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'Well, Piotr, not in sight yet?' was the question asked on May the 20th, 1859, by a gentleman of a little over forty, in a dusty coat and checked trousers, who came out without his hat on to the low steps of the posting station at S―. He was addressing his servant, a chubby young fellow, with whitish down on his chin, and little, lack–lustre eyes.The servant, in whom everything—the turquoise ring in his ear, the streaky hair plastered with grease, and the civility of his movements—indicated a man of the new, improved generation, glanced with an air of indulgence along the road, and made answer:'No, sir; not in sight.''Not in sight?' repeated his master.'No, sir,' responded the man a second time.His master sighed, and sat down on a little bench. We will introduce him to the reader while he sits, his feet tucked under him, gazing thoughtfully round.
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List of Characters
'Let me shake myself first, daddy,' said Arkady, in a voice tired from travelling, but boyish and clear as a bell, as he gaily responded to his father's caresses; 'I am covering you with dust.'
'Never mind, never mind,' repeated Nikolai Petrovitch, smiling tenderly, and twice he struck the collar of his son's cloak and his own greatcoat with his hand. 'Let me have a look at you; let me have a look at you,' he added, moving back from him, but immediately he went with hurried steps towards the yard of the station, calling, 'This way, this way; and horses at once.'
Nikolai Petrovitch seemed far more excited than his son; he seemed a little confused, a little timid. Arkady stopped him.
'Daddy,' he said, 'let me introduce you to my great friend, Bazarov, about whom I have so often written to you. He has been so good as to promise to stay with us.'
Nikolai Petrovitch went back quickly, and going up to a tall man in a long, loose, rough coat with tassels, who had only just got out of the carriage, he warmly pressed the ungloved red hand, which the latter did not at once hold out to him.
'I am heartily glad,' he began, 'and very grateful for your kind intention of visiting us…. Let me know your name, and your father's.'
'Yevgeny Vassilyev,' answered Bazarov, in a lazy but manly voice; and turning back the collar of his rough coat, he showed Nikolai Petrovitch his whole face. It was long and lean, with a broad forehead, a nose flat at the base and sharper at the end, large greenish eyes, and drooping whiskers of a sandy colour; it was lighted up by a tranquil smile, and showed self–confidence and intelligence.
'I hope, dear Yevgeny Vassilyitch, you won't be dull with us,' continued Nikolai Petrovitch.
Bazarov's thin lips moved just perceptibly, though he made no reply, but merely took off his cap. His long, thick hair did not hide the prominent bumps on his head.
'Then, Arkady,' Nikolai Petrovitch began again, turning to his son, 'shall the horses be put to at once? or would you like to rest?'
'We will rest at home, daddy; tell them to harness the horses.'
'At once, at once,' his father assented. 'Hey, Piotr, do you hear? Get things ready, my good boy; look sharp.'
Piotr, who as a modernised servant had not kissed the young master's hand, but only bowed to him from a distance, again vanished through the gateway.
'I came here with the carriage, but there are three horses for your coach too,' said Nikolai Petrovitch fussily, while Arkady drank some water from an iron dipper brought him by the woman in charge of the station, and Bazarov began smoking a pipe and went up to the driver, who was taking out the horses; 'there are only two seats in the carriage, and I don't know how your friend' …
'He will go in the coach,' interposed Arkady in an undertone. 'You must not stand on ceremony with him, please. He's a splendid fellow, so simple—you will see.'
Nikolai Petrovitch's coachman brought the horses round.
'Come, hurry up, bushy beard!' said Bazarov, addressing the driver.
'Do you hear, Mityuha,' put in another driver, standing by with his hands thrust behind him into the opening of his sheepskin coat, 'what the gentleman called you? It's a bushy beard you are too.'
Mityuha only gave a jog to his hat and pulled the reins off the heated shaft–horse.
'Look sharp, look sharp, lads, lend a hand,' cried Nikolai Petrovitch; 'there'll be something to drink our health with!'
In a few minutes the horses were harnessed; the father and son were installed in the carriage; Piotr climbed up on to the box; Bazarov jumped into the coach, and nestled his head down into the leather cushion; and both the vehicles rolled away.
'So here you are, a graduate at last, and come home again,' said Nikolai Petrovitch, touching Arkady now on the shoulder, now on the knee. 'At last!'
