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The Old Man (30)

July 20, 2016


I visited the Lutvinovs again on a day memorable to me, September first. Mikhail Fyodorovich was pacing the living room in terrible agitation and greeted me with a question:

“Have you heard? Sevastopol has been abandoned to the enemy!”

The old man was holding a crumpled poster, which he handed to me; I read the report. For a long time we said nothing. Seryozha appeared with a rifle on his shoulder; he was just back from hunting.

“Seryozha, Sevastopol has been abandoned!” said the old man.

“Sevastopol…?” repeated Seryozha. “Has it really?”

He read the poster, stood motionless for some time, and then put it on the table and started walking around the room.

“What do you say? Are you sad?” asked the old man.

“It’s annoying!” replied Seryozha. As he did not have any warmth of spirit, his pride had awakened. “M. Dubois will be so idiotically glad. But I tell you this in advance, uncle, I won’t allow him to be glad about it.”

“Oh, how can you say that, my dear,” observed Tatyana Grigoryevna, wiping away her copious tears. “He may well take offense if you are too hard on him.”

Mikhail Fyodorovich clapped his grandnephew on the shoulder.

“No, let him! Don’t let our boys down!” he said, and again began to pace the room. He was so upset that one could not help being concerned for him. Tatyana Grigoryevna and Seryozha kept a close watch on his every movement.


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Я опять навестила Лутвиновых в памятный для меня день, первого сентября. Михаил Федорович в страшном волнении ходил по гостиной и встретил меня вопросом:

— Слышали вы? Севастополь оставлен неприятелю!

В руке у старика была измятая афишка, он мне ее передал; я прочла донесение. Мы долго молчали. Явился Сережа с ружьем на плече; он только что воротился с охоты.

— Сережа, Севастополь оставлен? сказал старик.

— Севастополь?… повторил Сережа, неужели?

Он прочел афишку, несколько времени стоял неподвижно, и положив ее на стол, прошелся по комнате.

— Что ты? Грустно тебе? спросил старик.

— Досадно! отвечал Сережа, в котором, за неимением душевной теплоты, пробудилась гордость. — M-r Dubois так глупо обрадуется. Но, я вам заранее говорю, дедушка, я ему радоваться не позволю.

— И, что ты, мой милый, заметила Татьяна Григорьевна, обтирая обильные слезы, — он, пожалуй, обидится, если ты с ним круто обойдешься.

Михаил Федорович потрепал внука по плечу.

— Нет! пусть его, не выдавай наших! сказал он, и опять принялся ходить по комнате. Он был так встревожен, что на его счет нельзя было не беспокоиться. Татьяна Григорьевна и Сережа следили за всеми его движениями.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2016 10:31 am

    I don’t like “It’s irksome!” for “Досадно!”; surely nobody’s said that in a century or so. Maybe “How annoying!”?

    • July 21, 2016 12:40 pm

      I vacillated about that (and also about whether “a day memorable to me” was too stilted). I thought “irksome” was too unlike something I’d say myself, while “annoying” and “irritating” were too much like something I could say today — if not actually anachronistic-sounding, they might be too straightforward for Seryozha, who I imagine sounding, well, annoyingly calm, and as if he could be translating everything he says from a polished, intellectual French. But looking at it again, I think you’re right. Thanks for another good suggestion!

    • July 21, 2016 12:44 pm

      I also wonder if something with “bother(some)” would fit, but I’m scared of getting things wrong with that kind of borrowing from dialects other than mine. Anyway, I like your “annoying” more and more, and I’ll go with that for now.

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