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<SPAN name="link2H_4_0005" id="link2H_4_0005"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> V. MY ELDER BROTHER </h2> <p> I was only a year and some odd months younger than Woloda, and from the first we had grown up and studied and played together. Hitherto, the difference between elder and younger brother had never been felt between us, but at the period of which I am speaking, I began to have a notion that I was not Woloda's equal either in years, in tastes, or in capabilities. I even began to fancy that Woloda himself was aware of his superiority and that he was proud of it, and, though, perhaps, I was wrong, the idea wounded my conceit&mdash;already suffering from frequent comparison with him. He was my superior in everything&mdash;in games, in studies, in quarrels, and in deportment. All this brought about an estrangement between us and occasioned me moral sufferings which I had never hitherto experienced. </p> <p> When for the first time Woloda wore Dutch pleated shirts, I at once said that I was greatly put out at not being given similar ones, and each time that he arranged his collar, I felt that he was doing so on purpose to offend me. But, what tormented me most of all was the idea that Woloda could see through me, yet did not choose to show it. </p> <p> Who has not known those secret, wordless communications which spring from some barely perceptible smile or movement&mdash;from a casual glance between two persons who live as constantly together as do brothers, friends, man and wife, or master and servant&mdash;particularly if those two persons do not in all things cultivate mutual frankness? How many half-expressed wishes, thoughts, and meanings which one shrinks from revealing are made plain by a single accidental glance which timidly and irresolutely meets the eye! </p> <p> However, in my own case I may have been deceived by my excessive capacity for, and love of, analysis. Possibly Woloda did not feel at all as I did. Passionate and frank, but unstable in his likings, he was attracted by the most diverse things, and always surrendered himself wholly to such attraction. For instance, he suddenly conceived a passion for pictures, spent all his money on their purchase, begged Papa, Grandmamma, and his drawing master to add to their number, and applied himself with enthusiasm to art. Next came a sudden rage for curios, with which he covered his table, and for which he ransacked the whole house. Following upon that, he took to violent novel-reading&mdash;procuring such works by stealth, and devouring them day and night. Involuntarily I was influenced by his whims, for, though too proud to imitate him, I was also too young and too lacking in independence to choose my own way. Above all, I envied Woloda his happy, nobly frank character, which showed itself most strikingly when we quarrelled. I always felt that he was in the right, yet could not imitate him. For instance, on one occasion when his passion for curios was at its height, I went to his table and accidentally broke an empty many-coloured smelling-bottle. </p> <p> "Who gave you leave to touch my things?" asked Woloda, chancing to enter the room at that moment and at once perceiving the disorder which I had occasioned in the orderly arrangement of the treasures on his table. "And where is that smelling bottle? Perhaps you&mdash;?" </p> <p> "I let it fall, and it smashed to pieces; but what does that matter?" </p> <p> "Well, please do me the favour never to DARE to touch my things again," he said as he gathered up the broken fragments and looked at them vexedly. </p> <p> "And will YOU please do me the favour never to ORDER me to do anything whatever," I retorted. "When a thing's broken, it's broken, and there is no more to be said." Then I smiled, though I hardly felt like smiling. </p> <p> "Oh, it may mean nothing to you, but to me it means a good deal," said Woloda, shrugging his shoulders (a habit he had caught from Papa). "First of all you go and break my things, and then you laugh. What a nuisance a little boy can be!" </p> <p> "LITTLE boy, indeed? Then YOU, I suppose, are a man, and ever so wise?" </p> <p> "I do not intend to quarrel with you," said Woloda, giving me a slight push. "Go away." </p> <p> "Don't you push me!" </p> <p> "Go away." </p> <p> "I say again&mdash;don't you push me!" </p> <p> Woloda took me by the hand and tried to drag me away from the table, but I was excited to the last degree, and gave the table such a push with my foot that I upset the whole concern, and brought china