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Chapter 29

  • When Tatiana Markovna returned from the ferry she sat down to work at he_ccounts, but soon laid them aside, and dismissed the servants. She asked fo_aisky, who had gone over to see Koslov because he did not want to be lef_lone with his aunt. She sent across to ask Vera whether she was coming t_inner. Vera said that she would rather stay in her room and go to bed early.
  • In the courtyard a scene by no means unusual was being enacted. Savili ha_early broken Marina's back with a severe beating because he had seen he_lipping out at dawn from the room in which Vikentev's servant was quartered.
  • She hid herself in the fields and the vegetable garden, but at last sh_merged, thinking that he would have forgotten. He struck her with the whi_hile she sought refuge in one corner after another, swearing by all that wa_acred that the devil had taken on her figure and had made a fool of him. Bu_hen he exchanged the whip for the stick she cried out aloud at the first blo_nd fell at his feet. "I am guilty," she cried, begging for mercy. Sh_romised not to transgress again, calling God to witness of her sincerity.
  • Thereupon Savili threw away the stick and wiped his face with his sleeve.
  • "You may go this time," he said, "since you have confessed, and since you cal_od to witness."
  • Tatiana Markovna was informed of this proceeding, but she only wrinkled he_orehead, and made a sign to Vassilissa not to be too severe with Marina.
  • There were visitors to dinner who had heard of Vera's indisposition and ha_ome to inquire. Tatiana Markovna spoke of a chill, suffering all the tim_rom her insincerity, since she did not know what was the truth that la_ehind this feigned illness. She had not dared to send for the doctor, wh_ould have immediately seen that it was a moral, not a physical malady.
  • She ate no supper; Tiet Nikonich politely said that he had no appetite either.
  • Then came Raisky, who also wanted no supper, but sat silently at tabl_retending not to notice the glances which Tatiana Markovna directed toward_im from time to time.
  • When Tiet Nikonich had made his bow and departed, Tatiana Markovna prepared t_etire. She hardly looked at Raisky when she bade him good-night, because he_ffections and her self-esteem were both too deeply wounded. A secret an_erious misfortune had befallen the family, but she was left on one side lik_ stranger, as if she were a useless, incapable woman. Raisky said in a lo_oice that he must speak with her.
  • "Bad news?" she whispered, shivering and looking fixedly at him before sh_assed with him into her own room. She dropped into her old chair and pushe_he lamp farther away, first covering it with a shade, so that the room wa_imly lighted. Raisky began his tale as cautiously as possible, but his lip_rembled and now and again his tongue refused its office, but he collected al_is strength and went on, although towards the end of his story his voice wa_ardly audible.
  • Dawn had come, but throughout the long hours Tatiana Markovna had sa_otionless and speechless with bowed head, giving vent now and then to a lo_oan. Raisky fell on his knees before her and implored her, "Go to Vera'_elp."
  • "She has sent too late for Grandmother. God will go to her help. Spare her an_onsole her as you know how to do. She no longer has a Grandmother," she said, going towards the door.
  • "Grandmother, what is the matter with you?" cried Raisky barring her way.
  • "You have no longer a Grandmother," she said absently. "Go, go." As he did no_bey, she cried angrily, "Don't come here. I will see no one. You must all o_ou leave me in peace." He would have replied, but she made an impatien_esture with her hand. "Go to her," she continued. "Help her as far as yo_an. Grandmother can do nothing: you have no longer a Grandmother."
  • She made another gesture with her hand, so imperious this time that he wen_ithout further parley, but he concealed himself in the yard and watched he_indow. Tatiana Markovna sank back in her chair and closed her eyes, and for _ong time she remained there, cold and stiff as if she were a dead woman.
  • Raisky, who had not gone to bed, and Vassilissa and Yakob as well, saw Tatian_arkovna with her head uncovered and her Turkish shawl thrown round he_houlders leave the house in the early morning and go out into the garden. I_as as if a bronze figure had descended from its pedestal and had begun t_alk.
  • She passed through the flower garden and then through the avenue to th_recipice; then, striding slowly along, with her head held high and withou_ooking round, she went down the face of the cliff, and disappeared.
  • Concealing his presence in the trees, Raisky hurried after her, following he_s she passed deeper and deeper down the precipice and until she reached th_rbour, where she paused. Raisky came closer, and held his breath as h_istened to Tatiana Markovna's heavy sighs, and then heard her whisper, "M_in." With her hands above her head she walked hastily on, until she came t_he bank of the river and stood still. The wind wound her dress round he_nkles, disordered her hair, and tugged at her shawl, but she noticed nothing.
  • A terrible idea dawned on Raisky that she intended to drown herself. But hi_unt turned back as she had come, with slow strides which left deep prints i_he damp sand. Raisky breathed more freely; but when, following her track in _arallel direction, he caught sight of her face, he held his breath in horro_t the agony he saw written there. She had spoken truly, their grandmothe_xisted no longer. This was not grandmother, not Tatiana Markovna, the warm- hearted mistress of Malinovka, where the life and prosperity of the whol_lace depended on her, the wise and happy ruler of her little kingdom. It wa_s if she were not walking of her own accord but was driven on by an impuls_xterior to herself, as unconscious of her movements she climbed the stee_ill through the brushwood, with her shawl hanging down from her shoulder_ragging its corners in the dust; her eyes, from which stony horror looke_orth, were unwinking; her manner was that of a moonstruck woman. Raisky foun_t difficult to follow her. She paused once, leaning both hands on a tree. "M_in," she exclaimed again. "How heavy is the burden! If it is not lightened, _an bear it no longer." She began again to climb quickly up the hill, surmounting the difficulties of the steep path with unnatural strength an_eaving tags of her dress and her shawl behind her in the bushes.
  • Overcome with amazement and horror, Raisky watched this new strange woman. H_new that only great souls conquer heavy trouble with strength like hers. The_ave wings like eagles to soar into the clouds and eagle eyes to gaze into th_byss. This was not his grandmother; she seemed to him to be one of thos_eminine figures which emerge from the family circle in the supreme moments o_ife under the heavy blows of fate, who bear great misfortunes majesticall_nd are not overwhelmed. He saw in her a Jewess of the olden days, a nobl_oman of Jerusalem, who scorns the prophecy that her people will lose thei_ame and their honour to the Romans, but when the hour of fate has arrived, when the men of Jerusalem are watering its walls with their tears and beatin_heir heads against the stones, then she takes the ornaments from her hair, puts on mourning garments, and goes on her pilgrimage wherever the hand o_ehovah leads. His mind went back to another queen of misfortune, to th_ussian Marfa, the enemy of the city of Moscow, who maintained her defianc_ven in her chains, and, dying, directed the destiny of free Novgorod. Befor_is imagination there passed a procession of other suffering women, Russia_saritsas, who, at the wish of their husbands, had adopted the dress of th_un and had maintained their intellect and their strength of character in th_loister… .
  • Raisky diverted his attention from these unsummoned apparitions, and looke_ttentively at the suffering woman before him. Tatiana Markovna's kingdom wa_erishing. Her house was left desolate; her dearest treasure, her pride, he_earl, had been taken from her, and she wandered lonely among the ruins. Whe_he paused in her walk in order to collect her strength, she tottered an_ould have fallen but for an inner whisper which assured her she would ye_each her goal. She pulled herself together, and wandered on until evening.
  • Half asleep, terrified by her crowding fancies, she spent the night on th_ofa. At dawn she rose, and went once more to the precipice. With her hea_esting on the bare boards she sat for a long time on the crumbling threshol_f the arbour, then she went through the fields, and was lost in the thicke_n the bank of the river. By chance her steps led her to the chapel, where ne_error seized her at the sight of the picture of the Christ. She fell on he_nees like a wounded animal, covered her face with her shawl, and moaned, "M_in! my sin!"
  • Tatiana Markovna's servants had lost their heads in terror. Vassilissa an_akob hardly stirred from the church. She intended, if her mistress recovered, to make her pilgrimage on foot to Kiev in order to venerate the miracl_orker; he promised to the patron saint of the village a thick wax candl_rnamented with gold. The rest of the servants hid themselves, and only looke_hyly out after their mistress as she wandered distraught through the field_nd the woods.
  • For two days already Tatiana Markovna had eaten nothing. Raisky indeed trie_o restrain her from leaving the house again, but she waved him imperiousl_way. Then with decision he took a jug of water, came up to her, and took he_and. She looked at him as if she did not know who he was, then mechanicall_eized the jug in her trembling hand, and drank greedily in big mouthfuls.
  • "Grandmother, come home again, and do not make both yourself and us wretched,"
  • he begged. "You will kill yourself."
  • "It is God's will; I shall not lose my reason, for I am upheld by Hi_trength. I must endure to the end. Do you raise me if I fall. My sin!" sh_urmured and went on her way. After she had gone a few steps, she turned roun_nd he ran to her.
  • "If I do not survive," she began, signing to him to bow his head. Raisky knel_own, and she pressed his head to her breast, laid her hands on it and kisse_im. "Accept my blessing, deliver it to Marfinka, and to her, to my poor Vera.
  • Do you understand, to her also."
  • "Grandmother!" he cried, kissing her hand.
  • She tore her hand away, and set out to wander once more through the thicket, by the river bank, and in the fields. A devout soul obeys its own laws, thought Raisky, as he dried his tears; only a saint could suffer like this fo_he object of her love.
  • Things were not going any better with Vera. Raisky made haste to tell her o_is conversation with their aunt; when she sent for him early next morning, i_er anxiety to have news of Tatiana Markovna, he pointed out of the window, and Vera saw how Tatiana Markovna was drifting, urged on by the heavy hand o_isfortune. For a moment she caught sight of her expression, and san_orrified on the floor, but she pulled herself up again, ran from one windo_o the other, and stretched her hands out towards her grandmother. Then sh_ushed through the wide empty hall of the old house in a wild desire to follo_atiana Markovna, but she realised in time that it would have killed her aun_f she approached her just now. Vera was conscious now how deeply she ha_ounded another life so close to her own, as she saw the tragic figure of he_unt, so happy until recently and now bearing the punishment of another's sin.
  • Raisky brought her Tatiana Markovna's blessing, and Vera fell on his neck an_ept for a long time.
  • On the evening of the second day, Vera was found sitting in a corner of th_reat hall, half dressed. Raisky and the priest's wife, who had just arrived, led her almost by force into her room and laid her down on the bed. Raisk_ent for the doctor, to whom he tried to explain her indisposition. The docto_rescribed a sedative, which Vera drank without being any calmer for it; sh_ften waked in her sleep to ask after her grandmother.
  • "Give me something to drink … don't say a word. Do not let anyone come to se_e. Find out what Grandmother is doing." It was just the same in the night.
  • When she awoke, she would whisper, "Grandmother doesn't come, Grandmothe_oesn't love me any more. She has not forgiven me."
  • On the third day Tatiana Markovna left the house without being observed. Afte_wo sleepless nights, Raisky had lain down and had given instructions to wak_im if she left the house, but Yakob and Vassilissa had gone to early Mass, and the other servants had paid no attention. Later on Savili saw that hi_istress, catching hold of the trees as she went, was making her way from th_recipice to the fields. Raisky hurried after her and watched her slow retur_o the house; she stood still, looked round as if she were saying goodbye t_he group of houses, groped with her hands, and swayed violently. Then h_ushed up to her, brought her back to the house with Vassilissa's help, pu_er in her armchair and sent for the doctor. Vassilissa fell on her knee_efore her mistress.
  • "Little mother! Tatiana Markovna," she begged, "come back to us. Make the sig_f the Cross."
  • Tatiana Markovna crossed herself, sighed, and signed that she could not spea_nd wanted something to drink. Vassilissa undressed her, wrapped her in war_heets, rubbed her hands and feet with spirit, and then gave her some war_ine to drink. The doctor prescribed for her, but said that it was mos_mportant of all that she should not be disturbed, but should be allowed t_leep.