'And how is uncle? quite well?' asked Arkady, who, in spite of the genuine, almost childish delight filling his heart, wanted as soon as possible to turn the conversation from the emotional into a commonplace channel.
'Quite well. He was thinking of coming with me to meet you, but for some reason or other he gave up the idea.'
'And how long have you been waiting for me?' inquired Arkady.
'Oh, about five hours.'
'Dear old dad!'
Arkady turned round quickly to his father, and gave him a sounding kiss on the cheek. Nikolai Petrovitch gave vent to a low chuckle.
'I have got such a capital horse for you!' he began. 'You will see. And your room has been fresh papered.'
'And is there a room for Bazarov?'
'We will find one for him too.'
'Please, dad, make much of him. I can't tell you how I prize his friendship.'
'Have you made friends with him lately?'
'Yes, quite lately.'
'Ah, that's how it is I did not see him last winter. What does he study?'
'His chief subject is natural science. But he knows everything. Next year he wants to take his doctor's degree.'
'Ah! he's in the medical faculty,' observed Nikolai Petrovitch, and he was silent for a little. 'Piotr,' he went on, stretching out his hand, 'aren't those our peasants driving along?'
Piotr looked where his master was pointing. Some carts harnessed with unbridled horses were moving rapidly along a narrow by–road. In each cart there were one or two peasants in sheepskin coats, unbuttoned.
'Yes, sir,' replied Piotr.
'Where are they going,—to the town?'
'To the town, I suppose. To the gin–shop,' he added contemptuously, turning slightly towards the coachman, as though he would appeal to him. But the latter did not stir a muscle; he was a man of the old stamp, and did not share the modern views of the younger generation.
'I have had a lot of bother with the peasants this year,' pursued Nikolai Petrovitch, turning to his son. 'They won't pay their rent. What is one to do?'
'But do you like your hired labourers?'
'Yes,' said Nikolai Petrovitch between his teeth. 'They're being set against me, that's the mischief; and they don't do their best. They spoil the tools. But they have tilled the land pretty fairly. When things have settled down a bit, it will be all right. Do you take an interest in farming now?'
'You've no shade; that's a pity,' remarked Arkady, without answering the last question.
'I have had a great awning put up on the north side over the balcony,' observed Nikolai Petrovitch; 'now we can have dinner even in the open air.'
'It'll be rather too like a summer villa…. Still, that's all nonsense. What air though here! How delicious it smells! Really I fancy there's nowhere such fragrance in the world as in the meadows here! And the sky too.'
Arkady suddenly stopped short, cast a stealthy look behind him, and said no more.
'Of course,' observed Nikolai Petrovitch, 'you were born here, and so everything is bound to strike you in a special―'
'Come, dad, that makes no difference where a man is born.'
'No; it makes absolutely no difference.'
Nikolai Petrovitch gave a sidelong glance at his son, and the carriage went on a half–a–mile further before the conversation was renewed between them.
'I don't recollect whether I wrote to you,' began Nikolai Petrovitch, 'your old nurse, Yegorovna, is dead.'
'Really? Poor thing! Is Prokofitch still living?'
'Yes, and not a bit changed. As grumbling as ever. In fact, you won't find many changes at Maryino.'
'Have you still the same bailiff?'
'Well, to be sure there is a change there. I decided not to keep about me any freed serfs, who have been house servants, or, at least, not to intrust them with duties of any responsibility.' (Arkady glanced towards Piotr.) 'Il est libre, en effet,' observed Nikolai Petrovitch in an undertone; 'but, you see, he's only a valet. Now I have a bailiff, a townsman; he seems a practical fellow. I pay him two hundred and fifty roubles a year. But,' added Nikolai Petrovitch, rubbing his forehead and eyebrows with his hand, which was always an indication with him of inward embarrassment, 'I told you just now that you would not find changes at Maryino…. That's not quite correct. I think it my duty to prepare you, though….'
He hesitated for an instant, and then went on in French.
'A severe moralist would regard my openness, as improper; but, in the first place, it can't be concealed, and secondly, you are aware I have always had peculiar ideas as regards the relation of father and son. Though, of course, you would be right in blaming me. At my age…. In short … that … that girl, about whom you have probably heard already … '
'Fenitchka?' asked Arkady easily.
Nikolai Petrovitch blushed. 'Don't mention her name aloud, please…. Well … she is living with me now. I have installed her in the house …there were two little rooms there. But that can all be changed.'
'Goodness, daddy, what for?'
'Your friend is going to stay with us … it would be awkward … '
'Please don't be uneasy on Bazarov's account. He's above all that.'
'Well, but you too,' added Nikolai Petrovitch. 'The little lodge is so horrid—that's the worst of it.'
'Goodness, dad,' interposed Arkady, 'it's as if you were apologising; I wonder you're not ashamed.'
'Of course, I ought to be ashamed,' answered Nikolai Petrovitch, flushing more and more.
'Nonsense, dad, nonsense; please don't!' Arkady smiled affectionately. 'What a thing to apologise for!' he thought to himself, and his heart was filled with a feeling of condescending tenderness for his kind, soft–hearted father, mixed with a sense of secret superiority. 'Please, stop,' he repeated once more, instinctively revelling in a consciousness of his own advanced and emancipated condition.
Nikolai Petrovitch glanced at him from under the fingers of the hand with which he was still rubbing his forehead, and there was a pang in his heart…. But at once he blamed himself for it.
'Here are our meadows at last,' he said after a long silence.
'And that in front is our forest, isn't it?' asked Arkady.
'Yes. Only I have sold the timber. This year they will cut it down.'
'Why did you sell it?'
'The money was needed; besides, that land is to go to the peasants.'
'Who don't pay you their rent?'
'That's their affair; besides, they will pay it some day.'
'I am sorry about the forest,' observed Arkady, and he began to look about him.
The country through which they were driving could not be called picturesque. Fields upon fields stretched all along to the very horizon, now sloping gently upwards, then dropping down again; in some places woods were to be seen, and winding ravines, planted with low, scanty bushes, recalling vividly the representation of them on the old–fashioned maps of the times of Catherine. They came upon little streams too with hollow banks; and tiny lakes with narrow dykes; and little villages, with low hovels under dark and often tumble–down roofs, and slanting barns with walls woven of brushwood and gaping doorways beside neglected threshing–floors; and churches, some brick–built, with stucco peeling off in patches, others wooden, with crosses fallen askew, and overgrown grave–yards. Slowly Arkady's heart sunk. To complete the picture, the peasants they met were all in tatters and on the sorriest little nags; the willows, with their trunks stripped of bark, and broken branches, stood like ragged beggars along the roadside; cows lean and shaggy and looking pinched up by hunger, were greedily tearing at the grass along the ditches. They looked as though they had just been snatched out of the murderous clutches of some threatening monster; and the piteous state of the weak, starved beasts in the midst of the lovely spring day, called up, like a white phantom, the endless, comfortless winter with its storms, and frosts, and snows…. 'No,' thought Arkady, 'this is not a rich country; it does not impress one by plenty or industry; it can't, it can't go on like this, reforms are absolutely necessary … but how is one to carry them out, how is one to begin?'
Such were Arkady's reflections; … but even as he reflected, the spring regained its sway. All around was golden green, all—trees, bushes, grass—shone and stirred gently in wide waves under the soft breath of the warm wind; from all sides flooded the endless trilling music of the larks; the peewits were calling as they hovered over the low–lying meadows, or noiselessly ran over the tussocks of grass; the rooks strutted among the half–grown short spring–corn, standing out black against its tender green; they disappeared in the already whitening rye, only from time to time their heads peeped out amid its grey waves. Arkady gazed and gazed, and his reflections grew slowly fainter and passed away…. He flung off his cloak and turned to his father, with a face so bright and boyish, that the latter gave him another hug.
'We're not far off now,' remarked Nikolai Petrovitch; 'we have only to get up this hill, and the house will be in sight. We shall get on together splendidly, Arkasha; you shall help me in farming the estate, if only it isn't a bore to you. We must draw close to one another now, and learn to know each other thoroughly, mustn't we!'
'Of course,' said Arkady; 'but what an exquisite day it is to–day!'
'To welcome you, my dear boy. Yes, it's spring in its full loveliness. Though I agree with Pushkin—do you remember in Yevgeny Onyegin—
'To me how sad thy coming is,
Spring, spring, sweet time of love!
What … '
'Arkady!' called Bazarov's voice from the coach, 'send me a match; I've nothing to light my pipe with.'
Nikolai Petrovitch stopped, while Arkady, who had begun listening to him with some surprise, though with sympathy too, made haste to pull a silver matchbox out of his pocket, and sent it to Bazarov by Piotr.
'Will you have a cigar?' shouted Bazarov again.
'Thanks,' answered Arkady.
Piotr returned to the carriage, and handed him with the match–box a thick black cigar, which Arkady began to smoke promptly, diffusing about him such a strong and pungent odour of cheap tobacco, that Nikolai Petrovitch, who had never been a smoker from his youth up, was forced to turn away his head, as imperceptibly as he could for fear of wounding his son.
A quarter of an hour later, the two carriages drew up before the steps of a new wooden house, painted grey, with a red iron roof. This was Maryino, also known as New–Wick, or, as the peasants had nicknamed it, Poverty Farm.
No crowd of house–serfs ran out on to the steps to meet the gentlemen; a little girl of twelve years old made her appearance alone. After her there came out of the house a young lad, very like Piotr, dressed in a coat of grey livery, with white armorial buttons, the servant of Pavel Petrovitch Kirsanov. Without speaking, he opened the door of the carriage, and unbuttoned the apron of the coach. Nikolai Petrovitch with his son and Bazarov walked through a dark and almost empty hall, from behind the door of which they caught a glimpse of a young woman's face, into a drawing–room furnished in the most modern style.
'Here we are at home,' said Nikolai Petrovitch, taking off his cap, and shaking back his hair. 'That's the great thing; now we must have supper and rest.'
'A meal would not come amiss, certainly,' observed Bazarov, stretching, and he dropped on to a sofa.
'Yes, yes, let us have supper, supper directly.' Nikolai Petrovitch with no apparent reason stamped his foot. 'And here just at the right moment comes Prokofitch.'
A man about sixty entered, white–haired, thin, and swarthy, in a cinnamon–coloured dress–coat with brass buttons, and a pink neckerchief. He smirked, went up to kiss Arkady's hand, and bowing to the guest retreated to the door, and put his hands behind him.
'Here he is, Prokofitch,' began Nikolai Petrovitch; 'he's come back to us at last…. Well, how do you think him looking?'
'As well as could be,' said the old man, and was grinning again, but he quickly knitted his bushy brows. 'You wish supper to be served?' he said impressively.
'Yes, yes, please. But won't you like to go to your room first, Yevgeny Vassilyitch?'
'No, thanks; I don't care about it. Only give orders for my little box to be taken there, and this garment, too,' he added, taking off his frieze overcoat.
'Certainly. Prokofitch, take the gentleman's coat.' (Prokofitch, with an air of perplexity, picked up Bazarov's 'garment' in both hands, and holding it high above his head, retreated on tiptoe.) 'And you, Arkady, are you going to your room for a minute?'
'Yes, I must wash,' answered Arkady, and was just moving towards the door, but at that instant there came into the drawing–room a man of medium height, dressed in a dark English suit, a fashionable low cravat, and kid shoes, Pavel Petrovitch Kirsanov. He looked about forty–five: his close–cropped, grey hair shone with a dark lustre, like new silver; his face, yellow but free from wrinkles, was exceptionally regular and pure in line, as though carved by a light and delicate chisel, and showed traces of remarkable beauty; specially fine were his clear, black, almond–shaped eyes. The whole person of Arkady's uncle, with its aristocratic elegance, had preserved the gracefulness of youth and that air of striving upwards, away from earth, which for the most part is lost after the twenties are past.
Pavel Petrovitch took out of his trouser pocket his exquisite hand with its long tapering pink nails, a hand which seemed still more exquisite from the snowy whiteness of the cuff, buttoned with a single, big opal, and gave it to his nephew. After a preliminary handshake in the European style, he kissed him thrice after the Russian fashion, that is to say, he touched his cheek three times with his perfumed moustaches, and said, 'Welcome.'
Nikolai Petrovitch presented him to Bazarov; Pavel Petrovitch greeted him with a slight inclination of his supple figure, and a slight smile, but he did not give him his hand, and even put it back into his pocket.
'I had begun to think you were not coming to–day,' he began in a musical voice, with a genial swing and shrug of the shoulders, as he showed his splendid white teeth. 'Did anything happen on the road.'
