MOSCOW, October 25, 1891.
HONOURED NATALYA MIHAILOVNA,
I have not gone to Nizhni as I meant to, but am sitting at home, writing and sneezing. Madame Morozov has seen the Minister, he has absolutely prohibited private initiative in the work of famine relief, and actually waved her out of his presence. This has reduced me to apathy at once. Add to that, complete lack of money, sneezing, a mass of work, the illness of my aunt who died to-day, the indefiniteness, the uncertainty in fact — everything has come together to hinder a lazy person like me. I have put off my going away till the first of December.
We felt dull without you for a long time, and when the Shah of Persia [Footnote: A. I. Smagin.] went away it was duller still. I have given orders that no one is to be admitted, and sit in my room like a heron in the reeds; I see no one, and no one sees me. And it is better so, or the public would pull the bell off, and my study would be turned into a smoking and talking room. It’s dull to live like this, but what am I to do? I shall wait till the summer and then let myself go.
I shall sell the mongoose by auction. I should be glad to sell N. and his poems too, but no one would buy him. He dashes in to see me almost every evening as he used to do, and bores me with his doubts, his struggles, his volcanoes, slit nostrils, atamans, the life of the free, and such tosh, for which God forgive him.
Russkiya Vyedomosti is printing a Sbornik for the famine fund. With your permission, I shall send you a copy.
Well, good health and happiness to you; respects and greetings to all yours from
P. S. — All my family send their regards.
We are all well but sorrowful. Our aunt was a general favourite, and was considered among us the incarnation of goodness, kindness, and justice, if only all that can be incarnated. Of course we shall all die, but still it is sad.
In April I shall be in your parts. By the spring I hope I shall have heaps of money. I judge by the omen: no money is a sign of money coming.
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