  • An incautious word that Tatiana Markovna was ill reached Vera's ears. Sh_ushed past Natalie Ivanovna, and wanted to go over to the new house; Raisk_ad great difficulty in persuading her to abandon her intention as Tatian_arkovna lay in a deep sleep. In the evening Vera was worse, she had fever an_as delirious, and during the night she flung herself from one side t_nother, calling on her grandmother in her sleep, and weeping. Raisky wante_o call the old doctor; he waited impatiently till the morning and spent hi_ime in going from Vera to Tatiana Markovna, and from Tatiana Markovna back t_era.
  • As Vera's condition had not improved next morning, Raisky went with Vassiliss_nto Tatiana Markovna's bedroom, where they found the old lady in the sam_tate as she had been in the whole of the day before.
  • "I am afraid of going near her in case I alarm her," he whispered.
  • "Should I awaken the mistress?"
  • "She must be awakened. Vera Vassilievna is ill, and I don't know whether _ught to send for the old doctor."
  • The words were hardly out of his mouth when Tatiana Markovna sat up. "Is Ver_ll?" she said in a low voice.
  • Raisky breathed more freely, for his aunt, in her present anxiety, had los_he stony expression of yesterday. She signed to him to leave the room. Hal_n hour later she was walking across the courtyard to the old house wit_rouble plainly depicted on her face, but apparently without a trace o_eariness. She entered Vera's room cautiously, and when she saw the pal_leeping face, whispered to Raisky, "Send for the old doctor." She now notice_or the first time the priest's wife and her weary eyes; she embraced Natali_vanovna, and advised her kindly to go and get a whole day's rest.
  • When the doctor arrived, Tatiana Markovna gave him an ingenious explanation o_era's indisposition. He discovered symptoms of a nervous fever and prescribe_edicine; but on the whole he did not think that serious consequences need b_xpected if the patient could be kept quiet. Vera was half asleep when sh_ook the medicine and towards evening fell fast asleep. Tatiana Markovna sa_own at the head of the bed, watching her movements and listening to he_reathing. Presently Vera woke up and asked, "Are you asleep, Natasha?"
  • As she received no answer she closed her eyes, but she could not go to slee_gain, and the darkness seemed to her to be a dark and terrible prison. Afte_ time she asked for something to drink. Someone handed her a cup.
  • "How is Grandmother?" asked Vera, opening her eyes only to close them agai_mmediately. "Natasha, where are you? Come here. Why are you hiding?" sh_ighed and fell asleep again. Presently she woke again and whispere_itifully, "Grandmother doesn't come. Grandmother loves me no longer, and ha_ot forgiven me."
  • "Grandmother is here. She loves you and has forgiven you."
  • Vera sprang from the bed and rushed up to Tatiana Markovna. "Grandmother," sh_ried, half fainting and hiding her head on her breast.
  • Tatiana Markovna put her to bed again, leaned her grey head by Vera's whit_uffering face, while the girl in a low voice, with sighs and tears, made he_onfession on her breast. Her aunt listened without speaking, and presentl_iped away Vera's tears with her handkerchief, and kissed her warmly an_ffectionately.
  • "Do not waste your caresses on me, Grandmother; only do not leave me. I do no_eserve your caresses. Keep your kisses for my sister."
  • "Your sister is no longer in need of my caresses. But I need your love. If yo_orsake me, Vera, I shall be a desolate old woman." Tatiana Markovna wept.
  • "Mother, forgive me," whispered Vera, embracing her with her whole strength.
  • "I have not been obedient to you, and God has punished me," she went on, bu_atiana Markovna shut her mouth with a kiss.
  • "Do not talk like that, Vera," interrupted her grandmother, who had turne_ale with horror and once more wore the aspect of the old woman who had bee_andering about in the thicket by the precipice.
  • "Yes, I thought that my own brain and will were self-sufficing, that I wa_iser than you all."
  • "You are wiser than I and have more learning," said Tatiana Markovna, breathing more freely. "God has given you a clear understanding, but you hav_ot my experience."
  • Vera thought that she had more experience also, but she merely said, "Take m_way from here. There is no Vera any longer. I want to be your Marfinka. Tak_e away from this old house over there to you."
  • The two heads rested side by side on the pillow. They lay in a close embrac_nd fell asleep.