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Chapter 2 Prince Harry. Matchmaking.

  • THERE WAS ANOTHER being in the world to whom Varvara Petrovna was as muc_ttached as she was to Stepan Trofimovitch, her only son, Nikola_syevolodovitch Stavrogin. It was to undertake his education that Stepa_rofimovitch had been engaged. The boy was at that time eight years old, an_is frivolous father, General Stavrogin, was already living apart from Varvar_etrovna, so that the child grew up entirely in his mother's care. To d_tepan Trofimovitch justice, he knew how to win his pupil's heart. The whol_ecret of this lay in the fact that he was a child himself. I was not there i_hose days, and he continually felt the want of a real friend. He did no_esitate to make a friend of this little creature as soon as he had grown _ittle older. It somehow came to pass quite naturally that there seemed to b_o discrepancy of age between them. More than once he awaked his ten- o_leven-year-old friend at night, simply to pour out his wounded feelings an_eep before him, or to tell him some family secret, without realising tha_his was an outrageous proceeding. They threw themselves into each other'_rms and wept. The boy knew that his mother loved him very much, but I doub_hether he cared much for her. She talked little to him and did not ofte_nterfere with him, but he was always morbidly conscious of her intent, searching eyes fixed upon him. Yet the mother confided his whole instructio_nd moral education to Stepan Trofimovitch. At that time her faith in him wa_nshaken. One can't help believing that the tutor had rather a bad influenc_n his pupil's nerves. When at sixteen he was taken to a lyceum he wa_ragile-looking and pale, strangely quiet and dreamy. (Later on he wa_istinguished by great physical strength.) One must assume too that th_riends went on weeping at night, throwing themselves in each other's arms, though their tears were not always due to domestic difficulties. Stepa_rofimovitch succeeded in reaching the deepest chords in his pupil's heart, and had aroused in him a vague sensation of that eternal, sacred yearnin_hich some elect souls can never give up for cheap gratification when onc_hey have tasted and known it. (There are some connoisseurs who prize thi_earning more than the most complete satisfaction of it, if such wer_ossible.) But in any case it was just as well that the pupil and th_receptor were, though none too soon, parted.
  • For the first two years the lad used to come home from the lyceum for th_olidays. While Varvara Petrovna and Stepan Trofimovitch were staying i_etersburg he was sometimes present at the literary evenings at his mother's, he listened and looked on. He spoke little, and was quiet and shy as before.
  • His manner to Stepan Trofimovitch was as affectionately attentive as ever, bu_here was a shade of reserve in it. He unmistakably avoided distressing, loft_ubjects or reminiscences of the past. By his mother's wish he entered th_rmy on completing the school course, and soon received a commission in one o_he most brilliant regiments of the Horse Guards. He did not come to sho_imself to his mother in his uniform, and his letters from Petersburg began t_e infrequent. Varvara Petrovna sent him money without stint, though after th_mancipation the revenue from her estate was so diminished that at first he_ncome was less than half what it had been before. She had, however, _onsiderable sum laid by through years of economy. She took great interest i_er son's success in the highest Petersburg society. Where she had failed, th_ealthy young officer with expectations succeeded. He renewed acquaintance_hich she had hardly dared to dream of, and was welcomed everywhere wit_leasure. But very soon rather strange rumours reached Varvara Petrovna. Th_oung man had suddenly taken to riotous living with a sort of frenzy. Not tha_e gambled or drank too much; there was only talk of savage recklessness, o_unning over people in the street with his horses, of brutal conduct to a lad_f good society with whom he had a liaison and whom he afterwards publicl_nsulted. There was a callous nastiness about this affair. It was added, too, that he had developed into a regular bully, insulting people for the mer_leasure of insulting them. Varvara Petrovna was greatly agitated an_istressed. Stepan Trofimovitch assured her that this was only the firs_iotous effervescence of a too richly endowed nature, that the storm woul_ubside and that this was only like the youth of Prince Harry, who carouse_ith Falstaff, Poins, and Mrs. Quickly, as described by Shakespeare.
  • This time Varvara Petrovna did not cry out, "Nonsense, nonense!" as she wa_ery apt to do in later years in response to Stepan Trofimovitch. On th_ontrary she listened very eagerly, asked him to explain this theory mor_xactly, took up Shakespeare herself and with great attention read th_mmortal chronicle. But it did not comfort her, and indeed she did not fin_he resemblance very striking. With feverish impatience she awaited answers t_ome of her letters. She had not long to wait for them. The fatal news soo_eached her that "Prince Harry" had been involved in two duels almost at once, was entirely to blame for both of them, had killed one of his adversaries o_he spot and had maimed the other and was awaiting his trial in consequence.
  • The case ended in his being degraded to the ranks, deprived of the rights of _obleman, and transferred to an infantry line regiment, and he only escape_orse punishment by special favour.
  • In 1863 he somehow succeeded in distinguishing himself; he received a cross, was promoted to be a non-commissioned officer, and rose rapidly to the rank o_n officer. During this period Varvara Petrovna despatched perhaps hundreds o_etters to the capital, full of prayers and supplications. She even stooped t_ome humiliation in this extremity. After his promotion the young man suddenl_esigned his commission, but he did not come back to Skvoreshniki again, an_ave up writing to his mother altogether. They learned by roundabout mean_hat he was back in Petersburg, but that he was not to be met in the sam_ociety as before; he seemed to be in hiding. They found out that he wa_iving in strange company, associating with the dregs of the population o_etersburg, with slip-shod government clerks, discharged military men, beggar_f the higher class, and drunkards of all sortsthat he visited their filth_amilies, spent days and nights in dark slums and all sorts of low haunts, that he had sunk very low, that he was in rags, and that apparently he like_t. He did not ask his mother for money, he had his own little estateonce th_roperty of his father, General Stavrogin, which yielded at least som_evenue, and which, it was reported, he had let to a German from Saxony. A_ast his mother besought him to come to her, and "Prince Harry" made hi_ppearance in our town. I had never feet eyes him before, but now I got a ver_istinct impression of him. He was a very handsome young man of five-and- twenty, and I must own I was impressed by him. I had expected to see a dirt_agamuffin, sodden with drink and debauchery. He was on the contrary, the mos_legant gentleman I had ever met' extremely well dressed, with an air an_anner only to be found in a man accustomed to culture and refinement. I wa_ot the only person surprised. It was a surprise to all the townspeople t_hom, of course, young Stavrogin's whole biography was well known in it_inutest details, though one could not imagine how they had got hold of them, and, what was still more surprising, half of their stories about him turne_ut to be true.
  • All our ladies were wild over the new visitor. They were sharply divided int_wo parties, one of which adored him while the other half regarded him with _atred that was almost blood-thirsty: but both were crazy about him. Some o_hem were particularly fascinated by the idea that he had perhaps a fatefu_ecret hidden in his soul; others were positively delighted at the fact tha_e was a murderer. It appeared too that he had had a very good education an_as indeed a man of considerable culture. No great acquirements were needed, of course, to astonish us. But he could judge also of very interestin_veryday affairs, and, what was of the utmost value, he judged of them wit_emarkable good sense. I must mention as a peculiar fact that almost from th_irst day we all of us thought him a very sensible fellow. He was not ver_alkative, he was elegant without exaggeration, surprisingly modest, and a_he same time bold and self-reliant, as none of us were. Our dandies gazed a_im with envy, and were completely eclipsed by him. His face, too, impresse_e. His hair was of a peculiarly intense black, his light-coloured eyes wer_eculiarly light and calm, his complexion was peculiarly soft and white, th_ed in his cheeks was too bright and clear, his teeth were like pearls, an_is lips like coralone would have thought that he must be a paragon of beauty, yet at the same time there seemed something repellent about him. It was sai_hat his face suggested a mask; so much was said though, among other thing_hey talked of his extraordinary physical strength. He was rather tall.
  • Varvara Petrovna looked at him with pride, yet with continual uneasiness. H_pent about six months among uslistless, quiet, rather morose. He made hi_ppearance in society, and with unfailing propriety performed all the dutie_emanded by our provincial etiquette. He was related, on his father's side, t_he governor, and was received by the latter as a near kinsman. But a fe_onths passed and the wild beast showed his claws.
  • I may observe by the way, in parenthesis, that Ivan Ossipovitch, our dear mil_overnor, was rather like an old woman, though he was of good family an_ighly connectedwhich explains the fact that he remained so long among us, though he steadily avoided all the duties of his office. From his munificenc_nd hospitality he ought rather to have been a marshal of nobility of the goo_ld days than a governor in such busy times as ours. It was always said in th_own that it was not he, but Varvara Petrovna who governed the province. O_ourse this was said sarcastically; however, it was certainly a falsehood.
  • And, indeed, much wit was wasted on the subject among us. On the contrary, i_ater years, Varvara Petrovna purposely and consciously withdrew from anythin_ike a position of authority, and, in spite of the extraordinary respect i_hich she was held by the whole province, voluntarily confined her influenc_ithin strict limits set up by herself. Instead of these highe_esponsibilities she suddenly took up the management of her estate, and, within two or three years, raised the revenue from it almost to what it ha_ielded in the past. Giving up her former romantic impulses (trips t_etersburg, plans for founding a magazine, and so on) she began to be carefu_nd to save money. She kept even Stepan Trofimovitch at a distance, allowin_im to take lodgings in another house (a change for which he had long bee_orrying her under various pretexts). Little by little Stepan Trofimovitc_egan to call her a prosaic woman, or more jestingly, "My prosaic friend." _eed hardly say he only ventured on such jests in an extremely respectfu_orm, and on rare, and carefully chosen, occasions.
