Silence seized Tamara; silence seized Manka the Scandaliste; and suddenly Jennka, the most untamable of all the girls, ran up to the artiste, fell down on her knees, and began to sob at her feet.
And Rovinskaya, touched herself, put her arms around her head and said:
“My sister, let me kiss you!”
Jennka whispered something into her ear.
“Why, that’s a silly trifle,” said Rovinskaya. “A few months of treatment and it will all go away.”
“No, no, no ... I want to make all of them diseased. Let them all rot and croak.”
“Ah, my dear,” said Rovinskaya, “I would not do that in your place.”
And now Jennka, the proud Jennka began kissing the knees and hands of the artiste and was saying:
“Then why have people wronged me so? ... Why have they wronged me so? Why? Why? Why?”
Such is the might of genius!
The only might which takes into its beautiful hands not the abject reason, but the warm soul of man! The self-respecting Jennka was hiding her face in Rovinskaya’s dress; Little White Manka was sitting meekly on a chair, her face covered with a handkerchief; Tamara, with elbow propped on her knee and head bowed on the palm of her hand, was intently looking down, while Simeon the porter, who had been looking in against any emergency, only opened his eyes wide in amazement.
Rovinskaya was quietly whispering into Jennka’s very ear:
“Never despair. Sometimes things fall out so badly that there’s nothing for it but to hang one’s self—but, just look, to-morrow life has changed abruptly. My dear, my sister, I am now a world celebrity. But if you only knew what seas of humiliation and vileness I have had to wade through! Be well, then, my dear, and believe in your star.”
She bent down to Jennka and kissed her on the forehead. And never afterwards could Volodya Chaplinsky, who had been watching this scene with a painful tension, forget those warm and beautiful rays, which at this moment kindled in the green, long, Egyptian eyes of the artiste.
The party departed gloomily, but Ryazanov lingered behind for a minute.
He walked up to Jennka, respectfully and gently kissed her hand, and said:
“If possible, forgive our prank ... This, of course, will not be repeated. But if you ever have need of me, I am always at your service. Here is my visiting card. Don’t stick it out on your bureau; but remember, that from this evening on I am your friend.”
And, having kissed Jennka’s hand once more, he was the last to go down the stairs.
On Thursday, since very morning, a ceaseless, fine drizzle had begun to fall, and so the leaves of the chestnuts, acacias, and poplars had at once turned green. And, suddenly, it became somehow dreamily quiet and protractedly tedious. Pensive and monotonous.