Someone Ivlev rode once in early June to the far side of his district. At first it was pleasant to go: it was a warm, dull day, well laid down road. Then the weather grew dull, the clouds stretched, and when the village appeared ahead of me, Ivlev decided to call on the count. The old man who plowed near the village said that there was a young Countess at home, but still stopped.
The Countess was in a pink hood, with an open powdered breast; she smoked, often straightened her hair, revealing her tight and round hands to her shoulders. She talked all the talk to love and, incidentally, she told me about her neighbor, landowner Khvoshchinsky, who died this winter and, as Ivlev knew from childhood, he had been a lifelong lover of love for his maid Lushka, who had died in her early youth.
When Ivlev rode on, the rain really broke up. “So Khvoshchinsky died,” thought Ivlev, “we must certainly call in, look at the deserted sanctuary of the mysterious Lushka…
What kind of man was this Khvoshchinsky? Crazy? Or just a stunned soul?” According to the stories of the old landowners, Khvoshchinsky was once known in the district for a rare clever woman. And suddenly this Lushka fell on him – and everything went to rubble: he shut himself up in the room where Lushka lived and died and spent more than twenty years on her bed…
Evening, the rain thinned, behind the forest Khvoshchinsky appeared. Ivlev looked at the approaching estate, and it seemed to him that Lushka lived and died not twenty years ago, but almost in times immemorial.
The facade of the manor, with its small windows in thick walls, was unusually dull. But there were huge gloomy porches, one of which was a young man in a gymnastic blouse, black, with beautiful eyes and very pretty, although completely freckled.
To somehow justify his arrival, Ivlev said that he wants to see and, maybe, buy the library of the late master. The young man, blushing deeply, led him into the house. “So he is the son of the famous Lushka!” – thought Ivlev, looking at the house and,
gradually, his master.
The young man answered the questions hurriedly, but monosyllabically, with shyness, apparently, also with greed: he was so frightened that he was glad to be able to sell books in expensive fashion. Through the half-dark canopies strewn with straw, he introduced Ivlev into a large and unfriendly front, covered with newspapers. Then they entered the cold hall, which occupied almost half of the house. In the goddess, on a dark ancient image in a silver bowl lay wedding candles. “My father had already bought them after her death,” muttered the young man, “and they even always carried an engagement ring…”. The floor in the room was covered with dry bees, like an empty living room. Then they passed a dark room with a couch, and the young man opened the low door with great difficulty. Ivlev saw the closet in two windows; one of the walls had a naked bed, the other had two bookcases-a library.
The strange books made up this library! “Sworn Tract”, “Morning Star and Night Demons”, “Reflections on the Sacraments of the Universe”, “A Wonderful Journey to the Magical Land,” “The Newest Dream Book” – that’s what the lonely soul of the recluse eats, “there is a being… neither a dream, nor vomit… “. The sun peered out from the purple clouds and strangely illuminated this poor refuge of love, which turned the whole human life into some kind of ecstatic life, a life that could be the most ordinary life, without the mysterious in its charm Lushka…
“What is it?” – asked Ivlev, leaning towards the middle shelf, on which lay only one very small book, similar to a prayer book, and there was a darkened box. In the box lay the necklace of the late Lushka – a slice of cheap blue balls. And such excitement seized Ivlev at the sight of this necklace, lying on the neck of a once so beloved woman, that his heart was beating wildly. Ivlev carefully put the box back in place and took hold of the little book. It was charmingly published almost a hundred years ago “The Grammar of Love, or The Art of Love and Being Mutually Beloved”.
“Unfortunately, I can not sell this book,” the young man said with difficulty. “It’s very expensive…” Overcoming the awkwardness, Ivlev began to slowly turn over the “Grammar.”
She was all divided into small chapters: “About beauty,” “About the heart,” “About the mind,” “On the signs of love” … Each chapter consisted of short and elegant sentences, some of which were delicately marked with a pen: “Love is not there is a simple episode in our life. “” We adore the woman for having dominion over our ideal dream. “” A beautiful woman should occupy the second stage, the first belongs to a sweet woman. “This is done by the mistress of our heart: before we report her to ourselves, our heart becomes a slave of love forever… ” Then came the “explanation of the language of flowers”, and again something was noted. And on a clean page at the very end was a small, bubbly written with the same pen quatrain. The young man stretched out his neck and said with a mocking smile: “
Half an hour later, Ivlev said good-bye to him with relief. Of all the books, he bought only this book for the expensive price. On the way back, the coachman told me that the young Khvoshchinsky lives with the deacon’s wife, but Ivlev did not listen. He was still thinking about Lushka, about her necklace, which left him a complex feeling, similar to what he had once experienced in an Italian town when looking at the relics of one saint. “She entered forever in my life!” he thought. And, taking out of his pocket the Grammar of Love, slowly read through the verses written on her last page.
The hearts of those who
love you will be told: “In the traditions of sweet live!”
And grandchildren, great-grandchildren will show
this Grammar of Love.