How on the instant that dear image led my imagination captive! I seemed to see once more the meadow before our house, the tall lime-trees in the garden, the clear pond where the ducks swain, the blue sky dappled with white clouds, the sweet-smelling ricks of hay. How those memories--aye, and many another quiet, beloved recollection--floated through my mind at that time!
At supper the young man whom I have mentioned seated himself beside me at the children's table, and treated me with an amount of attention which would have flattered my self-esteem had I been able, after the occurrence just related, to give a thought to anything beyond my failure in the mazurka. However, the young man seemed determined to cheer me up. He jested, called me "old boy," and finally (since none of the elder folks were looking at us) began to help me to wine, first from one bottle and then from another and to force me to drink it off quickly.
By the time (towards the end of supper) that a servant had poured me out a quarter of a glass of champagne, and the young man had straightway bid him fill it up and urged me to drink the beverage off at a draught, I had begun to feel a grateful warmth diffusing itself through my body. I also felt well-disposed towards my kind patron, and began to laugh heartily at everything. Suddenly the music of the Grosvater dance struck up, and every one rushed from the table. My friendship with the young man had now outlived its day; so, whereas he joined a group of the older folks, I approached Madame Valakhin hear what she and her daughter had to say to one another.
"Just HALF-an-hour more? " Sonetchka was imploring her.
"Yet, only to please me--just this ONCE? " Sonetchka went on persuasively.
"Well, what if I should be ill to-morrow through all this dissipation?" rejoined her mother, and was incautious enough to smile.
"There! You DO consent, and we CAN stay after all!" exclaimed Sonetchka, jumping for joy.
"What is to be done with such a girl?" said Madame. "Well, run away and dance. See," she added on perceiving myself, "here is a cavalier ready waiting for you."