Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev.

Liza A nest of nobles online

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and, _en somme_, somewhat ridiculous.

Madame Kalitine arrived, accompanied by Gedeonovsky. Then came Marfa
Timofeevna and Liza, and after them all the other members of the
family. Afterwards, also, there arrived the lover of music, Madame
Belenitsine, a thin little woman, with an almost childish little face,
pretty but worn, a noisy black dress, a particolored fan, and thick
gold bracelets. With her came her husband, a corpulent man, with red
cheeks, large hands and feet, white eyelashes, and a smile which never
left his thick lips. His wife never spoke to him in society; and at
home, in her tender moments, she used to call him her "sucking pig."

Panshine returned; the room became animated and noisy. Such an
assemblage of people was by no means agreeable to Lavretsky. He was
especially annoyed by Madame Belenitsine, who kept perpetually staring
at him through her eye-glass. If it had not been for Liza he would
have gone away at once. He wanted to say a few words to her alone, but
for a long time he could not obtain a fitting opportunity of doing so,
and had to content himself with following her about with his eyes It
was with a secret joy that he did so. Never had her face seemed to
him more noble and charming. She appeared to great advantage in the
presence of Madame Belenitsine. That lady was incessantly fidgeting
on her chair, working her narrow shoulders, laughing affectedly, and
either all but closing her eyes or opening them unnaturally wide. Liza
sat still, looked straight before her, and did not laugh at all.

Madame Kalitine sat down to cards with Marfa Timofeevna, Belenitsine,
and Gedeonovsky, the latter of whom played very slowly, made continual
mistakes, squeezed up his eyes, and mopped his face with his
handkerchief. Panshine assumed an air of melancholy, and expressed
himself tersely, sadly, and significantly - altogether after the
fashion of an artist who has not yet had any opportunity of showing
off - but in spite of the entreaties of Madame Belenitsine, who
coquetted with him to a great extent he would not consent to sing his
romance. Lavretsky's presence embarrassed him.

Lavretsky himself spoke little, but the peculiar expression his face
wore struck Liza as soon as he entered the room. She immediately felt
that he had something to communicate to her; but, without knowing
herself why, she was afraid of asking him any questions. At last,
as she was passing into the next room to make the tea, she almost
unconsciously looked towards him. He immediately followed her.

"What is the matter with you?" she asked, putting the teapot on the

[Footnote A: Urn.]

"You have remarked something, then?" he said.

"You are different to-day from what I have seen you before."

Lavretsky bent over the table.

"I wanted," he began, "to tell you a piece of news, but just now it is
impossible. But read the part of this _feuilleton_ which is marked in
pencil," he added, giving her the copy of the newspaper he had
brought with him. "Please keep the secret; I will come back to-morrow

Liza was thoroughly amazed. At that moment Panshine appeared in the
doorway. She put the newspaper in her pocket.

"Have you read Obermann,[A] Lizaveta Mikhailovna?" asked Panshine with
a thoughtful air.

[Footnote A: The sentimental romance of that name, written by E.
Pivert de Sénancour.]

Liza replied vaguely as she passed out of the room, and then went
up-stairs. Lavretsky returned into the drawing room and approached the
card table. Marfa Timofeevna flushed, and with her cap-strings untied,
began to complain to him of her partner Gedeonovsky, who, according
to her, had not yet learnt his steps. "Card-playing," she said,
"is evidently a very different thing from gossiping." Meanwhile
Gedeonovsky never left off blinking and mopping himself with his

Presently Liza returned to the drawing-room and sat down in a corner.
Lavretsky looked at her and she at him, and each experienced a painful
sensation. He could read perplexity on her face, and a kind of secret
reproach. Much as he wished it, he could not get a talk with her, and
to remain in the same room with her as a mere visitor among other
visitors was irksome to him, so he determined to go away.

When taking leave of her, he contrived to repeat that he would come
next day, and he added that he counted on her friendship. "Come," she
replied, with the same perplexed look still on her face.

After Lavretsky's departure, Panshine grew animated. He began to give
advice to Gedeonovsky, and to make mock love to Madame Belenitsine,
and at last he sang his romance. But when gazing at Liza, or talking
to her, he maintained the same air as before, one of deep meaning,
with a touch of sadness in it.

