Lichonin found himself in that simultaneously weakened and elevated mood which is so familiar to every man who has happened to be thoroughly sleepless for a long time. It was as though he had gone out of the limitations of everyday human life, and this life had become to him distant and of indifference; but at the same time his thoughts and emotions obtained a certain peaceful clarity and apathetic distinctness, and there was a tedious and languishing allurement in this crystal Nirvanah.
He stood near his room, leaning against the wall, and seemed to see, feel, and hear how near him and below him were sleeping several score of people; sleeping with the last, fast morning sleep, with open mouths, with measured deep breathing, with a wilted pallor on their faces, glistening from sleep; and through his head flashed the thought, remote yet familiar since childhood, of how horrible sleeping people are—far more horrible than dead people. Then he remembered about Liubka. His subterranean, submerged, mysterious “I” rapidly, rapidly whispered that he ought to drop into the room, and see if the girl were all right, as well as make certain dispositions about tea in the morning; but he made believe to himself that he was not at all even thinking of this, and walked out into the street.
He walked, looking closely at everything that met his eyes, with an idle and exact curiosity new to him; and every feature was drawn for him in relief to such a degree that it seemed to him as though he were feeling it with his fingers... There a peasant woman passed by. Over her shoulder is a yoke staff, while at each end of the yoke is a large pail of milk; her face is not young, with a net of fine wrinkles on the temples and with two deep furrows from the nostrils to the corners of the mouth; but her cheeks are rosy, and, probably, hard to the touch, while her hazel eyes radiate a sprightly peasant smile. From the movement of the heavy yoke and from the smooth walk her hips sway rhythmically now to the left, now to the right, and in their wave-like movements there is a coarse, sensual beauty.
“A mischievous dame, and she’s lived through a checkered life,” reflected Lichonin. And suddenly, unexpectedly to himself, he had a feeling for, and irresistibly desired, this woman, altogether unknown to him, homely and not young; in all probability dirty and vulgar, but still resembling, as it seemed to him, a large Antonovka [Footnote: Somewhat like a Spitzbergen, but a trifle rounder.—Trans.] apple which had fallen to the ground-somewhat bored by a worm, and which had lain just a wee bit too long, but which has still preserved its bright colour and its fragrant, winey aroma.