Anna Karenina By Leo Tolstoy

Russian Literature – Children Books – Russian Poetry – Leo Tolstoy – Anna Karenina – Contents

< < < Chapters 25
Chapters 27 > > >

Part 5

Chapter 26

“Well, Kapitonich?” said Seriozha, coming back rosy and good-humored from his walk the day before his birthday, and giving his Russian plaited overcoat to the tall old hall porter, who smiled down at the little person from the height of his long figure. “Well, has the bandaged official been here today? Did papa see him?”

“He saw him. The minute the head clerk came out, I announced him,” said the hall porter with a good-humored wink. “Here, I’ll take it off.”

“Seriozha!” said his Slavonic tutor, stopping in the doorway leading to the inner rooms. “Take it off yourself.” But Seriozha, though he heard the tutor’s feeble voice, did not pay attention to it. He stood keeping hold of the hall porter’s shoulder knot and gazing into his face.

“Well, and did papa do what he wanted for him?”

The hall porter nodded his head affirmatively.

The bandaged official, who had already been seven times to ask some favor of Alexei Alexandrovich, interested both Seriozha and the hall porter. Seriozha had come upon him in the hall, and had heard him plaintively beg the hall porter to announce him, saying that he and his children had death staring them in the face.

Since then Seriozha, having met him a second time in the hall, took great interest in him.

“Well, was he very glad?” he asked.

“Glad? I should think so! Almost dancing as he walked away.”

“And has anything been left for me?” asked Seriozha, after a pause.

“Come, sir,” said the hall porter; then with a shake of his head he whispered: “Something from the Countess.”

Seriozha understood at once that what the hall porter was speaking of was a present from Countess Lidia Ivanovna for his birthday.

“You don’t say? Where?”

“Kornei took it to your papa. A fine plaything it must be, too!”

“How big? Like this?”

“Rather small, but a fine thing.”

“A book?”

“No-something else. Run along, run along, Vassilii Lukich is calling you,” said the porter, hearing the tutor’s steps approaching, and, carefully taking away from his shoulder knot the little hand in the glove half-pulled off, he indicated with his head Lukich, the tutor.

“Vassilii Lukich, I’m coming in one tiny minute!” answered Seriozha with gay and loving smile which always won over the careful Vassilii Lukich.

Seriozha was too happy; everything was too delightful for him to be able to help sharing with his friend the porter the family good fortune, of which he had heard from Lidia Ivanovna’s niece during his walk in the public gardens. This piece of good news seemed to him particularly important from its coming at the same time with the joy of the bandaged official, and his own joy at toys having come for him. It seemed to Seriozha that this was a day on which everyone ought to be glad and happy.

“You know papa’s received the order of Alexandre Nevsky today?”

“To be sure I do! People have already been here to congratulate him.”

“And is he glad?”

“Glad at the Czar’s gracious favor? I should think so! It’s a proof he’s deserved it,” said the porter sternly and seriously.

Seriozha fell to musing, gazing up at the face of the porter, which he had thoroughly studied in every detail, especially at his chin, which hung down between the gray whiskers- never seen by anyone but Seriozha, who saw him only from below.

“Well, and has your daughter been to see you lately?”

The porter’s daughter was a ballet dancer.

“When is she to come on weekdays? They’ve their lessons to learn, too. And you’ve your lesson, sir; run along.”

On coming into the room Seriozha, instead of sitting down to his lessons, told his tutor of his supposition that what had been brought him must be a toy railway. “What do you think?” he inquired.

But Vassilii Lukich was thinking of nothing but the necessity of learning the grammar lesson for the teacher, who was coming at two.

“No, do just tell me, Vassilii Lukich,” he asked suddenly, when he was seated at their worktable with the book in his hands, “what is greater than the Alexandre Nevsky? You know papa’s received the Alexandre Nevsky?”

Vassilii Lukich replied that the Vladimir was greater than the Alexandre Nevsky.

“And higher still?”

“Well, highest of all is the Andrei Pervozvanny.”

“And higher than the Andrei?”

“I don’t know.”

“What- you don’t know?” And Seriozha, leaning on his elbows, sank into deep meditation.

His meditations were of the most complex and diverse character. He imagined his father’s having been suddenly presented with both the Vladimir and the Andrei today, and in consequence being much better tempered at his lesson; and dreamed how, when he was grown up, he would himself receive all the orders, and what might be invented higher than the Andrei. Directly any higher order were invented, he would win it. They would make a higher one still, and he would immediately win that too.

The time passed in such meditations, and when the teacher came, the lesson about the adverbs of place and time and manner of action was not ready, and the teacher was not only displeased, but hurt. This touched Seriozha. He felt he was not to blame for not having learned the lesson; however much he tried, he was utterly unable to do it. As long as the teacher was explaining to him, he believed him and seemed to comprehend, but as soon as he was left alone, he was positively unable to recollect and to understand that the short and familiar word “suddenly” is an adverb of manner of action. Still he was sorry that he had disappointed the teacher, and he was anxious to comfort him.

He chose a moment when the teacher was looking in silence at the book.

“Mikhail Ivanich, when is your birthday?” he asked, all of a sudden.

“You’d much better be thinking about your work. Birthdays are of no importance to a rational being. It’s a day like any other, on which one has to do one’s work.”

Seriozha looked intently at the teacher, at his scanty beard, at his spectacles, which had slipped down below the ridge on his nose, and fell into so deep a reverie that he heard nothing of what the teacher was explaining to him. He knew that the teacher did not think what he had said- he felt it from the tone in which it was said. “But why have they all agreed to speak, just in the same manner, always the dreariest and most useless stuff? Why does he keep me off; why doesn’t he love me?” he asked himself mournfully, and could not think of an answer.

< < < Chapters 25
Chapters 27 > > >

Russian Literature – Children Books – Russian Poetry – Leo Tolstoy – Anna Karenina – Contents

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