FictionForest

PART EIGHT : Chapter 2

Leo TolstoyAug 26, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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Sergey Ivanovitch and Katavasov had
only just reached the station of the Kursk line, which
was particularly busy and full of people that day,
when, looking round for the groom who was following
with their things, they saw a party of volunteers
driving up in four cabs.  Ladies met them with
bouquets of flowers, and followed by the rushing crowd
they went into the station.

One of the ladies, who had met the
volunteers, came out of the hall and addressed Sergey
Ivanovitch.

“You too come to see them off?” she asked
in French.

“No, I’m going away myself,
princess.  To my brother’s for a holiday. 
Do you always see them off?” said Sergey Ivanovitch
with a hardly perceptible smile.

“Oh, that would be impossible!”
answered the princess.  “Is it true that
eight hundred have been sent from us already? 
Malvinsky wouldn’t believe me.”

“More than eight hundred. 
If you reckon those who have been sent not directly
from Moscow, over a thousand,” answered Sergey
Ivanovitch.

“There!  That’s just
what I said!” exclaimed the lady.  “And
it’s true too, I suppose, that more than a million
has been subscribed?”

“Yes, princess.”

“What do you say to today’s telegram? 
Beaten the Turks again.”

“Yes, so I saw,” answered
Sergey Ivanovitch.  They were speaking of the
last telegram stating that the Turks had been for three
days in succession beaten at all points and put to
flight, and that tomorrow a decisive engagement was
expected.

“Ah, by the way, a splendid
young fellow has asked leave to go, and they’ve
made some difficulty, I don’t know why. 
I meant to ask you; I know him; please write a note
about his case.  He’s being sent by Countess
Lidia Ivanovna.”

Sergey Ivanovitch asked for all the
details the princess knew about the young man, and
going into the first-class waiting-room, wrote a note
to the person on whom the granting of leave of absence
depended, and handed it to the princess.

“You know Count Vronsky, the
notorious one…is going by this train?” said
the princess with a smile full of triumph and meaning,
when he found her again and gave her the letter.

“I had heard he was going, but
I did not know when.  By this train?”

“I’ve seen him. 
He’s here:  there’s only his mother
seeing him off.  It’s the best thing, anyway,
that he could do.”

“Oh, yes, of course.”

While they were talking the crowd
streamed by them into the dining room.  They
went forward too, and heard a gentleman with a glass
in his hand delivering a loud discourse to the volunteers. 
“In the service of religion, humanity, and our
brothers,” the gentleman said, his voice growing
louder and louder; “to this great cause mother
Moscow dedicates you with her blessing. Jivio!
he concluded, loudly and tearfully.

Everyone shouted Jivio! and
a fresh crowd dashed into the hall, almost carrying
the princess off her legs.

“Ah, princess! that was something
like!” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, suddenly appearing
in the middle of the crowd and beaming upon them with
a delighted smile.  “Capitally, warmly
said, wasn’t it?  Bravo!  And Sergey
Ivanovitch!  Why, you ought to have said something ­just
a few words, you know, to encourage them; you do that
so well,” he added with a soft, respectful, and
discreet smile, moving Sergey Ivanovitch forward a
little by the arm.

“No, I’m just off.”

“Where to?”

“To the country, to my brother’s,”
answered Sergey Ivanovitch.

“Then you’ll see my wife. 
I’ve written to her, but you’ll see her
first.  Please tell her that they’ve seen
me and that it’s ‘all right,’ as
the English say.  She’ll understand. 
Oh, and be so good as to tell her I’m appointed
secretary of the committee….  But she’ll
understand!  You know, les petites misères
de la vie humaine,
” he said, as it were apologizing
to the princess.  “And Princess Myakaya ­not
Liza, but Bibish ­is sending a thousand
guns and twelve nurses.  Did I tell you?”

“Yes, I heard so,” answered Koznishev
indifferently.

“It’s a pity you’re
going away,” said Stepan Arkadyevitch. 
“Tomorrow we’re giving a dinner to two
who’re setting off ­ Dimer-Bartnyansky
from Petersburg and our Veslovsky, Grisha.  They’re
both going.  Veslovsky’s only lately married. 
There’s a fine fellow for you!  Eh, princess?”
he turned to the lady.

The princess looked at Koznishev without
replying.  But the fact that Sergey Ivanovitch
and the princess seemed anxious to get rid of him
did not in the least disconcert Stepan Arkadyevitch. 
Smiling, he stared at the feather in the princess’s
hat, and then about him as though he were going to
pick something up.  Seeing a lady approaching
with a collecting box, he beckoned her up and put
in a five-rouble note.

“I can never see these collecting
boxes unmoved while I’ve money in my pocket,”
he said.  “And how about today’s telegram? 
Fine chaps those Montenegrins!”

“You don’t say so!”
he cried, when the princess told him that Vronsky
was going by this train.  For an instant Stepan
Arkadyevitch’s face looked sad, but a minute
later, when, stroking his mustaches and swinging as
he walked, he went into the hall where Vronsky was,
he had completely forgotten his own despairing sobs
over his sister’s corpse, and he saw in Vronsky
only a hero and an old friend.

“With all his faults one can’t
refuse to do him justice,” said the princess
to Sergey Ivanovitch as soon as Stepan Arkadyevitch
had left them.  “What a typically Russian,
Slav nature!  Only, I’m afraid it won’t
be pleasant for Vronsky to see him.  Say what
you will, I’m touched by that man’s fate. 
Do talk to him a little on the way,” said the
princess.

“Yes, perhaps, if it happens so.”

“I never liked him.  But
this atones for a great deal.  He’s not
merely going himself, he’s taking a squadron
at his own expense.”

“Yes, so I heard.”

A bell sounded.  Everyone crowded
to the doors.  “Here he is!” said
the princess, indicating Vronsky, who with his mother
on his arm walked by, wearing a long overcoat and
wide-brimmed black hat.  Oblonsky was walking
beside him, talking eagerly of something.

Vronsky was frowning and looking straight
before him, as though he did not hear what Stepan
Arkadyevitch was saying.

Probably on Oblonsky’s pointing
them out, he looked round in the direction where the
princess and Sergey Ivanovitch were standing, and
without speaking lifted his hat.  His face, aged
and worn by suffering, looked stony.

Going onto the platform, Vronsky left
his mother and disappeared into a compartment.

On the platform there rang out “God
save the Tsar,” then shouts of “hurrah!”
and “jivio!” One of the volunteers, a tall,
very young man with a hollow chest, was particularly
conspicuous, bowing and waving his felt hat and a
nosegay over his head.  Then two officers emerged,
bowing too, and a stout man with a big beard, wearing
a greasy forage cap.

 

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