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Chapter 13

  • I stared at him. I could not take my eyes away. I instantly forgot every on_lse, the room, the tree, the lights…. With a force, with a poignancy an_athos and brutality that were more cruel than I could have believed possibl_hat other world came back to me. Ah! I could see now that all these months _ad been running away from this very thing, seeking to pretend that it did no_xist, that it had never existed. All in vain—utterly in vain. I saw Semyono_s I had just seen him, sitting on his horse outside the shining white hous_t O——. Then Semyonov operating in a stinking room, under a red light, hi_rms bathed in blood; then Semyonov and Trenchard; then Semyonov speaking t_arie Ivanovna, her eyes searching his face; then that day when I woke from m_ream in the orchard to find his eyes staring at me through the bright gree_rees, and afterwards when we went in to look at her dead; then worst of al_hat ride back to the "Stab" with my hand on his thick, throbbing arm….
  • Semyonov in the Forest, working, sneering, hating us, despising us, carryin_is tragedy in his eyes and defying us to care; Semyonov that last time o_ll, vanishing into the darkness with his "Nothing!" that lingering echo of _efiant desperate soul that had stayed with me, against my bidding, ever sinc_ had heard it.
  • What a fool had I been to know these people! I had felt from the first to wha_t must lead, and I might have avoided it and I would not. I looked at him, _aced him, I smiled. He was the same as he had been. A little stouter,
  • perhaps, his pale hair and square-cut beard looking as though it had bee_arved from some pale honey-coloured wood, the thick stolidity of his lon_ody and short legs, the squareness of his head, the coldness of his eyes an_he violent red of his lips, all were just as they had been—the same man, sav_hat now he was in civilian clothes, in a black suit with a black bow tie.
  • There was a smile on his lips, that same smile half sneer half friendlines_hat I knew so well. His eyes were veiled….
  • He was, I believe, as violently surprised to see me as I had been to see him,
  • but he held himself in complete control!
  • He said, "Why, Durward!… Ivan Andreievitch!" Then he greeted the others.
  • I was able, now, to notice the general effect of his arrival. It was as thoug_ cold wind had suddenly burst through the windows, blown out all the candle_pon the tree and plunged the place into darkness. Those who did not know hi_elt that, with his entrance, the gaiety was gone. Markovitch's face was pale,
  • he was looking at Vera who, for an instant, had stood, quite silently, starin_t her uncle, then, recovering herself, moved forward.
  • "Why, Uncle Alexei!" she cried, holding out her hand. "You're too late for th_ree! Why didn't you tell us? Then you could have come to dinner… and now i_s all over. Why didn't you tell us?"
  • He took her hand, and, very solemnly, bent down and kissed it.
  • "I didn't know myself, dear Vera Michailovna. I only arrived in Petrogra_esterday; and then in my house everything was wrong, and I've been busy al_ay. But I felt that I must run in and give you the greetings of the season….
  • Ah, Nicholas, how are you? And you, Ivan?… I telephoned to you…. Nina, m_ear…." And so on. He went round and shook hands with them all. He wa_ntroduced to Bohun and Lawrence. He was very genial, praising the tree,
  • laughing, shouting in the ears of the great-aunt. But no one responded. As s_requently happens in Russia the atmosphere was suddenly changed. No one ha_nything to say. The candles on the tree were blown out. Of course, th_vening was not nearly ended. There would be tea and games, perhaps—at an_ate every one would sit and sit until three or four if, for no other reason,
  • simply because it demanded too much energy to rise and make farewells. But th_pirit of the party was utterly dead….
  • The samovar hissed at the end of the table. Vera Michailovna sat there makin_ea for every one. Semyonov (I should now in the heart of his relations, hav_hought of him as Alexei Petrovitch, but so long had he been Semyonov to m_hat Semyonov he must remain) was next to her, and I saw that he took trouble,
  • talking to her, smiling, his stiff strong white fingers now and then strokin_is thick beard, his red lips parting a little, then closing so firmly that i_eemed that they would never open again.
  • I noticed that his eyes often wandered towards me. He was uneasy about m_resence there, I thought, and that disturbed me. I felt as I looked at hi_he same confusion as I had always felt. I did not hate him. His strength o_haracter, his fearlessness, these things in a country famous for neithe_uality I was driven to admire and to respect. And I could not hate what _dmired.
  • And yet my fear gathered and gathered in volume as I watched him. What woul_e do with these people? What plans had he? What purpose? What secret, selfis_mbitions was he out now to secure?
  • Markovitch was silent, drinking his tea, watching his wife, watching us al_ith his nervous frowning expression.
  • I rose to go and then, when I had said farewell to every one and went toward_he door, Semyonov joined me.
  • "Well, Ivan Andreievitch," he said. "So we have not finished with one anothe_et."
  • He looked at me with his steady unswerving eyes; he smiled.
  • I also smiled as I found my coat and hat in the little hall. Sacha helped m_nto my Shuba. He stood, his lips a little apart, watching me.
  • "What have you been doing all this time?" he asked me.
  • "I've been ill," I answered.
  • "Not had, I hope."
  • "No, not had. But enough to keep me very idle."
  • "As much of an optimist as ever?"
  • "Was I an optimist?"
  • "Why, surely. A charming one. Do you love Russia as truly as ever?"
  • I laughed, my hand on the door. "That's my affair, Alexei Petrovitch," _nswered.
  • "Certainly," he said, smiling. "You're looking older, you know."
  • "You too," I said.
  • "Yes, perhaps. Would I still think you sentimental, do you suppose?"
  • "It is of no importance, Alexei Petrovitch," I said. "I'm sure you have othe_etter things to do. Are you remaining in Petrograd?"
  • He looked at me then very seriously, his eyes staring straight into mine.
  • "I hope so."
  • "You will work at your practice?"
  • "Perhaps." He nodded to me. "Strange to find you here…." he said. "We shal_eet again. Good-night."
  • He closed the door behind me.