'Nothing happened,' answered Arkady; 'we were rather slow. But we're as hungry as wolves now. Hurry up Prokofitch, dad; and I'll be back directly.'
'Stay, I'm coming with you,' cried Bazarov, pulling himself up suddenly from the sofa. Both the young men went out.
'Who is he?' asked Pavel Petrovitch.
'A friend of Arkasha's; according to him, a very clever fellow.'
'Is he going to stay with us?'
'That unkempt creature?'
Pavel Petrovitch drummed with his finger tips on the table. 'I fancy Arkady s'est dégourdi,' he remarked. 'I'm glad he has come back.'
At supper there was little conversation. Bazarov especially said nothing, but he ate a great deal. Nikolai Petrovitch related various incidents in what he called his career as a farmer, talked about the impending government measures, about committees, deputations, the necessity of introducing machinery, etc. Pavel Petrovitch paced slowly up and down the dining–room (he never ate supper), sometimes sipping at a wineglass of red wine, and less often uttering some remark or rather exclamation, of the nature of 'Ah! aha! hm!' Arkady told some news from Petersburg, but he was conscious of a little awkwardness, that awkwardness, which usually overtakes a youth when he has just ceased to be a child, and has come back to a place where they are accustomed to regard him and treat him as a child. He made his sentences quite unnecessarily long, avoided the word 'daddy,' and even sometimes replaced it by the word 'father,' mumbled, it is true, between his teeth; with an exaggerated carelessness he poured into his glass far more wine than he really wanted, and drank it all off. Prokofitch did not take his eyes off him, and kept chewing his lips. After supper they all separated at once.
'Your uncle's a queer fish,' Bazarov said to Arkady, as he sat in his dressing–gown by his bedside, smoking a short pipe. 'Only fancy such style in the country! His nails, his nails—you ought to send them to an exhibition!'
'Why of course, you don't know,' replied Arkady. 'He was a great swell in his own day, you know. I will tell you his story one day. He was very handsome, you know, used to turn all the women's heads.'
'Oh, that's it, is it? So he keeps it up in memory of the past. It's a pity there's no one for him to fascinate here though. I kept staring at his exquisite collars. They're like marble, and his chin's shaved simply to perfection. Come, Arkady Nikolaitch, isn't that ridiculous?'
'Perhaps it is; but he's a splendid man, really.'
'An antique survival! But your father's a capital fellow. He wastes his time reading poetry, and doesn't know much about farming, but he's a good–hearted fellow.'
'My father's a man in a thousand.'
'Did you notice how shy and nervous he is?'
Arkady shook his head as though he himself were not shy and nervous.
'It's something astonishing,' pursued Bazarov, 'these old idealists, they develop their nervous systems till they break down … so balance is lost. But good–night. In my room there's an English washstand, but the door won't fasten. Anyway that ought to be encouraged—an English washstand stands for progress!'
Bazarov went away, and a sense of great happiness came over Arkady. Sweet it is to fall asleep in one's own home, in the familiar bed, under the quilt worked by loving hands, perhaps a dear nurse's hands, those kind, tender, untiring hands. Arkady remembered Yegorovna, and sighed and wished her peace in heaven…. For himself he made no prayer.
Both he and Bazarov were soon asleep, but others in the house were awake long after. His son's return had agitated Nikolai Petrovitch. He lay down in bed, but did not put out the candles, and his head propped on his hand, he fell into long reveries. His brother was sitting long after midnight in his study, in a wide armchair before the fireplace, on which there smouldered some faintly glowing embers. Pavel Petrovitch was not undressed, only some red Chinese slippers had replaced the kid shoes on his feet. He held in his hand the last number of Galignani, but he was not reading; he gazed fixedly into the grate, where a bluish flame flickered, dying down, then flaring up again…. God knows where his thoughts were rambling, but they were not rambling in the past only; the expression of his face was concentrated and surly, which is not the way when a man is absorbed solely in recollections. In a small back room there sat, on a large chest, a young woman in a blue dressing jacket with a white kerchief thrown over her dark hair, Fenitchka. She was half listening, half dozing, and often looked across towards the open door through which a child's cradle was visible, and the regular breathing of a sleeping baby could be heard.
