Two hours later he knocked at Bazarov's door.
'I must apologise for hindering you in your scientific pursuits,' he began, seating himself on a chair in the window, and leaning with both hands on a handsome walking-stick with an ivory knob (he usually walked without a stick), 'but I am constrained to beg you to spare me five minutes of your time ... no more.'
'All my time is at your disposal,' answered Bazarov, over whose face there passed a quick change of expression directly Pavel Petrovitch crossed the threshold.
'Five minutes will be enough for me. I have come to put a single question to you.'
'A question? What is it about?'
'I will tell you, if you will kindly hear me out. At the commencement of your stay in my brother's house, before I had renounced the pleasure of conversing with you, it was my fortune to hear your opinions on many subjects; but so far as my memory serves, neither between us, nor in my presence, was the subject of single combats and duelling in general broached. Allow me to hear what are your views on that subject?'
Bazarov, who had risen to meet Pavel Petrovitch, sat down on the edge of the table and folded his arms.
'My view is,' he said, 'that from the theoretical standpoint, duelling is absurd; from the practical standpoint, now—it's quite a different matter.'
'That is, you mean to say, if I understand you right, that whatever your theoretical views on duelling, you would not in practice allow yourself to be insulted without demanding satisfaction?'
'You have guessed my meaning absolutely.'
'Very good. I am very glad to hear you say so. Your words relieve me from a state of incertitude.'
'Of uncertainty, you mean to say.'
'That is all the same! I express myself so as to be understood; I ... am not a seminary rat. Your words save me from a rather deplorable necessity. I have made up my mind to fight you.'
Bazarov opened his eyes wide. 'Me?'
'But what for, pray?'
'I could explain the reason to you,' began Pavel Petrovitch, 'but I prefer to be silent about it. To my idea your presence here is superfluous; I cannot endure you; I despise you; and if that is not enough for you ...'
Pavel Petrovitch's eyes glittered ... Bazarov's too were flashing.
'Very good,' he assented. 'No need of further explanations. You've a whim to try your chivalrous spirit upon me. I might refuse you this pleasure, but—so be it!'
'I am sensible of my obligation to you,' replied Pavel Petrovitch; 'and may reckon then on your accepting my challenge without compelling me to resort to violent measures.'
'That means, speaking without metaphor, to that stick?' Bazarov remarked coolly. 'That is precisely correct. It's quite unnecessary for you to insult me. Indeed, it would not be a perfectly safe proceeding. You can remain a gentleman.... I accept your challenge, too, like a gentleman.'
'That is excellent,' observed Pavel Petrovitch, putting his stick in the corner. 'We will say a few words directly about the conditions of our duel; but I should like first to know whether you think it necessary to resort to the formality of a trifling dispute, which might serve as a pretext for my challenge?'
'No; it's better without formalities.'
'I think so myself. I presume it is also out of place to go into the real grounds of our difference. We cannot endure one another. What more is necessary?'
'What more, indeed?' repeated Bazarov ironically.
'As regards the conditions of the meeting itself, seeing that we shall have no seconds—for where could we get them?'
'Exactly so; where could we get them?'
'Then I have the honour to lay the following proposition before you: The combat to take place early to-morrow, at six, let us say, behind the copse, with pistols, at a distance of ten paces....'
'At ten paces? that will do; we hate one another at that distance.'
'We might have it eight,' remarked Pavel Petrovitch.
'To fire twice; and, to be ready for any result, let each put a letter in his pocket, in which he accuses himself of his end.'
'Now, that I don't approve of at all,' observed Bazarov. 'There's a slight flavour of the French novel about it, something not very plausible.'
'Perhaps. You will agree, however, that it would be unpleasant to incur a suspicion of murder?'
'I agree as to that. But there is a means of avoiding that painful reproach. We shall have no seconds, but we can have a witness.'
'And whom, allow me to inquire?'
'Your brother's valet. He's a man who has attained to the acme of contemporary culture, and he will perform his part with all the comilfo (comme il faut) necessary in such cases.'
'I think you are joking, sir.'
'Not at all. If you think over my suggestion, you will be convinced that it's full of common-sense and simplicity. You can't hide a candle under a bushel; but I'll undertake to prepare Piotr in a fitting manner, and bring him on to the field of battle.'
'You persist in jesting still,' Pavel Petrovitch declared, getting up from his chair. 'But after the courteous readiness you have shown me, I have no right to pretend to lay down.... And so, everything is arranged.... By the way, perhaps you have no pistols?'
'How should I have pistols, Pavel Petrovitch? I'm not in the army.'
'In that case, I offer you mine. You may rest assured that it's five years now since I shot with them.'
'That's a very consoling piece of news.'
Pavel Petrovitch took up his stick.... 'And now, my dear sir, it only remains for me to thank you and to leave you to your studies. I have the honour to take leave of you.'
'Till we have the pleasure of meeting again, my dear sir,' said Bazarov, conducting his visitor to the door.
Pavel Petrovitch went out, while Bazarov remained standing a minute before the door, and suddenly exclaimed, 'Pish, well, I'm dashed! how fine, and how foolish! A pretty farce we've been through! Like trained dogs dancing on their hind-paws. But to decline was out of the question; why, I do believe he'd have struck me, and then ...' (Bazarov turned white at the very thought; all his pride was up in arms at once)—'then it might have come to my strangling him like a cat.' He went back to his microscope, but his heart was beating, and the composure necessary for taking observations had disappeared. 'He caught sight of us to-day,' he thought; 'but would he really act like this on his brother's account? And what a mighty matter is it—a kiss? There must be something else in it. Bah! isn't he perhaps in love with her himself? To be sure, he's in love; it's as clear as day. What a complication! It's a nuisance!' he decided at last; 'it's a bad job, look at it which way you will. In the first place, to risk a bullet through one's brains, and in any case to go away; and then Arkady ... and that dear innocent pussy, Nikolai Petrovitch. It's a bad job, an awfully bad job.'
The day passed in a kind of peculiar stillness and languor. Fenitchka gave no sign of her existence; she sat in her little room like a mouse in its hole. Nikolai Petrovitch had a careworn air. He had just heard that blight had begun to appear in his wheat, upon which he had in particular rested his hopes. Pavel Petrovitch overwhelmed every one, even Prokofitch, with his icy courtesy. Bazarov began a letter to his father, but tore it up, and threw it under the table.
'If I die,' he thought, 'they will find it out; but I'm not going to die. No, I shall struggle along in this world a good while yet.' He gave Piotr orders to come to him on important business the next morning directly it was light. Piotr imagined that he wanted to take him to Petersburg with him. Bazarov went late to bed, and all night long he was harassed by disordered dreams.... Madame Odintsov kept appearing in them, now she was his mother, and she was followed by a kitten with black whiskers, and this kitten seemed to be Fenitchka; then Pavel Petrovitch took the shape of a great wood, with which he had yet to fight. Piotr waked him up at four o'clock; he dressed at once, and went out with him.
It was a lovely, fresh morning; tiny flecked clouds hovered overhead in little curls of foam on the pale clear blue; a fine dew lay in drops on the leaves and grass, and sparkled like silver on the spiders' webs; the damp, dark earth seemed still to keep traces of the rosy dawn; from the whole sky the songs of larks came pouring in showers. Bazarov walked as far as the copse, sat down in the shade at its edge, and only then disclosed to Piotr the nature of the service he expected of him. The refined valet was mortally alarmed; but Bazarov soothed him by the assurance that he would have nothing to do but stand at a distance and look on, and that he would not incur any sort of responsibility. 'And meantime,' he added, 'only think what an important part you have to play!' Piotr threw up his hands, looked down, and leaned against a birch-tree, looking green with terror.
The road from Maryino skirted the copse; a light dust lay on it, untouched by wheel or foot since the previous day. Bazarov unconsciously stared along this road, picked and gnawed a blade of grass, while he kept repeating to himself, 'What a piece of foolery!' The chill of the early morning made him shiver twice.... Piotr looked at him dejectedly, but Bazarov only smiled; he was not afraid.
The tramp of horses' hoofs was heard along the road.... A peasant came into sight from behind the trees. He was driving before him two horses hobbled together, and as he passed Bazarov he looked at him rather strangely, without touching his cap, which it was easy to see disturbed Piotr, as an unlucky omen. 'There's some one else up early too,' thought Bazarov; 'but he at least has got up for work, while we ...'
'Fancy the gentleman's coming,' Piotr faltered suddenly.
Bazarov raised his head and saw Pavel Petrovitch. Dressed in a light check jacket and snow-white trousers, he was walking rapidly along the road; under his arm he carried a box wrapped up in green cloth.
'I beg your pardon, I believe I have kept you waiting,' he observed, bowing first to Bazarov, then to Piotr, whom he treated respectfully at that instant, as representing something in the nature of a second. 'I was unwilling to wake my man.'
'It doesn't matter,' answered Bazarov; 'we've only just arrived ourselves.'
'Ah! so much the better!' Pavel Petrovitch took a look round. 'There's no one in sight; no one hinders us. We can proceed?'
'Let us proceed.'
'You do not, I presume, desire any fresh explanations?'
'No, I don't.'
'Would you like to load?' inquired Pavel Petrovitch, taking the pistols out of the box.
'No; you load, and I will measure out the paces. My legs are longer,' added Bazarov with a smile. 'One, two, three.'
'Yevgeny Vassilyevitch,' Piotr faltered with an effort (he shaking as though he were in a fever), 'say what you like, I am going farther off.'
'Four ... five.... Good. Move away, my good fellow, move away; you may get behind a tree even, and stop up your ears, only don't shut your eyes; and if any one falls, run and pick him up. Six ... seven ... eight....' Bazarov stopped. 'Is that enough?' he said, turning to Pavel Petrovitch; 'or shall I add two paces more?'
'As you like,' replied the latter, pressing down the second bullet.
'Well, we'll make it two paces more.' Bazarov drew a line on the ground with the toe of his boot. 'There's the barrier then. By the way, how many paces may each of us go back from the barrier? That's an important question too. That point was not discussed yesterday.'
'I imagine, ten,' replied Pavel Petrovitch, handing Bazarov both pistols. 'Will you be so good as to choose?'
'I will be so good. But, Pavel Petrovitch, you must admit our combat is singular to the point of absurdity. Only look at the countenance of our second.'
'You are disposed to laugh at everything,' answered Pavel Petrovitch. 'I acknowledge the strangeness of our duel, but I think it my duty to warn you that I intend to fight seriously. A bon entendeur, salut!'
'Oh! I don't doubt that we've made up our minds to make away with each other; but why not laugh too and unite utile dulci? You talk to me in French, while I talk to you in Latin.'
'I am going to fight in earnest,' repeated Pavel Petrovitch, and he walked off to his place. Bazarov on his side counted off ten paces from the barrier, and stood still.
'Are you ready?' asked Pavel Petrovitch.
'We can approach one another.'
Bazarov moved slowly forward, and Pavel Petrovitch, his left hand thrust in his pocket, walked towards him, gradually raising the muzzle of his pistol.... 'He's aiming straight at my nose,' thought Bazarov, 'and doesn't he blink down it carefully, the ruffian! Not an agreeable sensation though. I'm going to look at his watch chain.'
Something whizzed sharply by his very ear, and at the same instant there was the sound of a shot. 'I heard it, so it must be all right,' had time to flash through Bazarov's brain. He took one more step, and without taking aim, pressed the spring.
Pavel Petrovitch gave a slight start, and clutched at his thigh. A stream of blood began to trickle down his white trousers.
Bazarov flung aside the pistol, and went up to his antagonist. 'Are you wounded?' he said.
'You had the right to call me up to the barrier,' said Pavel Petrovitch, 'but that's of no consequence. According to our agreement, each of us has the right to one more shot.'
'All right, but, excuse me, that'll do another time,' answered Bazarov, catching hold of Pavel Petrovitch, who was beginning to turn pale. 'Now, I'm not a duellist, but a doctor, and I must have a look at your wound before anything else. Piotr! come here, Piotr! where have you got to?'
