“You are insensitive cattle, Senka!”
This is what, prince, ”said the general with a cheerful smile,“ if you really are the way you seem, then it will probably be nice to meet you; you see, I’m a busy man, and now again I’ll sit down to watch and sign something, and then go to his excellency, and then to the service, it turns out that I’m glad, though ... good people, that is .. ... but ... However, I am so convinced that you are well brought up that ... And how old are you, prince?
- Twenty six.
- Wow! And I thought, much less.
- Yes, they say, my face is youthful. And I’ll learn how not to bother you and will soon understand, because I really don’t like to bother you ... And, finally, it seems to me that we are such rosy people in appearance ... for many reasons that, perhaps, we cannot have there are a lot of common points, but, you know, I don’t believe in this last idea myself, because very often it just seems like there are no common points, but they really are ... it is from human laziness that people sort of and they can’t find anything ... But by the way, maybe I started bored? You as if ...
- Two words, sir: do you have at least some condition? Or maybe you intend to take any classes? Sorry I'm so ...
- Excuse me, I really appreciate your question and understand. For the time being, I do not have any state and no occupations, for the time being, too, but I have to, sir. And now I had strangers' money, it was given to me by Schneider, my professor, from whom I was treated and studied in Switzerland, on the road, and gave it right up to now, so now, for example, I have only a few cents left for all the money. True, I have one thing, and I need advice, but ...
- Tell me, what do you intend to live in the meantime and what were your intentions? - interrupted the general.
- I wanted to work somehow.
Oh, you are a philosopher; but by the way ... do you know the talents, abilities, at least some, that is, of those that give daily bread? Sorry again ...
- Oh, don't apologize. No, sir, I think I have neither talents nor special abilities; on the contrary, because I am a sick person and did not study correctly. As for bread, it seems to me ...
The general interrupted again and again began to question. The prince again told everything that has already been told. It turned out that the general had heard of the late Pavlishchev and even knew personally. Why the Pavlishchev was interested in his upbringing, the prince himself could not explain, however, perhaps, simply, by his old friendship with his late father. After the parents, the prince remained a small child, he lived and grew up in villages throughout his life, since his health required rural air. Pavlishchev entrusted him to some old landowners, his relatives; for him, the governess was hired first, then the tutor; he announced, however, that although he remembers everything, he can little satisfactorily explain, because in many respects he was not aware. The frequent seizures of his illness made him almost an idiot (the prince said "idiot"). He finally said that Pavlishchev met once in Berlin with Professor Schneider, a Swiss who deals specifically with these diseases, has an institution in Switzerland, in the Welsh canton, treats with his method cold water, gymnastics, and treats both idiocy and madness, while he teaches and undertakes spiritual development in general; that Pavlishchev sent him to him in Switzerland about five years ago, and he died two years ago, suddenly, without making orders; that Schneider held and treated him for another two years; that he didn’t cure him, but helped a lot, and that, finally, at his own request and due to one circumstance he met, he sent him now to Russia.
The general was very surprised.
- And you have nobody in Russia, absolutely nobody? - he asked.
Having said this, Stepan sighed, took half an armful and went out of the hut into the yard. Semen followed after him.
In the courtyard, a quiet, serene summer Russian night fell. Because of the distant mounds the moon rose. Disheveled clouds with silvery edges floated towards her. The sky turned pale, and pale, pleasant greens spilled over its expanse. Weaker stars flickered and, as if frightened of the moon, drew their little rays into themselves. From the river in all directions pulled night, cheeks caressing moisture. In the hut of Father Gregory the whole village rattled for nine hours. The waiter-cab locked the windows with noise and hung a greasy flashlight above the door. On the street and in the courtyards there was neither a soul, nor a sound ... Stepan spread out half of the grass on the grass, crossed himself and lay down with his elbow under his head. Semyon grunted and sat at his feet.
“Hmmm ...” he said.
After a pause, Semyon sat comfortably, lit a small pipe and spoke:
- I visited Trofim today ... I drank beer. I drank three bottles. Want to smoke, Styopa?
“I do not wish.
- Tobacco is good. I would like to drink tea now! Did you drink tea at the lady? Good? Must be very good? Five rubles a pound should be. And there is such tea that it costs one hundred rubles per pound. By God, there is. Though I didn’t drink, I know. When in the city I served as clerks, I saw ... One lady drank. One smell is worth it! Sniffed. Let's go to the lady tomorrow?
- Leave me alone!
Now nobody, but I hope ... moreover, I received a letter ...
“At least,” the general interrupted, not hearing about the letter, “did you study something, and your illness will not prevent you from taking any, for example, uncomplicated, place in any service?”
“Oh, it probably won't hurt.” And as for the place, I would really wish, because I myself want to see what I am capable of. I studied all four years constantly, although not quite correctly, and so, according to his special system, and at the same time I managed to read a lot of Russian books.
- Russian books? Therefore, you know the letter and can write without errors?
- Oh, I really can.
- Great, sir; and handwriting?
