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On getting up, Arkady opened the window, and the first object which met his eyes was Vassily Ivanovich. In a Turkish dressing gown tied round the waist with a pocket handkerchief, the old man was zealously digging his kitchen garden. He noticed his young visitor and leaning on his spade he called out, "Good health to you! How did you sleep?"
"Splendidly," answered Arkady.
"And here I am, as you see, like some Cincinnatus, preparing a bed for late turnips. The time has come now--and thank God for it!--when everyone should secure his sustenance by the work of his own hands: it is useless to rely on others; one must labor oneself. So it turns out that Jean Jacques Rousseau is right. Half an hour ago, my dear young sir, you could have seen me in an entirely different position. One peasant woman, who complained of looseness--that's how they express it, but in our language, dysentery--I--how shall I express it? I injected her with opium; and for another I extracted a tooth. I offered her an anesthetic, but she refused. I do all that gratis-- anamatyer. However, I'm used to it; you see I'm a plebeian, homo nous--not one of the old stock, not like my wife . . . But wouldn't you like to come over here in the shade and breathe the morning freshness before having tea?"
Arkady went out to him.
"Welcome once more!" said Vassily Ivanovich, raising his hand in a military salute to the greasy skullcap which covered his head. "You, I know, are accustomed to luxury and pleasures, but even the great ones of this world do not disdain to spend a brief time under a cottage roof."
"Gracious heavens," protested Arkady, "as if I were a great one of this world! And I'm not accustomed to luxury either."
"Pardon me, pardon me," replied Vassily Ivanovich with an amiable grimace. "Though I am a back number now, I also have knocked about the world--I know a bird by its flight. I am something of a psychologist in my way, and a physiognomist. If I had not, I venture to say, been granted that gift, I should have come to grief long ago; a little man like me would have been blotted out. I must tell you without flattery, the friendship I observe between you and my son sincerely delights me. I have just seen him; he got up very early as he habitually does--you probably know that--and ran off for a ramble in the neighborhood. Permit me to be so inquisitive--have you known my Evgeny long?"
"Since last winter."
"Indeed. And permit me to question you further--but why shouldn't we sit down? Permit me as a father to ask you frankly: what is your opinion of my Evgeny?"
"Your son is one of the most remarkable men I have ever met," answered Arkady emphatically.
Vassily Ivanovich's eyes suddenly opened wide, and a slight flush suffused his cheeks. The spade dropped from his hand.
"And so you expect . . . ," he began.
"I'm convinced," interrupted Arkady, "that your son has a great future before him, that he will do honor to your name. I've felt sure of that ever since I met him."
"How--how did it happen?" articulated Vassily Ivanovich with some effort. An enthusiastic smile parted his broad lips and would not leave them.
"Would you like me to tell you how we met?"
"Yes . . . and all about it--"
Arkady began his story and spoke of Bazarov with even greater warmth, even greater enthusiasm than he had done on that evening when he danced a mazurka with Madame Odintsov.
Vassily Ivanovich listened and listened, blew his nose, rolled his handkerchief up into a ball with both hands, cleared his throat, ruffled up his hair--and at length could contain himself no longer; he bent down to Arkady and kissed him on the shoulder. "You have made me perfectly happy," he said, without ceasing to smile. "I ought to tell you, I . . . idolize my son; I won't even speak of my old wife--naturally, a mother--but I dare not show my feelings in front of him, because he disapproves of that. He is opposed to every demonstration of emotion; many people even find fault with him for such strength of character, and take it for a sign of pride or lack of feeling; but people like him ought not to be judged by any ordinary standards, ought they? Look at this, for example; others in his place would have been a constant drag on their parents; but he--would you believe it?--from the day he was born he has never taken a farthing more than he could help, that's God's truth."
"He is a disinterested, honest man," remarked Arkady.
"Exactly so, disinterested. And I not only idolize him, Arkady Nikolaich, I am proud of him, and the height of my only ambition is that some day there will be the following words in his biography: 'The son of an ordinary army doctor, who was able, however, to recognize his talent early and spared no pains for his education . . .'" The old man's voice broke.
Arkady pressed his hand.
"What do you think?" inquired Vassily Ivanovich after a short silence, "surely he will not attain in the sphere of medicine the celebrity which you prophesy for him?"
"Of course, not in medicine, though even there he will be one of the leading scientific men."
"In what then, Arkady Nikolaich?"
"It would be hard to say now, but he will be famous."
"He will be famous," repeated the old man, and he relapsed into thought.
"Arina Vlasyevna sent me to call you in to tea," announced Anfisushka, passing by with a huge dish of ripe raspberries.
Vassily Ivanovich started. "And will the cream be cooled for the raspberries?"
"Be sure it is cold! Don't stand on ceremony. Arkady Nikolaich--take some more. How is it Evgeny doesn't come back?"
"I'm here," called Bazarov's voice from inside Arkady's room.
Vassily Ivanovich turned round quickly.
"Aha, you wanted to pay a visit to your friend; but you were too late, amice, and we have already had a long conversation. Now we must go in to tea; mother has sent for us. By the way, I want to have a talk with you."
"There's a peasant here; he's suffering from icterus . . ."
"You mean jaundice?"
"Yes, a chronic and very obstinate case of icterus. I have prescribed him centaury and St. John's wort, told him to eat carrots, given him soda; but all those are palliative measures; we need some more radical treatment. Although you laugh at medicine, I'm sure you can give me some practical advice. But we will talk about that later. Now let us go and drink tea."
Vassily Ivanovich jumped up briskly from the garden seat and hummed the air from Robert le Diable.
"The law, the law we set ourselves, To live, to live, for pleasure."
"Astonishing vitality," observed Bazarov, moving away from the window.
* * * * * * *
Midday arrived. The sun was burning from under a thin veil of unbroken whitish clouds. All was still; only the cocks in the village broke the silence by their vigorous crowing, which produced in everyone who heard it a strange sense of drowsiness and tedium; and from somewhere high up in a treetop sounded the plaintive and persistent chirp of a young hawk. Arkady and Bazarov lay in the shade of a small haystack, and put under themselves two armfuls of rustling dry but still green and fragrant grass.
"That poplar tree," began Bazarov, "reminds me of my childhood; it grows on the edge of the pit where the brick shed used to be, and in those days I firmly believed that the poplar and the pit possessed the peculiar power of a talisman; I never felt dull when I was near them. I did not understand then that I was not dull just because I was a child. Well, now I'm grown up, the talisman no longer works."
"How long did you live here altogether?" asked Arkady.
"Two years on end; after that we traveled about. We led a roving life, chiefly wandering from town to town."
"And has this house been standing long?"
"Yes. My grandfather built it, my mother's father."
"Who was he, your grandfather?"
"The devil knows--some kind of second-major. He served under Suvorov and always told stories about marching across the Alps--inventions probably."
"You have a portrait of Suvorov hanging in the drawing room. I like such little houses as yours, old-fashioned and warm; and they always have a special kind of scent about them."
"A smell of lamp oil and clover," remarked Bazarov, yawning. "And the flies in these dear little houses . . . fugh!"
"Tell me," began Arkady after a short pause, "were they strict with you as a child?"
"You see what my parents are like. They're not a severe sort."
"Are you fond of them, Evgeny?"
"I am, Arkady."
"How they adore you!"
Bazarov was silent for a while. "Do you know what I'm thinking about?" he said at last, clasping his hands behind his head.
"No. What is it?"
"I'm thinking how happy life is for my parents! My father at the age of sixty can fuss around, chat about 'palliative measures,' heal people; he plays the magnanimous master with the peasants--has a gay time in fact; and my mother is happy too; her day is so crammed with all sorts of jobs, with sighs and groans, that she hasn't a moment to think about herself; while I... ."
