“And Tanya?” asked Kovrin, laughing. “She can’t be more harmful than a hare? She loves the work and understands it.”
“Yes, she loves it and understands it. If after my death the garden goes to her and she is the mistress, of course nothing better could be wished. But if, which God forbid, she should marry,” Yegor Semyonitch whispered, and looked with a frightened look at Kovrin, “that’s just it. If she marries and children come, she will have no time to think about the garden. What I fear most is: she will marry some fine gentleman, and he will be greedy, and he will let the garden to people who will run it for profit, and everything will go to the devil the very first year! In our work females are the scourge of God!”
Yegor Semyonitch sighed and paused for a while.
“Perhaps it is egoism, but I tell you frankly: I don’t want Tanya to get married. I am afraid of it! There is one young dandy comes to see us, bringing his violin and scraping on it; I know Tanya will not marry him, I know it quite well; but I can’t bear to see him! Altogether, my boy, I am very queer. I know that.”
Yegor Semyonitch got up and walked about the room in excitement, and it was evident that he wanted to say something very important, but could not bring himself to it.
“I am very fond of you, and so I am going to speak to you openly,” he decided at last, thrusting his hands into his pockets. “I deal plainly with certain delicate questions, and say exactly what I think, and I cannot endure so-called hidden thoughts. I will speak plainly: you are the only man to whom I should not be afraid to marry my daughter. You are a clever man with a good heart, and would not let my beloved work go to ruin; and the chief reason is that I love you as a son, and I am proud of you. If Tanya and you could get up a romance somehow, then—well! I should be very glad and even happy. I tell you this plainly, without mincing matters, like an honest man.”
Kovrin laughed. Yegor Semyonitch opened the door to go out, and stood in the doorway.
“If Tanya and you had a son, I would make a horticulturist of him,” he said, after a moment’s thought. “However, this is idle dreaming. Goodnight.”