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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOn The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 26
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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 26 Post by :dannyboy Category :Long Stories Author :Ivan Turgenev Date :May 2012 Read :1420

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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 26

Chapter XXVI

For eight whole days Insarov lay between life and death. The doctor was
incessantly visiting him, interested as a young man in a difficult case.
Shubin heard of Insarov's critical position, and made inquiries after
him. His compatriots--Bulgarians--came; among them Bersenyev recognised
the two strange figures, who had puzzled him by their unexpected visit
to the cottage; they all showed genuine sympathy, some offered to take
Bersenyev's place by the patient's bed-side; but he would not consent
to that, remembering his promise to Elena. He saw her every day and
secretly reported to her--sometimes by word of mouth, sometimes in a
brief note--every detail of the illness. With what sinkings of the heart
she awaited him, how she listened and questioned him! She was always on
the point of hastening to Insarov herself; but Bersenyev begged her not
to do this: Insarov was seldom alone. On the first day she knew of his
illness she herself had almost fallen ill; directly she got home,
she shut herself up in her room; but she was summoned to dinner, and
appeared in the dining-room with such a face that Anna Vassilyevna was
alarmed, and was anxious to put her to bed. Elena succeeded, however, in
controlling herself. 'If he dies,' she repeated, 'it will be the end
of me too.' This thought tranquillised her, and enabled her to seem
indifferent. Besides no one troubled her much; Anna Vassilyevna was
taken up with her swollen face; Shubin was working furiously; Zoya
was given up to pensiveness, and disposed to read _Werther_; Nikolai
Artemyevitch was much displeased at the frequent visits of 'the
scholar,' especially as his 'cherished projects' in regard to
Kurnatovsky were making no way; the practical chief secretary was
puzzled and biding his time. Elena did not even thank Bersenyev; there
are services for which thanks are cruel and shameful. Only once at her
fourth interview with him--Insarov had passed a very bad night, the
doctor had hinted at a consultation--only then she reminded him of his
promise. 'Very well, then let us go,' he said to her. She got up and
was going to get ready. 'No,' he decided, 'let us wait till to-morrow.'
Towards evening Insarov was rather better.

For eight days this torture was prolonged. Elena appeared calm; but she
could eat nothing, and did not sleep at night. There was a dull ache in
all her limbs; her head seemed full of a sort of dry burning smoke. 'Our
young lady's wasting like a candle,' her maid said of her.

At last by the ninth day the crisis was passing over. Elena was sitting
in the drawing-room near Anna Vassilyevna, and, without knowing herself
what she was doing, was reading her the _Moscow Gazette_; Bersenyev came
in. Elena glanced at him--how rapid, and fearful, and penetrating, and
tremulous, was the first glance she turned on him every time--and at
once she guessed that he brought good news. He was smiling; he nodded
slightly to her, she got up to go and meet him.

'He has regained consciousness, he is saved, he will be quite well again
in a week,' he whispered to her.

Elena had stretched out her arm as though to ward off a blow, and she
said nothing, only her lips trembled and a flush of crimson overspread
her whole face. Bersenyev began to talk to Anna Vassilyevna, and Elena
went off to her own room, dropped on her knees and fell to praying, to
thanking God. Light, shining tears trickled down her cheeks. Suddenly
she was conscious of intense weariness, laid her head down on the
pillow, whispered 'poor Andrei Petrovitch!' and at once fell asleep with
wet eheeks and eyelashes. It was long since she had slept or wept.

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Chapter XXVIIBersenyev's words turned out only partly true; the danger was over,but Insarov gained strength slowly, and the doctor talked of a completeundermining of the whole system. The patient left his bed for allthat, and began to walk about the room; Bersenyev went home to his ownlodging, but he came every day to his still feeble friend; and every dayas before he informed Elena of the state of his health. Insarov didnot dare to write to her, and only indirectly in his conversations withBersenyev referred to her; but Bersenyev, with assumed carelessness,told him about his visits to the Stahovs, trying, however,
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Chapter XXIINo one in the house of the retired lieutenant of guards, Stahov, hadever seen him so sour, and at the same time so self-confident andimportant as on that day. He walked into the drawing-room in hisovercoat and hat, with long deliberate stride, stamping with his heels;he approached the looking-glass and took a long look at himself,shaking his head and biting his lips with imperturbable severity. AnnaVassilyevna met him with obvious agitation and secret delight (she nevermet him otherwise); he did not even take off his hat, nor greet her, andin silence gave Elena his doe-skin glove to kiss. Anna Vassilyevna
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