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The Mysterious Necklace (Prologue - Ch 5)

Czech: Toto je můj překlad mé vlastní prvotiny "Tajemný náhrdelník". Přeložit toto dílko do angličtiny bych sama nezvládla, a proto patří můj velký dík Cybelle, jejíž povídku "The Cotton Mill" v mém překladu si na těchto stránkách můžete také přečíst.
English: More than a year ago I decided (and started) to translate my first FF on Poor Nastya. (I hardly believe somebody here would know this TV series from Russian-American production.) But you really need not know the original story, be sure. I have written this almost 5 years ago and it is quite difficult to translate it to English. Still I hope you would like it.
The story takes place in Russia and of course, 19th century.
Just if you want to look at our main heroes in original, try it here:

I could never post my FF here without big help from my brilliant beta-reader Cybelle.



“Mama,“ Yekaterina ran cheerfully into her mother‘s chamber.

Anna lifted her eyes and proudly glanced at her daughter. “You are looking glamorous, dear. I wonder whether your father has seen you already?“

“No one has seen me, Mother; just you and Daria. Do you think Alexei will like me?“ she asked her mother uncertainly.

“Will he like you? Oh Katya*, you will enamour more than one gentleman this night, I am afraid. Alexei will have to watch you carefully if he does not wish to lose his bride.“

Both ladies burst out laughing.

“Mama, I have come to you with a request.“

“What request, my dear? Do tell me what your wish is. Perhaps I can grant it.“

Yekaterina touched her neck. “You see, mama? I am to go to a ball tonight but have no jewel suitable for such an event. Please, let me borrow your necklace. Just for tonight.“

“Do you mean the Mysterious necklace?“ asked Anna with a little surprise.

“Yes, Mama. The Mysterious necklace would so suit my gown, do you not think?“

Anna glanced at her daughter again and silently agreed with her. That necklace would bring out her beauty. And this night is to be so important for Yekaterina for it is the first ball she is to go to with her fiancé.

Out loud, however, she said, ”No, I am sorry, Katya. I will gladly lend you any of my jewels except for the Mysterious necklace.“

The voice of her mother sounded determined but mild enough that Yekaterina asked,
“Mama, why do you not want to lend it to me?“

“Oh my dear, that necklace is not suitable for such a young lady,“ responded Anna indulgently. And then she looked at her disappointed daughter and added, “One day I will tell you the whole story of the necklace, but not today. We have to hurry, the carriage will be arriving soon.“ With these words Anna opened her jewel box. After some consideration she took out an emerald necklace and earrings.

“You see, Yekaterina, these emeralds are like your eyes.“

Yekaterina smiled. Her mother was right. She gazed at her image in the looking glass with delight.

“Now go show yourself to your father,“ said Anna.

Yekaterina stood up and left her mother’s room. As Anna watched her daughter leave the chamber, her thoughts travelled twenty years into the past.

*Katya = another variety of Yekaterina name

Chapter 1


Life at the estate of Korf was slowly returning to normal. The servants were easily getting used to the new master, the young Baron, who had asked the monarch to release him from the army so that he would be able to take care of the family estate. The grange was prospering due to the able hands of its custodian. This pleased the Baron because he could now leave for Sankt-Peterburg with a tranquil mind. It would be easier to spend the wintertime in the city rather than here in the countryside. Moreover, the house was still filled with traces of his dead father: the inkpot in his cabinet, an unfinished letter to prince Zagorsky; one could almost feel the touches of the Baron’s quill, hear the rustling of papers … No, he must leave. He will hide himself in the family residence in Sankt-Peterburg and have a good time with his friends. It will be the best thing he can do.

A strange, peculiar emotion filled the soul of this young man. He had not been here for so many years. But now it seemed as if it were just yesterday since he last walked through the estate.
All of the memories were so sweet and painful at the same time. A smile ran past his face while thinking of those good times. As he quickly left the study he almost tripped over a laughing maid.

“I am sorry, Sir.“

“Nothing happened. Thank God we both came out of it alive and healthy. What is your name?”