All that night also, Lavretsky did not sleep. He was not unhappy, he
was not agitated; on the contrary, he was perfectly calm; but he could
not sleep. He was not even recalling the past. He simply looked at his
present life. His heart beat firmly and equably, the hours flew by, he
did not even think about sleeping. Only at times there came into his
head the thought, "Surely this is not true, this is all nonsense." And
then he would stop short, and presently let his head fall back and
again betake himself to gazing into the stream of his life.


Madame Kalitine did not receive Lavretsky over cordially, when he paid
her a visit next day. "Ah! he's making a custom of it," she thought.
She was not of herself disposed to like him very much, and Panshine,
who had got her thoroughly under his influence, had praised him the
evening before in a very astutely disparaging manner. As she did not
treat him as an honored guest, nor think it necessary to trouble
herself about one who was a relation, almost a member of the family
circle, before half an hour had elapsed he went out into the garden.
There he and Liza strolled along one of the alleys, while Lenochka
and Shurochka played around the flower-pots at a little distance from

Liza was as quiet as usual, but more than usually pale. She took
the folded leaf of the newspaper from her pocket, and handed it to

"That is terrible news," she said.

Lavretsky made no reply.

"But, after all, perhaps it may not be true."

"That is why I asked you not to mention it to any one."

Liza walked on a little farther.

"Tell me," she began, "are not you sorry? - not at all sorry?"

"I don't know myself what I feel," answered Lavretsky.

"But you loved her once?"

"I did."

"Very much?"

- "Yes."

"And yet you are not sorry for her death?"

"It is not only now that she has become dead for me."

"You are saying what is sinful. Don't be angry with me. You have
called me your friend. A friend may say anything. And it really seems
terrible to me. The expression on your face yesterday was not good to
see. Do you remember your complaining about her not long ago? And at
that very time, perhaps, she was already no longer among the
living. It is terrible. It is just as if it had been sent you as a

Lavretsky laughed bitterly.

"You think so? - at all events I am free now."

Liza shuddered.

"Do not speak so any more. What use is your freedom to you? You should
not be thinking of that now, but of forgiveness - "

"I forgave her long ago," interrupted Lavretsky, with an impatient

"No, I don't mean that," answered Liza, reddening; "you have not
understood me properly. It is you who ought to strive to get

"Who is there to pardon me?"

"Who? Why God. Who can pardon us except God?"

Lavretsky grasped her hand.

"Ah! Lizaveta Mikhailovna!" he exclaimed, "believe me, I have already
been punished enough - I have already expiated all, believe me."

"You cannot tell that," said Liza, in a low voice. "You forget. It was
not long ago that you and I were talking, and you were not willing to
forgive her."

Both of them walked along the alley for a time in silence.

"And about your daughter?" suddenly asked Liza, and then stopped

Lavretsky shuddered.

"Oh! don't disturb yourself about her. I have already sent off letters
in all directions. The future of my daughter, as you - as you say - is
assured. You need not trouble yourself on that score."

Liza smiled sadly.

"But you are right," continued Lavretsky. "What am I to do with my
freedom - what use is it to me?"

"When did you get this paper?" asked Liza, without answering his

"The day after your visit."

"And have not you - have not you even shed a tear?"

"No; I was thunderstruck. But whither should I look for tears? Should
I cry over the past? Why, all mine has been, as it were, consumed with
fire. Her fault did not actually destroy my happiness; it only proved
to me that for me happiness had never really existed. What, then, had
I to cry for? Besides - who knows? - perhaps I should have been more
grieved if I had received this news a fortnight sooner."

"A fortnight!" replied Liza. "But what can have happened to make such
a difference in that fortnight?"

Lavretsky make no reply at first, and Liza suddenly grew still redder
than before.

"Yes, yes! you have guessed it!" unexpectedly cried Lavretsky. "In the
course of that fortnight I have learnt what a woman's heart is like
when it is pure and clear; and my past life seems even farther off
from me than it used to be."

Liza became a little uncomfortable, and slowly turned to where
Lenochka and Shurochka were in the flower-garden.

"But I am glad I showed you that newspaper," said Lavretsky, as he
followed her. "I have grown accustomed to conceal nothing from you,
and I hope you will confide in me equally in return."

"Do you really?" said Liza, stopping still. "In that case, I ought.
But, no! it is impossible."

"What is it? Tell me - tell me!"

"I really think I ought not. - However," added Liza, turning to
Lavretsky with a smile, "what is the good of a half-confidence? Do you
know, I received a letter to-day?"

"From Panshine?"

"Yes, from him. How did you guess that?"

"And he asks for your hand?"

"Yes," replied Liza, looking straight at Lavretsky with serious eyes.

Lavretsky, in his turn, looked seriously at Liza.

"Well, and what answer have you made him?" he said at last.

"I don't know what to answer," replied Liza, unfolding her arms, and
letting them fall by her side.

"Why? Do you like him?"

"Yes, I like him; I think he is a good man."

"That is just what you told me three days ago, and in the very same
words. But what I want to know is, do you love him - love him with that
strong, passionate feeling which we usually call 'love'?"

"In the sense in which you understand the word - No."

"You are not in love with him?"

"No. But is that necessary?"

"How do you mean?"

"Mamma likes him," continued Liza. "He is good: I have no fault to
find with him."

"But still you waver?"

"Yes - and, perhaps - you, your words are the cause of that. Do you
remember what you said the day before yesterday? But all that is
weakness - "

"Oh, my child!" suddenly exclaimed Lavretsky, and his voice trembled
as he spoke, "don't be fatally wise - don't stigmatize as weakness the
cry of your heart, unwilling to give itself away without love! Do not
take upon yourself so fearful a responsibility towards that man, whom
you do not love, and yet to whom you would be about to belong."

"I shall only be obeying; I shall be taking nothing upon myself,"
began Liza.

"Obey your own heart, then. It only will tell you the truth," said
Lavretsky, interrupting her. "Wisdom, experience - all that is mere
vanity and vexation. Do not deprive yourself of the best, the only
real happiness upon earth."

"And do you speak in that way. Fedor Ivanovich? You married for love
yourself - and were you happy?"

Lavretsky clasped his hands above his head.

"Ah! do not talk about me. You cannot form any idea of what a young,
inexperienced, absurdly brought-up boy may imagine to be love.
However, why should one calumniate one's self? I told you just now I
had never known happiness. No! I have been happy."

"I think, Fedor Ivanovich," said Liza, lowering her voice - she always
lowered her voice when she differed from the person she was speaking
to; besides, she felt considerably agitated just then - "our happiness
upon earth does not depend upon ourselves - "

"It does depend upon ourselves - upon ourselves:" here he seized both
her hands. Liza grew pale and looked at him earnestly, but almost with
alarm - "at least if we do not ruin our own lives. For some people a
love match may turn out unhappily, but not for you, with your calmness
of temperament; with your serenity of soul. I do beseech you not to
marry without love, merely from a feeling of duty, self-denial, or
the like. All that is sheer infidelity, and moreover a matter of
calculation - and worse still. Trust my words. I have a right to say
this; a right for which I have paid dearly. And if your God - "

At that moment Lavretsky became aware that Lenochka and Shurochka
were standing by Liza's side, and were staring at him with intense
astonishment. He dropped Liza's hands, saying hastily, "Forgive me,"
and walked away towards the house.

"There is only one thing I have to ask you," he said, coming back to
Liza. "Don't make up your mind directly, but wait a little, and think
over what I have said to you. And even if you don't believe my words,
but are determined to marry in accordance with the dictates of mere
prudence - even, in that case, Mr. Panshine is not the man you ought
to marry. He must not be your husband. You will promise me not to be
hasty, won't you?"

Liza wished to reply, but she could not utter a single word. Not that
she had decided on being "hasty" - but because her heart beat too
strongly, and a feeling resembling that of fear impeded her breathing.


As Lavretsky was leaving the Kalitines' house he met Panshine, with
whom he exchanged a cold greeting. Then he went home and shut himself
up in his room. The sensations he experienced were such as he had
hardly ever known before. Was it long ago that he was in a condition
of "peaceful torpor?" Was it long ago that he felt himself, as he had
expressed it, "at the very bottom of the river?" What then had changed
his condition? What had brought him to the surface, to the light of
day? Was the most ordinary and inevitable, though always unexpected,
of occurrences - death? Yes. But yet it was not so much his wife's
death, his own freedom, that he was thinking about, as this - what
answer will Liza give to Panshine?

