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THE NOVELS OF 
IVAN TURGENEV 





THE NOVELS OF 


IVAN TURGENEV 


I. 


RUDIN. 


II. 


A HOUSE OF GENTLEFOLK. 


III. 


ON THE EVE. 


IV. 


FATHERS AND CHILDREN. 


V. 


SMOKE. 


VI. & VII. 


VIRGIN SOIL. 2 vols. 


VIII. & IX. 


A SPORTSMAN'S SKETCHES. 2Vols. 


X. 


DREAM TALES AND PROSE POEMS. 


XI. 


THE TORRENTS OF SPRING, ETC. 


XII. 


A LEAR OF THE STEPPES. 


XIII. 


THE DIARY OF A SUPERFLUOUS 




MAN, ETC. 


XIV. 


A DESPERATE CHARACTER, ETC. 


XV. 


THE JEW, ETC. 


NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 


LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN 



LR 



THE NOVELS OF IVAN TURGENEV 



ON THE EVE 



TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN 

By 

CONSTANCE GARNETT 



525741 

i . "8 -Si 



NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN 
MCMXX 



Printed in Great Britain 



INTRODUCTION 

This exquisite novel, first published in 1859, - 
like so many great works of art, holds depths 
of meaning which at first sight lie veiled under 
the simplicity and harmony of the technique. 
To the English reader On the Eve is a charm- 
ingly drawn picture of a quiet Russian house- 
hold, with a delicate analysis of a young girl's 
soul ; but to Russians it is also a deep and 1 
penetrating diagnosis of the destinies of the 
Russia of the fifties. 

Elena, the Russian girl, is the central figure of 
the novel. In comparing her with Turgenev's 
other women, the reader will remark that he is 
allowed to come into closer spiritual contact 
with her than even with Lisa. The successful 
portraits of women drawn by men in fiction are 
generally figures for the imagination to play on ; 
however much that is told to one about them, 



ON THE EVE 

example of creative skill, we cannot call to 
mind any Instance in the range of European 
fiction where the typical artist mind, on its 
lighter sides, has been analysed with such 
delicacy and truth as here by Turgenev. Haw- 
thorne and others have treated it, but the 
colour seems to fade from their artist char- 
acters when a comparison is made between 
them and Shubin. And yet Turgenev's is but 
a sketch of an artist, compared with, let us say, 
the admirable figure of Roderick Hudson. The 
irresponsibility, alertness, the whimsicality and 
mobility of Shubin combine to charm and 
irritate the reader in the exact proportion that 
such a character affects him in actual life ; there 
is not the least touch of exaggeration, and all 
the values are kept to a marvel. Looking at 
the minor characters, perhaps one may say 
that the husband, Stahov, will be the most 
suggestive, and not the least familiar char- 
acter, to English households. His essentially 
masculine meanness, his self-complacency, his 
unconscious indifference to the opinion of 
others, his absurdity as ' un pere de famille ' 
is balanced by the foolish affection and jealousy 
which his wife, Anna Vassilyevna, cannot help 



INTRODUCTION 

feeling towards him. The perfect balance and 
duality of Turgenev's outlook is here shown 
by the equal cleverness with which he seizes on 
and quietly derides the typical masculine and 
typical feminine attitude in such a married life 
as the two Stahovs*. 

Turning to the figure of the Bulgarian hero, 
it is interesting to find from the Souvenirs sur 
Tourgutnev (published in 1887) that Turgenev's 
only distinct failure of importance in character 
drawing, Insarov, was not taken from life, but 
was the legacy of a friend KarateierT, who 
implored Turgenev to work out an unfinished 
conception. Insarov is a figure of wood. He is 
so cleverly constructed, and the central idea 
behind him is so strong, that his wooden joints 
move naturally, and the spectator has only the 
instinct, not the certainty, of being cheated. 
The idea he incarnates, that of a man whose 
soul is aflame with patriotism, is finely sug- 
gested, but an idea, even a great one, does not 
make an individuality. And in fact Insarov is 
not a man, he is an automaton. To compare 
Shubin's utterances with his is to perceive 
that there is no spontaneity, no inevitability in 

Insarov. He is a patriotic clock wound up tc 
ix 






ON THE EVE 

go for the occasion, and in truth he is very 
useful. Only on his deathbed, when the un- 
expected happens, and the machinery runs 
down, do we feel moved. Then, he appears 
more striking dead than alive a rather damn- 
ing testimony to the power Turgenev credits 
him with. This artistic failure of Turgenev's 
is, as he no doubt recognised, curiously lessened 
by the fact that young girls of Elena's lofty 
idealistic type are particularly impressed by 
certain stiff types of men of action and great 
will-power, whose capacity for moving straight 
towards a certain goal by no means implies 
corresponding brain-power. The insight of a 
Shubin and the moral worth of a Bersenyev 
are not so valuable to the Elenas of this world, 
whose ardent desire to be made good use of, 
and to seek some great end, is best developed 
by strength of aim in the men they love. 

And now to see what the novel before us 
means to the Russian mind, we must turn to 
the infinitely suggestive background. Tur- 
genev's genius was of the same force in politics 
as in art ; it was that of seeing aright. He 
saw his country as it was, with clearer eyes 
x 



INTRODUCTION 

than any man before or since. If Tolstoi is 
a purer native expression of Russia's force, 
Turgenev is the personification of Russian 
aspiration working with the instruments of wide 
cosmopolitan culture. As a critic of his country- 
men nothing escaped Turgenev's eye, as a poli- 
tician he foretold nearly all that actually came 
to pass in his life, and as a consummate artist, 
led first and foremost by his love for his art, his 
novels are undying historical pictures. It is 
not that there is anything allegorical in his 
novels allegory is at the furthest pole from 
his method : it is that whenever he created an 
important figure in fiction, that figure is neces- 
sarily a revelation of the secrets of the father- 
land, the soil, the race. Turgenev, in short, was 
a psychologist not merely of men, but of nations ; 
and so the chief figure of On the Eve, Elena, 
foreshadows and stands for the rise of young 
Russia in the sixties. Elena is young Russia, 
and to whom does she turn in her prayer for 
strength ? Not to Bersenyev, the philosopher, 
the dreamer ; not to Shubin, the man carried 
outside himself by every passing distraction ; 
but to the strong man, Insarov. And here the 

irony of Insarov being made a foreigner, a 
xi 



ON THE EVE 

Bulgarian, is significant of Turgenev's distrust 
of his country's weakness. The hidden mean- 
ing of the novel is a cry to the coming men to 
unite their strength against the foe without and 
the foe within the gates ; it is an appeal to them 
not only to hasten the death of the old regime of 
Nicolas I., but an appeal to them to conquer their 
sluggishness, their weakness, and their apathy. 
It is a cry for Men. Turgenev sought in vain 
in life for a type of man to satisfy Russia, and 
ended by taking no living model for his hero, 
but the hearsay Insarov, a foreigner. Russia 
has not yet produced men of this type. But 
the artist does not despair of the future. 
Here we come upon one of the most striking 
figures of Turgenev that of Uvar Ivanovitch. 
He symbolises the ever-predominant type of 
Russian, the sleepy, slothful Slav of to-day, 
yesterday, and to-morrow. He is the Slav 
whose inherent force Europe is as ignorant of 
as he is himself. Though he speaks only twenty 
sentences in the book he is a creation of Tol- 
stoYan force. His very words are dark and of 
practically no significance. There lies the irony 
of the portrait. The last words of the novel, 
the most biting surely that Turgenev ever 
xii 



INTRODUCTION 

wrote, contain the whole essence of On the Eve. 
On the Eve of What? one asks. Time has 
given contradictory answers to the men of all 
parties. The Elenas of to-day need not turn 
their eyes abroad to find their counterpart in 
spirit ; so far at least the pessimists are re- 
futed: but the note of death that Turgenev 
strikes in his marvellous chapter on Venice 
has still for young Russia an ominous echo 
so many generations have arisen eager, only to 
be flung aside helpless, that one asks, what of 
the generation that fronts Autocracy to-day? 

1 Do you remember I asked you, u Will there ever 
be men among us?" and you answered, there will 
be. O primaeval force ! And now from here in 
" my poetic distance " I will ask you again, " What 
do you say, Uvar Ivanovitch, will there be ? " 

* Uvar Ivanovitch flourished his fingers, and fixed 
his enigmatical stare into the far distance.' 

This creation of an universal national type, 
out of the flesh and blood of a fat taciturn 
country gentleman, brings us to see that Tur- 
genev was not merely an artist, but that he was 
a poet using fiction as his medium. To this 
end it is instructive to compare Jane Austen, 

perhaps the greatest English exponent of the 
xiii 



ON THE EVE 

domestic novel, with the Russian master, and 
to note that, while as a novelist she emerges 
favourably from the comparison, she is abso- 
lutely wanting in his poetic insight. How 
petty and parochial appears her outlook in 
Emma, compared to the wide and unflinching 
gaze of Turgenev. She painted most admir- 
ably the English types she knew, and how well 
she knew them ! but she failed to correlate 
them with the national life ; and yet, while her 
men and women were acting and thinking, 
Trafalgar and Waterloo were being fought and 
won. But each of Turgenev's novels in some 
subtle way suggests that the people he intro- 
duces are playing their little part in a great 
national drama everywhere around us, invisible, 
yet audible through the clamour of voices near 
us. And so On the Eve, the work of a poet, has 
certain deep notes, which break through the 
harmonious tenor of the whole, and strangely 
and swiftly transfigure the quiet story, troub- 
ling us with a dawning consciousness of the 
march of mighty events. Suddenly a strange 
sense steals upon the reader that he is living in 
a perilous atmosphere, filling his heart with 
foreboding, and enveloping at length the char- 
xiv 



INTRODUCTION 

acters themselves, all unconsciously awaiting 
disaster in the sunny woods and gardens of 
Kuntsovo. But not till the last chapters are 
reached does the English reader perceive that 
in recreating for him the mental atmosphere of 
a single educated Russian household, Turgenev 
has been casting before his eyes the faint 
shadow of the national drama which was indeed 
played, though left unfinished, on the Balkan 
battlefields of 1876-7. Briefly, Turgenev, in 
sketching the dawn of love in a young girl's 
soul, has managed faintly, but unmistakably, 
to make spring and flourish in our minds the 
ineradicable, though hidden, idea at the back of 
Slav thought the unification of the Slav races. 
How doubly welcome that art should be 
which can lead us, the foreigners, thus straight 
to the heart of the national secrets of a great 
people, secrets which our own critics and diplo- 
matists must necessarily misrepresent. Each 
of Turgenev's novels may be said to contain a 
light-bringing rejoinder to the old-fashioned 
criticism of the Muscovite, current up to the rise 
of the Russian novel, and still, unfortunately, 
lingering among us ; but On the Eve, of all the 
novels, contains perhaps the most instructive 

XV 



ON THE EVE 

political lesson England can learn. Europe 
has always had, and most assuredly England 
has been over-rich in those alarm-monger critics, 
watchdogs for ever baying at Slav cupidity, 
treachery, intrigue, and so on and so on. It is 
useful to have these well-meaning animals on 
the political premises, giving noisy tongue 
whenever the Slav stretches out his long arm 
and opens his drowsy eyes, but how rare it is 
to find a man who can teach us to interpret a 
nation's aspirations, to gauge its inner force, its 
aim, its inevitability. Turgenev gives us such 
clues. In the respectful, if slightly forced, 
silence that has been imposed by certain recent 
political events on the tribe of faithful watch- 
dogs, it may be permitted to one to say, that 
whatever England's interest may be in relation 
to Russia's development, it is better for us to 
understand the force of Russian aims, before 
we measure our strength against it And a 
novel, such as On the Eve, though now nearly 
forty years old, and to the short-sighted out of 
date, reveals in a flash the attitude of the Slav 
towards his political destiny. His aspirations 
may have to slumber through policy or neces- 
sity ; they may be distorted or misrepresented, 



INTRODUCTION 

or led astray by official action, but we confess 
that for us, On the Eve suggests the existence of 
a mighty lake, whose waters, dammed back for 
a while, are rising slowly, but are still some way 
from the brim. How long will it take to the 
overflow ? Nobody knows ; but when the long 
winter of Russia's dark internal policy shall 
be broken up, will the snows, melting on the 
mountains, stream south-west, inundating the 
Valley of the Danube ? Or, as the national 
poet, Pushkin, has sung, will there be a pouring 
of many Slavonian rivulets into the Russian sea, 
a powerful attraction of the Slav races towards 
a common centre to create an era of peace and 
development within, whereby Russia may rise 
free and rejoicing to face her great destinies ? 
Hard and bitter is the shaping of nations. 
Uvar Ivanovitch still fixes his enigmatical stare 
into the far distance. 

EDWARD GARNETT 
January 1895. 



rvu 



THE NAMES OF THE CHARACTERS 
IN THE BOOK 

Nikolai [Nicolas] Artemyevitch Stahov. 

Anna VASsfLYEVNA. 

Elena [Lnotchka, Helene] Nikolaevna. 

Z6YA [Zoe] NlKfTISHNA MtJLLER. 

Andrei Petr6vitch Bersenyev. 

Pavel [Paul] Yakovlitch (or Yakovitch) Shi^bin. 

Dm/tri Nikan6rovitch (or Nikan6ritch) Insarov, 

Yeg6r Andreitch Kurnat6vsky. 

Uvar Ivanovitch Stahov. 

augustfna chr1stianovna. 

Annushka. 



In transcribing the Russian names into English 
a has the sound of a in father, 
c a in pane. 

I ee. 

U 00. 

y is always consonantal except when it is 

the last letter of the word. 
g is always hard. 



xix 



i 



On one of the hottest days of the summer of 
1853, in the shade of a tall lime-tree on the 
bank of the river Moskva, not far from Kuntsovo, 
two young men were lying on the grass. One, 
who looked about twenty - three, tall and 
swarthy, with a sharp and rather crooked nose, 
a high forehead, and a restrained smile on his 
wide mouth, was lying on his back and gazing 
meditatively into the distance, his small grey 
eyes half closed. The other was lying on his 
chest, his curly, fair head propped on his two 
hands ; he, too, was looking away into the 
distance. He was three years older than his 
companion, but seemed much younger. His 
moustache was only just growing, and his chin 
was covered with a light curly down. There 
was something childishly pretty, something at- 
tractively delicate, in the small features of his 
fresh round face, in his soft brown eyes, lovely 
pouting lips, and little white hands. Every- 
thing about him was suggestive of the happy 

I A 



ON THE EVE 

light-heartedness of perfect health and youth 
the carelessness, conceit, self-indulgence, and 
charm of youth. He used his eyes, and smiled 
and leaned his head as boys do who know 
that people look at them admiringly. He 
wore a loose white coat, made like a blouse, a 
blue kerchief wrapped his slender throat, and 
a battered straw hat had been flung on the 
grass beside him. 

His companion seemed elderly in comparison 
with him ; and no one would have supposed, 
from his angular figure, that he too was happy 
and enjoying himself. He lay in an awkward 
attitude ; his large head wide at the crown 
and narrower at the base hung awkwardly on 
his long neck ; awkwardness was expressed in 
the very pose of his hands, of his body, tightly 
clothed in a short black coat, and of his long 
legs with their knees raised, like the hind-legs 
of a grasshopper. For all that, it was im- 
possible not to recognise that he was a man of 
good education ; the whole of his clumsy person 
bore the stamp of good-breeding ; and his face, 
plain and even a little ridiculous as it was, 
showed a kindly nature and a thoughtful habit. 
His name was Andrei Petrovitch Bersenyev ; 
his companion, the fair-haired young man, was 
called Pavel Yakovlitch Shubin. 

' Why don't you lie on your face, like me ? ' 
2 



ON THE EVE 



began Shubin. It *s ever so much nicer so ; 
especially when you kick up your heels and 
clap them together like this. You have the 
grass under your nose ; when you 're sick of 
staring at the landscape you can watch a fat 
beetle crawling on a blade of grass, or an ant 
fussing about. It's really much nicer. But 
you 've taken up a pseudo-classical pose, for all 
the world like a ballet-dancer, when she re- 
clines upon a rock of paste-board. You should 
remember you have a perfect right to take a 
rest now. It's no joking matter to come out 
third ! Take your ease, sir ; give up all exer- 
tion, and rest your weary limbs ! ' 

Shubin delivered this speech through his 
nose in a half-lazy, half-joking voice (spoilt 
children speak so to friends of the house who 
bring them sweetmeats), and without waiting 
for an answer he went on : 

' What strikes me most forcibly in the 
ants and beetles and other worthy insects is 
their astounding seriousness. They run to and 
fro with such a solemn air, as though their life 
were something of such importance ! A man 
the lord of creation, the highest being, stares at 
them, if you please, and they pay no attention 
to him. Why, a gnat will even settle on the 
lord of creation's nose, and make use of him for 
food It 's most offensive. And, on the other 
3 



ON THE EVE 

hand, how is their life inferior to ours? And 
why shouldn't they take themselves seriously, 
if we are to be allowed to take ourselves seri- 
ously? There now, philosopher, solve that 
problem for me ! Why don't you speak ? Eh ? ' 

' What ? ' said Bersenyev, starting. 

1 What ! ' repeated Shubin. ' Your friend 
lays his deepest thoughts before you, and you 
don't listen to him.' 

' I was admiring the view. Look how hot 
and bright those fields are in the sun.' Ber- 
senyev spoke with a slight lisp. 

'There's some fine colour laid on there,' 
observed Shubin. ' Nature 's a good hand at it, 
that's the fact!' 

Bersenyev shook his head. 

'You ought to be even more ecstatic over it 
than I. It 's in your line : you 're an artist/ 

' No ; it 's not in my line/ rejoined Shubin, 
putting his hat on the back of his head. ' Flesh 
is my line; my work's with flesh modelling 
flesh, shoulders, legs, and arms, and here there 's 
no form, no finish ; it's all over the place. . . . 
Catch it if you can/ 

'But there is beauty here, too/ remarked 
Bersenyev. ' By the way, have you finished 
your bas-relief?' 

4 Which one ? ' 

' The boy with the goat/ 
4 



ON THE EVE 

' Hang it ! Hang it ! Hang it ! ' cried Shubin, 
drawling ' I looked at the genuine old things, 
the antiques, and I smashed my rubbish to 
pieces. You point to nature, and say "there's 
beauty here, too." Of course, there's beauty in 
everything, even in your nose there 's beauty ; 
but you can't try after all kinds of beauty. 
The ancients, they didn't try after it ; beauty 
came down of itself upon their creations from 
somewhere or other from heaven, I suppose. 
The whole world belonged to them ; it 's not for 
us to be so large in our reach ; our arms are 
short. We drop our hook into one little pool, 
and keep watch over it. If we get a bite, so 
much the better, if not ' 

Shubin put out his tongue. 

1 Stop, stop,' said Bensenyev, ' that 's a para- 
dox. If you have no sympathy for beauty, if 
you do not love beauty wherever you meet it, 
it will not come to you even in your art. If a 
beautiful view, if beautiful music does not touch 
your heart ; I mean, if you are not sym- 
pathetic ' 

'Ah, you are a confirmed sympathetic!' 
broke in Shubin, laughing at the new title he 
had coined, while Bersenyev sank into thought. 

' No, my dear fellow,' Shubin went on, 
'you're a clever person, a philosopher, third 
graduate of the Moscow University ; it 's dread- 
5 



ON THE EVE 

ful arguing with you, especially for an ignor- 
amus like me, but I tell you what ; besides my 
art, the only beauty I love is in women ... in 
girls, and even that 's recently.' 

He turned over on to his back and clasped 
his hands behind his head. 

A few instants passed by in silence. The 
hush of the noonday heat lay upon the drowsy, 
blazing fields. 

' Speaking of women,' Shubin began again, 
' how is it no one looks after Stahov ? Did you 
see him in Moscow?' 

'No.' 

1 The old fellow 's gone clean off his head. 
He sits for whole days together at his Augus- 
tina Christianovna's, he's bored to death, but 
still he sits there. They gaze at one another so 
stupidly. ... It's positively disgusting to see 
them. Man 's a strange animal. A man with 
such a home ; but no, he must have his Augus- 
tina Christianovna ! I don't know anything 
more repulsive than her face, just like a duck's ! 
The other day I modelled a caricature of her in 
the style of Dantan. It wasn't half bad. I 
will show it you.' 

'And Elena Nikolaevna's bust/ inquired 
Bersenyev, 'is it getting on?' 

1 No, my dear boy, it 's not getting on. That 
face is enough to drive one to despair. The 
6 



ON THE EVE 

lines are pure, severe, correct ; one would think 
there would be no difficulty in catching a like- 
ness. It's not as easy as one would think 
though. It's like a treasure in a fairy-tale 
you can't get hold of it Have you ever 
noticed how she listens? There's not a single 
feature different, but the whole expression of 
the eyes is constantly changing, and with that 
the whole face changes. What is a sculptor 
and a poor one too to do with such a face? 
She 's a wonderful creature a strange creature,' 
he added after a brief pause. 

1 Yes ; she is a wonderful girl,' Bersenyev re- 
peated after him. 

'And she the daughter of Nikolai Artem- 
yevitch Stahov ! And after that people talk 
about blood, about stock ! The amusing part 
of it is that she really is his daughter, like him, 
as well as like her mother, Anna Vassilyevna. 
I respect Anna Vassilyevna from the depths of 
my heart, she 's been awfully good to me ; but 
she 's no better than a hen. Where did Elena 
get that soul of hers? Who kindled that fire 
in her ? There 's another problem for you, 
philosopher ! ' 

But as before, the 'philosopher* made no 

reply. Bersenyev did not in general err on the 

side of talkativeness, and when he did speak, 

he expressed himself awkwardly, with hesita- 

7 



ON THE EVE 

tion, and unnecessary gesticulation. And at 
this time a kind of special stillness had fallen 
on his soul, a stillness akin to lassitude and 
melancholy. He had not long come from 
town after prolonged hard work, which had ab- 
sorbed him for many hours every day. The 
inactivity, the softness and purity of the air, 
the consciousness of having attained his object, 
the whimsical and careless talk of his friend, 
and the image so suddenly called up of one 
dear to him, all these impressions different yet 
at the same time in a way akin were mingled 
in him into a single vague emotion, which at 
once soothed and excited him, and robbed him 
of his power. He was a very highly strung 
young man. 

It was cool and peaceful under the lime-tree; 
the flies and bees seemed to hum more softly as 
they flitted within its circle of shade. The 
fresh fine grass, of purest emerald green, with- 
out a tinge of gold, did not quiver, the tall 
flower stalks stood motionless, as though en- 
chanted. On the lower twigs of the lime- 
tree the little bunches of yellow flowers hung 
still as death. At every breath a sweet fra- 
grance made its way to the very depths of 
the lungs, and eagerly the lungs inhaled it 
Beyond the river in the distance, right up to the 
horizon, all was bright and glowing. At times 

8 



ON THE EVE 

a slight breeze passed over, breaking up the 
landscape and intensifying the brightness ; 
a sunlit vapour hung over the fields. No 
sound came from the birds ; they do not 
sing in the heat of noonday ; but the grass- 
hoppers were chirping everywhere, and it was 
pleasant as they sat in the cool and quietness, 
to hear that hot, eager sound of life ; it dis- 
posed to slumber and inclined the heart to 
reveries. 

* Have you noticed,' began Bersenyev, eking 
out his words with gesticulations, 'what a strange 
feeling nature produces in us ? Everything in 
nature is so complete, so defined, I mean to say, 
so content with itself, and we understand that 
and admire it, and at the same time, in me at 
least, it always excites a kind of restlessness, a 
kind of uneasiness, even melancholy. What is 
the meaning of it? Is it that in the face of 
nature we are more vividly conscious of all our 
incompleteness, our indefiniteness, or have we 
little of that content with which nature is satis- 
fied, but something else I mean to say, what 
we need, nature has not ?' 

H'm,' replied Shubin, * I '11 tell you, Andrei 
Petrovitch, what all that comes from. You de- 
scribe the sensations of a solitary man, who is 
not living but only looking on in ecstasy. Why 
look on? Live, yourself, and you will be all 
9 



ON THE EVE 

right. However much you knock at nature's 
door, she will never answer you in compre- 
hensible words, because she is dumb. She will 
utter a musical sound, or a moan, like a harp 
string, but don't expect a song from her. A 
living heart, now that will give you your answet 
especially a woman's heart. So, my dear 
fellow, I advise you to get yourself some one to 
share your heart, and all your distressing sensa- 
tions will vanish at once. That 's what we 
need," as you say. This agitation, and melan- 
choly, all that, you know, is simply a hunger of 
a kind. Give the stomach some real food, and 
everything will be right directly. Take your 
place in the landscape, live in the body, my 
dear boy. x^nd after all, what is nature ? what 's 
the use of it ? Only hear the word, love 
what an intense, glowing sound it has ! Nature 
what a cold, pedantic expression. And so' 
(Shubin began humming), * my greetings to 
Marya Petrovna ! or rather,' he added, ' not 
Marya Petrovna, but it 's all the same ! Too Die 
compreny? 

Bersenyev got up and stood with his chin 
leaning on his clasped hands. What is there 
to laugh at?' he said, without looking at his 
companion, ' why should you scoff? Yes, you 
are right : love is a grand word, a grand feeling. 
. . . But what sort of love do you mean ? ' 

IO 



ON THE EVE 

Shubin too, got up. ' What sort ? What 
you like, so long as it 's there. I will confess to 
you that I don't believe in the existence of 
different kinds of love. If you are in love ' 

1 With your whole heart/ put in Bersenyev. 

* Well, of course, that 's an understood thing ; 
the heart 's not an apple ; you can't divide it. If 
you're in love, you're justified. And I wasn't 
thinking of scoffing. My heart 's as soft at this 
moment as if it had been melted. ... I only 
wanted to explain why nature has the effect on 
us you spoke of. It 's because she arouses in us 
a need for love, and is not capable of satisfying 
it. Nature is gently driving us to other living 
embraces, but we don't understand, and expect 
something from nature herself. Ah, Andrei, 
Andrei, this sun, this sky is beautiful, every- 
thing around us is beautiful, still you are 
sad ; but if, at this instant, you were holding 
the hand of a woman you loved, if that hand 
and the whole woman were yours, if you were 
even seeing with her eyes, feeling not your own 
isolated emotion, but her emotion nature 
would not make you melancholy or restless 
then, and you would not be observing nature's 
beauty ; nature herself would be full of joy and 
praise ; she would be re-echoing your hymn, 
because then you would have given her dumb 
nature speech ! ' 

ii 



ON THE EVE 

Shubin leaped on to his feet and walked twice 
up and down, but Bersenyev bent his head, 
and his face was overcast by a faint flush. 

1 1 don't altogether agree with you,' he began : 
1 nature does not always urge us . . . towards 
love.' (He could not at once pronounce the 
word.) * Nature threatens us, too ; she reminds 
us of dreadful . . . yes, insoluble mysteries. Is 
she not destined to swallow us up, is she not 
swallowing us up unceasingly? She holds life 
and death as well ; and death speaks in her as 
loudly as life.' 

* In love, too, there is both life and death,' 
interposed Shubin. 

1 And then,' Bersenyev went on : ' when I, for 
example, stand in the spring in the forest, in a 
green glade, when I can fancy the romantic 
notes of Oberon's fairy horn ' (Bersenyev was a 
little ashamed when he had spoken these words) 
' is that, too ' 

1 The thirst for love, the thirst for happiness, 
nothing more ! ' broke in Shubin. ' I, too, 
know those notes, I know the languor and the 
expectation which come upon the soul in the 
forest's shade, in its deep recesses, or at evening 
in the open fields when the sun sets and the 
river mist rises behind the bushes. But forest, 
and river, and fields, and sky, every cloud and 
every blade of grass sets me expecting, hoping 

12 



ON THE EVE 

for happiness, I feel the approach, I hear the 
voice of happiness calling in everything. " God 
of my worship, bright and gay!" That was 
how I tried to begin my sole poem ; you must 
own it 's a splendid first line, but I could never 
produce a second. Happiness ! happiness ! as 
long as life is not over, as long as we have the 
use of all our limbs, as long as we are going up, 
not down, hill ! Damn it all ! ' pursued Shubin 
with sudden vehemence, ' we are young, and 
neither fools nor monsters ; we will conquer 
happiness for ourselves ! ' 

He shook his curls, and turned a confident 
almost challenging glance upwards to the sky. 
Bersenyev raised his eyes and looked at him. 

1 Is there nothing higher than happiness ? ' he 
commented softly. 

'And what, for instance?' asked Shubin, 
stopping short. 

' Why, for instance, you and I are, as you say, 
young ; we are good men, let us suppose ; each 
of us desires happiness for himself. . . . But is 
that word, happiness, one that could unite us, set 
us both on fire, and make us clasp each other's 
hands ? Isn't that word an egoistic one ; I 
mean, isn't it a source of disunion ? ' 

1 Do you know words, then, that unite men ? ' 

' Yes ; and they are not few in number ; and 
you know them, too.' 

13 



ON THE EVE 

Eh? What words?' 

*Well, even Art since you are an artist 
Country, Science, Freedom, Justice.' 

* And what of love ? ' asked Shubin. 

1 Love, too, is a word that unites ; but not the 
love you are eager for now ; the love which is 
not enjoyment, the love which is self-sacrifice.' 

Shubin frowned. 

' That 's all very well for Germans ; I want to 
love for myself; I want to be first.' 

1 To be first,' repeated Bersenyev. ' But it 
seems to me that to put one's-self in the second 
place is the whole significance of our life.' 

* If all men were to act as you advise,' com- 
mented Shubin with a plaintive expression, 
1 none on earth would eat pine-apples ; every one 
would be offering them to other people.' 

1 That 's as much as to say, pine-apples are not 
necessary ; but you need not be alarmed ; there 
will always be plenty of people who like them 
enough to take the bread out of other men's 
mouths to get them.' 

Both friends were silent a little. 

* I met Insarov again the other day,' began 
Bersenyev. ' I invited him to stay with me ; I 
really must introduce him to you and to the 
Stahovs.' 

* Who is Insarov ? Ah, to be sure, isn't it 
that Servian or Bulgarian you were telling me 

14 



ON THE EVE 

about ? The patriot ? Now isn't it he who *s at 
the bottom of all these philosophical ideas ? ' 
Perhaps.' 

* Is he an exceptional individual?' 

Yes.' 

'Clever? Talented?' 

'Clever talented I don't know, I don't 
think so.' 

' Not ? Then, what is there remarkable in 
him?' 

' You shall see. But now I think it 's time to 
be going. Anna Vassilyevna will be waiting 
for us, very likely. What 's the time ? ' 

1 Three o'clock. Let us go. How baking it 
is i This conversation has set all my blood 
aflame. There was a moment when you, too, 
... I am not an artist for nothing ; I observe 
everything. Confess, you are interested in a 
woman ? ' 

Shubin tried to get a look at Bersenyev's 
face, but he turned away and walked out of 
the lime-tree's shade. Shubin went after him, 
moving his little feet with easy grace. Bersen- 
yev walked clumsily, with his shoulders high 
and his neck craned forward. Yet, he looked a 
man of finer breeding than Shubin ; more of a 
gentleman, one might say, if that word had not 
been so vulgarised among us. 



is 



II 

The young men went down to the river Moskva 
and walked along its bank. There was a breath 
of freshness from the water, and the soft plash 
of tiny waves caressed the ear. 

'I would have another bathe,' said Shubin, 
'only I'm afraid of being late. Look at the 
river ; it seems to beckon us. The ancient 
Greeks would have beheld a nymph in it. But 
we are not Greeks, O nymph ! we are thick- 
skinned Scythians.' 

' We have roussalkas] observed Bersenyev. 

1 Get along with your roussalkas ! What 's 
the use to me a sculptor of those children of 
a cold, terror-stricken fancy, those shapes be- 
gotten in the stifling hut, in the dark of winter 
nights? I want light, space. . . . Good God, 
when shall I go to Italy? When ' 

'To Little Russia, I suppose you mean ?' 

' For shame, Andrei Petrovitch, to reproach 
me for an act of unpremeditated folly, which I 
have repented bitterly enough without that 
16 



ON THE EVE 

Oh, of course, I behaved like a fool ; Anna 
Vassilyevna most kindly gave me the money 
for an expedition to Italy, and I went off to 
the Little Russians to eat dumplings and ' 

1 Don't let me have the rest, please,' interposed 
Bersenyev. 

1 Yet still, I will say, the money was not spent 
in vain. I saw there such types, especially of 
women. ... Of course, I know ; there is no 
salvation to be found outside of Italy ! ' 

* You will go to Italy,' said Bersenyev, with- 
out turning towards him, ' and will do nothing. 
You will always be pluming your wings and 
never take flight. We know you ! ' 

1 Stavasser has taken flight. . . . And he 's 
not the only one. If I don't fly, it will prove 
that I 'm a sea penguin, and have no wings. 
I 'm stifled here, I want to be in Italy,' pursued 
Shubin, there is sunshine, there is beauty.' 

A young girl in a large straw hat, with a pink 
parasol on her shoulder, came into sight at that 
instant, in the little path along which the friends 
were walking. 

'But what do I see? Even here, there is 
beauty coming to meet us ! A humble artist's 
compliments to the enchanting Zoya ! ' Shubin 
cried at once, with a theatrical flourish of his 
hat. 

The young girl to whom this exclamation re- 
17 b 



ON THE EVE 

ferred, stopped, threatening him with her finger, 
and, waiting for the two friends to come up to 
her, she said in a ringing voice : 

' Why is it, gentlemen, you don't come in to 
dinner ? It is on the table.' 

'What do I hear?' said Shubin, throwing his 
arms up. 'Can it be that you, bewitching 
Zoya, faced such heat to come and look for 
us ? Dare I think that is the meaning of your 
words ? Tell me, can it be so ? Or no, do not 
utter that word ; I shall die of regret on the 
spot' 

' Oh, do leave off, Pavel Yakovlitch,' replied 
the young girl with some annoyance. ' Why 
will you never talk to me seriously ? I shall be 
angry,' she added with a little coquettish 
grimace, and she pouted. 

' You will not be angry with me, ideal Zoya 
Nikitishna ; you would not drive me to the 
dark depths of hopeless despair. And I can't 
talk to you seriously, because I 'm not a serious 
person.' 

The young girl shrugged her shoulders, and 
turned to Bersenyev. 

' There, he 's always like that ; he treats me 
like a child ; and I am eighteen. I am grown- 
up now.' 

'O Lord!' groaned Shubin, rolling his eyes 
upwards ; and Bersenyev smiled quietly. 
18 



ON THE EVE 

The girl stamped with her little foot. 

1 Pavel Yakovlitch, I shall be angry ! Htlene 
was coming with me,' she went on, ' but she 
stopped in the garden. The heat frightened her, 
but I am not afraid of the heat. Come along.' 

She moved forward along the path, slightly 
swaying her slender figure at each step, and 
with a pretty black-mittened little hand push- 
ing her long soft curls back from her face. 

The friends walked after her (Shubin first 
pressed his hands, without speaking, to his 
heart, and then flung them higher than his head), 
and in a few instants they came out in front of 
one of the numerous country villas with which 
Kuntsovo is surrounded. A small wooden house 
with a gable, painted a pink colour, stood in the 
middle of the garden, and seemed to be peeping 
out innocently from behind the green trees. 
Zoya was the first to open the gate ; she ran 
into the garden, crying : g I have brought the 
wanderers ! ' A young girl, with a pale and ex- 
pressive face, rose from a garden bench near the 
little path, and in the doorway of the house 
appeared a lady in a lilac silk dress, holding an 
embroidered cambric handkerchief over her head 
to screen it from the sun, and smiling with a 
weary and listless air. 



19 



HI 



Anna Vassilyevna Stahov her maiden 
name was Shubin had been left, at seven years 
old, an orphan and heiress of a pretty consider- 
able property. She had very rich and also very 
poor relations ; the poor relations were on her 
father's, the rich on her mother's side ; the 
latter including the senator Volgin and the 
Princes Tchikurasov. Prince Ardalion Tchiku- 
rasov, who had been appointed her guardian, 
placed her in the best Moscow boarding-school, 
and when she left school, took her into his own 
home. He kept open house, and gave balls 
in the winter. Anna Vassilyevna's future hus- 
band, Nikolai Artemyevitch Stahov, captured 
her heart at one of these balls when she was 
arrayed in a charming rose-coloured gown, with 
a wreath of tiny roses. She had treasured that 
wreath all her life. Nikolai Artemyevitch 
Stahov was the son of a retired captain, who 
had been wounded in 1812, and had received a 
lucrative post in Petersburg. Nikolai Artem- 
20 



ON THE EVE 

yevitch entered the School of Cadets at sixteen, 
and left to go into the Guards. He was a hand- 
some, well-made fellow, and reckoned almost 
the most dashing beau at evening parties of 
the middling sort, which were those he fre- 
quented for the most part ; he had not gained 
a footing in the best society. From his youth 
he had been absorbed by two ideals : to get 
into the Imperial adjutants, and to make a good 
marriage ; the first ideal he soon discarded, but 
he clung all the more closely to the second, and 
it was with that object that he went every winter 
to Moscow. Nikolai Artemyevitch spoke 
French fairly, and passed for being a philoso- 
pher, because he was not a rake. Even while 
he was no more than an ensign, he was given 
to discussing, persistently, such questions as 
whether it is possible for a man to visit the 
whole of the globe in the course of his whole 
lifetime, whether it is possible for a man to 
know what is happening at the bottom of the 
sea ; and he always maintained the view that 
these things were impossible. 

Nikolai Artemyevitch was twenty-five years 
old when he ' hooked ' Anna Vassilyevna ; he 
retired from the service and went into the 
country to manage the property. He was soon 
tired of country life, and as the peasants' 
labour was all commuted for rent he could 

21 



ON THE EVE 

easily leave the estate ; he settled in Moscow in 
his wife's house. In his youth he had played 
no games of any kind, but now he developed a 
passion for loto, and, when loto was prohibited, 
for whist. At home he was bored ; he formed 
a connection with a widow of German extrac- 
tion, and spent almost all his time with her. 
In the yean853hehad not moved to Kuntsovo; 
he stopped at Moscow, ostensibly to take 
advantage of the mineral waters ; in reality, 
he did not want to part from his widow. He 
did not, however, have much conversation with 
her, but argued more than ever as to whether 
one can foretell the weather and such questions. 
Some one had once called him a frondeur ; he 
was greatly delighted with that name. ' Yes/ he 
thought, letting the corners of his mouth drop 
complacently and shaking his head, M am not 
easily satisfied ; you won't take me in.' Nikolai 
Artemyevitch' s fronde?trism consisted in saying, 
for instance, when he heard the word nerves: 
1 And what do you mean by nerves ? ' or if some 
one alluded in his presence to the discoveries of 
astronomy, asking : ' And do you believe in 
astronomy?' When he wanted to overwhelm 
his opponent completely, he said : All that is 
nothing but words.' It must be admitted that 
to many persons remarks of that kind seemed 
(and still seem) irrefutable arguments. But 

22 



ON THE EVE 

Nikolai Artemyevitch never suspected that 
Augustina Christianovna, in letters to her 
cousin, Theodolina Peterzelius, called him Mein 
Pinselchen. 

Nikolai Artemyevitch's wife, Anna Vas- 
silyevna, was a thin, little woman with delicate 
features, and a tendency to be emotional and 
melancholy. At school, she had devoted herself 
to music and reading- novels ; afterwards she 
abandoned all that. She began to be absorbed 
in dress, and that, too, she gave up. She did, 
for a time, undertake her daughter's education, 
but she got tired of that too, and handed her 
over to a governess. She ended by spending 
her whole time in sentimental brooding and 
tender melancholy. The birth of Elena Niko- 
laevna had ruined her health, and she could 
never have another child. Nikolai Artem- 
yevitch used to hint at this fact in justifica- 
tion of his intimacy with Augustina Chris- 
tianovna. Her husband's infidelity wounded 
Anna Vassilyevna deeply ; she had been 
specially hurt by his once giving his German 
woman, on the sly, a pair of grey horses 
out of her (Anna Vassilyevna's) own stable. 
She had never reproached him to his face, 
but she complained of him secretly to every 
one in the house in turn, even to her daughter. 
Anna Vassilyevna did not care for going out, 
23 



ON THE EVE 

she liked visitors to come and sit with her and 
talk to her ; she collapsed at once when she 
was left alone. She had a very tender and 
loving heart ; life had soon crushed her. 

Pavel Yakovlitch Shubin happened to be a 
distant cousin of hers. His father had been a 
government official in Moscow. His brothers 
had entered cadets' corps ; he was the youngest, 
his mother's darling, and of delicate constitu- 
tion ; he stopped at home. They intended him 
for the university, and strained every effort to 
keep him at the gymnasium. From his early 
years he began to show an inclination for sculp- 
ture. The ponderous senator, Volgin, saw a 
statuette of his one day at his aunt's he was 
then sixteen and declared that he intended to 
protect this youthful genius. The sudden death 
of Shubin's father very nearly effected a com- 
plete transformation in the young man's future. 
The senator, the patron of genius, made him a 
present of a bust of Homer in plaster, and did 
nothing more. But Anna Vassilyevna helped 
him with money, and at nineteen he scraped 
through into the university in the faculty of 
medicine. Pavel felt no inclination for medical 
science, but, as the university was then constK 
tuted, it was impossible for him to enter in any 
other faculty. Besides, he looked forward to 
studying anatomy. But he did not complete 
24 






ON THE EVE 

his anatomical studies ; at the end of the first 
year, and before the examination, he left the 
university to devote himself exclusively to his 
vocation. He worked zealously, but by fits and 
starts ; he used to stroll about the country 
round Moscow sketching and modelling por- 
traits of peasant girls, and striking up acquain- 
tance with all sorts of people, young and old, of 
high and low degree, Italian models and Russian 
artists. He would not hear of the Academy, and 
recognised no one as a teacher. He was pos- 
sessed of unmistakeable talent ; it began to be 
talked about in Moscow. His mother, who came 
of a good Parisian family, a kind-hearted and 
clever woman,had taught him French thoroughly 
and had toiled and thought for him day and 
night. She was proud of him, and when, while 
still young in years, she died of consumption, 
she entreated Anna Vassilyevna to take him 
under her care. He was at that time twenty- 
one. Anna Vassilyevna carried out her last 
wish ; a small room in the lodge of the country 
villa was given up to him. 



25 



IV 



'Come to dinner, come along/ said the lady 
of the house in a plaintive voice, and they all 
went into the dining-room. * Sit beside me, 
Zotl added Anna Vassilyevna, 'and you, 
Hdene, take our guest ; and you, Paul, please 
don't be naughty and tease Zot. My head 
aches to-day.' 

Shubin again turned his eyes up to the 
ceiling ; Zoe* responded with a half-smile. 
This Zoe\ or, to speak more precisely, Zoya 
Nikitishna Miiller, was a pretty, fair-haired, 
half- Russian German girl, with a little nose 
rather wide at the end, and tiny red lips. 
She sang Russian ballads fairly well and 
could play various pieces, both lively and 
sentimental, very correctly on the piano. She 
dressed with taste, but in a rather childish 
style, and even over-precisely. Anna Vas- 
silyevna had taken her as a companion for her 
daughter, and she kept her almost constantly at 
her side. Elena did not complain of that ; she was 
26 



ON THE EVE 

absolutely at a loss what to say to Zoya when 
she happened to be left alone with her. 

The dinner lasted rather a long time ; Ber- 
senyev talked with Elena about university life, 
and his own plans and hopes ; Shubin listened 
without speaking, ate with an exaggerated show 
of greediness, and now and then threw comic 
glances of despair at Zoya, who responded 
always with the same phlegmatic smile. After 
dinner, Elena with Bersenyev and Shubin went 
into the garden ; Zoya looked after them, and, 
with a slight shrug of her shoulders, sat down 
to the piano. Anna Vassilyevna began : 'Why 
don't you go for a walk, too ? ' but, without 
waiting for a reply, she added : ' Play me some- 
thing melancholy.' 

1 La derriiere pensfo de Weber t * suggested 
Zoya. 

1 Ah, yes, Weber,' replied Anna Vassilyevna. 
She sank into an easy chair, and the tears 
started on to her eyelashes. 

Meanwhile, Elena led the two friends to an 
arbour of acacias, with a little wooden table in 
the middle, and seats round. Shubin looked 
round, and, whispering ' W T ait a minute ! ' he ran 
off, skipping and hopping to his own room, 
brought back a piece of clay, and began 
modelling a bust of Zoya, shaking his head and 
muttering and laughing to himsel 
27 



ON THE EVE 

1 At his old tricks again/ observed Elena, 
glancing at his work. She turned to Bersenyev, 
with whom she was continuing the conversation 
begun at dinner. 

' My old tricks ! ' repeated Shubin. ' It 's a 
subject that 's simply inexhaustible ! To-day, 
particularly, she drove me out of all patience.' 

' Why so ? ' inquired Elena. ' One would 
think you were speaking of some spiteful, dis- 
agreeable old woman. She is a pretty young 
girl.' 

1 Of course/ Shubin broke in, ' she is pretty, 
very pretty ; I am sure that no one who meets 
her could fail to think : that's some one I should 
like to dance a polka with ; I 'm sure, too, 
that she knows that, and is pleased. . . . Else, 
what's the meaning of those modest simpers, 
that discreet air? There, you know what I 
mean/ he muttered between his teeth. ' But 
now you 're absorbed in something else.' 

And breaking up the bust of Zoya, Shubin 
set hastily to modelling and kneading the clay 
again with an air of vexation. 

1 So it is your wish to be a professor?' said 
Elena to Bersenyev. 

* Yes/ he answered, squeezing his red hands 

between his knees. ' That 's my cherished 

dream. Of course I know very well how far I 

fall short of being to be worthy of such a high 

28 



ON THE EVE 

I mean that I am too little prepared, but I 
hope to get permission for a course of travel 
abroad ; I shall pass three or four years in that 
way, if necessary, and then ' 

He stopped, dropped his eyes, then quickly 
raising them again, he gave an embarrassed 
smile and smoothed his hair. When Bersenyev 
was talking to a woman, his words came 
out more slowly, and he lisped more than 
ever. 

4 You want to be a professor of history?' 
inquired Elena. 

'Yes, or of philosophy,' he added, in a lower 
voice ' if that is possible.' 

' He 's a perfect devil at philosophy already,' 
observed Shubin, making deep lines in the clay 
with his nail. ' What does he want to go abroad 
for?' 

1 And will you be perfectly contented with 
such a position ? ' asked Elena, leaning on her 
elbow and looking him straight in the face. 

' Perfectly, Elena Nikolaevna, perfectly. 
What could be a finer vocation ? To follow, 
perhaps, in the steps of Timofay Nikolaevitch 
. . . The very thought of such work fills me with 
delight and confusion . . . yes, confusion . . . 
which comes from a sense of my own deficiency. 
My dear father consecrated me to this work. . . 
I shall never forget his last words.' . . . 
29 



ON THE EVE 

Your father died last winter?' 

'Yes, Elena Nikolaevna, in February.' 

1 They say,' Elena went on, ' that he left a 
remarkable work in manuscript; is it true?' 

4 Yes. He was a wonderful man. You would 
have loved him, Elena Nikolaevna.' 

4 1 am sure I should. And what was the 
subject of the work ? ' 

' To give you an idea of the subject of the 
work in few words, Elena Nikolaevna, would 
be somewhat difficult. My father was a learned 
man, a Schellingist ; he used terms which were 
not always very clear ' 

1 Andrei Petrovitch,' interrupted Elena, 4 ex- 
cuse my ignorance, what does that mean, a 
Schellingist ? ' 

Bersenyev smiled slightly. 

4 A Schellingist means a follower of Schelling, 
a German philosopher ; and what the philo- 
sophy of Schelling consists in ' 

' Andrei Petrovitch ! ' cried Shubin suddenly, 
4 for mercy's sake ! Surely you don't mean to 
give Elena Nikolaevna a lecture on Schelling ? 
Have pity on her ! ' 

* Not a lecture at all,' murmured Bersenyev, 
turning crimson, * I meant ' 

1 And why not a lecture ? ' put in Elena. 
'You and I are in need of lectures, Pavel 
Yakovlitch/ 

30 



ON THE EVE 

Shubin stared at her, and suddenly burst out 
laughing. 

1 What are you laughing at ? ' she said coldly, 
and almost sharply. 

Shubin did not answer. 

1 Come, don't be angry/ he said, after a short 
pause. ' I am sorry. But really it 's a strange 
taste, upon my word, to discuss philosophy in 
weather like this under these trees. Let us 
rather talk of nightingales and roses, youthful 
eyes and smiles/ 

* Yes ; and of French novels, and of feminine 
frills and fal-lals,' Elena went on. 

' Fal-lals, too, of course/ rejoined Shubin, if 
they 're pretty/ 

1 Of course. But suppose we don't want to 
talk of frills ? You are always boasting of 
being a free artist ; why do you encroach on 
the freedom of others ? And allow me to in- 
quire, if that 's your bent of mind, why do you 
attack Zoya ? With her it would be peculiarly 
suitable to talk of frills and roses ? ' 

Shubin suddenly fired up, and rose from the 
garden seat. So that 's it ? ' he began in a 
nervous voice. ' I understand your hint ; you 
want to send me away to her, Elena Niko- 
laevna. In other words, I 'm not wanted here.' 

1 I never thought of sending you away from 
here.' 

3i 



ON THE EVE 

1 Do you mean to say,' Shubin continued pas- 
sionately, 'that I am not worthy of other 
society, that I am her equal ; that I am as 
vain, and silly and petty as that mawkish 
German girl ? Is that it ? ' 

Elena frowned. ' You did not always speak 
like that of her, Pavel Yakovlitch,' she remarked. 

1 Ah ! reproaches ! reproaches now ! ' cried 
Shubin. ' Well, then I don't deny there was a 
moment one moment precisely, when those 
fresh, vulgar cheeks of hers . . . But if 1 
wanted to repay you with reproaches and 
remind you . . . Good-bye/ he added sud- 
denly, ' I feel I shall say something silly.' 

And with a blow on the clay moulded into 
the shape of a head, he ran out of the arbour 
and went off to his room. 

* What a baby,' said Elena, looking after him. 

* He 's an artist,' observed Bersenyev with a 
quiet smile. ' All artists are like that. One 
must forgive them their caprices. That is their 
privilege/ 

' Yes,' replied Elena ; ' but Pavel has not so 
far justified his claim to that privilege in any 
way. What has he done so far? Give me 
your arm, and let us go along the avenue. He 
was in our way. We were talking of your 
father's works.' 

Bersenyev took Elena's arm in his, and 
32 



ON THE EVE 

walked beside her through the garden ; but 
the conversation prematurely broken off was 
not renewed. Bersenyev began again unfolding 
his views on the vocation of a professor, and 
on his own future career. He walked slowly 
beside Elena, moving awkwardly, awkwardly 
holding her arm, sometimes jostling his 
shoulder against her, and not once looking at 
her; but his talk flowed more easily, even if 
not perfectly freely ; he spoke simply and 
genuinely, and his eyes, as they strayed slowly- 
over the trunks of the trees, the sand of the 
path and the grass, were bright with the 
quiet ardour of generous emotions, while in 
his soothed voice there was heard the delight 
of a man who feels that he is succeeding in 
expressing himself to one very dear to him. 
Elena listened to him very attentively, and 
turning half towards him, did not take her 
eyes off his face, which had grown a little paler 
off his eyes, which were soft and affectionate, 
though they avoided meeting her eyes. Her 
soul expanded ; and something tender, holy, and 
good seemed half sinking into her heart, half 
springing up within ifc 



33 



SHU BIN did not leave his room before night. 
It was already quite dark ; the moon not yet 
at the full stood high in the sky, the milky 
way shone white, and the stars spotted the 
heavens, when Bersenyev, after taking leave of 
Anna Vassilyevna, Elena, and Zoya, went up 
to his friend's door. He found it locked. He 
knocked. 

* Who is there ? ' sounded Shubin's voice. 
1/ answered Bersenyev. 

I What do you want ? ' 

Let me in, Pavel ; don't be sulky ; aren't 
you ashamed of yourself?' 

I I am not sulky ; I 'm asleep and dreaming 
about Zoya.' 

1 Do stop that, please ; you 're not a baby. 
Let me in. I want to talk to you.' 
1 Haven't you had talk enough with Elena?' 
' Come, come ; let me in ! ' 
Shubin responded by a pretended snore. 
34 



ON THE EVE 

Bersenyev shrugged his shoulders and turned 
homewards. 

The night was warm and seemed strangely 
still, as though everything were listening and 
expectant ; and Bersenyev, enfolded in the still 
darkness, stopped involuntarily ; and he, too, 
listened expectant. On the tree-tops near there 
was a faint stir, like the rustle of a woman's 
dress, awaking in him a feeling half-sweet, 
half-painful, a feeling almost of fright He 
felt a tingling in his cheeks, his eyes were 
chill with momentary tears ; he would have 
liked to move quite noiselessly, to steal along 
in secret. A cross gust of wind blew suddenly 
on him ; he almost shuddered, and his heart 
stood still ; a drowsy beetle fell off a twig and 
dropped with a thud on the path ; Bersenyev 
uttered a subdued 'Ah!' and again stopped. 
But he began to think of Elena, and all these 
passing sensations vanished at once ; there re- 
mained only the reviving sense of the night 
freshness, of the walk by night ; his whole soul 
was absorbed by the image of the young girl. 
Bersenyev walked with bent head, recalling 
her words, her questions. He fancied he 
heard the tramp of quick steps behind. He 
listened : some one was running, some one was 
overtaking him ; he heard panting, and sud- 
denly from a black circle of shadow cast by a 
35 



ON THE EVE 

huge tree Shubin sprang out before him, quite 
pale in the light of the moon, with no cap on 
his disordered curls. 

1 1 am glad you came along this path,' he 
said with an effort ' I should not have slept 
all night, if I had not overtaken you. Give me 
your hand. Are you going home ? ' 

' Yes.' 

* I will see you home then.' 

1 But why have you come without a cap on ?' 
' That doesn't matter. I took off my necker- 
chief too. It is quite warm/ 
The friends walked a few paces. 

* I was very stupid to-day, wasn't I V Shubin 
asked suddenly. 

'To speak frankly, you were. I couldn't 
make you out. I have never seen you like 
that before. And what were you angry about 
really? Such trifles !' 

' H'm/ muttered Shubin. * That 's how you 
put it ; but they were not trifles to me. You 
see/ he went on, ' I ought to point out to 
you that I that you may think what you 
please of me I well there ! I'm in love 
with Elena.' 

'You in love with Elena!' repeated Bersen- 
yev, standing still. 

1 Yes/ pursued Shubin with affected careless- 
ness. 'Does that astonish you? I will tell 
36 



ON THE EVE 

you something else. Till this evening I still 
had hopes that she might come to love me in 
time. But to-day I have seen for certain that 
there is no hope for me. She is in love with 
some one else.' 

* Some one else ? Whom ? ' 

4 Whom ? You ! ' cried Shubin, slapping Ber- 
senyev on the shoulder. 

'Me!' 

4 You,' repeated Shubin. 

Bersenyev stepped back a pace, and stood 
motionless. Shubin looked intently at him. 

* And does that astonish you ? You are a 
modest youth. But she loves you. You can 
make your mind easy on that score.' 

'What nonsense you talk!' Bersenyev pro- 
tested at last with an air of vexation. 

' No, it 's not nonsense. But why are we 
standing still ? Let us go on. It 's easier to 
talk as we walk. I have known her a long 
while, and I know her well. I cannot be mis- 
taken. You are a man after her own heart. 
There was a time when she found me agree- 
able ; but, in the first place, I am too frivolous 
a young man for her, while you are a serious 
person, you are a morally and physically well- 
regulated person, you hush, I have not fin- 
ished, you are a conscientiously disposed enthu- 
siast, a genuine type of those devotees of science, 
37 



ON THE EVE 

of whom no not of whom whereof the middle 
class of Russian gentry are so justly proud ! 
And, secondly, Elena caught me the other 
day kissing Zoya's arms!' 

* Zoya's V 

1 Yes, Zoya's. What would you have ? She 
has such fine shoulders.' 

' Shoulders ? ' 

1 Well there, shoulders and arms, isn't it all 
the same? Elena caught me in this uncon- 
strained proceeding after dinner, and before 
dinner I had been abusing Zoya in her hearing. 
Elena unfortunately doesn't understand how 
natural such contradictions are. Then you came 
on the scene, you have faith in what the 
deuce is it you have faith in? . . . You blush and 
look confused, you discuss Schiller and Schelling 
(she's always on the look-out for remarkable 
men), and so you have won the day, and I, poor 
wretch, try to joke and all the while ' 

Shubin suddenly burst into tears, turned 
away, and dropping upon the ground clutched 
at his hair. 

Bersenyev went up to him. 

* Pavel/ he began, ' what childishness this is ! 
Really ! what 's the matter with you to-day ? 
God knows what nonsense you have got into 
your head, and you are crying. Upon my word, 
I believe you must be putting it on.' 

38 



ON THE EVE 

Shubin lifted up his head. The tears shone 
bright on his cheeks in the moonlight, but thera 
was a smile on his face. 

1 Andrei Petrovitch,' he said, 'you may think 
what you please about me. I am even ready 
to agree with you that I 'm hysterical now, but, 
by God, I'm in love with Elena, and Elena 
loves you. I promised, though, to see you 
home, and I will keep my promise.' 

He got up. 

' What a night ! silvery, dark, youthful! How 
sweet it must be to-night for men who are loved! 
How sweet for them not to sleep ! Will you 
sleep, Andrei Petrovitch?' 

Bersenyev made no answer, and quickened 
his pace. 

1 Where are you hurrying to ?' Shubin went 
on. 'Trust my words, a night like this will 
never come again in your life, and at home, 
Schelling will keep. It 's true he did you good 
service to-day ; but you need not hurry for all 
that. Sing, if you can sing, sing louder than 
ever ; if you can't sing, take off your hat, 
throw up your head, and smile to the stars. 
They are all looking at you, at you alone ; the 
stars never do anything but look down upon 
lovers that 's why they are so charming. You 
are in love, I suppose, Andrei Petrovitch ? . . . 
You don't answer me . . . why don't you 
39 



ON THE EVE 

answer ? ' Shubin began again : Oh, if you feel 
happy, be quiet, be quiet ! I chatter because I 
am a poor devil, unloved, I am a jester, an artist, 
a buffoon ; but what unutterable ecstasy would 
I quaff in the night wind under the stars, if I 
knew that I were loved ! . . , Bersenyev, are 
you happy ? ' 

Bersenyev was silent as before, and walked 
quickly along the smooth path. In front, 
between the trees, glimmered the lights of the 
little village in which he was staying ; it con- 
sisted of about a dozen small villas for summer 
visitors. At the very beginning of the village, 
to the right of the road, a little shop stood 
under two spreading birch-trees ; its windows 
were all closed already, but a wide patch of 
light fell fan-shaped from the open door upon 
the trodden grass, and was cast upwards on the 
trees, showing up sharply the whitish undersides 
of the thick growing leaves. A girl, who looked 
like a maid-servant, was standing in the shop 
with her back against the doorpost, bargaining 
with the shopkeeper ; from beneath the red ker- 
chief which she had wrapped round her head, 
and held with bare hand under her chin, could 
just be seen her round cheek and slender throat. 
The young men stepped into the patch of light ; 
Shubin looked into the shop, stopped short, 
and cried ' Annushka ! ' The girl turned round 
40 



ON THE EVE 

quickly. They saw a nice-looking, rather 
broad but fresh face, with merry brown eyes 
and black eyebrows. ' Annushka ! ' repeated 
Shubin. The girl saw him, looked scared and 
shamefaced, and without finishing her purchases, 
she hurried down the steps, slipped quickly 
past, and, hardly looking round, went along the 
road to the left. The shopkeeper, a puffy man, 
unmoved by anything in the world, like all 
country shopkeepers gasped and gaped after 
her, while Shubin turned to Bersenyev with the 
words : ' That 's . . . you see . . . there 's a 
family here I know ... so at their house . . . 
you mustn't imagine ' . . . and, without finish- 
ing his speech, he ran after the retreating girl. 

' You 'd better at least wipe your tears away,' 
Bersenyev shouted after him, and he could not 
refrain from laughing. But when he got home, 
his face had not a mirthful expression ; he 
laughed no longer. He had not for a single 
instant believed what Shubin had told him, 
but the words he had uttered had sunk deep 
into his soul. 

' Pavel was making a fool of me/ he thought ; 
"... but she will love one day . . . whom will 
she love ?' 

In Bersenyev's room there was a piano, small, 
and by no means new, but of a soft and sweet 
tone, though not perfectly in tune. Bersenyev 
41 



ON THE EVE 

sat down to it, and began to strike some chords. 
Like all Russians of good birth, he had studied 
music in his childhood, and like almost all Rus- 
sian gentlemen, he played very badly ; but he 
loved music passionately. Strictly speaking, 
he did not love the art, the forms in which 
music is expressed (symphonies and sonatas, 
even operas wearied him), but he loved the 
poetry of music : he loved those vague and 
sweet, shapeless, and all-embracing emotions 
which are stirred in the soul by the combina- 
tions and successions of sounds. For more 
than an hour, he did not move from the piano, 
repeating many times the same chords, awk- 
wardly picking out new ones, pausing and 
melting over the minor sevenths. His heart 
ached, and his eyes more than once filled with 
tears. He was not ashamed of them ; he let 
them flow in the darkness. ! Pavel was right,' 
he thought, ' I feel it ; this evening will not 
come again.' At last he got up, lighted a 
candle, put on his dressing-gown, took down 
from the bookshelf the second volume of 
Raumer's History of the Hokenstaufen, and 
sighing twice, he set to work diligently to 
read it 



42 






VI 



Meanwhile, Elena had gone to her room, and 
sat down at the open window, her head resting 
on her hands. To spend about a quarter of an 
hour every evening at her bedroom window had 
become a habit with her. At this time she 
held converse with herself, and passed in review 
the preceding day. She had not long reached 
her twentieth year. She was tall, and had a 
pale and dark face, large grey eyes under 
arching brows, covered with tiny freckles, a 
perfectly regular forehead and nose, tightly 
compressed lips, and a rather sharp chin. Her 
hair, of a chestnut shade, fell low on her slender 
neck. In her whole personality, in the expres- 
sion of her face, intent and a little timorous, in 
her clear but changing glance, in her smile, 
which was, as it were, intense, in her soft and 
uneven voice, there was something nervous, 
electric, something impulsive and hurried, 
something, in fact, which could never be at- 
tractive to every one, which even repelled some. 
43 



ON THE EVE 

Her hands were slender and rosy, with long 
fingers ; her feet were slender ; she walked 
swiftly, almost impetuously, her figure bent a 
little forward. She had grown up very strangely ; 
first she idolised her father, then she became pas- 
sionately devoted to her mother, and had grown 
cold to both of them, especially to her father. 
Of late years she had behaved to her mother as 
to a sick grandmother ; while her father, who 
had been proud of her while she had been 
regarded as an exceptional child, had come to 
be afraid of her when she was grown up, and 
said of her that she was a sort of enthusiastic 
republican no one could say where she got 
it from. Weakness revolted her, stupidity made 
her angry, and deceit she could never, never 
pardon. She was exacting beyond all bounds, 
even her prayers had more than once been 
mingled with reproaches. When once a person 
had lost her respect and she passed judgment 
quickly, often too quickly he ceased to exist 
for her. All impressions cut deeply into her 
heart ; life was bitter earnest for her. 

The governess to whom Anna Vassilyevna 
had entrusted the finishing of her daughter's 
education an education, we may remark in 
parenthesis, which had not even been begun by 
the languid lady was a Russian, the daughter 
of a ruined official, educated at a government 
44 



& 



ON THE EVE 

boarding school, a very emotional, soft-hearted, 
and deceitful creature ; she was for ever falling 
in love, and ended in her fiftieth year (when 
Elena was seventeen) by marrying an officer of 
some sort, who deserted her without loss of 
time. This governess was very fond of litera- 
ture, and wrote verses herself; she inspired 
Elena with a love of reading, but reading alone 
did not satisfy the girl ; from childhood she 
thirsted for action, for active well-doing the 
poor, the hungry, and the sick absorbed her 
thoughts, tormented her, and made her heart 
heavy ; she used to dream of them, and to ply 
all her friends with questions about them ; she 
gave alms carefully, with unconscious solemnity, 
almost with a thrill of emotion. All ill-used 
creatures, starved dogs, cats condemned to 
death, sparrows fallen out of the nest, even 
insects and reptiles found a champion and pro- 
tector in Elena ; she fed them herself, and felt 
no repugnance for them. Her mother did not 
interfere with her ; but her father used to be 
very indignant with his daughter, for her as he 
called it vulgar soft-heartedness, and declared 
there was not room to move for the cats and 
dogs in the house. 'Lenotchka/ he would 
shout to her, ' come quickly, here 's a spider 
eating a fly ; come and save the poor wretch ! ' 
And Lenotchka, all excitement, would run up, 
45 




ON THE EVE 

set the fly free, and disentangle its legs. ' Well, 
now let it bite you a little, since you are so 
kind,' her father would say ironically ; but she 
did not hear him. At ten years old Elena made 
friends with a little beggar-girl, Katya, and 
used to go secretly to meet her in the garden, 
took her nice things to eat, and presented her 
with handkerchiefs and pennies ; playthings 
Katya would not take. She would sit beside 
her on the dry earth among the bushes behind 
a thick growth of nettles ; with a feeling of 
delicious humility she ate her stale bread and 
listened to her stories. Katya had an aunt, an 
ill-natured old woman, who often beat her ; 
Katya hated her, and was always talking of 
how she would run away from her aunt and live 
in ' God 's full freedom' ; with secret respect and 
awe Elena drank in these new unknown words, 
stared intently at Katya and everything about 
her her quick black, almost animal eyes, her 
sun-burnt hands, her hoarse voice, even her 
ragged clothes seemed to Elena at such times 
something particular and distinguished, almost 
holy. Elena went back home, and for long 
after dreamed of beggars and God's freedom ; 
she would dream over plans of how she would 
cut herself a hazel stick, and put on a wallet 
and run away with Katya ; how she would 
wander about the roads in a wreath of corn- 
46 



ON THE EVE 

flowers ; she had seen Katya one day in just 
such a wreath. If, at such times, any one of 
her family came into the room, she would shun 
them and look shy. One day she ran 
out in the rain to meet Katya, and made her 
frock muddy ; her father saw her, and called 
her a slut and a peasant-wench. She grew hot 
all over, and there was something of terror and 
rapture in her heart Katya often sang some 
half-brutal soldier's song. Elena learnt this 
song from her. . . . Anna Vassilyevna over- 
heard her singing it, and was very indignant. 

1 Where did you pick up such horrors ? ' she 
asked her daughter. 

Elena only looked at her mother, and would 
not say a word ; she felt that she would let 
them tear her to pieces sooner than betray her 
secret, and again there was a terror and sweet- 
ness in her heart. Her friendship with Katya, 
however, did not last long ; the poor little girl 
fell sick of fever, and in a few days she was dead. 

Elena was greatly distressed, and spent sleep- 
less nights for long after she heard of Katya's 
death. The last words of the little beggar-girl 
were constantly ringing in her ears, and she 
fancied that she was being called. . . . 

The years passed and passed ; swiftly and 
noiselessly, like waters running under the snow, 
Elena's youth glided by, outwardly uneventful, 
47 



I 






ON THE EVE 

inwardly in conflict and emotion. She had no 
friend ; she did not get on with any one of all 
the girls who visited the Stahovs' house. Her 
j parents' authority had never weighed heavily 
on Elena, and from her sixteenth year she be- 
ijj^ame absolutely independent; she began to 
ftj live a life of her own, but it was a life of 
solitude. Her soul glowed, and the fire died 
away again in solitude ; she struggled like a 
bird in a cage, and cage there was none ; no one 
oppressed her, no one restrained her, while she 
was torn, and fretted within. Sometimes she did 
not understand herself, was even frightened of 
herself. Everything that surrounded her seemed 
to her half- senseless, half -incomprehensible. 
" How 1l" ve without love ? and there's no one to 
love ! ' she thought ; and she felt terror again at 
these thoughts, these sensations. At eighteen, 
she nearly died of malignant fever ; her whole 
constitution naturally healthy and vigorous 
was seriously affected, and it was long before it 
could perfectly recover ; the last traces of the ill- 
ness disappeared at last, but Elena Nikolaevna's 
father was never tired of talking with some 
spitefulness of her 'nerves.' Sometimes she 
. y fancied that she wanted something which no one 
y wanted, of which no one in all Russia dreamed. 
Then she would grow calmer, and even laugh 
at herself, and pass day after day uncon- 
48 



ON THE EVE 

cernedly ; but suddenly some over-mastering, 
nameless force would surge up within her, and 
seem to clamour for an outlet. The storm 
passed over, and the wings of her soul drooped 
without flight; but these tempests of feeling 
cost her much. However she might strive not 
to betray what was passing within her, the 
suffering of the tormented spirit was expressed 
in her even external tranquillity, and her parents 
were often justified in shrugging their shoulders 
in astonishment, and failing to understand her 
* queer ways.' 

On the day with which our story began, 
Elena did not leave the window till later than 
usual. She thought much of Bersenyev, and of 
her conversation with him. She liked him ; ,_- 
she believed in the warmth of his feelings, and ^T" 
the purity of his aims. He had never before 
talked to her as on that evening. She recalled 
the expression of his timid eyes, his smiles 
and she smiled herself and fell to musing, but not 
of him. She began to look out into the night 
from the open window. For a long time she 
gazed at the dark, low-hanging sky ; then she 
got up, flung back her hair from her face with 
a shake of her head, and, herself not knowing 
why, she stretched out to it to that sky her 
bare chilled arms ; then she dropped them, fell on 
her knees beside her bed, pressed her face into 
49 d 



ON THE EVE 

the pillow, and, in spite of all her efforts not 
to yield to the passion overwhelming her, she 
burst into strange, uncomprehending, burning 
tear* 



VII 

The next day at twelve o'clock, Bersenyev set 
off in a return coach to Moscow. He had to 
get some money from the post-office, to buy 
some books, and he wanted to seize the oppor- 
tunity to see Insarov and have some conversa- 
tion with him. The idea had occurred to 
Bersenyev, in the course of his last conversation 
with Shubin, to invite Insarov to stay with him 
at his country lodgings. But it was some time 
before he found him out ; from his former 
lodging he had moved to another, which it was 
not easy to discover ; it was in the court at the 
back of a squalid stone house, built in the 
Petersburg style, between Arbaty Road and 
Povarsky Street. In vain Bersenyev wandered 
from one dirty staircase to another, in vain he 
called first to a doorkeeper, then to a passer-by. 
Porters even in Petersburg try to avoid the eyes 
of visitors, and in Moscow much more so ; no 
one answered Bersenyev's call ; only an inquisi- 
5* 



ON THE EVE 

tive tailor, in his shirt sleeves, with a skein of 
grey thread on his shoulder, thrust out from a 
high ^casement window a dirty, dull, unshorn 
face, with a blackened eye ; and a black and 
hornless goat, clambering up on to a dung heap, 
turned round, bleated plaintively, and went on 
chewing the cud faster than before. A woman 
in an old cloak, and shoes trodden down at 
heel, took pity at last on Bersenyev and pointed 
out Insarov's lodging to him. Bersenyev found 
him at home. He had taken a room with the 
very tailor who had stared down so indifferently 
at the perplexity of a wandering stranger ; a 
large, almost empty room, with dark green 
walls, three square windows, a tiny bedstead in 
one corner, a little leather sofa in another, and 
a huge cage hung up to the very ceiling ; in 
this cage there had once lived a nightingale. 
'Insarov came to meet Bersenyev directly he 
crossed the threshold, but he did not exclaim, 
* Ah, it 's you ! ' or ' Good Heavens, what happy 
chance has brought you ? ' He did not even say, 
1 How do you do ? ' but simply pressed his 
hand and led him up to the solitary chair in 
the room. 

' Sit down,' he said, and he seated himself on 
the edge of the table. 

' I am, as you see, still in disorder,' added 
Insarov, pointing to a pile of papers and books 
52 



ON THE EVE 



on the floor, ' I haven't got settled in as I ought. 
I have not had time yet.' 

Insarov spoke Russian perfectly correctly, 
pronouncing every word fully and purely ; but 
his guttural though pleasant voice sounded 
somehow not Russian. Insarov's foreign ex- 
traction (he was a Bulgarian by birth) was still 
more clearly marked in his appearance ; he was 
a young man of five-and-twenty, spare and 
sinewy, with a hollow chest and knotted fingers ; 
he had sharp features, a hooked nose, blue- 
black hair, a low forehead, small, intent-looking, 
deep-set eyes, and bushy eyebrows ; when he 
smiled, splendid white teeth gleamed for an 
instant between his thin, hard, over-defined lips. 
He was in a rather old but tidy coat, buttoned 
up to the throat. 

* Why did you leave your old lodging ? ' Ber- 
senyev asked him. 

1 This is cheaper, and nearer to the university.' 

' But now it's vacation. . . . And what could 
induce you to stay in the town in summer! 
You should have taken a country cottage if 
you were determined to move.' 

Insarov made no reply to this remark, and 
offered Bersenyev a pipe, adding : * Excuse me, 
I have no cigarettes or cigars.' 

Bersenyev began smoking the pipe. 

1 Here have 1/ he went on, * taken a little 
53 



ON THE EVE 

house near Kuntsovo, very cheap and very 
roomy. In fact there is a room to spare 
upstairs.' 
| Insarov again made no answer. 

Bersenyev drew at the pipe : ' I have even 
been thinking,' he began again, blowing out the 
smoke in a thin cloud, ' that if any one could be 
found you, for instance, I thought of who 
would care, who would consent to establish 
himself there upstairs, how nice it would be! 
What do you think, Dmitri Nikanorovitch ? ' 

Insarov turned his little eyes on him. ' You 
propose my staying in your country house ? ' 

1 Yes ; I have a room to spare there upstairs. 1 

* Thanks very much, Andrei Petrovitch ; but 
I expect my means would not allow of it.' 

* How do you mean ? ' 

1 My means would not allow of my living in a 
country house. It 's impossible for me to keep 
two lodgings.' 

1 But of course I ' Bersenyev was begin- 
ning, but he stopped short. ' You would have 
no extra expense in that way,' he went on. 
' Your lodging here would remain for you, let us 
suppose; but then everything there is very 
cheap ; we could even arrange so as to dine, for 
instance, together.' 

Insarov said nothing. Bersenyev began to 
feel awkward. 

54 



ON THE EVE 

' You might at least pay me a visit sometime/ 
he began, after a short pause. 'A few steps 
from me there's a family living with whom I 
want very much to make you acquainted. If 
only you knew, Insarov, what a marvellous 
girl there is there ! There is an intimate friend 
of mine staying there too, a man of great talent ; 
I am sure you would get on with him. [The 
Russian loves to be hospitable of his friends if 
he can offer nothing else.] Really, you must 
come. And what would be better still, come 
and stay with me, do. We could work and read 
together. ... I am busy, as you know, with 
history and philosophy. All that would interest 
you. I have a lot of books.' 

Insarov got up and walked about the room. 
' Let me know,' he said, ' how much do you pay ! 
for your cottage ? ' 

1 A hundred silver roubles.' 

And how many rooms are there ?* 

1 Five.' 

'Then one may reckon that one room costs ( 
twenty roubles?' 

1 Yes, one may reckon so. . . . But really it 's 
utterly unnecessary for me. It simply stands 
empty/ 

1 Perhaps so ; but listen,' added Insarov, with 
a decided, but at the same time good-natured 
movement of his head : c I can only take ad- 
$5 



ON THE EVE 

vantage of your offer if you agree to take the 
sum we have reckoned. Twenty roubles I am 
able to give, the more easily, since, as you say, 
I shall be economising there in other things.' 

1 Of course ; but really I am ashamed to take 
it/ 

'Otherwise it's impossible, Andrei Petro- 
vitch.' 

1 Well, as you like ; but what an obstinate 
fellow you are ! ' 

Insarov again made no reply. 

The young men made arrangements as to the 
day on which Insarov was to move. They 
called the landlord ; at first he sent his daughter, 
a little girl of seven, with a large striped kerchief 
on her head ; she listened attentively, almost 
with awe, to all Insarov said to her, and went 
away without speaking ; after her, her mother, 
a woman far gone with child, made her appear- 
ance, also wearing a kerchief on her head, but 
a very diminutive one. Insarov informed her 
that he was going to stay at a cottage near 
Kuntsovo, but should keep on his lodging and 
leave all his things in their keeping ; the tailor's 
wife too seemed scared and went away. At last 
the man himself came in : he seemed to under- 
stand everything from the first, and only said 
gloomily: ' Near Kuntsovo ?' then all at once he 
opened the door and shouted : ' Are you going 
56 



ON THE EVE 

to keep the lodgings then? 1 Insarov reassured 
him. 'Well, one must know/ repeated the 
tailor morosely, as he disappeared. 

Bersenyev returned home, well content with 
the success of his proposal. Insarov escorted 
him to the door with cordial good manners, 
not common in Russia ; and, when he was left 
alone, carefully took off his coat, and set to 
work upon sorting his papers. 



57 



VIII 

On the evening of the same day, Anna Vassil- 
yevna was sitting in her drawing-room and was 
on the verge of weeping. There were also in 
the room her husband and a certain Uvar Ivano- 
vitch Stahov, a distant cousin of Nikolai Artem- 
yevitch, a retired cornet of sixty years old, a 
man corpulent to the point of immobility, with 
sleepy yellowish eyes, and colourless thick lips 
in a puffy yellow face. Ever since he had re- 
tired, he had lived in Moscow on the interest of 
a small capital left him by a wife who came 
of a shopkeeper's family. He did nothing, and 
it is doubtful whether he thought of anything ; 
if he did think, he kept his thoughts to himself. 
Once only in his life he had been thrown into a 
state of excitement and shown signs of anima- 
tion, and that was when he read in the news- 
papers of a new instrument at the Universal 
Exhibition in London, the 'contro-bombardon/ 
and became very anxious to order this instru- 
58 



ON THE EVE 

ment for himself, and even made inquiries as to 
where to send the money and through what 
office. Uvar Ivanovitch wore a loose snuff- 
coloured coat and a white neckcloth, used to 
eat often and much, and in moments of great 
perplexity, that is to say when it happened to 
him to express some opinion, he would flourish 
the fingers of his right hand meditatively in the 
air, with a convulsive spasm from the first finger 
to the little finger, and back from the little finger 
to the first finger, while he articulated with 
effort, 'to be sure . . . there ought to ... in 
some sort of a way.' 

Uvar Ivanovitch was sitting in an easy chair 
by the window, breathing heavily ; Nikolai 
Artemyevitch was pacing with long strides up 
and down the room, his hands thrust into his 
pockets ; his face expressed dissatisfaction. 

He stood still at last and shook his head. 
' Yes ; he began, ' in our day young men were 
brought up differently. Young men did not 
permit themselves to be lacking in respect to 
their elders. And nowadays, I can only look on 
and wonder. Possibly, I am all wrong, and they 
are quite right ; possibly. But still I have my 
own views of things ; I was not born a fool. 
What do you think about it, Uvar Ivanovitch ? ' 

Uvar Ivanovitch could only look at him and 
work his fingers. 

59 



ON THE LVE 

* Elena Nikolaevna, for instance,' pursued 
Nikolai Artemyevitch, ' Elena Nikolaevna I 
don't pretend to understand. I am not elevated 
enough for her. Her heart is so large that it 
embraces all nature down to the least spider or 
frog, everything in fact except her own father. 
Well, that 's all very well ; I know it, and I 
don't trouble myself about it. For that 's nerves 
and education and lofty aspirations, and all 
that is not in my line. But Mr. Shubin . . . 
admitting he's a wonderful artist quite ex- 
ceptional that, I don't dispute ; to show want 
of respect to his elder, a man to whom, at any 
rate, one may say he is under great obligation ; 
that I confess, dans mon gros bon sens, I cannot 
pass over. I am not exacting by nature, no, 
but there is a limit to everything.' 

Anna Vassilyevna rang the bell in a tremor. 
A little page came in. 

' Why is it Pavel Yakovlitch does not come ? ' 
she said, * what does it mean; I call him, and 
he doesn't come ? ' 

Nikolai Artemyevitch shrugged his shoulders. 

And what is the object, may I ask, of your 
wanting to send for him ? I don't expect that 
at all, I don't wish it even ! ' 

' What 's the object, Nikolai Artemyevitch ? 
He has disturbed you ; very likely he has 
checked the progress of your cure. I want to 
60 



ON THE EVE 

have an explanation with him. I want to know 
how he has dared to annoy you.' 

1 1 tell you again, that I do not ask that 
And what can induce you . , . devant les 
domestiques? 

Anna Vassilyevna flushed a little. 'You 
need not say that, Nikolai Artemyevitch. I 
never . . . devant les domestiques . . . Fedush- 
ka, go and see you bring Pavel Vakovlitch 
here at once.' 

The little page went off. 

'And that's absolutely unnecessary/ mut- 
tered Nikolai Artemyevitch between his teeth, 
and he began again pacing up and down the 
room. ' I did not bring up the subject with 
that object.' 

' Good Heavens, Paul must apologise to 
you.' 

1 Good Heavens, what are his apologies to 
me? And what do you mean by apologies? 
That 's all words.' 

' Why, he must be corrected.' 

' Well, you can correct him yourself. He will 
listen to you sooner than to me. For my 
part I bear him no grudge.' 

'No, Nikolai Artemyevitch, you've not been 
yourself ever since you arrived. You have 
even to my eyes grown thinner lately. I am 
afraid your treatment is doing you no good.' 
6i 



ON THE EVE 

'The treatment is quite indispensable, 
observed Nikolai Artemyevitch, 'my liver is 
affected.' 

At that instant Shubin came in. He looked 
tired. A slight almost ironical smile played on 
his lips. 

' You asked for me, Anna Vassilyevna ? ' he 
observed. 

'Yes, certainly I asked for you. Really, 
Paul, this is dreadful. I am very much dis- 
pleased with you. How could you be wanting 
in respect to Nikolai Artemyevitch ? ' 

4 Nikolai Artemyevitch has complained of 
me to you?' inquired Shubin, and with the 
same smile on his lips he looked at Stahov. 
The latter turned away, dropping his eyes. 

