It was some time, however, before I consented to recognise that truth. Wakin_p in the morning after some hours of heavy, leaden sleep, and immediatel_ealising all that had happened on the previous day, I was positively amaze_t my last night's SENTIMENTALITY with Liza, at all those "outcries of horro_nd pity." "To think of having such an attack of womanish hysteria, pah!" _oncluded. And what did I thrust my address upon her for? What if she comes?
Let her come, though; it doesn't matter … . But OBVIOUSLY, that was not no_he chief and the most important matter: I had to make haste and at all cost_ave my reputation in the eyes of Zverkov and Simonov as quickly as possible; that was the chief business. And I was so taken up that morning that _ctually forgot all about Liza.
First of all I had at once to repay what I had borrowed the day before fro_imonov. I resolved on a desperate measure: to borrow fifteen roubles straigh_ff from Anton Antonitch. As luck would have it he was in the best of humour_hat morning, and gave it to me at once, on the first asking. I was s_elighted at this that, as I signed the IOU with a swaggering air, I told hi_asually that the night before "I had been keeping it up with some friends a_he Hotel de Paris; we were giving a farewell party to a comrade, in fact, _ight say a friend of my childhood, and you know—a desperate rake, fearfull_poilt—of course, he belongs to a good family, and has considerable means, _rilliant career; he is witty, charming, a regular Lovelace, you understand; we drank an extra 'half-dozen' and … "
And it went off all right; all this was uttered very easily, unconstrainedl_nd complacently.
On reaching home I promptly wrote to Simonov.
To this hour I am lost in admiration when I recall the truly gentlemanly, good-humoured, candid tone of my letter. With tact and good- breeding, and, above all, entirely without superfluous words, I blamed myself for all tha_ad happened. I defended myself, "if I really may be allowed to defen_yself," by alleging that being utterly unaccustomed to wine, I had bee_ntoxicated with the first glass, which I said, I had drunk before the_rrived, while I was waiting for them at the Hotel de Paris between five an_ix o'clock. I begged Simonov's pardon especially; I asked him to convey m_xplanations to all the others, especially to Zverkov, whom "I seemed t_emember as though in a dream" I had insulted. I added that I would hav_alled upon all of them myself, but my head ached, and besides I had not th_ace to. I was particularly pleased with a certain lightness, almos_arelessness (strictly within the bounds of politeness, however), which wa_pparent in my style, and better than any possible arguments, gave them a_nce to understand that I took rather an independent view of "all tha_npleasantness last night"; that I was by no means so utterly crushed as you, my friends, probably imagine; but on the contrary, looked upon it as _entleman serenely respecting himself should look upon it. "On a young hero'_ast no censure is cast!"
"There is actually an aristocratic playfulness about it!" I though_dmiringly, as I read over the letter. "And it's all because I am a_ntellectual and cultivated man! Another man in my place would not have know_ow to extricate himself, but here I have got out of it and am as jolly a_ver again, and all because I am 'a cultivated and educated man of our day.'
And, indeed, perhaps, everything was due to the wine yesterday. H'm!" … No, i_as not the wine. I did not drink anything at all between five and six when _as waiting for them. I had lied to Simonov; I had lied shamelessly; an_ndeed I wasn't ashamed now … . Hang it all though, the great thing was that _as rid of it.
I put six roubles in the letter, sealed it up, and asked Apollon to take it t_imonov. When he learned that there was money in the letter, Apollon becam_ore respectful and agreed to take it. Towards evening I went out for a walk.
My head was still aching and giddy after yesterday. But as evening came on an_he twilight grew denser, my impressions and, following them, my thoughts, grew more and more different and confused. Something was not dead within me, in the depths of my heart and conscience it would not die, and it showe_tself in acute depression. For the most part I jostled my way through th_ost crowded business streets, along Myeshtchansky Street, along Sadovy Stree_nd in Yusupov Garden. I always liked particularly sauntering along thes_treets in the dusk, just when there were crowds of working people of al_orts going home from their daily work, with faces looking cross with anxiety.
What I liked was just that cheap bustle, that bare prose. On this occasion th_ostling of the streets irritated me more than ever, I could not make out wha_as wrong with me, I could not find the clue, something seemed rising u_ontinually in my soul, painfully, and refusing to be appeased. I returne_ome completely upset, it was just as though some crime were lying on m_onscience.
The thought that Liza was coming worried me continually. It seemed queer to m_hat of all my recollections of yesterday this tormented me, as it were, especially, as it were, quite separately. Everything else I had quit_ucceeded in forgetting by the evening; I dismissed it all and was stil_erfectly satisfied with my letter to Simonov. But on this point I was no_atisfied at all. It was as though I were worried only by Liza. "What if sh_omes," I thought incessantly, "well, it doesn't matter, let her come! H'm!
it's horrid that she should see, for instance, how I live. Yesterday I seeme_uch a hero to her, while now, h'm! It's horrid, though, that I have le_yself go so, the room looks like a beggar's. And I brought myself to go ou_o dinner in such a suit! And my American leather sofa with the stuffin_ticking out. And my dressing-gown, which will not cover me, such tatters, an_he will see all this and she will see Apollon. That beast is certain t_nsult her. He will fasten upon her in order to be rude to me. And I, o_ourse, shall be panic-stricken as usual, I shall begin bowing and scrapin_efore her and pulling my dressing-gown round me, I shall begin smiling, telling lies. Oh, the beastliness! And it isn't the beastliness of it tha_atters most! There is something more important, more loathsome, viler! Yes, viler! And to put on that dishonest lying mask again! … "
When I reached that thought I fired up all at once.
"Why dishonest? How dishonest? I was speaking sincerely last night. I remembe_here was real feeling in me, too. What I wanted was to excite an honourabl_eeling in her … . Her crying was a good thing, it will have a good effect."
Yet I could not feel at ease. All that evening, even when I had come bac_ome, even after nine o'clock, when I calculated that Liza could not possibl_ome, still she haunted me, and what was worse, she came back to my min_lways in the same position. One moment out of all that had happened las_ight stood vividly before my imagination; the moment when I struck a matc_nd saw her pale, distorted face, with its look of torture. And what _itiful, what an unnatural, what a distorted smile she had at that moment! Bu_ did not know then, that fifteen years later I should still in my imaginatio_ee Liza, always with the pitiful, distorted, inappropriate smile which was o_er face at that minute.
Next day I was ready again to look upon it all as nonsense, due to over- excited nerves, and, above all, as EXAGGERATED. I was always conscious of tha_eak point of mine, and sometimes very much afraid of it. "I exaggerat_verything, that is where I go wrong," I repeated to myself every hour. But, however, "Liza will very likely come all the same," was the refrain with whic_ll my reflections ended. I was so uneasy that I sometimes flew into a fury:
"She'll come, she is certain to come!" I cried, running about the room, "i_ot today, she will come tomorrow; she'll find me out! The damnabl_omanticism of these pure hearts! Oh, the vileness—oh, the silliness—oh, th_tupidity of these 'wretched sentimental souls!' Why, how fail to understand?
How could one fail to understand? … "
But at this point I stopped short, and in great confusion, indeed.
And how few, how few words, I thought, in passing, were needed; how little o_he idyllic (and affectedly, bookishly, artificially idyllic too) had suffice_o turn a whole human life at once according to my will. That's virginity, t_e sure! Freshness of soil!
At times a thought occurred to me, to go to her, "to tell her all," and be_er not to come to me. But this thought stirred such wrath in me that _elieved I should have crushed that "damned" Liza if she had chanced to b_ear me at the time. I should have insulted her, have spat at her, have turne_er out, have struck her!
One day passed, however, another and another; she did not come and I began t_row calmer. I felt particularly bold and cheerful after nine o'clock, I eve_ometimes began dreaming, and rather sweetly: I, for instance, became th_alvation of Liza, simply through her coming to me and my talking to her … . _evelop her, educate her. Finally, I notice that she loves me, loves m_assionately. I pretend not to understand (I don't know, however, why _retend, just for effect, perhaps). At last all confusion, transfigured, trembling and sobbing, she flings herself at my feet and says that I am he_aviour, and that she loves me better than anything in the world. I am amazed, but … . "Liza," I say, "can you imagine that I have not noticed your love? _aw it all, I divined it, but I did not dare to approach you first, because _ad an influence over you and was afraid that you would force yourself, fro_ratitude, to respond to my love, would try to rouse in your heart a feelin_hich was perhaps absent, and I did not wish that … because it would b_yranny … it would be indelicate (in short, I launch off at that point int_uropean, inexplicably lofty subtleties a la George Sand), but now, now yo_re mine, you are my creation, you are pure, you are good, you are my nobl_ife.
'Into my house come bold and free, Its rightful mistress there to be'."
Then we begin living together, go abroad and so on, and so on. In fact, in th_nd it seemed vulgar to me myself, and I began putting out my tongue a_yself.
Besides, they won't let her out, "the hussy!" I thought. They don't let the_o out very readily, especially in the evening (for some reason I fancied sh_ould come in the evening, and at seven o'clock precisely). Though she did sa_he was not altogether a slave there yet, and had certain rights; so, h'm!
Damn it all, she will come, she is sure to come!
It was a good thing, in fact, that Apollon distracted my attention at tha_ime by his rudeness. He drove me beyond all patience! He was the bane of m_ife, the curse laid upon me by Providence. We had been squabbling continuall_or years, and I hated him. My God, how I hated him! I believe I had neve_ated anyone in my life as I hated him, especially at some moments. He was a_lderly, dignified man, who worked part of his time as a tailor. But for som_nknown reason he despised me beyond all measure, and looked down upon m_nsufferably. Though, indeed, he looked down upon everyone. Simply to glanc_t that flaxen, smoothly brushed head, at the tuft of hair he combed up on hi_orehead and oiled with sunflower oil, at that dignified mouth, compresse_nto the shape of the letter V, made one feel one was confronting a man wh_ever doubted of himself. He was a pedant, to the most extreme point, th_reatest pedant I had met on earth, and with that had a vanity only befittin_lexander of Macedon. He was in love with every button on his coat, every nai_n his fingers—absolutely in love with them, and he looked it! In hi_ehaviour to me he was a perfect tyrant, he spoke very little to me, and if h_hanced to glance at me he gave me a firm, majestically self- confident an_nvariably ironical look that drove me sometimes to fury. He did his work wit_he air of doing me the greatest favour, though he did scarcely anything fo_e, and did not, indeed, consider himself bound to do anything. There could b_o doubt that he looked upon me as the greatest fool on earth, and that "h_id not get rid of me" was simply that he could get wages from me every month.
He consented to do nothing for me for seven roubles a month. Many sins shoul_e forgiven me for what I suffered from him. My hatred reached such a poin_hat sometimes his very step almost threw me into convulsions. What I loathe_articularly was his lisp. His tongue must have been a little too long o_omething of that sort, for he continually lisped, and seemed to be very prou_f it, imagining that it greatly added to his dignity. He spoke in a slow, measured tone, with his hands behind his back and his eyes fixed on th_round. He maddened me particularly when he read aloud the psalms to himsel_ehind his partition. Many a battle I waged over that reading! But he wa_wfully fond of reading aloud in the evenings, in a slow, even, sing-son_oice, as though over the dead. It is interesting that that is how he ha_nded: he hires himself out to read the psalms over the dead, and at the sam_ime he kills rats and makes blacking. But at that time I could not get rid o_im, it was as though he were chemically combined with my existence. Besides, nothing would have induced him to consent to leave me. I could not live i_urnished lodgings: my lodging was my private solitude, my shell, my cave, i_hich I concealed myself from all mankind, and Apollon seemed to me, for som_eason, an integral part of that flat, and for seven years I could not tur_im away.
To be two or three days behind with his wages, for instance, was impossible.
He would have made such a fuss, I should not have known where to hide my head.
But I was so exasperated with everyone during those days, that I made up m_ind for some reason and with some object to PUNISH Apollon and not to pay hi_or a fortnight the wages that were owing him. I had for a long time—for th_ast two years—been intending to do this, simply in order to teach him not t_ive himself airs with me, and to show him that if I liked I could withhol_is wages. I purposed to say nothing to him about it, and was purposely silen_ndeed, in order to score off his pride and force him to be the first to spea_f his wages. Then I would take the seven roubles out of a drawer, show him _ave the money put aside on purpose, but that I won't, I won't, I simply won'_ay him his wages, I won't just because that is "what I wish," because "I a_aster, and it is for me to decide," because he has been disrespectful, because he has been rude; but if he were to ask respectfully I might b_oftened and give it to him, otherwise he might wait another fortnight, another three weeks, a whole month … .
But angry as I was, yet he got the better of me. I could not hold out for fou_ays. He began as he always did begin in such cases, for there had been suc_ases already, there had been attempts (and it may be observed I knew all thi_eforehand, I knew his nasty tactics by heart). He would begin by fixing upo_e an exceedingly severe stare, keeping it up for several minutes at a time, particularly on meeting me or seeing me out of the house. If I held out an_retended not to notice these stares, he would, still in silence, proceed t_urther tortures. All at once, A PROPOS of nothing, he would walk softly an_moothly into my room, when I was pacing up and down or reading, stand at th_oor, one hand behind his back and one foot behind the other, and fix upon m_ stare more than severe, utterly contemptuous. If I suddenly asked him wha_e wanted, he would make me no answer, but continue staring at me persistentl_or some seconds, then, with a peculiar compression of his lips and a mos_ignificant air, deliberately turn round and deliberately go back to his room.
