A Reckless Character eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 235 pages of information about A Reckless Character.
Everything about her displeased him; her painted face, and her churned-up curls, and her hoarsely-mellifluous voice, her shrill laugh, her way of rolling up her eyes, her too decollete bodice—­and those plump, shiny fingers with a multitude of rings!...  Slinking off into a corner, he now swiftly ran his eyes over the faces of all the guests, as though he did not even distinguish one from another; again he stared persistently at his own feet.  But when, at last, an artist who had just come to town, with a drink-sodden countenance, extremely long hair, and a bit of glass under his puckered brow, seated himself at the piano, and bringing down his hands on the keys and his feet on the pedals, with a flourish, began to bang out a fantasia by Liszt on a Wagnerian theme, Aratoff could stand it no longer, and slipped away, bearing in his soul a confused and oppressive impression, athwart which, nevertheless, there pierced something which he did not understand, but which was significant and even agitating.

III

Kupfer came on the following day to dinner; but he did not enlarge upon the preceding evening, he did not even reproach Aratoff for his hasty flight, and merely expressed regret that he had not waited for supper, at which champagne had been served! (of Nizhegorod[54] fabrication, we may remark in parenthesis).

Kupfer probably understood that he had made a mistake in trying to rouse his friend, and that Aratoff was a man who positively was not adapted to that sort of society and manner of life.  On his side, Aratoff also did not allude to the Princess or to the night before.  Platonida Ivanovna did not know whether to rejoice at the failure of this first attempt or to regret it.  She decided, at last, that Yasha’s health might suffer from such expeditions, and regained her complacency.  Kupfer went away directly after dinner, and did not show himself again for a whole week.  And that not because he was sulking at Aratoff for the failure of his introduction,—­the good-natured fellow was incapable of such a thing,—­but he had, evidently, found some occupation which engrossed all his time, all his thoughts;—­for thereafter he rarely came to the Aratoffs’, wore an abstracted aspect, and soon vanished....  Aratoff continued to live on as before; but some hitch, if we may so express ourselves, had secured lodgment in his soul.  He still recalled something or other, without himself being quite aware what it was precisely,—­and that “something” referred to the evening which he had spent at the Princess’s house.  Nevertheless, he had not the slightest desire to return to it; and society, a section of which he had inspected in her house, repelled him more than ever.  Thus passed six weeks.

And lo! one morning, Kupfer again presented himself to him, this time with a somewhat embarrassed visage.

“I know,” he began, with a forced laugh, “that thy visit that evening was not to thy taste; but I hope that thou wilt consent to my proposal nevertheless ... and wilt not refuse my request.”

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A Reckless Character from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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