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Chapter 15

  • As soon as it was convenient for him to do so, Nejdanov retired to his ow_oom and locked himself in. He did not want to see anyone, anyone excep_ariana. Her room was situated at the very end of a long corridor, intersecting the whole of the upper story. Nejdanov had only once been ther_or a few moments, but it seemed to him that she would not mind if he knocke_t her door, now that she even wished to speak to him herself. It was alread_airly late, about ten o'clock. The host and hostess had not considered i_ecessary to disturb him after what had taken place at the dinner table.
  • Valentina Mihailovna inquired once or twice about Mariana, as she too ha_isappeared soon after dinner. "Where is Mariana Vikentievna?" she asked firs_n Russian, then in French, addressing herself to no one in particular, bu_ather to the walls, as people often do when greatly astonished, but she soo_ecame absorbed in the game.
  • Nejdanov paced up and down the room several times, then turned down th_orridor and knocked gently at Mariana's door. There was no response. H_nocked again— then he turned the handle of the door. It was locked. But h_ad hardly got back to his own room and sat down, when the door creaked softl_nd Mariana's voice was heard: "Alexai Dmitritch, was that YOU, that came t_e?
  • He jumped up instantly and rushed out into the corridor. Mariana was standin_t his door with a candle in her hand, pale and motionless.
  • "Yes … I—" he murmured.
  • "Come," she said, turning down the corridor, but before reaching the end sh_topped and pushed open a low door. Nejdanov looked into a small, almost bar_oom.
  • "We had better go in here, Alexai Dmitritch, no one will disturb us here."
  • Nejdanov obeyed. Mariana put the candlestick on a window-sill and turned t_im.
  • "I understand why you wanted to see me," she began. "It is wretched for you t_ive in this house, and for me too."
  • "Yes, I wanted to see you, Mariana Vikentievna," Nejdanov replied, " but I d_ot feel wretched here since I've come to know you."
  • Mariana smiled pensively.
  • "Thank you, Alexai Dmitritch. But tell me, do you really intend stopping her_fter all that has happened?"
  • "I don't think they will keep me— I shall be dismissed," Nejdanov replied.
  • "But don't you intend going away of your own accord?"
  • "I… No!"
  • "Why not?"
  • "Do you want to know the truth? Because you are here." Mariana lowered he_ead and moved a little further down the room.
  • "Besides," Nejdanov continued, "I MUST stay here. You know nothing— but _ant— I feel that I must tell you everything." He approached Mariana an_eized her hand; she did not take it away, but only looked straight into hi_ace. "Listen!" he exclaimed with sudden force, "Listen!"
  • And instantly, without stopping to sit down, although there were two or thre_hairs in the room, still standing before her and holding her hand, wit_eated enthusiasm and with an eloquence, surprising even to himself, he bega_elling her all his plans, his intentions, his reason for having accepte_ipiagin's offer, about all his connections, acquaintances, about his past, things that he had always kept hidden from everybody. He told her abou_assily Nikolaevitch's letters, everything— even about Silin! He spok_urriedly, without a single pause or the smallest hesitation, as if he wer_eproaching himself for not having entrusted her with all his secrets before— as if he were begging her pardon. She listened to him attentively, greedily; she was bewildered at first, but this feeling soon wore off. Her heart wa_verflowing with gratitude, pride, devotion, resoluteness. Her face and eye_hone; she laid her other hand on Nejdanov's— her lips parted in ecstasy. Sh_ecame marvellously beautiful!
  • He ceased at last, and suddenly seemed to see THIS face for the first time, although it was so dear and so familiar to him. He gave a deep sigh.
  • "Ah! how well I did to tell you everything!" He was scarcely able t_rticulate the words.
  • "Yes, how well— how well!" she repeated, also in a whisper. She imitated hi_nconsciously— her voice, too, gave way. "And it means," she continued, "tha_ am at your disposal, that I want to be useful to your cause, that I am read_o do anything that may be necessary, go wherever you may want me to, that _ave always longed with my whole soul for all the things that you want—"
  • She also ceased. Another word— and her emotion would have dissolved int_ears. All the strength and force of her nature suddenly softened as wax. Sh_as consumed with a thirst for activity, for self-sacrifice, for immediat_elf-sacrifice.
  • A sound of footsteps was heard from the other side of the door— light, rapid, cautious footsteps.
  • Mariana suddenly drew herself up and disengaged her hands; her mood changed, she became quite cheerful, a certain audacious, scornful expression flitte_cross her face.
  • "I know who is listening behind the door at this moment," she remarked, s_oudly that every word could be heard distinctly in the corridor; "Madam_ipiagina is listening to us … but it makes no difference to me."
  • The footsteps ceased.
  • "Well?" Mariana asked, turning to Nejdanov. "What shall I do? How shall I hel_ou? Tell me… tell me quickly! What shall I do?"
  • "I don't know yet," Nejdanov replied. "I have received a note from Markelov—"
  • "When did you receive it? When? "
  • "This evening. He and I must go and see Solomin at the factory tomorrow."
  • "Yes … yes… . What a splendid man Markelov is! Now he's a real friend!"
  • "Like me"
  • "No—not like you."
  • "How?
  • She turned away suddenly.
  • "Oh! Don't you understand what you have become for me, and what I am feelin_t this moment?"
  • Nejdanov's heart beat violently; he looked down. This girl who loved him—_oor, homeless wretch, who trusted him, who was ready to follow him, pursu_he same cause together with him— this wonderful girl— Mariana— became fo_ejdanov at this moment the incarnation of all earthly truth and goodness— th_ncarnation of the love of mother, sister, wife, all the things he had neve_nown; the incarnation of his country, happiness, struggle, freedom!
  • He raised his head and encountered her eyes fixed on him again.
  • Oh, how this sweet, bright glance penetrated to his very soul!
  • "And so," he began in an unsteady voice, "I am going away tomorrow… And when _ome back, I will tell… you— " (he suddenly felt it awkward to address Marian_s "you") "tell you everything that is decided upon. From now on everythin_hat I do and think, everything, I will tell thee first."
  • "Oh, my dear!" Mariana exclaimed, seizing his hand again. "I promise thee th_ame!"
  • The word "thee" escaped her lips just as simply and easily as if they had bee_ld comrades.
  • "Have you got the letter?"
  • "Here it is."
  • Mariana scanned the letter and looked up at him almost reverently.
  • "Do they entrust you with such important commissions?" He smiled in reply an_ut the letter back in his pocket. "How curious," he said, "we have come t_now of our love, we love one another— and yet we have not said a single wor_bout it."
  • "There is no need," Mariana whispered, and suddenly threw her arms around hi_eck and pressed her head closely against his breast. They did not kiss— i_ould have seemed to them too commonplace and rather terrible— but instantl_ook leave of one another, tightly clasping each other's hands.
  • Mariana returned for the candle which she had left on the window- sill of th_mpty room. Only then a sort of bewilderment came over her; she extinguishe_he candle and, gliding quickly along the dark corridor, entered her own room, undressed and went to bed in the soothing darkness.