From the time of our arrival in Moscow,
the change in my conception of objects, of persons,
and of my connection with them became increasingly
perceptible. When at my first meeting with Grandmamma,
I saw her thin, wrinkled face and faded eyes, the
mingled respect and fear with which she had hitherto
inspired me gave place to compassion, and when, laying
her cheek against Lubotshka’s head, she sobbed
as though she saw before her the corpse of her beloved
daughter, my compassion grew to love.
I felt deeply sorry to see her grief
at our meeting, even though I knew that in ourselves
we represented nothing in her eyes, but were dear to
her only as reminders of our mother that
every kiss which she imprinted upon my cheeks expressed
the one thought, “She is no more she
is dead, and I shall never see her again.”
Papa, who took little notice of us
here in Moscow, and whose face was perpetually preoccupied
on the rare occasions when he came in his black dress-coat
to take formal dinner with us, lost much in my eyes
at this period, in spite of his turned-up ruffles,
robes de chambre, overseers, bailiffs, expeditions
to the estate, and hunting exploits.
Karl Ivanitch whom Grandmamma
always called “Uncle,” and who (Heaven
knows why!) had taken it into his head to adorn the
bald pate of my childhood’s days with a red
wig parted in the middle now looked to me
so strange and ridiculous that I wondered how I could
ever have failed to observe the fact before.
Even between the girls and ourselves there seemed
to have sprung up an invisible barrier. They,
too, began to have secrets among themselves, as well
as to evince a desire to show off their ever-lengthening
skirts even as we boys did our trousers and ankle-straps.
As for Mimi, she appeared at luncheon, the first Sunday,
in such a gorgeous dress and with so many ribbons in
her cap that it was clear that we were no longer
en campagne, and that everything was now
going to be different.