All the girls were agitated ... “And what if there’s a disease, which I haven’t noticed myself? ... And then the despatch to a hospital; disgrace; the tedium of hospital life; bad food; the hard course of treatment...”
Only Big Manka—or otherwise Manka the Crocodile—Zoe, and Henrietta—all thirty years old, and, therefore, in the reckoning of Yama, already old prostitutes, who had seen everything, had grown inured to everything, grown indifferent to their trade, like white, fat circus horses—remained imperturbably calm. Manka the Crocodile even often said of herself:
“I have gone through fire and water and pipes of brass ... Nothing will stick to me any more.”
Jennka, since morning, was meek and pensive. She presented to Little White Manka a golden bracelet; a medallion upon a thin little chain with her photograph; and a silver neck crucifix. Tamara she moved through entreaty into taking two rings for remembrance: one of silver, in three hoops, that could be moved apart, with a heart in the middle, and under it two hands that clasped one another when all the three parts of the ring were joined; while the other was of thin gold wire with an almandine.
“As for my underwear, Tamarochka—you give it to Annushka, the chambermaid. Let her wash it out well and wear it in good health, in memory of me.”
The two of them were sitting in Tamara’s room. Jennka had in the very morning sent after cognac; and now slowly, as though lazily, was imbibing wine-glass after wine-glass, eating lemon and a piece of sugar after drinking. Tamara was observing this for the first time and wondered, because Jennka had always disliked wine, and drank very rarely; and then only at the constraint of guests.
“What are you giving stuff away so to-day?” asked Tamara. “Just as though you’d gotten ready to die, or to go into a convent?”
“Yes, and I will go away,” answered Jennka listlessly. “I am weary, Tamarochka! ...”
“Well, which one of us has a good time?”
“Well, no! ... It isn’t so much that I’m weary; but somehow everything—everything is all the same ... I look at you, at the table, at the bottle; at my hands and feet; and I’m thinking, that all this is alike and everything is to no purpose ... There’s no sense in anything ... Just like on some old, old picture. Look there—there’s a soldier walking on the street, but it’s all one to me, as though they had wound up a doll, and it’s moving ... And that he’s wet under the ram, is also all one to me ... And that he’ll die, and I’ll die, and you, Tamara, will die—in this also I see nothing frightful, nothing amazing... So simple and wearisome is everything to me...”
Jennka was silent for a while; drank one more wine-glass; sucked the sugar, and, still looking out at the street, suddenly asked:
“Tell me, please, Tamara, I’ve never asked you about it—from where did you get in here, into the house? You don’t at all resemble all of us; you know everything; for everything that turns up you have a good, clever remark ... Even French, now—how well you spoke it that time! But none of us knows anything at all about you ... Who are you?”