The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 216 pages of information about The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories.

“My God!” he said in French.  “Have you really nothing fresher to tell me than this everlasting tale of your servant’s misdeeds?”

“But, my dear, she robbed me and said insulting things to me.”

“But why is it she doesn’t rob me or say insulting things to me?  Why is it I never notice the maids nor the porters nor the footmen?  My dear, you are simply capricious and refuse to know your own mind . . . .  I really begin to suspect that you must be in a certain condition.  When I offered to let her go, you insisted on her remaining, and now you want me to turn her away.  I can be obstinate, too, in such cases.  You want her to go, but I want her to remain.  That’s the only way to cure you of your nerves.”

“Oh, very well, very well,” said Zinaida Fyodorovna in alarm.  “Let us say no more about that. . . .  Let us put it off till to-morrow . . . .  Now tell me about Moscow. . . .  What is going on in Moscow?”

X

After lunch next day—­it was the seventh of January, St. John the Baptist’s Day—­Orlov put on his black dress coat and his decoration to go to visit his father and congratulate him on his name day.  He had to go at two o’clock, and it was only half-past one when he had finished dressing.  What was he to do for that half-hour?  He walked about the drawing-room, declaiming some congratulatory verses which he had recited as a child to his father and mother.

Zinaida Fyodorovna, who was just going out to a dressmaker’s or to the shops, was sitting, listening to him with a smile.  I don’t know how their conversation began, but when I took Orlov his gloves, he was standing before her with a capricious, beseeching face, saying: 

“For God’s sake, in the name of everything that’s holy, don’t talk of things that everybody knows!  What an unfortunate gift our intellectual thoughtful ladies have for talking with enthusiasm and an air of profundity of things that every schoolboy is sick to death of!  Ah, if only you would exclude from our conjugal programme all these serious questions!  How grateful I should be to you!”

“We women may not dare, it seems, to have views of our own.”

“I give you full liberty to be as liberal as you like, and quote from any authors you choose, but make me one concession:  don’t hold forth in my presence on either of two subjects:  the corruption of the upper classes and the evils of the marriage system.  Do understand me, at last.  The upper class is always abused in contrast with the world of tradesmen, priests, workmen and peasants, Sidors and Nikitas of all sorts.  I detest both classes, but if I had honestly to choose between the two, I should without hesitation, prefer the upper class, and there would be no falsity or affectation about it, since all my tastes are in that direction.  Our world is trivial and empty, but at any rate we speak French decently, read something, and don’t punch each other in the ribs even in our most violent quarrels, while the Sidors and the Nikitas and their worships in trade talk about ‘being quite agreeable,’ ‘in a jiffy,’ ‘blast your eyes,’ and display the utmost license of pothouse manners and the most degrading superstition.”

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The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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