Then I saw Markovitch and Semyonov.
I had no doubt at all that the moment had at last arrived. It was as though I had seen it all somewhere before. Semyonov was standing a little apart leaning against a tree, watching with his sarcastic smile the movements of the crowd. Markovitch was a little way off. I could see his eyes fixed absolutely on Semyonov. He did not move nor notice the people who jostled him. Semyonov made a movement with his hand as though he had suddenly come to some decision. He walked slowly away in the direction of the palace. Markovitch, keeping a considerable distance from him, followed. For a moment I was held by the crowd around me, and when at last I got free Semyonov had disappeared, and I could just see Markovitch turning the corner of the palace.
I ran across the grass, trying to call out, but I could not hear my own voice. I turned the corner, and instantly I was in a strange place of peace. The old building with its wooden lattices and pillars stood melancholy guard over the dead pond on whose surface some fragments of ice still lay. There was no sun, only a heavy, oppressive air. All the noise was muffled as though a heavy door had swung to.
They were standing quite close to me. Semyonov had turned and faced us both. I saw him smile, and his lips moved. A moment later I saw Markovitch fling his hand forward, and in the air the light on the revolver twinkled. I heard no sound, but I saw Semyonov raise his arm, as though in self-defence. His face, lifted strangely to the bare branches, was triumphant, and I heard quite clearly the words, like a cry of joy and welcome:
“At last!... At last!”
He tumbled forward on his face.
I saw Markovitch turn the revolver on himself, and then heard a report, sharp and deafening, as though we had been in a small room. I saw Markovitch put his hand to his side, and his mouth, open as though in astonishment, was suddenly filled with blood. I ran to him, caught him in my arms; he turned on me a face full of puzzled wonder, I caught the word “Vera,” and he crumpled up against my heart.
Even as I held him, I heard coming closer and closer the rough triumphant notes of the “Marseillaise.”