The Secret City eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 480 pages of information about The Secret City.

I was conscious also of Petrograd, of the town itself, in every one of its amazingly various manifestations.  I saw it all laid out as though I were a great height above it—­the fashionable streets, the Nevski and the Morskaia with the carriages and the motor-cars and trams, the kiosks and the bazaars, the women with their baskets of apples, the boys with the newspapers, the smart cinematographs, the shop in the Morskaia with the coloured stones in the window, the oculist and the pastry-cook’s and the hairdressers and the large “English shop” at the corner of the Nevski, and Pivato’s the restaurant, and close beside it the art shop with popular post cards and books on Serov and Vrubel, and the Astoria Hotel with its shining windows staring on to S. Isaac’s Square.  And I saw the Nevski, that straight and proud street, filled with every kind of vehicle and black masses of people, rolling like thick clouds up and down, here and there, the hum of their talk rising like mist from the snow.  And there was the Kazan Cathedral, haughty and proud, and the book shop with the French books and complete sets of Tchekov and Merejkowsky in the window, and the bridges and the palaces and the square before the Alexander Theatre, and Elisseieff’s the provision shop, and all the banks, and the shops with gloves and shirts, all looking ill-fitting as though they were never meant to be worn, and then the little dirty shops poked in between the grand ones, the shop with rubber goods and the shop with an Aquarium, gold-fish and snails and a tortoise, and the shop with oranges and bananas.  Then, too, there was the Arcade with the theatre where they acted Romance and Potash and Perlmutter (almost as they do in London), and on the other side of the street, at the corner of the Sadovia, the bazaar with all its shops and its trembling mist of people.  I watched the Nevski, and saw how it slipped into the Neva with the Red Square on one side of it, and S. Isaac’s Square on the other, and the great station at the far end of it, and about these two lines the Neva and the Nevski, the whole town sprawled and crept, ebbed and flowed.  Away from the splendour it stretched, dirty and decrepit and untended, here piles of evil flats, there old wooden buildings with cobbled courts, and the canals twisting and creeping up and down through it all.  It was all bathed, as I looked down upon it, in coloured mist.  The air was purple and gold and light blue, fading into the snow and ice and transforming it.  Everywhere there were the masts of ships and the smell of the sea and rough deserted places—­and shadows moved behind the shadows, and yet more shadows behind them, so that it was all uncertain and unstable, and only the river knew what it was about.

Over the whole town Semyonov and I moved together, and the ice and snow silenced our steps, and no one in the whole place spoke a word, so that we had to lower our voices and whispered....


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The Secret City from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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