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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesOn The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 8
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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 8 Post by :astoller Category :Long Stories Author :Ivan Turgenev Date :May 2012 Read :1582

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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 8

Chapter VIII

On the evening of the same day, Anna Vassilyevna was sitting in her
drawing-room and was on the verge of weeping. There were also in the
room her husband and a certain Uvar Ivanovitch Stahov, a distant cousin
of Nikolai Artemyevitch, a retired cornet of sixty years old, a man
corpulent to the point of immobility, with sleepy yellowish eyes, and
colourless thick lips in a puffy yellow face. Ever since he had retired,
he had lived in Moscow on the interest of a small capital left him by
a wife who came of a shopkeeper's family. He did nothing, and it is
doubtful whether he thought of anything; if he did think, he kept his
thoughts to himself. Once only in his life he had been thrown into a
state of excitement and shown signs of animation, and that was when he
read in the newspapers of a new instrument at the Universal Exhibition
in London, the 'contro-bombardon,' and became very anxious to order this
instrument for himself, and even made inquiries as to where to send
the money and through what office. Uvar Ivanovitch wore a loose
snuff-coloured coat and a white neckcloth, used to eat often and much,
and in moments of great perplexity, that is to say when it happened to
him to express some opinion, he would flourish the fingers of his right
hand meditatively in the air, with a convulsive spasm from the first
finger to the little finger, and back from the little finger to the
first finger, while he articulated with effort, 'to be sure... there
ought to... in some sort of a way.'

Uvar Ivanovitch was sitting in an easy chair by the window, breathing
heavily; Nikolai Artemyevitch was pacing with long strides up and
down the room, his hands thrust into his pockets; his face expressed

He stood still at last and shook his head. 'Yes;' he began, 'in our
day young men were brought up differently. Young men did not permit
themselves to be lacking in respect to their elders. And nowadays, I can
only look on and wonder. Possibly, I am all wrong, and they are quite
right; possibly. But still I have my own views of things; I was not born
a fool. What do you think about it, Uvar Ivanovitch?'

Uvar Ivanovitch could only look at him and work his fingers.

'Elena Nikolaevna, for instance,' pursued Nikolai Artemyevitch, 'Elena
Nikolaevna I don't pretend to understand. I am not elevated enough for
her. Her heart is so large that it embraces all nature down to the least
spider or frog, everything in fact except her own father. Well, that's
all very well; I know it, and I don't trouble myself about it. For
that's nerves and education and lofty aspirations, and all that is not
in my line. But Mr. Shubin... admitting he's a wonderful artist--quite
exceptional--that, I don't dispute; to show want of respect to his
elder, a man to whom, at any rate, one may say he is under great
obligation; that I confess, _dans mon gros bon sens_, I cannot
pass over. I am not exacting by nature, no, but there is a limit to

Anna Vassilyevna rang the bell in a tremor. A little page came in.

'Why is it Pavel Yakovlitch does not come?' she said, 'what does it
mean; I call him, and he doesn't come?'

Nikolai Artemyevitch shrugged his shoulders.

'And what is the object, may I ask, of your wanting to send for him? I
don't expect that at all, I don't wish it even!'

'What's the object, Nikolai Artemyevitch? He has disturbed you; very
likely he has checked the progress of your cure. I want to have an
explanation with him. I want to know how he has dared to annoy you.'

'I tell you again, that I do not ask that. And what can induce you ...
_devant les domestiques_!'

Anna Vassilyevna flushed a little. 'You need not say that, Nikolai
Artemyevitch. I never... _devant les domestiques_... Fedushka, go and
see you bring Pavel Yakovlitch here at once.'

The little page went off.

'And that's absolutely unnecessary,' muttered Nikolai Artemyevitch
between his teeth, and he began again pacing up and down the room. 'I
did not bring up the subject with that object.'

'Good Heavens, Paul must apologise to you.'

'Good Heavens, what are his apologies to me? And what do you mean by
apologies? That's all words.'

'Why, he must be corrected.'

'Well, you can correct him yourself. He will listen to you sooner than
to me. For my part I bear him no grudge.'

'No, Nikolai Artemyevitch, you've not been yourself ever since you
arrived. You have even to my eyes grown thinner lately. I am afraid your
treatment is doing you no good.'

'The treatment is quite indispensable,' observed Nikolai Artemyevitch,
'my liver is affected.'

At that instant Shubin came in. He looked tired. A slight almost
ironical smile played on his lips.

'You asked for me, Anna Vassilyevna?' he observed.

'Yes, certainly I asked for you. Really, Paul, this is dreadful. I am
very much displeased with you. How could you be wanting in respect to
Nikolai Artemyevitch?'

'Nikolai Artemyevitch has complained of me to you?' inquired Shubin, and
with the same smile on his lips he looked at Stahov. The latter turned
away, dropping his eyes.

'Yes, he complains of you. I don't know what you have done amiss, but
you ought to apologise at once, because his health is very much deranged
just now, and indeed we all ought when we are young to treat our
benefactors with respect.'

'Ah, what logic!' thought Shubin, and he turned to Stahov. 'I am ready
to apologise to you, Nikolai Artemyevitch,' he said with a polite
half-bow, 'if I have really offended you in any way.'

'I did not at all... with that idea,' rejoined Nikolai Artemyevitch,
still as before avoiding Shubin's eyes. 'However, I will readily forgive
you, for, as you know, I am not an exacting person.'

