FictionForest

PART TWO : Chapter 20

Leo TolstoyAug 22, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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Vronsky was staying in a roomy, clean,
Finnish hut, divided into two by a partition. 
Petritsky lived with him in camp too.  Petritsky
was asleep when Vronsky and Yashvin came into the hut.

“Get up, don’t go on sleeping,”
said Yashvin, going behind the partition and giving
Petritsky, who was lying with ruffled hair and with
his nose in the pillow, a prod on the shoulder.

Petritsky jumped up suddenly onto
his knees and looked round.

“Your brother’s been here,”
he said to Vronsky.  “He waked me up, damn
him, and said he’d look in again.” 
And pulling up the rug he flung himself back on the
pillow.  “Oh, do shut up, Yashvin!”
he said, getting furious with Yashvin, who was pulling
the rug off him.  “Shut up!” He turned
over and opened his eyes.  “You’d
better tell me what to drink; such a nasty taste in
my mouth, that…”

“Brandy’s better than
anything,” boomed Yashvin.  “Tereshtchenko!
brandy for your master and cucumbers,” he shouted,
obviously taking pleasure in the sound of his own
voice.

“Brandy, do you think? 
Eh?” queried Petritsky, blinking and rubbing
his eyes.  “And you’ll drink something? 
All right then, we’ll have a drink together! 
Vronsky, have a drink?” said Petritsky, getting
up and wrapping the tiger-skin rug round him. 
He went to the door of the partition wall, raised his
hands, and hummed in French, “There was a king
in Thule.”  “Vronsky, will you have
a drink?”

“Go along,” said Vronsky,
putting on the coat his valet handed to him.

“Where are you off to?”
asked Yashvin.  “Oh, here are your three
horses,” he added, seeing the carriage drive
up.

“To the stables, and I’ve
got to see Bryansky, too, about the horses,”
said Vronsky.

Vronsky had as a fact promised to
call at Bryansky’s, some eight miles from Peterhof,
and to bring him some money owing for some horses;
and he hoped to have time to get that in too. 
But his comrades were at once aware that he was not
only going there.

Petritsky, still humming, winked and
made a pout with his lips, as though he would say: 
“Oh, yes, we know your Bryansky.”

“Mind you’re not late!”
was Yashvin’s only comment; and to change the
conversation:  “How’s my roan? is he
doing all right?” he inquired, looking out of
the window at the middle one of the three horses,
which he had sold Vronsky.

“Stop!” cried Petritsky
to Vronsky as he was just going out.  “Your
brother left a letter and a note for you.  Wait
a bit; where are they?”

Vronsky stopped.

“Well, where are they?”

“Where are they?  That’s
just the question!” said Petritsky solemnly,
moving his forefinger upwards from his nose.

“Come, tell me; this is silly!” said Vronsky
smiling.

“I have not lighted the fire.  Here somewhere
about.”

“Come, enough fooling!  Where is the letter?”

“No, I’ve forgotten really. 
Or was it a dream?  Wait a bit, wait a bit! 
But what’s the use of getting in a rage. 
If you’d drunk four bottles yesterday as I
did you’d forget where you were lying. 
Wait a bit, I’ll remember!”

Petritsky went behind the partition and lay down on
his bed.

“Wait a bit!  This was
how I was lying, and this was how he was standing. 
Yes ­yes ­yes….  Here it
is!” ­and Petritsky pulled a letter
out from under the mattress, where he had hidden it.

Vronsky took the letter and his brother’s
note.  It was the letter he was expecting ­from
his mother, reproaching him for not having been to
see her ­and the note was from his brother
to say that he must have a little talk with him. 
Vronsky knew that it was all about the same thing. 
“What business is it of theirs!” thought
Vronsky, and crumpling up the letters he thrust them
between the buttons of his coat so as to read them
carefully on the road.  In the porch of the hut
he was met by two officers; one of his regiment and
one of another.

Vronsky’s quarters were always
a meeting place for all the officers.

“Where are you off to?”

“I must go to Peterhof.”

“Has the mare come from Tsarskoe?”

“Yes, but I’ve not seen her yet.”

“They say Mahotin’s Gladiator’s
lame.”

“Nonsense!  But however
are you going to race in this mud?” said the
other.

“Here are my saviors!”
cried Petritsky, seeing them come in.  Before
him stood the orderly with a tray of brandy and salted
cucumbers.  “Here’s Yashvin ordering
me to drink a pick-me-up.”

“Well, you did give it to us
yesterday,” said one of those who had come in;
“you didn’t let us get a wink of sleep
all night.”

“Oh, didn’t we make a
pretty finish!” said Petritsky.  “Volkov
climbed onto the roof and began telling us how sad
he was.  I said:  ‘Let’s have
music, the funeral march!’ He fairly dropped
asleep on the roof over the funeral march.”

“Drink it up; you positively
must drink the brandy, and then seltzer water and
a lot of lemon,” said Yashvin, standing over
Petritsky like a mother making a child take medicine,
“and then a little champagne ­just
a small bottle.”

“Come, there’s some sense
in that.  Stop a bit, Vronsky.  We’ll
all have a drink.”

“No; good-bye all of you. 
I’m not going to drink today.”

“Why, are you gaining weight? 
All right, then we must have it alone.  Give
us the seltzer water and lemon.”

“Vronsky!” shouted someone
when he was already outside.

“Well?”

“You’d better get your
hair cut, it’ll weigh you down, especially at
the top.”

Vronsky was in fact beginning, prematurely,
to get a little bald.  He laughed gaily, showing
his even teeth, and pulling his cap over the thin
place, went out and got into his carriage.

“To the stables!” he said,
and was just pulling out the letters to read them
through, but he thought better of it, and put off
reading them so as not to distract his attention before
looking at the mare.  “Later!”

 

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