Page:The life of Tolstoy.djvu/34

This page has been validated.

14

THE LIFE OF TOLSTOY

artistic instinct, an exceedingly delicate sense of proportion, a good-natured, gay humour, exceptional and inexhaustible imagination, and high moral conceptions; and all this without any conceit. He had such an imagination, that for hours he could tell humorous tales and ghost stories in the style of Mrs. Radcliffe, with so much earnestness and such an air of reality that one forgot it was fiction.

"When I was five years old, and my brothers Dimitri and Sergius six and seven, Nicolas announced to us that he possessed the secret which, if known, would make everybody happy. There would be no illness, no trouble, nobody would feel anger against another, and people would begin to love each other and live in 'Ants' Brotherhood.' (Probably he meant Moravian Brotherhood,[1] about which he had read or heard; but in our children's minds it was 'Ants' Brotherhood.') I remember that the word 'ants' especially pleased us, reminding us of the ants in their hills. We even invented a game of 'Ants' Brotherhood.' We crept under chairs, placed boxes around them, covered up all chinks with handkerchiefs, and sat in the darkness pressed against each other. I remember that I used then to have a particular

  1. The Russian for "Ant" is muravei.—Translator.