Five people of rich and young people arrived one night to have a good time at the St. Petersburg balik. Champagne was drunk a lot, the girls were beautiful, dancing and noise did not stop; but it was somehow boring, awkward, everyone seemed to think that it was all unnecessary.
One of the five young people, Deleisov, more than anyone else, dissatisfied with himself, and in the evening, went out with the intention of quietly leaving. In the next room he heard a dispute, and then the door flew open, and on the threshold appeared a strange figure. He was a middle-sized man, with a narrow bent back and long, disheveled hair. He wore a short overcoat and tattered narrow trousers over uncleaned boots. A dirty shirt protruded from sleeves over thin arms. But, despite the extreme thinness
He was told that this is a mad musician from the theater, who sometimes comes to the hostess. Deleisov returned to the hall, the musician stood at the door, smiling with a smile at the dancers. He was called to dance, and he, winking, smiling and twitching, heaved, uncomfortably, started jumping around the room. In the middle of the quadrille he collided with an officer and fell to the floor with all his weight. Almost everyone laughed at first, but the musician did not get up. The guests fell silent.
When the musician was picked up and put on a chair, he threw back his hair from his forehead with a quick movement of the bony hand and smiled, not answering questions. The hostess, looking sympathetically at the musician, said to the guests: “He is a very good fellow, only pathetic.”
Then the musician woke up
“It’s all nothing,” he said suddenly, with a visible effort, rising from his chair.
And to prove that he did not hurt at all, he went out into the middle of the room and wanted to jump, but he staggered and fell again, if they did not support him. Everyone felt awkward. Suddenly he raised his head, put forward his trembling leg, with the same vulgar gesture, threw back his hair and, approaching the violinist, took from him the violin: “Gentlemen, let’s play music!”
– What a beautiful face! .. There is something unusual in it, – said Delesov. Meanwhile, Albert, not paying any attention to anyone, set up the violin. Then the bow moved smoothly along the strings. A clear, harmonious sound flashed through the room, and there was perfect silence.
The sounds of the theme freely, gracefully poured after the first, some unexpectedly clear and soothing light suddenly illuminating the inner world of each listener. From the state of boredom, bustle and spiritual sleep in which these people were, they were suddenly transferred unnoticed to a completely different, forgotten by them world. In their soul there were visions of the past, past happiness, love and sadness. Albert with each note grew taller. He was no longer ugly or strange. Pressing his chin with a chin and listening with passion to his sounds, he moved his legs convulsively. He straightened himself to his full height, then carefully bent his back. The face shone with ecstatic joy; His eyes burned, his nostrils flared, his lips opened with pleasure.
All who were in the room during the game Albert remained silent and seemed to breathe only his sounds. Delesov experienced an unusual feeling. The frost ran along his back, rising higher and higher up his throat, and now something was pounding in his nose with thin needles, and tears streamed unnoticed on his cheeks. The sounds of the violin moved Delesov to his first youth. He suddenly felt like a seventeen-year-old, self-satisfied, beautiful, blissfully stupid and unconsciously happy being. He remembered his first love for his cousin, the first confession, the heat and the incomprehensible charm of an accidental kiss, the unsolved mystery of the surrounding nature. All the invaluable minutes of that time, one after another, rose in front of him. He contemplated them with pleasure and cried…
By the end of the last variation, Albert’s face turned red, his eyes burned, drops of sweat trickled down his cheeks. The whole body moved more and more, the pale lips no longer closed, and the whole figure expressed the ecstatic greed of pleasure. Desperately swinging his whole body and shaking his hair, he lowered the violin and looked around with a smile of proud greatness and happiness. Then his back bent, his head dropped, his lips formed, his eyes went out, and he, as if ashamed of himself, timidly looking around and getting tangled with his legs, went into another room.
Something strange happened to everyone present, and something strange was felt in the dead silence that followed Albert’s game…
“But it’s time to go, gentlemen,” one guest broke the silence. “We’ll have to give him something.” Let’s fold.
Skladchin was made rich, and Delesov undertook to hand it over. In addition, it occurred to him to take the musician to himself, to dress, to attach to some place – to wrest from this dirty situation.
“I would drink something,” said Albert, as if waking up, when Dele – sov came up to him. Delesov brought wine, and the musician drank it with avidity.
“Can not you lend me some money?” I’m a poor man. I can not give you.
Deleisov turned red, embarrassed, and he hurriedly handed over the collected money.
“I thank you very much,” said Albert, grabbing the money. – Now let’s play music; I will play to you as long as I want. Only to drink something, – he added, rising.
“I would be very glad if you would stay with me for a while,” Delesov suggested.
“I would not advise you,” said the landlady, shaking her head.
When Deleisov sat down with Albert in a carriage and sensed the unpleasant smell of a drunkard and impurity that the musician was impregnated with, he began to repent of his actions and blame himself for softness of heart and unreason. Deleisov glanced back at the musician. Looking at this face, he was again transferred to that blissful world in which he looked today; and he ceased to repent of his actions.
The next day in the morning, he again remembered his black eyes and the happy smile of the musician; the whole strange night last night swept through his mind. Passing past the dining room, Deleisov looked through the door. Albert, burying his face in a pillow and throwing himself in a dirty, tattered shirt, slept in a dead sleep on the couch, where he, unfeeling, was laid last night.
Delesov asked Zakhar, who had already served for eight years at Delesov’s, to take from his acquaintances the violin of the day for two, to find clean clothes for the musician and take care of him. When late at night, Delyesov returned home, he did not find Albert there. Zahar said that Albert immediately left after dinner, promised to come in an hour, but has not yet returned. Zahar liked Albert: “Exactly an artist, and the character is very good.” How he “played down the Volga along the Volga” played us, just as a man cries. Even from all the floors people came to listen to us. “Delesov warned that Zakhar would not give anything to the musician and sent him to find and bring Albert.
Deleisov could not fall asleep for a long time, thinking about Alberta: “So you rarely do something not for yourself, that you have to thank God, when such an event appears, and I will not miss it.” A pleasant feeling of self-satisfaction seized him after such a discussion.
He was already falling asleep when the steps in the front woke him up. Zahar came and said that Albert was back, drunk. Zahar had not yet managed to get out when Albert entered the room. He told me that he was with Anna Ivanovna and spent a very pleasant evening.
Albert was the same as yesterday: the same beautiful smile of the eyes and lips, the same light, inspired forehead and weak limbs. Zakhar’s coat was just right for him, and the clean, long collar of a nightgown picturally leaned back around his thin white neck, giving him something especially childish and innocent. He sat down on Delesov’s bed and silently, smiling happily and gratefully, looked at him. Deleisov looked into Albert’s eyes and suddenly felt himself again in the grip of his smile. He ceased to want to sleep, he forgot about his obligation to be strict, he wanted, on the contrary, to have fun, listen to music and even chat with Albert until the morning.
They talked about music, about aristocrats and opera. Albert jumped up, grabbed the violin and began to play the finale of the first act of Don Juan, in his own words telling the contents of the opera. Delesov’s hair moved on his head as he played the voice of a dying commander.
There was a pause. They looked at each other and smiled. Delesov felt that he more and more loves this man, and experienced incomprehensible joy.
“Were you in love?” he suddenly asked.
Albert thought for a few seconds, then his face lit up with a sad smile.
– Yes, I was in love. It happened a long time ago. I went to play the second violin in the opera, and she went there to the performances. I was silent and only looked at her; I knew that I was a poor artist, and she was an aristocratic lady. I was called once to accompany her on the violin. How happy I was! But he was guilty, I went crazy. I should not have said anything to her. But I went crazy, I did stupid things. Since then everything has ended for me… I came to the orchestra late. She was sitting in her bed and talking with the general. She spoke to him and looked at me. Here for the first time with me it became strange. Suddenly I saw that I was not in the orchestra, but in a box, I stood with her and held her hand… I was already poor even then, I did not have an apartment, and when I went to the theater, sometimes I stayed overnight there. As soon as everyone left, I went to the box where she was sitting and slept. It was one of my joys… Only once again started with me. I began to imagine myself at night… I kissed her hand, talked with her a lot. I could smell her perfume, I heard her voice. Then I took the violin and began to play slowly. And I played very well. But I was scared… It seemed to me that something was in my head.
Deleisov looked in silence, looking in horror at the agitated and pale face of his companion.
“Let’s go to Anna Ivanovna again; it’s fun, “Albert suddenly suggested.
