A vital question; or, What is to be done?/Part Second

A vital question; or, What is to be done?  (1886)  by Nikolay Chernyshevsky, translated by Nathan Haskell Dole and Simon S. Skidelsky
Part Second.

PART SECOND.

FIRST LOVE, AND LEGAL MARRIAGE.

I.

It is well known how situations like the above would end in former times: a fine young girl, belonging to a low family, an insignificant man who is to become her husband under compulsion, who is detestable to her, who when left to himself, being already a mean man, would constantly grow meaner, but joined to her, comes under her influence, and little by little begins to resemble a man, of no especial account, to be sure, not very good, but, on the other hand, not very bad. The girl at first declares that she will not marry him; but gradually getting accustomed to having him under her command, and being convinced that out of two such evils as such a husband and such a family as her own, the husband would be the less evil, makes her admirer happy. At first it is detestable to her when she finds that she can make her husband happy without loving him; but her husband is obedient,—"patience makes love,"—and she becomes an ordinary fine lady, that is, a women who, excellent naturally, gets reconciled to meanness, and living on the earth only vegetates (literally, obscures the heaven with smoke). Such used to be the way, in old times, with nice young girls, such used to be the way with nice young men, all of whom became excellent people, but lived on earth in such a way as to obscure the heaven. Such used to be the way in former times, because excellent people were very few; the harvest of them, apparently, was so small in old times that there was not one to a ten-acre lot,[1] and no one can live a century as a single man or a single woman without fading away! And thus they either used to fade away or reconcile themselves to meanness.

But nowadays it happens more and more frequently that things take a different turn: respectable people get acquainted with each other. Yes, and how can this help happening more and more often when the number of respectable people increases with every new year? And, in time, this will be a very ordinary occurrence, and, indeed, the time will come when nothing else will happen, because all people will be decent. Then it will be very good!

Good it was for Viérotchka also. Therefore, with her permission, I will relate to you the story of her life, since, so far as I know, she is one of the first women whose life was established in this good way. First occurrences have a historical interest. The first swallow is regarded with great interest by the natives of the North.

The occurrences by means of which Viérotchka's life began to improve were somewhat in this order: It was necessary to get Viérotchka's little brother ready for the gymnasium. Her father asked his colleagues if they knew of a cheap tutor. One of his colleagues recommended to him the medical student Lopukhóf.

Lopukhóf gave five or six lessons to his new pupil before he and Viérotchka met. He used to sit with Feódor in one room of the apartment, she in another, in her own room. It was getting time for the examinations at the medical school, and so he changed the lesson hours from morning till the evening, because in the morning he had to do his own studying, and when it came evening, he found the whole family at tea.

On the sofa were sitting his acquaintances,—the father, the mother of the pupil; behind the mother, on a chair, the pupil was sitting, and somewhat farther, a person whom he did not know, a tall, well-proportioned young girl, rather slender, with black hair,—"thick, handsome hair!"—with black eyes—"her eyes are handsome, yes, very handsome"—with the Southern type of face—"as though she were a Malo-Russian, or rather even a Caucasian type; that's nothing, a very handsome face, but somewhat reserved; but that's not Southern. Her health is good; there would not be as many of us doctors if people were like her. Yes, healthy red cheeks and a good broad chest, she'll never make the acquaintance of the stethoscope. When she enters society she will create a great effect. However, it does not interest me."

And she looked up at the tutor as he came in. The student was no longer young, a man of medium size or possibly taller than the average, with dark auburn hair, with regular and even handsome features, with a proud and courageous expression; "not bad-looking; he must be kind, but he's too solemn."

She did not add to her thoughts the epilogue, "it does not interest me," because it did not occur to her to ask herself whether she would be interested in him or not. Why should she be, when Feódor told her so much about him that she was weary of hearing? "He is kind, sister, but he is not sociable. And I told him, sister, that you were a beauty, and, sister, he said, 'What of that?' And I told him, sister, 'that everybody falls in love with pretty girls'; and he said, 'All stupid people fall in love'; and I said 'Don't you like them?' and he said, 'I have no time.' And, sister, I said to him, 'Don't you want to get acquainted with Viérotchka?' and he said, 'I have a good many acquaintances beside her.'"

All this Feódor rattled off immediately after the first lesson, and afterwards he kept saying much the same thing with various additions: "And I told him to-day, sister, that 'everybody looks at you whenever you go anywhere,' and, sister, he said, 'Well, that's good'; and I said to him, 'Don't you want to see her?' and he said, 'I shall have time enough to see her.'" And then again: "I told him, sister, 'what little hands you had,' and, sister, he said, 'You want to chatter; haven't you got anything better to chatter about?'"

And the tutor learned from Feódor everything that was worth knowing about his sister; he tried to stop Feódor's chattering about family affairs, but how can you stop a nine-year-old child from chattering to you about everything unless you threaten him? After he has said five words you succeed in stopping him, but then it is too late; because children begin without any preface, getting the very essence of the thing; and among all sorts of disclosures relating to his family affairs the tutor heard such disjointed sentences as these: "My sister is going to marry a rich man"; "and mámenka says that the bridegroom is a stupid"; "and how mámenka flatters him"; "and mámenka says, 'sister caught him cute'"; "and mámenka says, 'I am cute, but Viérotchka is cuter'"; "and mámenka says, 'we are going to fire the bridegroom's mother out of the house'"; and so forth.

Naturally, when the young people got such ideas of each other, they had no great desire to become acquainted. However, so far, we know only this much: that it was natural on Viérotchka's part; she had not reached that stage of development that she had any desire of "defeating savages," or of "taming such a bear"; nay, she was still far from it; she was glad that she was left in peace; she was like a crushed and tortured man, who has the good fortune to fall in such a way that the broken arm is undisturbed and the pain in the side is not felt, and who fears to move lest the pain in all his joints should return. Why should she care to form new acquaintances, and especially with young men?

Yes, such is Viérotchka. Nu! but he? He is like a savage, to judge him by Feódor's description, and his head is full of books and anatomical preparations, such as fill the soul of a medical student with the keenest delight and furnish him the richest pabulum. Or perhaps Feódor misrepresented him?


II.

No, Feódor did not misrepresent him; Lopukhóf was in fact a student whose head was full of books—what books we shall learn from Marya Alekséyevna's bibliographical investigations—and with anatomical preparations; for unless a man fills his head with anatomical preparations, he cannot become a professor, and that was Lopukhóf's ambition. But, as we see, if we depend upon Feódor's descriptions of Viérotchka made for Lopukhóf's benefit, Lopukhóf did not learn very accurately about her, and for the same reason we must correct Feódor's description of his teacher if we would know Lopukhóf better.

As regarded pecuniary matters Lopukhóf belonged to that very small minority of special medical students who are not supported by government, and yet who just escape starvation and freezing.[2] How and in what way the great majority of them live is known, of course, only to God, not to mortals. But our story does not intend to deal with people who are in need of victuals, and therefore it will devote only two or three words to the period in Lopukhóf's life when he suffered such hardships.

And it was not very long that he was in such a condition,—only three years, and even less. Before he entered the medical school he had plenty of food. His father, a meshchanín (commoner) of the town of Riazan, lived in the style of the meshchanín, comfortably; that is, his family had shchi (cabbage soup) and meat not on Sundays only, and even had tea every day. He was able to keep his son at the gymnasium after a fashion; but, after his son reached the age of fifteen, he made it easier for him by doing some teaching. The father's means were not sufficient for the support of his son in Petersburg; however, during the first two years Lopukhóf received from home the sum of thirty-five rubles a year, and he obtained almost as much more by copying papers as unattached clerk in one of the districts of the Vuiborgsky ward. It was only during this time that he was hard up; and that was his own fault. He was accepted as a governmental scholar, but he managed to quarrel with some one and was compelled to take to his own fodder. When he was in the third class, his affairs began to improve; the assistant district supervisor engaged him as a private tutor; then he found other pupils, and now for two years he has not been in need; for a year and more he has been living in one house, not in one, but in two different rooms; and that is proof that he is not poor. He has for a room-mate another student as lucky as himself. His name is Kirsánof. They are the closest friends. Both of them were used from early life to push their own way, without depending upon others, and in other respects there was a great resemblance between them; so that if one were to meet either of them separately, they would both seem like people of the same character; and when they were seen together, it was observable that though both of them were very reliable and honest people, Lopukhóf was rather more reserved, while his chum was more effusive. So far, we have seen only Lopukhóf; Kirsánof will appear later on. Apart from Kirsánof it may be remarked in regard to Lopukhóf exactly the same thing that we shall have to remark about Kirsánof. For instance, Lopukhóf was at the present time occupied more than with anything else with the question how to establish his life after his graduation, which would occur now in a few months, and the same is true of Kirsánof; and both hid the same plan for the future.

Lopukhóf knew for a certainty that he was going to be a surgeon in one of the army hospitals of Petersburg, and this is looked upon as a great piece of good fortune; and that he was going to get a professorship in the medical school. He had no desire to practise.

It is a very peculiar thing that during the past ten years there has appeared among some of the best of the medical students a resolution not to practise medicine after graduation, though that is the only way by which a medical man can gain a livelihood; at the first opportunity they give up medicine for some of its subsidiary sciences,—physiology, chemistry, or something of the sort. And every one of these young men knows that if they practised until they were thirty years old, they might gain a reputation; at thirty-five, a competency for life; and at forty-five, wealth.

But they argue in a different way: You see, don't you, that medicine is in such a state of infancy that one should not as yet try to cure, but to collect the materials; so that the doctors of the future may know how to cure. And here for the advantage of the well-beloved science—they are great hands to curse medicine; but, nevertheless, they are devoting all their energies for its advantage—they refuse riches, they refuse pleasure, for the sake of sitting in the hospitals, and they are making, don't you know, observations that are interesting to science: they cut up frogs; they dissect a hundred subjects every year; and at the first chance they establish chemical laboratories. With what severity they follow out this lofty resolution depends, of course, on the way in which their domestic life is established. If it is not necessary for those dependent upon them, they do not even begin to practise, and they are willing to live almost in poverty; but if their domestic circumstances compel them to do so, they practise, but only just so long as it is necessary to, for their family; that is, on a very limited scale, and they cure only those people who are really sick, and who can really be cured by the present pitiful state of the science; that is, the sick who bring them no advantage at all. To this class Lopukhóf and Kirsánof belonged. They expected to graduate this year, and they have announced that they will take, or, as they say at the medical school, "do," their examinations merely for the degree of M. D. They have both been hard at work on their medical theses, and they have made way with a huge quantity of frogs; both have adopted as a specialty the nervous system, and properly speaking they were working in co-operation; but for the formal dissertation the work was divided: one has gathered for his materials the facts that they both observed on one question, the other did the same thing for another.

However, it is now time to speak about Lopukhóf alone. There was a time when he drank too much; this happened when he was without tea, and sometimes even without boots. Such circumstances are extremely conducive to drinking, not only as regards willingness, but also possibility; to buy drink is cheaper than to buy food and clothes. But this habit of drinking arose from grief at intolerable poverty, and nothing more. Now, there was not to be found a man who led a sterner life, and not in regard to wine alone. In other days Lopukhóf had a good many love adventures: once, for example, it happened that he fell in love with a foreign ballet dancer. What was to be done? He thought the matter over, and went to call upon her.

"What do you want?"

"I was sent by Count So-and-so with a note." His student's uniform was easily mistaken by the servant to be that of a clerk or some officer's denshchik.

"Give me the note. Will you wait for an answer?"

"The count told me to wait." The servant returned in surprise.

"She bade me ask you in."

"Here he is! here he is! This is the man who shouts so loud for me that I can distinguish his voice from the green-room. How many times have you been carried off to the police station for such a demonstration in my honor?"

"Twice."

"That isn't much. Well, why are you here?"

"To see you!"

"Capital! What else?"

"I do not know. What would you like?"

"Well I know what I would like. I would like some breakfast. You see the things are on the table. Sit down with me." Another plate was placed on the table. She laughed at him; he laughed at himself. "He is young, not bad looking, not stupid, and besides it's a novelty. Why not have some fun out of him?" She fooled him about two weeks, and then she said, "Get thee hence."

"Well, that is just what I wanted to do, but I did not know how."

"Then we will part good friends?" They gave each other a parting kiss, and that was the end of it. But this was some time before, three years ago, and now it is two years since he has renounced all such follies.

Besides his comrades and two or three professors, who recognized in him a good worker in the cause of science, his only acquaintances were in the families where he gave lessons; but he did not know the families at all. He avoided familiarity as he would fire, and he held proudly aloof from all the members of these families, except the little boys and girls who were his pupils.


III.

And so Lopukhóf entered the room, saw the company sitting at the tea-table, and in their number was Viérotchka; nu! of course the company, including also Viérotchka, saw that the tutor entered the room. "Please take a seat," said Marya Alekséyevna.—Matrióna, bring another glass."

"If it is meant for me, then I thank you. I don't drink tea."

"Matrióna, no matter about the glass. (A well-bred young man!)—Why shouldn't you drink some? You ought to drink some!"

He looked at Marya Alekséyevna and at Viérotchka willingly, as it were; and maybe it was really willingly. Maybe he noticed that she slightly shrugged her shoulders. "And he must have seen that I blushed!"

"Thank you! I drink tea only at home."

"After all, he is not such a savage; he came in, and he bowed easily and gracefully." Such was the observation made at one end of the table.

"After all, if she is a trifle spoiled, then at least she blushes for her mother's meanness," was the observation at the other end of the table.

But Feódor soon finished his tea and went to take his lesson. The most important result of the evening was that Marya Alekséyevna formed a most favorable opinion of the tutor, because she saw that her sugarbowl would, in all probability, not suffer great loss by changing the hour of the lessons from morning to evening.

Two days later the teacher again found the family at table, and again he refused to take tea, and thus he absolutely calmed Marya Alekséyevna's fears. But this time he saw at the table a new face,—an officer, upon whom Marya Alekséyevna was assiduously fawning.

"Ah, the bridegroom!"

But the bridegroom, owing to the importance of his uniform and family, felt that it was incumbent upon him not simply to look at the tutor, but after looking at him, to measure him from head to foot with the impertinent steady stare which is adopted in fashionable society. But he had no sooner taken his measure than he began to feel that the tutor was likewise taking his measure, and, even worse, was looking straight into his eyes, and so keenly that instead of keeping up the stare the bridegroom said:—

"Your work must be hard, Monsieur Lopukhóf,—I mean your medical work."

"Yes, it is;" and he continues to look him straight in the eyes.

The bridegroom was conscious that he was fumbling with his left hand at the three upper buttons of his uniform, but he did not know the reason. Nu! when the awkwardness gets as far as the buttons, there is no other salvation than to make haste to drink his tea, and ask Marya Alekséyevna for some more.

"Your uniform, if I am not mistaken, belong to such and such a regiment?"

"Yes, I serve in that regiment," is Mikhaïl Ivanuitch's reply.

"Have you been long in the service?"

"Nine years."

"Did you begin in that regiment?"

"I did."

"Have you a company or not?"

"No, I have none as yet. (He cross-examines me as though I were a private!)"

"Do you expect to get one soon?"

"Not very soon."

"Hm!"

The tutor was satisfied, and ceased his examination, though he still looked straight into the imaginary private's eyes.

"And yet,—and yet," thinks Viérotchka; and what does she mean by "and yet"? Finally she makes up her mind what she means by "and yet." "And yet he conducts himself just as Serge did when he came with the kind Julie. How is he a savage? Why does he speak so strangely about girls? 'that pretty girls are loved only by stupid people?' And—and—" (why does she repeat "and"? At last she knows!) "and why didn't he want to know anything about me? why did he say that it was not interesting?"

"Viérotchka, will you play something on the piano for Mikhaïl Ivanuitch and I," said Marya Alekséyevna, when Viérotchka had set down her second cup.

"Certainly."

"And if you would sing something," adds Mikhaïl Ivanuitch, in a flattering tone.

"Certainly."

"This 'certainly' sounded as though she had said, 'I am ready to do anything to get rid of you,'" thinks the tutor. And now he had been sitting down with them fully five minutes; and though he had not been looking at her, yet he knows that she has not looked once at the bridegroom, except when she answered him just now. And even now she looks at him as though she were looking at her father and mother,—coolly, and without the least trace of affection. "There must be something quite different from what Feódor told me. However, more than anything else she must be in reality a proud, calculating girl, who wants to enter the upper ten in order to rule and shine. It is disagreeable to her that she cannot find a better bridegroom for that purpose. But, despising the bridegroom, she yet accepts his hand because there is no other hand to lead her where she wants to go. Well, after all, this is rather interesting."

"Feódor, hurry up and finish your tea," remarked the mother.

"Don't hurry him, Marya Alekséyevna; I want to listen, if Viéra Pavlovna will allow me."

Viérotchka picked up the first music that came to hand, without looking at what it was, opened it at haphazard, and began to play mechanically; no matter, only so as to get done with it the sooner. But the piece happened to be of a good order; it was from an excellent opera, and soon the girl's playing grew animated. After she was done she started to get up.

"But you promised to sing, Viéra Pavlovna; if I were there, I would ask you to sing something from Rigoletto." (This winter "La donna é mobile" was the fashionable aria.)

"If you like."

Viérotchka sang "La donna é mobile"; then she got up and went to her room.

"No, she is not a heartless, cold girl without any soul; this is interesting."

"Isn't that good?" asked Mikhaïl Ivanuitch, in a simple voice, without this time taking the tutor's measure. ("There is no need of being in strained relations with people who can examine privates. Why not speak without any pretentiousness so as not to get his ill will?")

"Yes, very good."

"Do you understand music?"

"Just a little."

"Are you a musician?"

"Somewhat."

Marya Alekséyevna overheard this talk, and a happy thought struck her.

"What do you play on, Dmitri Sergéitch?" she asked.

"The piano."

"May we ask you to give us a tune?"

"Very willingly."

He played a certain piece. He played passably—not badly at all.

After he had finished the lesson, Marya Alekséyevna came to him and said that they were going to have a little party the next evening; that it was her daughter's birthday, and asked him to come round.

Of course, there is always a dearth of young men, according to the style of all such parties; but no matter. He looked closer at the girl: with her or about her there is something interesting.

"I thank you heartily."

But the tutor was mistaken; Mary Alekséyevna had something more important in view than in finding a partner for her dancing girls.

Reader, you of course have anticipated that on this evening some explanation would take place; that Viérotchka and Lopukhóf will fall in love with each other?

Of course they will!


IV.

Marya Alekséyevna wanted to give a great party on Viérotchka's birthday, but Viérotchka begged to have no guests invited: the one wanted to show off the bridegroom; the other found such an exhibition distasteful. They compromised by having the smallest possible party, inviting only a few of their most intimate friends. They invited Pavel Konstantinuitch's colleagues,—those, of course, who had been longer in the service and were higher in position than himself,—two of Marya Alekséyevna's friends, three young girls who were more intimate with Viérotchka than any others.

As Lopukhóf looked over the assembling guests, he noticed that there was no lack of partners (kavalyer); every one of the young girls had a young man, either as candidate for bridegroom or bridegroom already. Therefore Lopukhóf was not invited in the capacity of a partner; why, then? As he thought the matter over he remembered that his playing on the piano preceded his invitation. Of course he was invited so as to save expense—to take the place of an accompanist (tapper). "All right," he thought. "Excuse me, Marya Alekséyevna," and he went to Pavel Konstantinuitch.

"How now, Pavel Konstantinuitch; it's time to have a game of cards. You see it's rather tiresome for us old people!"

"What do you want to play?"

"Anything."

Soon a party was made up, and Lopukhóf sat down to play. The medical school on Vuiborgskaïa Street is a classical establishment for card-playing. It is not a rare occurrence in some of the rooms—that is, in the governmental students' apartments—for a game of cards to be kept up for a day and a half without stopping. It must be admitted that the sums that change hands at the students' card-tables are much smaller than those at the English Club; but the standard of the gamester's art is much higher. Even Lopukhóf used to play a great deal in his day; that is, when he had no money.

"Mesdames, what shall we do? We must play by cutting in, that's a fact; but there'll be only seven of us left. Either a gentleman or a lady will be lacking for the quadrille."

The first rubber was drawing to an end, when one of the girls, the liveliest of all, came flying up to Lopukhóf:—

"Monsieur Lopukhóf, you must dance."

"On one condition," he said, rising and bowing.

"What?"

"That you give me the first quadrille."

"Akh! Bozhe moï! I am engaged for the first one! You are welcome to the next, though."

Lopukhóf again made a profound bow. Two of the gentlemen took their turn in cutting in. At the third quadrille Lopukhóf asked Viérotchka. The first she had danced with Mikhaïl Ivanuitch; the second he danced with the lively girl.

Lopukhóf had been watching Viérotchka, and was now absolutely convinced of the mistake in his former idea of her being a heartless girl, coolly marrying for money a man whom she despised. He saw before him an ordinary young girl, who dances and laughs with her whole soul. Yes, to Viérotchka's shame be it said that she was an ordinary girl who loved to dance. At first she set her face firmly against the party; but when the party was arranged—small, without any show, and consequently not a trial to her—even she, in a way that she would never have believed, forgot her melancholy. At her time of life one does not like to lie melancholy; but liveliness and gayety are so natural that the least chance of self-forgetfulness brings also, for a time, forgetfulness of sorrow. Lopukhóf was now inclined in her favor, but as yet there were a good many things not clear to him.

He was getting interested in Viérotchka's anomalous position.

"Monsieur Lopukhóf, I never expected to see you dancing," she began.

"Why not? Is it so hard to dance?"

"For most people certainly it is not; but for you, why—yes—of course it is."

"Why for me?"

"Because I know your secret—yours and Feódor's; you despise women!"

"Feódor did not in the least understand my secret. I don't despise women, but I avoid them; and do you know why? I have a bride,—a very jealous one,—who, in order to compel me to avoid them, told me their secret."

"You have a bride?"

"Yes!"

"How surprising! A student, and already engaged! Is she pretty? Are you in love with her?"

"Yes, she is a beauty, and I love her very dearly."

"Is she a brunetka or a blondinka?"

"I cannot tell you that; it is a secret!"

"Well, God be with her, if it is a secret! But what was the secret about women that she revealed to you that makes you avoid their society'?"

"She saw that I did not like to be in a melancholy state of mind, and she whispered in my ear such a secret about them, that I cannot see a woman without getting into a melancholy mood, and so I avoid women."

"You cannot see a woman without getting into a melancholy mood? At all events, you are a master in the art of making compliments."

"What else can I say? To pity is the same thing as being in a melancholy state of mind."

"Do we need pity so much as all that?"

"Yes; aren't you a woman? I have only to repeat to you your dearest wish, and you will agree with me. It is the universal desire of all women."

"Do tell me, tell me!"

"It is this: 'Akh! how I should like to be a man!' I never met a woman who did not secretly wish this with all her heart. And in the majority of cases, it is not necessary to search for it; it is expressed spontaneously without any need of drawing it out. If a woman has any trouble whatsoever, you will soon hear something like this: 'We are poor miserable creatures, we women!' or, 'Men are so different from women!' or even without any circumlocution, 'Akh! why was I not a man?'"

Viérotchka smiled. "True; every woman has said that."

"And now you see how women are to be pitied; for if their dearest wish were to be fulfilled, there would not be any women in the world!"

"Yes, it seems as if it were so," said Viérotchka.

"It is exactly the same way; if the eager desires of every poor man were fulfilled, there would not be a single poor man in the world. Don't you see how pitiable women are? They are just as much to be pitied as the poor are. Who likes to see poor people? Just the same way, it is painful for me to see women since I have learned their secret. And it was revealed to me by my jealous bride on the very day of our engagement. Till that time I was very fond of being in the society of women. After that, it was snatched away from me. My bride cured me."

"Your bride must be a kind and sensible young lady; yes, we women are pitiable creatures, we are poor," said Viérotchka; "but who is your bride? You speak so mysteriously!"

"That is one of my secrets which Feódor does not tell you. I entirely share the wish of the poor that there should not be any in existence, and some time this wish is going to be realized; sooner or later we shall be able to lay out our lives in such a way that there'll be no poor; but—"

"What, no more poor?" interrupted Viérotchka. "I myself have thought that the time might come when there would not be any more poverty; but how it would come about I could not tell; tell me how!"

"I myself cannot tell this; only my bride can tell. I am alone here. I can only say this much: that she is looking out for that, and she is very strong; she is stronger than any one else in the world. But let us not talk about her, but about women. I perfectly agree with the wish of the poor that there should not be any more poor, and my bride is going to bring this about. But I do not agree with the wish of women that there shouldn't be more women in the world, because this wish cannot be realized; and I never agree with what cannot be realized. But I have a different kind of a wish: I should like all women to get acquainted with my bride; she takes as much care of them as she does of everything else. If they would make friends with her, I should have no reason to pity them and their wish 'Akh, why wasn't I born a man!' would vanish; for if women get acquainted with her, then they would not be worse off than men are."

"Monsieur Lopukhóf! one more quadrille, without fail!"

"I shall be very much pleased." He pressed her hand as calmly and gravely as though he were an old friend, or she his comrade. "Which one?"

"The last one."

"Very well."

Marya Alekséyevna several times passed near them while they were dancing the quadrille.

What would Marya Alekséyevna have thought had she heard this conversation? We who have heard every word of it from beginning to end, all of us will say that such a conversation during a quadrille is very unnatural.

The last quadrille came.

"We spoke all the time about myself," said Lopukhóf; "and that is very bad manners on my part, to be speaking all the time about myself. Now I want to make up for my impoliteness by speaking about you, Viéra Pavlovna. Did you know that I had a far worse opinion of you than you did of me. And now—well, we'll speak about this afterwards. Now first of all, there is one question that I cannot answer; please answer it for me. Will your marriage take place soon?"

"Never!"

"I thought so, for the last three hours,—ever since I left the card-table to come in here. But why is he considered to be your bridegroom?"

"Why is he considered to be my bridegroom? why, indeed? There's one reason I cannot tell you; it is too hard for me: but there's another I can. I pity him; he loves me so! You will say, 'I must tell him frankly what I think about our marriage'; I did tell him, but he replied, 'Don't speak; it kills me; be silent.'"

"That is the second reason; but the first one which you find hard to tell me, I can tell you; it's because your position in your family is terrible."

"At the present time it is tolerable. Now no one torments me; they are waiting for me to decide and they leave me almost entirely alone."

"But this may not last very long; they will begin to bring pressure upon you; what then?"

"Nothing. I have thought about it and made up my mind what to do; I shall not stay here any longer; I can be an actress. What an enviable life it is! Liberty! Liberty!"

"And applause."

"Yes; that's also pleasant, but the main thing is liberty; to do what I please; to live as I please, not asking anybody for anything, not be dependent on anybody; that's the way I want to live!"

"That is true, that is good! Now I want to ask you something: I will find out how this can be done, to whom application must be made—shall I?"

"Thank you." Viérotchka pressed his hand. "Do it very soon; I want to tear myself away as quick as I can from this miserable, intolerable, and degrading situation. I say, 'I am calm, I can bear it,' but is it so in reality? don't I see what is done with my good name? don't I know what all those who are here think of me? They say, 'She's a schemer, she's cunning, she wants to be rich, she wants to get into fine society, to shine; she will keep her husband under the shoe, twist him around her little finger, deceive him.' Don't I know that they think this about me? I don't want to live so, no indeed!" Suddenly she fell into deep thought, "Don't laugh because I said, 'I pity him—he loves me so.'"

"Does he love you? does he look at you the same way that I do or not? has he such a look?"

"Your eyes are frank, honest. No; your look does not offend me."

"You see, Viéra Pavlovna, it is because—but no matter. Does he look so?"

Viérotchka blushed and made no reply.

"Then he does not love you. That is not love, Viéra Pavlovna."

"But—" Viérotchka did not finish her sentence, but stopped.

"You were going to say, 'What is it, then, if it is not love?' Let that go; but you yourself say that is not love. Whom do you love best of all? I am not speaking of this kind of love—but of your relations, your friends."

"It seems to me, no one in particular, none of them very much; but no, not long ago, I met a very peculiar woman. She spoke very badly to me, called herself very hard names; she forbade me to keep up my acquaintance with her; we met in a very extraordinary way; she said that if ever I found myself in such need that I was in danger of dying, then only I might come to her, but not otherwise; I loved her very much."

"Would you want her to do anything for you that would be disagreeable or injurious for her?"

Viérotchka smiled. "But how could it be so?"

"But no; now imagine that you were very, very much in need of her help, and that she said to you, 'If I do this for you, it would torment me,' would you repeat your request, would you insist on it?"

"I would sooner die."

"Now you just told me that you loved her. But this love is only feeling, not a passion. And what is love—passion! and how can you distinguish passion from simple feeling?—by its strength. Consequently, if when one is moved by simple feeling, which is weak, very weak compared to passion, love places you in such relations to a man that you say, 'I would rather die than be the cause of torment to him.' If a simple feeling speaks so, what will passion say which is a thousand-fold stronger? It will say, 'I will sooner die than—not ask, not demand—but even admit that any man should do anything for me except what is agreeable to himself; I would sooner die than admit the possibility of his doing anything for my sake under compulsion or at inconvenience to himself.' Such a passion, speaking this way, is love. But passion that speaks otherwise is passion and not love. I am going home now; I have told you everything, Viéra Pavlovna."

Viérotchka pressed his hand. "Au revoir,[3] but why don't you congratulate me? to-day is my birthday."

Lopukhóf looked at her. "Maybe, maybe! if you have not made this mistake, then I am glad."


V.

"How soon this came, how unexpected," thinks Viérotchka alone in her room at the close of the evening. "We spoke for the first time, and yet we became such good friends; half an hour before not to know each other, and in an hour's time to become such good friends, how strange!"

No; it is not strange at all, Viérotchka. People like Lopukhóf have magical words, which attract to them every abused and persecuted creature. It is their "bride" that whispers such words into their ears. But here is something that is indeed strange, Viérotchka,—but not for you and me,—that you are so calm. Here people think that love is an exciting feeling, and you will fall asleep as gently as a child, and you will be neither frightened nor disturbed by dreams; you may dream of happy childish games, forfeits, tag, or maybe dances, also gay and unconcerned. It seems strange to some people, but you do not know that it is strange, and I know that it is not strange. Agitation in love does not point to love; agitation in it is something that should not exist, for love in itself is joyous and unconcerned.

"How strange this is," thinks Viérotchka; "here I myself, again and again have thought and felt all that he said about the poor and about women and how one should love. Where could I have got my ideas, or was it in the books which I have read? No; there is nothing of the sort there. What I found in books was either doubts or reservations, and everything like this seemed extraordinary, incredible, like ideals that are good but are impossible to be realized; and all this seems to me so simple, simpler than anything else, a perfectly ordinary thing, it cannot help being, it must be so, surely, more surely than anything else. And I used to think that those were the best books. Now here is George Sand—such a good and noble woman!—and yet, she thinks that these ideas are only visionary. And our own writers—but no; our writers have nothing of the kind at all. Or take Dickens; he has something of the sort, but it seems as though he did not hope for it at all, as though he only wished that it might be, for he is kind-hearted, but he is sure that it cannot be. But how is it that they don't know that this cannot help being, that this state of things must actually come about, that it will be accomplished without fail, that no one will be poor or unfortunate? But don't they say this? No; they only feel pity, but they think that in reality things will remain as they are at present, possibly a trifle better, but not much. And these thoughts of mine—they don't express them; if they did, I should have known that kind and sensible people also think so. But here I have been imagining that it is only I who had such thoughts; it's because I am a dull young girl. How absurd to think that besides my stupid self no one has had such thoughts, that no one else expects this new order of things. But he says that his 'bride' explains to every one who loves her that all these things will come about as it seems to me they will, and she explains it to them so plainly that all of them have begun to strive to have it realized as soon as possible. What a sensible 'bride' he has! but who is she? I must find out, surely I shall find out! Yes; it will be a good thing when there shall be no more poor; people won't oppress each other then; all will be joyous, kind, and happy!"

And hereupon Viérotchka fell asleep, and slept soundly, and saw nothing in her dreams.

No, Viérotchka, it is not strange that you have thought over and taken all this to heart; you who are a simple-hearted young girl, and have not even heard the names of those men who have begun to teach this and prove that this must be so, that this must come about without fail, that this cannot help being; it is not strange that you have understood and taken to heart the thoughts which your books have failed to present plainly to you. Your books were written by men who were only beginning to learn these ideas when they were only ideas; these ideas seemed wonderful and fascinating and—nothing more. Now, Viérotchka, these ideas are plainly seen to be realizable; and other books are written by other people, who find that these ideas are excellent, that there is nothing wonderful in them; and, Viérotchka, these ideas are floating in the air like a perfume from the fields in flower-time; they penetrate everywhere; you have heard them even from your tipsy mother, who told you that it was necessary to live and why it was necessary to live by deceit and theft; she wanted to speak against your ideas, but she herself gave them greater development; you heard them from the cynical, ruined French girl, who drags her lover after her like a chambermaid, does whatever she pleases with him, yet as soon as she comes to her senses, she finds that she has no will of her own, that she must please, compel herself—though it is very hard for her—and yet, it would seem, would it not, that her life with the kind, refined, and complaisant Sergei is easy and pleasant? and yet she says: "Even for me, bad woman as I am, such relations are detestable." Nowadays it is not difficult to adopt such ideas as you have. But others do not take them to heart as you have. This is good, but there is nothing strange about it. Is there anything strange in the fact that you want to be free and happy? Now such a desire—God knows what a head-splitting discovery this is; God knows what a step forward it is towards heroism!

But here is something strange, Viérotchka, that there are some people who have no such desire, who have other desires, and it may probably seem strange to such people that on the first evening of your love, you fell asleep with such thoughts; that from the thought of yourself, of your sweetheart, of your love, you turned to the thoughts that all people must be happy, and that it is necessary to bring about its accomplishment as soon as possible. And do you not know that it is strange, and I do know that it is not strange, that it is both natural and human. "I feel joy and happiness; consequently, I want all people to feel joyful and happy." But humanely speaking, both thoughts are the same. You are a good girl; you are not a stupid girl; but excuse me if I do not find anything wonderful in you; maybe half the girls whom I have known and whom I know, and maybe more than half—I have not counted them; they are too many to count—are not worse than you, and some of them are even better. Excuse me.

It seems to Lopukhóf that you are a wonderful girl. So it is; but it is not wonderful that it seems to him so, because he has fallen in love with you! And there is nothing wonderful in the fact that he loves you; it is quite possible to love you; and if he loves you, then it must seem to him that you are wonderful.


VI.

During the time of the first quadrille Marya Alekséyevna was continually dogging her daughter and the tutor; but during the second quadrille she did not show herself near them, but was busy in her capacity as hostess in the preparation of the supper. After her preparations were made she asked for the tutor, but the tutor was gone.

Two days later the tutor came to give his lesson. The samovar (tea-urn) was placed on the table, and Matrióna came to call Feódor. While he was giving the boy his lesson, he was interrupted by Marya Alekséyevna entering the room. The tutor preferred to remain in his place, because it was not his custom to drink tea with them, and besides, he was going to look over Feódor's copy-book; but Marya Alekséyevna asked him to come in because she wanted to have a talk with him; so he went and sat down at the tea-table.

Marya Alekséyevna began to ask him about Feódor's capacity, about the best gymnasium for him, and whether it would not be better to place the boy in the gymnasium boarding-house. These questions were very natural, but were they not made too soon? During this conversation she so sincerely and politely begged the tutor to take tea with them, that Lopukhóf concluded to break his rule; he took the glass. Viérotchka did not make her appearance for some time. At last she came in; she and the tutor bowed to each other as though there were nothing between them, and Marya Alekséyevna continued to speak about Feódor; then abruptly she turned the conversation to the tutor himself. She asked him who he was, what he was, what relations he had, whether they were rich, how he lived, and how he intended to live. The tutor answered laconically and indefinitely, that he had relatives, that they lived in the provinces, that they were not very well-to-do, that he supported himself by giving lessons, that he intended to practise medicine in Petersburg; in a word, Marya Alekséyevna gained very little information from what he said. Determining to break through his reserve, Marya Alekséyevna went at the matter more directly.

"Now you say that you intend to practise medicine here, and, thank God, the city doctors are able to make a living! Have you thought yet of setting up a family?—I mean, have you found a girl yet?"

What does she mean? The tutor had almost forgotten about his ideal bride, and he had it on his lips to say, "I have no one in view as yet"; but he suddenly remembered. Akh! of course she overheard! It put him into a ridiculous dilemma. What a piece of work I made of it! Why did I make up such an allegory when it wasn't in the least necessary? Nu vot! go to! they say that it's dangerous to take part in a propaganda; now here, how my propaganda influenced Viéra Pavlovna, though her heart is pure and disposed to no ill. Nu! she must have overheard and understood; but what business is that of mine? "Yes, I have a girl in view!"

"Are you engaged to her yet?"

"I am."

"Are you formally engaged, or is it only a tacit understanding between you?"

"We are formally engaged."

Poor Marya Alekséyevna! She had caught the words, "my bride,"' "your bride," "I love her very much," "she is a beauty," and her solicitude lest the tutor were flirting with her daughter was allayed; and so during the second quadrille she was able entirely to put her mind on the care of preparing the supper. But she wanted to hear the details of this reassuring story more circumstantially and particularly. She kept on with her cross-examination. All people like such reassuring conversation; at all events it satisfies curiosity, and one likes to know everything. The tutor gave satisfactory answers, though, according to his wont, they were very brief.

"Is your bride pretty?"

"Uncommonly."

"Has she a dowry?"

"A very large one."

"How large?"

"Very large!"

"As much as a hundred thousand?"

"Much more than that."

"How much more?"

"There's no use telling that; it is large enough."

"In cash?"

"Some of it in money."

"Some of it in estates also?"

"Yes; there's landed property."

"Soon?"

"Soon."

"You mean you are going to be married soon?"

"Yes."

"That is right, Dmitri Sergéitch; get married before she comes into her property, and so get rid of the crowd of men that'll be after her money."

"Perfectly right."

"How it is that God sent you such good luck, while other men have no such luck at all?"

"It's so; but almost nobody knows that she is such an heiress."

"And you found out?"

"I did."

"How was it you did?"

"To tell the truth, I had long been on the lookout for such a chance, and at last I found it."

"And you haven't made any mistake?"

"Certainly not; I've seen the documents."

"Seen 'em yourself?"

"I, myself. That was the first step I took."

"Was that the way you set about it?"

"Of course; a man who is in his right mind does not take any risks without proofs."

"That's true, Dmitri Sergéitch; no one does. What good luck! It must have been in answer to your parents' prayers."

"It must be so."

Marya Alekséyevna had taken a fancy to the tutor from the time when she found that he did not drink up her tea. It was apparent from everything that he was at man of solid character, with a firm basis of sense; he had little to say,—so much the better, he was not empty-headed, and whatever he said was to the point,—especially in regard to money; but since the evening of the party, she saw that the tutor was a God-send, on account of his absolute disinclination to flirt with the girls in the families where he gave lessons. Such an absolute disinclination can rarely be found among young men. But now she was at the height of her satisfaction with him. "Indeed, what a splendid man he is! And he had never boasted that he was going to marry a rich bride; it was necessary to draw out every word with pincers! And what keen scent he had! Apparently, he must have made up his mind long ago that he would find a rich bride; and how he must have flattered her. Nu! this young man, I may say, knows how to manage his affairs. And he set to work by getting hold of the documents. How sensibly he talks about it! he says that no one in his right mind can do such things without documents. He's a young man of rare good sense."

Viérotchka could hardly restrain herself from smiling too frankly; but gradually it seemed to her—but how did it seem to her? No; it can't be so! Yes; it must be! he must be speaking, not to Marya Alekséyevna, though he answers her questions, but to her, Viérotchka; that he is making fun of Marya Alekséyevna; that the seriousness and the truth which underlies what he says is meant only for her, Viérotchka.

Whether it only seemed so to Viérotchka, or whether it was really so, who can say? He knew, and she afterwards found out. But for the rest of us, perhaps there is no need of knowing; for we want only facts. And the fact was that Viérotchka, as she listened to Lopukhóf, at first smiled, but afterwards became serious, and imagined that he was speaking, not with Marya Alekséyevna, but with her, not in jest, but in earnest; and Marya Alekséyevna, who had taken in solemn earnest all that Lopukhóf said from the beginning, turned to Viérotchka, and said:—

"Viérotchka, my dear, what's become of your thoughts?[4] You are acquainted now with Dmitri Sergéitch; you'd better ask him to play your accompaniment for you, and give us a song."

By this she meant to intimate: "We have great respect for you, Dmitri Sergéitch, and we want you to be a good friend in our family. And you, Viérotchka, don't be coy to Dmitri Sergéitch; I am going to tell Mikhaïl Ivanuitch that he's got a bride of his own, and Mikhaïl Ivanuitch will not be jealous of him."

This was what was meant to be understood by Viérotchka and Dmitri Sergéitch; he was now in Marya Alekséyevna's thoughts not the tutor but Dmitri Sergéitch. But for Marya Alekséyevna herself, these words had a third interpretation which was very natural and real: "We must flatter him a little; his acquaintance may be of some use to us by and by when he gets to be rich, the rascal." This was the general signification of Marya Alekséyevna's word for herself; but beside the general signification there was also a special thought: "When I have flattered him a little, I will tell him that we are poor people; that it is hard for me to pay him a silver ruble a lesson."

So many different meanings were in Marya Alekséyevna's words! Dmitri Sergéitch said that he would finish his lesson first, and then it would give him pleasure to play on the piano.


VII.

