“Listen!” he said sharply and angrily. “Why do you come here? Is it possible—is it possible you don’t understand how horrible it is? Your medical books tell you that every one of these women dies prematurely of consumption or something; art tells you that morally they are dead even earlier. Every one of them dies because she has in her time to entertain five hundred men on an average, let us say. Each one of them is killed by five hundred men. You are among those five hundred! If each of you in the course of your lives visits this place or others like it two hundred and fifty times, it follows that one woman is killed for every two of you! Can’t you understand that? Isn’t it horrible to murder, two of you, three of you, five of you, a foolish, hungry woman! Ah! isn’t it awful, my God!”
“I knew it would end like that,” the artist said frowning. “We ought not to have gone with this fool and ass! You imagine you have grand notions in your head now, ideas, don’t you? No, it’s the devil knows what, but not ideas. You are looking at me now with hatred and repulsion, but I tell you it’s better you should set up twenty more houses like those than look like that. There’s more vice in your expression than in the whole street! Come along, Volodya, let him go to the devil! He’s a fool and an ass, and that’s all....”
“We human beings do murder each other,” said the medical student. “It’s immoral, of course, but philosophizing doesn’t help it. Good-by!”
At Trubnoy Square the friends said good-by and parted. When he was left alone, Vassilyev strode rapidly along the boulevard. He felt frightened of the darkness, of the snow which was falling in heavy flakes on the ground, and seemed as though it would cover up the whole world; he felt frightened of the street lamps shining with pale light through the clouds of snow. His soul was possessed by an unaccountable, faint-hearted terror. Passers-by came towards him from time to time, but he timidly moved to one side; it seemed to him that women, none but women, were coming from all sides and staring at him....
“It’s beginning,” he thought, “I am going to have a breakdown.”