“I don’t al-low people to play with me! I don’t al-low it.”
From the boulevard they went back to the pavilion and walked along the beach, and looked for a long time at the phosphorescence on the water. Von Koren began telling them why it looked phosphorescent.
“It’s time I went to my vint. . . . They will be waiting for me,” said Laevsky. “Good-bye, my friends.”
“I’ll come with you; wait a minute,” said Nadyezhda Fyodorovna, and she took his arm.
They said good-bye to the company and went away. Kirilin took leave too, and saying that he was going the same way, went along beside them.
“What will be, will be,” thought Nadyezhda Fyodorovna. “So be it. . . .”
And it seemed to her that all the evil memories in her head had taken shape and were walking beside her in the darkness, breathing heavily, while she, like a fly that had fallen into the inkpot, was crawling painfully along the pavement and smirching Laevsky’s side and arm with blackness.
If Kirilin should do anything horrid, she thought, not he but she would be to blame for it. There was a time when no man would have talked to her as Kirilin had done, and she had torn up her security like a thread and destroyed it irrevocably—who was to blame for it? Intoxicated by her passions she had smiled at a complete stranger, probably just because he was tall and a fine figure. After two meetings she was weary of him, had thrown him over, and did not that, she thought now, give him the right to treat her as he chose?
“Here I’ll say good-bye to you, darling,” said Laevsky. “Ilya Mihalitch will see you home.”
He nodded to Kirilin, and, quickly crossing the boulevard, walked along the street to Sheshkovsky’s, where there were lights in the windows, and then they heard the gate bang as he went in.
“Allow me to have an explanation with you,” said Kirilin. “I’m not a boy, not some Atchkasov or Latchkasov, Zatchkasov. . . . I demand serious attention.”
Nadyezhda Fyodorovna’s heart began beating violently. She made no reply.
“The abrupt change in your behaviour to me I put down at first to coquetry,” Kirilin went on; “now I see that you don’t know how to behave with gentlemanly people. You simply wanted to play with me, as you are playing with that wretched Armenian boy; but I’m a gentleman and I insist on being treated like a gentleman. And so I am at your service. . . .”
“I’m miserable,” said Nadyezhda Fyodorovna beginning to cry, and to hide her tears she turned away.
“I’m miserable too,” said Kirilin, “but what of that?”
Kirilin was silent for a space, then he said distinctly and emphatically:
“I repeat, madam, that if you do not give me an interview this evening, I’ll make a scandal this very evening.”
“Let me off this evening,” said Nadyezhda Fyodorovna, and she did not recognise her own voice, it was so weak and pitiful.