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the garden has got on wonderfully. The modest
little plants of lilac, acacia, and honeysuckle
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(do you remember, we planted them together?)
have grown into splendid, thick bushes. The
birches, the maples — all that has spread out and
grown tall ; the avenues of lime-trees are par-
ticularly fine. I love those avenues, I love the
tender grey, green colour, and the delicate
fragrance of the air under their arching boughs ;
I love the changing network of rings of light
on the dark earth — there is no sand here, you
know. My favourite oak sapling has grown
into a young oak tree. Yesterday I spent more
than an hour in the middle of the day on a
garden bench in its shade. I felt very happy.
All about me the grass was deliciously luxuriant ;
a rich, soft, golden light lay upon everything ; it
made its way even into the shade . . . and the
birds one could hear ! You Ve not forgotten, 1
expect, that birds are a passion of mine ? The
turtle-doves cooed unceasingly; from time to
time there came the whistle of the oriole ; the
chaffinch uttered its sweet little refrain ; the
blackbirds quarrelled and twittered ; the cuckoo
called far away; suddenly, like a mad thing,
the woodpecker uttered its shrill cry. I listened
and listened to this subdued, mingled sound,
and did not want to move, while my heart
was full of something between languor and
tenderness.

And it 's not only the garden that has grown
up : I am continually coming across sturdy,
thick-set lads, whom I cannot recognise as the

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little boys I used to know in old days. Your
favourite, Timosha, has turned into a Timofay,
such as you could never imagine. You had
fears in those days for his health, and predicted
consumption ; but now you should just see his
huge, red hands, as they stick out from the
narrow sleeves of his nankeen coat, and the stout
rounded muscles that stand out all over him !
He has a neck like a bull's, and a head all over
tight, fair curls — a regular Farnese Hercules.
His face, though, has changed less than the
others* ; it is not even much larger in circum-
ference, and the good-humoured, 'gaping' — as
you used to say — ^smile has remained the same.
I have taken him to be my valet ; I got rid of
my Petersburg fellow at Moscow ; he was really
too fond of putting me to shame, and making
me feel the superiority of his Petersburg man-
ners. Of my dogs I have not found one ; they
have all passed away. Nefka lived longer than
any of them — and she did not live till my return,
as Argos lived till the return of Ulysses; she was
not fated to look once more with her lustreless
eyes on her master and companion in the chase.
But Shavka is all right, and barks as hoarsely as
ever, and has one ear torn just the same, and
burrs sticking to his tail, — all just as it should be.
I have taken up my abode in what was your
room. It is true the sun beats down upon it,
and there are a lot of flies in it ; but there is
less of the smell of the old house in it than in
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the other rooms. It 's a queer thing ; that musty,
rather sour, faint smell has a powerful effect on
my imagination; I don't mean that it's dis-
agreeable to me, quite the contrary, but it
produces melancholy, and, at last, depression.
I am very fond, just as you are, of podgy old
chests with brass plates, white armchairs with
oval backs, and crooked legs, fly-blown glass
lustres, with a big egg of lilac tinsel in the
centre — of all sorts of ancestral furniture, in
fact. But I can't stand seeing it all continually ;
a sort of agitated dejection (it is just that) takes
possession of me. In the room where I have
established myself, the furniture is of the most
ordinary, hojne-made description. I have left,
though, in the corner, a long narrow set of
shelves, on which there is an old-fashioned set
of blown green and blue glasses, just discernible
through the dust. And I have had hung on the
wall that portrait of a woman — ^you remember,
in the black frame ? — that you used to call the
portrait of Manon Lescaut. It has got rather
darker in these nine years; but the eyes have the
same pensive, sly, and tender look, the lips have
the same capricious, melancholy smile, and the
half-plucked rose falls as softly as ever from her
slender fingers. I am greatly amused by the
blinds in my room. They were once green,
but have been turned yellow by the sun ; on
them are depicted, in dark colours, scenes
from d'Arlencourt's Hermit On one curtain

