a Turk's figure for a top,—'I look, and I cannot refrain from admiration. You have so much strength, such youth and bloom, such abilities, such talents! Positively, a Castor and Pollux!'
'Get along with you—going off into mythology!' commented Bazarov. 'You can see at once that he was a great Latinist in his day! Why, I seem to remember, you gained the silver medal for Latin prose—didn't you?'
'The Dioscuri, the Dioscuri!' repeated Vassily Ivanovitch.
'Come, shut up, father; don't show off.'
'Once in a way it's surely permissible,' murmured the old man. 'However, I have not been seeking for you, gentlemen, to pay you compliments; but with the object, in the first place, of announcing to you that we shall soon be dining; and secondly, I wanted to prepare you, Yevgeny.... You are a sensible man, you know the world, and you know what women are, and consequently you will excuse.... Your mother wished to have a Te Deum sung on the occasion of your arrival. You must not imagine that I am inviting you to attend this thanksgiving—it is over indeed now; but Father Alexey ...'
'The village parson?'
'Well, yes, the priest; he ... is to dine ... with us.... I did not anticipate this, and did not even approve of it ... but it somehow came about ... he did not understand me.... And, well ... Arina Vlasyevna ... Besides, he's a worthy, reasonable man.'
'He won't eat my share at dinner, I suppose?' queried Bazarov.
Vassily Ivanovitch laughed. 'How you talk!'
'Well, that's all I ask. I'm ready to sit down to table with any man.'
Vassily Ivanovitch set his hat straight. 'I was certain before I spoke,' he said, 'that you were above any kind of prejudice. Here am I, an old man at sixty-two, and I have none.' (Vassily Ivanovitch did not dare to confess that he had himself desired the thanksgiving service. He was no less religious than his wife.) 'And Father Alexey very much wanted to make your acquaintance. You will like him, you'll see. He's no objection even to cards, and he sometimes—but this is between ourselves ... positively smokes a pipe.'
'All right. We'll have a round of whist after dinner, and I'll clean him out.'
'He! he! he! We shall see! That remains to be seen.'
'I know you're an old hand,' said Bazarov, with a peculiar emphasis.
Vassily Ivanovitch's bronzed cheeks were suffused with an uneasy flush.
'For shame, Yevgeny.... Let bygones be bygones. Well, I'm ready to acknowledge before this gentleman I had that passion in my youth; and I have paid for it too! How hot it is, though! Let me sit down with you. I shan't be in your way, I hope?'
'Oh, not at all,' answered Arkady.
Vassily Ivanovitch lowered himself, sighing, into the hay. 'Your present quarters remind me, my dear sirs,' he began, 'of my military bivouacking existence, the ambulance halts, somewhere like this under a haystack, and even for that we were thankful.' He sighed. 'I had many, many experiences in my life. For example, if you will allow me, I will tell you a curious episode of the plague in Bessarabia.'
'For which you got the Vladimir cross?' put in Bazarov. 'We know, we know.... By the way, why is it you're not wearing it?'
'Why, I told you that I have no prejudices,' muttered Vassily Ivanovitch (he had only the evening before had the red ribbon unpicked off his coat), and he proceeded to relate the episode of the plague. 'Why, he's fallen asleep,' he whispered all at once to Arkady, pointing to Yevgeny, and winking good-naturedly. 'Yevgeny! get up,' he went on aloud. 'Let's go in to dinner.'
