Best Russian Short Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 283 pages of information about Best Russian Short Stories.

IV

The next day Serafima Aleksandrovna, absorbed in her joyous cares for Lelechka, had forgotten Fedosya’s words of the day before.

But when she returned to the nursery, after having ordered the dinner, and she heard Lelechka suddenly cry "Tiu-tiu!" from under the table, a feeling of fear suddenly took hold of her.  Though she reproached herself at once for this unfounded, superstitious dread, nevertheless she could not enter wholeheartedly into the spirit of Lelechka’s favourite game, and she tried to divert Lelechka’s attention to something else.

Lelechka was a lovely and obedient child.  She eagerly complied with her mother’s new wishes.  But as she had got into the habit of hiding from her mother in some corner, and of crying out "Tiu-tiu!" so even that day she returned more than once to the game.

Serafima Aleksandrovna tried desperately to amuse Lelechka.  This was not so easy because restless, threatening thoughts obtruded themselves constantly.

“Why does Lelechka keep on recalling the tiu-tiu?  Why does she not get tired of the same thing—­of eternally closing her eyes, and of hiding her face?  Perhaps,” thought Serafima Aleksandrovna, “she is not as strongly drawn to the world as other children, who are attracted by many things.  If this is so, is it not a sign of organic weakness?  Is it not a germ of the unconscious non-desire to live?”

Serafima Aleksandrovna was tormented by presentiments.  She felt ashamed of herself for ceasing to play hide and seek with Lelechka before Fedosya.  But this game had become agonising to her, all the more agonising because she had a real desire to play it, and because something drew her very strongly to hide herself from Lelechka and to seek out the hiding child.  Serafima Aleksandrovna herself began the game once or twice, though she played it with a heavy heart.  She suffered as though committing an evil deed with full consciousness.

It was a sad day for Serafima Aleksandrovna.

V

Lelechka was about to fall asleep.  No sooner had she climbed into her little bed, protected by a network on all sides, than her eyes began to close from fatigue.  Her mother covered her with a blue blanket.  Lelechka drew her sweet little hands from under the blanket and stretched them out to embrace her mother.  Her mother bent down.  Lelechka, with a tender expression on her sleepy face, kissed her mother and let her head fall on the pillow.  As her hands hid themselves under the blanket Lelechka whispered:  “The hands tiu-tiu!

The mother’s heart seemed to stop—­Lelechka lay there so small, so frail, so quiet.  Lelechka smiled gently, closed her eyes and said quietly:  “The eyes tiu-tiu!

Then even more quietly:  “Lelechka tiu-tiu!

With these words she fell asleep, her face pressing the pillow.  She seemed so small and so frail under the blanket that covered her.  Her mother looked at her with sad eyes.

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Best Russian Short Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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