“O, Jennie! Stop it now! Pfui!” the susceptible Emma Edwardovna, made indignant by her tone, stopped her.
“I won’t stop!” she cut her short abruptly. But she grew quiet by herself and wrathfully walked away with distending nostrils and with fire in the darkened, handsome eyes.
Little by little the drawing room was filling. There came Roly-Poly, long known to all Yama—a tall, thin, red-nosed, gray old man, in the uniform of a forest ranger, in high boots, with a wooden yard-stick always sticking out of his side-pocket. He passed whole days and evenings as a habitue of the billiard parlor in the tavern, always half-tipsy, shedding his little jokes, jingles and little sayings, acting familiarly with the porters, with the housekeepers and the girls. In the houses everybody from the proprietress to the chamber-maids—treated him with a bit of derision—careless, a trifle contemptuous, but without malice. At times he was even not without use: he could transmit notes from the girls to their lovers, and run over to the market or to the drug-store. Not infrequently, thanks to his loosely hung tongue and long extinguished self respect, he would worm himself into a gathering of strangers and increase their expenditures, nor did he carry elsewhere the money gotten as “loans” on such occasions, but spent it right here for women—unless, indeed, he left himself some change for cigarettes. And, out of habit, he was good-naturedly tolerated.
“And here’s Roly-Poly arrived,” announced Niura, when he, having already managed to shake hands amicably with Simeon the porter, stopped in the doorway of the drawing room, lanky, in a uniform cap knocked at a brave slant over one side of his head. “Well, now, Roly-Poly, fire away!”
“I have the honour to present myself,” Roly-Poly immediately commenced to grimace, putting his hand up to his brim in military fashion, “a right honourable privy frequenter of the local agreeable establishments, Prince Bottlekin, Count Liquorkin, Baron Whoatinkevich-Giddapkovski—Mister Beethoven! Mister Chopin!” he greeted the musicians. “Play me something from the opera The Brave and Charming General Anisimov, or, A Hubbub in the Coolidor. My regards to the little political economist Zociya. [Footnote: An untranslatable pun on Economochka, a diminutive for “housekeeper.”—Trans.] A-ha! Then you kiss only at Easter? We shall write that down. Ooh-you, my Tomalachka, my pitty-itty tootsicums!”
And so with jests and with pinches he went the round of all the girls and at last sat down alongside of the fat Katie, who put her fat leg upon his, leant with her elbow upon her knee, while upon the palm she laid her chin, and began to watch indifferently and closely the surveyor rolling a cigarette for himself.
“And how is it that you don’t ever get tired of it, Roly-Poly? You’re forever rolling a coffin nail.”