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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Women in books - "Garnet Bracelet" by Alexander Kuprin, translated by Maria K.

Here we have yet another observation by the author - an observation of a meeting between two sisters, as unlike each other as they could be and yet very fond of each other despite, or perhaps because, of their differences.

Please note:
Unfortunately, I haven't done any illustrations for this story, even though I love it very much. I was able to find a still from the wonderful Russian movie version of the story, with the stunning and regal Ariadne Shengelaya as Vera.

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The two sisters happily exchanged kisses. Since very early childhood they were attached to each other with a warm and caring friendship. In their appearance they were strangely different. Vera, the eldest, took after their mother, a beautiful Englishwoman, with her tall graceful figure, delicate but cold and proud face, rather large but beautifully shaped hands and that charming slope to her shoulders one could find in the antique miniature portraits. Anna, the youngest, inherited the Mongol blood of their father, the Tatar prince, whose grandfather became a Christian only at the beginning of the XIX century, and whose ancient family traced back to Tamerlan himself, or Lang-Temir as their father called him proudly in the Tatar fashion, with great admiration for that great slaughterer. She was about six inches shorter than her sister, somewhat broad around the shoulders, very lively and carefree, with a penchant for teasing. Her face was of a very Mongol type, with pronounced cheekbones, narrow eyes, which she tended to squint due to her nearsightedness, with a small, sensual, arrogantly set mouth, especially due to its somewhat pouty full lower lip. This face, however, enchanted one with some kind of elusive incomprehensible charm, hidden perhaps in the smile, perhaps in the profound femininity of all its features, or perhaps in its piquant coquettishly playful movements. Her graceful homeliness excited and attracted men's attention much more frequently and stronger than the aristocratic beauty of her sister.

She was married to a very wealthy and a very stupid man, who did absolutely nothing, but was assigned to some charitable organization and had a title. She couldn't stand her husband but bore him two children nevertheless - a boy and a girl; she decided not to have any more children and did not have them. As for Vera - she passionately wanted children and the more the better, but could not have them for some reason, and she passionately and painfully adored the pretty fragile children of her younger sister, always well-behaved and obedient, with chalk-pale faces and doll-like curled fair hair.

Anna consisted entirely of cheerful carelessness and sweet, sometimes strange contradictions. She had frequently engaged in the most risky flirtation in all of Europe's capitals and resorts, but she never cheated her husband, whom she made fun of derisively both to his face and behind his back; she was a terrible spender, adored games of chance, balls, strong impressions and exciting spectacles, attended places of questionable repute while abroad, but at the same time was generously kind and deeply, sincerely religious (the latter having resulted in her secretly becoming a Catholic). She had remarkably beautiful back, bosom and shoulders. When attending large formal balls, she showed off a lot more skin than was appropriate or fashionable, but the rumor had it she wore a hairshirt under her low-cut gowns.

Vera was sternly direct, coolly and somewhat haughtily polite to all, independent and majestically aloof.

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