Razumov began to feel angry, very much against his wish.
“This is very mysterious,” he muttered through his teeth.
“You don’t object to being understood, to being guided?” queried the great feminist. Razumov exploded in a fierce whisper.
“In what sense? Be pleased to understand that I am a serious person. Who do you take me for?”
They looked at each other very closely. Razumov’s temper was cooled by the impenetrable earnestness of the blue glasses meeting his stare. Peter Ivanovitch turned the handle at last.
“You shall know directly,” he said, pushing the door open.
A low-pitched grating voice was heard within the room.
In the doorway, his black-coated bulk blocking the view, Peter Ivanovitch boomed in a hearty tone with something boastful in it.
“Yes. Here I am!”
He glanced over his shoulder at Razumov, who waited for him to move on.
“And I am bringing you a proved conspirator—a real one this time. Un vrai celui la.”
This pause in the doorway gave the “proved conspirator” time to make sure that his face did not betray his angry curiosity and his mental disgust.
These sentiments stand confessed in Mr. Razumov’s memorandum of his first interview with Madame de S—. The very words I use in my narrative are written where their sincerity cannot be suspected. The record, which could not have been meant for anyone’s eyes but his own, was not, I think, the outcome of that strange impulse of indiscretion common to men who lead secret lives, and accounting for the invariable existence of “compromising documents” in all the plots and conspiracies of history. Mr. Razumov looked at it, I suppose, as a man looks at himself in a mirror, with wonder, perhaps with anguish, with anger or despair. Yes, as a threatened man may look fearfully at his own face in the glass, formulating to himself reassuring excuses for his appearance marked by the taint of some insidious hereditary disease.
The Egeria of the “Russian Mazzini” produced, at first view, a strong effect by the death-like immobility of an obviously painted face. The eyes appeared extraordinarily brilliant. The figure, in a close-fitting dress, admirably made, but by no means fresh, had an elegant stiffness. The rasping voice inviting him to sit down; the rigidity of the upright attitude with one arm extended along the back of the sofa, the white gleam of the big eyeballs setting off the black, fathomless stare of the enlarged pupils, impressed Razumov more than anything he had seen since his hasty and secret departure from St. Petersburg. A witch in Parisian clothes, he thought. A portent! He actually hesitated in his advance, and did not even comprehend, at first, what the rasping voice was saying.
“Sit down. Draw your chair nearer me. There—”