The girl lifted her head and somewhat surprisingly answered: “I am Anna. Have you already forgotten, Vladimir Ivanovich?”

“So, you are Anna! Good God, how could I have not known you at once. My eye, you have grown! When I left years ago you were still a little girl. But now I see you are already a young woman,” the Baron said with unfailing admiration.

“It is not fit to speak with a servant girl in this way, Baron,” Anna said with a humble voice. Her eyes, however, were shining with merriment.

“You are right. Now, I am your master, am I not? Then bring me something to eat in the library. I am hungry.” Vladimir tried to act the part of the severe master but, in truth, it went badly.

So, this is Anna. Once she was a timid child whom he had to rescue all the time; secretly – so his father would not know. Anna was the youngest of the Korf’s serfs. Children had often laughed at her and pulled her pigtails. But Vladimir felt sorry for her. Many a time he came to comfort a bruised knee… But it seems now there is no trace of the shrinking girl. How handsome she is. Oh, certainly she will find her lover soon. How old could she be now? Around sixteen? Perhaps. With these thoughts he entered slowly into the library.

Anna ran into the kitchen where Varvara awaited her impatiently.

“Where have you been, naughty girl? Dinner is to be served in a moment.”

“I was at the gypsy girl to ask her about my future.”

“Hmmm, such matters. And what did the cards tell you this time?” Varvara asked, half reprovingly, half good-natured.

“Just imagine it. Supposedly I am to be married to a rich man!” Anna laughed and danced around the kitchen.

Varvara nodded in agreement: “So, the cards did not lie today, I see. Oh, of course. Soon our custodian will bring you to the altar. You are a lucky girl and will be well-situated, my dear. And you will be blessed with children as well.”

“But I do not want to marry the custodian. He is too old to me. You are just spooking me, are you not, Varvarushka?”*

“Indeed, I am talking seriously. Anna, you are already old enough to be married. And I have promised your father to care for your future. Karl Modestovich is the best match for you. I could die in peace then, knowing you are settled so well.”

“Oh Varvara, Karl Modestovich really is a good man. I like him. Yes, I do. But I do not love him and I doubt I would ever be able to love him as my husband. No, I will not marry him.”

“As I have said, the wedding will be set in a month – Karl wants it so and I have agreed.”

“I would rather be an old maid. I will never marry!“ Anna cried and ran out of the kitchen frantically. She stopped in front of the library. After a moment of hesitation she daringly entered and promptly shut the door behind her.

Vladimir lifted his eyes from a book. Seeing that Anna had not brought his dinner he looked at her inquiringly.

“Sir, they want to marry me off to our custodian but I do not want to. Please, do take me to Sankt-Peterburg with you. I will truly serve you day and night until I die if necessary. If only they would not make me marry.” Anna’s voice was speaking quickly and excitedly; her expression flashing a jumble of fear and trust.

With astonishment, Vladimir laid the book down on the table.

*Little Varvara = Varvarushka. In Russian language they often use these diminutives both for women and men. I tried to use common transcription from Russian alphabet to English one. In some cases I am not sure but I will look at it further.

Chapter 2

The poor girl did not realize what she had done until the Baron’s surprised look struck her dumb. Realizing, however, that it was too late to take her courageous words back, she rushed to the chair where Vladimir Ivanovich was settled in and kneeled down before him. Gazing down on Anna in her humble position helped the Baron recover his senses as he said,

“Get up, girl. Surely, you won’t kneel in front of me. I have not forgotten that we were once friends.“

“But now you are my Master. Forgive me for my boldness, please...“ Anna’s voice was somewhat trembling.

Vladimir gently took her chin in his hand and smiled, but said nothing. There were thousands of thoughts flying through his head.

Good people, such courage this girl has! I like her even more than when she was a child... Still, I will not relieve her from the dinner matter so easily. I will tease this tomboy pleasantly.
With these thoughts he again put on the expression of a skilled soldier.

“What about the dinner you have not brought me yet? For what do I pay you?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, sir. I,... I...” Anna started to stammer but she got over it quickly and tried to save the situation. “The dinner will be here in a moment, master. You will be excited, I swear. Today, quails in wine, cabbage pies and cakes with cranberry jam are to be served and...“

Vladimir had a hard time keeping his face serious when he rudely interrupted her,

“I cannot feed myself with only your words, my dear. Bring me the meal quickly or you will have to make your bed in the cellar.“

With an unyielding look he scrutinized the girl’s eyes. Anna caught his sharp gaze and her courage was suddenly gone. She felt confused from the rash changes in the Baron’s countenance. She wanted to stand up fast and discharge the command but her skirt was caught under her feet... Only the arms of the young master prevented the girl from falling to the ground, the feel of which sent a shiver throughout her whole body. Vladimir could not tease Anna further. Looking into her eyes where tears were beginning to form, he smiled kindly at her again and caressed the maid’s golden hair.

“Why, Anna. You do not need to be frightened of me. It was just a silly joke. Bring me my dinner and drink, please. Afterwards we will discuss your matter. And be careful not to fall and drop the dinner. I am indeed hungry.“

The tone of his speech was again familiar and kind as always.

He helped the girl stand up and, feeling somewhat relieved, she turned towards the door. At that moment, however, Vladimir pulled her back.

“Anna, bring two plates with you. You will take dinner with me. In this lonely time I will enjoy having some company.“

Anna wanted to say something but the Baron did not let her.

“I do not want to hear any protest. That is an order, understood!“ he said resolutely but with a calm face.

When the door closed behind Anna after she left the room, Vladimir had a few minutes to think about their conversation.

Well, I could take her into Sankt-Peterburg with me. It would be a pity to marry her off to the custodian. At least I would be able to spend all the boring evenings in the company of a nice girl...

Anna left the library and, feeling suddenly weak, she fell back against the door – just for a moment. Then she took a deep breath and went to the kitchen to discharge the master’s orders.
Varvara was awaiting her indignantly.

“So, where have you been wandering again? Good Lord, when will you relieve me of this burden? Master’s dinner is getting cold. He will be angry about that.“

“No, you’re wrong, Varvara. Master is well satisfied with me. I am just coming from him. He ordered me to bring two portions for he has a visitor.“

“A visitor? Hmmm, he didn’t tell me about that. It may be an unannounced visit. I should bring a better wine up from the cellar then. Well, go. Take them the meals first and I will serve them the wine myself afterwards.“

“Oh no, Varvarushka. You do a lot of running around the house all day long. It is I who will serve the gentlemen this night. I will be perfect, you need not worry. I will bring them the wine as well. So you can take a rest while I make up for my negligence today.

Anna knew well how to persuade Varvara.

“My good child, I know you have a heart of gold. Very well, then. We shall forget our quarrel, what do you say?“

“Of course, Varvara. Anyway, I have already forgotten it,“ Anna responded with glittering eyes. She was not, however, thinking about the quarrel with Varvara, rather, she was occupied with thoughts about the conversation which was soon to be held. She suspected that it would be very important for her future.

Chapter 3

Anna stepped into the library carrying a tray.

“Your dinner, Vladimir Ivanovich. What would you like to drink?“

“Wine and water, as usual,“ Vladimir responded.

“Oh, of course, but I...“ Anna stopped and dropped her eyes.

“What is the matter? Surely we are not out of wine?“ asked Vladimir with surprise.

“Well, I have never poured out wine before and I am not familiar with it, sir. I can just recognize the favourite mark of our old master. I do not know its name for the sign is in a foreign language and I am not able to read it.“ Anna again appeared distraught.

“All right,“ said Vladimir. “Then bring my father’s favourite one. It cannot be bad, for father was an expert with wines. And be back soon. Otherwise our meal will become cold,“ Vladimir responded indulgently.

“You are going to wait for me, Vladimir Ivanovich?“ Anna wondered.

“Of course, I am a nobleman. Even if I were dying of hunger, I would wait until all the guests were sitting at the table,“ Vladimir responded. “And you are to have dinner with me tonight, Miss Anna, are you not?“

Anna noticed the change in the Baron’s style of speaking with her which was somewhat curious.

Obviously he wants to be playing the nobleman and noblewoman tonight, as we did long ago. How did he say it that time? “Lady Anna Petrovna, you ought not to run barefoot over the grass. I would be unhappy to see you wounded...“

The memory made Anna smile.

I was just a little girl while he was a young officer. He was playing with me instead of putting his skills to better use, and I was happy for it. Even my raw heel stopped hurting immediately... Very well Baron, I am ready to carry on our game. Indeed, I am not sure I will manage it, for today it will be more difficult than years ago, I guess...

“So, you would like to go to Sankt-Peterburg with me, mademoiselle,” Vladimir interrupted the silence. “Well, I am going to grant your wish. I admit that it would be a pity to make you marry the old custodian. You deserve a better bridegroom than him. And, as I suspect, there are plenty of them waiting for you in Sankt-Peterburg,“ said the Baron between bites.

“You have misunderstood me, Baron. I am not going to be married; not to Modestovich nor to anybody else,“ said Anna emphatically.

“I see,“ Vladimir replied. “Interesting. Very well. I offer you my protection and, consequently, I will not search for any bridegrooms for you as long as you accept my conditions.“

Anna laid down her cutlery and tensely waited for her master to continue.

“You shall be my companion. You will be drinking coffee with me, reading books, and playing chess. The winter nights are never-ending and I have been lonely far too long. You will tell me about my father and about life at this estate. Do you agree?“

“Do you not ask me for anything more, Vladimir Ivanovich?“ Anna inquired in disbelief.

“Does it seem too little to you? You will see for yourself, Anna. I can endure listening to reading for hours. And I may also like to go for a walk, or to a ball...“

Good Lord! A ball? Does he truly mean it? Anna’s heart started to pound from joy, but then her spirits began to sink.

“I cannot promise that, Vladimir,” she said, her nervous fingers fiddling with her skirt. I do not know the lord’s dances.” Suddenly, her hope of a bright future in the company of the young master was fading.

“Oh, I will educate you in all the necessities. It will be my pleasure to be your teacher. So...?” He did not finish the question.

“So, I will join you as your companion,” said Anna resolutely.

“Excellent,“ Vladimir did not hide his pleasure. “Let us drink to our future. To life in Sankt-Peterburg!”

Chapter 4

The Baron put his glass down on the table.

“This wine is excellent, Anna. Do we have many different kinds in our cellar?” Vladimir asked.

“Oh yes, there is so much wine in the cellar that you would not be able to drink it up even in a hundred years. And how many different kinds there are! The Baron, well, your father, seemed to be a big collector. I wonder what interest there is in wine? All of them taste the same – sour and bitter, “ said Anna, making a face. She did not like wine much.

Her comment made Vladimir exulted. “As I can see, dear Anna Petrovna, I will have to let you in on the secret of wine. And I am confident that you will soon change your opinion. But tell me one thing. How did you manage to recognize father’s favourite kind? You said you could not understand French and, as far as I know, my father was buying dozens of French wines.“

Anna smiled as she answered, “This was simple, Vladimir Ivanovich. Can you see? There is a picture of a castle on the bottle; I think it is a beautiful one. And a rose blooms by the caste. I have always dreamt of living in such a castle and of being mistress there... Well, now I am grown up and I know it is much more comfortable to live in a house in the capital. It is too much trouble taking care of a castle,“ said Anna, sitting motionless in an effort to hide her merriment.

“Of course, Madam,“ Vladimir responded in the same tone. “There is but a snag, for you cannot do without knowledge of French in Sankt-Peterburg.“ Vladimir eagerly awaited Anna’s reaction as he took another bite of meat.

“Oh, you are mistaken, Baron. A few words will be sufficient, surely. Banjur, orva, mercy, bonsur, sivuplate,“ she said solemnly. You did not expect that, dear Baron, did you? Of course I am good at French. Anna gazed triumphantly into the Baron’s eyes but her triumph quickly turned to shock at the change that overcame the Baron.

The Baron pressed a damp handkerchief to his forehead as he appeared to be overcome with weakness. In no time, however, he composed himself and laid the handkerchief on the edge of the table.

“What is the matter, Baron? Should I call for a doctor?” Anna asked anxiously.

“Oh no, Anna, it will be all right. My brain reeled a bit, nothing worse. Perhaps I have drunk too much wine. I am feeling much better already.”

Vladimir was relieved; she had not noticed anything. He would be unhappy to see Anna low-spirited again tonight. Later, he might possibly find a chance to properly teach her the French language.

“You are right, Vladimir Ivanovich. We have drunk enough wine. It is getting late. Can I leave you now?” Anna broke the silence.

“Of course, you may leave. Unfortunately I cannot escort you to your chamber. You are still a maid in this house. Do not betray yourself to anyone. I will make all the necessary arrangements. “

“I am so grateful to you, Vladimir Ivanovich. Good night,“ Anna responded quietly and prepared to leave.

“Wait! You cannot leave like this.“

Anna glanced back at Vladimir.

“I will give you my first bit of advice,“ Vladimir continued. “You should be prudent at all times. What if Varvara sees you leaving the library? At this hour... what would you say her?“

“Well, I do not know, sir,“ Anna felt ashamed.

“A smart maid would take plates with her, what do you think?“ A soft smile passed Vladimir’s face.

“Indeed, Baron – how could I forget? Forgive me.“

“Never mind, this was my fault. I was playing a game with you, talking to you as my guest all night rather than as my maid. I have enjoyed your company so far and I would see myself as a villain if you were scolded by Varvara on my account,“ the Baron responded while handing Anna his empty plate.

When the door was shut and she was finally gone, he whispered very quietly, “Bonsur, mam’selle. Hopefully you will give me thousands of such unforgettable nights.“

Chapter 5

The next morning the Baron called for the cook to his study. Varvara tied her apron around her stout figure, assuming that she was to get the meal order, and hurried to the master.

“Good morning, Vladimir Ivanovich,“ she greeted the Baron.

“Good morning, Varvara. Take a seat, please.“

Varvara, stunned by the Baron’s words, shook her head, “Why, a maid should sit in the presence of her master?“

“Do not hesitate, Varvara, our conversation might take some time,“ Vladimir responded and pointed at a free chair.

Thus, Varvara obediently took a seat and impatiently started to speculate about the nature of the conversation, “So, why did you call for me, Sir? Perhaps your visitor was not satisfied with his dinner? Or did Anna serve badly?“

The Baron, interrupted her, “Oh no, Varvara, you can be at peace; your cooking is amazing. And I am convinced that my guest has never had such an excellent supper,“ said Vladimir while he let out an ambiguous smile. “And as for Anna’s serving, I was well-satisfied,“ he said, pushing away his memories of Anna’s ineptness not wanting to reveal himself not a bit. In no time, however, Vladimir put on serious expression, “There is something else, a delicate matter which does not concern the kitchen.“

“Well, if the kitchen is not the matter, what would you like to discuss, Sir?“ asked Varvara disconcerted. The Baron’s serious expression gave her no comfort.

“I am going to leave the manor soon, to Sankt-Peterburg. I dare say I will stay there for the whole winter and I am not sure when I will return again.“ Vladimir paused and silently sent a brief prayer to heaven. He knew that it might not be easy to persuade Varvara of his intentions. Surely, as the master of this estate, he had the right to make decisions on the fate of his serfs, but Vladimir did not want to use such power in this case. He wished Varvara to entrust Anna to him consentingly.

“So you are leaving again, Vladimir Ivanovich? You haven’t spent a week here yet,“ Varvara said, a bit disappointed.

“I am sorry for it,“ the Baron replied. “I have decided to spend the wintertime in Sankt-Peterburg and I would like to depart as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there are only a few servants in the house. That is why I decided to take Anna with me, as well. She is a young and promising girl and I am sure she will soon learn her new work. I know, Anna means a lot to you as you have been taking care of her since the death of her father,“ Vladimir glanced at the old cook, trying to read her answer from her eyes.

“But Anushka* is to be married soon. How could you take her to Sankt-Peterburg now?“ cried Varvara after she had somewhat recovered from the shock. “If she does not marry now, she will surely never have another chance to wed and will end up an old maid. She is a good girl, Sir. Forgive me my audacity, but I beg you, do not ruin her future, please.“

“Of course I won’t. Tell me, who is she going to be married to?“ asked Vladimir, assuming an innocent expression as though he did not know anything.

“To our custodian, Sir,“ Varvara replied.

“So, to Karl Modestovich, you say?“ The Baron sounded surprised. “Yet, Karl Modestovich could be her father. There is too big of an age difference between them, do you not think?“ he asked Varvara with a hint of mockery.

“Who says that happiness in matrimony depends on a husband’s age? I made a promise to Poytr Mikhaylovich to take care of his daughter and to marry her off well. And I have to keep my promise. Karl Modestovich is a good man and he is no beggar. He likes Anushka and wants to marry her,“ Varvara argued.

“Hmm, interesting, and what about Anna herself? Does she agree with the marriage?“ asked Vladimir subsequently. The cook did not expect such a question. However, she could not lie; therefore, she dropped her eyes and said not a word.

After a moment the Baron interrupted the silence, “It seems Anna does not love our custodian, am I right, Varia*? Well, not a big surprise to me. Which girl would be excited if she was forced to marry an old man? The custodian would be able to take care of her now, but what if he dies one day? The poor maid would lose her youth and bloom with an old man by her side and afterwards she would be condemned to live the rest of her life as a widow,“ Vladimir’s voice sounded sincere and compassionate. “I believe that Anna deserves a better life,“ he finished his speech with determination.

Varvara found herself overwhelmed by her own remorse, “Oh, Sir, I had only good intentions with Anushka. I am already an old woman; I cannot leave her on her own. I just wish her to be happy.“

“If you want her to be happy, then give her your blessing – for her journey to Sankt-Peterburg. And I promise you that I will take care of her the best I can. Anna will experience a new life in Sankt-Peterburg and surely will find her own happiness there, as well. I will keep your promise to Pyotr Mikhaylovich for you. Do you agree?“

Varvara sighed. The Baron was right. She did not wish Anna to marry an old man, but she had no other idea how to provide her with a promising future. With the Baron’s suggestion a new opportunity presented itself. She had no choice but to entrust her girl to the Baron and let her go to Sankt-Peterburg to find a new life for herself there. Aloud she said with a particularly resigned voice, “I wonder, will Anna get married in Sankt-Peterburg? And will I be able to see her again?“

“You do not have to be worried, Varia. Anna will, of course, visit you as often as possible. And as for her bridegroom, I myself will see about the choice. I am giving you my word. I will choose her such a husband that will exceed your expectations. But better to not tell Anna about it. She will be acquainted with this at the right time,“ Vladimir added emphatically.

“Alright, then, what else can I do. You’ve always liked her,“ Varvara finally agreed.

Vladimir smiled in relief, “Anna will be grateful to you for all you have done for her today. Trust me, Varvara, you will never regret your decision. You can leave now. And do not forget – not a word to Anna about this conversation.“

“Of course, Vladimir Ivanovich,“ said Varia and left to return to the kitchen, her head full of thoughts. She knew she had made a good decision placing Anna in the care of the young Baron. She wished Anna to have a new life; nevertheless, there was something that made her eyes well up with tears. Therefore, she started immediately to slice onions for a soup, so no one would see her low spirits.

* Varia = another variant of Varvara name; Anushka = home name for Anna.
©2011, Dzana, All Rights Reserved.


Náhledy fotografií ze složky The Mysterious Necklace



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