Therefore, even with quiet living, there was in the face, in the conversation, and in the entire manner of Liubka something peculiar, specific to the casual eye; perhaps even entirely imperceptible, but for the business scent as plain and as irrefutable as the day.
But the chance, brief, sincere love had given her the strength to oppose the inevitability of a second fall. In her heroic courage she even went so far as putting in a few notices in the newspapers, that she was seeking a place with “all found.” However, she had no recommendation of any sort. In addition, she had to do exclusively with women when it came to the hiring; and they also, with some sort of an inner, infallible instinct, surmised in her their ancient foe—the seductress of their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons.
There was neither sense nor use in. going home. Her native Vassilkovsky district is distant only fifteen versts from the state capital; and the rumour that she had entered that sort of an establishment had long since penetrated, by means of her fellow-villagers, into the village. This was written of in letters, and transmitted verbally, by those village neighbours who had seen her both on the street and at Anna Markovna’s place itself—porters and bell-hops of hotels, waiters at small restaurants, cabbies, small contractors. She knew what odour this fame would give off if she were to return to her native haunts. It were better to hang one’s self than to endure this.
She was as uneconomical and impractical in money matters as a five-year-old child, and in a short while was left without a kopeck; while to go back to the brothel was fearful and shameful. But the temptations of street prostitution turned up of themselves, and at every step begged to be seized. In the evenings, on the main street, old hardened street prostitutes at once unerringly guessed her former profession. Ever and anon one of them, having come alongside of her, would begin in a sweet, ingratiating voice:
“How is it, young lady, that you’re walking alone? Let’s be mates. Let’s walk together. That’s always more convenient. Whenever men want to pass the time pleasantly with girls, they always love to start a party of four.”
And right here the experienced, tried recruiting agent, at first casually, but after that warmly, with all her heart, would begin to praise up all the conveniences of living at your own landlady’s—the tasty food, full freedom of going out, the possibility of always concealing from the landlady of your rooms the surplus over the agreed pay. Here also much of the malicious and the offensive was said, by the way, against the women of the private houses, who were called “government hides,” “government stuff,” “genteel maidens” and “institutes.” Liubka knew the value of these sneers, because the dwellers in brothels also bear themselves with the greatest contempt toward street prostitutes, calling them “bimmies” and “venereals.”