persuasively, while the cook alternately sobbed and giggled. When he fell asleep after this, Grisha dreamed of Pelageya being carried off by Tchernomor and a witch.
Next day there was a calm. The life of the kitchen went on its accustomed way as though the cabman did not exist. Only from time to time nurse put on her new shawl, assumed a solemn and austere air, and went off somewhere for an hour or two, obviously to conduct negotiations. Pelageya did not see the cabman, and when his name was mentioned she flushed up and cried:
May he be thrice damned! As though I should be thinking of him! Tfoo!
In the evening mamma went into the kitchen, while nurse and Pelageya were zealously mincing something, and said:
You can marry him, of coursethats your businessbut I must tell you, Pelageya, that he cannot live here. You know I dont like to have anyone sitting in the kitchen. Mind now, remember. And I cant let you sleep out.
Goodness knows! What an idea, mistress! shrieked the cook. Why do you keep throwing him up at me? Plague take him! Hes a regular curse, confound him!
Glancing one Sunday morning into the kitchen, Grisha was struck dumb with amazement. The kitchen was crammed full of people. Here were cooks from the whole courtyard, the porter, two policemen, a non-commissioned officer with good-conduct stripes, and the boy Filka. This Filka was generally hanging about the laundry playing with the dogs; now he was combed and washed, and was holding an ikon in a tinfoil setting. Pelageya was standing in the middle of the kitchen in a new cotton dress, with a flower on her head. Beside her stood the cabman. The happy pair were red in the face and perspiring and blinking with embarrassment.
Well I fancy it is time, said the non-commissioned officer, after a prolonged silence.
Pelageyas face worked all over and she began blubbering.
The soldier took a big loaf from the table, stood beside nurse, and began blessing the couple. The cabman went up to the soldier, flopped down on his knees, and gave a smacking kiss on his hand. He did the same before nurse. Pelageya followed him mechanically, and she too bowed down to the ground. At last the outer door was opened, there was a whiff of white mist, and the whole party flocked noisily out of the kitchen into the yard.
Poor thing, poor thing, thought Grisha, hearing the sobs of the cook. Where have they taken her? Why dont papa and mamma protect her?
After the wedding there was singing and concertina-playing in the laundry till late evening. Mamma was cross all the evening because nurse smelt of vodka, and owing to the wedding there was no one to heat the samovar. Pelageya had not come back by the time Grisha went to bed.
The poor thing is crying somewhere in the dark! he thought. While the cabman is saying to her shut up!
Next morning the cook was in the kitchen again. The cabman came in for a minute. He thanked mamma, and glancing sternly at Pelageya, said:
Will you look after her, madam? Be a father and a mother to her. And you, too, Aksinya Stepanovna, do not forsake her, see that everything is as it should be without any nonsense. And also, madam, if you would kindly advance me five roubles of her wages. I have got to buy a new horse-collar.
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