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<SPAN name="link2H_4_0021" id="link2H_4_0021"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> XXI. KATENKA AND LUBOTSHKA </h2> <p> Katenka was now sixteen years old&mdash;quite a grown-up girl; and although at that age the angular figures, the bashfulness, and the gaucherie peculiar to girls passing from childhood to youth usually replace the comely freshness and graceful, half-developed bloom of childhood, she had in no way altered. Still the blue eyes with their merry glance were hers, the well-shaped nose with firm nostrils and almost forming a line with the forehead, the little mouth with its charming smile, the dimples in the rosy cheeks, and the small white hands. To her, the epithet of "girl," pure and simple, was pre-eminently applicable, for in her the only new features were a new and "young-lady-like" arrangement of her thick flaxen hair and a youthful bosom&mdash;the latter an addition which at once caused her great joy and made her very bashful. </p> <p> Although Lubotshka and she had grown up together and received the same education, they were totally unlike one another. Lubotshka was not tall, and the rickets from which she had suffered had shaped her feet in goose fashion and made her figure very bad. The only pretty feature in her face was her eyes, which were indeed wonderful, being large and black, and instinct with such an extremely pleasing expression of mingled gravity and naivete that she was bound to attract attention. In everything she was simple and natural, so that, whereas Katenka always looked as though she were trying to be like some one else, Lubotshka looked people straight in the face, and sometimes fixed them so long with her splendid black eyes that she got blamed for doing what was thought to be improper. Katenka, on the contrary, always cast her eyelids down, blinked, and pretended that she was short-sighted, though I knew very well that her sight was excellent. Lubotshka hated being shown off before strangers, and when a visitor offered to kiss her she invariably grew cross, and said that she hated "affection"; whereas, when strangers were present, Katenka was always particularly endearing to Mimi, and loved to walk about the room arm in arm with another girl. Likewise, though Lubotshka was a terrible giggler, and sometimes ran about the room in convulsions of gesticulating laughter, Katenka always covered her mouth with her hands or her pocket-handkerchief when she wanted to laugh. Lubotshka, again, loved to have grown-up men to talk to, and said that some day she meant to marry a hussar, but Katenka always pretended that all men were horrid, and that she never meant to marry any one of them, while as soon as a male visitor addressed her she changed completely, as though she were nervous of something. Likewise, Lubotshka was continually at loggerheads with Mimi because the latter wanted her to have her stays so tight that she could not breathe or eat or drink in comfort, while Katenka, on the contrary, would often insert her finger into her waistband to show how loose it was, and always ate very little. Lubotshka liked to draw heads; Katenka only flowers and butterflies. The former could play Field's concertos and Beethoven's sonatas excellently, whereas the latter indulged in variations and waltzes, retarded the time, and used the pedals continuously&mdash;not to mention the fact that, before she began, she invariably struck three chords in arpeggio. </p> <p> Nevertheless, in those days I thought Katenka much the grander person of the two, and liked her the best. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0022" id="link2H_4_0022"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> XXII. PAPA </h2> <p> Papa had been in a particularly good humour ever since Woloda had passed into the University, and came much oftener to dine with Grandmamma. However, I knew from Nicola that he had won a great deal lately. Occasionally, he would come and sit with us in the evening before going to the club. He used to sit down to the piano and bid us group ourselves around him, after which he would beat time with his thin boots (he detested heels, and never wore them), and make us sing gipsy songs. At such times you should have seen the quaint enthusiasm of his beloved Lubotshka, who adored him! </p> <p> Sometimes, again, he would come to the schoolroom and listen with a grave face as I said my lessons; yet by the few words which he would let drop when correcting me, I could see that he knew even less about the subject than I did. Not infrequently, too, he would wink at us and make secret signs when Grandmamma was beginning to scold us and find fault with us all round. "So much for us children!" he would say. On the whole, however, the impossible pinnacle upon which my childish imagination had placed him had undergone a certain abasement. I still kissed his large white hand with a certain feeling of love and respect, but I also allowed myself to think about him and to criticise his behaviour until involuntarily thoughts occurred to me which alarmed me by their presence. Never