“Everything there is over for me. You know, I could not refrain from writing a letter. Here is the answer.”
On the sheet which she gave there was written in Orlov’s hand:
“I am not going to justify myself. But you must own that it was your mistake, not mine. I wish you happiness, and beg you to make haste and forget.
“P. S.—I am sending on your things.”
The trunks and baskets despatched by Orlov were standing in the passage, and my poor little portmanteau was there beside them.
“So . . .” Zinaida Fyodorovna began, but she did not finish.
We were silent. She took the note and held it for a couple of minutes before her eyes, and during that time her face wore the same haughty, contemptuous, proud, and harsh expression as the day before at the beginning of our explanation; tears came into her eyes—not timid, bitter tears, but proud, angry tears.
“Listen,” she said, getting up abruptly and moving away to the window that I might not see her face. “I have made up my mind to go abroad with you tomorrow.”
“I am very glad. I am ready to go to-day.”
“Accept me as a recruit. Have you read Balzac?” she asked suddenly, turning round. “Have you? At the end of his novel ‘Pere Goriot’ the hero looks down upon Paris from the top of a hill and threatens the town: ‘Now we shall settle our account,’ and after this he begins a new life. So when I look out of the train window at Petersburg for the last time, I shall say, ‘Now we shall settle our account!’”
Saying this, she smiled at her jest, and for some reason shuddered all over.
At Venice I had an attack of pleurisy. Probably I had caught cold in the evening when we were rowing from the station to the Hotel Bauer. I had to take to my bed and stay there for a fortnight. Every morning while I was ill Zinaida Fyodorovna came from her room to drink coffee with me, and afterwards read aloud to me French and Russian books, of which we had bought a number at Vienna. These books were either long, long familiar to me or else had no interest for me, but I had the sound of a sweet, kind voice beside me, so that the meaning of all of them was summed up for me in the one thing—I was not alone. She would go out for a walk, come back in her light grey dress, her light straw hat, gay, warmed by the spring sun; and sitting by my bed, bending low down over me, would tell me something about Venice or read me those books—and I was happy.