The next morning Bazarov woke up earlier than any one and went out of the house. 'Oh, my!' he thought, looking about him, 'the little place isn't much to boast of!' When Nikolai Petrovitch had divided the land with his peasants, he had had to build his new manor–house on four acres of perfectly flat and barren land. He had built a house, offices, and farm buildings, laid out a garden, dug a pond, and sunk two wells; but the young trees had not done well, very little water had collected in the pond, and that in the wells tasted brackish. Only one arbour of lilac and acacia had grown fairly well; they sometimes had tea and dinner in it. In a few minutes Bazarov had traversed all the little paths of the garden; he went into the cattle–yard and the stable, routed out two farm–boys, with whom he made friends at once, and set off with them to a small swamp about a mile from the house to look for frogs.
'What do you want frogs for, sir?' one of the boys asked him.
'I'll tell you what for,' answered Bazarov, who possessed the special faculty of inspiring confidence in people of a lower class, though he never tried to win them, and behaved very casually with them; 'I shall cut the frog open, and see what's going on in his inside, and then, as you and I are much the same as frogs, only that we walk on legs, I shall know what's going on inside us too.'
'And what do you want to know that for?'
'So as not to make a mistake, if you're taken ill, and I have to cure you.'
'Are you a doctor then?'
'Vaska, do you hear, the gentleman says you and I are the same as frogs, that's funny!'
'I'm afraid of frogs,' observed Vaska, a boy of seven, with a head as white as flax, and bare feet, dressed in a grey smock with a stand–up collar.
'What is there to be afraid of? Do they bite?'
'There, paddle into the water, philosophers,' said Bazarov.
Meanwhile Nikolai Petrovitch too had waked up, and gone in to see Arkady, whom he found dressed. The father and son went out on to the terrace under the shelter of the awning; near the balustrade, on the table, among great bunches of lilacs, the samovar was already boiling. A little girl came up, the same who had been the first to meet them at the steps on their arrival the evening before. In a shrill voice she said—
'Fedosya Nikolaevna is not quite well, she cannot come; she gave orders to ask you, will you please to pour out tea yourself, or should she send Dunyasha?'
'I will pour out myself, myself,' interposed Nikolai Petrovitch hurriedly. 'Arkady, how do you take your tea, with cream, or with lemon?'
'With cream,' answered Arkady; and after a brief silence, he uttered interrogatively, 'Daddy?'
Nikolai Petrovitch in confusion looked at his son.
'Well?' he said.
Arkady dropped his eyes.
'Forgive me, dad, if my question seems unsuitable to you,' he began, 'but you yourself, by your openness yesterday, encourage me to be open …you will not be angry … ?'
'You give me confidence to ask you…. Isn't the reason, Fen … isn't the reason she will not come here to pour out tea, because I'm here?'
Nikolai Petrovitch turned slightly away.
'Perhaps,' he said, at last, 'she supposes … she is ashamed.'
Arkady turned a rapid glance on his father.
'She has no need to be ashamed. In the first place, you are aware of my views' (it was very sweet to Arkady to utter that word); 'and secondly, could I be willing to hamper your life, your habits in the least thing? Besides, I am sure you could not make a bad choice; if you have allowed her to live under the same roof with you, she must be worthy of it; in any case, a son cannot judge his father,—least of all, I, and least of all such a father who, like you, has never hampered my liberty in anything.'
Arkady's voice had been shaky at the beginning; he felt himself magnanimous, though at the same time he realised he was delivering something of the nature of a lecture to his father; but the sound of one's own voice has a powerful effect on any man, and Arkady brought out his last words resolutely, even with emphasis.
'Thanks, Arkasha,' said Nikolai Petrovitch thickly, and his fingers again strayed over his eyebrows and forehead. 'Your suppositions are just in fact. Of course, if this girl had not deserved…. It is not a frivolous caprice. It's not easy for me to talk to you about this; but you will understand that it is difficult for her to come here, in your presence, especially the first day of your return.'
'In that case I will go to her,' cried Arkady, with a fresh rush of magnanimous feeling, and he jumped up from his seat. 'I will explain to her that she has no need to be ashamed before me.'
Nikolai Petrovitch too got up.