'Yes, he complains of you. I don't know 
what you have done amiss, but you ought to 
apologise at once, because his health is very 
much derauged just now, and indeed we all 
ought when we are young to treat our benefac- 
tors with respect.' 

' Ah, what logic ! ' thought Shubin, and he 
turned to Stahov. ' I am ready to apologise to 
you, Nikolai Artemyevitch,' he said with a 
polite half-bow, ' if I have really offended you 
in any way.' 

' I did not at all . . . with that idea,' rejoined 
Nikolai Artemyevitch, still as before avoiding 

62 



ON THE EVE 



Shubin's eyes. ' However, I will readily for- 
give you, for, as you know, I am not an exact- 
ing person.' 

' Oh, that admits of no doubt ! ' said Shubin. 
* But allow me to be inquisitive ; is Anna 
Vassilyevna aware precisely what constituted 
my offence ? ' 

' No, I know nothing,' observed Anna Vas- 
silyevna, craning forward her head expec- 
tantly. 

1 O Good Lord ! ' exclaimed Nikolai Artem- 
yevitch hurriedly, 'how often have I prayed 
and besought, how often have I said how I 
hate these scenes and explanations ! When 
one's been away an age, and comes home 
hoping for rest talk of the family circle, 
intirieur, being a family man and here one 
finds scenes and unpleasantnesses. There's 
not a minute of peace. One 's positively driven 
to the club ... or, or elsewhere. A man is 
alive, he has a physical side, and it has its 
claims, but here ' 

And without concluding his sentence Nikolai 
Artemyevitch went quickly out, slamming the 
door. 

Anna Vassilyevna looked after him. 'To 

the club ! ' she muttered bitterly : ' you are not 

going to the club, profligate ? You 've no one 

at the club to give away my horses to horses 

63 



ON THE EVE 

from my own stable and the grey ones too ! 
My favourite colour. Yes, yes, fickle-hearted 
man/ she went on raising her voice, ' you are not 
going to the club. As for you, Paul/ she pur- 
sued, getting up, ' I wonder you 're not ashamed. 
I should have thought you would not be so 
childish. And now my head has begun to 
ache. Where is Zoya, do you know ? ' 

' I think she 's upstairs in her room. The 
wise little fox always hides in her hole when 
there 's a storm in the air.' 

'Come, please, please!' Anna Vassilyevna 
began searching about her. ' Haven't you seen 
my little glass of grated horse-radish ? Paul, 
be so good as not to make me angry for the 
future.' 

'How make you angry, auntie? Give me 
your little hand to kiss. Your horse-radish 
I saw on the little table in the boudoir.' 

I Darya always leaves it about somewhere/ 
said Anna Vassilyevna, and she walked away 
with a rustle of silk skirts. 

Shubin was about to follow her, but he 
stopped on hearing Uvar Ivanovitch's drawling 
voice behind him. 

I I would . . . have given it you . , . young 
puppy/ the retired cornet brought out in gasps. 

Shubin went up to him. ' And what have I 
done, then, most venerable Uvar Ivanovitch ? ' 
64 



ON THE EVE 

'How! you are young, be respectful. Yes. 
indeed.' 

* Respectful to whom ? ' 

' To whom ? You know whom. Ay, grin 
away.' 

Shubin crossed his arms on his breast. 

'Ah, you type of the choice element in 
drama/ he exclaimed, ' you primeval force of tru 
black earth, cornerstone of the social fabric ! ' 

Uvar Ivanovitch's fingers began to work, 
1 There, there, my boy, don't provoke me.' 

1 Here,' pursued Shubin, ' is a gentleman, not 
young to judge by appearances, but what 
blissful, child-like faith is still hidden in him ! 
Respect! And do you know, you primitive 
creature, what Nikolai Artemyevitch was in a 
rage with me for ? Why I spent the whole of 
this morning with him at his German woman's ; 
we were singing the three of us " Do not leave 
me." You should have heard us that would 
have moved you. We sang and sang, my dear 
sir and well, I got bored ; I could see some- 
thing was wrong, there was an alarming ten- 
derness in the air. And I began to tease them 
both. I was very successful. First she was 
angry with me, then with him ; and then he 
got angry with her, and told her that he was 
never happy except at home, and he had a 
paradise there ; and she told him he had no 
65 E 



r 



ON THE EVE 

morals ; and I murmured " Ach ! " to her in 
German. He walked off and I stayed behind ; 
he came here, to his paradise that 's to say, and 
he was soon sick of paradise, so he set to 
grumbling. Well now, who do you consider 
was to blame ? ' 

1 You, of course,' replied Uvar Ivanovitch. 

Shubin stared at him. ' May I venture to 
ask you, most reverend knight-errant/ he began 
in an obsequious voice, these enigmatical words 
you have deigned to utter as the result of some 
exercise of your reflecting faculties, or under 
the influence of a momentary necessity to start 
the vibration in the air known as sound ? ' 

1 Don't tempt me, I tell you/ groaned Uvar 
Ivanovitch. 

Shubin laughed and ran away. ' Hi,' shouted 
Uvar Ivanovitch a quarter of an hour later, 
* you there ... a glass of spirits.' 

A little page brought the glass of spirits 
and some salt fish on a tray. Uvar Ivanovitch 
slowly took the glass from the tray and gazed a 
long while with intense attention at it, as 
though he could not quite understand what 
it was he had in his hand. Then he looked 
at the page and asked him, * Wasn't his name 
Vaska ? ' Then he assumed an air of resignation, 
drank off the spirit, munched the herring and 
was slowly proceeding to get his handkerchief 
66 



ON THE EVE 

out of his pocket. But the page had long ago 
carried off and put away the tray and the 
decanter, eaten up the remains of the herring 
and had time to go off to sleep, curled up in 
a great-coat of his master's, while Uvar Ivano- 
vitch still continued to hold the handkerchief 
before him in his opened fingers, and with the 
same intense attention gazed now at the win- 
dow, now at the floor and walls. 



07 



IX 



SHUBIN went back to his room in the lodge 
and was just opening a book, when Nikolai 
Artemyevitch's valet came cautiously into his 
room and handed him a small triangular note, 
sealed with a thick heraldic crest. ' I hope/ he 
found in the note, 'that you as a man of 
honour will not allow yourself to hint by so 
much as a single word at a certain promissory 
note which was talked of this morning. You are 
acquainted with my position and my rules, the 
insignificance of the sum in itself and the other 
circumstances ; there are, in fine, family secrets 
which must be respected, and family tranquillity 
is something so sacred that only etres sans cceur 
(among whom I have no reason to reckon you) 
would repudiate it ! Give this note back to 
me. N. S.' 

Shubin scribbled below in pencil : ' Don't 

excite yourself, I 'm not quite a sneak yet/ 

and gave the note back to the man, and again 

began upon the book. But it soon slipped 

68 



ON THE EVE 

out of his hands. He looked at the reddening 
sky, at the two mighty young pines standing 
apart from the other trees, thought 'by day 
pines are bluish, but how magnificently green 
they are in the evening,' and went out into the 
garden, in the secret hope of meeting Elena 
there. He was not mistaken. Before him on 
a path between the bushes he caught a glimpse 
of her dress. He went after her, and when he 
was abreast with her, remarked : 

* Don't look in my direction, I 'm not worth 
it' 

She gave him a cursory glance, smiled cur- 
sorily, and walked on further into the depths 
of the garden. Shubin went after her. 

1 1 beg you not to look at me,' he began, * and 
then I address you ; flagrant contradiction. 
But what of that? it's not the first time I've 
contradicted myself. I have just recollected 
that I have never begged your pardon as I 
ought for my stupid behaviour yesterday. You 
are not angry with me, Elena Nikolaevna, are 
you?' 

She stood still and did not answer him at 
once not because she was angry, but because 
her thoughts were far away. 

* No,' she said at last, ' I am not in the least 
angry.' Shubin bit his lip. 

1 What an absorbed . . . and what an indif- 
69 



ON THE EVE 

ferent face ! ' he muttered. ' Elena Nikolaevna.' 
he continued, raising his voice, ' allow me to tell 
you a little anecdote. I had a friend, and this 
friend also had a friend, who at first conductea 
himself as befits a gentleman but afterwards 
took to drink. So one day early in the morning, 
my friend meets him in the street (and by that 
time, note, the acquaintance has been completely 
dropped) meets him and sees he is drunk. My 
friend went and turned his back on him. But 
he ran up and said, " I would not be angry," 
says he, "if you refused to recognise me, but 
why should you turn your back on me? 
Perhaps I have been brought to this through 
grief. Peace to my ashes ! " ' 
Shubin paused. 

* And is that all ? ' inquired Elena. 
4 Yes that 's all.' 

' I don't understand you. What are you 
hinting at ? You told me just now not to look 
your way.' 

* Yes, and now I have told you that it 's too 
bad to turn your back on me.' 

* But did I ? ' began Elena. 
' Did you not ? ' 

Elena flushed slightly and held out her hand 
to Shubin. He pressed it warmly. 

1 Here you seem to have convicted me of a 
bad feeling/ said Elena, 'but your suspicion is 
70 



ON THE EVE 

unjust. I was not even thinking of avoiding 
you.' 

'Granted, granted. But you must ac- 
knowledge that at that minute you had a 
thousand ideas in your head of which you 
would not confide one to me. Eh? I've 
spoken the truth, I 'm quite sure?' 

' Perhaps so.' 

* And why is it ? why ? ' 

'My ideas are not clear to myself,' said 
Elena. 

1 Then it 's just the time for confiding them 
to some one else,' put in Shubin. ' But I will 
tell you what it really is. You have a bad 
opinion of me.' 

'I?' 

' Yes you ; you imagine that everything in me 
is half-humbug because I am an artist, that I 
am incapable not only of doing anything in 
that you are very likely right but even of any 
genuine deep feeling ; you think that I am 
not capable even of weeping sincerely, that I 'm 
a gossip and a slanderer, and all because 
I 'm an artist. What luckless, God-forsaken 
wretches we artists are after that ! You, for 
instance, I am ready to adore, and you don't be- 
lieve in my repentance.' 

'No, Pavel Yakovlitch, I believe in your 
repentance and I believe in your tears. But it 
7i 



ON THE EVE 

seems to me that even your repentance amuses 
you yes and your tears too.' 

Shubin shuddered. 

'Well, I see this is, as the doctors say, a 
hopeless case, casus inmrabilis. There is 
nothing left but to bow the head and submit 
And meanwhile, good Heavens, can it be true, 
can I possibly be absorbed in my own egoism 
when there is a soul like this living at my side ? 
And to know that one will never penetrate 
into that soul, never will know why it grieves 
and why it rejoices, what is working within it, 
what it desires whither it is going . . . Tell 
me/ he said after a short silence, c could you 
never under any circumstances love an artist?' 

Elena looked straight into his eyes. 

' 1 don't think so, Pavel Yakovlitch ; no.' 

1 Which was to be proved,' said Shubin with 
comical dejection. ' After which I suppose it 
would be more seemly for me not to intrude 
on your solitary walk. A professor would ask 
you on what data you founded your answer 
no. I 'm not a professor though, but a baby 
according to your ideas ; but one does not turn 
one's back on a baby, remember. Good-bye! 
Peace to my ashes ! ' 

Elena was on the point of stopping him, but 
after a moment's thought she too said : 

' Good-bye.' 

72 



ON THE EVE 

Shubin went out of the courtyard. At a 
short distance from the Stahov's house he was 
met by Bersenyev. He was walking with 
hurried steps, his head bent and his hat pushed 
back on his neck. 

1 Andrei Petrovitch ! cried Shubin. 

He stopped. 

' Go on, go on/ continued Shubin, ' I only 
shouted, I won't detain you and you 'd better 
slip straight into the garden you '11 find Elena 
there, I fancy she 's waiting for you . . . she 's 
waiting for some one anyway. . . . Do you 
understand the force of those words : she is 
waiting ! And do you know, my dear boy, an 
astonishing circumstance? Imagine, it's two 
years now that I have been living in the same 
house with her, I 'm in love with her, and it 's 
only just now, this minute, that I 've, not 
understood, but really seen her. I have seen 
her and I lifted up my hands in amazement. 
Don't look at me, please, with that sham sar- 
castic smile, which does not suit your sober 
features. Well, now, I suppose you want to 
remind me of Annushka. What of it ? I don't 
deny it. Annushkas are on my poor level. 
And long life to all Annushkas and Zoyas 
and even Augustina Christianovnas ! You go 
to Elena now, and I will make my way to 
Annushka, you fancy ? No, my dear fellow, 
73 



ON THE EVE 

worse than that ; to Prince Tchikurasov. He 
is a Maecenas of a Kazan-Tartar stock, after 
the style of Volgin. Do you see this note of 
invitation, these letters, R. S. V. P. ? Even in 
the country there 's no peace for me. Addio ! ' 
Bersenyev listened to Shubin's tirade in 
silence, looking as though he were just a little 
ashamed of him. Then he went into the court- 
yard of the Stahovs' house. And Shubin did 
really go to Prince Tchikurasov, to whom with 
the most cordial air he began saying the most 
insulting things. The Maecenas of the Tartars 
of Kazan chuckled ; the Maecenas's guests 
laughed, but no one felt merry, and every one was 
in a bad temper when the party broke up. So 
two gentlemen slightly acquainted may be seen 
when they meet on the Nevsky Prospect sud- 
denly grinning at one another and pursing up 
their eyes and noses and cheeks, and then, 
directly they have passed one another, they 
resume their former indifferent, often cross, 
and generally sickly, expression. 



74 



ELENA met Bersenyev cordially, though not in 
the garden, but the drawing-room, and at once, 
almost impatiently, renewed the conversation 
of the previous day. She was alone ; Nikolai 
Artemyevitch had quietly slipped away. Anna 
Vassilyevna was lying down upstairs with a wet 
bandage on her head. Zoya was sitting by her, 
the folds of her skirt arranged precisely about 
her, and her little hands clasped on her knees. 
Uvar Ivanovitch was reposing in the attic on a 
wide and comfortable divan, known as a ' samo- 
son ' or ' dozer.' Bersenyev again mentioned 
his father ; he held his memory sacred. Let 
us, too, say a few words about him. ^/ 

The owner of eighty-two serfs, whom he set 
free before his death, an old Gottingen student, - 
and disciple of the ' Iliuminati,' the author 
of a manuscript work on ' transformations or 
typifications of the spirit in the world* a 
work in which Schelling's philosophy, Sweden- 
borgianism and republicanism were mingled in 
75 



ON THE EVE 

the most original fashion Bersenyev's father 
brought him, while still a boy, to Moscow im- 
mediately after his mother's death, and at once 
himself undertook his education. He prepared 
himself for each lesson, exerted himself with 
extraordinary conscientiousness and absolute 
lack of success : he was a dreamer, a book- 
worm, and a mystic ; he spoke in a dull, hesi- 
tating voice, used obscure and roundabout 
expressions, metaphorical by preference, and 
was shy even of his son, whom he loved passion- 
ately. It was not surprising that his son was 
simply bewildered at his lessons, and did not 
advance in the least. The old man (he was al- 
most fifty, he had married late in life) surmised at 
last that things were not going quite right, and 
he placed his Andrei in a school. Andrei 
began to learn, but he was not removed from 
his father's supervision ; his father visited him 
unceasingly, wearying the schoolmaster to 
death with his instructions and conversation ; 
the teachers, too, were bored by his uninvited 
visits ; he was for ever bringing them some, as 
they said, far - fetched books on education. 
Even the schoolboys were embarrassed at the 
sight of the old man's swarthy, pockmarked 
face, his lank figure, invariably clothed in a sort 
of scanty grey dresscoat The boys did not 
suspect then that this grim, unsmiling old 
76 



ON THE EVE 

gentleman, with his crane-like gait and his long 
nose, was at heart troubling and yearning over 
each one of them almost as over his own son. 
He once conceived the idea of talking to them 
about Washington : ' My young nurslings/ he 
began, but at the first sounds of his strange 
voice the young nurslings ran away. The good 
old Gottingen student did not lie on a bed of 
roses; he was for ever weighed down by the 
march of history, by questions and ideas of 
every kind. When young Bersenyev entered 
the university, his father used to drive with him 
to the lectures, but his health was already begin- 
ning to break up. The events of the year 1848 
shook him to the foundation (it necessitated the 
re-writing of his whole book), and he died in the 
winter of 1853, before his son's time at the 
university was over, but he was able before- 
hand to congratulate him on his degree, and to 
consecrate him to the service of science. ' I 
pass on the torch to you,' he said to him two 
hours before his death. ' I held it while I 
could ; you, too, must not let the light grow 
dim before the end.' 

Bersenyev talked a long while to Elena of 
his father. The embarrassment he had felt in 
her presence disappeared, and his lisp was less 
marked. The conversation passed on to the 
university. 

77 



ON THE EVE 

* Tell me/ Elena asked him, * were there any 
remarkable men among your comrades ? ' 

Bersenyev was again reminded of Shubin's 
words. 

1 No, Elena Nikolaevna, to tell you the truth, 
there was not a single remarkable man among 
us. And, indeed, where are such to be found ! 
There was, they say, a good time once in the 
Moscow university! But not now. Now it's a 
school, not a university. I was not happy with 
my comrades,' he added, dropping his voice. 

* Not happy,' murmured Elena. 

* But I ought/ continued Bersenyev, ' to make 
an exception. I know one student it's true 
he is not in the same faculty he is certainly a 
remarkable man.' 

'What is his name?' Elena inquired with 
interest. 
. g v ' Insarov Dmitri Nikanorovitch. He is a 

ji^r Bulgarian.' 

% Not a Russian ? ' 

1 No, he is not a Russian.* 

* Why is he living in Moscow, then ? - 

' He came here to study. And do you know 
with what aim he is studying ? He has a single 
idea : the liberation of his country. And his 
story is an exceptional one. His father was a 
fairly well-to-do merchant; he came from 
Tirnova. Tirnova is now a small town, but it 
78 



ON THE EVE 

was the capital of Bulgaria in the old days 
when Bulgaria was still an independent state. 
He traded with Sophia, and had relations with 
Russia ; his sister, Insarov's aunt, is still living 
in Kiev, married to a senior history teacher 
in the gymnasium there. In 1835, that is to 
say eighteen years ago, a terrible crime was 
committed ; Insarov's mother suddenly dis- 
appeared without leaving a trace behind ; a 
week later she was found murdered.' 

Elena shuddered. Bersenyev stopped. 

1 Go on, go on,' she said. 

1 There were rumours that she had been out- 
raged and murdered by a Turkish aga ; her 
husband, Insarov's father, found out the truth, 
tried to avenge her, but only succeeded in 
wounding the aga with his poniard. . . . He 
was shot.' 

1 Shot, and without a trial ? ' 

* Yes. Insarov was just eight years old 
at the time. He remained in the hands of 
neighbours. The sister heard of the fate of 
her brother's family, and wanted to take the 
nephew to live with her. They got him to 
Odessa, and from there to Kiev. At Kiev he 
lived twelve whole years. That 's how it is he 
speaks Russian so well,' 

1 He speaks Russian V 

4 Just as we da When he was twenty (that 
79 



ON THE EVE 

was at the beginning of the year 1848) he 
began to want to return to his country. He 
stayed in Sophia and Tirnova, and travelled 
through the length and breadth of Bulgaria, 
spending two years there, and learning his 
mother tongue over again. The Turkish 
Government persecuted him, and he was cer- 
tainly exposed to great dangers during those 
two years ; I once caught sight of a broad scar 
on his neck, from a wound, no doubt ; but he 
does not like to talk about it. He is reserved, 
too, in his own way. I have tried to question 
him about everything, but I could get nothing 
out of him. He answers by generalities. He 's 
awfully obstinate. He returned to Russia again 
in 1850, to Moscow, with the intention of edu- 
cating himself thoroughly, getting intimate with 
Russians, and then when he leaves the univer- 
sity 

* What then ? ' broke in Elena. 

1 What God wills. It 's hard to forecast the 
future.' 

For a while Elena did not take her eyes off 
Bersenyev. 

' You have greatly interested me by what you 
have told me/ she said. 'What is he like, 
this friend of yours ; what did you call him, 
Insarov?' 

' What shall I say ? To my mind, he 's good- 
80 



ON THE EVE 

looking. But you will see him for your- 
self.' 

4 How so?' 

* I will bring him here to see you. He is 
coming to our little village the day after to- 
morrow, and is going to live with me in the 
same lodging/ 

1 Really ? But will he care to come to see us? 1 

* I should think so. He will be delighted.' 
1 He isn't proud, then ? ' 

1 Not the least. That 's to say, he is proud if 
you like, only not in the sense you mean. He 
will never, for instance, borrow money from 
any one.' 

1 Is he poor?' 

* Yes, he isn't rich. When he went to Bul- 
garia he collected some relics left of his father's 
property, and his aunt helps him ; but it all 
comes to very little.' 

1 He must have a great deal of character,' 
observed Elena. 

Yes. He is a man of iron. And at the 
same time you will see there is something child- 
like and frank, with all his concentration and 
even his reserve. It's true, his frankness is 
not our poor sort of frankness the frankness 
of people who have absolutely nothing to con- 
ceal. . . . But there, I will bring him to see 
you ; wait a little.' 

8i F 



ON THE EVE 

' And isn't he shy ? ' asked Elena again. 

* No, he 's not shy. It 's only vain people who 
are shy.' 

1 Why, are you vain ? ' 

He was confused and made a vague gesture 
with his hands. 

* You excite my curiosity,' pursued Elena. 
' But tell me, has he not taken vengeance on 
that Turkish aga ? ' 

Bersenyev smiled. 

1 Revenge is only to be found in novels, Elena 
Nikolaevna ; and, besides, in twelve years that 
aga may well be dead.' 

' Mr. Insarov has never said anything, though, 
to you about it ? ' 

' No, never/ 

1 Why did he go to Sophia ? ' 

' His father used to live there.' 

Elena grew thoughtful. 

1 To liberate one's country ! ' she said. ' It is 
terrible even to utter those words, they are 
so grand.' 

At that instant Anna Vassilyevna came into 
the room, and the conversation stopped. 

Bersenyev was stirred by strange emotions 
when he returned home that evening. He did 
not regret his plan of making Elena acquainted 
with Insarov, he felt the deep impression made 
on her by his account of the young Bulgarian 
82 



ON THE EVE 

very natural . . . had he not himself tried to 
deepen that impression! But a vague, un- 
fathomable emotion lurked secretly in his 
heart; he was sad with a sadness that had 
nothing noble in it. This sadness did not pre- 
vent him, however, from setting to work on the 
History of the Hohenstaufen, and beginning to 
read it at the very page at which he had left oflf 
the evening before. 



83 



XI 



TWO days later, Insarov in accordance with 
his promise arrived at Bersenyev's with his 
luggage. He had no servant ; but without 
any assistance he put his room to rights, 
arranged the furniture, dusted and swept the 
floor. He had special trouble with the writing 
table, which would not fit into the recess in the 
wall assigned for it ; but Insarov, with the 
silent persistence peculiar to him succeeded in 
getting his own way with it. When he had 
settled in, he asked Bersenyev to let him pay 
him ten roubles in advance, and arming him- 
self with a thick stick, set off to inspect the 
country surrounding his new abode. He re- 
turned three hours later; and in response to 
Bersenyev's invitation to share his repast, he 
said that he would not refuse to dine with him 
that day, but that he had already spoken to 
the woman of the house, and would get her to 
send him up his meals for the future. 

1 Upon my word ! ' said Bersenyev, * you will 
84 



ON THE EVE 



fare very badly; that old body can't cook a 
bit. Why -on't you dine with me, we would 
go halves over the cost' 

* My means don't allow me to dine as you I 
do,' Insarov replied with a tranquil smile. 

There was something in that smile which 
forbade further insistence ; Bersenyev did not 
add a word. After dinner he proposed to 
Insarov that he should take him to the 
Stahovs ; but he replied that he had intended 
to devote the evening to correspondence with 
his Bulgarians, and so he would ask him to 
put off the visit to the Stahovs till next day. 
Bersenyev was already familiar with Insarov's 
unbending will ; but it was only now when he 
was under the same roof with him, that he 
fully realised at last that Insarov would never 
alter any decision, just in the same way as he 
would never fail to carry out a promise he had 
given ; to Bersenyev a Russian to his finger- 
tips this more than German exactitude 
seemed at first odd, and even rather ludi- 
crous ; but he soon got used to it, and ended 
by finding it if not deserving of respect at 
least very convenient. 

The second day after his arrival, Insarov; 

got up at four o'clock in the morning, made a 

round of almost all Kuntsovo, bathed in the 

river, drank a glass of cold milk, and then set 

85 



ON THE EVE 

to work. And he had plenty of work to do ; 
he was studying Russian history and law, and 
political economy, translating the Bulgarian 
ballads and chronicles, collecting materials on 
the Eastern Question, and compiling a Russian 
grammar for the use of Bulgarians, and a Bul- 
garian grammar for the use of Russians. Ber- 
senyev went up to him and began to discuss 
Feuerbach. Insarov listened attentively, made 
few remarks, but to the point ; it was clear 
from his observations that he was trying to 
arrive at a conclusion as to whether he need 
study Feuerbach, or whether he could get on 
without him. Bersenyev turned the conversa- 
tion on to his pursuits, and asked him if he 
could not show him anything. Insarov read 
him his translation of two or three Bulgarian 
ballads, and was anxious to hear his opinion of 
them. Bersenyev thought the translation a faith- 
ful one, but not sufficiently spirited. Insarov 
paid close attention to his criticism. From the 
ballads Bersenyev passed on to the present 
position of Bulgaria, and then for the first time 
he noticed what a change came over Insarov 
at the mere mention of his country : not that 
his face flushed nor his voice grew louder no ! 
I but at once a sense of force and intense onward 
striving was expressed in his whole personality, 
the lines of his mouth grew harder and less 
86 






ON THE EVE 

flexible, and a dull persistent fire glowed in the 
depths of his eyes. Insarov did not care to* 
enlarge on his own travels in his country ; but 
of Bulgaria in general he talked readily with' 
any one. He talked at length of the Turks, of 
their oppression, of the sorrows and disasters of 
his countrymen, and of their hopes : concen- 
trated meditation on a single ruling passion 
could be heard in every word he uttered. 

' Ah, well, there 's no mistake about it, Ber- 
senyev was reflecting meanwhile, ' that Turkish 
aga, I venture to think, has been punished for 
his father's and mother's death.' 

Insarov had not had time to say all he 
wanted to say, when the door opened and 
Shubin made his appearance. 

He came into the room with an almost ex- 
aggerated air of ease and good-humour ; Ber- 
senyev, who knew him well, could see at once 
that something had been jarring on him. 

* I will introduce myself without ceremony, 
he began with a bright and open expression on 
his face. * My name is Shubin ; I 'm a friend 
of this young man here' (he indicated Ber- 
senyev). 'You are Mr. Insarov, of course, 
aren't you ? ' 

c I am Insarov.' 

'Then give me your hand and let us be 
friends. I don't know if Bersenyev has talked 
B7 



ON THE EVE 

to you about me, but he has told me a great 
deal about you. You are staying here ? Capi- 
tal ! Don't be offended at my staring at you 
so. I 'm a sculptor by trade, and I foresee I 
shall in a little time be begging your permission 
to model your head.' 
( ' My head 's at your service/ said Insarov. 

' What shall we do to-day, eh ? ' began Shubin, 
sitting down suddenly on a low chair, with his 
knees apart and his elbows propped on them. 
' Andrei Petrovitch, has your honour any kind 
of plan for to-day? It's glorious weather; 
there 's a scent of hay and dried strawberries as 
if one were drinking strawberry-tea for a cold. 
We ought to get up some kind of a spree. Let 
us show the new inhabitant of Kuntsov all its 
numerous beauties/ (Something has certainly 
upset him, Bersenyev kept thinking to himself.) 
'Well, why art thou silent, friend Horatio? 
Open your prophetic lips. Shall we go off on 
a spree, or not ? ' 

*I don't know how Insarov feels,' observed 
Bersenyev. * He is just getting to work, I 
fancy.' 

Shubin turned round on his chair. 

' You want to work ? ' he inquired, in a some- 
what condescending voice. 

'No,' answered Insarov; 'to-day I could 
give up to walking.' 



ON THE EVE 

4 Ah!' commented Shubin. 'Well, that's 
delightful. Run along, my friend, Andrei 
Petrovitch, put a hat on your learned head, 
and let us go where our eyes lead us. Our 
eyes are young they may lead us far. I 
know a very repulsive little restaurant, where 
they will give us a very beastly little dinner ; 
but we shall be very jolly. Come along.' 

Half an hour later they were all three walk- 
ing along the bank of the Moskva. Insarov 
had a rather queer cap with flaps, over which 
Shubin fell into not very spontaneous raptures. 
Insarov walked without haste, and looked 
about, breathing, talking, and smiling with the 
same tranquillity ; he was giving this day up 
to pleasure, and enjoying it to the utmost. 
1 Just as well-behaved boys walk out on Sun- 
days,' Shubin whispered in Bersenyev's ear. 
Shubin himself played the fool a great deal, 
ran in front, threw himself into the attitudes of 
famous statues, and turned somersaults on the 
grass ; Insarov's tranquillity did not exactly 
irritate him, but it spurred him on to playing 
antics. ' What a fidget you are, Frenchman ! ' 
Bersenyev said twice to him. 'Yes, I am 
French, half French/ Shubin answered, 'and 
you hold the happy medium between jest and 
earnest, as a waiter once said to me.' The 
young men turned away from the river and 
89 



ON THE EVE 

went along a deep and narrow ravine between 
two walls of tall golden rye ; a bluish shadow 
was cast on them from the rye on one side ; 
the flashing sunlight seemed to glide over the 
tops of the ears; the larks were singing, the 
quails were calling: on all sides was the 
brilliant green of the grass ; a warm breeze 
stirred and lifted the leaves and shook the 
heads of the flowers. After prolonged wander- 
ings, with rest and chat between (Shubin had 
even tried to play leap-frog with a toothless 
peasant they met, who did nothing but laugh, 
whatever the gentlemen might do to him), 
the young men reached the * repulsive little ' 
restaurant : the waiter almost knocked each of 
them over, and did really provide them with a 
very bad dinner with a sort of Balkan wine, 
which did not, however, prevent them from 
being very jolly, as Shubin had foretold ; he 
himself was the loudest and the least jolly. He 
drank to the health of the incomprehensible 
but great Venelin, the health of the Bulgarian 
king Kuma, Huma, or Hroma, who lived some- 
where about the time of Adam. 

1 In the ninth century,' Insarov corrected 
' him. 

In the ninth century ? ' cried Shubin. * Oh, 
how delightful ! ' 

Bersenyev noticed that among all his pranks, 
90 



ON THE EVE 

and jests and gaiety, Shubin was constantly, as 
it were, examining Insarov ; he was sounding 
him and was in inward excitement, but: 
Insarov remained as before, calm and straight- 
forward. 

At last they returned home, changed their 
dress, and resolved to finish the day as they 
had begun it, by going that evening to the 
Stahovs. Shubin ran on before them to an- 
nounce their arrival. 



9i 



XII 



'The conquering hero Insarov will be here 
directly!' he shouted triumphantly, going into 
the Stahovs' drawing-room, where there hap- 
pened at the instant to be only Elena and Zoya. 

1 WerV inquired Zoya in German. When 
she was taken unawares she always used her 
native language. Elena drew herself up. 
Shubin looked at her with a playful smile on 
his lips. She felt annoyed, but said nothing. 

'You heard,' he repeated, 'Mr. Insarov is 
coming here.' 

' I heard,' she replied ; ' and I heard how you 
spoke of him. I am surprised at you, indeed. 
Mr. Insarov has not yet set foot in the house, and 
you already think fit to turn him into ridicule.' 

Shubin was crestfallen at once. 

1 You are right, you are always right, Elena 
Nikolaevna,' he muttered; 'but I meant 
nothing, on my honour. We have been walk- 
ing together with him the whole day, and he 's 
a capital fellow, I assure you.' 
92 



ON THE EVE 

s I didn't ask your opinion about that/ com- 
mented Elena, getting up. 

* Is Mr. Insarov a young man?' asked 
Zoya. 

1 He is a hundred and forty- four,' replied 
Shu bin with an air of vexation. 

The page announced the arrival of the two 
friends. They came in. Bersenyev introduced 
Insarov. Elena asked them to sit down, and 
sat down herself, while Zoya went off upstairs ; 
she had to inform Anna Vassilyevna of their 
arrival. A conversation was begun of a rather 
insignificant kind, like all first conversations. 
Shubin was silently watching from a corner, 
but there was nothing to watch. In Elena he 
detected signs of repressed annoyance against 
him Shubin and that was all. He looked at 
Bersenyev and at Insarov, and compared their 
faces from a sculptor's point of view. ' They 
are neither of them good-looking,' he thought, 
1 the Bulgarian has a characteristic face there 
now it 's in a good light ; the Great-Russian is 
better adapted for painting ; there are no lines, 
there 's expression. But, I dare say, one might 
fall in love with either of them. She is not in 
love yet, but she will fall in love with Bersenyev,' 
he decided to himself. Anna Vassilyevna made 
her appearance in the drawing-room, and the 
conversation took the tone peculiar to summer 
Q3 



ON THE EVE 

villas not the country-house tone but the 
peculiar summer visitor tone. It was a con- 
versation diversified by plenty of subjects ; 
but broken by short rather wearisome pauses 
every three minutes. In one of these pauses 
Anna Vassilyevna turned to Zoya. Shubin 
understood her silent hint, and drew a long 
face, while Zoya sat down to the piano, and 
played and sang all her pieces through. Uvar 
Ivanovitch showed himself for an instant in the 
doorway, but he beat a retreat, convulsively 
twitching his fingers. Then tea was served ; 
and then the whole party went out into the 
garden. ... It began to grow dark outside, 
and the guests took leave. 

Insarov had really made less impression on 
Elena than she had expected, or, speaking more 
exactly, he had not made the impression she 
had expected. She liked his directness and 
unconstraint, and she liked his face ; but the 
whole character of Insarov with his calm firm- 
ness and everyday simplicity did not somehow 
accord with the image formed in her brain by 
Bersenyev's account of him. Elena, though she 
did not herself suspect it, had anticipated some- 
thing more fateful. 'But,' she reflected, 'he 
spoke very little to-day, and I am myself to blame 
for it ; I did not question him, we must have 
patience till next time . . . and his eyes are 
94 



ON THE EVE 

expressive, honest eyes.' She felt that she had 
no disposition to humble herself before him, 
but rather to hold out her hand to him in 
friendly equality, and she was puzzled ; this was 
not how she had fancied men, like Insarov, 
'heroes.' This last word reminded her of 
Shubin, and she grew hot and angry, as she lay 
in her bed. 

' How did you like your new acquaintances ?" 
Bersenyev inquired of Insarov on their way 
home. 

1 1 liked them very much,' answered Insarov, 
especially the daughter. She must be a nice 
girl. She is excitable, but in her it 's a fine kind 
of excitability/ 

1 You must go and see them a little oftener,' 
observed Bersenyev. 

1 Yes, I must,' said Insarov ; and he said 
nothing more all the way home. He at once 
shut himself up in his room, but his candle was 
burning long after midnight. 

Bersenyev had had time to read a page 
of Raumer, when a handful of fine gravel 
came rattling on his window-pane. He could 
not help starting ; opening the window he saw 
Shubin as white as a sheet. 

'What an irrepressible fellow you are, you 
night moth ' Bersenyev was beginning. 

' Sh * Shubin cut him short ; ' I have come 
05 



ON THE EVE 

to you in secret, as Max went to Agatha 
I absolutely must say a few words to you 
alone.' 

* Come into the room then.' 

'No, that's not necessary,' replied Shubin, 
and he leaned his elbows on the window-sill, 
* it's better fun like this, more as if we were 
in Spain. To begin with, I congratulate you, 
you're at a premium now. Your belauded, 
exceptional man has quite missed fire. That 
I '11 guarantee. And to prove my impartiality, 
listen here 's the sum and substance of Mr. 
Insarov. No talents, none, no poetry, any 
amount of capacity for work, an immense 
memory, an intellect not deep nor varied, but 
sound and quick, dry as dust, and force, and 
even the gift of the gab when the talk 's about 
his between ourselves let it be said tedious 
Bulgaria. What! do you say I am unjust? 
One remark more : you '11 never come to Chris- 
tian names with him, and none ever has been 
on such terms with him. I, of course, as an 
artist, am hateful to him ; and I am proud of 
it. Dry as dust, dry as dust, but he can 
crush all of us to powder. He's devoted 
to his country not like our empty patriots 
who fawn on the people; pour into us, they 
say, thou living water! But, of course, his 
problem is easier, more intelligible: he has 
96 



ON THE EVE 

only to drive the Turks out, a mighty task: 
But all these qualities, thank God, don't 
please women. There's no fascination, no 
charm about them, as there is about you 
and me.' 

* Why do you bring me in?' muttered Ber- 
senyev. ' And you are wrong in all the rest ; 
you are not in the least hateful to him, and with 
his own countrymen he is on Christian name 
terms that I know.' 

* That 's a different matter 1 For them he 's 
a hero ; but, to make a confession, I have a very 
different idea of a hero ; a hero ought not to 
be able to talk ; a hero should roar like a bull, 
but when he butts with his horns, the walls 
shake. He ought not to know himself why 
he butts at things, but just to butt at them. 
But, perhaps, in our days heroes of a different 
stamp are needed.' 

'Why are you so taken up with Insarov?' 
asked Bersenyev. Can you have run here only 
to describe his character to me?' 

1 1 came here,' began Shubin, because I was 
very miserable at home.' 

1 Oh, that 's it 1 Don't you want to have a 
cry again?' 

'You may laugh ! I came here because I'm 
at my wits' end, because I am devoured by 
despair, anger, jealousy.' 

97 G 



ON THE EVE 

1 Jealousy ? of whom ?' 

1 Of you and him and every one. I 'm tor- 
tured by the thought that if I had understood 
her sooner, if I had set to work cleverly 
But what 's the use of talking ! It must end 
by my always laughing, playing the fool, turn- 
ing things into ridicule as she says, and then 
setting to and strangling myself.' 

' Stuff, you won't strangle yourself,' observed 
Bersenyev. 

' On such a night, of course not ; but only let 
me live on till the autumn. On such a night 
people do die too, but only of happiness. Ah, 
happiness ! Every shadow that stretches across 
the road from every tree seems whispering now : 
" I know where there is happiness . . . shall I 
tell you ?" I would ask you to come for a walk, 
only now you 're under the influence of prose. 
Go to sleep, and may your dreams be visited 
by mathematical figures ! My heart is breaking. 
You, worthy gentlemen, see a man laughing, 
and that means to your notions he 's all right ; 
you can prove to him that he's humbugging 
himself, that 's to say, he is not suffering. . . . 
God bless you !' 

Shubin abruptly left the window. 'Annu- 

shka!' Bersenyev felt an impulse to shout after 

him, but he restrained himself; Shubin had 

really been white with emotion. Two minutes 

98 



ON THE EVE 



later, Bersenyev even caught the sound of sob- 
bing ; he got up and opened the window ; 
everything was still, only somewhere in the dis- 
tance some one a passing peasant, probably 
was humming ' The Plain of Mozdok/ 



XIII 

DURING the first fortnight of Insarov's stay in 
the Kuntsovo neighbourhood, he did not visit 
the Stahovs more than four or five times ; 
Bersenyev went to see them every day. Elena 
was always pleased to see him, lively and 
interesting talk always sprang up between 
them, and yet he often went home with a 
gloomy face. Shubin scarcely showed himself; 
he was working with feverish energy at his art ; 
he either stayed locked up in his room, from 
which he would emerge in a blouse, smeared all 
over with clay, or else he spent days in Mos- 
cow where he had a studio, to which models 
and Italian sculptors, his friends and teachers, 
used to come to see him. Elena did not once 
succeed in talking with Insarov, as she would 
have liked to do ; in his absence she prepared 
questions to ask him about many things, but 
when he came she felt ashamed of her plans. 
Insarov's very tranquillity embarrassed her ; 
it seemed to her that she had not the right to 

IOO 



ON THE EVE 

force him to speak out ; and she resolved \s> 
wait ; for all that, she felt that at every visit, 
however trivial might be the words that passed 
between them, he attracted her more and more ; 
but she never happened to be left alone with 
him and to grow intimate with any one, 
one must have at least one conversation alone 
with him. She talked a great deal about 
him to Bersenyev. Bersenyev realised that 
Elena's imagination had been struck by In- 
sarov, and was glad that his friend had not 
' missed fire ' as Shubin had asserted. He told 
her cordially all he knew of him down to the 
minutest details (we often, when we want to 
please some one, bring our friends into our con- 
versation, hardly ever suspecting that we are 
praising ourselves in that way), and only at 
times, when Elena's pale cheeks flushed a little 
and her eyes grew bright and wide, he felt a 
pang in his heart of that evil pain which he had 
felt before. 

One day Bersenyev came to the Stahovs, not 
at the customary time, but at eleven o'clock in 
the morning. Elena came down tf> him in 
the parlour. 

1 Fancy,' he began with a constrained smile, i 
'our Insarov has disappeared.' 

Disappeared ? ' said Elena. 

' He has disappeared. The day before yes- 
xoi 



ON THE EVE 

terday he went off somewhere and nothing has 
been seen of him since.' 

' He did not tell you where he was going ?' 

'No.' 

Elena sank into a chair. 

I He has most likely gone to Moscow,' she 
commented, trying to seem indifferent and at 
the same time wondering that she should try 
to seem indifferent. 

I I don't think so,' rejoined Bersenyev. He 
did not go alone.' 

1 With whom then ? ' 

'Two people of some sort his countrymen 
they must have been came to him the day 
before yesterday, before dinner.' 

' Bulgarians ! what makes you think so ? ' 

' Why as far as I could hear, they talked to 
him in some language I did not know, but 
Slavonic . . . You are always saying, Elena 
Nikolaevna, that there 's so little mystery about 
Insarov ; what could be more mysterious than 
this visit? Imagine, they came to him and 
then there was shouting and quarrelling, and 
such savage, angry disputing. . . And he 
shouted too.' 

' He shouted too?' 

'Yes. He shouted at them. They seemed 
to be accusing each other. And if you could 
have had a peep at these visitors. They had 
102 



ON THE EVE 

swarthy, heavy faces with high cheek bones 
and hook noses, both about forty years old, 
shabbily dressed, hot and dusty, looking like 
workmen not workmen, and not gentlemen 
goodness knows what sort of people they were.' 

' And he went away with them ? ' 

' Yes. He gave them something to eat and 
went off with them. The woman of the house 
told me they ate a whole huge pot of porridge 
between the two of them. They outdid 
one another, she said, and gobbled it up like 
wolves.' 

Elena gave a faint smile. 

'You will see,' she said, 'all this will be 
explained into something very prosaic.' 

' I hope it may ! But you need not use that 
word. There is nothing prosaic about Insa- 
rov, though Shubin does maintain ' 

1 Shubin ! ' Elena broke in, shrugging her 
shoulders. ' But you must confess these two 
good men gobbling up porridge ' 

1 Even Themistocles had his supper on the 
eve of Salamis,' observed Bersenyev with a 
smile. 

1 Yes ; but then there was a battle next day. 
Any way you will let me know when he comes 
back,' said Elena, and she tried to change the 
subject, but the conversation made little pro- 
gress. Zoya made her appearance and began 
103 



ON THE EVE 

walking about the room on tip-toe, giving them 
thereby to understand that Anna Vassilyevna 
was not yet awake. 

Bersenyev went away. 

In the evening of the same day a note from 
him was brought to Elena. He has come 
back/ he wrote to her, ' sunburnt and dusty to 
his very eyebrows ; but where and why he went 
I don't know ; won't you find out ? ' 

' Won't you find out ! ' Elena whispered, 
'as though he talked to mel* 



ro 



XIV 

THE next day, at two o'clock, Elena was stand- 
ing in the garden before a small kennel, where 
she was rearing two puppies. (A gardener 
had found them deserted under a hedge, and 
brought them to the young mistress, being 
told by the laundry-maids that she took pity 
on beasts of all sorts. He was not wrong in 
his reckoning. Elena had given him a quarter- 
rouble.) She looked into the kennel, assured 
herself that the puppies were alive and well, 
and that they had been provided with fresh 
straw, turned round, and almost uttered a cry ; 
down an alley straight towards her was walking 
Insarov, alone. 

'Good-morning/ he said, coming up to her 
and taking off his cap. She noticed that he 
certainly had got much sunburnt during the 
last three days. I meant to have come here 
with Andrei Petrovitch, but he was rather slow 
in starting ; so here I am without him. There 
105 



ON THE EVE 

is no one in your house ; they are all asleep or 
out of doors, so I came on here/ 

1 You seem to be apologising/ replied Elena, 
'There's no need to do that. We are always 
very glad to see you. Let us sit here on the 
bench in the shade.' 

She seated herself. Insarov sat down near 
her. 

' You have not been at home these last days, 
I think ? ' she began. 

1 No,' he answered. ' I went away. Did 
Andrei Petrovitch tell you ? ' 

Insarov looked at her, smiled, and began 
playing with his cap. When he smiled, his 
eyes blinked, and his lips puckered up, which 
gave him a very good-humoured appearance. 

1 Andrei Petrovitch most likely told you too 
that I went away with some unattractive 
people/ he said, still smiling. 

Elena was a little confused, but she felt at 
once that Insarov must always be told the 
truth. 

* Yes,' she said decisively. 

I What did you think of me ? ' he asked her 
suddenly. 

Elena raised her eyes to him. 

I I thought/ she said, ' I thought that you 
always know what you 're doing, and you are 
incapable of doing anything wrong.' 

106 



ON THE EVE 

'Well thanks for that. You see, Elena 
Nikolaevna,' he began, coming closer to her in 
a confidential way, ' there is a little family of 
our people here ; among us there are men of 
little culture ; but all are warmly devoted to 
the common cause. Unluckily, one can never 
get on without dissensions, and they all know 
me, and trust me ; so they sent for me to settle 
a dispute. I went' 

1 Was it far from here ? ' 

' I went about fifty miles, to the Troitsky 
district. There, near the monastery, there 
are some of our people. At any rate, my 
trouble was not thrown away ; I settled the 
matter.' 

'And had you much difficulty?' 

' Yes. One was obstinate through everything. 
He did not want to give back the money.' 

' What ? Was the dispute over money ? ' 

' Yes ; and a small sum of money too. What 
did you suppose ? ' 

' And you travelled over fifty miles for such 
trifling matters? Wasted three days?' 

1 They are not trifling matters, Elena Nikola- 
evna, when my countrymen are involved. It 
would be wicked to refuse in such cases. I see 
here that you don't refuse help even to puppies, 
and I think well of you for it. And as for the 
time I have lost, that 's no great harm ; I will 
107 



ON THE EVE 

make it up later. Our time does not belong 
to us.' 

' To whom does it belong then ? ' 

1 Why, to all who need us. I have told you 
all this on the spur of the moment, because I 
value your good opinion. I can fancy how 
Andrei Petrovitch must have made you 
wonder ! ' 

' You value my good opinion/ said Elena, in 
an undertone, 'why?' 

Insarov smiled again. 

I Because you are a good young lady, not an 
aristocrat . . . that 's all.' 

A short silence followed. 

'Dmitri Nikanorovitch,' said Elena, 'do you 
know that this is the first time you have been 
so unreserved with me ? ' 

'How's that? I think I have always said 
everything I thought to you.' 

'No, this is the first time, and I am very- 
glad, and I too want to be open with yoj. 
May I?' 

Insarov began to laugh and said : ' You may. 

I I warn you I am very inquisitive.' 
1 Never mind, tell me.' 

' Andrei Petrovitch has told me a great deal 
of your life, of your youth. I know of one 
event, one awful event. . . . I know you travelled 
afterwards in your own country. . . . Don't 



ON THE EVE 

answer me for goodness sake, if you think my 
question indiscreet, but I am fretted by one 
idea. . . . Tell me, did you meet that man ? ' 

Elena caught her breath. She felt both 
shame and dismay at her own audacity. 
Insarov looked at her intently, slightly knitting 
his brows, and stroking his chin with his fingers. 

Elena Nikolaevna,' he began at last, and his 
voice was much lower than usual, which almost 
frightened Elena, ' I understand what man you 
are referring to. No, I did not meet him, and 
thank God I did not ! I did not try to find 
him. I did not try to find him : not because I 
did not think I had a right to kill him I would 
kill him with a very easy conscience but be- 
cause now is not the time for private revenge, 
when we are concerned with the general national 
vengeance or no, that is not the right word 
when we are concerned with the liberation 
of a people. The one would be a hindrance to 
the other. In its own time that, too, will come 
. . . that too will come,' he repeated, and he 
shook his head. 

Elena looked at him from the side. 

'You, love your country very dearly?' she 
articulated timidly. 

'That remains to be shown,' he answered. 
1 When one of us dies for her, then one can say 
he loved his country.' 

109 



ON THE EVE 

I So that, if you were cut off all chance of re- 
turning to Bulgaria,' continued Elena, 'would 
you be very unhappy in Russia ? ' 

Insarov looked down. 

I I think I could not bear that,' he said. 

1 Tell me/ Elena began again, ' is it difficult to 
learn Bulgarian ? ' 

1 Not at all. It 's a disgrace to a Russian not 
to know Bulgarian. A Russian ought to know 
all the Slavonic dialects. Would you like me to 
bring you some Bulgarian books? You will 
see how easy it is. What ballads we have ! 
equal to the Servian. But stop a minute, I will 
translate to you one of them. It is about . . . 
But you know a little of our history at least, 
don't you ? ' 

'No, I know nothing of it/ answered 
Elena. 

1 Wait a little and I will bring you a book. 
You will learn the principal facts at least from 
it. Listen to the ballad then. . . . But I had 
better bring you a written translation, though. 
I am sure you will love us, you love all the op- 
pressed. If you knew what a land of plenty 
ours is ! And, meanwhile, it has been down- 
trodden, it has been ravaged/ he went on, with 
an involuntary movement of his arm, and his 
face darkened ; ' we have been robbed of every- 
thing ; everything, our churches, our laws, our 
no 



ON THE EVE 

lands ; the unclean Turks drive us like cattle, 
butcher us ' 

' Dmitri Nikanorovitch ! cried Elena. 

He stopped. 

' I beg your pardon. I can't speak of this 
coolly. But you asked me just now whether I 
love my country. What else can one love on 
earth ? What is the one thing unchanging, what 
is above all doubts, what is it next to God 
one must believe in ? And when that country 
needs. . . . Think ; the poorest peasant, the 
poorest beggar in Bulgaria, and I have the 
same desire. All of us have one aim. You 
can understand what strength, what confidence 
that gives ! ' 

Insarov was silent for an instant; then he 
began again to talk of Bulgaria. Elena listened 
to him with absorbed, profound, and mournful 
attention. When he had finished, she asked 
him once more : 

1 Then you would not stay in Russia for any- 
thing ? ' 

And when he went away, for a long time she 
gazed after him. On that day he had become 
a different man for her. When she walked 
back with him through the garden, he was no 
longer the man she had met two hours before. 

From that day he began to come more and 
more often, and Bersenyev less and less often. A 
in 



ON THE EVE 

strange feeling began to grow up between the 
two friends, of which they were both conscious, 
but to which they could not give a name, and 
which they feared to analyse. In this way a 
month passed. 



XV 

Anna Vassilyevna, as the reader knows al- 
ready, liked staying at home ; but at times 
she manifested, quite unexpectedly, an irre- 
sistible longing for somethingout of the common, 
some extraordinary partie du plaisir\ and the 
more troublesome the partie du plaisir was, the 
more preparations and arrangements it required, 
and the greater Anna Vassilyevna's own agita- 
tion over it, the more pleasure it gave her. If 
this mood came upon her in winter, she would 
order two or three boxes to be taken side 
by side, and, inviting all her acquaintances, 
would set off to the theatre or even to a mas- 
querade ; in summer she would drive for a trip 
out of town to some spot as far off as pos- 
sible. The next day she would complain of a 
headache, groan and keep her bed ; but within 
two months the same craving for something 
* out of the common ' would break out in her 
again. That was just what happened now. 
Some one chanced to refer to the beautiful 
in h 



ON THE EVE 

scenery of Tsaritsino before her, and Anna 
Vassilyevna suddenly announced an intention 
of driving to Tsaritsino the day after to- 
morrow. The household was thrown into a 
state of bustle ; a messenger galloped off to 
Moscow for Nikolai Artemyevitch ; with him 
galloped the butler to buy wines, pies, and all 
sorts of provisions ; Shubin was commissioned 
to hire an open carriage the coach alone was 
not enough and to order relays of horses to 
be ready ; a page was twice despatched to Ber- 
senyev and Insarov with two different notes of 
invitation, written by Zoya, the first in Russian, 
the second in French ; Anna Vassilyevna her- 
self was busy over the dresses of the young 
ladies for the expedition. Meanwhile \hz partie 
du plaisir was very near coming to grief. 
Nikolai Artemyevitch arrived from Moscow in 
a sour, ill-natured, frondeurish frame of orind. 
He was still sulky with Augustina Christian- 
ovna ; and when he heard what the plan was, 
he flatly declared that he would not go ; that to 
go trotting from Kuntsovo to Moscow and from 
Moscow to Tsaritsino, and then from Tsarit- 
sino again to Moscow, from Moscow again to 
Kuntsovo, was a piece of folly ; and, ' in fact,' he 
added, ' let them first prove to my satisfaction, 
that one can be merrier on one spot of the 
globe than another spot, and I will go.' This, 
H4 



ON THE EVE 

of course, no one could prove to his satisfac- 
tion, and Anna Vassilyevna was ready to 
throw up the partie du plaisir for lack of a 
solid escort ; but she recollected Uvar Ivano- 
vitch, and in her distress she sent to his room 
for him, saying: 'a drowning man catches at 
straws.' They waked him up ; he came down, 
listened in silence to Anna Vassilyevna's pro- 
position, and, to the general astonishment, with 
a flourish of his fingers, he consented to go. 
Anna Vassilyevna kissed him on the cheek, 
and called him a darling ; Nikolai Artemye- 
vitch smiled contemptuously and said : quelle 
bourde ! (he liked on occasions to make use of 
a ' smart ' French word) ; and the following 
morning the coach and the open carriage, well- 
packed, rolled out of the Stahovs' court-yard. 
In the coach were the ladies, a maid, and Ber- 
senyev ; Insarov was seated on the box ; and 
in the open carriage were Uvar Ivanovitch and 
Shubin. Uvar Ivanovitch had himself bec- 
koned Shubin to him ; he knew that he would 
tease him the whole way, but there existed a 
queer sort of attachment, marked by abusive 
candour, between the ' primeval force ' and the 
young artist On this occasion, however, 
Shubin left his fat friend in peace ; he was 
absent - minded, silent, and gentle. 

The sun stood high in a cloudless blue sky 
"5 



ON THE EVE 

when the carriage drove up to the ruins of 
Tsaritsino Castle, which looked gloomy and 
menacing, even at mid-day. The whole party 
stepped out on to the grass, and at once made 
a move towards the garden. In front went 
Elena and Zoya with Insarov ; Anna Vas- 
silyevna, with an expression of perfect happi- 
ness on her face, walked behind them, lean- 
ing on the arm of Uvar Ivanovitch. He 
waddled along panting, his new straw hat cut 
his forehead, and his feet twinged in his 
boots, but he was content ; Shubin and Ber- 
senyev brought up the rear. ' We will form 
the reserve, my dear boy, like veterans/ whis- 
pered Shubin to Bersenyev. ' Bulgaria 's in it 
now ! ' he added, indicating Elena with his 
eyebrows. 

The weather was glorious. Everything around 
was flowering, humming, singing ; in the dis- 
tance shone the waters of the lakes ; a light- 
hearted holiday mood took possession of all. 
1 Oh, how beautiful ; oh, how beautiful ! ' Anna 
Vassilyevna repeated incessantly ; Uvar Ivano- 
vitch kept nodding his head approvingly in 
response to her enthusiastic exclamations, 
and once even articulated : To be sure ! 
to be sure ! ' From time to time Elena ex- 
changed a few words with Insarov ; Zoya held 
the brim of her large hat with two fingers 
116 



ON THE EVE 

while her little feet, shod in light grey shoes 
with rounded toes, peeped coquettishly out 
from under her pink barege dress ; she kept 
looking to each side and then behind her. 
' Hey ! ' cried Shubin suddenly in a low voice, 
'Zoya Nikitishna is on the lookout, it seems. 
I will go to her. Elena Nikolaevna despises 
me now, while you, Andrei Petrovitch, she 
esteems, which comes to the same thing. I 
am going; I'm tired of being glum. I 
should advise you, my dear fellow, to do some 
botanising ; that 's the best thing you could hit 
on in your position ; it might be useful, too, 
from a scientific point of view. Farewell ! ' 
Shubin ran up to Zoya, offered her his arm, and 
saying : ' Ihre Hand, Madame,' caught hold of 
her hand, and pushed on ahead with her. Elena 
stopped, called to Bersenyev, and also took his 
arm, but continued talking to Insarov. She 
asked him the words for lily-of-the-valley, 
clover, oak, lime, and so on in his language. . . 
'Bulgaria's in it !* thought poor Andrei Petro- 
vitch. 

Suddenly a shriek was heard in front ; every 
one looked up. Shubin's cigar-case fell into a 
bush, flung by Zoya's hand. 'Wait a minute, 
I '11 pay you out ! ' he shouted, as he crept into 
the bushes ; he found his cigar-case, and was 
returning to Zoya ; but he had hardly reached 
117 



/" 



ON THE EVE 

her side when again his cigar-case was sent 
flying across the road. Five times this trick 
was repeated, he kept laughing and threatening 
her, but Zoya only smiled slyly and drew her- 
self together, like a little cat. At last he 
snatched her fingers, and squeezed them so 
tightly that she shrieked, and for a long time 
afterwards breathed on her hand, pretending to 
be angry, while he murmured something in her 
ears. 

' Mischievous things, young people,' Anna 
Vassilyevna observed gaily to Uvar Ivano- 
vitch. 

He flourished his fingers in reply. 

1 What a girl Zoya Nikitishna is 1 ' said Ber- 
senyev to Elena. 

'And Shubin? What of him?' she 
answered. 

Meanwhile the whole party went into the 
arbour, well known as Pleasant View arbour, 
and stopped to admire the view of the Tsaritsino 
lakes. They stretched one behind the other for 
several miles, overshadowed by thick woods. 
The bright green grass, which covered the hill 
sloping down to the largest lake, gave the water 
itself an extraordinarily vivid emerald colour 
Even at the water's edge not a ripple stirred the 
smooth surface. One might fancy it a solid 
mass of glass lying heavy and shining in a huge 
118 



ON THE EVE 

font ; the sky seemed to drop into its depths, 
while the leafy trees gazed motionless into its 
transparent bosom. All were absorbed in long 
and silent admiration of the view ; even Shubin 
was still ; even Zoya was impressed. At last, 
all with one mind, began to wish to go upon 
the water. Shubin, Insarov, and Bersenyev 
raced each other over the grass. They suc- 
ceeded in finding a large painted boat and two 
boatmen, and beckoned to the ladies. The 
ladies stepped into the boat ; Uvar Ivanovitch 
cautiously lowered himself into it after them. 
Great was the mirth while he got in and took 
his seat. ' Look out, master, don't drown us/ 
observed one of the boatmen, a snubnosed 
young fellow in a gay print shirt. ' Get along, 
you swell ! ' said Uvar Ivanovitch. The 
boat pushed off. The young men took up 
the oars, but Insarov was the only one of them 
who could row. Shubin suggested that they 
should sing some Russian song in chorus, and 
struck up: 'Down the river Volga' . . . Bersen- 
yev, Zoya, and even Anna Vassilyevna, joined 
in Insarov could not sing but they did not 
keep together ; at the third verse the singers 
were all wrong. Only Bersenyev tried to go on 
in the bass, ' Nothing on the waves is seen,' but 
he, too, was soon in difficulties. The boatmen 
looked at one another and grinned in silence. 
119 



ON THE EVE 

1 Eh ? ' said Shubin, turning to them, ' the gentle- 
folks can't sing, you say ? ' The boy in the 
print shirt only shook his head. ' Wait a little 
snubnose,' retorted Shubin, ' we will show you. 
Zoya Nikitishna, sing us Le lac of Niedermeyer. 
Stop rowing ! The wet oars stood still, lifted 
in the air like wings, and their splash died 
away with a tuneful drip ; the boat drifted on 
a little, then stood still, rocking lightly on the 
water like a swan. Zoya affected to refuse at 
first. . . . ' A lions j said Anna Vassilyevna geni- 
ally. . . . Zoya took off her hat and began to 
sing : * O lac, Vanne'e a peine afini sa carrier e! 

Her small, but pure voice, seemed to dart 
over the surface of the lake ; every word echoed 
far off in the woods ; it sounded as though some 
one were singing there, too, in a distinct, but 
mysterious and unearthly voice. When Zoya 
finished, a loud bravo was heard from an arbour 
near the bank, from which emerged several 
red-faced Germans who were picnicking at 
Tsaritsino. Several of them had their coats off, 
their ties, and even their waistcoats ; and they 
shouted 'bis l* with such unmannerly insistence 
that Anna Vassilyevna told the boatmen to 
row as quickly as possible to the other end of 
the lake. But before the boat reached the bank, 
Uvar Ivanovitch once more succeeded in sur- 
prising his friends ; having noticed that in one 
120 



ON THE EVE 

part of the wood the echo repeated every sound 
with peculiar distinctness, he suddenly began 
to call like a quail. At first every one was 
startled, but they listened directly with real 
pleasure, especially as Uvar Ivanovitch imitated 
the quail's cry with great correctness. Spurred 
on by this, he tried mewing like a cat ; but this 
did not go off so well ; and after one more 
quail-call, he looked at them all and stopped. 
Shubin threw himself on him to kiss him ; 
he pushed him off. At that instant the boat 
touched the bank, and all the party got out and 
went on shore. 

Meanwhile the coachman, with the groom 
and the maid, had brought the baskets out of 
the coach, and made dinner ready on the grass 
under the old lime-trees. They sat down round 
the outspread tablecloth, and fell upon the pies 
and other dainties. They all had excellent 
appetites, while Anna Vassilyevna, with un- 
flagging hospitality, kept urging the guests to 
cat more, assuring them that nothing was 
more wholesome than eating in the open air. 
She even encouraged Uvar Ivanovitch with 
such assurances. * Don't trouble about me ! ' he 
grunted with his mouth full. ' Such a lovely 
day is a God - send, indeed ! ' she repeated 
constantly. One would not have known her ; 
she seemed fully twenty years younger. Ber- 
121 



ON THE EVE 

senyev said as much to her. ' Yes, yes.' she 
said ; ' I could hold my own with any one in 
my day.' Shubin attached himself to Zoya, 
and kept pouring her out wine ; she refused 
it, he pressed her, and finished by drinking 
the glass himself, and again pressing her to 
take another; he also declared that he longed 
to lay his head on her knee ; she would on no 
account permit him 'such a liberty.' Elena 
seemed the most serious of the party, but in 
her heart there was a wonderful sense of peace, 
such as she had not known for long. She 
felt filled with boundless goodwill and kind- 
ness, and wanted to keep not only Insarov, 
but Bersenyev too, always at her side. . . . 
Andrei Petrovitch dimly understood what this 
meant, and secretly he sighed. 

The hours flew by ; the evening was coming 
on. Anna Vassilyevna suddenly took alarm. 
1 Ah, my dear friends, how late it is ! ' she cried. 
1 All good things must have an end ; it 's time 
to go home.' She began bustling about, and 
they all hastened to get up and walk towards 
the castle, where the carriages were. As they 
walked past the lakes, they stopped to admire 
Tsaritsino for the last time. The landscape on 
all sides was glowing with the vivid hues of 
early evening ; the sky was red, the leaves were 
flashing with changing colours as they stirred 

122 



ON THE EVE 

In the rising wind ; the distant waters shone 
in liquid gold ; the reddish turrets and arbours 
scattered about the garden stood out sharply 
against the dark green of the trees. ' Fare- 
well, Tsaritsino, we shall not forget to-day's 
excursion ! ' observed Anna Vassilyevna. . . . 
But at that instant, and as though in confir- 
mation of her words, a strange incident oc- 
curred, which certainly was not likely to be 
forgotten. 

This was what happened. Anna Vassilyevna 
had hardly sent her farewell greeting to Tsarit- 
sino, when suddenly, a few paces from her, 
behind a high bush of lilac, were heard con- 
fused exclamations, shouts, and laughter ; and 
a whole mob of disorderly men, the same 
devotees of song who had so energetically 
applauded Zoya, burst out on the path. These 
musical gentlemen seemed excessively elevated. 
They stopped at the sight of the ladies ; but 
one of them, a man of immense height, with a 
bull neck and a bull's goggle eyes, separated 
from his companions, and, bowing clumsily and 
staggering unsteadily in his gait, approached 
Anna Vassilyevna, who was petrified with 
alarm. 

' Bonzkoor, madame] he said thickly, ' how are 
you?' 

Anna Vassilyevna started back. 
123 



ON THE EVE 

'Why wouldn't you,' continued the giant in 
vile Russian, 'sing again when our party 
shouted bis, and bravo ? ' 

'Yes, why?' came from the ranks of his 
comrades. 

Insarov was about to step forward, but 
Shubin stopped him, and himself screened 
Anna Vassilyevna. 

* Allow me,' he began, ' honoured stranger, 
to express to you the heartfelt amazement, 
into which you have thrown all of us by your 
conduct. You belong, as far as I can judge, to 
the Saxon branch of the Caucasian race ; 
consequently we are bound to assume your 
acquaintance with the customs of society, yet 
you address a lady to whom you have not been 
introduced. I assure you that I individually 
should be delighted another time to make your 
acquaintance, since I observe in you a phe- 
nomenal development of the muscles, biceps, 
triceps and deltoid, so that, as a sculptor, I 
should esteem it a genuine happiness to have 
you for a model ; but on this occasion kindly 
leave us alone.' 

The ' honoured stranger ' listened to Shubin's 
speech, his head held contemptuously on one 
side and his arms akimbo. 

' I don't understand what you say,' he com- 
mented at last. 'Do you suppose I 'm a 
124 



ON THE EVE 

cobbler or a watchmaker? Hey 1 I'm an 
officer, an official, so there.' 

1 1 don't doubt that ' Shubin was begin- 
ning. 

'What I say is,' continued the stranger, 
putting him aside with his powerful arm, like a 
twig out of the path ' why didn't you sing 
again when we shouted bis ? And I '11 go away 
directly, this minute, only I tell you what I 
want, this frdulein, not that madam, no, not 
her, but this one or that one (he pointed to 
Elena and Zoya) must give me einen Kuss y as 
we say in German, a kiss, in fact ; eh ? That 's 
not much to ask.' 

1 Einen Kuss, that's not much,' came again 
from the ranks of his companions, 'Ih! der 
Stakramtnter /' cried one tipsy German, 
bursting with laughter. 

Zoya clutched at Insarov's arm, but he broke 
away from her, and stood directly facing the 
insolent giant. 

'You will please to move off,' he said in a 
voice not loud but sharp. 

The German gave a heavy laugh, 'Move off? 
Well, I like that. Can't I walk where I please? 
Move off? Why should I move off?' 

' Because you have dared to annoy a lady,' 
said Insarov, and suddenly he turned white, 
1 because you 're drunk.' 
125 



ON THE EVE 

' Eh ? me drunk ? Hear what he says. 1 
Horen Sie das, Herr Provisor ? I 'm an officer, 
and he dares . . , Now I demand satisfaction ! 
Einen Kuss will ich ! ' 

* If you come another step nearer began 

Insarov. 

'Well? What then' 

1 1 '11 throw you in the water ! ' 

'In the water? Herr Jet Is that all? 
Well, let us see that, that would be very curious, 
too/ 

The officer lifted his fists and moved for- 
ward, but suddenly something extraordinary 
happened. He uttered an exclamation, his 
whole bulky person staggered, rose from the 
ground, his legs kicking in the air, and before 
the ladies had time to shriek, before any one 
had time to realise how it had happened, the 
officer's massive figure went plop with a heavy 
splash, and at once disappeared under the eddy- 
ing water. 

' Oh ! ' screamed the ladies with one voice. 

' Mein Gott! ' was heard from the other side. 

An instant passed . . . and a round head, 
all plastered over with wet hair, showed above 
water, it was blowing bubbles, this head ; and 
floundering with two hands just at its very lips. 

' He will be drowned, save him ! save him ! ' 
cried Anna Vassilyevna to Insarov, who was 
126 



ON THE EVE 

standing with his legs apart on the bank, 
breathing heavily. 

1 He will swim out/ he answered with con- 
temptuous and unsympathetic indifference. 
' Let us go on,' he added, taking Anna Vassil- 
yevna by the arm. * Come, Uvar Ivanovitch, 
Elena Nikolaevna.' 

1 A a o o ' was heard at that instant, the 
plaint of the hapless German who had managed 
to get hold of the rushes on the bank. 

They all followed Insarov, and had to pass 
close by the party. But, deprived of their 
leader, the rowdies were subdued and did not 
utter a word ; but one, the boldest of them, 
muttered, shaking his head menacingly : ' All 
right ... we shall see though . . . after that ' ; 
but one of the others even took his hat off. 
Insarov struck them as formidable, and rightly 
so ; something evil, something dangerous could 
be seen in his face. The Germans hastened to 
pull out their comrade, who, directly he had his 
feet on dry ground, broke into tearful abuse 
and shouted after the ' Russian scoundrels,' 
that he would make a complaint, that he would 
go to Count Von Kizerits himself, and so on. 

But the ' Russian scoundrels ' paid no atten- 
tion to his vociferations, and hurried on as fast 
as they could to the castle. They were all 
silent, as they walked through the garden ; 
127 



ON THE EVE 

though Anna Vassilyevna sighed a little. But 
when they reached the carriages and stood 
still, they broke into an irrepressible, irresistible 
fit of Homeric laughter. First Shubin ex- 
ploded, shrieking as if he were mad, Bersenyev 
followed with his gurgling guffaw, then Zoya 
fell into thin tinkling little trills, Anna Vassil- 
yevna too suddenly broke down, Elena could 
not help smiling, and even Insarov at last 
could not resist it. But the loudest, longest, 
most persistent laugh was Uvar Ivanovitch's ; 
he laughed till his sides ached, till he choked 
and panted. He would calm down a little, 
then would murmur through his tears: 'I 
thought what's that splash and there he 
went plop.' And with the last word, 
forced out with convulsive effort, his whole 
frame was shaking with another burst of 
laughter. Zoya made him worse. I saw his 
legs,' she said, ' kicking in the air.' ' Yes, yes/ 
gasped Uvar Ivanovitch, 'his legs, his legs 
and then splash ! there he plopped in ! ' 

' And how did Mr. Insarov manage it ? why 
the German was three times his size?' said 
Zoya. 

* I '11 tell you/ answered Uvar Ivanovitch, 
rubbing his eyes, ' I saw ; with one arm about 
his waist, he tripped him up, and he went 
plop ! I heard a splash there he went' 
128 



ON THE EVE 

Long after the carriages had started, long 
after the castle of Tsaritsino was out of sight, 
Uvar Ivanovitch was still unable to regain his 
composure. Shubin, who was again with him 
in the carriage, began to cry shame on him at 
last. 

Insarov felt ashamed. He sat in the coach 
facing Elena (Bersenyev had taken his seat 
on the box), and he said nothing ; she too was 
silent. He thought that she was condemning 
his action ; but she did not condemn him. She 
had been scared at the first minute ; then the 
expression of his face had impressed her ; after- 
wards she pondered on it all. It was not quite 
clear to her what the nature of her reflections 
was. The emotion she had felt during the 
day had passed away ; that she realised ; but 
its place had been taken by another feeling 
which she did not yet fully understand. The 
partie de plaisir had been prolonged too late ; 
insensibly evening passed into night. The 
carriage rolled swiftly along, now beside ripen- 
ing cornfields, where the air was heavy and 
fragrant with the smell of wheat ; now beside 
wide meadows, from which a sudden wave of 
freshness blew lightly in the face. The sky 
seemed to lie like smoke over the horizon. At 
last the moon rose, dark and red. Anna Vas- 
silyevna was dozing ; Zoya had poked her 
129 1 



ON THE EVE 

head out of window and was staring at the road. 
It occurred to Elena at last that she had not 
spoken to Insarov for more than an hour. She 
turned to him with a trifling question ; he at once 
answered her, delighted. Dim sounds began stir- 
ring indistinctly in the air, as though thousands 
of voices were talking in the distance ; Moscow 
was coming to meet them. Lights twinkled 
afar off; they grew more and more frequent; 
at last there was the grating of the cobbles under 
their wheels. Anna Vassilyevna awoke, every 
one in the carriage began talking, though no one 
could hear what was said ; everything was 
drowned in the rattle of the cobbles under the 
two carriages, and the hoofs of the eight horses. 
Long and wearisome seemed the journey from 
Moscow to Kuntsovo ; all the party were asleep 
or silent, leaning with their heads pressed into 
their respective corners; Elena did not close her 
eyes ; she kept them fixed on Insarov's dimly- 
outlined figure. A mood of sadness had come 
upon Shubin ; the breeze was blowing into his 
eyes and irritating him ; he retired into the collar 
of his cloak and was on the point of tears. Uvar 
Ivanovitch was snoring blissfully, rocking from 
side to side. The carriages came to a stand- 
still at last. Two men-servants lifted Anna 
Vassilyevna out of the carriage ; she was all 
to pieces, and at parting from her fellow 
130 



ON THE EVE 

travellers, announced that she was ' nearly dead'; 
they began thanking her, but she only repeated, 
4 nearly dead.' Elena for the first time pressed 
Insarov's hand at parting, and for a long while 
she satat her window before undressing ; Shubin 
seized an opportunity to whisper to Bersenyev : 

1 There, isn't he a hero ; he can pitch drunken 
Germans into the river ! ' 

'While you didn't even do that,' retorted 
Bersenyev, and he started homewards with 
Insarov. 

The dawn was already showing in the sky 
when the two friends reached their lodging. 
The sun had not yet risen, but already the chill 
of daybreak was in the air, a grey dew covered 
the grass, and the first larks were trilling high, 
high up in the shadowy infinity of air, whence 
like a solitary eye looked out the great, last 
star 



m 



XVI 

SOON after her acquaintance with Insarov, 
Elena (for the fifth or sixth time) began a 
diary. Here are some extracts from it : 

'June. . . . Andrei Petrovitch brings me 
books, but I can't read them. I 'm ashamed to 
confess it to him ; but I don't like to give back 
the books, tell lies, say I have read them. I 
feel that would mortify him. He is always 
watching me. He seems devoted to me. A 
very good man, Andrei Petrovitch. . . . What 
is it I want ? Why is my heart so heavy, so 
oppressed ? Why do I watch the birds with 
envy as they fly past ? I feel that I could fly 
with them, fly, where I don't know, but far from 
here. And isn't that desire sinful? I have 
here mother, father, home. Don't I love them ? 
No, I don't love them, as I should like to love. 
It's dreadful to put that in words, but it's 
the truth. Perhaps I am a great sinner ; 
perhaps that is why I am so sad, why I have 
no peace. Some hand seems laid on me, 
132 



ON THE EVE 

weighing me down, as though I were in prison, 
and the walls would fall on me directly. Why 
is it others don't feel this ? Whom shall I love, 
if I am cold to my own people? It's clear, 
papa is right ; he reproaches me for loving 
nothing but cats and dogs. I must think about 
that. I pray very little ; I must pray. . . . Ah, 
I think I should know how to love ! . . . I am 
still shy with Mr. Insarov. I don't know 
why ; I believe I 'm not schoolgirlish generally, 
and he is so simple and kind. Sometimes he 
has a very serious face. He can't give much 
thought to us. I feel that, and am ashamed in 
a way to take up his time. With Andrei Pet- 
rovitch it 's quite a different thing. I am ready to 
chat with him the whole day long. But he too 
always talks of Insarov. And such terrible facts 
he tells me about him ! I saw him in a dream 
last night with a dagger in his hand. And he 
seemed to say to me, " I will kill you and I 
will kill myself!" What silliness ! 

1 Oh, if some one would say to me : " There, 
that 's what you must do ! " Being good isn't 
much ; doing good . . . yes, that 's the great 
thing in life. But how is one to do good ? Oh, 
if I could learn to control myself ! I don't know 
why I am so often thinking of Mr. Insarov. 
When he comes and sits and listens intently, 
but makes no effort, no exertion himself, I look 
i33 



ON THE EVE 

at him, and feel pleased, and that 's all, and when 
he goes, I always go over his words, and feel 
vexed with myself, and upset even. I can't 
tell why. (He speaks French badly and isn't 
ashamed of it I like that.) I always think a 
lot about new people, though. As I talked to 
him, I suddenly was reminded of our butler, 
Vassily, who rescued an old cripple out of a 
hut that was on fire, and was almost killed 
himself. Papa called him a brave fellow, 
mamma gave him five roubles, and I felt as 
though I could fall at his feet. And he had 
a simple face stupid-looking even and he 
took to drink later on. . . . 

1 1 gave a penny to-day to a beggar woman, 
and she said to me, "Why are you so sorrowful?" 
I never suspected I looked sorrowful. I think 
it must come from being alone, always alone, 
for better, for worse ! There is no one to stretch 
out a hand to me. Those who come to me, I 
don't want ; and those I would choose pass 
me by. 

* . . I don't know what 's the matter with me 
to-day ; my head is confused, I want to fall on 
my knees and beg and pray for mercy. I don't 
know by whom or how, but I feel as if I were 
being tortured, and inwardly I am shrieking 
in revolt ; I weep and can't be quiet. . . . O 
my God, subdue these outbreaks in me ! Thou 
i34 



ON THE EVE 

alone canst aid me, all else is useless ; my 
miserable alms-giving, my studies can do 
nothing, nothing, nothing to help me. I 
should like to go out as a servant somewhere, 
really ; that would do me good. 

1 What is my youth for, what am I living for, 
why have I a soul, what is it all for ? 

\ . . Insarov, Mr. Insarov upon my word I 
don't know how to write still interests me, 
I should like to know what he has within, in 
his soul ? He seems so open, so easy to talk 
to, but I can see nothing. Sometimes he looks 
at me with such searching eyes or is that my 
fancy? Paul keeps teasing me. I am angry 
with Paul. What does he want ? He 's in love 
with me . . . but his love's no good to me. 
He 's in love with Zoya too. I 'm unjust to 
him ; he told me yesterday 1 didn't know how 
to be unjust by halves . . . that's true. It's 
very horrid. 

1 Ah, I feel one needs unhappiness, or 
poverty or sickness, or else one gets conceited 
directly. 

'. . . What made Andrei Petrovitch tell me 
to-day about those two Bulgarians ! He told 
me it as it were with some intention. What 
have I to do with Mr. Insarov? I feel cross 
with Andrei Petrovitch. 

*. . . I take my pen and don't know how to 
135 



ON THE EVE 

begin. How ui expectedly he began to talk to 
me in the garden to-day ! How friendly and 
confiding he was ! How quickly it happened ! 
As if we were old, old friends and had only just 
recognised each other. How could I have not 
understood him before ? How near he is to 
me now ! And what 's so wonderful I feel 
ever so much calmer now. It 's ludi- 
crous ; yesterday I was angry with Andrei 
Petrovitch, and angry with him, I even called 
him Mr. Insarov, and to-day . . . Here at 
last is a true man ; some one one may depend 
upon. He won't tell lies ; he 's the first man 
I have met who never tells lies ; all the others 
tell lies, everything 's lying. Andrei Petrovitch, 
dear good friend, why do I wrong you ? No ! 
Andrei Petrovitch is more learned than he is, 
even, perhaps more intellectual. But I don't 
know, he seems so small beside him. When he 
speaks of his country he seems taller, and his face 
grows handsome, and his voice is like steel, and 
... no ... it seems as though there were no 
one in the world before whom he would flinch. 
And he doesn't only talk. ... he has acted 
and he will act. I shall ask him. . . . How 
suddenly he turned to me and smiled ! . . . It 's 
only brothers that smile like that ! Ah, how 
glad I am ! When he came the first time, I 
never dreamt that we should so soon get to 
136 



ON THE EVE 

know each other. And now I a yi even pleased 
that I remained indifferent to him at first. 
Indifferent? Am I not indifferent then 
now? ... It's long since I have felt such 
inward peace. I feel so quiet, so quiet. 
And there's nothing to write? I see him 
often and that's all. What more is there to 
write ? 

'. . . Paul shuts himself up, Andrei Petrovitch 
has taken to coming less often. . . . poor 
fellow ! I fancy he ... But that can never be, 
though. I like talking to Andrei Petrovitch ; 
never a word of self, always of something sen- 
sible, useful. Very different from Shubin. 
Shubin 's as fine as a butterfly, and admires his 
own finery ; which butterflies don't do. But 
both Shubin and Andrei Petrovitch ... I 
know what I mean. 

'. . . He enjoys coming to us, I see that. But 
why? what does he find in me? It's true our 
tastes are alike ; he and I, both of us don't 
care for poetry ; neither of us knows anything 
of art. But how much better he is than I ! 
He is calm, I am in perpetual excitement ; he 
has chosen his path, his aim while I where 
am I going ? where is my home ? He is calm, 
but all his thoughts are far away. The time 
will come, and he will leave us for ever, will go 
home, there over the sea. Well? God grant 
137 



ON THE EVE 

he may! Any way I shall be glad that I 
knew him, while he was here. 

' Why isn't he a Russian ? No, he could not 
be Russian. 

* Mamma too likes him ; she says : an un- 
assuming young man. Dear mamma! She 
does not understand him. Paul says nothing ; 
he guessed I didn't like his hints, but he 's jeal- 
ous of him. Spiteful boy! And what right 
has he ? Did I ever . . . All that 's nonsense ! 
What makes all that come into my head ? 

'. . . Isn't it strange though, that up till now, 
up to twenty, I have never loved any one ! I 
believe that the reason why D.'s (I shall call him 
D. I like that name Dmitri) soul is so clear, is 
that he is entirely given up to his work, his 
ideal. What has he to trouble about ? When 
any one has utterly . . . utterly . . . given 
himself up, he has little sorrow, he is not respon- 
sible for anything. It 's not /want, but it wants. 
By the way, he and I both love the same flowers. 
I picked a rose this morning, one leaf fell, 
he picked it up. ... I gave him the whole rose. 

'. . . D. often comes to us. Yesterday he 
spent the whole evening. He wants to teach me 
Bulgarian. I feel happy with him, quite at 
home, more than at home. 

\ . . The days fly past. ... I am happy, 
and somehow discontent and I am thankful to 
138 



ON THE EVE 

God, and tears are not far off. Oh these hot 
bright days ! 

'. . . I am still light-hearted as before, and 
only at times, and only a little, sad, I am 
happy. Am I happy ? 

'. . . It will be long before I forget the 
expedition yesterday. What strange, new, 
terrible impressions when he suddenly took 
that great giant and flung him like a ball 
into the water. I was not frightened . . . yet 
he frightened me. And afterwards what an 
angry face, almost cruel ! How he said, " He 
will swim out ! " It gave me a shock. So 
I did not understand him. And afterwards 
when they all laughed, when I was laughing, 
how I felt for him ! He was ashamed, I 
felt that he was ashamed before me. He told 
me so afterwards in the carriage in the dark, 
when I tried to get a good view of him and 
was afraid of him. Yes, he is not to be trifled 
with, and he is a splendid champion. But 
why that wicked look, those trembling lips, 
that angry fire in his eyes ? Or is it, perhaps, 
inevitable? Isn't it possible to be a man, a 
hero, and to remain soft and gentle ? " Life 's 
a coarse business," he said to me once lately. 
I repeated that saying to Andrei Petrovitch ; 
he did not agree with D. Which of them is 
right ? But the beginning of that day ! How 
i39 



ON THE EVE 

happy I was, walking beside him, even without 
speaking. . . . But I am glad of what hap- 
pened. I see that it was quite as it should be. 

\ . . Restlessness again ... I am not quite 
well. . . . All these days I have written no- 
thing in this book, because I have had no wish to 
write. I felt, whatever I write, it won't be what 
is in my heart. . . . And what is in my heart ? 
I have had a long talk with him, which re- 
vealed a great deal. He told me his plan 
(by the way, I know now how he got the wound 
in his neck. . . . Good God ! when I think he 
was actually condemned to death, that he was 
only just saved, that he was wounded. . . . ) 
He prophesies war and will be glad of it. And 
for all that, I never saw D. so depressed. What 
can he ... he ! ... be depressed by ? Papa 
arrived home from town and came upon 
us two. He looked rather queerly at us. 
Andrei Petrovitch came; I noticed he had 
grown very thin and pale. He reproved me, 
saying I behave too coldly and inconsiderately 
to Shubin. I had utterly forgotten Paul's exis- 
tence. I will see him, and try to smooth over my 
offence. He is nothing to me now . . . nor any 
one else in the world. Andrei Petrovitch talked 
to me in a sort of commiserating way. What 
does it all mean ? Why is everything around 
me and within me so dark ? I feel as if about 
140 



ON THE EVE 

me and within me, something mysterious were 
happening, for which I want to find the right 
word. ... I did not sleep all night ; my head 
aches. What 's the good of writing ? He went 
away so quickly to-day and I wanted to talk 
to him. . . . He almost seems to avoid me. 
Yes, he avoids me. 

'. . . The word is found, light has dawned 
on me ! My God, have pity on me. . . , J 
love him!' 



141 



XVII 

On the very day on which Elena had written 
this last fatal line in her diary, Insarov was 
sitting in Bersenyev's room, and Bersenyev was 
standing before him with a look of perplexity 
on his face. Insarov had just announced his 
intention of returning to Moscow the next day. 

1 Upon my word ! ' cried Bersenyev. ' Why, 
the finest part of the summer is just beginning. 
What will you do in Moscow ? What a sudden 
decision ! Or have you had news of some 
sort ? ' 

* I have had no news/ replied Insarov; 'but 
on thinking things over, I find I cannot stop 
here.' 

1 How can that be ? ' 

' Andrei Petrovitch/ said Insarov, * be so 
kind . . . don't insist, please, I am very sorry 
myself to be leaving you, but it can't be 
helped.' 

Bersenyev looked at him intently. 

' I know,' he said at last, ' there 's no per- 
142 



ON THE EVE 

suading you. And so, it's a settled matter, 
is it ? 

1 Absolutely settled/ replied Insarov, getting 
up and going away. 

Bersenyev walked about the room, then took 
his hat and set off for the Stahovs. 

1 You have something to tell me/ Elena said 
to him, directly they were left alone, 

1 Yes, how did you guess ? ' 

1 Never mind ; tell me what it is/ 

Bersenyev told her of Insarov's intention. 

Elena turned white. 

1 What does it mean ? ' she articulated with 
effort. 

'You know/ observed Bersenyev, 'Dmitri 
Nikanorovitch does not care to give reasons for 
his actions. But I think ... let us sit down, 
Elena Nikolaevna, you don't seem very well. 
... I fancy I can guess what is the real cause 
of this sudden departure.' 

'What what cause?' repeated Elena, and 
unconsciously she gripped tightly Bersenyev's 
hand in her chill fingers. 

1 You see/ began Bersenyev, with a pathetic 
smile, ' how can I explain to you ? I must go 
back to last spring, to the time when I began 
to be more intimate with Insarov. I used to 
meet him then at the house of a relative, who 
had a daughter, a very pretty girl. I thought 
143 



ON THE EVE 

that Insarov cared for her, and I told him so. 
He laughed, and answered that I was mistaken, 
that he was quite heart-whole, but if anything 
of that sort did happen to him, he should run 
away directly, as he did not want, in his own 
words, for the sake of personal feeling, to be 
false to his cause and his duty. " I am a Bul- 
garian," he said, " and I have no need of a 
Russian love * 

1 Well so now you ' whispered Elena. 

She involuntarily turned away her head, like a 
man expecting a blow, but she still held the 
hand she had clutched. 

'I think/ he said, and his own voice sank, 
'I think that what I fancied then has really 
happened now.' 

1 That is you think don't torture me ! ' 
broke suddenly from Elena. 

' I think/ Bersenyev continued hurriedly, 
'that Insarov is in love now with a Russian 
girl, and he is resolved to go, according to his 
word.' 

Elena clasped his hand still tighter, and her 
head drooped still lower, as if she would hide 
from other eyes the flush of shame which sud- 
denly blazed over her face and neck. 

'Andrei Petrovitch, you are kind as an 
angel/ she said, 'but will he come to say good- 
bye ?' 

144 



ON THE EVE 

' Yes, I imagine so ; he will be sure to come 
He wouldn't like to go away ' 

* Tell him, tell him ' 

But here the poor girl broke down ; tears 
rushed streaming from her eyes, and she ran 
out of the room. 

1 So that 's how she loves him,' thought Ber- 
senyev, as he walked slowly home. ' I didn't 
expect that ; I didn't think she felt so strongly. 
I am kind, she says : ' he pursued his reflections : 
... * Who can tell what feelings, what impulse 
drove me to tell Elena all that ? It was not 
kindness ; no, not kindness. It was all the 
accursed desire to make sure whether the 
dagger is really in the wound. I ought to be 
content. They love each other, and I have 
been of use to them. . . . The future go-between 
between science and the Russian public 
Shubin calls me ; it seems as though it had 
been decreed at my birth that I should be a 
go-between. But if I 'm mistaken ? No, I 'm 
not mistaken ' 

It was bitter for Andrei Petrovitch, and he 
could not turn his mind to Raumer. 

The next day at two o'clock Insarov arrived 
at the Stahovs'. As though by express design, 
there was a visitor in Anna Vassilyevna's 
drawing-room at the time, the wife of a neigh- 
bouring chief-priest, an excellent and worthy 
145 K 



ON THE EVE 

woman, though she had had a little unpleasant- 
ness with the police, because she thought fit, in 
the hottest part of the day, to bathe in a lake 
near the road, along which a certain dignified 
general's family used often to be passing. The 
presence of an outside person was at first even 
a relief to Elena, from whose face every trace of 
colour vanished, directly she heard Insarov's 
step ; but her heart sank at the thought that he 
might go without a word with her alone. He, 
too, seemed confused, and avoided meeting her 
eyes. ' Surely he will not go directly,' thought 
Elena. Insarov was, in fact, turning to take 
leave of Anna Vassilyevna ; Elena hastily 
rose and called him aside to the window. 
The priest's wife was surprised, and tried to 
turn round ; but she was so tightly laced that 
her stays creaked at every movement, and she 
stayed where she was. 

1 Listen,' said Elena hurriedly ; I know what 
you have come for ; Andrei Petrovitch told 
me of your intention, but I beg, I entreat you, 
do not say good-bye to us to-day, but come 
here to-morrow rather earlier, at eleven. I 
must have a few words with you.' 

Insarov bent his head without speaking. 

' I will not keep you. . . . You promise 
me?' 

Again Insarov bowed, but said nothing. 
146 



ON THE EVE 

'Lenotchka, come here,' said Anna Vassil- 
yevna, look, what a charming reticule.' 

1 1 worked it myself,' observed the priest's wife. 

Elena came away from the window. 

Insarov did not stay more than a quarter of 
an hour at the Stahovs*. Elena watched him 
secretly. He was restless and ill at ease. As 
before, he did not know where to look, and 
he went away strangely and suddenly; he 
seemed to vanish. 

Slowly passed that day for Elena ; still more 
slowly dragged on the long, long night. Elena 
sat on her bed, her arms clasping her knees, and 
her head laid on them ; then she walked to the 
window, pressed her burning forehead against 
the cold glass, and thought and thought, going 
over and over the same thoughts till she 
was exhausted. Her heart seemed turned 
to stone, she did not feel it, but the veins in 
her head throbbed painfully, her hair stifled 
her, and her lips were dry. ' He will come . . . 
he did not say good-bye to mamma ... he 
will not deceive me. . . Can Andrei Petrovitch 
have been right ? It cannot be. . . He didn't 
promise to come in words. . . Can I have parted 

from him for ever ? ' Those were the 

thoughts that never left her, literally never left 

her ; they did not come and come again ; they 

were for ever turning like a mist moving about 

147 



ON THE EVE 

in her brain. ' He loves me ! ' suddenly flashed 
through her, setting her whole nature on fire, 
and she gazed fixedly into the darkness ; a 
secret smile parted her lips, seen by none, 
but she quickly shook her head, and clasped 
her hands behind her neck, and again her 
former thought hung like a mist about her. 
Before morning she undressed and went to bed, 
but she could not sleep. The first fiery ray of 
sunlight fell upon her room. . . ' Oh, if he loves 
me ! ' she cried suddenly, and unabashed by the 
light shining on her, she opened wide her arms 
. . . She got up, dressed, and went down. No 
one in the house was awake yet. She went 
into the garden, but in the garden it was peace- 
ful, green, and fresh ; the birds chirped so con- 
fidingly, and the flowers peeped out so gaily 
that she could not bear it. ' Oh ! 5 she thought, 
if it is true, no blade of grass is happy as I. 
But is it true ? ' She went back to her room 
and, to kill time, she began changing her dress. 
But everything slipped out of her hands, and 
she was still sitting half-dressed before her 
looking - glass when she was summoned to 
morning tea. She went down ; her mother 
noticed her pallor, but only said : ' How 
interesting you are to-day,' and taking her in 
in a glance, she added : ' How well that dress 
suits you ; you should always put it on when 
148 



ON THE EVE 

you want to make an impression on any one.' 
Elena made no reply, and sat down in a 
corner. Meanwhile it struck nine o'clock ; 
there were only two hours now till eleven. 
Elena tried to read, then to sew, then to read 
again, then she vowed to herself to walk a hun- 
dred times up and down one alley, and paced 
it a hundred times ; then for a long time she 
watched Anna Vassilyevna laying out the cards 
for patience . . . and looked at the clock ; 
it was not yet ten. Shubin came into the 
drawing-room. She tried to talk to him, and 
begged his pardon, what for she did not know 
herself. . . . Every word she uttered did not 
cost her effort exactly, but roused a kind of 
amazement in herself. Shubin bent over her. 
She expected ridicule, raised her eyes, and saw 
before her a sorrowful and sympathetic face. 
. . . She smiled at this face. Shubin, too, 
smiled at her without speaking, and gently left 
her. She tried to keep him, but could not at 
once remember what to call him. At last it 
struck eleven. Then she began to wait, to 
wait, and to listen. She could do nothing now ; 
she ceased even to think. Her heart was 
stirred into life again, and began beating louder 
and louder, and strange, to say, the time 
seemed flying by. A quarter of an hour passed, 
then half an hour ; a few minutes more, as 
149 



ON THE EVE 

Elena thought, had passed, when suddenly she 
started ; the clock had struck not twelve, but 
one. 'He is not coming; he is going away 
without saying good - bye.' . . . The blood 
rushed to her head with this thought. She felt 
that she was gasping for breath, that she was 
on the point of sobbing. . . . She ran to her 
own room, and fell with her face in her clasped 
hands on to the bed. 

For half an hour she lay motionless ; the 
tears flowed through her fingers on to the 
pillow. Suddenly she raised herself and sat up, 
something strange was passing in her, her face 
changed, her wet eyes grew dry and shining, her 
brows were bent and her lips compressed. An- 
other half-hour passed. Elena, for the last 
time, strained her ears to listen : was not that 
the familiar voice floating up to her ? She got 
up, put on her hat and gloves, threw a cape 
over her shoulders, and, slipping unnoticed out 
of the house, she went with swift steps along 
the road leading to Bersenyev's lodging. 



150 



XVIII 

Elena walked with her head bent and her 
eyes fixed straight before her. She feared 
nothing, she considered nothing ; she wanted 
to see Insarov once more. She went on, not 
noticing that the sun had long ago disappeared 
behind heavy black clouds, that the wind was 
roaring by gusts in the trees and blowing her 
dress about her, that the dust had suddenly 
risen and was flying in a cloud along the road. 
. . . Large drops of rain were falling, she did 
not even notice it ; but it fell faster and 
heavier, there were flashes of lightning and 
peals of thunder. Elena stood still looking 
round. . . . Fortunately for her, there was a 
little old broken-down chapel that had been 
built over a disused well not far from the 
place where she was overtaken by the storm. 
She ran to it and got under the low roof 
The rain fell in torrents ; the sky was com- 
pletely overcast. In dumb despair Elena 
stared at the thick network of fast-falling 
151 



ON THE EVE 

drops. Her last hope of getting a sight of 
Insarov was vanishing. A little old beggar- 
woman came into the chapel, shook her- 
self, said with a curtsy: 'Out of the rain, 
good lady,' and with many sighs and groans 
sat down on a ledge near the well. Elena 
put her hand into her pocket ; the old woman 
noticed this action and a light came into 
her face, yellow and wrinkled now, though 
once handsome. 'Thank you, dear gracious 
lady/ she was beginning. There happened to 
be no purse in Elena's pocket, but the old 
woman was still holding out her hand. 

1 1 have no money, grannie,' said Elena, * but 
here, take this, it will be of use for something.' 

She gave her her handkerchief. 

'O-oh, my pretty lady/ said the beggar, 
'what do you give your handkerchief to me 
for? For a wedding-present to my grand- 
child when she's married? God reward you 
for your goodness ! ' 

A peal of thunder was heard. 

'Lord Jesus Christ/ muttered the beggar- 
woman, and she crossed herself three times. 
1 Why, haven 't I seen you before/ she added 
after a brief pause. ' Didn't you give me alms 
in Christ's name ? ' 

Elena looked more attentively at the old 
woman and recognised her. 
152 



ON TH EVE 

'Yes, grannie,' she answered, 'wasn't it you 
asked me why I was so sorrowful ? ' 

'Yes, darling, yes. I fancied I knew you. 
And I think you've a heart-ache still. You 
seem in trouble now. Here's your handker- 
chief, too, wet from tears to be sure. Oh, 
you young people, you all have the same 
sorrow, a terrible woe it is ! ' 

1 What sorrow, grannie ? ' 

' Ah, my good young lady, you can't deceive 
an old woman like me. I know what your 
heart is heavy over; your sorrow's not an 
uncommon one. Sure, I have been young too, 
darling. I have been through that trouble 
too. Yes. And I'll tell you something, for 
your goodness to me ; you 've won a good 
man, not a light of love, you cling to him 
alone ; cling to him stronger than death. If 
it comes off, it comes off, if not, it 's in God's 
hands. Yes. Why are you wondering at me ? 
I 'm a fortune-teller. There, I '11 carry away 
your sorrow with your handkerchief. I '11 carry 
it away, and it 's over. See the rain 's less ; 
you wait a little longer. It's not the first 
time I 've been wet. Remember, darling ; you 
had a sorrow, the sorrow has flown, and there 's 
no memory of it. Good Lord, have mercy on us !' 

The beggar-woman got up from the edge 
of the well, went out of the chapel, and stole 
153 



ON THE EVE 

off on her way. Elena stared after her in 
bewilderment. 'What does this mean?' she 
murmured involuntarily. 

The rain grew less and less, the sun peeped 
out for an instant. Elena was just preparing 
to leave her shelter. . . . Suddenly, ten paces 
from the chapel, she saw Insarov. Wrapt in 
a cloak he was walking along the very road 
by which Elena had come ; he seemed to be 
hurrying home. 

She clasped the old rail of the steps for sup- 
port, and tried to call to him, but her voice 
failed her. . . Insarov had already passed by 
without raising his head. 

Dmitri Nikanorovitch ! ' she said at last. 
Insarov stopped abruptly, looked round. . . 

For the first minute he did not know Elena, 
but he went up to her at once. ' You ! you 
here ! ' he cried. 

She walked back in silence into the chapel. 
Insarov followed Elena. 'You here?' he re- 
peated. 

She was still silent, and only gazed upon 
him with a strange, slow, tender look. He 
dropped his eyes. 

1 You have come from our house ? ' she 
asked. 

* No . . . not from your house/ 

'No?* repeated Elena, and she tried to 
i54 



ON THE EVE 

smile. * Is that how you keep your promises ? 
I have been expecting you ever since the 
morning.' . 

1 1 made no promise yesterday, if you re- 
member, Elena Nikolaevna.' 

Again Elena faintly smiled, and she passed 
her hand over her face. Both face and hands 
were very white. 

You meant, then, to go away without saying 
good-bye to us ? ' 

'Yes,' replied Insarov in a surly, thick 
voice. 

'What? After our friendship, after the 
talks, after everything. . . . Then if I had not 
met you here by chance ' (Elena's voice began 
to break, and she paused an instant) . . . ' you 
would have gone away like that, without even 
shaking hands for the last time, and you would 
not have cared ? ' 

Insarov turned away. 'Elena Nikolaevnaj 
don't talk like that, please. I 'm not over 
happy as it is. Believe me, my decision has 
cost me great effort. If you knew ' 

' I don't want to know,' Elena interposed 
with dismay, ' why you are going. ... It seems 
it's necessary. It seems we must part You 
would not wound your friends without good 
reason. But, can friends part like this ? And 
we are friends, aren't we ? ' 
iS5 



ON THE EVE 

' No/ said Insarov. 

* What ? ' murmured Elena. Her cheeks were 
overspread with a faint flush. 

' That 's just why I am going away because 
we are not friends. Don't force me into saying 
what I don't want to say, and what I won't say/ 

'You used to be so open with me/ said 
Elena rather reproachfully. * Do you re- 
member ? ' 

' I used to be able to be open, then I had 
nothing to conceal ; but now * 

1 But now ? ' queried Elena. 

1 But now . . . now I must go away. Good- 
bye.' 

If, at that instant, Insarov had lifted his eyes 
to Elena, he would have seen that her face grew 
brighter and brighter as he frowned and looked 
gloomy ; but he kept his eyes obstinately fixed 
on the ground. 

1 Well, good-bye, Dmitri Nikanorovitch/ she 
began. * But at least, since we have met, give 
me your hand now.' 

Insarov was stretching out his hand. No, 
I can't even do that/ he said, and turned away 
again. 

'You can't?' 

' No, I can't. Good-bye/ And he moved 
away to the entrance of the chapel. 

'Wait a little longer/ said Elena. 'You 
156 



ON THE EVE 

seem afraid of me. But I am braver than you,' 
she added, a faint tremor passing suddenly- 
over her whole body. ' I can tell you . . . shall 
I ? . . . how it was you found me here ? Do 
you know where I was going ? ' 

Insarov looked in bewilderment at Elena. 

' I was going to you.' 

4 To me ? ' 

Elena hid her face. ' You mean to force me 
to say that I love you,' she whispered. ' There, 
I have said it.' 

1 Elena ! ' cried Insarov. 

She took his hands, looked at him, and fell 
on his breast 

He held her close to him, and said nothing. 
There was no need for him to tell her he loved 
her. From that cry alone, from the instant 
transformation of the whole man, from the 
heaving of the breast to which she clung so 
confidingly, from the touch of his finger tips in 
her hair, Elena could feel that she was loved. 
He did not speak, and she needed no words. 
1 He is here, he loves me . . . what need of 
more?' The peace of perfect bliss, the peace 
of the harbour reached after storm, of the end 
attained, that heavenly peace which gives 
significance and beauty even to death, filled 
her with its divine flood. She desired nothing, 
for she had gained all. 'O my brother, 
*S7 



ON THE EVE 

my friend, my dear one ! ' her lips were whis- 
pering, while she did not know whose was this 
heart, his or her own, which beat so blissfully, 
and melted against her bosom. 

He stood motionless, folding in his strong 
embrace the young life surrendered to him ; 
he felt against his heart this new, infinitely 
precious burden ; a passion of tenderness, of 
gratitude unutterable, was crumbling his hard 
will to dust, and tears unknown till now stood 
in his eyes. 

She did not weep ; she could only repeat, 
O my friend, my brother ! ' 

' So you will follow me everywhere ? ' he said 
to her, a quarter of an hour later, still enfold- 
ing her and keeping her close to him in his 
arms. 

I Everywhere, to the ends of the earth. 
Where you are, I will be.' 

'And you are not deceiving yourself, you 
know your parents will never consent to our 
marriage ? ' 

I I don't deceive myself; I know that. 1 
'You know that I 'm poor almost a beggar.' 
1 1 know.' 

' That I 'm not a Russian, that it won't be my 
fate to live in Russia, that you will have to 
break all your ties with your country, with 
your people/ 

158 



ON THE EVE 

1 1 know, I know.' 

* Do you know, too, that I have given myself 
up to a difficult, thankless cause, that I . . . 
that we shall have to expose ourselves not to 
dangers only, but to privation, humiliation, 
perhaps ' 

* I know, I know all I love you ' 

* That you will have to give up all you are 
accustomed to, that out there alone among 
strangers, you will be forced perhaps to 
work ' 

She laid her hand on his lips. c I love you, 
my dear one.' 

He began hotly kissing her slender, rosy 
hand. Elena did not draw it away from his 
lips, and with a kind of childish delight, with 
smiling curiosity, watched how he covered with 
kisses, first the palm, then the ringers. . . . 

All at once she blushed and hid her face 
upon his breast. 

He lifted her head tenderly and looked 
steadily into her eyes. Welcome, then, my 
wife, before God and men ! ' 



'59 



XIX 

An hour later, Elena, with her hat in one 
hand, her cape in the other, walked slowly into 
the drawing-room of the villa. Her hair was 
in slight disorder ; on each cheek was to be 
seen a small bright spot of colour, the 
smile would not leave her lips, her eyes 
were nearly shutting and half hidden under 
the lids ; they, too, were smiling. She 
could scarcely move for weariness, and this 
weariness was pleasant to her ; everything, 
indeed, was pleasant to her. Everything 
seemed sweet and friendly to her. Uvar 
Ivanovitch was sitting at the window ; she 
went up to him, laid her hand on his shoulder, 
stretched a little, and involuntarily, as it seemed, 
she laughed. 

'What is it?' he inquired, astonished. 

She did not know what to say. She felt 
inclined to kiss Uvar Ivanovitch. 

* How he splashed ! ' she explained at last. 

But Uvar Ivanovitch did not stir a muscle, 
160 



ON THE EVE 

and continued to look with amazement at 
Elena, She dropped her hat and cape on to him. 

1 Dear Uvar Ivanovitch,' she said, ' I am 
sleepy and tired/ and again she laughed and 
sank into a low chair near him. 

* H'm, ' grunted Uvar Ivanovitch, flourishing 
his fingers, then you ought yes ' 

Elena was looking round her and thinking, 
1 From all this I soon must part . . . and strange 
I have no dread, no doubt, no regret. . . . No, 
I am sorry for mamma.' Then the little chapel 
rose again before her mind, again her voice 
was echoing in it, and she felt his arms about 
her. Joyously, though faintly, her heart 
fluttered ; weighed down by the languor of 
happiness. The old beggar-woman recurred 
to her mind. ' She did really bear away my 
sorrow,' she thought. ' Oh, how happy I am ! 
how undeservedly ! how soon ! ' If she had let 
herself go in the least she would have melted 
into sweet, endless tears. She could only 
restrain them by laughing. Whatever attitude 
she fell into seemed to her the easiest, most 
comfortable possible ; she felt as if she were 
being rocked to sleep. All her movements 
were slow and soft ; what had become of her 
awkwardness, her haste ? Zoya came in ; Elena 
decided that she had never seen a more 
charming little face ; Anna Vassilyevna came 
161 L 



ON THE EVE 

in ; Elena felt a pang but with what tender- 
ness she embraced her mother and kissed her 
on the forehead near the hair, already slightly 
grey ! Then she went away to her own room ; 
how everything smiled upon her there ! With 
what a sense of shamefaced triumph and tran- 
quillity she sat down on her bed the very 
bed on which, only three hours ago, she had 
spent such bitter moments ! ' And yet, even 
then, I knew he loved me,' she thought, ' even 
before . . . Ah, no ! it 's a sin. You are my 
wife,' she whispered, hiding her face in her 
hands and falling on her knees. 

Towards the evening, she grew more thought- 
ful. Sadness came upon her at the thought that 
she would not soon see Insarov. He could 
not without awakening suspicion remain at Ber- 
senyev's, and so this was what he and Elena had 
resolved on. Insarov was to return to Moscow 
and to come over to visit them twice before 
the autumn ; on her side she promised to write 
him letters, and, if it were possible, to arrange 
a meeting with him somewhere near Kuntsov. 
She went down to the drawing-room to tea, and 
found there all the household and Shubin, who 
looked at her sharply directly she came in ; she 
tried to talk to him in a friendly way as of old, 
but she dreaded his penetration, she was afraid 
of herself. She felt sure that there was good 
162 



ON THE EVE 

reason for his having left her alone for more 
than a fortnight. Soon Bersenyev arrived, 
and gave Insarov's respects to Anna Vassil- 
yevna with an apology for having gone back 
to Moscow without calling to take leave of her. 
Insarov's name was for the first time dur- 
ing the day pronounced before Elena. She 
felt that she reddened ; she realised at the 
same time that she ought to express regret 
at the sudden departure of such a pleasant 
acquaintance ; but she could not force herself to 
hypocrisy, and continued to sit without stirring 
or speaking, while Anna Vassilyevna sighed 
and lamented. Elena tried to keep near Ber- 
senyev ; she was not afraid of him, though he 
even knew part of her secret ; she was safe 
under his wing from Shubin, who still persisted 
in staring at her not mockingly but atten- 
tively. Bersenyev, too, was thrown into per- 
plexity during the evening : he had expected 
to see Elena more gloomy. Happily for her, 
an argument sprang up about art between him 
and Shubin ; she moved apart and heard their 
voices as it were through a dream. By de- 
grees, not only they, but the whole room, every- 
thing surrounding her, seemed like a dream 
everything : the samovar on the table, and Uvar 
I vanovitch's short waistcoat, and Zoya's polished 
finger-nails, and the portrait in oils of the 
163 



ON THE EVE 

Grand Duke Constantine Pavlovitch on the 
wall ; everything retreated, everything was 
wrapped in mist, everything ceased to exist. 
Only she felt sorry for them all. 'What are 
they living for ? ' she thought. 

'Are you sleepy, Lenotchka?' her mother 
asked her. She did not hear the question. 

1 A half untrue insinuation, do you say ? * 
These words, sharply uttered by Shubin, 
suddenly awakened Elena's attention. ' Why/ 
he continued, ' the whole sting lies in that A 
true insinuation makes one wretched that's 
unchristian and to an untrue insinuation a man 
is indifferent that's stupid, but at a half true 
one he feels vexed and impatient. For instance, 
if I say that Elena Nikolaevna is in love with 
one of us, what sort of insinuation would that 
be, eh?' 

' Ah, Monsieur Paul,' said Elena, ' I should 
like to show myself vexed, but really I can't. I 
am so tired. 

' Why don't you go to bed ? ' observed Anna 
Vassilyevna, who was always drowsy in the 
evening herself, and consequently always eager 
to send the others to bed. ' Say good-night to 
me, and go in God's name ; Andrei Petrovitch 
will excuse you.' 

Elena kissed her mother, bowed to all and 
went away. Shubin accompanied her to the 
164 



ON THE EVE 

door. ' Elena Nikolaevna,' he whispered to her 
in the doorway, 'you trample on Monsieur 
Paul, you mercilessly walk over him, but 
Monsieur Paul blesses you and your little feet, 
and the slippers on your little feet, and the 
soles of your little slippers.' 

Elena shrugged her shoulders, reluctantly 
held out her hand to him not the one Insa- 
rov had kissed and going up to her room, at 
once undressed, got into bed, and fell asleep. 
She slept a deep, unstirring sleep, as even 
children rarely sleep the sleep of a child 
convalescent after sickness, when its mother 
sits near its cradle and watches it, and listens 
to its breathing. 



*C* 



XX 



Come to my room for a minute,' Shubin said 
to Bersenyev, directly the latter had taken 
leave of Anna Vassilyevna : * I have something 
to show you.' 

Bersenyev followed him to his attic. He 
was surprised to see a number of studies, 
statuettes, and busts, covered with damp cloths, 
set about in all the corners of the room. 

* Well I see you have been at work in earnest,' 
he observed to Shubin. 

1 One must do something,' he answered. ( If 
one thing doesn't do, one must try another. 
However, like a true Corsican, I am more con- 
cerned with revenge than with pure art. Trema y 
Bisanzia ! ' 

I don't understand you,' said Bersenyev. 

'Well, wait a minute. Deign to look this 
way, gracious friend and benefactor, my ven- 
geance number one.' 

Shubin uncovered one figure, and Bersenyev 
saw a capital bust of Insarov, an excellent like- 
166 



ON THE EVE 

ness. The features of the face had been cor- 
rectly caught by Shubin to the minutest detail, 
and he had given him a fine expression, honest, 
generous, and bold. 

Bersenyev went into raptures over it. 

' That 's simply exquisite ! ' he cried. ' I 
congratulate you. You must send it to the 
exhibition ! Why do you call that magnificent 
work your vengeance ? ' 

f Because, sir, I intended to offer this magni- 
ficent work as you call it to Elena Nikolaevna 
on her name day. Do you see the allegory? 
We are not blind, we see what goes on about 
us, but we are gentlemen, my dear sir, and we 
take our revenge like gentlemen. . . . But here,' 
added Shubin, uncovering another figure, ' as 
the artist according to modern aesthetic prin- 
ciples enjoys the enviable privilege of em- 
bodying in himself every sort of baseness which 
he can turn into a gem of creative art, we in the 
production of this gem, number two, have taken 
vengeance not as gentlemen, but simply en 
canaille! 

He deftly drew off the cloth, and displayed 
to Bersenyev's eyes a statuette in Dantan's 
style, also of Insarov. Anything cleverer 
and more spiteful could not be imagined. 
The young Bulgarian was represented asj 
a ram standing on his hind-legs, butting. 
167 



ON THE EVE 

forward with his horns. Dull solemnity 
and aggressiveness, obstinacy, clumsiness and 
narrowness were simply printed on the visage 
of the 'sire of the woolly flock/ and yet the 
likeness to Insarov was so striking that Bersen- 
yev could not help laughing. 

1 Eh ? is it amusing ? ' said Shubin. ' Do you 
recognise the hero ? Do you advise me to send 
it too to the exhibition ? That, my dear fellow, I 
intend as a present for myself on my own name 
day. . . . Your honour will permit me to play 
the fool.' 

And Shubin gave three little leaps, kicking 
himself behind with his heels. 

Bersenyev picked up the cloth off the floor 
and threw it over the statuette. 

1 Ah, you, magnanimous ' began Shubin. 
1 Who the devil was it in history was so particu- 
larly magnanimous ? Well, never mind ! And 
now,' he continued, with melancholy triumph, un- 
covering a third rather large mass of clay, ' you 
shall behold something which will show you the 
humility and discernment of your friend. You 
will realise that he, like a true artist again, 
feels the need and the use of self-castigation. 
Behold ! ' 

The cloth was lifted and Bersenyev saw two 
heads, modelled side by side and close as 
though growing together. . . . He did not at 
1 68 



ON THE EVE 

once know what was the subject, but looking 
closer, he recognised in one of them Annushka, 
in the other Shubin himself. They were, how- 
ever, rather caricatures than portraits. Annu- 
shka was represented as a handsome fat girl 
with a low forehead, eyes lost in layers of 
fat, and a saucily turned-up nose. Her thick 
lips had an insolent curve ; her whole face 
expressed sensuality, carelessness, and bold- 
ness, not without goodnature. Himself Shubin 
had modelled as a lean emaciated rake, with 
sunken cheeks, his thin hair hanging in weak 
wisps about his face, a meaningless expression 
in his dim eyes, and his nose sharp and thin as 
a dead man's. 

Bersenyev turned away with disgust. 'A 
nice pair, aren't they, my dear fellow ? ' said 
Shubin ; * won't you graciously compose a suit- 
able title ? For the first two I have already 
thought of titles. On the bust shall be in- 
scribed : "A hero resolving to liberate his' 
country." On the statuette: "Look out, 
sausage-eating Germans ! " And for this work 
what do you think of " The future of the artist 
Pavel Yakovlitch Shubin ? " Will that do ? ' 

'Leave off,' replied Bersenyev. 'Was it 

worth while to waste your time on such a ' 

He could not at once fix on a suitable word. 

1 Disgusting thing, you mean ? No, my dear 
169 



ON THE EVE 

fellow, excuse me, if anything ought to go to 
the exhibition, it 's that group.' 

' It 's simply disgusting,' repeated Bersenyev. 

I And besides, it 's nonsense. You have abso- 
lutely no such degrading tendencies to which, 
unhappily, our artists have such a frequent 
bent. You have simply libelled yourself.' 

1 Do you think so ? ' said Shubin gloomily. 

I I have none of them, and if they come upon 
me, the fault is all one person's. Do you 
know,' he added, tragically knitting his brows, 

that I have been trying drinking ? ' 

1 Nonsense ? ' 

1 Yes, I have, by God,' rejoined Shubin ; and 
suddenly grinning and brightening, but I 
didn't like it, my dear boy, the stuff sticks in my 
throat, and my head afterwards is a perfect 
drum. The great Lushtchihin himself Har- 
lampy Lushtchihin the greatest drunkard in 
Moscow, and a Great Russian drunkard too, 
declared there was nothing to be made of me. 
In his words, the bottle does not speak to 
me.' 

Bersenyev was just going to knock the group 
over but Shubin stopped him. 

* That '11 do, my dear boy, don't smash it ; it 
will serve as a lesson, a scare-crow.' 

Bersenyev laughed. 

* If that 's what it is, I will spare your scare- 

170 



ON THE EVE 

crow then,' he said. And now, 'Long live eternal 
true art ! ' 

Long live true art ! ' put in Shubin. ' By art 
the good is better and the bad is not all loss ! ' 

The friends shook hands warmly and parted 



171 



XXI 

Elena's first sensation on awakening was one 
of happy consternation. 'Is it possible? Is it 
possible?' she asked herself, and her heart 
grew faint with happiness. Recollections came 
rushing on her . . . she was overwhelmed by 
them. Then again she was enfolded by the 
blissful peace of triumph. But in the course of 
the morning, Elena gradually became possessed 
by a spirit of unrest, and for the remainder of 
the day she felt listless and weary. It was 
true she knew now what she wanted, but that 
made it no easier for her. That never-to-be 
forgotten meeting had cast her for ever out of 
the old groove ; she was no longer at the same 
standpoint, she was far away, and yet every- 
thing went on about her in its accustomed 
order, everything pursued its own course as 
though nothing were changed ; the old life 
moved on its old way, reckoning on Elena's 
interest and co-operation as of old. She tried 
to begin a letter to Insarov, but that too was 
172 



ON THE EVE 

a failure ; the words came on to paper 
either lifeless or false. Her diary she had put 
an end to by drawing a thick stroke under 
the last line. That was the past, and every 
thought, all her soul, was turned now to the 
future. Her heart was heavy. To sit with her 
mother who suspected nothing, to listen to her, 
answer her and talk to her, seemed to Elena 
something wicked ; she felt the presence of a 
kind of falseness in her, she suffered though she 
had nothing to blush for; more than once an 
almost irresistible desire sprang up in her heart 
to tell everything without reserve, whatever 
might come of it afterwards. 'Why, 5 she 
thought, 'did not Dmitri take me away then, 
from that little chapel, wherever he wanted to 
go? Didn't he tell me I was his wife before 
God ? What am I here for ? ' She suddenly 
began to feel shy of every one, even of Uvar 
Ivanovitch, who was flourishing his fingers in 
more perplexity than ever. Now everything 
about her seemed neither sweet nor friendly, 
nor even a dream, but, like a nightmare, lay, an 
immovable dead load, on her heart ; seeming to 
reproach her and be indignant with her, and 
not to care to know about her. . . . ' You are 
ours in spite of everything,' she seemed to hear. 
Even her poor pets, her ill-used birds and 
animals looked at her so at least she fancied 



ON THE EVE 

with suspicion and hostility. She felt con- 
science-stricken and ashamed of her feelings. 
1 This is my home after all,' she thought, ' my 
family, my country.' . . . ' No, it 's no longer 
your country, nor your family,' another voice 
affirmed within her. Terror was overmastering 
her, and she was vexed with her own feebleness. 
The trial was only beginning and she was 
losing patience already. . . Was this what 
she had promised ? 

She did not soon gain control of herself. 
But a week passed and then another. . . . 
Elena became a little calmer, and grew used to 
her new position. She wrote two little notes 
to Insarov, and carried them herself to the 
post : she could not for anything through 
shame and through pride have brought her- 
self to confide in a maid. She was already 
beginning to expect him in person. . . . But 
instead of Insarov, one fine morning Nikolai 
Artemyevitch made his appearance. 



174 



XXII 

No one in the house of the retired lieutenant of 
guards, Stahov, had ever seen him so sour, and 
at the same time so self-confident and important 
as on that day. He walked into the drawing- 
room in his overcoat and hat, with long deliberate 
stride, stamping with his heels ; he approached 
the looking-glass and took a long look at him- 
self, shaking his head and biting his lips with 
imperturbable severity. Anna Vassilyevna met 
him with obvious agitation and secret delight 
(she never met him otherwise) ; he did not even 
take off his hat, nor greet her, and in silence 
gave Elena his doe-skin glove to kiss. Anna 
Vassilyevna began questioning him about the 
progress of his cure ; he made her no reply. Uvar 
Ivanovitch made his appearance ; he glanced at 
him and said, * bah ! ' He usually behaved 
coldly and haughtily to Uvar Ivanovitch, though 
he acknowledged in him ' traces of the true 
Stahov blood.' Almost all Russian families of 
the nobility are convinced, as is well known, of 
175 



ON THE EVE 

the existence of exceptional hereditary charac- 
teristics, peculiar to them alone ; we have more 
than once heard discussions 'among ourselves' 
of 'the Podsalaskinsky ' noses, and the ' Pere- 
preyevsky ' necks. Zoya came in and sat down 
facing Nikolai Artemyevitch. He grunted, 
sank into an armchair, asked for coffee, and only 
then took off his hat. Coffee was brought him ; 
he drank a cup, and looking at everybody in 
turn, he growled between his teeth, ' Sortez, sil 
vous plaitl and turning to his wife he added, * et 
vous, madame, restez,je vans prie! 

They all left the room, except Anna Vassil- 
yevna. Her head was trembling with agitation. 
The solemnity of Nikolai Artemyevitch's pre- 
parations impressed her. She was expecting 
something extraordinary. 

1 What is it ? ' she cried, directly the door was 
closed. 

Nikolai Artemyevitch flung an indifferent 
glance at Anna Vassilyevna. 

' Nothing special ; what a way you have of 
assuming the air of a victim at once ! ' he began, 
quite needlessly dropping the corners of his 
mouth at every word. 'I only want to fore- 
warn you that we shall have a new guest dining 
here to-day.' 

'Who is it?' 

1 Kurnatovsky, Yegor Andreyevitch. You 
176 



ON THE EVE 

don't know him. The head secretary in the 
senate.' 

1 He is to dine with us to-day ? ' 

'Yes.' 

* And was it only to tell me this that you 
made every one go away ? ' 

Nikolai Artemyevitch again flung a glance 
this time one of irony at Anna Vassilyevna. 

* Does that surprise you ? Defer your sur- 
prise a little.' 

He ceased speaking. Anna Vassilyevna too 
was silent for a little time. 

' 1 could have wished ' she was beginning. 

' I know you have always looked on me as an 
"immoral" man/ began Nikolai Artemyevitch 
suddenly. 

1 1 ! ' muttered Anna Vassilyevna, astounded. 

4 And very likely you are right. I don 't wish 
to deny that I have in fact sometimes given you 
just grounds for dissatisfaction ' (" my greys ! " 
flashed through Anna Vassilyevna's head), 
* though you must yourself allow, that in the 
condition, as you are aware, of your constitu- 
tion ' 

'And I make no complaint against you, 
Nikolai Artemyevitch.' 

' Cest possible. In any case, I have no inten- 
tion of justifying myself. Time will justify me. 
But I regard it as my duty to prove to you that 
177 m 



ON THE EVE 

I understand my duties, and know how to care 
for for the welfare of the family entrusted 
entrusted to me.' 

'What's the meaning of all this?' Anna 
Vassilyevna was thinking. (She could not 
guess that the preceding evening at the English 
club a discussion had arisen in a corner of the 
smoking-room as to the incapacity of Russians 
to make speeches. ' Which of us can speak ? 
Mention any one ! ' one of the disputants had 
exclaimed. 'Well, Stahov, for instance, 5 had 
answered the other, pointing to Nikolai Artem- 
yevitch, who stood up on the spot almost 
squealing with delight.) 

' For instance/ pursued Nikolai Artemyevitch, 
' my daughter Elena. Don't you consider that 
the time has come for her to take a decisive step 
along the path to be married, I mean to say. 
All these intellectual and philanthropic pursuits 
are all very well, but only up to a certain point, 
up to a certain age. It 's time for her to drop 
her mistiness, to get out of the society of all 
these artists, scholars, and Montenegrins, and 
do like everybody else.' 

' How am I to understand you ? ' asked Anna 
Vassilyevna. 

'Well, if you will kindly listen,' answered 
Nikolai Artemyevitch, still with the same drop- 
ping of the corners of his lips, ' I will tell you 
178 



ON THE EVE 

plainly, without beating about the bush. I have 
made acquaintance, I have become intimate 
with this young man, Mr. Kurnatovsky, in the 
hope of having him for a son-in-law. I venture 
to think that when you see him, you will not 
accuse me of partiality or precipitate judgment.' 
(Nikolai Artemyevitch was admiring his own 
eloquence as he talked.) ' Of excellent educa- 
tion educated in the highest legal college 
excellent manners, thirty-three years old, and 
upper-secretary, a councillor, and a Stanislas 
cross on his neck. You, I hope, will do me 
the justice to allow that I do not belong to the 
number of those peres de famille who are mad 
for position ; but you yourself told me that 
Elena Nikolaevna likes practical business men ; 
Yegor Andreyevitch is in the first place a busi- 
ness man ; now on the other side, my daughter 
has a weakness for generous actions ; so let me 
tell you that Yegor Andreyevitch, directly he 
had attained the possibility you understand 
me the possibility of living without privation 
on his salary, at once gave up the yearly in- 
come assigned him by his father, for the benefit 
of his brothers.' 

' Who is his father ? ' inquired Anna Vassil- 
yevna. 

'His father? His father is a man well- 
known in his own line, of the highest moral 
179 



ON THE EVE 

character, un vrai stoicien, a retired major, I 
think, overseer of all the estates of the Count 
B ' 

1 Ah ! ' observed Anna Vassilyevna. 

c Ah! why ah?' interposed Nikolai Artem- 
yevitch. Can you be infected with prejudice?' 

' Why, I said nothing ' Anna Vassilyevna 

was beginning. 

1 No, you said, ah ! However that may be, I 
have thought it well to acquaint you with my 
way of thinking ; and I venture to think I 
venture to hope Mr. Kurnatovsky will be re- 
ceived d bras ouverts. He is no Montenegrin 
vagrant.' 

1 Of course ; I need only call Vanka the cook 
and order a few extra dishes.' 

'You are aware that I will not enter into 
that,' said Nikolai Artemyevitch ; and he got 
up, put on his hat, and whistling (he had heard 
some one say that whistling was only permis- 
sible in a country villa and a riding court) 
went out for a stroll in the garden. Shubin 
watched him out of the little window of his 
lodge, and in silence put out his tongue at 
him. 

At ten minutes to four, a hackney-carriage 

drove up to the steps of the Stahovs's villa, and 

a man, still young, of prepossessing appearance, 

simply and elegantly dressed, stepped out of it 

180 



ON THE EVE 

and sent up his name. This was Yegor 
Andreyevitch Kurnatovsky. 

This was what, among other things, Elena 
wrote next day to Insarov : 

'Congratulate me, dear Dmitri. I have a 
suitor. He dined with us yesterday : papa 
made his acquaintance at the English club, I 
fancy, and invited him. Of course he did not 
come yesterday as a suitor. But good mamma, 
to whom papa had made known his hopes, 
whispered in my ear what this guest was. His 
name is Yegor Andreyevitch Kurnatovsky; he 
is upper-secretary to the Senate. I will first de- 
scribe to you his appearance. He is of medium 
height, shorter than you, and a good figure ; 
his features are regular, he is close-cropped, 
and wears large whiskers. His eyes are 
rather small (like yours), brown, and quick ; 
he has a flat wide mouth ; in his eyes and on 
his lips there is a perpetual sort of official 
smile ; it seems to be always on duty there. 
He behaves very simply and speaks pre- 
cisely, and everything about him is precise ; 
he moves, laughs, and eats as though he were 
doing a duty. " How carefully she has studied 
him ! " you are thinking, perhaps, at this 
minute. Yes ; so as to be able to describe him 
to you. And besides, who wouldn't study her 
suitor ! There 's something of iron in him 

iol 



ON THE EVE 

and dull and empty at the same time and 
honest ; they say he is really very honest. 
You, too, are made of iron ; but not like this 
man. At dinner he sat next me, and facing us 
sat Shubin. At first the conversation turned 
on commercial undertakings ; they say he is 
very clever in business matters, and was almost 
throwing up his government post to take 
charge of a large manufacturing business. 
Pity he didn't do it ! Then Shubin began to 
talk about the theatre ; Mr. Kurnatovsky de- 
clared and I must confess without false 
modesty, that he has no ideas about art. That 
reminded me of you but I thought ; no, 
Dmitri and I are ignorant of art in a very 
different way though. This man seemed to 
mean, *I know nothing of it, and it's quite 
superfluous, still it may be admitted in a well- 
ordered state.' He seems, however, to think 
very little about Petersburg and comme ilfaut : 
he once even called himself one of the pro- 
letariat. ' We are working people,' he said ; I 
thought if Dmitri had said that, I shouldn't 
have liked it ; but he may talk about himself, 
he may boast if he likes. With me he is very 
attentive ; but I kept feeling that a very, very 
condescending superior was talking with me. 
When he means to praise any one, he says So- 
and-so is a man of principle that's his favourite 
182 



ON THE EVE 

word. He seems to be self-confident, hard- 
working, capable of self-sacrifice (you see, I am 
impartial), that 's to say, of sacrificing his own 
interest ; but he is a great despot It would 
be woeful to fall into his power ! At dinner 
they began talking about bribes. 

I * I know," he said, " that in many cases the 
man who accepts a bribe is not to blame ; he 
cannot do otherwise. Still, if he is found out, 
he must be punished without mercy." 

I I cried, " Punish an innocent man ! " 
'" Yes ; for the sake of principle." 
'"What principle?" asked Shubin. Kur- 

natovsky seemed annoyed or surprised, and 
said, " That needs no explanation." 

' Papa, who seems to worship him, put in " of 
course not" ; and to my vexation the conversa- 
tion stopped there. In the evening Bersenyev 
came and got into a terrific argument with 
him. I have never seen our good Andrei 
Petrovitch so excited. Mr. Kurnatovsky did 
not at all deny the utility of science, universities, 
and so on, but still I understood Andrei Petro- 
vitch's indignation. The man looks at it all 
as a sort of gymnastics. Shubin came up to 
me after dinner, and said, "This fellow here 
and some one else (he can never bring himself 
to utter your name) are both practical men, 
but see what a difference ; there 's the real living 
183 



ON THE EVE 

ideal given to life ; and here there 's not even a 
feeling of duty, simply official honesty and 
activity without anything inside it." Shubin is 
clever, and I remembered his words to tell you ; 
but to my mind there is nothing in common 
between you. You have faith, and he has not ; 
for a man cannot have faith in himself only. 

1 He did not go away till late ; but mamma 
had time to inform me that he was pleased 
with me, and papa is in ecstasies. Did he say, 
I wonder, that I was a woman of principle ? I 
was almost telling mamma that I was very 
sorry, but I had a husband already. Why is it 
papa dislikes you so ? Mamma, we could soon 
manage to bring round. 

1 Oh, my dear one! I have described this gentle- 
man in such detail to deaden my heartache. 1 
don't live without you ; I am constantly seeing 
you, hearing you. I look forward to seeing 
you only not at our house, as you intended 
fancy how wretched and ill at ease we should 
be! but you know where 1 wrote to you in 
that wood. Oh, my dear one 1 How I love you ! ' 



184 



XXIII 

THREE weeks after Kurnatovsky's first visit, 
Anna Vassilyevna, to Elena's great delight, re- 
turned to Moscow, to her large wooden house 
near Prechistenka ; a house with columns, white 
lyres and wreaths over every window, with 
an attic, offices, a palisade, a huge green court, a 
well in the court and a dog's kennel near the 
well. Anna Vassilyevna had never left her 
country villa so early, but this year with the 
first autumn chills her face swelled ; Nikolai 
Artemyevitch for his part, having finished his 
cure, began to want his wife ; besides, Augus- 
tina Christianovna had gone away on a visit to 
her cousin in Revel ; a family of foreigners, 
known as ' living statues,' des poses plastiques, 
had come to Moscow, and the description of 
them in the Moscow Gazette had aroused Anna 
Vassilyevna's liveliest curiosity. In short, to 
stay longer at the villa seemed inconvenient, 
and even, in Nikolai Artemyevitch's words, in- 
compatible with the fulfilment of his 'cherished 
185 



ON THE EVE 

projects.' The last fortnight seemed very long 
to Elena. Kurnatovsky came over twice on 
Sundays; on other days he was busy. He 
came really to see Elena, but talked more 
to Zoya, who was much pleased with him. 
1 Das ist ein Mann! ' she thought to herself, as 
she looked at his full manly face and listened 
to his self-confident, condescending talk. To 
her mind, no one had such a wonderful voice, 
no one could pronounce so nicely, ' I had the 
hon-our,' or, ' I am most de-lighted.' Insarov 
did not come to the Stahovs, but Elena saw 
him once in secret in a little copse by the 
Moskva river, where she arranged to meet 
him. They hardly had time to say more than 
a few words to each other. Shubin returned 
to Moscow with Anna Vassilyevna ; Bersenyev, 
a few days later. 

Insarov was sitting in his room, and for the 
third time looking through the letters brought 
him from Bulgaria by hand ; they were afraid 
to send them by post. He was much disturbed 
by them. Events were developing rapidly in 
the East ; the occupation of the Principalities 
by Russian troops had thrown all men's minds 
into a ferment ; the storm was growing 
already could be felt the breath of approach- 
ing inevitable war. The fire was kindling all 
round, and no one could foresee how far it 
1 86 



ON THE EVE 

would go where it would stop. Old wrongs, 
long cherished hopes all were astir again. 
Insarov's heart throbbed eagerly ; his hopes 
too were being realised. 'But is it not too 
soon, will it not be in vain ? ' he thought, 
tightly clasping his hands. ' We are not ready, 
but so be it ! I must go.' 

Something rustled lightly at the door, it 
flew quickly open, and into the room ran 
Elena. 

Insarov, all in a tremor, rushed to her, 
fell on his knees before her, clasped her waist 
and pressed it close against his head. 

1 You didn't expect me ? ' she said, hardly 
able to draw her breath, she had run quickly up 
the stairs. ' Dear one ! dear one ! so this is 
where you live ? I Ve quickly found you. 
The daughter of your landlord conducted me. 
We arrived the day before yesterday. I meant 
to write to you, but I thought I had better 
come myself. I have come for a quarter of 
an hour. Get up, shut the door.' 

He got up, quickly shut the door, returned 
to her and took her by the hands. He could 
not speak ; he was choking with delight. She 
looked with a smile into his eyes . . . there 
was such rapture in them . . . she felt shy. 

'Stay/ she said, fondly taking her hand 
away from him, ' let me take off my hat* 
187 



ON THE EVE 

She untied the strings of her hat, flung it 
down, slipped the cape off her shoulders, tidied 
her hair, and sat down on the little old sofa. 
Insarov gazed at her, without stirring, like one 
enchanted. 

* Sit down/ she said, not lifting her eyes to 
him and motioning him to a place beside 
her. 

Insarov sat down, not on the sola, but on 
the floor at her feet. 

' Come, take off my gloves/ she said in an 
uncertain voice. She felt afraid. 

He began first to unbutton and then to 
draw off one glove ; he drew it half off and 
greedily pressed his lips to the slender, soft 
wrist, which was white under it. 

Elena shuddered, and would have pushed him 
back with the other hand ; he began kissing 
the other hand too. Elena drew it away, he 
threw back his head, she looked into his face, 
bent above him, and their lips touched. 

An instant passed . . . she broke away, got 
up, whispered ' No, no/ and went quickly up to 
the writing-table. 

1 am mistress here, you know, so you ought 
not to have any secrets from me/ she said, 
trying to seem at ease, and standing with her 
back to him. ' What a lot of papers I what 
are these letters ? ' 

1 88 



ON THE EVE 

Insarov knitted his brows. ' Those letters? 
he said, getting up, ' you can read them.' 

Elena turned them over in her hand. There 
are so many of them, and the writing is so fine, 
and I have to go directly ... let them be. 
They 're not from a rival, eh ? . . . and they 're 
not in Russian,' she added, turning over the 
thin sheets. 

Insarov came close to her and fondly 
touched her waist. She turned suddenly to 
him, smiled brightly at him and leant against 
his shoulder. 

* Those letters are from Bulgaria, Elena ; 
my friends write to me, they want me to 
come.' 

' Now ? To them ? ' 

'Yes . . . now, while there is still time, 
while it is still possible to come.' 

All at once she flung both arms round 
his neck, ' You will take me with you, 
yes?' 

He pressed her to his heart. ' O my sweet 
girl, O my heroine, how you said that! But 
isn't it wicked, isn't it mad for me, a homeless, 
solitary man, to drag you with me . . . and 
out there too ! ' 

She shut his mouth. . . . Sh or I shall be 
angry, and never come to see you again. Why 
isn't it all decided, all settled between us? 
189 



ON THE EVE 

Am I not your wife? Can a wife be parted 
from her husband ? ' 

'Wives don't go into war/ he said with a 
half-mournful smile. 

' Oh yes, when they can't stay behind, and I 
cannot stay here ? 

' Elena, my angel ! . . but think, I have, 
perhaps, to leave Moscow in a fortnight. I 
can't think of university lectures, or finishing 
my work.' 

' What ! ' interrupted Elena, ' you have to go 
soon ? If you like, I will stop at once this 
minute with you for ever, and not go home, 
shall I ? Shall we go at once ? ' 

Insarov clasped her in his arms with re- 
doubled warmth. 'May God so reward me 
then/ he cried, ' if I am doing wrong ! From 
to-day, we are one for ever ! ' 

1 Am I to stay ? ' asked Elena. 

4 No, my pure girl ; no, my treasure. You 
shall go back home to-day, only keep yourself 
in readiness. This is a matter we can't manage 
straight off; we must plan it out well. We 
want money, a passport ' 

! I have money/ put in Elena. * Eighty 
roubles.' 

'Well, that's not much/ observed Insarov; 
' but everything *s a help.' 

* But I can get more. I will borrow. I will 
190 



ON THE EVE 

ask mamma. - . . No, I won't ask mamma 
for any. . . . But I can sell my watch. ... I 
have earrings, too, and two bracelets . . . and 
lace.' 

1 Money 's not the chief difficulty, Elena ; 
the passport ; your passport, how about 
that?' 

1 Yes, how about it ? Is a passport absolutely 
necessary ? ' 

'Absolutely.' 

Elena laughed. What a queer idea I I 
remember when I was little ... a maid of ours 
ran away. She was caught, and forgiven, and 
lived with us a long while . . . but still every one 
used to call her Tatyana, the runaway. I never 
thought then that I too might perhaps be a 
runaway like her.' 

1 Elena, aren't you ashamed ? ' 

1 Why ? Of course it 's better to go with a 
passport. But if we can't ' 

1 We will settle all that later, later, wait a 
little,' said Insarov. Let me look about ; 
let me think a little. We will talk over 
everything together thoroughly. I too have 
money.' 

Elena pushed back the hair that fell over on 
his forehead. 

1 Dmitri ! how glorious it will be for us 
two to set off together ! ' 
191 



ON THE EVE 

'Yes,' said Insarov, 'but there, when we get 
there ' 

I Well ? ' put in Elena, ' and won't it be 
glorious to die together too ? but no, why should 
we die? We will live, we are young. How 
old are you ? Twenty-six ? ' 

' Yes, twenty-six.' 

'And I am twenty. There is plenty of time 
before us. Ah, you tried to run away from 
me ? You did not want a Russian's love, you 
Bulgarian ! Let me see you trying to escape 
from me now! What would have become of 
us, if I hadn't come to you then ! ' 

' Elena, you know what forced me to go 
away.' 

' I know ; you were in love, and you were 
afraid. But surely you must have suspected 
that you were loved ? ' 

I I swear on my honour, Elena, I didn't.' 
She gave him a quick unexpected kiss. 

'There, I love you for that too. And good- 
bye.' 

'You can't stop longer?' asked Insarov. 

' No, dearest. Do you think it 's easy for me 
to get out alone ? The quarter of an hour was 
over long ago.' She put on her cape and hat. 
' And you come to us to-morrow evening. No, 
the day after to-morrow. We shall be con- 
strained and dreary, but we can't help that ; at 
192 



ON THE EVE 

least we shall see each other. Good-bye. Let 
me go.' 

He embraced her for the last time. 'Ah, 
take care, you have broken my watch-chain. 
Oh, what a clumsy boy ! There, never mind. 
It's all the better. I will go to Kuznetsky 
bridge, and leave it to be mended. If I am asked, 
I can say I have been to Kuznetsky bridge/ 
She held the door-handle. 'By-the-way, I 
forgot to tell you, Monsieur Kurnatovsky will 
certainly make me an offer in a day or two. But 

the answer I shall make him will be this ' 

She put the thumb of her left hand to the tip 
of her nose and flourished the other fingers in 
the air. ' Good-bye till we see each other 
again. Now, I know the way . . . And don't 
lose any time.' 

Elena opened the door a little, listened, 
turned round to Insarov, nodded her head, 
and glided out of the room. 

For a minute Insarov stood before the closed 
door, and he too listened. The door downstairs 
into the court slammed. He went up to the 
sofa, sat down, and covered his eyes with his 
hands. Never before had anything like this 
happened to him. 'What have I done to 
deserve such love?' he thought. 'Is it a 
dream ? ' 

But the delicate scent of mignonette left by 
193 M 



ON THE EVE 

Elena in his poor dark little room told of her 
visit. And with it, it seemed that the air was 
still full of the notes of a young voice, and the 
sound of a light young tread, and the warmth 
and freshness of a young girlish body. 



194 



XXIV 

INSAROV decided to await more positive news, 
and began to make preparations for departure. 
The difficulty was a serious one. For him 
personally there were no obstacles. He had 
only to ask for a passport but how would it 
be with Elena ? To get her a passport in the 
legal way was impossible. Should he marry 
her secretly, and should they then go and 
present themselves to the parents ? . . . * They 
would let us go then,' he thought. - But if they 
did not? We would go all the same. But 
suppose they were to make a complaint . . . 
if . . . No, better try to get a passport some- 
how/ 

He decided to consult (of course mentioning 
no names) one of his acquaintances, an attorney, 
retired from practice, or perhaps struck off 
the rolls, an old and experienced hand at all 
sorts of clandestine business. This worthy 
person did not live near ; Insarov was a whole 
hour in getting to him in a very sorry droshky, 
195 



ON THE EVE 

and, to make matters worse, he did not 
find him at home ; and on his way back got 
soaked to the skin by a sudden downpour of 
rain. The next morning, in spite of a rather 
severe headache, Insarov set off a second time 
to call on the retired attorney. The retired 
attorney listened to him attentively, taking 
snuff from a snuff-box decorated with a picture 
of a full-bosomed nymph, and glancing 
stealthily at his visitor with his sly, and also 
snuff-coloured little eyes ; he heard him to the 
end, and then demanded 'greater definiteness 
in the statement of the facts of the case' ; and 
observing that Insarov was unwilling to launch 
into particulars (it was against the grain that 
he had come to him at all) he confined himself 
to the advice to provide himself above all 
things with 'the needful,' and asked him to 
come to him again, ' when you have,' he added, 
sniffing at the snuff in the open snuff-box, 
'augmented your confidence and decreased 
your diffidence ' (he talked with a broad accent). 
' A passport,' he added, as though to himself, 
' is a thing that can be arranged ; you go a 
journey, for instance; who's to tell whether 
you 're Marya Bredihin or Karolina Vogel- 
meier?' A feeling of nausea came over 
Insarov, but he thanked the attorney, and 
promised to come to him again in a day or two. 
196 



ON THE EVE 

The same evening he went to the Stahovs. 
Anna Vassilyevna met him cordially, re- 
proached him a little for having quite forgotten 
them, and, finding him pale, inquired especially 
after his health. Nikolai Artemyevitch did 
not say a single word to him ; he only stared 
at him with elaborately careless curiosity ; 
Shubin treated him coldly ; but Elena as- 
tounded him. She was expecting him ; she 
had put on for him the very dress she wore on 
the day of their first interview in the chapel ; 
but she welcomed him so calmly, and was so 
polite and carelessly gay, that no one looking 
at her could have believed that this girl's fate 
was already decided, and that it was only the 
secret consciousness of happy love that gave 
fire to her features, lightness and charm to all 
her gestures. She poured out tea in Zoya's 
place, jested, chattered ; she knew Shubin 
would be watching her, that Insarov was in- 
capable of wearing a mask, and incapable of 
appearing indifferent, and she had prepared 
herself beforehand. She was not mistaken ; 
Shubin never took his eyes off her, and 
Insarov was very silent and gloomy the whole 
evening. Elena was so happy that she even 
felt an inclination to tease him. 

' Oh, by the way/ she said to him suddenly, 
1 is your plan getting on at all ? ' 

107 



ON THE EVE 

Insarov was taken aback. 

' What plan ? ' he said. 

'Why, have you forgotten?' she rejoined, 
laughing in his face ; he alone could tell the 
meaning of that happy laugh : Your Bulgarian 
selections for Russian readers ? ' 

1 Quelle bourde ! ' muttered Nikolai Artemye- 
vitch between his teeth. 

Zoya sat down to the piano. Elena gave a 
just perceptible shrug of the shoulders, and 
with her eyes motioned Insarov to the door. 
Then she twice slowly touched the table with 
her finger, and looked at him. He understood 
that she was promising to see him in two days, 
and she gave him a quick smile when she saw 
he understood her. Insarov got up and began 
to take leave ; he felt unwell. Kurnatovsky 
arrived. Nikolai Artemyevitch jumped up, 
raised his right hand higher than his head, and 
softly dropped it into the palm of the chief 
secretary. Insarov would have remained a 
few minutes longer, to have a look at his rival. 
Elena shook her head unseen ; the host did 
not think it necessary to introduce them to one 
another, and Insarov departed, exchanging one 
last look with Elena. Shubin pondered and 
pondered, and threw himself into a fierce argu- 
ment with Kurnatovsky on a legislative ques- 
tion, about which he had not a single idea. 
198 



ON THE EVE 

Insarov did not sleep all night, and in the 
morning he felt very ill ; he set to work, how- 
ever, putting his papers into order and writing 
letters, but his head was heavy and confused. 
At dinner time he began to be in a fever ; he 
could eat nothing. The fever grew rapidly 
worse towards evening ; he had aching pains in 
all his limbs, and a terrible headache. Insarov 
lay down on the very little sofa on which 
Elena had lately sat ; he thought : It serves 
me right for going to that old rascal,' and he 
tried to sleep. . . . But the illness had by now 
complete mastery of him. His veins were 
throbbing violently, his blood was on fire, his 
thoughts were flying round like birds. He sank 
into forgetfulness. He lay like a man felled by 
a blow on his face, and suddenly, it seemed to 
him, some one was softly laughing and whis- 
pering over him : he opened his eyes with an 
effort, the light of the flaring candle smote him 
like a knife. . . . What was it ? the old attorney 
was before him in an Oriental silk gown 
belted with a silk handkerchief, as he had seen 
him the evening before. . . . ' Karolina Vogel- 
meier/ muttered his toothless mouth. Insarov 
stared, and the old man grew wide and thick 
and tall, he was no longer a man, he was a tree. 
. . . Insarov had to climb along its gnarled 
branches. He clung, and fell with his breast on 
199 



ON THE EVE 

a sharp stone, and Karolina Vogelmeier was 
sitting on her heels, looking like a pedlar- 
woman, and lisping : Pies, pies, pies for sale'; 
and there were streams of blood and swords 
flashing incessantly. . . . Elena ! And every- 
thing vanished in a crimson chaos. 



XXV 

'THERE'S some one here looks like a lock- 
smith or something of the sort,' Bersenyev was 
informed the following evening by his servant, 
who was distinguished by a severe deportment 
and sceptical turn of mind towards his master; 
he wants to see you.' 

' Ask him in,' said Bersenyev. 

The ' locksmith ' entered. Bersenyev recog- 
nised in him the tailor, the landlord of 
Insarov's lodgings. 

4 What do you want ? ' he asked him. 

1 1 came to your honour,' began the tailor, 
shifting from one foot to the other, and at times 
waving his right hand with his cuff clutched in 
his three last fingers. ' Our lodger, seemingly, 
is very ill/ 

Insarov ? ' 

1 Yes, our lodger, to be sure ; yesterday 

morning he was still on his legs, in the 

evening he asked for nothing but drink ; the 

missis took him some water, and at night he 

201 



ON THE EVE 

began talking away ; we could hear him 
through the partition-wall ; and this morning 
he lies without a word like a log, and the 
fever he's in, Lord have mercy on us! 
I thought, upon my word, he'll die for 
sure ; I ought to send word to the police 
station, I thought. For he 's so alone ; but the 
missis said : * Go to that gentleman," she says, 
" at whose country place our lodger stayed ; 
maybe he '11 tell you what to do, or come him- 
self." So I 've come to your honour, for we 
can't, so to say ' 

Bersenyev snatched up his cap, thrust a 
rouble into the tailor's hand, and at once set off 
with him post haste to Insarov's lodgings. 

He found him lying on the sofa, unconscious 
and not undressed. His face was terribly 
changed. Bersenyev at once ordered the people 
of the house to undress him and put him to 
bed, while he rushed off himself and returned 
with a doctor. The doctor prescribed leeches, 
mustard-poultices, and calomel, and ordered 
him to be bled. 

* Is he dangerously ill ? ' asked Bersenyev. 

' Yes, very dangerously,' answered the doctor. 
' Severe inflammation of the lungs ; peripneu- 
monia fully developed, and the brain perhaps 
affected, but the patient is young. His very 
strength is something against him now. I was 

202 



ON THE EVE 

sent for too late ; still we will do all that science 
dictates.' 

The doctor was young himself, and still be- 
lieved in science. 

Bersenyev stayed the night. The people of 
the house seemed kind, and even prompt 
directly there was some one to tell them what 
was to be done. An assistant arrived, and 
began to carry out the medical measures. 

Towards morning Insarov revived for a few 
minutes, recognised Bersenyev, asked : Am I 
ill, then ? ' looked about him with the vague, 
listless bewilderment of a man dangerously ill, 
and again relapsed into unconsciousness. Ber- 
senyev went home, changed his clothes, and, 
taking a few books along with him, he returned 
to Insarov's lodgings. He made up his mind 
to stay there, at least for a time. He shut in 
Insarov's bed with screens, and arranged a 
little place for himself by the sofa. The day 
passed slowly and drearily. Bersenyev did not 
leave the room except to get his dinner. The 
evening came. He lighted a candle with a 
shade, and settled down to a book. Everything 
was still around. Through the partition wall 
could be heard suppressed whispering in the 
landlord's room, then a yawn, and a sigh. Some 
one sneezed, and was scolded in a whisper; 
behind the screen was heard the patient's heavy 
203 



ON THE EVE 

uneven breathing, sometimes broken by a short 
groan, and the uneasy tossing of his head on 
the pillow. . . . Strange fancies came over Ber- 
senyev. He found himself in the room of a 
man whose life was hanging on a thread, the 
man whom, as he knew, Elena loved. . . . He 
remembered that night when Shubin had over- 
taken him and declared that she loved him, 
him, Bersenyev ! And now. . . . ' What am I 
to do now ? ' he asked himself. Let Elena 
know of his illness? Wait a little? This 
would be worse news for her than what I told 
her once before ; strange how fate makes me 
the go-between between them ! ' He made up 
his mind that it was better to wait a little. His 
eyes fell on the table covered with heaps of 
papers. . . ' Will he carry out his dreams ? ' 
thought Bersenyev. 'Can it be that all will 
come to nothing ? ' And he was filled with 
pity for the young life struck down, and he 
vowed to himself to save it. 

The night was an uneasy one. The sick man 
was very delirious. Several times Bersenyev 
got up from his little sofa, approached the bed 
on tip-toe, and listened with a heavy heart to 
his disconnected muttering. Only once Insarov 
spoke with sudden distinctness : ' I won't, I 
won't, she mustn't. . . .' Bersenyev started and 
looked at Insarov; his face, suffering and death- 
204 



ON THE EVE 

like at the same time, was immovable, and his 
hands lay powerless. 'I won't,' he repeated, 
scarcely audibly. 

The doctor came in the morning, shook his 
head and wrote fresh prescriptions. 'The 
crisis is a long way off still,' he said, putting on 
his hat. 

And after the crisis ? ' asked Bersenyev. 

'The crisis may end in two ways, ant Ccesar 
aut nihil! 

The doctor went away. Bersenyev walked a 
few times up and down the street ; he felt in 
need of fresh air. He went back and took up a 
book again. Raumer he had finished long ago ; 
he was now making a study of Grote. 

Suddenly the door softly creaked, and the 
head of the landlord's daughter, covered as 
usual with a heavy kerchief, was cautiously 
thrust into the room. 

' Here is the lady,' she whispered, 'who gave 
me a silver piece.' 

The child's head vanished quickly, and in its 
place appeared Elena. 

Bersenyev jumped up as if he had been stung; 
but Elena did not stir, nor cry out. It seemed 
as if she understood everything in a single 
instant. A terrible pallor overspread her face, 
she went up to the screen, looked behind it, 
threw up her arms, and seemed turned to stone. 
205 



ON THE EVE 

A moment more and she would have flung her- 
self on Insarov, but Bersenyev stopped her. 
1 What are you doing ? ' he said in a trembling 
whisper, ' you might be the death of him ! ' 

She was reeling. He led her to the sofa, and 
made her sit down. 

She looked into his face, then her eyes ran 
over him from head to foot, then stared at the 
floor. 

'Will he die?' she asked so coldly and 
quietly that Bersenyev was frightened. 

'For God's sake, Elena Nikolaevna,' he began, 
'what are you saying? He is ill certainly 
and rather seriously but we will save him ; I 
promise you that.' 

1 He is unconscious ? ' she asked in the same 
tone of voice as before. 

'Yes, he is unconscious at present. That's 
always the case at the early stage of these 
illnesses, but it means nothing, nothing I 
assure you. Drink some water.' 

She raised her eyes to his, and he saw she 
had not heard his answer. 

1 If he dies/ she said in the same voice,' I will 
die too.' 

At that instant Insarov uttered a slight 
moan ; she trembled all over, clutched at her 
head, then began untying the strings of her 

hat. 

206 



ON THE EVE 

* What are you doing ? ' Bersenyev asked 
her. 

' I will stay here.' 

1 You will stay for long ? ' 

* I don 't know, perhaps all day, the night, 
always I don 't know/ 

1 For God's sake, Elena Nikolaevna, control 
yourself. I could not of course have any 
expectation of seeing you here ; but still I 
assume you have come for a short time. Re- 
member they may miss you at home.' 

1 What then ? ' 

' They will look for you find you f 

' What then ? ' 

* Elena Nikolaevna ! You see. He cannot 
now protect you.' 

She dropped her head, seemed lost in thought, 
raised a handkerchief to her lips, and convulsive 
sobs, tearing her by their violence, were sud- 
denly wrung from her breast. She threw her- 
self, face downwards, on the sofa, trying to 
stifle them, but still her body heaved and 
throbbed like a captured bird. 

1 Elena Nikolaevna for God's sake,' Bersen- 
yev was repeating over her. 

1 Ah ! What is it ? suddenly sounded the 
voice of Insarov. 

Elena started up, and Bersenyev felt rooted 
to the spot After waiting a little, he went up 
307 



ON THE EVE 

to the bed. Insarov's head lay on the pillow 
helpless as before ; his eyes were closed. 

* Is he delirious? ' whispered Elena. 

1 It seems so/ answered Bersenyev, ' but 
that 's nothing ; it 's always so, especially 
if ' 

* When was he taken ill ?' Elena broke in. 

' The day before yesterday ; I have been here 
since yesterday. Rely on me, Elena Niko- 
laevna. I will not leave him ; everything shall 
be done. If necessary, we will have a consulta- 
tion.' 

I He will die without me/ she cried, wringing 
her hands. 

* I give you my word I will let you hear every 
day how his illness goes on, and if there should 
be immediate danger ' 

* Swear you will send for me at once when- 
ever it may be, day or night, write a note straight 
to me I care for nothing now. Do you hear ? 
you promise you will do that ? ' 

I I promise before God' 

* Swear it* 
' I swear/ 

She suddenly snatched his hand, and before 
he had time to pull it away, she had bent and 
pressed her lips to it. 

* Elena Nikolaevna, what are you ' he 

stammered 

208 



ON THE EVE 

No no I won't have it- 
muttered indistinctly, and sighed painfully. 

Elena went up to the screen, her handker- 
chief pressed between her teeth, and bent a 
long, long look on the sick man. Silent tears 
rolled down her cheeks. 

'Elena Nikolaevna,' Bersenyev said to her, 
1 he might come to himself and recognise you ; 
there's no knowing if that wouldn't do harm. 
Besides, from hour to hour I expect the doctor.' 

Elena took her hat from the sofa, put it on 
and stood still. Her eyes strayed mournfully 
over the room. She seemed to be remember- 
ing. . . . 

1 1 cannot go away,' she whispered at last. 

Bersenyev pressed her hand : ' Try to pull 
yourself together,' he said, ' calm yourself ; you 
are leaving him in my care. I will come to you 
this very evening/ 

Elena looked at him, said : ' Oh, my good, 
kind friend 1 ' broke into sobs and rushed 
away. 

Bersenyev leaned against the door. A feel- 
ing of sorrow and bitterness, not without a kind 
of strange consolation, overcame him. ' My 
good, kind friend!' he thought and shrugged 
his shoulders. 

1 Who is here ? ' he heard Insarov's voice. 

Bersenyev went up to him. ' I am here, Dmitri 
209 o 



ON THE EVE 

Nikanorovitch. How are you? How do yon 
feel?' 

1 Are you alone ? ' asked the sick man. 

'Yes.' 

'And she?' 

'Whom do you mean?' Bersenyev asked 
almost in dismay. 

Insarov was silent. ' Mignonette,' he mur- 
mured, and his eyes closed again. 



*fO 



XXVI 

FOR eight whole days Insarov lay between life 
and death. The doctor was incessantly visit- 
ing him, interested as a young man in a diffi- 
cult case. Shubin heard of Insarov's critical 
position, and made inquiries after him. His 
compatriots Bulgarians came; among them 
Bersenyev recognised the two strange figures, 
who had puzzled him by their unexpected visit 
to the cottage ; they all showed genuine sym- 
pathy, some offered to take Bersenyev's place 
by the patient's bed-side ; but he would not 
consent to that, remembering his promise to 
Elena. He saw her every day and secretly 
reported to her sometimes by word of mouth, 
sometimes in a brief note every detail of the 
illness. With what sinkings of the heart she 
awaited him, how she listened and questioned 
him ! She was always on the point of hasten- 
ing to Insarov herself; but Bersenyev begged 
her not to do this : Insarov was seldom alone. 
On the first day she knew of his illness she 

211 



ON THE EVE 

herself had almost fallen ill ; directly she got 
home, she shut herself up in her room ; but she 
was summoned to dinner, and appeared in the 
dining-room with such a face that Anna Vas- 
silyevna was alarmed, and was anxious to put 
her to bed. Elena succeeded, however, in con- 
trolling herself. ' If he dies/ she repeated, 4 it 
will be the end of me too.' This thought 
tranquillised her, and enabled her to seem in- 
different. Besides no one troubled her much ; 
Anna Vassilyevna was taken up with her 
swollen face ; Shubin was working furiously ; 
Zoya was given up to pensiveness, and dis- 
posed to read Werther\ Nikolai Artemyevitch 
was much displeased at the frequent visits of 
1 the scholar/ especially as his ' cherished pro- 
jects ' in regard to Kurnatovsky were making 
no way ; the practical chief secretary was 
puzzled and biding his time. Elena did not 
even thank Bersenyev ; there are services for 
which thanks are cruel and shameful. Only 
once at her fourth interview with him Insarov 
had passed a very bad night, the doctor had 
hinted at a consultation only then she re- 
minded him of his promise. ' Very well, then 
let us go/ he said to her. She got up and was 
going to get ready. V No/ he decided, ' let us 
wait till to-morrow.' Towards evening Insarov 
was rather better. 

212 



ON THE EVE 

For eight days this torture was prolonged 
Elena appeared calm ; but she could eat 
nothing, and did not sleep at night. There 
was a dull ache in all her limbs ; her head 
seemed full of a sort of dry burning smoke. 
1 Our young lady's wasting like a candle/ her 
maid said of her. 

At last by the ninth day the crisis was pass- 
ing over. Elena was sitting in the drawing-room 
near Anna Vassilyevna, and, without knowing 
herself what she was doing, was reading her the 
Moscow Gazette ; Bersenyev came in. Elena 
glanced at him how rapid, and fearful, and 
penetrating, and tremulous, was the first glance 
she turned on him every time and at once she 
guessed that he brought good news. He was 
smiling ; he nodded slightly to her, she got up 
to go and meet him. 

1 He has regained consciousness, he is saved, 
he will be quite well again in a week/ he 
whispered to her. 

Elena had stretched out her arm as though 
to ward off a blow, and she said nothing, only 
her lips trembled and a flush of crimson over- 
spread her whole face. Bersenyev began to 
talk to Anna Vassilyevna, and Elena went off 
to her own room, dropped on her knees and fell 
to praying, to thanking God. Light, shining 
tears trickled down her cheeks. Suddenly she 
213 



ON THE EVE 

was conscious of intense weariness, laid her head 
down on the pillow, whispered 'poor Andrei 
Petrovitch ! ' and at once fell asleep with wet 
cheeks and eyelashes. It was long since she 
had slept or wept 



14 



XXVII 

BERSENYEV'S words turned out only partly 
true ; the danger was over, but Insarov gained 
strength slowly, and the doctor talked of a com- 
plete undermining of the whole system. The 
patient left his bed for all that, and began to 
walk about the room ; Bersenyev went home to 
his own lodging, but he came every day to his 
still feeble friend ; and every day as before he 
informed Elena of the state of his health. 
Insarov did not dare to write to her, and only 
indirectly in his conversations with Bersenyev 
referred to her ; but Bersenyev, with assumed 
carelessness, told him about his visits to the 
Stahovs, trying, however, to give him to under- 
stand that Elena had been deeply distressed, 
and that now she was calmer. Elena too did 
not write to Insarov; she had a plan in her 
head. 

One day Bersenyev had just informed her 
with a cheerful face that the doctor had already 
allowed Insarov to eat a cutlet, and that he 
215 



ON THE EVE 

would probably soon go out ; she seemed 
absorbed, dropped her eyes. 

'Guess, what I want to say to you/ she 
said. Bersenyev was confused. He understood 
her. 

I suppose,' he answered, looking away, ' you 
want to say that you wish to see him.' 

Elena crimsoned, and scarcely audibly, she 
breathed, ' Yes.' 

1 Well, what then ? That, I imagine, you can 
easily do.' - Ugh ! ' he thought, ' what a loath- 
some feeling there is in my heart ! ' 

I You mean that I have already before . . .' 
said Elena. ' But I am afraid now he is, you 
say, seldom alone.' 

4 That 's not difficult to get over,' replied Ber- 
senyev, still not looking at her. ' I, of course, 
cannot prepare him ; but give me a note. Who 
can hinder your writing to him as a good 
friend, in whom you take an interest ? There 's 
no harm in that. Appoint I mean, write to 
him when you will come. 

I I am ashamed,' whispered Elena. 
' Give me the note, I will take it.' 

There 's no need of that, but I wanted to ask 
you don't be angry with me, Andrei Petro- 
vitch don 't go to him to-morrow I ' 

Bersenyev bit his lip. 

4 Ah ! yes, I understand ; very well., very well, 
216 




ON THE EVE 

and, adding two or three words more, he quickly 
took leave. 

1 So much the better, so much the better,' he 
thought, as he hurried home. ' I have learnt 
nothing new, but so much the better. What 
possessed me to go hanging on to the edge of 
another man's happiness ? I regret nothing ; I 
have done what my conscience told me ; but now 
it is over. Let them be ! My father was right 
when he used to say to me : " You and I, my 
dear boy, are not Sybarites, we are not aristo- 
crats, we're not the spoilt darlings of fortune and 
nature, we are not even martyrs we are work- 
men and nothing more. Put on your leather 
apron, workman, and take your place at your 
workman's bench, in your dark workshop, and 
let the sun shine on other men ! Even our 
dull life has its own pride, its own happiness ! " ' 

The next morning Insarov got a brief note 
by the post. ' Expect me/ Elena wrote to him, 
'and give orders for no one to see you. A. P. 
will not come,' 



217 



XXVIII 

INSAROV read Elena's note, and at once began 
to set his room to rights ; asked his landlady to 
take away the medicine-glasses, took off his 
dressing-gown and put on his coat. His head 
was swimming and his heart throbbing from 
weakness and delight. His knees were shaking ; 
he dropped on to the sofa, and began to look at 
his watch. ' It 's now a quarter to twelve/ he 
said to himself. ' She can never come before 
twelve: I will think of something else for a 
quarter of an hour, or I shall break down 
altogether. Before twelve she cannot possibly 
come.' 

The door was opened, and in a light silk 
gown, all pale, all fresh, young and joyful, 
Elena came in, and with a faint cry of delight 
she fell on his breast 

*You are alive, you are mine/ she repeated, 
embracing and stroking his head. He was 
almost swooning, breathless at such closeness, 
such caresses, such bliss. 
218 



ON THE EVE 

She sat down near him, holding him fast, and 
began to gaze at him with that smiling, and 
caressing, and tender look, only to be seen 
shining in the eyes of a loving woman. 

Her face suddenly clouded over. 

* How thin you have grown, my poor Dmitri/ 
she said, passing her hand over his neck ; ' what 
a beard you have.' 

1 And you have grown thin, my poor Elena/ 
he answered, catching her fingers with his lips. 
She shook her curls gaily. 

* That's nothing. You shall see how soon 
we '11 be strong again ! The storm has blown 
over, just as it blew over and passed away that 
day when we met in the chapel. Now we are 
going to live.' 

He answered her with a smile only. 

' Ah, what a time we have had, Dmitri, what 
a cruel time ! How can people outlive those 
they love? I knew beforehand what Andrei 
Petrovitch would say to me every day, I did 
really ; my life seemed to ebb and flow with 
yours. Welcome back, my Dmitri ! ' 

He did not know what to say to her. He 
was longing to throw himself at her feet. 

1 Another thing I observed/ she went on, 

pushing back his hair ' I made so many 

observations all this time in my leisure when 

any one is very, very miserable, with what 

219 



ON THE EVE 

stupid attention he follows everything that's 
going on about him ! I really sometimes lost 
myself in gazing at a fly, and all the while 
such chill and terror in my heart! But that's 
all past, all past, isn't it ? Everything 's bright 
in the future, isn't it ? ? 

'You are for me in the future,' answered 
Insarov, 'so it is bright for me.' 

1 And for me too ! But do you remember, 
when I was here, not the last time no, not 
the last time,' she repeated with an involuntary 
shudder, 'when we were talking, I spoke of 
death, I don't know why ; I never suspected 
then that it was keeping watch on us. But you 
are well now, aren't you ? ' 

' I 'm much better, I 'm nearly well' 

' You are well, you are not dead. Oh, how 
happy I am ! ' 

A short silence followed. 

' Elena ?' said Insarov. 

1 Well, my dearest ? 

1 Tell me, did it never occur to you that this 
illness was sent us as a punishment ? ' 

Elena looked seriously at him. 

* That idea did come into my head, Dmitri. 
But I thought : what am I to be punished for ? 
What duty have I transgressed, against whom 
have I sinned ? Perhaps my conscience is not 
like other people's, but it was silent ; or perhaps 
220 



ON THE EVE 

I am guilty towards you? I hinder you, I 
stop you.' 

'You don't stop me, Elena; we will go 
together.' 

1 Yes, Dmitri, let us go together ; I will follow 
you. . . . That is my duty. I love you. ... I 
know no other duty.' 

1 Elena ! ' said Insarov, what chains every 
word of yours fastens on me ! ' 

'Why talk of chains?' she interposed. 'We 
are free people, you and I. Yes/ she went on, 
looking musingly on the floor, while with one 
hand she still stroked his hair, ' I experienced 
much lately of which I had never had any idea ! 
If any one had told me beforehand that I, a 
young lady, well brought up, should go out 
from home alone on all sorts of made-up 
excuses, and to go where ? to a young man's 
lodgings how indignant I should have been ! 
And that has all come about, and I feel no 
indignation whatever. Really 1* she added, and 
turned to Insarov. 

He looked at her with such an expression of 
adoration, that she softly dropped her hand 
from his hair over his eyes. 

'Dmitri!' she began again, 'you don't know 
of course, I saw you there in that dreadful bed, 
I saw you in the clutches of death, unconscious.' 

' You saw me ? ' 

221 



ON THE EVE 

'Yes/ 

He was silent for a little. ' And Bersenyev 
was here ? ' 

She nodded. 

Insarov bowed down before her. O Elena ! ' 
he whispered, ' I don't dare to look at you.' 

'Why? Andrei Petrovitch is so good. I 
was not ashamed before him. And what have 
I to be ashamed of? I am ready to tell all 
the world that I am yours. . . . And Andrei 
Petrovitch I trust like a brother.' 

' He saved me ! ' cried Insarov. ' He is the 
noblest, kindest of men ! ' 

1 Yes . . . And do you know I owe everything 
to him ? Do you know that it was he who first 
told me that you loved me ? And if I could 
tell you everything. . . . Yes, he is a noble 
man.' 

Insarov looked steadily at Elena. ' He is in 
love with you, isn't he ? ' 

Elena dropped her eyes. * He did love me* 
she said in an undertone. 

Insarov pressed her hand warmly. ' Oh you 
Russians,' he said, 'you have hearts of pure 
gold ! And he, he has been waiting on me, he 
has not slept at night. And you, you, my 
angel. . . . No reproaches, no hesitations . . . 
and all this for me, for me ' 

' Yes, yes, all for you, because they love you. 

222 



ON THE EVE 

Ah, Dmitri ! How strange it is ! I think I 
have talked to you of it before, but it doesn't 
matter, I like to repeat it, and you will like to 
hear it. When I saw you the first time ' 

1 Why are there tears in your eyes ? ' Insarov 
interrupted her. 

1 Tears ? Are there ? ' She wiped her eyes 
with her handkerchief. ' Oh, what a silly boy ! 
He doesn't know yet that people weep from 
happiness. I wanted to tell you : when I saw 
you the first time, I saw nothing special in you, 
really. I remember, Shubin struck me much 
more at first, though I never loved him, and as 
for Andrei Petrovitch oh ! there was a 
moment when I thought: isn't this he? And 
with you there was nothing of that sort ; but 
afterwards afterwards you took my heart by 
storm ! ' 

1 Have pity on me,' began Insarov. He 
tried to get up, but dropped down on to the 
sofa again at once. 

'What's the matter with you?' inquired 
Elena anxiously. 

1 Nothing. ... I am still rather weak. I am 
not strong enough yet for such happiness.' 

1 Then sit quietly. Don't dare to move, don't 

get excited,' she added, threatening him with 

her finger. ' And why have you left off your 

dressing-gown ? It 's too soon to begin to be a 

223 



ON THE EVE 

dandy ! Sit down and I will tell you stories 
Listen and be quiet. To talk much is bad for 
you after your illness.' 

She began to talk to him about Shubin, 
about Kurnatovsky, and what she had been 
doing for the last fortnight, of how war seemed, 
judging from the newspapers, inevitable, and so 
directly he was perfectly well again, he must, 
without losing a minute, make arrangements 
for them to start. All this she told him sitting 
beside him, leaning on his shoulder. . . . 

He listened to her, listened, turning pale and 
red. Sometimes he tried to stop her ; suddenly 
he drew himself up. 

* Elena,' he said to her in a strange, hard voice 
* leave me, go away.' 

* What ? ' she replied in bewilderment. ' You 
feel ill ? ' she added quickly. 

' No ... I 'm all right . . . but, please, leave 
me now.' 

1 1 don't understand you. You drive me 
away ? . . What are you doing ? ' she said sud- 
denly ; he had bent over from the sofa almost 
to the ground, and was pressing her feet to his 
lips. ' Don't do that, Dmitri. . . . Dmitri ' 

He got up. 

1 Then leave me ! You see, Elena, when I 
was taken ill, I did not lose consciousness at 
first : I knew I was on the edge of the abyss ; 
224 



ON THE EVE 

even in the fever, in delirium I knew, I felt 
vaguely that it was death coming to me, I took 
leave of life, of you, of everything ; I gave up 
hope. . . . And this return to life so suddenly ; 
this light after the darkness, you you 
near me, with me your voice, your breath. 
... It 's more than I can stand ! I feel I love 
you passionately, I hear you call yourself mine, 
I cannot answer for myself. . . You must go ! ' 

1 Dmitri/ whispered Elena, and she nestled 
her head on his shoulder. Only now she under- 
stood him. 

' Elena/ he went on, ' I love you, you know 
that ; I am ready to give my life for you. . . . 
Why have you come to me now, when I am 
weak, when I can't control myself, when all my 
blood 's on fire . . . you are mine, you say . . . 
you love me p 

4 Dmitri/ she repeated ; she flushed all over, 
and pressed still closer to him. 

1 Elena, have pity on me ; go away, I feel as 
if I should die. ... I can't stand these violent 
emotions . . . my whole soul yearns for you 
. . . think, death was almost parting us . . 
and now you are here, you are in my arms . . . 
Elena ' 

She was trembling all over. ' Take me, then; 
she whispered scarcely above her breath. 



22C 



XXIX 

Nikolai Artemyevitch was walking up and 
down in his study with a scowl on his face. 
Shubin was sitting at the window with his legs 
crossed, tranquilly smoking a cigar. 

' Leave off tramping from corner to corner, 
please,' he observed, knocking the ash off his 
cigar. ' I keep expecting you to speak ; there 's 
a rick in my neck from watching you. Besides, 
there 's something artificial, melodramatic in your 
striding.' 

'You can never do anything but joke/ re- 
sponded Nikolai Artemyevitch. 'You won't 
enter into my position, you refuse to realise 
that I am used to that woman, that I am at- 
tached to her in fact, that her absence is bound 
to distress me. Here it 's October, winter is 
upon us. . . . What can she be doing in 
Revel?' 

' She must be knitting stockings for her- 
self ; for herself not for you.' 

* You may laugh, you may laugh ; but I tel! 
226 



ON THE EVE 

you I know no woman like her. Such honesty- 
such disinterestedness.' 

1 Has she cashed that bill yet ? ' inquired 
Shubin. 

' Such disinterestedness/ repeated Nikolai 
Artemyevitch ; ' it 's astonishing. They tell me 
there are a million other women in the world, 
but I say, show me the million ; show me the 
million, I say ; ces femmes, qu'on me les montre ! 
And she doesn't write that's what's killing 
me!' 

1 You 're eloquent as Pythagoras/ remarked 
Shubin ; ' but do you know what I would advise 
you? ' 

1 What?' 

1 When Augustina Christianovna comes back 
you take my meaning? ? 

1 Yes, yes ; well, what ? ' 

'When you see her again you follow the 
line of my thought ? ' 

I Yes, yes, to be sure.' 

* Try beating her ; see what that would do.' 
Nikolai Artemyevitch turned away ex- 
asperated. 

I I thought he was really going to give me 
some practical advice. But what can one 
expect from him ! An artist, a man of no 
principles ' 

* No principles ! By the way, I 'm told your 

227 



ON THE EVE 

favourite Mr. Kurnatovsky, the man of prin- 
ciple, cleaned you out of a hundred roubles last 
night. That was hardly delicate, you must own 
now.' 

' What of it ? We were playing high. Of 
course, I might expect but they under- 
stand so little how to appreciate him in this 
house ' 

* That he thought : get what I can ! ' put in 
Shubin : ' whether he 's to be my father-in-law 
or not, is still on the knees of the gods, but 
a hundred roubles is worth something to a man 
who doesn't take bribes.' 

1 Father-in-law ! How the devil am I his 
father - in - law ? Vous rivez, mon cher. Of 
course, any other girl would be delighted with 
such a suitor. Only consider : a man of spirit 
and intellect, who has gained a position in the 
world, served in two provinces ' 

1 Led the governor in one of them by the 
nose/ remarked Shubin. 

' Very likely. To be sure, that 's how it should 
be. Practical, a business man * 

* And a capital hand at cards,' Shubin re- 
marked again. 

'To be sure, and a capital hand at cards. 
But Elena Nikolaevna. ... Is there any under- 
standing her? I should be glad to know if 
there is any one who would undertake to make 
228 



ON THE EVE 

out what it is she wants. One day she *s cheer- 
ful, another she 's dull ; all of a sudden she *s 
so thin there's no looking at her, and then 
suddenly she's well again, and all without 

any apparent reason ' 

A disagreeable-looking man-servant came in 
with a cup of coffee, cream and sugar on a tray. 

I The father is pleased with a suitor,' pursued 
Nikolai Artemyevitch, breaking off a lump of 
sugar ; ' but what is that to the daughter ! That 
was all very well in the old patriarchal days, 
but now we have changed all that. Nous avons 
changt tout qa. Nowadays a young girl talks 
to any one she thinks fit, reads what she 
thinks fit ; she goes about Moscow alone with- 
out a groom or a maid, just as in Paris ; and 
all that is permitted. The other day I asked, 
" Where is Elena Nikolaevna ? " I 'm told she 
has gone out. Where ? No one knows. Is that 
the proper thing ? ' 

Take your coffee, and let the man go,' said 
Shubin. ' You say yourself that one ought not 
devant les domestiquesj he added in an under- 
tone. 

The servant gave Shubin a dubious look, 
while Nikolai Artemyevitch took the cup of 
coffee, added some cream, and seized some ten 
lumps of sugar. 

I I was just going to say when the servant 

229 



ON THE EVE 

came in,' he began, ' that I count for nothing in 
this house. That's the long and short of 
the matter. For nowadays every one judges 
from appearances ; one man 's an empty-headed 
fool, but gives himself airs of importance, and 
he 's respected ; while another, very likely, has 
talents which might which might gain him 
great distinction, but through modesty ' 

' Aren't you a born statesman ? ' asked Shubin 
in a jeering voice. 

' Give over playing the fool ! ' Nikolai Artem- 
yevitch cried with heat. 'You forget yourself! 
Here you have another proof that I count for 
nothing in this house, nothing ! ' 

'Anna Vassilyevna ill-uses you . . . poor 
fellow ! ' said Shubin, stretching. ' Ah, Nikolai 
Artemyevitch, we 're a pair of sinners ! You 
had much better be getting a little present 
ready for Anna Vassilyevna, It 's her birthday 
in a day or two, and you know how she appre- 
ciates the least attention on your part.' 

'Yes, yes,' answered Nikolai Artemyevitch 
hastily. ' I 'm much obliged to you for remind- 
ing me. Of course, of course ; to be sure. I 
have a little thing, a dressing-case, I bought it 
the other day at Rosens trauch's ; but I don't 
know really if it will do.' 

' 1 suppose you bought it for her, the lady 
at Revel?' 

230 



ON THE EVE 

1 Why, certainly. I had some idea/ 

'Well, in that case, it will be sure to do.' 
Shubin got up from his seat. 

* Are we going out this evening, Pavel Yakov- 
litch, eh ? ' Nikolai Artemyevitch asked with 
an amicable leer. 

4 Why yes, you are going to your club.' 

' After the club . . . after the club.' 

Shubin stretched himself again. 

1 No, Nikolai Artemyevitch, I want to work 
to-morrow. Another time.' And he walked 
off. 

Nikolai Artemyevitch scowled, walked twice 
up and down the room, took a velvet box with 
the dressing-case out of the bureau and looked 
at it a long while, rubbing it with a silk hand- 
kerchief. Then he sat down before a looking- 
glass and began carefully arranging his thick 
black hair, turning his head to right and to left 
with a dignified countenance, his tongue 
pressed into his cheek, never taking his eyes 
off his parting. Some one coughed behind his 
back ; he looked round and saw the man- 
servant who had brought him in his coffee. 

4 What do you want ? ' he asked him. 

1 Nikolai Artemyevitch/ said the man with a 
certain solemnity, ' you are our master ? ' 

1 I know that ; what next ! ' 

1 Nikolai Artemyevitch, graciously do not be 
231 



ON THE EVE 

angry with me ; but I, having been in your 
honour's service from a boy, am bound in duti- 
ful devotion to bring you ; 

*We 1 l what is it?' 

The man shifted uneasily as he stood. 

' You condescended to say, your honour/ he 
began, ' that your honour did not know where 
Elena Nikolaevna was pleased to go. I have 
information about that/ 

1 What lies are you telling, idiot ? ' 

' That 's as your honour likes, but I saw our 
young lady three days ago, as she was pleased 
to go into a house ! ' 

' Where ? what ? what house ? ' 

1 In a house, near Povarsky. Not far 
from here. I even asked the doorkeeper who 
were the people living there.' 

Nikolai Artemyevitch stamped with his feet. 

1 Silence, scoundrel ! How dare you ? . . . 
Elena Nikolaevna, in the goodness of her heart, 
goes to visit the poor and you ... Be off, fool ! ' 

The terrified servant was rushing to the door. 

' Stop ! ' cried Nikolai Artemyevitch. ' What 
did the doorkeeper say to you ? ' 

' Oh no nothing he said nothing He told 
me a stu student ' 

1 Silence, scoundrel ! Listen, you dirty beast ; 
if you ever breathe a word in your dreams 

even ' 

232 



ON THE EVE 

4 Mercy on us ' 

* Silence ! if you blab if any one if I rind 
out you shall find no hiding-place even 
underground ! Do you hear ? You can go ! ' 

The man vanished. 

' Good Heavens, merciful powers ! what does 
it mean ? ' thought Nikolai Artemyevitch when 
he was left alone. ' What did that idiot tell 
me ? Eh ? I shall have to find out, though, what 
house it is, and who lives there. I must go 
myself. Has it come to this 1 . . . Un laqnais / 
Quelle humiliation ! ' 

And repeating aloud : * Un laquais f ' Nikolai 
Artemyevitch shut the dressing-case up in the 
bureau, and went up to Anna Vassilyevna. 
He found her in bed with her face tied up. But 
the sight of her sufferings only irritated him, 
and he very soon reduced her to tears. 



2.33 



XXX 

Meanwhile the storm gathering in the East 
was breaking. Turkey had declared war on 
Russia ; the time fixed for the evacuation of 
the Principalities had already expired, the day 
of the disaster of Sinope was not far off. The 
last letters received by Insarov summoned him 
urgently to his country. His health was not yet 
restored ; he coughed, suffered from weakness 
and slight attacks of fever, but he was scarcely 
ever at home. His heart was fired, he no longer 
thought of his illness. He was for ever rushing 
about Moscow, having secret interviews with 
various persons, writing for whole nights, dis- 
appearing for whole days ; he had informed his 
landlord that he was going away shortly, and 
had presented him already with his scanty 
furniture. Elena too on her side was getting 
ready for departure. One wet evening she was 
sitting in her room, and listening with involun- 
tary depression to the sighing of the wind, while 
she hemmed handkerchiefs Her maid came in 
234 



ON THE EVE 

and told her that her father was in her mother's 
room and sent for her there. ' Your mamma is 
crying,' she whispered after the retreating Elena, 
* and your papa is angry.' 

Elena gave a slight shrug and went into 
Anna Vassilyevna's room. Nikolai Artemye- 
vitch's kind-hearted spouse was half lying on a 
reclining chair, sniffing a handkerchief steeped 
in eau de Cologne ; he himself was standing at 
the hearth, every button buttoned up, in a 
high, hard cravat, with a stiffly starched collar ; 
his deportment had a vague suggestion of 
some parliamentary orator. With an orator's 
wave of the arm he motioned his daughter to a 
chair, and when she, not understanding his ges- 
ture, looked inquiringly at him, he brought out 
with dignity, without turning his head : ' I beg 
you to be seated.' Nikolai Artemyevitch 
always used the formal plural in addressing his 
wife, but only on extraordinary occasions in 
addressing his daughter. 

Elena sat down. 

Anna Vassilyevna blew her nose tearfully. 
Nikolai Artemyevitch thrust his fingers between 
his coat-buttons. 

4 1 sent for you, Elena Nikolaevna,' he began 

after a protracted silence, ' in order to have an 

explanation with you, or rather in order to ask 

you for an explanation. I am displeased with 

235 



ON THE EVE 

you or no that is too little to say: your 
behaviour is a pain and an outrage to me 
to me and to your mother your mother whom 
you see here.' 

Nikolai Artemyevitch was giving vent only to 
the few bass notes in his voice. Elena gazed in 
silence at him, then at Anna Vassilyevna and 
turned pale. 

'There was a time,' Nikolai Artemyevitch 
resumed, ' when daughters did not allow them- 
selves to look down on their parents when the 
parental authority forced the disobedient to 
tremble. That time has passed, unhappily : so 
at least many persons imagine ; but let me tell 
you, there are still laws which do not permit 
do not permit in fact there are still laws. I 
beg you to mark that : there are still laws ' 

1 But, papa/ Elena was beginning. 

' I beg you not to interrupt me. Let us turn 
in thought to the past. I and Anna Vassilyevna 
have performed our duty. I and Anna 
Vassilyevna have spared nothing in your 
education : neither care nor expense. What 
you have gained from our care is a different 
question ; but I had the right to expect I 
and Anna Vassilyevna had the right to expect 
that you would at least hold sacred the prin- 
ciples of morality which we have que nous 
avons inculque's, which we have instilled into 
236 



ON THE EVE 

you, our only daughter. We had the right 
to expect that no new " ideas " could touch that, 
so to speak, holy shrine. And what do we 
find? I am not now speaking of frivolities 
characteristic of your sex, and age, but who 
could have anticipated that you could so far for- 
get yourself ' 

1 Papa/ said Elena, * I know what you are go- 
ing to say ' 

1 No, you don't know what I am going to 
say ! ' cried Nikolai Artemyevitch in a falsetto 
shriek, suddenly losing the majesty of his 
oratorical pose, the smooth dignity of his speech, 
and his bass notes. ' You don't know, vile hussy ! ' 

I For mercy's sake, Nicolas^ murmured Anna 
Vassilyevna, * vous me faites mourir! 

* Don't tell me queje vous fais mourir, Anna 
Vassilyevna ! You can't conceive what you will 
hear directly ! Prepare yourself for the worst, I 
warn you ! ' 

Anna Vassilyevna seemed stupefied. 

* No,' resumed Nikolai Artemyevitch, turning 
to Elena, ' you don't know what I am going to 
say!' 

I I am to blame towards you ' she began. 

* Ah, at last ! ' 

* I am to blame towards you,' pursued Elena, 
' for not having long ago confessed ' 

4 But do you know,' Nikolai Artemyevitch 
237 



ON THE EVE 

interrupted, 'that I can crush you with one 
word ? ' 

Elena raised her eyes to look at him. 

' Yes, madam, with one word ! It 's useless to 
look at me ! ' (He crossed his arms on his 
breast.) ' Allow me to ask you, do you know 
a certain house near Povarsky? Have you 
visited that house ? ' (He stamped.) 'Answer 
me, worthless girl, and don't try to hide the 
truth. People, people, servants, madam, de vils 
laquais have seen you, as you went in there, to 
your ' 

Elena was crimson, her eyes were blazing. 

' 1 have no need to hide anything/ she 
declared. ' Yes, I have visited that house.' 

1 Exactly ! Do you hear, do you hear, Anna 
Vassilyevna ? And you know, I presume, who 
lives there ? ' 

'Yes, I know ; my husband.' 

Nikolai Artemyevitch's eyes were starting out 
of his head. 

Your ' 

' My husband,' repeated Elena ; ' I am married 
to Dmitri Nikanorovitch Insarov.' 

* You ? married ?' was all Anna Vassilyevna 
could articulate. 

'Yes, mamma. . . . Forgive me. A fort- 
night ago, we were secretly married.' 

Anna Vassilyevna fell back in her chair; 
238 



ON THE EVE 

Nikolai Artemyevitch stepped two paces 
back. 

' Married ! To that vagrant, that Monte- 
negrin ! the daughter of Nikolai Stahov of the 
higher nobility married to a vagrant, a nobody, 
without her parents' sanction ! And you im- 
agine I shall let the matter rest, that I shall 
not make a complaint, that I will allow you 

that you that To the nunnery with you, 

and he shall go to prison, to hard labour ! 
Anna Vassilyevna, inform her at once that 
you will cut off her inheritance ! ' 

' Nikolai Artemyevitch, for God's sake,' 
moaned Anna Vassilyevna. 

'And when and how was this done? Who 
married you ? where ? how ? Good God ! what 
will all our friends think, what will the world 
say ! And you, shameless hypocrite, could go on 
living under your parents' roof after such an 
act! Had you no fear of the wrath of 
heaven ? ' 

4 Papa ' said Elena (she was trembling from 
head to foot but her voice was steady), you are 
at liberty to do with me as you please, but you 
need not accuse me of shamelessness, and 
hypocrisy. I did not want to give you pain 
before, but I should have had to teli you all 
myself in a few days, because we are going away 
my husband and I from here next week.' 
239 



ON THE EVE 

1 Going away ? Where to ? ' 

To his own country, to Bulgaria. ' 

' To the Turks ! ' cried Anna Vassilyevna and 
fell into a swoon. 

Elena ran to her mother. 

'Away!' clamoured Nikolai Artemyevitch, 
seizing his daughter by the arm, 'away, un- 
worthy girl ! ' 

But at that instant the door of the room 
opened, and a pale face with glittering eyos 
appeared : it was the face of Shubin. 

* Nikolai Artemyevitch ! ' he shouted at the 
top of his voice, ' Augustina Christianovna is 
here and is asking for you ! ' 

Nikolai Artemyevitch turned round infuri- 
ated, threatening Shubin with his fist ; he stood 
still a minute and rapidly went out of the room. 

Elena fell at her mother's feet and embraced 
her knees. 

Uvar Ivanovitch was lying on his bed. A 
shirt without a collar, fastened with a heavy stud 
enfolded his thick neck and fell in full flowing 
folds over the almost feminine contours of his 
chest, leaving visible a large cypress-wood 
cross and an amulet. His ample limbs were 
covered with the lightest bedclothes. On the 
little table by the bedside a candle was burning 
dimly beside a jug of kvas, and on the bed at 
240 



ON THE EVE 

Uvar Ivanovitch's feet was sitting Shubin in a 
dejected pose. 

'Yes,' he was saying meditatively, 'she is 
married and getting ready to go away. Your 
nephew was bawling and shouting for the benefit 
of the whole house ; he had shut himself up for 
greater privacy in his wife's bedroom, but not 
merely the maids and the footmen, the coach- 
man even could hear it all ! Now he 's just 
tearing and raving round ; he all but gave me a 
thrashing, he's bringing a father's curse on the 
scene now, as cross as a bear with a sore head ; 
but that's of no importance. Anna Vassil- 
yevna's crushed, but she's much more broken- 
hearted at her daughter leaving her than at her 
marriage.' 

Uvar Ivanovitch flourished his fingers. 

1 A mother,' he commented, ' to be sure.' 

' Your nephew,' resumed Shubin, ' threatens to 
lodge a complaint with the Metropolitan and 
the General- Governor and the Minister, but it 
will end by her going. A happy thought to ruin 
his own daughter ! He '11 crow a little and then 
lower his colours.' 

* They'd no right,' observed Uvar Ivano- 
vitch, and he drank out of the jug. 

1 To be sure. But what a storm of criticism, 
gossip, and comments will be raised in Moscow ! 
She's not afraid of them. . . . Besides she's 
241 Q 



ON THE EVE 

above them. She's going away . . . and it's 
awful to think where she 's going to such a 
distance, such a wilderness ! What future awaits 
her there ? I seem to see her setting off from 
a posting station in a snow-storm with thirty 
degrees of frost. She's leaving her country, 
and her people ; but I understand her doing it 
Whom is she leaving here behind her ? What 
people has she seen? Kurnatovsky and Ber- 
senyev and our humble selves ; and these are the 
best she 's seen. What is there to regret about 
it ? One thing 's bad ; I 'm told her husband 
the devil, how that word sticks in my throat ! 
Insarov, I'm told, is spitting blood; that's a 
bad lookout. I saw him the other day : his 
face you could model Brutus from it straight 
off. Do you know who Brutus was, Uvar 
Ivanovitch?' 

'What is there to know? a man to be 
sure.' 

1 Precisely so : he was a " man." Yes he 's a 
wonderful face, but unhealthy, very unhealthy.' 

'For fighting ... it makes no difference/ 
observed Uvar Ivanovitch. 

1 For fighting it makes no difference, cer- 
tainly ; you are pleased to express yourself 
with great justice to-day ; but for living it 
makes all the difference. And you see she 
wants to live with him a little while.' 
242 



ON THE EVE 

'A youthful affair/ responded Uvar Ivano- 
vitch. 

1 Yes, a youthful, glorious, bold affair. Death, 
life, conflict, defeat, triumph, love, freedom, 
country. . . . Good God, grant as much to all 
of us ! That 's a very different thing from 
sitting up to one's neck in a bog, and pretending 
it 's all the same to you, when in fact it really 
is all the same. While there the strings are 
tuned to the highest pitch, to play to all the 
world or to break ! ' 

Shubin's head sank on to his breast. 

' Yes/ he resumed, after a prolonged silence, 
* Insarov deserves her. What nonsense, though ! 
No one deserves her. . . Insarov . . . Insarov 
. . . What's the use of pretended modesty? 
We '11 own he 's a fine fellow, he stands on his 
own feet, though up to the present he has done 
no more than we poor sinners ; and are we suciS 
absolutely worthless dirt? Am I such dirt, 
Uvar Ivanovitch ? Has God been hard on me 
in every way ? Has He given me no talents, no 
abilities? Who knows, perhaps, the name of 
Pavel Shubin will in time be a great name? 
You see that bronze farthing there lying on 
your table. Who knows ; some day, perhaps 
in a century, that bronze will go to a statue of 
Pavel Shubin, raised in his honour by a grateful 
posterity ! ' 



ON THE EVE 

Uvar Ivanovitch leaned on his elbow and 
stared at the enthusiastic artist. 

1 That 's a long way off,' he said at last with 
his usual gesture ; ' we 're speaking of other 
people, why bring in yourself?' 

1 O great philosopher of the Russian world ! ' 
cried Shubin, ' every word of yours is worth its 
weight in gold, and it 's not to me but to you a 
statue ought to be raised, and I would under- 
take it. There, as you are lying now, in that 
pose ; one doesn't know which is uppermost in 
it, sloth or strength ! That 's how I would cast 
you in bronze. You aimed a just reproach 
at my egoism and vanity ! Yes ! yes ! it 's use- 
less talking of one's-self ; it 's useless bragging. 
We have no one yet, no men, look where you 
will. Everywhere either small fry, nibblers, 
Hamlets on a small scale, self-absorbed, or dark- 
ness and subterranean chaos, or idle babblers 
and wooden sticks. Or else they are like this : 
they study themselves to the most shameful de- 
tail, and are for ever feeling the pulse of every 
sensation and reporting to themselves : " That 's 
what I feel, that's what I think." A useful, 
rational occupation ! No, if we only had some 
sensible men among us, that girl, that delicate 
soul, would not have run away from us, would 
not have slipped off like a fish to the water ! 
What's the meaning of it, Uvar Ivanovitch? 
244 



ON THE EVE 

When will our time come ? When will men be 
born among us ? ' 

'Give us time,' answered Uvar Ivanovitch; 
they will be ' 

' They will be ? soil of our country ! force 
of the black earth ! thou hast said : they will 
be. Look, I will write down your words. But 
why are you putting out the candle ? ' 

I 'm going to sleep ; good-bye.' 



245 



XXX! 

Shubin had spoken truly. The unexpected 
news of Elena's marriage nearly killed Anna 
Vassilyevna. She took to her bed. Nikolai 
Artemyevitch insisted on her not admitting her 
daughter to her presence ; he seemed to be en- 
joying the opportunity of showing himself in the 
fullest sense the master of the house, with all 
the authority of the head of the family ; he made 
an incessant uproar in the household, storming 
at the servants, and constantly saying : ' I will 
show you who I am, I will let you know you 
wait a little ! ' While he was in the house, Anna 
Vassilyevna did not see Elena, and had to be 
content with Zoya, who waited on her very 
devotedly, but kept thinking to herself : ' Diesen 
Insarof vorziehen und went?' But directly 
Nikolai Artemyevitch went out and that 
happened pretty often, Augustina Chris- 
tianovna had come back in sober earnest 
Elena went to her mother, and a long time 
her mother gazed at her in silence and in tears. 
246 



ON THE EVE 

This dumb reproach, more deeply than any 
other, cut Elena to the heart ; at such moments 
she felt, not remorse, but a deep, boundless pity 
akin to remorse. 

1 Mamma, dear mamma ! ' she would repeat, 
kissing her hands ; ' what was I to do ? I 'm 
not to blame, I loved him, I could not have 
acted differently. Throw the blame on fate for 
throwing me with a man whom papa doesn't 
like, and who is taking me away from you.' 

* Ah ! ' Anna Vassilyevna cut her short, ' don't 
remind me of that. When I think where you 
mean to go, my heart is ready to burst ! ' 

' Dear mamma/ answered Elena, ' be com- 
forted ; at least, it might have been worse ; I 
might have died.' 

1 But, as it is, I don't expect to see you agaia 
Either you will end your days there in a tent 
somewhere' Anna Vassilyevna pictured Bul- 
garia as something after the nature of the 
Siberian swamps, ' or I shall not survive the 
separation ' 

* Don't say that, mamma dearest, we shall see 
each other again, please God. There are towns 
in Bulgaria just as there are here.' 

* Fine towns there, indeed ! There is war 
going on there now ; wherever you go, I sup- 
pose they are firing cannons off all the while 
. . . Are you meaning to set off soon ? ' 

247 



ON THE EVE 

1 Soon ... if only papa. He means to appeal 
to the authorities ; he threatens to separate us.' 

AnnaVassilyevna turned her eyes heavenwards. 

1 No, Lenotchka, he will not do that. I would 
not myself have consented to this marriage. I 
would have died first ; but what 's done can't be 
undone, and I will not let my daughter be dis- 
graced.' 

So passed a few days. At last Anna Vassil- 
yevna plucked up her courage, and one evening 
she shut herself up alone with her husband in 
her room. The whole house was hushed to 
catch every sound. At first nothing was to be 
heard ; then Nikolai Artemyevitch's voice began 
to tune up, then a quarrel broke out, shouts 
were raised, even groans were discerned. . . . 
Already Shubin was plotting with the maid? 
and Zoya to rush in to the rescue ; but the up- 
roar in the bedroom began by degrees to grow 
less, passed into quiet talk, and ceased. Only 
from time to time a faint sob was to be heard, 
and then those, too, were still. There was the 
jingling of keys, the creak of a bureau being 
unfastened. . . . The door was opened, and 
Nikolai Artemyevitch appeared. He looked 
surlily at every one who met him, and went 
out to the club ; while Anna Vassilyevna sent 
for Elena, embraced her warmly, and, with bitter 
tears flowing down her cheeks, she said : 
248 



ON THE EVE 

'Everything is settled, he will not make a 
scandal, and there is nothing now to hinder you 
from going from abandoning us.' 

1 You will let Dmitri come to thank you ? ' 
Elena begged her mother, as soon as the latter 
had been restored a little. 

1 Wait a little, my darling, I cannot bear yet 
to see the man who has come between us. We 
shall have time before you go.' 

1 Before we go,' repeated Elena mournfully. 

Nikolai Artemyevitch had consented ' not to 
make a scandal,' but Anna Vassilyevna did not 
tell her daughter what a price he had put on his 
consent. She did not tell her that she had 
promised to pay all his debts, and had given 
him a thousand roubles down on the spot. More- 
over, he had declared decisively to Anna Vassil- 
yevna that he had no wish to meet Insarov,whom 
he persisted in calling ' the Montenegrin vagrant,' 
and when he got to the club, he began, quite 
without occasion, talking of Elena's marriage, to 
his partner at cards, a retired general of en- 
gineers. ' You have heard,' he observed with a 
show of carelessness, my daughter, through the 
higher education, has gone and married a 
student.' The general looked at him through 
his spectacles, muttered, ' H'm ! ' and asked 
him what stakes would he play for. 



249 



XXXII 

The day of departure drew near. November 
was already over ; the latest date for starting 
had come. Insarov had long ago made his pre- 
parations, and was burning with anxiety to get 
out of Moscow as soon as possible. And the 
doctor was urging him on. ' You need a warm 
climate/ he told him ; * you will not get well 
here.' Elena, too, was fretting with impatience ; 
she was worried by Insarov's pallor, and his 
emaciation. She often looked with involuntary 
terror at his changed face. Her position in her 
parents' house had become insupportable. Her 
mother mourned over her, as over the dead, 
while her father treated her with contemptuous 
coldness ; the approaching separation secretly 
pained him too, but he regarded it as his duty 
the duty of an offended father to disguise 
his feelings, his weakness. Anna Vassilyevna 
at last expressed a wish to see Insarov. He 
was taken up to her secretly by the back stairs. 
After he had entered her room, for a long 
250 



ON THE EVE 

time she could not speak to him, she could 
not even bring herself to look at him ; he sat 
down near her chair, and waited, with quiet 
respectfulness, for her first word. Elena sat 
down close, and held her mother's hand in 
hers. At last Anna Vassilyevna raised her 
eyes, saying : * God is your judge, Dmitri 
Nikanorovitch ' she stopped short : the re- 
proaches died away on her lips. 'Why, you 
are ill/ she cried : ' Elena, your husband 's ill !' 

1 1 have been unwell, Anna Vassilyevna,' 
answered Insarov ; ' and even now I am not 
quite strong yet : but I hope my native air will 
make me perfectly well again.' 

'Ah Bulgaria!' murmured Anna Vassil- 
yevna, and she thought: 'Good God, a Bulgarian, 
and dying ; a voice as hollow as a drum ; and 
eyes like saucers, a perfect skeleton ; his coat 
hanging loose on his shoulders, his face as yellow 
as a guinea, and she's his wife she loves 

him it must be a bad dream. But ' she 

checked herself at once: 'Dmitri Nikanorovitch,' 
she said, ' are you absolutely, absolutely bound 
to go away?' 

' Absolutely, Anna Vassilyevna.' 

Anna Vassilyevna looked at him. 

'Ah, Dmitri Nikanorovitch, God grant you 
never have to go through what I am going 
through now. But you will promise me to take 
251 



ON THE EVE 

care of her to love her. You will not have to 
face poverty while I am living !' 

Tears choked her voice. She opened her 
arms, and Elena and Insarov flung themselves 
into her embrace. 

The fatal day had come at last. It had been 
arranged that Elena should say good-bye to 
her parents at home, and should start on the 
journey from Insarov's lodgings. The departure 
was fixed for twelve o'clock. About a quarter 
of an hour before the appointed time Bersenyev 
arrived. He had expected to find Insarov's 
compatriots at his lodgings, anxious to see him 
off ; but they had already gone before ; and 
with them the two mysterious persons known 
to the reader (they had been witnesses at 
Insarov's wedding). The tailor met the ' kind 
gentlemen ' with a bow ; he, presumably, to 
drown his grief, but possibly to celebrate his 
delight at getting the furniture, had been drink- 
ing heavily ; his wife soon led him away. In 
the room everything was by this time ready ; a 
trunk, tied up with cord, stood on the floor. 
Bersenyev sank into thought : many memories 
came rushing upon him. 

Twelve o'clock had long ago struck ; and the 
driver had already brought round the horses, 
but the 'young people' still did not appear. 
At last hurrying steps were heard on the stairs, 



ON THE EVE 

and Elena came out escorted by Insarov and 
Shubin. Elena's eyes were red ; she had left 
her mother lying unconscious ; the parting had 
been terrible. Elena had not seen Bersenyev 
for more than a week : he had been seldom of 
late at the Stahovs'. She had not expected to 
meet him ; and crying, ' You ! thank you !' she 
threw herself on his neck ; Insarov, too, em- 
braced him. A painful silence followed. What 
could these three say to one another? what 
were they feeling in their hearts? Shubin 
realised the necessity of cutting short every- 
thing painful with light words. 

