The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 266 pages of information about The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories.
not Spain, and a man’s appearance is not of much consequence even in love affairs, and is only of value to a handsome footman or coachman.  I have spoken of Orlov’s face and hair only because there was something in his appearance worth mentioning.  When Orlov took a newspaper or book, whatever it might be, or met people, whoever they be, an ironical smile began to come into his eyes, and his whole countenance assumed an expression of light mockery in which there was no malice.  Before reading or hearing anything he always had his irony in readiness, as a savage has his shield.  It was an habitual irony, like some old liquor brewed years ago, and now it came into his face probably without any participation of his will, as it were by reflex action.  But of that later.

Soon after midday he took his portfolio, full of papers, and drove to his office.  He dined away from home and returned after eight o’clock.  I used to light the lamp and candles in his study, and he would sit down in a low chair with his legs stretched out on another chair, and, reclining in that position, would begin reading.  Almost every day he brought in new books with him or received parcels of them from the shops, and there were heaps of books in three languages, to say nothing of Russian, which he had read and thrown away, in the corners of my room and under my bed.  He read with extraordinary rapidity.  They say:  “Tell me what you read, and I’ll tell you who you are.”  That may be true, but it was absolutely impossible to judge of Orlov by what he read.  It was a regular hotchpotch.  Philosophy, French novels, political economy, finance, new poets, and publications of the firm Posrednik*—­and he read it all with the same rapidity and with the same ironical expression in his eyes.

* I.e., Tchertkov and others, publishers of Tolstoy, who issued good literature for peasants’ reading.

After ten o’clock he carefully dressed, often in evening dress, very rarely in his kammer-junker’s uniform, and went out, returning in the morning.

Our relations were quiet and peaceful, and we never had any misunderstanding.  As a rule he did not notice my presence, and when he talked to me there was no expression of irony on his face—­he evidently did not look upon me as a human being.

I only once saw him angry.  One day—­it was a week after I had entered his service—­he came back from some dinner at nine o’clock; his face looked ill-humoured and exhausted.  When I followed him into his study to light the candles, he said to me: 

“There’s a nasty smell in the flat.”

“No, the air is fresh,” I answered.

“I tell you, there’s a bad smell,” he answered irritably.

“I open the movable panes every day.”

“Don’t argue, blockhead!” he shouted.

I was offended, and was on the point of answering, and goodness knows how it would have ended if Polya, who knew her master better than I did, had not intervened.

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