Father Alexey, a good-looking stout man with thick, carefully-combed hair, with an embroidered girdle round his lilac silk cassock, appeared to be a man of much tact and adaptability. He made haste to be the first to offer his hand to Arkady and Bazarov, as though understanding beforehand that they did not want his blessing, and he behaved himself in general without constraint. He neither derogated from his own dignity, nor gave offence to others; he vouchsafed a passing smile at the seminary Latin, and stood up for his bishop; drank two small glasses of wine, but refused a third; accepted a cigar from Arkady, but did not proceed to smoke it, saying he would take it home with him. The only thing not quite agreeable about him was a way he had of constantly raising his hand with care and deliberation to catch the flies on his face, sometimes succeeding in smashing them. He took his seat at the green table, expressing his satisfaction at so doing in measured terms, and ended by winning from Bazarov two roubles and a half in paper money; they had no idea of even reckoning in silver in the house of Arina Vlasyevna.... She was sitting, as before, near her son (she did not play cards), her cheek, as before, propped on her little fist; she only got up to order some new dainty to be served. She was afraid to caress Bazarov, and he gave her no encouragement, he did not invite her caresses; and besides, Vassily Ivanovitch had advised her not to 'worry' him too much. 'Young men are not fond of that sort of thing,' he declared to her. (It's needless to say what the dinner was like that day; Timofeitch in person had galloped off at early dawn for beef; the bailiff had gone off in another direction for turbot, gremille, and crayfish; for mushrooms alone forty-two farthings had been paid the peasant women in copper); but Arina Vlasyevna's eyes, bent steadfastly on Bazarov, did not express only devotion and tenderness; in them was to be seen sorrow also, mingled with awe and curiosity; there was to be seen too a sort of humble reproachfulness.
Bazarov, however, was not in a humour to analyse the exact expression of his mother's eyes; he seldom turned to her, and then only with some short question. Once he asked her for her hand 'for luck'; she gently laid her soft, little hand on his rough, broad palm.
'Well,' she asked, after waiting a little, 'has it been any use?'
'Worse luck than ever,' he answered, with a careless laugh.
'He plays too rashly,' pronounced Father Alexey, as it were compassionately, and he stroked his beard.
'Napoleon's rule, good Father, Napoleon's rule,' put in Vassily Ivanovitch, leading an ace.
'It brought him to St. Helena, though,' observed Father Alexey, as he trumped the ace.
'Wouldn't you like some currant tea, Enyusha?' inquired Arina Vlasyevna.
Bazarov merely shrugged his shoulders.
'No!' he said to Arkady the next day. I'm off from here to-morrow. I'm bored; I want to work, but I can't work here. I will come to your place again; I've left all my apparatus there too. In your house one can at any rate shut oneself up. While here my father repeats to me, "My study is at your disposal—nobody shall interfere with you," and all the time he himself is never a yard away. And I'm ashamed somehow to shut myself away from him. It's the same thing too with mother. I hear her sighing the other side of the wall, and if one goes in to her, one's nothing to say to her.'
'She will be very much grieved,' observed Arkady, 'and so will he.'
'I shall come back again to them.'
'Why, when on my way to Petersburg.'
'I feel sorry for your mother particularly.'
'Why's that? Has she won your heart with strawberries, or what?'
Arkady dropped his eyes. 'You don't understand your mother, Yevgeny. She's not only a very good woman, she's very clever really. This morning she talked to me for half-an-hour, and so sensibly, interestingly.'
'I suppose she was expatiating upon me all the while?'
'We didn't talk only about you.'
'Perhaps; lookers-on see most. If a woman can keep up half-an-hour's conversation, it's always a hopeful sign. But I'm going, all the same.'
'It won't be very easy for you to break it to them. They are always making plans for what we are to do in a fortnight's time.'
'No; it won't be easy. Some demon drove me to tease my father to-day; he had one of his rent-paying peasants flogged the other day, and quite right too—yes, yes, you needn't look at me in such horror—he did quite right, because he's an awful thief and drunkard; only my father had no idea that I, as they say, was cognisant of the facts. He was greatly perturbed, and now I shall have to upset him more than ever.... Never mind! Never say die! He'll get over it!'
Bazarov said, 'Never mind'; but the whole day passed before he could make up his mind to inform Vassily Ivanovitch of his intentions. At last, when he was just saying good-night to him in the study, he observed, with a feigned yawn—
'Oh ... I was almost forgetting to tell you.... Send to Fedot's for our horses to-morrow.'
Vassily Ivanovitch was dumbfounded. 'Is Mr. Kirsanov leaving us, then?'
'Yes; and I'm going with him.'
Vassily Ivanovitch positively reeled. 'You are going?'
'Yes ... I must. Make the arrangements about the horses, please.'
'Very good....' faltered the old man; 'to Fedot's ... very good ... only ... only.... How is it?'
