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The Darling and Other Stories

The Two Volodyas
"LET me; I want to drive myself! I'll sit by the driver!" Sofya Lvovna said in a loud
voice. "Wait a minute, driver; I'll get up on the box beside you."
She stood up in the sledge, and her husband, Vladimir Nikititch, and the friend of her
childhood, Vladimir Mihalovitch, held her arms to prevent her falling. The three horses
were galloping fast.
"I said you ought not to have given her brandy," Vladimir Nikititch whispered to his
companion with vexation. "What a fellow you are, really!"
The Colonel knew by experience that in women like his wife, Sofya Lvovna, after a little
too much wine, turbulent gaiety was followed by hysterical laughter and then tears. He
was afraid that when they got home, instead of being able to sleep, he would have to be
administering compresses and drops.
"Wo!" cried Sofya Lvovna. "I want to drive myself!"
She felt genuinely gay and triumphant. For the last two months, ever since her wedding,
she had been tortured by the thought that she had married Colonel Yagitch from worldly
motives and, as it is said, par dépit; but that evening, at the restaurant, she had suddenly
become convinced that she loved him passionately. In spite of his fifty-four years, he was
so slim, agile, supple, he made puns and hummed to the gipsies' tunes so charmingly.
Really, the older men were nowadays a thousand times more interesting than the young.
It seemed as though age and youth had changed parts. The Colonel was two years older
than her father, but could there be any importance in that if, honestly speaking, there were
infinitely more vitality, go, and freshness in him than in herself, though she was only
twenty-three?
"Oh, my darling!" she thought. "You are wonderful!"
She had become convinced in the restaurant, too, that not a spark of her old feeling
remained. For the friend of her childhood, Vladimir Mihalovitch, or simply Volodya,
with whom only the day before she had been madly, miserably in love, she now felt
nothing but complete indifference. All that evening he had seemed to her spiritless,
torpid, uninteresting, and insignificant, and the sangfroid with which he habitually
avoided paying at restaurants on this occasion revolted her, and she had hardly been able
to resist saying, "If you are poor, you should stay at home." The Colonel paid for all.
Perhaps because trees, telegraph posts, and drifts of snow kept flitting past her eyes, all
sorts of disconnected ideas came rushing into her mind. She reflected: the bill at the
restaurant had been a hundred and twenty roubles, and a hundred had gone to the gipsies,
and to-morrow she could fling away a thousand roubles if she liked; and only two months
 
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