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or absorbed in other matters, like some when it sometimes happens that I hear child, who, when you are speaking to it at St. Petersburg, it is associated at it, will be seen scanning with profound once with the pleasant country life. curiosity the seal which hangs from The little chamber rises to my mind's
eye; supper is on the table; near the The apartments occupied by this
open window through which the May couple were small and low, just of the moon is shining, a nightingale warbles kind which people of the olden time bis melody, and the trees are rustling delighted to inhabit.
The tempera- pleasantly in the night-wind. Ahl ture was warm, for these old people what a crowd of happy memories loved heat. The walls of their princi- rush upon my mind. pal sitting-room were ornamented by a The chairs of this old “ménage" few pictures and engravings in old were of wood, and massive as they oaken frames. I am certain the pro- were firmly made. They had high prietors of the house could scarcely carved backs, unpainted and without have told you whom they were meant varnish. They were not even stuffed, to represent. There were, among but resembled those thrones upon others, two large portraits painted in which archbishops seat themselves. In oil one, an archbishop; the other, the corners of the room were small Peter III. Among the engravings tables, and the mirror was set in a there was the Duchess de la Valliere, frame of carved leaves. The carpet considerably moth-eaten. Around the was ornamented with birds that looked windows and above the doors were like flowers, and flowers which resem. other prints, so black and stained that bled birds. Such was the furniture of you would be disposed to take them the room occupied by the master and for spots upon the wall. The ceiling mistress. The chamber of the servants was of terra-cotta, so admirably con- was generally full of old and young structed that it might stand a compari- women, clad in dresses of striped cotson with that of any lord in the land. ton. Pulcheria gave them sometimes The chamber of Pulcheria was quite trifles to sew, or fruit to clean, when full of chests and boxes, both great their time was not otherwise engaged. and small; a number of little bags, Like a frugal housewife, she carried all filled with cucumber and melon seeds, the keys at her girdle, and kept a were suspended from hooks in the watchful eye upon the morals of her ceiling; all the vacant spaces which domestics; but notwithstanding all her were left by the heaps of boxes were vigilance, scarcely a month passed in filled with spindles of thread, bundles which the shape of at least one of them of rags, and other trifles of a quarter did not increase visibly; and what was of a century old. Pulcheria was a still more extraordinary, with the exgreat manager, and she collected about ception of a young gentleman who offiher every article which might by any ciated as an errand-boy, there was not possibility prove of future use. But an unmarried man in or about the what was most remarkable in the whole premises. The innocence of this youth house was the peculiar noise made by was established beyond all reasonable the doors; from morning until evening doubt by the circumstance, that when it went sounding on. I cannot tell he was not eating, he was generally why the doors made this peculiar noise. asleep. Upon these grave occasions, Was it because the hinges were not Pulcheria solemnly reprimanded the properly oiled ?—or did the carpenter guilty, warning her of what was about by whom they were constructed intro- to happen, which the servant was produce some secret machinery? But so bably as well aware of as her mistress it was. The door of the sleeping apart- Athanase Ivanovitch did not trouble ment had a weak and attenuated voice; himself much about business. When that of the salle-a-manger, a deep and he went occasionally to inspect his base one; as to that which closed the workmen, or visit his tenants, he looked antechamber, it made a curious, trem- at them with a sort of curious attention bling, plaintive sound, so that if one rather than any active interest. The listened with attention it seemed to whole weight of the domestic adminis. say, “I am cold - I am cold – I am tration fell upon Pulcheria. She was frozen." I am not aware whether constantly occupied in opening, and people like this voice of the door; for shutting the doors of the provisionmyself I am very partial to it; and chamber, in superintending the culinary operations, and in sorting the fied with the reply; but on her return fruits and vegetables. Her house re- home she issued strict orders that the sembled the laboratory of a chemist. guard about the Spanish cherry-trees There was a fire always burning under and the winter-pears should be doubled. the garden apple-roaster; a tripod of These worthy agents, the steward and fire supported a copper preserving-pan, the starosta, presently discovered that where preserves, jellies, and pastilles there was no longer any occasion to of honey and sugar were in various bring all their farm-produce to the states of progress. Under a tree you storehouse of their lord. They theremight see them distilling, eau-de-vie fore contented themselves with the from peach-stones, making noyau half, and consummated their villany from cherries, and other like operations. by selecting this moiety from what At the end of the work the cook would they were unable to sell at market. be reduced to such a condition that he But notwithstanding this systematic could scarcely move his tongue, and pillage, and the terrible voracity of the would conduct himself in so absurd a servants-notwithstanding the presents manner, that Pulcheria generally dis- they made to their relatives and fol. missed him to sleep off his tipsiness in lowers
their thefts of housebold arthe kitchen. There was cooked and ticles, the price of which was spent at collected such a quantity of these deli- the alehouse, and all their other miscacies, that the store-rooms would have deeds—the fertile land produced everybeen filled to overflowing, had they thing in such abundance and the not been eaten by the servants, who, good people had so few wants, that when they had once succeeded in mak.. all these depredations made no appaing good an entrance into the store- rent alteration in their happiness. room, usually complained of a pain in Athanase and Pulcheria, according the stomach for the rest of the day. to the custom of people of the olden
As it was impossible Pulcheria could time, were fond of good living. When enter into the details of the farm, the day broke (for they always rose early), steward, who was in league with the and the doors commenced their discorstarosta, * pillaged her without mercy. dant music, they made their toilette, They were in the habit of cutting and took their coffee. After breakfast their master's wood, just as if it was the old gentleman sallied forth into the their own. Upon one occasion Pul- portico, and held a conference with his cheria expressed a desire to make a steward - asked him about what was tour of inspection. The droschki was going on in the farm - made observabrought to the door, but its huge cop- tions, and gave him such orders that per aprons made such a noise, that no you would have been surprised at his sooner was the vehicle once in motion, apparent knowledge of domestic ecothan the strange sounds which pro- nomy, and a novice would probably ceeded from it might have been heard have imagined it difficult to rob so two versts off at the least. Pulcheria shrewd a master. But his steward was Ivanovna could not fail to perceive a cunning old fox, accustomed to the destruction which had taken place, stand tire; he knew what he should and the carrying away of the oaks answer, and what he should keep to which even in her youth she had re- himself. Athanase would then return membered as a hundred years old. to the apartment he had quitted, and “How is this, Nitchpor?" she said to
say to his wifethe steward ? “ how is it these oaks • My dearest Pulcheria Ivanovna, have become so scarce. Take care of don't you think it is time to eat a little ?" your horses — you may lose them “ But, Athanase Ivanovitch, what too."
would you have now? There is no“Scarce, madam!" replied the thing ready but a few patés or some steward; they have totally disappear. pickled mushrooms." ed; a thunder-bolt has fallen upon "Go for the mushrooms or the them; the wolves have eaten them; patés ; it is a matter of indifference to in short, they have disappeared, ma- me," Athanase would reply. dam-totally disappeared I"
And immediately the table would be Pulcheria Ivanovna was quite satis- covered with the required delicacies.
• The "starosta " is a species of bailiff.
An hour before dinner Athanase would The cakes and the “ kissel” would be still at his breakfast ; he would take soon make their entrance, and as a sip of eau-de-vie from an ancient speedily disappear. silver goblet, by way of washing Athanase had another little collation. down the mushrooms and the other At half past nine supper was served. trifles with which he had amused his Immediately afterwards they retired palate. Dinner was served about one to rest, and the most profound silence o'clock. Besides the entrés and the pervaded the whole establishment. The sauces, the table was covered with a bedroom of Pulcheria was 60 warm number of small jars, hermetically that few people could have endured it sealed, in order that their appetising for any length of time. But Athanase contents should not evaporate. At Ivanovitch, in order to be warmer still, table, the conversation generally turned slept upon a Russian stove, the temupon the serious employment on which perature of which was so high that he they were engaged.
was frequently obliged to get up during • It seems to me this soup is a little the night and walk about. While in burned. What is your opinion, Pul- dulging in this recreation it was his cheria ?"
custom to utter little groans. “By no means, Athanase. Put a • What is the matter with you ?" little more pepper in it, or a drop of Pulcheria would inquire. this mushroom-sauce."
“God knows," he would answer ; “ So be it," Athanase would reply, "I think I feel rather uneasy about flourishing his napkin — now we shall the stomach." see the result.”
Perhaps you would like to eat When dinner was over, Athanase something, Athanase Ivanovitch ?” went to rest for an hour ; but Pul- “I do not know if it would be good cheria Ivanovna, fetching a pasty half- for me; but what can be bad ?" cut, would interrupt his repose
“ A little warm milk, or some stewed “See, Athanase, if this pasty is
pears." not good !"
“ Ah, well! let us try." “ You should not trust too much to A servant, more than half asleep, its red colour, Pulcheria Ivanovna,” would then be despatched to the storeher lord would reply, taking a great room, and Athanase, having disposed slice ; " those which are red are very of some of these little delicacies, would seldom worth much.”
say that he felt considerably easier. Meanwhile the pasty bad disappear. Occasionally when the weather was cd. Afterwards Athanase Ivanovitch finer than usual, and the heat of would cat a few pears, and then take the apartment consequently greater, a turn in the garden with his wife. Athanase would amuse hipiself by ral. Having finished their promenade, the lying bis wife. good lady looked after her affairs; and "Tell me, Pulcheria Ivanovna, supher lord, seating himself on a corner of pose the house were to take fire, what the balcony which overlooked the court, do you suppose would become of us?" would amuse himself by watching the « God would preserve us ;” and the proceedings of his servants. Then, pious housewife made the sign of the sending for Pulcheria Ivanovna, he would inquire
“But, suppose the house were burned “What have you got to eat, Pul- to the ground, what should we do for cheria Ivanovna ?"
a lodging?" “What, indeed," she would reply, Why do you think of such things, “ but a few cakes of gooseberries that Athanase? God would never permit I have kept on purpose
such a catastrophe.” nase Ivanovitch.”
“But suppose it were actually to “Go for the gooseberry - cakes," burn, what then?" Athanase would reply.
“Why, we could go into the kitchen, “Perbaps you would like a little and you could occupy the housekeeper's kissel."*
“ That would by no means be bad," « But if the kitchen were to take replicd Athanase.
fire also ?"
* "Kissel" is a kind of jelly made of fruit.
“ Heaven preserve us from such a in short, amply repaid him for his calainity. The house and the kitchen complaisance. to take fire together! Absurd! But I think I can see Athanase at this even if they did, we could go and in- moment reclining in his easy-chair, as babit the storehouse until we had time he listens with profound attention to to build a new house,''
the conversation of his guest; the old But suppose.
the storehouse were friendly smile is playing on his lips. to take fire also.”
The visitor, who has, perhaps, never “God knows why you talk in such left his country cirele, indulges himself a fashion. I shall listen to you no in political speculations, and relates, longer. It is a sin to speak of such with a terrified and mysterious air, things, and heaven might, perhaps, how the French and the English were punish us for such wicked thoughts. secretly leagued to send the new Na
And Athanase Ivanovitch, satisfied poleon into Russia, and discerned the with having thus tormented his good probable events of the war, which wife, would turn himself comfortably would certainly take place. Then to rest.
Athanase, affecting not to look at his This charming couple were seen to wife, would say most advantage when they received “I should certainly take an active their visitors. On such occasions the part in the campaign — I could do a entire aspect of the cottage underwent sittle fighting still." a change. They seemed to live but “Don't believe a word he says," for their guests. The best of every Pulcheria would reply, addressing thing in the house was produced, and herself to the stranger.
“How could offered with a graceful empressment he, such an old man, go to the war? that was free from all affectation. The The first soldier he met would kill satisfaction they felt in overwhelming him; yes, he would knock him on the you with kindness was so sensibly ex- head, and kill him at once." pressed in their countenances that to “ Nay,” Athanase would reply, “it. refuse was almost impossible. No is I that would kill him.” visitor was ever allowed to go away “Only listen to what he says," Pul-, the day he arrived; it was absolutely cheria would reply ; "his pistols are necessary to spend at least one night covered with rust and laid up in the at the cottage. 66 Ilow could you
storeroom ages ago. Would you like think of setting out to travel such a to see them? They are a pretty sight, distance at this late bour?" Pulcheria and whoever tried to use them would, Ivanovna would say, on such occasions, probably, be disfigured for the rest of, although the visitor might not have his life." more than three or four versts to " What of that? I can purchase go.
new arms; a cossack lance or a sabre “Certainly,” added Athanase Ivano- will answer my purpose well enough.”. vitch, “one cannot tell what might « How ridiculous! He will talk happen. You might be attacked by about this new crochet for the next robbers, and the roads are in such bad month," Pulcheria would reply, with order.”
a certain air of chagriu. “I know he “Heaven preserve us from robbers !" is only in jest, but it is by no means, Pulcheria would reply. “Why should agreeable to listen to such nonsense.” you speak of such things at this late And Athanase, content with having hour? It is not robbers that one has thus rallied his wife, would smile to fear, but the darkness of the night; pleasantly as he sat in his easy chair. and then your coachman, I know him I would now present you with a well, he is so small and weak, and I picture of Pulcheria as she is enteram perfectly satisfied he has drunk taining a guest at breakfast. Taking in more wine than is good for him; at her hand a carafe, “There is eau de vie, this moment he is, most probably, fast made from menthe," she would say ; asleep by the kitchen fire.”
“it is very good for a pain in the side ; And so the visitor would have to and here is some of another kind, remain. But an evening spent in the famous for removing noises in the ears ; little warm room, the agreeable and and here is another still: it is distilled friendly tone of the conversation, the from peach-stones. Just try a drop ; appetizing odour of the plats which it has a wonderful fragrance.” The were preparing for supper; everything, good housewife would recommend each
VOL. XLVI.--NO. CCLXXIII.
of her liqueurs in turn as being possess- my cat is a quiet creature, who never ed of some curative quality. Having does any one any harm." stuffed the guest with such-like medi. In short, dog or cat, it mattered little caments, she would lead him to a table to Athanase Ivanovitch; all he wanted covered with plates. “Here are mush- was a text for his marital discourses. rooms, with pepper and with cloves. Behind the garden there lay a large I learned how to dress them from a wood, which the speculating steward Turkish lady, at the time when we had bad left untouched, because the sound the Turkish prisoners. She was a very of his hatchet could scarcely fail of good woman, and you would never reaching the ears of his mistress. This have perceived she was a heathen. wood was full of old trunks of trees, She did everything like one of our- covered with yellow moss, and it was selves, only she abstained from meat, inhabited by a tribe of savage cats, of saying it was forbidden by their law." gaunt and hungry aspect, which would
Oh, you good, kind old friends ! my prowl about the premises at nightfall, story now approaches a very sad event uttering the most savage and appalling which will disturb for ever the current cries. They lived but by plunder and of your tranquil lives in your pleasant robbery, and were, in short, extremely retreat. It will seem extraordinary ill-conducted. Some of these gentry when we see what a trifling circum- succeeded in seducing Pulcheria's poor stance produced such an alteration. little favourite, just as a troop of sol.
By the strange disposition of sublu- diers corrupt the morals of some in. nary events, causes, frequently almost nocent village beauty. When the dis. imperceptible, lead to grave events, as appearance of her feline companion vast enterprises not unfrequently ter. became known, Pulcheria caused a minate in results which are unimpor- diligent search to be set on foot. tant. A conqueror assembles all the Three days passed, and the good lady, forces of his empire, makes war for a who mourned her friend, ended by succession of years, his generals cover forgetting its existence. But one themselves with glory, and the whole morning, as she was returning from thing, terminates, perhaps, in the ac- the kitchen garden, whither she had quisition of a scrap of ground where been to gather cucumbers for her one could scarcely sow turnips. Again, lord, a plaintive “mew" fell sadly on the contrary, two manufacturers of upon the good lady's ear. Without sausages quarrel about a trifle, and thought she pronounced the words their dispute involves villages, cities, “kis, kis," and forth from the bramand whole states in conflagration. But bles leaped the little grey cat, so thin let us leave these reflections, which are and so metamorphosed, that she could out of place here, and proceed with our scarcely have known it. Pulcheria narrative.
Ivanovna continued to call it, but the Pulcheria Ivanovna had a small grey cat remained at a little distance, eying cat, which spent the greater portion of its mistress without venturing to apits existence rolled up like a round proach her, so savage had it become ball at her feet; she loved to fondle since its flight. The lady went on; and caress this animal, who became her favourite followed her with doubt. attached to its mistress after the fa. ful steps, and at last, when it recogshion of its kind. One could scarcely nised its former haunt, made up its say that the lady was very fond of this mind to enter the room. Pulcheria cat, but the habit of seeing it con- had some bread and milk brought, and stantly had made this favourite almost watched the cat as it fed, which caused a necessity of her existence. Athanase it visibly to increase in size. She used frequently to rally her on the sub- then stretched out her hand to caress ject.
it, but the ungrateful creature, which, “What do you see in that ridiculous according to all appearance, had cat?" he would say. “What is it good been demoralised by its recent assofor? A dog would be of some use_he ciations, and entertained the opinion, might get us some game; but as for a that poverty with love, was cat
agreeable than comfort without it, “Hold your tongue, Athanase, you leaped through the window, and was are too fond of talking. A dog would never seen again. not be a proper companion for me; he The natives of Little Russia are prowould break and spoil everything; but verbially superstitious; Pulcheria was