  • All of us in her intimate circle feltStepan Trofimovitch more acutely than an_f usthat her son had come to her almost, as it were, as a new hope, and eve_s a sort of new aspiration. Her passion for her son dated from the time o_is successes in Petersburg society, and grew more intense from the momen_hat he was degraded in the army. Yet she was evidently afraid of him, an_eemed like a slave in his presence. It could be seen that she was afraid o_omething vague and mysterious which she could not have put into words, an_he often stole searching glances at "Nicolas," scrutinising him reflectively … and beholdthe wild beast suddenly showed his claws.
  • Suddenly, apropos of nothing, our prince was guilty of incredible outrage_pon various persons and, what was most striking these outrages were utterl_nheard of, quite inconceivable, unlike anything commonly done, utterly sill_nd mischievous, quite unprovoked and objectless. One of the most respected o_ur club members, on our committee of management, Pyotr Pavlovitch Gaganov, a_lderly man of high rank in the service, had formed the innocent habit o_eclaring vehemently on all sorts of occasions: "No, you can't lead me by th_ose!" Well, there is no harm in that. But one day at the club, when h_rought out this phrase in connection with some heated discussion in the mids_f a little group of members (all persons of some consequence) Nikola_syevolodovitch, who was standing on one side, alone and unnoticed, suddenl_ent up to Pyotr Pavlovitch, took him unexpectedly and firmly with two finger_y the nose, and succeeded in leading him two or three steps across the room.
  • He could have had no grudge against Mr. Gaganov. It might be thought to be _ere schoolboy prank, though, of course, a most unpardonable one. Yet, describing it afterwards, people said that he looked almost dreamy at the ver_nstant of the operation, "as though he had gone out of his mind," but tha_as recalled and reflected upon long afterwards. In the excitement of th_oment all they recalled was the minute after, when he certainly saw it all a_t really was, and far from being confused smiled gaily and maliciously
  • "without the slightest regret." There was a terrific outcry; he wa_urrounded. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch kept turning round, looking about him, answering nobody, and glancing curiously at the persons exclaiming around him.
  • At last he seemed suddenly, as it were, to sink into thought againso at leas_t was reportedfrowned, went firmly up to the affronted Pyotr Pavlovitch, an_ith evident vexation said in a rapid mutter:
  • "You must forgive me, of course … I really don't know what suddenly came ove_e … it's silly."
  • The carelessness of his apology was almost equivalent to a fresh insult. Th_utcry was greater than ever. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch shrugged his shoulder_nd went away. All this was very stupid, to say nothing of its gross indecency
  • A calculated and premeditated indecency as it seemed at first sightan_herefore a premeditated and utterly brutal insult to our whole society. So i_as taken to be by every one. We began by promptly and unanimously strikin_oung Stavrogin's name off the list of club members. Then it was decided t_end an. appeal in the name of the whole club to the governor, begging him a_nce (without waiting for the case to be formally tried in court) to use "th_dministrative power entrusted to him" to restrain this dangerous ruffian,
  • "this duelling bully from the capital, and so protect the tranquillity of al_he gentry of our town from injurious encroachments." It was added with angr_esentment that" a law might be found to control even Mr. Stavrogin." Thi_hrase was prepared by way of a thrust at the governor on account of Varvar_etrovna. They elaborated it with relish. As ill luck would have it, th_overnor was not in the town at the time. He had gone to a little distance t_tand godfather to the child of a very charming lady, recently left a widow i_n interesting condition. But it was known that he would soon be back. In th_eanwhile they got up a regular ovation for the respected and insulte_entleman; people embraced and kissed him; the whole town called upon him. I_as even proposed to give a subscription dinner in his honour, and they onl_ave up the idea at his earnest requestreflecting possibly at last that th_an had, after all, been pulled by the nose and that that was really nothin_o congratulate him upon. Yet, how had it happened? How could it hav_appened? It is remarkable that no one in the whole town put down this savag_ct to madness. They must have been predisposed to expect such actions fro_ikolay Vsyevolodovitch, even when he was sane. For my part I don't know t_his day how to explain it, in spite of the event that quickly followed an_pparently explained everything, and conciliated every one. I will add als_hat, four years later, in reply to a discreet question from me about th_ncident at the club, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch answered, frowning: "I wasn'_uite well at the time." But there is no need to anticipate events.
  • The general outburst of hatred with which every one fell upon the "ruffian an_uelling bully from the capital" also struck me as curious. They insisted o_eeing an insolent design and deliberate intention to insult our whole societ_t once. The truth was no one liked the fellow, but, on the contrary, he ha_et every one against himand one wonders how. Up to the last incident he ha_ever quarrelled with anyone, nor insulted anyone, but was as courteous as _entleman in a fashion-plate, if only the latter were able to speak. I imagin_hat he was hated for his pride. Even our ladies, who had begun by adorin_im, railed against him now, more loudly than the men. Varvara Petrovna wa_readfully overwhelmed. She confessed afterwards to Stepan Trofimovitch tha_he had had a foreboding of all this long before, that every day for the las_ix months she had been expecting "just something of that sort," a remarkabl_dmission on the part of his own mother. "It's begun!" she thought to hersel_ith a shudder. The morning after the incident at the club she cautiously bu_irmly approached the subject with her son, but the poor woman was tremblin_ll over in spite of her firmness. She had not slept all night and even wen_ut early to Stepan Trofimovitch's lodgings to ask his advice, and shed tear_here, a thing which she had never been known to do before anyone. She longe_or "Nicolas" to say something to her, to deign to give some explanation.
  • Nikolay, who was always so polite and respectful to his mother, listened t_er for some time scowling, but very seriously. He suddenly got up withou_aying a word, kissed her hand and went away. That very evening, as though b_esign, he perpetrated another scandal. It was of a more harmless and ordinar_haracter than the first. Yet, owing to the state of the public mind, i_ncreased the outcry in the town.
  • Our friend Liputin turned up and called on Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch immediatel_fter the latter's interview with his mother, and earnestly begged for th_onour of his company at a little party he was giving for his wife's birthda_hat evening. Varvara Petrovna had long watched with a pang at her heart he_on's taste for such low company, but she had not dared to speak of it to him.
  • He had made several acquaintances besides Liputin in the third rank of ou_ociety, and even in lower depthshe had a propensity for making such friends.
  • He had never been in Liputin's house before, though he had met the ma_imself. He guessed that Liputin's invitation now was the consequence of th_revious day's scandal, and that as a local liberal he was delighted at th_candal, genuinely believing that that was the proper way to treat stewards a_he club, and that it was very well done. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch smiled an_romised to come.
  • A great number of guests had assembled. The company was not very presentable, but very sprightly. Liputin, vain and envious, only entertained visitors twic_ year, but on those occasions he did it without stint. The most honoured o_he invited guests, Stepan Trofimovitch, was prevented by illness from bein_resent. Tea was handed, and there were refreshments and vodka in plenty.
  • Cards were played at three tables, and while waiting for supper the youn_eople got up a dance. Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch led out Madame Liputina ver_retty little woman who was dreadfully shy of himtook two turns round the roo_ith her, sat down beside her, drew her into conversation and made her laugh.
  • Noticing at last how pretty she was when she laughed, he suddenly, before al_he company, seized her round the waist and kissed her on the lips two o_hree times with great relish. The poor frightened lady fainted. Nikola_syevolodovitch took his hat and went up to the husband, who stood petrifie_n the middle of the general excitement. Looking at him he, too, becam_onfused and muttering hurriedly "Don't be angry," went away. Liputin ra_fter him in the entry, gave him his fur-coat with his own hands, and saw hi_own the stairs, bowing. But next day a rather amusing sequel followed thi_omparatively harmless pranka sequel from which Liputin gained some credit, and of which he took the fullest possible advantage.
  • At ten o'clock in the morning Liputin's servant Agafya, an easy-mannered, lively, rosy-cheeked peasant woman of thirty, made her appearance a_tavrogin's house, with a message for Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. She insisted o_eeing "his honour himself." He had a very bad headache, but he went out.
  • Varvara Petrovna succeeded in being present when the message was given.
  • "Sergay Vassilyevitch" (Liputin's name), Agafya rattled off briskly, "bade m_irst of all give you his respectful greetings and ask after your health, wha_ort of night your honour spent after yesterday's doings, and how your honou_eels now after yesterday's doings?"
  • Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch smiled.
  • "Give him my greetings and thank him, and tell your master from me, Agafya, that he's the most sensible man in the town."
  • "And he told me to answer that," Agafya caught him up still more briskly,
  • "that he knows that without your telling him, and wishes you the same."
  • "Really! But how could he tell what I should say to you?"
  • "I can't say in what way he could tell, but when I had set off and had gon_ight down the street, I heard something, and there he was, running after m_ithout his cap. "I say, Agafya, if by any chance he says to you, 'Tell you_aster that he has more sense than all the town,' you tell him at once, don'_orget,' The master himself knows that very well, and wishes you the same.' "
  • At last the interview with the governor took place too. Our dear, mild, Iva_ssipovitch had only just returned and only just had time to hear the angr_omplaint from the club. There was no doubt that something must be done, bu_e was troubled. The hospitable old man seemed also rather afraid of his youn_insman. He made up his mind, however, to induce him to apologise to the clu_nd to his victim in satisfactory form, and, if required, by letter, and the_o persuade him to leave us for a time, travelling, for instance, to improv_ie mind, in Italy, or in fact anywhere abroad. In the waiting-room in whic_n this occasion he received Nikolay Vsyevoloctoyitch (who had been at othe_imes privileged as a relation to wander all over the house unchecked), Alyosha Telyatnikov, a clerk of refined manners, who was also a member of th_overnor's household, was sitting in a corner opening envelopes at a table, and in the next room, at the window nearest to the door, a stout and sturd_olonel, a former friend and colleague of the governor, was sitting alon_eading the Oolos, paying no attention, of course, to what was taking place i_he waiting-room; in fact, he had his back turned. Ivan Ossipovitch approache_he subject in a roundabout way, almost in a "whisper, but kept getting _ittle muddled. Nikolay looked anything but cordial, not at all as a relatio_hould. He was pale and sat looking down and continually moving his eyebrow_s though trying to control acute pain.
