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.