SERGEY IVANOVITCH and Katavasov had only just reached the station of the Kursk line, which was particularly busy and full of people that day, when, looking round for the groom who was following with their things, they saw a party of volunteers driving up in four cabs. Ladies met them with bouquets of flowers, and followed by the rushing crowd they went into the station.
Yes, so I saw, answered Sergey Ivanovitch. They were speaking of the last telegram stating that the Turks had been for three days in succession beaten at all points and put to flight, and that to-morrow a decisive engagement was expected.
Ah, by the way, a splendid young fellow has asked leave to go, and theyve made some difficulty, I dont know why. I meant to ask you; I know him, please write a note about his case. Hes being sent by Countess Lidia Ivanovna.
Sergey Ivanovitch asked for all the details the princess knew about the young man, and going into the first-class waiting-room, wrote a note to the person on whom the granting of leave of absence depended, and handed it to the princess.
While they were talking the crowd streamed by them into the dining-room. They went forward too, and heard a gentleman with a glass in his hand delivering a loud discourse to the volunteers. In the service of religion, humanity, and our brothers, the gentleman said, his voice growing louder and louder; to this great cause mother Moscow dedicates you with her blessing. Jivio! he concluded, loudly and tearfully.
Ah, princess! that was something like! said Stepan Arkadyevitch, suddenly appearing in the middle of the crowd and beaming upon them with a delighted smile. Capitally, warmly said, wasnt it? Bravo! And Sergey Ivanovitch! Why, you ought to have said somethingjust a few words, you know, to encourage them; you do that so well, he added with a soft, respectful, and discreet smile, moving Sergey Ivanovitch forward a little by the arm.
Then youll see my wife. Ive written to her, but youll see her first. Please tell her that theyve seen me and that its all right, as the English say. Shell understand. Oh, and be so good as to tell her Im appointed secretary of the committee But shell understand! You know, les petites misères de la vie humaine, he said, as it were apologising to the princess. And Princess Myakynot Liza, but Bibishis sending a thousand guns and twelve nurses. Did I tell you?
Its a pity youre going away, said Stepan Arkadyevitch. To-morrow were giving a dinner to two whore setting offDimer-Bartnyansky from Petersburg and our Veslovsky, Grisha. Theyre both going. Veslovskys only lately married. Theres fine fellow for you! Eh, princess? he turned to the lady.
The princess looked at Koznishev without replying. But the fact that Sergey Ivanovitch and the princess seemed anxious to get rid of him did not in the least disconcert Stepan Arkadyevitch. Smiling, he stared at the feather in the princesss hat, and then about him as though he were going to pick something up. Seeing a lady approaching with a collecting-box, he beckoned her up and put in a five-rouble note.
You dont say so! he cried, when the princess told him that Vronsky was going by this train. For an instant Stepan Arkadyevitchs face looked sad, but a minute later, when stroking his moustaches and swinging as he walked, he went into the hall where Vronsky was, he had completely forgotten his own despairing sobs over his sisters corpse, and he saw in Vronsky only a hero and an old friend.
With all his faults one cant refuse to do him justice, said the princess to Sergey Ivanovitch as soon as Stepan Arkadyevitch had left them. What a typically Russian, Slav nature! Only, Im afraid it wont be pleasant for Vronsky to see him. Say what you will, Im touched by that mans fate. Do talk to him a little on the way, said the princess.
A bell sounded. Every one crowded to the doors. Here he is! said the princess, indicating Vronsky, who with his mother on his arm walked by, wearing a long overcoat and wide-brimmed black hat. Oblonsky was walking beside him, talking eagerly of something.
Probably on Oblonskys pointing them out, he looked round in the direction where the princess and Sergey Ivanovitch were standing, and without speaking lifted his hat. His face, aged and worn by suffering, looked stony.
On the platform there rang out God save the Tsar, then shouts of hurrah! and jivio! One of the volunteers, a tall, very young man with a hollow chest, was particularly conspicuous, bowing and waving his felt hat and a nosegay over his head. Then two officers emerged, bowing too, and a stout man with a big beard, wearing a greasy forage-cap.