The precipitate and incongruous quarrel of Platonov and Sobashnikov long served as a subject of conversation. The reporter, in cases like this, always felt shame, uneasiness, regret and the torments of conscience. And despite the fact that all those who remained were on his side, he was speaking with weariness in his voice:
“By God, gentlemen! I’ll go away, best of all. Why should I disrupt your circle? We were both at fault. I’ll go away. Don’t bother about the bill. I’ve already paid Simeon, when I was going after Pasha.”
Lichonin suddenly rumpled up his hair and stood up
“Oh, no, the devil take it! I’ll go and drag him here. Upon my word of honour, they’re both fine fellows—Boris as well as Vaska. But they’re young yet, and bark at their own tails. I’m going after them, and I warrant that Boris will apologize.”
He went away, but came back after five minutes.
“They repose,” said he, sombrely, and made a hopeless gesture with his hand. “Both of them.”
At this moment Simeon walked into the cabinet with a tray upon which stood two goblets of a bubbling golden wine and lay a large visiting card.
“May I ask which of you here might be Mister Gavrila Petrovich Yarchenko?” he said, looking over all those sitting.
“I,” responded Yarchenko.
“If youse please. The actor gent sent this.”
Yarchenko took the visiting card and read aloud:
Dramatic Artist of Metropolitan Theatres
“It’s remarkable,” said Volodya
Pavlov, “that all the Russian
Garricks bear such queer names, on the style of Chrysantov,
Thetisov, Mamontov and Epimhakov.”
“And besides that, the best known of them must needs either speak thickly, or lisp, or stammer,” added the reporter.
“Yes, but most remarkable of all is the fact that I do not at all have the honour of knowing this artist of the metropolitan theatres. However, there’s something else written on the reverse of this card. Judging by the handwriting, it was written by a man greatly drunk and little lettered.
“’I dreenk’—not drink, but dreenk,” explained Yarchenko. “’I dreenk to the health of the luminary of Russian science, Gavrila Petrovich Yarchenko, whom I saw by chance when I was passing by through the collidor. Would like to clink glasses together personally. If you do not remember, recollect the National Theatre, Poverty Is No Disgrace, and the humble artist who played African.’ “Yes, that’s right,” said Yarchenko. “Once, somehow, they saddled me with the arrangement of this benefit performance in the National Theatre. Also, there dimly glimmers some clean-shaven haughty visage, but ... What shall it be, gentlemen?”
Lichonin answered good-naturedly: