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

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



"Let us start," said the lady in mourning; but now she was no longer in mourning; a bright pink dress, a pink hat, a white mantilla, and a handsome bouquet. She was not alone, but with Mosolof. Mosolof and Nikítin were sitting on the front seat of the carriage; on the coachman's box was a third youth, and next the lady was a man of thirty years. How old was the lady? Was she only twenty, as she said, and not twenty-five? but this is a matter of conscience if she exaggerates.

"Yes, my dear, I have waited for this day more than two years. When I first got acquainted with him (she indicated Nikítin with her eyes), I only anticipated; but I cannot say that I expected it. It was only a hope; but soon came assurance."

"Excuse me, excuse me," says the reader, and not alone the sapient reader, but every reader, growing more and more astonished as he thinks it over. "For more than two years since she got acquainted with Nikítin!"

"Yes," I say.

"She got acquainted with Nikítin at the same time that she got acquainted with the Kirsánofs and Beaumonts on that sleighing picnic which took place at the end of this winter?"

"Absolutely true," I say.

"What does it all mean? Do you tell about things taking place in 1865?"


"Is it possible? have mercy!"

"Why is it impossible, when I know?"

"That is enough! Who will listen to you?"

"Doesn't it really please you?"

"Whom do you take me for? Of course it doesn't!"

"If you don't care to listen now, of course I must postpone the rest of my story till you are ready to listen; I hope it will be very soon."

April 4 (16), 1863.