Platosha rose to her feet, grunting, and, making no further opposition, wended her way to her chamber. Yasha had frightened her.—“I have not a head on my shoulders,” she remarked to the cook, who was helping her to pack Yasha’s things,—“not a head—but a bee-hive ... and what bees are buzzing there I do not know! He is going away to Kazan, my mother, to Ka-za-an!”
The cook, who had noticed their yard-porter talking for a long time to the policeman about something, wanted to report this circumstance to her mistress, but she did not dare, and merely thought to herself: “To Kazan? If only it isn’t some place further away!”—And Platonida Ivanovna was so distracted that she did not even utter her customary prayer.—In such a catastrophe as this even the Lord God could be of no assistance!
That same day Aratoff set off for Kazan.
No sooner had he arrived in that town and engaged a room at the hotel, than he dashed off in search of the widow Milovidoff’s house. During the whole course of his journey he had been in a sort of stupor, which, nevertheless, did not in the least prevent his taking all proper measures,—transferring himself at Nizhni Novgorod from the railway to the steamer, eating at the stations, and so forth. As before, he was convinced that everything would be cleared up there, and accordingly he banished from his thoughts all memories and speculations, contenting himself with one thing,—the mental preparation of the speech in which he was to set forth to Clara Militch’s family the real reason of his trip.—And now, at last, he had attained to the goal of his yearning, and ordered the servant to announce him. He was admitted—with surprise and alarm—but he was admitted.
The widow Milovidoff’s house proved to be in fact just as Kupfer had described it; and the widow herself really did resemble one of Ostrovsky’s women of the merchant class, although she was of official rank; her husband had been a Collegiate Assessor. Not without some difficulty did Aratoff, after having preliminarily excused himself for his boldness, and the strangeness of his visit, make the speech which he had prepared, to the effect that he wished to collect all the necessary information concerning the gifted actress who had perished at such an early age; that he was actuated not by idle curiosity, but by a profound sympathy for her talent, of which he was a worshipper (he said exactly that—“a worshipper"); that, in conclusion, it would be a sin to leave the public in ignorance of the loss it had sustained,—and why its hopes had not been realized!
Madame Milovidoff did not interrupt Aratoff; it is hardly probable that she understood very clearly what this strange visitor was saying to her, and she merely swelled a little with pride, and opened her eyes widely at him on perceiving that he had a peaceable aspect, and was decently clad, and was not some sort of swindler ... and was not asking for any money.