A Russian Proprietor, and Other Stories : Part 05, Chapter 10
(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....)
• "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....)
• "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....)
Part 05, Chapter 10
It was still rather warm, though the sun was already set, when the battalion arrived at Morozovka. In front of them, along the dusty village street, trotted a brindled cow, separated from the herd, bellowing, and occasionally stopping to look round, and never once perceiving that all she had to do was to turn out and let the battalion pass.
Peasants, old men, women, children, and domestic serfs, crowding both sides of the road, gazed curiously at the hussars.
Through a thick cloud of dust the hussars rode along on raven-black horses, curveting and occasionally snorting.
At the right of the battalion, gracefully mounted on beautiful black steeds, rode two officers. One was the commander, Count Turbin; the other a very young man, who had recently been promoted from the yunkers; his name was Polózof.
A hussar, in a white kittel, came from the best of the cottages, and, taking off his cap, approached the officers.
"What quarters have been assigned to us?" asked the count.
"For your excellency?" replied the quartermaster, his whole body shuddering. "Here at the stárosta's; he has put his cottage in order. I tried to get a room at the mansion, but they said no; the proprietress is so ill-tempered."
"Well, all right," said the count, dismounting and stretching his legs as he reached the stárosta's cottage. "Tell me, has my carriage come?"
"It has deigned to arrive, your excellency," replied the quartermaster, indicating with his cap the leathern carriage-top which was to be seen inside the gate, and then hastening ahead into the entry of the cottage, which was crowded with the family of serfs, gathered to have a look at the officer.
He even tripped over an old woman, as he hastily opened the door of the neatly cleaned cottage, and stood aside to let the count pass.
The cottage was large and commodious, but not perfectly clean. The German body-servant, dressed like a bárin, was standing in the cottage, and, having just finished setting up the iron bed, was taking out clean linen from a trunk.
"Phu! what a nasty lodging!" exclaimed the count in vexation. "Diádenko! Is it impossible to find me better quarters at the proprietor's or somewhere?"
"If your excellency command, I will go up to the mansion," replied Diádenko; "but the house is small and wretched, and seems not much better than the cottage."
"Well, that's all now. You can go."
And the count threw himself down on the bed, supporting his head with his hands.
"Johann!" he cried to his body-servant; "again you have made a hump in the middle. Why can't you learn to make a bed decently?"
Johann was anxious to make it over again.
"No, you need not trouble about it now!... Where's my dressing-gown?" he proceeded to ask in a petulant voice. The servant gave him the dressing-gown.
The count, before he put it on, examined the skirt. "There it is! You have not taken that spot out! Could it be possible for any one to be a worse servant than you are?" he added, snatching the garment from the servant's hands, and putting it on. "Now tell me, do you do this way on purpose? Is tea ready?"
"I haven't had time to make it," replied Johann.
After this, the count took a French novel which was at hand, and read for some time without speaking; but Johann went out into the entry to blow up the coals in the samovár.
It was plain to see that the count was in a bad humor; it must have been owing to weariness, to the dust on his face, to his tightly-fitting clothes, and to his empty stomach. "Johann!" he cried again, "give me an account of those ten rubles. What did you get in town?"
The count looked over the account which the servant handed him, and made some dissatisfied remarks about the high prices paid.
"Give me the rum for the tea."
"I did not get any rum," said Johann.
"Delightful! How many times have I told you always to have rum?"
"I didn't have money enough."
"Why didn't Polózof buy it? You might have got some from his man."
"The cornet Polózof? I do not know. He bought tea and sugar."
"Beast! Get you gone. You are the only man who has the power to exhaust my patience! You know that I always take rum in my tea when I am on the march."
"Here are two letters one of the staff brought for you," said the body-servant.
The count, as he lay on the bed, tore open the letters, and began to read them. At this moment the cornet came in with gay countenance, having quartered the battalion.
"Well, how is it, Turbin? It's first-rate here, seems to me. I am tired out, I confess it. It has been a warm day."
"First-rate! I should think so! A dirty, stinking hut! and no rum, thanks to you. Your stupid did not buy any, nor this one either. You might have said something anyway!"
