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List Of Contents | Contents of Vaninka, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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their destination.

Souvarow took a sledge, and, travelling night and day, arrived
incognito in the capital, which he was to have entered in triumph,
and was driven to a distant suburb, to the house of one of his
nieces, where he died of a broken heart fifteen days afterwards.

On his own account, Foedor travelled almost as rapidly as his
general, and entered St. Petersburg without having sent any letter to
announce his arrival.  As he had no parent in the capital, and as his
entire existence was concentrated in one person, he drove direct to
the general's house, which was situated in the Prospect of Niewski,
at an angle of the Catherine Canal.

Having arrived there, he sprang out of his carriage, entered the
courtyard, and bounded up the steps.  He opened the ante-chamber
door, and precipitated himself into the midst of the servants and
subordinate household officers.  They cried out with surprise upon
seeing him: he asked them where the general was; they replied by
pointing to the door of the diningroom; he was in there, breakfasting
with his daughter.

Then, through a strange reaction, Foedor felt his knees failing him,
and he was obliged to lean against a wall to prevent himself from
falling.  At this moment, when he was about to see Vaninka again,
this soul of his soul, for whom alone he had done so much, he dreaded
lest he should not find her the same as when he had left her.
Suddenly the dining-room door opened, and Vaninka appeared.  Seeing
the young man, she uttered a cry, and, turning to the general, said,
"Father, it is Foedor"; and the expression of her voice left no doubt
of the sentiment which inspired it.

"Foedor!" cried the general, springing forward and holding out his
arms.

Foedor did not know whether to throw himself at the feet of Vaninka
or into the arms of her father.  He felt that his first recognition
ought to be devoted to respect and gratitude, and threw himself into
the general's arms.  Had he acted otherwise, it would have been an
avowal of his love, and he had no right to avow this love till he
knew that it was reciprocated.

Foedor then turned, and as at parting, sank on his knee before
Vaninka; but a moment had sufficed for the haughty girl to banish the
feeling she had shown.  The blush which had suffused her cheek had
disappeared, and she had become again cold and haughty like an
alabaster statue-a masterpiece of pride begun by nature and finished
by education.  Foedor kissed her hand; it was trembling but cold he
felt his heart sink, and thought he was about to die.

"Why, Vaninka," said the general--"why are you so cool to a friend
who has caused us so much anxiety and yet so much pleasure?  Come,
Fordor, kiss my daughter."

Foedor rose entreatingly, but waited motionless, that another
permission might confirm that of the general.

"Did you not hear my father?" said Vaninka, smiling, but nevertheless
possessing sufficient self-control to prevent the emotion she was
feeling from appearing in her voice.

Foedor stooped to kiss Vaninka, and as he held her hands it seemed to
him that she lightly pressed his own with a nervous, involuntary
movement.  A feeble cry of joy nearly escaped him, when, suddenly
looking at Vaninka, he was astonished at her pallor: her lips were as
white as death.

The general made Foedor sit down at the table: Vaninka took her place
again, and as by chance she was seated with her back to the light,
the general noticed nothing.

Breakfast passed in relating and listening to an account of this
strange campaign which began under the burning sun of Italy and ended
in the glaciers of Switzerland.  As there are no journals in St.
Petersburg which publish anything other than that which is permitted
by the emperor, Souvarow's successes were spread abroad, but his
reverses were ignored.  Foedor described the former with modesty and
the latter with frankness.

One can imagine, the immense interest the general took in Foedor's
story.  His two captain's epaulets and the decorations on his breast
proved that the young man had modestly suppressed his own part in the
story he had told.  But the general, too courageous to fear that he
might share in Souvarow's disgrace, had already visited the dying
field-marshal, and had heard from him an account of his young
protege's bravery.  Therefore, when Foedor had finished his story, it
was the general's turn to enumerate all the fine things Foedor had
done in a campaign of less than a year.  Having finished this
enumeration, he added that he intended next day to ask the emperor's
permission to take the young captain for his aide-de-camp.  Foedor
hearing this wished to throw himself at the general's feet, but he
received him again in his arms, and to show Foedor how certain he was
that he would be successful in his request, he fixed the rooms that
the young man was to occupy in the house at once.

The next day the general returned from the palace of St.  Michel with
the pleasant news that his request had been granted.

Foedor was overwhelmed with joy: from this time he was to form part
of the general's family.  Living under the same roof as Vaninka,
seeing her constantly, meeting her frequently in the rooms, seeing
her pass like an apparition at the end of a corridor, finding himself
twice a day at the same table with her, all this was more than Foedor
had ever dared hope, and he thought for a time that he had attained
complete happiness.

For her part, Vaninka, although she was so proud, at the bottom of
her heart took a keen interest in Foedor.  He had left her with the
certainty that he loved her, and during his absence her woman's pride
had been gratified by the glory he had acquired, in the hope of
bridging the distance which separated them.  So that, when she saw
him return with this distance between them lessened, she felt by the
beating of her heart that gratified pride was changing into a more
tender sentiment, and that for her part she loved Foedor as much as
it was possible for her to love anyone.

She had nevertheless concealed these feelings under an appearance of
haughty indifference, for Vaninka was made so: she intended to let
Foedor know some day that she loved him, but until the time came when
it pleased her to reveal it, she did not wish the young man to
discover her love.  Things went on in this way for several months,
and the circumstances which had at first appeared to Foedor as the
height of happiness soon became awful torture.

To love and to feel his heart ever on the point of avowing its love,
to be from morning till night in the company of the beloved one, to
meet her hand at the table, to touch her dress in a narrow corridor,
to feel her leaning on his arm when they entered a salon or left a
ballroom, always to have ceaselessly to control every word, look, or
movement which might betray his feelings, no human power could endure
such a struggle.

Vaninka saw that Foedor could not keep his secret much longer, and
determined to anticipate the avowal which she saw every moment on the
point of escaping his heart.

One day when they were alone, and she saw the hopeless efforts the
young man was making to hide his feelings from her, she went straight
up to him, and, looking at him fixedly, said:

"You love me!"

"Forgive me, forgive me," cried the young man, clasping his hands.

"Why should you ask me to forgive you, Foedor?  Is not your love
genuine?"

"Yes, yes, genuine but hopeless."

"Why hopeless?  Does not my father love you as a son?" said Vaninka.

"Oh, what do you mean?" cried Foedor.  "Do you mean that if your
father will bestow your hand upon me, that you will then consent--?"

"Are you not both noble in heart and by birth, Foedor?  You are not
wealthy, it is true, but then I am rich enough for both."

"Then I am not indifferent to you?"

"I at least prefer you to anyone else I have met."

"Vaninka!" The young girl drew herself away proudly.

"Forgive me!" said Foedor.  "What am I doing?  You have but to order:
I have no wish apart from you.  I dread lest I shall offend you.
Tell me what to do, and I will obey."

"The first thing you must do, Foedor, is to ask my father's consent."

"So you will allow me to take this step?"

"Yes, but on one condition."

"What is it?  Tell me."

"My father, whatever his answer, must never know that I have
consented to your making this application to him; no one must know
that you are following my instructions; the world must remain
ignorant of the confession I have just made to you; and, lastly, you
must not ask me, whatever happens, to help you in any other way than
with my good wishes."

"Whatever you please.  I will do everything you wish me to do.  Do
you not grant me a thousand times more than I dared hope, and if your
father refuses me, do I not know myself that you are sharing my
grief?" cried Foedor.

"Yes; but that will not happen, I hope," said Vaninka, holding out
her hand to the young officer, who kissed it passionately.

"Now be hopeful and take courage;" and Vaninka retired, leaving the
young man a hundred times more agitated and moved than she was
herself, woman though she was.

The same day Foedor asked for an interview with the general.  The
general received his aide-de-camp as usual with a genial and smiling
countenance, but with the first words Foedor uttered his face
darkened.  However, when he heard the young man's description of the
love, so true, constant, and passionate, that he felt for Vaninka,
and when he heard that this passion had been the motive power of
those glorious deeds he had praised so often, he held out his hand to
Foedor, almost as moved as the young soldier.

And then the general told him, that while he had been away, and
ignorant of his love for Vaninka, in whom he had observed no trace of
its being reciprocated, he had, at the emperor's desire, promised her
hand to the son of a privy councillor.  The only stipulation that the
general had made was, that he should not be separated from his
daughter until she had attained the age of eighteen.  Vaninka had

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