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Title: Youth
Author: Tolstoy, Leo, graf
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Youth" ***

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YOUTH

By Leo Tolstoy/Tolstoi


Translated by C. J. Hogarth



I. WHAT I CONSIDER TO HAVE BEEN THE BEGINNING OF MY YOUTH

I have said that my friendship with Dimitri opened up for me a new view
of my life and of its aim and relations. The essence of that view lay
in the conviction that the destiny of man is to strive for moral
improvement, and that such improvement is at once easy, possible, and
lasting. Hitherto, however, I had found pleasure only in the new ideas
which I discovered to arise from that conviction, and in the forming of
brilliant plans for a moral, active future, while all the time my life
had been continuing along its old petty, muddled, pleasure-seeking
course, and the same virtuous thoughts which I and my adored friend
Dimitri (“my own marvellous Mitia,” as I used to call him to myself in
a whisper) had been wont to exchange with one another still pleased my
intellect, but left my sensibility untouched. Nevertheless there came
a moment when those thoughts swept into my head with a sudden freshness
and force of moral revelation which left me aghast at the amount of
time which I had been wasting, and made me feel as though I must at
once--that very second--apply those thoughts to life, with the firm
intention of never again changing them.

It is from that moment that I date the beginning of my youth.

I was then nearly sixteen. Tutors still attended to give me lessons,
St. Jerome still acted as general supervisor of my education, and,
willy-nilly, I was being prepared for the University. In addition to my
studies, my occupations included certain vague dreamings and ponderings,
a number of gymnastic exercises to make myself the finest athlete in the
world, a good deal of aimless, thoughtless wandering through the rooms
of the house (but more especially along the maidservants’ corridor), and
much looking at myself in the mirror. From the latter, however, I always
turned away with a vague feeling of depression, almost of repulsion. Not
only did I feel sure that my exterior was ugly, but I could derive no
comfort from any of the usual consolations under such circumstances. I
could not say, for instance, that I had at least an expressive, clever,
or refined face, for there was nothing whatever expressive about it. Its
features were of the most humdrum, dull, and unbecoming type, with small
grey eyes which seemed to me, whenever I regarded them in the mirror,
to be stupid rather than clever. Of manly bearing I possessed even less,
since, although I was not exactly small of stature, and had, moreover,
plenty of strength for my years, every feature in my face was of the
meek, sleepy-looking, indefinite type. Even refinement was lacking
in it, since, on the contrary, it precisely resembled that of a
simple-looking moujik, while I also had the same big hands and feet as
he. At the time, all this seemed to me very shameful.



II. SPRINGTIME

Easter of the year when I entered the University fell late in April, so
that the examinations were fixed for St. Thomas’s Week, [Easter week.]
and I had to spend Good Friday in fasting and finally getting myself
ready for the ordeal.

Following upon wet snow (the kind of stuff which Karl Ivanitch used to
describe as “a child following, its father”), the weather had for three
days been bright and mild and still. Not a clot of snow was now to be
seen in the streets, and the dirty slush had given place to wet, shining
pavements and coursing rivulets. The last icicles on the roofs were fast
melting in the sunshine, buds were swelling on the trees in the little
garden, the path leading across the courtyard to the stables was soft
instead of being a frozen ridge of mud, and mossy grass was showing
green between the stones around the entrance-steps. It was just that
particular time in spring when the season exercises the strongest
influence upon the human soul--when clear sunlight illuminates
everything, yet sheds no warmth, when rivulets run trickling under one’s
feet, when the air is charged with an odorous freshness, and when the
bright blue sky is streaked with long, transparent clouds.

For some reason or another the influence of this early stage in the
birth of spring always seems to me more perceptible and more impressive
in a great town than in the country. One sees less, but one feels more.
I was standing near the window--through the double frames of which the
morning sun was throwing its mote-flecked beams upon the floor of what
seemed to me my intolerably wearisome schoolroom--and working out a
long algebraical equation on the blackboard. In one hand I was holding a
ragged, long-suffering “Algebra” and in the other a small piece of chalk
which had already besmeared my hands, my face, and the elbows of my
jacket. Nicola, clad in an apron, and with his sleeves rolled up, was
picking out the putty from the window-frames with a pair of nippers, and
unfastening the screws. The window looked out upon the little garden. At
length his occupation and the noise which he was making over it arrested
my attention. At the moment I was in a very cross, dissatisfied frame of
mind, for nothing seemed to be going right with me. I had made a mistake
at the very beginning of my algebra, and so should have to work it out
again; twice I had let the chalk drop. I was conscious that my hands and
face were whitened all over; the sponge had rolled away into a corner;
and the noise of Nicola’s operations was fast getting on my nerves. I
had a feeling as though I wanted to fly into a temper and grumble at
some one, so I threw down chalk and “Algebra” alike, and began to
pace the room. Then suddenly I remembered that to-day we were to go to
confession, and that therefore I must refrain from doing anything
wrong. Next, with equal suddenness I relapsed into an extraordinarily
goodhumoured frame of mind, and walked across to Nicola.

“Let me help you, Nicola,” I said, trying to speak as pleasantly as I
possibly could. The idea that I was performing a meritorious action in
thus suppressing my ill-temper and offering to help him increased my
good-humour all the more.

By this time the putty had been chipped out, and the screws removed,
yet, though Nicola pulled with might and main at the cross-piece, the
window-frame refused to budge.

“If it comes out as soon as he and I begin to pull at it together,” I
thought, “it will be rather a shame, as then I shall have nothing more
of the kind to do to-day.”

Suddenly the frame yielded a little at one side, and came out.

“Where shall I put it?” I said.

“Let ME see to it, if you please,” replied Nicola, evidently surprised
as well as, seemingly, not over-pleased at my zeal. “We must not leave
it here, but carry it away to the lumber-room, where I keep all the
frames stored and numbered.”

“Oh, but I can manage it,” I said as I lifted it up. I verily believe
that if the lumber-room had been a couple of versts away, and the frame
twice as heavy as it was, I should have been the more pleased. I felt
as though I wanted to tire myself out in performing this service for
Nicola. When I returned to the room the bricks and screws had been
replaced on the windowsill, and Nicola was sweeping the debris, as well
as a few torpid flies, out of the open window. The fresh, fragrant air
was rushing into and filling all the room, while with it came also the
dull murmur of the city and the twittering of sparrows in the garden.
Everything was in brilliant light, the room looked cheerful, and a
gentle spring breeze was stirring Nicola’s hair and the leaves of my
“Algebra.” Approaching the window, I sat down upon the sill, turned my
eyes downwards towards the garden, and fell into a brown study.

Something new to me, something extraordinarily potent and unfamiliar,
had suddenly invaded my soul. The wet ground on which, here and there,
a few yellowish stalks and blades of bright-green grass were to be seen;
the little rivulets glittering in the sunshine, and sweeping clods of
earth and tiny chips of wood along with them; the reddish twigs of the
lilac, with their swelling buds, which nodded just beneath the window;
the fussy twitterings of birds as they fluttered in the bush below; the
blackened fence shining wet from the snow which had lately melted off
it; and, most of all, the raw, odorous air and radiant sunlight--all
spoke to me, clearly and unmistakably, of something new and beautiful,
of something which, though I cannot repeat it here as it was then
expressed to me, I will try to reproduce so far as I understood it.
Everything spoke to me of beauty, happiness, and virtue--as three things
which were both easy and possible for me--and said that no one of them
could exist without the other two, since beauty, happiness, and virtue
were one. “How did I never come to understand that before?” I cried to
myself. “How did I ever manage to be so wicked? Oh, but how good, how
happy, I could be--nay, I WILL be--in the future! At once, at once--yes,
this very minute--I will become another being, and begin to live
differently!” For all that, I continued sitting on the window-sill,
continued merely dreaming, and doing nothing. Have you ever, on a
summer’s day, gone to bed in dull, rainy weather, and, waking just
at sunset, opened your eyes and seen through the square space of the
window--the space where the linen blind is blowing up and down, and
beating its rod upon the window-sill--the rain-soaked, shadowy, purple
vista of an avenue of lime-trees, with a damp garden path lit up by the
clear, slanting beams of the sun, and then suddenly heard the joyous
sounds of bird life in the garden, and seen insects flying to and fro at
the open window, and glittering in the sunlight, and smelt the fragrance
of the rain-washed air, and thought to yourself, “Am I not ashamed to be
lying in bed on such an evening as this?” and, leaping joyously to your
feet, gone out into the garden and revelled in all that welter of
life? If you have, then you can imagine for yourself the overpowering
sensation which was then possessing me.



III. DREAMS

“To-day I will make my confession and purge myself of every sin,” I
thought to myself. “Nor will I ever commit another one.” At this point I
recalled all the peccadilloes which most troubled my conscience. “I will
go to church regularly every Sunday, as well as read the Gospel at the
close of every hour throughout the day. What is more, I will set aside,
out of the cheque which I shall receive each month after I have gone
to the University, two-and-a-half roubles” (a tenth of my monthly
allowance) “for people who are poor but not exactly beggars, yet without
letting any one know anything about it. Yes, I will begin to look out
for people like that--orphans or old women--at once, yet never tell a
soul what I am doing for them.

“Also, I will have a room here of my very own (St. Jerome’s, probably),
and look after it myself, and keep it perfectly clean. I will never let
any one do anything for me, for every one is just a human being like
myself. Likewise I will walk every day, not drive, to the University.
Even if some one gives me a drozhki [Russian phaeton.] I will sell
it, and devote the money to the poor. Everything I will do exactly and
always” (what that “always” meant I could not possibly have said, but at
least I had a vivid consciousness of its connoting some kind of
prudent, moral, and irreproachable life). “I will get up all my lectures
thoroughly, and go over all the subjects beforehand, so that at the
end of my first course I may come out top and write a thesis. During my
second course also I will get up everything beforehand, so that I may
soon be transferred to the third course, and at eighteen come out top in
the examinations, and receive two gold medals, and go on to be Master of
Arts, and Doctor, and the first scholar in Europe. Yes, in all Europe I
mean to be the first scholar.--Well, what next?” I asked myself at this
point. Suddenly it struck me that dreams of this sort were a form of
pride--a sin which I should have to confess to the priest that very
evening, so I returned to the original thread of my meditations.
“When getting up my lectures I will go to the Vorobievi Gori, [Sparrow
Hills--a public park near Moscow.] and choose some spot under a tree,
and read my lectures over there. Sometimes I will take with me something
to eat--cheese or a pie from Pedotti’s, or something of the kind. After
that I will sleep a little, and then read some good book or other, or
else draw pictures or play on some instrument (certainly I must learn to
play the flute). Perhaps SHE too will be walking on the Vorobievi Gori,
and will approach me one day and say, ‘Who are you?’ and I shall look at
her, oh, so sadly, and say that I am the son of a priest, and that I am
happy only when I am there alone, quite alone. Then she will give me her
hand, and say something to me, and sit down beside me. So every day we
shall go to the same spot, and be friends together, and I shall kiss
her. But no! That would not be right! On the contrary, from this day
forward I never mean to look at a woman again. Never, never again do I
mean to walk with a girl, nor even to go near one if I can help it. Yet,
of course, in three years’ time, when I have come of age, I shall
marry. Also, I mean to take as much exercise as ever I can, and to do
gymnastics every day, so that, when I have turned twenty-five, I shall
be stronger even than Rappo. On my first day’s training I mean to hold
out half a pood [The Pood = 40 Russian pounds.] at arm’s length for
five minutes, and the next day twenty-one pounds, and the third day
twenty-two pounds, and so on, until at last I can hold out four poods
in each hand, and be stronger even than a porter. Then, if ever any one
should try to insult me or should begin to speak disrespectfully of HER,
I shall take him so, by the front of his coat, and lift him up an arshin
[The arshin = 2 feet 3 inches.] or two with one hand, and just hold him
there, so that he may feel my strength and cease from his conduct. Yet
that too would not be right. No, no, it would not matter; I should not
hurt him, merely show him that I--”

Let no one blame me because the dreams of my youth were as foolish as
those of my childhood and boyhood. I am sure that, even if it be my fate
to live to extreme old age and to continue my story with the years, I,
an old man of seventy, shall be found dreaming dreams just as impossible
and childish as those I am dreaming now. I shall be dreaming of some
lovely Maria who loves me, the toothless old man, as she might love a
Mazeppa; of some imbecile son who, through some extraordinary chance,
has suddenly become a minister of state; of my suddenly receiving a
windfall of a million of roubles. I am sure that there exists no human
being, no human age, to whom or to which that gracious, consolatory
power of dreaming is totally a stranger. Yet, save for the one general
feature of magic and impossibility, the dreams of each human being, of
each age of man, have their own distinguishing characteristics. At the
period upon which I look as having marked the close of my boyhood and
the beginning of my youth, four leading sentiments formed the basis
of my dreams. The first of those sentiments was love for HER--for an
imaginary woman whom I always pictured the same in my dreams, and whom I
somehow expected to meet some day and somewhere. This she of mine had a
little of Sonetchka in her, a little of Masha as Masha could look when
she stood washing linen over the clothes-tub, and a little of a certain
woman with pearls round her fair white neck whom I had once seen long,
long ago at a theatre, in a box below our own. My second sentiment was a
craving for love. I wanted every one to know me and to love me. I wanted
to be able to utter my name--Nicola Irtenieff--and at once to see every
one thunderstruck at it, and come crowding round me and thanking me for
something or another, I hardly knew what. My third sentiment was
the expectation of some extraordinary, glorious happiness that was
impending--some happiness so strong and assured as to verge upon
ecstasy. Indeed, so firmly persuaded was I that very, very soon some
unexpected chance would suddenly make me the richest and most famous
man in the world that I lived in constant, tremulous expectation of this
magic good fortune befalling me. I was always thinking to myself
that “IT is beginning,” and that I should go on thereafter to attain
everything that a man could wish for. Consequently, I was for
ever hurrying from place to place, in the belief that “IT” must be
“beginning” just where I happened not to be. Lastly, my fourth and
principal sentiment of all was abhorrence of myself, mingled with
regret--yet a regret so blended with the certain expectation of
happiness to which I have referred that it had in it nothing of sorrow.
It seemed to me that it would be so easy and natural for me to tear
myself away from my past and to remake it--to forget all that had been,
and to begin my life, with all its relations, anew--that the past never
troubled me, never clung to me at all. I even found a certain pleasure
in detesting the past, and in seeing it in a darker light than the true
one. This note of regret and of a curious longing for perfection were
the chief mental impressions which I gathered from that new stage of my
growth--impressions which imparted new principles to my view of myself,
of men, and of God’s world. O good and consoling voice, which in later
days, in sorrowful days when my soul yielded silently to the sway of
life’s falseness and depravity, so often raised a sudden, bold
protest against all iniquity, as well as mercilessly exposed the
past, commanded, nay, compelled, me to love only the pure vista of the
present, and promised me all that was fair and happy in the future! O
good and consoling voice! Surely the day will never come when you are
silent?



IV. OUR FAMILY CIRCLE

PAPA was seldom at home that spring. Yet, whenever he was so, he seemed
extraordinarily cheerful as he either strummed his favourite pieces on
the piano or looked roguishly at us and made jokes about us all, not
excluding even Mimi. For instance, he would say that the Tsarevitch
himself had seen Mimi at the rink, and fallen so much in love with her
that he had presented a petition to the Synod for divorce; or else
that I had been granted an appointment as secretary to the Austrian
ambassador--a piece of news which he imparted to us with a perfectly
grave face. Next, he would frighten Katenka with some spiders (of which
she was very much afraid), engage in an animated conversation with our
friends Dubkoff and Nechludoff, and tell us and our guests, over and
over again, his plans for the year. Although these plans changed almost
from day to day, and were for ever contradicting one another, they
seemed so attractive that we were always glad to listen to them, and
Lubotshka, in particular, would glue her eyes to his face, so as not to
lose a single word. One day his plan would be that he should leave my
brother and myself at the University, and go and live with Lubotshka
in Italy for two years. Next, the plan would be that he should buy an
estate on the south coast of the Crimea, and take us for an annual visit
there; next, that we should migrate en masse to St. Petersburg; and so
forth. Yet, in addition to this unusual cheerfulness of his, another
change had come over him of late--a change which greatly surprised
me. This was that he had had some fashionable clothes made--an
olive-coloured frockcoat, smart trousers with straps at the sides, and a
long wadded greatcoat which fitted him to perfection. Often, too, there
was a delightful smell of scent about him when he came home from a
party--more especially when he had been to see a lady of whom Mimi never
spoke but with a sigh and a face that seemed to say: “Poor orphans! How
dreadful! It is a good thing that SHE is gone now!” and so on, and
so on. From Nicola (for Papa never spoke to us of his gambling) I had
learnt that he (Papa) had been very fortunate in play that winter, and
so had won an extraordinary amount of money, all of which he had
placed in the bank after vowing that he would play no more that spring.
Evidently, it was his fear of being unable to resist again doing so that
was rendering him anxious to leave for the country as soon as possible.
Indeed, he ended by deciding not to wait until I had entered the
University, but to take the girls to Petrovskoe immediately after
Easter, and to leave Woloda and myself to follow them at a later season.

All that winter, until the opening of spring, Woloda had been
inseparable from Dubkoff, while at the same time the pair of them had
cooled greatly towards Dimitri. Their chief amusements (so I gathered
from conversations overheard) were continual drinking of champagne,
sledge-driving past the windows of a lady with whom both of them
appeared to be in love, and dancing with her--not at children’s parties,
either, but at real balls! It was this last fact which, despite our love
for one another, placed a vast gulf between Woloda and myself. We felt
that the distance between a boy still taking lessons under a tutor and
a man who danced at real, grown-up balls was too great to allow of their
exchanging mutual ideas. Katenka, too, seemed grown-up now, and read
innumerable novels; so that the idea that she would some day be getting
married no longer seemed to me a joke. Yet, though she and Woloda were
thus grown-up, they never made friends with one another, but, on the
contrary, seemed to cherish a mutual contempt. In general, when Katenka
was at home alone, nothing but novels amused her, and they but slightly;
but as soon as ever a visitor of the opposite sex called, she at once
grew lively and amiable, and used her eyes for saying things which I
could not then understand. It was only later, when she one day informed
me in conversation that the only thing a girl was allowed to indulge
in was coquetry--coquetry of the eyes, I mean--that I understood those
strange contortions of her features which to every one else had seemed a
matter for no surprise at all. Lubotshka also had begun to wear what
was almost a long dress--a dress which almost concealed her goose-shaped
feet; yet she still remained as ready a weeper as ever. She dreamed
now of marrying, not a hussar, but a singer or an instrumentalist, and
accordingly applied herself to her music with greater diligence than
ever. St. Jerome, who knew that he was going to remain with us only
until my examinations were over, and so had obtained for himself a new
post in the family of some count or another, now looked with contempt
upon the members of our household. He stayed indoors very little, took
to smoking cigarettes (then all the rage), and was for ever whistling
lively tunes on the edge of a card. Mimi daily grew more and more
despondent, as though, now that we were beginning to grow up, she looked
for nothing good from any one or anything.

When, on the day of which I am speaking, I went in to luncheon I found
only Mimi, Katenka, Lubotshka, and St. Jerome in the dining-room. Papa
was away, and Woloda in his own room, doing some preparation work for
his examinations in company with a party of his comrades: wherefore he
had requested that lunch should be sent to him there. Of late, Mimi had
usually taken the head of the table, and as none of us had any respect
for her, luncheon had lost most of its refinement and charm. That is
to say, the meal was no longer what it had been in Mamma’s or our
grandmother’s time, namely, a kind of rite which brought all the family
together at a given hour and divided the day into two halves. We allowed
ourselves to come in as late as the second course, to drink wine in
tumblers (St. Jerome himself set us the example), to roll about on our
chairs, to depart without saying grace, and so on. In fact, luncheon had
ceased to be a family ceremony. In the old days at Petrovskoe, every one
had been used to wash and dress for the meal, and then to repair to the
drawing-room as the appointed hour (two o’clock) drew near, and pass
the time of waiting in lively conversation. Just as the clock in the
servants’ hall was beginning to whirr before striking the hour, Foka
would enter with noiseless footsteps, and, throwing his napkin over his
arm and assuming a dignified, rather severe expression, would say in
loud, measured tones: “Luncheon is ready!” Thereupon, with pleased,
cheerful faces, we would form a procession--the elders going first and
the juniors following, and, with much rustling of starched petticoats
and subdued creaking of boots and shoes--would proceed to the
dining-room, where, still talking in undertones, the company would seat
themselves in their accustomed places. Or, again, at Moscow, we would
all of us be standing before the table ready-laid in the hall, talking
quietly among ourselves as we waited for our grandmother, whom the
butler, Gabriel, had gone to acquaint with the fact that luncheon was
ready. Suddenly the door would open, there would come the faint swish
of a dress and the sound of footsteps, and our grandmother--dressed in a
mob-cap trimmed with a quaint old lilac bow, and wearing either a smile
or a severe expression on her face according as the state of her health
inclined her--would issue from her room. Gabriel would hasten to precede
her to her arm-chair, the other chairs would make a scraping sound, and,
with a feeling as though a cold shiver (the precursor of appetite)
were running down one’s back, one would seize upon one’s damp, starched
napkin, nibble a morsel or two of bread, and, rubbing one’s hands softly
under the table, gaze with eager, radiant impatience at the steaming
plates of soup which the butler was beginning to dispense in order of
ranks and ages or according to the favour of our grandmother.

On the present occasion, however, I was conscious of neither excitement
nor pleasure when I went in to luncheon. Even the mingled chatter of
Mimi, the girls, and St. Jerome about the horrible boots of our Russian
tutor, the pleated dresses worn by the young Princesses Kornakoff, and
so forth (chatter which at any other time would have filled me with
a sincerity of contempt which I should have been at no pains to
conceal--at all events so far as Lubotshka and Katenka were concerned),
failed to shake the benevolent frame of mind into which I had fallen. I
was unusually good-humoured that day, and listened to everything with
a smile and a studied air of kindness. Even when I asked for the kvas I
did so politely, while I lost not a moment in agreeing with St. Jerome
when he told me that it was undoubtedly more correct to say “Je peux”
 than “Je puis.” Yet, I must confess to a certain disappointment at
finding that no one paid any particular attention to my politeness and
good-humour. After luncheon, Lubotshka showed me a paper on which
she had written down a list of her sins: upon which I observed that,
although the idea was excellent so far as it went, it would be still
better for her to write down her sins on her SOUL--“a very different
matter.”

“Why is it ‘a very different matter’?” asked Lubotshka.

“Never mind: that is all right; you do not understand me,” and I went
upstairs to my room, telling St. Jerome that I was going to work, but in
reality purposing to occupy the hour and a half before confession time
in writing down a list of my daily tasks and duties which should last me
all my life, together with a statement of my life’s aim, and the rules
by which I meant unswervingly to be guided.



V. MY RULES

I TOOK some sheets of paper, and tried, first of all, to make a list of
my tasks and duties for the coming year. The paper needed ruling, but,
as I could not find the ruler, I had to use a Latin dictionary instead.
The result was that, when I had drawn the pen along the edge of the
dictionary and removed the latter, I found that, in place of a line, I
had only made an oblong smudge on the paper, since the dictionary was
not long enough to reach across it, and the pen had slipped round the
soft, yielding corner of the book. Thereupon I took another piece of
paper, and, by carefully manipulating the dictionary, contrived to
rule what at least RESEMBLED lines. Dividing my duties into three
sections--my duties to myself, my duties to my neighbour, and my duties
to God--I started to indite a list of the first of those sections, but
they seemed to me so numerous, and therefore requiring to be divided
into so many species and subdivisions, that I thought I had better first
of all write down the heading of “Rules of My Life” before proceeding to
their detailed inscription. Accordingly, I proceeded to write “Rules of
My Life” on the outside of the six sheets of paper which I had made into
a sort of folio, but the words came out in such a crooked and uneven
scrawl that for long I sat debating the question, “Shall I write
them again?”--for long, sat in agonised contemplation of the ragged
handwriting and disfigured title-page. Why was it that all the beauty
and clarity which my soul then contained came out so misshapenly
on paper (as in life itself) just when I was wishing to apply those
qualities to what I was thinking at the moment?

“The priest is here, so please come downstairs and hear his directions,”
 said Nicola as he entered.

Hurriedly concealing my folio under the table-cloth, I looked at myself
in the mirror, combed my hair upwards (I imagined this to give me a
pensive air), and descended to the divannaia, [Room with divans, or
ante-room] where the table stood covered with a cloth and had an ikon
and candles placed upon it. Papa entered just as I did, but by another
door: whereupon the priest--a grey-headed old monk with a severe,
elderly face--blessed him, and Papa kissed his small, squat, wizened
hand. I did the same.

“Go and call Woldemar,” said Papa. “Where is he? Wait a minute, though.
Perhaps he is preparing for the Communion at the University?”

“No, he is with the Prince,” said Katenka, and glanced at Lubotshka.
Suddenly the latter blushed for some reason or another, and then
frowned. Finally, pretending that she was not well, she left the room,
and I followed her. In the drawing-room she halted, and began to pencil
something fresh on her paper of peccadilloes.

“Well, what new sin have you gone and committed?” I asked.

“Nothing,” she replied with another blush. All at once we heard
Dimitri’s voice raised in the hall as he took his leave of Woloda.

“It seems to me you are always experiencing some new temptation,” said
Katenka, who had entered the room behind us, and now stood looking at
Lubotshka.

What was the matter with my sister I could not conceive, but she was
now so agitated that the tears were starting from her eyes. Finally her
confusion grew uncontrollable, and vented itself in rage against both
herself and Katenka, who appeared to be teasing her.

“Any one can see that you are a FOREIGNER!” she cried (nothing offended
Katenka so much as to be called by that term, which is why Lubotshka
used it). “Just because I have the secret of which you know,” she went
on, with anger ringing through her tone, “you purposely go and upset me!
Please do understand that it is no joking matter.”

“Do you know what she has gone and written on her paper, Nicolinka?”
 cried Katenka, much infuriated by the term “foreigner.” “She has written
down that--”

“Oh, I never could have believed that you could be so cruel!” exclaimed
Lubotshka, now bursting into open sobbing as she moved away from us.
“You chose that moment on purpose! You spend your whole time in trying
to make me sin! I’ll never go to YOU again for sympathy and advice!”



VI. CONFESSION

With these and other disjointed impressions in my mind, I returned to
the divannaia. As soon as every one had reassembled, the priest rose
and prepared to read the prayer before confession. The instant that
the silence was broken by the stern, expressive voice of the monk as
he recited the prayer--and more especially when he addressed to us
the words: “Reveal thou all thy sins without shame, concealment, or
extenuation, and let thy soul be cleansed before God: for if thou
concealest aught, then great will be thy sin”--the same sensation of
reverent awe came over me as I had felt during the morning. I even took
a certain pleasure in recognising this condition of mine, and strove to
preserve it, not only by restraining all other thoughts from entering
my brain, but also by consciously exerting myself to feel no other
sensation than this same one of reverence.

Papa was the first to go to confession. He remained a long, long time in
the room which had belonged to our grandmother, and during that time
the rest of us kept silence in the divannaia, or only whispered to one
another on the subject of who should precede whom. At length, the voice
of the priest again reading the prayer sounded from the doorway, and
then Papa’s footsteps. The door creaked as he came out, coughing and
holding one shoulder higher than the other, in his usual way, and for
the moment he did not look at any of us.

“YOU go now, Luba,” he said presently, as he gave her cheek a
mischievous pinch. “Mind you tell him everything. You are my greatest
sinner, you know.”

Lubotshka went red and pale by turns, took her memorandum paper out of
her apron, replaced it, and finally moved away towards the doorway with
her head sunk between her shoulders as though she expected to receive
a blow upon it from above. She was not long gone, and when she returned
her shoulders were shaking with sobs.

At length--next after the excellent Katenka (who came out of the doorway
with a smile on her face)--my turn arrived. I entered the dimly-lighted
room with the same vague feeling of awe, the same conscious eagerness to
arouse that feeling more and more in my soul, that had possessed me up
to the present moment. The priest, standing in front of a reading-desk,
slowly turned his face to me.

I was not more than five minutes in the room, but came out from it happy
and (so I persuaded myself) entirely cleansed--a new, a morally reborn
individual. Despite the fact that the old surroundings of my life now
struck me as unfamiliar (even though the rooms, the furniture, and my
own figure--would to heavens that I could have changed my outer man for
the better in the same way that I believed myself to have changed
my inner I--were the same as before), I remained in that comfortable
attitude of mine until the very moment of bedtime.

Yet, no sooner had I begun to grow drowsy with the conning over of my
sins than in a flash I recollected a particularly shameful sin which
I had suppressed at confession time. Instantly the words of the prayer
before confession came back to my memory and began sounding in my ears.
My peace was gone for ever. “For if thou concealest aught, then great
will be thy sin.” Each time that the phrase recurred to me I saw myself
a sinner for whom no punishment was adequate. Long did I toss from side
to side as I considered my position, while expecting every moment to
be visited with the divine wrath--to be struck with sudden death,
perhaps!--an insupportable thought! Then suddenly the reassuring thought
occurred to me: “Why should I not drive out to the monastery when the
morning comes, and see the priest again, and make a second confession?”
 Thereafter I grew calmer.



VII. THE EXPEDITION TO THE MONASTERY

Several times that night I woke in terror at the thought that I might
be oversleeping myself, and by six o’clock was out of bed, although the
dawn was hardly peeping in at the window. I put on my clothes and boots
(all of which were lying tumbled and unbrushed beside the bed, since
Nicola, of course had not been in yet to tidy them up), and, without a
prayer said or my face washed, emerged, for the first time in my life,
into the street ALONE.

Over the way, behind the green roof of a large building, the dim, cold
dawn was beginning to blush red. The keen frost of the spring morning
which had stiffened the pools and mud and made them crackle under my
feet now nipped my face and hands also. Not a cab was to be seen, though
I had counted upon one to make the journey out and home the quicker.
Only a file of waggons was rumbling along the Arbat Prospect, and a
couple of bricklayers talking noisily together as they strode along the
pavement. However, after walking a verst or so I began to meet men and
women taking baskets to market or going with empty barrels to fetch the
day’s water supply; until at length, at the cross streets near the Arbat
Gate, where a pieman had set up his stall and a baker was just opening
his shop, I espied an old cabman shaking himself after indulging in a
nap on the box of his be-scratched old blue-painted, hobble-de-hoy wreck
of a drozhki. He seemed barely awake as he asked twenty copecks as the
fare to the monastery and back, but came to himself a moment afterwards,
just as I was about to get in, and, touching up his horse with the spare
end of the reins, started to drive off and leave me. “My horse wants
feeding,” he growled, “I can’t take you, barin.[Sir]”

With some difficulty and a promise of FORTY copecks I persuaded him to
stop. He eyed me narrowly as he pulled up, but nevertheless said: “Very
well. Get in, barin.” I must confess that I had some qualms lest he
should drive me to a quiet corner somewhere, and then rob me, but I
caught hold of the collar of his ragged driving-coat, close to where his
wrinkled neck showed sadly lean above his hunched-up back, and climbed
on to the blue-painted, curved, rickety scat. As we set off along
Vozdvizhenka Street, I noticed that the back of the drozhki was covered
with a strip of the same greenish material as that of which his coat was
made. For some reason or another this reassured me, and I no longer felt
nervous of being taken to a quiet spot and robbed.

The sun had risen to a good height, and was gilding the cupolas of the
churches, when we arrived at the monastery. In the shade the frost had
not yet given, but in the open roadway muddy rivulets of water were
coursing along, and it was through fast-thawing mire that the horse went
clip-clopping his way. Alighting, and entering the monastery grounds, I
inquired of the first monk whom I met where I could find the priest whom
I was seeking.

“His cell is over there,” replied the monk as he stopped a moment and
pointed towards a little building up to which a flight of steps led.

“I respectfully thank you,” I said, and then fell to wondering what all
the monks (who at that moment began to come filing out of the church)
must be thinking of me as they glanced in my direction. I was neither a
grown-up nor a child, while my face was unwashed, my hair unbrushed,
my clothes tumbled, and my boots unblacked and muddy. To what class
of persons were the brethren assigning me--for they stared at me hard
enough? Nevertheless I proceeded in the direction which the young priest
had pointed out to me.

An old man with bushy grey eyebrows and a black cassock met me on the
narrow path to the cells, and asked me what I wanted. For a brief moment
I felt inclined to say “Nothing,” and then run back to the drozhki and
drive away home; but, for all its beetling brows, the face of the old
man inspired confidence, and I merely said that I wished to see the
priest (whom I named).

“Very well, young sir; I will take you to him,” said the old man as he
turned round. Clearly he had guessed my errand at a stroke. “The father
is at matins at this moment, but he will soon be back,” and, opening
a door, the old man led me through a neat hall and corridor, all lined
with clean matting, to a cell.

“Please to wait here,” he added, and then, with a kind, reassuring
glance, departed.

The little room in which I found myself was of the smallest possible
dimensions, but extremely neat and clean. Its furniture only consisted
of a small table (covered with a cloth, and placed between two equally
small casement-windows, in which stood two pots of geraniums), a stand
of ikons, with a lamp suspended in front of them, a bench, and two
chairs. In one corner hung a wall clock, with little flowers painted on
its dial, and brass weights to its chains, while upon two nails driven
into a screen (which, fastened to the ceiling with whitewashed pegs,
probably concealed the bed) hung a couple of cassocks. The windows
looked out upon a whitewashed wall, about two arshins distant, and in
the space between them there grew a small lilac-bush.

Not a sound penetrated from without, and in the stillness the measured,
friendly stroke of the clock’s pendulum seemed to beat quite loudly.
The instant that I found myself alone in this calm retreat all other
thoughts and recollections left my head as completely as though they had
never been there, and I subsided into an inexpressibly pleasing kind of
torpor. The rusty alpaca cassocks with their frayed linings, the
worn black leather bindings of the books with their metal clasps, the
dull-green plants with their carefully watered leaves and soil, and,
above all, the abrupt, regular beat of the pendulum, all spoke to me
intimately of some new life hitherto unknown to me--a life of unity and
prayer, of calm, restful happiness.

“The months, the years, may pass,” I thought to myself, “but he remains
alone--always at peace, always knowing that his conscience is pure
before God, that his prayer will be heard by Him.” For fully half
an hour I sat on that chair, trying not to move, not even to breathe
loudly, for fear I should mar the harmony of the sounds which were
telling me so much, and ever the pendulum continued to beat the
same--now a little louder to the right, now a little softer to the left.



VIII. THE SECOND CONFESSION

Suddenly the sound of the priest’s footsteps roused me from this
reverie.

“Good morning to you,” he said as he smoothed his grey hair with his
hand. “What can I do for you?”

I besought him to give me his blessing, and then kissed his small,
wizened hand with great fervour. After I had explained to him my errand
he said nothing, but moved away towards the ikons, and began to read the
exhortation: whereupon I overcame my shame, and told him all that was in
my heart. Finally he laid his hands upon my head, and pronounced in
his even, resonant voice the words: “My son, may the blessing of
Our Heavenly Father be upon thee, and may He always preserve thee in
faithfulness, loving-kindness, and meekness. Amen.”

I was entirely happy. Tears of joy coursed down my face as I kissed the
hem of his cassock and then raised my head again. The face of the
priest expressed perfect tranquillity. So keenly did I feel the joy of
reconciliation that, fearing in any way to dispel it, I took hasty leave
of him, and, without looking to one side of me or the other (in order
that my attention might not be distracted), left the grounds and
re-entered the rickety, battered drozhki. Yet the joltings of the
vehicle and the variety of objects which flitted past my eyes soon
dissipated that feeling, and I became filled with nothing but the idea
that the priest must have thought me the finest-spirited young man he
had ever met, or ever would meet, in the whole of his life. Indeed, I
reflected, there could not be many such as myself--of that I felt sure,
and the conviction produced in me the kind of complacency which craves
for self-communication to another. I had a great desire to unbosom
myself to some one, and as there was no one else to speak to, I
addressed myself to the cabman.

“Was I very long gone?” I asked him.

“No, not very long,” he replied. He seemed to have grown more cheerful
under the influence of the sunshine. “Yet now it is a good while past my
horse’s feeding-time. You see, I am a night cabman.”

“Well, I only seemed to myself to be about a minute,” I went on. “Do you
know what I went there for?” I added, changing my seat to the well of
the drozhki, so as to be nearer the driver.

“What business is it of mine? I drive a fare where he tells me to go,”
 he replied.

“Yes, but, all the same, what do you think I went there for?” I
persisted.

“I expect some one you know is going to be buried there, so you went to
see about a plot for the grave.”

“No, no, my friend. Still, DO you know what I went there for?”

“No, of course I cannot tell, barin,” he repeated.

His voice seemed to me so kind that I decided to edify him by relating
the cause of my expedition, and even telling him of the feeling which I
had experienced.

“Shall I tell you?” I said. “Well, you see,”--and I told him all, as
well as inflicted upon him a description of my fine sentiments. To this
day I blush at the recollection.

“Well, well!” said the cabman non-committally, and for a long while
afterwards he remained silent and motionless, except that at intervals
he adjusted the skirt of his coat each time that it was jerked from
beneath his leg by the joltings of his huge boot on the drozhki’s step.
I felt sure that he must be thinking of me even as the priest had done.
That is to say, that he must be thinking that no such fine-spirited
young man existed in the world as I. Suddenly he shot at me:

“I tell you what, barin. You ought to keep God’s affairs to yourself.”