He felt that in the course of the last three days he had begun to look
on Liza with different eyes. He remembered how, when he was returning
home and thinking of her in the silence of the night, he said to
himself "If! - " This "if," by which at that time he had referred to
the past, to the impossible, now applied to an actual state of things,
but not exactly such a one as he had then supposed. Freedom by itself
was little to him now. "She will obey her mother," he thought. "She
will marry Panshine. But even if she refuses him - will it not be just
the same as far as I am concerned?" Passing at that moment in front of
a looking-glass, he just glanced at his face in it, and then shrugged
his shoulders.

Amid such thoughts as these the day passed swiftly by. The evening
arrived, and Lavretsky went to the Kalitines. He walked fast until he
drew near to the house, but then he slackened his pace. Panshine's
carriage was standing before the door. "Well," thought Lavretsky,
as he entered the house, "I will not be selfish." No one met him
in-doors, and all seemed quiet in the drawing-room. He opened the
door, and found that Madame Kalitine was playing piquet with Panshine.
That gentleman bowed to him silently, while the lady of the house
exclaimed, "Well, this is an unexpected pleasure," and slightly
frowned. Lavretsky sat down beside her and began looking at her cards.

"So you can play piquet?" she asked, with a shade of secret vexation
in her voice, and then remarked that she had thrown away a wrong card.

Panshine counted ninety, and began to take up the tricks calmly and
politely, his countenance the while wearing a grave and dignified
expression. It was thus, he thought, that diplomatists ought to play.
It was thus, in all probability, that he used to play with some
influential dignitary at St. Petersburg, whom he wished to impress
with a favorable idea of his solidity and perspicacity. "One hundred
and one, hundred and two, heart, hundred and three," said the
measured tones of his voice, and Lavretsky could not tell which it
expressed - dislike or assurance.

"Can't I see Marfa Timofeevna?" asked Lavretsky, observing that
Panshine, with a still more dignified air than before, was about to
shuffle the cards; not even a trace of the artist was visible in him

"I suppose so. She is up-stairs in her room," answered Maria
Dmitrievna. "You can ask for her."

Lavretsky went up-stairs. He found Marfa Timofeevna also at cards. She
was playing at _Durachki_ with Nastasia Carpovna. Roska barked at
him, but both the old ladies received him cordially. Marfa Timofeevna
seemed in special good humor.

"Ah, Fedia!" she said, "do sit down, there's a good fellow. We shall
have done our game directly. Will you have some preserves? Shurochka,
give him a pot of strawberries. You won't have any? Well, then, sit
there as you are. But as to smoking, you mustn't. I cannot abide your
strong tobacco; besides, it would make Matros sneeze."

Lavretsky hastened to assure her that he had not the slightest desire
to smoke.

"Have you been down-stairs?" asked the old lady. "Whom did you find
there? Is Panshine always hanging about there? But did you see Liza?
No? She was to have come here. Why there she is - as soon as one
mentions her."

Liza came into the room, caught sight of Lavretsky and blushed.

"I have only come for a moment, Marfa Timofeevna," she was beginning.

"Why for a moment?" asked the old lady. "Why are all you young people
so restless? You see I have a visitor there. Chat a little with him,
amuse him."

Liza sat down on the edge of a chair, raised her eyes to Lavretsky,
and felt at once that she could not do otherwise than let him know how
her interview with Panshine had ended. But how was that to be managed?
She felt at the same time confused and ashamed. Was it so short a time
since she had become acquainted with that man, one who scarcely ever
went to church even, and who bore the death of his wife so equably?
and yet here she was already communicating her secrets to him. It
was true that he took an interest in her; and that, on her side she
trusted him, and felt herself drawn towards him. But in spite of all
this, she felt a certain kind of modest shame - as if a stranger had
entered her pure maiden chamber.

Marfa Timofeevna came to her rescue.

"Well, if you will not amuse him," she said, "who is to amuse him,
poor fellow? I am too old for him; he is too clever for me; and as to
Nastasia Carpovna, he is too old for her. It's only boys she cares

"How can I amuse Fedor Ivanovich?" said Liza. "I would rather play him
something on the piano, if he likes," she continued irresolutely.

