THE DAY of the arrival of Lavretskys wife at the town of O, a sorrowful day for him, had been also a day of misery for Lisa. She had not had time to go down-stairs and say good-morning to her mother, when the tramp of hoofs was heard under the window, and with secret dismay she saw Panshin riding into the courtyard. He has come so early for a final explanation, she thought, and she was not mistaken. After a turn in the drawing-room, he suggested that she should go with him into the garden, and then asked her for the decision of his fate. Lisa summoned up all her courage and told him that she could not be his wife. He heard her to the end, standing on one side of her and pulling his hat down over his forehead; courteously, but in a changed voice, he asked her, Was this her last word, and had he given her any ground for such a change in her views?then pressed his hand to his eyes, sighed softly and abruptly, and took his hand away from his face again.
I did not want to go along the beaten track, he said huskily. I wanted to choose a wife according to the dictates of my heart; but it seems this was not to be. Farewell, fond dream! He made Lisa a profound bow, and went back into the house.
She hoped that he would go away at once; but he went into Marya Dmitrievnas room and remained nearly an hour with her. As he came out, he said to Lisa: Votre mère vous appelle; adieu à jamais, mounted his horse, and set off at full trot from the very steps. Lisa went in to Marya Dmitrievna and found her in tears; Panshin had informed her of his ill-luck.
Do you want to be the death of me? Do you want to be the death of me? was how the disconsolate widow began her lamentations. Whom do you want? Wasnt he good enough for you? A kammer-junker! not interesting! He might have married any Maid of Honour he liked in Petersburg. And II had so hoped for it! Is it long that you have changed towards him? How has this misfortune come on us,it cannot have come of itself! Is it that dolt of a cousins doing? A nice person you have picked up to advise you!
And he, poor darling, Marya Dmitrievna went on, how respectful he is, how attentive even in his sorrow! He has promised not to desert me. Ah, I can never bear that! Ah, my head aches fit to split! Send me Palashka. You will be the death of me, if you dont think better of it,do you hear?
She went to her own room. But she had not had time to recover from her interviews with Panshin and her mother before another storm broke over her head, and this time from a quarter from which she would least have expected it Marfa Timofyevna came into her room, and at once slammed the door after her. The old ladys face was pale, her cap was awry, her eyes were flashing, and her hands and lips were trembling. Lisa was astonished; she had never before seen her sensible and reasonable aunt in such a condition.
Marfa Timofyevna crossed herself. Peace be with her, she muttered; she was a vain hussy, God forgive her. So, then, hes a widower, I suppose. And hes losing no time, I see. He has buried one wife and now hes after another. Hes a nice person: only let me tell you one thing, niece; in my day, when I was young, harm came to young girls from such goings on. Dont be angry with me, my girl, only fools are angry at the truth. I have given orders not to admit him to-day. I love him, but I shall never forgive him for this. Upon my word, a widower! Give me some water. But as for your sending Panshin about his business, I think youre a first-rate girl for that. Only dont you go sitting of nights with any animals of that sort; dont break my old heart, or else youll see Im not all fondnessI can bite too a widower!
Marfa Timofyevna went off, and Lisa sat down in a corner and began to cry. There was bitterness in her soul. She had not deserved such humiliation. Love had proved no happiness to her: she was weeping for a second time since yesterday evening. This new unexpected feeling had only just arisen in her heart, and already what a heavy price she had paid for it, how coarsely had strange hands touched her sacred secret. She felt ashamed, and bitter, and sick; but she had no doubt and no dreadand Lavretsky was dearer to her than ever. She had hesitated while she did not understand herself; but after that meeting, after that kissshe could hesitate no more: she knew that she loved, and now she loved honestly and seriously, she was bound firmly for all her life, and she did not fear reproaches. She felt that by no violence could they break that bond.