"Varvara Andreevna, when I was very young, I set before myself
the ideal of the women I loved and should be happy to call my
wife. I have lived through a long life, and now for the first
time I have met what I sought--in you. I love you, and offer you
Sergey Ivanovitch was saying this to himself while he was ten
paces from Varvara. Kneeling down, with her hands over the
mushrooms to guard them from Grisha, she was calling little
"Come here, little ones! There are so many!" she was saying in
her sweet, deep voice.
Seeing Sergey Ivanovitch approaching, she did not get up and did
not change her position, but everything told him that she felt
his presence and was glad of it.
"Well, did you find some?" she asked from under the white
kerchief, turning her handsome, gently smiling face to him.
"Not one," said Sergey Ivanovitch. "Did you?"
She did not answer, busy with the children who thronged about
"That one too, near the twig," she pointed out to little Masha a
little fungus, split in half across its rosy cap by the dry grass
from under which it thrust itself. Varenka got up while Masha
picked the fungus, breaking it into two white halves. "This
brings back my childhood," she added, moving apart from the
children beside Sergey Ivanovitch.
They walked on for some steps in silence. Varenka saw that he
wanted to speak; she guessed of what, and felt faint with joy and
panic. They had walked so far away that no one could hear them
now, but still he did not begin to speak. It would have been
better for Varenka to be silent. After a silence it would have
been easier for them to say what they wanted to say than after
talking about mushrooms. But against her own will, as it were
accidentally, Varenka said: