“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 her!”
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 shout.
When I was doing anything in the garden or the yard, Moisey would stand beside me, and folding his arms behind his back he would stand lazily and impudently staring at me with his little eyes. And this irritated me to such a degree that I threw up my work and went away.
From Stepan we heard that Moisey was Madame Tcheprakov’s lover. I noticed that when people came to her to borrow money they addressed themselves first to Moisey, and once I saw a peasant, black from head to foot—he must have been a coalheaver—bow down at Moisey’s feet. Sometimes, after a little whispering, he gave out money himself, without consulting his mistress, from which I concluded that he did a little business on his own account.
He used to shoot in our garden under our windows, carried off victuals from our cellar, borrowed our horses without asking permission, and we were indignant and began to feel as though Dubetchnya were not ours, and Masha would say, turning pale:
“Can we really have to go on living with these reptiles another eighteen months?”