The room into which the servant conducted Nejdanov was beautifully neat an_pacious, with wide-open windows looking on to the garden. A gentle breez_tirred the white curtains, blowing them out high like sails and letting the_all again. Golden reflections glided lightly over the ceiling; the whole roo_as filled with the moist freshness of spring. Nejdanov dismissed the servant,
unpacked his trunk, washed, and changed. The journey had thoroughly exhauste_im. The constant presence of a stranger during the last two days, the man_ruitless discussions, had completely upset his nerves. A certain bitterness,
which was neither boredom nor anger, accumulated mysteriously in the depths o_is being. He was annoyed with himself for his lack of courage, but his hear_ched. He went up to the window and looked out into the garden. It was an old-
fashioned garden, with rich dark soil, such as one rarely sees around Moscow,
laid out on the slope of a hill into four separate parts. In front of th_ouse there was a flower garden, with straight gravel paths, groups of acacia_nd lilac, and round flower beds. To the left, past the stable yard, as fa_own as the barn, there was an orchard, thickly planted with apples, pears,
plums, currants, and raspberries. Beyond the flower garden, in front of th_ouse, there was a large square walk, thickly enterlaced with lime trees. T_he right, the view was shut out by an avenue of silver poplars; a glimpse o_n orangery could be seen through a group of weeping willows. The whole garde_as clothed in its first green leaves; the loud buzz of summer insects was no_et heard; the leaves rustled gently, chaffinches twittered everywhere; tw_oves sat cooing on a tree; the note of a solitary cuckoo was heard first i_ne place, then in another; the friendly cawing of rooks was carried from th_istance beyond the mill pond, sounding like the creaking of innumerable car_heels. Light clouds floated dreamily over this gentle stillness, spreadin_hemselves out like the breasts of some huge,lazy birds.
Nejdanov gazed and listened, drinking in the cool air through half-parte_ips.
His depression left him and a wonderful calmness entered his soul.
Meanwhile he was being discussed in the bedroom below. Sipiagin was tellin_is wife how he had met him, what Prince G. had said of him, and the gist o_heir talks on the journey.
"A clever chap!" he repeated, "and well educated, too. It's true he's _evolutionist, but what does it matter? These people are ambitious, at an_ate. As for Kolia, he is too young to be spoiled by any of this nonsense."
Valentina Mihailovna listened to her husband affectionately; an amused smil_layed on her lips, as if he were telling her of some naughty amusing prank.
It was pleasant to her to think that her seigneur a maitre, such a respectabl_an, of important position, could be as mischievous as a boy of twenty.
Standing before the looking-glass in a snow-white shirt and blue silk braces,
Sipiagin was brushing his hair in the English fashion with two brushes, whil_alentina Mihailovna, her feet tucked under her, was sitting on a narro_urkish couch, telling him various news about the house, the paper mill,
which, alas, was not going well, as was to be expected; about th_ossibilities of changing the cook, about the church, of which the plaster ha_ome off; about Mariana, Kollomietzev…
Between husband and wife there existed the fullest confidence and goo_nderstanding; they certainly lived in "love and harmony," as people used t_ay in olden days. When Sipiagin, after finishing his toilet, aske_hivalrously for his wife's hand and she gave him both, and watched him wit_n affectionate pride as he kissed them in turn, the feeling expressed i_heir faces was good and true, although in her it shone out of a pair of eye_orthy of Raphael, and in him out of the ordinary eyes of a mere official.
On the stroke of five Nejdanov went down to dinner, which was announced by _hinese gong, not by a bell. The whole company was already assembled in th_ining room. Sipiagin welcomed him again from behind his high cravat, an_howed him to a place between Anna Zaharovna and Kolia. Anna Zaharovna was a_ld maid, a sister of Sipiagin's father; she exhaled a smell of camphor, lik_ garment that had been put away for a long time, and had a nervous, dejecte_ook. She had acted as Kolia's nurse or governess, and her wrinkled fac_xpressed displeasure when Nejdanov sat down between her and her charge. Koli_ooked sideways at his new neighbour; the intelligent boy soon saw that hi_utor was shy and uncomfortable, that he did not raise his eyes, and scarcel_te anything. This pleased Kolia, who had been afraid that his tutor would b_ross and severe. Valentina Mihailovna also watched Nejdanov.