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the hermit, with an immense beard, goggle-
eyes, and sandals on his feet, is carrying off a
young lady with dishevelled locks to the moun-
tains. On another one, there is a terrific com-
bat going on between four knights wearing
birettas, and with puffs on their shoulders ; one,
much foreshortened, lies slain — in fact, there
are pictures of all sorts of horrors, while all
about there is such unbroken peace, and the
blinds themselves throw such soft light on the
ceiling. ... A sort of inward calm has come
upon me since I hkve been settled here; one
wants to do nothing, one wants to see no one,
one looks forward to nothing, one is too lazy
for thought, but not too lazy for musing ; two
different things, as you know well. Memories
of childhood, at first, came flooding upon me —
wherever I went, whatever I looked at, they
surged up on all sides, distinct, to the smallest
detail, and, as it were, immovable, in their clearly
defined outlines. . . . Then these memories
were succeeded by others, then . . . then I
gradually turned away from the past, and all
that was left was a sort of drowsy heaviness in
my heart. Fancy ! 'as I was sitting on the dike,
under a willow, I suddenly and unexpectedly
burst out crying, and should have gone on cry-
ing a long while, in spite of my advanced years,
if I had not been put to shame by a passing
peasant woman, who stared at me with curiosity,
then, without turning her face towards me, gave
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a low bow from the waist, and passed on. I
should be very glad to remain in the same mood
(I shan't do any more crying, of course) till I
go away from here, that is, till September, and
should be very sorry if any of my neighbours
should take it into his head to call on me.
However there is no danger, I fancy, of that ; I
have no near neighbours here. You will under-
stand me, I *m sure ; you know yourself, by
experience, how often solitude is beneficial . . ,
I need it now after wanderings of all sorts.

But I shan't be dull. I have brought a few
books with me, and I have a pretty fair library
here. Yesterday, I opened all the bookcases,
and was a long while rummaging about among
the musty books. I found many curious things
I had not noticed before : Candidey in a manu-
script translation of somewhere about 1770;
newspapers and magazines of the same period ;
the Triumphant Chameleon (that is, Mirabeau),
le Paysan Perverti^ etc. I came across children's
books, my own, and my father's, and my grand-
mother's, and even, fancy, my great grand-
mother's ; in one dilapidated French grammar
in a particoloured binding, was written in fat
letters : * Ce livre appartient 4 Mile Eudoxie de
Lavrine,' and it was dated 1741. I saw books
I had brought at different times from abroad,
among others, Goethe's Faust, You're not
aware, perhaps, that there was a time when I
knew Faust by heart (the first part, of course)

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word for word ; I was never tired of reading it.

. . But other days, other dreams, and for the
last nine years, it has so happened, that I have
scarcely had a Goethe in my hand. It was
with an indescribable emotion that I saw the
little book I knew so well, again (a poor edition
of 1828). I brought it away with me, lay down
on the bed, and began to read. How all that
splendid first scene affected me ! The entrance
of the Spirit of the Earth, the words, you
remember — ^'on the tide of life, in the whirl of
creation,' stirred a long unfamiliar tremor and
shiver of ecstasy. I recalled everything : Ber-
lin, and student days, and Fraulein Clara Stick,
and Zeidelmann in the r6le of Mephistopheles,
and the music of Radzivil, and all and every-
thing. ... It was a long while before I could
get to sleep: my youth rose up and stood
before me like a phantom ; it ran like fire, like
poison through my veins, my heart leaped and
would not be still, something plucked at its
chords, and yearnings began surging up. . . .

You see what fantasies your friend gives
himself up to, at almost forty, when he sits in
solitude in his solitary little house ! What if
any one could have peeped at me! Well,
what? I shouldn't have been a bit ashamed
of myself. To be ashamed is a sign of youth,
too ; and I have begun (do you know how ?)
to notice that I 'm getting old. I '11 tell you
how. I try in these days to make as much as
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I can of my happy sensations, and to make
little of my sad ones, and in the days of my
youth I did just the opposite. At times, one
used to carry about one's melancholy as
if it were a treasure, and be ashamed of a
cheerful mood . . . But for all that, it strikes
me, that in spite of all my experience of life,
there is something in the world, friend
Horatio, which I have not experienced, and
that * something ' almost the most important.

Oh, what have I worked myself up to!
Farewell for the present ! What are you about
in Petersburg ? By. the way ; Savely, my
country cook, wishes to send his duty to
you. He too is older, but not very much so,
he is grown rather corpulent, stouter all over.
He is as good as ever at chicken-soup, with
stewed onions, cheesecakes with goffered
edges, and peagoose — peagoose is the famous
dish of the steppes, which makes your tongue
white and rough for twenty-four hours after.
On the other hand, he roasts the meat as he
always did, so that you can hammer on the
plate with it — hard as a board. But I must
really say, good-bye 1 Yours, P. B.



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SFXOND LETTER

From the same to the SAME

M VlLLKGEj/une 12, 1850.

I HAVE rather an important piece of news to
tell you, my dear friend. Listen ! Yesterday
I felt disposed for a walk before dinner — only
not in the garden ; I walked along the road
towards the town. Walking rapidly, quite
aimlessly, along a straight, long road is very
pleasant. You feel as if you 're doing some-
thing, hurrying somewhere. I look up ; a
coach is coming towards me. Surely not some
one to see me, I wondered with secret terror . . .
No : there was a gentleman with moustaches in
the carriage, a stranger to me. I felt reassured.
But all of a sudden, when he got abreast with
me, this gentleman told the coachman to stop
the horses, politely raised his cap, and still
more politely asked me, *was not I' . , ,
mentioning my name. I too came to a stand-
still, and with the fortitude of a prisoner
brought up for trial, replied that I was myself;
while I stared like a sheep at the gentleman
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With the moustaches and said to myself — * I do
believe I Ve seen him somewhere ! *

*You don't recognise me?' he observed, as
he got out of the coach.

•No, I don't.'

* But I knew you directly.'
Explanations followed ; it appeared that it

was Priemkov — do you remember? — a fellow
we used to know at the university. * Why, is
that an important piece of news?' you are
asking yourself at this instant, my dear Semyon
Nikolaitch. * Priemkov, to the best of my recol-
lection, was rather a dull chap ; no harm in him
though, and not a fool.' Just so, my dear boy ;
but hear the rest of our conversation.

*I was delighted,' says he, *when I heard
you had come to your country-place, into our
neighbourhood. But I was not alone in that
feeling.'

* Allow me to ask,' I questioned: *who was
so kind . . .'

* My wife.'
*Your wife I*

* Yes, my wife ; she is an old acquaintance
of yours.'

* May I ask what was your wife's name ? '

* Vera Nikolaevna ; sh^ was an Eltsov . . /
*Vera Nikolaevna!' I could not help ex-
claiming . . .

This it IS, which is the important piece of
news I spoke of at the beginning of my letter.

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But perhaps you don't see anything impor-
tant even in this ... I shall have to tell you
something of my past . . . long past, life.

When we both left the university in 183 —
I was three-and-twenty. You went into the
service ; I decided, as you know, to go to
Berlin. But there was nothing to be done in
Berlin before October. I wanted to spend the
summer in Russia — in the country — to have a
good lazy holiday for the last time ; and then
to set to work in earnest. How far this last
project was carried out, there is no need to
enlarge upon here ... * But where am I to
spend the summer?' I asked myself. I did
not want to go to my own place ; my father
had died not long before, I had no near
relations, I was afraid of the solitude and
dreariness . . . And so I was delighted to
receive an invitation from a distant cousin to
stay at his country-place in T . . . province.
He was a well-to-do, good-natured, simple-
hearted man ; he lived in style as a countfy
magnate, and had a palatial country house.
I went to stay there. My cousin had a large
family ; two sons and five daughters. Besides
them, there was always a crowd of people in
his house. Guests were for ever arriving ; and
yet it wasn't jolly at all. The days were spent
in noisy entertainments, there was no chance
of being by oneself. Everything was done in
common, every one tried to be entertaining,
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to invent some amusement, and at the end of
the day every one was fearfully exhausted
There was something vulgar about the way
we lived. I was already beginning to look
forward to getting away, and was only waiting
till my cousin's birthday festivities were over,
when on the very day of those festivities, at
the ball, I saw Vera Nikolaevna Eltsov — and I
stayed on.

She was at that time sixteen. She was
living with her mother on a little estate four
miles from my cousin's place. Her father — a
remarkable man, I have been told — had risen
rapidly to the grade of colonel, and would
have attained further distinctions, but he died
young, accidentally shot by a friend when out
shooting. Vera Nikolaevna was a baby at
the time of his death. Her mother too was
an exceptional woman ; she spoke several
languages, and was very well informed. She
was seven or eight years older than her husband
whom she had married for love; he had run
away with her in secret from her father's house.
She never got over his loss, and, till the day of
her death (I heard from Priemkov that she had
died soon after her daughter's marriage), she
never wore anything but black. I have a vivid
recollection of her face : it was expressive, dark,
with thick hair beginning to turn grey ; large,
severe, lustreless eyes, and a straight, fine nose.
Her father — his surname was Ladanov — had

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lived for fifteen years in Italy. Vera Niko-
laevna's mother was the daughter of a simple
Albanian peasant girl, who, the day after
giving birth to her child, was killed by her
betrothed lover — a Transteverino peasant —
from whom Ladanov had enticed her away.
. . . The story made a great sensation at the
time. On his return to Russia, Ladanov never
left his house, nor even his study ; he devoted
himself to chemistry, anatomy, and magical
arts; tried to discover means to prolong
human life, fancied he could hold intercourse
with spirits, and call up the dead. . . . The
neighbours looked upon him as a sorcerer.
He was extremely fond of his daughter, and
taught her everything himself: but he never
forgave her elopement with Eltsov, never
allowed either of them to come into his
presence, predicted a life of sorrow for both
of them, and died in solitude. When Madame
Eltsov was left a widow, she devoted her whole
time to the education of her daughter, and
scarcely saw any friends. When I first met
Vera Nikolaevna, she had — ^just fancy — never
been in a town in her life, not even in the
town of her district.

Vera Nikolaevna was not like the common
run of Russian girls ; there was the stamp of
something special upon her. I was struck
from the first minute by the extraordinary
repose of all her movements and remarks.
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She seemed free from any sort of disturbance
or agitation ; she answered simply and intelli-
gently, and listened attentively. The expres-
sion of her face was sincere and truthful as a
child's, but a little cold and immobile, though
not dreamy. She was rarely gay, and not
in the way other girls are; the serenity of
an innocent heart shone out in everything
about her, and cheered one more than any
gaiety. She was not tall, and had a very good
figure, rather slender ; she had soft, regular
features, a lovely smooth brow, light golden
hair, a straight nose, like her mother's, and
rather full lips ; her dark grey eyes looked out
somewhat too directly from under soft, upward-
turned eyelashes. Her hands were small, and
not very pretty; one never sees hands like
hers on people of talent . . . and, as a fact.
Vera Nikolaevna had no special talents. Her
voice rang out clear as a child of seven's. I
was presented to her mother at my cousin's
ball, and a few days later I called on them
for the first time.

Madame Eltsov was a very strange woman,
a woman of character, of strong will and con-
centration. She had a great influence on me ;
I at once respected her and feared her. Every-
thing with her was done on a principle, and
she had educated her daughter too on a
principle, though she did not interfere with
her freedom. Her daughter loved her and

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trusted her blindly. Madame Eltsov had only
to give her a book, and say — * Don't read that
page/ she would prefer to skip the preceding
page as well, and would certainly never glance
at the page interdicted. But Madame Eltsov
too had her id^es fixeSy her fads. She was
mortally afraid, for instance, of anything that
might work upon the imagination. And so
her daughter reached the age of seventeen
without ever having read a novel or a poem,
while in Geography, History, and even Natural
History, she would often put me to shame,
graduate as I was, and a graduate, as you
know, not by any means low down on the
list either. I used to try and argue with
Madame Eltsov about her fad, though it was
difficult to draw her into conversation; she
was very silent. She simply ahook her head.

* You tell me,' she said at last, * that reading
poetry is both useful and pleasant. ... I con-
sider one must make one's choice early in life ;
either the useful or the pleasant, and abide by
it once for all. I, too, tried at one time to
unite the two. . . . That 's impossible, and leads
to ruin or vulgarity.'

Yes, a wonderful being she was, that woman,
an upright, proud nature, not without a certain
fanaticism and superstition of her own. * I am
afraid of life,' she said to me one day. And
really she was afraid of it, afraid of those secret
forces on which life rests and which rarely, but
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SO suddenly, break out. Woe to him who is
their sport! These forces had shown them-
selves in fearful shape for Madame Eltsov ;
think of her mother's death, her husband's, her
father's. . . . Any one would have been panic-
stricken. I never saw her smile. She had, as
it were, locked herself up and thrown the key
into the water. She must have suffered great
grief in her time, and had never shared it with
any one; she had hidden it all away within
herself. She had so thoroughly trained herself
not to give way to her feelings that she was even
ashamed to express her passionate love for her
daughter; she never once kissed her in my
presence, and never used any endearing names,
always Vera. I remember one saying of hers ;
I happened to say to her that all of us modern
people were half broken by life. * It 's no good
being half broken,' she observed ; * one must
be broken in thoroughly or let it alone. . . .'

Very few people visited Madame Eltsov;
but I went often to see her. I was secretly
aware that she looked on me with favour ; and
I liked Vera Nikolaevna very much indeed.
We used to talk and walk together. . . . Her
mother was no check upon us ; the daughter
did not like to be away from her mother, and
I, for my part, felt no craving for solitary talks
with her. . . . Vera Nikolaevna had a strange
habit of thinking aloud ; she used at night in
her sleep to talk loudly and distinctly about

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what had impressed her during the day. One
day, looking at me attentively, leaning softly,
as her way was, on her hand, she said, ^It
seems to me that B. is a good person, but
there's no relying on him.' The relations
existing between us were of the friendliest and
most tranquil ; only once I fancied I detected
somewhere far off in the very depths of her
clear eyes something strange, a sort of soft-
ness and tenderness. • • . But perhaps I was
mistaken.

Meanwhile the time was slipping by, and it
was already time for me to prepare for de-
parture. But still I put it off. At times, when
I thought, when I realised that soon I should
see no more of this sweet girl I had grown so
fond of, I felt sick at heart. . . . Berlin began
to lose its attractive force. I had not the
courage to acknowledge to myself what was
going on within me, and, indeed, I didn't un-
derstand what was taking place, — it was as
though a cloud were overhanging my soul.
At last one morning everything suddenly be-
came clear to me. * Why seek further, what is
there to strive towards? Why, I shall not
attain to truth in any case. Isn't it better to
stay here, to be married ? ' And, imagine, the
idea of marriage had no terrors for me in those
days. On the contrary, I rejoiced in it More
than that ; that day I declared my intentions ;
only not to Vera Nikolaevna, as one would
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naturally suppose, but to Madame Eltsov.
The old lady looked at me.

* No/ she said ; * my dear boy, go to Berlin,
get broken in thoroughly. You're a good
fellow ; but it 's not a husband like you that 's
needed for Vera.*

I hung my head, blushed, and, what will
very likely surprise you still more, inwardly
agreed with Madame Eltsov on the spot A
week later I went away, and since then I have
not seen her nor Vera Nikolaevna,

I have related this episode briefly because I
know you don't care for anything * meandering.'
When I got to Berlin I very quickly forgot
Vera Nikolaevna. . . . But I will own that
hearing of her so unexpectedly has excited me.
I am impressed by the idea that she is so close,
that she is my neighbour, that I shall see her
in a day or two. The past seems suddenly to
have sprung up out of the earth before my
eyes, and -to have rushed down upon me.
Priemkov informed me that he was coming to
call upon me with the very object of renewing
our old acquaintance, and that he should look
forward to seeing me at his house as soon
as I could possibly come. He told me he
had been in the cavalry, had retired with the
rank of lieutenant, had bought an estate
about six miles from me, and was intending
to devote himself to its management, that
he had had three children, but that two had

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died, and he had only a little girl of five sur-
viving.

*And does your wife remember me?* I
inquired.

' Yes, she remembers you,' he replied, with
some slight hesitation. * Of course, she was a
child, one may say, in those days; but her
mother always spoke very highly of you, and
you know how precious every word of her poor
mother's is to her.*

I recalled Madame Eltsov's words, that I
was not suitable for her Vera. ... * I suppose
you were suitable,' I thought, with a sidelong
look at Priemkov. He spent some hours with
me. He is a very nice, dear, good fellow,
speaks so modestly, and looks at me so good-
naturedly. One can't help liking him . . . but
his intellectual powers have not developed
since we used to know him. I shall certainly
go and see him, possibly to-morrow. I am
exceedingly curious to see how Vera Nikolaevna
has turned out.

You, spiteful fellow, are most likely laughing
at me as you read this, sitting at your directors'


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