Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sanin: "I am yours. I will come back"

Joseph-Désiré Court, Half-length Woman Lying on a Couch, 1829


'When must you go?' asked Gemma.

'To-day, in an hour's time; my friend has ordered a carriage--he will take me.'

'You will write to us?'

'At once! directly I have had a talk with this lady, I will write.'

'This lady, you say, is very rich?' queried the practical Frau Lenore.

'Exceedingly rich! her father was a millionaire, and he left everything to her.'

'Everything--to her alone? Well, that's so much the better for you. Only mind, don't let your property go too cheap! Be sensible and firm. Don't let yourself be carried away! I understand your wishing to be Gemma's husband as soon as possible ... but prudence before everything! Don't forget: the better price you get for your estate, the more there will be for you two, and for your children.'

Gemma turned away, and Sanin gave another wave of his hand. 'You can rely on my prudence, Frau Lenore! Indeed, I shan't do any bargaining with her. I shall tell her the fair price; if she'll give it--good; if not, let her go.'

'Do you know her--this lady?' asked Gemma.

'I have never seen her.'

'And when will you come back?'

'If our negotiations come to nothing--the day after to-morrow; if they turn out favourably, perhaps I may have to stay a day or two longer. In any case I shall not linger a minute beyond what's necessary. I am leaving my heart here, you know! But I have said what I had to say to you, and I must run home before setting off too.... Give me your hand for luck, Frau Lenore--that's what we always do in Russia.'

'The right or the left?'

'The left, it's nearer the heart. I shall reappear the day after to-morrow with my shield or on it! Something tells me I shall come back in triumph! Good-bye, my good dear ones....'

He embraced and kissed Frau Lenore, but he asked Gemma to follow him into her room--for just a minute--as he must tell her something of great importance. He simply wanted to say good-bye to her alone. Frau Lenore saw that, and felt no curiosity as to the matter of such great importance.

Sanin had never been in Gemma's room before. All the magic of love, all its fire and rapture and sweet terror, seemed to flame up and burst into his soul, directly he crossed its sacred threshold.... He cast a look of tenderness about him, fell at the sweet girl's feet and pressed his face against her waist....

'You are mine,' she whispered: 'you will be back soon?'

'I am yours. I will come back,' he declared, catching his breath.

'I shall be longing for you back, my dear one!'

A few instants later Sanin was running along the street to his lodging. He did not even notice that Pantaleone, all dishevelled, had darted out of the shop-door after him, and was shouting something to him and was shaking, as though in menace, his lifted hand.

Ivan Turgenev, The Torrents of Spring, translated by Constance Garnett

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