The stove had burned up and got warm, the tea was made and poured out into mugs and cups, and milk was added to it; rusks, fresh rye and wheat bread, hard-boiled eggs, butter, and calf’s head and feet were placed on the cloth. Everybody moved towards the part of the shelf beds which took the place of the table and sat eating and talking. Rintzeva sat on a box pouring out the tea. The rest crowded round her, only Kryltzoff, who had taken off his wet cloak and wrapped himself in his dry plaid and lay in his own place talking to Nekhludoff.
After the cold and damp march and the dirt and disorder they had found here, and after the pains they had taken to get it tidy, after having drunk hot tea and eaten, they were all in the best and brightest of spirits.
The fact that the tramp of feet, the screams and abuse of the criminals, reached them through the wall, reminding them of their surroundings, seemed only to increase the sense of coziness. As on an island in the midst of the sea, these people felt themselves for a brief interval not swamped by the degradation and sufferings which surrounded them; this made their spirits rise, and excited them. They talked about everything except their present position and that which awaited them. Then, as it generally happens among young men, and women especially, if they are forced to remain together, as these people were, all sorts of agreements and disagreements and attractions, curiously blended, had sprung up among them. Almost all of them were in love. Novodvoroff was in love with the pretty, smiling Grabetz. This Grabetz was a young, thoughtless girl who had gone in for a course of study, perfectly indifferent to revolutionary questions, but succumbing to the influence of the day, she compromised herself in some way and was exiled. The chief interest of her life during the time of her trial in prison and in exile was her success with men, just as it had been when she was free. Now on the way she comforted herself with the fact that Novodvoroff had taken a fancy to her, and she fell in love with him. Vera Doukhova, who was very prone to fall in love herself, but did not awaken love in others, though she was always hoping for mutual love, was sometimes drawn to Nabatoff, then to Novodvoroff. Kryltzoff felt something like love for Mary Pavlovna. He loved her with a man’s love, but knowing how she regarded this sort of love, hid his feelings under the guise of friendship and gratitude for the tenderness with which she attended to his wants. Nabatoff and Rintzeva were attached to each other by very complicated ties. Just as Mary Pavlovna was a perfectly chaste maiden, in the same way Rintzeva was perfectly chaste as her own husband’s wife. When only a schoolgirl of sixteen she fell in love with Rintzeff, a student of the Petersburg University, and married him before he left the university, when she was only nineteen years old. During his fourth year at the university her husband had become involved in the students’ rows, was exiled from Petersburg, and turned revolutionist. She left the medical courses she was attending, followed him, and also turned revolutionist. If she had not considered her husband the cleverest and best of men she would not have fallen in love with him; and if she had not fallen in love would not have married; but having fallen in love and married him whom she thought the best and cleverest of men, she naturally looked upon life and its aims in the way the best and cleverest of men looked at them. At first he thought the aim of life was to learn, and she looked upon study as the aim of life. He became a revolutionist, and so did she. She could demonstrate very clearly that the existing state of things could not go on, and that it was everybody’s duty to fight this state of things and to try to bring about conditions in which the individual could develop freely, etc. And she imagined that she really thought and felt all this, but in reality she only regarded everything her husband thought as absolute truth, and only sought for perfect agreement, perfect identification of her own soul with his which alone could give her full moral satisfaction. The parting with her husband and their child, whom her mother had taken, was very hard to bear; but she bore it firmly and quietly, since it was for her husband’s sake and for that cause which she had not the slightest doubt was true, since he served it. She was always with her husband in thoughts, and did not love and could not love any other any more than she had done before. But Nabatoff’s devoted and pure love touched and excited her. This moral, firm man, her husband’s friend, tried to treat her as a sister, but something more appeared in his behaviour to her, and this something frightened them both, and yet gave colour to their life of hardship.
So that in all this circle only Mary Pavlovna and Kondratieff were quite free from love affairs.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:14