Chapter 17

The coachman pulled up his four horses and looked round to the right, to a field of rye, where some peasants were sitting near a telega. The countinghouse clerk was just going to jump down, but on second thought he shouted peremptorily to the peasants instead, and beckoned to them to come up. The wind, that seemed to blow as they drove, dropped when the carriage stood still; gadflies settled on the steaming horses that angrily shook them off. The metallic clank of a whetstone against a scythe, that came to them from the telega, ceased. One of the peasants got up and came toward the carriage.

`Well, you are slow!' the countinghouse clerk shouted angrily to the peasant who was stepping slowly with his bare feet over the ruts of the unbeaten, sun-baked road. `Come along, do!'

A curly-headed old man with a bit of bast tied round his hair, and his bent back dark with perspiration, came toward the carriage, quickening his steps, and took hold of the mudguard with his sunburned hand.

`Vozdvizhenskoe - the manor house? The Count's?' he repeated. `Go on to the end of this slope. Then turn to the left. Straight along the avenue, and you'll come right upon it. But whom do you want? The Count himself?'

`Well, are they at home, my good man?' Darya Alexandrovna said vaguely, not knowing how to ask about Anna, even of this peasant.

`At home for sure,' said the peasant, shifting from one bare foot to the other, and leaving a distinct print of five toes and a heel in the dust. `Sure to be at home,' he repeated, evidently eager to talk. `Only yesterday visitors arrived. There's a sight of visitors come. What do you want?' He turned round and called to a lad, who was shouting something to him from the telega. `Oh! They all rode by here not long since, to look at a reaping machine. They'll be home by now. And who may you belong to?...'

`We've come a long way,' said the coachman, climbing onto the box. `So it's not far?'

`I tell you, it's just here. As soon as you get out...' he said, keeping hold all the while of the mudguard of the carriage.

A healthy-looking, broad-shouldered young fellow came up too.

`What, is it laborers they want for the harvest?' he asked.

`I don't know, my boy.'

`So you keep to the left, and you'll come right on it,' said the peasant, unmistakably loath to let the travelers go, and eager to converse.

The coachman started the horses, but they were only just turning off when the peasant shouted: `Stop! Hi, friend! Stop!' The coachman stopped.

`They're coming! They're yonder!' shouted the peasant. `See what a turnout!' he said, pointing to four persons on horseback, and two in a charabanc, coming along the road.

They were Vronsky with a jockey, Veslovsky, and Anna on horseback, and Princess Varvara and Sviiazhsky in the charabanc. They had gone out to look at the working of a new reaping machine.

When the carriage stopped, the party on horseback were coming at a walking pace. Anna was in front beside Veslovsky. Anna was quietly walking her horse, a sturdy English cob with cropped mane and short tail; Anna, with her beautiful head, her black hair straying loose under her high hat, her full shoulders, her slender waist in her black riding habit, and all the ease and grace of her deportment, impressed Dolly.

  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.