Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
that he would not get a
position with the salary he required, especially as he expected
nothing out of the way; he only wanted what the men of his own
age and standing did get, and he was no worse qualified for
performing duties of the kind than any other man.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was not merely liked by all who knew him for
his good humor, but for his bright disposition, and his
unquestionable honesty. In him, in his handsome, radiant figure,
his sparkling eyes, black hair and eyebrows, and the white and
red of his face, there was something which produced a physical
effect of kindliness and good humor on the people who met him.
"Aha! Stiva! Oblonsky! Here he is!" was almost always said
with a smile of delight on meeting him. Even though it happened
at times that after a conversation with him it seemed that
nothing particularly delightful had happened, the next day, and
the next, every one was just as delighted at meeting him again.
After filling for three years the post of president of one of the
government boards at Moscow, Stepan Arkadyevitch had won the
respect, as well as the liking, of his fellow-officials,
subordinates, and superiors, and all who had had business with
him. The principal qualities in Stepan Arkadyevitch which had
gained him this universal respect in the service consisted, in
the first place, of his extreme indulgence for others, founded on
a consciousness of his own shortcomings; secondly, of his perfect
liberalism--not the liberalism he read of in the papers, but the
liberalism that was in his blood, in virtue of which he treated
all men perfectly equally and exactly the same, whatever their
fortune or calling might be; and thirdly--the most important
point--his complete indifference to the business in which he was
engaged, in consequence of which he was never carried away, and
never made mistakes.
On reaching the offices of the board, Stepan Arkadyevitch,
escorted by a deferential porter with a portfolio, went into his
little private room, put on his uniform, and went into the
boardroom. The clerks and copyists all rose, greeting him with
good-humored deference. Stepan Arkadyevitch moved quickly, as
ever, to his place, shook hands with his colleagues, and sat
down. He made a joke or two, and talked just as much as was
consistent with due decorum, and began work. No one knew better
than Stepan Arkadyevitch how to hit on the exact line between
freedom, simplicity, and official stiffness necessary for the
agreeable conduct of business. A secretary, with the
good-humored deference common to every one in Stepan
Arkadyevitchs office, came up with papers, and began to speak in
the familiar and easy tone which had been introduced by Stepan
"We have succeeded in getting the information from the government
department of Penza. Here, would you care?...."
"Youve got them at last?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laying his
finger on the paper. "Now, gentlemen...."
And the sitting of the board began.
"If they knew," he thought, bending his head with a significant
air as he listened to the report, "what a guilty little boy their
president was half an hour ago." And his eyes were laughing
during the reading of the report. Till two oclock the sitting
would go on without a break, and at two oclock there would be an
interval and luncheon.
It was not yet two, when the large glass doors of the boardroom
suddenly opened and someone came in.
All the officials sitting on the further side under the portrait
of the Tsar and the eagle, delighted at any distraction, looked
round at the door; but the doorkeeper standing at the door at
once drove out the intruder, and closed the glass door after him.
When the case had been read through, Stepan Arkadyevitch got up
and stretched, and by way of tribute to the liberalism of the
times took out a cigarette in the boardroom and went into his
private room. Two of the members of the board, the old veteran
in the service, Nikitin, and the _Kammerjunker Grinevitch_, went
in with him.
"We shall have time to finish after lunch," said Stepan
"To be sure we shall!" said Nikitin.
"A pretty sharp fellow this Fomin must be," said Grinevitch of
one of the persons taking part in the case they were examining.
Stepan Arkadyevitch frowned at Grinevitchs words, giving him
thereby to understand that it was improper to pass judgment
prematurely, and made him no reply.
"Who was that came in?" he asked the doorkeeper.
"Someone, your excellency, crept in
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