“Pass on, pass on,” said he to the cadets sternly.
The cadets entered, blinking from the bright light. Petrov, who had been drinking to get up courage, swayed and was pale. They sat down beneath the picture of the Feast of the Russian Noblemen, and immediately two of the young ladies—Verka and Tamara—joined them on both sides.
“Treat me to a smoke, you beautiful little brunet!” Verka turned to Petrov; and as though by accident put against his leg her strong, warm thigh, closely drawn over with white tights. “What an agreeable little fellow you are!”
“But where’s Jennie?” Gladishev asked of Tamara. “Is she busy with anybody?”
Tamara looked him in the eyes intently—looked so fixedly, that the boy even began to feel uncomfortable, and turned away.
“No. Why should she be busy? Only the whole day to-day her head ached; she was walking through the corridor, and at that time the housekeeper opened the door quickly and accidentally struck her in the forehead—and so her head started in to ache. The poor thing, she’s lying the whole day with a cold pack. But why? Or can’t you hold out? Wait a while, she’ll come out in five minutes. You’ll remain very much satisfied with her.”
Verka pestered Petrov:
“Sweetie, dearie, what a tootsie-wootsicums you are! I adore such pale brunets; they are jealous and very fiery in love.”
And suddenly she started singing in a low voice:
“He’s kind of
My light, my own,
Won’t sell me out, and won’t deceive.
He suffers madly,
Pants and coat gladly
All for a woman he will give.”
“How do they call you, ducky dear?”
“George,” answered Petrov in a hoarse, cadet’s bass.
“Jorjik Jorochka! Ah, how very nice!”
She suddenly drew near to his ear and whispered with a cunning face:
“Jorochka, come to me.”
Petrov was abashed and forlornly let out in a bass:
“I don’t know ... It all depends on what the comrade says, now ...”
Verka burst into loud laughter:
“There’s a case for you! Say, what an infant it is! Such as you, Jorochka, in a little village would long since have been married; but he says: ‘It all depends on the comrade!’ You ought to ask a nurse or a wet nurse yet! Tamara, my angel, just imagine: I’m calling him to go sleeping, but he says: ’It all depends on the comrade.’ What about you, mister friend, are you his bringer up?”