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    Chapter 5

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    Chapter 5
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    "Do you want to sleep already?" asked Albert with a smile. "And I have been at Anna Ivanovna's and had a very pleasant evening. We had music, and laughed, and there was delightful company. Let me have a glass of something," he added, taking hold of a water-bottle that stood on a little table, "- but not water."

    Albert was just the same as he had been the previous evening: the same beautiful smile in his eyes and on his lips, the same bright inspired forehead, and the same feeble limbs. Zakhar's paletot fitted him well, and the clean wide unstarched collar of the nightshirt encircled his thin white neck picturesquely, giving him a particularly childlike and innocent look. He sat down on Delesov's bed and looked at him silently with a happy and grateful smile. Delesov looked into his eyes, and again suddenly felt himself captivated by that smile. He no longer wanted to sleep, he forgot that it was his duty to be stern: on the contrary he wished to make merry, to hear music, and to chat amicably with Albert till morning. He told Zakhar to bring a bottle of wine, some cigarettes, and the violin.

    "There, that's splendid!" said Albert. "It's still early, and we'll have some music. I'll play for you as much as you like."

    Zakhar, with evident pleasure, brought a bottle of Lafitte, two tumblers, some mild cigarettes such as Albert smoked, and the violin. But instead of going to bed as his master told him to, he himself lit a cigar and sat down in the adjoining room.

    "Let us have a talk," said Delesov to the musician, who was about to take up the violin.

    Albert submissively sat down on the bed and again smiled joyfully.

    "Oh yes!" said he, suddenly striking his forehead with his hand and assuming an anxiously inquisitive expression. (A change of expression always preceded anything he was about to say.) "Allow me to ask- " he made a slight pause - "that gentleman who was there with you last night - you called him N - , isn't he the son of the celebrated N - ?"

    "His own son," Delesov answered, not at all understanding how that could interest Albert.

    "Exactly!" said Albert with a self-satisfied smile. "I noticed at once something particularly aristocratic in his manner. I love aristocrats: there is something particularly beautiful and elegant in an aristocrat. And that officer who dances so well?" he asked. "I liked him very much too: he is so merry and so fine. Isn't he Adjutant N.N.?"

    "Which one?" asked Delesov.

    "The one who bumped against me when we were dancing. He must be an excellent fellow."

    "No, he's a shallow fellow," Delesov replied.

    "Oh, no!" Albert warmly defended him. "There is something very, very pleasant about him. He is a capital musician," he added. "He played something there out of an opera. It's a long time since I took such a liking to anyone."

    "Yes, he plays well, but I don't like his playing," said Delesov, wishing to get his companion to talk about music. "He does not understand classical music - Donizetti and Bellini, you know, are not music. You think so too, no doubt?"

    "Oh, no, no, excuse me!" began Albert with a gentle, pleading look. "The old music is music, and the new music is music. There are extraordinary beauties in the new music too. Sonnambula, and the finale of Lucia, and Chopin, and Robert! [Note: Sonnambula, opera by Bellini, produced in 1831. Lucia di Lammermoor, opera by Donizetti, produced in 1835. Robert the Devil, opera by Meyerbeer, produced in 1831; or possibly the allusion may be to Roberto Devereux, by Donizetti.] I often think - " he paused, evidently collecting his thoughts - "that if Beethoven were alive he would weep with joy listening to Sonnambula for the first time when Viardot and Rubini were here. [Note: Pauline Viardot-Garcia, the celebrated operatic singer with whom Turgenev had a close friendship for many years. Rubini, an Italian tenor who had great success in Russia in the 'forties of the last century.] It was like this ... " he said, and his eyes glistened as he made a gesture with both arms as though tearing something out of his breast. "A little more and it would have been impossible to bear it."

    "And what do you think of the opera at the present time?" asked Delesov.

    "Bosio is good, very good," [Note: Angidina Bosio, an Italian singer, who was in Petersburg in 1856-9.] he said, "extraordinarily exquisite, but she does not touch one here," pointing to his sunken chest. "A singer needs passion, and she has none. She gives pleasure but does not torment."

    "How about Lablache?" [Note: Luigi Lablache. He was regarded as the chief basso of modern times.]

    "I heard him in Paris in the Barbier de Seville. He was unique then, but now he is old: he cannot be an artist, he is old."

    "Well, what if he is old? He is still good in morceaux d'ensemble," said Delesov, who was in the habit of saying that of Lablache.

    "How 'what if he is old?'" rejoined Albert severely. "He should not be old. An artist should not be old. Much is needed for art, but above all, fire!" said he with glittering eyes and stretching both arms upwards.

    And a terrible inner fire really seemed to burn in his whole body.

    "O my God!" he suddenly exclaimed. "Don't you know Petrov, the artist?"

    "No, I don't," Delesov replied, smiling.

    "How I should like you to make his acquaintance! You would enjoy talks with him. How well he understands art, too! I used often to meet him at Anna Ivanovna's, but now she is angry with him for some reason. I should very much like you to know him. He has great talent, great talent!"

    "Does he paint now?" Delesov asked.

    "I don't know, I think not, but he was an Academy artist. What ideas he has! It's wonderful when he talks sometimes. Oh, Petrov has great talent, only he leads a very gay life ... that's a pity," Albert added with a smile. After that he got off the bed, took the violin, and began tuning it.

    "Is it long since you were at the opera?" Delesov asked.

    Albert looked round and sighed.

    "Ah, I can't go there any more!" he said. "I will tell you!" And clutching his head he again sat down beside Delesov and muttered almost in a whisper: "I can't go there. I can't play there - I have nothing - nothing! No clothes, no home, no violin. It is a miserable life! A miserable life!" he repeated several times. And why should I go there? What for? No need!" he said, smiling. "Ah! Don Juan ... "

    He struck his head with his hand.

    "Then let us go there together sometime," said Delesov.

    Without answering, Albert jumped up, seized the violin, and began playing the finale of the first act of Don Juan, telling the story of the opera in his own words.

    Delesov felt the hair stir on his head as Albert played the voice of the dying commandant.

    "No!" said Albert, putting down the violin. "I cannot play today. I have had too much to drink."

    But after that he went up to the table, filled a tumbler with wine, drank it at a gulp, and again sat down on Delesov's bed.

    Delesov looked at Albert, not taking his eyes off him. Occasionally Albert smiled, and so did Delesov. They were both silent; but their looks and smiles created more and more affectionate relations between them. Delesov felt himself growing fonder of the man, and experienced an incomprehensible joy.

    "Have you ever been in love?" he suddenly asked.

    Albert thought for a few seconds, and then a sad smile lit up his face. He leaned over to Delesov and looked attentively in his eyes.

    "Why have you asked me that?" he whispered. "I will tell you everything, because I like you," he continued, after looking at him for a while and then glancing round. "I won't deceive you, but will tell you everything from the beginning, just as it happened." He stopped, his eyes wild and strangely fixed. "You know that my mind is weak," he suddenly said. "Yes, yes," he went on. "Anna Ivanovna is sure to have told you. She tells everybody that I am mad! That is not true; she says it as a joke, she is a kindly woman, and I have really not been quite well for some time."

    He stopped again and gazed with fixed wide-open eyes at the dark doorway. "You asked whether I have been in love? ... Yes, I have been in love," he whispered, lifting his brows. "It happened long ago, when I still had my job in the theatre. I used to play second violin at the Opera, and she used to have the lower-tier box next the stage, on the left."

    He got up and leaned over to Delesov's ear.

    "No, why should I name her?" he said. "You no doubt know her - everybody knows her. I kept silent and only looked at her; I knew I was a poor artist, and she an aristocratic lady. I knew that very well. I only looked at her and planned nothing..."

