Fathers and Sons

by Ivan S. Turgenev

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Chapter XXIII

Having seen Arkady off with ironical compassion, and given him to understand that he was not in the least deceived as to the real object of his journey, Bazarov shut himself up in complete solitude; he was overtaken by a fever for work. He did not dispute now with Pavel Petrovitch, especially as the latter assumed an excessively aristocratic demeanour in his presence, and expressed his opinions more in inarticulate sounds than in words. Only on one occasion Pavel Petrovitch fell into a controversy with the nihilist on the subject of the question then much discussed of the rights of the nobles of the Baltic province; but suddenly he stopped of his own accord, remarking with chilly politeness, 'However, we cannot understand one another; I, at least, have not the honour of understanding you.'

'I should think not!' cried Bazarov. 'A man's capable of understanding anything—how the æther vibrates, and what's going on in the sun—but how any other man can blow his nose differently from him, that he's incapable of understanding.'

'What, is that an epigram?' observed Pavel Petrovitch inquiringly, and he walked away.

However, he sometimes asked permission to be present at Bazarov's experiments, and once even placed his perfumed face, washed with the very best soap, near the microscope to see how a transparent infusoria swallowed a green speck, and busily munched it with two very rapid sort of clappers which were in its throat. Nikolai Petrovitch visited Bazarov much oftener than his brother; he would have come every day, as he expressed it, to 'study,' if his worries on the farm had not taken off his attention. He did not hinder the young man in his scientific researches; he used to sit down somewhere in a corner of the room and look on attentively, occasionally permitting himself a discreet question. During dinner and supper-time he used to try to turn the conversation upon physics, geology, or chemistry, seeing that all other topics, even agriculture, to say nothing of politics, might lead, if not to collisions, at least to mutual unpleasantness. Nikolai Petrovitch surmised that his brother's dislike for Bazarov was no less. An unimportant incident, among many others, confirmed his surmises. The cholera began to make its appearance in some places in the neighbourhood, and even 'carried off' two persons from Maryino itself. In the night Pavel Petrovitch happened to have rather severe symptoms. He was in pain till the morning, but did not have recourse to Bazarov's skill. And when he met him the following day, in reply to his question, 'Why he had not sent for him?' answered, still quite pale, but scrupulously brushed and shaved, 'Why, I seem to recollect you said yourself you didn't believe in medicine.' So the days went by. Bazarov went on obstinately and grimly working ... and meanwhile there was in Nikolai Petrovitch's house one creature to whom, if he did not open his heart, he at least was glad to talk.... That creature was Fenitchka.

He used to meet her for the most part early in the morning, in the garden, or the farmyard; he never used to go to her room to see her, and she had only once been to his door to inquire—ought she to let Mitya have his bath or not? It was not only that she confided in him, that she was not afraid of him—she was positively freer and more at her ease in her behaviour with him than with Nikolai Petrovitch himself. It is hard to say how it came about; perhaps it was because she unconsciously felt the absence in Bazarov of all gentility, of all that superiority which at once attracts and overawes. In her eyes he was both an excellent doctor and a simple man. She looked after her baby without constraint in his presence; and once when she was suddenly attacked with giddiness and headache—she took a spoonful of medicine from his hand. Before Nikolai Petrovitch she kept, as it were, at a distance from Bazarov; she acted in this way not from hypocrisy, but from a kind of feeling of propriety. Pavel Petrovitch she was more afraid of than ever; for some time he had begun to watch her, and would suddenly make his appearance, as though he sprang out of the earth behind her back, in his English suit, with his immovable vigilant face, and his hands in his pockets. 'It's like a bucket of cold water on one,' Fenitchka complained to Dunyasha, and the latter sighed in response, and thought of another 'heartless' man. Bazarov, without the least suspicion of the fact, had become the cruel tyrant of her heart.

