Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][subsumed][merged small][ocr errors]

can never forget him, but that she will so that, I confess, I drove her from my presenos longer be a trouble to him; and she keeps indignantly, and I threatened her, and said her word. She gives herself up.

would tell her injstress. I was regularly upset. This story is told to our sportsman by later, my wife comes to me in tears, --so agitated

But conceive my amazement when, a little Karataef himself, whom he meets in a vil that I was actually frightened. What's the lage posthouse. Just as it is finished, the matter?' say 1. -Arina'--says she--you unpostmaster announces to the two travellers derstand. Í am ashamed to speak about it. that their horses are ready. As they are 'Impossible !' say I. Who's the man?' 'Peleaving, “What became of Matrena ? " truchka, the footman,' says she. I was beside asks the sportsman. Karataef makes no re- myself. .... Petruchka was not to blame. ply beyond a vague gesture.

A

As to Arina. ... Of course I told them to cut year

later the chance acquaintances meet again. Kar- and send her into the country. ... Now, just

her hair short, and put a peasant's dress on her, ataef has changed for the worse, and has jadge for yourself;--you know my wife, such acquired a thoroughly dissipated and disre. a, a, a-well, an angel! Why, she was putable air. A conversation ensues, in which quité attached to Arina, and Arina knew it, and he begins to talk about the stage, goes on to yet wasn't ashamed. ... But what's the uso declaim a number of Hamlet's speeches, and of talking about it? At all events there was

The ingratitude of that ends by hiding his face in his hands. The nothing to be done. words inttered by Hamlet when thinking of shall not soon forget. Whatever you may say,

girl has grieved and wounded me in a' way I Ophelia have a special signification for him: it's no use looking for heart-for good feeling .66 Ab well!” he cries at last, quoting an old-in those people. However well you may proverb, “ if any one recalls the past, let him feed a wolf, it will be always looking towards lose an eye-that's true enough, isn't it?" the forest. Well, it's a lesson for the future."

An equally sad story is that of Arina, the Next to these illustrations of the dealings favourite waiting-maid of a lady who passed of the proprietors with their serfs, the most for an angel of goodness. This lady behaved interesting of the stories are those which very affably to her maids, but she never describe the manners and customs, the would hear of their marrying. One day she thoughts and feelings, of the peasantry, in caught sight of a singularly interesting girl their relations to each other. No one has of fifteeu on her husband's property, so she painted the common people of Russia more carried her off to the capital to wait upon correctly than M. Turguenief, and from these her. The girl cried a good deal at first, but sketches a very fair idea may be gained of at last she became accustomed to her place, what they are really like. Take for instance grew into a handsome woman, and became that called " Birouk," and study the scene che lady's principal attendant. The rest of the it depicts in the interior of a peasant's story may be told in the words of her master: cottage one night. The sportsman has been

“All of a sudden, one fine morning, Arina overtaken in a forest by a storm, and seeks comes into my study without asking leave, and refuge in a solitary hut. It belongs to a falls down at my feet. I may as well tell you forester, a rough, taciturn nan, of great frankly, that's a thing I can't bear. A human physical strength, and reputed to be very being ought never to forget its self-respect. severe in his dealings with all whom he Don't you think so? Well, what do you catches stealing his master's wood. His hut want?" I asked. Grant me a favour, my consists of a single room, low. smoky, and father. What is it?' Ict me marry with scarcely any furniture in it. The feeble WAB thoroughly astonished, I must confess. Why yon know, little fool, that your mistress and uncertain light of a pine wood splinter has no other lady's-maid.' " I will wait on the just serves to reveal the ragged sheepskir mistress as before. Nonsense, nonsense ; your hanging on the wall, the heap of rags mistress can't abide married servants." Mala- corner, the two large earthenware pots nea nia can take my place.'. 'I'll trouble you not the stove in the other, and the cradle in the to argue with

me, I say at last. Your wishes middle, rocked by a little girl, whose pali are law, but .. she begins to reply. I must thin face tells its tale of hardship and want am a man of this sorta

Frothing to hures mes I and whose only covering is a scanty cotto venture to say so deeply wounds me, as ingrat- dress. It is a sad picture that the interio itode. I'm sure I needn't tell you—you know of that lonely cottage offers, while the win yourself--what sort of a wife I have; an em- howls outside, and the rain beats agains bodied angel,--one whose goodness no words the narrow window-pane. Presently an ir can express.

