Chapter 8

Toward the end of May, when everything had been more or less satisfactorily arranged, she received her husband's answer to her complaints of the disorganized state of things in the country. He wrote begging her forgiveness for not having thought of everything before, and promised to come down at the first chance. This chance did not present itself, and till the beginning of June Darya Alexandrovna stayed alone in the country.

On the Sunday in St. Peter's week Darya Alexandrovna drove to mass to have all her children take the sacrament. Darya Alexandrovna in her intimate, philosophical talks with her sister, her mother, and her friends very often astonished them by the freedom of her views in regard to religion. She had a strange religion, all her own, of the transmigration of souls, in which she had firm faith, troubling herself little about the dogmas of the Church. But in her family she was strict in carrying out all that was required by the Church - and not merely in order to set an example, but with all her heart. The fact that the children had not been at the sacrament for nearly a year worried her extremely, and with the full approval and sympathy of Matriona Philimonovna she decided that this should take place now, in the summer.

For several days before Darya Alexandrovna was busily deliberating on how to dress all the children. Frocks were made, or altered and washed, seams and flounces were let out, buttons were sewn on and ribbons got ready. One dress, Tania's, which the English governess had undertaken, cost Darya Alexandrovna much loss of temper. The English governess in altering it had made the seams in the wrong place, had taken up the sleeves too much, and altogether spoiled the dress. It was so narrow on Tania's shoulders that it was quite painful to look at her. But Matriona Philimonovna had the happy thought of putting in gussets, and adding a little shoulder-cape. The dress was set right, but there was nearly a quarrel with the English governess. In the morning, however, all was happily arranged, and about nine o'clock - the time at which they had asked the priest to wait for them for the mass - the children in their new dresses stood with beaming faces on the step before the carriage, waiting for their mother.

In the carriage, instead of the restive Raven, they had harnessed, thanks to the representations of Matriona Philimonovna, the bailiff's horse, Brownie, and Darya Alexandrovna, delayed by anxiety over her own attire, came out and got in, dressed in a white muslin gown.

Darya Alexandrovna had done her hair, and dressed with care and excitement. In the old days she had dressed for her own sake, to look pretty and be admired; later on, as she got older, dress became more and more distasteful to her; she saw that she was losing her good looks. But now she began to feel pleasure and interest in dress again. Now she did not dress for her own sake, nor for the sake of her own beauty, but simply that, as the mother of those exquisite creatures, she might not spoil the general effect. And looking at herself for the last time in the looking glass she was satisfied with herself. She looked well. Not as well as she wished to look in the old days, at a ball, but well for the object she now had in view.

In the church there was no one but the peasants, the servants, and their womenfolk. But Darya Alexandrovna saw, or fancied she saw, the sensation produced by her children and herself. The children were not only beautiful to look at in their smart little dresses, but they were charming in the way they behaved. Aliosha, it is true, did not stand quite correctly; he kept turning round, trying to look at his little jacket from behind; but all the same he was wonderfully sweet. Tania behaved like a grown-up person, and looked after the little ones. And the smallest, Lily, was bewitching in her naive astonishment at everything, and it was difficult not to smile when, after taking the sacrament, she said in English, `Please, some more.'

On the way home the children felt that something solemn had happened, and were very sedate.

Everything went happily at home too; but at lunch Grisha began whistling, and, what was worse, was disobedient to the English governess, and was forbidden to have any tart. Darya Alexandrovna would not have let things go as far as the punishment on such a day had she been present; but she had to

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