IN THE CORNER OF A SMALL SQUARE
Твори О.С. Пушкіна.Переклад англійською мовою.>IN THE CORNER OF A SMALL SQUARE

 

IN THE CORNER OF A SMALL SQUARE

(1830 or 1831)

 


I

 

Votre coeur est l'éponge imbibée
de fiel et de vinaigre.
CORRESPONDANCE INÉDITE


In the corner of a small square, in front of a little wooden house, there stood a carriage - an unusual phenomenon in this remote area of the city. The driver lay asleep on the coach box, while the postilion played snowballs with some serving boys.
A pale lady, no longer in the first bloom of youth but still beautiful, dressed with great refinement, lay on a sofa strewn with cushions, in a room appointed with taste and luxury. A young man of about twenty-six sat in front of the fireplace, leafing through an English novel.
The pale lady's black eyes, deep-set and blue-shadowed, were fixed on the young man. It was getting dark and the fire was going out, but he continued his reading. At last she said:
"Has anything happened, Valerian? You're angry today."
"I am," he answered, without raising his eyes from the page.
"With whom?"
"With Prince Goretskii. He's giving a ball today to which I'm not invited."
"Did you very much want to attend his ball?"
"Not in the least. The devil take him with his ball. But if he invites the whole town, he must invite me too."
"Which Goretskii is this? Prince Iakov?"
"Not at all. Prince lakov's been dead for a long time. It's his brother, Prince Grigorii, the well-known jackass."
"Who's his wife?"
"She's the daughter of that chorister, what's his name?" "I haven't gone out for so long that I'm beginning to forget who's who in your high society. In any case, do you so highly value whatever attention Prince Grigorii, a well-known scoundrel, pays to you, and whatever favor his wife, the daughter of a chorister, bestows upon you?"
"Of course I do," answered the young man heatedly, tossing his book on the table. "I'm a man of aristocratic society and don't want to be slighted by any one of its members. What their lineage or morality may be is none of my business."
"Whom do you call aristocrats?"
"Those with whom the Countess Fuflygina shakes hands."
"And who's this Countess Fuflygina?"
"A stupid and insolent woman."
"Are you saying that being slighted by people whom you despise can upset you so much?" she asked after a brief silence. "Do confess, there must be some other reason."
"So that's what you're driving at: suspicions and jealousy, all over again! God be my witness, this is intolerable."
With these words he rose and picked up his hat.
"Are you leaving already?" the lady asked anxiously. "Don't you want to have dinner with me?"
"No, I promised to eat with someone."
"Do have dinner with me," she resumed in an affectionate and timid voice. "I've had some champagne bought for the occasion."
"And what did you do that for? Do you think I'm some kind of Moscow gambler who can't do without champagne?"
"Last time you found fault with my wine and were cross because women don't know anything about wines. There's no way to please you."
"I'm not asking anybody to please me."
She made no answer. The young man immediately regretted the rudeness of his last words. He stepped up to her, took her hand, and said with tenderness:
"Zinaida, forgive me: I'm just not myself today; I'm angry with everybody for everything. At such times I should sit at home. Forgive me: don't be angry with me."
"I'm not angry, Valerian. But it hurts me to see how much you've changed lately. You come to visit me as if out of duty, not because your heart draws you here. You're bored with me. You don't talk, you don't know what to do, you just leaf through books, and find fault with everything in order to quarrel with me and be able to go away. I'm not reproaching you: our feelings are not in our power, but I..."
Valerian was no longer listening to her. He was pulling at his glove, which he had put on long before, and was impatiently looking out into the street. She fell silent with an air of restrained irritation. He squeezed her hand, uttered some meaningless words, and ran out of the room like a restless schoolboy from a classroom. Zinaida went to the window and watched him waiting for his carriage, then climbing in and leaving. She stayed at the window for a long time, pressing her burning forehead against the icy pane. At length she said aloud:
"No, he doesn't love me!"
She rang for her maid, told her to light the lamp, and sat down at her desk.

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X. soon found out that his wife was unfaithful. It threw him into great perplexity. He did not know what to do: it seemed to him that to pretend not to notice anything would be stupid; to laugh at this so very common misfortune would be despicable; to get angry in earnest would be too scandalous; and to complain with an air of deeply offended feeling would be too ridiculous. Fortunately, his wife came to his aid.
Having fallen in love with Volodskii, she conceived the kind of aversion to her spouse that is characteristic only of women and is understandable only to them. One day she walked into his study, locked the door behind her, and declared that she loved Volodskii, that she did not want to deceive and secretly dishonor her husband, and that she was resolved to divorce him. X. was alarmed by such candor and precipitous ness. Giving him no time to collect himself, she removed herself from the English Embankment to Kolomna that same day, and sent a brief note about it all to Volodskii, who had expected nothing of the kind...
He was thrown into despair. He had never meant to tie himself down with such bonds. He hated boredom, feared every obligation, and valued his egotistical independence above all else. But it was a fait accompli. Zinaida remained on his hands. He pretended to be grateful, but in fact he faced the pains of his liaison as if performing an official duty or getting down to the tedious task of checking his butler's monthly accounts ...



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Оригінал твору

Бібліотека ім. О. С. Пушкіна (м. Київ).
А.С. Пушкин. Полное собрание сочинений в десяти томах