A Russian Proprietor, and Other Stories : Part 05, Chapter 07

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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.)
• "There are people (we ourselves are such) who realize that our Government is very bad, and who struggle against it." (From : "A Letter to Russian Liberals," by Leo Tolstoy, Au....)
• "The Government and all those of the upper classes near the Government who live by other people's work, need some means of dominating the workers, and find this means in the control of the army. Defense against foreign enemies is only an excuse. The German Government frightens its subjects about the Russians and the French; the French Government, frightens its people about the Germans; the Russian Government frightens its people about the French and the Germans; and that is the way with all Governments. But neither Germans nor Russians nor Frenchmen desire to fight their neighbors or other people; but, living in peace, they dread war more than anything else in the world." (From : "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)
• "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....)

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Part 05, Chapter 07

VII.

"Have the horses put in!" cried the count, as he entered the sitting-room of the hotel with all his friends including the gypsies.

"Sashka,—not the gypsy Sashka, but mine,—tell the superintendent that if the horses are poor I will flog him. Now give us some tea. Zavalshevsky, make some tea; I am going to Ilyin's; I want to find how things have gone with him," added Turbin; and he went out into the corridor, and directed his steps to the uhlan's room.

Ilyin was just through playing, and, having lost all his money down to his last kopeck, had thrown himself face down on the worn-out haircloth sofa, and was picking the hairs out one by one, sticking them in his mouth, biting them into two, and spitting them out again.

Two tallow candles, one of which was already burnt down to the paper, stood on the card-cluttered omber-table, and mingled their feeble rays with the morning light which was beginning to shine through the window.

The uhlan's mind was vacant of all thought: that strange thick fog of the gambling-passion muffled all the capabilities of his mind so that there was not even room for regret.

Once he endeavored to think what was left for him to do, how he should get away without a kopeck, how he should pay back the fifteen thousand rubles of[232] public money that he had lost in gambling, what his colonel would say, what his mother would say, what his comrades would say; and such fear came over him, and such disgust at himself, that, in his anxiety to rid himself of the thought of it, he arose and began to walk up and down through the room, trying only to walk on the cracks of the floor; and then once more he began to recall all the least details of the evening.

He vividly imagined that he was winning the whole back again: he takes a nine, and lays down a king of spades on two thousand rubles; a queen lies at the right, at the left an ace, at the right a king of diamonds—and all was lost! but if he had had a six at the right and a king of diamonds at the left, then he would have won it all back, he would have staked all again on P, and would have won back his fifteen thousand rubles, then he would have bought a good pacer of the colonel, an extra pair of horses, and a phaëton. And what else besides? Ah! indeed it would have been a splendid, splendid thing!

Again he threw himself down on the sofa, and began to bite the hairs once more.

"Why are they singing songs in No. 7?" he wondered. "It must be, they are having a jollification in Turbin's room. I'm of a good mind to go there, and have a little drink."

Just at this moment the count came in.

"Well, have you been losing, brother, hey?" he cried.

"I will pretend to be asleep, otherwise I shall have to talk with him, and I really want to sleep now."

Nevertheless Turbin went up to him, and laid his hand caressingly on his head.... "Well, my dear little friend, have you been losing? have you had bad luck? Tell me."[233]

Ilyin made no reply.

The count took him by the arm.

"I have been losing. What is it to you?" muttered Ilyin, in a sleepy voice expressing indifference and vexation; he did not change his position.

"Every thing?"

"Well, yes. What harm is there in it? All! What is it to you?"

"Listen: tell me the truth, as to a comrade," said the count, who, under the influence of the wine that he had been drinking, was disposed to be tender, and continued to smooth the other's hair. "You know I have taken a fancy to you. Tell me the truth. If you have lost the public money, I will help you; if you don't, it will be too late.... Was it public money?"

Ilyin leaped up from the sofa.

"If you wish me to tell you, don't speak to me so, because ... and I beg of you don't speak to me.... I will blow my brains out—that's the only thing that's left for me now!" he exclaimed with genuine despair, letting his head sink into his hands, and bursting into tears, although but the moment before he had been calmly thinking about his horses.

"Ekh! you're a pretty young girl! Well, who might not have the same thing happen to him? It isn't as bad as it might be; perhaps we can straighten things out: wait for me here."

The count hastened from the room.

"Where is the pomyeshchik[69] Lukhnof's room?" he demanded of the hall-boy.

The hall-boy offered to show the count the way. The count in spite of the objections of the lackey, [234]who said that his master had only just come in and was preparing to retire, entered the room.

Lukhnof in his dressing-gown was sitting in front of a table, counting over a number of packages of bank-notes piled up before him. On the table was a bottle of Rheinwein, of which he was very fond. He had procured himself this pleasure from his winnings.

Coldly, sternly, Lukhnof looked at the count over his glasses, affecting not to recognize him.

"It seems that you do not know me," said the count, proceeding toward the table with resolute steps.

Lukhnof recognized the count, and asked,—

"What is your pleasure?"

"I wish to play with you," said Turbin, sitting down on the sofa.

"Now?"

"Yes."

"Another time I should be most happy, count; but now I am tired, and am getting ready to go to bed. Won't you have some wine? It is excellent wine."

"But I wish to play with you for a little while now."

"I am not prepared to play any more. Maybe some of the other guests will. I will not, count! I beg of you to excuse me."

"Then you will not?"

Lukhnof shrugged his shoulders as though to express his regret at not being able to fulfill the count's desires.

"Will you not play under any consideration?"

The same gesture.

"I am very desirous of playing with you.... Say, will you play, or not?"

Silence.

"Will you play?" asked the count a second time.[235]

The same silence, and a quick glance over his glasses at the count's face, which was beginning to grow sinister.

"Will you play?" cried the count in a loud voice, striking his hand on the table so violently that the bottle of Rheinwein toppled over and the wine ran out. "You have been cheating, have you not? Will you play? I ask you the third time."

"I have told you, no! This is truly strange, count, ... perfectly unjustifiable, to come this way, and put your knife at a man's throat," remarked Lukhnof, not lifting his eyes.

A brief silence followed, during which the count's face grew paler and paler. Suddenly Lukhnof received a terrible blow on the head, which stunned him. He fell back on the divan, trying to grasp the money, and screamed in a penetratingly despairing tone, such as was scarcely to be expected from him, he was always so calm and imposing in his deportment.

Turbin gathered up the remaining bank-notes that were lying on the table, pushed away the servant who had come to his master's assistance, and with quick steps left the room.

"If you wish satisfaction, I am at your service; I shall be in my room for half an hour yet,—No. 7," added the count, turning back as he reached the door.

"Villain! thief!" cried a voice from within the room.... "I will have satisfaction at law!"

Ilyin, who had not paid any heed to the count's promise to help him, was still lying on the sofa in his room, drowned in tears of despair.

The count's caresses and sympathy had awakened him to a consciousness of the reality, and now, amid the fog of strange thoughts and recollections which filled his mind, it made itself more and more felt.[236]

His youth, rich in hopes, honor, his social position, the dreams of love and friendship, were all destroyed forever. The fountain of his tears began to run dry, a too calm feeling of hopelessness took possession of him; and the thought of suicide, now bringing no sense of repulsion or terror, more and more frequently recurred to him.

At this moment the count's firm steps were heard.

On Turbin's face were still visible the last traces of his recent wrath, his hands trembled slightly; but in his eyes shone a kindly gaiety and self-satisfaction.

"There! It has been won back for you!" he cried, tossing upon the table several packages of bank-notes. "Count them; are they all there? Then come as soon as possible to the sitting-room; I am going off right away," he added, as though he did not perceive the tremendous revulsion of joy and gratefulness which rushed over the uhlan's face. Then, humming a gypsy song, he left the room.[237]

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

December 05, 1887 :
Part 05, Chapter 07 -- Publication.

February 18, 2017 19:22:28 :
Part 05, Chapter 07 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

March 19, 2019 14:48:05 :
Part 05, Chapter 07 -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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