NEJDANOV awoke early and, without waiting for a servant, dressed and went ou_nto the garden. It was very large and beautiful this garden, and well kept.
Hired labourers were scraping the paths with their spades, through the brigh_reen shrubs a glimpse of kerchiefs could be seen on the heads of the peasan_irls armed with rakes. Nejdanov wandered down to the pond; the early mornin_ist had already lifted, only a few curves in its banks still remained i_bscurity. The sun, not yet far above the horizon, threw a rosy light over th_teely silkiness of its broad surface. Five carpenters were busy about th_aft, a newly- painted boat was lightly rocking from side to side, creating _entle ripple over the water. The men rarely spoke, and then in somewha_reoccupied tones. Everything was submerged in the morning stillness, an_veryone was occupied with the morning work; the whole gave one a feeling o_rder and regularity of everyday life. Suddenly, at the other end of th_venue, Nejdanov got a vision of the very incarnation of order and regularity—
He wore a brown coat, something like a dressing gown, and a checkered cap; h_as leaning on an English bamboo cane, and his newly-shaven face shone wit_atisfaction; he was on the round of inspecting his estate. Sipiagin greete_ejdanov kindly.
"Ah!" he exclaimed, "I see you are one of the early birds!" (He evidentl_anted to express his approval by this old saying, which was a little out o_lace, of the fact that Nejdanov, like himself, did not like lying in be_ong.) "At eight o'clock we all take tea in the dining room, and we usuall_reakfast at twelve. I should like you to give Kolia his first lesson i_ussian grammar at ten o'clock, and a lesson in history at two. I don't wan_im to have any lessons tomorrow, as it will he his name-day, hut I would lik_ou to begin today."
Nejdanov bowed his head, and Sipiagin took leave of him in the French fashion,
quickly lifting his hand several times to his lips and nose, and walked away,
whistling and waving his cane energetically, not at all like an importan_fficial and state dignitary, but like a jolly Russian country gentleman.
Until eight o'clock Nejdanov stayed in the garden, enjoying the shadows cas_y the old trees, the fresh air, the singing of the birds, until the sound o_ gong called him to the house. On his entrance he found the whole compan_lready assembled in the dining room. Valentina Mihailovna greeted him in _riendly manner; she seemed to him marvellously beautiful in her morning gown.
Mariana looked stern and serious as usual.
Exactly at ten o'clock Nejdanov gave Kolia his first lesson before Valentin_ihailovna, who had asked him if she might he present, and sat very quietl_he whole time. Kolia proved an intelligent boy; after the inevitable moment_f incertitude and discomfort, the lesson went off very well, and Valentin_ihailovna was evidently satisfied with Nejdanov, and spoke to him severa_imes kindly. He tried to hold aloof a little—but not too much so. Valentin_ihailovna was also present at the second lesson, this time on Russia_istory. She announced, with a smile, that in this subject she neede_nstruction almost as much as Kolia. She conducted herself just as quietly a_he had done at the first lesson.
Between two and five o'clock Nejdanov stayed in his own room writing letter_o his St. Petersburg friends. He was neither bored nor in despair; hi_verstrained nerves had calmed down somewhat. However, they were set on edg_gain at dinner, although Kollomietzev was not present, and the kind attentio_f host and hostess remained unchanged; but it was this very attention tha_ade Nejdanov angry. To make matters worse, the old maiden lady, Ann_aharovna, was obviously antagonistic, Mariana continued serious, and Koli_ather unceremoniously kicked him under the table. Sipiagin also seemed out o_orts. He was extremely dissatisfied with the manager of his paper mill, _erman, to whom he paid a large salary. Sipiagin began by abusing Germans i_eneral, then announced that he was somewhat of a Slavophil, though not _anatic, and mentioned a certain young Russian, by the name of Solomin, who,
it was said, had successfully established another mill belonging to _eighbouring merchant; he was very anxious to meet this Solomin.
Kollomietzev came in the evening; his own estate was only about ten miles awa_rom "Arjanov," the name of Sipiagin's village. There also came a certai_ustice of the peace, a squire, of the kind so admirably described in the tw_amous lines of Lermontov—
Behind a cravat, frock coat to the heels Moustache, squeaky voice—and heav_lance.
Another guest arrived, with a dejected look, without a tooth in his head, bu_ery accurately dressed. After him came the local doctor, a very bad doctor,
who was fond of coming out with learned expressions. He assured everyone, fo_nstance, that he liked Kukolnik better than Pushkin because there was a grea_eal of "protoplasm" about him. They all sat down to play cards. Nejdano_etired to his own room, and read and wrote until midnight.
The following day, the 9th of May, was Kolia's patron-saint's day.
Although the church was not a quarter of a mile off, the whole household drov_o mass in three open carriages with footmen at the back. Everything was ver_estive and gorgeous. Sipiagin decorated himself with his order, Valentin_ihailovna was dressed in a beautiful pale lavender-coloured Parisian gown,
and during the service read her prayers out of a tiny little prayer hook boun_n red velvet. This little book was a matter of great concern among severa_ld peasants, one of whom, unable to contain himself any longer, asked of hi_eighbour: "What is she doing? Lord have mercy on us! Is she casting a spell?
" The sweet scent of the flowers, which filled the whole church, mingled wit_he smell of the peasant's coats, tarred boots and shoes, the whole bein_rowned by the delicious, overpowering scent of incense.
In the choir the clerks and sacristans tried their very hardest to sing well,
and with the help of the men from the factory attempted something like _oncert! There was a moment when an almost painful sensation came over th_ongregation. The tenor's voice (it belonged to one of the men from th_actory, who was in the last stages of consumption) rose high above the rest,
and without the slightest restraint trilled out long chromatic flat mino_otes; they were terrible these notes! but to stop them would have meant th_hole concert going to pieces… . However, the thing went off without an_ishap. Father Kiprian, a priest of the most patriarchal appearance, dresse_n the full vestments of the church, delivered his sermon out of a copy-book.
Unfortunately, the conscientious father had considered it necessary t_ntroduce the names of several very wise Assyrian kings, which caused him som_rouble in pronunciation. He succeeded in showing a certain amount o_earning, but perspired very much in the effort!
Nejdanov, who for a long time had not been inside a church, stood in a corne_midst the peasant women, who kept casting sidelong glances at him in betwee_rossing themselves, bowing piously to the ground, and wiping their babies'
noses. But the peasant girls in their new coats and beaded head-dresses, an_he boys in their embroidered shirts, with girdles round their waists, stare_ntently at the new worshipper, turning their faces straight towards him…
Nejdanov, too, looked at them, and many things rose up in his mind.
After mass, which lasted a very long time—the service of St. Nikolai th_iraculous is well known to he one of the longest in the Orthodox Church—al_he clergy, at Sipiagin's invitation, returned to his house, and, after goin_hrough several additional ceremonies, such as sprinkling the room with hol_ater, they all sat down to an abundant breakfast, interspersed with the usua_ongratulations and rather wearisome talk. The host and hostess, who neve_ook breakfast at such an early hour, broke the rule on this occasion.
Sipiagin even went so far as to relate an anecdote, quite proper, of course,
but nevertheless amusing, in spite of his dignity and red ribbon, and cause_ather Kiprian to be filled with gratitude and amazement. To show that he,
too, could tell something worth hearing on occasion, the good father related _onversation he had had with the bishop, when the latter, on a tour round hi_iocese, had invited all the clergy of the district to come and see him at th_onastery in the town. " He is very severe with us," Father Kiprian assure_veryone. "First he questioned us about our parish, about our arrangements,
and then he began to examine us… . He turned to me also: 'What is you_hurch's dedication day?' 'The Transfiguration of our Lord,' I replied. 'D_ou know the hymn for that day? " I think so.' 'Sing it.' 'Thou wer_ransfigured on the mountain, Christ our Lord,' I began. 'Stop! Do you kno_he meaning of the Transfiguration?' 'To be quite brief,' I replied, 'our Lor_ished to show himself to His disciples in all His glory.' 'Very well,' h_aid, 'here is a little image in memory of me.' I fell at his feet. ' I than_ou, your Holiness… .' I did not go away from him emptyhanded."
"I have the honour of knowing his Holiness personally," Sipiagin sai_olemnly. "A most worthy pastor!"
"Most worthy!" Father Kiprian agreed; "only he puts too much faith in th_cclesiastical superintendents! "
Valentina Mihailovna referred to the peasant school, and spoke of Mariana a_he future schoolmistress; the deacon (who had been appointed supervisor o_he school), a man of strong athletic build, with long waving hair, bearing _aint resemblance to the well-groomed tail of an Orlov race courser, quit_orgetting his vocal powers, gave forth such a volume of sound as to confus_imself and frighten everybody else. Soon after this the clergy took thei_eave.
Kolia, in his new coat decorated with golden buttons, was the hero of the day.
He was given presents, he was congratulated, his hands were kissed at th_ront door and at the back door by servants, workmen from the factory, ol_omen and young girls and peasants; the latter, in memory of the days o_erfdom, hung around the tables in front of the house, spread out with pie_nd small bottles of vodka. The happy boy was shy and pleased and proud, al_t the same time; he caressed his parents and ran out of the room. At dinne_ipiagin ordered champagne, and before drinking his son's health made _peech. He spoke of the significance of "serving the land," and indicated th_oad he wished his Nikolai to follow (he did not use the diminutive of th_oy's name), of the duty he owed, first to his family; secondly to his class,
to society; thirdly to the people—" Yes, my dear ladies and gentlemen, to th_eople; and fourthly, to the government!" By degrees Sipiagin became quit_loquent, with his hand under the tail of his coat in imitation of Rober_eel. He pronounced the word "science " with emotion, and finished his speec_y the Latin exclamation, laboremus! which he instantly translated int_ussian. Kolia, with a glass in his hand, went over to thank his father and t_e kissed by the others.
Nejdanov exchanged glances with Mariana again…
They no doubt felt the same, but they did not speak to each other.
However, Nejdanov was more amused than annoyed with the whole proceeding, an_he amiable hostess, Valentina Mihailovna, seemed to him to be an intelligen_oman, who was aware that she was playing a part, but pleased to think tha_here was someone else intelligent enough to understand her. Nejdanov probabl_ad no suspicion of the degree in which he was flattered by her attitud_owards him.
On the following day lessons were renewed, and life fell back in its ordinar_ut.
A week flew by in this way. Nejdanov's thoughts and experiences during tha_ime may be best gathered from an extract of a letter he wrote to a certai_ilin, an old school chum and his best friend. Silin did not live in St.
Petersburg, but in a distant provincial town, with an old relative on whom h_as entirely dependent. His position was such that he could hardly dream o_ver getting away from there. He was a man of very poor health, timid, o_imited capacity, but of an extraordinarily pure nature. He did not interes_imself in politics, but read anything that came in his way, played on th_lute as a resource against boredom, and was afraid of young ladies. Silin wa_assionately fond of Nejdanov—he had an affectionate heart in general.
Nejdanov did not express himself to anyone as freely as he did to Vladimi_ilin; when writing to him he felt as if he were communicating to some dea_nd intimate soul, dwelling in another world, or to his own conscience.
Nejdanov could not for a moment conceive of the idea of living together agai_ith Silin, as comrades in the same town. He would probably have lost interes_n him, as there was little in common between them, but he wrote him lon_etters gladly with the fullest confidence. With others, on paper at any rate,
he was not himself, but this never happened when writing to Silin. The latte_as not a master in the art of writing, and responded only in short clums_entences, but Nejdanov had no need of lengthy replies; he knew quite wel_hat his friend swallowed every word of his, as the dust in the road swallow_ach drop of rain, that he would keep his secrets sacredly, and that in hi_opeless solitude he had no other interests but his, Nejdanov's, interests. H_ad never told anyone of his relation with Silin, a relation that was ver_ear to him.
"Well, my dear friend, my pure-hearted Vladimir!" Thus he wrote to him; h_lways called him pure-hearted, and not without good cause. "Congratulate me;
I have fallen upon green pasture, and can rest awhile and gather strength. _m living in the house of a rich statesman, Sipiagin, as tutor to his littl_on; I eat well (have never eaten so well in my life!), sleep well, and wande_bout the beautiful country—but, above all, I have for a time crept out fro_nder the wing of my St. Petersburg friends. At first it was horribly boring,
but I feel a bit better now. I shall soon have to go into harness again, tha_s, put up with the consequences of what I have undertaken (the reason I wa_llowed to come here). For a time, at any rate, I can enjoy the delights of _urely animal existence, expand in the waist, and write verses if the moo_eizes me. I will give you my observations another time. The estate seems t_e well managed on the whole, with the exception, perhaps, of the factory,
which is not quite right; some of the peasants are unapproachable, and th_ired servants have servile faces—but we can talk about these things later on.
My host and hostess are courteous, liberal- minded people; the master is fo_ver condescending, and bursts out from time to time in torrents of eloquence,
a most highly cultured person! His lady, a picturesque beauty, who has all he_its about her, keeps such a close watch on one, and is so soft! I shoul_hink she has not a bone in her body! I am rather afraid of her, you know wha_ort of a ladies' man I make! There are neighbours—but uninteresting ones;
then there is an old lady in the house who makes me feel uncomfortable… .
Above all, I am interested in a certain young lady, but whether she is _elative or simply a companion here the Lord only knows! I have scarcel_xchanged a couple of words with her, but I feel that we are birds of _eather… "
Here followed a description of Mariana's personal appearance and of all he_abits; then he continued:
"That she is unhappy, proud, ambitious, reserved, but above all unhappy, _ave not the smallest doubt. But why she is unhappy, I have as yet failed t_iscover. That she has an upright nature is quite evident, but whether she i_ood-natured or not remains to be seen. Are there really any good-nature_omen other than stupid ones? Is goodness essential? However, I know littl_bout women. The lady of the house does not like her, and I believe it i_utual on either side… . But which of them is in the right is difficult t_ay. I think that the mistress is probably in the wrong … because she is s_wfully polite to her; the other's brows twitch nervously when she is speakin_o her patroness. She is a most highly-strong individual, like myself, and i_ust as easily upset as I am, although perhaps not in the same way.
"When all this can be disentangled, I will write to you again.
"She hardly ever speaks to me, as I have already told you, but in the fe_ords she has addressed to me (always rather sudden and unexpected) there wa_ ring of rough sincerity which I liked. By the way, how long is that relativ_f yours going to bore you to death? When is he going to die?
"Have you read the article in the "European Messenger" about the lates_mpostors in the province of Orenburg? It happened in 1834, my dear! I don'_ike the journal, and the writer of the article is a conservative, but th_hing is interesting and calculated to give one ideas…