To be cosily sitting by one's fireside again such a morning and to be feeling not at all the worse of it, seemed extraordinary to my mother; she would not have been surprised if it had laid her up with a violent sick headache. But no! Nothing of the kind; instead of that she was feeling particularly energetic and pleased with life, and long before Sophy's curiosity was half satisfied, she laid hold of the volume of Anna Karenina in the Russian and began '... the old monster says here...'
The news of Joe's dementia had spread very quickly to our dear friend and neighbour Sophy Petrovna, and directly she had heard that the coast was clear, that Joe was in the hands of the police, she had put on her goloshes and her fur tippet and had set off up the hill to hear all about it. At lunch she had teased my father and he had teased her back, and after lunch she had settled down to roll herself one cigarette after another and to hear, over the coffee, every detail from my mother. She had heard a great deal, but eventually my mother grew restive; a whole day was being wasted owing to that wretched man, and the heaven-sent opportunity of getting a Russian opinion on the passage which had been troubling her was being wasted too, because of Sophy's greediness for gossip. So seizing Anna Karenina she opened the pages and, as she scanned them hastily, her expression completely changed; all the rather shy, girlish propitiatory warmth left her face and her features assumed a sharp, masterful expression. Sophy was sometimes a little put out by my mother's manner while some of these special points were being referred to her. For she had a habit of picking out phrases which, though they would never have attracted attention had one been reading the book for pleasure, were always troublesome. And when she felt that she had solved the problem satisfactorily, my mother would split her explanation into two, and say:
'But you see, Sophy, that what you have said is ambiguous. Does he mean this - or that? He cannot have intended both.'
David Garnett, Beany-Eye. Penguin Books, 1948
N.B.: a mãe de David Garnett, Constance Garnett, foi efectivamente uma prolífica tradutora de autores russos, nomeadamente Tchékhov.