Marya Alekséyevna's words had many interpretations, and they were not less fecund in results. On the side of the special signification,—that is, as regarded the reduction in the price of the lessons,—Marya Alekséyevna attained greater success than she anticipated: when, after two more lessons, she insinuated that they were poor people, Dmitri Sergéitch at first stuck to his price,—stuck to it strenuously; for a long time he did not yield,—long insisted on his three paper rubles. (It must be remembered that at this time the three-ruble note was worth only seventy kopeks.) Marya Alekséyevna did not expect to beat down his price, but, contrary to all her expectations, succeeded in reducing the price to sixty kopeks a lesson. Apparently the special signification of her words—the hope of beating down the price—contradicted her high opinion of Dmitri Sergéitch (not of Lopukhóf, but of Dmitri Sergéitch) as of a man shrewd in money matters. "What would make a man, who is a keen financier, give in about money on account of our poverty?" And if Dmitri Sergéitch did yield, then, consequently, one would be disappointed in him, and find in him a short-sighted man, and therefore a man to be avoided. Of course she would judge that way in the case of a stranger; but human beings are so created that it is hard for them to judge of their own affairs according to the general rule. A man is extremely apt to make exceptions in his own favor.[5] What can be done with this peculiarity of the human heart? It is bad; it is injurious; but Marya Alekséyevna was unfortunately not exempted from this fault, which is the almost universal affliction of the penurious, of the sneaks, and of the wicked. There is salvation from it in only two extreme and opposite kinds of moral right. A man may reach such a lofty plane of transcendental rascality that he becomes the eighth wonder of the world for his virtuosity in crime, like Ali Pasha Yaninska, Djezzar Pasha of Syria, Mahomet Ali of Egypt, all of whom deceived the European diplomats (and Djezzar deceived Napoleon the Great) as though they were children. When rascality has enclosed a man around with such an absolutely impregnable armor, that it is absolutely impossible to reach any human weakness, ambition, love of honors, love of command, love of self, or anything else, he is safe; but such heroes of rascality are very rare; you can scarcely find them in the countries of Europe, where virtuosity in wickedness is destroyed by a good many weak points. Therefore, if they show you a wily fellow, and say, "This fellow cannot be deceived by any one," boldly put up ten rubles against one that you, although not so wily, will mislead this wily fellow, if you only make up you mind to do so; and still more boldly put up one hundred rubles against one that he himself is leading himself by the nose in some direction or other, because it is the most ordinary and characteristic feature in the wily to be led in some direction or other by the nose. How artful in all appearance were Louis Philippe and Metternich, and how nicely they led themselves by the nose out of Paris and Vienna, into golden and lovely places of bucolic calmness, and enjoyed the picture of "Makar driving his calves."[6]

And Napoleon the First! what a wily rascal he was; wilier than Louis Philippe and Metternich taken together, and yet they say that with all his wiliness he had a genial temper. And thus how masterly he led himself by the nose to Elba; nay, he even wanted to go further, and dragged himself by the nose to St. Helena! How unlikely it seemed at first,—almost impossible; but he succeeded at last in overthrowing all the obstacles in the way of reaching the island of St. Helena. Just read over the history of the campaign of 1815, and you will see with what energy and skill he dragged himself by the nose. Alas! and even Marya Alekséyevna was not exempted from this injurious tendency!

There are few people for whom the armor against temptation serves as an absolute protection from the deception of others. But on the other hand, there are a good many people for whom simple honesty of heart serves as a protection against such deception. According to the testimony of Vidocqs and Johnnie Cains, there is nothing harder than to deceive an honest, sincere man, if he has some common sense and knowledge of the world. Bright, honest men, who have their wits about them, are not liable to temptation individually. But they have in one respect a weakness that is injurious: when taken all together they are subject to deception. A rascal is not able to lead any one of them by the nose, but the noses of them taken collectively are always ready for use. But the rascals, whose noses individually are weak, cannot be led by the nose. In this consists the whole mystery of the history of the world.

But to branch off into the history of the world is not necessary. When you are writing a novel go ahead with your novel!

The first result of Marya Alekséyevna's words was the cheapening of the lessons. The second result was that by getting the tutor cheaper, that is, not the tutor, but Dmitri Sergéitch, Marya Alekséyevna was still more confirmed in her good opinion of him as a man of solidity. She even came to the conviction that conversation with him would be profitable for Viérotchka; his influence will dispose Viérotchka to marry Mikhaïl Ivanuitch. This conclusion was extremely brilliant, and Marya Alekséyevna would probably not have reached it by her own wit, but she met with such plain proof that she could not help noticing Dmitri Sergéitch's good influence over Viérotchka. How this was proved to her we shall soon see.

The third result of Marya Alekséyevna's words was that Viérotchka and Dmitri Sergéitch began under her encouragement and permission to spend considerable time together. After he had finished giving his lessons, towards eight o'clock, Lopukhóf used to stay for two or three hours longer at the Rozalskys. He played cards with the mother of the family and the bridegroom; he talked with them; he played on the piano, and Viérotchka would sing; or Viérotchka played, and he would listen. Sometimes he spoke with Viérotchka, and Marya Alekséyevna did not interfere, was not angry, although, of course, she did not leave them without her supervision.

Oh, of course, she did not leave them absolutely to themselves; because, although Dmitri Sergéitch was a very proper young man, still the proverb does not say in vain, "Don't hide things carelessly, and you won't lead a thief into sin." Dmitri Sergéitch is a thief, there is no doubt about it; but it is not said by way of blame, but on the contrary; otherwise, there wouldn't be any reason for respecting him and making him a friend of the family, would there? Is there any sense of making the acquaintance of fools? Of course it is well to make the acquaintance of fools sometimes—when you can take advantage of them. But Dmitri Sergéitch has nothing to his name as yet; it must be, therefore, that they are friendly with him only because of his good qualities; that is, for his sense, solidity, prudence, and skill in managing his own affairs. And if every one has—the deuce knows what—in his mind, then such a clever man must have more than others. Consequently we must look and look at Dmitri Sergéitch.

And Marya Alekséyevna studied him very industriously and energetically; but all her observations only corroborated her opinion of Dmitri Sergéitch's solidity and good character. For instance, how can one tell amorous intentions? By noticing the way in which a young man looks at a girl. Here Viérotchka is playing and Dmitri Sergéitch is standing and listening, and Marya Alekséyevna is watching the direction in which he turns his eyes. But sometimes he does not even look at Viérotchka; he looks anywhere else; or sometimes, when he is looking at her, he looks so innocently, so indifferently into her face, that it can quickly be seen that he is looking at her only out of politeness and is thinking of his bride's dowry. His eyes do not burn like Mikhaïl Ivanuitch's! Again, how can the existence of love be detected? By caressing words. But in this case no caressing words are heard, and they really speak very little together; he talks by preference with Marya Alekséyevna, or, here for instance, he began to bring Viérotchka books. Once Viérotchka went to see a friend, and Mikhaïl Ivanuitch was at the Rozalskys'. Marya Alekséyevna took the books that the tutor brought and handed them to Mikhaïl Ivanuitch.

"Just look here, Mikhaïl Ivanuitch. This French I almost understand by myself. This word gostinaïa [meaning drawing-room], of course, it must be a book about manners, ain't it? but the German one I don't understand."

"No, Marya Alekséyevna, that word is not gostinaïa, but destinée, fate."

"What kind of a fate? Is it a novel that's called so, or is it a sort of oracle or fortune book."

"We will quickly find out, Marya Alekséyevna, from the book itself."

Mikhaïl Ivanuitch turned several of the leaves.

"It seems to speak mostly about series and things; I guess it is a scientific book."

"About serious things? That is good!"

"No, series."

"What! series? Oh yes, banknotes. Then it's something about managing money!"

"Yes, that's it, Marya Alekséyevna."

"Nu! what's the German one?"

Mikhaïl Ivanuitch read slowly:—

"'Concerning Religion; works of Ludwig.' Oh, yes, Ludwig the Fourteenth, Marya Alekséyevna; this is the work of Louis XIV. He was a French king, Marya Alekséyevna, the father of the king in whose place Napoleon is reigning now."

"Then it must be a theological work?"

"Yes, I think so."

"That is good, Mikhaïl Ivanuitch; yes, indeed, I knew it! Dmitri Sergéitch is a reliable young man; still one must keep his eyes sharp on any young man."

"Of course he has no bad intentions in his mind, but, for all that, I am extremely grateful to you, Marya Alekséyevna, for keeping your eyes open."

"One's got to do so; I am on the watch, Mikhaïl Ivanuitch; it's a mother's duty to keep her daughter straight, and I pledge you my honor as far as Viérotchka is concerned. But there's one thing occurs to me, Mikhaïl Ivanuitch. "What belief did that French king hold?"

"Catholic, naturally!"

"Then, don't he try to convert folks into the papistry?"

"I don't think so, Marya Alekséyevna; if he had been a Catholic bishop, then, of course, he would have tried to make converts; but a king would not spend his time that way. As a wise ruler and politician he'd simply teach virtue."

"What else?"

Marya Alekséyevna could not help seeing that Mikhaïl Ivanuitch, with all his narrow mind, argued the case very skilfully; but for all that she cleared up the matter with perfect satisfaction. Two or three days later she suddenly said to Lopukhóf, while playing with him rather than with Mikhaïl Ivanuitch:—

"Tell me, Dmitri Sergéitch; I want to ask you something. The father of the last French king, the very man in whose shoes the present Napoleon is reigning, did he make folks git converted into the religion of the Pope?"

"No, he did not, Marya Alekséyevna."

"Is the Pope's religion good, Dmitri Sergéitch?"

"No, it is not, Marya Alekséyevna. I play seven of diamonds."

"I just asked out of curiosity, Dmitri Sergéitch, being as I'm an ignorant woman, and it is interesting to know. You are taking a good many tricks, Dmitri Sergéitch."

"It can't be helped, Marya Alekséyevna. We are taught at the medical school to play cards well. A doctor must know how to take tricks."

Lopukhóf is puzzled to this day to know why Marya Alekséyevna wanted to know whether Philippe Egalité ordered folks to be baptized in the religion of the Pope.

Well, how, after all this, could it be wondered at that Marya Alekséyevna stopped wearying herself by perpetual supervision? He keeps his eyes where they should be, his face has shown no amorous susceptibilities; he gives her theological books to read; that ought to be enough. But no, Marya Alekséyevna was not satisfied; but she even managed to put him to a test, as though she had studied the logic which I have learned by heart, and which says, "the observations of phenomena must be made by means of experiments, carried on in a skilful plan, if one would have the most thorough penetration into the secrets of such relations"; and she so managed to bring about this trial, as though she had read Sakson's grammar, which tells how Hamlet was tempted by Ophelia in the grove.


VIII.

THE TEMPTATION OF HAMLET.

One day at tea, Marya Alekséyevna said that she had a headache; after serving the tea, and locking up the sugarbowl she went away and retired. Viéra and Lopukhóf remained sitting in the tea-room, which adjoined the bed-room where Marya Alekséyevna had gone.

After a few minutes she sent a message by Feódor: "Tell your sister that their talk keeps me from going to sleep; let 'em go somewhere else so as not to bother me. Say it politely, so as not to offend Dmitri Sergéitch; you see what good care he takes of you." Feódor went and told what his mother wanted.

"Let us go to my room, Dmitri Sergéitch; it is away from mother's bed-room, and we shall not be disturbed."

Of course this was what Marya Alekséyevna expected. At the end of a quarter of an hour she crept in her stocking feet up to the door of Viérotchka's room. The door was ajar; between the door and the jamb was a splendid crack: Marya Alekséyevna applied her eyes to it and strained her ears.

This was the sight that she saw:—

In Viérotchka's rooms were two windows; between them stood a writing-table. Viérotchka was sitting near one window, knitting a woollen chest-protector for her father, religiously fulfilling Marya Alekséyevna's command. At the other window, at the other end of the table, Lopukhóf was sitting: he was leaning with one elbow on the table; he had a cigar in his hand; his other hand was thrust in his pocket; the distance between Viérotchka and him was not less than two arshíns (4.6 feet). Viérotchka was looking most of the time at her knitting; Lopukhóf was looking most of the time at his cigar. This was a gratifying state of things.

The conversation that she overheard was as follows:—

"Is it necessary to look at life in this way?" These were the first words that Marya Alekséyevna caught.

"Yes, Viéra Pavlovna, it is necessary."

"Then cold, practical people must tell the truth, when they say that men are governed only by selfish motives?"

"They tell the truth. What are called the higher feelings, ideal aspirations; all these in the general course of life are absolutely nothing in comparison with the inspiration felt by every one to do things for his own interest. At bottom, the impulse even for the others is caused by selfishness."

"Da! are you, for example, of the same sort?"

"What do you suppose, Viéra Pavlovna? Just listen and see what is the essential motive of all my life. The essence of my life, hitherto, has consisted in study and preparation to be a doctor. Excellent! Why did my father send me to school? He used constantly to repeat to me: 'Study, Mitya; when you have finished your course you will be a tchinovnik; you will be able to support me and your mother, and it will be good for you, too.' And that was the reason that I studied; without that motive, my father would never have let me study: you see my family was in need of a wage-winner. Da! and I myself, though I am fond of study, would not have spent time on it, would I, if I had not thought that the expenditure would have been paid back with interest? After I got through school, I urged my father to send me to the medical academy instead of making me a tchinovnik. How did that come about? Father and I saw that medical men live much better than civil tchinovniks and the heads of departments, and I could not get any higher rank than that. And that was why I got the means and went to the medical school; it stood for bread and butter. Without this in view I should not have gone to the medical school and should not have stayed in it."

"But you loved to study while you were at school, and have you not liked medical science?"

"Yes. It is an ornament, and it is also profitable; but success is generally won without this ornament, while without a motive, never! Love for science was only a result arising from a certain state of things; it was not its cause; the cause was just one thing,—self-interest" [vuigoda, profit].

"Let us suppose that you are right; yes, you are right! All actions that I can remember can be explained by self-interest. But this theory is cold!"

"Theory must by necessity be cold. The mind must judge of things coldly."

"But it is merciless."

"Yes, to fancies that are empty and injurious."

"But it is prosaic."

"Science does not care for a poetical form."

"And so this theory, which I cannot help admitting, brings people into a cold, merciless, and prosaic life?"

"No, Viéra Pavlovna; this theory is cold, but it teaches a man to bring out the warmth. A match is cold, the match-box on which you scratch the match is also cold; but there is fire in them which gets a man warm food, and warms him also. This theory is merciless; but if it is followed, people will not become the wretched objects of idle charity. The lancet must not bend; otherwise it will be necessary to pity the patient, who will suffer none the less because of your sympathy. This theory is prosaic, but it reveals true motives of life and poetry in the truth of life. Why is Shakspere the greatest poet? Because he is true to life, and has less illusion than other poets."

"So am I, also, going to be pitiless, Dmitri Sergéitch," said Viérotchka, smiling. "Don't be drawn away by the thought that you have in me an obstinate opponent of your self-interest theory, and that you have converted me to be a new disciple. I myself long ago felt the same thing, especially after I read your book and heard it from you. But I thought that these were my individual ideas, that clever and scientific men thought otherwise, and so I was in doubt. All that we used to read was written in a spirit of contrariety; it was full of adverse criticisms, of sarcastic attacks upon what we used to see in ourselves and others. Nature, life, reason, lead you one direction; books drag you the other: they say, 'This is mean, contemptible.' Do you know, I myself saw the absurdity of the arguments which I myself brought up!"

"Yes, so they were absurd, Viéra Pavlovna."

"Well then," said she, laughing, "we are making each other wonderful compliments. I say to you, 'You, Dmitri Sergéitch, please don't lift your nose so high.' You say to me, 'You are ridiculous with your doubts, Viéra Pavlovna.'"

"At any rate," said he, also laughing, "we have no selfish interest in making love to each other, and therefore, we don't make love."

"All right, Dmitri Sergéitch; people are egotistical, aren't they? You were speaking about yourself, and now I want to speak about myself."

"Of course, men must think about themselves most of all."

"Very good. Now let us see if you will put this into practice."

"Let us see."

"A rich man wants to marry me. I don't like him. Must I accept his offer?"

"Consider what is for your best advantage."

"My best advantage! You know that I am very poor. On one side is my dislike of the man; on the other, I should have the upper hand of him, an enviable position in society, money, a crowd of worshippers!"

"Weigh everything; choose what would be most advantageous."

"And if I choose the husband's wealth and the crowd of worshippers?"

"I shall say that you have chosen that which seemed more correspondent with your interests."

"And what ought to be said about myself?"

"If you have acted coolly, after mature deliberation, it will have to be said that you have done wisely, and probably you will not be sorry for it."

"But would my choice deserve condemnation?"

"People who talk all sorts of nonsense will speak about it as they please; but people who look upon life from a reasonable standpoint will say that you have done as you ought. If you have done so, it will show that such was your individuality, that you could not have acted otherwise, circumstances being as they are; they will say that you have acted under the necessity of things, that properly speaking you could not have had any other choice."

"And no condemnation whatever for my actions?"

"Who has the right to condemn the results of a fact when the fact itself is in existence? Your individuality in the given circumstances is a fact; your actions are the essential, unavoidable results of this fact, arising from the nature of things. You are not responsible for them, and to condemn them is absurd."

"Well, I see you stick to your theory. And so I shall not deserve your condemnation, if I accept the rich man's offer?"

"I should be a fool if I condemned it."

"And so your permission,—I might say, your approval—I might even say, your direct advice—is to do as I have said?"

"There is always one thing to advise,—'reason out what is for your best'; if you do that, you have my approval."

"Thank you. Now the personal case is decided. Let us return to the first, that is, the general question. We began by saying that a man acts from necessity; his actions are determined by the influences from which they take their rise, the stronger motives always predominating. Our arguments went thus: when an action has vital importance, the stimulus is called self-interest; its interaction in man is the calculation of self-interests, and therefore a man must always act in accordance with the motive of self-interest. Do I express the thread of the thought?"

"Perfectly."

"You see what a good pupil I am. Now this private question about the actions that have an important bearing upon life is settled. But in the general question there remain some difficulties yet. Your book says that a man acts from necessity; but there are cases when it seems that it depends upon my will to act in this way or in that. For instance, I am playing, and I turn the leaves of the music. I turn them sometimes with my left hand, sometimes with my right hand. Let us suppose that I have turned them now with the right hand; why could I not have done it with my left hand? Does it not depend upon my own will?"

"No, Viéra Pavlovna; when you are turning the leaves, not thinking which hand you use, you turn them with the hand that is most convenient; there is no will about it. If you think, 'Let me turn them with my right hand,' you then turn them under the influence of this thought; but this thought itself was not a matter of your will, but was engendered unavoidably by others."

At this word Marya Alekséyevna ceased to listen. "Nu! they are spending their time over science; that ain't in my line, it ain't necessary either. What a wise, intelligent, and I may say noble, young man he is! What reasonable advice he gives Viérotchka! And that shows that he is a learned man: now here I go and tells her the same things; she does not listen, she gets offended; I can't suit her because I don't know how to speak scientific enough. But here when he speaks scientific, she listens and sees that it is the truth, and she agrees with it. Da! it is said not in vain, 'knowledge is light; ignorance, darkness.' If I had been a well-educated woman, would it have been with me as it is now? I'd have got my husband into favor with the generals; I would have got a place for him in the department of supplies, or somewhere else just as good! Nu! of course I should have done the business myself with the contractors! the idea of his doing it—rubbish! I'd have built a much better house than this. I'd have bought more than a thousand souls [dushi, serfs]. But now I cannot. It is necessary to get a recommendation first in the society of generals; and how can I do that? I can't speak French, nor any other language of theirs. They'll say, 'She hain't got any manners; all she's good for is to make an uproar on the hay-market!' So I am no good! 'Ignorance is darkness.' Indeed 'knowledge is light; ignorance is darkness.'"

Now it was just this conversation that Marya Alekséyevna had overheard that brought her to the conviction that Dmitri Sergéitch's conversation was not only not dangerous for Viérotchka,—she had been inclined to think that before,—but was even likely to do her good, to lighten her own labors in overcoming Viérotchka's foolish, inexperienced, girlish, thoughts, and hasten the mystical benediction in the affair with Mikhaïl Ivanuitch.


IX.

The relations of Marya Alekséyevna to Lopukhóf resemble a farce; Marya Alekséyevna's character is exposed by them in a ridiculous way. Both these facts are quite against my will. If I had wanted to preserve a high standard of art, I should have concealed Marya Alekséyevna's relations to Lopukhóf, the description of which gives this part of my story the nature of a vaudeville. To hide them would have been easy. The essential element of the matter could have been expressed without them. Would it have been at all surprising if the tutor, even if he had not entered into this friendship with Marya Alekséyevna, had found occasion sometimes, though seldom, to say a few words with the daughter of a family where he is giving lessons? Does it take many words to engender love? There was no need of Marya Alekséyevna putting in a hand to help along this result which was brought about by the meeting of Viérotchka with Lopukhóf. But I am telling this story, not as it would be necessary if I wanted to win an artistic reputation, but simply in accordance with the facts. As a novelist, I am very sorry because I have written several pages which are on the low level of a vaudeville.

My design of relating the case as it was, and not as it would have been if I had followed my inclinations, also causes me another unpleasantness. I am very much dissatisfied because Marya Alekséyevna is represented in a ridiculous way with her conceptions of Lopukhóf's bride as he described her, with her fantastic guessing about the contents of the books which Lopukhóf gave Viérotchka, with her reasoning about Philippe Egalité trying to convert folks to the faith of the Pope, and her ideas of the works written by King Louis XIV. Every one is liable to error; mistakes may be stupid if a man judges of matters which are foreign to his experience; but it would be unjust to conclude from these stupid blunders made by Marya Alekséyevna that her disposition to Lopukhóf was founded entirely on these blunders; not at all, not for a moment would any fantastic ideas of a rich bride or the goodness of Philippe Egalité have obscured her common sense, if in Lopukhóf's actual words and actions had anything suspicious been noticeable. But in point of fact, he behaved himself in such a way that, according to Marya Alekséyevna's opinion, only a man after her own heart could behave himself; now here was a brave young man, who did not allow his eyes to gaze impudently at a very pretty young girl; he did not pay her ambiguous attentions, he was always willing to play cards with Marya Alekséyevna, he never said that he would rather sit with Viéra Pavlovna, he discussed matters in a spirit that seemed to Marya Alekséyevna in accordance with her own spirit; like her, he said that everything in the world is done for self-interest, that when a cheat cheats (plut plutŭyet), there is no need of getting excited and crying out about the principles of honesty which such a cheat is bound to observe, that a cheat is not a cheat without good reason, that he was made such by his environment, that not to be a cheat—leaving aside the impossibility of not being a cheat—would have been stupid, that is, simply foolish on his part. Yes, Marya Alekséyevna was right, when she found a resemblance between her and Lopukhóf.

I appreciate how deeply Lopukhóf is compromised in the eyes of the civilized public by the sympathy shown by Marya Alekséyevna in his way of thinking. But I do not want to flatter any one, and I don't conceal this circumstance, though it is so injurious to Lopukhóf's reputation, although I confessed that it was in my power to conceal Lopukhóf's relations with the Rozalsky family. I will say even more; I myself will even undertake to explain that he even actually deserved Marya Alekséyevna's good will.

In point of fact, it appears from the conversation between Lopukhóf and Viérotchka, that the style of his thinking would far more easily seem good to people of Mary Alekséyevna's stamp, than to eloquent partizans of various beautiful ideas. Lopukhóf saw things in exactly the same light as they appear to the great mass of the human race, with the exception of the partisans of beautiful ideas. If Marya Alekséyevna could repeat with satisfaction what she herself had heard of Lopukhóf's advice to Viérotchka in regard to Storeshnikof's offer, he likewise would take satisfaction in adding right to her drunken confession to Viérotchka. The resemblance between their conceptions was so striking, that enlightened and noble novelists, journalists, and other instructors of our public, would long ago have declared that people of Lopukhóf's stamp differ in no respect from people of Marya Alekséyevna's stamp. If such enlightened and noble writers so understand Lopukhóf's stamp, could we really condemn Marya Alekséyevna because she could find in Lopukhóf nothing but what our best writers, teachers, and philosophers find in people of his stamp?

Of course, if Marya Alekséyevna had known half of what these writers knew, she would have had sufficient mind to understand that Lopukhóf is bad company for her. But aside from the fact that she was an uneducated woman, she has still another excuse for mistake. Lopukhóf did not give her the full benefit of his ideas. He was a propagandist, but not such an one as the lovers of fine ideas who are always anxious to give Marya Alekséyevnas the benefit of the noble conceptions by which they themselves are enlightened. He had enough good sense not to try to straighten a fifty-year-old tree. They both accepted facts in the same way, and so discussed them. Like a man with a theoretical education, he could draw from facts such conclusions as were impossible to Marya Alekséyevna and her similars, who do not know anything beyond personal every-day cares and current aphorisms of popular wisdom,—proverbs, sayings, and the folklore which is old, archaic, and even stale. But they could never reach his conclusions. If, for instance, he had begun to explain what he meant by the word "self-interest," which he used when talking with Viérotchka, Marya Alekséyevna would have made a grimace, seeing that self-interest, as he understood it, was not the same as self-interest as she understood it; but Lopukhóf did not explain this to Marya Alekséyevna, and neither was there any explanation of it in his talk with Viérotchka, because Viérotchka knew the meaning of the word as she had seen it used in those books which started the conversation. Of course it is also true that while saying you are right to Marya Alekséyevna's drunken confession, Lopukhóf would have added to the word "right" (prava) these words: "According to your own confession, Marya Alekséyevna, the new order of things is much better than the old, and I have nothing against those who are trying to make the reform and get pleasure out of it; but as far as the stupidity of the people is concerned, which you regard as a hindrance against the new order, then of course I must agree with you; but you yourself will not deny, Marya Alekséyevna, that people soon get educated, and they see that it is to their advantage to do what before they could not see any need of doing; you will also agree that hitherto they have had no way of learning sense and reason; but give them this possibility, and why, of course they will take advantage of it."

But he never went as far as this in speaking with Marya Alekséyevna; and that, too, not from carefulness, though he was very careful, but simply from the very good reason of his common sense and politeness, which also prevented him from talking to her in Latin, and from tiring her ears with arguments about the latest advances in medicine, though such subjects were interesting to him. He possessed so much politeness and delicacy that he would not torment a person with declamations which are not understood by that person.

Now, while I say all this to justify Marya Alekséyevna's oversight in not finding out in time what sort of man Lopukhóf really was, I don't say it to justify Lopukhóf himself. To justify Lopukhóf would not be the right thing; and why it would not be the right thing you will see as you go on. Those who could not justify him, but yet from their sense of humanity would forgive, could not forgive him. For instance, they might allege for his excuse that he was a medical man, and was occupied with natural sciences, and that disposes to a materialistic view. But such an excuse is very poor. There are very many sciences that lead to such a view, aren't there?—mathematical, and historical, and political, and many others, of all sorts. But are all geometricians, astronomers, all historians, political economists, lawyers, journalists, and all other scientific people, materialists? Not by a long chalk! Consequently, Lopukhóf is not to be excused for his fault. Those who sympathize with him, but do not justify him, could also say for his excuse that he is not entirely lacking in praiseworthy characteristics; he made up his mind, conscientiously and resolutely, to renounce all material advantages and honors, so as to work for the benefit of others, finding that the pleasure to be derived from such work was most beneficial for him; he looked at a girl, who was so beautiful that he fell in love with her, with purer eyes than if she had been his sister. But in reply to this excuse for his materialism, it must be said that it is universally true that there is no man so depraved as not to show some signs of good, and that materialists, of whatever character, remain materialists still; and this itself proves decidedly that they are immoral and degraded people, who cannot be excused, because to excuse them would be to encourage materialism. And so, while not justifying Lopukhóf, it is also impossible to excuse him. And to justify him is also not the right thing; because the lovers of fine ideas and the defenders of higher aspirations, who have declared that materialists are low and immoral people, in these later days have so thoroughly recommended themselves in the matter of sense, and also in the matter of character, in the eyes of all respectable people, whether materialists or not, that to defend anybody from their censure has become a work of supererogation, and to pay heed to their words has become even unseemly.


X.

Of course, the main subject of the conversations between Lopukhóf and Viérotchka was not the question as to which fashion of ideas should be looked upon as the right one; but, as a rule, they spoke with each other very little, and their long talks, which rarely occurred, touched upon only outside matters, such as ways of thinking, and kindred topics. They knew that two very vigilant eyes were on them. And, consequently, in regard to the main thing that interested them, they exchanged very few words; and this was generally at the time when they were getting the music ready for playing or singing. And this main topic which occupied so small a place in their infrequent long talks, and even in their brief snatches of talk, occupied but a small place,—this subject was not their feeling towards each other,—not at all; they did not speak a word after the first indefinite words which were said at their first talk during the party; they had no time to speak about it. In the two or three minutes used for the exchange of thought, without the fear of being overheard, they had hardly time to speak about the other subject, which was more important to them than their own thoughts and feelings; and this was in regard to the ways and means by which Viérotchka could escape her terrible situation.

On the morning that followed his first conversation with her, Lopukhóf took pains to find out how it would be possible for her to become an actress. He knew that there were a good many risks and trials standing in the way of a girl going on the stage; but he thought that with a firm character she might succeed all straight. But it proved to be otherwise. When he came to give his lesson, two days later, he was compelled to say to Viérotchka, "I advise you to give up the thought of becoming an actress."

"Why?"

"Because it would be much better for you to accept Storeshnikof's offer."

This ended the talk, which was said while he and Viérotchka were getting the music—he about to play, and she to sing. Viérotchka hung her head, and several times lost the beat, although the piece was very familiar to her. When the piece was finished, they began to consult what they should sing next, and Viérotchka found a chance to say:—

"It seemed to me that that was the very best, and it's hard for me to hear that it is impossible. It will be harder to live, but still I shall find some way of living; I will go out as governess."

When he was there again two days later, she said:—

"I could not find any one through whom I could get the place of governess. Please keep your eyes open for me, Dmitri Sergéitch; there is no one but you."

"I am sorry I have so few acquaintances who might help in this way. All the families where I am giving or have given lessons are poor people, and their acquaintances are about the same; but I will do the best I can."

"My friend, I am wasting your time; but what else can I do?"

"Viéra Pavlovna, there is no need of speaking about my time, since I am your friend."

Viérotchka both smiled and blushed. She herself did not notice how instead of calling him Dmitri Sergéitch, she called him "my friend." Lopukhóf also smiled. "You did not mean to say it, Viéra Pavlovna; take it back if you are sorry that you gave it to me."

Viérotchka smiled, "It is too late," and she blushed, "and I am not sorry"; and she blushed still more.

"When need comes, you will see that I am a true friend." They pressed each other's hands.

You have here the two first conversations after that evening.

Two days later, there was in the "Police Gazette" an advertisement to this effect: "A girl of good family, speaking French and German, etc., desires a place as governess; inquiries can be made of the tchinovnik So-and-So at Kolonma, NN. street, NN. house."

Now Lopukhóf was obliged to spend a great deal of his time in attending to Viérotchka's affairs. Every morning he had to go for the most part on foot from Vuiborgsky ward to Kolomna to his friend whose address was given in the advertisement. It was a long walk; but he could not find any other friend who lived near the Vuiborgsky ward. It was necessary that the friend at whose home inquiries could be made should be subject to several conditions,—a respectable home, good family circumstances, a respectable appearance. A poor domicile might lead to the offer of unfavorable conditions as a governess; without respectability and apparently good family circumstances the girl's recommendation would not be looked upon favorably. And Lopukhóf could not place his own address in the advertisement: what would be thought of a girl who was cared for by no one besides a student? And so Lopukhóf had to take an unusual amount of exercise. After he had taken the addresses of those who came to inquire about the governess, he had to continue his walk still farther; the tchinovnik told the inquirers that he was a distant relative of the girl and acted only as agent, but that she had a nephew who would come the next day and give further particulars. The nephew instead of going in a carriage went on foot, looked at the people, and of course, as a general thing, was dissatisfied with the surroundings; in one family they put on too many airs; in another, the mother of the family was a good woman, but the father was a fool (durak); and the third, the opposite was true; and so on. In some it would be comfortable to live, but the conditions would be impossible for Viérotchka; either it was necessary to speak English, but English she does not speak, or they did not want a governess but a nurse; or the people were well enough in their way, but they were themselves poor, and there was no place in their apartment for a governess, where there were already two grown children, two little ones, a maid, and a nurse. But the advertisement continued to appear in the "Police Gazette," and likewise the governess-seekers and Lopukhóf did not lose hope.

In such a manner two weeks passed by. On the fifth day of his hunt, when Lopukhóf had returned from his walk and was lying down on his sofa, Kirsánof said:—

"Dmitri, you are getting to be a bad assistant in my work. You spend all your mornings out, and the larger part of your afternoons and evenings. You must have got a good many lessons to give, haven't you? Can you spare the time to give them just now? I want to give up those that I have; I have saved up forty rubles or so, and that will be enough till I graduate. And you have more than I have—at least a hundred, haven't you?"

"More; a hundred and fifty. I have no pupils, though; I have given them all up but one; I have something that I must attend to. If I accomplish it, you will not be sorry that I am behind you in the work."

"What is it?"

"You see the lesson which I have not given up is in a wretched family, but there is a nice girl there. She wants to be a governess, so as to leave the family, and so I am looking up a place for her."

"A nice girl?"

"Yes."

"Nu, this is good. Look out."

And so the conversation ended.

Ekh! Messrs. Kirsánof and Lopukhóf, you are learned men, but you cannot imagine in what respect this is peculiarly good. Let us grant that what you have been talking about is good. Kirsánof did not think of asking whether the girl were pretty, and Lopukhóf did not think to say that she was. Kirsánof did not think to say, "Yes, brother, you must have fallen in love that you are so energetic in looking out for this girl." Lopukhóf did not think of saying, "And I, brother, am very much interested in her"; or if he thought it, and did not care to say it, he certainly did not think to remark for the sake of turning aside suspicion, "Don't imagine, Aleksandr, that I am in love." Don't you see they both thought that when there was a chance to free a person from a bad situation, it made very little difference whether that person possessed a handsome face or not, even though the person were a young girl; but in such a case there could be no discussion of falling in love or not falling in love. They did not even think of thinking of it, and what is best of all, they did not notice that they were doing a noble action.

But, however, doesn't this prove to the sagacious class of readers (it proves to the majority of literary men, and this is composed of the most sagacious people), doesn't it prove, I say, that Kirsánof and Lopukhóf were cold and deprived of all æsthetic sense? This was not so very long ago a favorite expression among the æsthetic writers who had lofty ideals. "Æsthetic sense" may be even now fashionable; I don't know how it is; I have not seen it used for some time. Is it natural that young men, who possess a spark of taste, or a grain of heart, can fail to be interested in the face when speaking of a girl? Of course these people have no artistic feeling; that is, æsthetic sense: and according to the opinion of others, who have learned human nature in circles which are richer in æsthetic feelings than the company of our æsthetic literati, young men in such circumstances will invariably speak about young women from the plastic side. Gentlemen, it used to be so, but not now; it is now true in certain instances, but not with those young men who are alone regarded as the present generation. Gentlemen, this is a peculiar generation.


XI.

"Well, my dear, haven't you found any situation for me yet?"

"Not yet, Viéra Pavlovna, but don't despair; we shall find one. Every day I go to see two or three families. It is impossible that a respectable place will be not found at last where you can live."

"Akh! but if you only knew, my friend, how hard, how hard, it is for me to remain here. When there was no near possibility for me to escape from this degradation, from this misery, I kept myself by main force in a deathly apathy. But now, my friend, it is too suffocating in this foul, wretched atmosphere!"

"Patience, patience, Viéra Pavlovna. We shall find something." Here is an example of their talk for a week.

Tuesday.—"Patience, patience, Viéra Pavlovna, we shall find something."

"My friend, how much trouble this is causing you! What a waste of time! How can I repay you?"

"You will repay me, my dear, by not getting vexed." Lopukhóf said this, and became confused. Viérotchka looked at him. No, it was not that he did not finish his sentence; he did not intend to add to it, and he is waiting for her answer.

"What should I be vexed about? What have you done?" Lopukhóf became still more confused, and seemed to be grieved.

"What is the matter, my friend?"

"To think you did not notice it at all!" He spoke so sorrowfully, and then he laughed so gayly. "Akh, bozhe moï! how stupid I am, how stupid! Forgive me, my friend."

"Nu! what is the matter?"

"Nothing; you have already given me my reward."

"Akh! what do you mean? What a jester you are! Well, all right, you may call me so."

On Thursday came the "Trial of Hamlet," according to Sakson's Grammar. For several days after that, Marya Alekséyevna takes some little—though not much—rest from her inspection.

Saturday.—After tea, Marya Alekséyevna goes out to count over the clothes which the laundress had brought.

"My dear, I think the matter will be successful."

"Really? If that is so, Akh, bozhe moï! Akh, bozhe moï! arrano;e it as soon as possible! It seems to me that I shall die if this is to go on much longer. When will it be, and how?"

"It will be decided to-morrow. The hope is almost, almost certain."

"What is it? How is it?"

"Keep calm, my friend; you'll be noticed. Here you are almost dancing with joy. Marya Alekséyevna will be back after something if you don't look out."

"Well, you are a fine fellow! You came in so radiant that mámenka looked at you a long time."

"At any rate, I told her why I was happy; I saw that it was necessary to tell her, and so I said that I have found a splendid place."

"You horrid, horrid man! here you keep cautioning me, and you have not told me, as yet, a single thing. What is it? Do tell me at last!"

"This morning Kirsánof—you know, my dear, that my chum's name is Kirsánof—"

"I know, you horrid, horrid man, I know! Now, speak quick, without any more nonsense."

"You, yourself, are hindering me, my friend."

"Akh, bozhe moï! and all these digressions without ever once coming to the point. I don't know how I could punish you. I will get you down on your knees yet; it cannot be done here. I command you to get down on your knees in your room, as soon as you get home, and I want your Kirsánof to look on, and then send me a note, saying that you were down on your knees. Do you hear what I am going to do with you?"

"Very good; I will get down on my knees; and now I shall hold my peace. After I have undergone my punishment and am forgiven, I will speak."

"I forgive you; only speak, you horrid man!"

"Thank you; you grant forgiveness when you yourself are to blame. You, yourself, have made all the interruptions."

"Viéra Pavlovna, why do you call me so? I thought you were going to call me my friend?"

"Yes, I meant it as a reproach, my friend! I am a man easily offended, and very severe!"

"A reproach? How dare you make me reproaches? I do not want to hear you!'"

"You don't?"

"Certainly I don't. What is there for me to hear? You have told me everything already,—that the matter will be arranged, that it will be decided to-morrow; you see, my friend, you yourself don't know anything more to-day. What is there to hear? Good by, my dear (Dō svidánya, moï drūg)!"

"But listen to me, my friend; my friend, do listen!"

"I am not going to listen; I am going away." She came back. "Speak quick! I will not interrupt you. Akh, bozhe moï! if you only knew how happy you have made me! Give me your hand! See how warmly, warmly, I press it!"

"But why are your eyes full of tears?"

"I thank you, I thank you!"

"This morning Kirsánof gave me the address of a lady who made an appointment for me to call on her to-morrow. I am not personally acquainted with her, but I have heard much about her from a mutual friend who acted as go-between. I know her husband though; we have met at our friend's many times. Judging from all this, I am sure that one could get along well in her family; and when she gave her address to her friend, she said that she was certain that we should agree about terms. Consequently, the matter can be looked upon as almost absolutely settled."

"Akh! how good it will be! what joy!" murmured Viérotchka. "But I want to have it settled soon, as soon as possible! Will you come from her directly to us?"

"No, my dear; that would rouse suspicions. I never come here except during lesson hours. I'll do this way. I will send a letter to Marya Alekséyevna by mail, saying that I shall not be able to give the lesson on Tuesday, and shall have to postpone it till Wednesday. If the letter says Wednesday morning, you will understand that the matter is arranged; if it says Wednesday evening, you will know that it has fallen through. But it is almost certain to read in the morning. Marya Alekséyevna will tell it to Feódor, and to you and to Pavel Konstantinuitch."

"When will the letter get here?"

"In the evening."

"It's so long! No, I shall not have enough patience! And then what shall I learn from the letter? Only yes, and then I shall have to wait till Wednesday! It is torturing. If it is yes, I shall go and call on the lady as soon as I can. I shall want to know all about it. But how can it be managed? This is the way I'll do; I'll be waiting for you on the street when you leave that lady's."

"My friend, that would be still more risky than for me to call on you. No! it would be much better for me to call on you!"

"No! perhaps it would be impossible for us to have a word together. At any rate, mámenka might become suspicious. No! it would be better as I suggested first. I have such a thick veil that no one would recognize me through it."

"Well, I admit that your plan seems feasible. Let me think!"

"There's no time to think! Mámenka may be here any minute. Where does the lady live?"

"On Galernaïa Street, near the bridge."

"What time shall you call on her?"

"She appointed twelve o'clock."

"At twelve I shall be sitting on the Konno-Gvardeïsky Boulevard, on the last bench, and at the end nearest the bridge. I said that I would wear a thick veil; but here's a sign for you: I will carry a roll of music in my hand. If I am not there on time you will know that I am detained. But you sit down on that bench and wait. I may be late, but I shall be there without fail. How well I have planned it! How grateful I am to you! How happy I shall be! How is your bride, Dmitri Sergéitch? See, I call you Dmitri Sergéitch instead of my friend! How glad, how glad I am!"

Viérotchka ran to the piano, and began to play.

"My dear! What a degradation to art! How ruinous to your taste to give up operas for galops!"

"Certainly, certainly!"

In a few minutes Marya Alekséyevna returned. Dmitri Sergéitch played two-handed "preference" with her. At first he won; then he allowed her to win. He even lost thirty-five kopeks. This was the first time, and it filled her with victorious glory, and when he went away he left her greatly pleased; not so much on account of the money as on account of the victory. There are purely ideal pleasures even for hearts soiled with materialism, and this is proof positive, that a materialistic explanation of life is unsatisfactory.


XII.

VIÉROTCHKA'S FIRST DREAM.

And Viérotchka dreamed a dream.

She dreamed that she was locked up in a damp, gloomy cellar, and suddenly the door opened, and Viérotchka found herself in a field. She was running, frolicking, and she thinks: "How is it that I did not die in the cellar? It is because I had never seen the fields before! Had I seen them, I must have died in the cellar." And again she seemed to be running and frolicking. Then she dreamed that she was paralyzed, and she said to herself: "How is it that I have the paralysis? Old men, old women, have the paralysis, but young girls never have it!"

"Oh, yes, they do, very often," an unknown voice seemed to reply, "and very soon you will be well. Let me only touch your hand; you see you are well already; now get up!"

"Who was it that spoke? How relieved I am! All the pain has gone!"

And Viérotchka got up and began to walk, to run, and again she is in the field; again she is running and frolicking, and she thinks: "How could I have endured the paralysis? It was because I was born with paralysis and did not know how to walk and to run! Had I known, I could not have endured it."

And still she keeps on running and frolicking. And here comes a young girl across the field. How strange! her face and her gait, everything about her, keeps changing, changing constantly. Now she is English, French, now she is already German, Polish, and now she has become Russian, again English, again German, again Russian; and how is it that she has only the one face? An English girl does not look like a French girl, a German girl does not look like a Russian; but her face keeps changing, and yet it is the very same face. What a strange person! And the expression of her face is constantly changing: how gentle she is, how angry; now she is melancholy, now she is gay. She is always changing, and she is always kind; how is that? even when she is angry is she always kind? But only see what a beauty she is! no matter how her face changes, with every change she grows more and more beautiful. She approaches Viérotchka.

"Who are you?"

"He used to call me Viéra Pavlovna; but now he always calls me 'My dear [Moï drūg].'"

"Ah! so this is you! that Viérotchka who fell in love with me?"

"Yes; I love you very much; but who are you?"

"I am your bridegroom's bride!"

"What bridegroom?"

"I do not know. I do not know my own bridegrooms. They know me; but it is impossible for me to know them, I have so many! You must choose one of them as a bridegroom for yourself,—only from among them, from among my bridegrooms."

"I have already chosen."

"I do not need to know his name, and I do not know them. But only choose from among them, from my bridegrooms. I want my sisters and my bridegrooms to select from amongst each other. Have you been locked up in a cellar? Have you been paralyzed?"

"I have."

"Are you free now?"

"I am."

"It is I who set you free; it is I who cured you. Remember, that there are a good many not yet freed; many not yet cured. Free them; cure them; will you?"

"I will! But what is your name? I am so anxious to know!"

"I have many names; I have various names. According as it is necessary for any one to call me, an appropriate name I give! You may call me Philanthropy [literally, love for humanity]. This is my real name; not many call me so. But you must call me so."

And Viérotchka seems to be going about in the city; here is a cellar, in the cellar young girls are locked up. Viérotchka touches the lock, the lock is unfastened. "You are free!" Out they go! Here is a room, in the room young girls are lying stricken with paralysis. "Arise!" They get up, they go out, and here they all are in the field, running and frolicking. Akh! how gay! when there are many together, it is far more lively than to be in solitude! Akh! how gay!


XIII.

Lopukhóf during these last weeks has had no time to spend with his acquaintances of the medical school. Kirsánof, who has kept up his intercourse with them, has replied, when asked about Lopukhóf, that he has had among other things, some business to attend to; and one of their common friends, as we know, gave him the address of a lady, the lady to whose house Lopukhóf is now going.

"How excellently the matter will be arranged, if all turns out satisfactorily," thought Lopukhóf on his way to the lady's house. "In two years, or certainly in two years and a half, I shall get a professorship. Then we shall have something to live on. And meantime, she will be staying quietly at the B.s', provided only Mrs. B. prove to be the right sort of woman, and there can hardly be a doubt of that."

In fact, Lopukhóf found in Mrs. B. a clever, kind-hearted woman, without pretence, though from her husband's position, and from their wealth and connections, she had a right to put on great style. The conditions were favorable, the family circumstances very propitious for Viérotchka. Everything proved to be entirely satisfactory, just as Lopukhóf expected. Mrs. B. also found Lopukhóf's replies in regard to Viérotchka's character perfectly satisfactory. The affair was rapidly drawing near a settlement, and after they had talked half an hour, Mrs. B. said, "If your young aunt should consent to my terms, I will ask her to remove to my house, and the sooner, the better for me."

"She consents; she has authorized me to consent for her. But now that we have settled the matter, I must tell you what would have been wrong for me to tell you before: the young girl is no relation of mine. She is the daughter of a tchinovnik at whose house I give lessons. There is no one besides me to whom she can confide her troubles. But I am an absolute stranger to her."

"I knew it, Monsieur Lopukhóf. You yourself, Professor N." (naming the acquaintance through whom her address had been obtained), "and your chum, who spoke to him about this matter of yours, know each other to be so honorable that you can speak among yourselves about the friendship one of you has for a young girl, and not compromise the young girl in the eyes of the others. And Professor N., having the same good opinion of me, and knowing that I was looking for a governess, felt that he was in the right to tell me that the young girl was no relation of yours. Don't blame him for indiscretion; he knows me very well. I also am a person of honor, Monsieur Lopukhóf; and, believe me, I understand who is worthy of respect. I have as much faith in N. as I have in myself; and N. has as much faith in you as he has in himself. But N. did not know her name, and now it seems to me that I may ask it, seeing that we have settled the matter, and to-day or to-morrow she may come into our family."

"Her name is Viéra Pavlovna Rozalskaïa."

"Now there is another explanation that I owe you. It may seem strange to you that I, with all my care for my children, should decide to settle this matter with you without having seen the one who will come into such close relations to my children. But I know very well of what sort of people your circle consists. I know that if one of you takes such a friendly interest in a person, then this person must be a genuine godsend for a mother, who wishes her daughter to grow up into a truly good woman. Therefore, an examination seemed to me an entirely unnecessary piece of indelicacy. I am giving not you, but myself, a compliment!"

"I am very glad now for Mademoiselle Rozalskaïa; her domestic life has been so hard that she felt that she should be comfortable in any sort of a family. But I did not dream of finding such a really excellent career for her as opens for her in your home."

"Yes; N. told me that she leads a miserable life in her family."

"Very miserable."

Lopukhóf began to relate all that was necessary for Mrs. B. to know, so that in conversations with Viérotchka, she might avoid all references that would remind the young girl of her past life. Mrs. B. listened with interest; finally she pressed Lopukhóf's hand.

"No; that is enough, Monsieur Lopukhóf, or I shall get sentimental, and at my age—and I am almost forty—it would be ridiculous to show that even now I cannot listen with indifference to tales of family tyranny, from which I suffered myself when I was young."

"Allow me to tell you one thing more. It is not so important for you, and there is probably no need of my telling you this. Yet it is better to tell you. Just now, she is running away from a lover whom her mother is doing her best to make her marry."

Mrs. B. was lost in thought. Lopukhóf looked at her and also began to appear thoughtful:—

"If I am not mistaken, this circumstance does not seem to you as unimportant as it does to me!"

Mrs. B. seemed utterly absorbed in thought.

"Excuse me," he continued, seeing that her mind was entirely distracted. "Excuse me, but I see that this troubles you."

"Yes, it is a very serious matter, Monsieur Lopukhóf. To leave home against the will of her parents; that of course means to bring about a great quarrel. But that, as I told you, was of no consequence. If she were running away merely from their folly and cruelty, the matter could be arranged with them some way or other; if worst came to worst, we could give them some money, and they would be satisfied. That's nothing. But when such a mother forces a bridegroom on her daughter, it means that the bridegroom is rich, a very profitable investment."

"Of course," said Lopukhóf, in a perfectly melancholy tone of voice.

"Of course, Monsieur Lopukhóf, he's rich; and it is that which troubles me. In such a case the mother is not going to give in so easily. And do you know the law about parents? In matters of this kind they have full control. They will begin a lawsuit, and carry it out to the bitter end."

Lopukhóf arose.

"And so it remains for me only to ask you to forget all that I have told you."

"No, wait a moment. Allow me at least to justify myself somewhat before you. Bozhe moï! how mean I must seem in your eyes! That which ought to stir up every honorable person to sympathy and protection; that very thing keeps me back. Oh, what pitiable people we are!"

Indeed, it was sad to look at her. She was not putting it on. It was really painful to her. For a long time her words were disjointed, so confused had she become. Then her thoughts began to become logical, but, whether disjointed or logical, they meant nothing to Lopukhóf. Yes, even he was also confused. He was so occupied with the discovery that she had made for him that he could not heed her explanation in regard to the discovery. After he had given her sufficient time to speak out her mind, he said:—

"All that you have said in your own excuse is idle. I was obliged to remain so as not to seem discourteous, lest you should think that I blamed you or were angry. But I must confess that I did not listen to what you said. Oh, if I did not know that you were right! And how good it would be if you were not right! I would tell her that we could not agree about the terms, or that you did not satisfy me! and that would be the end of it; she and I could hope for some other way of escape. But now what can I tell her?"

Mrs. B. shed tears.

"What can I tell her?" repeated Lopukhóf, as he went down stairs. "What will become of her? What will become of her?" he asked himself as he came out from Galernaïa Street upon the Konno-Gvardeisky Boulevard.


Of course Mrs. B. was not right in that absolute sense of the word in which people are right who try to prove to little children that the moon is not to be seized with the hand. It was very possible, nay, even probable, that through her position in society, through her husband's quite important official connections, if she had seriously desired Viérotchka to live with her, Marya Alekséyevna would not have been able to tear Viérotchka from her hands, without causing serious trouble for herself and her husband, who would have to figure as the official defendants in the law-suit, and this she would have feared. But, nevertheless, Mrs. B. would have to take a good deal of trouble on her shoulders, and would possibly have some disagreeable interviews. It would be necessary in behalf of a stranger to incur obligations to people whose services it would be better to reserve for one's own affairs. Who is compelled, and what reasonable man would want, to act in a different way from Mrs. B.? We haven't the slightest right to blame her. Yes, Lopukhóf was not wrong when he despaired about Viérotchka's escape.


XIV.

Now Viérotchka has been sitting long, long, on the appointed bench, and how often did her heart beat quickly, quickly, when she saw an army cap coming around the corner. "Ah! there he is; my friend!" She jumped up, and ran to meet him.

Maybe he would have regained his courage by the time he had reached the bench; but he was taken unawares, and his face was seen sooner than he anticipated, and so he was caught with a gloomy expression.

"Failure?"

"A failure, my friend."

"But it seemed to be so certain. How did it come to be a failure? "What was the reason, my dear?"

"Let us go home, my friend; I will go with you. We'll talk it over. I will tell you in a few words why it failed: but now let me think; I cannot collect my thoughts yet. We must think up some other plan. Let us not despair; we shall find something."

These last words gave him little hope, but not much.

"Tell me right away; I can't endure to wait. You say, 'Think up some other plan'; then it means that our former plans are impracticable. Can't I be a governess? How poor I am! how unhappy I am!"

"Why deceive you? 'Tis true, you cannot; I wanted to tell you so. But patience, my dear, patience! Be brave. Keep up good heart; whoever keeps up good heart succeeds!"

"Akh! my dear, I keep up good heart, but how hard it is!"

They walked for a few moments in silence. What is it? Why, yes, she is carrying something in her hand under her cloak!

"My dear, you are carrying something; here, let me take it."

"No, no, it's not necessary. It isn't heavy; it's nothing."

Again they go in silence. They go a long way.

"And to think I did not go to sleep till two o'clock out of joy, my friend; and when I went to sleep, what a dream I had! It seemed to me as though I were set free from a stifling cellar, as though I were paralyzed and then cured, and ran out into the field, and so many young girls ran out with me, who, like myself, were set free from stifling cellars, were cured of paralysis; and we were so happy, so happy to run about in the open field! The dream has not been realized; and I did so think that I should not have to go home again!"

"My dear, let me carry your bundle for you, since now I know what it is."

Again they walk in silence. Long they walk in perfect silence.

"My dear, you see as that lady and I tallied the matter over, we came to this conclusion: you cannot leave home without Marya Alekséyevna's consent. 'Tis impossible—no, no, take my arm; I am afraid you are ill!"

"No, it's nothing; only it's stifling under this veil." She drew back the veil. "Now it's all right; I feel better."

"How pale she is!—No, my dear, don't think about what I said. I did not express myself well. We'll arrange everything all right."

"How can we arrange things, my love? You say this only so as to console me. Nothing can be done!"

He has nothing to say. Again they walk in silence.

"How pale, how pale she is!—My dear, there is one way."

"What way, my pet [milui]?"

"I will tell you, my dear; but only when you get a little calmer. You will have to decide about it deliberately."

"Tell me now! I cannot get calm until I know."

"No! now you are too much excited, my dear. Now you could not decide an important question. In a little while. Soon! Here's the front door. Dō svedánya [good by], my dear. As soon as I see that you would give a deliberate answer, I'll tell you."

"When will that be?"

"Day after to-morrow, when I give the next lesson."

"Too long!"

"I will call on purpose to-morrow."

"No, sooner than that!"

"This evening."

"No, I will not let you go! Come in with me now. You say I am not calm; you say I cannot decide. Very well, take dinner with us; you will see that I shall be calm. After dinner mámenka takes a nap, and we can talk."

"But how can I come in? If we come in together, your mámenka's suspicions will be awakened again!"

"Suspicions! what do I care? No, my dear, and for this very reason it would be better for you to come in. We may have been seen, for I walked with my veil up."

"You are right."


XV.

Marya Alekséyevna was greatly surprised to see her daughter and Lopukhóf coming in together. She forthwith proceeded to subject them to the keenest inspection.

"I called to tell you, Marya Alekséyevna, that I have an engagement for day after to-morrow evening, and so I am going to give the lesson to-morrow instead. Permit me to sit down. I am very tired and unwell. I should like to rest."

"Why, what's the matter, Dmitri Sergéitch? Indeed, you look very bad!"

("Is it a love-scrape, or did they meet by chance? If it were a love affair, he'd have been gay. Or can they have fallen in love and quarrelled, because she would not give in to his wishes? Then, of course, he'd have been angry; only, if they'd quarrelled, he wouldn't have escorted her. And then, again, she went straight to her room, she didn't look at him, and there was no signs of a quarrel. No, evidently they must have met by chance. But the deuce knows 'em! Got to watch 'em with both eyes.")

"There is nothing special the matter with me, Marya Alekséyevna; but Viéra Pavlova looked rather pale, or at least I thought so."

"What? Viérotchka? She's often so."

"Well, maybe it only seemed so to me. I must confess that my head swims, it is so full of thoughts."

"Why, what's the matter, Dmitri Sergéitch? You ain't had a fallin' out with you sweetheart, have you?"

"No, Marya Alekséyevna; I am content with my sweetheart! It's her parents that I have to quarrel with."

"What do you mean, bátiushka? Dmitri Sergéitch, how is it possible to quarrel with her parents? I didn't think that of you, bátiushka!"

"It can't be helped, Marya Alekséyevna; it's such a family. They expect a man to do God knows what things beyond his power."

"That's a different thing, Dmitri Sergéitch. You can't satisfy everybody; you've got to set limits, that's a fact. If such is the case, that is, if the quarrel's about money, I can't blame you."

"Allow me to be rude, Marya Alekséyevna; I am so tired that I feel the need of rest in pleasant and estimable society, and such a society I find nowhere except in your house. Permit me to impose myself upon you for dinner to-day, and permit me to give some orders to your Matrióna. It seems to me that Denker's wine-cellar is not very far from here, and his wine is not a God-knows-what kind, but excellent."

Marya Alekséyevna's face, which at the first mention of dinner became black with rage, put off its decided expression when he spoke of Matrióna, and assumed a look of eagerness.

"We will see, golubtchik; will you contribute something towards the dinner? Denker—of course he must have something good."

But the golubtchik, not looking into her face at all, had already taken out his cigar-case, torn off a piece of paper from a letter that had seen long service in it, took out his pencil, and proceeded to write:—

"If I may ask you, Marya Alekséyevna, what kind of wine do you like to drink?"

"I, bátiushka Dmitri Sergéitch, must tell you the truth: I know very little about wines, because I scarcely ever drink; it ain't a woman's business."

"It can be easily seen from your face at a glance that you don't drink. However, be it so, Marya Alekséyevna; even young girls drink maraschino; will you permit me to order it?"

"What kind of wine is that Dmitri Sergéitch?"

"Simple; you might almost say it wasn't wine at all, but only syrup." He took out a "red note" (ten rubles). "There, I guess that'll do!" He ran over his order at a glance. "At all events, I'll make it five rubles more."

("Three weeks' income, a month's support! But it can't be done in any other way. It is necessary to give Marya Alekséyevna a good bribe.")

Marya Alekséyevna's eyes filled with moisture, and involuntarily the sweetest of smiles spread over her face.

"Have you a confectioner near at hand? I wonder if we could find a walnut pirog ready made. According to my taste that's the very best kind of pie, Marya Alekséyevna; but if we can't find any, we'll have to put up with the best we can get."

He went into the kitchen and sent Matrióna to make the purchases.

"Let's have a regular picnic to-day, Marya Alekséyevna. I want to drink away my quarrel with those parents. Why shouldn't we have a picnic, Marya Alekséyevna? I get along first rate with my sweetheart. Shan't we live well, shan't we live happily, Marya Alekséyevna?"

"Yes indeed, bátiushka Dmitri Sergéitch. That's the reason [to-to]; I see that you are so flush with your money, which I never expected of you because you are a man of solid understanding. Evidently you must have had a little advance from your bride's dowry, ain't that so?"

"No, Marya Alekséyevna; but as long as I have money in my pocket, we may as well picnic. What do you mean by the little advance on the dowry? You have to do business in a straightforward way else suspicions'll be aroused. Besides, it is not high-toned, Marya Alekséyevna."

"It ain't high-toned, Dmitri Sergéitch, that's a fact; it ain't high-toned. Accordin' to my idee, one must be high-toned in everything."

"You are right, Marya Alekséyevna."

The half or three-quarters of an hour remaining before dinner time passed in the most amiable conversation of this sort, touching on all sorts of noble sentiments. Dmitri Sergéitch, among other things, declared in a transport of confidence that his marriage would soon take place.

"And how is it about Viéra Pavlovna's marriage?"

Marya Alekséyevna is not able to answer because she is not bringing any pressure upon her daughter. Of course not, but in his opinion Viéra Pavlovna will soon make up her mind to marry; to be sure, she had not told him anything, but he had eyes of his own. "You and I, Marya Alekséyevna, are old sparrows, you know; and we can't be caught with chaff. Though my years aren't so very many, still I'm an old sparrow, a tough roll [kalatch]. Isn't that so, Marya Alekséyevna?"

"Yes, that's so, bátiushka, a tough roll, a tough roll!"

In a word, this pleasant, confidential conversation with Marya Alekséyevna had so enlivened Dmitri Sergéitch that he forgot all about his melancholy. He was livelier than Marya Alekséyevna had ever seen him before. ("What a cute rogue he is! a clever rascal [shelma]! He must have got out of his sweetheart [bride] more than one thousand; and prob'ly her folks found out how he was stuffin' his pockets, and when they went for him, I reckon he tol' 'em:—'No, bátiushka and matushka, I am ready as a son to respect you, but I haven't got any cash, for you.' What a cute rascal, to be sure! It's pleasant to talk with such a man, especially, when finding out that Matrióna has got back you make an excuse to go to your bed-room for a clean handkercher, and peek into the kitchen, and find that she's bought more than twelve rubles' worth of wine. We'll only use a third of it at dinner; and a pirog [pie] which must have cost a ruble and a half. Nu! as far as the pirog goes, you might say 'twas money thrown away. Yet I reckon some o' that'll be left over. It'll be a good thing to treat my cronies with instead of jam. Oh no, it's no loss; it's a gain.")


XVI.

But Viérotchka was sitting in her room.

"Did I do well to make him come in? Mámenka looked so sharply! And what an awkard position I have put him in! How can he stay to dinner? Bozhe moï! what will become of poor me?

"He says there's one way. No, my love, there's no way at all. Yes, there is one way, the window; when it becomes absolutely unendurable, I will throw myself out. How foolish I am! When it becomes unendurable! How is it now? And when you throw yourself out of the window, how quick, quick you fly, not as though you were falling, but as though you really had wings; that must be very delightful. Only—afterwards you strike against the sidewalk—akh! how terribly it must hurt! No, I don't believe you'd have time to feel it; but—only it must be very hard. But it would be over in a twinkling; and then before you struck—how soft the air is—like a feather cushion—it takes you up so gently, so tenderly. No, it must be good. Yes, but what then! Everybody would be gazing; one's skull broken, face torn, in blood, in mud. No, if clean sand could only be scattered over the spot; but down there the sand is all filthy. No, if it were white and clean, it would be good; one's face would not be torn; it would be clean, and not disgust people. And in Paris young girls stifle themselves with coal gas; that's a good idea, a very good idea: but it is not good to jump out of the window. The other's a good way, though. How loud they are talking out there! What are they talking about? No, I can't catch what they are saying. I would leave him a note explaining everything; this is what I told him the other day: 'This is my birthday.' How forward I was! How could I have been so? But then I was foolish, and didn't understand. Yes, how sensible the poor girls are in Paris! Well, can't I be just as sensible? How strange it will be! They'll come into the room; they won't see anything; only there'll be a smell of gas, a greenish tint to the air; they'll be frightened. 'What does this mean? Where is Viérotchka?' Mámenka will scold pápenka: 'What are you standing therefor? Open the window.' They open the window, and see me sitting at my bureau, my head resting on it, and my face in my hands. 'Viérotchka, are you suffocated?' I make no reply. 'Viérotchka, why don't you speak? Akh! she is suffocated!' They'll begin to scream, to weep. Akh! how strange it will be! for them to weep, and for mámenka to begin to tell how she loved me. Yes, but he will be grieved. Well, I'll leave him a note. Yes, I'll think about it, think about it, and do like the poor girls in Paris; if I make up my mind, I shall do it. I'm not afraid! And what is there to be afraid of? It must be so good! But I will wait till he has told me what the plan is that he proposes. But no, there can't be any; he only said so to console me. Why do people try to offer consolation? There's no sense in it at all. Can there be any consolation when there's no help? He is sensible, and yet he does just the same. What did he say so for? There's no sense in it. But what's he talking about? He seems to feel happy. How merry his voice sounds! Has he really thought of some plan? No, there can't be any way whatever. But if he had not thought of something, would he be so happy? What can he have thought of?"


XVII.

"Viérotchka, come to dinner!" shouted Marya Alekséyevna. In fact Pavel Konstantinuitch had returned; the pirog was all ready long ago; it was not the pirog from the confectioner's, but one that Matrióna had made out of the stuffed beef that they had the day before.

"Marya Alekséyevna, do you ever take a glass of vodka before dinner? It's very healthful, especially this kind, made out of bitter oranges; I tell you this as a medical man. Please try it; yes, yes, you must try it! without fail; I, as a doctor, prescribe it for you."

