Read Books Online, for Free
|The Gambler||Fyodor Dostoevsky|
|Page 2 of 6||
These details I noted within a space of a few seconds.
At first my bow and the fact that I had my hat in my hand barely caught their attention. The Baron only scowled a little, and the Baroness swept straight on.
"Madame la Baronne," said I, loudly and distinctly--embroidering each word, as it were--"j'ai l'honneur d'etre votre esclave."
Then I bowed again, put on my hat, and walked past the Baron with a rude smile on my face.
Polina had ordered me merely to take off my hat: the bow and the general effrontery were of my own invention. God knows what instigated me to perpetrate the outrage! In my frenzy I felt as though I were walking on air,
"Hein!" ejaculated--or, rather, growled--the Baron as he turned towards me in angry surprise.
I too turned round, and stood waiting in pseudo-courteous expectation. Yet still I wore on my face an impudent smile as I gazed at him. He seemed to hesitate, and his brows contracted to their utmost limits. Every moment his visage was growing darker. The Baroness also turned in my direction, and gazed at me in wrathful perplexity, while some of the passers-by also began to stare at us, and others of them halted outright.
"Hein!" the Baron vociferated again, with a redoubled growl and a note of growing wrath in his voice.
"Ja wohl!" I replied, still looking him in the eyes.
"Sind sie rasend?" he exclaimed, brandishing his stick, and, apparently, beginning to feel nervous. Perhaps it was my costume which intimidated him, for I was well and fashionably dressed, after the manner of a man who belongs to indisputably good society.
"Ja wo-o-ohl!" cried I again with all my might with a longdrawn rolling of the " ohl " sound after the fashion of the Berliners (who constantly use the phrase "Ja wohl!" in conversation, and more or less prolong the syllable "ohl" according as they desire to express different shades of meaning or of mood).
At this the Baron and the Baroness faced sharply about, and almost fled in their alarm. Some of the bystanders gave vent to excited exclamations, and others remained staring at me in astonishment. But I do not remember the details very well.
Wheeling quietly about, I returned in the direction of Polina Alexandrovna. But, when I had got within a hundred paces of her seat, I saw her rise and set out with the children towards the hotel.
At the portico I caught up to her.
"I have perpetrated the--the piece of idiocy," I said as I came level with her.
"Have you? Then you can take the consequences," she replied without so much as looking at me. Then she moved towards the staircase.
I spent the rest of the evening walking in the park. Thence I passed into the forest, and walked on until I found myself in a neighbouring principality. At a wayside restaurant I partook of an omelette and some wine, and was charged for the idyllic repast a thaler and a half.
Not until eleven o'clock did I return home--to find a summons awaiting me from the General.
|Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004