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Full text of "Uncle's dream; and, The permanent husband"

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NYPt RESEARCH UBRAR1E9 





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rizETBLLTa nuasiAN novels. 



Dneles Dream; 



AND 



Tbe Permanent Jlusband. 



CELEBRATED RUSSIAN NOVELS 

By FEDOR DOSTQIEFFSKY. 

Trantlated from the original Butsian by Fred, Whishaw, 

<* There are three Bussian novelists who, thoush, with one exception, little 
known out of their own country, stand head and tnoulders above most of their 
contemporaries. In the opinion of some not indifferent critics, thev are superior 
to all other novelists of this eeneration. Two of them, Dostoielfsky and 
Turgenietr, died not long ago; the third, Lyof Tolstoi, still lives. The one with 
the most marked individuality of character, probably the most highly gifted, 
was unquestionably J>oBUAeiuky "--Spectator, 

n crown 8w. containing nearly 500 pages, price 6*. 

THE IDIOT. 

" Is unquestionably a work of great power and originality. M. Dos* 
toieffsky crowds his canvas with living organisms, depicted with extreme 
vividness."- Scotsman, 

In crown %vo, price 5s, 

THE FRIEND OF THE FAMILY; and THE 
GAMBLER. 

" Dostoieffsky is one of the keenest observers of humanity amongst 
modem novelists. Both stories are very valuable as pictures of a society and a 
people with whom we are imperfectly acquainted, but who deserve the closest 
scrutiny."— PuftZic Opinion, 

Third edition. In crown Svo, with Portrait and Memoir^ price 5s, 

INJURY AND INSULT. 

••That * Injury and Insult' is a powerful novel few will deny. Vaniais 
a marvellou oharac ter. Once read, the book can never be forgotten." — 
St. Stephen^s Review. 

** A masterpiece of fiction. The author has treated with consummate tact 
the difficult character of Natasha, ' the incarnation of the slave of passion.' 
She lives and breathes in these vivid pages, and the reader is drawn into the 
vortex of her anguish, and rejoices when she breaks free from her chain."— 
Morning Post. 

Third edition. In crown Svo, 460 pages, price 6*. 

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT. 

'•Dostoieffsky is one of the most remarkable of modem writers, and his 
book, • Orimb and Punishment, ' is one of the most moving of modern novels. 
It is the story of a murder and of the punishment which dogs the murderer ; 
and its effect is unique in fiction. It is realism, but such realism as M. Zola 
and his followers do not dream of. The reader knows the personages— 
strange grotesque, terrible personages they are— more intimately than if he 
had been years with them in the fle&h. He is constrained to live their lives, 
to suffer their tortures, to scheme and resist with them, exult with them, 
weep and laugh and despair with them ; he breathes the very breath of their 
nos&ls, and with the madness that comes upon them he is afflicted even a« 
they This sounds extravagant praise, no doubt ; but only to those who have 
not read the volume. To those who have, we are sure that it will appear rather 
under the mark than othery/iae.'^— The Athanaum, 



VIZETELLY'S RUSSIAN NOVELS, 



Dnele's Dream: 

AND 

The Permanent Husband, 



By FEDOR DOSTOIEFFSKY, 

AUTHOR OF "CRIMB AND PUNISHMENT," "INJURY AND INSULT," "THE IDIOT,' 
" THE FRIEND OP THE FAMILY ; AND THE OAMBLBR." 



TR\NSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN BY FREDERICK WHISHAW. 




LONDON: 

VIZETELLY &^ CO., i6, HENRIETTA STREET, 
CO VENT GARDEN 

1888. 



UNCLE'S DREAM. 



CHAPTER I. 

Maria Alexandrovna Moskaleva was the principal lady 
of Mordasoff — there was no doubt whatever on that point 1 
She always bore herself as though she did not care a fig for 
anyone, but as though no one else could do without her. 
True, there were uncommonly few who loved her — in fact I 
may say that very many detested her ; still, everyone was 
afraid of her, and that was what she liked I 

Now, why did Maria Alexandrovna, who dearly loves scan- 
dal, and cannot sleep at night unless she has heard something 
new and piquant the day before, — ^why, or how did she 
know how to bear herself so that it would never strike any- 
one, looking at her, to supopse that the dignified lady was 
the most inveterate scandal-monger in the world — or at all 
events in Mordasoff? On the contrary, anyone would have 
said at once, that scandals and such-like pettiness must 
vanish in her presence ; and that scandal-mongers, caught 
red-handed by Maria Alexandrovna, would blush and 
tremble, like schoolboys at the entrance of the master ; and 
that the talk would immediately be diverted into channels 
of the loftiest and most sublime subjects so soon as she 
entered the room. Maria Alexandrovna knew many deadly 
and scandalous secrets of certain other Mordasoff inhabi- 
tants, which, if she liked to reveal them at any convenient 
opportunity, would produce results little less terrible than 



6 uncle's dream. 

the earthquake of Lisbon. Still, she was very quiet about 
the secrets she knew, and never let them out except in cases 
of absolute need, and then only to her nearest and dearest 
friends. She liked to hint that she knew certain things, 
and frighten people out of their wits ; preferring to keep 
them in a state of perpetual terror, rather than crusli them 
altogether. 

This was real talent — the talent of tactics. 

We all considered Maria Alexandrovna as our type and 
model of irreproachable comme-il-faut f She had no rival in 
this respect m Mordasoff! She could kill and annihilate 
and pulverize any rival with a single word. We have seen 
her do it ; and all the while she would look as though she 
had not even observed that she had let the fatal word fall. 

Everyone knows that this trait is a speciality of the 
highest circles. 

Her circle of friends was large. Many visitors to 
Mordasoff left the town again in an ecstasy over her 
reception of them, and carried on a correspondence with 
her afterwards ! Somebody even addressed some poetry to 
her, which she showed about the place with great pride. 
The novelist who came to the town used to read his novel 
to her of an evening, and ended by dedicating it to her ; 
which produced a very agreeable effect. A certain German 
professor, who came from Carlsbad to inquire into the 
cjuestion of a little worm with horns which abounds in our 
part of the world, and who wrote and published four large 
quarto volumes about this same little insect, was so 
delighted and ravished with her amiability and kindness 
that to this very day he carries on a most improving corres- 
pondence upon moral subjects from far Carlsbad ! 

Some people have compared Maria Alexandrovna, in 
certain respects, with Napoleon. Of course it may have 
been her enemies who did so, in order to bring Maria 
Alexandrovna to scorn ; but all I can say is, How is it that 
Napoleon, when he rose to his highest, that too high estate 
of his, became giddy and fell? Historians of the old 
school have ascribed this to the fact that he was not only 
not of royal blood, but was not even a gentleman ! and 
therefore when he rose too high, he thought of his proper 



UNCLES DREAM. 7 

place, the ground, became giddy and fell ! But why did 
not Maria Alexandrovna's head whirl ? And how was it 
that she could always keep her place as the first lady of 
Mordasoff? 

People have often said this sort of thing of Maria 
Alexandrovna ; for instance: "Oh — yes, but how would she 
act under such and such difficult circumstances ? " Yet, 
when the circumstances arose, Maria Alexandrovna in- 
variably rose also to the emergency ! For instance, when 
her husband — Afanassy Matveyevitch — was obliged to 
throw up his appointment, out of pure incapacity and 
feebleness of intellect, just before the government inspector 
came down ,to look into matters, all Mordasoff danced 
with delight to think that she would be down on her knees 
to this inspector, begging and beseeching and weeping and 
praying — in fact, that she would drop her wings and fall ; 
but, bless you, nothing of the sort happened ! Maria 
Alexandrovna quite understood that her husband was 
beyond praying for : he must retire. So she only re- 
arranged her affairs a little, in such a manner that she lost 
not a scrap of her influence in the place, and her house still 
remained the acknowledged head of all Mordasoff Society 1 

The procuror's wife, Anna Nicolaevna Antipova, the 
sworn foe of Maria Alexandrovna, though a friend so far as 
could be judged outside, had already blown the trumpet of 
victory over her rival I But when Society found that 
Maria Alexandrovna was extremely difficult to put down, 
they were obliged to conclude that the latter had struck her 
roots far deeper than they had thought for. 

As I have mentioned Afanassy Matveyevitch, Maria 
Alexandrovna's husband, I may as well add a few words 
about him in this place. 

Firstly, then, he was a most presentable man, so far as 
exterior goes, and a very high-principled person besides ; 
but in critical moments he used to lose his head and stand 
looking like a sheep which has come across a new gate. He 
looked very majestic and dignified in his dress-coat and 
white tie at dinner parties, and so on ; but his dignity only 
lasted until he opened his mouth to speak ; for then — well, 
you'd better have shut your ears, ladies and gentlemen, 

B— 2 



8 uncle's dream. 

when he began to talk — that's all ! Everyone agreed that 
he was quite unworthy to be Maria Alexandrovna's husband. 
He only sat in his place by virtue of his wife's genius. In my 
humble opinion he ought long ago to have been derogated 
to the office of frightening sparrows in the kitchen garden. 
There, and only there, would he have been in his proper 
sphere, and doing some good to his fellow countrymen. 

Therefore, I think Maria Alexandrovna did a very wise 
thing when she sent him away to her village, about a couple 
of miles from town, where she possessed a property of 
some hundred and twenty souls — which, to tell the truth, 
was all she had to keep up the respectability and grandeur 
of her noble house upon ! 

Everybody knew that Afanassy was only kept because he 
had earned a salary and perquisites; so that when he 
ceased to earn the said salary and perquisites, it surprised 
no-one to learn that he was sent away — " returned empty ' 
to the village, as useless and fit for nothing ! In fact, every- 
one praised his wife for her soundness of judgment and 
decision of character ! 

Afanassy lived in clover at the village. I called on him 
there once and spent a very pleasant hour. He tied on his 
white ties, cleaned his boots himself (not because he had no 
one to do it for him, but for the sake of art, for he loved to 
have them s/iine)^ went to the bath as often as he could, had 
tea four times a day, and was as contented as possible. 

Bo you remember, a year and a half ago, the dreadful 
stories that were afoot about Zenaida, Maria Alexandrovna's 
and Afanassy's daughter ? Zenaida was undoubtedly a fine, 
handsome, well-educated girl; but she was now twenty- 
three years old, and not married yet. Among the reasons 
put forth for Zenaida being still a maid, one of the strongest 
was those dark rumours about a strange attachment, a 
year and a half ago, with the schoolmaster of the place — 
rumours not hushed up even to this day. Yes, to this very 
day they tell of a love-letter, written by Zina, as she was 
called, and handed all about Mordasoff. But kindly tell me, 
who ever saw this letter? If it went from hand to hand 
what became of it ? Everyone seems to have heard of it, 
but no one ever saw it ! At all events, / have never met . 



uncle's dream. 9 

anyone who actually saw the letter with his own eyes. 
If you drop a hint to Maria Alexandrovna about it, she 
simply does not understand you. 

Well, supposing that there was something, and that Zina 
did write such a letter; what dexterity and skill of Maria 
Alexandrovna, to have so ably nipped the bud of the 
scandal ! I feel sure that Zina did write the letter ; but 
!Maria Alexandrovna has managed so well that there is not 
a trace, not a shred of evidence of the existence of it. 
Goodness knows how she must have worked and planned 
to save the reputation of this only daughter of hers ; but 
she managed it somehow. 

As for Zina not having married, there's nothing surprising 
in that. Why, what sort of a husband could be found for 
her in Mordasoff ? Zina ought to marry a reigning prince, 
if anyone ! Did you ever see such a beauty among 
beauties as Zina ? I think not. Of course, she was very 
proud — too proud. 

There was Mosgliakoff — some people said she was likely 
to end by marrying him ; but I never thought so. Why, 
what was there in Mosgliakoff? True, he was young and 
good looking, and possessed an estate of a hundred and 
f.fty souls, and was a Petersburg swell ; but, in the first 
place, I don't think there was much inside his head. He 
was such a funny, new-idea sort of man. Besides, what is 
an estate of a hundred and fifty souls, according to present 
notions ? Oh, no ; that's a marriage that never could come 
off. 

There, kind reader, all you have just read was written by 
nie some five months ago, for my own amusement, I 
admit, I am rather partial to Maria Alexandrovna ; and I 
wished to write some sort of laudatory account of that 
charming woman, and to mould it into the form of one of 
those playful "letters to a friend," purporting to have 
been written in the old golden days (which will never 
return— thank Heaven!) to one of the periodicals of the 
time, " The Northern Bee," or some such paper. But since 
I have no ** friend," and since I am, besides, naturally of a 
timid disposition, and especially so as to my literary efforts, 
the essay remained on my writing-table, as a memorial of 



lo uncle's dream. 

my early Utcraiy attempts and in memory of the peaceful 
occupation of a moment or two of leisure. 

Well, five months have gone by, and lo ! great things 
have happened at Mordasoff ! 

Prince K drove into the town at an early hour 

one fine morning, and put up at Maria Alexandrovna's 
house ! The prince only stayed three days, but his visit 
proved pregnant with the roost fatal consequences. I will 
say more — the prince brought about what was, in a certain 
sense, a revolution in the town, an account of which 
revolution will, of course, comprise some of the * most 
important events that have ever happened in Mordasoff; 
and I have determined at last, after many heart-sinkings 
and flutterings, arid much doubt, to arrange the story into 
the orthodox literary form of a novel, and present it to the 
mdulgent Public ! My tale will include a narrative of the 
Rise and Greatness and Triumphant Fall of Maria Alex- 
androvna, and of all her House in Mordasoff, a theme both 
worthy of, and attractive to any writer I 

Of course I must first explain why there should have been 

anything extraordinary in the fact that Prince K 

came to Mordasoff, and put up at Maria Alexandre vna's 
mansion. And in order to do this, I must first be allowed to 

say a few words about this same Prince K . This I shall 

now do. A short biography of the nobleman is absolutely 
necessary to the further working out of my story. So, 
reader, you must excuse me. 



CHAPTER II. 

I WILL begin, then, by stating that Prince K was not 

so very, very old, although, to look at him, you would think 
he must fall to pieces every moment, so decayed, or rather, 
worn-out was he. At Mordasoflf all sorts of strange things 
were told of him. Some declared that the old prince's 
wits had forsaken him. All agreed that it was passing 
strange that the owner of a magnificent property of four 
thousand souls, a man of rank, and one who could have, if 
he liked, a great influence, and play a great part in his 
country's affairs ; that such a man should live all alone upon 
his estate, and make an absolute hermit of himself, as did 

Prince K . Many who had known him a few years 

before insisted upon it that he was very far from loving soli- 
tude then, and was as imlike a hermit as anyone could 
possibly be. 

However, here is all I have been able to learn authen- 
tically as to his antecedents, etc. : — 

Some time or other, in his younger days — which must 
have been a mighty long while ago, — the prince made a 
most brilliant entry into life. He knocked about and en- 
joyed himself, and sang romantic songs, and wrote epigrams, 
and led a fast life generally, very often abroad, and was full 
of gifts and intellectual capacity. 

Of course he very soon ran through his means, and when 
old age approadied, he suddenly found himself almost pen- 
niless. Somebody recommended him to betake himself to 
his country seat, which was about to be sold by public auc- 
tion. So off he went with that intention ; but called in at 
Mordasoff, and stopped there six months. He liked this 
provincial li/e, and while in our town he spent every farthing 
n 



12 uncle's dream. 

he had left in the world, continuing his reckless life as of 
old, galivanting about, and forming intimacies with half the 
ladies of MordasofT. 

He was a kind-hearted, good sort of a man, but, of course, 
not without certain princely failings, which, however, weie 
accounted here to be nothing but evidences of the highest 
breeding, and for this reason caused a good effect instead of 
aversion. The ladies, especially, were in a state of perpetual 
ecstasy over their dear guest. They cherished the fondest 
and tenderest recollections of him. There were also strange 
traditions and rumours about the prince. It was said that 
he spent more than half the day at his toilet table ; and that 
he was, in fact, made up of all sorts of little bits. No one 
could say when or how he had managed to fall to pieces so 
completely. 

He wore a wig, whiskers, moustache, and even an 
" espagnole,'' all false to a hair, and of a lovely raven 
black ; besides which he painted and rouged every day. It 
was even said that he managed to do away with his 
wrinkles by means of hidden springs — hidden somehow in 
his wig, It was said, further, that he wore stays, in conse- 
quence of the want of a rib which he had lost in Italy, 
through being caused to fly, involuntarily, out of a window 
during a certain love affair. He limped with his left foot, 
and it was whispered that the said foot was a cork one — a very 
scientific member, made for him in place of the real one 
which came to grief during another love affair, in Paris this 
time. But what will not people say? At all events, I 
know for a fact that his right eye was a glass one ; beauti 
fully made, I confess, but still — glass. His teeth were false 
too. 

For whole days at a time he used to wash himself in all 
sorts of patent waters and scents and pomades. 

However, no one could deny that even then he was 
beginning to indulge in senile drivel and chatter. It 
appeared his career was about over; he had seen his best 
days , everyone knew that he had not a copeck left in the 
world ! 

Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, an old relative of his 
^-who had always lived in Paris, but from whom he never 



uncle's dream. 13 

liad had tlie slightest hope of inheritance — died, after having 
buried her legal heir exactly a month before ! The prince, 
to his utter astonishment, turned out to be the next heir, 
and a beautiful property of four thousand serfs, just forty 
miles from Mordasoff, became his — absolutely and unques- 
tionably ! 

He immediately started off to Petersburg, to see to his 
affairs. Before he departed, however, the ladies of our 
town gave him a magnificent subscription banquet. They 
tell how bewitching and delightful the prince was at this last 
dinner; how he punned and joked and told the most. 
t//2usua/ stories ; and how he promised to come to Donchanovo 
(his new property) very soon, and gave his word that on 
his arrival he would give endless balls and garden parties 
and picnics and fireworks and entertainments of all kinds, 
for his friends here. 

For a whole year after his departure, the ladies of the 
place talked of nothing but these promised festivities ; and 
awaited the arrival of the ** dear old man " with the utmost 
impatience. At last the prince arrived ; but to the disap- 
pointment and astonishment of everyone, he did not even 
call in at Mordasoff on the way; and on his arrival at 
Donchanovo he shut himself up there, as I have expressed 
it before, like a very hermit. 

All sorts of fantastic rumours were bruited about, and 
from this time the prince's life and history became most 
secret, mysterious, and incomprehensible. 

In the first place, it was declared that the prince had not 
been very successful in St. Petersburg ; that many of his 
relations — future heirs and heirs presumptive, and so on, 
had wished to put the Prince under some kind of restraint, 
on the plea of " feebleness of intellect;" probably fearing 
that he would run through this property as he had done 
with the last ! And more, some of them went so far as to 
suggest that he should be popped into a lunatic asylum ; 
and he was only saved by the interference of one of the 
nearest of kin, who pointed out that the poor old prince 
was more than half dead already, and that the rest of him 
must inevitably soon die too ; and that then the property 
would come down to them saifely enough without the need 



14 uncle's dream. 

of the lunatic asylum. I repeat, what will not people say ? 
Especially at our place, Mordasofif ! All this, it was said, 
had frightened the prince dreadfully; so that his nature 
seemed to change entirely, and he came down to live a 
hermit life at Donchanovo. 

Some of our Mordasoff folk went over to welcome him 
on his arrival ; but they were either not received at all or ' 
received in the strangest fashion. The prince did not 
recognise his old friends ; many people explained that he 
did not taish to recognise them. Among other visitors to 
Donchanovo was the Governor. 

On the return of the latter from his visit, he declared that 
the prince was undoubtedly a little " off his head." The 
Governor always made a face if anyone reminded him of 
this visit of his to Donchanovo. The ladies were dreadfully 
offended. 

At last an important fact was revealed: namely, that 
there was with the prince, and apparently in authority over 
him, some unknown person of the name of Stepanida 
Matveyevna, who had come down with him from St. Peters- 
burg ; an elderly fat woman in a calico dress, who went 
about with the house-keys in her hand ; and that the prince 
obeyed this woman like a little child, and did not dare take 
a step without her leave ; that she washed him and dressed 
him and soothed and petted him just hke a nurse with a 
baby ; and lastly, that she kept all visitors away from him, 
even relations — who, little by little, had begun to pervade 
the place rather too frequently, for the purpose of seeing 
that all was right. 

It was said that this person managed not only the prince, 
but his estate too: she turned off bailiffs and clerks, she 
encashed the rents, she looked after things in general — and 
did it well, too; so that the peasants blessed their fate 
under her rule. 

As for the prince, it was rumoured that he spent his days 
now almost entirely at his toilet-table, trying on wigs and 
dress-coats, and that the rest of his time was spent playing 
cards and games with Stepanida Matveyevna, and riding on 
a quiet old English mare. On such occasions his nurse 
always accompanied him in a cQvered droshky, because the 



uncle's dream. 15 

prince liked to ride out of bravado, but was most unsafe in 
his saddle. 

He had been seen on foot too, in a long great coat and a 
straw hat with a wide brim ; a pink silk lad/s tie round his 
neck, and a basket on his arm for mushrooms and flowers 
and berries, and so on, which he collected. The nurse 
-accompanied him, and a few yards behind walked a man- 
servant, while a carriage was in attendance on the high road 
at the side. When any peasant happened to meet him, and 
with low bow, and hat in hand, said, " Good morning, your 
highness — our beloved Sun, and Father of us all,'* or some 
such Russian greeting, he would stick his eye-glass in his 
eye, nod his head and say, with great urbanity, and in 
French, " Bon jour, mon ami, bon jour ! '* 

Lots of other rumours there were — in fact, our folks 
could not forget that the prince lived so near them. 

What, then, must have been the general amazement 
when one fine day it was trumpeted abroad that the prince 
—their curious old hermit-prince, had arrived at Mordasoff, 
and put up at Maria Alexandrovna's house ! 

Agitation and bewilderment were the order of the day ; 
everybody waited for explanations, and asked one another 
what could be the meaning of this mystery ? Some pro- 
posed to go and see for themselves ; all agreed that it was 
Mosf extraordinary. The ladies wrote notes to each other, 
came and whispered to one another, and sent their maids 
and husbands to find out more. 

What was particularly strange was, why had the prince 
put up at Maria Alexandrovna's, and not somewhere else ? 
This fact annoyed everyone ; but, most of all, Mrs. Antipova, 
who happened to be a distant relative of the prince. 

However, in order to clear up all these mysteries and find 
an answer to all these questions, we must ourselves go and 
see Maria Alexandrovna. Will you follow me in, kind reader? 
It is only ten in the morning, certainly, as you point out; 
but I daresay she will receive such intimate friends, all the 
same. Oh, yes ; she'll see us all right 



CHAPTER HI. 

It is ten o'clock in the morning, and we are at Maria 
Alexandrovna's, and in that room which the mistress calls 
her *< salon " on great occasions ; she has a boudoir besides. 

In this salon the walls are prettily papered, and the floor 
is nicely painted ; the furniture is mosdy red ; there is a 
fireplace, and on the mantelpiece a bronze clock with some 
figure — a Cupid — upon it, in dreadfully bad taste. There 
are large looking-glasses between the windows. Against 
the back wall there stands a magnificent grand piano— 
Zina's — for Zina is a musician. On a table in the middle 
of the room hisses a silver tea-urn, with a very pretty tea- 
set alongside of it 

There is a lady pouring out tea, a distant relative of the 
family, and living with Maria Alexandrovna in that capacity, 
one Nastasia Petrovna Ziablova. She is a widow of over 
thirty, a brunette with a fresh-looking face and lively black 
eyes, not at all bad looking. 

She is of a very animated disposition, laughs a great deal, 
is fond of scandal, of course ; and can manage her own 
little affairs very nicely. She has two children somewhere, 
being educated. She would much like to marry again. 
Her last husband was a military man. 

Maria Alexandrovna herself is sitting at the fire in a very 
benign frame of mind ; she is dressed in a pale-green dress, 
which becomes her very well ; she is unspeakably delighted 
at the arrival of the Prince, who, at this moment, is sitting 
upstairs, at his toilet table. She is so happy, that she does 
not even attempt to conceal her joy. A young man is 
standing before her and relating something in an animated 
i6 



uncle's dream, 17 

way ; one can see in his eyes that he wishes to curry favour 
with his listener. 

This young fellow is about twenty-five years old, and his 
manners are decidedly good, though he has a silly way of 
going into raptures, and has, besides, a good deal too much 
of the " funny man " about him. He is well dressed and 
his hair is light ; he is not a bad-looking fellow. But we 
have already heard of this gentleman : he is Mr. Mosgliakoff. 
Maria Alexandrovna considers him rather a stupid sort of a 
man, but receives him very well. He is an aspirant for the 
hand of her daughter Zina, whom, according to his own 
account, he loves to distraction. In his conversation, he 
refers to Zina every other minute, and does his best to bring a 
smile to her lips by his witty remarks; but the girl is 
evidently very cool and indifferent with him. At this 
moment she is standing away at the side near the piano, 
turning over the leaves of some book. 

This girl is one of those women who create a sensation 
amounting almost to amazement when they appear in 
society. She is lovely to an almost impossible extent, a 
brunette with splendid black eyes, a grand figure and divine 
bust. Her shoulders and arms are Hke an antique statue ; 
her gait that of an empress. She is a little pale to-day ; 
but her lips, with the gleam of her pearly teeth between 
them, are things to dream of, if you once get a sight of 
them. Her expression is severe and serious. 

Mr. Mosgliakoff is evidently afraid of her intent gaze ; at 
all events, he seems to cower before her when she looks at 
him. She is very simply dressed, in a white muslin frock — 
the white suits her admirably. But then, a'erything suits 
her 1 On her finger is a hair ring : it does not look 
as though the hair was her mother's, from the colour. 
Mosgliakoff has never dared to ask her whose hair it is. 
This morning she seems to be in a peculiarly depressed 
humour; she appears to be very much preoccupied and 
silent : but her mother is quite ready to talk enough for 
both ; albeit she glances continually at Zina, as though 
anxious for her, but timidly, too, as if afraid of her. 

"I am so pleased, Pavel Alexandrovitch," she chirps 
to Mosgliakoff; ^^ so happy, that I feel inchned to cry the 



1 8 tangle's dream. 

news out of the windo\V to every passer-by. Not to speak 
of the delightful surprise — to both Zina and myself — of 
seeing you a whole fortnight sooner than we expected you 
— that, of course, ' goes without saying ' ; but I am so, so 
pleased that you should have brought this dear prince with 
you. You don't know how I love that fascinating old man. 
No, no 1 You would never believe it. You youiig people 
don't understand this sort of rapture; you never would 
believe me, assure you as much as ever I pleased. 

"Don't you remember, Zina, how much he was to me at 
that time — six years ago ? Why, I was his guide, his sister, 
his mother ! There was something delightfully ingenuous 
and ennobling in our intimacy — one might S2iy pastoral ; I 
don't know what to call it — it was delightful. That is why 
the poor dear prince thinks of my house, and only mine, 
with gratitude, now. Do you know, Pavel Alexandrovitch, 
perhaps you have saved him by thus bringing him to me ? 
I have thought of him with quaking of heart all these six 
years — you'd hardly believe it, — and dreamed of him, too. 
They say that wretch of a woman has bewitched and ruined 
him ; but you've got him out of the net at last. We must 
make the best of our opportunity now, and save him out- 
right. Do tell me again, how did you manage it ? Describe 
your meeting and all in detail ; I only heard the chief point 
of the story just now, and I do so like details. So, he's , 
still at his toilet table now, is he ? ^" 

" Yes. It was all just as I told you, Maria Alexand- 
rovna ! " begins Mosgliakoffr eadily — delighted to repeat his 
story ten times over, if required — " I had driven all night, 
and not slept a wink. You can imagine what a hurry I was 
in to arrive here," he adds, turning to Zina ; " in a word, I 
swore at the driver, yelled for fresh horses, kicked up a row 
at every post station : my adventures would fill a volume. 
Well, exactly at six o'clock in the morning I arrived at the 
last station, Igishova. ^ Horses, horses I ' I shouted, 
* let's have fresh horses quick; I'm not going to get 
out.' I frightened the post-station man's wife out 
of her wits; she had a small baby in her arms, and I 
have an idea that its mother's fright will affect said baby's 
supply of the needful. Well, the sunrise was splendid — • 



uncle's dream. t9 

fine frosty morning — lovely ! but I hadn't time to look at 
anything. I got my horses — I had to deprive some other 
traveller of his pair ; he was a professor, and we nearly 
fought a duel about it. 

" They told me some prince had driven off a quarter of an 
hour ago. He had slept here, and was driving his own horses ; 
but I didn't attend to anything. Well, just seven miles from 
town, at a turn of the road, I saw that some surprising 
event had happened. A huge travelling carriage was lying 
on its side ; the coachman and two flunkeys stood outside it, 
apparently dazed, while from inside the carriage came heart- 
rending lamentations and cries. I thought Td pass by and 
let them all be — ; it was no affair of mine : but humanity 
insisted, and would not take a denial. (I think it is Heine 
says that humanity shoves its nose in everywhere !) So I 
jstopped ; and my driver and myself, with the other fellows, 
lifted the carriage on to its legs again, or perhaps I should 
say wheels, as it had no legs. 

**I thought to myself, * This is that very prince they men- 
tioned r So, I looked in. Good Heavens ! it was our 
prince ! Here was a meeting, if you like! I yelled at him, 
* Prince — uncle !' Of course he hardly knew me at the first 
glance, but he very soon recognised me. At least, I don't 
believe he knows who I am really, even now ; 1 think he 
takes me for someone else, not a relation. I saw him last 
seven years ago, as a boy ; I remember ///Vw, because he 
struck me so ; but how was he to remember me ? At all 
events, I told him my name, and he embraced me ecsta- 
tically ; and all the while he himself was crying and trem- 
bling with fright. He really was crying^ I'll take my oath 
he was ! I saw it with my own eyes. 

** Well, we talked a bit, and at last I persuaded him to get 
into my trap with me, and call in at Mordasoff, if only for 
one day, to rest and compose his feelings. He told me 
that Stepanida Matveyevna had had a letter from Moscow, 
saying that her father, or daughter, or both, with all her 
family, were dying ; and that she had wavered for a long 
time, and at last determined to go away for ten days. The 
prince sat out one day, and then another, and then a third, 
measuring wigs, and powdering and pomading himself; 



20 uncle's dream* 

then he grew sick of it, and determined to go and see an 
old friend, a priest called Misael, who lived at the Svetozersk 
Hermitage. Some of the household, being afraid of the 
great Stepanida's wrath, opposed the prince's proposed 
journey ; but the latter insisted, and started last night after 
dinner. He slept at Igishova, and went off this morning 
again, at sunrise. Just at the turn going down to the 
Reverend Mr. Misael's, the carriage went over, and the 
prince was very nearly shot down the ravine. 

*'Then I step in and save the prince, and persuade him to 
come and pay a visit to our mutual friend, Maria Alexan- 
drovna (of whom the prince told me that siie is the most 
delightful and charming woman he has ever known). And so 
here we are, and the prince is now upstairs attending to his 
wigs and so on, with the help of his valet, whom he took 
along with him, and whom he always would and will take 
with him wherever he goes ; because he would sooner die ' 
than appear before ladies without certain little secret touches 
which require the valet's hand. There you are, that's the 
whole story." 

"Why, what a humourist he is, isn't he, Zina?" said the 
lady of the house. " How beautifully you told the story ! 
Now, listen, Paul : one question ; explain to me clearly how 
you are related to the prince ; you call him uncle ! " 

" I really don't know, Maria Alexandrovna ; seventh, 
cousin I think, or something of that sort. My aunt knows 
all about it ; it was she who made me go down to see him 
at Donchanova, when I got kicked out by Stepanida ! I 
simply call him ' uncle,' and he answers me ; that's about all 
our relationship." 

" Well, I repeat, it was Providence that made you bring 
him straight to my house as you did. I tremble to think ot 
what might have happened to the poor dear prince if some- 
body else, and not I, had got hold of him I Why, they'd 
have torn him to pieces among them, and picked his bones ! 
They'd have pounced on him as on a new-found mine ; they 
might easily have robbed him ; they are capable of it. You 
have no idea, Paul, of the depth of meanness and greedi 
ness to which the people of this place have fallen !" 

** But, my dear good Maria Alexandrovna — as if he would 



UNCLES DREAM. 21 

ever think of bringing him anywhere but to yourself," said 
the widow, pouring out a cup of tea ; " you don't sujbpose 
he would have taken the prince to Mrs* Antipova's, surely, 
do you ? '* 

" Dear me, how very long he is coming out !" said Maria 
Alexandrovna, impatiently rising from her chair ; ** it really 
is quite strange ! " 

" Strange ! what, of uncle ? Oh dear, no ! he'll probably 
be another five hours or so putting himself together ; besides, 
since he has no memory whatever, he has very likely quite 
forgotten that he has come to your house ! Why, he's a 
most extraordinary map, Maria Alexandrovna." 
" Oh don't, don't ! Don't talk like that ! " 
" Why not, Maria Alexandrovna ? He is a lump of 
composition, not a man at all ! Remember, you haven't 
seen him for six years, and I saw him half an hour ago. 
He is half a corpse ; he's only the memory of a man ; they've 
forgotten to bury him ! Why, his eye is made of glass, and 
his leg of cork, and he goes on wires ; he even talks on 
wires ! '* 

Maria Alexandrovna's face took a serious expression. 
' What nonsense you talk," she said ; ** and aren't you 
ashamed of yourself, you, a young man and a relation too — 
to talk like that of a most honourable old nobleman ! not 
to mention his incomparable personal goodness and kind- 
ness " (her voice here trembled with emotion). ** He is a 
relic, a chip, so to speak, of our old aristocracy. I know, 
my dear young friend, that all this fliglitiness on your part, 
proceeds from those * new ideas ' of which you are so fond 
of talking ; but, goodness me, I've seen a good deal more of 
life than you have : I'm a mother ; and though I see the 
greatness and nobleness, if you like, of these * new ideas/ 
yet I can understand the practical side of things too ! Now, 
this gentleman is an old man, and that is quite enough to 
render him ridiculous in your eyes. You, who talk of 
emancipating your serfs, and * doing something for poste- 
rity, ' indeed I I tell you what it is, it's your Shakespeare ! 
You stuff yourself full of Shakespeare, who has long ago 
outlived his time, my dear Paul ; and who, if he lived now, 
with all his wisdom, would never make head or tail of our 
way of life T' 
c 



12 uncle's dream. 

** If there be any chivalry left in our modem society, it is 
only in the highest circles of the aristocracy. A prince is a 
prince either in a hovel or in a palace ! Vou are more or 
less a representative of the highest circles ; your extraction 
is aristocratic. I, too, am not altogether a stranger to the 
upper ten, and it's a bad fledgling that fouls its own nest ! 
Plowever, my dear Paul, you'll forget your Shakespeare yet, 
and you'll understand all this much better than I can ex- 
plain it. I foresee it 1 Besides, I'm sure you are only 
joking; you did not mean what you said. Stay here, dear 
Paul, will you ? I'm just going upstairs to make inquiries 
after the prince, he may want something." And Maria Alex- 
androvna left the room hurriedly. 

" Maria Alexandrovna seems highly delighted that Mrs. 
Antipova, who thinks so much of herself, did not get hold 
of the prince !" remarked the widow ; •" Mrs. Antipova must 
be gnashing her teeth with annoyance just now ! She's a 
relation, too, as iVe been pointing out to Maria Alexan- 
drovna.'' 

Observing (hat no one answered her, and casting her eyes 
on Zina and Mosgliakoff, the widow suddenly recollected 
herself, and discreetly left the room, as though to fetch 
something. However, she rewarded herself for her discre- 
tion, by putting her ear to the keyhole, as soon as she had 
closed the door after her. 

Pavel Alexandrovitch immediately turned to Zina. He 
was in a state of great agitation ; his voice shook. 

^'Zenaida Afanassievna, are you angry with mel^''he 
began, in a timid, beseechful tone. 

"With you? Why? "asked Zina, blushing a little, and 
-aising her magnificent eyes to his face. 

^* For coming earlier. I couldn't help it ; I couldn't wait 
a-nother fortnight ; I dreamed of you every night ; so I flew 
©ff to learn my fate. But you are frowning, you are angry ; 
— oh ; am I really not to hear anything definite, even now ?"• 

Zina distinctly and decidedly frowned. 

** 1 supposed you would speak of this," she said, witJi her 
eyes drooped again, but with a firm and severe voice, in 
which some annoyance was perceptible ; " and as the ex- 
pectation of it was very tedious, the sooner you had youi 



uncle's dream. 23 

say, the better ! You insist upon an answer again, do you ? 
Very well, I say 7vatt, just as I said it before. I now repeat, 
as I did then, that J have not as yet decided, and cannot 
therefore promise to be your wife. You cannot force a girl 
to such a decision, Pavel Alexandrovitch ! However, to 
relieve your mind, I will add, that I do not as yet refuse 
you absolutely ; and pray observe that I give you thus much 
hope of a favourable reply, merely out of forced deference 
to your impatience and agitation ; and that if I think fit after- 
wards to reject you altogether, you are not to blame me for 
having given you false hopes. So now you know." 

** Oh, but — but — what's the use of that ? What hope am 
I to get out of that, Zina ? *' cried Mosgliakpff in piteous 
tones. 

" Recollect what I have said, and draw whatever you 
please from the words ; that's your business. 1 shall add 
nothing. I do not refuse you ; I merely say — wait ! And I 
repeat, I reserve the free right of rejecting you afterwards 
if I choose so to do. Just one more word : if you come 
here before the fixed time relying on outside protection, or 
even on my mother's influence to help you gain your end, 
let me tell you, you make a great mistake ; if you worry me 
now, I shall refuse you outright. • I hope we understand 
each other now, and that I shall hear no more of this, until 
the period I named to .you for my decision." All this was 
said quietly and drily, and without a pause, as if learnt by 
rote. Paul felt foolish; but just at this moment Maria 
Alexandrovna entered the room, and the widow after her. 

" I think he's just coming, Zina ! Nastasia Petrovna, make 
some new tea quick, please I " The good lady was con- 
siderably agitated. 

" Mrs. Antipova has sent her maid over to inquire about 
the prince already. How angry she must be feeling just 
now," remarked the widow, as she commenced to pass over 
the tea-urn. 

"And what's that to me ! "replied Maria Alexandrovna, over 
her shoulder. " Just as though /care what she thinks ! /shall 
not send a maid to her kitchen to inquire, I assure you ! And 
I am surprised, downright surprised, that, not only you, but 
all the town, too, should suppose that that wretched woman 

c — 2 



24 UNCLES DREAM. 

is my enemy ! I appeal to you, Paul — ^you know us both. 
Why should I be her enemy, now ? Is it a question of pre- 
cedence ? Pooh I I don't care about precedence ! She may 
be first, if she likes, and I shall be readiest of all to go and 
congratulate her on the fact Besides, it's all nonsense ! 
Why, I take her part ; I must take her part. People maHgn 
her ; why do you all fall upon her so ? Because she's young, 
and hkes to be smart ; is that it ? Dear me, I think finery 
is a good bit better than some other failings— like Natalia 
Dimitrievna's, for instance, who has a taste for things that 
cannot be mentioned in polite society. Or is it that Mrs. 
Antipova goes out too much, and never stays at home? 
My goodness ! why, the woman has never had any education ; 
naturally she doesn't care to sit down to read, or anything 
of that sort. True, she coquets and makes eyes at every- 
body who looks at her. But why do people tell her that 
she's pretty? especially as she only has a pale face, and 
nothing else to boast of. 

" She is amusing at a dance, I admit ; but why do people 
tell her that she dances the polka so well? She wears 
hideous hats and things ; but it's not her fault that nature 
gave her no gift of good taste. She talks scandal ; but that's 
the custom of the place — who doesn't here ? That fellow, 
Sushikoff, with his whiskers, goes to see her pretty often 
while her husband plays cards, but that may be merely a 
trumped-up tale ; at all events I always say so, and take her 
part in every way I But, good heavens ! here's the prince at 
last ! 'Tis he, 'tis he ! I recognise him ! I should know 
him out of a thousand ! At last I see you ! At last, my 
Prince!" cried Maria Alexandrovna, — and she rushed to 
greet the prince as he entered the room. 



CHAPTER IV. 

At first sight you would not take this prince for an old man 
at all, and it is only when you come near and take a good 
look at him, that you see he is merely a dead man working 
on wires. All the resources of science are brought to bear 
upon this mummy, in order to give it the appearance of life 
and youth. A marvellous wig, glorious whiskers, moustache 
and napoleon — all of the most raven black — cover half his 
face. He is painted and powdered with very great skill, so 
much so that one can hardly detect any wrinkles. What has 
become of them, goodness only knows. 

He is dressed in the pink of fashion, just as though he 
had walked straight out of a tailor's fashion-page. His coat, 
his gloves, tie, his waistcoat, his linen, are all in perfect 
taste, and in the very last mode. The prince limps slightly, 
but so slightly that one would suppose he did it on purpose 
because that was in fashion too. In his eye he wears a glass — 
in the eye which is itself glass already. 

He was soaked with scent. His speech and manner of 
pronouncing certain syllables was full of affectation ; and 
this was, perhaps, all that he retained of the mannerisms 
and tricks of his younger days. For if the prince had not 
quite lost his wits as yet, he had certainly parted with nearly 
every vestige of his memory, which — alas ! — is a thing which 
no amount of perfumeries and wigs and rouge and tight-lacing 
will renovate. He continually forgets words in the midst of 
conversation, and loses his way, which makes it a matter of 
some difficulty to carry on a conversation with him. How- 
ever, Maria Alexandrovna has confidence in her inborn 
dexterity, and at sight of the prince she flies into a condi- 
tion of unspeakable rapture. 
25 



26 UNCLES DREAM. 

" Oh! but youVe not changed, youVe not changed a bit! " 
she cries, seizing her guest by both hands, and popping him 
into a comfortable armchair. '*Sit down, dear Prince, do 
sit down ! Six years, prince, six whole long years since we 
saw each other, and not a letter, not a little tiny scrap of 
a note all the while. O/i, how naughty you have been, 
prince ! And /io7a angry I have been with you, my dear 
friend I But, tea ! tea ! Good Heavens, Nastasia Petrovna, 
tea for the prince, quick ! " 

"Th — thanks, thanks ; I'm very s — orry ! " stammered the 
old man (I forgot to mention that he stammered a little, but 
he did even this as though it were the fashion to do it), 
" Very s — sorry ; fancy, I — I wanted to co — come last year, 
but they t — told me there was cho — cho — cholera here." 

** There was foot and mouth disease here, uncle," put in 
Mosgliakoff, by way of distinguishing himself. Maria Alex- 
androvna gave him a severe look. 

" Ye— yes, foot and mouth disease, or something of that 
s — sort," said the prince ; ** so I st— stayed at home. Well, 
and how's your h — husband, my dear Anna Nic — Nico- 
laevna ? Still at his proc — procurer's work ? " 

" No, prince ! " said Maria Alexandrovna, a little discon- 
certed. " My husband is not a procuror." 

" I'll bet anything that uncle has mixed you up with Anna 
•Nicolaevna Antipova," said Mosgliakoff, but stopped sud- 
denly on observing the look on Maria Alexandre vna's face. 
" Ye — yes, of course, Anna Nicolaevna. A — An. What 
the deuce 1 I'm always f — forgetting; Antipova, Antipova, 
of course," continued the prince. 

" No, prince, you have made a great mistake," remarked 
Maria Alexandrovna, with a bitter smile. " I am not Anna 
Nicolaevna at all, and I confess I should never have believed 
that you would not recognise me. You have astonished 
me, prince. I am your old friend, Maria Alexandrovna 
Moskaloff. Don't you remember Maria Alexandrovna?" 
" M — Maria Alexandrovna I think of that ; and I thought 
she was w — what's her name. Y — yes, Anna Vasilievna I 
Cestdelicieux, W — why I thought you were going to take me 
to this A — Anna Matveyevna. Dear me I Cestch — charmantt 
It often happens so w — ^with me. I get taken to the wrong 



uncle's dream. 27 

house ; but I'm v^very pleased, v — very pleased ! So you're 
not Nastasia Va — silievna ? How interesting." 

"I'm Maria Alexandrovna, prince; Maria Aiexandrovnaf 
Oh ! how naughty you are, Prince, to forget your best, best 
friend!" 

" Ye — es ! ye — yes ! best friend ; best friend, for — forgive 
me ! " stammered the old man, staring at Zina. 

"That's my daughter Zina. You are not acquainted yet, 
prince. She wasn't here when you were last in the town, 
in the year you know." 

" Oh, th — this is your d — daughter ! " muttered the old 
man, staring hungrily at Zina through his glasses. " Dear me, 
dear me. Ch — channantel ch — ar mantel But what a 
lo — ovely girl," he added, evidently impressed. 

" Tea ! prince," remarked Maria Alexandrovna, directing 
his attention to the page standing before him with the tray. 
The prince took a cup, and examined the boy, who had a 
nice fresh face of his own. 

" Ah ! this is your 1 — little boy ? Wh — what a charming 
little b — boy ! and does he be — behave nicely ? " 

" But, prince," interrupted • Maria Alexandrovna, im- 
patiently, " what is this dreadful occurrence I hear of? I 
confess I was nearly beside myself with terror when I heard 
of it. Were you not hurt at all ? Do take care. One 
cannot make light of this sort of thing." 

" Upset, upset ; the c — coachman upset me ! " cried the 
prince, with unwonted vivacity. " I thought it was the end 
of the world, and I was fri — frightened out of my wits. I 
didn't expect it ; I didn't, indeed I and my co — oachman is 
to blame for it all. I trust you, my friend, to lo — ok into 
the matter well. I feel sure he was making an attempt oni 
my life!" 

. " All right, all right, uncle," said Paul ; " I'll see about it^ 
But look here — forgive him, just this once, uncle ; just this, 
once, won't you ? " • 

" N — not I ! Not for anything I I'm sure he wants my 

life, he and Lavrenty too. It's— it's the 'new ideas;' it's. 

Com — Communism, in the fullest sense of the word. I 

daren't meet them anywhere." 

. " You are right, you are quite right, prince," cried Maria 



28 uncle's dream. 

Alexandrovna. "You don't know how I sulTer myself from 
these wretched people. IVe just been obliged to change two 
of my servants; and youVe no idea how stupid they are, 
. prince." 

" Ye — yes ! quite so ! " said the prince, delighted — as all 
old men are whose senile chatter is listened to with ser- 
vility. " But I like a fl— flunky to look stupid ; it gives them 
presence. There's my Terenty, now. You remember 
Terenty, my friend ? Well, the f— first time I ever looked at 
him I said, ' You shall be my ha— r-hall porter.' He's stupid, 
phen — phen — omenally stupid, he looks like a she — sheep ; 
but his dig — dignity and majesty are wonderful. When I look 
at him he seems to be composing some 1 — learned dis — 
sertation. He's just like the German philosopher, Kant, 
or like some fa — fat old turkey, and that's just what one 
wants in a serving-man." 

Maria Alexandrovna laughed, and clapped her hands in 
the highest state of ecstasy; Paul supported her with all his 
might; Nastasia Petrovna laughed too; and even Zina 
smiled. 

" But, prince, how clever, how witty, how humorous you 
are ! " cried Maria Alexandrovna. " What a wonderful gift 
of remarking the smallest refinements of character. And for 
a man like you to eschew all society, and shut yourself up 
for five years ! With such talents ! Why, prince, you could 
write^ you could be an author. You could emulate Von 
Vezin, Gribojedoff, Gogol I 

" Ye — yes ! ye — yes ! " said the delighted prince. " I can 
reproduce things I see, very well. And, do you know, I 
used to be a very wi — witty fellow indeed, some time ago. 
I even wrote a play once. There were some very smart 
couplets,' I remember; but it was never acted." 

" Oh ! how nice it would be to read it over, especially 
just now^ eh, Zina ? for we are thinking of getting up a 
play, you must know, prince, for the benefit of the * martyrs 
of the Fatherland,' the wounded soldiers. There, now, . 
how handy your play would come in ! " 

" Certainly, certainly. I — I would even write you another. 
I think IVe quite forgotten the old one. I remember there 
were two or three such epigrams that (here the prince 



uncle's dream. 29 

kissed his own hand to convey an idea of the exquisite wit 
of his lines) I recollect when I was abroad I made a real 
furore. I remember Lord Byron well; we were great friends ; 
you should have seen him dance the mazurka one day during . 
the Vienna Congress." 

" Lord Byron, uncle ? — Surely not ! " 

" Ye — yes, Lord Byron. Perhaps it was not Lord Byron, 
though, perhaps it was someone else ; no, it wasn't Lord 
Byron, it was some Pole ; I remember now. A won — der 
— ^ful fellow that Pole was ! He said he was a C — Count, 
and he turned out to be a c — cook — shop man ! But he 
danced the mazurka won — der — fully, and broke his leg at 
last. I recollect I wrote some lines at the time : — 

•Our little Pole 
Danced like blazes.' 

—How did it go on, now? Wait a minute! No, I can't 
remember." 

" I'll tell you, uncle. It must have been like this," said 
!Paul, becoming more and more inspired : — 

*But he tripped in a hole, 
"Which stopped his crazes.* " 

" Ye — ^yes, that was it, I think, or something very like it. I 
don't know, though — perhaps it wasn't Anyhow, the lines 
were very sm — art. I forget a good deal of what I have seen 
and done. I'm so b — busy now ! " 

" But do let me hear how you 'have employed your time 
in your solitude, dear prince," said Maria Alexandrovna. 
** I must confess that I have thought of you so often, and 
often, that I am burning with impatience to hear more 
about you and your doings." 

"Employed my time ? Oh, very busy; very busy, 
ge — generally. One rests, you see, part of the day ; and 
then I imagine a good many things." 

"I should think you have a very strong imagination, 
haven't you, uncle ?" remarked Paul. 

"Exceptionally so, my dear fellow. I sometimes 
infiagine things which amaze even myself ! When I was at 
Kadueff, — by-the-by, you were vice-governor of Kadueff, 
weren't vou ?^' 



30 uncle's dream." 

" I, uncle ! Why, what are you thinking of ? ** 

" No ? Just fancy, my dear fellow ! and IVe been think- 
ing all this time how f — funny that the vice-governor of 
KaduefF. should be here with quite a different face : he had 
a fine intelligent, dig — dignified face, you know. A wo — won- 
derful fellow ! Always writing verses, too ; he was rather 
like the Ki — King of Diamonds from the side view, but '* 

"No, prince," interrupted Maria Alexandrovna. "F 
assure you, you'll ruin yourself with the life you are leading I 
To make a hermit of oneself for five years, and see no one, 
and hear no one : youYe a lost man, dear prince ! Ask 
any one of those who love you, they'll all tell you the same; 
you're a lost man ! " 

"No," cried the prince, " really?" 

" Yes, I assure you of it ! I am speaking to you as a 
sister — as a friend ! I am telling you this because you are 
very dear to me, and because the memory of the past is 
sacred to me. No, no! You must change your way of 
living ; otherwise you will fall ill, and break up, and die I " 

" Gracious heavens ! Surely I shan't d — die so soon ? '^ 
cried the old tnan. "You — you are right about being ill ; 
I am ill now and then. I'll tell you all the sy — symptoms I 
I'll de— detail them to you. Firstly I " 

" Uncle, don't you think you had better tell us all about, 
it another day ? " Paul interrupted hurriedly. " I think we 
had better be starting just now, don't you ? " 

" Yes — yes, perhaps, perhaps. But remind me to tell you 
another time ; it's a most interesting case, I assure you I '^ 

" But listen, my dear prince ! " Maria Alexandrovna 
resumed, ** why don't you try being doctored abroad? " 

" Ab — ^road ? Yes, yes — I shall certainly go abroad. T 
remember when I was abroad, about '20 ; it was delightfully 
g — gay and jolly. I very nearly married a vi — viscountess, a. 
French woman. I was fearfully in love, but som — somebody 
else married her, not I. It was a very s — strange thing. I 
had only gone away for a coup — couple of hours, and this 
Ger — German baron fellow came and carried her off 1 He 
went into a ma — mad-house afterwards V* 

" Yes, dear prince, you must look after your health., 
Theie are such good doctors abroad ; and — besides, the 



uncle's dream. 31 

mere change of life, what will not that alone do for you ! 
You viust desert your dear Donchanovo, if only for a time ! " 

'* C — certainly, certainly ! IVe long meant to do it. 
I*m going to try hy — hydropathy I " 

" Hydropathy ? " 

" Yes. I've tried it once before : I was abroad, you 
know, and they persuaded me to try drinking the wa — waters. 
There wasn't anything the matter with me, but I agreed, 
just out of deli — delicacy for their feelings ; and I did 
seem to feel easier, somehow. So I drank, and drank, and 
dra — ank up a whole waterfall; and I assure you if I hadn't 
fallen ill just then I should have been quite well, th — 
thanks to the water ! But, I confess, you've frightened me 
so about these ma — maladies and things, I feel quite put 
out. ril come backd — directly !" 

"Why, prince, where are you off to ? " asked Maria 
Alexandrovna in surprise. 

" Directly, directly. I'm just going to note down an 
i— idea ! " 

*' What sort of idea ? " cried Paul, bursting with laughter. 

Maria Alexandrovna lost all patience. 

" I cannot understand what you find to laugh at ! " she 
cried, as the old man disappeared ; " to laugh at an 
honourable old man, and turn every word of his into 
ridicule — presuming on his angelic good nature. I assure 
you I blushed for you, Paul Alexandrovitch ! Why, what 
do you see in him to laugh at? I never saw anything 
funny about him ! " 

" Well, I laugh because he does not recognise people, 
and talks such nonsense ! " 

" That's simply the result of his sad life, ot his dreadful 
^wt years* captivity, under the guardianship of that she- 
devil ! You should pity, not laugh at him ! He did not 
even know me; you saw it yourself. I tell you it's a crying 
shame ; he must be saved, at all costs I I recommend him 
to go abroad so that he may get out of the clutches of that 
— ^beast of a woman ! " 

" Do you know what —we must find him a wife !" cried Paul. 

" Oh, Mr. Mosgliakoff, you are too bad ; you really are 
too bad I" 



3^ uncle's dream. 

" No, no, Maria Alexandrcvna ; I assure you, this time 
I'm speaking in all seriousness I Why nof marry him off? 
Isn't it rather a brilliant idea ? What harm can marriage 
do him ? On the contrary, he is in that position that such a 
step alone can save him ! In the first place, he will get rid 
of that fox of a woman ; and, secondly, he may find some 
girl, or better still some widow— kind, good,wise and gentle, 
and poor, who will look after him as his own daughter 
would, and who witt be sensible of the honour he does her 
in making her his wife ! And what could be better for the 
old fellow than to have such a person about him, rather 
than the — woman he has now ? Of course she must be 
nice-looking, for uncle appreciates good looks ; didn't 
you observe how he stared at Miss Zina? " 

" But how will you find him such a bride ? " asked Nas- 
tasia Petrovna, who had listened intently to Paul's sugges- 
tion. 

" What a question ! Why, you. yourself, if you pleased ! 
and why not, pray ? In the first place, you are good-look- 
ing, you are a widow, you are generous, you are poor (at 
least I don't think you are very rich). Then you are a 
very reasonable woman : you'll learn to love him, and take 
good care of him ; you'll send that other woman to the 
deuce, and take your husband abroad, where you will feed 
him on pudding and lollipops till the moment of his 
quitting this wicked world, which will be in about a year, or 
in a couple of months perhaps. After that, you emerge a 
princess, a rich widow, and, as a prize for your goodness 
to the old gentlemsm, you'll marry a fine young marquis, or 
a governor-general, or somebody of the sort I There — 
that's a pretty enough prospect, isn't it ? " 

" Tfu I Goodness me 1 I should fall in love with him 
at once, out of pure gratitude, if he only proposed to me ! " 
said the widow, with her black eyes all ablaze ; " but, of 
course, it's all nonsense I " 

** Nonsense, is it ? Shall I make it sound sense, then, for 
you? Ask me prettily, and if I don't make you his 
betrothed by this evening, you may cut my little finger off ! 
Why, there's nothing in the world easier than to talk uncle 
into anything you please I He'll only say, 'Ye — ^yes, 



uncle's dream. 33 

ye — ^yes,' just as you heard him now ! We'll marry him so 
that he doesn't know anything about it, if you hke? We'll 
deceive him and marry him, if you please ! Any way you 
like, it can be done I Why, it's for his own good ; it's out of 
pity for himself! Don't you think, seriously, Nastasia 
Petrovna, that you had better put on some smart clothes in 
any case ? " 

Paul's enthusiasm amounted by now to something like 
madness, while the widow's mouth watered at his idea, in 
spite of her better judgment. 

" I know, I know I look horridly untidy ! " she said. 
'* I go about anyhow, nowadays ! There's nothing to dress 
for. Do I really look like a regular cook ? " 

All this time Maria Alexandrovna sat still, with a strange 
expression on her face, I shall not be far wrong if I 5:ay 
that she listened to Paul's wild suggestion with a look of 
terror, almost : she was confused and startled ; at last she 
recollected herself, and spoke. 

** All this is very nice, of course ; but at the same time it 
is utter nonsense, and perfectly out of the question ! " she 
observed cuttingly. 

" Why, why, my good Maria Alexandrovna ? Why is it 
such nonsense, or why out of the question ? " 

" For many reasons ; and, principally because you are, 
as the prince is also, a guest in my house ; and I cannot 
permit anyone to forget their respect towards my establish- 
ment ! I shall consider your words as a joke, Paul 
Alexandrovitch, and nothing more ! Here comes the 
prince — thank goodness 1 " 

" Here I am! " cried the old man as he entered. " It's 
a wo — wonderful thing how many good ideas of all 
s — sorts I'm having to-day ! and another day I may spend 
the whole of it without a single one ! As — tonishing ? not 
one all day !" 

" Probably the result of your accident, to-day, uncle ! , 
Your nerves got shaken up, you see, and " 

** Ye — yes, I think so, I think so too ; and I look on the 
accident as pro — fitable, on the whole ; and therefore I'm 
going to excuse the coachman. I don't think it was an 
at — tempt on my life, after all, do you ? Besides, he was 



34 UNCLES DREAM. 

punished a little while a — ^go,\vhen his beard was sh — shaved 
off!" . 

" Beard shaved off? Why, uncle, his beard is as big as 
a German state ! " 

" Ye— yes, a German «tate, you are very happy in your 
ex — pressions, my boy ! but it's a fa — false one. Fancy 
what happened : I seijt for a price-current for false hair and 
beards, and found adv'ertisemcnts for splendid ser^vants* 
and coachmen's beards; very cheap — extraordinarily so 1 
I sent for one, and it certainly was a be — auty. But when 
we wanted to clap it on the coachman, we found he had 
one of his own t —twice as big ; so I thought, shall I cut 
off his, or let him wear it, and send this one b — back ? and 
I decided to shave his off, and let him wear the f — false one ! " 

" On the theory that art is higher than nature, I suppose 
uncle?" 

" Yes, yes I Just so — and I assure you, when we cut off 
his beard he suffered as much as though we were depriving 
him of all he held most dear ! But we must be go— going, 
my boy ! " 

" But I hope, dear prince, that you will only call upon the 
governor ! " cried Maria Alexandrovna, in great agitation. 
" You are mine now. Prince ; you belong to my family for 
the whole of this day ! Of course I will say nothing about 
the society of this place. Perhaps you are thinking of 
paying Anna Nicolaevna a visit ? I will not say a word to 
dissuade you ; but at the same time I am quite convinced 
that — time will show ! Remember one thing, dear Prince, 
that I am your sister, your nurse, your guardian for to-day 
at least, and oh ! — I tremble for you. You don't know these 
people, Prince, as I do ! You don't know them fully : but 
time will teach you all you do not know. " 

" Trust me, Maria Alexandrovna!" said Paul, "it shall 
all be exactly as I have promised you ! '* 

"Oh — ^but you're such a weathercock! I can never 
trust 7<?//.' I shall wait for you at dinner time, Prince; we 
dine early. How sorry I am that my husband happens to 
be in the country on such an occasion ! How happy he would 
have been to see you ! He esteems you so highly, Prince^ 
he is so sincerely attached to you T' 



uncle's dream. 35 

" Your husband ? dear me ! So you have a h — husband, 
too ! '' observed the old man. 

" Oh, prince, prince ! how forgetful you are ! Why, you 
have quite, quite forgotten the past I My husband, Afanassy 
Matveyevitch, surdy you must remember him ? He is in 
the country ; but you have seen him thousands of times 
before! Don*t you remember — Afanassy Matveyevitch!" 

" Afanassy Matveyevitch. Dear me ! — and in the co — 
country! how very charming! Sp.you have a husband ! 
dear me, I remember a vaudeville very like that, something 
about — 

• The husband's here, 
And his wife at Tvere.' 

Charming, charming — such a good rhyme too ; and it's a 
most ri — diculous story ! Charming, charming ; the wife's 

away, you know, atJaroslaforTv or somewhere, and the 

husband is is Dear me ! I'm afraid I've for- 
gotten what we were talking about ! Yes, yes— we must be 
going, my boy ! Au revoir, inadame ; adieu, ma channante 
demoiselle " he added, turning to Zina, and putting the ends 
of her fingers to his lips. 

" Come back to dinner, — to dinner, prince ! don't forget 
to come back here quick ! " cried Maria Alexandre vna after 
them as they went out ^ " be back to dinner i ^ 



CHAPTER V. 

•* Nastasia Petrovna, I think you had better go and see 
what is doing in the kitchen ! '* observed Maria Alexan- 
drovna, as she returned from seeing the prince off. " I'm 
sure that rascal Nikitka will spoil the dinner ! Probably he's 
drunk already ! " The widow obeyed. 

As the latter left the room, she glanced suspiciously at 
Maria Alexandrovna, and observed that the latter was in a 
high state of agitation. Therefore, instead of going to 
look after Nikitka, she went through the " Salon, " along 
the passage to her own room, and throujjh that to a dark 
box-room, where the old clothes of the establishment and 
such things were stored. There she approached the locked 
door on tiptoe ; and stifling her breath, she bent to the key- 
hole, through which she peeped, and settled herself to listen 
intently. This door, which was always kept shut, was one 
of the three doors communicating with the room where 
Maria Alexandrovna and Zina were now left alone. Maria 
Alexandrovna always considered Nastasia an untrust- 
worthy sort of woman, although extremely silly into the 
bargain. Of course she had suspected the widow — more 
than once — of eavesdropping; but it so happened that 
at the moment Madame Moskaleva was too agitated and 
excited to think of the usual precautions. 

She was sitting in her armchair and gazing at Zina. 
Zina felt that her mother was looking at her, and was con- 
scious of an unpleasant sensation at her heart. 

" Zina ! " 

Zina slowly turned her head towards the speaker, and 
lifted her splendid dark eyes to hers. 
36 



uncle's DR£AM. 37 

**Zmd, I wish to speak to you on a most important 
matter 1 " 

Zina adopted an attentive air, and sat still with folded 
hands, waiting for light In her face there was an expression 
of annoyance as well as irony, which she did her best to 
hide. 

** I wish to ask you first, Zina, what you thought of 
that Mosgliakoff, to-day ? '* . 

" You have known my opinion of him for a long time I " 
replied Zina, surlily, 

** Yes, yes, of course I but I think he is getting just a 
little too troublesome, with his continual bothering you ^^ 

" Oh, but he says he is in love with me, in which case his 
mportunity is pardonable \ " 

" Strange ! You used not to be so ready to find his 
offences pardonable \ you used to fly out at him if ever I 
mentioned his name ! " 

" Strange, too, that you always defended him, and were 
so very anxious that I should marry him I — ^and now you 
are the first to attack him ! " 

" Yes ; I don't deny, Zina, that I did wish, then, to see 
you married to Mosgliakoff ! It was painful to me to wit- 
ness your continual grief, your sufferings, which I can well 
realize — whatever you may think to the contrary 1 — and 
which deprived me of my rest at night I I determined at 
last that there was but one great change of life that would 
ever save you from the sorrows of the past, and that change 
was matrimony 1 We are not rich ; we cannot afford to go 
abroad. All the asses in the place prick their long ears, 
and wonder that you should be unmarried at twenty-three 
years old ; and they must needs invent all sorts of stories to 
account for the fact 1 As if I would marry you to one ot 
our wretched little town councillors, or to Ivan Ivanovitch, 
the family lawyer ! There are no husbands for you in this 
place, Zina 1 Of course Paul Mosgliakoff is a silly sort of 
a fellow, but he is better than these people here : he is fairly 
bom, at least, and he has 150 serfs and landed property, all 
of which is better than living by bribes and corruption, and 
goodness knows what jobbery besides, as these do ! and that 
is why I allowed my eyes to rest on him. But I give you 

D 



^8 unqle's dreAm. 

my soleinn word, I never had any real sympathy for him! 
and if Providence has sent you' someone better now, oh, 
my d^ar girl, how fortunate that you have not given your 
word to MosgliakofF ! You didn't tell him anything for 
certain to-day, did you, Zina ? '* 

" What is the use of beating about the bush, when the 
whole thing lies in a couple of words ? " said Zina, with 
some show of annoyance. 

" Beating about the bush, Zina ? Is that the way to 
speak to your mother ? But what am I ? You have long 
ceased to trust to your poor mother ! You have long looked 
upon me as your enemy, and not as your mother at all ! " 

' " Oh, come mother ! you and I are beyond quarrelling 
about an expression 1 Surely we understand one another 
by now ? It is about time we did, anyhow 1 " 

" But you offend me, my child ! you will not believe that 
I am ready to devote «//, all I can give, in order to establish 
your destiny on a safe and happy footing ! " 

Zina looked angrily and sarcastically at her mother. 