'Arkady,' he began, 'be so good … how can … there … I have not told you yet … '
But Arkady did not listen to him, and ran off the terrace. Nikolai Petrovitch looked after him, and sank into his chair overcome by confusion. His heart began to throb. Did he at that moment realise the inevitable strangeness of the future relations between him and his son? Was he conscious that Arkady would perhaps have shown him more respect if he had never touched on this subject at all? Did he reproach himself for weakness?—it is hard to say; all these feelings were within him, but in the state of sensations—and vague sensations—while the flush did not leave his face, and his heart throbbed.
There was the sound of hurrying footsteps, and Arkady came on to the terrace. 'We have made friends, dad!' he cried, with an expression of a kind of affectionate and good–natured triumph on his face. 'Fedosya Nikolaevna is not quite well to–day really, and she will come a little later. But why didn't you tell me I had a brother? I should have kissed him last night, as I have kissed him just now.'
Nikolai Petrovitch tried to articulate something, tried to get up and open his arms. Arkady flung himself on his neck.
'What's this? embracing again?' sounded the voice of Pavel Petrovitch behind them.
Father and son were equally rejoiced at his appearance at that instant; there are positions, genuinely affecting, from which one longs to escape as soon as possible.
'Why should you be surprised at that?' said Nikolai Petrovitch gaily. 'Think what ages I have been waiting for Arkasha. I've not had time to get a good look at him since yesterday.'
'I'm not at all surprised,' observed Pavel Petrovitch; 'I feel not indisposed to be embracing him myself.'
Arkady went up to his uncle, and again felt his cheeks caressed by his perfumed moustache. Pavel Petrovitch sat down to the table. He wore an elegant morning suit in the English style, and a gay little fez on his head. This fez and the carelessly tied little cravat carried a suggestion of the freedom of country life, but the stiff collars of his shirt—not white, it is true, but striped, as is correct in morning dress—stood up as inexorably as ever against his well–shaved chin.
'Where's your new friend?' he asked Arkady.
'He's not in the house; he usually gets up early and goes off somewhere. The great thing is, we mustn't pay any attention to him; he doesn't like ceremony.'
'Yes, that's obvious.' Pavel Petrovitch began deliberately spreading butter on his bread. 'Is he going to stay long with us?'
'Perhaps. He came here on the way to his father's.'
'And where does his father live?'
'In our province, sixty–four miles from here. He has a small property there. He was formerly an army doctor.'
'Tut, tut, tut! To be sure, I kept asking myself, "Where have I heard that name, Bazarov?" Nikolai, do you remember, in our father's division there was a surgeon Bazarov?'
'I believe there was.'
'Yes, yes, to be sure. So that surgeon was his father. Hm!' Pavel Petrovitch pulled his moustaches. 'Well, and what is Mr. Bazarov himself?' he asked, deliberately.
'What is Bazarov?' Arkady smiled. 'Would you like me, uncle, to tell you what he really is?'
'If you will be so good, nephew.'
'He's a nihilist.'
'Eh?' inquired Nikolai Petrovitch, while Pavel Petrovitch lilted a knife in the air with a small piece of butter on its tip, and remained motionless.
'He's a nihilist,' repeated Arkady.
'A nihilist,' said Nikolai Petrovitch. 'That's from the Latin, nihil, nothing, as far as I can judge; the word must mean a man who … who accepts nothing?'
'Say, "who respects nothing,"' put in Pavel Petrovitch, and he set to work on the butter again.
'Who regards everything from the critical point of view,' observed Arkady.
'Isn't that just the same thing?' inquired Pavel Petrovitch.
'No, it's not the same thing. A nihilist is a man who does not bow down before any authority, who does not take any principle on faith, whatever reverence that principle may be enshrined in.'
'Well, and is that good?' interrupted Pavel Petrovitch.
'That depends, uncle. Some people it will do good to, but some people will suffer for it.'
'Indeed. Well, I see it's not in our line. We are old–fashioned people; we imagine that without principles, taken as you say on faith, there's no taking a step, no breathing. Vous avez changé tout cela. God give you good health and the rank of a general, while we will be content to look on and admire, worthy … what was it?'
'Nihilists,' Arkady said, speaking very distinctly.
'Yes. There used to be Hegelists, and now there are nihilists. We shall see how you will exist in void, in vacuum; and now ring, please, brother Nikolai Petrovitch; it's time I had my cocoa.'
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