Pavel was waiting till horses are harnessed. From a dirty yard he went in a unsightly house of a stationmaster in a small room of which were sitting and staying some travellers.
Some of them were reading near a dim candle, others were talking about odd pictures on the walls of the room, thirds were having a dinner or drinking tea.
Each of these activities could amuse Pavel, but he just sat beside a window. Drops of a rain were coming down the glass and his life seemed to be as dull and grey as an autumnal sky.
Neither Saint Petersburg, which Pavel had left, nor a village where he was going were interesting to him or even worth attention.
In Saint Petersburg he had tried forgetting his past and, having had sampled every way from carousing to work taking all his time, did not succeeded. Now he was going to a late aunt's manor, which was bequeathed for him. He wanted to bring thithere a fairness -- he ment to give the land to villagers.
Pavel hoped that it would help him to forget her.
The stationmaster's daughter entered the room hanging in little white hands a sugarbowl. "Some tea?" - she asked.
Pavel looked at her and kept silence. "My God," - he thought, "it's she!"
It was not she -- only an illusion. A greyish dress similar to hers and rad curls were the only same things in them. Nothing more reminded her - so nice, educated, graceful and so painfully, so suddenly betrayed him.
That day Pavel was walking through rooms — with expensive but a bit tacky furniture — of Vostrovsky's house. These merchants held an open table, end everybody could have lunch there.
Having a meal here became Pavel's habit not because of taste food, interesting discussions or pleasant company — there was nothing of these.
His everyday visits were caused by her, his beloved Eupraxia. Almost never she talked to him, and having talked confused and got quiet - pretty and modest.
If he asked Eupraxia about music or literature, she said that she knows that novel or opera and nothing more; surely, she did not want him to think that she was a squirt.
Since Pavel decided to explain himself, he arrived earlier than usual and hoped to met Eupraxia in a room.
Yes, she was there, standing near the window. Eupraxia, smiling happily, looked at the yard and fumbled a ruffle of her dress. "She's as perfect Botticelli's Aphrodite." - thought Pavel.
"Good afternoon." - he said. Eupraxia gave him a look, greeted him quietly and took her embroidery with yellow, golden, almost laughing flowers.
"Allow me tell you a thing," - Pavel started, - "that doesn't go from my mind for a long time. I first met you a month ago, and even than I thought you to be a celestial being.
In my soul appeared a feeling I had never knew. This feeling, sweety and bitter in the same time, was getting bigger and bigger, was more and more attracting me to you.
Now I cannot resist it and I'm saying all that." He added gently and solemnly: "Now I have to ask if you love me and request your hand or left the house forever."
"I wish you new how I love you." - a tear ran down her cheek. "But today..."
Pavel gave her no opportunity to speak more: being anxious, he exclaimed: "So if you agree - don't you? - I'll talk to your parents!"
Eupraxia did not have time to answer: her father and an old man entered the room.
"Ah, Pavel Grigoryevich, good afternoon," - the merchant said. "You can congrate Eupraxia, she is a fiancee now. And let me introduce you her fiance."
"Fiance?" - Pavel gave her a black look. "Than goodbye! I haven't thought that you can do such a mean thing." He had no idea what to do because felt disappointed. Although he felt sorry for Eupraxia a bit, he wrote her a letter full of anger and went to Petersburg.
The copy of the letter was made two years ago and was quite old. It was an only reminder about that happy time and Pavel liked reading it. Now, sitting in a station house, he also did it.
"Eupraxia Savvichna, Perhaps it will be unpleasant to get that letter because I mean nothing to you. Nevertheless, I have to speak and suppose the letter to be necessary.
How joyful were your words «And I love you», how many hopes they born! Explaining you my feelings I was afraid of another answer, so it is impossible to describe you my admiration.
I do not know what was a reason for such an answer. Although I disillusioned with you, I cannot believe that you wanted to play a joke.
So I will left the town. I do not hold grudges and wish you be happy with your husband. Pavel."
The door opened and a woman in a black dress entered. Now there was no doubt: it is she. Eupraxia also recognised Pavel and said: "Please, be magnanimous! Forgive me!"
She started crying. "She is so heartfelt!" - Pavel thought. - "How could I believe that she loved that old man?"
"It was a terrible mistake," -- added Eupraxia. "You see how miserable I am... only your forgiveness will help me."
"Sure, I'll forgive you... I forgave long time ago! I still love you." "So will you repeat your question?"
That day Eupraxia had a serious talk with the parents. "Eupraxia, we must tell you something," - her father started but stopped thinking of a continuation.
"You are quite adult," - the mother said. - "We, as loving parents, want you to have a happy future. You won't be alone with such difficult matter." "It's all unnecessary!" - the father interrupted her. - "You have to marry, Eupraxia."
"We've found a fiance," - the mother said slowly. - "He's not reach but good man."
Eupraxia worried. If the fiance is Pavel, it will be awful! He can speak only about music or literature and she cannot stand them.
And probably he has nothing except his old coat that he wears everyday. Or maybe education did not made him clever and Pavel does not understand what she thinks about him?
Her fears did not born out. The fiance was an old man who she met several times, and his manor and title made her to love him immediately.
She was thinking about balls and expensive dresses when Pavel came to her and started his long boring speech.
"Say no to such an ardent man means to have an enemy" - thought Eupraxia while he was talking. - "Should he became a paramour? Or maybe he'll become my husband when that dies?" The last was the cleverest so Eupraxia cried when answering him.