"S'pose I'll have to hearken a doctor; so I'll try half a glass of it."

"No, Marya Alekséyevna; half a glass won't do you any good."

"And how about yourself, Dmitri Sergéitch?"

"I'm growing old, Marya Alekséyevna; I've become steady. I swore off."

"Well, it does kinder warm one through."

"That's where the good comes in, Marya Alekséyevna; it gives you new warmth."

("How gay he is! Is there really something in prospect? And how on earth did he manage to become so friendly with her? And he does not even look at me. Akh! how shrewd he is!")

They sat down to table.

"Now, here we must drink a health to Pavel Konstantinuitch. Let us drink it with this. Ale—it's just the same thing as beer, not any stronger than beer. Try it, Marya Alekséyevna."

"If, as you say, it's beer, why, there's no reason not to drink beer."

("Gospodi (Heavens)! what a lot of bottles! Akh! how silly I am. That's the way she got to be so friendly!")

("What a cunning rascal he is! He himself don't drink. He only touches his ale with his lips! But what excellent ale! It tastes better nor kvas, and it's strong; its got a very good strength. When I get her married off to Mishka, I'll give up vodka and drink nothing but ale. Nu! this fellow'll never loose his head in drink! If he'd only give in to it, the villain! But then, it's for my advantage! I reckon if he wanted to drink tea, he'd drink enough!) You'd ought to drink some yourself, Dmitri Sergéitch."

"Eh! in my day we used to drink a good deal, Marya Alekséyevna. I drank enough to last a long time. When I had no luck, and no money, I used to get drunk; but now I have enough to do, and enough money, I don't need wine; I feel gay enough without it."

And so the entire dinner passed off. They bring on the confectioner's piroq.

"My dear Matrióna Stepanóvna, what goes well with this?"

"I'll bring it right in, Dmitri Sergéitch;" and Matrióna hurries back with a bottle of champagne.

"Viéra Pavlovna, you and I have not taken anything yet; now let us drink 'to the health of my bride and your bridegroom!'"

"What does he mean? Does he really mean that?" thinks Viérotchka.

"May God grant your bride and Viérotchka's bridegroom all happiness," says Marya Alekséyevna; "and to us old folks may He grant to see Viérotchka's wedding right soon!"

"Never you fear; you won't have long to wait, Marya Alekséyevna.—Isn't that so, Viéra Pavlovna? Da!"

"Does he really mean what he says?" thinks Viérotchka.

"Certainly [da]! Viéra Pavlovna; of course she means to marry him! Just say 'yes.'"

"Yes," says Viérotchka.

"That's right, Viéra Pavlovna; why should you keep your mámenka waiting and doubting? 'Yes,' and that settles it. And now we must drink another toast to Viéra Pavlovna's approaching wedding. Drink it, Viéra Pavlovna; don't be afraid! it will be all right. Let us clink glasses 'to your approaching nuptials!'"

They clink glasses.

"God grant it! God grant it! [daï Bog! daï Bog!] Thank you, Viérotchka; you make happy, Viérotchka, in my old age," says Marya Alekséyevna, wiping away her tears. The English ale and the maraschino had brought her into a sentimental state of mind.

"Daï Bog! daï Bog!" echoed Pavel Konstantinuitch.

"How pleased we are with you, Dmitri Sergéitch," says Marya Alekséyevna after dinner was over; "yes, indeed we are pleased. You have been our guest and yet you have treated us! Well, we can well say that you have given us a holiday's entertainment!" Her eyes had a far pleasanter expression than the impudent one that they generally wore.

Not everything results as cleverly as it is cleverly planned. Lopukhóf had not dared to hope for such a result when he bought the wine; he only intended to give Marya Alekséyevna a bribe, so that he might not lose her good will by having invited himself to stay to dinner. Would she have drunk so much before a stranger, even though they had common sympathies, unless she trusted him? But is there any one whom she would trust! And in fact she herself had not intended to yield so soon to the temptation. She meant to postpone her main share in the enjoyment of the good things till after tea. But every human being has his weakness; she could have withstood the vodka and other familiar drinks, but ale and other attractions of the sort led her astray through inexperience.

The dinner passed off in very formal and baronial style, and therefore Marya Alekséyevna ordered Matrióna to set on the samovar, as is customary after baronial dinners. But only she herself and Lopukhóf availed themselves of this luxury. Viérotchka declared that she didn't want any tea, and she went right to her room. Pavel Konstantinuitch, like an ignorant boor, went off to take his nap, as he always did after dinner. Dmitri Sergéitch drank deliberately, and when he had finished one cup, he asked for another. Here Marya Alekséyevna began to feel a bit queer; she excused herself by saying that she had not been well since early morning; the guest begged her not to stand on ceremony and she left him to himself. He drank a second cup and a third, and took a nap in his chair; must have dozed some time, "like our golden one [zoloto]," as Matrióna expressed; and the golden one was already snoring. It must have been her snoring that wakened Dmitri Sergéitch, after Matrióna went into the kitchen for good and all, taking with her the samovar and the cups.


XVIII.

"Forgive me, Viéra Pavlovna," said Lopukhóf, coming into her room. How gently he speaks, and his voice trembles; but at dinner he spoke loud, and he did not call her my dear, but Viéra Pavlovna. "Forgive me for having been impertinent. You know what I said: yes, a husband and wife cannot be separated. Then you are free."

He took her hand and kissed it.

"My dearest, you saw that I wept when you came in; it was out of joy."

Lopukhóf kissed her hand; many times he kissed her hand.

"Here, my dearest, you are freeing me from the cellar; how clever and kind you are. How did you happen to think about it?"

"It was when we first danced together, that I thought about it."

"My dearest, I thought then that you were kind. You are giving me liberty, my dearest. Now I am ready to suffer, now I know that I am leaving the cellar; now it will not be so suffocating for me, now I know that I am already leaving it; but how shall I leave it, my dearest?"

"This is the way, Viérotchka. It is now the end of April. At the beginning of July my work at the medical school will be over. I must graduate, so that we can have the means to live, and then you shall leave your cellar. Endure it only three months, or even less; you shall get out. I shall have the position of surgeon. The salary is not over large; but no matter, I shall have some practice; as much as will be necessary, and we shall get along."

"Akh! my dearest, we shall need but very little. But I do not want it to be so; I do not want to live at your expense. You see I am earning something now by giving lessons; but I shall lose them then, for mámenka will tell everybody that I am an abomination. But I shall find other pupils. I shall begin to live. Now isn't that the right way? Don't you see that I mustn't live at your expense?"

"Who gave you that idea, my dearest friend, Viérotchka?"

"Akh! and now he is asking me who gave me that idea. Why, weren't you yourself always saying this very thing? And in your books—fully half of them say so!"

"In the books? Did I say so? When was it, Viérotchka?"

"Akh! when was it indeed! and who told me that money lay at the root of all things? Who told me that, Dmitri Sergéitch?"

"Well, what of that?"

"And you think that I am such a foolish young girl that I cannot draw a conclusion from premises, to use the words of your books?"

"Well, what conclusions? My dearest friend, Viérotchka, you are talking God-knows-what nonsense."

"Akh! smarty! he wants to be a despot; he wants me to become his slave! no indeed, this cannot be. Dmitri Sergéitch, do you understand?"

"Then you tell me, and I shall understand."

"Money lies at the root of all things, you say, Dmitri Sergéitch; whoever has the money has the might and the right, say your books; consequently, so long as a woman lives at her husband's expense, she will be dependent upon him; isn't that so, Dmitri Sergéitch? You supposed that I did not understand it; that I was going to be your slave. No, Dmitri Sergéitch, I am not going to allow you to be a despot over me! You want to be a benevolent, kind despot, but I will not allow it; but I do not want it to be so, Dmitri Sergéitch! Now, my mílenki [darling], how else can we live? You will cut off people's hands and legs, you will make them drink miserable mixtures, and I will give piano-lessons. And how else should we live?"

"That's right, that's right. Let every one preserve his independence from everybody with all his might, no matter how he loves him, how he trusts him! Whether you will carry out what you propose or not, I do not know; but it makes very little difference: whoever makes up his mind to do a thing of this sort has already built his fort; he already feels that he can get along by himself; that he can refuse the help of others, if necessary, and this feeling is almost enough of itself. What queer people we are, Viérotchka! You say, 'I do not want to live at your expense,' and I am praising you for it! Who else says such things, Viérotchka?"

"No matter if we are queer, my mílenki; what do we care? We shall live according to our own style; it is better for us. How else should we live, mílenki?"

"Viéra Pavlovna, I have proposed to you my ideas about one side of our life; you have condescended to overthrow them altogether with your plan. You have called me a tyrant and a slave-holder; now be kind enough to think yourself how the other parts of our relations shall be arranged. I count it idle to give you the benefit of my thoughts, lest they should be destroyed by you in the same way. My friend, Viérotchka, tell me yourself how we ought to live; in all probability, there will be nothing left for me to say but this, 'My dear [móya milia], how very wise your ideas are!'"

"What is that? Do you mean to give me a compliment? You want to be very polite; but I know too well how people flatter so as to reign under a mask of humility. I beg of you to speak more simply hereafter. My dear [milui moï], you are praising me to death. I am ashamed, my dear; don't praise me, lest I become too proud."

"Very good, Viéra Pavlovna; I will begin to say rough things to you if you like that better. There is so little femininity in your nature, Viéra Pavlovna, that most likely you have nothing but men's thoughts."

"Akh! my dearest, what does that word 'femininity' mean? I understand that a woman speaks in a contralto voice,—a man, in a baritone; but what of that? Is it worth while to bother about our contralto voices? Is it worth while to ask us about such things? Why do people keep telling us that it is our duty to remain feminine? Isn't it a piece of nonsense, dear?"

"It is nonsense, Viérotchka, and a very great piece of triviality."

"So, then, my dear, I shall not bother myself about femininity; now listen, Dmitri Sergéitch, I am going to express in absolutely masculine fashion the way that I think we ought to live. We shall be friends; only I wish to be your principal friend. Akh! I have never told you how I dislike this dear Kirsánof of yours!"

"You must not, Viérotchka; he is a very fine man!"

"But I hate him! I shall forbid your seeing him!"

"That is a fine beginning! She is so afraid of my despotism that she wants to make a doll of her husband. And how can I help seeing him when we live together?"

"You are always sitting together like lovers!"

"Of course. At breakfast and at dinner. When one's hands are always occupied, it is hard to use them like lovers' hands."

"And you are always inseparable!"

"Most likely. He is in his room and I in mine; that means almost inseparable."

"And if that is so, why shouldn't you stop seeing him altogether?"

"Well [da], we are friends; sometimes we want to talk, and we talk, and so far we haven't been burdensome to each other."

"You are always sitting together, hugging and disputing. I hate him."

"What makes you think so, Viérotchka? We have never quarrelled. We live almost separately; we are friends, to be sure; but what of that?"

"Akh! my dearest, how I deceived you, how cleverly I deceived you. You did not want to tell me how we should live together, and yet you have told me everything! How I deceived you! Listen: this is the way we should live according to your idea. In the first place, we shall have two rooms, yours and mine, and then a third room where we shall drink tea, take dinner, receive guests who come to call on both of us! and not on you alone, and not on me alone. In the second place, I must not dare to enter your room lest I bother you. You see Kirsánof does not dare to interrupt you, and so you do not quarrel with him. And it will be the same with mine. That is the second. Now there is a third! Akh! my dearest, I forget to ask you about it. Does Kirsánof interfere with your affairs, or you with his? Have you a right to ask each other about anything?"

"Eh! now I see why you mention Kirsánof; I shall not tell you!"

"No! but I dislike him for all this; and you need not tell me, for it's not necessary. I myself know. You have no right to ask each other about anything. And so, in the third place, I shall have no right to ask you about anything, my dear. If it is necessary for you to tell me about any of your affairs, you will tell me yourself, and vice versa. Here are three rules. What more more is there?"

"Viérotchka, your second rule demands explanations. We shall see each other at tea or dinner in our neutral room. Now imagine such an occasion as this: We have drunk our tea in the morning, I am sitting in my room, and do not dare to show my nose in yours; consequently, I cannot see you till dinner time; isn't that so?"

"Of course."

"Excellent! An acquaintance of mine comes and says, that at two o'clock another acquintance will call on me, but it happens my business calls me away at one. May I ask you to tell that acquaintance who is coming at two the proper answer? may I ask you whether you intend to remain at home?"

"Of course you may. Whether I will undertake it is another question! If I refuse, you have no right to claim it of me; you have no right to even ask why I refuse. But to ask whether I will consent to do you that little service—you shall have that right."

"Excellent! But at breakfast I did not know that he was coming, and I shall not dare to enter your room; how then can I ask the question?"

"O bozhe! how simple he is! a little child! Just listen to him! How he misunderstands me! This is the way you must do, Dmitri Sergéitch. You shall enter the neutral room and say, 'Viéra Pavlovna!' I shall answer from my room, 'What do you want, Dmitri Sergéitch.' You will reply, 'I am going out. In my absence Mr. A. will call (of course you will give me your friend's name); I have some news to tell him; may I ask you, Viéra Pavlovna, to tell him that?' If I answer 'no' our conversation is at an end; but if I say 'yes' I shall come out into the neutral room, and you shall tell me what you want me to tell your friend. Now, my dear little child, you know, don't you, how it will be necessary to act?"

"Yes, my dear Viérotchka, jesting aside, it is much better to live in the way that you propose. Only, who in the world put such ideas into your head? I know them, and I remember where I have read of such things; but such books never come into your hands. In the books which I let you have there were no such ideas. Did you hear them? from whom? I was almost the first person whom you ever met from among respectable people."

"Akh! my dear, is it so very hard to think out such things? I have seen family life,—I am not speaking about my family; my family is so peculiar,—but I have friends, and I have been in their homes. Bozhe moï! what disagreeable scenes between husbands and wives; you cannot imagine them, my dear!"

"Nu! I have no trouble in imagining them, Viérotchka."

"Do you know how it seems to me, my dear? People ought not to live the way they do: always together, always together! They ought not to see each other except on business, or when they come together to rest or have a good time. I am always looking and thinking, why is everybody so polite to strangers? Why do all people try to appear better than they are in their own families? And in fact, before strangers they are better. Why is it? Why do they treat their own people worse than they do strangers, though they love them more? Do you know, my dear, that there is one favor that I want to ask of you,—to treat me as you have always treated me. This has not hindered you from loving me; after all, you and I have been nearer to each other than all the rest. How have you always acted towards me? Have you ever answered rudely? have you ever spoken unkindly? Never! People ask how it is possible to be rude to a woman or a girl who is a stranger; how is it possible to speak harshly to her? So far, so good, my dear; now I am your bride; I am going to be your wife, but you must always treat me as they say it is right to treat a stranger: this, my dear, seems to be better than all else for preserving harmony, for preserving love. So, my dear!"

"I don't know what to think of you, Viérotchka. This is not the first time that you have surprised me."

"My dear [mílenki moï], you want to flatter me to death. No, my friend, it is not as difficult to understand as it may seem to you. Such thoughts are not peculiar to me alone, my dear; they are held by a good many girls and young women, even such simpletons as I am. Only it is impossible for them to tell their bridegrooms or their husbands what they think; they know that if they did, it would be said that they were immoral. I fell in love with you, my dear, because you don't think so. Do you know when I began to love you? It was when we talked together the first time, my birthday; when you said that women were poor, and to be pitied: it was then that I fell in love with you."

"And when did I fall in love with you? That very same day? Do you suppose it was on that very same day when I told you that?"

"How strange you are, dearest [mílenki]! You said that I couldn't guess; but if I should guess, you would begin to praise me again."

"But try to guess for all that!"

"Well, of course it was when I asked whether it was not possible to arrange things so that all people could live comfortably."

"I must kiss your hand again in payment for that, Viérotchka."

"That'll do, my dear; I do not like the habit of kissing women's hands."

"Why not, Viérotchka?"

"Akh! my dear, you yourself know why. What is the good of asking me? Don't ask such questions, my mílenki!"

"Yes, my friend, that is true; one should not ask such questions: it is wrong. I'll ask you only when I do not really know what you mean; and you meant that nobody's hand should be kissed."

Viérotchka laughed heartily.

"Now I forgive you, because I have succeeded in laughing at you. You see, you wanted to examine me, and you yourself did not know the principal reason why it is not well. Nobody's hands should be kissed; that's true: but that was not what I was talking about; not the general rule, but only about the impropriety of a man kissing a woman's hand. This, my dear, ought to be very offensive to a woman; it shows that she is not looked upon as an equal. Women think that a man cannot lower self-respect before a woman; that she is already so much lower than he is, that no matter how much he lowers himself before her, still he does not come down to her level, but is far higher than she is. But you do not think this way, my dear; why, then should you kiss my hand. But listen to what I think, my mílenki, as though we had never been bridegroom and bride."

"Yes, that is true, Viérotchka; it looks very little like it. But what are we then?"

"God knows what we are, my mílenki; or rather it's this way: as though we had been married, long, long ago."

"That's so, my dear, it is true; we are old friends, nothing has changed."

"Only one thing has changed, my mílenki: that now I know that I am coming out from the cellar to enjoy freedom."


XIX.

Thus they talked,—rather a strange conversation for the first one after their engagement,—and they pressed each other's hands, and Lopukhóf went home by himself, and Viérotchka locked the door after him, because Matrióna remained sitting longer than usual in the dining-room, hoping that her "golden one" would snore for a long time to come; and, in fact, her golden one did snore for a long time to come.

When Lopukhóf reached home about seven o'clock he tried to apply himself to work, but he could not collect his thoughts. His mind was occupied not with his work, but he was constantly occupied with the same visions that came to him during the lone walk from the Semyonovsky bridge to the Vuiborgsky ward: naturally with visions of love. Certainly with such visions, but yet not entirely with love and not entirely with visions. The life of a man without means has its prosaic interests, and it was about them that Lopukhóf was also thinking: that is to be taken for granted. He is a materialist, and therefore he thinks only about his interests, and in point of fact, he was all the time thinking about his own interests. Instead of lofty, poetical, and plastic imaginations, such love imaginations as are proper for a coarse materialist occupied his time.

"A sacrifice—, it will be almost impossible to get this out of her head, and this is bad. When you think that you are specially indebted to a person, your relations to this person are apt to be somewhat strained, and she may find this out. Friends may explain to her what a career was before me; and even if friends do not explain this to her, she will find it out for herself. She will say, 'My dear, here you have given up for my sake the career which you anticipated.' Well, I don't mean money, for neither my friends nor she herself will think that I care about that. Well, it's a good thing that she will not say to herself, 'He remained for my sake in poverty when otherwise he might have been rich.' This she will not think; but she may learn that I longed for scientific fame, and that I might have won it. But she will find something to worry about: 'Akh! what a sacrifice he made for my sake!' And I never thought of making a sacrifice; I was never so foolish as to make sacrifices, and I hope I never shall be. I have done what was for my best good. I am not a man to offer sacrifices; and there are no such men in existence. It is a false term; a sacrifice is equivalent to such nonsense as 'top-boots with soft-boiled eggs!' One acts in the way that's most agreeable; now just go ahead and preach this. It is accepted in theory, but when the hard fact comes before a person, he is humiliated. 'You,' he says, 'are my benefactor,' and already the blade has shown itself. 'You,' he says, 'have rescued me from the cellar. How kind you are to me!' Why should I have bothered to set you free, if I myself had not liked to do it? Is it I who set you free, think you? Do you think that I should take all this trouble, unless it had afforded me myself some satisfaction? Maybe I have set myself free; of course. I have. I myself want to live, want to love; do you understand? I am doing everything for myself. Now, how can I manage so as not to arouse this pernicious feeling of gratefulness which would be so trying to her? Well, we'll manage it somehow. She is sensible, and will understand that it is a mere bagatelle. Of course, I did not intend to act this way; I intended to act otherwise. I thought that if she succeeded in leaving her family, we would postpone the thing about two years. In the meantime, I should have succeeded in getting a professorship; my finances would, by that time, have been satisfactory: but it has proved to be impossible. Well, what loss has it been to me? Did I have myself in view when it seemed to me that my money matters must be in order beforehand? What does a man need? A man does not need anything. If he has boots, if he is not out at elbows, if he has shchi [cabbage soup], if he has a warm room, what more does he want? And all this I have; consequently, what loss shall I have? But for a young and pretty woman that is not enough!

"She must have pleasures; she must succeed in society; and for this there will not be money enough. Of course she will not think that she is deprived of these things; she is a sensible, virtuous girl. She will say to herself: 'These things are trifles; it's all nonsense, and I despise them.' And she will despise them. But does it help when a person does not know what he is deprived of, or is even assured that he is not in need of anything. It is an illusion, a fancy. Nature is deadened by reason, circumstances, pride, and is silent, and does not speak aloud about itself to the understanding; and yet while it is silent, it works and undermines life. A young woman, especially a pretty young woman, must not live in that way; it is not agreeable to be dressed worse than others, and to be prevented from shining by being scrimped in means. I am sorry for you, my poor little girl; I thought that something better would be arranged for you. But what do I care? It is my gain. It is a question whether she would consent to marry me two years hence, and now she does."

"Dmitri, come and drink your tea!"

"I am coming."

