The next morning the master of the house and his guest drank tea in the garden under an old time-tree.
“Master!” said Lavretsky among other things, “you will soon have to compose a triumphal cantata.”
“On what occasion?”
“For the nuptials of Mr. Panshin and Lisa. Did you notice what attention he paid her yesterday? It seems as though things were in a fair way with them already.”
“That will never be!” cried Lemm.
“Because it is impossible. Though, indeed,” he added after a short pause, “everything is possible in this world. Especially here among you in Russia.”
“We will leave Russia out of the question for a time; but what do you find amiss in this match?”
“Everything is amiss, everything. Lisaveta Mihalovna is a girl of high principles, serious, of lofty feelings, and he . . . he is a dilettante, in a word.”
“But suppose she loves him”
Lemm got up from the bench.
“No, she does not love him, that is to say, she is very pure in heart, and does not know herself what it means . . . love. Madame von Kalitin tells her that he is a fine young man, and she obeys Madame von Kalitin because she is still quite a child, though she is nineteen; she says her prayers in the morning and in the evening — and that is very well; but she does not love him. She can only love what is beautiful, and he is not, that is, his soul is not beautiful.”
Lemm uttered this whole speech coherently, and with fire, walking with little steps to and fro before the tea-table, and running his eyes over the ground.
“Dearest maestro!” cried Lavretsky suddenly, “it strikes me you are in love with cousin yourself.”
Lemm stopped short all at once.
“I beg you,” he began in an uncertain voice, “do not make fun of me like that. I am not crazy; I look towards the dark grave, not towards a rosy future.”
Lavretsky felt sorry for the old man; he begged his pardon. After morning tea, Lemm played him his cantata, and after dinner, at Lavretsky’s initiative, there was again talk of Lisa. Lavretsky listened to him with attention and curiosity.
“What do you say, Christopher Fedoritch,” he said at last, “you see everything here seems in good order now, and the garden is in full bloom, couldn’t we invite her over here for a day with her mother and my old aunt . . . eh? Would you like it?”
Lemm bent his head over his plate.
“Invite her,” he murmured, scarcely audibly.
“But Panshin isn’t wanted?”
“No, he isn’t wanted,” rejoined the old man with an almost child-like smile.
Two days later Fedor Ivanitch set off to the town to see the Kalitins.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01