Fiction > Harvard Classics > Ivan Turgenev > A House of Gentlefolk > Chapter XXXII
Ivan Turgenev (1818–1883).  A House of Gentlefolk.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction.  1917.
Chapter XXXII
PAINFUL days followed for Fedor Ivanitch. He found himself in a continual fever. Every morning he made for the post, and tore open letters and papers in agitation, and nowhere did he find anything which could confirm or disprove the fateful rumour. Sometimes he was disgusting to himself. ‘What am I about,’ he thought, ‘waiting, like a vulture for blood, for certain news of my wife’s death?’ He went to the Kalitins every day, but things had grown no easier for him there; the lady of the house was obviously sulky with him, and received him very condescendingly. Panshin treated him with exaggerated politeness; Lemm had entrenched himself in his misanthropy and hardly bowed to him, and, worst of all, Lisa seemed to avoid him. When she happened to be left alone with him, instead of her former candour there was visible embarrassment on her part, she did not know what to say to him, and he, too, felt confused. In the space of a few days Lisa had become quite different from what she was as he knew her: in her movements, her voice, her very laugh a secret tremor, an unevenness never there before was apparent. Marya Dmitrievna, like a true egoist, suspected nothing; but Marfa Timofyevna began to keep a watch over her favourite. Lavretsky more than once reproached himself for having shown Lisa the newspaper he had received; he could not but be conscious that in his spiritual condition there was something revolting to a pure nature. He imagined also that the change in Lisa was the result of her inward conflicts, her doubts as to what answer to give Panshin.   1
  One day she brought him a book, a novel of Walter Scott’s, which she had herself asked him for.   2
  ‘Have you read it?’ he said.   3
  ‘No; I can’t bring myself to read just now,’ she answered, and was about to go away.   4
  ‘Stop a minute, it is so long since I have been alone with you. You seem to be afraid of me.’   5
  ‘Yes.’   6
  ‘Why so, pray?’   7
  ‘I don’t know.’   8
  Lavretsky was silent.   9
  ‘Tell me,’ he began, ‘you haven’t yet decided?’  10
  ‘What do you mean?’ she said, not raising her eyes.  11
  ‘You understand me.’  12
  Lisa flushed crimson all at once.  13
  ‘Don’t ask me about anything!’ she broke out hotly. ‘I know nothing; I don’t know myself.’ And instantly she was gone.  14
  The following day Lavretsky arrived at the Kalitins’ after dinner and found there all the preparations for an evening service. In the corner of the dining-room on a square table covered with a clean cloth were already arranged, leaning up against the wall, the small holy pictures, in gold frames, set with tarnished jewels. The old servant in a grey coat and shoes was moving noiselessly and without haste all about the room; he set two wax-candles in the slim candlesticks before the holy pictures, crossed himself, bowed, and slowly went out. The unlighted drawing-room was empty. Lavretsky went into the dining-room and asked if it was some one’s name-day.  15
  In a whisper they told him no, but that the evening service had been arranged at the desire of Lisaveta Mihalovna and Marfa Timofyevna; that it had been intended to invite a wonder-working image, but that the latter had gone thirty versts away to visit a sick man. Soon the priest arrived with the deacons; he was a man no longer young, with a large bald head; he coughed loudly in the hall: the ladies at once filed slowly out of the boudoir, and went up to receive his blessing; Lavretsky bowed to them in silence; and in silence they bowed to him. The priest stood still for a little while, coughed once again, and asked in a bass undertone—  16
  ‘You wish me to begin?’  17
  ‘Pray begin, father,’ replied Marya Dmitrievna.  18
  He began to put on his robes; a deacon in a surplice asked obsequiously for a hot ember; there was a scent of incense. The maids and men-servants came out from the hall and remained huddled close together before the door. Roska, who never came down from up-stairs, suddenly ran into the dining-room; they began to chase her out; she was scared, doubled back into the room and sat down; a footman picked her up and carried her away.  19
  The evening service began. Lavretsky squeezed himself into a corner; his emotions were strange, almost sad; he could not himself make out clearly what he was feeling. Marya Dmitrievna stood in front of all, before the chairs; she crossed herself with languid carelessness, like a grand lady, and first looked about her, then suddenly lifted her eyes to the ceiling; she was bored. Marfa Timofyevna looked worried; Nastasya Karpovna bowed down to the ground and got up with a kind of discreet, subdued rustle; Lisa remained standing in her place motionless; from the concentrated expression of her face it could be seen that she was praying steadfastly and fervently. When she bowed to the cross at the end of the service, she also kissed the large red hand of the priest. Marya Dmitrievna invited the latter to have some tea; he took off his vestment, assumed a somewhat more worldly air, and passed into the drawing-room with the ladies. Conversation—not too lively—began. The priest drank four cups of tea, incessantly wiping his bald head with his handkerchief; he related among other things that the merchant Avoshnikov was subscribing seven hundred roubles to gilding the ‘cumpola’ of the church, and informed them of a sure remedy against freckles. Lavretsky tried to sit near Lisa, but her manner was severe, almost stern, and she did not once glance at him. She appeared intentionally not to observe him; a kind of cold, grave enthusiasm seemed to have taken possession of her. Lavretsky for some reason or other tried to smile and to say something amusing; but there was perplexity in his heart, and he went away at last in secret bewilderment.… He felt there was something in Lisa to which he could never penetrate.  20
  Another time Lavretsky was sitting in the drawing-room listening to the sly but tedious gossip of Gedeonovsky, when suddenly, without himself knowing why, he turned round and caught a profound, attentive questioning look in Lisa’s eyes.… It was bent on him, this enigmatic look. Lavretsky thought of it the whole night long. His love was not like a boy’s; sighs and agonies were not in his line, and Lisa herself did not inspire a passion of that kind; but for every age love has its tortures—and he was spared none of them.  21



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