Both day and night on the main streets of the frenzied city stood, moved, and yelled the mob, as though at a fire. It would be almost impossible to describe what went on in the Yamkas then. Despite the fact that the madams had increased the staff of their patients to more than double and increased their prices trebly, their poor demented girls could not catch up in satisfying the demands of the drunken, crazed public, which threw money around like chips. It happened that in the drawing room, filled to overflowing with people, each girl would be awaited for by some seven, eight, at times even ten, men. It was, truly, some kind of a mad, intoxicated, convulsive time!
And from that very time began all the misfortunes of the Yamkas, which brought them to ruin. And together with the Yamkas perished also the house, familiar to us, of the stout, old, pale-eyed Anna Markovna.
The passenger train sped merrily from the south to the north, traversing golden fields of wheat and beautiful groves of oak, careering with rumbling upon iron bridges over bright rivers, leaving behind it whirling clouds of smoke.
In the Coupe of the second class, even with open windows, there was a fearful stuffiness, and it was hot. The smell of sulphurous smoke irritated the throat. The rocking and the heat had completely tired out the passengers, save one, a merry, energetic, mobile Hebrew, splendidly dressed, accommodating, sociable and talkative. He was travelling with a young woman, and it was at once apparent, especially through her, that they were newly-weds; so often did her face flare up with an unexpected colour at every tenderness of her husband, even the least. And when she raised her eyelashes to look upon him, her eyes would shine like stars, and grow humid. And her face was as beautiful as only the faces of young Hebrew maidens in love can be beautiful—all tenderly rosy, with rosy lips, rounded out in beautiful innocence, and with eyes so black that their pupils could not be distinguished from the irises.
Unabashed by the presence of three strange people, he showered his caresses upon his companion every minute, and, it must be said, sufficiently coarse ones. With the unceremoniousness of an owner, with that especial egoism of one in love, who, it would seem, is saying to the whole universe: “See, how happy we are—this makes you happy also, isn’t that so?”—he would now pass his hand over her leg, which resiliently and in relief stood out beneath her dress, now pinch her on the cheek, now tickle her neck with his stiff, black, turned-up moustache ... But, even though he did sparkle with delight, there was still something rapacious, wary, uneasy to be glimpsed in his frequently winking eyes, in the twitching of the upper lip, and in the harsh outline of his shaved, square chin, jutting out, with a scarcely noticeable dent in the middle.