  • "You have a kind heart and a generous one, Nicolas," the old man put in amon_ther things, "you're a man of great culture, you've grown up in the highes_ircles, and here too your behaviour has hitherto been a model, which has bee_ great consolation to your mother, who is so precious to all of us… . And no_gain everything has appeared in such an unaccountable light, so detrimenta_o all! I speak as a friend of your family, as an old man who loves yo_incerely and a relation, at whose words you cannot take offence… . Tell me, what drives you to such reckless proceedings so contrary to all accepted rule_nd habits? What can be the meaning of such acts which seem almost lik_utbreaks of delirium?"
  • Nikolay listened with vexation and impatience. All at once there was a glea_f something sly and mocking in his eyes.
  • "I'll tell you what drives me to it," he said sullenly, and looking round hi_e bent down to Ivan Ossipovitch's ear. The refined Alyosha Telyatnikov move_hree steps farther away towards the window, and the colonel coughed over th_olos. Poor Ivan Ossipovitch hurriedly and trustfully inclined his ear-; h_as exceedingly curious. And then something utterly incredible, though on th_ther side only too unmistakable, took place. The old man suddenly felt that, instead of telling him some interesting secret, Nikolay had seized the uppe_art of his ear between his teeth and was nipping it rather hard. H_huddered, and breath failed him.
  • "Nicolas, this is beyond a joke!" he moaned mechanically in a voice not hi_wn.
  • Alyosha and the colonel had not yet grasped the situation, besides the_ouldn't see, and fancied up to the end that the two were whispering together; and yet the old man's desperate face alarmed them. They looked at one anothe_ith wide-open eyes, not knowing whether to rush to his assistance as agree_r to wait. Nikolay noticed this perhaps, and bit the harder.
  • "Nicolas! Nicolas!" his victim moaned again, "come … you've had your joke, that's enough!"
  • In another moment the poor governor would certainly have died of terror; bu_he monster had mercy on him, and let go his ear. The old man's deadly terro_asted for a full minute, and it was followed by a sort of fit. Within half a_our Nikolay was arrested and removed for the time to the guard-room, where h_as confined in a special cell, with a special sentinel at the door. Thi_ecision was a harsh one, but our mild governor was so angry that he wa_repared to take the responsibility even if he had to face Varvara Petrovna.
  • To the general amazement, when this lady arrived at the governor's in hast_nd in nervous irritation to discuss the matter with him at once, she wa_efused admittance, whereupon, without getting out of the carriage, sh_eturned home, unable to believe her senses.
  • And at last everything was explained! At two o'clock in the morning th_risoner, who had till then been calm and had even slept, suddenly becam_oisy, began furiously beating on the door with his fists,with unnatura_trength wrenched the iron grating off the door, broke the window, and cut hi_ands all over. When the officer on duty ran with a detachment of men and th_eys and ordered the cell to be opened that they might rush in and bind th_aniac, it appeared that he was suffering from acute brain fever. He was take_ome to his mother.
  • Everything was explained at once. All our three doctors gave it as thei_pinion that the patient might well have been in a delirious state for thre_ays before, and that though he might have apparently been in possession o_ull consciousness and cunning, yet he might have been deprived of commo_ense and will, which was indeed borne out by the facts. So it turned out tha_iputin had guessed the truth sooner than any one. Ivan Ossipovitch, who was _an of delicacy and feeling, was completely abashed. But what was striking wa_hat he, too, had considered Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch capable of any mad actio_ven when in the full possession of his faculties. At the club, too, peopl_ere ashamed and wondered how it was they had failed to "see the elephant" an_ad missed the only explanation of all these marvels: there were, of course, sceptics among them, but they could not long maintain their position.
  • Nikolay was in bed for more than two months. A famous doctor was summoned fro_oscow for a consultation; the whole town called on Varvara Petrovna. Sh_orgave them.When in the spring Nikolay had completely recovered and assente_ithout discussion to his mother's proposal that he should go for a tour t_taly, she begged him further to pay visits of farewell; to all th_eighbours, and so far as possible to apologise where necessary. Nikola_greed with great alacrity. It became known at the club that he had had a mos_elicate explanation with Pyotr Pavlovitch Gaganov, at the house of th_atter, who had been completely satisfied with his apology. As he went roun_o pay these calls Nikolay was very grave and even gloomy. Every one appeare_o receive him sympathetically, but everybody seemed embarrassed and glad tha_e was going to Italy. Ivan Ossipovitch was positively tearful, but was, fo_ome reason, unable to bring himself to embrace him, even at the final leave- taking. It is true that some of us retained the conviction that the scamp ha_imply been making fun of us, and that the illness was neither here nor there.
  • He went to see Liputin too.
  • "Tell me," he said, "how could you guess beforehand what I should say abou_our sense and prime Agafya with an answer to it?"
  • "Why," laughed Liputin, "it was because I recognised that you were a cleve_an, and so I foresaw what your answer would be."
  • "Anyway, it was a remarkable coincidence. But, excuse me, did you consider m_ sensible man and not insane when you sent Agafya?"
  • "For the cleverest and most rational, and I only pretended to believe that yo_ere insane… . And you guessed at once what was in my mind, and sent _estimonial to my wit through Agafya."
  • "Well, there you're a little mistaken. I really was … unwell … " muttere_ikolay Vsyevolodovitch, frowning. "Bah!" he cried, "do you suppose I'_apable of attacking people when I'm in my senses? What object would there b_n it?"
  • Liputin shrank together and didn't know what to answer. Nikolay turned pal_r, at least, so it seemed to Liputin.
  • "You have a very peculiar way of looking at things, anyhow," Nikolay went on,
  • "but as for Agafya, I understand, of course, that you simply sent her to b_ude to me."
  • "I couldn't challenge you to a duel, could I?"
  • "Oh, no, of course! I seem to have heard that you're not fond of duels… ."
  • "Why borrow from the French?" said Liputin, doubling
  • up again.
  • "You're for nationalism, then?"
  • Liputin shrank into himself more than ever.
  • "Ba, ba! What do I see?" cried Nicolas, noticing a volume of Considerant i_he most conspicuous place on the table. "You don't mean to say you're _ourierist! I'm afraid you must be! And isn't this too borrowing from th_rench?" he laughed, tapping the book with his finger.
  • "No, that's not taken from the French," Liputin cried with positive fury, jumping up from his chair. "That is taken from the universal language o_umanity, not simply from the French. From the language of the universa_ocial republic and harmony of mankind, let me tell you! Not simply from th_rench!"
  • "Foo! hang it all! There's no such language!" laughed Nikolay.
  • Sometimes a trifle will catch the attention and exclusively absorb it for _ime. Most of what I have to tell of young Stavrogin will come later. But _ill note now as a curious fact that of all the impressions made on him by hi_tay in our town, the one most sharply imprinted on his memory was th_nsightly and almost abject figure of the little provincial official, th_oarse and jealous family despot, the miserly money-lender who picked up th_andle-ends and scraps left from dinner, and was at the same time a passionat_eliever in some visionary future "social harmony," who at night gloated i_cstasies over fantastic pictures of a future phalanstery, in the approachin_ealisation of which, in Russia, and in our province, he believed as firmly a_n his own existence. And that in the very place where he had saved up to bu_imself a "little home," where he had married for the second time, getting _owry with his bride, where perhaps, for a hundred miles round there was no_ne man, himself included, who was the very least like a future member "of th_niversal human republic and social harmony."
  • "God knows how these people come to exist!" Nikolay wondered, recallin_ometimes the unlooked-for Fourierist.
  • Our prince travelled for over three years, so that he was almost forgotten i_he town. We learned from Stepan Trofimovitch that he had travelled all ove_urope, that he had even been in Egypt and had visited Jerusalem, and then ha_oined some scientific expedition to Iceland, and he actually did go t_celand. It was reported too that he had spent one winter attending lecture_n a German university. He did not write often to his mother, twice a year, o_ven less, but Varvara Petrovna was not angry or offended at this. Sh_ccepted submissively and without repining the relations that had bee_stablished once for all between her son and herself. She fretted for her
  • "Nicolas" and dreamed of him continually. She kept her dreams and lamentation_o herself. She seemed to have become less intimate even with Stepa_rofimovitch. She was forming secret projects, and seemed to have become mor_areful about money than ever. She was more than ever given to saving mone_nd being angry at Stepan Trofimovitch's losses at cards.
  • At last, in the April of this year, she received a letter from Paris fro_raskovya Ivanovna Drozdov, the widow of the general and the friend of Varvar_etrovna's childhood. Praskovya Ivanovna, whom Varvara Petrovna had not see_r corresponded with for eight years, wrote, informing her that Nikola_syevolodovitch had become very intimate with them and a great friend of he_nly daughter, Liza, and that he was intending to accompany them t_witzerland, to Verney-Montreux, though in the household of Count K. (a ver_nfluential personage in Petersburg), who was now staying in Paris. He wa_eceived like a son of the family, so that he almost lived at the count's. Th_etter was brief, and the object of it was perfectly clear, though i_ontained only a plain statement of the above-mentioned facts without drawin_ny inferences from them. Varvara Petrovna did not pause long to consider; sh_ade up her mind instantly, made her preparations, and taking with her he_rotegee, Dasha (Shatov's sister), she set off in the middle of April fo_aris, and from there went on to Switzerland. She returned in July, alone, leaving Dasha with the Drozdovs. She brought us the news that the Drozdov_hemselves had promised to arrive among us by the end of August.
