Prince Yuri Lubovedsky
To illustrate the character of the inner world of Vitvitskaia— this woman who had stood on the brink of moral ruin and who later, thanks to the aid of persons with ideas who chanced to cross the path of her life, became, I may boldly say, such as might serve as an ideal for every woman—I will confine myself here to telling about only one aspect of her many-sided inner life.
Among other interests she was particularly drawn to the science of music. The seriousness of her attitude towards this science may be shown clearly by a conversation we had during one of the expeditions of our group.
On this journey through the centre of Turkestan, thanks to special introductions, we stayed for three days in a certain monastery not accessible to everyone. The morning we left this monastery, Vitvitskaia was as pale as death, and her arm, for some reason or other, was in a sling. For a long time she could not mount her horse by herself, and another comrade and I had to help her.
When the whole caravan was under way, I rode beside Vitvitskaia, a little behind all the others. I very much wanted to know what had happened to her and questioned her insistently. I thought that perhaps one of our comrades had acted the brute and had dared in some way to insult her—a woman who had become sacred for us all—and I wished to find out who the scoundrel was, in order, without dismounting and without words, to shoot him down like a partridge.
To my questions Vitvitskaia finally replied that the cause of her state was, as she expressed it, that ‘damned music’, and she asked me if I remembered the music of the night before last.
I did indeed remember how all of us, sitting in some corner of the monastery, had almost sobbed, listening to the monotonous music performed by the brethren during one of their ceremonies. And although we had talked about it afterwards for a long time, none of us could explain the reason for it.
After a little pause Vitvitskaia began to talk of her own accord, and what she said about the cause of her strange state took the form of a long story. I do not know whether it was because the scenery through which we were riding that morning was indescribably glorious or whether there was some other reason, but what she then told me with such sincerity, I still remember almost word for word even after all these years. Each of her words was so strongly imprinted on my brain that it seems to me I hear her at this moment.