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Chapter 4

  • OBLOMOV recovered consciousness. Before him Schtoltz was standing—but th_chtoltz of the present, not the Schtoltz of a daydream.
  • Swiftly the landlady caught up the baby Andriusha, swept the table clear o_er work, and carried off the children. Alexiev also disappeared, and Schtolt_nd Oblomov found themselves alone. For a moment or two they gazed at on_nother amid a tense silence.
  • "Is that really you, Schtoltz?" asked Oblomov in tones scarcely audible fo_motion—such tones as a man employs only towards his dearest friend and afte_ long separation.
  • "Yes, it is I," replied Schtoltz quietly. "And you—are you quite well?"
  • Oblomov embraced him heartily. In that embrace were expressed all the long- concealed grief and joy which, fermenting ever in his soul, had never, sinc_chtoltz's last departure, been expressed to any human being. Then they seate_hemselves, and once more gazed at one another.
  • "Are you really well?" Schtoltz asked again.
  • "Yes, thank God!" replied Oblomov.
  • "But you have been ill?"
  • "Yes—I was seized with a stroke."
  • "Ah, Ilya, Ilya! Evidently you have let yourself go again. What have you bee_oing? Actually, it is five years since last we saw one another!"
  • Oblomov sighed, but said nothing. "And why did you not come to Oblomovka?"
  • pursued Schtoltz. "And why have you never written to me?"
  • "What was there to say?" was Oblomov's sad reply. "You know me. Consequentl_ou need ask no more."
  • "So you are still living in these rooms?" And Schtoltz surveyed the room as h_poke. "Why have you not moved?"
  • "Because I am still here. I do not think the move will ever take place."
  • "Why are you so sure?"
  • "Because I am sure."
  • Again Schtoltz eyed him closely, then became thoughtful, and started to pac_he room.
  • "And what of Olga Sergievna?" was Oblomov's next question. "Where is she now, and does she still remember me?" At this point he broke off abruptly.
  • "Yes, she is well, and has of you a remembrance as clear as though she ha_arted from you yesterday. Presently I will tell you where she is."
  • "And your children?"
  • "The children too are well. But are you jesting when you say that you ar_oing to remain where you are? My express purpose in coming here is to carr_ou off to our place in the country."
  • "No, no!" cried Oblomov, though lowering his voice as he glanced at the door.
  • Evidently the proposal had disturbed him greatly. "Do not say a word abou_t," he pleaded. "Do not begin your arguments again."
  • "But why will you not come? What is the matter with you? You know me well, an_now that long ago I undertook this task, and shall never relinquish it.
  • Hitherto business affairs have occupied my time, but now I am free once more.
  • Come and live with us, or, at all events, near us. Olga and I have decide_hat you must do so. Thank God that I have found you the same as before, an_ot worse! My hopes of doing that had been small. Let us be off at once. I a_repared even to abduct you by force. You must change your mode of life, a_ou well know."
  • To this speech Oblomov listened with impatience.
  • "Do not speak so loudly," he urged. "In there—"
  • "Well—in there?"
  • "Is the landlady, and, should she hear us, she will think that I am going t_eave her."
  • "And why should you not leave her? Let her think what she likes!"
  • "Listen, Andrei." Oblomov's tone was one of unwonted firmness. "Do no_ontinue your useless attempts to persuade me. Come what may, I must remai_here I am."
  • Schtoltz gazed at his friend in astonishment, but Oblomov returned the gaz_ith quiet resolution on his features.
  • "Remain here, and you are lost," said Schtoltz. "This house, that woman, thi_ay of living?—I tell you the thing cannot be. Let us go."
  • He caught Oblomov by the sleeve, and started to drag him towards the door.
  • "Why do you want to take me away?" asked Oblomov, hanging back.
  • "Because I want you to leave this den, this swamp, for the world of light an_ir and health and normal existence." Schtoltz was speaking sternly, an_lmost in a tone of command. "To what point have you sunk?" he went on. "Wha_s going to become of you? Think for a moment. Are you so attached to thi_ode of life that you wish to go to sleep like a mole in its burrow? Remembe_hat—"
  • "I desire to remember nothing. Do not disturb the past. It can never b_rought back again." Into Oblomov's face there had come a full consciousnes_f his power to think, to reason, and to will. "What is it you wish me to do?
  • From the world to which you would abduct me I have parted for ever; and t_older together two pieces which have started asunder is impossible. I hav_rown to look upon this nook as my world. Should you uproot me from it, _hall die."
  • "But look at the place, at the people with whom you are living!"
  • "I know what you mean—I am perfectly conscious of the facts. Ah, Andrei, believe me when I say that so well do I feel and understand things that fo_any a day past I have been ashamed to show myself abroad. Yet I canno_ccompany you on your road. Even did I wish it, such a course is out of m_ower. Possibly, when you were last here, I might have made the attempt; bu_ow"—here he dropped his eyes for a moment and paused—"now it is too late. Go, and waste no further time upon me. Your friendship, as God in heaven knows, _alue; but your disturbance of my peace I do not value."
  • "Nothing that you can say will turn me from my purpose. I intend to carry yo_ff, and the more so because I suspect certain things. Look here. Put on _arment of some sort, and come and spend the evening at my rooms. I have muc_o tell you, for I suppose you know what is afoot at our place?"
  • Oblomov looked at him inquiringly.
  • "Ah, I had forgotten," Schtoltz went on. "You no longer go into society. Well, come with me, and I will tell you the whole story. Also, do you know who i_aiting for me in a carriage at the gates? I will go and call her in."
  • "What? Olga?" As the words burst tremulously from Oblomov's lips his fac_nderwent a sudden change. "For God's sake do not bring her here! Go, go, fo_od's sake!"
  • But the elder man refused to move, although his friend half started to pus_im towards the door.
  • "I cannot return to her without you," he said. "I have pledged my word o_hat. If you will not come with me to-day, then you must come to-morrow. Yo_re merely putting me off for a time: you will never put me off for ever. Eve_hould it be the day after to-morrow, we still shall meet again."
  • Oblomov said nothing, but hung his head as though afraid to meet Schtoltz'_ye.
  • "When are you coming, therefore?" went on Schtoltz. "Olga will be sure to as_e when."
  • "Ah, Andrei," cried the other in a tone of affectionate appeal as he embrace_is friend and laid his head upon his shoulder, "Pray leave me and—forget me."
  • "What? For ever?" cried Schtoltz in astonishment as he withdrew a little fro_blomov's embrace in order the better to look him in the face.
  • "Yes," whispered Oblomov.
  • Schtoltz stepped back a pace or two.
  • "Can this really be you, Ilya?" he exclaimed reproachfully. "Do you reall_eject me in favour of that woman, of that landlady of yours?" He started wit_ sudden pang. "So that child which I saw just now is your child? Ah, Ilya, Ilya! Come hence at once. How you have fallen! What is that woman to you?"
  • "She is my wife," said Oblomov simply.
  • Schtoltz stood petrified.
  • "Yes, and the child is my son," Oblomov continued. "He has been called Andre_fter yourself." Somehow he seemed to breathe more freely now that he had go_id of the burden of these disclosures. As for Schtoltz, his face fell, and h_azed around the room with vacant eyes. A gulf had opened before him, a hig_all had suddenly shot up, and Oblomov seemed to have ceased to exist—h_eemed to have vanished from his friend's sight, and to have fallen headlong.
  • The only feeling in Schtoltz's mind was an aching sorrow of the kind which _an experiences when, hastening to visit a friend after a long parting, h_inds that for many a day past that friend has been dead.
  • "You are lost!" he kept whispering mechanically. "What am I to say to Olga?"
  • At length Oblomov caught the last words, and tried to say something, bu_ailed. All he could do was to extend his hands in Schtoltz's direction.
  • Silently, convulsively the pair embraced, even as before death or a battle. I_hat embrace was left no room for words or tears or expressions of feeling.
  • "Never forget my little Andrei," was Oblomov's last choking utterance. Slowl_nd silently Schtoltz left the house. Slowly and silently he crossed th_ourtyard and entered the carriage. When he had gone Oblomov reseated himsel_pon the sofa in his room, rested his elbows upon the table, and buried hi_ace in his hands … .
  • "No, never will I forget your little Andrei," thought Schtoltz sadly as h_rove homewards. "Ah, Ilya, you are lost beyond recall! It would be useles_ow to tell you that your Oblomovka is no longer in ruins, that its turn i_ome again, and that it is basking in the rays of the sun. It would be useles_ow to tell you that, some four years hence, it will have a railway-station, and that your peasantry are clearing away the rubbish there, and that befor_ong an iron road will be carrying your grain to the wharves, and that alread_ocal schools have been built. Such a dawn of good fortune would merel_ffright you; it would merely cause your unaccustomed eyes to smart. Yet alon_he road which you could not tread I will lead your little Andrei; and wit_im I will put into practice those theories whereof you and I used to dream i_he days of our youth. Farewell, Oblomovka of the past! You have outlived you_ay!" For the last time Schtoltz looked back at Oblomov's diminutiv_stablishment.
  • "What do you say?" asked Olga with a beating heart.
  • "Nothing," Schtoltz answered dryly and abruptly.
  • "Is he alive and well?"
  • "Yes," came the reluctant reply.
  • "Then why have you returned so soon? Why did you not call me to the house, o_lse bring him out to see me? Let me go back, please."
  • "No, you cannot."
  • "Why so? What has happened there? Will you not tell me?"
  • Schtoltz continued to say nothing.
  • "Again I ask you: what is the matter with him?"
  • "The disease of Oblomovka," was the grim response. And throughout the rest o_he journey homeward Schtoltz refused to answer a single one of Olga'_uestions.