Tomorrow I must depart. The place wearies me, for I wish to work, and it is impossible to do so here. I will come to your place, I think, for all my chemical preparations are there. Moreover, one can at least lock one’s door at your place; whereas here, though my father keeps saying, ‘My study is entirely at your disposal, and no one shall disturb you,’ he himself is never absent for a moment. And, for that matter, I should be ashamed to lock him outside, or my mother either. Sometimes I can hear her groaning in the next room. Yet no sooner do I go out to her than I find that I have not a word to say."
“She will be much distressed at your departure,” said Arkady. ” And so will he.”
“But I intend to return.”
“When I am on my way back to St. Petersburg.”
“I am particularly sorry for your mother.”
“Why so? Has she been stuffing you with fruit?”
Arkady lowered his eyes.
“You do not know her,” he said. “She is not only a good woman, but also a very wise one. This morning I had half an hour’s very practical and interesting talk with her.”
“A talk in which she told you all about me?”
“We spoke of other topics besides yourself.”
“Possibly. Possibly, too, you, as an outsider, may see things clearer than I do. Yet when a woman can talk for half an hour it is a good sign, and I will depart as I have said.”
“But you will not find it easy to break the news to her, for her plans for us extend over a couple of weeks.”
“No, it may not prove easy, as you say; and the less so since the devil led me to vex my father this morning. It was like this. A few days ago he had one of his serfs flogged, and therein did rightly. No, you need not look at me with such indignation. I say my father did rightly for the reason that the peasant in question had proved himself to be an arrant thief and drunkard. Unfortunately, my father had not expected me to get to hear of the occurrence; wherefore he was the more put out when he found that I had done so. Well, now his vexation will be twofold! However, no matter. He will get over it before long.”
Yet, though Bazarov had said “No matter,” he let the whole of the rest of the day elapse before he could make up his mind to acquaint Vasili Ivanitch with his intention. Finally, just as he was saying good-night to his father in the study, he observed with a prolonged yawn:
“By the way, I had almost forgotten to request you to have our horses sent forward to Thedot’s.”
Vasili Ivanitch looked thunderstruck.
“Then is Monsieur Kirsanov leaving us?” he inquired.
“Yes, and I am going with him.”
Vasili Ivanitch fidgeted for a moment or two.
“You say that you are going with him? he murmured.
“Yes. I must go. So pray have the horses sent forward as requested.”
“I-I will, I will,” the old man stuttered. “So they are to go to Thedot’s? Yes, yes, very well. Only, only-is there any particular reason for this change of plan?”
“There is. I am engaged to pay Arkady a short visit. That done, I will return to you.”
“Only to be a short visit? Good!” And Vasili Ivanitch pulled out his pocket-handkerchief, and blew his nose. In doing so, he bent his head very low-almost to the ground. “Well, well! Things shall be as you desire. Yet we had hoped that you would have stayed with us a little longer. Three days only! Three days after three years of absence! Ah, that is not much, Evgenii-it is not much!”
“But I tell you I intend to return soon. You see, I must go.”
“You have no choice, eh? Very well, very well. Of course, engagements must be kept. Yes, yes; of course they must be kept. And I am to send the horses forward? Very good. Naturally, Arina and I had not altogether looked for this. Only to-day she has been to a neighbour to beg flowers for your room.”
Nor of the fact that, each morning, he had gone downstairs in his slippers to confer with Timotheitchl nor of the fact that, producing, with tremulous fingers, one ragged banknote after another, he had commissioned his henchmen to make various purchases with special reference to the question of eatables (in particular, of a certain red wine which he had noticed the young men to like); no, of none of these facts did Vasili Ivanitch make any mention.
“The greatest thing in the world is one’s freedom,” he went on. “I, too, make it my rule. Never should one let oneself be hampered or-“
A sudden break occurred in his voice, and he made for the door.
“I promise you that we will return soon, my father. I give you my word of honour upon that.”
But Vasili Ivanitch did not look round-he just waved his hand and departed. Mounting to the bedroom, he found Arina asleep, so started to say his prayers in an undertone, for fear of awaking her. But at once she opened her eyes.
“Is that you, Vasili Ivanitch?” she asked.
“Have you just left Eniusha? Do you know, I am anxious about him. Does he sleep comfortably on the sofa? Today I told Anfisushka to lay him out your travelling mattress and the new pillows. Also, I would have given him our feather bed had he not disliked soft lying.”
“Do not fret, mother dear. He is quite comfortable. ‘Lord, pardon us sinners!’” And Vasili Ivanitch went on with his prayers. Yet his heart was full of an aching compassion for his old companion; nor did he want to tell her overnight of the sorrow which was awaiting her on the morrow.
Next day, therefore, Arkady and Bazarov departed. From earliest morn an air of woe pervaded the household. Anfiushka let fall some crockery, and Thedika’s perturbation ended in his taking off his shoes. As for Vasili Ivanitch, he fussed about, and made a brave show-he talked in loud tones, and stamped his feet upon the floor as he walked; but his face had suddenly fallen in, and his glance could not meet that of his son. Meanwhile Arina Vlasievna indulged in quiet weeping. Indeed, but for the fact that her husband had spent two hours that morning in comforting her, she would have broken down completely, and lost her self-control.
But at last, when, after reiterated promises to return within, at most, a month, Bazarov had freed himself from the arms which sought to detain him, and entered the tarantass; when the horses had started, and their collar-bow had begun to tinkle, and the wheels to revolve; when to gaze after the vehicle any longer had become useless, and the dust had subsided, and Timotheitch, bent and tottering, had crawled back into his pantry; when the old couple found themselves alone in a house which seemed suddenly to have grown as dishevelled and as decrepit as they-then, ah, then did Vasili Ivanitch desist from his brief show of waving his handkerchief in the verandah, and sink into a chair, and drop his head upon his breast.
“He has gone for ever, he has gone for ever,” he muttered. “He has gone because he found the life here tedious, and once more I am as lonely as the sand of the desert!”
These words he kept repeating again and again; and each time that he did so, he raised his hand, and pointed into the distance.
But presently Arina Vlasievna approached him, and, pressing her grey head to his, said:
“Never mind, my Vasia. True, our son has broken away from us; he is like a falcon-he has flown hither, he has flown thither, as he willed: but you and I, like lichen in a hollow tree, are still side by side, we are not parted… And ever I shall be the same to you, as you will be the same to me.”
Taking his hands from his face, Vasili Ivanitch embraced his old companion, his wife, as never - no, not even during the days of his courtship - he had done before. And thus she comforted him.
Fathers And Sons - Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev