Jacob Aratoff lived on Shabolovka in a small wooden house with his aunt Platonida Ivanovna, Platosha, as his father called it. He was 25 years old, but he lived in seclusion, was engaged in photography, was friends only with Kupfer, Russified by the Germans, who was sincerely attached to Aratoff. For this, Platos forgave him for some unceremonious and noisy cheerfulness. Yakov went to his father. He also lived alone, was engaged in chemistry, mineralogy, entomology, botany and medicine, he was known as a warlock, considering himself great-grandson of Bruce, after whom he named his son, and was inclined to everything mysterious and mystical. Jacob inherited this feature of his, believed in secrets, which can sometimes be seen, but it is impossible to comprehend. At the same time he believed in science. Even during his father’s life he studied at the Physics and Mathematics Faculty, but left.
Yet Kupfer once pulled Aratoff to a concert in the house of a Georgian princess.
But he did not stay long at that evening. Despite this, Kupfer and the next time lured him to the princess, praising the first-class talent of a certain Clara Milic, about which they have not yet decided: Viardot she or Rachelle. “Does she have black eyes?” asked Aratoff. “Yes, like coal!” It turned out that he had already seen this girl from the princess. She was about nineteen, she was tall, beautifully built, with a beautiful, swarthy face, pensive and almost stern. We received it very well, and clapped loudly and loudly.
During the singing, Aratoff thought that her black eyes were all the time facing him. This went on and on, when she read from Eugene Onegin. Reading it, at first a little hurried, from the words “All my life was a pledge of meeting the faithful with you” became expressive and filled with feeling. Her eyes boldly and directly looked at Aratoff.
Shortly after the concert the messenger brought a note to Aratoff with an invitation to come about five to Tverskoy Boulevard. It is very important.
At first he firmly decided not to go, but at half-past
four he went to the boulevard. After spending some time on the bench with thoughts of a mysterious stranger, he suddenly felt someone come and stand behind him. Klara Milich was embarrassed, apologizing for her courage, but she wanted so much to tell him.
Aratoff suddenly felt vexed: on himself, at her, on an absurd appointment and on this explanation among the public. Irritation dictated a dry and strained rebuke: “Merciful Empress”, “I’m even amazing,” “I can be useful,” “I’m ready to listen to you.”
Clara was frightened, embarrassed and saddened: “I was deceived into you…” Suddenly her face flushed with an evil and defiant expression: “How foolish of our date! How stupid! .. And you…” She laughed and quickly has disappeared.
Two or three months passed. And then one day he read in the “Moscow Gazette” the message of suicide in Kazan gifted actress and favorite of the public Clara Milich. The reason, according to rumors, was unhappy love. Kupfer confirmed that this is true. But the newspaper is lying, no Cupids: it was proud and unapproachable Hard as a stone. Only an insult would not have suffered. He went to Kazan, got acquainted with the family. Her real name is Katerina Milovidova, the daughter of a drawing teacher, a drunkard and a domestic tyrant.
That night Aratoff dreamed that he was walking along the bare steppe. Suddenly a thin cloud appeared in front of him, becoming a woman in white robes. Her eyes were closed, her face white, and her arms hung motionless. Without bending in the back, she lay down on a stone, like a grave, and Aratoff, with folded arms on his chest, lay down beside her. But she got up and went, and he could not even move. She turned around, her eyes were alive, and her face came to life again. She beckoned to him. It was Clara: “If you want to know who I am, go there!”
In the morning he announced to Platoshe that he was going to Kazan. There, from conversations with the widow Milovidova and Anna Clara’s sister, Aratoff learned that Katya had been stubborn, self-willed and self-righteous since childhood. Father despised for drunkenness and mediocrity. All of it was fire, passion and contradiction. She said: “I do not want this kind of as I want, but I do not need others!” – “Well, and if you meet?” – “Meeting… I’ll take.” – “And if it is not given?” “Well, then… I’ll finish this with myself.” Therefore, I’m not fit. “
Anna strongly rejected even the thought of unhappy love as the reason for her sister’s death. Here is her diary, is there a hint of unhappy love there?
UVA, at such a hint Arato came across right away. He asked Anna for a diary and a photo card, promising to return it, and went to Moscow.
At home, in his office, he felt that now is in the power of Clara. He took her photo card, zoomed it up, adjusted it to a stereoscope: the figure got some kind of corporeality, but it did not come to life again, everyone’s eyes were looking away. She seemed not to be given to him. He remembered how Anna had said about her: untouched. That’s what gave her power over him, also untouched. The thought of the immortality of the soul again visited him. “Death, where is thy sting?” said the Bible.
In the evening gloom, he now began to feel that he hears Clara’s voice, feels her presence. Once, from the stream of sounds, he was able to distinguish the word “roses”, another time – the word “I”; It seemed as if a soft whirlwind swept through the room, through it, through it. The stain of the door whitened in the dark moved, and a white female figure appeared – Clara! She has a wreath of red roses on her head… He got up. Before him was his aunt in a cap and in a white sweater. She was worried when he heard his cries in a dream.
Immediately after breakfast, Aratoff went to Kupfer, who told him that Clara had drunk poison already in the theater, before the first act, and she had played more than ever before. And as soon as the curtain fell, she immediately, on the stage, and fell…
On the night after the visit to a friend, Aratoff dreamed that he was the owner of a rich estate. He is accompanied by a steward, a small twisted man. Here they come to the lake. At the shore a golden boat: do not you want to take a ride and swim by yourself. He steps into it and sees there an ape-like creature holding a bottle with a dark liquid in its paw. “It’s nothing!” Shouted the manager from the bank. “It’s death! Happy journey!” Suddenly a black whirlwind hinders everyone, and Aratoff sees Clara in a theatrical costume bringing a bottle to her lips, shouting “bravo,” and someone’s rough voice says: “Did you think it would all end in a comedy?” No, it’s a tragedy! “
Aratoff woke up. The night light is burning. Clara’s presence is felt in the room. He is again in her power.
“Clara, are you here?”
– Yes! is heard in response.
“If you are exactly here, if you understand how bitterly I repent, do not understand, pushed you away, – come on!” If you are now sure that I, still did not love and did not know a single woman, after your death fell in love with you, – come on!
Someone quickly approached him from behind and put his hand on his shoulder. He turned and in his chair saw a woman in black, with her head turned to the side, as in a stereoscope.
-. Come to me, look at me, Clara! The head turned to him softly, the eyelids opened, the strict expression replaced by a smile.
“I’m forgiven!” “With these words, Aratoff kissed her on the lips.” Platosha, who ran into the cry, found him in a swoon.
The next night he waited impatiently. She and Clara love each other. That kiss still ran coldly through the body. Another time he will have it… But they can not live together. Well, I’ll have to die to be with her.
In the evening he had a fever, and Platonida Ivanovna remained napping in her chair. In the middle of the night a piercing scream awakened her. Yasha was again lying on the floor. He was picked up and laid. In his right hand was a strand of black female hair. He was delirious, talking about his perfect marriage, that he knows now what pleasure is. For a second he came to himself, he said: “Do not cry, Aunt. Do not you know that love is stronger than death?” And a blissful smile shone on his face.