“Who is there?” I heard an alarmed voice in the drawing-room.
And the clock on the table softly struck one at the moment.
For at least half a minute I fumbled at the door in the dark, feeling for the handle; then I slowly opened it and walked into the drawing-room. Zinaida Fyodorovna was lying on the couch, and raising herself on her elbow, she looked towards me. Unable to bring myself to speak, I walked slowly by, and she followed me with her eyes. I stood for a little time in the dining-room and then walked by her again, and she looked at me intently and with perplexity, even with alarm. At last I stood still and said with an effort:
“He is not coming back.”
She quickly got on to her feet, and looked at me without understanding.
“He is not coming back,” I repeated, and my heart beat violently. “He will not come back, for he has not left Petersburg. He is staying at Pekarsky’s.”
She understood and believed me—I saw that from her sudden pallor, and from the way she laid her arms upon her bosom in terror and entreaty. In one instant all that had happened of late flashed through her mind; she reflected, and with pitiless clarity she saw the whole truth. But at the same time she remembered that I was a flunkey, a being of a lower order. . . . A casual stranger, with hair ruffled, with face flushed with fever, perhaps drunk, in a common overcoat, was coarsely intruding into her intimate life, and that offended her. She said to me sternly:
“It’s not your business: go away.”
“Oh, believe me!” I cried impetuously, holding out my hands to her. “I am not a footman; I am as free as you.”
I mentioned my name, and, speaking very rapidly that she might not interrupt me or go away, explained to her who I was and why I was living there. This new discovery struck her more than the first. Till then she had hoped that her footman had lied or made a mistake or been silly, but now after my confession she had no doubts left. From the expression of her unhappy eyes and face, which suddenly lost its softness and beauty and looked old, I saw that she was insufferably miserable, and that the conversation would lead to no good; but I went on impetuously:
“The senator and the tour of inspection were invented to deceive you. In January, just as now, he did not go away, but stayed at Pekarsky’s, and I saw him every day and took part in the deception. He was weary of you, he hated your presence here, he mocked at you . . . . If you could have heard how he and his friends here jeered at you and your love, you would not have remained here one minute! Go away from here! Go away.”
“Well,” she said in a shaking voice, and moved her hand over her hair. “Well, so be it.”
Her eyes were full of tears, her lips were quivering, and her whole face was strikingly pale and distorted with anger. Orlov’s coarse, petty lying revolted her and seemed to her contemptible, ridiculous: she smiled and I did not like that smile.