  • The Drozdovs, too, were landowners of our province, but the official duties o_eneral Ivan Ivanovitch Drozdov (who had been a friend of Varvara Petrovna'_nd a colleague of her husband's) had always prevented them from visitin_heir magnificent estate. On the death of the general, which had taken plac_he year before, the inconsolable widow had gone abroad with her daughter, partly in order to try the grape-cure which she proposed to carry out a_erney-Montreux during the latter half of the summer. On their return t_ussia they intended to settle in our province for good. She had a large hous_n the town which had stood empty for many years with the windows nailed up.
  • They were wealthy people. Praskovya Ivanovna had been, in her first marriage, a Madame Tushin, and like her school-friend, Varvara Petrovna, was th_aughter of a government contractor of the old school, and she too had been a_eiress at her marriage. Tushin, a retired cavalry captain, was also a man o_eans, and of some ability. At his death he left a snug fortune to his onl_aughter Liza, a child of seven. Now that Lizaveta Nikolaevna was twenty-tw_er private fortune might confidently be reckoned at 200,000 roubles, to sa_othing of the propertywhich was bound to come to her at the death of he_other, who had no children by her second marriage. Varvara Petrovna seemed t_e very well satisfied with her expedition. In her own opinion she ha_ucceeded in coming to a satisfactory understanding with Praskovya Ivanovna, and immediately on her arrival she confided everything to Stepan Trofimovitch.
  • She was positively effusive with him as she had not been for a very long time.
  • "Hurrah!" cried Stepan Trofimovitch, and snapped his fingers.
  • He was in a perfect rapture, especially as he had spent the whole time of hi_riend's absence in extreme dejection. On setting off she had not even take_eave of him properly, and had said nothing of her plan to "that old woman,"
  • dreading, perhaps, that he might chatter about it. She was cross with him a_he time on account of a considerable gambling debt which she had suddenl_iscovered. But before she left Switzerland she had felt that on her retur_he must make up for it to her forsaken friend, especially as she had treate_im very curtly for a long time past. Her abrupt and mysterious departure ha_ade a profound and poignant impression on the timid heart of Stepa_rofimovitch, and to make matters worse he was beset with other difficultie_t the same time. He was worried by a very considerable money obligation, which had weighed upon him for a long time and which he could never hope t_eet without Varvara Petrovna's assistance. Moreover, in the May of this year, the term of office of our mild and gentle Ivan Ossipovitch came to an end. H_as superseded under rather unpleasant circumstances. Then, while Varvar_etrovna was still away, there followed the arrival of our new governor, Andrey Antonovitch von Lembke, and with that a change began at once to b_erceptible in the attitude of almost the whole of our provincial societ_owards Varvara Petrovna, and consequently towards Stepan Trofimovitch. He ha_lready had time anyway to make some disagreeable though valuabl_bservations, and seemed very apprehensive alone without Varvara Petrovna. H_ad an agitating suspicion that he had already been mentioned to the governo_s a dangerous man. He knew for a fact that some of our ladies meant to giv_p calling on Varvara Petrovna. Of our governor's wife (who was only expecte_o arrive in the autumn) it was reported that though she was, so it was heard, proud, she was a real aristocrat, and "not like that poor Varvara Petrovna."
  • Everybody seemed to know for a fact, and in the greatest detail, that ou_overnor's wife and Varvara Petrovna had met already in society and had parte_nemies, so that the mere mention of Madame von Lembke's name would,' it wa_aid, make a painful impression on Varvara Petrovna. The confident an_riumphant air of Varvara Petrovna, the contemptuous indifference with whic_he heard of the opinions of our provincial ladies and the agitation in loca_ociety, revived the flagging spirits of Stepan Trofimovitch and cheered hi_p at once. With peculiar, gleefully-obsequious humour, he was beginning t_escribe the new governor's arrival.
  • "You are no doubt aware, excellente amie," he said, jauntily and coquettishl_rawling his words, "what is meant by a Russian administrator, speakin_enerally, and what is meant by a new Russian administrator, that is th_ewly-baked, newly-established … ces interminables mots Russes! But I don'_hink you can know in practice what is meant by administrative ardour, an_hat sort of thing that is."
  • "Administrative ardour? I don't know what that is."
  • "Well … Vous savez chez nous … En un mot, set the most insignificant nonentit_o sell miserable tickets at a railway station, and the nonentity will at onc_eel privileged to look down on you like a Jupiter, pour montrer son pouvoi_hen you go to take a ticket. 'Now then,' he says, 'I shall show you my power'
  • … and in them it comes to a genuine, administrative ardour. En un mot, I'v_ead that some verger in one of our Russian churches abroadmais c'est ire_urieuxdrove, literally drove a distinguished English family, les dame_harmantes, out of the church before the beginning of the Lenten service … vous savez ces chants et le livre de Job … on the simple pretext that
  • 'foreigners are not allowed to loaf about a Russian church, and that they mus_ome at the time fixed… .' And he sent them into fainting fits… . That verge_as suffering from an attack of administrative ardour, et il a montre so_ouvoir."
  • "Cut it short if you can, Stepan Trofimovitch."
  • "Mr. von Lembke is making a tour of the province now. En un mot, this Andre_ntonovitch, though he is a russified German and of the Orthodox persuasion, and evenI will say that for hima remarkably handsome man of about forty … "
  • "What makes you think he's a handsome man? He has eyes like a sheep's."
  • "Precisely so. But in this I yield, of course, to the opinion of our ladies."
  • "Let's get on, Stepan Trofimovitch, I beg you! By the way, you're wearing _ed neck-tie. Is it long since you've taken to it?"
  • "I've … I've only put it on to-day."
  • "And do you take your constitutional? Do you go for a four-mile walk every da_s the doctor told you to?"
  • "N-not … always."
  • "I knew you didn't! I felt sure of that when I was in Switzerland!" she crie_rritably. "Now you must go not four but six miles a day! You've grow_erribly slack, terribly, terribly! You're not simply getting old, you'r_etting decrepit… . You shocked me when I first saw you just now, in spite o_our red tie, quelle idee rouge! Go on about Von Lembke if you've reall_omething to tell me, and do finish some time, I entreat you, I'm tired."
  • "En un mot, I only wanted to say that he is one of those administrators wh_egin to have power at forty, who, till they're forty, have been stagnating i_nsignificance and then suddenly come to the front through suddenly acquirin_ wife, or some other equally desperate means… . That is, he has gone away now … that is, I mean to say, it was at once whispered in both his ears that I a_ corrupter of youth, and a hot-bed of provincial atheism… . He began makin_nquiries at once."
  • "Is that true?"
  • "I took steps about it, in fact. When he was 'informed' that you 'ruled th_rovince,' vous savez, he allowed himself to use the expression that 'ther_hall be nothing of that sort in the future.' "
  • "Did he say that?"
  • "That 'there shall be nothing of the sort in future,' and, avec cette morgue… . His wife, Yulia Mihailovna, we shall behold at the end of August, she'_oming straight from Petersburg."
  • "From abroad. We met there."
  • "Vraiment?"
  • "In Paris and in Switzerland. She's related to the Drozdovs."
  • "Related! What an extraordinary coincidence! They say she is ambitious and … supposed to have great connections."
  • "Nonsense! Connections indeed! She was an old maid without a farthing till sh_as five-and-forty. But now she's hooked her Von Lembke, and, of course, he_hole object is to push him forward. They're both intriguers."
  • "And they say she's two years older than he is?"
  • "Five. Her mother used to wear out her skirts on my doorsteps in Moscow; sh_sed to beg for an invitation to our balls as a favour when my husband wa_iving. And this creature used to sit all night alone in a corner withou_ancing, with her turquoise fly on her forehead, so that simply from pity _sed to have to send her her first partner at two o'clock in the morning. Sh_as five-and-twenty then, and they used to rig her out in short skirts like _ittle girl. It was improper to have them about at last."
  • "I seem to see that fly."
  • "I tell you, as soon as I arrived I was in the thick of an intrigue. You rea_adame Drozdov's letter, of course. What could be clearer? What did I find?
  • That fool Praskovya herselfshe always was a foollooked at me as much as to as_hy I'd come. You can fancy how surprised I was. I looked round, and there wa_hat Lembke woman at her tricks, and that cousin of hersold Drozdov's nephewi_as all clear. You may be sure I changed all that in a twinkling, an_raskovya is on my side again, but what an intrigue
  • "In which you came off victor, however. Bismarck!"
  • "Without being a Bismarck I'm equal to falseness and stupidity wherever I mee_t. falseness, and Praskovya's folly. I don't know when I've met such a flabb_oman, and what's more her legs are swollen, and she's a good-nature_impleton, too. What can be more foolish than a good-natured simpleton?"
  • "A spiteful fool, ma bonne amie, a spiteful fool is still more foolish,"
  • Stepan Trofimovitch protested magnanimously.
  • "You're right, perhaps. Do you remember Liza?"
  • "Charmante enfant!"
  • "But she's not an enfant now, but a woman, and a woman of character. She's _enerous, passionate creature, and what I like about her, she stands up t_hat confiding fool, her mother. There was almost a row over that cousin."
  • "Bah, and of course he's no relation of Lizaveta Nikolaevna's at all… . Has h_esigns on her?"
  • "You see, he's a young officer, not by any means talkative, modest in fact. _lways want to be just. I fancy he is opposed to the intrigue himself, an_sn't aiming at anything, and it was only the Von Lembke's tricks. He had _reat respect for Nicolas. You understand, it all depends on Liza. But I lef_er on the best of terms with Nicolas, and he promised he would come to us i_ovember. So it's only the Von Lembkev who is intriguing, and Praskovya is _lind woman. She suddenly tells me that all my suspicions are fancy. I tol_er to her face she was a fool. I am ready to repeat it at the day o_udgment. And if it hadn't been for Nicolas begging me to leave it for a time, I wouldn't have come away without unmasking that false woman. She's bee_rying to ingratiate herself with Count K. through Nicolas. She wants to com_etween mother and son. But Liza's on our side, and I came to an understandin_ith Praskovya. Do you know that Karmazinov is a relation of hers?"
  • "What? A relation of Madame von Lembke?"
  • "Yes, of hers. Distant."
  • "Karmazinov, the novelist?"
  • "Yes, the writer. Why does it surprise you? Of course he considers himself _reat man. Stuck-up creature! She's coming here with him. Now she's making _uss of him out there. She's got a notion of setting up a sort of literar_ociety here. He's coming for a month, he wants to sell his last piece o_roperty here. I very nearly met him in Switzerland, and was very anxious no_o. Though I hope he will deign to recognise me. He wrote letters to me in th_ld days, he has been in my house. I should like you to dress better, Stepa_rofimovitch; you're growing more slovenly every day… . Oh, how you tormen_e! What are you reading now?"
  • "I … I … "
  • "I understand. The same as ever, friends and drinking, the club and cards, an_he reputation of an atheist. I don't like that reputation, Stepa_rofimovitch; I don't care for you to be called an atheist, particularly now.
  • I didn't care for it in old days, for it's all nothing but empty chatter. I_ust be said at last."
  • "Mais, ma chere … "
  • "Listen, Stepan Trofimovitch, of course I'm ignorant compared with you on al_earned subjects, but as I was travelling here I thought a great deal abou_ou. I've come to one conclusion."
  • "What conclusion?"
  • "That you and I are not the wisest people in the world, but that there ar_eople wiser than we are."
  • "Witty and apt. If there are people wiser than we are, then there are peopl_ore right than we are, and we may be mistaken, you mean? Mais, ma bonne amie, granted that I may make a mistake, yet have I not the common, human, eternal, supreme [right of freedom of conscience? I have the right not to be bigoted o_uperstitious if I don't wish to, and for that I shall naturally be hated b_ertain persons to the end of time. El puis, comme on trouve toujours plus d_oines que de raison, and as I thoroughly agree with that … "
  • "What, what did you say?"
  • "I said, on trouve, toujours plus de moines que de raison, and as I thoroughly … "
  • "I'm sure that's not your saying. You must have taken it from somewhere."
  • "It was Pascal said that."
  • "Just as I thought … it's not your own. Why don't you ever say anything lik_hat yourself, so shortly and to the point, instead of dragging things out t_uch a length? That's much, better than what you said just now abou_dministrative ardour… "
  • "Ma foi, chere … why? In the first place probably because I'm not a Pasca_fter all, et puis … secondly, we Russians never can say anything in our ow_anguage… . We never have said anything hitherto, at any rate… ."
  • "H'm! That's not true, perhaps. Anyway, you'd better make a note of suc_hrases, and remember them, you know, in case you have to talk… . Ach, Stepha_rofimovitch. I have come to talk to you seriously, quite seriously."
  • "Chere, chere amie!"
  • "Now that all these Von Lembkes and Karmazinovs … Oh, my goodness, how yo_ave deteriorated! … Oh, my goodness, how you do torment me! … I should hav_iked these people to feel a respect for you, for they're not worth you_ittle fingerbut the way you behave! … What will they see? What shall I hav_o show them? Instead of nobly standing as an example, keeping up th_radition of the past, you surround yourself with a wretched rabble, you hav_icked up impossible habits, you've grown feeble, you can't do without win_nd cards, you read nothing but Paul de Kock, and write nothing, while all o_hem write; all your time's wasted in gossip. How can you bring yourself to b_riends with a wretched creature like your inseparable Liputin?
  • "Why is he mine and inseparable 1" Stepan Trofimovitch Protested timidly.
  • "Where is he now?" Varvara Petrovna went on, sharply and sternly.
  • "He … he has an infinite respect for you, and he's gone to Sk, to receive a_nheritance left him by his mother."
  • "He seems to do nothing but get money. And how's Shatov? Is he just the same?"
  • "Irascible, mais bon,"
  • "I can't endure your Shatov. He's spiteful and he thinks too much of himself."
  • "How is Darya Pavlovna?"
  • "You mean Dasha? What made you think of her?" Varvara Petrovna looked at hi_nquisitively. "She's quite well. I left her with the Drozdovs. I hear_omething about your son in Switzerland. Nothing good."
  • "Oh, c'est un histoire bien bete! Je vous attendais, ma bonne amie, pour vou_aconter … "
  • "Enough, Stepan Trofimovitch. Leave me in peace. I'm worn out. We shall hav_ime to talk to our heart's content, especially of what's unpleasant. You'v_egun to splutter when you laugh, it's a sign of senility! And what a strang_ay of laughing you've taken to! … Good Heavens, what a lot of bad habit_ou've fallen into! Karmazinov won't come and see you! And people are only to_lad to make the most of anything as it is… . You've betrayed yoursel_ompletely now. Well, come, that's enough, that's enough, I'm tired. Yo_eally might have mercy upon one!"
  • Stepan Trofimovitch "had mercy," but he withdrew in great perturbation.
  • Our friend certainly had fallen into not a few bad habits, especially of late.
  • He had obviously and rapidly deteriorated; and it was true that he had becom_lovenly. He drank more and had become more tearful and nervous; and had grow_oo impressionable on the artistic side. His face had acquired a strang_acility for changing with extraordinary quickness, from the most solem_xpression, for instance, to the most absurd, and even foolish. He could no_ndure solitude, and was always craving for amusement. One had always t_epeat to him some gossip, some local anecdote, and every day a new one. I_o; one came to see him for a long time he wandered disconsolately about th_ooms, walked to the window, puckering up his lips, heaved deep sighs, an_lmost fell to whimpering at last. He was always full of forebodings, wa_fraid of something unexpected and inevitable; he had become timorous; h_egan to pay great attention to his dreams.
  • He spent all that day and evening in great depression, he sent for me, wa_ery much agitated, talked a long while, gave me a long account of things, bu_ll rather disconnected. Varvara Petrovna had known for a long time that h_oncealed nothing from me. It seemed to me at last that he was worried abou_omething particular, and was perhaps unable to form a definite idea of i_imself. As a rule when we met tete-a-tete and he began making long complaint_o me, a bottle was almost always brought in after a little time, and thing_ecame much more comfortable. This time there was no wine, and he wa_vidently struggling all the while against the desire to send for it.
  • "And why is she always so cross?" he complained every minute, like a child.
  • "Tows les hommes de genie et de progres en Mussie etaient, sont, et seron_oujours des gamblers et des drunkards qui boivent in outbreaks … and I'm no_uch a gambler after all, and I'm not such a drunkard. She reproaches me fo_ot writing anything. Strange idea! … She asks why I lie down? She says _ught to stand, 'an example and reproach.' Mais, entre nous soit dit, what i_ man to do who is destined to stand as a 'reproach,' if not to lie down? Doe_he understand that?"
  • And at last it became clear to me what was the chief particular trouble whic_as worrying him so persistently at this time. Many times that evening he wen_o the looking-glass, and stood a long while before it. At last he turned fro_he looking-glass to me, and with a sort of strange despair, said: "Mon cher, je suis un broken-down man." Yes, certainly, up to that time, up to that ver_ay there was one thing only of which he had always felt confident in spite o_he "new views," and of the "change in Varvara Petrovna's ideas," that was, the conviction that still he had a fascination for her feminine heart, no_imply as an exile or a celebrated man of learning, but as a handsome man. Fo_wenty years this soothing and flattering opinion had been rooted in his mind, and perhaps of all his convictions this was the hardest to part with. Had h_ny presentiment that evening of the colossal ordeal which was preparing fo_im in the immediate future?
  • I will now enter upon the description of that almost forgotten incident wit_hich my story properly speaking begins.
  • At last at the very end of August the Drozdovs returned. Their arrival made _onsiderable sensation in local society, and took place shortly before thei_elation, our new governor's wife, made her long-expected appearance. But o_ll these interesting events I will speak later. For the present I wil_onfine myself to saying that Praskovya Ivanovna brought Varvara Petrovna, wh_as expecting her so impatiently, a most perplexing problem: Nikolay ha_arted from them in July, and, meeting Count K. on the Rhine, had set off wit_im and his family for Petersburg. (N.B.The Count's three daughters were al_f marriageable age.)
  • "Lizaveta is so proud and obstinate that I could get nothing out of her,"
  • Praskovya Ivanovna said in conclusion. "But I saw for myself that somethin_ad happened between her and Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch. I don't know th_easons, but I fancy, my dear Varvara Petrovna, that you will have to ask you_arya Pavlovna for them. To my thinking Liza was offended. I'm glad. I ca_ell you that I've brought you back your favourite at last and handed her ove_o you; it's a weight off my mind."
  • These venomous words were uttered with remarkable irritability. It was eviden_hat the "flabby" woman had prepared them and gloated beforehand over th_ffect they would produce. But Varvara Petrovna was not the woman to b_isconcerted by sentimental effects and enigmas. She sternly demanded the mos_recise and satisfactory explanations. Praskovya Ivanovna immediately lowere_er tone and even ended by dissolving into tears and expressions of th_armest friendship. This irritable but sentimental lady, like Stepa_rofimovitch, was for ever yearning for true friendship, and her chie_omplaint against her daughter Lizaveta Mkolaevna was just that "her daughte_as not a friend to her."
  • But from all her explanations and outpourings nothing certain could b_athered but that there actually had been some sort of quarrel between Liz_nd Nikolay, but of the nature of the quarrel Praskovya Ivanovna was obviousl_nable to form a definite idea. As for her imputations against Darya Pavlovna, she not only withdrew them completely in the end, but even particularly begge_arvara Petrovna to pay no attention to her words, because "they had been sai_n irritation." In fact, it had all been left very far from clearsuspicious, indeed. According to her account the quarrel had arisen from Liza's "obstinat_nd ironical character." '' Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch is proud, too, and thoug_e was very much in love, yet he could not endure sarcasm, and began to b_arcastic himself. Soon afterwards we made the acquaintance of a young man, the nephew, I believe, of your 'Professor' and, indeed, the surname's th_ame."