1 Our trio has come together again/ he began, 
'for the last time. Let us submit to the 
decrees of fate ; speak of the past with kind- 
ness ; and in God's name go forward to the 
new life ! In God's name, on our distant way/ 
he began to hum, and stopped short. He felt 
suddenly ashamed and awkward. It is a sin to 
sing where the dead are lying: and at that 
instant, in that room, the past of which he 
had spoken was dying, the past of the people 
met together in it It was dying to be born 
again in a new life doubtless still it was 
death. 

'Come, Elena/ began Insarov, turning to his 
wife, * I think everything is done ? Everything 
paid, and everything packed. There 's nothing 
253 



ON THE EVE 

more except to take the box down.' He called 
his landlord. 

The tailor came into the room, together with 
his wife and daughter. He listened, slightly 
reeling, to Insarov's instructions, dragged the 
box up on to his shoulders, and ran quickly 
down the staircases, tramping heavily with his 
boots. 

1 Now, after the Russian custom, we must sit 
down,' observed Insarov. 

They all sat down ; Bersenyev seated himself 
on the old sofa, Elena sat next him ; the land- 
lady and her daughter squatted in the doorway. 
All were silent ; all smiled constrainedly, though 
no one knew why he was smiling ; each of them 
wanted to say something at parting, and each 
(except, of course, the landlady and her daughter, 
they were simply rolling their eyes) felt that at 
such moments it is only permissible to utter 
common-places, that any word of importance, of 
sense, or even of deep feeling, would be some- 
how out of place, almost insincere. Insarov 
was the first to get up, and he began crossing 
himself. c Farewell, our little room !' he cried. 

Then came kisses, the sounding but cold 
kisses of leave-taking, good wishes half ex- 
pressed for the journey, promises to write, the 
last, half-smothered words of farewell. 

Elena, all in tears, had already taken her seat 
254 



ON THE EVE 

in the sledge ; Insarov had carefully wrapped 
her feet up in a rug ; Shubin, Bersenyev, the 
landlord, his wife, the little daughter, with the 
inevitable kerchief on her head, the doorkeeper, a 
workman in a striped bedgown, were all standing 
on the steps, when suddenly a splendid sledge, 
harnessed with spirited horses, flew into the 
courtyard, and from the sledge, shaking the 
snow off the collar of his cloak, leapt Nikolai 
Artemyevitch. 

1 1 am not too late, thank God/ he cried, 
running up to their sledge. ' Here, Elena, is 
our last parental benediction/ he said, bending 
down under the hood, and taking from his 
pocket a little holy image, sewn in a velvet bag, 
he put it round her neck. She began to sob, 
and kiss his hands ; and the coachman mean- 
time pulled out of the forepart of the sledge a 
half bottle of champagne, and three glasses. 

' Come V said Nikolai Artemyevitch and his 
own tears were trickling on to the beaver collar 
of his cloak ' we must drink to good journey 

good wishes ' He began pouring out the 

champagne : his hands were shaking, the foam 
rose over the edge and fell on to the snow. He 
took one glass, and gave the other two to Elena 
and Insarov, who by now was seated beside her, 

1 God give you ' began Nikolai Artemyevitch, 

and he could not go on ; he drank off the wine 
25S 



ON THE EVE 

they, too, drank off their glasses. ' Now you 
should drink, gentlemen/ he added, turning to 
Shubin and Bersenyev, but at that instant the 
driver started the horses. Nikolai Artemye- 
vitch ran beside the sledge. ' Mind and write 
to us,' he said in a broken voice. Elena put 
out her head, saying : ' Good-bye, papa, Andrei 
Petrovitch, Pavel Yakovlitch, good-bye all, 
good-bye, Russia!' and dropped back in her 
place. The driver flourished his whip, and gave 
a whistle ; the sledge, its runners crunching on 
the snow, turned out of the gates to the right 
and disappeared. 



10 



XXXIII 

It was a bright April day. On the broad 
lagoon which separates Venice from the narrow 
strip of accumulated sea sand, called the Lido, a 
gondola was gliding swaying rhythmically at 
every push made by the gondolier as he leaned 
on the big pole. Under its low awning, on 
soft leather cushions, were sitting Elena and 
Insarov. 

Elena's features had not changed much since 
the day of her departure from Moscow, but 
their expression was different; it was more 
thoughtful and more severe, and her eyes had a 
bolder look. Her whole figure had grown finer 
and more mature, and the hair seemed to lie 
in greater thickness and luxuriance along her 
white brow and her fresh cheeks. Only about 
her lips, when she was not smiling, a scarcely 
perceptible line showed the presence of a 
hidden constant anxiety. In Insarov's face, 
on the contrary, the expression had remained the 
same, but his features had undergone a cruel 
257 R 



ON THE EVE 

change. He had grown thin, old, pale and 
bent ; he was constantly coughing a short dry 
cough, and his sunken eyes shone with a 
strange brilliance. On the way from Russia, 
Insarov had lain ill for almost two months at 
Vienna, and only at the end of March had he 
been able to come with his wife to Venice; 
from there he was hoping to make his way 
through Zara to Servia, to Bulgaria ; the 
other roads were closed. The war was now at 
its height about the Danube; England and 
France had declared war on Russia, all the 
Slavonic countries were roused and were pre- 
paring for an uprising. 

The gondola put in to the inner shore of the 
Lido. Elena and Insarov walked along the 
narrow sandy road planted with sickly trees 
(every year they plant them and every year they 
die) to the outer shore of the Lido, to the sea. 

They walked along the beach. The Adriatic 
rolled its muddy-blue waves before them ; 
they raced into the shore, foaming and hissing, 
and drew back again, leaving fine shells and 
fragments of seaweed on the beach. 

' What a desolate place ! ' observed Elena 
* I 'm afraid it 's too cold for you here, but I 
guess why you wanted to come here/ 

* Cold ! ' rejoined Insarov with a rapid and 
bitter smile, ' I shall be a fine soldier, if I 'm to 
2S8 



ON THE EVB 

be afraid of the cold. I came here ... I will 
tell you why. I look across that sea, and 
I feel as though here, I am nearer my country. 
It is there, you know,' he added, stretching out 
his hand to the East, * the wind blows from 
there.' 

1 Will not this wind bring the ship you are 
expecting ? ' said Elena. ' See, there is a white 
sail, is not that it ? ' 

Insarov gazed seaward into the distance to 
where Elena was pointing. 

' Renditch promised to arrange everything 
for us within a week/ he said, * we can rely on 
him, I think. . . . Did you hear, Elena/ he 
added with sudden animation, 'they say the 
poor Dalmatian fishermen have sacrificed their 
dredging weights you know the leads they 
weigh their nets with for letting them down 
to the bottom to make bullets ! They have 
no money, they only just live by fish- 
ing ; but they have joyfully given up their 
last property, and now are starving. What a 
nation ! 

1 Aufgepasst!' shouted a haughty voice be- 
hind them. The heavy thud of horse's hoofs was 
heard, and an Austrian officer in a short grey 
tunic and a green cap galloped past them 
they had scarcely time to get out of the way. 

Insarov looked darkly after him. 
259 



ON THE EVE 

1 He was not to blame,' said Elena, ' you 
know, they have no other place where they can 
ride.' 

* He was not to blame/ answered Insarov 
1 but he made my blood boil with his shout, 
his moustaches, his cap, his whole appearance. 
Let us go back.' 

' Yes, let us go back, Dmitri. It 's really 
cold here. You did not take care of yourself 
after your Moscow illness, and you had to pay 
for that at Vienna, Now you must be more 
cautious.' 

Insarov did not answer, but the same bitter 
smile passed over his lips. 

* If you like,' Elena went on, ' we will go 
along to the Canal Grande. We have not seen 
Venice properly, you know, all the while we 
have been here. And in the evening we are 
going to the theatre ; I have two tickets for the 
stalls. They say there's a new opera being 
given. If you like, we will give up to-day to 
one another ; we will forget politics and war 
and everything, we will forget everything but 
that we are alive, breathing, thinking together ; 
that we are one for ever would you like that?' 

1 If you would like it, Elena,' answered 
Insarov, ' it follows that I should like it too.' 

* I knew that,' observed Elena with a smile, 
come, let us go.' 

260 



ON THE EVE 

They went back to the gondola, took their 
seats, told the gondolier to take them without 
hurry along the Canal Grande. 

No one who has not seen Venice in April 
knows all the unutterable fascinations of that 
magic town. The softness and mildness of 
spring harmonise with Venice, just as the glar- 
ing sun of summer suits the magnificence of 
Genoa, and as the gold and purple of autumn 
suits the grand antiquity of Rome. The beauty 
of Venice, like the spring, touches the soul 
and moves it to desire ; it frets and tortures 
the inexperienced heart like the promise 
of a coming bliss, mysterious but not elusive. 
Everything in it is bright, and everything is 
wrapt in a drowsy, tangible mist, as it were, 
of the hush of love ; everything in it is so 
silent, and everything in it is kindly ; every- 
thing in it is feminine, from its nams up- 
wards. It has well been given the name of 
'the fair city.' Its masses of palaces and 
churches stand out light and wonderful like 
the graceful dream of a young god ; there 
is something magical, something strange and 
bewitching in the greenish-grey light and 
silken shimmer of the silent water of the 
canals, in the noiseless gliding of the gon- 
dolas, in the absence of the coarse din of a 
town, the coarse rattling, and crashing, and up- 
261 



ON THE EVE 

roar. * Venice is dead, Venice is deserted/ her 
citizens will tell you, but perhaps this last charm 
the charm of decay was not vouchsafed her 
in the very heyday of the flower and majesty 
of her beauty. He who has not seen her, 
knows her not ; neither Canaletto nor Guardi 
(to say nothing of later painters) has been 
able to convey the silvery tenderness of the 
atmosphere, the horizon so close, yet so elusive, 
the divine harmony of exquisite lines and 
melting colours. One who has outlived his 
life, who has been crushed by it, should not 
visit Venice ; she will be cruel to him as the 
memory of unfulfilled dreams of early days ; 
but sweet to one whose strength is at its full, 
who is conscious of happiness ; let him 
bring his bliss under her enchanted skies ; 
and however bright it may be, Venice will 
make it more golden with her unfading 
splendour. 

The gondola in which Insarov and Elena 
were sitting passed Riva dei Schiavoni, the 
palace of the Doges, and Piazzetta, and entered 
the Grand Canal. On both sides stretched 
marble palaces ; they seemed to float softly by, 
scarcely letting the eye seize or absorb their 
beauty. Elena felt herself deeply happy ; in 
the perfect blue of her heavens there was only 
one dark cloud and it was in the far distance ; 
262 



ON THE EVE 

Insarov was much better that day. They 
glided as far as the acute angle of the Rialto 
and turned back. Elena was afraid of the 
chill of the churches for Insarov ; but she 
remembered the academy delle Belle Arti y and 
told the gondolier to go towards it. They 
quickly walked through all the rooms of that 
little museum. Being neither connoisseurs 
nor dilettantes, they did not stop before every 
picture ; they put no constraint on themselves ; 
a spirit of light-hearted gaiety came over them. 
Everything seemed suddenly very entertaining. 
(Children know this feeling very well.) To the 
great scandal of three English visitors, Elena 
laughed till she cried over the St Mark of Tin- 
toretto, skipping down from the sky like a frog 
into the water, to deliver the tortured slave ; 
Insarov in his turn fell into raptures over the 
back and legs of the sturdy man in the green 
cloak, who stands in the foreground of Titian's 
Ascension and holds his arms outstretched after 
the Madonna ; but the Madonna a splendid, 
powerful woman, calmly and majestically 
making her way towards the bosom of God the 
Father impressed both Insarov and Elena ; 
they liked, too, the austere and reverent paint- 
ing of the elder Cima da Conegliano. As they 
were leaving the academy, they took another 
look at the Englishmen behind them with their 
263 



ON THE EVE 

long rabbit-like teeth and drooping whiskers 
and laughed ; they glanced at their gondolier 
with his abbreviated jacket and short breeches 
and laughed ; they caught sight of a woman 
selling old clothes with a knob of grey hair on 
the very top of her head and laughed more 
than ever ; they looked into one another's face 
and went off into peals of laughter, and directly 
they had sat down in the gondola, they clasped 
each other's hand in a close, close grip. They 
reached their hotel, ran into their room, and 
ordered dinner to be brought in. Their gaiety 
did not desert them at dinner. They pressed 
each other to eat, drank to the health of their 
friends in Moscow, clapped their hands at the 
waiter for a delicious dish of fish, and kept 
asking him for live frutti di mare ; the waiter 
shrugged his shoulders and scraped with his 
feet, but when he had left them, he shook his 
head and once even muttered with a sigh, 
poveretti t (poor things 1) After dinner they 
set off for the theatre. 

They were giving an opera of Verdi's, which 
though, honestly speaking, rather vulgar, has 
already succeeded in making the round of all 
the European theatres, an opera, well-known 
among Russians, La Traviata, The season in 
Venice was over, and none of the singers rose 
above the level of mediocrity ; every one 
264 



ON THE EVE 

shouted to the best of their abilities. The 
part of Violetta was performed by an artist, 
of no renown, and judging by the cool recep- 
tion given her by the public, not a favourite, but 
she was not destitute of talent. She was a 
young, and not very pretty, black-eyed girl 
with an unequal and already overstrained voice. 
Her dress was ill-chosen and naively gaudy ; 
her hair was hidden in a red net, her dress of 
faded blue satin was too tight for her, and 
thick Swedish gloves reached up to her 
sharp elbows. Indeed, how could she, the 
daughter of some Bergamese shepherd, know 
how Parisian dames aux camMas dress ! And 
she did not understand how to move on the 
stage ; but there was much truth and artless 
simplicity in her acting, and she sang with that 
passion of expression and rhythm which is only 
vouchsafed to Italians. Elena and Insarov 
were sitting alone together in a dark box 
close to the stage ; the mirthful mood which 
had come upon them in the academy delle 
Belle Arti had not yet passed off. When the 
father of the unhappy young man who had 
fallen into the snares of the enchantress came 
on to the stage in a yellow frock-coat and a 
dishevelled white wig, opened his mouth awry, 
and losing his presence of mind before he had 
begun, only brought out a faint bass tremolo^ 
265 



ON THE EVE 

they almost burst into laughter. . . . But Vio- 
letta's acting impressed them. 

' They hardly clap that poor girl at all,' said 
Elena, ' but I like her a thousand times better 
than some conceited second-rate celebrity who 
would grimace and attitudinise all the while for 
effect. This girl seems as though it were all in 
earnest; look, she pays no attention to the 
public.' 

Insarov bent over the edge of the box, and 
looked attentively at Violetta. 

' Yes/ he commented, she is in earnest ; 
she's on the brink of the grave herself.' 

Elena was mute. 

The third act began. The curtain rose- 
Elena shuddered at the sight of the bed, the 
drawn curtains, the glass of medicine, the 
shaded lamps. She recalled the near past. 
'What of the future? What of the present?' 
flashed across her mind. As though in re- 
sponse to her thought, the artist's mimic 
cough on the stage was answered in the box 
by the hoarse, terribly real cough of Insarov. 
Elena stole a glance at him, and at once gave 
her features a calm and untroubled expression ; 
Insarov understood her, and he began himself 
to smile, and softly to hum the tune of the 
song. 

But he was soon quiet Violetta's acting 
266 



ON THE EVE 

became steadily better, and freer. She had 
thrown aside everything subsidiary, everything 
superfluous, and found herself ; a rare, a lofty 
delight for an artist! She had suddenly 
crossed the limit, which it is impossible to 
define, beyond which is the abiding place of 
beauty. The audience was thrilled and aston- 
ished. The plain girl with the broken voice 
began to get a hold on it, to master it. And 
the singer's voice even did not sound broken 
now; it had gained mellowness and strength 
Alfredo made his entrance ; Violetta's cry of 
happiness almost raised that storm in the 
audience known as fanatismo, beside which 
all the applause of our northern audiences is 
nothing. A brief interval passed and again 
the audience were in transports. The duet 
began, the best thing in the opera, in which the 
composer has succeeded in expressing all the 
pathos of the senseless waste of youth, the final 
struggle of despairing, helpless love. Caught 
up and carried along by the general sympathy, 
with tears of artistic delight and real suffering 
in her eyes, the singer let herself be borne 
along on the wave of passion within her ; her 
face was transfigured, and in the presence of 
the threatening signs of fast approaching death, 
the words : * Lascia mi vivero morir si gio- 
vane' (let me live to die so young!) burst 
267 



ON THE EVE 

from her in such a tempest of prayer rising to 
heaven, that the whole theatre shook with 
frenzied applause and shouts of delight. 

Elena felt cold all over. Softly her hand 
sought . Insarov's, found it, and clasped it 
tightly. He responded to its pressure ; but 
she did not look at him, nor he at her. Very 
different was the clasp of hands with which they 
had greeted each other in the gondola a few 
hours before. 

Again they glided along the Canal Grande 
towards their hotel. Night had set in now, a 
clear, soft night. The same palaces met them, 
but they seemed different. Those that were 
lighted up by the moon shone with pale gold, 
and in this pale light all details of ornaments 
and lines of windows and balconies seemed lost ; 
they stood out more clearly in the buildings 
that were wrapped in a light veil of unbroken 
shadow. The gondolas, with their little red 
lamps, seemed to flit past more noiselessly and 
swiftly than ever ; their steel beaks flashed 
mysteriously, mysteriously their oars rose and 
fell over the ripples stirred by little silvery fish ; 
here and there was heard the brief, subdued call 
of a gondolier (they never sing now) ; scarcely 
another sound was to be heard. The hotel 
where Insarov and Elena were staying was on 
the Riva dei Schiavoni ; before they reached it 
268 



ON THE EVE 

they left the gondola, and walked several times 
round the Square of St. Mark, under the arches, 
where numbers of holiday makers were gathered 
before the tiny cafes. There is a special sweet- 
ness in wandering alone with one you love, in 
a strange city among strangers ; everything 
seems beautiful and full of meaning, you feel 
peace and goodwill to all men, you wish all the 
same happiness that fills your heart. But Elena 
could not now give herself up without a care to 
the sense of her happiness ; her heart could not 
regain its calm after the emotions that had so 
lately shaken it ; and Insarov, as he walked 
by the palace of the Doges, pointed without 
speaking to the mouths of the Austrian can- 
nons, peeping out from the lower arches, and 
pulled his hat down over his eyes. By now he 
felt tired, and, with a last glance at the church 
of St. Mark, at its cupola, where on the bluish 
lead bright patches of phosphorescent light 
shone in the rays of the moon, they turned 
slowly homewards. 

Their little room looked out on to the lagoon, 
which stretches from the Riva dei Schiavoni to 
the Giudecca. Almost facing their hotel rose the 
slender tower of S. George ; high against the sky 
on therightshone the golden ball of the Customs 
House ; and, decked like a bride, stood the love- 
liest of the churches, the Redentore of Palladio ; 
269 



ON THE EVE 

on the left were the black masts and rigging of 
ships, the funnels of steamers ; a half-furled sail 
hung in one place like a great wing, and the 
flags scarcely stirred. Insarov sat down at the 
window, but Elena did not let him admire the 
view for long ; he seemed suddenly feverish, he 
was overcome by consuming weakness. She 
put him to bed, and, waiting till he had fallen 
asleep, she returned to the window. Oh, how 
still and kindly was the night, what dovelike 
softness breathed in the deep-blue air ! Every 
suffering, every sorrow surely must be soothed 
to slumber under that clear sky, under that 
pure, holy light! 'O God/ thought Elena, 
1 why must there be death, why is there separa- 
tion, and disease and tears ? or else, why this 
beauty, this sweet feeling of hope, this soothing 
sense of an abiding refuge, an unchanging sup- 
port, an everlasting protection ? What is the 
meaning of this smiling, blessing sky ; this 
happy, sleeping earth ? Can it be that all that 
is only in us, and that outside us is eternal 
cold and silence ? Can it be that we are alone 
. . . alone . . . and there, on all sides, in all 
those unattainable depths and abysses nothing 
is akin to us ; all, all is strange and apart from 
us? Why, then, have we this desire for, this 
delight in prayer ? ' (Morir si giovane was 
echoing in her heart.) . . . ' Is it impossible, 
270 



ON THE EVE 

then, to propitiate, to avert, to save . . , O 
God ! is it impossible to believe in miracle ? ' 
She dropped her head on to her clasped hands. 
' Enough,' she whispered. Indeed enough ! 
I have been happy not for moments only, 
not for hours, not for whole days even, 
but for whole weeks together. And what 
right had I to happiness ? ' She felt terror 
at the thought of her happiness. 'What, if 
that cannot be ? ' she thought. ' What, if it 
is not granted for nothing? Why, it has 
been heaven . . . and we are mortals, poor 
sinful mortals. . . . Morir si giovane. Oh, 
dark omen, away! It's not only for me his 
life is needed ! 

1 But what, if it is a punishment,' she thought 
again ; ' what, if we must now pay the penalty 
of our guilt in full? My conscience was 
silent, it is silent now, but is that a proof of 
innocence ? O God, can we be so guilty ! 
Canst Thou who hast created this night, this 
sky, wish to punish us for having loved each 
other? If it be so, if he has sinned, if I have 
sinned/ she added with involuntary force, 
'grant that he, O God, grant that we both, 
may die at least a noble, glorious death there, 
on the plains of his country, not here in this 
dark room. 

1 And the grief of my poor, lonely mother ? p 
271 



ON THE EVE 

she asked herself, and was bewildered, and 
could find no answer to her question. Elena 
did not know that every man's happiness is 
built on the unhappiness of another, that even 
his advantage, his comfort, like a statue needs 
a pedestal, the disadvantage, the discomfort of 
others. 

1 Renditch ! ' muttered Insarov in his sleep. 

Elena went up to him on tiptoe, bent over 
him, and wiped the perspiration from his face. 
He tossed a little on his pillow, and was still 
again. 

She went back again to the window, and 
again her thoughts took possession of her. 
She began to argue with herself, to assure 
herself that there was no reason to be afraid. 
She even began to feel ashamed of her weak- 
ness. * Is there any danger ? isn't he better ? ' 
she murmured. * Why, if we had not been at 
the theatre to-day, all this would never have 
entered my head.' 

At that instant she saw high above the water 
a white sea-gull ; some fisherman had scared it, 
it seemed, for it flew noiselessly with uncertain 
course, as though seeking a spot where it could 
alight. * Come, if it flies here/ thought Elena, 
1 it will be a good omen.' . . . The sea-gull flew 
round in a circle, folded its wings, and, as 
though it had been shot, dropped with a plain- 
273 



ON THE EVE 

tive cry in the distance behind a dark ship. 
Elena shuddered ; then she was ashamed of 
having shuddered, and, without undressing, she 
lay down on the bed beside Insarov, who was 
breathing quickly and heavily. 



873 



XXXIV 

INSAROV waked late with a dull pain in his 
head, and a feeling, as he expressed it, of dis- 
gusting weakness all over. He got up however. 

'Renditch has not come?' was his first ques- 
tion. 

c Not yet,' answered Elena, and she handed 
him the latest number of the Osservatore Tries- 
tino, in which there was much upon the war, the 
Slav Provinces, and the Principalities. Insarov 
began reading it ; she busied herself in getting 
some coffee ready for him. Some one knocked 
at the door. 

1 Renditch/ both thought at once, but a voice 
said in Russian, 'May I come in?' Elena and 
Insarov looked at each other in astonishment ; 
and without waiting for an answer, an elegantly 
dressed young man entered the room, with a 
small sharp-featured face, and bright little eyes. 
He was beaming all over, as though he had just 
won a fortune or heard a most delightful piece 
of news. 

274 



ON THE EVE 

Insarov got up from his seat 

You don't recognise me/ began the stranger, 
going up to him with an easy air, and bowing 
politely to Elena, ' Lupoyarov, do you remem- 
ber, we met at Moscow at the E V 

* Yes, at the E 's/ replied Insarov. 

1 To be sure, to be sure ! I beg you to pre- 
sent me to your wife. Madam, I have always 
had the profoundest respect for Dmitri Vassil- 
yevitch' (he corrected himself) 'for Nikanor 
Vassilyevitch, and am very happy to have the 
pleasure at last of making your acquaintance. 
Fancy/ he continued, turning to Insarov, ' I 
only heard yesterday evening that you were 
here. I am staying at this hotel too. What a 
city ! Venice is poetry that 's the only word 
for it ! But one thing 's really awful : the cursed 
Austrians meeting one at every turn ! ah, these 
Austrians ! By the way, have you heard, there 's 
been a decisive battle on the Danube : three 
hundred Turkish officers killed, Silistria taken ; 
Servia has declared its independence. You, as 
a patriot, ought to be in transports, oughtn't 
you ? Even my Slavonic blood 's positively on 
fire ! I advise you to be more careful, though ; 
I 'm convinced there 's a watch kept on you. 
The spies here are something awful ! A sus- 
picious-looking man came up to me yesterday 
and asked : " Are you a Russian ?" I told him 
275 



ON THE EVE 

I was a Dane. But you seem unwell, dear 
Nikanor Vassilyevitch. You ought to see a 
doctor ; madam, you ought to make your hus- 
band see a doctor. Yesterday I ran through 
the palaces and churches, as though I were 
crazy. I suppose you Ve been in the palace of 
the Doges ? What magnificence everywhere ! 
Especially that great hall and Marino Faliero's 
place : there 's an inscription : decapitati pro 
criminibus. I've been in the famous prisons 
too ; that threw me into indignation, you may 
fancy. I've always, you remember perhaps, 
taken an interest in social questions, and taken 
sides against aristocracy well, that 's where I 
should like to send the champions of aristocracy 
to those dungeons. How well Byron said : / 
stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs ; though 
he was an aristocrat too. I was always for pro- 
gress the younger generation are all for pro- 
gress. And what do you say to the Anglo- 
French business ? We shall see whether they 
can do much, Boustrapa and Palmerston. You 
know Palmerston has been made Prime Minister. 
No, say what you like, the Russian fist is not to 
be despised. He's awfully deep that Boustrapa! 
If you like I will lend you Les Chdtiments de 
Victor Hugo it 's marvellous Lavenir y le gen- 
darme de Dieu rather boldly written, but what 
force in it, what force ! That was a fine saying, 
276 



ON THE EVE 

too, of Prince Vyazemsky's : M Europe repeats : 
Bash-Kadik-Lar keeping an eye on Sinope." I 
adore poetry. I have Proudhon's last work, 
too I have everything. I don't know how you 
feel, but I 'm glad of the war ; only as I 'm not 
required at home, I'm going from here to 
Florence, and to Rome. France I can't go to 
so I 'm thinking of Spain the women there, 
I 'm told, are marvellous ! only such poverty, 
and so many insects. I would be off to Cali- 
fornia we Russians are ready to do anything 
but I promised an editor to study the ques- 
tion of the commerce of the Mediterranean in 
detail. You will say that's an uninteresting, 
special subject, but that's just what we need, 
specialists ; we have philosophised enough, now 
we need the practical, the practical. But you 
are very unwell, Nikanor Vassilyevitch, I am 
tiring you, perhaps, but still I must stay a little 
longer.' 

And for a long time Lupoyarov still babbled 
on in the same way, and, as he went away, he 
promised to come again. 

Worn out by the unexpected visit, Insarov 
lay down on the sofa. ' So this,' he said, mourn- 
fully looking at Elena, is your younger genera- 
tion ! There are plenty who show off, and give 
themselves airs, while at heart they are as empty 
chatterboxes as that worthy.' 
277 



ON THE EVE 

Elena made no reply to her husband ; at that 
instant she was far more concerned at Insarov's 
weakness than at the character of the whole 
younger generation in Russia. She sat down 
near him, and took up some work. He closed 
his eyes, and lay without moving, white and 
thin. Elena glanced at his sharp profile, at his 
emaciated hands, and felt a sudden pang of 
terror. 

* Dmitri,' she began. 

He started. 'Eh? Has Renditch come?' 

1 Not yet but what do you think you are 
in a fever, you are really not quite well, shouldn't 
we send for a doctor?' 

'That wretched gossip has frightened you. 
There 's no necessity. I will rest a little, and it 
will pass off. After dinner we will go out again 
somewhere.' 

Two hours passed. Insarov still lay on the 
sofa, but he could not sleep, though he did not 
open his eyes. Elena did not leave his side ; 
she had dropped her work upon her knee, and 
did not stir. 

1 Why don't you go to sleep?' she asked at last. 

1 Wait a little.' He took her hand, and placed 
it under his head. * There that is nice. Wake 
me at once directly Renditch comes. If he says 
the ship is ready, we will start at once, We 
ought to pack everything/ 
278 



ON THE EVE 

c Packing won't take long/ answered Elena. 

1 That fellow babbled something about a battle, 
about Servia,' said Insarov, after a short interval. 
1 1 suppose he made it all up. But we must, we 
must start. We can't lose time. Be ready/ 

He fell asleep, and everything was still in the 
room. 

Elena let her head rest against the back of 
her chair, and gazed a long while out of the 
window. The weather had changed for the 
worse ; the wind had risen. Great white clouds 
were scudding over the sky, a slender mast was 
swaying in the distance, a long streamer, with a 
red cross on it, kept fluttering, falling, and 
fluttering again. The pendulum of the old- 
fashioned clock ticked drearily, with a kind of 
melancholy whirr. Elena shut her eyes. She 
had slept badly all night ; gradually she, too, 
fell asleep. 

She had a strange dream. She thought she 
was floating in a boat on the Tsaritsino lake with 
some unknown people. They did not speak, 
but sat motionless, no one was rowing ; the boat 
was moving by itself. Elena was not afraid, 
but she felt dreary ; she wanted to know who 
were these people, and why she was with them ? 
She looked and the lake grew broader, the 
banks vanished now it was not a lake but a 
stormy sea : immense blue silent waves rocked 
279 



ON THE EVE 

the boat majestically ; something menacing, roar- 
ing was rising from the depths ; her unknown 
companions jumped up, shrieking, wringing their 
hands . . . Elena recognised their faces ; her 
father was among them. But a kind of white 
whirlwind came flying over the waves every- 
thing was turning round, everything was con- 
founded together. 

Elena looked about her ; as before, all around 
was white ; but it was snow, snow, boundless 
plains of snow. And she was not now in a boat, 
but travelling, as she had come from Moscow, in 
a sledge ; she was not alone ; by her side was 
sitting a little creature muffled in an old cloak ; 
Elena looked closely ; it was Katya, her poor 
little friend. Elena was seized with terror. 
' Why, isn't she dead ? ' she thought. 

' Katya, where are we going together ? ' Katya 
did not answer, and nestled herself closer in her 
little cloak ; she was freezing. Elena too was 
cold ; she looked along the road into the 
distance ; far away a town could be seen 
through the fine drifting snow. High white 
towers with silvery cupolas . . . * Katya, Katya, 
is it Moscow ? No,' thought Elena, ' it is Solo- 
vetsky Monastery ; it 's full of little narrow cells 
like a beehive ; it 's stifling, cramping there 
and Dmitri 's shut up there. I must rescue him.' 
. . . Suddenly a grey, yawning abyss opened 
280 



ON THE EVE 

before her. The sledge was falling, Katya was 
laughing. 'Elena, Elena!' came a voice from 
the abyss. 

1 Elena ! ' sounded distinctly in her ears. 
She raised her head quickly, turned round, and 
was stupefied : Insarov, white as snow, the snow 
of her dream, had half risen from the sofa, and 
was staring at her with large, bright, dreadful 
eyes. His hair hung in disorder on his fore- 
head and his lips parted strangely. Horror, 
mingled with an anguish of tenderness, was 
expressed on his suddenly transfigured face. 

' Elena ! ' he articulated, ' I am dying.' 

She fell with a scream on her knees, and 
clung to his breast. 

1 It 's all over,' repeated Insarov: 'I'm dying 
. . . Good-bye, my poor girl ! good-bye, my 
country !' and he fell backwards on to the sofa. 

Elena rushed out of the room, began calling 
for help ; a waiter ran for a doctor. Elena clung 
to Insarov. 

At that instant in the doorway appeared a 
broad-shouldered, sunburnt man, in a stout frieze 
coat and a low oil-skin hat He stood still in 
bewilderment 

1 Renditch ! ' cried Elena, it *s you ! Look, 
for God's sake, he 's ill ! What 's wrong ? Good 
God ! He went out yesterday, he was talking to 
me just now.' 

281 



ON THE EVE 

Renditch said nothing and only moved on 
one side. There slipped quickly past him a 
little figure in a wig and spectacles ; it was a 
doctor living in the same hotel. He went up 
to Insarov. 

'Signora/ he said, after the lapse of a few 
minutes, 'the foreign gentleman is dead il 
Signore forestiere e morle of aneurism in com- 
bination with disease of the lungs.' 



282 



XXXV 

The next day, in the same room, Renditch was 
standing at the window ; before him, wrapped in 
a shawl, sat Elena. In the next room, Insarov 
lay in his coffin. Elena's face was both scared 
and lifeless ; two lines could be seen on her 
forehead between her eyebrows; they gave a 
strained expression to her fixed eyes. In the 
window lay an open letter from Anna Vassil- 
yevna. She begged her daughter to come to 
Moscow if only for a month, complained of her 
loneliness, and of Nikolai Artemyevitch, sent 
greetings to Insarov, inquired after his health, 
and begged him to spare his wife. 

Renditch was a Dalmatian, a sailor, with 
whom Insarov had become acquainted during 
his wanderings in his own country, and whom 
he had sought out in Venice. He was a dry, 
gruff man, full of daring and devoted to the 
Slavonic cause. He despised the Turks and 
hated the Austrians. 

'How long must you remain at Venice?' 
283 



ON THE EVE 

Elena asked him in Italian. And her voice was 
as lifeless as her face. 

'One day for freighting and not to rouse 
suspicions, and then straight to Zara. I shall 
have sad news for our countrymen. They 
have long been expecting him ; they rested 
their hopes on him.' 

'They rested their hopes on him/ Elena 
repeated mechanically. 

' When will you bury him ? ' asked Renditch, 

Elena not at once replied, ' To-morrow.' 

' To-morrow ? I will stop ; I should like to 
throw a handful of earth into his grave. And 
you will want help. But it would have been 
better for him to lie in Slavonic earth/ 

Elena looked at Renditch. 

' Captain/ she said, ' take me and him and 
carry us across to the other side of the sea, 
away from here. Isn't that possible ? ' 

Renditch considered : ' Possible certainly, but 
difficult. We shall have to come into collision 
with the damned authorities here. But suppos- 
ing we arrange all that and bury him there, 
how am I to bring you back ? ' 

' You need not bring me back.' 

1 What ? where will you stop ? ' 

' I shall find some place for myself; only take 
us, take me.' 

Renditch scratched the back of his head. 
284 



ON THE EVE 

c You know best ; but it 's all very difficult. I 
will, I will try ; and you expect me here in two 
hours' time/ 

He went away. Elena passed into the next 
room, leaned against the wall, and for a long 
time stood there as though turned to stone 
Then she dropped on her knees, but she could 
not pray. There was no reproach in her heart ; 
she did not dare to question God's will, to ask 
why He had not spared, pitied, saved, why 
He had punished her beyond her guilt, if she 
were guilty. Each of us is guilty by the fact 
that he lives ; and there is no one so great a 
thinker, so great a benefactor of mankind that 
he might hope to have a right to live for the 
service he has done. . . . Still Elena could not 
pray ; she was a stone. 

The same night a broad-bottomed boat put 
off from the hotel where the Insarovs lived. In 
the boat sat Elena with Renditch and beside 
them stood a long box covered with a black 
cloth. They rowed for about an hour, and at 
last reached a small two-masted ship, which was 
riding at anchor at the very entrance of the 
harbour. Elena and Renditch got into the 
ship ; the sailors carried in the box. At mid- 
night a storm had arisen, but early in the 
morning the ship had passed out of the Lido. 
During the day the storm raged with fearful 
285 



ON THE EVE 

violence, and experienced seamen in Lloyd's 
offices shook their heads and prophesied no 
good. The Adriatic Sea between Venice, 
Trieste, and the Dalmatian coast is particularly- 
dangerous. 

Three weeks after Elena's departure from 
Vienna, Anna Vassilyevna received the follow- 
ing letter in Moscow : 

'My Dear Parents. I am saying good- 
bye to you for ever. You will never see me again. 
Dmitri died yesterday. Everything is over 
for me. To-day I am setting off with his 
body to Zara. I will bury him, and what will 
become of me, I don't know. But now I have 
no country but Dmitri's country. There, they 
are preparing for revolution, they are getting 
ready for war. I will join the Sisters of 
Mercy ; I will tend the sick and the wounded. I 
don't know what will become of me, but even 
after Dmitri's death, I will be faithful to his 
memory, to the work of his whole life. I 
have learnt Bulgarian and Servian. Very 
likely, I shall not have strength to live through 
it all for long so much the better. I have been 
brought to the edge of the precipice and I must 
fall over. Fate did not bring us together for 
nothing ; who knows ? perhaps I killed him ; 
now it is his turn to draw me after him. I 
286 



ON THE EVE 

sought happiness, and I shall find perhaps 
death. It seems it was to be thus : it seems it 
was a sin. . . . But death covers all and recon- 
ciles all ; does it not ? Forgive me all the 
suffering I have caused you ; it was not under 
my control. But how could I return to 
Russia ; What have I to do in Russia ? 

* Accept my last kisses and blessings, and do 
not condemn me R.' 



Nearly five years have passed since then, 
and no further news of Elena has come. All 
letters and inquiries were fruitless ; in vain did 
Nikolai Artemyevitch himself make a journey 
to Venice and to Zara after peace was con- 
cluded. In Venice he learnt what is already 
Known to the reader, but in Zara no one 
jould give him any positive information about 
Renditch and the ship he had taken. There 
were dark rumours that some years back, after a 
great storm, the sea had thrown up on shore a 
coffin in which had been found a man's body 
. . . But according to other more trustworthy 
accounts this coffin had not been thrown up by 
the sea at all, but had been carried over and 
buried near the shore by a foreign lady, coming 
from Venice ; some added that they had seen 
this lady afterwards in Herzegovina, with the 
forces which were there assembled ; they even 
287 



ON THE EVE 

described her dress, black from head to foot 
However it was, all trace of Elena had disap- 
peared beyond recovery for ever ; and no one 
knows whether she is still living, whether she is 
hidden away somewhere, or whether the petty 
drama of life is over the little ferment of her 
existence is at an end ; and she has found death 
in her turn. It happens at times that a man 
wakes up and asks himself with involuntary 
horror, ' Can I be already thirty . . . forty . . . 
fifty ? How is it life has passed so soon ? How 
is it death has moved up so close ? ' Death is 
like a fisher who catches fish in his net and 
leaves them for a while in the water ; the fish 
is still swimming but the net is round him, and 
the fisher will draw him up when he thinks 
fit 

What became of the other characters of our 
story ? 

Anna Vassilyevna is still living; she has 
aged very much since the blow that has fallen 
on her ; is less complaining, but far more 
wretched. Nikolai Artemyevitch, too, has grown 
older and greyer, and has parted from Augustina 
Christian ovna. ... He has taken now to abus- 
ing everything foreign. His housekeeper, a 
handsome woman of thirty, a Russian, wears 
silk dresses and gold rings and bracelets. Kur- 
288 



ON THE EVE 

natovsky, like every man of ardent tempera- 
ment and dark complexion, a devoted admirer 
of pretty blondes, married Zoya ; she is in com- 
plete subjection to him and has even given up 
thinking in German. Bersenyev is in Heidel- 
berg ; he has been sent abroad at the expense 
of government ; he has visited Berlin and Paris 
and is not wasting his time ; he has become a 
thoroughly efficient professor. The attention 
of the learned public has been caught by 
his two articles : * On some peculiarities of 
ancient law as regards judicial sentences,' and 
* On the significance of cities in civilisa- 
tion.' It is only a pity that both articles are 
written in rather a heavy style, disfigured by 
foreign words. Shubin is in Rome ; he is com- 
pletely given up to his art and is reckoned one 
of the most remarkable and promising of young 
sculptors. Severe tourists consider that he has 
not sufficiently studied the antique, that he has 
' no style,' and reckon him one of the French 
school ; he has had a great many orders 
from the English and Americans. Of late, 
there has been much talk about a Bacchante 
of his ; the Russian Count Boboshkin, the well- 
known millionaire, thought of buying it for 
one thousand scudi, but decided in pre- 
ference to give three thousand to another 
sculptor, French pur sang, for a group en- 
289 t 



ON THE EVE 

titled, ' A youthful shepherdess dying for love 
in the bosom of the Genius of Spring.' Shubin 
writes from time to time to Uvar Ivanovitch, 
who alone has remained quite unaltered in 
all respects. 'Do you remember,' he wrote 
to him lately, what you said to me that night, 
when poor Elena's marriage was made known, 
when I was sitting on your bed talking to you ? 
Do you remember I asked you, " Will there ever 
be men among us ? " and you answered " There 
will be." O primeval force ! And now from 
here in "my poetic distance," I will ask you 
again: "What do you say, Uvar Ivanovitch, 
will there be ? " ' 

Uvar Ivanovitch flourished his fingers and 
fixed his enigmatical stare into the far distance. 



Printed by T. and A. Constable, Printers to His Majesty 
at the Edinburgh Unirtrsity Press 



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