. . Well, I drove Arina out of cident occurs which yields an added touc the room, I thought perlaps she would think of gloom to the scene. The forester has de better of it. You know one doesn't like to tected some one in the act of carrying off believe the human breast can harbour black ingratitude. What do you suppose ?

About tree, and brings bim a prisoner into the co six months later she does me the favour to re- tage. The culprit is a

The culprit is a peasant from th turn to me with the self-same request. On I neighbouring village, a wretched-lookin

N-2

[ocr errors]

6

le af is

in one

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

VOL. L,

man, clad in rags, which the rain has | death in the forest. A falling tree has crushdrenched. The feeble light which falls on ed the foreman of a band of wood-cutters, him as he sits on a bench in the corner just and, as he lies dying, he utters'a few broken serves to show his wan and wrinkled face, words to the peasants who surround him. It his restless look, bis emaciated limbe. The is his own fault, he says; he has worked and child lies down on the floor at bis feet and made others work on a Sunday; the Lord has goes to sleep. The forester sits at the table, punished him. He asks the merr he has had resting his head on his hands. A cricket under him to forgive him if he has ever chirps in the corner; the rain continues to injured them. They uncover their heads, fall heavily on the thatched roof, and to and reply that it is they whom he has to splash against the windows. For some time forgive. He is silent for a time; then, with the inmates of the cottage remain silent. At great difficulty, he says,-"Yesterday I last the peasant begins to plead for his lib- bought a horse--from Yefime-of Sichovo erty. "Let me go," he says; "it is hunger -I paid him the earnest-money--so it's that has made me do it let me go." His mine-give it to my wife." His body quihead shakes, he draws his breath with diffi- vers all over," like a wounded bird,” and culty;

a sort of ague-fit seems to have then stiffens. “He is dead," matter the seized him. He and all his are utterly peasants. The next story is that of a cottaruined, he says. It is the bailiff who has ger who is dying from injuries received at a done it. If he is taken before the authori- fire. A visitor finds him breathing with ties, he is lost. "Let me go," he cries in a difficulty, and evidently fast approaching tone of utter despair; "in God's name let his end. The room is dark, hot, and smoky. me go! I will pay for the tree, so help me A deathlike silence prevails in it. In one God I will! It was hunger made me do it, corner sits the dying man's wife, now and I swear—the children are crying for food, then shaking a finger of warning at a little you know that well enough. It's so hard to girl of five, who is hiding in another corner, get a living anyhow.” Then he begs the and munching a piece of bread. Outside, forester not to take away his horse-all that in the passage, there is a sound of steps and he has to live by—a wretched, half-starved of voices, and a woman is chopping cabbacreature, which is standing outside all this ges. The visitor asks if anything can be time, a captive like its master. It is the done for the sufferer, but they say he wants old story--bitter, hopeless, helpless misery nothing. Everything has been put in order; -the petty tyrant in the person of the the dying man is quietly waiting for death. bailiff) grinding the faces of the poor, and The third describes a visit paid to the phy. no hand ever stretched forth to help. sician of a country hospital by a miller, a

Such subjects as these have been describ- very powerful man, who has received an ed by many pens besides M. Turguenief's, internal injury, of which he has unfortunatebut it would be difficult to find any writer ly made light. The doctor tells him that he who has so thoroughly succeeded as he has is in great danger, but that every attention done in investing his work with an air of shall be paid him if he will remain in the reality. He is a perfect master of the art hospital. The miller reflects a moment, of story-telling, knowing exactly what is looking steadfastly at the floor, then gives the wanted to bring a scene vividly before his back of his neck a scratch and takes up his cap. readers' eyes, and never using a superfluous “Where are you going?" asks the doctor. word in so doing.

" Where?" replies the miller ; " why, home, In attaining a stage effect he never lets if it's so bad a business. I must settle my his machinery become visible for a moment, affairs, if that's the case.” si But you'll do and the illusion he produces is therefore yourself harm; I wonder you ever managed complete. Nothing careless or slovenly can to get here; you'd better stop."

