Essay: Lev Tolstoy and England
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It was very difficult for Hanna to come to any decision. To leave the Tolstoy beloved children and hurt their souls and hearts by the departure was very hard for her. And she understood that it was her duty to be with the Tolstoy children, she had no right to break their little hearts. She stayed with the Tolstoys but her gloomy thoughts were harmful for her health and she felt worse and worse.
In the summer of 1872 the Kusminskys came to Jasnaya Polyana. It was a great holiday for the children because they loved their aunt and uncle and cousins very much. The cousins were two little girls Dasha and Masha and a tiny baby Vera. Tatjana Tolstaya loved her cousin Dasha most of all, she was her playmate though Dasha was 3 years younger. Dasha was a pretty little girl with dark eyes. When the Kuzminskys came Hanna felt a bit better in that big and merry company. All the children and adults went to pick up mushrooms and berries in the forest and swam in the Voronka. In August the Kuzminskys were going to leave Jasnaya Polyana and return back home to Caucasus. By the end of summer Hanna’s health got worse, Lev Tolstoy and Sofja Andreevna did not know what to do… At last it was decided to send Hanna to Caucasus with the Kuzminskys to improve her health in good climate.
Hanna hated to be idle and considered herself to be rather healthy to work so she decided to help the Kuzminskys to bring up their daughters Dasha and Masha.
Tolstoy’s children were very sad to stay without Hanna but they understood that it would be better for her and hoped to see their governess the next summer.
Still it was very hard for Tatnya and she felt lonely after Hanna’s departure and even cried speaking about her with mother. Tanya was 9 years old, her early childhood was over and she was entering her teens. Hanna was gone and Tanya’s happy childhood was gone with her too. Tatyana Tolstaya told that there were many happy moments after childhood in her life but she always remembered how happy she was living in the Vaulted nursery room with Hanna. She dreamt to hear again her governess’s calm voice: “Don’t grieve, child. Things are not so black as they seem to you”. Tanya envied her cousins Dasha and Masha.
At the same time the Tolstoys and the Kuzminskys sent letters to each other. Then suddenly Tanya received a big parcel from Caucasus. Hanna sent her a wonderful cashmere bonnet, Caucasus red boots and a letter. Hanna described her life in Caucasus. She was fond of 7 year old Dasha and little Masha. Tanya was delighted with the letter and the presents.
Perhaps the parents understood how lonely their little Tanya felt and decided to invite a new governess to Jasnaya Polyana. Lev Tolstoy went to Moscow and brought a photo of the future governess to the children. Tanya liked the photo and was looking forward to see her. The only thing which disturbed Lev Tolstoy was that the governess’s name was Dora and he had a dog – the setter named Dora who lived in the house. Lev Tolstoy was afraid to offend the girl and informed her about the fact before her arrival in Jasnaya Polyana. He got a very nice answer in return. She wrote that she loved animals especially dogs and would be glad to have such coincidence. Tanya liked the letter and she met the new girl friendly. Miss Dora was a short and pretty blond with long fair curls. Tanya treated her not as a governess but as a friend.
Tanya and Dora slept in the same room and their relations were rather good until Dora asked the girls to fulfil her demands. Dora was nice and kind but she could not make the little girl obey her. Instead of obeying her Tanya was rude and teased her governess. Their relations became worse and worse. In the long run Sofja Andreevna decided to part with Dora and try to find more serious governess.
When Hanna was living with Tolstoy’s children they always obeyed her. She never shouted at them, and what they valued most of all – she never complained to their parents about them. But poor Dora had nothing to do but to go to their mother and ask for help to rule the children and make them obey.
So poor Dora left the Tolstoy’s family. Sofja Andreevna wrote a letter to England to the pastor who had sent Hanna to Jasnaya Polyana asking to find a good governess for the children and he replied that he could recommend a rather nice girl Emily Tabor by name. He wrote that she was a distant relative to Hanna. She was the niece of Hanna brother’s wife and Tanya hoped that she would love her new governess as she was from the same family as her dear Hanna. The girl was looking forward to see her new teacher and maybe a friend. But she was disappointed when they met first. Emily was plain, silent and a bit crooked, she walked very slow and rarely smiled.
Their first weeks together were calm, then storms began. Tanya did not want to accept that she had to obey anyone but Hanna and her parents, she did not want to obey the strange girl who was given the right to order her. There were much of tears, many quarrels and troubles. Tanya was not afraid of the governess, she was not attached to Emily and did everything to make her angry. Emily also cried much.
Then Emily understood that it was not in her power to make Tanya love her and she gave all her energy and love to little weak Masha. Masha adored Emily so much that spent all her time with the governess and learnt English so well that forgot how to speak Russian. Sometimes when she forgot some Russian word she asked Emily to help her. Once little Masha made everybody laugh when during dinner she wanted to ask for an apple and asked Emily as usual:” Emily, how is яблоко in Russian?”. And only a burst of laugh made her understand that she had said the word in Russian herself. All the other children were taught English by the governess every day.
Tanya was waiting for summer. It was winter of 1872/73. The girl hoped to see Hanna in summer. Lev Tolstoy’s health was not good and he planned to go to Samara steppe to his estate to drink koumiss as a medicine. As Hanna had the same illness the Tolstoys invited her to join them there. She was sent the invitation with the description of the rout from the Caucasus to the Samara estate.
But in May (1873) they got a sad message from the Caucasus. Their 6 - year old cousin Dasha died. It was a great sorrow for the whole family. Tanya grieved that she had lost her best friend and playmate… The only thing that comforted her was that she would soon see Hanna in Samara.
Lev Tolstoy was preparing for the journey and bought everything beforehand. He went to Moscow, went shopping to the best stores and bought boots, travelling bags, cases and boxes, grey hats and grey travelling cloaks for his children. They began to pack. Their mother Sofja Andreevna draw and coloured special pictures to amuse the children during the travelling and made books of them. There were awful wolves catching children and bringing them to woods there, scenes of picking up mushrooms and swimming in rivers, fires with children helping grown-ups carrying buckets of water, hares steeling carrots and cabbages, fir-trees decorated with apples and candles and so on.
At last they left Jasnaya Polyana. The children enjoyed their journey travelling by many means : by cab, by train and by ship. There were 16 persons all together including 6 children and their English governess Emily as well. Tanya did not like the flat steppe at first and even decided to escape to Jasnaya Polyana. Everything was so dull all around, the sun was very hot, no shade at all, no tree, no flower, no puddle, the grass was dried and full of prickles. There were a lot of insects there, the water was bad and tasteless. But then the child postponed the escape till Hanna’s arrival. Tanya hoped that maybe Hanna would make their life in Samara steppe a bit like it had been in Jasnaya Polyana when they lived together with Sergey, Ilya and Hanna in the Vaulted Room.
On the 13th of June Hanna arrived from the Caucasus. The whole family was happy, they began to embrace and kiss her crying with joy. And Hanna found a tender word for everybody. They brought her things to the room where Tanya had been living alone till that moment. There they unpacked her luggage and put everything in the wardrobe.
Hanna came to the Tolstoys very weak from her illness and she was still in great sorrow because of her pupil’s death. Hanna had already managed to become attached to Dasha Kuzminskaya and was devoted to the little girl with all her heart. She said that Dasha was especially spiritually nice the last days of her life. And being together with Tanya they remembered Dasha sobbing low.
Hanna began to drink coumiss conscientiously and earnestly. She wanted to recover by all means in order to be able to help the Kuzminskyes. There was no reason to return to the Tolstoys as they had got already another governess and for Hanna the climate of the Caucasus was much better than the cold climate of Jasnaya Polyana. But the children still hoped that they would see Hanna every summer in Jasnaya Polyana together with the Kuzminskyes. Tanya thought that her lessons and other studies would help her to overcome winter and at that very moment she had to enjoy Hanna’s company and not to think about the parting.
Hanna’s coming changed all Tanya’s life. Hanna was interested in all around her and little Tanya felt the same being near her. Hanna explained to the child the peculiar beauty of the steppe. She said to Tanya: ”Look, these large flocks of sheep remind us of the Bible life. And our Bashkir Muhhamedshah looks like a Bible patriarch with his grey beard, long coloured clothes and his steady polite manners…”
Together with Hanna they went for long walks. Tanya and Hanna even climbed a mountain that was called Shishka. It was rather hard as the mountain was high and steep and they had to creep on their hands and knees to reach the top. There they felt a little breeze and saw the endless steppe all around them reaching the blue sky. On the slopes of the mountain they found many fossils of different shape.
Sometimes Tanya and Hanna went for a walk in the steppe at night. The steppe was very beautiful at night with thousands of stars shining from the vast sky dome. Tanya and Hanna felt themselves to be so tiny creatures compared with the infinity of the sky. The steppe was covered with feather-grass, which was white and light like fluff. Under the moonlight when it was swinging by wind it seemed that the steppe had silver coverlet upon it. Hanna and Tanya picked the grass, made bunches and decorated their room.
Sometimes by day Hanna and the children went to water-melon plantations where huge melons and water-melons were growing. An old man gave them the ripe fruit. They did not have knives with them and divided the water-melons dropping them on the ground.
In the evening they saw how reapers were returning home. They reaped very fast and came to another field leaving many spikes on the ground. Hanna was all against such wastefulness, she was always against any unnecessary expenditure. She said:” Waist is a great sin. Every thing demands a lot of human labour and we must not destroy it. Just think how many persons could be saved from hunger with these spikes lost in the field”. Hanna told about it to Lev Tolstoy and he asked her together with his children to collect as many sheaves as possible and then he would orange to thresh them. The children liked the idea and began to gather spikes. Hanna told that it also reminded her the Bible times when Ruth was gleaning.
Under the burning sun the children were gleaning and gathered several sheaves and then had them threshed. It appeared that each of them saved 100 kg of grain. The children and Hanna were delighted by the fact that they had been able to work so hard.
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