Anna and Vronsky had long been exchanging glances, regretting
their friend's flow of cleverness. At last Vronsky, without
waiting for the artist, walked away to another small picture.
"Oh, how exquisite! What a lovely thing! A gem! How
exquisite!" they cried with one voice.
"What is it they're so pleased with?" thought Mihailov. He had
positively forgotten that picture he had painted three years ago.
He had forgotten all the agonies and the ecstasies he had lived
through with that picture when for several months it had been the
one thought haunting him day and night. He had forgotten, as he
always forgot, the pictures he had finished. He did not even
like to look at it, and had only brought it out because he was
expecting an Englishman who wanted to buy it.
"Oh, that's only an old study," he said.
"How fine!" said Golenishtchev, he too, with unmistakable
sincerity, falling under the spell of the picture.
Two boys were angling in the shade of a willow-tree. The elder
had just dropped in the hook, and was carefully pulling the float
from behind a bush, entirely absorbed in what he was doing. The
other, a little younger, was lying in the grass leaning on his
elbows, with his tangled, flaxen head in his hands, staring at
the water with his dreamy blue eyes. What was he thinking of?
The enthusiasm over this picture stirred some of the old feeling
for it in Mihailov, but he feared and disliked this waste of
feeling for things past, and so, even though this praise was
grateful to him, he tried to draw his visitors away to a third
But Vronsky asked whether the picture was for sale. To Mihailov
at that moment, excited by visitors, it was extremely distasteful
to speak of money matters.
"It is put up there to be sold," he answered, scowling gloomily.