A Hero of Our Time Part 4

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"'I know all,' I answered, going up to the bed.

"'So much the better,' he said. 'I am not in a narrative mood.'

"'Ensign, you have committed an offence for which I may have to answer as well as you.'

"'Oh, that'll do. What's the harm? You know, we've gone halves in everything.'

"'What sort of a joke do you think you are playing? Your sword, please!'...

"'Mitka, my sword!'

"'Mitka brought the sword. My duty discharged, I sat down on the bed, facing Pechorin, and said: 'Listen here, Grigori Aleksandrovich, you must admit that this is a bad business.'

"'What is?'

"'Why, that you have carried off Bela... Ah, it is that beast Azamat!...

Come, confess!' I said.

"'But, supposing I am fond of her?'...

"Well, what could I say to that?... I was nonplussed. After a short interval of silence, however, I told him that if Bela's father were to claim her he would have to give her up.

"'Not at all!'

"'But he will get to know that she is here.'

"'How?'

"Again I was nonplussed.

"'Listen, Maksim Maksimych,' said Pechorin, rising to his feet. 'You're a kind-hearted man, you know; but, if we give that savage back his daughter, he will cut her throat or sell her. The deed is done, and the only thing we can do now is not to go out of our way to spoil matters.

Leave Bela with me and keep my sword!'

"'Show her to me, though,' I said.

"'She is behind that door. Only I wanted, myself, to see her to-day and wasn't able to. She sits in the corner, m.u.f.fled in her veil, and neither speaks nor looks up--timid as a wild chamois! I have hired the wife of our dukhan-keeper: she knows the Tartar language, and will look after Bela and accustom her to the idea that she belongs to me--for she shall belong to no one else!' he added, banging his fist on the table.

"I a.s.sented to that too... What could I do? There are some people with whom you absolutely have to agree."

"Well?" I asked Maksim Maksimych. "Did he really succeed in making her grow accustomed to him, or did she pine away in captivity from home-sickness?"

"Good gracious! how could she pine away from home-sickness? From the fortress she could see the very same hills as she could from the village--and these savages require nothing more. Besides, Grigori Aleksandrovich used to give her a present of some kind every day. At first she didn't utter a word, but haughtily thrust away the gifts, which then fell to the lot of the dukhan-keeper's wife and aroused her eloquence. Ah, presents! What won't a woman do for a coloured rag!...

But that is by the way... For a long time Grigori Aleksandrovich persevered with her, and meanwhile he studied the Tartar language and she began to understand ours. Little by little she grew accustomed to looking at him, at first furtively, askance; but she still pined and crooned her songs in an undertone, so that even I would feel heavy at heart when I heard her from the next room. One scene I shall never forget: I was walking past, and I looked in at the window; Bela was sitting on the stove-couch, her head sunk on her breast, and Grigori Aleksandrovich was standing, facing her.

"'Listen, my Peri,' he was saying. 'Surely you know that you will have to be mine sooner or later--why, then, do you but torture me? Is it that you are in love with some Chechene? If so, I will let you go home at once.'

"She gave a scarcely perceptible start and shook her head.

"'Or is it,' he continued, 'that I am utterly hateful to you?'

"She heaved a sigh.

"'Or that your faith prohibits you from giving me a little of your love?'

"She turned pale and remained silent.

"'Believe me, Allah is one and the same for all races; and, if he permits me to love you, why, then, should he prohibit you from requiting me by returning my love?'

"She gazed fixedly into his face, as though struck by that new idea.

Distrust and a desire to be convinced were expressed in her eyes. What eyes they were! They sparkled just like two glowing coals.

"'Listen, my dear, good Bela!' continued Pechorin. 'You see how I love you. I am ready to give up everything to make you cheerful once more.

I want you to be happy, and, if you are going to be sad again, I shall die. Tell me, you will be more cheerful?'

"She fell into thought, her black eyes still fixed upon him. Then she smiled graciously and nodded her head in token of acquiescence.

"He took her by the hand and tried to induce her to kiss him. She defended herself feebly, and only repeated: 'Please! Please! You mustn't, you mustn't!'

"He went on to insist; she began to tremble and weep.

"'I am your captive,' she said, 'your slave; of course, you can compel me.'

"And then, again--tears.

"Grigori Aleksandrovich struck his forehead with his fist and sprang into the other room. I went in to see him, and found him walking moodily backwards and forwards with folded arms.

"'Well, old man?' I said to him.

"'She is a devil--not a woman!' he answered. 'But I give you my word of honour that she shall be mine!'

"I shook my head.

"'Will you bet with me?' he said. 'In a week's time?'

"'Very well,' I answered.

"We shook hands on it and separated.

"The next day he immediately despatched an express messenger to Kizlyar to purchase some things for him. The messenger brought back a quite innumerable quant.i.ty of various Persian stuffs.

"'What think you, Maksim Maksimych?' he said to me, showing the presents. 'Will our Asiatic beauty hold out against such a battery as this?'

"'You don't know the Circa.s.sian women,' I answered. 'They are not at all the same as the Georgian or the Transcaucasian Tartar women--not at all!

They have their own principles, they are brought up differently.'

"Grigori Aleksandrovich smiled and began to whistle a march to himself."

A Hero of Our Time Part 4

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A Hero of Our Time Part 4 summary

You're reading A Hero of Our Time Part 4. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Mikhail Yurevich Lermontov already has 208 views.

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