** Would not you like to marry me to this old prince, 
now, in order to establish my destiny on a safe and happy 
footing ? " 

" I have not said a word about it ; but, as you mention 
the fact, I will say that if you wer^ to marry the prince it 
would be a very happy thing for you, and " 

" Oh ! Well, I consider the idea utter nonsense I " cried 
the girl passionately. " Nonsense, humbug ! and what's 
more, I think you have a good deal too much poetical 
inspiration, mamma ; you are a woman poet in the fullest 
sense of the term, and they call you by that name here 1 You 
are always full of projects ; and the impracticability and 
absurdity of your ideas does not in the least discourage you. 
I felt, when the prince was sitting here, that you had that 
notion in your head. When Mosgliakoff was talking non- 
sense there about marrying the old man to somebody I 
read all your thoughts in your face. I am ready to bet any 
money that you are thinking of it now, and that you have 
come to me now about this very question ! However, as 
your perpetual projects on my behalf are beginning to 
weary me to death, I must beg you not to say one word 



uncle's dream. ^9 

about it, not one wordy mamma ; do you hear me ? not out 
word ; and I beg you will remember what I say I " She 
was panting with rage. 

** You are a child, Zina ; a poor sorrow-worn, sick child I " 
said Maria Alexandrovna in tearful accents. " You speak 
to your poor mother disrespectfully ; you wound me deeply, 
my dear ; there is not another mother in the world who 
would have borne what I have to bear from you every day I 
But you are suffering, you are sick, you are sorrowful, and I 
am your mother, and, first of all, I am a Christian woman I 
I must bear it all, and forgive it. But one word, Zina : if I 
had really thought of the union you suggest, why would you 
consider it so impracticable and absurd ? In my opinion, 
Mosgliakoff has never said a wiser thing than he did to-day, 
when he declared that marriage was what alone could save 
the prince, — not, of course, marriage with that slovenly slut, 
Nastasia ; there he certainly did make a fool of himself ! " 

" Now look here, mamma ; do you ask me this out of 
pure curiosity, or with design ? Tell me the truth." 

'*A11 I ask is, why does it appear to you to be so 
absurd?" 

" Good heavens, motlier, you'll drive me wild I What a 
fate 1" cried Zina, stamping her foot with impatience. " I'll 
tell you why, if you can't see for yourself. Not to mention 
all the other evident absurdities of the plan, to take advan- 
tage of the weakened wits of a poor old man, and deceive 
him and marry him —an old cripple, in order to get hold of 
his money, — ^and then every day and every hour to wish 
for his death, is, in my opinion, not only nonsense, but so 
mean, x^ mean, mamma, that_I — I can't congratulate you 
on your brilliant idea ; that's all I can say 1 " 

There was silence for one minute. 

"Zina, do you remember all that happened two years 
ago ? " asked Maria Alexandrovna of a sudden. 

Zina trembled. 

"Mammal" she said, severely, "you promised me 
solemnly never to mention that again." 

*' And I ask you now, as solemnly, my dear child, to 
allow me to break that promise, just once ! I have never 
broken it before. Zina 1 the time has come for a full and 

P— 2 



40 uncle's dream. 

dear understanding between us ! These two years of 
silence have been terrible. We cannot go on like this. I 
am ready *o pray you, on my knees, to let me speak. Listen, 
Zina, your own mother who bore you beseeches you, on 
her knees! And I promise you faithfully, Zina, and 
solemnly, on the word of an unhappy but adoring mother, 
that never, under any circumstances, not even to save my 
life, will I ever mention the subject again. This shall be 
the last time, but it is absolutely necessary ! " 

Miria Alexandrovna counted upon the effect of her 
words, and with reason : 

" Speak, then !" said Zina, growing whiter every moment. 

"Thank you, Zina! Two years ago there came 

to the house, to teach your little brother Mitya, since dead, a 
tutor " 

" Why do you begin so solemnly, mamma ? Why all this 
eloquence, all these quite unnecessary details, which are 
painful to me, and only too well known to both of us ? " 
cried Zina with a sort of irritated disgust. 

" Because, my dear child, I, your mother, felt in some 
degree bound to justify myself before you ; and also because 
I wish to present this whole question to you from an entirely 
new point of view, and not from that mistaken position 
which you are accustomed to take up with regard to it ; 
and because, lastly, I think you will thus better understand 
the conclusion at which I shall arrive upon the whole 
question ? Do not think, dear child, that I wish to trifle 
• with your heart ! No, Zina, you will find in me a real 
mother ; and perhaps, with tears streaming from your eyes, 
you will ask and beseech at my feet — at the feet of the 
* mean woman^ as you have just called me, — yes, and pray 
for that reconciliation which you have rejected so long f 
That's why I wish to recall all, Zina, all that has happened, 
from the very beginning ; and without this I shall not speak 
at all!" 

" Speak, then ! " repeated Zina, cursing the necessity for 
her mother's eloquence from the very bottom of her 
heart 

'*I continue then, Zina! This tutor, a master of 

the parish school, almost a boy, makes upon you what is, to 



uncle's dream. 41 

me, a totally inexplicable impression. I built too much upon 
my confidence in your good sense, or your noble pride, and 
principally upon the fact of his insignificance — (I must 
speak out !) — to allowmyself to harbour the slightest suspicion 
of you ! And then you suddenly come to me, one fine day, 
and state that you intend to marry the man I Zina, it was 
putting a knife to my heart I I gave a shriek and lost con- 
sciousness. 

'* But of course you remember all this. Of course I 
thought it my duty to use all my power over you, which 
power you called t5a-anny. Think for yourself — a boy, the 
son of a deacon, receiving a salary of twelve roubles a month 
— a writer of weak verses which are printed, out of pity, in the 
* library of short readings.* A man, a boy, who could talk of 
nothing but that accursed Shakespeare, — this boy to be the 
husband of Zenaida Moskalof ! Forgive me, Zina, but the 
very thought of it all makes me wild! 

" I rejected him, of course. But no power would stop jy?« ; 
your father only blinked his eyes, as usual, and could not 
even understand what I was telling him about. You con- 
tinue your relations with this boy, even giving him rendez- 
vous, and, worst of all, you allow yourself to correspond 
with him! 

*' Rumours now begin to flit about town : I am assailed 
with hints ; they blow their trumpets of joy and triumph ; 
and suddenly all my fears and anticipations are verified I 
You and he quarrel over something or other ; he shows him- 
self to be a boy (I can't call him a. man !), who is utterly 
unworthy of you, and threatens to show your letters all over 
the town ! On hearing this threat, you, beside yourself 
with irritation, boxed his ears. Yes, Zina, I am aware of 
even that fact ! I know all, all 1 But to continue — the wretched 
boy shows one of your letters the very same day to that ne'er- 
do-well Zanshin, and within an hour Natalie Diniitrievna 
holds it in her hands — my deadly enemy ! The same even- 
ing the miserable fellow attempts to put an end to himself, 
in remorse. In a word, there is a fearful scandal stirred up. 
That slut, Nastasia, comes panting to me with the dreadful 
news ; she tells me that Natalie Dimitrievna has had your 
letter for a whole hour. In a couple of hours the whole 



49 uncle's dream. 

town will learn of your foolishness ! I bore it all. I did not 
fall down i i a swoon ; but oh, the blows, the blows you dealt to 
my heart, Zina I That shameless scum of the earth, Nastasia, 
says she will get the letter back for two hundred roubles ! I 
myself run over, in thin shoes, too, through the snow to the 
Jew Baumstein, and pledge my diamond clasps — a keepsake 
of my dear mother's I In a couple of hours the letter is in 
my hands ! Nastasia had stolen it ; she had broken open 
a desk, and your honour was safe ! 

" But what a dreadful day you had sentenced me to live ! 
I noticed some grey hairs among my raven locks for the 
first time, next morning ! Zina, you have judged this boy's 
action yourself now! You can admit now, and perhaps 
smile a bitter smile over the admission, that it was beyond 
the limits of good sense to wish to entrust your fate to this 
youth. 

**But since that fatal time you are wretched, my child, you 
are miserable 1 You cannot forget him, or rather not him — • 
for he was never worthy of you, — but you cannot forget 
the phantom of your past joy 1 This wretched young fellow 
is now on )the point of death — consumption, they say ; and 
you, angel of goodness that you are I you do not wish to 
marry while he is alive, because you fear to harass him in 
his last days ; because to this day he is miserable with 
jealousy, though I am convinced that he never loved you 
in the best and highest sinse of the word ! I know well 
that, hearing of M jsgliakoffs proposal to you, he has been 
in a flutter of jealousy, and has spied upon you and your 
actions ever since ; and you — you have been merciful to 
him, my child. And oh ! God knows how I have watered 
my pi I lew with tears for you ! " 

" Oh, mother, do drop all this sort of thing ! " cried Zina, 
with inexpressible agony in her tone. ** Surely we needn't 
hear all about your pillow 1 " she added, sharply. " Can't 
we get on without all this declamation and pirouetting ? " 

** You do not believe me, Zina ! Oh ! do not look so 
unfriendly at me, my child ! My eyes have not been dry 
these two years. I have hidden my tears from you ; but I 
am changed, Zina mine, much changed and in many ways ! 
I have long known of your feelings, Zina, but I admit I have 



uncle's dream. 43f 

only lately realized the depth of your mental anguish. Can 
you blame me, my child, if I looked upon this attachment 
of yours as romanticism — called into being by that accursed 
Shakespeare, who shoves his nose in everywhere where he 
isn't wanted ? 

" What mother would blame me for my fears of that kind, 
for my measures, for the severity of my judgment? But now, 
understanding as I do, and realizing your two years' suffer- 
ings, I can estimate the depth of your real feelings. 
Believe me, I understand you far better than you understand 
yourself ! I am convinced that you love not him — not 
this unnatural boy, — but your lost happiness, your broken 
hopes, your cracked idol ! 

"I have loved too — perhaps more deeply than yourself; 
I, too, have suffered, I, too, have lost my exalted ideals and 
seen them levelled with the earth ; and therefore who can 
blame me now — and, above all, can you blame me now, — 
if I consider a marriage with the prince to be the one 
savmsj, the one essefitial move left to you in your present 
position ? ' 

Zina listened to this long declamation with surprise. She 
knew well that her mother never adopted this tone without 
good reason. However this last and unexpected conclusion 
fairly amazed her. 

" You don't mean to say you seriously entertain the idea 
of marrying me to this prince?" she cried bewildered, and 
gazing at her mother almost with alarm ; " that this is no 
mere idea, no project, no flighty inspiration, but your 
del brate intention? I ^^z^^ guessed right, then? And 
pray, Iiow is this marriage going to save me ? and why is it 
essential to me in my present position ? And — and what 
has all this to do with what you have been talking about ? 
I cannot understand you, mother, — not a bit ! " 

" And J can't understand, angel mine, how you cannot 
see the connection of it all 1 " cried Maria Alexandrovna, in 
her turn. " In the first place, you would pass into new 
society, into a new world. You would leave for ever this 
loathsome little town, so full of sad memories for you ; 
where you meet neither friends nor kindness ; where they 
have bullied and maligned you; where all these — these 



44 unci^e's dream* 

magpies hate you because you are good looking 1 You 
could go abroad this very spring, to Italy, Switzerland, Spain I 
— to Spain, Zina, where the Alhambra is, and where the 
Guadalquiver flows — no wretched little stream Hke this of 
Durs!" 

" But, one moment, mother ; you talk as though I were 
married already, or at least as it the prince had made me an 
Dfler!" 

" Oh, no — oh dear, no I don't bother yourself about that, 
my angel ! I know what I'm talking about ! Let me pro- 
ceed. I've said my * firstly ;' now, then, for my ' secondly ! ' 
I understand, dear child, with what loathing you would give 
your hand to that Mosgliakoff ! ^" 

" I know, without your telling me so, that I shall never 
be his wife I " cried Zina, angrily, and with flashing eyes. 

" If only you knew, my angel, how I understand and enter 
into your loathing for him I It is dreadful to vow before 
the altar that you will love a man whom you cannot love — 
how dreadful to belong to one whom you cannot esteem I 
And he insists on your Icme — he only marries you for love. 
I can see it by the way he looks at you 1 Why deceive our- 
selves ? I have suffered from the same thmg for twenty- 
five years ; your father ruined me — he, so to speak, 
sucked up my youth ! You have seen my tears many a 
time 1 " 

" Father's away in the country, don't touch him^ please 1 " 
said Zina. 

" I know you always take his part I Oh, Zina, my very 
heart trembled within me when I thought to arrange your 
marriage with Mosgliakoff for financial reasons I I trembled 
for the consequences. But with the prince it is different, 
you need not deceive him ; you cannot be expected to give 
him your love^ not your love — oh, no ! and he is not in a 
state to ask it of you ! " 

" Good heavens, what nonsense I I do assure you you 
are in error from the very first step — from the first and most 
important step 1 Understand, that I do not care to make a 
martyr of myself for some unknown reason 1 Know, also, that 
I shall not marry anyone at all ; I shall remain a maid. You 
have bitten my head off for the last two years because I 



uncle's dream. 45 

would not marry. Well, you must accept the fact, and make 
the best of it ; that's all I can say, and so it shall be ! " 

** But Zina, darling— my Zina, don't be so cross before 
you have heard me out I What a hot-headed little person 
you are, to be sure I Let me show you the matter from my 
point of view, and you'll agree with me— you really will ! 
The prince will live a year — two at most ; and surely it is 
better to be a young widow than a decayed old maid ! Not 
to mention the fact that you will be a princess — free, rich, 
independent I I dare say you look with contempt upon all 
these calculations — founded upon his death ; but I am 
a mother, and what mother will blame me for my fore- 
sight ? 

*' And if you, my angel of kindness, are unwilling to marry, 
even now, out of tenderness for that wretched boy's feel- 
ings, oh, think, think how, by marrying this prince, you 
will rejoice his heart and soothe and comfort his soul ! For 
if he has a single particle of commonsense, he must under- 
stand that jealousy of this old man were too absurd — too 
ridiculous ! He will understand that you marry him — for 
monev, for convenience ; that stern necessity compels you 
to it 1 

" And lastly, he will understand that — that, — well I sim- 
ply wish to say, that, upon the prince's death, you will be 
at liberty to marry whomsoever you please." 

"That's a truly simple arrangement ! All I have to do is 
to marry this prince, rob him of his money, and then count 
upon his death in order to marry my lover ! You are a 
clever arithmetician, mamma ; you do your sums and get 
your totals nicely. You wish to seduce me by offering me 
this ! Oh, I understand you, mamma — I understand you 
well ! You cannot resist the expression of your noble sen- 
timents and exalted ideas, even in the manufacture of a 
nasty business. Why can't you say simply and straightfor- 
wardly, * Zina, this is a dirty affair, but it will pay us, so 
please agree with me ?' at all events, that would be candid 
and frank on your part." 

" But, my dear child, why, mhy look at it from this point 
of view ? Why look at it under the light of suspicion as 
deceit^ and low cunning, and covetousness ? You consider 



46 uncle's dream*' 

my calculations as meanness, as deceit ; but, by all that is 
good and tru^, where is the meanness? Show me the deceit. 
Look at yourself in the glass : you are so beautiful, that a 
kingdom would be a fair price for you ! And suddenly you, 
you, the possessor of this divine beauty, sacrifice yourself, 
in order to soothe the last years of an old man's life ! 
You would be like a beautiful star, shedding your light over 
the evening of his days/ You would be like the fresli green 
ivy, twining in and about his old age ; not the stinging 
nettle that -this wretched woman at his place is, fastening 
herself upon him, and thirstily sucking his blood ! Surely 
his money, his rank are not worthy of being put in the 
scales beside you ? Where is the meanness of it ; where is 
the deceit of all this ? You don't know what you are say- 
ing, Zina." 

" I suppose they are worthy of being weighed against me, 
if I am to marry a cripple for them ! No, mother, however 
you look at it, it is deceit, and you can't get out of thai ! " 

** On the contrary, my dear child, I can look at it from 
a high, almost from an exalted — nay, Christian — point of 
view. You, yourself, told me once, in a fit of temporary 
insanity of some sort, that you wished to be a sister of 
charity. You had suffered ; you said your heart could love 
no more. If, then, you cannot love, turn your thoughts to 
the higher aspect of the case. This poor old man has also 
suffered — he is unhappy. I have known him, and felt 
the deepest sympathy towards him— akin to love, — for 
many a year. Be his frienti, his daughter, be his play- 
thing, even, if you like ; but warm his old heart, and you 
are doing a good work — a virtuous, kind, noble work of 
love. 

" He may be funny to look at ; don't think of that. He's 
but half a man — pity him ! You are a Christian girl — do 
whatever is right by him; and this will be medicine for 
your own heart- wounds ; employment, action, all this will 
heal you too, and where is the deceit here ? But you do 
not believe me. Perhaps you think that I am deceiving 
myself when I thus talk of duty and of action. You think 
that I, a woman of the world, have no right to good feeling 
and the promptings of duty and virtue. Very well, do not 



uncle's dream. 47 

trust me, if you like : insult me, do what you please to your 
poor mother; but you will have to admit that her words 
carry the stamp of good sense, — they are saving words ! 
Imagine that someone else is talking to you, not I. Shut 
your eyes, and fancy that some invisible being is speaking. 
What is worrying you is the idea that all this is for money — 
a sort of sale or purchase. Very well, then refuse the money, 
if it is so loathsome to your eyes. Leave just as much as is 
absolutely necessary for yourself, and give the rest to the 
poor. Help hiniy if you like, the poor fellow who lies there 
a-dying ! " 

" He would never accept my help ! " muttered Zina, as 
though to herself. 

" He would not, but his mother would ! " said Maria A'ex- 
androvna. " She would take it, and keep her secret You 
sold your ear-rings, a present from your aunt, half a year or 
so ago, and helped her ; / know all about it ! I know, too, 
that the woman washes linen in order to support her un- 
fortunate son ! " 

" He will soon be where he requires no more help! " 

" I know, I understand your hints." Maria Alexandrovna 
sighed a real sigh. ** They say he is in a consumption, and 
must die. 

'* But who says so? 

" I asked the doctor the other day, because, havlner a 
tender heart, Zina, I felt interested in the poor fellow. The 
doctor said that he was convinced the malady was not con- 
sumption ; that it was dangerous, no doubt, but still not 
consumption, only some severe affection of the lungs. Ask 
him yourself! He certainly told me that under d.ffsjrent 
conditions — change of climate and of his style of living, — 
the sick man might well recover. He said — and I have 
read it too, somewhere, that off Spain there is a wonderful 
island, called Malaga — I think it was Malaga ; anyhow, 
the name was like some wine, where, not only ordinary 
sufferers from chest maladies, but even consumptive pa- 
tients, recover entirely, solely by virtue of the climate, and 
that sick people go there on purpose to be cured. 

" Oh, but Spain — the Alhambra alone — and the lemons, 
and the riding on mules. All this is enough in itself to im- 



4$ uncle's dream. 

press a poetical nature. You think he would not accept 
your help, your money — for such a journey ? Very well — 
deceit is permissible where it may save a man's life. 

" Give him hope, too ! Promise him your love ; promise 
to marry him when you are a widow ! Anything in the world 
can be said with care and tact ! Your own mother would 
not counsel you to an ignoble deed, Zina. You will do as I 
say, to save thisboy*s life ; and with this object, everything is 
permissible ! You will revive his hope ; he will himself begin 
to think of his health, and listen to what the doctor says to 
him. He will do his best to resuscitate his dead happiness ; 
and if he gets well again, even if you never marry him, you 
will have saved him — raised him from the dead ! 

'* I can look at him with some sympathy. I admit I can, 
now ! perhaps sorrow has changed him for the better ; and 
I say frankly, if he should be worthy of you when you be- 
come a widow, marry him, by all means ! You will be rich 
then, and independent. You can not only cure him, but, 
having done so, you can give him position in the world — a 
career 1 Your marriage to him will then be possible and 
pardonable, not, as now, an absolute impossibility ! 

" For what would become of both of you were you to be 
capable of such madness now ? Universal contempt, beg- 
gary ; smacking little boys, which is part of his duty ; the 
reading of Shakespeare; perpetual, hopeless life in Mordasoff ; 
and lastly his certain death, which will undoubtedly take 
place before long unless he is taken away from here ! 

" While, if you resuscitate him — if you raise him from the 
dead, as it were, you raise him to a good, useful, and 
virtuous life ! He may then enter public life — make him- 
self rank, and a name ! At the least, even if he must die, 
he will die happy, at peace with himself, in your arms — for 
he will be by then assured of your love and forgiveness 
of the past, and lying beneath the scent of myrtles and 
lemons, beneath the tropical sky of the South. Oh, Zina, 
all this is within your grasp, and all— all is gain. Yes, and 
all to be had by merely marrying this prince.'* 

Maria Alexandrovna broke off, and for several minutes 
there was silence ; not a word was said on either side : 
2^a was in a state of indescribable agitation. I say inde- 



tJNCLE's DREAM. 49 

scribable because I will not attempt to describe Zina's feel- 
ings : I cannot guess at them ; but I think that Maria 
Aiexandrovna had found the road to her heart. 

Not knowing how her words had sped with her daughter, 
Maria Aiexandrovna now began to work her busy brain to 
imagine and prepare herself for every possible humour that 
Zina might prove to be in ; but at last she concluded 
that she had happened upon the right track after all. Her 
rude hand had touched the sorest place in Zina's heart, but 
her crude and absurd sentimental twaddle had not blinded 
her daughter. " However, that doesn't matter " — thought 
the mother. "All I care to do is to make her think ; I 
wish my ideas to stick !" So she reflcicted, and she gained 
her end; the effect was made — the arrow reached the 
mark, Zina had listened hungrily as her mother spoke ; 
her cheeks were burning, her breast heaved. 

" Listen, mother," she said at last, with decision ; though 
the sudden pallor of her face showed clearly what the 

decision had cost her. "Listen mother " But at 

this moment a sudden noise in the entrance hall, and a 
shrill female voice, asking for Maria Aiexandrovna, inter- 
rupted Zina, while her mother jumped up from her chair. 

" Oh ! the devil fly away with this magpie of a woman I *' 
cried the latter furiously. **Why, I nearly drove her out by 
force only a fortnight ago ! " she added, almost in despair* 
" I can't, I can't receive her now. Zina, this question is too 
important to be put off: she must have news for me or she 
never would have dared to come. I won't receive the old 

Oh 1 how glad I am to see you, dear Sophia 

Petrovna. What lucky chance brought you to see me ? 
What a charming surprise ! " said Maria Aiexandrovna, 
advancing to receive her guest. 

Zina escaped out of the room. 



CHAPTER VI. 

Mrs. Colonel Tarpuchin, or Sophia Petrovna, was only 
morally like a magpie ; she was more akin to the sparrow 
tribe, viewed physically. She was a little bit of a woman of 
fifty summers or so, with lively eyes, and yellow patches all 
over her face. On her little wizened body and spare Hmbs 
she wore a black silk dress, which was perpetually on the 
rustle : for this litde woman could never sit still for an 
instant. 

This was the most inveterate and bitterest scandal- 
monger in the town. She took her stand on the fact that 
she was a Coloners wife, though she o?ten fought with her 
husband, the Colonel, and scratched his face handsomely 
on such occasions. 

Add to this, that it was her custom to drink four glasses 
of *' vodki " at lunch, or earlier, and four more in the 
evening ; and that she hated Mrs. Antipova to madness. 

" IVe just come in for a minute, mon ange^^^ she panted ; 
** it's no use sitting down — no time ! I wanted to let you 
know what's going on, simply that the whole town has 
gone mad over this prince. Our * beauties,' you know 
what I mean ! are all after him, fishing for him, pulling him 
about, giving him champagne — you would not believe it 1 
wouUt you now ? How on earth you could ever have let him 
out of the 1 o ise, I can't understand 1 Are you aware that 
he's at Nataha Dimitrievna's at this momxint? " 

" At Natalia Dimitrievna^ s 1 " cried Maria Alexandrovna 
jumping up. " Why, he was only going to see the Governor, 
and then call in for one moment at the Antipovas ! " 

" Oh, yes, just for one moment — ot course ! Well, catch 
him if you can, there ! That's all I can say. He found the 
Governor *out,' and went on to Mrs. Antipova's, where he has 
SO 



r ^ 



UNCLE S DREAM. 5I 

promised to dine. There Natalia caught him — she is never 
away from Mrs. Antipova nowadays, — and persuaded him 
to come away with her to lunch. So there's your prince I 
catch him if you can ! " 

** But how — MosgliakofiTs wMth him — he promised — " 

** Mosgliakoff, indeed, — why, he's gone too ! and theyHl be 
playing at cards and clearing him out before he knows 
where he is! And the things Natalia is saying, too — out 
loud if you please ! She's telling the prince to his face that 
you, you have got hold of him with certain views — vous 
ComprmezV^ 

"She calmly tells him this to his face I Of course he doesn't 
understand a word of it, and simply sits there like a soaked 
cat, and says * Ye — yes ! * And w^ould you believe it, she has 
trotted out her Sonia — a girl of fifteen, in a dress down 
to her knees — my word on it ? Then she has sent for that 
httle orphan — Masha ; she's in a short dress too, — why, I 
swear it doesn't reach her knees. I looked at it carefully 
through my pince-nez ! She's stuck red caps with some 
sort of feathers in them on their heads, and set them to dance 
some silly dance to the piano accompaniment for the prince's 
benefit ! You know his little weakness as to our sex, — well, 
you can imagine him staring at them through his glass and 
saying, * Charmant I — What figures ! ' T'lu ! They've turned 
the place into a music hall I Call that a dance 1 I was 
at school at Madame Jarne's, I know, and there were plenty 
of princesses and countesses there with me, too ; and I know 
I danced before senators and councillors, and earned their 
applause, too : but as for this dance — it's a low can-can, and 
nothing more ! I simply burned with shame, — I couldn't 
stand it, and came out. " 

" How ! have you been at Natalia Dimitrievna's ? Why, 

you !» 

** What ! — she offended me last week ? is that what you 
you mean ? Oh, but, my dear, I had to go and have a peep 
at the prince — else, when should I have seen him ? As if I 
would have gone near her but for this wretched old prince. 
Imagine — chocolate handed round and me left out I'll let 
her have it for that, some day ! Well, good-bye, mon ange: 
I muse hurry off to Akulina, and let her know all about it 



5* uncle's DREAIkT. 

You may say good-bye to the prince ; he won't come neat 
you again now ! He has no memory left, you know, and Mrs. 
Antipova will simply carry him off bodily to her. house. He'll 

think it's all right They're all afraid of you, you know ; 

they think that you want to get hold of him — you under- 
stand ! Zina, you know 1 " 

'' Quelle horreur!'' 

" Oh, yes, 1 know ! I tell you — the whole town is talking 
about it ! Mrs. Antipova is going to make him stay to dinner 
— and then she'll just keep him I She's doing it to spite ^o//, 
my angel. I had a look in at her back premises. Stick arrange- 
ments, my dear. Knives clattering, people running about for 
champagne. I tell you what you must do— go and grab him 
as he comes out from Natalia Dimitrievna's to Antipova's tc 
dinner. He promised ^^« first, \\t's your guest. T'fu ! don't 
you be laughed at by this brace of chattering magpies — good 
for nothing baggage, both of them. ' Procuror's lady,' indeed ! 
Why, I'm a Colonel's wife. T'fu ! — Mais adieu, mon attge. 
I have my own sledge at the door, or I'd go with you." 

Having got rid of this walking newspaper, Maria Alexan- 
drovna waited amoment,to free herself of a little of her super- 
abundant agitation. Mrs. Colonel's advice was good and 
practical. There was no use losing time, — none to lose, in 
fact. But the greatest difficulty of all was as yet unsettled. 

Maria Alexandrovna Hew to Zina's roomf 

Zina was walking up and down, pale, with Tiands folded 
and head bent on her bosom : there were tears in her eyes, 
but Resolve was there too, and sparkled in the glance which 
she threw on her mother as the latter entered the room 
She hastily dried her tears, and a sarcastic smile played or» 
her lips once more. 

** Mamma," she began, anticipating her mother's speech 
"you have already wasted much of your eloquence over me 
-^too much ! But you have not blinded me ; I am not a 
child. To do the work of a sister of mercy, without the 
slightest call thereto, — to justify one's meanness — meannesf 
proceeding in reality from the purest egotism, by attributing 
to it noble ends, — all this is a sort of Jesuitism which cannot 
deceive me. Listen I I repeat, all this ceuld not deceive me^ 
and I wish vou to understand that 1 " 



UNCLES DREAM. 53 

** But, dearest child I " began her mother, in some alarm. 

" Be quiet, mamma ; have patience, and hear me out. In 
spite of the full consciousness that all this is pure Jesuitism, 
and in spite of my full knowledge of the absolutely ignoble 
character of such an act, I accept your proposition in full, — 
you hear me — in full ; and inform you hereby, that I am 
ready to marry the prince. More J I am ready to help 
you to the best of my power in your endeavours to lure the 
prince into making me an offer. Why do I do this ? VTou 
need not know that ; enough that I have consented. I have 
consented to the whole thing — to bringing him his boots, to 
serving him ; I will dance for him, that my meanness may 
be in some sort atoned. I shall do all I possibly can so 
that he shall never regret that he married me 1 But in 
return for my consent I insist upon knowing hoiv you in- 
tend to bring the matter about ? Since you have spoken 
so warmly on the subject — I know you ! —I am convinced 
you must have some definite plan of operation in your head. 
Be frank for once in your life ; your candour is the essential 
condition upon which alone I give my consent. I shall not 
decide until you have told me what I require 1 " 

Maria Alexandrovna was so surprised by the unexpected 
conclusion at which Zina arrived, that she stood before the 
latter some Uttle while, dumb with amazement, and staring at 
her with all her eyes. Prepared to have to combat the 
stubborn romanticism of her daughter — whose obstinate 
nobihty of character she always feared, — she had suddenly 
heard this same daughter consent to all that her mother 
had required of her. 

Consequently, the matter had taken, a very different com- 
plexion. Her eyes sparkled with delight: 

" Zina, Zina 1 " she cried ; " you are my life, my " 

She could say no more, but fell to embracing and kissing 
her daughter. 

** Oh, mother, I don't want all this kissing ! " cried Zina, 
with impatience and disgust. " 1 don't need all this rap- 
ture on your part ; all I want is a plain answer to my 
question ! " 

** But, Zina, I love you ; I adore you, darling, and you 
repel me like this 1 I am working for your happiness, child 1 " 

X 



54 uncle's dream. 

Tears sparkled in her eyes. Maria Alexandrovna really 
loved her daughter, in her own way, and just now she 
actually felt deeply, for once in her life — thanks to her 
agitation, and the success of her eloquence. 

Zina, in spite of her present distorted view of things in 
general, knew that her mother loved her ; but this love only 
annoyed her ; she would much rather— it .would have been 
easier for her — ^if it had been hate ! 

** Well, well ; don't be angry, mamma — I'm so excited 
just now V she said, to soothe her mother's feelings. 

" Tm not angry, I'm not angry, darling ! I know you 
are much agitated ! " cried Maria Alexandrovna. " You 
say,- my child, that you wish me to be candid : very well, I 
wi 1 ; I will be ^uife frank, I assure you. But you might 
have trusted me ! Firstly, then, I must tell you that I have 
no actually organized plan yet — no detailed plan, that is. 
You must understand, with that clever little head of yours, 
you must see, Zina, that I cannot have such a plan, all cut 
out. I even anticipate some difficulties. Why, that magpie 
o» a woman has just been telling me all sorts of things. We 
ought to be quick, by the bye ; you see, I am quite open with 
you 1 But I swear to you that the end shall be attained ! " 
she added, ecstatically. " My convictions are not the re- 
sult of a poetical nature, as you told me just now ; they are 
founded on facts. I rely on the weakness of the prince's 
intellect — which is a canvas upon which one can stitch any 
pattern one pleases ! 

" The only fear is, we may be interfered with ! But a 
fool of a woman like that is not going to get the better of 
me 1 " she added, stamping her foot, and with flashing eyes. 
** That's my part of the business, though ; and to manage it 
thoroughly I must begin as soon as possible — in fact, the 
whole thing, or the most important part of it, must be ar- 
ranged this very day ! " 

*' Very well, mamma ; but now listen to one more piece 
of candour. Do you know why I am so interested in your 
plan of operations, and do not trust it ? because I am not 
sure of myself ! I have told you already that I consent 

to this meanness ; but I must warn you that if I find 

the details of your plan of operations too dirty, too mean 



uncle's dream. 55 

and repulsive, I shall not be able to stand it, and shall 
assuredly throw you over. I know that this is a new 
pettiness, to consent to a wicked thing and then fear the dirt 
in which it floats ! But what's to be done ? So it will be, 
and I warn you ! *' 

" But Zina, dear child, where is the wickedness in this ? ** 
asked Maria Alexandrovna timidly. " It is simply a matter 
of a marriage for profit ; everybody does it ! Look at it in 
this light, and you will see there is nothing particular in it ; 
it is good * form ' enough 1 " 

" Oh, mamma, don't try to play the fox over me ! Don't 
you see that I have consented to everything — to everything 9 
What else do you require of me? Don't be alarmed- if I 
call things by their proper names ! For all you know it 
may be my only comfort 1 " And a bitter smile played over 
her lips. 

** Very well, very well, dear ! we may disagree as to ideas 
and yet be very fond of one another. But if you are afraid 
of the woiking of my plan, and dread that you will see any 
baseness or meanness about it, leave it all to me, dear, and 
I guarantee you that not a particle of dirt shall soil you ! 
Your hands shall be clean ! As if I would be the one to 
compromise you ! Trust me entirely, and all shall go 
grandly and with dignity ; all shall be done worthily ; there 
shall be no scandal — even if there be a whisper afterwards, 
we shall all be out of the way, far off ! We shall not stay 
here, of course I Let them howl if they like, we won't care. 
Besides, they are not worth bothering about, and I wonder 
at your being so frightened of these people, Zina. Don't 
be angry with me ! how can you be so frightened, with your 
proud nature?" 

** I'm not frightened ; you don't understand me a bit I '* 
said Zina, in a tone of annoyance. 

" Very well, darling ; don't be angry. I only talk like 
this because these people about here are always stirring 
up mud, if they cari ; while you — this is the first time 
in your life you have done a mean action. — Mean action ! 
What an old fool I am 1 On the contrary, this is a most 
generous, noble act ! I'll prove this to you once more, Zina. 
Firstly, then, it all depends upon the point of view you 
take up ^" • 

E— 2 



56 uncle's dream. 

" Oh ! bother your proofs, mother. I've surely had 
enouQjh of them by now," cried Zina angrily, and stamped 
her foot on the floor. 

" Well, darling, I won't ; it was stupid of me — I won't ! " 

There was another moment's silence. Maria Alexandrovna 
looked into her daughter's eyes as a little dog looks into the 
eyes of its mistress. 

" I don't understand how you are going to set about it," 
said Zina at last, in a tone of disgust. " I feel sure you 
will only plunge yourself into a pool of shame ! I'm not 
thinking of these people about here. I despise their 
opinions ; but it would be very ignominious ioryou" 

" Oh ! if that's all, my dear child, don't bother your head 
about it : please, please don't ! Let us be agreed about it, 
and then you need not fear for me. Dear me ! if you but 
knew, though, what things I have done, and kept my skm 
whole ! I tell you this is nothvig in comparison with real 
difficulties which I have arranged successfully. Only let 
nie try. But, first of all we must get the prince alone, and 
that as soon as possible. That's the first move : all the rest 
will depend upon the way we manage this. However, I can 
foresee the result. They'll all rise against us; but I'll manage 
them all right 1 I'm a little nervous about Mosgliakoif, 
He " 

"Mosgliakoff! " said Zina, contemptuously. 

** Yes, but don't you be afraid, Zina ! I'll give you my word 
I'll work him so that he shall help us himself. You don't 
know me yet, my Zina. My child, when I heard about this 
old prince having arrived this morning, the idea, as it were, 
shone out all at once in my brain 1 Who would have 
thought of his really coming to us like this ! It is a chance 
such as you might wait for a thousand years in vain. Zma, 
my angel ! there's no shame in what you are doing. What 
is wrong is to marry a man whom you loathe. Your mar- 
riage with the prince will be no real marriage ; it is simply 
a domestic contract. It is he, the old fool, who gains by it 
It is he who is made unspeakably, immeasurably happy. 
Oh ! Zina, how lovely you look to-day. If I were a man I 
would give you half a kingdom if you but raised your finger 
for it ) Asses they all are i Who wouldn't kiss a hand Uke 



UNCLE S DREAM. 57 

this ? " and Maria Alexandrovna kissed her daughter's hand 
warmly. "Why, this is my own flesh and blood, Zina. 
What's to be done afterwards ? You won't part with me, 
will you? You won't drive your old mother away when you 
are happy yourself? No, darling, for though we have 
quarrelled often enough, you have not such another friend 
as I am, Zina I You " 

" Mamma, if youVe made up your mind to it all, perhaps 
it is time you set about making some move in the matter. 
We are losing time," said Zina, impatiently. 

** Yes, it is, it is indeed time ; and here am I gabbling on 
while they are all doing their best to seduce the prince 
away from us. I must be off at once. I shall find them, 
and bring the prince back by force, if need be. Good-bye, 
Zina, darling child. Don't be afraid, and don't look sad, 
dear ; please don't ! It will be all well, nay, gloriously well 1 
Good-bye, good-bye I " 

Maria Alexandrovna made the sign of the Cross over 
Zina, and dashed out of the room. She stopped one 
moment at her looking-glass to see that all was right, 
and then, in another minute, was seated in her carriage 
and careering through the Mordasoff streets. Maria Alex- 
androvna lived in good style, and her carriage was always 
in waiting at that hour in case of need. 

" No, no, my dears I it's not for you to outwit me," she 
thought, as she drove along. " Zina agrees ; so half the 
Work is done. Oh, Zina, Zina ! so your imagination is 
susceptible to pretty little visions, is it ? and I did treat her 
to a pretty little picture. She was really touched at last ; 
and how lovely the child looked to-day! If I had her beauty 
I should turn half Europe topsy-turvy. But wait a bit, it's 
all right. Shakespeare will fly away to another world when 
you're a princess, my dear, and know a few people. What 
does she know ? Mordasoff and the tutor ! And what a 
princess she will make. I love to see her pride and pluck. 
She looks at you like any queen. And not to know her own 
good ! However, she soon will. Wait a bit ; let this old 
fool die, and then the boy, and I'll marry her to a reigning 
prince yet ! The only thing I'm afraid of is — haven't I 
trusted her too much ? Didn't I allow my feelings to run 



58 uncle's dream 

away with me .too far ? I am anxious about her. I am 
anxious, anxious ! " 

Thus Maria Alexandrovna reflected as she drove along. 
She was a busy woman, was Maria Alexandrovna. 

Zina, left alone, continued her solitaiy walk up and down 
the room with folded hands and thoughtful brow. She had 
a good deal to think of ! Over and over agam she repeated, 
" It's time — if s time — oh, it's time 1 " What did this ejacu- 
lation mean ? Once or twice tears glistened on her long 
silken eyelashes, and she did not attempt to wipe them 
away. 

Her mother worried herself in vain, as far as Zina was 
concerned ; for her daughter had quite made up her mind : — 
she was ready, come what might ! 

" Wait a bit ! " said the widow to herself, as she picked 
her way out of her hiding-place, after having observed and 
listened to the interview between Zina and her mother. 
"And I was thinking of a wedding dress for myself; 1 
positively thought the prince would really come my way ! 
So much for my wedding dress — what a fool I was ! Oho ! 
Maria Alexandrovna — I'm a baggage, am I — and a beggar ; 
— and I took a bribe of two hundred roubles from you, 
did I ? And I didn't spend it on expenses connected with 
your precious daughter's letter, did I ? and break open a 
desk for your sake with my own hands ! Yes, madam ; I'll 
teach you what sort of a baggage Nastasia Petrovna is ; 
both of you shall know her a little better yet 1 Wait a 
bill" 



CHAPTER VII. 

Maria Alexandrovna's genius had conceived a great and 
daring project. 

To marry her daughter to a rich man, a prince, and a 
cripple ; to marry her secretly, to take advantage of the 
senile feebleness of her guest, to marry her daughter to this 
old man burglariously y as her enemies would call it, — was 
not only a daring, it was a downright audacious, project. 

Of course, in case of success, it would be a profitable 
undertaking enough ; but in the event of «^«-success, what an 
ignominious position for the authors of such a failure. 

Maria Alexandrovna knew all this, but she did not 
despair. She had been through deeper mire than this, as 
she had rightly informed Zina. 

Undoubtedly all this looked rather too like a robbery on 
the high road to be altogether pleasant ; but Maria 
Alexandrovna did not dwell much on this thought. She 
had one very simple but very pointed notion on the 
subject : namely, this — ^^oncc married they can't be unmarried 
againP 

It was a simple, but very pleasant reflection, and 
the very thought of it gave Maria Alexandrovna a tingling 
sensation in all her limbs. She was in a great state 
of agitation, and sat in her carriage as if on pins and 
needles. She was anxious to begin the fray : her grand 
plan of operations was drawn up ; but there were thousands 
of small details to be settled, and these must depend upon 
circumstances. She was not agitated by fear of failure — 
oh dear, no I all she minded was delay I she feared the 
delay and obstructions that might be put in her way by the 
Mordasoff ladies, whose pretty ways she knew so well 1 She 
S9 



6o uncle's dream. 

was well aware that probably at this moment the whole 
town knew all about her present intentions, though she had 
not revealed them to a living soul. She had found out by 
painful experience that nothing, not the most secret event, 
could happen in her house in the morning but it was 
known at the farthest end of the town by the evening. 

Of course, no anticipation, no presentiment, deterred 
or deceived Maria Alexandrovna : she might feel such sen- 
sations at tipes, but she despised them. Now, this is what 
had happened in the town this morning, and of which our 
heroine was as yet only partly informed. About midday, 
that is, just three hours after the prince's arrival at 
Mordasoff, extraordinary rumours began to circulate about 
the town. 

Whence came they ? Who spread them ? None could 
say; but they spread like wild-fire. Everyone suddenly 
began to assure his neighbour that Maria Alexandrovna had 
engaged her daughter to the prince ; that Mosgliakoff had 
notice to quit, and that all was settled and signed, and the 
penniless, twenty-three-year-old Zina was to be the 
princess. 

Whence came this rumour? Could it be that Maria 
Alexandrovna was so thoroughly known that her friends 
could anticipate her thoughts and actions under any given 
circumstances ? 

The fact is, every inhabitant of a provincial town lives 
under a glass case ; there is no possibility of his keeping 
anything whatever secret from his honourable co-dwellers in 
the place. They know every thiri g ; they know it, too, better 
than he does himself. Every provincial person should be a 
psychologist by nature \ and that is why I have been sur- 
prised, often and often, to observe when I am among pro- 
vincials that there is not a great number of psychologists — 
as one would expect, — but an infinite number of dreadful 
asses. However, this a digression. 

The rumour thus spread, then, was a thunder-like and 
startling shock to the Mordasoff system. Such a marriage — 
a marriage with this prince — appeared to all to be a thing so 
very desirable, so brilliant, that the strange side of the affair 
had not seemed to strike anyone as yet I 



tJNCLE'S DREAM. 6l 

One more circumstance must be noticed. Zina was even 
more detested in the place than her mother ; why, 1 don't 
know. Perhaps her beauty was the prime cause. Perhaps, 
too, it was that Maria Alexandrovna was, as it were, one of 
themselves, a fruit of their own soil : if she was to go away 
she might even be missed ; she kept the place alive more or 
less — it might be dull without her ! But with Zina it was 
quite a different matter : she lived more in the clouds than 
in the town of Mordasoff. She was no company for these 
good people ; she could not pair with them. Perhaps she 
bore herself towards them, unconsciously though, too 
haughtily. 

And now this same Zina, this haughty girl, about whom 
there were certain scandalous stories afloat, this same Zina 
was to become a millionaire, a princess, and a woman of 
rank and eminence ! 

In a couple of years she might marry again, some duke, 
perhaps, or a general, maybe a Governor ; their own 
Governor was a widower, and very fond of the ladies I 
Then she would be the first lady of their province ! Why, 
the very thought of such a thing would be intolerable : in 
fact, this rumour of Zina's marriage with the prince aroused 
more irritation in Mordasoff than any other piece of gossip 
within the memory of man 1 

People told each other that it was a sin and a shame, that 
the prince was crazy, that the old man was being deceived, 
caught, robbed — anything you like ; that the prince must be 
saved from the bloodthirsty talons he had floundered into ; 
that the thing was simply robbery, immorality. And why 
were any others worse than Zina ? Why should not some- 
body else marry the prince ? 

Maria Alexandrovna only guessed at all this at present — 
but that was quite enough. She knew that the whole town 
would rise up and use all and every means to defeat her 
ends. Why, they had tried to " confiscate " the prince 
already ; she would have to retrieve him by force, and if 
she should succeed in luring or forcing him back now, 
she could not keep him tied to her apron-strings for ever. 
Again, what was to prevent this whole troop of Mordasoff 
gossips from coming m masse to her salon, under such a 



62 tJNCLE's DREAM. 

plausible plea, too, that she would not be able to turn them 
out. She knew well that if kicked out of the door these 
good people would get in at the window — a thing which had 
actually happened before now at Mordasoff. 

In a word, there was not an hour, not a moment to be 
lost; and meanwhile things were not even begun. A 
brilliant idea now struck Maria Alexandrovna. We shall hear 
what this idea was in its proper place, meanwhile I will only 
state that my heroine dashed through the streets of Mor- 
dasoff, looking Hke a threatening storm-cloud as she swept 
along full of the stern and implacable resolve that the prince 
should come back if she had to drag him, and fight for 
him ; and that all Mordasoff might fall in ruins but she 
should have her way 1 

Her first move was successful^t could not have been 
more so. 

She chanced to meet the prince in the street, and carried 
him off to dinner with her. 

If my reader wishes to know ^w this feat was accom 
plished with such a circle of enemies about and around her, 
and how she managed to make such a fool of Mrs. Anti- 
pova, then I must be allowed to point out that such a ques- 
tion is an insult to Maria Alexandrovna. As if sAe were not 
capable of outwitting any Antipova that ever breath ed ! 

She simply " arrested " the prince at her rival's very door, 
as he alighted there with Mosgliakoff, m spite of the latter's 
terror of a scandal, and in spite of everything else ; and she 
popped the old man into the carriage beside her. Of course 
the prince made very little resistance, and as usual, forgot 
all about the episode in a couple of mmutes, and was as 
happy as possible. 

At dinner he was hilarious to a degree ; he made jokes 
and fun, and told stories which had no ends, or which he 
tacked on to ends belonging to other stories, without remark 
ing the fact. 

He had had three glasses of champagne at lunch at 
Natalie Dimitrievna's. He now took more wine, and his 
old head whirled wiih it. Maria Alexandrovna plied him 
well. The dinner was very good : the mistress of the house 
kept the company alive with most bewitching airs and 



uncle's dream. 6$ 

manners, — ^at least so it should have been, but all excepting 
herself and the prince were terribly dull on this occasion. 
Zina sat silent and grave. Mosgliakoff was clearly off his 
feed : he was very thoughtful ; and as this was unusual 
Man a Alexandrovna was considerably anxious about him. 
The widow looked cross and cunning ; she continually 
made mysterious signs to Mosgliakofi, on the sly ; but the 
latter took no notice of them. 

It the mistress herself had not been so amiable and be- 
witching, the dinner party might have been mistaken for 
a lunch at a funeral I 

Meanwhile Maria Alexandrovna's condition of mind was 
in reality excited and agitated to a terrible degree. Zina 
alone terrified her by her tragic look and tearful eyes. And 
there was another difficulty — for that accursed Mosgliakoff 
would probably sit about and get in the way of business ! 
One could not well set about it with him in the room I 

So, Maria Alexandrovna rose from the table in some 
agitation. 

But what was her amazement, her joyful surprise, when 
Mosgliakoff came up to her after dinner, of his own accord, 
and suddenly and most unexpectedly informed her that he 
must— to his infinite regret — leave the house on impor- 
tant business for a short while. 

" Why, where are you going to ? " she asked, with great 
show of regret. 

"Well, you see," began Mosgliakoff, rather disconcerted 
and uncomfortable, "I have to — may I come to you for 
advice ? " 

** What is it— what is it ? '* 

" Why, you see, my godfather Borodueff — you know the 
man ; I met him in the street to-day, and he is dreadfully 
angry with me, says I am grown so proud^ that though 
I have been in Mordasoff three times I have never shown 
my nose inside his doors. He asked me to come in for a 
cup of tea at five — it's four now. He has no children, you 
know, — and he is worth a million of roubles — morty they say ; 
and if I marry Zina — you see, — and he's seventy years old 
qow!" 

" Why, my good boy, of course, of course 1 — what are you 



64 uncle's dream; 

thinking of? You must not neglect that sort of thing — go 
at once, of course ! I thought you looked preoccupied at 
dinner. You ought to have gone this morning and shewn 
him that you cared for him, and so on. Oh, you boys, you 
boys ! " cried Maria Alexandrovna with difficulty conceal- 
ing her joy. 

" Thanks, thanks, Maria Alexandrovna ! youVe made a 
man of me again ! I declare I quite feared telling you — for 
I know you didn't think much of the connection. — He is a 
common sort of old fellow, I know I So good-bye— my re- 
spects to Zina, and apologies — I must be off, of course I 
shall be back soon ! " 

" Good-bye — take my blessing with you ; say something 
polite to the old man for me ; I have long changed my 
opinion of him ; I have grown to like the real old Russian 
style of the man. Au revoir^ mon amiy au revoir /" 

'* Well, it is a mercy that the devil has carried him off, 
out of the way ! '* she reflected, flushing with joy as Paul 
took his departure out of the rooin. But Paul had only 
just reached the hall and was putting on his fur coat when 
to him appeared — ^goodness knows whence— the widow, 
Nastasia Petrovna. She had been waiting for him. 

^* Where are you going to? " she asked, holding him by 
the arm. 

** To my godfather Boroduefl's — a rich old fellow ; I 
want him to leave me money. Excuse me — I*m in rather 
a hurry ! " 

Mosgliakoff was in a capital humour ! 

" Oh ! then say good-bye to your betrothed ! '' remarked 
the widow, cuttingly. 

" And why * good-bye ' ? " 

** Why ; you think she's yours already, do you ? and they 
are going to marry her to the prince I I heard them say so 
myself!'' 

" To the prince ? Oh, come now, Nastasia Petrovna ! " 

" Oh, it's not a case of * come now ' at all \ Would you 
like to see and hear it for yourself ? Put down your coat, 
and come along here, — this way ! " 

" Excuse me, Nastasia Petrovna, but I don't understand 
what you are driving at I " 



uncle's dream. 65 

'* Oh ! you'll understand fast enough if you just bend 
down here and listen ! The comedy is probably just be- 
ginning ! " 

"What comedy?" 

•* Hush ! don't talk so loud ! The comedy of humbug- 
ging j^t^w. This morning, when you went away with the 
prince, Maria Alexandrovna spent a whole hour talking 
Zina over into marrying the old man ! She told her that 
nothing was easier than to lure the prince into marrying 
her ; and all sorts of other things that were enough to make 
one sick ! Zina agreed. You should have heard the pretty 
way in which you were spoken of ! They think you simply 
a fool ! Zina said plump out that she would never marry 
you ! Listen now, listen !" 

" Why — why — it would be most godless cunning," Paul 
stammered, looking sheepishly into Nastasia's eyes. 

'* Well, just you listen — you'll hear that, and more 
besides I " 

" But how am I to listen ? " 

** Here, bend down here. Do you see that keyhole !" 

"Oh! but, Nastasia Petrovna, I can't eavesdrop, you 
know ! " 

" Oh, nonsense, nonsense ! Put your pride in your poc- 
ket ! You've come, and you must hsten now ! " 

" Well, at all events " 

" Oh ! if you can't bear to be an eavesdropper, let it alone, 
and be made a fool of! One goes out of one's way solely 
put of pity for you, and you must needs make difficulties 1 
What is it to me ? I'm not doing this for myself 1 / shall 
leave the house before night, in any case ! " 

Paul, steeling his heart, bent to the keyhole. 

His pulses were raging and throbbing. He did not realise 
what was going on, or what he was doing, or where he was. 



CHAPTER VIIL 

'* So you were very gay, prince, at Natalia Dimitrievna's ? " 
asked Maria Alexandrovna, surveying the battlefield before 
her ; she was anxious to begin the conversation as innocently 
as possible ; but her heart beat loud with hope and agita- 
tion. 

After dinner the Prince had been carried off to the salon, 
where he was first received in the morning. Maria Alexan- 
drovna prided herself on this room, and always used it on 
state occasions. 

The old man, after his six glasses of champagne, was not 
very steady on his legs ; but he talked away all the more, 
for the same reason. 

Surveying the field of battle before the fray, Maria 
Alexandrovna had observed with satisfaction that the 
voluptuous old man had already begun to regard Zina with 
great tenderness, and her maternal heart beat high with joy. 

** Oh ! ch^harming — very gay indeed ! " replied the 
prince, "and, do you know, Nat — alia Dimitrievna is a 
wo — wonderful woman, a ch — charming woman I *' 

Howsoever busy with her own high thoughts and exalted 
ideas, Maria Alexandrovna's heart waxed wrathful to hear 
such a loud blast of praise on her rival's account. 

" Oh 1 Prince," she began, with flashing eyes, " if Natalia 
Dimitrievna is a charmmg woman in your eyes, then I 
really don't know w/iat to think ! After such a statement, 
dear Prince, you must not claim to know society here — no, 
no ! *' 

" Really I You sur — pr — prise me ! " 

'*I assure you — I assure you, mon cfur Prince! Listen 
Zina, I must just tell the prince that absurd story about 
66 



uncle's dream. 67 

what Natalia Dimitrievna did when she was here last week. 
Dearest prince, I am not a scandal-monger, but I must, I 
really must tell you this, if only to make you laugh, and to 
show you a living picture, as it were, of what people are 
like in this place ! Well, last week this Natalia Dimitrievna 
came to call upon me. Coffee was brought in, and I had to 
leave the room for a moment — I forget why — at all events, 
I went out. Now, I happened to have remarked how much 
sugar there was in the silver sugar basin ; it was quite full. 
Well, I came back in a few minutes — looked at the sugar 

basin, and 1 three lumps — three little wretched lumps 

at the very bottom of the basin, prince . — ^and she was all 
alone in the room, mind ! Now that woman has a large 
house of her own, and lots of money 1 Of course this is 
merely a funny story — but you can judge from this what 
sort of people one has to deal with here ! " 

** N — no ! you don't mean it ! " said the prince, in real 
astonishment. **What a gr — eedy woman I Do you mean 
to say she ate it all up ? ** 

"There, prince, and that's your 'charming woman!' 
What do you think of that nice little bit of lady- 
like conduct? I think I should have died of shame if 
I had ever allowed myself to do such a dirty thing as 
that!" 

"Ye — yes, ye — ^yes! but, do you know, she is a real 
' belle femme ' all the same ! " 

" What 1 Natalia Dimitrievna ? My dear prince ; why, 
she is a mere tub of a woman ! Oh ! prince, prince ! 
what have you said ? I expected far better taste of you^ 
prince ! " 

" Ye — yes, tub — tub, of course ! but she's a n — nice 
figure, a nice figure! And the girl who danced— oh! a 
nice figure too, a very nice figure of a wo — woman ! " 

" What, Sonia ? Why she's a mere child, prince ? She's 
only thirteen years old." 

"Ye — yes, ye — yes, of course ; but her figure de — velops 
very fast — charming, charming ! And the other da — ancing 
girl, she's de — veloping too— nicely : she's dirty rather— she 
might have washed her hands, but very at — tractive, charm- 
ing !" and the prince raised his glass again and hungrily 



68 uncle's dream. 

inspected Zina. "J/^w quelle charmante personnt A— what a 
lovely girl 1" he muttered, melting with satisfaction. . 

"Zina, play us something, or — ^better still, sing us a 
song ! Ho^r she sings, prince I she's an artiste — a real 
artiste ; oh if you only knew, dear prince," continued Maria 
Alexandre vna, in a half whisper, as Zina rose to go to the 
piano with her stately but quiet gait and queenly com- 
posure, which evidently told upon the old man; ** if you 
only knew what a daughter that is to me 1 how she can 
love ; how tender, how affectionate she is to, me I wliat 
taste she has, what a heart !" 

"Ye — yes ! ye — yes ! taste. And do you know, I have only 
known one woman in all my life who could compare with 
her in love — liness. It was the late C — ountess Nainsky: she 
died thirty years ago, a w — onderful woman, and her beauty 
was quite sur — passing. She married her co — ook at last." 

" Her cook, prince ? '* 

" Ye — yes, her cook, a Frenchman, abroad. She bought 
him a count's title a — broad ; he was a good-looking fellow 
enough, with little moustaches " 

"And how did they get on ?" 

**0h, very well indeed ; however, they p — arted very soon; 
they quarrelled about some sa — sauce. He robbed her — ^and 
bo— cited-." 

** Mamma, what shall I play ?" asked Zina. 

** Better sing us something, Zina. How she sings, 
prince ! Do you Hke music ? " 

" Oh, ye — yes ! charming, charming. I love music pass — 
sionately. I knew Beethoven, abroad." 

" Knew Beethoven !" cried Maria Alexandrovna, ecstati- 
cally. " Imagine, Zina, the prince knew Beethoven ! Oh, 
prince, did you really, really know the great Beethoven ?" 

" Ye — yes, we were great friends, Beet — hoven and I ; he 
was always taking snufF — such a funny fellow 1" 

"What, Beethoven?" 

"Yes, Beethoven; or it may have been some other 
German fellow — I don't know ; there are a great many 
Germans there. I forget" 

" Well, what shall I sing, mamma ? " asked Zina again. 

'' Oh Zina darhng, do smg us that lovely ballad all about. 



uncle's dream.' 69 

knighw, you know, and the girl who lived in a castle and 
loved a treubadoiir. Don't you know ! Oh, prince, how I 
Aolove all those knightly stories and songs, and the castles I 
Oh ! the castles, and life in the middle ages, and the 
troubadours, and heralds and all. Shall I accompany you, 
Zina ? Sit down near here, prince. Oh ! those castles, 
those castles!'* 

" Ye — yes, ye — yes, castles ; 1 love ca — astles 
too ! " observed the prince, staring at Zina all the while 
with the Whdle of his one eye, as if he would like to eat her 
up at once. •* But, good heavens,** he cried, " that song ! 
I know that s — song. I heard that song years — years ago I 
Oh ! how that song reminds me of so— omething. Oh, oh." 

I will not attempt to describe the ecstatic state of the 
prince while Zina sang. 

She warbled an old French ballad which had once been 
all the fashion. Zina sang it beautifully ; her lovely face, 
her glorious eyes, her fine sweet contralto voice, all this 
went to the prince's heart at once ; and her dark thick hair, 
her heaving bosom,her proud, beautiful, stately figure as she 
sat at the piano, and played and sang, quite finished him. 
He never took his eyes ofi* her, he panted with excitement 
His old heart, partially revivified with champagne, with the 
music, and with awakening recollections (and who is there 
who has no beloved memories of the past ?), his old heart 
beat faster and faster. It was long since it had last beat in 
this way. He was ready to fall on his knees at her feet, 
when Zina stopped singing, and he wa^ almost in tears with 
various emotions. 

** Oh, my charming, charming child,'* he cried, putting his 
lips to her fingers, " you have ra — vished me quite — quite ! I 
remember all now. Oh charming, charming child ! *' 

The poor prince could not finish his sentence. 

Maria Alexandrovna felt that the moment had arrived for 
her to make a move. 

** Why, why do you bury yourself alive as you do, 
prince ? *' she began, solemnly. " So much taste, so much 
vital energy, so many rich gifts of the mind and soul — and 
to hide yourself in solitude all your days ; to flee from man- 
Idnd, from your friends. Oh^ it is unpardonable ! Prince, 
F 



^€| t[NCLE*S DREAM,- 

bethink yourself. Look up at life again with open eyes." 
Call up your dear memories of the past ; think of your 
golden youth — ^your golden, careless, happy days of youth ! 
Wake them, wake them from the dead^ Prince ! and wake 
yourself, too; and recommence life among men and 
women and society ! Go abroad — to Italy, to Spain, oh, to 
Spain, Prince 1 You must have a guide, a heart that will 
love and respect, and sympathize with you ! You have 
friends ; summon them about you ! Give the word, and 
they will rally round you in crowds ! I myself will be thtf 
first to throw up everything, and answer to your cry ! I re* 
membered our old friendship, my Prince ; and I v^ill sacri* 
fice husband, home, all, and follow you. Yes, and were I 
but young and lovely, like my daughter here, I would be 
your fellow, your friend, your a//)9,if you said but the word !" 

"And I am convinced that you were a most charming 
creature in your day, too !" said the prince, blowing his 
hose violently. His eyes were full of tears. 

"We live again in our children," said Maria Alexandrovna, 
with great feeling. " I, too, have my guardian angel, and 
that is this child, my daughter, Prince, the partner of my 
heart and of all my thoughts ! She has refused seven offers 
because she is unwilling to leave me I So that she will 
go too, when you accompany me abroad." 

" In that case, I shall certainly go abroad," cried the 
prince with animation. As — suredly I shall go I And 
if only I could ve — venture to hope — oh 1 you be — 
witching child, charming, be — witching child 1 " And the 
prince recommenced to kiss Zina's fingers. The poor 
old man was evidently meditating going down on his knees 
before her. 

" But, Prince," began Maria Alexandrovna again, feeling 
that the opportunity had arrived for another display of elo- 
quence. " But, Prince, you say, * If only I could flatter 
myself into indulging any hope ! ' Why, what a strange 
man you are, Prince. Surely you do not suppose that you 
are unworthy the flattering attention of any^ woman I It is 
not only youth that constitutes true beauty. Remember 
that you are, so to speak, a chip of the tree of aristocracy. 
You are a representative of all the most knightly, most re- 



Vncle's dream, jx^ 

fined taste and culture and manners. Did not Maria fall in 
love with the old man Mazeppa ? I remember reading that 
Lauzun, that fascinating marquis of the court of Louis (I 
forget which), when he was an old, bent and bowed man, 
won the heart of one of the youngest and most beautiful 
women about the court, 

" And who told you you are an old man ? Who taught you 
that nonsense ? Do men Hke you ever grow old ? You, 
with your wealth of taste and wit, and animation and vital 
energy and brilliant manners ! Just you make your appear- 
ance at some watering-place abroad with a young wife on 
your arm — some lovely young girl like my Zina, for instance 
— of course I merely mention her as an example, nothing 
more, — and you will see at once what a colossal effect you 
will produce : you, a scion of our aristocracy ; she a beauty 
among beauties I You will lead her triumphantly on your 
arm ; she, perhaps, will sing in some brilliant assemblage ; 
you will delight the company with your wit Why, all the 
people of the place will crowd to see you I All Europe will 
ring with your renown, for every newspaper and feuilleton 
at the Waters will be full of you. And yet you say, * If I 
could but venture to hope^ indeed 1 *' 

•* The feuilletons ! yes — ye— yes, and the newspapers," 
said the prince, growing more and more feeble with love, 
but not understanding half of Maria Alexandrovna*s tall talk. 
"But, my child, if you're not tired, do repeat that song 
which you have just sung so cha — armingly once more.*' 

" Oh I but. Prince, she has other lovely songs, still pret- 
tier ones; don't you remember LHiroiidellei You must 
have heard it, haven't you ? " 

"Ye — ^yes, I remember it; at least I've for — gotten it. 
No, no 1 the one you have just sung. I don't want the 
Hir — ondelle ! I want that other song," whined the prince, 
just like any child. 
Zina sang again. 

This time the prince could not contain himself; he fell 
on his knees at her feet, he cried, he sobbed : 

" Oh, my beautiful chatelaine /" he cried in his shaky old 
voice — shaky with old age and emotion combined. " Oh, 
my charming, charming chatelaine I oh, my dear child I 
F— 2 



7* 

You have re — ^minded me of so much that is long, long 
passed ! I always thought then that things must be fairer 
in the future than in the present. I used to sing duets with 
the vis — countess in this very ballad ! And now, oh ! I don't 
know what to do, I don't know wAa/ to do ! " 

The prince panted and choked as he spoke ; his tongue 
seemed to find it difficult to qaove ; some of his words were 
almost unintelligible. It was clear that he was in the last 
stage of emotional excitement. Maria Alexandrovna imme« 
diately poured oil on the fire, 

" Why, Prince, I do believe you are falling in love with 
my Zina,'' she cried, feeling that the moment was a solemn 
ore. 

The prince's reply surpassed her fondest, expectations. 

" I am madly in love with her ! " cried the old man, all 
animated, of a sudden. He was still on his knees, and he 
trembled with excitement as he spoke. "I am ready to 
give my life for her ! And if only I could hope, if only I 
might have a little hope — I, — but, lift me up ; I feel so weak. 
I — if only she would give me the hope that I might offer 
her my heart, I — she should sing ballads to me every day ; 
and I could look at her, and look and gaze and gaze at her. 
Oh, my God I my God I" 

" Prince, Prince ! you are offering her your hand. You 
want to take her from me, my Zina ! my darling, my a^^e, 
my own dear child, Zina ! No, Zina, no, I can't let you go ! 
They must tear you firom me, Zina. They must tear you 
first from your mother's arms 1 " 

Maria Alexandrovna sprang to her daughter, and caucbt 
her up in a close embrace, conscious, withal, of serious 
physical resistance on Zina's part. The fond mother was a 
little overdoing it. 

Zina felt this with all her soul, and she looked on at the 
whole comedy with inexpressible loathing. 

However, she held her tongue, and that was all the fond 
mother required of her. 

" She has refused nine men because she will not leave 
md ! " said Maria. " But this time, I fear — my heart tells 
me that we are doomed to part 1 I noticed just now how 
she looked at you. Prince. You have impressed her with 



uncle's i>ream/ 73 

your aristocrktic manner, with your refinement OK ! Prince, 
you are going to separate us— I feel it, I feel it I " 

"I ad— ore her!" murmured the poor old man, still 
trembling like an autumnal leaf. 

" And you'll consent to leave your mother ! " cried Maria 
Alexandrovna, throwing herself upon her daughter once 
more. Zina made haste to bring this, to her, painful 
scene to an end. She stretched her pretty hand silently to 
the prince, and even forced herself to smile. The prince 
reverently took the Httle hand into his own, and covered it 
with kisses. 

" I am only this mo — ment beginning to live," he mut- 
terred, in a voice that seemed choking with rapture and 
ecstasy. 

" Zina," began Maria Alexandrovna, solemnly, ** look well 
at this man ! This is the most honest and upright and noble 
man of all the men I know. He is a knight of the middle 
ages ! But she knows it. Prince, she knows it too well ; to 
my grief I say it. Oh ! why did you come here ? I am 
surrendering my treasure to you — my angel ! Oh ! take care 
of her. Prince. Her mother entreats you to watch over her. 
And what mother could blame my grief ! " 

" Enough, mamma ! that's enough," said Zina, quietly. 

** Protect her from all hurt and insult, Prince ! Can I 
rely upon your sword to flash in the face of the vile scandal- 
monger who daries to offend my Zina ? " 

" Enough,. mother, I tell you I am I ? " 

"Ye — yes, ye — ^yes, it shall flash all right," said the 
prince. " But I want to be married now, at once. I — I'm 
only just learning what it is to live. T want to send off to 
Donchanovo at once. I want to send for some di — diamonds 
I have there. I want to lay them at her feet. I " 

" What noble ardour I what ecstasy of love ! what noble, 
generous feelings you have, Prince ! " cried Maria Alexan* 
drovna. ^* And you could bury yourself — iniry yourself, far 
from the world and society ! I shall remind you of this a 
thousand tinies ! I go mad wheh I Uiink of that hellish 
woman." 

** What could I do ? I was fri— ghtenedl" stammered the 
prince in a whining voice ; " they wanted to put me in ^ 
lu — unatic asylum I I was dreadfullv alarmed ! " 



74 vncle's dreabj; 

. ** In a lunatic asylum 1 Ah, the scoundrels f oh, the in* 
human wretches ! Ah, the low cunning of them 1 Yes, 
Prince ; I had heard of it. But the lunacy was in these 
people, not in you. Why, why was it — ^what for ? " 

"I don't know myself, what it was for," replied the 
poor old man, feebly sinking into his chair ; " I was at a 
ball, don't you know, and told some an— recdote or other 
and they didn't like it j and so they got up a scandal and a 
ro — ow." 

"Surely that was not all, Prince ? ^ 

**No; — the — I was playing cards with Prince Paul 
De — mentieff, and I was cleared out : you see, I had two 
kings and three quee — ns, three kings and two qu — eens ; 
or I should say — one king — and some queens — I know I 
had r 

" And it was for this ? Oh, the hellish inhumanity of some 
people ! You are weeping, Prince ; but be of good cheer — 
it is all over now ! Now 1 shall be at hand, dearest Prince, — • 
I shall not leave Zina ; and we shall see which of them will 
dare to say a word to you, then I And do you know, my 
Prince, your marriage will expose them I . it will shame 
them ! They will see that you are a man — that a lovely girl 
like our Zina would never have married a madman ! You 
shall raise your head proudly now, and look them straight 
in the face ! " 

" Ye — yes ; I shall look them straight in the f— ace I ** 
murmured the prince, slowly shutting his eyes. 

Maria Alexandrovna saw that her work was done : the 
prince was tired out with love and emotion. She was only 
wasting her eloquence ! 

** Prince, you are disturbed and tired, I see you are ! " 
she said ; " you must rest, you must take a good rest after 
so much agitation,*' she added, bending over him mater* 
nally. 

** Ye — ^yes, ye — ^yes ; I should like to lie down a little,** 
said the old man. 

** Of course, of course I you must lie down I those agitat* 

ing scenes stop, I will escort you myself, and arrange 

your couch with my own hands ! Why are you looking so 
hard at that portrait, Prince ? That is my mother's picture ; 



uncle's dream, 75 

she was an angel — ^not a woman! Oh, why is she not 
among us at this joyful moment ! " 

" Ye — yes ; charming — charming ! Do you know, I had 
a mother too, — a princess, and imagine I a re — markably, 
a re — markably fat woman she was ; but that is not what I 

was going to say, I — I feel a little weak, and 

Au revoir, my charming child — to-morrow — to-day — I will 
— I — I — Au revoir, au revoir i " Here the poor old fellow 
tried to kiss his hand, but slipped, and nearly fell over the 
threshold of the door. 

" Take care, dear Prince — take care ! lean on my arm ! " 
cried Maria Alexandrovna. 

** Charming, ch — arming ! " he muttered, as he left the 
room, " I am only now le — ^learning to live ! " 

Zina was left alone. 

A terrible oppression weighed down her heart She felt 
a sensation* of loathing which nearly suffocated her. She 
despised herself— her cheeks burned. With folded hands, 
and teeth biting hard into her lips, she stood in one spot, 
motionless. The tears of shame streamed from her eyes, 

and at this moment the door opened, and Paul 

Mosgliakoff entered the^rooml 



CHAPTER IX. 

He had heard all— a//. 

He did not actually enter the room, but stood at the 
door, pale with excitement and fury, Zina looked at him 
in amazement. 

** So that's the sort of person you are ! " he cried pant- 
ing. " At last I have found you out, have. I ? " 

"Found me out?" repeated Zina, looking at him as 
though he were a madman. Suddenly her eyes flashed 
with rage. " How dare you address me like that ? " she 
cried, advancing towards him. 

' ** I have heard all ! '' said Mosgliakoff solemnly, but in- 
voluntarily taking a step backwards. 

" You heard ? I see — you have been eavesdropping ! ** 
cried Zina, looking at him with disdain. 

'* Yes, I have been eavesdropping I Yes — I consented 
to do a mean action, and my reward is that I hive found 

out that you, too, are I don't know how to express 

to you what I think you ! " he replied, looking more and 
more timid under Zina's eyes. 

"And supposing that you have heard all: what right 
have you to blame me ? What right have you to speak to 
me so insolently, in any case ? '* 

"// — // what right have // and you can ask me this? 
You are going to marry this prince, and I have no right to 
say a wordl Why, you gave me your promise — ^is that 
nothing ? " 

"When?" 

"How, when?" 

•* Did not I tell you that morning, when you came to me 
76 



uncle's dream- 77 

wit^ your sentimental nonsense-^id I not tel( you that I 
could give you no decided answer ?" 

'* But you did not reject me ; you did not send me away. 
I see — ^you kept me hanging in reserve, in case of need I 
You lured me into your net ! I see, I see it all ! " 

An expression of pain flittted over Zina's careworn face, 
as though someone had suddenly stabbed her to the heait ; 
but she mastered her feelings. 

" If I didn't turn you out of the house," she began deli- 
berately and very clearly, though her voice had a scarcely 
perceptible tremor in it, " I refrained from such a course 
purely out of pity. You begged me yourself to postpone, to 
give you time, not to say you *No,' to study you better, and 
* then,' you said, * then, when you know what- a fine fellow I 
am, perhaps you will not refuse me ! ' These were your own 
words, or very like them, at the very beginning of your 
courtship ! — you cannot deny them ! And now you dare to 
tell me that I Mured you into my net,' just as though you 
did not notice my expression of loathing when you made 
your appearance this morning ! You came a fortnight 
sooner than I expected you, and I did not hide my disgust ; 
on the contrary, I made it evident — you must have noticed 
it — I know you did ; because you asked me whether I was 
angry because you had come sooner than you promised 1 
Let me tell you that people who do not, and do not care to, 
hide their loathing for a man can hardly be accused of 
luring that man into their net 1 You dare to tell me that I 
was keeping you in reserve ! Very well ; my answer to that 
is, that I judged of you like this : * Though he may not be 
endowed with much intellect, still he may turn out to be a 
good enough fellow; and if so, it might be possible to 
marry him.' However, being persuaded, now, that you are 
a fool, and a mischievous fool into the bargain, — having. 
found out this fact, to my great joy, — it only remains for me' 
now to wish you every happiness and a pleasant journey.r 
Good-bye ! " 

With these words Zina turned her back on him, and deli- 
berately made for the door. 

Mosgliakoff, seeing that all was lost, boiled over with 
fury. 



Jd tJNCLE*S DREAM. 

•• Oh r SO Vm a fool ! " he yelled ; " I'm a fool, am I ?. 
Very well, good-bye I But before I go, the whole town shall 
know of this I They shall all hear how you and your 
mother made the old man drunk, and then swindled him ! 
I shall let the whole world know it ! You shall see what 
Mosgliakoff can do ! " 

Zina trembled and stopped, as though to answer ; but on 
reflection, she contented herself by shrugging her shoulders ; 
glanced contemptuously at Mosgliakoff, and left the room, 
banging the door after her. 

At this moment Maria Alexandrovna made her appear- 
jtnce. She heard MosgliakofPs exclamation, and, divining 
at once what had happened, trembled with terror. 
Mosgliakoff still in the house, and near the prince ! 
Mosgliakoff about to spread the news all over the town ! 
At this moment, when secrecy, if only for a short time, was 
essential ! But Maria Alexandrovna was quick at calcula- 
tions : she thought, with an eagle flight of the mind, over all 
the circumstances of the case, and her plan for the pacifica- 
tion of Mosgliakoff was ready in an instant 1 

"What is it, mon ami?^^ she said, entering the room, 
and holding out her hand to him with friendly warmth. 

"How — 'mon ami!*^' cried the enraged Mosgliakoff. 
*'Mon amij indeed 1 the moment after you have abused 
and reviled me like a pickpocket ! No, no ! Not quite 
so green, my good lady 1 I'm not to be so easily imposed 
upon again I " 

" I am sorry, extremely sorry, to see you in such a strange 
condition of mind, Paul Alexandrovitch ! What expres- 
sions you use ! You do not take the trouble to choose 
your words before ladies — oh, fie ! " 

" Before ladies ? Ho ho ! You — ^you are — you are anything 
you like — ^but not a lady ! " yelled Mosgliakoff. 

I don't quite know what he meant, but it was something 
very terrible, you may be sure ! 

Maria Alexandrovna looked benignly in his face : 

" Sit down ! " she said, sorrowfully, showing him a chair, 
the same that the old prince had reclined in a quarter of 
an hour before. 

"But listen, wi^ you listen, Maria Alexandrovna ? You 



vncle's dream. 79 

look at me just as though you were not the least to blame ; 
in fact, as though / were the guilty party 1 Really, Maria 
Alexandrovna, this is a little too much of a good thing ! 
No human being can stand that sort of thing, Maria 
Alexandrovna ! You must be aware of that fact ! " 

" My dear friend," replied Maria Alexandrovna — " you 
will allow me to continue to call you by that name, for you 
have no better friend than I am ! — my friend, you are 
suffering — you are amazed and bewildered ; your heart is 
sore, and therefore the tone of your remarks to me is 
perhaps not surprising. But I have made up my mind to 
open my heart to you, especially as I am, perhaps, in some 
degree to blame before you. Sit down; let us talk it 
over!" 

Maria Alexandrovna's voice was tender to a sickly 
extent. Her face showed the pain she was suffering. The 
amazed Mosgliakoff sat down beside her in the arm-chair. 

" You hid somewhere, and listened, I suppose ? " she 
began, looking reproachfully into his face. 

**Yes I did, of course I did \ and a good thing too ! 
What a fool I should have looked if I hadn't I At all 
events now I know what you have been plotting against 
me I" replied the injured man, rudely; encouraging and 
supporting himself by his own fury. 

"And you — and you — with your principles, and with your 
bringing up, could condescend to such an action — Oh, oh 1" 

Mosgliakoff jumped up. 

" Maria Alexandrovna, this is a little too much ! " he 
cried. " Consider what you condescend to do, with your 
principles, and then judge of other people. '* 

" One more question," she continued, without replying 
to his outburst : " who recommended you to be an eaves- 
dropper ; who told you anything ; who is the spy here ? 
That's what I wish to know ! " 

" Oh, excuse me ; that I shall not tell you ! ^ 

** Very well ; I know already. I said, Paul, that I was 
in some degree to blame before you. But if you look into 
the matter you will find that if I am to blame it is solely in 
consequence of my anxiety to do you a good turn ! " 

^^What^ a good turn — ph^ No, no, madam! I 



$a vncle's dream,' 

assure you I am not to be caught again ! I*m not quite* 
such a fool ! " 

He moved so violently in his arm-chair that it shook 
again. 

" Now, do be cool, if you can, my good friend. Listen 
to me attentively, and you will find that what I say is only 
the bare truth. In the first place I was anxious to inform 
you of all that has just taken place, in which case you 
would have learned everything, down to the smallest detail, 
without being obliged to descend to eavesdropping ! If I 
did not tell you all before, it was simply because the whole 
matter was in an embryo condition in my mind. It was 
then quite possible that what has happened would never 
happen. You see, I am quite open with you. 

" In the second place, do not blame my daughter. She 
loves you to distraction ; and it was only by the exercise of my 
utmost influence that I persuaded her to drop you, and 
accept the prince's offer.'' 

** I have just had the pleasure of receiving convincing 
proof of her ' love to distraction I * " remarked Mosgliakoff, 
ironically and bitterly. 

** Very well. But how did you speak to her ? As a 
lover should speak ? Again, ought any man of respectable 
position and tone to speak like that ? You insulted and 
wounded her ! " 

"Never mind about my * tone' now I All I can say is 
that this morning, when I went away with the prince, in 
spite of both of you having been as sweet as honey to me 
before, you reviled me behind my back like a pickpocket ! 
/ know all about it, you see ! " 

"Yes, from the same dirty source, I suppose?" said 
Maria Alexandrovna, smiling disdainfully. ** Yes, Paul, I 
did revile you : I pitched into you considerably, and 
I admit it frankly. But it was simply that I was dound 
to blacken you before her. Why? Because, as I have 
said, i required her to consent to leave you, and this con- 
sent was so difficult to tear from her! Short-sighted 
man that you are ! If she had not loved you, why should 
I have required so to blacken your character ? Why should 
I haye been obliged tp take this extreme step? Oh I you 



XmCLE's DREAM, 8t 

don't know all I I was forced to use my fullest maternal 
authority in order to erase you from her heart ; and with 
all my influence and skill I only succeeded in erasing your 
dear image superficially and partially ! If you saw and 
heard all just now, it cannot have escaped you that Zina 
did not once, by either word or gesture, encourage or 
confirm my words to the prince ? Throughout the whole 
scene she said not one word. She sang, but like an 
automaton ! Her whole soul was in anguish, and at last, 
out of pity for her, I took the prince away. I am sure, 
she cried, when I left her alone I When you entered the 
Toom you must have observed tears in her eyes ? " 

Mosgliakoff certainly did recall the fact that when he 
rushed into the room Zina was crying. 

"But you — you — ^why were you so against me, Maria 
Alexandrovna?" he cried. "Why did you revile me and 
malign me, as you admit you did ? " 

" Ah, now that's quite a different question. Now, if you 
had only asked me reasonably at the beginning, you should 
have had your answer long ago ! Yes, you are right. It 
was I, and I alone, who did it all. Do not think of Zina 
in the matter. Now, why did I do it ? I reply, in the first 
place, for Zina's sake. The prince is rich, influential, has 
great connections, and in marrying him Zina will make a 
brilliant match. Very well ; then if the prince dies — as 
perhaps he will die soon, for we are all mortal, — Zina is still 
young, a widow, a princess, and probably very rich. Then 
she can marry whom she pleases ; she may make another 
brilliant match if she hkes. But of course she will marry 
the man she loves, and loved before, the man whose heart 
she wounded by accepting the prince. Remorse alone 
would be enough to make her marry the man whom she had 
loved and so deeply injured ! " 

** Hem 1 '' said Paul, gazing at his boots thoughtfully. 

"In the second place," continued Maria, "and I i^ill 
put this shortly, because, though you read a great deal of 
your beloved Shakespeare, and extract his finest thoughts 
and ideals, yet you are Very young, and cannot, perhaps, 
apply what you read. You may not understand my feehngs 
-in this matter : listen, however, / am giving my Zina lo 



!i2 uncle's dream. 

this prince partly for the prince's own sake, because I wish 
to save him by this marriage. We are old friends ; he is the 
dearest and best of men, he is a knightly, chivalrous gentle- 
man, and he lives helpless and miserable in the claws of that 
devil of a woman at Donchahovo 1 Heaven knows that I 
persuaded Zina into this marriage by putting it to her that 
she would be performing a great and noble action. I repre- 
sented her as being the stay and the comfort and the darling 
and the idol of a poor old, man, who probably would not live 
another year at the most ! I showed her that thus his last 
days should be made happy with love and light and friend- 
ship, instead of wretched with fear and the society of a 
detestable woman. Oh ! do not blame Zina. She is guilt- 
less. I am not — I admit it ; for if there have been calcula- 
tions it is I who have made them 1 But I calculated for 
her, Paul ; for her, not myself ! I have outlived my time ; 
I have thought but for ray child, and what mother could 
blame me for this ? " Tears sparkled in the fond mother'^s 
eyes. Mosgliakoff listened in amazement to all this eloquence, 
winking his eyes in bewilderment. 

*' Yes, yes, of course ! You talk well, Maria Alexandrovna, 
but you forget — you gave me your word, you encouraged 
me, you gave me my hopes ; and where am I now ? I have 
to stand aside and look a fool ! " 

** But, my dear Paul, you don't surely suppose that I have 
not thought of you too ! Don't you see the huge, im- 
measurable gain to yourself in all this ? A gain so vast that 
I was bound in your interest to act as I did 1 '* 

*' Gain for me ! How so ? " asked Paul, in the most 
abject state of confusion and bewilderment. 

" Gracious Heavens ! do you mean to say you are really 
so simple and so short-sighted as to be unable to see fA(U ? " 
pried Maria Alexandrovna, raising her eyes to the ceiling in 
a pious manner. " Oh ! youth, youth 1 That's what comes 
of steeping one's soul in Shakespeare ! You ask me, my 
dear friend Paul, where is the gain to you in all this. Allow 
me to make a little digression. Zina loves you — that is an 
undoubted fact. But I have observed that at the same time, 
and in spite of her evident love, she is not quite sure of 
your good feeling and devotion to her ; and for this reason 



uncle's dream. 83 

she IS sometimes cold and self-restrained in your presence. 
Have you never observed this yourself, Paul ? " 

" Certainly ; I did this very day ^ but go on, what do you 
deduce from that fact ? " 

" There, you see ! you have observed it yourself; then of 
course I am right She is not quite sure of the lasting 
quality of your feeling for her I I am a mother, and I may 
be permitted to read the heart of my child. Now, then, 
supposing that instead of rushing into the room and rer 
preaching, vilifying, even swearing at and insulting this 
sweet, pure, beautiful, proud being, instead of hurling con- 
tempt and vituperation at her head — supposing that instead 
of all this you had received the bad news with composure, 
with tears of grief, maybe ; perhaps even with despair— but 
at the same time with noble composure of soul " 

•*H'mr^ 
** No, no — don't interrupt me ! I wish to show you the picture 
as it is. Very well, supposing, then, that you had come to her 
and said, * Zina, I love you better than my life, but family 
considerations must separate us ; I understand these con- 
siderations — they are devised for your greater happiness, and 
I dare not oppose them, Zina, I forgive you ; be happy, 
if you can!' — think what effect such noble words would 
have wrought upon her heart ! " 

"Yes — yes, that's all very true, I quite understand 
that much 1 but if I had said all this, I should have had 
to go all the same, without satisfaction 1 " 

"No, no, no 1 don't interrupt me 1 I wish to show you the 
whole picture in all its detail, in order to impress you fully 
and satisfactorily^ Very well, then, imagine now that you 
meet her in society some time afterwards : you meet per- 
haps at a ball — in the brilliant light of a ball-room, under 
the soothing strains of music, and in the midst of worldly 
women and of all that is gay and beautiful. You alone are 
sad — thoughtful — pale, — ^you lean against some pillar (where 
you are visible, however ! ) and watch her. She is dancing. 
You hear the strains of Strauss, and the wit and merriment 
around you, but you are sad and wretched. 

" What, think you, will Zina make of it ? With what sort 
of eyes will she gaze on you as you stand there ? * And I 
could doubt this man T she will think, ' this man who 



^4 ixNCLE'S DREAM. . 

sacrificed all, all, for my sake — even to the mortal wounding 
of his heart ! ' Of course the old love will awake in her 
bosom and will swell with irresistible power ! '* 

Maria Alexandrovna stopped to take breath. Paul moved 
violently from side to side of his chair. 

" Zina now goes abroad for the benefit of the prince's 
health — to Italy — to Spain,^' she continued, " where the 
myrtle and the lemon tree grow, where the sky is so blue, 
the beautiful Guadalquiver flows ! to the land of love, 
where none can live without loving ; where roses and kisses 
— so to speak — breathe in the very air around. You follow 
her — you sacrifice your business, friends, everything, and 
follow her. And so your love grows and increases with 
irresistible might Of course that love is irreproach- 
able — innocent — you will languish for one another 
— you will meet frequently; of course others will 
malign and vilify you both, and call your love 
by baser names — but your love is innocent, as I have 
purposely said ; I am her mother — it is not for me to teach 
you evil, but good. At all events the prince is not in the 
condition to keep a very sharp look-out upon you ; but if he 
did, as if there would be the slightest ground for base 
suspicion ? Well, the prince dies at last, and then, who will 
marry Zina, if not yourself? You are so distant a relative of 
the prince's that there could be no obstacle to the match ; 
you marry her — ^she is young still, and rich. You are a 
grandee in an instant ! you, too, are rich now I I will take 
care that the prince's will is made as it should be ; and 
lastly, Zina, now convinced of your loyalty and faithfulness, 
will look on you hereafter as her hero, as her paragon of 
virtue and self-sacrifice! Oh! you must be blind, — blindy 
not to observe and calculate your own profit when it lies 
but a couple of strides from you, grinning at you, as it were, 
and saying, * Here, I am yours, take me \ Oh, Paul, Paul ! " 

" Maria Alexandrovna 1 " cried Mosgliakoff, in great agita- 
tion and excitement, " I see it all ! I have been rude, and a 
fool, and a scoundrel too ! " He jumped up from his chair 
and tore his hair. 

" Yes, and unbusinesslike, that's the chief thing — unbusi- 
nesslike, and blindly so ! " added Maria Alexandrovna. 



UNCLlfS DREAM. 8$ 

" I'm an ass ! Maria Alexandrovna," he cried in despair* 
** All is lost now, and I loved her to madness ! " 

" Maybe all is not lost yet ! " said this successful orator 
softly, and as though thinking out some idea. 

** Oh ! if only it could be so I help me — teach me. 
Oh ! save me, save me 1 " 

Mosgliakoff burst into tears. 

" My dear boy," said Maria Alexandrovna, sympa- 
thetically, and holding out her hand, " you acted impul- 
sively, from the depth and heat of your passion — iafact, out 
of your great love for her ; you were in despair, you had 
forgotten yourself ; she must understand all that ! " 

** Oh ! I love her madly ! I am ready to sacrifice every- 
thing for her 1 " cried Mosghakoff. 

" Listen i I will justify you before her." 

** Oh, Maria Alexandrovna 1 " 

** Yes, I will. I take it upon myself! You come with me, 
and you shall tell her exactly what I said ! " 

"Oh» how kind, how good you are ! Can't we go at once, 
Maria Alexandrovna ? " 

" Goodness gracious, no ! What a very green hand you are, 
Paul ! She's far too proud ! she would take it as a new rude- 
ness and impertinence ! To-morrow I shall arrange it all 
comfortably for you : but now, couldn't you get out of the 
way somewhere for a while, to that godfather of yours, for 
instance ? You could come back in the evening, if you 
pleased ; but my advice would be to stay away ! " 

" Yes, yes ! I'll go — of course 1 Good heavens, you've 
made a man of me again 1 — Well, but look here — one more 
question : — What if the prince does not die so soon ? " 

" Oh, my dear boy, how dehghtfuUy naive you are ! On 
the contrary, we must pray for his good health 1 We must 
wish with all our hearts for long life to this dear, good, and 
chivalrous old man 1 I shall be the first to pray day and 
night for the happiness of my beloved daughter I But alas I 
I fear the prince's case is hopeless ; you see, they must visit 
the capital now, to bring Zina out into society. — I dreadfully 
fear that all this may prove fatal to him ; however, we'll pray, 
Paul, we can't do more, and the rest is in the hands of a 
kind Providence. You see what I mean ? Very well — good- 

G 



S6 uncle's dream. 

bye, my dear boy, bless you ! Be a man, and wait patiently 
— be a man, that's the chief thing I I never doubted your 
generosity of character ; but be brave — good-bye ! " She 
pressed his hand warmly, and Mosgliakoflf walked out of the 
room on tiptoes. 

" There goes one fool, got rid of satisfactorily ! ** observed 
Maria Alexandrovna to herself^ — "but there are more 
behind 1*' 

At this moment the door opened, and Zina entered the 
room. She was paler than usual, and her eyes were all 
ablaze. 

" Mamma 1 '' she said, " be quick about this business, or 
I shall not be able to hold out. It is all so dirty and mean 
that I feel I must run out of the house if it goes on. Don^t 
drive me to desperation ! I warn you — don't weary me out 
— don't weary me out ! " 

" Zina — what is it, my darling ? You — ^you've been 
listening?" cried Maria Alexandrovna, gazing intently and 
anxiously at her daughter. 

" Yes, I have ; but you need not try to make me ashamed 
of myself as you succeeded in doing with that fool. Now 
listen : I solemnly swear that if you worry and annoy me 
by making me play various mean and odious parts in this 
comedy of yours, — I swear to you that I will throw up the 
whole business and put an end to it in a moment. It is 
quite enough that I have consented to be a party in the 
main and essence of the base transactions ; but — but — I did 
not know myself, I am poisoned and suffocated with the 
stench of it I " — So saying, slie left the room and banged 
the door after her. 

Maria Alexandrovna looked fixedly after her for a 
moment, and reflected. 

" I must make haste,** she cried, rousing herself; " sA^ 
is the greatest danger and difficulty of all ! If these detest- 
able people do not let us alone, instead of acting the town- 
criers all over the place (as 1 fear they are doing already !) 
— all will be lost ! She won't stand the worry of it — she'll 
drop the business altogether ! — At all hazards, I must get 
the prince to the country house, and that quickly, too 1 I 
shall be off there at once^ firsts and bring my fool of a hus- 



UNCLE'S DREAM. 87 

band up: he shall be made useful for once in his life I Mean- 
while the prince shall have his sleep out, and when he wakes 
up I shall be back and ready to cart him away bodily I " 

She rang the bell. 

'* Are the horses ready ? " she inquired of the man. 

" Yes, madam, long ago ! " said the latter. 

She had ordered the carriage the moment after she had 
taken the prince upstairs. 

Maria Alexandrovna dressed hurriedly, and then looked 
in at Zina's room for a moment, before starting, in order to 
tell her the outlines of her plan of operations, and at the 
same time to give Zina a few necessary instructions. But 
her daughter could not listen to her. She was lying on her 
bed with face hidden in the pillows, crying, and was tearing 
her beautiful hair with her long white hands ; occasionally 
she trembled violently for a moment, as though a blast of 
cold had passed through all her veins. Her mother began 
to speak to her, but Zina did not even raise her head ! 

Having stood over her daughter in a state of bewilder- 
ment for soine little while, Maria Alexandrovna left the 
room ; and to make up for lost time bade the coachman 
drive like fury, as she stepped into the carriage. 

" I don't quite like Zina having listened I " she thought as 
she rattled away. " I gave Mosgliakoff very much the same 
arg^ument as to herself : she is proud, and may easily have 
taken offence ! H'm ! Well, the great thing is to be in 
time with all the arrangements, — before people know what 
I am up to ! Good heavens, fancy, if my fool of a husband 
were to be out 1 1 " 

And at the very thought of such a thing, Maria Alexan- 
drovna's rage so overcame her that it was clear her poor 
husband would fare badly for his sins if he proved to be 
not at home ! She twisted and turned in her place with 
impatience, — jhe horses almost galloped with the carriage 
at their heels. 



G— 2 



CHAPTER X. 

On they flew. 

I have said already that this very day, on her first drive 
after the prince, Maria Ale^ndrovna had been inspired 
with a great idea ! and I promised to reveal this idea in its 
proper place. But I am sure the reader has guessed it 
already 1 — It was, to " confiscate " the prince in her turn, 
and carry him off to the village where, at this moment, her 
husband Afanassy Matveyevich vegetated alone. 

I must admit that our heroine was growing more and more 
anxious as the day went on ; but this is often the case with 
heroes of all kinds, just before they attain their great ends 1 
Some such instinct whispered to her that it was not safe to 
remain in Mordasoff another hour, if it could be avoided ; 
— but once in the country house, the whole town might go 
mad and stand on its head, for all she cared ! 

Of course she must not lose time, even there ! All sorts 
of things might happen— even the police might interfere. 
(Reader, I shall never believe, for my part, that my heroine 
really had the slightest fear of the vulgar police force ; but 
as it has been rumoured in Mordasoff that at this moment 
such a thought tfid pass through her brain, why, 1 must 
record the fact.) 

In a word she saw clearly that Zina's marriage with the 
prince must be brought about at once, without delay I It 
was easily done: the priest at the village should per- 
form the ceremony ; why not the day after to-morrow ? or 
indeed, in case of need, to-morrow ? Marriages had often 
been brought about in less time than this — in two hours, she 
had heard! It would be easy enough to persuade the 
prince that haste and simplicity would be in far better taste 



uncle's DREAM; 89 

than- all the usual pomps and vanities of common everyday 
weddings. In fact, she relied upon her skill in putting the 
matter to the old man as a fitting dramatic issue to a 
romantic story of love, and thus to touch the most sensitive 
string of his chivalrous heart. 

In case of absolute need there was always the possibility 
of making him drunk, or rather of keeping him perpetually 
drunk. And then, come what might, Zina would be a 
princess ! And if this marriage were fated to produce 
scandal among the prince's relations and friends in St. 
Petersburg and Moscow, Maria Alexandrovna comforted 
herself with the reflection that marriages in high life nearly 
always a'^r^ productive of scandal ; and that such a result 
might fairly be looked upon as * good form,' and as peculiar 
to aristocratic circles. 

Besides, she felt sure that Zina need only show herself 
in society, with her mamma to support her, and every one 
of all those countesses and princes should very soon either 
acknowledge her of their own accord, or yield to the head- 
washing that Maria Alexandrovna felt herself so competent 
to give to any or all of them, individually or collectively. 

It was in consequence of these reflections that Maria 
Alexandrovna was now hastening with all speed towards 
her village, in order to bring back Afanassy Matveyevitch, 
whose presence she considered absolutely necessary at this 
crisis. It was desirable that her husband should appear and 
invite the prince down to the country : she relied upon the 
appearance of the father of the family, in dress-coat and 
white tie, hastening up to town on the first rumours of the 
prince's arrival there, to produce a very favourable impres- 
sion upon the old man's self-respect : it would flatter him ; 
and after such a courteous action, followed by a polite and 
warmly-couched mvitation to the country, the prince would 
hardly refuse to go. 

At last the carriage stopped at the door of a long low 
wooden house, surrounded by old lime trees. This was the 
country house, Maria Alexandrovna's village residence. 
Lights were burning inside. 

"Where's my old fool?" cried Maria Alexandrovna 
bursting like a hurricane into the sitting-room. 



90 Uncle's dream. 

"Whafs this towel lying here for? — ^Oh I — he's been 
wiping his head, has he. What, the baths again ! and tea 
—if course tea ! — always tea ! Well, what are you winking 
your eyes at me for, you old fool ? — Here, why is his hair not 
cropped ? Grisha, Grisha ! — here ; why didn't you cut 
your master's hair, as I told you ? ** 

Maria Alexandrovna, on entering the room, had intended 
to greet her husband more kindly than this ; but seeing 
that he had just been to the baths and that he was drinking 
tea with great satisfaction, as usual, she could not restrain 
her irritable feelings. 

She felt the contrast between her own activity and 
intellectual energy, and the stolid indifference and sheep- 
like contentedness of her husband, and it went to her heart ! 

Meanwhile the "old fool," or to put it more politely, he who 
had been addressed by that title, sat at the tea-urn, and 
stared with open mouth, in abject alarm, opening and 
shutting his lips as he gazed at the wife of his bosom, 
who had almost petrified him by her sudden appearance. 

At the door stood the sleepy, fat Grisha, looking on at 
the scene, and blinking both eyes at periodical intervals. 

"I couldn't cut his hair as you wished, because he 
wouldn't let me !" he growled at last. " * You'd better let 
me do it ! ' — I said, * or the mistress '11 be down one of these 
days, artd then we shall both catch it ! ' ** 

" No," he says, " I want it like this now, and you shall 
cut it on Sunday. I like it long ! '* 

** What ! — So you wish to curl it without my leave, do 
you ! What an idea — as if you could wear curls with your 
sheep-face underneath ! Good gracious, what a mess youVe 
made of the place ; and what's the smell — ^what have you 
been doing, idiot, eh 1 " cried Maria Alexandrovna, waxing 
more and more angry, and turning furiously upon the 
wretched and perfectly innocent Afanassy ! 

" Mam — mammy ! " muttered the poor frightened master 
of the house, gazing with frightened eyes at the mistress, and 
blinking with all his might — " mammy ! " 

*' How many times have I dinned into your stupid head 
that I am not your 'mammy.' How can I be your 
mammy, you idiotic pigmy ? How dare you call a noble 



UNCLE*S DREAM. 9 1 

lady by such a name ; a lady whose proper place is in the 
highest circles, not beside an ass like yourself! " 

" Yes — yes, — but — but, you are my legal wife, you know, 

after all ; — ^so I — ^it was husbandly affection you know " 

murmured poor Afanassy, raising both hands to his head as 
he spoke, to defend his hair from the tugs he evidently 
expected. 

** Oh, idiot that you are ! did anyone ever hear such a 
ridiculous answer as that — legal wife, indeed 1 Who ever 
heard the expression Megal wife,* in good society — nasty 
low expression ! And how dare you remind me that I am 
your wife, when I use all my power and do all I possibly 
can at every moment to forget the fact, eh? What are 
you covering your head with your hands for ? Look at his 
hair — ^now : wet, as wet as reeds i it will take three hours to 
dry that head 1 How on earth am I to take him like this ? 
How can he show his face among respectable people ? 
What am I to do?" 

And Maria Alexandrovna bit her finger-nails with rage as 
she walked furiously up and down the room. 

It was no very great matter, of course ; and one that was 
easily set right ; but Maria Alexandrovna required a vent 
for her feelings and felt the need of emptying out her 
accumulated wrath upon the head of the wretched Afanassy 
Matveyevitch ; for tyranny is a habit recallable at need. 

Besides, everyone knows how great a contrast there is 
between the sweetness and refinement shown by many 
ladies of a certain class on the stage, as it were, of society 
life, and the revelations of character behind the scenes at 
home ; and I was anxious to bring out this contrast for my 
reader's benefit. 

Afanassy watched the movements of his terrible spouse 
in fear and trembling ; perspiration formed upon his brow 
as he gazed, 

"GrishaT' she cried at last, "dress your master this 
instant ! Dress-coat, black trousers, white waistcoat and 
tie, quick ! Where's his hairbrush — quick, quick ! '* 

" Mam — my I Why, I've just been to the bath. I shall 
catch cold if I go up to town just now l" 

" You won't catch cold I *' 



92 , UI^CLE'S DREAM.. 

" But— rmammy, my hair's quite wet ! " . . 

** We'll dry it in a minute. Here, Grisha, take tliis brush 
and brush away till he*s dry, — harder — harder — much 
harder ! There, that's better V 

Grisha worked like a man. For the greater convenience 
of his herculean task he seized his master's shoulder with 
one hand as he rubbed violently with the other. Poor 
Afanassy grunted and groaned and almost wept. 

" Now, then, lift him up a bit. Where's the pomatum ? 
Bend your head, duffer ! — bend lower, you abject dummy !*' 
And Maria Alexandrovna herself undertook to pomade her 
husband's hair, ploughing her hands through it without the 
slightest pity. Afanassy heartily wished that his shock 
growth had been cut. He .winced, and groaned and 
moaned, but did not cry out under the painful operation. 

**You suck my life-blood out of me — bend lower, you 
idiot ! " remarked the fond wife — " bend lower still, I 
tell you ! " 

"How have I sucked your life blood ? " asked the victim, 
bending his head as low as circumstances permitted. 

" Fool ! — allegorically, of course — can't you under- 
stand ? Now, then, comb it yourself. Here, Grisha, dress 
him, quick ! " 

Our heroine threw herself into an arm-chair, and critically 
watched the ceremony of adorning her husband. Mean- 
while the latter had a little opportunity to get his breath 
once more and compose his feelings generally ; so that when 
matters arrived at the point where the tie is tied, he had 
even developed so much audacity as to express opinions of 
his own as to how the bow should be manufactured. 

At last, having put his dress-coat on, the lord of the 
manor was his brave self again, and gazed at his highly 
ornate person in the glass with great satisfaction and 
complacency. 

" Where are you going to take me to ? " he now asked, 
smiling at his reflected self. 

Maria Alexandrovna could not believe her ears. 

**What — whatl How dare you ask me where I am 
taking you to, sir ! ^ 

*^ But — mammy — I must know, you know " 



uncle's dream. 9^ 

" HoW your tongue I You let me hear you call me 
mammy again, especially where we are going to now ! you 
sha'n't have any tea for a month ! " 

The frightened consort held his peace. 

" Look at that, now! You haven't got a single 'order' 
to put on — sloven ! " she continued, looking at his black 
coat with contempt. 

" The Government awards orders, mammy ; and I am not 
a sloven, but a town councillor 1 " said Afanassy, with a 
sudden access^ of noble wrath. 

" What, what — what I So youVe learned to argue now, 
have you — you mongrel, you ? However, I haven't time 

to waste over you npw, or Fd but I sha'n't forget it. 

Here, Grisha, give him his fur coat and his hat — quick ; and 
look here, Grisha, when I'm gone, get these three rooms 
ready, and the green room, and the comer bedroom. 
Quick — find your broom ; take the coverings off the looking- 
glasses and clocks, and see that all is ready and tidy within 
an hour. Put on a dress coat^ and see that the other men 
have gloves : don't lose time. Quick, now ! " 

She entered the carriage, followed by Afanassy. The 
latter sat bewildered and lost. 

Meanwhile Maria Alexandrovna reflected as to how 
best she could drum into her husband's thick skull certain 
essential instructions with regard to the present situation 
of affairs. But Afanassy anticipated her. 

" I had a very original dream to-day, Maria Alexan- 
drovna," he observed quite unexpectedly, in the middle of 
a long silence. 

" Tfu ! idiot. I thought you were going to say something 
of terrific interest, from the look of you. Dream, indeed ! 
How dare you mention your miserable dreams to me! 
Original, too ! Listen here : if you dare so much as remind 
me of the word * dream,' or say anything else, either, where 
we are going to-day, I — I don't know what I won't do to 
you ! Now, look here : Prince K. has arrived at my 
house. Do you remember Prince K. ? 

" Oh, yes, mammy, I remember ; and why has he done 
us this honour ? " 

" Be quiet ; that's not your business. Now, you are to 



94 uncle's dream. 

invite him, with all the amiability you can, to come down to 
our house in the country, at once ! That is what I am 
taking you up for. And if you dare so much as breathe 
another word of any Mnd, either to-day or to-morrow, or 
next day, without leave from me; you shall herd geese for a 
whole year. You're not to say a single word, mind ! and 
that's all you have to think of. Do you understand, now ? " 

'* Well, but if Tm asked anything ? " 

** Hold your tongue all the same ! " 

" Oh, but I can't do that— I can't do ^ 

** Very well, then ; you can say * H'm,' or something of 
that sort, to give them the idea that you are very wise 
indeed, and like to Aink well before answering.** 

"H'm." 

"Understand me, now, I am taking you up because 
you are to make it appear that you have just heard of the 
prince's visit, and have hastened up to town in a transport of 
joy to express your unbounded respect and gratitude to 
him, and to invite him at once to your country house i Do 
you understand me ? " 

" H'm." 

"I don't want you to say 'H'm* now^ you fool! You 
must answer me when I speak ! " 

"All right — ^all right, mammy. All shall be as you 
wish ; but why am I to ask the prince down?*' 

" What — what ! arguing again. What business is it of 
yonrs 7vhy you are to mvite him? How dare you ask 
questions 1 " 

" Why it's all the same thing, mammy. How am I to 
invite him if 1 must not say a word?** 

" Oh, I shall do all the talking. All you have to do is to 
bow. Do you hear ? Bow ; and hold your hat in your 
hand and look polite. Do you understand, or not ?" 

" I understand, mam — Maria Alexandrovna.** 

" The prince is very witty, indeed ; so mind, if he sgj^s 
anything either to yourself or anyone else, you are to laugh 
cordially and merrily. Do you hear me ? " 

« H'm." 

" Don't say * H'm * to me^ I tell you. You are to answer 
me plainly and simply. Do you hear me, or not ? " 



uncle's dream. 95 

"Yes, yes; I hear you, of course. That's all right. I 
only say ' H'm,' for practice ; I want to get into the way of 
saying it. But look here, mammy, it's all very well ; you 
say I'm not to speak, and if he speaks to me I'm to look at 
him and laugh — but what if he asks me a question ?" 

" Oh — you dense log of a man ! I tell you again, you 
are to be quiet. Til answer for you. You have simply got 
to look polite, and smile ! " 

** But he'll think I am dumb!" said Afanassy. 

** Well, and what if he does. Let him ! You'll conceal the 
fact that you are a fool, anyhow ! " 

" H'm, and if other people ask me questions ? " 

•* No one will ; there'll be no one to ask you. But if 
there should be anyone eke in the room, and they ask you 
questions, all you have to do is to smile sarcastically. Do 
you know what a sarcastic smile is ?" 

** What, a witty sort of smile, is it, mammy?" 

<* ril let you know about it ! Witty^ indeed ! Why, who 
would think of expecting anything witty from a fool like 
you. No, sir, a jesting smile— ^'(W/m^ and contemptuously 

♦' H'm." 

" Good heavens, I'm afraid for this idiot," thought Maria 
AlexanSrovna to herself. " I really think it would have 
been almost better to leave him behind, after all." So 
thinking, nervous and anxious, Maria Alexandrovna drove 
on. She looked out of the window, and she fidgeted, and 
she bustled the coachman up. The horses were almost 
flying through the air; but to her they appeared to be 
crawling. Afanassy sat silent and thoughtful in the corner 
of the carriage, practising his lessons. At last the carriage 
arrived at the town house. 

Hardly, however, had Maria Alexandrovna mounted the 
outer steps when she became aware of a fine pair of horses 
trotting up — drawing a smart sledge with a hood to it. In 
fact; the very "turn-out" in which Anna Nicolaevna 
Antipova was generally to be seen. 

Two ladies sat in the sledge. One of these was, of 
course, Mrs. Antipova herself; the other was Natalia 
Dimitrievna, of late the great friend and ally of the former 
lady. 



^6 uncle's dream. 

Maria Alexandrovna's heart sank. 

But she had no time to say a word, before another smart 
vehicle drove up, in which there reclined yet another guest. 
Exclamations of joy and delight were now heard. 

** Maria Alexandrovna ! and Afanassy Matveyevitch ! Just 
arrived, too ! Where from ? How extremely delightful ! And 
here we are, you see, just driven up at the right moment.- 
We are going to spend the evening with you. What a 
delightful surprise." 

. The guests ahghted and fluttered up the steps like so 
many swallows, 

Maria Alexandrovna could neither believe her eyes nor 
her ears. 

" Curse you all ! " she said to herself. '* This looks like* 
a plot — it must be seen to ; but it takes more than a fli/^ht of 
magpies like you to get to windward of me. Wait a little 1 1 " 



CHAPTER XI. 

MosGLiAKOFF Went out from Maria Alexandrovna's house 
to all appearances quite pacified. She had fired his ardour 
completely. His imagination was kindled. 

He did not go to his godfather's, for he felt the need oF 
solitude. A terrific rush of heroic and romantic thoughts 
surged over him, and gave him no rest 

He pictured to himself the solemn explanation he should 
have with Zina, then the generous throbs of his all-forgiving 
heart; his pallor and despair at the future ball in St. 
Petersburg ; then Spain, the Guadalquiver, and love, and 
the old dying prince joining their hands with his last bless- 
ing. Then came thoughts of his beautiful wife, devoted to 
himself, and never ceasing to wonder at and admire her 
husband's heroism and exalted refinement of taste and 
conduct. Then, among other things, the attention which 
he should attract among the ladies of the highest circles, 
into which he would of course enter, thanks to his marriage 
with Zina — widow of the Prince K. : then the inevitable 
appointments, first as a vice-governor, with the delightful 
accompaniment of salary : in a word, all, W/ that Maria Alex- 
androvna's eloquence had pictured to his imagination, now 
marched in triumphant procession through his brain, sooth- 
ing and attracting and flattering his self-love. 

And yet — (I really cannot explain this phenomenon, 
however !) — and yet, no sooner did the first flush of this de- 
lightful sunrise of future delights pass off and fade away, 
than the annoying thought struck him : this is all very 
well, but it is in the future : and now, to-day, I shall look 
a dreadful fool As he reflected thus, he looked up and 

^ 97 



9$ uncle's dream: 

found that he had wandered a long way, to some of the 
dirty back slums of the town. A wet snow was falling ; now 
and again he met another belated pedestrian like himself. 
The outer circumstances began to anger MosgliakofT, which 
was a bad sign ; for when things are going well with us we 
are always inclmed to see everything in a rose-coloured 
light 

Paul could not help remembering that up to now he had 
been in the habit of cutting a dash at Mordasoff. He had 
enjoyed being treated at all the houses he went to in the 
town, as Zina's accepted lover, and to be congratulated, as 
he often was, upon the honour of that distinction. He was 
proud of being her future husband ; and here he was now 
with notice to quit He would be laughed at He couldn't 
tell everybody about the future scene in the ball-room at 
St. Petersburg, and the Guadalquiver, and all that ! And 
then a thought came out into prominence, which had been 
uncomfortably fidgeting about in his brain for some time: 
**Was it all true? Would it really come about as^ Maria 
Alexandrovna had predicted ? " 

Here it struck him that Maria Alexandrovna was an 
amazingly cunning woman ; that, however worthy she might 
be of universal esteem, still she was a known scandal- 
monger, and lied from morning to night ! that, again, she 
probably had some good reason for wishing him out of the 
place to-night. He next bethought him of Zina, and of her 
parting look at him, which was very far from being expres- 
sive of passionate love ; he remembered also, that, less than 
an hour ago she had called him a fool. 

As he thought of the last fact Paul stopped in his tracks, 
as though shot ; blushed, and almost cried for very shame I 
At this very moment he was unfortunate enough to lose 
his footing on the slippery pavement, and to go head-first 
into a snow-heap. As he stood shaking himself dry, a 
whole troop of dogs, which had long trotted barking at his 
heels, flew at him. One of them, a wretched little half- 
starved beast, went so far as to fix her teeth into his fur 
coat and hang therefrom. Swearing and striking out, 
Paul cleared his way out of the yelping pack at last, in a 
fiiry, and with rent clothes; and making his way as fast as he 



uncle's dream. 99 

could to the comer of the street, discovered that he hadn't 
the slightest idea where he was. He walked up lanes, and 
down streets, and round comers, and lost himself more and 
more hopelessly ; also his temper. ** The devil take all 
these confounded exalted ideas ! " he growled, half aloud ; 
" and the archfiend take every one of you, you and your 
Guadal quivers and humbug ! *' 

MosgliakofF was not in a pretty humour at this moment. 

At last, tired and horribly angry, after two hours of 
walking, he reached the door of Maria Alexandrovna's house. 

Observing a host of carriages standing outside, he paused 
to consider. 

" Surely she has not a party to-night 1" he thought, "and 
if she has, why has she a party ? " 

He inquired of the servants, and found out that Maria 
Alexandrovna had been out of town, and had fetched up 
Afanassy Matveyevitch, gorgeous in his dress-suit and white 
tie. He learned, further, that the prince was awake, but 
had not as yet made his appearance in the " salon.'' 

On receiving this information, Paul Mosgliakoff said not 
a word, but quietly made his way upstairs to his uncle's 
room. 

He was in that frame of mind in which a man determines 
to commit some desperate act, out of revenge, aware at the 
time, and wide awake to the fact that he is about to do the 
deed, but forgetting entirely that he may very likely regret 
it all his life afterwards ! 

Entering the prince's room, he found that worthy seated 
before the glass, with a perfectly bare head, but with 
whiskers and napoleon stuck on. His wig was in the. 
hands of his old and grey valet, his favourite Ivan 
Pochomitch, and the latter was gravely and thoughtfully 
combing it out. 

As for the prince, he was indeed a pitiable object ! He 
was not half awake yet, for one thing ; he sat as though he 
were still dazed with sleep ; he kept opening and shutting 
his mouth, and stared at Mosgliakoff as though he did not 
know him ! 

" Well, how are you, uncle ? " asked Mosgliakoff. 

** What it's you, is it 1 " said the prince, " Ye — yes ; 



loo uncle's dream. 

I've been as — ^leep a little while ! Oh, heavens 1 " he cried 
suddenly, with great animation, " why, I've got no wi — ig 
on!" 

" Oh, never mind that, uncle ; I'll help you on with it, 
if you like ! " 

"Dear me; now youVe found out my se — ecret! I 
told him to shut the door. Now, my friend, you must give 
me your word in — stantly, that you'll never breathe a hint 
of this to anyone — I mean about my hair being ar — tificial 1 " 

" Oh, uncle I As if I could be guilty of such meanness ? " 
cried Paul, who was anxious to please the prince, for 
reasons of his own. , 

**Ye — yes, ye — yes. Well, as I see you are a good 
fe— ellow, I — ril just as— tonish you a little : I'll tell you all 
my secrets ! How do you like my mo us — tache, my dear 
boy?" 

'* Wonderful, uncle, wonderful ! It astonishes me that 
you should have been able to keep it so long ! " 

" Sp — are your wonder, my friend, it's ar — tificial ! " 

" No ! ! That's difficult to believe ! Well, and your 
whiskers, uncle 1 admit — you black them, now dotit you ? " 

" Black them ? Not — only I don't black them, but they, 
too, are ar — tificial !" said the Prince, regarding MosgliakoJ 
with a look of triumph. 

*'^ What I Artificial? No, no, uncle! I can't believe 
that I You're laughing at me ! " 

^^ Parole dhonneur^ mon ami I ** cried the delighted old 
man ; " and fancy, all— everybody is taken in by them just 
as you were I Even Stephanida Matveyevna cannot believe 
they are not real, sometimes, although she often sticks them 
on herself ! But, I am sure, my dear friend, you will keep my 
se — cret. Give me your word I " 

** I do give you my word, uncle ! But surely you do 
not suppose I would be so mean as to divulge it ?" 

" Oh, my boy ! I had such a fall to-day, without you. 
The coachman upset me out of the carriage again ! " 

"How? When?" 

** Why, we were driving to the mo — nastery, when ? ^' 

"I know, uncle: that was eariy this morning!" 

" No, no ! A couple of hours ago, not more 1 I Viras 



uncle's dream, lOI 

driving along with him, and he suddenly took and up^set 
me ! " 

" Why, my dear uncle, you were asleep," began Paul, in 
amazement 1 

" Ye — yes, ye — yes. I did have a sleep ; and then I 
drove away, at least I — ^at least I — dear me, how strange it 
fill seems 1 *' 

" I assure you, uncle, you have been dreaming ! You 
saw all this in a dream I You have been sleeping quietly 
here since just after dinner I " 

" No ! " And the prince reflected, <* Ye — ^yes. Perhaps 
I did see it all in a dream ! However, I can remember all 
1 saw quite well. First, I saw a large bull with horns ; and 
then 1 saw a pro— curor, and I think he had huge horns 
too. Then there was Napoleon Buonaparte. Did you 
ever hear, my boy, that people say 1 am so like Napoleon 
Buonaparte ? But my prohle is very like some old pope. 
What do you think about it, my bo — oy ? " 

" I think you are much more like Napoleon Buonaparte, 
uncle ! '' 

" Why, ye — yes, of course — full face ; so I am, my boy, 
so I am 1 I dreamt of him on his is — land, and do you 
know he was such a merry, talk — ^ative fellow, he quite 
am — used me 1 " 

"Who, uncle — Napoleon?* asked Mosgliakoff, looking 
thoughtfully at the old man. A strange idea was beginning 
to occupy his brain — an idea which he could not quite put 
into shape as yet, 

" Ye — yes, ye — yes. Nap — oleon, W€ talked about philo- 
sophical subjects. And do you know, my boy, I became 
quite sorry that the English had been so hard upon 
him. Of course, though, if one didn't chain him up, he 
would be flying at people's throats again I Still Fm sorry 
for him. Now I should have managed him quite dif- 
ferently. I should have put him on an uninhabited 
island." 

" Why uninhabited, uncle ? " asked Mosgliakoff*, absently, 

'*Well, well, an inhabited one, then ; but the in — habitants 
must be good sort of people. And I should arrange all 
sorts of amusements for him, at the State's charge ; theatres, 

H 



I02 UNCLE'S DREAM. 

balle's, and so on. And, of course, he should walk about, 
under proper su — pervision. Then he should have tarts 
(he liked tarts, you know), as many tarts as ever he pleased. 
I should treat him like a fa — ather ; and he would end by 
being sorry for his sins, see if he wouldn't I " 

Mosgliakoff listened absently to all this senile gabble, and 
bit his nails with impatience. He was anxious to turn 
the conversation on to the subject of marriage. He did not 
know quite clearly why he wished to do so, but his heart 
was boiling over with anger. 

Suddenly the old man made an exclamation of surprise. 

" Why, my dear boy, I declare IVe forgotten to tell you 
about it. Fancy, I made an offer of marriage to-day ! " 

" An offer of marriage, uncle ? " cried Paul, brightening 
up. 

" Why, ye — yes ! an offer. Pachomief, are you gging ? 
All right! Away with you! Y^'—yts/if est une char manU 
fersonne. But I confess, I took the step rather rash — ly. 
I only begin to see that now. Dear me 1 dear, dear me ! " 

*' Excuse me, uncle ; but when did you make this offer ? " 

" Well, I admit I don't know exactly when I made it ! Per- 
haps I dre — dreamed it ; I don't know. Dear me, how very 
strange it all seems ! " 

Mosgliakoff trembled with joy : his new idea blazed forth 
in full developed glory. 

" And whom did you propose to ? " he asked impatiently. 

" The daughter of the house, my boy ; that beau — tiful 
girl. I — I forget what they call her. Bu— but, my dear 
boy, you see I — I can't possibly marry. W^hat am I to 
do?" 

" Oh ! of course, you are done for if you marry, that's 
clear. But let me ask you one more question, uncle. Are 
ypu perfectly certain that you actually made her an offer of 
marriage ? " 

" Ye—yes, I'm sure of it ; I — I — ." 

"And what if you dreamed the whole thing, just as 
you did that you were upset out of the carriage a second 
time?" 

" Dear me I dear me I I — I really think I may have 
dreamed it ; it's very awkward. I don't know how to show 



uncle's dream. 103 

hiyself there, now. H — how could I find out, d6ar boy, for 
certain? Couldn't I get to know by some outside way 
whether I really did make her an offer of ma — carriage or 
not ? Why, just you think of my dreadful po — sition ! " 

" Do you know, uncle, I don't think we need trouble our- 
selves to find out at all." 

" Why, wh— what then ? " 

" I am convinced that you were dreaming." 

" I — I think so myself, too, my dear fellow ; es — specially 
as I often have that sort of dream." 

" You see, uncle, you had a drop of wine for lunch, and 
then another drop or two for dinner, don't you know ; and 
so you may easily have " 

" Ye — ^yes, quite so, quite so ; it may easily have been 
that." 

" Besides, my dear uncle, however excited you may have 
been, you would never have taken such a senseless step in 
your waking moments. So far as I know you, uncle, you 
are a man of the highest and most deliberate judgment^ and 
I am positive that " 

"Ye — yes, ye — yes." 

" Why, only imagine — if your relations were to get to hear 
of such a thing. My goodness, uncle ! they were cruel 
enough to you before. What do you suppose they would 
do now, eh ? " 

" Goodness gracious I " cried the frightened old prince. 
" Good — rness gracious I Wh — ^why, what would they do, 
do you think ? " 

" Do ? Why, of course, they would all screech out that you 
had acted under the influence of insanity : in fact, that you 
were mad ; that you had been swindled, and that you must 
be put under proper restraint In fact, they'd pop you 
into some lunatic asylum." 

Mosgliakoff was well aware of the best method of fright- 
ening the poor old man out of his wits. 

" Gracious heavens ! " cried the latter, trembling like 
a leaflet with horror. '* Gra— cious heavens ! would they 
really do that?" 

" Undoubtedly ; and, knowing this,' uncle, think for your- 
self. Could you possibly have done such a thing with your 
H— 2 



104 uncle's DREA!Vr, 

eyts open ? As if you don't understand what's good for you 
just as well as your neighbours, I solemnly affirm that you 
saw all this in a dream 1 " 

** Of course, of course; un — doubtedly in a dream, un — 
doubtedly so I What a clever fellow you are, my dear boy ; 
you saw it at once. I am deeply grate — ful to you for put- 
ting me right. I was really quite under the im — pression 
I had actually done it." 

"And how glad I am that I met you, uncle, 
before you went in there ! Just fancy, m hat a mess 
you might have made of it! You might have gone 
in thinking you were engaged to the girl, and behaved 
in the capacity of accepted lover. Think how feariully 
dangerous ." 

" Ye^ — yes, of course ; most dangerous ! " 

"Why, remember, this girl is twenty-three years old. 
Nobody will marry her, and suddenly j'^a, a rich and emi- 
nent man of rank and title, appear on the scene as her 
accepted swain. They would lay hold of the idea at once, 
and act up to it, and swear that you really were her future 
husband, and would marry you off, too. I daresay they 
would even count upon your speedy death, and make their 
calculations accordingly." 

"No!" 

" Then again, uncle ; a man of your dignity ** 

" Ye — yes, quite so, dig— nity ! " 

" And wisdom, — and amiability " 

" Quite so ; wis — dom — wisdom I" 

" And then — a prince into the bargain ! Good gracious, 
uncle, as if a man like yourself would make such a match as 
t/iaf, if you really did mean marrying 1 What would your 
relations say ? " 

" Why, my dear boy, they'd simply ea — eat me up,— I — I 
know their cunning and malice of old I My dear fellow 
— you won't believe it — but I assure you I was afraid they 
were going to put me into a lun — atic asylum I a common 
ma — adhouse 1 Goodness me, think of that I Whatever 
should I have done with myself all day in a ma — ad- 
house ? " 

" Of course, of course I Well, I won't leave your side, 



/uncle's MIEAM. " 1 05 

'then,tincle, when you go downstairs. There are guests there 
too!" 

" Guests ? dear me ! I— I '* 

** Don't be afraid, uncle ; I shall be by you ! " 

** I — I'm so much obliged to you, my dear boy ; you have 
simply sa — ^ved me, you have indeed ! But, do you know 
what, — 1 think I'd better go away altogether ! " 

" To-morrow, uncle I to-morrow morning at seven ! and 
this evening you must be sure to say, in the presence of 
everybody, that you are starting away at seven next morn- 
ing : you must say good-bye to-night 1 " 

" Un — doubtedly, undoubtedly — I shall go ; — but what 
if they talk to me as though I were engaged to the young 
wo — Oman ? " 

" Don't you fear, uncle I I shall be there ! And mind, 
whatever they say or hint to you, you must declare 
that you dreamed the whole thing — as indeed you did, of 
course ? " 

" Ye — yes, quite so, un — doubtedly so ! But, do you know 
my dear boy, it was a most be — witching dream, for all that I 
She is a wond — erfully lovely girl, my boy, — such a figure — 
bewitching — be — witching I " 

" Well, au revoir^ uncle 1 I'm going down, now, and 
you " 

** How I How ! you are not going to leave me alone ? " 
cried the old man, greatly alarmed. 

" No, no — oh no, uncle ; but we must enter the room 
separately. First, I will go in, and then you come down ; 
that will be better 1 " 

** Very well, very well. Besides, I just want to note down 
one little i — dea " 

" Capital, uncle ! jot it down, and then come at once ; 
don't wait any longer ; and to-morrow morning " 

" And to-morrow morning away we go to the Her— mitage, 
straight to the Her — mitage! Charming — charm — ing! but, do 
you know, my boy,— she's a fas — cinating girl— she is 
indeed 1 be — witching I Such a bust 1 and, really, if I were to 
marry, I — I — ^really ^" 

" No, no, uncle I Heaven forbid ! " 

" Yes— yes — quite so — Heaven for — bid ! — well, au revoir^ 



Io6 UNCLE'S DREAM. 

my friend — 111 come directly ; by the bye— I meant to ask 
you, have you read Kazanoffs Memoirs?" 
"Yes, uncle. Why?" 

" Yes, yes, quite so -I forget what I wanted to say *^ 

" You'll remember afterwards, uncle 1 au revoir \ " 
" Au revoir^ my boy, au rrvoir^hut, I say, it was a be- 
witching dream, a most be — witching dream 1 ** 



CHAPTER XII. 

"Here we all are, all of us, come to spend the evening; 
Proskovia lliirishna is coming too, and Luisa Karlovna and 
all ! " cried Mrs. Antipova as she entered the salon, and 
looked hungrily round, ^he was a neat, pretty little woman 1 
she was well-dressed, and knew it. 

She looked greedily around, as I say, because she had an 
idea that the prince and Zina were hidden together some- 
where about the room. 

** Yes, and Katerina Petrovna, and Felisata Michaelovna 
are coming as well," added Natalia Diraitrievna, a huge 
woman — whose figure had pleased the prince so much, and 
who looked more like a grenadier than anything else. This 
monster had been hand and glove with little Mrs. Antipova for 
the last three weeks they were now quite inseparable. 
Natalia looked as though she couid pick her little friend up 
and SNvallow her, bones and all, without thinking. 

** 1 need not say with what rapture 1 welcome you both 
to my house, and for a whole evening, too 1 " piped Maria 
Alexandrovna, a little recovered from her first shock of 
amazement ; " but do tell me, what miracle is it that has 
brought you all to-day, when 1 had quite despaired of ever 
seeing anyone of you in my house again ? " 

"Oil, ohl my dear Maria Alexandrovna !" said Natalia, 
very affectedly, but sweetly. The attributes of sweetness 
and affectation were a curipus contrast to her personal 
appearance. 

" You see, dearest Maria Alexandrovna," chirped Mrs. 
Antipova, "we really must get on with the private 
theatricals question! It was only this very day that Peter 
107 



io8 uncle's dream. 

Michaelovitch was saying how bad it was of us to have 
niade no progress towards rehearsing, and so on ; and that 
it was quite time we brought all our silly squabbles to an 
end I Well, four of us got together to-day, and then it 
struck us * Let's all go to Maria Alexandrovna's, and settle 
the matter once for all 1 ' So Natalia Dimitrievna let all 
the rest know that we were to meet here ! We'll soon settle 
it — I don't think we should allow it to be said that we do 
nothing but ' squabble ' over the preliminaries and get no 
farther, do you^ dear Maria Alexandrovna ? " She added, 
playfully, and kissing our heroine affectionately, ** Good- 
ness me, Zenaida, I declare you grow prettier every day I '* 
And she betook herself to embracing Zina with equal affection. 

'* She has nothing else to do, but sit and grow more and 
more beautiful I " said Natalia with great sw^tness, rubbing 
her huge hands together. 

" Oh, the devil take them all ! they know I care nothin^^ 
about private theatricals— cursed magpies ! " reflected 
Maria Alexandrovna, beside herself with rage. 

"Especially, dear, as that delightful prince is with you 
just now. You know there is a private theatre in his house at 
Donchanoff, and we have discovered that somewhere or 
other there, there are a lot of old theatrical properties and 
decorations and scenery. The prince was at my house 
to-day, but I was so surprised to see him that it all went 
clean out of my head and I forgot to ask him. Now we'll 
broach the subject before him. You must support me 
and we'll persuade him to send us all the old rubbish that 
can be found. We want to get the prince to come and 
see the play, too ! He is sure to subscribe, isn't he— as 
it is for the poor? Perhaps he would even take a part ; he 
is such a dear, kind, willing old man. If only he did, it 
would make the fortune of our play 1 " 

" Of course he will take a part ! why, he can be made to 
play any part I " remarked Natalia significantly. 

Mrs. Antipova had not exagsjerated. Guests poured in 
every moment 1 Maria Alexandrovna hardly had time to 
receive one lot and make the usual exclamations of surprise 
and delight exacted by the laws of etiquette before another 
arrival would be announced. 



uncle's dream. t09 

I will not undertake to describe all these good people. 
1 will only remark that every one of them, on arrival, looked 
about her cunningly ; and that every face wore an expression 
of expectation and impatience. 

Some of them came with the distinct intention of witness- 
ing some scene of a delightfully scandalous nature, and were 
prepared to be very angry indeed if it should turn out that 
they were obliged to leave the house without the gratifica- 
tion of their hopes. 

All behaved in the most amiable and affectionate manner 
towards their hostess ; but Maria Alexandrovna firmly 
braced her nerves for battle. 

Many apparently natural and innocent questions were 
asked about the prince ; but in each one might be detected 
some hint or insinuation. 

Tea came in, and people moved about and changed 
places: one group surrounded the piano ; Zina was requested 
to play and sing, but answered drily that she was not quite 
well — ^and the paleness of her face bore out this assertion. 
Inquiries were made for Mosgliakoff ; and these inquiries 
were addressed to Zina. 

Maria Alexandrovna proved that she had the eyes and 
ears of ten ordinary mortals. She saw and heard all that 
was going on in every comer of the room ; she heard and 
answered every question asked, and answered readily and 
cleverly. She was dreadfully anxious about Zina, however, 
and wondered why she did not leave the room, as she 
usually did on such occasions. 

