8. CHAPTER VIII.
But Gania first conducted the prince to the family apartments.
These consisted of a "salon," which became the dining-room when
required; a drawing-room, which was only a drawing-room in the
morning, and became Gania's study in the evening, and his bedroom
at night; and lastly Nina Alexandrovna's and Varvara's bedroom, a
small, close chamber which they shared together.
In a word, the whole place was confined, and a "tight fit" for
the party. Gania used to grind his teeth with rage over the state
of affairs; though he was anxious to be dutiful and polite to his
mother. However, it was very soon apparent to anyone coming into
the house, that Gania was the tyrant of the family.
Nina Alexandrovna and her daughter were both seated in the
drawing-room, engaged in knitting, and talking to a visitor, Ivan
The lady of the house appeared to be a woman of about fifty years
of age, thin-faced, and with black lines under the eves. She
looked ill and rather sad; but her face was a pleasant one for
all that; and from the first word that fell from her lips, any
stranger would at once conclude that she was of a serious and
particularly sincere nature. In spite of her sorrowful
expression, she gave the idea of possessing considerable firmness
Her dress was modest and simple to a degree, dark and elderly in
style; but both her face and appearance gave evidence that she
had seen better days.
Varvara was a girl of some twenty-three summers, of middle
height, thin, but possessing a face which, without being actually
beautiful, had the rare quality of charm, and might fascinate
even to the extent of passionate regard.
She was very like her mother: she even dressed like her, which
proved that she had no taste for smart clothes. The expression of
her grey eyes was merry and gentle, when it was not, as lately,
too full of thought and anxiety. The same decision and firmness
was to be observed in her face as in her mother's, but her
strength seemed to be more vigorous than that of Nina
Alexandrovna. She was subject to outbursts of temper, of which
even her brother was a little afraid.