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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOn The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 11
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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 11 Post by :astoller Category :Long Stories Author :Ivan Turgenev Date :May 2012 Read :3137

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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 11

Chapter XI

Two days later, Insarov in accordance with his promise arrived at
Bersenyev's with his luggage. He had no servant; but without any
assistance he put his room to rights, arranged the furniture, dusted and
swept the floor. He had special trouble with the writing table, which
would not fit into the recess in the wall assigned for it; but Insarov,
with the silent persistence peculiar to him succeeded in getting his own
way with it. When he had settled in, he asked Bersenyev to let him pay
him ten roubles in advance, and arming himself with a thick stick, set
off to inspect the country surrounding his new abode. He returned three
hours later; and in response to Bersenyev's invitation to share his
repast, he said that he would not refuse to dine with him that day, but
that he had already spoken to the woman of the house, and would get her
to send him up his meals for the future.

'Upon my word!' said Bersenyev, 'you will fare very badly; that old body
can't cook a bit. Why don't you dine with me, we would go halves over
the cost.'

'My means don't allow me to dine as you do,' Insarov replied with a
tranquil smile.

There was something in that smile which forbade further insistence;
Bersenyev did not add a word. After dinner he proposed to Insarov that
he should take him to the Stahovs; but he replied that he had intended
to devote the evening to correspondence with his Bulgarians, and so
he would ask him to put off the visit to the Stahovs till next day.
Bersenyev was already familiar with Insarov's unbending will; but it
was only now when he was under the same roof with him, that he fully
realised at last that Insarov would never alter any decision, just in
the same way as he would never fail to carry out a promise he had
given; to Bersenyev--a Russian to his fingertips--this more than German
exactitude seemed at first odd, and even rather ludicrous; but he soon
got used to it, and ended by finding it--if not deserving of respect--at
least very convenient.

The second day after his arrival, Insarov got up at four o'clock in the
morning, made a round of almost all Kuntsovo, bathed in the river, drank
a glass of cold milk, and then set to work. And he had plenty of work
to do; he was studying Russian history and law, and political economy,
translating the Bulgarian ballads and chronicles, collecting materials
on the Eastern Question, and compiling a Russian grammar for the use of
Bulgarians, and a Bulgarian grammar for the use of Russians. Bersenyev
went up to him and began to discuss Feuerbach. Insarov listened
attentively, made few remarks, but to the point; it was clear from his
observations that he was trying to arrive at a conclusion as to whether
he need study Feuerbach, or whether he could get on without him.
Bersenyev turned the conversation on to his pursuits, and asked him if
he could not show him anything. Insarov read him his translation of two
or three Bulgarian ballads, and was anxious to hear his opinion of them.
Bersenyev thought the translation a faithful one, but not sufficiently
spirited. Insarov paid close attention to his criticism. From the
ballads Bersenyev passed on to the present position of Bulgaria, and
then for the first time he noticed what a change came over Insarov at
the mere mention of his country: not that his face flushed nor his
voice grew louder--no! but at once a sense of force and intense onward
striving was expressed in his whole personality, the lines of his mouth
grew harder and less flexible, and a dull persistent fire glowed in the
depths of his eyes. Insarov did not care to enlarge on his own travels
in his country; but of Bulgaria in general he talked readily with any
one. He talked at length of the Turks, of their oppression, of
the sorrows and disasters of his countrymen, and of their hopes:
concentrated meditation on a single ruling passion could be heard in
every word he uttered.

'Ah, well, there's no mistake about it,' Bersenyev was reflecting
meanwhile, 'that Turkish aga, I venture to think, has been punished for
his father's and mother's death.'

Insarov had not had time to say all he wanted to say, when the door
opened and Shubin made his appearance.

He came into the room with an almost exaggerated air of ease and
good-humour; Bersenyev, who knew him well, could see at once that
something had been jarring on him.

