网站首页 (Homepage)                       欢   迎   访   问  谢  国  芳 (Roy  Xie) 的  个  人  主  页                    返回 (Return)
                    
Welcome to Roy  Xie's Homepage                   





                       ——
  外语解密学习法 逆读法(Reverse Reading Method)   解读法(Decode-Reading Method)训练范文 ——                 

解密目标语言:英语                                解密辅助语言:汉语
               Language to be decoded: English          Auxiliary Language :  Chinese  

  
       
解密文本:     《初恋》   [俄] 屠格涅夫  著        
 
Первая любовь
автор Иван Тургенев

 

         First Love         
                                                                     by   Ivan Turgenev    
                                                                

         
  
   只看俄语(Russian Only)     只看英语(English Only)     只看汉语(Chinese Only)     英汉对照(English & Chinese)       俄汉对照(Russian & Chinese)        俄英对照(Russian & English)    

  

 

The party had long ago broken up. The clock struck half-past twelve. There was left in the room only the master of the house and Sergei Nikolaevitch and Vladimir Petrovitch. The master of the house rang and ordered the remains of the supper to be cleared away.

'And so it's settled,' he observed, sitting back farther in his easy-chair and lighting a cigar; 'each of us is to tell the story of his first love. It's your turn, Sergei Nikolaevitch.'

Sergei Nikolaevitch, a round little man with a plump, light-complexioned face, gazed first at the master of the house, then raised his eyes to the ceiling.

 'I had no first love,' he said at last; 'I began with the second.'

'How was that?'

'It's very simple. I was eighteen when I had my first flirtation with a charming young lady, but I courted her just as though it were nothing new to me; just as I courted others later on. To speak accurately, the first and last time I was in love was with my nurse when I was six years old; but that's in the remote past. The details of our relations have slipped out of my memory, and even if I remembered them, whom could they interest?'

'Then how's it to be?' began the master of the house. 'There was nothing much of interest about my first love either; I never fell in love with any one till I met Anna Nikolaevna, now my wife,--and everything went as smoothly as possible with us; our parents arranged the match, we were very soon in love with each other, and got married without loss of time. My story can be told in a couple of words. I must confess, gentlemen, in bringing up the subject of first love, I reckoned upon you, I won't say old, but no longer young, bachelors. Can't you enliven us with something, Vladimir Petrovitch?'

'My first love, certainly, was not quite an ordinary one,' responded, with some reluctance, Vladimir Petrovitch, a man of forty, with black hair turning grey.

'Ah!' said the master of the house and Sergei Nikolaevitch with one voice: 'So much the better.... Tell us about it.'

'If you wish it ... or no; I won't tell the story; I'm no hand at telling a story; I make it dry and brief, or spun out and affected. If you'll allow me, I'll write out all I remember and read it you.'

His friends at first would not agree, but Vladimir Petrovitch insisted on his own way. A fortnight later they were together again, and Vladimir Petrovitch kept his word.

His manuscript contained the following story:--

 

I

I was sixteen then. It happened in the summer of 1833.

I lived in Moscow with my parents. They had taken a country house for the summer near the Kalouga gate, facing the Neskutchny gardens. I was preparing for the university, but did not work much and was in no hurry.

No one interfered with my freedom. I did what I liked, especially after parting with my last tutor, a Frenchman who had never been able to get used to the idea that he had fallen ‘like a bomb’ (comme une bombe ) into Russia, and would lie sluggishly in bed with an expression of exasperation on his face for days together. My father treated me with careless kindness; my mother scarcely noticed me, though she had no children except me; other cares completely absorbed her. My father, a man still young and very handsome, had married her from mercenary considerations; she was ten years older than he. My mother led a melancholy life; she was for ever agitated, jealous and angry, but not in my father’s presence; she was very much afraid of him, and he was severe, cold, and distant in his behaviour.... I have never seen a man more elaborately serene, self-confident, and commanding.

I shall never forget the first weeks I spent at the country house. The weather was magnificent; we left town on the 9th of May, on St. Nicholas’s day. I used to walk about in our garden, in the Neskutchny gardens, and beyond the town gates; I would take some book with me — Keidanov’s Course, for instance — but I rarely looked into it, and more often than anything declaimed verses aloud; I knew a great deal of poetry by heart; my blood was in a ferment and my heart ached — so sweetly and absurdly; I was all hope and anticipation, was a little frightened of something, and full of wonder at everything, and was on the tiptoe of expectation; my imagination played continually, fluttering rapidly about the same fancies, like martins about a bell-tower at dawn; I dreamed, was sad, even wept; but through the tears and through the sadness, inspired by a musical verse, or the beauty of evening, shot up like grass in spring the delicious sense of youth and effervescent life.

I had a horse to ride; I used to saddle it myself and set off alone for long rides, break into a rapid gallop and fancy myself a knight at a tournament. How gaily the wind whistled in my ears! or turning my face towards the sky, I would absorb its shining radiance and blue into my soul, that opened wide to welcome it.

I remember that at that time the image of woman, the vision of love, scarcely ever arose in definite shape in my brain; but in all I thought, in all I felt, lay hidden a half-conscious, shamefaced presentiment of something new, unutterably sweet, feminine....

This presentiment, this expectation, permeated my whole being; I breathed in it, it coursed through my veins with every drop of blood ... it was destined to be soon fulfilled.

The place, where we settled for the summer, consisted of a wooden manor-house with columns and two small lodges; in the lodge on the left there was a tiny factory for the manufacture of cheap wall-papers.... I had more than once strolled that way to look at about a dozen thin and dishevelled boys with greasy smocks and worn faces, who were perpetually jumping on to wooden levers, that pressed down the square blocks of the press, and so by the weight of their feeble bodies struck off the variegated patterns of the wall-papers. The lodge on the right stood empty, and was to let. One day — three weeks after the 9th of May — the blinds in the windows of this lodge were drawn up, women’s faces appeared at them — some family had installed themselves in it. I remember the same day at dinner, my mother inquired of the butler who were our new neighbours, and hearing the name of the Princess Zasyekin, first observed with some respect, ‘Ah! a princess!’ ... and then added, ‘A poor one, I suppose?’

‘They arrived in three hired flies,’ the butler remarked deferentially, as he handed a dish: ‘they don’t keep their own carriage, and the furniture’s of the poorest.’

‘Ah,’ replied my mother, ‘so much the better.’

My father gave her a chilly glance; she was silent.

Certainly the Princess Zasyekin could not be a rich woman; the lodge she had taken was so dilapidated and small and low-pitched that people, even moderately well-off in the world, would hardly have consented to occupy it. At the time, however, all this went in at one ear and out at the other. The princely title had very little effect on me; I had just been reading Schiller’s Robbers .

 

II

I was in the habit of wandering about our garden every evening on the look-out for rooks. I had long cherished a hatred for those wary, sly, and rapacious birds. On the day of which I have been speaking, I went as usual into the garden, and after patrolling all the walks without success (the rooks knew me, and merely cawed spasmodically at a distance), I chanced to go close to the low fence which separated our domain from the narrow strip of garden stretching beyond the lodge to the right, and belonging to it. I was walking along, my eyes on the ground. Suddenly I heard a voice; I looked across the fence, and was thunder-struck.... I was confronted with a curious spectacle.

A few paces from me on the grass between the green raspberry bushes stood a tall slender girl in a striped pink dress, with a white kerchief on her head; four young men were close round her, and she was slapping them by turns on the forehead with those small grey flowers, the name of which I don’t know, though they are well known to children; the flowers form little bags, and burst open with a pop when you strike them against anything hard. The young men presented their foreheads so eagerly, and in the gestures of the girl (I saw her in profile), there was something so fascinating, imperious, caressing, mocking, and charming, that I almost cried out with admiration and delight, and would, I thought, have given everything in the world on the spot only to have had those exquisite fingers strike me on the forehead. My gun slipped on to the grass, I forgot everything, I devoured with my eyes the graceful shape and neck and lovely arms and the slightly disordered fair hair under the white kerchief, and the half-closed clever eye, and the eyelashes and the soft cheek beneath them....

‘Young man, hey, young man,’ said a voice suddenly near me: ‘is it quite permissible to stare so at unknown young ladies?’

I started, I was struck dumb.... Near me, the other side of the fence, stood a man with close-cropped black hair, looking ironically at me. At the same instant the girl too turned towards me.... I caught sight of big grey eyes in a bright mobile face, and the whole face suddenly quivered and laughed, there was a flash of white teeth, a droll lifting of the eyebrows.... I crimsoned, picked up my gun from the ground, and pursued by a musical but not ill-natured laugh, fled to my own room, flung myself on the bed, and hid my face in my hands. My heart was fairly leaping; I was greatly ashamed and overjoyed; I felt an excitement I had never known before.

After a rest, I brushed my hair, washed, and went downstairs to tea. The image of the young girl floated before me, my heart was no longer leaping, but was full of a sort of sweet oppression.

‘What’s the matter?’ my father asked me all at once: ‘have you killed a rook?’

I was on the point of telling him all about it, but I checked myself, and merely smiled to myself. As I was going to bed, I rotated — I don’t know why — three times on one leg, pomaded my hair, got into bed, and slept like a top all night. Before morning I woke up for an instant, raised my head, looked round me in ecstasy, and fell asleep again.

III

‘How can I make their acquaintance?’ was my first thought when I waked in the morning. I went out in the garden before morning tea, but I did not go too near the fence, and saw no one. After drinking tea, I walked several times up and down the street before the house, and looked into the windows from a distance.... I fancied her face at a curtain, and I hurried away in alarm.

‘I must make her acquaintance, though,’ I thought, pacing distractedly about the sandy plain that stretches before Neskutchny park ... ‘but how, that is the question.’ I recalled the minutest details of our meeting yesterday; I had for some reason or other a particularly vivid recollection of how she had laughed at me.... But while I racked my brains, and made various plans, fate had already provided for me.

In my absence my mother had received from her new neighbour a letter on grey paper, sealed with brown wax, such as is only used in notices from the post-office or on the corks of bottles of cheap wine. In this letter, which was written in illiterate language and in a slovenly hand, the princess begged my mother to use her powerful influence in her behalf; my mother, in the words of the princess, was very intimate with persons of high position, upon whom her fortunes and her children’s fortunes depended, as she had some very important business in hand. ‘I address myself to you,’ she wrote, ‘as one gentlewoman to another gentlewoman, and for that reason am glad to avail myself of the opportunity.’ Concluding, she begged my mother’s permission to call upon her. I found my mother in an unpleasant state of indecision; my father was not at home, and she had no one of whom to ask advice. Not to answer a gentlewoman, and a princess into the bargain, was impossible. But my mother was in a difficulty as to how to answer her. To write a note in French struck her as unsuitable, and Russian spelling was not a strong point with my mother herself, and she was aware of it, and did not care to expose herself. She was overjoyed when I made my appearance, and at once told me to go round to the princess’s, and to explain to her by word of mouth that my mother would always be glad to do her excellency any service within her powers, and begged her to come to see her at one o’clock. This unexpectedly rapid fulfilment of my secret desires both delighted and appalled me. I made no sign, however, of the perturbation which came over me, and as a preliminary step went to my own room to put on a new necktie and tail coat; at home I still wore short jackets and lay-down collars, much as I abominated them.

IV

In the narrow and untidy passage of the lodge, which I entered with an involuntary tremor in all my limbs, I was met by an old grey-headed servant with a dark copper-coloured face, surly little pig’s eyes, and such deep furrows on his forehead and temples as I had never beheld in my life. He was carrying a plate containing the spine of a herring that had been gnawed at; and shutting the door that led into the room with his foot, he jerked out, ‘What do you want?’

‘Is the Princess Zasyekin at home?’ I inquired.

‘Vonifaty!’ a jarring female voice screamed from within.

The man without a word turned his back on me, exhibiting as he did so the extremely threadbare hindpart of his livery with a solitary reddish heraldic button on it; he put the plate down on the floor, and went away.

‘Did you go to the police station?’ the same female voice called again. The man muttered something in reply. ‘Eh.... Has some one come?’ I heard again.... ‘The young gentleman from next door. Ask him in, then.’

‘Will you step into the drawing-room?’ said the servant, making his appearance once more, and picking up the plate from the floor. I mastered my emotions, and went into the drawing-room.

I found myself in a small and not over clean apartment, containing some poor furniture that looked as if it had been hurriedly set down where it stood. At the window in an easy-chair with a broken arm was sitting a woman of fifty, bareheaded and ugly, in an old green dress, and a striped worsted wrap about her neck. Her small black eyes fixed me like pins.

I went up to her and bowed.

‘I have the honour of addressing the Princess Zasyekin?’

‘I am the Princess Zasyekin; and you are the son of Mr. V.?’

‘Yes. I have come to you with a message from my mother.’

‘Sit down, please. Vonifaty, where are my keys, have you seen them?’

I communicated to Madame Zasyekin my mother’s reply to her note. She heard me out, drumming with her fat red fingers on the window-pane, and when I had finished, she stared at me once more.

‘Very good; I’ll be sure to come,’ she observed at last. ‘But how young you are! How old are you, may I ask?’

‘Sixteen,’ I replied, with an involuntary stammer.

The princess drew out of her pocket some greasy papers covered with writing, raised them right up to her nose, and began looking through them.

‘A good age,’ she ejaculated suddenly, turning round restlessly on her chair. ‘And do you, pray, make yourself at home. I don’t stand on ceremony.’

‘No, indeed,’ I thought, scanning her unprepossessing person with a disgust I could not restrain.

At that instant another door flew open quickly, and in the doorway stood the girl I had seen the previous evening in the garden. She lifted her hand, and a mocking smile gleamed in her face.

‘Here is my daughter,’ observed the princess, indicating her with her elbow. ‘Zinotchka, the son of our neighbour, Mr. V. What is your name, allow me to ask?’

‘Vladimir,’ I answered, getting up, and stuttering in my excitement.

‘And your father’s name?’

‘Petrovitch.’

‘Ah! I used to know a commissioner of police whose name was Vladimir Petrovitch too. Vonifaty! don’t look for my keys; the keys are in my pocket.’

The young girl was still looking at me with the same smile, faintly fluttering her eyelids, and putting her head a little on one side.

‘I have seen Monsieur Voldemar before,’ she began. (The silvery note of her voice ran through me with a sort of sweet shiver.) ‘You will let me call you so?’

‘Oh, please,’ I faltered.

‘Where was that?’ asked the princess.

The young princess did not answer her mother.

‘Have you anything to do just now?’ she said, not taking her eyes off me.

‘Oh, no.’

‘Would you like to help me wind some wool? Come in here, to me.’

She nodded to me and went out of the drawing-room. I followed her.

In the room we went into, the furniture was a little better, and was arranged with more taste. Though, indeed, at the moment, I was scarcely capable of noticing anything; I moved as in a dream and felt all through my being a sort of intense blissfulness that verged on imbecility.

The young princess sat down, took out a skein of red wool and, motioning me to a seat opposite her, carefully untied the skein and laid it across my hands. All this she did in silence with a sort of droll deliberation and with the same bright sly smile on her slightly parted lips. She began to wind the wool on a bent card, and all at once she dazzled me with a glance so brilliant and rapid, that I could not help dropping my eyes. When her eyes, which were generally half closed, opened to their full extent, her face was completely transfigured; it was as though it were flooded with light.

‘What did you think of me yesterday, M’sieu Voldemar?’ she asked after a brief pause. ‘You thought ill of me, I expect?’

‘I ... princess ... I thought nothing ... how can I?...’ I answered in confusion.

‘Listen,’ she rejoined. ‘You don’t know me yet. I’m a very strange person; I like always to be told the truth. You, I have just heard, are sixteen, and I am twenty-one: you see I’m a great deal older than you, and so you ought always to tell me the truth ... and to do what I tell you,’ she added. ‘Look at me: why don’t you look at me?’

I was still more abashed; however, I raised my eyes to her. She smiled, not her former smile, but a smile of approbation. ‘Look at me,’ she said, dropping her voice caressingly: ‘I don’t dislike that ... I like your face; I have a presentiment we shall be friends. But do you like me?’ she added slyly.

‘Princess ...’ I was beginning.

‘In the first place, you must call me Zina´da Alexandrovna, and in the second place it’s a bad habit for children’—(she corrected herself) ‘for young people — not to say straight out what they feel. That’s all very well for grown-up people. You like me, don’t you?’

Though I was greatly delighted that she talked so freely to me, still I was a little hurt. I wanted to show her that she had not a mere boy to deal with, and assuming as easy and serious an air as I could, I observed, ‘Certainly. I like you very much, Zina´da Alexandrovna; I have no wish to conceal it.’

She shook her head very deliberately. ‘Have you a tutor?’ she asked suddenly.

‘No; I’ve not had a tutor for a long, long while.’

I told a lie; it was not a month since I had parted with my Frenchman.

‘Oh! I see then — you are quite grown-up.’

She tapped me lightly on the fingers. ‘Hold your hands straight!’ And she applied herself busily to winding the ball.

I seized the opportunity when she was looking down and fell to watching her, at first stealthily, then more and more boldly. Her face struck me as even more charming than on the previous evening; everything in it was so delicate, clever, and sweet. She was sitting with her back to a window covered with a white blind, the sunshine, streaming in through the blind, shed a soft light over her fluffy golden curls, her innocent neck, her sloping shoulders, and tender untroubled bosom. I gazed at her, and how dear and near she was already to me! It seemed to me I had known her a long while and had never known anything nor lived at all till I met her.... She was wearing a dark and rather shabby dress and an apron; I would gladly, I felt, have kissed every fold of that dress and apron. The tips of her little shoes peeped out from under her skirt; I could have bowed down in adoration to those shoes.... ‘And here I am sitting before her,’ I thought; ‘I have made acquaintance with her ... what happiness, my God!’ I could hardly keep from jumping up from my chair in ecstasy, but I only swung my legs a little, like a small child who has been given sweetmeats.

I was as happy as a fish in water, and I could have stayed in that room for ever, have never left that place.

Her eyelids were slowly lifted, and once more her clear eyes shone kindly upon me, and again she smiled.

‘How you look at me!’ she said slowly, and she held up a threatening finger.

I blushed ... ‘She understands it all, she sees all,’ flashed through my mind. ‘And how could she fail to understand and see it all?’

All at once there was a sound in the next room — the clink of a sabre.

‘Zina!’ screamed the princess in the drawing-room, ‘Byelovzorov has brought you a kitten.’

‘A kitten!’ cried Zina´da, and getting up from her chair impetuously, she flung the ball of worsted on my knees and ran away.

I too got up and, laying the skein and the ball of wool on the window-sill, I went into the drawing-room and stood still, hesitating. In the middle of the room, a tabby kitten was lying with outstretched paws; Zina´da was on her knees before it, cautiously lifting up its little face. Near the old princess, and filling up almost the whole space between the two windows, was a flaxen curly-headed young man, a hussar, with a rosy face and prominent eyes.

‘What a funny little thing!’ Zina´da was saying; ‘and its eyes are not grey, but green, and what long ears! Thank you, Viktor Yegoritch! you are very kind.’

The hussar, in whom I recognised one of the young men I had seen the evening before, smiled and bowed with a clink of his spurs and a jingle of the chain of his sabre.

‘You were pleased to say yesterday that you wished to possess a tabby kitten with long ears ... so I obtained it. Your word is law.’ And he bowed again.

The kitten gave a feeble mew and began sniffing the ground.

‘It’s hungry!’ cried Zina´da. ‘Vonifaty, Sonia! bring some milk.’

A maid, in an old yellow gown with a faded kerchief at her neck, came in with a saucer of milk and set it before the kitten. The kitten started, blinked, and began lapping.

‘What a pink little tongue it has!’ remarked Zina´da, putting her head almost on the ground and peeping at it sideways under its very nose.

The kitten having had enough began to purr and move its paws affectedly. Zina´da got up, and turning to the maid said carelessly, ‘Take it away.’

‘For the kitten — your little hand,’ said the hussar, with a simper and a shrug of his strongly-built frame, which was tightly buttoned up in a new uniform.

‘Both,’ replied Zina´da, and she held out her hands to him. While he was kissing them, she looked at me over his shoulder.

I stood stockstill in the same place and did not know whether to laugh, to say something, or to be silent. Suddenly through the open door into the passage I caught sight of our footman, Fyodor. He was making signs to me. Mechanically I went out to him.

‘What do you want?’ I asked.

‘Your mamma has sent for you,’ he said in a whisper. ‘She is angry that you have not come back with the answer.’

‘Why, have I been here long?’

‘Over an hour.’

‘Over an hour!’ I repeated unconsciously, and going back to the drawing-room I began to make bows and scrape with my heels.

‘Where are you off to?’ the young princess asked, glancing at me from behind the hussar.

‘I must go home. So I am to say,’ I added, addressing the old lady, ‘that you will come to us about two.’

‘Do you say so, my good sir.’

The princess hurriedly pulled out her snuff-box and took snuff so loudly that I positively jumped. ‘Do you say so,’ she repeated, blinking tearfully and sneezing.

I bowed once more, turned, and went out of the room with that sensation of awkwardness in my spine which a very young man feels when he knows he is being looked at from behind.

‘Mind you come and see us again, M’sieu Voldemar,’ Zina´da called, and she laughed again.

‘Why is it she’s always laughing?’ I thought, as I went back home escorted by Fyodor, who said nothing to me, but walked behind me with an air of disapprobation. My mother scolded me and wondered what ever I could have been doing so long at the princess’s. I made her no reply and went off to my own room. I felt suddenly very sad.... I tried hard not to cry.... I was jealous of the hussar.

V

The princess called on my mother as she had promised and made a disagreeable impression on her. I was not present at their interview, but at table my mother told my father that this Prince Zasyekin struck her as a femme trŔs vulgaire , that she had quite worn her out begging her to interest Prince Sergei in their behalf, that she seemed to have no end of lawsuits and affairs on hand — de vilaines affaires d’argent — and must be a very troublesome and litigious person. My mother added, however, that she had asked her and her daughter to dinner the next day (hearing the word ‘daughter’ I buried my nose in my plate), for after all she was a neighbour and a person of title. Upon this my father informed my mother that he remembered now who this lady was; that he had in his youth known the deceased Prince Zasyekin, a very well-bred, but frivolous and absurd person; that he had been nicknamed in society ‘le Parisien ,’ from having lived a long while in Paris; that he had been very rich, but had gambled away all his property; and for some unknown reason, probably for money, though indeed he might have chosen better, if so, my father added with a cold smile, he had married the daughter of an agent, and after his marriage had entered upon speculations and ruined himself utterly.

‘If only she doesn’t try to borrow money,’ observed my mother.

‘That’s exceedingly possible,’ my father responded tranquilly. ‘Does she speak French?’

‘Very badly.’

‘H’m. It’s of no consequence anyway. I think you said you had asked the daughter too; some one was telling me she was a very charming and cultivated girl.’

‘Ah! Then she can’t take after her mother.’

‘Nor her father either,’ rejoined my father. ‘He was cultivated indeed, but a fool.’

My mother sighed and sank into thought. My father said no more. I felt very uncomfortable during this conversation.

After dinner I went into the garden, but without my gun. I swore to myself that I would not go near the Zasyekins’ garden, but an irresistible force drew me thither, and not in vain. I had hardly reached the fence when I caught sight of Zina´da. This time she was alone. She held a book in her hands, and was coming slowly along the path. She did not notice me.

I almost let her pass by; but all at once I changed my mind and coughed.

She turned round, but did not stop, pushed back with one hand the broad blue ribbon of her round straw hat, looked at me, smiled slowly, and again bent her eyes on the book.

I took off my cap, and after hesitating a moment, walked away with a heavy heart. ‘Que suis-je pour elle? ’ I thought (God knows why) in French.

Familiar footsteps sounded behind me; I looked round, my father came up to me with his light, rapid walk.

‘Is that the young princess?’ he asked me.

‘Yes.’

‘Why, do you know her?’

‘I saw her this morning at the princess’s.’

My father stopped, and, turning sharply on his heel, went back. When he was on a level with Zina´da, he made her a courteous bow. She, too, bowed to him, with some astonishment on her face, and dropped her book. I saw how she looked after him. My father was always irreproachably dressed, simple and in a style of his own; but his figure had never struck me as more graceful, never had his grey hat sat more becomingly on his curls, which were scarcely perceptibly thinner than they had once been.

I bent my steps toward Zina´da, but she did not even glance at me; she picked up her book again and went away.

VI

The whole evening and the following day I spent in a sort of dejected apathy. I remember I tried to work and took up Keidanov, but the boldly printed lines and pages of the famous text-book passed before my eyes in vain. I read ten times over the words: ‘Julius Caesar was distinguished by warlike courage.’ I did not understand anything and threw the book aside. Before dinner-time I pomaded myself once more, and once more put on my tail-coat and necktie.

‘What’s that for?’ my mother demanded. ‘You’re not a student yet, and God knows whether you’ll get through the examination. And you’ve not long had a new jacket! You can’t throw it away!’

‘There will be visitors,’ I murmured almost in despair.

‘What nonsense! fine visitors indeed!’

I had to submit. I changed my tail-coat for my jacket, but I did not take off the necktie. The princess and her daughter made their appearance half an hour before dinner-time; the old lady had put on, in addition to the green dress with which I was already acquainted, a yellow shawl, and an old-fashioned cap adorned with flame-coloured ribbons. She began talking at once about her money difficulties, sighing, complaining of her poverty, and imploring assistance, but she made herself at home; she took snuff as noisily, and fidgeted and lolled about in her chair as freely as ever. It never seemed to have struck her that she was a princess. Zina´da on the other hand was rigid, almost haughty in her demeanour, every inch a princess. There was a cold immobility and dignity in her face. I should not have recognised it; I should not have known her smiles, her glances, though I thought her exquisite in this new aspect too. She wore a light barÚge dress with pale blue flowers on it; her hair fell in long curls down her cheek in the English fashion; this style went well with the cold expression of her face. My father sat beside her during dinner, and entertained his neighbour with the finished and serene courtesy peculiar to him. He glanced at her from time to time, and she glanced at him, but so strangely, almost with hostility. Their conversation was carried on in French; I was surprised, I remember, at the purity of Zina´da’s accent. The princess, while we were at table, as before made no ceremony; she ate a great deal, and praised the dishes. My mother was obviously bored by her, and answered her with a sort of weary indifference; my father faintly frowned now and then. My mother did not like Zina´da either. ‘A conceited minx,’ she said next day. ‘And fancy, what she has to be conceited about, avec sa mine de grisette !’

‘It’s clear you have never seen any grisettes,’ my father observed to her.

‘Thank God, I haven’t!’

‘Thank God, to be sure ... only how can you form an opinion of them, then?’

To me Zina´da had paid no attention whatever. Soon after dinner the princess got up to go.

‘I shall rely on your kind offices, Maria Nikolaevna and Piotr Vassilitch,’ she said in a doleful sing-song to my mother and father. ‘I’ve no help for it! There were days, but they are over. Here I am, an excellency, and a poor honour it is with nothing to eat!’

My father made her a respectful bow and escorted her to the door of the hall. I was standing there in my short jacket, staring at the floor, like a man under sentence of death. Zina´da’s treatment of me had crushed me utterly. What was my astonishment, when, as she passed me, she whispered quickly with her former kind expression in her eyes: ‘Come to see us at eight, do you hear, be sure....’ I simply threw up my hands, but already she was gone, flinging a white scarf over her head.

VII

At eight o’clock precisely, in my tail-coat and with my hair brushed up into a tuft on my head, I entered the passage of the lodge, where the princess lived. The old servant looked crossly at me and got up unwillingly from his bench. There was a sound of merry voices in the drawing-room. I opened the door and fell back in amazement. In the middle of the room was the young princess, standing on a chair, holding a man’s hat in front of her; round the chair crowded some half a dozen men. They were trying to put their hands into the hat, while she held it above their heads, shaking it violently. On seeing me, she cried, ‘Stay, stay, another guest, he must have a ticket too,’ and leaping lightly down from the chair she took me by the cuff of my coat ‘Come along,’ she said, ‘why are you standing still? Messieurs , let me make you acquainted: this is M’sieu Voldemar, the son of our neighbour. And this,’ she went on, addressing me, and indicating her guests in turn, ‘Count Malevsky, Doctor Lushin, Meidanov the poet, the retired captain Nirmatsky, and Byelovzorov the hussar, whom you’ve seen already. I hope you will be good friends.’ I was so confused that I did not even bow to any one; in Doctor Lushin I recognised the dark man who had so mercilessly put me to shame in the garden; the others were unknown to me.

‘Count!’ continued Zina´da, ‘write M’sieu Voldemar a ticket.’

‘That’s not fair,’ was objected in a slight Polish accent by the count, a very handsome and fashionably dressed brunette, with expressive brown eyes, a thin little white nose, and delicate little moustaches over a tiny mouth. ‘This gentleman has not been playing forfeits with us.’

‘It’s unfair,’ repeated in chorus Byelovzorov and the gentleman described as a retired captain, a man of forty, pock-marked to a hideous degree, curly-headed as a negro, round-shouldered, bandy-legged, and dressed in a military coat without epaulets, worn unbuttoned.

‘Write him a ticket, I tell you,’ repeated the young princess. ‘What’s this mutiny? M’sieu Voldemar is with us for the first time, and there are no rules for him yet. It’s no use grumbling — write it, I wish it.’

The count shrugged his shoulders but bowed submissively, took the pen in his white, ring-bedecked fingers, tore off a scrap of paper and wrote on it.

‘At least let us explain to Mr. Voldemar what we are about,’ Lushin began in a sarcastic voice, ‘or else he will be quite lost. Do you see, young man, we are playing forfeits? the princess has to pay a forfeit, and the one who draws the lucky lot is to have the privilege of kissing her hand. Do you understand what I’ve told you?’

I simply stared at him, and continued to stand still in bewilderment, while the young princess jumped up on the chair again, and again began waving the hat. They all stretched up to her, and I went after the rest.

‘Meidanov,’ said the princess to a tall young man with a thin face, little dim-sighted eyes, and exceedingly long black hair, ‘you as a poet ought to be magnanimous, and give up your number to M’sieu Voldemar so that he may have two chances instead of one.’

But Meidanov shook his head in refusal, and tossed his hair. After all the others I put my hand into the hat, and unfolded my lot.... Heavens! what was my condition when I saw on it the word, Kiss!

‘Kiss!’ I could not help crying aloud.

‘Bravo! he has won it,’ the princess said quickly. ‘How glad I am!’ She came down from the chair and gave me such a bright sweet look, that my heart bounded. ‘Are you glad?’ she asked me.

‘Me?’ ... I faltered.

‘Sell me your lot,’ Byelovzorov growled suddenly just in my ear. ‘I’ll give you a hundred roubles.’

I answered the hussar with such an indignant look, that Zina´da clapped her hands, while Lushin cried, ‘He’s a fine fellow!’

‘But, as master of the ceremonies,’ he went on, ‘it’s my duty to see that all the rules are kept. M’sieu Voldemar, go down on one knee. That is our regulation.’

Zina´da stood in front of me, her head a little on one side as though to get a better look at me; she held out her hand to me with dignity. A mist passed before my eyes; I meant to drop on one knee, sank on both, and pressed my lips to Zina´da’s fingers so awkwardly that I scratched myself a little with the tip of her nail.

‘Well done!’ cried Lushin, and helped me to get up.

The game of forfeits went on. Zina´da sat me down beside her. She invented all sorts of extraordinary forfeits! She had among other things to represent a ‘statue,’ and she chose as a pedestal the hideous Nirmatsky, told him to bow down in an arch, and bend his head down on his breast. The laughter never paused for an instant. For me, a boy constantly brought up in the seclusion of a dignified manor-house, all this noise and uproar, this unceremonious, almost riotous gaiety, these relations with unknown persons, were simply intoxicating. My head went round, as though from wine. I began laughing and talking louder than the others, so much so that the old princess, who was sitting in the next room with some sort of clerk from the Tversky gate, invited by her for consultation on business, positively came in to look at me. But I felt so happy that I did not mind anything, I didn’t care a straw for any one’s jeers, or dubious looks. Zina´da continued to show me a preference, and kept me at her side. In one forfeit, I had to sit by her, both hidden under one silk handkerchief: I was to tell her my secret . I remember our two heads being all at once in a warm, half-transparent, fragrant darkness, the soft, close brightness of her eyes in the dark, and the burning breath from her parted lips, and the gleam of her teeth and the ends of her hair tickling me and setting me on fire. I was silent. She smiled slyly and mysteriously, and at last whispered to me, ‘Well, what is it?’ but I merely blushed and laughed, and turned away, catching my breath. We got tired of forfeits — we began to play a game with a string. My God! what were my transports when, for not paying attention, I got a sharp and vigorous slap on my fingers from her, and how I tried afterwards to pretend that I was absent-minded, and she teased me, and would not touch the hands I held out to her! What didn’t we do that evening! We played the piano, and sang and danced and acted a gypsy encampment. Nirmatsky was dressed up as a bear, and made to drink salt water. Count Malevsky showed us several sorts of card tricks, and finished, after shuffling the cards, by dealing himself all the trumps at whist, on which Lushin ‘had the honour of congratulating him.’ Meidanov recited portions from his poem ‘The Manslayer’ (romanticism was at its height at this period), which he intended to bring out in a black cover with the title in blood-red letters; they stole the clerk’s cap off his knee, and made him dance a Cossack dance by way of ransom for it; they dressed up old Vonifaty in a woman’s cap, and the young princess put on a man’s hat.... I could not enumerate all we did. Only Byelovzorov kept more and more in the background, scowling and angry.... Sometimes his eyes looked bloodshot, he flushed all over, and it seemed every minute as though he would rush out upon us all and scatter us like shavings in all directions; but the young princess would glance at him, and shake her finger at him, and he would retire into his corner again.

We were quite worn out at last. Even the old princess, though she was ready for anything, as she expressed it, and no noise wearied her, felt tired at last, and longed for peace and quiet. At twelve o’clock at night, supper was served, consisting of a piece of stale dry cheese, and some cold turnovers of minced ham, which seemed to me more delicious than any pastry I had ever tasted; there was only one bottle of wine, and that was a strange one; a dark-coloured bottle with a wide neck, and the wine in it was of a pink hue; no one drank it, however. Tired out and faint with happiness, I left the lodge; at parting Zina´da pressed my hand warmly, and again smiled mysteriously.

The night air was heavy and damp in my heated face; a storm seemed to be gathering; black stormclouds grew and crept across the sky, their smoky outlines visibly changing. A gust of wind shivered restlessly in the dark trees, and somewhere, far away on the horizon, muffled thunder angrily muttered as it were to itself.

I made my way up to my room by the back stairs. My old man-nurse was asleep on the floor, and I had to step over him; he waked up, saw me, and told me that my mother had again been very angry with me, and had wished to send after me again, but that my father had prevented her. (I had never gone to bed without saying good-night to my mother, and asking her blessing. There was no help for it now!)

I told my man that I would undress and go to bed by myself, and I put out the candle. But I did not undress, and did not go to bed.

I sat down on a chair, and sat a long while, as though spell-bound. What I was feeling was so new and so sweet.... I sat still, hardly looking round and not moving, drew slow breaths, and only from time to time laughed silently at some recollection, or turned cold within at the thought that I was in love, that this was she, that this was love. Zina´da’s face floated slowly before me in the darkness — floated, and did not float away; her lips still wore the same enigmatic smile, her eyes watched me, a little from one side, with a questioning, dreamy, tender look ... as at the instant of parting from her. At last I got up, walked on tiptoe to my bed, and without undressing, laid my head carefully on the pillow, as though I were afraid by an abrupt movement to disturb what filled my soul.... I lay down, but did not even close my eyes. Soon I noticed that faint glimmers of light of some sort were thrown continually into the room.... I sat up and looked at the window. The window-frame could be clearly distinguished from the mysteriously and dimly-lighted panes. It is a storm, I thought; and a storm it really was, but it was raging so very far away that the thunder could not be heard; only blurred, long, as it were branching, gleams of lightning flashed continually over the sky; it was not flashing, though, so much as quivering and twitching like the wing of a dying bird. I got up, went to the window, and stood there till morning.... The lightning never ceased for an instant; it was what is called among the peasants a sparrow night . I gazed at the dumb sandy plain, at the dark mass of the Neskutchny gardens, at the yellowish fašades of the distant buildings, which seemed to quiver too at each faint flash.... I gazed, and could not turn away; these silent lightning flashes, these gleams seemed in response to the secret silent fires which were aglow within me. Morning began to dawn; the sky was flushed in patches of crimson. As the sun came nearer, the lightning grew gradually paler, and ceased; the quivering gleams were fewer and fewer, and vanished at last, drowned in the sobering positive light of the coming day....

And my lightning flashes vanished too. I felt great weariness and peace ... but Zina´da’s image still floated triumphant over my soul. But it too, this image, seemed more tranquil: like a swan rising out of the reeds of a bog, it stood out from the other unbeautiful figures surrounding it, and as I fell asleep, I flung myself before it in farewell, trusting adoration....

Oh, sweet emotions, gentle harmony, goodness and peace of the softened heart, melting bliss of the first raptures of love, where are they, where are they?

VIII

The next morning, when I came down to tea, my mother scolded me — less severely, however, than I had expected — and made me tell her how I had spent the previous evening. I answered her in few words, omitting many details, and trying to give the most innocent air to everything.

‘Anyway, they’re people who’re not comme il faut ,’ my mother commented, ‘and you’ve no business to be hanging about there, instead of preparing yourself for the examination, and doing your work.’

As I was well aware that my mother’s anxiety about my studies was confined to these few words, I did not feel it necessary to make any rejoinder; but after morning tea was over, my father took me by the arm, and turning into the garden with me, forced me to tell him all I had seen at the Zasyekins’.

A curious influence my father had over me, and curious were the relations existing between us. He took hardly any interest in my education, but he never hurt my feelings; he respected my freedom, he treated me — if I may so express it — with courtesy,... only he never let me be really close to him. I loved him, I admired him, he was my ideal of a man — and Heavens! how passionately devoted I should have been to him, if I had not been continually conscious of his holding me off! But when he liked, he could almost instantaneously, by a single word, a single gesture, call forth an unbounded confidence in him. My soul expanded, I chattered away to him, as to a wise friend, a kindly teacher ... then he as suddenly got rid of me, and again he was keeping me off, gently and affectionately, but still he kept me off.

Sometimes he was in high spirits, and then he was ready to romp and frolic with me, like a boy (he was fond of vigorous physical exercise of every sort); once — it never happened a second time!— he caressed me with such tenderness that I almost shed tears.... But high spirits and tenderness alike vanished completely, and what had passed between us, gave me nothing to build on for the future — it was as though I had dreamed it all. Sometimes I would scrutinise his clever handsome bright face ... my heart would throb, and my whole being yearn to him ... he would seem to feel what was going on within me, would give me a passing pat on the cheek, and go away, or take up some work, or suddenly freeze all over as only he knew how to freeze, and I shrank into myself at once, and turned cold too. His rare fits of friendliness to me were never called forth by my silent, but intelligible entreaties: they always occurred unexpectedly. Thinking over my father’s character later, I have come to the conclusion that he had no thoughts to spare for me and for family life; his heart was in other things, and found complete satisfaction elsewhere. ‘Take for yourself what you can, and don’t be ruled by others; to belong to oneself — the whole savour of life lies in that,’ he said to me one day. Another time, I, as a young democrat, fell to airing my views on liberty (he was ‘kind,’ as I used to call it, that day; and at such times I could talk to him as I liked). ‘Liberty,’ he repeated; ‘and do you know what can give a man liberty?’

‘What?’

‘Will, his own will, and it gives power, which is better than liberty. Know how to will, and you will be free, and will lead.’

‘My father, before all, and above all, desired to live, and lived.... Perhaps he had a presentiment that he would not have long to enjoy the ‘savour’ of life: he died at forty-two.

I described my evening at the Zasyekins’ minutely to my father. Half attentively, half carelessly, he listened to me, sitting on a garden seat, drawing in the sand with his cane. Now and then he laughed, shot bright, droll glances at me, and spurred me on with short questions and assents. At first I could not bring myself even to utter the name of Zina´da, but I could not restrain myself long, and began singing her praises. My father still laughed; then he grew thoughtful, stretched, and got up. I remembered that as he came out of the house he had ordered his horse to be saddled. He was a splendid horseman, and, long before Rarey, had the secret of breaking in the most vicious horses.

‘Shall I come with you, father?’ I asked.

‘No,’ he answered, and his face resumed its ordinary expression of friendly indifference. ‘Go alone, if you like; and tell the coachman I’m not going.’

He turned his back on me and walked rapidly away. I looked after him; he disappeared through the gates. I saw his hat moving along beside the fence; he went into the Zasyekins’.

He stayed there not more than an hour, but then departed at once for the town, and did not return home till evening.

After dinner I went myself to the Zasyekins’. In the drawing-room I found only the old princess. On seeing me she scratched her head under her cap with a knitting-needle, and suddenly asked me, could I copy a petition for her.

‘With pleasure,’ I replied, sitting down on the edge of a chair.

‘Only mind and make the letters bigger,’ observed the princess, handing me a dirty sheet of paper; ‘and couldn’t you do it today, my good sir?’

‘Certainly, I will copy it today.’

The door of the next room was just opened, and in the crack I saw the face of Zina´da, pale and pensive, her hair flung carelessly back; she stared at me with big chilly eyes, and softly closed the door.

‘Zina, Zina!’ called the old lady. Zina´da made no response. I took home the old lady’s petition and spent the whole evening over it.

IX

My ‘passion’ dated from that day. I felt at that time, I recollect, something like what a man must feel on entering the service: I had ceased now to be simply a young boy; I was in love. I have said that my passion dated from that day; I might have added that my sufferings too dated from the same day. Away from Zina´da I pined; nothing was to my mind; everything went wrong with me; I spent whole days thinking intensely about her ... I pined when away,... but in her presence I was no better off. I was jealous; I was conscious of my insignificance; I was stupidly sulky or stupidly abject, and, all the same, an invincible force drew me to her, and I could not help a shudder of delight whenever I stepped through the doorway of her room. Zina´da guessed at once that I was in love with her, and indeed I never even thought of concealing it. She amused herself with my passion, made a fool of me, petted and tormented me. There is a sweetness in being the sole source, the autocratic and irresponsible cause of the greatest joy and profoundest pain to another, and I was like wax in Zina´da’s hands; though, indeed, I was not the only one in love with her. All the men who visited the house were crazy over her, and she kept them all in leading-strings at her feet. It amused her to arouse their hopes and then their fears, to turn them round her finger (she used to call it knocking their heads together), while they never dreamed of offering resistance and eagerly submitted to her. About her whole being, so full of life and beauty, there was a peculiarly bewitching mixture of slyness and carelessness, of artificiality and simplicity, of composure and frolicsomeness; about everything she did or said, about every action of hers, there clung a delicate, fine charm, in which an individual power was manifest at work. And her face was ever changing, working too; it expressed, almost at the same time, irony, dreaminess, and passion. Various emotions, delicate and quick-changing as the shadows of clouds on a sunny day of wind, chased one another continually over her lips and eyes.

Each of her adorers was necessary to her. Byelovzorov, whom she sometimes called ‘my wild beast,’ and sometimes simply ‘mine,’ would gladly have flung himself into the fire for her sake. With little confidence in his intellectual abilities and other qualities, he was for ever offering her marriage, hinting that the others were merely hanging about with no serious intention. Meidanov responded to the poetic fibres of her nature; a man of rather cold temperament, like almost all writers, he forced himself to convince her, and perhaps himself, that he adored her, sang her praises in endless verses, and read them to her with a peculiar enthusiasm, at once affected and sincere. She sympathised with him, and at the same time jeered at him a little; she had no great faith in him, and after listening to his outpourings, she would make him read Pushkin, as she said, to clear the air. Lushin, the ironical doctor, so cynical in words, knew her better than any of them, and loved her more than all, though he abused her to her face and behind her back. She could not help respecting him, but made him smart for it, and at times, with a peculiar, malignant pleasure, made him feel that he too was at her mercy. ‘I’m a flirt, I’m heartless, I’m an actress in my instincts,’ she said to him one day in my presence; ‘well and good! Give me your hand then; I’ll stick this pin in it, you’ll be ashamed of this young man’s seeing it, it will hurt you, but you’ll laugh for all that, you truthful person.’ Lushin crimsoned, turned away, bit his lips, but ended by submitting his hand. She pricked it, and he did in fact begin to laugh,... and she laughed, thrusting the pin in pretty deeply, and peeping into his eyes, which he vainly strove to keep in other directions....

I understood least of all the relations existing between Zina´da and Count Malevsky. He was handsome, clever, and adroit, but something equivocal, something false in him was apparent even to me, a boy of sixteen, and I marvelled that Zina´da did not notice it. But possibly she did notice this element of falsity really and was not repelled by it. Her irregular education, strange acquaintances and habits, the constant presence of her mother, the poverty and disorder in their house, everything, from the very liberty the young girl enjoyed, with the consciousness of her superiority to the people around her, had developed in her a sort of half-contemptuous carelessness and lack of fastidiousness. At any time anything might happen; Vonifaty might announce that there was no sugar, or some revolting scandal would come to her ears, or her guests would fall to quarrelling among themselves — she would only shake her curls, and say, ‘What does it matter?’ and care little enough about it.

But my blood, anyway, was sometimes on fire with indignation when Malevsky approached her, with a sly, fox-like action, leaned gracefully on the back of her chair, and began whispering in her ear with a self-satisfied and ingratiating little smile, while she folded her arms across her bosom, looked intently at him and smiled too, and shook her head.

‘What induces you to receive Count Malevsky?’ I asked her one day.

‘He has such pretty moustaches,’ she answered. ‘But that’s rather beyond you.’

‘You needn’t think I care for him,’ she said to me another time. ‘No; I can’t care for people I have to look down upon. I must have some one who can master me.... But, merciful heavens, I hope I may never come across any one like that! I don’t want to be caught in any one’s claws, not for anything.’

‘You’ll never be in love, then?’

‘And you? Don’t I love you?’ she said, and she flicked me on the nose with the tip of her glove.

Yes, Zina´da amused herself hugely at my expense. For three weeks I saw her every day, and what didn’t she do with me! She rarely came to see us, and I was not sorry for it; in our house she was transformed into a young lady, a young princess, and I was a little overawed by her. I was afraid of betraying myself before my mother; she had taken a great dislike to Zina´da, and kept a hostile eye upon us. My father I was not so much afraid of; he seemed not to notice me. He talked little to her, but always with special cleverness and significance. I gave up working and reading; I even gave up walking about the neighbourhood and riding my horse. Like a beetle tied by the leg, I moved continually round and round my beloved little lodge. I would gladly have stopped there altogether, it seemed ... but that was impossible. My mother scolded me, and sometimes Zina´da herself drove me away. Then I used to shut myself up in my room, or go down to the very end of the garden, and climbing into what was left of a tall stone greenhouse, now in ruins, sit for hours with my legs hanging over the wall that looked on to the road, gazing and gazing and seeing nothing. White butterflies flitted lazily by me, over the dusty nettles; a saucy sparrow settled not far off on the half crumbling red brickwork and twittered irritably, incessantly twisting and turning and preening his tail-feathers; the still mistrustful rooks cawed now and then, sitting high, high up on the bare top of a birch-tree; the sun and wind played softly on its pliant branches; the tinkle of the bells of the Don monastery floated across to me from time to time, peaceful and dreary; while I sat, gazed, listened, and was filled full of a nameless sensation in which all was contained: sadness and joy and the foretaste of the future, and the desire and dread of life. But at that time I understood nothing of it, and could have given a name to nothing of all that was passing at random within me, or should have called it all by one name — the name of Zina´da.

Zina´da continued to play cat and mouse with me. She flirted with me, and I was all agitation and rapture; then she would suddenly thrust me away, and I dared not go near her — dared not look at her.

I remember she was very cold to me for several days together; I was completely crushed, and creeping timidly to their lodge, tried to keep close to the old princess, regardless of the circumstance that she was particularly scolding and grumbling just at that time; her financial affairs had been going badly, and she had already had two ‘explanations’ with the police officials.

One day I was walking in the garden beside the familiar fence, and I caught sight of Zina´da; leaning on both arms, she was sitting on the grass, not stirring a muscle. I was about to make off cautiously, but she suddenly raised her head and beckoned me imperiously. My heart failed me; I did not understand her at first. She repeated her signal. I promptly jumped over the fence and ran joyfully up to her, but she brought me to a halt with a look, and motioned me to the path two paces from her. In confusion, not knowing what to do, I fell on my knees at the edge of the path. She was so pale, such bitter suffering, such intense weariness, was expressed in every feature of her face, that it sent a pang to my heart, and I muttered unconsciously, ‘What is the matter?’

Zina´da stretched out her head, picked a blade of grass, bit it and flung it away from her.

‘You love me very much?’ she asked at last. ‘Yes.’

I made no answer — indeed, what need was there to answer?

‘Yes,’ she repeated, looking at me as before. ‘That’s so. The same eyes,’— she went on; sank into thought, and hid her face in her hands. ‘Everything’s grown so loathsome to me,’ she whispered, ‘I would have gone to the other end of the world first — I can’t bear it, I can’t get over it.... And what is there before me!... Ah, I am wretched.... My God, how wretched I am!’

‘What for?’ I asked timidly.

Zina´da made no answer, she simply shrugged her shoulders. I remained kneeling, gazing at her with intense sadness. Every word she had uttered simply cut me to the heart. At that instant I felt I would gladly have given my life, if only she should not grieve. I gazed at her — and though I could not understand why she was wretched, I vividly pictured to myself, how in a fit of insupportable anguish, she had suddenly come out into the garden, and sunk to the earth, as though mown down by a scythe. It was all bright and green about her; the wind was whispering in the leaves of the trees, and swinging now and then a long branch of a raspberry bush over Zina´da’s head. There was a sound of the cooing of doves, and the bees hummed, flying low over the scanty grass, Overhead the sun was radiantly blue — while I was so sorrowful....

‘Read me some poetry,’ said Zina´da in an undertone, and she propped herself on her elbow; ‘I like your reading poetry. You read it in sing-song, but that’s no matter, that comes of being young. Read me “On the Hills of Georgia.” Only sit down first.’

I sat down and read ‘On the Hills of Georgia.’

‘“That the heart cannot choose but love,”’ repeated Zina´da. ‘That’s where poetry’s so fine; it tells us what is not, and what’s not only better than what is, but much more like the truth, “cannot choose but love,”— it might want not to, but it can’t help it.’ She was silent again, then all at once she started and got up. ‘Come along. Meidanov’s indoors with mamma, he brought me his poem, but I deserted him. His feelings are hurt too now ... I can’t help it! you’ll understand it all some day ... only don’t be angry with me!’

Zina´da hurriedly pressed my hand and ran on ahead. We went back into the lodge. Meidanov set to reading us his ‘Manslayer,’ which had just appeared in print, but I did not hear him. He screamed and drawled his four-foot iambic lines, the alternating rhythms jingled like little bells, noisy and meaningless, while I still watched Zina´da and tried to take in the import of her last words.

‘Perchance some unknown rival
Has surprised and mastered thee?’

Meidanov bawled suddenly through his nose — and my eyes and Zina´da’s met. She looked down and faintly blushed. I saw her blush, and grew cold with terror. I had been jealous before, but only at that instant the idea of her being in love flashed upon my mind. ‘Good God! she is in love!’

X

My real torments began from that instant. I racked my brains, changed my mind, and changed it back again, and kept an unremitting, though, as far as possible, secret watch on Zina´da. A change had come over her, that was obvious. She began going walks alone — and long walks. Sometimes she would not see visitors; she would sit for hours together in her room. This had never been a habit of hers till now. I suddenly became — or fancied I had become — extraordinarily penetrating.

‘Isn’t it he? or isn’t it he?’ I asked myself, passing in inward agitation from one of her admirers to another. Count Malevsky secretly struck me as more to be feared than the others, though, for Zina´da’s sake, I was ashamed to confess it to myself.

My watchfulness did not see beyond the end of my nose, and its secrecy probably deceived no one; any way, Doctor Lushin soon saw through me. But he, too, had changed of late; he had grown thin, he laughed as often, but his laugh seemed more hollow, more spiteful, shorter, an involuntary nervous irritability took the place of his former light irony and assumed cynicism.

‘Why are you incessantly hanging about here, young man?’ he said to me one day, when we were left alone together in the Zasyekins’ drawing-room. (The young princess had not come home from a walk, and the shrill voice of the old princess could be heard within; she was scolding the maid.) ‘You ought to be studying, working — while you’re young — and what are you doing?’

‘You can’t tell whether I work at home,’ I retorted with some haughtiness, but also with some hesitation.

‘A great deal of work you do! that’s not what you’re thinking about! Well, I won’t find fault with that ... at your age that’s in the natural order of things. But you’ve been awfully unlucky in your choice. Don’t you see what this house is?’

‘I don’t understand you,’ I observed.

‘You don’t understand? so much the worse for you. I regard it as a duty to warn you. Old bachelors, like me, can come here, what harm can it do us! we’re tough, nothing can hurt us, what harm can it do us; but your skin’s tender yet — this air is bad for you — believe me, you may get harm from it.’

‘How so?’

‘Why, are you well now? Are you in a normal condition? Is what you’re feeling — beneficial to you — good for you?’

‘Why, what am I feeling?’ I said, while in my heart I knew the doctor was right.

‘Ah, young man, young man,’ the doctor went on with an intonation that suggested that something highly insulting to me was contained in these two words, ‘what’s the use of your prevaricating, when, thank God, what’s in your heart is in your face, so far? But there, what’s the use of talking? I shouldn’t come here myself, if ... (the doctor compressed his lips) ... if I weren’t such a queer fellow. Only this is what surprises me; how it is, you, with your intelligence, don’t see what is going on around you?’

‘And what is going on?’ I put in, all on the alert.

The doctor looked at me with a sort of ironical compassion.

‘Nice of me!’ he said as though to himself, ‘as if he need know anything of it. In fact, I tell you again,’ he added, raising his voice, ‘the atmosphere here is not fit for you. You like being here, but what of that! it’s nice and sweet-smelling in a greenhouse — but there’s no living in it. Yes! do as I tell you, and go back to your Keidanov.’

The old princess came in, and began complaining to the doctor of her toothache. Then Zina´da appeared.

‘Come,’ said the old princess, ‘you must scold her, doctor. She’s drinking iced water all day long; is that good for her, pray, with her delicate chest?’

‘Why do you do that?’ asked Lushin.

‘Why, what effect could it have?’

‘What effect? You might get a chill and die.’

‘Truly? Do you mean it? Very well — so much the better.’

‘A fine idea!’ muttered the doctor. The old princess had gone out.

‘Yes, a fine idea,’ repeated Zina´da. ‘Is life such a festive affair? Just look about you.... Is it nice, eh? Or do you imagine I don’t understand it, and don’t feel it? It gives me pleasure — drinking iced water; and can you seriously assure me that such a life is worth too much to be risked for an instant’s pleasure — happiness I won’t even talk about.’

‘Oh, very well,’ remarked Lushin, ‘caprice and irresponsibility.... Those two words sum you up; your whole nature’s contained in those two words.’

Zina´da laughed nervously.

‘You’re late for the post, my dear doctor. You don’t keep a good look-out; you’re behind the times. Put on your spectacles. I’m in no capricious humour now. To make fools of you, to make a fool of myself ... much fun there is in that!— and as for irresponsibility ... M’sieu Voldemar,’ Zina´da added suddenly, stamping, ‘don’t make such a melancholy face. I can’t endure people to pity me.’ She went quickly out of the room.

‘It’s bad for you, very bad for you, this atmosphere, young man,’ Lushin said to me once more.

XI

On the evening of the same day the usual guests were assembled at the Zasyekins’. I was among them.

The conversation turned on Meidanov’s poem. Zina´da expressed genuine admiration of it. ‘But do you know what?’ she said to him. ‘If I were a poet, I would choose quite different subjects. Perhaps it’s all nonsense, but strange ideas sometimes come into my head, especially when I’m not asleep in the early morning, when the sky begins to turn rosy and grey both at once. I would, for instance ... You won’t laugh at me?’

‘No, no!’ we all cried, with one voice.

‘I would describe,’ she went on, folding her arms across her bosom and looking away, ‘a whole company of young girls at night in a great boat, on a silent river. The moon is shining, and they are all in white, and wearing garlands of white flowers, and singing, you know, something in the nature of a hymn.’

‘I see — I see; go on,’ Meidanov commented with dreamy significance.

‘All of a sudden, loud clamour, laughter, torches, tambourines on the bank.... It’s a troop of Bacchantes dancing with songs and cries. It’s your business to make a picture of it, Mr. Poet;... only I should like the torches to be red and to smoke a great deal, and the Bacchantes’ eyes to gleam under their wreaths, and the wreaths to be dusky. Don’t forget the tiger-skins, too, and goblets and gold — lots of gold....’

‘Where ought the gold to be?’ asked Meidanov, tossing back his sleek hair and distending his nostrils.

‘Where? on their shoulders and arms and legs — everywhere. They say in ancient times women wore gold rings on their ankles. The Bacchantes call the girls in the boat to them. The girls have ceased singing their hymn — they cannot go on with it, but they do not stir, the river carries them to the bank. And suddenly one of them slowly rises.... This you must describe nicely: how she slowly gets up in the moonlight, and how her companions are afraid.... She steps over the edge of the boat, the Bacchantes surround her, whirl her away into night and darkness.... Here put in smoke in clouds and everything in confusion. There is nothing but the sound of their shrill cry, and her wreath left lying on the bank.’

Zina´da ceased. (‘Oh! she is in love!’ I thought again.)

‘And is that all?’ asked Meidanov.

‘That’s all.’

‘That can’t be the subject of a whole poem,’ he observed pompously, ‘but I will make use of your idea for a lyrical fragment.’

‘In the romantic style?’ queried Malevsky.

‘Of course, in the romantic style — Byronic.’

‘Well, to my mind, Hugo beats Byron,’ the young count observed negligently; ‘he’s more interesting.’

‘Hugo is a writer of the first class,’ replied Meidanov; ‘and my friend, Tonkosheev, in his Spanish romance, El Trovador ...’

‘Ah! is that the book with the question-marks turned upside down?’ Zina´da interrupted.

‘Yes. That’s the custom with the Spanish. I was about to observe that Tonkosheev ...’

‘Come! you’re going to argue about classicism and romanticism again,’ Zina´da interrupted him a second time.’ We’d much better play ...

‘Forfeits?’ put in Lushin.

‘No, forfeits are a bore; at comparisons.’ (This game Zina´da had invented herself. Some object was mentioned, every one tried to compare it with something, and the one who chose the best comparison got a prize.)

She went up to the window. The sun was just setting; high up in the sky were large red clouds.

‘What are those clouds like?’ questioned Zina´da; and without waiting for our answer, she said, ‘I think they are like the purple sails on the golden ship of Cleopatra, when she sailed to meet Antony. Do you remember, Meidanov, you were telling me about it not long ago?’

All of us, like Polonius in Hamlet , opined that the clouds recalled nothing so much as those sails, and that not one of us could discover a better comparison.

‘And how old was Antony then?’ inquired Zina´da.

‘A young man, no doubt,’ observed Malevsky.

‘Yes, a young man,’ Meidanov chimed in in confirmation.

‘Excuse me,’ cried Lushin, ‘he was over forty.’

‘Over forty,’ repeated Zina´da, giving him a rapid glance....

I soon went home. ‘She is in love,’ my lips unconsciously repeated.... ‘But with whom?’

XII

The days passed by. Zina´da became stranger and stranger, and more and more incomprehensible. One day I went over to her, and saw her sitting in a basket-chair, her head pressed to the sharp edge of the table. She drew herself up ... her whole face was wet with tears.

‘Ah, you!’ she said with a cruel smile. ‘Come here.’

I went up to her. She put her hand on my head, and suddenly catching hold of my hair, began pulling it.

‘It hurts me,’ I said at last.

‘Ah! does it? And do you suppose nothing hurts me?’ she replied.

‘Ai!’ she cried suddenly, seeing she had pulled a little tuft of hair out. ‘What have I done? Poor M’sieu Voldemar!’

She carefully smoothed the hair she had torn out, stroked it round her finger, and twisted it into a ring.

‘I shall put your hair in a locket and wear it round my neck,’ she said, while the tears still glittered in her eyes. ‘That will be some small consolation to you, perhaps ... and now good-bye.’

I went home, and found an unpleasant state of things there. My mother was having a scene with my father; she was reproaching him with something, while he, as his habit was, maintained a polite and chilly silence, and soon left her. I could not hear what my mother was talking of, and indeed I had no thought to spare for the subject; I only remember that when the interview was over, she sent for me to her room, and referred with great displeasure to the frequent visits I paid the princess, who was, in her words, une femme capable de tout . I kissed her hand (this was what I always did when I wanted to cut short a conversation) and went off to my room. Zina´da’s tears had completely overwhelmed me; I positively did not know what to think, and was ready to cry myself; I was a child after all, in spite of my sixteen years. I had now given up thinking about Malevsky, though Byelovzorov looked more and more threatening every day, and glared at the wily count like a wolf at a sheep; but I thought of nothing and of no one. I was lost in imaginings, and was always seeking seclusion and solitude. I was particularly fond of the ruined greenhouse. I would climb up on the high wall, and perch myself, and sit there, such an unhappy, lonely, and melancholy youth, that I felt sorry for myself — and how consolatory where those mournful sensations, how I revelled in them!...

One day I was sitting on the wall looking into the distance and listening to the ringing of the bells.... Suddenly something floated up to me — not a breath of wind and not a shiver, but as it were a whiff of fragrance — as it were, a sense of some one’s being near.... I looked down. Below, on the path, in a light greyish gown, with a pink parasol on her shoulder, was Zina´da, hurrying along. She caught sight of me, stopped, and pushing back the brim of her straw hat, she raised her velvety eyes to me.

‘What are you doing up there at such a height?’ she asked me with a rather queer smile. ‘Come,’ she went on, ‘you always declare you love me; jump down into the road to me if you really do love me.’

Zina´da had hardly uttered those words when I flew down, just as though some one had given me a violent push from behind. The wall was about fourteen feet high. I reached the ground on my feet, but the shock was so great that I could not keep my footing; I fell down, and for an instant fainted away. When I came to myself again, without opening my eyes, I felt Zina´da beside me. ‘My dear boy,’ she was saying, bending over me, and there was a note of alarmed tenderness in her voice, ‘how could you do it, dear; how could you obey?... You know I love you.... Get up.’

Her bosom was heaving close to me, her hands were caressing my head, and suddenly — what were my emotions at that moment — her soft, fresh lips began covering my face with kisses ... they touched my lips.... But then Zina´da probably guessed by the expression of my face that I had regained consciousness, though I still kept my eyes closed, and rising rapidly to her feet, she said: ‘Come, get up, naughty boy, silly, why are you lying in the dust?’ I got up. ‘Give me my parasol,’ said Zina´da, ‘I threw it down somewhere, and don’t stare at me like that ... what ridiculous nonsense! you’re not hurt, are you? stung by the nettles, I daresay? Don’t stare at me, I tell you.... But he doesn’t understand, he doesn’t answer,’ she added, as though to herself.... ‘Go home, M’sieu’ Voldemar, brush yourself, and don’t dare to follow me, or I shall be angry, and never again ...’

She did not finish her sentence, but walked rapidly away, while I sat down by the side of the road ... my legs would not support me. The nettles had stung my hands, my back ached, and my head was giddy; but the feeling of rapture I experienced then has never come a second time in my life. It turned to a sweet ache in all my limbs and found expression at last in joyful hops and skips and shouts. Yes, I was still a child.

XIII

I was so proud and light-hearted all that day, I so vividly retained on my face the feeling of Zina´da’s kisses, with such a shudder of delight I recalled every word she had uttered, I so hugged my unexpected happiness that I felt positively afraid, positively unwilling to see her, who had given rise to these new sensations. It seemed to me that now I could ask nothing more of fate, that now I ought to ‘go, and draw a deep last sigh and die.’ But, next day, when I went into the lodge, I felt great embarrassment, which I tried to conceal under a show of modest confidence, befitting a man who wishes to make it apparent that he knows how to keep a secret. Zina´da received me very simply, without any emotion, she simply shook her finger at me and asked me, whether I wasn’t black and blue? All my modest confidence and air of mystery vanished instantaneously and with them my embarrassment. Of course, I had not expected anything particular, but Zina´da’s composure was like a bucket of cold water thrown over me. I realised that in her eyes I was a child, and was extremely miserable! Zina´da walked up and down the room, giving me a quick smile, whenever she caught my eye, but her thoughts were far away, I saw that clearly.... ‘Shall I begin about what happened yesterday myself,’ I pondered; ‘ask her, where she was hurrying off so fast, so as to find out once for all’ ... but with a gesture of despair, I merely went and sat down in a corner.

Byelovzorov came in; I felt relieved to see him.

‘I’ve not been able to find you a quiet horse,’ he said in a sulky voice; ‘Freitag warrants one, but I don’t feel any confidence in it, I am afraid.’

‘What are you afraid of?’ said Zina´da; ‘allow me to inquire?’

‘What am I afraid of? Why, you don’t know how to ride. Lord save us, what might happen! What whim is this has come over you all of a sudden?’

‘Come, that’s my business, Sir Wild Beast. In that case I will ask Piotr Vassilievitch.’ ... (My father’s name was Piotr Vassilievitch. I was surprised at her mentioning his name so lightly and freely, as though she were confident of his readiness to do her a service.)

‘Oh, indeed,’ retorted Byelovzorov, ‘you mean to go out riding with him then?’

‘With him or with some one else is nothing to do with you. Only not with you, anyway.’

‘Not with me,’ repeated Byelovzorov. ‘As you wish. Well, I shall find you a horse.’

‘Yes, only mind now, don’t send some old cow. I warn you I want to gallop.’

‘Gallop away by all means ... with whom is it, with Malevsky, you are going to ride?’

‘And why not with him, Mr. Pugnacity? Come, be quiet,’ she added, ‘and don’t glare. I’ll take you too. You know that to my mind now Malevsky’s — ugh!’ She shook her head.

‘You say that to console me,’ growled Byelovzorov.

Zina´da half closed her eyes. ‘Does that console you? O ... O ... O ... Mr. Pugnacity!’ she said at last, as though she could find no other word. ‘And you, M’sieu’ Voldemar, would you come with us?’

‘I don’t care to ... in a large party,’ I muttered, not raising my eyes.

‘You prefer a tŕte-Ó-tŕte ?... Well, freedom to the free, and heaven to the saints,’ she commented with a sigh. ‘Go along, Byelovzorov, and bestir yourself. I must have a horse for tomorrow.’

‘Oh, and where’s the money to come from?’ put in the old princess.

Zina´da scowled.

‘I won’t ask you for it; Byelovzorov will trust me.’

‘He’ll trust you, will he?’ ... grumbled the old princess, and all of a sudden she screeched at the top of her voice, ‘Duniashka!’

‘Maman, I have given you a bell to ring,’ observed Zina´da.

‘Duniashka!’ repeated the old lady.

Byelovzorov took leave; I went away with him. Zina´da did not try to detain me.

XIV

The next day I got up early, cut myself a stick, and set off beyond the town-gates. I thought I would walk off my sorrow. It was a lovely day, bright and not too hot, a fresh sportive breeze roved over the earth with temperate rustle and frolic, setting all things a-flutter and harassing nothing. I wandered a long while over hills and through woods; I had not felt happy, I had left home with the intention of giving myself up to melancholy, but youth, the exquisite weather, the fresh air, the pleasure of rapid motion, the sweetness of repose, lying on the thick grass in a solitary nook, gained the upper hand; the memory of those never-to-be-forgotten words, those kisses, forced itself once more upon my soul. It was sweet to me to think that Zina´da could not, anyway, fail to do justice to my courage, my heroism....’ Others may seem better to her than I,’ I mused, ‘let them! But others only say what they would do, while I have done it. And what more would I not do for her?’ My fancy set to work. I began picturing to myself how I would save her from the hands of enemies; how, covered with blood I would tear her by force from prison, and expire at her feet. I remembered a picture hanging in our drawing-room — Malek-Adel bearing away Matilda — but at that point my attention was absorbed by the appearance of a speckled woodpecker who climbed busily up the slender stem of a birch-tree and peeped out uneasily from behind it, first to the right, then to the left, like a musician behind the bass-viol.

Then I sang ‘Not the white snows,’ and passed from that to a song well known at that period: ‘I await thee, when the wanton zephyr,’ then I began reading aloud Yermak’s address to the stars from Homyakov’s tragedy. I made an attempt to compose something myself in a sentimental vein, and invented the line which was to conclude each verse: ‘O Zina´da, Zina´da!’ but could get no further with it. Meanwhile it was getting on towards dinner-time. I went down into the valley; a narrow sandy path winding through it led to the town. I walked along this path.... The dull thud of horses’ hoofs resounded behind me. I looked round instinctively, stood still and took off my cap. I saw my father and Zina´da. They were riding side by side. My father was saying something to her, bending right over to her, his hand propped on the horses’ neck, he was smiling. Zina´da listened to him in silence, her eyes severely cast down, and her lips tightly pressed together. At first I saw them only; but a few instants later, Byelovzorov came into sight round a bend in the glade, he was wearing a hussar’s uniform with a pelisse, and riding a foaming black horse. The gallant horse tossed its head, snorted and pranced from side to side, his rider was at once holding him in and spurring him on. I stood aside. My father gathered up the reins, moved away from Zina´da, she slowly raised her eyes to him, and both galloped off ... Byelovzorov flew after them, his sabre clattering behind him. ‘He’s as red as a crab,’ I reflected, ‘while she ... why’s she so pale? out riding the whole morning, and pale?’

I redoubled my pace, and got home just at dinner-time. My father was already sitting by my mother’s chair, dressed for dinner, washed and fresh; he was reading an article from the Journal des DÚbats in his smooth musical voice; but my mother heard him without attention, and when she saw me, asked where I had been to all day long, and added that she didn’t like this gadding about God knows where, and God knows in what company. ‘But I have been walking alone,’ I was on the point of replying, but I looked at my father, and for some reason or other held my peace.

XV

For the next five or six days I hardly saw Zina´da; she said she was ill, which did not, however, prevent the usual visitors from calling at the lodge to pay — as they expressed it, their duty — all, that is, except Meidanov, who promptly grew dejected and sulky when he had not an opportunity of being enthusiastic. Byelovzorov sat sullen and red-faced in a corner, buttoned up to the throat; on the refined face of Malevsky there flickered continually an evil smile; he had really fallen into disfavour with Zina´da, and waited with special assiduity on the old princess, and even went with her in a hired coach to call on the Governor-General. This expedition turned out unsuccessful, however, and even led to an unpleasant experience for Malevsky; he was reminded of some scandal to do with certain officers of the engineers, and was forced in his explanations to plead his youth and inexperience at the time. Lushin came twice a day, but did not stay long; I was rather afraid of him after our last unreserved conversation, and at the same time felt a genuine attraction to him. He went a walk with me one day in the Neskutchny gardens, was very good-natured and nice, told me the names and properties of various plants and flowers, and suddenly, Ó propos of nothing at all, cried, hitting himself on his forehead, ‘And I, poor fool, thought her a flirt! it’s clear self-sacrifice is sweet for some people!’

‘What do you mean by that?’ I inquired.

‘I don’t mean to tell you anything,’ Lushin replied abruptly.

Zina´da avoided me; my presence — I could not help noticing it — affected her disagreeably. She involuntarily turned away from me ... involuntarily; that was what was so bitter, that was what crushed me! But there was no help for it, and I tried not to cross her path, and only to watch her from a distance, in which I was not always successful. As before, something incomprehensible was happening to her; her face was different, she was different altogether. I was specially struck by the change that had taken place in her one warm still evening. I was sitting on a low garden bench under a spreading elderbush; I was fond of that nook; I could see from there the window of Zina´da’s room. I sat there; over my head a little bird was busily hopping about in the darkness of the leaves; a grey cat, stretching herself at full length, crept warily about the garden, and the first beetles were heavily droning in the air, which was still clear, though it was not light. I sat and gazed at the window, and waited to see if it would open; it did open, and Zina´da appeared at it. She had on a white dress, and she herself, her face, shoulders, and arms, were pale to whiteness. She stayed a long while without moving, and looked out straight before her from under her knitted brows. I had never known such a look on her. Then she clasped her hands tightly, raised them to her lips, to her forehead, and suddenly pulling her fingers apart, she pushed back her hair behind her ears, tossed it, and with a sort of determination nodded her head, and slammed-to the window.

Three days later she met me in the garden. I was turning away, but she stopped me of herself.

‘Give me your arm,’ she said to me with her old affectionateness, ‘it’s a long while since we have had a talk together.’

I stole a look at her; her eyes were full of a soft light, and her face seemed as it were smiling through a mist.

‘Are you still not well?’ I asked her.

‘No, that’s all over now,’ she answered, and she picked a small red rose. ‘I am a little tired, but that too will pass off.’

‘And will you be as you used to be again?’ I asked.

Zina´da put the rose up to her face, and I fancied the reflection of its bright petals had fallen on her cheeks. ‘Why, am I changed?’ she questioned me.

‘Yes, you are changed,’ I answered in a low voice.

‘I have been cold to you, I know,’ began Zina´da, ‘but you mustn’t pay attention to that ... I couldn’t help it.... Come, why talk about it!’

‘You don’t want me to love you, that’s what it is!’ I cried gloomily, in an involuntary outburst.

‘No, love me, but not as you did.’

‘How then?’

‘Let us be friends — come now!’ Zina´da gave me the rose to smell. ‘Listen, you know I’m much older than you — I might be your aunt, really; well, not your aunt, but an older sister. And you ...’

‘You think me a child,’ I interrupted.

‘Well, yes, a child, but a dear, good clever one, whom I love very much. Do you know what? From this day forth I confer on you the rank of page to me; and don’t you forget that pages have to keep close to their ladies. Here is the token of your new dignity,’ she added, sticking the rose in the buttonhole of my jacket, ‘the token of my favour.’

‘I once received other favours from you,’ I muttered.

‘Ah!’ commented Zina´da, and she gave me a sidelong look, ‘What a memory he has! Well? I’m quite ready now ...’ And stooping to me, she imprinted on my forehead a pure, tranquil kiss.

I only looked at her, while she turned away, and saying, ‘Follow me, my page,’ went into the lodge. I followed her — all in amazement. ‘Can this gentle, reasonable girl,’ I thought, ‘be the Zina´da I used to know?’ I fancied her very walk was quieter, her whole figure statelier and more graceful ...

And, mercy! with what fresh force love burned within me!

XVI

After dinner the usual party assembled again at the lodge, and the young princess came out to them. All were there in full force, just as on that first evening which I never forgot; even Nirmatsky had limped to see her; Meidanov came this time earliest of all, he brought some new verses. The games of forfeits began again, but without the strange pranks, the practical jokes and noise — the gipsy element had vanished. Zina´da gave a different tone to the proceedings. I sat beside her by virtue of my office as page. Among other things, she proposed that any one who had to pay a forfeit should tell his dream; but this was not successful. The dreams were either uninteresting (Byelovzorov had dreamed that he fed his mare on carp, and that she had a wooden head), or unnatural and invented. Meidanov regaled us with a regular romance; there were sepulchres in it, and angels with lyres, and talking flowers and music wafted from afar. Zina´da did not let him finish. ‘If we are to have compositions,’ she said, ‘let every one tell something made up, and no pretence about it.’ The first who had to speak was again Byelovzorov.

The young hussar was confused. ‘I can’t make up anything!’ he cried.

‘What nonsense!’ said Zina´da. ‘Well, imagine, for instance, you are married, and tell us how you would treat your wife. Would you lock her up?’

‘Yes, I should lock her up.’

‘And would you stay with her yourself?’

‘Yes, I should certainly stay with her myself.’

‘Very good. Well, but if she got sick of that, and she deceived you?’

‘I should kill her.’

‘And if she ran away?’

‘I should catch her up and kill her all the same.’

‘Oh. And suppose now I were your wife, what would you do then?’

Byelovzorov was silent a minute. ‘I should kill myself....’

Zina´da laughed. ‘I see yours is not a long story.’

The next forfeit was Zina´da’s. She looked at the ceiling and considered. ‘Well, listen, she began at last, ‘what I have thought of.... Picture to yourselves a magnificent palace, a summer night, and a marvellous ball. This ball is given by a young queen. Everywhere gold and marble, crystal, silk, lights, diamonds, flowers, fragrant scents, every caprice of luxury.’

‘You love luxury?’ Lushin interposed. ‘Luxury is beautiful,’ she retorted; ‘I love everything beautiful.’

‘More than what is noble?’ he asked.

‘That’s something clever, I don’t understand it. Don’t interrupt me. So the ball is magnificent. There are crowds of guests, all of them are young, handsome, and brave, all are frantically in love with the queen.’

‘Are there no women among the guests?’ queried Malevsky.

‘No — or wait a minute — yes, there are some.’

‘Are they all ugly?’

‘No, charming. But the men are all in love with the queen. She is tall and graceful; she has a little gold diadem on her black hair.’

I looked at Zina´da, and at that instant she seemed to me so much above all of us, there was such bright intelligence, and such power about her unruffled brows, that I thought: ‘You are that queen!’

‘They all throng about her,’ Zina´da went on, ‘and all lavish the most flattering speeches upon her.’

‘And she likes flattery?’ Lushin queried.

‘What an intolerable person! he keeps interrupting ... who doesn’t like flattery?’

‘One more last question,’ observed Malevsky, ‘has the queen a husband?’

‘I hadn’t thought about that. No, why should she have a husband?’

‘To be sure,’ assented Malevsky, ‘why should she have a husband?’

Silence! ’ cried Meidanov in French, which he spoke very badly.

Merci! ’ Zina´da said to him. ‘And so the queen hears their speeches, and hears the music, but does not look at one of the guests. Six windows are open from top to bottom, from floor to ceiling, and beyond them is a dark sky with big stars, a dark garden with big trees. The queen gazes out into the garden. Out there among the trees is a fountain; it is white in the darkness, and rises up tall, tall as an apparition. The queen hears, through the talk and the music, the soft splash of its waters. She gazes and thinks: you are all, gentlemen, noble, clever, and rich, you crowd round me, you treasure every word I utter, you are all ready to die at my feet, I hold you in my power ... but out there, by the fountain, by that splashing water, stands and waits he whom I love, who holds me in his power. He has neither rich raiment nor precious stones, no one knows him, but he awaits me, and is certain I shall come — and I shall come — and there is no power that could stop me when I want to go out to him, and to stay with him, and be lost with him out there in the darkness of the garden, under the whispering of the trees, and the splash of the fountain ...’ Zina´da ceased.

‘Is that a made-up story?’ Malevsky inquired slyly. Zina´da did not even look at him.

‘And what should we have done, gentlemen?’ Lushin began suddenly, ‘if we had been among the guests, and had known of the lucky fellow at the fountain?’

‘Stop a minute, stop a minute,’ interposed Zina´da, ‘I will tell you myself what each of you would have done. You, Byelovzorov, would have challenged him to a duel; you, Meidanov, would have written an epigram on him ... No, though, you can’t write epigrams, you would have made up a long poem on him in the style of Barbier, and would have inserted your production in the Telegraph . You, Nirmatsky, would have borrowed ... no, you would have lent him money at high interest; you, doctor,...’ she stopped. ‘There, I really don’t know what you would have done....’

‘In the capacity of court physician,’ answered Lushin, ‘I would have advised the queen not to give balls when she was not in the humour for entertaining her guests....’

‘Perhaps you would have been right. And you, Count?...’

‘And I?’ repeated Malevsky with his evil smile....

‘You would offer him a poisoned sweetmeat.’ Malevsky’s face changed slightly, and assumed for an instant a Jewish expression, but he laughed directly.

‘And as for you, Voldemar,...’ Zina´da went on, ‘but that’s enough, though; let us play another game.’

‘M’sieu Voldemar, as the queen’s page, would have held up her train when she ran into the garden,’ Malevsky remarked malignantly.

I was crimson with anger, but Zina´da hurriedly laid a hand on my shoulder, and getting up, said in a rather shaky voice: ‘I have never given your excellency the right to be rude, and therefore I will ask you to leave us.’ She pointed to the door.

‘Upon my word, princess,’ muttered Malevsky, and he turned quite pale.

‘The princess is right,’ cried Byelovzorov, and he too rose.

‘Good God, I’d not the least idea,’ Malevsky went on, ‘in my words there was nothing, I think, that could ... I had no notion of offending you.... Forgive me.’

Zina´da looked him up and down coldly, and coldly smiled. ‘Stay, then, certainly,’ she pronounced with a careless gesture of her arm.

‘M’sieu Voldemar and I were needlessly incensed. It is your pleasure to sting ... may it do you good.’

‘Forgive me,’ Malevsky repeated once more; while I, my thoughts dwelling on Zina´da’s gesture, said to myself again that no real queen could with greater dignity have shown a presumptuous subject to the door.

The game of forfeits went on for a short time after this little scene; every one felt rather ill at ease, not so much on account of this scene, as from another, not quite definite, but oppressive feeling. No one spoke of it, but every one was conscious of it in himself and in his neighbour. Meidanov read us his verses; and Malevsky praised them with exaggerated warmth. ‘He wants to show how good he is now,’ Lushin whispered to me. We soon broke up. A mood of reverie seemed to have come upon Zina´da; the old princess sent word that she had a headache; Nirmatsky began to complain of his rheumatism....

I could not for a long while get to sleep. I had been impressed by Zina´da’s story. ‘Can there have been a hint in it?’ I asked myself: ‘and at whom and at what was she hinting? And if there really is anything to hint at ... how is one to make up one’s mind? No, no, it can’t be,’ I whispered, turning over from one hot cheek on to the other.... But I remembered the expression of Zina´da’s face during her story.... I remembered the exclamation that had broken from Lushin in the Neskutchny gardens, the sudden change in her behaviour to me, and I was lost in conjectures. ‘Who is he?’ These three words seemed to stand before my eyes traced upon the darkness; a lowering malignant cloud seemed hanging over me, and I felt its oppressiveness, and waited for it to break. I had grown used to many things of late; I had learned much from what I had seen at the Zasyekins; their disorderly ways, tallow candle-ends, broken knives and forks, grumpy Vonifaty, and shabby maid-servants, the manners of the old princess — all their strange mode of life no longer struck me.... But what I was dimly discerning now in Zina´da, I could never get used to.... ‘An adventuress!’ my mother had said of her one day. An adventuress — she, my idol, my divinity? This word stabbed me, I tried to get away from it into my pillow, I was indignant — and at the same time what would I not have agreed to, what would I not have given only to be that lucky fellow at the fountain!... My blood was on fire and boiling within me. ‘The garden ... the fountain,’ I mused.... ‘I will go into the garden.’ I dressed quickly and slipped out of the house. The night was dark, the trees scarcely whispered, a soft chill air breathed down from the sky, a smell of fennel trailed across from the kitchen garden. I went through all the walks; the light sound of my own footsteps at once confused and emboldened me; I stood still, waited and heard my heart beating fast and loudly. At last I went up to the fence and leaned against the thin bar. Suddenly, or was it my fancy, a woman’s figure flashed by, a few paces from me ... I strained my eyes eagerly into the darkness, I held my breath. What was that? Did I hear steps, or was it my heart beating again? ‘Who is here?’ I faltered, hardly audibly. What was that again, a smothered laugh ... or a rustling in the leaves ... or a sigh just at my ear? I felt afraid ... ‘Who is here?’ I repeated still more softly.

The air blew in a gust for an instant; a streak of fire flashed across the sky; it was a star falling. ‘Zina´da?’ I wanted to call, but the word died away on my lips. And all at once everything became profoundly still around, as is often the case in the middle of the night.... Even the grasshoppers ceased their churr in the trees — only a window rattled somewhere. I stood and stood, and then went back to my room, to my chilled bed. I felt a strange sensation; as though I had gone to a tryst, and had been left lonely, and had passed close by another’s happiness.

XVII

The following day I only had a passing glimpse of Zina´da: she was driving somewhere with the old princess in a cab. But I saw Lushin, who, however, barely vouchsafed me a greeting, and Malevsky. The young count grinned, and began affably talking to me. Of all those who visited at the lodge, he alone had succeeded in forcing his way into our house, and had favourably impressed my mother. My father did not take to him, and treated him with a civility almost insulting.

‘Ah, monsieur le page ,’ began Malevsky, ‘delighted to meet you. What is your lovely queen doing?’

His fresh handsome face was so detestable to me at that moment, and he looked at me with such contemptuous amusement that I did not answer him at all.

‘Are you still angry?’ he went on. ‘You’ve no reason to be. It wasn’t I who called you a page, you know, and pages attend queens especially. But allow me to remark that you perform your duties very badly.’

‘How so?’

‘Pages ought to be inseparable from their mistresses; pages ought to know everything they do, they ought, indeed, to watch over them,’ he added, lowering his voice, ‘day and night.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘What do I mean? I express myself pretty clearly, I fancy. Day and night. By day it’s not so much matter; it’s light, and people are about in the daytime; but by night, then look out for misfortune. I advise you not to sleep at nights and to watch, watch with all your energies. You remember, in the garden, by night, at the fountain, that’s where there’s need to look out. You will thank me.’

Malevsky laughed and turned his back on me. He, most likely, attached no great importance to what he had said to me, he had a reputation for mystifying, and was noted for his power of taking people in at masquerades, which was greatly augmented by the almost unconscious falsity in which his whole nature was steeped.... He only wanted to tease me; but every word he uttered was a poison that ran through my veins. The blood rushed to my head. ‘Ah! so that’s it!’ I said to myself; ‘good! So there was reason for me to feel drawn into the garden! That shan’t be so!’ I cried aloud, and struck myself on the chest with my fist, though precisely what should not be so I could not have said. ‘Whether Malevsky himself goes into the garden,’ I thought (he was bragging, perhaps; he has insolence enough for that), ‘or some one else (the fence of our garden was very low, and there was no difficulty in getting over it), anyway, if any one falls into my hands, it will be the worse for him! I don’t advise any one to meet me! I will prove to all the world and to her, the traitress (I actually used the word ‘traitress’) that I can be revenged!’

I returned to my own room, took out of the writing-table an English knife I had recently bought, felt its sharp edge, and knitting my brows with an air of cold and concentrated determination, thrust it into my pocket, as though doing such deeds was nothing out of the way for me, and not the first time. My heart heaved angrily, and felt heavy as a stone. All day long I kept a scowling brow and lips tightly compressed, and was continually walking up and down, clutching, with my hand in my pocket, the knife, which was warm from my grasp, while I prepared myself beforehand for something terrible. These new unknown sensations so occupied and even delighted me, that I hardly thought of Zina´da herself. I was continually haunted by Aleko, the young gipsy —‘Where art thou going, young handsome man? Lie there,’ and then, ‘thou art all besprent with blood.... Oh, what hast thou done?... Naught!’ With what a cruel smile I repeated that ‘Naught!’ My father was not at home; but my mother, who had for some time past been in an almost continual state of dumb exasperation, noticed my gloomy and heroic aspect, and said to me at supper, ‘Why are you sulking like a mouse in a meal-tub?’ I merely smiled condescendingly in reply, and thought, ‘If only they knew!’ It struck eleven; I went to my room, but did not undress; I waited for midnight; at last it struck. ‘The time has come!’ I muttered between my teeth; and buttoning myself up to the throat, and even pulling my sleeves up, I went into the garden.

I had already fixed on the spot from which to keep watch. At the end of the garden, at the point where the fence, separating our domain from the Zasyekins,’ joined the common wall, grew a pine-tree, standing alone. Standing under its low thick branches, I could see well, as far as the darkness of the night permitted, what took place around. Close by, ran a winding path which had always seemed mysterious to me; it coiled like a snake under the fence, which at that point bore traces of having been climbed over, and led to a round arbour formed of thick acacias. I made my way to the pine-tree, leaned my back against its trunk, and began my watch.

The night was as still as the night before, but there were fewer clouds in the sky, and the outlines of bushes, even of tall flowers, could be more distinctly seen. The first moments of expectation were oppressive, almost terrible. I had made up my mind to everything. I only debated how to act; whether to thunder, ‘Where goest thou? Stand! show thyself — or death!’ or simply to strike.... Every sound, every whisper and rustle, seemed to me portentous and extraordinary.... I prepared myself.... I bent forward.... But half-an-hour passed, an hour passed; my blood had grown quieter, colder; the consciousness that I was doing all this for nothing, that I was even a little absurd, that Malevsky had been making fun of me, began to steal over me. I left my ambush, and walked all about the garden. As if to taunt me, there was not the smallest sound to be heard anywhere; everything was at rest. Even our dog was asleep, curled up into a ball at the gate. I climbed up into the ruins of the greenhouse, saw the open country far away before me, recalled my meeting with Zina´da, and fell to dreaming....

I started.... I fancied I heard the creak of a door opening, then the faint crack of a broken twig. In two bounds I got down from the ruin, and stood still, all aghast. Rapid, light, but cautious footsteps sounded distinctly in the garden. They were approaching me. ‘Here he is ... here he is, at last!’ flashed through my heart. With spasmodic haste, I pulled the knife out of my pocket; with spasmodic haste, I opened it. Flashes of red were whirling before my eyes; my hair stood up on my head in my fear and fury.... The steps were coming straight towards me; I bent — I craned forward to meet him.... A man came into view.... My God! it was my father! I recognised him at once, though he was all muffled up in a dark cloak, and his hat was pulled down over his face. On tip-toe he walked by. He did not notice me, though nothing concealed me; but I was so huddled up and shrunk together that I fancy I was almost on the level of the ground. The jealous Othello, ready for murder, was suddenly transformed into a school-boy.... I was so taken aback by my father’s unexpected appearance that for the first moment I did not notice where he had come from or in what direction he disappeared. I only drew myself up, and thought, ‘Why is it my father is walking about in the garden at night?’ when everything was still again. In my horror I had dropped my knife in the grass, but I did not even attempt to look for it; I was very much ashamed of myself. I was completely sobered at once. On my way to the house, however, I went up to my seat under the elder-tree, and looked up at Zina´da’s window. The small slightly-convex panes of the window shone dimly blue in the faint light thrown on them by the night sky. All at once — their colour began to change.... Behind them — I saw this, saw it distinctly — softly and cautiously a white blind was let down, let down right to the window-frame, and so stayed.

‘What is that for?’ I said aloud almost involuntarily when I found myself once more in my room. ‘A dream, a chance, or ...’ The suppositions which suddenly rushed into my head were so new and strange that I did not dare to entertain them.

XVIII

I got up in the morning with a headache. My emotion of the previous day had vanished. It was replaced by a dreary sense of blankness and a sort of sadness I had not known till then, as though something had died in me.

‘Why is it you’re looking like a rabbit with half its brain removed?’ said Lushin on meeting me. At lunch I stole a look first at my father, then at my mother: he was composed, as usual; she was, as usual, secretly irritated. I waited to see whether my father would make some friendly remarks to me, as he sometimes did.... But he did not even bestow his everyday cold greeting upon me. ‘Shall I tell Zina´da all?’ I wondered.... ‘It’s all the same, anyway; all is at an end between us.’ I went to see her, but told her nothing, and, indeed, I could not even have managed to get a talk with her if I had wanted to. The old princess’s son, a cadet of twelve years old, had come from Petersburg for his holidays; Zina´da at once handed her brother over to me. ‘Here,’ she said,’ my dear Volodya,’— it was the first time she had used this pet-name to me —‘is a companion for you. His name is Volodya, too. Please, like him; he is still shy, but he has a good heart. Show him Neskutchny gardens, go walks with him, take him under your protection. You’ll do that, won’t you? you’re so good, too!’ She laid both her hands affectionately on my shoulders, and I was utterly bewildered. The presence of this boy transformed me, too, into a boy. I looked in silence at the cadet, who stared as silently at me. Zina´da laughed, and pushed us towards each other. ‘Embrace each other, children!’ We embraced each other. ‘Would you like me to show you the garden?’ I inquired of the cadet. ‘If you please,’ he replied, in the regular cadet’s hoarse voice. Zina´da laughed again.... I had time to notice that she had never had such an exquisite colour in her face before. I set off with the cadet. There was an old-fashioned swing in our garden. I sat him down on the narrow plank seat, and began swinging him. He sat rigid in his new little uniform of stout cloth, with its broad gold braiding, and kept tight hold of the cords. ‘You’d better unbutton your collar,’ I said to him. ‘It’s all right; we’re used to it,’ he said, and cleared his throat. He was like his sister. The eyes especially recalled her, I liked being nice to him; and at the same time an aching sadness was gnawing at my heart. ‘Now I certainly am a child,’ I thought; ‘but yesterday....’ I remembered where I had dropped my knife the night before, and looked for it. The cadet asked me for it, picked a thick stalk of wild parsley, cut a pipe out of it, and began whistling. Othello whistled too.

But in the evening how he wept, this Othello, in Zina´da’s arms, when, seeking him out in a corner of the garden, she asked him why he was so depressed. My tears flowed with such violence that she was frightened. ‘What is wrong with you? What is it, Volodya?’ she repeated; and seeing I made no answer, and did not cease weeping, she was about to kiss my wet cheek. But I turned away from her, and whispered through my sobs, ‘I know all. Why did you play with me?... What need had you of my love?’

‘I am to blame, Volodya ...’ said Zina´da. ‘I am very much to blame ...’ she added, wringing her hands. ‘How much there is bad and black and sinful in me!... But I am not playing with you now. I love you; you don’t even suspect why and how.... But what is it you know?’

What could I say to her? She stood facing me, and looked at me; and I belonged to her altogether from head to foot directly she looked at me.... A quarter of an hour later I was running races with the cadet and Zina´da. I was not crying, I was laughing, though my swollen eyelids dropped a tear or two as I laughed. I had Zina´da’s ribbon round my neck for a cravat, and I shouted with delight whenever I succeeded in catching her round the waist. She did just as she liked with me.

XIX

I should be in a great difficulty, if I were forced to describe exactly what passed within me in the course of the week after my unsuccessful midnight expedition. It was a strange feverish time, a sort of chaos, in which the most violently opposed feelings, thoughts, suspicions, hopes, joys, and sufferings, whirled together in a kind of hurricane. I was afraid to look into myself, if a boy of sixteen ever can look into himself; I was afraid to take stock of anything; I simply hastened to live through every day till evening; and at night I slept ... the light-heartedness of childhood came to my aid. I did not want to know whether I was loved, and I did not want to acknowledge to myself that I was not loved; my father I avoided — but Zina´da I could not avoid.... I burnt as in a fire in her presence ... but what did I care to know what the fire was in which I burned and melted — it was enough that it was sweet to burn and melt. I gave myself up to all my passing sensations, and cheated myself, turning away from memories, and shutting my eyes to what I foreboded before me.... This weakness would not most likely have lasted long in any case ... a thunderbolt cut it all short in a moment, and flung me into a new track altogether.

Coming in one day to dinner from a rather long walk, I learnt with amazement that I was to dine alone, that my father had gone away and my mother was unwell, did not want any dinner, and had shut herself up in her bedroom. From the faces of the footmen, I surmised that something extraordinary had taken place.... I did not dare to cross-examine them, but I had a friend in the young waiter Philip, who was passionately fond of poetry, and a performer on the guitar. I addressed myself to him. From him I learned that a terrible scene had taken place between my father and mother (and every word had been overheard in the maids’ room; much of it had been in French, but Masha the lady’s-maid had lived five years’ with a dressmaker from Paris, and she understood it all); that my mother had reproached my father with infidelity, with an intimacy with the young lady next door, that my father at first had defended himself, but afterwards had lost his temper, and he too had said something cruel, ‘reflecting on her age,’ which had made my mother cry; that my mother too had alluded to some loan which it seemed had been made to the old princess, and had spoken very ill of her and of the young lady too, and that then my father had threatened her. ‘And all the mischief,’ continued Philip, ‘came from an anonymous letter; and who wrote it, no one knows, or else there’d have been no reason whatever for the matter to have come out at all.’

‘But was there really any ground,’ I brought out with difficulty, while my hands and feet went cold, and a sort of shudder ran through my inmost being.

Philip winked meaningly. ‘There was. There’s no hiding those things; for all that your father was careful this time — but there, you see, he’d, for instance, to hire a carriage or something ... no getting on without servants, either.’

I dismissed Philip, and fell on to my bed. I did not sob, I did not give myself up to despair; I did not ask myself when and how this had happened; I did not wonder how it was I had not guessed it before, long ago; I did not even upbraid my father.... What I had learnt was more than I could take in; this sudden revelation stunned me.... All was at an end. All the fair blossoms of my heart were roughly plucked at once, and lay about me, flung on the ground, and trampled underfoot.

XX

My mother next day announced her intention of returning to the town. In the morning my father had gone into her bedroom, and stayed there a long while alone with her. No one had overheard what he said to her; but my mother wept no more; she regained her composure, and asked for food, but did not make her appearance nor change her plans. I remember I wandered about the whole day, but did not go into the garden, and never once glanced at the lodge, and in the evening I was the spectator of an amazing occurrence: my father conducted Count Malevsky by the arm through the dining-room into the hall, and, in the presence of a footman, said icily to him: ‘A few days ago your excellency was shown the door in our house; and now I am not going to enter into any kind of explanation with you, but I have the honour to announce to you that if you ever visit me again, I shall throw you out of window. I don’t like your handwriting.’ The count bowed, bit his lips, shrank away, and vanished.

Preparations were beginning for our removal to town, to Arbaty Street, where we had a house. My father himself probably no longer cared to remain at the country house; but clearly he had succeeded in persuading my mother not to make a public scandal. Everything was done quietly, without hurry; my mother even sent her compliments to the old princess, and expressed her regret that she was prevented by indisposition from seeing her again before her departure. I wandered about like one possessed, and only longed for one thing, for it all to be over as soon as possible. One thought I could not get out of my head: how could she, a young girl, and a princess too, after all, bring herself to such a step, knowing that my father was not a free man, and having an opportunity of marrying, for instance, Byelovzorov? What did she hope for? How was it she was not afraid of ruining her whole future? Yes, I thought, this is love, this is passion, this is devotion ... and Lushin’s words came back to me: to sacrifice oneself for some people is sweet. I chanced somehow to catch sight of something white in one of the windows of the lodge.... ‘Can it be Zina´da’s face?’ I thought ... yes, it really was her face. I could not restrain myself. I could not part from her without saying a last good-bye to her. I seized a favourable instant, and went into the lodge.

In the drawing-room the old princess met me with her usual slovenly and careless greetings.

‘How’s this, my good man, your folks are off in such a hurry?’ she observed, thrusting snuff into her nose. I looked at her, and a load was taken off my heart. The word ‘loan,’ dropped by Philip, had been torturing me. She had no suspicion ... at least I thought so then. Zina´da came in from the next room, pale, and dressed in black, with her hair hanging loose; she took me by the hand without a word, and drew me away with her.

‘I heard your voice,’ she began, ‘and came out at once. Is it so easy for you to leave us, bad boy?’

‘I have come to say good-bye to you, princess,’ I answered, ‘probably for ever. You have heard, perhaps, we are going away.’

Zina´da looked intently at me.

‘Yes, I have heard. Thanks for coming. I was beginning to think I should not see you again. Don’t remember evil against me. I have sometimes tormented you, but all the same I am not what you imagine me.’ She turned away, and leaned against the window.

‘Really, I am not like that. I know you have a bad opinion of me.’

‘I?’

‘Yes, you ... you.’

‘I?’ I repeated mournfully, and my heart throbbed as of old under the influence of her overpowering, indescribable fascination. ‘I? Believe me, Zina´da Alexandrovna, whatever you did, however you tormented me, I should love and adore you to the end of my days.’

She turned with a rapid motion to me, and flinging wide her arms, embraced my head, and gave me a warm and passionate kiss. God knows whom that long farewell kiss was seeking, but I eagerly tasted its sweetness. I knew that it would never be repeated. ‘Good-bye, good-bye,’ I kept saying ...

She tore herself away, and went out. And I went away. I cannot describe the emotion with which I went away. I should not wish it ever to come again; but I should think myself unfortunate had I never experienced such an emotion.

We went back to town. I did not quickly shake off the past; I did not quickly get to work. My wound slowly began to heal; but I had no ill-feeling against my father. On the contrary he had, as it were, gained in my eyes ... let psychologists explain the contradiction as best they can. One day I was walking along a boulevard, and to my indescribable delight, I came across Lushin. I liked him for his straightforward and unaffected character, and besides he was dear to me for the sake of the memories he aroused in me. I rushed up to him. ‘Aha!’ he said, knitting his brows,’ so it’s you, young man. Let me have a look at you. You’re still as yellow as ever, but yet there’s not the same nonsense in your eyes. You look like a man, not a lap-dog. That’s good. Well, what are you doing? working?’

I gave a sigh. I did not like to tell a lie, while I was ashamed to tell the truth.

‘Well, never mind,’ Lushin went on, ‘don’t be shy. The great thing is to lead a normal life, and not be the slave of your passions. What do you get if not? Wherever you are carried by the tide — it’s all a bad look-out; a man must stand on his own feet, if he can get nothing but a rock to stand on. Here, I’ve got a cough ... and Byelovzorov — have you heard anything of him?’

‘No. What is it?’

‘He’s lost, and no news of him; they say he’s gone away to the Caucasus. A lesson to you, young man. And it’s all from not knowing how to part in time, to break out of the net. You seem to have got off very well. Mind you don’t fall into the same snare again. Good-bye.’

‘I shan’t,’ I thought.... ‘I shan’t see her again.’ But I was destined to see Zina´da once more.

XXI

My father used every day to ride out on horse-back. He had a splendid English mare, a chestnut piebald, with a long slender neck and long legs, an inexhaustible and vicious beast. Her name was Electric. No one could ride her except my father. One day he came up to me in a good humour, a frame of mind in which I had not seen him for a long while; he was getting ready for his ride, and had already put on his spurs. I began entreating him to take me with him.

‘We’d much better have a game of leap-frog,’ my father replied. ‘You’ll never keep up with me on your cob.’

‘Yes, I will; I’ll put on spurs too.’

‘All right, come along then.’

We set off. I had a shaggy black horse, strong, and fairly spirited. It is true it had to gallop its utmost, when Electric went at full trot, still I was not left behind. I have never seen any one ride like my father; he had such a fine carelessly easy seat, that it seemed that the horse under him was conscious of it, and proud of its rider. We rode through all the boulevards, reached the ‘Maidens’ Field,’ jumped several fences (at first I had been afraid to take a leap, but my father had a contempt for cowards, and I soon ceased to feel fear), twice crossed the river Moskva, and I was under the impression that we were on our way home, especially as my father of his own accord observed that my horse was tired, when suddenly he turned off away from me at the Crimean ford, and galloped along the river-bank. I rode after him. When he had reached a high stack of old timber, he slid quickly off Electric, told me to dismount, and giving me his horse’s bridle, told me to wait for him there at the timber-stack, and, turning off into a small street, disappeared. I began walking up and down the river-bank, leading the horses, and scolding Electric, who kept pulling, shaking her head, snorting and neighing as she went; and when I stood still, never failed to paw the ground, and whining, bite my cob on the neck; in fact she conducted herself altogether like a spoilt thorough-bred. My father did not come back. A disagreeable damp mist rose from the river; a fine rain began softly blowing up, and spotting with tiny dark flecks the stupid grey timber-stack, which I kept passing and repassing, and was deadly sick of by now. I was terribly bored, and still my father did not come. A sort of sentry-man, a Fin, grey all over like the timber, and with a huge old-fashioned shako, like a pot, on his head, and with a halberd (and how ever came a sentry, if you think of it, on the banks of the Moskva!) drew near, and turning his wrinkled face, like an old woman’s, towards me, he observed, ‘What are you doing here with the horses, young master? Let me hold them.’

I made him no reply. He asked me for tobacco. To get rid of him (I was in a fret of impatience, too), I took a few steps in the direction in which my father had disappeared, then walked along the little street to the end, turned the corner, and stood still. In the street, forty paces from me, at the open window of a little wooden house, stood my father, his back turned to me; he was leaning forward over the window-sill, and in the house, half hidden by a curtain, sat a woman in a dark dress talking to my father; this woman was Zina´da.

I was petrified. This, I confess, I had never expected. My first impulse was to run away. ‘My father will look round,’ I thought, ‘and I am lost ...’ but a strange feeling — a feeling stronger than curiosity, stronger than jealousy, stronger even than fear — held me there. I began to watch; I strained my ears to listen. It seemed as though my father were insisting on something. Zina´da would not consent. I seem to see her face now — mournful, serious, lovely, and with an inexpressible impress of devotion, grief, love, and a sort of despair — I can find no other word for it. She uttered monosyllables, not raising her eyes, simply smiling — submissively, but without yielding. By that smile alone, I should have known my Zina´da of old days. My father shrugged his shoulders, and straightened his hat on his head, which was always a sign of impatience with him.... Then I caught the words: ‘Vous devez vous sÚparer de cette... ’ Zina´da sat up, and stretched out her arm.... Suddenly, before my very eyes, the impossible happened. My father suddenly lifted the whip, with which he had been switching the dust off his coat, and I heard a sharp blow on that arm, bare to the elbow. I could scarcely restrain myself from crying out; while Zina´da shuddered, looked without a word at my father, and slowly raising her arm to her lips, kissed the streak of red upon it. My father flung away the whip, and running quickly up the steps, dashed into the house.... Zina´da turned round, and with outstretched arms and downcast head, she too moved away from the window.

My heart sinking with panic, with a sort of awe-struck horror, I rushed back, and running down the lane, almost letting go my hold of Electric, went back to the bank of the river. I could not think clearly of anything. I knew that my cold and reserved father was sometimes seized by fits of fury; and all the same, I could never comprehend what I had just seen.... But I felt at the time that, however long I lived, I could never forget the gesture, the glance, the smile, of Zina´da; that her image, this image so suddenly presented to me, was imprinted for ever on my memory. I stared vacantly at the river, and never noticed that my tears were streaming. ‘She is beaten,’ I was thinking,... ‘beaten ... beaten....’

‘Hullo! what are you doing? Give me the mare!’ I heard my father’s voice saying behind me.

Mechanically I gave him the bridle. He leaped on to Electric ... the mare, chill with standing, reared on her haunches, and leaped ten feet away ... but my father soon subdued her; he drove the spurs into her sides, and gave her a blow on the neck with his fist.... ‘Ah, I’ve no whip,’ he muttered.

I remembered the swish and fall of the whip, heard so short a time before, and shuddered.

‘Where did you put it?’ I asked my father, after a brief pause.

My father made no answer, and galloped on ahead. I overtook him. I felt that I must see his face.

‘Were you bored waiting for me?’ he muttered through his teeth.

‘A little. Where did you drop your whip?’ I asked again.

My father glanced quickly at me. ‘I didn’t drop it,’ he replied; ‘I threw it away.’ He sank into thought, and dropped his head ... and then, for the first, and almost for the last time, I saw how much tenderness and pity his stern features were capable of expressing.

He galloped on again, and this time I could not overtake him; I got home a quarter-of-an-hour after him.

‘That’s love,’ I said to myself again, as I sat at night before my writing-table, on which books and papers had begun to make their appearance; ‘that’s passion!... To think of not revolting, of bearing a blow from any one whatever ... even the dearest hand! But it seems one can, if one loves.... While I ... I imagined ...’

I had grown much older during the last month; and my love, with all its transports and sufferings, struck me myself as something small and childish and pitiful beside this other unimagined something, which I could hardly fully grasp, and which frightened me like an unknown, beautiful, but menacing face, which one strives in vain to make out clearly in the half-darkness....

A strange and fearful dream came to me that same night. I dreamed I went into a low dark room.... My father was standing with a whip in his hand, stamping with anger; in the corner crouched Zina´da, and not on her arm, but on her forehead, was a stripe of red ... while behind them both towered Byelovzorov, covered with blood; he opened his white lips, and wrathfully threatened my father.

Two months later, I entered the university; and within six months my father died of a stroke in Petersburg, where he had just moved with my mother and me. A few days before his death he received a letter from Moscow which threw him into a violent agitation.... He went to my mother to beg some favour of her: and, I was told, he positively shed tears — he, my father! On the very morning of the day when he was stricken down, he had begun a letter to me in French. ‘My son,’ he wrote to me, ‘fear the love of woman; fear that bliss, that poison....’ After his death, my mother sent a considerable sum of money to Moscow.

XXII

Four years passed. I had just left the university, and did not know exactly what to do with myself, at what door to knock; I was hanging about for a time with nothing to do. One fine evening I met Meidanov at the theatre. He had got married, and had entered the civil service; but I found no change in him. He fell into ecstasies in just the same superfluous way, and just as suddenly grew depressed again.

‘You know,’ he told me among other things, ‘Madame Dolsky’s here.’

‘What Madame Dolsky?’

‘Can you have forgotten her?— the young Princess Zasyekin whom we were all in love with, and you too. Do you remember at the country-house near Neskutchny gardens?’

‘She married a Dolsky?’

‘Yes.’

‘And is she here, in the theatre?’

‘No: but she’s in Petersburg. She came here a few days ago. She’s going abroad.’

‘What sort of fellow is her husband?’ I asked.

‘A splendid fellow, with property. He’s a colleague of mine in Moscow. You can well understand — after the scandal ... you must know all about it ...’ (Meidanov smiled significantly) ‘it was no easy task for her to make a good marriage; there were consequences ... but with her cleverness, everything is possible. Go and see her; she’ll be delighted to see you. She’s prettier than ever.’

Meidanov gave me Zina´da’s address. She was staying at the Hotel Demut. Old memories were astir within me.... I determined next day to go to see my former ‘flame.’ But some business happened to turn up; a week passed, and then another, and when at last I went to the Hotel Demut and asked for Madame Dolsky, I learnt that four days before, she had died, almost suddenly, in childbirth.

I felt a sort of stab at my heart. The thought that I might have seen her, and had not seen her, and should never see her — that bitter thought stung me with all the force of overwhelming reproach. ‘She is dead!’ I repeated, staring stupidly at the hall-porter. I slowly made my way back to the street, and walked on without knowing myself where I was going. All the past swam up and rose at once before me. So this was the solution, this was the goal to which that young, ardent, brilliant life had striven, all haste and agitation! I mused on this; I fancied those dear features, those eyes, those curls — in the narrow box, in the damp underground darkness — lying here, not far from me — while I was still alive, and, maybe, a few paces from my father.... I thought all this; I strained my imagination, and yet all the while the lines:

‘From lips indifferent of her death I heard,
Indifferently I listened to it, too,’

were echoing in my heart. O youth, youth! little dost thou care for anything; thou art master, as it were, of all the treasures of the universe — even sorrow gives thee pleasure, even grief thou canst turn to thy profit; thou art self-confident and insolent; thou sayest, ‘I alone am living — look you!’— but thy days fly by all the while, and vanish without trace or reckoning; and everything in thee vanishes, like wax in the sun, like snow.... And, perhaps, the whole secret of thy charm lies, not in being able to do anything, but in being able to think thou wilt do anything; lies just in thy throwing to the winds, forces which thou couldst not make other use of; in each of us gravely regarding himself as a prodigal, gravely supposing that he is justified in saying, ‘Oh, what might I not have done if I had not wasted my time!’

I, now ... what did I hope for, what did I expect, what rich future did I foresee, when the phantom of my first love, rising up for an instant, barely called forth one sigh, one mournful sentiment?

And what has come to pass of all I hoped for? And now, when the shades of evening begin to steal over my life, what have I left fresher, more precious, than the memories of the storm — so soon over — of early morning, of spring?

But I do myself injustice. Even then, in those light-hearted young days, I was not deaf to the voice of sorrow, when it called upon me, to the solemn strains floating to me from beyond the tomb. I remember, a few days after I heard of Zina´da’s death, I was present, through a peculiar, irresistible impulse, at the death of a poor old woman who lived in the same house as we. Covered with rags, lying on hard boards, with a sack under her head, she died hardly and painfully. Her whole life had been passed in the bitter struggle with daily want; she had known no joy, had not tasted the honey of happiness. One would have thought, surely she would rejoice at death, at her deliverance, her rest. But yet, as long as her decrepit body held out, as long as her breast still heaved in agony under the icy hand weighing upon it, until her last forces left her, the old woman crossed herself, and kept whispering, ‘Lord, forgive my sins’; and only with the last spark of consciousness, vanished from her eyes the look of fear, of horror of the end. And I remember that then, by the death-bed of that poor old woman, I felt aghast for Zina´da, and longed to pray for her, for my father — and for myself.

1860

 

 

 

       客人们早已散去。时钟敲过了十二点半。只有主人、谢尔盖•尼古拉耶维奇和弗拉基米尔•彼得罗维奇还在屋子里。主人按了一下铃,吩咐收拾晚饭的残杯冷炙。
                
       “那么这件事就决定了,”他低声说着,更深地埋入圈椅里,并把雪茄点上火抽了起来,“我们每个人都得讲讲自己初恋的故事。您先讲,谢尔盖•尼古拉耶维奇。”
                
       谢尔盖•尼古拉耶维奇是个身体圆圆的小胖子,脸颊丰满,一头淡黄色头发,他先瞅了一下主人,接着抬起眼来望着天花板。
                
       “我没有初恋过,”末了他说,“我是直接从第二次开始的。”
                
       “这是怎么回事?”
                
       “非常平淡无奇。我头一次追求一个很可爱的小姐时,已经十八岁了,我向她献殷勤的情况同我后来向别的女人献殷勤时一样,仿佛我早已是情场老手了。说实在的,我六岁时就爱上了我的保姆,这是我的初恋,敢是最后一次恋爱,但这已经是很久以前的事了——我们之间关系的详细情节我都不记得了,即使我还记得,可谁会对此感兴趣呢?”
                
       “那么怎么办呢?”主人开腔了,“我的初恋也没有很多引人入胜的内容:在跟我现在的妻子安娜•伊凡诺夫娜认识以前,我没有爱过谁,——我们的恋爱非常顺利:亲事是由双方父亲提出的,我们很快相爱了,并且毫不拖延地结了婚。我的恋爱故事三言两语就可以讲完了。先生们,说真的,我出的这个谈谈初恋的题目,是指望你们来回答的,你们不能算老翁,但也不是年轻的单身汉了;或许您能给我们讲些什么有趣的,弗拉基米尔•彼得罗维奇?”
                
       “我的初恋确实不很平凡,”弗拉基米尔•彼得罗维奇讷讷地说,他这人四十岁光景,黑头发里已经出现了霜鬓。
                
       “啊!”主人和谢尔盖•尼古拉耶维奇异口同声地说。“那就更好……请您讲吧。”
                
       “好吧……不过,我并不想讲,因为我不是讲故事的能手,我会讲得枯燥乏味、过于简略,或者是冗长烦琐、很不自然。
                
       假如你们允许的话,我把我所记得的全部情况都写在笔记本里,然后念给你们听。”
                
       朋友们起先都不同意,可是弗拉基米尔•彼得罗维奇却固执己见。两星期后他们又聚在一起了,于是弗拉基米尔•彼得罗维奇履行了自己的诺言。
                
       下面就是他写在笔记本里的故事:

                
       一


       当时我已经十六岁了。事情发生在一八三三年夏天。
                
       我与父母同住在莫斯科。他们在卡鲁日门附近的涅斯库奇内公园对面租了一座别墅。我准备考大学,可我不很用功,还是优哉游哉过日子。
                
       谁也不管束我。我想做什么就做什么,尤其是我的最后一个法国家庭教师离去以后,他一想到自己竟会像颗炸弹似的贸然闯进了俄国,心里总是很难过,整天价脸上露出怨恨的神色躺在床上。父亲对待我很亲切,但并不关心;母亲对我几乎毫不过问,虽然她只有我这么一个孩子,因为其他要操心的事太多,把她吞没了。我父亲还很年轻,而且风度翩翩、十分英俊,只是为了经济利益才跟母亲结了婚;她比他大十岁。我母亲过着痛苦的日子:她经常激动、妒忌、生气——不过那是在父亲不在场的时候,她很怕他,他严厉、冷淡、难以接近……我没有见过比他更镇定自若、更自信和专横的人了。
                
       我永远忘不了我在别墅里度过的头几个星期。天气非常好;我们是五月九日,即圣•尼古拉节那一天从城里搬来的。
                
       我常常散步——有时在我们别墅的花园里,有时在涅斯库奇内公园里,有时在郊外;我随身带着一本书,例如,卡依达诺夫的历史教科书,但难得把它打开;而更多的是朗诵诗歌,我背熟了好多首诗;血在我体内翻腾着,我的心发闷——
                
       闷得甜滋滋的,真是滑稽可笑;我总是期待着,又似乎有所畏惧,对一切都惊讶不已,并且作好了准备;我浮想联翩,我的想象力环绕着一些同样的形象驰骋着,就象黎明时雨燕绕着钟楼盘旋一样;我时常陷入沉思,心里发愁,甚至哭了;可是在那有时被悦耳动听的诗句、有时被黄昏的美景激起的我的眼泪和忧伤中,我那开始沸腾的青春的欢乐心情,却像春天的小草那样破土而出了。
                
       我有一匹坐骑。我常常亲自给它套上鞍子,骑着它独个儿到一个较远的地方去,我纵马驰骋,自以为是个比武的骑士(风在我的耳边号叫得多么欢快!),或者翘首仰望天空,把那明媚的阳光和蓝天摄入了打开着的心灵。
                
       我记得,女人的形象、以对女性的爱情的幻想,那时几乎还从来没有以一定的模式在我的脑海里出现过。但是一种对新奇的、难以形容的甜蜜的女性特征……似懂非懂的、羞涩的预感却潜藏在我所想过的和我所感觉到的一切之中了。
                
       这种预感、这种期待渗透了我的身心;我呼吸它,让它在我的血管里,在每一滴血液里翻腾着……它注定很快就会实现的。
                
       我们的别墅是某个贵族地主的一所有圆柱的木房子,两边有低矮的小厢房。左边小厢房是一家制造廉价糊壁纸的小工场,我到那儿去看过不止一次了。十来个瘦弱的、头发蓬乱、穿着油迹斑斑的长褂、面容枯黄的男孩不时地跳到木杠杆上去压一部印刷机的矩形板,就这样,他们用自己瘦小的躯体的重量压印出糊壁纸上各种各样的花纹。右边小厢房空关着,准备出租。有一天——五月九日那一天以后又过了约莫三个星期——这间小厢房的百叶窗忽然全都打开了,窗口出现了女人们的脸蛋——有一户人家搬进来了。我记得当天吃午饭的时候,母亲问管家,我们的新邻居是何等样人,一听到是个姓扎谢金的公爵夫人,母亲开头不无一些敬意地低声说:“啊!公爵夫人……”接着补了一句:“大概是个穷夫人吧。”
                
       “坐三辆出租马车来的,”管家恭敬地端上菜盘时说,“他们没有自备马车,家具也极简单。”
                
       “是呀,”母亲答道,“不过有个邻居到底好些。”
                
       父亲冷冷地瞥了她一眼,她不作声了。
                
       的确,扎谢金娜公爵夫人不可能是个有钱的女人,因为她所租赁的那间小厢房是那么破旧,又小又矮,稍微有些钱的人都不愿意住这样的房子。不过我当时把这些话当作耳边风,并不在意。公爵的封号对我不起什么作用,因为不久前我读过席勒的作品《强盗》。               
      


        二

       我有一个习惯:每当傍晚时分,我就带着一支猎枪在我们的花园里转悠,守候着乌鸦。我从来就痛恨这些鬼鬼祟祟的、又贪婪又狡猾的鸟类。在上述的那一天,我又到花园里去了,走遍了所有的小径,却一无所获(乌鸦认出了我,老远就断断续续地呱呱叫起来),我偶然走近了那道把我们的花园跟附属于右边小厢房的那个狭长的园子隔开的低矮的栅栏。我埋头走着。突然间我听到一阵说话声;我隔着栅栏一眼望去,不禁愣住了……一片令人纳闷的景象呈现在我的面前。
                
       离我约有几步路远的草地上,在那翠绿的木莓丛中站着一个亭亭玉立、婀娜多姿的高个儿少女,她穿着一件带条子的粉红色衣服,头上包着一块白头巾;有四个年轻人紧紧地围住了她,她拿了一些灰色的小花朵轮流地打他们的前额,我叫不出这些花的名称,但是孩子们都非常熟悉它们:这些小花朵的形状像一只只小袋子,它们打在坚硬的东西上,就会啪的一声碎裂的。
                
       那几个年轻人都那么乐于把他们的前额迎上去——这个少女的动作(我只看见她的侧面)是那么迷人,带着命令的意味,含有亲切、嘲弄,但又十分可爱的成分,我又惊又喜,险些儿叫了起来,我觉得只要这些美丽的指头也来揍我的前额,我愿意立刻放弃人世间的一切。我的枪掉到草地上了。我忘却了一切,目不转睛地望着那苗条的身材、那颈脖和美丽的双手、那白头巾下面有点儿蓬乱的淡黄色头发、那双半张半闭的聪慧的眼睛和睫毛,以及睫毛下面那娇嫩的脸颊……
                
       “年轻人啊,年轻人,”忽然我身旁有人说起话来,“难道可以这样凝望陌生的小姐吗?”
                
       我不禁全身一震,发呆了……有个黑头发剪得短短的男人站在栅栏那边,离我很近,他以嘲讽的目光望着我。这当儿那位少女出向我转过脸来……我在一张活泼的、神采焕发的脸上看见了一双灰色的大眼睛——整个面孔忽然颤动了一下,笑了起来,洁白牙齿闪闪发光,两条眉毛挺有趣地往上一扬……我满脸通红,从地上拾起了猎枪,在一阵响亮的,但无恶意的哄笑声中逃回到自己的屋里,我扑倒在床上,用双手捂住了脸。我的心跳得那么厉害;我觉得害臊,但又很快乐:从来没有这样激动过。
                
       休息一会儿之后,我梳理了头发,把衣服整理了一下,就下楼喝茶去了。那个年轻少女的形象在我眼前掠过,我的心不再狂跳了,但不知怎么的却令人愉快地揪紧着。
                
       “你怎么啦?”父亲突然问我。“打着乌鸦了吗?”
                
       我本想把一切都告诉他,但话到嘴边就缩住了,我只暗自笑了笑。上床睡觉时,我自己也不知道为什么用一只脚支撑着,转体两三回,然后抹上发油,就躺下了——整整一夜睡得像死人一般。天亮前我醒了一会儿,稍微抬起了头,兴高采烈地望了望四周,又睡着了。

                
      
        三

       “怎样跟他们结识呢?”这是我早晨一觉醒来后的第一个念头;在喝茶前,我到花园里去了,但并没有太靠近那道栅栏,也没有看见一个人,喝过茶后,我几次走过别墅前面的那条街——远远地望着窗子……我觉得她的脸仿佛就躲在窗帘后面,我惊慌地赶快走开了。“不过我该跟她认识一下,”我边想,边在涅斯库奇内公园前面的一片沙地上心绪不宁地走来走去。“可是用什么方式呢?问题就在这里。”我想起了昨天相遇时的一些最微末的的细节:我不知为什么特别清楚地记起了她对我一笑的情景……可是,当我正在焦躁不安,想尽各种办法的时候,命运却来帮助我了。
                
       我不在家的时候,母亲收到了她的新邻居送来的一封写在灰纸上的信,信是用棕色火漆封口的,这种火漆印是只盖在邮局通知书上和廉价酒的瓶塞上的。这封信写得文理不通、字迹潦草。公爵夫人在信上恳求母亲给予帮助:用公爵夫人的话说,我母亲跟一些有势力的大人物很熟悉,而她的命运和她孩子们的命运都掌握在这些人的手中,因为她正在打一桩非常重要的官司。“我请全(求)您,”她写道,“就像一个贵妇人请全(求)另一个贵妇人那样,同时我也很高新(兴)能利用这个机会。”在信的结尾,她希望母亲允许她来拜访。我正好碰上母亲心绪不佳的当口儿:父亲不在家,她没有一个可以商量的人。对“一个贵妇人,”而且还是个公爵夫人的来信是不能置之不理的,可是回信怎样写呢——母亲却不知所措。她觉得用法文写回信不合适,而俄文正字法又非她所长——她知道这个弱点,不愿意让自己丢脸。看见我回来了,她很高兴,立刻就叫我去拜访公爵夫人,向她口头说明,母亲随时愿意为公爵夫人尽力效劳,请她在中午十二点到一点之间光临敝舍。我内心的愿望突然能够很快实现了,这使我惊喜交集;可我没有露出窘迫不安的心情——我先到自己的屋子里去,系上新的领结,穿上常礼服。我在家里还穿着短上衣、翻领衫,虽然我已经觉得很不舒服了。
                
      


      四

       我走进了窄小、肮脏的厢房前室,情不自禁地浑身发颤。
                
       一个头发灰白的老仆人接待了我,他有着一张古铜色的脸膛儿,一对忧郁的猪眼睛,额上和鬃角上都布满了我一生中还从未见过的那么深的皱纹。他手托一个只剩腓鱼脊骨的菜盘,用脚掩上了通向另一间屋子的门,断断续续地说:
                
       “您有什么事?”
                
