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.
married already, and their domestic life was conspicuous for its dreariness and triviality; others were uninteresting, colourless, unintelligent, immoral.  Laptev was, anyway, a Moscow man, had taken his degree at the university, spoke French.  He lived in the capital, where there were lots of clever, noble, remarkable people; where there was noise and bustle, splendid theatres, musical evenings, first-rate dressmakers, confectioners. . . .  In the Bible it was written that a wife must love her husband, and great importance was given to love in novels, but wasn’t there exaggeration in it?  Was it out of the question to enter upon married life without love?  It was said, of course, that love soon passed away, and that nothing was left but habit, and that the object of married life was not to be found in love, nor in happiness, but in duties, such as the bringing up of one’s children, the care of one’s household, and so on.  And perhaps what was meant in the Bible was love for one’s husband as one’s neighbour, respect for him, charity.

At night Yulia Sergeyevna read the evening prayers attentively, then knelt down, and pressing her hands to her bosom, gazing at the flame of the lamp before the ikon, said with feeling: 

“Give me understanding, Holy Mother, our Defender!  Give me understanding, O Lord!”

She had in the course of her life come across elderly maiden ladies, poor and of no consequence in the world, who bitterly repented and openly confessed their regret that they had refused suitors in the past.  Would not the same thing happen to her?  Had not she better go into a convent or become a Sister of Mercy?

She undressed and got into bed, crossing herself and crossing the air around her.  Suddenly the bell rang sharply and plaintively in the corridor.

“Oh, my God!” she said, feeling a nervous irritation all over her at the sound.  She lay still and kept thinking how poor this provincial life was in events, monotonous and yet not peaceful.  One was constantly having to tremble, to feel apprehensive, angry or guilty, and in the end one’s nerves were so strained, that one was afraid to peep out of the bedclothes.

A little while afterwards the bell rang just as sharply again.  The servant must have been asleep and had not heard.  Yulia Sergeyevna lighted a candle, and feeling vexed with the servant, began with a shiver to dress, and when she went out into the corridor, the maid was already closing the door downstairs.

“I thought it was the master, but it’s some one from a patient,” she said.

Yulia Sergeyevna went back to her room.  She took a pack of cards out of the chest of drawers, and decided that if after shuffling the cards well and cutting, the bottom card turned out to be a red one, it would mean yes—­that is, she would accept Laptev’s offer; and that if it was a black, it would mean no.  The card turned out to be the ten of spades.

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The Darling and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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