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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOn The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 18
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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 18 Post by :astoller Category :Long Stories Author :Ivan Turgenev Date :May 2012 Read :939

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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 18

Chapter XVIII

Elena walked with her head bent and her eyes fixed straight before her.
She feared nothing, she considered nothing; she wanted to see Insarov
once more. She went on, not noticing that the sun had long ago
disappeared behind heavy black clouds, that the wind was roaring by
gusts in the trees and blowing her dress about her, that the dust had
suddenly risen and was flying in a cloud along the road.... Large drops
of rain were falling, she did not even notice it; but it fell faster
and heavier, there were flashes of lightning and peals of thunder. Elena
stood still looking round.... Fortunately for her, there was a little
old broken-down chapel that had been built over a disused well not far
from the place where she was overtaken by the storm. She ran to it
and got under the low roof. The rain fell in torrents; the sky was
completely overcast. In dumb despair Elena stared at the thick network
of fast-falling drops. Her last hope of getting a sight of Insarov
was vanishing. A little old beggar-woman came into the chapel, shook
herself, said with a curtsy: 'Out of the rain, good lady,' and with many
sighs and groans sat down on a ledge near the well. Elena put her hand
into her pocket; the old woman noticed this action and a light came into
her face, yellow and wrinkled now, though once handsome. 'Thank you,
dear gracious lady,' she was beginning. There happened to be no purse in
Elena's pocket, but the old woman was still holding out her hand.

'I have no money, grannie,' said Elena, 'but here, take this, it will be
of use for something.'

She gave her her handkerchief.

'O-oh, my pretty lady,' said the beggar, 'what do you give your
handkerchief to me for? For a wedding-present to my grandchild when
she's married? God reward you for your goodness!'

A peal of thunder was heard.

'Lord Jesus Christ,' muttered the beggar-woman, and she crossed herself
three times. 'Why, haven't I seen you before,' she added after a brief
pause. 'Didn't you give me alms in Christ's name?'

Elena looked more attentively at the old woman and recognised her.

'Yes, grannie,' she answered, 'wasn't it you asked me why I was so

'Yes, darling, yes. I fancied I knew you. And I think you've a
heart-ache still. You seem in trouble now. Here's your handkerchief,
too, wet from tears to be sure. Oh, you young people, you all have the
same sorrow, a terrible woe it is!'

'What sorrow, grannie?'

'Ah, my good young lady, you can't deceive an old woman like me. I know
what your heart is heavy over; your sorrow's not an uncommon one. Sure,
I have been young too, darling. I have been through that trouble too.
Yes. And I'll tell you something, for your goodness to me; you've won
a good man, not a light of love, you cling to him alone; cling to him
stronger than death. If it comes off, it comes off,--if not, it's in
God's hands. Yes. Why are you wondering at me? I'm a fortune-teller.
There, I'll carry away your sorrow with your handkerchief. I'll carry it
away, and it's over. See the rain's less; you wait a little longer. It's
not the first time I've been wet. Remember, darling; you had a sorrow,
the sorrow has flown, and there's no memory of it. Good Lord, have mercy
on us!'

The beggar-woman got up from the edge of the well, went out of
the chapel, and stole off on her way. Elena stared after her in
bewilderment. 'What does this mean?' she murmured involuntarily.

The rain grew less and less, the sun peeped out for an instant. Elena
was just preparing to leave her shelter.... Suddenly, ten paces from the
chapel, she saw Insarov. Wrapt in a cloak he was walking along the very
road by which Elena had come; he seemed to be hurrying home.

She clasped the old rail of the steps for support, and tried to call to
him, but her voice failed her... Insarov had already passed by without
raising his head.

'Dmitri Nikanorovitch!' she said at last.

Insarov stopped abruptly, looked round.... For the first minute he
did not know Elena, but he went up to her at once. 'You! you here!' he

She walked back in silence into the chapel. Insarov followed Elena. 'You
here?' he repeated.

She was still silent, and only gazed upon him with a strange, slow,
tender look. He dropped his eyes.

'You have come from our house?' she asked.

'No... not from your house.'

'No?' repeated Elena, and she tried to smile. 'Is that how you keep your
promises? I have been expecting you ever since the morning.'

'I made no promise yesterday, if you remember, Elena Nikolaevna.'

Again Elena faintly smiled, and she passed her hand over her face. Both
face and hands were very white.

'You meant, then, to go away without saying good-bye to us?'

'Yes,' replied Insarov in a surly, thick voice.

'What? After our friendship, after the talks, after everything.... Then
if I had not met you here by chance.' (Elena's voice began to break, and
she paused an instant)... 'you would have gone away like that, without
even shaking hands for the last time, and you would not have cared?'

Insarov turned away. 'Elena Nikolaevnas don't talk like that, please.
I'm not over happy as it is. Believe me, my decision has cost me great
effort. If you knew----'

'I don't want to know,' Elena interposed with dismay, 'why you are
going.... It seems it's necessary. It seems we must part. You would not
wound your friends without good reason. But, can friends part like this?
And we are friends, aren't we?'

'No,' said Insarov.

'What?' murmured Elena. Her cheeks were overspread with a faint flush.

'That's just why I am going away--because we are not friends. Don't
force me into saying what I don't want to say, and what I won't say.'

'You used to be so open with me,' said Elena rather reproachfully. 'Do
you remember?'

'I used to be able to be open, then I had nothing to conceal; but

'But now?' queried Elena.

'But now... now I must go away. Goodbye.'

If, at that instant, Insarov had lifted his eyes to Elena, he would have
seen that her face grew brighter and brighter as he frowned and looked
gloomy; but he kept his eyes obstinately fixed on the ground.

'Well, good-bye, Dmitri Nikanorovitch,' she began. 'But at least, since
we have met, give me your hand now.'

Insarov was stretching out his hand. 'No, I can't even do that,' he
said, and turned away again.

'You can't?'

'No, I can't. Good-bye.' And he moved away to the entrance of the

'Wait a little longer,' said Elena. 'You seem afraid of me. But I am
braver than you,' she added, a faint tremor passing suddenly over her
whole body. 'I can tell you... shall I?... how it was you found me here?
Do you know where I was going?'

Insarov looked in bewilderment at Elena,

'I was going to you.'

'To me?'

Elena hid her face. 'You mean to force me to say that I love you,' she
whispered. 'There, I have said it.'

'Elena!' cried Insarov.

She took his hands, looked at him, and fell on his breast.

He held her close to him, and said nothing. There was no need for him
to tell her he loved her. From that cry alone, from the instant
transformation of the whole man, from the heaving of the breast to which
she clung so confidingly, from the touch of his finger tips in her hair,
Elena could feel that she was loved. He did not speak, and she needed
no words. 'He is here, he loves me... what need of more?' The peace of
perfect bliss, the peace of the harbour reached after storm, of the end
attained, that heavenly peace which gives significance and beauty even
to death, filled her with its divine flood. She desired nothing, for she
had gained all. 'O my brother, my friend, my dear one!' her lips were
whispering, while she did not know whose was this heart, his or her own,
which beat so blissfully, and melted against her bosom.

He stood motionless, folding in his strong embrace the young life
surrendered to him; he felt against his heart this new, infinitely
precious burden; a passion of tenderness, of gratitude unutterable, was
crumbling his hard will to dust, and tears unknown till now stood in his

She did not weep; she could only repeat, 'O my friend, my brother!'

'So you will follow me everywhere?' he said to her, a quarter of an hour
later, still enfolding her and keeping her close to him in his arms.

'Everywhere, to the ends of the earth. Where you are, I will be.'

'And you are not deceiving yourself, you know your parents will never
consent to our marriage?'

'I don't deceive myself; I know that.'

'You know that I'm poor--almost a beggar.'

'I know.'

'That I'm not a Russian, that it won't be my fate to live in Russia,
that you will have to break all your ties with your country, with your

'I know, I know.'

'Do you know, too, that I have given myself up to a difficult, thankless
cause, that I... that we shall have to expose ourselves not to dangers
only, but to privation, humiliation, perhaps----'

'I know, I know all--I love you----'

'That you will have to give up all you are accustomed to, that out there
alone among strangers, you will be forced perhaps to work----'

She laid her hand on his lips. 'I love you, my dear one.'

He began hotly kissing her slender, rosy hand. Elena did not draw it
away from his lips, and with a kind of childish delight, with smiling
curiosity, watched how he covered with kisses, first the palm, then the

All at once she blushed and hid her face upon his breast.

He lifted her head tenderly and looked steadily into her eyes. 'Welcome,
then, my wife, before God and men!'

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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 19 On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 19

On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 19
Chapter XIXAn hour later, Elena, with her hat in one hand, her cape in the other,walked slowly into the drawing-room of the villa. Her hair was in slightdisorder; on each cheek was to be seen a small bright spot of colour,the smile would not leave her lips, her eyes were nearly shutting andhalf hidden under the lids; they, too, were smiling. She could scarcelymove for weariness, and this weariness was pleasant to her; everything,indeed, was pleasant to her. Everything seemed sweet and friendly toher. Uvar Ivanovitch was sitting at the window; she went up to him, laidher hand on his shoulder,

On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 17 On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 17

On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 17
Chapter XVIIOn the very day on which Elena had written this last fatal line inher diary, Insarov was sitting in Bersenyev's room, and Bersenyev wasstanding before him with a look of perplexity on his face. Insarov hadjust announced his intention of returning to Moscow the next day.'Upon my word!' cried Bersenyev. 'Why, the finest part of the summer isjust beginning. What will you do in Moscow? What a sudden decision! Orhave you had news of some sort?''I have had no news,' replied Insarov; 'but on thinking things over, Ifind I cannot stop here.''How can that be?''Andrei Petrovitch,' said Insarov, 'be so