Torrents of Spring, by Ivan Turgenev

XIII

Sanin stayed on after dinner too. They did not let him go, still on the same pretext of the terrible heat; and when the heat began to decrease, they proposed going out into the garden to drink coffee in the shade of the acacias. Sanin consented. He felt very happy. In the quietly monotonous, smooth current of life lie hid great delights, and he gave himself up to these delights with zest, asking nothing much of the present day, but also thinking nothing of the morrow, nor recalling the day before. How much the mere society of such a girl as Gemma meant to him! He would shortly part from her and, most likely, for ever; but so long as they were borne, as in Uhland’s song, in one skiff over the sea of life, untossed by tempest, well might the traveller rejoice and be glad. And everything seemed sweet and delightful to the happy voyager. Frau Lenore offered to play against him and Pantaleone at ‘tresette,’ instructed him in this not complicated Italian game, and won a few kreutzers from him, and he was well content. Pantaleone, at Emil’s request, made the poodle, Tartaglia, perform all his tricks, and Tartaglia jumped over a stick ‘spoke,’ that is, barked, sneezed, shut the door with his nose, fetched his master’s trodden-down slippers; and, finally, with an old cap on his head, he portrayed Marshal Bernadotte, subjected to the bitterest upbraidings by the Emperor Napoleon on account of his treachery. Napoleon’s part was, of course, performed by Pantaleone, and very faithfully he performed it: he folded his arms across his chest, pulled a cocked hat over his eyes, and spoke very gruffly and sternly, in French — and heavens! what French! Tartaglia sat before his sovereign, all huddled up, with dejected tail, and eyes blinking and twitching in confusion, under the peak of his cap which was stuck on awry; from time to time when Napoleon raised his voice, Bernadotte rose on his hind paws. ‘Fuori, traditore!’ cried Napoleon at last, forgetting in the excess of his wrath that he had to sustain his rôle as a Frenchman to the end; and Bernadotte promptly flew under the sofa, but quickly darted out again with a joyful bark, as though to announce that the performance was over. All the spectators laughed, and Sanin more than all.

Gemma had a particularly charming, continual, soft laugh, with very droll little shrieks. . . . Sanin was fairly enchanted by that laugh — he could have kissed her for those shrieks!

Night came on at last. He had in decency to take leave! After saying good-bye several times over to every one, and repeating several times to all, ‘till tomorrow!’— Emil he went so far as to kiss — Sanin started home, carrying with him the image of the young girl, at one time laughing, at another thoughtful, calm, and even indifferent — but always attractive! Her eyes, at one time wide open, clear and bright as day, at another time half shrouded by the lashes and deep and dark as night, seemed to float before his eyes, piercing in a strange sweet way across all other images and recollections.

Of Herr Klüber, of the causes impelling him to remain in Frankfort — in short, of everything that had disturbed his mind the evening before — he never thought once.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 20:05