“I do not feel well,” repeated Aratoff, freeing himself from Kupfer’s hands and going his way. Only at that moment did it become clear to him that he had gone to Kupfer with the sole object of talking about Clara....
“About foolish, about unhappy Clara"....
But on reaching home he speedily recovered his composure to a certain extent.
The circumstances which had attended Clara’s death at first exerted a shattering impression upon him ... but later on that acting “with the poison inside her,” as Kupfer had expressed it, seemed to him a monstrous phrase, a piece of bravado, and he tried not to think of it, fearing to arouse within himself a feeling akin to aversion. But at dinner, as he sat opposite Platosha, he suddenly remembered her nocturnal apparition, recalled that bob-tailed wrapper, that cap with the tall ribbon (and why should there be a ribbon on a night-cap?), the whole of that ridiculous figure, at which all his visions had dispersed into dust, as though at the whistle of the machinist in a fantastic ballet! He even made Platosha repeat the tale of how she had heard him shout, had taken fright, had leaped out of bed, had not been able at once to find either her own door or his, and so forth. In the evening he played cards with her and went off to his own room in a somewhat sad but fairly tranquil state of mind.
Aratoff did not think about the coming night, and did not fear it; he was convinced that he should pass it in the best possible manner. The thought of Clara awoke in him from time to time; but he immediately remembered that she had killed herself in a “spectacular” manner, and turned away. That “outrageous” act prevented other memories from rising in him. Giving a cursory glance at the stereoscope it seemed to him that she was looking to one side because she felt ashamed. Directly over the stereoscope on the wall, hung the portrait of his mother. Aratoff removed it from its nail, kissed it, and carefully put it away in a drawer. Why did he do this? Because that portrait must not remain in the vicinity of that woman ... or for some other reason—Aratoff did not quite know. But his mother’s portrait evoked in him memories of his father ... of that father whom he had seen dying in that same room, on that very bed. “What dost thou think about all this, father?” he mentally addressed him. “Thou didst understand all this; thou didst also believe in Schiller’s world of spirits.—Give me counsel!”
“My father has given me counsel to drop all these follies,” said Aratoff aloud, and took up a book. But he was not able to read long, and feeling a certain heaviness all through his body, he went to bed earlier than usual, in the firm conviction that he should fall asleep immediately.
And so it came about ... but his hopes for a peaceful night were not realised.
Before the clock struck midnight he had a remarkable, a menacing dream.