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Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/160

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ceived project. Maria Ivanovna started upon her journey a few days after this, accompanied by the faithful Paláshka and the trusty Savelitch, who consoled himself, during his forced separation from me, with the reflection that he was at least serving my bride-elect.

Maria Ivanovna arrived safely at Sofia, and, on learning that the court happened to be at Tzarskoe-Selo, she decided upon remaining. A little room behind a partition was got ready for her at the station. The station-master's wife immediately entered into conversation with her, informed her that she was the niece of a fire-lighter at the palace, and initiated her into all the mysteries of court life. She told her at what hour the empress usually rose, drank her coffee, took her walk; what great gentlemen were with her at such times; what she had deigned to say yesterday at dinner, and whom she had received in the evening. In a word, Anna Vlassievna's accounts would have filled a volume of historical notes, and would have been highly prized by the coming generation!

Maria Ivanovna listened attentively. She strolled into the garden. Anna Vlassievna[1] had a story to tell of each alley, each little bridge; and, after a long walk, they returned to the station quite pleased with each other.

The following morning Maria Ivanovna woke early, dressed, and quietly went out into the garden. It was a lovely morning. The sun was shining brightly through the lime-trees, already seared by the fresh autumnal breezes, the smooth surface of the broad lake glittered in

  1. Anne, daughter of Blase.—Tr.