“You’ve got a long nose.” That must be from the deacon or Kostya.
Nadyezhda Fyodorovna imagined how, parting from Laevsky, she would embrace him warmly, would kiss his hand, and would swear to love him all her life, all her life, and then, living in obscurity among strangers, she would every day think that somewhere she had a friend, some one she loved—a pure, noble, lofty man who kept a pure memory of her.
“If you don’t give me an interview to-day, I shall take measures, I assure you on my word of honour. You can’t treat decent people like this; you must understand that.” That was from Kirilin.
Laevsky received two notes; he opened one and read: “Don’t go away, my darling.”
“Who could have written that?” he thought. “Not Samoylenko, of course. And not the deacon, for he doesn’t know I want to go away. Von Koren, perhaps?”
The zoologist bent over the table and drew a pyramid. Laevsky fancied that his eyes were smiling.
“Most likely Samoylenko . . . has been gossiping,” thought Laevsky.
In the other note, in the same disguised angular handwriting with long tails to the letters, was written: “Somebody won’t go away on Saturday.”
“A stupid gibe,” thought Laevsky. “Friday, Friday. . . .”
Something rose in his throat. He touched his collar and coughed, but instead of a cough a laugh broke from his throat.
“Ha-ha-ha!” he laughed. “Ha-ha-ha! What am I laughing at? Ha-ha-ha!”
He tried to restrain himself, covered his mouth with his hand, but the laugh choked his chest and throat, and his hand could not cover his mouth.
“How stupid it is!” he thought, rolling with laughter. “Have I gone out of my mind?”
The laugh grew shriller and shriller, and became something like the bark of a lap-dog. Laevsky tried to get up from the table, but his legs would not obey him and his right hand was strangely, without his volition, dancing on the table, convulsively clutching and crumpling up the bits of paper. He saw looks of wonder, Samoylenko’s grave, frightened face, and the eyes of the zoologist full of cold irony and disgust, and realised that he was in hysterics.
“How hideous, how shameful!” he thought, feeling the warmth of tears on his face. “. . . Oh, oh, what a disgrace! It has never happened to me. . . .”
They took him under his arms, and supporting his head from behind, led him away; a glass gleamed before his eyes and knocked against his teeth, and the water was spilt on his breast; he was in a little room, with two beds in the middle, side by side, covered by two snow-white quilts. He dropped on one of the beds and sobbed.
“It’s nothing, it’s nothing,” Samoylenko kept saying; “it does happen . . . it does happen. . . .”
Chill with horror, trembling all over and dreading something awful, Nadyezhda Fyodorovna stood by the bedside and kept asking: