The life of Baden-Baden, a fashionable German resort, on August 10, 1862, differed little from life on other days of the season. The audience was cheerful and colorful. However, it was not difficult to single out our compatriots in it, especially near the “Russian tree”.
It was here, at Weber’s coffeehouse, Litvinov’s Moscow acquaintance Bambaev discovered, loudly and “you” hailed him. With him was Voroshilov, a young man with a serious face. Bambaev immediately offered to dine, if Grigory Mikhailovich had the money to pay for it.
After dinner he dragged Litvinov to the hotel to Gubarev. Descending the hotel staircase, a tall, slender lady in a hat with a dark veil turned to Litvinov, flushed, followed her eyes, then turned pale.
After a while, there was that silent man who was sitting in the corner near Gubarev. Introduced: Potugin Sozont Ivanovich, court counselor. And I asked how the Babel pandemonium liked. Ten Russians will come together – the question of the meaning of the future of Russia will immediately pop up, but everything in the most general terms is unsubstantiated. He gets to the rotten West. Only he beats us on all points, though rotten. And notice: we scold and despise, but only with his opinion and cherish.
The secret of undoubted influence of Gubarev is the will, and before it we fall. We need a master everywhere. See people: a great opinion of himself, a person, orders. So, it is right and we must obey. Everyone is depressed, they hang their noses, and at the same time they live in hope. All, they say, will certainly be. There
Litvinov objected to this, which can not be copied, not consistent with the people’s characteristics. But it’s not easy to knock down Sozont Ivanovich: you just offer good food, and the stomach of the stomach digests in its own way. Peter I flooded our speech with someone else’s words. At first it turned out monstrously, and then the concepts took root and were assimilated, the alien forms evaporated. The same will be in other areas. Fear for their independence can only weak people. Yes, Potugin is a Westerner and devoted to civilization. This word is pure and clear, and sacred, and the people, glory – smell of blood! He loves his homeland and… hates. However soon it will go home: the garden ground is good, yes not to grow on it cloudberry.
Parting, Litvinov asked Potugin his address. It turned out that you can not go to him: he is not alone. No, not with his wife. No, not that: she’s only six years old, she’s an orphan, the daughter of one lady.
In the hotel, Litvinov discovered a large bouquet of heliotrope. The servant said that they were brought by a tall and beautifully dressed lady. “Really it?” This exclamation was not related to his fiancee Tatiana, which Litvinov was waiting for in Baden with her aunt. He realized that this was Irina, the eldest daughter of the impoverished princes Osinin. At the time of their acquaintance, this was a seventeen-year-old beauty with exquisitely right features, wondrous eyes and thick blond hair. Litvinov fell in love with her, but for a long time could not overcome her hostility. Then one day everything changed, and they were already making plans for the future: to work, read, but most importantly – to travel. VYA, nothing was fated to come true.
That winter the courtyard visited Moscow. There was a ball at the Noble Assembly. Osinin found it necessary to take Irina out. She, however, opposed it. Litvinov also spoke in favor of his intention. She agreed, but forbade him to be at the ball and added: “I’ll go, but remember, you yourself wanted it.” Coming with a bouquet of heliotrope before she left for the ball, he was struck by her beauty and majestic posture. Irina’s triumph at the ball was full and stunning. An important person drew attention to her. This immediately decided to use the relative Osinin Count Ray-zenbach, an important dignitary and courtier. He took her to St. Petersburg, settling in his house, made heir.
Litvinov dropped out of the university, went to his father’s place in the village, became addicted to the au pair and went abroad to study agronomy. Four years later we found him in Baden on the way to Russia.
The next morning Litvinov came across a picnic for young generals. “Grigory Mihalitch, you do not recognize me?” – came from the group having fun. He recognized Irina. Now it was quite a blossoming woman, reminiscent of Roman goddesses. But my eyes remained the same. She introduced him to her husband – General Valerian Vladimirovich Ratmirov. The interrupted conversation resumed: we, the big landowners, are devastated, humiliated, we must go back; Do you think that this will is sweet to the people? “And you try to take from him this will…” – Litvinov could not stand it. However, the speaker continued: but self-government, who is asking for it? It’s better in the old way. Believe in the aristocracy, do not let clever mobiles…
Litvinov seemed more and more wild speech, more and more strangers, And in this world came Irina!
In the evening he received a letter from the bride. Tatyana and her aunt are delayed and will arrive in six days.
In the morning Potugin knocked into the room: he was from Irina Pavlovna, she would like to resume her acquaintance. Ms. Ratmirova met them with obvious pleasure. When Potugin left them, without preamble, suggested forgetting the harm done and becoming friends. In her eyes there were tears. He assured that he was happy with her happiness. Thanking, she wanted to hear how he lived these years. Litvinov fulfilled her desire. The visit lasted more than two hours, when Valerian Vladimirovich suddenly returned. He did not show displeasure, but could not hide some concern. Saying goodbye, Irina reproached: and most importantly you concealed – they say, you will marry.
Litvinov was unhappy with himself: he was waiting for the bride, and he should not have fled at the first call of a woman whom he could not despise. She will not have more legs from her. Therefore, when he met her, he pretended not to notice her. However, about two hours later on the mall leading to the hotel, I saw Irina again. “Why do you avoid me?” There was something mournful in her voice. Litvinov frankly said that their roads were so far apart that they could not understand each other. Her enviable position in the world… No, Grigory Mikhailovich is mistaken. A few days ago, he himself saw examples of these dead dolls, of which her current society consists. She is to blame for him, but even more in front of herself, she begs alms… We will be friends or at least good acquaintances. And she held out her hand: promise. Litvinov promised.
On the way to the hotel he met Potugin, but the questions about Ms. Ratmirova that answered his questions answered only that he was as proud as a devil and spoiled to the marrow of his bones, but not without good qualities.
When Litvinov returned to his room, the waiter brought a note. Irina reported that she will have guests, and invited to look closer at those among whom she now lives. Comic, vulgar, stupid and pompous Litvinov found a visit even more than the previous time. Only now, almost like Gubarev, there was an awkward hubbub, there was not beer and tobacco smoke. And… striking ignorance.
After the departure of the guests, Ratmirov allowed himself to walk about the new acquaintance of Irynin: his taciturnity, obvious republican passions, etc., and about the fact that he, it seems, takes it very much. The magnificent contempt of an intelligent woman and the destructive laughter were the answer. Resentment ate in the heart of the general, stupidly and brutally wandered eyes. This expression was like when, at the beginning of his career, he spotted the rebellious Belarusian peasants.
In his room, Litvinov took out Tatyana’s portrait, looked at his face for a long time, expressing kindness, gentleness and intelligence, and finally whispered: “It’s over.” Only now he realized that he never stopped loving Irina. But, tormented without sleep all night, he decided to say goodbye to her and leave to meet Tatiana: it is necessary to fulfill the duty, and then at least die.
In the morning blouse with wide open sleeves Irina was charming. Instead of words of farewell Litvinov spoke of his love and of the decision to leave. She considered it reasonable, but she took the floor with him not to leave, without saying goodbye to her. A few hours later he returned to fulfill his promise and found her in the same position and in the same place. When does he go? Seven, today. She approves of his desire to finish off rather quickly, because you can not delay. She loves him. With these words, she retired to her office. Litvinov followed her, but then Ratmirov’s voice was heard…
In his room he was left alone with gloomy thoughts. Suddenly at a quarter past six the door opened. It was Irina. The evening train left without Litvinov, and in the morning he received a note: “… I do not want to hamper your freedom, but if necessary, I’ll give it up and follow you…”
From that moment, calmness and self-esteem disappeared, and with the arrival of the bride and her aunt Capitolina Markovna, the horror and disgrace of his position became even more unbearable for him. The meetings with Irina continued, and the sensitive Tatiana could not help noticing the change in her fiancé. She herself took the trouble to explain himself to him. Kept with dignity and real stoicism. There was also a frank conversation with Potugin, who tried to warn him. Sozont Ivanovich himself was destroyed long ago, destroyed by love for Irina Pavlovna. Belsky, he almost did not know, and the child was not his, he just took it upon himself, because it was necessary for Irina. A terrible, dark story. And again: Tatyana Petrovna – a golden heart, an angelic soul, and the proportion of the one who will become her husband is enviable.
With Irina, too, everything was not easy. She can not leave her circle, but she can not live in it and asks not to leave her. Well, the love of the three of us is unacceptable for Grigory Mikhailovich: all or nothing.
And now he is at the car, a minute – and everything will be left behind. “Gregory!” – Irina heard from behind her. Litvinov almost rushed to her. Already from the window of the car pointed to the place next to him. As she hesitated, a whistle sounded and the train started. Litvinov went to Russia. White clubs of steam and dark – smoke rushed past the windows. He watched them, and everything seemed to him smoke: his own life, and the life of Russia. Where the wind blows, there and will carry it.
At home he set about farming, did something here, paid off his father’s debts. Once his uncle came to him and told him about Tatyana. Litvinov wrote to her and received a friendly letter in return, which ends with an invitation. Two weeks later he set out on his journey.
Seeing him, Tatiana gave him a hand, but he did not take it, but fell in front of her on his knees. She tried to pick it up. “Do not bother him, Tanya,” said Kapitolina Markovna, who was standing right there, “brought a guilty head.”