When the visitor had gone out of the kitchen, Pelageya appeared and began clearing away. Her agitation still persisted. Her face was red and looked scared. She scarcely touched the floor with the broom, and swept every corner five times over. She lingered for a long time in the room where mamma was sitting. She was evidently oppressed by her isolation, and she was longing to express herself, to share her impressions with some one, to open her heart.
Hes gone, she muttered, seeing that mamma would not begin the conversation.
One can see he is a good man, said mamma, not taking her eyes off her sewing. Sober and steady.
I declare I wont marry him, mistress! Pelageya cried suddenly, flushing crimson. I declare I wont!
Dont be silly; you are not a child. Its a serious step; you must think it over thoroughly, its no use talking nonsense. Do you like him?
What an idea, mistress! cried Pelageya, abashed. They say such things that my goodness.
She should say she doesnt like him! thought Grisha.
What an affected creature you are. Do you like him?
But he is old, mistress!
Think of something else, nurse flew out at her from the next room. He has not reached his fortieth year; and what do you want a young man for? Handsome is as handsome does. Marry him and thats all about it!
I swear I wont, squealed Pelageya.
You are talking nonsense. What sort of rascal do you want? Anyone else would have bowed down to his feet, and you declare you wont marry him. You want to be always winking at the postmen and tutors. That tutor that used to come to Grishenka, mistress she was never tired of making eyes at him. O-o, the shameless hussy!
Have you seen this Danilo before? mamma asked Pelageya.
How could I have seen him? I set eyes on him to-day for the first time. Aksinya picked him up and brought him along the accursed devil. And where has he come from for my undoing!
At dinner, when Pelageya was handing the dishes, everyone looked into her face and teased her about the cabman. She turned fearfully red, and went off into a forced giggle.
It must be shameful to get married, thought Grisha. Terribly shameful.
All the dishes were too salt, and blood oozed from the half-raw chickens, and, to cap it all, plates and knives kept dropping out of Pelageyas hands during dinner, as though from a shelf that had given way; but no one said a word of blame to her, as they all understood the state of her feelings. Only once papa flicked his table-napkin angrily and said to mamma:
What do you want to be getting them all married for? What business is it of yours? Let them get married of themselves if they want to.
After dinner, neighbouring cooks and maid-servants kept flitting into the kitchen, and there was the sound of whispering till late evening. How they had scented out the matchmaking, God knows. When Grisha woke in the night he heard his nurse and the cook whispering together in the nursery. Nurse was talking
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