       “扎谢金娜公爵夫人在家吗?”我问道。
                
       “沃尼法季!”一个女人的发抖的声音在门后叫了起来。
                
       老仆人默默地转过身去,背朝着我,他那件号衣磨损得很厉害的后背露了出来,号衣上只孤零零地剩下了一颗褪成了红褐色的带纹章的钮扣,他把盘子放在地板上就走了。
                
       “你去过警察分局吗?”还是那个女人的声音问道。老仆人含糊地说着什么。“啊?……谁来了?”又是那个女人的声音。“邻居的少爷!好,请他进来。”“请到客厅里去,”老仆人说道,他又出现在我前面,并把盘子从地板上拿了起来。
                
       我整了整衣服,走进了“客厅”。
                
       我不知不觉地来到了一间不十分整洁的小屋子,家具简陋,仿佛布置得很匆促。靠窗那张一只扶手已经损坏的圈椅里坐着一个五十来岁的坶妇人,她没有戴头巾,相貌不扬,身上穿的是一件绿色的旧连衫裙,脖子上围着一条毛线花围巾。
                
       她她那双不算大的黑眼睛一直盯着我。
                
       我走到她跟前,向她行了礼。
                
       “我可以跟扎谢金娜公爵夫人谈几句话吗?”
                
       “我就是扎谢金娜公爵夫人;您就是彼得先生的公子吗?”
                
       “是的。我母亲叫我来拜访您的。”
                
       “请坐。沃尼法季!我的钥匙在哪儿,你看见过吗?”
                
       我把母亲对她来信的答复告诉了扎谢金娜公爵夫人。她一边听我说话,一边用她那粗大发红的手指敲着窗框,等我说完了话,她又目不转睛地凝视着我。
                
       “很好,我一定去,”末了她低声说。“您真年轻!请问您几岁?”
                
       “十六岁。”我不由得讷讷地答道。
                
       公爵夫人从口袋里掏出几张写满了字的、油污斑斑的纸,接着拿到鼻子前面翻阅起来。
                
       “多好的年华,”她忽然说,并在圈椅里转动着身子,坐不安定了。“请别客气,我这儿很随便。”
                
       “太随便了,”我心想,不由是厌恶地打量着她那整个丑陋的体态。
                
       这当儿客厅的另一扇门倏地打开了,在门坎上出现了昨天我在花园里见过的那个少女。她举起了一只手,脸上掠过了一丝讪笑。
                
       “这是我的女儿,”公爵夫人用胳膊肘指指她,低声说。
                
       “齐诺奇卡,这位就是我们邻居彼得先生的少爷,请问您的大名?”
                
       “弗拉基米尔,”我激动得结结巴巴地答道,一边站了起来。
                
       “那么您的父称呢?”
                
       “彼得罗维奇。”
                
       “对了。我认识的一位警察局长也叫弗拉基米尔•彼得罗维奇•沃尼法季!别找钥匙了!钥匙就在我的口袋里。”
                
       那位年轻的小姐带着刚才的笑容,微微眯缝起眼睛,头稍微侧向一边继续望着我。
                
       我已经见到过monsieur{法语“先生”}沃尔杰马尔,”她开腔了(她那银铃般的嗓音像一股令人愉快的冷气在我身上掠过),“我可以这们称呼您吗?”
                
       “当然可以,小姐,”我嘟嘟囔囔地说。
                
       “在哪里见到的?”公爵夫人问。
                
       公爵小姐没有回答她的母亲。
                
       “现在您有事吗?”她低声说,一边目不转睛地望着我。
                
       “没有什么事。”
                
       “您愿意帮我绕毛线吗?到我这儿来。”
                
       她向我点了点头,从客厅里走了出去。我也跟着她走了。
                
       在我们走进去的那个房间里,家具稍微讲究些,布置得也比较雅致。可是这当儿我几乎什么也没有能够注意到:我像在梦里一样走着,觉得浑身充满了一种莫名其妙的紧张的幸福感。
                
       公爵小姐坐下了,拿出一绞红色毛线,向我指了指她对面的一张椅子,一个劲儿地把这绞毛线拆开,套在我的两手上。她默默地做着这一切。动作缓慢得滑稽可笑,在那微微张开的嘴边仍然挂着快乐而狡黠的微笑。她开始把毛线绕在一张对折的纸板上,忽然以明亮而迅速了的目光向我瞥了一下,使我不由得埋下了眼睛。当她那对常常半张半闭的眼睛睁得很大的时候,她的脸完全变样了:脸上好像焕发出了光彩。
                
       “昨在天您对我有什么想法,mosieur,沃尔杰马尔?”过了一会儿,她问我。“您大概指摘我了吧?”
                
       “我……公爵小姐……我什么想法也没有,我怎么能……”我窘迫不安地答道。
                
       “听我说,”她不以为然地说道,“您还不了解,我是个非常古怪的人;我希望人家对我永远说真话。我听说您才十六岁,可我二十一岁了:您看,我的年纪比您大得多,所以您应该永远对我说真话……要听我的话,”她补了一句。“您看看我,您为什么不看我?”
                
       我更困窘不堪,可我抬起眼来看她了。她微微一笑,只不过不是先前那种笑容,而是另一种表示赞许的微笑。
                
       “您看看我,”她低声说,温柔地压低了嗓音,“我不讨厌人家看我。您的脸挺讨我喜欢,我预感到我们会成为朋友的。
                
       您喜欢我吗?”她狡猾地补了一句。
                
       “公爵小姐……”我本想开口了。
                
       “第一,请叫我齐娜依达•亚历山德罗夫娜;第二,小孩子(她作了纠正)——年轻人不把他们心里想的直截了当地说出来,这算什么习惯呢?大人才可以这样。您究竟喜欢我不?”
                
       虽然我觉得很高兴,她跟我说话那么坦率,可我却觉得有点儿委屈。我想让她知道,眼她打交道的不是一个男孩子,我尽力装出一副很随便的、严肃的神态,低声说:
                
       “当然罗,我很喜欢您,齐娜依达•亚历山德罗夫娜,我不想隐瞒这一点。”
                
       她的头慢慢地摇了几下。
                
       “您有家庭教师吗?”她忽然问道。
                
       “没有,我早已没有家庭教师了。”
                
       我扯了谎,我跟我的法国教师分手还不满一个月哩。
                
       “哦!我明白,您完全是个大人了。”
                
       她轻轻地敲了一下我的指头。“把两手伸直!”她勤快地把毛线绕成了一个球。
                
       我趁她还没有抬起眼来,就仔细地打量着她,开头是偷偷地看,后来越来越胆大了。我觉得她的脸比昨天更妩媚了。
                
       她脸上的一切都显得那么清秀、那么聪慧、那么可爱。她背朝着一扇挂着白窗帘的窗子坐着,阳光透过窗帘照射进来,一抹柔和的阳光照在她那非常轻软蓬松的金发上,也照在她那冰肌玉骨的颈脖上、她那微微倾斜的两肩上和那酥软平静的胸脯上。我望着她——她对我来说是多么珍贵、多么亲近呀!
                
       我觉得我早已认识她了,而且在我认识她以前,我简直什么也不懂,没有真正地生活过……她穿着一件深色的、已经穿旧了的连衫裙,围一条围裙,我觉得似乎我乐于抚摸这件连衫裙和这条围裙的每一个皱褶。她的鞋尖露在她的连衫裙外面,我真想倒在这双鞋子跟前……“此刻我坐在她对面,”我心想,“我跟她相识了……多么幸福呀,天哪!”我高兴得几乎要从椅子上直蹦起来,可我的脚只稍微摆动了几下,就象一个吃着美味可口的东西的孩子一样。
                
       我快乐得如鱼得水,但愿一辈子也不离开这个房间,不离开这个坐位。
                
       她的眼皮慢慢地抬了起来,她那双明亮的眼睛又对着我闪出了温柔的光辉,她又莞尔一笑。
                
       “您怎么这样瞅我,”她慢条斯理地说,并用指头点了点威吓我。
                
       我不觉脸红了……“她什么都明白,她什么都看得见,”这个念头在我的脑海里闪了一下。“然而这一切她怎么会不知道,怎么会看不见呢!”
                
       隔壁房间里忽然发出一阵什么声音——一阵马刀的铿锵声。
                
       “齐娜!”公爵夫人在客厅里喊叫起来。“别洛夫佐罗夫给你弄来了一只小猫。”
                
       “小猫!”齐娜依达扬声叫道,从椅子上霍地站了起来,把毛线团丢在我的膝盖上,就跑出去了。
                
       我也站了起来,把一绞毛线和毛线团放在窗台上,随即走进了客厅,可我困惑地站住了:一只花斑猫张开着爪子,躺在屋子中央,齐娜依达跪在它前面,小心翼翼地把它的小脸抬起来,公爵夫人身旁站着一个有一头淡黄色鬈发的年轻骑兵,他的脸红喷喷的,两腿向外微凸,他几乎遮没了整个窗户间的墙壁。
                
       “多么逗趣儿呀!”齐娜依达连声说了几遍,“它的眼睛不是灰色的,而是绿色的,耳朵好大呀!谢谢您,维克多•叶戈雷奇!您真好。”
                
       骠骑兵微微一笑,鞠了个躬,同时把马刺咔嚓一声碰响了,马刀的链子也丁当了一下。我认出了,他就是昨天傍晚我见到过的那些年轻人当中的一个。
                
       “您昨天不是说过,您想要一只大耳朵的花斑猫……瞧,我弄来了。您的话就是法律呗。”他又鞠了个躬。
                
       小猫有气无力地叫了一声,就嗅起地板来了。
                
       “它饿了!”齐娜依达扬声说道。“沃尼法季、索尼娅!拿牛奶来。”
                
       一个穿着旧的黄色连衫裙、脖子上系着一条褪了色的围巾的女仆端着一小碟牛奶走进来了,她把年奶放在那只小猫跟前。小猫哆嗦了一下,眯缝起眼睛,舔了起来。
                
       “它的舌头多么红呀,”齐娜依达说着,几乎把头俯到了地板上,从侧面去看小猫鼻子底下的那根舌头。
                
       小猫吃饱了就哼哼起来,还装腔作势地张开爪子。齐娜依达站了起来,转身向女仆冷静地说:
                
       “把它带走。”
                
       “为着这只小猫,请把您的一只手伸给我,”骠骑兵说,他咧嘴笑着,并扭动了一下他那紧紧地裹在新的制服里的强壮的躯体。
                
       “给您两只手,”齐娜依达不以为然地说,随即把手向他伸了过去。他吻着她的双手,这当儿她的目光穿过他的肩头投向了我!
       我木然站在原地,不知道我应该笑呢,还是应该说些什么话,或者就这样默不作声。忽然我的家仆费多尔的身影穿过前室开着的门,映入了我的眼帘。他向我做着手势。我不由自主地向他走去。
                
       “你来干什么?”我问道。
                
       “您母亲让我来叫您回去,”他悄悄地说。“您没有带回话回家,她很生气。”
                
       “难道我在这儿已经待了很久了吗?”
                
       “一个多小时了。”
                
       “一个多小时了!”我不由得复述了一遍,就回到了客厅,我恭敬地行了礼,碰了一下脚跟告辞了。
                
       “您上哪儿去?”公爵小姐隔着骠骑兵向我了瞥了一眼,问道。
                
       “我要回家了。我得禀告家母,”我转脸向那位那老妇人补了一句,“说您一点多钟光临敝舍。”
                
       “少爷,您就这样说吧。”
                
       公爵夫人连忙拿出鼻烟盒,大声地嗅了起来,我甚至为此全身一震。
                
       “您就这样说吧,”她又说了一遍,眼泪汪汪地眨巴着眼睛,嘴里还哼哼着。
                
       我又鞠了个躬,就转身走出房间,背上有一种不自在的感觉,年纪很轻的人知道有人在背后望着他时,都会有这种感觉的。
                
       “喂,mosieur,沃尔杰马尔,请常来看我们,”齐娜依达大声说道,又纵声大笑起来。
                
       “她为什么老是笑呢?”我心里想着,在费多尔的陪同下回家去了。费多尔没有对我说过一句话,只是带着不以为然的神情跟在我后面。母亲责骂了我,她觉得很奇怪:我在公爵夫人家里能待这么久,到底在干什么呢?我什么也没有回答她,就到自己的屋里去了。我忽然变得很伤心……,我竭力忍住,不哭出来……我妒忌那个骡骑兵!
                
      


       五

       公爵夫人如约来拜访我的母亲,母亲对她没有好感。她们会见时我没有在场,但是在吃饭时母亲告诉父亲说,她觉得这个扎谢金娜公爵夫人似乎是une femme trŔs vulgaire;并说她十分厌烦,因为夫人恳求她在谢尔盖公爵面前为自己说情;又说夫人总是跟别人打官司,闹纠纷——为de vilaines affaires d’argent②;还说她一定是个非常爱挑拨是非的女人。不过母亲补了一句,说她已邀请了她和她的女儿明天来吃饭(一听到“和她的女儿”这句话,我就两眼直盯着盘子埋头吃饭。因为她到底是邻居,而且是有名望的家庭。
                
       听了这些话,父亲就对母亲说,他现在记起来这是个什么样的夫人了;并说他在青年时代就认识了已故的扎谢金公爵,他受过良好的教育,但却是个毫无作为、荒唐无用的人;又说在社交界人们管他叫“le Parisien”,因为他在巴黎住了很久;他很有钱,但他把全部财产都输光了;“不知为什么,大概是为了金钱,——不过这倒没关系。你好像对我说过,你也邀请了她的女儿;有人对我说,她是个很可爱的、有教养的小姐。”
                
       “啊!那么她不象她的母亲。”
                
       “也不象她的父亲,”父亲说,“公爵虽然也受过良好教育,但却很愚蠢。”
                
       母亲叹了口气,沉思起来。父亲也不作声了。他们谈这些话时,我觉得很不自在。
                
       饭后,我到花园里去了,不过没有带枪。我立誓决不再走近“扎谢金家的花园”,可是一种不可抗拒的力量却诱使我又向那儿走去,这次没有白来。我还没有走到栅栏跟前,就看见了齐娜依达。这会儿只有她一个人。她手里捧着一本书,沿着小径缓步走着。她没有发觉我。
                
       我几乎让她走过去了;可我忽然想出了一个主意,咳嗽了一声。
                
       她掉转头来了,但没有站住,一只手挪开了圆草帽上一条宽阔的浅蓝色的带子,她看了我一眼,淡淡地一笑,又凝眸看起书来了。
                
       我摘下了制帽,在原地稍稍犹豫了一阵,就心情沉重地走开了。“Que suis-je pour elle?”我在心里(天晓得为什么)用法语想着。
                
       一阵熟悉的脚步声在我身后响了起来:我回头一看——
                
       父亲迈着轻快的步了朝我走来。
                
       “这位就是公爵小姐吗”他问我。
                
       “是公爵小姐。”
                
       “难道你认识她?”
                
       “今天早晨我在公爵夫人那儿见到过她。”
                
       父亲站住了,用脚跟急剧地转过身去,往回走了。当他赶上了齐娜依达,跟她并肩行走时,他彬彬有礼地向她鞠了躬。她也向他行了礼,脸上不无一些惊讶的神色,并把书放下了。我看见她一直目送着我父亲。我父亲一向穿得很讲究——别具一格而且很大方;可是他的身材在我看来从来没有比今天更匀称,他那顶灰色呢帽戴在他那已经有点儿稀疏的鬈发上也从来没有比今天更合适、更漂亮。
                
       我本想走到齐娜依达跟前去,可她连瞧也不瞧我一眼,又捧起书本走开了。

                
       六


       这天的整个晚上和第二天早晨我都是在精神沮丧的麻木状态中度过的。我记得我打算用功读书了,开始看卡依达诺夫的教科书,这本著名的教科书那排得很稀疏的每一页、每一行字只是白白地在我眼前闪过,“恺撒以作战勇敢著称”这一句我接连念了十遍,可我却一点儿也不懂得这句话的意思,于是就把书放下了。吃饭前,我又在头发上抹了油,再穿上常礼服,系上了领结。
                
       “这是为什么?”母亲问道。“你还不是一个大学生呢,天晓得,你能不能考取?不是早已给你做了一件短上衣吗?可别把它丢在一边。”
                
       “有客人要来,”我几乎失望地嘟哝着。
                
       “真是胡说八道!这是些什么客人!”
                
       我只好服从。于是脱去常礼服,换上了短上衣,但没有拿下领结。在午饭前半小时,公爵夫人带着女儿来了;这位老妇人在我已经见过的那个绿色连衫裙外面披上了一条黄色披巾,戴了一顶饰着火红色带子的旧式帽子。她马上就谈起自己的期票来了,还唉声叹气,抱怨着自己的贫穷,并且“苦苦哀求”,但一点儿也不觉得害羞:她仍然不拘小节地大声嗅着鼻烟盒,还是那么随便地在椅子上转来转去,坐不安定。她似乎没有想到自己是个公爵夫人。可是齐娜依达的举止却很严肃,几乎很傲慢,十足是个公爵小姐的派头。她脸上露出了冷若冰霜、庄重自尊的神情——我都不认识她了,觉得她的目光、她的笑容都很陌生,虽然她以新的姿态出现,在我看来还是非常妩媚动人的。她身上穿一件透明的、带淡蓝色花纹的薄纱连衫裙;她的头发照英国的式样梳成了一绺绺长卷儿,沿着两颊往下垂着:这种发式跟她那冷若冰霜的神情倒是很相称的。吃饭时,我父亲就坐在她旁边,并以他所特有的大方而镇静的、彬彬有礼的态度招待着自己的邻居。他有时瞅她几下——她也不时地望望他,但目光那么古怪、几乎含有敌意。他们用法语交谈着;我记得,齐娜依达的纯正发音简直使我感到惊讶。公爵夫人在用餐时仍然无拘无束,大吃大喝,盛赞菜肴的鲜美可口。母亲显然对她厌烦透了,带着一种郁闷而轻蔑的态度应付着她;父亲有时稍微皱几下眉头。母亲对齐娜依达也没有好感。
                
       “这是个多么傲慢的女人,”第二天她说。“请想一想——
                
       她有什么可骄傲的——avec sa mine de grisette。”“你大概没有见过格里泽吧,”父亲对她说。
                
       “那要谢天谢地!”
                
       “当然要谢天谢地……不过你怎么可能给她们下断语呢?”
                
       齐娜依达压根儿不理我。饭后不久公爵夫人就告辞了。
                
       “我希望能得到你们的大力帮助,玛丽娅•尼古拉耶夫娜和彼得•瓦西里耶维奇,”她拖长着声调对我父母说。“又有什么办法呢!好日子是有过的,但是已经过去了。虽然我是个公爵夫人,”她带着不愉快的笑声补了一句,“如果没有吃的,爵位又有什么用!”
                
       父亲毕恭毕敬地向她行了礼,送她到前室门口。我穿着自己那件太短的上衣站在那里,眼睛望着地板,仿佛是个被判处死刑的囚犯。齐娜依达不理我,使我十分沮丧。但我大吃一惊的是当她打我身边走过时,眼睛里流露出以前那种亲切的神情,并急促地对我低声说:
                
       “八点钟请到我们那儿去,听见没有,一定要……”我只是把两手一摊,而她把白头巾披在头上,走了。

、                
       七


       八点正我穿上了常礼服,把额上的头发梳得高耸一些,然后走进了公爵夫人所住的那间小厢房的前室。那个老仆人脸色阴沉地瞥了我一下。不情愿地从长凳上站起来。客厅里响起了一阵阵欢笑声。我推开了门,不禁惊讶得向后倒退了几步。公爵小姐站在房间中央的一张椅子上,脸前拿着一顶男人的帽子;椅子周围簇拥着五个男人。他们都力图把手伸进帽子里去。可她把帽子往上举起,并且用力抖动着。看见了我,她大声叫道:
       “你们等一等,等一等!来了一位新客人,应该也给他一张纸片,”她轻盈地从椅子上跳了下来,一把拉住了我那件常礼服的翻袖口。“走吧,”她说,“您干吗站着?
       Messieurs,让我给你们介绍一下:这位是monsieur沃尔杰马尔,我们邻居的少爷。而这位,”她向我转过脸来,补充说,并依次指着客人们,“——马列夫斯基伯爵、卢申医生、诗人马依达诺夫、退伍上尉尼尔马茨基、骠骑兵别洛夫佐罗夫,您已经见过他了。请多多关照。”
       我怪难为情的,甚至没有向任何人点头行礼,我认出了卢申医生就是那位肤色黝黑、一头黑发,曾经在花园里使我十分难堪的先生;其余的人我都不认识。
       “伯爵!”齐娜依达继续往下说,“请你给monsieur”沃尔杰马尔写一张纸片。”
       “这不公平,”伯爵带着轻微的波兰口音表示异议,这是个衣着讲究、一头黑发的美男子,有一双富于表情的深棕色眼睛,一根细长而白皙的鼻子,那张小嘴上面留着一撮修得很整齐的小胡髭,“他还没有跟我们玩过方特游戏②呢。”
       “不公平,”别洛夫佐罗夫和另一位先生也这么说,这位被称为退伍上尉的先生是一个四十来岁的人,一脸大麻子,头发鬈曲得像黑人,背有点儿驼,罗圈腿,穿着一件钮扣松开、不带肩章的军服。
       “请写一张纸片,我在跟您说话,”公爵小姐又说了一遍。
       “干吗反对?
       monsieur沃尔杰马尔跟我们还是第一次玩游戏,今天他不必尊守规则。用不着发牢骚,写吧,我要求这样做。”
       伯爵耸了耸肩,但是顺从地低下了头,那只戴着几只嵌宝戒指的白皙的手拿起了钢笔,扯下了一小张纸片,并在上面写了起来。
       “至少要让我们向沃尔杰马尔先生说明一下是怎么回事,”卢申用嘲笑的口吻开腔了,“要不然,他会完全张皇失措的……要知道,年轻人,我们在玩方特游戏呢;公爵小姐受罚了,凡抽到幸福纸片的人,就有权利吻她的手。我跟您说了话,您懂吗?”
       我只瞥了他一眼,仍然莫名其妙地站在那里;可是公爵小姐又跳到椅子上去了,又把帽子抖动起来。大家向她探过身去,我也跟在他们后面。
       “马依达诺夫,”公爵小姐对一个高个子的年轻人说,他的脸儿瘦瘦的,有一双盲人般的小眼睛,乌黑的头发长得出奇,“您是一个诗人,应当豁达大度些,把您的纸片让给mon#sieur沃尔杰马尔,让他能够得到两次机会。”但马依达诺夫拒绝了,他摇了摇了头,把头发扬了起来。
       我继众人之后也把手伸到帽子里,拿了一张纸片,就把它打开了……天哪,当我看到上面写着“接吻”两字的时候,真是喜出望外。
       “接吻!”我情不自禁地大声叫道。
       “好啊!他中奖了,”公爵小姐紧接着说。“我多么高兴啊!”
       她从椅子上跳了下来,两眼闪烁着光芒,令人陶醉地瞥了我一眼,我的心不禁怦怦地直跳起来。“您觉得高兴吗?”她问我。
       “我?……”我嘟嘟囔囔地说着。
       “把您的纸片卖给我吧,”别洛夫佐罗夫忽然凑近我的耳朵唐突地说。“我给您一百卢布。”
       我对这位骠骑兵报以愤怒的一瞥,齐娜依达不禁鼓起掌来,而卢申却大声叫嚷:好样儿的!
       “可是,”他继续往下说,“我是司仪,应当让大家遵守一切规则。
                
       Monsieur沃尔杰马尔,您要单腿跪下!是我们的规矩。”
                
       齐娜依达站在我面前,头朝下,微微向一边倾斜着,好像是为了把我看得更清楚些,并庄重地伸给我一只手。我的眼睛发花,模糊不清;我本想单腿跪下,结果两条腿一齐跪下了——我的嘴唇笨拙地吻了下齐娜依达的手指,动作十分不自然,竟让她的指甲轻轻地挠了一下自己的鼻尖。
       “好啊!”卢申叫了起来,一边扶我站起来。
                
       方特游戏继续进行着。齐娜依达让我坐在她身边。不论什么处罚方法她都想得出来!顺便说说,有一次要她扮演一尊“塑像”,她挑中了那个面貌丑陋的尼尔马茨基充当自己的台座,她叫他伏在地上,还要他把脸贴到胸部。哄笑声一刻也没有停止过。我是在一个规规矩矩的贵族家庭里长大的,是一个离群索居、受过严格教育的男孩,这种大声喧闹,不拘礼节的、近乎疯狂的欢乐,这种跟陌生人空前的交往,猛烈地冲击着我的头脑。我简直象喝了酒一样沉醉了。我放声大笑,信口开河,声音比别人更响,边坐在隔壁房间里的老公爵夫人也走出来看我了,她正在那里跟一个从伊维尔斯基门请来的小官吏商量打官司的事。可我却觉得那么幸福,甚至对任何人的嘲笑或白眼,正如常言所说,都满不在乎。齐娜依达对我仍然加以青睐,不让我离开她。在一次受罚中,我得到了跟她并排坐在一起、用同一条丝头巾盖在两人头上的机会:我应当把自己的秘密告诉她。我记得,我们俩的脑袋忽然笼罩在闷热的、半透明的、芬芳的昏暗中,她的眼睛在一片昏暗中亲切而柔和地放射着光芒,张着的嘴唇吐出缕缕热气,她的牙齿露了出来,她的发尖触得我痒痒的,使我浑身发热。我默不作声。她神秘而狡猾地莞尔而笑,末了,她对我悄声说:“喂,怎么样?”可是我只是涨红了脸,笑着,并把脸扭开了,我几乎喘不过气来。方特游戏我们都玩腻了,于是玩起一种绳子游戏来了。天哪!当我呆呆地望着的时候,我的指头挨了她猛烈的一击,我感到多么高兴啊,接着我故意竭力装出一副目瞪口呆的样子,可是她却逗弄我,不再碰我伸到她面前的那一双手!
                
       那天晚上我们还玩了其他游戏!我们也弹钢琴,唱歌,跳舞,扮演一群茨冈流浪汉——让尼尔马茨基装扮成一头熊,叫他喝盐水。马列夫斯基伯爵为我们表演了各种纸牌戏法,最后还表演了打惠斯特②,他把牌洗了一遍,将所有的王牌全都分发到自己手里,为此卢申“荣幸地向他祝贺”。马依达诺夫给我们朗诵了他的长诗《凶手》片断(事情发生在浪漫主义全盛时期),这首长诗他打算用黑色封面印上红色书名出版;我们偷走了从伊维尔斯基门请来的那个小官吏膝上的帽子,叫他跳哥萨克舞来赎;我们叫沃尼法季老头儿戴上妇女的包发帽,而叫公爵小姐戴上男人的帽子……这一切真是不胜枚举。只有别洛夫佐罗夫越来越缩到角落里去了,他紧蹙眉头,一脸怒气……有时他两眼冲血,满脸通红,好像马上就要向我们大家猛冲过来,把我们当作木片四处乱扔;可是公爵小姐不时地瞧着他,点点指头威吓他,于是他又躲到自己的角落里去了。
                
       我们终于胡闹得精疲力尽了。虽然公爵夫人,用她的话来说,非常爱嬉闹,不管怎样叫嚷她都不怕,但是她也感到十分疲乏,想要休息了。夜里十一点多钟开出晚饭;一块不新鲜的干酪,几个用剁碎的火腿做馅儿的冷包子,这些包子我倒觉得比任何酥皮大馅饼都可口;酒只有一瓶,这瓶酒多么奇特:深色的大口瓶,瓶里的酒呈玫瑰色,不过没有人喝酒。我走出厢房时,疲惫和快乐得没有一丝力气;齐娜依达在分手时紧紧地握住了我的手,又莫名其妙地微微一笑。
                
       我觉得有一股沉闷而潮湿的夜的气息向我那热辣辣的脸上扑来;看来,大雷雨就要来临了;乌云逐渐增多,在天空中浮动着,它们那如烟似雾的轮廓明显地改变着。微风在黑魆魆的树林里不安地颤栗,隆隆雷声在遥远的天边某处仿佛在对自己愤怒地发出喃喃怨语。
                
       我从后面台阶偷偷地回到了自己的屋里。我的老仆人睡在地板上,我不得不从他身上跨过去;他醒了,一看见我就说,母亲对我又十分恼火,又要打发他来找我,可是父亲阻止了她。我从来没有不向母亲道声晚安,不让她祝福几句,就躺下睡觉的。可现在没有办法了!
                
       我对老仆人说,我自己会脱衣服睡觉的,我吹灭了蜡烛……可是我并没有脱衣服,也没有上床睡觉。
                
       我坐到一张椅子上,像中了魔法似的坐了很久……我的感觉是那么新奇,那么甜蜜,我坐着,稍微朝四下望望,一动也不动,平稳地呼吸着,只是有时想起了什么,就无声地笑笑;有时想到我堕入了情网,爱的就是她,这就是爱情,我心头不禁发冷了。齐娜依达的脸蛋在黑暗中悄悄地浮现在我的眼前——它浮着,浮着就不动了;她的嘴边还挂着那种莫名其妙的微笑,两眼有点乜斜地、温柔地望着我,目光像在发问、若有所思……就和我跟她分别时那一瞬间的神情一样。
                
       末了,我站了起来,踮着脚走到自己床跟前,小心翼翼地、没有脱衣服就把头倒在枕头上,仿佛害怕剧烈的动作会惊动充满着我心灵的那一切……
                
       我躺下了,但连眼睛也没有闭上。我不久就发觉,我的房间里不断地射进来一道道微弱的反光……我稍微欠起身子,朝窗子瞥了一下,窗框和那神秘而模糊地发白的玻璃都可以清楚地分辨出来。“雷雨,”我心想;好象已经下过了,但它离得很远,所以听不见什么雷声;只是天空中还不断地闪现着不很明亮的、长长的、仿佛有许多枝杈的闪电:与其说它们闪现着,倒不如说它们象垂死的鸟儿的翅膀那样颤抖着、抽搐着。我跳下床来,走到窗前,在那儿一直站到了天亮……
                
       闪电一刻也没有停止过;这是民间所说的一个雀夜。我眺望着那片寂然无声的沙地、那黑沉沉的、占地很广的涅斯库奇内公园,以及远处房屋正面有点儿发黄的墙壁,它们在每次微弱的闪光中仿佛也在颤栗……我望着、望着,无法离开了;这些无声的闪电、这些微弱的电光,好像跟我心中勃发的那无声的、隐秘的激情相呼应。晨光熹微;朝霞象鲜红的鳞片出现了,太阳冉冉升起,闪电显得越来越淡了,越来越短了:
                
       它们颤抖的间隔时间也越来越长了,终于淹没在使万物苏醒而必将到来的白天的阳光中,它们消失了。
                
       我心中的闪电也消失了,我感到极度疲乏,但心绪宁静……可是齐娜依达的形象仍然扬扬得意地在我心上飘荡。不过这个形象本身看来十分平静安泰,它像一只从沼泽草丛中飞出来的天鹅,出类拔萃地离开了它周围的丑恶环境。当我快要睡着的时候,我最后一次同它告别,并且怀着充分信任的崇拜心情拜倒在它的面前……
                
       啊,温柔的感情,和婉的声音,一颗动情的心灵的善良和宁静,那初恋的、令人陶醉的喜悦——你们在哪里啊?你们在那里啊?

                
       八


       第二天早晨我下楼去喝茶的时候,母亲责骂我了,不过没有我预料的那么严厉。她一定要我叙述昨天晚上是怎样度过的。我作了简短的回答,把许多细节都略去了,竭力把一切都说得无可指摘。
                
       “他们到底不是comme il faut的人,”母亲说,“你不必常常上他们那儿去闲荡,你要准备考试,用功一些啦。”
                
       因为我知道母亲关心的是我的功课,她要说的只不过是这么几句话,所以我认为用不着跟她争辩;可是喝完茶之后,父亲挽住了我的胳膊,同我一块儿到花园里去,非要我讲一讲我在扎谢金家看到的一切不可。
                
       父亲对我有一种奇怪的影响——我们的关系也是令人奇怪的。他几乎不过问我的教育,但也从来不伤害我的感情;他尊重我的自由——他对我甚至很客气……如果可以这样形容的话。他只是从来不让我跟他亲近。我爱他,我很钦佩他,我觉得他是男人中的楷模——天哪!要不是我经常感到他的手在推开我,那我会多么热烈地爱他!可是只要他愿意,他只消用一句话或一个动作,几乎一眨眼的工夫就能在我的心灵里唤起对他的无限信任。我曾经打开过心灵——我跟他谈话如同跟一个聪明的朋友,跟一个宽容的教师谈话一样……后来他又突然把我抛在一边——他的手又把我推开了,虽然用亲切而温和的方式,但毕竟把我推开了。
                
       有时他高兴起来——那就会像小孩子似的跟我跑呀跳呀,闹着玩(他喜欢各种剧烈运动);有一次,也只有这么一次!他对我这般温柔,以至我几乎哭了起来……后来他的高兴劲儿和那温柔的神情却消失得无影无踪了,我们之间所发生的一切并不能使我对未来抱有任何希望,对我来说仿佛这一切只是一场梦。有时,我只要一细看他那聪慧、俊秀、快乐的脸……我的心就会颤栗起来,我的全部身心都会向往着他……他仿佛感觉到我心里在想些什么,他会抚慰地随手拍一下我的脸颊——然后或是走开,或是去张罗什么事情,或是又突然冷若冰霜了,那种冷冰冰的态度是他所特有的;而我也立刻心里发紧,冷了下来。他难得对我表示好感,但这决不是我那不言而喻的恳求所激起的,这些爱抚的举动总是突如其来的。后来我细细地想了一下我父亲的性格,我得出了这样一个结论:他对我,对家庭生活都不感兴趣;他另有所爱,并且完全以此为乐。“你能够拿的东西,你就去拿,别屈服于他人;你是属于自己的——生活这玩意儿就是这样,”有一次他对我这样说过。另一次我作为一个年轻的民主主义者,当着他的面侈谈过自由(那一天他的态度在我看来是“亲切和善的”;所以任何话题都可以跟他谈谈)。
                
       “自由,”他重复着,“什么能给人以自由,你知道吗?”
                
       “是什么呢?”
                
       “意志,自己的意志,它给予比自由更大的权力。你要是有意志,那你就会是自由的,你就能够指挥别人。”
                
       我父亲首先想要的,也是他最大的意志是生活——他已经生活过了……也许他预感到了他不会长久地享受生活,这玩意儿”:他四十二岁时就去世了。
                
       我把拜访扎谢金家的经过情形原原本本地讲给父亲听了。他坐在长凳上,用手杖在沙土上来回划着,仿佛很专心,又有点儿心不在焉地听着我的叙述。他偶尔笑笑,似乎挺快乐而又有趣地不时望着我,还向我提出一些简短的问题和不同的意见来怂恿我说下去。起先我感到不敢提到齐娜依达的名字,可是后来我忍不住了,便开始对她备加赞扬。父亲一直微笑着。接着他沉思起来,伸了一下懒腰,便站了起来。
                
       我记得,他从屋里走出去的时候,吩咐给他备马。他是个出色的骑手,善于驯服最野的马,论时间要比莱里先生早得多。
                
       “爸爸,我跟你一同去骑马好吗?”我问他。
                
       “不,”他答道,脸上露出了平日那种既冷淡,但又亲切的神情。“如果你要去,那就独自去吧;告诉马夫,我不骑马了。”
                
       他转过身去,快步走了。我目送着他的背影——他在大门外消失了。我看见了他的帽子沿着栅栏移动着:他上扎谢金家去了。
                
       在他们那儿,他待了不到一个小时,马上就上城里去了,直到傍晚才回家。
                
       午饭后,我自己也上扎谢金家去了。在客厅里我只见到了老公爵夫人。她看见了,就拿编结针挠挠包发帽下面的头皮,忽然她问我,能不能替她誊抄一份呈文。
                
       “很乐意!”我答道,说着就在椅子边上坐下了。
                
       “不过要注意,字要写得大一点,”公爵夫人低声说,给了我一张不整洁的纸,“少爷,今天就抄行不行?”
                
       “好,我今天就抄,夫人。”
                
       隔壁房间的门稍微打开了点儿,齐娜依达的脸——一张苍白的、若有所思的脸,头发随随便便地朝后梳着——在门缝里露出来;一双大眼睛冷淡地瞥了我一下,她把门轻轻地关上了。
                
       “齐娜,齐娜!”老夫人喊道。
                
       齐娜依达没有答理。我把老夫人的呈文带了回去,誊抄了整整一个晚上。

                
       九


       我那“强烈的爱情”就从那天开始了。我记得,当时我就有一种类似初次上任去办公的人必定会有的感觉:我已经不再是个年幼的孩子了;我已经堕入了情网。我说过了,我那强烈的爱情是从那天开始的;我还应当补充一句:我的痛苦也是从那天开始的。不在齐娜依达身边,我就觉得非常苦闷:我无法思索,无法干事,整天一个心眼儿地想念她……
                
       我苦闷不堪……可是她在身边时,我的心情也不觉得轻松。我妒忌,我意识到自己是微不足道的,我傻里傻气地绷着脸,傻里傻气地献殷勤;一种无法克服的力量还是诱使我去爱她——我每次跨过她房间的门坎时,就身不由己地快乐得颤栗起来,齐娜依达立刻就猜到我爱上她了,我也不想隐瞒;她拿我的爱情寻开心,逗弄我,娇纵我,折磨我。能成为别人最大的快乐和最深的痛苦的唯一源泉和绝对顺从的根由,是令人愉快的。可我在齐娜依达的手中却像一块柔软的蜡。不过,爱上她的不止我一个人:上她家去的所有男人都为她而神魂颠倒——她把他们一个个都拴在自己的脚边了。她时而唤起他们的希望,时而使他们忧心忡忡,随心所欲地支配他们(她把这称做让人们互撞),而她就以此取乐;可他们都不想反抗,都乐于听从她。在她那整个充满活力的、美丽的身上,狡黠和坦荡、做作和天真、文静和活泼特别迷人地交融在一起。在她所做和所说的一切里面。在她的每一个举动上面都有一种微妙、轻柔的美,处处都显示出她那独特的、推涛作浪的力量。她的脸是变化多端的,表情也随之而倏变:它几乎同时流露出嘲笑、沉思和热情的神情。各种各样的感情,宛如在阳光灿烂的刮风日子里的云雾,不时地在她的眼睛和嘴唇上轻快地掠过。
                
       她的每个倾倒者都是她所需要的。她有时管别洛夫佐罗夫叫“我的野兽”,而有时干脆叫“我的”,——为了她,他哪怕赴汤蹈火也在所不辞;他对自己的智能和其他优点是缺乏信心的,因而一味向她求婚,并向她暗示,别人只不过是空谈而已。马依诺达夫能和她那富有诗意的心弦共鸣:这个感情相当淡漠的人,几乎象所有的作家一样,极力使她相信,或许也使自己相信,他非常爱她,他用没完没了的诗句歌颂她,并以一种又像做作,又像真诚的欣喜表情给她朗诵这些诗句。她既同情他,但有时又稍稍地取笑他;她并不相信他,在听够了他的内心表白之后,就叫他朗诵普希金的诗,据她说,这是为了净化空气。卢申这个爱嘲笑人的、谈吐粗俗的医生,比其他人更了解她,也比其他人更爱她,虽然背后和当面常骂她。她尊敬他,但并不宽纵他——有时带着特别的、幸灾乐祸的高兴劲儿让他感觉到他也在她的手掌之中。“我是个卖弄风情的女人,我没有良心,我是个天生的演员,”有一次她当着我的面对他说,“啊,好吧!那么您伸给我一只手,我把大头针刺进您的手里,您在这个年轻人面前会觉得害臊的,您会觉得痛的,您这个好好先生,不过还要叫您笑笑呢。”
                
       卢申涨红了脸,转过脸去,咬紧了嘴唇,但终于把手伸给了她。她刺了一下他的手,他果真笑起来了……她也笑了,并把大头针刺得很深,一边望着他那徒然朝四下张望的眼睛……
                
       我最不了解的是齐娜依达与马列夫斯基伯爵之间的关系。他风度翩翩,英俊、机灵而又聪慧,可是连我这个十六岁的孩子,也觉得好象他身上有着某种可疑和虚假的东西。齐娜依达竟然没有觉察到这一点,我也为之诧异。或许她也觉察到了这种虚假,只是不感到厌恶罢了。错误的教育,奇怪的结交和习惯,母亲经常在身边,家境贫寒,家里杂乱无章——这一切从这个妙龄少女享有充分的自由,意识到她优越于周围的人为起点,就在她身上发展成一种带鄙夷的随便和要求不严的习气了。平时不论发生什么事——或者沃尼法季来报告糖用完了,或者外面传扬开了某种难听的坏话,或者客人们争吵起来了——她只是把鬈发一甩,说:没关系!这一切她都满不在乎。
                
       可是每当马列夫斯基走到她跟前,像狐狸般狡猾地摇晃着身子,姿势优雅在靠在她的椅背上,带着洋洋得意和谄媚的微笑凑着她的耳朵说起悄悄话来,而她却把两手交叉在胸前。聚精会神地望着他,脸上微露笑意,还不住地摇头的时候,我全身的血液常常会沸腾起来。
                
       “您为什么要接待马列夫斯基先生呢?”有一次我问她。
                
       “他有一撮那么漂亮的小胡子,”她答道。“这方面您当然不会懂得的。”
                
       “您是不是以为我爱他,”另一次她对我说。“不;我不会爱上一个我瞧不起的人。我需要的是一个能使我屈服的人……,但愿我不要遇到这样的人,感谢上帝!不要让我捏在别人的手心里,千万不能!”
                
       “那么,您永远不恋爱了吗?”
                
       “可是您呢?难道我不爱您吗?”她说完,就用手套的指尖碰了一下我的鼻子。
                
       不错,齐娜依达经常拿我开心。三星期来,我每天都见到她——跟我什么把戏没玩过!她难得上我们那儿去,对此我并不觉得遗憾,因为一到我们家里她就变成小姐,变成公爵千金了,所以我见了她也很拘束。此外,我害怕在妈妈面前露出马脚;她很不喜欢齐娜依达,总是怀着敌意注视着我们。父亲我倒不那么害怕:他好像并不注意我,很少跟她交谈,不过不知怎么的他们谈得很巧妙,而且意味深长。我不再做功课,也不再看书了,我甚至不到附近地方去散步骑马了。我像一只被缚住了脚的甲虫,常常在那间我所喜爱的小厢房周围转来转去:我似乎要永远待在那儿……但这是不可能的,母亲常常埋怨我,齐娜依达本人有时也把我撵了出来。
                
       于是我就在自己屋里闭门不出,或者到花园的尽头去,爬到一间已废弃不用,但还完整无缺的高高的石砌暖花房上面,两腿搭拉在临街的墙上。我一连坐上几个钟头,望着,望着,可是什么也没有看见。在我身旁,一群白蝴蝶在尘封的荨麻上而懒洋洋地飞来飞去;一只活泼的麻雀飞落在不远的一块半毁坏的红砖上生气地叽叽喳喳直叫,还不停地扭动身子,舒展着尾巴;那些对我还有疑虑的乌鸦高高地栖息在一株桦树的光秃秃的树稍上,偶尔呱呱地叫几声。阳光与风悄悄地在桦树的稀疏的枝间闪烁、嬉戏;有时飘来了顿河修道院那平静而凄凉的钟声——可我坐着、望着、听着,全身充满一种不可名状的感觉,这里面蕴涵着一切:悲伤,欢乐,对未来的预感,愿望,以及对生活的恐惧。可我当时对此一点不理解,我也无法对我心中的一切骚动,安个名称——或者就用一个名字——齐娜依达——来称呼一切更为合适吧。
                
       可是齐娜依达老是耍我,就像猫儿捉弄老鼠一样。她一会儿向我卖弄风情,于是我神魂颠倒了;一会儿她忽然又把我推开了,我却不敢去接近她,也不敢对她瞥上一眼。
                
       我记得,她一连几天对我很冷淡;我胆怯极了,畏畏缩缩地往他们的厢房跑去,尽力设法待在老公爵夫人身边,尽管这时候老公爵夫人在破口大骂,在叫嚷着什么:她那些期票官司进行得很不顺利,她已经和警察分局长解释过两次了。
                
       有一次在花园里我经过那道熟悉的栅栏时,见到了齐娜依达:她用两臂支撑着坐在草地上,一动也不动。我本想悄悄地走开,可她忽然抬起头来,向我做了个命令的手势。我呆在原地不动了:我开头不懂她的意思。她又做了个招呼我的手势。我立即跳过栅栏,兴冲冲地跑到她跟前去了;可她用目光阻止了我,向我指了指离她有两步路的一条小径。我窘迫得不知如何是好,就在小径的边上跪下了。她的脸色是那么苍白,表情是那么痛苦和悲伤,脸上的每一根线条都显得那么疲惫不堪,为此我的心揪紧了,我不由得嘟哝了一句:
                
       “您怎么啦?”
                
       齐娜依达伸出了一只手,拔了一根草,把它咬了一下扔掉了,扔得稍远些。
                
       “您非常爱我吗?”她终于问我。“真的吗?”
                
       我什么也没有回答,可我又何必回答呢?
                
       “真的,”她又说了一遍,依然像刚才那样望着我。“是这样。同样的眼睛,”她补了一句,沉思起来了,并用双手捂住了脸。“一切都让我厌烦,”她低声说,“真想到天涯海角去,这我可受不了,对付不了…我的前途如何呢!咳,我很痛苦……天哪,多么痛苦啊!”
                
       “为什么?”我怯生生地问。
                
       齐娜依达没有回答我,只耸了耸肩。我还是双膝跪在那里,神色非常忧郁地望着她,她的每一句话就这样铭记在我的心里了。这会儿我觉得,只要她不再伤心,我甘愿献出自己的生命。我望着她——虽然我还是不明白,她为什么觉得痛苦,但我仍然活灵活现地想象得出:她忽然感到一阵不可抑制的悲伤就往花园里走去,接着仿佛被镰刀割下似的倒在地上了。四周很明亮,而且苍翠欲滴;风在树叶间沙沙作响,偶尔摇曳着齐娜依达头顶上那株木莓的长长的枝条,鸽子不知在什么地方咕咕地叫着,蜜蜂发出嗡嗡的声音,在那稀疏的草地上低低地飞来飞去,我们的上方是一片令人赏心悦目的碧空,可我却那么忧伤……
                
       “给我朗诵些诗歌吧,”齐娜依达低声说,用一只胳膊肘支撑着身体。“我喜欢听您念诗。朗诵起来像在唱歌,不过这没关系,这是因为您还年轻。请您给我朗诵《在格鲁吉亚的山冈上》,不过您先坐下。”
                
       我坐下了,朗诵了《在格鲁吉亚的山冈上》。
                
       “它不可能不爱,”齐娜依达把这句诗也念了一遍。“这就是诗的妙处:诗能把不存在的事物告诉我们,它不仅比现有的更美,甚至更符合实情……它不可能不爱——心里想不爱,但不可能!”她又沉默,全身蓦地抖动了一下,站了起来。
                
       “咱们走吧。马依达诺夫坐在我母亲那儿呢;他给我带来了自己所作的一首长诗,可我却把他扔在那儿。他现在也很伤心……有什么办法呢!您总有一天会知道的……不过别生我的气!”
                
       齐娜依达急忙握了一下我的手,随即往前跑了。我们回到了厢房。马依达诺夫就把他刚出版的诗集《凶手》朗诵给我们听,可我并没有听他朗诵。拖长着声调大叫大喊地朗诵着自己的那韵脚的抑扬格诗——诗韵像小铃铛的声音响亮而毫无意义地更替着,而我一直望着齐娜依达,一个劲儿地想要了解她最后几句话的含义。
                
       也许,莫非有个神秘的情敌出乎意外地征服了你?——
                
       马依达诺夫忽然用鼻音大声朗诵着——我的目光和齐娜依达的目光碰上了。她埋下了眼睛,两颊绯红。我看到她脸红了,又惊又怕,浑身发冷。我为她早就醋劲儿大发,但只是在这一瞬间,我的脑海里才闪过她已堕入情网的念头:“天哪!她有意中人了!”

                
      
       十


       从那以后,我真正的苦恼就开始了。我绞尽了脑汁,反复思索,并且坚持不懈地,不过尽可能不露声色地暗中注视着齐娜依达。她变了——这是显而易见的。她经常独自去散步,而且散步的时间很长。有时她不出来见客,整整几个小时待在自己的房间里。以前她可没有这样的习惯。我忽然变得,或者我自以为变得目光异常锐利了。“是不是他呢?或者是他吧?”我常常自问,心神不宁地想着,从她的一个爱慕者猜疑到另一个爱慕者。我暗暗地觉得,马列夫斯基伯爵(虽然我为齐娜依达而羞于承认这一点)比其他人更危险。
                
       我的观察力太差,连鼻尖以外的事都看不见,虽说不露声色,大概也瞒不过任何人,至少卢申医生不久就把我看透了。不过他最近也变了:他消瘦了,还是那样常常发笑,但不知怎么的笑声更低沉了,更带恶意了,更短促了;他不由自主地、神经质地爱发脾气了,以前那种轻松有嘲讽和假装的粗俗已不见影踪。
                
       “年轻人,您怎么常常上这儿来,”有一次只有我们俩待在扎谢金家的客厅里的时候,他对我说。(公爵小姐散步去了,还没有回来,公爵夫人的叫嚷声在顶楼上嚷了起来:她在骂女仆。)“您应该念书,用功才对——现在您还年轻,可是现在您干些什么呀?”
                
       “您又不可能知道我在家里是不是用功,”我不以为然地答道,态度有点傲慢,但神情还是有点儿慌乱的。
                
       “这算什么用功呀!您心里想的可不是功课。嗯,我不跟您争论……在您这样的年纪,这是理所当然的事。可您的选择得不恰当。难道您看不出来,这是个什么家庭?”
                
       “我不懂您的意思,”我说道。
                
       “您不懂吗?那么您会更倒霉,我认为我有责任提醒您。
                
       我们这些老光棍上这儿来还没有什么:对我们有什么影响?我们都是久经锻炼的人,不会被任何情况吓倒,可您的皮肉还嫩;这儿的空气对您是有害的——请相信我的话;您会被传染的。”
                
       “怎么会这样呢?”
                
       “就是这样。难道您现在是健康的吗?难道您是处在正常的状态中吗?难道您现在所感觉到的一切对您有利,有好处吗?”
                
       “我感觉到什么啦?”我问道,可我心里明白,这位医生的话是对的。
                
       “哎呀,年轻人,年轻人,”医生继续往下说,他带着这样一种神态,仿佛在这两句话里蕴涵着对我的极大侮辱,“您哪能耍滑头?谢天谢地,要知道您心里想的事就全在您脸上表露出来了。不过,没有什么用!倘若(医生咬紧了牙关)……
                
       倘若我不是这样的怪人,那我自己也就不会上这儿来了。只是我觉得纳闷:您很聪明,怎么看不出您周围所发生的事呢?”
                
       “可是发生什么事了?”我接着他的话说,并且全神贯注,警惕起来。
                
       医生带着一副嘲笑而又惋惜的神气瞥了我一下。
                
       “我到底也是个好人,”他低声说,仿佛在自言自语:
                
       “把这话告诉他是非常必要的。总之,”他提高了嗓门补了一句,:“我再对您说一遍:这里的空气对您是不适宜的。您觉得在这儿很开心,但乌烟瘴气什么都有!暖花房里虽然也香气扑鼻,令人陶醉,但那儿是不能住人的,唉!听我说,还是重新去读卡达诺夫的教科书吧!”
                
       公爵夫人走进来了,向医生诉说起牙痛之苦。接着齐娜依达也来了。
                
       “您看,”公爵夫人补充说,“医生先生,您要骂她一顿。
                
       她整天喝冰水——她的身体很弱,这对她的健康难道有好处吗?”
                
       “您为什么要这样做?”卢申问道。
                
       “这会出什么事吗?”
                
       “出什么事?您会受凉,还会死去。”
                
       “确实吗?难道真会这样?那又怎么样呢——活该呗。”
                
       “原来这样,”医生埋怨地说了一句。
                
       公爵夫人走出去了。
                
       “原来这样,”齐娜依达也说了一遍。“难道活着就这么开心吗?请瞧瞧四周……怎么——很好吗?或许您以为我连这一点都不懂,也觉察不出来?我感到喝冰水很舒服,您可以一本正经地告诉我,为图一时快乐而拿我的生命去冒险是不值得的,——可我已经没有幸福可言了。”
                
       “可不是,”卢申说,“任性和自以为是——这两个词儿是对您的一个总结:这两个词儿充分表达了您的全部性格。”
                
       齐娜依达神经质地笑了起来。
                
       “您的意见过时了,亲爱的医生。您的观察力太差——您落后了。请您戴上眼镜吧。现在我哪里顾得上任性呢;我愚弄你们,也愚弄我自己……那是非常快乐的吗!——至于说到自以为是……monsieur沃尔杰马尔,”齐娜依达忽然补充说,并跺了一下小脚,别装出一副闷闷不乐的样子。我可受不了人家对我的怜悯。”她倏地走开了。
                
       “这里的空气对您是有害的,有害的,年轻人,”卢申又一次对我说。

                
十一


       那天傍晚,常客们都聚集在扎谢金家里。我就是其中的一个。
                
       话题转到马依达诺夫的长诗上去了;齐娜依达真诚地称赞这首诗。
                
       “不过,您可知道,”她对他说,“假如我是个诗人,我会采用别的题材的。也许,这一切都是胡言乱语,有时我的头脑里会出现一些奇怪的念头,尤其是天亮前,我睡不着的时候,那时天空开始呈现出粉红色和灰白色。我就会,比方说……你们不会嘲笑我吧?”
                
       “不!不会的!”我们都异口同声地扬声叫道。
                
       “我就会描写,”她继续往下说,把两手交叉在胸前,眼睛凝视着一边,“一群妙龄少女夜里乘坐一艘大船,在静静的河面上行驶着。月色皎洁,她们也都穿着白色衣服,头戴白色花冠,唱着歌曲,听我说,好象唱着赞美一类的歌曲。”
                
       “我懂,我懂,请继续往下说吧,”马依达诺夫仿佛已经沉入幻想似的,意味深长地低声说。
                
       “忽然——岸上起了一片喧闹声和欢笑声,出现了火把,飘来了咚咚鼓声……一群酒神的女祭司们奔跑着,又唱歌,又喊叫。描写景色可是您的事了,诗人先生……不过,我倒很想把火把描绘成红色,冒着浓烟,让女祭司们的眼睛在花冠下面闪闪发光,而花冠应当是深色的。可您也不要忘记虎皮和酒杯,还有黄金,好多好多的黄金。”
                
       “黄金应该放在哪儿呢?”马依达诺夫问道,一边把他那平直的头发朝后甩去,还张了张鼻孔。
                
       “放在哪儿吗?在她们的肩上、胳膊上和脚上,哪儿都行。
                
       据说,古代妇女的踝骨上都戴着金脚环。女祭司们招呼船上的姑娘到她们那儿去。姑娘们不再唱赞美诗了,她们无法再唱下去,但少女们一动也不动:大家顺流往岸边驶去。这时她们之中有个姑娘突然间悄悄地站起来……这可要好好地描写一番:她怎样在月光下悄悄地站起来,她的女伴们又怎样地吃惊……她跨过了船舷,女祭司们把她团团围住了,迅速地把她拉进黑夜里,拉到黑暗中去了……这儿您可要想象一下那缭绕的烟雾,以及一片混乱的情景。此刻,只听见女伴们的尖叫声,她的花冠还留在岸上。”
                
       齐娜依达不作声。(啊!她堕入了情网了!”我又想道。)
                
       “只有这些吗?”马依达诺夫问道。
                
       “只有这些,”她答道。
                
       “这不能成为一首完整的长诗的题材,”他俨然说,“不过我可以借用您的构思来写一首抒情诗。”
                
       “浪漫主义的?”马列夫斯基问道;
                
       “当然是浪漫主义的,用拜伦诗体来写。”
                
       “依我看,雨果比拜伦强,”年轻的伯爵随口说道,“而且写得更有趣味。”
                
       “雨果是第一流的小说家,”马依达诺夫表示了异议,“我的朋友东柯什耶夫,在他的西班牙文长篇小说《El Trovador》里……”“啊,这就是那本问号都颠倒的书吗?”
                
       齐娜依达打断了他的话头说道。
                
       “是的。这是西班牙人的习惯嘛。我想说东柯什耶夫……”“嘿!你们又争论起古典主义和浪漫主义来了,”齐娜依达再次打断了他的话头,“还不如让我们来玩玩……”“玩方特游戏吗?”卢申接她的话说。
                
       “不,方特游戏玩腻了;来玩比喻吧。(这是齐娜依达本人想出来的一种游戏:先说出一件东西,然后每个人竭力用另一件东西与之相比,谁比喻得最恰当,谁获得奖。)
                
       她走到窗子跟前去了。太阳刚沉下;天空中高高地飘浮着长长的嫣红的云彩。
                
       “这些云彩像什么?”齐娜依达问道,没待到我们回答,她就说道:“我认为它们像克娄巴特拉去迎接安东尼②的一艘金船上的朱帆。马依达诺夫您可记得,不久前您给我讲过这个故事?”
                
       我们大家都像《汉姆莱特》里的波洛涅斯③,都认为这些云彩正和这些朱帆一模一样,还认为我们谁也没有找到最恰当的比喻。
                
       “当时安东尼有多大年纪?”齐娜依达问道。
                
       “大概是年轻人吧,”马列夫斯基说道。
                
       “对,是个年轻人,”马依达诺夫肯定地证实说。
                
       “请原谅,”卢申扬声叫道,“他已经四十开外了。”
                
       “四十开外了,”齐娜依达也说了一遍,目光倏地向他扫了一下。
                
       我不久就回家了。“她堕入情网了,”我不由自主地低声说。“可是她爱上了谁呢。”

                
       十二


       几天过去了。齐娜依达变得越来越古怪,越来越叫人不可思议。有一次我去找她,看见她坐在一张藤椅上,头紧靠着桌子的尖角。她身子挺得笔直……满面泪痕。
                
       “啊!是您!”她的脸上挂着冷酷的微笑,说道。“请到这儿来。”
                
       我走到她跟前;她把一只手放在我的头上,忽然一把揪住我的头发拧了起来。
                
       “好痛啊!”我终于说道。
                
       “啊!好痛!可我不觉得痛吗?不觉得痛吗?”她连声说。
                
       “哎哟,”看见我的一小绺头发被她扯下来了,她忽然扬声叫道。“我干了些什么呀?可怜的monsieur沃尔杰马尔。”她小心翼翼地把扯下的头发弄直,绕在一个指尖上,把它缠成一个戒指。
                
       “我要把您的头发藏在我的颈饰里,挂在脖子上,”她说,眼睛里闪着泪花。:“这也许会使您稍微得到些安慰……可是现在再见啦。”
       我回家了,在家里碰上了一件不愉快的事。母亲劝导着父亲:她正为某件事在责备他,可是他跟往常一样,冷冷地,但有礼貌地避不作答,不久就走开了。我听不清楚母亲在说些什么,而且我也顾不上那种事;我只记得她劝导完毕,就叫我到她的房间里去,她对我常常上公爵夫人家里去极为不满,用她的话说,公爵夫人是unefemmecapabledetout。
                
       我走到她跟前吻了一下她的手(当我想结束谈话的时候,我总是这样做的),就到自己的屋里去了。齐娜依达的眼泪把我完全弄糊涂了:我压根儿不知道该拿什么主意,我自己也想哭一顿:我到底还是个孩子,虽然我已经十六岁了。我不再关注马列夫斯基,尽管别洛夫佐罗夫一天天变得越来越暴戾可怕了,他象狼瞅着绵羊似的瞅着狡黠的伯爵;可我既不想考虑什么事,也不想关心任何人。我已经丧失了思考能力,总想找个僻静的地方。我特别喜欢那间废弃不用的暖花房。我常常爬到那堵高墙上坐下来,像个不幸的、孤独的、忧郁的少年那样坐在那儿,觉得自己怪可怜的——这种悲伤情绪使我心里美滋滋的,我简直为之陶醉了!……
                
       有一次我坐在墙上,眺望着远方,一边听着钟声……忽然有个什么东西在我身上掠过——既不是一阵微风,也不是一阵痉挛,好象是一股气流,仿佛是有人走近来的感觉……
                
       我低头朝下面望去,看见齐娜依达穿着一件轻飘飘的浅灰色连衫裙,肩上靠着一把撑开的粉红色的遮阳伞,正沿着下面那条路急匆匆地走来。她看见了我,就停住了脚步,把草帽边往上一推,抬起了她那双温柔的眼睛直瞅着我。
                
       “您坐在这么高的地方干什么?”她问我,脸上带着一种古怪的微笑。“啊,”她继续往下说,“您总是要让我相信您很爱我。要是您当真爱我,那您就跳到路上来迎我吧。”
                
       齐娜依达还没有来得及说完这些话,我已经飞也似的跳下来了,仿佛有人在背后推了我一下。这堵墙约莫两俄丈高。
                
       我两脚刚落地,但冲力过大,我没有能够站稳:我摔倒了,有一会儿工夫我失去了知觉。等到我醒来时,就觉得齐娜依达站在我身旁,而我没有睁开眼睛。
       “我那可爱的孩子,”她说着,向我俯下身来,她的嗓音里流露出一种焦急不安的柔情蜜意,“您怎么能这样做,你怎么会这样听话……要知道我是爱你的……站起来吧。”
                
       她的胸脯就在我身旁起伏着,她的双手抚摸着我的头,忽然——那时我交上好运啦!——她那柔软鲜艳的嘴唇在我的整个脸上狂吻起来……她的嘴唇合在我的嘴唇上……这当儿虽然我的眼睛还没有睁开,但是齐娜依达大概凭我脸上的表情就猜到我已经清醒过来了。她倏地抬起身子。低声说“嗯,站起来吧,淘气鬼,傻孩子;您怎么还躺在尘土里呢?”
                
