“Stop!” muttered Frolov, pulling out his pocket-book. “Well! . . . let them rob me. That’s what I’m rich for, to be robbed! . . . You can’t get on without parasites! . . . You are my lawyer. You get six thousand a year out of me and what for? But excuse me, . . . I don’t know what I am saying.”
As he was returning home with Almer, Frolov murmured:
“Going home is awful to me! Yes! . . . There isn’t a human being I can open my soul to. . . . They are all robbers . . . traitors . . . . Oh, why did I tell you my secret? Yes . . . why? Tell me why?”
At the entrance to his house, he craned forward towards Almer and, staggering, kissed him on the lips, having the old Moscow habit of kissing indiscriminately on every occasion.
“Good-bye . . . I am a difficult, hateful man,” he said. “A horrid, drunken, shameless life. You are a well-educated, clever man, but you only laugh and drink with me . . . there’s no help from any of you. . . . But if you were a friend to me, if you were an honest man, in reality you ought to have said to me: ’Ugh, you vile, hateful man! You reptile!’”
“Come, come,” Almer muttered, “go to bed.”
“There is no help from you; the only hope is that, when I am in the country in the summer, I may go out into the fields and a storm come on and the thunder may strike me dead on the spot. . . . Good-bye.”
Frolov kissed Almer once more and muttering and dropping asleep as he walked, began mounting the stairs, supported by two footmen.
ON the first of February every year, St. Trifon’s day, there is an extraordinary commotion on the estate of Madame Zavzyatov, the widow of Trifon Lvovitch, the late marshal of the district. On that day, the nameday of the deceased marshal, the widow Lyubov Petrovna has a requiem service celebrated in his memory, and after the requiem a thanksgiving to the Lord. The whole district assembles for the service. There you will see Hrumov the present marshal, Marfutkin, the president of the Zemstvo, Potrashkov, the permanent member of the Rural Board, the two justices of the peace of the district, the police captain, Krinolinov, two police-superintendents, the district doctor, Dvornyagin, smelling of iodoform, all the landowners, great and small, and so on. There are about fifty people assembled in all.
Precisely at twelve o’clock, the visitors, with long faces, make their way from all the rooms to the big hall. There are carpets on the floor and their steps are noiseless, but the solemnity of the occasion makes them instinctively walk on tip-toe, holding out their hands to balance themselves. In the hall everything is already prepared. Father Yevmeny, a little old man in a high faded cap, puts on his black vestments. Konkordiev, the deacon, already in his vestments, and as red as a crab, is noiselessly turning over the leaves of his missal and putting slips of paper in it. At the door leading to the vestibule, Luka, the sacristan, puffing out his cheeks and making round eyes, blows up the censer. The hall is gradually filled with bluish transparent smoke and the smell of incense.