“No, Petr’ Andrejitch,” replied Marya, “I will not marry you without the blessing of your parents. Without their blessing you would not be happy. Let us submit to the will of God. Should you meet with another betrothed, should you love her, God be with you, Petr’ Andrejitch, I—I will pray for you both.”
She began to cry, and went away. I meant to follow her to her room; but I felt unable to control myself, and I went home. I was seated, deep in melancholy reflections, when Saveliitch suddenly came and interrupted me.
“Here, sir,” said he, handing me a sheet of paper all covered with writing, “see if I be a spy on my master, and if I try to sow discord betwixt father and son.”
I took the paper from his hand; it was Saveliitch’s reply to the letter he had received. Here it is word for word—
“My lord, Andrej Petrovitch, our gracious father, I have received your gracious letter, in which you deign to be angered with me, your serf, bidding me be ashamed of not obeying my master’s orders. And I, who am not an old dog, but your faithful servant, I do obey my master’s orders, and I have ever served you zealously, even unto white hairs. I did not write to you about Petr’ Andrejitch’s wound in order not to frighten you without cause, and now we hear that our mistress, our mother, Avdotia Vassilieva is ill of fright, and I shall go and pray heaven for her health. Petr’ Andrejitch has been wounded in the chest, beneath the right shoulder, under one rib, to the depth of a verchok and a half, and he has been taken care of in the Commandant’s house, whither we brought him from the river bank, and it was the barber here, Stepan Paramonoff, who treated him; and now Petr’ Andrejitch, thank God, is going on well, and there is nothing but good to tell of him. His superiors, according to hearsay, are well pleased with him, and Vassilissa Igorofna treats him as her own son; and because such an affair should have happened to him you must not reproach him; the horse may have four legs and yet stumble. And you deign to write that you will send me to keep the pigs. My lord’s will be done. And now I salute you down to the ground.
“Your faithful serf,
I could not help smiling once or twice as I read the good old man’s letter. I did not feel equal to writing to my father. And to make my mother easy the letter of Saveliitch seemed to me amply sufficient.
From this day my position underwent a change. Marya Ivanofna scarcely ever spoke to me, and even tried to avoid me. The Commandant’s house became unbearable to me; little by little I accustomed myself to stay alone in my quarters.