The Duel and Other Stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 272 pages of information about The Duel and Other Stories.
in the world!  It was true that Laevsky was flighty, dissipated, queer, but he did not steal, did not spit loudly on the floor; he did not abuse his wife and say, “You’ll eat till you burst, but you don’t want to work;” he would not beat a child with reins, or give his servants stinking meat to eat—­ surely this was reason enough to be indulgent to him?  Besides, he was the chief sufferer from his failings, like a sick man from his sores.  Instead of being led by boredom and some sort of misunderstanding to look for degeneracy, extinction, heredity, and other such incomprehensible things in each other, would they not do better to stoop a little lower and turn their hatred and anger where whole streets resounded with moanings from coarse ignorance, greed, scolding, impurity, swearing, the shrieks of women. . . .

The sound of a carriage interrupted the deacon’s thoughts.  He glanced out of the door and saw a carriage and in it three persons:  Laevsky, Sheshkovsky, and the superintendent of the post-office.

“Stop!” said Sheshkovsky.

All three got out of the carriage and looked at one another.

“They are not here yet,” said Sheshkovsky, shaking the mud off.  “Well?  Till the show begins, let us go and find a suitable spot; there’s not room to turn round here.”

They went further up the river and soon vanished from sight.  The Tatar driver sat in the carriage with his head resting on his shoulder and fell asleep.  After waiting ten minutes the deacon came out of the drying-shed, and taking off his black hat that he might not be noticed, he began threading his way among the bushes and strips of maize along the bank, crouching and looking about him.  The grass and maize were wet, and big drops fell on his head from the trees and bushes.  “Disgraceful!” he muttered, picking up his wet and muddy skirt.  “Had I realised it, I would not have come.”

Soon he heard voices and caught sight of them.  Laevsky was walking rapidly to and fro in the small glade with bowed back and hands thrust in his sleeves; his seconds were standing at the water’s edge, rolling cigarettes.

“Strange,” thought the deacon, not recognising Laevsky’s walk; “he looks like an old man. . . .”

“How rude it is of them!” said the superintendent of the post-office, looking at his watch.  “It may be learned manners to be late, but to my thinking it’s hoggish.”

Sheshkovsky, a stout man with a black beard, listened and said: 

“They’re coming!”

XIX

“It’s the first time in my life I’ve seen it!  How glorious!” said Von Koren, pointing to the glade and stretching out his hands to the east.  “Look:  green rays!”

In the east behind the mountains rose two green streaks of light, and it really was beautiful.  The sun was rising.

“Good-morning!” the zoologist went on, nodding to Laevsky’s seconds.  “I’m not late, am I?”

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