« No, ever be detected in his execution. In all brother; if I'm to die, I'll die at home. the series of these pictures of country life no If I died here, God knows

knows what figure is ever out of drawing ; there is never might happen at home." The

milanything unmeaning or incongruous in the ler pays the doctor half a rouble, takes a colouring. Take, for instance, the chapter prescription from him, leaves the rooin, and called - Death," in which M. Turguenief gets into his cart. “Goodbye, doctor," he relates several anecdotes in illustration of says; "don't be angry with me, and don't his remark that the Russian peasant dies forget my orphan children if—". "Do stay," "coolly and simply, as if he were perform- replies the doctor; but the miller only shakes ing some rite." They only occupy ten pages his head and drives off. The road is in a in the original, but in that small space five wretched state, but the miller manages to stories are told, each of which has its own get along it capitally, and never neglects to distinct character. The first describes a salute the passers-by whom he meets, Three

[ocr errors][merged small]

days afterwards he is dead. The next story to his naturally eccentric character the perelates the quiet death of an enthusiastic culiarities of sectarian fanaticism young student who tills the post of tutor in "At last the heat compelled us to take sliela very unsympathetic family, and who, even ter in the wood. I lay down under a thick when death is staring him in the face, main- bazel-bush, above which a slender young tains the cheerful enthusiasm, the unselfish mapletree gracefully extended its bigh bran

interest in what others are doing, which had ches. There, lying on my back, I marked his earlier years. The last gives an began to amuse myself by noticing the quick account of the last moments of an old lady the brightness of the far-off sky. There is a

play of the tangled leaves in clear relief against of the upper class :

strange pleasure in lying on one's back in a

wood and looking upwards. You seem to be "The priest had began to read the deathbed gazing into a profound ocean, which stretches prayer, when suddenly ho perceived that she for away beneath you, and the trees do not was actually on the point of expiring; so he appear to be growing upwards from the earth, hurriedly pressed the crucifix to her lips. The but, like roots of huge plants, to shoot downold lady drew her head back with an air of wards, banging suspended in those crystal wo vexation. What are you in such a hurry ves of light. As to the leaves, tliey are i about, good father?' she said in a faltering some parts translucent as emeralds; in others voice. You will have time to ! She kissed they assume a denser green, here tinged with the crucifix, tried to put her hand under her gold, there almost passing into black. Now pillow, and expired. Under the pillow there and then, far far away, a solitary leaf that tips lay a silver rouble. She had wished to pay

a delicata twig stands out motionless against a for hor own deathbed rites herself."

blue spot of limpid sky, and by its side another

vibrates, with a movement that seems spontaIf space permitted, we would gladly give a few extracts from some of the other sketch-, neous, voluntary, and not attributable to the

wind. Like magic islands submerged, round es of rural life, such as the charming prose white clouds come slowly sailing by, and slowly idyll called " The Bejine Prairie,” in which pass away. Then suddenly across all that the belated sportsman passes the early hours radiant aerial sea, all those twigs and leaves of the night in listening to what may be bathed in the dazzling sunlight, a tremulous called ghost stories, told round their camp- to wave to and fro,

' avd there, arises a soft

shudder swiftly runs; the whole scene begins fire by a number of boys who are in charge whispering, like the rippling sound of suddenlyof the horses belonging to their village; or agitated

waters. You gaze aloft without stirfrom that styled “The Country House,” in ring, and no words can express the sweetness which the narrator overhears a conversation of that feeling of quiet happiness which fills carried on by the men employed by a landed your heart. You gaze, and the sight of those proprietor to manage his estate, and so clear azure depths calls up to your lips a smile becomes acquainted with many of the secrets

as guileless as they are themselves. Like the of their profession; or that entitled “The clouds in the sky, and as if together with them, Singers,” containing so poetic a description happy memories pass in slow succession through

your mind, and it seems to you as though your of the effect which music can produce even

gaze pierced farther and farther.on, and drew upon a village audience in Russia. Then you yourself after it into that tranquil bright there are also the illustrations of the life led abyss, and that from that distance, be it height by the small landed proprietors, a class or depth, you will never return.'! about which the general public in England These Notes by a Sportsman are written is almost as ignorant as it is about the peas- by M. Turguenief in so concise a style that ants, and one which affords to M. Turgue the first volume of one of the editions of his nief an opportunity of displaying his wealth collected works contains them all, twenty. of humour--that quiet style of humour two in number. In the four volumes which charming her descriptions of the somewhat more stories are included, each of then monotonous life led by the good people of illustrating some phase of Russian society Cranford. All that we can now do is to and all of them abounding in those sam attempt, by a brief extract, to convey some good qualities which rendered the sports idea of M. Turguenief's style in those por- man's sketches so attractive. They are al tions of his work which are devoted to de admirably told. Each has some peculia scriptions of the beauties of nature--pictures feature of its own, and many of them contai which have somewhat in common with those studies of character as carefully elaborate which Mr, George MacDonald knows so as if they had been intended to occupy th well how to paint, The passage we are post of honour in a regular novel. Instea about to quote occurs in the account of of giving a mere string of all their name Kasian, a strange being who belongs to one we will say a few words about two or thre of the branches of dissent from the establish of those among them which offer the mo ed Russian church, and who has grafted on I marked characteristics.

