Aratoff made no reply and returned to his study. Platonida Ivanovna gazed after him, shook her head and again donned her spectacles, again set to work on her scarf ... but more than once she fell into thought and dropped her knitting-needles on her knee.
And Aratoff until nightfall kept again and again beginning, with the same vexation, the same ire as before, to think about “the gipsy,” the appointed tryst, to which he certainly would not go! During the night also she worried him. He kept constantly seeing her eyes, now narrowed, now widely opened, with their importunate gaze riveted directly on him, and those impassive features with their imperious expression.
On the following morning he again kept expecting Kupfer, for some reason or other; he came near writing him a letter ... however, he did nothing ... but spent most of his time pacing to and fro in his study. Not for one instant did he even admit to himself the thought that he would go to that stupid “rendezvous” ... and at half-past four, after having swallowed his dinner in haste, he suddenly donned his overcoat and pulling his cap down on his brows, he stole out of the house without letting his aunt see him and wended his way to the Tver boulevard.
Aratoff found few pedestrians on the boulevard. The weather was raw and quite cold. He strove not to think of what he was doing. He forced himself to turn his attention to all the objects he came across and pretended to assure himself that he had come out to walk precisely like the other people.... The letter of the day before was in his side-pocket, and he was uninterruptedly conscious of its presence. He walked the length of the boulevard a couple of times, darting keen glances at every feminine form which approached him, and his heart thumped, thumped violently.... He began to feel tired, and sat down on a bench. And suddenly the idea occurred to him: “Come now, what if that letter was not written by her but by some one else, by some other woman?” In point of fact, that should have made no difference to him ... and yet he was forced to admit to himself that he did not wish this. “It would be very stupid,” he thought, “still more stupid than that!” A nervous restlessness began to take possession of him; he began to feel chilly, not outwardly but inwardly. Several times he drew out his watch from his waistcoat pocket, glanced at the face, put it back again,—and every time forgot how many minutes were lacking to five o’clock. It seemed to him as though every one who passed him stared at him in a peculiar manner, surveying him with a certain sneering surprise and curiosity. A wretched little dog ran up, sniffed at his legs and began to wag its tail. He flourished his arms angrily at it. He was most annoyed of all by a small boy from a factory in a bed-ticking jacket, who seated himself on the bench and first whistled, then scratched his head, dangling his legs, encased in huge, broken boots, the while, and staring at him from time to time. “His employer is certainly expecting him,” thought Aratoff, “and here he is, the lazy dog, wasting his time idling about....”