Short version of my question: Can we use a word 'directly' when want to say 'just a moment' or 'I'll be ready right away'? And, if yes, do native speakers often do it?
I've been reading Resurrection, a novel by Leo Tolstoy, and encountered an unfamiliar to me use of a word 'directly'.
There's an episode when a protagonist guides an englishman to Russian prison. When the protagonist stops to talk to a prisoner and takes too long, the englishman asks 'Are you ready?'. The protagonist answers 'Directly', which is translated into russian by the author in brackets like 'just a moment'.
I never encountered this usage of the word 'directly'. May it be some kind of old English since the novel is written in 19th century? It could be lack of knowledge of English language by the author but Leo Tolstoy was known to be a good English speaker. Anyway, the phrase is too simple to make a mistake in it unintentionally. Same thing about the character - it is told that he knows English well:
The fact of his speaking English, French, and German with a good accent, and of his wearing the best linen, clothes, ties, and studs, bought from the most expensive dealers in these goods, he quite knew would not serve as a reason for claiming superiority.
Here's the quote from the novel in Russian:
Какая вы хорошая женщина! - сказал он.
Я-то хорошая? - сказала она сквозь слезы, и жалостная улыбка осветила ее лицо.
Are you ready? [Вы готовы? (англ., перевод Л. Н. Толстого)] - спросил между тем англичанин.
Directly, [Сейчас (англ., перевод Л. Н. Толстого)] - ответил Нехлюдов и спросил ее о Крыльцове.
Она оправилась от волнения и спокойно рассказала, что знала: Крыльцов очень ослабел дорогой <...>
And here's the quote from the translation by Louise Maude:
“What a good woman you are,” he said.
“I good?” she said through her tears, and a pathetic smile lit up her face.
“Are you ready?” the Englishman asked.
“Directly,” replied Nekhludoff and asked her about Kryltzoff.
She got over her emotion and quietly told him all she knew. Kryltzoff was very weak and <...>