and crystal ornaments and everything else with a crash to the floor. </p> <p> "You disgusting little brute!" exclaimed Woloda, trying to save some of his falling treasures. </p> <p> "At last all is over between us," I thought to myself as I strode from the room. "We are separated now for ever." </p> <p> It was not until evening that we again exchanged a word. Yet I felt guilty, and was afraid to look at him, and remained at a loose end all day. </p> <p> Woloda, on the contrary, did his lessons as diligently as ever, and passed the time after luncheon in talking and laughing with the girls. As soon, again, as afternoon lessons were over I left the room, for it would have been terribly embarrassing for me to be alone with my brother. When, too, the evening class in history was ended I took my notebook and moved towards the door. Just as I passed Woloda, I pouted and pulled an angry face, though in reality I should have liked to have made my peace with him. At the same moment he lifted his head, and with a barely perceptible and good-humouredly satirical smile looked me full in the face. Our eyes met, and I saw that he understood me, while he, for his part, saw that I knew that he understood me; yet a feeling stronger than myself obliged me to turn away from him. </p> <p> "Nicolinka," he said in a perfectly simple and anything but mock-pathetic way, "you have been angry with me long enough. I am sorry if I offended you," and he tendered me his hand. </p> <p> It was as though something welled up from my heart and nearly choked me. Presently it passed away, the tears rushed to my eyes, and I felt immensely relieved. </p> <p> "I too am so-rry, Wo-lo-da," I said, taking his hand. Yet he only looked at me with an expression as though he could not understand why there should be tears in my eyes. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0006" id="link2H_4_0006"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> VI. MASHA </h2> <p> None of the changes produced in my conception of things were so striking as the one which led me to cease to see in one of our chambermaids a mere servant of the female sex, but, on the contrary, a WOMAN upon whom depended, to a certain extent, my peace of mind and happiness. From the time of my earliest recollection I can remember Masha an inmate of our house, yet never until the occurrence of which I am going to speak&mdash;an occurrence which entirely altered my impression of her&mdash;had I bestowed the smallest attention upon her. She was twenty-five years old, while I was but fourteen. Also, she was very beautiful. But I hesitate to give a further description of her lest my imagination should once more picture the bewitching, though deceptive, conception of her which filled my mind during the period of my passion. To be frank, I will only say that she was extraordinarily handsome, magnificently developed, and a woman&mdash;as also that I was but fourteen. </p> <p> At one of those moments when, lesson-book in hand, I would pace the room, and try to keep strictly to one particular crack in the floor as I hummed a fragment of some tune or repeated some vague formula&mdash;in short, at one of those moments when the mind leaves off thinking and the imagination gains the upper hand and yearns for new impressions&mdash;I left the schoolroom, and turned, with no definite purpose in view, towards the head of the staircase. </p> <p> Somebody in slippers was ascending the second flight of stairs. Of course I felt curious to see who it was, but the footsteps ceased abruptly, and then I heard Masha's voice say: </p> <p> "Go away! What nonsense! What would Maria Ivanovna think if she were to come now?" </p> <p> "Oh, but she will not come," answered Woloda's voice in a whisper. </p> <p> "Well, go away, you silly boy," and Masha came running up, and fled past me. </p> <p> I cannot describe the way in which this discovery confounded me. Nevertheless the feeling of amazement soon gave place to a kind of sympathy with Woloda's conduct. I found myself wondering less at the conduct itself than at his ability to behave so agreeably. Also, I found myself involuntarily desiring to imitate him. </p> <p> Sometimes I would pace the landing for an hour at a time, with no other thought in my head than to watch for movements from above. Yet, although I longed beyond all things to do as Woloda had done, I could not bring myself to the point. At other times, filled with a sense of envious jealousy, I would conceal myself behind a door and listen to the sounds which came from the maidservants' room, until the thought would