Lopukhóf went into Kirsánof's room, and on the way he had time to think: "And how true it is that I am always on the first floor! I began with self and ended with self. And why did I begin by calling it a sacrifice? What nonsense! as though I gave up my scientific reputation! as though I gave up my professorship! Is it not all the same? I shall work in the same way; I shall get a professorship just the same, and likewise I shall serve the cause of medicine. It is pleasant to a man who is a theorist to observe how egotism plays with his ideas when he comes to put them into practice."

I intend to forewarn the reader about all things, and therefore I shall tell him not to suppose that this monologue spoken by Lopukhóf contains a mysterious hint on the part of the author as to some important motive in the further development of the relations between Lopukhóf and Viéra Pavlovna. Viéra Pavlovna's life will not be undermined by being deprived of the means of shining in society and of dressing expensively; and her relations to Lopukhóf will not be demoralized by a "pernicious feeling of gratefulness." I am not one of those artists in whose every word is hidden some kind of a spring. I am only relating what people have done and thought. If any kind of an action, conversation, monologue, is necessary for the characterizing of a person or a situation, I relate it, even though it may respond with no results in the further development of my story.

"Now, Aleksandr, you must not complain because I am behind you in our work. I shall be ahead of you."

"Why? Are you through with that young woman's affair?"

"I am."

"Is she going to be a governess at the B.s'?"

"No, she is not going to be a governess. It has been arranged otherwise. She will now be able for a while to live a tolerable life in her own family."

"Well, that's good. It is pretty tough to be a governess. And now, brother, I am done with the optic nerve and I am going to take up the next pair, and how far have you got along?"

"I shall have to finish the work at—." And here came a series of anatomical and physiological terms.


XX.

"It is now the twenty-eighth of April; he said that he should be through by the first of July. Let us say the tenth; but that is not the first. Well, we can take the tenth; or, so as to get nearer, I'll suppose it's the fifteenth. No, I'll take the tenth, after all. Now, how many days are left? To-day should not be counted; there are only five hours of it left. There are two days more in April; May, thirty-one, and two make thirty-three; June, thirty, and thirty-three makes sixty-three; in July ten days; altogether it makes seventy-three. Is that much? Only seventy-three days, and then—freedom! I shall get out of this cellar. Akh! how happy I am! My mílenki! I how cleverly he thought it all out! How happy I am!"

This was on Sunday evening. On Monday came a lesson given instead of Tuesday.

"My dear, my beloved![7] how glad I am to be with you, if only for a minute! Do you know how many days there are left for me to be in this cellar? When will you be done? Will you be done by the tenth of July?"

"Yes, Viérotchka."

"Then I shall have to sit in this cellar only seventy-two days and this evening. One day I have marked off already. See I have made a little calendar just as boarding-school girls and boys do, and I cross off the days. How delightful it is to cross them off!"

"My dear little Viérotchka, my dear![8] Indeed, you have not long to worry along here; two months and a half will quickly pass, and you will be free."

"Akh! how delightful it will be! Only just at present, my dearest,[9] don't always talk with me, and don't look at me; and we must not play on the piano every time you come, either. And I shall not come out of my room every time that you come here; no, I shall not have enough strength of mind for that. I shall come out always, if only for one minute; and I shall look at you so coldly; not fondly at all. And now I am going right away to my room. Good by, my dear.[10] When?"

"Thursday."

"Three days; how long! But then there will be only sixty-eight days left."

"Count less; about the seventh you will be able to get away from here."

"The seventh? Then it is now only sixty-eight days. How happy you have made me! Good by, my dear."


Thursday.—"My dearest,[9] there are only sixty-six days to stay here."

"Yes, Viérotchka; the time flies fast." "Fast? No, my dear. Akh! how long the days seem! Sometimes it seemed to me as though a whole month had dragged along while these three days were passing. Good by, my dearest,[11] we must not talk long; aren't we shrewd? yes? Good by. Akh! only sixty-six remain for me to sit in the cellar.—Hm! hm! it is not so noticeable, of course; when one is at work, time flies. And then I am not in a cellar. Hm! hm! da!"


Saturday.—"Akh! my dearest,[12] only sixty-four days are left. Akh! how gloomy it is here! These two days have seemed longer than those three days. Akh! how gloomy! How miserable it is here; if you only realized it, my dear.[13] Good by, my dear, my sweetheart,[14] till Tuesday; and these three days will seem longer than the last five. Good by, my dear.—Hm! hm! da! hm! her eyes look badly. She does not like to weep. This is not well. Hm! da!"


Tuesday.—"Akh! my dearest,[12] I gave up counting the days. They don't pass,—they don't pass at all."

"Viérotchka, my little friend, I have a favor to ask of you. We must have a nice little talk together. You are anxiously longing for freedom. Well, give yourself a little freedom; we must have a talk together."

"Yes, we must, moï mílenki, we must."

"Then I will ask you how this suits you. What time will it be most convenient for you to-morrow; it does not make the least difference what time, only tell me; be again on that bench of the Konno-Gvardiesky Boulevard. Will you?"

"I will be there, moï mílenki, without fail. At eleven o'clock; is that right?"

"Very well; thank you, little friend."

"Good by, my dearest.[11] Akh! how glad I am that you have thought about it! How was it that I, myself, foolish little thing that I am, did not think about it? Good by. We will talk; at all events, I shall breathe the fresh air. Good by, mílenki. At eleven o'clock, without fail."


Friday.—"Viérotchka, where are you going?"

"I, mámenka?"

Viérotchka blushed.

"To the Nevsky Prospekt, mámenka."

"Then I am going with you, Viérotchka; I have an errand at the Gostinui Dvor. What did you put on such a dress as that for, Viérotchka, when you say you are going to the Nevsky. You ought to put on a better one when you are going to the Nevsky; folks'll see you."

"I like this dress. Just wait one second, mámenka; I want to get just one thing out of my room."

They start; they go. They reached the Gostinui Dvor. They were going along the block that runs parallel with Sadovaïa Street; they are not far from the Nevsky corner, and here is Ruzanof's shop.

"Mámenka, I have two words to tell you."

"What is the matter with you, Viérotchka?"

"Good by, mámenka. I don't know whether we shall meet again soon. If you don't get angry, it'll be to-morrow."

"What is it, Viérotchka? I cannot understand it, somehow?"

"Good by, mámenka; I am going to my husband. Dmitri Sergéitch and I were married three days ago. Drive to Karavannaïa Street, Izvoshchik."

"A quarter, lady."

"All right; only be quick about it. He will call upon you this evening, mámenka; and don't get angry with me, mámenka."

These words hardly reached Marya Alekséyevna's ears.

"Don't drive to Karavannaïa Street; I only said so as to get away from that lady as quickly as I could. Go to the left[15] down Nevsky. I must go much further than Karavannaïa Street, to the Vasilyevsky Island, the fifth block behind the Middle Prospekt. Drive fast; I will give you a good fee."

"Akh! lady, you were pleased to fool me. You'll have to give me half a ruble."

"If you drive fast."


XXI.

The wedding had been managed in simple, and yet far from common fashion.

Two days after the conversation which resulted in their engagement, Viérotchka was delighted at her approaching freedom. On the third day the "cellar," as she called it, seemed twice as intolerable as before; on the fourth day she wept, which was contrary to her liking, but she did not weep much; on the fifth day she wept more; on the sixth day she did not weep at all, but she could not sleep from sorrow.

Lopukhóf looked on, then he spoke the monologue beginning "Hm! hm!" He looked a second time and spoke the monologue "Hm! hm! da, hm!" At the first monologue he had a dim suggestion of an idea, but he was not sure what it was; at the second monologue he saw plainly in his mind what he imagined at the first. "It does not do to offer a person freedom and then leave him in prison." After that he thought steadily for two hours,—an hour and a half on his way from Semyonovsky bridge to Vuiborgsky, and half an hour on his sofa. The first quarter of an hour he thought without wrinkling his forehead; the remaining hour and three quarters he wrinkled his forehead; at the end of the two hours he struck his forehead, and using worse words than Gogol's postmaster Telyatin (the calf), looked at his watch, and saying, "Ten o'clock, yes, there is time yet" left the room.

During the first quarter of an hour, when his brow was smooth, this was what he thought, "It's all nonsense; why should I graduate? I shall not be ruined if I don't get a diploma, and it is not necessary. By lessons and translations I shall not make less; I shall make even more than if I had become a doctor; bagatelles!"

Consequently there was no need of wrinkling his brow; to tell the truth, the task did not appear to be of a head-splitting nature, partly because that from the first lesson he had anticipated something in the nature of his present resolution. He now perceived this. And if any one had reminded him of his arguments that began with the theme 'sacrifice' and ended with the thought of fine dresses, one might have proved to him that something in the nature of these circumstances was anticipated from that very time, because otherwise there would be no sense in the words "to renounce my scientific career." At that time it seemed to him that he was not going to renounce it, but instinct was already saying, "Renounce it; there will be no postponement!" And if any one had proved to Lopukhóf, as to a practical thinker, that there was no ground then for his renunciation, he would have triumphed as a theoretical man, and would have said: "Now here is a new example for you of how egotism rules our thoughts (for I ought to have seen, but I did not see, for I was trying to look in another direction), and rules our actions; for why did I make the girl stay in her 'cellar' a week longer, when the matter ought to have been foreseen and provided for long ago?"

But he remembered nothing of that kind, and it did not occur to him because he had to wrinkle his forehead, and while wrinkling it to think for an hour and three-quarters on the question, "Who will marry us?" and there was only one answer all the time, "There is no one to marry us." But suddenly in place of the answer, "No one to marry us," the name of Mertsálof came into his head; then it was that he struck himself on the forehead and swore with good reason. "How is it possible that I did not think of Mertsálof at the very beginning?" And to a certain degree he was wrong in his wonder; he was not accustomed to think of Mertsálof as of a man who marries.

In the medical school there are a good many people of all kinds; there are among them some seminarists; these men have acquaintances in the theological seminary, and through them Lopukhóf had also made acquaintances there. One of the students whom he knew at the theological seminary—not an intimate, but a friend—had graduated a year ago and had become a priest, and was living in a certain building with endless corridors on the Vasilyevsky Island. To him Lopukhóf went, and as it was an extra occasion and a late hour, he took an izvoshchik.

Mertsálof was sitting alone in his room, and was reading some new book—possibly by Louis XIV., or some one else of the same dynasty.

"Such and such is the state of things, Alekséi Petróvitch: I know that it is a very serious risk for you to undertake; it is right enough if we get reconciled with the parents, but suppose they begin a law-suit? There may be some trouble for you, and there probably will be; but—"

Lopukhóf could not find in his mind anything to attach to his "but," for how in the world can you persuade a man to put his neck for your sake into a noose?

Mertsálof was also in a quandary, and tried hard to find a "but" which would authorize him to run such a risk, and he had no better success in getting beyond the "but."

"How can we arrange this matter? I should certainly like to. What you are doing now, I did a year ago, and I gave up my liberty just as you are going to do! I have some scruples, but I must help you out of it. Yet when one has a wife, it is rather dangerous to go ahead without precaution."

"How are you? good evening, Alósha: all my people send their best regards to you. How are you, Lopukhóf; we haven't seen you for a long time. What is this that you are speaking here about a wife? Oh, yes, the wives are always to blame!"

This was said by a young married woman of about seventeen who had just come in from a visit to her parents; she was a pretty and lively blondinka.

Mertsálof told his wife about the state of things. The young woman's eyes flashed.

"Alósha, they will not eat you up!"

"There is a risk, Natasha!"

"A very large risk," said Lopukhóf in corroboration.

"Well, what can be done? you must run the risk, Alósha, I beg of you."

"If you will not blame me, Natasha, for not taking you into account in running into this danger, then that settles it. When do you want to got married, Dmitri Sergéitch?"

In point of fact all hindrances were set aside. On Monday morning Lopukhóf said to Kirsánof:—

"Do you know, Aleksandr, that I am going to make you a present of my half of our work. Take my papers and preparations; I give it all up; I am going to leave the medical school; this is my last request! I am going to be married!"

Lopukhóf told him the whole story in a few words.

"If you were stupid or I were stupid, I should tell you, Dmitri, that this is the way that insane men act. But now I shall not say any such thing. All the objections that I could raise you must have thought over more than I have done. And even if you have not thought them over, it does not make any difference. Whether you are acting foolishly or wisely I do not know, but at least I shall not attempt to act so foolishly as to dissuade you, when I know that your mind is made up. Can I be of any service or not?"

"I want to find an apartment somewhere in an inexpensive neighborhood—three rooms; and I must make application to get my medical school papers right away, to-morrow, if possible; so you will look us up a house."[16]

On Tuesday Lopukhóf got his papers, went to Mertsálof and said that the wedding would be on the next day. "At what time would be most convenient for you, Alekséi Petróvitch?"

It makes no difference to Alekséi Petróvitch, as he stays at home all day. "I think, though, that I shall have time to send Kirsánof to let you know."

On Wednesday, at eleven o'clock, Lopukhóf went to the boulevard, and after waiting for some time for Viérotchka began to get worried; but here she is, all out of breath.

"Viérotchka, my dear [drūg moï], has anything happened to you?"

"No, mílenki, nothing; I was late only because I overslept."

"That means—what time did you go to bed?"

"Mílenki, I didn't want to tell you; at seven o'clock, mílenki; but I was thinking all night long; no, it was earlier, it was six!"

"I want to ask you about something, my dear Viérotchka: we must get married soon, mustn't we? so that we may both be comfortable?"

"Yes, mílenki, we must; we must very soon!"

"Then in four days, in three—"

"Akh! if it could be so, mílenki; then you would be a smart boy!"

"In three days I will surely find a house; will buy everything for housekeeping, and then will it be possible for us to live in it together?"

"It will, my golubtchik, it certainly will!"

"But it will be necessary to get married first."

"Akh! I forgot, mílenki, that it was necessary to get married first!"

"Well, we can get married to-day; that was the very thing that I wanted to ask you about."

"Let us go right away and get married; and how have you managed everything? What a bright boy you are, mílenki!"

"I will tell you everything on our way; let us go!"

Here they are! they have passed through the long corridors into the church, they have found the sexton, they have sent for Mertsálof; Mertsálof lived in the house where the endless corridors were.

"Now, Viérotchka, I have to ask of you still another favor. You know that they make young couples kiss each other in church?"

"Yes, my mílenki; only how ridiculous it is!"

"Well, lest it should be too ridiculous then, let us kiss each other now."

"Very well, let us kiss each other; but could it not be done without it?"

"Yes, but it is impossible to get along without it in church; so let us prepare ourselves."

They kissed each other.

"Mílenki, it is well that we have had time to prepare ourselves; here comes the sexton; now it will not seem so ridiculous in church!"

But it was not the sexton who came—the sexton did not come till after the diakŏn; it was Kirsánof, who had been waiting for them at Mertsálof's.

"Viérotchka, this is Aleksandr Matvéitch Kirsánof, whom you do not like, and whom you have forbidden me to meet."

"Viéra Pavlovna, what is the reason that you want to separate our tender hearts?"

"For the very reason that they are tender," said Viérotchka, giving Kirsánof her hand and still smiling; then she fell into thought. "But shall I be able to love him as well as you do? You love him very dearly, don't you?"

"I? I love no one but myself, Viéra Pavlovna!"

"And you don't love him?"

"We have lived together, and we have never quarrelled; isn't that enough?"

"And hasn't he loved you either?"

"I never observed anything of the sort. However, let us ask him.—Have you ever loved me, Dmitri?"

"I never particularly despised you!"

"Well, if that is the case, Aleksandr Matvéitch, I shall not forbid your meeting, and I myself will love you!"

"Now that is much better, Viéra Pavlovna."

"And now, I, too, am ready," said Alekséi Petróvitch, coming in. "Let us go into the church." Alekséi Petróvitch was gay and full of jests; but when the ceremony began, his voice trembled, "Suppose it should result in a lawsuit? Natasha, you must go back to your father; your husband does not support you, and it is a wretched life to have a husband alive, and to live on your father's bread!" However, after several words, he again regained complete control of himself.

When the service was half over, Natalia Andréyevna, or Natasha, as Alekséi Petróvitch called his wife, invited the young people to come to her house after the ceremony; she had prepared a little breakfast. They came in, they laughed, they even danced two quadrilles with two couples: they also waltzed. Alekséi Petróvitch, who could not dance, played the violin for them; an hour and a half flew by quickly and unnoticed. It was a gay wedding.

"I think that they must be waiting dinner for me at home," said Viérotchka, "it is about time.—Now, my mílenki, I shall be able to live three or four days in my cellar without being melancholy, and possibly even more. Why should I worry now? There is nothing for me to fear now. No, don't go home with me; I am going all alone by myself, so as not to be seen by anybody."

"It's all right; they will not eat me up; don't worry, gentlemen," said Alekséi Petróvitch, as he escorted Lopukhóf and Kirsánof to the door, who had remained for a few minutes, so as to give Viérotchka a chance to get out of sight. "I am very glad now that Natasha encouraged me!"

On the following day, after a four days' hunt, a good house was found, at the farther end of the fifth block on the Vasilyevsky Island. Having all in all one hundred and sixty rubles in reserve, Lopukhóf concluded, with his friend, that it would be impossible for him and Viérotchka to think as yet of attempting to keep house, or to have their own furniture and dishes; and therefore they rented three rooms, together with furniture, dishes, and board, from an old man, who quietly spent his days, with a little stock of buttons, ribbons, pins, and other things, at the fence on the Middle Prospekt, between the first and second blocks; while his evenings were passed in quiet conversation with his old woman, who, for her part, spent her days in mending hundreds and thousands of old things of every sort, brought to her in bundles from the Pushing Market. The servants also belonged to the landlord; in other words, they were the landlord and landlady themselves.

All this cost them thirty rubles a month. At that period—ten years ago (1853)—the times were not so hard in Petersburg, judged by the Petersburg standard. With such an arrangement, their means would last for three or even four months. Ten rubles a month is enough for tea, isn't it? and in four months Lopukhóf hoped to find pupils, some kind of literary work, or even some kind of occupation in a mercantile office,—he did not care what. On the very day when the house was found (and, indeed, the house was a very good one; they looked out for that, and therefore they found what they wanted), Lopukhóf, while he was giving his lesson on Thursday, as usual, said to Viérotchka:—

"To-morrow you can come to me, my dear; here is the address. I shall not say anything more now, lest they may notice something."

"My mílenki, you have saved me!"

Now, how to leave the house. Shall they confess what they have done? Viérotchka thought seriously about doing so; but her mother might lay violent hands on her, and might even lock her up. Viérotchka concluded to leave a letter in her room. When Marya Alekséyevna heard that her daughter was going to the Nevsky Prospekt, and said that she was going too, Viérotchka went back to her room, and took the letter; it seemed to her that it was better, more honorable, if she herself told her mother to her face; for on the street her mother would not attempt to beat her, and it would only be necessary to stand at a distance from her while speaking, to take an izvoshchik as soon as possible, and then drive off before she had time to catch her by the sleeve.

In such a manner the effective scene came about at Ruzanof's store.


XXII.

But we have had only one-half of this scene.

For about a moment,—no, rather less,—Marya Alekséyevna, who had suspected nothing of the kind, stood thunder-struck, endeavoring to understand, and absolutely failing to understand, what her daughter had said, what it meant, and how it came about; but it was only for a moment, or even less. She came to herself with a start. She uttered some objurgation or other; but her daughter was already far down the Nevsky. Marya Alekséyevna dashed several steps in her direction. "Must take an izvoshchik." She turned to the sidewalk.

"Izvoshchik!"

"Where do you want to go, lady?" Where did she want to go? she heard her daughter say, "To Karavannaïa Street"; but her daughter turned to the left down the Nevsky. Where does she want to go?

"I want to overtake her yonder, that beast!"

"To ketch some one? Speak sense; where do you want to go? How can I go without any directions? And you hain't given me any idea."

Marya Alekséyevna entirely lost control of herself, and she began to berate the izvoshchik.

"You are drunk, baruina; that's all there is of it," said the izvoshchik, and left her. Marya Alekséyevna ran after him, still scolding, and she shouted at the other izvoshchiks, and she dashed in all directions for some time, and she gesticulated with her hands, and then she went back under the colonnade, and she kicked and she acted like a mad woman; and around her were gathered half a dozen rude fellows, who had been peddling various articles around the columns of the Gostinui Dvor. The fellows were laughing at her, and they exchanged among themselves words of more or less unfavorable character, and they praised her ironically, and they offered her their advice to be calm.

"Ay! da! baruina! how early you managed to get full! lively baruina!"

"Baruina! ah! baruina! buy half a dozen lemons of me; they are good to take when you're tipsy; I'll let thee have them cheap."

"Baruina! ah! baruina! don't listen to him; a lemon won't do you the least good; but go and take a nap."

"Baruina! ah! baruina! you're a good hand at scolding; let's get up a scolding match, and see who'll beat!"

Marya Alekséyevna, not knowing at all what she was about, boxed the ears of one of the nearest of her interlocutors,—a fellow of seventeen, who, not without grace, was stretching out his tongue at her; his hat flew off, and his hair was right at hand. Marya Alekséyevna got her fingers into it. This act roused the rest of her interlocutors into a state of indescribable enthusiasm.

"Ay! baruina! give it to him!" Others shouted:—

"Fyedka! give it back to her in small change!"

But the majority of the interlocutors were on Marya Alekséyevna's side.

"How can Fyedka stand up to her?"

"Give it to him, baruina! knock Fyedka down! He deserves it, the rascal."

