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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOn The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 19
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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 19 Post by :astoller Category :Long Stories Author :Ivan Turgenev Date :May 2012 Read :2556

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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 19

Chapter XIX

An 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 slight
disorder; 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 and
half hidden under the lids; they, too, were smiling. She could scarcely
move for weariness, and this weariness was pleasant to her; everything,
indeed, was pleasant to her. Everything seemed sweet and friendly to
her. Uvar Ivanovitch was sitting at the window; she went up to him, laid
her hand on his shoulder, stretched a little, and involuntarily, as it
seemed, she laughed.

'What is it?' he inquired, astonished.

She did not know what to say. She felt inclined to kiss Uvar Ivanovitch.

'How he splashed!' she explained at last.

But Uvar Ivanovitch did not stir a muscle, and continued to look with
amazement at Elena. She dropped her hat and cape on to him.

'Dear Uvar Ivanovitch,' she said, 'I am sleepy and tired,' and again she
laughed and sank into a low chair near him.

'H'm,' grunted Uvar Ivanovitch, flourishing his fingers, 'then you
ought--yes----'

Elena was looking round her and thinking, 'From all this I soon must
part... and strange--I have no dread, no doubt, no regret.... No, I am
sorry for mamma.' Then the little chapel rose again before her mind,
again her voice was echoing in it, and she felt his arms about her.
Joyously, though faintly, her heart fluttered; weighed down by the
languor of happiness. The old beggar-woman recurred to her mind. 'She
did really bear away my sorrow,' she thought. 'Oh, how happy I am! how
undeservedly! how soon!' If she had let herself go in the least she
would have melted into sweet, endless tears. She could only restrain
them by laughing. Whatever attitude she fell into seemed to her the
easiest, most comfortable possible; she felt as if she were being rocked
to sleep. All her movements were slow and soft; what had become of her
awkwardness, her haste? Zoya came in; Elena decided that she had never
seen a more charming little face; Anna Vassilyevna came in; Elena felt a
pang--but with what tenderness she embraced her mother and kissed her on
the forehead near the hair, already slightly grey! Then she went away to
her own room; how everything smiled upon her there! With what a sense
of shamefaced triumph and tranquillity she sat down on her bed--the very
bed on which, only three hours ago, she had spent such bitter moments!
'And yet, even then, I knew he loved me,' she thought, 'even before...
Ah, no! it's a sin. You are my wife,' she whispered, hiding her face in
her hands and falling on her knees.

Towards the evening, she grew more thoughtful. Sadness came upon her at
the thought that she would not soon see Insarov. He could not without
awakening suspicion remain at Bersenyev's, and so this was what he and
Elena had resolved on. Insarov was to return to Moscow and to come over
to visit them twice before the autumn; on her side she promised to write
him letters, and, if it were possible, to arrange a meeting with him
somewhere near Kuntsov. She went down to the drawing-room to tea, and
found there all the household and Shubin, who looked at her sharply
directly she came in; she tried to talk to him in a friendly way as of
old, but she dreaded his penetration, she was afraid of herself. She
felt sure that there was good reason for his having left her alone
for more than a fortnight. Soon Bersenyev arrived, and gave Insarov's
respects to Anna Vassilyevna with an apology for having gone back to
Moscow without calling to take leave of her. Insarov's name was for the
first time during the day pronounced before Elena. She felt that she
reddened; she realised at the same time that she ought to express regret
at the sudden departure of such a pleasant acquaintance; but she could
not force herself to hypocrisy, and continued to sit without stirring
or speaking, while Anna Vassilyevna sighed and lamented. Elena tried to
keep near Bersenyev; she was not afraid of him, though he even knew
part of her secret; she was safe under his wing from Shubin, who still
persisted in staring at her--not mockingly but attentively. Bersenyev,
too, was thrown into perplexity during the evening: he had expected to
see Elena more gloomy. Happily for her, an argument sprang up about art
between him and Shubin; she moved apart and heard their voices as it
were through a dream. By degrees, not only they, but the whole room,
everything surrounding her, seemed like a dream--everything: the samovar
on the table, and Uvar Ivanovitch's short waistcoat, and Zoya's polished
finger-nails, and the portrait in oils of the Grand Duke Constantine
Pavlovitch on the wall; everything retreated, everything was wrapped
in mist, everything ceased to exist. Only she felt sorry for them all.
'What are they living for?' she thought.

'Are you sleepy, Lenotchka?' her mother asked her. She did not hear the
question.

'A half untrue insinuation, do you say?' These words, sharply uttered by
Shubin, suddenly awakened Elena's attention. 'Why,' he continued, 'the
whole sting lies in that. A true insinuation makes one wretched--that's
unchristian--and to an untrue insinuation a man is indifferent--that's
stupid, but at a half true one he feels vexed and impatient. For
instance, if I say that Elena Nikolaevna is in love with one of us, what
sort of insinuation would that be, eh?'

'Ah, Monsieur Paul,' said Elena, 'I should like to show myself vexed,
but really I can't. I am so tired.'

'Why don't you go to bed?' observed Anna Vassilyevna, who was always
drowsy in the evening herself, and consequently always eager to send
the others to bed. 'Say good-night to me, and go in God's name; Andrei
Petrovitch will excuse you.'

Elena kissed her mother, bowed to all and went away. Shubin accompanied
her to the door. 'Elena Nikolaevna,' he whispered to her in the doorway,
'you trample on Monsieur Paul, you mercilessly walk over him, but
Monsieur Paul blesses you and your little feet, and the slippers on your
little feet, and the soles of your little slippers.'

Elena shrugged her shoulders, reluctantly held out her hand to him--not
the one Insarov had kissed--and going up to her room, at once undressed,
got into bed, and fell asleep. She slept a deep, unstirring sleep, as
even children rarely sleep--the sleep of a child convalescent after
sickness, when its mother sits near its cradle and watches it, and
listens to its breathing.

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