“Rat,” I said, “this afternoon I am going out!”
“Very well, Barin,” he said, “I, too, have an engagement.”
In the afternoon I crept out like an old sick man. I felt strangely shy and nervous. When I reached the corner of Ekateringofsky Canal and the English Prospect I decided not to go in and see the Markovitches. For one thing I shrank from the thought of their compassion. I had not shaved for many days. I was that dull sickly yellow colour that offends the taste of all healthy vigorous people. I did not want their pity. No.... I would wait until I was stronger.
My interest in life was reviving with every step that I took. I don’t know what I had expected the outside world to be. This was April 14. It was nearly a month since the outburst of the Revolution, and surely there should be signs in the streets of the results of such a cataclysm. There were, on the surface, no signs. There was the same little cinema on the canal with its gaudy coloured posters, there was the old woman sitting at the foot of the little bridge with her basket of apples and bootlaces, there was the same wooden hut with the sweets and the fruit, the same figures of peasant women, soldiers, boys hurrying across the bridge, the same slow, sleepy Isvostchick stumbling along carelessly. One sign there was. Exactly opposite the little cinema, on the other side of the canal, was a high grey block of flats. This now was starred and sprayed with the white marks of bullets. It was like a man marked for life with smallpox. That building alone was witness to me that I had not dreamt the events of that week.
The thaw made walking very difficult. The water poured down the sides of the houses and gurgled in floods through the pipes. The snow was slippery under the film of gleaming wet, and there were huge pools at every step. Across the middle of the English Prospect, near the Baths, there was quite a deep lake....
I wandered slowly along, enjoying the chill warmth of the soft spring sun. The winter was nearly over! Thank God for that! What had happened during my month of illness? Perhaps a great Revolutionary army had been formed, and a mighty, free, and united Russia was going out to save the world! Oh, I did hope that it was so! Surely that wonderful white week was a good omen. No Revolution in history had started so well as this one....
I found my way at last very slowly to the end of the Quay, and the sight of the round towers of my favourite church was like the reassuring smile of an old friend. The sun was dropping low over the Neva. The whole vast expanse of the river was coloured very faintly pink. Here, too, there was the film of the water above the ice; the water caught the colour, but the ice below it was grey and still. Clouds of crimson and orange and faint gold streamed away in great waves of light from the sun. The long line of buildings and towers on the farther side was jet-black; the