Three Portraits by Iván Turgénieff

Translator, Isabel Hapgood

(1840)

"The neighbours" constitute one of the most serious drawbacks to country life. I knew one landed proprietor of the Government of Vólogda, who, at every convenient opportunity, was wont to repeat the following words: "Thank God, I have no neighbours!"—and I must admit that I could not refrain from envying that lucky mortal.

My little village is situated in one of the most thickly-populated governments of Russia. I am surrounded by a vast multitude of petty neighbours, beginning with the well-intentioned and respected landed proprietors, clad in capacious dress-coats, and more capacious waistcoats,—and ending with arrant roysterers, who wear hussar-jackets with long sleeves and the so-called "fimsky" knot on the back. In the ranks of these nobles, however, I have accidentally discovered one very amiable young fellow. Once upon a time he was in the military service, then he retired, and settled down for good and all in the country. According to his account, he served two years in the B*** regiment; but I positively cannot understand how that man could have discharged any duties whatsoever, not only for the space of two years, but even for the space of two days. He was born "for a peaceful life, for rustic tranquillity," that is to say, for indolent, careless vegetation, which, I may remark in parenthesis, is not devoid of great and inexhaustible charms.

He enjoyed a very respectable property: without troubling himself too much about the management of his estate, he spent about ten thousand rubles[16] a year, procured for himself a capital cook (my friend was fond of good eating); he also imported from Moscow the newest French books and journals. He read nothing in Russian except the reports of his overseer, and that with great difficulty. From morning until dinner (if he did not go off hunting), he did not doff his dressing-gown; he sorted over some sketches or other pertaining to the management, or betook himself to the stable, or to the threshing-shed, and indulged in a good laugh with the peasant wives, who rattled their chains, as the saying is, in his presence, out of ostentation. After dinner my friend dressed himself before the mirror with great care, and drove off to some neighbour endowed with two or three pretty young daughters; heedlessly and pacifically, he dangled after one of them, played at blind-man's buff with them, returned home rather late, and immediately sank into heroic slumber. He could not feel bored, because he never devoted himself to absolute inaction, and he was not fastidious as to his choice of occupations, and, like a child, was amused with the smallest trifle. On the other hand, he felt no special attachment to life, and, it sometimes happened, that when it became necessary to outrun a wolf or a fox, he would launch his horse at full speed over such ravines, that to this day I cannot understand why he did not break his neck a hundred times. He belonged to the category of people who evoke in you the thought that they are not aware of their own value, that beneath their external generosity great and mighty passions are concealed; but he would have laughed in your face, if he could have guessed that you cherished such an opinion concerning him; yes, and, I am bound to admit, I think myself that if my friend was haunted in his youth by any aspiration, indistinct but powerful, toward what is very prettily called "something higher," that aspiration had long, long ago calmed down in him and pined away.

He was rather obese, and enjoyed splendid health. In our age, it is impossible not to like people who give little thought to themselves, because they are extremely rare .... and my friend almost completely forgot his own person. However, I have already said too much about him, I think—and my chattering is all the more ill-placed, since he does not serve as the subject of my story. His name was Piótr Feódorovitch Lutchínoff.

One autumn day, five of us thorough-going sportsmen had assembled together at Piótr Feódorovitch's. We had spent the entire morning in the fields, had coursed two wolves and a multitude of hares, and had returned home in the ravishingly-agreeable frame of mind which invades every well-regulated man after a successful hunt.

Twilight was descending. The wind was playing over the dark fields, and noisily rocking the naked crests of the birches and lindens which surrounded Lutchínoff's house. We arrived, and alighted from our horses... On the porch I halted and glanced about me: long storm-clouds were crawling heavily across the grey sky; a dark-brown bush was writhing in the wind, and creaking piteously; the yellow grass bent feebly and sadly to the ground; flocks of blackbirds were flying to and fro among the mountain-ash trees, dotted with clusters of bright-scarlet berries;[17] in the slender and brittle branches of the birch-trees tomtits were hopping and whistling; the dogs were barking hoarsely in the village. Melancholy overpowered me .... for which reason I entered the dining-room with genuine pleasure. The shutters were closed; on the round table, covered with a cloth of dazzling whiteness, in the midst of crystal caraffes filled with red wine, burned eight candles in silver candlesticks; a fire blazed merrily on the hearth—and an old, very comely butler, with a huge bald spot, dressed in English fashion, stood in respectful immobility in front of another table, which was already adorned with a large soup-tureen, encircled with a light, fragrant steam. In the anteroom we had passed another respectable man, engaged in cooling the champagne—"according to the strict rules of the art."

The dinner was, as is usual on such occasions, extremely agreeable; we laughed, recounted the incidents which had occurred during the hunt, and recalled with rapture two notable "drives." After having dined rather heartily, we disposed ourselves in broad arm-chairs in front of the fireplace; a capacious silver bowl made its appearance on the table, and, a few moments later, the flitting flame of rum announced to us our host's pleasant intention to "brew a punch."—Piótr Feódorovitch was a man not lacking in taste; he knew, for example, that nothing has such deadly effect on the fancy as the even, cold, and pedantic light of lamps—therefore he ordered that only two candles should be left in the room. Strange half-shadows quivered on the walls, produced by the fitful play of the fire on the hearth, and the flame of the punch .... a quiet, extremely agreeable comfort replaced in our hearts the somewhat obstreperous jollity which had reigned at dinner.

Conversations have their fates—like books (according to the Latin apothegm), like everything in the world. Our conversation on that evening was peculiarly varied and vivacious. In part it rose to decidedly important general questions, then lightly and unconstrainedly returned to the commonplaces of everyday life.... After chatting a good deal, we all suddenly fell silent. At such times, they say, the angel of silence flits past.

I do not know why my companions ceased talking, but I stopped because my eyes had suddenly paused on three dusty portraits in black wooden frames. The colours had been rubbed off, and here and there the canvas was warped, but the faces could still be distinguished. The middle portrait represented a woman, young in years, in a white gown with lace borders, and a tall coiffure of the eighties. On her right, against a perfectly black background, was visible the round, fat face of a good-natured Russian landed proprietor five-and-twenty years of age, with a low, broad forehead, a stubby nose, and an ingenuous smile. The powdered French coiffure was extremely out of keeping with the expression of his Slavonic countenance. The artist had depicted him in a kaftan of crimson hue with large strass buttons; in his hand he held some sort of unusual flower. The third portrait, painted by another and more experienced hand, represented a man of thirty, in a green uniform of the period of Katherine II, with red facings, a white under-waistcoat, and a thin batiste neckerchief. With one hand he leaned on a cane with a gold head, the other he had thrust into his waistcoat. His thin, swarthy face breathed forth insolent arrogance. His long, slender eyebrows almost met over his pitch-black eyes; on his pale, barely-perceptible lips played an evil smile.

"What makes you stare at those faces?"—Piótr Feódorovitch asked me.

"Because!"—I answered, looking at him.

"Would you like to hear the whole story about those three persons?"

"Pray, do us the favour to tell it,"—we replied with one voice.

Piótr Feódorovitch rose, took a candle, raised it to the portraits, and in the voice of a man who is exhibiting wild animals, "Gentlemen!" he proclaimed: "this lady is the adopted daughter of my own great-grandfather, Olga Ivánovna NN., called Lutchínoff, who died unmarried forty years ago. This gentleman,"—pointing to the portrait of the man in uniform,—"is sergeant of the Guards, Vasíly Ivánovitch Lutchínoff, who departed this life, by the will of God, in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety. And this gentleman, to whom I have not the honour to be related, is a certain Pável Afanásievitch Rogatchyóff, who never served anywhere, so far as I am aware. Please to note the hole which is in his breast, in the exact place of the heart. This hole, which is, as you see, regular, and three-cornered, probably could not have happened accidentally.... Now,"—he went on in his ordinary voice,—"please to take your seats, arm yourselves with patience, and listen."

Gentlemen (he began) I descend from a fairly ancient race. I am not proud of my descent, because my ancestors were all frightful spendthrifts. This reproach, however, does not apply to my great-grandfather, Iván Andréevitch Lutchínoff,—on the contrary, he bore the reputation of being an extraordinarily penurious and even miserly man—during the last years of his life, at all events. He passed his youth in Petersburg, and was a witness of Elizavéta's reign. In Petersburg he married, and had by his wife, who was also my great-grandmother, four children—three sons, Vasíly, Iván and Pável (my grandfather), and one daughter, Natálya. In addition to these, Iván Andréevitch took into his family the daughter of a distant relative, a full and nameless orphan,—Olga Ivánovna, of whom I have already spoken. My great-grandfather's subjects were, probably, aware of his existence, because they were in the habit of sending to him (when no particular catastrophe had happened) a very considerable sum in quit-rents;—but they had never beheld his face. The village of Lutchínovko, deprived of the light of its master's countenance, was thriving,—when, all of a sudden, one fine morning, a heavy travelling carriage drove into the village, and drew up in front of the Elder's cottage. The peasants, startled by such an unprecedented event, flocked thither and beheld their master, mistress, and all the pair's offspring, with the exception of the eldest, Vasíly, who had remained in Petersburg. From that memorable day forth, and to the very day of his death, Iván Andréevitch never quitted Lutchínovko. He built himself a house, this very house in which I now have the pleasure of chatting with you; he also built the church, and began to live the life of a landed proprietor. Iván Andréevitch was a man of huge stature, gaunt, taciturn, and extremely slow in all his movements; he never wore a dressing-gown, and no one, with the exception of his valet, had ever seen him with unpowdered hair. Iván Andréevitch habitually walked with his hands clasped behind his back, slowly turning his head at every step. Every day he walked in the long linden alley, which he had planted with his own hands,—and before his death he had the satisfaction of enjoying the shade of those lindens.

Iván Andréevitch was extremely parsimonious of his words; this remarkable circumstance may serve as a proof of his taciturnity—that in the space of twenty years he never said a single word to his spouse, Anna Pávlovna. Altogether, his relations to Anna Pávlovna were of a very strange nature.—She administered all the domestic affairs, at dinner she always sat by her husband's side,—he would ruthlessly have chastised any man who presumed to utter one disrespectful word to her,—and yet he himself never spoke to her, and never touched her hand. Anna Pávlovna was a pale, timid, crushed woman; every day she prayed in church on her knees,[18] and never smiled. It was said that formerly, that is to say, before their arrival in the country, they had lived in grand style; it was said, also, that Anna Pávlovna had broken her marital vows, that her husband had found out about her fault.... However that may have been, Iván Andréevitch, even when he lay dying, did not become reconciled to her. She never left him during his last illness; but he seemed not to notice her. One night, Anna Pávlovna was sitting in Iván Andréevitch's bedroom; he was tortured with insomnia; the shrine-lamp was burning in front of the holy picture; my great-grandfather's servant, Yúditch, concerning whom I shall have a couple of words to say to you hereafter, had left the room. Anna Pávlovna rose, crossed the chamber, and flung herself, sobbing, on her knees before her husband's bed, tried to say something—and stretched out her arms.... Iván Andréevitch looked at her—and shouted in a weak but firm voice: "Man!" The servant entered. Anna Pávlovna hastily rose to her feet, and returned, reeling, to her place.

Iván Andréevitch's children were extremely afraid of him. They grew up in the country, and were witnesses of Iván Andréevitch's strange behaviour to his wife. They all passionately loved Anna Pávlovna, but dared not express their love. She herself seemed to shun them.... You remember my grandfather, gentlemen: to the day of his death, he always used to go about on tiptoe, and he spoke in a whisper .... that 's what habit will do! My grandfather and his brother Iván Ivánovitch were plain, kind, peaceable and melancholy people; my grand'tante Natálya married a coarse, stupid man, as you know, and until her death cherished for him a dumb, servile, sheep-like love; but their brother Vasíly was not like that.

I think I have told you that Iván Andréevitch left him in Petersburg. He was twenty years old at the time. His father confided him to the care of a distant relative, a man no longer young, a bachelor and a frightful Voltairian.

Vasíly grew up, and entered the service. He was small of stature, but well built and extremely agile; he spoke French splendidly, and was renowned for his skill at fighting with the broadsword. He was considered one of the most brilliant young men of the beginning of Katherine II's reign. My father often told me that he knew more than one old woman who could not mention Vasíly Ivánovitch Lutchínoff without heartfelt emotion. Picture to yourself a man gifted with remarkable strength of will, passionate and calculating, patient and daring, secretive to the last degree and—according to the words of all his contemporaries—bewitchingly, enchantingly amiable. He had neither conscience nor good-nature nor honour, although no one could call him a positively bad man. He was selfish—but knew how to conceal his selfishness, and was passionately fond of independence. When Vasíly Ivánovitch used, smilingly, to screw up his black eyes, when he wanted to fascinate any one, they say that it was impossible to resist him—and even people who were convinced of the coldness and hardness of his spirit more than once surrendered to the bewitching power of his influence. He zealously served himself, and made others toil also for his benefit, and always succeeded in everything, because he never lost his head, did not disdain flattery as a means, and understood how to flatter.

Ten years after Iván Andréevitch settled in the country, he came to Lutchínovko as a brilliant officer of the Guards, for four months,—and in that space of time succeeded in turning the head even of the surly old man, his father. It is strange! Iván Andréevitch listened with delight to his son's tales of his conquests. His brothers were dumb in his presence, and admired him as a superior being. And even Anna Pávlovna herself came to love him almost more than all her other children, who were so sincerely devoted to her.

Vasíly Ivánovitch came to the country, in the first place, in order to see his relatives; but, in the second place also, in order to get as much money as possible out of his father. He had lived sumptuously and kept open house in Petersburg, and had contracted a multitude of debts. It was not easy for him to reconcile himself to his parent's stinginess, and, although Iván Andréevitch gave him for his trip alone more money, in all probability, than he gave all his other children in the space of the twenty years which they spent in the paternal house, yet Vasíly stuck to the familiar Russian rule: "Take all you can get!"

Iván Andréevitch had a servant, Yúditch by name, as tall, gaunt, and taciturn a man as his master. They say that this Yúditch was, in part, the cause of the strange behaviour of Iván Andréevitch to Anna Pávlovna: they say that it was he who discovered the guilty liaison of my great-grandmother with one of my great-grandfather's best friends. Probably Yúditch deeply repented of his ill-judged zeal, because it would be difficult to conceive of a more kind-hearted man. His memory is held sacred to this day by all my house-serfs. Yúditch enjoyed the unbounded confidence of my great-grandfather. At that period, landed proprietors had money, but did not hand it over to loan institutions for safe-keeping, but kept it themselves in coffers, in cellars, and the like. Iván Andréevitch kept all his money in a huge iron-bound coffer, which stood under the head of his bed. The key to this coffer was handed over to Yúditch. Every evening, when he went to bed, Iván Andréevitch ordered this chest to be opened in his presence, tapped all the tightly-stuffed sacks in turn with his cane, and on Saturdays, he and Yúditch untied the sacks and carefully counted over the money.

Vasíly found out about all these performances and was fired with a desire to rummage a bit in the sacred coffer. In the course of five or six days he mollified Yúditch, that is to say, he reduced the poor old fellow to such a state that—as the saying is—he fairly worshipped his young master. After having properly prepared him, Vasíly assumed a careworn and gloomy aspect, for a long time refused to answer Yúditch's inquiries and, at last, told him that he had gambled away all his money, and intended to lay violent hands on himself if he did not obtain money from somewhere. Yúditch began to sob, flung himself on his knees before him, begged him to remember God, not to ruin his soul. Vasíly, without uttering a word, locked himself up in his chamber. After a while, he heard some one knocking cautiously on his door. He opened the door and beheld on the threshold Yúditch, pale and trembling, with a key in his hands. Vasíly immediately understood everything. At first he resisted for a long time. Yúditch kept repeating with tears: "Pray, master, take it!"... At last, Vasíly consented. This happened on Monday. The idea occurred to Vasíly to replace the money he abstracted with bits of glass. He reckoned on Iván Andréevitch's not paying any special heed to the barely perceptible difference in the sound when he tapped the sacks with his cane,—and by Saturday he hoped to obtain money and replace it in the sacks. No sooner thought than done. His father, in fact, did not notice anything. But Vasíly did not obtain money by Saturday: he had hoped, with the money he had taken, to clean out at the card-table a certain wealthy neighbour—and, on the contrary, he lost everything himself. In the meantime, Saturday arrived; the turn came for the sacks stuffed with bits of glass. Picture to yourselves, gentlemen, the amazement of Iván Andréevitch!

"What 's the meaning of this?"—he thundered.

Yúditch made no reply.

"Hast thou stolen this money?"

"No, sir."

"Then has some one taken the key from thee?"

"I have not given the key to any one."

"Not to any one? If thou hast not given it to any one—thou art the thief. Confess!"

"I am not a thief, Iván Andréevitch."

"Whence came these bits of glass, damn it? So thou art deceiving me? For the last time I say to thee—confess!"

Yúditch hung his head and clasped his hands behind his back.

"Hey there, people!" shouted Iván Andréevitch in a raging voice.—"The rods!"

"What? You mean to .... whip ... me?" whispered Yúditch.

"Thou shalt catch it! And how art thou any better than the rest? Thou art a thief! Well, now, Yúditch! I had not expected such rascality from thee!"

"I have grown grey in your service, Iván Andréevitch," said Yúditch with an effort.

"And what care I about thy grey hair? May the devil take thee and thy service!"

The people entered.

"Take him, and give him a good flogging!"

Iván Andréevitch's lips were pale and trembling. He ramped about the room like a wild beast in a confined cage.

The men did not dare to execute his commands.

"What are you standing there for, you vile serfs? have I got to lay hands on him myself, I 'd like to know?"

Yúditch started for the door.

"Stop!" yelled Iván Andréevitch.—"Yúditch, for the last time I say to thee, I entreat thee, Yúditch, confess."

"I cannot," moaned Yúditch.

"Then seize him, the old sycophant!... Flog him to death! On my head be it!" thundered the maddened old man. The torture began....

Suddenly the door flew open, and Vasíly entered. He was almost paler than his father, his hands trembled, his upper lip was raised and disclosed a row of white, even teeth.

"I am guilty," he said in a dull but steady voice.—"I took the money."

The men stopped short.

"Thou! what?! thou, Váska! without the consent of Yúditch?"

"No!"—said Yúditch:—"with my consent. I myself gave the key to Vasíly Ivánovitch. Dear little father, Vasíly Ivánovitch! why have you deigned to trouble yourself?"

"So that 's who the thief is!"—shouted Iván Andréevitch.—"Thanks, Vasíly, thanks! But I shall not spare thee, Yúditch, all the same. Why didst not thou confess all to me at once? Hey, there, you! why have you stopped? or do you no longer recognise my authority? And I 'll settle with you, my dear little dove!" he added, turning to Vasíly.

The men were on the point of setting to work again on Yúditch.

"Don't touch him!" whispered Vasíly through his teeth. The servants did not heed him.—"Back!" he shouted, and hurled himself upon them.... They staggered back.

"Ah! a rebel!"—moaned Iván Andréevitch, and raising his cane, he advanced on his son.

Vasíly leaped aside, grasped the hilt of his sword, and bared it half-way. All began to tremble. Anna Pávlovna, attracted by the noise, frightened and pale, made her appearance in the doorway.

Iván Andréevitch's face underwent a frightful change. He staggered, dropped his cane, and fell heavily into an arm-chair, covering his face with both hands. No one stirred; all stood as though rooted to the spot, not excepting even Vasíly. He convulsively gripped the steel hilt of his sword, his eyes flashed with a morose, evil gleam....

"Go away all ... begone,"—said Iván Andréevitch in a low voice, without removing his hands from his face.

The whole throng withdrew. Vasíly halted on the threshold, then suddenly tossed his head, embraced Yúditch, kissed his mother's hand ... and two hours later he was no longer in the village. He had departed for Petersburg.

On the evening of that day, Yúditch was sitting on the porch of the house-serfs' cottage. The servants swarmed around him, pitied him, and bitterly blamed the master.

"Stop, my lads," he said to them at last;—"enough of that .... why do you abuse him? I don't believe that he, our dear little father, is pleased himself with his desperate deed...."

As a result of this affair, Vasíly never saw his parents again. Iván Andréevitch died without him, probably with such grief at his heart as may God spare any of us from experiencing. In the meantime, Vasíly Ivánovitch went out in society, made merry after his own fashion, and squandered money. How he obtained the money, I cannot say with certainty. He procured for himself a French servant, a clever and intelligent young fellow, a certain Boursier. This man became passionately attached to him, and aided him in all his numerous performances. I have no intention of narrating to you in detail all the pranks of my great-uncle; he distinguished himself by such unbounded audacity, such snaky tact, such incredible cold-bloodedness, such adroit and subtle wit, that, I must confess, I can understand the limitless power of that unprincipled man over the most noble souls....

Soon after his father's death, Vasíly Ivánovitch, notwithstanding all his tact, was challenged to a duel by an outraged husband. He fought, severely wounded his antagonist, and was forced to quit the capital: he was ordered to reside permanently on his hereditary estate. Vasíly Ivánovitch was thirty years of age. You can easily imagine, gentlemen, with what feelings this man, who had become accustomed to the brilliant life of the capital, journeyed to his native place. They say that, on the road, he frequently got out of his kibítka, flung himself face down on the snow, and wept. No one in Lutchínovko recognised the former jolly, amiable Vasíly Ivánovitch. He spoke to no one, he went off hunting from morning until night, with visible impatience endured the timid caresses of his mother, and jeered pitilessly at his brothers, and at their wives (both of them were already married)....

So far I have said nothing to you, I believe, about Olga Ivánovna. She had been brought to Lutchínovko as an infant at the breast; she had almost died on the way. Olga Ivánovna had been reared, as the saying is, in the fear of God and of her parents.... It must be confessed that Iván Andréevitch and Anna Pávlovna both treated her like a daughter. But there was concealed in her a feeble spark of that fire which blazed so brightly in the soul of Vasíly Ivánovitch. In the meantime, while Iván Andréevitch's own children did not dare to indulge in conjectures concerning the strange, speechless quarrel between their parents, Olga, from her earliest years had been disturbed and pained by the position of Anna Pávlovna. Like Vasíly, she loved independence; all oppression revolted her. She had attached herself to her benefactress with all the powers of her soul; she hated old Lutchínoff, and more than once, as she sat at table, she had fixed upon him such sombre glances, that even the man who was serving the viands felt frightened. Iván Andréevitch did not notice all those glances, because, in general, he paid no attention whatever to his family.

At first, Anna Pávlovna endeavoured to exterminate this hatred in her—but several bold questions on Olga's part forced her to complete silence. Iván Andréevitch's children adored Olga, and the old woman loved her also, although with rather a cold affection.

Prolonged sorrow had crushed all cheerfulness, all strong feeling, in this poor woman; nothing so clearly proves Vasíly's bewitching amiability as the fact that he made even his mother love him ardently. Effusions of tenderness on the part of children was not in the spirit of that age, and therefore it is not surprising that Olga did not venture to display her devotion, although she always kissed Anna Pávlovna's hand with particular respect in the evening, when she bade her good-night. She was barely able to read and write. Twenty years later, Russian girls began to read novels in the style of the "Adventures of Marquis G***,"—"Fanfan and Lolotte,"—of "Alexyéi; or, The Cot in the Forest";—they began to learn to play on the clavichord and to sing romances in the style of the following, once very familiar song:

"Men in the light
Cling to us like flies"—and so forth.

But in the '70s (Olga Ivánovna was born in the year 1757), our rustic beauties had no conception of all these accomplishments. It would be difficult for us now to picture to ourselves a young Russian girl of good birth of that epoch. We can, it is true, judge from our grandmothers as to the degree of education of noble gentlewomen in the times of Katherine II; but how is one to distinguish that which was inculcated in them in the course of their long life, from that which they were in the days of their youth?

Olga Ivánovna spoke a little French, but with a strong Russian accent; in her day, there was no thought of such a thing as the emigrés.[19] In a word, with all her good qualities, she was, nevertheless, a decided savage, and, probably, in the simplicity of her heart, she more than once administered chastisement with her own hands to some unlucky maid....

Some time before Vasíly Ivánovitch's arrival, Olga Ivánovna had been betrothed to a neighbour,—Pável Afanásievitch Rogatchyóff, an extremely good-natured and honourable man. Nature had forgotten to endow him with gall. His own servants did not obey him; they sometimes all went off, from the first to the last of them, and left poor Rogatchyóff without any dinner ... but nothing could disturb the tranquillity of his soul. He had been distinguished, even from his childhood, by his obesity and sluggishness; he had never served anywhere, and he was fond of going to church and singing in the choir. Look at that good-natured, round face, gentlemen; gaze at that tranquil, brilliant smile .... does not it make you feel cheerful yourselves? Once in a while his father had driven over to Lutchínovko, and had brought with him, on festival days, his Pávlusha, whom the little Lutchínoffs tormented in every possible way. Pávlusha grew up, began to go to Iván Andréevitch's of his own accord, fell in love with Olga Ivánovna, and offered her his hand and his heart—not to her personally, but to her benefactors. Her benefactors gave their consent. They never even thought of asking Olga Ivánovna whether she liked Rogatchyóff. At that epoch,—as our grandmothers used to say,—"such luxuries were not in fashion." But Olga speedily got used to her betrothed: it was impossible not to grow attached to that gentle, indulgent being.

Rogatchyóff had received no education whatsoever; all he could say in French was "bonzhour"—and in secret he even regarded that word as improper. And some jester had also taught him the following, which professed to be a French song: "Sónetchka, Sónetchka! Que voulez-vous de moi—I adore you—mais je ne peux pas."... He was always humming this song in an undertone when he felt in good spirits. His father also was a man of indescribably kind disposition; he was forever going about in a long nankeen coat, and no matter what was said to him, he assented to everything with a smile.

From the time of Pável Afanásievitch's betrothal both the Rogatchyóffs—father and son—began to bustle about frightfully; they made over their house, they built on various "galleries," they chatted in friendly wise with the workmen, they treated them to vodka. They did not manage to finish all the additional building by winter—so they deferred the wedding until the summer; in the summer, Iván Andréevitch died—and the wedding was postponed until the following spring; in the winter, Vasíly Ivánovitch arrived. Rogatchyóff was introduced to him; Vasíly received him coldly and carelessly, and in the course of time, frightened him to such a degree by his arrogant treatment that poor Rogatchyóff quivered like a leaf at his mere appearance, maintained silence, and smiled constrainedly. Vasíly once came near driving him off for good—by offering to bet with him that he, Rogatchyóff, was unable to stop smiling. Poor Pável Afanásievitch almost wept with confusion, but—'t is an actual fact!—the smile, the very stupid, constrained smile, would not quit his face! And Vasíly slowly toyed with the ends of his neckcloth, and stared at him in quite too scornful a manner.

Pável Afanásievitch's father also learned of Vasíly's arrival, and a few days later—for the sake of "the greater solemnity"—he set out for Lutchínovko with the intention of "congratulating the amiable visitor on his arrival in his native parts." Afanásy Lúkitch was renowned throughout the whole countryside for his eloquence—that is to say, for his ability to utter, without hesitation, a rather long and cunningly-concocted speech, with a slight admixture of bookish words. Alas! on this occasion he did not maintain his reputation; he became confused much worse than his son, Pável Afanásievitch. He stammered out something very unintelligible, and, although he had never touched vodka in his life, having this time, "by way of countenance," drunk a small glassful (he had found Vasíly at luncheon), he had endeavoured, at least, to clear his throat with a certain amount of independence, and had not produced the smallest sound. As he set out for home, Pável Afanásievitch whispered to his parent: "Well, dear little father?" Afanásy Lúkitch replied to him with irritation, also in a whisper: "Don't mention it!"

The Rogatchyóffs began to come more rarely to Lutchínovko. But they were not the only ones whom Vasíly intimidated: he aroused in his brothers, in their wives, even in Anna Pávlovna herself, a painful and involuntary sense of discomfort .... they began to avoid him in all possible ways. Vasíly could not help noticing this, but, apparently, he had no intention of altering his behaviour to them, when, all of a sudden, at the beginning of the spring, he again revealed himself as the same amiable, charming man they had previously known him to be....

