Fiction > Harvard Classics > Ivan Turgenev > A House of Gentlefolk > Chapter XXIV
Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883).  A House of Gentlefolk.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.  1917.
Chapter XXIV
HE found them all at home, but he did not at once disclose his plan to them; he wanted to discuss it first with Lisa alone. Fortune favoured him; they were left alone in the drawing-room. They had some talk; she had had time by now to grow used to him—and she was not shy as a rule with any one. He listened to her, watched her, and mentally repeated Lemm’s words, and agreed with them. It sometimes happens that two people who are acquainted, but not on intimate terms with one another, all of sudden grow rapidly more intimate in a few minutes, and the consciousness of this greater intimacy is at once expressed in their eyes, in their soft and affectionate smiles, and in their very gestures. This was exactly what came to pass with Lavretsky and Lisa. ‘So he is like that,’ was her thought, as she turned a friendly glance on him; ‘so you are like that,’ he too was thinking. And so he was not very much surprised when she informed him, not without a little faltering, however, that she had long wished to say something to him, but she was afraid of offending him.   1
  ‘Don’t be afraid; tell me,’ he replied, and stood still before her.   2
  Lisa raised her clear eyes to him.   3
  ‘You are so good,’ she began, and at the same time, she thought: ‘Yes, I am sure he is good’… ‘you will forgive me, I ought not to dare to speak of it to you… but—how could you… why did you separate from you wife?’   4
  Lavretsky shuddered: he looked at Lisa, and sat down near her.   5
  ‘My child,’ he began, ‘I beg you, do not touch upon that wound; your hands are tender, but it will hurt me all the same.’   6
  ‘I know,’ Lisa went on, as though she did not hear him, ‘she has been to blame towards you. I don’t want to defend her; but what God has joined, how can you put asunder?’   7
  ‘Our convictions on that subject are too different, Lisaveta Mihalovna,’ Lavretsky observed, rather sharply; ‘we cannot understand one another.’   8
  Lisa grew paler: her whole frame was trembling slightly; but she was not silenced.   9
  ‘You must forgive,’ she murmured softly, ‘if you wish to be forgiven.’  10
  ‘Forgive!’ broke in Lavretsky. ‘Ought you not first to know whom you are interceding for? Forgive that woman, take her back into my home, that empty, heartless creature! And who told you she wants to return to me? She is perfectly contented with her position, I can assure you… But what a subject to discuss here! Her name ought never to be uttered by you. You are too pure, you are not capable of understanding such a creature.’  11
  ‘Why abuse her?’ Lisa articulated with an effort. The trembling of her hands was perceptible now. ‘You left her yourself, Fedor Ivanitch.’  12
  ‘But I tell you,’ retorted Lavretsky with an involuntary outburst of impatience, ‘you don’t know what that woman is!’  13
  ‘Then why did you marry her?’ whispered Lisa, and her eyes fell.  14
  Lavretsky got up quickly from his seat.  15
  ‘Why did I marry her? I was young and inexperienced; I was deceived, I was carried away by a beautiful exterior. I knew no women. I knew nothing. God grant you may make a happier marriage! but let me tell you, you can be sure of nothing.’  16
  ‘I too might be unhappy,’ said Lisa (her voice had begun to be unsteady), ‘but then I ought to submit, I don’t know how to say it; but if we do not submit’——  17
  Lavretsky clenched his hands and stamped with his foot.  18
  ‘Don’t be angry, forgive me,’ Lisa faltered hurriedly.  19
  At that instant Marya Dmitrievna came in. Lisa got up and was going away.  20
  ‘Stop a minute,’ Lavretsky cried after her unexpectedly. ‘I have a great favour to beg of your mother and you; to pay me a visit in my new abode. You know, I have had a piano sent over; Lemm is staying with me; the lilac is in flower now; you will get a breath of country air, and you can return the same day—will you consent?’ Lisa looked towards her mother; Marya Dmitrievna was assuming an expression of suffering; but Lavretsky did not give her time to open her mouth; he at once kissed both her hands. Marya Dmitrievna, who was always susceptible to demonstrations of feeling, and did not at all anticipate such effusiveness from the ‘dolt,’ was melted and gave her consent. While she was deliberating which day to fix, Lavretsky went up to Lisa, and, still greatly moved, whispered to her aside: ‘Thank you, you are a good girl; I was to blame.’ And her pale face glowed with a bright, shy smile; her eyes smiled too—up to that instant she had been afraid she had offended him.  21
  ‘Vladimir Nikolaitch can come with us?’ inquired Marya Dmitrievna.  22
  ‘Yes,’ replied Lavretsky, ‘but would it not be better to be just a family party?’  23
  ‘Well, you know, it seems,’ began Marya Dmitrievna.  24
  ‘But as you please,’ she added.  25
  It was decided to take Lenotchka and Shurotchka. Marfa Timofyevna refused to join in the expedition.  26
  ‘It is hard for me, my darling,’ she said, ‘to give my old bones a shaking; and to be sure there’s nowhere for me to sleep at your place: besides, I can’t sleep in a strange bed. Let the young folks go frolicking.’  27
  Lavretsky did not succeed in being alone again with Lisa; but he looked at her in such a way that she felt her heart at rest, and a little ashamed, and sorry for him. He pressed her hand warmly at parting; left alone, she fell to musing.  28



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