"While I think; here I lie under a haystack . . . The tiny narrow space I occupy is so minutely small in comparison with the rest of space where I am not and which has nothing to do with me; and the portion of time in which it is my lot to live is so insignificant beside the eternity where I have not been and will not be . . . And in this atom, in this mathematical point, the blood circulates, the brain works and wants something . . . how disgusting! how petty!"
"Allow me to point out that what you say applies generally to everyone."
"You're right," interrupted Bazarov. "I wanted to say that they, my parents I mean, are occupied and don't worry about their own nothingness; it doesn't sicken them . . . while I . . . I feel nothing but boredom and anger."
"Anger? Why anger?"
"Why? How can you ask why? Have you forgotten?"
"I remember everything, but still I can't agree that you have any right to be angry. You're unhappy, I realize, but . . ."
"Ugh! I can see, Arkady Nikolaich, that you regard love like all modern young men; cluck, cluck, cluck, you call to the hen, and the moment the hen comes near, off you run! I'm not like that. But enough of it all. It's a shame to talk about what can't be helped." He turned over on his side. "Ah, there goes a brave ant dragging along a half-dead fly. Take her away, brother, take her! Don't pay any attention to her resistance; take full advantage of your animal privilege to be without pity--not like us self-destructive creatures!"
"What are you talking about, Evgeny? When did you destroy yourself?"
Bazarov raised his head.
"That's the only thing I'm proud of. I have not crushed myself, so a little woman can't crush me. Amen! It's all over. You won't hear another word from me about it."
Both friends lay for a time in silence.
"Yes," began Bazarov, "man is a strange animal. When one gets a side view from a distance of the dumb life our 'fathers' lead here, one thinks: what could be better? You eat and drink and know you are acting in the most righteous and sensible way. If not, you're devoured by the tedium of it. One wants to have dealings with people even if it's only to abuse them."
"One ought to arrange one's life so that every moment of it becomes significant," remarked Arkady thoughtfully.
"I dare say. The significant may be deceptive but sweet, though it's even quite possible to put up with the insignificant . . . But petty squabbles, petty squabbles . . . that's a misery."
"Petty squabbles don't exist for the man who refuses to recognize them as such."
"Hm . . . what you have said is a commonplace turned upside-down."
"What? What do you mean by that phrase?"
"I'll explain; to say for instance that education is beneficial, that's a commonplace, but to say that education is harmful is a commonplace turned upside-down. It sounds more stylish, but fundamentally it's one and the same thing!"
"But where is the truth--on which side?"
"Where? I answer you like an echo; where?"
"You're in a melancholy mood today, Evgeny."
"Really? The sun must have melted my brain and I ought not to have eaten so many raspberries either."
"In that case it wouldn't be a bad plan to doze a bit," remarked Arkady.
"Certainly. Only don't look at me; everyone has a stupid face when he's asleep."
"But isn't it all the same to you what people think of you?"
"I don't quite know how to answer you. A real man ought not to worry about such things; a real man is not meant to be thought about, but is someone who must be either obeyed or hated."
"It's odd! I don't hate anyone," observed Arkady after a pause.
"And I hate so many. You're a tenderhearted listless creature; how could you hate anyone . . . ? You're timid, you haven't much self-reliance."
"And you," interrupted Arkady, "do you rely on yourself? Have you a high opinion of yourself?"
Bazarov paused. "When I meet a man who can hold his own beside me," he said with slow deliberation, "then I'll change my opinion of myself. Hatred! You said, for instance, today as we passed the cottage of our bailiff Philip--the one that's so neat and clean--well, you said, Russia will achieve perfection when the poorest peasant has a house like that, and every one of us ought to help to bring it about . . . And I felt such a hatred for this poorest peasant, this Philip or Sidor, for whom I have to be ready to sacrifice my skin and who won't even thank me for it--and why should he thank me? Well, suppose he lives in a clean house, while weeds grow out of me--so, what next?"
"That's enough, Evgeny . . . listening to you today one would be driven to agree with those who reproach us for absence of principles."
"You talk like your uncle. Principles don't exist in general--you haven't yet managed to understand even that much!--but there are sensations. Everything depends on them."