'That's all nonsense.... I need no one's aid,' Pavel Petrovitch declared jerkily, 'and ... we must ... again ...' He tried to pull at his moustaches, but his hand failed him, his eyes grew dim, and he lost consciousness.
'Here's a pretty pass! A fainting fit! What next!' Bazarov cried unconsciously, as he laid Pavel Petrovitch on the grass. 'Let's have a look what's wrong.' He pulled out a handkerchief, wiped away the blood, and began feeling round the wound.... 'The bone's not touched,' he muttered through his teeth; 'the ball didn't go deep; one muscle, vastus externus, grazed. He'll be dancing about in three weeks!... And to faint! Oh, these nervous people, how I hate them! My word, what a delicate skin!'
'Is he killed?' the quaking voice of Piotr came rustling behind his back.
Bazarov looked round. 'Go for some water as quick as you can, my good fellow, and he'll outlive us yet.'
But the modern servant seemed not to understand his words, and he did not stir. Pavel Petrovitch slowly opened his eyes. 'He will die!' whispered Piotr, and he began crossing himself.
'You are right ... What an imbecile countenance!' remarked the wounded gentleman with a forced smile.
'Well, go for the water, damn you!' shouted Bazarov.
'No need.... It was a momentary vertigo.... Help me to sit up ... there, that's right.... I only need something to bind up this scratch, and I can reach home on foot, or you can send a droshky for me. The duel, if you are willing, shall not be renewed. You have behaved honourably ... to-day, to-day—observe.'
'There's no need to recall the past,' rejoined Bazarov; 'and as regards the future, it's not worth while for you to trouble your head about that either, for I intend being off without delay. Let me bind up your leg now; your wound's not serious, but it's always best to stop bleeding. But first I must bring this corpse to his senses.'
Bazarov shook Piotr by the collar, and sent him for a droshky.
'Mind you don't frighten my brother,' Pavel Petrovitch said to him; 'don't dream of informing him.'
Piotr flew off; and while he was running for a droshky, the two antagonists sat on the ground and said nothing. Pavel Petrovitch tried not to look at Bazarov; he did not want to be reconciled to him in any case; he was ashamed of his own haughtiness, of his failure; he was ashamed of the whole position he had brought about, even while he felt it could not have ended in a more favourable manner. 'At any rate, there will be no scandal,' he consoled himself by reflecting, 'and for that I am thankful.' The silence was prolonged, a silence distressing and awkward. Both of them were ill at ease. Each was conscious that the other understood him. That is pleasant to friends, and always very unpleasant to those who are not friends, especially when it is impossible either to have things out or to separate.
'Haven't I bound up your leg too tight?' inquired Bazarov at last.
'No, not at all; it's capital,' answered Pavel Petrovitch; and after a brief pause, he added, 'There's no deceiving my brother; we shall have to tell him we quarrelled over politics.'
'Very good,' assented Bazarov. 'You can say I insulted all anglomaniacs.'
'That will do capitally. What do you imagine that man thinks of us now?' continued Pavel Petrovitch, pointing to the same peasant, who had driven the hobbled horses past Bazarov a few minutes before the duel, and going back again along the road, took off his cap at the sight of the 'gentlefolk.'
'Who can tell!' answered Bazarov; 'it's quite likely he thinks nothing. The Russian peasant is that mysterious unknown about whom Mrs. Radcliffe used to talk so much. Who is to understand him! He doesn't understand himself!'
'Ah! so that's your idea!' Pavel Petrovitch began; and suddenly he cried, 'Look what your fool of a Piotr has done! Here's my brother galloping up to us!'
Bazarov turned round and saw the pale face of Nikolai Petrovitch, who was sitting in the droshky. He jumped out of it before it had stopped, and rushed up to his brother.
'What does this mean?' he said in an agitated voice. 'Yevgeny Vassilyitch, pray, what is this?'
'Nothing,' answered Pavel Petrovitch; 'they have alarmed you for nothing. I had a little dispute with Mr. Bazarov, and I have had to pay for it a little.'
'But what was it all about, mercy on us!'
'How can I tell you? Mr. Bazarov alluded disrespectfully to Sir Robert Peel. I must hasten to add that I am the only person to blame in all this, while Mr. Bazarov has behaved most honourably. I called him out.'
'But you're covered with blood, good Heavens!'
'Well, did you suppose I had water in my veins? But this blood-letting is positively beneficial to me. Isn't that so, doctor? Help me to get into the droshky, and don't give way to melancholy. I shall be quite well to-morrow. That's it; capital. Drive on, coachman.'
Nikolai Petrovitch walked after the droshky; Bazarov was remaining where he was....
'I must ask you to look after my brother,' Nikolai Petrovitch said to him, 'till we get another doctor from the town.'
Bazarov nodded his head without speaking. In an hour's time Pavel Petrovitch was already lying in bed with a skilfully bandaged leg. The whole house was alarmed; Fenitchka fainted. Nikolai Petrovitch kept stealthily wringing his hands, while Pavel Petrovitch laughed and joked, especially with Bazarov; he had put on a fine cambric night-shirt, an elegant morning wrapper, and a fez, did not allow the blinds to be drawn down, and humorously complained of the necessity of being kept from food.
Towards night, however, he began to be feverish; his head ached. The doctor arrived from the town. (Nikolai Petrovitch would not listen to his brother, and indeed Bazarov himself did not wish him to; he sat the whole day in his room, looking yellow and vindictive, and only went in to the invalid for as brief a time as possible; twice he happened to meet Fenitchka, but she shrank away from him with horror.) The new doctor advised a cooling diet; he confirmed, however, Bazarov's assertion that there was no danger. Nikolai Petrovitch told him his brother had wounded himself by accident, to which the doctor responded, 'Hm!' but having twenty-five silver roubles slipped into his hand on the spot, he observed, 'You don't say so! Well, it's a thing that often happens, to be sure.'
No one in the house went to bed or undressed. Nikolai Petrovitch kept going in to his brother on tiptoe, retreating on tiptoe again; the latter dozed, moaned a little, told him in French, Couchez-vous, and asked for drink. Nikolai Petrovitch sent Fenitchka twice to take him a glass of lemonade; Pavel Petrovitch gazed at her intently, and drank off the glass to the last drop. Towards morning the fever had increased a little; there was slight delirium. At first Pavel Petrovitch uttered incoherent words; then suddenly he opened his eyes, and seeing his brother near his bed bending anxiously over him, he said, 'Don't you think, Nikolai, Fenitchka has something in common with Nellie?'
'What Nellie, Pavel dear?'
'How can you ask? Princess R——. Especially in the upper part of the face. C'est de la même famille.'
Nikolai Petrovitch made no answer, while inwardly he marvelled at the persistence of old passions in man. 'It's like this when it comes to the surface,' he thought.
'Ah, how I love that light-headed creature!' moaned Pavel Petrovitch, clasping his hands mournfully behind his head. 'I can't bear any insolent upstart to dare to touch ...' he whispered a few minutes later.
Nikolai Petrovitch only sighed; he did not even suspect to whom these words referred.
Bazarov presented himself before him at eight o'clock the next day. He had already had time to pack, and to set free all his frogs, insects, and birds.
'You have come to say good-bye to me?' said Nikolai Petrovitch, getting up to meet him.
'I understand you, and approve of you fully. My poor brother, of course, is to blame; and he is punished for it. He told me himself that he made it impossible for you to act otherwise. I believe that you could not avoid this duel, which ... which to some extent is explained by the almost constant antagonism of your respective views.' (Nikolai Petrovitch began to get a little mixed up in his words.) 'My brother is a man of the old school, hot-tempered and obstinate.... Thank God that it has ended as it has. I have taken every precaution to avoid publicity.'
'I'm leaving you my address, in case there's any fuss,' Bazarov remarked casually.
'I hope there will be no fuss, Yevgeny Vassilyitch.... I am very sorry your stay in my house should have such a ... such an end. It is the more distressing to me through Arkady's ...'
'I shall be seeing him, I expect,' replied Bazarov, in whom 'explanations' and 'protestations' of every sort always aroused a feeling of impatience; 'in case I don't, I beg you to say good-bye to him for me, and accept the expression of my regret.'
'And I beg ...' answered Nikolai Petrovitch. But Bazarov went off without waiting for the end of his sentence.
When he heard of Bazarov's going, Pavel Petrovitch expressed a desire to see him, and shook his hand. But even then he remained as cold as ice; he realised that Pavel Petrovitch wanted to play the magnanimous. He did not succeed in saying good-bye to Fenitchka; he only exchanged glances with her at the window. Her face struck him as looking dejected. 'She'll come to grief, perhaps,' he said to himself.... 'But who knows? she'll pull through somehow, I dare say!' Piotr, however, was so overcome that he wept on his shoulder, till Bazarov damped him by asking if he'd a constant supply laid on in his eyes; while Dunyasha was obliged to run away into the wood to hide her emotion. The originator of all this woe got into a light cart, smoked a cigar, and when at the third mile, at the bend in the road, the Kirsanovs' farm, with its new house, could be seen in a long line, he merely spat, and muttering, 'Cursed snobs!' wrapped himself closer in his cloak.
Pavel Petrovitch was soon better; but he had to keep his bed about a week. He bore his captivity, as he called it, pretty patiently, though he took great pains over his toilette, and had everything scented with eau-de-cologne. Nikolai Petrovitch used to read him the journals; Fenitchka waited on him as before, brought him lemonade, soup, boiled eggs, and tea; but she was overcome with secret dread whenever she went into his room. Pavel Petrovitch's unexpected action had alarmed every one in the house, and her more than any one; Prokofitch was the only person not agitated by it; he discoursed upon how gentlemen in his day used to fight, but only with real gentlemen; low curs like that they used to order a horsewhipping in the stable for their insolence.
Fenitchka's conscience scarcely reproached her; but she was tormented at times by the thought of the real cause of the quarrel; and Pavel Petrovitch too looked at her so strangely ... that even when her back was turned, she felt his eyes upon her. She grew thinner from constant inward agitation, and, as is always the way, became still more charming.
One day—the incident took place in the morning—Pavel Petrovitch felt better and moved from his bed to the sofa, while Nikolai Petrovitch, having satisfied himself he was better, went off to the threshing-floor. Fenitchka brought him a cup of tea, and setting it down on a little table, was about to withdraw. Pavel Petrovitch detained her.
'Where are you going in such a hurry, Fedosya Nikolaevna?' he began; 'are you busy?'
'... I have to pour out tea.'
'Dunyasha will do that without you; sit a little while with a poor invalid. By the way, I must have a little talk with you.'
Fenitchka sat down on the edge of an easy-chair, without speaking.
'Listen,' said Pavel Petrovitch, tugging at his moustaches; 'I have long wanted to ask you something; you seem somehow afraid of me?'
'Yes, you. You never look at me, as though your conscience were not at rest.'
Fenitchka crimsoned, but looked at Pavel Petrovitch. He impressed her as looking strange, and her heart began throbbing slowly.
'Is your conscience at rest?' he questioned her.
'Why should it not be at rest?' she faltered.
'Goodness knows why! Besides, whom can you have wronged? Me? That is not likely. Any other people in the house here? That, too, is something incredible. Can it be my brother? But you love him, don't you?'
'I love him.'
'With your whole soul, with your whole heart?'
'I love Nikolai Petrovitch with my whole heart.'
'Truly? Look at me, Fenitchka.' (It was the first time he had called her that name.) 'You know, it's a great sin telling lies!'
'I am not telling lies, Pavel Petrovitch. Not love Nikolai Petrovitch—I shouldn't care to live after that.'
'And will you never give him up for any one?'
'For whom could I give him up?'
'For whom indeed! Well, how about that gentleman who has just gone away from here?'
Fenitchka got up. 'My God, Pavel Petrovitch, what are you torturing me for? What have I done to you? How can such things be said?'...
'Fenitchka,' said Pavel Petrovitch, in a sorrowful voice, 'you know I saw ...'
'What did you see?'
'Well, there ... in the arbour.'