'I must go to stay with him for a little time. I will come back again later.'
'Ah! For a little time ... very good.' Vassily Ivanovitch drew out his handkerchief, and, blowing his nose, doubled up almost to the ground. 'Well ... everything shall be done. I had thought you were to be with us ... a little longer. Three days.... After three years, it's rather little; rather little, Yevgeny!'
'But, I tell you, I'm coming back directly. It's necessary for me to go.'
'Necessary.... Well! Duty before everything. So the horses shall be in readiness. Very good. Arina and I, of course, did not anticipate this. She has just begged some flowers from a neighbour; she meant to decorate the room for you.' (Vassily Ivanovitch did not even mention that every morning almost at dawn he took counsel with Timofeitch, standing with his bare feet in his slippers, and pulling out with trembling fingers one dog's-eared rouble note after another, charged him with various purchases, with special reference to good things to eat, and to red wine, which, as far as he could observe, the young men liked extremely.) 'Liberty ... is the great thing; that's my rule.... I don't want to hamper you ... not ...'
He suddenly ceased, and made for the door.
'We shall soon see each other again, father, really.'
But Vassily Ivanovitch, without turning round, merely waved his hand and was gone. When he got back to his bedroom he found his wife in bed, and began to say his prayers in a whisper, so as not to wake her up. She woke, however. 'Is that you, Vassily Ivanovitch?' she asked.
'Have you come from Enyusha? Do you know, I'm afraid of his not being comfortable on that sofa. I told Anfisushka to put him on your travelling mattress and the new pillows; I should have given him our feather-bed, but I seem to remember he doesn't like too soft a bed....'
'Never mind, mother; don't worry yourself. He's all right. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner,' he went on with his prayer in a low voice. Vassily Ivanovitch was sorry for his old wife; he did not mean to tell her over night what a sorrow there was in store for her.
Bazarov and Arkady set off the next day. From early morning all was dejection in the house; Anfisushka let the tray slip out of her hands; even Fedka was bewildered, and was reduced to taking off his boots. Vassily Ivanitch was more fussy than ever; he was obviously trying to put a good face on it, talked loudly, and stamped with his feet, but his face looked haggard, and his eyes were continually avoiding his son. Arina Vlasyevna was crying quietly; she was utterly crushed, and could not have controlled herself at all if her husband had not spent two whole hours early in the morning exhorting her. When Bazarov, after repeated promises to come back certainly not later than in a month's time, tore himself at last from the embraces detaining him, and took his seat in the coach; when the horses had started, the bell was ringing, and the wheels were turning round, and when it was no longer any good to look after them, and the dust had settled, and Timofeitch, all bent and tottering as he walked, had crept back to his little room; when the old people were left alone in their little house, which seemed suddenly to have grown shrunken and decrepit too, Vassily Ivanovitch, after a few more moments of hearty waving of his handkerchief on the steps, sank into a chair, and his head dropped on to his breast. 'He has cast us off; he has forsaken us,' he faltered; 'forsaken us; he was dull with us. Alone, alone!' he repeated several times. Then Arina Vlasyevna went up to him, and, leaning her grey head against his grey head, said, 'There's no help for it, Vasya! A son is a separate piece cut off. He's like the falcon that flies home and flies away at his pleasure; while you and I are like funguses in the hollow of a tree, we sit side by side, and don't move from our place. Only I am left you unchanged for ever, as you for me.'
Vassily Ivanovitch took his hands from his face and clasped his wife, his friend, as warmly as he had never clasped in youth; she comforted him in his grief.
In silence, only rarely exchanging a few insignificant words, our friends travelled as far as Fedot's. Bazarov was not altogether pleased with himself. Arkady was displeased with him. He was feeling, too, that causeless melancholy which is only known to very young people. The coachman changed the horses, and getting up on to the box, inquired, 'To the right or to the left?'
Arkady started. The road to the right led to the town, and from there home; the road to the left led to Madame Odintsov's.
He looked at Bazarov.
'Yevgeny,' he queried; 'to the left?'
Bazarov turned away. 'What folly is this?' he muttered.
'I know it's folly,' answered Arkady.... 'But what does that matter? It's not the first time.'
Bazarov pulled his cap down over his brows. 'As you choose,' he said at last. 'Turn to the left,' shouted Arkady.
The coach rolled away in the direction of Nikolskoe. But having resolved on the folly, the friends were even more obstinately silent than before, and seemed positively ill-humoured.
Directly the steward met them on the steps of Madame Odintsov's house, the friends could perceive that they had acted injudiciously in giving way so suddenly to a passing impulse. They were obviously not expected. They sat rather a long while, looking rather foolish, in the drawing-room. Madame Odintsov came in to them at last. She greeted them with her customary politeness, but was surprised at their hasty return; and, so far as could be judged from the deliberation of her gestures and words, she was not over pleased at it. They made haste to announce that they had only called on their road, and must go on farther, to the town, within four hours. She confined herself to a light exclamation, begged Arkady to remember her to his father, and sent for her aunt. The princess appeared very sleepy, which gave her wrinkled old face an even more ill-natured expression. Katya was not well; she did not leave her room. Arkady suddenly realised that he was at least as anxious to see Katya as Anna Sergyevna herself. The four hours were spent in insignificant discussion of one thing and another; Anna Sergyevna both listened and spoke without a smile. It was only quite at parting that her former friendliness seemed, as it were, to revive.
'I have an attack of spleen just now,' she said; 'but you must not pay attention to that, and come again—I say this to both of you—before long.'
Both Bazarov and Arkady responded with a silent bow, took their seats in the coach, and without stopping again anywhere, went straight home to Maryino, where they arrived safely on the evening of the following day. During the whole course of the journey neither one nor the other even mentioned the name of Madame Odintsov; Bazarov, in particular, scarcely opened his mouth, and kept staring in a side direction away from the road, with a kind of exasperated intensity.
At Maryino every one was exceedingly delighted to see them. The prolonged absence of his son had begun to make Nikolai Petrovitch uneasy; he uttered a cry of joy, and bounced about on the sofa, dangling his legs, when Fenitchka ran to him with sparkling eyes, and informed him of the arrival of the 'young gentlemen'; even Pavel Petrovitch was conscious of some degree of agreeable excitement, and smiled condescendingly as he shook hands with the returned wanderers. Talk, questions followed; Arkady talked most, especially at supper, which was prolonged long after midnight. Nikolai Petrovitch ordered up some bottles of porter which had only just been sent from Moscow, and partook of the festive beverage till his cheeks were crimson, and he kept laughing in a half-childish, half-nervous little chuckle. Even the servants were infected by the general gaiety. Dunyasha ran up and down like one possessed, and was continually slamming doors; while Piotr was, at three o'clock in the morning, still attempting to strum a Cossack waltz on the guitar. The strings gave forth a sweet and plaintive sound in the still air; but with the exception of a small preliminary flourish, nothing came of the cultured valet's efforts; nature had given him no more musical talent than all the rest of the world.
But meanwhile things were not going over harmoniously at Maryino, and poor Nikolai Petrovitch was having a bad time of it. Difficulties on the farm sprang up every day—senseless, distressing difficulties. The troubles with the hired labourers had become insupportable. Some asked for their wages to be settled, or for an increase of wages, while others made off with the wages they had received in advance; the horses fell sick; the harness fell to pieces as though it were burnt; the work was carelessly done; a threshing machine that had been ordered from Moscow turned out to be useless from its great weight, another was ruined the first time it was used; half the cattle sheds were burnt down through an old blind woman on the farm going in windy weather with a burning brand to fumigate her cow ... the old woman, it is true, maintained that the whole mischief could be traced to the master's plan of introducing newfangled cheeses and milk-products. The overseer suddenly turned lazy, and began to grow fat, as every Russian grows fat when he gets a snug berth. When he caught sight of Nikolai Petrovitch in the distance, he would fling a stick at a passing pig, or threaten a half-naked urchin, to show his zeal, but the rest of the time he was generally asleep. The peasants who had been put on the rent system did not bring their money at the time due, and stole the forest-timber; almost every night the keepers caught peasants' horses in the meadows of the 'farm,' and sometimes forcibly bore them off. Nikolai Petrovitch would fix a money fine for damages, but the matter usually ended after the horses had been kept a day or two on the master's forage by their returning to their owners. To crown all, the peasants began quarrelling among themselves; brothers asked for a division of property, their wives could not get on together in one house; all of a sudden the squabble, as though at a given signal, came to a head, and at once the whole village came running to the counting-house steps, crawling to the master often drunken and with battered face, demanding justice and judgment; then arose an uproar and clamour, the shrill wailing of the women mixed with the curses of the men. Then one had to examine the contending parties, and shout oneself hoarse, knowing all the while that one could never anyway arrive at a just decision.... There were not hands enough for the harvest; a neighbouring small owner, with the most benevolent countenance, contracted to supply him with reapers for a commission of two roubles an acre, and cheated him in the most shameless fashion; his peasant women demanded unheard-of sums, and the corn meanwhile went to waste; and here they were not getting on with the mowing, and there the Council of Guardians threatened and demanded prompt payment, in full, of interest due....