Fenitchka liked Bazarov; but he liked her too. His face was positively transformed when he talked to her; it took a bright, almost kind expression, and his habitual nonchalance was replaced by a sort of jesting attentiveness. Fenitchka was growing prettier every day. There is a time in the life of young women when they suddenly begin to expand and blossom like summer roses; this time had come for Fenitchka. Dressed in a delicate white dress, she seemed herself slighter and whiter; she was not tanned by the sun; but the heat, from which she could not shield herself, spread a slight flush over her cheeks and ears, and, shedding a soft indolence over her whole body, was reflected in a dreamy languor in her pretty eyes. She was almost unable to work; her hands seem to fall naturally into her lap. She scarcely walked at all, and was constantly sighing and complaining with comic helplessness.

'You should go oftener to bathe,' Nikolai Petrovitch told her. He had made a large bath covered in with an awning in one of his ponds which had not yet quite disappeared.

'Oh, Nikolai Petrovitch! But by the time one gets to the pond, one's utterly dead, and, coming back, one's dead again. You see, there's no shade in the garden.'

'That's true, there's no shade,' replied Nikolai Petrovitch, rubbing his forehead.

One day at seven o'clock in the morning Bazarov, returning from a walk, came upon Fenitchka in the lilac arbour, which was long past flowering, but was still thick and green. She was sitting on the garden seat, and had as usual thrown a white kerchief over her head; near her lay a whole heap of red and white roses still wet with dew. He said good morning to her.

'Ah! Yevgeny Vassilyitch!' she said, and lifted the edge of her kerchief a little to look at him, in doing which her arm was left bare to the elbow.

'What are you doing here?' said Bazarov, sitting down beside her. 'Are you making a nosegay?'

'Yes, for the table at lunch. Nikolai Petrovitch likes it.'

'But it's a long while yet to lunch time. What a heap of flowers!'

'I gathered them now, for it will be hot then, and one can't go out. One can only just breathe now. I feel quite weak with the heat. I'm really afraid whether I'm not going to be ill.'

'What an idea! Let me feel your pulse.' Bazarov took her hand, felt for the evenly-beating pulse, but did not even begin to count its throbs. 'You'll live a hundred years!' he said, dropping her hand.

'Ah, God forbid!' she cried.

'Why? Don't you want a long life?'

'Well, but a hundred years! There was an old woman near us eighty-five years old—and what a martyr she was! Dirty and deaf and bent and coughing all the time; nothing but a burden to herself. That's a dreadful life!'

'So it's better to be young?'

'Well, isn't it?'

'But why is it better? Tell me!'

'How can you ask why? Why, here I now, while I'm young, I can do everything—go and come and carry, and needn't ask any one for anything.... What can be better?'

'And to me it's all the same whether I'm young or old.'

'How do you mean—it's all the same? It's not possible what you say.'

'Well, judge for yourself, Fedosya Nikolaevna, what good is my youth to me. I live alone, a poor lonely creature ...'

'That always depends on you.'

'It doesn't at all depend on me! At least, some one ought to take pity on me.'

Fenitchka gave a sidelong look at Bazarov, but said nothing. 'What's this book you have?' she asked after a short pause.

'That? That's a scientific book, very difficult.'

'And are you still studying? And don't you find it dull? You know everything already I should say.'

'It seems not everything. You try to read a little.'

'But I don't understand anything here. Is it Russian?' asked Fenitchka, taking the heavily bound book in both hands. 'How thick it is!'

'Yes, it's Russian.'

'All the same, I shan't understand anything.'

'Well, I didn't give it you for you to understand it. I wanted to look at you while you were reading. When you read, the end of your little nose moves so nicely.'

Fenitchka, who had set to work to spell out in a low voice the article on 'Creosote' she had chanced upon, laughed and threw down the book ... it slipped from the seat on to the ground.


'I like it too when you laugh,' observed Bazarov.

'I like it when you talk. It's just like a little brook babbling.'

Fenitchka turned her head away. 'What a person you are to talk!' she commented, picking the flowers over with her finger. 'And how can you care to listen to me? You have talked with such clever ladies.'

'Ah, Fedosya Nikolaevna! believe me; all the clever ladies in the world are not worth your little elbow.'

'Come, there's another invention!' murmured Fenitchka, clasping her hands.

Bazarov picked the book up from the ground.

'That's a medical book; why do you throw it away?'

'Medical?' repeated Fenitchka, and she turned to him again. 'Do you know, ever since you gave me those drops—do you remember?—Mitya has slept so well! I really can't think how to thank you; you are so good, really.'

'But you have to pay doctors,' observed Bazarov with a smile. 'Doctors, you know yourself, are grasping people.'

Fenitchka raised her eyes, which seemed still darker from the whitish reflection cast on the upper part of her face, and looked at Bazarov. She did not know whether he was joking or not.

'If you please, we shall be delighted.... I must ask Nikolai Petrovitch ...'

'Why, do you think I want money?' Bazarov interposed. 'No; I don't want money from you.'

'What then?' asked Fenitchka.

'What?' repeated Bazarov. 'Guess!'

'A likely person I am to guess!'

'Well, I will tell you; I want ... one of those roses.'

Fenitchka laughed again, and even clapped her hands, so amusing Bazarov's request seemed to her. She laughed, and at the same time felt flattered. Bazarov was looking intently at her.

'By all means,' she said at last; and, bending down to the seat, she began picking over the roses. 'Which will you have—a red one or a white one?'

'Red, and not too large.'

She sat up again. 'Here, take it,' she said, but at once drew back her outstretched hand, and, biting her lips, looked towards the entrance of the arbour, then listened.

'What is it?' asked Bazarov. 'Nikolai Petrovitch?'

'No ... Mr. Kirsanov has gone to the fields ... besides, I'm not afraid of him ... but Pavel Petrovitch ... I fancied ...'


'I fancied he was coming here. No ... it was no one. Take it.' Fenitchka gave Bazarov the rose.

'On what grounds are you afraid of Pavel Petrovitch?'

'He always scares me. And I know you don't like him. Do you remember, you always used to quarrel with him? I don't know what your quarrel was about, but I can see you turn him about like this and like that.'

Fenitchka showed with her hands how in her opinion Bazarov turned Pavel Petrovitch about.

Bazarov smiled. 'But if he gave me a beating,' he asked, 'would you stand up for me?'

'How could I stand up for you? but no, no one will get the better of you.'

'Do you think so? But I know a hand which could overcome me if it liked.'

'What hand?'

'Why, don't you know, really? Smell, how delicious this rose smells you gave me.'

Fenitchka stretched her little neck forward, and put her face close to the flower.... The kerchief slipped from her head on to her shoulders; her soft mass of dark, shining, slightly ruffled hair was visible.

'Wait a minute; I want to smell it with you,' said Bazarov. He bent down and kissed her vigorously on her parted lips.

She started, pushed him back with both her hands on his breast, but pushed feebly, and he was able to renew and prolong his kiss.

A dry cough was heard behind the lilac bushes. Fenitchka instantly moved away to the other end of the seat. Pavel Petrovitch showed himself, made a slight bow, and saying with a sort of malicious mournfulness, 'You are here,' he retreated. Fenitchka at once gathered up all her roses and went out of the arbour. 'It was wrong of you, Yevgeny Vassilyevitch,' she whispered as she went. There was a note of genuine reproach in her whisper.

Bazarov remembered another recent scene, and he felt both shame and contemptuous annoyance. But he shook his head directly, ironically congratulated himself 'on his final assumption of the part of the gay Lothario,' and went off to his own room.

Pavel Petrovitch went out of the garden, and made his way with deliberate steps to the copse. He stayed there rather a long while; and when he returned to lunch, Nikolai Petrovitch inquired anxiously whether he were quite well—his face looked so gloomy.

'You know, I sometimes suffer with my liver,' Pavel Petrovitch answered tranquilly.


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