With a careful, deft, accustomed movement he thrust a gold piece into the doorkeeper’s hand, who was already holding it behind his back, ready and folded in the form of a little boat.
The first thing that Horizon did upon installing himself in the large, spacious room with an alcove, was to put out into the corridor at the door of the room six pairs of magnificent shoes, saying to the bell-hop who ran up in answer to the bell:
“Immediately all should be cleaned! So it should shine like a mirror! They call you Timothy, I think? Then you should know me— if you work by me it will never go for nothing. So it should shine like a mirror!”
Horizon lived at the Hotel Hermitage for not more than three days and nights, and during this time he managed to see some three hundred people. His arrival seemed to enliven the big, gay port city. To him came the keepers of employment offices for servants, the proprietresses of cheap hotels, and old, experienced go-betweens, grown gray in the trade in women. Not so much out of an interest in booty as out of professional pride, Horizon tried, at all costs, to bargain for as much profit as possible, to buy a woman as cheaply as possible. Of course, to receive ten, fifteen roubles more was not the reason for him, but the mere thought that competitor Yampolsky would receive at the sale more than he brought him into a frenzy.
After his arrival, the next day, he set off to Mezer the photographer, taking with him the straw-like girl Bella, and had pictures taken in various poses together with her; at which for every negative he received three roubles, while he gave the woman a rouble. After that he rode off to Barsukova.
This was a woman, or, speaking more correctly, a retired wench, whose like can be found only in the south of Russia; neither a Pole nor a Little Russian; already sufficiently old and rich in order to allow herself the luxury of maintaining a husband (and together with him a cabaret), a handsome and kindly little Pole. Horizon and Barsukova met like old friends. They had, it seemed, no fear, no shame, no conscience when they conversed with each other.
“Madam Barsukova! I can offer you something special! Three women: one a large brunette, very modest; another a little one, a blonde, but who, you understand, is ready for everything; the third is a woman of mystery, who merely smiles and doesn’t say anything, but promises much and is a beauty!”
Madam Barsukova was gazing at him with mistrust, shaking her head.
“Mister Horizon! What are you trying to fill my head with? Do you want to do the same with me that you did last time?”
“By God, I should live so, how I want to deceive you! But that’s not the main thing. I’m also offering you a perfectly educated woman. Do with her what you like. In all probability you’ll find a connoisseur.”