"How is that?"
"Well, take me for instance; I adopt a negative attitude by virtue of my sensations; I like to deny, my brain is made like that--and there's nothing more to it. Why does chemistry appeal to me? Why do you like apples?--also by virtue of our sensations. It's all the same thing. People will never penetrate deeper than that. Not everyone would tell you so, and another time I shouldn't tell you so myself."
"What, and is honesty also--a sensation?"
"I should think so."
"Evgeny . . . !" began Arkady in a dejected tone.
"Well? What? That's not to your taste?" broke in Bazarov. "No, brother. If you've made up your mind to mow down everything--don't spare your own legs . . . ! But we've philosophized enough. 'Nature heaps up the silence of sleep,' said Pushkin."
"He never said anything of the kind," retorted Arkady.
"Well, if he didn't, he might have and ought to have said it as a poet. By the way, he must have served in the army."
"Pushkin was never in the army!"
"Why, on every page of his one reads, to arms! to arms! for Russia's honor!"
"What legends you invent! Really, it's positive slander."
"Slander? There's a weighty matter. He's found a solemn word to frighten me with. Whatever slander you may utter against a man, you may be sure he deserves twenty times worse than that in reality."
"We had better go to sleep," said Arkady with vexation.
"With the greatest of pleasure," answered Bazarov.
But neither of them slept. Some kind of almost hostile feeling had taken hold of both young men. Five minutes later, they opened their eyes and glanced at each other in silence.
"Look," said Arkady suddenly, "a dry maple leaf has broken off and is falling to the ground; its movements are exactly like a butterfly's flight. Isn't it strange? Such a gloomy dead thing so like the most care-free and lively one."
"Oh, my friend Arkady Nikolaich," exclaimed Bazarov, "one thing I implore of you; no beautiful talk."
"I talk as I best know how to . . . yes, really this is sheer despotism. A thought came into my head; why shouldn't I express it?"
"All right, and why shouldn't I express my thoughts? I think that sort of beautiful talk is positively indecent."
"And what is decent? Abuse?"
"Ah, so I see clearly you intend to follow in your uncle's footsteps. How pleased that idiot would be if he could hear you now!"
"What did you call Pavel Petrovich?"
"I called him, as he deserves to be called, an idiot."
"Really, this is unbearable," cried Arkady.
"Aha! family feeling spoke out," remarked Bazarov coolly. "I've noticed how obstinately it clings to people. A man is ready to give up everything and break with every prejudice; but to admit, for instance, that his brother who steals other people's handkerchiefs is a thief--that's beyond his power. And as a matter of fact--to think--my brother, mine--and no genius--that's more than one can swallow!"
"A simple sense of justice spoke in me and no family feeling at all," retorted Arkady vehemently. "But since you don't understand such a feeling, as it's not among your sensations, you're in no position to judge it!"
"In other words, Arkady Kirsanov is too exalted for my understanding. I bow down to him and say no more."
"That's enough, Evgeny; we shall end by quarreling."
"Ah, Arkady, do me a favor, let's quarrel properly for once, to the bitter end, to the point of destruction."
"But then perhaps we should end by . . ."
"By fighting?" broke in Bazarov. "Well? Here in the hay, in such idyllic surroundings, far from the world and from human eyes, it wouldn't matter. But you'd be no match for me. I'd have you by the throat at once . . ."
Barazov stretched out his long tough fingers.
Arkady turned round and prepared, as if joking, to resist . . . But his friend's face struck him as so sinister--he saw such a grim threat in the crooked smile which twisted his lips, in his glaring eyes, that he felt instinctively taken aback . . .
"So that is where you have got to," said the voice of Vassily Ivanovich at this moment, and the old army doctor appeared before the young men dressed in a homemade linen jacket, with a straw hat, also homemade, on his head. "I've been looking for you everywhere . . . But you've picked out a splendid place and you're perfectly employed. Lying on the earth and gazing up to heaven--do you know there's a special significance in that?"
"I gaze up to heaven only when I want to sneeze," growled Bazarov, and turning to Arkady, he added in an undertone: "A pity he interrupted us."
"Well, that's enough," whispered Arkady, and secretly squeezed his friend's hand. But no friendship can withstand such shocks for long.
"I look at you, my youthful friends," said Vassily Ivanovich meanwhile, shaking his head and leaning his folded arms on a skillfully bent stick which he himself had carved with a Turk's figure for a knob. "I look, and I can't refrain from admiration. You have so much strength, such youthful bloom, abilities and talents! Truly . . . A Castor and Pollux."
"Get along with you--shooting off into mythology!" said Bazarov. "You can see he was a Latin scholar in his day. Why, I seem to remember, you won the silver medal for Latin composition, didn't you?"
"The Dioscuri, the Dioscuri!"; repeated Vassily Ivanovich.
"Come, stop that, father; don't go sentimental."
"Just once in an age, surely it's permissible," murmured the old man. "Anyhow, I have not been searching for you, gentlemen, in order to pay you compliments, but in order to tell you, in the first place, that we shall soon be dining; and secondly, I wanted to warn you, Evgeny . . . you are a sensible man, you know the world and you know what women are, and therefore you will excuse . . . your mother wanted a service held for you in thanksgiving, for your arrival. Don't imagine that I'm asking you to attend that service--it's already over; but Father Alexei . . ."
"Well, yes, the priest; he is--to dine with us . . . I did not expect this and was not even in favor of it--but somehow it turned out like that--he misunderstood me--and, well, Arina Vlasyevna--besides, he's a worthy and reasonable man."
"I suppose he won't eat my share at dinner?" inquired Bazarov.
Vassily Ivanovich laughed. "The things you say!"
"Well, I ask nothing more. I'm ready to sit down at table with anyone."
Vassily Ivanovich set his hat straight.
"I was sure in advance," he said, "that you were above all such prejudices. Here am I, an old man of sixty-two, and even I have none." (Vassily Ivanovich dared not confess that he had himself wanted the thanksgiving service--he was no less devout than his wife.) "And Father Alexei very much wanted to make your acquaintance. You will like him, you'll see. He doesn't mind playing cards even, and he sometimes--but this is between ourselves--goes so far as to smoke a pipe."
"Fancy that. We'll have a round of whist after dinner and I'll beat him."
"Ha! ha! ha! we shall see; that's an open question."
"Well, won't it remind you of old times?" said Bazarov with a peculiar emphasis.
Vassily Ivanovich's bronzed cheeks blushed with confusion. "For shame, Evgeny, . . . Let bygones be bygones. Well, I'm ready to confess before this gentleman, I had that very passion in my youth--and how I paid for it too . . . ! But how hot it is. May I sit down with you? I hope I shan't be in your way."
"Not in the least," answered Arkady.
Vassily Ivanovich lowered himself, sighing, into the hay. "Your present quarters, my dear sirs," he began, "remind me of my military bivouacking existence, the halts of the field hospital somewhere like this under a haystack--and even for that we thanked God." He sighed. "What a lot I've experienced in my time. For instance, if you allow me, I will tell you a curious episode about the plague in Bessarabia."
"For which you won the Vladimir cross?" interposed Bazarov. "We know--we know . . . By the way, why aren't you wearing it?"
"Why, I told you that I have no prejudices," muttered Vassily Ivanovich (only the evening before he had had the red ribbon unpicked from his coat) and he started to tell his story about the plague. "Why, he has fallen asleep," he whispered suddenly to Arkady, pointing to Evgeny, and winked good naturedly. "Evgeny, get up!" he added loudly. "Let's go in to dinner."
Father Alexei, a handsome stout man with thick, carefully combed hair, with an embroidered belt round his mauve silk cassock, appeared to be a very skillful and adaptable person. He made haste to be the first to offer his hand to Arkady and Bazarov, as though realizing in advance that they did not want his blessing, and in general he behaved without constraint. He neither betrayed his own opinions nor provoked the other members of the company; he made an appropriate joke about seminary Latin and stood up in defense of his bishop; he drank two glasses of wine and refused a third; he accepted a cigar from Arkady, but did not smoke it on the spot, saying he would take it home with him. Only he had a somewhat unpleasant habit of raising his hand from time to time, slowly and carefully, to catch the flies on his face, and sometimes managing to squash them. He took his seat at the green card table with a measured expression of satisfaction, and ended by winning from Bazarov two and a half rubles in notes (they had no idea of how to reckon in silver in Arina Vlasyevna's house).
She sat, as before, close to her son--she did not play cards--and as before she leaned her cheek on her little clenched hand; she got up only to order some fresh sweetmeat to be served. She was afraid to caress Bazarov, and he gave her no encouragement, for he did nothing to invite her caresses; and besides, Vassily Ivanovich had advised her not to "disturb" him too much. "Young men are not fond of that sort of thing," he explained to her. (There is no need to say what dinner was like that day; Timofeich in person had galloped off at dawn to procure some special Circassian beef; the bailiff had gone off in another direction for turbot, perch and crayfish; for mushrooms alone the peasant woman had been paid forty-two kopeks in copper); but Arina Vlasyevna's eyes, looking steadfastly at Bazarov, expressed not devotion and tenderness alone, for sorrow was visible in them also, mingled with curiosity and fear, and with a trace of humble reproachfulness.
Bazarov, however, was in no state of mind to analyze the exact expression of his mother's eyes; he seldom turned to her and then only with some short question. Once he asked her for her hand "for luck"; she quietly placed her soft little hand on his rough broad palm.
"Well," she asked after waiting for a time, "did it help?"
"Worse luck than before," he answered with a careless smile. "He plays too rashly," pronounced Father Alexei, as it were compassionately, and stroked his handsome beard.
"That was Napoleon's principle, good Father, Napoleon's," interposed Vassily Ivanovich, leading with an ace.
"But it brought him to the isle of St. Helena," observed Father Alexei, and trumped his ace.
"Wouldn't you like some black-currant tea, Enyushka?" asked Arina Vlasyevna.
Bazarov merely shrugged his shoulders.
* * * * * * *
"No!" he said to Arkady the following day, "I go away from here tomorrow. I'm bored; I want to work but I can't here. I will come again to your place; I left all my apparatus there. In your house at least one can shut oneself up, but here my father keeps on repeating to me, 'My study is at your disposal--nobody shall interfere with you,' and all the time he himself is hardly two steps away. And I'm ashamed somehow to shut myself away from him. It's the same thing with my mother. I hear how she sighs on the other side of the wall, and then if one goes in to see her--one has nothing to say."
"She will be most upset," said Arkady, "and so will he."
"I shall come back to them."
"Well, when I'm on my way to Petersburg."
"I feel particularly sorry for your mother."
"How's that? Has she won your heart with her raspberries?"
Arkady lowered his eyes.
"You don't understand your mother, Evgeny. She's not only a very good woman, she's really very wise. This morning she talked to me for half an hour, and so interestingly, so much to the point."
"I suppose she was expatiating about me the whole time."
"We didn't talk about you only."
"Maybe as an outsider you see more. If a woman can keep up a conversation for half an hour, it's already a good sign. But I'm going away, all the same."
"It won't be easy for you to break the news to them. They are making plans for us a fortnight ahead."
"No; it won't be easy. Some devil drove me to tease my father today; he had one of his rent-paying peasants flogged the other day and quite rightly too--yes, yes, don't look at me in such horror--he did right because that peasant is a frightful thief and drunkard; only my father had no idea that I, as they say, became aware of the facts. He was very much embarrassed, and now I shall have to upset him as well . . . Never mind! He'll get over it."
Bazarov said, "Never mind," but the whole day passed before he could bring himself to tell Vassily Ivanovich about his decision. At last when he was just saying good night to him in the study, he remarked with a strained yawn: "Oh yes . . . I almost forgot to tell you--will you send to Fedot's for our horses tomorrow?"
Vassily Ivanovich was dumbfounded.
"Is Mr. Kirsanov leaving us then?"
"Yes, and I'm going with him."
Vassily Ivanovich almost reeled over. "You are going away?"
"Yes . . . I must. Make the arrangements about the horses, please."
"Very good . . . to the posting station . . . very good--only--only--why is it?"
"I must go to stay with him for a short time. Afterwards I will come back here again."
"Ah! for a short time . . . very good."
Vassily Ivanovich took out his handkerchief and as he blew his nose bent himself almost double to the ground. "All right, it will--all be done. I had thought you were going to stay with us . . . a little longer. Three days . . . after three years. . . that's rather little, rather little, Evgeny."
"But I tell you I'm coming back soon. I have to go."
"You have to . . . Well! Duty comes before everything else . . . So you want the horses sent? All right. Of course Anna and I never expected this. She has just managed to get some flowers from a neighbor; she wanted to decorate your room." (Vassily Ivanovich did not even mention that every morning the moment it was light he consulted with Timofeich, and standing with his bare feet in slippers, pulling out with trembling fingers one crumpled ruble note after another, entrusted him with various purchases, particularly of good things to eat, and of red wine, which, as far as he could observe, the young men liked extremely.) "Liberty--is the main thing--that is my principle . . . one has no right to interfere. . . no . . ."
He suddenly fell silent and made for the door.
"We shall soon see each other again, father, really."
But Vassily Ivanovich did not turn round, he only waved his hand and went out. When he got back to the bedroom, he found his wife in bed and began to say his prayers in a whisper in order not to wake her up. She woke, however.
"Is that you, Vassily Ivanovich?" she asked.
"Yes, little mother."
"Have you come from Enyusha? Do you know, I'm afraid he may not be comfortable on that sofa. I told Anfisushka to put out for him your traveling mattress and the new pillows; I should have given him our feather bed, but I seem to remember he doesn't like sleeping soft."
"Never mind, little mother, don't you worry. He's all right. Lord have mercy on us sinners," he continued his prayer in a low voice. Vassily Ivanovich felt sorry for his old wife; he did not wish to tell her overnight what sorrow there was in store for her.
Bazarov and Arkady left on the following day. From early morning the house was filled with gloom; Anfisushka let the dishes slip out of her hand; even Fedka became bewildered and at length took off his boots. Vassily Ivanovich fussed more than ever; obviously he was trying to make the best of it, talked loudly and stamped his feet, but his face looked haggard and he continually avoided looking his son in the eyes. Arina Vlasyevna wept quietly; she would have broken down and lost all control of herself if her husband had not spent two whole hours exhorting her early that morning.
When Bazarov, after repeated promises to come back within a month at the latest, tore himself at last from the embraces detaining him, and took his seat in the tarantass, when the horses started, the bell rang and the wheels were moving--and when it was no longer any use gazing after them, when the dust had settled down, and Timofeich, all bent and tottering as he walked, had crept back to his little room; when the old people were left alone in the house, which also seemed to have suddenly shrunk and grown decrepit--Vassily Ivanovich, who a few moments before had been heartily waving his handkerchief on the steps, sank into a chair and his head fell on his breast.
"He has abandoned us, cast us off!" he muttered. "Abandoned us, he only feels bored with us now. Alone, all alone, like a solitary finger," he repeated several times, stretching out his hand with the forefinger standing out from the others.
Then Arina Vlasyevna came up to him and leaning her grey head against his grey head, she said: "What can we do, Vasya? A son is a piece broken off. He's like a falcon that flies home and flies away again when it wants; but you and I are like mushrooms growing in the hollow of a tree, we sit side by side without moving from the same place. Only I will never change for you, and you will always be the same for me."
Vassily Ivanovich took his hands from his face and embraced his wife, his friend, more warmly than he had ever embraced her in his youth; she comforted him in his sorrow.
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
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