It was Vera. At once he saw that she was strangely agitated. Before she had switched on the light he realised it. With a click the light was on. Markovitch had intended to open his door and go out to her, smiling. He saw at once that she was waiting for some one.... He stood, trembling, on tiptoe, his face pressed against the glass of the pane.
Lawrence came in. He had the face, Markovitch told me many weeks afterwards, “of a triumphant man.”
They had obviously met outside, because Vera said, as though continuing a conversation:
“And it’s only just happened?”
“I’ve come straight from there,” Lawrence answered.
Then he went up to her. She let herself at once go to him and he half carried her to a chair near the table and exactly opposite Markovitch’s window.
They kissed “like people who had been starving all their lives.” Markovitch was trembling so that he was afraid lest he should tumble or make some noise. The two figures in the chair were like statues in their immobile, relentless, unswerving embrace.
Suddenly he saw that Nina was standing in the opposite doorway “like a ghost.” She was there for so brief a moment that he could not be sure that she had been there at all. Only her white, frightened face remained with him.
One of his thoughts was:
“This is the end of my life.”
“How could they be so careless, with the light on, and perhaps people in the flat!”
And after that:
“They need it so much that they don’t care who sees—Starved people....”
And after that:
“I’m starved too.”
He was so cold that his teeth were chattering, and he crept back from his window, crept into the farthest farthest corner of his little room, and crouched there on the floor, staring and staring, but seeing nothing at all.
MARKOVITCH AND SEMYONOV
MARKOVITCH AND SEMYONOV.
On the evening of that very afternoon, Thursday, I again collapsed. I was coming home in the dusk through a whispering world. All over the streets, everywhere on the broad shining snow, under a blaze of stars so sharp and piercing that the sky seemed strangely close and intimate, the talk went on. Groups everywhere and groups irrespective of all class distinction—a well-to-do woman in rich furs, a peasant woman with a shawl over her head, a wild, bearded soldier, a stout, important officer, a maid-servant, a cab-driver, a shopman—talking, talking, talking, talking.... The eagerness, the ignorance, the odd fairy-tale world spun about those groups, so that the coloured domes of the churches, the silver network of the stars, the wooden booths, the mist of candles before the Ikons, the rough painted pictures on the shops advertising the goods sold within—all these things shared in that crude idealistic, cynical ignorance, in that fairy-tale of brutality, goodness, cowardice, and bravery, malice and generosity, superstition and devotion that was so shortly to be offered to a materialistic, hard-fighting, brave and unthinking Europe!...