In the evening Lichonin strolled with Liubka through Prince Park, listened to the music playing in the aristocratic club, and returned home early. He escorted Liubka to the door of her room and at once took leave of her; kissing her, however, tenderly on the brow, like a father. But after ten minutes, when he was already lying in bed undressed and reading the statutes of state, Liubka, having scratched on his door like a cat, suddenly entered his room.
“Darling, sweetie! Excuse me for troubling you. Haven’t you a needle and thread? But don’t get angry at me; I’ll go away at once.”
“Liuba! I beg of you to go away not at once, but this second. Finally, I demand it!”
“My dearie, my pretty,” Liubka began to intone laughably and piteously, “well, what are you yelling at me for all the time?” and, in a moment, having blown upon the candle, she nestled up to him in the darkness, laughing and crying.
“No, Liuba, this must not be. It’s impossible to go on like this,” Lichonin was saying ten minutes later, standing at the door, wrapped up in his blanket, like a Spanish hidalgo in a cape. “To-morrow at the latest I’ll rent a room for you in another house. And, in general, don’t let this occur! God be with you, and good night! Still, you must give me your word of honour that our relations will be merely friendly.”
“I give it, dearie, I give it, I give it, I give it!” she began to prattle, smiling; and quickly smacked him first on the lips and then on his hand.
The last action was altogether instinctive; and, perhaps, unexpected even to Liubka herself. Never yet in her life had she kissed any man’s hand, save a priest’s. Perhaps she wanted to express through this her gratitude to Lichonin, and a prostration before him as before a higher being.
Among Russian intelligents, as has already been noted by many, there is a decent quantity of wonderful people; true children of the Russian land and culture, who would be able heroically, without the quivering of a single muscle, to look straight in the face of death; who are capable for the sake of an idea of bearing unconceivable privations and sufferings, equal to torture; but then, these people are lost before the haughtiness of a doorman; shrink from the yelling of a laundress; while into a police station they enter in an insufferable and timid distress. And precisely such a one was Lichonin. On the following day (yesterday it had been impossible on account of a holiday and the lateness), having gotten up very early and recollecting that to-day he had to take care of Liubka’s passport, he felt just as bad as when in former times, as a high-school boy, he went to an examination, knowing that he would surely fall through. His head ached, while his arms and legs somehow seemed another’s; in addition, a drizzling and seemingly dirty rain had been falling on the street since morning. “Always, now, when there’s some unpleasantness in store, there is inevitably a rain falling,” reflected Lichonin, dressing slowly.