“Let Liuba tell the housekeeper that you’re taking her to your rooms for to-day. That’s the fixed rate—ten roubles. And afterwards, well, even to-morrow—come after the ticket and things. That’s nothing; we’ll work this thing roundly. And after that you must go to the police with her ticket and declare, that Liubka So-and-so has hired herself to you as chambermaid, and that you desire to exchange her blank for a real passport. Well, Liubka, lively! Take the money and march. And, look out, be as quick as possible with the housekeeper, or else she, the bitch, will read it in your eyes. And also don’t forget,” she cried, now after Liuba, “wipe the rouge off your puss, now. Or else the drivers will be pointing their fingers at you.”
After half an hour Liuba and Lichonin were getting on a cab at the entrance. Jennie and the reporter were standing on the sidewalk.
“You’re committing a great folly, Lichonin,” Platonov was saying listlessly, “but I honour and respect the fine impulse within you. Here’s the thought—and here’s the deed. You’re a brave and a splendid fellow.”
“Here’s to your commencement!” laughed Jennie. “Look out, don’t forget to send for me to the christening.”
“You won’t see it, no matter how long you wait for it!” laughed Lichonin, waving his cap about.
They rode off. The reporter looked at Jennie, and with astonishment saw tears in her softened eyes.
“God grant it, God grant it,” she was whispering.
“What has been the matter with you to-day, Jennie?” he asked kindly. “What? Are you oppressed? Can’t I do anything?”
She turned her back to him and leaned over the bent balustrade of the stoop.
“How shall I write to you, if need be?” she asked in a stifled voice.
“Why, it’s simple. Editorial rooms of Echoes. So-and-so. They’ll pass it on to me pretty fast.”
“I ... I ... I ...” Jennie just began, but suddenly burst into loud, passionate sobs and covered her face with her hands, “I’ll write you ...”
And without taking her hands away from her face, her shoulders quivering, she ran up the stoop and disappeared in the house, loudly banging the door after her.
Even to this day, after a lapse of ten years, the erstwhile inhabitants of the Yamkas recall that year, abounding in unhappy, foul, bloody events, which began with a series of trifling, small affrays, but terminated in the administration’s, one fine day, taking and destroying completely the ancient, long-warmed nest of legalized prostitution, which nest it had itself created— scattering its remains over the hospitals, jails and streets of the big city. Even to this day a few of the former proprietresses who have remained alive and have reached the limit of decrepitude, and quondam housekeepers, fat and hoarse, like pug-dogs grown old, recall this common destruction with sorrow, horror, and stolid perplexity.