“What?” I said.

“Those affairs of yours--they are God’s business,” he repeated, mumbling
the words with his toothless lips.

“No, he has not understood me,” I thought to myself, and said no more to
him till we reached home.

Although it was not my original sense of reconciliation and reverence,
but only a sort of complacency at having experienced such a sense,
that lasted in me during the drive home (and that, too, despite the
distraction of the crowds of people who now thronged the sunlit streets
in every direction), I had no sooner reached home than even my spurious
complacency was shattered, for I found that I had not the forty copecks
wherewith to pay the cabman! To the butler, Gabriel, I already owed
a small debt, and he refused to lend me any more. Seeing me twice run
across the courtyard in quest of the money, the cabman must have divined
the reason, for, leaping from his drozhki, he--notwithstanding that he
had seemed so kind--began to bawl aloud (with an evident desire to punch
my head) that people who do not pay for their cab-rides are swindlers.

None of my family were yet out of bed, so that, except for the servants,
there was no one from whom to borrow the forty copecks. At length, on my
most sacred, sacred word of honour to repay (a word to which, as I could
see from his face, he did not altogether trust), Basil so far yielded to
his fondness for me and his remembrance of the many services I had done
him as to pay the cabman. Thus all my beautiful feelings ended in smoke.
When I went upstairs to dress for church and go to Communion with the
rest I found that my new clothes had not yet come home, and so I could
not wear them. Then I sinned headlong. Donning my other suit, I went
to Communion in a sad state of mental perturbation, and filled with
complete distrust of all my finer impulses.



IX. HOW I PREPARED MYSELF FOR THE EXAMINATIONS

On the Thursday in Easter week Papa, my sister, Katenka, and Mimi went
away into the country, and no one remained in my grandmother’s great
house but Woloda, St. Jerome, and myself. The frame of mind which I
had experienced on the day of my confession and during my subsequent
expedition to the monastery had now completely passed away, and left
behind it only a dim, though pleasing, memory which daily became more
and more submerged by the impressions of this emancipated existence.

The folio endorsed “Rules of My Life” lay concealed beneath a pile of
school-books. Although the idea of the possibility of framing rules, for
every occasion in my life and always letting myself be guided by
them still pleased me (since it appeared an idea at once simple and
magnificent, and I was determined to make practical application of it),
I seemed somehow to have forgotten to put it into practice at once, and
kept deferring doing so until such and such a moment. At the same time,
I took pleasure in the thought that every idea which now entered my
head could be allotted precisely to one or other of my three sections of
tasks and duties--those for or to God, those for or to my neighbour, and
those for or to myself. “I can always refer everything to them,” I said
to myself, “as well as the many, many other ideas which occur to me on
one subject or another.” Yet at this period I often asked myself, “Was I
better and more truthful when I only believed in the power of the
human intellect, or am I more so now, when I am losing the faculty of
developing that power, and am in doubt both as to its potency and as to
its importance?” To this I could return no positive answer.

The sense of freedom, combined with the spring-like feeling of vague
expectation to which I have referred already, so unsettled me that
I could not keep myself in hand--could make none but the sorriest of
preparations for my University ordeal. Thus I was busy in the schoolroom
one morning, and fully aware that I must work hard, seeing that
to-morrow was the day of my examination in a subject of which I had
the two whole questions still to read up; yet no sooner had a breath of
spring come wafted through the window than I felt as though there were
something quite different that I wished to recall to my memory. My hands
laid down my book, my feet began to move of themselves, and to set me
walking up and down the room, and my head felt as though some one
had suddenly touched in it a little spring and set some machine in
motion--so easily and swiftly and naturally did all sorts of pleasing
fancies of which I could catch no more than the radiancy begin coursing
through it. Thus one hour, two hours, elapsed unperceived. Even if I
sat down determinedly to my book, and managed to concentrate my whole
attention upon what I was reading, suddenly there would sound in the
corridor the footsteps of a woman and the rustle of her dress. Instantly
everything would escape my mind, and I would find it impossible to
remain still any longer, however much I knew that the woman could only
be either Gasha or my grandmother’s old sewing-maid moving about in the
corridor. “Yet suppose it should be SHE all at once?” I would say to
myself. “Suppose IT is beginning now, and I were to lose it?” and,
darting out into the corridor, I would find, each time, that it was only
Gasha. Yet for long enough afterwards I could not recall my attention to
my studies. A little spring had been touched in my head, and a strange
mental ferment started afresh. Again, that evening I was sitting alone
beside a tallow candle in my room. Suddenly I looked up for a moment--to
snuff the candle, or to straighten myself in my chair--and at once
became aware of nothing but the darkness in the corners and the blank of
the open doorway. Then, I also became conscious how still the house was,
and felt as though I could do nothing else than go on listening to that
stillness, and gazing into the black square of that open doorway, and
gradually sinking into a brown study as I sat there without moving.
At intervals, however, I would get up, and go downstairs, and begin
wandering through the empty rooms. Once I sat a long while in the small
drawing-room as I listened to Gasha playing “The Nightingale” (with two
fingers) on the piano in the large drawing-room, where a solitary candle
burned. Later, when the moon was bright, I felt obliged to get out of
bed and to lean out of the window, so that I might gaze into the garden,
and at the lighted roof of the Shaposnikoff mansion, the straight
tower of our parish church, and the dark shadows of the fence and the
lilac-bush where they lay black upon the path. So long did I remain
there that, when I at length returned to bed, it was ten o’clock in the
morning before I could open my eyes again.

In short, had it not been for the tutors who came to give me lessons, as
well as for St. Jerome (who at intervals, and very grudgingly, applied
a spur to my self-conceit) and, most of all, for the desire to figure
as “clever” in the eyes of my friend Nechludoff (who looked upon
distinctions in University examinations as a matter of first-rate
importance)--had it not been for all these things, I say, the spring and
my new freedom would have combined to make me forget everything I
had ever learnt, and so to go through the examinations to no purpose
whatsoever.



X. THE EXAMINATION IN HISTORY

ON the 16th of April I entered, for the first time, and under the wing
of St. Jerome, the great hall of the University. I had driven there with
St. Jerome in our smart phaeton and wearing the first frockcoat of my
life, while the whole of my other clothes--even down to my socks and
linen--were new and of a grander sort. When a Swiss waiter relieved me
of my greatcoat, and I stood before him in all the beauty of my attire,
I felt almost sorry to dazzle him so. Yet I had no sooner entered the
bright, carpeted, crowded hall, and caught sight of hundreds of other
young men in gymnasium [The Russian gymnasium = the English grammar or
secondary school.] uniforms or frockcoats (of whom but a few threw me an
indifferent glance), as well as, at the far end, of some solemn-looking
professors who were seated on chairs or walking carelessly about among
some tables, than I at once became disabused of the notion that I should
attract the general attention, while the expression of my face, which at
home, and even in the vestibule of the University buildings, had denoted
only a kind of vague regret that I should have to present so important
and distinguished an appearance, became exchanged for an expression
of the most acute nervousness and dejection. However, I soon picked
up again when I perceived sitting at one of the desks a very badly,
untidily dressed gentleman who, though not really old, was almost
entirely grey. He was occupying a seat quite at the back of the hall and
a little apart from the rest, so I hastened to sit down beside him, and
then fell to looking at the candidates for examination, and to forming
conclusions about them. Many different figures and faces were there to
be seen there; yet, in my opinion, they all seemed to divide themselves
into three classes. First of all, there were youths like myself,
attending for examination in the company of their parents or tutors.
Among such I could see the youngest Iwin (accompanied by Frost) and
Ilinka Grap (accompanied by his old father). All youths of this class
wore the early beginnings of beards, sported prominent linen, sat
quietly in their places, and never opened the books and notebooks which
they had brought with them, but gazed at the professors and examination
tables with ill-concealed nervousness. The second class of candidates
were young men in gymnasium uniforms. Several of them had attained to
the dignity of shaving, and most of them knew one another. They talked
loudly, called the professors by their names and surnames, occupied
themselves in getting their subjects ready, exchanged notebooks, climbed
over desks, fetched themselves pies and sandwiches from the vestibule,
and ate them then and there merely lowering their heads to the level
of a desk for propriety’s sake. Lastly, the third class of candidates
(which seemed a small one) consisted of oldish men--some of them in
frock coats, but the majority in jackets, and with no linen to be seen.
These preserved a serious demeanour, sat by themselves, and had a very
dingy look. The man who had afforded me consolation by being worse
dressed than myself belonged to this class. Leaning forward upon his
elbows, and running his fingers through his grey, dishevelled hair as he
read some book or another, he had thrown me only a momentary glance--and
that not a very friendly one--from a pair of glittering eyes. Then, as I
sat down, he had frowned grimly, and stuck a shiny elbow out to prevent
me from coming any nearer. On the other hand, the gymnasium men were
over-sociable, and I felt rather afraid of their proximity. One of them
did not hesitate to thrust a book into my hands, saying, “Give that to
that fellow over there, will you?” while another of them exclaimed as he
pushed past me, “By your leave, young fellow!” and a third made use of
my shoulder as a prop when he wanted to scramble over a desk. All this
seemed to me a little rough and unpleasant, for I looked upon myself as
immensely superior to such fellows, and considered that they ought not
to treat me with such familiarity. At length, the names began to
be called out. The gymnasium men walked out boldly, answered their
questions (apparently) well, and came back looking cheerful. My own
class of candidates were much more diffident, as well as appeared to
answer worse. Of the oldish men, some answered well, and some very
poorly. When the name “Semenoff” was called out my neighbour with the
grey hair and glittering eyes jostled me roughly, stepped over my legs,
and went up to one of the examiners’ tables. It was plain from the
aspect of the professors that he answered well and with assurance, yet,
on returning to his place, he did not wait to see where he was placed
on the list, but quietly collected his notebooks and departed. Several
times I shuddered at the sound of the voice calling out the names, but
my turn did not come in exact alphabetical order, though already names
had begun to be called beginning with “I.”

“Ikonin and Tenieff!” suddenly shouted some one from the professors’ end
of the hall.

“Go on, Ikonin! You are being called,” said a tall, red-faced gymnasium
student near me. “But who is this BARtenieff or MORtenieff or somebody?
I don’t know him.”

“It must be you,” whispered St. Jerome loudly in my ear.

“MY name is IRtenieff,” I said to the red-faced student. “Do you think
that was the name they were calling out?”

“Yes. Why on earth don’t you go up?” he replied. “Lord, what a dandy!”
 he added under his breath, yet not so quietly but that I failed to hear
the words as they came wafted to me from below the desk. In front of
me walked Ikonin--a tall young man of about twenty-five, who was one of
those whom I had classed as oldish men. He wore a tight brown frockcoat
and a blue satin tie, and had wisps of flaxen hair carefully brushed
over his collar in the peasant style. His appearance had already caught
my attention when we were sitting among the desks, and had given me an
impression that he was not bad-looking. Also I had noticed that he was
very talkative. Yet what struck me most about his physiognomy was a
tuft, of queer red hairs which he had under his chin, as well as, still
more, a strange habit of continually unbuttoning his waistcoat and
scratching his chest under his shirt.

Behind the table to which we were summoned sat three Professors, none of
whom acknowledged our salutations. A youngish professor was shuffling a
bundle of tickets like a pack of cards; another one, with a star on his
frockcoat, was gazing hard at a gymnasium student, who was repeating
something at great speed about Charles the Great, and adding to each
of his sentences the word nakonetz [= the English colloquialism “you
know.”] while a third one--an old man in spectacles--proceeded to bend
his head down as we approached, and, peering at us through his glasses,
pointed silently to the tickets. I felt his glance go over both myself
and Ikonin, and also felt sure that something about us had displeased
him (perhaps it was Ikonin’s red hairs), for, after taking another look
at the pair of us, he motioned impatiently to us to be quick in taking
our tickets. I felt vexed and offended--firstly, because none of the
professors had responded to our bows, and, secondly, because they
evidently coupled me with Ikonin under the one denomination of
“candidates,” and so were condemning me in advance on account of
Ikonin’s red hairs. I took my ticket boldly and made ready to answer,
but the professor’s eye passed over my head and alighted upon Ikonin.
Accordingly, I occupied myself in reading my ticket. The questions
printed on it were all familiar to me, so, as I silently awaited my
turn, I gazed at what was passing near me, Ikonin seemed in no way
diffident--rather the reverse, for, in reaching for his ticket, he threw
his body half-way across the table. Then he gave his long hair a shake,
and rapidly conned over what was written on his ticket. I think he
had just opened his mouth to answer when the professor with the star
dismissed the gymnasium student with a word of commendation, and then
turned and looked at Ikonin. At once the latter seemed taken back, and
stopped short. For about two minutes there was a dead silence.

“Well?” said the professor in the spectacles.

Once more Ikonin opened his mouth, and once more remained silent.

“Come! You are not the only one to be examined. Do you mean to answer
or do you not?” said the youngish professor, but Ikonin did not even
look at him. He was gazing fixedly at his ticket and uttered not a
single word. The professor in the spectacles scanned him through his
glasses, then over them, then without them (for, indeed, he had time
to take them off, to wipe their lenses carefully, and to replace them).
Still not a word from Ikonin. All at once, however, a smile spread
itself over his face, and he gave his long hair another shake. Next he
reached across the table, laid down his ticket, looked at each of the
professors in turn and then at myself, and finally, wheeling round on
his heels, made a gesture with his hand and returned to the desks. The
professors stared blankly at one another.

“Bless the fellow!” said the youngish professor. “What an original!”

It was now my turn to move towards the table, but the professors went on
talking in undertones among themselves, as though they were unaware of
my presence. At the moment, I felt firmly persuaded that the three of
them were engrossed solely with the question of whether I should merely
PASS the examination or whether I should pass it WELL, and that it was
only swagger which made them pretend that they did not care either way,
and behave as though they had not seen me.

When at length the professor in the spectacles turned to me with an air
of indifference, and invited me to answer, I felt hurt, as I looked at
him, to think that he should have so undeceived me: wherefore I answered
brokenly at first. In time, however, things came easier to my tongue,
and, inasmuch as all the questions bore upon Russian history (which I
knew thoroughly), I ended with eclat, and even went so far, in my desire
to convince the professors that I was not Ikonin and that they must not
in anyway confound me with him, as to offer to draw a second ticket. The
professor in the spectacles, however, merely nodded his head, said “That
will do,” and marked something in his register. On returning to the
desks, I at once learnt from the gymnasium men (who somehow seemed to
know everything) that I had been placed fifth.



XI. MY EXAMINATION IN MATHEMATICS

AT the subsequent examinations, I made several new acquaintances in
addition to the Graps (whom I considered unworthy of my notice) and
Iwin (who for some reason or other avoided me). With some of these new
friends I grew quite intimate, and even Ikonin plucked up sufficient
courage to inform me, when we next met, that he would have to undergo
re-examination in history--the reason for his failure this time being
that the professor of that faculty had never forgiven him for last
year’s examination, and had, indeed, “almost killed” him for it.
Semenoff (who was destined for the same faculty as myself--the
faculty of mathematics) avoided every one up to the very close of the
examinations. Always leaning forward upon his elbows and running his
fingers through his grey hair, he sat silent and alone. Nevertheless,
when called up for examination in mathematics (he had no companion
to accompany him), he came out second. The first place was taken by a
student from the first gymnasium--a tall, dark, lanky, pale-faced fellow
who wore a black folded cravat and had his cheeks and forehead dotted
all over with pimples. His hands were shapely and slender, but their
nails were so bitten to the quick that the finger-ends looked as though
they had been tied round with strips of thread. All this seemed to me
splendid, and wholly becoming to a student of the first gymnasium.
He spoke to every one, and we all made friends with him. To me in
particular his walk, his every movement, his lips, his dark eyes, all
seemed to have in them something extraordinary and magnetic.

On the day of the mathematical examination I arrived earlier than usual
at the hall. I knew the syllabus well, yet there were two questions
in the algebra which my tutor had managed to pass over, and which were
therefore quite unknown to me. If I remember rightly, they were the
Theory of Combinations and Newton’s Binomial. I seated myself on one of
the back benches and pored over the two questions, but, inasmuch as I
was not accustomed to working in a noisy room, and had even less time
for preparation than I had anticipated, I soon found it difficult to
take in all that I was reading.

“Here he is. This way, Nechludoff,” said Woloda’s familiar voice behind
me.

I turned and saw my brother and Dimitri--their gowns unbuttoned, and
their hands waving a greeting to me--threading their way through the
desks. A moment’s glance would have sufficed to show any one that they
were second-course students--persons to whom the University was as a
second home. The mere look of their open gowns expressed at once disdain
for the “mere candidate” and a knowledge that the “mere candidate’s”
 soul was filled with envy and admiration of them. I was charmed to think
that every one near me could now see that I knew two real second-course
students: wherefore I hastened to meet them half-way.

Woloda, of course, could not help vaunting his superiority a little.

“Hullo, you smug!” he said. “Haven’t you been examined yet?”

“No.”

“Well, what are you reading? Aren’t you sufficiently primed?”

“Yes, except in two questions. I don’t understand them at all.”

“Eh, what?”--and Woloda straightway began to expound to me Newton’s
Binomial, but so rapidly and unintelligibly that, suddenly reading in my
eyes certain misgivings as to the soundness of his knowledge, he glanced
also at Dimitri’s face. Clearly, he saw the same misgivings there, for
he blushed hotly, though still continuing his involved explanations.

“No; hold on, Woloda, and let me try and do it,” put in Dimitri at
length, with a glance at the professors’ corner as he seated himself
beside me.

I could see that my friend was in the best of humours. This was always
the case with him when he was satisfied with himself, and was one of the
things in him which I liked best. Inasmuch as he knew mathematics well
and could speak clearly, he hammered the question so thoroughly into my
head that I can remember it to this day. Hardly had he finished when St.
Jerome said to me in a loud whisper, “A vous, Nicolas,” and I followed
Ikonin out from among the desks without having had an opportunity of
going through the OTHER question of which I was ignorant. At the table
which we now approached were seated two professors, while before the
blackboard stood a gymnasium student, who was working some formula
aloud, and knocking bits off the end of the chalk with his too vigorous
strokes. He even continued writing after one of the Professors had said
to him “Enough!” and bidden us draw our tickets. “Suppose I get the
Theory of Combinations?” I thought to myself as my tremulous fingers
took a ticket from among a bundle wrapped in torn paper. Ikonin, for
his part, reached across the table with the same assurance, and the
same sidelong movement of his whole body, as he had done at the previous
examination. Taking the topmost ticket without troubling to make further
selection, he just glanced at it, and then frowned angrily.

“I always draw this kind of thing,” he muttered.

I looked at mine. Horrors! It was the Theory of Combinations!

“What have you got?” whispered Ikonin at this point.

I showed him.

“Oh, I know that,” he said.

“Will you make an exchange, then?”

“No. Besides, it would be all the same for me if I did,” he contrived to
whisper just as the professor called us up to the blackboard. “I don’t
feel up to anything to-day.”

“Then everything is lost!” I thought to myself. Instead of the brilliant
result which I had anticipated I should be for ever covered with
shame--more so even than Ikonin! Suddenly, under the very eyes of the
professor, Ikonin turned to me, snatched my ticket out of my hands, and
handed me his own. I looked at his ticket. It was Newton’s Binomial!

The professor was a youngish man, with a pleasant, clever expression of
face--an effect chiefly due to the prominence of the lower part of his
forehead.

“What? Are you exchanging tickets, gentlemen?” he said.

“No. He only gave me his to look at, professor,” answered Ikonin--and,
sure enough, the word “professor” was the last word that he uttered
there. Once again, he stepped backwards towards me from the table, once
again he looked at each of the professors in turn and then at myself,
once again he smiled faintly, and once again he shrugged his shoulders
as much as to say, “It is no use, my good sirs.” Then he returned to the
desks. Subsequently, I learnt that this was the third year he had vainly
attempted to matriculate.

I answered my question well, for I had just read it up; and the
professor, kindly informing me that I had done even better than was
required, placed me fifth.



XII. MY EXAMINATION IN LATIN

All went well until my examination in Latin. So far, a gymnasium student
stood first on the list, Semenoff second, and myself third. On the
strength of it I had begun to swagger a little, and to think that, for
all my youth, I was not to be despised.

From the first day of the examinations, I had heard every one speak with
awe of the Professor of Latin, who appeared to be some sort of a wild
beast who battened on the financial ruin of young men (of those, that is
to say, who paid their own fees) and spoke only in the Greek and
Latin tongues. However, St. Jerome, who had coached me in Latin, spoke
encouragingly, and I myself thought that, since I could translate Cicero
and certain parts of Horace without the aid of a lexicon, I should do
no worse than the rest. Yet things proved otherwise. All the morning the
air had been full of rumours concerning the tribulations of candidates
who had gone up before me: rumours of how one young fellow had been
accorded a nought, another one a single mark only, a third one greeted
with abuse and threatened with expulsion, and so forth. Only Semenoff
and the first gymnasium student had, as usual, gone up quietly, and
returned to their seats with five marks credited to their names. Already
I felt a prescience of disaster when Ikonin and myself found ourselves
summoned to the little table at which the terrible professor sat in
solitary grandeur.

The terrible professor turned out to be a little thin, bilious-looking
man with hair long and greasy and a face expressive of extraordinary
sullenness. Handing Ikonin a copy of Cicero’s Orations, he bid him
translate. To my great astonishment Ikonin not only read off some of
the Latin, but even managed to construe a few lines to the professor’s
prompting. At the same time, conscious of my superiority over such a
feeble companion, I could not help smiling a little, and even looking
rather contemptuous, when it came to a question of analysis, and Ikonin,
as on previous occasions, plunged into a silence which promised never
to end. I had hoped to please the professor by that knowing, slightly
sarcastic smile of mine, but, as a matter of fact, I contrived to do
quite the contrary.

“Evidently you know better than he, since you are laughing,” he said to
me in bad Russian. “Well, we shall see. Tell me the answer, then.”

Later I learnt that the professor was Ikonin’s guardian, and that Ikonin
actually lived with him. I lost no time in answering the question in
syntax which had been put to Ikonin, but the professor only pulled a
long face and turned away from me.

“Well, your turn will come presently, and then we shall see how much you
know,” he remarked, without looking at me, but proceeding to explain to
Ikonin the point on which he had questioned him.

“That will do,” he added, and I saw him put down four marks to Ikonin in
his register. “Come!” I thought to myself. “He cannot be so strict after
all.”

When Ikonin had taken his departure the professor spent fully five
minutes--five minutes which seemed to me five hours--in setting his
books and tickets in order, in blowing his nose, in adjusting and
sprawling about on his chair, in gazing down the hall, and in looking
here, there, and everywhere--in doing everything, in fact, except once
letting his eye rest upon me. Yet even that amount of dissimulation did
not seem to satisfy him, for he next opened a book, and pretended to
read it, for all the world as though I were not there at all. I moved a
little nearer him, and gave a cough.

“Ah, yes! You too, of course! Well, translate me something,” he
remarked, handing me a book of some kind. “But no; you had better take
this,” and, turning over the leaves of a Horace, he indicated to me a
passage which I should never have imagined possible of translation.

“I have not prepared this,” I said.

“Oh! Then you only wish to answer things which you have got by heart, do
you? Indeed? No, no; translate me that.”

I started to grope for the meaning of the passage, but each questioning
look which I threw at the professor was met by a shake of the head, a
profound sigh, and an exclamation of “No, no!” Finally he banged the
book to with such a snap that he caught his finger between the covers.
Angrily releasing it, he handed me a ticket containing questions in
grammar, and, flinging himself back in his chair, maintained a menacing
silence. I should have tried to answer the questions had not the
expression of his face so clogged my tongue that nothing seemed to come
from it right.

“No, no! That’s not it at all!” he suddenly exclaimed in his horrible
accent as he altered his posture to one of leaning forward upon the
table and playing with the gold signet-ring which was nearly slipping
from the little finger of his left hand. “That is not the way to prepare
for serious study, my good sir. Fellows like yourself think that, once
they have a gown and a blue collar to their backs, they have reached the
summit of all things and become students. No, no, my dear sir. A subject
needs to be studied FUNDAMENTALLY,” and so on, and so on.

During this speech (which was uttered with a clipped sort of intonation)
I went on staring dully at his lowered eyelids. Beginning with a fear
lest I should lose my place as third on the list, I went on to fear lest
I should pass at all. Next, these feelings became reinforced by a sense
of injustice, injured self-respect, and unmerited humiliation, while the
contempt which I felt for the professor as some one not quite (according
to my ideas) “comme il faut”--a fact which I deduced from the shortness,
strength, and roundness of his nails--flared up in me more and more and
turned all my other feelings to sheer animosity. Happening, presently,
to glance at me, and to note my quivering lips and tear-filled eyes, he
seemed to interpret my agitation as a desire to be accorded my marks and
dismissed: wherefore, with an air of relenting, he said (in the presence
of another professor who had just approached):

“Very well; I will accord you a ‘pass’” (which signified two marks),
“although you do not deserve it. I do so simply out of consideration for
your youth, and in the hope that, when you begin your University career,
you will learn to be less light-minded.”

The concluding phrase, uttered in the hearing of the other professor
(who at once turned his eyes upon me, as though remarking, “There! You
see, young man!”) completed my discomfiture. For a moment, a mist swam
before my eyes--a mist in which the terrible professor seemed to be far
away, as he sat at his table while for an instant a wild idea danced
through my brain. “What if I DID do such a thing?” I thought to myself.
“What would come of it?” However, I did not do the thing in question,
but, on the contrary, made a bow of peculiar reverence to each of the
professors, and with a slight smile on my face--presumably the same
smile as that with which I had derided Ikonin--turned away from the
table.

This piece of unfairness affected me so powerfully at the time that, had
I been a free agent, I should have attended for no more examinations.
My ambition was gone (since now I could not possibly be third), and I
therefore let the other examinations pass without any exertion, or even
agitation, on my part. In the general list I still stood fourth, but
that failed to interest me, since I had reasoned things out to myself,
and come to the conclusion that to try for first place was stupid--even
“bad form:” that, in fact, it was better to pass neither very well nor
very badly, as Woloda had done. This attitude I decided to maintain
throughout the whole of my University career, notwithstanding that it
was the first point on which my opinion had differed from that of my
friend Dimitri.

Yet, to tell the truth, my thoughts were already turning towards a
uniform, a “mortar-board,” and the possession of a drozhki of my own,
a room of my own, and, above all, freedom of my own. And certainly the
prospect had its charm.



XIII. I BECOME GROWN-UP

When, on May 8th, I returned home from the final, the divinity,
examination, I found my acquaintance, the foreman from Rozonoff’s,
awaiting me. He had called once before to fit me for my gown, as well
as for a tunic of glossy black cloth (the lapels of which were, on that
occasion, only sketched in chalk), but to-day he had come to bring me
the clothes in their finished state, with their gilt buttons wrapped in
tissue paper.

Donning the garments, and finding them splendid (notwithstanding that
St. Jerome assured me that the back of the tunic wrinkled badly), I went
downstairs with a complacent smile which I was powerless to banish from
my face, and sought Woloda, trying the while to affect unconsciousness
of the admiring looks of the servants, who came darting out of the hall
and corridor to gaze upon me with ravished eyes. Gabriel, the butler,
overtook me in the salle, and, after congratulating me with much
empressement, handed me, according to instructions from my father, four
bank-notes, as well as informed me that Papa had also given orders that,
from that day forth, the groom Kuzma, the phaeton, and the bay horse
Krassavchik were to be entirely at my disposal. I was so overjoyed at
this not altogether expected good-fortune that I could no longer feign
indifference in Gabriel’s presence, but, flustered and panting, said
the first thing which came into my head (“Krassavchik is a splendid
trotter,” I think it was). Then, catching sight of the various heads
protruding from the doors of the hall and corridor, I felt that I
could bear no more, and set off running at full speed across the salle,
dressed as I was in the new tunic, with its shining gilt buttons. Just
as I burst into Woloda’s room, I heard behind me the voices of Dubkoff
and Nechludoff, who had come to congratulate me, as well as to propose
a dinner somewhere and the drinking of much champagne in honour of my
matriculation. Dimitri informed me that, though he did not care for
champagne, he would nevertheless join us that evening and drink my
health, while Dubkoff remarked that I looked almost like a colonel, and
Woloda omitted to congratulate me at all, merely saying in an acid way
that he supposed we should now--i.e. in two days time--be off into the
country. The truth was that Woloda, though pleased at my matriculation,
did not altogether like my becoming as grown-up as himself. St. Jerome,
who also joined us at this moment, said in a very pompous manner that
his duties were now ended, and that, although he did not know whether
they had been well done or ill, at least he had done his best, and must
depart to-morrow to his Count’s. In replying to their various remarks
I could feel, in spite of myself, a pleased, agreeable, faintly
self-sufficient smile playing over my countenance, as well as could
remark that that smile, communicated itself to those to whom I was
speaking.

So here was I without a tutor, yet with my own private drozhki, my
name printed on the list of students, a sword and belt of my own, and a
chance of an occasional salute from officials! In short, I was grownup
and, I suppose, happy.

Finally, we arranged to go out and dine at five o’clock, but since
Woloda presently went off to Dubkoff’s, and Dimitri disappeared in
his usual fashion (saying that there was something he MUST do before
dinner), I was left with two whole hours still at my disposal. For a
time I walked through the rooms of the house, and looked at myself
in all the mirrors--firstly with the tunic buttoned, then with it
unbuttoned, and lastly with only the top button fastened. Each time it
looked splendid. Eventually, though anxious not to show any excess of
delight, I found myself unable to refrain from crossing over to the
coach-house and stables to gaze at Krassovchik, Kuzma, and the drozhki.
Then I returned and once more began my tour of the rooms, where I looked
at myself in all the mirrors as before, and counted my money over in my
pocket--my face smiling happily the while. Yet not an hour had elapsed
before I began to feel slightly ennuye--to feel a shade of regret that
no one was present to see me in my splendid position. I began to long
for life and movement, and so sent out orders for the drozhki to be got
ready, since I had made up my mind to drive to the Kuznetski Bridge and
make some purchases.

In this connection I recalled how, after matriculating, Woloda had gone
and bought himself a lithograph of horses by Victor Adam and some pipes
and tobacco: wherefore I felt that I too must do the same. Amid glances
showered upon me from every side, and with the sunlight reflected from
my buttons, cap-badge, and sword, I drove to the Kuznetski Bridge,
where, halting at a Picture shop, I entered it with my eyes looking to
every side. It was not precisely horses by Adam which I meant to buy,
since I did not wish to be accused of too closely imitating Woloda;
wherefore, out of shame for causing the obsequious shopmen such
agitation as I appeared to do, I made a hasty selection, and pitched
upon a water-colour of a woman’s head which I saw displayed in the
window--price twenty roubles. Yet no sooner had I paid the twenty
roubles over the counter than my heart smote me for having put two
such beautifully dressed shop-assistants to so much trouble for such
a trifle. Moreover, I fancied that they were regarding me with some
disdain. Accordingly, in my desire to show them what manner of man I
was, I turned my attention to a silver trifle which I saw displayed in
a show-case, and, recognising that it was a porte-crayon (price eighteen
roubles), requested that it should forthwith be wrapped in paper for me.
Next, the money paid, and the information acquired that splendid pipes
and tobacco were to be obtained in an adjacent emporium, I bowed to the
two shopmen politely, and issued into the street with the picture under
my arm. At the shop next door (which had painted on its sign-board a
negro smoking a cigar) I bought (likewise out of a desire to imitate no
one) some Turkish tobacco, a Stamboul hookah, and two pipes. On coming
out of the shop, I had just entered the drozhki when I caught sight of
Semenoff, who was walking hurriedly along the pavement with his head
bent down. Vexed that he should not have recognised me, I called out
to him pretty loudly, “Hold on a minute!” and, whipping up the drozhki,
soon overtook him.

“How do you do?” I said.

“My respects to you,” he replied, but without stopping.

“Why are you not in your University uniform?” I next inquired.

At this he stopped short with a frown, and parted his white teeth as
though the sun were hurting his eyes. The next moment, however, he
threw a glance of studied indifference at my drozhki and uniform, and
continued on his way.

From the Kuznetski Bridge, I drove to a confectioner’s in Tverskaia
Street, and, much as I should have liked it to be supposed that it was
the newspapers which most interested me, I had no choice but to begin
falling upon tartlet after tartlet. In fact, for all my bashfulness
before a gentleman who kept regarding me with some curiosity from behind
a newspaper, I ate with great swiftness a tartlet of each of the eight
different sorts which the confectioner kept.

On reaching home, I experienced a slight touch of stomach-ache, but paid
no attention to it, and set to work to inspect my purchases. Of these,
the picture so much displeased me that, instead of having it framed and
hung in my room, as Woloda had done with his, I took pains to hide it
behind a chest of drawers, where no one could see it. Likewise, though I
also found the porte-crayon distasteful, I was able, as I laid it on my
table, to comfort myself with the thought that it was at least a SILVER
article--so much capital, as it were--and likely to be very useful to
a student. As for the smoking things, I decided to put them into use at
once, and try their capabilities.

Unsealing the four packages, and carefully filling the Stamboul pipe
with some fine-cut, reddish-yellow Turkish tobacco, I applied a hot
cinder to it, and, taking the mouthpiece between my first and second
fingers (a position of the hand which greatly caught my fancy), started
to inhale the smoke.

The smell of the tobacco seemed delightful, yet something burnt my mouth
and caught me by the breath. Nevertheless, I hardened my heart, and
continued to draw abundant fumes into my interior. Then I tried blowing
rings and retaining the smoke. Soon the room became filled with blue
vapours, while the pipe started to crackle and the tobacco to fly out
in sparks. Presently, also, I began to feel a smarting in my mouth and
a giddiness in my head. Accordingly, I was on the point of stopping and
going to look at myself and my pipe in the mirror, when, to my surprise,
I found myself staggering about. The room was whirling round and
round, and as I peered into the mirror (which I reached only with some
difficulty) I perceived that my face was as white as a sheet. Hardly had
I thrown myself down upon a sofa when such nausea and faintness swept
over me that, making up my mind that the pipe had proved my death, I
expected every moment to expire. Terribly frightened, I tried to call
out for some one to come and help me, and to send for the doctor.

However, this panic of mine did not last long, for I soon understood
what the matter with me was, and remained lying on the sofa with a
racking headache and my limbs relaxed as I stared dully at the stamp on
the package of tobacco, the Pipe-tube coiled on the floor, and the odds
and ends of tobacco and confectioner’s tartlets which were littered
about. “Truly,” I thought to myself in my dejection and disillusionment,
“I cannot be quite grown-up if I cannot smoke as other fellows do, and
should be fated never to hold a chibouk between my first and second
fingers, or to inhale and puff smoke through a flaxen moustache!”

When Dimitri called for me at five o’clock, he found me in this
unpleasant predicament. After drinking a glass of water, however, I felt
nearly recovered, and ready to go with him.

“So much for your trying to smoke!” said he as he gazed at the remnants
of my debauch. “It is a silly thing to do, and waste of money as well. I
long ago promised myself never to smoke. But come along; we have to call
for Dubkoff.”



XIV. HOW WOLODA AND DUBKOFF AMUSED THEMSELVES

THE moment that Dimitri entered my room I perceived from his face,
manner of walking, and the signs which, in him, denoted ill-humour--a
blinking of the eyes and a grim holding of his head to one side, as
though to straighten his collar--that he was in the coldly-correct frame
of mind which was his when he felt dissatisfied with himself. It was
a frame of mind, too, which always produced a chilling effect upon my
feelings towards him. Of late I had begun to observe and appraise my
friend’s character a little more, but our friendship had in no way
suffered from that, since it was still too young and strong for me to
be able to look upon Dimitri as anything but perfect, no matter in what
light I regarded him. In him there were two personalities, both of
which I thought beautiful. One, which I loved devotedly, was kind, mild,
forgiving, gay, and conscious of being those various things. When he was
in this frame of mind his whole exterior, the very tone of his voice,
his every movement, appeared to say: “I am kind and good-natured, and
rejoice in being so, and every one can see that I so rejoice.” The other
of his two personalities--one which I had only just begun to apprehend,
and before the majesty of which I bowed in spirit--was that of a man who
was cold, stern to himself and to others, proud, religious to the point
of fanaticism, and pedantically moral. At the present moment he was, as
I say, this second personality.

With that frankness which constituted a necessary condition of our
relations I told him, as soon as we entered the drozhki, how much it
depressed and hurt me to see him, on this my fete-day in a frame of mind
so irksome and disagreeable to me.

“What has upset you so?” I asked him. “Will you not tell me?”

“My dear Nicolas,” was his slow reply as he gave his head a nervous
twitch to one side and blinked his eyes, “since I have given you my word
never to conceal anything from you, you have no reason to suspect me of
secretiveness. One cannot always be in exactly the same mood, and if I
seem at all put out, that is all there is to say about it.”

“What a marvellously open, honourable character his is!” I thought to
myself, and dropped the subject.

