A Hero of Our Time, part 12: What a Woman Sees in Pechorin

Pechorin’s abortive ride after Vera, the only woman ever to understand his true nature, was set off by a farewell letter he received from her. Here is that letter.

———

I am writing to you quite certain that we will never see each other again. When we parted several years ago, I thought the same; but it pleased heaven to try me a second time; I did not withstand the test, my weak heart was again conquered by that familiar voice . . . but you will not despise me for this, will you? This letter is at once a farewell and a confession: I must tell you everything that has been stored in my heart ever since it first learned to love you. I will not accuse you–you behaved to me as any other man might have done: you loved me as your property, as a source of the reciprocal joys, fears and sorrows without which life would be wearisome and monotonous. I realized this from the very beginning . . . But you were unhappy, and I sacrificed myself in the hope that some day you would appreciate my sacrifice, that some day you would understand my infinite tenderness which nothing could affect. Much time has passed since then. I have fathomed all the secrets of your soul . . . and I see that mine was a vain hope. How it hurt me! But my love and my soul have melted into one: the flame is dimmer, but it has not died.

We are parting forever, yet you may be certain that I will never love another. My soul has spent all its treasures, its tears and hopes on you. She who has once loved you cannot but regard other men with some measure of contempt, not because you are better than they–oh no!–but because there is something unique in your nature, something peculiar to you alone, something so proud and unfathomable. Whatever you may be saying, your voice holds an invincible power. In no one is the desire to be loved so constant as in you. In no one is evil so attractive. In no one’s glance is there such a promise of bliss. Nobody knows better than you how to use his advantages, and no one else can be so genuinely unhappy as you, because nobody tries so hard as you to convince himself of the contrary.

Now I must explain the reason for my hasty departure; it will strike you as of little consequence, because it concerns me alone.

This morning my husband came to me and told me about your quarrel with Grushnitsky. My face must have given me away, for he looked me straight in the eye long and searchingly. I nearly fainted at the thought that you were having to fight a duel and that I was the cause. I thought I would lose my mind . . . Now, however, when I can reason clearly, I am certain that you will live–it is impossible that you would die without me, impossible! My husband paced the room for a long time; I don’t know what he said to me, nor do I remember what I replied . . . I probably told him that I loved you . . . I only remember that at the end of our conversation he insulted me with a terrible word and left the room. I heard him order the carriage . . . For three hours now I have been sitting at the window and awaiting your return . . . But you’re alive, you can’t die! The carriage is almost ready . . . Farewell, farewell! I’m lost–but what of it? If I could be certain that you will always remember me–I say nothing of loving me, no–only remember . . . Goodbye! Someone is coming . . . I have to hide this letter . . .

You don’t love Mary, do you? You won’t marry her? Oh, but you must make this sacrifice for me–I have given up everything in the world for your sake . . .

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About Pechorin

A Hero of Our Time
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One Response to A Hero of Our Time, part 12: What a Woman Sees in Pechorin

  1. Pingback: A Hero of Our Time: Introduction | Pechorin

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