Fenitchka crimsoned to her hair and to her ears. 'How was I to blame for that?' she articulated with an effort.
Pavel Petrovitch raised himself up. 'You were not to blame? No? Not at all?'
'I love Nikolai Petrovitch, and no one else in the world, and I shall always love him!' cried Fenitchka with sudden force, while her throat seemed fairly breaking with sobs. 'As for what you saw, at the dreadful day of judgment I will say I'm not to blame, and wasn't to blame for it, and I would rather die at once if people can suspect me of such a thing against my benefactor, Nikolai Petrovitch.'
But here her voice broke, and at the same time she felt that Pavel Petrovitch was snatching and pressing her hand.... She looked at him, and was fairly petrified. He had turned even paler than before; his eyes were shining, and what was most marvellous of all, one large solitary tear was rolling down his cheek.
'Fenitchka!' he was saying in a strange whisper; 'love him, love my brother! Don't give him up for any one in the world; don't listen to any one else! Think what can be more terrible than to love and not be loved! Never leave my poor Nikolai!'
Fenitchka's eyes were dry, and her terror had passed away, so great was her amazement. But what were her feelings when Pavel Petrovitch, Pavel Petrovitch himself, put her hand to his lips and seemed to pierce into it without kissing it, and only heaving convulsive sighs from time to time....
'Goodness,' she thought, 'isn't it some attack coming on him?'...
At that instant his whole ruined life was stirred up within him.
The staircase creaked under rapidly approaching footsteps.... He pushed her away from him, and let his head drop back on the pillow. The door opened, and Nikolai Petrovitch entered, cheerful, fresh, and ruddy. Mitya, as fresh and ruddy as his father, in nothing but his little shirt, was frisking on his shoulder, catching the big buttons of his rough country coat with his little bare toes.
Fenitchka simply flung herself upon him, and clasping him and her son together in her arms, dropped her head on his shoulder. Nikolai Petrovitch was surprised; Fenitchka, the reserved and staid Fenitchka, had never given him a caress in the presence of a third person.
'What's the matter?' he said, and, glancing at his brother, he gave her Mitya. 'You don't feel worse?' he inquired, going up to Pavel Petrovitch.
He buried his face in a cambric handkerchief. 'No ... not at all ... on the contrary, I am much better.'
'You were in too great a hurry to move on to the sofa. Where are you going?' added Nikolai Petrovitch, turning round to Fenitchka; but she had already closed the door behind her. 'I was bringing in my young hero to show you, he's been crying for his uncle. Why has she carried him off? What's wrong with you, though? Has anything passed between you, eh?'
'Brother!' said Pavel Petrovitch solemnly.
Nikolai Petrovitch started. He felt dismayed, he could not have said why himself.
'Brother,' repeated Pavel Petrovitch, 'give me your word that you will carry out my one request.'
'What request? Tell me.'
'It is very important; the whole happiness of your life, to my idea, depends on it. I have been thinking a great deal all this time over what I want to say to you now.... Brother, do your duty, the duty of an honest and generous man; put an end to the scandal and bad example you are setting—you, the best of men!'
'What do you mean, Pavel?'
'Marry Fenitchka.... She loves you; she is the mother of your son.'
Nikolai Petrovitch stepped back a pace, and flung up his hands. 'Do you say that, Pavel? you whom I have always regarded as the most determined opponent of such marriages! You say that? Don't you know that it has simply been out of respect for you that I have not done what you so rightly call my duty?'
'You were wrong to respect me in that case,' Pavel Petrovitch responded, with a weary smile. 'I begin to think Bazarov was right in accusing me of snobbishness. No dear brother, don't let us worry ourselves about appearances and the world's opinion any more; we are old folks and humble now; it's time we laid aside vanity of all kinds. Let us, just as you say, do our duty; and mind, we shall get happiness that way into the bargain.'
Nikolai Petrovitch rushed to embrace his brother.
'You have opened my eyes completely!' he cried. 'I was right in always declaring you the wisest and kindest-hearted fellow in the world, and now I see you are just as reasonable as you are noble-hearted.'
'Quietly, quietly,' Pavel Petrovitch interrupted him; 'don't hurt the leg of your reasonable brother, who at close upon fifty has been fighting a duel like an ensign. So, then, it's a settled matter; Fenitchka is to be my ... belle soeur.'
'My dearest Pavel! But what will Arkady say?'
'Arkady? he'll be in ecstasies, you may depend upon it! Marriage is against his principles, but then the sentiment of equality in him will be gratified. And, after all, what sense have class distinctions au dix-neuvième siècle?'
'Ah, Pavel, Pavel! let me kiss you once more! Don't be afraid, I'll be careful.'
The brothers embraced each other.
'What do you think, should you not inform her of your intention now?' queried Pavel Petrovitch.
'Why be in a hurry?' responded Nikolai Petrovitch. 'Has there been any conversation between you?'
'Conversation between us? Quelle idée!'
'Well, that is all right then. First of all, you must get well, and meanwhile there's plenty of time. We must think it over well, and consider ...'
'But your mind is made up, I suppose?'
'Of course, my mind is made up, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will leave you now; you must rest; any excitement is bad for you.... But we will talk it over again. Sleep well, dear heart, and God bless you!'
'What is he thanking me like that for?' thought Pavel Petrovitch, when he was left alone. 'As though it did not depend on him! I will go away directly he is married, somewhere a long way off—to Dresden or Florence, and will live there till I——'
Pavel Petrovitch moistened his forehead with eau de cologne, and closed his eyes. His beautiful, emaciated head, the glaring daylight shining full upon it, lay on the white pillow like the head of a dead man.... And indeed he was a dead man.
At Nikolskoe Katya and Arkady were sitting in the garden on a turf seat in the shade of a tall ash tree; Fifi had placed himself on the ground near them, giving his slender body that graceful curve, which is known among dog-fanciers as 'the hare bend.' Both Arkady and Katya were silent; he was holding a half-open book in his hands, while she was picking out of a basket the few crumbs of bread left in it, and throwing them to a small family of sparrows, who with the frightened impudence peculiar to them were hopping and chirping at her very feet. A faint breeze stirring in the ash leaves kept slowly moving pale-gold flecks of sunlight up and down over the path and Fifi's tawny back; a patch of unbroken shade fell upon Arkady and Katya; only from time to time a bright streak gleamed on her hair. Both were silent, but the very way in which they were silent, in which they were sitting together, was expressive of confidential intimacy; each of them seemed not even to be thinking of his companion, while secretly rejoicing in his presence. Their faces, too, had changed since we saw them last; Arkady looked more tranquil, Katya brighter and more daring.
'Don't you think,' began Arkady, 'that the ash has been very well named in Russian yasen; no other tree is so lightly and brightly transparent (yasno) against the air as it is.'
Katya raised her eyes to look upward, and assented, 'Yes'; while Arkady thought, 'Well, she does not reproach me for talking finely.'
'I don't like Heine,' said Katya, glancing towards the book which Arkady was holding in his hands, 'either when he laughs or when he weeps; I like him when he's thoughtful and melancholy.'
'And I like him when he laughs,' remarked Arkady.
'That's the relics left in you of your old satirical tendencies.' ('Relics!' thought Arkady—'if Bazarov had heard that?') 'Wait a little; we shall transform you.'
'Who will transform me? You?'
'Who?—my sister; Porfiry Platonovitch, whom you've given up quarrelling with; auntie, whom you escorted to church the day before yesterday.'
'Well, I couldn't refuse! And as for Anna Sergyevna, she agreed with Yevgeny in a great many things, you remember?'
'My sister was under his influence then, just as you were.'
'As I was? Do you discover, may I ask, that I've shaken off his influence now?'
Katya did not speak.
'I know,' pursued Arkady, 'you never liked him.'
'I can have no opinion about him.'
'Do you know, Katerina Sergyevna, every time I hear that answer I disbelieve it.... There is no man that every one of us could not have an opinion about! That's simply a way of getting out of it.'
'Well, I'll say, then, I don't.... It's not exactly that I don't like him, but I feel that he's of a different order from me, and I am different from him ... and you too are different from him.'
'How can I tell you.... He's a wild animal, and you and I are tame.'
'Am I tame too?'
Arkady scratched his ear. 'Let me tell you, Katerina Sergyevna, do you know, that's really an insult?'
'Why, would you like to be a wild——'
'Not wild, but strong, full of force.'
'It's no good wishing for that.... Your friend, you see, doesn't wish for it, but he has it.'
'Hm! So you imagine he had a great influence on Anna Sergyevna?'
'Yes. But no one can keep the upper hand of her for long,' added Katya in a low voice.
'Why do you think that?'
'She's very proud.... I didn't mean that ... she values her independence a great deal.'
'Who doesn't value it?' asked Arkady, and the thought flashed through his mind, 'What good is it?' 'What good is it?' it occurred to Katya to wonder too. When young people are often together on friendly terms, they are constantly stumbling on the same ideas.
Arkady smiled, and, coming slightly closer to Katya, he said in a whisper, 'Confess that you are a little afraid of her.'
'Her,' repeated Arkady significantly.
'And how about you?' Katya asked in her turn.
'I am too, observe I said, I am too.'
Katya threatened him with her finger. 'I wonder at that,' she began; 'my sister has never felt so friendly to you as just now; much more so than when you first came.'
'Why, haven't you noticed it? Aren't you glad of it?'
Arkady grew thoughtful.
'How have I succeeded in gaining Anna Sergyevna's good opinion? Wasn't it because I brought her your mother's letters?'
'Both that and other causes, which I shan't tell you.'
'I shan't say.'
'Oh! I know; you're very obstinate.'
'Yes, I am.'
Katya gave Arkady a sidelong look. 'Perhaps so; does that irritate you? What are you thinking of?'
'I am wondering how you have come to be as observant as in fact you are. You are so shy so reserved; you keep every one at a distance.'
'I have lived a great deal alone; that drives one to reflection. But do I really keep every one at a distance?'
Arkady flung a grateful glance at Katya.
'That's all very well,' he pursued; 'but people in your position—I mean in your circumstances—don't often have that faculty; it is hard for them, as it is for sovereigns, to get at the truth.'
'But, you see, I am not rich.'
Arkady was taken aback, and did not at once understand Katya. 'Why, of course, the property's all her sister's!' struck him suddenly; the thought was not unpleasing to him. 'How nicely you said that!' he commented.
'You said it nicely, simply, without being ashamed or making a boast of it. By the way, I imagine there must always be something special, a kind of pride of a sort in the feeling of any man, who knows and says he is poor.'
'I have never experienced anything of that sort, thanks to my sister. I only referred to my position just now because it happened to come up.'
'Well; but you must own you have a share of that pride I spoke of just now.'
'For instance, you—forgive the question—you wouldn't marry a rich man, I fancy, would you?'
'If I loved him very much.... No, I think even then I wouldn't marry him.'
'There! you see!' cried Arkady, and after a short pause he added, 'And why wouldn't you marry him?'
'Because even in the ballads unequal matches are always unlucky.'
'You want to rule, perhaps, or ...'
'Oh, no! why should I? On the contrary, I am ready to obey; only inequality is intolerable. To respect one's self and obey, that I can understand, that's happiness; but a subordinate existence ... No, I've had enough of that as it is.'
'Enough of that as it is,' Arkady repeated after Katya. 'Yes, yes,' he went on, 'you're not Anna Sergyevna's sister for nothing; you're just as independent as she is; but you're more reserved. I'm certain you wouldn't be the first to give expression to your feeling, however strong and holy it might be ...'
'Well, what would you expect?' asked Katya.
'You're equally clever; and you've as much, if not more, character than she.'
'Don't compare me with my sister, please,' interposed Katya hurriedly; 'that's too much to my disadvantage. You seem to forget my sister's beautiful and clever, and ... you in particular, Arkady Nikolaevitch, ought not to say such things, and with such a serious face too.'
'What do you mean by "you in particular"—and what makes you suppose I am joking?'
'Of course, you are joking.'
'You think so? But what if I'm persuaded of what I say? If I believe I have not put it strongly enough even?'
'I don't understand you.'
'Really? Well, now I see; I certainly took you to be more observant than you are.'
Arkady made no answer, and turned away, while Katya looked for a few more crumbs in the basket, and began throwing them to the sparrows; but she moved her arm too vigorously, and they flew away, without stopping to pick them up.
'Katerina Sergyevna!' began Arkady suddenly; 'it's of no consequence to you, probably; but, let me tell you, I put you not only above your sister, but above every one in the world.'
He got up and went quickly away, as though he were frightened at the words that had fallen from his lips.
Katya let her two hands drop together with the basket on to her lap, and with bent head she stared a long while after Arkady. Gradually a crimson flush came faintly out upon her cheeks; but her lips did not smile and her dark eyes had a look of perplexity and some other, as yet undefined, feeling.
'Are you alone?' she heard the voice of Anna Sergyevna near her; 'I thought you came into the garden with Arkady.'
Katya slowly raised her eyes to her sister (elegantly, even elaborately dressed, she was standing in the path and tickling Fifi's ears with the tip of her open parasol), and slowly replied, 'Yes, I'm alone.'
'So I see,' she answered with a smile; 'I suppose he has gone to his room.'
'Have you been reading together?'
Anna Sergyevna took Katya by the chin and lifted her face up.
'You have not been quarrelling, I hope?'
'No,' said Katya, and she quietly removed her sister's hand.
'How solemnly you answer! I expected to find him here, and meant to suggest his coming a walk with me. That's what he is always asking for. They have sent you some shoes from the town; go and try them on; I noticed only yesterday your old ones are quite shabby. You never think enough about it, and you have such charming little feet! Your hands are nice too ... though they're large; so you must make the most of your little feet. But you're not vain.'
Anna Sergyevna went farther along the path with a light rustle of her beautiful gown; Katya got up from the grass, and, taking Heine with her, went away too—but not to try on her shoes.
'Charming little feet!' she thought, as she slowly and lightly mounted the stone steps of the terrace, which were burning with the heat of the sun; 'charming little feet you call them.... Well, he shall be at them.'
But all at once a feeling of shame came upon her, and she ran swiftly upstairs.
Arkady had gone along the corridor to his room; a steward had overtaken him, and announced that Mr. Bazarov was in his room.
'Yevgeny!' murmured Arkady, almost with dismay; 'has he been here long?'
'Mr. Bazarov arrived this minute, sir, and gave orders not to announce him to Anna Sergyevna, but to show him straight up to you.'
'Can any misfortune have happened at home?' thought Arkady, and running hurriedly up the stairs, he at once opened the door. The sight of Bazarov at once reassured him, though a more experienced eye might very probably have discerned signs of inward agitation in the sunken, though still energetic face of the unexpected visitor. With a dusty cloak over his shoulders, with a cap on his head, he was sitting at the window; he did not even get up when Arkady flung himself with noisy exclamations on his neck.
'This is unexpected! What good luck brought you?' he kept repeating, bustling about the room like one who both imagines himself and wishes to show himself delighted. 'I suppose everything's all right at home; every one's well, eh?'
'Everything's all right, but not every one's well,' said Bazarov. 'Don't be a chatterbox, but send for some kvass for me, sit down, and listen while I tell you all about it in a few, but, I hope, pretty vigorous sentences.'
Arkady was quiet while Bazarov described his duel with Pavel Petrovitch. Arkady was very much surprised, and even grieved, but he did not think it necessary to show this; he only asked whether his uncle's wound was really not serious; and on receiving the reply that it was most interesting, but not from a medical point of view, he gave a forced smile, but at heart he felt both wounded and as it were ashamed. Bazarov seemed to understand him.
'Yes, my dear fellow,' he commented, 'you see what comes of living with feudal personages. You turn a feudal personage yourself, and find yourself taking part in knightly tournaments. Well, so I set off for my father's,' Bazarov wound up, 'and I've turned in here on the way ... to tell you all this, I should say, if I didn't think a useless lie a piece of foolery. No, I turned in here—the devil only knows why. You see, it's sometimes a good thing for a man to take himself by the scruff of the neck and pull himself up, like a radish out of its bed; that's what I've been doing of late.... But I wanted to have one more look at what I'm giving up, at the bed where I've been planted.'
'I hope those words don't refer to me,' responded Arkady with some emotion; 'I hope you don't think of giving me up?'
Bazarov turned an intent, almost piercing look upon him.
'Would that be such a grief to you? It strikes me you have given me up already, you look so fresh and smart.... Your affair with Anna Sergyevna must be getting on successfully.'
'What do you mean by my affair with Anna Sergyevna?'
'Why, didn't you come here from the town on her account, chicken? By the way, how are those Sunday schools getting on? Do you mean to tell me you're not in love with her? Or have you already reached the stage of discretion?'
'Yevgeny, you know I have always been open with you; I can assure you, I will swear to you, you're making a mistake.'
'Hm! That's another story,' remarked Bazarov in an undertone. 'But you needn't be in a taking, it's a matter of absolute indifference to me. A sentimentalist would say, "I feel that our paths are beginning to part," but I will simply say that we're tired of each other.'
'My dear soul, there's no great harm in that. One gets tired of much more than that in this life. And now I suppose we'd better say good-bye, hadn't we? Ever since I've been here I've had such a loathsome feeling, just as if I'd been reading Gogol's effusions to the governor of Kalouga's wife. By the way, I didn't tell them to take the horses out.'
'Upon my word, this is too much!'
'I'll say nothing of myself; but that would be discourteous to the last degree to Anna Sergyevna, who will certainly wish to see you.'
'Oh, you're mistaken there.'
'On the contrary, I am certain I'm right,' retorted Arkady. 'And what are you pretending for? If it comes to that, haven't you come here on her account yourself?'
'That may be so, but you're mistaken any way.'
But Arkady was right. Anna Sergyevna desired to see Bazarov, and sent a summons to him by a steward. Bazarov changed his clothes before going to her; it turned out that he had packed his new suit so as to be able to get it out easily.
Madame Odintsov received him not in the room where he had so unexpectedly declared his love to her, but in the drawing-room. She held her finger tips out to him cordially, but her face betrayed an involuntary sense of tension.
'Anna Sergyevna,' Bazarov hastened to say, 'before everything else I must set your mind at rest. Before you is a poor mortal, who has come to his senses long ago, and hopes other people too have forgotten his follies. I am going away for a long while; and though, as you will allow, I'm by no means a very soft creature, it would be anything but cheerful for me to carry away with me the idea that you remember me with repugnance.'
Anna Sergyevna gave a deep sigh like one who has just climbed up a high mountain, and her face was lighted up by a smile. She held out her hand a second time to Bazarov, and responded to his pressure.
'Let bygones be bygones,' she said. 'I am all the readier to do so because, speaking from my conscience, I was to blame then too for flirting or something. In a word, let us be friends as before. That was a dream, wasn't it? And who remembers dreams?'
'Who remembers them? And besides, love ... you know, is a purely imaginary feeling.'
'Really? I am very glad to hear that.'
So Anna Sergyevna spoke, and so spoke Bazarov; they both supposed they were speaking the truth. Was the truth, the whole truth, to be found in their words? They could not themselves have said, and much less could the author. But a conversation followed between them precisely as though they completely believed one another.
Anna Sergyevna asked Bazarov, among other things, what he had been doing at the Kirsanovs'. He was on the point of telling her about his duel with Pavel Petrovitch, but he checked himself with the thought that she might imagine he was trying to make himself interesting, and answered that he had been at work all the time.
'And I,' observed Anna Sergyevna, 'had a fit of depression at first, goodness knows why; I even made plans for going abroad, fancy!... Then it passed off, your friend Arkady Nikolaitch came, and I fell back into my old routine, and took up my real part again.'
'What part is that, may I ask?'
'The character of aunt, guardian, mother—call it what you like. By the way, do you know I used not quite to understand your close friendship with Arkady Nikolaitch; I thought him rather insignificant. But now I have come to know him better, and to see that he is clever.... And he's young, he's young ... that's the great thing ... not like you and me, Yevgeny Vassilyitch.'
'Is he still as shy in your company?' queried Bazarov.
'Why, was he?' ... Anna Sergyevna began, and after a brief pause she went on: 'He has grown more confiding now; he talks to me. He used to avoid me before. Though, indeed, I didn't seek his society either. He's more friends with Katya.'
Bazarov felt irritated. 'A woman can't help humbugging, of course!' he thought. 'You say he used to avoid you,' he said aloud, with a chilly smile; 'but it is probably no secret to you that he was in love with you?'
'What! he too?' fell from Anna Sergyevna's lips.
'He too,' repeated Bazarov, with a submissive bow. 'Can it be you didn't know it, and I've told you something new?'
Anna Sergyevna dropped her eyes. 'You are mistaken, Yevgeny Vassilyitch.'
'I don't think so. But perhaps I ought not to have mentioned it.' 'And don't you try telling me lies again for the future,' he added to himself.
'Why not? But I imagine that in this too you are attributing too much importance to a passing impression. I begin to suspect you are inclined to exaggeration.'
'We had better not talk about it, Anna Sergyevna.'
'Oh, why?' she retorted; but she herself led the conversation into another channel. She was still ill at ease with Bazarov, though she had told him, and assured herself that everything was forgotten. While she was exchanging the simplest sentences with him, even while she was jesting with him, she was conscious of a faint spasm of dread. So people on a steamer at sea talk and laugh carelessly, for all the world as though they were on dry land; but let only the slightest hitch occur, let the least sign be seen of anything out of the common, and at once on every face there comes out an expression of peculiar alarm, betraying the constant consciousness of constant danger.
Anna Sergyevna's conversation with Bazarov did not last long. She began to seem absorbed in thought, answered abstractedly, and suggested at last that they should go into the hall, where they found the princess and Katya. 'But where is Arkady Nikolaitch?' inquired the lady of the house; and on hearing that he had not shown himself for more than an hour, she sent for him. He was not very quickly found; he had hidden himself in the very thickest part of the garden, and with his chin propped on his folded hands, he was sitting lost in meditation. They were deep and serious meditations, but not mournful. He knew Anna Sergyevna was sitting alone with Bazarov, and he felt no jealousy, as once he had; on the contrary, his face slowly brightened; he seemed to be at once wondering and rejoicing, and resolving on something.
The deceased Odintsov had not liked innovations, but he had tolerated 'the fine arts within a certain sphere,' and had in consequence put up in his garden, between the hothouse and the lake, an erection after the fashion of a Greek temple, made of Russian brick. Along the dark wall at the back of this temple or gallery were placed six niches for statues, which Odintsov had proceeded to order from abroad. These statues were to represent Solitude, Silence, Meditation, Melancholy, Modesty, and Sensibility. One of them, the goddess of Silence, with her finger on her lip, had been sent and put up; but on the very same day some boys on the farm had broken her nose; and though a plasterer of the neighbourhood undertook to make her a new nose 'twice as good as the old one,' Odintsov ordered her to be taken away, and she was still to be seen in the corner of the threshing barn, where she had stood many long years, a source of superstitious terror to the peasant women. The front part of the temple had long ago been overgrown with thick bushes; only the pediments of the columns could be seen above the dense green. In the temple itself it was cool even at mid-day. Anna Sergyevna had not liked visiting this place ever since she had seen a snake there; but Katya often came and sat on the wide stone seat under one of the niches. Here, in the midst of the shade and coolness, she used to read and work, or to give herself up to that sensation of perfect peace, known, doubtless, to each of us, the charm of which consists in the half-unconscious, silent listening to the vast current of life that flows for ever both around us and within us.
The day after Bazarov's arrival Katya was sitting on her favourite stone seat, and beside her again was sitting Arkady. He had besought her to come with him to the 'temple.'
