“Why, drag him here. Perhaps he’s funny.”
“And you?” the sub-professor turned to Platonov.
“It’s all the same to me. I know him slightly. At first he’ll shout: ‘Kellner, champagne!’ then burst into tears about his wife, who is an angel, then deliver a patriotic speech and finally raise a row over the bill, but none too loudly. All in all he’s entertaining.”
“Let him come,” said Volodya, from behind the shoulder of Katie, who was sitting on his knees, swinging her legs.
“And you, Veltman?”
“What?” the student came to with a start. He was sitting on the divan with his back to his companions, near the reclining Pasha, bending over her, and already for a long time, with the friendliest appearance of sympathy, had been stroking her, now on the shoulder, now on the hair at the nape of the neck, while she was smiling at him with her shyly shameless and senselessly passionate smile through half-closed and trembling eyelashes. “What? What’s it all about? Oh yes,—is it all right to let the actor in? I’ve nothing against it. Please do ...”
Yarchenko sent an invitation through Simeon, and the actor came and immediately commenced the usual actor’s play. In the door he paused, in his long frock coat, shining with its silk lapels, with a glistening opera hat, which he held with his arm in the middle of his chest, like an actor portraying in the theatre an elderly worldly lion or a bank director. And approximately these persons he was inwardly picturing to himself.
“May I be permitted, gentlemen, to intrude into your intimate company?” he asked in an unctuous, kindly voice, with a half-bow done somewhat to one side.
They asked him in, and he began to introduce himself. Shaking hands, he stuck out his elbow forward and raised it so high that the hand proved to be far lower. Now it was no longer a bank director, but such a clever, splendid fellow, a sportsman and a rake of the golden youths. But his face—with rumpled, wild eyebrows and with denuded lids without lashes—was the vulgar, harsh and low face of a typical alcoholic, libertine, and pettily cruel man. Together with him came two of his ladies: Henrietta the eldest girl in years in the establishment of Anna Markovna, experienced, who had seen everything and had grown accustomed to everything, like an old horse on the tether of a threshing machine, the possessor of a thick bass, but still a handsome woman; and Big Manka, or Manka the Crocodile. Henrietta since still the preceding night had not parted from the actor, who had taken her from the house to a hotel.
Having seated himself alongside of Yarchenko, he straight off began to play a new role—he became something on the order of an old good soul of a landed proprietor, who had at one time been at a university himself, and now can not look upon the students without a quiet, fatherly emotion.