The first revelation of this sudden change was on the occasion of Vasíly's unexpected call on the Rogatchyóffs. Afanásy Lúkitch, in particular, was thoroughly daunted by the sight of Lutchínoff's calash, but his fear very speedily vanished. Never had Vasíly been more amiable and merry. He linked his arm in the arm of young Rogatchyóff, walked out with him to inspect the buildings, chatted with the carpenters, gave them advice, himself made a few notches with the axe, ordered them to show him Afanásy Lúkitch's stud-horses, himself drove them at the end of a rope—and altogether, by his cordial amiability, reduced the kind-hearted steppe-dwellers to such a condition that they both repeatedly embraced him. At home, also, Vasíly turned all heads for a few days as of yore: he devised various amusing games, he procured musicians, invited in the neighbours of both sexes, narrated the tittle-tattle of the town to the old ladies in the most diverting manner, paid some court to the young women, invented unheard-of amusements, fireworks, and so forth:—in a word, he enlivened everything and everybody. The sad, gloomy house of the Lutchínoffs was suddenly converted into a noisy, brilliant, enchanting sort of dwelling, of which the whole countryside talked.—This sudden change amazed many, delighted all, and various rumours got into circulation; the knowing ones said that some hidden trouble had, up to that time, been afflicting Vasíly Ivánovitch, that the possibility of returning to the capital had presented itself to him.... But no one divined the true cause of Vasíly Ivánovitch's regeneration.

Olga Ivánovna, gentlemen, was very far from being uncomely.—But her beauty consisted rather in remarkable softness and freshness of person, in a tranquil charm of movement, than in strict regularity of features. Nature had endowed her with a certain independence; her education—she had been reared an orphan—had developed in her caution and firmness. Olga did not belong to the category of quiet and languid young gentlewomen; but one feeling alone had fully ripened in her: hatred for her benefactor. However, other and more womanly passions also could flame up in Olga Ivánovna's soul with unusual, unhealthy force .... but there was in her none of that proud coldness, nor that compact strength of soul, nor that selfish concentration, without which every passion speedily vanishes.—The first outbursts of such half-active, half-passive souls are sometimes remarkably violent; but they very soon undergo a change, especially when it becomes a question of the ruthless application of accepted principles; they fear the consequences.... And, yet, gentlemen, I must confess to you frankly: women of that sort produce upon me a very strong impression....

(At these words, the narrator tossed off a glass of water at one draught.—"Nonsense! nonsense!"—I thought, as I looked at his round chin:—"on you, my dear friend, no one in the world produces 'a very strong impression.'") ...

Piótr Feódorovitch went on:

Gentlemen, I believe in blood, in race. There was more blood in Olga Ivánovna, than, for example, in her nominal sister—Natálya. How did that "blood" show itself?—you ask me.—Why, in everything; in the outline of her hands and of her lips, in the sound of her voice, in her glance, in her walk, in the way she dressed her hair,—in the folds of her gown, in short. In all these trifles there was a certain hidden something, although I must admit that that .... how shall I express it?.... that distinction which had fallen to the lot of Olga Ivánovna would not have attracted the attention of Vasíly if he had met her in Petersburg. But in the country, in the wilds, she not only excited his attention,—but even, altogether, was the sole cause of the change of which I have just spoken.

Judge for yourselves: Vasíly Ivánovitch was fond of enjoying life; he could not help being bored in the country; his brothers were kind-hearted fellows, but extremely limited in mind; he had nothing in common with them. His sister Natálya and her husband had had four children in the space of three years; between her and Vasíly lay a whole abyss... Anna Pávlovna went to church, prayed, fasted, and prepared herself for death. There remained only Olga, a rosy, timid, charming young girl... At first Vasíly did not notice her ... and who would turn his attention on an adopted child, an orphan, a foundling?.... One day, at the very beginning of spring, he was walking through the garden, and with his cane switching off the heads of the chicory, those stupid yellow flowers which make their appearance in such abundance first of all, in the meadows as yet hardly green.—He was strolling in the garden in front of the house, raised his head—and beheld Olga Ivánovna.—She was sitting with her side to the window, and gazing pensively at a striped kitten, which, purring and blinking, had cuddled down on her lap, and with great satisfaction was presenting its little nose to the spring sunshine, already fairly brilliant. Olga Ivánovna wore a white morning-gown with short sleeves; her bare, faintly-rosy, as yet not fully-developed shoulders and arms breathed forth freshness and health; a small cap discreetly confined her thick, soft, silky locks; her face was slightly flushed; she had not been long awake. Her slender, supple neck was bent forward so charmingly; her unconfined form reposed so engagingly and modestly that Vasíly Ivánovitch (a great connoisseur!) involuntarily halted and took a look. It suddenly came into his head that Olga Ivánovna ought not to be left in her pristine ignorance, that in time she might turn out to be a very charming and very amiable woman. He crept up to the window, raised himself on tiptoe, and imprinted a silent kiss on Olga Ivánovna's smooth, white arm, a little below the elbow.—Olga screamed and sprang to her feet, the kitten elevated its tail, and leaped into the garden; Vasíly Ivánovitch detained her with his hand.... Olga blushed all over, to her very ears; he began to jest at her fright .... invited her to walk with him; but suddenly Olga Ivánovna noticed the negligence of her attire—"more swiftly than the swift-footed doe," she slipped into the next room.

That same day, Vasíly set off for the Rogatchyóffs'. He suddenly grew gay, and brightened up in spirit. Vasíly did not fall in love with Olga, no!—one must not trifle with the word love.... He had found for himself an occupation, he had set himself a task, and was rejoicing with the joy of an active man. He never even called to mind the fact that she was his mother's adopted child, the betrothed of another man; he did not deceive himself for a single instant; he was very well aware that she could not be his wife.... Perhaps passion was his excuse—not a lofty, not a noble passion, 't is true, but, nevertheless, a tolerably strong and torturing passion. Of course he did not fall in love like a child; he did not surrender himself to unbounded raptures; he knew well what he wanted and what he was aiming at.

Vasíly Ivánovitch possessed to perfection the ability to win the favour of others, even of those who were prejudiced or timid. Olga speedily ceased to shun him. Vasíly Ivánovitch introduced her into a new world. He imported a clavichord for her, gave her music lessons (he played very fairly himself on the flute), he read books to her, he had long talks with her.... The poor young steppe-girl's head was turned; Vasíly had completely subjugated her. He knew how to talk to her about that which, hitherto, had been foreign to her, and to talk in a language which she understood. Olga gradually brought herself to express all her feelings to him; he helped her, suggested to her the words which she could not find; he did not startle her; he now repressed, now encouraged her impulses.... Vasíly occupied himself with her education not out of a disinterested desire to awaken and develop her abilities; he simply wanted to bring her somewhat closer to him, and he knew, moreover, that it is easier to attract an inexperienced, shy, but vain young girl by the mind than by the heart. Even if Olga had been a remarkable being, Vasíly could not possibly have observed it, because he treated her like a child; but you already know, gentlemen, that there was nothing noteworthy about Olga.

Vasíly strove, as much as possible, to work on her imagination, and often of an evening she would leave him with such a whirl of new images, words, and thoughts in her head, that she was unable to get to sleep until dawn, and sighing sadly, she pressed her burning cheeks against her cold pillows; or she rose and went to the window, and gazed timorously and eagerly into the far-away gloom. Vasíly filled every moment of her life; she could not think of any one else. She soon ceased to take any notice of Rogatchyóff. Vasíly, being a shrewd and clever man, did not speak to Olga in his presence; but he either confused him to the verge of tears, or got up some boisterous game, a stroll in the evening, a rowing-party on the river by night with lanterns and music,—in a word, he did not give Pável Afanásievitch a chance to recover his ground. But, despite all Vasíly Ivánovitch's cleverness, Rogatchyóff was dimly conscious that he, the betrothed and the future husband of Olga, had become, as it were, a stranger to her .... but, in his infinite good-heartedness, he was afraid of wounding her by a reproach, although he really loved her and prized her affection. When he was alone with her, he did not know what to talk about, and merely endeavoured to serve her in every possible way. Two months passed. Every trace of independence, of will, disappeared in Olga; the weak and taciturn Rogatchyóff could not serve her as a prop; she did not even try to resist the fascination, and with a sinking heart she gave herself unconditionally to Vasíly....

Olga Ivánovna, it is probable, then learned the joys of love; but not for long. Although Vasíly—for the lack of any other occupation—not only did not discard her, but even became attached to her, and petted her, yet Olga lost herself to such a degree that she did not find bliss even in love, and nevertheless she was unable to tear herself away from Vasíly. She began to be afraid of everything, she did not dare to think; she talked of nothing; she ceased to read; she became a prey to melancholy. Sometimes Vasíly succeeded in drawing her after him, and making her forget everybody and everything; but on the following day he found her pale and silent, with cold hands, with a senseless smile on her lips....

A decidedly difficult time began for Vasíly; but no difficulties could daunt him. He concentrated himself completely, like an expert gambler. He could not count upon Olga Ivánovna in the slightest degree; she was incessantly betraying herself, paling, and blushing and weeping ... her new rôle was beyond her strength. Vasíly toiled for two; in his boisterous and noisy joy only an experienced observer could have detected a feverish tenseness; he played with his brothers, his sisters, the Rogatchyóffs, the neighbours, both men and women,—as though they had been pawns; he was eternally on the alert, he never allowed a single glance, a single movement to escape him, although he appeared to be the most care-free of mortals; every morning he entered into battle, and every evening he celebrated a victory. He was not in the least oppressed by this strange activity; he slept four hours a day, he ate very little, and was healthy, fresh, and gay. In the meantime, the wedding-day was approaching; Vasíly succeeded in convincing Pável Afanásievitch himself of the necessity of a postponement; then he despatched him to Moscow to make some purchases, and himself entered into correspondence with his Petersburg friends. He exerted himself not so much out of compassion for Olga Ivánovna, as out of a desire and love for fuss and bustle.... Moreover, he had begun to grow tired of Olga Ivánovna, and more than once already, after a fierce outburst of passion, he had looked at her as he had been wont to look at Rogatchyóff. Lutchínoff always remained a puzzle to every one; in the very coldness of his implacable spirit you felt conscious of the presence of a strange, almost southern flame, and in the maddest heat of passion, cold emanated from that man.—In the presence of others, he upheld Olga Ivánovna as before; but when he was alone with her, he played with her as a cat plays with a mouse—he either terrified her with sophisms, or he exhibited heavy and vicious tedium, or, in conclusion, he threw himself at her feet again, swept her away, as a whirlwind sweeps a chip .... and he was not then pretending to be in love ... but really was swooning with it himself...

One day, quite late in the evening, Vasíly was sitting alone in his own room and attentively perusing the latest letters he had received from Petersburg—when, suddenly, the door creaked softly and Paláshka, Olga Ivánovna's maid, entered.

"What dost thou want?"—Vasíly asked her, quite curtly.

"My mistress begs that you will come to her."

"I can't at present. Go away... Well, why dost thou stand there?"—he went on, perceiving that Paláshka did not leave the room.

"My mistress ordered me to say that there is very great need, sir."

"Well, but what 's the matter?"

"Please to see for yourself, sir...."

Vasíly rose, with vexation tossed the letters into a casket, and betook himself to Olga Ivánovna. She was sitting alone in a corner,—pale and motionless.

"What do you want?"—he asked her, not very politely.

Olga looked at him, and with a shudder, covered her eyes.

"What ails you? what 's the matter with thee, Olga?"

He took her hand... Olga Ivánovna's hand was as cold as ice... She tried to speak .... and her voice died away. The poor woman had no doubt left in her mind as to her condition.

Vasíly was somewhat disconcerted. Olga Ivánovna's room was a couple of paces from the bedroom of Anna Pávlovna. Vasíly cautiously seated himself beside Olga, kissed and warmed her hands, and argued with her in a whisper. She listened to him, and shivered silently, slightly. Paláshka stood in the doorway and softly wiped away her tears. In the adjoining room a pendulum was beating heavily and regularly, and the breathing of a sleeper was audible. Olga Ivánovna's torpor dissolved, at last, in tears and dull sobs. Tears are the equivalent of a thunder-storm: after them a person is always quieter. When Olga Ivánovna had become somewhat composed, and only sobbed convulsively from time to time like a child, Vasíly knelt down before her, and with caresses and tender promises soothed her completely, gave her a drink of water, put her to bed, and went away. All night long he did not undress himself, wrote two or three letters, burned two or three papers, got out a golden locket with the portrait of a black-browed and black-eyed woman, with a bold, sensual face, gazed long at her features, and paced his chamber in thought. On the following morning, at tea, he beheld, with a good deal of dissatisfaction, poor Olga's reddened, swollen eyes, and pale, distraught face. After breakfast, he proposed to her that she should take a stroll with him in the park. Olga followed Vasíly like an obedient sheep. But when, two hours later, she returned from the park, she looked dreadfully; she told Anna Pávlovna that she felt ill, and went to bed. During the walk, Vasíly had announced to her, with all due penitence, that he was secretly married—he was just as much a bachelor as I am. Olga Ivánovna did not fall down in a swoon—people fall in swoons only on the stage; but she became suddenly petrified, although she not only had not been hoping to marry Vasíly Ivánovitch, but had even, somehow, been afraid to think of it. Vasíly began to demonstrate to her the necessity of parting from him and marrying Rogatchyóff. Olga Ivánovna looked at him with dumb horror. Vasíly talked coldly, practically, sensibly; he blamed himself, he expressed regret,—but all his arguments wound up with the following words: "We must act." Olga lost her head completely; she was frightened and ashamed; dismal, heavy despair took possession of her; she longed for death—and sadly awaited Vasíly's decision.

"We must confess all to my mother," he said at last.

Olga turned deadly pale; her limbs gave way beneath her.

"Don't be frightened, don't be frightened,"—Vasíly kept repeating:—"rely on me; I will not forsake thee ... I will arrange everything ... trust in me."

The poor woman gazed at him with love ... yes, with love, and with profound, though hopeless devotion.

"I will arrange everything, everything,"—said Vasíly to her at parting ... and for the last time kissed her ice-cold hands.