We drove the rest of the way to Dubkoff’s in silence. Dubkoff’s flat was
an unusually fine one--or, at all events, so it seemed to me. Everywhere
were rugs, pictures, gardenias, striped hangings, photographs, and
curved settees, while on the walls hung guns, pistols, pouches, and the
mounted heads of wild beasts. It was the appearance of this apartment
which made me aware whom, it was that Woloda had imitated in the scheme
of his own sitting-room. We found Dubkoff and Woloda engaged in cards,
while seated also at the table, and watching the game with close
attention, was a gentleman whom I did not know, but who appeared to be
of no great importance, judging by the modesty of his attitude.
Dubkoff himself was in a silk dressing-gown and soft slippers, while
Woloda--seated opposite him on a divan--was in his shirtsleeves, as well
as (to judge by his flushed face and the impatient, cursory glance which
he gave us for a second as he looked up from the cards) much taken up
with the game. On seeing me, he reddened still more.

“Well, it is for you to deal,” he remarked to Dubkoff. In an instant I
divined that he did not altogether relish my becoming acquainted with
the fact that he gambled. Yet his expression had nothing in it of
confusion--only a look which seemed to me to say: “Yes, I play cards,
and if you are surprised at that, it is only because you are so young.
There is nothing wrong about it--it is a necessity at our age.” Yes, I
at once divined and understood that.

Instead of dealing, however, Dubkoff rose and shook hands with us; after
which he bade us both be seated, and then offered us pipes, which we
declined.

“Here is our DIPLOMAT, then--the hero of the day!” he said to me, “Good
Lord! how you look like a colonel!”

“H-m!” I muttered in reply, though once more feeling a complacent smile
overspread my countenance.

I stood in that awe of Dubkoff which a sixteen-year-old boy naturally
feels for a twenty-seven-year-old man of whom his elders say that he is
a very clever young man who can dance well and speak French, and who,
though secretly despising one’s youth, endeavours to conceal the fact.
Yet, despite my respect for him, I somehow found it difficult and
uncomfortable, throughout my acquaintanceship with him, to look him in
the eyes, I have since remarked that there are three kinds of men whom I
cannot face easily, namely those who are much better than myself, those
who are much worse, and those between whom and myself there is a mutual
determination not to mention some particular thing of which we are both
aware. Dubkoff may have been a much better fellow than myself, or he may
have been a much worse; but the point was that he lied very frequently
without recognising the fact that I was aware of his doing so, yet had
determined not to mention it.

“Let us play another round,” said Woloda, hunching one shoulder after
the manner of Papa, and reshuffling the cards.

“How persistent you are!” said Dubkoff. “We can play all we want to
afterwards. Well, one more round, then.”

During the play, I looked at their hands. Woloda’s hands were large and
red, whilst in the crook of the thumb and the way in which the other
fingers curved themselves round the cards as he held them they so
exactly resembled Papa’s that now and then I could not help thinking
that Woloda purposely held the cards thus so as to look the more like a
grownup. Yet the next moment, looking at his face, I could see that he
had not a thought in his mind beyond the game. Dubkoff’s hands, on the
contrary, were small, puffy, and inclined to clench themselves, as well
as extremely neat and small-fingered. They were just the kind of hands
which generally display rings, and which are most to be seen on persons
who are both inclined to use them and fond of objets de vertu.

Woloda must have lost, for the gentleman who was watching the play
remarked that Vladimir Petrovitch had terribly bad luck, while Dubkoff
reached for a note book, wrote something in it, and then, showing Woloda
what he had written, said:

“Is that right?”

“Yes.” said Woloda, glancing with feigned carelessness at the note book.
“Now let us go.”

Woloda took Dubkoff, and I gave Dimitri a lift in my drozhki.

“What were they playing at?” I inquired of Dimitri.

“At piquet. It is a stupid game. In fact, all such games are stupid.”

“And were they playing for much?”

“No, not very much, but more than they ought to.”

“Do you ever play yourself?”

“No; I swore never to do so; but Dubkoff will play with any one he can
get hold of.”

“He ought not to do that,” I remarked. “So Woloda does not play so well
as he does?”

“Perhaps Dubkoff ought not to, as you say, yet there is nothing
especially bad about it all. He likes playing, and plays well, but he is
a good fellow all the same.”

“I had no idea of this,” I said.

“We must not think ill of him,” concluded Dimitri, “since he is a simply
splendid fellow. I like him very much, and always shall like him, in
spite of his weakness.”

For some reason or another the idea occurred to me that, just BECAUSE
Dimitri stuck up so stoutly for Dubkoff, he neither liked nor respected
him in reality, but was determined, out of stubbornness and a desire not
to be accused of inconstancy, never to own to the fact. He was one of
those people who love their friends their life long, not so much
because those friends remain always dear to them, as because, having
once--possibly mistakenly--liked a person, they look upon it as
dishonourable to cease ever to do so.



XV. I AM FETED AT DINNER

Dubkoff and Woloda knew every one at the restaurant by name, and every
one, from the waiters to the proprietor, paid them great respect. No
time was lost in allotting us a private room, where a bottle of iced
champagne-upon which I tried to look with as much indifference as I
could--stood ready waiting for us, and where we were served with a most
wonderful repast selected by Dubkoff from the French menu. The meal went
off most gaily and agreeably, notwithstanding that Dubkoff, as usual,
told us blood-curdling tales of doubtful veracity (among others, a tale
of how his grandmother once shot dead three robbers who were attacking
her--a recital at which I blushed, closed my eyes, and turned away from
the narrator), and that Woloda reddened visibly whenever I opened my
mouth to speak--which was the more uncalled for on his part, seeing that
never once, so far as I can remember, did I say anything shameful. After
we had been given champagne, every one congratulated me, and I drank
“hands across” with Dimitri and Dubkoff, and wished them joy. Since,
however, I did not know to whom the bottle of champagne belonged (it was
explained to me later that it was common property), I considered that,
in return, I ought to treat my friends out of the money which I had
never ceased to finger in my pocket. Accordingly, I stealthily extracted
a ten-rouble note, and, beckoning the waiter to my side, handed him the
money, and told him in a whisper (yet not so softly but that every one
could hear me, seeing that every one was staring at me in dead silence)
to “bring, if you please, a half-bottle of champagne.” At this Woloda
reddened again, and began to fidget so violently, and to gaze upon
myself and every one else with such a distracted air, that I felt sure
I had somehow put my foot in it. However, the half-bottle came, and we
drank it with great gusto. After that, things went on merrily. Dubkoff
continued his unending fairy tales, while Woloda also told funny
stories--and told them well, too--in a way I should never have credited
him: so that our laughter rang long and loud. Their best efforts lay in
imitation, and in variants of a certain well-known saw. “Have you ever
been abroad?” one would say to the other, for instance. “No,” the
one interrogated would reply, “but my brother plays the fiddle.” Such
perfection had the pair attained in this species of comic absurdity
that they could answer any question by its means, while they would also
endeavour to unite two absolutely unconnected matters without a previous
question having been asked at all, yet say everything with a perfectly
serious face and produce a most comic effect. I too began to try to be
funny, but as soon as ever I spoke they either looked at me askance or
did not look at me until I had finished: so that my anecdotes fell flat.
Yet, though Dubkoff always remarked, “Our DIPLOMAT is lying, brother,” I
felt so exhilarated with the champagne and the company of my elders that
the remark scarcely touched me. Only Dimitri, though he drank level with
the rest of us, continued in the same severe, serious frame of mind--a
fact which put a certain check upon the general hilarity.

“Now, look here, gentlemen,” said Dubkoff at last. “After dinner we
ought to take the DIPLOMAT in hand. How would it be for him to go with
us to see Auntie? There we could put him through his paces.”

“Ah, but Nechludoff will not go there,” objected Woloda.

“O unbearable, insupportable man of quiet habits that you are!” cried
Dubkoff, turning to Dimitri. “Yet come with us, and you shall see what
an excellent lady my dear Auntie is.”

“I will neither go myself nor let him go,” replied Dimitri.

“Let whom go? The DIPLOMAT? Why, you yourself saw how he brightened up
at the very mention of Auntie.”

“It is not so much that I WILL NOT LET HIM go,” continued Dimitri,
rising and beginning to pace the room without looking at me, “as that I
neither wish him nor advise him to go. He is not a child now, and if he
must go he can go alone--without you. Surely you are ashamed of this,
Dubkoff?--ashamed of always wanting others to do all the wrong things
that you yourself do?”

“But what is there so very wrong in my inviting you all to come and take
a cup of tea with my Aunt?” said Dubkoff, with a wink at Woloda. “If you
don’t like us going, it is your affair; yet we are going all the same.
Are you coming, Woloda?”

“Yes, yes,” assented Woloda. “We can go there, and then return to my
rooms and continue our piquet.”

“Do you want to go with them or not?” said Dimitri, approaching me.

“No,” I replied, at the same time making room for him to sit down beside
me on the divan. “I did not wish to go in any case, and since you advise
me not to, nothing on earth will make me go now. Yet,” I added a moment
later, “I cannot honestly say that I have NO desire to go. All I say is
that I am glad I am not going.”

“That is right,” he said. “Live your own life, and do not dance to any
one’s piping. That is the better way.”

This little tiff not only failed to mar our hilarity, but even increased
it. Dimitri suddenly reverted to the kindly mood which I loved best--so
great (as I afterwards remarked on more than one occasion) was the
influence which the consciousness of having done a good deed exercised
upon him. At the present moment the source of his satisfaction was
the fact that he had stopped my expedition to “Auntie’s.” He grew
extraordinarily gay, called for another bottle of champagne (which was
against his rules), invited some one who was a perfect stranger into our
room, plied him with wine, sang “Gaudeamus igitur,” requested every one
to join him in the chorus, and proposed that we should and rink at the
Sokolniki. [Mews.]

“Let us enjoy ourselves to-night,” he said with a laugh. “It is in
honour of his matriculation that you now see me getting drunk for the
first time in my life.”

Yet somehow this merriment sat ill upon him. He was like some
good-natured father or tutor who is pleased with his young charges, and
lets himself go for their amusement, yet at the same time tries to show
them that one can enjoy oneself decently and in an honourable manner.
However, his unexpected gaiety had an infectious influence upon myself
and my companions, and the more so because each of us had now drunk
about half a bottle of champagne.

It was in this pleasing frame of mind that I went out into the main
salon to smoke a cigarette which Dubkoff had given me. In rising I
noticed that my head seemed to swim a little, and that my legs and
arms retained their natural positions only when I bent my thoughts
determinedly upon them. At other moments my legs would deviate from the
straight line, and my arms describe strange gestures. I concentrated my
whole attention upon the members in question, forced my hands first to
raise themselves and button my tunic, and then to smooth my hair (though
they ruffled my locks in doing so), and lastly commanded my legs to
march me to the door--a function which they duly performed, though at
one time with too much reluctance, and at another with too much ABANDON
(the left leg, in particular, coming to a halt every moment on tiptoe).
Some one called out to me, “Where are you going to? They will bring you
a cigar-light directly,” but I guessed the voice to be Woloda’s, and,
feeling satisfied, somehow, that I had succeeded in divining the fact,
merely smiled airily in reply, and continued on my way.



XVI. THE QUARREL

In the main salon I perceived sitting at a small table a short, squat
gentleman of the professional type. He had a red moustache, and was
engaged in eating something or another, while by his side sat a tall,
clean-shaven individual with whom he was carrying on a conversation in
French. Somehow the aspect of these two persons displeased me; yet I
decided, for all that, to light my cigarette at the candelabrum which
was standing before them. Looking from side to side, to avoid meeting
their gaze, I approached the table, and applied my cigarette to the
flame. When it was fairly alight, I involuntarily threw a glance at the
gentleman who was eating, and found his grey eyes fixed upon me with an
expression of intense displeasure. Just as I was turning away his red
moustache moved a little, and he said in French:

“I do not like people to smoke when I am dining, my good sir.”

I murmured something inaudible.

“No, I do not like it at all,” he went on sternly, and with a glance at
his clean-shaven companion, as though inviting him to admire the way in
which he was about to deal with me. “I do not like it, my good sir, nor
do I like people who have the impudence to puff their smoke up one’s
very nose.”

By this time I had gathered that it was myself he was scolding, and at
first felt as though I had been altogether in the wrong.

“I did not mean to inconvenience you,” I said.

“Well, if you did not suppose you were being impertinent, at least I
did! You are a cad, young sir!” he shouted in reply.

“But what right have you to shout at me like that?” I exclaimed, feeling
that it was now HE that was insulting ME, and growing angry accordingly.

“This much right,” he replied, “that I never allow myself to be
overlooked by any one, and that I always teach young fellows like
yourself their manners. What is your name, young sir, and where do you
live?”

At this I felt so hurt that my teeth chattered, and I felt as though I
were choking. Yet all the while I was conscious of being in the wrong,
and so, instead of offering any further rudeness to the offended one,
humbly told him my name and address.

“And MY name, young sir,” he returned, “is Kolpikoff, and I will trouble
you to be more polite to me in future.--However, You will hear from me
again” (“vous aurez de mes nouvelles”--the conversation had been carried
on wholly in French), was his concluding remark.

To this I replied, “I shall be delighted,” with an infusion of as much
hauteur as I could muster into my tone. Then, turning on my heel, I
returned with my cigarette--which had meanwhile gone out--to our own
room.

I said nothing, either to my brother or my friends, about what had
happened (and the more so because they were at that moment engaged in
a dispute of their own), but sat down in a corner to think over the
strange affair. The words, “You are a cad, young sir,” vexed me more and
more the longer that they sounded in my ears. My tipsiness was gone now,
and, in considering my conduct during the dispute, the uncomfortable
thought came over me that I had behaved like a coward.

“Yet what right had he to attack me?” I reflected. “Why did he not
simply intimate to me that I was annoying him? After all, it may have
been he that was in the wrong. Why, too, when he called me a young cad,
did I not say to him, ‘A cad, my good sir, is one who takes offence’? Or
why did I not simply tell him to hold his tongue? That would have been
the better course. Or why did I not challenge him to a duel? No, I did
none of those things, but swallowed his insults like a wretched coward.”

Still the words, “You are a cad, young sir,” kept sounding in my ears
with maddening iteration. “I cannot leave things as they are,” I
at length decided as I rose to my feet with the fixed intention
of returning to the gentleman and saying something outrageous to
him--perhaps, also, of breaking the candelabrum over his head if
occasion offered. Yet, though I considered the advisability of this
last measure with some pleasure, it was not without a good deal of
trepidation that I re-entered the main salon. As luck would have it, M.
Kolpikoff was no longer there, but only a waiter engaged in clearing the
table. For a moment I felt like telling the waiter the whole story, and
explaining to him my innocence in the matter, but for some reason or
another I thought better of it, and once more returned, in the same hazy
condition of mind, to our own room.

“What has become of our DIPLOMAT?” Dubkoff was just saying. “Upon him
now hang the fortunes of Europe.”

“Oh, leave me alone,” I said, turning moodily away. Then, as I paced the
room, something made me begin to think that Dubkoff was not altogether a
good fellow. “There is nothing very much to admire in his eternal jokes
and his nickname of ‘DIPLOMAT,’” I reflected. “All he thinks about is to
win money from Woloda and to go and see his ‘Auntie.’ There is nothing
very nice in all that. Besides, everything he says has a touch of
blackguardism in it, and he is forever trying to make people laugh. In
my opinion he is simply stupid when he is not absolutely a brute.”
 I spent about five minutes in these reflections, and felt my enmity
towards Dubkoff continually increasing. For his part, he took no notice
of me, and that angered me the more. I actually felt vexed with Woloda
and Dimitri because they went on talking to him.

“I tell you what, gentlemen: the DIPLOMAT ought to be christened,” said
Dubkoff suddenly, with a glance and a smile which seemed to me derisive,
and even treacherous. “Yet, O Lord, what a poor specimen he is!”

“You yourself ought to be christened, and you yourself are a sorry
specimen!” I retorted with an evil smile, and actually forgetting to
address him as “thou.” [In Russian as in French, the second person
singular is the form of speech used between intimate friends.]

This reply evidently surprised Dubkoff, but he turned away
good-humouredly, and went on talking to Woloda and Dimitri. I tried to
edge myself into the conversation, but, since I felt that I could not
keep it up, I soon returned to my corner, and remained there until we
left.

When the bill had been paid and wraps were being put on, Dubkoff turned
to Dimitri and said: “Whither are Orestes and Pedalion going now? Home,
I suppose, to talk about love. Well, let US go and see my dear Auntie.
That will be far more entertaining than your sour company.”

“How dare you speak like that, and laugh at us?” I burst out as I
approached him with clenched fists. “How dare you laugh at feelings
which you do not understand? I will not have you do it! Hold your
tongue!” At this point I had to hold my own, for I did not know what
to say next, and was, moreover, out of breath with excitement. At first
Dubkoff was taken aback, but presently he tried to laugh it off, and to
take it as a joke. Finally I was surprised to see him look crestfallen,
and lower his eyes.

“I NEVER laugh at you or your feelings. It is merely my way of
speaking,” he said evasively.

“Indeed?” I cried; yet the next moment I felt ashamed of myself and
sorry for him, since his flushed, downcast face had in it no other
expression than one of genuine pain.

“What is the matter with you?” said Woloda and Dimitri simultaneously.
“No one was trying to insult you.”

“Yes, he DID try to insult me!” I replied.

“What an extraordinary fellow your brother is!” said Dubkoff to Woloda.
At that moment he was passing out of the door, and could not have heard
what I said. Possibly I should have flung myself after him and offered
him further insult, had it not been that just at that moment the waiter
who had witnessed my encounter with Kolpikoff handed me my greatcoat,
and I at once quietened down--merely making such a pretence of having
had a difference with Dimitri as was necessary to make my sudden
appeasement appear nothing extraordinary. Next day, when I met Dubkoff
at Woloda’s, the quarrel was not raked up, yet he and I still addressed
each other as “you,” and found it harder than ever to look one another
in the face.

The remembrance of my scene with Kolpikoff--who, by the way, never
sent me “de ses nouvelles,” either the following day or any day
afterwards--remained for years a keen and unpleasant memory. Even so
much as five years after it had happened I would begin fidgeting and
muttering to myself whenever I remembered the unavenged insult, and was
fain to comfort myself with the satisfaction of recollecting the sort
of young fellow I had shown myself to be in my subsequent affair with
Dubkoff. In fact, it was only later still that I began to regard the
matter in another light, and both to recall with comic appreciation my
passage of arms with Kolpikoff, and to regret the undeserved affront
which I had offered my good friend Dubkoff.

When, at a later hour on the evening of the dinner, I told Dimitri of
my affair with Kolpikoff, whose exterior I described in detail, he was
astounded.

“That is the very man!” he cried. “Don’t you know that this precious
Kolpikoff is a known scamp and sharper, as well as, above all things,
a coward, and that he was expelled from his regiment by his brother
officers because, having had his face slapped, he would not fight? But
how came you to let him get away?” he added, with a kindly smile and
glance. “Surely he could not have said more to you than he did when he
called you a cad?”

“No,” I admitted with a blush.

“Well, it was not right, but there is no great harm done,” said Dimitri
consolingly.

Long afterwards, when thinking the matter over at leisure, I suddenly
came to the conclusion that it was quite possible that Kolpikoff took
the opportunity of vicariously wiping off upon me the slap in the face
which he had once received, just as I myself took the opportunity of
vicariously wiping off upon the innocent Dubkoff the epithet “cad” which
Kolpikoff had just applied to me.



XVII. I GET READY TO PAY SOME CALLS

On awaking next morning my first thoughts were of the affair with
Kolpikoff. Once again I muttered to myself and stamped about the room,
but there was no help for it. To-day was the last day that I was to
spend in Moscow, and it was to be spent, by Papa’s orders, in my
paying a round of calls which he had written out for me on a piece of
paper--his first solicitude on our account being not so much for our
morals or our education as for our due observance of the convenances. On
the piece of paper was written in his swift, broken hand-writing: “(1)
Prince Ivan Ivanovitch WITHOUT FAIL; (2) the Iwins WITHOUT FAIL; (3)
Prince Michael; (4) the Princess Nechludoff and Madame Valakhina if you
wish.” Of course I was also to call upon my guardian, upon the rector,
and upon the professors.

These last-mentioned calls, however, Dimitri advised me not to pay:
saying that it was not only unnecessary to do so, but not the thing.
However, there were the other visits to be got through. It was the first
two on the list--those marked as to be paid “WITHOUT FAIL”--that most
alarmed me. Prince Ivan Ivanovitch was a commander-in-chief, as well
as old, wealthy, and a bachelor. Consequently, I foresaw that vis-a-vis
conversation between him and myself--myself a sixteen-year-old
student!--was not likely to be interesting. As for the Iwins, they too
were rich--the father being a departmental official of high rank who had
only on one occasion called at our house during my grandmother’s time.
Since her death, I had remarked that the younger Iwin had fought shy of
us, and seemed to give himself airs. The elder of the pair, I had heard,
had now finished his course in jurisprudence, and gone to hold a post
in St. Petersburg, while his brother Sergius (the former object of my
worship) was also in St. Petersburg, as a great fat cadet in the Corps
of Pages.

When I was a young man, not only did I dislike intercourse with people
who thought themselves above me, but such intercourse was, for me, an
unbearable torture, owing partly to my constant dread of being snubbed,
and partly to my straining every faculty of my intellect to prove to
such people my independence. Yet, even if I failed to fulfil the latter
part of my father’s instructions, I felt that I must carry out
the former. I paced my room and eyed my clothes ready disposed on
chairs--the tunic, the sword, and the cap. Just as I was about to set
forth, old Grap called to congratulate me, bringing with him Ilinka.
Grap pere was a Russianised German and an intolerably effusive,
sycophantic old man who was more often than not tipsy. As a rule, he
visited us only when he wanted to ask for something, and although Papa
sometimes entertained him in his study, old Grap never came to dinner
with us. With his subserviency and begging propensities went such a
faculty of good-humour and a power of making himself at home that every
one looked upon his attachment to us as a great honour. For my part,
however, I never liked him, and felt ashamed when he was speaking.

I was much put out by the arrival of these visitors, and made no effort
to conceal the fact. Upon Ilinka I had been so used to look down, and he
so used to recognise my right to do so, that it displeased me to think
that he was now as much a matriculated student as myself. In some way
he appeared to me to have made a POINT of attaining that equality. I
greeted the pair coldly, and, without offering them any refreshment
(since it went against the grain to do so, and I thought they could ask
for anything, if they wanted it, without my first inviting them to state
their requirements), gave orders for the drozhki to be got ready. Ilinka
was a good-natured, extremely moral, and far from stupid young fellow;
yet, for all that, what people call a person of moods. That is to say,
for no apparent reason he was for ever in some PRONOUNCED frame of
mind--now lachrymose, now frivolous, now touchy on the very smallest
point. At the present moment he appeared to be in the last-named mood.
He kept looking from his father to myself without speaking, except
when directly addressed, at which times he smiled the self-deprecatory,
forced smile under which he was accustomed to conceal his feelings, and
more especially that feeling of shame for his father which he must have
experienced in our house.

“So, Nicolas Petrovitch,” the old man said to me, following me
everywhere about the room as I went through the operation of dressing,
while all the while his fat fingers kept turning over and over a silver
snuff-box with which my grandmother had once presented me, “as soon as
ever I heard from my son that you had passed your examinations so well
(though of course your abilities are well-known to everyone), I at once
came to congratulate you, my dear boy. Why, I have carried you on my
shoulders before now, and God knows that I love you as though you were
my own son. My Ilinka too has always been fond of you, and feels quite
at home with you.”

Meanwhile the said Ilinka remained sitting silently by the window,
apparently absorbed in contemplation of my three-cornered cap, and every
now and then angrily muttering something in an undertone.

“Now, I also wanted to ask you, Nicolas Petrovitch.” His father went
on, “whether my son did well in the examinations? He tells me that he is
going to be in the same faculty as yourself, and that therefore you will
be able to keep an eye on him, and advise him, and so on.”

“Oh, yes, I suppose he passed well,” I replied, with a glance at Ilinka,
who, conscious of my gaze, reddened violently and ceased to move his
lips about. “And might he spend the day with you?” was the father’s next
request, which he made with a deprecatory smile, as though he stood in
actual awe of me, yet always keeping so close to me, wherever I moved,
that the fumes of the drink and tobacco in which he had been indulging
were constantly perceptible to my nostrils. I felt greatly vexed at his
placing me in such a false position towards his son, as well as at
his distracting my attention from what was, to me, a highly important
operation--namely, the operation of dressing; while, over and above all,
I was annoyed by the smell of liquor with which he followed me about.
Accordingly, I said very coldly that I could not have the pleasure of
Ilinka’s company that day, since I should be out.

“Ah! I suppose you are going to see your sister?” put in Ilinka with a
smile, but without looking at me. “Well, I too have business to
attend to.” At this I felt even more put out, as well as pricked with
compunction; so, to soften my refusal a little, I hastened to say that
the reason why I should not be at home that day was that I had to
call upon the PRINCE Ivan Ivanovitch, the PRINCESS Kornakoff, and the
Monsieur Iwin who held such an influential post, as well as, probably,
to dine with the PRINCESS Nechludoff (for I thought that, on learning
what important folk I was in the habit of mixing with, the Graps would
no longer think it worth while to pretend to me). However, just as they
were leaving, I invited Ilinka to come and see me another day; but he
only murmured something unintelligible, and it was plain that he meant
never to set foot in the house again.

When they had departed, I set off on my round of calls. Woloda, whom I
had asked that morning to come with me, in order that I might not feel
quite so shy as when altogether alone, had declined on the ground that
for two brothers to be seen driving in one drozhki would appear so
horribly “proper.”



XVIII. THE VALAKHIN FAMILY

Accordingly I set off alone. My first call on the route lay at the
Valakhin mansion. It was now three years since I had seen Sonetchka,
and my love for her had long become a thing of the past, yet there
still lingered in my heart a sort of clear, touching recollection of our
bygone childish affection. At intervals, also, during those three years,
I had found myself recalling her memory with such force and vividness
that I had actually shed tears, and imagined myself to be in love with
her again, but those occasions had not lasted more than a few minutes at
a time, and had been long in recurring.

I knew that Sonetchka and her mother had been abroad--that, in fact,
they had been so for the last two years. Also, I had heard that they had
been in a carriage accident, and that Sonetchka’s face had been so badly
cut with the broken glass that her beauty was marred. As I drove
to their house, I kept recalling the old Sonetchka to my mind, and
wondering what she would look like when I met her. Somehow I imagined
that, after her two years’ sojourn abroad, she would look very tall,
with a beautiful waist, and, though sedate and imposing, extremely
attractive. Somehow, also, my imagination refused to picture her with
her face disfigured with scars, but, on the contrary, since I had read
somewhere of a lover who remained true to his adored one in spite of her
disfigurement with smallpox, strove to imagine that I was in love with
Sonetchka, for the purpose of priding myself on holding to my troth in
spite of her scars--Yet, as a matter of fact, I was not really in love
with her during that drive, but having once stirred up in myself old
MEMORIES of love, felt PREPARED to fall into that condition, and the
more so because, of late, my conscience had often been pricking me for
having discarded so many of my old flames.

The Valakhins lived in a neat little wooden mansion approached by a
courtyard. I gained admittance by ringing a bell (then a rarity in
Moscow), and was received by a mincing, smartly-attired page. He either
could not or made no attempt to inform me whether there was any one
at home, but, leaving me alone in the dark hall, ran off down a still
darker corridor. For a long time I waited in solitude in this gloomy
place, out of which, in addition to the front door and the corridor,
there only opened a door which at the moment was closed. Rather
surprised at the dismal appearance of the house, I came to the
conclusion that the reason was that its inmates were still abroad. After
five minutes, however, the door leading into the salon was opened by the
page boy, who then conducted me into a neat, but not richly furnished,
drawing-room, where presently I was joined by Sonetchka.

She was now seventeen years old, and very small and thin, as well as of
an unhealthy pallor of face. No scars at all were visible, however, and
the beautiful, prominent eyes and bright, cheerful smile were the same
as I had known and loved in my childhood. I had not expected her to look
at all like this, and therefore could not at once lavish upon her the
sentiment which I had been preparing on the way. She gave me her hand in
the English fashion (which was then as much a novelty as a door-bell),
and, bestowing upon mine a frank squeeze, sat down on the sofa by my
side.

“Ah! how glad I am to see you, my dear Nicolas!” she said as she looked
me in the face with an expression of pleasure so sincere that in the
words “my dear Nicolas” I caught the purely friendly rather than the
patronising note. To my surprise she seemed to me simpler, kinder, and
more sisterly after her foreign tour than she had been before it.
True, I could now see that she had two small scars between her nose
and temples, but her wonderful eyes and smile fitted in exactly with my
recollections, and shone as of old.

“But how greatly you have changed!” she went on. “You are quite grown-up
now. And I-I-well, what do you think of me?”

“I should never have known you,” I replied, despite the fact that at the
moment I was thinking that I should have known her anywhere and always.

“Why? Am I grown so ugly?” she inquired with a movement of her head.

“Oh, no, decidedly not!” I hastened to reply. “But you have grown taller
and older. As for being uglier, why, you are even--

“Yes, yes; never mind. Do you remember our dances and games, and St.
Jerome, and Madame Dorat?” (As a matter of fact, I could not recollect
any Madame Dorat, but saw that Sonetchka was being led away by the joy
of her childish recollections, and mixing them up a little). “Ah! what
a lovely time it was!” she went on--and once more there shone before me
the same eyes and smile as I had always carried in my memory. While she
had been speaking, I had been thinking over my position at the present
moment, and had come to the conclusion that I was in love with her. The
instant, however, that I arrived at that result my careless, happy mood
vanished, a mist seemed to arise before me which concealed even her eyes
and smile, and, blushing hotly, I became tongue-tied and ill-at-ease.

“But times are different now,” she went on with a sigh and a little
lifting of her eyebrows. “Everything seems worse than it used to be, and
ourselves too. Is it not so, Nicolas?”

I could return her no answer, but sat silently looking at her.

“Where are those Iwins and Kornakoffs now? Do you remember them?”
 she continued, looking, I think, with some curiosity at my blushing,
downcast countenance. “What splendid times we used to have!”

Still I could not answer her.

The next moment, I was relieved from this awkward position by the entry
of old Madame Valakhin into the room. Rising, I bowed, and straightway
recovered my faculty of speech. On the other hand, an extraordinary
change now took place in Sonetchka. All her gaiety and bonhomie
disappeared, her smile became quite a different one, and, except for the
point of her shortness of stature, she became just the lady from abroad
whom I had expected to find in her. Yet for this change there was no
apparent reason, since her mother smiled every whit as pleasantly, and
expressed in her every movement just the same benignity, as of old.
Seating herself in her arm-chair, the old lady signed to me to come
and sit beside her; after which she said something to her daughter in
English, and Sonetchka left the room--a fact which still further helped
to relieve me. Madame then inquired after my father and brother, and
passed on to speak of her great bereavement--the loss of her husband.
Presently, however, she seemed to become sensible of the fact that I was
not helping much in the conversation, for she gave me a look as much as
to say: “If, now, my dear boy, you were to get up, to take your leave,
and to depart, it would be well.” But a curious circumstance had
overtaken me. While she had been speaking of her bereavement, I had
recalled to myself, not only the fact that I was in love, but the
probability that the mother knew of it: whereupon such a fit of
bashfulness had come upon me that I felt powerless to put any member of
my body to its legitimate use. I knew that if I were to rise and walk I
should have to think where to plant each foot, what to do with my head,
what with my hands, and so on. In a word, I foresaw that I should
be very much as I had been on the night when I partook too freely of
champagne, and therefore, since I felt uncertain of being able to manage
myself if I DID rise, I ended by feeling UNABLE to rise. Meanwhile, I
should say, Sonetchka had returned to the room with her work, and
seated herself in a far corner--a corner whence, as I was nevertheless
sensible, she could observe me. Madame must have felt some surprise as
she gazed at my crimson face and noted my complete immobility, but I
decided that it was better to continue sitting in that absurd position
than to risk something unpleasant by getting up and walking. Thus I sat
on and on, in the hope that some unforeseen chance would deliver me from
my predicament. That unforeseen chance at length presented itself in the
person of an unforeseen young man, who entered the room with an air
of being one of the household, and bowed to me politely as he did so:
whereupon Madame rose, excused herself to me for having to speak with
her “homme d’affaires,” and finally gave me a glance which said: “Well,
if you DO mean to go on sitting there for ever, at least I can’t drive
you away.” Accordingly, with a great effort I also rose, but, finding it
impossible to do any leave-taking, moved away towards the door, followed
by the pitying glances of mother and daughter. All at once I stumbled
over a chair, although it was lying quite out of my route: the reason
for my stumbling being that my whole attention was centred upon not
tripping over the carpet. Driving through the fresh air, however--where
at first I muttered and fidgeted about so much that Kuzma, my coachman,
asked me what was the matter--I soon found this feeling pass away,
and began to meditate quietly concerning my love for Sonetchka and her
relations with her mother, which had appeared to me rather strange.
When, afterwards, I told my father that mother and daughter had not
seemed on the best of terms with one another, he said:

“Yes, Madame leads the poor girl an awful life with her meanness. Yet,”
 added my father with a greater display of feeling than a man might
naturally conceive for a mere relative, “she used to be such an
original, dear, charming woman! I cannot think what has made her change
so much. By the way, you didn’t notice a secretary fellow about, did
you? Fancy a Russian lady having an affaire with a secretary!”

“Yes, I saw him,” I replied.

“And was he at least good-looking?”

“No, not at all.”

“It is extraordinary!” concluded Papa, with a cough and an irritable
hoist of his shoulder.

“Well, I am in love!” was my secret thought to myself as I drove along
in my drozhki.



XIX. THE KORNAKOFFS

MY second call on the route lay at the Kornakoffs’, who lived on the
first floor of a large mansion facing the Arbat. The staircase of
the building looked extremely neat and orderly, yet in no
way luxurious--being lined only with drugget pinned down with
highly-polished brass rods. Nowhere were there any flowers or mirrors to
be seen. The salon, too, with its polished floor, which I traversed
on my way to the drawing-room, was decorated in the same cold, severe,
unostentatious style. Everything in it looked bright and solid, but
not new, and pictures, flower-stands, and articles of bric-a-brac were
wholly absent. In the drawing-room I found some of the young princesses
seated, but seated with the sort of correct, “company” air about them
which gave one the impression that they sat like that only when guests
were expected.

“Mamma will be here presently,” the eldest of them said to me as she
seated herself by my side. For the next quarter of an hour, this young
lady entertained me with such an easy flow of small-talk that the
conversation never flagged a moment. Yet somehow she made so patent
the fact that she was just entertaining me that I felt not altogether
pleased. Amongst other things, she told me that their brother Stephen
(whom they called Etienne, and who had been two years at the College of
Cadets) had now received his commission. Whenever she spoke of him,
and more particularly when she told me that he had flouted his
mother’s wishes by entering the Hussars, she assumed a nervous air,
and immediately her sisters, sitting there in silence, also assumed
a nervous air. When, again, she spoke of my grandmother’s death, she
assumed a MOURNFUL air, and immediately the others all did the same.
Finally, when she recalled how I had once struck St. Jerome and been
expelled from the room, she laughed and showed her bad teeth, and
immediately all the other princesses laughed and showed their bad teeth
too.

Next, the Princess-Mother herself entered--a little dried-up woman, with
a wandering glance and a habit of always looking at somebody else when
she was addressing one. Taking my hand, she raised her own to my lips
for me to kiss it--which otherwise, not supposing it to be necessary, I
should not have done.

“How pleased I am to see you!” she said with her usual clearness of
articulation as she gazed at her daughters. “And how like your mother
you look! Does he not, Lise?”

Lise assented, though I knew for a fact that I did not resemble my
mother in the least.

“And what a grown-up you have become! My Etienne, you will remember, is
your second cousin. No, not second cousin--what is it, Lise? My mother
was Barbara Dimitrievna, daughter of Dimitri Nicolaevitch, and your
grandmother was Natalia Nicolaevna.”

“Then he is our THIRD cousin, Mamma,” said the eldest girl.

“Oh, how you always confuse me!” was her mother’s angry reply. “Not
third cousin, but COUSIN GERMAN--that is your relationship to Etienne.
He is an officer now. Did you know it? It is not well that he should
have his own way too much. You young men need keeping in hand, or--!
Well, you are not vexed because your old aunt tells you the plain truth?
I always kept Etienne strictly in hand, for I found it necessary to do
so.”

“Yes, that is how our relationship stands,” she went on. “Prince Ivan
Ivanovitch is my uncle, and your late mother’s uncle also. Consequently
I must have been your mother’s first cousin--no, second cousin. Yes,
that is it. Tell me, have you been to call on Prince Ivan yet?”

I said no, but that I was just going to.

“Ah, is it possible?” she cried. “Why, you ought to have paid him the
first call of all! Surely you know that he stands to you in the position
of a father? He has no children of his own, and his only heirs are
yourself and my children. You ought to pay him all possible deference,
both because of his age, and because of his position in the world, and
because of everything else. I know that you young fellows of the present
day think nothing of relationships and are not fond of old men, yet do
you listen to me, your old aunt, for I am fond of you, and was fond of
your mother, and had a great--a very great-liking and respect for your
grandmother. You must not fail to call upon him on any account.”

I said that I would certainly go, and since my present call seemed to
me to have lasted long enough, I rose, and was about to depart, but she
restrained me.

