0 83 0
And my sister, too, was living with her own private thoughts which she hid from me. She used often to sit whispering with Masha. When I went up to her, she would shrink away, and her eyes would look guilty and full of entreaty. Evidently there was something going on in her soul of which she was afraid or ashamed. To avoid meeting me in the garden or being left alone with me she clung to Masha and I hardly ever had a chance to talk to her except at dinner. One evening, on my way home from the school, I came quietly through the garden. It had already begun to grow dark. Without noticing me or hearing footsteps, my sister walked round an old wide-spreading apple-tree, perfectly noiselessly like a ghost. She was in black, and walked very quickly, up and down, up and down, with her eyes on the ground. An apple fell from the tree, she started at the noise, stopped and pressed her hands to her temples. At that moment I went up to her. In an impulse of tenderness, which suddenly came rushing to my heart, with tears in my eyes, somehow remembering our mother and our childhood, I took hold of her shoulders and kissed her. "What is the matter?" I asked. "You are suffering. I have seen it for a long time now. Tell me, what is the matter?" "I am afraid...." she murmured, with a shiver. "What's the matter with you?" I inquired. "For God's sake, be frank!" "I will, I will be frank. I will tell you the whole truth. It is so hard, so painful to conceal anything from you!... Misail, I am in love." She went on in a whisper. "Love, love.... I am happy, but I am afraid." I heard footsteps and Doctor Blagovo appeared among the trees. He was wearing a silk shirt and high boots. Clearly they had arranged a rendezvous by the apple-tree. When she saw him she flung herself impulsively into his arms with a cry of anguish, as though he was being taken away from her: "Vladimir! Vladimir!" She clung to him, and gazed eagerly at him and only then I noticed how thin and pale she had become. It was especially noticeable through her lace collar, which I had known for years, for it now hung loosely about her slim neck. The doctor was taken aback, but controlled himself at once, and said, as he stroked her hair: "That's enough. Enough!... Why are you so nervous? You see, I have come." We were silent for a time, bashfully glancing at each other. Then we all moved away and I heard the doctor saying to me: "Civilised life has not yet begun with us. The old console themselves with saying that, if there is nothing now, there was something in the forties and the sixties; that is all right for the old ones, but we are young and our brains are not yet touched with senile decay. We cannot console ourselves with such illusions. The beginning of Russia was in 862, and civilised Russia, as I understand it, has not yet begun." But I could not bother about what he was saying. It was very strange, but I could not believe that my sister was in love, that she had just been walking with her hand on the arm of a stranger and gazing at him tenderly. My sister, poor, frightened, timid, downtrodden creature as she was, loved a man who was already married and had children! I was full of pity without knowing why; the doctor's presence was distasteful to me and I could not make out what was to come of such a love.