shall I forget one incident in particular which awakened thoughts of this kind, and caused me intense astonishment. Late one evening, he entered the drawing-room in his black dress-coat and white waistcoat, to take Woloda (who was still dressing in his bedroom) to a ball. Grandmamma was also in her bedroom, but had given orders that, before setting out, Woloda was to come and say goodbye to her (it was her invariable custom to inspect him before he went to a ball, and to bless him and direct him as to his behaviour). The room where we were was lighted by a solitary lamp. Mimi and Katenka were walking up and down, and Lubotshka was playing Field's Second Concerto (Mamma's favourite piece) at the piano. Never was there such a family likeness as between Mamma and my sister&mdash;not so much in the face or the stature as in the hands, the walk, the voice, the favourite expressions, and, above all, the way of playing the piano and the whole demeanour at the instrument. Lubotshka always arranged her dress when sitting down just as Mamma had done, as well as turned the leaves like her, tapped her fingers angrily and said "Dear me!" whenever a difficult passage did not go smoothly, and, in particular, played with the delicacy and exquisite purity of touch which in those days caused the execution of Field's music to be known characteristically as "jeu perle" and to lie beyond comparison with the humbug of our modern virtuosi. </p> <p> Papa entered the room with short, soft steps, and approached Lubotshka. On seeing him she stopped playing. </p> <p> "No, go on, Luba, go on," he said as he forced her to sit down again. She went on playing, while Papa, his head on his hand, sat near her for a while. Then suddenly he gave his shoulders a shrug, and, rising, began to pace the room. Every time that he approached the piano he halted for a moment and looked fixedly at Lubotshka. By his walk and his every movement, I could see that he was greatly agitated. Once, when he stopped behind Lubotshka, he kissed her black hair, and then, wheeling quickly round, resumed his pacing. The piece finished, Lubotshka went up to him and said, "Was it well played?" whereupon, without answering, he took her head in his two hands, and kissed her forehead and eyes with such tenderness as I had never before seen him display. </p> <p> "Why, you are crying!" cried Lubotshka suddenly as she ceased to toy with his watch-chain and stared at him with her great black eyes. "Pardon me, darling Papa! I had quite forgotten that it was dear Mamma's piece which I was playing." </p> <p> "No, no, my love; play it often," he said in a voice trembling with emotion. "Ah, if you only knew how much good it does me to share your tears!" </p> <p> He kissed her again, and then, mastering his feelings and shrugging his shoulders, went to the door leading to the corridor which ran past Woloda's room. </p> <p> "Waldemar, shall you be ready soon?" he cried, halting in the middle of the passage. Just then Masha came along. </p> <p> "Why, you look prettier every day," he said to her. She blushed and passed on. </p> <p> "Waldemar, shall you be ready soon?" he cried again, with a cough and a shake of his shoulders, just as Masha slipped away and he first caught sight of me. </p> <p> I loved Papa, but the intellect is independent of the heart, and often gives birth to thoughts which offend and are harsh and incomprehensible to the feelings. And it was thoughts of this kind that, for all I strove to put them away, arose at that moment in my mind. </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0023" id="link2H_4_0023"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> XXIII. GRANDMAMMA </h2> <p> Grandmamma was growing weaker every day. Her bell, Gasha's grumbling voice, and the slamming of doors in her room were sounds of constant occurrence, and she no longer received us sitting in the Voltairian arm-chair in her boudoir, but lying on the bed in her bedroom, supported on lace-trimmed cushions. One day when she greeted us, I noticed a yellowish-white swelling on her hand, and smelt the same oppressive odour which I had smelt five years ago in Mamma's room. The doctor came three times a day, and there had been more than one consultation. Yet the character of her haughty, ceremonious bearing towards all who lived with her, and particularly towards Papa, never changed in the least. She went on emphasising certain words, raising her eyebrows, and saying "my dear," just as she had always done. </p> <p> Then for a few days we did not see her at all, and one morning St. Jerome proposed to me that Woloda and I should take Katenka and Lubotshka for a drive during the hours generally allotted to study. Although I observed that the street was lined with straw under the windows of Grandmamma's room, and that some men in blue stockings [Undertaker's men.] were standing at our gate, the reason never dawned upon me why we were being sent out at that unusual hour. Throughout the drive Lubotshka and I were in that particularly merry mood when the least trifle, the least word or movement, sets one off laughing. </p> <p> A