The Chorus Girl and Other Stories HTML version

At A Country House
PAVEL ILYITCH RASHEVITCH walked up and down, stepping softly on the floor
covered with little Russian plaids, and casting a long shadow on the wall and ceiling
while his guest, Meier, the deputy examining magistrate, sat on the sofa with one leg
drawn up under him smoking and listening. The clock already pointed to eleven, and
there were sounds of the table being laid in the room next to the study.
"Say what you like," Rashevitch was saying, "from the standpoint of fraternity, equality,
and the rest of it, Mitka, the swineherd, is perhaps a man the same as Goethe and
Frederick the Great; but take your stand on a scientific basis, have the courage to look
facts in the face, and it will be obvious to you that blue blood is not a mere prejudice, that
it is not a feminine invention. Blue blood, my dear fellow, has an historical justification,
and to refuse to recognize it is, to my thinking, as strange as to refuse to recognize the
antlers on a stag. One must reckon with facts! You are a law student and have confined
your attention to the humane studies, and you can still flatter yourself with illusions of
equality, fraternity, and so on; I am an incorrigible Darwinian, and for me words such as
lineage, aristocracy, noble blood, are not empty sounds."
Rashevitch was roused and spoke with feeling. His eyes sparkled, his pince-nez would
not stay on his nose, he kept nervously shrugging his shoulders and blinking, and at the
word "Darwinian" he looked jauntily in the looking-glass and combed his grey beard
with both hands. He was wearing a very short and shabby reefer jacket and narrow
trousers; the rapidity of his movements, his jaunty air, and his abbreviated jacket all
seemed out of keeping with him, and his big comely head, with long hair suggestive of a
bishop or a veteran poet, seemed to have been fixed on to the body of a tall, lanky,
affected youth. When he stood with his legs wide apart, his long shadow looked like a
pair of scissors.
He was fond of talking, and he always fancied that he was saying something new and
original. In the presence of Meier he was conscious of an unusual flow of spirits and rush
of ideas. He found the examining magistrate sympathetic, and was stimulated by his
youth, his health, his good manners, his dignity, and, above all, by his cordial attitude to
himself and his family. Rashevitch was not a favourite with his acquaintances; as a rule
they fought shy of him, and, as he knew, declared that he had driven his wife into her
grave with his talking, and they called him, behind his back, a spiteful creature and a
toad. Meier, a man new to the district and unprejudiced, visited him often and readily and
had even been known to say that Rashevitch and his daughters were the only people in
the district with whom he felt as much at home as with his own people. Rashevitch liked
him too, because he was a young man who might be a good match for his elder daughter,
And now, enjoying his ideas and the sound of his own voice, and looking with pleasure at
the plump but well-proportioned, neatly cropped, correct Meier, Rashevitch dreamed of
how he would arrange his daughter's marriage with a good man, and then how all his