After bright warm weather came a spell
of wet; all May it rained and was cold. The sound
of the millwheels and of the rain disposed one to
indolence and slumber. The floor trembled, there
was a smell of flour, and that, too, induced drowsiness.
My wife in a short fur-lined jacket, and in men’s
high golosh boots, would make her appearance twice
a day, and she always said the same thing:
“And this is called summer!
Worse than it was in October!”
We used to have tea and make the porridge
together, or we would sit for hours at a stretch without
speaking, waiting for the rain to stop. Once,
when Stepan had gone off to the fair, Masha stayed
all night at the mill. When we got up we could
not tell what time it was, as the rainclouds covered
the whole sky; but sleepy cocks were crowing at Dubetchnya,
and landrails were calling in the meadows; it was
still very, very early. . . . My wife and I went
down to the millpond and drew out the net which Stepan
had thrown in over night in our presence. A big
pike was struggling in it, and a cray-fish was twisting
about, clawing upwards with its pincers.
“Let them go,” said Masha. “Let
them be happy too.”
Because we got up so early and afterwards
did nothing, that day seemed very long, the longest
day in my life. Towards evening Stepan came back
and I went home.
“Your father came to-day,” said Masha.
“Where is he?” I asked.
“He has gone away. I would not see him.”
Seeing that I remained standing and
silent, that I was sorry for my father, she said:
“One must be consistent.
I would not see him, and sent word to him not to trouble
to come and see us again.”
A minute later I was out at the gate
and walking to the town to explain things to my father.
It was muddy, slippery, cold. For the first time
since my marriage I felt suddenly sad, and in my brain
exhausted by that long, grey day, there was stirring
the thought that perhaps I was not living as I ought.
I was worn out; little by little I was overcome by
despondency and indolence, I did not want to move
or think, and after going on a little I gave it up
with a wave of my hand and turned back.
The engineer in a leather overcoat
with a hood was standing in the middle of the yard.
“Where’s the furniture?
There used to be lovely furniture in the Empire style:
there used to be pictures, there used to be vases,
while now you could play ball in it! I bought
the place with the furniture. The devil take
Moisey, a thin pock-marked fellow
of twenty-five, with insolent little eyes, who was
in the service of the general’s widow, stood
near him crumpling up his cap in his hands; one of
his cheeks was bigger than the other, as though he
had lain too long on it.
“Your honour was graciously
pleased to buy the place without the furniture,”
he brought out irresolutely; “I remember.”
“Hold your tongue!” shouted
the engineer; he turned crimson and shook with anger
. . . and the echo in the garden loudly repeated his