A good many spectators had now collected besides the interlocutors, both izvoshchiks, and the clerks of the shops, and the passers-by. Marya Alekséyevna, as though coming to her senses, and with a final mechanical motion pushing away Fyedka's head, started across the street. The enthusiastic praises of her interlocutors accompanied her.

She saw that she was on the way home after she had passed the doors of the "School of Pages"; she took an izvoshchik and reached home in safety. Finding Feódor at the door, she gave him a beating; she rushed to the cupboard; she pounded Matrióna, who came out to see what made the noise; again she rushed to the cupboard; she dashed to Viérotchka's room, then she rushed back again to the cupboard; once more she dashed to Viérotchka's room, and remained there a long time; then she made a tour of all the rooms, scolding, but finding no one on whom to lay her hands. Feódor had run to the rear stairs; Matrióna, who was looking through the crack of Viérotchka's room, frightened out of her wits, ran back when she saw that Marya Alekséyevna was getting up. She lost her head, and could not find her way to the kitchen, but found herself instead under Marya Alekséyevna's bed, where she remained in safety until she was called out under a flag of truce.

Whether it was a long or short period that she was scolding and shouting as she walked through the empty rooms, Marya Alekséyevna could never tell; but it must have been long, because when Pavel Konstantinuitch came from his office, he also had a dose both materially and ideally from Marya Alekséyevna. But as everything must come to an end, Marya Alekséyevna cried out, "Matrióna, let us have dinner!" Matrióna saw that the storm was ended; she crept out from under the bed and got dinner.

At dinner Marya Alekséyevna did not scold at all, but she only growled without any intentions of attacking; but only for her own satisfaction; and afterwards she did not take a nap, but sat down alone and did not speak, but was growling. Then she stopped growling and became absolutely silent; finally she cried out:—

"Matrióna! wake the barin, and tell him to come to me!"

Matrióna, who, while expecting orders, did not dare to go into the dining-room or anywhere else, fulfilled the command. Pavel Konstantinuitch appeared.

"Go to the khozyáïka and tell her that our daughter has married that devil because you wished her to. Tell her, 'It was against my wife's will.' Tell her that you did so, so as to please her ladyship, because you saw that it was not her ladyship's wish. Tell her, 'My wife was alone to blame, and I only carried out your ladyship's will.' Tell her, 'I myself brought them together.' Do you understand or not?"

"I understand you, Marya Alekséyevna. You are very wise in your plan."

"Well then, go along with you! Even if she is eating her dinner, don't mind; call her right out! Bring her from the dinner-table! so long as she does not know the real truth."

The assurance of Pavel Konstantinuitch's words was so impressive that the khozyáïka would have believed him even if he had not possessed the gift of a persuasive tongue. But the impressiveness of this gift was so great that the khozyáïka would have forgiven Pavel Konstantinuitch, even if there had not been substantial proofs that he had constantly acted against his wife, and purposely brought Viérotchka and Lopukhóf together, in order to block the "ignoble marriage" of Mikhaïl Ivanuitch. But how did they get married? Pavel Konstantinuitch was not stingy in giving her a dowry. He had given Lopukhóf five thousand rubles in cash, and he had given the marriage and all its cost at his own expense. Through him the young people had exchanged little notes. They had met at the house of his colleague, the natchalnik Filantyef, "a married man, your ladyship. Although I am a man of little account, the maiden honor of my daughter, your ladyship, is dear to me. They met in my presence; and although we have not money enough to justify giving a boy of the age of ours a tutor, yet I hired one for an excuse, your ladyship," etc., etc. His wife's unreliability Pavel Konstantinuitch depicted in the darkest colors.

How then could she help being convinced and forgiving Pavel Konstantinuitch? And the main thing—what a great and unexpected piece of happiness! Joy softens the heart. The khozyáïka began her speech of forgiveness with a very long explanation of the thoughts and actions of Marya Alekséyevna, and at first asked Pavel Konstantinuitch to send his wife away; but he implored her, and she herself acknowledged, that it was rather for show than because she meant it. Finally it was decided that Pavel Konstantinuitch should retain his place as manager; that they should give up their rooms facing the street and take another suite in the back of the building, on condition that his wife should not dare to show her face in those places on the first dvor where the khozyáïka's eyes might fall; and that she should be obliged to go out of doors, when she went at all, by a staircase that lay far from the khozyáïka's windows. From the twenty rubles a month that had been added to his salary, fifteen rubles should be taken back and five rubles would be left to him for a compensation for the manager's energy in the khozyáïka's interests and towards the expenses of his daughter's wedding.


XXIII.

Marya Alekséyevna had a number of schemes in mind as to the way to act towards Lopukhóf when he should come in the evening. The most revengeful was to hide two dvorniks in the kitchen, who at a given signal should throw themselves on Lopukhóf, and beat him to death. The most pathetic was solemnly to pronounce with her own lips, aided by Pavel Konstantinuitch, a parental curse on their disobedient daughter and on him, their murderer, with an explanation that the curse was valid,—even the earth, as is well known, does not receive the dust of those who are cursed by their parents. But this belonged to the same category of imaginations as the khozyáïka had, in regard to separating Pavel Konstantinuitch from his wife; for such schemes, like any other poetry, have no practical application, properly speaking, except to relieve the heart, by furnishing a framework for endless thoughts in solitude, and for other explanations, when, by and by, she should come to speak about it; as, for example, he or she might have done this or that, and he or she intended to do so, but, owing to his or her kindness, he or she felt grieved to do so.

The plan of beating Lopukhóf and cursing her daughter were the ideal part of Marya Alekséyevna's thoughts and feelings. But the actual part of her mind and soul took a direction not so lofty, but more practical; and this difference is attributable to the inherent weakness of every human being. When Marya Alekséyevna came to her senses, at the gates of the "School of Pages," she comprehended that her daughter had really disappeared, was married, and had left her for good and all; and this fact came before her imagination in the form of the following mental exclamation, "She has robbed me!" And all the way home she kept exclaiming mentally, and sometimes even audibly, "She has robbed me!" And, therefore, while she was detained for several minutes by the process of communicating her grievance to Feódor and Matrióna, through human weakness,—every human being is carried away, by the expression of feeling, to such an extent that he often forgets, in the excitement of the spirit, the interests of the moment,—Marya Alekséyevna ran into Viérotchka's room, peeked into the drawers of her bureau, into her wardrobe; she cast a hasty glance over everything; no, apparently everything is untouched. And then she began to confirm this reassuring impression by a careful examination. The result was that really all her dresses and things remained there, with the exception of a pair of simple gold ear-rings, and an old white mousseline dress, and an old cloak, which Viérotchka wore when she went away. As regarded the practical direction in which Marya Alekséyevna's acts would take, she expected that Viérotchka would give Lopukhóf an inventory of her things, which he would ask for; and she firmly decided that she should give her nothing from among her possessions of gold and the like, that she would give her four of the simplest of her dresses, and some of the thinnest and oldest of her underwear. To give her nothing was impossible, since her noble generosity would not allow it; and Marya Alekséyevna had always been very strict in her observance of noble generosity.

Another question of actual life was her relation to the khozyáïka; we have already seen that Marya Alekséyevna successfully solved the answer to it.

Now, there is a third question, "What can be done with the hussy and the rascal?" that is, with her daughter and her unexpected son-in-law. Curse them? that is not hard: but it is useless, except as a dessert after something substantial. Only how is this substantial something possible? To lodge a complaint, to bring about a lawsuit, to have them arrested! At first, when her feelings were all stirred up. Marya Alekséyevna looked upon this solution of the question from an ideal standpoint, and ideally it seemed to her very delightful. But, in proportion as her blood grew calmer, after the weariness of the storm, the matter began to appear in a different light. Nobody knew better than Marya Alekséyevna that lawsuits are conducted through the agency of money, and money alone; and such cases as charmed her by their ideal beauty are conducted through the agency of large, very large, sums of money, and they are dragged out unendingly, and, after wasting a great deal of money, they often come to nothing in the end.

"What is to be done [tchto dyélat]?" At the final upshot it seemed that there were only two courses to take: to quarrel with Lopukhóf to her heart's content, and to retain Viérotchka's things when he demanded them, and, as a means of doing that, to threaten him with a lawsuit. But she certainly must quarrel to her full sweetness.

But she did not succeed in quarrelling. Lopukhóf came, and began by saying, "Viérotchka and I ask you, Marya Alekséyevna and Pavel Konstantinuitch, to forgive us for taking this step without your consent."

On hearing this, Marya Alekséyevna cried, "I shall curse her, the good-for-nothing!"

But, instead of saying the whole word "good-for-nothing," Marya Alekséyevna had only time to say "good-for-n—," because Lopukhóf interrupted her, in a loud voice: "I shall not listen to your abuse; I came to speak about business. You are angry, and you cannot speak calmly, and so I will talk only with Pavel Konstantinuitch; and, Marya Alekséyevna, you send Feódor and Matrióna to call us when you get calmed down."

While saying this, he started to lead Pavel Konstantinuitch from the parlor into his bed-room; and he spoke so loud that there was no chance of out-crying him, and therefore she was obliged to stop off short.

He took Pavel Konstantinuitch to the parlor door; here he stopped, turned around, and said: "And now, Marya Alekséyevna, I am going to talk with you; but only about business, and it must be calmly."

She was about to lift her voice a second time, but he interrupted her again, "Nu, if you can't speak calmly, then we shall leave you."

"Now, what makes you go out, you fool [durak]? "she shouted.

"Well, he is leading me out!"

"And if Pavel Konstantinuitch did not choose to speak calmly, then I would leave; it would not make any difference to me. But why should you, Pavel Konstantinuitch, allow yourself to be called such names? Marya Alekséyevna does not understand business; she really thinks that she can do anything that she pleases with us; but you are a tchinovnik, you are a man of experience; you of course understand propriety. You tell her that she cannot do anything with Viérotchka now, and still less with me."

"The rascal must know that nothing can be done to him," thought Marya Alekséyevna, and she said to Lopukhóf that, being her mother, she was excited at first, but now she could speak coolly.

Lopukhóf returned with Pavel Konstantinuitch; they sat down. Lopukhóf asked her to listen until he should finish what he had to say, and to postpone what she had to reply, and then he began to speak, lifting his voice powerfully whenever she attempted to interrupt him, and thus he finished his speech in safety. It was to this effect: that it was impossible to untie them, and therefore the case of Storeshnikof was beyond recall; "as you know yourself; consequently it will be idle for you to take the trouble. However, do as you please; If you have extra money, I even advise you to try it; and, then, again there is hardly any reason for being vexed, because Viérotchka never wanted to marry Storeshnikof; consequently, this case was always beyond realization, as you yourself have seen, Marya Alekséyevna; and young girls must certainly marry, and, as a general thing, they are lost to their parents. It would be necessary to give a dowry, and then a wedding itself would cost a good deal of money; but the main thing is the dowry; consequently, Marya Alekséyevna, you and your husband ought to be thankful to your daughter for marrying without causing you any expense." He spoke in this style, and he spoke with such detail that it took him a good half-hour.

When he finished, Marya Alekséyevna saw that there was no use in bulldozing such a rogue, and therefore she began to speak about her feelings: how she was particularly grieved that Viérotchka should have married without asking her parents' consent, because it was very painful for a mother's heart. Now, when a thing touches a mother's feelings and grievances, then, naturally, the conversation takes a turn, as though it were impossible not to speak about them: this, propriety demands. Now they have satisfied propriety,—they have spoken about this interesting fact. Marya Alekséyevna has said that, as a loving mother, she was grieved; Lopukhóf has said that she, as a loving mother, had no need of being grieved; and having fulfilled the measure of propriety, by a discourse of suitable length about feelings, they took up another point, also demanded by propriety, to wit: that she had always wished her daughter to be happy. This was said on one side; and on the other side the reply was made that this was a thing that could never be doubted. When the conversation had been prolonged to a suitable length on this point also, they began to take leave of each other, also with explanations of such a length, as is demanded by propriety among gentlefolk, and the result of it all proved that Lopukhóf, understanding the sorrow of a mother's heart, did not ask Marya Alekséyevna's consent for her daughter to come to see her, because, maybe it would be hard for a mother's heart; but when Marya Alekséyevna should have heard that Viérotchka was living happily, which, of course, was Marya Alekséyevna's sole desire, then her maternal heart would be entirely calmed; consequently, then she would be able to see her daughter without being grieved.

Thus they came to this wise conclusion, and separated peacefully.

"Well, he's a keen one,"[17] said Marya Alekséyevna to herself, as she escorted her son-in-law to the door.

That night she dreamed a dream of this nature: she was sitting at the window, and saw on the street an elegant carriage passing along the street, and the carriage stopped, and from the carriage stepped a handsomely dressed lady and a man, and they came into her room, and the lady said, "Look, mamasha, how well my husband dresses me!" and this lady was Viérotchka. And Marya Alekséyevna seemed to see that the stuff of which the dress was made was of the very best, and Viérotchka said: "The material alone cost five hundred silver rubles, and that is a trifle for us, mamasha; and I have a whole dozen of dresses like this! and this, mamasha, cost more,—here, look at my fingers!" Marya Alekséyevna looked at Viérotchka's fingers; and on her fingers were rings with large diamonds. "This ring, mamasha, is worth two thousand rubles; and this one here, mamasha, cost more,—four thousand rubles,—and look at my breast, mamasha! this brooch cost still more; it is worth ten thousand rubles!" And then the gentleman spoke,—and the gentleman was Dmitri Sergéitch: "All these are mere trifles for us, dear mámenka Marja Alekséyevna; but the thing of the most importance is here in my pocket. Look, dear mámenka, at my pocket-book! How fat it is! there are nothing but hundred-ruble notes in it, and I am going to make you a present, mamasha, of this pocket-book, because it is a trifle to us. But this other pocket-book is still fatter, dear mámenka; I do not give it to you, because it has no paper money, but only bonds and mercantile notes, and every bond and note is worth more than the whole pocket-book which I just gave you, dear mámenka Marya Alekséyevna."

"You have succeeded, dear son Dmitri Sergéitch, in making my daughter and all our family happy; but where in the world, my dear son, did you get so much wealth?" "I, dear mamasha, became a monopolist!"

And while she was awaking from her dream, Marya Alekséyevna thinks to herself, "Indeed, it would be a good thing if he became a monopolist!"


XXIV.

A WORD OF PRAISE FOR MARYA ALEKSÉYEVNA.

You have ceased to be a person of any importance in Viérotchka's life, Marya Alekséyevna, and now that we are going to part from you, the author of this narrative begs you not to complain, that you are dismissed from the stage with an epilogue which is somewhat unfavorable to you. Do not think that we will treat you without due respect. You were fooled, but that does not in the least lessen our respect for your good sense, Marya Alekséyevna; your mistake does not testify against you. You were thrown in contact with people such as had never before crossed your path, and therefore it was no crime that you were mistaken in them when you judged them by your former experience. All your former life brought you to the conclusion that people were divided into two classes,—fools and rascals: "Whoever is not a fool must be a rascal," you used to think; "and he who is not a rascal can only be a fool."

This view was very true, Marya Alekséyevna, until within a very short time, Marya Alekséyevna. You have met with people, Marya Alekséyevna, who spoke very glibly, and you saw that all these people, without a single exception, were either foxy, throwing dust in the eyes of others, or full-grown stupids, not knowing life and not having the wit to accommodate themselves to circumstances. And therefore, Marya Alekséyevna, you considered them as evincing stupidity and fair game for deceit, and you were right, Marya Alekséyevna. Your opinion of men was already entirely formed when you met the first woman who was neither stupid nor villanous; it was excusable that you got confused and did not know what to think of her or how to treat her. Your views of people were already entirely formed when you met the first noble-minded man, who was not a simple, pitiable child, who knew life as thoroughly as you did, whose judgments of it were not less correct than your own, who could transact business with no less skill than you; it was excusable that you were mistaken in him and looked upon him as a scoundrel like yourself. These mistakes, Marya Alekséyevna, do not lessen my regard for you as a clever and active woman. You brought your husband up from nothingness; you have gained for yourself a competency against your declining years,—these are good things, and they were hard for you to accomplish. Your method was bad, but your environment gave you no other method. Your methods belong to your environment, and not to you personally, and hence it is not to your dishonor, but it is a credit to your intellect and strength of character.

Are you satisfied, Marya Alekséyevna, with this acknowledgment of your good qualities? Of course you must be satisfied with this, because you never thought of claiming to be lovely or gentle. In a moment of involuntary frankness, you yourself confessed that you were a bad and dishonorable woman, and you did not look upon your wickedness and dishonesty as disgraceful to you, because you proved that your environment would not allow you to be otherwise. Consequently, you will not care, because in addition to the praise of your intellect and strength of character no praise has been bestowed upon you for your good qualities; you yourself don't claim to have them, and you do not look upon them as worth having, but rather you regard them as characteristic of stupidity. Consequently you will not ask further praise than what I have just given you. But I can say one thing more in your favor: of all the people whom I do not like, and with whom I do not like to have business, I would rather deal with you than all the rest. Of course you are unmerciful wherever it affects your advantage; but if you have no advantage in doing anybody harm, you will not do it out of stupid little spitefulness. You consider that it is not worth while to lose time, labor, and money without return. Of course you would have been glad to roast your daughter and her husband over a slow fire; but you were able to curb your revengeful inclination and to reason the matter over coolly, and you understood that you had no chance of success in roasting them, and this is a great thing, Marya Alekséyevna, to be able to recognize an impossibility! When you once recognized it you gave up your idea of beginning a lawsuit, since the lawsuit would not punish the people who stirred up your anger; you calculated that those little unpleasantnesses, which a lawsuit would cause them, would bring you yourself into more bother and expense, and therefore you did not begin the lawsuit. If it is impossible to conquer an enemy; if, in causing him a trifling loss you are causing yourself a greater, then you had better not begin the battle; you understood this, and you had the common sense and courage to yield to an impossibility, without unnecessarily causing harm to yourself or anybody else: this, too, was a great thing, Marya Alekséyevna. Yes, Marya Alekséyevna, one can get along with you; you do not indulge in wrath for the sake of wrath, to your own detriment: and this is a very rare and very important quality, Marya Alekséyevna. Millions of people are more injurious to themselves and others than you are, Marya Alekséyevna, even though they may not have that detestable side that you have. You are better than the majority of those who are simply bad, because you are not without reason and are not stupid. I should have been glad to sponge you off from the face of the earth, but I have a certain regard for you: you do harm in no way. Now you are spending your time in mean business because your environment is so constituted, but put you into other circumstances, and you would take delight in being harmless, in being even useful, because you do not want to do any harm without being paid for it, and it were profitable to you, you could do whatever you wanted; consequently, you would act honorably and nobly if it were advisable. You are capable of doing so, Marya Alekséyevna, and you are not to blame because this capability is latent; that instead of doing so, you are acting in a contrary way; but you possess it, and this cannot be said of all. Wretches are capable of doing anything. You are only a bad woman, but you are not hopelessly a wretched woman. You are higher than many, even if judged by the moral standard.

"Are you satisfied, Marya Alekséyevna?"

"What should I be satisfied for, bátiushka. My circumstances are bad, aren't they?"

"That is all right, Marya Alekséyevna!"


  1. "Kolos ot kólosa, nyé sluikhat i gólosa," a Russian proverb, meaning that the ear of corn is so far from its neighbor that the sound of the voice cannot reach from the one to the other.
  2. "Nyé gólodayet i nyé khólodayet," a play upon words, as though he had said, "Know neither gold nor cold."
  3. Dō svidánya, literally, till we meet again.
  4. Literally, "Why are you sitting like a buka?" that is, why are you bent over like the Slavonic letter B? a popular idiom.
  5. In the original the following slap at the selfishness and rascality of the average tchinovik is dealt. The language, not the thought, is a trifle obscure. Kollezhsky secretar is the eighth order of the civil tchin, or order of rank corresponding to major in the army. Kollezhsky sovyestnik is the sixth, corresponding to colonel.

    "When the kollezhsky sekratar Ivanof assures the kollezhsky sovyestnik Ivan Ivanuitch that he is devoted to him soul and body, Ivan Ivanuitch knows by his own experience that devotion of soul and body cannot be expected of anybody, and all the more he knows that in private life Ivanof cheated his father five times, and made a very large profit, and in this respect he even excelled Ivan Ivanuitch, who succeeded in cheating his father only three times; but for all that Ivan Ivanuitch believes that Ivanof is devoted to him; that is, he does not believe him, but he is grateful to him; and, although he does not believe him, yet he allows the dust to be thrown in his eyes. Consequently, he believes, although he does not believe." Which logic is like the old fallacy: One Greek says that all Greeks lie. If all Greeks lie, then he lies; and if he lies, all Greeks tell the truth; therefore be must tell the truth. Then it is true that they lie.
  6. Gdyé Makár telyat gonyaet (Where Makar drives his calves) is a Russian expression, meaning to go to distant places; often used of people sent to Siberia.
  7. Drūg moï, mílenki moï.
  8. Mílenkaïa moya.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Moï mílenki.
  10. Dō svidánya, moï milui.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Dō svidánya, moï mílenki.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Moï mílenki.
  13. Mílenki moi.
  14. Dō svidánya, moï mílui, golubtchik moï.
  15. Po lyévo.
  16. Before entering the medical school or any department of the Russian universities, a student is obliged to deposit with the authorities the certificate of his birth and baptism, and the diploma from the gymnasium (attestat zriélosti). That gives him the authority to teach, and shortens his term of service in the army. Without a diploma from the medical school a man cannot practise medicine.
  17. Nu, razboïnnik, literally, highwayman, murderer.