Two days after this visit, Kirila Petrovitch set out with his daughter for the abode of Prince Vereisky. On approaching Arbatova, he could not sufficiently admire the clean and cheerful-looking huts of the peasants, and the stone manor-house built in the style of an English castle. In front of the house stretched a close green lawn, upon which were grazing some Swiss cows tinkling their bells. A spacious park surrounded the house on every side. The master met the guests on the steps, and gave his arm to the young beauty. She was then conducted into a magnificent hall, where the table was laid for three. The Prince led his guests to a window, and a charming view opened out before them. The Volga flowed past the windows, and upon its bosom floated laden barges under full sail, and small fishing-boats known by the expressive name of "soul-destroyers." Beyond the river stretched hills and fields, and several little villages animated the landscape.
Then they proceeded to inspect the galleries of pictures bought by the Prince in foreign countries. The Prince explained to Maria Kirilovna their various characteristics, related the history of the painters, and pointed out their merits and defects. He did not speak of pictures in the pretentious language of the pedantic connoisseur, but with feeling and imagination. Maria Kirilovna listened to him with pleasure.
They sat down to table. Troekouroff rendered full justice to the wines of his Amphytrion, and to the skill of his cook; while Maria Kirilovna did not feel at all confused or constrained in her conversation with a man whom she now saw for the second time in her life. After dinner the host proposed to his guests that they should go into the garden. They drank coffee in the arbour on the bank of a broad lake studded with little islands. Suddenly resounded the music of wind instruments, and a six-oared boat drew up before the arbour. They rowed on the lake, round the islands, and visited some of them. On one they found a marble statue; on another, a lonely grotto; on a third, a monument with a mysterious inscription, which awakened within Maria Kirilovna a girlish curiosity not completely satisfied by the polite but reticent explanations of the Prince. The time passed imperceptibly. It began to grow dark. The Prince, under the pretext of the cold and the dew, hastened to return to the house, where the tea-urn awaited them. The Prince requested Maria Kirilovna to discharge the functions of hostess in his bachelor's home. She poured out the tea, listening to the inexhaustible stories of the charming talker. Suddenly a shot was heard, and a rocket illuminated the sky. The Prince gave Maria Kirilovna a shawl, and led her and Troekouroff on to the balcony. In front of the house, in the darkness, different coloured fires blazed up, whirled round, rose up in sheaves, poured out in fountains, fell in showers of rain and stars, went out and then burst into a blaze again. Maria Kirilovna was as delighted as a child. Prince Vereisky was delighted with her enjoyment, and Troekouroff was very well satisfied with him, for he accepted tous les frais of the Prince as signs of respect and a desire to please him.
The supper was quite equal to the dinner in every respect. Then the guests retired to the rooms assigned to them, and the next morning took leave of their amiable host, promising each other soon to meet again.