Katia by Leo Tolstoy Page 1 of 106

CHAPTER I.

WE were in mourning for our mother, who had died the preceding autumn, and we had spent all the winter alone in the country-Macha, Sonia and I.

Macha was an old family friend, who had been our governess and had brought us all up, and my memories of her, like my love for her, went as far back as my memories of myself.

Sonia was my younger sister.

The winter had dragged by, sad and sombre, in our old country-house of Pokrovski. The weather had been cold, and so windy that the snow was often piled high above our windows; the panes were almost always cloudy with a coating of ice; and throughout the whole season we were shut in, rarely finding it possible to go out of the house.

It was very seldom that any one came to see us, and our few visitors brought neither joy nor cheerfulness to our house.


They all had mournful faces, spoke low, as if they were afraid of waking some one, were careful not to laugh, sighed and often shed tears when they looked at me, and above all at the sight of my poor Sonia in her little black frock.

Everything in the house still savored of death; the affliction, the horror of the last agony yet reigned in the air. Mamma"s chamber was shut up, and I felt a painful dread and yet an irresistible longing to peep furtively into the chill, desolate place as I passed it every night on my way to bed.

I was at this time seventeen years old, and the very year of her death Mamma had intended to remove to the city, in order to introduce me into society.

The loss of my mother had been a great sorrow to me; but I must confess that to this grief had been added another, that of seeing myself-young, beautiful as I heard from every one that I was,-condemned to vegetate during a second winter in the country, in a barren solitude.



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