“Little Manka, your lover has come!”
And Mishka the Singer, who was no singer at all, but the owner of a drug warehouse, at once, upon entering, sang out in a vibrating, quavering, goatish voice:
“They fe-e-e-l the tru-u-u-u-uth!
Come thou daw-aw-aw-aw-ning...”
which he perpetrated at every visit of his to Anna Markovna.
Almost incessantly they played the quadrille, waltz, polka, and danced. There also arrived Senka—the lover of Tamara—but, contrary to his wont, he did not put on airs, did not go in for “ruination,” did not order a funeral march from Isaiah Savvich, and did not treat the girls to chocolate ... For some reason he was gloomy, limped on his right leg, and sought to attract as little attention as possible—probably his professional affairs were at this time in a bad way. With a single motion of his head, while walking, he called Tamara out of the drawing room and vanished with her into her room. And there also arrived Egmont-Lavretzki the actor, clean-shaven, tall, resembling a court flunky with his vulgar and insolently contemptuous face.
The clerks from the gastronomical store danced with all the ardour of youth and with all the decorum recommended by Herman Hoppe, the self-instructor of good manners. In this regard the girls also responded to their intentions. Both with these and with the others it was accounted especially decorous and well-bred to dance as rigidly as possible, keeping the arms hanging down, while the heads were raised high and inclined to one side with a certain proud, and, at the same time, tired and enervated air. In the intermissions, between the figures of the dance, it was necessary to fan one’s self with a handkerchief, with a bored and negligent air ... In a word, they all made believe that they belonged to the choicest society, and that if they do dance, they only do it out of condescension, as a little comradely turn. But still they danced so ardently that the perspiration rolled down in streams from the clerks of Kereshkovsky.
Two or three rows had already happened in different houses. Some man, all in blood, whose face in the pale light of the moon’s crescent seemed black from the blood, was running around in the street, cursing, and, without paying the least attention to his wounds, was searching for his cap which had been lost in the brawl. On Little Yamskaya some government scribes had had a fight with a ship’s company. The tired pianists and musicians played as in a delirium, in a doze, through mechanical habit. This was towards the waning of the night.
Altogether unexpectedly, seven students, a sub-professor, and a local reporter walked into the establishment of Anna Markovna.