But Liubka suddenly awoke, opened her eyes, blinked them for a moment and opened them again. She gave a long, long stretch, and with a kindly, not yet fully reasoning smile, encircled Lichonin’s neck with her warm, strong arm.
“Sweetie! Darling!” caressingly uttered the woman in a crooning voice, somewhat hoarse from sleep. “Why, I was waiting for you and waiting, and even became angry. And after that I fell asleep and all night long saw you in my sleep. Come to me, my baby, my lil’ precious!” She drew him to her, breast against breast.
Lichonin almost did not resist; he was all atremble, as from a chill, and meaninglessly repeating in a galloping whisper with chattering teeth:
“No, now, Liuba, don’t ... Really, don’t do that, Liuba ... Ah, let’s drop this, Liuba ... Don’t torture me. I won’t vouch for myself ... Let me alone, now, Liuba, for God’s sake! ...”
“My-y little silly!” she exclaimed in a laughing, joyous voice. “Come to me, my joy!”—and, overcoming the last, altogether insignificant opposition, she pressed his mouth to hers and kissed him hard and warmly—kissed him sincerely, perhaps for the first and last time in her life.
“Oh, you scoundrel! What am I doing?” declaimed some honest, prudent, and false body in Lichonin.
“Well, now? Are you eased up a bit?” asked Liubka kindly, kissing Lichonin’s lips for the last time. “Oh, you, my little student! ...”
With pain at soul, with malice and repulsion toward himself and Liubka, and, it would seem, toward all the world, Lichonin without undressing flung himself upon the wooden, lopsided, sagging divan and even gnashed his teeth from the smarting shame. Sleep would not come to him, while his thoughts revolved around this fool action—as he himself called the carrying off of Liubka,—in which an atrocious vaudeville had been so disgustingly intertwined with a deep drama. “It’s all one,” he stubbornly repeated to himself. “Once I have given my promise, I’ll see the business through to the end. And, of course, that which has occurred just now will never, never be repeated! My God, who hasn’t fallen, giving in to a momentary laxity of the nerves? Some philosopher or other has expressed a deep, remarkable truth, when he affirmed that the value of the human soul may be known by the depth of its fall and the height of its flight. But still, the devil take the whole of this idiotical day and that equivocal reasoner—the reporter Platonov, and his own—Lichonin’s—absurd outburst of chivalry! Just as though, in reality, this had not taken place in real life, but in Chernishevski’s novel, What’s to be done? And how, devil take it, with what eyes will I look upon her tomorrow?”
His head was on fire; his eyelids were smarting, his lips dry. He was nervously smoking a cigarette and frequently got up from the divan to take the decanter of water off the table, and avidly, straight from its mouth, drink several big draughts. Then, by some accidental effort of the will, he succeeded in tearing his thoughts away from the past night, and at once a heavy sleep, without any visions and images, enveloped him as though in black cotton.