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Chapter 5

  • FIVE years have passed, and more than one change has taken place in th_eaborg Quarter. The street which used to lead, unenclosed, to Oblomov'_umble abode is now lined with villas. In the midst of them a tall ston_overnment office rears its head between the sunlight and the windows of tha_uiet, peaceful little house which the sun's rays once warmed so cheerfully.
  • The house itself has grown old and crazy: it wears a dull, neglected look lik_hat of a man who is unshaven and unwashed. In places the paint has peele_way, and in others the gutters are broken. To the latter is due the fact tha_ools of dirty water stand in the courtyard, and that thrown across them is _iece of old planking. Should a visitor approach the wicket, the old watchdo_o longer leaps nimbly to the extent of his chain, but gives tongue hoarsel_nd lazily from the interior of his kennel.
  • And, within the house, what changes have taken place! Over it there reigns _ifferent housewife to the former one, and different children sport in play.
  • Again is seen about the premises the lean countenance of Tarantiev, rathe_han the kindly, careless features of Alexiev; while of Zakhar and Anisia als_here is not a sign discernible. A new cook performs, rudely and unwillingly,
  • the quiet behests of Agafia Matvievna, and our old friend Akulina—her apro_irded around her middle—washes up, as formerly, the domestic crockery and th_ots and pans. Lastly, the same old sleepy dvornik whiles away the same ol_dle life in the same old den by the gates, and at a given hour each morning,
  • as well as always at the hour of the evening meal, there flashes past th_ailings of the fence the figure of Agafia's brother, clad, summer and winte_like, in galoshes, and always carrying under his arm a large bundle o_ocuments.
  • But what of Oblomov? Where is he—where? Under a modest urn in the adjoinin_emetery his body rests among the shrubs. All is quiet where he is lying; onl_ lilac-tree, planted there by a loving hand, waves its boughs to and fro ove_he grave as it mingles its scent with the sweet, calm odour of wormwood. On_ould think that the Angel of Peace himself were watching over the dead man'_lumbers… .
  • Despite his wife's ceaseless and devoted care for every moment of hi_xistence, the prolonged inertia, the unbroken stillness, the sluggish glidin_rom day to day had ended by quietly arresting the machine of life. Thu_blomov met his end, to all appearances without pain, without distress, eve_s stops a watch which its owner has forgotten to wind up. No one witnesse_is last moments or heard his expiring gasp. A second stroke of apoplex_ccurred within a year of the first, and, like its precursor, passed awa_avourably. Later, however, Oblomov became pale and weak, took to eatin_ittle and seldom walking in the garden, and increased in moodiness an_aciturnity as the days went on. At times he would even burst into tears, fo_e felt death drawing nearer, and was afraid of it. One or two relapse_ccurred, from which he rallied, and then Agafia Matvievna entered his room,
  • one morning, to find him resting on his deathbed as quietly as he had done i_leep—the only difference being that his head had slipped a little from th_illow, and that one of his hands was convulsively clutching the region of th_eart in a manner which suggested that the pain had there centred itself unti_he circulation of the blood had stopped for ever.
  • After his death Agafia Matvievna's sister-in-law, Irina Paptelievna, assume_ontrol of the establishment. That is to say, she arrogated to herself th_ight to rise late in the morning, to drink three cups of coffee fo_reakfast, to change her dress three times a day, and to confine he_ousewifely energies to seeing that her gowns were starched to the utmos_egree of stiffness. More she would not trouble to undertake, and, as before,
  • Agafia Matvievna remained the active pendulum of the domestic clock. Not onl_id she superintend the kitchen and the dining-room, and prepare tea an_offee for the entire household, but also she did the general mending an_upervised the linen, the children, Akulina, and the dvornik.
  • Why was this? Was she not Madame Oblomov and the proprietress of a lande_state? Might she not have maintained a separate, an independen_stablishment, and have wanted for nothing, and have been at no one's beck an_all? What had led her to take upon her shoulders the burden of another'_ousekeeping, the care of another's children, and all those petty detail_hich women usually assume only at the call of love, or in obedience to sacre_amily ties, or for the purpose of earning a morsel of daily bread? Where,
  • too, were Zakhar and Anisia—now become, by every right of law, her servants?
  • Where, too, was the little treasure, Andrei, which Oblomov had bequeathed her?
  • Where, finally, were her children by her first husband?
  • Those children were now all provided for. That is to say, Vania had finishe_is schooling and entered Government service, his sister had married th_anager of a Government office, and little Andrei had been committed to th_are of Schtoltz and his wife, who looked upon him as a member of their ow_amily. Never for a moment did Agafia Matvievna mentally compare his lot, o_lace it on a level with, that of her first children—although, unconsciousl_t may be, she allotted them all an equal place in her heart. In her opinio_he little Andrei's upbringing, mode of life, and future career stood divide_y an immeasurable gulf from the fortunes of Vania and his sister.
  • "What are they?" she would say to herself when she called to see Andrei. "The_re children born of the people, whereas this one was born a young barin."
  • Then she would caress the boy, if not with actual timidity, at all events wit_ certain touch of caution, and add to herself with something like respect:
  • "What a white skin he has! 'Tis almost transparent. And what tiny hands an_eet, too, and what silky hair! He is just like his dead father." Consequentl_he was the more ready to accede to Schtoltz's request when he asked her tha_e (Schtoltz) should educate the youngster; since she felt sure tha_chtoltz's household was far more the lad's proper place than was her ow_stablishment, where he would have been thrown among her grimy young nephews.
  • Clad in black, she would glide like a shadow from room to room of th_ouse—opening and shutting cupboards, sewing, making lace, but doin_verything quietly, and without the least sign of energy. When spoken to, sh_ould reply as though to do so were an effort. Moreover, her eyes no longe_lanced swiftly from object to object, as they had done in the old days:
  • rather, they remained fixed in a sort of ever concentrated gaze. Probably the_ad assumed that gaze during the hour when she had stood looking at her dea_usband's face.
  • That the light of her life was fast flickering before going out, that God ha_reathed His breath into her existence and taken it away again, and that he_un had shone brilliantly and was setting for ever, she clearly understood.
  • Yes, that sun was setting for ever, but not before she had learnt the reaso_hy she had been given life, and the fact that she had not lived in vain.
  • Greatly she had loved, and to the full: she had loved Oblomov as a lover, as _usband, and as a barin. But around her there was no one to comprehend this;
  • wherefore she kept her grief the more closely locked in her own bosom.
  • Only, next winter, when Schtoltz came to town, she ran to see him, and to gaz_ungrily at little Andrei, whom she covered with caresses. Presently she trie_o say something—to thank Schtoltz, and to pour out before him all that ha_een accumulating in her heart in the absence of an outlet. Such words h_ould have understood perfectly, had they been uttered. But the task wa_eyond her—she could only throw herself upon Olga, glue her lips to her hand,
  • and burst into such a torrent of scalding tears that perforce Olga wept wit_er, and Schtoltz, greatly moved, hastened from the room. All three had now _ommon bond of sympathy—that bond being the memory of Oblomov's unsullie_oul. More than once Schtoltz and Olga besought the widow to come and liv_ith them in the country, but always she replied: "Where I was born and hav_ived my live, there must I also die." Likewise, when Schtoltz proposed t_ender her an account of his management of the Oblomovkan property, sh_eturned him the income therefrom, with a request that he should lay it by fo_he benefit of little Andrei.
  • "'Tis his, not mine," she said. "He is the barin, and I will continue to liv_s I have always done.