Ivan Turgenev Fathers and Sons translations
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Fathers and Sons
1862
Ivan Turgenev


Отцы и дети
1862
Ива́н Турге́нев

— Что, Петр, не видать еще? — спрашивал 20-го мая 1859 года, выходя без шапки на низкое крылечко постоялого двора на *** шоссе, барин лет сорока с небольшим, в запыленном пальто и клетчатых панталонах, у своего слуги, молодого и щекастого малого с беловатым пухом на подбородке и маленькими тусклыми глазенками.
Слуга, в котором все: и бирюзовая сережка в ухе, и напомаженные разноцветные волосы, и учтивые телодвижения, словом, все изобличало человека новейшего, усовершенствованного поколения, посмотрел снисходительно вдоль дороги и ответствовал: «Никак нет-с, не видать».
— Не видать? — повторил барин.
— Не видать, — вторично ответствовал слуга.
Барин вздохнул и присел на скамеечку. Познакомим с ним читателя, пока он сидит, подогнувши под себя ножки и задумчиво поглядывая кругом.
Зовут его Николаем Петровичем Кирсановым. У него в пятнадцати верстах от постоялого дворика хорошее имение в двести душ, или, как он выражается с тех пор, как размежевался с крестьянами и завел «ферму», — в две тысячи десятин земли. Отец его, боевой генерал 1812 года, полуграмотный, грубый, но не злой русский человек, всю жизнь свою тянул лямку, командовал сперва бригадой, потом дивизией и постоянно жил в провинции, где в силу своего чина играл довольно значительную роль. Николай Петрович родился на юге России, подобно старшему своему брату Павлу, о котором речь впереди, и воспитывался до четырнадцатилетнего возраста дома, окруженный дешевыми гувернерами, развязными, но подобострастными адъютантами и прочими полковыми и штабными личностями. Родительница его, из фамилии Колязиных, в девицах Agathe, а в генеральшах Агафоклея Кузьминишна Кирсанова, принадлежала к числу «матушек-командирш», носила пышные чепцы и шумные шелковые платья, в церкви подходила первая ко кресту, говорила громко и много, допускала детей утром к ручке, на ночь их благословляла, — словом, жила в свое удовольствие. В качестве генеральского сына Николай Петрович — хотя не только не отличался храбростью, но даже заслужил прозвище трусишки — должен был, подобно брату Павлу, поступить в военную службу; но он переломил себе ногу в самый тот день, когда уже прибыло известие об его определении, и, пролежав два месяца в постели, на всю жизнь остался «хроменьким». Отец махнул на него рукой и пустил его по штатской. Он повез его в Петербург, как только ему минул восемнадцатый год, и поместил его в университет. Кстати, брат его о ту пору вышел офицером в гвардейский полк. Молодые люди стали жить вдвоем, на одной квартире, под отдаленным надзором двоюродного дяди с материнской стороны, Ильи Колязина, важного чиновника. Отец их вернулся к своей дивизии и к своей супруге и лишь изредка присылал сыновьям большие четвертушки серой бумаги, испещренные размашистым писарским почерком. На конце этих четвертушек красовались старательно окруженные «выкрутасами» слова: «Пиотр Кирсаноф, генерал-майор». В 1835 году Николай Петрович вышел из университета кандидатом, и в том же году генерал Кирсанов, уволенный в отставку за неудачный смотр, приехал в Петербург с женою на житье. Он нанял было дом у Таврического сада и записался в английский клуб, но внезапно умер от удара. Агафоклея Кузьминишна скоро за ним последовала: она не могла привыкнуть к глухой столичной жизни; тоска отставного существованья ее загрызла. Между тем Николай Петрович успел, еще при жизни родителей и к немалому их огорчению, влюбиться в дочку чиновника Преполовенского, бывшего хозяина его квартиры, миловидную и, как говорится, развитую девицу: она в журналах читала серьезные статьи в отделе «Наук». Он женился на ней, как только минул срок траура, и, покинув министерство уделов, куда по протекции отец его записал, блаженствовал со своею Машей сперва на даче около Лесного института, потом в городе, в маленькой и хорошенькой квартире, с чистою лестницей и холодноватою гостиной, наконец — в деревне, где он поселился окончательно и где у него в скором времени родился сын Аркадий. Супруги жили очень хорошо и тихо: они почти никогда не расставались, читали вместе, играли в четыре руки на фортепьяно, пели дуэты; она сажала цветы и наблюдала за птичьим двором, он изредка ездил на охоту и занимался хозяйством, а Аркадий рос да рос — тоже хорошо и тихо. Десять лет прошло как сон. В 47-м году жена Кирсанова скончалась. Он едва вынес этот удар, поседел в несколько недель; собрался было за границу, чтобы хотя немного рассеяться... но тут настал 48-й год. Он поневоле вернулся в деревню и после довольно продолжительного бездействия занялся хозяйственными преобразованиями. В 55-м году он повез сына в университет; прожил с ним три зимы в Петербурге, почти никуда не выходя и стараясь заводить знакомства с молодыми товарищами Аркадия. На последнюю зиму он приехать не мог, — и вот мы видим его в мае месяце 1859 года, уже совсем седого, пухленького и немного сгорбленного: он ждет сына, получившего, как некогда он сам, звание кандидата.
Слуга, из чувства приличия, а может быть, и не желая остаться под барским глазом, зашел под ворота и закурил трубку. Николай Петрович поник головой и начал глядеть на ветхие ступеньки крылечка: крупный пестрый цыпленок степенно расхаживал по ним, крепко стуча своими большими желтыми ногами; запачканная кошка недружелюбно посматривала на него, жеманно прикорнув на перила. Солнце пекло; из полутемных сеней постоялого дворика несло запахом теплого ржаного хлеба. Замечтался наш Николай Петрович. «Сын... кандидат... Аркаша...» — беспрестанно вертелось у него в голове; он пытался думать о чем-нибудь другом, и опять возвращались те же мысли. Вспомнилась ему покойница-жена... «Не дождалась!» — шепнул он уныло... Толстый сизый голубь прилетел на дорогу и поспешно отправился пить в лужицу возле колодца. Николай Петрович стал глядеть на него, а ухо его уже ловило стук приближающихся колес...
— Никак они едут-с, — доложил слуга, вынырнув из-под ворот.
Николай Петрович вскочил и устремил глаза вдоль дороги. Показался тарантас, запряженный тройкой ямских лошадей; в тарантасе мелькнул околыш студентской фуражки, знакомый очерк дорогого лица...
— Аркаша! Аркаша! — закричал Кирсанов, и побежал, и замахал руками... Несколько мгновений спустя его губы уже прильнули к безбородой, запыленной и загорелой щеке молодого кандидата.