Deleisov almost agreed at first. However, coming to his senses, he began to persuade Albert not to go. Then he punished Zahar not to let Albert go anywhere without his knowledge.
Next day was a holiday. Albert’s room did not hear a sound, and only at the twelfth hour behind the door was heard groaning and coughing. Deleisov heard how Albert persuades Zakhara to give him vodka. “No, if I took it, I must endure the character,” Delesov told himself, ordering Zahar not to give the musician wine.
Two hours later, Deleisov glanced at Albert. Albert sat motionless at the window, his head in his hands. His face was yellow, wrinkled and deeply unhappy. He tried to smile in greeting, but his face took an even more sorrowful look. It seemed that he was ready to cry, but he hardly got up and bowed. After what Deleisov said, offering him to play the violin, to walk, in the evening to go to the theater, he only humbly bowed and stubbornly remained silent. Delesov went on business. Returning, he saw Albert sitting in the dark front. He was dressed neatly, washed and brushed; but his eyes were dull, dead and in the whole figure was expressed weakness and exhaustion, even greater than in the morning.
“I spoke about you to the director today,” Delesov said. “He is very happy to receive you, if you will allow yourself to listen.”
“Thank you, I can not play,” Albert said under his breath and went to his room, especially quietly closing the door behind him.
A few minutes later the pen turned as quietly, and he left his room with a violin. Glancing angrily at Delesov, he put the violin on a chair and disappeared again. Deleu – sov shrugged his shoulders and smiled. “What else can I do? What am I to blame for?” – he thought,
… Albert grew more gloomy and silent every day. Delesov, he seemed to be afraid. He did not pick up books or violins and did not answer any questions.
On the third day of his musician’s stay, Delesov came home late at night, tired and frustrated:
“Tomorrow I’ll get it from him decisively: does he want to stay or to stay with me and follow my advice?” No – it is not necessary. It seems that I did everything I could, “he announced to Zakhar. “No, it was a childish act,” decided Delesov, after himself, “where can I correct others, when only God allows me to deal with myself.” He was about to release Albert now, but after thinking it over, he postponed until tomorrow.
At night Delesov was awakened by the sound of a fallen table in the hall, voices and tramp. Delesov ran into the hall: Zahar stood against the door, Albert, in a hat and coat, pushed him away from the door and shouted at him in a tearful voice.
“Allow me, Dmitri Ivanovich!” – Zahar turned to the master, continuing his back to protect the door. – They got up at night, found the key and drank a whole decanter of sweet vodka. And now they want to leave. You did not order, so I can not let them.
“Go away, Zahar,” said Delesov. “I do not want to keep you and I can not, but I would advise you to stay until tomorrow,” he said to Albert.
Albert stopped screaming. “You did not succeed? You wanted to kill me.” No! ” he muttered to himself, putting on galoshes. Not saying goodbye and continuing to say something incomprehensible, he went out the door.
Delesov vividly remembered the first two evenings he had spent with the musician, remembered the last sad days, and most importantly, he recalled the sweet, mixed feeling of surprise, love and compassion that this strange man aroused at first sight; and he felt sorry for him. “And something will happen to him now,” he thought, “without money, without a warm dress, one in the middle of the night…” He was about to send Zakhar for him, but it was too late.
It was cold in the yard, but Albert did not feel the cold, – so he was hot with wine and a dispute. With his hands in the pants’ pockets and leaning forward, Albert walked along the street with heavy and unfaithful steps. He felt an extreme weight in his legs, an invisible force threw him from side to side, but he kept moving forward towards Anna Ivanovna’s apartment. In his head wandered strange, disconnected thoughts.
He remembered the subject of his passion and a terrible night in the theater. But, despite the incoherence, all these memories with such vividness seemed to him that, closing his eyes, he did not know that there was more reality.
Passing along Malaya Morskaya, Albert stumbled and fell. Waking up for a moment, he saw before him some huge, magnificent building. And Albert entered the wide doors. It was dark inside. Some irresistible force pulled him forward to the deepening of the huge hall… There was some sort of elevation, and around him stood some little people.
On the dais stood a tall, thin man in a motley gown. Albert immediately recognized his friend Petrov. “No, brothers,” Petrov said, pointing to someone, “you did not understand the man who lived between you! He is not a corrupt artist, not a mechanical performer, not a madman, not a lost person.” He is a genius who died among you unnoticed and unvalued “. Albert immediately realized what his friend was talking about; but, not wanting to hamper him, modestly lowered his head.
“He, like a straw, burnt all from that sacred fire to which we all serve,” continued the voice, “but he fulfilled all that was put into him by God, for which he should be called a great man.” He loves one thing-beauty, the only unquestionable benefit in the world: prostrate yourself all before him! ” he shouted aloud.
But another voice spoke softly from the opposite corner of the hall. “I do not want to fall in front of him,” Albert immediately recognized Delesov’s voice, “What’s he great about?” Did he behave honestly? Did he do good to society? Do not we know how he borrowed money and did not give them away like he did took the violin from his fellow artist and laid it down… Do not we know how he flattered about money? Do not know how he was kicked out of the theater? “
Petrov’s voice spoke again: “What right have you to accuse him?” Did you live his life? Art is the highest manifestation of power in a man. It is given to the rare elect and raises them to such heights that the head is spinning and difficult to resist sound In art, as in any struggle, there are heroes who gave themselves all to their service and perished without reaching their goal. “Yes, humiliate, despise him, and he is the best and happiest of us all!”
Albert, listening with pleasure in his heart, could not resist, went up to a friend and wanted to kiss him.
“Get out, I do not know you,” answered Petrov, “go your own way, or you will not get it…”
“Look, you’ve been dismantled!” “You will not get there,” the booth shouted at the crossroads.
Before Anna Ivanovna there were a few steps. Grabbing his frozen hands over the railing, Albert ran up the stairs and rang the bell.
– You can not! cried the sleepy servant. “You’re not allowed to,” and she slammed the door.
Albert sat on the floor, leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes. At the same instant, crowds of incoherent visions with new power surrounded him and carried somewhere to go there, into a free and beautiful area of dreaming.
In the nearest church, there was a message of blessing, he said: “Yes, he is the best and happiest!” “But I’ll go back to the hall,” Albert thought, “Petrov has a lot to say to me.” There was already no one in the hall, and instead of the artist Petrov, Albert himself stood on the dais and played the violin. But the violin was a strange device: it was all made of glass. And it had to be hugged with both hands and slowly pressed to the chest, so that it makes sounds. The closer he held the violin to his chest, the more delightful and sweeter he became. The louder the sounds became, the shadows flew shorter and the walls of the hall were illuminated with a transparent light. But it was necessary to play the violin very carefully, so as not to crush it. Albert played such things, which, he felt that no one would ever hear again. He was starting to get tired, When another distant, dull sound amused him. It was the sound of a bell, but it sounded: “Yes, it seems pathetic to you, you despise it, and it’s the best and happiest! No one will ever play this instrument again.” Albert stopped playing, raised his hands and eyes to the sky. He felt beautiful and happy. Despite the fact that there was no one in the room, Albert straightened his chest and, proudly lifting his head, stood on the dais in such a way that everyone could see him.
Suddenly a hand touched his shoulder lightly; he turned and in the dim light saw a woman. She looked at him sadly and shook her head. He immediately realized that what he was doing was bad, and he felt ashamed of himself. It was the one he loved. She took his hand and led him out of the room. On the threshold of the hall, Albert saw the moon and water. But the water was not below, as is usually the case, and the moon was not upstairs. The moon and water were together and everywhere. Albert, along with her, rushed to the moon and water and realized that now he could embrace the one he loved more than anything else in the world; he embraced her and felt unbearable happiness.
And then he felt that something unspeakable happiness, which he enjoyed at the present moment, had passed and would never come back. “What am I crying about?” he asked her. She silently, looked at him sadly. Albert understood what she meant by that. “Why, when I’m alive,” he said. Something was pushing Albert harder and harder. Was it the moon and the water, her arms or tears – he did not know, but felt that he would not utter all that was needed, and that soon everything would end.
Two guests, leaving from Anna Ivanovna, came across the Albert stretched out on the threshold. One of them returned and summoned the landlady.
“It’s ungodly,” he said, “you could freeze a man like that.”
“Ah, that’s me Albert,” answered the landlady. “Put him somewhere in the room,” she said to the maid.
“Yes, I’m alive, why bury me?” muttered Albert, while he, unfeeling, was brought into the rooms.