Lichonin recalled vividly, that to-day at dawn he had spoken the very same phrase, like an actor; and even blinked his eyes from shame.
“That’s enough of tom-foolery. Let’s go, gentlemen. Dress yourself, Liuba.”
It was not far to The Sparrows restaurant; some two hundred steps. On the way Liuba, unnoticed, took Lichonin by the sleeve and pulled him toward her. In this wise they lagged a few steps behind Soloviev and Nijeradze, who were walking ahead.
“Then you mean it seriously, my darling Vassil Vassilich?” she asked, looking up at him with her kindly, dark eyes. “You’re not playing a joke on me?”
“What jokes can there be here, Liubochka! I’d be the lowest of men if I permitted myself such jokes. I repeat, that to you I am more than a friend, brother, comrade. And let’s not talk about it any more. And that which happened to-day toward morning, that, you may be sure, won’t be repeated. And I’ll rent a separate room for you this very day.”
Liubka sighed. Not that she was offended by the chaste resolution of Lichonin, in which, to tell the truth, she believed but badly; but somehow her dark, narrow mind could not even theoretically picture any other attitude of a man toward a woman than the sensual. Besides that, she experienced the ancient discontent of a preferred or rejected female; a feeling strongly intrenched in the house of Anna Markovna, in the form of boastful rivalry, but now dulled; yet still angry and sincere. And for some reason she believed Lichonin but illy, unconsciously seizing much of the assumed, not altogether sincere, in his words. Soloviev, now— although he did speak incomprehensively, like the rest of the majority of the students known to her, when they joked among themselves or with the young ladies in the general room (by themselves, in the room, all the men without an exception—all as one—said and did one and the same thing)—she would rather believe Soloviev, far more readily and willingly. A certain simplicity shone in his merry, sparkling gray eyes, placed widely apart.
At the sparrows Lichonin was esteemed for his sedateness, kind disposition, and accuracy in money matters. Because of that he was at once assigned a little private room—an honour of which but very few students could boast. The gas burned all day in this room, because light penetrated only through the narrow bottom of a window, cut short by the ceiling. Only the boots, shoes, umbrellas and canes of the people walking by on the sidewalk could be seen through this window.
They had to let still another student, Simanovsky (whom they ran against near the coat room), join the party. “What does he mean, by leading me around as though for a show?” thought Liubka: “it looks like he’s showing off before them.” And, snatching a free moment, she whispered to Lichonin, who had bent over her: