“Well,” she repeated, passing her hand over her hair again, “so be it. He imagines that I shall die of humiliation, and instead of that I am . . . amused by it. There’s no need for him to hide.” She walked away from the piano and said, shrugging her shoulders: “There’s no need. . . . It would have been simpler to have it out with me instead of keeping in hiding in other people’s flats. I have eyes; I saw it myself long ago. . . . I was only waiting for him to come back to have things out once for all.”
Then she sat down on a low chair by the table, and, leaning her head on the arm of the sofa, wept bitterly. In the drawing-room there was only one candle burning in the candelabra, and the chair where she was sitting was in darkness; but I saw how her head and shoulders were quivering, and how her hair, escaping from her combs, covered her neck, her face, her arms. . . . Her quiet, steady weeping, which was not hysterical but a woman’s ordinary weeping, expressed a sense of insult, of wounded pride, of injury, and of something helpless, hopeless, which one could not set right and to which one could not get used. Her tears stirred an echo in my troubled and suffering heart; I forgot my illness and everything else in the world; I walked about the drawing-room and muttered distractedly:
“Is this life? . . . Oh, one can’t go on living like this, one can’t. . . . Oh, it’s madness, wickedness, not life.”
“What humiliation!” she said through her tears. “To live together, to smile at me at the very time when I was burdensome to him, ridiculous in his eyes! Oh, how humiliating!”
She lifted up her head, and looking at me with tear-stained eyes through her hair, wet with her tears, and pushing it back as it prevented her seeing me, she asked:
“They laughed at me?”
“To these men you were laughable—you and your love and Turgenev; they said your head was full of him. And if we both die at once in despair, that will amuse them, too; they will make a funny anecdote of it and tell it at your requiem service. But why talk of them?” I said impatiently. “We must get away from here—I cannot stay here one minute longer.”
She began crying again, while I walked to the piano and sat down.
“What are we waiting for?” I asked dejectedly. “It’s two o’clock.”
“I am not waiting for anything,” she said. “I am utterly lost.”
“Why do you talk like that? We had better consider together what we are to do. Neither you nor I can stay here. Where do you intend to go?”
Suddenly there was a ring at the bell. My heart stood still. Could it be Orlov, to whom perhaps Kukushkin had complained of me? How should we meet? I went to open the door. It was Polya. She came in shaking the snow off her pelisse, and went into her room without saying a word to me. When I went back to the drawing-room, Zinaida Fyodorovna, pale as death, was standing in the middle of the room, looking towards me with big eyes.