A Russian Proprietor, and Other Stories : Part 05, Chapter 11

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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.)
• "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....)
• "...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, ....)

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Part 05, Chapter 11

XI.

As soon as Anna Fedorovna learned that the officer of hussars was the son of Count Feódor Turbin, she was thrown into a great state of excitement.

"Oh! great heavens![83] he is my darling! Danílo! run, hurry, tell them the lady invites them to stay at her house," she cried, in great agitation, and hastening to the servants' room. "Lízanka! Ustiushka! You must have your room put in order, Liza. You can go into your uncle's room; and you, brother,—brother, you can sleep to-night in the parlor. It's for only one night."

"That's nothing, sister! I would sleep on the floor."

"He must be a handsome fellow, I think, if he's like his father. Only let me see him, the turtle-dove! You shall see for yourself, Liza. Ah! his father was handsome! Where shall we put the table? Let it go there," said Anna Fedorovna, running about here and there. "There now, bring in two beds; get one from the overseer, and get from the étagère the glass candlestick which my brother gave me for my birthday, and put in a wax candle."

At last all was ready. Liza, in spite of her mother's interference, arranged her room in her own way for the two officers.

She brought out clean linen sheets, fragrant of [259]mignonnette, and had the beds made; she ordered a carafe of water and candles near it on the little table. She burned scented paper in the girls' room, and moved her own little bed into her uncle's chamber.

Anna Fedorovna gradually became calm, and sat down again in her usual place; she even took out her cards; but instead of shuffling them, she leaned on her fat elbow, and gave herself up to her thoughts.

"How time has gone! how time has gone!" she exclaimed in a whisper. "It is long! long! isn't it? I seem to see him now! Akh! he was a scamp!"

And the tears came into her eyes. "Now here is Lízanka, but she isn't at all what I was at her age. She is a nice girl; but no, not quite....

"Lízanka, you had better wear your mousselin-de-laine dress this evening."

"But are you going to invite them down-stairs, mamasha? You had better not do it," rejoined Liza, with a feeling of invincible agitation at the thought of seeing the officers. "You had better not, mamasha!"

In point of fact, she did not so much desire to see them, as she felt apprehensive of some painful pleasure awaiting her, as it seemed to her.

"Perhaps they themselves would like to make our acquaintance, Lízotchka," said Anna Fedorovna, glancing at her daughter's hair, and at the same time thinking, "No, not such hair as I had at her age. No, Lízotchka, how much I could wish for you!" And she really wished something very excellent for her daughter, but she could scarcely look forward to a match with the count; she could not desire such a relationship as she herself had formed with his father; but that something good would come of it, she wished very, very much for her daughter. She possibly[260] had the desire to live over again in her daughter's happiness all the life which she lived with the late count.

The old cavalryman was also somewhat excited by the count's coming. He went to his room, and shut himself up in it. At the end of a quarter of an hour, he re-appeared dressed in a Hungarian coat and blue pantaloons; and with a troubled-happy expression of countenance, such as a girl wears when she puts on her first ball-dress, he started for the room assigned to the guests.

"We shall have a glimpse of some of the hussars of to-day, sister. The late count was indeed a genuine hussar. We shall see! we shall see!"

The officers had by this time come in by the back entrance, and were in the room that had been put at their service.

"There now," said the count, stretching himself out in his dusty boots on the bed which had just been made for him, "if we aren't better off here than we were there in that hovel with the cockroaches!"

"Better? of course; but think what obligations we are putting ourselves under to the people here."

"What rubbish! You must always be a practical man. They are mighty glad to have us, of course. Fellow!" cried the count, "ask some one to put a curtain up at this window, else there'll be a draft in the night."

At this moment the old man came in to make the acquaintance of the officers. Though he was somewhat confused, he did not fail to tell how he had been a comrade of the late count's, who had been very congenial to him, and he even went so far as to say that more than once he had been under obligations to the[261] late count. Whether he meant, in speaking of the obligations to the late count, a reference to the hundred rubles which the count had borrowed and never returned, or to his throwing him into the snow-drift, or to the slap in the face, the old man failed to explain.

However, the count was very urbane with the old cavalryman, and thanked him for his hospitality.

"You must excuse us if it is not very luxurious, count,"—he almost said "your excellency," as he had got out of the habit of meeting with men of rank. "My sister's house is rather small. As for the window here, we will find something to serve as a curtain right away, and it will be first-rate," added the little old man; and under the pretext of going for a curtain, but really because he wanted to give his report about the officers as quickly as possible, he left the room. The pretty little Ustiushka came, bringing her mistress's shawl to serve as a curtain. She was also commissioned to ask if the gentlemen would not like some tea.

The cheerful hospitality had had a manifestly beneficent influence upon the count's spirits. He laughed and jested with Ustiushka gaily, and went to such lengths that she even called him a bad man; he asked her if her mistress was pretty, and in reply to her question whether he would like some tea, replied that she might please bring him some, but above all, as his supper was not ready, he would like some vodka now, and a little lunch, and some sherry if there was any.

The old uncle was in raptures over the young count's politeness, and praised to the skies the young generation of officers, saying that the men of the present day were far preferable to those of the past.

Anna Fedorovna could not agree to that,—no one[262] could be any better than Count Feódor Ivánovitch,—and she was beginning to grow seriously angry, and remarked dryly, "For you, brother, the one who flatters you last is the best! Without any question, the men of our time are better educated, but still Feódor Ivánovitch could dance the schottische, and was so amiable that everybody in his day, you might say, was stupid compared to him! only he did not care for any one else beside me. Oh, certainly there were fine men in the old time!"

At this moment came the message requesting the vodka, the lunch, and the sherry.

"There now, just like you, brother! You never do things right. We ought to have had supper prepared.... Liza, attend to it, that's my darling."

Liza hastened to the storeroom for mushrooms and fresh cream butter, and told the cook to prepare beef cutlets.

"How much sherry is there? Haven't you any left, brother?"

"No, sister; I never have had any."

"What! no sherry? but what is it you drink in your tea?"

"That is rum, Anna Fedorovna."

"Isn't that the same thing? Give them some of that. It is all the same, it'll make no difference. Or would it not be better to invite them down here, brother? You know all about it. They would not be offended, I imagine, would they?"

The cavalryman assured her that he would answer for it that the count, in his goodness of heart, would not decline, and that he would certainly bring them.

Anna Fedorovna went off to put on, for some reason or other, her gros-grain dress and a new cap; but Liza[263] was so busy that she had no time to take off her pink gingham dress with wide sleeves. Moreover, she was terribly wrought up; it seemed to her that something astonishing, like a very low black cloud, was sweeping down upon her soul.

This count-hussar, this handsome fellow, seemed to her an absolutely novel and unexpected but beautiful creature. His character, his habits, his words, it seemed to her, must be something extraordinary, such as had never come into the range of her experience. All that he thought and said must be bright and true; all that he did must be honorable; his whole appearance must be beautiful. She could have no doubt of that. If he had demanded not merely a lunch and sherry, but even a bath in spirits of salvia, she would not have been surprised, she would not have blamed him, and she would have been convinced that this was just and reasonable.

The count immediately accepted when the cavalryman brought him his sister's invitation; he combed his hair, put on his coat, and took his cigar-case.

"Will you come?" he asked of Polózof.

"Indeed we had better not go," replied the cornet; "ils feront des frais pour nous recevoir."

"Rubbish! it will make them happy. Besides, I have been making inquiries ... there's a pretty daughter here.... Come along," said the count in French.

"Je vous en prie, messieurs," said the cavalryman, merely for the sake of giving them to understand that he also could speak French, and understood what the officers were saying.[264]

From : Gutenberg.org

Chronology

December 05, 1887 :
Part 05, Chapter 11 -- Publication.

February 18, 2017 19:24:18 :
Part 05, Chapter 11 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

March 19, 2019 14:47:50 :
Part 05, Chapter 11 -- Last Updated on http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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