A Russian Proprietor, and Other Stories : Part 05, Chapter 15
(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.)
• "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....)
• "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....)
• "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....)
Part 05, Chapter 15
It was indeed the count. When he heard the maiden's cry, and the cough of the watchman who was coming from the other side of the fence in reply to the shriek, he had the sensation of being a thief caught in the act, and started to run across the dew-drenched grass, so as to hide in the depths of the garden.
"Oh, what a fool I was!" he said instinctively. "I frightened her. I ought to have been more gentle, to have wakened her by gentle words. Oh! I am a beast, a blundering beast."
He paused and listened. The watchman had come through the wicket-gate into the garden, dragging his cane along the sanded walk.
He must hide. He went toward the pond. The frogs made him tremble as they hastily sprang from under his very feet into the water. There, notwithstanding his wet feet, he crouched down on his heels, and, began to recall all he had done,—how he had crept through the hedge, found her window, and at last caught a glimpse of a white shadow; how several times, while on the watch for the least noise, he had hastened away from the window; how at one moment it seemed to him that doubtless she was waiting for him with vexation in her heart that he was so dilatory, and the next how impossible it seemed that she would make an appointment with him so easily; and how, finally coming to the conclusion, that, through the embarrassment naturally felt by a country maiden, she was only pretending to be asleep, he had resolutely gone up to the window, and seen clearly her position, and then suddenly, for some occult reason, had run away again; and only after a powerful effort of self-control, being ashamed of his cowardice, he had gone boldly up to her and touched her on the hand.
The watchman again coughed, and, shutting the squeaky gate, went out of the garden. The window in the young girl's room was shut, and the wooden shutters inside were drawn.
The count was terribly disappointed to see this. He would have given a good deal to have a chance to begin it all over again; he would not have acted so stupidly.
"A marvelous girl! what freshness! simply charming! And so I lost her. Stupid beast that I was."
However, as he was not in the mood to go to sleep yet, he walked, as chance should lead, along the path, through the linden alley, with the resolute steps of a man who has been angry. And now for him also this night brought, as its gifts of reconciliation, a strange, calming melancholy, and a craving for love.
The clay path, here and there dotted with sprouting grass or dry twigs, was lighted by patches of pale light where the moon sent its rays straight through the thick foliage of the lindens. Here and there a bending bough, apparently overgrown with gray moss, gleamed on one side. The silvered foliage occasionally rustled.
At the house there was no light in the windows; all sounds were hushed, only the nightingale filled with his song all the immensity of silent and glorious space.
"My God! what a night! what a marvelous night!" thought the count, breathing in the fresh fragrance of the garden. "Something makes me feel blue, as though I were dissatisfied with myself and with others, and dissatisfied with my whole life. But what a splendid, dear girl! Perhaps she was really offended." Here his fancies changed. He imagined himself there in the garden with this district maiden in various and most remarkable situations; then his mistress Mina supplanted the maiden's place.
"What a fool I am! I ought simply to have put my arm around her waist, and kissed her."
And with this regret the count returned to his room. The cornet was not yet asleep. He immediately turned over in bed, and looked at the count.
"Aren't you asleep?" asked the count.
"Shall I tell you what happened?"
"No, I'd better not tell you.... Yes, I will too. Move your legs over a little."
And the count, who had already given up vain regret for his unsuccessful intrigue, sat down with a gay smile on his comrade's bed. "Could you imagine that the young lady of the house gave me a rendezvous?"
"What is that you say?" screamed Polózof, leaping up in bed.
"Well, now listen."
"But how? When? It can't be!"
"See here: while you were making out your accounts in préférence, she told me that she would this night be sitting at the window, and that it was possible to get in at that window. Now, this is what it means to be a practical man: while you were there reckoning up with the old woman, I was arranging this little affair. You yourself heard her say right out in your presence, that she was going to sit at the window to-night, and look at the pond."
"Yes, but she said that without any meaning in it."
"I am not so sure whether she said it purposely or otherwise. Maybe she did not wish to come at it all at once, only it looked like that. But a wretched piece of work came out of it. Like a perfect fool I spoiled the whole thing," he added, scornfully smiling at himself.
"Well, what is it? Where have you been?"
The count told him the whole story, with the exception of his irresolute and repeated advances. "I spoiled it myself; I ought to have been bolder. She screamed, and ran away from the window."
"Then she screamed and ran away?" repeated the cornet, replying with a constrained smile to the count's smile, which had such a long and powerful influence upon him.
"Yes, but now it's time to go to sleep."
Polózof again turned his back to the door, and lay in silence for ten minutes. God knows what was going on in his soul; but when he turned over again, his face was full of passion and resolution.
"Count Turbin," said he in a broken voice.
"Are you dreaming, or not?" replied the count calmly. "What is it, cornet Polózof?"
"Count Turbin, you are a scoundrel," cried Polózof, and he sprang from the bed.
From : Gutenberg.org
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