  • "The son, not the nephew," Varvara Petrovna corrected her.
  • Even in old days Praskovya Ivanovna had been always unable to recall Stepa_rofimovitch's name, and had always called him the "Professor."
  • "Well, his son, then; so much the better. Of course, it's all the same to me.
  • An ordinary young man, very lively and free in his manners, but nothin_pecial in him. Well, then, Liza herself did wrong, she made friends with th_oung man with the idea of making Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch jealous. I don't se_uch harm in that; it's the way of girls, quite usual, even charming in them.
  • Only instead of being jealous Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch made friends with th_oung man himself, just as though he saw nothing and didn't care. This mad_iza furious. The young man soon went away (he was in a great hurry to ge_omewhere) and Liza took to picking quarrels with Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch a_very opportunity. She noticed that he used sometimes to talk to Dasha; and, well, she got in such a frantic state that even my life wasn't worth living, my dear. The doctors have forbidden my being irritated, and I was so sick o_heir lake they make such a fuss about, it simply gave me toothache, I ha_uch rheumatism. It's stated in print that the Lake of Geneva does give peopl_he toothache. It's a feature of the place. Then Nikolay Vsyevolodovitc_uddenly got a letter from the countess and he left us at once. He packed u_n one day. They parted in a friendly way, and Liza became very cheerful an_rivolous, and laughed a great deal seeing him off; only that was all put on.
  • When he had gone she became very thoughtful, and she gave up speaking of hi_ltogether and wouldn't let me mention his name. And I should advise you, dea_arvara Petrovna, not to approach the subject with Liza, you'll only do harm.
  • But if you hold your tongue she'll begin to talk of it herself, and the_ou'll learn more. I believe they'll come together again, if only Nikola_syevolodovitch doesn't put off coming, as he promised."
  • "I'll write to him at once. If that's how it was, there was nothing in th_uarrel; all nonsense! And I know Darya too well. It's nonsense!"
  • "I'm sorry for what I said about Dashenka, I did wrong. Their conversation_ere quite ordinary and they talked out loud, too. But it all upset me so muc_t the time, my dear. And Liza, I saw, got on with her again as affectionatel_s before… ."
  • That very day Varvara Petrovna wrote to Nikolay, and begged him to come, i_nly one month, earlier than the date he had fixed. But yet she still fel_hat there was something unexplained and obscure in the matter. She pondere_ver it all the evening and all night. Praskovya's opinion seemed to her to_nnocent and sentimental. "Praskovya has always been too sentimental from th_ld schooldays upwards," she reflected. "Nicolas is not the man to run awa_rom a girl's taunts. There's some other reason for it, if there really ha_een a breach between them. That officer's here though, they've brought hi_ith them. As a relation he lives in their house. And, as for Darya, Praskovy_as in too much haste to apologise. She must have kept something to herself, which she wouldn't tell me."
  • By the morning Varvara Petrovna had matured a project for putting a stop onc_or all to one misunderstanding at least; a project amazing in it_nexpectedness. What was in her heart when she conceived it? It would be har_o decide and I will not undertake to explain beforehand all the incongruitie_f which it was made up. I simply confine myself as chronicler to recordin_vents precisely as they happened, and it is not my fault if they see_ncredible. Yet I must once more testify that by the morning there was not th_east suspicion of Dasha left in Varvara Petrovna's mind, though in realit_here never had been anyshe had too much confidence in her. Besides, she coul_ot admit the idea that "Nicolas" could be attracted by her Darya. Nex_orning when Darya Pavlovna was pouring out tea at the table Varvara Petrovn_ooked for a long while intently at her and, perhaps for the twentieth tim_ince the previous day, repeated to herself: "It's all nonsense!"
  • All she noticed was that Dasha looked rather tired, and that she was eve_uieter and more apathetic than she used to be. After their morning tea, according to their invariable custom, they sat down to needlework. Varvar_etrovna demanded from her a full account of her impressions abroad, especially of nature, of the inhabitants, of the towns, the customs, thei_rts and commerceof everything she had time to observe. She asked no question_bout the Drozdovs or how she had got on with them. Dasha, sitting beside he_t the work-table helping her with the embroidery, talked for half an hour i_er even, monotonous, but rather weak voice.
  • "Darya!" Varvara Petrovna interrupted suddenly, "is there nothing special yo_ant to tell me?"
  • "No, nothing," said Dasha, after a moment's thought, and she glanced a_arvara Petrovna with her light-coloured eyes.
  • "Nothing on your soul, on your heart, or your conscience?"
  • "Nothing," Dasha repeated, quietly, but with a sort of sullen firmness.
  • "I knew there wasn't! Believe me, Darya, I shall never doubt you. Now si_till and listen. In front of me, on that chair. I want to see the whole o_ou. That's right. Listen, do you want to be married?"
  • Dasha responded with a long, inquiring, but not greatly astonished look.
  • "Stay, hold your tongue. In the first place there is a very great differenc_n age, but of course you know better than anyone what nonsense that is.
  • You're a sensible girl, and there must be no mistakes in your life. Besides, he's still a handsome man… In short, Stepan Trofimovitch, for whom you hav_lways had such a respect. Well?"
  • Dasha looked at her still more inquiringly, and this time not simply wit_urprise; she blushed perceptibly.
  • "Stay, hold your tongue, don't be in a hurry! Though you will have money unde_y will, yet when I die, what will become of you, even if you have money?
  • You'll be deceived and robbed of your money, you'll be lost in fact. Bu_arried to him you're the wife of a distinguished man. Look at him on th_ther hand. Though I've provided for him, if I die what will become of him _ut I could trust him to you. Stay, I've not finished. He's frivolous, shilly- shally, cruel, egoistic, he has low habits. But mind you think highly of him, in the first place because there are many worse. I don't want to get you of_y hands by marrying you to a rascal, you don't imagine anything of that sort, do you? And, above all, because I ask you, you'll think highly of him,"
  • She broke off suddenly and irritably. "Do you hear? Why won't you sa_omething?"
  • Dasha still listened and did not speak.
  • "Stay, wait a little. He's an old woman, but you know, that's all the bette_or you. Besides, he's a pathetic old woman. He doesn't deserve to be loved b_ woman at all, but he deserves to be loved for his helplessness, and you mus_ove him for his helplessness. You understand me, don't you? Do you understan_e?"
  • Dasha nodded her head affirmatively.
  • "I knew you would. I expected as much of you. He will love you because h_ught, he ought; he ought to adore you." Varvara Petrovna almost shrieked wit_eculiar exasperation. "Besides, he will be in love with you without any ough_bout it. I know him. And another thing, I shall always be here. You may b_ure I shall always be here. He will complain of you, he'll begin to sa_hings against you behind your back, he'll whisper things against you to an_tray person he meets, he'll be for ever whining and whining; he'll write yo_etters from one room to another, two a day, but he won't be able to get o_ithout you all the same, and that's the chief thing. Make him obey you. I_ou can't make him you'll be a fool. He'll want to hang himself and threaten, todon't you believe it. It's nothing but nonsense. Don't believe it; but stil_eep a sharp look-out, you never can tell, and one day he may hang himself. I_oes happen with people like that. It's not through strength of will bu_hrough weakness that people hang themselves, and so never drive him to a_xtreme, that's the first rule in married life. Remember, too, that he's _oet. Listen, Dasha, there's no greater happiness than self-sacrifice. An_esides, you'll be giving me great satisfaction and that's the chief thing.
  • Don't think I've been talking nonsense. I understand what I'm saying. I'm a_goist, you be an egoist, too. Of course I'm not forcing you. It's entirel_or you to decide. As you say, so it shall be. Well, what's the good o_itting like this. Speak!"
  • "I don't mind, Varvara Petrovna, if I really must be married," said Dash_irmly.
  • "Must? What are you hinting at?" Varvara Petrovna looked sternly and intentl_t her.
  • Dasha was silent, picking at her embroidery canvas with her needle.
  • "Though you're a clever girl, you're talking nonsense; though it is true tha_ have certainly set my heart on marrying you, yet it's not because it'_ecessary, but simply because the idea has occurred to me, and only to Stepa_rofimovitch. If it had not been for Stepan Trofimovitch, I should not hav_hought of marrying you yet, though you are twenty… . Well?"
  • "I'll do as you wish, Varvara Petrovna."
  • "Then you consent! Stay, be quiet. Why are you in such a hurry? I haven'_inished. In my will I've left you fifteen thousand roubles. I'll give yo_hat at once, on your wedding-day. You will give eight thousand of it to him; that is, not to him but to me. He has a debt of eight thousand. I'll pay it, but he must know that it is done with your money. You'll have seven thousan_eft in your hands. Never let him touch a farthing of it. Don't pay his debt_ver. If once you pay them, you'll never be free of them. Besides, I shal_lways be here. You shall have twelve hundred roubles a year from me, wit_xtras, fifteen hundred, besides board and lodging, which shall be at m_xpense, just as he has it now. Only you must set up your own servants. You_early allowance shall be paid to you all at once straight into your hands.
  • But be kind, and sometimes give him something, and let his friends come to se_im once a week, but if they come more often, turn them out. But I shall b_ere, too. And if I die, your pension will go on till his death, do you hear, till his death, for it's his pension, not yours. And besides the seve_housand you'll have now, which you ought to keep untouched if you're no_oolish, I'll leave you another eight thousand in my will. And you'll ge_othing more than that from me, it's right that you should know it. Come, yo_onsent, eh? Will you say something at last?"
  • "I have told you already, Varvara Petrovna."
  • "Remember that you're free to decide. As you like, so it shall be."
  • "Then, may I ask, Varvara Petrovna, has Stepan Trofimovitch said anythin_et?"
  • "No, he hasn't said anything, he doesn't know … but he will speak directly."
  • She jumped up at once and threw on a black shawl. Dasha flushed a littl_gain, and watched her with questioning eyes. Varvara Petrovna turned suddenl_o her with a face flaming with anger.
  • "You're a fool!" She swooped down on her like a hawk. "An ungrateful fool!
  • What's in your mind? Can you imagine that I'd compromise you, in any way, i_he smallest degree. Why, he shall crawl on his knees to ask you, he must b_ying of happiness, that's how it shall be arranged. Why, you know that I'_ever let you suffer. Or do you suppose he'll take you for the sake of tha_ight thousand, and that I'm hurrying off to sell you? You're a fool, a fool!
  • You're all ungrateful fools. Give me my umbrella!"
  • And she flew off to walk by the wet brick pavements and the wooden planks t_tepan Trofimovitch's.
  • It was true that she would never have let Dasha suffer; on the contrary, sh_onsidered now that she was acting as her benefactress. The most generous an_egitimate indignation was glowing in her soul, when, as she put on her shawl, she caught fixed upon her the embarrassed and mistrustful eyes of he_rotegee. She had genuinely loved the girl from her childhood upwards.
  • Praskovya Ivanovna had with justice called Darya Pavlovna her favourite. Lon_go Varvara Petrovna had made up her mind once for all that "Darya'_isposition was not like her brother's" (not, that is, like Ivan Shatov's), that she was quiet and gentle, and capable of great self-sacrifice; that sh_as distinguished by a power of devotion, unusual modesty, rar_easonableness, and, above all, by gratitude. Till that time Dasha had, to al_ppearances, completely justified her expectations.
  • "In that life there will be no mistakes," said Varvara Petrovna when the gir_as only twelve years old, and as it was characteristic of her to attac_erself doggedly and passionately to any dream that fascinated her, any ne_esign, any idea that struck her as noble, she made up her mind at once t_ducate Dasha as though she were her own daughter. She at once set aside a su_f money for her, and sent for a governess, Miss Criggs, who lived with the_ntil the girl was sixteen, but she was for some reason suddenly dismissed.
  • Teachers came for her from the High School, among them a real Frenchman, wh_aught Dasha French. He, too, was suddenly dismissed, almost turned out of th_ouse. A poor lady, a widow of good family, taught her to play the piano. Ye_er chief tutor was Stepan Trofimovitch.
  • In reality he first discovered Dasha. He began teaching the quiet child eve_efore Varvara Petrovna had begun to think about her. I repeat again, it wa_onderful how children took to him. Lizaveta Nikolaevna Tushin had been taugh_y him from the age of eight till eleven (Stepan Trofimovitch took no fees, o_ourse, for his lessons, and would not on any account have taken payment fro_he Drozdovs). But he fell in love with the charming child and used to tel_er poems of a sort about the creation of the world, about the earth, and th_istory of humanity. His lectures about the primitive peoples and primitiv_an were more interesting than the Arabian Nights. Liza, who was ecstatic ove_hese stories, used to mimic Stepan Trofimovitch very funnily at home. H_eard of this and once peeped in on her unawares. Liza, overcome wit_onfusion, flung herself into his arms and shed tears; Stepan Trofimovitc_ept too with delight. But Liza soon after went away, and only Dasha was left.
  • When Dasha began to have other teachers, Stepan Trofimovitch gave up hi_essons with her, and by degrees left off noticing her. Things went on lik_his for a long time. Once when she was seventeen he was struck by he_rettiness. It happened at Varvara Petrovna's table. He began to talk to th_oung girl, was much pleased with her answers, and ended by offering to giv_er a serious and comprehensive course of lessons on the history of Russia_iterature. Varvara Petrovna approved, and thanked him for his excellent idea, and Dasha was delighted. Stepan Trofimovitch proceeded to make specia_reparations for the lectures, and at last they began. They began with th_ost ancient period. The first lecture went off enchantingly. Varvara Petrovn_as present. When Stepan Trofimovitch had finished, and as he was goin_nformed his pupil that the next time he would deal with "The Story of th_xpedition of Igor," Varvara Petrovna suddenly got up and announced that ther_ould be no more lessons. Stepan Trofimovitch winced, but said nothing, an_asha flushed crimson. It put a stop to the scheme, however. This had happene_ust three years before Varvara Petrovna's unexpected fancy.
  • Poor Stepan Trofimovitch was sitting alone free from all misgivings. Plunge_n mournful reveries he had for some time been looking out of the window t_ee whether any of his friends were coining. But nobody would come. It wa_rizzling. It was turning cold, he would have to have the stove heated. H_ighed. Suddenly a terrible apparition flashed upon his eyes:
  • Varvara Petrovna in such weather and at such an unexpected hour to see him!
  • And on foot! He was so astounded that he forgot to put on his coat, an_eceived her as he was, in his everlasting pink-wadded dressing-jacket.
  • "Ma bonne amie!" he cried faintly, to greet her. "You're alone; I'm glad; _an't endure your friends. How you do smoke! Heavens, what an atmosphere! Yo_aven't finished your morning tea and it's nearly twelve o'clock. It's you_dea of blissdisorder! You take pleasure in dirt. What's that torn paper o_he floor? Nastasya, Nastasya! What is your Nastasya about? Open the window, the casement, the doors, fling everything wide open. And we'll go into th_rawing-room. I've come to you on a matter of importance. And you sweep up, m_ood woman, for once in your life."
  • "They make such a muck!" Nastasya whined in a voice of plaintive exasperation.
  • "Well, you must sweep, sweep it up fifteen times a day! You've a wretche_rawing-room" (when they had gone into the drawing-room). "Shut the doo_roperly. She'll be listening. You must have it repapered. Didn't I send _aperhanger to you with patterns? Why didn't you choose one? Sit down, an_isten. Do sit down, I beg you. Where are you off to? Where are you off to _here are you off to?
  • "I'll be back directly," Stepan Trofimovitch cried from the next room. "Here, I am again."
  • "Ah,- you've changed your coat." She scanned him mockingly. (He had flung hi_oat on over the dressing-jacket.) "Well, certainly that's more suited to ou_ubject. Do sit down, I entreat you."
  • She told him everything at once, abruptly and impressively She hinted at th_ight thousand of which he stood in such terrible need. She told him in detai_f the dowry. Stepan Trofimovitch sat trembling, opening his eyes wider an_ider. He heard it all, but he could not realise it clearly. He tried t_peak, but his voice kept breaking. All he knew was that everything would b_s she said, that to protest and refuse to agree would be useless, and that h_as a married man irrevocably.
  • "Mais, ma bonne amie! … for the third time, and at my age … and to such _hild." He brought out at last, "Mais, c'est une enfant!"
  • "A child who is twenty years old, thank God. Please don't roll your eyes, _ntreat you, you're not on the stage. You're very clever and learned, but yo_now nothing at all about life. You will always want a nurse to look afte_ou. I shall die, and what will become of you? She will be a good nurse t_ou; she's a modest girl, strong-willed, reasonable; besides, I shall be her_oo, I shan't die directly. She's fond of home, she's an angel of gentleness.
  • This happy thought came to me in Switzerland. Do you understand if I tell yo_yself that she is an angel of gentleness!" she screamed with sudden fury.
  • "Your house is dirty, she will bring in order, cleanliness. Everything wil_hine like a mirror. Good gracious, do you expect me to go on my knees to yo_ith such a treasure, to enumerate all the advantages, to court you! Why, yo_ught to be on your knees… . Oh, you shallow, shallow, faint-hearted man!"
  • "But … I'm an old man!"
  • "What do your fifty-three years matter! Fifty is the middle of life, not th_nd of it. You are a handsome man and you know it yourself. You know, too, what a respect she has for you. If I die, what will become of her? But marrie_o you she'll be at peace, and I shall be at peace. You have renown, a name, _oving heart. You receive a pension which I look upon as an obligation. Yo_ill save her perhaps, you will save her! In any case you will be doing her a_onour. You will form her for life, you will develop her heart, you wil_irect her ideas. How many people come to grief nowadays because their idea_re wrongly directed. By that time your book will be ready, and you will a_nce set people talking about you again."
  • "I am, in fact," he muttered, at once flattered by Varvara Petrovna's adroi_nsinuations. "I was just preparing to sit down to my 'Tales from Spanis_istory.'"
  • "Well, there you are. It's just come right."
  • "But … she? Have you spoken to her?"
  • "Don't worry about her. And there's no need for you to be inquisitive. O_ourse, you must ask her yourself, entreat her to do you the honour, yo_nderstand? But don't be uneasy. I shall be here. Besides, you love her.''
  • Stepan Trofimovitch felt giddy. The walls were going round. There was on_errible idea underlying this to which he could
  • not reconcile himself.
  • "Excellente amie" his voice quivered suddenly. "I could never have conceive_hat you would make up your mind to give me in marriage to another … woman."
  • "You're not a girl, Stepan Trofimovitch. Only girls are given in marriage. Yo_re taking a wife," Varvara Petrovna hissed malignantly.
  • "Oui, j'ai pris un mot pour un autre. Mais c'est egal." He gazed at her with _opeless air.
  • "I see that e'est egal," she muttered contemptuously through her teeth. "Goo_eavens! Why he's going to faint. Nastasya, Nastasya, water!"
  • But water was not needed. He came to himself. Varvara Petrovna took up he_mbrella.
  • "I see it's no use talking to you now… ."
  • "Oui, oui, je suis incapable."
  • "Bat by to-morrow you'll have rested and thought it over. Stay at home. I_nything happens let me know, even if it's at night. Don't write letters, _han't read them. To-morrow I'll come again at this time alone, for a fina_nswer, and I trust it will be satisfactory. Try to have nobody here and n_ntidiness, for the place isn't fit to be seen. Nastasya, Nastasya!"
  • The next day, of course, he consented, and, indeed, he could do nothing else.
  • There was one circumstance …
  • Stepan Trofimovitch's estate, as we used to call it (which consisted of fift_ouls, reckoning in the old fashion, and bordered on Skvoreshniki), was no_eally his at all, but his first wife's, and so belonged now to his son Pyot_tepanovitch Verhovensky. Stepan Trofimovitch was simply his trustee, and so, when the nestling was full-fledged, he had given his father a forma_uthorisation to manage the estate. This transaction was a profitable one fo_he young man. He received as much as a thousand roubles a year by way o_evenue from the estate, though under the new regime it could not have yielde_ore than five hundred, and possibly not that. God knows how such a_rrangement had arisen. The whole sum, however, was sent the young man b_arvara Petrovna, and Stepan Trofimovitch had nothing to do with a singl_ouble of it. On the other hand, the whole revenue from the land remained i_is pocket, and he had, besides, completely ruined the estate, letting it to _ercenary rogue, and without the knowledge of Varvara Petrovna selling th_imber which gave the estate its chief value. He had some time before he sol_he woods bit by bit. It was worth at least eight thousand, yet he had onl_eceived five thousand for it. But he sometimes lost too much at the club, an_as afraid to ask Varvara Petrovna for the money. She clenched her teeth whe_he heard at last of everything. And now, all at once, his son announced tha_e was coming himself to sell his property for what he could get for it, an_ommissioned his father to take steps promptly to arrange the sale. It wa_lear that Stepan Trofimovitch, being a generous and disinterested man, fel_shamed of his treatment of ce cher enfant (whom he had seen for the last tim_ine years before as a student in Petersburg). The estate might originall_ave been worth thirteen Or fourteen thousand. Now it was doubtful whethe_nyone would give five for it. No doubt Stepan Trofimovitch was fully entitle_y the terms of the trust to sell the wood, and taking into account th_ncredibly large yearly revenue of a thousand roubles which had been sen_unctually for so many years, he could have put up a good defence of hi_anagement. But Stepan Trofimovitch was a generous man of exalted impulses. _onderfully fine inspiration occurred to his mind: when Petrusha returned, t_ay on the table before him the maximum price of fifteen thousand rouble_ithout a hint at the sums that had been sent him hitherto, and warmly an_ith tears to press ce cher fils to his heart, and so to make an end of al_ccounts between them. He began cautiously and indirectly unfolding thi_icture before Varvara Petrovna. He hinted that this would add a peculiarl_oble note to their friendship … to their "idea." This would set the parent_f the last generationand people of the last generation generallyin such _isinterested and magnanimous light in comparison with the new frivolous an_ocialistic younger generation. He said a great deal more, but Varvar_etrovna was obstinately silent. At last she informed him airily that she wa_repared to buy their estate, and to pay for it the maximum price, that is, six or seven thousand (though four would have been a fair price for it). O_he remaining eight thousand which had vanished with the woods she said not _ord.
  • This conversation took place a month before the match was proposed to- him.
  • Stepan Trofimovitch was overwhelmed, and began to ponder. There might in th_ast have been a hope that his soft would not come, after allan outsider, tha_s to say, might have hoped so. Stepan Trofimovitch as a father would; hav_ndignantly rejected the insinuation that he could entertain such a hope.
  • Anyway queer rumours had hitherto been reaching us about Petrusha. To begi_ith, on completing his studies at the university six years before, he ha_ung about in Petersburg without getting work. Suddenly we got the news tha_e had taken part in issuing some anonymous manifesto and that he wa_mplicated in the affair. Then he suddenly turned up abroad in Switzerland a_enevahe had escaped, very likely.
  • "It's surprising to me," Stepan Trofimovitch commented, greatly disconcerted.
  • "Petrusha, c'est une si pauvre tete! He's good, noble-hearted, very sensitive, and I was so delighted with him in Petersburg, comparing him with the youn_eople of to-day. But c'est un pauvre sire, tout de meme… . And you know i_ll comes from that same half-bakedness, that sentimentality. They ar_ascinated, not by realism, but by the emotional ideal side of socialism, b_he religious note in it, so to say, by the poetry of it … second-hand, o_ourse. And for me, for me, think what it means! I have so many enemies her_nd more still there, they'll put it down to the father's influence. Good God!
  • Petrusha a revolutionist! What times we live in!"
  • Very soon, however, Petrusha sent his exact address from Switzerland for mone_o be sent him as usual; so he. could not be exactly an exile. And now, afte_our years abroad, he was suddenly making his appearance again in his ow_ountry", and announced that he would arrive shortly, so there could be n_harge against him. What was more, some one seemed to be interested in him an_rotecting him. He wrote now from the south of Russia, where he was busil_ngaged in some private but important business. All this was capital, bu_here was his father to get that other seven or eight thousand, to make up _uitable price for the estate? And what if there should be an outcry, an_nstead of that imposing picture it should come to a lawsuit? Something tol_tepan Trofimovitch that the sensitive Petrusha would not relinquish anythin_hat was to his interest. "Why is itas I've noticed," Stepan Trofimovitc_hispered to me once, "why is it that all these desperate socialists an_ommunists are at the same time such incredible skinflints, so avaricious, s_een over property, and, in fact, the more socialistic, the more extreme the_re, the keener they are over property … why is it? Can that, too, come fro_entimentalism?" I don't know whether there is any truth in this observatio_f Stepan Trofimovitch's. I only know that Petrusha had somehow got wind o_he sale of the woods and the rest of it, and that Stepan Trofimovitch wa_ware of the fact. I happened, too, to read some of Petrusha's letters to hi_ather. He wrote extremely rarely, once a year, or even less often. Onl_ecently, to inform him of his approaching visit, he had sent two letters, on_lmost immediately after the other. All his letters were short, dry, consisting only of instructions, and as the father and son had, since thei_eeting in Petersburg, adopted the fashionable "thou" and "thee," Petrusha'_etters had a striking resemblance to the missives that used to be sent b_andowners of the old school from the town to their serfs whom they had lef_n charge of their estates. And now suddenly this eight thousand which woul_olve the difficulty would be wafted to him by Varvara Petrovna's proposition.
  • And at the same time she made him distinctly feel that it never could b_afted to him from anywhere else. Of course Stepan Trofimovitch consented.
  • He sent for me directly she had gone and shut himself up for the whole day, admitting no one else. He cried, of course, talked well and talked a grea_eal, contradicted himself continually, made a casual pun, and was muc_leased with it. Then he had a slight attack of his "summer cholera"everythin_n fact followed the usual course. Then he brought out the portrait of hi_erman bride, now twenty years deceased, and began plaintively appealing t_er: "Will you forgive me?" In fact he seemed somehow distracted. Our grie_ed us to get a little drunk. He soon fell into a sweet sleep, however. Nex_orning he tied his cravat in masterly fashion, dressed with care, and wen_requently to look at himself in the glass. He sprinkled his handkerchief wit_cent, only a slight dash of it, however, and as soon as he saw Varvar_etrovna out of the window he hurriedly took another handkerchief and hid th_cented one under the pillow.
  • "Excellent!" Varvara Petrovna approved, on receiving his consent. "In th_irst place you show a fine decision, and secondly you've listened to th_oice of reason, to which you generally pay so little heed in your privat_ffairs. There's no need of haste, however," she added, scanning the knot o_is white tie, "for the present say nothing, and I will say nothing. It wil_oon be your birthday; I will come to see you with her. Give us tea in th_vening, and please without wine or other refreshments, but I'll arrange i_ll myself. Invite your friends, but we'll make the list together. You ca_alk to her the day before, if necessary. And at your party we won't exactl_nnounce it, or make an engagement of any sort, but only hint at it, and le_eople know without any sort of ceremony. And then the wedding a fortnigh_ater, as far as possible without any fuss… . You two might even go away for _ime after the wedding, to Moscow, for instance. I'll go with you, too, perhaps… The chief thing is, keep quiet till then.
  • Stepan Trofimovitch was surprised. He tried to falter that he could not d_ike that, that he must talk it over with his bride. But Varvara Petrovna fle_t him in exasperation.
  • "What for? In the first place it may perhaps come to nothing."
  • "Come to nothing!" muttered the bridegroom, utterly dumbfoundered.
  • "Yes. I'll see… . But everything shall be as I've told you, and don't b_neasy. I'll prepare her myself. There's really no need for you. Everythin_ecessary shall be said and done, and there's no need for you to meddle. Wh_hould you? In what character? Don't come and don't write letters. And not _ight or sound of you, I beg. I will be silent too."
  • She absolutely refused to explain herself, and went away, obviously upset.
  • Stepan Trofimovitch's excessive readiness evidently impressed her. Alas! h_as utterly unable to grasp his position, and the question had not ye_resented itself to him from certain other points of view. On the contrary _ew note was apparent in him, a sort of conquering and jaunty air. H_waggered.
  • "I do like that!" he exclaimed, standing before me, and flinging wide hi_rms. "Did you hear? She wants to drive me to refusing at last. Why, I ma_ose patience, too, and … refuse! 'Sit still, there's no need for you to go t_er.' But after all, why should I be married? Simply because she's taken a_bsurd fancy into her heart. But I'm a serious man, and I can refuse to submi_o the idle whims of a giddy-woman! I have duties to my son and . . , and t_yself! I'm making a sacrifice. Does she realise that? I have agreed, perhaps, because I am weary of life and nothing matters to me. But she may exasperat_e, and then it will matter. I shall resent it and refuse. Et enftn, l_idicule … what will they say at the club? What will … what will … Laputi_ay? 'Perhaps nothing will come of it'what a thing to say! That beat_verything. That's really … what is one to say to that? … Je suis un for fat, un Badinguet, un man pushed to the wall… ."
  • And at the same time a sort of capricious complacency, something frivolous an_layful, could be seen in the midst of all these plaintive exclamations. I_he evening we drank too much again.