BAZAROVS old parents were all the more overjoyed by their sons arrival, as it was quite unexpected. Arina Vlasyevna was greatly excited, and kept running backwards and forwards in the house, so that Vassily Ivanovitch compared her to a hen partridge; the short tail of her abbreviated jacket did, in fact, give her something of a birdlike appearance. He himself merely growled and gnawed the amber mouthpiece of his pipe, or, clutching his neck with his fingers, turned his head round, as though he were trying whether it were properly screwed on, then all at once he opened his wide mouth and went off into a perfectly noiseless chuckle.
He kept his promise. After installing his son as before in his study, he almost hid himself away from him, and he kept his wife from all superfluous demonstrations of tenderness. On Enyushas first visit, my dear soul, he said to her, we bothered him a little; we must be wiser this time. Arina Vlasyevna agreed with her husband, but that was small compensation since she saw her son only at meals, and was now absolutely afraid to address him. Enyushenka, she would say sometimesand before he had time to look round, she was nervously fingering the tassels of her reticule and faltering, Never mind, never mind, I only and afterwards she would go to Vassily Ivanovitch and, her cheek in her hand, would consult him: If you could only find out, darling, which Enyusha would like for dinner todaycabbage-broth or beetroot-soup?But why didnt you ask him yourself?Oh, he will get sick of me! Bazarov, however, soon ceased to shut himself up; the fever of work fell away, and was replaced by dreary boredom or vague restlessness. A strange weariness began to show itself in all his movements; even his walk, firm, bold and strenuous, was changed. He gave up walking in solitude, and began to seek society; he drank tea in the drawing-room, strolled about the kitchen-garden with Vassily Ivanovitch, and smoked with him in silence; once even asked after Father Alexey. Vassily Ivanovitch at first rejoiced at this change, but his joy was not long-lived. Enyushas breaking my heart, he complained in secret to his wife: its not that hes discontented or angrythat would be nothing; hes sad, hes sorrowfulthats whats so terrible. Hes always silent. If hed only abuse us; hes growing thin, hes lost his colour.Mercy on us, mercy on us! whispered the old woman; I would put an amulet on his neck, but, of course, he wont allow it. Vassily Ivanovitch several times attempted in the most circumspect manner to question Bazarov about his work, about his health, and about Arkady. But Bazarovs replies were reluctant and casual; and, once noticing that his father was trying gradually to lead up to something in conversation, he said to him in a tone of vexation: Why do you always seem to be walking round me on tiptoe? That ways worse than the old one.There, there, I meant nothing! poor Vassily Ivanovitch answered hurriedly. So his diplomatic hints remained fruitless. He hoped to awaken his sons sympathy one day by beginning à propos of the approaching emancipation of the peasantry, to talk about progress; but the latter responded indifferently: Yesterday I was walking under the fence, and I heard the peasant boys here, instead of some old ballad, bawling a street song. Thats what progress is.
Sometimes Bazarov went into the village, and in his usual bantering tone entered into conversation with some peasant: Come, he would say to him, expound your views on life to me, brother; you see, they say all the strength and future of Russia lies in your hands, a new epoch in history will be started by youyou give us our real language and our laws.
That, little father, is the earth that rests on three fishes, the peasant would declare soothingly, in a kind of patriarchal, simple-hearted sing-song; and over against ours, thats to say, the mir, we know theres the masters will; wherefore you are our fathers. And the stricter the masters rule, the better for the peasant.
Arrears, no indeed, mate! answered the first peasant, and now there was no trace of patriarchal singsong in his voice; on the contrary, there was a certain scornful gruffness to be heard in it: Oh, he clacked away about something or other; wanted to stretch his tongue a bit. Of course, hes a gentleman; what does he understand?
What should he understand! answered the other peasant, and jerking back their caps and pushing down their belts, they proceeded to deliberate upon their work and their wants. Alas! Bazarov, shrugging his shoulders contemptuously, Bazarov, who knew how to talk to peasants (as he had boasted in his dispute with Pavel Petrovitch), did not in his self-confidence even suspect that in their eyes he was all the while something of the nature of a buffooning clown.
