Kasatsky belonged to those men of the eighteen-forties (they are now no longer to be found) who while deliberately and without any conscientious scruples condoning impurity in themselves, required ideal and angelic purity in their women, regarded all unmarried women of their circle as possessed of such purity, and treated them accordingly. There was much that was false and harmful in this outlook, as concerning the laxity the men permitted themselves, but in regard to the women that old-fashioned view (sharply differing from that held by young people to-day who see in every girl merely a female seeking a mate) was, I think, of value. The girls, perceiving such adoration, endeavoured with more or less success to be goddesses.
Such was the view Kasatsky held of women, and that was how he regarded his fiancee. He was particularly in love that day, but did not experience any sensual desire for her. On the contrary he regarded her with tender adoration as something unattainable.
He rose to his full height, standing before her with both hands on his sabre.
'I have only now realized what happiness a man can experience! And it is you, my darling, who have given me this happiness,' he said with a timid smile.
Endearments had not yet become usual between them, and feeling himself morally inferior he felt terrified at this stage to use them to such an angel.
'It is thanks to you that I have come to know myself. I have learnt that I am better than I thought.'
'I have known that for a long time. That was why I began to love you.'
Nightingales trilled near by and the fresh leafage rustled, moved by a passing breeze.