occur to my mind, "How if I were to go in now and, like Woloda, kiss Masha? What should I say when she asked me&mdash;ME with the huge nose and the tuft on the top of my head&mdash;what I wanted?" Sometimes, too, I could hear her saying to Woloda, </p> <p> "That serves you right! Go away! Nicolas Petrovitch never comes in here with such nonsense." Alas! she did not know that Nicolas Petrovitch was sitting on the staircase just below and feeling that he would give all he possessed to be in "that bold fellow Woloda's" place! I was shy by nature, and rendered worse in that respect by a consciousness of my own ugliness. I am certain that nothing so much influences the development of a man as his exterior&mdash;though the exterior itself less than his belief in its plainness or beauty. </p> <p> Yet I was too conceited altogether to resign myself to my fate. I tried to comfort myself much as the fox did when he declared that the grapes were sour. That is to say, I tried to make light of the satisfaction to be gained from making such use of a pleasing exterior as I believed Woloda to employ (satisfaction which I nevertheless envied him from my heart), and endeavoured with every faculty of my intellect and imagination to console myself with a pride in my isolation. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0007" id="link2H_4_0007"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> VII. SMALL SHOT </h2> <p> "Good gracious! Powder!" exclaimed Mimi in a voice trembling with alarm. "Whatever are you doing? You will set the house on fire in a moment, and be the death of us all!" Upon that, with an indescribable expression of firmness, Mimi ordered every one to stand aside, and, regardless of all possible danger from a premature explosion, strode with long and resolute steps to where some small shot was scattered about the floor, and began to trample upon it. </p> <p> When, in her opinion, the peril was at least lessened, she called for Michael and commanded him to throw the "powder" away into some remote spot, or, better still, to immerse it in water; after which she adjusted her cap and returned proudly to the drawing-room, murmuring as she went, "At least I can say that they are well looked after." </p> <p> When Papa issued from his room and took us to see Grandmamma we found Mimi sitting by the window and glancing with a grave, mysterious, official expression towards the door. In her hand she was holding something carefully wrapped in paper. I guessed that that something was the small shot, and that Grandmamma had been informed of the occurrence. In the room also were the maidservant Gasha (who, to judge by her angry flushed face, was in a state of great irritation) and Doctor Blumenthal&mdash;the latter a little man pitted with smallpox, who was endeavouring by tacit, pacificatory signs with his head and eyes to reassure the perturbed Gasha. Grandmamma was sitting a little askew and playing that variety of "patience" which is called "The Traveller"&mdash;two unmistakable signs of her displeasure. </p> <p> "How are you to-day, Mamma?" said Papa as he kissed her hand respectfully. "Have you had a good night?" </p> <p> "Yes, very good, my dear; you KNOW that I always enjoy sound health," replied Grandmamma in a tone implying that Papa's inquiries were out of place and highly offensive. "Please give me a clean pocket-handkerchief," she added to Gasha. </p> <p> "I HAVE given you one, madam," answered Gasha, pointing to the snow-white cambric handkerchief which she had just laid on the arm of Grandmamma's chair. </p> <p> "No, no; it's a nasty, dirty thing. Take it away and bring me a CLEAN one, my dear." </p> <p> Gasha went to a cupboard and slammed the door of it back so violently that every window rattled. Grandmamma glared angrily at each of us, and then turned her attention to following the movements of the servant. After the latter had presented her with what I suspected to be the same handkerchief as before, Grandmamma continued: </p> <p> "And when do you mean to cut me some snuff, my dear?" </p> <p> "When I have time." </p> <p> "What do you say?" </p> <p> "To-day." </p> <p> "If you don't want to continue in my service you had better say so at once. I would have sent you away long ago had I known that you wished it." </p> <p> "It wouldn't have broken my heart if you had!" muttered the woman in an undertone. </p> <p> Here the doctor winked at her again, but she returned his gaze so firmly and wrathfully that he soon lowered it and went on playing with his watch-key. </p> <p> "You see, my dear, how people speak to me in my own house!" said Grandmamma to Papa when Gasha had left the room grumbling. </p> <p> "Well, Mamma, I will cut you some snuff myself," replied Papa, though evidently at a loss how to proceed now that he had made this rash promise. </p> <p> "No, no, I thank you. Probably she is cross because she knows that no one except herself can cut the snuff just as I like it. Do you know, my dear," she went on after a pause, "that your children very nearly set the house on fire this morning?" </p> <p> Papa gazed at Grandmamma with respectful astonishment. </p> <p> "Yes, they were playing with something or another. Tell him the story," she added to Mimi. </p> <p> Papa could not help smiling as he took the shot in his hand. </p> <p> "This is only small shot, Mamma," he remarked, "and could never be dangerous." </p> <p> "I thank you, my dear, for your instruction, but I am rather too old for that sort of thing." </p> <p> "Nerves, nerves!" whispered the doctor. </p> <p> Papa turned to us and asked us where we had got the stuff, and how we could dare to play with it. </p> <p> "Don't ask THEM, ask that useless 'Uncle,' rather," put in Grandmamma, laying a peculiar stress upon the word "UNCLE." "What else is he for?" </p> <p> "Woloda says that Karl Ivanitch gave him the powder himself," declared Mimi. </p> <p> "Then you can see for yourself what use he is," continued Grandmamma. "And where IS he&mdash;this precious 'Uncle'? How is one to get hold of him? Send him here." </p> <p> "He has gone an errand for me," said Papa. </p> <p> "That is not at all right," rejoined Grandmamma. "He ought ALWAYS to be here. True, the children are yours, not mine, and I have nothing to do with them, seeing that you are so much cleverer than I am; yet all the same I think it is time we had a regular tutor for them, and not this 'Uncle' of a German&mdash;a stupid fellow who knows only how to teach them rude manners and Tyrolean songs! Is it necessary, I ask you, that they should learn Tyrolean songs? However, there is no one for me to consult about it, and you must do just as you like." </p> <p> The word "NOW" meant "NOW THAT THEY HAVE NO MOTHER," and suddenly awakened sad recollections in Grandmamma's heart. She threw a glance at the snuff-box bearing Mamma's portrait and sighed. </p> <p> "I thought of all this long ago," said Papa eagerly, "as well as taking your advice on the subject. How would you like St. Jerome to superintend their lessons?" </p> <p> "Oh, I think he would do excellently, my friend," said Grandmamma in a mollified tone, "He is at least a tutor comme il faut, and knows how to instruct des enfants de bonne maison. He is not a mere 'Uncle' who is good only for taking them out walking." </p> <p> "Very well; I will talk to him to-morrow," said Papa. And, sure enough, two days later saw Karl Ivanitch forced to retire in favour of the young Frenchman referred to. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0008" id="link2H_4_0008"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> VIII. KARL IVANITCH'S HISTORY </h2> <p> THE evening before the day when Karl was to leave us for ever, he was standing (clad, as usual, in his wadded dressing-gown and red cap) near the bed in his room, and bending down over a trunk as he carefully packed his belongings. </p> <p> His behaviour towards us had been very cool of late, and he had seemed to shrink from all contact with us. Consequently, when I entered his room on the present occasion, he only glanced at me for a second and then went on with his occupation. Even though I proceeded to jump on to his bed (a thing hitherto always forbidden me to do), he said not a word; and the idea that he would soon be scolding or forgiving us no longer&mdash;no longer having anything to do with us&mdash;reminded me vividly of the impending separation. I felt grieved to think that he had ceased to love us and wanted to show him my grief. </p> <p> "Will you let me help you?" I said, approaching him. </p> <p> He looked at me for a moment and turned away again. Yet the expression of pain in his eyes showed that his coldness was not the result of indifference, but rather of sincere and concentrated sorrow. </p> <p> "God sees and knows everything," he said at length, raising himself to his full height and drawing a deep sigh. "Yes, Nicolinka," he went on, observing, the expression of sincere pity on my face, "my fate has been an unhappy one from the cradle, and will continue so to the grave. The good that I have done to people has always been repaid with evil; yet, though I shall receive no reward here, I shall find one THERE" (he pointed upwards). "Ah, if only you knew my whole story, and all that I have endured in this life!&mdash;I who have been a bootmaker, a soldier, a deserter, a factory hand, and a teacher! Yet now&mdash;now I am nothing, and, like the Son of Man, have nowhere to lay my head." Sitting down upon a chair, he covered his eyes with his hand. </p> <p> Seeing that he was in the introspective mood in which a man pays no attention to his listener as he cons over his secret thoughts, I remained silent, and, seating myself upon the bed, continued to watch his kind face. </p> <p> "You are no longer a child. You can understand things now, and I will tell you my whole story and all that I have undergone. Some day, my children, you may remember the old friend who loved you so much&mdash;" </p> <p> He leant his elbow upon the table by his side, took a pinch of snuff, and, in the peculiarly measured, guttural tone in which he used to dictate us our lessons, began the story of his career. </p> <p> Since he many times in later years repeated the whole to me again&mdash;always in the same order, and with the same expressions and the same unvarying intonation&mdash;I will try to render it literally, and without omitting the innumerable grammatical errors into which he always strayed when speaking in Russian. Whether it was really the history of his life, or whether it was the mere product of his imagination&mdash;that is to say, some narrative which he had conceived during his lonely residence in our house, and had at last, from endless repetition, come to believe in himself&mdash;or whether he was adorning with imaginary facts the true record of his career, I have never quite been able to make out. On the one hand, there was too much depth of feeling and practical consistency in its recital for it to be wholly incredible, while, on the other hand, the abundance of poetical beauty which it contained tended to raise doubts in the mind of the listener. </p> <p> "Me vere very unhappy from ze time of my birth," he began with a profound sigh. "Ze noble blot of ze Countess of Zomerblat flows in my veins. Me vere born six veek after ze vetting. Ze man of my Mutter (I called him 'Papa') vere farmer to ze Count von Zomerblat. He coult not forget my Mutter's shame, ant loaft me not. I had a youngster broser Johann ant two sister, pot me vere strange petween my own family. Ven Johann mate several silly trick Papa sayt, 'Wit sis chilt Karl I am never to have one moment tranquil!' and zen he scoltet and ponishet me. Ven ze sister quarrellet among zemselves Papa sayt, 'Karl vill never be one opedient poy,' ant still scoltet ant ponishet me. My goot Mamma alone loaft ant tenteret me. Often she sayt to me, 'Karl, come in my room,' ant zere she kisset me secretly. 'Poorly, poorly Karl!' she sayt. 'Nopoty loaf you, pot I will not exchange you for somepoty in ze worlt, One zing your Mutter pegs you, to rememper,' sayt she to me, 'learn vell, ant be efer one honest man; zen Got will not forsake you.' Ant I triet so to become. Ven my fourteen year hat expiret, ant me coult partake of ze Holy Sopper, my Mutter sayt to my Vater, 'Karl is one pig poy now, Kustaf. Vat shall we do wis him?' Ant Papa sayt, 'Me ton't know.' Zen Mamma sayt, 'Let us give him to town at Mister Schultzen's, and he may pea Schumacher,' ant my Vater sayt, 'Goot!' Six year ant seven mons livet I in town wis ze Mister Shoemaker, ant he loaft me. He sayt, 'Karl are one goot vorkman, ant shall soon become my Geselle.' Pot-man makes ze proposition, ant Got ze deposition. In ze year 1796 one conscription took place, ant each which vas serviceable, from ze eighteens to ze twenty-first year, hat to go to town. </p> <p> "My Fater and my broser Johann come to town, ant ve go togezer to throw ze lot for which shoult pe Soldat. Johann drew ze fatal nomper, and me vas not necessary to pe Soldat. Ant Papa sayt, 'I have only vun son, ant wis him I must now separate!' </p> <p> "Den I take his hant, ant says, 'Why say you so, Papa? Come wis me, ant I will say you somesing.' Ant Papa come, ant we seat togezer at ze publics-house, ant me sayt, 'Vaiter, give us one Bierkrug,' ant he gives us one. We trink altogezer, and broser Johann also trink. 'Papa,' sayt me, 'ton't say zat you have only one son, ant wis it you must separate, My heart was breaking ven you say sis. Broser Johann must not serve; ME shall pe Soldat. Karl is for nopoty necessary, and Karl shall pe Soldat.' </p> <p> "'You is one honest man, Karl,' sayt Papa, ant kiss me. Ant me was Soldat." </p> <p>
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