He rapidly and haughtily walked to the door.
It was necessary for him to pass almost right up against Platonov, who, out of the corner of his eye, animal-like, was watching his every movement. For a moment in the mind of the student flashed a desire to strike Platonov unexpectedly, from the side, and jump away—the comrades would surely part them and not allow a fight. But immediately, almost without looking at the reporter, with some sort of deep, unconscious instinct, he saw and sensed those broad hands, lying quietly on the table, that obdurately bowed head with its broad forehead, and all the ungainly, alert, powerful body of his foe, so neligently hunched up and spread out on the chair, but ready at any second for a quick and terrific blow. And Sobashnikov walked out into the corridor, loudly banging the door after him.
“Good riddance to bad rubbish,” said Jennie after him in a mocking patter. “Tamarochka, pour me out some more cognac.”
But the lanky student Petrovsky got up from his place and considered it necessary to defend Sobashnikov.
“Just as you wish, gentlemen; this is a matter of your personal view, but out of principle I go together with Boris. Let him be not right and so on, we can express censure to him in our own intimate company, but when an insult has been rendered our comrade—I can’t remain here. I am going away.”
“Oh, my God!” And Lichonin nervously and vexedly scratched his temple. “Boris behaved himself all the time in the highest degree vulgarly, rudely and foolishly. What sort of corporate honour do you think this is? A collective walk-out from editorial offices, from political meetings, from brothels. We aren’t officers to screen the foolishness of each comrade.”
“All the same, just as you wish, but I am going away out of a sense of solidarity!” said Petrovsky importantly and walked out.
“May the earth be as down upon you!” Jennie sent after him.
But how tortuous and dark the ways of the human soul! Both of them—Sobashnikov as well as Petrovsky—acted in their indignation rather sincerely, but the first only half so, while the second only a quarter in all. Sobashnikov, despite his intoxication and wrath, still had knocking at the door of his mind the alluring thought that now it would be more convenient and easier before his comrades to call out Jennka on the quiet and to be alone with her. While Petrovsky, with exactly the same aim, went after Sobashnikov in order to make a loan of three roubles from him. In the general drawing room they made things up between them, and after ten minutes Zociya, the housekeeper, shoved in her little, squinting, pink, cunning face through the half-open door of the private room.
“Jennechka,” she called, “go, they have brought your linen, go count it. And you, Niura, the actor begs to come for just a minute, to drink some champagne. He’s with Henrietta and Big Manya.”