A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles Read Online (FREE)
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How well I remember
When it came as a visitor on foot
And dwelt a while amongst us
A melody in the semblance of a mountain cat.
Well, where is our purpose now?
Like so many questions
I answer this one
With the eye-averted peeling of a pear.
With a bow I bid goodnight
And pass through terrace doors
Into the simple splendors
Of another temperate spring;
But this much I know:
It is not lost among the autumn leaves on Peter’s Square.
It is not among the ashes in the Athenaeum ash cans.
It is not inside the blue pagodas of your fine Chinoiserie.
It is not in Vronsky’s saddlebags;
Not in Sonnet XXX, stanza one;
Not on twenty-seven red . . .
Where Is It Now? (Lines 1–19)
Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov
21 June 1922
APPEARANCE OF COUNT ALEXANDER ILYICH ROSTOV
BEFORE THE EMERGENCY COMMITTEE OF THE PEOPLE’S COMMISSARIAT FOR INTERNAL AFFAIRS
Presiding: Comrades V. A. Ignatov, M. S. Zakovsky, A. N. Kosarev
Prosecuting: A. Y. Vyshinsky
Prosecutor Vyshinsky: State your name.
Rostov: Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt.
Vyshinsky: You may have your titles; they are of no use to anyone else. But for the record, are you not Alexander Rostov, born in St. Petersburg, 24 October 1889?
Rostov: I am he.
Vyshinsky: Before we begin, I must say, I do not think that I have ever seen a jacket festooned with so many buttons.
Rostov: Thank you.
Vyshinsky: It was not meant as a compliment.
Rostov: In that case, I demand satisfaction on the field of honor.
Secretary Ignatov: Silence in the gallery.
Vyshinsky: What is your current address?
Rostov: Suite 317 at the Hotel Metropol, Moscow.
Vyshinsky: How long have you lived there?
Rostov: I have been in residence since the fifth of September 1918. Just under four years.
Vyshinsky: And your occupation?
Rostov: It is not the business of gentlemen to have occupations.
Vyshinsky: Very well then. How do you spend your time?
Rostov: Dining, discussing. Reading, reflecting. The usual rigmarole.
Vyshinsky: And you write poetry?
Rostov: I have been known to fence with a quill.
Vyshinsky: [Holding up a pamphlet] Are you the author of this long poem of 1913: Where Is It Now?
Rostov: It has been attributed to me.
Vyshinsky: Why did you write the poem?
Rostov: It demanded to be written. I simply happened to be sitting at the particular desk on the particular morning when it chose to make its demands.
Vyshinsky: And where was that exactly?