And he went on with his reading. After he had read the letter through, he crumpled it up, and threw it on the floor.
"Why didn't you buy some rum?" the cornet in a whisper demanded of his servant in the entry. "Didn't you have any money?"
"Well, why should we be always the ones to spend the money? I have enough to spend for without that, and his German does nothing but smoke his pipe,—that's all."
The second letter was evidently not disagreeable, because the count smiled as he read it.
"Who's that from?" asked Polózof, returning to the room, and trying to arrange for himself a couch on the floor, near the oven.
"From Mina," replied the count gaily, handing him the letter. "Would you like to read it? What a lovely woman she is! Now, she's better than our young ladies, that's a fact. Just see what feeling and what wit in that letter! There's only one thing that I don't like,—she asks me for money!"
"No, that's not pleasant," replied the cornet.
"Well it's true I promised to give her some; but this expedition—And besides, if I am commander of the battalion, at the end of three months I will send some to her. I should not regret it; she's really a lovely woman. Isn't she?" he asked with a smile, following with his eyes Polózof's expression as he read the letter.
"Horribly misspelled, but sweet; it seems to me she really loves you," replied the cornet.
"Hmm! I should think so! Only these women truly love when they do love."
"But who was that other letter from?" asked the cornet, pointing to the one which he had read.
"That? Oh, that's from a certain man, very ugly, to whom I owe a gambling debt, and this is the third time that he has reminded me of it. I can't pay it to him now. It's a stupid letter," replied the count, evidently nettled by the recollection of it.
The two officers remained silent for some little time. The cornet, who, it seemed, had come under Turbin's influence, drank his tea without speaking, though he occasionally cast a glance at the clouded face of the handsome count, who gazed steadily out of the window. He did not venture to renew the conversation.
"Well, then, I think it can be accomplished without difficulty," suddenly exclaimed the count, turning to Polózof, and gaily nodding his head. "If we who are in the line get promoted this year, yes, and if we take part in some engagement, then I can overtake my former captains of the guard."
They were drinking their second cup of tea, and the conversation was still dwelling on this theme, when the old Danílo came with the message from Anna Fedorovna.
"And she would also like to know whether you are not pleased to be the son of Feódor Ivánovitch Turbin," he added, on his own responsibility, as he had found out the officer's name, and still remembered the late count's visit to the city of K. "Our mistress, Anna Fedorovna, used to be very well acquainted with him."
"He was my father. Now tell the lady that I am very much obliged, but that I need nothing; only, if it would not be possible to give me a cleaner room in the mansion, say, or somewhere."
"Now, why did you do that?" asked Polózof after Danílo had gone. "Isn't it just the same thing? For one night isn't it just as well here? And it will put them to inconvenience."
"There it is again! It seems to me we have had enough of being sent round among these smoky hovels. It's easy enough to see that you are not a practical man. Why shouldn't we seize the opportunity, when we can, of sleeping, even if it's for only one night, like decent men? And they, contrary to what you think, will be mighty glad. There's only one thing objectionable. If this lady used to know my father," continued the count, with a smile that discovered his white gleaming teeth,—"somehow I always feel a little ashamed of my late papasha; there's always some scandalous story, or some debt or other. And so I can't endure to meet any of my father's acquaintances. However, that was an entirely different age," he added seriously.
"Oh! I did not tell you," rejoined Polózof. "I recently met Ilyin, the brigade commander of uhlans. He is very anxious to see you; he is passionately fond of your father."
"I think that he is terrible trash, that Ilyin. But the worst is that all these gentlemen who imagine that they knew my father in order to make friends with me, insist upon telling me, as though it were very pleasant for me to hear, about escapades of his that make me blush. It is true I am not impulsive, and I look upon things dispassionately; while he was too hot-spirited a man, and sometimes he played exceedingly reprehensible tricks. However, that was all due to his time. In our day and generation, maybe, he would have been a very sensible man, for he had tremendous abilities; one must give him credit for that."
In a quarter of an hour the servant returned, and brought an invitation for them to come and spend the night at the mansion.
From : Gutenberg.org
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