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We spent the evening at the country house of Princess D.
The conversation touched on once to m-me de Staël #. Baron Dalberg in bad French very badly told a well-known anecdote: question its Bonaparte, Whom it is the first woman in the world, and funny his reply: "Tu, which the people more children " ("She who has the most children").
- What a nice epigram! - said one of the guests.
- and share it! - One lady told. - How can so awkward fish for compliments?
- And I think so, - said Sorokhtin, dozing in armchairs Gambsovyh * - I think so, that no m-me de Staël did not think about Madrigal, Napoleon nor an epigram. One has made the question of a common curiosity, very clear; and Napoleon just now expressed their opinion. But you do not believe simplicity of genius.
The guests began to argue, Sorokhtin and dozed off again.
- However, in fact,, - said the hostess, - What do you suppose the first woman in the world?
- Beware: you are asking for compliments ...
- Not, seriously…
Then went to talk: others called m-me de Staël, other Maid of Orleans, others Elizabeth, queen of England, m-me Maintenon *, m-me Roland * # and so on ...
Young man, standing by the fireplace (because in St. Petersburg, a fireplace is never too much), for the first time broke into the conversation.
- For me, - he said, - the most amazing woman - Cleopatra.
- Cleopatra? - have told guests, - Yes, of course ... but why the f?
- There is a line in her life, so that crashed into my imagination, I can not look at almost any one woman, so do not immediately think of Cleopatra.
- What sort of hell? - I asked the hostess, - tell.
- Can not; Tell mudra.
- What? It is indecent?
- Yes, almost everything, that vividly depicts the terrible ancient mores.
- Brother! tell, tell.
- Brother, not, do not tell, - interrupted Volskaya, widow of divorce, bowed stiffly fire your eyes.
- Come, - I cried the hostess look. - Who is it that is wrong here *?# Yesterday we saw Antony #, and over there on the mantelpiece y me lying La Physiologie du mariage * #. indecorous! We found than scare us! Stop us fool, Alexei Ivanovich! You are not a journalist. Tell a, you know about Cleopatra, but ... be decently, if I may…
everyone laughed.
- Honestly, - said the young man, - I get shy: I became bashful, like censorship. Well, so be it ...
You must know, that among the Latin historians have a certain Aurelius Victor, about which, probably, you've never heard of.
– Aurelius Victor? - The pinnacle interrupted, who once studied at the Jesuits * - Aurelius Victor, IV century writer. His writings attributed to Cornelius Nepos, and even Suetonius; he wrote de Viris illustribus - about the famous men of the city of Rome, I know ...
- Exactly, - continued Aleksey Ivanovich, - his little book is quite negligible, but it is the legend of Cleopatra, which so impressed me. AND, it's great, in this place dry and boring Aurelius Victor power of expression equals to Tacitus: Наес such caprice was so often prostitutes; the death of as many persons make a purchase of that is the beauty of the night,…#
- Perfectly! - said The pinnacle. - It reminds me of Sallust - remember? ONLY ...
- What is this, gentlemen? - said the hostess, - Since you deign to speak Latin! As it is fun for us! tell, that means your Latin phrase?
- The fact, that Cleopatra was selling her beauty, and that many have bought it at the price of the night of your life ...
- Horrible! - said the ladies, - What did you find surprising here?
- Like what? Seems to me, Cleopatra was not a vulgar coquette and valued themselves are not cheap. I offered ** make of this poem, it was started, yes I quit.
- And well done.
- What of it he wanted to remove the? What is the main idea here - do not you remember?
- He starts describing the feast in the gardens of the Egyptian queen.
* * *
Темная, sultry night embraces the African sky; Alexandria fell asleep; her moans subsided, home faded. Far Pharos burns in solitude in her wide pier, as the lamp at the head of the sleeping beauty.
* * *
Bright and bustling palaces of Ptolemy: Cleopatra entertains his friends; the table is decorated with ivory lodges; Three hundred young men serve guests, three hundred virgins spread their amphorae, full of Greek wines; Three hundred black eunuchs supervise over them in silence.
* * *
porphyry colonnade, open to the south and north, expects blow Evra; but the air is motionless - fiery lamps burning motionless languages; censers smoke rises straight motionless jet; sea, as a mirror, lying motionless in pink semicircular porch steps. Sphinxes guard it reflected their gilded claws and tails granite ... only sounds cittern and flutes shake lights, air and sea.
* * *
Suddenly the Queen thought sadly wilted wondrous head; Light feast marred her sadness, as the sun is overshadowed by the cloud.
What she is sad?

Why sadness oppresses it?
What is still lacking
Egypt's ancient empress?
In his brilliant capital,
A crowd of slaves Protection,
Calmly she reigns.
Submissive to her earthly gods,
Full of the wonders of her palaces.
Lights Are African Day,
Do freshens night shadow,
Hourly luxury and art
She amuse dormant feelings,
All the earth, waves of the seas
As a tribute to her outfits are,
She blithely their changes,
That shines in the splendor of rubies,
Then elect Tyrian wives
Cover and purple tunic,
The gray-haired Nile Waters
Under the shade of a lush Sail
In his golden trireme
Floats Kipridy Mlada.
Hourly before her eyes
Feasts replaced feasts,
And who knows in his heart
All the mysteries of her nights?..


Votshte! It suffers heart deaf,
It craves comfort unknown -
weary, sated,
Sick insensitivity she ...

Cleopatra is awakened from his reverie.

And if a feast had subsided and napping,
But again she brow lifts,
Haughty eyes it burns,
She says with a smile:
In my love for you bliss?
Well you heed my words;
I can not forget the inequality,
maybe, happiness is you.
I'm calling: who start?
I sell my night,
tell, Who among you will buy
At the cost of my life night?
. . . . . . . . . .

- This item should deliver to the Marquis of George Sand, the same shameless, as your Cleopatra. It is your Egyptian anecdote would be altered to the current mores.
- Can not. There would be no likelihood. This anecdote is quite old; such bargaining now nesbytochen, as the construction of the pyramids.
- Why nesbytochen? Surely between the current women there is not one, who would want to experience the fact that justice, asserting that it constantly: that her love would be more expensive than their lives.
- Let, and it was curious to know. But how to do this academic test? Cleopatra had all sorts of ways to get debtors to pay their. And we? Of course: one can not write such conditions on stamped paper, and testify in the civil Chamber.
- It is possible in this case to rely on the word of honor.
- Like this?
- A woman can take a lover of his parole, that the next day he shot himself.
- And the next day he goes to foreign lands, and it will remain in durah.
- Yes, if he agrees to stay forever dishonorable in the eyes of the, he loves. And the very condition it so hard? Is life really a treasure, it is a pity that at the price and buy happiness? Lend yourself: first varmint, I despise, tell me a word, which can not hurt me in any way, I I substitute forehead under his bullet. I have no right to refuse this pleasure to the first bully, who decided to test my composure. And I'm a coward, when it comes to my bliss? that life, if it is poisoned by sadness, empty desires! And that it, when enjoying her exhausted?
- Are you able to conclude such a condition?..
At this moment Volskaya, that during all the time sitting in silence, with downcast eyes, quickly gazed at their Alexei Ivanovich.
- I'm not talking about myself. but the man, true love, certainly I do not doubt for a single moment ...
- How! Even for a woman, who would not like you? (and, which have agreed to your proposal, b really true you did not like.) The mere thought of this atrocity must destroy the most insane passion ...
- Not, I have seen her consent alone ardor of imagination. And as to the mutual love ... I do not ask her: if I love, What do you care?..
- Stop - God knows what you're talking about. - So that's what you do not want to tell -
. . . . . . . . . .
Young Countess K., tidy ugly, I tried to give an important expression of his nose, similar to the bulb, stuck a turnip, and he said:
- There are now women, who value themselves dearly ...
her husband, Polish Count, married on the calculation (they say, erroneous), He lowered his eyes and drank a cup of tea.
- What do you mean by that perceive, countess? - asked the young man, with difficulty restraining a smile.
- I understand, - answered the Countess K., - that a woman, who respects himself, that respects the ... - Then she got confused; The pinnacle arrived in time to help her.
- You think, that a woman, which respects itself, He does not want the death of the sinner - not you?
. . . . . . . . . .
The conversation changed.
Aleksey Ivanovich sat down beside Volskaya, bent down, if she considered her work, and he said to her in a low voice:
- What do you think about the condition of Cleopatra?
Volskaya silent. Aleksey Ivanovich repeated his question.
- What do you say? And now another woman dearly appreciate themselves. But the men of the 19th century, too cold-blooded, reasonable, to conclude such conditions.
- You think, - said Alexei Ivanovich voice, suddenly changed, - you think, that in our time, In Petersburg, here, find a woman, which will be quite proud, pretty soul force, to prescribe lover Cleopatra conditions?..
- I think, even sure.
- You're not fooling me? Think, it would be too cruel, more cruel, than the same condition ...
Volskaya looked at him with fiery piercing eyes and said in a firm voice: No.
Aleksey Ivanovich stood up, and immediately disappeared.

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