There was about an hour still to lunch-time; the dewy morning had already given place to a sultry day. Arkady's face retained the expression of the preceding day; Katya had a preoccupied look. Her sister had, directly after their morning tea, called her into her room, and after some preliminary caresses, which always scared Katya a little, she had advised her to be more guarded in her behaviour with Arkady, and especially to avoid solitary talks with him, as likely to attract the notice of her aunt and all the household. Besides this, even the previous evening Anna Sergyevna had not been herself; and Katya herself had felt ill at ease, as though she were conscious of some fault in herself. As she yielded to Arkady's entreaties, she said to herself that it was for the last time.
'Katerina Sergyevna,' he began with a sort of bashful easiness, 'since I've had the happiness of living in the same house with you, I have discussed a great many things with you; but meanwhile there is one, very important ... for me ... one question, which I have not touched upon up till now. You remarked yesterday that I have been changed here,' he went on, at once catching and avoiding the questioning glance Katya was turning upon him. 'I have changed certainly a great deal, and you know that better than any one else—you to whom I really owe this change.'
'I?... Me?...' said Katya.
'I am not now the conceited boy I was when I came here,' Arkady went on. 'I've not reached twenty-three for nothing; as before, I want to be useful, I want to devote all my powers to the truth; but I no longer look for my ideals where I did; they present themselves to me ... much closer to hand. Up till now I did not understand myself; I set myself tasks which were beyond my powers.... My eyes have been opened lately, thanks to one feeling.... I'm not expressing myself quite clearly, but I hope you understand me.'
Katya made no reply, but she ceased looking at Arkady.
'I suppose,' he began again, this time in a more agitated voice, while above his head a chaffinch sang its song unheeding among the leaves of the birch—'I suppose it's the duty of every one to be open with those ... with those people who ... in fact, with those who are near to him, and so I ... I resolved ...'
But here Arkady's eloquence deserted him; he lost the thread, stammered, and was forced to be silent for a moment. Katya still did not raise her eyes. She seemed not to understand what he was leading up to in all this, and to be waiting for something.
'I foresee I shall surprise you,' began Arkady, pulling himself together again with an effort, 'especially since this feeling relates in a way ... in a way, notice ... to you. You reproached me, if you remember, yesterday with a want of seriousness,' Arkady went on, with the air of a man who has got into a bog, feels that he is sinking further and further in at every step, and yet hurries onwards in the hope of crossing it as soon as possible; 'that reproach is often aimed ... often falls ... on young men even when they cease to deserve it; and if I had more self-confidence ...' ('Come, help me, do help me!' Arkady was thinking, in desperation; but, as before, Katya did not turn her head.) 'If I could hope ...'
'If I could feel sure of what you say,' was heard at that instant the clear voice of Anna Sergyevna.
Arkady was still at once, while Katya turned pale. Close by the bushes that screened the temple ran a little path. Anna Sergyevna was walking along it escorted by Bazarov. Katya and Arkady could not see them, but they heard every word, the rustle of their clothes, their very breathing. They walked on a few steps, and, as though on purpose, stood still just opposite the temple.
'You see,' pursued Anna Sergyevna, 'you and I made a mistake; we are both past our first youth, I especially so; we have seen life, we are tired; we are both—why affect not to know it?—clever; at first we interested each other, curiosity was aroused ... and then ...'
'And then I grew stale,' put in Bazarov.
'You know that was not the cause of our misunderstanding. But, however, it was to be, we had no need of one another, that's the chief point; there was too much ... what shall I say? ... that was alike in us. We did not realise it all at once. Now, Arkady ...'
'So you need him?' queried Bazarov.
'Hush, Yevgeny Vassilyitch. You tell me he is not indifferent to me, and it always seemed to me he liked me. I know that I might well be his aunt, but I don't wish to conceal from you that I have come to think more often of him. In such youthful, fresh feeling there is a special charm ...'
'The word fascination is most usual in such cases,' Bazarov interrupted; the effervescence of his spleen could be heard in his choked though steady voice. 'Arkady was mysterious over something with me yesterday, and didn't talk either of you or your sister.... That's a serious symptom.'
'He is just like a brother with Katya,' commented Anna Sergyevna, 'and I like that in him, though, perhaps, I ought not to have allowed such intimacy between them.'
'That idea is prompted by ... your feelings as a sister?' Bazarov brought out, drawling.
'Of course ... but why are we standing still? Let us go on. What a strange talk we are having, aren't we? I could never have believed I should talk to you like this. You know, I am afraid of you ... and at the same time I trust you, because in reality you are so good.'
'In the first place, I am not in the least good; and in the second place, I have lost all significance for you, and you tell me I am good.... It's like a laying a wreath of flowers on the head of a corpse.'
'Yevgeny Vassilyitch, we are not responsible ...' Anna Sergyevna began; but a gust of wind blew across, set the leaves rustling, and carried away her words. 'Of course, you are free ...' Bazarov declared after a brief pause. Nothing more could be distinguished; the steps retreated ... everything was still.
Arkady turned to Katya. She was sitting in the same position, but her head was bent still lower. 'Katerina Sergyevna,' he said with a shaking voice, and clasping his hands tightly together, 'I love you for ever and irrevocably, and I love no one but you. I wanted to tell you this, to find out your opinion of me, and to ask for your hand, since I am not rich, and I feel ready for any sacrifice.... You don't answer me? You don't believe me? Do you think I speak lightly? But remember these last days! Surely for a long time past you must have known that everything—understand me—everything else has vanished long ago and left no trace? Look at me, say one word to me ... I love ... I love you ... believe me!'
Katya glanced at Arkady with a bright and serious look, and after long hesitation, with the faintest smile, she said, 'Yes.'
Arkady leapt up from the stone seat. 'Yes! You said Yes, Katerina Sergyevna! What does that word mean? Only that I do love you, that you believe me ... or ... or ... I daren't go on ...'
'Yes,' repeated Katya, and this time he understood her. He snatched her large beautiful hands, and, breathless with rapture, pressed them to his heart. He could scarcely stand on his feet, and could only repeat, 'Katya, Katya ...' while she began weeping in a guileless way, smiling gently at her own tears. No one who has not seen those tears in the eyes of the beloved, knows yet to what a point, faint with shame and gratitude, a man may be happy on earth.
The next day, early in the morning, Anna Sergyevna sent to summon Bazarov to her boudoir, and with a forced laugh handed him a folded sheet of notepaper. It was a letter from Arkady; in it he asked for her sister's hand.
Bazarov quickly scanned the letter, and made an effort to control himself, that he might not show the malignant feeling which was instantaneously aflame in his breast.
'So that's how it is,' he commented; 'and you, I fancy, only yesterday imagined he loved Katerina Sergyevna as a brother. What are you intending to do now?'
'What do you advise me?' asked Anna Sergyevna, still laughing.
'Well, I suppose,' answered Bazarov, also with a laugh, though he felt anything but cheerful, and had no more inclination to laugh than she had; 'I suppose you ought to give the young people your blessing. It's a good match in every respect; Kirsanov's position is passable, he's the only son, and his father's a good-natured fellow, he won't try to thwart him.'
Madame Odintsov walked up and down the room. By turns her face flushed and grew pale. 'You think so,' she said. 'Well, I see no obstacles ... I am glad for Katya ... and for Arkady Nikolaevitch too. Of course, I will wait for his father's answer. I will send him in person to him. But it turns out, you see, that I was right yesterday when I told you we were both old people.... How was it I saw nothing? That's what amazes me!' Anna Sergyevna laughed again, and quickly turned her head away.
'The younger generation have grown awfully sly,' remarked Bazarov, and he too laughed. 'Good-bye,' he began again after a short silence. 'I hope you will bring the matter to the most satisfactory conclusion; and I will rejoice from a distance.'
Madame Odintsov turned quickly to him. 'You are not going away? Why should you not stay now? Stay ... it's exciting talking to you ... one seems walking on the edge of a precipice. At first one feels timid, but one gains courage as one goes on. Do stay.'
'Thanks for the suggestion, Anna Sergyevna, and for your flattering opinion of my conversational talents. But I think I have already been moving too long in a sphere which is not my own. Flying fishes can hold out for a time in the air; but soon they must splash back into the water; allow me, too, to paddle in my own element.'
Madame Odintsov looked at Bazarov. His pale face was twitching with a bitter smile. 'This man did love me!' she thought, and she felt pity for him, and held out her hand to him with sympathy.
But he too understood her. 'No!' he said, stepping back a pace. 'I'm a poor man, but I've never taken charity so far. Good-bye, and good luck to you.'
'I am certain we are not seeing each other for the last time,' Anna Sergyevna declared with an unconscious gesture.
'Anything may happen!' answered Bazarov, and he bowed and went away.
'So you are thinking of making yourself a nest?' he said the same day to Arkady, as he packed his box, crouching on the floor. 'Well, it's a capital thing. But you needn't have been such a humbug. I expected something from you in quite another quarter. Perhaps, though, it took you by surprise yourself?'
'I certainly didn't expect this when I parted from you,' answered Arkady; 'but why are you a humbug yourself, calling it "a capital thing," as though I didn't know your opinion of marriage.'
'Ah, my dear fellow,' said Bazarov, 'how you talk! You see what I'm doing; there seems to be an empty space in the box, and I am putting hay in; that's how it is in the box of our life; we would stuff it up with anything rather than have a void. Don't be offended, please; you remember, no doubt, the opinion I have always had of Katerina Sergyevna. Many a young lady's called clever simply because she can sigh cleverly; but yours can hold her own, and, indeed, she'll hold it so well that she'll have you under her thumb—to be sure, though, that's quite as it ought to be.' He slammed the lid to, and got up from the floor. 'And now, I say again, good-bye, for it's useless to deceive ourselves—we are parting for good, and you know that yourself ... you have acted sensibly; you're not made for our bitter, rough, lonely existence. There's no dash, no hate in you, but you've the daring of youth and the fire of youth. Your sort, you gentry, can never get beyond refined submission or refined indignation, and that's no good. You won't fight—and yet you fancy yourselves gallant chaps—but we mean to fight. Oh well! Our dust would get into your eyes, our mud would bespatter you, but yet you're not up to our level, you're admiring yourselves unconsciously, you like to abuse yourselves; but we're sick of that—we want something else! we want to smash other people! You're a capital fellow; but you're a sugary, liberal snob for all that—ay volla-too, as my parent is fond of saying.'
'You are parting from me for ever, Yevgeny,' responded Arkady mournfully; 'and have you nothing else to say to me?'
Bazarov scratched the back of his head. 'Yes, Arkady, yes, I have other things to say to you, but I'm not going to say them, because that's sentimentalism—that means, mawkishness. And you get married as soon as you can; and build your nest, and get children to your heart's content. They'll have the wit to be born in a better time than you and me. Aha! I see the horses are ready. Time's up! I've said good-bye to every one.... What now? embracing, eh?'
Arkady flung himself on the neck of his former leader and friend, and the tears fairly gushed from his eyes.
'That's what comes of being young!' Bazarov commented calmly. 'But I rest my hopes on Katerina Sergyevna. You'll see how quickly she'll console you! Good-bye, brother!' he said to Arkady when he had got into the light cart, and, pointing to a pair of jackdaws sitting side by side on the stable roof, he added, 'That's for you! follow that example.'
'What does that mean?' asked Arkady.
'What? Are you so weak in natural history, or have you forgotten that the jackdaw is a most respectable family bird? An example to you!... Good-bye!'
The cart creaked and rolled away.
Bazarov had spoken truly. In talking that evening with Katya, Arkady completely forgot about his former teacher. He already began to follow her lead, and Katya was conscious of this, and not surprised at it. He was to set off the next day for Maryino, to see Nikolai Petrovitch. Anna Sergyevna was not disposed to put any constraint on the young people, and only on account of the proprieties did not leave them by themselves for too long together. She magnanimously kept the princess out of their way; the latter had been reduced to a state of tearful frenzy by the news of the proposed marriage. At first Anna Sergyevna was afraid the sight of their happiness might prove rather trying to herself, but it turned out quite the other way; this sight not only did not distress her, it interested her, it even softened her at last. Anna Sergyevna felt both glad and sorry at this. 'It is clear that Bazarov was right,' she thought; 'it has been curiosity, nothing but curiosity, and love of ease, and egoism ...'
