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Chapter 8

  • 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—
  • Sipiagin himself.
  • 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…