“And the handwriting is excellent.” This, perhaps, is my talent; in this I am just a calligrapher. Give me, I'll write you something for trial now, ”the prince said with fervor.
- Do a favor. And it’s even necessary ... And I love this your readiness, prince, you are very, really, nice.
“You have such glorious writing instruments, and how many pencils, how many pens, how thick, glorious paper ... And what a glorious office you have!” This is the landscape I know; This is a Swiss view. I’m sure that the painter wrote from nature, and I’m sure that I saw this place: this is in the canton of Uri ...
“It may very well be, although it was bought here.” Ganya, give the prince paper; here are feathers and paper; here, come to this table. What is it? - the general turned to Ghana, who meanwhile removed from his portfolio and handed him a large-format photographic portrait, “bah! Nastasya Filippovna! Did she herself, she sent you herself? - he asked Ganya lively and with great curiosity.
“I'm glad, I'm glad,” he said, and still gazing into her eyes, he quickly walked away and sat down in his place. - Sit down, sit down! Mikhail Ivanovich, sit down.
He indicated to his daughter-in-law a place near him. The waiter pushed a chair for her.
- Go, go! The old man said, looking around her rounded waist. - Hurried, not good!
He laughed dryly, coldly, unpleasantly, as he always laughed - with one mouth and not his eyes.
Why are you angry? I do not swear, I speak only. Angry is not a trace. But why don't you go, eccentric? I do not understand! And there is a lot of money, and the food is good, and drink as much as the soul wants ... You will smoke cigarettes, you will drink good tea ...
Semyon was silent for a while and continued:
- And she is beautiful. It’s a disaster to get in touch with the old woman, and happiness is with this one! (Semyon spat and paused.) Fire woman! Fiery fire! Her neck is glorious, so chubby ...
- And if the soul is a sin? Asked Stepan suddenly, turning to Semyon.
- Gre-eh? Otkudova sin? It’s not a sin for a poor person.
- To hell to hell and the poor will go if ... But why am I poor? I am not poor.
- What sin is it? After all, not you to her, but she to you! You scarecrow!
- The robber, and the robber reasoning ...
- You stupid man! - said, sighing, Semyon. - Stupid! You do not understand your happiness! Do not feel! You must have a lot of money ... You don’t need to know, you need money.
- We need, but not strangers.
“You will not steal, and she herself will give you her own pen.” What is the matter with you, fool, to interpret! How about a wall of peas ... Mantifolia on vinegar to breed with you only.
Semyon got up and stretched.
- You will repent, but it will be too late! I’m after this and I don’t want to know. You are not my brother to me. Damn you ... Fuck with your stupid cow ...
- Marya is a cow?
Now, when I was congratulating, I gave. I have already asked for a long time. I don’t know if it’s a hint on her part that I myself arrived empty-handed, without a present, on such a day, ”added Ganya, smiling unpleasantly.
“Well, no,” the general interrupted with conviction, “and what, really, is your mindset!” She will begin to hint ... and not at all interesting. And besides, what will you give: after all, here you need thousands! Is it a portrait? And what, by the way, did she not ask you for a portrait yet?
- No, I haven’t asked yet; Yes, maybe he’ll never ask. Do you, Ivan Fedorovich, remember, of course, about tonight? You are from deliberately invited.
- I remember, I remember, of course, and I will. Well, birthday, twenty-five years! Um ... And you know, Ganya, I already, so be it, I’ll open it for you, get ready. She promised Afanasy Ivanovich and me that tonight she would say the last word: to be or not to be! So look, know.
Ganya was suddenly embarrassed, to the point that he even turned a little pale.
“She probably said that?” He asked, and his voice seemed to tremble.
- On the third day I gave my word. We both molested that we forced. I just asked you not to give it up to the time.
The general was staring at Ganya; he apparently did not like Ghani's embarrassment.
“Remember, Ivan Fedorovich,” Ganya said anxiously and hesitating, “that she gave me complete freedom of decision until she decides the case, and then my word is still mine ...”
- Um ... You're not suitable for this very cow. Go ahead
“And you would be well, and ... we are well.” Fool !!
- And I'll leave ... There is nobody to beat you!
Semyon turned and whistled, trudged to the hut. Five minutes later, grass rustled near Stepan. Stepan raised his head. Marya went to him. Mary came up, stood and lay down next to Stepan.
- Don’t go, Styopa! She whispered. - Do not go, my dear! Will ruin you! Little to her, a cursed Pole, you still needed. Do not go to her, Stepunk!
- Do not go!
Maryina's tears dripped onto Stepan's face in a small, hot rain.
- Do not kill me, Stepan! Do not take sin upon your soul. Love me alone, do not go to others! God married me, live with me. I’m an orphan ... I’m the only one you have.
- Leave me alone! Ah ... pissing! He said - I won’t go!
- That's it ... And don’t go, dear! I am a burden, Stepushka ... The children will be soon ... Don’t leave us, God will punish! Father and Semka strive so that you go to her, but you don’t go ... Do not look at them. Beasts, not people.
So are you ... so are you ... - suddenly the general was afraid.
- I'm nothing.