"That's capital. You're a clever creature," replied Marfa Timofeevna.
"Go down-stairs, my dears. Come back again when you've clone; but just
now, here I'm left the _durachka_,[A] so I'm savage. I must have my

[Footnote A: In the game of _durachki_, the player who remains the
last is called the _durachok_ or _durachka_, diminutive of _durak_,
a fool. The game somewhat resembles our own "Old Bachelor" or "Old

Liza rose from her chair, and so did Lavretsky. As she was going
down-stairs, Liza stopped.

"What they say is true," she began. "The human heart is full of
contradictions. Your example ought to have frightened me - ought to
have made me distrust marrying for love, and yet I - ".

"You've refused him?" said Lavretsky, interrupting her.

"No; but I have not accepted him either. I told him every thing - all
my feelings on the subject - and I asked him to wait a little. Are you
satisfied?" she asked with a sudden smile: and letting her hand skim
lightly along the balustrade, she ran down-stairs.

"What shall I play you?" she asked, as she opened the piano.

"Whatever you like," answered Lavretsky, taking a seat where he could
look at her.

Liza began to play, and went on for some time with-out lifting her
eyes from her fingers. At last she looked at Lavretsky, and stopped
playing. The expression of his face seemed so strange and unusual to

"What is the, matter?" she asked.

"Nothing," he replied. "All is well with me at present. I feel happy
on your account; it makes me glad to look at you - do go on."

"I think," said Liza, a few minutes later, "if he had really loved me
he would not have written that letter; he ought to have felt that I
could not answer him just now."

"That doesn't matter," said Lavretsky; "what does matter is that you
do not love him."

"Stop! What is that you are saying? The image of your dead wife is
always haunting me, and I feel afraid of you."

"Doesn't my Liza play well, Woldemar?" Madame Kalitine was saying at
this moment to Panshine.

"Yes," replied Panshine, "exceedingly well."

Madame Kalitine looked tenderly at her young partner; but he assumed a
still more important and pre-occupied look, and called fourteen kings.


Lavretsky was no longer a very young man. He could not long delude
himself as to the nature of the feeling with which Liza had inspired
him. On that day he became finally convinced that he was in love with
her. That conviction did not give him much pleasure.

"Is it possible," he thought, "that at five-and-thirty I have nothing
else to do than to confide my heart a second time to a woman's
keeping? But Liza is not like _her_. She would not have demanded
humiliating sacrifices from me. She would not have led me astray from
my occupations. She would have inspired me herself with a love for
honorable hard work, and we should have gone forward together towards
some noble end. Yes," he said, bringing his reflections to a close,
"all that is very well. But the worst of it is that she will not go
anywhere with me. It was not for nothing that she told me she was
afraid of me. And as to her not being in love with Panshine - that is
but a poor consolation!"

Lavretsky went to Vasilievskoe; but he could not manage to spend even
four days there - so wearisome did it seem to him. Moreover, he was
tormented by suspense. The news which M. Jules had communicated
required confirmation, and he had not yet received any letters. He
returned to town, and passed the evening at the Kalitines'. He could
easily see that Madame Kalitine had been set against him; but he
succeeded in mollifying her a little by losing some fifteen roubles to
her at piquet. He also contrived to get half-an-hour alone with Liza,
in spite of her mother having recommended her, only the evening
before, not to be too intimate with a man "_qui a tin si grand

He found a change in her. She seemed to have become more
contemplative. She blamed him for stopping away; and she asked him if
he would not go to church the next day - the next day being Sunday.

"Do come," she continued, before he had time to answer. "We will pray
together for the repose of _her_ soul." Then she added that she did
not know what she ought to do - that she did not know whether she had
any right to make Panshine wait longer for her decision.

"Why?" asked Lavretsky.

"Because," she replied, "I begin to suspect by this time what that
decision will be."

Then she said that she had a headache, and went to her room, after
irresolutely holding out the ends of her fingers to Lavretsky.

The next day Lavretsky went to morning service. Liza was already in
the church when he entered. He remarked her, though she did not look
towards him. She prayed fervently; her eyes shone with a quiet light;
quietly she bowed and lifted her head.

He felt that she was praying for him also, and a strange emotion
filled his soul. The people standing gravely around, the familiar
faces, the harmonious chant, the odor of the incense, the long rays
slanting through the windows, the very sombreness of the walls and
arches - all appealed to his heart. It was long since he had been in
church - long since he had turned his thoughts to God. And even now he
did not utter any words of prayer - he did not even pray without words;

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