Vladimir Petrovich Voldemar, a 16-year-old, is staying in the country with his family and meets Zinaida Alexandrovna Zasyekina, a beautiful 21-year-old woman, staying with her mother, Princess Zasyekina, in a wing of the manor. This family, as with many of the Russian minor nobility with royal ties of that time, were only afforded a degree of respectability because of their titles; the Zasyekins, in the case of this story, are a very poor family. The young Vladimir falls irretrievably in love with Zinaida, who has a set of several other (socially more eligible) suitors whom he joins in their difficult and often fruitless search for the young lady's favour.
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That the heart cannot choose but love,”’ repeated Zinaïda. ‘That’s where poetry’s so fine; it tells us what is not, and what’s not only better than what is, but much more like the truth, “cannot choose but love,” – it might want not to, but it
And so it’s settled,’ he observed, sitting back farther in his easy-chair and lighting a cigar; ‘each of us is to tell the story of his first love. It’s your turn, Sergei Nikolaevitch.’
She turned with a rapid motion to me, and flinging wide her arms, embraced my head, and gave me a warm and passionate kiss. God knows whom that long farewell kiss was seeking, but I eagerly tasted its sweetness. I knew that it would never be repeated. ‘Good-bye, good-bye,’ I kept saying … She tore herself away, and went out. And I went away. I cannot describe the emotion with which I went away. I should not wish it ever to come again; but I should think myself unfortunate had I never experienced such an emotion. We went back to town. I did not quickly shake off the past; I did not quickly get to work. My wound slowly began to heal;
This presentiment, this expectation, permeated my whole being; I breathed in it, it coursed through my veins with every drop of blood … it was destined to be soon fulfilled. The place, where we settled for
‘Did you go to the police station?’ the same female voice called again. The man muttered something in reply. ‘Eh… . Has some one come?’ I heard again… . ‘The young gentleman from next door. Ask him in, then.’ ‘Will you step into the drawing-room?’ said the servant, making his appearance once more, and picking up the plate from the floor. I mastered my emotions, and went into the drawing-room.
Zinaïda avoided me; my presence – I could not help noticing it – affected her disagreeably. She involuntarily turned away from me … involuntarily; that was what was so bitter, that was what crushed me! But there was no help for it, and I tried not to cross her path, and only to watch her from a distance, in which I was not always successful.
of crimson. As the sun came nearer, the lightning grew gradually paler, and ceased; the quivering gleams were fewer and fewer, and vanished at last, drowned in the sobering positive light
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