“Have mercy, what do you want to do with us?”
“I do not refuse.” Maybe I didn’t put it that way ...
- Still you would refuse! Said the general in annoyance, not even wanting to restrain the annoyance. - Here, brother, the point is not that you do not refuse, but the matter is your readiness, pleasure, joy, with which you will accept her words ... What is being done at your place?
- What's at home? Everything at home is in my will, only my father, as usual, is fooling around, but after all this is a perfect outrage; I don’t even speak with him, but, however, I’m holding it in a vise, and, right, if it weren’t for my mother, I would have indicated the door. Mother, of course, is crying; my sister is angry, and I finally told them directly that I’m the master of my fate and in the house I want to ... obey. Sister at least struck it all out with her mother.
“And I, brother, continue not to comprehend,” the general remarked thoughtfully, with a few shoulders thrown up and hands a little apart. “Nina Alexandrovna, too, the other day, when you came, remember?” groans and groans; “What are you?” I ask. It turns out that they seem to be dishonorable here. What dishonesty, let me ask? Who can reproach Nastasya Filippovna or point out anything about her? Is it really that she was with Totsky? But this is already such nonsense, especially under certain circumstances! "You, says, do not let her to your daughters?" Well! Avona! Ah yes Nina Alexandrovna! That is, how not to understand this, how not to understand this ...
Go to sleep!
- I’m sleeping, Styopa ... I’m sleeping.
- Marya! - heard the voice of Maxim. - Where are you? Come on, mother is calling!
Mary jumped up, straightened her hair and ran into the hut. Maxim slowly approached Stepan. He had already undressed and in his lower dress looked like a dead man. The moon played on his bald head and shone in his gypsy eyes.
- Are you going to the lady tomorrow al the day after tomorrow? He asked Stepan. Stepan did not answer.
- If you go, so go tomorrow, but early. I suppose the horses are not cleaned. Yes, do not forget that fifteen promised. Do not go for ten.
“I won’t go,” said Stepan.
- Why so?
- Yes ... I don’t want to ...
- From what?
“You know yourself.”
- So ... Look, Styopa, how would I not have to tear you to old age!
- Can you answer parents like that? To whom do you answer? Look you! The milk on the lips has not dried yet, but you say rudeness to your father.
- I won’t go, that’s all! Go to church, but don’t be afraid of sin.
- I want to separate you stupid! Hut a new nadot build al no? What do you think? Who will you go to the forest? Probably to Strelchik? Who to borrow money from? She or not her? She will give the forest, and give money. Will reward!
- Let others reward. I don’t need to.
- I'll rip it off!
- Well, fight! Fight
Maxim smiled and extended his hand forward. There was a whip in his hand.
- I'll take it off, Stepan.
Stepan turned on the other side and pretended to be prevented from sleeping.
- So you will not go? Are you saying that right?
- Right. God beat my soul, if I go.
Maxim raised his hand, and Stepan felt severe pain on his shoulder and cheek. Stepan jumped up like a madman.
- Do not fight, five! He cried. - Do not fight! Do you hear Do not fight!
- And what?
Maxim thought and hit Stepan again. Hit the third time.
- Listen to your father, if he tells! You go scoundrel!
- Do not fight! Do you hear
Stepan roared and quickly sank half a half.
- I will go! Good! I'll go ... Just remember! Life will not be glad! Damn it!
- Okay. You’ll go for yourself, but not for me. I don’t need a new hut, but you. He said to rip off, well, tore off.
- By ... I'll go! Only ... only remember this whip!
- Okay. Spit it out. Talk to me again!
- Good ... I'll go ...
Stepan stopped crying, turned on his stomach and cried quietly.
- He pulled his shoulders! Broke out! Revie more! You’ll go early tomorrow. Take it a month in advance. And for the four days that he served, take it. Your mare will fit on a scarf. And do not be angry with the whip. Father I ... I want - I beat, I want - sweetheart. That's it ... Sleep!
Maxim stroked his beard and turned to the hut. It seemed to Stepan that Maxim, having entered the hut, said: “Tore off!” Semen's laughter was heard.
In the hut of his father, Gregory pitifully played an upset piano: at nine o’clock, Popov usually studied music. Quiet, strange sounds ran through the village. Stepan got up, climbed over the fence and went along the street. He walked to the river. The river shone like mercury, and reflected in itself the sky with the moon and with the stars. Silence reigned around the grave. Nothing moved. Only occasionally a cricket cried out ... Stepan sat on the shore, above the water itself, and propped his head on his fist. Dark thoughts, replacing one another, fluttered in his head.
On the other side of the river stood tall, slender poplars surrounding the lord's garden. The light from the lordly window shone through the trees. The lady must not have slept. Stepan thought, sitting on the shore, until the swallows flew over the river. He rose when the moon was not already shining in the river, but the rising sun. Rising, he washed, prayed east, and quickly, with decisive step, strode along the coast to the ford. Having crossed a shallow ford, he headed for the lordly court ..
Your position? - prompted Ganya to the embarrassed general. - She understand; you are not angry with her. However, I then soaped my head so that they would not meddle in other people's affairs. And yet, so far everything is the only thing in our house and holds that the last word has not yet been said, and the storm will strike. If the last word is said today, then everything will be said.
The prince heard all this conversation, sitting in the corner behind his calligraphic breakdown. He finished, went to the table and handed his piece of paper.
- So this is Nastasya Filippovna? He said, looking attentively and curiously at the portrait. - Amazingly good! He added at once with fervor. The portrait depicted a woman of truly extraordinary beauty. She was photographed in a black silk dress, an extremely simple and elegant style; hair, apparently dark brown, was cleaned simply, at home; eyes dark, deep, brooding forehead; a passionate and arrogant expression. She was a bit thin, perhaps a pale face ... Ganya and the general looked in amazement at the prince ...
- How, Nastasya Filippovna! Do you already know Nastasya Filippovna? The general asked.
- Yes; it’s only a day in Russia, and I already know such a beautiful woman, ”the prince answered and immediately told about his meeting with Rogozhin and conveyed his whole story.
- Here's more news! - Again the general was alarmed, having listened extremely carefully to the story, and looked inquiringly at Ganya.
“Probably only disgrace,” muttered Ganya, who was somewhat embarrassed, “the merchant's son walks: I already heard something about him.”
Yes, and I, brother, heard, - the general intercepted. - Then, after the earrings, Nastasya Filippovna retold the whole joke. But the matter is now different. Here, maybe, a million are really sitting and ... passion, ugly passion, let’s put it, but it still smells of passion, but we all know what these gentlemen are capable of, hop in everything! .. Um! .. There wouldn’t be a joke some! - concluded the general thoughtfully.
“Are you afraid of a million?” - Ganya grinned.
“But you are not, of course?”
“As it seemed to you, prince,” Ganya suddenly turned to him, “what is it, some serious person or just that, an outrage?” Actually your opinion?
In Ghana, something special happened when he asked this question. A certain new and peculiar idea caught fire in his brain and impatiently flashed in his eyes. The general, who was sincerely and sincerely anxious, also glanced at the prince, but as if not expecting much from his answer.
“I don’t know how to tell you,” answered the prince, “only it seemed to me that there was a lot of passion in him, and even some kind of sick passion.” Yes, he himself is still quite as if sick. It may well be that from the very first days in St. Petersburg it will again fall off, especially if it wraps up.
- So? Do you think so? - the general clung to this idea.
- Yes, it seemed.
- And, however, this kind of jokes can occur not in a few days, but before the evening, today, maybe something will turn out, - grinned at General Ganya.
“Um! .. Of course ... Perhaps, and then the whole thing is how it flashes in her head,” said the general.
“But do you know what she is sometimes?”
So what is it? - the general rushed up again, having reached an extreme breakdown. - Listen, Ganya, please, today you don’t contradict her a lot and try to be that way, you know, to be ... in a word, to your liking ... Um! .. Why are you twisting your mouth like that? Listen, Gavrila Ardalionych, by the way, it will be very opportune to say now: what are we bothering with? You understand that I have long been provided for my own benefit, which sits here; anyway, I’ll decide the matter in my favor. Totsky made his decision unshakably, therefore, and I am absolutely sure. And therefore, if I now wish for something, it is your only benefit. Judge for yourself; don’t you trust me? Moreover, you are a man ... a man ... in a word, a smart man, and I relied on you ... and this in the present case, this ... this ...
“This is the main thing,” Ganya agreed, again helping the embarrassed general and wringing his lips into a poisonous smile that he no longer wanted to hide. He looked with a sore gaze directly into the general’s eyes, as if even wanting him to read all his thoughts in his gaze. The general turned red and flushed.
- Well, yes, the main thing is the mind! He assented, looking sharply at Ganya. “And you are a funny man, Gavrila Ardalionych!” You are definitely glad, I notice this merchant, as an exit for yourself. Yes, it is here through the mind that one would have to come from the very beginning; here it is precisely necessary to understand and ... and to arrive from both sides honestly and directly, not that ... to notify in advance so as not to compromise the others, all the more so since there was enough time for that, and even now it is enough ( the general raised his eyebrows significantly), despite the fact that only a few hours remain ... Do you understand? Got it? Do you want or not want, really? If you do not want, say, and - you are welcome. No one, Gavrila Ardalionych, is holding you, no one is forcibly dragging you into a trap, if you only see a trap here.
You need to walk, walk as much as possible, as much as possible, ”he said.
The little princess did not hear or did not want to hear his words. She was silent and seemed embarrassed. The prince asked her about her father, and the princess spoke and smiled. He asked her about mutual acquaintances: the princess revived even more and began to tell, passing to the prince bows and city gossip.
“La comtesse Apraksine, la pauvre, a perdu son mari, et elle a pleuré les larmes de ses yeux 2,” she said, more and more animated.
As she revived, the prince looked sterner and sterner at her, and suddenly, as if having studied her enough and having made himself clear about her, he turned away from her and turned to Mikhail Ivanovich.
