OBLOMOV recovered consciousness. Before him Schtoltz was
standing—but the Schtoltz of the present, not the Schtoltz of a daydream.
Swiftly the landlady caught up the baby Andriusha, swept the table clear
of her work, and carried off the children. Alexiev also disappeared, and
Schtoltz and Oblomov found themselves alone. For a moment or two they gazed
at one another amid a tense silence.
"Is that really you, Schtoltz?" asked Oblomov in tones scarcely audible
for emotion—such tones as a man employs only towards his dearest friend and
after a long separation.
"Yes, it is I," replied Schtoltz quietly. "And you—are you quite well?"
Oblomov embraced him heartily. In that embrace were expressed all the
long-concealed grief and joy which, fermenting ever in his soul, had never,
since Schtoltz's last departure, been expressed to any human being. Then
they seated themselves, and once more gazed at one another.
"Are you really well?" Schtoltz asked again.
"Yes, thank God!" replied Oblomov.
"But you have been ill?"
"Yes—I was seized with a stroke."
"Ah, Ilya, Ilya! Evidently you have let yourself go again. What have you
been doing? Actually, it is five years since last we saw one another!"
Oblomov sighed, but said nothing. "And why did you not come to
Oblomovka?" pursued Schtoltz. "And why have you never written to me?"
"What was there to say?" was Oblomov's sad reply. "You know me.
Consequently you need ask no more."
"So you are still living in these rooms?" And Schtoltz surveyed the room
as he spoke. "Why have you not moved?"
"Because I am still here. I do not think the move will ever take place."
"Why are you so sure?"
"Because I am sure."
Again Schtoltz eyed him closely, then became thoughtful, and started to
pace the room.
"And what of Olga Sergievna?" was Oblomov's next question. "Where is she
now, and does she still remember me?" At this point he broke off abruptly.
"Yes, she is well, and has of you a remembrance as clear as though she
had parted from you yesterday. Presently I will tell you where she is."
"And your children?"
"The children too are well. But are you jesting when you say that you are
going to remain where you are? My express purpose in coming here is to carry
you off to our place in the country."
"No, no!" cried Oblomov, though lowering his voice as he glanced at the
door. Evidently the proposal had disturbed him greatly. "Do not say a word
about it," he pleaded. "Do not begin your arguments again."
"But why will you not come? What is the matter with you? You know me
well, and know that long ago I undertook this task, and shall never
relinquish it. Hitherto business affairs have occupied my time, but now I am
free once more. Come and live with us, or, at all events, near us. Olga and
I have decided that you must do so. Thank God that I have found you
the same as before, and not worse! My hopes of doing that had been small.
Let us be off at once. I am prepared even to abduct you by force. You
must change your mode of life, as you well know."
To this speech Oblomov listened with impatience.
"Do not speak so loudly," he urged. "In there—"
"Is the landlady, and, should she hear us, she will think that I am going
to leave her."
"And why should you not leave her? Let her think what she likes!"
"Listen, Andrei." Oblomov's tone was one of unwonted firmness. "Do not
continue your useless attempts to persuade me. Come what may, I must remain
where I am."
Schtoltz gazed at his friend in astonishment, but Oblomov returned the
gaze with quiet resolution on his features.
"Remain here, and you are lost," said Schtoltz. "This house, that woman,
this way of living?—I tell you the thing cannot be. Let us go."
He caught Oblomov by the sleeve, and started to drag him towards the
"Why do you want to take me away?" asked Oblomov, hanging back.
"Because I want you to leave this den, this swamp, for the world of light
and air and health and normal existence." Schtoltz was speaking sternly, and
almost in a tone of command. "To what point have you sunk?" he went on.
"What is going to become of you? Think for a moment. Are you so attached to
this mode of life that you wish to go to sleep like a mole in its burrow?
"I desire to remember nothing. Do not disturb the past. It can never be
brought back again." Into Oblomov's face there had come a full consciousness
of his power to think, to reason, and to will. "What is it you wish me to
do? From the world to which you would abduct me I have parted for ever; and
to solder together two pieces which have started asunder is impossible. I
have grown to look upon this nook as my world. Should you uproot me from it,
I shall die."
"But look at the place, at the people with whom you are living!"
"I know what you mean—I am perfectly conscious of the facts. Ah, Andrei,
believe me when I say that so well do I feel and understand things that for
many a day past I have been ashamed to show myself abroad. Yet I cannot
accompany you on your road. Even did I wish it, such a course is out of my
power. Possibly, when you were last here, I might have made the
attempt; but now"—here he dropped his eyes for a moment and paused—"now it
is too late. Go, and waste no further time upon me. Your friendship, as God
in heaven knows, I value; but your disturbance of my peace I do not
"Nothing that you can say will turn me from my purpose. I intend to carry
you off, and the more so because I suspect certain things. Look here. Put on
a garment of some sort, and come and spend the evening at my rooms. I have
much to tell you, for I suppose you know what is afoot at our place?"
Oblomov looked at him inquiringly.
"Ah, I had forgotten," Schtoltz went on. "You no longer go into society.
Well, come with me, and I will tell you the whole story. Also, do you know
who is waiting for me in a carriage at the gates? I will go and call her
"What? Olga?" As the words burst tremulously from Oblomov's lips his face
underwent a sudden change. "For God's sake do not bring her here! Go, go,
for God's sake!"
But the elder man refused to move, although his friend half started to
push him towards the door.
"I cannot return to her without you," he said. "I have pledged my word on
that. If you will not come with me to-day, then you must come to-morrow. You
are merely putting me off for a time: you will never put me off for ever.
Even should it be the day after to-morrow, we still shall meet again."
Oblomov said nothing, but hung his head as though afraid to meet
"When are you coming, therefore?" went on Schtoltz. "Olga will be sure to
ask me when."
"Ah, Andrei," cried the other in a tone of affectionate appeal as he
embraced his friend and laid his head upon his shoulder, "Pray leave me
"What? For ever?" cried Schtoltz in astonishment as he withdrew a little
from Oblomov's embrace in order the better to look him in the face.
"Yes," whispered Oblomov.
Schtoltz stepped back a pace or two.
"Can this really be you, Ilya?" he exclaimed reproachfully. "Do you
really reject me in favour of that woman, of that landlady of yours?" He
started with a sudden pang. "So that child which I saw just now is
your child? Ah, Ilya, Ilya! Come hence at once. How you have
fallen! What is that woman to you?"
"She is my wife," said Oblomov simply.
Schtoltz stood petrified.
"Yes, and the child is my son," Oblomov continued. "He has been called
Andrei after yourself." Somehow he seemed to breathe more freely now that he
had got rid of the burden of these disclosures. As for Schtoltz, his face
fell, and he gazed around the room with vacant eyes. A gulf had opened
before him, a high wall had suddenly shot up, and Oblomov seemed to have
ceased to exist—he seemed to have vanished from his friend's sight, and to
have fallen headlong. The only feeling in Schtoltz's mind was an aching
sorrow of the kind which a man experiences when, hastening to visit a friend
after a long parting, he finds that for many a day past that friend has been
"You are lost!" he kept whispering mechanically. "What am I to say to
At length Oblomov caught the last words, and tried to say something, but
failed. All he could do was to extend his hands in Schtoltz's direction.
Silently, convulsively the pair embraced, even as before death or a battle.
In that embrace was left no room for words or tears or expressions of
"Never forget my little Andrei," was Oblomov's last choking utterance.
Slowly and silently Schtoltz left the house. Slowly and silently he crossed
the courtyard and entered the carriage. When he had gone Oblomov reseated
himself upon the sofa in his room, rested his elbows upon the table, and
buried his face in his hands . . . .
"No, never will I forget your little Andrei," thought Schtoltz sadly as
he drove homewards. "Ah, Ilya, you are lost beyond recall! It would be
useless now to tell you that your Oblomovka is no longer in ruins, that its
turn is come again, and that it is basking in the rays of the sun. It would
be useless now to tell you that, some four years hence, it will have a
railway-station, and that your peasantry are clearing away the rubbish
there, and that before long an iron road will be carrying your grain to the
wharves, and that already local schools have been built. Such a dawn of good
fortune would merely affright you; it would merely cause your unaccustomed
eyes to smart. Yet along the road which you could not tread I will lead your
little Andrei; and with him I will put into practice those theories whereof
you and I used to dream in the days of our youth. Farewell, Oblomovka of the
past! You have outlived your day!" For the last time Schtoltz looked back at
Oblomov's diminutive establishment.
"What do you say?" asked Olga with a beating heart.
"Nothing," Schtoltz answered dryly and abruptly.
"Is he alive and well?"
"Yes," came the reluctant reply.
"Then why have you returned so soon? Why did you not call me to the
house, or else bring him out to see me? Let me go back, please."
"No, you cannot."
"Why so? What has happened there? Will you not tell me?"
Schtoltz continued to say nothing.
"Again I ask you: what is the matter with him?"
"The disease of Oblomovka," was the grim response. And throughout the
rest of the journey homeward Schtoltz refused to answer a single one of