       我站起来了。
                
       “去把我的伞给我找来,”齐娜依达说道,“您瞧,我把伞不知丢到哪儿去了;别那样望着我……多么傻呀:您没有受伤吧?大概您给荨麻刺痛了?我对您说,别看我……他一点也不懂,也答话,”她补了一句,仿佛在自言自语。“回家去吧,monsieur沃尔杰马尔,把身上收拾干净,不许跟着我,要不我会生气的,再也不要……”她没有把话说完,就急匆匆地走了。可我却在路上坐下了……两腿支持不住。荨麻刺痛了我的手。腰酸背痛,头晕目眩——但是我当时所体验到的那种幸福感在我这一生中却一去不复返了。这种幸福感像一种甜蜜的痛苦充满了我的全身,而最后这种情感是以欣喜若狂的蹦跳和叫喊来抒发的。的确,我还是个孩子呢。
        

        
      
十三


       那一天我成天价那么高兴,那么自豪,我脸上还是那么强烈地感觉到齐娜依达的亲吻。一回想起她的每一句话,我就会狂喜得痉挛起来,我非常珍惜我那意想不到的幸福,甚至觉得害怕起来,甚至不愿看见她——这个使我重新燃起了爱情火焰的女子。我觉得似乎再不能向命运要求什么了,现在应当“好好地咽下最后一口气,然后死去。”可是第二天我到厢房里的时候,我却觉得非常窘迫不安,我徒劳地竭力把这种窘态掩藏在假装的温文尔雅的洒脱自然的风度中,就是一个想让别人知道他是善于严守秘密的人所需要的风度。齐娜依达接待我时态度很自然,毫不激动,只是点点指头吓唬我一下,并且问我:身上有没有乌青伤痕?我那浆腔作势——
                
       洒脱自然、严守秘密的样子——一下子全都消失了,连我那副窘态也随之而消失了。诚然,我并没有什么特别的期望,可是齐娜依达那泰然自若的神态仿佛泼了我一身冷水:我这才明白了,我在她眼里不过是个孩子,我心里多么难过!齐娜依达在屋里来回走着,每次她瞥我一眼时,脸上就迅速掠过一丝微笑;但她的思想却在远处翱翔,这一点我看得很清楚……“我要不要提昨天的事,”我在心里寻思着,“问问她,她那么急匆匆地上哪儿去,也好弄个水落石出……”可我只把手一挥,在一个角落里坐下。
                
       别洛夫佐罗夫走了进来;我看见他很高兴。
                
       “我还没有给您找到一匹驯顺的坐骑,”他一本正经地说,“弗列依塔格保证给我找一匹,可我没有把握,我害怕。”
                
       “请问,您怕什么?”齐娜依达问道。
                
       “怕什么?要知道您不会骑马。千万别出什么事!您怎么忽然想出这个怪念头!”
                
       “哦,这不关您的事,我的野兽先生。要是这样,我会去找彼得•瓦西里耶维奇……(彼得•瓦西里耶维奇是我父亲的名字。我觉得奇怪的是,她那么轻易、随便地提到他的名字,仿佛她相信他愿意为她效劳似的)。
                
       “原来这样,”别洛夫佐罗夫说道。“您要跟他一起去骑马?”
                
       “跟他或跟别人一起去——这和您不相干。只是不跟您。”
                
       “不跟我,”别洛夫佐罗夫也说了一遍。“随您的便。好吧,我给您找一匹马来。”
                
       “不过您要注意,我可不要一头母牛。我预先告诉您,我要去跑马。”
                
       “您要去跑马,那好吧。您跟谁,是不是跟马列夫斯基一起去?”
                
       “为什么不能跟他一起去,武士?嗯,请放心,”她补了一句,“眼睛可别忽闪忽闪的。我也带您去。您知道,现在马列夫斯基对我说来——呸!”她摇了摇头。
                
       “您说这话是为了安慰我吧,”别洛夫佐罗夫抱怨着。
                
       齐娜依达微微眯缝起了眼睛。
                
       “这话使您感到安慰吗?噢……噢……噢……武士!”末了她说,仿佛找不到别的话可说了。“可是您,monsieur沃尔杰马尔,您愿意跟我们一块儿去骑马吗?”
                
       “我不喜欢……跟大伙儿一起……”我嘟嘟囔囔地说着,没有抬起眼来。
                
       “您宁愿te#te—ß—te#te……好吧,那就各走各的路。”她叹了一口气,低声说。“您去吧,别洛夫佐罗夫,去想想办法。
       明天我就需要一匹马。”
                
       “嘿,可是哪来这笔钱?”公爵夫人出来干预了。
                
       齐娜依达皱了一下眉头。
                
       “我不会向您要钱的,别洛夫佐罗夫会相信我的。”
                
       “会相信的,会相信的……”公爵夫人抱怨着,忽然她扯着嗓门大叫起来:“杜尼娅什卡!”
                
       “Maman②,我给过您一个小铃,”公爵小姐说。
                
       “杜尼娅什卡!”老妇人又叫道。
                
       别洛夫佐罗夫告辞了;我跟他一起出来……齐娜依达没有挽留我。

                
十四


       第二天早晨我起得很早,给自己削了一根手杖,就到城外去了。我对自己说要出去散散心。这天天气非常好,阳光灿烂,不太热:凉风习习,令人神爽,那风恰到好处地喧闹着,嬉戏着。它吹拂着一切,但又什么也没有惊扰。我在山上、在树林里溜达了很久;我并不觉得自己很幸福——我从家里出来就是有意让自己陷入苦闷的;可是青春、美好的天气、清新的空气、畅游的快乐、独个儿躺在茂密的草地上的安闲舒适,都对我发生了作用:对那些难忘的话语和那些亲吻的回忆又一起涌上了我心头。想到齐娜依达对我的决心和勇气毕竟不能不说句公道话时,我感到十分欣慰……“在她看来,别人都比我好,”我寻思着,“让她这样想吧!可是别人只会空谈他们将干什么,可我已经做到了……我是不是还能为她做些事情!”……我的想象力活跃起来了。我开始幻想着,我将怎样把她从敌人的手中拯救出来,我将怎样浑身血迹斑斑地把她从监狱里搭救出来,我又怎样倒在她脚下死去。
                
       我想起了挂在我客厅里的一幅画:带走马蒂尔德的马蒂克•阿代尔。一只很大的花斑啄木鸟的出现立刻把我的注意力吸引开了,这只啄木鸟正顺着桦树的细树干忙碌地往上爬着,不时忐忑不安地从树干后面探头张望——一会儿向右望,一会儿向左望,好像一个音乐家从大提琴的颈部后面向外张望一样。
                
       接着我唱起了《这不是白雪》②,我还唱了一首当时很著名的热情歌曲:“当和风吹拂的时候,我等着你”;接着我高声地朗诵起霍米亚科夫的悲剧中的叶尔马克对着天上星星的一段呼吁;我本来打算写一首令人伤感的诗,甚至还想出了应当作为全诗结尾的的这么一行诗:“啊,齐娜依达!齐娜依达!”但是没有写成。然而吃饭的时间已经到了。我下山来到了山谷里;有一条狭窄的沙土路逶迤地通到城里。我顺着这条小路走去……在我身后响起了一阵低沉的得得马蹄声。
                
       我回头望了望,不由得站住了,摘下了制帽:我看见了我的父亲和齐娜依达。他们肩并肩地按辔徐行。父亲向她弯着身子,在跟她说说,一只手支撑在马颈上;他微笑着;齐娜依达默默地听着,神情严肃地埋下了眼睛,紧闭着双唇。我起先只看见他们俩;只是稍过了一会儿,别洛夫佐罗夫从山谷拐弯处出现了,他穿着带短披肩的骠骑兵制服,骑着一匹热汗涔涔的黑马。这匹良种马摇晃着脑袋,喷着鼻息,跳跃着:
                
       骑马人把它勒住了,用马刺刺它。我往一边躲开了。父亲勒紧了缰绳,离开了齐娜依达,她慢慢地抬起了眼睛望着他——
                
       两人疾驰而去了……别洛夫佐罗夫跟在他们后面也疾驰而去,军刀锵铿作响……“他的脸红得像龙虾,”我心想,“可她……她的脸为什么那么苍白?她骑了一早晨马,所以脸色惨白?”
                
       我把步子加快了一倍,在吃饭前正好赶到了家。父亲已经换过衣服,梳洗完毕,精神焕发地坐在母亲的圈椅旁边,他用平稳而洪亮的嗓音正在给她念JournaldesDÚbats上的一篇小品文;可是母亲并没有专心地听,一看见我便问我整天在哪儿,并补充说,她不喜欢我上鬼才知道的地方去,跟一些莫名其妙的人鬼混。“我独个儿在散步,”我本想这样回答,可是瞅了一下父亲之后,不知为什么我一声不吭了。

                
      
十五


       在以后的五、六天中,我几乎没有见到过齐娜依达;她说她病了,但并不妨碍这儿的常客们——照他们的说法——
                
       来值班,大家都来了,只有马依达诺夫一人除外,他一旦没有寻欢作乐的机会,就会垂头丧气,感到无聊了。别洛夫佐罗夫愁眉苦脸地坐在角落里,他扣上了全部钮扣,把脸涨得通红;马列夫斯基伯爵那俊秀的脸上经常掠过不怀好意的微笑;他当真失庞于齐娜依达了,所以特别卖力她巴结老公爵夫人,曾经跟她一起搭乘一辆出租马车去拜谒一位有将军头衔的省长;可是这次出门似乎一无所获,连马列夫斯基本人都碰上了一件不愉快的事:有人向他提起了一件与某些工程部队的军官们有牵连的事来——他只好自己辩护说,他当时年轻无知。卢申每天来两次,但并不久留;自从最近我们谈了一次话之后,我就有点怕他了,同时又觉得我打心底里喜欢他。有一次他跟我一同在涅斯库奇内公园散步,他非常和善、亲切,还告诉我各种花草名称和特性,忽然他敲敲自己的脑门,正如常言所说的,牛头不对马嘴地扬声叫:“可我这个傻瓜,还以为她是个爱卖俏的女人呢!看来,对某些人来说——牺牲自己也是一件快乐的事。”
                
       “您说这话是什么意思?”我问道。
                
       “我什么都不想告诉您,”卢申断断续续地答道。
                
       齐娜依达一直躲着我:我一出现——就会给她带来烦恼。
                
       她总是不由自主地转过脸不理我……不由自主地,这是多么痛苦的事,这使我多么难过,可是有什么办法——我竭力不让她看见我,只是从远处偷偷地望着她,但这一点我也不是经常能做到的。她一如既往地仍在莫名其妙地变化着:她的脸变样了,她完全变成了另一个人了。特别是在某个暖和而平静的傍晚,她身上的变化尤其使我惊讶不置。那天我坐在一大片接骨木树丛下面的一条低矮的长凳上;我很喜欢这个地方,因为从这儿可以看见齐娜依达房间的窗子。我坐着;在我的头顶上,一只小鸟儿在渐渐暗淡的树叶间忙碌地飞来飞去;一只灰猫挺直了背,小心翼翼地溜进了花园;刚出现的甲虫在那虽然有点昏暗,但还明净的天空中发出低沉的嗡嗡声。我坐在那儿望着窗子,等待着,看那窗子会不会打开:窗了果真打开了,齐娜依达站在窗口。她穿了一件洁白的连衫裙——她本人、她的脸、她的两肩和她的双手,也都苍白得似乎象她的衣服一样。她一动不动地站了很久;她紧蹙着双眉,目不转睛地一直眺望着。我从未见过她有这样的目光。接着她紧握双手,握得很紧很紧,并把它们举到嘴边,又举到额上,忽然她伸出指头,把头发掠到耳朵后面,又抖了一下头发——神情那么坚决地点了点头,接着就把窗子砰的一声关上了。
                
       三天后她在花园里碰见了我。我想躲开她,可她把我拦住了。
                
       “请伸出手来,”她对我说,态度和以前一样亲切,“咱们很久没有聊聊了。”
                
       我瞥了一眼:她的眼睛闪烁着柔和的光辉,脸上微露笑意——看过去仿佛隔着一层烟雾似的。
                
       “您身体还没有复原吗?”我问她。
                
       “不,现在一切都好了,”她答道,摘下了朵不大的红玫瑰。“我有点累了,不过这也会好的。”
                
       “您又会像从前一样吗?”我问道。
                
       齐娜依达举起那朵红玫瑰,让它靠近脸蛋,我觉得那鲜艳的花瓣的反光似乎投射到她的脸颊上了。
                
       “难道我变了吗?”她问我。
                
       “是呀,您变了,”我悄没声儿地答道。
                
       “我知道我对您很冷淡,”齐娜依达说了起来,“可您不要介意……我没有别的办法……嗯,谈这干吗!”
                
       “您不愿意我爱您——就是这么回事!?我不由得激动起来,脸色阴沉地扬声叫道。
                
       “不,您要爱我,但不要象以前那样。”
                
       “那么怎样爱您哟?”
                
       “咱们交个朋友吧——就是这样。”齐娜依达让我闻闻玫瑰。听我说,要知道我的年纪比您大得多,我可以做您的姑姑,真的;嗯,不能做姑姑,至少可以做大姐吧。可是您……”“我在您的心目中只是个孩子,”我打断了她的话头。
                
       “嗯,是呀,是个孩子,而且是可爱的好孩子,一个聪慧的、我很喜欢的孩子。现在您知道了吗?从今天起,我委任您做我的少年侍卫;您可别忘记,少年侍卫是不可以离开他的女王的。这就是您新的头衔的标志,”她补了一句,并把那朵玫瑰插在我的那短上衣的钮孔里,“这是我宠爱您的标志。”
                
       “我以前还得到过您另一种宠爱,”我嘟哝着说。
                
       “啊!”齐娜依达低声说,并从侧面瞅了我一下。“他的记性多好!好吧,现在我也要……”她向我俯下身子,在我的额上留下了纯洁而平静的亲吻。
                
       我只看了她一眼,可她转过身去,说:“跟我走吧,我的少年侍卫。”她朝厢房走去。我跟在她后面也走了,然而我始终困惑莫解。“难道,”我心里寻思着,“这个温柔的、明白事理的姑娘就是我所认识的齐娜依达吗?”我觉得她的步态更稳重了,她整个人也显得更端庄、更妩媚……
                
       天哪!爱情又以多么强大的力量在我心里重新燃烧起来了!

                
十六


       午饭后,客人们又聚集在厢房里。公爵小姐出来招待他们了。所有的常客都到了,一个也不缺,就象那头一个我难以忘怀的傍晚一样。甚至连尼尔马茨基也居然来了;马依达诺夫这天来得最早,他带来了几首新的诗作。方特游戏又开始了,但再也没有以前那样的怪诞不经的举动了,大家不胡闹,也不吵吵嚷嚷的——茨冈人的气质消失了。齐娜依达使我们的聚会增添了新的情趣。我以少年侍卫的权利坐在她旁边。顺便说说,她曾建议玩游戏受罚的人要讲一个自己的梦。
                
       但这个办法不行,梦不是讲得枯燥乏味(别洛夫佐罗夫梦见他用鲫鱼喂养自己的马,那匹马的头是木制的),就是讲得不自然,胡编乱造……马依达诺夫给我们讲一个完整的故事:里面有塞穴、弹七弦琴的天使和会讲话的花朵,还有远远传来的声音……但齐娜依达不让他讲完。
                
       “假如都讲编造的故事,”她说,“那就让每个人讲一件必须虚构的事吧。”
                
       别洛无佐罗夫又轮到第一个讲。这个年轻的骠骑兵发窘了。
                
       “我什么也编造不出来!”他扬声叫道。
                
       “别婆婆妈妈的!”齐娜依达插嘴说。“嗯,您就想象一下,比方说,您已经结婚了,给我们讲讲您跟尊夫人一起是怎样过日子的。您要把她锁在家里吗?”
                
       “我要把她锁在家里。”
                
       “您要跟她待在一起吗?”
                
       “我一定要跟她待在一起。”
                
       “那就好得很。嗯,要是这种生活她感到厌烦了,对您不忠实了呢?。
                
       “我就杀死她。”
                
       “倘若她逃跑了呢?”
                
       “我会去追赶她,仍然要杀死她。”
                
       “是这样。嗯,假定说我是您的妻子,那您怎么办?”
                
       别洛夫佐罗夫不作声了。
                
       “我会自杀……”齐娜依达不禁笑了起来。
                
       “我知道,您的故事不会长的。”
                
       第二个轮到齐娜依达。她翘首仰望着天花板,沉思起来了。
                
       “现在请听着,”她终于开腔了,“这个故事是我虚构的。
                
       请你们想象一座富丽堂皇的宫殿,在一个夏夜举行着奇妙盛大的舞会。舞会是由一位年轻的女王主持的。到处是黄金、大理石、水晶、丝绸、灯火、钻石、鲜花、熏香,以及一切精心安排的豪华场面……”“您喜欢豪华吗?”卢申打断了她的话头。
                
       “豪华是美的,”她答道,“凡是美的东西我都喜欢。”
                
       “您喜欢比美更可爱的东西吗?”他问道。
                
       “您问得很妙,不过我不懂您的意思。别打岔。总之舞会是豪华隆重的。这天嘉宾云集,他们都年轻、漂亮、勇敢,他们都神魂颠倒地爱上了女王。”
                
       “嘉宾中没有女的吗?”马列夫斯基问道。
                
       “没有……或者等一会儿——会有的。”
                
       “都不漂亮吗?”
                
       “也很妩媚动人……不过男人们都爱上了女王,她亭亭玉立,婀娜多姿……她那乌黑的头发上戴了一顶小小的金皇冠。”
                
       我瞥了一下齐娜依达,在这一瞬间我觉得她似乎比我们大家高贵得多,从她那洁白的脑门上,从她那凝然不动的眉宇间显露出多么明达的智慧,无限的权威,我不禁暗暗思量:
                
       “你自己就是那位女王!”
                
       “大家都簇拥着她”齐娜依达继续往下说,“每个人都对她阿谀奉承,大献殷勤。”
                
       “她喜欢阿谀奉承吗?”卢申问道。
                
       “多么叫人讨厌,总是打岔……谁不喜欢阿谀奉承?”
                
       “还有最后一个问题?”马列夫斯基说,“女王有丈夫吗?”
                
       “这我倒没有想过。不,为什么要有丈夫呢?”
                
       “当然罗,”马列夫斯基接着她的话说,“为什么要有丈夫呢?”
                
       “Silence!”马依达诺夫扬声叫道,他的法语说得很蹩脚。
                
       “Merci,②”齐娜依达对他说,“总之,女王听着这些奉承的话语,听着音乐,但她对任何一个嘉宾都不瞧上一眼。六扇窗户从上面开到下面——从天花板直到地板,窗外天空一片漆黑,布满了大颗星星,那黑森森的花园里有许多参天大树。女王望着花园。那儿,在树木近旁有个喷水池;它在黑暗中泛着白光,显得长长的,长得象幽灵。女王在说话声和音乐声中听到了泉水的轻微的飞溅声;她一边望着,一边想着:你们这些老爷都很高贵、你们都愿意死在我的脚下,你们都在我的掌握之中……可是那儿,在喷水池旁,在那飞溅着的喷泉旁边,我那心爱的,能够支配我的人却站在那儿等待着我。他不穿华丽的衣服,不戴珍珠宝石,谁也不认识他,但他等待着我,并且相信我一定会去的——要跟他待在一起,要跟他在那儿,在花园里的幽暗处,在树木的沙沙声和喷泉的飞溅声中一起消失的时候……”齐娜依达不作声了。
                
       “这……就是编造的故事吗?”马列夫斯基狡黠地问道。
                
       齐娜依达连看都不看他一眼。
                
       “先生们,”卢申忽然说话了,“要是我们也在那些嘉宾中间,而且认识站喷水池旁的那个幸福的人,那么我们该怎么办?”
       “等一等,等一等,”齐娜依达插嘴说,“我将告诉你们,你们每个人该怎么办。您,别洛夫佐罗夫,会向他挑战,要求决斗;您,马依达诺夫,会写一首讽刺短诗嘲讽他……不过,不——您不擅长写讽刺诗,那您就为他写一首类似巴比埃体的长诗,刊登在《电信》②杂志上。您,尼尔马茨基,您会向他借……不,您会以高利贷形式借钱给他;您,医生……”她停住了。“我不知道您想干什么。”
                
       “我会以御医的身份,”卢申答道“向女王进谏,当她不想招待嘉宾的时候,不要开舞会。”
                
       “也许您是对的。那您呢,伯爵?……”“我吗?”马列夫斯基露出了恶意的微笑重复着。
                
       “您会端给他有毒的糖果。”
                
       马列夫斯基的脸稍微变了样,刹那间流露出一副犹太人的神情,可他马上就哈哈大笑起来。
                
       “至于您,沃尔杰马尔,您作为女王的一名少年侍卫,当她跑到花园里去的时候,您该提着她那拖在地上的长后襟,”马列夫斯基恶毒地说。
                
       我勃然大怒了——可是齐娜依达连忙用手按住我的肩膀,她欠起身子,声音有点儿发抖地低声说:
                
       “我决不让您这位伯爵大人放肆无礼,所以我请您离开这儿。”她向他指着门。
                
       “宽恕我吧,公爵小姐,”马列夫斯基嘟哝着说,脸色全白了。
                
       “公爵小姐说得对,”别洛夫佐罗夫扬声叫道,他也站起来“我,说真的,怎么也没有料到,”马列夫斯基继续往下说,“我的话里好像一点也没有这种意思……我脑子里根本没有要侮辱您的想法……请原谅我吧。”
                
       齐娜依达向他投去冷冷的目光,还冷笑了一下。
                
       “那就等着吧,”她低声说,很随便地做了个手势。“我和monsieur沃尔杰马尔都不应该生气。您以刺激我们来取乐……好,请便吧。”
                
       “请原谅我,”马列夫斯基又说了一遍。可我回想齐娜依达当时的举动,又在心里寻思着,即使是一位真正的女王也不会比她更威严地向一个失礼的臣子指着门,叫他出去的。
                
       这场小风波发生后,方特游戏又继续了不多一会儿。大家都觉得有点儿尴尬,与其说是这场风波造成的,倒不如归咎于另一种有点模糊不清,但却十分沉重的心情。这种心情谁也没有谈起过,但是每个人都在自己身上和在其他常客的身上感觉到了这种心情。马依达诺夫给我们朗诵了自己的诗篇——马列夫斯基过分热情地赞赏了这些诗。“现在他多么想显示一下,他是个好人,”卢申对我低声说,我们不久就散了。
                
       齐娜依达忽然陷入了沉思;公爵夫人打发人来传话,说她头痛;尼尔马茨基也开始抱怨起自己的风湿症来了。
                
       我久久不能入睡,齐娜依达的故事使我感到惊讶。
                
       “难道这个故事里含有什么暗示吗?”我问自己。“那么她暗示谁呢?又暗指什么呢?如果真的暗示了什么,那可怎么办?不,不,这是不可能的,”我小声说,同时翻了一下身子,把灼热的面颊从一边翻到了另一边……我回忆着齐娜依达讲故事时她那脸上的表情……回忆着卢申在涅斯库奇内公园里脱口而出的感慨,回忆着她对我的态度的突变——可我实在捉摸不透。“他是谁呢?”这几个在昏暗中形成的字体仿佛历历在目。它宛若一片低低的、不祥的云彩挂在我的头顶上,我已感到觉它的压力,我等待着,眼看它马上就要兴妖作怪了。
                
       近来我对许多事情都已习惯了,我在扎谢金家里看到了许多事情:他们家里的杂乱无章、荤油烛头、折断了的刀叉、脸色阴沉的沃尼法季、穿得破破烂烂的妇仆们、公爵夫人本人的举止态度——这种令人奇怪的生活已经不再使我感到惊讶了……可是对于现在我在齐娜依达身上模糊地感觉到的东西却还不能习惯……我的母亲有一次在谈到她时,称她为“女冒险家”。她——我的偶像,我的神明——是个女冒险家!听到这个称号,我很难过,我把头埋到枕头里,竭力不想这个称号,我很愤慨……同时我又想:只要我能成为喷水池旁的那个幸福的人,那我什么都会答应,什么都能牺牲。
                
       血在我的体内沸腾起来,四处奔流。“花园……喷水池……”我心想。“让我到花园里去吧。”我连忙穿上衣服,从家里溜了出来。夜色很浓;树木轻微地沙沙作响;天上降下一股平和的寒气;从菜园里飘来了一阵茴香的气味儿。我走遍了花园里的所有小径;我那轻轻的脚步声使我感到慌乱,也使我感到兴奋;我不时地停住脚步,等待着,谛听着我的心怎样跳动——它跳得剧然而又急促。我终于走近了栅栏,把身子靠在一根细木条上。蓦地——或者这是我的幻觉吧?——在离我几步路的地方闪过了一个女人的身影……我竭力往暗处凝神望去——我屏住了呼吸……这是什么?我听见的是脚步声呢,还是我心脏的跳动声?“谁在这儿?”我含糊不清地嘟哝了一句。这又是什么?是一阵压抑着的笑声?……或者树叶的沙沙声……或者耳边的叹息声?我不觉害怕起来了……“谁在这儿?”我声音更轻地又问了一下。
                
       骤然刮起风来了;天空闪过一道火光:一颗星星陨落了。
                
       “齐娜依达吗?”我想问,可是声音给我的嘴唇挡住了。忽然间四周一片沉寂,在深更半夜里这种万籁俱寂的现象是屡见不鲜的……甚至连树上的山雀也不叫了,只在某处有一阵关窗地声音。在自己那张冰冷的床上。我感到一阵莫名其妙的烦躁不安:好像我是应约去跟情人幽会的——但我孤单单地白等一阵,只好打别人的幸福旁边走过去了。
                

      
   十七


       第二天,我见到了齐娜依达,但只有一刹那工夫,她和公爵夫人同乘一辆出租马车,到某处去。可是我见到了卢申和马列夫斯基,卢申只勉强地向我打了个招呼,年轻的伯爵咧着嘴笑,友好地跟我谈起话来。小厢房的所有客人里面唯独他能想办法走进我家的门,并且博得了我母亲的欢心。父亲瞧不起他,竟以侮辱性的礼貌对待他。
                
       “啊,monsieurlepuge,”马列夫斯基开腔了,“见到您很高兴。您那位美丽的女王在干什么?”
                
       他那容光焕发的、俊秀的面孔这时令我十分讨厌,他又以鄙夷的、带戏谑性的目光看着我,所以我压根儿不去理他。
                
       “您还在生我的吗气?”他继续往下说。“这大可不必。要知道不是我叫您少年侍卫的,而需要少年侍卫的主要是女王。
                
       请让我向您进一言,您没有很好地尽职。”
                
       “何以见得呢?”
                
       “一个少年侍卫应当寸步不离自己的女王;少年侍卫应当知道女王所做的一切,甚至应当监视她;”他压低嗓音补了一句,“要日夜监视她。”
                
       “您这话是什么意思?”
                
       “我这话是什么意思吗?我觉得我已说得很清楚了,日夜监视。白天还不要紧,白天明亮,人也多;可是夜里就要谨防出乱子。我劝您夜里不要睡觉,要监视,尽力监视着。您要记住,夜里,花园里,喷水池旁……这些都是必须看过的地方。您会向我道谢的。”
                
       马列夫斯基不禁笑起来了,他转身去背朝着我。他对我所说的话大概并不含有特别的意思。他有大骗子的臭名声,在化装舞会上他是以善于愚弄人而出名的,他那渗透着全身的几乎是下意识的虚假更使他遐迩闻名了……刚才他不过是想戏弄我;可是他的每一句话都像毒药一样流入了我的全身血管。血直往我头上涌去。“啊!原来如此!”我对自己说。“好啊!这样看来,我被引到花园里去可不是无缘无故的!绝不让这种事情发生!”我大声叫道,并用拳头捶打了一下自己的胸膛,说实在的,虽然我并不知道,究竟什么事情绝不让发生。“会不会马列夫斯基自己将到花园里去,”我心想(或许他在闲谈中泄露了秘密:干这种事他的脸皮可厚呢),“会不会是别人(我们花园的栅栏很低,爬进来是不费吹灰之力的),不过谁碰到我,他就会倒霉!我奉劝诸位,谁也不要碰到我!我要向全世界的人和她这个负心女人(我竟然称她为负心女人了)证明,我会报复的!”
                
       我回到自己屋里,从写字台抽屉里拿出一把不久前买的英国制造的小刀,我摸了摸它那锋利的刀刃,皱了一下眉头,冷酷地下定了决心,把它放入了口袋,仿佛干这种事对我来说已不足为奇,更不是第一次了。我气愤填膺,变得冷酷无情了;这天我直到夜里没有舒展过双眉,没有张开过嘴巴,我不时地踱来踱去,一只手紧紧地握住了藏在口袋里的那把已经发热的小刀,准备干一件可怕的事。这些还从来没有过的新的感觉把我紧紧地攫住了,甚至使我感到高兴,居然在我脑子里连齐娜依达都很少出现了。我一直想象着阿列科和一个年轻的茨冈人“上哪儿去,年轻的美男子:躺下吧……”接着又问:你浑身血迹斑斑!……啊,你干了什么啦?……
                
       “没有什么!”我露出了冷酷的笑容,又说了一遍:没有什么!
                
       父亲不在家,而母亲从某个时间起几乎时常在暗中生气,她注意到我那副大祸临头的样子,吃晚饭时就问我:“你为什么绷着脸,象只偷米吃的老鼠?”我只是傲慢地冷笑一声作为回答,并在心里寻思着:“要是他们知道了呢!?时钟已经敲过了十一下,我回到自己的屋里,但没有脱衣服,我等待着午夜到来。时钟终于敲了十二下。“是时候了!”这句话从我牙缝里低声地迸了出来,我把钮扣一直扣到领口,甚至还挽起了袖子,到花园里去了。
                
       我已经预先挑选一个守候的地点:在花园尽头,就在把我们家的园子跟扎谢金家的园子隔离开来的那道栅栏和两家公墙相接的那个地方,那儿还有一株孤零零的松树。站在它那低垂茂密的树枝下,我能清楚地看到(不超出漆黑的夜色所提供的能见度)周围发生的一切。这里有一条我总觉得很神秘的、弯弯曲曲的小径,它像一条蛇似的在栅栏脚下延伸着,这段栅栏上看得出有人爬过的痕迹;这条小径直通到一座用洋槐枝条紧密地编成的圆亭子。我很不容易地走到那株松树跟前,靠在它的树干上守候起来。
                
       夜还是那么静悄悄的,像上一夜一样,不过天空中的乌云少些了,灌木的轮廓,甚至高处的那些花朵都显得更清楚了。刚开始等的时候,我觉得烦闷难受,几乎害怕起来。我决心不顾一切了。我只考虑着:我应该怎样行动?要不要大吼一声:“往哪儿走?站住!如实招来——否则就要你的命!”
                
       或者就一刀刺过去……每一种声音、每一阵沙沙声和簌簌声,我都觉得很重要、不同寻常……我准备着……我向前倾着身子……可是半小时过去了,一小时过去了,我的血液流动得平稳了,热度也降下来了,我开始意识到我干这一切都是徒劳无益的,我甚至觉得自己有点儿滑稽可笑,马列夫斯基是跟我开玩笑的。我离开了我那个埋伏的地方,在整个花园里绕行了一圈。但任何地方都听不到一丝声音,仿佛故意气我似的,四周万籁俱寂,连我家的狗也在便门旁边蜷缩成一团,睡着了。我爬到废弃不用的暖花房上面,看见了前面一大片田野,我想起了跟齐娜依达的一次会面,不觉沉思起来……
                
       我忽然吓了一跳……我仿佛听到吱...烈幌碌目门声,?着传来了一阵树枝被折断的轻微的咔嚓声……我跳了两跳就从暖花房上下来了,我站在地上呆然不动。花园里清晰地响起了一阵急促而轻快的,但却小心翼翼的脚步声……声音离我越来越近了。
                
       “这就是他……他到底来了!”这个念头在我脑海里掠过。
                
       我哆哆嗦嗦地把小刀从口袋里掏了出来,又哆哆嗦嗦地把它扳开,红色的火花开始在我的眼前旋转,我害怕和愤怒得连头发都直竖起来了……这时一阵脚步声向我直逼过来,我弯下身子,缓慢地迎上前去……一个人出现了……天哪!这是我的父亲!
                
       我立刻就认出他了,虽然他全身裹在一件黑色斗蓬里,帽子拉到了脸上,他蹑手蹑脚地打我身边走了过去。他没有发觉我,虽然没有东西把我遮住;可我抖得那么厉害,蜷缩成一团,好像快与地面看齐了。一个嫉妒的、准备杀人的奥赛罗这时忽然变成了一个小学生……父亲的突然出现使我万分惊讶,开头我甚至没有发觉他是从哪儿来,往哪儿去的。等到四周又沉静下来,我这才挺直了身子,心想:“父亲为什么深更半夜还在花园里走动?”我在极度恐惧中把小刀掉落在草地上了。我觉得十分羞愧,甚至不想寻找它。我立刻清醒过来了。不过回家的时候,我还是走到接骨木树丛下面的那条长凳跟前,朝齐娜依达卧室的小窗瞥了一眼。小窗上那些不大的、微凸的玻璃在从夜空中投射下来的微光映照下呈现出暗淡的蓝色,突然间,它们的色泽开始变了……在玻璃后面——这我看得很清楚,那白色的窗帘谨慎小心地轻轻放下了,一直垂到窗台上,就这样纹丝不动了。
                
       “这是怎么回事啊?”当我又不知不觉地来到了自己房间的时候,我几乎情不自禁地大声说道。“是梦,是偶然的巧合,或是……”忽然在我的脑海里涌现出了这些猜测和假想,它们是这样新奇,我甚至不敢再往下想了。
                
      


十八


       我一早起来,就觉得头痛。昨天的激动情绪消失了。然而取而代之的是令人痛苦的疑惑和一种以前还不曾有过的悲伤——仿佛体内的某个部分正趋于死亡似的。
                
       “为什么您看起来活像一只割去了半个脑袋的兔子?”卢申遇见我时对我说。
                
       早餐时,我一会偷偷地望望父亲,一会儿又偷偷地望望母亲:他跟往常一样镇定自若,而她也跟往常一样在暗暗地生气。我等待着,父亲会不会象有时那样跟我亲切地谈起话来……可他对我连平日那冷冰冰的抚爱也没有表示一下。“把一切都告诉齐娜依达?……”我在心里寻思着。要知道反正一样。我们之间一切都完了。”我去找她了,可是不但什么也没有告诉她,就连跟她谈话的机会也没有,虽然我多么想跟她谈谈。公爵夫人的一个十二岁的儿子——武备中学的学生——从彼得堡来度假了。齐娜依达立即把她的弟弟托付给了我。
                
       “托付给您了,”她说,“我亲爱的沃罗佳(她还是头一次这样叫我),给您介绍一个朋友。他的名字也叫沃罗佳。我希望您会喜欢他。他还怕陌生,不过他心眼儿挺好,带他去看看涅斯库奇内公园,跟他一块儿散散步,谓您好好地照顾他。您会这样做的,对吗?您也是个好孩子嘛!”
                
       她亲热地们两手按在我的肩上,可我完全张皇失措了。这个孩子的到来使我也变成一个孩子了。我默默地端详这个武备中学的学生,他也同样默默地凝视着我。齐娜依达不禁纵声大笑起来,把我们推到一起了。
                
       “孩子们,你们拥抱吧!”
                
       我们拥抱了。
                
       “要不要我带您到花园里去?”我问这个武备中学的学生。
                
       “请吧,”他用沙哑的、十足象个军校学生的声调答道。
                
       齐娜依达又纵声大笑起来……我及时发觉了,以前她脸上还从来没有这样迷人的红晕。我跟军校的学生一起出去了。
                
       我们花园里有一架老式的秋千。我让他坐在一块狭小的薄板上,帮他摇起来。他一动不动地坐着紧紧地抓住了绳子,他穿了一套镶着宽宽的金银绦带的簇新的厚呢制服。
                
       “您把领口解开吧,”我对他说。
                
       “不要紧,我们已经习惯了,”他说,还咳嗽了几声。
                
       他活脱儿像他的姐姐,特别是那双眼睛。我很高兴为他效劳。同时上述那无法解脱的悲伤仍然悄悄地撕裂着我的心。
                
       “现在我当真是个孩子了,”我心想,“可是昨天……”我记起了昨天夜里小刀掉落的地方,并把它找到了。军校学生向我借去了这把小刀,他摘下一根茎很粗的独活草,把它削成了一支笛子,吹了起来。奥赛罗也吹起了笛子。
                
       可是傍晚,齐娜依达在花园的一个角落里找到了他,当问他为什么这么伤心的时候,他这个奥赛罗在齐娜依达的怀抱里哭起来了。我泪如泉涌,她不觉大吃一惊。
                
       “您怎么啦,您怎么啦,沃罗佳?”她连声问道,看到我没有回答她,也没有停止哭泣,她就想要吻我给泪水浸湿了的脸颊。
                
       可我扭开脸去,一边号啕大哭,一边低声说:
       “我全都却道:您为什么戏弄我?……您需要我的爱情做什么?”
                
       “我对不起您,沃罗佳……”齐娜依达低声说。“咳,真对不起您……”她又补了一句,握紧了双手。:我身上有多少坏的、阴暗的和罪恶的东西……可我现在并不戏弄您,我爱您,您也不要猜疑,为什么,怎么样……不过您知道什么呢?”
                
       我能对她说什么呢?她站在我面前瞧着我,只要她瞧我一眼,那我从头到脚就会都属于她了……一刻钟以后,我跟那个军校学生,还有齐娜依达一起争先恐后地奔跑起来了;我不哭了,我笑着,虽然笑得那浮肿的眼皮里又掉下泪来;我把齐娜依达的绸带当作领结系在颈脖上,当我能够抱住她的腰部时,我就高兴得叫了起来。现在她能随意地同我玩各种游戏了。
                

      
十九


       假如有人一定要我详细地讲述在我深夜远征失败后的一星期内我的心情变化,我会感到十分困难的。这是个古怪的暴冷暴热的大波动时期,心里乱得很。一些相互最抵触的情感、思想、猜疑、希望、欢乐和痛苦在这片混乱中旋风般地转动着,我害怕探察自己的内心世界,假如一个才十六岁的孩子能够这样做的话。我害怕弄清楚事情的真相,我只想赶快过完白天,而夜里我就睡觉了……少年不知忧愁的脾性帮了我的忙,我不想知道人家是不是爱我,也不愿承认人家并不爱我。我常避开父亲,可我无法避开齐娜依达……在她面前我像在火中燃烧一样……但我何必要知道我在什么样的火中燃烧和熔化,好在我觉得熔化得很舒服,燃烧得很快乐。我沉浸在各种感受之中,并随之起伏,受其左右,我自己欺骗着自己,我不再回忆往事,对我预感到将要发生的事情……
                
       也避而不见……这种苦恼大概不会持续很久……一声霹雳一下子就把一切结束了,也把我扔到了新的轨道上。
                
       有一次我散步了相当长时间才回家吃午饭。当我知道只有我一个人吃饭,父亲出去了,母亲身体不舒服,不想吃饭,待在卧室里,我感到很惊讶。从仆人们的脸色上我就猜到了,一定发生了不寻常的事了……我不敢问他们,但侍候我吃饭的年轻仆人菲里普是我的朋友,他是个狂热的诗歌爱好者,又是个弹奏吉他的能手,我就去向他打听。我从他口中得悉,在我父母之间有一回极其厉害的口角(就在女仆的屋子里每一句话也都听得清清楚楚,他们说的多半是法国话,女仆玛莎在一个巴黎的女裁缝那儿待过五年,她完全可以听懂)。我的母亲责备父亲不忠实,跟邻居的小姐打得火热。父亲开头为自己辩护,后来发火了,也说了些“好象是关于他们年龄”的刻薄话,母亲因此哭了起来。母亲还提到了期票的事,这张期票仿佛给了老公爵夫人。母亲说了些关于她和她的女儿的很难听的话,于是父亲对她进行了威吓。
                
       “这件不幸的事,”菲里普继续往下说,“是由一封匿名信引起的,但没人知道这信是谁写的。要不然,这件事怎么会暴露呢,又没有任何其他原因。”
                
       “难道真有其事吗?”我费力地说出这一句话,同时我的手脚都发冷了,我心底里起了一阵颤栗。
                
       菲里普意味深长地眨巴了一下眼睛。
                
       “真有其事。这些事情是隐瞒不住的。这一次您父亲虽然非常小心,但是,比方说,他必须雇马车或做别的什么事情,没有仆人给他张罗也不行呀。”
                
       我把菲里普打发走了,就倒在床上,我没有号啕大哭,也没有悲观失望;我没有问自己,这一切是什么时候发生的,又是怎样发生的;我不觉得奇怪,怎么我以前,怎么我这么久都没有猜到;我甚至不抱怨父亲……对于我所知道的这件事,我是无能为力的,因为这件事的突然暴露也把我毁了……一切都完了。我心灵里的所有花朵一下子全都被摘了下来,它们散落在我的周围,遭到践踏的厄运。
          

      
      
二十


       第二天母亲宣布要搬回到城里去。早上父亲就到母亲的卧室里去了,并且跟她单独在一起坐了很久。谁也没有听见他对她谈了些什么,不过母亲不再哭了。她安静下来,吩咐仆人给她送早点,但她没有走出房间,也没有改变自己的主意。我记得,这天我整日无目的地踱来踱去,但没有到花园里去,也没有朝那间房瞥过一眼,可是傍晚时分我却成了一件咄咄怪事的见证人:我的父亲拉着马列夫斯基伯爵的胳膊穿过大厅,来到了前室,他当着一个仆人的面冷冷地对他说:
                
       “几天前,阁下在某人家里接到过逐客令,不过现在我不打算跟您进行一番解释性的谈话,可是我荣幸地通知您,假如您再上我这儿来,我就要把您从窗口里扔出去。我不喜欢您的笔迹。”伯爵低下了头,咬紧了牙关,缩紧了身子,溜走了。
                
       我们开始收拾行装搬回城里,我们在阿尔巴特有一所房子。父亲本人大概也已经不想再住在别墅里了;可是看来,他已经劝阻了母亲不再扩大事态。一切都悄悄她、不慌不忙地进行着。母亲甚至吩咐仆人去问候公爵夫人,向她表示歉意,说她由于身体不好,不去向她辞行了。我像狂人般地四处走着,我只有一个希望:让这一切尽快地结束。当时有一个念头一直在我的脑海里萦回着:她这位年轻的小姐怎么能——
                
       嗯,还是个公爵小姐呢——下决心这样做,既然她知道我父亲是个有妻室的人,她可以出嫁,哪怕,比方说,嫁给别洛夫佐罗夫?她指望什么呢?怎么不怕毁了自己的前程呢?我心想,是啊,这就是爱情嘛,这就是热烈的爱情,这就是无私的爱情……我记起了卢申的一句话:为别人而牺牲自己是快乐的。不知怎么的命运让我看见了一样白色的东西停留在厢房的一扇窗口上……“莫非这就是齐娜依达的脸?”我心想……这的确是她的脸。我实在忍不住了。我不能不跟她告别一下就和她分手。我找了个适当的时机,到厢房里去了。
                
       公爵夫人在客厅里用她平日那种随随便便、不大客气的态度接待了我,向我问好。
                
       “这是怎么回事,少爷,你们这么早就忙着搬回去?”她低声说,一边把鼻烟盒塞到鼻孔里去。
                
       我瞅了她一下,心里觉得轻松了。菲里普说的期票这个词儿我听了很难过。她倒一点也不起疑心,至少我当时有这种感觉。齐娜依达从隔壁房间里出来了。她穿了一件玄色连衫裙,脸色惨白,关发披散着;她默默地抓住了我的手,拉着我走了。
                
       “我听到了您的声音,”她开腔了,“我立刻就走了出来,好狠心的孩子,您就那么轻易地离开我们啦?”
                
       “我是来跟您告别的,公爵小姐,”我答道,“大概我们要永别了。您也许听说了,我们要搬回城里去。”
                
       齐娜依达凝神地望了我一下。
                
       “是啊,我听说了。谢谢您的光临。我已经认为再也见不到您了。我有什么对不起您的地方,请原谅。我有时使您很难堪,可我毕竟不是您所想象的那种人。”
                
       她掉转身去,靠在窗口上。
                
       “真的,我可不是那种人。我知道我给您的印象很坏,您鄙视我。”
                
       “我?”
                
       “是的,您……您。”
                
       “我?”我伤心地又说了一遍,在她那令人神往的、无法形容的魅力的影响下,我的心又像以前那样颤栗起来了。“我?请您相信,齐娜依达•亚历山德罗夫娜,不管您做过什么,也不管您怎样使我难堪,我都会爱您的,崇拜您的。直到我生命的最后一刻。”
                
       她倏地向我转过身来,大大地张开了两臂,抱住了我的头,紧紧地、热烈地吻我。老天知道,这一告别的长吻是针对谁的,可我已经饱尝了它的甜密,我知道这样的亲吻再不会有第二次了。
                
       “再见,再见,”我连声说……
                
       她挣脱了身子就走了。我也离开了厢房。我无法表达我离去时的心情。我并不希望将来有一天再会有这样的心情,可是如果我从来没有体验过这种心情,那我就会认为自己是个不幸的人了。我们搬到城里了。我没能很快忘却过去,也没能立刻着手复习功课。我的创伤是慢慢地愈合的,不过说真的,我对父亲没有任何恶感。相反地,他在我的心目中似乎更高大了……让心理学家凭着他们的知识来解释这种矛盾心理吧。有一次,我在一条林荫道上走着,遇见了卢申,心里真有无法形容的高兴。我喜欢他那率直真诚的性格。而且就凭他在我心里唤起的回忆这一点,我觉得他是个可敬可亲的人。我向他奔了过去……
                
       “啊呀!”他低声说,皱了皱眉头。“是您哪,年轻人!让我瞧瞧您。您脸色仍然发黄,可是眼睛里毕竟没有以前那种邪气了。您看来象个大人了,不象一条看家狗。这很好。嗯,您怎么样?在埋头用功吗?
                
       我叹了一口气。我不愿扯谎,可我又不好意思说实话。
                
       “喂,没有关系,”卢申继续往下说,“别害怕。最重要的是应该过正常的生活,别沉醉在迷恋中。否则,有什么好处呢?不管浪头把您卷到哪儿去,还不是一样糟。一个人哪怕站在石头上,也要靠自己的两只脚站得稳。我要咳嗽一下……
                
       可是别洛夫佐罗夫的情况您听说过吗?”
                
       “怎么回事?没有听说过。”
                
       “他杳无音讯,不知去向了。据说,他到高加索去了。年轻人,这对您倒是个教训。全部问题在于不会及时抽身,冲破罗网。您似乎顺利地脱身了。要当心,可别再自投罗网了。再见。”
                
       “我不会陷进去了……”我心想。“我再也不会见到她了。”
                
       但是命中注定,我又一次见到了齐娜依达。
             

   
二十一


       我父亲每天骑着马出去。他有一匹棕灰色带斑纹的英国良种马,脖子又长又细,腿也很长,它不知疲劳,生性凶猛。
                
       大家管它叫爱列克特里克。除了父亲,谁也无法骑它。有一次父亲情绪很好地来到我跟前,他好久没有这样高兴过,他准备骑马出去,已经戴上了马刺。我请求他带我一起去。
                
       “那我们最好玩跳背游戏,”父亲回答我说,“否则你骑着自己那匹德国马,是跟不上我的。”
                
       “我会跟上的,我也把马刺戴上。”
                
       “嗯,那也好。”
                
       我们出发了。我骑着一匹黑色长毛矮种马,四腿粗壮有力,跑得相当快。诚然,当爱列克特里克快速奔驰的时候,它就不得不拚命地赶了。可我毕竟没有落在后面。我没有见过像我父亲那样的骑手;他骑在马上显得那么英俊、那么潇洒、那么灵活,甚至连他的坐骑似乎也有这种感觉,并且,还以他为荣呢。我们跑过了所有的林荫道,来到了一片少女地,还跳过了几道栅栏(开头我不敢跳过去,可是父亲瞧不起胆小的人,于是我不再害怕了),两次涉过莫斯科河,我还以我们要回家了,何况父亲说我的马累了,可他忽然掉转马头离开了我,折向克里米亚浅滩那边,并且沿着河岸疾驰而去。我在后面拚命地追赶他。当跑到了一个堆得很高的旧木料堆跟前时,他倏地从爱列克特里克的鞍子上跳了下来,叫我也下马,他把自己的马缰绳交给了我。要我在木料旁边等他,而他自己却拐进一条小巷不见了。我牵着两匹马,沿着河岸走来走去,嘴里骂着爱列克特里克。它一边走,一边不时地遥晃脑袋,抖动着身子,喷着鼻息,尖声嘶叫:等到我站住了,它就用蹄子轮流地刨土,还咬那匹德国马的脖子,刺耳地嘶鸣着,总之,它处处显示自己是一匹被惯坏了的pursang。父亲还没有回来。河面上冒出一股令人难受的潮气;天空中悄悄地下起了#?飨赣辏在那些我感到非常厌恶的、笨重的?木料上面出现了许多小黑点(我在那些木料旁边走来走去,好多次了)。我烦躁不安,可是父亲还没有回来。一个芬兰族岗警,浑身也是灰朴朴的、头上戴着一顶样子像瓦罐似的很大的旧高筒军帽,手持一根长柄戟(我心想:莫斯科河河岸上为什么要设岗!),走到我身边来了,他把那张老太婆似的、满是皱纹的脸朝着我,低声说道:
                
       “少爷,您牵着两匹马在这儿干什么?让我来替您牵着吧。”
                
       我没有答理他;他向我讨烟抽。为了摆脱他的纠缠(再说,我也等得不耐烦了),我朝父亲行进的方向走了几步;后来我穿过那条小巷,走到尽头,在拐角上转了一个弯,就站住了。我父亲背对着我站在街上一座小木屋的一扇打开的窗子跟前,离我约莫有四十步远,他把胸部靠在窗台上。在那座小房子里坐着一个穿黑色连衫裙的女人,半个身子给窗帘遮住了。她正在跟父亲谈话,这个女人就是齐娜依达。
                
       我愣住了。说真的,这件事我怎么也没有料到。我第一步就打算逃开。“父亲会回过头来的,”我心想,“那我就糟了……”可是一种古怪的情感,一种比好奇心更强烈,甚至比妒忌、比恐惧强烈的情感,阻止了我。我开始观察着,聚精会神地细听着。父亲好象坚持着什么主张。齐娜依达不同意。
                
       她那张脸现在还历历在目。这是一张忧郁、严肃、俏丽的脸,脸上流露出无法用笔墨形容的忠贞不渝、悲伤、爱恋,以及某种失望的神情,我简直找不出别的字眼来描绘了。她说的都是些单音节的字,她没有抬起眼来,只是莞尔微笑——顺从地、固执地微笑着。单凭这一微笑,我就认出了我那从前的齐娜依达。父亲耸了耸肩。整了整头上的帽子——这些动作一直是他表示极不耐烦的特征……接着我听到了这句话:
                
       “VousdeezvoussÚparerdecette……”齐娜依爱达挺直了身子,伸出一条胳膊……忽然在我的眼前发生了一件令人不可思议的事:父亲忽然举起那条他用来拍掉自己常礼服下摆上灰尘的短皮鞭,接着我听到了他在她那裸露到臂肘的胳膊上猛地一抽的鞭打声。我勉强地忍住了。没有喊叫起来,可是齐娜依达全身一震,默默地瞥了一下我的父亲,慢慢地把自己那条胳膊举到了唇边,吻了一下胳膊上那条发红的鞭痕。
                
       父亲把那条短皮鞭扔在一边,急忙跑上台阶冲进木屋里去了……齐娜依达转过身去,张开两臂,把头向一后一仰,也从窗口走开了……
                
       我惊呆了,连气都喘不过来,心里怀着困惑莫解的恐惧跑回去了。我穿过了小巷(差点儿把爱列克特里克放走了)返回到河岸上。我什么都弄不清楚。我知道我那一向冷静沉着的父亲有时也会大发脾气,但是我毕竟怎么也无法理解我所看到的这一情景……可我这时还感觉到,不管我活多久,要我忘记齐娜依达的这一动作、她的目光和微笑是永远也不可能了。她的形象,这个新的、突然呈现在我的眼前的形象,永远铭刻在我心上了。我茫然望着河面、眼泪不知不觉地涌了出来。“她挨打啦,”我心想,“挨打啦……挨打啦……”“喂,你怎么啦,把马给我牵来!”在我身后响起了父亲的声音。
                
       我机械地把缰绳交给了他。他一纵身就骑上了爱列克特里克……这匹冻僵了的马举起了前蹄,向前跳了一个俄丈半……可是父亲很快就制服了它;他用马刺刺了一下它的腹部,拿拳头揍了一下它的脖子……“哎哟!短皮鞭没有了,”他嘟哝了一句。
                
       我起记了刚才这条短皮鞭的刺耳的抽打声,不禁哆嗦了一下。
                
       “您把它放在哪儿去了?”过了一会儿,我问父亲。
                
       父亲没有回答我,他策马往前疾驰而去。我赶了上去。我一定要看看他的脸色。
                
       “我不在,你觉得无聊吧?”这句话从他的牙缝里迸了出来。
                
       “有点儿。你把自己的短皮鞭失落在哪儿了?”我又问他。
                
       父亲倏地瞥了我一眼。
                
       “我没有失落,”他低声说,“我把它扔了。”
                
       他沉思起来了,低下了头……这当儿我第一次,几乎也是最后一次看他到那严肃面孔能够流露出多少温柔和怜惜之情。
                
       他又疾驰而去,我再也迫不上他了。我比他迟了一刻钟才回到家里。
                
       “这就是爱情嘛,”夜里我坐在已经开始摆上笔记本和书籍的写字台前面,又自言自语地说道,“这就是热烈的爱情。一般说来,遭到不管什么人的鞭打……或是最亲爱的人的鞭打,怎么能不气愤,怎么能忍受得了呢!但看来是可能的,假如你产生了爱情……可我呢,我就想象着……”最近一个月来,我老练得多了,我觉得我那蕴涵着各种激动情绪和痛苦的爱情同另一种我所不知道的,几乎无法想像到的,而且像一张我竭力想在朦胧中看清楚,但却未能如愿以偿的美丽而威严的陌生面孔那样使我害怕的东西比起来,我发现我的爱情竟然如此渺小,如此幼稚,如此可怜!
                
       当天夜里我做了个奇怪而又可怕的恶梦。我梦见自己走进一间低矮而昏暗的屋子……父亲手里拿一条短皮鞭站在那里,还不时地跺着脚;齐娜依达紧挨着角落——一条发红的鞭痕不是在她的胳膊上,而是在她的额头上……浑身鲜血淋淋的别洛夫佐罗夫在他们俩背后站了起来,他张开着苍白的嘴唇,愤怒地威吓着父亲。
                
       两个月后我上大学了。又过了半年我的父亲在彼得堡(因中风)去世,他跟母亲和我刚搬到那儿,在他去世前几天,他收到了一封从莫斯科寄来的信,这封信使他异常激动……
                
       他向母亲去请求过什么,据说,他——我的父亲——甚至哭了!他在中风那天早晨,还用法语给我写信,只是刚起头:
                
       “我的孩子,”他在信上给我写道,“对女人的爱情,对这种幸福,对这种有害的东西你要存有戒心……”他去世以后,母亲寄了一笔数目相当可观的钱到莫斯科去。
              

  
二十二


       四年过去了。我刚从大学毕业,还不大知道我应该做什么,从何着手,应该从事哪一种工作,眼下我还闲着,无事可干。有一天傍晚,天气很好,我在剧院里遇见了马依达诺夫,他已经结婚了,有了差事,可我看不出他身上有什么变化。他还是那样莫名其妙地一会儿兴高采烈,一会儿又那么出乎意外地沮丧起来。
                
       “您可知道,”他对我说,“顺便告诉你一下,多尔斯基太太在这儿。”
                
       “哪个多尔斯基太太?”
                
       “难道您忘了吗?就是以前那位公爵小姐扎谢金娜,我们都热恋过她,您也不例外。您可记得涅斯库奇内公园附近的那座别墅吗?”
                
       “她嫁给了多尔斯基?”
                
       “对呀。”
                
       “她在这儿吧吗?在剧院里?”
                
       “不,她在彼提堡,几天前她才到这儿,打算出国去。”
                
       “她的丈夫是个什么样的人?”我问道。
                
       “一个非常好的年轻人,很有钱。是我在莫斯科时候的同事。您可知道,自从发生了那场风波以后……这一切您一定知道得很清楚(马依达诺夫意味深长地笑了笑)……她好不容易为自己物色到一个丈夫;总算有了归宿……不过凭她的聪明才智,一切都是能办到的。您上她那儿去走走吧,她见到您一定会很高兴的。她比以前更漂亮了。”
                
       马依达诺夫给了我齐娜依达的地址。她住在迪米尤思旅馆。旧日的回忆在我心头涌了起来……我决定第二天去拜访我从前的“恋人”。可是碰上了一些事情,耽搁了一星期,又耽搁了一星期,后来我终于到迪米尤思旅馆去了,我在打听多尔斯基太太的时候,这才知道她四天前几乎是突然因难产而去世了。
                
       我心里仿佛有个东西撞击了一下。我本来能够见到她,但没有见到她,往后我永远也见不到她了——这个念头,这个令人痛苦的念头狠狠地、令人无法反驳地责备着我,深深地刺痛了我的心。“她死了!”我呆呆地望着看门人,又说了一遍,就慢腾腾地走出旅馆,来到街上,自己也不知道往哪儿走。一切往事都一下子浮现在我的眼前了。原来那年轻的、热情奔放的、光辉灿烂的生命就这样结束了!原来这就是她急切而不安地努力追求的目标吗?我这样想着,我想象着那可爱的面容、那双眼睛、那头鬈发如今都安放在埋葬在黑暗而潮湿的地底下的一具狭窄的棺木里了。——就在这儿,离现在还活着的我不远,也许离我父亲也只有几步路……我想着这一切,我全神贯注地想象着,而同时从那生疏冷漠的嘴里我得了她死亡的噩耗,我也生疏冷漠地听着这一消息……这些诗句在我心灵里听响了起来。啊,青春啊!青春!你什么都不关心,仿佛你拥有宇宙间的一切宝藏,甚至忧愁也使你感到安慰,甚至悲伤对你也很适用,你自信而又果断,你说:看哪,只有我才活着!你的日子一天天流逝着,消失得不留一丝痕迹,数量之多无法计算。你身上的一切宛如阳光下的蜡和雪一般……慢慢在溶化,或许你的魅力的全部奥秘不在于你能做一切,而在于你能够认为一切我都能做到:——也正是在于我们每个人都认真地以为自己是个浪费者,认真地以为自己有权利说:“啊,要是我不白白地浪费了时间,那我什么都能做得到!”
                
       就拿我来说吧……当我仅仅用叹息声和凄凉的心情好不容易地送走我那昙花一现的初恋的幻影时,我指望过什么吗?
       我期待过什么吗?我预见过什么辉煌的前程吗?
       我所希望的一切有多少实现了呢?现在,当黄昏的阴影已经开始笼罩我的生命的时候,对于我来说还有什么比那飞快地消逝的晨雨春雷的回忆更新鲜、更珍贵的呢?
                
       可是我何必诽谤自己呢。当时,在那不知忧虑的青年时代,对那向我呼吁的悲伤的声音,对那从坟墓里传来的庄严的声音,我并不是兖耳不闻、无动于衷的。我记得,在我得悉齐娜依达噩耗那天之后,又过了几天,我在一种不可克制的感情冲动下自愿去吊唁跟我们同住在一所宅子里的一个贫苦的老妇人。她身上盖看破烂儿,躺在坚硬的木板上,头下枕着一只布袋,死得很困难,也很痛苦。她一辈子为每天的生活而痛苦地挣扎着。她既不知道欢乐,也没有尝过幸福的甜味——由此看来,她怎么会不乐于一死,不乐于解脱和安息呢?然而当这个老妇人的衰老的身体还在硬撑着,她那有一只冰冷的手压在上面的胸脯)还在痛苦地起伏着,她还没有丧失掉最后一丝力气的时候,——她还一直在划十字,还在不断地低声说,“上帝啊,宽恕我的罪孽吧……”她眼睛里那害怕死亡的恐惧表情只是随着意识的最后几朵火花的熄灭而消失的……我记得就在这儿,在那贫苦的老妇人的床边,我替齐娜依达担忧起来,我要为她、为父亲、也为我自己而祈祷了。
                
       1860年
      
      

         


 

网站首页 (Homepage)                                   前页(Previous Page)                                             下页(Next Page)                                     返回 (Return)

 

 

       分类:             国芳多语对照文库 >> 俄语-英语 >> 屠格涅夫 >> 中短篇小说      
    Categories:  Xie's Multilingual Corpus >> Russian-English >> Turgenev >> Short Story                                                  
    

 

 



                              Copyright ę 2001-2012 by Guofang Xie.    All Rights Reserved. 

                   谢国芳(Roy Xie)版权所有  ę 2001-2012.   一切权利保留。
浙ICP备11050697号