Poor Afanassy came in for his share of notice, too. It 
was the custom of these amiable people of Mordasoff to 
do their best to set Maria Alexandrovna and her husband 
" by the ears ; '* but to-day there were hopes of extracting 
valuable news and secrets out of the candid simplicity of 
the latter. 

Maria Alexandrovna watched the state of siege into 
which the wretched Afanassy was thrown, with great 
anxiety ; he was answering *' H'm 1 '* to all questions put to 
him, as instructed; but with so wretched an expression 
and so extremely artificial a mien that Maria Alexandrovna 
could barely restrain her wrath. 



no uncx-e's dream. 

" Maria Alexandrovna ! your husband won't have a word 
to say to me I *' remarked a sharp-faced little lady with a 
devil-may-care manner, as though she cared nothing for any- 
body, and was not to be abashed under any circumstances. 
** Do ask him to be a little more courteous towards ladies ! " 

" I really don't know myself what can have happened to 
him to-day ! " said Maria Alexandrovna, interrupting her 
conversation with Mrs. Antipova and Natalia, and laughing 
merrily ; " he is so dreadfully uncommunicative ! He has 
scarcely said a word even to me^ all day I Why don't you 
answer Felisata Michaelovna, Afanassy ? What did you 
ask him ? " 

" But, but — why, mammy, you told me yourself" — began 
the bewildered and lost Afanassy. At this moment he was 
standing at the fireside with one hand placed inside his 
waistcoat, in an artistic position which he had chosen 
deliberately, on mature reflection, — and he was sipping his 
tea. The questions of the ladies had so confused him that 
he was blushing like a girl. 

When he began the justification of himself recorded 
above, he suddenly met so dreadful a look in the eyes of 
his infuriated spouse that he nearly lost all consciousness, 
for terror I 

Uncertain what to do, but anxious to recover himself and 
win back her favour once more, he said nothing, but took a 
gulp of tea to restore his scattered senses. 

Unfortunately the tea was too hot ; which fact, together 
with the hugeness of the gulp he took — quite upset him» 
He burned his throat, choked, sent the cup flying, and burst 
into such a fit of coughing that he was obliged to leave the 
room for a time, awakening universal astonishment by his 
conduct. 

In a word, Maria Alexandrovna saw clearly enough that 
her guests knew all about it, and had assembled with mali- 
cious intent ! The situation was dangerous I They were 
quite capable of confusing and overwhelming the feeble- 
minded old prince before her very eyes I They might even 
carry him off bodily — ^after stirring up a quarrel between 
the old man and herself 1 Anything might happen. 

But £ate had prepared her one niQre surprise* The door 



UNXLE*S DREAM, III 

opened and in came Mosgliakoff— who, as she thought, 
was far enough away at his godfather's, and would not coine 
near her to-night I She shuddered as though something 
had hurt her. 

Mosgliakoff stood a moment at the door, looking around 
at the company. He was a Httle bewildered, and could not 
conceal his agitation, which showed itself very clearly in his 
expression. 

" Why, it's Paul Alexandrovitch I and you told us he had 
gone to his godfather's, Maria Alexandrovna. We were 
told you had hidden yourself away from us, Paul Alexan- 
drovitch ! '* cried Natalia. 

"Hidden myself?" said Paul, with a crooked sort of a 
smile. " W^hat a strange expression ! Excuse me, Natalia 
Dimitrievna, but I never hide from anyone; I have no 
cause to do so, that I know of ! Nor do I ever hide any- 
one else I " he added, looking significantly at Maria Alex- 
androvna. 

Maria Alexandrovna trembled in her shoes. 

" Surely this fool of a man is not up to anything dis- 
agreeable ! " she thought. ** No, no ! that would be worse 
than anything I " She looked curiously and anxiously into 
his eyes. 

" Is it true, Paul Alexandrovitch, that you have just been 
politely dismissed? — the Government service, I mean, of 
course ! " remarked the daring Felisata Michaelovna, looking 
impertinently into his eyes. 

*^ Dismissed I How dismissed ? I'm simply changing my 
department, that's all ! I am to be placed at Petersburg 1 " 
Mosgliakoff answered, drily. 

" Oh ! well, I congratulate you ! " continued the bold 
young woman. " We were alarmed to hear that you were 
trying for a — a place down here at Mordasoff. The berths 
here are wretched, Paul Alexandrovitch — no good at all, I 
assure you ! " 

" I don't know — there's a place as teacher at the school, 
vacant, I believe," remarked Natalia. 

This was such a crude and palpable insinuation that even 
Mrs. Antipova was ashamed of her friend, and kicked her, 
under the table* 



112 uncle's dream. 

"You don't suppose Paul Alexandrovitch would accept' 
the place vacated by a wretched little schoolmaster I " said 
Felisata Michaelovna. 

But Paul did not answer. He turned at this moment, and 
encountered Afanassy Matveyevitch, just returning into the 
room. The latter offered him his hand. Mosgliakoff, like 
a fool, looked beyond poor Afanassy, and did not take his 
outstretched hand : annoyed to the limits of endurance, he 
stepped up to Zina, and muttered, gazing angrily iuto her 
eyes : 

" This is all thanks to you 1 Wait a bit j you shall see 
this very day whether I am a fool or not I " 

"Why put off the revelation? It is clear enough 
already!" said Zina, aloud, staring contemptuously at her 
former lover. 

Mosgliakoff hurriedly left hen He did not half like 
the loud tone she spoke in. 

" Have you been to your godfather's ? " asked Maria 
Alexandrovna at last, determined to sound matters in this 
direction. 

" No, I've just been with uncle." 

" With your uncle 1 Waat ! have you just come from 
the prince now ? " 

" Oh — oh I and we were told the prince was asleep ! " 
added Natalia Dimitrievna, looking daggers at Maria 
Alexandrovna. 

" Do not be disturbed about the prince, Natalia Dimit- 
rievna/* replied Paul, " he is awake now, and quite restored 
to his senses. He was persuaded to drink a good deal too 
much wine, first at your house, and then here; so that he 
quite lost his head, which never was too strong. However, 
1 have had a talk with him, and he now seems to have 
entirely recovered his judgment, thank God ! He is coming 
down directly to take his leave, Maria Alexandrovna, and to 
thank you for all your kind hospitality; and to-morrow 
morning early we are off to the Hermitage. Thence I shall 
myself see him safe home to Donchanovo, in order that he 
may be far from the temptation to further excesses like that 
of to-day. There I shall give him over into the hands of 
Stephanida Matveyevna, who must be back at home by 



uncle's dream. 113 

this time, and who will assuredly never allow him another 
opportunity of going on his travels, I'll answer for that ! " 

So saying, Mosgliakoff stared angrily at Maria Alex- 
androvna. The latter sat still, apparently dumb with 
amazement. I regret to say— it gives me great pain to 
record it — that, perhaps for the first time in her life, my 
heroine was decidedly alarmed. 

" So the prince is off to-morrow morning I Dear me ; 
why is that?*' inquired Natalia Dimitrievna, very sweetly, 
of Maria Alexandrovna. 

"Yes. How is that?" asked Mrs. Antipova, in 
astonishment. 

" Yes ; dear me ! how comes that, I wonder ! " said two or 
three voices. "How can that be? When we were told 
' — dear me ! How very strange ! " 

But the mistress of the house could not find words to 
reply in. 

However, at this moment the general attention was dis- 
tracted by a most unwonted and eccentric episode. In the 
next room was heard a strange noise— sharp exclamations 
and hurrying feet, which was followed by the sudden ap- 
pearance of Sophia Ptttrovna, the fidgety guest who had 
called upon Maria Alexandrovna in the morning. 

Sophia Petrovna was a very eccentric woman indeed — so 
much so that even the good people of Mordasoff could not 
support her, and had lately voted her out of society. I 
must observe that every evening, punctually at seven, this 
lady was in the habit of having, what she called, " a snack," 
and that after this snack, which she declared was for the 
benefit of her liver, her condition was well emancipated^ to 
use no stronger term. She was in this very condition, as 
described, now, as she appeared flinging herself into Maria 
Alexandrovna's salon. 

" Oho! so this is how you treat me, Maria Alexandrovna I** 
she shouted at the top of her voice. " Oh I don't be afraid, 
I shall not inflict myself upon you for more than a minute ! 
I won't sit down. I just came in to see if what they said 
was true ! Ah I so you go in for balls and receptions and 
parties, and Sophia Petrovna is to sit at home alone, and 
•knit stockings, is she ? You ask the whole town in, and 



114 uncle's dr^am. 

leave me out, do you? Yes, and I was mortan^g, and Meat/ 
and all the rest of it when I came in to warn you of Natalia 
Dimitrievna having got hold of the prince I And now this 
very Natalia Dimitrievna, whom you swore at like a pick- 
pocket, and who was just about as polite when she spoke of 
you, is here among your guests ? Oh, don't mind me, Natalia 
Dimitrievna, / don't want your chocolat d la santi at a 
penny the ounce, six cups to the ounce 1 thanks, I can 
do better at home ; t'fu, a good deal better." 

" Evidently 1 " observed Natalia Dimitrievna. 

" But — goodness gracious, Sophia Petrovna I " cried the 
hostess, flushing with annoyance ; " what is it all about ? 
Do show a little common sense I " 

"Oh, don't bother about me, Maria Alexandrovna, thank you ! 
I know all about it — oh, dear me, yes ! — / know all about 
it I " cried Sophia Petrovna, in her shrill squeaky voice, . 
from among the crowd of guests who now surrounded her, 
and who seemed to derive immense satisfaction from this 
unexpected scene. " Oh, yes, I know all about it, I assure 
you ! Your friend Nastasia came over and told me all ! You 
got hold of the old prince, made him drunk and persuaded 
him to make an ofler of marriage to your daughter Zina — 
whom nobody else will marry ; and I daresay you suppose 
you are going to be a very great lady, indeed — a sort of 
duchess in lace and jewellery. T'fu I Don't flatter your- 
self ; you may not be aware that I, too, am a colonel's 
lady ! and if you don't care to ask me to your betrothal 
parties, you needn't : I scorn and despise you and your 
parties too ! I've seen hon ester women than you, you 
know I I have dined at Countess Zalichvatsky's ; a chief 
commissioner proposed for my hand I A lot / care for 
your invitations. T'fu I " 

" Look here, Sophia Petrovna," said Maria Alexandrovna, 
beside herself with rage ; " I assure you that people do not 
indulge in this sort of sally at respectable houses ; especially 
in the condition you are now in 1 And let me tell you that if 
you do not immediately relieve me of your presence and 
eloquence, I shall be obliged to take the matter into my 
own hands ! " 

" Oh, I know — you'll get your people to turn me out J 



uncle's dream. 115 

Don't trouble yourself — I know the way out ! Good-bye, 
— marry your daughter to whom you please, for all 1 care. 
And as for you^ Natalia Dimitrievna, I will thank you not to 
laugh at me ! 1 may not have been asked here, but at all 
events / did not dance a can-can for the princess benefit 
What may. you be laughing at, Mrs. Antipova? I suppose 
you haven't heard that your greaf friend Lushiloff has 
broken his leg ? — he has just been taken home. T'fu I 
Good-bye, Maria Alexandrovna — good luck to you ! T'fu ! " 

Sophia Petrovna now disappeared. All the guests 
laughed ; Maria Alexandrovna was in a state of indescrib- 
able fury. ' 

"1 think the good lady must have been drinking ! " said 
Natalia Dimitrievna, sweetly. 

" But what audacity ! " 

" Quelle abominable femme /^* 

" What a raving lunatic ! " 

*' But really, what excessively improper things she says ! " 

" Yes, but what could she have meant by a * betrothal 
party ? ' What sort of a betrothal party is this ? " asked 
Felisata Michaelovna innocently. 

"It is too bad— too bad!" Maria Alexandrovna burst 
out at last. " It is just such abominable women as this that 
sow nonsensical rumours about ! it is not the fact that there 
are such women about, Felisata Michaelovna, that is so 
sui prising; the astonishing part of the matter is that ladies 
can be found who support and encourage them, and believe 
their abominable tales, and '- " 

" The prince, the prince ! *' cried all the guests at once. 

"Oh, oh, here he is — the dear, dear prince f 

" Well, thank goodness, we shall hear all the particulars 
now 1 " murmured Felisata Michaelovna to her neighbour. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

The prince entered and smiled benignly around. 

All the agitation which his conversation with MosgHakoff, 
a quarter of an hour since, had aroused in his chicken-heart 
vanished at the sight of the ladies. 

Those gentle creatures received him with chirps and 
exclamations of joy. Ladies always petted our old friend 
the prince, and were — as a rule — wonderfully familiar with 
him. He had a way of amusing them with his own 
individuality which was astonishing I Only this morning 
Felisata Michaelovna had announced that she would sit on 
his knee with the greatest pleasure, if he liked ; ** because 
he was such a dear old pet of an old man I " 

Maria Alexandrovna fastened her eyes on him, to read — 
if she could — if it were but the slightest indication of his 
state of mind, and to get a possible idea for a way out of 
this horribly critical position. But there was nothing to be 
made of his face ; it was just as before — ^just as ever it was I 

'* Ah — h ! here's the prince at last 1 ** cried several voices. 
" Oh, Prince, how we have waited and waited for you ! " 

" With impatience, Prince, with impatience I " another 
chorus took up the strain. 

** Dear me, how very flat — tering 1 " said the ofd man, 
settling himself near the tea-table. 

The ladies immediately surrounded him. There only 
remained Natalia Dimitrievna and Mrs. Antipova with the 
hostess. Afanassy stood and smiled with great courtesy. 

Mosgliakoff also smiled as he gazed defiantly at Zina, 
who, without taking the slightest notice of him, took a chair 
near her father, and sat down at the fire-side* 
ii6 



uncle's dream 117 

" Prince, do tell us— is it true that you are about to leave 
us so soon ? ^' asked Felisata Michaelovna. 

" Yes, yes, mesdames; I am going abroad almost im — 
mediately ! " 

" Abroad, Prince, abroad ? Why, what Can have caused 
yen to take such a step as that ? " critsd several ladies at once. 

" Yes — ^yes, abroad," said the prince ; " and do you know 
it is principally for the sake of the new i — deas " 

" How, new ideas ? what new ideas — ^what does hf 
mean ? " the astonished ladies asked of one another. 

" Ye — yes. Quite so — new ideas 1 " repeated the prince 
with an air of dieep conviction, "everybody goes abroad 
now for new ideas, and I'm going too, to see if I can pick 
any up," 

Up to this moment Maria Alexandrovna had listened to 
the conversation observantly ; but it now struck her that the 
prince had entirely forgotten her existence — which would 
not do ! 

"Allow me. Prince, to introduce my husband, Afanassy 
Matveyevitch. He hastened up from our country seat so 
soon as ever he heard of your arrival in our house.*' 

Afanassy, under the impression that he was being praised, 
smiled amiably and beamed all over. 

" Very happy, very happy — Afanassy Mat — ^veyevitch I" 
said the prince. " Wait a moment : your name reminds me 
of something, Afanassy Mat — ^veyevitch; ye — yes, you are the 
man down at the village ! Charming, charm — ing I Very 
glad, I'm siire. Do you remember, my boy,'* (to Paul) "the 
nice little rhyme we fitted out to him ? What was it ? '' 

" Oh, I know, prince,'^ said Felisata Michaelovna — 

«* • When the husband's away 
The wife will play I ' 

" Wasn't that it ? We had it last year at the theatre." 

"Yes,* yes, quite so, ye — yes, * the wife will play ! ' That's 
it : charming, charming. So you are that ve — ry man ? Dear 
me, I'm very glad, I*m sure," said the prince, stretching out 
his hand, but not rising from his chair. " Dear me, and how 
is your health, my dear sir ?" 
"H'ml" 
I 



llS ' tJNCLE'S DREAM. 

' "Oh, he's quite well, thank you, prince, quite well/* 
answered Maria Alexandrovna quickly. 

"Ye— yes, I see he is — he looks it ! And are you still at 
the vill — age? Dear me, very pleased, I'm sure; why, 
how red he looks, and he's always laugh — ing." 

Afanassy smiled and bowed, and even " scraped," as the 
prince spoke, but at the last observation he suddenly, and 
without warning or apparent reason, burst into loud fits of 
laughter. 

The ladies were delighted. Zina flushed up, and with 
flashing eyes darted a look at her mother, who, in her turn, 
was boiling over with rage. 

It was time to change the conversation. 

" Did you have a nice nap, prince ? " she inquired in 
honied accents ; but at the same time giving Afanassy to 
understand, with very un-honied looks that he might go — 
well, anywhere 1" 

** Oh, I slept won — derfully, wonderfully ? And do you 
know, I had such a most fascinating, be — witching dream !" 

** A dream ? how delightful ! I do so love to hear people 
tell their dreams," cried Felisata. 

" Oh, a fas — cinating dream," stammered the old man 
again, " quite be — ^witching, but all the more a dead secret 
for that very reas — on." 

" Oh, Prince, you don't mean to say you can't tell us ? " 
said Mrs. Antipova. ** I suppose it's an extraordinary dream, 
isn't it?" 

'^A dead secret I** repeated the prince, puiposely whet- 
Jing the curiosity of the ladies, and enjoying the fun. 

** Then it must be interesting, oh, dreadfully interesting," 
cried other ladies. 

" I don't mind taking a bet that the prince dreamed that 
he was. kneeling at some lovely woman's feet and making a 
declaration of love," said Felisata Michaelovna. " Confess, 
now, prince, that it was so ? confess, dear prince, confess." 

" Yes, Prince, confess ! " the chorus took up the cry. 
The old man listened solemnly until the last voice was 
hushed. The ladies' guesswork flattered his vanity wonder- 
fully ; he was as pleased as he could be. " Though I did 
say that my dream was a dead se— cret^" he replied at last. 



uncle's dream, 119 

" still I am obliged* to confess, dear lady, that to my 
great as — tonishment you have almost exactly guessed 
it." 

" IVe guessed it, IVe guessed it,'* cried Felisata, in a 
rapture of joy. " Well, prince, say what you like, but it's 
your plain duty to tell us the name of your beauty ; come 
now, isn't it ? " 

'* Of course, of course, prince.'* 

" Is she in this town ? " 

** Dear prince, do tell us." 

** Darling prince, do, do tell us ; you positively musty* 
was heard on all sides. 

** Mesdames^ mes — dames ; if you must know, I will go so 
far as to say that it is the most charming, and be — witching, 
and vir — tuous lady I know,'* said the prince, unctuously ? 

/ The most bewitching ? and belonging to this place ? 
Who can it be ? " cried the ladies, interchanging looks and 
signs. 

" Why, of course, the young lady who is considered the 
reigning beauty here," remarked Natalia Dimitrievna, rub- 
bing her hands and looking hard at Zina with those cat's- 
eyes of hers. All joined her in staring at Zina. 

" But, prince, if you dream those sort of things, why 
should not you marry somebody bona fide V* asked Felisata, 
looking around her with a significant expression. 

" We would marry you off beautifully, prince I " said 
somebody else. 

" Oh, dear prince, do marry ! " chirped another. 

** Marry, marry, do marry I '' was now the cry on all sides. 

** Ye — yes. Why should I not ma — any ! " said the old 
man, confused and bewildered with all the cries and excla- 
mations around him. 

" Uncle 1 " cried MosgUakoff. 
' " Ye — yes, my boy, quite so ; I un — derstand what yoU 
mean. I may as well tell you, ladies, that I am not in a 
position to marry again; and having passed one most 
delightful evening with our fascinating hostess, I must start 
away to-morrow to the Hermitage, and then I shall go 
straight off abroad, and study the question of the enlighten- 
ment of Europe." 
1—2 



I20 UNCLR'S DREAAk 

Zina shuddered, and looked over at her mother with an^ 
expression of unspeakable anguish. 

But Maria Alexandrovna had how made up her mind 
how to act ; all this while she had played a mere waiting 
game, observing closely and carefully all that was said or 
done, although she could see only too clearly that her 
plans were undermined, and that her foes had come about 
her in numbers which were too great to be altogether 
pleasant. 

At last, however, she comprehended the situation, she 
thought, completely. She had gauged how the matter 
stood in all its branches, and she determined to slay the- 
hundred-headed hydra at one fell blow 1 

With great majesty, then, she rose from her seat, and 
approached the tea-table, stalking across the room with 
firm and dignified tread, as she looked around upon her pigmy 
foes. The fire of inspiration blazed in her eyes. She 
resolved to smite once, and annihilate this vile nest ot 
poisonous scandal-adders : to destroy the miserable Mosglia- 
koff, as though he were a blackbeetle, and with one trium- 
phant blow to reassert all her influence over this miserable 
old idiot-prince ! 

Some audacity was requisite for such a performance, of 
course ; but Maria Alexandrovna had not even to put her 
hand in her pocket for a supply of that particular com- 
modity. 

^^Mesdames^ she began, solemnly, and with much dignity 
( Maria Alexandrovna was always a great admirer of solemnity ) ; 
*^mesdamesy I have been a listener to your conversation — 
to your witty remarks and merry jokes — long enough, and 
I consider that my turn has come, at last, to put in a word 
in contribution. 

" You are aware we have all met here accidentally (to my 
great joy, I must add — ^to my very great joy) ; but, though 
I should be the first to refuse to divulge a family secret 
before the strictest rules of ordinary propriety rendered 
such a revelation necessary, yet, as my dear guest here 
appears to me to have given us to understand, by covert 
hints and insinuations, that he is not averse to the matter 
becoming common property (he will forgivjB m^ if I havQ 



XmCLE'S DREAMS I«I 

liiistaken his intentions ! ) — I cannot Kelp feeling that the- 
prince is not only not averse, but actually desires me to make 
known our great family secret. Am 1 right, Prince ? " 

" Ye— yes, quite so, quite so ! Very glad, ve — ^ry glad, 
I'm sure 1" said the prince, who had not the remotest idea 
what the good lady was talking about ! 

Maria Alexandrovna, for greater effect, now paused to take 
breath, and looked solemnly and proudly around upon the 
assembled guests, all of whom were now listening with 
greedy but slightly disturbed curiosity to what their hostess 
was about to reveal to them. 

Mosgliakoff shuddered ; Zina flushed up, and arose from 
her seat ; Afanassy, seeing that something important was 
about to happen, blew his nose violently, in order to be 
ready for any emergency. 

" Yes, ladies ; I am ready — nay, gratified — ^to entrust my 

family secret to your keeping J This evening, the 

f)rince, overcome by the beauty and virtues of my daughter, 
has done her the honour of proposing to me for her hand. 
Prince," she concluded, in trembling tearful accents, 
•* dear Prince ; you must not, you cannot blame me for my 
candour ! It is only my overwhelming joy that could have 
torn this dear secret prematurely from my heart : and what 
mother is there who will blame me in such a case as this ? " 

Words fail me to describe the effect produced by this 
most unexpected sally on the part of Maria Alexandrovna. 
All present appeared to be struck dumb with amazement. 
These perfidious guests, who had thought to frighten Maria 
Alexandrovna by showing her that they knew her secret ; 
who thought to annihilate her by the premature revelation 
of that secret ; who thought to overwhelm her, for the 
present, with their hints and insinuations; these guests 
were themselves struck down and pulverized by this fear- 
less candour on her part ! Such audacious frankness 
argued the consciousness of strength. 

"So that the prince actually, and of his own free-will 
is really going to marry Zina? So they did not drink 
and bully and swindle him into it? So he is not to 
be married burglariously and forcibly ? So Maria Alexan- 
drovna is not afraid of anybody ? Then we can't knock. 



122 tJNCLE's DREAM.- 

this marriage on the head — since the prince is not being 
married compulsorily ! " 

Such were the questions and exclamations the visitors 
now put to themselves and each other. 

But very soon the whispers which the hostess's words had 
awakened all over the room, suddenly changed to chirps 
and exclamations of joy. 

Natalia Dimitrievna was the first to come^orward and 
embrace Maria Alexandrovna ; then came Mrs. Antipova ; 
next Felisata Michaelovna. All present were shortly on 
their feet and moving about, changing places. Many of 
the ladies were pale with rage. Some began to congratulate 
Zina, who was confused enough without ; some attached 
themselves to the wretched Afanassy Matveyevitch. Maria 
Alexandrovna stretched her arms theatrically, and embraced 
her. daughter — almost by force. 

The prince alone gazed upon the company with a sort 
of confused wonder ; but he smiled on as before. He 
seemed to be pleased with the scene. At sight of the 
mother and daughter embracing, he took out his hand- 
kerchief, and wiped his eye, in the corner of which there 
really was a tear. 

Of course the company fell upon him with their con- 
gratulations before very long. 

" I congratulate you. Prince ! I congratulate you ' '* 
came from all sides at once. 

" So you are going to be married, Prince ? " 

" So you really are going to marry ? " 

" Dear Prince ! You really are to be married, then ? " 

" Ye — yes, ye — ^yes ; quite so, quite so ! " replied the old 
fellow, delighted beyond measure with all the rapture and 
atmosphere of congratulation around him ; " and I confess 
what I like best of all, is the ve — ery kind in — terest you all 
take in me ! I shall never forget it, never for — ^get it ! 
Charming! charming! You have brought the tears to my 
eyes ! " 

" Kiss me, prince ! " cried Felisata Michaelovna, in 
stentorian tones. 

"And I con — fess further,'* continued the Prince, as well 
a& the constant physical interruptions from all sides allowed 



uncle's dream. taj 

him ; " I confess I am beyond measure as — tonished that 
Maria Alexandrovna, our revered hostess, should have had 
the extraordinary penet — ration to guess my dream ! She 
might have dreamed it herself, instead of me. Ex — tra* 
ordinary perspicacity ! Won — derful, wonderful I " 

" Oh, prince ; your dream again ! " 

** Oh, come, prince ! admit — confess J " cried one and all. 

** Yes, prince, it is no use concealing it now ; it is time 
we divulged this secret of ours I *' said Maria Alexandrovna, 
severely and decidedly. " I quite entered into your refined, 
allegorical manner ; the delightful delicacy with which you 
gave me to understand, by means of subtle insinuations, that 
you wished the fact of your engagement to be made 
known. Yes, ladies, it is all true ! This very evening the 
prince knelt at my daughter's feet, and actually, and by no 
means in a dream, made a solemn proposal of marriage to 
her!" 

" Yes — yes, quite so ! just exactly like that ; and under the 
very cir — cumstances she describes : just like re — ality,'' 
said the old man. ** My dear young lady," he continued, 
bowing with his greatest courtesy to Zina, who had 
by no means recovered from her amazement as yet; 
*^my dear young lady, I swear to you, I should never 
have dared thus to bring your name into pro — minence, 
if others had not done so before me ! It was a most 
be — witching dream I a be — witching dream ! and I am 
doubly happy that I have been per — emitted to describe it 
Charming — charming ! " 

" Dear me 1 how very curious it is : he insists on sticking 
to his idea about a dream ! " whispered Mrs. Antipova to the 
now slightly paling Maria Alexandrovna. Alas ! that great 
woman had felt her heart beating more quickly than she 
liked without this last little reminder ! 

"What does it mean?" whispered the ladies among 
themselves. 

" Excuse me, prince,** began Maria Alexandrovna, with a 
miserable attempt at a smile, " but I confess you astonish 
me a great deal ! What is this strange idea of yours about a 
dream ? I confess 1 had thought you were joking up to 
this moment ; but — if it be a joke on your part, it is ex-. 



124 uncle's dream^ 

ceedingly out of place ! I should like — I am anxious to 
ascribe your conduct to absence of mind, but " 

•* Yes ; it may really be a case of absence of mind I ** put 
in Natalia Dimitrievna in a whisper. 

" Yes — yes — of course, quite so ; it may easily be absence 
of mind ! " confirmed the prince, who clearly did not in 
the least comprehend what they were trying to get out of 
him; ** and with regard to this subject, let me tell you a little 
an — ecdote. I was asked to a funeral at Petersburg, and 
I went and made a little mis — take about it and thought it 
was a birthday par — ty ! So I brought a lovely bouquet of 
cam — ellias I When I came in and saw the master of the 
house lying in state on a table, I didn't know where to 
lo — ok, or what to do with my ca — mellias, I assure you ! " 

" Yes ; but. Prince, this is not the moment for stories 1 " 
observed Maria Alexandrovna, with great annoyance. " Of 
course, my daughter has no need to beat up a husband ; 
but at the same time, I must repeat that you yourself here, 
just by the piano, made her an oflfer of marriage. / did 
not ask you to do it ! I may say I was amazed to hear it I 
However, since the episode of your proposal, I may say that 
I have thought of nothing else ; and I have only waited for 
your ^ippearance to talk the matter over with you. But 
now — well, I am a mother, and this is my daughter. You 
speak of a dream. I supposed, naturally, that you were 
anxious to make your engagement known by the medium 
of an allegory. Well, I am perfectly well aware that some- 
one may have thought fit to confuse your mind on this 
matter ; in fact, I may say that I have my suspicions as to 

the individual responsible for such a however, kindly 

explain yourself. Prince; explain yourself quickly and 
.satisfactorily. You cannot be permitted to jest in this 
fashion in a respectable house." 

" Ye — yes — quite so, quite so ; one should not jest in 
respectable houses," remarked the prince, still bewildered, 
but beginning gradually to grow a little disconcerted. 

" But that is no answer to my question, Prince. I ask 
you to reply categorically. I insist upon your confirming — 
confirming here and at once — the fact that this very evening 
you made a proposal of marriage to my daughter 1 " 



uncle's dream. 125 

" Quite so — quite so ; I am ready to confirm that 1 But 
I have told the com — pany all about it, and Felisata 
Michaelovna ac — tually guessed my dream 1 *' 

** Not dream I it was not a dream 1 " shouted Maria Alexan^ 
drovna furiously. " It was not a dream, Prince, but you 
were wide awake. Do you hear? Awake — ^you were 
awake!'** 

"Awake?" cried the prince, rising from his chair in 
astonishment. Well, there you are, my friend ; it has come 
about just as you said," he added, turning to Mosgliakoff. 
" But I assure you, most es — teemed Maria Alexandrovna, 
that you are under a del — (ision. I am quite convinced 
that I saw the whole scene in a dream ! " 

'* Goodness gracious ! " cried Maria Alexandrovna. 

" Do not disturb yourself, dear Maria Alexandrovna," said 
Natalia Dimitrievna, "probably the prince has forgotten; 
he will recollect himself by and by." 

" I am astonished at you, Natalia Dimitrievna 1 *' said the 
now furious hostess. " As if people forget this sort of thing ! 
Excuse me. Prince, but are you laughing at us, or what are 
you doing ? Are you trying to act one of Dumas' heroes, 
or Lauzun or Ferlacourt, or somebody ? But, if you will 
excuse me saying so, you are a good deal too old for that 
sort of thing, and I assure you, your amiable little play- 
acting will not do here 1 My daughter is not a French 
viscountess ! I tell you, this very evening and in this ver) 
spot here, my daughter sang a ballad to you, and you, 
amazed at the beauty of her singing, went down on your 
knees and made her a proposal of marriage. I am not 
talking in my sleep, am I ? Surely I am wide awake ? 
Speak, Prince, am I asleep, or not?" 

''Ye — yes, of course, of course^^juite so. I don't 
know," said the bewildered old man. ** I mean, I don't 
think I am drea — ming now ; but, a little while ago I was 
asleep, you see ; and while asleep I had this dream, that 

"Goodness me. Prince, I tell you you were not 
dreaming. Not dreaming, do you hear? Not dreaming! 
What on earth do you mean ? Are you raving, Prince, or 
wTiat?" y ^ • 



126 uncle's dream. 

** Ye — yes ; deuce only knows. I don't know ! It seems 
to me I'm getting be — wildered," said the prince, looking 
around him in a state of considerable mental perturbation. 

" But, my dear Prince, how can you possibly have dreamed 
this, when I can tell you all the minutest details of your 
proposal and of the circumstances attending it ? You have 
not told any of us of these details. How could I possibly 
have known what you dreamed ? " 

" But, perhaps the prince did tell someone of his dream, 
in detail," remarked Natalia Dimitrievna. 

" Ye — yes, quite so — quite so ! Perhaps I did tell some- 
one all about my dream, in detail," said the now completely 
lost and bewildered prince. 

" Here's a nice comedy I " whispered Felisata Michaelovna 
to her neighbour. 

"My goodness me I this is too much for anybody's 
patience 1 " cried Maria Alexandrovna, beside herself with 
helpless rage. " Do you hear me. Prince ? She sang you a 
ballad — sang you a ballad 1 Surely you didn't dream that 
too?" 

** Certainly — cer — tainly, quite so. It really did seem to 
me that she sang me a ballad," murmured the prince; and a 
ray of recollection seemed to flash across his face. ** My 
friend," he continued, addressing Mosgliakoff, " I believe I 
forgot to tell you, there was a ballad sung — z. ballad all 
about castles and knights ; and some trou — badour or other 
came in. Of course, of course, I remember it all quite well. 
I recoil — ect I did turn over the ballad. It puzzles me 
much, for now it seems as though I had really heard the 
ballad, and not dreamt it all." 

'*I confess, uncle," said Mosgliakoff, as calmly as he could, 
though his voice shook with agitation, ** I confess I do not 
see any difficulty in bringing your actual experience and 
your dream into strict conformity ; it is consistent enough. 
You probably did hear the ballad. Miss Zenaida sings 
beautifully ; probably you all adjourned into this room and 
Zenaida Afanassievna sang you the song. Of course, I was 
not there myself, but in all probability this ballad reminded 
you of old times ; very likely it reminded you of that very 
vicomtesse with whom you used once to sing, and of whom 



uncle's dream. 127- 

you were speaking to-day ; well, and then, when you went 
up for your nap and lay down, thinking of the delightful im* 
pressions made upon you by the ballad and all, you dreamed 
that you were in love and made an offer of marriage to the 
lady who had inspired you with that feeling. 

Maria Alexandrovna .was struck dumb by this display of 
barefaced audacity. 

" Why, ye — ^yes, my boy, yes, of course ; that's exactly 
how it really wa — as I " cried the prince, in an ecstasy of 
delight. " Of course it was the de — lightfu) impressions 
that caused me to dream it. I certainly re — member the 
song ; and then I went away and dreamed about my pro — 
posal, and that I really wished to marry 1 The viscountess 
was there too. How beautifully you have unravelled the 
diffi — culty, my dear boy. Well, now I am quite convinced 
that it was all a dream. Maria Alex — androvna ! I assure 
you, you are under a delu — usion : it was a dream. I should 
not think of trifling with your feelings otherwise." 

" Oh, indeed ! Now I perceive very clearly whom we 
have to thank for making this dirty mess of our affairs 1 " 
cried Maria Alexandrovna, beside herself with rage, and 
turning to Mosgliakoff : " You are the man, sir — the dis- 
honest person. It is you who stirred up this mud 1 It is 
you that puzzled an unhappy old idiot into this eccentric 
behaviour, because you yourself were rejected ! But we 
shall be quits, my friend, for this ofifence ! You shall pay, 
you shall pay 1 Wait a bit, my dishonest friend ; wait a 
bitl" 

" Maria Alexandrovna ! " cried Mosgliakoff, blushing in 
his turn until he looked as red as a boiled lobster, " your 

words are so, so to such an extent — I really don't know 

how to express my opinion of you. No lady would ever 
permit herself to — to — . At all events I am but pro- 
tecting my relative. You must allow that to allure an old 
man like this is, is ." 

" Quite so, quite so ; allure^* began the prince, trying to 
hide himself behind Mosgliakoff, 

" Afanassy Matveyevitch ! " cried Maria Alexandrovna, in 
unnatural tones ; "do you hear, sir, how these people are 
shaming and insulting me ? Have you quite exempted your- 



128 uncle's dream 

self from all the responsibilities of a man? Or are you 
actually a — a wooden block, instead of the father of a family ? 
What do you stand blinking there for ? eh ! Any other hus- 
band would have wiped out such an insult to his family with 
the blood of the offender long ago." 

" Wife 1 " began Afanassy, solemnly, delighted, and proud 
to find that a need for him had sprung up for once in 
his life. " Wife, are you quite certain, now, that you did 
not dream all this ? You might so easily have fallen asleep 
and dreamed it, and then muddled it all up with what really 
happened, you know, and so — — " 

But Afanassy Matveyevitch was never destined to complete 
his ingenious, but unlucky guess. 

Up to this moment the guests had all restrained them- 
selves, and had managed, cleverly enough, to keep up an 
appearance of solid and judicial interest in the proceedings. 
But at the first sound, almost, of Afanass/s voice, a burst of 
uncontrollable laughter rose like a tempest from all parts 
of the room. 

Maria Alexandrovna, forgetting all the laws of propriety 
in her fury, tried to rush at her unlucky consort ; but she was 
held back by force, or, doubtless, she would have scratched 
out that gentleman's eyes. 

Natalia Dimitrievna took advantage of the occasion 
to add a little, if only a little, drop more of poison to the 
bitter cup. 

" But, dear Maria Alexandrovna," she said, in the sweetest^ 
honied tones, "perhaps it may be that it really was so, as your 
husband suggests, and that you are actually under a strange 
delusion ? " 

" How ! What was a delusion ? " cried Maria Alexan- 
drovna, not quite catching the remark. 

" Why, my dear Maria, I was saying, mightn't it have been 
so, dear, after all ? These sort of Xhrngs do happen some- 
times, you know 1 " 

" What sort of things do happen, eh? What are you 
trying to do with me ? What am I to make of you ? " 

"Why, perhaps, dear, you really did dream it all ! " 

" What ? dream it I / dreamed it ? And you dare sug. 
gest such a thing to me — straight to my face ? " 



uncle's dream. 129 

" Oh, why not ? Perhaps it really was the case," observed 
Felisata Michaelovna. 

" Ye — ^yes, quite so, very likely it act — ^ually was the case," 
muttered the old prince. 

" He, too — gracious Heaven ! " cried poor Maria Alex- 
androvna, wringing her hands. 

"Dear me, how you do worry yourself, Maria Alex- 
androvna. You should remember that dreams are sent us 
by a :gopd Providence. If Providence $0 wills it, there is no 
more to be said. Providence gives the word, and we can 
neither weep nor be angry at its dictum." 

** Quite so, quite so. We can't be a — angry about it," 
observed the prince. 

'* Look here ; do you take me for a lunatic, or not ? " said 
Maria Alexandrovna. She spoke with difficulty, so dread- 
fully was she panting with fury. It was more than flesh and 
blood could stand. She hurriedly grasped a chair, and fell 
fJEiinting into it There was a scene of great excitement 

" She has fainted in obedience to the laws of propriety ! " 
observed Natalia Dimitrievna to Mrs. Antipova. But at 
this moment — at this moment when the general bewilder- 
ment and confusion had reached its height, and when the 
scene was strained to the last possible point of excitement, 
another actor suddenly stepped to the front ; one who had 
been silent hitherto, but who immediately threw quite a- 
diflerent complexion on the scene. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

ZenaidA, or Zina Afanassievna, was an individual of an 
extremely romantic turn of mind. 

I don't know whether it really was that she had read too 
much of "that fool Shakespeare," with her ** little tutor 
fellow," as Maria Alexandrovna insisted; but, at all 
events she was very romantic. However, never, in all her 
experience of Mordasoff life, had Zina before made such an 
ultra-romantic, or perhaps I might call it heroic^ display as 
On the occasion of the sally which I am now about to 
describe. 

Pale, and with resolution in her eyes, yet almost trem- 
bling with agitation, and wonderfully beautiful in her anger 
and scorn, she stepped to the front. 

Gazing around at all, defiantly, she approached her 
mother in the midst of the sudden silence which had fallen 
on all present- Her mother roused herself from her swoon 
at the first indication of a projected movement on Zina's 
part, and she now opened her eyes. 

" Mamma ! " cried Zina, " why should we deceive any- 
one ? Why befoul ourselves with more lies ? Everything 
is so foul already that surely it is not worth while to bemean 
ourselves any further by attempting to gloss over the filth ! " 

" Zina, Zina 1 what are you thinking of? Do recollect your- 
self!" cried Maria Alexandrovna, frightened out of her 
wits, and jumping briskly up from her chair. 

" I told you, mamma — I told you before, that I should 

not be able to last out the length of this shameful and 

ignominious business I " continued Zina. " Surely we need 

no further bemean and befoul ourselves ! I will take it all 

130 



uncle's dream. 131 

on myself, mamma. I am the basest of all, for lending 
myself, of my own free will, to this abominable intrigue ! 
You are my mother ; you love me, I know, and you wished 
to arrange matters for my happiness, as you thought best, 
and according to your lights. Your conduct, thereforci 
is pardonable ; but mine ! oh, no ! never, never ! " 

" Zina, Zina I surely you are not going to t^Il the whole 
story ? Oh 1 woe, woe 1 I felt that the knife would pierce 
my heart ! " 

"Yes, mamma, I shall tell all ; I am disgraced, you — we 
all of us are disgraced " 

"Zina, you are exaggerating I you are beside yourself ; 
and you don't know what you are saying. And why say 
anything about it ? The ignominy and disgrace is not on our 
side, dear child ; I will show in a moment that it is not on 
our side 1 " 

" No, mamma, no ! ** cried Zina, with a quiver of rage in 
her voice, " I do not wish to remain silent any longer before 
these — persons, whose opinion I despise, and who have 
come here for the purpose of laughing at us. I do 
not wish to stand insult from any one of them ; none of 
them have any right to throw dirt at me ; every single one 
of them would be ready at any moment to do things thirty 
times as bad as anything either I or you have done or 
would do I Dare they, can they constitute themselves our 
judges ? " 

"Listen to that I*' 

" There's a pretty little speech for you ! *' 

*' Why, that's us she's abusing " 
. " A nice sort of creature she is herself I " 

These and other suchlike exclamations greeted the 
conclusion of Zina's speech. 

. " Oh, she simply doesn't know what she's talking about ! '* 
observed Natalia Dimitrievna." 

We will make a digression, and remark that Natalia 
Dimitrievna was quite right there 1 

, For if Zina did not consider these women competent to 
judge herself, why should she trouble herself to make those 
exposures and admissions which she proposed to reveal in 
their presence? Zina was in much too great a hurry. (She 



132 uncle's dream, 

always was, — so the best heads in Mordasoff had agreed !) 
All might have been set right ; all might have been satis- 
factorily arranged ! Maria Alexandrovna was a great deal 
to blame this night, too ! She had been too much **in a 
hurry," like her daughter, — ^and too arrogant 1 She should 
have simply raised the laugh at the old prince's expense, and 
turned him out of the house ! But Zina, in despite of all 
common sense (as indicated above), and of the sage opinions 
of all Mordasoff, addressed herself to the prince : 

"Prince," she said to the old man, who actually roSe 
from his arm-chair to show his respect for the speaker, so 
much was he struck by her at this moment ! — " Prince 
forgive us ; we have deceived you ; we entrapped you " 

" Will you be quiet, you wretched girl ? " cried Maria 
Alexadrovna, wild with rage. 

" My dear young lady — my dear child, my darling child!" 
murmured the admiring prince. 

But the proud haughty character of Zina had led her on 
to cross the barrier of all propriety ; — she even forgot her 
own mother who lay fainting at her feet — a victim to the 
self-exposure her daughter indulged in. 

" Yes, prince, we both cheated you. Mamma was in fault 
in that she determined that I must marry you ; and I in 
that I consented thereto. We filled you with wine ; I sang 
to you and postured and posed for your admiration. We 
tricked you, a weak defenceless old man, we tricked you (as 
Mr. Mosgliakoff would express it!) for the sake of your 
wealth, and your rank. All this was shockingly mean, and 
I freely admit the fact But I swear to you, Prince, that I 
consented to all this baseness from motives which were not 
base. I wished, — ^but what a wretch I am ! it is doubly 
mean to justify one's conduct in such a case as this ! But I 
will tell you. Prince, that if I had accepted anything from 
you, I should have made it up to you for it, by being your 
plaything, your servant, your — ^your ballet dancer, your slave 
— ^anything you wished. I had sworn to this, and I should 
Jxave kept my oath." 

A severe spasm at the throat stopped her for a moment ; 
while all the guests sat and listened like so many blocks of 
wood| their eyes and mouths wide ooen. 



uncle's ^ream, 133 

This unexpected, and to them perfectly unintelligible sally 
on Zina's part had utterly confounded them. The old 
prince alone was touched to tears, though he did not under- 
stand half, that Zina said. 

** But I will marry you, my beau — t — iful child, I a//7/ marry 
you, if you like " — he murmured, " and est — eem it a great 
honour, too ! But I as — sure you it was all a dream, — 
what does it mat — ter what I dream ? Why should you take 
it so to heart ? I don*t seem to under — stand it all ; please 
explain, my dear friend, what it all means ! *' he added, to 
Paul. 

" As for you, Pavel Alexandrovitch," Zina recommenced, 
also turning to Mosgliakoff, " you whom I had made up my 
mind, at one time, to look upon as my future husband ; 
you who have now so cruelly revenged yourself upon me ; 
must you needs have allied yourself to these people here, 
whose object at all times is to humiliate and shame me ? 
And you said that you loved me 1 However, it is not for 
me to preach moralities to you, for I am worse than all ! I 
wronged you, distinctly, in holding out false hopes and half 
promises. I never loved you, and if I had agreed to be 
your wife, it would have been solely with the view of getting 
away from here, out of this accursed town, and free of all 
this meanness and baseness. However, I swear to you that 
had I married you, I should have been a good and faithful 
wife ! You have taken a cruel vengeance upon me, and if 

that flatters your pride, then ** 

" " Zina ! " cried Mosgliakoff. 

" If you still hate me " 

"Zina!!" 

" If you ever did love me " 

*' Zenaida Afanassievna ! " 

"Zina, Zina — my child!*' cried Maria Alexandrovna. 

"I am a blackguard, Zina — a. blackguard, and nothing 
else ! " cried Mosgliakoff ; while all the assembled ladies 
gave way to violent agitation. Cries of amazement and 
of wrath broke upon the silence ; but Mosgliakoff himself 
stood speechless and miserable, without a thought and 
without a word to plead for him ! 

" I am an ass, Zina," he cried at last, in an outburst of 

K 



134 uncle's dream. 

wild despair, — " an ass ! oh far, far worse than an ass. But 
I will prove to you, Zina, that even an ass can behave like 
a generous human being ! Uncle, I cheated you ! I, I 
— it was I who cheated you : you were not asleep, — you were 
wide awake when you made this lady an offer of marriage 1 
Ana I — scoundrel that I was — out of revenge because I was 
rejected by her myself, persuaded you that you had dreamed 
it all!" 

**Dear me, what wonderful and interesting revelations 
we are being treated to now ! " whispered Natalia to Mrs. 
Antipova. 

" My dear friend," replied the prince, " com — pose your- 
self, do ! I assure you — you quite start — led me with that 
sudden ex — clamation of yours I Besides, you are labouring 
under a delusion ; — I will man* — y the lady, of course, if 
ne — cessary. But you told me, yourself, it was all a 
dre — eam 1 " 

*' Oh, how am I to tell you ? Do show me, somebody, how 
to explain to him ! Uncle, uncle ! this is an important 
matter — a most important family affair ! Think of that, uncle 

— just try to realise that " 

" Wait a bit, my boy — wait a bit : let me think ! First 

there was my coachman, Theophile *' 

" Oh, never mind Theophile now, for goodness sake ! " 
" Of course we need not waste time over The — ophile. 
Well — then came Na — poleon ; and then we seemed to 
be sitting at tea, and some la — dy came and ate up all our 
su — gar ! " 

• **But, uncle!" cried Mosgliakoff, at his wits' end, "it 
was Maria Alexandrovna herself told us that anecdote about 
Natalia Dimitrievna ! I was here myself and heard it ! — I 
was a blackguard, and listened at the keyhole ! " 

** How, Maria Alexandrovna ! " cried Natalia, " youVe 
told the prince too, have you, that I stole sugar out of your 
basin ? So I come to you to steal your sugar, do I, eh ! 
do I?'' 

" Get away from me ! " cried Maria Alexandrovna, with 
the abandonment of utter despair. 

" Oh, dear no ! I shall do nothing of the sort, Maria Alex- 
androvna ! I steal your sugar, do I ? I tell you you shall 



uncle's dream. 135 

not talk of me like that, madam — you dare not ! I have 
long suspected you of spreading this sort of rubbish abroad 
about me ! Sophia Petrovna came and told me all about 
it. So I stole your sugar, did I, eh ? " 

" But, my dear la — ^dies 1 " said the prince, '^ it was only 

part of a dream ! What do my dreams matter ? " 

"Great tub of a woman!" muttered Maria Alexan- 
drovna through her teeth. 

^ What ! what ! I'm a tub, too, am I ?" shrieked Natalia 
Dimitrievna. " And what are you yourself, pray ? Oh, I 
have long known that you call me a tub, madam. Never 
mind ! — at all events my husband is a man, madam, and riot 
a fool, like yours ! " 

" Ye — ^yes — quite so ! I remember there was some- 
thing about a tub, too ! " murmured the old man, with a 
vague recollection of his late conversation with Maria 
Alexandrovna. 

" What — you, too ? you join in abusing a respectable 
woman of noble extraction, do you ? How dare you call 
me names, prince — you wretched old one-legged misery! 
I'm a tub am I, you one-legged old abomination?" 
" Wha— at, madam, I one-legged ? " 
« Yes — one-legged and toothless, sir ; that's what you are ! " 
" Yes, and one-eyed too ! " shouted Maria Alexandrovna* 
" And what's more, you wear stays instead of having your 
own ribs ! " added Natalia Dimitrievna. 
" His face is all on wire springs ! " 
" He hasn't a hair of his own to swear by !" 
"Even the old fool's moustache is stuck on!" put in 
Maria Alexandrovna. 

"Well, Ma— arie Alexandrovna, give me the credit of 
having a nose of my ve— ry own, at all events ! " said the 
prince, overwhelmed with confusion under these unexpected 
disclosures. " My friend, it must have been you betrayed 
me ! you must have told them that my hair is stuck on ? " 

" Uncle, what an idea, I ! " 

" My dear boy, I can't stay here any Ion — ger, take me 
away somewhere — ^uei/^ sodetS ! Where have you brought 
me to, eh ? — Gracious Hea — eaven, what dreadful soc — 
iety ! " 

K— 2 



136 ''uncle's dream. 

" Idiot I scoundrel ! " shrieked Maria Alexandrovna. 

" Goodness ! " said the unfortunate old prince. " I 
can't quite remember just now what I came here for at all — 
I suppose I shall reme — mber directly. Take me away, 
quick, my boy, or I shall be torn to pieces here ! Besides, 
I have an i — dea that I want to make a note of '' 

" Come along, uncle — it isn't very late ; I'll take you over 
to an hotel at ohce, and I'll move over my own things too." 

" Ye— yes, of course, a ho — tel ! Good-bye, my charming 
child ; you alone, you — are the only vir — tuous one of them 
allj you are a no — oble child. Good-bye, my charming 
girl ! Come along, my friend ; — oh, good gra — cious, what 
people ! " 

I will not attempt to describe the end of this disagreeable 
scene, after the prince's departure. 

The guests separated in a hurricane of scolding and 
abuse and mutual vituperation, and Maria Alexandrovna was 
at last left alone amid the ruins and relics of her departed 
glory. 

Alas, alas ! Power, glory, weight — all had disappeared 
in this one unfortunate evening. Maria Alexandrovna 
quite realised that there was no chance of her ever again 
mounting to the height from which she had now fallen. 
Her long preeminence and despotism over society in general 
had collapsed. 

What remained to her ? Philosophy ? She was wild with 
the madness of despair all night ! Zina was dishonoured — 
scandals would circulate, never-ceasing scandals ; and — oh ! 
it was dreadful ! 

As a faithful historian, I must record that poor Afanassy 
was the scapegoat this night ; he " caught it " so terribly 
that he eventually disappeared ; he had hidden himself in 
the garret, and was there starved to death almost, with cold, 
all night. 

The morning came at last ; but it brought nothing good 
with it I Misfortunes never come singly. 



CHAPTER XV. 

If fate makes up its mind to visit anyone with misfortune, 
there is no end to its malice 1 This fact has often been 
remarked by thinkers ; and, as if the ignominy of last 
night were not enough, the same maUcious destiny had pre- 
pared for this family more, yea, and worse — evils to come ! 

By ten o'clock in the morning a strange and almost 
incredible rumour was in full swing all over the town : it 
was received by society, of course, with full measure of spite- 
ful joy, just as we all love to receive delightfully scandalous 
stories of anyone about us. 

"To lose one's sense of shame to such an extent ! *' 
people said one to another. 

" To humiliate oneself so, and to neglect the first rules 
of propriety ! To loose the bands of decency altogether like 
this, really 1 " etc., etc. 

But here is what had happened. 

Early in the morning, something after six o'clock, a poor 
piteous-looking old woman came hurriedly to the door of 
Maria Alexandrovna's house, and begged the maid to wake 
Miss Zina up as quickly, as possible, — only Miss Zina, and 
very quietly, so that her mother should not hear of it, if 
possible. 

Zina, pale and miserable, ran out to the old woman 
immediately. 

The latter fell at Zina's feet and kissed them and begged 
her with tears to come with her at once to see poor Vaisia, 
her son, who had been so bad, so bad all night that she did 
not think he could live another day. 

The old woman told Zina that Vaisia had sent to beg 

137 



138 uncle's dream. 

her to come and bid him farewell in this his death hour : he 
conjured her to come by all the blessed angels, and by all 
their past — otherwise he must die in despair. 

Zina at once decided to go, in spite of the fact that, by so 
doing, she would be justifying all the scandal and slanders 
disseminated about her in former days, as to the intercepted 
letter, her visits to him, and so on. Without a word to her 
mother, then, she donned her cloak and started off with the 
old woman, passing through the whole length of the town, 
into one of the poorest slums of Mordasof — and stopped 
at a little low wretched house, with small miserable windows, 
and snow piled round the basement for warmth. 

In this house, in a tiny room, more than half of which 
was occupied by an enormous stove, on a wretched bed, and 
covered with a miserably thin quilt, lay a young man, pale 
and haggard : his eyes were ablaze with the fire of fever, his 
hands were dry and thin, and he was breathing with diffi- 
culty and very hoarsely. He looked as though he might 
have been handsome once, but disease had put its finger on 
his features and made them dreadful to look upon and sad 
withal, as are so many dying consumptive patients' faces. 

His old mother who had fed herself for a year past with 
the conviction that her son would recover, now saw at last 
that Vaisia was not to live. She stood over him, bowed 
down with her grief— tearless, and looked and looked, and 
could not look enough ; and felt, but could not realize, that 
this dear son of hers must in a few days be buried in the 
miserable Mordasof churchyard, far down beneath the 
snow and frozen earth 1 

But Vaisia was not looking at her at this moment ! His 
poor suffering face was at rest now, and happy ; for he saw 
before him the dear image which he had thought of, dreamed 
of, and loved through all the long sad nights of his illness, 
for the last year and a half I He realised that she forgave 
him, and had come, like an angel of God, to tell him of her 
forgiveness, here, on his deathbed. 

She pressed his hands, wept over him, stood and smiled 
over him, looked at him once more with those wonderful 
eyes of hers, and all the past, the undying ever-present past 
rose up before the mind's eye of the dying man. The spark 



UNCLES DREA^ 139 

of life flashed up again in his soul, as though to show, now 
that it was about to die out for ever on this earth, how hard, 
how hard it was to see so sweet a Hght fade away. 

** Zina, Zina ! " he said, " my Zina, do not weep ; don't 
grieve, Zina, don't remind me that I must die ! Let me gaze 
at you, so — so, — ^and feel that our two souls have come to- 
gether once more — that you have forgiven me 1 Let me kiss 
your dear hands again, as I used, and so let me die without 
noticing the approach of death. 

" How thin you have grown, Zina ! and how sweetly you are 
looking at me now, my Zina ! Do you remember how you 
used to laugh, in bygone days ? Oh, Zina, my angel, I shall 
not ask you to forgive me, — I will not remember anything 
about — that, you know what ! for if you do forgive me, I 
can never forgive myself ! 

" All the long, long nights, Zma, I have lain here and 
thought, and thought ; and I have long since decided that I 
had better die, Zina ; for I am not fit to live ! " 

Zina wept, and silently pressed his hands, as though she 
would stop him talking so. 

" Why do you cry so ? '' continued the sick man. " Is 
it because I am dying ? but all the past is long since dead 
and buried, Zina, my angel ! You are wiser than I am, 
you know I am a bad, wicked man ; surely you can- 
not love me still ? Do you know what it has cost me to 
realise that I am a bad man ? I, who have always prided 
myself before the world— and what on ? Purity of heart, 
generosity of aim ! Yes, Zina, so I did, while we read 
Shakespeare ; and in theory I was pure and generous. Yet, 
how did I prove these quahties in practice ? '' 

" Oh, don't 1 don't ! " sobbed Zina, " you are not fair to 
yourself: don't talk like this, please don't ! " 

" Don't stop me, Zina ! You forgave me, my angel ; I 
know you forgave me long ago, but you must have judged 
me, and you know what sort of man I really am ; and that 
is what tortures me so ! I am unworthy of your love, Zina ! 
And you were good and true, not only in theory, but in 
practice too ! You told your mother you would marry me, 
and no one else, and you would have kept your word I Do 
you know, Zina,! never realized before what you would sacri- 



I40 uncle's dream. 

fice in marrying me ! I could not even see that you might 
die of hunger if you did so ! All I thought of was that you 
would be the bride of a great poet (in the future), and I 
could not understand your reasons for wishing to delay our 
union ! So I reproached you and bullied you, and despised 
you and suspected you, and at last I committed the crime 
of showing your letter ! I was not even a scoundrel at that 
moment 1 I was simply a worm-man. Ah I how you must 
have despised me ! No, it is well that I am dying ; it is well 
that you did not marry me ! I should not have understood 
your sacrifice, and I should have worried you, and perhaps, 
in time, have learned to hate you, and . . . but now it is 
good, it is best so ! my bitter tears can at least cleanse my 
heart before I die. Ah ! Zina ! Zina ! love me, love me as 
you did before for a little, little while I just for the last 
hour of my life. I know I am not worthy of it, but — oh, my 
angel, my Zina ! " 

Throughout this speech Zina, sobbing herself, had several 
times tried to stop the speaker ; but he would not listen. 
He felt that he must unburden his soul by speaking out, 
and continued to talk — though with difficulty, panting, and 
with choking and husky utterance. 

" Oh, if only you had never seen me and never loved 
me," said Zina, " you would have lived on now ! Ah, why 
did we ever meet ? " 

" No, no, darling, don't blame yourself because I am 
dying ! think of all my self-love, my romanticism ! I am to 
blame for all, myself ! Did they ever tell you my story in 
full ? Do you remember, three years ago, there was a 
criminal here sentenced to death ? This man heard that a 
criminal was never executed whilst ill ! so he got hold of 
some wine, mixed tobacco in it, and drank it. The effect 
was to make him so dreadfully sick, with blood-spitting, 
that his lungs became affected ; he was taken to a hospital, 
and a few weeks after he died of virulent consumption ! 
Well, on that day, you know, after the letter, it struck me 
that I would do the same ; and why do you think I chose 
consumption ? Because I was afraid of any more sudden 
death ? Perhaps. But, oh, Zina ! believe me, a romantic 
nonsense played a great part in it ; at all events, I had an 



uncle's dream. 141 

idea that it would be striking and grand for me to be lying 
here, dying of consumption, and you standing and wring- 
ing your hands for woe that love should have brought me 
to this ! You should come, I thought, and beg my pardon on 
your knees, and I should forgive you and die in your arms!" 

"Oh, don't! don't! "said Zina, "don't talk of it now, 
dear ! you are not really like that. Think of our happy 
days together, think of something else — not that, not that ! " 

" Oh, but it's so bitter to me, darling ; and that's why I 
must speak of it. I havn't seen you for a year and a half, 
you know, and all that time I have been alone ; and I 
don't think there was one single minute of all that time when 
I have not thought of you, my angel, Zina ! And, oh I how I 
longed to do something to earn a better opinion from you ! 
Up to these very last days I have never believed that I 
should really die ; it has not killed me all at once, you 
know. I have long walked about with my lungs affected. 
For instance, I have longed to become a great poet sud- 
denly, to publish a poem such as has never appeared before 
on this earth ; I intended to pour my whole soul and being 
into it, so that wherever I was, or wherever you were, I 
should always be with you and remind you of myself in my 
poems ! And my greatest longing of all was that you should 
think it all over and say to yourself at last some day, ' No, 
he is not such a wretch as I thought, after all ! ' It was 
stupid of me, Zina, stupid — stupid — wasn't it, darling ? " 

" No, no, Vaisia — no ! " cried Zina. She fell on his 
breast and kissed his poor hot, dry hands. 

" And, oh ! how jealous I have been of you all this time, 
Zina I I think I should have died if I had heard of your 
wedding. I kept a watch over you, you know ; I had a spy 
— there ! " (he nodded towards his mother). " She used to 
go over and bring me news. You never loved Mosgliakoff — 
now did you, Zina ? Oh, my darling, my darling, will you 
remember me when I am dead ? Oh, I know you will ; 
but years go by, Zina, and hearts grow cold, and yours will 
cool too, and you'll forget me, Zina ! " 

** No, no, never I I shall never marry. You are my 
first love, and my only — only — undying love ! " 

" But all things die, Zina, even our memories, and our 



142 uncle's DR£AM. 

good and noble feelings die also, and in their place comes 
reason. No, no, Zina, be happy, and live long. Love 
another if you can, you cannot love a poor dead man for 
ever! But think of me now and then, if only seldom; 
don't think of my faults : forgive them ! For oh, Zina, there 
was good in that sweet love of ours as well as evil. Oh, 
golden, golden days never to be recalled ! Listen, darling, 
I have always loved the sunset hour — remember me at that 
time, will you ? Oh no, no ! why must I die ? oh how I 
should love to live on now. Thmk of that time — oh, just 
think of it ! it was all spring then, the sun shone so bright, 
the flowers were so sweet, ah me ! and look, now — look ! " 

And the poor thin finger pointed to the fiozen window- 
pane. Then he seized Zina's hand and pressed it tight over 
his eyes, and sighed bitterly — bitterly ! His sobs nearly 
burst his poor suffering breast. . . . And so he con- 
tinued suffering and talking all the long day. Zina com- 
lorted and soothed him as she best could, but she too was 
full of deadly grief and pain. She told him — she promised 
him — never to forget ; that she would never love again as 
she loved him ; and he believed her and wept, and smiled 
again, and kissed her hands. And so the day passed. 

Meanwhile, Maria Alexandrovna had sent some ten times 
for Zina, begging her not to ruin her reputation irretrievably. 
At last, at dusk, she determined to go herself; she was out 
of her wits with terror and grief. 

Having called Zina out into the next room, she proceeded 
to beg and pray her, on her knees, " to spare this last 
dagger at her heart ! " 

Zina had come out from the sick-room ill : her head was 
on fire, — she heard, but could not comprehend, what her 
mother said ; and Marie Alexandrovna was obliged to leave 
the house agam in despair, for Zina had determined to sit 
up all night with Vaisia. 

She never left his bedside, but the poor fellow grew worse 
and worse. Another day came, but there was no hope that 
the sick man would see its close. His old mother walked 
about as though she had lost all control of her actions ; grief 
had turned her head for the time; she gave her son 
medicines, but he would none of them ! His death agony 



UNCLES DREAM. 1 43 

dragged on and on I He could not speak now, and only 
hoarse inarticulate sounds proceeded from his throat. To 
the very last instant he stared and stared at Zina, and never 
took his eyes off her ; and when their light failed them he 
still groped with uncertain fingers for her hand, to press 
and fondle it in his own ! 

Meanwhile the short winter day was waning 1 And 
when at even the last sunbeam gilded the frozen window 
pane of the little room, the soul of the sufferer fled in 
pursuit of it out of the emaciated body that had kept it 
prisoner. 

The old mother, seeing that there was pothing left her 
now but the lifeless body of her beloved Vaisia, wrung her 
hands, and with a loud cry flung herself on his dead 
breast. 

" This is your doing, you viper, you cursed snake," she 
yelled to Zina, in her despair ; " it was you ruined and 
killed him, you wicked, wretched girl." But Zina heard 
nothing. She stood over the dead body like one bereft of 
her senses. 

At last she bent over him, made the sign of the Cross, 
kissed him, and mechanically left the room. Her eyes 
were ablaze, her head whirled. Two nights without sleep, 
combined with her turbulent feelings, were almost too much 
for her reason ; she had a sort of confused consciousness 
that ^11 her past had just been torn out of her heart, and 
that a new life was beginning for her, dark and threaten- 
ing. 

But she had not gone ten paces when Mosgliakoff 
suddenly seemed to start up from the earth at her feet. 

He must have been waiting for her here. 

" Zenaida Afanassievna,'* he began, peering all around 
him in what looked like timid haste ; it was still pretty light. 
" Zenaida Afanassievna, of course I am an ass, or, if you 
please, perhaps not quite an ass, for I really think I am 
acting rather generously this time. Excuse my blundering, 
but I am rather confused, from a variety of causes." 

Zina glanced at him almost unconsciously, and silently 
went on her way. There was not much room for two on the 
nanow pavement, and as Zina did not make way for Paul, 



144 UNCLE*S DREAM. 

the latter was obliged to walk on the road at the side, which 
he did, never taking his eyes off her face. 

"Zenaida Afanassievna," he continued, "I have 
thought it all over, and if you are agreeable I am willing to 
renew my proposal of marriage. I am even ready to forget 
all that has happened ; all the ignominy of the last two days, 
and to forgive it — but on one condition : that while we are 
still here our engagement is to remain a strict secret. You 
will depart from this place as soon as ever you can, and I 
shall quietly follow you. We will be married secretly, 
somewhere, so that nobody shall know anything about it ; 
and then well be off to St. Petersburg by express post — 
don't take more than a small bag — eh ? What say you, 
Zenaida Afanassievna ; tell me quick, please, I can't stay 
here. We might be seen together, you know." 

Zina did not answer a word ; she only looked at Mosglia- 
koff ; but it was such a look that he understood all instantly, 
bowed, and disappeared down the next lane. 

"Dear me,'* he said to himself, "what's the meaning of 
this ? The day before yesterday she became so jolly humble, 
and blamed herself all round. I've come on the wrong day, 
evidently ! " . 

Meanwhile event followed event in Mordasof. 

A very tragical circumstance occurred. 

The old prince, who moved over to the hotel with 
Mosgliakof, fell very ill that same night, dangerously ill. 
All Mordasof knew of it in the morning ; the doctor never 
left his side. That evening a consultation of all the local 
medical talent was held over the old man (the invitations 
to which were issued in Latin) ; but in spite of the Latin 
and all they could do for him, the poor prince was quite off 
his head ; he raved and asked his doctor to sing him some 
ballad or other ; raved about wigs, and occasionally cried 
out as though frightened. 

The Mordasof doctors decided that the hospitality of 
the town had given the prince inflammation of the stomach, 
which had somehow ** gone to the head." 

There might be some subordinate moral causes to 
account for the attack ; but at all events he ought to have 
died long ago -, and so he would certainly die now. 



uncle's dream. 145 

In this last conclusion they were not far wrong ; for the 
poor old prince breathed his last three days after, at the 
hotel. 

This event impressed the Mordasof folk considerably. 
No one had expected such a tragical turn of affairs. They 
went in troops to the hotel to view the poor old body, and 
there they wagged their heads wisely and ended by passing 
severe judgment upon "the murderers of the unfortunate 
Prince,*' — meaning thereby, of course, Maria Alexandrovna 
and her daughter. They predicted that this matter would 
go further. Mosgliakoff was in a dreadful state of pertur- 
bation : he did not know what to do with the body. Should 
he take it back to Donchanof ! or what ? Perhaps he would 
be held responsible for the old man's death, as he had 
brought him here ? He did not like the look of things. The 
Mordasof people were less than useless for advice, they 
were all far too frightened to hazard a word. 

But suddenly the scene changed. 

One fine evening a visitor arrived — no less a person 
than the eminent Prince Shepetiloif, a young man of thirty- 
five, with colonel's epaulettes, a relative of the dead man. 
His arrival created a great stir among all classes at Mordasof. 

It appeared that this gentleman had lately left St. 
Petersburg, and had called in at Donchanof. Finding no 
one there, he had followed the prince to Mordasof, where 
the news and circumstances of the old man's death fell 
upon him like a thunder-clap ! 

Even the governor felt a little guilty while detailing the 
story of the prince's death : all Mordasof felt and looked 
guilty. 

This visitor took the matter entirely into his own hands, 
and Mosgliakoff made himself scarce before the presence of 
the prince's real nephew, and disappeared, no one knew 
whither. 

The body was taken to the monastery, and all the 
Mordasof ladies flocked thither to the funeral. It was 
rumoured, that Maria Alexandrovna was to be present, and 
that she was to go on her knees before the coflftn, and 
loudly pray for pardon ; and that all this was in conformity 
with the laws of the country. 



146 uncle's dream. 

Of course this was all nonsense, and Maria Alexandrovna 
never went near the place ! 

I forgot to state that the latter had carried off Zina to the 
country house, not deeming it possible to continue to live 
m the town. There she sat, and trembled over all the 
second-hand news she could get hold of as to events 
occurring at Mordasof. 

The funeral procession passed within half a mile of her 
country house ; so that Maria Alexandrovna could get a good 
view of the long train of carriages looking black against 
the white snow roads ; but she could not bear the sight, 
and left the window. 

Before the week was out, she and her daughter moved to 
Moscow, taking Afanassy Matveyevitch with them ; and, 
within a month, the country house and town house were 
both for sale. 

And so Mordasof lost its most eminent inhabitant for ever ! 

Afanassy Matveyevitch was said to be for sale with the 
country house. 

A year — two years went by, and Mordasof had quite for- 
gotten Maria Alexandrovna, or nearly so ! Alas I so wags 
the world 1 It was said that she had bought another estate, 
and had moved over to some other provincial capital ; where, 
of course, she had everybody under her thumb ; that Zina 
was not yet married; and that Afanassy Matveyevitch — 
but why repeat all this nonsense ? None of it was true ; it 

was but rumour ! 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ « 

It is three years since I wrote the last words of the above 
chronicles of Mordasof, and whoever would have believed 
that I should have to unfold my MS., and add another 
piece of news to my narrative? 

Well, to business ! — 

Let's begin with Paul Mosgliakoff. — After leaving 
Mordasof, he went straight to St. Petersburg, where he very 
soon obtained the clerkship he had applied for. He then 
promptly forgot all about Mordasof, and the events enacted 
there. He enjoyed life, went into society, fell in love, 
made another offer of marriage, and had to swallow 
another snub ; became disgusted with Petersburg life, and 



uncle's dream. 147 

joined an expedition to one of the remote quarters of our 
vast empire. 

This expedition passed through its perils of land and 
water, and arrived in due course at the capital of the remote 
province which was its destination. 

There the members were well received by the governor, 
and a ball was arranged for their entertainment. 

Mosgliakoff was delighted. He donned his best Peters- 
burg uniform, and proceeded to the large ball-room with 
the full intention of producing a great and startling effect. 
His first duty was to make his bow to the governor-generaPs 
lady, of whom it was rumoured that she was young, and very 
lovely. 

He advanced then, with some little " swagger," but was 
suddenly rooted to the spot with amazement. Before him 
stood Zina, beautifully dressed, proud and haughty, and 
sparkling with diamonds ! She did not recognize him ; her 
eyes rested a moment on his face, and then passed on to 
glance at some other person. 

Paul immediately departed to a safe and quiet corner, 
and there button-holed a young civilian whom he ques- 
tioned, and from whom he learned certain most interesting 
facts. He learned that the governor-general had married 
a very rich and very lovely lady in Moscow, two years 
since ; that his wife was certainly very beautiful, but, at the 
same time, excessively proud and haughty, and danced 
with none but generals. That the governor's lady had a 
mother, a lady of rank and fashion, who had followed them 
from Moscow ; that this lady was very clever and wise, but 
that even she was quite under the thumb of her daughter ; 
as for the general, (the governor), he doted on his wife. 

Mosgliakoff inquired after our old friend Afanassy ; but 
in their " remote province " nothing was known of that 
gentleman. 

Feeling a little more at home presently, Paul began to 
walk about the room, and shortly espied Maria Alexan- 
drovna herself. She was wonderfully dressed, and was sur- 
rounded by a bevy of ladies who evidently dwelt in the 
glory of her patronage : she appeared to be exceedingly 
amiable to them — wonderfully so ! 



148 uncle's dream. 

Paul plucked up courage and introduced himself. Maria 
Alexandrovna seemed to give a shudder at first sight of 
him, but in an instant she was herself again. She was kind 
enough to recognise Paul, and to ask him all sorts of ques- 
tions as to his Petersburg experiences, and so on. She 
never said a word about MordasofJ however. She behaved 
as though no such place existed. 

After a minute or so, and having dropped a question as 
to some Petersburg prince whom Paul had never so much 
as heard of, she turned to speak to. another young gentle- 
man standing by, and in a second or two was entirely 
oblivious of Mosgliakoff. With a sarcastic smile our friend 
passed on into the large hall. Feeling offended — though 
he knew not why — he decided not to dance. So he leant 
his back against one of the pillars, and for a couple of hours 
did nothing but follow Zina about with his eyes. But alas ! 
all the grace of his figure and attitude, and all the fascina- 
tions of his general appearance were lost upon her, she 
never looked at him. 

At last, with legs stiff from standing, tired, hungry, and 
feeling miserable generally, he went home. Here he tossed 
about half the night thinking of the past, and next morning, 
having the chance of joining a branch party of his expedi- 
tion, he accepted the opportunity with delight, and left the 
town at once. 

The bells tinkled, the horses trotted gaily along, kicking 
up snowballs as they went. Paul Mosgliakoff fell to think- 
ing, then he fell to snoring, and so he continued until the 
third station from the start ; there he awoke fresh and jolly, 
and with the new scenery came newer, and healthier, and 
pleasanter thoughts. 



THE END OF ' UNCLE'S DREAM. *' 



THE 

PERMANENT HUSBAND 



CHAPTER I. 

Summer had come, and Velchaninoff, contrary to his ex- 
pectations, was still in St. Petersburg. His trip to the 
south of Russia had fallen through, and there seemed no 
end to the business which had detained him. 

This business— which was a lawsuit as to certain property 
— had taken a very disagreeable aspect. Three months ago 
the thing had appeared to be by no means complicated — in 
fact, there had seemed to be scarcely any question as to 
the rights and wrongs of the matter, but all seemed to change 
suddenly. 

" Everything else seems to have changed for the worse, 
too ! " said Velchaninoff to himself, over and over again. 

He was employing a clever lawyer — an eminent man, and 
an expensive one, too; but in his impatience and sus- 
picion he began to interfere in the matter himself. He read 
and wrote papers — ^all of which the lawyer put into his waste- 
paper basket — holus bolus ; called in continually at the 
courts and offices, made inquiries, and confused and worried 
everybody concerned in the matter ; so at least the lawyer 
declared, and begged him for mercy's sake to go away to 
the country somewhere. 

But he could not make up his mind to do so. He stayed 
in town and enjoyed the dust, and the hot nights, and 
149 L 



150 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

the closeness of the air of St. Petersburg, things which are 
enough to destroy anyone's nerves. His lodgings were 
somewhere near the Great Theatre ; he had lately taken 
them, and did not like them. Nothing went well with him ; 
his hypochondria increased with each day, and he had long 
been a victim to that disorder. 

Velchaninoff was a man who had seen a great deal of the 
world ; he was not quite young, thirty-eight years old — per- 
haps thirty-nine, or so ; and all this " old age," as he called 
it, had " fallen upon him quite unawares." However, as he 
himself well understood, he had aged more in the quality 
than in the number of the years of his life ; and if his in- 
firmities were really creeping upon him, they must have 
come from within and not from outside causes. He looked 
young enough still. He was a tall, stout man, with light- 
brown thick hair, without a suspicion of white about it, 
and a light beard that reached halfway down his chest. At 
first sight you might have supposed him to be of a lax, care- 
less disposition or character, but on studying him more 
closely you would have found that, on the contrary, the man 
was decidedly a stickler for the proprieties of this world, and 
withal brought up in the ways and graces of the very best 
society. His manners were very good — free but graceful — 
in spite of this lately-acquired habit of grumbling and re- 
viling things in general. He was still full of the most 
perfect, aristocratic self-confidence : probably he did not 
himself suspect to how great an extent this was so, though 
he was a most decidedly intelligent, I may say clever, even 
talented man. His open, healthy-looking face was dis- 
tinguished by an almost feminine refinement, which quality 
gained him much attention from the fair sex. He had 
large blue eyes — eyes which ten years ago had known well 
how to persuade and attract ; such clear, merry, careless 
eyes they had been, that they invariably brought over to his 
side any person he wished to gain. Now, when he was 
nearly forty years old, their ancient, kind, frank expression 
had died out of them, and a certain cynicism — a cunning — 
an irony very often, and yet another variety of expression, 
of late — an expression of melancholy or pain, undefined but 
keen, had taken the place of the earlier attractive qualities 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 151 

of his eyes. This expression of melancholy especially 
showed itself when he was alone ; and it was a strange fact 
that the gay, careless, happy fellow of a couple of years ago, 
the man who could tell a funny story so inimitably, should 
now love nothing so well as to be all alone. He intended 
to throw up most of his friends — a quite unnecessary step, 
in spite of his present financial difficulties. Probably his 
vanity was to blame for this intention : he could not bear 
to see his old friends in his present position; with his 
vain suspicious character it would be most unpalatable to 
him. 

But his vanity began to change its nature in solitude. It 
did not grow less, on the contrary ; but it seemed to de- 
velop into a special type of vanity which was unlike its old 
self. This new vanity suffered from entirely different 
causes, ^^ higher causes, if I may so express it," he said, 
** and if there really be higher and lower motives in this 
world.'' 

He defined these " higher things " as matters which he 
could not laugh at, or turn to ridicule when happening in 
his own individual experience. Of course it would be quite 
another thing with the same subjects in society ; by himself 
he could not ridicule then ; but put him among other people, 
and he would be the first to tear himself from all of those 
secret resolutions of his conscience made in solitude, and 
laugh them to scorn. 

Very often, on rising from his bed in the morning, he 
would feel ashamed of the thoughts and feelings which had 
animated him during the long sleepless night — and his 
nights of late had been sleepless. He seemed suspicious of 
everything and everybody, great and small, and grew mis- 
trustful of himself. 

One fact stood out clearly, and that was that during 
those sleepless nights his thoughts and opinions took 
huge leaps and bounds, sometimes changing entirely from 
the thoughts and opinions of the daytime. This fact 
struck him very forcibly ; and he took occasion to consult 
an eminent medical friend. He spoke in fun, but the 
doctor informed him that the fact of feelings and opinions 
changing during meditations at night, and during sleepless- 

L— 2 



t$2 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

ness, was one long recognised by science ; and that that was 
especially the case with persons of strong thinking power, 
and of acute feelings. He stated further that very often 
the beliefs of a whole life are uprooted under the melan- 
choly influence of night and inability to sleep, and that 
often the most fateful resolutions are made under the same 
influence; that sometimes this impressionability to the 
mystic influence of the dark hours amounted to a malady, 
in which case measures must be taken, the radical manner 
of Hving should be changed, diet considered, a journey 
undertaken if possible, etc., etc. 

Velchaninoff listened no further, but he was sure that in 
his own case there was decided malady. 

Very soon his morning meditations began to partake of 
the nature of those of the night, but they were more bitter. 
Certain events of his life now began to recur to his memory 
more and more vividly ; they would strike him suddenly, 
and without apparent reason : things which had been for- 
gotten for ten or fifteen years — some so long ago that he 
thought it miraculous that he should have been able to re- 
call them at all. But that was not all — for, after all, what 
man who has seen any life has not hundreds of such recol- 
lections of the past ? The principal point was that all this 
past came back to him now with an absolutely new light 
thrown upon it, and he seemed to look at it from an entirely 
new and unexpected point of view. Why did some of his 
acts appear to him now to be nothing better than crimes ? 
It was not merely in the judgment of his intellect that 
these things appeared so to him now — had it been only his 
poor sick mind, he would not have trusted it; but his 
whole being seemed to condemn him ; he would curse and 
even weep over these recollections of the past ! If anyone 
had told him a couple of years since that he would weep 
over anything, he would have laughed the idea to scorn. 

At first he recalled the unpleasant experiences of his life : 
certain failures in society, humiliations ; he remembered how 
some designing person had so successfully blackened his 
character that he was requested to cease his visits to a certain 
house ; how once, and not so very long ago, he had been 
publicly insulted, and had not challenged the offender ] 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 1 53 

how once an epigram had been fastened to his name by 
some witty person, in the midst of a party of pretty women 
and he had not found a reply ; he remembered several un, 
paid debts, and how he had most stupidly run through tw. 
very respectable fortunes. 

Then he began to recall facts belonging to a " higher " 
order. He remembered that he had once insulted a poor 
old grey-headed clerk, and that the latter had covered his 
face with his hands and cried, which Velchaninoff had thought 
a great joke at the time, but now looked upon in quite another 
light. Then he thought how he had once, merely for fun, set 
a scandal going about the beautiful little wife of a certain 
schoolmaster, and how the husband had got to hear the 
rumour. He (Velchaninoff) had left the town shortly after 
and did not know how the matter had ended ; but now he 
fell to wondering and picturing to himself the possible con- 
sequences of his action ; and goodness knows where this 
theme would not have taken him to if he had not suddenly 
recalled another picture : that of a poor girl, whom he had 
been ashamed of and never thought of loving, but whom he 
had betrayed and forsaken, her and her child, when he left 
St. Petersburg. He had afterwards searched for this girl and 
her baby for a whole year, but never found them. 

Of this sort of recollections there were, alas ! but too many ; 
and each one seemed to bring along with it a train of others. 
His vanity began to suffer, litde by little, under these 
memories. I have said that his vanity had developed into a 
new type of vanity. There were moments (few albeit) in 
which he was not even ashamed of having no carriage of his 
own, now ; or of being seen by one of his former friends in 
shabby clothes ; or when, if seen and looked at by such a 
person contemptuously, he was high-minded enough to 
suppress even a frown. Of course such moments of self- 
oblivion were rare; but, as I said before, his vanity 
began little by little to change away from its former quarters 
and to centre upon one question which was perpetually 
ranging itself before his intellect. ** There is some power 
or other," he would muse, sarcastically, " somewhere, which 
is extremely interested in my morals, and sends me these 
damnable recollections and tears of remorse ! Let theipi 



154 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

come, by all means ; but they have not the slightest effect 
on me ! for I haven't a scrap of independence about me, in 
spite of my wretched forty years, I know that for certain. 
Why, if it were to happen so that I should gain anything by 
spreading another scandal about that schoolmaster's wife, 
(for instance, that she had accepted presents from me, or 
something of that sort), I should certainly spread it without 
a thought." 

But though no other opportunity ever did occur of 
maligning the schoolmistress, yet the very thought alone 
that ^such an opportunity were to occur he would inevit- 
ably seize it was almost fatal to him at times. He was not 
tortured with memory at every moment of his life ; he had 
intervals of time to breathe and rest in. But the longer he 
stayed, the more unpleasant did he find his Hfe in St. Peters- 
burg. July came in. At certain moments he felt inclined to 
throw up his lawsuit and all, and go down to the Crimea ; but 
after an hour or so he would despise his own idea, and 
laugh at himself for entertaining it. 

" These thoughts won't be driven away by a mere journey 
down south," he said to himself, "when they have once 
begun to annoy me ; besides, if I am easy in my conscience 
now, I surely need not try to run away from any such 
worrying recollections of past days ! " ** Why should I go 
after all ?" he resumed, in a strain of melancholy philosophiz- 
ing ; " this place is a very heaven for a hypochondriac like 
myself, what with the dust and the heat, and the discomfor- 
of this house, what with the nonsensical swagger and pre- 
tence of all these wretched little * civil servants ' in the 
departments I frequent ! Everyone is delightfully candid — 
and candour is undoubtedly worthy of all respect ! I wotit 
go away — I'll stay and die here rather than go ! " 



CHAPTER 11. 



It was the third of July. The heat and closeness of the air 
had become quite unbearable. The day had been a busy 
one for Velchaninoff— he had been walking and driving 
about without rest, and had still in prospect a visit in the 
evening to a certain state councillor who hved somewhere 
on the Chornaya Ri^chka (black stream), and whom he was 
anxious to drop in upon unexpectedly. 

At sixjD'clock our hero issued from his house once more, 
and trudged off to dine at a restaurant on the Nefsky, near 
the police-bridge — a second-rate sort of place, but French. 
Here he took his usual corner, and ordered his usual 
dinner, and waited. 

He always had a rouble * dinner, and paid for his wine 
extra, which moderation he looked upon as a discreet 
sacrifice to the temporary financial embarrassment under 
which he was suffering. 

He regularly went through the ceremony of wondering 
how he could bring himself to eat " such nastiness," and yet 
as regularly he demolished every morsel, and with excellent 
show of appetite too, just as though he had eaten nothing 
for three days. 

" This appetite can't be healthy !" he murmured to himself 
sometimes, observing his own voracity. However, on this 
particular occasion, he sat down to his dinner in a miserably 

* The present value of a rouble is about two shillings. 
155 



156 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

bad humour : he threw his hat angrily away somewhere, 
tipped his chair back,— and reflected. 

He was in the sort of humour that if his next neighbour — 
dining at the little table near him — were to rattle his plate, 
or if the boy serving him were to make any little blunder, 
or, in fact, if any Utile petty annoyance were to put him out 
of a sudden, he was quite capable of shouting at the 
offender, and, in fact, of kicking up a serious row on the 
smallest pretext 

Soup was served to him. He took up his spoon, and 
was about to commence operations, when he suddenly 
threw it down again, and started from his sea;t. An un- 
expected thought had struck him, and in an instant he had 
realized why he had been plunged in gloom and mental 
perturbation during the last few days. Goodness knows 
why he thus suddenly became inspired, as it were, with the 
truth ; but so it was. He jumped from his chair, and in an 
instant it all stood out before him as plain as his five fingers ! 
" It's all that hat ! " he muttered to himself j " it/s all simply 
and solely that damnable round hat, with the crape band 
round it ; that's the reason and cause of all my worries 
these last days !" 

He began to think ; and the more he thought, the more 
dejected he became, and the more astonishing appeared the 
" remarkable circumstance of the hat." 

" But, hang it all, there is no circumstance ! " he growled 
to himself. " What circumstance do I mean ? There's been 
nothing in the nature of an event or occurrence 1" 

The fact of the matter was this : Nearly a fortnight since, 
he had met for the first time, somewhere about the corner 
of the Podiacheskaya, a gentleman with crape round his hat. 
There was nothing particular about the man— he was just 
like all others ; but as he passed Velchaninoff he had stared 
at him so fixedly that it was impossible to avoid noticing 
him, and more than noticing — observing him attentively. 

The man's face seemed to be familiar to Velchaninoff. 
He had evidently seen him somewhere and at some time or 
other. 

" But one sees thousands of people during one's life," 
thought Velchaninoff; '*one tan't remember every face!" 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 1 57 

So he had gone on his way, and before he was twenty yards 
further, to all appearances he had forgotten all about the 
meeting, in spite of the strength of the first impression made 
upon him. 

And yet he had fwt forgotten ; for the impression 
remained all day, and a very original impression it was, too, 
— a kind of objectless feeling of anger against he knew not 
what. He remembered his exact feelings at this moment, 
a fortnight after the occurrence : how he had been puzzled 
by the angry nature of his sentiments at the time, and 
puzzled to such an extent that he had never for a moment 
connected his ill-humour with the meeting of the morning, 
though he had felt as cross as possible all day. But the 
gentleman with the crape band had not lost much time 
about reminding Velchaninoff of his existence, for the very 
next day he met the latter again, on the Nefsky Prospect 
and again he had stared in a peculiarly fixed way at him. 

Velchaninoff flared up and spat on the ground in irritation 
— Russian like, but a moment after he was wondering at his 
own wrath. " There are faces, undoubtedly," he reflected, 
" which fill one with disgust at first sight ; but I certainly 
have met that fellow somewhere or other. 

" Yes, I have met him before ! '' he muttered again, half 
an hour later. 

And again, as on the last occasion, he was in a vile 
humour all that evening, and even went so far as to have a 
bad dream in the night ; and yet it never entered his head 
to imagine that the cause of his bad temper on both occa 
sions had been the accidental meeting with the gentleman 
in mourning, although on the second evening he had 
remembered and thought of the chance encounter two or 
three times. 

He had even flared up angrily to think that " such a dirty - 
looking cad " should presume to linger in his memory so 
long ; he would have felt it humiliating to himself to imagine 
for a moment that such a wretched creature could possibly 
be in any way connected with the agitated condition of his 
feelings. 

Two days later the pair had met once more at the landing 
place of one of the small Neva ferry steamers. 



158 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

On the third occasion Velchaninoflf was ready to swear 
that the man recognised him, and had pressed through the 
crowd towards him ; had even dared to stretch out his hand 
and call him by name. As to this last fact he was not quite 
certain, however. " At all events, who the deuce is he ? " 
thought Velchaninoff, **and why can't the idiot come up 
and speak to me if he really does recognise me ; and if he 
so much wishes to do so ? " With these thoughts Velchan- 
inoff had taken a droshky and started off for the Smolney 
Monastery, where his lawyer Hved. 

Half an hour later he was engaged in his usual quarrel 
with that gentleman. 

But that same evening he was in a worse humour than 
ever, and his night was spent in fantastic dreams and 
imaginings, which were anything but pleasant. " I suppose 
it's bile ! " he concluded, as he paid his matutinal visit to 
the looking-glass. 

This was the third meeting. 

Then, for five days there was not a sign of the man ; and 
yet, much to his distaste, Velchaninoff could not, for the life 
of him, avoid thinking of the man with the crape band. 

He caught himself musing over the fellow. " What have ■ 
I to do with him ?'' he thought. " What can his business 
in St. Petersburg be ? — he looks busy : and whom is he in 
mourning for ? He clearly recognises me, but I don't know 
in the least who he is 1 And why do such people as he is 
put crape on their hats? it doesn't seem *the thing' for 
them, somehow ! I believe I shall recognise this fellow if 
I ever get a good close look at him ! " 

And there came over him that Sensation we all know so 
well — the same feeling that one has when one can't for the 
life of one think of the required word ; every other word 
comes up ; associations with the right word come up ; occa- 
sions when one has used the word come up ; one wanders 
round and round the immediate vicinity of the word wanted, 
but the actual word itself will not appear, though you may 
break your head to get at it J 

" Let's see, now : it was — yes — some while since. It was 
— where on earth was it ? There was a — oh 1 devil take 
whatever there was or wasn't there I What does it matter 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 1 59 

to me ? *' he broke off angrily of a sudden. " I'm not going 
to lower myself by thinking of a little cad like that ! " 

He felt very angry ; but when, in the evening, he remem- 
bered that he had been so upset, and recollected the cause 
of his anger, he felt the disagreeable sensation of having 
been caught by someone doing something wrong. 

This fact puzzled and annoyed him. 

" There must be some reason for my getting so angry at 
the mere recollection of that man's face," he thought, but he 
didn't finish thinking it out. 

But the next evening he was still more indignant ; and 
this time, he really thought, with good cause. " Such auda- 
city is unparalleled ! " he said to himself. 

The fact of the matter is, there had been a fourth meeting 
with the man of the crape hat band. The latter had 
apparently arisen from the earth and confronted him. But 
let me explain what had happened. 

It so chanced that Velchaninoff had just met, accidentally, 
that very state-councillor mentioned a few pages back, whom 
he had been so anxious to see, and on whom he had in- 
tended to pounce unexpectedly at his country house. This 
gentleman evidently avoided Velchaninoff, but at the same 
time was most necessary to the latter in his lawsuit. Con- 
sequently, when Velchaninoff met hiin,the one was delighted, 
while the other was very much the reverse. Velchaninof had 
immediately buttonholed him, and walked down the street 
with him, talking ; doing his very utmost to keep the sly old 
fox to the subject on which it was so necessary that he 
should be pumped. And it was just at this most impor- 
tant moment, when Velchaninoffs intellect was all on the ^ui 
Vive to catch up the slightest hints of what he wished to get 
at, while the foxy old councillor (aware of the fact) was 
doing his best to reveal nothing, that the former, taking his 
eyes from his companion's face for one instant, beheld the 
gentleman of the crape hatband walking along the other 
side of the road, and looking at him — nay, watching him, 
evidently — and apparently smihng 1 

" Devil take him I " said Velchaninoff, bursting out into 
fury at once, while the ** old fox " instantly disappeared, 
" and I should have succeeded in another minute. Curse 



l6o THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

that dirty little hound ! he's simply spying me. Ill — 1*11 hire 
somebody to — I'll take my oath he laughed at me ! D — n 
him, I'll thrash him. I wish I had a stick with me. I'll — 
I'll buy one ! I won*t leave this matter so. Who the deuce 
is he 1 I will know ! Who is he ? " 

At iJist, three days after this fourth encounter, we find 
Velchaninoff sitting down to dinner at his restaurant, as re- 
corded a page or two back, in a state of mind bordering 
upon the furious. He could not conceal the state of his 
feelings from himself, in spite of all his pride. He was 
obliged to confess at last, that all his anxiety, his irritation, 
his state of agitation generally, must undoubtedly be con- 
nected with, and absolutely attributed to, the appearance of 
the wretched-looking creature with the crape hatband, in 
spite of his insignificance. 

" 1 may be a hypochondriac," he reflected, " and I may 
be inclined to make an elephant out of a gnat ; but how 
does it help me ? What use is it to me if I persuade 
myself to believe that perhaps all this is fancy ? Why, if every 
dirty little wretch like that is to have the power of upsetting 
a man like myself, why — it's— it's simply unbearable ! " 

Undoubtedly, at this last (fifth) encounter of to-day, the 
elephant had proved himself a very small gnat indeed. 
The " crape man " had appeared suddenly, as usual, and had 
passed by Velchaninoff, but without looking up at him this 
' time ; indeed, he had gone by with downcast eyes, and had 
even seemed anxious to pass unobserved. Velchaninoff had 
turned rapidly round and shouted as loud as ever he could 
at him. 

" Hey 1 " he cried. " You J Crape hat-band ! You want 
to escape notice this time, do you ? Who are you ? " 

Both the question and the whole idea of calling after the 
man were absurdly foolish, and Velchaninoff knew it the 
moment he had said the words. The man had turned 
round, stopped for an instant, lost his head, smiled — half 
made up his mind to say something, — had waited half a 
minute in painful indecision, then twisted suddenly round 
again, and " bolted " without a word. Velchaninoff gazed 
alter him in amazement. " What if it be /that haunt him^ 
and not he me, after all?" he thought. However, 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. l6l 

Velchaninoffate up his dinner, and then drove off to pounce 
upon the town councillor at the latter's house, if he could. 

The councillor was not in ; and he was informed that he 
would scarcely be at home before three or four in the 
morning, because he had gone to a '* name's-day party." 

Velchaninoff felt that this was too bad ! In his rage he 
determined to follow and hunt the fellow up at the party : he 
actually took a droshky, and started off with that wild idea ; 
but luckily he thought better of it on the way, got out of 
the vehicle and walked away towards the ** Great Theatre," 
near which he lived. He felt that he must have motion ; 
also he must absolutely sleep well this coming night : in 
crder to sleep he must be tired ; so he walked ail the way 
home — a fairly long walk, and arrived there about half-past 
ten, as tired as he could wish. 

His lodging, which he had taken last March, and had 
abused ever since, apologising to himself for living **in such 
a hole," and at the same time excusing himself for the 
fact by the reflection that it was only for a while, and that 
he had dropped quite accidentally into St. Petersburg — thanks 
to that cursed lawsuit ! — his lodging, I say, was by no means 
so bad as he made it out to be ! 

The entrance certainly v/sls a little dark, and dirty-looking, 
being just urKier the arch of the gateway. But he had two 
fine large light rooms on the second floor, separated by the 
entrance hall : one of these rooms overlooked the yard and 
the other the street. Leading out of the former of these 
was a smaller room, meant to be used as a bedroom ; but 
Velchaninoff had filled it with a disordered array of books 
and papers, and preferred to sleep in one of the large rooms, 
the one overlooking the street, to wit 

His bed was made for him, every day, upon the large 
divan. The rooms were full of good furniture, and some 
valuable ornaments and pictures were scattered about, but 
the whole place was in dreadful disorder ; the fact being 
that at this time Velchaninoff was without a regular servant. 
His one domestic had gone away to stay with her friends 
in the country ; he thought of taking a man, but decided 
that it was not worih while for a short time ; besides he - 
hated flunkeys, and ended by making arrangements with 



l62 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

his dvomik's sister Martha, who was to come up every 
morning and " do out " his rooms, he leaving the key wiih 
her as he went out each day. Martha did absolutely nothing 
towards tidying the place and robbed him besides, but he 
didn't care^'he liked to be alone in the house. But solitude 
is all very well within certain hmits, and VelchaninofF found 
that his nerves could not stand all this sort of thing at 
certain bilious moments ; and it so fell out that he began 
to loathe his room more and more every time he entered it. 

However, on this particular evening he hardly gave him- 
self time to undress; he threw himself on his bed, and 
determined that nothing should make him think of anyMng, 
and that he would fall asleep at once 

And, strangely enough, his head had hardly touched the 
pillow before he actually was asleep ; and this was the first 
time for a month past that such a thing had occurred. 

He awoke at about two, considerably agitated ; he had 
dreamed certain very strange dreams, reminding him of the 
incoherent wanderings of fever. 

The subject seemed to be some erime which he had com- 
mitted and concealed, but. of which he was accused by a 
continuous flow of people who swarmed into his rooms for 
the purpose. The crowd which had already collected within 
was enormous, and yet they continued to pour in in such 
numbers that the door was never shut for an instant. 

But his whole interest seemed to centre in one strange 
looking indfvidual, — a man who seemed to have once been 
very closely and intimately connected with him, but who had 
died long ago and now reappeared for some reason or other. 

The most tormenting part of the matter was that 
Velchaninoff could not recollect who this man was, — he 
could not remember his name, — though he recollected 
the fact that he had once dearly loved him. All the rest of 
the people swarming into the room seemed to be waiting 
for the final word of this man, — either the condemnation or 
the justification of VelchaninofF was to be pronounced by 
him, — ^and everyone was impatiently waiting to hear him 
speak. 

But he sat motionless at the table, and would not open 
his lips to say a word of any sort 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 163 

The uproar continued, the general annoyance increased, 
and, suddenly, Velchaninoff himself strode up to the man in 
a fury, and smote him because he would not speak. 
Velchaninoff felt the strangest satisfaction in having thus 
smitten him ; his heart seemed to freeze in horror for what 
he had done, and in acute suffering for the crime involved 
in his action, — but in that very sensation of freezing at the 
heart lay the sense of satisfaction which he felt. 

Exasperated more and more, he struck the man a second 
and a third time ; and then — in a sort of intoxication of fury 
and terror, which amounted to actual insanity, and yet bore 
within it a germ of delightful satisfaction, he ceased to 
count his blows, and rained them in without ceasing. 

He felt he must destroy, annihilate, demolish all this. 

Suddenly something strange happened ; everyone present 
had given a dreadful cry and turned expectantly towards 
the door, while at the same moment there came three 
terrific peals of the hall-bell, so violent that it appeared 
someone was anxious to pull the bell-handle out. 

Velchaninofi awoke, started up in a second, and made for 
the door ; he was persuaded that the ring at the bell had 
been no dream or illusion, but that someone had actually 
rung, and was at that moment standing at the front 
door. 

** It would be too unnatural if such a clear and unmistake- 
able ring should turn out to be nothing but an item of a 
dream ! '' he thought. But, to his surprise, it proved that 
such was nevertheless the actual state of the case 1 He 
opened the door and went out on to the landing ; he looked 
downstairs and about him, but there was not a soul to be 
seen. The bell hung motionless. Surprised, but pleased, 
he returned into his room. He lit a candle, and suddenly 
remembered that he had left the door closed, but not locked 
and chained. He had often returned home before this 
evening and forgotten to lock the door behind him, \vithout 
attaching any special significance to the fact ; his maid had 
often respectfully protested against such neglect while with 
him. He now returned to the entrance hall to make the 
door last ; before doing so he opened it, however, and had 
one more look about the stairs. He then shut the door and 



164 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

fastened the chain and hook, but did not take the trouble 
to turn the key in the lock. 

Some clock struck half-past two at this moment, so that 
he had had three hours' sleep — more or less. 

His dream had agitated him to such an extent that he 
felt unwilling to lie down again at once ; he decided to walk 
up and down the room two or three times first, just long 
enough to smoke a cigar. Having half-dressed himself, he 
went to the window, drew the heavy curtains aside and 
pulled up one of the Winds, it was almost full daylight. 
These light summer nights of St. Petersburg always had a 
bad effect upon his nerves, and of late they had added to 
the causes of his sleeplessness, so that a few weeks since he 
had invested in these thick curtains, which completely shut 
out the light when drawn close. 

Having thus let in the sunshine, quite oblivious of the 
lighted candle on the table, he commenced to walk up and 
down the room. Still feeling the burden of his dream upon 
him, its impression was even now at work upon his mind, he 
still felt a painfully guilty sensation about him, caused by 
the fact that he had allowed himself to raise his hand against 
*' that man " and strike him. " But, my dear sir ! "he argued 
with himself, "it was not a man at all ! the whole thing was 
a dream ! what's the use of worrying yourself for nothing ? " 

Velchaninoff now became obstinately convinced that he 
was a sick man, and that to his sickly state of body was to be 
attributed all his perturbation of mind. He was an invalid. 

It had always been a weak point with Velchaninoff that he 
hated to think of himself as growing old or infirm ; and yet 
in his moments of anger he loved to exaggerate one or the 
other in order to worry himself. 

" It's old age," he now muttered to himself, as he paced 
up and down the room. " I'm becoming an old fogey — 
that's the fact of the matter 1 I'm losing my memory — see 
ghosts, and have dreams, and hear bells ring — curse it all I 
I know these dreams of old, they always herald fever with 
me. I dare swear that the whole business of this man with 
the crape hat-band has been a dream too I I was perfectly 
right- yesterday, he isn't haunting me the least bit in the 
world ; it is I that am haunting him ! I've invented a 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 165 

pretty little ghost-story about him and then climb under the 
table in terror at my own creation 1 Why do I call him a 
little cad, too ? he may be a most respectable individual for 
all I know! His face is a disagreeable one, certainly, 
though there is nothing hideous about it ! He dresses just 
like anyone else. I don't know — there's something about 
his look — ^There I go again ! What the devil have 
I got to do with his look? what a fool I am — ^just as 
though I could not live without the dirty little wretch — 
curse him !" 

Among other thoughts connected with this haunting crape- 
man was one which puzzled Velchaninoflf immensely ; he 
felt convinced that at some time or other he had known the 
man, and known him very intimately ; and that now the 
latter, when meeting him, always laughed at him because he 
was aware of some great secret of his former life, or because 
he was amused to see Velchaninoff s present humiliating con- 
dition of poverty. 

Mechanically our hero approached the window in order 
to get a breath of fresh air — when he was suddenly seized 
with a violent fit of shuddering ; — a feeling came over him 
that something unusual and unheard-of was happening 
before his very eyes. 

He had not had time to open the window when some- 
thing he saw caused him to slip behind the corner of the 
curtain, and hide himself. 

The man in the crape hatband was standing on the 
opposite side of the street. 

He was standing with his face turned directly towards 
Velchaninoffs window, but evidently unaware of the latter*s 
presence there, and was carefully examining the house, and 
apparently considering some question connected with it. 

He seemed to come to a decision after a moment's 
thought, and raised his finger to his forehead; then he 
looked quietly about him, and ran swiftly across the road 
on tiptoe. He reached the gate, and entered it ; this gate 
was often left open on summer nights until two or three in 
the morning. 

" He's coming to me," muttered Velchaninoff, anjd with 
equal caution he left the window, and ran to the front door ; 

M 



1 66 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND, 

arrived in the hall, he stood in breathless expectation before 
the door, and placed his trembling hand carefully upon the 
hook which he had fastened a few minutes since, and stood 
listening for the tread of the expected footfall on the stairs. 
His heart was beating so loud that he was afraid he might 
miss the sound of the cautious steps approaching. 

He could understand nothing of what was happening, but 
it seemed clear that his dream was about to be realised. 

Velchaninpfif was naturally brave. He loved risk for its 
own sake, and very often ran into useless dangers, with no 
one by to see, to please himself. But this was different, 
somehow; he was not himself, and yet he was as brave 
as ever, but with something added. He made out every 
movement of the stranger from behind his own door. 

"Ah! — there he comes!— he's on the steps now!— here 
he comes! — he's up now! — now he's looking down stairs 
and all about, and crouching down ! Aha ! there's his hand 
on the door-handle — he's trying it ! — he thought he would 
find it unlocked ! — then he must know that I do leave it 
unlocked sometimes I — He's trying it again ! — I suppose he 
thinks the hook may slip! — he doesn't care to go away 
without doing anything I " 

So ran Velchaninofi's thoughts, and so indeed followed the 
man's actions. There was no doubt about it, someone was 
certainly standing outside and trying the door-handle, care- 
fully and cautiously pulling at the door itself, and, in fact, 
endeavouring to effect an entrance ; equally sure was it that 
the person so doing must have his own object in trying to 
sneak into another man's house at dead of night. But 
Velchaninofi's plan of action was laid, and he awaited the 
proper moment; he was anxious to seize a good oppor- 
tunity — slip the hook and chain— open the door wide, 
suddenly, and stand face to face with this bugbear, and then 
ask him what the deuce he wanted there. 

No sooner devised than executed. 

Awaiting the proper moment, Velchaninoff suddenly 
slipped the hook, pushed the door wide, and almost 
tumbled over the man with the crape hatband I 



CHAPTER III. 

The crape-man stood rooted to the spot dumb with 
astonishment. 

Both men stood opposite one another on the landing, 
and both stared in each other's eyes, silent and motion- 
less. 

So passed a few moments, and suddenly, like a flash of 
lightning, Velchaninoff became aware of the identity of his 
guest. 

At the same moment the latter seemed to guess that 
Velchaninoff had recognised him. Velchaninoff could see it 
in his eyes. In one instant the visitor's whole face was all 
ablaze with its very sweetest of smiles. 

" Surely I have the pleasure of speaking to Aleksey 
Ivanovitch ? '' he asked, in the most dulcet of voices, 
comically inappropriate to the circumstances of the case. 

" Surely you are Pavel Pavlovitch Trusotsky ? " asked 
Velchaninoff, in return, after a pause, and with an expression 
of much perplexity. 

** I had the pleasure of your acquaintance ten years ago 

at T , and, if I may remind you of the fact, we were 

almost intimate friends." 

" Quite so — oh yes ! but it is now three o'clock in the 
morning, and you have been trying my lock for the last ten 
minutes." 

" Three o'clock ! " cried the visitor, looking at his watch 
with an air of melancholy surprise. 

167 M— 2 



1 68 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

" Why, SO it is 1 dear me — ^three o'clock ! forgive me, 
Aleksey Ivanovitch ! I ought to have found it out before 
thinking of paying you a visit. I will do myself the honour 
of calling to explain another day, and now I — ." 

" Oh no ; — no, no ! If you are to explain at all let's 
have it at once ; this moment ! '' interrupted VelchaninofT 
warmly. " Kindly step in here, into the room ! You must 
have meant to come in, you know ; you didn't come here 
at night, like this, simply for the pleasure of trying my lock ? " 

He felt excited, and at the same time was conscious of a 
sort of timidity ; he could not collect his thoughts. He 
was ashamed of himself for it. There was no danger, no 
mystery about the business, nothing but the silly figure of 
Pavel Pavlovitch. 

And yet he could not feel satisfied that there was nothing 
particular in it ; he felt afraid of something to come, he 
knew not what or when. 

However, he made the man enter, seated him in a chair, 
and himself sat down on the side of his bed, a yard or so 
off, and rested his elbows on his knees while he quietly 
waited for the other to begin. He felt irritated ; he stared 
at his visitor and let his thoughts run. Strangely enough, 
the other never opened his mouth ; he seemed to be entirely 
oblivious of the fact that it was his duty to speak. Nay, he 
was even looking enquiringly at Velchaninoif as though quite 
expecting that the latter would speak to Mm / 

Perhaps he felt a little uncomfortable at first, somewhat 
as a mouse must feel when he finds himself unexpectedly 
in the trap. 

Velchaninoff very soon lost his patience. 

" Well ? " he cried, ** you are not a fantasy or a dream 
or anything of that kind, are you ? You aren't a corpse, 
are you ? Come, my friend, this is not a game or play. I 
want your explanation, please ! " 

The visitor fidgeted about a little, smiled, and began to 
speak cautiously. 

" So far as I can see," he said, " the time of night of my 
visit is what surprises you, and that I should have come as 
I did ; in fact, when I remember the past, and our intimacy, 
and all that, I am astonished myself; but the fact is, I did 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 169 

not mean to come in at all, and if I did so it was purely an 
accident." 

" An accident ! Why, I saw you creeping across the road 
on tiptoes ! " 

" You saw me ? Indeed ! Come, then you know as 
much or more about the matter than I do ; but I see I am 
annoying you. This is how it was : IVe been in town three 
weeks or so on business. I am Pavel Pavlovitch Trusotsky, 
you recognized me yourself, my business in town is to effect an 
exchange of departments. I am trying for a situation in 
another place — one with a large increase of salary ; but all 
this is beside the point ; the fact of the matter is, I beheve 
I have been delaying my business on purpose. I believe if 
everything were settled at this moment I should still be 
dawdling in this St. Petersburg of yours in my present con- 
dition of mind. I go wandering about as though I had lost 
all interest in things, and were rather glad of the fact, in 
my present condition of mind." 

"What condition of mind ?" asked Velchaninoff, frowning. 

The visitor raised his eyes to Velchaninoffs, lifted his hat 
nrom the ground beside him, and with great dignity pointed 
out the black crape band. 

" There, sir, in that condition of mind ! " he observed. 

Velchaninoff stared stupidly at the crape, and thence at 
the man's face. Suddenly his face flushed up in a hot 
blush for a moment, and he was violently agitated. 

" Not Natalia Vasilievna, surely ? " 

" Yes, Natalia Vasilievna ! Last March 1 Consumption, 
sir, and almost suddenly — all over in two or three months — 
and here am I left as you see me ! " 

So saying, Pavel Pavlovitch, with much show of feeling, 
bent his bald head down and kept it bent for some ten 
seconds, while he held out his two hands, in one of which 
was the hat with the band, in explanatory emotion. 

This gesture, and the man's whole air, seemed to brighten 
Velchaninoff up ; he smiled sarcastically for one instant, not 
more at present, for the news of this lady's death (he had 
known her so long ago, and had forgotten her many a year 
since) had made a quite unexpected impression upon his 
mind. 



lyo THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

" Is it possible ! " he muttered, using the first words that 
came to his lips, " and pray why did you not come here 
and tell me at once ? '' 

" Thanks for your kind interest, I see and value it, in 

spite of " 

*• In spite of what ? '* 

" In spite of so many years of separation you at once 
sympathised with my sorrow — and in fact with myself, and 
so fully too — that I feel naturally grateful. That's all I had 
to tell you, sir ! Don't suppose I doubt my friends, you 
know ; why, even here, in this place, I could put my finger 
on several very sincere friends indeed (for instance, Stepan 
Michailovich Bagantoif) ; but remember, my dear Aleksey 
Ivanovitch — nine years have passed since we were acquaint- 
ances — or friends, if you'll allow me to say so — and mean- 
while you have never been to see us, never written." 

The guest sang all this out as though he were reading it 
from music, but kept his eyes fixed on the ground the 
while, although, of course, he saw what was going on above 
his eyelashes exceedingly well all the same. 

Velchaninoff had found his head by this time. 

With a strange sort of fascinated attention, which 
strengthened itself every moment, he continued to gaze at 
and listen to Pavel Pavlovitch, and of a sudden, when the 
latter stopped speaking, a flood of curious ideas swept un- 
expectedly through his brain. 

" But look here," he cried, *' how is it that I never re- 
cognized you all this while ? — we've met five times, at least, 
in the streets ! " 

" Quite^so — I am perfectly aware of the circumstance. You 
chanced to meet me two or three times, and 

** No, no ! you met me^ you know — not I you ! " Vel- 
chaninoff suddenly burst into a roar of laughter, and rose from 
his seat. Pavel Pavlovitch paused a moment, looked keenly 
at Velchaninoff, and then continued : 

" As to your not recognizing me, in the first place you 
might easily have forgotten me by now; and besides, I 
have had small-pox since last we met, and I daresay my 
face is a good deal marked.'* 

" Smallpox ? why, how did you manage that ? — he has 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 17X 

had itj though, by Jove ! '' cried Velchaninoff. " What a 
funny fellow you are — however, go on, don't stop." 

Velchaninoflf's spirits were rising higher and higher ; he 
was beginning to feel wonderfully light-hearted. That feeling 
of agitation which had lately so disturbed him had given 
place to quite a different sentiment. He now began to 
stride up and down the room, very quickly. 

" I was going to say,'' resumed Pavel Pavlovitch, " that 
though I have met you several times, and though I quite 
intended to come and look you up, when I was arranging 
my visit to Petersburg, still, I was in that condition of 
mind, you know, and my wits have so suffered since last 
March, that " 

" Wits since last March, — ^yes, go on: wait a minute — 
do you smoke ? " 

" Oh — you know, Natalia Vasilievna, never — " 

" Quite so ; but since March — eh ? " 

" Well — I might, a cigarette or so." 

" Here you are, then ! Light up and go on, — ^go on ! you 
interest me wonderfully." 

Velchaninoff lit a cigar and sat down on his bed again. 
Pavel Pavlovitch paused a moment. 

" But what a state of agitation you seem to be in your- 
self ! " said he, " are you quite well ? " 

"Oh, curse my health 1" cried Velchaninoff, — "you go 
on ! ". 

The visitor observed his host's agitation with satisfaction ; 
he went on with his share of the talking with more confi- 
dence. 

" What am I to go on about ? " he asked. " Imagine me, 
Alexey Ivanovitch — a broken man, — not simply broken, 
but gone at the root, as it vi^ere ; a man forced to change 
his whole manner of living, after twenty years of married 
life, wandering about the dusty roads without an object, — 
mind lost — almost oblivious of his own self, — and yet, as it 
were, taking some sort of intoxicated delight in his loneli- 
ness ! Isn't it natural that if I should, at such a moment of 
self-forgetfulness come across a friend — even a dear friend, 
I might prefer to avoid him for that moment ? and isn't it 
equally natural that at another moment I should long to 



172 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

see and speak with some one who has been an eye-witness 
of, or a partaker, so to speak, in my never-to-be-recalled 
past ? and to rush — not only in the day, but at night, if it 
so happens, — to rush to the embrace of such a man ? — yes, 
even if one has to wake him up at three in the morning 
to do it! I was wrong in my time, not in my esti- 
mate of my friend, though, for at this moment I feel the 
full rapture of success; my rash action has been successful: 
I have found sympathy 1 As for the time of night, I con- 
fess I thought it was not twelve yet ! You see, one sups of 
grief, and it intoxicates one, — at least, not grief, exactly, it's 
more the condition of mind — the new state of things that 
affects me." 

" Dear me, how oddly you express yourself ! " said 
Velchaninoff, rising from his seat once more, and becoming 
quite serious again. 

"Oddly, do I? Perhaps." 

" Look here : are you joking ? " 

" Joking ! *' cried Pavel Pavlovitch, in shocked surprise ; 
^^ joking — at the very moment when I am telling you of '* 

" Oh — be quiet about that ! for goodness sake." 

Velchaninoff started off on his journey up and down the 
room again. 

So matters stood tor five minutes or so: the visitor 
seemed inclined to rise from his chair, but Velchaninoff 
bade him sit still, and Pavel Pavlovitch obediently flopped 
into his seat again. 

" How changed you are ! " said the host at last, stopping 
in front of the other chair, as though suddenly struck 
with the idea; " fearfully changed ! " 

*' Wonderful ! you're quite another man ! " 

" Thaf s hardly surprising ! nine years, sir ! " 

** No, no, no ! years have nothing to do with it ! it's not 
in appearance you are so changed : it's something else I " 

** Well, sir, the nine years might account for anything." 

** Perhaps it's only since March, eh ? " 

"Ha-ha! you are playful, sir," said Pavel Pavlovitch, 
laughing slyly. " But, if I may ask it, wherein am I so 
changed ? " 

" Oh — why, you used to be such a staid, sober, correct 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 1 73 

Pavel Pavlovitch ; such a wise Pavel Pavlovitch ; and now 
you're a good-for-nothing sort of Pavel Pavlovitch." 

Velchaninoflf was in that state of irritation when the 
steadiest, gravest people will sometimes say rather more 
than they mean. 

" Good-for-nothing, am I ? and wise no longer, I sup- 
pose, eh?" chuckled Pavel Pavlovitch, with disagreeable 
satisfaction. 

** Wise, indeed ! My dear sir, I'm afraid you are not 
sober," replied VelchaninofF ; and added to himself, " I am 
pretty fairly insolent myself, but I can't compare with this 
little cad ! And what on earth is the fellow driving at ? " 

** Oh, my dear, good, my best of Alexey Ivanovitches," 
said the visitor suddenly, most excitedly, and twisting about 
on his chair, "and why should I be sober? We ^re not 
moving in the brilliant walks of society — you and I — ^just 
now. We are but two dear old friends come together in 
the full sincerity of perfect love, to recall and talk over that 
sweet mutual tie of which the dear departed formed so 
treasured a link in our friendship." 

So saying, the sensitive gentleman became so carried 
away by his feelings that he bent his head down once more, 
to hide his emotion, and buried his face in his hat. 

Velchaninoff looked on with an uncomfortable feeling of 
disgust. 

"I can't help thinking the man is simply silly," he 
thought ; " and yet — no, no — his face is so red he must be 
drunk. But drunk or not drunk, what does the little 
wretch want with me ? That's the puzzle." 

*' Do you remember — oh, don!t you remember — our de- 
lightful little evenings — dancing sometimes, or sometimes 
literary — at Simeon Simeonovitch's ? " continued the visitor, 
gradually removing his hat from before his face, and appa- 
rently growing more and more enthusiastic over the memories 
of the past, " and our little readings — you and she and myself 
— and our first meeting, when you came in to ask for 
information about something connected with your business 
in the town, and commenced shouting angrily at me ; don't 
you remember — when suddenly in came Natalia Vasilievna, 
and within ten minutes you were our dear friend, and so 



174 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

remained for exactly a year ? Just like Turgenief s story 
'TheProvincialka!'" 

VelchaninofF had continued his walk up and down] the 
room during this tirade^ with his eyes on the ground, listen- 
ing impatiently and with disgust — but listening hardy all 
the same. 

" It never struck me to think of * The Provincialka ' in 
connection with the matter," he interrupted. " And look 
here, why do you talk in that sneaking, whirling sort of 
voice ? You never used to do that. Your whole manner 
is unHke yourself." 

" Quite so, quite so. I used to be more silent, I know. 
I used to love to listen while others talked. You remember 
how well the dear departed talked — the wit and grace of 
her conversation. As to The Provincialka, I remember she 
and I used often to compare your friendship for us to 
certain episodes in that piece, and especially to the 
doings of one Stupendief. It really was remarkably like 
that character and his doings." 

" What Stupendief do you mean, confound it all ? " cried 
Velchaninoff, stamping his foot with rage. The name 
seemed to have evoked certain most irritating thoughts in 
his mind. 

"Why, Stupendief, don't you know, the * husband* in 
* Provincialka,' " whined Pavel Pavlovitch, in the very 
sweetest of tones ; but that belongs to another set of fond 
memories — after you departed, in fact, when Mr. Bagantofif 
had honoured us with his friendship, just as you had done 
before him, only that his lasted five whole years." 

"Bagantoff? What Bagantoff? Do you mean that 
same Bagantoff who was servmg down in your town ? Why, 
he also " 

" Yes, yes ! quite so. He also, he also ! " cried the en- 
thusiastic Pavel Pavlovitch, seizing upon Velchaninoffs 
accidental slip. " Of course ! So that there you are — 
there's the whole company. Bagantoff played the * count,' the 
dear departed was the * Provincialka,' and I was the * hus- 
band,' only that the part was taken away from me, for 
incapacity, I suppose ! " 

" Yes \ fancy you a Stupendief. You're a — ^you're first a 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 1 75 

Pavel Pavlovitch Trusotsky 1 " said Velchanioff, contemp- 
tuously, and very unceremoniously. " But look here ! 
Bagantoflf is in town j I know he is, for I have seen him. 
Why don't you go to see him as well as myself?" 

" My dear sir, I've been there every day for the last three 
weeks. He won't receive me ; he's ill, and can't receive 1 
And, do you know, I have found out that he really is very 
ill ! Fancy my feelings — a five-year's friend ! Oh, my dear 
Alexey Ivanovitch 1 you don't know what my feelings are in 
my present condition of mind. I assure you, at one moment 
I long for the earth to open and swallow me up, and the 
next I feel that I must find one of those old friends, eye- 
witnesses of the past, as it were, if only to weep on his 
bosom, only to weep, sir — give you my word." 

" Well, that's about enough for to-night ; don't you think 
so ? " said Velchaninoff, cuttingly. 

" Oh, too — too much ! " cried the other, rising. " It must 
be four o'clock ; and here am I agitating your feelings in the 
most selfish way." 

"Now, look here; I shall call upon you myself, and 

I hope that you will then but, tell me honestly, are you 

drunk to-night ? " 

" Drunk ! not the least in the world ! " 

" Did you drink nothing before you came here, or 
earlier ? " 

"Do you know, my dear Alexey Ivanovitch, you are 
quite in a high fever ! " 

" Good-night. I shall call to-morrow." 

" And I have noticed it all the evening, really quite deli-^ 
rious ! " continued Pavel Pavlovitch, licking his lips, as it 
were, with satisfaction as he pursued this theme. ** I am 
really quite ashamed that I should have allowed myself to 
be so awkward as to agitate you. Well, well ; I'm going 1 
Now you must lie down at once and go to sleep." 

" You haven't told me where you live," shouted Velcha- 
ninoff after him as he left the room. 

" Oh, didn't I ? Pokrofsky Hotel." 

Pavel Pavlovitch was out on the stairs now. 

"Stop! "cried Velchanioflf, once more. "You are not 
* running away,' are you ? " 



176 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

" How do you mean, * running away ? * " asked Pavel 
Pavlovitch, turning round r.t the third step, and grinning 
back at him, with his eyes staring very wide open. 

Instead of replying, Velchaninoff banged the door 
fiercely, locked and bolted it, and went fuming back into 
his room. Arrived there, he spat on the ground, as though 
to get rid of the taste of something loathsome. 

He then stood motionless for at least five minutes, in the 
•centre of the room ; after which he threw himself upon his 
bed, and fell asleep in an instant. 

The forgotten candle burned itself out in its socket. 



CHAPTER IV. 



Velchaninoff slept soundly until half-past nine, at which 
hour he started up, sat down on the side of his bed, and 
began to think. 

His thoughts quickly fixed themselves upon the death of 
" that woman/' 

The agitating impression wrought upon his mind by 
yesterday's news as to her death had left a painful feeling 
of mental perturbation. 

This morning the whole of the events of nine years back 
stood out before his mind's eye with extraordinary distinct- 
ness. 

He had loved this woman, Natalia Vasilievna — Trusotsky's 
wife, — he had loved her, and had acted the part of her 
lover during the time which he had spent in their provincial 
town (while engaged in business connected with a legacy) ; 
he had lived there a whole year, though his business did 
not require by any means so long a visit ; in fact, the tie 
above mentioned had detained him in the place. 

He had been so completely under the influence of this 
passion, that Natalia Vasilievna had held him in a species of 
slavery. He would have obeyed the slightest whim or the 
wildest caprice of the woman, at that time. He had never, 
before or since, experienced anything approaching to the 
infatuation she had caused. 

When the time came for departing, Velchaninoff had 
been in a state of such absolute depair, though the parting 
177 



178 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND, 

was to have been but a short one, that he had . begged 
Natalia Vasilievna to leave all and fly across the frontier with 
him; and it was only by laughing him out of the idea 
(though she had at first encouraged it herself, probably for a 
joke), and by unmercifully chaffing him, that the lady 
eventually persuaded Velchaninoff to depart alone. 

However, he had not been a couple of months in St. 
Petersburg before he found himself asking himself that 
question which he had never to this day been able to 
answer satisfactorily, namely, " Did he love this woman at 
all, or was it nothing but the infatuation of the moment ? " 
He did not ask this question because he was conscious 
of any new passion taking root in his heart ; on the con- 
trary, during those first two months in town he had been in 
that condition of mind that he had not so much as looked 
at a woman, though he had met hundreds, and had returned 
to his old society ways at once. And yet he knew perfectly 

well that if he were to return to T he would instantly 

fall into the meshes of his passion for Natalia Vasilievna once 
more, in spite of the question which he could not answer as 
to the reality of his love for her. 

Five years later he was as convinced of this fact as ever, 
although the very thought of it was detestable to him, and 
although he did not remember the name of Natalia Vasilievna 
but with loathing. 

He was ashamed of that episode at T . He could 

not understand how he (Velchaninoff) could ever have 
allowed himself to become the victim of such a stupid 
passion. He blushed whenever he thought of the shameful 
business — blushed, and even wept for shame. 

He managed to forget his remorse after a few more years 
— he felt sure that he had '* lived it down ; " and yet now, 
after nine years, here was the whole thing resuscitated by 
the news of Natalia's death. 

At all events, however, now, as he sat on his bed with 
agitating thoughts swarming through his brain, he could not 
but feel that the fact of her being dead was a consolation, 
amidst all the painful reflections which the mention of her 
name had called up. 

" Surely I am a little sorry for her ? " he asked himself. 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 1 79 

Well, he certainly did not feel that sensation of hatred for 
her now ; he could think of her and judge her now without 
passion of any kind, and therefore more justly. 

He had long since been of opinion that in all probability 
there had been nothing more in Natalia Vasilievna than is to 
be found in every lady of good provincial society, and that 
he himself had created the whole "fantasy" of his worship 
and her worshipfulness ; but though he had formed this 
opinion, he always doubted its correctness, and he still felt 
that doubt now. Facts existed to contradict the theory. 
For instance, this BagantofF had lived for several years at 

T , and had been no less a victim to passion for this 

woman, and had been as helpless as Velchaninoff himself 
under her witchery. BagantofF, though a young idiot (as 
Velchaninoff expressed it), was nevertheless a scion of the 
very highest society in St. Petersburg. His career was in 
St, Petersburg, and it was significant that such a man should 

have wasted fivQ important years of his life at T simply . 

out of love for this woman. It was said that he had only 
returned to Petersburg even then because the lady had had 
enough of him; so that, all things considered, there must 
have been something which rendered Natalia Vasilievna pre- 
eminently attractive among women. 

Yet the woman was not rich ; she was not even pretty 
(if not absolutely plaint) Velchaninoff had known her 
when she was twenty-eight years old. Her face was capable 
of taking a pleasing expression, but her eyes were not 
good — they were too hard. She was a thin, bony woman 
to look at. Her mind was intelligent, but narrow and one- 
sided. She had tact and taste, especially as to dress. Her 
character was firm and overbearing. She was never wrong 
(in her own opinion) or unjust. The unfaithfulness to- 
wards her husband never caused her the slightest remorse ; 
she hated corruption, and yet she was herself corrupt ; and 
she believed in herself absolutely. Nothing could ever have 
persuaded her that she herself was actually depraved; 
Velchaninoff believed that she really did not know that her 
own corruption was corrupt. He considered her to be 
" one of those women who only exist to be unfaithful wives." 
Such women never remain unmarried, — it is the law of their 



l8o THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

nature to marry, — their husband is their first lover, and he 
is always to blame for anything that may happen afterwards ; 
the unfaithful wife herself being invariably absolutely in the 
right, and of course perfectly innocent. 

So thought Velchaninoif ; and he was convinced that 
such a type of woman actually existed ; but he was no less 
convinced that there also existed a corresponding type of 
men, bom to be the husbands of such women. In his 
opinion the mission of such men was to be, so to speak, 
" permanent husbands," — that is, to be husbands all their 
lives, and nothing else. 

Velchaninoff had not the smallest doubt as to the 
existence of these two types, and Pavel Pavlovitch 
Trusotsky was, in his opinion, an excellent representative of 
the male type. Of course, the Pavel Pavlovitch of last 
night was by no means the same Pavel Pavlovitch as he had 

known at T . He had found an extraordinary change 

in the man ; and yet, on reflection, he was bound to admit 
that the change was but natural, for that he could only 
have remained what he was so long as his wife lived ; 
and that now he was but a part of a whole, allowed 
to wander at will — that is, an imperfect being, a surpris- 
ing, an incomprehensible sort of a things without proper 
balance. 

As for the Pavel Pavlovitch of T , this is what 

Velchaninoff remembered of him : 

Pavel Pavlovitch had been a husband, of course, — a 
formality, — and that was all. If, for instance, he was a 
clerk of department besides, he was so merely in his 
capacity of, and as a part of his responsibility as — a 
busband. He worked for his wife, and for her social posi- 
tion. He had been thirty-five years old at that time, and 
was possessed of some considerable property. He had not 
shown any special talent, nor, on the other hand, any 
marked incapacity in his professional employment; his 
position had been decidedly a good one. 

Natalia Vasilievna had been respected and looked up to 
by all ; not that she valued their respect in the least, — she 
considered it merely as her due. She was a good hostess, 
and had schooled Pavel Pavlovitch into polite manners, so 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. l8l 

that he was .able to receive and entertain the very best 
society passably well. 

He might be a clever man, for all VelchaninofF knew, 
but as Natalia Vasilievna did not like her husband to talk 
much, there was httle opportunity of judging. He 
may have had many good qualities, as well as bad ; but the 
good ones were, so to speak, kept put away in their cases, 
and the bad ones were stifled and not allowed to appear. 
Velchaninoff remembered, for instance, that Pavel 
Pavlovitch had once or twice shown a disposition to laugh 
at those about him, but this unworthy proclivity had been 
very promptly subdued. He had been fond of telling stories, 
but this was not allowed either ; or, if permitted at all, the 
anecdote was to be of the shortest and most uninteresting 
description. 

Pavel Pavlovitch had a circle of private friends outside 
the house, with whom he was fain, at times, to taste the 
flowing bowl ; but this vicious tendency was radically 
stamped out as soon as possible. 

And yet, with all this, Natalia Vasilievna appeared, to 
the uninitiated, to be the most obedient of wives, and 
doubtless considered herself so. Pavel Pavlovitch may 
have been desperately in love with her, — no one could say 
as to this. 

Velchaninoff had frequently asked himself during his life 

at T , whether Pavel Pavlovitch ever suspected his wife 

of having formed the tie with himself, of which mention has 
been made. Velchaninoff" had several times questioned 
Natalia Vasilievna on this point, seriously enough ; but had 
invariably been told, with some show of annoyance, that her 
husband neither did know, nor ever could know ; and that 
" all there might be to know was not his business 1 " 

Another trait in her character was that she never laughed 
at Pavel Pavlovitch, and never found him funn^ in any 
sense ; and that she would have been down on any person 
who dared to be rude to him, at once ! 

Pavel Pavlovitch's reference to the pleasant little read- 
ings enjoyed by the trio nine years ago was accurate ; they 
used to read Dickens' novels together. Velchaninoff" or 
Trusotsky reading aloud, while NataHa Vasilievna worked. 

N 



l82 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

The life at T had ended suddenly, and .so far as Vel- 

chaninoff was concerned, in a way which drove him almost to 
the verge of madness. The fact is, he was simply turned 
out — although it was all managed in such a way that he 
never observed that he was being thrown over like an old 
worn-out shoe. 

A young artillery officer had appeared in the town a month 
or so before VelchaninofFs departure and had made 
acquaintance with the Trusotsky's. The trio became a 
quartet. Before long VelchaninofF was informed that for 
many reasons a separation was absolutely necessary; 
Natalia Vasilievna adduced a hundred excellent reasons 
why this had become unavoidable — and especially one which 
quite settled the matter. After his stormy attempt to per- 
suade Natalia VasiHevna to fly with him to Paris — or any- 
where, — Velchaninoff had ended by going to St. Petersburg 
alone — for two or three months at the very most, as he said, 
— otherwise he would refuse to go at all, in spite of every 
reason and argument Natalia might adduce. 

Exactly two months later Velchaninoff had received a 
letter from Natalia Vasilievna, begging him to come no 

more to T ^ because that she already loved another. 

As to the principal reason which she had. brought forward 
in favour of his immediate departure, she now informed 
him that she had made a mistake. Velchaninoff re- 
membered the young artilleryman, and understood, — and so 
the matter had ended, once and for all. A year or two 

after this Bagantoff appeared at T , and an intimacy 

between Natalia Vasilievna and the former had sprung up 
which lasted for five years. This long period of con- 
stancy, Velchaninoff attributed to advancing age on the 
part of Natalia. He sat on the side of his bed for nearly 
an hour and thought. At last he roused himself, rang 
for Mavra and his coffee, drank it off quickly — dressed 
— ^and punctually at eleven was on his way to the Pokrofsky 
Hotel : he felt rather ashamed of his behaviour to Pavel 
Pavlovitch last night. Velchaninoff put down all that 
phantasmagoria of the trying of the lock and so on to 
Pavel Pavelovitch's drunken condition and to other reasons, 
— but he did not know why he was now on his way to make 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 183 

fresh relations with the husband of that woman, since their 
acquaintanceship and intercourse had come to so natural 
and simple a termination ; yet something seemed to draw 
him thither — some strong current of impulse, — and he 
went. 



N— 2 



CHAPTER V. 



Pavel Pavlovitch was not thinking of " running away," 
and goodness knows why Velchaninoff should have asked 
him • such a question last night — he did not know himself 
why he had said it ! 

He was directed to the Petrofsky Hotel, and found the 
building at once. At the hotel he was told that Pavel 
Pavlovitch had now engaged a furnished lodging in the 
back part of the same house. 

Mounting the dirty and narrow stairs indicated, as far as 
the third storey, he suddenly became aware of someone 
crying. It sounded like the weeping of a child of some 
seven or eight years of age ; it was a bitter, but a more or 
less suppressed sort of crying, and with it came the sound 
of a grown man's voice, apparently trying to quiet the child — 
anxious that its sobbing and crying should not be heard, — 
and yet only succeeding in making it cry the louder. 

The man's voice did not seem in any way s)aiipathetic 
with the child's grief ; and the latter appeared to be begging 
for forgiveness. 

Making his way into a narrow dark passage with two doors 
on each side of it, Velchaninoff met a stout-looking, elderly 
woman, in very careless morning attire, and inquired for 
Pavel Pavlovitch. 

She tapped the door with her fingers in response to his 
inquiry — the same door, apparently, whence issued the 
noises just mentioned. Her fat face seemed to flush with 
indignation as she did so. 
184 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 1 85 

" He appears to be amusing himself in there ! " she said, 
and proceeded downstairs. 

VelchaninofF was about to knock, but thought better of 
it and opened the door without ceremony. 

In the very middle of a room furnished with plain, but 
abundant furniture, stood Pavel Pavlovitch in his shirt- 
sleeves, very red in the face, trying to persuade a little girl 
to do something or other, and using cries and gestures, 
and what looked to Velchaninoif very like kicks, in order 
to effect his purpose. The child appeared to be some seven 
or eight years of age, and was poorly dressed in a short 
black stuff frock. She seemed to be in a most hysterical 
condition, crying and stretching out her arms to Pavel 
Pavlovitch, as though begging and entreating him to allow 
her to do whatever it might be she desired. 

On VelchaninofTs appearance the scene changed in an 
instant. No sooner did her eyes fall on the visitor than 
the child made for the door of the next room, with a cry of 
alarm ; while Pavel Pavlovitch — thrown out for one Httle 
instant — immediately relaxed into smiles of great sweetness 
— exactly as he had done last night, when Velchaninoff sud- 
denly opened his front door and caught him standing outside. 
" Alexey Ivanovitch 1 " he cried in real surprise ; " who 
ever would have thought it ! Sit down — sit down — take 
the sofa — or this chair, — sit down, my dear sir ! I'll just 

put on '' and he rushed for his coat and threw it on, 

leaving his waistcoat behind. 

" Don't stand on ceremony with me," said VelchaninofF 
sitting down ; " stay as you are ! " 

" No, sir, no ! excuse me — I insist upon standing on 
ceremony. There, now ! I'm a little more respectable ! 
Dear me, now, who ever would have thought of seeing you 
here . — not I, for one !" 

Pavel Pavlovitch sat down on the edge of a chair, which 
he turned so as to face Velchaninoff. 

"And pray why shouldn't you have expected me? I 
told you last night that I was coming this morning ! " 

" I thought you wouldn't come, sir — I did indeed ; in 
fact, when I thought over yesterday's visit, I despaired of 
ever seeing you again : I did indeed, sir ! " 



1 86 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

VelchaninofF glanced round the room meanwhile. The 
place was very untidy ; the bed was unmade ; the clothes 
thrown about the floor; on the table were two coffee 
tumblers with the dregs of coffee still in them, and a bottle 
of champagne half finished, and with a tumbler standing 
alongside it He glanced at the next room, but all was 
quiet there ; the little girl had hidden herself, and was as 
still as a mouse. 

*' You don't mean to say you drink that stuff at this time 
of day ? " he asked, indicating the champagne bottle. 

" It's only a remnant," explained Pavel Pavlovitch, a 
little confused. 

" My word ! You are a changed man ! " 

"Bad habits, sir; and all of a sudden. All dating from 
that time, sir. Give you my word, I couldn't resist it. But 
I'm all right now — I'm not drunk — I shan't talk twaddle as 
I did last night ; don't be afraid sir, it's all right ! From 
that very day, sir ; give you my word it is ! And if anyone 
had told me half a year ago that I should become like this, 
— if they had shown me my face in a glass then as I should 
be n(nv^ I should have given them the he, sir ; I should 
indeed I" 

" Hem 1 Then you were drunk last night ? " 

" Yes — I was ! " admitted Pavel Pavlovitch, a little guiltily 
— " not exactly drunk, a little beyond drunk I — I tell you 
this by way of explanation, because I'm always worse after 
being drunk ! If I'm only a little drunk, still the violence 
and unreasonableness of intoxication come out afterwards, 
and stay out too; and then I feel my grief the more keenly. I 
daresay my grief is responsible for my drinking. I am 
capable of making an awful fool of myself and offending 
people when I'm drunk. I daresay I seemed strange enough 
to you last night ? " 

" Don't you remember what you said and did ? " 

" Assuredly I do — I remember everything ! " 

" Listen to me, Pavel Pavlovitch : I have thought it over 
and have come to very much the same conclusion as you 
did yourself," began Velchaninoff gently; "besides — I 
believe I was a little too irritable towards you last night — 
too impatient, — I admit it gladly ; the fact is — lam not very 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 187 

well sometimes, and your sudden arrival, you 'know, in the 
middle of the night '* 

"In the middle of the night : you are quite right — it 
was ! " said Pavel Pavlovitch, wagging his head assentingly ; 
"how in the world could I have brought myself to do 
such a thing ? I shouldn't have come in, though, if you hadn't 
opened the door, I should have gone as I came. I called on 
you about a week ago, and did not find you at home, and I 
daresay I should never have called again ; for I am rather 
proud — Alexey Ivanovitch — in spite of my present state. 
Whenever I have met you in the streets I have always said to 
myself, * What if he doesn't know me and rejects me — nine 
years is no joke ! ' and I did not dare try you for fear of 
being snubbed. Yesterday, thanks to that sort of thing, 
you know," (he pointed to the bottle), " I didn't know what 
time it was, and — it's lucky you are the kind of man you 
are, Alexey Ivanovitch, or I should despair of preserving 
your acquaintance, after yesterday ! You remember old 
times, Alexey Ivanovitch ! " 

Velchaninoff listened keenly to all this. The man seemed 
to be talking seriously enough, and even with some dignity ; 
and yet he had not believed a single word that Pavel 
Pavlovitch had uttered from the very first moment that he 
entered the room. 

" Tell me, Pavel Pavlovitch," said Velchaninoff at last, 
" — I see you are not quite alone here, — whose little*girl is 
that I saw when I came in ? " 

Pavel Pavlovitch looked surprised and raised his eye- 
brow ; but he gazed back at Velchaninoff with candour and 
apparent amiability : 

" Whose little girl ? Why that's our Liza ! " he said, 
smiling affably. 

"What Liza?" asked Velchaninoff, — ^and something 
seemed to cause him to shudder inwardly. 

The sensation was dreadfully sudden. Just now, on 
entering the room and seeing Liza, he had felt surprised 
more or less, — ^but had not been conscious of the slightest 
feeling of presentiment, — indeed he had had no special 
thought about the matter, at the moment. 

" Why — our Liza ! — our daughter Liza 1 " repeated Pavel 
Pavlovitch, smiling. 



l88 " THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

"Your daughter? Do you mean to say that you and 
Natalia VasUievna had children ?" asked Velchaninoflf 
timidly, and in a very low tone of voice indeed ! 

*^ Of course — but — what a fool I am — how in the world 
should you know ! Providence sent us the gift after you 
had gone!" 

Pavel Pavlovitch jumped off his chair in apparently 
pleasurable excitement. 

" I heard nothing of it ! " said Velchaninoflf, looking very 
pale. 

" How should you ? how should you ? " repeated Pavel 
Pavlovitch with ineffable sweetness. " We had quite lost 
hope of any children — as you may remember, — when 
suddenly Heaven sent us this little one. And, oh ! my 
feelings — Heaven alone knows what I felt ! Just a year 
after you went^ I think — no, wait a bit — ^not a year by a 
long way ! — Let's see, you left us in October, or November, 
didn't you?" 

" I left T on the twelfth of September, I remember 

well." 

'* Hum ! September was it ? Dear me ! Well, then, let's 
see — September, October, November, December, January, 
February, March, April — to the 8th of May — that was Liza's 
birthday — eight months all but a bit ; and if you could only 

have seen the dear departed, how rejoiced " 

" Show her to me — call her in ! " the words seemed to 
tear themselves from VelchaninofF, whether he liked, it 
or no. 

" Certainly — this moment ! " cried Pavel Pavlovitch, 
forgetting that he had not finished his previous sentence, or 
ignoring the fact ; and he hastily left the room, and entered 
the small chamber adjoining. 

Three or four minutes passed by, while Velchaninoflf 
heard the rapid interchange of whispers going on, and an 
occasional rather louder sound of Liza's voice, apparently 
entreating her father to leave her alone— so Velchaninoflf 
concluded. 

At last the two came out. 

* There you are — she's dreadfully shy and proud," said 
Pavel Pavlovitch ; " just like her mother." 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 1 89 

Liza entered the room without tears, but with eyes down- 
cast, her father leading her by the hand. She was a tall, 
slight, and very pretty little girl. ■ She raised her large blue 
eyes to the visitors face with curiosity ; but only glanced 
surHly at him, and dropped them again. There was that 
in her expression that one always sees in children when 
they look on some new guest for the first time — retiring to 
a corner, and looking out at him thence seriously and 
mistrustingly ; only that there was a something in her man- 
ner beyond the usual childish mistrust — so, at least thought 
VelchaninofF. 

Her father brought her straight up to the visitor. 
" There — this gentleman knew mother very well. He was 
our friend ; you mustn't be shy, — give him your hand ! " 

The child bowed slightly, and timidly stretched out her 
hand. 

" Nataha Vasilievna never would teach her to curtsey ; 
she liked her to bow, English fashion, and give her hand." 
explained Pavel Pavlovitch, gazing intently at VelchaninofF. 
Velchaninoff knew perfectly well that the other was 
keenly examining him at this moment, but he made no 
attempt to conceal his agitation : he sat motionless on his 
chair and held the child's hand in his, gazing into her face 
the while. 

But Liza was apparently much preoccupied, and did not 
take her eyes oif her father's face ; she listened timidly to 
every word he said. 

Velchaninoff recognised her large blue eyes at once ; but 
what specially struck him was the refined pallor of her face, 
and the colour of her hair ; these traits were altogether too ' 
significant, in his eyes ! Her features, on the other hand, 
and the set of her lips, reminded him keenly of Natalia 
Vasilievna. Meanwhile Pavel Pavlovitch was in the 
middle of some apparently most interesting tale — one of 
great sentiment seemingly, — ^but Velchaninoff did not hear 
a word of it until the last few words struck upon his ear : 

"... So that you can't imagine what our joy was 
when Providence sent us this gift, Alexey Ivanovitch ! She 
was everything to me, for I felt that if it should be the will 
of Heaven to deprive me of my other joy, I should still 



190 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

have Liza left to me; that's what I felt, "sir, I did 
indeed!" 

" And Natalia Vasilievna ? " asked Velchaninoff. 

"Oh, Natalia Vasilievna — " began Pavel Pavlovitch, 
smiling with one side of his mouth ; " she never used to 
like to say much — as you know yourself ; but she told me 
on her deathbed — deathbed ! you know, sir — to the very day 
of her death she used to get so angry and say that they were 
trying to cure her with a lot of nasty medicines when she 
had nothing the matter but a simple little feverish attack ; 
and that when Koch arrived (you remember our old 
doctor Koch ?) he would make her all right in a fortnight. 
Why, five hours before she died she was talking of fixing 
that day three weeks for a visit to her Aunt, Liza's god- 
mother, at her country place ! " Velchaninoff here started 
from his seat, but still held the child's hand. He could not 
help thinking that there was something reproachful in the 
girl's persistent stare in her father's face. 

' Is she ill" he asked hurriedly, and his voice had a 
strange tone in it. 

"No II don't think so " said Pavel Pavlovitch ; " but, you 
see our way of living here, and all that : she's a strange 
child and very nervous, besides ! After her mothers 
death she was quite ill and hysterical for a fortnight. Just 
before you came in she was crying like anything ; and do 
you know what about, sir ? Do you hear me, Liza ? — ^You 
listen !— Simply because I was going out, and wished to leave 
her behind, and because she said I didn't love her so well as 
I used to in her mother's time. That's what she pitches 
into me for ! Fancy a child like this getting hold of such an 
idea ! — a child who ought to be playing at dolls, instead of 
developing ideas of that sort ! The thing is, she has no one 
to play with here." 

" Then — then — are you two quite alone here ? " 

"Quite! a servant comes in once a day, that's 
all!" 

" And when you go out, do you leave her quite alone ? " 

''Of course! What else am I to do? Yesterday 
I locked her in that room, and that's what all the 
tears were about this morning. What could I do? 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 191 

the day before yesterday she went down into the 
yard all by herself, and a boy took a shot at her 
head with a stone ! Not only that, but she must 
needs go and cling on to everybody she met, and ask where 
I had gone to ! That's not so very pleasant, you see ! But I 
oughtn't to complain when I say I am going out for an hour 
and then stay out till four in the morning, as I did last night I 
The landlady came and let her out : she had the door broken 
open ! Nice for my feelings, eh ! It's all the result of 
the eclipse that came over my life ; nothing but that, 
sir ! " 

** Papa I " said the child, timidly and anxiously. 

*^ Now, then! none of that again ! What did I tell you yes- 
terday?'' 

*' I won't ; I won't ! " cried the child hurriedly, clasping her 
hands before her entreatingly. 

** Come ! things can't be allowed to go on in this way ! " 
said Velchaninoff impatiently, and with authority. " In 
the first place, you are a man of property; how can you 
possibly live in a hole like this, and in such disorder? " 

" This place ! Oh, but we shall probably have left this 
place within a week; and I've spent a lot of money here, as 
it is, though I may be ' a man of property ; ' and " 

"Very well, that'll do," interrupted Velchaninoff with 
growing impatience, " now, I'll make you a proposition : you 
have just said that you intend to stay another week — per- 
haps two. I have a house here — or rather I know a 
family where I am as much at home as at my own fireside, 
and have been so for twenty years. The family I mean is 
the Pogoryeltseffs — Alexander Pavlovitch Pogoryeltseff is a 
state councillor (he may be of use to you in your business !) 
They are now living in the country — ^they have a beautiful 
country villa; Claudia Petrovna, the lady of the house, 
is like a sister — hke a mother to me; they have eight 
children. Let me take Liza down to them without loss of 
time ! they'll receive her with joy, and they'll treat her like 
their own httle daughter — they will, indeed ! " 

Velchaninoff was in a great hurry, and much excited, and 
he did not conceal his feelings. 

" I'm afraid it's impossible ! " said Pavel Pavlovitch with 



192 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

a grimace, looking straight into his visitor's eyes, very cun- 
ningly, as it seemed to Velchaninoff. 

" Why ! why, impossible ? " 

" Oh, why ! to let the child go — so suddenly, you know, ot 
course with such a sincere well-wisher as yourself— it's not 
that ! — but a strange house — and such swells, too ! — I don't 
know whether they would receive her ! " 

"But I tell you I'm like a son of the house ! " cried 
Velchaninoff, almost angrily. " Claudia Petrovna will be 
delighted to take her, at one word from me ! She'd receive 
her as though she were my own daughter. Deuce take it, 
sir, you know you are only humbugging me, — what's the 
use of talking about it ? " 

He stamped his foot. 

"No — no ! I mean to say — don't it look a little strange ? 
Oughtn't I to call once or twice first ? — such a smart house as 
you say theirs is — don't you see " 

" I teU you it's the simplest house in the world ; 
it isn't 'smart' in the least bit," cried Velchaninoff; 
— " they have a lot of children : it will make another 
girl of her ! — I'll introduce you there myself, to-morrow, 
if you like. Of course you'll have to go and thank 
them, and all that. You shall go down every day with me, 
if you please." 

"Oh, but " 

•" Nonsense ! You know it's nonsense ! Now look here : you 
come to me this evening — I'll put you up for the night — and 
we'll start off early to-morrow and be down there by twelve." 

" Benefactor ! — ^and I may spend the night at your house? " 
cried Pavel Pavlovitch, instantly consenting to the plan with 
the greatest cordiality, — "you are really too good! And 
where's their country house ? " 

" At the Liesnoy." 

" But look here, how about her dress ? Such a house, you 
know,— a father's heart shrinks " 

"Nonsense! — she's in mourning — what else could she 
wear but a black dress like this ? it's exactly the thing ; you 
couldn't imagine anything more so I — you might let her 
have some clean Hnen with her, and give her a cleaner 
neck-handkerchief." 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 1 93 

" Directly, directly. We'll get her linen together in a 
couple of minutes — it's just home from the wash I " 

" Send for a carriage — can you ? Tell them to let us 
have it at once, so as not to waste time." 

But now an unexpected obstacle arose : . Liza absolutely 
rejected the plan ; she had listened to it with terror, and if 
Velchaninoff had, in his excited argument with Pavel Pavlo- 
vitch, had time to glance at the child's face, he would have 
observed her expression of absolute despair at this moment. 

" I won't go ! " she said, quietly but firmly. 

" There — look at that f Just like her mamma ! " 

" I'm not like mamma, I'm not like mamma ! " cried Liza, 
wringing her little hands in despair. " Oh, papa — papa ! '^ 
she added, " if you desert me — " she suddenly threw herself 
upon the alarmed Velchaninoff — " If you take me away — " 
she cried—" I'll " 

But Liza had no time to finish her sentence, for Pavel 
Pavlovitch suddenly seized her by the arm and collar and 
hustled her into the next room with unconcealed rage. For 
several minutes Velchaninoff listened to the whispering going 
on there, — whisperings and seemingly subdued crying on 
the part of Liza. He was about to follow the pair,, 
when suddenly out came Pavel Pavlovitch, and stated 
— with a disagreeable grin — that Liza would come 
directly. 

Velchaninoff tried not to look at him and kept his eyes 
fixed on the other side of the room. 

The elderly woman whom Velchaninoff had met on the 
stairs also made her appearance, and packed Liza's things 
into a neat little carpet bag. 

" Is it you that are going to take the little lady away^ 
sir ? " she asked ; " if so, you are doing a good deed ! She's 
a nice quiet child, and you are saving her from goodness 
knows what, here ! " 

" Oh I come — Maria Sisevna," — began Pavel Pavlovitch^ 

** Well ? what ? isn't it true ! arn't you ashamed to let a 
girl of her intelligence see the things that you allow to go on 
here ? The carriage has arrived for you, sir, — you ordered 
one for the Liesnov, didn't you ? " 

"Yes." 



194 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

" Well, good luck to you ! " 

Liza came out, looking very pale and with downcast eyes ; 
she took her bag, but never glanced in Velchaninoffs 
direction. She restrained herself and did not throw herself 
upon her father, as she had done before — not even to say 
goodbye. She evidently did not wish to look at him. 

Her father kissed her and patted her head in correct 
form ; her lip curled during the operation, the chin trembled 
a little, but she did not raise her eyes to her father's. 

Pavel Pavlovitch looked pale, and his hands shook; 
Velchaninoff saw that plainly enough, although he did his 
best not to see the man at all. He (Velchaninoff) had but 
one thought, and that was how to get away at once ! 

Downstairs was old Maria Sisevna, waiting to say good- 
bye ; and more kissing was done. Liza had just climbed into 
the carriage when suddenly she caught sight of her father's 
face ; she gave a loud cry and wrung her hands, — in another 
minute she would have been out of the carriage and away, 
but luckily the vehicle went on and she was too late ! 



CHAPTER VI. 



" Are you feeling faint ? " asked Velchaninoff of his com- 
panion, frightened out of his wits : " 1*11 tell him to stop and 
get you some water, shall I ? " 

She looked at him angrily and reproachfully. 

** Where are you taking me to?" she asked coldly and 
abruptly. 

" To a very beautiful house, Liza. There are plenty of 
children, — they'll all love you there, they are so kind ! Don't 
be angry with me, Liza ; I wish you well, you know ! " 

In truth, Velchaninoff would have looked strange at 
this moment to any acquaintance, if such had happened to 
see him ! 

" How — how — how — oh ! how wicked you are ! " said 
Liza, fighting with suppressed tears, and flashing her fine 
angry eyes at him. 

" But Liza— I '' 

"You are bad — bad— and wicked!" cried Liza. She 
wrung her hands. 

Velchaninoff was beside himself. 

" Oh, Liza, Liza ! if only you knew what despair you are 
causing me 1 '' he said. 

*^Is it true that he is coming down to-morrow?" 
asked the child haughtily — *' is it true or not ? " 

"Quite true — I shall bring him down myself, — I shall 
take him and bring him I " 

" He will deceive you somehow ! " cried the child, 
drooping her eyes. 

195 



ig6 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

" Doesn't he love you, then, Liza ? " 

"No/^ 

" Has he illtreated you, — has he ? " • 

Liza looked gloomily at her questioner, and said nothing. 
She then turned away from him and sat still and depressed. 

Velchaninoff commenced to talk : he tried to win her, — 
he spoke warmly — excitedly — feverishly. 

Liza listened incredulously and with a hostile air, — but 
still she listened. Her attention delighted him beyond 
measure ; — he went so far as to explain to her what it meant 
when a man took to drink. He said that he loved her and 
would himself look after her father. 

At last Liza raised her eyes and gazed fixedly at him. 

Then Velchaninoff began to speak of her mother and of 
how well he had known her; and he saw that his tales 
attracted her. Little by little she began to reply to his 
questions, but very cautiously and in an obstinately mono- 
syllabic way. 

She would answer nothing to his chief inquiries ; as to 
her former relations with her father, for instance, she main- 
tained an obstinate silence. 

While speaking to her, Velchaninoff held the child's hand 
in his own, as before; and she did not try to take it 
away. 

Liza said enough to make it apparent that she had loved 
her father more than her mother at first, because that her 
father had loved the child better than her mother did; 
but that when her mother had died and was lying dead, Liza 
wept over her and kissed her, and ever since then she had 
loved her mother more than all — all there was in the whole 
world — and that every night she thought of her and loved 
her. 

But Liza was very proud, and suddenly recollecting her- 
self and finding that she was saying a great deal more than 
she had meant to reveal, she paused, and relapsed into 
obstinate silence once more, and gazed at Velchaninoff 
with something Hke hatred in her eyes, considering that he 
had beguiled her into the revelations just made. 

By the end of the journey, however, her hysterical con- 
dition was nearly over, but she was very silent and sat look- 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 197 

ing morosely about her, obstinately silent and gloomy, like a 
little wild animal. 

The fact that she was being taken to a strange house 
where she had never been before did not seem so far to 
weigh upon het; Velchaninoff saw clearly enough that 
other things distressed her, and principally that she was 
ashamed— ashamed that her father should have let her go so 
easily — thrown her away, as it were — into VelchaninofFs 
arms. 

" She's ill," thought the latter, " and perhaps very ill ; 
she has been bullied and ill-treated. Oh ! that drunken, 
blackguardly wretch of a fellow 1 " He hurried on the coach- 
man. Velchaninoff trusted greatly to the fresh air, to the 
garden, to the children, to the new life, now ; as to the 
future, he was in no sort of doubt at all, his hopes were 
clear and defined. One thing he was quite sure of, and 
that was that he had never before felt what now swelled 
within his soul, and that the sensation would last for ever 
and ever. 

" I have an object at last ! this is Life ! " he said to him- 
self enthusiastically. 

Many thoughts welled into his brain just now, but he 
would have none of them ; he did not care to think of 
details at this moment, for without details the future was all 
so clear and so beautiful, and so safe and indestructible ! 

The basis of his plan was simple enough ; it was simply 
this, in the language of his own thoughts : 

** I shall so work upon that drunken little blackguard that 
he will leave Liza with the Pogoryeltsefifs, and go away 
alone — at first, ' for a time,' of course ! — and so Liza shall 
remain behind for me ! what more do I want ? The plan 
will suit him, too ! — else why does he bully her like this ?" 

The carriage arrived at last. 

It was certainly a very beautiful place. They were met 
first of all by a troop of noisy children, who overflowed on 
to the front-door steps. Velchaninoff had not been down 
for some time, and the delight of the little ones to see him 
was excessive — they were very fond of him. 

The elder ones shouted, before he had left the carriage, 
by way of chaff: 

o 



198 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

"How's the lawsuit getting on, eh?" and the smaller 
gang took up the joke, and all clamoured the same ques- 
tion: it was a pet joke in this establishment to chaff 
Velchaninoff about his lawsuit. But when Liza climbed 
down the carriage steps, she was instantly- surrounded and 
stared at with true juvenile curiosity. Then Claudia 
Petrovna and her husband came out, and both of them 
good-humouredly bantered Velchaninoff about his lawsuit. 

Claudia Petrovna was a lady of some thirty-seven 
summers, stout and well-favoured, and with a sweet fresh- 
looking face. Her husband was a man of fifty-five, a 
clever and long-headed man of the world, but above all, a 
good and kind-hearted friend to anyone requiring kindness. 

The Pogoryeltseffs' house was in the full sense of the 
word a " home " to Velchaninoff, as the latter had stated. 
There was rather more here, however ; for, twenty years since 
Claudia had very nearly married young Velchaninoff almost 
a boy at that time, and a student at the university. 

This had been his first experience of love — ^and very hot 
and fiery and funny— and sweet it was I The end of it 
was, however, that Claudia married Mr Pogoryeltseff, Five 
years later she and Velchaninoff had met again, and a quiet 
candid friendship had sprung up between them. Since then 
there had always been a warmth, a speciality about their 
friendship, a radiance which overspread it and glorified their 
relations one to the other. There was nothing here that 
Velchaninoff could remember with shame — all was pure and 
sweet ; and this was perhaps the reason why the friendship 
was specially dear to Velchaninoff; he had not experienced 
many such platonic intimacies. 

In this house Velchaninoff was simple and happy, con- 
fessed his sins, played with the children and lectured them, 
and never bothered his head about outside matters ; he had 
promised the Pogoryeltseffs that he would live a few more 
years alone in the world, and then move over to their 
household for good and all ; and he looked forward to that 
good time coming with all seriousness. 

Velchaninoff now gave all the information about Liza 
which he thought fit, though his simple request would have 
been amply sufficient here. 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND, 1 99 

Claudia Petrovna kissed the little ** orphan,*' and pro- 
mised to do all she possibly could for her; and the 
children carried Liza oflf to play in the garden. Half an 
hour passed in conversation, and then VelchaninofF rose to 
depart : he was in such a hurry, that his friends could not 
help remarking upon the fact. He had not been near them 
for three weeks, they said, and now he only stayed half an 
hour ! Velchaninoff laughed and promised to come down 
to-morrow. Someone observed that Velchaninoffs state 
of agitation was remarkable, even for him! Where- 
upon the latter jumped up, seized Claudia Petrovna's hand, 
and, under pretence of having forgotten to tell her some- 
thing most important about Liza, he led her into another 
room. 

" Do you remember," he began, " what I told you, and 
only you, — even your husband does not know of it — about 
my year of life down at T ? " 

" Oh yes ! only too well ! You have often spoken of it." 

" No — I did not * speak about it,' I confessed^ and only to 
yourself; but I never told you the lady's name. It was 
Trusotsky, the wife of this Trusotsky ; it is she who has 
died, and this little Liza is her child — my child ! " 

" Is this certain ? Are you quite sure there is no mis- 
take ? " asked Claudia Petrovna, with some agitation. 

" Quite, quite certain I " said VelchaninofF enthusiastically. 
He then gave a short, hasty, and excited narrative of all 
that had occurred. Claudia had heard it all before, ex- 
cepting the lady's name. 

The fact is, VelchaninofF had always been so afraid that 
one of his friends might some fine day meet Madame 

Trusotsky at T , and wonder how in the world he 

could have loved such a woman as that, that he had never 
revealed her name to a single soul ; not even to Claudia 
Petrovna, his great friend. 

"And does the 'father' know nothing of it?" asked 
Claudia, having heard the tale out. 

** N — ^no ; he knows — you see, that's just what is 
bothering me now. I haven't sifted the matter as yet," 
resumed VelchaninofF hotly. "He must know— he does 
know. I remarked that fact both yesterday and to-day. 

0—2 



200 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

But I wish to discover ?iow ftiuch he knows. That's why I 
am hurrying back now ; he is coming to-night He knows 
all about Bagantoff; but how about myself? You know how 
such wives can deceive their husbands ! If an angel from 
Heaven were to come down and convict a woman, her hus- 
band will still trust her, and give the angel the lie. 

'* Oh ! don't nod your head at me, don't judge me I I 
have long since judged and convicted myself. You see, 
this morning I felt so sure that he knew all, that I com- 
promised myself before him. Fancy, I was really ashamed 
of having been rude to him last night. He only called in 
to see me out of the pure unconquerably malicious desire to 
show me that he knew all the offence, and knew who was 
the offender ! I behaved like a fool ; I gave myself into 
his hands too easily ; I was too heated ; he came at such a 
feverish moment for me. I tell you, he has been bullying 
Liza, simply to " let off bile/' — you understand. He needs 
a safety-valve for his offended feelings, and vents them upon 
anyone^ even a little child ! 

" It is exasperation, and quite natural We must treat 
him in a Christian spirit, my friend ; and do you know, I 
wish to change my way of treating him, entirely ; I wish to 
be particularly kind to him. That will be a good action 
on my part, for I am to blame before him, I know I am ; 

there's no disguising the fact ! Besides, once at T , it 

so happened that I required four thousand roubles at a 
moment's notice. Well, the fellow gave me the money, 
without a receipt, at once, and with every manifestation of 
delight to be able to serve me ! And I took the money 
from his hands, — I did, indeed ! I took it as though he 
were a friend. Think of that ! " 

"Very well; only be careful!" said Claudia Petrovna. 
" You are so enthusiastic that I am really alarmed for you ! 
Of course Liza shall now be no less than my own daughter 
to me ; but there is so much to know and to settle yet ! 
Above all, be very careful and observant ! You are not 
nearly careful enough when you are happy ! You are much 
too exalted an individual to be cautious, when you are 
happy ! " she added with a smile. 

The whole family went out to see Velchaninoff ofif. The 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 20l 

children brought Liza along with them ; they had been 
playing in the garden. They seemed to look at her now 
with even more perplexity then at first ! The girl became 
dreadfully shy when Velchaninoff kissed her before all, and 
promised to come down next day and bring her father with 
him. To the last moment she did not say a single word, 
and never looked at him at all ; but just before he was 
about to start she seized his hand and drew him away to 
one side, looking imploringly in his face : she evidently 
had something to say to him. Velchaninoff immediately 
took her into an adjoining room. 

** What is it, Liza?" he asked, kindly and encouragingly; 
but she drew him farther away, — into the very farthest 
corner of the room, anxious to get well out of sight and 
hearing of the rest. 

" What is it, Liza ? What is it ? " 

But she was still silent, and could not make up her mind 
to speak ; she stared with her motionless, large blue eyes, 
into his face, and in every lineament of her little face was 
betrayed the wildest terror and anxiety. 

" He'll — hang himself ! " she whispered at last, as though 
she were talking in her sleep. 

"Who will hang himself?" asked Velchaninoff, in alarm. 

" He will — he / He tried to hang himself to a hook last 
night ! " said the child, panting with haste and excitement ; 
" I saw it myself! To-day he tried it again, — he wishes to 
hang himself; he told me so ! — he told me so ! He wanted 
to, long ago ; he has always wanted to do it ! I saw it my- 
self — in the night ! '* 

" Impossible ! " muttered Velchaninoff, incredulously. 

Liza suddenly threw herself into his arms, kissed his 
hands, and cried. She could hardly breathe for sobbing ; 
she was begging and imploring Velchaninoff, but he could 
not understand what she was trying to say. 

Velchaninoff never afterwards forgot the terrible look of 
this distressed child ; he thought of it waking and thought 
of it sleeping — how she had come to him in her despair as 
to her last hope, and hysterically begged and prayed him to 
help her ! " And to think of her being so deeply attached 
to him I " he reflected jealously, as he drove, impatient and 



202 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

feverish, towards town. " She said herself that she loved 
her mother better; — perhaps she hates him, and doesn't 
love him at all ! And what's all that nonsense about 
* hanging himself! ' What did she mean by that ? As if he 
would hang himself, the fool ! I must sift the matter — ^the 
whole matter. I must settle this business once and for ever 
— and quickly 1 " 



CHAPTER VII. 

He was in a great hurry to " know all." In order to lose 
no time about finding out what he felt he must know at 
once, he told the coachman to drive him straight to 
Trusotsk/s rooms. On the way he changed his mind ; " let 
him come to me, himself," he thought , " and meanwhile I 
can attend to my cursed law business." 

But to-day he really felt that he was too absent to attend 
to anything at all ; and at five o'clock he set out with the 
intention of dining. And at this moment, for the first time, 
an amusing idea struck him. What if he really only 
hindered his law business by meddling as he did, and 
hunting his wretched lawyer about the place, when the 
latter plainly avoided meeting him ? Velchaninoff laughed 
merrily over this idea. "And yet," he thought; "if this 
notion had struck me in the evening instead of now, how 
angry I should have been I " He laughed again, more 
merrily than before. But in spite of his merriness he grew 
more and more thoughtful and impatient, and could settle 
to nothing, nor could he think out what he most wanted to 
reflect upon. 

" I must have that fellow here I " he said at length ; " I 
must read the mystery of him first of all, and then I can 
settle what to do next. There's a duel in this business ! " 

Returning home at seven o'clock he did not find Pavel 
Pavlovitch there, which fact first surprised him, then 
angered him, then depressed him, and at last, frightened 
him. 
203 



204 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

" God knows, God knows how it will all end ! " he cried ; 
first trying to settle himself on a sofa, and then marching 
up and down the room, and all the while looking at his 
watch every other minute. 

At length — at about nine o'clock — Pavel Pavlovitch 
appeared. 

" If this man was cunning enough to mean it he could 
not have managed better in order to put me into a state of 
nervousness!" thought Velchaninoff, though his heart 
bounded for joy to see his guest arrive. 

To Velchaninoff' s cordial inquiry as to why he was so 
late, Pavel Pavlovitch smiled disagreeably — took a seat with 
easy familiarity, carelessly threw his crapebound hat on a 
chair, — and made himself perfectly at home. Velchaninoff 
observed and took stock of the careless manner adopted by 
his visitor; it was not like yesterday. Velchaninoff then 
quietly, and in a few words, gave Pavel Pavlovitch an 
account of what he had done with Liza, of how kindly she 
had been received, of how good it would be for the child 
down there ; then he led the conversation to the topic of 
the Pogoryeltseffs, leaving Liza out of the talking altogether, 
and spoke of how kind the whole family were, of how long 
he had known them, and so on. 

Pavel Pavlovitch listened absently, occasionally looking 
ironically at his host from under his eyelashes. 

" What an enthusiast you are ! *' he muttered at last, 
smihng very unpleasantly. 

" Hum, you seem in a bad humour to-day ! " remarked 
Velchaninoff with annoyance. 

"And why shouldn't I be as wicked as my neighbours? " 
cried Pavel Pavlovitch suddenly ! He said this so abruptly 
that he gave one the idea that he had pounced out of a 
corner where he had been lurking, on purpose to make a 
dash at the first opportunity. 

** Oh dear me ! do as you like, pray ! " laughed Vel- 
chaninoff; *'I only thought something had put you out, 
perhaps I " 

" So it has,'* cried Pavel Pavlovitch, as though proud of 
the fact. 

" Well, what was it ? '' 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 205 

Pavel Pavlovitch waited a moment or two before he 
replied. 

"Why it's that Stepan Michailovitch Bagantoflf of 
ours — up to his tricks again ; he's a shining Hght among the 
highest circles of society — he is ! '' 

" Wouldn't he receive you again — or what ? " 

" N — no I not quite that, this time ; on the contrary I 
was allowed to go in for the first time on record, and I had 
the honour of musing over his features, too ! — but he 
happened to be a corpse, that's all ! " 

" What ! Bagantoff dead ? " cried Velchaninoff, in the 
greatest astonishment ; though there was no particular 
reason why he should be surprised. 

"Yes — my unalterable — six-years-standing friend is 
dead ! — died yesterday at about mid-day, and I knew nothing 
of it ! Perhaps he died just when I called there — who knows ? 
To-morrow is the funeral ! he's in his coffin at this 
moment ! Died of nervous fever ; and they let me 
in to see him — they did indeed ! — to contemplate his 
features I I told them I was a great friend — and therefore 
they allowed me in I A pretty trick he has played me — " 
this dear friend of six years' standing ! why — perhaps I came 
to St Petersburg specially for himP' 

" Well — it's hardly worth your while to be angry with him 
about it, is it — he didn't die on purpose ! " said Velchaninoff 
laughing. 

" Oh, but I'm speaking out of pure sympathy — he was a 
dear friend to me ! oh a very dear friend ! " 

Pavel Pavlovitch gave a smile of detestable irony and 
cunning. 

" Do you know what, Alexey Ivanovitch, " he resumed, 
" I think you ought to treat me to something, — I have often 
treated you ; I used to be your host every blessed day, sir, at 

T , for a whole year ! Send for a bottle of wine, do — 

my throat is so dry ! " 

**With pleasure — why didn't you say so before! what 
would you like ? " 

" Don't say * you ! ' say * we ' ! we'll drink together of 
course ! " said Pavel Pavlovitch defiantly, but at the same 
ime looking into Velchaninoffs eyes with some concern. 



2o6 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

*' Shall it be champagne ? " 

" Of course ! it isn't time for vodki yet ! " 

Velchaninofi roSe slowly — rang the bell and gave Mavra 
the necessary orders. 

** We'll drink to this happy meeting of friends after nine 
years' parting ! " said Pavel Pavlovitch, with a very inap- 
propriate and unnecessary giggle. " Why, you are the only 
real, true friend left to me now ! Bagantoff is no more ! it 
quite reminds one. of the great poet : 

" Great Patroclus is no more, 
Mean Thersites liveth yet ! " 

— and so on, — don't you know !" 

At the name * Thersites' Pavel Pavlovitch touched his 
own breast. 

" I wish you would speak plainly, you pig of a fellow ! " 
said Velchaninoflf to himself, ** I hate hints ! " His own anger 
was on the rise, and he had long been struggling with his 
self-restraint. 

" Look here, — tell me this, since you consider Bagan- 
toff to have been guilty before you (as I see you do) 
surely you must be glad that your betrayer is dead ? What 
are you so angry about ? '' 

"Glad! Why should I be glad ? " 

" I judge by what 1 should imagine your feelings to be." 

" Ha-ha ! well, this time you are a little bit in error as to 
my feelings, for once 1 A certain sage has said * my good 
enemy is dead, but I have a still better one alive ! ha-ha 1 " 

" Well but you saw him alive for five years at a stretch, — 
I should have thought that was enough to contemplate his 
features in !" said Velchaninoff angrily and contemptuously. 

" Yes, but how was I to know then, sir ? '* snapped Pavel 
Pavlovitch — ^jumping out of an ambush once more, as it were, 
— dehghted to be asked a question which he had long 
awaited ; why, what do you take me for, Alexey Ivanovitch ? " 
at this moment there was in the speaker's face a new ex- 
pression altogether, transfiguring entirely the hitherto merely 
disagreeably malicious look upon it. 

" Do you mean to say you knew nothing of it ? " said 
Velchaninoff in astonishment. 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 207 

" How ! Didn't know ? As if I could have known it 

and Oh, you race of Jupiters 1 you reckon a man to 

be no better than a dog, and judge of him by your own 
sentiments. Look here, sir, — there, look at that." So 
saying, he brought his fist madly down upon the table with 
a resounding bang, and immediately afterwards looked 
frightened at his own act. 

Velchaninoifs face beamed. 

** Listen, Pavel Pavlovitch," he said ; **it is entirely the 
same thing to me whether you knew or did not know all 
about it. If you did not know, so much the more honour- 
able is it for you ; but — I can't understand why you should 
have selected me for your confidant." 

" I wasn't talking of you ; don't be angry, it wasn't about 
you," muttered Pavel Pavlovitch, with his eyes fixed on the 
ground. 

At this moment, Mavra entered with the champagne. 

'*Here it is!" cried Pavel Pavlovitch, immensely 
delighted at the appearance of the wine. " Now then, 
tumblers my good girl, tumblers quick ! Capital ! Thank 
you, we don't require you any more, my good Mavra, 
What ! you've drawn the cork? Excellent creature. Well, 
ta-ta 1 off with you." 

Mavra's advent with the bottle so encouraged him that 
he again looked at Velchaninoff with some defiance. 

"Now confess," he giggled suddenly, " confess that you 
are very curious indeed to hear about all this, and that it 
is by no means * entirely the same to you,' as you declared 1 
Confess that you would be miserable if I were to get up 
and go away this very minute without telling you anything 
more." 

" Not the least in the world, I assure you 1 " 

Pavel Pavlovitch smiled ; and his smile said, as plainly as 
words could, " That's a lie ! " 

"Well, let's to business," be said, and poured out two 
glasses of champagne. 

" Here's a toast," he continued, raising his goblet, ** to 
the health in Paradise of our dear departed friend 
Bagantoff." 
He raised his glass and drank. 



208 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

" I won't drink such a toast as that ! " said Velchaninoff ; 
and put his glass down on the table. 

" Why not ? It*s a very pretty toast" 

** Look here, were you drunk when you came here ? " 

''AHttle;why?" 

" Oh — nothing particular. Only it appeared to me that 
yesterday, and especially this morning, you were sincerely 
sorry for the lossof Natalia Vasilievna." 

** And who says I am not sorry now? " cried Pavel Pav- 
lovitch, as if somebody had pulled a string and made him 
snap the words out, like a doll. 

" No, I don't mean that ; but you must admit you may 
be in error about Bagantoff ; and that's a serious matter 1 " 

Pavel Pavlovitch grinned and gave a wink. 

" Hey ! Wouldn't you just like to know how I found out 
about Bagantoff, eh ? " 

Velchaninoff blushed. 

'* I repeat, it's all the same to me," he said ; and added 
to himself, " Hadn't I better pitch him and the bottle out 
of the window together." He was blushing more and more 
now. 

Pavel Pavlovitch poured himself out another glass. 

" I'll tell you directly how I found out all about Mr. 
Bagantoff, and your burning wish shall be satisfied. For you 
are a fiery sort of man, you know, Alexey Ivanovitch, oh, 
dreadfully so ! Ha-ha-ha. Just give me a cigarette first, 
will you, for ever since March " 

" Here's a cigarette for you." 

" Ever since March I have been a depraved man, sir, and 
this is how it all came about. Listen. Consumption, as 
you know, my dear friend " (Pavel Pavlovitch was growing 
more and more familiar !), " is an interesting malady. One 
sees a man dying of consumption without a suspicion that 
to-morrow is to he his last day. Well, I told you how 
Natalia Vasilievna, up to five hours before her death, talked 
about going to visit her aunt, who lived thirty miles or so 
away, and starting in a fortnight. You know how some 
ladies — and gentlemen, too, I daresay — have the bad habit 
of keeping a lot of old rubbish by them, in the way of love- 
letters and so on. It would be much safer to stick them 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 209 

all into the fire, wouldn't it ? But no, they must keep every 
little scrap of paper in drawers and desks, and endorse it 
and classify it, and tie it up in bundles, for each year and 
month and class ! I don't know whether they find this 
consoling to their feelings afterwards, or what. Well, since 
she was arranging a visit to her aunt just five hours before 
her death, Natalia Vasilievna naturally did not expect to, 
die so soon ; in fact, she was expecting old Doctor Koch 
down till the last ; and so, when Natalia Vasilievna did die, 
she left behind her a beautiful little black desk all inlaid 
with mother-of-pearl, and bound with silver, in her bureau ; 
oh, a lovely little box, an heirloom left her by her grand- 
mother, with a lock and key all complete. Well, sir, in 
this box everything — I mean everything^ you know, for every 
day and hour for the last twenty years — ^was disclosed ; and 
since Mr. Bagantoff had a decided taste for literature 
(indeed, he had published a passionate novel once, I am 
told, in a newspaper !) — consequently there were about a 
hundred examples of his genius in the desk, ranging over 
a period of five years. Some of these talented effusions 
were covered with pencilled remarks by Natalia Vasilievna 
herself! Pleasant, that, for a fond husband's feelings, sir, 
eh?" 

Velchaninoff quickly cast his thoughts back over the 
past, and remembered that he had never written a single 
letter or a single note to Natalia Vasilievna. 

He had written a couple of letters from St. Petersburg, 
but, according to a previous arrangement, he had addressed 
them to both Mr. and Mrs. Trusotsky together. He had 
not answered Natalia Vasilievna's last letter— which had 
contained his dismissal — at all. 

Having ended his speech, Pavel Pavlovitch relapsed into 
silence, and sat smiling repulsively for a whole minute or so. 

** Why don't you answer my question, my friend ? " he 
asked, at length, evidently disturbed by Velchaninoff's 
silence. 

" What question ? " 

"As to the pleasure I must have felt as a fond husband, 
upon opening the desk." 

" Your feelings are no business of mine ! " said the other 



2IO THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

bitterly, rising and commencing to stride up and down the 
room. 

" I wouldn't mind betting that you are thinking at this 
very moment : * What a pig of a fellow he is to parade his 
shame like this ! * Ha-ha ! dear me, what a squeamish gentle- 
man you are to be sure ! " 

" Not at all. I was thinking nothing of the sort ; on the 
contrary, I consider that you are — besides being more or 
less intoxicated — so put out by the death of the man who 
has injured you that you are not yourself. There's nothing 
surprising in it at all ! I quite understand why you wish 
Bagantoff were still alive, and am ready to respect your 

annoyance, but " 

" And pray why do you suppose that I wish Bagantoff 
were alive ? " 

" Oh, that's your affair ! " 

" I'll take my oath you are thinking of a duel ! " 
"Devil take it, sir!" cried Velchaninoff, obliged to hold 
himself tighter than ever. *' 1 was thinking that you, hke 
every respectable person in similar circumstances, would act 
openly and candidly and straightforwardly, and not humiliate 
yourself with comical antics and silly grimaces, and ridicu- 
lous complaints and detestable inuendoes, which only heap 
greater shame upon you. I say I was thinking you would 
act like a respectable person." 

"Ha-ha-ha! — but perhaps I am «^/ a respectable 
person ! " 

'* Oh, well, that's your own affair again and yet, if 
so, what in the devil's name could you want with Bagantoff 
alive ? " 

'*0h, my dear sir, I should have liked just to have a 
nice peep at a dear old friend, that's all. We should have 
got hold of a bottle of wine, and drunk it together ! " 
" He wouldn't have drunk with j^^« .' " 
** Why not ? Noblesse oblige ? Why, you are drinking with 
me. Wherein is he better than you ? " 
" I have not drunk with you." 
"Wherefore this sudden pride, sir?" 
Velchaninoff suddenly burst into a fit of nervous, irritable 
laughter. 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 211 

" Why, deuce take it all ! " he cried, " you are quite a dif- 
ferent type to what I believed. I thought you were nothing 
but a * permanent husband,' but I find you are a sort of bird 
of prey." 

" What ! * permanent husband ? ' What is a * permanent 
husband ? * " asked Pavel Pavlovitch, pricking up his 
ears. 

" Oh — ^just one type of husbands — that's all, it's too 
long to explain. Come, you'd better get out now ; it's quite 
time you went. I'm sick of you !" 

" And bird of prey, sir ; what did that mean ? " 

** I said you were a bird of prey for a joke." 

" Yes ; but — bird of prey — tell me what you mean, Alexey 
Ivanovitch, for goodness sake ! " 

" Come, come, that's quite enough ! " shouted Velchani- 
noff, suddenly flaring up and speaking at the top of his 
voice. " It's time you went ; get out of this, will you ? " 

" No, sir, it's not enough ! " cried Pavel Pavlovitch, jump- 
ing up, too. ** Even if you are sick of me, sir, it's not 
enough ; for you must first drink and clink glasses with me. 
I won't go before you do ! No, no; oh dear no ! drink first; 
it's not enough yet." 

** Pavel Pavlovitch, will you go to the devil' or will you 
not?" -- 

"With pleasure, sir. I'll go to the devil with pleasure; 
but first we must drink. You say you don't wish to drink 
wM me; but / wish you to drink with me— actually 
with meJ^ 

Pavel Pavlovitch was grimacing and giggling no longer. 
He seemed to be suddenly transfigured again, and was as 
different from the Pavel Pavlovitch of but a few moments 
since as he could possibly be, both in appearance and in 
the tone of his voice ; so much so that VelchaninofT was 
absolutely confounded. 

" Come, Alexey Ivanovitch, let's drink ! — don't refuse 
me ! " continued Pavel Pavlovitch, seizing the other tightly 
by the hand and gazing into his face with an extraordinary 
expression. 

It was clear there was more in this matter than the mere 
question of drinking a glass of wine. 



212 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

*' Well," muttered Velchaninoff, ** but that's nothing but 
dregs 1" 

" No, there's just a couple of glasses left — it's quite clear. 
Now then, clink glasses and drink. There, I'll take your 
glass and you take mine." They touched glasses and 
drank. 

" Oh, Alexey Ivanovitch I now that we've drunk together 
— oh ! " Pavel Pavlovitch suddenly raised his hand to his 
forehead and sat still for a few moments. 

Velchaninoff trembled with excitement. He thought 
Pavel Pavlovitch was about to disclose all; but Pavel 
Pavlovitch said nothing whatever. He only looked at him, 
and quietly smiled his detestable cunning smile in the 
other's face. 

" What do you want with me, you drunken wretch? " cried 
Velchaninoff, furious, and stamping his foot upon the floor ; 
** you are making a fool of me I " 

" Don't shout so — don't shout ! WHy make such a noise ?" 
cried Pavel Pavlovitch. " I'm not making a fool of you ! 
Do you know what you are to me now ? " and he suddenly 
seized Velchaninoffs hand, and kissed it before Velchaninoff 
could recollect himself. 

" There, that's what you are to me now ; and now I'll 
go to the devil." 

** Wait a bit — stop ! " cried Velchaninoff, recollecting 
himself; " there's something I wished to say to you." 

Pavel Pavlovitch turned back from the door. 

"You see," began Velchaninoff, blushing and keeping 
his eye well away from the other, " you ought to go with 
me to the Pogoryeltseffs to-morrow — ^just to thank them, you 
know, and make their acquaintance. 

" Of course, of course ; quite so ! " said Pavel Pavlovitch 
readily, and making a gesture of the hand to imply that he 
knew his duty, and there was no need to remind him of it. 

" Besides Liza expects you anxiously — I promised her." 

"Liza?" Pavel Pavlovitch turned quickly once more 
upon him. " Liza ? Do you know, sir, what this Liza has 
been to me — has been and is ? " he cried passionately and 
almost beside himself; "but — no! — ^afterwards — that shall 
be afterwards ! Meanwhile it's not enough for me, Alexey 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 213 

Ivanovitch, that we have drunk together ; there's another 
satisfaction 1 must have, sir!" He placed his hat on a 
chair, and, panting with excitement, gazed at his companion 
with much the same expression as before. 

** Kiss me, Alexey Ivanovitch ! " 

" Are you drunk ? " cried the other, drawing back. 

"Yes, I am — but kiss me all the same, Alexey Ivano- 
vitch — oh, do ! I kissed your hand just now, you know." 

Alexey Ivanovitch was silent for a few moments, as 
though stunned by the blow of a cudgel. Then he quickly 
bent down to Pavel Pavlovitch (who was about the height of 
his shoulder), and kissed his lips, from which proceeded 
a disagreeably powerful odour of wine. He performed the 
action as though not quite certain of what he was doing. 

"Well! now^ now H' cried Pavel Pavlovitch, with 
drunken enthusiasm, and with his eyes flashing fiercely ; 
" now — look here — I'll tell you what ! I thought at that 
time : * Surely not he^ too ! If this man,' I thought^ * if this 
man is guilty too — then whom am I ever to trust again ! ' " 

Pavel Pavlovitch suddenly burst into tears. 

" So now you must understand how dear a friend you are 
to me henceforth." With these words he took his hat and 
rushed out of the room. 

Velchaninoff stood for several minutes in one spot, just 
as he had done after Pavel Pavlovitch's first visit. 

" It's merely adrunken sally — nothing more ! ".he muttered. 
" Absolutely nothing further ! " he repeated, when he was 
undressed and settled down in his bed. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Next morning, while waiting for Pavel Pavlovitch, who 
had promised to be in good time in order to drive down to 
the Pogoryeltseffs with him, Velchaninoff walked up and 
down the room, sipped his coffee, and every other minute 
reflected upon one and the same idea ; namely, that he felt 
like a man who had awaked from sleep with the deep im- 
pression of having received a box on the ear the last thing 
at night. 

" Hm ! " he thought, anxiously, " he understands the state 
of the case only too well ; he'll take it out of me by means 
of Liza ! '' The dear image of the poor little girl danced 
before his eyes. His heart beat quicker when he reflected 
that to-day — in a couple of hours — he would see^is own I^iza, 
once more. " Yes — there's no question about it," he said to 
himself; " my whole end and aim in life is t/iere now ! What 
do I care about all these * memories ' and boxes on the ear ; 
and what have I lived fOr up to now ? — for sorrow and 
discomfort — that's all ! but now, now^ — it's all different ! " 

But in spite of his ecstatic feelings he grew more and more 
thoughtful. 

" He is worrying me for Liza, that's plain ; and he bullies 
Liza — he is going to take it out of me that way — for d/l/ 
Hm ! at all events I cannot possibly allow such sallies as his 
of last night," and Velchaninoff" blushed hotly ** and here's half- 
past eleven and he hasn't come yet." He waited long — till 
half-past twelve, and his anguish of impatience grew more 
214 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND, 215 

and more keen. Pavel Pavlovitch did not appear. At 
length the idea began to take shape that Pavel Pavlovitch 
naturally would not come again for the sole purpose of 
another scene like that of last night. The thought filled 
VelchaninofT with despair. The brute knows I am depending 
upon him — ^and what on earth am I to do now about Liza ? 
How can I make my appearance without him ? *' 

At last he could bear it no longer and set off to the 
Pokrofsky at one o'clock to look for Pavel Pavlovitch. 

At the lodging, VelchaninofF was informed that Pavel 
Pavlovitch had not been at home all night, and had only 
called in at nine o'clock, stayed a quarter of an hour, and 
had gone out again. 

Velchaninoff stood at the door listening to the ser- 
vants' report, mechanically tried the handle, recollected 
himself, and asked to see Maria Sisevna. 

The latter obeyed his summons at once. 

She was a kind-hearted old creature, of generous feelings, 
as VelchaninofF described her afterwards to Claudia 
Petrovna. Having first enquired as to his journey yesterday 
with Liza, Maria launched into anecdotes of Pavel 
Pavlovitch. She declared that she would long ago have 
turned her lodger out neck and crop, but for the child. 
Pavel Pavlovitch had been turned out of the hotel for 
generally disreputable behaviour. " Oh, he does dreadful 
things ! " she continued. ''Fancy his telling the poor child, 
in anger, that she wasn't his daughter, but " 

" Oh no, no ! impossible ! " cried VelchaninofT in alarm. 

" I heard it myself ! She's only a small child, of course, but 
that sort of thing doesn't do before an intelligent child like 
her I She cried dreadfully — she was quite upset. We had a 
catastrophe in the house a short while since. Some com- 
missionnaire or somebody took a room in the evening, and 
hung himself before morning. He had bolted with money, 
they say. Well, crowds of people came in to stare at him. 
Pavel Pavlovitch wasn't at home, but the child had escaped 
and was wandering about ; and she must needs go with the 
rest to see the sight. I saw her looking at the suicide with an 
extraordinary expression, and carried her off at once, of course; 
and fancy, I hardly managed to get home with her — tremb- 

p— 2 



2l6 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

ling all over she was — when off she goes in a dead faint, and 
it was all I could do to bring her round at all. I don't 
know whether she's epileptic or what^-and ever since that she 
has been ill. When her father heard, he came and pinched 
her all over — he doesn't beat her ; he always pinches her 
like that, — then he went out and got drunk somewhere, and 
came back and frightened her. * I'm going to hang myself 
too,' he says, * because of you. I shall hang myself on that 
blind string there,' he says, and he makes a loop in the 
string betore her very eyes. The poor little thing went quite 
out of her mind with terror, and cried and clasped hiin round 
with hfer little arms. * I'll be good — I'll be good ! ' she shrieks. 
It was a pitiful sight — it was, indeed ! " 

Velchaninoff, though prepared for strange revelations 
concerning Pavel Pavlovitch and his ways, was quite dum- 
foundered by these tales ; he could scarcely believe his ears. 

Maria Sisevnatold him many more such little anecdotes. 
Among others, there was one occasion, when, if she (Maria) 
had not been by, Liza would have thrown herself out of the 
window. 

Pavel Pavlovitch had come staggering out of the room 
muttering, "I shall smash her head in with a stick ! I shall 
murder her like a dog ! " and he had gone away, repeating 
this over and over again to himself. 

Velchaninoff hired a carriage and set off towards the 
Pogoryeltseffs. Before he had left the town behind him, the 
carriage was delayed by a block at a cross road, just by a small 
bridge, over which was passing, at the moment, a long funeral 
procession. There were carriages waiting to move on on both 
sides of the bridge, and a considerable crowd of foot pas- 
sengers besides. 

The funeral was evidently of some person of considerable 
importance, for the train of private and hired vehicles was 
a very long one ; and at the window of one of these carriages 
in the procession Velchaninoff suddenly beheld the face of 
Pavel Pavlovitch. 

Velchaninoff would not have believed his eyes, but that 
Pavel Pavlovitch nodded his head and smiled to him. He 
seemed to be delighted to have recognised Velchaninoff; 
he even began to kiss his hand out of the window. 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 217 

Velchaninoff jumped out of his own vehicle, and in spite 
of policemen, crowd, and everything else, elbowed his way 
to Pavel Pavlovitch's carriage window. He found the latter 
sitting alone. 

*'What are you doing?'' he cried. " Why didn't you 
come to my house ? Why are you here ? " 

"I'm paying a debt; don't shout so! I'm repaying a 
debt," said Pavel Pavlovitch, giggling and winking. " I'm 
escorting the mortal remains of my dear friend Stepan 
Michailovitch BagantofF!" 

" What absurdity, you drunken, insane creature," cried 
Velchaninoff louder than ever, and beside himself with out- 
raged feeling. " Get out and come with me. Quick ! get 
out instantly I " 

** I can't. It's a debt " 

" I'll pull you out, then ! " shouted Velchaninoff. 

** Then I'll scream, sir, I'll scream ! " giggled Pavel Pav- 
lovitch, as merrily as ever, just as though the whole thing 
was a joke. However, he retreated into the further comer 
of the carriage, all the same. 

" Look out, sir, look out I You'll be knocked down ! " 
cried a pohceman. 

Sure enough, an outside carriage was making its way 
on to the bridge from the side, stopping the procession, and 
causing a commotion. Velchaninoff was obliged to spring 
aside, and the press of carriages and people immediately 
separated him from Pavel Pavlovitch. He shrugged his 
shoulders and returned to his own vehicle. 

" It's all the same. I couldn't take such a fellow with 
me, anyhow," he reflected, still all of a tremble with excite- 
ment and the rage of disgust. When he repeated Maria 
Sisevna's story, and his meeting at the funeral, to Claudia 
Petrovna afterwards, the latter became buried in deep thought. 

" I am anxious for you," she said at last. " You must 
break off all relations with that man, and as soon as 
possible." 

** Oh, he's nothing but a drunken fool ! " cried Velchani- 
noff passionately ; " as if I am to be afraid of ^im ! And 
how can I break off relations with him? Remember 
Liza!" 



2l8 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

Meanwhile Liza was lying ill ; fever had set in last night, 
and an eminent doctor was momentarily expected from 
town ! He had been sent for early this morning. 

These news quite upset Velchaninoif. Claudia Petrovna 
took him in to see the patient. 

"I observed her very carefully yesterday," she said, 
stopping at the door of Liza's room before entering it. 
" She is a proud and morose child. She is ashamed of being 
with us, and of having been thrown over by her father. In 
my opinion that is the whole secret of her illness. 

** How * thrown over ' ? Why do you suppose that he 
has thrown her over ? " 

" The simple fact that he allowed her to come here to 
a strange house, and with a man who was also a stranger, 
or nearly so ; or, at all events, with whom his relations were 
such that " 

" Oh, but I took her myself, almost by force." 

Liza was not surprised to see Velchaninoif alone. She 
only smiled bitterly, and turned her hot face to the wall. 
She made no reply to his passionate promises to bring her 
father down to-morrow without fail, or to his timid attempts 
at consolation. 

As soon as VelchaninofT left the sick child^s presence, he 
biu'st into tears. 

The doctor did not arrive until evening. On seeing the 
patient he frightened everybody by his very first remark, 
observing that it was a pity he had not been sent for before. 

When informed that the child had only been taken ill 
last night, he could not believe it at first. 

" Well, it all depends upon how this night is passed, '* he 
decided at last. 

Having made all necessary arrangements, he took his 
departure, promising to come as early as possible next 
morning. 

Velchaninoif was anxious to stay the night, but Claudia 
Petrovna begged him to try once more " to bring down that 
brute of a man." 

** Try once more I " cried Velchaninoif, passionately ; 
" why, 1*11 tie him hand and foot and bring him along my- 
self I" 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 219 

The idea that he would tie Pavel Pavlovitch up and 
carry him down in his arms overpowered Velchaninoff, and 
filled him with impatience to execute his frantic desire. 

** I don't feel the slightest bit guilty before him any 
more/' he said to Claudia Petrovna, at parting, " and I with 
draw all my servile, abject words of yesterday — ^all I said 
. to you,'' he added, wrathfuUy. 

Liza lay with closed eyes, apparently asleep ; she seemed 
to be better. When Velchaninoff bent cautiously over her 
in order to kiss — -if it were but the edge of her bed linen — 
she suddenly opened her eyes, just as though she had been 
waiting for him, and whispered, " Take me away ! " 

It was but a quiet, sad petition — without a trace of yes- 
terday's irritation ; but at the same time there was that in 
her voice which betrayed that she made the request in the 
full knowledge that it could not be assented to. 

No sooner did Velchaninoflf, in despair, begin to assure 
her as tenderly as he could that what she desired was impos- 
sible, than she silently closed her eyes and said not another 
word, just as though she neither saw nor heard him. 

Arrived in town Velchaninoff told his man to drive him to 
the Pokrofsky. It was ten o'clock at night. 

Pavel Pavlovitch was not at his lodgings. Velchaninoff 
waited for him half an hour, walking up and down the 
passage in a state of feverish impatience. Maria Sisevna 
assured him at last that Pavel Pavlovitch would not come 
in until the small hours. 

" Well, then, I'll return here before daylight," he said, 
beside himself with desperation, and he went home to his 
own rooms. 

What was his amazement, when, on arriving at the gate 
of his house, he learned from Mavra that ''yesterday's 
visitor" had been waiting for him ever since before ten 
o'clock. 

"He's had some tea," she added, "and sent me for 
wine again — the same wine as yesterday. He gave me the 
money to buy it with." 



CHAPTER IX. 

Pavel Pavlovitch had made himself very comfortable. 
He was sitting in the same chair as he had occupied yester- 
day, smoking a cigar, and had just poured the fourth and 
last tumbler of champagne out of the bottle. 

The teapot and a half-emptied tumbler of tea stood on 
the table beside him ; his red face beamed with benevo- 
lence. He had taken off his coat, and sat in his shirt 
sleeves. 

"Forgive me, dearest of friends," he cried, catching 
sight of Velchaninoff, and hastening to put on his coat, "I 
took it off to make myself thoroughly comfortable." 

