Ada or Ardor: A Family Chronicle
Part 1, Chapter 25 (annotations forthcoming)

On a sunny September morning, with the trees still green, but
the asters and fleabanes already taking over in ditch and dalk,
Van set out for Ladoga, N.A., to spend a fortnight there with
his father and three tutors before returning to school in cold
156.05 Luga, Mayne.
Van kissed Lucette on each dimple and then on the neck—
and winked to prim Larivière who looked at Marina.
It was time to go. They saw him off: Marina in her shlafrok,
Lucette petting (substitutionally) Dack, Mlle Larivière who
156.10 did not know yet that Van had left behind an inscribed book
she had given him on the eve, and a score of copiously tipped
servants (among whom we noticed kitchen Kim with his
camera)practically the entire household, except Blanche who
had the headache, and dutiful Ada who had asked to be ex-
156.15 cused, having promised to visit an infirm villager (she had a
heart of gold, that child, really—as Marina so willingly, so
wisely used to observe).
Van's black trunk and black suitcase, and black king-size
dumbbells, were heaved into the back of the family motorcar;
156.20 Bouteillan put on a captain's cap, too big for him, and grape-

[ 156 ]

blue goggles; "remouvez votre bottom, I will drive," said Van—
and the summer of 1884 was over.
"She rolls sweetly, sir," remarked Bouteillan in his quaint old-
fashioned English. "Tous les pneus sont neufs, but, alas, there
157.05 are many stones on the way, and youth drives fast. Monsieur
should be prudent. The winds of the wilderness are indiscreet.
Tel un lis sauvage confiant au désert—"
"Quite the old comedy retainer, aren't you?" remarked Van
157.10 "Non, Monsieur," answered Bouteillan, holding on to his
cap. "Non. Tout simplement j'aime bien Monsieur et sa de-
"If," said Van, "you're thinking of little Blanche, then you'd
better quote Delille not to me, but to your son, who'll knock
157.15 her up any day now."
The old Frenchman glanced at Van askance, pozheval gu-
bami (chewed his lips), but said nothing.
"One will stop here for a few minutes," said Van, as they
reached Forest Fork, just beyond Ardis. "I intend to pick some
157.20 boletes for Father to whom I shall certainly (Bouteillan having
sketched a courteous gesture) transmit your salute. This hand-
brake must have been—damn it—in use before Louis the Six-
teenth migrated to England."
"It needs to be greased," said Bouteillan and consulted his
157.25 watch; "yes, we have ample time to catch the 9:04."
Van plunged into the dense undergrowth. He wore a silk
shirt, a velvet jacket, black breeches, riding boots with star spurs
—and this attire was hardly convenient for making klv zdB
AoyvBno wkh gwzxm dqg kzwAAqvo a gwttp vq wjfhm Ada
157.30 in a natural bower of aspens; xliC mujzikml, after which she
"Yes—so as not to forget. Here's the formula for our cor-
respondence. Learn this by heart and then eat it up like a good
little spy."

[ 157 ]

"Poste restante both ways; and I want at least three letters a
week, my white love."
It was the first time he had seen her in that luminous frock
nearly as flimsy as a nightgown. She had braided her hair, and
158.05 he said she resembled the young soprano Maria Kuznetsova in
the letter scene in Tschchaikow's opera Onegin and Olga.
Ada, doing her feminine best to restrain and divert her sobs
by transforming them into emotional exclamations, pointed out
some accursed insect that had settled on an aspen trunk.
158.10 (Accursed? Accursed? It was the newly described, fantas-
tically rare vanessian, Nymphalis danaus Nab., orange-brown,
with black-and-white foretips, mimicking, as its discoverer Pro-
fessor Nabonidus of Babylon College, Nebraska, realized, not
the Monarch butterfly directly, but the Monarch through the
158.15 Viceroy, one of the Monarch's best known imitators. In Ada's
angry hand.)
"Tomorrow you'll come here with your green net," said
Van bitterly, "my butterfly."
She kissed him all over the face, she kissed his hands, then
158.20 again his lips, his eyelids, his soft black hair. He kissed her
ankles, her knees, her soft black hair.
"When, my love, when again? In Luga? Kaluga? Ladoga?
Where, when?"
"That's not the point," cried Van, "the point, the point, the
158.25 point is—will you be faithful, will you be faithful to me?"
"You spit, love," said wan-smiling Ada, wiping off the P's
and the F's. "I don't know. I adore you. I shall never love any-
body in my life as I adore you, never and nowhere, neither in
eternity, nor in terrenity, neither in Ladore, nor on Terra,
158.30 where they say our souls go. But! But, my love, my Van, I'm
physical, horribly physical, I don't know, I'm frank, qu'y
puis-je? Oh dear, don't ask me, there's a girl in my school who
is in love with me, I don't know what I'm saying—"
"The girls don't matter," said Van, "it's the fellows I'll kill

[ 158 ]

if they come near you. Last night I tried to make a poem about
it for you, but I can't write verse; it begins, it only begins:
Ada, our ardors and arbors—but the rest is all fog, try to fancy
the rest."
159.05 They embraced one last time, and without looking back he
Stumbling on melons, fiercely beheading the tall arrogant
fennels with his riding crop, Van returned to the Forest Fork.
Morio, his favorite black horse, stood waiting for him, held by
159.10 young Moore. He thanked the groom with a handful of stellas
and galloped off, his gloves wet with tears.

[ 159 ]

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