THE NOVELS OF
THE NOVELS OF
A HOUSE OF GENTLEFOLK.
ON THE EVE.
FATHERS AND CHILDREN.
VI. & VII.
VIRGIN SOIL. 2 vols.
VIII. & IX.
A SPORTSMAN'S SKETCHES. 2Vols.
DREAM TALES AND PROSE POEMS.
THE TORRENTS OF SPRING, ETC.
A LEAR OF THE STEPPES.
THE DIARY OF A SUPERFLUOUS
A DESPERATE CHARACTER, ETC.
THE JEW, ETC.
NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN
THE NOVELS OF IVAN TURGENEV
ON THE EVE
TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN
i . "8 -Si
NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN
Printed in Great Britain
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
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,
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.
THE NAMES OF THE CHARACTERS
IN THE BOOK
Nikolai [Nicolas] Artemyevitch Stahov.
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.
In transcribing the Russian names into English
a has the sound of a in father,
c a in pane.
y is always consonantal except when it is
the last letter of the word.
g is always hard.
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
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 ? '
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
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
4 Which one ? '
' The boy with the goat/
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-
'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-
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,
' Speaking of women,' Shubin began again,
' how is it no one looks after Stahov ? Did you
see him in Moscow?'
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
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-
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
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
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
* 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
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
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 ? '
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 ! '
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,'
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
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
'And what, for instance?' asked Shubin,
' 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.'
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.'
' 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
* Who is Insarov ? Ah, to be sure, isn't it
that Servian or Bulgarian you were telling me
ON THE EVE
about ? The patriot ? Now isn't it he who *s at
the bottom of all these philosophical ideas ? '
* Is he an exceptional individual?'
'Clever talented I don't know, I don't
' Not ? Then, what is there remarkable in
' 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.
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-
' 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
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
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
'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
The young girl to whom this exclamation re-
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
' 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
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-
'O Lord!' groaned Shubin, rolling his eyes
upwards ; and Bersenyev smiled quietly.
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.
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-
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
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
ON THE EVE
Nikolai Artemyevitch never suspected that
Augustina Christianovna, in letters to her
cousin, Theodolina Peterzelius, called him Mein
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,
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
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.
'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
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
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-
1 La derriiere pensfo de Weber t * suggested
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
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
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
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
4 You want to be a professor of history?'
'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
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.' . . .
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
ON THE EVE
Shubin stared at her, and suddenly burst out
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
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
' 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
Bersenyev took Elena's arm in his, and
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
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
* 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
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.
ON THE EVE
Bersenyev shrugged his shoulders and turned
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
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 ? '
* 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
'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
'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
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.
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,
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.'
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
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-
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,
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-
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
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
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-
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
' 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
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
ON THE EVE
house near Kuntsovo, very cheap and very
roomy. In fact there is a room to spare
| 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
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
Insarov said nothing. Bersenyev began to
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 ?*
'Then one may reckon that one room costs (
1 Yes, one may reckon so. . . . But really it 's
utterly unnecessary for me. It simply stands
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-
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
'Otherwise it's impossible, Andrei Petro-
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
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.
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-
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.
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
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
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
' Good Heavens, Paul must apologise to
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.'
ON THE EVE
'The treatment is quite indispensable,
observed Nikolai Artemyevitch, 'my liver is
At that instant Shubin came in. He looked
tired. A slight almost ironical smile played on
' You asked for me, Anna Vassilyevna ? ' he
'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
ON THE EVE
Shubin's eyes. ' However, I will readily for-
give you, for, as you know, I am not an exact-
' 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-
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
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
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
'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 ? '
ON THE EVE
'How! you are young, be respectful. Yes.
* Respectful to whom ? '
' To whom ? You know whom. Ay, grin
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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-
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 ! " '
* 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
* 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
ON THE EVE
unjust. I was not even thinking of avoiding
'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
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.'
' 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
ON THE EVE
seems to me that even your repentance amuses
you yes and your tears too.'
'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 :
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.
' 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,
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.
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
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
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
ON THE EVE
* Tell me/ Elena asked him, * were there any
remarkable men among your comrades ? '
Bersenyev was again reminded of Shubin's
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
'What is his name?' Elena inquired with
. g v ' Insarov Dmitri Nikanorovitch. He is a
% 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
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
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
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-
* What then ? ' broke in Elena.
1 What God wills. It 's hard to forecast the
For a while Elena did not take her eyes off
' 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,
' What shall I say ? To my mind, he 's good-
ON THE EVE
looking. But you will see him for your-
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
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
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,'
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.'
ON THE EVE
' And isn't he shy ? ' asked Elena again.
* No, he 's not shy. It 's only vain people who
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 ? '
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
In the ninth century ? ' cried Shubin. * Oh,
how delightful ! '
Bersenyev noticed that among all his pranks,
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-
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.
'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
' 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.'
ON THE EVE
s I didn't ask your opinion about that/ com-
mented Elena, getting up.
* Is Mr. Insarov a young man?' asked
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
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
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
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
1 You must go and see them a little oftener,'
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
ON THE EVE
to you in secret, as Max went to Agatha
I absolutely must say a few words to you
* 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
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
* 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
'You may laugh ! I came here because I'm
at my wits' end, because I am devoured by
despair, anger, jealousy.'
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
' 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
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/
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
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
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
1 Fancy,' he began with a constrained smile, i
'our Insarov has disappeared.'
Disappeared ? ' said Elena.
' He has disappeared. The day before yes-
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 ?'
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
' 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
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
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
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
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*
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
'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
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
' 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
* Yes,' she said decisively.
I What did you think of me ? ' he asked her
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.'
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
'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
ON THE EVE
make it up later. Our time does not belong
' 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.
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
'That remains to be shown,' he answered.
1 When one of us dies for her, then one can say
he loved his country.'
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
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
ON THE EVE
lands ; the unclean Turks drive us like cattle,
butcher us '
' Dmitri Nikanorovitch ! cried Elena.
' 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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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-
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
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
' Mischievous things, young people,' Anna
Vassilyevna observed gaily to Uvar Ivano-
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
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
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.
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
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-
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
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
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
' Bonzkoor, madame] he said thickly, ' how are
Anna Vassilyevna started back.
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
Insarov was about to step forward, but
Shubin stopped him, and himself screened
* 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
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-
'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
'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.'
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
'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,
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-
' 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
ON THE EVE
standing with his legs apart on the bank,
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,
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 ;
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
* 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'
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
* . . 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
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
1 Ah, I feel one needs unhappiness, or
poverty or sickness, or else one gets conceited
'. . . 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
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
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
'. . . 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
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
* 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
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
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
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
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
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
Bersenyev looked at him intently.
' I know,' he said at last, ' there 's no per-
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
'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
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
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
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-
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
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
Again Insarov bowed, but said nothing.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
ON THE EVE
off on her way. Elena stared after her in
bewilderment. 'What does this mean?' she
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
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-
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
* No . . . not from your house/
'No?* repeated Elena, and she tried to
ON THE EVE
smile. * Is that how you keep your promises ?
I have been expecting you ever since the
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
'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 ? '
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-
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
' No, I can't. Good-bye/ And he moved
away to the entrance of the chapel.
'Wait a little longer/ said Elena. 'You
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,
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
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
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,
* 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
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 ! '
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,
'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,
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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
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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
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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
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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
' 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
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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.
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-
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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
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.
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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
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
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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
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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
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.'
* If that 's what it is, I will spare your scare-
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
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
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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
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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.
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
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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
1 What is it ? ' she cried, directly the door was
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
'Who is it?'
1 Kurnatovsky, Yegor Andreyevitch. You
ON THE EVE
don't know him. The head secretary in the
1 He is to dine with us to-day ? '
* 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
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-
'And I make no complaint against you,
' 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
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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
'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
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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-
'His father? His father is a man well-
known in his own line, of the highest moral
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character, un vrai stoicien, a retired major, I
think, overseer of all the estates of the Count
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
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
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
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
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and sent up his name. This was Yegor
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
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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
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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
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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 ! '
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
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
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
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*
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
* Sit down/ she said, not lifting her eyes to
him and motioning him to a place beside
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
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 ? '
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
Insarov came close to her and fondly
touched her waist. She turned suddenly to
him, smiled brightly at him and leant against
* Those letters are from Bulgaria, Elena ;
my friends write to me, they want me to
' 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,
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?
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
' 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
' 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
'Well, that's not much/ observed Insarov;
' but everything *s a help.'
* But I can get more. I will borrow. I will
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
1 Money 's not the chief difficulty, Elena ;
the passport ; your passport, how about
1 Yes, how about it ? Is a passport absolutely
necessary ? '
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
Elena pushed back the hair that fell over on
1 Dmitri ! how glorious it will be for us
two to set off together ! '
ON THE EVE
'Yes,' said Insarov, 'but there, when we get
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
' 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-
'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
ON THE EVE
least we shall see each other. Good-bye. Let
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
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.
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-
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,
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.
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 ? '
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.
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
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.
'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
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
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
ON THE EVE
sent for too late ; still we will do all that science
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
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-
ON THE EVE
like at the same time, was immovable, and his
hands lay powerless. 'I won't,' he repeated,
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
And after the crisis ? ' asked Bersenyev.
'The crisis may end in two ways, ant Ccesar
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.
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
'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
At that instant Insarov uttered a slight
moan ; she trembled all over, clutched at her
head, then began untying the strings of her
ON THE EVE
* What are you doing ? ' Bersenyev asked
' 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
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
* 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-
I He will die without me/ she cried, wringing
* 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
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
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
1 Who is here ? ' he heard Insarov's voice.
Bersenyev went up to him. ' I am here, Dmitri
ON THE EVE
Nikanorovitch. How are you? How do yon
1 Are you alone ? ' asked the sick man.
'Whom do you mean?' Bersenyev asked
almost in dismay.
Insarov was silent. ' Mignonette,' he mur-
mured, and his eyes closed again.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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,
ON THE EVE
and, adding two or three words more, he quickly
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,'
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
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.
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
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
ON THE EVE
I am guilty towards you? I hinder you, I
'You don't stop me, Elena; we will go
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 ? '
ON THE EVE
He was silent for a little. ' And Bersenyev
was here ? '
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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 ;
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-
' 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 . . .
She was trembling all over. ' Take me, then;
she whispered scarcely above her breath.
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
'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
' She must be knitting stockings for her-
self ; for herself not for you.'
* You may laugh, you may laugh ; but I tel!
ON THE EVE
you I know no woman like her. Such honesty-
1 Has she cashed that bill yet ? ' inquired
' 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
1 You 're eloquent as Pythagoras/ remarked
Shubin ; ' but do you know what I would advise
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-
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
* No principles ! By the way, I 'm told your
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
' What of it ? We were playing high. Of
course, I might expect but they under-
stand so little how to appreciate him in this
* 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-
'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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
'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
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
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
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
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.
' My husband,' repeated Elena ; ' I am married
to Dmitri Nikanorovitch Insarov.'
* You ? married ?' was all Anna Vassilyevna
'Yes, mamma. . . . Forgive me. A fort-
night ago, we were secretly married.'
Anna Vassilyevna fell back in her chair;
ON THE EVE
Nikolai Artemyevitch stepped two paces
' 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.'
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
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
ON THE EVE
Uvar Ivanovitch's feet was sitting Shubin in a
'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
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
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
'What is there to know? a man to be
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.'
ON THE EVE
'A youthful affair/ responded Uvar Ivano-
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?
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.'
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.
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
* 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 ? '
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-
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 :
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.
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
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
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
'Come, Elena/ began Insarov, turning to his
wife, * I think everything is done ? Everything
paid, and everything packed. There 's nothing
ON THE EVE
more except to take the box down.' He called
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
ON THE EVE
1 He was not to blame,' said Elena, ' you
know, they have no other place where they can
* 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
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.'
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-
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
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 ;
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
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
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^
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
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
But he was soon quiet Violetta's acting
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
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
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
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
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 ;
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,
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
1 And the grief of my poor, lonely mother ? p
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
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
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-
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.
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-
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
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
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,
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
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.'
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
* 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
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/
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
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,
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
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-
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
ON THE EVE
before her. The sledge was falling, Katya was
laughing. 'Elena, Elena!' came a voice from
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
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
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.'
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
'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.'
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?'
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
' 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.
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
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
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-
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
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
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
What became of the other characters of our
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-
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-
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
University of Toronto
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