A Russian Proprietor, and Other Stories : Part 05, Chapter 06

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1887

People

(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.)
• "Only by recognizing the land as just such an article of common possession as the sun and air will you be able, without bias and justly, to establish the ownership of land among all men, according to any of the existing projects or according to some new project composed or chosen by you in common." (From : "To the Working People," by Leo Tolstoy, Yasnaya P....)
• "...for no social system can be durable or stable, under which the majority does not enjoy equal rights but is kept in a servile position, and is bound by exceptional laws. Only when the laboring majority have the same rights as other citizens, and are freed from shameful disabilities, is a firm order of society possible." (From : "To the Czar and His Assistants," by Leo Tolstoy, ....)
• "...the dissemination of the truth in a society based on coercion was always hindered in one and the same manner, namely, those in power, feeling that the recognition of this truth would undermine their position, consciously or sometimes unconsciously perverted it by explanations and additions quite foreign to it, and also opposed it by open violence." (From : "A Letter to a Hindu: The Subjection of India- Its....)

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Part 05, Chapter 06

VI.

The newly elected isprávnik, with his company, the cavalryman, and other members of the nobility, had already been listening for some time to the gypsies, and drinking at the new tavern, when the count, in a blue-lined bear-skin shuba which had belonged to Anna Fedorovna's late husband, joined them.

"Little father, your excellency! we have almost given up expecting you," said a squint-eyed black gypsy with brilliant teeth, who met him in the entry and divested him of his shuba. "We haven't met since we were at Lebedyan.... Stioshka has pined away on account of you."

Stioshka, a slender young gypsy-girl[67] with a cherry red bloom on her cinnamon-colored cheeks, with brilliant deep black eyes, shaded by long eyelashes, also hurried to meet him.

"Ah! dear little count![68] my sweetheart! This is a pleasure," she exclaimed through her teeth, with a joyous smile.

Ilyushka himself came to greet Turbin, pretending that he was very glad to see him. The old women, the wives, the young girls, hastened to the spot and surrounded the guest.

One would have said that he was a relative or a god-brother to them.

Turbin kissed all the young gypsy girls on the lips; [226]the old women and the men kissed him on the shoulder or on the hand.

The gentlemen were also very glad of the count's arrival; the more because the festivity, having passed its apogee, was now becoming tame; every one began to feel a sense of satiety. The wine, having lost its exhilarating effect on the nerves, only served to load the stomach. Everybody had discharged the last cannon of his wildness, and was looking around moodily. All the songs had been sung, and ran in the heads of each, leaving a mere impression of noise and confusion.

Whatever any one did that was strange and wild, the rest began to look upon it as nothing very entertaining or amusing.

The isprávnik stretched out on the floor in shameless fashion at the feet of some old woman, kicked his leg in the air, and began to cry,—

"Champagne!... The count has come!... Champagne!... He has come!... Now give us champagne!... I will make a bath of champagne, and swim in it! Gentlemen of the nobility, I love your admirable society!... Stioshka, sing 'The Narrow Road.'"

The cavalryman was also very gay, but in a different fashion. He was sitting in a corner of a sofa with a tall, handsome gypsy, Liubasha; and with the consciousness that intoxication was beginning to cloud his eyes, he kept blinking them, and swinging his head, and repeating the same words over and over again: he was proposing in a whisper to the gypsy to fly with him somewhere.

Liubasha, smiling, listened to him as though what he said were very amusing to her, and at the same[227] time rather melancholy. Occasionally she cast her glances at her husband, the squint-eyed Sashka, who was standing behind a chair near her. In reply to the cavalryman's declaration of love, she bent over to his ear, and begged him to buy her some perfume and a ribbon without any one knowing it, so that the others should not see it.

"Hurrah!" cried the cavalryman when the count came in.

The handsome young man, with an expression of anxiety, was walking up and down the room with solicitously steady steps, and humming an air from the "Revolt in the Seraglio."

An old paterfamilias, dragged out to see the gypsies through the irresistible entreaties of the gentlemen of the nobility, who had told him that if he staid away every thing would go to pieces, and in that case they had better not go, was lying on a sofa where he had stretched himself out immediately on his arrival; and no one paid any attention to him.

A chinovnik, who had been there before, had taken off his coat, was sitting with his legs on the table, and was rumpling up his hair, and thus proving that he understood how to be dissipated.

As soon as the count came in, the official unbuttoned his shirt-collar, and lifted his legs still higher. The count's arrival generally gave new life to the festivities.

The gypsy girls, who had been scattered about the room, again formed their circle. The count seated Stioshka, the soloist, on his knee, and ordered more champagne to be brought. Ilyushka, with his guitar, stood in front of the soloist, and began the plyaska, that is, the gypsy song and dance, "When I walk upon[228] the Street," "Hey! you Hussars," "Do you hear, do you understand?" and others of the usual order.

Stioshka sang splendidly. Her flexible, sonorous contralto, with its deep chest notes, her smiles while she was singing, her mischievous, passionate eyes, and her little foot which involuntarily kept time to the measure of the song, her despairing wail at the end of each couplet,—this all touched some resonant but tender chord. It was evident that she lived only in the song that she was singing.

Ilyushka, in his smile, his back, his legs, his whole being, carrying out in pantomime the idea expressed in the song, accompanied it on his guitar, and, fixing his eyes upon her as though he were hearing her for the first time, attentively and carefully lifted and drooped his head with the rhythm of the song.

Then he suddenly straightened himself up as the singer sang the last note, and, as though he felt himself superior to every one else in the world, with proud deliberation kicked the guitar, turned it over, stamped his foot, tossed back his locks, and looked at the chorus with a frown.

All his body, from his neck to his toes, began to dance in every sinew.

And twenty powerful, energetic voices, each trying to outdo the other in making strange and extraordinary noises, were lifted in union.

The old women sprang down from their chairs, waving their handkerchiefs, and showing their teeth, and crying in rhythmic measure, each louder than the other. The bassos, leaning their heads on one side, and swelling their necks, bellowed from behind their chairs.

When Stioshka emitted her high notes, Ilyushka brought his guitar nearer to her as though trying to[229] aid her; and the handsome young man, in his enthusiasm, cried out that now they struck B-flat.

When they came to the national dance, the Plyasovaya, and Duniasha, with shoulders and bosom shaking, stepped in front of the count, and was passing on, Turbin leaped from his place, took off his uniform, and, remaining only in his red shirt, boldly joined her, keeping up the same measure, and cutting with his feet such antics, that the gypsies laughed and exchanged glances of approval.

The isprávnik, who was sitting Turkish fashion, pounded his chest with his fist, and cried "Vivat!" and then, seizing the count by the leg, began to tell him that out of two thousand rubles, he had only five hundred left and that he might do whatever he pleased, if only the count would permit him.

The old paterfamilias woke up, and wanted to go home, but they would not let him. The handsome young man asked a gypsy girl to waltz with him. The cavalryman, anxious to exalt himself by his friendship with the count, got up from his corner, and embraced Turbin. "Ah, my turtle-dove!" he cried. "Why must you leave us so soon? ha?" The count said nothing, being evidently absorbed in thought. "Where did you go? Ah, you rascal, I know where you went!"

This familiarity somehow displeased the Count Turbin. Without smiling, he looked in silence into the cavalryman's face, and suddenly gave him such a terrible and grievous affront that the cavalryman was mortified, and for some time did not know what to make of such an insult, whether it were a joke or not a joke. At last he made up his mind that it was a joke; he smiled, and returned to his gypsy, assuring her that he would really marry her after Easter.[230]

Another song was sung, a third, they danced again; the round of gaiety was kept up, and every one continued to feel gay. There was no end to the champagne.

The count drank a great deal. His eyes seemed to grow rather moist, but he did not grow dizzy; he danced still better than the rest, spoke without any thickness, and even joined in a chorus, and supported Stioshka when she sang "The sweet emotion of friendship."

In the midst of the dance and song the merchant, who kept the hotel, came to beg the guests to go home, as it was three o'clock in the morning.

The count took the landlord by the throat, and ordered him to dance the prisiadka. The merchant refused. The count snatched a bottle of champagne, and standing the merchant on his head ordered him to stay so, and then amid general hilarity poured the whole bottle over him.

The dawn was already breaking. All were pale and weary except the count.

"At all events, I must go to Moscow," said he, suddenly rising. "Come with me, all of you, to my room, children.... See me off, and let us have some tea."

All accompanied him with the exception of the sleeping proprietor, who still remained there; they piled into three sledges that were waiting at the door, and drove off to the hotel.[231]

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

December 05, 1887 :
Part 05, Chapter 06 -- Publication.

February 18, 2017 19:22:02 :
Part 05, Chapter 06 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

March 20, 2019 08:14:36 :
Part 05, Chapter 06 -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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