'I can do nothing!' Nikolai Petrovitch cried more than once in despair. 'I can't flog them myself; and as for calling in the police captain, my principles don't allow of it, while you can do nothing with them without the fear of punishment!'
'Du calme, du calme,' Pavel Petrovitch would remark upon this, but even he hummed to himself, knitted his brows, and tugged at his moustache.
Bazarov held aloof from these matters, and indeed as a guest it was not for him to meddle in other people's business. The day after his arrival at Maryino, he set to work on his frogs, his infusoria, and his chemical experiments, and was for ever busy with them. Arkady, on the contrary, thought it his duty, if not to help his father, at least to make a show of being ready to help him. He gave him a patient hearing, and once offered him some advice, not with any idea of its being acted upon, but to show his interest. Farming details did not arouse any aversion in him; he used even to dream with pleasure of work on the land, but at this time his brain was swarming with other ideas. Arkady, to his own astonishment, thought incessantly of Nikolskoe; in former days he would simply have shrugged his shoulders if any one had told him that he could ever feel dull under the same roof as Bazarov—and that roof his father's! but he actually was dull and longed to get away. He tried going long walks till he was tired, but that was no use. In conversation with his father one day, he found out that Nikolai Petrovitch had in his possession rather interesting letters, written by Madame Odintsov's mother to his wife, and he gave him no rest till he got hold of the letters, for which Nikolai Petrovitch had to rummage in twenty drawers and boxes. Having gained possession of these half-crumbling papers, Arkady felt, as it were, soothed, just as though he had caught a glimpse of the goal towards which he ought now to go. 'I mean that for both of you,' he was constantly whispering—she had added that herself! 'I'll go, I'll go, hang it all!' But he recalled the last visit, the cold reception, and his former embarrassment, and timidity got the better of him. The 'go-ahead' feeling of youth, the secret desire to try his luck, to prove his powers in solitude, without the protection of any one whatever, gained the day at last. Before ten days had passed after his return to Maryino, on the pretext of studying the working of the Sunday schools, he galloped off to the town again, and from there to Nikolskoe. Urging the driver on without intermission, he flew along, like a young officer riding to battle; and he felt both frightened and light-hearted, and was breathless with impatience. 'The great thing is—one mustn't think,' he kept repeating to himself. His driver happened to be a lad of spirit; he halted before every public house, saying, 'A drink or not a drink?' but, to make up for it, when he had drunk he did not spare his horses. At last the lofty roof of the familiar house came in sight.... 'What am I to do?' flashed through Arkady's head. 'Well, there's no turning back now!' The three horses galloped in unison; the driver whooped and whistled at them. And now the bridge was groaning under the hoofs and wheels, and now the avenue of lopped pines seemed running to meet them.... There was a glimpse of a woman's pink dress against the dark green, a young face from under the light fringe of a parasol.... He recognised Katya, and she recognised him. Arkady told the driver to stop the galloping horses, leaped out of the carriage, and went up to her. 'It's you!' she cried, gradually flushing all over; 'let us go to my sister, she's here in the garden; she will be pleased to see you.'
Katya led Arkady into the garden. His meeting with her struck him as a particularly happy omen; he was delighted to see her, as though she were of his own kindred. Everything had happened so splendidly; no steward, no formal announcement. At a turn in the path he caught sight of Anna Sergyevna. She was standing with her back to him. Hearing footsteps, she turned slowly round.
Arkady felt confused again, but the first words she uttered soothed him at once. 'Welcome back, runaway!' she said in her even, caressing voice, and came to meet him, smiling and frowning to keep the sun and wind out of her eyes. 'Where did you pick him up, Katya?'
'I have brought you something, Anna Sergyevna,' he began, 'which you certainly don't expect.'
'You have brought yourself; that's better than anything.'
Having seen Arkady off with ironical compassion, and given him to understand that he was not in the least deceived as to the real object of his journey, Bazarov shut himself up in complete solitude; he was overtaken by a fever for work. He did not dispute now with Pavel Petrovitch, especially as the latter assumed an excessively aristocratic demeanour in his presence, and expressed his opinions more in inarticulate sounds than in words. Only on one occasion Pavel Petrovitch fell into a controversy with the nihilist on the subject of the question then much discussed of the rights of the nobles of the Baltic province; but suddenly he stopped of his own accord, remarking with chilly politeness, 'However, we cannot understand one another; I, at least, have not the honour of understanding you.'
'I should think not!' cried Bazarov. 'A man's capable of understanding anything—how the æther vibrates, and what's going on in the sun—but how any other man can blow his nose differently from him, that he's incapable of understanding.'
'What, is that an epigram?' observed Pavel Petrovitch inquiringly, and he walked away.
However, he sometimes asked permission to be present at Bazarov's experiments, and once even placed his perfumed face, washed with the very best soap, near the microscope to see how a transparent infusoria swallowed a green speck, and busily munched it with two very rapid sort of clappers which were in its throat. Nikolai Petrovitch visited Bazarov much oftener than his brother; he would have come every day, as he expressed it, to 'study,' if his worries on the farm had not taken off his attention. He did not hinder the young man in his scientific researches; he used to sit down somewhere in a corner of the room and look on attentively, occasionally permitting himself a discreet question. During dinner and supper-time he used to try to turn the conversation upon physics, geology, or chemistry, seeing that all other topics, even agriculture, to say nothing of politics, might lead, if not to collisions, at least to mutual unpleasantness. Nikolai Petrovitch surmised that his brother's dislike for Bazarov was no less. An unimportant incident, among many others, confirmed his surmises. The cholera began to make its appearance in some places in the neighbourhood, and even 'carried off' two persons from Maryino itself. In the night Pavel Petrovitch happened to have rather severe symptoms. He was in pain till the morning, but did not have recourse to Bazarov's skill. And when he met him the following day, in reply to his question, 'Why he had not sent for him?' answered, still quite pale, but scrupulously brushed and shaved, 'Why, I seem to recollect you said yourself you didn't believe in medicine.' So the days went by. Bazarov went on obstinately and grimly working ... and meanwhile there was in Nikolai Petrovitch's house one creature to whom, if he did not open his heart, he at least was glad to talk.... That creature was Fenitchka.
He used to meet her for the most part early in the morning, in the garden, or the farmyard; he never used to go to her room to see her, and she had only once been to his door to inquire—ought she to let Mitya have his bath or not? It was not only that she confided in him, that she was not afraid of him—she was positively freer and more at her ease in her behaviour with him than with Nikolai Petrovitch himself. It is hard to say how it came about; perhaps it was because she unconsciously felt the absence in Bazarov of all gentility, of all that superiority which at once attracts and overawes. In her eyes he was both an excellent doctor and a simple man. She looked after her baby without constraint in his presence; and once when she was suddenly attacked with giddiness and headache—she took a spoonful of medicine from his hand. Before Nikolai Petrovitch she kept, as it were, at a distance from Bazarov; she acted in this way not from hypocrisy, but from a kind of feeling of propriety. Pavel Petrovitch she was more afraid of than ever; for some time he had begun to watch her, and would suddenly make his appearance, as though he sprang out of the earth behind her back, in his English suit, with his immovable vigilant face, and his hands in his pockets. 'It's like a bucket of cold water on one,' Fenitchka complained to Dunyasha, and the latter sighed in response, and thought of another 'heartless' man. Bazarov, without the least suspicion of the fact, had become the cruel tyrant of her heart.