“No, wait a minute,” she cried. “Where is your father, Lise? Go and tell
him to come here. He will be so glad to see you,” she added, turning to
me.

Two minutes later Prince Michael entered. He was a short, thick-set
gentleman, very slovenly dressed and ill-shaven, yet wearing such an air
of indifference that he looked almost a fool. He was not in the least
glad to see me--at all events he did not intimate that he was; but the
Princess (who appeared to stand in considerable awe of him) hastened to
say:

“Is not Woldemar here” (she seemed to have forgotten my name) “exactly
like his mother?” and she gave her husband a glance which forced him
to guess what she wanted. Accordingly he approached me with his usual
passionless, half-discontented expression, and held out to me an
unshaven cheek to kiss.

“Why, you are not dressed yet, though you have to go out soon!” was the
Princess’s next remark to him in the angry tone which she habitually
employed in conversation with her domestics. “It will only mean your
offending some one again, and trying to set people against you.”

“In a moment, in a moment, mother,” said Prince Michael, and departed. I
also made my bows and departed.

This was the first time I had heard of our being related to Prince Ivan
Ivanovitch, and the news struck me unpleasantly.



XX. THE IWINS

As for the prospect of my call upon the Prince, it seemed even more
unpleasant. However, the order of my route took me first to the Iwins,
who lived in a large and splendid mansion in Tverskaia Street. It was
not without some nervousness that I entered the great portico where a
Swiss major-domo stood armed with his staff of office.

To my inquiry as to whether any one was at home he replied: “Whom do you
wish to see, sir? The General’s son is within.”

“And the General himself?” I asked with forced assurance.

“I must report to him your business first. What may it be, sir?” said
the major-domo as he rang a bell. Immediately the gaitered legs of a
footman showed themselves on the staircase above; whereupon I was
seized with such a fit of nervousness that I hastily bid the lacquey say
nothing about my presence to the General, since I would first see his
son. By the time I had reached the top of the long staircase, I seemed
to have grown extremely small (metaphorically, I mean, not actually),
and had very much the same feeling within me as had possessed my soul
when my drozhki drew up to the great portico, namely, a feeling as
though drozhki, horse, and coachman had all of them grown extremely
small too. I found the General’s son lying asleep on a sofa, with an
open book before him. His tutor, Monsieur Frost, under whose care he
still pursued his studies at home, had entered behind me with a sort
of boyish tread, and now awoke his pupil. Iwin evinced no particular
pleasure at seeing me, while I also seemed to notice that, while talking
to me, he kept looking at my eyebrows. Although he was perfectly polite,
I conceived that he was “entertaining” me much as the Princess Valakhin
had done, and that he not only felt no particular liking for me, but
even that he considered my acquaintance in no way necessary to one who
possessed his own circle of friends. All this arose out of the idea that
he was regarding my eyebrows. In short, his bearing towards me appeared
to be (as I recognised with an awkward sensation) very much the same as
my own towards Ilinka Grap. I began to feel irritated, and to interpret
every fleeting glance which he cast at Monsieur Frost as a mute inquiry:
“Why has this fellow come to see me?”

After some conversation he remarked that his father and mother were at
home. Would I not like to visit them too?

“First I will go and dress myself,” he added as he departed to another
room, notwithstanding that he had seemed to be perfectly well dressed
(in a new frockcoat and white waistcoat) in the present one. A few
minutes later he reappeared in his University uniform, buttoned up to
the chin, and we went downstairs together. The reception rooms through
which we passed were lofty and of great size, and seemed to be richly
furnished with marble and gilt ornaments, chintz-covered settees, and
a number of mirrors. Presently Madame Iwin met us, and we went into
a little room behind the drawing-room, where, welcoming me in very
friendly fashion, she seated herself by my side, and began to inquire
after my relations.

Closer acquaintance with Madame (whom I had seen only twice before, and
that but for a moment on each occasion) impressed me favourably. She
was tall, thin, and very pale, and looked as though she suffered from
chronic depression and fatigue. Yet, though her smile was a sad one, it
was very kind, and her large, mournful eyes, with a slight cast in their
vision, added to the pathos and attractiveness of her expression. Her
attitude, while not precisely that of a hunchback, made her whole form
droop, while her every movement expressed languor. Likewise, though her
speech was deliberate, the timbre of her voice, and the manner in which
she lisped her r’s and l’s, were very pleasing to the ear. Finally, she
did not “ENTERTAIN” me. Unfortunately, the answers which I returned to
her questions concerning my relations seemed to afford her a painful
interest, and to remind her of happier days: with the result that when,
presently, her son left the room, she gazed at me in silence for a
moment, and then burst into tears. As I sat there in mute bewilderment,
I could not conceive what I had said to bring this about. At first I
felt sorry for her as she sat there weeping with downcast eyes. Next I
began to think to myself: “Ought I not to try and comfort her, and how
ought that to be done?” Finally, I began to feel vexed with her for
placing me in such an awkward position. “Surely my appearance is not so
moving as all that?” I reflected. “Or is she merely acting like this to
see what I shall do under the circumstances?”

“Yet it would not do for me to go,” I continued to myself, “for that
would look too much as though I were fleeing to escape her tears.”
 Accordingly I began fidgeting about on my seat, in order to remind her
of my presence.

“Oh, how foolish of me!” at length she said, as she gazed at me for a
moment and tried to smile. “There are days when one weeps for no reason
whatever.” She felt about for her handkerchief, and then burst out
weeping more violently than before.

“Oh dear! How silly of me to be for ever crying like this! Yet I was so
fond of your mother! We were such friends! We-we--”

At this point she found her handkerchief, and, burying her face in it,
went on crying. Once more I found myself in the same protracted dilemma.
Though vexed, I felt sorry for her, since her tears appeared to be
genuine--even though I also had an idea that it was not so much for my
mother that she was weeping as for the fact that she was unhappy, and
had known happier days. How it would all have ended I do not know, had
not her son reappeared and said that his father desired to see her.
Thereupon she rose, and was just about to leave the room, when the
General himself entered. He was a small, grizzled, thick-set man, with
bushy black eyebrows, a grey, close-cropped head, and a very stern,
haughty expression of countenance.

I rose and bowed to him, but the General (who was wearing three stars
on his green frockcoat) not only made no response to my salutation, but
scarcely even looked at me; so that all at once I felt as though I were
not a human being at all, but only some negligible object such as a
settee or window; or, if I were a human being, as though I were quite
indistinguishable from such a negligible object.

“Then you have not yet written to the Countess, my dear?” he said to his
wife in French, and with an imperturbable, yet determined, expression on
his countenance.

“Good-bye, Monsieur Irtenieff,” Madame said to me, in her turn, as she
made a proud gesture with her head and looked at my eyebrows just as her
son had done. I bowed to her, and again to her husband, but my second
salutation made no more impression upon him than if a window had just
been opened or closed. Nevertheless the younger Iwin accompanied me to
the door, and on the way told me that he was to go to St. Petersburg
University, since his father had been appointed to a post in that city
(and young Iwin named a very high office in the service).

“Well, his Papa may do whatsoever he likes,” I muttered to myself as I
climbed into the drozhki, “but at all events I will never set foot in
that house again. His wife weeps and looks at me as though I were the
embodiment of woe, while that old pig of a General does not even give
me a bow. However, I will get even with him some day.” How I meant to do
that I do not know, but my words nevertheless came true.

Afterwards, I frequently found it necessary to remember the advice of
my father when he said that I must cultivate the acquaintanceship of the
Iwins, and not expect a man in the position of General Iwin to pay any
attention to a boy like myself. But I had figured in that position long
enough.



XXI. PRINCE IVAN IVANOVITCH

“Now for the last call--the visit to Nikitskaia Street,” I said to
Kuzma, and we started for Prince Ivan Ivanovitch’s mansion.

Towards the end, a round of calls usually brings one a certain amount
of self-assurance: consequently I was approaching the Prince’s abode in
quite a tranquil frame of mind, when suddenly I remembered the Princess
Kornakoff’s words that I was his heir, and at the same moment caught
sight of two carriages waiting at the portico. Instantly, my former
nervousness returned.

Both the old major-domo who opened the door to me, and the footman who
took my coat, and the two male and three female visitors whom I found in
the drawing-room, and, most of all, Prince Ivan Ivanovitch himself (whom
I found clad in a “company” frockcoat and seated on a sofa) seemed to
look at me as at an HEIR, and so to eye me with ill-will. Yet the Prince
was very gracious and, after kissing me (that is to say, after pressing
his cold, dry, flabby lips to my cheek for a second), asked me about
my plans and pursuits, jested with me, inquired whether I still wrote
verses of the kind which I used to indite in honour of my grandmother’s
birthdays, and invited me to dine with him that day. Nevertheless, in
proportion as he grew the kinder, the more did I feel persuaded that his
civility was only intended to conceal from me the fact that he disliked
the idea of my being his heir. He had a custom (due to his false teeth,
of which his mouth possessed a complete set) of raising his upper lip a
little as he spoke, and producing a slight whistling sound from it; and
whenever, on the present occasion, he did so it seemed to me that he was
saying to himself: “A boy, a boy--I know it! And my heir, too--my heir!”

When we were children, we had been used to calling the Prince “dear
Uncle;” but now, in my capacity of heir, I could not bring my tongue
to the phrase, while to say “Your Highness,” as did one of the other
visitors, seemed derogatory to my self-esteem. Consequently, never
once during that visit did I call him anything at all. The personage,
however, who most disturbed me was the old Princess who shared with me
the position of prospective inheritor, and who lived in the Prince’s
house. While seated beside her at dinner, I felt firmly persuaded that
the reason why she would not speak to me was that she disliked me for
being her co-heir, and that the Prince, for his part, paid no attention
to our side of the table for the reason that the Princess and myself
hoped to succeed him, and so were alike distasteful in his sight.

“You cannot think how I hated it all!” I said to Dimitrieff the same
evening, in a desire to make a parade of disliking the notion of being
an heir (somehow I thought it the thing to do). “You cannot think how
I loathed the whole two hours that I spent there!--Yet he is a
fine-looking old fellow, and was very kind to me,” I added--wishing,
among other things, to disabuse my friend of any possible idea that my
loathing had arisen out of the fact that I had felt so small. “It is
only the idea that people may be classing me with the Princess who lives
with him, and who licks the dust off his boots. He is a wonderful old
man, and good and considerate to everybody, but it is awful to see how
he treats the Princess. Money is a detestable thing, and ruins all human
relations.

“Do you know, I think it would be far the best thing for me to have
an open explanation with the Prince,” I went on; “to tell him that I
respect him as a man, but think nothing of being his heir, and that
I desire him to leave me nothing, since that is the only condition on
which I can, in future, visit his house.”

Instead of bursting out laughing when I said this, Dimitri pondered
awhile in silence, and then answered:

“You are wrong. Either you ought to refrain from supposing that people
may be classing you with this Princess of whom you speak, or, if you
DO suppose such a thing, you ought to suppose further that people are
thinking what you yourself know quite well--namely, that such thoughts
are so utterly foreign to your nature that you despise them and would
never make them a basis for action. Suppose, however, that people DO
suppose you to suppose such a thing--Well, to sum up,” he added, feeling
that he was getting a little mixed in his pronouncements, “you had much
better not suppose anything of the kind.”

My friend was perfectly right, though it was not until long, long
afterwards that experience of life taught me the evil that comes of
thinking--still worse, of saying--much that seems very fine; taught me
that there are certain thoughts which should always be kept to oneself,
since brave words seldom go with brave deeds. I learnt then that
the mere fact of giving utterance to a good intention often makes it
difficult, nay, impossible, to carry that good intention into
effect. Yet how is one to refrain from giving utterance to the brave,
self-sufficient impulses of youth? Only long afterwards does one
remember and regret them, even as one incontinently plucks a flower
before its blooming, and subsequently finds it lying crushed and
withered on the ground.

The very next morning I, who had just been telling my friend Dimitri
that money corrupts all human relations, and had (as we have seen)
squandered the whole of my cash on pictures and Turkish pipes, accepted
a loan of twenty roubles which he suggested should pay for my travelling
expenses into the country, and remained a long while thereafter in his
debt!



XXII. INTIMATE CONVERSATION WITH MY FRIEND

THIS conversation of ours took place in a phaeton on the way to
Kuntsevo. Dimitri had invited me in the morning to go with him to his
mother’s, and had called for me after luncheon; the idea being that
I should spend the evening, and perhaps also pass the night, at the
country-house where his family lived. Only when we had left the city and
exchanged its grimy streets and the unbearably deafening clatter of
its pavements for the open vista of fields and the subdued grinding of
carriage-wheels on a dusty high road (while the sweet spring air
and prospect enveloped us on every side) did I awake from the new
impressions and sensations of freedom into which the past two days had
plunged me. Dimitri was in his kind and sociable mood. That is to say,
he was neither frowning nor blinking nervously nor straightening his
neck in his collar. For my own part, I was congratulating myself on
those noble sentiments which I have expressed above, in the belief that
they had led him to overlook my shameful encounter with Kolpikoff, and
to refrain from despising me for it. Thus we talked together on many
an intimate subject which even a friend seldom mentions to a friend. He
told me about his family whose acquaintance I had not yet made--about
his mother, his aunt, and his sister, as also about her whom Woloda and
Dubkoff believed to be his “flame,” and always spoke of as “the lady
with the chestnut locks.” Of his mother he spoke with a certain cold and
formal commendation, as though to forestall any further mention of
her; his aunt he extolled enthusiastically, though with a touch of
condescension in his tone; his sister he scarcely mentioned at all, as
though averse to doing so in my presence; but on the subject of “the
lady with the chestnut locks” (whose real name was Lubov Sergievna,
and who was a grown-up young lady living on a family footing with the
Nechludoffs) he discoursed with animation.

“Yes, she is a wonderful woman,” he said with a conscious reddening of
the face, yet looking me in the eyes with dogged temerity. “True, she
is no longer young, and even rather elderly, as well as by no means
good-looking; but as for loving a mere featherhead, a mere beauty--well,
I never could understand that, for it is such a silly thing to do.”
 (Dimitri said this as though he had just discovered a most novel and
extraordinary truth.) “I am certain, too, that such a soul, such a heart
and principles, as are hers are not to be found elsewhere in the world
of the present day.” (I do not know whence he had derived the habit
of saying that few good things were discoverable in the world of the
present day, but at all events he loved to repeat the expression, and it
somehow suited him.)

“Only, I am afraid,” he went on quietly, after thus annihilating all
such men as were foolish enough to admire mere beauty, “I am afraid
that you will not understand or realise her quickly. She is modest,
even secretive, and by no means fond of exhibiting her beautiful and
surprising qualities. Now, my mother--who, as you will see, is a noble,
sensible woman--has known Lubov Sergievna, for many years; yet even to
this day she does not properly understand her. Shall I tell you why I
was out of temper last evening when you were questioning me? Well, you
must know that the day before yesterday Lubov asked me to accompany her
to Ivan Yakovlevitch’s (you have heard of him, I suppose? the fellow who
seems to be mad, but who, in reality, is a very remarkable man). Well,
Lubov is extremely religious, and understands Ivan Yakovlevitch to the
full. She often goes to see him, and converses with him, and gives
him money for the poor--money which she has earned herself. She is a
marvellous woman, as you will see. Well, I went with her to Ivan’s,
and felt very grateful to her for having afforded me the opportunity
of exchanging a word with so remarkable a man; but my mother could not
understand our action at all, and discerned in it only superstition.
Consequently, last night she and I quarrelled for the first time in our
lives. A very bitter one it was, too,” he concluded, with a convulsive
shrug of his shoulders, as though the mention of it recalled the
feelings which he had then experienced.

“And what are your intentions about it all?” I inquired, to divert
him from such a disagreeable recollection. “That is to say, how do you
imagine it is going to turn out? Do you ever speak to her about the
future, or about how your love or friendship are going to end?”

“Do you mean, do I intend to marry her eventually?” he inquired, in his
turn, with a renewed blush, but turning himself round and looking me
boldly in the face.

“Yes, certainly,” I replied as I settled myself down. “We are both of us
grown-up, as well as friends, so we may as well discuss our future life
as we drive along. No one could very well overlook or overhear us now.”

“Why should I NOT marry her?” he went on in response to my reassuring
reply. “It is my aim--as it should be the aim of every honourable
man--to be as good and as happy as possible; and with her, if she
should still be willing when I have become more independent, I should be
happier and better than with the greatest beauty in the world.”

Absorbed in such conversation, we hardly noticed that we were
approaching Kuntsevo, or that the sky was becoming overcast and
beginning to threaten rain. On the right, the sun was slowly sinking
behind the ancient trees of the Kuntsevo park--one half of its brilliant
disc obscured with grey, subluminous cloud, and the other half sending
forth spokes of flaming light which threw the old trees into striking
relief as they stood there with their dense crowns of green showing
against a blue patch of sky. The light and shimmer of that patch
contrasted sharply with the heavy pink cloud which lay massed above
a young birch-tree visible on the horizon before us, while, a little
further to the right, the parti-coloured roofs of the Kuntsevo mansion
could be seen projecting above a belt of trees and undergrowth--one side
of them reflecting the glittering rays of the sun, and the other side
harmonising with the more louring portion of the heavens. Below us, and
to the left, showed the still blue of a pond where it lay surrounded
with pale-green laburnums--its dull, concave-looking depths repeating
the trees in more sombre shades of colour over the surface of a hillock.
Beyond the water spread the black expanse of a ploughed field, with the
straight line of a dark-green ridge by which it was bisected running far
into the distance, and there joining the leaden, threatening horizon.

On either side of the soft road along which the phaeton was pursuing the
even tenour of its way, bright-green, tangled, juicy belts of rye were
sprouting here and there into stalk. Not a motion was perceptible in the
air, only a sweet freshness, and everything looked extraordinarily clear
and bright. Near the road I could see a little brown path winding its
way among the dark-green, quarter-grown stems of rye, and somehow that
path reminded me vividly of our village, and somehow (through some
connection of thought) the idea of that village reminded me vividly of
Sonetchka, and so of the fact that I was in love with her.

Notwithstanding my fondness for Dimitri and the pleasure which his
frankness had afforded me, I now felt as though I desired to hear no
more about his feelings and intentions with regard to Lubov Sergievna,
but to talk unstintedly about my own love for Sonetchka, who seemed to
me an object of affection of a far higher order. Yet for some reason
or another I could not make up my mind to tell him straight out how
splendid it would seem when I had married Sonetchka and we were living
in the country--of how we should have little children who would crawl
about the floor and call me Papa, and of how delighted I should be when
he, Dimitri, brought his wife, Lubov Sergievna, to see us, wearing an
expensive gown. Accordingly, instead of saying all that, I pointed to
the setting sun, and merely remarked: “Look, Dimitri! How splendid!”

To this, however, Dimitri made no reply, since he was evidently
dissatisfied at my answering his confession (which it had cost him much
to make) by directing his attention to natural objects (to which he
was, in general, indifferent). Upon him Nature had an effect altogether
different to what she had upon myself, for she affected him rather by
her industry than by her beauty--he loved her rather with his intellect
than with his senses.

“I am absolutely happy,” I went on, without noticing that he was
altogether taken up with his own thoughts and oblivious of anything that
I might be saying. “You will remember how told you about a girl with
whom I used to be in love when was a little boy? Well, I saw her
again only this morning, and am now infatuated with her.” Then I told
him--despite his continued expression of indifference--about my love,
and about all my plans for my future connubial happiness. Strangely
enough, no sooner had I related in detail the whole strength of my
feelings than I instantly became conscious of its diminution.

The rain overtook us just as we were turning into the avenue of
birch-trees which led to the house, but it did not really wet us. I only
knew that it was raining by the fact that I felt a drop fall, first on
my nose, and then on my hand, and heard something begin to patter upon
the young, viscous leaves of the birch-trees as, drooping their curly
branches overhead, they seemed to imbibe the pure, shining drops with an
avidity which filled the whole avenue with scent. We descended from the
carriage, so as to reach the house the quicker through the garden, but
found ourselves confronted at the entrance-door by four ladies, two of
whom were knitting, one reading a book, and the fourth walking to and
fro with a little dog. Thereupon, Dimitri began to present me to his
mother, sister, and aunt, as well as to Lubov Sergievna. For a moment
they remained where they were, but almost instantly the rain became
heavier.

“Let us go into the verandah; you can present him to us there,” said the
lady whom I took to be Dimitri’s mother, and we all of us ascended the
entrance-steps.



XXIII. THE NECHLUDOFFS

From the first, the member of this company who struck me the most was
Lubov Sergievna, who, holding a lapdog in her arms and wearing stout
laced boots, was the last of the four ladies to ascend the staircase,
and twice stopped to gaze at me intently and then kiss her little dog.
She was anything but good-looking, since she was red-haired, thin,
short, and slightly crooked. What made her plain face all the plainer
was the queer way in which her hair was parted to one side (it looked
like the wigs which bald women contrive for themselves). However much I
should have liked to applaud my friend, I could not find a single comely
feature in her. Even her brown eyes, though expressive of good-humour,
were small and dull--were, in fact, anything but pretty; while her hands
(those most characteristic of features), were though neither large nor
ill-shaped, coarse and red.

As soon as we reached the verandah, each of the ladies, except Dimitri’s
sister Varenika--who also had been regarding me attentively out of
her large, dark-grey eyes--said a few words to me before resuming her
occupation, while Varenika herself began to read aloud from a book which
she held on her lap and steadied with her finger.

The Princess Maria Ivanovna was a tall, well-built woman of forty. To
judge by the curls of half-grey hair which descended below her cap one
might have taken her for more, but as soon as ever one observed the
fresh, extraordinarily tender, and almost wrinkleless face, as well
as, most of all, the lively, cheerful sparkle of the large eyes, one
involuntarily took her for less. Her eyes were black and very frank, her
lips thin and slightly severe, her nose regular and slightly inclined to
the left, and her hands ringless, large, and almost like those of a man,
but with finely tapering fingers. She wore a dark-blue dress fastened
to the throat and sitting closely to her firm, still youthful waist--a
waist which she evidently pinched. Lastly, she held herself very
upright, and was knitting a garment of some kind. As soon as I stepped
on to the verandah she took me by the hand, drew me to her as though
wishing to scrutinise me more closely, and said, as she gazed at me with
the same cold, candid glance as her son’s, that she had long known me
by report from Dimitri, and that therefore, in order to make my
acquaintance thoroughly, she had invited me to stay these twenty-four
hours in her house.

“Do just as you please here,” she said, “and stand on no ceremony
whatever with us, even as we shall stand on none with you. Pray walk,
read, listen, or sleep as the mood may take you.”

Sophia Ivanovna was an old maid and the Princess’s younger sister,
though she looked the elder of the two. She had that exceedingly
overstuffed appearance which old maids always present who are short
of stature but wear corsets. It seemed as though her healthiness had
shifted upwards to the point of choking her, her short, fat hands
would not meet below her projecting bust, and the line of her waist was
scarcely visible at all.

Notwithstanding that the Princess Maria Ivanovna had black hair and
eyes, while Sophia Ivanovna had white hair and large, vivacious,
tranquilly blue eyes (a rare combination), there was a great likeness
between the two sisters, for they had the same expression, nose, and
lips. The only difference was that Sophia’s nose and lips were a trifle
coarser than Maria’s, and that, when she smiled, those features inclined
towards the right, whereas Maria’s inclined towards the left. Sophia, to
judge by her dress and coiffure, was still youthful at heart, and would
never have displayed grey curls, even if she had possessed them. Yet at
first her glance and bearing towards me seemed very proud, and made me
nervous, whereas I at once felt at home with the Princess. Perhaps it
was only Sophia’s stoutness and a certain resemblance to portraits of
Catherine the Great that gave her, in my eyes, a haughty aspect, but at
all events I felt quite intimidated when she looked at me intently and
said, “Friends of our friends are our friends also.” I became reassured
and changed my opinion about her only when, after saying those words,
she opened her mouth and sighed deeply. It may be that she owed her
habit of sighing after every few words--with a great distention of the
mouth and a slight drooping of her large blue eyes--to her stoutness,
yet it was none the less one which expressed so much good-humour that
I at once lost all fear of her, and found her actually attractive. Her
eyes were charming, her voice pleasant and musical, and even the flowing
lines of her fullness seemed to my youthful vision not wholly lacking in
beauty.

I had imagined that Lubov Sergievna, as my friend’s friend, would at
once say something friendly and familiar to me; yet, after gazing at me
fixedly for a while, as though in doubt whether the remark she was about
to make to me would not be too friendly, she at length asked me what
faculty I was in. After that she stared at me as before, in evident
hesitation as to whether or not to say something civil and familiar,
until, remarking her perplexity, I besought her with a look to speak
freely. Yet all she then said was, “They tell me the Universities pay
very little attention to science now,” and turned away to call her
little dog.

All that evening she spoke only in disjointed fragments of this
kind--fragments which had no connection either with the point or with
one another; yet I had such faith in Dimitri, and he so often kept
looking from her to me with an expression which mutely asked me, “Now,
what do you think of that?” that, though I entirely failed to persuade
myself that in Lubov Sergievna there was anything to speak of, I could
not bear to express the thought, even to myself.

As for the last member of the family, Varenika, she was a well-developed
girl of sixteen. The only good features in her were a pair of dark-grey
eyes,--which, in their expression of gaiety mingled with quiet
attention, greatly resembled those of her aunt--a long coil of flaxen
hair, and extremely delicate, beautiful hands.

“I expect, Monsieur Nicolas, you find it wearisome to hear a story begun
from the middle?” said Sophia Ivanovna with her good-natured sigh as she
turned over some pieces of clothing which she was sewing. The reading
aloud had ceased for the moment because Dimitri had left the room on
some errand or another.

“Or perhaps you have read Rob Roy before?” she added.

At that period I thought it incumbent upon me, in virtue of my student’s
uniform, to reply in a very “clever and original” manner to every
question put to me by people whom I did not know very well, and regarded
such short, clear answers as “Yes,” “No,” “I like it,” or “I do not care
for it,” as things to be ashamed of. Accordingly, looking down at my new
and fashionably-cut trousers and the glittering buttons of my tunic, I
replied that I had never read Rob Roy, but that it interested me greatly
to hear it, since I preferred to read books from the middle rather than
from the beginning.

“It is twice as interesting,” I added with a self-satisfied smirk;
“for then one can guess what has gone before as well as what is to come
after.”

The Princess smiled what I thought was a forced smile, but one which I
discovered later to be her only one.

“Well, perhaps that is true,” she said. “But tell me, Nicolas (you will
not be offended if I drop the Monsieur)--tell me, are you going to be in
town long? When do you go away?”

“I do not know quite. Perhaps to-morrow, or perhaps not for some while
yet,” I replied for some reason or another, though I knew perfectly well
that in reality we were to go to-morrow.

“I wish you could stop longer, both for your own sake and for
Dimitri’s,” she said in a meditative manner. “At your age friendship is
a weak thing.”

I felt that every one was looking at me, and waiting to see what I
should say--though certainly Varenika made a pretence of looking at
her aunt’s work. I felt, in fact, as though I were being put through an
examination, and that it behoved me to figure in it as well as possible.

“Yes, to ME Dimitri’s friendship is most useful,” I replied, “but to HIM
mine cannot be of any use at all, since he is a thousand times better
than I.” (Dimitri could not hear what I said, or I should have feared
his detecting the insincerity of my words.)

Again the Princess smiled her unnatural, yet characteristically natural,
smile.

“Just listen to him!” she said. “But it is YOU who are the little
monster of perfection.”

“‘Monster of perfection,’” I thought to myself. “That is splendid. I
must make a note of it.”

“Yet, to dismiss yourself, he has been extraordinarily clever in that
quarter,” she went on in a lower tone (which pleased me somehow) as she
indicated Lubov Sergievna with her eyes, “since he has discovered in our
poor little Auntie” (such was the pet name which they gave Lubov) “all
sorts of perfections which I, who have known her and her little dog for
twenty years, had never yet suspected. Varenika, go and tell them to
bring me a glass of water,” she added, letting her eyes wander again.
Probably she had bethought her that it was too soon, or not entirely
necessary, to let me into all the family secrets. “Yet no--let HIM go,
for he has nothing to do, while you are reading. Pray go to the door, my
friend,” she said to me, “and walk about fifteen steps down the passage.
Then halt and call out pretty loudly, ‘Peter, bring Maria Ivanovna a
glass of iced water’”--and she smiled her curious smile once more.

“I expect she wants to say something about me in my absence,” I thought
to myself as I left the room. “I expect she wants to remark that she can
see very clearly that I am a very, very clever young man.”

Hardly had I taken a dozen steps when I was overtaken by Sophia
Ivanovna, who, though fat and short of breath, trod with surprising
lightness and agility.

“Merci, mon cher,” she said. “I will go and tell them myself.”



XXIV. LOVE

SOPHIA IVANOVNA, as I afterwards came to know her, was one of those
rare, young-old women who are born for family life, but to whom that
happiness has been denied by fate. Consequently all that store of their
love which should have been poured out upon a husband and children
becomes pent up in their hearts, until they suddenly decide to let it
overflow upon a few chosen individuals. Yet so inexhaustible is that
store of old maids’ love that, despite the number of individuals so
selected, there still remains an abundant surplus of affection which
they lavish upon all by whom they are surrounded--upon all, good or bad,
whom they may chance to meet in their daily life.

Of love there are three kinds--love of beauty, the love which denies
itself, and practical love.

Of the desire of a young man for a young woman, as well as of the
reverse instance, I am not now speaking, for of such tendresses I am
wary, seeing that I have been too unhappy in my life to have been able
ever to see in such affection a single spark of truth, but rather a
lying pretence in which sensuality, connubial relations, money, and
the wish to bind hands or to unloose them have rendered feeling such a
complex affair as to defy analysis. Rather am I speaking of that love
for a human being which, according to the spiritual strength of its
possessor, concentrates itself either upon a single individual, upon
a few, or upon many--of love for a mother, a father, a brother,
little children, a friend, a compatriot--of love, in short, for one’s
neighbour.

Love of beauty consists in a love of the sense of beauty and of its
expression. People who thus love conceive the object of their affection
to be desirable only in so far as it arouses in them that pleasurable
sensation of which the consciousness and the expression soothes the
senses. They change the object of their love frequently, since their
principal aim consists in ensuring that the voluptuous feeling of their
adoration shall be constantly titillated. To preserve in themselves
this sensuous condition, they talk unceasingly, and in the most elegant
terms, on the subject of the love which they feel, not only for its
immediate object, but also for objects upon which it does not touch at
all. This country of ours contains many such individuals--individuals
of that well-known class who, cultivating “the beautiful,” not only
discourse of their cult to all and sundry, but speak of it pre-eminently
in FRENCH. It may seem a strange and ridiculous thing to say, but I am
convinced that among us we have had in the past, and still have, a
large section of society--notably women--whose love for their friends,
husbands, or children would expire to-morrow if they were debarred from
dilating upon it in the tongue of France!

Love of the second kind--renunciatory love--consists in a yearning
to undergo self-sacrifice for the object beloved, regardless of any
consideration whether such self-sacrifice will benefit or injure the
object in question. “There is no evil which I would not endure to show
both the world and him or her whom I adore my devotion.” There we have
the formula of this kind of love. People who thus love never look
for reciprocity of affection, since it is a finer thing to sacrifice
yourself for one who does not comprehend you. Also, they are always
painfully eager to exaggerate the merits of their sacrifice; usually
constant in their love, for the reason that they would find it hard to
forego the kudos of the deprivations which they endure for the object
beloved; always ready to die, to prove to him or to her the entirety of
their devotion; but sparing of such small daily proofs of their love
as call for no special effort of self-immolation. They do not much care
whether you eat well, sleep well, keep your spirits up, or enjoy good
health, nor do they ever do anything to obtain for you those blessings
if they have it in their power; but, should you be confronting a bullet,
or have fallen into the water, or stand in danger of being burnt, or
have had your heart broken in a love affair--well, for all these
things they are prepared if the occasion should arise. Moreover, people
addicted to love of such a self-sacrificing order are invariably
proud of their love, exacting, jealous, distrustful, and--strange to
tell--anxious that the object of their adoration should incur perils (so
that they may save it from calamity, and console it thereafter) and even
be vicious (so that they may purge it of its vice).

Suppose, now, that you are living in the country with a wife who loves
you in this self-sacrificing manner. You may be healthy and contented,
and have occupations which interest you, while, on the other hand,
your wife may be too weak to superintend the household work (which,
in consequence, will be left to the servants), or to look after the
children (who, in consequence, will be left to the nurses), or to put
her heart into any work whatsoever: and all because she loves nobody and
nothing but yourself. She may be patently ill, yet she will say not a
word to you about it, for fear of distressing you. She may be patently
ennuyee, yet for your sake she will be prepared to be so for the rest
of her life. She may be patently depressed because you stick so
persistently to your occupations (whether sport, books, farming, state
service, or anything else) and see clearly that they are doing you harm;
yet, for all that, she will keep silence, and suffer it to be so. Yet,
should you but fall sick--and, despite her own ailments and your prayers
that she will not distress herself in vain, your loving wife will remain
sitting inseparably by your bedside. Every moment you will feel her
sympathetic gaze resting upon you and, as it were, saying: “There! I
told you so, but it is all one to me, and I shall not leave you.” In the
morning you maybe a little better, and move into another room. The room,
however, will be insufficiently warmed or set in order; the soup which
alone you feel you could eat will not have been cooked; nor will any
medicine have been sent for. Yet, though worn out with night watching,
your loving wife will continue to regard you with an expression of
sympathy, to walk about on tiptoe, and to whisper unaccustomed and
obscure orders to the servants. You may wish to be read to--and your
loving wife will tell you with a sigh that she feels sure you will be
unable to hear her reading, and only grow angry at her awkwardness in
doing it; wherefore you had better not be read to at all. You may wish
to walk about the room--and she will tell you that it would be far
better for you not to do so. You may wish to talk with some friends who
have called--and she will tell you that talking is not good for you. At
nightfall the fever may come upon you again, and you may wish to be
left alone whereupon your loving wife, though wasted, pale, and full of
yawns, will go on sitting in a chair opposite you, as dusk falls, until
her very slightest movement, her very slightest sound, rouses you to
feelings of anger and impatience. You may have a servant who has lived
with you for twenty years, and to whom you are attached, and who would
tend you well and to your satisfaction during the night, for the reason
that he has been asleep all day and is, moreover, paid a salary for
his services; yet your wife will not suffer him to wait upon you. No;
everything she must do herself with her weak, unaccustomed fingers (of
which you follow the movements with suppressed irritation as those pale
members do their best to uncork a medicine bottle, to snuff a candle, to
pour out physic, or to touch you in a squeamish sort of way). If you are
an impatient, hasty sort of man, and beg of her to leave the room, you
will hear by the vexed, distressed sounds which come from her that
she is humbly sobbing and weeping behind the door, and whispering
foolishness of some kind to the servant. Finally if you do not die,
your loving wife--who has not slept during the whole three weeks of your
illness (a fact of which she will constantly remind you)--will fall ill
in her turn, waste away, suffer much, and become even more incapable of
any useful pursuit than she was before; while by the time that you
have regained your normal state of health she will express to you
her self-sacrificing affection only by shedding around you a kind of
benignant dullness which involuntarily communicates itself both to
yourself and to every one else in your vicinity.

The third kind of love--practical love--consists of a yearning to
satisfy every need, every desire, every caprice, nay, every vice, of the
being beloved. People who love thus always love their life long, since,
the more they love, the more they get to know the object beloved,
and the easier they find the task of loving it--that is to say, of
satisfying its desires. Their love seldom finds expression in words, but
if it does so, it expresses itself neither with assurance nor beauty,
but rather in a shamefaced, awkward manner, since people of this kind
invariably have misgivings that they are loving unworthily. People of
this kind love even the faults of their adored one, for the reason that
those faults afford them the power of constantly satisfying new
desires. They look for their affection to be returned, and even
deceive themselves into believing that it is returned, and are happy
accordingly: yet in the reverse case they will still continue to
desire happiness for their beloved one, and try by every means in their
power--whether moral or material, great or small--to provide it.

Such practical love it was--love for her nephew, for her niece, for
her sister, for Lubov Sergievna, and even for myself, because I loved
Dimitri--that shone in the eyes, as well as in the every word and
movement, of Sophia Ivanovna.

Only long afterwards did I learn to value her at her true worth. Yet
even now the question occurred to me: “What has made Dimitri--who
throughout has tried to understand love differently to other young
fellows, and has always had before his eyes the gentle, loving Sophia
Ivanovna--suddenly fall so deeply in love with the incomprehensible
Lubov Sergievna, and declare that in his aunt he can only find good
QUALITIES? Verily it is a true saying that ‘a prophet hath no honour in
his own country.’ One of two things: either every man has in him more
of bad than of good, or every man is more receptive to bad than to good.
Lubov Sergievna he has not known for long, whereas his aunt’s love he
has known since the day of his birth.”



XXV. I BECOME BETTER ACQUAINTED WITH THE NECHLUDOFFS

WHEN I returned to the verandah, I found that they were not talking
of me at all, as I had anticipated. On the contrary, Varenika had laid
aside the book, and was engaged in a heated dispute with Dimitri, who,
for his part, was walking up and down the verandah, and frowningly
adjusting his neck in his collar as he did so. The subject of the
quarrel seemed to be Ivan Yakovlevitch and superstition, but it was too
animated a difference for its underlying cause not to be something which
concerned the family much more nearly. Although the Princess and Lubov
Sergievna were sitting by in silence, they were following every word,
and evidently tempted at times to take part in the dispute; yet always,
just when they were about to speak, they checked themselves, and left
the field clear for the two principles, Dimitri and Varenika. On my
entry, the latter glanced at me with such an indifferent air that
I could see she was wholly absorbed in the quarrel and did not care
whether she spoke in my presence or not. The Princess too looked the
same, and was clearly on Varenika’s side, while Dimitri began, if
anything, to raise his voice still more when I appeared, and Lubov
Sergievna, for her part, observed to no one in particular: “Old people
are quite right when they say, ‘Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse
pouvait.’”

Nevertheless this quotation did not check the dispute, though it somehow
gave me the impression that the side represented by the speaker and her
friend was in the wrong. Although it was a little awkward for me to be
present at a petty family difference, the fact that the true relations
of the family revealed themselves during its progress, and that my
presence did nothing to hinder that revelation, afforded me considerable
gratification.

How often it happens that for years one sees a family cover themselves
over with a conventional cloak of decorum, and preserve the real
relations of its members a secret from every eye! How often, too, have
I remarked that, the more impenetrable (and therefore the more decorous)
is the cloak, the harsher are the relations which it conceals! Yet, once
let some unexpected question--often a most trivial one (the colour of
a woman’s hair, a visit, a man’s horses, and so forth)--arise in that
family circle, and without any visible cause there will also arise an
ever-growing difference, until in time the cloak of decorum becomes
unequal to confining the quarrel within due bounds, and, to the dismay
of the disputants and the astonishment of the auditors, the real and
ill-adjusted relations of the family are laid bare, and the cloak,
now useless for concealment, is bandied from hand to hand among the
contending factions until it serves only to remind one of the years
during which it successfully deceived one’s perceptions. Sometimes to
strike one’s head violently against a ceiling hurts one less than just
to graze some spot which has been hurt and bruised before: and in
almost every family there exists some such raw and tender spot. In the
Nechludoff family that spot was Dimitri’s extraordinary affection
for Lubov Sergievna, which aroused in the mother and sister, if not a
jealous feeling, at all events a sense of hurt family pride. This
was the grave significance which underlay, for all those present, the
seeming dispute about Ivan Yakovlevitch and superstition.

“In anything that other people deride and despise you invariably profess
to see something extraordinarily good!” Varenika was saying in her clear
voice, as she articulated each syllable with careful precision.

“Indeed?” retorted Dimitri with an impatient toss of his head. “Now,
in the first place, only a most unthinking person could ever speak of
DESPISING such a remarkable man as Ivan Yakovlevitch, while, in the
second place, it is YOU who invariably profess to see nothing good in
what confronts you.”

Meanwhile Sophia Ivanovna kept looking anxiously at us as she turned
first to her nephew, and then to her niece, and then to myself. Twice
she opened her mouth as though to say what was in her mind and drew a
deep sigh.

“Varia, PLEASE go on reading,” she said at length, at the same time
handing her niece the book, and patting her hand kindly. “I wish to
know whether he ever found HER again” (as a matter of fact, the novel in
question contained not a word about any one finding any one else). “And,
Mitia dear,” she added to her nephew, despite the glum looks which he
was throwing at her for having interrupted the logical thread of his
deductions, “you had better let me poultice your cheek, or your teeth
will begin to ache again.”

After that the reading was resumed. Yet the quarrel had in no way
dispelled the calm atmosphere of family and intellectual harmony which
enveloped this circle of ladies.

Clearly deriving its inspiration and character from the Princess
Maria Ivanovna, it was a circle which, for me, had a wholly novel
and attractive character of logicalness mingled with simplicity and
refinement. That character I could discern in the daintiness, good
taste, and solidity of everything about me, whether the handbell, the
binding of the book, the settee, or the table. Likewise, I divined it in
the upright, well-corseted pose of the Princess, in her pendant curls
of grey hair, in the manner in which she had, at our first introduction,
called me plain “Nicolas” and “he,” in the occupations of the ladies
(the reading and the sewing of garments), and in the unusual whiteness
of their hands. Those hands, en passant, showed a family feature common
to all--namely, the feature that the flesh of the palm on the outer side
was rosy in colour, and divided by a sharp, straight line from the pure
whiteness of the upper portion of the hand. Still more was the character
of this feminine circle expressed in the manner in which the three
ladies spoke Russian and French--spoke them, that is to say, with
perfect articulation of syllables and pedantic accuracy of substantives
and prepositions. All this, and more especially the fact that the ladies
treated me as simply and as seriously as a real grown-up--telling me
their opinions, and listening to my own (a thing to which I was so
little accustomed that, for all my glittering buttons and blue facings,
I was in constant fear of being told: “Surely you do not think that we
are talking SERIOUSLY to you? Go away and learn something”)--all this, I
say, caused me to feel an entire absence of restraint in this society. I
ventured at times to rise, to move about, and to talk boldly to each
of the ladies except Varenika (whom I always felt it was unbecoming, or
even forbidden, for me to address unless she first spoke to me).

As I listened to her clear, pleasant voice reading aloud, I kept
glancing from her to the path of the flower-garden, where the
rain-spots were making small dark circles in the sand, and thence to
the lime-trees, upon the leaves of which the rain was pattering down in
large detached drops shed from the pale, shimmering edge of the livid
blue cloud which hung suspended over us. Then I would glance at her
again, and then at the last purple rays of the setting sun where they
were throwing the dense clusters of old, rain-washed birches into
brilliant relief. Yet again my eyes would return to Varenika, and, each
time that they did so, it struck me afresh that she was not nearly so
plain as at first I had thought her.

“How I wish that I wasn’t in love already!” I reflected, “or that
Sonetchka was Varenika! How nice it would be if suddenly I could become
a member of this family, and have the three ladies for my mother, aunt,
and wife respectively!” All the time that these thoughts kept passing
through my head I kept attentively regarding Varenika as she read, until
somehow I felt as though I were magnetising her, and that presently she
must look at me. Sure enough, at length she raised her head, threw me a
glance, and, meeting my eyes, turned away.

“The rain does not seem to stop,” she remarked.

Suddenly a new feeling came over me. I began to feel as though
everything now happening to me was a repetition of some similar
occurrence before--as though on some previous occasion a shower of rain
had begun to fall, and the sun had set behind birch-trees, and I
had been looking at her, and she had been reading aloud, and I had
magnetised her, and she had looked up at me. Yes, all this I seemed to
recall as though it had happened once before.

“Surely she is not--SHE?” was my thought. “Surely IT is not beginning?”
 However, I soon decided that Varenika was not the “SHE” referred to, and
that “it” was not “beginning.” “In the first place,” I said to myself,
“Varenika is not at all BEAUTIFUL. She is just an ordinary girl whose
acquaintance I have made in the ordinary way, whereas the she whom I
shall meet somewhere and some day and in some not ordinary way will
be anything but ordinary. This family pleases me so much only because
hitherto I have never seen anybody. Such things will always be happening
in the future, and I shall see many more such families during my life.”



XXVI. I SHOW OFF

AT tea time the reading came to an end, and the ladies began to talk
among themselves of persons and things unknown to me. This I conceived
them to be doing on purpose to make me conscious (for all their kind
demeanour) of the difference which years and position in the world had
set between them and myself. In general discussions, however, in which I
could take part I sought to atone for my late silence by exhibiting that
extraordinary cleverness and originality to which I felt compelled by
my University uniform. For instance, when the conversation turned upon
country houses, I said that Prince Ivan Ivanovitch had a villa near
Moscow which people came to see even from London and Paris, and that
it contained balustrading which had cost 380,000 roubles. Likewise, I
remarked that the Prince was a very near relation of mine, and that,
when lunching with him the same day, he had invited me to go and spend
the entire summer with him at that villa, but that I had declined, since
I knew the villa well, and had stayed in it more than once, and that all
those balustradings and bridges did not interest me, since I could
not bear ornamental work, especially in the country, where I liked
everything to be wholly countrified. After delivering myself of this
extraordinary and complicated romance, I grew confused, and blushed so
much that every one must have seen that I was lying. Both Varenika, who
was handing me a cup of tea, and Sophia Ivanovna, who had been gazing at
me throughout, turned their heads away, and began to talk of something
else with an expression which I afterwards learnt that good-natured
people assume when a very young man has told them a manifest string of
lies--an expression which says, “Yes, we know he is lying, and why he is
doing it, the poor young fellow!”

What I had said about Prince Ivan Ivanovitch having a country villa, I
had related simply because I could find no other pretext for mentioning
both my relationship to the Prince and the fact that I had been to
luncheon with him that day; yet why I had said all I had about the
balustrading costing 380,000 roubles, and about my having several times
visited the Prince at that villa (I had never once been there--more
especially since the Prince possessed no residences save in Moscow and
Naples, as the Nechludoffs very well knew), I could not possibly tell
you. Neither in childhood nor in adolescence nor in riper years did I
ever remark in myself the vice of falsehood--on the contrary, I was, if
anything, too outspoken and truthful. Yet, during this first stage of
my manhood, I often found myself seized with a strange and unreasonable
tendency to lie in the most desperate fashion. I say advisedly “in the
most desperate fashion,” for the reason that I lied in matters in which
it was the easiest thing in the world to detect me. On the whole I
think that a vain-glorious desire to appear different from what I was,
combined with an impossible hope that the lie would never be found out,
was the chief cause of this extraordinary impulse.

After tea, since the rain had stopped and the after-glow of sunset was
calm and clear, the Princess proposed that we should go and stroll in
the lower garden, and admire her favourite spots there. Following my
rule to be always original, and conceiving that clever people like
myself and the Princess must surely be above the banalities of
politeness, I replied that I could not bear a walk with no object in
view, and that, if I DID walk, I liked to walk alone. I had no idea that
this speech was simply rude; all I thought was that, even as nothing
could be more futile than empty compliments, so nothing could be more
pleasing and original than a little frank brusquerie. However, though
much pleased with my answer, I set out with the rest of the company.

The Princess’s favourite spot of all was at the very bottom of the lower
garden, where a little bridge spanned a narrow piece of swamp. The view
there was very restricted, yet very intimate and pleasing. We are so
accustomed to confound art with nature that, often enough, phenomena of
nature which are never to be met with in pictures seem to us unreal, and
give us the impression that nature is unnatural, or vice versa; whereas
phenomena of nature which occur with too much frequency in pictures seem
to us hackneyed, and views which are to be met with in real life,
but which appear to us too penetrated with a single idea or a single
sentiment, seem to us arabesques. The view from the Princess’s favourite
spot was as follows. On the further side of a small lake, over-grown
with weeds round its edges, rose a steep ascent covered with bushes and
with huge old trees of many shades of green, while, overhanging the lake
at the foot of the ascent, stood an ancient birch tree which, though
partly supported by stout roots implanted in the marshy bank of the
lake, rested its crown upon a tall, straight poplar, and dangled its
curved branches over the smooth surface of the pond--both branches and
the surrounding greenery being reflected therein as in a mirror.

“How lovely!” said the Princess with a nod of her head, and addressing
no one in particular.

“Yes, marvellous!” I replied in my desire to show that had an opinion
of my own on every subject. “Yet somehow it all looks to me so terribly
like a scheme of decoration.”

The Princess went on gazing at the scene as though she had not heard me,
and turning to her sister and Lubov Sergievna at intervals, in order to
point out to them its details--especially a curved, pendent bough, with
its reflection in the water, which particularly pleased her. Sophia
Ivanovna observed to me that it was all very beautiful, and that she and
her sister would sometimes spend hours together at this spot; yet it was
clear that her remarks were meant merely to please the Princess. I have
noticed that people who are gifted with the faculty of loving are
seldom receptive to the beauties of nature. Lubov Sergievna also seemed
enraptured, and asked (among other things), “How does that birch tree
manage to support itself? Has it stood there long?” Yet the next moment
she became absorbed in contemplation of her little dog Susetka, which,
with its stumpy paws pattering to and fro upon the bridge in a mincing
fashion, seemed to say by the expression of its face that this was the
first time it had ever found itself out of doors. As for Dimitri, he
fell to discoursing very logically to his mother on the subject of how
no view can be beautiful of which the horizon is limited. Varenika
alone said nothing. Glancing at her, I saw that she was leaning over
the parapet of the bridge, her profile turned towards me, and gazing
straight in front of her. Something seemed to be interesting her deeply,
or even affecting her, since it was clear that she was oblivious to her
surroundings, and thinking neither of herself nor of the fact that any
one might be regarding her. In the expression of her large eyes there
was nothing but wrapt attention and quiet, concentrated thought, while
her whole attitude seemed so unconstrained and, for all her shortness,
so dignified that once more some recollection or another touched me and
once more I asked myself, “Is IT, then, beginning?” Yet again I assured
myself that I was already in love with Sonetchka, and that Varenika was
only an ordinary girl, the sister of my friend. Though she pleased me at
that moment, I somehow felt a vague desire to show her, by word or deed,
some small unfriendliness.

“I tell you what, Dimitri,” I said to my friend as I moved nearer to
Varenika, so that she might overhear what I was going to say, “it seems
to me that, even if there had been no mosquitos here, there would have
been nothing to commend this spot; whereas “--and here I slapped my
cheek, and in very truth annihilated one of those insects--“it is simply
awful.”

“Then you do not care for nature?” said Varenika without turning her
head.

“I think it a foolish, futile pursuit,” I replied, well satisfied that I
had said something to annoy her, as well as something original. Varenika
only raised her eyebrows a little, with an expression of pity, and went
on gazing in front of her as calmly as before.

I felt vexed with her. Yet, for all that, the rusty, paint-blistered
parapet on which she was leaning, the way in which the dark waters of
the pond reflected the drooping branch of the overhanging birch tree (it
almost seemed to me as though branch and its reflection met), the rising
odour of the swamp, the feeling of crushed mosquito on my cheek, and
her absorbed look and statuesque pose--many times afterwards did these
things recur with unexpected vividness to my recollection.



XXVII. DIMITRI

WHEN we returned to the house from our stroll, Varenika declined to
sing as she usually did in the evenings, and I was conceited enough to
attribute this to my doing, in the belief that its reason lay in what
I had said on the bridge. The Nechludoffs never had supper, and went to
bed early, while to-night, since Dimitri had the toothache (as Sophia
Ivanovna had foretold), he departed with me to his room even earlier
than usual. Feeling that I had done all that was required of me by my
blue collar and gilt buttons, and that every one was very pleased with
me, I was in a gratified, complacent mood, while Dimitri, on the other
hand, was rendered by his quarrel with his sister and the toothache
both taciturn and gloomy. He sat down at the table, got out a couple of
notebooks--a diary and the copy-book in which it was his custom every
evening to inscribe the tasks performed by or awaiting him--and,
continually frowning and touching his cheek with his hand, continued
writing for a while.

“Oh, DO leave me alone!” he cried to the maid whom Sophia Ivanovna sent
to ask him whether his teeth were still hurting him, and whether he
would not like to have a poultice made. Then, saying that my bed would
soon be ready for me and that he would be back presently, he departed to
Lubov Sergievna’s room.

“What a pity that Varenika is not good-looking and, in general,
Sonetchka!” I reflected when I found myself alone. “How nice it would be
if, after I have left the University, I could go to her and offer her
my hand! I would say to her, ‘Princess, though no longer young, and
therefore unable to love passionately, I will cherish you as a dear
sister. And you,’ I would continue to her mother, ‘I greatly respect;
and you, Sophia Ivanovna, I value highly. Therefore say to me, Varenika
(since I ask you to be my wife), just the simple and direct word YES.’
And she would give me her hand, and I should press it, and say, ‘Mine is
a love which depends not upon words, but upon deeds.’ And suppose,”
 next came into my head, “that Dimitri should suddenly fall in love with
Lubotshka (as Lubotshka has already done with him), and should desire to
marry her? Then either one or the other of us would have to resign all
thought of marriage. Well, it would be splendid, for in that case I
should act thus. As soon as I had noticed how things were, I should make
no remark, but go to Dimitri and say, ‘It is no use, my friend, for you
and I to conceal our feelings from one another. You know that my love
for your sister will terminate only with my life. Yet I know all; and
though you have deprived me of all hope, and have rendered me an unhappy
man, so that Nicolas Irtenieff will have to bewail his misery for the
rest of his existence, yet do you take my sister,’ and I should lay
his hand in Lubotshka’s. Then he would say to me, ‘No, not for all the
world!’ and I should reply, ‘Prince Nechludoff, it is in vain for you to
attempt to outdo me in nobility. Not in the whole world does there exist
a more magnanimous being than Nicolas Irtenieff.’ Then I should salute
him and depart. In tears Dimitri and Lubotshka would pursue me, and
entreat me to accept their sacrifice, and I should consent to do so,
and, perhaps, be happy ever afterwards--if only I were in love with
Varenika.” These fancies tickled my imagination so pleasantly that I
felt as though I should like to communicate them to my friend; yet,
despite our mutual vow of frankness, I also felt as though I had not the
physical energy to do so.

Dimitri returned from Lubov Sergievna’s room with some toothache
capsules which she had given him, yet in even greater pain, and
therefore in even greater depression, than before. Evidently no bedroom
had yet been prepared for me, for presently the boy who acted as
Dimitri’s valet arrived to ask him where I was to sleep.

“Oh, go to the devil!” cried Dimitri, stamping his foot. “Vasika,
Vasika, Vasika!” he went on, the instant that the boy had left the room,
with a gradual raising of his voice at each repetition. “Vasika, lay me
out a bed on the floor.”

“No, let ME sleep on the floor,” I objected.

“Well, it is all one. Lie anywhere you like,” continued Dimitri in the
same angry tone. “Vasika, why don’t you go and do what I tell you?”

Evidently Vasika did not understand what was demanded of him, for he
remained where he was.

“What is the matter with you? Go and lay the bed, Vasika, I tell you!”
 shouted Dimitri, suddenly bursting into a sort of frenzy; yet Vasika
still did not understand, but, blushing hotly, stood motionless.

“So you are determined to drive me mad, are you?”--and leaping from his
chair and rushing upon the boy, Dimitri struck him on the head with the
whole weight of his fist, until the boy rushed headlong from the room.
Halting in the doorway, Dimitri glanced at me, and the expression of
fury and pain which had sat for a moment on his countenance suddenly
gave place to such a boyish, kindly, affectionate, yet ashamed,
expression that I felt sorry for him, and reconsidered my intention of
leaving him to himself. He said nothing, but for a long time paced the
room in silence, occasionally glancing at me with the same deprecatory
expression as before. Then he took his notebook from the table, wrote
something in it, took off his jacket and folded it carefully, and,
stepping into the corner where the ikon hung, knelt down and began to
say his prayers, with his large white hands folded upon his breast. So
long did he pray that Vasika had time to bring a mattress and spread it,
under my whispered directions, on the floor. Indeed, I had undressed
and laid myself down upon the mattress before Dimitri had finished. As I
contemplated his slightly rounded back and the soles of his feet (which
somehow seemed to stick out in my direction in a sort of repentant
fashion whenever he made his obeisances), I felt that I liked him more
than ever, and debated within myself whether or not I should tell him
all I had been fancying concerning our respective sisters. When he had
finished his prayers, he lay down upon the bed near me, and, propping
himself upon his elbow, looked at me in silence, with a kindly, yet
abashed, expression. Evidently he found it difficult to do this, yet
meant thus to punish himself. Then I smiled and returned his gaze, and
he smiled back at me.

“Why do you not tell me that my conduct has been abominable?” he said.
“You have been thinking so, have you not?”

“Yes,” I replied; and although it was something quite different which
had been in my mind, it now seemed to me that that was what I had been
thinking. “Yes, it was not right of you, nor should I have expected it
of you.” It pleased me particularly at that moment to call him by the
familiar second person singular. “But how are your teeth now?” I added.

“Oh, much better. Nicolinka, my friend,” he went on, and so feelingly
that it sounded as though tears were standing in his eyes, “I know
and feel that I am bad, but God sees how I try to be better, and how I
entreat Him to make me so. Yet what am I to do with such an unfortunate,
horrible nature as mine? What am I to do with it? I try to keep myself
in hand and to rule myself, but suddenly it becomes impossible for me
to do so--at all events, impossible for me to do so unaided. I need
the help and support of some one. Now, there is Lubov Sergievna; SHE
understands me, and could help me in this, and I know by my notebook
that I have greatly improved in this respect during the past year.
Ah, my dear Nicolinka”--he spoke with the most unusual and unwonted
tenderness, and in a tone which had grown calmer now that he had made
his confession--“how much the influence of a woman like Lubov could do
for me! Think how good it would be for me if I could have a friend like
her to live with when I have become independent! With her I should be
another man.”

And upon that Dimitri began to unfold to me his plans for marriage, for
a life in the country, and for continual self-discipline.

“Yes, I will live in the country,” he said, “and you shall come to see
me when you have married Sonetchka. Our children shall play together.
All this may seem to you stupid and ridiculous, yet it may very well
come to pass.”

“Yes, it very well may” I replied with a smile, yet thinking how much
nicer it would be if I married his sister.

“I tell you what,” he went on presently; “you only imagine yourself to
be in love with Sonetchka, whereas I can see that it is all rubbish, and
that you do not really know what love means.”

I did not protest, for, in truth, I almost agreed with him, and for a
while we lay without speaking.

“Probably you have noticed that I have been in my old bad humour today,
and have had a nasty quarrel with Varia?” he resumed. “I felt bad about
it afterwards--more particularly since it occurred in your presence.
Although she thinks wrongly on some subjects, she is a splendid girl and
very good, as you will soon recognise.”

His quick transition from mention of my love affairs to praise of his
sister pleased me extremely, and made me blush, but I nevertheless said
nothing more about his sister, and we went on talking of other things.

Thus we chattered until the cocks had crowed twice. In fact, the pale
dawn was already looking in at the window when at last Dimitri lay down
upon his bed and put out the candle.

“Well, now for sleep,” he said.

“Yes,” I replied, “but--”

“But what?”

“Now nice it is to be alive in the daylight!”

“Yes, it IS a splendid thing!” he replied in a voice which, even in the
darkness, enabled me to see the expression of his cheerful, kindly eyes
and boyish smile.



XXVIII. IN THE COUNTRY

Next day Woloda and myself departed in a post-chaise for the country.
Turning over various Moscow recollections in my head as we drove along,
I suddenly recalled Sonetchka Valakhin--though not until evening, and
when we had already covered five stages of the road. “It is a strange
thing,” I thought, “that I should be in love, and yet have forgotten all
about it. I must start and think about her,” and straightway I proceeded
to do so, but only in the way that one thinks when travelling--that is
to say, disconnectedly, though vividly. Thus I brought myself to such a
condition that, for the first two days after our arrival home, I somehow
considered it incumbent upon me always to appear sad and moody in the
presence of the household, and especially before Katenka, whom I looked
upon as a great connoisseur in matters of this kind, and to whom I threw
out a hint of the condition in which my heart was situated. Yet, for
all my attempts at dissimulation and assiduous adoption of such signs
of love sickness as I had occasionally observed in other people, I
only succeeded for two days (and that at intervals, and mostly towards
evening) in reminding myself of the fact that I was in love, and
finally, when I had settled down into the new rut of country life and
pursuits, I forgot about my affection for Sonetchka altogether.

We arrived at Petrovskoe in the night time, and I was then so soundly
asleep that I saw nothing of the house as we approached it, nor yet of
the avenue of birch trees, nor yet of the household--all of whom had
long ago betaken themselves to bed and to slumber. Only old hunchbacked
Foka--bare-footed, clad in some sort of a woman’s wadded nightdress, and
carrying a candlestick--opened the door to us. As soon as he saw who
we were, he trembled all over with joy, kissed us on the shoulders,
hurriedly put on his felt slippers, and started to dress himself
properly. I passed in a semi-waking condition through the porch and up
the steps, but in the hall the lock of the door, the bars and bolts,
the crooked boards of the flooring, the chest, the ancient candelabrum
(splashed all over with grease as of old), the shadows thrown by the
crooked, chill, recently-lighted stump of candle, the perennially dusty,
unopened window behind which I remembered sorrel to have grown--all was
so familiar, so full of memories, so intimate of aspect, so, as it were,
knit together by a single idea, that I suddenly became conscious of a
tenderness for this quiet old house. Involuntarily I asked myself,
“How have we, the house and I, managed to remain apart so long?” and,
hurrying from spot to spot, ran to see if all the other rooms were still
the same. Yes, everything was unchanged, except that everything had
become smaller and lower, and I myself taller, heavier, and more filled
out. Yet, even as I was, the old house received me back into its arms,
and aroused in me with every board, every window, every step of the
stairs, and every sound the shadows of forms, feelings, and events of
the happy but irrevocable past. When we entered our old night nursery,
all my childish fears lurked once more in the darkness of the corners
and doorway. When we passed into the drawing-room, I could feel the old
calm motherly love diffusing itself from every object in the apartment.
In the breakfast-room, the noisy, careless merriment of childhood seemed
merely to be waiting to wake to life again. In the divannaia
(whither Foka first conducted us, and where he had prepared our beds)
everything--mirror, screen, old wooden ikon, the lumps on the walls
covered with white paper--seemed to speak of suffering and of death and
of what would never come back to us again.

We got into bed, and Foka, bidding us good-night, retired.

“It was in this room that Mamma died, was it not?” said Woloda.

I made no reply, but pretended to be asleep. If I had said anything I
should have burst into tears. On awaking next morning, I beheld Papa
sitting on Woloda’s bed in his dressing gown and slippers and smoking a
cigar. Leaping up with a merry hoist of the shoulders, he came over to
me, slapped me on the back with his great hand, and presented me his
cheek to press my lips to.

“Well done, DIPLOMAT!” he said in his most kindly jesting tone as he
looked at me with his small bright eyes. “Woloda tells me you have
passed the examinations well for a youngster, and that is a splendid
thing. Unless you start and play the fool, I shall have another fine
little fellow in you. Thanks, my dear boy. Well, we will have a grand
time of it here now, and in the winter, perhaps, we shall move to St.
Petersburg. I only wish the hunting was not over yet, or I could have
given you some amusement in THAT way. Can you shoot, Woldemar? However,
whether there is any game or not, I will take you out some day. Next
winter, if God pleases, we will move to St. Petersburg, and you shall
meet people, and make friends, for you are now my two young grown-ups.
I have been telling Woldemar that you are just starting on your careers,
whereas my day is ended. You are old enough now to walk by yourselves,
but, whenever you wish to confide in me, pray do so, for I am no longer
your nurse, but your friend. At least, I will be your friend and comrade
and adviser as much as I can and more than that I cannot do. How does
that fall in with your philosophy, eh, Koko? Well or ill, eh?”

Of course I said that it fell in with it entirely, and, indeed, I really
thought so. That morning Papa had a particularly winning, bright, and
happy expression on his face, and these new relations between us, as of
equals and comrades, made me love him all the more.

“Now, tell me,” he went on, “did you call upon all our kinsfolk and the
Iwins? Did you see the old man, and what did he say to you? And did you
go to Prince Ivan’s?”

We continued talking so long that, before we were fully dressed, the sun
had left the window of the divannaia, and Jakoff (the same old man who
of yore had twirled his fingers behind his back and always repeated his
words) had entered the room and reported to Papa that the carriage was
ready.

“Where are you going to?” I asked Papa.

“Oh, I had forgotten all about it!” he replied, with a cough and
the usual hoisting of his shoulder. “I promised to go and call upon
Epifanova to-day. You remember Epifanova--‘la belle Flamande’--don’t
you, who used to come and see your Mamma? They are nice people.” And
with a self-conscious shrug of his shoulders (so it appeared to me) Papa
left the room.

During our conversation, Lubotshka had more than once come to the door
and asked “Can I come in?” but Papa had always shouted to her that she
could not do so, since we were not dressed yet.

“What rubbish!” she replied. “Why, I have seen you in your
dressing-gown.”

“Never mind; you cannot see your brothers without their inexpressibles,”
 rejoined Papa. “If they each of them just go to the door, let that be
enough for you. Now go. Even for them to SPEAK to you in such a neglige
costume is unbecoming.”

“How unbearable you are!” was Lubotshka’s parting retort. “Well, at
least hurry up and come down to the drawing-room, for Mimi wants to see
them.”

As soon as Papa had left the room, I hastened to array myself in my
student’s uniform, and to repair to the drawing-room.

Woloda, on the other hand, was in no hurry, but remained sitting on
his bed and talking to Jakoff about the best places to find plover and
snipe. As I have said, there was nothing in the world he so much feared
as to be suspected of any affection for his father, brother, and sister;
so that, to escape any expression of that feeling, he often fell into
the other extreme, and affected a coldness which shocked people who did
not comprehend its cause. In the hall, I collided with Papa, who was
hurrying towards the carriage with short, rapid steps. He had a new and
fashionable Moscow greatcoat on, and smelt of scent. On seeing me, he
gave a cheerful nod, as much as to say, “Do you remark my splendour?”
 and once again I was struck with the happy expression of face which I
had noted earlier in the morning.

The drawing-room looked the same lofty, bright room as of Yore, with its
brown English piano, and its large open windows looking on to the green
trees and yellowish-red paths of the garden. After kissing Mimi and
Lubotshka, I was approaching Katenka for the same purpose when it
suddenly struck me that it might be improper for me to salute her in
that fashion. Accordingly I halted, silent and blushing. Katenka, for
her part, was quite at her ease as she held out a white hand to me and
congratulated me on my passing into the University. The same thing took
place when Woloda entered the drawing-room and met Katenka. Indeed,
it was something of a problem how, after being brought up together and
seeing one another daily, we ought now, after this first separation, to
meet again. Katenka had grown better-looking than any of us, yet Woloda
seemed not at all confused as, with a slight bow to her, he crossed over
to Lubotshka, made a jesting remark to her, and then departed somewhere
on some solitary expedition.



XXIX. RELATIONS BETWEEN THE GIRLS AND OURSELVES

OF the girls Woloda took the strange view that, although he wished that
they should have enough to eat, should sleep well, be well dressed,
and avoid making such mistakes in French as would shame him before
strangers, he would never admit that they could think or feel like human
beings, still less that they could converse with him sensibly about
anything. Whenever they addressed to him a serious question (a thing, by
the way, which he always tried to avoid), such as asking his opinion on
a novel or inquiring about his doings at the University, he invariably
pulled a grimace, and either turned away without speaking or answered
with some nonsensical French phrase--“Comme c’est tres jolie!” or the
like. Or again, feigning to look serious and stolidly wise, he would say
something absolutely meaningless and bearing no relation whatever to the
question asked him, or else suddenly exclaim, with a look of
pretended unconsciousness, the word bulku or poyechali or kapustu,
[Respectively, “roll of butter,” “away,” and “cabbage.”] or something of
the kind; and when, afterwards, I happened to repeat these words to him
as having been told me by Lubotshka or Katenka, he would always remark:

“Hm! So you actually care about talking to them? I can see you are a
duffer still”--and one needed to see and near him to appreciate the
profound, immutable contempt which echoed in this remark. He had been
grown-up now two years, and was in love with every good-looking woman
that he met; yet, despite the fact that he came in daily contact with
Katenka (who during those two years had been wearing long dresses, and
was growing prettier every day), the possibility of his falling in love
with her never seemed to enter his head. Whether this proceeded from the
fact that the prosaic recollections of childhood were still too fresh
in his memory, or whether from the aversion which very young people
feel for everything domestic, or whether from the common human weakness
which, at a first encounter with anything fair and pretty, leads a man
to say to himself, “Ah! I shall meet much more of the same kind during
my life,” but at all events Woloda had never yet looked upon Katenka
with a man’s eyes.

All that summer Woloda appeared to find things very wearisome--a fact
which arose out of that contempt for us all which, as I have said,
he made no effort to conceal. His expression of face seemed to be
constantly saying, “Phew! how it bores me to have no one to speak to!”
 The first thing in the morning he would go out shooting, or sit reading
a book in his room, and not dress until luncheon time. Indeed, if
Papa was not at home, he would take his book into that meal, and go on
reading it without addressing so much as a single word to any one of us,
who felt, somehow, guilty in his presence. In the evening, too, he would
stretch himself on a settee in the drawing-room, and either go to sleep,
propped on his elbow, or tell us farcical stories--sometimes stories so
improper as to make Mimi grow angry and blush, and ourselves die with
laughter. At other times he would not condescend to address a single
serious word to any member of the family except Papa or (occasionally)
myself. Involuntarily I offended against his view of girls, seeing that
I was not so afraid of seeming affectionate as he, and, moreover, had
not such a profound and confirmed contempt for young women. Yet several
times that summer, when driven by lack of amusement to try and engage
Lubotshka and Katenka in conversation, I always encountered in them such
an absence of any capacity for logical thinking, and such an ignorance
of the simplest, most ordinary matters (as, for instance, the nature of
money, the subjects studied at universities, the effect of war, and so
forth), as well as such indifference to my explanations of such matters,
that these attempts of mine only ended in confirming my unfavourable
opinion of feminine ability.

I remember one evening when Lubotshka kept repeating some unbearably
tedious passage on the piano about a hundred times in succession, while
Woloda, who was dozing on a settee in the drawing-room, kept addressing
no one in particular as he muttered, “Lord! how she murders it! WHAT a
musician! WHAT a Beethoven!” (he always pronounced the composer’s name
with especial irony). “Wrong again! Now--a second time! That’s it!”
 and so on. Meanwhile Katenka and I were sitting by the tea-table, and
somehow she began to talk about her favourite subject--love. I was in
the right frame of mind to philosophise, and began by loftily defining
love as the wish to acquire in another what one does not possess in
oneself. To this Katenka retorted that, on the contrary, love is not
love at all if a girl desires to marry a man for his money alone, but
that, in her opinion, riches were a vain thing, and true love only the
affection which can stand the test of separation (this I took to be a
hint concerning her love for Dubkoff). At this point Woloda, who must
have been listening all the time, raised himself on his elbow, and cried
out some rubbish or another; and I felt that he was right.

Apart from the general faculties (more or less developed in different
persons) of intellect, sensibility, and artistic feeling, there also
exists (more or less developed in different circles of society, and
especially in families) a private or individual faculty which I may
call APPREHENSION. The essence of this faculty lies in sympathetic
appreciation of proportion, and in identical understanding of things.
Two individuals who possess this faculty and belong to the same social
circle or the same family apprehend an expression of feeling precisely
to the same point, namely, the point beyond which such expression
becomes mere phrasing. Thus they apprehend precisely where commendation
ends and irony begins, where attraction ends and pretence begins, in a
manner which would be impossible for persons possessed of a different
order of apprehension. Persons possessed of identical apprehension view
objects in an identically ludicrous, beautiful, or repellent light; and
in order to facilitate such identical apprehension between members of
the same social circle or family, they usually establish a language,
turns of speech, or terms to define such shades of apprehension as exist
for them alone. In our particular family such apprehension was common
to Papa, Woloda, and myself, and was developed to the highest pitch,
Dubkoff also approximated to our coterie in apprehension, but Dimitri,
though infinitely more intellectual than Dubkoff, was grosser in this
respect. With no one, however, did I bring this faculty to such a point
as with Woloda, who had grown up with me under identical conditions.
Papa stood a long way from us, and much that was to us as clear as “two
and two make four” was to him incomprehensible. For instance, I and
Woloda managed to establish between ourselves the following terms, with
meanings to correspond. Izium [Raisins.] meant a desire to boast of
one’s money; shishka [Bump or swelling.] (on pronouncing which one had
to join one’s fingers together, and to put a particular emphasis upon
the two sh’s in the word) meant anything fresh, healthy, and comely, but
not elegant; a substantive used in the plural meant an undue partiality
for the object which it denoted; and so forth, and so forth. At the same
time, the meaning depended considerably upon the expression of the
face and the context of the conversation; so that, no matter what new
expression one of us might invent to define a shade of feeling the other
could immediately understand it by a hint alone. The girls did not share
this faculty of apprehension, and herein lay the chief cause of our
moral estrangement, and of the contempt which we felt for them.

It may be that they too had their “apprehension,” but it so little ran
with ours that, where we already perceived the “phrasing,” they still
saw only the feeling--our irony was for them truth, and so on. At that
time I had not yet learnt to understand that they were in no way
to blame for this, and that absence of such apprehension in no way
prevented them from being good and clever girls. Accordingly I looked
down upon them. Moreover, having once lit upon my precious idea of
“frankness,” and being bent upon applying it to the full in myself, I
thought the quiet, confiding nature of Lubotshka guilty of secretiveness
and dissimulation simply because she saw no necessity for digging up and
examining all her thoughts and instincts. For instance, the fact that
she always signed the sign of the cross over Papa before going to bed,
that she and Katenka invariably wept in church when attending requiem
masses for Mamma, and that Katenka sighed and rolled her eyes about when
playing the piano--all these things seemed to me sheer make-believe, and
I asked myself: “At what period did they learn to pretend like grown-up
people, and how can they bring themselves to do it?”



XXX. HOW I EMPLOYED MY TIME

Nevertheless, the fact that that summer I developed a passion for music
caused me to become better friends with the ladies of our household
than I had been for years. In the spring, a young fellow came to see us,
armed with a letter of introduction, who, as soon as ever he entered the
drawing-room, fixed his eyes upon the piano, and kept gradually
edging his chair closer to it as he talked to Mimi and Katenka. After
discoursing awhile of the weather and the amenities of country life, he
skilfully directed the conversation to piano-tuners, music, and pianos
generally, and ended by saying that he himself played--and in truth
he did sit down and perform three waltzes, with Mimi, Lubotshka, and
Katenka grouped about the instrument, and watching him as he did so. He
never came to see us again, but his playing, and his attitude when at
the piano, and the way in which he kept shaking his long hair, and, most
of all, the manner in which he was able to execute octaves with his left
hand as he first of all played them rapidly with his thumb and little
finger, and then slowly closed those members, and then played the
octaves afresh, made a great impression upon me. This graceful gesture
of his, together with his easy pose and his shaking of hair and
successful winning of the ladies’ applause by his talent, ended by
firing me to take up the piano. Convinced that I possessed both talent
and a passion for music, I set myself to learn, and, in doing so, acted
just as millions of the male--still more, of the female--sex have done
who try to teach themselves without a skilled instructor, without any
real turn for the art, or without the smallest understanding either of
what the art can give or of what ought to be done to obtain that gift.
For me music (or rather, piano-playing) was simply a means of winning
the ladies’ good graces through their sensibility. With the help of
Katenka I first learnt the notes (incidentally breaking several of them
with my clumsy fingers), and then--that is to say, after two months of
hard work, supplemented by ceaseless twiddling of my rebellious fingers
on my knees after luncheon, and on the pillow when in bed--went on to
“pieces,” which I played (so Katenka assured me) with “soul” (“avec
ame”), but altogether regardless of time.

My range of pieces was the usual one--waltzes, galops, “romances,”
 “arrangements,” etcetera; all of them of the class of delightful
compositions of which any one with a little healthy taste could point
out a selection among the better class works contained in any volume
of music and say, “These are what you ought NOT to play, seeing that
anything worse, less tasteful, and more silly has never yet been
included in any collection of music,”--but which (probably for that very
reason) are to be found on the piano of every Russian lady. True, we
also possessed an unfortunate volume which contained Beethoven’s “Sonate
Pathetique” and the C minor Sonata (a volume lamed for life by the
ladies--more especially by Lubotshka, who used to discourse music from
it in memory of Mamma), as well as certain other good pieces which her
teacher in Moscow had given her; but among that collection there were
likewise compositions of the teacher’s own, in the shape of clumsy
marches and galops--and these too Lubotshka used to play! Katenka and
I cared nothing for serious works, but preferred, above all things, “Le
Fou” and “The Nightingale”--the latter of which Katenka would play until
her fingers almost became invisible, and which I too was beginning to
execute with much vigour and some continuity. I had adopted the gestures
of the young man of whom I have spoken, and frequently regretted that
there were no strangers present to see me play. Soon, however, I began
to realise that Liszt and Kalkbrenner were beyond me, and that I should
never overtake Katenka. Accordingly, imagining that classical music was
easier (as well as, partly, for the sake of originality), I suddenly
came to the conclusion that I loved abstruse German music. I began to
go into raptures whenever Lubotshka played the “Sonate Pathetique,” and
although (if the truth be told) that work had for years driven me to the
verge of distraction, I set myself to play Beethoven, and to talk of him
as “Beethoven.” Yet through all this chopping and changing and pretence
(as I now conceive) there may have run in me a certain vein of talent,
since music sometimes affected me even to tears, and things which
particularly pleased me I could strum on the piano afterwards (in a
certain fashion) without the score; so that, had any one taught me at
that period to look upon music as an end, a grace, in itself, and
not merely as a means for pleasing womenfolk with the velocity and
pseudo-sentiment of one’s playing, I might possibly have become a
passable musician.

The reading of French novels (of which Woloda had brought a large store
with him from Moscow) was another of my amusements that summer. At that
period Monte Cristo and Taine’s works had just appeared, while I also
revelled in stories by Sue, Dumas, and Paul de Kock. Even their most
unnatural personages and events were for me as real as actuality, and
not only was I incapable of suspecting an author of lying, but, in
my eyes, there existed no author at all. That is to say, the various
personages and events of a book paraded themselves before me on the
printed page as personages and events that were alive and real; and
although I had never in my life met such characters as I there read
about, I never for a second doubted that I should one day do so. I
discovered in myself all the passions described in every novel, as
well as a likeness to all the characters--heroes and villains
impartially--who figured therein, just as a suspicious man finds in
himself the signs of every possible disease when reading a book on
medicine. I took pleasure both in the cunning designs, the glowing
sentiments, the tumultuous events, and the character-drawing of these
works. A good man was of the goodness, a bad man of the badness,
possible only to the imagination of early youth. Likewise I found great
pleasure in the fact that it was all written in French, and that I could
lay to heart the fine words which the fine heroes spoke, and recall them
for use some day when engaged in some noble deed. What quantities of
French phrases I culled from those books for Kolpikoff’s benefit if I
should ever meet him again, as well as for HERS, when at length I should
find her and reveal to her my love! For them both I prepared speeches
which should overcome them as soon as spoken! Upon novels, too, I
founded new ideals of the moral qualities which I wished to attain.
First of all, I wished to be NOBLE in all my deeds and conduct (I use
the French word noble instead of the Russian word blagorodni for the
reason that the former has a different meaning to the latter--as
the Germans well understood when they adopted noble as nobel and
differentiated it from ehrlich); next, to be strenuous; and lastly,
to be what I was already inclined to be, namely, comme il faut. I even
tried to approximate my appearance and bearing to that of the heroes who
possessed these qualities. In particular I remember how in one of the
hundred or so novels which I read that summer there was a very strenuous
hero with heavy eyebrows, and that I so greatly wished to resemble him
(I felt that I did so already from a moral point of view) that one
day, when looking at my eyebrows in the glass, I conceived the idea of
clipping them, in order to make them grow bushier. Unfortunately, after
I had started to do so, I happened to clip one spot rather shorter than
the rest, and so had to level down the rest to it-with the result
that, to my horror, I beheld myself eyebrow-less, and anything but
presentable. However, I comforted myself with the reflection that my
eyebrows would soon sprout again as bushy as my hero’s, and was only
perplexed to think how I could explain the circumstance to the household
when they next perceived my eyebrow-less condition. Accordingly I
borrowed some gunpowder from Woloda, rubbed it on my temples, and set
it alight. The powder did not fire properly, but I succeeded in singeing
myself sufficiently to avert all suspicion of my pranks. And, indeed,
afterwards, when I had forgotten all about my hero, my eyebrows grew
again, and much thicker than they had been before.



XXXI. “COMME IL FAUT”

SEVERAL times in the course of this narrative I have hinted at an idea
corresponding to the above French heading, and now feel it incumbent
upon me to devote a whole chapter to that idea, which was one of the
most ruinous, lying notions which ever became engrafted upon my life by
my upbringing and social milieu.

The human race may be divided into several categories--rich and poor,
good and bad, military and civilian, clever and stupid, and so forth,
and so forth. Yet each man has his own favourite, fundamental system of
division which he unconsciously uses to class each new person with
whom he meets. At the time of which I am speaking, my own favourite,
fundamental system of division in this respect was into people “comme il
faut” and people “comme il ne faut pas”--the latter subdivided, again,
into people merely not “comme il faut” and the lower orders. People
“comme il faut” I respected, and looked upon as worthy to consort with
me as my equals; the second of the above categories I pretended merely
to despise, but in reality hated, and nourished towards them a kind
of feeling of offended personality; while the third category had no
existence at all, so far as I was concerned, since my contempt for
them was too complete. This “comme il faut”-ness of mine lay, first and
foremost, in proficiency in French, especially conversational French. A
person who spoke that language badly at once aroused in me a feeling of
dislike. “Why do you try to talk as we do when you haven’t a notion how
to do it?” I would seem to ask him with my most venomous and quizzing
smile. The second condition of “comme il faut"-ness was long nails
that were well kept and clean; the third, ability to bow, dance,
and converse; the fourth--and a very important one--indifference to
everything, and a constant air of refined, supercilious ennui. Moreover,
there were certain general signs which, I considered, enabled me
to tell, without actually speaking to a man, the class to which he
belonged. Chief among these signs (the others being the fittings of his
rooms, his gloves, his handwriting, his turn-out, and so forth) were his
feet. The relation of boots to trousers was sufficient to determine, in
my eyes, the social status of a man. Heelless boots with angular toes,
wedded to narrow, unstrapped trouser-ends--these denoted the vulgarian.
Boots with narrow, round toes and heels, accompanied either by tight
trousers strapped under the instep and fitting close to the leg or by
wide trousers similarly strapped, but projecting in a peak over the
toe--these meant the man of mauvais genre; and so on, and so on.

It was a curious thing that I who lacked all ability to become “comme il
faut,” should have assimilated the idea so completely as I did. Possibly
it was the fact that it had cost me such enormous labour to acquire that
brought about its strenuous development in my mind. I hardly like to
think how much of the best and most valuable time of my first sixteen
years of existence I wasted upon its acquisition. Yet every one whom I
imitated--Woloda, Dubkoff, and the majority of my acquaintances--seemed
to acquire it easily. I watched them with envy, and silently toiled to
become proficient in French, to bow gracefully and without looking at
the person whom I was saluting, to gain dexterity in small-talk and
dancing, to cultivate indifference and ennui, and to keep my fingernails
well trimmed (though I frequently cut my finger-ends with the scissors
in so doing). And all the time I felt that so much remained to be done
if I was ever to attain my end! A room, a writing-table, an equipage
I still found it impossible to arrange “comme il faut,” however much
I fought down my aversion to practical matters in my desire to become
proficient. Yet everything seemed to arrange itself properly with other
people, just as though things could never have been otherwise! Once I
remember asking Dubkoff, after much zealous and careful labouring at my
finger-nails (his own were extraordinarily good), whether his nails had
always been as now, or whether he had done anything to make them so: to
which he replied that never within his recollection had he done anything
to them, and that he could not imagine a gentleman’s nails possibly
being different. This answer incensed me greatly, for I had not yet
learnt that one of the chief conditions of “comme il faut"-ness was to
hold one’s tongue about the labour by which it had been acquired.
“Comme il faut"-ness I looked upon as not only a great merit, a splendid
accomplishment, an embodiment of all the perfection which must strive to
attain, but as the one indispensable condition without which there could
never be happiness, nor glory, nor any good whatsoever in this world.
Even the greatest artist or savant or benefactor of the human race would
at that time have won from me no respect if he had not also been “comme
il faut.” A man possessed of “comme il faut"-ness stood higher than, and
beyond all possible equality with, such people, and might well leave it
to them to paint pictures, to compose music, to write books, or to do
good. Possibly he might commend them for so doing (since why should not
merit be commended where-ever it be found?), but he could never stand
ON A LEVEL with them, seeing that he was “comme il faut” and they were
not--a quite final and sufficient reason. In fact, I actually believe
that, had we possessed a brother or a father or a mother who had not
been “comme il faut,” I should have declared it to be a great misfortune
for us, and announced that between myself and them there could never
be anything in common. Yet neither waste of the golden hours which
I consumed in constantly endeavouring to observe the many arduous,
unattainable conditions of “comme il faut"-ness (to the exclusion of any
more serious pursuit), nor dislike of and contempt for nine-tenths of
the human race, nor disregard of all the beauty that lay outside the
narrow circle of “comme il faut"-ness comprised the whole of the evil
which the idea wrought in me. The chief evil of all lay in the notion
acquired that a man need not strive to become a tchinovnik, [Official.]
a coachbuilder, a soldier, a savant, or anything useful, so long only
as he was “comme il faut “--that by attaining the latter quality he had
done all that was demanded of him, and was even superior to most people.

Usually, at a given period in youth, and after many errors and excesses,
every man recognises the necessity of his taking an active part in
social life, and chooses some branch of labour to which to devote
himself. Only with the “comme il faut” man does this rarely happen.
I have known, and know, very, very many people--old, proud,
self-satisfied, and opinionated--who to the question (if it should ever
present itself to them in their world) “Who have you been, and what have
you ever done?” would be unable to reply otherwise than by saying,

“Je fus un homme tres comme il faut,”

Such a fate was awaiting myself.



XXXII. YOUTH

Despite the confusion of ideas raging in my head, I was at least young,
innocent, and free that summer--consequently almost happy.

Sometimes I would rise quite early in the morning, for I slept on the
open verandah, and the bright, horizontal beams of the morning sun would
wake me up. Dressing myself quickly, I would tuck a towel and a French
novel under my arm, and go off to bathe in the river in the shade of
a birch tree which stood half a verst from the house. Next, I would
stretch myself on the grass and read--raising my eyes from time to time
to look at the surface of the river where it showed blue in the shade
of the trees, at the ripples caused by the first morning breeze, at the
yellowing field of rye on the further bank, and at the bright-red sheen
of the sunlight as it struck lower and lower down the white trunks of
the birch-trees which, ranged in ranks one behind the other, gradually
receded into the remote distance of the home park. At such moments I
would feel joyously conscious of having within me the same young, fresh
force of life as nature was everywhere exuding around me. When, however,
the sky was overcast with grey clouds of morning and I felt chilly after
bathing, I would often start to walk at random through the fields and
woods, and joyously trail my wet boots in the fresh dew. All the while
my head would be filled with vivid dreams concerning the heroes of my
last-read novel, and I would keep picturing to myself some leader of an
army or some statesman or marvellously strong man or devoted lover or
another, and looking round me in, a nervous expectation that I should
suddenly descry HER somewhere near me, in a meadow or behind a tree.
Yet, whenever these rambles led me near peasants engaged at their work,
all my ignoring of the existence of the “common people” did not
prevent me from experiencing an involuntary, overpowering sensation of
awkwardness; so that I always tried to avoid their seeing me. When the
heat of the day had increased, it was not infrequently my habit--if the
ladies did not come out of doors for their morning tea--to go rambling
through the orchard and kitchen-garden, and to pluck ripe fruit there.
Indeed, this was an occupation which furnished me with one of my
greatest pleasures. Let any one go into an orchard, and dive into the
midst of a tall, thick, sprouting raspberry-bed. Above will be seen the
clear, glowing sky, and, all around, the pale-green, prickly stems
of raspberry-trees where they grow mingled together in a tangle of
profusion. At one’s feet springs the dark-green nettle, with its slender
crown of flowers, while the broad-leaved burdock, with its bright-pink,
prickly blossoms, overtops the raspberries (and even one’s head) with
its luxuriant masses, until, with the nettle, it almost meets the
pendent, pale-green branches of the old apple-trees where apples, round
and lustrous as bone, but as yet unripe, are mellowing in the heat
of the sun. Below, again, are seen young raspberry-shoots, twining
themselves around the partially withered, leafless parent plant,
and stretching their tendrils towards the sunlight, with green,
needle-shaped blades of grass and young, dew-coated pods peering through
last year’s leaves, and growing juicily green in the perennial shade, as
though they care nothing for the bright sunshine which is playing on the
leaves of the apple-trees above them. In this density there is always
moisture--always a smell of confined, perpetual shade, of cobwebs,
fallen apples (turning black where they roll on the mouldy sod),
raspberries, and earwigs of the kind which impel one to reach hastily
for more fruit when one has inadvertently swallowed a member of that
insect tribe with the last berry. At every step one’s movements keep
flushing the sparrows which always make their home in these depths, and
one hears their fussy chirping and the beating of their tiny, fluttering
wings against the stalks, and catches the low buzzing of a bumble bee
somewhere, and the sound of the gardener’s footsteps (it is half-daft
Akim) on the path as he hums his eternal sing-song to himself. Then one
mutters under one’s breath, “No! Neither he nor any one else shall
find me here!” yet still one goes on stripping juicy berries from their
conical white pilasters, and cramming them into one’s mouth. At length,
one’s legs soaked to the knees as one repeats, over and over again, some
rubbish which keeps running in one’s head, and one’s hands and nether
limbs (despite the protection of one’s wet trousers) thoroughly stung
with the nettles, one comes to the conclusion that the sun’s rays
are beating too straight upon one’s head for eating to be any longer
desirable, and, sinking down into the tangle of greenery, one remains
there--looking and listening, and continuing in mechanical fashion to
strip off one or two of the finer berries and swallow them.

At eleven o’clock--that is to say, when the ladies had taken their
morning tea and settled down to their occupations--I would repair to
the drawing-room. Near the first window, with its unbleached linen blind
lowered to exclude the sunshine, but through the chink of which the sun
kept throwing brilliant circles of light which hurt the eye to look at
them, there would be standing a screen, with flies quietly parading the
whiteness of its covering. Behind it would be seated Mimi, shaking her
head in an irritable manner, and constantly shifting from spot to spot
to avoid the sunshine as at intervals it darted her from somewhere and
laid a streak of flame upon her hand or face. Through the other three
windows the sun would be throwing three squares of light, crossed with
the shadows of the window-frames, and where one of these patches marked
the unstained floor of the room there would be lying, in accordance with
invariable custom, Milka, with her ears pricked as she watched the flies
promenading the lighted space. Seated on a settee, Katenka would be
knitting or reading aloud as from time to time she gave her white
sleeves (looking almost transparent in the sunshine) an impatient shake,
or tossed her head with a frown to drive away some fly which had settled
upon her thick auburn hair and was now buzzing in its tangles. Lubotshka
would either be walking up and down the room (her hands clasped behind
her) until the moment should arrive when a movement would be made
towards the garden, or playing some piece of which every note had long
been familiar to me. For my own part, I would sit down somewhere, and
listen to the music or the reading until such time as I myself should
have an opportunity of performing on the piano. After luncheon I would
condescend to take the girls out riding (since to go for a mere walk
at that hour seemed to me unsuitable to my years and position in
the world), and these excursions of ours--in which I often took my
companions through unaccustomed spots and dells--were very pleasant.
Indeed, on some of these occasions I grew quite boyish, and the
girls would praise my riding and daring, and pretend that I was their
protector. In the evening, if we had no guests with us, tea (served in
the dim verandah), would be followed by a walk round the homestead with
Papa, and then I would stretch myself on my usual settee, and read and
ponder as of old, as I listened to Katenka or Lubotshka playing. At
other times, if I was alone in the drawing-room and Lubotshka was
performing some old-time air, I would find myself laying my book down,
and gazing through the open doorway on to the balcony at the pendent,
sinuous branches of the tall birch-trees where they stood overshadowed
by the coming night, and at the clear sky where, if one looked at it
intently enough, misty, yellowish spots would appear suddenly, and then
disappear again. Next, as I listened to the sounds of the music wafted
from the salon, and to the creaking of gates and the voices of the
peasant women when the cattle returned to the village, I would suddenly
bethink me of Natalia Savishna and of Mamma and of Karl Ivanitch, and
become momentarily sad. But in those days my spirit was so full of life
and hope that such reminiscences only touched me in passing, and soon
fled away again.

After supper and (sometimes) a night stroll with some one in the garden
(for I was afraid to walk down the dark avenues by myself), I would
repair to my solitary sleeping-place on the verandah--a proceeding
which, despite the countless mosquitos which always devoured me,
afforded me the greatest pleasure. If the moon was full, I frequently
spent whole nights sitting up on my mattress, looking at the light and
shade, listening to the sounds or stillness, dreaming of one matter
and another (but more particularly of the poetic, voluptuous happiness
which, in those days, I believed was to prove the acme of my felicity)
and lamenting that until now it had only been given to me to IMAGINE
things. No sooner had every one dispersed, and I had seen lights pass
from the drawing-room to the upper chambers (whence female voices would
presently be heard, and the noise of windows opening and shutting), than
I would depart to the verandah, and walk up and down there as I listened
attentively to the sounds from the slumbering mansion. To this day,
whenever I feel any expectation (no matter how small and baseless) of
realising a fraction of some happiness of which I may be dreaming, I
somehow invariably fail to picture to myself what the imagined happiness
is going to be like.

At the least sound of bare footsteps, or of a cough, or of a snore, or
of the rattling of a window, or of the rustling of a dress, I would
leap from my mattress, and stand furtively gazing and listening, thrown,
without any visible cause, into extreme agitation. But the lights would
disappear from the upper rooms, the sounds of footsteps and talking give
place to snores, the watchman begin his nightly tapping with his stick,
the garden grow brighter and more mysterious as the streaks of light
vanished from the windows, the last candle pass from the pantry to the
hall (throwing a glimmer into the dewy garden as it did so), and the
stooping figure of Foka (decked in a nightcap, and carrying the candle)
become visible to my eyes as he went to his bed. Often I would find
a great and fearful pleasure in stealing over the grass, in the black
shadow of the house, until I had reached the hall window, where I would
stand listening with bated breath to the snoring of the boy, to Foka’s
gruntings (in the belief that no one heard him), and to the sound of his
senile voice as he drawled out the evening prayers. At length even his
candle would be extinguished, and the window slammed down, so that I
would find myself utterly alone; whereupon, glancing nervously from
side to side, lest haply I should see the white woman standing near
a flower-bed or by my couch, I would run at full speed back to the
verandah. Then, and only then, I would lie down with my face to
the garden, and, covering myself over, so far as possible, from the
mosquitos and bats, fall to gazing in front of me as I listened to the
sounds of the night and dreamed of love and happiness.

At such times everything would take on for me a different meaning. The
look of the old birch trees, with the one side of their curling branches
showing bright against the moonlit sky, and the other darkening the
bushes and carriage-drive with their black shadows; the calm, rich
glitter of the pond, ever swelling like a sound; the moonlit sparkle
of the dewdrops on the flowers in front of the verandah; the graceful
shadows of those flowers where they lay thrown upon the grey stonework;
the cry of a quail on the far side of the pond; the voice of some one
walking on the high road; the quiet, scarcely audible scrunching of two
old birch trees against one another; the humming of a mosquito at my car
under the coverlet; the fall of an apple as it caught against a
branch and rustled among the dry leaves; the leapings of frogs as they
approached almost to the verandah-steps and sat with the moon shining
mysteriously on their green backs--all these things took on for me a
strange significance--a significance of exceeding beauty and of infinite
love. Before me would rise SHE, with long black tresses and a high bust,
but always mournful in her fairness, with bare hands and voluptuous
arms. She loved me, and for one moment of her love I would sacrifice
my whole life!--But the moon would go on rising higher and higher, and
shining brighter and brighter, in the heavens; the rich sparkle of the
pond would swell like a sound, and become ever more and more brilliant,
while the shadows would grow blacker and blacker, and the sheen of the
moon more and more transparent: until, as I looked at and listened to
all this, something would say to me that SHE with the bare hands and
voluptuous arms did not represent ALL happiness, that love for her
did not represent ALL good; so that, the more I gazed at the full,
high-riding moon, the higher would true beauty and goodness appear to me
to lie, and the purer and purer they would seem--the nearer and nearer
to Him who is the source of all beauty and all goodness. And tears of a
sort of unsatisfied, yet tumultuous, joy would fill my eyes.

Always, too, I was alone; yet always, too, it seemed to me that,
although great, mysterious Nature could draw the shining disc of the
moon to herself, and somehow hold in some high, indefinite place the
pale-blue sky, and be everywhere around me, and fill of herself the
infinity of space, while I was but a lowly worm, already defiled with
the poor, petty passions of humanity--always it seemed to me that,
nevertheless, both Nature and the moon and I were one.



XXXIII. OUR NEIGHBOURS

ON the first day after our arrival, I had been greatly astonished that
Papa should speak of our neighbours, the Epifanovs, as “nice people,”
 and still more so that he should go to call upon them. The fact was that
we had long been at law over some land with this family. When a child,
I had more than once heard Papa raging over the litigation, abusing
the Epifanovs, and warning people (so I understood him) against them.
Likewise, I had heard Jakoff speak of them as “our enemies” and “black
people” and could remember Mamma requesting that their names should
never be mentioned in her presence, nor, indeed, in the house at all.

From these data I, as a child, had arrived at the clear and assured
conviction that the Epifanovs were foemen of ours who would at any time
stab or strangle both Papa and his sons if they should ever come across
them, as well as that they were “black people”, in the literal sense of
the term. Consequently, when, in the year that Mamma died, I chanced to
catch sight of Avdotia (“La Belle Flamande”) on the occasion of a visit
which she paid to my mother, I found it hard to believe that she did
not come of a family of negroes. All the same, I had the lowest possible
opinion of the family, and, for all that we saw much of them that
summer, continued to be strongly prejudiced against them. As a matter
of fact, their household only consisted of the mother (a widow of fifty,
but a very well-preserved, cheery old woman), a beautiful daughter named
Avdotia, and a son, Peter, who was a stammerer, unmarried, and of very
serious disposition.

For the last twenty years before her husband’s death, Madame Epifanov
had lived apart from him--sometimes in St. Petersburg, where she had
relatives, but more frequently at her village of Mitishtchi, which
stood some three versts from ours. Yet the neighbourhood had taken
to circulating such horrible tales concerning her mode of life that
Messalina was, by comparison, a blameless child: which was why my mother
had requested her name never to be mentioned. As a matter of fact,
not one-tenth part of the most cruel of all gossip--the gossip of
country-houses--is worthy of credence; and although, when I first made
Madame’s acquaintance, she had living with her in the house a clerk
named Mitusha, who had been promoted from a serf, and who, curled,
pomaded, and dressed in a frockcoat of Circassian pattern, always stood
behind his mistress’s chair at luncheon, while from time to time she
invited her guests to admire his handsome eyes and mouth, there was
nothing for gossip to take hold of. I believe, too, that since the
time--ten years earlier--when she had recalled her dutiful son Peter
from the service, she had wholly changed her mode of living. It seems
her property had never been a large one--merely a hundred souls or
so--[This refers, of course, to the days of serfdom.]and that during her
previous life of gaiety she had spent a great deal. Consequently,
when, some ten years ago, those portions of the property which had been
mortgaged and re-mortgaged had been foreclosed upon and compulsorily
sold by auction, she had come to the conclusion that all these
unpleasant details of distress upon and valuation of her property had
been due not so much to failure to pay the interest as to the fact that
she was a woman: wherefore she had written to her son (then serving with
his regiment) to come and save his mother from her embarrassments, and
he, like a dutiful son--conceiving that his first duty was to comfort
his mother in her old age--had straightway resigned his commission (for
all that he had been doing well in his profession, and was hoping soon
to become independent), and had come to join her in the country.

Despite his plain face, uncouth demeanour, and fault of stuttering,
Peter was a man of unswerving principles and of the most extraordinary
good sense. Somehow--by small borrowings, sundry strokes of business,
petitions for grace, and promises to repay--he contrived to carry on the
property, and, making himself overseer, donned his father’s greatcoat
(still preserved in a drawer), dispensed with horses and carriages,
discouraged guests from calling at Mitishtchi, fashioned his own
sleighs, increased his arable land and curtailed that of the serfs,
felled his own timber, sold his produce in person, and saw to matters
generally. Indeed, he swore, and kept his oath, that, until all
outstanding debts were paid, he would never wear any clothes than his
father’s greatcoat and a corduroy jacket which he had made for himself,
nor yet ride in aught but a country waggon, drawn by peasants’ horses.
This stoical mode of life he sought to apply also to his family, so far
as the sympathetic respect which he conceived to be his mother’s due
would allow of; so that, although, in the drawing-room, he would show
her only stuttering servility, and fulfil all her wishes, and blame any
one who did not do precisely as she bid them, in his study or his
office he would overhaul the cook if she had served up so much as a
duck without his orders, or any one responsible for sending a serf (even
though at Madame’s own bidding) to inquire after a neighbour’s health
or for despatching the peasant girls into the wood to gather wild
raspberries instead of setting them to weed the kitchen-garden.

Within four years every debt had been repaid, and Peter had gone to
Moscow and returned thence in a new jacket and tarantass. [A two-wheeled
carriage.] Yet, despite this flourishing position of affairs, he still
preserved the stoical tendencies in which, to tell the truth, he took
a certain vague pride before his family and strangers, since he would
frequently say with a stutter: “Any one who REALLY wishes to see me
will be glad to see me even in my dressing-gown, and to eat nothing but
shtchi [Cabbage-soup.] and kasha [Buckwheat gruel.] at my table.” “That
is what I eat myself,” he would add. In his every word and movement
spoke pride based upon a consciousness of having sacrificed himself for
his mother and redeemed the property, as well as contempt for any one
who had not done something of the same kind.

The mother and daughter were altogether different characters from Peter,
as well as altogether different from one another. The former was one of
the most agreeable, uniformly good-tempered, and cheerful women whom one
could possibly meet. Anything attractive and genuinely happy delighted
her. Even the faculty of being pleased with the sight of young people
enjoying themselves (it is only in the best-natured of elderly folk that
one meets with that TRAIT) she possessed to the full. On the other
hand, her daughter was of a grave turn of mind. Rather, she was of that
peculiarly careless, absent-minded, gratuitously distant bearing which
commonly distinguishes unmarried beauties. Whenever she tried to be gay,
her gaiety somehow seemed to be unnatural to her, so that she always
appeared to be laughing either at herself or at the persons to whom she
was speaking or at the world in general--a thing which, possibly, she
had no real intention of doing. Often I asked myself in astonishment
what she could mean when she said something like, “Yes, I know how
terribly good-looking I am,” or, “Of course every one is in love with
me,” and so forth. Her mother was a person always busy, since she had
a passion for housekeeping, gardening, flowers, canaries, and pretty
trinkets. Her rooms and garden, it is true, were small and poorly
fitted-up, yet everything in them was so neat and methodical, and bore
such a general air of that gentle gaiety which one hears expressed in
a waltz or polka, that the word “toy” by which guests often expressed
their praise of it all exactly suited her surroundings. She herself
was a “toy”--being petite, slender, fresh-coloured, small, and
pretty-handed, and invariably gay and well-dressed. The only fault in
her was that a slight over-prominence of the dark-blue veins on her
little hands rather marred the general effect of her appearance. On the
other hand, her daughter scarcely ever did anything at all. Not only had
she no love for trifling with flowers and trinkets, but she neglected
her personal exterior, and only troubled to dress herself well when
guests happened to call. Yet, on returning to the room in society
costume, she always looked extremely handsome--save for that cold,
uniform expression of eyes and smile which is common to all beauties. In
fact, her strictly regular, beautiful face and symmetrical figure always
seemed to be saying to you, “Yes, you may look at me.”

At the same time, for all the mother’s liveliness of disposition and the
daughter’s air of indifference and abstraction, something told one that
the former was incapable of feeling affection for anything that was
not pretty and gay, but that Avdotia, on the contrary, was one of those
natures which, once they love, are willing to sacrifice their whole life
for the man they adore.



XXXIV. MY FATHER’S SECOND MARRIAGE

MY father was forty-eight when he took as his second wife Avdotia
Vassilievna Epifanov.

I suspect that when, that spring, he had departed for the country with
the girls, he had been in that communicatively happy, sociable mood in
which gamblers usually find themselves who have retired from play after
winning large stakes. He had felt that he still had a fortune left to
him which, so long as he did not squander it on gaming, might be
used for our advancement in life. Moreover, it was springtime, he was
unexpectedly well supplied with ready money, he was alone, and he had
nothing to do. As he conversed with Jakoff on various matters, and
remembered both the interminable suit with the Epifanovs and Avdotia’s
beauty (it was a long while since he had seen her), I can imagine him
saying: “How do you think we ought to act in this suit, Jakoff? My idea
is simply to let the cursed land go. Eh? What do you think about it?”
 I can imagine, too, how, thus interrogated, Jakoff twirled his fingers
behind his back in a deprecatory sort of way, and proceeded to argue
that it all the same, “Peter Alexandritch, we are in the right.”
 Nevertheless, I further conjecture, Papa ordered the dogcart to be got
ready, put on his fashionable olive-coloured driving-coat, brushed up
the remnants of his hair, sprinkled his clothes with scent, and, greatly
pleased to think that he was acting a la seignior (as well as, even
more, revelling in the prospect of soon seeing a pretty woman), drove
off to visit his neighbours.

I can imagine, too, that when the flustered housemaid ran to inform
Peter Vassilievitch that Monsieur Irtenieff himself had called, Peter
answered angrily, “Well, what has he come for?” and, stepping softly
about the house, first went into his study to put on his old soiled
jacket, and then sent down word to the cook that on no account
whatever--no, not even if she were ordered to do so by the mistress
herself--was she to add anything to luncheon.

Since, later, I often saw Papa with Peter, I can form a very good idea
of this first interview between them. I can imagine that, despite Papa’s
proposal to end the suit in a peaceful manner, Peter was morose and
resentful at the thought of having sacrificed his career to his mother,
and at Papa having done nothing of the kind--a by no means surprising
circumstance, Peter probably said to himself. Next, I can see Papa
taking no notice of this ill-humour, but cracking quips and jests, while
Peter gradually found himself forced to treat him as a humorist with
whom he felt offended one moment and inclined to be reconciled the next.
Indeed, with his instinct for making fun of everything, Papa often used
to address Peter as “Colonel;” and though I can remember Peter once
replying, with an unusually violent stutter and his face scarlet
with indignation, that he had never been a c-c-colonel, but only a
l-l-lieutenant, Papa called him “Colonel” again before another five
minutes were out.

Lubotshka told me that, up to the time of Woloda’s and my arrival from
Moscow, there had been daily meetings with the Epifanovs, and that
things had been very lively, since Papa, who had a genius for arranging,
everything with a touch of originality and wit, as well as in a simple
and refined manner, had devised shooting and fishing parties and
fireworks for the Epifanovs’ benefit. All these festivities--so said
Lubotshka--would have gone off splendidly but for the intolerable Peter,
who had spoilt everything by his puffing and stuttering. After our
coming, however, the Epifanovs only visited us twice, and we went once
to their house, while after St. Peter’s Day (on which, it being Papa’s
nameday, the Epifanovs called upon us in common with a crowd of other
guests) our relations with that family came entirely to an end, and, in
future, only Papa went to see them.

During the brief period when I had opportunities of seeing Papa and
Dunetchka (as her mother called Avdotia) together, this is what I
remarked about them. Papa remained unceasingly in the same buoyant mood
as had so greatly struck me on the day after our arrival. So gay and
youthful and full of life and happy did he seem that the beams of
his felicity extended themselves to all around him, and involuntarily
communicated to them a similar frame of mind. He never stirred from
Avdotia’s side so long as she was in the room, but either kept on plying
her with sugary-sweet compliments which made me feel ashamed for him
or, with his gaze fixed upon her with an air at once passionate and
complacent, sat hitching his shoulder and coughing as from time to time
he smiled and whispered something in her ear. Yet throughout he wore
the same expression of raillery as was peculiar to him even in the most
serious matters.

As a rule, Avdotia herself seemed to catch the infection of the
happiness which sparkled at this period in Papa’s large blue eyes; yet
there were moments also when she would be seized with such a fit of
shyness that I, who knew the feeling well, was full of sympathy and
compassion as I regarded her embarrassment. At moments of this kind she
seemed to be afraid of every glance and every movement--to be supposing
that every one was looking at her, every one thinking of no one but
her, and that unfavourably. She would glance timidly from one person to
another, the colour coming and going in her cheeks, and then begin
to talk loudly and defiantly, but, for the most part, nonsense; until
presently, realising this, and supposing that Papa and every one else
had heard her, she would blush more painfully than ever. Yet Papa never
noticed her nonsense, for he was too much taken up with coughing and
with gazing at her with his look of happy, triumphant devotion. I
noticed, too, that, although these fits of shyness attacked Avdotia,
without any visible cause, they not infrequently ensued upon Papa’s
mention of one or another young and beautiful woman. Frequent
transitions from depression to that strange, awkward gaiety of hers
to which I have referred before the repetition of favourite words and
turns of speech of Papa’s; the continuation of discussions with others
which Papa had already begun--all these things, if my father had not
been the principal actor in the matter and I had been a little older,
would have explained to me the relations subsisting between him and
Avdotia. At the time, however, I never surmised them--no, not even when
Papa received from her brother Peter a letter which so upset him that
not again until the end of August did he go to call upon the Epifanovs’.
Then, however, he began his visits once more, and ended by informing
us, on the day before Woloda and I were to return to Moscow, that he was
about to take Avdotia Vassilievna Epifanov to be his wife.



XXXV. HOW WE RECEIVED THE NEWS

Yet, even on the eve of the official announcement, every one had learnt
of the matter, and was discussing it. Mimi never left her room that
day, and wept copiously. Katenka kept her company, and only came out
for luncheon, with a grieved expression on her face which was manifestly
borrowed from her mother. Lubotshka, on the contrary, was very cheerful,
and told us after luncheon that she knew of a splendid secret which she
was going to tell no one.

“There is nothing so splendid about your secret,” said Woloda, who did
not in the least share her satisfaction. “If you were capable of any
serious thought at all, you would understand that it is a very bad
lookout for us.”

Lubotshka stared at him in amazement, and said no more. After the meal
was over, Woloda made a feint of taking me by the arm, and then, fearing
that this would seem too much like “affection,” nudged me gently by the
elbow, and beckoned me towards the salon.

“You know, I suppose, what the secret is of which Lubotshka was
speaking?” he said when he was sure that we were alone. It was seldom
that he and I spoke together in confidence: with the result that,
whenever it came about, we felt a kind of awkwardness in one another’s
presence, and “boys began to jump about” in our eyes, as Woloda
expressed it. On the present occasion, however, he answered the
excitement in my eyes with a grave, fixed look which said: “You need not
be surprised, for we are brothers, and we have to consider an important
family matter.” I understood him, and he went on:

“You know, I suppose, that Papa is going to marry Avdotia Epifanov?”

I nodded, for I had already heard so. “Well, it is not a good thing,”
 continued Woloda.

“Why so?”

“Why?” he repeated irritably. “Because it will be so pleasant, won’t
it, to have this stuttering ‘colonel’ and all his family for relations!
Certainly she seems nice enough, as yet; but who knows what she will
turn out to be later? It won’t matter much to you or myself, but
Lubotshka will soon be making her debut, and it will hardly be nice
for her to have such a ‘belle mere’ as this--a woman who speaks French
badly, and has no manners to teach her.”

Although it seemed odd to hear Woloda criticising Papa’s choice so
coolly, I felt that he was right.

“Why is he marrying her?” I asked.

“Oh, it is a hole-and-corner business, and God only knows why,”
 he answered. “All I know is that her brother, Peter, tried to make
conditions about the marriage, and that, although at first Papa would
not hear of them, he afterwards took some fancy or knight-errantry or
another into his head. But, as I say, it is a hole-and-corner business.
I am only just beginning to understand my father “--the fact that Woloda
called Papa “my father” instead of “Papa” somehow hurt me--“and though I
can see that he is kind and clever, he is irresponsible and frivolous to
a degree that--Well, the whole thing is astonishing. He cannot so much
as look upon a woman calmly. You yourself know how he falls in love with
every one that he meets. You know it, and so does Mimi.”

“What do you mean?” I said.

“What I say. Not long ago I learnt that he used to be in love with Mimi
herself when he was a young man, and that he used to send her poetry,
and that there really was something between them. Mimi is heart-sore
about it to this day”--and Woloda burst out laughing.

“Impossible!” I cried in astonishment.

“But the principal thing at this moment,” went on Woloda, becoming
serious again, and relapsing into French, “is to think how delighted all
our relations will be with this marriage! Why, she will probably have
children!”

Woloda’s prudence and forethought struck me so forcibly that I had no
answer to make. Just at this moment Lubotshka approached us.

“So you know?” she said with a joyful face.

“Yes,” said Woloda. “Still, I am surprised at you, Lubotshka. You are no
longer a baby in long clothes. Why should you be so pleased because Papa
is going to marry a piece of trash?”

At this Lubotshka’s face fell, and she became serious.

“Oh, Woloda!” she exclaimed. “Why ‘a piece of trash’ indeed? How can you
dare to speak of Avdotia like that? If Papa is going to marry her she
cannot be ‘trash.’”

“No, not trash, so to speak, but--”

“No ‘buts’ at all!” interrupted Lubotshka, flaring up. “You have never
heard me call the girl whom you are in love with ‘trash!’ How, then, can
you speak so of Papa and a respectable woman? Although you are my elder
brother, I won’t allow you to speak like that! You ought not to!”

“Mayn’t I even express an opinion about--”

“No, you mayn’t!” repeated Lubotshka. “No one ought to criticise such a
father as ours. Mimi has the right to, but not you, however much you may
be the eldest brother.”

“Oh you don’t understand anything,” said Woloda contemptuously. “Try
and do so. How can it be a good thing that a ‘Dunetchka’ of an Epifanov
should take the place of our dead Mamma?”

For a moment Lubotshka was silent. Then the tears suddenly came into her
eyes.

“I knew that you were conceited, but I never thought that you could be
cruel,” she said, and left us.

“Pshaw!” said Woloda, pulling a serio-comic face and make-believe,
stupid eyes. “That’s what comes of arguing with them.” Evidently he felt
that he was at fault in having so far forgot himself as to descend to
discuss matters at all with Lubotshka.

Next day the weather was bad, and neither Papa nor the ladies had come
down to morning tea when I entered the drawing-room. There had been
cold rain in the night, and remnants of the clouds from which it had
descended were still scudding across the sky, with the sun’s luminous
disc (not yet risen to any great height) showing faintly through
them. It was a windy, damp, grey morning. The door into the garden was
standing open, and pools left by the night’s rain were drying on the
damp-blackened flags of the terrace. The open door was swinging on its
iron hinges in the wind, and all the paths looked wet and muddy. The old
birch trees with their naked white branches, the bushes, the turf,
the nettles, the currant-trees, the elders with the pale side of their
leaves turned upwards--all were dashing themselves about, and looking as
though they were trying to wrench themselves free from their roots. From
the avenue of lime-trees showers of round, yellow leaves were flying
through the air in tossing, eddying circles, and strewing the wet
road and soaked aftermath of the hayfield with a clammy carpet. At the
moment, my thoughts were wholly taken up with my father’s approaching
marriage and with the point of view from which Woloda regarded it. The
future seemed to me to bode no good for any of us. I felt distressed to
think that a woman who was not only a stranger but young should be going
to associate with us in so many relations of life, without having any
right to do so--nay, that this young woman was going to usurp the place
of our dead mother. I felt depressed, and kept thinking more and more
that my father was to blame in the matter. Presently I heard his voice
and Woloda’s speaking together in the pantry, and, not wishing to meet
Papa just then, had just left the room when I was pursued by Lubotshka,
who said that Papa wanted to see me.

He was standing in the drawing-room, with his hand resting on the piano,
and was gazing in my direction with an air at once grave and impatient.
His face no longer wore the youthful, gay expression which had struck me
for so long, but, on the contrary, looked sad. Woloda was walking about
the room with a pipe in his hand. I approached my father, and bade him
good morning.

“Well, my children,” he said firmly, with a lift of his head and in
the peculiarly hurried manner of one who wishes to announce something
obviously unwelcome, but no longer admitting of reconsideration, “you
know, I suppose, that I am going to marry Avdotia Epifanov.” He paused
a moment. “Hitherto I had had no desire for any one to succeed your
mother, but”--and again he paused--“it-it is evidently my fate.
Dunetchka is an excellent, kind girl, and no longer in her first youth.
I hope, therefore, my children, that you will like her, and she, I know,
will be sincerely fond of you, for she is a good woman. And now,” he
went on, addressing himself more particularly to Woloda and myself, and
having the appearance of speaking hurriedly in order to prevent us from
interrupting him, “it is time for you to depart, while I myself am
going to stay here until the New Year, and then to follow you to Moscow
with”--again he hesitated a moment--“my wife and Lubotshka.” It hurt me
to see my father standing as though abashed and at fault before us, so
I moved a little nearer him, but Woloda only went on walking about the
room with his head down, and smoking.

“So, my children, that is what your old father has planned to do,”
 concluded Papa--reddening, coughing, and offering Woloda and myself his
hands. Tears were in his eyes as he said this, and I noticed, too, that
the hand which he was holding out to Woloda (who at that moment chanced
to be at the other end of the room) was shaking slightly. The sight of
that shaking hand gave me an unpleasant shock, for I remembered that
Papa had served in 1812, and had been, as every one knew, a brave
officer. Seizing the great veiny hand, I covered it with kisses, and
he squeezed mine hard in return. Then, with a sob amid his tears, he
suddenly threw his arms around Lubotshka’s dark head, and kissed her
again and again on the eyes. Woloda pretended that he had dropped his
pipe, and, bending down, wiped his eyes furtively with the back of his
hand. Then, endeavouring to escape notice, he left the room.



XXXVI. THE UNIVERSITY

THE wedding was to take place in two weeks’ time, but, as our lectures
had begun already, Woloda and myself were forced to return to Moscow at
the beginning of September. The Nechludoffs had also returned from the
country, and Dimitri (with whom, on parting, I had made an agreement
that we should correspond frequently with the result, of course, that we
had never once written to one another) came to see us immediately
after our arrival, and arranged to escort me to my first lecture on the
morrow.

It was a beautiful sunny day. No sooner had I entered the auditorium
than I felt my personality entirely disappear amid the swarm of
light-hearted youths who were seething tumultuously through every
doorway and corridor under the influence of the sunlight pouring through
the great windows. I found the sense of being a member of this huge
community very pleasing, yet there were few among the throng whom I
knew, and that only on terms of a nod and a “How do you do, Irtenieff?”

All around me men were shaking hands and chatting together--from every
side came expressions of friendship, laughter, jests, and badinage.
Everywhere I could feel the tie which bound this youthful society in
one, and everywhere, too, I could feel that it left me out. Yet this
impression lasted for a moment only, and was succeeded, together with
the vexation which it had caused, by the idea that it was best that
I should not belong to that society, but keep to my own circle of
gentlemen; wherefore I proceeded to seat myself upon the third bench,
with, as neighbours, Count B., Baron Z., the Prince R., Iwin, and
some other young men of the same class with none of whom, however, was
acquainted save with Iwin and Count B. Yet the look which these young
gentlemen threw at me at once made me feel that I was not of their set,
and I turned to observe what was going on around me. Semenoff, with
grey, matted hair, white teeth, and tunic flying open, was seated a
little distance off, and leaning forward on his elbows as he nibbled
a pen, while the gymnasium student who had come out first in the
examinations had established himself on the front bench, and, with a
black stock coming half-way up his cheek, was toying with the silver
watch-chain which adorned his satin waistcoat. On a bench in a raised
part of the hall I could descry Ikonin (evidently he had contrived to
enter the University somehow!), and hear him fussily proclaiming, in all
the glory of blue piped trousers which completely hid his boots, that he
was now seated on Parnassus. Ilinka--who had surprised me by giving me a
bow not only cold, but supercilious, as though to remind me that here we
were all equals--was just in front of me, with his legs resting in free
and easy style on another bench (a hit, somehow I thought, at myself),
and conversing with a student as he threw occasional glances in my
direction. Iwin’s set by my side were talking in French, yet every word
which I overheard of their conversation seemed to me both stupid and
incorrect (“Ce n’est pas francais,” I thought to myself), while all
the attitudes, utterances, and doings of Semenoff, Ilinka, and the rest
struck me as uniformly coarse, ungentlemanly, and “comme il ne faut
pas.”

Thus, attached to no particular set, I felt isolated and unable to make
friends, and so grew resentful. One of the students on the bench in
front of me kept biting his nails, which were raw to the quick already,
and this so disgusted me that I edged away from him. In short, I
remember finding my first day a most depressing affair.

When the professor entered, and there was a general stir and a cessation
of chatter, I remember throwing a scornful glance at him, as also
that he began his discourse with a sentence which I thought devoid of
meaning. I had expected the lecture to be, from first to last, so clever
that not a word ought to be taken from or added to it. Disappointed in
this, I at once proceeded to draw beneath the heading “First Lecture”
 with which I had adorned my beautifully-bound notebook no less than
eighteen faces in profile, joined together in a sort of chaplet, and
only occasionally moved my hand along the page in order to give the
professor (who, I felt sure, must be greatly interested in me) the
impression that I was writing something. In fact, at this very first
lecture I came to the decision which I maintained to the end of my
course, namely, that it was unnecessary, and even stupid, to take down
every word said by every professor.

At subsequent lectures, however, I did not feel my isolation so
strongly, since I made several acquaintances and got into the way of
shaking hands and entering into conversation. Yet for some reason or
another no real intimacy ever sprang up between us, and I often found
myself depressed and only feigning cheerfulness. With the set which
comprised Iwin and “the aristocrats,” as they were generally known, I
could not make any headway at all, for, as I now remember, I was always
shy and churlish to them, and nodded to them only when they nodded to
me; so that they had little inducement to desire my acquaintance. With
most of the other students, however, this arose from quite a different
cause. As soon as ever I discerned friendliness on the part of a
comrade, I at once gave him to understand that I went to luncheon with
Prince Ivan Ivanovitch and kept my own drozhki. All this I said merely
to show myself in the most favourable light in his eyes, and to induce
him to like me all the more; yet almost invariably the only result of
my communicating to him the intelligence concerning the drozhki and my
relationship to Prince Ivan Ivanovitch was that, to my astonishment, he
at once adopted a cold and haughty bearing towards me.

Among us we had a Crown student named Operoff--a very modest,
industrious, and clever young fellow, who always offered one his hand
like a slab of wood (that is to say, without closing his fingers or
making the slightest movement with them); with the result that his
comrades often did the same to him in jest, and called it the “deal
board” way of shaking hands. He and I nearly always sat next to one
another, and discussed matters generally. In particular he pleased me
with the freedom with which he would criticise the professors as he
pointed out to me with great clearness and acumen the merits or demerits
of their respective ways of teaching and made occasional fun of them.
Such remarks I found exceedingly striking and diverting when uttered
in his quiet, mincing voice. Nevertheless he never let a lecture
pass without taking careful notes of it in his fine handwriting,
and eventually we decided to join forces, and to do our preparation
together. Things had progressed to the point of his always looking
pleased when I took my usual seat beside him when, unfortunately, I one
day found it necessary to inform him that, before her death, my mother
had besought my father never to allow us to enter for a government
scholarship, as well as that I myself considered Crown students, no
matter how clever, to be-“well, they are not GENTLEMEN,” I concluded,
though beginning to flounder a little and grow red. At the moment
Operoff said nothing, but at subsequent lectures he ceased to greet me
or to offer me his board-like hand, and never attempted to talk to me,
but, as soon as ever I sat down, he would lean his head upon his arm,
and purport to be absorbed in his notebooks. I was surprised at this
sudden coolness, but looked upon it as infra dig, “pour un jeune
homme de bonne maison” to curry favour with a mere Crown student of
an Operoff, and so left him severely alone--though I confess that his
aloofness hurt my feelings. On one occasion I arrived before him,
and, since the lecture was to be delivered by a popular professor whom
students came to hear who did not usually attend such functions, I found
almost every seat occupied. Accordingly I secured Operoff’s place for
myself by spreading my notebooks on the desk before it; after which I
left the room again for a moment. When I returned I perceived that my
paraphernalia had been relegated to the bench behind, and the place
taken by Operoff himself. I remarked to him that I had already secured
it by placing my notebooks there.

“I know nothing about that,” he replied sharply, yet without looking up
at me.

“I tell you I placed my notebooks there,” I repeated, purposely trying
to bluster, in the hope of intimidating him. “Every one saw me do it,”
 I added, including the students near me in my glance. Several of them
looked at me with curiosity, yet none of them spoke.

“Seats cannot be booked here,” said Operoff. “Whoever first sits down
in a place keeps it,” and, settling himself angrily where he was, he
flashed at me a glance of defiance.

“Well, that only means that you are a cad,” I said.

I have an idea that he murmured something about my being “a stupid young
idiot,” but I decided not to hear it. What would be the use, I asked
myself, of my hearing it? That we should brawl like a couple of manants
over less than nothing? (I was very fond of the word manants, and often
used it for meeting awkward junctures.) Perhaps I should have said
something more had not, at that moment, a door slammed and the professor
(dressed in a blue frockcoat, and shuffling his feet as he walked)
ascended the rostrum.

Nevertheless, when the examination was about to come on, and I had need
of some one’s notebooks, Operoff remembered his promise to lend me his,
and we did our preparation together.



XXXVII. AFFAIRS OF THE HEART

Affaires du coeur exercised me greatly that winter. In fact, I fell in
love three times. The first time, I became passionately enamoured of a
buxom lady whom I used to see riding at Freitag’s riding-school; with
the result that every day when she was taking a lesson there (that is to
say, every Tuesday and Friday) I used to go to gaze at her, but always
in such a state of trepidation lest I should be seen that I stood a long
way off, and bolted directly I thought her likely to approach the spot
where I was standing. Likewise, I used to turn round so precipitately
whenever she appeared to be glancing in my direction that I never
saw her face well, and to this day do not know whether she was really
beautiful or not.

Dubkoff, who was acquainted with her, surprised me one day in the
riding-school, where I was lurking concealed behind the lady’s grooms
and the fur wraps which they were holding, and, having heard from
Dimitri of my infatuation, frightened me so terribly by proposing to
introduce me to the Amazon that I fled incontinently from the school,
and was prevented by the mere thought that possibly he had told her
about me from ever entering the place again, or even from hiding behind
her grooms, lest I should encounter her.

Whenever I fell in love with ladies whom I did not know, and especially
married women, I experienced a shyness a thousand times greater than I
had ever felt with Sonetchka. I dreaded beyond measure that my divinity
should learn of my passion, or even of my existence, since I felt sure
that, once she had done so, she would be so terribly offended that I
should never be forgiven for my presumption. And indeed, if the Amazon
referred to above had ever come to know how I used to stand behind the
grooms and dream of seizing her and carrying her off to some country
spot--if she had ever come to know how I should have lived with her
there, and how I should have treated her, it is probable that she would
have had very good cause for indignation! But I always felt that, once
I got to know her, she would straightway divine these thoughts, and
consider herself insulted by my acquaintance.

As my second affaire du coeur, I, (for the third time) fell in love with
Sonetchka when I saw her at her sister’s. My second passion for her had
long since come to an end, but I became enamoured of her this third time
through Lubotshka sending me a copy-book in which Sonetchka had copied
some extracts from Lermontoff’s The Demon, with certain of the more
subtly amorous passages underlined in red ink and marked with pressed
flowers. Remembering how Woloda had been wont to kiss his inamorata’s
purse last year, I essayed to do the same thing now; and really, when
alone in my room in the evenings and engaged in dreaming as I looked at
a flower or occasionally pressed it to my lips, I would feel a certain
pleasantly lachrymose mood steal over me, and remain genuinely in love
(or suppose myself to be so) for at least several days.

Finally, my third affaire du coeur that winter was connected with the
lady with whom Woloda was in love, and who used occasionally to visit
at our house. Yet, in this damsel, as I now remember, there was not a
single beautiful feature to be found--or, at all events, none of those
which usually pleased me. She was the daughter of a well-known Moscow
lady of light and leading, and, petite and slender, wore long flaxen
curls after the English fashion, and could boast of a transparent
profile. Every one said that she was even cleverer and more learned
than her mother, but I was never in a position to judge of that, since,
overcome with craven bashfulness at the mere thought of her intellect
and accomplishments, I never spoke to her alone but once, and then
with unaccountable trepidation. Woloda’s enthusiasm, however (for the
presence of an audience never prevented him from giving vent to his
rapture), communicated itself to me so strongly that I also became
enamoured of the lady. Yet, conscious that he would not be pleased to
know that two brothers were in love with the same girl, I never told him
of my condition. On the contrary, I took special delight in the thought
that our mutual love for her was so pure that, though its object was, in
both cases, the same charming being, we remained friends and ready, if
ever the occasion should arise, to sacrifice ourselves for one another.
Yet I have an idea that, as regards self-sacrifice, he did not quite
share my views, for he was so passionately in love with the lady that
once he was for giving a member of the diplomatic corps, who was said
to be going to marry her, a slap in the face and a challenge to a duel;
but, for my part, I would gladly have sacrificed my feelings for his
sake, seeing that the fact that the only remark I had ever addressed to
her had been on the subject of the dignity of classical music, and that
my passion, for all my efforts to keep it alive, expired the following
week, would have rendered it the more easy for me to do so.



XXXVIII. THE WORLD

As regards those worldly delights to which I had intended, on entering
the University, to surrender myself in imitation of my brother, I
underwent a complete disillusionment that winter. Woloda danced a great
deal, and Papa also went to balls with his young wife, but I appeared
to be thought either too young or unfitted for such delights, and no one
invited me to the houses where balls were being given. Yet, in spite of
my vow of frankness with Dimitri, I never told him (nor any one else)
how much I should have liked to go to those dances, and how I felt hurt
at being forgotten and (apparently) taken for the philosopher that I
pretended to be.

Nevertheless, a reception was to be given that winter at the Princess
Kornakoff’s, and to it she sent us personal invitations--to myself among
the rest! Consequently, I was to attend my first ball. Before starting,
Woloda came into my room to see how I was dressing myself--an act on
his part which greatly surprised me and took me aback. In my opinion (it
must be understood) solicitude about one’s dress was a shameful thing,
and should be kept under, but he seemed to think it a thing so natural
and necessary that he said outright that he was afraid I should be put
out of countenance on that score. Accordingly, he bid me don my patent
leather boots, and was horrified to find that I wanted to put on gloves
of peau de chamois. Next, he adjusted my watch-chain in a particular
manner, and carried me off to a hairdresser’s near the Kuznetski Bridge
to have my locks coiffured. That done, he withdrew to a little distance
and surveyed me.

“Yes, he looks right enough now” said he to the hairdresser.
“Only--couldn’t you smooth those tufts of his in front a little?” Yet,
for all that Monsieur Charles treated my forelocks with one essence and
another, they persisted in rising up again when ever I put on my hat. In
fact, my curled and tonsured figure seemed to me to look far worse than
it had done before. My only hope of salvation lay in an affectation of
untidiness. Only in that guise would my exterior resemble anything at
all. Woloda, apparently, was of the same opinion, for he begged me to
undo the curls, and when I had done so and still looked unpresentable,
he ceased to regard me at all, but throughout the drive to the
Kornakoffs remained silent and depressed.

Nevertheless, I entered the Kornakoffs’ mansion boldly enough, and it
was only when the Princess had invited me to dance, and I, for some
reason or another (though I had driven there with no other thought in
my head than to dance well), had replied that I never indulged in that
pastime, that I began to blush, and, left solitary among a crowd of
strangers, became plunged in my usual insuperable and ever-growing
shyness. In fact, I remained silent on that spot almost the whole
evening!

Nevertheless, while a waltz was in progress, one of the young princesses
came to me and asked me, with the sort of official kindness common to
all her family, why I was not dancing. I can remember blushing hotly
at the question, but at the same time feeling--for all my efforts
to prevent it--a self-satisfied smile steal over my face as I began
talking, in the most inflated and long-winded French, such rubbish as
even now, after dozens of years, it shames me to recall. It must
have been the effect of the music, which, while exciting my nervous
sensibility, drowned (as I supposed) the less intelligible portion of my
utterances. Anyhow, I went on speaking of the exalted company present,
and of the futility of men and women, until I had got myself into such
a tangle that I was forced to stop short in the middle of a word of a
sentence which I found myself powerless to conclude.

Even the worldly-minded young Princess was shocked by my conduct, and
gazed at me in reproach; whereat I burst out laughing. At this critical
moment, Woloda, who had remarked that I was conversing with great
animation, and probably was curious to know what excuses I was making
for not dancing, approached us with Dubkoff. Seeing, however, my smiling
face and the Princess’s frightened mien, as well as overhearing the
appalling rubbish with which I concluded my speech, he turned red in
the face, and wheeled round again. The Princess also rose and left me. I
continued to smile, but in such a state of agony from the consciousness
of my stupidity that I felt ready to sink into the floor. Likewise I
felt that, come what might, I must move about and say something, in
order to effect a change in my position. Accordingly I approached
Dubkoff, and asked him if he had danced many waltzes with her that
night. This I feigned to say in a gay and jesting manner, yet in reality
I was imploring help of the very Dubkoff to whom I had cried “Hold your
tongue!” on the night of the matriculation dinner. By way of answer, he
made as though he had not heard me, and turned away. Next, I approached
Woloda, and said with an effort and in a similar tone of assumed gaiety:
“Hullo, Woloda! Are you played out yet?” He merely looked at me as much
as to say, “You wouldn’t speak to me like that if we were alone,” and
left me without a word, in the evident fear that I might continue to
attach myself to his person.

“My God! Even my own brother deserts me!” I thought to myself.

Yet somehow I had not the courage to depart, but remained standing where
I was until the very end of the evening. At length, when every one was
leaving the room and crowding into the hall, and a footman slipped my
greatcoat on to my shoulders in such a way as to tilt up my cap, I gave
a dreary, half-lachrymose smile, and remarked to no one in particular:
“Comme c’est gracieux!”



XXXIX. THE STUDENTS’ FEAST

NOTWITHSTANDING that, as yet, Dimitri’s influence had kept me from
indulging in those customary students’ festivities known as kutezhi or
“wines,” that winter saw me participate in such a function, and carry
away with me a not over-pleasant impression of it. This is how it came
about.

At a lecture soon after the New Year, Baron Z.--a tall, light-haired
young fellow of very serious demeanour and regular features--invited us
all to spend a sociable evening with him. By “us all”, I mean all the
men more or less “comme il faut”, of our course, and exclusive of
Grap, Semenoff, Operoff, and commoners of that sort. Woloda smiled
contemptuously when he heard that I was going to a “wine” of first
course men, but I looked to derive great and unusual pleasure from this,
to me, novel method of passing the time. Accordingly, punctually at the
appointed hour of eight I presented myself at the Baron’s.

Our host, in an open tunic and white waistcoat, received his guests
in the brilliantly lighted salon and drawing-room of the small mansion
where his parents lived--they having given up their reception rooms to
him for the evening for purposes of this party. In the corridor could
be seen the heads and skirts of inquisitive domestics, while in the
dining-room I caught a glimpse of a dress which I imagined to belong to
the Baroness herself. The guests numbered a score, and were all of
them students except Herr Frost (in attendance upon Iwin) and a tall,
red-faced gentleman who was superintending the feast and who was
introduced to every one as a relative of the Baron’s and a former
student of the University of Dorpat. At first, the excessive brilliancy
and formal appointments of the reception-rooms had such a chilling
effect upon this youthful company that every one involuntarily hugged
the walls, except a few bolder spirits and the ex-Dorpat student, who,
with his waistcoat already unbuttoned, seemed to be in every room, and
in every corner of every room, at once, and filled the whole place with
his resonant, agreeable, never-ceasing tenor voice. The remainder of the
guests preferred either to remain silent or to talk in discreet tones of
professors, faculties, examinations, and other serious and interesting
matters. Yet every one, without exception, kept watching the door of
the dining-room, and, while trying to conceal the fact, wearing an
expression which said: “Come! It is time to begin.” I too felt that
it was time to begin, and awaited the beginning with pleasurable
impatience.

After footmen had handed round tea among the guests, the Dorpat student
asked Frost in Russian:

“Can you make punch, Frost?”

“Oh ja!” replied Frost with a joyful flourish of his heels, and the
other went on:

“Then do you set about it” (they addressed each other in the second
person singular, as former comrades at Dorpat). Frost accordingly
departed to the dining-room, with great strides of his bowed, muscular
legs, and, after some walking backwards and forwards, deposited upon the
drawing-room table a large punchbowl, accompanied by a ten-pound sugar
loaf supported on three students’ swords placed crosswise. Meanwhile,
the Baron had been going round among his guests as they sat regarding
the punch-bowl, and addressing them, with a face of immutable gravity,
in the formula: “I beg of you all to drink of this loving-cup in student
fashion, that there may be good-fellowship among the members of our
course. Unbutton your waistcoats, or take them off altogether, as you
please.” Already the Dorpat student had divested himself of his tunic
and rolled up his white shirt-sleeves above his elbows, and now,
planting his feet firmly apart, he proceeded to set fire to the rum in
the punch-bowl.

“Gentlemen, put out the candles!” he cried with a sudden shout so loud
and insistent that we seemed all of us to be shouting at once. However,
we still went on silently regarding the punch-bowl and the white shirt
of the Dorpat student, with a feeling that a moment of great solemnity
was approaching.

“Put out the lights, Frost, I tell you!” the Dorpat student shouted
again. Evidently the punch was now sufficiently burnt. Accordingly
every one helped to extinguish the candles, until the room was in total
darkness save for a spot where the white shirts and hands of the three
students supporting the sugarloaf on their crossed swords were lit up by
the lurid flames from the bowl. Yet the Dorpat student’s tenor voice
was not the only one to be heard, for in different quarters of the
room resounded chattering and laughter. Many had taken off their tunics
(especially students whose garments were of fine cloth and perfectly
new), and I now did the same, with a consciousness that “IT” was
“beginning.” There had been no great festivity as yet, but I felt
assured that things would go splendidly when once we had begun drinking
tumblers of the potion that was now in course of preparation.

At length, the punch was ready, and the Dorpat student, with much
bespattering of the table as he did so, ladled the liquor into tumblers,
and cried: “Now, gentlemen, please!” When we had each of us taken a
sticky tumbler of the stuff into our hands, the Dorpat student and Frost
sang a German song in which the word “Hoch!” kept occurring again and
again, while we joined, in haphazard fashion, in the chorus. Next we
clinked glasses together, shouted something in praise of punch, crossed
hands, and took our first drink of the sweet, strong mixture. After that
there was no further waiting; the “wine” was in full swing. The first
glassful consumed, a second was poured out. Yet, for all that I began to
feel a throbbing in my temples, and that the flames seemed to be turning
purple, and that every one around me was laughing and shouting, things
seemed lacking in real gaiety, and I somehow felt that, as a matter
of fact, we were all of us finding the affair rather dull, and only
PRETENDING to be enjoying it. The Dorpat student may have been an
exception, for he continued to grow more and more red in the face and
more and more ubiquitous as he filled up empty glasses and stained the
table with fresh spots of the sweet, sticky stuff. The precise sequence
of events I cannot remember, but I can recall feeling strongly attracted
towards Frost and the Dorpat student that evening, learning their German
song by heart, and kissing them each on their sticky-sweet lips; also
that that same evening I conceived a violent hatred against the Dorpat
student, and was for pushing him from his chair, but thought better of
it; also that, besides feeling the same spirit of independence towards
the rest of the company as I had felt on the night of the matriculation
dinner, my head ached and swam so badly that I thought each moment would
be my last; also that, for some reason or another, we all of us sat down
on the floor and imitated the movements of rowers in a boat as we sang
in chorus, “Down our mother stream the Volga;” also that I conceived
this procedure on our part to be uncalled for; also that, as I lay
prone upon the floor, I crossed my legs and began wriggling about like a
tsigane; [Gipsy dancer.] also that I ricked some one’s neck, and came to
the conclusion that I should never have done such a thing if I had not
been drunk; also that we had some supper and another kind of liquor, and
that I then went to the door to get some fresh air; also that my head
seemed suddenly to grow chill, and that I noticed, as I drove away, that
the scat of the vehicle was so sharply aslant and slippery that for me
to retain my position behind Kuzma was impossible; also that he seemed
to have turned all flabby, and to be waving about like a dish clout.
But what I remember best is that throughout the whole of that evening
I never ceased to feel that I was acting with excessive stupidity in
pretending to be enjoying myself, to like drinking a great deal, and to
be in no way drunk, as well as that every one else present was acting
with equal stupidity in pretending those same things. All the time I had
a feeling that each one of my companions was finding the festivities as
distasteful as I was myself; but, in the belief that he was the only one
doing so, felt himself bound to pretend that he was very merry, in order
not to mar the general hilarity. Also, strange to state, I felt that
I ought to keep up this pretence for the sole reason that into a
punch-bowl there had been poured three bottles of champagne at nine
roubles the bottle and ten bottles of rum at four--making seventy
roubles in all, exclusive of the supper. So convinced of my folly did
I feel that, when, at next day’s lecture, those of my comrades who had
been at Baron Z.’s party seemed not only in no way ashamed to remember
what they had done, but even talked about it so that other students
might hear of their doings, I felt greatly astonished. They all declared
that it had been a splendid “wine,” that Dorpat students were just the
fellows for that kind of thing, and that there had been consumed at it
no less than forty bottles of rum among twenty guests, some of whom had
dropped senseless under the table! That they should care to talk about
such things seemed strange enough, but that they should care to lie
about them seemed absolutely unintelligible.



XL. MY FRIENDSHIP WITH THE NECHLUDOFFS

That winter, too, I saw a great deal both of Dimitri who often looked
us up, and of his family, with whom I was beginning to stand on intimate
terms.

The Nechludoffs (that is to say, mother, aunt, and daughter) always
spent their evenings at home, at which time the Princess liked young men
to visit her--at all events young men of the kind whom she described
as able to spend an evening without playing cards or dancing. Yet such
young fellows must have been few and far between, for, although I went
to the Nechludoffs almost every evening, I seldom found other guests
present. Thus, I came to know the members of this family and their
several dispositions well enough to be able to form clear ideas as
to their mutual relations, and to be quite at home amid the rooms
and furniture of their house. Indeed, so long as no other guests were
present, I felt entirely at my ease. True, at first I used to feel a
little uncomfortable when left alone in the room with Varenika, for
I could not rid myself of the idea that, though far from pretty, she
wished me to fall in love with her; but in time this nervousness of mine
began to lessen, since she always looked so natural, and talked to me
so exactly as though she were conversing with her brother or Lubov
Sergievna, that I came to look upon her simply as a person to whom it
was in no way dangerous or wrong to show that I took pleasure in her
company. Throughout the whole of our acquaintance she appeared to me
merely a plain, though not positively ugly, girl, concerning whom one
would never ask oneself the question,

“Am I, or am I not, in love with her?” Sometimes I would talk to her
direct, but more often I did so through Dimitri or Lubov Sergievna; and
it was the latter method which afforded me the most pleasure. I derived
considerable gratification from discoursing when she was there, from
hearing her sing, and, in general, from knowing that she was in the
same room as myself; but it was seldom now that any thoughts of what our
future relations might ever be, or that any dreams of self-sacrifice for
my friend if he should ever fall in love with my sister, came into my
head. If any such ideas or fancies occurred to me, I felt satisfied with
the present, and drove away all thoughts about the future.

Yet, in spite of this intimacy, I continued to look upon it as my
bounden duty to keep the Nechludoffs in general, and Varenika in
particular, in ignorance of my true feelings and tastes, and strove
always to appear altogether another young man than what I really was--to
appear, indeed, such a young man as could never possibly have existed. I
affected to be “soulful” and would go off into raptures and exclamations
and impassioned gestures whenever I wished it to be thought that
anything pleased me, while, on the other hand, I tried always to seem
indifferent towards any unusual circumstance which I myself perceived or
which I had had pointed out to me. I aimed always at figuring both as a
sarcastic cynic divorced from every sacred tie and as a shrewd observer,
as well as at being accounted logical in all my conduct, precise and
methodical in all my ways of life, and at the same time contemptuous of
all materiality. I may safely say that I was far better in reality than
the strange being into whom I attempted to convert myself; yet, whatever
I was or was not, the Nechludoffs were unfailingly kind to me,
and (happily for myself) took no notice (as it now appears) of my
play-acting. Only Lubov Sergievna, who, I believe, really believed me
to be a great egoist, atheist, and cynic, had no love for me, but
frequently disputed what I said, flew into tempers, and left me
petrified with her disjointed, irrelevant utterances. Yet Dimitri held
always to the same strange, something more than friendly, relations with
her, and used to say not only that she was misunderstood by every one,
but that she did him a world of good. This, however, did not prevent the
rest of his family from finding fault with his infatuation.

Once, when talking to me about this incomprehensible attachment,
Varenika explained the matter thus: “You see, Dimitri is a selfish
person. He is very proud, and, for all his intellect, very fond of
praise, and of surprising people, and of always being FIRST, while
little Auntie” (the general nickname for Lubov Sergievna) “is innocent
enough to admire him, and at the same time devoid of the tact to
conceal her admiration. Consequently she flatters his vanity--not out of
pretence, but sincerely.”

This dictum I laid to heart, and, when thinking it over afterwards,
could not but come to the conclusion that Varenika was very sensible;
wherefore I was glad to award her promotion thenceforth in my regard.
Yet, though I was always glad enough to assign her any credit which
might arise from my discovering in her character any signs of good sense
or other moral qualities, I did so with strict moderation, and never
ran to any extreme pitch of enthusiasm in the process. Thus, when Sophia
Ivanovna (who was never weary of discussing her niece) related to me
how, four years ago, Varenika had suddenly given away all her clothes to
some peasant children without first asking permission to do so, so that
the garments had subsequently to be recovered, I did not at once accept
the fact as entitling Varenika to elevation in my opinion, but went
on giving her good advice about the unpracticalness of such views on
property.

When other guests were present at the Nechludoffs (among them,
sometimes, Woloda and Dubkoff) I used to withdraw myself to a remote
plane, and, with the complacency and quiet consciousness of strength
of an habitue of the house, listen to what others were saying without
putting in a remark myself. Yet everything that these others said seemed
to me so immeasurably stupid that I used to feel inwardly amazed that
such a clever, logical woman as the Princess, with her equally logical
family, could listen to and answer such rubbish. Had it, however,
entered into my head to compare what, others said with what I myself
said when there alone, I should probably have ceased to feel surprise.
Still less should I have continued to feel surprise had I not
believed that the women of our own household--Avdotia, Lubotshka, and
Katenka--were superior to the rest of their sex, for in that case I
should have remembered the kind of things over which Avdotia and Katenka
would laugh and jest with Dubkoff from one end of an evening to the
other. I should have remembered that seldom did an evening pass but
Dubkoff would first have, an argument about something, and then read in
a sententious voice either some verses beginning “Au banquet de la vie,
infortune convive” or extracts from The Demon. In short, I should have
remembered what nonsense they used to chatter for hours at a time.

It need hardly be said that, when guests were present, Varenika paid
less attention to me than when we were alone, as well as that I was
deprived of the reading and music which I so greatly loved to hear. When
talking to guests, she lost, in my eyes, her principal charm--that of
quiet seriousness and simplicity. I remember how strange it used to seem
to me to hear her discoursing on theatres and the weather to my brother
Woloda! I knew that of all things in the world he most despised and
shunned banality, and that Varenika herself used to make fun of forced
conversations on the weather and similar matters. Why, then, when
meeting in society, did they both of them talk such intolerable
nothings, and, as it were, shame one another? After talks of this kind
I used to feel silently resentful against Woloda, as well as next day to
rally Varenika on her overnight guests. Yet one result of it was that
I derived all the greater pleasure from being one of the Nechludoffs’
family circle. Also, for some reason or another I began to prefer
meeting Dimitri in his mother’s drawing-room to being with him alone.



XLI. MY FRIENDSHIP WITH THE NECHLUDOFFS

At this period, indeed, my friendship with Dimitri hung by a hair. I
had been criticising him too long not to have discovered faults in his
character, for it is only in first youth that we love passionately and
therefore love only perfect people. As soon as the mists engendered by
love of this kind begin to dissolve, and to be penetrated by the clear
beams of reason, we see the object of our adoration in his true shape,
and with all his virtues and failings exposed. Some of those failings
strike us with the exaggerated force of the unexpected, and combine with
the instinct for novelty and the hope that perfection may yet be
found in a fellow-man to induce us not only to feel coldness, but
even aversion, towards the late object of our adoration. Consequently,
desiring it no longer, we usually cast it from us, and pass onwards
to seek fresh perfection. For the circumstance that that was not what
occurred with respect to my own relation to Dimitri, I was indebted to
his stubborn, punctilious, and more critical than impulsive attachment
to myself--a tie which I felt ashamed to break. Moreover, our strange
vow of frankness bound us together. We were afraid that, if we parted,
we should leave in one another’s power all the incriminatory moral
secrets of which we had made mutual confession. At the same time, our
rule of frankness had long ceased to be faithfully observed, but, on
the contrary, proved a frequent cause of constraint, and brought about
strange relations between us.

Almost every time that winter that I went upstairs to Dimitri’s room,
I used to find there a University friend of his named Bezobiedoff, with
whom he appeared to be very much taken up. Bezobiedoff was a small,
slight fellow, with a face pitted over with smallpox, freckled,
effeminate hands, and a huge flaxen moustache much in need of the comb.
He was invariably dirty, shabby, uncouth, and uninteresting. To me,
Dimitri’s relations with him were as unintelligible as his relations
with Lubov Sergievna, and the only reason he could have had for choosing
such a man for his associate was that in the whole University there was
no worse-looking student than Bezobiedoff. Yet that alone would have
been sufficient to make Dimitri extend him his friendship, and, as a
matter of fact, in all his intercourse with this fellow he seemed to be
saying proudly: “I care nothing who a man may be. In my eyes every one
is equal. I like him, and therefore he is a desirable acquaintance.”
 Nevertheless I could not imagine how he could bring himself to do it,
nor how the wretched Bezobiedoff ever contrived to maintain his awkward
position. To me the friendship seemed a most distasteful one.

One night, I went up to Dimitri’s room to try and get him to come down
for an evening’s talk in his mother’s drawing-room, where we could
also listen to Varenika’s reading and singing, but Bezobiedoff had
forestalled me there, and Dimitri answered me curtly that he could not
come down, since, as I could see for myself, he had a visitor with him.

“Besides,” he added, “what is the fun of sitting there? We had much
better stay HERE and talk.”

I scarcely relished the prospect of spending a couple of hours in
Bezobiedoff’s company, yet could not make up my mind to go down
alone; wherefore, cursing my friend’s vagaries, I seated myself in a
rocking-chair, and began rocking myself silently to and fro. I
felt vexed with them both for depriving me of the pleasures of the
drawing-room, and my only hope as I listened irritably to their
conversation was that Bezobiedoff would soon take his departure. “A nice
guest indeed to be sitting with!” I thought to myself when a footman
brought in tea and Dimitri had five times to beg Bezobiedoff to have a
cup, for the reason that the bashful guest thought it incumbent upon him
always to refuse it at first and to say, “No, help yourself.” I could
see that Dimitri had to put some restraint upon himself as he resumed
the conversation. He tried to inveigle me also into it, but I remained
glum and silent.

“I do not mean to let my face give any one the suspicion that I am
bored” was my mental remark to Dimitri as I sat quietly rocking myself
to and fro with measured beat. Yet, as the moments passed, I found
myself--not without a certain satisfaction--growing more and more
inwardly hostile to my friend. “What a fool he is!” I reflected. “He
might be spending the evening agreeably with his charming family, yet he
goes on sitting with this brute!--will go on doing so, too, until it is
too late to go down to the drawing-room!” Here I glanced at him over
the back of my chair, and thought the general look of his attitude and
appearance so offensive and repellant that at the moment I could gladly
have offered him some insult, even a most serious one.

At last Bezobiedoff rose, but Dimitri could not easily let such a
delightful friend depart, and asked him to stay the night. Fortunately,
Bezobiedoff declined the invitation, and departed. Having seen him off,
Dimitri returned, and, smiling a faintly complacent smile as he did so,
and rubbing his hands together (in all probability partly because he had
sustained his character for eccentricity, and partly because he had got
rid of a bore), started to pace the room, with an occasional glance
at myself. I felt more offended with him than ever. “How can he go
on walking about the room and grinning like that?” was my inward
reflection.

“What are you so angry about?” he asked me suddenly as he halted in
front of my chair.

“I am not in the least angry,” I replied (as people always do answer
under such circumstances). “I am merely vexed that you should play-act
to me, and to Bezobiedoff, and to yourself.”

“What rubbish!” he retorted. “I never play-act to any one.”

“I have in mind our rule of frankness,” I replied, “when I tell you that
I am certain you cannot bear this Bezobiedoff any more than I can. He is
an absolute cad, yet for some inexplicable reason or another it pleases
you to masquerade before him.”

“Not at all! To begin with, he is a splendid fellow, and--”

“But I tell you it IS so. I also tell you that your friendship for Lubov
Sergievna is founded on the same basis, namely, that she thinks you a
god.”

“And I tell you once more that it is not so.”

“Oh, I know it for myself,” I retorted with the heat of suppressed
anger, and designing to disarm him with my frankness. “I have told you
before, and I repeat it now, that you always seem to like people who say
pleasant things to you, but that, as soon as ever I come to examine
your friendship, I invariably find that there exists no real attachment
between you.”

“Oh, but you are wrong,” said Dimitri with an angry straightening of the
neck in his collar. “When I like people, neither their praise nor their
blame can make any difference to my opinion of them.”

“Well, dreadful though it may seem to you, I confess that I myself often
used to hate my father when he abused me, and to wish that he was dead.
In the same way, you--”

“Speak for yourself. I am very sorry that you could ever have been so--”

“No, no!” I cried as I leapt from my chair and faced him with the
courage of exasperation. “It is for YOURSELF that you ought to feel
sorry--sorry because you never told me a word about this fellow. You
know that was not honourable of you. Nevertheless, I will tell YOU what
I think of you,” and, burning to wound him even more than he had wounded
me, I set out to prove to him that he was incapable of feeling any real
affection for anybody, and that I had the best of grounds (as in very
truth I believed I had) for reproaching him. I took great pleasure
in telling him all this, but at the same time forgot that the only
conceivable purpose of my doing so--to force him to confess to the
faults of which I had accused him--could not possibly be attained at the
present moment, when he was in a rage. Had he, on the other hand, been
in a condition to argue calmly, I should probably never have said what I
did.

The dispute was verging upon an open quarrel when Dimitri suddenly
became silent, and left the room. I pursued him, and continued what I
was saying, but he did not answer. I knew that his failings included a
hasty temper, and that he was now fighting it down; wherefore I cursed
his good resolutions the more in my heart.

This, then, was what our rule of frankness had brought us to--the rule
that we should “tell one another everything in our minds, and never
discuss one another with a third person!” Many a time we had exaggerated
frankness to the pitch of making mutual confession of the most shameless
thoughts, and of shaming ourselves by voicing to one another proposals
or schemes for attaining our desires; yet those confessions had not
only failed to draw closer the tie which united us, but had dissipated
sympathy and thrust us further apart, until now pride would not allow
him to expose his feelings even in the smallest detail, and we employed
in our quarrel the very weapons which we had formerly surrendered to one
another--the weapons which could strike the shrewdest blows!



XLII. OUR STEPMOTHER

Notwithstanding that Papa had not meant to return to Moscow before the
New Year, he arrived in October, when there was still good riding to
hounds to be had in the country. He alleged as his reason for changing
his mind that his suit was shortly to come on before the Senate, but
Mimi averred that Avdotia had found herself so ennuyee in the country,
and had so often talked about Moscow and pretended to be unwell, that
Papa had decided to accede to her wishes. “You see, she never really
loved him--she and her love only kept buzzing about his ears because she
wanted to marry a rich man,” added Mimi with a pensive sigh which said:
“To think what a certain other person could have done for him if only he
had valued her!”

Yet that “certain other person” was unjust to Avdotia, seeing that
the latter’s affection for Papa--the passionate, devoted love of
self-abandonment--revealed itself in her every look and word and
movement. At the same time, that love in no way hindered her, not only
from being averse to parting with her adored husband, but also from
desiring to visit Madame Annette’s and order there a lovely cap, a hat
trimmed with a magnificent blue ostrich feather, and a blue Venetian
velvet bodice which was to expose to the public gaze the snowy, well
shaped breast and arms which no one had yet gazed upon except her
husband and maids. Of course Katenka sided with her mother and, in
general, there became established between Avdotia and ourselves, from
the day of her arrival, the most extraordinary and burlesque order of
relations. As soon as she stepped from the carriage, Woloda assumed an
air of great seriousness and ceremony, and, advancing towards her with
much bowing and scraping, said in the tone of one who is presenting
something for acceptance:

“I have the honour to greet the arrival of our dear Mamma, and to kiss
her hand.”

“Ah, my dear son!” she replied with her beautiful, unvarying smile.

“And do not forget the younger son,” I said as I also approached her
hand, with an involuntary imitation of Woloda’s voice and expression.

Had our stepmother and ourselves been certain of any mutual affection,
that expression might have signified contempt for any outward
manifestation of our love. Had we been ill-disposed towards one another,
it might have denoted irony, or contempt for pretence, or a desire to
conceal from Papa (standing by the while) our real relations, as well
as many other thoughts and sentiments. But, as a matter of fact, that
expression (which well consorted with Avdotia’s own spirit) simply
signified nothing at all--simply concealed the absence of any definite
relations between us. In later life I often had occasion to remark, in
the case of other families whose members anticipated among themselves
relations not altogether harmonious, the sort of provisional, burlesque
relations which they formed for daily use; and it was just such
relations as those which now became established between ourselves and
our stepmother. We scarcely ever strayed beyond them, but were polite
to her, conversed with her in French, bowed and scraped before her, and
called her “chere Maman”--a term to which she always responded in a tone
of similar lightness and with her beautiful, unchanging smile. Only the
lachrymose Lubotshka, with her goose feet and artless prattle, really
liked our stepmother, or tried, in her naive and frequently awkward way,
to bring her and ourselves together: wherefore the only person in the
world for whom, besides Papa, Avdotia had a spark of affection was
Lubotshka. Indeed, Avdotia always treated her with a kind of grave
admiration and timid deference which greatly surprised me.

From the first Avdotia was very fond of calling herself our stepmother
and hinting that, since children and servants usually adopt an unjust
and hostile attitude towards a woman thus situated, her own position
was likely to prove a difficult one. Yet, though she foresaw all the
unpleasantness of her predicament, she did nothing to escape from it by
(for instance) conciliating this one, giving presents to that other one,
and forbearing to grumble--the last a precaution which it would have
been easy for her to take, seeing that by nature she was in no way
exacting, as well as very good-tempered. Yet, not only did she do none
of these things, but her expectation of difficulties led her to adopt
the defensive before she had been attacked. That is to say, supposing
that the entire household was designing to show her every kind of insult
and annoyance, she would see plots where no plots were, and consider
that her most dignified course was to suffer in silence--an attitude
of passivity as regards winning AFfection which of course led to
DISaffection. Moreover, she was so totally lacking in that faculty
of “apprehension” to which I have already referred as being highly
developed in our household, and all her customs were so utterly opposed
to those which had long been rooted in our establishment, that those two
facts alone were bound to go against her. From the first, her mode of
life in our tidy, methodical household was that of a person only
just arrived there. Sometimes she went to bed late, sometimes early;
sometimes she appeared at luncheon, sometimes she did not; sometimes she
took supper, sometimes she dispensed with it. When we had no guests
with us she more often than not walked about the house in a semi-nude
condition, and was not ashamed to appear before us--even before the
servants--in a white chemise, with only a shawl thrown over her bare
shoulders. At first this Bohemianism pleased me, but before very long
it led to my losing the last shred of respect which I felt for her. What
struck me as even more strange was the fact that, according as we had or
had not guests, she was two different women. The one (the woman figuring
in society) was a young and healthy, but rather cold, beauty, a person
richly dressed, neither stupid nor clever, and unfailingly cheerful.
The other woman (the one in evidence when no guests were present) was
considerably past her first youth, languid, depressed, slovenly, and
ennuyee, though affectionate. Frequently, as I looked at her when,
smiling, rosy with the winter air, and happy in the consciousness of her
beauty, she came in from a round of calls and, taking off her hat, went
to look at herself in a mirror; or when, rustling in her rich, decollete
ball dress, and at once shy and proud before the servants, she was
passing to her carriage; or when, at one of our small receptions at
home, she was sitting dressed in a high silken dress finished with some
sort of fine lace about her soft neck, and flashing her unvarying, but
lovely, smile around her--as I looked at her at such times I could
not help wondering what would have been said by persons who had been
ravished to behold her thus if they could have seen her as I often saw
her, namely, when, waiting in the lonely midnight hours for her husband
to return from his club, she would walk like a shadow from room to
room, with her hair dishevelled and her form clad in a sort of
dressing-jacket. Presently, she would sit down to the piano and, her
brows all puckered with the effort, play over the only waltz that she
knew; after which she would pick up a novel, read a few pages somewhere
in the middle of it, and throw it aside. Next, repairing in person
to the dining-room, so as not to disturb the servants, she would get
herself a cucumber and some cold veal, and eat it standing by the
window-sill--then once more resume her weary, aimless, gloomy wandering
from room to room. But what, above all other things, caused estrangement
between us was that lack of understanding which expressed itself chiefly
in the peculiar air of indulgent attention with which she would listen
when any one was speaking to her concerning matters of which she had no
knowledge. It was not her fault that she acquired the unconscious habit
of bending her head down and smiling slightly with her lips only when
she found it necessary to converse on topics which did not interest her
(which meant any topic except herself and her husband); yet that smile
and that inclination of the head, when incessantly repeated, could
become unbearably wearisome. Also, her peculiar gaiety--which always
sounded as though she were laughing at herself, at you, and at the world
in general--was gauche and anything but infectious, while her sympathy
was too evidently forced. Lastly, she knew no reticence with regard
to her ceaseless rapturising to all and sundry concerning her love for
Papa. Although she only spoke the truth when she said that her whole
life was bound up with him, and although she proved it her life long,
we considered such unrestrained, continual insistence upon her affection
for him bad form, and felt more ashamed for her when she was descanting
thus before strangers even than we did when she was perpetrating bad
blunders in French. Yet, although, as I have said, she loved her husband
more than anything else in the world, and he too had a great affection
for her (or at all events he had at first, and when he saw that others
besides himself admired her beauty), it seemed almost as though she
purposely did everything most likely to displease him--simply to prove
to him the strength of her love, her readiness to sacrifice herself
for his sake, and the fact that her one aim in life was to win his
affection! She was fond of display, and my father too liked to see her
as a beauty who excited wonder and admiration; yet she sacrificed her
weakness for fine clothes to her love for him, and grew more and
more accustomed to remain at home in a plain grey blouse. Again, Papa
considered freedom and equality to be indispensable conditions of family
life, and hoped that his favourite Lubotshka and his kind-hearted young
wife would become sincere friends; yet once again Avdotia sacrificed
herself by considering it incumbent upon her to pay the “real mistress
of the house,” as she called Lubotshka, an amount of deference which
only shocked and annoyed my father. Likewise, he played cards a great
deal that winter, and lost considerable sums towards the end of it,
wherefore, unwilling, as usual, to let his gambling affairs intrude upon
his family life, he began to preserve complete secrecy concerning his
play; yet Avdotia, though often ailing, as well as, towards the end of
the winter, enceinte, considered herself bound always to sit up (in a
grey blouse, and with her hair dishevelled) for my father when, at,
say, four or five o’clock in the morning, he returned home from the
club ashamed, depleted in pocket, and weary. She would ask him
absent-mindedly whether he had been fortunate in play, and listen with
indulgent attention, little nods of her head, and a faint smile upon her
face as he told her of his doings at the club and begged her, for about
the hundredth time, never to sit up for him again. Yet, though Papa’s
winnings or losings (upon which his substance practically depended)
in no way interested her, she was always the first to meet him when he
returned home in the small hours of the morning. This she was incited
to do, not only by the strength of her devotion, but by a certain secret
jealousy from which she suffered. No one in the world could persuade her
that it was REALLY from his club, and not from a mistress’s, that Papa
came home so late. She would try to read love secrets in his face, and,
discerning none there, would sigh with a sort of enjoyment of her grief,
and give herself up once more to the contemplation of her unhappiness.

As the result of these and many other constant sacrifices which occurred
in Papa’s relations with his wife during the latter months of that
winter (a time when he lost much, and was therefore out of spirits),
there gradually grew up between the two an intermittent feeling of tacit
hostility--of restrained aversion to the object of devotion of the kind
which expresses itself in an unconscious eagerness to show the object in
question every possible species of petty annoyance.



XLIII. NEW COMRADES

The winter had passed imperceptibly and the thaw begun when the list
of examinations was posted at the University, and I suddenly remembered
that I had to return answers to questions in eighteen subjects on which
I had heard lectures delivered, but with regard to some of which I had
taken no notes and made no preparation whatever. It seems strange that
the question “How am I going to pass?” should never have entered my
head, but the truth is that all that winter I had been in such a state
of haze through the delights of being both grown-up and “comme il faut”
 that, whenever the question of the examinations had occurred to me, I
had mentally compared myself with my comrades, and thought to myself,
“They are certain to pass, and as most of them are not ‘comme il faut,’
and I am therefore their personal superior, I too am bound to come out
all right.” In fact, the only reason why I attended lectures at all
was that I might become an habitue of the University, and obtain Papa’s
leave to go in and out of the house. Moreover, I had many acquaintances
now, and often enjoyed myself vastly at the University. I loved the
racket, talking, and laughter in the auditorium, the opportunities for
sitting on a back bench, and letting the measured voice of the professor
lure one into dreams as one contemplated one’s comrades, the occasional
runnings across the way for a snack and a glass of vodka (sweetened by
the fearful joy of knowing that one might be hauled before the professor
for so doing), the stealthy closing of the door as one returned to the
auditorium, and the participation in “course versus course” scuffles in
the corridors. All this was very enjoyable.

By the time, however, that every one had begun to put in a better
attendance at lectures, and the professor of physics had completed his
course and taken his leave of us until the examinations came on, and the
students were busy collecting their notebooks and arranging to do their
preparation in parties, it struck me that I also had better prepare
for the ordeal. Operoff, with whom I still continued on bowing, but
otherwise most frigid, terms, suddenly offered not only to lend me his
notebooks, but to let me do my preparation with himself and some other
students. I thanked him, and accepted the invitation--hoping by that
conferment of honour completely to dissipate our old misunderstanding;
but at the same time I requested that the gatherings should always
be held at my home, since my quarters were so splendid! To this the
students replied that they meant to take turn and turn about--sometimes
to meet at one fellow’s place, sometimes at another’s, as might be most
convenient.

The first of our reunions was held at Zuchin’s, who had a small
partition-room in a large building on the Trubni Boulevard. The opening
night I arrived late, and entered when the reading aloud had already
begun. The little apartment was thick with tobacco-smoke, while on the
table stood a bottle of vodka, a decanter, some bread, some salt, and a
shin-bone of mutton. Without rising, Zuchin asked me to have some vodka
and to doff my tunic.

“I expect you are not accustomed to such entertainment,” he added.

Every one was wearing a dirty cotton shirt and a dickey. Endeavouring
not to show my contempt for the company, I took off my tunic, and lay
down in a sociable manner on the sofa. Zuchin went on reading aloud
and correcting himself with the help of notebooks, while the others
occasionally stopped him to ask a question, which he always answered
with ability, correctness, and precision. I listened for a time with the
rest, but, not understanding much of it, since I had not been present at
what had been read before, soon interpolated a question.

“Hullo, old fellow! It will be no good for you to listen if you do not
know the subject,” said Zuchin. “I will lend you my notebooks, and then
you can read it up by to-morrow, and I will explain it to you.”

I felt rather ashamed of my ignorance. Also, I felt the truth of what
he said; so I gave up listening, and amused myself by observing my
new comrades. According to my classification of humanity, into persons
“comme il faut” and persons not “comme il faut,” they evidently belonged
to the latter category, and so aroused in me not only a feeling of
contempt, but also a certain sensation of personal hostility, for the
reason that, though not “comme il faut,” they accounted me their equal,
and actually patronised me in a sort of good-humoured fashion. What in
particular excited in me this feeling was their feet, their dirty nails
and fingers, a particularly long talon on Operoff’s obtrusive
little finger, their red shirts, their dickeys, the chaff which they
good-naturedly threw at one another, the dirty room, a habit which
Zuchin had of continually snuffling and pressing a finger to his nose,
and, above all, their manner of speaking--that is to say, their use and
intonation of words. For instance, they said “flat” for fool, “just the
ticket” for exactly, “grandly” for splendidly, and so on--all of which
seemed to me either bookish or disagreeably vulgar. Still more was my
“comme il faut” refinement disturbed by the accents which they put upon
certain Russian--and, still more, upon foreign--words. Thus they said
dieYATelnost for DIEyatelnost, NARochno for naROChno, v’KAMinie for
v’kaMINie, SHAKespeare for ShakesPEARe, and so forth.

Yet, for all their insuperably repellent exterior, I could detect
something good in these fellows, and envied them the cheerful
good-fellowship which united them in one. Consequently, I began to feel
attracted towards them, and made up my mind that, come what might, I
would become of their number. The kind and honourable Operoff I knew
already, and now the brusque, but exceptionally clever, Zuchin (who
evidently took the lead in this circle) began to please me greatly.
He was a dark, thick-set little fellow, with a perennially glistening,
polished face, but one that was extremely lively, intellectual, and
independent in its expression. That expression it derived from a low,
but prominent, forehead, deep black eyes, short, bristly hair, and a
thick, dark beard which looked as though it stood in constant need of
trimming. Although, too, he seemed to think nothing of himself (a trail
which always pleased me in people), it was clear that he never let his
brain rest. He had one of those expressive faces which, a few hours
after you have seen them for the first time, change suddenly and
entirely to your view. Such a change took place, in my eyes, with regard
to Zuchin’s face towards the end of that evening. Suddenly, I seemed
to see new wrinkles appear upon its surface, its eyes grow deeper, its
smile become a different one, and the whole face assume such an altered
aspect that I scarcely recognised it.

When the reading was ended, Zuchin, the other students, and myself
manifested our desire to be “comrades all” by drinking vodka until
little remained in the bottle. Thereupon Zuchin asked if any one had a
quarter-rouble to spare, so that he could send the old woman who looked
after him to buy some more; yet, on my offering to provide the money,
he made as though he had not heard me, and turned to Operoff, who pulled
out a purse sewn with bugles, and handed him the sum required.

“And mind you don’t get drunk,” added the giver, who himself had not
partaken of the vodka.

“By heavens!” answered Zuchin as he sucked the marrow out of a mutton
bone (I remember thinking that it must be because he ate marrow that he
was so clever). “By heavens!” he went on with a slight smile (and his
smile was of the kind that one involuntarily noticed, and somehow felt
grateful for), “even if I did get drunk, there would be no great harm
done. I wonder which of us two could look after himself the better--you
or I? Anyway I am willing to make the experiment,” and he slapped his
forehead with mock boastfulness. “But what a pity it is that Semenoff
has disappeared! He has gone and completely hidden himself somewhere.”

Sure enough, the grey-haired Semenoff who had comforted me so much at
my first examination by being worse dressed than myself, and who, after
passing the second examination, had attended his lectures regularly
during the first month, had disappeared thereafter from view, and never
been seen at the University throughout the latter part of the course.

“Where is he?” asked some one.

“I do not know” replied Zuchin. “He has escaped my eye altogether. Yet
what fun I used to have with him! What fire there was in the man! and
what an intellect! I should be indeed sorry if he has come to grief--and
come to grief he probably has, for he was no mere boy to take his
University course in instalments.”

After a little further conversation, and agreeing to meet again the next
night at Zuchin’s, since his abode was the most central point for
us all, we began to disperse. As, one by one, we left the room, my
conscience started pricking me because every one seemed to be going home
on foot, whereas I had my drozhki. Accordingly, with some hesitation
I offered Operoff a lift. Zuchin came to the door with us, and, after
borrowing a rouble of Operoff, went off to make a night of it with some
friends. As we drove along, Operoff told me a good deal about Zuchin’s
character and mode of life, and on reaching home it was long before I
could get to sleep for thinking of the new acquaintances I had made. For
many an hour, as I lay awake, I kept wavering between the respect which
their knowledge, simplicity, and sense of honour, as well as the poetry
of their youth and courage, excited in my regard, and the distaste which
I felt for their outward man. In spite of my desire to do so, it was at
that time literally impossible for me to associate with them, since
our ideas were too wholly at variance. For me, life’s meaning and charm
contained an infinitude of shades of which they had not an inkling,
and vice versa. The greatest obstacles of all, however, to our better
acquaintance I felt to be the twenty roubles’ worth of cloth in my
tunic, my drozhki, and my white linen shirt; and they appeared to
me most important obstacles, since they made me feel as though I had
unwittingly insulted these comrades by displaying such tokens of my
wealth. I felt guilty in their eyes, and as though, whether I accepted
or rejected their acquittal and took a line of my own, I could never
enter into equal and unaffected relations with them. Yet to such an
extent did the stirring poetry of the courage which I could detect in
Zuchin (in particular) overshadow the coarse, vicious side of his nature
that the latter made no unpleasant impression upon me.

For a couple of weeks I visited Zuchin’s almost every night for purposes
of work. Yet I did very little there, since, as I have said, I had lost
ground at the start, and, not having sufficient grit in me to catch up
my companions by solitary study, was forced merely to PRETEND that I was
listening to and taking in all they were reading. I have an idea, too,
that they divined my pretence, since I often noticed that they passed
over points which they themselves knew without first inquiring of me
whether I did the same. Yet, day by day, I was coming to regard the
vulgarity of this circle with more indulgence, to feel increasingly
drawn towards its way of life, and to find in it much that was poetical.
Only my word of honour to Dimitri that I would never indulge in
dissipation with these new comrades kept me from deciding also to share
their diversions.

Once, I thought I would make a display of my knowledge of literature,
particularly French literature, and so led the conversation to that
theme. Judge, then, of my surprise when I discovered that not only had
my companions been reading the foreign passages in Russian, but that
they had studied far more foreign works than I had, and knew and could
appraise English, and even Spanish, writers of whom I had never so
much as heard! Likewise, Pushkin and Zhukovski represented to them
LITERATURE, and not, as to myself, certain books in yellow covers which
I had once read and studied when a child. For Dumas and Sue they had
an almost equal contempt, and, in general, were competent to form much
better and clearer judgments on literary matters than I was, for all
that I refused to recognise the fact. In knowledge of music, too, I
could not beat them, and was astonished to find that Operoff played the
violin, and another student the cello and piano, while both of them were
members of the University orchestra, and possessed a wide knowledge
of and appreciation of good music. In short, with the exception of the
French and German languages, my companions were better posted at every
point than I was, yet not the least proud of the fact. True, I might
have plumed myself on my position as a man of the world, but Woloda
excelled me even in that. Wherein, then, lay the height from which I
presumed to look down upon these comrades? In my acquaintanceship with
Prince Ivan Ivanovitch? In my ability to speak French? In my drozhki?
In my linen shirt? In my finger-nails? “Surely these things are all
rubbish,” was the thought which would come flitting through my head
under the influence of the envy which the good-fellowship and kindly,
youthful gaiety displayed around me excited in my breast. Every one
addressed his interlocutor in the second person singular. True, the
familiarity of this address almost approximated to rudeness, yet
even the boorish exterior of the speaker could not conceal a constant
endeavour never to hurt another one’s feelings. The terms “brute” or
“swine,” when used in this good-natured fashion, only convulsed me, and
gave me cause for inward merriment. In no way did they offend the person
addressed, or prevent the company at large from remaining on the most
sincere and friendly footing. In all their intercourse these youths were
delicate and forbearing in a way that only very poor and very young men
can be. However much I might detect in Zuchin’s character and amusements
an element of coarseness and profligacy, I could also detect the fact
that his drinking-bouts were of a very different order to the puerility
with burnt rum and champagne in which I had participated at Baron Z.’s.



XLIV. ZUCHIN AND SEMENOFF

Although I do not know what class of society Zuchin belonged to, I
know that, without the help either of means or social position, he
had matriculated from the Seventh Gymnasium. At that time he was
eighteen--though he looked much older--and very clever, especially in
his powers of assimilation. To him it was easier to survey the whole of
some complicated subject, to foresee its various parts and deductions,
than to use that knowledge, when gained, for reasoning out the exact
laws to which those deductions were due. He knew that he was clever,
and of the fact he was proud; yet from that very pride arose the
circumstance that he treated every one with unvarying simplicity
and good-nature. Moreover, his experience of life must have been
considerable, for already he had squandered much love, friendship,
activity, and money. Though poor and moving only in the lower ranks of
society, there was nothing which he had ever attempted for which he
did not thenceforth feel the contempt, the indifference, or the utter
disregard which were bound to result from his attaining his goal too
easily. In fact, the very ardour with which he applied himself to a
new pursuit seemed to be due to his contempt for what he had already
attained, since his abilities always led him to success, and therefore
to a certain right to despise it. With the sciences it was the
same. Though little interested in them, and taking no notes, he knew
mathematics thoroughly, and was uttering no vain boast when he said
that he could beat the professor himself. Much of what he heard said
in lectures he thought rubbish, yet with his peculiar habit of
unconsciously practical roguishness he feigned to subscribe to all that
the professors thought important, and every professor adored him. True,
he was outspoken to the authorities, but they none the less respected
him. Besides disliking and despising the sciences, he despised all who
laboured to attain what he himself had mastered so easily, since the
sciences, as he understood them, did not occupy one-tenth part of his
powers. In fact, life, as he saw it from the student’s standpoint,
contained nothing to which he could devote himself wholly, and his
impetuous, active nature (as he himself often said) demanded life
complete: wherefore he frequented the drinking-bout in so far as he
could afford it, and surrendered himself to dissipation chiefly out of
a desire to get as far away from himself as possible. Consequently,
just as the examinations were approaching, Operoff’s prophecy to me came
true, for Zuchin wasted two whole weeks in this fashion, and we had to
do the latter part of our preparation at another student’s. Yet at the
first examination he reappeared with pale, haggard face and tremulous
hands, and passed brilliantly into the second course!

The company of roisterers of which Zuchin had been the leader since
its formation at the beginning of the term consisted of eight students,
among whom, at first, had been numbered Ikonin and Semenoff; but the
former had left under the strain of the continuous revelry in which the
band had indulged in the early part of the term, and the latter seceded
later for reasons which were never wholly explained. In its early
days this band had been looked upon with awe by all the fellows of our
course, and had had its exploits much discussed. Of these exploits
the leading heroes had been Zuchin and, towards the end of the term,
Semenoff, but the latter had come to be generally shunned, and to cause
disturbances on the rare occasions when he attended a lecture. Just
before the examinations began, he rounded off his drinking exploits in a
most energetic and original fashion, as I myself had occasion to witness
(through my acquaintanceship with Zuchin). This is how it was. One
evening we had just assembled at Zuchin’s, and Operoff, reinforcing a
candlestick with a candle stuck in a bottle, had just plunged his nose
into his notebooks and begun to read aloud in his thin voice from his
neatly-written notes on physics, when the landlady entered the room,
and informed Zuchin that some one had brought a note for him... [The
remainder of this chapter is omitted in the original.]



XLV. I COME TO GRIEF

At length the first examination--on differentials and integrals--drew
near, but I continued in a vague state which precluded me from forming
any clear idea of what was awaiting me. Every evening, after consorting
with Zuchin and the rest, the thought would occur to me that there was
something in my convictions which I must change--something wrong and
mistaken; yet every morning the daylight would find me again satisfied
to be “comme il faut,” and desirous of no change whatsoever.

Such was the frame of mind in which I attended for the first
examination. I seated myself on the bench where the princes, counts,
and barons always sat, and began talking to them in French, with the not
unnatural result that I never gave another thought to the answers
which I was shortly to return to questions in a subject of which I
knew nothing. I gazed supinely at other students as they went up to be
examined, and even allowed myself to chaff some of them.

“Well, Grap,” I said to Ilinka (who, from our first entry into the
University, had shaken off my influence, had ceased to smile when I
spoke to him, and always remained ill-disposed towards me), “have you
survived the ordeal?”

“Yes,” retorted Ilinka. “Let us see if YOU can do so.”

I smiled contemptuously at the answer, notwithstanding that the doubt
which he had expressed had given me a momentary shock. Once again,
however, indifference overlaid that feeling, and I remained so entirely
absent-minded and supine that, the very moment after I had been examined
(a mere formality for me, as it turned out) I was making a dinner
appointment with Baron Z. When called out with Ikonin, I smoothed
the creases in my uniform, and walked up to the examiner’s table with
perfect sang froid.

True, a slight shiver of apprehension ran down my back when the young
professor--the same one as had examined me for my matriculation--looked
me straight in the face as I reached across to the envelope containing
the tickets. Ikonin, though taking a ticket with the same plunge of his
whole body as he had done at the previous examinations, did at least
return some sort of an answer this time, though a poor one. I, on the
contrary, did just as he had done on the two previous occasions, or even
worse, since I took a second ticket, yet for a second time returned no
answer. The professor looked me compassionately in the face, and said in
a quiet, but determined, voice:

“You will not pass into the second course, Monsieur Irtenieff. You had
better not complete the examinations. The faculty must be weeded out.
The same with you, Monsieur Ikonin.”

Ikonin implored leave to finish the examinations, as a great favour, but
the professor replied that he (Ikonin) was not likely to do in two days
what he had not succeeded in doing in a year, and that he had not the
smallest chance of passing. Ikonin renewed his humble, piteous appeals,
but the professor was inexorable.

“You can go, gentlemen,” he remarked in the same quiet, resolute voice.

I was only too glad to do so, for I felt ashamed of seeming, by my
silent presence, to be joining in Ikonin’s humiliating prayers for
grace. I have no recollection of how I threaded my way through the
students in the hall, nor of what I replied to their questions, nor
of how I passed into the vestibule and departed home. I was offended,
humiliated, and genuinely unhappy.

For three days I never left my room, and saw no one, but found relief
in copious tears. I should have sought a pistol to shoot myself if I had
had the necessary determination for the deed. I thought that Ilinka Grap
would spit in my face when he next met me, and that he would have the
right to do so; that Operoff would rejoice at my misfortune, and tell
every one of it; that Kolpikoff had justly shamed me that night at the
restaurant; that my stupid speeches to Princess Kornikoff had had their
fitting result; and so on, and so on. All the moments in my life which
had been for me most difficult and painful recurred to my mind. I tried
to blame some one for my calamity, and thought that some one must have
done it on purpose--must have conspired a whole intrigue against me.
Next, I murmured against the professors, against my comrades, Woloda,
Dimitri, and Papa (the last for having sent me to the University at
all). Finally, I railed at Providence for ever having let me see such
ignominy. Believing myself ruined for ever in the eyes of all who knew
me, I besought Papa to let me go into the hussars or to the Caucasus.
Naturally, Papa was anything but pleased at what had happened; yet, on
seeing my passionate grief, he comforted me by saying that, though it
was a bad business, it might yet be mended by my transferring to another
faculty. Woloda, who also saw nothing very terrible in my misfortune,
added that at least I should not be put out of countenance in a new
faculty, since I should have new comrades there. As for the ladies of
the household, they neither knew nor cared what either an examination or
a plucking meant, and condoled with me only because they saw me in
such distress. Dimitri came to see me every day, and was very kind and
consolatory throughout; but for that very reason he seemed to me to
have grown colder than before. It always hurt me and made me feel
uncomfortable when he came up to my room and seated himself in silence
beside me, much as a doctor might scat himself by the bedside of an
awkward patient. Sophia Ivanovna and Varenika sent me books for which I
had expressed a wish, as also an invitation to go and see them, but
in that very thoughtfulness of theirs I saw only proud, humiliating
condescension to one who had fallen beyond forgiveness. Although, in
three days’ time, I grew calmer, it was not until we departed for the
country that I left the house, but spent the time in nursing my grief
and wandering, fearful of all the household, through the various rooms.

One evening, as I was sitting deep in thought and listening to Avdotia
playing her waltz, I suddenly leapt to my feet, ran upstairs, got out
the copy-book whereon I had once inscribed “Rules of My Life,” opened
it, and experienced my first moment of repentance and moral resolution.
True, I burst into tears once more, but they were no longer tears of
despair. Pulling myself together, I set about writing out a fresh set
of rules, in the assured conviction that never again would I do a wrong
action, waste a single moment on frivolity, or alter the rules which I
now decided to frame.

How long that moral impulse lasted, what it consisted of, and what new
principles I devised for my moral growth I will relate when speaking of
the ensuing and happier portion of my early manhood.





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