pedlar went trotting across the road with a tray, and we laughed. Some ragged cabmen, brandishing their reins and driving at full speed, overtook our sledge, and we laughed again. Next, Philip's whip got caught in the side of the vehicle, and the way in which he said, "Bother the thing!" as he drove to disentangle it almost killed us with mirth. Mimi looked displeased, and said that only silly people laughed for no reason at all, but Lubotshka&mdash;her face purple with suppressed merriment&mdash;needed but to give me a sly glance, and we again burst out into such Homeric laughter, when our eyes met, that the tears rushed into them and we could not stop our paroxysms, although they nearly choked us. Hardly, again, had we desisted a little when I looked at Lubotshka once more, and gave vent to one of the slang words which we then affected among ourselves&mdash;words which always called forth hilarity; and in a moment we were laughing again. </p> <p> Just as we reached home, I was opening my mouth to make a splendid grimace at Lubotshka when my eye fell upon a black coffin-cover which was leaning against the gate&mdash;and my mouth remained fixed in its gaping position. </p> <p> "Your Grandmamma is dead," said St. Jerome as he met us. His face was very pale. </p> <p> Throughout the whole time that Grandmamma's body was in the house I was oppressed with the fear of death, for the corpse served as a forcible and disagreeable reminder that I too must die some day&mdash;a feeling which people often mistake for grief. I had no sincere regret for Grandmamma, nor, I think, had any one else, since, although the house was full of sympathising callers, nobody seemed to mourn for her from their hearts except one mourner whose genuine grief made a great impression upon me, seeing that the mourner in question was&mdash;Gasha! She shut herself up in the garret, tore her hair and refused all consolation, saying that, now that her mistress was dead, she only wished to die herself. </p> <p> I again assert that, in matters of feeling, it is the unexpected effects that constitute the most reliable signs of sincerity. </p> <p> Though Grandmamma was no longer with us, reminiscences and gossip about her long went on in the house. Such gossip referred mostly to her will, which she had made shortly before her death, and of which, as yet, no one knew the contents except her bosom friend, Prince Ivan Ivanovitch. I could hear the servants talking excitedly together, and making innumerable conjectures as to the amount left and the probable beneficiaries: nor can I deny that the idea that we ourselves were probably the latter greatly pleased me. </p> <p> Six weeks later, Nicola&mdash;who acted as regular news-agent to the house&mdash;informed me that Grandmamma had left the whole of her fortune to Lubotshka, with, as her trustee until her majority, not Papa, but Prince Ivan Ivanovitch! </p> <p> <SPAN name="link2H_4_0024" id="link2H_4_0024"> <!-- H2 anchor --> </SPAN> </p> <div style="height: 4em;"> <br /><br /><br /><br /> </div> <h2> XXIV. MYSELF </h2> <p> Only a few months remained before I was to matriculate for the University, yet I was making such good progress that I felt no apprehensions, and even took a pleasure in my studies. I kept in good heart, and learnt my lessons fluently and intelligently. The faculty I had selected was the mathematical one&mdash;probably, to tell the truth, because the terms "tangent," "differentials," "integrals," and so forth, pleased my fancy. </p> <p> Though stout and broad-shouldered, I was shorter than Woloda, while my ugliness of face still remained and tormented me as much as ever. By way of compensation, I tried to appear original. Yet one thing comforted me, namely, that Papa had said that I had "an INTELLIGENT face." I quite believed him. </p> <p> St. Jerome was not only satisfied with me, but actually had taken to praising me. Consequently, I had now ceased to hate him. In fact, when, one day, he said that, with my "capacities" and my "intellect," it would be shameful for me not to accomplish this, that, or the other thing, I believe I almost liked him. </p> <p> I had long ago given up keeping observation on the maidservants' room, for I was now ashamed to hide behind doors. Likewise, I confess that the knowledge of Masha's love for Basil had greatly cooled my ardour for her, and that my passion underwent a final cure by their marriage&mdash;a consummation to which I myself contributed by, at Basil's request, asking Papa's consent to the union. </p> <p> When the newly-married couple brought trays of cakes and sweetmeats to Papa as a thank-offering, and Masha, in a cap with blue ribbons, kissed each of us on the shoulder in token of her gratitude, I merely noticed the scent of the rose pomade on her hair, but felt no other sensation. </p> <p> In general, I was beginning to get the better of my youthful defects, with the exception of the principal one&mdash;the one of which I shall often again have to speak in relating my life's history&mdash;namely, the tendency to abstract thought. </p> <p>
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