We were both silent after Katya had gone, and around us all was still save for the nightingale trilling now, not as she had done earlier, hesitantly and in fits and starts, but flooding the garden with her serene, unhurried song of night, with another down below in the hollow answering her for the first time that evening. The bird nearest to us stopped and seemed to listen for a moment before pouring out again still more shrilly her piercing longdrawn cadences. There was a regal calm in the birds' notes as they rang out in the night, in a world which belonged to them and not to man. The gardener walked past on his way to his pallet in the greenhouse, the tread of his heavy boots growing fainter and fainter down the path. At the foot of the hill someone whistled twice sharply, and then again all was still. A leaf stirred almost with a sigh, the veranda awning flapped gently, and a sweet fragrance hovering gently in the air wafted into the veranda, filling it.

Leo Tolstoy, "Happy Ever After," from The Cossacks, Penguin, trans. Rosemary Edmonds, Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1960, p. 23.

TIME: a June evening, ca. 1856

PLACE: garden of a country estate in Russia