The audience set to applauding and recalling her in desperate fashion.... One theological student,—a Little Russian,—among others, bellowed so loudly: “Muiluitch! Muiluitch!" that his neighbour politely and sympathetically begged him to “spare himself, as a future proto-deacon!" But Aratoff immediately rose and betook himself to the entrance. Kupfer overtook him....
“Good gracious, whither art thou going?” he yelled:—“I’ll introduce thee to Clara if thou wishest—shall I?”
“No, thanks,” hastily replied Aratoff, and set off homeward almost at a run.
Strange emotions, which were not clear even to himself, agitated him. In reality, Clara’s recitation had not altogether pleased him either ... altogether he could not tell precisely why. It had troubled him, that recitation, it had seemed to him harsh, unmelodious.... Somehow it seemed to have broken something within him, to have exerted some sort of violence. And those importunate, persistent, almost insolent glances—what had caused them? What did they signify?
Aratoff’s modesty did permit him even a momentary thought that he might have pleased that strange young girl, that he might have inspired her with a sentiment akin to love, to passion!... And he had imagined to himself quite otherwise that as yet unknown woman, that young girl, to whom he would surrender himself wholly, and who would love him, become his bride, his wife.... He rarely dreamed of this: he was chaste both in body and soul;—but the pure image which rose up in his imagination at such times was evoked under another form,—the form of his dead mother, whom he barely remembered, though he cherished her portrait like a sacred treasure. That portrait had been painted in water-colours, in a rather inartistic manner, by a friendly neighbour, but the likeness was striking, as every one averred. The woman, the young girl, whom as yet he did not so much as venture to expect, must possess just such a tender profile, just such kind, bright eyes, just such silky hair, just such a smile, just such a clear understanding....
But this was a black-visaged, swarthy creature, with coarse hair, and a moustache on her lip; she must certainly be bad-tempered, giddy.... “A gipsy” (Aratoff could not devise a worse expression)—what was she to him?
And in the meantime, Aratoff was unable to banish from his mind that black-visaged gipsy, whose singing and recitation and even whose personal appearance were disagreeable to him. He was perplexed, he was angry with himself. Not long before this he had read Walter Scott’s romance “Saint Ronan’s Well” (there was a complete edition of Walter Scott’s works in the library of his father, who revered the English romance-writer as a serious, almost a learned author). The heroine of that romance is named Clara Mowbray. A poet of the ’40’s, Krasoff, wrote a poem about her, which wound up with the words: