Chapter 10

When Levin went into the restaurant with Oblonsky, he could not help noticing a certain peculiarity of expression, as it were, a restrained radiance, about the face and whole figure of Stepan Arkadyevich. Oblonsky took off his overcoat, and with his hat over one ear walked into the dining room, giving directions to the Tatar waiters, who were clustered about him in evening coats, and with napkins under their arms. Bowing right and left to acquaintances who, here as everywhere, greeted him joyously, he went up to the bar, took a little wineglass of vodka and a snack of fish, and said to the painted Frenchwoman decked in ribbons, lace and ringlets, behind the desk, something so amusing that even that Frenchwoman was moved to genuine laughter. Levin for his part refrained from taking any vodka only because he found most offensive this Frenchwoman, all made up, it seemed, of false hair, poudre de riz and vinaigre de toilette. He made haste to move away from her, as from a dirty place. His whole soul was filled with memories of Kitty, and there was a smile of triumph and happiness shining in his eyes.

`This way, Your Excellency, please. Your Excellency won't be disturbed here,' said a particularly pertinacious, white-headed old Tatar with immense hips and coattails gaping widely behind. `Walk in, your Excellency,' he said to Levin - being attentive to his guest as well, by way of showing his respect to Stepan Arkadyevich.

Instantly flinging a fresh cloth over the round table under the bronze sconce, though it already had a tablecloth on it, he pushed up velvet chairs and came to a standstill before Stepan Arkadyevich with a napkin and a bill of fare in his hands, awaiting his commands.

`If you prefer it, Your Excellency, a private room will be free directly: Prince Golitsin with a lady. Fresh oysters have come in.'

`Ah, oysters!' Stepan Arkadyevich became thoughtful.

`How if we were to change our program, Levin?' he said, keeping his finger on the bill of fare. And his face expressed serious hesitation. `Are the oysters good? Mind, now!'

`They're Flensburg, Your Excellency. We've no Ostend.'

`Flensburg will do - but are they fresh?'

`Only arrived yesterday.'

`Well, then, how if we were to begin with oysters, and so change the whole program? Eh?'

`It's all the same to me. I should like cabbage soup and porridge better than anything; but of course there's nothing like that here.'

`Porridge à la Russe, Your Honor would like?' said the Tatar, bending down to Levin, like a nurse speaking to a child.

`No, joking apart, whatever you choose is sure to be good. I've been skating, and I'm hungry. And don't imagine,' he added, detecting a look of dissatisfaction on Oblonsky's face, `that I shan't appreciate your choice. I don't object to a good dinner.'

`I should hope so! After all, it's one of the pleasures of life,' said Stepan Arkadyevich. `Well, then, my friend, you give us two - or better say three - dozen oysters, clear soup with vegetables...'

`Printaniere,' prompted the Tatar. But Stepan Arkadyevich apparently did not care to allow him the satisfaction of giving the French names of the dishes.

`With vegetables in it, you know. Then turbot with thick sauce, then... roast beef; and mind it's good. Yes, and capons, perhaps, and then stewed fruit.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.