The Party eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 257 pages of information about The Party.

And he gave her a hundred roubles.  She took the money, but she did not consult any one when she ordered the ball dress; she spoke to no one but her father, and tried to imagine how her mother would have dressed for a ball.  Her mother had always dressed in the latest fashion and had always taken trouble over Anna, dressing her elegantly like a doll, and had taught her to speak French and dance the mazurka superbly (she had been a governess for five years before her marriage).  Like her mother, Anna could make a new dress out of an old one, clean gloves with benzine, hire jewels; and, like her mother, she knew how to screw up her eyes, lisp, assume graceful attitudes, fly into raptures when necessary, and throw a mournful and enigmatic look into her eyes.  And from her father she had inherited the dark colour of her hair and eyes, her highly-strung nerves, and the habit of always making herself look her best.

When, half an hour before setting off for the ball, Modest Alexeitch went into her room without his coat on, to put his order round his neck before her pier-glass, dazzled by her beauty and the splendour of her fresh, ethereal dress, he combed his whiskers complacently and said: 

“So that’s what my wife can look like . . . so that’s what you can look like!  Anyuta!” he went on, dropping into a tone of solemnity, “I have made your fortune, and now I beg you to do something for mine.  I beg you to get introduced to the wife of His Excellency!  For God’s sake, do!  Through her I may get the post of senior reporting clerk!”

They went to the ball.  They reached the Hall of Nobility, the entrance with the hall porter.  They came to the vestibule with the hat-stands, the fur coats; footmen scurrying about, and ladies with low necks putting up their fans to screen themselves from the draughts.  There was a smell of gas and of soldiers.  When Anna, walking upstairs on her husband’s arm, heard the music and saw herself full length in the looking-glass in the full glow of the lights, there was a rush of joy in her heart, and she felt the same presentiment of happiness as in the moonlight at the station.  She walked in proudly, confidently, for the first time feeling herself not a girl but a lady, and unconsciously imitating her mother in her walk and in her manner.  And for the first time in her life she felt rich and free.  Even her husband’s presence did not oppress her, for as she crossed the threshold of the hall she had guessed instinctively that the proximity of an old husband did not detract from her in the least, but, on the contrary, gave her that shade of piquant mystery that is so attractive to men.  The orchestra was already playing and the dances had begun.  After their flat Anna was overwhelmed by the lights, the bright colours, the music, the noise, and looking round the room, thought, “Oh, how lovely!” She at once distinguished in the crowd all her acquaintances, every one she had met before at parties or on picnics—­all

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The Party from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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