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

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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.)
• "If, in former times, Governments were necessary to defend their people from other people's attacks, now, on the contrary, Governments artificially disturb the peace that exists between the nations, and provoke enmity among them." (From : "Patriotism and Government," by Leo Tolstoy, May 1....)
• "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....)
• "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 05

V.

Anna Fedorovna, while the count was in the library, went to her brother, and, for the very reason of her conviction that she ought to pretend to feel very little interest in the count, she began to question him.

"Who is this hussar that has been dancing with me? Tell me, brother."

The cavalryman explained, to the best of his ability, what a great man this hussar was, and in addition he told his sister that the count had stopped there simply because his money had been stolen on the route: he himself had loaned him a hundred rubles, but that was not enough. Couldn't his sister let him have two hundred more? Zavalshevsky asked her not to say any thing about this to any one, and, above all, not to the count.

Anna Fedorovna promised to send the money the next day, and to keep it a secret; but somehow or other, during the schottische, she had a terrible desire to offer the count as much money as he needed.

She deliberated, blushed, and at last, mastering her confusion, thus addressed herself to the task:—

"My brother told me, count, that you had met with a misfortune on the road, and hadn't any money. Now, if you need some, wouldn't you take some of me? I should be terribly glad."

But after she had thus spoken, Anna Fedorovna suddenly was overcome with fright, and blushed. All[221] the gaiety had instantly vanished from the count's face.

"Your brother is a fool!" said he in a cutting tone. "You know, when a man insults a man, then they fight a duel; but when a woman insults a man, then what do they do? Do you know?"

Poor Anna Fedorovna blushed to her ears with confusion. She dropped her eyes, and made no reply.

"They kiss the woman in public," said the count softly, bending over to whisper in her ear. "Permit me, however, to kiss your little hand," he added almost inaudibly, after a long silence, having some pity on his lady's confusion.

"Ah! only not quite yet," urged Anna Fedorovna, with a deep sigh.

"But when, then? To-morrow I am going away early.... But really, you owe it to me."

"Well, then, of course it is impossible," said Anna Fedorovna smiling.

"Only give me a chance to see you before to-morrow, so that I may kiss your hand. I will find one."

"How will you find one?"

"That is my affair. I can do any thing to see you.... Is it agreed?"

"Agreed."

The schottische came to an end; they danced through the mazurka, and in it the count did marvels, purloining handkerchiefs, bending on one knee, and clinking his spurs in an extraordinary manner, after the Warsaw style, so that all the old men came from their boston to look into the ballroom; and the cavalryman who was the best dancer confessed himself outdone. After they had eaten supper, they danced still the gross vater, and began to disperse.[222]

The count all this time did not take his eyes from the little widow. He had not been insincere when he declared his readiness to throw himself into a hole in the ice.

Whether it was caprice or love or stubbornness, but that evening all the strength of his mind had been concentrated into one desire,—to see and to love her.

As soon as he perceived that Anna Fedorovna was taking her farewell of the hostess, he hastened to the servants' quarters, and thence, without his shuba, to the place where the carriages were drawn up.

"Anna Fedorovna Zaïtsova's equipage," he cried.

A high four-seated carriage with lanterns moved out, and started to drive up to the doorstep.

"Stop!" shouted the count to the coachman, rushing up toward the carriage through snow that was knee-deep.

"What is wanted?" called the driver.

"I want to get into the carriage," replied the count, opening the door as the carriage moved, and trying to climb in.

"Stop, you devil! stupid! Vaska![66] stop!" cried the coachman to the postilion, and reining in the horses. "What are you getting into another person's carriage for? This belongs to the Lady Anna Fedorovna, and not to your grace."

"Hush up, blockhead! Na! there's a ruble for you; now come down and shut the door!" said the count.

But as the coachman did not move, he lifted the steps himself, and, shutting the window, managed to pull the door to.

[223]

In this, as in all ancient carriages, especially those upholstered in yellow galloon, there was an odor of mustiness and burnt bristles.

The count's legs were wet to the knees from melting snow, and almost freezing in his thin boots and trousers; and his whole body was penetrated by a cold like that of winter.

The coachman was grumbling on his box, and seemed to be getting ready to get down. But the count heard nothing and felt nothing. His face was aglow, his heart was beating violently. He convulsively clutched the yellow strap, thrust his head out of the side-window, and his whole being was concentrated in expectation.

He was not doomed to wait long. At the door-steps, they shouted, "Zaïtsova's carriage!" The coachman shook his reins, the carriage swung on its high springs; the lighted windows of the house passed one after another by the carriage-windows.

"See here, rogue, if you tell the lackey that I am here," said the count, thrusting his head through the front window, and addressing the coachman, "you'll feel my whip; but if you hold your tongue, I will give you ten rubles more."

He had scarcely time to close the window, when the carriage shook again still more violently, and then the wheels came to a stop.

He drew back as far as possible into the corner; he ceased to breathe; he even shut his eyes, so apprehensive was he, lest his passionate expectation should be disappointed.

The door was opened; one after the other, with a creak, the steps were let down; a woman's dress rustled, and the close atmosphere of the carriage was[224] impregnated by the odor of jasmine; a woman's dainty feet hurried up the steps, and Anna Fedorovna, brushing against the count's leg with the skirt of her cloak, which was loosely thrown about her, silently, and with a deep sigh, took her place on the cushioned seat next him.

Whether she saw him or not, no one could decide, not even Anna Fedorovna herself: but when he took her hand, and said, "Now I will kiss your little hand anyway," she evinced very little dismay. She said nothing, but let him take her hand, which he covered with kisses, not stopping at the glove.

The carriage rolled off.

"Tell me something. You are not angry?" said he to her.

She silently sank back into her corner, but suddenly, for some reason or other, burst into tears, and let her head fall on his breast.[225]

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

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

February 18, 2017 19:21:33 :
Part 05, Chapter 05 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

March 20, 2019 09:26:12 :
Part 05, Chapter 05 -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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