“Ah, Mr. Shatzky! You can always talk a person over! But just imagine, I’m sorry for her. Such a nice girl ...”
Horizon pondered for a moment. He was seeking an appropriate citation and suddenly let out:
“‘Give the falling a shove!’ [Footnote: Horizon is quoting a Nietzscheism of Gorky’s.—Trans.] And I’m convinced, Madam Shaibes, that there’s no demand of any sort for her.”
Isaiah Savvich, a little, sickly, touchy old man, but in moments of need very determined, supported Horizon:
“And that’s very simple. There is really no demand of any sort for her. Think it over for yourself, Annechka; her outfit costs fifty roubles, Mr. Shatzky will receive twenty-five roubles, fifty roubles will be left for you and me. And, glory be to God, we have done with her! At least, she won’t be compromising our establishment.”
In such a way Sonka the Rudder, avoiding a rouble establishment, was transferred into a half-rouble one, where all kinds of riff-raff made sport of the girls at their own sweet will, whole nights through. There tremendous health and great nervous force were requisite. Sonka once began shivering from terror, in the night, when Thekla, a mountain of a woman of some two hundred pounds, jumped out into the yard to fulfill a need of nature, and cried out to the housekeeper who was passing by her:
“Housekeeper, dear! Listen—the thirty-sixth man! ... Don’t forget!”
Fortunately, Sonka was not disturbed much; even in this establishment she was too homely. No one paid any attention to her splendid eyes, and they took her only in those instances when there was no other at hand. The pharmacist sought her out and came every evening to her. But cowardice, or a special Hebrew fastidiousness, or, perhaps, even physical aversion, would not permit him to take the girl and carry her away with him from the house. He would sit whole nights through near her, and, as of yore, patiently waited until she would return from a chance guest; created scenes of jealousy for her and yet loved her still, and, sticking in the daytime behind the counter in his drug store and rolling some stinking pills or other, ceaselessly thought of her and yearned.
Immediately at the entrance to a suburban cabaret an artificial flower bed shone with vari-colored lights, with electric bulbs instead of flowers; and just such another fiery alley of wide, half-round arches, narrowing toward the end, led away from it into the depths of the garden. Further on was a broad, small square, strewn with yellow sand; to the left an open stage, a theatre, and a shooting gallery; straight ahead a stand for the military band (in the form of a seashell) and little booths with flowers and beer; to the right the long terrace of the restaurant. Electric globes from their high masts illuminated the small square with a pale, dead-white brightness. Against their frosted glass, with wire nets stretched over them, beat clouds of night moths, whose shadows—confused and large—hovered below, on the ground. Hungry women, too lightly, dressily, and fancifully attired, preserving on their faces an expression of care-free merriment or haughty, offended unapproachability, strolled back and forth in pairs, with a walk already tired and dragging.