    Albert reflected, trying to remember.

    How it happened I don't remember; but I was once called in to accompany her on the violin. ... but what was I, a poor artist?" he said, shaking his head and smiling. "But no, I can't tell it..." he added, clutching head. "How happy I was!"

    "Yes? And did you often go to her house?" Delesov asked.

    "Once! Once only...but it was my own fault. I was mad! I was a poor artist, and she an aristocratic lady. I ought not to have said anything to her. But I went mad and acted like a fool. Since then all has been over for me. Petrov told the truth, that it would have been better for me to have seen her only at the theatre..."

    "What was it you did?" asked Delesov.

    "Ah, wait! Wait! I can't speak of that!"

    With his face hidden in his hands he remained silent for some time.

    "I came late to the orchestra. Petrov and I had been drinking that evening, and I was distracted. She was sitting in her box talking to a general. I don't know who that general was. She sat at the very edge of the box, with her arm on the ledge; she had on a white dress and pearls round her neck. She talked to him and looked at me. She looked at me twice. Her hair was done like this. I was not playing, but stood near the basses and looked at her. Then for the first time I felt strange. She smiled at the general and looked at me. I felt she was speaking about me, and I suddenly saw that I was not in the orchestra, but in the box beside her and holding her arm, just there.... How was that?" Albert asked after a short silence.

    "That was vivid imagination," said Delesov.

    "No, no! ... but I don't know how to tell it," Albert replied, frowning. "Even then I was poor and had no lodging, and when I went to the theatre I sometimes stayed the night there."

    "What, at the theatre? In that dark, empty place?"

    "Oh, I am not afraid of such nonsense. Wait a bit.... When they had all gone away I would go to the box where she had been sitting and sleep there. That was my one delight. What nights I spent there! But once it began again. Many things appeared to me in the night, but I can't tell you much." Albert glanced at Delesov with downcast eyes. "What was it?" he asked.

    "It is strange!" said Delesov.

    "No, wait, wait!" he continued, whispering in Delesov's ear. "I kissed her hand, wept there beside her, and talked much with her. I inhaled the scent of her perfume and heard her voice. She told me much in one night. Then I took my violin and played softly; and I played splendidly. But I felt frightened. I am not afraid of those foolish things and don't believe in them, but I was afraid for my head," he said, touching his forehead with an amiable smile. "I was frightened for my poor wits. It seemed to me that something had happened to my head. Perhaps it's nothing. What do you think?"

    Both were silent for some minutes.

    "Und wenn die Wolken sie verhullen Die Sonne bleibt doch ewig klar." ["And even if the clouds do hide it,The sun remains for ever clear."]

    Albert sand with a soft smile. "Is not that so?" he added.

    "Ich auch habe gelebt und genossen..." ["I, too, have lived and enjoyed."]

    "Ah, how well old Petrov would have explained it all to you!"

    Delesov looked silently and in terror at the pale and agitated face of his companion."Do you know the "Juristen-Waltzer?" Albert suddenly exclaimed, and without awaiting an answer he jumped up, seized the violin, and began to play the merry waltz tune, forgetting himself completely, and evidently imagining that a whole orchestra was playing with him. He smiled, swayed, shifted his feet, and played superbly.

    "Eh! Enough of merrymaking!" he said when he had finished, and flourished the violin.

    "I am going," he said, after sitting silently for a while - "won't you come with me?"

    "Where to?" Delesov asked in surprise.

    "Let's go to Anna Ivanovna's again. It's gay there - noise, people, music!"

    At first Delesov almost consented, but bethinking himself he tried to persuade Albert not to go that night.

    "Only for a moment."

    "No, really, you'd better not!"

    Albert sighed and put down the violin.

    "So, I must stay here?"

    And looking again at the table (there was no wine left) he said goodnight and left the room.

    Delesov rang.

    "See that you don't let Mr. Albert go anywhere without my permission," he said to Zakhar.
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