Part 6, Chapter 5 Summary
As he walks toward Varenka, Sergey Ivanovitch rehearses what he will say when he asks for her hand in marriage. It is a pretty speech. He approaches the woman he loves; she sees him coming and is glad. She is thronged by the children and only gets up to point out a mushroom to one of them, moving closer to the man she loves. They walk a few steps in silence, and Varenka senses that he wants to speak to her. She guesses what he would like to say and feels both joy and panic.
They have walked far enough away now that no one can hear them, but still Sergey Ivanovitch does not speak. It would have been better if Varenka had remained silent, for after silence it would have been easier for them to speak their hearts. But almost against her will, Varenka asks him an inane question about mushrooms. Sergey Ivanovitch sighs and answers with silence; he is annoyed that Varenka started talking about mushrooms. What he wants to do is get her talking again about her childhood; instead, after a long pause and almost against his will, he responds to her question.
Several minutes have passed and they are farther away from the children. The couple is quite alone. Varenka’s heart is pounding and she feels as if she is turning pale and blushing in alternating moments. To be the wife of a man such as Sergey Ivanovitch would be to her the height of happiness. She is almost certain she is in love with him, but it frightens her that she will have to make her decision in this very moment. She dreads both his speaking and his not speaking.
Sergey Ivanovitch also feels as if it must be said now or not at all. Everything in Varenka’s face betrays her painful suspense; he sees it and feels sorry for her. He knows that saying nothing right now would be a slight to her, so he quickly reviews in his mind all the arguments supporting his decision to ask for her hand in marriage. He even reviews the speech in which he asks her to marry him; but instead of those words, an...
(The entire section is 543 words.)