'I will introduce myself without ceremony,' he began with a bright and
open expression on his face. 'My name is Shubin; I'm a friend of this
young man here' (he indicated Bersenyev). 'You are Mr. Insarov, of
course, aren't you?'

'I am Insarov.'

'Then give me your hand and let us be friends. I don't know if Bersenyev
has talked to you about me, but he has told me a great deal about you.
You are staying here? Capital! Don't be offended at my staring at you
so. I'm a sculptor by trade, and I foresee I shall in a little time be
begging your permission to model your head.'

'My head's at your service,' said Insarov.

'What shall we do to-day, eh?' began Shubin, sitting down suddenly on a
low chair, with his knees apart and his elbows propped on them. 'Andrei
Petrovitch, has your honour any kind of plan for to-day? It's glorious
weather; there's a scent of hay and dried strawberries as if one were
drinking strawberry-tea for a cold. We ought to get up some kind of
a spree. Let us show the new inhabitant of Kuntsov all its numerous
beauties.' (Something has certainly upset him, Bersenyev kept thinking
to himself.) 'Well, why art thou silent, friend Horatio? Open your
prophetic lips. Shall we go off on a spree, or not?'

'I don't know how Insarov feels,' observed Bersenyev. 'He is just
getting to work, I fancy.'

Shubin turned round on his chair.

'You want to work?' he inquired, in a somewhat condescending voice.

'No,' answered Insarov; 'to-day I could give up to walking.'

'Ah!' commented Shubin. 'Well, that's delightful. Run along, my friend,
Andrei Petrovitch, put a hat on your learned head, and let us go where
our eyes lead us. Our eyes are young--they may lead us far. I know a
very repulsive little restaurant, where they will give us a very beastly
little dinner; but we shall be very jolly. Come along.'

Half an hour later they were all three walking along the bank of the
Moskva. Insarov had a rather queer cap with flaps, over which Shubin
fell into not very spontaneous raptures. Insarov walked without
haste, and looked about, breathing, talking, and smiling with the same
tranquillity; he was giving this day up to pleasure, and enjoying it
to the utmost. 'Just as well-behaved boys walk out on Sundays,' Shubin
whispered in Bersenyev's ear. Shubin himself played the fool a great
deal, ran in front, threw himself into the attitudes of famous statues,
and turned somersaults on the grass; Insarov's tranquillity did not
exactly irritate him, but it spurred him on to playing antics. 'What
a fidget you are, Frenchman!' Bersenyev said twice to him. 'Yes, I am
French, half French,' Shubin answered, 'and you hold the happy medium
between jest and earnest, as a waiter once said to me.' The young men
turned away from the river and went along a deep and narrow ravine
between two walls of tall golden rye; a bluish shadow was cast on them
from the rye on one side; the flashing sunlight seemed to glide over the
tops of the ears; the larks were singing, the quails were calling: on
all sides was the brilliant green of the grass; a warm breeze stirred
and lifted the leaves and shook the heads of the flowers. After
prolonged wanderings, with rest and chat between (Shubin had even tried
to play leap-frog with a toothless peasant they met, who did nothing but
laugh, whatever the gentlemen might do to him), the young men reached
the 'repulsive little' restaurant: the waiter almost knocked each of
them over, and did really provide them with a very bad dinner with a
sort of Balkan wine, which did not, however, prevent them from being
very jolly, as Shubin had foretold; he himself was the loudest and the
least jolly. He drank to the health of the incomprehensible but great
_Venelin_, the health of the Bulgarian king Kuma, Huma, or Hroma, who
lived somewhere about the time of Adam.

'In the ninth century,' Insarov corrected him.

'In the ninth century?' cried Shubin. 'Oh, how delightful!'

Bersenyev noticed that among all his pranks, and jests and gaiety,
Shubin was constantly, as it were, examining Insarov; he was sounding
him and was in inward excitement, but Insarov remained as before, calm
and straightforward.

At last they returned home, changed their dress, and resolved to finish
the day as they had begun it, by going that evening to the Stahovs.
Shubin ran on before them to announce their arrival.

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