"How lovely you are to-day, Grandmother. Cousin is right. Tiet Nikonich will fall in love with you." "Nonsense, chatterbox. Go to Veroshka, and tell her not to be late for Mass. I would have gone myself, but am afraid of the steps." "Directly, Grandmother," cried Marfinka, and hastened to change her dress. Vera lay unconscious for half an hour before she came to herself.
"Veroshka? I haven't seen her yet. She is away on a visit on the other side of the Volga." "And who knows what her business is there?" "I love my Aunt as if she were my Mother," said Raisky emphatically. "She is wise, honourable, just! She has strength and individuality, and there is nothing commonplace about her."
Why had Veroshka come over from the other house, and why did she walk no more in the field or in the thicket? Where was Tiet Nikonich? They all looked worried, and hardly spoke to one another; they did not even tease Marfinka and her fiance. Vera and grandmother were silent. What had happened to the whole house?
Vera sought to calm her own agitation by walking up and down the garden, but only succeeded gradually. As soon as she caught sight of Marfinka and Vikentev in the arbour, she hurried to them, looked affectionately into her sister's face, kissed her eyes, her lips, her cheeks, and embraced her warmly. "You must be happy," she said with tears in her eyes. "How lovely you are Veroshka, and how good!
She got them out, and gave them to me a little time ago, when she heard you were coming. Here is my portrait. How funny I looked! And here is Veroshka, and Granny, and Vassilissa. Do you remember how you held me, and Veroshka sat on your shoulder, and you carried us over the water?" "Do you remember that too?" asked her aunt. "Boastful child! Veroshka said the other day...."
You are not like Veroshka...." "Don't find fault with Veroshka, Granny!" "No, you always defend her. She does indeed respect me, but she retains her own opinion and does not believe me. Her view is that I am old, while you two girls are young, know everything, and read everything. If only she were right. But everything is not written in books," she added with a sigh.
Raisky burst out laughing. "Why laugh? I am speaking seriously when I tell you what a joy it would have been for your Grandmother. Then you would have wanted the lace and the silver, and not be flinging it away." "But as I am not marrying, I don't need these things. Therefore it is settled that Veroshka and Marfinka shall have them." "Your decision is final?" "It is final.
Veroshka and Marfinka provided him with amusement. Veroshka was a little girl of six, with dark, brilliant eyes and dark complexion, who was beginning to be serious and to be ashamed of her baby ways. She would hop, skip and jump, then stand still, look shyly round and walk sedately along; then she would dart on again like a bird, pick a handful of currants and stuff them into her mouth.
"You would only disturb me." "Then we shall send everything over. Ah, Veroshka, people have sent me so many presents, and flowers and bonbons. I must show them to you," and she ran over a list of them. "Yes, show me everything; perhaps I will come later," said Vera absently. "Another bouquet?" asked Marfinka, pointing to the one that lay on the floor. "For whom? How lovely!"
Then taking from its case a gold cross with four large diamonds she hung it round the girl's neck, and gave her a plain, simple bracelet with the inscription: "From Grandmother to her Grandchild," and with the name and the date. Marfinka kissed her aunt's hand, and nearly wept once more. "All that Grandmother has, and she has many things, will be divided between you and Veroshka. Now make haste."