"He looks like a student," she thought to herself. "He's not accustomed t_ociety, but has a very interesting face, and the colour of his hair is lik_hat of the apostle whose hair the old Italian masters always painted red—an_is hands are clean!" Indeed, everybody at the table stared at Nejdanov, bu_hey had mercy on him, and left him in peace for the time being. He wa_onscious of this, and was pleased and angry about it at the same time.
Sipiagin and Kollomietzev carried on the conversation. They talked about th_ounty council, the governor, the highway tax, the peasants buying out th_and, about mutual Moscow and St. Petersburg acquaintances, Katkov's lyceum,
which was just coming into fashion, about the difficulty of getting labour,
penalties, and damage caused by cattle, even of Bismarck, the war of 1866, an_apoleon III., whom Kollomietzev called a hero. Kollomietzev gave vent to th_ost retrograde opinions, going so far as to propose, in jest it is true, _oast given by a certain friend of his on a names-day banquet, "I drink to th_nly principle I acknowledge, the whip and Roedeger!"
Valentina Mihailovna frowned, and remarked that it was de tres mauvais gout.
Sipiagin, on the contrary, expressed the most liberal views, refute_ollomietzev's arguments politely, though with a certain amount of disdain,
and even chaffed him a little.
"Your terror of emancipation, my dear Simion Petrovitch," he said, "puts me i_ind of our much respected friend, Alexai Ivanovitch Tveritinov, and th_etition he sent in, in the year 1860\. He insisted on reading it in ever_rawing room in St. Petersburg. There was one rather good sentence in it abou_ur liberated serf, who was to march over the face of the fatherland bearing _orch in his hand. You should have seen our dear Alexai Ivanovitch, blowin_ut his cheeks and blinking his little eyes, pronounce in his babyish voice,
'T-torch! t-torch! Will march with a t-torch!' Well, the emancipation is no_n established fact, but where is the peasant with the torch?
"Tveritinov was only slightly wrong," Kollomietzev said solemnly. "Not th_easants will march with the torch, but others."
At the words, Nejdanov, who until then had scarcely noticed Mariana, who sat _ittle to one side, exchanged glances with her, and instantly felt that thi_olemn girl and he were of the same convictions, of the same stamp. She ha_ade no impression on him whatever when Sipiagin had introduced them; then wh_id he exchange glances with her in particular? He wondered if it was no_isgraceful to sit and listen to such views without protesting and by reaso_f his silence letting others think that he shared them. Nejdanov looked a_ariana a second time, and her eyes seemed to say, "Wait a while … the time i_ot ripe. It isn't worth it … later on … there is plenty of time in store."
He was happy to think that she understood him, and began following th_onversation again. Valentina Mihailovna supported her husband, and was, i_nything, even more radical in her expressions than he. She could no_nderstand, "simply could not un-der-stand, how an educated young man coul_old such antiquated views."
"However," she added, "I am convinced that you only say these things for th_ake of argument. And you, Alexai Dmitritch," she added to Nejdanov, with _mile (he wondered how she had learned his Christian name and his father'_ame), "I know, do not share Simion Petrovitch's fears; my husband told m_bout your talks on the journey."
Nejdanov blushed, bent over his plate, and mumbled something; he did not fee_hy, but was simply unaccustomed to conversing with such brilliant personages.
Madame Sipiagin continued smiling to him; her husband nodded his hea_atronisingly. Kollomietzev stuck his monocle between his eyebrow and nose an_tared at the student who dared not to share his "fears." But it was difficul_o embarrass Nejdanov in this way; on the contrary, he instantly sat u_traight, and in his turn fixed his gaze on the fashionable official. Just a_nstinctively as he had felt Mariana to be a comrade, so he felt Kollomietze_o be an enemy! Kollomietzev felt it too; he removed his monocle, turned away,
and tried to laugh carelessly—but it did not come off somehow. Only Ann_aharovna, who secretly worshipped him, was on his side, and became eve_ngrier than before with the unwelcome neighbour separating her from Kolia.
Soon after this dinner came to an end. The company went out on the terrace t_rink coffee. Sipiagin and Kollomietzev lit up cigars. Sipiagin offere_ejdanov a regalia, but the latter refused.
"Why, of course!" Sipiagin exclaimed; "I've forgotten that you only smoke you_wn particular cigarettes!
"A curious taste!" Kollomietzev muttered between his teeth.
Nejdanov very nearly burst out, "I know the difference between a regalia and _igarette quite well, but I don't want to be under an obligation to anyone!"
but he contained himself and held his peace. He put down this second piece o_nsolence to his enemy's account.
"Mariana!" Madame Sipiagin suddenly called, "don't be on ceremony with our ne_riend … smoke your cigarette if you like. All the more so, as I hear," sh_dded, turning to Nejdanov, "that among you all young ladies smoke."
"Yes," Nejdanov remarked dryly. This was the first remark he had made t_adame Sipiagina.
"I don't smoke," she continued, screwing up her velvety eyes caressingly. "_uppose I am behind the times."
Mariana slowly and carefully took out a cigarette, a box of matches, and bega_o smoke, as if on purpose to spite her aunt. Nejdanov took a light fro_ariana and also began smoking.
It was a beautiful evening. Kolia and Anna Zaharovna went into the garden; th_thers remained for some time longer on the terrace enjoying the fresh air.
The conversation was very lively. Kollomietzev condemned modern literature,
and on this subject, too, Sipiagin showed himself a liberal. He insisted o_he utter freedom and independence of literature, pointed out its uses,
instanced Chateaubriand, whom the Emperor Alexander Pavlitch had invested wit_he order of St. Andrew! Nejdanov did not take part in the discussion; Madam_ipiagina watched him with an expression of approval and surprise at hi_odesty.
They all went in to drink tea in the drawing room.
"Alexai Dmitritch," Sipiagin said to Nejdanov, "we are addicted to the ba_abit of playing cards in the evening, and even play a forbidden game,
stukushka… . I won't ask you to join us, but perhaps Mariana will be goo_nough to play you something on the piano. You like music, I hope." An_ithout waiting for an answer Sipiagin took up a pack of cards. Mariana sa_own at the piano and played, rather indifferently, several of Mendelssohn's
"Songs Without Words." Charmant! Charmant! quel touché! Kollomietzev calle_ut from the other end of the room, but the exclamation was only due t_oliteness, and Nejdanov, in spite of Sipiagin's remark, showed no passion fo_usic.
Meanwhile Sipiagin, his wife, Kollomietzev, and Anna Zaharovna sat down t_ards. Kolia came to say goodnight, and, receiving his parents' blessing and _arge glass of milk instead of tea, went off to bed. His father called afte_im to inform him that tomorrow he was to begin his lessons with Alexa_mitritch. A little later, seeing Nejdanov wandering aimlessly about the roo_nd turning over the photographic albums, apparently without any interest,
Sipiagin begged him not to be on ceremony and retire if he wished, as he wa_robably tired after the journey, and to remember that the ruling principle o_heir house was liberty.
Nejdanov took advantage of this and bowing to all present went out. In th_oorway he knocked against Mariana, and, looking into her eyes, was convince_ second time that they would be comrades, although she showed no sign o_leasure at seeing him, but, on the contrary, frowned heavily.
When he went in, his room was filled with a sweet freshness; the windows ha_tood wide open all day. In the garden, opposite his window, a nightingale wa_rilling out its sweet song; the evening sky became covered with the warm glo_f the rising moon behind the rounded tops of the lime trees. Nejdanov lit _andle; a grey moth fluttered in from the dark garden straight to the flame;
she circled round it, whilst a gentle breeze from without blew on them both,
disturbing the yellow-bluish flame of the candle.
"How strange!" Nejdanov thought, lying in bed; "they seem good, liberal-minde_eople, even humane … but I feel so troubled in my heart. This chamberlain .
Kollomietzev… . However, morning is wiser than evening … It's no good bein_entimental."
At this moment the watchman knocked loudly with his stick and called out, "_ay there—"
"Take care," answered another doleful voice. "Fugh! Heavens! It's like bein_n prison!" Nejdanov exclaimed.