Anna karenina, p.151
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       Anna Karenina, p.151

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 27

  After the lesson with the grammar teacher came his father's lesson.While waiting for his father, Seryozha sat at the table playing with apenknife, and fell to dreaming. Among Seryozha's favorite occupationswas searching for his mother during his walks. He did not believe indeath generally, and in her death in particular, in spite of what LidiaIvanovna had told him and his father had confirmed, and it was justbecause of that, and after he had been told she was dead, that he hadbegun looking for her when out for a walk. Every woman of full, gracefulfigure with dark hair was his mother. At the sight of such a woman sucha feeling of tenderness was stirred within him that his breath failedhim, and tears came into his eyes. And he was on the tiptoe ofexpectation that she would come up to him, would lift her veil. All herface would be visible, she would smile, she would hug him, he wouldsniff her fragrance, feel the softness of her arms, and cry withhappiness, just as he had one evening lain on her lap while she tickledhim, and he laughed and bit her white, ring-covered fingers. Later, whenhe accidentally learned from his old nurse that his mother was not dead,and his father and Lidia Ivanovna had explained to him that she was deadto him because she was wicked (which he could not possibly believe,because he loved her), he went on seeking her and expecting her in thesame way. That day in the public gardens there had been a lady in alilac veil, whom he had watched with a throbbing heart, believing it tobe she as she came towards them along the path. The lady had not come upto them, but had disappeared somewhere. That day, more intensely thanever, Seryozha felt a rush of love for her, and now, waiting for hisfather, he forgot everything, and cut all round the edge of the tablewith his penknife, staring straight before him with sparkling eyes anddreaming of her.

  "Here is your papa!" said Vassily Lukitch, rousing him.

  Seryozha jumped up and went up to his father, and kissing his hand,looked at him intently, trying to discover signs of his joy at receivingthe Alexander Nevsky.

  "Did you have a nice walk?" said Alexey Alexandrovitch, sitting down inhis easy chair, pulling the volume of the Old Testament to him andopening it. Although Alexey Alexandrovitch had more than once toldSeryozha that every Christian ought to know Scripture historythoroughly, he often referred to the Bible himself during the lesson,and Seryozha observed this.

  "Yes, it was very nice indeed, papa," said Seryozha, sitting sideways onhis chair and rocking it, which was forbidden. "I saw Nadinka" (Nadinkawas a niece of Lidia Ivanovna's who was being brought up in her house)."She told me you'd been given a new star. Are you glad, papa?"

  "First of all, don't rock your chair, please," said AlexeyAlexandrovitch. "And secondly, it's not the reward that's precious, butthe work itself. And I could have wished you understood that. If you noware going to work, to study in order to win a reward, then the work willseem hard to you; but when you work" (Alexey Alexandrovitch, as hespoke, thought of how he had been sustained by a sense of duty throughthe wearisome labor of the morning, consisting of signing one hundredand eighty papers), "loving your work, you will find your reward in it."

  Seryozha's eyes, that had been shining with gaiety and tenderness, grewdull and dropped before his father's gaze. This was the samelong-familiar tone his father always took with him, and Seryozha hadlearned by now to fall in with it. His father always talked to him--soSeryozha felt--as though he were addressing some boy of his ownimagination, one of those boys that exist in books, utterly unlikehimself. And Seryozha always tried with his father to act being thestory-book boy.

  "You understand that, I hope?" said his father.

  "Yes, papa," answered Seryozha, acting the part of the imaginary boy.

  The lesson consisted of learning by heart several verses out of theGospel and the repetition of the beginning of the Old Testament. Theverses from the Gospel Seryozha knew fairly well, but at the moment whenhe was saying them he became so absorbed in watching the sharplyprotruding, bony knobbiness of his father's forehead, that he lost thethread, and he transposed the end of one verse and the beginning ofanother. So it was evident to Alexey Alexandrovitch that he did notunderstand what he was saying, and that irritated him.

  He frowned, and began explaining what Seryozha had heard many timesbefore and never could remember, because he understood it too well, justas that "suddenly" is an adverb of manner of action. Seryozha lookedwith scared eyes at his father, and could think of nothing but whetherhis father would make him repeat what he had said, as he sometimes did.And this thought so alarmed Seryozha that he now understood nothing. Buthis father did not make him repeat it, and passed on to the lesson outof the Old Testament. Seryozha recounted the events themselves wellenough, but when he had to answer questions as to what certain eventsprefigured, he knew nothing, though he had already been punished overthis lesson. The passage at which he was utterly unable to say anything,and began fidgeting and cutting the table and swinging his chair, waswhere he had to repeat the patriarchs before the Flood. He did not knowone of them, except Enoch, who had been taken up alive to heaven. Lasttime he had remembered their names, but now he had forgotten themutterly, chiefly because Enoch was the personage he liked best in thewhole of the Old Testament, and Enoch's translation to heaven wasconnected in his mind with a whole long train of thought, in which hebecame absorbed now while he gazed with fascinated eyes at his father'swatch-chain and a half-unbuttoned button on his waistcoat.

  In death, of which they talked to him so often, Seryozha disbelievedentirely. He did not believe that those he loved could die, above allthat he himself would die. That was to him something utterlyinconceivable and impossible. But he had been told that all men die; hehad asked people, indeed, whom he trusted, and they too, had confirmedit; his old nurse, too, said the same, though reluctantly. But Enoch hadnot died, and so it followed that everyone did not die. "And why cannotanyone else so serve God and be taken alive to heaven?" thoughtSeryozha. Bad people, that is those Seryozha did not like, they mightdie, but the good might all be like Enoch.

  "Well, what are the names of the patriarchs?"

  "Enoch, Enos--"

  "But you have said that already. This is bad, Seryozha, very bad. If youdon't try to learn what is more necessary than anything for aChristian," said his father, getting up, "whatever can interest you? Iam displeased with you, and Piotr Ignatitch" (this was the mostimportant of his teachers) "is displeased with you.... I shall have topunish you."

  His father and his teacher were both displeased with Seryozha, and hecertainly did learn his lessons very badly. But still it could not besaid he was a stupid boy. On the contrary, he was far cleverer than theboys his teacher held up as examples to Seryozha. In his father'sopinion, he did not want to learn what he was taught. In reality hecould not learn that. He could not, because the claims of his own soulwere more binding on him than those claims his father and his teachermade upon him. Those claims were in opposition, and he was in directconflict with his education. He was nine years old; he was a child; buthe knew his own soul, it was precious to him, he guarded it as theeyelid guards the eye, and without the key of love he let no one intohis soul. His teachers complained that he would not learn, while hissoul was brimming over with thirst for knowledge. And he learned fromKapitonitch, from his nurse, from Nadinka, from Vassily Lukitch, but notfrom his teachers. The spring his father and his teachers reckoned uponto turn their mill-wheels had long dried up at the source, but itswaters did their work in another channel.

  His father punished Seryozha by not letting him go to see Nadinka, LidiaIvanovna's niece; but this punishment turned out happily for Seryozha.Vassily Lukitch was in a good humor, and showed him how to makewindmills. The whole evening passed over this work and in dreaming howto make a windmill on which he could turn himself--clutching at thesails or tying himself on and whirling round. Of his mother Seryozha didnot think all the evening, but when he had gone to bed, he suddenlyremembered her, and prayed in his own words that his mother tomorrow forhis birthday might leave off hiding herself and come to him.

  "Vassily L
ukitch, do you know what I prayed for tonight extra besidesthe regular things?"

  "That you might learn your lessons better?"

  "No."

  "Toys?"

  "No. You'll never guess. A splendid thing; but it's a secret! When itcomes to pass I'll tell you. Can't you guess!"

  "No, I can't guess. You tell me," said Vassily Lukitch with a smile,which was rare with him. "Come, lie down, I'm putting out the candle."

  "Without the candle I can see better what I see and what I prayed for.There! I was almost telling the secret!" said Seryozha, laughing gaily.

  When the candle was taken away, Seryozha heard and felt his mother. Shestood over him, and with loving eyes caressed him. But then camewindmills, a knife, everything began to be mixed up, and he fell asleep.

 
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