But if the Georgian and the kind-souled Soloviev served as a palliating beginning against the sharp thorns of great worldly wisdom, in the curious education of the mind and soul of Liubka; and if Liubka forgave the pedantism of Lichonin for the sake of a first sincere and limitless love for him, and forgave just as willingly as she would have forgiven curses, beatings, or a heavy crime—the lessons of Simanovsky, on the other hand, were a downright torture and a constant, prolonged burden for her. For it must be said that he, as though in spite, was far more accurate and exact in his lessons than any pedagogue working out his weekly stipulated tutorings.
With the incontrovertibility of his opinions, the assurance of his tone and the didacticism of his presentation he took away the will of poor Liubka and paralyzed her soul; in the same way that he sometimes, during university gatherings or at mass meetings, influenced the timid and bashful minds of newcomers. He was an orator at meetings; he was a prominent member in the organization of students’ mess halls; he took part in the recording, lithographing and publication of lectures; he was chosen the head of the course; and, finally, took a very great interest in the students’ treasury. He was of that number of people who, after they leave the student auditoriums, become the leaders of parties, the unrestrained arbiters of pure and self-denying conscience; serve out their political stage somewhere in Chukhlon, directing the keen attention of all Russia to their heroically woeful situation; and after that, beautifully leaning on their past, make a career for themselves, thanks to a solid advocacy, a deputation, or else a marriage joined with a goodly piece of black loam land and provincial activity. Unnoticeably to themselves and altogether unnoticeably, of course, to the casual glance, they cautiously right themselves; or, more correctly, fade until they grow a belly unto themselves, and acquire podagra and diseases of the liver. Then they grumble at the whole world; say that they were not understood, that their time was the time of sacred ideals. While in the family they are despots and not infrequently give money out at usury.
The path of the education of Liubka’s mind and soul was plain to him, as was plain and incontrovertible everything that he conceived; he wanted at the start to interest Liubka in chemistry and physics.
“The virginally feminine mind,” he pondered, “will be astounded, then I shall gain possession of her attention, and from trifles, from hocus-pocus, I shall pass on to that which will lead her to the centre of universal knowledge, where there is no superstition, no prejudices; where there is only a broad field for the testing of nature.”