Danielle Steel: Zoya

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  • Название:
    Zoya
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Random House, Inc.
  • Жанр:
    Старинная литература / на английском языке
  • Год:
    1989
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    9780440203858
  • Рейтинг книги:
    3 / 5
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Zoya: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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“Nobody asked you!” she said pointedly, and then kissed him again. “Good-bye, you utterly awful boy.”

“I'm not a boy, I'm a man, not that you would ever know the difference.”

“I would if I saw one.”

He waved at them all from the door with a look of amusement, and then he was gone, more than likely to visit his little dancer.

“What a charming boy he is” Konstantin. He reminds me a great deal of you when you were young,” the elderly Countess said with pride, as her son smiled, and Zoya threw herself into a chair with a look of disgust.

“I think he's perfectly awful.”

“He speaks of you far more kindly, Zoya Konstanti-novna,” her father said gently. He was proud of them and loved them both deeply. He bent to kiss her cheek, and then smiled quietly at his mother. “Are you really going to take the dog, Mama?” he asked the Countess Evgenia. “I'm afraid Natalya will put us all out of the house if I press her any further.” He stifled a sigh. There were times when he would have liked his wife to be a trifle easier to deal with, particularly when his mother was looking on in barely silent judgment. But Evgenia Ossupov had formed her opinions of her daughter-in-law long since, and nothing Natalya did now was likely to change them in any case.

“Of course. I would like to have a little friend.” She turned to Zoya with a look of amusement. “Which of their dogs sired this one? The Tsarevich's Charles, or Tatiana's little Hrench bulldog?”

“Neither, Grandmama. It's from Marie's cocker spaniel, Joy. She's so sweet, Grandmama. And her name is Sava.” Zoya looked radiant and childlike as she went to sit at her grandmother's knees, and the older woman put a gnarled but loving hand on her shoulders.

“Ask her only not to christen my favorite Aubusson and we shall be fast friends, I promise.” She stroked the fiery red hair that fell across Zoya's shoulders. She had loved the touch of her grandmother's hands since she was a child, and she reached up and kissed her tenderly. “Thank you, Grandmama. I so want to keep him.” “And so you shall, little one … so you shall….” She stood up then and walked slowly toward the fire, feeling tired but at ease, as Zoya disappeared to retrieve the little puppy from the servants. The Countess turned slowly to Konstantin, and it seemed only moments before when he had been Nicolai's age, and much, much younger. The years seemed to fly by so quickly, but they had been kind to her. Her husband had led a full life. He had died three years before at eighty-nine, and she had always felt blessed to have loved him. Konstantin looked like him now, and it reminded her of him in happy ways, particularly when she saw him with Zoya. “She's a lovely child, Konstantin Nicolaevich … a beautiful young girl.” “She's a great deal like you, Mama.” Evgenia shook her head, but he could see in her eyes that she agreed with him. There were times when she saw a great deal of herself in the girl, and she was always glad that Zoya was very little like her mother. Even when she disobeyed her mother, the old Countess somehow thought it admirable, and had long since felt it was a sign of her own blood running in Zoya's veins, which annoyed Natalya even more. “She is someone new … she is her own. We must not burden her with our quirks and failings”

“When have you ever failed? You have always been good to me, Mama … to all of us …” She was a woman who was respected and well liked. A woman of purpose and sound values. He knew her wisdom and depended on her countless but generally sensible opinions.

“Here she is, Grandmama!” Zoya had reappeared with the little dog. She was scarcely bigger than Zoya's hands, and the countess took the puppy carefully from her. “Isn't she sweet?”

“She is wonderful … and so she shall be until she eats my best hat, or my favorite shoes … but not, please God, my favorite Aubusson carpet. And if you do,” she said, stroking the puppy's head as she had Zoya's only moments before, “I shall make soup of you. Remember that!” Little Sava barked, as though in answer. “That was very nice of Alix to give her to you, little one. I hope you thanked her properly.”

Zoya giggled and covered her mouth with a grace-fill hand. “She was rather afraid Mama would be upset.”

Her grandmother chuckled as Konstantin tried not to smile, in deference to his wife. “She knows your mother very well, I see, doesn't she, Konstantin?” She looked him straight in the eye and he understood everything that she was saying.

“Poor Natalya's health has not made things easy for her lately. Perhaps eventually …” She tried to defend her.

“Never mind, Konstantin.” The dowager countess waved an impatient hand, as she held the puppy close and kissed her granddaughter good night. “Come and see us tomorrow, Zoya. Or are you going back to Tsarskoe Selo? I should go with you one of these days and pay a call on Alix and the children.”

“Not while they're ill, Mama, please … and the drive will be too much for you, in this weather.”

His mother laughed out loud. “Don't be foolish, Konstantin. I had measles almost a hundred years ago, and I have never been worried about weather. I'm quite well, thank you very much, and I plan to stay that way for at least another dozen years, or perhaps more. And I'm mean enough to do just that.”

“That's excellent news.” He smiled. “I'll walk you back to the pavilion.”

“Don't be foolish.” She waved him away as Zoya went to find her cloak and returned to put it over her shoulders. “I'm quite capable of walking across the garden, you know. I do it several times a day.”

“Then don't deny me the pleasure of doing it with you, madame.”

She smiled up at him, seeing him as a child again, in her heart anyway, where forever he would remain a small boy for as long as she lived. “Very well then, Konstantin. Good night, Zoya.”

“Good night, Grandmama. And thank you for keeping Sava for me.” The old woman gave her a fond kiss, and Zoya went upstairs to her mauve room as they went out into the cold night air. Zoya yawned to herself, and smiled as she thought of the little dog Marie and her mother had given her. It had been a lovely day. She softly closed her bedroom door, and promised herself she would return to Tsarskoe Selo in a day or two. But in the meantime, she would have to think of something wonderful to take to Mashka.

CHAPTER

3

Two days later, Zoya was planning to return to Tsarskoe Selo to see Marie, and instead a letter came that morning before breakfast. It was delivered by Dr. Fedorov himself, Alexis's doctor, who had come to town to bring back some more medicines, and he brought the unwelcome news that Marie had also succumbed to the measles. Zoya read her note with dismay. It meant not only that she could not visit her, but that they might not see each other for weeks, as Dr. Fedorov said that she would not be able to have visitors for quite some time, depending on how ill she became. Already, Anastasia was having trouble with her ears as a result of the disease, and he greatly feared that the Tsarevich was developing pneumonia.

“Oh, my God …” Natalya wailed. “And you've been exposed as well. Zoya, I had forbidden you to go and now you've exposed yourself … how could you do this to me? How dare you!” She was nearly hysterical at the thought of the illness Zoya might unwittingly have brought into the house, and Konstantin arrived on the scene in time to see his wife swoon, and he sent her maid rapidly upstairs for her vinaigrette. He had commissioned a special case for it by Fabergo, in the shape of a large red enamel, diamond encrusted strawberry, which she kept ever near her, by her bedside.

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