Justice must be rendered to Lichonin; he did everything to create for Liubka a quiet and secure existence. Since he knew that they would have to leave their mansard anyway—this bird house, rearing above the whole city—leave it not so much on account of its inconvenience and lack of space as on account of the old woman Alexandra, who with every day became more ferocious, captious and scolding—he resolved to rent a little bit of a flat, consisting of two rooms and a kitchen, on the Borschhagovka, at the edge of the town. He came upon an inexpensive one, for nine roubles a month, without fuel. True, Lichonin had to run very far from there to his pupils, but he relied firmly upon his endurance and health, and would often say:
“My legs are my own. I don’t have to be sparing of them.”
And, truly, he was a great master at walking. Once, for the sake of a joke, having put a pedometer in his vest pocket, he towards evening counted up twenty versts; which, taking into consideration the unusual length of his legs, equalled some twenty-five versts.[Footnote: A verst is equal to two-thirds of a mile.— Trans] And he did have to run about quite a bit, because the fuss about Liubka’s passport and the acquisition of household furnishings of a sort had eaten up all his accidental winnings at cards. He did try to take up playing again, on a small scale at first, but was soon convinced that his star at cards had now entered upon a run of fatal ill luck.
By now, of course, the real character of his relations with Liubka was a mystery to none of his comrades; but he still continued in their presence to act out the comedy of friendly and brotherly relations with the girl. For some reason he could not, or did not want to, realize that it would have been far wiser and more advantageous for him not to lie, not to be false, and not to pretend. Or, perhaps, although he did know this, he still could not change the established tone. As for the intimate relations, he inevitably played a secondary, passive role. The initiative, in the form of tenderness, caressing, always had to come from Liubka (she had remained Liubka, after all, and Lichonin had somehow entirely forgotten that he himself had read her real name—Irene— in the passport).
She, who had so recently given her body up impassively—or, on the contrary, with an imitation of burning passion—to tens of people in a day, to hundreds in a month, had become attached to Lichonin with all her feminine being, loving and jealous; had grown attached to him with body, feeling, thoughts. The prince was funny and entertaining to her, and the expansive Soloviev interestingly amusing; toward the crushing authoritativeness of Simanovsky she felt a supernatural terror; but Lichonin was for her at the same time a sovereign, and a divinity; and, which is the most horrible of all, her property and bodily joy.