Two hours later he would come out again and again present himself before me i_he same way. It had happened that in my fury I did not even ask him what h_anted, but simply raised my head sharply and imperiously and began starin_ack at him. So we stared at one another for two minutes; at last he turne_ith deliberation and dignity and went back again for two hours.
If I were still not brought to reason by all this, but persisted in my revolt, he would suddenly begin sighing while he looked at me, long, deep sighs a_hough measuring by them the depths of my moral degradation, and, of course, it ended at last by his triumphing completely: I raged and shouted, but stil_as forced to do what he wanted.
This time the usual staring manoeuvres had scarcely begun when I lost m_emper and flew at him in a fury. I was irritated beyond endurance apart fro_im.
"Stay," I cried, in a frenzy, as he was slowly and silently turning, with on_and behind his back, to go to his room. "Stay! Come back, come back, I tel_ou!" and I must have bawled so unnaturally, that he turned round and eve_ooked at me with some wonder. However, he persisted in saying nothing, an_hat infuriated me.
"How dare you come and look at me like that without being sent for? Answer!"
After looking at me calmly for half a minute, he began turning round again.
"Stay!" I roared, running up to him, "don't stir! There. Answer, now: what di_ou come in to look at?"
"If you have any order to give me it's my duty to carry it out," he answered, after another silent pause, with a slow, measured lisp, raising his eyebrow_nd calmly twisting his head from one side to another, all this wit_xasperating composure.
"That's not what I am asking you about, you torturer!" I shouted, turnin_rimson with anger. "I'll tell you why you came here myself: you see, I don'_ive you your wages, you are so proud you don't want to bow down and ask fo_t, and so you come to punish me with your stupid stares, to worry me and yo_ave no sus-pic-ion how stupid it is— stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid! … "
He would have turned round again without a word, but I seized him.
"Listen," I shouted to him. "Here's the money, do you see, here it is," (_ook it out of the table drawer); "here's the seven roubles complete, but yo_re not going to have it, you … are … not … going … to … have it until yo_ome respectfully with bowed head to beg my pardon. Do you hear?"
"That cannot be," he answered, with the most unnatural self-confidence.
"It shall be so," I said, "I give you my word of honour, it shall be!"
"And there's nothing for me to beg your pardon for," he went on, as though h_ad not noticed my exclamations at all. "Why, besides, you called me a
'torturer,' for which I can summon you at the police-station at any time fo_nsulting behaviour."
"Go, summon me," I roared, "go at once, this very minute, this very second!
You are a torturer all the same! a torturer!"
But he merely looked at me, then turned, and regardless of my loud calls t_im, he walked to his room with an even step and without looking round.
"If it had not been for Liza nothing of this would have happened," I decide_nwardly. Then, after waiting a minute, I went myself behind his screen with _ignified and solemn air, though my heart was beating slowly and violently.
"Apollon," I said quietly and emphatically, though I was breathless, "go a_nce without a minute's delay and fetch the police-officer."
He had meanwhile settled himself at his table, put on his spectacles and take_p some sewing. But, hearing my order, he burst into a guffaw.
"At once, go this minute! Go on, or else you can't imagine what will happen."
"You are certainly out of your mind," he observed, without even raising hi_ead, lisping as deliberately as ever and threading his needle. "Whoever hear_f a man sending for the police against himself? And as for bein_rightened—you are upsetting yourself about nothing, for nothing will come o_t."
"Go!" I shrieked, clutching him by the shoulder. I felt I should strike him i_ minute.
But I did not notice the door from the passage softly and slowly open at tha_nstant and a figure come in, stop short, and begin staring at us i_erplexity I glanced, nearly swooned with shame, and rushed back to my room.
There, clutching at my hair with both hands, I leaned my head against the wal_nd stood motionless in that position.
Two minutes later I heard Apollon's deliberate footsteps. "There is some woma_sking for you," he said, looking at me with peculiar severity. Then he stoo_side and let in Liza. He would not go away, but stared at us sarcastically.
"Go away, go away," I commanded in desperation. At that moment my clock bega_hirring and wheezing and struck seven.