SO

One of the most touching is that of " Moo-her, and at last she becomes vexed and moo,” which has already been made known angry. The next day she declares. Moomoo to English readers by Mr. Sala.* Moomoo is has kept her awake by its barking during a dog which has been rescued from drown. the night, and that it must be sent away. ing, and carefully brought up by Garasimo, Of course she is obeyed, one of the servants the deaf and dumb dvornik, or porter, in the secretly kidnapping Moomoo, and selling it house of a selfish and whimsical old Moscow in the marketplace. Garasime is almost in lady. Cut off by his infirmity from almost despair, but at night he is roused from an all society with his fellowmen, Garasime unquiet slumber by the return of Moomoo, leads a secluded and cheerless life for some which has escaped from its new master. time after his removal from his native vil. The mute knows now the peril his favourite lage to the town-house of his mistress. But runs, so he tries to keep Moomoo concealed. after a while he becomes attached to His fellow-servants know that the dog has Tatiana, one of the maid-servants in the returned, but they say nothing about it. family, and manages in his uncouth way, by Unfortunately Moomoo betrays itself. It signs and smiles, to let her know that he barks, and wakens the old lady. The dog's loves her. Unluckily his owner takes it in. doom is sealed. The next day Garasime, to her head to marry Tatiana to another of who bas been made to understand what his her serfs, a drunken tailor. The superin- mistress wishes, carefully washes Moomoo tendent of the household, who is ordered to and combs its fleecy coat, then carries it to get the couple married, is greatly perplexed an cating-house and feeds it daintily, and how to manage it without offending Gara- afterwards takes it on board a boat, rows up sime, who is a giant in stature, and terrible the river to a quiet spot, and there drowns when his anger is roused, At last recourse the only friend he has in the world. That is had to a trick. Drunkedness is a failing night be leaves Moscow, and makes his way for which Garasime has the greatest avér- back on foot to his native village. There he sion, so Tatiana is induced one day to feign spends the rest of his days, always remainintoxication in his presence. The stratagem ing as grave and reserved, as sober and inis crowned with success. Garasime is hor- dustrious, as he had been in former years. rified at the sight of Tatiana's supposed The neighbours remark that he will never degradation. He takes ber by the hand and even so much as look at a woman, and that leads her, half dead with fear, across the he does not keep even a single dog in his courtyard and into the servants' hall. There cottage; but they are not surprised at that, he leaves her, waving a farewell to her with for, as they say, such a strong fellow as he is bis band, and then returns to his den, where does not want a woman to work for him nor he shuts bimself up for twenty-four hours. a dog to guard his hut. After that he takes no notice of Tatiana till There is one other story turning on the she leaves the house a year later, her bus- relations which used to exist between the band's drunkenness baving become intolera- serfs and their owners, which is worthy of ble. Just before she goes, Garasime comes special notice. It is called "The Taxup to her and gives ber a red cotton band- ern, ," * the scene being laid in a country inn kerchief he had bought for her a year be which stands by the side of one of the highfore. Up to this moment Tatiana has worn roads of Russia. It is kept by a serf an air of indifference, but now she bursts named Akim Semenof, an intelligent and into tears, and leaning forward as she sits well-informed man, who has travelled much, in the telega, "she kisses him three times in and benefited by his travels, and who has Christian fashion." He accompanies the thriven and laid by money. Unfortunately telega some way, then makes a sign of fare- he has made an unwise marriage, having well, and returns slowly along the river chosen as his second wife a young and pretty side, his eyes fixed on the water. It is then servant-maid, Avdotia, some six-and-twenty that he saves Moomoo from drowning. The years his junior. It is true that no harm dog soon becomes for him the one joy of bis comes of this marriage for several years, life. It is his single friend, his solitary during which Akim is perfectly contented companion. Every day be becomes more with the behaviour of his young wife, whom and more attached to it. At last he may he loves devotedly; but misfortune only be said to be even happy, for he has found tarries, it does not forget to come. One something to love. Que day his mistress evening a young commercial traveller named sees. Moomoo and sends for it to ber room. Naum Ivanof visits the tavern, and from She tries to please it, but it only growls at

* Translated by M. Xavier Marmier in the Scènes * In the volume containing "The Two Prima Don de la Vie Russe, under the title of L'Auberge de DAB," and other tales.

Grand Chemin,

[ocr errors]

The young

[ocr errors]

that day Akin's sorrows date. Naum gains to know which to select as the most charac-
Avdotia's heart, and she not only bestows teristic, so many of them have claims to be
her affections on him, but she also gives him considered, which are embarrassing when
Akim's money, taking it from time to time only a small amount of space can be accord-
out of her husband's secret hoard. When ed to them. As a specimen of a romantic
Naum has thus obtained the whole of story, it may perhaps be best to select Faust,
Akim's savings, be goes to Akim's mistress one of the most remarkable of the author's
and offers to give her two thousand roubles minor works, so far as his singular power of
for the tavern and its contents. At first analysing character is concerned. Paul
she hesitates, doubting if she bas a right to Alexandrovich B. is a young man who, at a
sell Akim's property, but her confidential very early age, falls in love with a young
servant, whom Naum has bribed, points out girl of sixteen, Viera Eltzof. Viera is a
to her that as Akim belongs to her, of course rather strange being, who has been brought
all that Akim has is hers also, so at last she up in a singular manner by a mother who is
yields. We can scarcely praise too highly also somewhat eccentric. Madame Eltzof
the skill with which the scenes are depicted has a strong aversion to all that can excite
in which Naum makes his bargain with the the imagination, and will not allow her
lady, and Akim vainly strives to gain re- daughter to read a line of poetry or a page
dress from her, and, gloomiest of all, that of romance. She very seldom smiles, and
in which the poor old man, as he returns she scarcely ever addresses her daughter in
from his fruitless errand, is met by the wife the tone of fondness usually adopted by moth-
who has betrayed him for Naum's sake, anders, but Viera is devotedly attached to her,
whom Naum has now driven from the house. in spite of her cold manner and her hard and
A little later comes another sombre scene, somewhat gloomy character.
in which Naum discovers Akim in the act Paul is kindly treated by both ladies, but
of revenging himself by setting the tavern when he proposes for Viera's hand her
on fire, seizes him and locks him up all night mother declines the offer.

He goes away, in a cellar. The next morning Akim is and, after the manner of very young men, about to be handed over to the authorities, forgets his love. Nine years later, on takwhen a neighbour arrives, whose entreaties ing up his residence on his estate in the and arguments induce Naum to let his pris- country, he finds that Viera, now Madame oner go, on condition that he swears he will Priemkof, is one of his neighbours. He give up all ideas of vengeance for the future. soon renews his acquaintance with her, and Akim swears as he is bid, takes a long silent she receives him with friendly frankness, and farewell of the house and barns he has him. he finds her just the same as she used to be, self built, and which belong to him no more, with the quiet look on her face wbich it and then slowly goes away.

Another very wore in olden days. Her life has evidently sad scené follows, in which Akim forgives lowed in an even current; nothing has ocand takes leave of his wretched wife. curred to trouble the calm which always Then he leaves the village in which he has seemed to dwell upon her smooth brow. lived so long, and sets out on a pilgrimage, Paul and Viera become great friends, and with the view of visiting the chief holy soon chat away without reserve. He learns places of Russia, and there" praying away that her mother, who has been dead some his sins." Years go by, and he still wan- years, gave her leave to read any books she

but every now and then he returns liked as soon as she married, but that she to his village, and on such occasions he has never cared to profit by her liberty, so never fails to offer to his mistress a conse- that she is still ignorant of what is meant crated loaf brought from some famous mona by the charm of poetry or of romance. This astery, where he has offered up a prayer for greatly astonishes him, and he offers to act her health, On her side, “she often men- as her introducer into the enchanted realm tions Akim's name, and declares, that ever of fiction. She consents, and he begins by since she had known his worth, she has reading to her his favourite poem, Goethe's thoroughly esteemed the Russian peasant." | Faust. As she understands German As for Naum, he keeps the inn for some thoroughly, he is able to read it to her in time, and grows rich. At last he retires the original. Her husband and an old Gerfrom it, and, if common report is to be be. man friend assist at the reading, which Jieved, makes a great fortune as a Govern. takes place one evening in a summer-house ment contractor.

om in the garden, and at the termination they We will turn now from M. Turguenief's applaud loudly, but she rises silently, and pictures of peasant life to those which he quietly goes out into the night. When she has devoted to the higher ranks of society. returns, it is evident that she has been cry, The only difficulty in dealing with them is ing, a fact which greatly astonishes her hus.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

ders on,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »