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Chapter 7

  • 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.