Anna Karenina eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,311 pages of information about Anna Karenina.

“And after what you said, just now!  Well, the young men go in to their comrade’s; he was giving a farewell dinner.  There they certainly did drink a little too much, as one always does at farewell dinners.  And at dinner they inquire who lives at the top in that house.  No one knows; only their host’s valet, in answer to their inquiry whether any ‘young ladies’ are living on the top floor, answered that there were a great many of them about there.  After dinner the two young men go into their host’s study, and write a letter to the unknown fair one.  They compose an ardent epistle, a declaration in fact, and they carry the letter upstairs themselves, so as to elucidate whatever might appear not perfectly intelligible in the letter.”

“Why are you telling me these horrible stories?  Well?”

“They ring.  A maidservant opens the door, they hand her the letter, and assure the maid that they’re both so in love that they’ll die on the spot at the door.  The maid, stupefied, carries in their messages.  All at once a gentleman appears with whiskers like sausages, as red as a lobster, announces that there is no one living in the flat except his wife, and sends them both about their business.”

“How do you know he had whiskers like sausages, as you say?”

“Ah, you shall hear.  I’ve just been to make peace between them.”

“Well, and what then?”

“That’s the most interesting part of the story.  It appears that it’s a happy couple, a government clerk and his lady.  The government clerk lodges a complaint, and I became a mediator, and such a mediator!...  I assure you Talleyrand couldn’t hold a candle to me.”

“Why, where was the difficulty?”

“Ah, you shall hear....  We apologize in due form:  we are in despair, we entreat forgiveness for the unfortunate misunderstanding.  The government clerk with the sausages begins to melt, but he, too, desires to express his sentiments, and as soon as ever he begins to express them, he begins to get hot and say nasty things, and again I’m obliged to trot out all my diplomatic talents.  I allowed that their conduct was bad, but I urged him to take into consideration their heedlessness, their youth; then, too, the young men had only just been lunching together.  ’You understand.  They regret it deeply, and beg you to overlook their misbehavior.’  The government clerk was softened once more.  ’I consent, count, and am ready to overlook it; but you perceive that my wife—­my wife’s a respectable woman —­has been exposed to the persecution, and insults, and effrontery of young upstarts, scoundrels....’  And you must understand, the young upstarts are present all the while, and I have to keep the peace between them.  Again I call out all my diplomacy, and again as soon as the thing was about at an end, our friend the government clerk gets hot and red, and his sausages stand on end with wrath, and once more I launch out into diplomatic wiles.”

Project Gutenberg
Anna Karenina from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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