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Chapter 25

  • At ten o'clock the big bell in the village church began to sound for Mass.
  • Tatiana Markovna's household was full of stir and bustle. The horses wer_eing harnessed to the calèche and to an old fashioned carriage. The coachmen, already drunk, donned their new dark blue caftans, and their hair shone wit_rease. The women servants made a gay picture in their many coloured cotto_resses, head and neck kerchiefs, and the maids employed in the house diffuse_ scent of cloves within a ten yards radius. The cooks had donned their whit_aps in the early morning, and had been incessantly busy in the preparation o_he breakfast, dinner and supper to be served to the family and their guests, the kitchen, and the servants the visitors brought with them.
  • Tatiana Markovna had begun to make her toilet at eight o'clock, as soon as sh_ad given her orders; she descended to the hall to greet her guests with th_eserved dignity of a great lady, and the gentle smile of a happy mother and _ospitable hostess. She had set a small simple cap on her grey hair; the ligh_rown silk dress that Raisky had brought from St. Petersburg suited her well, and round her neck she wore beautiful old lace; the Turkish shawl lay on th_rm-chair in her room.
  • Now she was preparing to drive to Mass, and walked slowly up and down the hal_ith crossed hands, awaiting the assembly of the household. She hardly notice_he bustle around her, as the servants went hither and thither, sweeping th_arpets, cleaning the lamps, dusting the mirrors, and taking the covers fro_he furniture. She went first to one window and then to the other, looking ou_editatively on the road, the garden and the courtyards.
  • Vikentev's mother was dressed in pearl grey with dark lace trimmings. Vikente_imself had been in his dress coat and white gloves from eight o'cloc_nwards.
  • Tatiana Markovna's pride and joy knew no bounds when Marfinka appeared, radiating gaiety from her bright eyes. While she slept the walls of her tw_ooms had been decorated with flowers and garlands. She was going to put o_er simple blouse when she woke, but instead there lay on the chair by her be_ morning gown of lace and muslin with pink ribbons. She had not had time t_ive vent to her admiration when she saw on two other chairs two lovel_resses, one pink and one blue, for her to make her choice for the gala day.
  • She jumped up, and threw on her new morning gown without waiting to put on he_tockings, and when she approached her mirror she found a new surprise in th_ifts that lay on her toilet table. She did not know which to look at, o_hich to take up.
  • First she opened a lovely rosewood casket which contained a complete dressin_et, flasks, combs, brushes and endless trifles in glass and silver, with _ard bearing the name of her future Mama. Beside it lay cases of differen_izes. She threw a quick glance in the mirror, smoothed back her abundant hai_rom her eyes, seized all the cases in a heap, and sat down on the bed to loo_t them. She hesitated to open them, and finally began with the smallest, which contained an emerald ring, which she hastily put on her finger. A large_ase held earrings which she inserted in her ears and admired in the glas_rom the bed. There were massive gold bracelets, set with rubies and diamonds, which she also put on. Last of all she opened the largest case, and looke_stonished and dazzled at its splendid contents: a chain of strung diamonds, twenty-one to match her years. The accompanying card said: "With this gift _onfide to you another, a costly one, my best of friends—myself. Take care o_im. Your lover, Vikentev."
  • She laughed, looked round, kissed the card, blushed, sprang from the bed an_aid the case in her cupboard, in the box where she kept her bonbons. Ther_as still another case on the table, containing Raisky's gift of a watch, whose enamel cover bore her monogram, and its chain.
  • She looked at it with wide eyes, threw another glance at the other gifts an_he garlanded walls, then threw herself on a chair and wept hot tears of joy.
  • "Oh, God!" she sobbed happily. "Why does everyone love me so. I do no good t_nyone, and never shall."
  • And so, undressed, without shoes and stockings, but adorned with rings, bracelets, diamond earrings, she tearfully sought her aunt, who caressed an_issed her darling when she heard the cause of her tears.
  • "God loves you, Marfinka, because you love others, because all who see you ar_nfected by your happiness."
  • Marfinka dried her tears.
  • "Nikolai Andreevich loves me, but he is my fiancé; so does his Mama, but s_oes my cousin, Boris Pavlovich, and what am I to him?"
  • "The same as you are to everyone. No one can look at you and not be happy; yo_re modest, pure and good, obedient to your Grandmother. Spendthrift," sh_urmured in an aside, to hide her pleasure. "Such a costly gift! You shal_ear of this, Borushka!"
  • "Grandmother! As if Boris Pavlovich could have guessed it. I have wanted _ittle enamelled watch like this for a long time."
  • "You haven't asked your Grandmother why she gives you nothing?"
  • Marfinka shut her mouth with a kiss.
  • "Grandmother," she said, "love me always, if you want to make me happy."
  • "With my love I will give you my enduring gift," she said, making the sign o_he cross over Marfinka. "So that you shall not forget my blessing," she wen_n, feeling in her pocket—"You have given me two dresses, Grandmother, but wh_ecorated my room so magnificently?"
  • "Your fiancé and Paulina Karpovna sent the things yesterday, and kept them ou_f your sight. Vassilissa and Pashutka hung the garlands up at daybreak. Th_resses are part of your trousseau, and there are more to follow." Then takin_rom its case a gold cross with four large diamonds she hung it round th_irl's neck, and gave her a plain, simple bracelet with the inscription: "Fro_randmother to her Grandchild," and with the name and the date.
  • Marfinka kissed her aunt's hand, and nearly wept once more.
  • "All that Grandmother has, and she has many things, will be divided betwee_ou and Veroshka. Now make haste."
  • "How lovely you are to-day, Grandmother. Cousin is right. Tiet Nikonich wil_all in love with you."
  • "Nonsense, chatterbox. Go to Veroshka, and tell her not to be late for Mass. _ould have gone myself, but am afraid of the steps."
  • "Directly, Grandmother," cried Marfinka, and hastened to change her dress.
  • Vera lay unconscious for half an hour before she came to herself. The col_ind that streamed through the open window fell on her face, and she sat up t_ook around her. Then she rose, shut the window, walked unsteadily to the bed, sank down on it, and drawing the cover over herself, lay motionless.
  • Overpowered with weakness she fell into a deep sleep, with her hair loose ove_he pillow. She slept heavily for about three hours until she was awakened b_he noise in the courtyard, the many voices, the creaking of wheels and th_ound of bells. She opened her eyes, looked round, and listened.
  • There was a light knock at the door, but Vera did not stir. There was a loude_nock, but she remained motionless. At the third she got up, glanced in th_lass, and was terrified by the sight of her own face. She pushed her hai_nto order, threw a shawl over her shoulders, picked up Marfinka's bouque_rom the floor, and laid it on the table. There was another knock and sh_pened the door. Marfinka, gay and lovely, gleaming like a rainbow in he_retty clothes, flew into the room. When she saw her sister she stood still i_mazement.
  • "What is the matter with you, Veroshka? Aren't you well?"
  • "Not quite. I offer you my congratulations."
  • The sisters kissed one another.
  • "How lovely you are, and how beautifully dressed!" said Vera, making a fain_ttempt to smile. Her lips framed one, but her eyes were like the eyes of _orpse that no one has remembered to close. But she felt she must contro_erself, and hastened to present Marfinka with the bouquet.
  • "What a lovely bouquet! And what is this?" asked Marfinka as she felt a har_ubstance, and discovered the holder set with her name and the pearls. "You, too, Veroshka! How is it you all love me so? I love you all, how I love you!
  • But how and when you found out that I did, I cannot think."
  • Vera was not capable of answering, but she caressed Marfinka's shoulde_ffectionately.
  • "I must sit down," she said. "I have slept badly through the night."
  • "Grandmother calls you to Mass."
  • "I cannot, darling. Tell her I am unwell, and cannot leave the house to-day."
  • "What! you are not coming?"
  • "I shall stay in bed. Perhaps I caught cold yesterday. Tell Grandmother."
  • "We will come to you."
  • "You would only disturb me."
  • "Then we shall send everything over. Ah, Veroshka, people have sent me so man_resents, and flowers and bonbons. I must show them to you," and she ran ove_ list of them.
  • "Yes, show me everything; perhaps I will come later," said Vera absently.
  • "Another bouquet?" asked Marfinka, pointing to the one that lay on the floor.
  • "For whom? How lovely!"
  • "For you too," said Vera, turning paler. She picked a ribbon hastily from _rawer and fastened the bouquet with it. Then she kissed her sister, and san_own on the divan.
  • "You are really ill. How pale you are! Shall I tell Grandmother, and let he_end for the doctor? How sad that it should be on my birthday. The day i_poiled for me!"
  • "It will pass. Don't say a word to Grandmother. Don't frighten her. Leave m_ow, for I must rest."
  • At last Marfinka went. Vera shut the door after her, and lay down on th_ivan.