"So you found nothing? In the middle of the wood there are
always fewer, though." Sergey Ivanovitch sighed and made no
answer. He was annoyed that she had spoken about the mushrooms.
He wanted to bring her back to the first words she had uttered
about her childhood; but after a pause of some length, as though
against his own will, he made an observation in response to her
"I have heard that the white edible funguses are found
principally at the edge of the wood, though I can't tell them
Some minutes more passed, they moved still further away from the
children, and were quite alone. Varenka's heart throbbed so that
she heard it beating, and felt that she was turning red and pale
and red again.
To be the wife of a man like Koznishev, after her position with
Madame Stahl, was to her imagination the height of happiness.
Besides, she was almost certain that she was in love with him.
And this moment it would have to be decided. She felt
frightened. She dreaded both his speaking and his not speaking.
Now or never it must be said--that Sergey Ivanovitch felt too.
Everything in the expression, the flushed cheeks and the downcast
eyes of Varenka betrayed a painful suspense. Sergey Ivanovitch
saw it and felt sorry for her. He felt even that to say nothing
now would be a slight to her. Rapidly in his own mind he ran
over all the arguments in support of his decision. He even said
over to himself the words in which he meant to put his offer, but
instead of those words, some utterly unexpected reflection that
occurred to him made him ask:
"What is the difference between the 'birch' mushroom and the
Varenka's lips quivered with emotion as she answered:
"In the top part there is scarcely any difference, it's in the
And as soon as these words were uttered, both he and she felt
that it was over, that what was to have been said would not be
said; and their emotion, which had up to then been continually
growing more intense, began to subside.