“Pardon me, pardon me, but I am acquainted with you a little, even though not personally. Weren’t you in the university when Professor Priklonsky defended the doctor’s dissertation?”
“It was I,” answered the reporter.
“Ah, that’s very nice,” smiled Yarchenko charmingly, and for some reason once more pressed Platonov’s hand vigorously. “I read your report afterwards: very exactly, circumstantially and skillfully put together ... Won’t you favor me? ... To your health!”
“Then allow me, too,” said Platonov. “Onuphriy Zakharich, pour out for us again ... one ... two, three, four ... nine glasses of cognac...”
“Oh no, you can’t do that ... you are our guest, colleague,” remonstrated Lichonin.
“Well, now, what sort of colleague am I to you?” good-naturedly laughed the reporter. “I was only in the first class and then only for half a year—as an unmatriculated student. Here you are, Onuphriy Zakharich. Gentlemen, I beg you...”
The upshot of it was that after half an hour Lichonin and Yarchenko did not under any consideration want to part with the reporter and dragged him with them to Yama. However, he did not resist.
“If I am not a burden to you, I would be very glad,” he said simply. “All the more since I have easy money to-day. The Dnieper word has paid me an honorarium, and this is just as much of a miracle as winning two hundred thousand on a check from a theatre coat room. Pardon me, I’ll be right back...”
He walked up to the old man with whom he had been sitting before, shoved some money into his hand, and gently took leave of him.
“Where I’m going, grandpa, there you mustn’t go—to-morrow we will meet in the same place as to-day. Good-bye!”
They all walked out of the restaurant. At the door Borya Sobashnikov, always a little finical and unnecessarily supercilious, stopped Lichonin and called him to one side.
“I’m surprised at you, Lichonin,” he said squeamishly. “We have gathered together in our own close company, yet you must needs drag in some vagabond. The devil knows who he is!”
“Quit that, Borya,” answered Lichonin amicably. “He’s a warm-hearted fellow.”
“Well now, gentlemen, this isn’t fit for pigs,” Yarchenko was saying, grumblingly, at the entrance of Anna Markovna’s establishment. “If we finally have gone, we might at least have chosen a decent place, and not some wretched hole. Really, gentlemen, let’s better go to Treppel’s alongside; there it’s clean and light, at any rate.”
“If you please, if you please, signior,” insisted Lichonin, opening the door before the sub-professor with courtly urbanity, bowing and spreading his arms before him. “If you please.”
“But this is an abomination ... At Treppel’s the women are better-looking, at least,”