Childhood, by Leo Tolstoy

XXIV

In Bed

“How could I have managed to be so long and so passionately devoted to Seriosha?” I asked myself as I lay in bed that night. “He never either understood, appreciated, or deserved my love. But Sonetchka! What a darling SHE is! ‘Wilt THOU?’—‘THY hand’!”

I crept closer to the pillows, imagined to myself her lovely face, covered my head over with the bedclothes, tucked the counterpane in on all sides, and, thus snugly covered, lay quiet and enjoying the warmth until I became wholly absorbed in pleasant fancies and reminiscences.

If I stared fixedly at the inside of the sheet above me I found that I could see her as clearly as I had done an hour ago could talk to her in my thoughts, and, though it was a conversation of irrational tenor, I derived the greatest delight from it, seeing that “THOU” and “THINE” and “for THEE” and “to THEE” occurred in it incessantly. These fancies were so vivid that I could not sleep for the sweetness of my emotion, and felt as though I must communicate my superabundant happiness to some one.

“The darling!” I said, half-aloud, as I turned over; then,

“Woloda, are you asleep?”

“No,” he replied in a sleepy voice. “What’s the matter?”

“I am in love, Woloda — terribly in love with Sonetchka”

“Well? Anything else?” he replied, stretching himself.

“Oh, but you cannot imagine what I feel just now, as I lay covered over with the counterpane, I could see her and talk to her so clearly that it was marvellous! And, do you know, while I was lying thinking about her — I don’t know why it was, but all at once I felt so sad that I could have cried.”

Woloda made a movement of some sort.

“One thing only I wish for,” I continued; “and that is that I could always be with her and always be seeing her. Just that. You are in love too, I believe. Confess that you are.”

It was strange, but somehow I wanted every one to be in love with Sonetchka, and every one to tell me that they were so.

“So that’s how it is with you? “ said Woloda, turning round to me. “Well, I can understand it.”

“I can see that you cannot sleep,” I remarked, observing by his bright eyes that he was anything but drowsy. “Well, cover yourself over SO” (and I pulled the bedclothes over him), “and then let us talk about her. Isn’t she splendid? If she were to say to me, ‘Nicolinka, jump out of the window,’ or ‘jump into the fire,’ I should say, ‘Yes, I will do it at once and rejoice in doing it.’ Oh, how glorious she is!”

I went on picturing her again and again to my imagination, and, to enjoy the vision the better, turned over on my side and buried my head in the pillows, murmuring, “Oh, I want to cry, Woloda.”

“What a fool you are!” he said with a slight laugh. Then, after a moment’s silence he added: “I am not like you. I think I would rather sit and talk with her.”

“Ah! Then you ARE in love with her!” I interrupted.

“And then,” went on Woloda, smiling tenderly, “kiss her fingers and eyes and lips and nose and feet — kiss all of her.”

“How absurd!” I exclaimed from beneath the pillows.

“Ah, you don’t understand things,” said Woloda with contempt.

“I DO understand. It’s you who don’t understand things, and you talk rubbish, too,” I replied, half-crying.

“Well, there is nothing to cry about,” he concluded. “She is only a girl.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/tolstoy/leo/t65ch/chapter24.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 20:04