Olga Ivánovna had just risen from her bed on the following morning, when her door opened ... and Anna Pávlovna made her appearance on the threshold. She was supported by Vasíly. Silently she made her way to an arm-chair, and silently seated herself. Vasíly stood beside her. He seemed composed; his brows were contracted, and his lips were slightly parted. Anna Pávlovna, pale, indignant, wrathful, tried to speak, but her voice failed her. Olga Ivánovna with terror, took in, in a single glance, her benefactress and her lover; she felt a frightful sinking at the heart ... with a shriek she fell down on her knees in the middle of the room and covered her face with her hands....

"So it is true ... it is true?" whispered Anna Pávlovna, and bent toward her.... "Answer!"—she went on harshly, seizing Olga by the arm.

"Mamma!" rang out Vasíly's brazen voice,—"you promised me not to insult her."

"I won't ... come, confess .... confess ... is it true? Is it true?"

"Mamma ... remember!..." said Vasíly, slowly.

That one word shook Anna Pávlovna violently. She leaned against the back of her chair, and fell to sobbing.

Olga Ivánovna softly raised her head and attempted to fling herself at the old woman's feet, but Vasíly restrained her, raised her up, and seated her in another arm-chair. Anna Pávlovna continued to weep and whisper incoherent words....

"Listen, mamma,"—began Vasíly. "Don't be so overwhelmed! This calamity can still be alleviated.... If Rogatchyóff ...."

Olga Ivánovna shuddered and straightened herself up.

"If Rogatchyóff,"—pursued Vasíly, with a significant glance at Olga Ivánovna,—"has imagined that he can with impunity disgrace an honourable family ...."

Olga Ivánovna was terrified.

"In my house,"—moaned Anna Pávlovna.

"Calm yourself, mamma. He has taken advantage of her inexperience, of her youth, he .... did you wish to say something?"—he added, perceiving that Olga was trying to get at him.

Olga Ivánovna fell back in her chair.

"I shall go at once to Rogatchyóff. I shall force him to wed her this very day. Be assured, I shall not permit him to jeer at us...."

"But ... Vasíly Ivánovitch ... you ..." whispered Olga.

He stared long and coldly at her. She relapsed into silence.

"Mamma, give me your word not to disturb her until my arrival. See—she is barely alive. Yes, and you require rest yourself. Trust to me: I answer for everything; in any case, await my return. I repeat to you—do not kill her, nor yourself—rely upon me."

He walked to the door, and paused.

"Mamma,"—he said: "come with me. Leave her alone, I beg of you."

Anna Pávlovna rose, went to the holy picture, made a reverence to the floor, and softly followed her son. Olga Ivánovna followed her silently and immovably with her eyes. Vasíly hastily came back, seized her hand, whispered in her ear: "Trust to me, and do not betray us,"—and immediately withdrew....

"Boursier!" he shouted, as he ran swiftly down the stairs.—"Boursier!"

A quarter of an hour later he was seated in his calash with his servant.

Old Rogatchyóff was not at home that day. He had gone to the county town, to buy seersucker for kaftans to clothe his retainers. Pável Afanásievitch was sitting in his study, and inspecting a collection of faded butterflies. Elevating his eyebrows, and thrusting forth his lips, he was cautiously turning about with a pin the large wings of the "nocturnal sphinx," when suddenly, he felt a small but heavy hand on his shoulder. He glanced round—before him stood Vasíly.

"Good morning, Vasíly Ivánovitch,"—said he, not without some surprise.

Vasíly looked at him and sat down in front of him on a chair.

Pável Afanásievitch was about to smile ... but glanced at Vasíly, relaxed, opened his mouth, and clasped his hands.

"Come, tell me, Pável Afanásievitch,"—began Vasíly, suddenly:—"do you intend to have the wedding soon?"

"I?... soon .... of course.... I, so far as I am concerned .... however, that is as you and your sister choose.... I, for my part, am ready to-morrow, if you like."

"Very good, very good. You are a very impatient man, Pável Afanásievitch."

"How so, sir?"

"Listen,"—added Vasíly Ivánovitch, rising to his feet:—"I know everything; you understand me, and I order you to marry Olga without delay, to-morrow."

"But excuse me, excuse me,"—returned Rogatchyóff, without rising from his seat;—"you order me? I myself have sought the hand of Olga Ivánovna, and there is no need to order me. I must confess, Vasíly Ivánovitch, somehow, I don't understand you...."

"Thou dost not understand?"

"No, really, I don't understand, sir."

"Wilt thou give me thy word to marry her to-morrow?"

"Why, good gracious, Vasíly Ivánovitch .... have n't you yourself repeatedly postponed our marriage? If it had not been for you, it would have taken place long ago. And even now I have no idea of refusing. But what is the meaning of your threats, of your urgent demands?"

Pável Afanásievitch wiped the perspiration from his face.

"Wilt thou give me thy word? Speak! Yes, or no?"—repeated Vasíly with pauses between his words.

"Certainly ... I give it, sir, but ...."

"Good. Remember.... And she has confessed everything."

"Who has confessed?"

"Olga Ivánovna."

"But what has she confessed?"

"Why do you dissimulate with me, Pável Afanásievitch? Surely, I 'm not a stranger to you."

"How am I dissimulating? I don't understand you, I don't understand you, positively I don't understand you. What could Olga Ivánovna confess?"

"What? You bore me! You know well what."

"May God slay me if ...."

"No, I will slay thee—if thou dost not marry her .... dost understand?"

"What!...." Pável Afanásievitch leaped to his feet, and stood before Vasíly.—"Olga Ivánovna .... you say ...."

"Thou 'rt clever, my good fellow, very clever, I must admit." Vasíly, with a smile, tapped him on the shoulder.—"In spite of the fact that thou art so mild of aspect ...."

"My God, O God!... You will drive me mad... What do you mean to say? Explain yourself, for God's sake!"

Vasíly bent over him and whispered something in his ear.

Rogatchyóff cried out:—"What?.... how?"

Vasíly stamped his foot.

"Olga Ivánovna? Olga?..."

"Yes .... your betrothed bride...."

"My betrothed bride .... Vasíly Ivánovitch .... she .... she .... But I will have nothing to do with her!"—shouted Pável Afanásievitch. "I 'll have none of her! What do you take me for? To deceive me—to deceive me!... Olga Ivánovna, is n't it sinful of you, are n't you ashamed?...." (Tears gushed from his eyes.)—"I thank you, Vasíly Ivánovitch, I thank you.... And now I 'll have nothing to do with her! I won't! I won't! don't speak of such a thing!.... Akh, good heavens!—that I should have lived to see this day! But it is well, it is well!"

"Stop behaving like a baby,"—remarked Vasíly Ivánovitch, coldly.—"Remember, you have given me your word that the wedding shall take place to-morrow."

"No, that shall not be! Enough, Vasíly Ivánovitch, I say to you once more—for whom do you take me? You do me much honour; many thanks, sir. Excuse me, sir."

"As you like!"—retorted Vasíly.—"Get your sword."

"Why?"

"This is why."

Vasíly drew out his slender, flexible French sword, and bent it slightly against the floor.

"You mean .... to fight .... with me?..."

"Precisely so."

"But, Vasíly Ivánovitch, pray, enter into my position! How can I—judge for yourself—after what you have told me?... I am an honest man, Vasíly Ivánovitch; I am a nobleman."