Fenitchka liked Bazarov; but he liked her too. His face was positively transformed when he talked to her; it took a bright, almost kind expression, and his habitual nonchalance was replaced by a sort of jesting attentiveness. Fenitchka was growing prettier every day. There is a time in the life of young women when they suddenly begin to expand and blossom like summer roses; this time had come for Fenitchka. Dressed in a delicate white dress, she seemed herself slighter and whiter; she was not tanned by the sun; but the heat, from which she could not shield herself, spread a slight flush over her cheeks and ears, and, shedding a soft indolence over her whole body, was reflected in a dreamy languor in her pretty eyes. She was almost unable to work; her hands seem to fall naturally into her lap. She scarcely walked at all, and was constantly sighing and complaining with comic helplessness.
'You should go oftener to bathe,' Nikolai Petrovitch told her. He had made a large bath covered in with an awning in one of his ponds which had not yet quite disappeared.
'Oh, Nikolai Petrovitch! But by the time one gets to the pond, one's utterly dead, and, coming back, one's dead again. You see, there's no shade in the garden.'
'That's true, there's no shade,' replied Nikolai Petrovitch, rubbing his forehead.
One day at seven o'clock in the morning Bazarov, returning from a walk, came upon Fenitchka in the lilac arbour, which was long past flowering, but was still thick and green. She was sitting on the garden seat, and had as usual thrown a white kerchief over her head; near her lay a whole heap of red and white roses still wet with dew. He said good morning to her.
'Ah! Yevgeny Vassilyitch!' she said, and lifted the edge of her kerchief a little to look at him, in doing which her arm was left bare to the elbow.
'What are you doing here?' said Bazarov, sitting down beside her. 'Are you making a nosegay?'
'Yes, for the table at lunch. Nikolai Petrovitch likes it.'
'But it's a long while yet to lunch time. What a heap of flowers!'
'I gathered them now, for it will be hot then, and one can't go out. One can only just breathe now. I feel quite weak with the heat. I'm really afraid whether I'm not going to be ill.'
'What an idea! Let me feel your pulse.' Bazarov took her hand, felt for the evenly-beating pulse, but did not even begin to count its throbs. 'You'll live a hundred years!' he said, dropping her hand.
'Ah, God forbid!' she cried.
'Why? Don't you want a long life?'
'Well, but a hundred years! There was an old woman near us eighty-five years old—and what a martyr she was! Dirty and deaf and bent and coughing all the time; nothing but a burden to herself. That's a dreadful life!'
'So it's better to be young?'
'Well, isn't it?'
'But why is it better? Tell me!'
'How can you ask why? Why, here I now, while I'm young, I can do everything—go and come and carry, and needn't ask any one for anything.... What can be better?'
'And to me it's all the same whether I'm young or old.'
'How do you mean—it's all the same? It's not possible what you say.'
'Well, judge for yourself, Fedosya Nikolaevna, what good is my youth to me. I live alone, a poor lonely creature ...'
'That always depends on you.'
'It doesn't at all depend on me! At least, some one ought to take pity on me.'
Fenitchka gave a sidelong look at Bazarov, but said nothing. 'What's this book you have?' she asked after a short pause.
'That? That's a scientific book, very difficult.'
'And are you still studying? And don't you find it dull? You know everything already I should say.'
'It seems not everything. You try to read a little.'
'But I don't understand anything here. Is it Russian?' asked Fenitchka, taking the heavily bound book in both hands. 'How thick it is!'
'Yes, it's Russian.'
'All the same, I shan't understand anything.'
'Well, I didn't give it you for you to understand it. I wanted to look at you while you were reading. When you read, the end of your little nose moves so nicely.'
Fenitchka, who had set to work to spell out in a low voice the article on 'Creosote' she had chanced upon, laughed and threw down the book ... it slipped from the seat on to the ground.
