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The Darling and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 215 pages of information about The Darling and Other Stories.

“What are you saying, mamam?” said Manetchka, embarrassed.  “Our visitor might suppose . . . there’s no knowing what he might suppose . . . .  I shall never—­never marry.”

Manetchka cast her eyes up to the ceiling with a look of hope and aspiration, evidently not for a moment believing what she said.

A little bald-headed masculine figure in a brown coat and goloshes instead of boots darted like a mouse across the passage and disappeared.  “Yegor Semyonitch, I suppose,” I thought.

I looked at the mother and daughter together.  They both looked much older and terribly changed.  The mother’s hair was silvered, but the daughter was so faded and withered that her mother might have been taken for her elder sister, not more than five years her senior.

“I have made up my mind to go to the Marshal,” the mother said to me, forgetting she had told me this already.  “I mean to make a complaint.  Yegor Semyonitch lays his hands on everything we make, and offers it up for the sake of his soul.  My Manetchka is left without a trousseau.”

Manetchka flushed again, but this time she said nothing.

“We have to make them all over again.  And God knows we are not so well off.  We are all alone in the world now.”

“We are alone in the world,” repeated Manetchka.

A year ago fate brought me once more to the little house.

Walking into the drawing-room, I saw the old lady.  Dressed all in black with heavy crape pleureuses, she was sitting on the sofa sewing.  Beside her sat the little old man in the brown coat and the goloshes instead of boots.  On seeing me, he jumped up and ran out of the room.

In response to my greeting, the old lady smiled and said: 

"Je suis charmee de vous revoir, monsieur."

“What are you making?” I asked, a little later.

“It’s a blouse.  When it’s finished I shall take it to the priest’s to be put away, or else Yegor Semyonitch would carry it off.  I store everything at the priest’s now,” she added in a whisper.

And looking at the portrait of her daughter which stood before her on the table, she sighed and said: 

“We are all alone in the world.”

And where was the daughter?  Where was Manetchka?  I did not ask.  I did not dare to ask the old mother dressed in her new deep mourning.  And while I was in the room, and when I got up to go, no Manetchka came out to greet me.  I did not hear her voice, nor her soft, timid footstep. . . .

I understood, and my heart was heavy.

THE HELPMATE

“I’VE asked you not to tidy my table,” said Nikolay Yevgrafitch.  “There’s no finding anything when you’ve tidied up.  Where’s the telegram?  Where have you thrown it?  Be so good as to look for it.  It’s from Kazan, dated yesterday.”

The maid—­a pale, very slim girl with an indifferent expression —­found several telegrams in the basket under the table, and handed them to the doctor without a word; but all these were telegrams from patients.  Then they looked in the drawing-room, and in Olga Dmitrievna’s room.

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