He found employment for himself at last, however. One day Vassily Ivanovitch bound up a peasants wounded leg before him, but the old mans hands trembled, and he could not manage the bandages; his son helped him, and from time to time began to take a share in his practice, though at the same time he was constantly sneering both at the remedies he himself advised and at his father, who hastened to make use of them. But Bazarovs jeers did not in the least perturb Vassily Ivanovitch; they were positively a comfort to him. Holding his greasy dressing-gown across his stomach with two fingers, and smoking his pipe, he used to listen with enjoyment to Bazarov; and the more malicious his sallies, the more good-humouredly did his delighted father chuckle, showing every one of his black teeth. He used even to repeat these sometimes flat or pointless retorts, and would, for instance, for several days constantly without rhyme or reason, reiterate, Not a matter of the first importance! simply because his son, on hearing he was going to matins, had made use of that expression. Thank God! he has got over his melancholy! he whispered to his wife; how he gave it to me to-day, it was splendid! Moreover, the idea of having such an assistant excited him to ecstasy, filled him with pride. Yes, yes, he would say to some peasant woman in a mans cloak, and a cap shaped like a horn, as he handed her a bottle of Goulards extract or a box of white ointment, you ought to be thanking God, my good woman, every minute that my son is staying with me; you will be treated now by the most scientific, most modern method. Do you know what that means? The Emperor of the French, Napoleon, even, has no better doctor. And the peasant woman, who had come to complain that she felt so sort of queer all over (the exact meaning of these words she was not able, however, herself to explain), merely bowed low and rummaged in her bosom, where four eggs lay tied up in the corner of a towel.
Bazarov once even pulled out a tooth for a passing pedlar of cloth; and though this tooth was an average specimen, Vassily Ivanovitch preserved it as a curiosity, and incessantly repeated, as he showed it to Father Alexey, Just look, what a fang! The force Yevgeny has! The pedlar seemed to leap into the air. If it had been an oak, hed have rooted it up!
One day a peasant from a neighbouring village brought his brother to Vassily Ivanovitch, ill with typhus. The unhappy man, lying flat on a truss of straw, was dying; his body was covered with dark patches, he had long ago lost consciousness. Vassily Ivanovitch expressed his regret that no one had taken steps to procure medical aid sooner, and declared there was no hope. And, in fact, the peasant did not get his brother home again; he died in the cart.
Look here, on my finger. I went to-day to the village, you know, where they brought that peasant with typhus fever. They were just going to open the body for some reason or other, and Ive had no practice of that sort for a long while.
Vassily Ivanovitch all at once turned quite white, and, without uttering a word, rushed to his study, from which he returned at once with a bit of caustic in his hand. Bazarov was about to take it and go away.
Up till late that evening, and all the following day, Vassily Ivanovitch kept catching at every possible excuse to go into his sons room; and though far from referring to the cuthe even tried to talk about the most irrelevant subjectshe looked so persistently into his face, and watched him in such trepidation, that Bazarov lost patience and threatened to go away. Vassily Ivanovitch gave him a promise not to bother him, the more readily as Arina Vlasyevna, from whom, of course, he kept it all secret, was beginning to worry him as to why he did not sleep, and what had come over him. For two whole days he held himself in, though he did not at all like the look of his son, whom he kept watching stealthily, but on the third day, at dinner, he could bear it no longer. Bazarov sat with downcast looks, and had not touched a single dish.
Bazarov did not get up again that day, and passed the whole night in heavy, half-unconscious torpor. At one oclock in the morning, opening his eyes with an effort, he saw by the light of a lamp his fathers pale face bending over him, and told him to go away. The old man begged his pardon, but he quickly came back on tiptoe, and half-hidden by the cupboard door, he gazed persistently at his son. Arina Vlasyevna did not go to bed either, and leaving the study door just open a very little, she kept coming up to it to listen how Enyusha was breathing, and to look at Vassily Ivanovitch. She could see nothing but his motionless bent back, but even that afforded her some faint consolation. In the morning Bazarov tried to get up; he was seized with giddiness, his nose began to bleed; he lay down again. Vassily Ivanovitch waited on him in silence; Arina Vlasyevna went in to him and asked him how he was feeling. He answered, Better, and turned to the wall. Vassily Ivanovitch gesticulated at his wife with both hands; she bit her lips so as not to cry, and went away. The whole house seemed suddenly darkened; every one looked gloomy; there was a strange hush; a shrill cock was carried away from the yard to the village, unable to comprehend why he should be treated so. Bazarov still lay, turned to the wall. Vassily Ivanovitch tried to address him with various questions, but they fatigued Bazarov, and the old man sank into his armchair, motionless, only cracking his finger-joints now and then. He went for a few minutes into the garden, stood there like a statue, as though overwhelmed with unutterable bewilderment (the expression of amazement never left his face all through), and went back again to his son, trying to avoid his wifes questions. She caught him by the arm at last, and passionately, almost menacingly, said, What is wrong with him? Then he came to himself, and forced himself to smile at her in reply; but to his own horror, instead of a smile, he found himself taken somehow by a fit of laughter. He had sent at daybreak for a doctor. He thought it necessary to inform his son of this, for fear he should be angry. Bazarov suddenly turned over on the sofa, bent a fixed dull look on his father, and asked for drink.
Come, thats humbug. But thats not the point. I didnt expect to die so soon; its a most unpleasant incident, to tell the truth. You and mother ought to make the most of your strong religious belief; nows the time to put it to the test. He drank off a little water. I want to ask you about one thing while my head is still under my control. Tomorrow or next day my brain, you know, will send in its resignation. Im not quite certain even now whether Im expressing myself clearly. While Ive been lying here, Ive kept fancying red dogs were running round me, while you were making them point at me, as if I were a woodcock. Just as if I were drunk. Do you understand me all right?
Whos Arkady Nikolaitch? said Bazarov, as though in doubt. Oh, yes! that chicken! No, let him alone; hes turned jackdaw now. Dont be surprised; thats not delirium yet. You send a messenger to Madame Odintsov, Anna Sergyevna; shes a lady with an estate. Do you know? (Vassily Ivanovitch nodded.) Yevgeny Bazarov, say, sends his greetings, and sends word he is dying. Will you do that?
No, why? Say I sent greetings; nothing more is necessary. And now Ill go back to my dogs. Strange! I want to fix my thoughts on death, and nothing comes of it. I see a kind of blur and nothing more.
The doctor, the same district doctor who had had no caustic, arrived, and after looking at the patient, advised them to persevere with a cooling treatment, and at that point said a few words of the chance of recovery.
Have you ever chanced to see people in my state not set off for Elysium? asked Bazarov, and suddenly snatching the leg of a heavy table that stood near his sofa, he swung it round, and pushed it away. Theres strength, theres strength, he murmured; everythings here still, and I must die! An old man at least has time to be weaned from life, but I Well, go and try to disprove death. Death will disprove you, and thats all! Whos crying there? he added, after a short pause.Mother? Poor thing! Whom will she feed now with her exquisite beetroot-soup? You, Vassily Ivanovitch, whimpering too, I do believe! Why, if Christianitys no help to you, be a philosopher, a Stoic, or what not! Why, didnt you boast you were a philosopher?
Bazarov got worse every hour; the progress of the disease was rapid, as is usually the way in cases of surgical poisoning. He still had not lost consciousness, and understood what was said to him; he was still struggling. I dont want to lose my wits, he muttered, clenching his fists; what rot it all is! And at once he would say, Come, take ten from eight, what remains? Vassily Ivanovitch wandered about like one possessed, proposed first one remedy, then another, and ended by doing nothing but cover up his sons feet. Try cold pack emetic mustard plasters on the stomach bleeding, he would murmur with an effort. The doctor, whom he had entreated to remain, agreed with him, ordered the patient lemonade to drink, and for himself asked for a pipe and something warming and strengtheningthats to say, brandy. Arina Vlasyevna sat on a low stool near the door, and only went out from time to time to pray. A few days before, a looking-glass had slipped out of her hands and been broken, and this she had always considered an omen of evil; even Anfisushka could say nothing to her. Timofeitch had gone off to Madame Odintosovs.
The night passed badly for Bazarov. He was in the agonies of high fever. Towards morning he was a little easier. He asked for Arina Vlasyevna to comb his hair, kissed her hand, and swallowed two gulps of tea. Vassily Ivanovitch revived a little.
There, to think now! murmured Bazarov; what a word can do! Hes found it; hes said crisis, and is comforted. Its an astounding thing how man believes in words. If hes told hes a fool, for instance, though hes not thrashed, hell be wretched; call him a clever fellow, and hell be delighted if you go off without paying him.
The change for the better did not last long. The disease resumed its onslaughts. Vassily Ivanovitch was sitting by Bazarov. It seemed as though the old man were tormented by some special anguish. He was several times on the point of speakingand could not.
This unfamiliar mode of address produced an effect on Bazarov. He turned his head a little, and, obviously trying to fight against the load of oblivion weighing upon him, he articulated: What is it, father?
Yevgeny, Vassil Ivanovitch went on, and he fell on his knees before Bazarov, though the latter had closed his eyes and could not see him. Yevgeny, you are better now; please God, you will get well, but make use of this time, comfort your mother and me, perform the duty of a Christian! What it means for me to say this to you, its awful; but still more awful for ever and ever, Yevgeny think a little, what
The sound of a light carriage on springs, that sound which is peculiarly impressive in the wilds of the country, suddenly struck upon his hearing. Nearer and nearer rolled the light wheels; now even the neighing of the horses could be heard. Vassily Ivanovitch jumped up and ran to the little window. There drove into the courtyard of his little house a carriage with seats for two, with four horses harnessed abreast. Without stopping to consider what it could mean, with a rush of a sort of senseless joy, he ran out on to the steps. A groom in livery was opening the carriage doors; a lady in a black veil and a black mantle was getting out of it
Benefactress! cried Vassily Ivanovitch, and snatching her hand, he pressed it convulsively to his lips, while the doctor brought by Anna Sergyevna, a little man in spectacles, of German physiognomy, stepped very deliberately out of the carriage. Still living, my Yevgeny is living, and now he will be saved! Wife! wife! An angel from heaven has come to us.
What does it mean, good Lord! faltered the old woman, running out of the drawing-room; and, comprehending nothing, she fell on the spot in the passage at Anna Sergyevnas feet, and began kissing her garments like a mad woman.
You shall see her, Yevgeny; but first we must have a little talk with the doctor. I will tell him the whole history of your illness since Sidor Sidoritch (this was the name of the district doctor) has gone, and we will have a little consultation.
She looked at Bazarov and stood still in the doorway, so greatly was she impressed by the inflamed, and at the same time deathly face, with its dim eyes fastened upon her. She felt simply dismayed, with a sort of cold and suffocating dismay; the thought that she would not have felt like that if she had really loved him flashed instantaneously through her brain.
Ah, Anna Sergyevna, let us speak the truth. Its all over with me. Im under the wheel. So it turns out that it was useless to think of the future. Deaths an old joke, but it comes fresh to every one. So far Im not afraid but there, senselessness is coming, and then its all up! he waved his hand feebly. Well, what had I to say to you I loved you! there was no sense in that even before, and less than ever now. Love is a form, and my own form is already breaking up. Better say how lovely you are! And now here you stand, so beautiful
Noble-hearted! he whispered. Oh, how near, and how young, and fresh, and pure in this loathsome room! Well, good-bye! live long, thats the best of all, and make the most of it while there is time. You see what a hideous spectacle; the worm half-crushed, but writhing still. And, you see, I thought too: Id break down so many things, I wouldnt die, why should I! there were problems to solve, and I was a giant! And now all the problem for the giant is how to die decently, though that makes no difference to any one either. Never mind; Im not going to turn tail.
You will forget me, he began again; the deads no companion for the living. My father will tell you what a man Russia is losing. Thats nonsense, but dont contradict the old man. Whatever toy will comfort the child you know. And be kind to mother. People like them arent to be found in your great world if you look by daylight with a candle. I was needed by Russia. No, its clear, I wasnt needed. And who is needed? The shoemakers needed, the tailors needed, the butcher gives us meat the butcher wait a little, Im getting mixed. Theres a forest here
He has fallen asleep, she answered, hardly audibly. Bazarov was not fated to awaken. Towards evening he sank into complete unconsciousness, and the following day he died. Father Alexey performed the last rites of religion over him. When they anointed him with the last unction, when the holy oil touched his breast, one eye opened, and it seemed as though at the sight of the priest in his vestments, the smoking censers, the light before the image, something like a shudder of horror passed over the death-stricken face. When at last he had breathed his last, and there arose a universal lamentation in the house, Vassily Ivanovitch was seized by a sudden frenzy. I said I should rebel, he shrieked hoarsely, with his face inflamed and distorted, shaking his fist in the air, as though threatening some one; and I rebel, I rebel! But Arina Vlasyevna, all in tears, hung upon his neck, and both fell on their faces together. Side by side, Anfisushka related afterwards in the servants room, they dropped their poor heads like lambs at noonday