On one of the hottest days of 1853, two young people were lying on the shores of the Moscow River in the shade of a blooming linden tree. The twenty-three-year-old Andrei Petrovich Bersenev has just graduated as the third candidate of the Moscow University, and an academic career awaited him. Pavel Yakovlevich Shubin was a sculptor who gave hope. The dispute, quite peaceful, concerned nature and our place in it. Berseneva is struck by the completeness and self-sufficiency of nature, against which background our incompleteness is clearly seen, which gives rise to anxiety, even sadness. Shubin also suggests not to reflect, but live. Take care of a friend of the heart, and longing will pass. We are driven by a thirst for love, happiness – and nothing more. “Is there nothing higher than happiness?” – objected Bersenev. Is not it selfish, does not it divide the word. Art, motherland, science, freedom can unite. And love, of course, but not love-pleasure, but love is a sacrifice. However, Shubin does not agree to be number two. He wants to love for himself. No, his friend insists, putting himself number two – all the purpose of our life.
Young people on this stopped the feast of the mind and, after a pause, continued talking about the ordinary. Bersenev recently saw Insarov. We must acquaint him with Shubin and the Stakhov family. Insarov? Is this the Serbian or Bulgarian, about whom Andrei Petrovich already told? Patriot? Did he inspire him with
The head of the family, Nikolai Artemyevich Stakhov, the son of a retired captain, dreamed of a profitable marriage in his youth. At twenty-five he realized the dream – he married Anna Shubina, but soon she got bored, met with the widow Augustina Khristianovna and was already bored in her company. “They stare at each other, it’s so stupid…” – says Shubin. However, sometimes Nikolai Artemyevitch contests with her: is it possible for a person to travel the entire globe, or to know what is happening on the seabed, or to foresee the weather? And he always concluded that it was impossible.
Anna Vasilievna suffers infidelity of her husband, and yet it hurts her that he deceived the German with a pair of gray horses from her, Anna Vasilyevna, the plant.
Shubin has been living in this family for five years, since the death of her mother, an intelligent, kind Frenchwoman. He devoted himself entirely to his vocation, but he worked hard, but in fits and starts he did not want to hear about the academy and the professors. In Moscow he is known as a budding hope, but he remains in his twenty-six years in the same capacity. He really likes the daughter of the Stakhovs Elena Nikolaevna, but he does not miss the chance to get caught up and behind the plump seventeen-year-old Zoya, who was taken into the house by a companion for Helen, whom she has nothing to talk about. Paul calls it a sweet little girl. UVA, Elena does not understand “the whole naturalness of such contradictions” of the artist. The lack of character in a man always aroused her, she was foolish, she did not forgive a lie. Once someone lost her respect, and he ceased to exist for her.
Elena Nikolaevna is an outstanding personality. She has just turned twenty, she is attractive: tall, with big gray eyes and a dark-brown scythe. In all its appearance there is, however, something impetuous, nervous, which not everyone likes.
Nothing could ever satisfy her: she longed for active good. Since childhood, troubled and occupied by her poor, hungry, sick people and animals. When she was ten years old, poor girl Katya became the object of her cares and even worship. Her parents did not approve of this enthusiasm. True, the girl died soon. However, the trace of this meeting in Elena’s soul remained forever.
From the age of sixteen she lived her own life, but her life was lonely. No one was embarrassed, but she was torn and yearned: “How to live without love, but there is nobody to love!” Shubin was quickly dismissed because of his artistic inconstancy. Bersenev also takes her as a clever, educated person, in her own way, real, deep. But why is he so insistent with his stories about Insarov? These stories also aroused Helen’s keen interest in the personality of the Bulgarian, obsessed with the idea of liberating his homeland. Any mention of this seems to light a dull, inextinguishable fire in it. One feels the concentrated deliberation of a single and long-standing passion. And his story is as follows.
He was still a child when his mother kidnapped and killed a Turkish aha. My father tried to take revenge, but was shot. Eight years old, left orphaned, Dmitry arrived in Russia, to his aunt, and in twelve returned to Bulgaria and for two years emanated it along and across. He was persecuted, he was in danger. Bersenev himself saw the scar – the wound trace. No, Insarov did not take revenge on aha. His goal is broader.
He is student-poor, but proud, scrupulous and undemanding, amazingly functional. On the first day of his move to the dacha to Bersenev he got up at four in the morning, ran around the Kuntsev neighborhood, bathed and, after drinking a glass of cold milk, set to work. He studies Russian history, law, political economy, translates Bulgarian songs and chronicles, compiles Russian grammar for Bulgarians and Bulgarian for Russians: Russian ashamed not to know the Slavic languages.
On his first visit Dmitry Nikanorovich made a lesser impression on Elena than she expected after Bersenev’s stories. But the case confirmed the correctness of Bersenev’s estimates.
Anna Vasilyevna decided to somehow show her daughter and Zoe the beauty of Tsaritsyn. We went there a big company. Ponds and ruins of the palace, the park – all made a great impression. Zoya sang not badly when they sailed on a boat amidst the lush greenery of picturesque banks. The company podguljavshih Germans shouted even encore! They did not pay attention, but already on the beach, after a picnic, again met with them. A man of huge height, with a bull’s neck, separated from the company, and began to demand satisfaction in the form of a kiss for the fact that Zoya did not respond to their beating and applause. Shubin floridly and with a claim to irony began to admonish a drunken impudent, which only provoked him. Then Insarov came forward and simply demanded that he go away. The bull-like carcass leaned menacingly forward, but at the same moment swayed, tore itself from the ground, lifted up by the Insarov, and, plunging into the pond, disappeared under the water. “He will drown!” cried Anna Vasilyevna. “It’ll float out,” Insarov said casually. Something unkind, dangerous appeared on his face.
Elena wrote a diary: “… Yes, you can not joke with him, and he knows how to intercede, but why this malice? .. Or you can not be a man, a fighter, and remain gentle and gentle?” Life is a tough thing, he said recently “. Immediately she admitted to herself that she fell in love with him.
That big blow is for Elena the news: Insarov is leaving the dacha. So far, only Bersenev understands what is the matter. A friend once admitted that if he fell in love, he would certainly leave: for his personal feelings he will not change his duty. Hearing all this, Elena herself goes to Insarov.
He confirmed: yes, he must leave. Then Elena will have to be braver than he. He apparently wants to make her first to confess her love. Well, here she said it. Insarov embraced her: “So you’ll follow me everywhere?” Yes, it will, and it will not stop the anger of the parents, nor the need to leave the homeland, nor danger. Then they are husband and wife, concludes the Bulgarian.
Meanwhile, a certain Kurnatovsky, the chief secretary in the senate, began to appear in the Stakhovs. His Stakhov reads as a husband to Elena. And this is not the only danger for lovers. Letters from Bulgaria are more and more alarming. It is necessary to go, while it is still possible, and Dmitry begins to prepare for departure. Once, having heard all day, he fell under a shower, wet to the bone. The next morning, despite the headache, continued troubles. But by lunchtime there was a strong fever, and by evening he had completely fallen. Eight days Insarov is between life and death. Bersenev all this time takes care of the patient and reports his condition to Elena. At last the crisis passed. However, until the real recovery is far away, and Dmitry still does not leave his home for a long time. Elena is eager to see him, she asks Bersenev not to come to one of his days and is to Insarov in a light silk dress, fresh, young and happy. They talk long and passionately about their problems, about the golden heart of Elena Bersenev, who loves her, about the need to hurry up with her departure. On the same day, they are no longer in words becoming a husband and wife. The meeting does not remain a secret for the parents.
Nikolai Artemyevich demands a daughter to answer. Yes, she admits, Insarov is her husband, and next week they leave for Bulgaria. “To the Turks!” “Anna Vasilyevna is losing her feelings.” Nikolai Artemyevitch grabs a daughter by the hand, but at that time Shubin shouts: “Nikolai Artemyevich!” Augustina Khristianovna has come and calls you! “
A minute later he already talks with Uvar Ivanovitch, a retired sixty-year-old cornet who lives with the Stakhovs, does nothing, eats often and much, is always unruffled and expresses something like this: “We should… somehow, that…” this desperately helps himself with gestures. Shubin calls him a representative of the chorus and black-earth power.
Pavel Yakovlevich expresses his admiration for Elena. She is afraid of nothing and nobody. He understands it. Who does she leave here? Kurnatovsky, and the Bersenevs, but such as he himself. And it’s even better. We do not have people yet. All or small fry, gumlets, or darkness and wilderness, or transfitters from empty to empty. If there were good people among us, this sensitive soul would not leave us. “When do we have people, Ivan Ivanovich?” “Give me a term, they will,” he replies.
And here are the young people in Venice. Behind the difficult crossing and two months of illness in Vienna. From Venice, the way to Serbia and then to Bulgaria. It remains to wait for the old sea-wolf Rendić, who will cross the sea.
Venice was the best help for the time to forget the hardships of travel and political unrest. All that could give this unique city, lovers took in full. Only in the theater, listening to “Traviata”, they are confused by the scene of farewell to the dying from consumption Violetta and Alfred, her entreaty: “Let me live… die so young!” The feeling of happiness leaves Elena: “Is it really impossible to beg, turn away, save I was happy… And with what right? .. And if it is not given for nothing?”
Next day Insarov becomes worse. The heat rose, he fell into oblivion. Exhausted, Elena falls asleep and sees a dream: a boat on Tsaritsynsky pond, then found herself in a restless sea, but a snow whirlwind strikes, and she is no longer in a boat, but in a cart. Near Katya. Suddenly the cart flies into the snowy abyss, Katya laughs and calls her out of the abyss: “Elena!” She looks up and sees the pale Insarov: “Elena, I’m dying!” Rendich no longer catches him alive. Helen asked the stern sailor to take the coffin with the body of her husband and herself to his homeland.
Three weeks later, Anna Vasilievna received a letter from Venice. My daughter is going to Bulgaria. For her there is now no other homeland. “I was looking for happiness – and I will find, perhaps, death.
Reliably, the future fate of Elena remained unclear. Some people said that they saw her later in Herzegovina as a sister of mercy for the army in an unchanged black dress. Then her trace was lost.
Shubin, occasionally corresponding with Uvar Ivanovich, reminded him of a long-standing question: “So, will we have people?” Uvar Ivanovich played with his fingers and directed his mysterious gaze into the distance.