Anna karenina, p.150
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       Anna Karenina, p.150

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 26

  "Well, Kapitonitch?" said Seryozha, coming back rosy and good-humoredfrom his walk the day before his birthday, and giving his overcoat tothe tall old hall porter, who smiled down at the little person from theheight of his long figure. "Well, has the bandaged clerk been heretoday? Did papa see him?"

  "He saw him. The minute the chief secretary came out, I announced him,"said the hall porter with a good-humored wink. "Here, I'll take it off."

  "Seryozha!" said the tutor, stopping in the doorway leading to the innerrooms. "Take it off yourself." But Seryozha, though he heard his tutor'sfeeble voice, did not pay attention to it. He stood keeping hold of thehall porter's belt, and gazing into his face.

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

  The hall porter nodded his head affirmatively. The clerk with his facetied up, who had already been seven times to ask some favor of AlexeyAlexandrovitch, interested both Seryozha and the hall porter. Seryozhahad come upon him in the hall, and had heard him plaintively beg thehall porter to announce him, saying that he and his children had deathstaring them in the face.

  Since then Seryozha, having met him a second time in the hall, tookgreat 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?" asked Seryozha, after a pause.

  "Come, sir," said the hall-porter; then with a shake of his head hewhispered, "Something from the countess."

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

  "What do you say? Where?"

  "Korney 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, a thing. Run along, run along, Vassily Lukitch is calling you,"said the porter, hearing the tutor's steps approaching, and carefullytaking away from his belt the little hand in the glove half pulled off,he signed with his head towards the tutor.

  "Vassily Lukitch, in a tiny minute!" answered Seryozha with that gay andloving smile which always won over the conscientious Vassily Lukitch.

  Seryozha was too happy, everything was too delightful for him to be ableto help sharing with his friend the porter the family good fortune ofwhich he had heard during his walk in the public gardens from LidiaIvanovna's niece. This piece of good news seemed to him particularlyimportant from its coming at the same time with the gladness of thebandaged clerk and his own gladness at toys having come for him. Itseemed to Seryozha that this was a day on which everyone ought to beglad and happy.

  "You know papa's received the Alexander Nevsky today?"

  "To be sure I do! People have been already to congratulate him."

  "And is he glad?"

  "Glad at the Tsar's gracious favor! I should think so! It's a proof he'sdeserved it," said the porter severely and seriously.

  Seryozha fell to dreaming, gazing up at the face of the porter, which hehad thoroughly studied in every detail, especially the chin that hungdown between the gray whiskers, never seen by anyone but Seryozha, whosaw 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 week-days? They've their lessons to learn too.And you've your lesson, sir; run along."

  On coming into the room, Seryozha, instead of sitting down to hislessons, told his tutor of his supposition that what had been broughthim must be a machine. "What do you think?" he inquired.

  But Vassily Lukitch was thinking of nothing but the necessity oflearning the grammar lesson for the teacher, who was coming at two.

  "No, do just tell me, Vassily Lukitch," he asked suddenly, when he wasseated at their work table with the book in his hands, "what is greaterthan the Alexander Nevsky? You know papa's received the AlexanderNevsky?"

  Vassily Lukitch replied that the Vladimir was greater than the AlexanderNevsky.

  "And higher still?"

  "Well, highest of all is the Andrey Pervozvanny."

  "And higher than the Andrey?"

  "I don't know."

  "What, you don't know?" and Seryozha, leaning on his elbows, sank intodeep meditation.

  His meditations were of the most complex and diverse character. Heimagined his father's having suddenly been presented with both theVladimir and the Andrey today, and in consequence being much bettertempered at his lesson, and dreamed how, when he was grown up, he wouldhimself receive all the orders, and what they might invent higher thanthe Andrey. Directly any higher order were invented, he would win it.They would make a higher one still, and he would immediately win thattoo.

  The time passed in such meditations, and when the teacher came, thelesson about the adverbs of place and time and manner of action was notready, and the teacher was not only displeased, but hurt. This touchedSeryozha. He felt he was not to blame for not having learned the lesson;however much he tried, he was utterly unable to do that. As long as theteacher was explaining to him, he believed him and seemed to comprehend,but as soon as he was left alone, he was positively unable to recollectand to understand that the short and familiar word "suddenly" is anadverb of manner of action. Still he was sorry that he had disappointedthe teacher.

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

  "Mihail Ivanitch, when is your birthday?" he asked all, of a sudden.

  "You'd much better be thinking about your work. Birthdays are of noimportance to a rational being. It's a day like any other on which onehas to do one's work."

  Seryozha looked intently at the teacher, at his scanty beard, at hisspectacles, which had slipped down below the ridge on his nose, and fellinto so deep a reverie that he heard nothing of what the teacher wasexplaining to him. He knew that the teacher did not think what he said;he felt it from the tone in which it was said. "But why have they allagreed to speak just in the same manner always the dreariest and mostuseless stuff? Why does he keep me off; why doesn't he love me?" heasked himself mournfully, and could not think of an answer.

 

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