“Dear, good Marya Ivanofna,” I said to her, “be my wife. Consent to give me happiness.”
She became reasonable again.
“For heaven’s sake, calm yourself,” she said, withdrawing her hand. “You are still in danger; your wound may reopen; be careful of yourself—were it only for my sake.”
After these words she went away, leaving me at the height of happiness. I felt that life was given back to me.
“She will be mine! She loves me!”
This thought filled all my being.
From this moment I hourly got better. It was the barber of the regiment who dressed my wound, for there was no other doctor in all the fort, and, thank God, he did not attempt any doctoring. Youth and nature hastened my recovery. All the Commandant’s family took the greatest care of me. Marya Ivanofna scarcely ever left me. It is unnecessary to say that I seized the first favourable opportunity to resume my interrupted proposal, and this time Marya heard me more patiently. She naively avowed to me her love, and added that her parents would, in all probability, rejoice in her happiness.
“But think well about it,” she used to say to me. “Will there be no objections on the part of your family?”
These words made me reflect. I had no doubt of my mother’s tenderness; but knowing the character and way of thinking of my father, I foresaw that my love would not touch him very much, and that he would call it youthful folly. I frankly confessed this to Marya Ivanofna, but in spite of this I resolved to write to my father as eloquently as possible to ask his blessing. I showed my letter to Marya Ivanofna, who found it so convincing and touching that she had no doubt of success, and gave herself up to the feelings of her heart with all the confidence of youth and love.
I made peace with Chvabrine during the early days of my convalescence. Ivan Kouzmitch said to me, reproaching me for the duel—
“You know, Petr’ Andrejitch, properly speaking, I ought to put you under arrest; but you are already sufficiently punished without that. As to Alexey Ivanytch, he is confined by my order, and under strict guard, in the corn magazine, and Vassilissa Igorofna has his sword under lock and key. He will have time to reflect and repent at his ease.”
I was too happy to cherish the least rancour. I began to intercede for Chvabrine, and the good Commandant, with his wife’s leave, agreed to set him at liberty. Chvabrine came to see me. He expressed deep regret for all that had occurred, declared it was all his fault, and begged me to forget the past. Not being of a rancorous disposition, I heartily forgave him both our quarrel and my wound. I saw in his slander the irritation of wounded vanity and rejected love, so I generously forgave my unhappy rival.
I was soon completely recovered, and was able to go back to my quarters. I impatiently awaited the answer to my letter, not daring to hope, but trying to stifle sad forebodings that would arise. I had not yet attempted any explanation as regarded Vassilissa Igorofna and her husband. But my courtship could be no surprise to them, as neither Marya nor myself made any secret of our feelings before them, and we were sure beforehand of their consent.