Coming Back. 1812, September 7th
A village in fire looked like a sunset. Who knows, maybe Turovskoys' manor is burnt? Who knows where Vera's parents, sister and brother?
Vera was going to a short leave -- she had only a mere day, -- and hoped to find her relatives in a Moscow estate. Although she had left them in Grodno province, they probably fled the occupied territory.
The heart was pounding, jumping to neck and falling; she felt shivery -- because of drizzle, or recent injury, or anxiety. Having pulled back the reins, she forced the steed to go slower. It was frightening a bit to return home.
Her father did not answer to a letter which Vera had written after the escape and in which she asked for forgiveness, and that meant he was cross.
The mother, perhaps, was angry too -- but she got mad if Vera went to the park without permission or made lace inaccurately. The father looked the other way, never blaming her for that, so to lose his trust was an unfair punishment.
Vera stopped. She was few versts away home, and meadows surrounded her.
A long time ago father took her and brother Modest to look at mowing. It was hot, the air was full of a bitter smell, a man, leading villagers, was shouting...
And the recollection, warm and sunny, unlike this rainy, grey, dismal day, made Vera to spur her steed and race as fast as she could -- to place where nobody waited her or even wanted to see but where she wished to be.
The park left behind, and Vera saw the old house with a belvedere and columns. She rode into the backyard of the manor.
Despite the early morning, between barns, stable, sheds -- all these not used for ages and therefore sank to sides buildings, -- was lively.
It was not that mechanical fuss, which is repeated daily, but a disorderly rush of servants. They were loading trunks onto carriages, carts and wagons. "Palashka! -- somebody cried. -- Give me ma'am's casket!" -- "A casket? -- a barefooted girl grumbled. -- You'll crash it with trunks."
A stableman, whom Vera never saw before, was harnessing horses. When she, having dismounted, asked him to take care of the stable, the stableman mumbled angrily, but Vera did not pay attention: so apprehensive she was about seeing her relatives.
On the porch she met Eugenia, who was looking at loading with a great interest. She, squinting and not recognizing Vera, asked her:
"Whom are you looking for, sir? Shall I accompany you to the father?" "Accompany," -- answered Vera.
Vera did not remember the rooms where they were walking -- last time she visited that manor ten years ago.
Not heated, badly furniture, with lots of chests, they seemed to be cosy after tents built for a day and draughty.
Eugenia opened a door in the end of suit of rooms -- turned the small doorknob. Vera thought that her fingers were quivering and her palms were so wet because of sweat, that she would never manage to handle with it.
The sister, looking inside the room, said: "Papa! A gentleman wants to meet you!" The father told her something; Eugenia turned to Vera and said "Come in."
And -- with tears alike a fog -- Vera ran to the father, apologized. He was stroking her head, trying to soothe her, and repeating: "Don't cry, my darling!"
To be continued...