'I like it too when you laugh,' observed Bazarov.
'I like it when you talk. It's just like a little brook babbling.'
Fenitchka turned her head away. 'What a person you are to talk!' she commented, picking the flowers over with her finger. 'And how can you care to listen to me? You have talked with such clever ladies.'
'Ah, Fedosya Nikolaevna! believe me; all the clever ladies in the world are not worth your little elbow.'
'Come, there's another invention!' murmured Fenitchka, clasping her hands.
Bazarov picked the book up from the ground.
'That's a medical book; why do you throw it away?'
'Medical?' repeated Fenitchka, and she turned to him again. 'Do you know, ever since you gave me those drops—do you remember?—Mitya has slept so well! I really can't think how to thank you; you are so good, really.'
'But you have to pay doctors,' observed Bazarov with a smile. 'Doctors, you know yourself, are grasping people.'
Fenitchka raised her eyes, which seemed still darker from the whitish reflection cast on the upper part of her face, and looked at Bazarov. She did not know whether he was joking or not.
'If you please, we shall be delighted.... I must ask Nikolai Petrovitch ...'
'Why, do you think I want money?' Bazarov interposed. 'No; I don't want money from you.'
'What then?' asked Fenitchka.
'What?' repeated Bazarov. 'Guess!'
'A likely person I am to guess!'
'Well, I will tell you; I want ... one of those roses.'
Fenitchka laughed again, and even clapped her hands, so amusing Bazarov's request seemed to her. She laughed, and at the same time felt flattered. Bazarov was looking intently at her.
'By all means,' she said at last; and, bending down to the seat, she began picking over the roses. 'Which will you have—a red one or a white one?'
'Red, and not too large.'
She sat up again. 'Here, take it,' she said, but at once drew back her outstretched hand, and, biting her lips, looked towards the entrance of the arbour, then listened.
'What is it?' asked Bazarov. 'Nikolai Petrovitch?'
'No ... Mr. Kirsanov has gone to the fields ... besides, I'm not afraid of him ... but Pavel Petrovitch ... I fancied ...'
'I fancied he was coming here. No ... it was no one. Take it.' Fenitchka gave Bazarov the rose.
'On what grounds are you afraid of Pavel Petrovitch?'
'He always scares me. And I know you don't like him. Do you remember, you always used to quarrel with him? I don't know what your quarrel was about, but I can see you turn him about like this and like that.'
Fenitchka showed with her hands how in her opinion Bazarov turned Pavel Petrovitch about.
Bazarov smiled. 'But if he gave me a beating,' he asked, 'would you stand up for me?'
'How could I stand up for you? but no, no one will get the better of you.'
'Do you think so? But I know a hand which could overcome me if it liked.'
'Why, don't you know, really? Smell, how delicious this rose smells you gave me.'
Fenitchka stretched her little neck forward, and put her face close to the flower.... The kerchief slipped from her head on to her shoulders; her soft mass of dark, shining, slightly ruffled hair was visible.
'Wait a minute; I want to smell it with you,' said Bazarov. He bent down and kissed her vigorously on her parted lips.
She started, pushed him back with both her hands on his breast, but pushed feebly, and he was able to renew and prolong his kiss.
A dry cough was heard behind the lilac bushes. Fenitchka instantly moved away to the other end of the seat. Pavel Petrovitch showed himself, made a slight bow, and saying with a sort of malicious mournfulness, 'You are here,' he retreated. Fenitchka at once gathered up all her roses and went out of the arbour. 'It was wrong of you, Yevgeny Vassilyevitch,' she whispered as she went. There was a note of genuine reproach in her whisper.
Bazarov remembered another recent scene, and he felt both shame and contemptuous annoyance. But he shook his head directly, ironically congratulated himself 'on his final assumption of the part of the gay Lothario,' and went off to his own room.
Pavel Petrovitch went out of the garden, and made his way with deliberate steps to the copse. He stayed there rather a long while; and when he returned to lunch, Nikolai Petrovitch inquired anxiously whether he were quite well—his face looked so gloomy.
'You know, I sometimes suffer with my liver,' Pavel Petrovitch answered tranquilly.