Richard Hare
2006


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“Well, Pyotr, still not in sight?” was the question asked on 20th May, 1859, by a gentleman of about forty, wearing a dusty overcoat and checked trousers, who came out hatless into the low porch of the posting station at X. He was speaking to his servant, a chubby young fellow with whitish down growing on his chin and with dim little eyes.
The servant, in whom everything — the turquoise ring in his ear, the hair plastered down with grease and the polite flexibility of his movements — indicated a man of the new improved generation, glanced condescendingly along the road and answered, “No, sir, definitely not in sight.”
“Not in sight?” repeated his master.
“No, sir,” replied the servant again.
His master sighed and sat down on a little bench. We will introduce him to the reader while he sits, with his feet tucked in, looking thoughtfully around.
His name was Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov- He owned, about twelve miles from the posting station, a fine property of two hundred serfs or, as he called it — since he had arranged the division of his land with the peasants — a “farm” of nearly five thousand acres. His father, a general in the army, who had served in 1812, a crude, almost illiterate, but good—natured type of Russian, had stuck to a routine job all his life, first commanding a brigade and later a division, and lived permanently in the provinces, where by virtue of his rank he was able to play a certain part. Nikolai Petrovich was born in south Russia, as was his elder brother Pavel, of whom we shall hear more; till the age of fourteen he was educated at home, surrounded by cheap tutors, free—and—easy but fawning adjutants, and all the usual regimental and staff people. His mother, a member of the Kolyazin family, was called Agatha as a girl, but as a general’s wife her name was Agafoklea Kuzminishna Kirsanov; she was a domineering military lady, wore gorgeous caps and rustling silk dresses; in church she was the first to go up to the cross, she talked a lot in a loud voice, let her children kiss her hand every morning and gave them her blessing at night — in fact, she enjoyed her life and got as much out of it as she could. As a general’s son, Nikolai Petrovich — though so far from brave that he had even been called a “funk” — was intended, like his brother Pavel, to enter the army; but he broke his leg on the very day he obtained a commission and after spending two months in bed he never got rid of a slight limp for the rest of his life. His father gave him up as a bad job and let him go in for the civil service. He took him to Petersburg as soon as he was eighteen and placed him in the university there. His brother happened at the same time to become an officer in a guards regiment. The young men started to share a flat together, and were kept under the remote supervision of a cousin on their mother’s side, Ilya Kolyazin, an important official. Their father returned to his division and to his wife and only occasionally wrote to his sons on large sheets of grey paper, scrawled over in an ornate clerkly handwriting; the bottom of these sheets was adorned with a scroll enclosing the words, “Pyotr Kirsanov, Major—General.”
In 1835 Nikolai Petrovich graduated from the university, and in the same year General Kirsanov was put on the retired list after an unsuccessful review, and came with his wife to live in Petersburg. He was about to take a house in the Tavrichesky Gardens, and had joined the English club, when he suddenly died of an apoplectic fit. Agafoklea Kuzminishna soon followed him to the grave; she could not adapt herself to a dull life in the capital and was consumed by the boredom of retirement from regimental existence. Meanwhile Nikolai Petrovich, during his parents’ lifetime and much to their distress, had managed to fall in love with the daughter of his landlord, a petty official called Prepolovensky. She was an attractive and, as they call it, wel1—educated girl; she used to read the serious articles in the science column of the newspapers. He married her as soon as the period of mourning for his parents was over, and leaving the civil service, where his father had secured him a post through patronage, he started to live very happily with his Masha, first in a country villa near the Forestry Institute, afterwards in Petersburg in a pretty little flat with a clean staircase and a draughty drawing room, and finally in the country where he settled down and where in due course his son, Arkady, was born. Husband and wife lived well and peacefully; they were hardly ever separated, they read together, they sang and played duets together on the piano, she grew flowers and looked after the poultry yard, he busied himself with the estate and sometimes hunted, while Arkady went on growing in the same happy and peaceful way. Ten years passed like a dream. Then in 1847 Kirsanov’s wife died- He hardly survived this blow and his hair turned grey in a few Weeks; he was preparing to travel abroad, if possible to distract his thoughts but then came the year 1848. He returned unwillingly to the country and after a rather long period of inactivity he began to take an interest in improving his estate. In 1855 he brought his son to the university and spent three winters in Petersburg with him, hardly going out anywhere and trying to make acquaintance with Arkady’s young comrades. The last winter he was unable to go, and here we see him in May, 1859, already entirely grey—haired, plump and rather bent, waiting for his son, who had just taken his university degree, as once he had taken it himself.


Michael R. Katz
1996


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"Well, Peter, still no sign of them?" asked the gentleman on the twentieth of May 1859, as he came out onto the low porch of a carriage inn on *** highway. The man, in his early forties, wearing a dustcovercd coat, checked trousers, and no hat, directed the question to his servant, a chubby young fellow with whitish down on his chin and small dull eyes.

The servant, about whom everything—the turquoise ring in his ear, styled multicolored hair, ingratiating movements, in a word, everything—proclaimed him to be a man of the new, advanced generation, glanced condescendingly down the road and replied, "No, sir, no sign of them."
"No sign?" repeated the gentleman.
"No sign." replied the servant a second time.
The gentleman sighed and sat down on the bench. Let's acquaint the reader with him while he's sitting there, feet tucked under him, gazing thoughtfully around.

His name is Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov. He owns a fine estate, located twelve miles or so from the carriage inn, with two hundred serfs, or, as he describes it, since negotiating the boundaries with his peasants and establishing a "farm," an estate with about five thousand acres of land. His father, a general who fought in 1812, was a semiliterate, coarse Russian, not in the least malicious, who worked hard all his life—first in command of a brigade, then a division—and who always lived in the provinces, where, as a result of his rank, he came to play quite an important role. Nikolai Petrovich was born in the south of Russia, just like his older brother, Pavel, about whom more later, and was brought up at home until the age of fourteen, surrounded by underpaid tutors, free-and-easy but obsequious adju-tants, and other regimental and staff people. His mother, a member of the Kolyazin family, called Agathe as a girl, then Agafokleya Kuzminishna Kirsanova as a general's wife, belonged to a group of "lady commandants"; she wore splendid caps and silk dresses that rustled, was the first one in church to approach the cross, spoke a great deal and in a loud voice, allowed her children to kiss her hand in the morning, and gave them her blessing at night—in a word, she lived life just as she pleased. In his role as the general's son, Nikolai Petrovich—not only was he undistinguished by bravery, but he'd even earned a reputation as something of a coward—was required, just like his brother, Pavel, to enter military service; but he managed to break his leg the very day he received news of his commission, and, after spending two months in bed, retained a slight limp for the rest of his life. His father gave up on him and allowed him to enter the civil service. He brought him to Petersburg as soon as he turned eighteen and enrolled him in the university. By the way, just about the same time, his brother became an officer in a guards regiment. The two young men shared an apartment under the distant supervi-sion of a cousin on their mother's side, Ilya Kolyazin, an important man. Their father returned home to his division and his spouse, and only upon occasion would he send his sons large quarto sheets of gray paper covered with a sweeping clerkly scrawl. On the bottom of these sheets appeared the words "Piotr Kirsanoff, Major-General," painstakingly surrounded by flourishes. In 1835 Nikolai Petrovich left the university with a candidate's degree,' in the same year General Kirsanov, involuntarily retired after an unsuccessful review, arrived in Petersburg with his wife to take up residence. He was just about to move into a house near the Tauride Garden and join the English Club when he died suddenly from a stroke. Agafokleya Kunninishna followed soon afterward: she couldn't get used to the dull life in the capital—she was consumed by the ennui of retire-ment. In the meantime Nikolai Petrovich, during his parents' life-time, and to their considerable dismay, had managed to fall in love with the daughter of a certain Prepolovensky, a low-ranking civil ser-vant and the previous owner of their apartment. She was an attrac-tive and, as they say, progressive young woman: she used to read serious journal articles published in the section called "Science." He married her right after the period of mourning, and, forsaking the Ministry of Crown Domains' where his father had secured him a position, he led a blissful life with his Masha, first in a country cot-tage near the Forestry Institute; later in town, in a small, comfort-able apartment, with a clean staircase and a chilly living room; and finally, in the country, where he settled down once and for all and where, a very short time afterward, his son, Arkady, was born. The couple lived very happily and peacefully; they were hardly ever apart, read together, played pieces for four hands at the piano, sang duets; she planted flowers and looked after the poultry; every so often he went off hunting and busied himself with estate manage-ment, while Arkady kept on growing—also happily and peacefully. Ten years passed like a dream. In 1847 Kirsanov's wife died. He hardly survived the blow and his hair turned gray in the course of a few weeks; he was hoping to go abroad to distract himself a bit . . . but then came the events of 1848. He returned to the country against his will and, after a rather long period of inactivity occupied himself with the reorganization of his estate. In 1855 he brought his son to the university; he spent three winters there with him in Petersburg, going almost nowhere and trying to make the acquain-tance of Arkady's young companions. The last winter he was unable to come—and now we see him in May 1859, completely gray, stout, and somewhat stooped; he's waiting for his son, who just received his candidate's degree, as he himself had some time before.

The servant, out of a sense of propriety, or perhaps because he didn't want to remain under his master's eye, had gone to the gate and lit his pipe. Nikolai Petrovich bent his head and began staring at the decrepit porch steps; nearby. a large mottled young chicken strutted with a stately gait, treading firmly with its big yellow legs; a scruffy cat, curled up in a most affected manner against the railing, observed the chicken with hostility. The sun was scorching; a smell of warm rye bread wafted from the dark passage of the carriage inn. Our Nikolai Petrovich fell into a reverie. "My son . . . a graduate . . . Arkasha . . ." constantly ran through his head; he tried to think about something else, but the same thoughts returned. He recalled his late wife . . . "She didn't live to see it!" he whispered gloomily. . . A plump, blue-gray dove flew down onto the road and went off to drink from a puddle near the well. Nikolai Petrovich stared at it, but his ear had already caught the sound of approaching wheels ...

"Seems they're coming, sir," announced the servant, darting in from the gate.


Richard Freeborn
1991


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'Nothing to be seen yet, Peter?' was the question asked on 20th May 1859 by a landowner of a little over forty, in a dusty overcoat and checked trousers, as he came out on to the low front steps of a post-station on the *** highway, addressing his servant, a young, round-checked fellow with some whitish fluff on his chin and small, lacklustre eyes.

The servant, in which everything (the turquoise ring in one ear, the pomaded multi-coloured hair, the unctuous body movements), literally everything bespoke an example of the newest, absolutely perfect generation of gentleman's gentlemen, glanced superciliously along the road and pronounced in reply:

'Nothing to he seen, sah.'
'Nothing to be seen?' the landowner repeated.
'Nothing to be seen,' the servant pronounced a second time.

The landowner sighed and sat down on a bench. We will acquaint the reader with him while he sits there, tucking his feet in beneath him and looking thoughtfully around.

His name is Nikolai Petrovich Kirsanov. About ten miles or so from the post-station he has a good estate of two hundred serfs or, as he puts it since he redrew his boundaries with his peasants and set up a 'farm', an estate of some five thousand acres. His father, a general who had seen active service in 1812, a Russian gentleman, semi-literate, coarse-grained, but without malice, had been in the army all his life, first in command of a brigade, then a division, and had lived all the time in the provinces where, on the strength of his rank, he had played a fairly significant role. Nikolai Petrovich had been born in the south of Russia, like his elder brother Pavel (about whom later), and had been educated at home until the age of fourteen, surrounded by cheap tutors, free-and-easy but obsequious adjutants and other regimental and staff types. His mother, from the Kolyazin family, known as Agathe before marriage but as Agafokleya Kuzininishna Kirsanov in her capacity as a general's wife, belonged to the tribe of 'matriarchal battleaxes' and wore sumptuous bonnets and noisy silk dresses, was always the first in church to go up to kiss the cross, talked loudly and a great deal, permitted her children to kiss her hand each morning and gave them her blessing each night—in short, lived her life to her heart's content. As the son of a general, Nikolai Petrovich, although he not only did not excel in bravery but even deserved the nickname of 'cowardy custard', was intended for the army like loss brother Pavel, but on the very day when news of his call-up came he broke his leg and, after spending a couple of months in bed, remained all his life 'a bit of a cripple'. His father dismissed him with a wave of the hand and let him be a civilian. Fle took him to St Petersburg the moment he reached eighteen and entered him hor the university. Meanwhile, his brother had just become an officer in a guards regiment. The young men started a life together in the same apartment under the distant guardianship of a second cousin on their mother's side, Ilya Kolyazin, a high-ranking civil servant. Their father returned to his division and his wife and only occasionally sent his sons large quarto sheets of grey paper covered in his flowing clerkish scrawl. The end of these sheets was always graced by the words: Piotr Kirsanof, Major-General', assiduously surrounded by embellishments of squiggles.

In 1835 Nikolai Petroch graduated from the university, and in the same year General Kirsanov, having been forced to retire after a disastrous inspection, came with his wife to St Petersburg to find somewhere to live. He was intending to take a house by the l'auride Gardens and join the English Club but suddenly died of a stroke. Agafokleva Kuzminishna soon followed him: she couldn't stand the dull life of the capital
dull life of the capital and the anguish of a life of retirement became insufferable to her. In the meantime Nikolai Petrovich succeeded, even in the lifetime of his parents and to their sus small distress, in falling in love with the daughter of an official called Prepolovensky, the previous owner of his apartment, an attractive and, as they say, well-developed girl who used to read serious articles in the 'Science' sections of journals. Ilya married her as soon as the mourning was over and, having given up his job in the Ministry of Crown Estates, where his father had found him a place, enjoyed a life of bliss with his Masha, first of all in a country cottage near the Institute of Forestry, then in the city itself, in a small, pretty apartment with a clean staircase and a chilly sitting-room and, finally, in the country where he settled at last and where his son Arkady was soon born. The married couple lived together extremely happily and calmly, hardly ever apart, reading together, playing duets on the piano and singing songs; she was fond of planting flowers and looking after the poultry, he occasionally went hunting and looked after the management of the estate—and all the while Arkady went on growing and growing, just as happily and calmly. Ten years went by like a dream. In 1847 Kirsanov's wife died. Ilya scarcely survived the blow and went grey in a matter of weeks. Ile was planning to go abroad to distract himself a little — but then along came 1848. He returned willy-nilly to his estate and after a fairly long period of inactivity set about making changes. In 1855 he took his son up to university and spent three winters with him in St Petersburg, hardly ever going out and endeavouring to get to know Arkady's young friends.


Avril Pyman
1962


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'Well, Pyotr? Not in sight yet?'

The question was put on 20th May 1859 by a gentleman of rather more than forty years of age as he came out, hatless and dressed in a dust-stained overcoat and check trousers, on to the low porch of the posting-house on the main road to X; he was addressing his servant, a heavy-jowled young fellow with an almost white down on his chin and small, dull eyes.

Everything about the servant—the turquoise earring in one ear, the oiled, streaky hair, the obsequious movements, in short, everything—betrayed the man of a very modern and superior generation. He glanced condescendingly down the road and replied after due deliberation: 'No, sir. Not in sight.'
'Not in sight?' repeated the gentleman.
'Not in sight,' the servant answered a second time.
The gentleman sighed and sat down on the edge of a small bench. Let us acquaint the reader with him more fully while he sits there gazing ruminatively round about, his short legs drawn up beneath him.

His name is Nikolay Petrovich Kirsanov. Some twelve miles from this little posting-house he owns a property of two hundred 'souls' or, as he himself expresses it, since he partitioned his estate among his peasantry and introduced the 'farming system', of nearly five thousand acres. His father, a general who had seen active service in 1812, a rough, semi-literate but not unkindly Russian type, had remained in harness all his life, commanding first a brigade and then a division, and had always lived in the provinces where, thanks to his rank, he figured as a person of some standing. Nikolay Petrovich was born in the south of Russia, as was his elder brother Pavel, of whom more later, and was brought up at home until the age of fourteen, surrounded by inferior tutors, over-familiar yet sycophantic adjutants, and other such characters as are to be found in every regiment and on every staff. His lady mother, of the family of Kolyazin, known when she was a girl as Agathe but after she became a general's wife as Agafokleya Kuz'minishna Kirsanova, was of the 'battle-axe' breed, wore imposing caps and rustling silk dresses, was always the first to go up to the cross at church, talked loudly and volubly, admitted her children to kiss her hand in the mornings and again to receive her blessing before they went to bed—in short, lived according to her own good pleasure. As the son of a general Nikolay Petrovich, although he was in no way remarkable for valour and had even been labelled a bit of a coward, was destined, like his brother Pavel, to take up a military career; but he broke his leg on the very day that news was received that he had been accepted for the army and, having lain in bed for two months, was left with a slight limp which remained with him for the rest of his life. His father gave him up as a hopeless case and permitted him to take up a civilian career. He took him to Petersburg as soon as he was eighteen and entered him at the university. As it happened, his brother was commissioned as an officer in a guards regiment at about the same time. The two young men shared the same rooms under the distant super-vision of a cousin once removed on their mother's side, Il'ya Kolyazin, a distinguished civil servant. Their father returned to his division and to his wife, and it was only from time to time that he sent his sons large quarto sheets of grey paper closely covered by a sprawling, clerkly hand. At the


bottom of these missives appeared in all their splendour, painstakingly surrounded by twirls and twists, the words 'Piyotr Kirsanoff, Major-General.' In 1835 Nikolay Petrovich graduated from the university and, in the same year, General Kirsanov, who had been retired as the result of the unsuccessful conduct of a military review, arrived with his wife to take up residence in Petersburg. He had rented a house by the Tauride Gardens and had already become a member of the English Club when he died, suddenly, of a stroke. Agafokleya Kuz'rainishna soon figlowed him: she could not grow accustomed to her obscure existence in the capital; the nostalgic boredom of life in retirement wore her away. Meanwhile Nikolay Petrovich had found the opportunity, during the lifetime of his parents and to their considerable distress, to fall in love with the daughter of his one-time landlord, a civil servant named Prepolovensky. She was a sweet-faced and, as they say, advanced girl who read serious articles in the scientific sections of periodicals. He married her as soon as he was out of mourning and, abandoning the Ministry of Crown Lands where, with the help of higher patronage, his father had obtained employment for him, settled down to a life of bliss with his Masha, first in a private house near the Institute of Forestry, then in town, in a small and pretty apartment with a well-kept staircase and a rather chilly drawing-room and, finally, in the country, where he estab-lished himself permanently and where, not long after their arrival, a son was born to him—Arkady. Husband and wife lived together very contentedly and quietly. They were almost inseparable, read aloud to one another, played pieces written for four hands on the pianoforte and sang duets. She planted flowers and kept an eye on the fowls. He would occasionally go hunting or put in some work at the manage-ment of his estate. And Arkady grew and grew—also contentedly and quietly.


Constance Garnett
1917


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‘Well, Piotr, not in sight yet?‘ was the question asked on May the 2otl1, 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.
His name was Nikolai Petrovitch Kirsanov. He had, twelve miles from the posting station, a fine property of two hundred souls, or, as he expressed it—since he had arranged the division of his land with the peasants, and started ‘a farm'—of nearly five thousand acres. His father, a general in the army, who served in 1812, a coarse, half-educated, but not ill-natured man, a typical Russian, had been in harness all his life, first in command of a brigade, and then of a division, and lived constantly in the provinces, where, by virtue of his rank, he played a fairly important part. Nikolai Petrovitch was born in the south of Russia like his elder brother, Pavel, of whom more hereafter. He was educated at home till he was fourteen, surrounded by cheap tutors, free-and-easy but toadying adjutants, and all the usual regimental and staff set. His mother, one of the Kolyazin family, as a girl called Agathe, but as a general's wife Agathokleya Kuzminishna Kirsanov, was one of those military ladies who take their full share of the duties and dignities of office. She wore gorgeous caps and rustling silk dresses; in church she was the first to advance to the cross; she talked a great deal in a loud voice, let her children kiss her hand in the morning, and gave them her blessing at night—in fact, she got everything out of life she could.
Nikolai Petrovitch, as a general's son—though so far from being distinguished by courage that he even deserved to be called 'a funk'—was intended, like his brother Pavel, to enter the army; but he broke his leg on the very day when the news of his commission came, and, after being two months in bed, retained a slight limp to the end of his days. His father gave him up as a bad job, and let him go into the civil service. He took him to Petersburg directly he was eighteen, and placed him in the university. His brother happened about the same time to be made an officer in the Guards. The young men started living together in one set of rooms, under the remote supervision of a cousin on their mother's side, Ilya Kolyazin, an official of high rank. Their father returned to his division and his wife, and only rarely sent his sons large sheets of grey paper, scrawled over in a bold clerkly hand. At the bottom of these sheets stood in letters, enclosed carefully in scroll-work, the words, ‘Piotr Kirsanov, General- Major.' In 1835 Nikolai Petrovitch left the university, a graduate, and in the same year General Kirsanov was put on to the retired list after an unsuccessful review, and came to Petersburg with his wife to live. He was about to take a house in the Tavrichesky Gardens, and had joined the English club, but he died suddenly of an apoplectic fit. Agathokleya Kuzminishna soon followed him; she could not accustom herself to a dull life in the capital; she was consumed by the ennui of existence away from the regiment.


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