A Russian Summer

by James Keogh


The morning was bright, the sky a clear blue, I strolled out of the house into a warm breeze which caressed my bare arms and legs. Insects buzzed, leaves rustled, and I was imbued with a natural effervescent, not a thing I had envisaged. Rather I was determined to walk into the countryside and let myself fall once more into melancholy, yet today chance had decided otherwise and lifted my spirits with the rising Sun. I marched for some time, leaving behind the houses and with them all that troubled me, until eventually I found a perfect spot amidst the long grass on a gentle slope, to lie down and repose. I contemplated that kiss and the softly spoken words, I was certain Konstantin could not fail to see my courage, my boldness, and my desire. It may be he is bewitched like the others, with the Princess, but she has them all dancing around her and makes no move. I, on the other hand, had been bold and courageous, deserving of his affection, and what more I wouldn't do for him. My imagination wandered and I conjured all kinds of desires in my mind. If he would but take me in his arms, rescue me, like a wounded soldier on the field of battle, draw to him and kiss me so as to breathe life back into my dying body. He would lift me onto his horse and gallop away to a place of safety, where alone, he would tend my wounds, heal me with his caresses, and I would be his. My revelry was interrupted when a butterfly alighted on my arm, I was about to brush away what I thought to be an irritation, until so noticed and instead admired it's beauty before it took flight and I watched it move across the meadow.

I was unaware of how long I had been lying and dreaming in the summer sun, I picked myself up, thinking it must be time to start back, not to miss dinner. All of a sudden I felt hungry and I had not thought to bring anything with me. The quickest route was towards the town and back along the lane, and so I descended from the meadow in that direction. It was as I neared the town, now on a dirt track that led in that direction, I heard the sound of horses hooves thudding over the ground. I turned to look and spotted there below me my father sitting astride his horse in conversation with Princess Anoushka, his head bent towards her, his hand resting on the neck of her mount. It was Vyacheslav thundering along the lane at a gallop who drew up beside them, resplendent in his hussar's uniform, his sabre clattering at his side, he looked almost out of breath. His horse snorted and pranced about, he looked over at the princess and my father, said something, and was off, spurring on his steed. Shortly after my father and Princess Anoushka galloped after him. It seemed odd that Vyacheslav looked red as a lobster when the princess was quite pale, yet they had all been out riding the whole morning.

I walked quickly so as not to be late for dinner, I needed to wash and change, and I did not want to give my mother yet another reason to be cross with me. I found my father reading the journal, recounting some article or other out loud to my mother who was not paying much attention. When I entered the room she immediately turned to me wanting to know, "Where have you been all day, and in what company?"

"I have been out walking, mamma, in my own company."

My father looked up from his paper.

"Are you being disrespectful?" She became annoyed.

"No, not at all." I was about to say the only people I had seen all day were the princess out riding with my father and Vyacheslav, but I looked at my father and for some reason said nothing.

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead