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Nikolai goes wandering in the garden, depressed by the distance he observes between his son and himself.
He agrees with Pavel that the old men are more in the right than the boys, but he thinks that perhaps the youth have something on them too. He thinks it may have something to do with how little exposure the young had to the serf-owning mentality.
What he really can't understand is how they can have no feeling for art or nature.
Nikolai looks out on the evening: the setting sun and the aspen trees, a peasant riding a white pony, and a clump of bees. He resigned himself to "the mournful consolation of solitary thought" (11.5).
He thinks back to when his wife was a young girl. They first met on the stairs and he muttered "Pardon, Monsieur" and she blushed (11.5).
He wonders "Why could not one live those first sweet moments deathlessly for ever?" (11.5).
Just then Fenichka appears, calling his name. He is disappointed that she interrupted his fantasy of his wife, and he thinks, "Her voice was an immediate reminder of his grey hairs, his age, his life now..." (11.8).
Nikolai, like a typical serf-owner, dismisses her. He plans to follow her into the house, but walks into the garden for a bit first to work off his restless energy. He sheds a few tears and is embarrassed.
Nikolai bumps into Pavel in the garden. He briefly tells him why he is upset and then walks away. Pavel grows thoughtful and looks up at the sky, but he is "not capable of reverie" (11.14).
Bazarov tells Arkady that they should go to visit Nikolai's rich relative, even if Nikolai doesn't want to go. He says after that he will have to visit his parents, who he has not seen in a long time, but he thinks that he will not stay long because it will be dull.
Arkady is delighted at the suggestion, but hides his emotions because "he was not a nihilist for nothing" (11.23).
The younger servants are sad when the two of them leave, but Nikolai and Pavel are greatly relieved.