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As Bazarov and Arkady approach Madame Odintsov's hotel, Bazarov says, "Let us see to what species of mammal this specimen belongs" (15.1).
Arkady misunderstands him, thinking that he is insulting Madame Odintsov. The truth is that he's quite intrigued.
When a servant lets them in to her apartment, Arkady is surprised to see that Bazarov is nervous, whereas Odintsov is just as self-possessed as she was the day before. Bazarov thinks to himself "What an idea – frightened of a petticoat!" (15.4).
Anna Sergeyevna Odintsov (Madame Odintsov's full name) is the daughter of Sergei Nikolayevich Loktev. He was a formidable society figure in Petersburg and Moscow, renowned for his good looks.
However, he ruined himself at cards and had to retire to the country, where he died, leaving Anna and her sister Katya only a small inheritance. Their mother had already died.
Anna was in a difficult position. Her university education had not prepared her to run an estate in the country and she knew no one in town.
She promptly wrote to her aunt, Princess Avdotya Stepanovna X., who came and lived with her nieces, though she was a spiteful and arrogant old lady.
Anna dealt with the situation well and looked after her sister's education. She was about to resign herself to a life in the country when she met "a certain Odintsov, a very wealthy man of about forty-six, an eccentric hypochondriac, bloated, ponderous and sour but neither stupid nor ill-natured" (15.5).
After six years, Odintsov died and left her and Katya his entire fortune. They went abroad to Germany for a while, but grew homesick and returned to Nikolskoye, a small village outside the town Arkady and Bazarov are visiting.
There had been a public outcry when she married Odintsov, and everyone in town gossiped about her, saying that she helped her father with his gambling and that she had to go abroad to avoid a scandal.
Though Anna heard all this gossip "she turned a deaf ear: she had an independent and pretty determined character" (15.5).
Back in the present, Madame Odintsov sits back and listens to Bazarov. Arkady is surprised to hear how much Bazarov is speaking. He is nervous and is trying to make an impression on Odintsov, which flatters her.
Bazarov avoids talking about his extreme views and instead discusses medicine, homeopathy, and botany.
Madame Odintsov turns the conversation to music, but quickly realizes that Bazarov has no interest in art. They talk freely for three hours, and through it all she continues to treat Arkady "like a younger brother: she seemed to value his good nature and youthful simplicity – and that was all" (15.6).
When the conversation ends, Odintsov invites them to her place at Nikolskoye. Arkady gratefully accepts, and is surprised to see that as Bazarov bows in agreement, he is blushing.
Outside, Bazarov tries to act tough. He says, "look what an icicle she has made of herself," but then goes on "What a magnificent body! Shouldn't I like to see it on the dissecting-table!" (15.13, 18).
Arkady doesn't like it when he seems to speak ill of her and is very impressed with everything about Madame Odintsov.
Bazarov says that they must not procrastinate, and, three days later, they are in a carriage to Nikolskoye.
As they ride, Bazarov mentions that it is his name day, and he says, "We'll see how my patron saint will watch over me" (15.24).
He notes that his family expects him home today, but he says that they can wait.