“Among the young people sent by Peter the Great to foreign lands for acquiring information was his godson, arab Ibrahim.” Wounded in the Spanish war, he returned to Paris. The tsar repeatedly called his pet back to Russia, but he did not hurry with his departure. He was tied to Paris: a young African loved Countess D. who, being no longer in the “first color of the years, was famous for its beauty.”
French beauties paid much attention to Ibrahim, who, however, disliked him: “I felt that he was a kind of beast for them,” some miracle. But the countess took the arap without special ceremony, which flattered him. Very soon, exhausted by the influence of passion, “she gave herself to the admiring Ibrahim.”
“There was a consequence of careless love.” In the light of betting on who will give birth to the countess: a black or white child. Only one earl was in ignorance. When the countess gave birth, the black baby was sent to the provinces and replaced with a white child.
Peter writes to the Duke of Orleans about Ibrahim. Sovereign “grants him goodwill to return to Russia or not,” in any case he will continue to support his godson. “This letter touched Ibrahim to the depth of his heart.” Despite the severity of the separation from the Countess Leonora, he wrote her a farewell letter and left France.
In the suburbs of St. Petersburg Peter himself met a monk. Ibrahim is admired by the sovereign and his activity.
From Paris to St. Petersburg, the young Ivan Korsakov returned and brought a letter from the Countess to the Arab. It is filled with oaths of love and understanding of the duty of the beloved. “Ibrahim read this letter twenty times, kissing priceless lines with rapture.” Korsakov, however, said that the Countess was at first distressed, and then took herself a new lover. Ibrahim’s heart was deeply dejected.
The African with Korsakov go to the palace. Ivan is struck by the beauty of St. Petersburg maidens and the luxury of their outfits. He was waiting for the end of “lamentable music” and the beginning of the minuet. He invited a young lady to dance, but for not giving her three proper curtseyes and choosing her himself (“in minuets this is right for a lady”), “I must drink a big eagle cup.” Korsakov instantly intoxicated. The girl invited Ibrahim to dance.
The girl with whom the aparas danced turned out to be the daughter of Gavrila Afanasyevich Rzhevsky. He “was a native Russian gentleman, in his words, he could not stand the German spirit and tried to preserve in his domestic life the customs of his old age.” His... daughter, Natalia, 17 years old, was brought up in an old way, that is, surrounded by mothers, nannies, sewed with gold and did not know the letters. ” However, her German father could not resist the desire to learn to dance with her.
The day was festive. Gavrila Afanasyevich gathered relatives and friends at the table, “the men sat on one side, the women on the other side.” At the end of the table sat a gentleman of the bar, a thirty-year-old dwarf The Swallow and a captured Swedish dancer. They also called Ekimovna, whom the master called “a fool.” Men at the table condemned the current mores, spoiled girls, that every month they order new dresses. “Wives have forgotten the word apostolic: the wife so be afraid of her husband.”
“It’s who else drove into the gate to the yard.” What are you yawning, cattle? ” – Rzhevsky turned to servants. It turned out that the sleds of the tsar were: Peter himself came to Gavrila Afanasyevich to woo Natasha for Ibrahim. Rzhevsky agreed. When he told about this to his sister Tatiana and the father-in-law Boris Lykov, Natasha stood outside the door. Hearing about the consent of her father, she lost her senses and, falling, she broke her head on a forged chest. In delirium, he repeated the name of Valerian, an orphan, an archer’s son, who was brought up in Rzhevsky’s house. Two years since he left for the regiment. Father Valerian once saved Gavril Afanasyevich.
“Unexpected matchmaking surprised Ibrahim,” but, listening to Peter’s arguments, he agreed: “The Emperor is right: I must secure my future destiny.” A wedding with a young Rzhevsky will attach me to the proud Russian nobility, and I will cease to be an alien in my new homeland. I will not demand love, I will be content with her faithfulness. “
Natasha came to herself from illness in two weeks. Ibrahim talked with Gavril Afanasyevich. He was waiting for the opportunity to see the bride. Then Natasha remembered everything. Sad, she called to her dwarf. She persuaded the girl to obey the will of her father: “Arap during your illness, everyone had time to bewitch.” The master is mad about him. “It’s a pity that the arab, and we want our best bridegroom.” “She surrendered with a weak and sad soul to her lot.”
In the house of Gavril Afanasyevich in a cramped cottage, a captured Swede played the flute. At this time, “a young man of high stature, in uniform,” went in to him.
“You did not recognize me, Gustav Adamich,” said the visitor in a touched voice, “you do not remember the boy you taught in the Swedish article.”