"You are a nobleman, you are an honest man,—then be so good as to fight with me."

"Vasíly Ivánovitch!"

"You appear to be a coward, Mr. Rogatchyóff?"

"I am not in the least a coward, Vasíly Ivánovitch. You have thought to frighten me, Vasíly Ivánovitch. 'Come, now,' you said to yourself, 'I 'll scare him, and he 'll turn cowardly; he will instantly consent to anything.'.... No, Vasíly Ivánovitch, I 'm the same sort of nobleman as yourself, although I have not received my education in the capital, it is true; and you will not succeed in terrifying me, excuse me."

"Very good,"—retorted Vasíly:—"where is your sword?"

"Eróshka!"—shouted Pável Afanásievitch.

A man entered.

"Get my sword—yonder—thou knowest where it is—in the garret .... and be quick about it...."

Eróshka withdrew. Pável Afanásievitch suddenly turned extremely pale, hastily took off his dressing-gown, put on a kaftan of a reddish hue with large strass buttons .... wound a neckcloth round his neck.... Vasíly watched him, and examined the fingers of his right hand.

"So how is it to be? Are we to fight, Pável Afanásievitch?"

"If we must fight, we must,"—returned Rogatchyóff, hastily buttoning his waistcoat.

"Hey, Pável Afanásievitch, heed my advice: marry .... why shouldst thou not?... But I, believe me ...."

"No, Vasíly Ivánovitch,"—Rogatchyóff interrupted him. "You will either kill me or maim me, I know; but I have no intention of losing my honour; if I must die, I will."

Eróshka entered and hurriedly handed Rogatchyóff a wretched little old sword, in a cracked, leather scabbard. At that time all nobles wore swords when they had powdered hair; but the nobles of the steppes only powdered their hair a couple of times a year. Eróshka retreated to the door, and fell to weeping. Pável Afanásievitch thrust him out of the room.

"But, Vasíly Ivánovitch,"—he remarked, with some agitation,—"I cannot fight with you instantly: permit me to defer our duel until to-morrow; my father is not at home; and it would not be a bad thing to put my affairs in order, in case of a catastrophe."

"I see that you are beginning to quail again, my dear sir."

"No, no, Vasíly Ivánovitch; but judge for yourself...."

"Listen!"... shouted Lutchínoff:—"you are driving me out of patience.... Either give me your word to marry immediately, or fight .... or I will trounce you with a cudgel, like a coward, do you understand?"

"Let us go into the park,"—replied Rogatchyóff between his teeth.

But suddenly the door opened, and the old nurse Efímovna, all dishevelled, forced her way into the room, fell on her knees before Rogatchyóff and clasped his feet....

"My dear little father!"—she wailed:—"my child .... what is this thou art projecting? Do not ruin us miserable ones, dear little father! For he will kill thee, my dear little dove! But only give us the command, give us the command, and we 'll kill that insolent fellow with our caps.... Pável Afanásievitch, my darling child, have the fear of God before thine eyes!"

A multitude of pale and agitated faces showed themselves in the doorway .... the red beard of the Elder even made its appearance....

"Let me go, Efímovna, let me go!"—muttered Rogatchyóff.

"I will not let thee go, my own one, I will not let thee go. What art thou doing, dear little father, what art thou doing? And what will Afanásy Lúkitch say? Why, he will drive all of us out of the white world.... And why do ye stand there? Seize the unbidden guest by the arms, and lead him forth from the house, that no trace of him may remain...."

"Rogatchyóff!"—shouted Vasíly Ivánovitch, menacingly.

"Thou hast gone crazy, Efímovna, thou art disgracing me,".... said Pável Afanásievitch.—"Go away, go, with God's blessing, and begone, all of you, do you hear? Do you hear?..."

Vasíly Ivánovitch walked swiftly to the open window, drew out a small silver whistle, and whistled lightly.... Boursier answered close at hand. Lutchínoff immediately turned to Pável Afanásievitch.

"How is this comedy to end?"

"Vasíly Ivánovitch, I will come to you to-morrow—what am I to do with this crazy woman?...."

"Eh! I see that it is useless to talk long with you,"—said Vasíly, and swiftly raised his cane....

Pável Afanásievitch dashed forward, thrust aside Efímovna, seized his sword, and rushed through the other door into the park.

Vasíly darted after him. They both ran to a wooden arbour artfully painted in the Chinese manner, locked themselves in, and bared their swords. Rogatchyóff had once upon a time taken lessons in fencing; but he barely knew how to parry properly. The blades crossed. Vasíly was, evidently, playing with Rogatchyóff's sword. Pável Afanásievitch sighed, turned pale, and gazed with consternation into Lutchínoff's face. In the meanwhile, cries resounded in the park; a throng of people rushed to the arbour. Suddenly Rogatchyóff heard a heart-rending, senile roar .... he recognised his father's voice. Afanásy Lúkitch, hatless, and with dishevelled locks, was running in front of all, waving his arms despairingly....

With a powerful and unexpected turn of his blade, Vasíly knocked the sword from Pável Afanásievitch's hand.

"Marry, brother,"—he said to him.—"Stop being a fool!"

"I will not marry!"—whispered Rogatchyóff, closed his eyes, and trembled all over.

Afanásy Lúkitch began to pound on the door of the arbour.

"Thou wilt not?"—shouted Vasíly.

Rogatchyóff shook his head in the negative.

"Well, then, the devil take thee!"

Poor Pável Afanásievitch fell dead: Lutchínoff's sword had pierced his heart.... The door burst open, old Rogatchyóff rushed into the arbour, but Vasíly had already managed to spring out of the window...

Two hours later, he entered Olga Ivánovna's room... She darted to meet him in affright.... He silently bowed to her, drew out his sword, and pierced Pável Afanásievitch's portrait at the place of the heart. Olga shrieked, and fell senseless on the floor.... Vasíly directed his steps to Anna Pávlovna. He found her in the room of the holy pictures.

"Mamma,"—he said,—"we are avenged."

The poor old woman shuddered and went on praying.

A week later, Vasíly took his departure for Petersburg,—and two years afterward he returned to the country, crippled with paralysis, and speechless. He no longer found either Anna Pávlovna or Olga Ivánovna alive, and soon died himself in the arms of Yúditch, who fed him like a baby, and was the only person who could understand his incoherent babble.

FOOTNOTES:

 A ruble, at the present time, is worth, on an average, about fifty-two cents. At the period here referred to, the silver ruble would purchase more than a ruble nowadays, while the paper ruble was worth very little.—Translator.
 A very good preserve, with a slightly wild or bitter taste, is made from these berries in Russia. It is a favourite preserve for putting in tea.—Translator.
 Except during Lent, and for special prayers on Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Pentecost (Trinity Sunday), hardly any kneeling is prescribed by the rubrics of the Eastern Catholic Church. During Easter-tide and on all Sundays it is forbidden by the rubrics, on the ground that joy in the resurrection should overpower the sense of sin and contrition. These rules are not always regarded. But a person who kneels much is conspicuous, and spectators assume that the posture indicates great grief or contrition—as above.—Translator.
 Many exiles caused by the French Revolution found refuge in Russia as tutors. Some founded families there, intermarrying with Russians, and their Russified names are easily recognisable.—Translator.