I want to, ”in an undertone, but firmly said Ganya, dropped his eyes and fell silent gloomily.
The general was satisfied. The general got excited, but he apparently repented that he had gone far. He suddenly turned to the prince, and it seemed that an anxious thought suddenly passed through his face that the prince was here and still heard. But he instantly calmed down: with one glance at the prince one could completely calm down.
- Wow! Cried the general, looking at the sample of calligraphy presented by the prince, “but this is an inscription!” Yes, and a rare recipe! Look, Ganya, what a talent!
On a thick velvet sheet, the prince wrote the phrase:
"The humble abbot Paphnutius had a hand."
“This,” the prince explained with extreme pleasure and animation, “is the signature of Hegumen Paphnutius, from a photograph of the fourteenth century.” They excellently signed, all of these are our old abbesses and metropolitans, and with what taste, with what diligence! Do you really have at least a Pogodinsky edition, General? Then I wrote here in a different font: this is a round large French font of the last century, other letters were written differently, the font is areal, the font of public scribes, borrowed from their specimens (I had one) - you must admit that it is not without merits. Take a look at these round qs as well. I translated the French character into Russian letters, which is very difficult, but it turned out well. Here is another beautiful and original font, here is this phrase: "Diligence overcomes everything." This font is Russian, clerical or, if you want, military clerical. This is how official paper is written to an important person, also a round font, a nice, black font, black written, but with a wonderful taste. The calligrapher would not have allowed these strokes, or, rather, these attempts to cross out, these unfinished half-tails, you notice, but in general, look, it is in fact a character, and, really, the whole military-clerical soul glanced over here: and wanted, and talent asks, but the military collar is tightly hooked, discipline and in handwriting came out, lovely! It has recently struck me as one specimen, accidentally found it, and where else? in Switzerland! Well, this is a simple, ordinary and purest English font: grace cannot go any further, here all the charm, beads, pearls; it's over; but here’s the variation, and again the French one, I borrowed it from a French traveling commie: the same English font, but the black line is a bit blacker and thicker than in English, an - the proportion of light is broken; and note too: the oval is changed, the droplet is rounder, and in addition a stroke is allowed, and the stroke is the most dangerous thing! Roscherk requires an extraordinary taste; but if only he succeeded, if only a proportion was found, then such a font cannot be compared with anything, even if one can fall in love with it.
- Wow! yes, what subtleties do you go into, ”the general laughed,“ yes you, father, are not just a calligrapher, you are an artist, huh? ” Ganya?
“It's amazing,” said Ganya, “and even with the consciousness of his purpose,” he added, laughing mockingly.
Has Stepan come? - asked, waking up the next day, Elena Egorovna.
- Come! - answered the maid.
- Ahhh ... Alright. Where is he now?
- At the stable.
The lady jumped out of bed, quickly dressed and went to the dining room to drink coffee.
Strelkova was apparently still young, younger than her years. Only one eyes betrayed that she had already managed to live most of the Indian age, that she was already over thirty. Her eyes are brown, deep, incredulous, rather male than female. She was not beautiful, but she could be liked. The face was full, pretty, healthy, and the neck about which Semyon spoke, and the bust were magnificent. If Semyon knew the price of beautiful legs and arms, then he probably would not be silent about the legs and arms of the landowner. She was dressed in all simple, light, summer. The hairstyle is the most unpretentious. Strelkova was lazy and did not like to mess with the toilet. The estate in which she lived belonged to her brother, a bachelor who lived in St. Petersburg and very rarely thought about his estate. She lived in him since she broke up with her husband. Her husband, Colonel Strelkov, a very decent man, also lived in St. Petersburg and thought of his wife less than her brother about his estate. She broke up with her husband, not having lived with him for a year. She cheated on him on the twentieth day after the wedding.
Sevshi to drink coffee, Strelkova ordered to call Stepan. Stepan appeared and stood at the door. He was pale, not combed, and looked like a wolf that had been caught looking: evil and gloomy. The lady looked at him and blushed slightly.
- Hello, Stepan! She said, pouring herself coffee. - Tell me, please, what kind of tricks are you building? Why on earth have you left! He lived four days and left! He left without asking. You should have asked!
“I was asked,” said Stepan.
- Who were you asking?
- At Felix Adamych.
Laugh, laugh, and here is a career, ”said the general. “Do you know, prince, to what face will we now give you paper to write?” Yes, you can directly put thirty-five rubles a month, from the first step. However, it’s half past twelve, ”he concluded, glancing at his watch,“ to the point, prince, so I need to hurry, and today, maybe we will not meet with you! ” Sit down for a moment; I have already explained to you that I am often not able to receive you; but I sincerely wish to help you a little bit, a little bit of course, that is, in the form of the most necessary, and there, as you yourself wish. I’ll look for a place in the office, not tight, but it will require accuracy. Now, with regard to what follows: in the house, that is, in the family of Gavrila Ardalonych Ivolgin, this very young friend of mine, whom I ask you to meet, his mother and sister cleaned two or three furnished rooms in their apartment and give them to the well-recommended tenants, with a table and a servant. I’m sure Nina Alexandrovna will accept my recommendation. For you, prince, this is even more than a treasure, firstly, because you will not be alone, but, so to speak, in the bowels of the family, and, in my opinion, you should not find yourself alone in such a capital from the first step, like Petersburg. Nina Alexandrovna, mother, and Varvara Ardalionovna, sister of Gavrila Ardalionych, are ladies whom I respect too much. Nina Aleksandrovna, the wife of Ardalion Aleksandrovich, a retired general, my former comrade in primary service, but with whom I, for some reasons, had stopped relations, which, however, does not prevent me from kindly respecting him. I’ll explain all this to you, prince, so that you understand that I personally recommend you, so to speak, and, as a result, I guarantee you. The fee is the most moderate, and, I hope, your salary will soon be quite enough. True, a person needs pocket money, at least some, but you will not be angry, prince, if I notice to you that you would better avoid pocket money, and indeed money in your pocket. So in my view I speak to you. But since now your wallet is completely empty, then, for a start, let me offer you these twenty-five rubles.
Strelkova paused and asked:
- Are you angry, or what? Stepan, answer! I'm asking! Are you angry?
- If they had not been told such words, then I would not have left. I'm set for horses, not for ...
- We won’t talk about this ... You did not understand me, that’s all. You should not be angry. I didn’t say anything so special. And if you said something that you find offensive for yourself, then you ... then you ... After all, I still ... I have the right to say too much ... Um ... I add to you salary. I hope that you and I will no longer have any misunderstandings.
Stepan turned and stepped back.
- Wait, wait! - stopped him Strelkova. “I haven't said everything yet.” Here's what, Stepan ... I have new coach clothes. Take it and put it on, and the one on you is no good. I have beautiful clothes. I will send you it with Fedor.
- I'm listening.
- What is your face ... Still sulking? Is it really so insulting? Well, it’s full ... I’m nothing ... I’ll be fine with you ... You will be satisfied with everything. Do not be angry ... Do not be angry?
- Yes, something we can be angry?
Stepan waved his hand, blinked his eyes, and turned away.
- What is the matter with you, Stepan?
- Nothing ... Can we get angry? We must not be angry ...
The lady got up, made a worried face and went to Stepan.
- Stepan, you ... are you crying?
The lady took Stepan by the sleeve.
Of course, we will be counted, and if you are such a sincere and sincere person as you seem in words, then there can be no difficulties between us. If I am so interested in you, then I even have a certain purpose in your account; later you will know her. See, I am with you quite simply; I hope, Ganya, you have nothing against placing the prince in your apartment?
- Oh, on the contrary! And mother will be very happy ... - Ganya confirmed politely and warningly.
“After all, it seems that you have only one more room.” This one, like him, Ferd ... Fer ...
- Well yes; I don’t like this your Ferdyshchenko: some greasy clown. And I don’t understand why Nastasya Filippovna so encourages him? Is he really her relative?
- Oh no, it's all a joke! And does not smell like a relative.
- Well, to hell with him! Well, so how are you, prince, happy or not?
“Thank you, General, you have treated me as an extremely kind person, especially since I didn’t even ask; I do not say this out of pride; I really didn’t know where to put my head. True, Rogozhin called me just now.
- Rogozhin? Well no; I would advise you fatherly or, if you like more, in a friendly way and forget about Mr. Rogozhin. Anyway, I would advise you to stick to the family in which you enter.
“If you are so kind,” the prince began, “then I have one thing to do.” I received a notification ...
Well, excuse me, ”the general interrupted,“ now I have no more minutes. ” Now I’ll tell Lizaveta Prokofievna about you: if she wants to accept you now (I’ll try to recommend you in such a way), I advise you to take this opportunity and enjoy it, because Lizaveta Prokofievna can be very useful to you; You are the same name. If you do not wish, then do not demand, sometime at another time. And you, Ganya, take a look at these accounts for a while, we fought with Fedoseyev just now. They should not be forgotten to turn on ...
The general came out, and the prince did not have time to talk about his business, about which he began almost the fourth time. Ganya lit a cigarette and offered another prince; the prince accepted, but did not speak, not wanting to interfere, and began to examine the cabinet; but Ganya hardly glanced at the sheet of paper, scribbled in numbers, indicated to him by the general. He was scattered; Ghani's smile, look, and thoughtfulness became even more difficult, in the prince's eyes, when they were both left alone. Suddenly he went to the prince; at that moment, he again stood over the portrait of Nastasya Filippovna and examined him.
“So you like that kind of woman, prince?” - he asked him suddenly, piercingly looking at him. And it was as if he had some extraordinary intention.
- Amazing face! - answered the prince, - and I am sure that her fate is not ordinary. The face is cheerful, and she suffered terribly, huh? This is what the eyes say, these two bones, two points under the eyes at the beginning of the cheeks. This is a proud face, terribly proud, and now I do not know if she is kind? Oh, if good! Everything would be saved!
“Well, Mikhail Ivanovich, Buonaparte is having a bad time for us.” As Prince Andrei (he always called his son in the third person) told me what forces are gathering on him! And we all considered him an empty man.
Mikhail Ivanovich, who absolutely did not know when you and I said such words about Bonaparte, but knew that he was needed to enter into a favorite conversation, looked at the young prince in surprise, not knowing what would come of it.
“He has great tactics!” - said the prince to his son, pointing to the architect.
And the conversation turned again about the war, about Bonaparte and the current generals and statesmen. The old prince, it seemed, was convinced not only that all the current figures were boys who did not understand the ABCs of military and state affairs, and that Bonaparte was an insignificant Frenchwoman who was successful only because the Potemkin and Suvorovs were no longer opposed to him; but he was even convinced that there were no political difficulties in Europe, there was no war, and there was some kind of puppet comedy played by current people, pretending to be doing business. Prince Andrei cheerfully withstood his father's ridicule over new people and, with apparent joy, summoned his father to talk and listened to him.
“Everything seems to be good, as it was before,” he said, “but didn’t the very Suvorov fall into the trap that Moreau had set for him and could not get out of it?”
“Who told you that?” Who said? Shouted the prince. - Suvorov! - And he threw away the plate, which Tikhon grabbed vividly. - Suvorov! .. Thinking, Prince Andrew. Two: Friedrich and Suvorov ... Moro! Moreau would be held captive if Suvorov’s hands were free; and on his hands sat Hofs-Kriegs-Wurst-Schnaps-rat. The devil is not happy with him. Here you go, you'll find out these Hofs-Kriegs-Wurstrats! Suvorov did not cope with them, so where can Mikhail Kutuzov cope ?! No, my friend, he continued, you cannot do without your generals against Bonaparte; it’s necessary to take the French, so that you don’t know your own and beat your own. The German Palen was sent to New York, America, for the Frenchman, Moreau, ”he said, alluding to the invitation that Moreau had made this year to join the Russian service. - Miracles!! What Potemkins, Suvorovs, Orlovs were the Germans? No, brother, either you all went crazy there, or I survived from the mind. God give you, and we'll see. Bonaparte they became a great commander! Um! ..
What's the matter, Stepan? What's the matter? Speak at last? Who offended you?
The mistress's eyes filled with tears.
- Come on!
Stepan waved his hand, blinked intensely, and roared.
- Mistress! He muttered. - I will love you ... I will be everything you want! I agree! Just do not give them, damned, nothing! Not a penny, not a sliver! I agree on everything! I’ll sell my soul to the unclean; don’t give them anything!
- To whom?
- To father and brother. Not a chip! Let them die, cursed, out of anger!
The lady smiled, wiped her eyes and laughed out loud.
“Good,” she said. - Well, go! I'll send you your clothes now.
Stepan went out.
“How good that he is stupid! The lady thought, looking after him and admiring his broad shoulders. “He delivered me from the explanation ... He was the first to speak of“ love ”” ...
In the evening, when the setting sun poured purple over the sky, and the golden earth, along the endless steppe road from the village to the far horizon, raced like mad horses, rifle horses ... The stroller bounced like a ball, and mercilessly tore the rye on its way, which drove to the road their heavy ears. Stepan sat on the gantry, vehemently rattling horses and seemed to be trying to break the reins into a thousand pieces. He was dressed with great taste. It was evident that a lot of time and money had been spent on his toilet. The expensive velvet and kumach sat tightly on his strong figure. A chain with key rings hung on his chest. Harmonica boots were cleaned by a real wax. The peacock feather coach hat barely touched his curly blond hair. On his face were written dull obedience and at the same time a furious rage, the horses were the victims ... In the stroller, lounging with all the members, the lady sat and breathed healthy air into herself with a wide chest. A young flush played on her cheeks ... She felt that she was enjoying life ...
Important, Styopa! Important! She shouted. - So him! Chase! By the wind!
Be stones under the wheels, stones would crumble into sparks ... The village was moving away from them more and more ... The huts disappeared, the barracks hid ... Soon the bell towers were not visible ... Finally, the village turned into a smoky strip and drowned in the distance. But Stepan drove and drove everything. He wanted to rush away from sin, which he was so afraid of. But no, sin sat behind him, in a stroller. Stepan did not have to flee. That evening, the steppe and sky were witnesses of how he sold his soul.
At about eleven, the horses raced back. The affiliated limped, and the indigenous was covered with foam. The lady sat in the corner of the stroller and with half-closed eyes huddled in her talm. A satisfied smile played on her lips. She breathed so easily, calmly! Stepan rode and thought he was dying. His head was empty, foggy, and his chest was gnawing ...
Every day in the evening, fresh horses were taken out of the stable. Stepan harnessed them to the stroller and rode to the garden gate. A radiant lady came out of the gate, got into a stroller, and a furious ride began. Not a single day was free from this ride. Unfortunately for Stepan, not a single rainy evening fell on his lot, which he might not have gone to.
After one of these trips, Stepan, returning from the steppe, left the yard and went for a walk along the shore. In his head, as usual, there was fog, there was not a single thought, and there was terrible longing in his chest. The night was good, quiet. Subtle scents ran through the air and gently flirted with his face. I remembered Stepan the village, which was dark behind the river, in front of his eyes. I remembered the hut, the garden, my horse, the bench on which he slept with his Marya and was so pleased ... He was inexpressibly hurt ...
- Styopa! He heard a weak voice.
Stepan looked around. Marya went to him. She had just crossed the ford and was holding shoes in her hands.
- Styopa, why did you leave?
Stepan stared blankly at her and turned away.
- Stepushka, who did you leave me an orphan for?
- Leave me alone!
- God will punish you, Stepushka! He will punish you! He will send you a fierce death, without repentance. Remember my word! Uncle Trofim lived with a soldier - remember? - and how did he die? And God forbid!
- What are you molesting? Oh ...
Stepan took two steps forward. Mary grabbed the caftan with both hands.
“My wife, I’m yours, Stepan!” You can’t leave me like that! Stepushka!
- Nice one! I’ll wash my feet and drink water! Go home!
Stepan rushed and hit Marya with his fist; hit so with grief. The blow came just in the stomach. Marya missed, grabbed her stomach and sat down on the ground.
- Oh! She moaned.
Stepan blinked his eyes, grabbed his fist around the temple and, without looking back, went to the courtyard.
Having come to his stable, he fell on a bench, put a pillow on his head and painfully bit his hand.
At this time, the lady sat in her bedroom and wondered: will the weather be good tomorrow night or not? The cards said it would be good.
Early in the morning, Rzhevetsky was driving home from his neighbor, whom he was visiting. The sun has not yet risen. It was four in the morning, no more. Rzhevetsky’s head was noisy. He ruled a horse and swayed slightly. Half of the road he had to ride in the forest.
"What the hell? He thought, approaching the name in which he was the manager. “No one is cutting wood!”
From the thicket of the forest came the knock and crack of branches to the ears of the Rzhevetsky. Rzhevetsky sharpened his ears, thought, got out, awkwardly got down from the running jitter and went into the thicket.
Semyon Zhurkin sat on the ground and chopped green branches with an ax. Near him lay three felled alders. A horse stood harnessed to the side, and ate grass. Rzhevetsky saw Semyon. Hops and slumber flew off him instantly. He turned pale and jumped to Semen.
“What are you doing this?” but? He cried.
“What are you doing this?” but? - answered the echo.
Would you marry such a woman? - continued Ganya, not taking his sore eyes from him.
“I cannot marry anyone; I am unwell,” said the prince.
- Would Rogozhin get married? What do you think?
- But what, marry, I think, and tomorrow it is possible; would marry, and in a week, perhaps, and would stab her.
The prince had just uttered this; Ganya suddenly flinched so that the prince almost cried out.
- What's wrong with you? He said, grabbing his hand.
- Your Excellency! His Excellency is requested to welcome to Her Excellency, ”the footman announced, appearing at the door. The prince went after the footman.
All three girls of Yepanchina were young, healthy, flowering, tall, with amazing shoulders, powerful breasts, strong hands, almost like those of men, and, of course, due to their strength and health, they sometimes liked to eat well, which they did not want to hide at all . Their mother, generals Lizaveta Prokofievna, sometimes referred to the frankness of their appetite, but since her other opinions, despite all the outward respectfulness with which her daughters took, in fact, had long since lost their original and undeniable authority between them, and to such an extent that the established consonant conclave of three girls began to overpower all the time, the general, in the forms of her own dignity, found it more convenient not to argue and concede. True, the character very often did not obey and did not obey the decisions of prudence; Lizaveta Prokofievna became more capricious and impatient every year, even some kind of freak became, but since a very humble and accustomed husband was still at hand, the excess and accumulated poured out usually on his head, and then the harmony in the family was restored again , and everything went well.
The generalsha herself, however, did not lose her appetite and usually, at half-past twelve, took part in a plentiful breakfast, almost like lunch, with her daughters. The young ladies drank a cup of coffee even earlier, at exactly ten o'clock, in bed, at the moment of awakening. So they fell in love and established once and for all. At half-past twelve, a table was set up in a small dining room, near the mother’s rooms, and the general himself sometimes came to this family and intimate breakfast, if time allowed. In addition to tea, coffee, cheese, honey, butter, special pancakes, beloved by the general herself, cutlets and other things, even a strong hot broth was served. On the morning that our story began, the whole family gathered in the dining room in anticipation of the general, who promised to appear by half-past twelve. If he was late even for a minute, they would immediately send for him; but he appeared neatly. Going up to say hello to his wife and kiss her pen, he noticed something too special in her face this time. And although he had already anticipated the day before that it would be so today by one “joke” (as he himself expressed himself out of his habit), and, already falling asleep yesterday, was worried about it, but still he was again afraid . Daughters came up to kiss him; here, although they were not angry with him, but still there was also something special, as it were. True, the general, for some reason, became overly suspicious; but since he was an experienced and dexterous father and spouse, he immediately took his measures.