Velchaninoff approached him menacingly. 

" You are not quite tipsy yet, are you ? Can you under- 
stand what is said to you ? " 

Paul Pavlovitch became a little confused. 

"No, not quite. I've been thinking of the dear 
deceased a bit, but I'm not quite drunk yet." 

" Can you understand what I say ? " 

" My dear sir, I came here on purpose to understand 
you." 

" Very well, then I shall begin at once by telling you 
that you are an ass, sir ! " cried Velchaninoff, at the top of 
his voice. 

"Why, if you begin that way where will you end, I 
wonder ! " said Pavel Pavlovitch, clearly alarmed more than 
a little. 
220 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 221 

Velchaninoff did not listen, but roared again, 

" Your daughter is dying — she is very ill 1 Have you 
thrown her over altogether, or not ? " 

" Oh, surely she isn't dying yet ? '* 

" I tell you she's ill ; very, very ill — dangerously ill." 

"What, fits? or '' 

" Don't talk nonsense. I tell you she is very dangerously 
ill. You ought to go down, if only for that reason." 

" What, to thank your friends, eh ? to return thanks for 
their hospitality ? Of course, quite so ; I well understand, 
Alexey Ivanovitch — dearest of friends ! " He suddenly 
seized Velchaninoff by both hands, and added with 
intoxicated sentiment, almost melted to tears, " Alexey 
Ivanovitch, don't shout at me — don't shout at rae, please ! 
If you do, I may throw myself into the Neva — I don't 
know ! — and we have such important things to talk over. 
There's lots of time to go to the Pogoryeltseffs another 
day." 

Velchaninoff did his best to restrain his wrath. '*You 
are drunk, and therefore I don't understand what you are 
driving at," he said sternly. " I'm ready to come to an 
explanation with you at any moment you like — delighted ! 
— the sooner the better. But first let me tell you that I am 
going to take my own measures to secure you. You will 
sleep here to-night, and to-morrow I shall take you with me 
to see Liza. I shall not let you go again. I shall bind you, 
if necessary, and carry you down myself. How do you 
like this sofa to sleep on ? " he added, panting, and indicat- 
ing a wide, soft divan opposite his own sofa, against the 
other wall. 

" Oh — anything will do for rae ! " 

" Very well, you shall have this sofa. Here, take these 
things — here are sheets, blankets, pillow " (Velchaninoff 
pulled all these things out of a cupboard, and tossed them 
impatiently to Pavel Pavlovitch, who humbly stood and re- 
ceived them); "now then, make your bed, — come, bustle 
up!" 

Pavel Pavlovitch laden with bed clothes had been standing 
in the middle of the room with a stupid drunken leer on 
his face, irresolute ; but at Velchaninoffs second bidding 



222 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

he hurriedly began the task of making his bed, moving the 
table away from in front of it, and smoothing a sheet over 
the seat of the divan. Velchaninoff approached to help 
him. He was more or less gratified with his guest's alarm 
and submission. 

** Now, drink up that wine and lie down ! " was his next 
command. He felt that he must order this man about, he 
could not help himself. " I suppose you took upon your- 
self to order this wine, did you ? " 

"I did — I did, sir! I sent for the wine, Alexey 
Ivanovitch, because I knew you would not send out 
again !" 

"Well, it's a good thing that you knew that; but I 
desire that you should know still more. I give you notice 
that I have taken my own measures for the future, I'm not 
going to put up with any more of your antics." 

" Oh, I quite understand, Alexey Ivanovitch, that that 
sort of thing could only happen once ! '' said Pavel Pavlo- 
vitch, giggling feebly. 

At this reply Velchaninoff, who had been marching up 
and down the room stopped solemnly before Pavel Pavlo- 
vitch. 

" Pavel Pavlovitch," he said, ** speak plainly ! You are 
a clever fellow — I admit the fact freely, — but I assure you you 
are going on a false track now. Speak plainly, and act like 
an honest man, and I give you my word of honour that I 
will answer all you wish to know." 

Pavel Pavlovitch grinned his disagreeable grin (which 
always drove Velchaninoff wild) once more. 

" Wait ! " cried the latter. " No humbug now, please ; I 
see through you. I repeat that I give you my word of 
honour to reply candidly to anything you may like to ask, 
and to give you every sort of satisfaction — ^reasonable or 
even unreasonable — that you please. Oh/ how I wish I 
could make you understand me ! " 

** Since you are so very kind," began Pavel Pavlovitch, 
cautiously bending towards him, ** I may tell you that I 
am very much interested as to what you said yesterday 
about * bird of prey ' ? " 

Velchaninoff spat on the ground in utter despair 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 223 

and disgust, and recommenced his walk up and down the 
room, quicker than ever. 

** No, no, Alexey Ivanovitch, don't spurn my question ; 
you don't know how interested I am in it. I assure you I 
came here on purpose to ask you about it. I know I'm 
speaking indistinctly, but you'll forgive me that. I've read 
the expression before. Tell me now, was Bagantoff a * bird 
of prey,' or — the other thing? How is one to distinguish one 
from the other?" 

Velchaninoff went on walking up and down, and answered 
nothing for some minutes. 

"The bird of prey, sir," he began suddenly, stopping in 
front of Pavel Pavlovitch, and speaking vehemently, " is the 
man who would poison Bagantoff while drinking champagne 
with him under the cloak of goodfellowship, as you did with me 
yesterday, instead of escorting his wretched body to the 
burial ground as you did — the deuce only knows why, and with 
what dirty, mean, underhand, petty motives, which only 
recoil upon yourself and make you viler than you already 
are. Yes, sir, recoil upon yourself I " 

** Quite so, quite so, I oughtn't to have gone," assented 
Pavel Pavlovitch, " but aren't you a little " 

**The bird of prey is not a man who goes and learns his 
grievance off by heart, like a lesson, and whines it about 
the place, grimacing and posing, and hanging it round 
other people's necks, and who spends all his time in such 
pettifogging. Is it true you wanted to hang yourself? 
Come, is it true, or not ? " 

" I — I don't know — I may have when I was drunk — I 
don't remember. You see, Alexey Ivanovitch, it wouldn't 
be quite nice for me to go poisoning people. I'm too 
high up in the service, and I have money, too, you know — 
and I may wish to marry again, who knows." 

"Yes; you'd be sent to Siberia, which would be 
awkward." 

" Quite so ; though they say the penal servitude is not so 
bad as it was. But you remind me of an anecdote, Alexey 
Ivanovitch. I thought of it in the carriage, and meant to 
tell you afterwards. Well ! you may remember Liftsoff at 
T . He came while you were there. His younger 



224 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

brother — who is rather a swell, too — was serving at L 

under the governor, and one fine day he happened to 
quarrel with Colonel Golubenko in the presence of ladies, 
and of one lady especially. Liftsoff considered himself in- 
sulted, but concealed his grievance; and, meanwhile, 
Golubenko proposed to a certain lady and was accepted. 
Would you believe it, LiftsofF made great friends with 
Golubenko, and even volunteered to be best man at his 
wedding. But when the ceremony was all over, and LiftsofF 
approached the bridegroom to wish him joy and kiss him, 
as usual, he took the opportunity of sticking a knife into 
Golubenko. Fancy ! his own best man stuck him ! Well, 
what does the assassin do but run about the room 
crying. * Oh ! what have I done ? Oh ! what have I done ? ' 
says he, and throws himself on everyone's neck by turns, 
ladies and all ! Ha-ha-ha ! He starved to death in Siberia, 
sir ! One is a little sorry for Golubenko ; but he recovered, 
after all." 

'* I don't understand why you told me that story," said 
Velchaninoff, frowning heavily. 

'* Why, because he stuck the other fellow with a knife,'' gig- 
gled Pavel Pavlovitch, ** which proves that he was no type, 
but an ass of a fellow, who could so forget the ordinary 
manners of society as- to hang around ladies' necks, and in 
the presence of the governor, too — and yet he stuck the 
other fellow. Ha-ha-ha ! He did what he intended to do, 
that's all, sir 1 " 

**Go to the devil, will you — ^you and your miserable 
humbug — you miserable humbug yourself," yelled Velchani- 
noff, wild with rage and fury, and panting so that he could 
hardly get his words out. **You think you are going to 
alarm me^ do you, you frightener of children— you mean 
beast — ^you low scoundrel you? — scoundrel — scoundrel — 
scoundrel ! " He had quite forgotten himself in his rage. 

Pavel Pavlovitch shuddered all over; his drunkenness 
seemed to vanish in an instant; his lips trembled and 
shook. 

"Are you calling me a scoundrel, Alexey Ivanovitch — 
you — /w^f 

But Velchaninoff was himself again now. 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 22$ 

" I'll apologise if you like/' he said, and relapsed into 
gloomy silence. After a moment he added, " But only on 
condition that you yourself agree to speak out fully, and 
at once." 

" In your place I should apologise unconditionally, Alexey 
Ivanovitch." 

** Very well ; so be it then. " VelchaninofF was silent 
again for a while. " I apologise,'' he resumed ; " but 
admit yourself, Pavel Pavlovitch, that I need not feel my- 
self in any way bound to you after this. I mean with regard 
to anything — not only this particular matter." 

" All right 1 Why, what is there to settle between us ? '^ 
laughed Pavel Pavlovitch, without looking up. 

" In that case, so much the better — so much the better. 
Come, drink up your wine and get into bed, for I shall not 
let you go now, anyhow." 

" Oh, my wine — never mind my wine 1 " muttered Pavel 
Pavlovitch; but he went to the table all the same, and 
took up his tumbler of champagne which had long been 
poured out. Either he had been drinking copiously before, 
or there was some other unknown cause at work, but his 
hand shook so as he drank the wine that a quantity of it 
was spilled over his waistcoat and the floor. However, he 
drank it all, to the last drop, as though he could not leave 
the tumbler without emptying it. He then placed the 
empty glass on the table, approached his bed, sat down on 
it, and began to undress. 

" I think perhaps I had better not sleep here," he said 
suddenly, with one boot off, and half undressed. 

"Well, I don't think so,'* said Velchaninoff, who was 
walking up and down, without looking at him. 

Pavel Pavlovitch finished undressing and lay down. A 
quarter of an hour later VelchaninofF also got into bed, and 
put the candle out 

He soon began to doze uncomfortably. Some new 
trouble seemed to have suddenly come over him and 
worried him, and at the same time he felt a sensation of 
shame that he could allow himself to be worried by 
the- new trouble. Velchaninoff was just falling definitely 
asleep, however, when a rustling sound awoke him. He 



226 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

immediately glanced at Pavel Pavlovitch's bed. The room 
was quite dark, the blinds being down and curtains drawn ; 
but it seemed to him that Pavel Pavlovitch was not lying in 
his bed ; he seemed to be sitting on the side of it. 

" What's the matter ? " cried Velchaninoff. 

'* A ghost, sir," said Pavel Pavlovitch, in a low tone, after 
a few moments of silence. 

" What ? What sort of a ghost ? '* 

" Th — there — in that room — just at the door, I seemed 
to see a ghost ! " 

"Whose ghost?" asked Velchaninoff, pausing a minute 
before putting the question. 

** Natalia Vasilievna's 1 " 

Velchaninoff jumped out of bed and walked to the door, 
whence he could see into the room opposite, across the 
passage. There were no curtains in that room, so that it 
was much lighter than his own. 

" There's nothing there at all. You are drunk ; lie down 
again ! " he said, and himself set the example, rolling his 
blanket around him. 

Pavel Pavlovitch said nothing, but lay down as he was 
told. 

" Did you ever see any ghosts before?" asked Velchaninoff 
suddenly, ten minutes later. 

" I think I saw one once," said Pavel Pavlovitch in the 
same low voice ; after which there was silence once more. 
Velchaninoff was not sure whether he had been asleep or 
not, but an hour or so had passed, when suddenly he was 
wide awake again. Was it a rustle that awoke him? He 
could not tell ; but one thing was evident — in the midst of 
the profound darkness of the room something white stood 
before him ; not quite close to him, but about the middle 
of the room. He sat up in bed, and stared for a full 
minute. 

" Is that you, Pavel Pavlovitch ? " he asked. His voice 
sounded very weak. 

There was no reply; but there was not the slightest 
doubt of the fact that someone was standing there. 

"Is that you, Pavel Pavlovitch?" cried Velchaninoff 
again, louder this time ; in fact, so loud that if the former 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 227 

had been asleep in bed he must have started up and 
answered. 

But there was no reply again. It seemed to Velchaninoflf 
that the white figure had approached nearer to him. 

Then something strange happened ; something seemed 
to " let go " within Velchaninoff s system, and he commenced 
to shout at the top of his voice, just as he had done once 
before this evening, in the wildest and maddest way 
possible, panting so that he could hardly articulate his 
words : " If you — drunken ass that you are — dare to think 
that you could frighten me^ 111 turn my face to the wall, 
and not look round once the whole night, to show you how 
little I am afraid of you — a fool like you — if you stand there 
from now till morning I I despise you ! " So saying, 
Velchaninoff twisted round with his face to the wall, rolled 
his blanket round him, and lay motionless, as though 
turned to stone. A deathhke stillness supervened. 

Did the ghost stand where it was, or had it moved ? He 
could not tell ; but his heart beat, and beat, and beat — 
At least five minutes went by, and then, not a couple of 
paces from his bed, there came the feeble voice of Pavel 
Pavlovitch : 

"I got up, Alexey Ivanovitch, to look for a little water. 
I couldn't find any. and was just going to look about nearer 
your bed " 

" Then why didn't you answer when I called ? '' cried 
Velchaninoff angrily, after a minute's pause. 

** I was frightened \ you shouted so, you alarmed me ! " 

" You'll find a caraffe and glass over there, on the little 
table. Light a candle." 

" Oh, I'll find it without. You'll forgive me, Alexey 
Ivanovitch, for frightening you so; I felt thirsty so 
suddenly." 

But Velchaninoff said nothing. He continued to lie with 
his face to the wall, and so he lay all night, without turning 
round once. Was he anxious to keep his word and show 
his contempt for Pavel Pavlovitch ? He did not know 
himself why he did it ; his nervous agitation and perturbation 
were such that he could not sleep for a long while, he felt 
quite delirious. At last he fell asleep, and awoke at past 



228 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

nine o'clock next morning. He started up just as though 
someone had struck him, and sat down on the side of his 
bed. But Pavel Pavlovitch was not to be seen. His 
empty, rumpled bed was there, but its occupant had flown 
before daybreak. 

" I thought so 1 '* cried Velchaninoff, bringing the palm 
of his right hand smartly to his forehead. 



CHAPTER X. 



The doctor's anxiety was justified; Liza grew worse, so 
much so that it was clear she was far more seriously ill 
than Velchaninoff and Claudia Petrovna had thought the 
day before. 

When the former arrived in the morning, Liza was still 
conscious, though burning with fever. He assured his 
friend Claudia, afterwards, that the child had smiled at him 
and held out her little hot hand. Whether she actually did 
so, or whether he so much longed for her to do so that he 
imagined it done, is uncertain. 

By the evening, however, Liza was quite unconscious^ 
and so she remained during the whole of her illness. Tea 
days after her removal to the country she died. 

This was a sad period for Velchaninoff; the PogoryeltsefTs 
were quite anxious on his account. He was with them for 
the greater part of the time, and during the last few days of 
the little one's illness, he used to sit all alone for hours 
together in some comer, apparently thinking of nothing. 
Claudia Petrovna would attempt to distract him but he 
hardly answered her, and conversation was clearly painful 
to him. Claudia was quite surprised that " all this " should 
affect him so deeply. 

The children were the best consolation and distraction 

for him ; with them he could even laugh and play at inter* 

vals. Every hour, at least, he would rise from his chair 

and creep on tip-toes to the sick-room to look at the little 

229 Q 



230 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

invalid. Sometimes he imagined that she knew him ; he 
had no hope for her recovery — none of the family had any 
hope ; but he never left the precincts of the child's cham- 
ber, sitting principally in the next room. 

Twice, however, he had evinced great activity of a 
sudden; he bad jumped up and started off for town, where 
he had called upon all the most eminent doctors of the 
place, and arranged consultations between them. The last 
consultation was on the day before Liza's death. 

Claudia Petrovna had spoken seriously to him a day or 
two since, as to the absolute necessity of hunting up Pavel 
Pavlovitch Trusotsky, because in case of anything happen- 
ing to Liza, she could not be buried without certain docu- 
ments from him. 

Velchaninoff promised to write to him, and did write a 
couple of lines, which he took to the Pokrofsky. Pavel 
Pavlovitch was not at home, as usual, but he left the letter 
to the care of Maria Sisevna. 

At last Liza died — on a lovely summer evening, just as 
the sun was setting ; and only then did Velchaninoff rouse 
himself. 

When the little one was laid out, all covered with 
flowers, and dressed in a fair white frock belonging to one 
of Claudia Petrovna's children, Velchaninoff came up to 
the lady of the house, and told her with flashing eyes that 
he would now go and fetch the murderer. Regardless of 
all advice to put off his search until to-morrow he started 
for town immediately. 

He knew where to find Pavel Pavlovitch. He had not 
been in town exclusively to find the doctors those two days. 
Occasionally, while watching the dying child, he had been 
struck with the idea that if he could only find and bring 
down Pavel Pavlovitch she might hear his voice and be 
called back, as it were, from the darkness of delirium ; at 
such moments he had been seized with desperation, and 
twice he had started up and driven wildly off to town in 
order to find Pavel Pavlovitch.. 

The tatter's room was the same as before, but it was 
useless to look for him there, for, according to Maria 
Sisevna's report, he was now two or three days absent from 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 2$! 

home at a stretch, and was generally to be found with some 
friends in the Voznecensky. 

Arrived in town about ten o'clock, Velchaninoff went 
straight to these latter people, and securing the services of 
a member of the family to assist in finding Pavel Pavlovitch, 
set out on his quest. He did not know what he should do 
with Pavel Pavlovitch when found, whether he should kill 
him then and there, or simply inform him of the death of 
the child, and of the necessity for his assistance in arranging 
for her funeral. After a long and fruitless search 
Velchaninoff found Pavel Pavlovitch quite accidentally ; he 
was quarreUing with some person in the street — tipsy as 
usual, and seemed to be getting the worst of the contro- 
versy, which appeared to be about a money claim. 

On catching sight of Velchaninoff, Pavel Pavlovitch 
stretched out his arms to him and begged for help ; while 
his opponent — observing Velchaninoffs athletic figure — 
made off. Pavel Pavlovitch shook his fist after him 
triumphantly, and hooted at him with cries of victory ; but 
this amusement was brought to a sudden conclusion by 
Velchaninoff, who, impelled by some mysterious motive — 
which he could not analyse, took him by the shoulders, 
and began to shake him violently, so violently that his 
teeth chattered. 

Pavel Pavlovitch ceased to shout after his opponent, arid 
gazed with a stupid tipsy expression of alarm at his new 
antagonist. Velchaninoff, having shaken him till he was 
tired, and not knowing what to do next with him, set him 
down violently on the pavement, backwards, 

" Liza is dead ! " he said. 

Pavel Pavlovitch sat on the pavement and stared, he was 
too far gone to take in the news. At last he seemed to 
realize. 

" Dead I " he whispered, in a strange inexplicable tone. 
Velchaninoff was not sure whether his face was simply 
twitching, or whether he was trying to grin in his usual dis- 
agreeable way ; but the next moment the drunkard raised 
his shaking hand to cross himself. He then struggled to 
his feet and staggered off, appearing totally oblivious oi the 
fact that such a person as Velchaninoff existed. 

Q-2 



2^2 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

However, the latter very soon pursued and caught him, 
seizing him once more by the shoulder. 

" Do you understand, you drunken sot, that without you 
the funeral arrangements cannot be made ? *' he shouted, 
panting with rage. 

Pavel Pavlovitch turned his head. 

"The artillery— lieutenant — don't you remember him ? '* 
he muttered, thickly. 

*' IV/iaf ? " cried Velchaninoff, with a shudder. 

" He's her father—find him ! he'll bury her ! " 

" You liar ! You said that out of pure malice. I thought 
you'd invent something of the sort!" 

Quite beside himself with passion Velchaninoff brought 
down his powerful fist with all his strength on Pavel Pavlo- 
vitch's head ; another moment and he might have followed 
up the blow and slain the man as he stood. His victim never 
winced, but he turned upon Velchaninoff a face of such 
insane terrible passion, that his whole visage looked distorted. 

" Do you understand Russian ? " he asked more firmly, 
as though his fury had chased away the effects of drunken- 
ness. ** Very well, then, you are a ! " (here followed a 

specimen of the very vilest language which the Russian 
tongue could furnish) ; " and now you can go back to her ! " 
So saying he tore himself from Velchaninoff's grasp, nearly 
knocking himself over with the effort, and staggered away. 
Velchaninoff did not follow him. 

Next day, however, a most respectable-looking middle- 
aged man arrived at the Pogoryeltseft's house, in civil uni- 
form, and handed to Claudia Petrovna a packet addressed 
to her " from Pavel Pavlovitch Trusotsky." 

In this packet was a sum of three hundred roubles, to- 
gether with all certificates necessary for Liza's funeral. 
Pavel Pavlovitch had written a short note couched in very 
polite and correct phraseology, and thanking Claudia 
Petrovna sincerely " for her great kindness to the orphan — 
kindness for which heaven alone could recompense her.'* 
He added rather confusedly that severe illness prevented 
his personal presence at the funeral of his " tenderly loved 
and unfortunate daughter," but that he " felt he could repose 
all confidence (as to the ceremony being fittingly performed) 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND, 233 

in the angelic goodness of Claudia Petrovna.*' The three 
hundred roubles, he explained, were to go towards the 
funeral and other expenses. If there should be any of the 
money left after defraying all charges, Claudia Petrovna 
was requested to spend the same in prayers for the repose 
of the soul of the deceased. 

Nothing further was to be discovered by questioning the 
messenger ; and it was soon evident that the latter knew 
nothing, excepting that he had only consented to act as 
bearer of the packet, in response to the urgent appeal of 
Pavel Pavlovitch. 

Pogoryeltseff was a little offended by the offer of money 
for expenses, and would have sent it back, but CUudia 
Petrovna suggested that a receipt should be taken from the 
cemetery authorities for the cost of the funeral (since one 
could not well refuse to allow a man to bury his own child), 
together with a document undertaking that the rest of the 
three hundred roubles should be spent in prayer for the 
soul of Liza. 

Velchaninoff afterwards posted an envelope containing 
these two papers to Trusotsky's lodging. 

After the funeral Velchaninoff disappeared from the country 
altogether. He wandered about town for a whole fort- 
night, knocking up against people as he went blindly through 
the streets. Now and then he spent a whole day lying in 
his bed, oblivious of the most ordinary needs and occupa- 
tions ; the Pogoryeltseffs often invited him to their house, 
and he invariably promised to come, and as invariably for- 
got all about it. Claudia Petrovna went as far as to call 
for him herself, but she did not find him at home. The 
same thing happened with his lawyer, who had some good 
news to tell him. The difference with his opponent had been 
settled advantageously for Velchaninoff, the former having 
accepted a small bonification and renounced his claim to 
the property in dispute. All that was wanting was the formal 
acquiescence of Velchaninoff himself. 

Finding him at home at last, after many endeavours, the 
lawyer was excessively surprised to discover that Velchaninoff 
was as callous and cool as to the result of his (the lawyer's) 
labours, as he had before been ardent and Cixcitable. 



234 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

The hottest days of July had now arrived, but Velchaninoff 
was oblivious of everything. His grief swelled and ached 
at his heart hke sonae internal boil; his greatest sorrow 
was that Liza had not had time to know him, and died 
without ever guessing how fondly he loved her. The 
sweet new beacon of his life, which had glimmered for a short 
while within his heart, was extinguished once more, and 
lost in eternal gloom. 

The whole object of his existence, as he now told himself 
at every moment, should have been that Liza might feel his 
love about her and around her, each day, each hour, each 
moment of her life. 

"There can be no higher aim or object than this in 
life," he thought, in gloomy ecstasy. " If there be other 
aims in life, none can be holier or better than this of mine. 
All my old unworthy life should have been purified and 
atoned for by my love for liza ; in place of myself— my 
sinful, worn-out, useless hfe — I should have bequeathed to the 
world a sweet, pure, beautiful being, in whose innocence all 
my guilt should have been absorbed, and lost, and forgiven, 
and in her I should have forgiven myself." 

Such thoughts would flit through Velchaninoffs head 
as he mused sorrowfully over the memory ot the dead 
child. He thought over all he had seen of her; he 
recalled her little face all burning with fever, then lying 
at rest in her coffin, covered with lovely flowers. He 
remembered that once he had noticed that one of her 
fingers was quite black from some bruise or pinch — 
goodness knows what had made it so, but it was the sight 
of that little finger which had filled him with'longing to go 
straight away and murder Pavel Pavlovitch. 

" Do you know what Liza is to me ? " Pavel had said, 
he recollected, one day ; and now he understood the ex- 
clamation. It was no pretence of love, no posturing and 
nonsense — ^it was real love ! How, then, could the wretch 
have been so cruel to a child whom he so dearly loved ? 
He could not bear to think of it, the question was painful, 
and quite unanswerable. 

One day he wandered down— he knew not exactly how — 
to the cemetery where Liza was buried, and hunted up her 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 235 

grave. This was the first time he had been there since the 
funeral ; he had never dared to go there before, fearing 
that the visit would be too painful. But strangely enough, 
when he found the little mound and had bent down and 
kissed it, he felt happier and lighter at heart than before. 

It was a lovely evening, the sun was setting, the tall grass 
waved about the tombs, and a bee hummed somewhere 
near him. The flowers and crosses placed on the tomb by 
Claudia Petrovna were still there. A ray of hope blazed 
up in his heart for the first time for many a Ipng day. ** How 
light-hearted I feel, " he thought, as he felt the spell ot the 
quiet of God's Acre, and the hush of the beautiful still 
evening. A flow of some indefinable faith in something 
. poured into his heart. 

"This is Liza's gift,^' he thought; "this is Liza herself 
talking to me 1" . 

It was quite dark when he Irft the cemetery and turned 
his steps homewards. 

Not far from the gate of the burial ground there stood a 
small inn or public-house, and through the open windows 
he could see the people inside sitting at tables. It in- 
stantly struck Velchaninoff that one of the guests, sitting 
nearest to the window, was Pavel Pavlovitch, and that the 
latter had seen him and was observing him curiously. 

He went on further, but before very long he heard foot- 
steps pursuing him. It was, of course, Pavel Pavlovitch. Pro- 
bably the unusually serene and peaceful expression of 
VelchaninofTs face as he w&oA by had attracted and 
encouraged him. 

He soon caught Velchaninoff" up, and smiled timidly at 
him, but not with the old drunken grin. He did not 
appear to be in the smallest degree drunk. 

**Good evening," said Pavel Pavlovitch 

'< How d'ye do ?" replied Velchaninoff*. 



CHAPTER XL 



By replying thus to Pavel Pavlovitch's greeting Velchaninoff 
surprised himself. It seemed strange indeed to him that he 
should now meet this man without any feeling of anger, and 
that there should be something quite novel in his feelings 
towards Pavel Pavlovitch — a sort of call to new relations 
with him. 

** What a lovely evening !" said Pavel Pavlovitch, look- 
ing observantly into the other's eyes. 

" So you haven't gone away yet ! '' murmured Velchaninoff, 
not in a tone of inquiry, but as though musing upon the 
fact as he continued to walk on. 

" IVe been a good deal delayed ; but I've obtained my 
petition, my new post, with rise of salary, I'm off the day 
after to-morrow for certain." 

" What ? You've obtained the new situation ? " 

"And why not ? " said Pavel Pavlovitch, with a crooked 
smile. 

" Oh, I meant nothing particular by my remark ! " said- 
Velchaninoff frowning, and glancing sidelong at his com- 
panion. To his surprise Pavel Pavlovitch, both in dress and 
appearance, even down to the hat with the crape band, 
was incomparably neater and tidier-looking than he was 
wont to be a fortnight since. 

" Why was he sitting in the public-house then ? " thought 
Velchaninoff. This fact puzzled him much. 

" I wished to let you know of my other great joy, Alexey 
Ivanovitch ! " resumed Pavel. 
236 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 237 

"Joy?" 

** I'm going to many. '* 

'* What ? '* 

" Yes, sir ! after sorrow, joy ! It is ever thus in life. 
Oh ! Alexey Ivanovitch, I should so much like if — but you 
look as though you were in a great hurry/' 

" Yes, I am in a hurry, and 1 am ill besides." He felt as 
though he would give anything to get ricj of the man ; the 
feeling of readiness to develop new and better relations with 
him had vanished in a moment. 

" I should so much like " 

Pavel Pavlovitch did not finish his sentence ; Velchaninoff 
kept silence and waited. 

" In that case, perhaps another time —if we should happen 
to meet." 

'*Yes, yes, another time," said Velchaninoff quickly, 
continuing to move along, and never looking at his 
companion. 

Nothing was said for another minute or two. Pavel 
Pavlovitch continued to trot alongside. 

" In that case, au revoir^' he blurted, at last. " Au 
revoir / I hope " 

Velchaninoff did not think it necessary tohearhimcomplete 
his sentence ; he left Pavel, and returned home much agitated. 
The meeting with '* that fellow " had been too much for his 
present state of mind. As he lay down upon his bed the 
thought came over him once more : " Why was that fellow 
there, close to the cemetery?" He determined to go 
down to the Pogoryeltseffs' next morning ; not that he 
felt inclined to go — any sympathy was intolerably painful 
to him, — but they had been so kind and so anxious 
about him, that he must really make up his mind to go. 
But next day, while finishing his breakfast, he felt terribly 
disinclined for the visit ; he felt, as it were, shy of meeting 
them for the first time after his grief. " Shall I go or not ? " 
he was saying to himself, as he sat at his table. When 
suddenly, to his extreme amazement, in walked Pavel 
Pavlovitch. 

In spite of yesterday's rencontre^ Velchaninoff could not 
have believed that this man would ever enter his rooms again ; 



S^B Tim PEJ^MANENT JWJSBAND. 

and when he now saw him appear, he gazed at him in such 
absolute astonishment, that he simply did not know what to 
say. But Pavel Pavlovitch took the management of the 
matter into his own hands ; he said " good morning,'' and sat 
down in the very same chair which he had occupied on his 
last visit, three weeks since. 

This circumstance reminded Velchaninoff too painfully of 
that visit, and he glared at his visitor with disgust and 
3ome agitation. 

"You are surprised, I see!'' said Pavel Payloyitch, 
reading the other's expression. 

He seemed to be both freer, more at his ease, and yet 
more timid than yesterday. His outward appearance was 
very curious to behold ; for Pavel Pavlovitch was not only 
nearly dressed, he was " got up " in the pink of fashion. 
He had on a neat summer overcoat, with a pair of light 
trousers and a white waistcoat; his gloves, his gold eye- 
glasses (quite a new acquisition), and his linen were quite 
above all criticism ; he wafted an odour of sweet scent 
when he moved. He looked funny, but W$ appearance 
awakened strange thoughts besides. 

" Of course I have surprised you, Alexey lyanovitch,'' he 
said, twisting himself about ; " I see it. But in my opinion 
there should be a something exalted, something higher — im- 
touched and unattainable by petty discords, or the ordinary 
conditions of life, between man and man. Don't you agree 
with me, sir ? " 

** Pavel Pavlovitch, say what you have to say as quickly as 
you can, and without further ceremony," said Velchaninoff, 
frowning angrily. 

" In a couple of words, sir," said Pavel, hurriedly, " I 
am going to be marrieTi, and I am now off to see my bride — 
at once. She lives in the country ; and what I desire is, 
the profound honour of introducing you to the family, sir ; 
in fact, I have come here to petition you, sir" (Pavel 
Pavlovitch bent his head deferentially) — " to beg you to go 
down with me." 

" Go down with you ? Where to ? " cried the ot}ier> Jiis 
^yes starting out of his head. 

" To thfsir house in the country, sir. for^yemfi, my 4ear 



TUM> PERMANENT HUSBAND. 239 

sir, if I am too agitated, and confuse my words; 
but I am so dreadfully afraid of hearing you refuse 
me/' 

He looked at Velchaninoff plaintively. 

" You wish me to accompany you to see your bride ? " 
said Velchaninoff, staring keenly at Pavel Pavlovitch ; he 
could not believe either his eyes or his ears. 

'* Yes — ^yes, sir I " murmured Pavel, who had suddenly 
become timid to a painful degreel "Don*t be angry, 
Alexey Ivanovitch, it is not my audacity that prompts me 
to ask you this ; I do it with all humihty, and conscious of 
the unusual nature of my petition. I — I thought perhaps 
you would not refuse my humble request." 

" In the first place, the thing is absolutely out of the 
question," said Velchaninoff, turning away in considerable 
mental perturbation. 

" It is only my immeasurable longing that prompts me to 
ask you. I confess I have a reason for desiring it, which 
reason I propose to reveal to you afterwards; just now 

" The thing is quite impossible, however you may look 
at it. You must admit yourself that it is so ! " cried 
Velchaninoff. Both men had risen from their chairs in the 
excitement of the conversation. 

" Not at all — not at all ; it is quite possible, sir. In the 
first place, I merely propose to introduce you as my friend ; 
and in the second place, you know the family already, the 
Zachlebnikoff's— State Councillor Zachlebnikoff 1 " 

" What ? how so ? " cried Velchaninoff. This was the 
very man whom he had so often tried to find at home, and 
whom he never succeeded in hunting down — the very 
lawyer who hadj acted for his adversary in the late legal 
proceedings. 

"Why, certainly-^certainly 1" cried Pavel Pavlovitch, 
apparently taking heart at VelchaninofTs extreme display of 
amazement. " The very same man whom I saw you talk- 
ing to in the street one day ; when I watched you from the 
other side of the road, I was waiting my turn to speak to 
him then. We served in the same department twelve years 
since. I had jao thought of all this that day I saw you 



240 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

with him ; the whole idea is quite new and sudden — only a 
week old.'* 

" But — excuse me ; why, surely this is a most respectable 
family, isn't it ? " asked Velchaninoff, naively. 

" Well, and what if it is respectable ? " said Pavel, with a 
twist. 

"Oh, no — of course, I meant nothing; but, so far as I could 
judge from what I saw, there " 

*• They remember — they remember your coming down," 
cried Pavel delightedly. " I told them all sorts of flattering 
things about you.*' 

" But, look here, how are you to marry within three months 
of your late wife's death ? " 

" Oh ! the wedding needn't be at once. The wedding can 
come off in nine or ten months, so that I shall have been in 
mourning exactly a year. Believe me, my dear sir, it's all 
most charming — first place, Fedosie Petrovitch has known 
me since I was a child ; he knew my late wife ; he knows 
how much income I have ; he knows all about my Httle 
private capital, and all about my new increase of salary. 
So that you see the whole thing is a mere matter of weights 
and scales." 

" Is she a daughter of his, then ? " 

" I'll tell you all about it," said Pavel, licking his lips 
with pleasure. ** May I smoke a cigarette ? Now, you 
see, men like Fedosie Petrovitch ZachlebnikofF are much 
valued in the State ; but, excepting for a few perquisites 
allowed them, the pay is wretched ; they live well enough, 
but they cannot possibly lay by money. Now, imagine, 
this man has eight daughters and only one little boy : if he 
were to die there would be nothing but a wretched little 
pension to keep the lot of them. Just imagine now — boois 
alone for such a family, eh ? Well, out of these eight girls 
five are marriageable, the eldest is twenty-four already (a 
splendid girl, she is, you shall see her for yourself). The 
sixth is a girl of fifteen, still at school. Well, all those five 
elder girls have to be trotted about and shown off, and what 
does all that sort of thing cost the poor father, sir ? They 
must be married. Then suddenly I appear on the scene 
' — the first probable bridegroom in the family, and they all 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 241 

know that I have money. Well, there you are, sir — the 
thing's done.'* 

Pavel Pavlovitch was intoxicated with enthusiasm. 

" Are you engaged to the eldest ? " 

" N — no ; — not the eldest. I am wooing the sixth girl, 
the one at school." 

**What?'' cried Velchaninoff, laughing in spite himself. 
" Why, you say yourself she's only fifteen years old." 

** Fifteen now^ sir ; but she'll be sixteen in nine months — 
sixteen and three months — so why not ? It wouldn't be quite 
nice to make the engagement public just yet, though ; so 
there's to be nothing formal at present, it's only a private 
arrangement between the parents and myself so far. Believe 
me, my dear sir, the whole thing is apple-pie, regular and 
charming." 

**Then it isn't quite settled yet?" 

" Oh, quite settled— quite settled. Believe me, it's all as 
right and tight as " 

" Does she know ? " 

" Well, you see) just for form's sake, it is not actually 
talked about — to her I mean, — but she kncnvs well enough. 
Oh! now you will make me happy this once, Alexey 
Ivanovitch, won't you?" he concluded, with extreme 
timidity of voice and manner. 

** But why should / go with you ? However," added 
Velchaninoff impatiently, '* as I am not going in any case, I 
don't see why I should hear any reasons you may adduce 
for my accompanying you." 

** Alexey Ivanovitch I " 

" Oh, come 1 you don't suppose I am going to sit down 
in a carriage with you alongside, and drive down there t 
Come, just think for yourself ! " 

The feeling of disgust and displeasure which Pavel 
Pavlovitch had awakened in him before, had now started 
into life again after the momentary distraction of the man's 
foolery about his bride. He felt that in another minute or 
two he might kick the fellow out before he realized what he 
was doing. He felt angry with himself for some reason or 
other. 

** Sit down, Alexey Ivanovitch, sit down ! You shall not 



24a THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

repent it 1 " said Pavel Pavlovitch in a wheedling voice. 
" No, no, no I " he added, deprecating the impatient 
gesture which Velchaninoff made at this moment. 
**Alexey Ivanovitch, I entreat you to pause before you 
decide definitely. 1 see you have quite misunderstood 
me. I quite realize that I am not for you, nor you for me ! 
I am not quite so absurd as to be unaware of that fact. 
The service I ask of you now shall not compromise you in 
any way for the future. I am going away the day after to- 
morrow, for certain ; let this one day be an exceptional 
one for me, sir. I came to you founding my hopes upon 
the generosity and nobility of your heart, Alexey Ivanovitch 
— upon those special tender feelinejs which may, perhaps, 
have been aroused in you by late events. Am I explaining 
myself clearly, sir ; or do you still misunderstand me ? '* 

The agitation of Pavel Pavlovitch was increasing with 
every moment. 

Velchaninoff gazed curiously at him. 

" You ask a service of me,*' he said thoughtfully, " and 
insist strongly upon my performance of it. This is very 
suspicious, in my opinion ; I must know more.'' 

"The whole service I ask is merely that you will come 
with me ; and I promise, when we return that I will lay bare 
my heart to you as though we were at a confessional. Trust 
me this once, Alexey Ivanovitch 1 " 

But Velchaninoff still held out, and the more obstinately 
because he was conscious of a certain worrying feeling 
which he had had ever since Pavel Pavlovitch began to 
talk about his bride. Whether this feeling was simple 
curiosity, or something quite inexplicable, he knew not. 
Whatever it was it urged him to agre^, and go. And the 
more the instinct urged him, the more he resisted it. 

He sat and thought for a long time, his head resting on 
his hand, while Pavel Pavlovitch buzzed about him and 
continued to repeat his arguments. 

" Very well," he said at last, " very well. 111 go." He 
was agitated almost to trembling pitch. Pavel was radiant. 

" Then, Alexey Ivanovitch, change your clothes — dress 
up, will you ? Dress up in your own style — ^)'ou know so 
well how to do it.*' 



THE PERMANENT HtJSBAND. ^4^ 

Pavel Pavlovhch danced about VelchaninofF as he 
dressed. His state of mind was exuberantly blissful. 

" What in the world does the fellow mean by it all ? " 
thought Velchaninoff. 

" I'm going to ask you one more favour yet, Alexey Ivano^ 
vitch," cried the other. " YouVe consented to come ; you 
must be my guide, sir, too.*' 

" For instance, how ? " 

" Well, for instance, here's an important question — the 
crape. Which ought I to do— tear it off, or leave it on ? '* 

"Just as you like." 

" No, I want your opinion. What should you do your- 
self, if you were wearing crape, under the circumstances ? 
My own idea was, that if I left it on, I should be giving: a 
proof of the fidelity of my affections. A very flattering 
recommendation, eh, sir ? " 

** Oh, take it off, of course." 

" Do you really think it's a matter of * of course ' ? " 
Pavel Pavlovitch reflected. " No," he continued, " do you 
know, I think I'd rather leave it on." 

" Well, do as you hke ! He doesn't trust me, at all events, 
which is one good thing," thought Velchaninoff. 

They left the house at last. Pavel looked over his com- 
panion's smart costume with intense satisfaction. Velchani- 
noff was greatly surprised at Pavel's conduct, but not less 
so at his own. At the gate there stood a very superior open 
carriage. 

" H'm ! so you had a carriage in waiting, had you ? Then 
you were quite convinced that I would consent to come 
down with you, I suppose ? " 

" I took the carriage for my own use, but I was nearly 
sure you would come," said Pavel Pavlovitch, who wore the 
air of a man whose cup of happiness is full to the brim. 

" Don't you think you are a little too sanguine in trusting 
so much to my benevolence ? " asked VelchaninofF, as they 
took their seats and started. He smiled as he spoke, but 
his heart was full of annoyance. 

" Well, Alexey Ivanovitch, it is not for you to call me a 
fool for that," replied Pavel, fifrmly and impressively. 

" H'nft! and Liza?" thought Velchaninoff, but he chasefd 



244 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

the idea away, he felt as though it were sacrilege to think of 
her here ; and immediately another thought came in, namely, 
how small, how petty a creature ^he must be himself to har- 
bour such a thought — such a mean, paltry sentiment in con- 
nection with Liza's sacred name. So angry was he, that he 
felt as though he must stop the carriage and get out, even 
though it cost him a struggle with Pavel Pavlovitch to do so. 

But at this moment Pavel spoke, and the old feeling of 
desire to go with him re-entered his soul. " Alexey Ivano- 
vitch," Pavel said, " are you a judge of articles of value ? " 

" What sort of articles ? '' 

" Diamonds." 

"Yes/' 

" I wish to take down a present with me. What do you 
think ? Ought I to give her one, or not ? " 

" Quite unnecessary, I should think.'* 

'* But I wish to do it, badly- The only thing is, what 
shall I give ? — a whole set, brooch, ear-rings, bracelet, and 
all, or only one article ? " 

" How much do you wish to spend ? " 

" Oh, four or five hundred roubles." 

" Bosh I " 

*'What, too much?" 

" Buy one bracelet for about a hundred." 

This advice depressed Pavel Pavlovitch ; he grew won- 
drous melancholy. He was terribly anxious to spend a lot 
of money, and buy the whole set. He insisted upon the 
necessity of doing so. 

A shop was reached and entered, and Pavel bought a 
bracelet after all, and that not the one he chose himself, but 
the one which his companion fixed upon. Pavel wished to 
buy both. When the shopman, who originally asked one 
hundred and seventy five, let the bracelet go for a hundred 
and fifty roubles, Pavel Pavlovitch was anything but pleased. 
He was most anxious to spend a lot of money on the young 
lady, and would have gladly paid two hundred roubles for 
the same goods, on the slightest encouragement. 

" It doesn't matter, my being in a hurry to give her pre- 
sents, does it ? " he began excitedly, when they were back 
in the carriage, and rolling along once more. " They are 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 245 

not * swells ' at all ; they live most simply. Innocence loves 
presents," he continued, smiling cunningly. " You laughed 
just now, Alexey Ivanovitch, when I said that the girl was 
only fifteen ; but, you know, what specially struck me about 
her was, that she still goes to school, with a sweet little bag 
in her hand, containing copy books and pencils. Ha-ha-ha 1 
It was the little satchel that * fetched * me. I do love inno* 
cence, Alexey Ivanovitch. I don't care half so much for 
good looks as for innocence. Fancy, she and her friend 
were sitting in the comer there, the other day, and roared 
with laughter because the cat jumped from a cupboard on to- 
the sofa, and fell down all of a heap. Why, it smells of 
fresh apples, that does, sir. Shall I take off the crape, eh ? ** 

" Do as you like 1 " 

'* Well, I'll take it off 1 " He took his hat, tore the crape 
off, and threw the latter into the road. 

VelchaninofF remarked that as he put his hat on his bald 
head once more, he wore an expression of the simplest and 
frankest hope and delight. 

" Is he really that sort of man ? " thought VelcbaninofT 
with annoyance. He surely canU be trundling me down 
here without some underhand motive — impossible ! He 
can't be trusting entirely to my generosity ? " This last idea 
seemed to fill him with indignation. " What is this clowa 
of a fellow ? " he continued to reflect. " Is he a fool, an» 
idiot, or simply a * permanent husband'? I can't make 
head or tail of it all ! " 



CHAPTER XII. 



The Zachlebnikoffs were certainly, as Velchaninoff had ex- 
pressed it, a uiost respectable family. Zachlebnikoff himself 
was a most eminently dignified and ** solid " gentleman to 
look* at. What Pavel Pavlovitch had said as to their 
resources was, however, quite tme ; they lived well, but if 
paterfamilias were to die, it would be very awkward for 
the rest. 

Old Zachlebnikoff received Velchaninoff most cordially. 
He was no longer the legal opponent ; he appeared now in 
a far more agreeable guise. 

'* I congratulate you, '' he said at once, "upon the issue. 

I did my best to arrange it so, and your lawyer was a capital 
fellow to deal with. You have your sixty thousand without 
trouble or worry, you see ; and if we hadn't squared it we 
might have fought oh for two or three years." 

Velchaninofi was introduced to the lady of the house as 
well— an elderly, simple-looking, worn woman. Then the 
girls began to troop in, one by one and occasionally two 
together. But, somehow, there seemed to be even more 
than Velchaninoff had been led to expect ; ten or a dozen 
were collected already — he could not count them exactly. 

I I turned out that some were friends from the neighbouring 
houses. 

The Zachlebnikoffs* country house was a large wooden 
structure of no particular style of architecture, but hand- 
some enough, and was possessed of a fine large garden. 
246 



THE PERMANENT Ht^SBAND. 247 

There were, however, two or three othet houses built round 
the latter, so that the garden was common property for 
all, which fact resulted in great intimacy between the 
ZachlebnikofF girls and the young ladies of the neighbouring 
houses. 

Velchaninoff discovered, almost from the first moment, 
that his arrival — in the capacity of Pavel Pavlovitch's friend, 
desiring an introduction to the family — was expected, and 
looked forward to as a solemn and important occasion. 

Being an expert in such matters he very soon observed 
that there was even more that this in his reception. 
Judging from the extra politeness of the parents, and by the 
exceeding smartness of the young ladies, he could not help 
suspecting that Pavel Pavlovitch had been improving the 
occasion, and that he had — not, of course, in so many 
words — given to understand that Velchaninoff was a 
single man — dull and disconsolate, and had represented 
him as likely enough at any moment to change his manner 
of living and set up an establishment, especially as be had 
just come in for a considerable inheritance. He thought 
that Katerina Fedosievna, the eldest girl — twenty-four years 
of age, and a splendid girl according to Pavel's description — 
seemed rather " got up to kill," from the look of her. She 
was eminent, even among her well-dressed sisters, for special 
elegance of costume, and for a certain originality about the 
make-up of her abundant hair. 

The rest of the girls all looked as though they were well 
aware that Velchaninoff was making acquaintance with the 
family * for Katie,' and had come down * to have a look 
at her.' Their looks and words all strengthened the im- 
pression that they were acting with this supposition in view, 
as the day went on. 

Katerina Fedosievna was d. fine tall girl, rather plump, 
and with an extremely pleasing face. She seemed to be of 
a quiet, if not actually sleepy, disposition. 

"Strange, that such a fine girl should be unmarried," 
thought Velchaninoff, as he watched her with niuch 
satisfaction. 

All the sisters were nice-looking, and there were several 
pretty faces among the friends assembled. Velchaninoff 

R— 2 



248 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

was much diverted by the presence of all these young 
ladies. 

Nadejda Fedosievna, the school-girl and bride elect of 
Pavel Pavlovitch, had not as yet condescended to appear- 
Velchaninoff awaited her coming with a degree of impa- 
tience which surprised and amused him. At last she came, 
and came with effect, too, accompanied by a lively girl, her 
friend — Maria Nikitishna — who was considerably older than 
herself and a very old friend of the family, having been 
governess in a neighbouring house for some years. She was 
quite one of the family, and boasted of about twenty-three 
years of age. She was m.uch esteemed by all the girls, and 
evidently acted at present as guide, philosopher, and friend 
to Nadia (Nadejda). Velchaninoff saw at the first glance 
that all the girls were against Pavel Pavlovitch, friends and 
all ; and when Nadia came in, it did not take him long to 
discover that she absolutely haUd him. He observed, 
further, that Pavel Pavlovitch either did not, or would not^ 
notice this fact. 

Nadia was the prettiest of all the girls — a little brunette^ 
with an impudent audacious expression; she might have 
been a Nihilist from the independence of her look. The sly 
little creature had a pair of flashing eyes and a most charm- 
ing smile, though as often as not her smile was more full of 
mischief and wickedness than of amiability ; her lips and teeth 
were wonders ; she was slender but well put together, and 
the expression of her face was thoughtful though at the 
same time childish. 

" Fifteen years old '' was imprinted in every feature of her 
face and every motion of her body. It appeared afterwards 
that Pavel Pavlovitch had actually seen the girl for the first 
time with a little satchel in her hand, coming back from 
school. She had ceased to carry the satchel since that day. 

The present brought down by Pavel Pavlovitch proved a 
failure, and was the cause of a very painful impression. 

Pavel Pavlovitch no sooner saw his bride elect enter the 
room than he approached her with a broad grin on his face. 
He gave his present with the preface that he " offered it 
in recognition of the agreeable sensation experienced by 
him at his last visit upon the occasion of Nadejda Fedosievna 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 249 

singing a certain song to the pianoforte," and there he 
stopped in confusion and stood before her lost and 
miserable, shoving the jeweller's box into her hand. Nadia, 
however, would not take the present, and drew her hands 
away. 

She approached her mother imperiously (the latter 
looked much put out), and said aloud : " I won't take it, 
mother.*' Nadia was blushing with shame and anger. 

" Take it and say * thank you ' to Pavel Pavlovitch for it,*' 
said her father quietly but firmly. He was very far from 
pleased. 

" Quite unnecessary, quite unnecessary ! ** he muttered 
to Pavel Pavlovitch. 

Nadia, seeing there was nothing else to be done, took 
the case and curtsied — ^just as children do, giving a little 
bob down and then a bob up again, as if she had been on 
springs. 

One of the sisters came across to look at the present 
whereupon Nadia handed it over to her unopened, thereby 
showing that she did not care so much as to look at it her- 
self. 

The bracelet was taken out and handed around from one 
to the other of the company ; but all examined it silently, 
and some even ironically, only the mother of the family 
muttered that the bracelet was " very pretty.** 

Pavel Pavlovitch would have been delighted to see the 
earth open and swallow him up. 

VelchaninofF helped the wretched man out of the mess. 
He suddenly began to talk loudly and eloquently about 
the first thing that struck him, and before five minutes had 
passed he had won the attention of everyone in the room. 
He was a wonderfully clever society talker. He had the 
knack of putting on an air of absolute sincerity, and of im- 
pressing his hearers with the belief that he considered them 
equally sincere ; he was able to act the simple, careless, and 
happy young fellow to perfection. He was a master of the 
art of interlarding his talk with occasional flashes of real 
wit, apparently spontaneous but actually pre-arranged, and 
very likely stale.^ in so far that he had himself made the joke 
before. 



2SO THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

But to-day he was particularly successful ; he felt that he 
must talk on and talk well, and he knew that before many 
moments were past he should succeed in monopolizing all 
eyes and all ears — that no joke should be laughed at but his 
own, and no voice heard but his. 

And sure enough the spell of his presence seemed to pro- 
duce a wonderful effect; in a while the talking and 
laughter became general, with Velchaninoff as the centre 
and motor of all. Mrs. ZachlebnikoflTs kind face lighted 
up with real pleasure, and Katie's pretty eyes were alight 
with absolute fascination, while her whole visage glowed 
with dehght. 

Only Nadia frowned at him, and watched him keenly from 
beneath her dark lashes. It was clear that she was preju- 
diced against him. This last fact only roused Velchaninoll 
to greater exertions. The mischievous Maria Nikitishna, 
however, as Nadia*s ally, succeeded in playing off a success- 
ful piece of chaff against Velchaninoff; she pretended that 
Pavel Pavlovitch had represented Velchaninoff as the friend 
of his childhood, thereby making the latter out to be some 
seven or eight years older than he really was. Velchaninoff 
liked the look of Maria, notwithstanding. 

Pavel Pavlovitch was the picture of perplexity. He 
quite understood the success which his " friend " was 
achieving, and at first he felt glad and proud of that success^ 
laughing at the jokes and taking a share of the conversa- 
tion ; but for some reason or other he gradually relapsed 
into thoughtfulness, and thence into melancholy — whicii 
fact was sufficiently plain from the expression of his lugu- 
brious and careworn physiognomy. 

"Well, my dear fellow, you are the sort of guest one need 
not exert oneself to entertain," said old Zachlebnikoff at 
last, rising and making for his private study,^^ where he had 
business of impoitance awaiting his attention ; " and I was 
led to believe that you were the most morose of hypochon- 
driacs. Dear me ! what mistakes one does make about 
other people, to be sure ! '* 

There was a grand piano in the room, and Velchaninoflf 
suddenly turned to Nadia and remarked i 

"You sing, don't you?" 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 25 1 

"Who told you I did?*' said Nadia curtly. 

« Pavel Pavlovitch." 

'* It isn't true ; I only sing for a joke — I have no voice." 

" Oh, but I have no voice either, and yet I sing ! " 

"Well, you sing to us first, and then 1*11 sing," said 
Nadia, with sparkling eyes ; " not now though — after 
dinner. I hate music," she ^dded, ^ I'm so sick of the 
piano. We have singing and strumming going on all day here ; 
— ^and Katie is the only one of us all worth hearing ! " 

VelchaninofT immediately attacked Katie, and besieged 
her with petitions to play. This attention from him to her 
eldest daughter so pleased mamma that she flushed up with 
satisfaction. 

Katie went to the piano, blushing like a school-girl, and 
evidently much ashamed of herself for blushing; she 
played some little piece of Haydn's correctly enough but 
without much expression. 

When she had finished VelchaninofT praised the music 
warmly — Haydn's music generally, and this little piece in 
particular. He looked at Katie too, with admiration, and 
his expression seemed to say. " By Jove, you're a fine girl ! " 
So eloquent was his look that everyone in the room was 
able to read it, and especially Katie herself. 

" What a pretty garden you have ! " said VelchaninofT after 
a short pause, looking tljrough the glass doors of the balcony. 
" Let's all go out ; may we ? " 

" Oh, yes ! do let's go out ! " cried several voices to- 
gether. He seemed to have hit upon the very thing most 
desired by all' 

So they all adjourned into the garden, and walked about 
there until dinner-time ; and Velchaninoff had the oppor- 
tunity of making closer acquaintance with some of the 
girls of the establishment. Two or three young fellows 
** dropped in" from the neighbouring houses — a student, a 
school-boy, and another young fellow of about twenty in a 
pair of huge spectacles. Each of these young fellows 
mimediately attached himself to the particular young lady of 
his choice. 

The young man in spectacles no sooner arrived than he 
went aside with Nadia and Maria Nikitishna, and entered 



^52 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

into an animated whispering conversation with them, with 
much frowning and impatience of manner. 

This gentleman seemed to consider it his mission to 
treat Pavel Pavlovitch with the most ineffable contempt. 

Some of the girls proposed a game. One of them 
suggested "Proverbs," but it was voted dull; another 
suggested acting, but the objection was made that they 
never knew how to finish off. 

" It may be more successful with you," said Nadia to 
Velchaninoff confidentially. You know we all thought you 
were Pavel Pavlovitch's friend, but it appears that he was 
only boasting. I am very glad you have come — for a certain 
reason ! " she added, looking knowingly into Velchaninoff^s 
face, and then retreating back again to Maria's wing, blushing. 
" We'll play * Proverbs ' in the evening," said another, "and 
we'll all chaff Pavel Pavlovitch \ you must help us too ! " 

" We are so glad you're come — it's so dull here as a 
rule," said a third, a funny-looking red-haired girl, whose 
face was comically hot, with running apparently. Goodness 
knows where she had dropped from ; Velchaninoff had not 
observed her arrive. 

Pavel Pavlovitch's agitation increased every moment. 
Meanwhile Velchaninoff took the opportunity of making 
great friends with Nadia. She had ceased to frown at him 
as before, and had now developed the wildest of spirits, 
dancing and jumping about, singing and whistling, and 
occasionally even catching hold of his hand in her innocent 
friendliness. 

She was very happy indeed, apparently ; but she took no 
more notice of Pavel Pavlovitch than if he had not been 
there at all. 

Pavel Pavlovitch was very jealous of all this, and once 
or twice when Nadia and Velchaninoff talked apart, he 
joined them and rudely interrupted their conversation by 
interposing his anxious face between them. 

Katia could not help being fully aware by this time that 
their charming guest had not come in for her sake, as had 
been believed by the family ; indeed, it was clear that Nadia 
interested him so much that she excluded everyone else, 
to a considerable extent, from his attention. However, in 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 253 

Spite of this, her good-natured face retained its amiability of 
expression all the same. She seemed to be happy enough 
witnessing the happiness of the rest and listening to the 
merry talk : she could not take a large share in the con- 
versation herself, poor girl ! 

" What a fine girl your sister, Katerina Fedosievna is," 
remarked Velchaninoff to Nadia. 

" Katia ? I should think so ! there is no better girl ia 
the world. She's our family angel ! Fm in love with her 
myself I " replied Nadia enthusiastically. 

At last, dinner was announced, and a very good dinner it 
was, several courses being added for the benefit of the 
guests : a bottle of tokay made its appearance, and cham- 
pagne was handed round in honour of the occasion. The 
good humour of the company was general, old Zachlebni- 
kofF was in high spirits, having partaken of an extra glass of 
wine this evening. So infectious was the hilarity that even 
Pavel Pavlovitch took heart of grace and made a pun. 
From the end of the table where he sat beside the lady of 
the house, there suddenly came a loud laugh from the 
delighted girls who had been fortunate enough to hear the 
virgin attempt. 

" Papa, papa, Pavel Pavlovitch has made a joke ! " cried 
several at once : " he says that there is quite a * galaxy of 
gals ' here ! " 

" Oho I he's made a pun too, has he ? '* cried the old 
fellow. " Well, what is it, let's have it ! '' He turned to 
Pavel Pavlovitch with beaming face, prepared to roar over 
the latter's joke. 

"Why, I tell you, he says there's quite a 'galaxy of 
gals.'" 

" Well, go on, where's the joke ? " repeated papa, still 
dense to the merits of the pun, but beaming more and 
more with benevolent desire to see it. 

" Oh, papa, how stupid you are not to see it. Why * gals ' 
and ^ galaxy,' don't you see ? — he says there's quite a gal-axy 
of gals I" 

"Oh! oh!" guffawed the old gentleman, "Ha-ha! 
Well, we'll hope he'll make a better one next time, that's 
all." 



254 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

Pavel Pavlovitch can't acquire all the perfections at 
once/* said Maria Nikitishna. "Oh, my goodness! he's 
swallowed a bone — look ! " she added, jumping up from her 
chair. 

The alarm was general, and Maria's delight was great. 

Poor Pavel Pavlovitch had only choked over a glass of 
wine, which he seized and drank to hide his confusion ; but 
Maria declared that it was a fishbone — that she had seen it 
herself, and that people had been known to die of swallow- 
ing a bone just like that.*' 

" Clap him on the back ! '* cried somebody. 

It appeared that there were numerous kind friends ready^ 
to perform this friendly office, and poor Pavel protested in 
vain that it was nothing but a common choke. The be- 
labouring went on until the coughing fit was over, and it 
became evident that mischievous Maria was at the bottom 
of it all. 

After dinner old Mr. Zachlebnikoflf retired for his post- 
prandial nap, bidding the young people enjoy themselves 
in the garden as best they might. 

" You enjoy yourself, too ! " he added to Pavel Pavlo- 
vitch, tapping the latter's shoulder affably as be went 
by. 

When the party were all collected in the garden once 
more, Pavel suddenly approached Velchaninoff: "One 
moment," he whispered, pulling the latter by the coat- 
sleeve. 

The two men went aside into a lonely by-path. 

" None of that here^ please ; I won't allow it here ! " said 
Pavel Pavlovitch in a choking whisper. 

" None of what ? Who ? " asked Velchaninoff, staring 
with all his eyes. 

Pavel Pavlovitch said nothing more, but gazed furiously 
at hiscompanion, his lips trembling in a desperate attempt 
at a pretended smile. At this moment the voices of several 
of the girls broke in upon them, calling them to some game, 
Velchaninoff shrugged his shoulders and re-joined the 
party. Pavel followed him. 

" I'm sure Pavel Pavlovitch was borrowing a handker- 
chief from you, wasn't he? He forgot iiis handkerchief 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 255 

last time too. Pavel Pavlovitch has forgotten his handker- 
chief again, and he has a cold as usual ! ' cried Maria. 

" Oh, Pavel Pavlovitch, why didn't you say so ? " cried 
Mrs. Zachlebnikoff, making towards the house ; " you shall 
have one at once." 

In vain poor Pavel protested that he had two of those 
necessary articles, and was not suffering from a cold. Mrs. 
Zachlebnikoff was glad of the excuse for retiring to the 
house, and heard nothing. A few moments afterwards a 
maid pursued Pavel with a handkerchief, to the confusion 
of the latter gentleman. 

A game of "proverbs" was now proposed. All sat 
down, and the young man with spectacles was made to retire 
to a considerable distance and wait there with his nose close 
up against the wall and his back turned until the proverb 
should have been chosen and the words arranged. Vel- 
chaninoff was the next in turn to be the questioner. 

Then the cry arose for Pavel Pavlovitch, and the latter, 
who had more or less recovered his good humour by this 
time, proceeded to the spot indicated ; and, resolved to do 
his duty like a man, took his stand with his nose to the 
wall, ready to stay there motionless until called. The red- 
haired young lady was detailed to watch him, in case of 
fraud on his part. 

No sooner, however, had the wretched Pavel taken up 
his position at the wall, than the whole party took to their 
heels and ran away as fast as their legs ^ could carry 
them. 

'* Run quick ! " whispered the girls to Velchaninoff, in 
despair, for he bad not started with them. 

"Why, what's happened? What's the matter?" asked 
the latter, keeping up as best he could. 

" Don't make a noise ! we want to get away and let him 
go on standing there — ^that's all." 

Katia, it appeared, did not like this practical joke. 
When the last stragglers of the party arrived at the end of 
the garden, amon^ them Velchaninoff, the latter found 
Katia angrily scolding the rest of the girls. 

" Very well," she was saying, " I won't telL mother this 
time ; but I shall gaaway myself : it's too bad \ What will 



256 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

the poor fellow's feelings be, standing all alone there, and 
finding us fled 1 '* 

And off she went. The rest, however, were entirely 
unsympathizing, and enjoyed the joke thoroughly. Velchani- 
noflF was entreated to appear entirely unconscious when 
Pavel Pavlovitch should appear again, just as though 
nothing whatever had happened. It was a full quarter of 
^n hour before Pavel put in an appearance, two thirds, at 
least, of that time he must have stood at the wall. When 
he reached the party he found everyone busy over a game 
of GoriUkij laughing and shouting and making themselves 
thoroughly happy. 

Wild with rage, Pavel Pavlovitch again made straight for 
VelchaninoflF, and tugged him by the coat-sleeve. 

" One moment, sir ! *' 

" Oh, mv goodness ! he's always coming in with his ' one 
moments' ! " said someone. 

" A handkerchief wanted again probably ! " shouted 
someone else after the pair as they retired. 

" Come now, this time it was you ! You were the origi- 
nator of this insult ! •' muttered Pavel, his teeth chattering 
with fury. 

VelchaninoflF interrupted him, and strongly recommended 
Pavel to bestir himself to be merrier. 

" You are chaflfed because you get angry," he said ; '* if 
you try to be jolly instead of sulky you'll be let alone ! " 

To his surprise these words impressed Pavel deeply; 
he was quiet at once, and returned to the party with a 
guilty air, and immediately began to take part in the games 
engaged in once more. He was not further bullied at 
present, and within half an hour his good humour seemed 
quite re-established. 

To VelchaninofiPs astonishment, however, he never seemed 
to presume to speak to Nadia, although he kept as close 
to her, on all occasions, as he possibly could. He 
seemed to take his position as quite natural, and was not 
put out by her contemptuous air towards him. 

Pavel Pavlovitch was teased once more, however, before 
the evening ended. 

A game of ** Hide-and-seek" was commenced, and Pavel 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 257 

had hidden in a small room in the house. Being observed 
entering there by someone, he was locked in, and left there 
raging for an hour. Meanwhile, VelchaninofF learned the 
" special reason " for Nadia's joy at his arrival. Maria con- 
ducted him to a lonely alley, where Nadia was awaiting 
him alone. 

" I have quite convinced myself," began the latter, when 
they were left alone, " that you are not nearly so great a 
friend of Pavel Pavlovitch as he gave us to understand. I 
have also convinced myself that you alone can perform a 
certain great service for me. Here is his horrid bracelet '^ 
(she drew the case out of her pocket) — " I wish to ask you 
to be so kind as to return it to him ; I cannot do so my- 
self, because I am quite determined never to speak to him 
again all my life. You can tell him so from me, and 
better add that he is not to worry me with any more of his 
nasty presents. I'll let him know something else I have to 
say through other channels. Will you do this for me ?" 

" Oh, for goodness sake, spare me ! " cried Velchaninoff, 
almost wringing his hands. 

" How spare you ? " cried poor Nadia. Her artificial tone 
put on for the occasion had collapsed at once before this 
check, and she was nearly crying. Velchaninoff burst out 
laughing. 

" I don't mean — I should be delighted, you know — but the 
thing is, I have my own accounts to settle with him ! " 

" I knew you weren't his friend, and that he was lying. 
I shall never marry him — never ! You may rely on that I I 
don't understand how he could dare — at all events, you 
really must give him back this horrid bracelet. What am 
I to do if you don't ? I must hsiwe it given back to him this 
very day. He'll catch it if he interferes with father about 
me I " 

At this moment the spectacled young gentleman issued 
from the shrubs at their elbow. 

"You are bound to return the bracelet I" he burst out 
furiously, upon Velchaninoff, " if only out of respect to the 
rights of woman " 

He did not finish the sentence, for Nadia pulled him 
away from beside Velchaninoff with all her strength. 



SSB THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

" How stnpid you are," she tried ; '* go away. How dare 
you listen? I told you to stand a long way off!" She 
stamped her foot with rage, and for some while after the 
young fellow had slunk away she continued to walk along 
with flashing eyes, furious with indignation. "You 
wouldn't believe how stupid he is!" she cried at last. 
" You laugh, but think of my feelings ! '* 

** That's not ^e, is it ? " laughed Velchaninoff. 

*' Of course not. How could you imagine such a thing ! 
It's only his friend, and how he can choose such friends I 
can't understand ! They say he is a * future motive-power,' 
but I don't see it. Alexey Ivanovitch, for the last time — I 
have no one else to ask — will you give the bracelet back or 
not?" 

" Very well, I will. Give it to me ! " 

" Oh, you dear, good Alexey Ivanovitch, thanks ! " she 
cried, enthusiastic with delight. ** I'll sing all the evening 
for that ! I sing beautifully, you know ! I was telling you 
a wicked story before dinner. Oh, I wish you would come 
down here again ; I'd tell you «//, then, and lots of other 
things besides — for you are a dear, kind, good fellow, like 
—like Katia ! " 

And sure enough when they reached home she sat down 
and sang a couple of songs in a voice which, though entirely 
untrained, was of great natural sweetness and considerable 
strength. 

When the party returned from the garden they had found 
Pavel Pavlovitch drinking tea with the old folks on the 
balcony. He had probably been talking on serious topics, 
as he was to take his departure the day after to-morrow for 
nine months. He never so much as glanced at Velchaninoft 
and the rest when they entered ; but he evidently had ,not 
complained to the authorities, and all was quiet as yet; 
But, when Nadia began to sing, he came in. Nadia did 
not answer a single one of his questions, but he did not 
seem offended by this, and took his stand behind her chair. 
Once there, his whole appearance gave it to be understood 
that that was his own place by right, and that he allowed 
none to dispute it. 

" It's Alexey Ivanovitch's turn to sing how I " cried the 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. i$g 

girls, when Nadia's sotig was finished, and all crowded round 
to hear Velchaninofl^ who sat down to accompany himself. 
He chose a song of Glinke's, too much neglected now-a- 
days ; it ran :-^ 

" When from your merry lips 
Tenderness flows," &c. 

VelchaninofF seemed to address the words to Nadia ex- 
clusively, but the whole party stood around him. His voice 
had long since gone the way of all flesh, but it was clear 
that he must have had a good one once, and it so hap- 
pened that Velchaninoff had heard this particular song many 
years ago, from Glinkes' own lips, when a student at the 
university, and remembered the great effect that it had 
made upon him when he first heard it. The song was full 
of the most intense passion of expression, and VelchaninofF 
sang it well, with his eyes fixed upon Nadia. 

Amid the applause that followed the completion of the 
performance, Pavel Pavlovitch came forward, seized 
Nadia's hand and drew her away from the proximity of 
VelchaninofF; he then returned to the latter at the piano, 
and, with every evidence of frantic rage, whispered to him, 
his lips all of a tremble, 

" One moment with you ! " 

VelchaninofF, seeing that the man was capable of worse 
things in his then frame of mind, took Pavel's hand and led 
him out through the balcony into the garden — quite dark 
now. 

" Do you understand, sir, that you must come away at 
once — t/iis very minute ? "said Pavel Pavlovitch. 

" No, sir, I do not ! " 

"Do you remember," continued Pavel in his frenzied 
whisper, " do you remember that you begged me to tell you 
all, everything — down to the smallest details ? Well, the 
time has come for telling you all — come ! " 

VelchaninofF considered a moment, glanced once more at 
Pavel Pavlovitch, and consented to go. 

" Oh ! stay and have another cup of tea ! '' said Mrs. 
Zachlebnikoff, when this decision was announced. 

"Pavel Pavlovitch, why are you taking Alexey 



26o THE PERMANENT HUSBANP. 

Ivanovitch away ? " cried the girls, with angry looks. As 
for Nadia, she looked so cross with Pavel, that the latter 
felt absolutely uncomfortable ; but he did not give in. 

*.*Oh, but I am very much obliged to Pavel Pavlovitch," 
said VelchaninoflT, '*for reminding me of some most im- 
portant business which I must attend to this very evening, 
and which I might have forgotten," laughed Velchaninoff, 
as he shook hands with his host and made his bow to the 
ladies, especially to Katia, as the family thought. 

" You must come again soon ! " said the host ; "we have 
been so glad to see you ; it was so good of you to come ! '* 

" Yes, so glad 1 " said the lady of the house. 

*^ Do come again soon ! " cried the girls, as Pavel 
Pavlovitch and Velchaninoff took their seats in the carriage ; 
" Alexey Ivanovitch, do come back soon ! " And with 
these voices in their ears they drove away. 



CHAPTER XIIL 



In spite of VelchaninoflTs apparently happy day, the 
feeling of annoyance and suffering at his heart had hardly 
actually left him for a single moment. Before he sang the 
song he had not known what to do with himself, or sup- 
pressed anger and melancholy — perhaps that was the reason 
why he had sung with so much feeling and passion. 

" To think that I could so have lowered myself as to 
forget everything ! " he thought — and then despised 
himself for thinking it ; "itismore humiliating still to cry 
overw hat is done," he continued, " Far better to fly into a 
passion with someone instead." 

"Fool!" he muttered — looking askance at Pavel 
Pavlovitch, who sat beside him as still as a mouse. Pavel 
Pavlovitch preserved a most obstinate silence — probably 
concentrating and rang^ing his energies. He occasionally 
took his hat off, impatiently, and wiped the perspiration 
from his forehead. 

Once — and once only — Pavel spoke, to the coachman, 
he asked whether there was going to be a thunder-storm. 

'*Wheugh!" said the man, "I should think so! It's 
been a steamy day — ^just the day for it ! " 

By the time town was reached — half-past ten — the whole 
sky was overcast. 

"I am coming to your house," said Pavel to VelchaninofT, 
when almost at the door. 

<* Quite so ; but I warn you, I feel very unwell to-night ! " 
261 ' s 



262 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

" All right — I won't stay too long." 

When the two men passed under the gateway, Pavel 
Pavlovitch disappeared into the 'dvornik's' room for a 
minute, to speak to Mavra. 

" What did you go in there for ? " asked Velchaninoff 
severely as they mounted the stairs and reached his own door. 

" Oh— nothing — nothing at all, — ^just to tell them about 
the coachman.— — " 

*' Very well. Mind, I shall not allow you to drink ! " 

Pavel Pavlovitch did not answer. 

Velchaninoff lit a candle, while Pavel threw himself into a 
chair ; — then the former came and stood menacingly before 
him. 

" I may have told you I should have my last word to say 
to-night, as well as you ! ** he said with suppressed anger 
in his voice and manner : " Here it is. I consider conscien"- 
tiously that things are square between you and me, now ; 
and therefore there is no more to be said, understand me, 
about anything. Since this is so, had you not better go, and 
let me close the door after you ? " 

** Let's cry * quits' first, Alexey Ivanovitch," said Pavel, 
Pavlovitch, gazing into Velchaninoffs eyes with great 
sweetness. 

" Quits ? '' cried the latter, in amazement ; " you strange 
man, what are we to cry quits about ? Are you harping 
upon your promise of a ' last word ' ? " 

"Yes." 

" Ob, well, we have nothing more to cry quits for. We 
have been quits long since," said Velchaninoff. 

" Dear me, do you really think so ? " cried Pavel Pavlo- 
vitch, in a shrill, sharp voice, pressing his two hands tightly 
together, finger to finger, as he held them up before his 
breast. 

Velchaninoff said nothing. He rose from his seat and 
began to walk up and down the room. The word " Liza " 
resounded through and through his soul like the voice of a 
bell. 

" Well, what is there that you still consider unsettled be- 
tween us ? " he asked at last, looking angrily at Pavel, who 
had never ceased to follow him with his eyes — always 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 263 

holding his hands before his breast, finger tip to finger 
tip. 

" Don't go down there any more," said Pavel, almost in 
a whisper, and rising firom his seat with every indication of 
humble entreaty. 

" What I is that all ? ** cried Velchaninoff, bursting into 
an angry laugh ; " good heavens, man, you have done no- 
thing but surprise me all day." He had begun in a tone of 
exasperation, but he now abruptly changed both voice and 
expression, and continued with an air of deep feeling. 
** Listen,'' he said, " listen to me. I don't think I have 
ever felt so deeply humiliated as I am feeling now, in con- 
sequence of the events of to-day. In the first place, that I 
should have condescended to go down with you at all, and 
in the second place, all that happened there. It has been 
such a day of pettifogging — pitiful pettifogging. I have 
profaned and lowered myself by taking a share in it all, and 

forgetting Well, it's done now. But look here — you fell 

upon me to-day, unawares — upon a sick man. Oh, you 
needn't excuse yourself ; at all events I shall certainly not 
go there again. I have not the slightest interest in so 
doing," he concluded, with an air of decision. 

^' No, really ! " cried Pavel Pavlovitch, making no secret 
of his delight and exultation. 

Velchaninoff glanced contemptuously at him, and recom- 
menced his march up and down the room. 

" You have determined to be happy under any circum- 
stances, I suppose ? " he observed, after a pause. He could 
not resist making the remark disdainfully. 

" Yes, I have," said Pavel, quietly. 

" It's no business of mine that he's a fool and a knave, 
out of pure idiocy 1 " thought Velchaninoff. " I can't help 
hating him, though I feel that he is not even worth hating." 

" I'm a permanent husband," said Pavel Pavlovitch, with 
the most exquisitely servile irony, at his own expense. " I 
remember you using that expression, Alexey Ivanovitch, 

long ago, when you were with us at T . I remember 

many of your original phrases of that time, and when you 
spoke of * permanent husbands,' the other day, I recollected 
the expression." 

s— 2 



264 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND 

At this point Mavra entered the room with a bottle of 
champagne and two glasses. 

" Forgive me, Alexey Ivanovitch," said Pavel, ** you know 
I can't get on without it. Don't consider it an audacity on 
my part — think of it as a mere bit of by-play unworthy your 
notice." 

** Well," consented Velchaninoff, with a look of disgust, 
" but I must remind you that I don't feel well, and that — " 

**One little moment — I'll go at once, I really will — I 
must just drink one glass, my throat is so " 

He seized the bottle eagerly, and poured himself out a 
glass, drank it greedily at a gulp, and sat down. He looked 
at Velchaninoff almost tenderly. 

"What a nasty looking beast !" muttered the latter to 
himself. 

" It's all her friends that make her like that," said Pavel, 
suddenly, with animation. 

'* What ? Oh, you refer to the lady. I " 

*'And, besides, she is so very young still, you see,'^ 
resumed Pavel. " I shall be her slave — she shall see a little 
society, and a bit of the world. She will change, sir, 
entirely." 

" I mustn't forget to give him back the bracelet, by-the- 
bye," thought Velchaninoff, frowning, as he felt for the case 
in his coat pocket. 

** You said just now that I am determined to be happy, 
Alexey Ivanovitch," continued Pavel, confidentially, and 
with almost touching earnestness. " I must marry, else 
what will become of me? You see for yourself" (he 
pointed to the bottle), " and that's only a hundredth part of 
what I demean myself to now-a-days. I cannot get on 
without marrying again, sir ; I must have a new faith. If I 
can but believe in some one again, sir, I shall rise — I shall 
be saved." 

" Why are you telling me all this ? " exclaimed Velchani^ 
noff, very nearly laughing in his face ; it seemed so absurdly 
inconsistent. 

" Look here," he continued, roaring the words out, ** let 
me know now, once for all, why did you drag me down 
there ? what good was I to do you there? " 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 265 

" I — I wished to try ^," began Pavel, with some con- 
fusion. 

"Try what?'* 

" The effect, sir. You see, Alexey Ivanovitch, I have only 
been visiting there a week '* (he grew more and more con- 
fused), **and yesterday, when I met you, I thought to my- 
self that I had never seen her yet in society ; that is, in the 
society of other men besides myself — ^a stupid idea, I know 
it is — I was very anxious to try — ^you know my wretchedly 
jealous nature." He suddenly raised his head and blushed 
violently. 

" He can't be telling me the truth ! " thought Velchani- 
noff; he was struck dumb with surprise. 

" Well, go on ! " he muttered at last. 

" Well, I see it was all her pretty childish nature, sir — 
that and her friends together. You must forgive my stupid 
conduct towards yourself to-day, Alexey Ivanovitch. 1 will 
never do it again — never again, sir, I assure you ! '' 

" I shall never be there to give you the opportunity," 
replied Velchaninoff with a laugh. 

** That's partly why I say it," said Pavel. 

** Oh, come ! I'm not the only man in the world you 
know ! " said the other irritably. 

" I am sorry to hear you say that, Alexey Ivanovitch. My 
esteem for Nadejda is such that I " 

" Oh, forgive me, forgive me ! I meant nothing, I assure 
you ! Only it surprises me that you should have expected so 
much of me — that you trusted me so completely." 

" I trusted you entirely, sir, solely on account of — all that 
has passed." 

" So that you still consider me the most honourable of 
men ? " Velchaninoff paused, the naive nature of his 
sudden question surprised even himself. 

" I always did think you that, sir ! " said Pavel, hanging 
his head. 

"Of course, quite so — I didn't mean quite that — I 
wanted to say, in spite of all prejudices you may have 
formed, you " 

" Yes, in spite of all prejudices ! " 

"And when you first came to Petersburg?" asked 



266 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND, 

Velchaninoflf, who himself felt the monstrosity of his own 
inquisitive questions, but could not resist putting them. 

" I considered you the most honourable of men when I first 
came to Petersburg, sir ; no less. I always respected you, 
Alexey Ivanovitch ! " 

Pavel Pavlovitch raised his eyes and looked at his com- 
panion without the smallest trace of confusion. 

VelchaninoflF suddenly felt cowed and afraid. He was 
anxious that nothing should result — nothing disagreeable — 
from this conversation, since he himself was responsible for 
having initiated it. 

'* I loved you, Alexey Ivanovitch ; all that year at T 

I loved you — you did not observe it," continued Pavel 
Pavlovitch, his voice trembling with emotion, to the great 
discomfiture of his companion. "You did not observe 
my affection, because I was too lowly a being to deserve any 
sort of notice ; but it was unnecessary that you should 
observe my love. Well, sir, and all these nine years 1 have 
thought of you, for I have never known such a year of life 
as that year was." (Pavel's eyes seemed to have a special 
glare in them at this point.) " I remembered many of your 
sayings and expressions, sir, and I thought of you always as 
a man imbued with the loftiest sentiments, and gifted with 
knowledge and intellect, sir — of the highest order — a man 
of grand ideas. * Great ideas do not proceed so frequently 
from greatness of intellect, as from elevation of taste and 
feeling.' You yourself said that, sir, once. I dare say you 
have forgotten the fact, but you did say it. Therefore I 
always thought of you, sir, as a man of taste and feeling ; 
consequently I concluded — consequently I trusted you, in 
spite of everything." 

Pavel Pavlovitch's chin suddenly J^egan to tremble. 
Velchaninoff was frightened out of his wits This unexpected 
tone must be put an end to at all hazards. 

" Enough, Pavel Pavlovitch ! " he said softly, blushing 
violently and with some show of irritation. " And why — 
why (Velchaninoff suddenly began to shout passionately) — 
why do you come hanging round the neck of a sick man, 
a worried man— a man who is almost out of his wits wita 
fever and annoyance of all sorts, and drag him 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 267 

into this abyss of lies and mirage and vision and shame — ^and 
unnatural,disproportionate, distorted nonsense! Yes, sir, that's 
the most shameful part of the whole business — the dispro- 
portionate nonsense of what you say ! You know it's all hum- 
bug ; both of us are mean wretches — both of us ; and if you 
like I'll prove to you at once that not only you don't love 
me, but that you loathe and hate me with all your heart, and 
that you are a Har, whether you know it or not I You took 
me down to see your bride, not — not a bit in the world to 
try how she would behave in the society of other men — 
absurd ideal — You simply saw me, yesterday, and your 
vile impulse led you to carry me off there in order that you 
might show me the girl, and say, as it were. There, look at 
that 1 She's to be mine ! Try your hand there if you can ! It 
was nothing but your challenge to me ! You may not have 
known it, but this was so, as I say ; and you felt the im- 
pulse which I have described. Such a challenge could not 
be made without hatred ; consequently you hate me. " 

Velchaninoff almost rushed up and down the room as he 
shouted the above words ; and with every syllable the 
hum rating consciousness that he was allowing himself to de- 
scend to the level of Pavel Pavlovitch afflicted him and 
tormented him more and more ! 

" I was only anxious to be at peace with you, Alexey 
Ivanovitch ! " said Pavel sadly, his chin and lips working 
again. 

Velchaninoff flew into a violent rage, as if he had been 
insulted in the most unexampled manner. 

"I tell you once more, sir," he cried, " that you have attached 
yourself to a sick and irritated man, in order that you may 
surprise him into saying something unseemly in his madness ! 
We are, I tell you, man, we are men of different worlds. 
Understand me ! between us two there is a grave," he hissed 
in his fury, and stopped. 

" And how do you know, — sir," cried Pavel Pavlovitch, 
his face suddenly becoming all twisted, and deadly white to 
look at, as he strode up to Velchaninoff, " how do you 
know what that grave means to me, sir, here ! " (He beat his 
breast with terrible earnestness, droll though he looked.) 
" Yes, sir, we both stand on the brink of the grave, but on my 



268 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

side there is more, sir, than on yours — yes, more, more, 
more ! " he hissed, beating his breast without pause — **more 
than on yours — the grave means more to me than to you ! " 

But at this moment a loud ring at the bell brought both 
men to their senses. Someone was ringing so loud that the 
bell-wire was in danger of snapping. 

" People don't ring like that lor me, observed Velchaninoff 
angrily. 

" No more they do for me, sir ! I assure you they 
don't 1 " said Pavel Pavlovitch anxiously. He had become 
the quiet timid Pavel again in a moment. Velchaninoff 
frowned and w^ent to open the door. 

" Mr. Velchaninoff, if I am not mistaken ? " said a 
strange voice, apparently belonging to some young and very 
self-satisfied person, at the door. 

"What is it?'' 

" I have been informed that Mr. Trusotsky is at this 
moment in your rooms. I must see him at once." 

Velchaninoff felt inclined to send this self-satisfied looking 
young gentleman flying downstairs again ; but he reflected 
— refrained, stood aside and let him in. 

" Here is Mr. Trusotsky. Come in." 



CHAPTER XIV. 



A YOUNG fellow of some nineteen summers entered the 
room ; he might have been even younger, to judge by his 
handsome but self-satisfied and very juvenile face. 

He was not badly dressed, at all events his clothes fitted 
him well ; in stature he was a little above the middle 
height ; he had thick black hair, and dark, bold eyes — and 
these were the striking features of his face. Unfortunately 
his nose was a little too broad and tip-tilted, otherwise he 
would have been a really remarkably good-looking young 
fellow. — He came in with some pretension. 

**I believe I have the opportunity of speaking to Mr. 
Trusotsky ? " he observed deliberately, and bringing out the 
word opportunity with much apparent satisfaction, as though 
he wished to accentuate the fact that he could not possibly 
be supposed to feel either honour or pleasure in meeting 
Mr. Trusotsky. Velchaninoff thought he knew what all 
this meant ; Pavel Pavlovitch seemed to have an inkling of 
the state of affairs, too. His expression was one of anxiety, 
but he did not show the white feather. 

" Not having the honour of your acquaintance," he said 
with dignity, " I do not understand what sort of business 
you can have with me.*' 

" Kindly listen to me first, and you can then let me know 

your ideas on the subject," observed the young gentleman, 

pulling out his tortoiseshell glasses, and focussing the 

champagne bottle with them. Having deliberately inspected 

269 



270 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

that object, he put up his glasses again, and fixing his atten- 
tion once more upon Pavel Pavlovitch, remarked : 
^"Alexander Loboff." 

" What about Alexander Loboff ? " 

*' That's my name. You've not heard of me ? " 

"No." 

" H'm I Well, I don't know when you should have, now 
I think of it ; but I've come on important business concern- 
ing yourself. I suppose I can sit down ? I'm tired." 

" Oh, pray sit down," said Velchaninoff, but not before 
the young man had taken a chair. In spite of the pain at 
his heart Velchaninoff could not help being interested in this 
impudent youngling. 

There seemed to be something in his goodlooking, fresh 
young face that reminded him of Nadia. 

" You can sit down too," observed Loboff, indicating an 
empty seat to Pavel Pavlovitch, mth a careless nod of his 
head. 

" Thank you ; I shall stand." 

" Very well, but you'll soon get tired. You need not go 
away^ I think, Mr. Velchaninoff." 

" I have nowhere to go to, my good sir, I am at home." 

" As you like; I confess I should prefer your being pre- 
sent while I have an explanation with this gentleman. 
Nadejda Fedosievna has given you a flattering enough 
character, sir, to me." 

" Nonsense ; how could she have had time to do so ? " 

" Immediately after you left. Now, Mr. Trusotsky, this 
is what I wish to observe," he continued to Pavel, the latter 
still standing in front of him; "we, that is Nadejda 
Fedosievna and myself, have long loved one another, and 
have plighted our troth. You have suddenly come be- 
tween us as an obstruction ; I have come to tell you that 
you had better clear out of the way at once. Are you pre- 
pared to adopt my suggestion ? " 

Pavel Pavlovitch took a step backward in amazement ; 
his face paled visibly, but in a moment a spiteful smile 
curled his lip. 

^*Not in the slightest degree prepared, sir," he said, 
laconically. 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 2)1 

" Dear me," said the young fellow, settling himself com- 
fortably in his chair, and throwing one leg over the other. 

" Indeed, I do not know whom I am speaking to," added 
Pavel Pavloyitch, " so that it can't hardly be worth your while 
to continue.'* 

So saying he sat down at last. 

" I said you'd get tired," remarked the youth. " I in- 
formed you just now," he added, ** that my name is 
Alexander Loboff, and that Nadejda arid I have plighted 
our troth ; consequently you cannot truthfully say, as you did 
say just now, that you don't know who I am, nor can you 
honestly assert that you do not see what we can have to 
talk about. Not to speak of myself — ^there is Nadejda 
Fedosievna to be considered — the lady to whom you have 
so impudently attached yourself ; that alone is matter suffi- 
cient for explanation between us." 

All this the young fellow rattled off carelessly enough, as 
if the thing were so self-evident that it hardly needed men- 
tioning. While talking, he raised his eyeglass once more, 
and inspected some object for an instant, putting the glass 
back in his pocket immediately afterwards. 
. ** Excuse me, young man," began Pavel Pavlovitch : but 
the words * young man ' were fatal. 

** At any other moment," observed the youth, " I should 
of course forbid your calling me * young man ' at once ; but 
you must admit that in this case my youth is my principal 
advantage over yourself, and that even this very day you 
would have given anything — nay, at the moment when you 
presented your bracelet— to be just a little bit younger." 

" Cheeky young brat ! " muttered Velchaninoff. 

" In any case," began Pavel Pavlovitch, with dignity, " I 
do not consider your reasons as set forth — most question- 
able and impro])er reasons at the best — sufficient to justify 
the continuance of this conversation. I see your * business * 
is mere childishness and nonsense : to-morrow I shall have 
the pleasure of an explanation with Mr. ZachlebnikofT, my 
respected friend. Meanwhile, sir, perhaps you will make it 
convenient to — depart." 

" That's the sort of man he is," cried the youth, hotly, 
turning to Velchaninoff : " he is not content with being as 



272 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

good as kicked out of the place, and having faces made at 
him, but he must go down again to-morrow to carry tales 
about us to Mr. Zachlebnikoff. Do you not prove by this, 
you obstinate man, that you wish to carry off the young lady 
by force? that .you desire to duy h^v of people who pre- 
serve — thanks to the relics of barbarism still triumphant 
among us —a species of power over her ? Surely she showed 
you sufficiently clearly that she despises you ? You have 
had your wretched tasteless present of to-day — that bracelet 
thing — returned to you ; what more do you want? " 

" Excuse me, no bracelet has been, or can be returned 
to me," said Pavel Pavlovitch, with a shudder of anxiety, 
however. 

"How so? hasn't Mr. Velchaninoff given it to you?" 

**0h, the deuce take you, sir," thought Velchaninoff. 
" Nadejda Fedosievna certainly did give me this case for 
you, Pavel Pavlovitch," he said ; " I did not wish to take it, 
but she was anxious that I should : here it is, I'm very 
sorry." 

He took out the case and laid it down on the table be- 
fore the enraged Pavel Pavlovitch. 

" How is it you have not handed it to him before ? " asked 
the young man severely. 

** I had no time, as you may conclude,'' said Velchaninoff 
with a frown. 

" H'm I Strange circumstance ! " 

"^A^/, sir?" 

" Well, you must admit it is strange 1 However, 
I am quite prepared to believe that there has been some 
mistake." 

Velchaninoff would have given worlds to get up and drub 
the impertinent young rascal and drag him out of the house 
by the ear; but he could not contain himself, and burst out 
laughing. The boy immediately followed suit and laughed 
too. 

But for Pavel Pavlovitch it was no laughing matter. 

If Velchaninoff had seen the ferocious look which the 
former cast at him at the moment when he and Loboff 
laughed, he would have realized that Pavel Pavlovitch was 
in the act of passing a fatal Hmit of forbearance. He did not 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 273 

see the look ; but it struck him that it was only fair to stand 
up for Pavel now. 

"Listen, Mr. Loboff," he said, in friendly tones, "not 
to enter into the consideration of other matters, I may point 
out that Mr. Trusotsky brings with him, in his wooing of 
Miss Zachlebnikoff, a name and circumstances fully well- 
known to that esteemed family ; in the second place, he 
brings a fairly respectable position in the world; and 
thirdly, he brings wealth. Therefore he may well be surprised 
to find himself confronted by such a rival as yourself — a 
gentleman of great wealth, doubtless, but at the same time 
so very young, that he could not possibly look upon you as 
a serious rival ; therefore, again, he is quite right in begging 
you to bring the conversation to an end." 

*< What do you mean by * so very young ' ? I was nine- 
teen a month since ; by the law I might have been married 
long ago. That's a sufficient answer to your argument.'' 

" But what father would consent to allowing his daughter 
to marry you ?iow — even though you may be a Rothschild to 
come, or a benefactor to humanity in the future. A man of 
nineteen years old is not capable of answering foi* himself 
and yet you are ready to take on your own responsibility 
another being — in other words, a being who is as much a 
child as you are yourself. Why, it is hardly even honour- 
able on your part, is it ? I have presumed to address you 
thus, because you yourself referred the matter to me as a 
sort of arbiter between yourself and Pavel Pavlovitch." 

"Yes, by-the-bye, * Pavel Pavlovitch,' I forgot he was 
called that," remarked the youth. ** I wonder why I thought 
of him all along as * Vassili Petrovitch.' Look here, sir 
(addressings VelchaninofT), you have not surprised me in the 
least. I knew you were all tarred with one brush. It is 
strange that you should have been described to me as a man 
of some originality. However, to business. All that you 
have said is, of course, utter nonsense ; not only is there 
nothing * dishonourable ' about my intentions, as you per- 
mitted yourself to suggest, but the fact of the matter is 
entirely the reverse, as I hope to prove to you by-and-bye. 
In the first place, we have promised each other marriage, 
besides which I have given her my word that if she ever 



274 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

repents of her promise she shall have her full liberty to 
throw me over. I have given her surety to that effect before 
witnesses." 

" I bet anything your friend — what's his name ? — Pred- 
posiloff invented that idea," cried Velchaninoff. 

" He-he-he ! " giggled Pavel Pavlovitch contemptuously. 

" What is that person giggling about ? You are right, 
sir, it was Predposiloffs idea. But I don't think you and I 
quite understand one another, do we ? and I had such a 
good report of you.^ How old are you ? Are you fifty yet ? " 

" Stick to business, if you please." 

"Forgive the liberty. Idid not mean, anything offensive. 
Well, to proceed. I am no millionaire, and I am no 
great benefactor to humanity (to reply to your arguments), 
but I shall manage to keep myself and my wife. Of course 
I have nothing now ; I was brought up, in fact^ in their house 
from my childhood.'' 

" How so ? " 

'*0h, because 1 am a distant relative of this Mr. 
Zachlebnikoff 's wife. When my people died, he took me in 
and sent me to school. The old fellow is really quite a 
kind-hearted man, it you only knew it." 

" I do know it ! " 

"Yes, he's an old fogey rather, but a kind-hearted old 
fellow ; but I left him four months ago and began to keep 
myself I first joined a railway office at ten roubles a 
month, and am now in a notary's plgce at twenty-five. I 
made him a formal proposal for her a fortnight since. He 
first laughed like mad, and afterwards fell into a violent 
rage, and Nadia was locked up. She bore it heroically. He 
had been furious with me before for throwing up a post in 
his department which he procured for me. You see he is a 
good and kind old fellow at home, but get him in his office 
and — oh, my word ! — he's a sort oi Jupiter Tonans I I told 
him straight out that I didn't like his ways ; but the great 
row was — thanks to the second chief at the office ; he said I 
insulted him, but I only told him he was an ignorant 
beggar. So I threw tljem all up, and went in for the notary 
business. Listen to that ! What a clap ! We shall have a 
thunder-storm directly! What a good thing I arrived 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 275 

before the rain ! I came here on foot, you know, all the 
way, nearly at a run, too 1 " 

*' How in the world did you find an opportunity of 
speaking to Miss Nadia then ? especially since you are not 
allowed to meet," 

"Oh, one can always get over the railing; then there's 
that red-haired girl, she helps, and Maria Nikitishna — oh, 
but she's a snake, that girl ! What's the matter ? Are you 
afraid of the thunder-storm ? " 
*'No, I'm ill— seriously ill ! " ^ 

VelchaninofF had risen from his seat with a fearful sudden 
pain in his chest, and was trying to walk up and down the 
room. 

"Oh, really! then I'm disturbing you. I shall go at 
once," said the youth, jumping up. 

" No, you don't disturb me ! " said Velchaninoff cere- 
moniously. 

" How not ; of course I do, if you've got the stomach 
ache ! Well now, Vassili — what's your name — Pavel 
Pavlovitch, let's conclude this matter. I will formulate my 
question for once into words which will adapt themselves to 
your understanding : Are you prepared to renounce your 
claim to the hand of Nadejda Fedosievna before her 
parents, and in my presence, with all due formality ? " 

<*No, sir; not in the slightest degree prepared," said 
Pavel Pavlovitch witheringly ; " and allow me to say once 
more that all this is childish and absurd, and that you had 
better clear out ! " 

" Take care," said the youth, holding up a warning fore- 
finger; "better give it up now, for I warn you that otherwise 
you will spend a lot of money down there, and take a lot of 
trouble ; and when you come back in nine months you will 
be turned out of the house by Nadejda Fedosievna herself; 
and if you don't go f/ien, it will be the worse for you. 
Excuse me for saying so, but at present you are like the 
dog in the manger. Think over it, and be sensible for once 
in your life. 

"Spare me the moral, if you please," began Pavel 
Pavlovitch furiously ; " and as for your low threats I shall 
take my measures to-morrow — serious measures." 



276 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

" Low threats ? pooh ! You are low yourself to take 
them as such. Very well, 111 wait till to-morrow then ; but 
if you — there's the thunder again ! — au revoir — very glad to 
have met you, sir." He nodded to Velchaninoff and made 
off hurriedly, evidently anxious to reach home before the 
rain. 



CHAPTER XV. 

** You see, you see ! '* cried Pavel to VelchaninofF, the 
instant that the young fellow's back was turned. 

" Yes ; you are not going to succeed there,'* said Vel- 
chaninoff. He would not have been so abrupt and careless 
of Pavel's feelings if it had not been for the dreadful pain in 
his chest. 

Pavel Pavlovitch shuddered as though from a sudden 
scald. " Well, sir, and you — ^you were loth to give me 
back the bracelet, eh ? " 

*•' I hadn't time." 

" Oh ! you were sorry — ^you pitied me, as true friend 
pities friend ! " 

" Oh, well, I pitied you, then ! " Velchaninoff was grow- 
ing angrier every moment. However, he informed Pavel 
Pavlovitch shortly as to how he had received the bracelet, 
and how Nadia had almost forced it upon him. 

"You must understand," he added, "that otherwise I 
should never have agreed to accept the commission ; there 
are quite enough disagreeables already." 

" You liked the job, and accepted it with pleasure,'' gig- 
gled Pavel Pavlovitch. 

" That is foolish on your part ; but I suppose you must 
be forgiven. You must have .seen from that boy's behaviour 
that I play no part in this matter. Others are the principal 
actors, not 1 1 " 

" At all events the job had attractions for you." Pavel 
Pavlovitch sat down and poured out a glass of wine. 
277 T 



278 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

"You think I shall knuckle under to that young 
gentleman ? Pooh ! I shall drive him out to-morrow, sir, 
like dust. I'll smoke this little gentleman out of his 
nursery, sir; you see if I don't." He drank his wine off at 
a gulp, and poured out some more. He seemed to grow 
freer as the moments went by ; he talked glibly now. 

*^ Ha-ha! Sachinka and Nadienka !* darling little chil- 
dren. Ha-ha-ha ! '* He was beside himself with fury. 

At this moment, a terrific crash of thunder startled the 
silence, and was followed by flashes of lightning and sheets 
of heavy rain. Pavel Pavlovitch rose and shut the window. 

" The fellow asked you if you were afraid of the thunder ; 
do you remember ? Ha-ha-ha ! Velchaninoff afraid of 
thunder ! And all that about * fifty years old ' wasn't bad, 
eh? Ha-ha-ha!" Pavel Pavlovitch was in a spiteful 
mood. 

** You seem to have settled yourself here,*' said Velchani- 
noff, who could hardly speak for agony. " Do as you like, 
I must lie down." 

" Come, you wouldn't turn a dag out to-night ! " replied 
Pavel, glad of a grievance. 

" Of course, sit down ; drink your vnne — do anything you 
like," murmured Velchaninoff, as he laid himself flat on his 
divan, and groaned with pain. 

"Am I to spend the night? Aren't you afraid ?" 

*' What of ? " asked Velchaninoff, raising his head slightly. 

" Oh, nothing. Only last time you seemed to be a little 
alarmed, that's all." 

** You are a fool ! " said the other angrily, as he turned 
his face to the wall. 

" Very well, sir ; all right," said Pavel. 

Velchaninoff fell asleep within a nainute or so of lying 
down. The unnatural strain of the day, and his sickly state 
of health together, had suddenly undermined his strength, 
and he was as weak as a child. But physical pain would 
have its own, and soon conquered weakness and sleep ; in 
an hour he was wide awake again, and rose from the divan 
in anguish. Pavel Pavlovitch was asleep on the other sofa. 

* Short for Alexander and Nadejda. 



The permanent husband. 279 

He was dressed, and in his boots ; his hat lay on the floor, 
and his eye-glass hung by its cord almost to the ground. 
Velchaninoff did not wake his guest. The room was full 
of tobacco smoke, and the bottle was empty ; he looked 
savagely at the sleeping drunkard. 

Having twisted himself painfully off his bed, Velchaninoflf 
began to walk about, groaning and thinking of his agony ; 
he could lie no longer. 

He was alarmed for this pain in his chest, and not with- 
out reason. He was subject to these attacks, and had been 
so for many years ; but they came seldom, luckily — once a 
year or two years. On such occasions, his .agony was so 
dreadful for some ten hours or so that he invariably be- 
lieved that he must be actually dying. 

This night, his anguish was terrible ; it was too late to 
send for the doctor, but it was far from morning yet. He 
staggered up and down the room, and before long his 
groans became loud and frequent. 

The noise awoke Pavel Pavlovitch. He sat up on his 
divan, and for some time gazed in terror and perplexity upon 
Velchaninoff, as the latter walked moaning up and down. 
At last he gathered his senses, and enquired anxiously 
what was the matter. 

Velchaninoff muttered something unintelligible. 

** It's your kidneys — I'm sure it is," cried Pavel, very wide 
awake of a sudden. " I remember Peter Kuzmich used to 
have the same sort of attacks. The kidneys — ^why, one can 
die of it. Let me go and fetch Mavra." 

" No, no ; I don't want anything," muttered Velchaninoff, 
waving him off irritably. 

But Pavel Pavlovitch — ^goodness knows why— was beside 
himself with anxiety ; he was as much exercised as though 
the matter at issue were the saving of his own son's life. He 
insisted on immediate compresses, and told Velchaninoff 
he must drink two or three cups of very hot weak tea — 
boiling hot. He ran for Mavra, lighted the fire in the kit- 
chen, put the kettle on, put the sick man back to bed, 
covered him up, and within twenty minutes had the first 
hot application all ready, as well as the tea. 

" Hot plates, sir, hot plates," he cried, as Jie clapped the 

T— 2 



28o THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

first, wrapped in a napkin, on to VelchaninoflPs chest. " I 
have nothing else handy ; but I give you my word it's as 
good as anything else. Drink this tea quick, never mind if 
you scald your tongue — life is dearer. You can die of this 
sort of thing, you know." He sent sleepy Mavra out of 
her wits with flurry ; the plates were changed every couple 
of minutes. At the third application, and after having taken 
two cups of scalding tea, Velchaninoff suddenly felt de- 
cidedly better. 

"Capital! thank God! if we can once get the better of 
the pain it's a good sign ! *' cried Pavel, delightedly, and 
away he ran for another plate and some more tea. 

** If only we can beat the pain down ! " he kept muttering 
to himself every minute. 

In half an hour the agony was passed, but the sick man 
was so completely knocked up that, in spite of Pavel's 
repeated entreaties to be allowed to apply "just one more 
plate," he could bear no more. His eyes were drooping 
from weakness. 

" Sleep — sleep,*' he muttered faintly. 

" Very well,'* consented Pavel, " go to sleep." 

" Are you spending the night here ? What time is it ? '* 

" Nearly two." 

" You must sleep here." 

"Yes, yes— all right. I will." 

A moment after the sick man called to Pavel again. 

" You — you — " muttered the former faintly, as Pavel ran 
up and bent over him, " you are better than I am. I under- 
stand all— all— thank you ! " 

" Go to sleep ! " whispered Pavel Pavlovitch, as he crept 
back to his divan on tip-toes. 

Velchaninoff, dozing off, heard Pavel quietly make his 
bed, undress and lie down, all very softly, and then put the 
light out. 

Undoubtedly Velchaninoff fell asleep very quietly when 
the light was once out ; he remembered that much afterwards. 
Yet all the while he was asleep, and until he awoke, he 
dreamed that he could not go to sleep in spite of his weak- 
ness. At length he dreamed that he was delirious, and that 
he could not for the hfe of him chase away the visions which 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 281 

crowded in upon him, although he was conscious the whole 
while they were but visions and not reality. The apparition 
was familiar to him. He thought that his front door was 
open, and that his room gradually filled with people pouring 
in. At the table in the middle of the room, sat one man 
exactly as had been the case a month before, during one of 
his dreams. As on the previous occasion, this man leant on 
his elbow at the table and would not speak ; he was in a 
round hat with a crape band. 

" How ? " thought the dreamer. ** Was it really Pavel 
Pavlovitch last time as well ? " However, when he looked 
at the man's face, he was convinced that it was quite 
another person. 

" Why has he a crape band, then ?*' thought Velchaninoff 
in perplexity. 

The noise and chattering of all these people was dreadful ; 
they seemed even more exasperated with Velchaninoff than 
on the former occasion. They were all threatening him with 
something or other, shaking their fists at him, and shouting 
something which he could not understand. 

** It's all a vision," he dreamed, " I know quite well that 
I am up and about, because I could not he still . for 
anguish ! " 

Yet the cries and noise at times seemed so real that he 
was now and again half-convinced of their reality. 

" Surely this canU be delirium ! " he thought. " What on 
earth do all these people want of me— my God ! " 
Yet if it were not a vision, surely all these cries would have 
roused Pavel Pavlovitch ? There he was, fast asleep in his 
divan 1 

Then something suddenly occurred as in the old 
dream. Another crowd of people surged m, crushing those 
who were already collected inside. These new arrivals 
carried something large and heavy \ he could judge of the 
weight by their footsteps labouring upstairs. 

Those in the room cried, " They're bringing it ! they're 
bringing it ! " 

Every eye flashed as it turned and glared at Velchaninoff; 
every hand threatened him and then pointed to the stairs. 
Undoubtedly it was reality, not delirium. Velchaninoff 



282 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

thought that he stood up and raised himself on tip-toes, in 
order to see over the heads of the crowd. He wanted to 
know what was being carried in. 

His heart beat wildly, wildly, wildly ; and suddenly, as 
in his former dream, there came one — two— three loud 
rings at the bell. 

And again, the sound of the bell was so distinct and 
clear that he felt it could not be a dream. He gave a cry, 
and awoke ; but he did not rush to the door as on the 
former occasion. 

What sudden idea was it that guided his move- 
ments ? Had he any idea at all, or was it impulse that 
prompted him what to do? He sprang up in bed, with 
arms outstretched, as though to ward oif an attack, 
straight towards the divan where Pavel Pavlovitch was 
sleeping. 

His hands encountered other hands outstretched in his 
direction ; consequently some one must have been standing 
over him. 

The curtains were drawn, but it was not absolutely dark, 
because a faint light came from the next room, which had 
no curtains. 

Suddenly something cut the palm of his left hand, some 
of his fingers causing him sharp pain. He instantly realized 
that he had seized a knife or a razor, and he closed his 
hand upon it with the rapidity of thought. 

At that moment something fell to the ground with a hard 
metallic sound. 

Velchaninoflf was probably three times as strong as Pavel 
Pavlovitch, but the struggle lasted for a long while — at least 
three minutes. 

The former, however, forced his adversary to the earth, 
and bent his arms back behind his head ; then he paused, 
for he was most anxious to tie the hands. Holding the 
assassin's wrist with his wounded left hand, he felt for the 
blind cord with his right. For a long while he could 
not find it ; at last he grasped it, and tore it down. 

He was amazed afterwards at the unnatural strength 
which he must have displayed during all this. 

During the whole of the struggle neither man spoke a 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 283 

word ; only their heavy breathing was audible, and the inar- 
ticulate sounds emitted by both as they fought. 

At length, having secured his opponent's hands, Velchani- 
noff left him on the ground, rose, drew the curtains, and 
pulled up the blind. 

The deserted street was light now. He opened 
the window, and stood breathing in the fresh air for a 
few moments. It was a little past four o'clock. He shut 
the window once more, fetched a towel and bound up 
his cut hand as tightly as he could to stop the flow of 
blood. 

At his feet he caught sight of the opened razor lying on 
the carpet ; he picked it up, wiped it, and put it by in its 
own case, which he now saw he had left upon the little 
cupboard beside the divan which Pavel Pavlovitch occupied. 
He locked the cupboard. 

Having completed all these arrangements, he approached 
Pavel Pavlovitch and looked at him. Meanwhile the latter 
had managed to raise himself from the floor and reach a 
chair; he was now sitting in it — undressed to his shirt, 
which was stained with marks of blood both back and front 
— ^Velchaninoft's blood, not his own. 

Of course this was Pavel Pavlovitch ; but it would have 
been only natural for any one who had known him before, 
and saw him at this moment, to doubt his identity. He sat 
upright in his chair — very stiffly, owing to the uncomfortable 
position of his tightly bound hands behind his back ; his 
face looked yellow and crooked, and he shuddered every 
other moment. He gazed intently, but with an expression 
of dazed perplexity, at Velchaninoff". 

Suddenly he smiled gravely, and nodding towards a carafe 
of water on the table, muttered, " A Httle drop ! " 

Velchaninoff* poured some into a glass, and held it for 
him to drink. 

Pavel gulped a couple of mouthfuls greedily — then sud- 
denly raised his head and gazed intently at Velchaninoff 
standing over him ; he said nothing, however, but finished 
the water. He then sighed deeply. 

Velchaninoff* took his pillows and some of his clothing, 
and went into the next room, locking Pavel Pavlovitch 
behind him. 



284 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

His pain had quite disappeared, but he felt very weak 
after the strain of his late exertion. Goodness knows 
whence came his strength for the trial ; he tried to think, 
but he could not collect his ideas, the shock had been too 
great. 

His eyes would droop now and again, sometimes for ten 
minutes at a time ; then he would shudder, wake up, re- 
member all that had passed and raise the blood-stained rag 
bound about his hand to prove the reality of his thoughts ; 
then he would relapse into eager, feverish thought. One 
thing was quite certain, Pavel Pavlovitch had intended to 
cut his throat, though, perhaps, a quarter of an hour before 
the fatal moment he had not known that he would make 
the attempt. Perhaps he had seen the razor case last even- 
ing, and thought nothing of it, only remembering the fact 
that it was there. The razors were usually locked up, and 
only yesterday Velchaninoff had taken one out in order to 
make himself neat for his visit to the country, and had 
omitted to lock it up again. 

"If he had premeditated murdering me, he would 
, certainly have provided himself with a knife or a pistol 
long ago ; he could not have relied on my razors, which he 
never saw until yesterday," concluded Velchaninoff. 

At last the clock struck six. Velchaninoff arose, dressed 
himself, and went into Pavel Pavlovitch's room. As he 
opened the door he wondered why he had ever locked it, 
and why he had not allowed Pavel to go away at once. 

To his surprise the prisoner was dressed, he had doubt- 
less found means to get his hands loose. He was sitting in 
an armchair, but rose when Velchaninoff entered. His hat 
was in his hand. 

His anxious look seemed to say as plain as words : — 

" Don't talk to me ! It's no use talking — don't talk to 
me ! " 

" Go I " said Velchaninoff. " Take your jewel-case ! " he 
added. 

Pavel Pavlovitch turned back and seized his bracelet-case, 
stuffing it into his pocket, and went out. 

Velchaninoff stood in the hall, waiting to shut the front 
door after him. 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 285 

Their looks met for the last time. Pavel Pavlovitch 
stopped, and the two men gazed into each others eyes for 
five seconds or so, as though in indecision. At length 
Velchaninoflf faintly waved him away with his hand. 

" Go ! '* he said, only half aloud, as he closed the door 
and turned the key. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

A FEELING of immense happiness took possession of 
Velchaninoff ; something was finished, and done with, and 
settled. Some huge anxiety was at an end, so it seemed to 
him. This anxiety had lasted five weeks. 

He raised his hand and looked at the blood-stained rag 
bound about it. 

"Oh, yes 1" he thought, "it is, indeed, all over now." 

And all this morning — the first time for many a day, he 
did not even once think of Liza ; just as if the blood from 
those cut fingers had wiped out that grief as well, and 
made him " quits " with it. 

He quite realized how terrible was the danger which he 
had passed through. 

" For those people," he thought, " who do not know a 
minute or ttvo before-hand that they are going to murder 
you, when they once get the knife into their hands, and 
feel the first touch of warm blood — Good Heaven ! they 
not only cut your throat, they hack your head off after- 
wards — right off ! '' 

Velchaninoff could not sit at home, he must go out and 
let something happen to him, and he walked about in 
hopes of something turning up ; he longed to talk^ and it 
struck him that he might fairly go to the doctor and talk to 
him, and have his hand properly bound up. 

The doctor inquired how he hurt his hand, which 
made Velchaninoff laugh like mad ; he was on the point 
286 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 287 

o{ telling all, but refrained. Several times during the day 
he was on the point of telling others the whole story. Once 
it was to a perfect stranger in a restaurant, with whom he 
had begun to converse on his own initiative. Before this 
day he had hated the very idea of speaking to strangers in 
the public restaurant's. 

He went into a shop and ordered some new clothes, 
not with the idea of visiting the Pogoryeltseffs however 
— the thought of any such visit was distasteful to him ; 
besides he could not leave town, he felt that he must 
stay and see what was going to happen. 

Velchaninoff dined and enjoyed his dinner, talking 
affably to his neighbour and to the waiter as well. When 
evening fell he went home, his head was whirling a little, 
and he felt slightly delirious ; the first sight of his rooms 
gave him quite a start. He walked round them and re- 
flected. He visited the kitchen, which he had hardly ever 
done before in his life, and thought, " This is where they 
heated the plates last night." He locked the doors 
carefully, and lit his candies earlier than usual. As he shut 
the door he remembered that he had asked Mavra, as he 
passed the dvornik's lodging, whether Pavel Pavlovitch had 
been. Just as if the latter could possibly have been near 
the place ! 

Having then carefully locked himself in, he opened 
the little cupboard where his razors were kept, and took 
out " the '' razor. There was still some of the blood on the 
bone handle. He put the razor back again, and locked the 
cupboard. 

He was sleepy ; he felt that he must go to sleep as speedily 
as possible, otherwise he would be useless " for to-morrow," 
and to-morrow seemed to him for some reason or other to 
be about to be a fateful day for him. 

But all those thoughts which had crowded in upon him 
all day, and had never left him for a moment, were still in 
full swing within his brain ; he thought, and thought, and 
thought, and could not fall asleep. 

If Pavel Pavlovitch arrived at murdering point acci- 
dentally, had he ever seriously thought of murder even for a 
single evil. instant before ? Velchaninoff decided the question 



288 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

Strangely enough : Pavel Pavlovitch had the desire to 
murder him, but did not himself know of the existence of 
this desire. 

" It seems an absurd conclusion ; but so it is ! " thought 
Velchaninoff. 

Pavel Pavlovitch did not come to Petersburg to look out 
for a new appointment, nor did he come for the sake of 
finding BagantofF, in spite of his rage when the latter died. 
No ! he despised Bagantoflf thoroughly. Pavel Pavlovitch 
had come to St. Petersburg for hiin^ and had brought Liza 
with him, for him alone, Velchaninoff. 

" Did / expect to have my throat cut ? " Velchaninoff 
decided that he had expected it, from the moment when he 
saw Pavel Pavlovitch in the carriage following in Bagan toffs 
funeral procession. "That is I expected something — of 
course, not exactly to have my throat cut ! And surely — 
surely, it was not all bond, fide yesterday," he reflected, 
raising his head from the pillow in the excitement of the 
idea. " Surely it cannot have been all in good faith that 
that fellow assured me of his love for me, beating his breast, 
and with his under lip trembling, as he spoke ! 

" Yes, it was absolutely bond. fide I " he decided* " This 
quasimodo of T — was quite good enough and generous 
enough to fall in love with his wife's lover — his wife in 
whom he never observed 'anything' during the twenty 
years of their married life. 

** He respected and loved me for nine years, and remem- 
bered both me and my sayings. My goodness, to think of 
that 1 and I knew nothing whatever of all this ! Oh, no I 
he was not lying yesterday ! But did he love me while he 
declared his love for me, and said that we must be * quits ! ' 
Yes, he did , he loved me spitefully — ^and spiteful love is 
sometimes the strongest of all. 

" I daresay I made a colossal impression upon him down 

at T , for it is just upon such Schiller-like men that one is 

liable to make a colossal impression. He exaggerated my 
value a thousand fold ; perhaps it was my * philosophical 
retirement ' that struck him ! It would be curious to dis- 
cover precisely what it was that made so great an impression 
upon him. Who knows, it may have been that I wore a 



^THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 289 

good pair of gloves, and knew how to put them on. These 
quasimodo fellows love aestheticism to distraction ! Give 
them a start in the direction of admiration for yourself, and 
they will do all the rest, and give you a thousand times 
more than your due of every virtue that exists ; will fight 
to the death for you with pleasure, if you ask it of them. 
How high he must have held my aptitude for illusionizing 
others ; perhaps that has struck him as much as anything 
else ! for he remarked : ' If this man deceived me, whom 
am I ever to trust again ! ' " 

'* After such a cry as that a man may well turn wild beast. 

" And he came here to * embrace and weep over me, 
as he expressed it. H'm ! that means he came to cut my 
throat, and thought that he came to embrace and weep over 
me. He brought Liza with him, too. 

" What if I had wept with him and embraced him ? Per- 
haps he really would have fully and entirely forgiven me — 
for he was yearning to forgive me, I could see that ! And 
all this turned to drunkenness and bestiality at the first 
check. Yes, Pavel Pavlovitch, the most deformed of all 
deformities is the abortion with noble feelings. And this 
man was foolish enough to take me down to see his 
' bride.' My goodness I his bride 1 Only such a lunatic 
of a fellow could ever have developed so wild an idea as a 
** new existence * to be inaugurated by an alliance between 
himself and Nadia. But you are not to blame, Pavel 
Pavlovitch, you are a deformity, and all your ideas and 
actions and aspirations must of necessity be deformed. 
But deformity though he be, why in the world was my 
sanction, my blessing, as it were, necessary to his union 
with Miss Zachlebnikoff ? Perhaps he sincerely hoped that 
there, with so much sweet innocence and charm around us, 
we should fall into each other's arms in some leafy spot, 
and weep out our differences on each other's shoulders ? 

" Was murder in his thoughts when I caught him standing 
between our beds that first time, in the darkness ? No, I 
think not. And yet the first idea of it may have entered 
his soul as he stood there — And if I had not left the 
razors out, probably nothing would have happened. Surely 
that is so ; for he avoided me for weeks — he was sorry 



290 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

for me, and avoided me. He chose Bagantoff to expend 
his wrath upon, first, not me ! He jumped out of bed and 
fussed over the hot plates, to divert his mind from murder 
perhaps — from the knife to charity ! Perhaps he tried to 
save both himself and me by his hot plates ! " 

So musevl Velchaninoff, his poor overwrought brain 
working on and on, and jumping from conclusion to con- 
clusion with the endless activity of fever, until he fell asleep. 
Next morning he awoke with no less tired brain and body, 
but with a new terror, an unexpected and novel feeling of 
dread hanging over him. 

This dread consisted in the fact that he felt that 
he, Velchaninoff, must go and see Pavel Pavlovitch 
that very day ; he knew not why he must go, but he felt 
drawn to go, as though by some unseen force. The idea 
was too loathsome to look into, so he left it to take care of 
itself as an unalterable fact. The madness of it, however, 
was modified, and the whole aspect of the thought became 
more reasonable, after a while, when it took shape and 
resolved itself into a conviction in Velchaninoft's mind that 
Pavel Pavlovitch had returned home, locked himself up, 
and hung himself to the bedpost, as Maria Sisevna had 
described of the wretched suicide witnessed by poor Liza. 

" Why should the fool hang himself? *' he repeated over 
and over again ; yet the thought would return that he was 
bound to hang himself, as Liza had said that he threatened 
to do. Velchaninoff could not help adding that if he were 
in Pavel Pavlovitch*s place he would probably do the same. 

So the end of it was that instead of going out to his 
dinner, he set off for Pavel Pavlovitch*s lodging, "just to 
ask Maria Sisevna after him." But before he had reached 
the street he paused and his face flushed up with shame. 
** Surely I am not going there to embrace and weep over 
him 1 Surely I am not going to add this one last pitiful 
folly to the long list of my late shameful actions ! " 

However, his good providence saved him from this " piti- 
ful folly," for he had hardly passed through the large gate- 
way into the street, when Alexander Loboff suddenly 
collided with him. The young fellow was dashing along in a 
state of great excitement. 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 29 1 

" I was just coming to you. Our friend Pavel Pavlovitch — 
a nice sort of fellow he is-^ '* 

" Has he hung himself? " gasped Velchaninoff. 

"Hung himself? Who? Why?" asked Loboff, with 
his eyes starting out of his head. 

** Oh ! go on, I meant nothing I " 

«* Tfu ! What a funny line your thoughts seem to take. 
He hasn't hung himself a bit — why in the world should he ? 
— on the contrary, he's gone away. I've just seen him off! 
My goodness, how that fellow can drink I We had three 
bottles of wine. Predposiloff was there too — but how the 
fellow drinks ! Good heavens ! he was singing in the 
carriage when the train went off! He thought of you, and 
kissed his hand to you, and sent his love. He's a scamp, 
that fellow, eh?" 

Young Loboff had apparently had quite his share of the 
three bottles, his face was flushed and his utterance thick. 
Velchaninoff roared with laughter. 

** So you ended up by weeping over each others shoulders, 
did you ? Ha-ha-ha ! Oh, you poetical, Schiller-ish, funny 
fellows, you ! " 

** Don't scold us. You must know he went down there 
yesterday and to-day, and he has withdrawn. He * sneaked ' 
like anything about Nadia and me. They've shut her up. 
There was such a row, but we wouldn't give way — and, my 
word, how the fellow drinks ! He was always talking about 
you ; but, of course, he is no companion for you. You are, 
more or less, a respectable sort of man, and must have 
belonged to society at some time of your life, though you 
seem to have retired into private life just now. Is it poverty, 
or what ? I couldn't make head or tail of Pavel Pavlovitch's 
story." 

" Oh ! Then it was he who gave you those interesting 
details about me ? " 

"Yes; don't be cross about it. It's better to be a 
citizen than * a swell ' any-day! The thing is one does not 
know whom to respect in Russia nowadays ! Don't you 
think it a diseased feature of the times, in Russia, that one 
doesn't know whom to respect ? " 

"Quite so, quite so. Well, go on about Pavel 
Pavlovitch " 



CHAPTER XVII. 

THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

Two years have elapsed since the events recorded in the 
foregoing chapters, and we find our friend Velchaninoff, one 
lovely summer day, seated in a railway carriage on his 
way to Odessa ; he was making the journey for the purpose 
of seeing a great friend, and of being 'introduced to a lady 
whose acquaintance he had long wished to make. 

Without entering into any details, we may remark that 
Velchaninoff was entirely changed during these last two years. 
He was no longer the miserable, fanciful hypochondriac 
of those dark days. He had returned to society and to his 
friends, who gladly forgave him his temporary relapse into 
seclusion. Even those whom he had ceased to bow to, 
when met, were now among the first to extend the hand of 
friendship once more, and asked no questions — just as 
though he had been abroad on private business, which was 
no affair of theirs. 

His success in the legal matters of which we have heard, 
and the fact of having his sixty thousand roubles sa'e at his 
bankers — enough to keep him all his life — was the elixir 
which brought him back to health and spirits. His^ 
premature wrinkles departed, his eyes grew brighter, and his 
comjilexion better; he became more active and vigorous — 
in fact, as he sat thinking in a comfortable first-class 
carriage, he looked a very different man from the Velchani- 
noff of two years ago. 

The next station to be reached was that at which passen- 
294 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 29S 

gers were expected to dine, forty minutes being allowed for 
this purpose. 

It so happened that Velchaninoff, while seated at the 
dinner table, was able to do a service to a lady who was 
also dining there. This lady was young and nice looking, 
though rather too flashily dressed, and was accompanied by 
a young officer who unfortunately was scarcely in a befit- 
ting condition for ladies' society, having refreshed himself 
at the bar to an unnecessary extent. This young man suc- 
ceeded in quarrelling with another person equally unfit for 
ladies' society, and a brawl ensued, which threatened to land 
both parties upon the table in close proximity to the lady. 
Velchaninoff interfered, and removed the brawlers to a safe 
distance, to the great and almost boundless gratitude of the 
alarmed lady, who hailed him as her "guardian angel.*' 
Velchaninoff was interested in the young woman, who 
looked like a respectable provincial lady — of provincial 
manners and taste, as her dress and gestures showed. 

A conversation was opened, and the lady immediately 
commenced to lament that her husband was " never by 
when he was wanted," and that he had now gone and 
hidden himself somewhere just because he happened to be 
required. 

" Poor fellow, he'll catch it for this," thought Velchani- 
noff. " If you will tell me your husband's name," he added 
aloud, *' I will find him, with pleasure." 

** Pavel Pavlovitch," hiccupped the young officer. 

"Your husband's name is Pavel Pavlovitch, is it?" 
inquired Velchaninoff with curiosity, and at the same 
moment a familiar bald head was interposed between the 
lady and himself. 

" Here you are at lastj^ cried the wife, hysterically. 

It was indeed Pavel Pavlovitch. 

He gazed in amazement and dread at Velchaninoff, falling 
bacic before him just as though he saw a ghost. So great 
was his consternation, that for some time it was clear that 
he did not understand a single word of what his wife was 
telling him — ^which was that Velchaninoff had acted as her 
guardian angel, and that he (Pavel) ought to be ashamed of 
himself for never being at hand when he was wanted. 
U— 2 



296 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

At last Pavel Pavlovitch shuddered, and woke up to 
consciousness. 

VelchaninofF suddenly burst out laughing. "Why, we 
are old friends " — he cried, " friends from childhood ! " He 
clapped his hand familiarly and encouragingly on Pavel's 
shoulder. Pavel smiled wanly. " Hasn't he ever spoken 
to you of VelchaninofF?" 

** No, never," said the wife, a little confused. 

** Then introduce me to your wife, you faithless friend 1 " 

"This — this is Mr. Velchaninoff ! " muttered Pavel 
Pavlovitch, looking the picture of confusion. 

All went swimmingly after this. Pavel Pavlovitch was 
despatched to cater for the party, while his lady informed 

Velchaninoff that they were on their way from O , 

where Pavel Pavlovitch served, to their- country place — a 
lovely house, she said, some twenty-five miles away. There 
they hoped to receive a party of friends, and if Mr. Vel- 
chaninoff would be so very kind as to take pity on their 
rustic home, and honour it with a visit, she should do her 
best to show her gratitude to the guardian angel who, etc., 
etc. Velchaninoff replied that he would be delighted ; and 
that he was an idle man, and always free — adding a compli- 
ment or two which caused the fair lady to blush with delight, 
and to tell Pavel Pavlovitch, who now returned from his 
quest, that Alexey Ivanovitch had been so kind as to 
promise to pay them a visit next week, and stay a whole 
month. 

Pavel Pavlovitch, to the amazed wrath of his wife, 
smiled a sickly smile, and said nothing. 

After dinner the party bade farewell to Velchaninoff, and 
returned to their carriage, while the latter walked up and 
down the platform smoking his cigar ; he knew that Pavel 
Pavlovitch would return to talk to him. 

So it turned out. Pavel came up with an expression of 
the most anxious and harassed misery. Velchaninoff 
smiled, took his arm, led him to a seat, and sat down beside 
him. He did not say anything, for he was anxious that 
Pavel should make the first move. • 

"So you are coming to us?" murmured the latter at 
last, plunging in nudias res. 



THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 297 

ipt "I knew you'd begin like that ! you haven't changed an 

atom!" cried Velchaninoff, roaring with laughter, and 
re slapping him confidentially on the back. "Surely, you 

Hf don't really suppose that I ever had the smallest intention 

eJ! of visiting you — and staying a month too ! " 

[2 Pavel Pavlovitch gave a start. 

"Then you're «^/ coming?" he cried, without an attempt 
to hide his joy. 

" No, no !. of course not ! " replied Velchaninoff, laugh- 
el ing. He did not know why, but all this was exquisitely 
droll to him ; and the further it went the funnier it seemed. 
5 " Really — are you really serious ? " cried Pavel, jumping 

i up- 

"Yes; I tell you, J won't come — ^not for the world !" 
! " But what will my wife say now ? She thinks you intend 

to come 1 " 

"Oh, tell her I've broken my leg — or anything you 
like!" 

" She won't believe ! " said Pavel, looking anxious. 

"Ha-ha-ha! You catch it at home, I see! Tell me, 
who is that young officer ? " 

"Oh, a distant relative of mine — an unfortunate 
young fellow " 

"Pavel Pavlovitch h" cried a voice from the carriage, 
" the second bell has rung 1 " 

Pavel was about to move off — Velchaninoflf stopped him. 

" Shall I go and tell your wife how you tried to cut my 
throat ? " he said. 

" What are you thinking of —God forbid 1 " cried Pavel, 
in a terrible fright. 

"Well, go along, then!" said the other, loosing his 
hold of Pavel's shoulder. 

"Then — then — ^you won't come, will you?" said Pavel 
once more, timidly and despairingly, and clasping his hands 
in entreaty. 

"No — 1 won't — I swear! — run away — you'll be late!" 
He put out his hand mechanically, then recollected himself, 
and shuddered. Pavel did not take the proffered hand, he 
withdrew his own. 

The third bell rang. 



? 



1 



298 THE PERMANENT HUSBAND. 

An instantaneous but total change seemed to have come 
over both. Something snapped within Velchaninoff s heart 
— so it seemed to him, and he who had been roaring with 
laughter a moment before, seized Pavel Pavlovitch angrily 
by the shoulder. 

" If I — /offer you my hand, sir" (he showed the scar on 
the palm of his left hand)— "if / can offer you my hand, 
sir, I should think you might accept it !" he hissed with 
white and trembling lips. 

Pavel Pavlovitch grew deadly white also, his lips quivered 
and a convulsion seemed to run through his features : 

" And — Liza ?" he whispered quickly. Suddenly his whole 
face worked, and tears started to his eyes. 

Velchaninoff stood like a log before him. 

" Pavel Pavlovitch ! Pavel Pavlovitch ! " shrieked the 
voice from the carriage, in despairing accents, as though 
some one were being murdered. 

Pavel roused himself and started to run. At that 
moment the engine whistled, and the train moved off. 
Pavel Pavlovitch just managed to cling on, and so climb 
into his carriage, as it moved out of the station. 

Velchaninoff waited for another train, and then continued 
his journey to Odessa. 



THE END. 



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