'Oh, that admits of no doubt!' said Shubin. 'But allow me to be
inquisitive; is Anna Vassilyevna aware precisely what constituted my

'No, I know nothing,' observed Anna Vassilyevna, craning forward her
head expectantly.

'O Good Lord!' exclaimed Nikolai Artemyevitch hurriedly, 'how often have
I prayed and besought, how often have I said how I hate these scenes
and explanations! When one's been away an age, and comes home hoping for
rest--talk of the family circle, _interieur_, being a family man--and
here one finds scenes and unpleasantnesses. There's not a minute of
peace. One's positively driven to the club... or, or elsewhere. A man is
alive, he has a physical side, and it has its claims, but here----'

And without concluding his sentence Nikolai Artemyevitch went quickly
out, slamming the door.

Anna Vassilyevna looked after him. 'To the club!' she muttered bitterly:
'you are not going to the club, profligate? You've no one at the club
to give away my horses to--horses from my own stable--and the grey ones
too! My favourite colour. Yes, yes, fickle-hearted man,' she went on
raising her voice, 'you are not going to the club, As for you, Paul,'
she pursued, getting up, 'I wonder you're not ashamed. I should have
thought you would not be so childish. And now my head has begun to ache.
Where is Zoya, do you know?'

'I think she's upstairs in her room. The wise little fox always hides in
her hole when there's a storm in the air.'

'Come, please, please!' Anna Vassilyevna began searching about her.
'Haven't you seen my little glass of grated horse-radish? Paul, be so
good as not to make me angry for the future.'

'How make you angry, auntie? Give me your little hand to kiss. Your
horse-radish I saw on the little table in the boudoir.'

'Darya always leaves it about somewhere,' said Anna Vassilyevna, and she
walked away with a rustle of silk skirts.

Shubin was about to follow her, but he stopped on hearing Uvar
Ivanovitch's drawling voice behind him.

'I would... have given it you... young puppy,' the retired cornet
brought out in gasps.

Shubin went up to him. 'And what have I done, then, most venerable Uvar

'How! you are young, be respectful. Yes indeed.'

'Respectful to whom?'

'To whom? You know whom. Ay, grin away.'

Shubin crossed his arms on his breast.

'Ah, you type of the choice element in drama,' he exclaimed, 'you
primeval force of the black earth, cornerstone of the social fabric!'

Uvar Ivanovitch's fingers began to work. 'There, there, my boy, don't
provoke me.'

'Here,' pursued Shubin, 'is a gentleman, not young to judge by
appearances, but what blissful, child-like faith is still hidden in
him! Respect! And do you know, you primitive creature, what Nikolai
Artemyevitch was in a rage with me for? Why I spent the whole of this
morning with him at his German woman's; we were singing the three of
us--"Do not leave me." You should have heard us--that would have moved
you. We sang and sang, my dear sir--and well, I got bored; I could see
something was wrong, there was an alarming tenderness in the air. And
I began to tease them both. I was very successful. First she was angry
with me, then with him; and then he got angry with her, and told her
that he was never happy except at home, and he had a paradise there; and
she told him he had no morals; and I murmured "Ach!" to her in German.
He walked off and I stayed behind; he came here, to his paradise that's
to say, and he was soon sick of paradise, so he set to grumbling. Well
now, who do you consider was to blame?'

'You, of course,' replied Uvar Ivanovitch.

Shubin stared at him. 'May I venture to ask you, most reverend
knight-errant,' he began in an obsequious voice, 'these enigmatical
words you have deigned to utter as the result of some exercise of your
reflecting faculties, or under the influence of a momentary necessity to
start the vibration in the air known as sound?'

'Don't tempt me, I tell you,' groaned Uvar Ivanovitch.

Shubin laughed and ran away. 'Hi,' shouted Uvar Ivanovitch a quarter of
an hour later, 'you there... a glass of spirits.'

A little page brought the glass of spirits and some salt fish on a tray.
Uvar Ivanovitch slowly took the glass from the tray and gazed a long
while with intense attention at it, as though he could not quite
understand what it was he had in his hand. Then he looked at the page
and asked him, 'Wasn't his name Vaska?' Then he assumed an air of
resignation, drank off the spirit, munched the herring and was slowly
proceeding to get his handkerchief out of his pocket. But the page had
long ago carried off and put away the tray and the decanter, eaten up
the remains of the herring and had time to go off to sleep, curled up in
a great-coat of his master's, while Uvar Ivanovitch still continued to
hold the handkerchief before him in his opened fingers, and with the
same intense attention gazed now at the window, now at the floor and

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On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 9 On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 9

On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 9
Chapter IXShubin went back to his room in the lodge and was just opening a book,when Nikolai Artemyevitch's valet came cautiously into his room andhanded him a small triangular note, sealed with a thick heraldic crest.'I hope,' he found in the note, 'that you as a man of honour willnot allow yourself to hint by so much as a single word at a certainpromissory note which was talked of this morning. You are acquaintedwith my position and my rules, the insignificance of the sum in itselfand the other circumstances; there are, in fine, family secrets whichmust be respected, and family tranquillity

On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 7 On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 7

On The Eve: A Novel - Chapter 7
Chapter VIIThe next day at twelve o'clock, Bersenyev set off in a return coachto Moscow. He had to get some money from the post-office, to buy somebooks, and he wanted to seize the opportunity to see Insarov and havesome conversation with him. The idea had occurred to Bersenyev, in thecourse of his last conversation with Shubin, to invite Insarov to staywith him at his country lodgings. But it was some time before he foundhim out; from his former lodging he had moved to another, which it wasnot easy to discover; it was in the court at the back of a squalid