Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

SPRING FLOODS.

BY IVAN TURGENIEFF.

TRANSLATED FROM THE RUSSIAN FOR THE ECLECTIC BY MIS SSOPHIE MICHELL.

“O happy years
And joyful days !
Like floods in spring,
Ye've passed away!'

. . It was two o'clock in the to compare life to a troubled sea. In his morning when he returned to his rooms. fancy, the great sea of life lay stretched He sent away the servant who was light- before him, so smooth, so stagnant and ing the candles, and throwing himself into transparent, and gazing down from his an arm-chair by the fire, buried his face in imaginary small, unsteady boat, he could his hands.

discern shapeless monsters lying far beNever yet had he experienced such low in the darkness : all life's trials, sickutter weariness, morally or physically. nesses, sorrows, madnesses, its poverty and He had spent the whole of that evening its blindness.

Looking again, in the society of agreeable and educated he could see one of these monstrous obpeople; some of the women were pretty, jects dividing itself from the darkness, and, almost all the men were distinguished for rising higher and higher, it becomes feartheir intellect and talents ; he, himself, fully distinct. Yet another minute, and had spoken well, if not brilliantly; yet danger menaces the boat! It is past : never had that “tædium vitæ,” already the monster sinks gradually lower, and experienced by the Romans—that aver- falls at last to the ground, where it lies sion from life-taken such strong hold of moving feebly. But alas ! the fatal day him before. Had he been some years must surely come when that small, unyounger, he would have wept tears of an- steady boat shall be upset. guish, lonesomeness, and irritability, for He raised his head, rose suddenly from his heart was full of bitterness. A heavy his chair, walked twice up and down the gloom encircled him like a dark autumnal room, seated himself at his writing-table, night, and he could find no way out of and opening one drawer after another, bethis darkness and bitterness. The only gan hunting amongst his papers, which remedy for such a gloomy state of mind consisted chiefly of letters. He did not was sleep, but that solace he felt was de- know why he did it-he was not searchnied him.

ing for any thing-he was simply striving He pondered slowly and bitterly over the to escape from the thoughts which opuseless turmoil of life, over the meanness pressed him. Unfolding several letters, and falseness of human nature. The dif- (in one he found a withered flower fastenferent periods of life passed gradually be- ed with a bit of faded ribbon,) he only fore his mental vision, (he had only reach. shrugged his shoulders, and turning to the ed his fifty-second year,) and each re- fire, put them aside, probably with the inceived no mercy at his hands. In every tention of destroying them. Hurriedly period he perceived the same emptiness introducing his hand into each drawer, he and frivolity, the same half-concealed, suddenly opened his eyes wide with astohalf-acknowledged love of flattery-which, nishment, and slowly drew out a small ocinstead even of soothing a child, would tagonal box of an old-fashioned shape, sooner cause it to cry—and then, as sud- and as slowly lifted the lid. In the box, den as a snow-storm, he beheld old age beneath a double layer of discolored paapproach, and with it the ever-increasing per, lay a garnet cross. great dread of death . . next death For several moments he gazed perplexitselí hurrying old age into the dark abyss! cdly at the cross, and a low cry escaped Well is it, if every life is played out like his lips

.. Pity and joy were both this ! But often, sickness and great suffer- expressed in his face. He felt like one who ings sear our life long before our earthly had suddenly met an old friend whom he journey is accomplished. Poets are wont had long lost sight of, whom he had fondly loved, and who now appeared before him, sugar drops, he saw no one; a cat alone unexpectedly, after the lapse of years, and purred in a high wicker chair by the winyet unchanged by time.

dow, and on the floor, with a slanting ray He rose, and returning to the fire, seat of the evening sun full on it, lay a large ed himself again in his chair, and once ball of bright red wool, and close by more buried his face in his hands, mur- a small basket overturned. Confused muring, Of all days, why to-day !" sounds were heard in the next room. SaAnd many things that had happened to nin waited awhile and then, as no one him in life came back to his memory. answered the bell, he called out in a loud This is what he remembered.

voice, “Is no one here ?" At the same But we must first tell our readers his moment the door from the next room was name. It was Dimitri Petrovitch Sanin. violently thrown open, and Sanin stood And these were his recollections : struck with astonishment. I.

II. It was in the summer of 1840. Sanin had A girl of nineteen, with a mass of black only just entered his twenty-second year, curls flowing over her uncovered shoulders, and was passing through Frankfort en routé had suddenly burst into the shop with to Russia from Italy. He was a young man outstretched arms, and seeing Sanin, rushof small means, entirely his own master, ed up to him, seized his hand, and tried and with but few relations. On the death to lead him back with her, saying at the of a distant relative, he found himself the same time, in a stifled voice, “Quick, quick, possessor of several thousand rubles, and here, save him!" It was not from an unhe at once determined to spend this money willingness to obey her, but from sheer abroad, before he entered the government amazement, that Sanin, instead of immeservice, which, he thought, was the only dately following her, stood rooted to the career left to him in his penniless condition. ground. He had never seen such beauty Sanin carried out his intentions faithfully, before. She turned to him with such deand managed so dexterously that the day spair in her voice, in her look, in the movehe arrived at Frankfort, he found he had ment of her clinched hand which she held just sufficient money to take him back to to her pale cheek, and said so earnestly, St. Petersburg. In the year 1840 there “ Come, oh! come !" that he sprang to were very few railways, and tourists travel- the opened door. ed about in diligences. Sanin had taken In the room they had entered, stretcha seat in a diligence, but it was not to leave ed on an old-fashioned horse-hair sofa, lay Frankfort until eleven o'clock at night. a boy of about fourteen, apparently her He had therefore several hours at his dis- brother, with a face as white as marble. posal until that time. Fortunately, the His eyes were closed, and his dark thick weather was lovely, and Sanin having din- hair threw a shadow over his pale foreed at the celebrated hotel, the “ White head and finely-penciled eyebrows, and Swan,” sauntered out to explore the town. his parted blue lips showed his teeth firmly He saw Danneker's “Ariadne," which pleas- clinched.

. He seemed not to breathe; ed him but little ; he visited the house one hand had fallen over the sofa, while where had lived Göthe, of whose works the other was thrown behind his head. he had only read Werther, in a French The boy was lying dressed, with his necktranslation; he walked along the banks of tie tightly fastened round his neck. the Main, and grew sorrowful, as every The young girl threw herself down real traveler should do, and at last, at beside the boy.

beside the boy. “He is dead, he is six in the evening, he found himself dead," she cried passionately; "a minute tired and dusty in one of the principal ago he was sitting here-speaking to me streets of Frankfort. On one of its nu- -and suddenly he fell down and has not merous houses, the signboard of an Ita- moved since.

0 God! can no lian confectioner, “ Giovani Roselli," at- help be had? And my mother away! tracted his notice. He entered the shop Pantaleone, Pantaleone, where is the docto get himself a glass of lemonade ; but in tor?” she added in Italian, “have you the first room, where, behind a neat little been to fetch him?" counter, were arranged on painted shelves "No, Signora, I have sent Louisa," glass jars with rusks, chocolate cakes, and answered a gruff voice from behind the

door ;

and then a little old man came shuf- Sanin took the coat off the boy very fling into the room, dressed in a plum-color- gently, turned his own shirt-sleeves up, ed dress-coat with black buttons, a high and, taking the clothes-brush, commenced white choker, short nankeen trousers, and rubbing his chest and hands with all his dark blue stockings. His small face was strength. Pantaleone used the same hardly visible from the quantity of iron- energy with the hair-brush, along the gray hair that fell over it. His hair stood boy's trousers and boots, while the young high on the top of his head and hung in girl knelt by the side of the sofa, holding straggling locks, giving him very much the her brother's head in both her hands, and appearance of a ruffled hen, more espe- never taking her eyes off his face, into cially so, as the only features to be distin- which she gazed anxiously and lovingly. guished from beneath this mass of iron- Sanin, while thus occupied, watched the gray were his sharp nose and round yellow young girl furtively. “Heavens! what a eyes.

lovely creature,” he inwardly ejaculated. “ Louisa can run, and I can not,” con

III. tinued the old man in Italian, looking down at his large gouty feet clad in high Her nose was not small, but handsomeshoes with bows; “ but here, I have ly shaped, and her upper lip was covered brought some water."

with a soupçon of down, while her comHe held the neck of a bottle, grasped plexion was of a clear olive; her wavy in his shriveled bony fingers.

hair, like that of Allori's Judith in the “But Emile may die in the mean Palazzo Pitti, and more especially her eyes, while!" exclaimed the young girl, turning deep gray with a dark rim beneath the to Sanin for assistance. “O

sir! can you lashes-such beautiful eyes, though at the not help him in any way?"

moment overclouded by fear and grief, “ He must be bled-he has a fit," in- still radiantly triumphant eyes-carried terposed old Pantaleone.

him back in imagination to that glorious Although Sanin had no knowledge country from whence he was now returnwhatever of medicine, one thing he did ing. ... Even in Italy he had never know—that boys of fourteen were not seen eyes to rival those he now gazed at. subject to fits.

The young girl breathed slowly and irregu“ He has only fainted, it is no fit,” he larly, and between each breath she drew, said, addressing Pantaleone.“ Have you she seemed to listen and wait for a breath any brushes ?" The old man raised his to escape her brother's lips. face in astonishment, and said abruptly, Sanin still kept rubbing the boy, and 66 What?"

occasionally watching the old man, whose “ Brushes, brushes," repeated Sanin in original appearance attracted his attention. German and French. “ Clothes-brushes," Old Pantaleone had exhausted his strength he added, brushing his own coat with his and was breathing with great difficulty; hand.

each time he lifted the brush he gave a The old man understood him at last. little jump and groan, and his locks of

“ Brushes ! spazzette! of course we have hair, saturated with perspiration, fell to brushes !"

and fro about his face, like the root of “ Give them here then; we must take some big tree washed by the water. off his coat and rub him.”

“ Draw off his boots," Sanin was about Benone ! But will you not put any to say to him, when the dog, unable water on his head ?".

to comprehend the nature of the distur“No,

we shall do that after- bance, gave vent to his feelings in a loud ward; go and fetch the brushes."

bark. Pantaleone placed the bottle on the Tartaglia, canaglia!" growled the old floor, ran out of the room, and returned man in a low voice. At that instant a with a couple of brushes, one a hair-brush, change came over the young girl's face. the other a clothes-brush. A curly poodle She raised her dark eyebrows, and her followed him, wagging his tail furiously and large eyes sparkled with happiness. Sanin looking up inquiringly at the old man, the turned to the boy—a color had come to young girl, and even at Sanin, as though his face, his nostrils were moving, and a anxious to know what all the excitement sigh escaped through his still firmly closed was about.

teeth.

now.

IV.

“ Emile," she cried, Emilio mio!" life—we wish to thank you, and so does

A pair of large black eyes opened very my mother; you must tell us who you are, gradually. There was still a vacant look and you must rejoice with us in his rein them, but nevertheless they smiled, covery." though faintly, and the smile reached his “But I leave for Berlin to-day," stampale lips. He moved the hand that hung mered Sanin. over the sofa and placed it on his “But you will still have time," continued breast.

the young girl hurriedly. “Come to us in “Emilio !” repeated the young girl, an hour, to take a cup of chocolate. You raising herself from the floor; and such a promise ? I must return to my brother forcible and vivid expression flashed across

You will come ?”. her face, that she seemed on the point of What could Sanin do? either bursting into tears or into a fit of “Yes, I shall come,” he answered. laughter.

The young girl pressed his hand warm" Emile! What is it? Emile !” ex- ly, fled from him-and in another minute claimed a voice from the other room, and Sanin stood outside the door. a lady, very neatly dressed, with silver-gray hair and dark complexion, entered the room very quietly. An elderly man was When he returned to Roselli's, after the following in her footsteps, while the head lapse of an hour and a half, he was welof a maid-servant peered from behind his comed as one of the family. Emilio was shoulders.

sitting on the same sofa on which he had The young girl rushed to meet them. been rubbed; the doctor had prescribed

“ He is saved, mother, he is alive!" she some medicine, and had advised the patient exclaimed convulsively, embracing the lady to be kept very quiet, as he was of a very who had come into the room.

nervous temperament and had a tendency “ But what has happened ?" she asked. to heart-disease.

to heart-disease. He had always been “I return home and meet the doctor and subject to fainting fits, but never to such a Louisa

violent one as this had been. The doctor, The young girl began to relate all that however, had declared him to be out of had occurred, while the doctor approached danger. the sick boy, who was regaining conscious- Emile was dressed, as became an invaness every minute, and was still smiling: lid, in an ample dressing-gown; his mohe appeared to begin to feel sensible of the ther had wound a blue scarf round his trouble he had caused.

neck, and he looked as gay and lively as “I see you have been rubbing him though he were at a feast. with brushes,” said the doctor, addressing thing indeed in the room had a festive aphimself to Sanin and Pantaleone. “It was pearance.

In front of the sofa, on a very bright idea of yours,

and round table, covered with a clean cloth shall see what else can be and surrounded by cups, decanters with done. ."

sirup, biscuits and buns, and even flowers, He felt the boy's pulse. “Hem ! now stood a high china coffee-pot; six wax show me your tongue!"

candles burned in two old-fashioned silver The old lady bent over the boy anxious- candelabras. On one side of the sofa ly. He smiled more brightly than before, stood a soft, enticing, Voltaire arm-chair, and raised his eyes to her face and blushed. and this comfortable seat was at once preIt struck Sanin that his presence was

sented to Sanin. All the inmates of the now no more required, so he passed back pastry-cook shop, whose acquaintance he into the shop; but his hand had hardly had made that day, were present, not even turned the handle of the street-door, when excluding the poodle Tartaglia and the cat: the young girl again appeared before him all seemed unspeakably happy; the dog and stopped him.

sneezed with pleasure, and the cat kept “ You are going away," she began, look- purring and clawing the chair as it had ing kindly into his face; “I do not wish done before. Sanin was called upon to to detain you now, but you must promise explain who he was, from whence he came, to come to us this evening; we are so and what his name was. When he anmuch indebted to you—you have been the nounced that he was a Russian, both the means, perhaps, of saving my brother's ladies looked surprised, and even gave a

And every

a

[ocr errors]

now we

cry of astonishment, and exclaimed in one Pantaleone with energy ;) still, thank God, voice, that his pronunciation of German they had sufficient to live on! was excellent, but that if he preferred speaking in French he might do so, as

V they also understood that language and Gemma listened to her mother-now spoke it.

Sanin at once took advantage laughing, now sighing, now patting her of the proposal. “ Sanin ! Sanin !" The shoulder, now lifting her finger at her in ladies had no idea that a Russian name reproof, now looking at Sanin; at last she could be so easy to pronounce. His rose, put her arms round her mother's neck, Christian name, " Dimitri,” sounded very and kissed her. Pantaleone was also prepleasantly to them. The elder of the two sented to Sanin. It appeared that at one İadies informed him that in her youth she time he had been an opera-singer, but had heard a beautiful opera called “ Deme- had long since thrown up his theatrical trio e Polibio”—but she thought“Dimitri” profession, and was now filling the post was much prettier than “ Demetrio.” This of friend and servant in the Roselli family. kind of conversation continued for about Notwithstanding his long stay in Germany, an hour. Then the ladies enlightened he had learnt but very little of the language, Sanin on all the details of their own life, and could only scold in it, and even on The mother, the lady with the silver-gray these occasions he twisted the abusive hair, was the most talkative of all

. She words most unmercifully. " Ferroflucto told Sanin her name was Lenore Roselli; spicebubio !" was the term. he applied to that she was the widow of Giovanni Bat- almost every German. But his pronunciatista Roselli, who twenty-five years ago tion of Italian was perfect -he having had settled in Frankfort as a confectioner; been born in Sinigalia, where you hear that Giovanni Battista was a native of the lingua toscana in bocca romana ! " Vicenza, and was a very good man, al- Emilio was apparently luxuriating on the though rather passionate and presumptu- sofa and abandoning himself to the pleaous, and moreover a Republican! With sant sensations of one escaped from danger these words, Madam Roselli pointed to or recovering from an illness; besides, it the departed Giovanni's portrait, which was not difficult to perceive that all the hung in oil colors over the sofa. It was household petted him. He thanked Sanin evident that the artist—"also a Repub- in a very shy way, and seemed more espelican!" as the old lady remarked with a cially to be absorbed in the consumption sigh-had not been successful in catch- of syrup and sweetmeats. Sanin was ing the likeness, as in his portrait the forced to drink two large cups of excellent late Giovanni Battista had all the fea- chocolate, and to eat a considerable number tures of a fierce-looking brigand-not of biscuits; he had barely time to swallow unlike Rinaldo Rinaldini! She, herself, one, when Gemma would offer him another was a native of that “ancient and beau- -and to refuse her was an utter impossitiful town of Padua, celebrated for its bility! He soon felt himself at home, and wonderful cupola, painted by the the time flew with incredible quickness. immortal Correggio!" But from her He had to relate a great deal to themlöng sojourn in Germany she had be- about Russia in particular, about the Ruscome almost entirely Germanized. Then sian climate, Russian society, the Russian she added, shaking her head mournful- peasant, and more especially about the ly, all that was left to her now, was this Cossacks ; also about the war of 1812, daughter and this son, (pointing to each about Peter the Great, about the Kremlin, by turns with her finger ;) that her the Russian songs, and bells in Russia. daughter was called Gemma, and her son Both the ladies had a very faint notion of our Emilio; that they were both very good and vast and distant country. Madam Roselli, obedient children, especially Emilio . .. or, as she was more frequently called, Frau (“Am I not also obedient ?” asked her Lenore, threw Sanin into great consternadaughter.—“Oh! thou art likewise a Re- tion by asking him whether that celebratpublican !" answered her mother;) that ed house of ice still existed which was of course her business was not as profitable erected in St. Petersburg during the last as it had been during the life of her hus- century, and concerning which she had band, who had understood his trade tho- read, not long since, such an interesting roughly ... (“Un grand' uomo !" put in article in one of her husband's books :

« VorigeDoorgaan »