« НазадПродовжити »
Poor old woman! She had no thought for the great moment which was awaiting her, nor of her soul, nor of the future life; she thought only of her poor companion, with whom she had passed her life, and whom she was about to leave an orphan and unprotected. After this fashion did she arrange everything with great skill, so that after her death Afanasy Ivanovitch might not perceive her absence. Her faith in her approaching end was so firm, and her mind was so fixed upon it, that in a few days she actually took to her bed, and was unable to swallow any nourishment.
Afanasy Ivanovitch was all attention, and never left her bedside. "Perhaps you could eat something, Pulkheria Ivan'na,” he said, gazing uneasily into her eyes. But Pulkheria Ivanovna made no reply. At length, after a long silence, she moved her lips as though desirous of saying something and her spirit fled.
Afanasy Ivanovitch was utterly amazed. It seemed to him so terrible that he did not even weep. He gazed at her with troubled eyes, as though he did not understand the meaning of a corpse.
Five years passed. Being in the vicinity at the end of the five years, I went to the little estate of Afanasy Ivanovitch, to inquire after my old neighbor, with whom I had spent the day so agreeably in former times, dining always on the choicest delicacies of his kind-hearted wife. When I drove up to the door, the house seemed twice as old as formerly; the peasants' cottages were lying on one side, without doubt exactly like their owners; the fence and hedge around the yard were dilapidated; and I myself saw the cook pull out a paling to heat the stove, when she had only a couple of steps to take in order to get the kindling-wood which had been piled there expressly for
I stepped sadly, upon the veranda; the same dogs, now blind or with broken legs, raised their bushy tails, all matted with burs, and barked.
The old man came out to meet me. So this was he! I recognized him at once, but he was twice as bent as formerly. He knew me, and greeted me with the smile which was so familiar to me. I followed him into the room. All there seemed as in the past; but I observed a strange disorder, a tangible loss of something. In everything was visible the absence of the painstaking Pulkheria Ivanovna. At table, they gave us a knife without a handle; the dishes were prepared
with little art. I did not care to inquire about the
I management of the estate; I was even afraid to glance at the farm buildings. I tried to interest Afanasy Ivanovitch in something, and told him divers bits of news. He listened with his customary smile, but his glance was at times quite unintelligent; and thoughts did not wander therein -- they simply disappeared.
“This is the dish” – said Afanasy Ivanovitch when they brought us curds and flour with cream, — “this is the dish” — he continued, and I observed that his voice began to quiver, and that tears were on the point of bursting from his leaden eyes; but he collected all his strength in the effort to repress them: 6. this is the dish which the the the deceas and his tears suddenly gushed forth, his hand fell upon his plate, the plate was overturned, flew from the table, and was broken. He sat stupidly, holding the spoon, and tears like a never-ceasing fountain flowed, flowed in streams down upon his napkin.
He did not live long after this. I heard of his death recently. What was strange, though, was that the circumstances attending it somewhat resembled those connected with the death of Pulkheria Ivanovna. One day, Afanasy Ivanovitch decided to take a short stroll in the garden. As he went slowly down the path with his usual heedlessness, a strange thing happened to him. All at once he heard some one behind him
say in a distinct voice, “Afanasy Ivan'itch!” He turned round, but there was no one there. He looked on all sides; he peered into the shrubbery, - no one anywhere. The day was calm and the sun was shining brightly. He pondered for a moment. Then his face lighted up, and at last he cried, “ It is Pulkheria Ivanovna calling me!”
He surrendered himself utterly to the moral conviction that Pulkheria Ivanovna was calling him. He yielded with the meekness of a submissive child, withered up, coughed, melted away like a candle, and at last expired like it when nothing remains to feed its poor flame. “ Lay me beside Pulkheria Ivan'na” – that was all he said before his death.
His wish was fulfilled; and they buried him beside the churchyard wall close to Pulkheria Ivanovna's grave. The guests at the funeral were few, but there was a throng of common and poor people. The house was already quite deserted. The enterprising clerk and village elder carried off to their cottages all the old household utensils which the housekeeper did not manage to appropriate.
OLIVER GOLDSMITH, a British novelist and poet, born at Pallas, County Longford, Ireland, Nov. 10, 1728; died in London, April 4, 1774. He entered in 1744, Dublin University and took his degree five years after. He went home, ostensibly to study for the Church. In two years he presented himself as a candidate for ordination, but was rejected. He tried tutorship, and several other things, with no result. Toward the end of 1752 he went to the Continent. He attended lectures on medicine at Leyden, and afterward went to Paris, whence he started for a pedestrian tour on the Continent. It is certain that he made an extended tour, with little or no means of support except his fiddle. His “Story of the Philosophical Vagabond,” in “ The Vicar of Wakefield,” is held to be more or less autobiographical.
Early in 1756 Goldsmith, now about eight-and-twenty, made his way back to London and penniless. In 1759 he published a small volume entitled “ An Inquiry into the present State of Polite Learning in Europe.” He wrote for several newspapers, to which he furnished a series of “Chinese Letters,” which were soon republished under the title of “The Citizen of the World.” “The Vicar of Wakefield " appeared in 1769. About the middle of 1761 he found himself in arrears to his landlady, who gave him the choice between three courses : to pay his bill, to go to prison, or to marry her. Goldsmith applied to Dr. Johnson to extricate him from this predicament; and put in his hand a bundle of manuscript. The Doctor took the manuscript, sold it to a bookseller, and handed the money to Goldsmith. That manuscript was “The Vicar of Wakefield.” Among these works — mainly compilations - are a “History of England," a “History of Greece," a “History of Rome," the “History of Animated Nature," “Life of Beau Nash,” a “Short English Grammar," and a “Survey of Experimental Philosophy.” He also wrote several very clever comedies, among which is “She Stoops to Conquer." His fame in literature, however, rests mainly upon the novel “The Vicar of Wakefield," and the two poems, "The Travelor" (1765) and “The Deserted Village” (1770).