A Russian Proprietor, and Other Stories : Part 05, Chapter 03

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1887

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(1828 - 1910) ~ Father of Christian Anarchism : In 1861, during the second of his European tours, Tolstoy met with Proudhon, with whom he exchanged ideas. Inspired by the encounter, Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana to found thirteen schools that were the first attempt to implement a practical model of libertarian education. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "You are surprised that soldiers are taught that it is right to kill people in certain cases and in war, while in the books admitted to be holy by those who so teach, there is nothing like such a permission..." (From : "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)
• "It usually happens that when an idea which has been useful and even necessary in the past becomes superfluous, that idea, after a more or less prolonged struggle, yields its place to a new idea which was till then an ideal, but which thus becomes a present idea." (From : "Patriotism and Government," by Leo Tolstoy, May 1....)
• "People who take part in Government, or work under its direction, may deceive themselves or their sympathizers by making a show of struggling; but those against whom they struggle (the Government) know quite well, by the strength of the resistance experienced, that these people are not really pulling, but are only pretending to." (From : "A Letter to Russian Liberals," by Leo Tolstoy, Au....)

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Part 05, Chapter 03

III.

Lukhnof took two candles, brought out a huge dark-colored pocket-book full of money; slowly, as though performing some sacrament, opened it on the table; took out two one-hundred-ruble notes, and laid them on the cards.

"There, just the same as last evening; the bank begins with two hundred," said he, adjusting his glasses, and opening a pack of cards.

"Very well," said Ilyin, not glancing at him, or interrupting his conversation with Turbin.

The game began. Lukhnof kept the bank with mechanical regularity, occasionally pausing, and deliberately making notes, or looking sternly over his glasses, and saying in a weak voice, "Throw."

The stout proprietor talked louder than the rest, making various calculations at the top of his voice, while he wet his clumsy fingers and dog-eared his cards.

The garrison officer silently wrote in a fine hand his account on a card, turned down small corners, pressing them against the table.

The Greek sat next the banker, attentively following the game with his deep black eyes, as though waiting for something.

Zavalshevsky, as he stood by the table, would suddenly become all of a tremble, draw from his trousers-pocket a blue note or a red,[63] lay a card on it, pound on [207]it with his palm, and say, "Bring me luck, little seven!" then he would bite his mustache, change from one leg to the other, and be in a continual state of excitement until the card came out.

Ilyin, who had been eating veal and cucumbers placed near him on the haircloth sofa, briskly wiped his hands on his coat, and began to put down one card after another.

Turbin, who had taken his seat at first on the sofa, immediately noticed that something was wrong. Lukhnof did not look at the uhlan, or say any thing to him; but occasionally his eyes for an instant rested on the uhlan's hands. The most of his cards lost.

"If I could only trump that little card," exclaimed Lukhnof in reference to one of the stout proprietor's cards. He was still making half-ruble wagers.

"Trump Ilyin's instead: what would be the use of trumping mine?" replied the proprietor.

And, in point of fact, Ilyin's cards were trumped oftener than the others'. He nervously tore up his losing card under the table, and with trembling hands chose another.

Turbin arose from the sofa, and asked the Greek to give him his place next the banker. The Greek changed places; and the count, taking his chair, and not moving his eyes, began to watch Lukhnof's hands attentively.

"Ilyin," said he suddenly in his ordinary voice, which, entirely contrary to his desire, drowned out the others, "why do you stick to those routine cards? You don't know how to play!"

"Supposing I don't, it's all the same."

"You'll lose that way surely. Let me play against the bank for you."[208]

"No, excuse me, I beg of you. I'm always this way. Play for yourself if you like."

"I have told you that I am not going to play. But I should like to play for you. I hate to see you losing so."

"Ah, well! you see it's my luck."

The count said nothing more, and leaning on his elbow began once more to watch the banker's hand just as attentively as before.

"Shameful!" he suddenly cried in a loud voice, dwelling on the word.

Lukhnof glared at him.

"Shameful, shameful!" he repeated still louder, staring straight into Lukhnof's eyes.

The game continued.

"That is not right!" said Turbin again, as Lukhnof trumped one of Ilyin's high cards.

"What displeases you, count?" politely asked the banker with an air of indifference.

"Because you give Ilyin a simplum, and turn down your corners. That's what is shameful!"

Lukhnof made a slight motion with his shoulders and brows, signifying that he was resigned to any fate, and then he went on with the game.

"Blücher, fiu!" cried the count, rising; "over with him!" he added quickly. Blücher, bumping against the sofa with his back, and almost knocking the garrison officer from his feet, came leaping toward his master, looking at every one and wagging his tail as though he would ask, "Who is misbehaving here, hey?"

Lukhnof laid down the cards, and moved his chair away. "This is no way to play," said he. "I detest dogs. What kind of a game can you have if a whole pack of hounds is to be brought in?"[209]

"Especially that kind of dog: they are called blood-suckers, if I am not mistaken," suggested the garrison officer.

"Well, are we to play or not, Mikháïlo Vasílyitch?" asked Lukhnof, addressing the uhlan.

"Don't bother us, count, I beg of you," said Ilyin, turning to Turbin.

"Come here for a moment," said Turbin, taking Ilyin's arm, and drawing him into the next room.

There the count's words were perfectly audible, though he spoke in his ordinary tone. But his voice was so powerful that it could always be heard three rooms off.

"Are you beside yourself? Don't you see that that man with the glasses is a cheat of the worst order?"

"Hey? Nonsense! Be careful what you say."

"No nonsense! but quit it, I tell you. It makes no difference to me. Another time I myself would have plucked you; but now I am sorry to see you ruining yourself. Have you any public money left?"

"No. What makes you think so about him?"

"Brother, I have been over this same road, and I know the ways of these professional gamblers. I tell you that the man in the glasses is a cheat. Quit, please. I ask you as a comrade."

"All right; I'll have just one more hand, and then have done with it."

"I know what that 'one more' means: very well, we will see."

They returned to the gaming-table. In one deal he laid down so many cards, and they were trumped so badly, that he lost a large amount.

Turbin rested his hand in the middle of the table, and said, "That's enough! now let us be going."[210]

"No, I can't go yet; leave me, please," said Ilyin in vexation, shuffling the bent cards and not looking at Turbin.

"All right! the Devil be with you! Lose all you've got, if that please you; but it's time for me to be going.—Come, Zavalshevsky, let us go to the marshal's."

And they went out. No one spoke, and Lukhnof did not make the bank until the noise of their feet and of Blücher's paws had died away down the corridor.

"That's a madcap," said the proprietor, smiling.

"Well, now he won't bother us any more," said the garrison officer in a hurried whisper.

And the game went on.[211]

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

December 05, 1887 :
Part 05, Chapter 03 -- Publication.

February 18, 2017 19:20:39 :
Part 05, Chapter 03 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

March 19, 2019 14:48:37 :
Part 05, Chapter 03 -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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