Fiction > Harvard Classics > Ivan Turgenev > A House of Gentlefolk > Chapter XXXI
Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883).  A House of Gentlefolk.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.  1917.
Chapter XXXI
LAVRETSKY was not a young man; he could not long delude himself as to the nature of the feeling inspired in him by Lisa; he was brought on that day to the final conviction that he loved her. This conviction did not give him any great pleasure. ‘Have I really nothing better to do,’ he thought, ‘at thirty-five than to put my soul into a woman’s keeping again? But Lisa is not like her; she would not demand degrading sacrifices from me: she would not tempt me away from my duties; she would herself incite me to hard honest work, and we would walk hand in hand towards a noble aim. Yes,’ he concluded his reflections, ‘that’s all very fine, but the worst of it is that she does not in the least wish to walk hand in hand with me. She meant it when she said that I frightened her. But she doesn’t love Panshin either—a poor consolation!’   1
  Lavretsky went back to Vassilyevskoe, but he could not get through four days there—so dull it seemed to him. He was also in agonies of suspense; the news announced by M. Jules required confirmation, and he had received no letters of any kind. He returned to the town and spent an evening at the Kalitins’. He could easily see that Marya Dmitrievna had been set against him; but he succeeded in softening her a little, by losing fifteen roubles to her at picquet, and he spent nearly half an hour almost alone with Lisa in spite of the fact that her mother had advised her the previous evening not to be too intimate with a man qui a un si grand ridicule. He found a change in her; she had become, as it were, more thoughtful. She reproached him for his absence and asked him would he not go on the morrow to mass? (The next day was Sunday.)   2
  ‘Do go,’ she said before he had time to answer, ‘we will pray together for the repose of her soul.’ Then she added that she did not know how to act—she did not know whether she had the right to make Panshin wait any longer for her decision.   3
  ‘Why so?’ inquired Lavretsky.   4
  ‘Because,’ she said, ‘I begin now to suspect what that decision will be.’   5
  She declared that her head ached and went to her own room up-stairs, hesitatingly holding out the tips of her fingers to Lavretsky.   6
  The next day Lavretsky went to mass. Lisa was already in the church when he came in. She noticed him though she did not turn round towards him. She prayed fervently, her eyes were full of a calm light, calmly she bowed her head and lifted it again. He felt that she was praying for him too, and his heart was filled with a marvellous tenderness. He was happy and a little ashamed. The people reverently standing, the homely faces, the harmonious singing, the scent of incense, the long slanting gleams of light from the windows, the very darkness of the walls and arched roofs, all went to his heart. For long he had not been to church, for long he had not turned to God: even now he uttered no words of prayer—he did not even pray without words—but, at least, for a moment in all his mind, if not in his body, he bowed down and meekly humbled himself to earth. He remembered how, in his childhood, he had always prayed in church until he had felt, as it were, a cool touch on his brow; that, he used to think then, is the guardian angel receiving me, laying on me the seal of grace. He glanced at Lisa. ‘You brought me here,’ he thought, ‘touch me, touch my soul.’ She was still praying calmly; her face seemed to him full of joy, and he was softened anew: he prayed for another soul, peace; for his own, forgiveness.   7
  They met in the porch; she greeted him with glad and gracious seriousness. The sun brightly lighted up the young grass in the church-yard, and the striped dresses and kerchiefs of the women; the bells of the churches near were tinkling overhead; and the crows were cawing about the hedges. Lavretsky stood with uncovered head, a smile on his lips; the light breeze lifted his hair, and the ribbons of Lisa’s hat. He put Lisa and Lenotchka who was with her into their carriage, divided all his money among the poor, and peacefully sauntered home.   8



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