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A Reckless Character eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about A Reckless Character.

Did Valeria see all this?  The shutters of her windows were closed ... but perhaps she was standing behind them.

XIV

At dinner-time she entered the dining-room, and was very quiet and affectionate; but she still complained of being weary.  Yet there was no agitation about her, nor any of her former constant surprise and secret fear; and when, on the day after Muzio’s departure, Fabio again set about her portrait, he found in her features that pure expression, the temporary eclipse of which had so disturbed him ... and his brush flew lightly and confidently over the canvas.

Husband and wife began to live their life as of yore.  Muzio had vanished for them as though he had never existed.  And both Fabio and Valeria seemed to have entered into a compact not to recall him by a single sound, not to inquire about his further fate; and it remained a mystery for all others as well.  Muzio really did vanish, as though he had sunk through the earth.  One day Fabio thought himself bound to relate to Valeria precisely what had occurred on that fateful night ... but she, probably divining his intention, held her breath, and her eyes narrowed as though she were anticipating a blow....  And Fabio understood her:  he did not deal her that blow.

One fine autumnal day Fabio was putting the finishing touches to the picture of his Cecilia; Valeria was sitting at the organ, and her fingers were wandering over the keys....  Suddenly, contrary to her own volition, from beneath her fingers rang out that Song of Love Triumphant which Muzio had once played,—­and at that same instant, for the first time since her marriage, she felt within her the palpitation of a new, germinating life....  Valeria started and stopped short....

What was the meaning of this?  Could it be....

With this word the manuscript came to an end.

CLARA MILITCH

A TALE

(1882)

I

In the spring of 1878 there lived in Moscow, in a small wooden house on Shabolovka Street, a young man five-and-twenty years of age, Yakoff Aratoff by name.  With him lived his aunt, an old maid, over fifty years of age, his father’s sister, Platonida Ivanovna.  She managed his housekeeping and took charge of his expenditures, of which Aratoff was utterly incapable.  He had no other relations.  Several years before, his father, a petty and not wealthy noble of the T——­ government, had removed to Moscow, together with him and Platonida Ivanovna who, by the way, was always called Platosha; and her nephew called her so too.  When he quitted the country where all of them had constantly dwelt hitherto, old Aratoff had settled in the capital with the object of placing his son in the university, for which he had himself prepared him; he purchased for a trifling sum a small house

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