Jennie, who has only picked fastidiously at her cutlet and eaten half her cream roll, speaks to her in a tone of hypocritical solicitude:
“Really, Pheclusha, you might just as well eat my cutlet, too. Eat, my dear, eat; don’t be bashful—you ought to be gaining in health. But do you know what I’ll tell you, ladies?” she turns to her mates, “Why, our Pheclusha has a tape-worm, and when a person has a tape-worm, he always eats for two: half for himself, half for the worm.”
Nina sniffs angrily and answers in a bass which comes as a surprise from one of her stature, and through her nose:
“There are no tape-worms in me. It’s you that has the tape-worms, that’s why you are so skinny.”
And she imperturbably continues to eat, and after dinner feels herself sleepy, like a boa constrictor, eructs loudly, drinks water, hiccups, and, by stealth, if no one sees her, makes the sign of the cross over her mouth, through an old habit.
But already the ringing voice of Zociya can. be heard through the corridors and rooms:
“Get dressed, ladies, get dressed. There’s no use in sitting around...To work...”
After a few minutes in all the rooms of the establishment there are smells of singed hair, boric-thymol soap, cheap eau-de-cologne. The girls are dressing for the evening.
The late twilight came on, and after it the warm, dark night, but for long, until very midnight, did the deep crimson glow of the sky still smoulder. Simeon, the porter of the establishment, has lit all the lamps along the walls of the drawing room, and the lustre, as well as the red lantern over the stoop. Simeon was a spare, stocky, taciturn and harsh man, with straight, broad shoulders, dark-haired, pock-marked, with little bald spots on his eye-brows and moustaches from small-pox, and with black, dull, insolent eyes. By day he was free and slept, while at night he sat without absenting himself in the front hall under the reflector, in order to help the guests with their coats and to be ready in case of any disorder.
The pianist came—a tall, elegant young man, with white eyebrows and eyelashes, and a cataract in his right eye. The while there were no guests, he and Isaiah Savvich quietly rehearsed Pas d’Espagne, at that time coming into fashion. For every dance ordered by the guests, they received thirty kopecks for an easy dance, and a half rouble for a quadrille. But one-half of this price was taken out by the proprietress, Anna Markovna; the other, however, the musicians divided evenly. In this manner the pianist received only a quarter of the general earnings, which, of course, was unjust, since Isaiah Savvich played as one self-taught and was distinguished for having no more ear for music than a piece of wood. The pianist was constantly compelled to drag him on to new tunes, to correct and cover his mistakes with loud chords. The