'Children,' she said aloud, 'what do you say, is love a purely imaginary feeling?'
But neither Katya nor Arkady even understood her. They were shy with her; the fragment of conversation they had involuntarily overheard haunted their minds. But Anna Sergyevna soon set their minds at rest; and it was not difficult for her—she had set her own mind at rest.
Bazarov's old parents were all the more overjoyed by their son's arrival, as it was quite unexpected. Arina Vlasyevna was greatly excited, and kept running backwards and forwards in the house, so that Vassily Ivanovitch compared her to a 'hen partridge'; the short tail of her abbreviated jacket did, in fact, give her something of a birdlike appearance. He himself merely growled and gnawed the amber mouthpiece of his pipe, or, clutching his neck with his fingers, turned his head round, as though he were trying whether it were properly screwed on, then all at once he opened his wide mouth and went off into a perfectly noiseless chuckle.
'I've come to you for six whole weeks, governor,' Bazarov said to him. 'I want to work, so please don't hinder me now.'
'You shall forget my face completely, if you call that hindering you!' answered Vassily Ivanovitch.
He kept his promise. After installing his son as before in his study, he almost hid himself away from him, and he kept his wife from all superfluous demonstrations of tenderness. 'On Enyusha's first visit, my dear soul,' he said to her, 'we bothered him a little; we must be wiser this time.' Arina Vlasyevna agreed with her husband, but that was small compensation since she saw her son only at meals, and was now absolutely afraid to address him. 'Enyushenka,' she would say sometimes—and before he had time to look round, she was nervously fingering the tassels of her reticule and faltering, 'Never mind, never mind, I only——' and afterwards she would go to Vassily Ivanovitch and, her cheek in her hand, would consult him: 'If you could only find out, darling, which Enyusha would like for dinner to-day—cabbage-broth or beetroot-soup?'—'But why didn't you ask him yourself?'—'Oh, he will get sick of me!' Bazarov, however, soon ceased to shut himself up; the fever of work fell away, and was replaced by dreary boredom or vague restlessness. A strange weariness began to show itself in all his movements; even his walk, firm, bold and strenuous, was changed. He gave up walking in solitude, and began to seek society; he drank tea in the drawing-room, strolled about the kitchen-garden with Vassily Ivanovitch, and smoked with him in silence; once even asked after Father Alexey. Vassily Ivanovitch at first rejoiced at this change, but his joy was not long-lived. 'Enyusha's breaking my heart,' he complained in secret to his wife; 'it's not that he's discontented or angry—that would be nothing; he's sad, he's sorrowful—that's what's so terrible. He's always silent. If he'd only abuse us; he's growing thin, he's lost his colour.'—'Mercy on us, mercy on us!' whispered the old woman; 'I would put an amulet on his neck, but, of course, he won't allow it.' Vassily Ivanovitch several times attempted in the most circumspect manner to question Bazarov about his work, about his health, and about Arkady.... But Bazarov's replies were reluctant and casual; and, once noticing that his father was trying gradually to lead up to something in conversation, he said to him in a tone of vexation: 'Why do you always seem to be walking round me on tiptoe? That way's worse than the old one.'—'There, there, I meant nothing!' poor Vassily Ivanovitch answered hurriedly. So his diplomatic hints remained fruitless. He hoped to awaken his son's sympathy one day by beginning à propos of the approaching emancipation of the peasantry, to talk about progress; but the latter responded indifferently: 'Yesterday I was walking under the fence, and I heard the peasant boys here, instead of some old ballad, bawling a street song. That's what progress is.'
Sometimes Bazarov went into the village, and in his usual bantering tone entered into conversation with some peasant: 'Come,' he would say to him, 'expound your views on life to me, brother; you see, they say all the strength and future of Russia lies in your hands, a new epoch in history will be started by you—you give us our real language and our laws.'
The peasant either made no reply, or articulated a few words of this sort, 'Well, we'll try ... because, you see, to be sure....'
'You explain to me what your mir is,' Bazarov interrupted; 'and is it the same mir that is said to rest on three fishes?'
'That, little father, is the earth that rests on three fishes,' the peasant would declare soothingly, in a kind of patriarchal, simple-hearted sing-song; 'and over against ours, that's to say, the mir, we know there's the master's will; wherefore you are our fathers. And the stricter the master's rule, the better for the peasant.'
After listening to such a reply one day, Bazarov shrugged his shoulders contemptuously and turned away, while the peasant sauntered slowly homewards.
'What was he talking about?' inquired another peasant of middle age and surly aspect, who at a distance from the door of his hut had been following his conversation with Bazarov.—'Arrears? eh?'
'Arrears, no indeed, mate!' answered the first peasant, and now there was no trace of patriarchal singsong in his voice; on the contrary, there was a certain scornful gruffness to be heard in it: 'Oh, he clacked away about something or other; wanted to stretch his tongue a bit. Of course, he's a gentleman; what does he understand?'
'What should he understand!' answered the other peasant, and jerking back their caps and pushing down their belts, they proceeded to deliberate upon their work and their wants. Alas! Bazarov, shrugging his shoulders contemptuously, Bazarov, who knew how to talk to peasants (as he had boasted in his dispute with Pavel Petrovitch), did not in his self-confidence even suspect that in their eyes he was all the while something of the nature of a buffooning clown.
He found employment for himself at last, however. One day Vassily Ivanovitch bound up a peasant's wounded leg before him, but the old man's hands trembled, and he could not manage the bandages; his son helped him, and from time to time began to take a share in his practice, though at the same time he was constantly sneering both at the remedies he himself advised and at his father, who hastened to make use of them. But Bazarov's jeers did not in the least perturb Vassily Ivanovitch; they were positively a comfort to him. Holding his greasy dressing-gown across his stomach with two fingers, and smoking his pipe, he used to listen with enjoyment to Bazarov; and the more malicious his sallies, the more good-humouredly did his delighted father chuckle, showing every one of his black teeth. He used even to repeat these sometimes flat or pointless retorts, and would, for instance, for several days constantly without rhyme or reason, reiterate, 'Not a matter of the first importance!' simply because his son, on hearing he was going to matins, had made use of that expression. 'Thank God! he has got over his melancholy!' he whispered to his wife; 'how he gave it to me to-day, it was splendid!' Moreover, the idea of having such an assistant excited him to ecstasy, filled him with pride. 'Yes, yes,' he would say to some peasant woman in a man's cloak, and a cap shaped like a horn, as he handed her a bottle of Goulard's extract or a box of white ointment, 'you ought to be thanking God, my good woman, every minute that my son is staying with me; you will be treated now by the most scientific, most modern method. Do you know what that means? The Emperor of the French, Napoleon, even, has no better doctor.' And the peasant woman, who had come to complain that she felt so sort of queer all over (the exact meaning of these words she was not able, however, herself to explain), merely bowed low and rummaged in her bosom, where four eggs lay tied up in the corner of a towel.
Bazarov once even pulled out a tooth for a passing pedlar of cloth; and though this tooth was an average specimen, Vassily Ivanovitch preserved it as a curiosity, and incessantly repeated, as he showed it to Father Alexey, 'Just look, what a fang! The force Yevgeny has! The pedlar seemed to leap into the air. If it had been an oak, he'd have rooted it up!'
'Most promising!' Father Alexey would comment at last, not knowing what answer to make, and how to get rid of the ecstatic old man.
One day a peasant from a neighbouring village brought his brother to Vassily Ivanovitch, ill with typhus. The unhappy man, lying flat on a truss of straw, was dying; his body was covered with dark patches, he had long ago lost consciousness. Vassily Ivanovitch expressed his regret that no one had taken steps to procure medical aid sooner, and declared there was no hope. And, in fact, the peasant did not get his brother home again; he died in the cart.
Three days later Bazarov came into his father's room and asked him if he had any caustic.
'Yes; what do you want it for?'
'I must have some ... to burn a cut.'
'What, yourself? Why is that? What sort of a cut? Where is it?'
'Look here, on my finger. I went to-day to the village, you know, where they brought that peasant with typhus fever. They were just going to open the body for some reason or other, and I've had no practice of that sort for a long while.'
'Well, so I asked the district doctor about it; and so I dissected it.'
Vassily Ivanovitch all at once turned quite white, and, without uttering a word, rushed to his study, from which he returned at once with a bit of caustic in his hand. Bazarov was about to take it and go away.
'For mercy's sake,' said Vassily Ivanovitch, 'let me do it myself.'
Bazarov smiled. 'What a devoted practitioner!'
'Don't laugh, please. Show me your finger. The cut is not a large one. Do I hurt?'
'Press harder; don't be afraid.'
Vassily Ivanovitch stopped. 'What do you think, Yevgeny; wouldn't it be better to burn it with hot iron?'
'That ought to have been done sooner; the caustic even is useless, really, now. If I've taken the infection, it's too late now.'
'How ... too late ...' Vassily Ivanovitch could scarcely articulate the words.
'I should think so! It's more than four hours ago.'
Vassily Ivanovitch burnt the cut a little more. 'But had the district doctor no caustic?'
'How was that, good Heavens? A doctor not have such an indispensable thing as that!'
'You should have seen his lancets,' observed Bazarov as he walked away.
Up till late that evening, and all the following day, Vassily Ivanovitch kept catching at every possible excuse to go into his son's room; and though far from referring to the cut—he even tried to talk about the most irrelevant subjects—he looked so persistently into his face, and watched him in such trepidation, that Bazarov lost patience and threatened to go away. Vassily Ivanovitch gave him a promise not to bother him, the more readily as Arina Vlasyevna, from whom, of course, he kept it all secret, was beginning to worry him as to why he did not sleep, and what had come over him. For two whole days he held himself in, though he did not at all like the look of his son, whom he kept watching stealthily, ... but on the third day, at dinner, he could bear it no longer. Bazarov sat with downcast looks, and had not touched a single dish.
'Why don't you eat, Yevgeny?' he inquired, putting on an expression of the most perfect carelessness. 'The food, I think, is very nicely cooked.'
'I don't want anything, so I don't eat.'
'Have you no appetite? And your head?' he added timidly; 'does it ache?'
'Yes. Of course, it aches.'
Arina Vlasyevna sat up and was all alert.
'Don't be angry, please, Yevgeny,' continued Vassily Ivanovitch; 'won't you let me feel your pulse?'
Bazarov got up. 'I can tell you without feeling my pulse; I'm feverish.'
'Has there been any shivering?'
'Yes, there has been shivering too. I'll go and lie down, and you can send me some lime-flower tea. I must have caught cold.'
'To be sure, I heard you coughing last night,' observed Arina Vlasyevna.
'I've caught cold,' repeated Bazarov, and he went away.
Arina Vlasyevna busied herself about the preparation of the decoction of lime-flowers, while Vassily Ivanovitch went into the next room and clutched at his hair in silent desperation.
Bazarov did not get up again that day, and passed the whole night in heavy, half-unconscious torpor. At one o'clock in the morning, opening his eyes with an effort, he saw by the light of a lamp his father's pale face bending over him, and told him to go away. The old man begged his pardon, but he quickly came back on tiptoe, and half-hidden by the cupboard door, he gazed persistently at his son. Arina Vlasyevna did not go to bed either, and leaving the study door just open a very little, she kept coming up to it to listen 'how Enyusha was breathing,' and to look at Vassily Ivanovitch. She could see nothing but his motionless bent back, but even that afforded her some faint consolation. In the morning Bazarov tried to get up; he was seized with giddiness, his nose began to bleed; he lay down again. Vassily Ivanovitch waited on him in silence; Arina Vlasyevna went in to him and asked him how he was feeling. He answered, 'Better,' and turned to the wall. Vassily Ivanovitch gesticulated at his wife with both hands; she bit her lips so as not to cry, and went away. The whole house seemed suddenly darkened; every one looked gloomy; there was a strange hush; a shrill cock was carried away from the yard to the village, unable to comprehend why he should be treated so. Bazarov still lay, turned to the wall. Vassily Ivanovitch tried to address him with various questions, but they fatigued Bazarov, and the old man sank into his armchair, motionless, only cracking his finger-joints now and then. He went for a few minutes into the garden, stood there like a statue, as though overwhelmed with unutterable bewilderment (the expression of amazement never left his face all through), and went back again to his son, trying to avoid his wife's questions. She caught him by the arm at last and passionately, almost menacingly, said, 'What is wrong with him?' Then he came to himself, and forced himself to smile at her in reply; but to his own horror, instead of a smile, he found himself taken somehow by a fit of laughter. He had sent at daybreak for a doctor. He thought it necessary to inform his son of this, for fear he should be angry. Bazarov suddenly turned over on the sofa, bent a fixed dull look on his father, and asked for drink.
Vassily Ivanovitch gave him some water, and as he did so felt his forehead. It seemed on fire.
'Governor,' began Bazarov, in a slow, drowsy voice; 'I'm in a bad way; I've got the infection, and in a few days you'll have to bury me.'
Vassily Ivanovitch staggered back, as though some one had aimed a blow at his legs.
'Yevgeny!' he faltered; 'what do you mean!... God have mercy on you! You've caught cold!'
'Hush!' Bazarov interposed deliberately. 'A doctor can't be allowed to talk like that. There's every symptom of infection; you know yourself.'
'Where are the symptoms ... of infection Yevgeny?... Good Heavens!'
'What's this?' said Bazarov, and, pulling up his shirtsleeve, he showed his father the ominous red patches coming out on his arm.
Vassily Ivanovitch was shaking and chill with terror.
'Supposing,' he said at last, 'even supposing ... if even there's something like ... infection ...'
'Pyæmia,' put in his son.
'Well, well ... something of the epidemic ...'
'Pyæmia,' Bazarov repeated sharply and distinctly; 'have you forgotten your text-books?'
'Well, well—as you like.... Anyway, we will cure you!'
'Come, that's humbug. But that's not the point. I didn't expect to die so soon; it's a most unpleasant incident, to tell the truth. You and mother ought to make the most of your strong religious belief; now's the time to put it to the test.' He drank off a little water. 'I want to ask you about one thing ... while my head is still under my control. To-morrow or next day my brain, you know, will send in its resignation. I'm not quite certain even now whether I'm expressing myself clearly. While I've been lying here, I've kept fancying red dogs were running round me, while you were making them point at me, as if I were a woodcock. Just as if I were drunk. Do you understand me all right?'
'I assure you, Yevgeny, you are talking perfectly correctly.'
'All the better. You told me you'd sent for the doctor. You did that to comfort yourself ... comfort me too; send a messenger ...'
'To Arkady Nikolaitch?' put in the old man.
'Who's Arkady Nikolaitch?' said Bazarov, as though in doubt.... 'Oh, yes! that chicken! No, let him alone; he's turned jackdaw now. Don't be surprised; that's not delirium yet. You send a messenger to Madame Odintsov, Anna Sergyevna; she's a lady with an estate.... Do you know?' (Vassily Ivanovitch nodded.) 'Yevgeny Bazarov, say, sends his greetings, and sends word he is dying. Will you do that?'
'Yes, I will do it.... But is it a possible thing for you to die, Yevgeny?... Think only! Where would divine justice be after that?'
'I know nothing about that; only you send the messenger.'
'I'll send this minute, and I'll write a letter myself.'
'No, why? Say I sent greetings; nothing more is necessary. And now I'll go back to my dogs. Strange! I want to fix my thoughts on death, and nothing comes of it. I see a kind of blur ... and nothing more.'
He turned painfully back to the wall again; while Vassily Ivanovitch went out of the study, and struggling as far as his wife's bedroom, simply dropped down on to his knees before the holy pictures.
'Pray, Arina, pray for us!' he moaned; 'our son is dying.'
The doctor, the same district doctor who had had no caustic, arrived, and after looking at the patient, advised them to persevere with a cooling treatment, and at that point said a few words of the chance of recovery.
'Have you ever chanced to see people in my state not set off for Elysium?' asked Bazarov, and suddenly snatching the leg of a heavy table that stood near his sofa, he swung it round, and pushed it away. 'There's strength, there's strength,' he murmured; 'everything's here still, and I must die!... An old man at least has time to be weaned from life, but I ... Well, go and try to disprove death. Death will disprove you, and that's all! Who's crying there?' he added, after a short pause—'Mother? Poor thing! Whom will she feed now with her exquisite beetroot-soup? You, Vassily Ivanovitch, whimpering too, I do believe! Why, if Christianity's no help to you, be a philosopher, a Stoic, or what not! Why, didn't you boast you were a philosopher?'
'Me a philosopher!' wailed Vassily Ivanovitch, while the tears fairly streamed down his cheeks.
Bazarov got worse every hour; the progress of the disease was rapid, as is usually the way in cases of surgical poisoning. He still had not lost consciousness, and understood what was said to him; he was still struggling. 'I don't want to lose my wits,' he muttered, clenching his fists; 'what rot it all is!' And at once he would say, 'Come, take ten from eight, what remains?' Vassily Ivanovitch wandered about like one possessed, proposed first one remedy, then another, and ended by doing nothing but cover up his son's feet. 'Try cold pack ... emetic ... mustard plasters on the stomach ... bleeding,' he would murmur with an effort. The doctor, whom he had entreated to remain, agreed with him, ordered the patient lemonade to drink, and for himself asked for a pipe and something 'warming and strengthening'—that's to say, brandy. Arina Vlasyevna sat on a low stool near the door, and only went out from time to time to pray. A few days before, a looking-glass had slipped out of her hands and been broken, and this she had always considered an omen of evil; even Anfisushka could say nothing to her. Timofeitch had gone off to Madame Odintsov's.
The night passed badly for Bazarov.... He was in the agonies of high fever. Towards morning he was a little easier. He asked for Arina Vlasyevna to comb his hair, kissed her hand, and swallowed two gulps of tea. Vassily Ivanovitch revived a little.
'Thank God!' he kept declaring; 'the crisis is coming, the crisis is at hand!'
'There, to think now!' murmured Bazarov; 'what a word can do! He's found it; he's said "crisis," and is comforted. It's an astounding thing how man believes in words. If he's told he's a fool, for instance, though he's not thrashed, he'll be wretched; call him a clever fellow, and he'll be delighted if you go off without paying him.'
This little speech of Bazarov's, recalling his old retorts, moved Vassily Ivanovitch greatly.
'Bravo! well said, very good!' he cried, making as though he were clapping his hands.
Bazarov smiled mournfully.
'So what do you think,' he said; 'is the crisis over, or coming?'
'You are better, that's what I see, that's what rejoices me,' answered Vassily Ivanovitch.
'Well, that's good; rejoicings never come amiss. And to her, do you remember? did you send?'
'To be sure I did.'
The change for the better did not last long. The disease resumed its onslaughts. Vassily Ivanovitch was sitting by Bazarov. It seemed as though the old man were tormented by some special anguish. He was several times on the point of speaking—and could not.
'Yevgeny!' he brought out at last; 'my son, my one, dear son!'
This unfamiliar mode of address produced an effect on Bazarov. He turned his head a little, and, obviously trying to fight against the load of oblivion weighing upon him, he articulated: 'What is it, father?'
'Yevgeny,' Vassily Ivanovitch went on, and he fell on his knees before Bazarov, though the latter had closed his eyes and could not see him. 'Yevgeny, you are better now; please God, you will get well, but make use of this time, comfort your mother and me, perform the duty of a Christian! What it means for me to say this to you, it's awful; but still more awful ... for ever and ever, Yevgeny ... think a little, what ...'
The old man's voice broke, and a strange look passed over his son's face, though he still lay with closed eyes.
'I won't refuse, if that can be any comfort to you,' he brought out at last; 'but it seems to me there's no need to be in a hurry. You say yourself I am better.'
'Oh, yes, Yevgeny, better certainly; but who knows, it is all in God's hands, and in doing the duty ...'
'No, I will wait a bit,' broke in Bazarov. 'I agree with you that the crisis has come. And if we're mistaken, well! they give the sacrament to men who're unconscious, you know.'
'Yevgeny, I beg.'
'I'll wait a little. And now I want to go to sleep. Don't disturb me.' And he laid his head back on the pillow.
The old man rose from his knees, sat down in the armchair, and, clutching his beard, began biting his own fingers ...
The sound of a light carriage on springs, that sound which is peculiarly impressive in the wilds of the country, suddenly struck upon his hearing. Nearer and nearer rolled the light wheels; now even the neighing of the horses could be heard.... Vassily Ivanovitch jumped up and ran to the little window. There drove into the courtyard of his little house a carriage with seats for two, with four horses harnessed abreast. Without stopping to consider what it could mean, with a rush of a sort of senseless joy, he ran out on to the steps.... A groom in livery was opening the carriage doors; a lady in a black veil and a black mantle was getting out of it ...
'I am Madame Odintsov,' she said. 'Yevgeny Vassilvitch is still living? You are his father? I have a doctor with me.'
'Benefactress!' cried Vassily Ivanovitch, and snatching her hand, he pressed it convulsively to his lips, while the doctor brought by Anna Sergyevna, a little man in spectacles, of German physiognomy, stepped very deliberately out of the carriage. 'Still living, my Yevgeny is living, and now he will be saved! Wife! wife!... An angel from heaven has come to us....'
'What does it mean, good Lord!' faltered the old woman, running out of the drawing-room; and, comprehending nothing, she fell on the spot in the passage at Anna Sergyevna's feet, and began kissing her garments like a mad woman.
'What are you doing!' protested Anna Sergyevna; but Arina Vlasyevna did not heed her, while Vassily Ivanovitch could only repeat, 'An angel! an angel!'
'Wo ist der Kranke? and where is the patient?' said the doctor at last, with some impatience.
Vassily Ivanovitch recovered himself. 'Here, here, follow me, würdigster Herr Collega,' he added through old associations.
'Ah!' articulated the German, grinning sourly.
Vassily Ivanovitch led him into the study. 'The doctor from Anna Sergyevna Odintsov,' he said, bending down quite to his son's ear, 'and she herself is here.'
Bazarov suddenly opened his eyes. 'What did you say?'
'I say that Anna Sergyevna is here, and has brought this gentleman, a doctor, to you.'
Bazarov moved his eyes about him. 'She is here.... I want to see her.'
'You shall see her, Yevgeny; but first we must have a little talk with the doctor. I will tell him the whole history of your illness since Sidor Sidoritch' (this was the name of the district doctor) 'has gone, and we will have a little consultation.'
Bazarov glanced at the German. 'Well, talk away quickly, only not in Latin; you see, I know the meaning of jam moritur.'
'Der Herr scheint des Deutschen mächtig zu sein,' began the new follower of Æsculapius, turning to Vassily Ivanovitch.
'Ich ... gabe ... We had better speak Russian,' said the old man.
'Ah, ah! so that's how it is.... To be sure ...' And the consultation began.
Half-an-hour later Anna Sergyevna, conducted by Vassily Ivanovitch, came into the study. The doctor had had time to whisper to her that it was hopeless even to think of the patient's recovery.
She looked at Bazarov ... and stood still in the doorway, so greatly was she impressed by the inflamed, and at the same time deathly face, with its dim eyes fastened upon her. She felt simply dismayed, with a sort of cold and suffocating dismay; the thought that she would not have felt like that if she had really loved him flashed instantaneously through her brain.
'Thanks,' he said painfully, 'I did not expect this. It's a deed of mercy. So we have seen each other again, as you promised.'
'Anna Sergyevna has been so kind,' began Vassily Ivanovitch ...
'Father, leave us alone. Anna Sergyevna, you will allow it, I fancy, now?'
With a motion of his head, he indicated his prostrate helpless frame.
Vassily Ivanovitch went out.
'Well, thanks,' repeated Bazarov. 'This is royally done. Monarchs, they say, visit the dying too.'
'Yevgeny Vassilyitch, I hope——'
'Ah, Anna Sergyevna, let us speak the truth. It's all over with me. I'm under the wheel. So it turns out that it was useless to think of the future. Death's an old joke, but it comes fresh to every one. So far I'm not afraid ... but there, senselessness is coming, and then it's all up!——' he waved his hand feebly. 'Well, what had I to say to you ... I loved you! there was no sense in that even before, and less than ever now. Love is a form, and my own form is already breaking up. Better say how lovely you are! And now here you stand, so beautiful ...'
Anna Sergyevna gave an involuntary shudder.
'Never mind, don't be uneasy.... Sit down there.... Don't come close to me; you know, my illness is catching.'
Anna Sergyevna swiftly crossed the room, and sat down in the armchair near the sofa on which Bazarov was lying.
'Noble-hearted!' he whispered. 'Oh, how near, and how young, and fresh, and pure ... in this loathsome room!... Well, good-bye! live long, that's the best of all, and make the most of it while there is time. You see what a hideous spectacle; the worm half-crushed, but writhing still. And, you see, I thought too: I'd break down so many things, I wouldn't die, why should I! there were problems to solve, and I was a giant! And now all the problem for the giant is how to die decently, though that makes no difference to any one either.... Never mind; I'm not going to turn tail.'
Bazarov was silent, and began feeling with his hand for the glass. Anna Sergyevna gave him some drink, not taking off her glove, and drawing her breath timorously.
'You will forget me,' he began again; 'the dead's no companion for the living. My father will tell you what a man Russia is losing.... That's nonsense, but don't contradict the old man. Whatever toy will comfort the child ... you know. And be kind to mother. People like them aren't to be found in your great world if you look by daylight with a candle.... I was needed by Russia.... No, it's clear, I wasn't needed. And who is needed? The shoemaker's needed, the tailor's needed, the butcher ... gives us meat ... the butcher ... wait a little, I'm getting mixed.... There's a forest here ...'
Bazarov put his hand to his brow.
Anna Sergyevna bent down to him. 'Yevgeny Vassilyitch, I am here ...'
He at once took his hand away, and raised himself.
'Good-bye,' he said with sudden force, and his eyes gleamed with their last light. 'Good-bye.... Listen ... you know I didn't kiss you then.... Breathe on the dying lamp, and let it go out ...'
Anna Sergyevna put her lips to his forehead.
'Enough!' he murmured, and dropped back on to the pillow. 'Now ... darkness ...'
Anna Sergyevna went softly out. 'Well?' Vassily Ivanovitch asked her in a whisper.
'He has fallen asleep,' she answered, hardly audibly. Bazarov was not fated to awaken. Towards evening he sank into complete unconsciousness, and the following day he died. Father Alexey performed the last rites of religion over him. When they anointed him with the last unction, when the holy oil touched his breast, one eye opened, and it seemed as though at the sight of the priest in his vestments, the smoking censers, the light before the image, something like a shudder of horror passed over the death-stricken face. When at last he had breathed his last, and there arose a universal lamentation in the house, Vassily Ivanovitch was seized by a sudden frenzy. 'I said I should rebel,' he shrieked hoarsely, with his face inflamed and distorted, shaking his fist in the air, as though threatening some one; 'and I rebel, I rebel!' But Arina Vlasyevna, all in tears, hung upon his neck, and both fell on their faces together. 'Side by side,' Anfisushka related afterwards in the servants' room, 'they dropped their poor heads like lambs at noonday ...'
But the heat of noonday passes, and evening comes and night, and then, too, the return to the kindly refuge, where sleep is sweet for the weary and heavy laden....
Six months had passed by. White winter had come with the cruel stillness of unclouded frosts, the thick-lying, crunching snow, the rosy rime on the trees, the pale emerald sky, the wreaths of smoke above the chimneys, the clouds of steam rushing out of the doors when they are opened for an instant, with the fresh faces, that look stung by the cold, and the hurrying trot of the chilled horses. A January day was drawing to its close; the cold evening was more keen than ever in the motionless air, and a lurid sunset was rapidly dying away. There were lights burning in the windows of the house at Maryino; Prokofitch in a black frockcoat and white gloves, with a special solemnity, laid the table for seven. A week before in the small parish church two weddings had taken place quietly, and almost without witnesses—Arkady and Katya's, and Nikolai Petrovitch and Fenitchka's; and on this day Nikolai Petrovitch was giving a farewell dinner to his brother, who was going away to Moscow on business. Anna Sergyevna had gone there also directly after the ceremony was over, after making very handsome presents to the young people.
Precisely at three o'clock they all gathered about the table. Mitya was placed there too; with him appeared a nurse in a cap of glazed brocade. Pavel Petrovitch took his seat between Katya and Fenitchka; the 'husbands' took their places beside their wives. Our friends had changed of late; they all seemed to have grown stronger and better looking; only Pavel Petrovitch was thinner, which gave even more of an elegant and 'grand seigneur' air to his expressive features.... And Fenitchka too was different. In a fresh silk gown, with a wide velvet head-dress on her hair, with a gold chain round her neck, she sat with deprecating immobility, respectful towards herself and everything surrounding her, and smiled as though she would say, 'I beg your pardon; I'm not to blame.' And not she alone—all the others smiled, and also seemed apologetic; they were all a little awkward, a little sorry, and in reality very happy. They all helped one another with humorous attentiveness, as though they had all agreed to rehearse a sort of artless farce. Katya was the most composed of all; she looked confidently about her, and it could be seen that Nikolai Petrovitch was already devotedly fond of her. At the end of dinner he got up, and, his glass in his hand, turned to Pavel Petrovitch.
'You are leaving us ... you are leaving us, dear brother,' he began; 'not for long, to be sure; but still, I cannot help expressing what I ... what we ... how much I ... how much we.... There, the worst of it is, we don't know how to make speeches. Arkady, you speak.'
'No, daddy, I've not prepared anything.'
'As though I were so well prepared! Well, brother, I will simply say, let us embrace you, wish you all good luck, and come back to us as quickly as you can!'
Pavel Petrovitch exchanged kisses with every one, of course not excluding Mitya; in Fenitchka's case, he kissed also her hand, which she had not yet learned to offer properly, and drinking off the glass which had been filled again, he said with a deep sigh, 'May you be happy, my friends! Farewell!' This English finale passed unnoticed; but all were touched.
'To the memory of Bazarov,' Katya whispered in her husband's ear, as she clinked glasses with him. Arkady pressed her hand warmly in response, but he did not venture to propose this toast aloud.
The end, would it seem? But perhaps some one of our readers would care to know what each of the characters we have introduced is doing in the present, the actual present. We are ready to satisfy him.
Anna Sergyevna has recently made a marriage, not of love but of good sense, with one of the future leaders of Russia, a very clever man, a lawyer, possessed of vigorous practical sense, a strong will, and remarkable fluency—still young, good-natured, and cold as ice. They live in the greatest harmony together, and will live perhaps to attain complete happiness ... perhaps love. The Princess K—— is dead, forgotten the day of her death. The Kirsanovs, father and son, live at Maryino; their fortunes are beginning to mend. Arkady has become zealous in the management of the estate, and the 'farm' now yields a fairly good income. Nikolai Petrovitch has been made one of the mediators appointed to carry out the emancipation reforms, and works with all his energies; he is for ever driving about over his district; delivers long speeches (he maintains the opinion that the peasants ought to be 'brought to comprehend things,' that is to say, they ought to be reduced to a state of quiescence by the constant repetition of the same words); and yet, to tell the truth, he does not give complete satisfaction either to the refined gentry, who talk with chic, or depression of the emancipation (pronouncing it as though it were French), nor of the uncultivated gentry, who unceremoniously curse 'the damned 'mancipation.' He is too soft-hearted for both sets. Katerina Sergyevna has a son, little Nikolai, while Mitya runs about merrily and talks fluently. Fenitchka, Fedosya Nikolaevna, after her husband and Mitya, adores no one so much as her daughter-in-law, and when the latter is at the piano, she would gladly spend the whole day at her side.
A passing word of Piotr. He has grown perfectly rigid with stupidity and dignity, but he too is married, and received a respectable dowry with his bride, the daughter of a market-gardener of the town, who had refused two excellent suitors, only because they had no watch; while Piotr had not only a watch—he had a pair of kid shoes.
In the Brühl Terrace in Dresden, between two and four o'clock—the most fashionable time for walking—you may meet a man about fifty, quite grey, and looking as though he suffered from gout, but still handsome, elegantly dressed, and with that special stamp, which is only gained by moving a long time in the higher strata of society. That is Pavel Petrovitch. From Moscow he went abroad for the sake of his health, and has settled for good at Dresden, where he associates most with English and Russian visitors. With English people he behaves simply, almost modestly, but with dignity; they find him rather a bore, but respect him for being, as they say, 'a perfect gentleman.' With Russians he is more free and easy, gives vent to his spleen, and makes fun of himself and them, but that is done by him with great amiability, negligence, and propriety. He holds Slavophil views; it is well known that in the highest society this is regarded as très distingué! He reads nothing in Russian, but on his writing table there is a silver ashpan in the shape of a peasant's plaited shoe. He is much run after by our tourists. Matvy Ilyitch Kolyazin, happening to be in temporary opposition, paid him a majestic visit; while the natives, with whom, however, he is very little seen, positively grovel before him. No one can so readily and quickly obtain a ticket for the court chapel, for the theatre, and such things as der Herr Baron von Kirsanoff. He does everything good-naturedly that he can; he still makes some little noise in the world; it is not for nothing that he was once a great society lion;—but life is a burden to him ... a heavier burden than he suspects himself. One need but glance at him in the Russian church, when, leaning against the wall on one side, he sinks into thought, and remains long without stirring, bitterly compressing his lips, then suddenly recollects himself, and begins almost imperceptibly crossing himself....
Madame Kukshin, too, went abroad. She is in Heidelberg, and is now studying not natural science, but architecture, in which, according to her own account, she has discovered new laws. She still fraternises with students, especially with the young Russians studying natural science and chemistry, with whom Heidelberg is crowded, and who, astounding the naïve German professors at first by the soundness of their views of things, astound the same professors no less in the sequel by their complete inefficiency and absolute idleness. In company with two or three such young chemists, who don't know oxygen from nitrogen, but are filled with scepticism and self-conceit, and, too, with the great Elisyevitch, Sitnikov roams about Petersburg, also getting ready to be great, and in his own conviction continues the 'work' of Bazarov. There is a story that some one recently gave him a beating; but he was avenged upon him; in an obscure little article, hidden in an obscure little journal, he has hinted that the man who beat him was a coward. He calls this irony. His father bullies him as before, while his wife regards him as a fool ... and a literary man.
There is a small village graveyard in one of the remote corners of Russia. Like almost all our graveyards, it presents a wretched appearance; the ditches surrounding it have long been overgrown; the grey wooden crosses lie fallen and rotting under their once painted gables; the stone slabs are all displaced, as though some one were pushing them up from behind; two or three bare trees give a scanty shade; the sheep wander unchecked among the tombs.... But among them is one untouched by man, untrampled by beast, only the birds perch upon it and sing at daybreak. An iron railing runs round it; two young fir-trees have been planted, one at each end. Yevgeny Bazarov is buried in this tomb. Often from the little village not far off, two quite feeble old people come to visit it—a husband and wife. Supporting one another, they move to it with heavy steps; they go up to the railing, fall down, and remain on their knees, and long and bitterly they weep, and yearn and intently gaze at the dumb stone, under which their son is lying; they exchange some brief word, wipe away the dust from the stone, set straight a branch of a fir-tree, and pray again, and cannot tear themselves from this place, where they seem to be nearer to their son, to their memories of him.... Can it be that their prayers, their tears are fruitless? Can it be that love, sacred, devoted love, is not all-powerful? Oh, no! However passionate, sinning, and rebellious the heart hidden in the tomb, the flowers growing over it peep serenely at us with their innocent eyes; they tell us not of eternal peace alone, of that great peace of 'indifferent' nature; tell us too of eternal reconciliation and of life without end.