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August 3rd

  • MY ANGEL, BARBARA ALEXIEVNA,—I hasten to inform you, 0h light of my life, that
  • my hopes are rising again. But, little daughter of mine—do you really mean it
  • when you say that I am to indulge in no more borrowings? Why, I could not do
  • without them. Things would go badly with us both if I did so. You are ailing.
  • Consequently, I tell you roundly that I MUST borrow, and that I must continue
  • to do so.
  • Also, I may tell you that my seat in the office is now next to that of a
  • certain Emelia Ivanovitch. He is not the Emelia whom you know, but a man who,
  • like myself, is a privy councillor, as well as represents, with myself, the
  • senior and oldest official in our department. Likewise he is a good,
  • disinterested soul, and one that is not over-talkative, though a true bear in
  • appearance and demeanour. Industrious, and possessed of a handwriting purely
  • English, his caligraphy is, it must be confessed, even worse than my own. Yes,
  • he is a good soul. At the same time, we have never been intimate with one
  • another. We have done no more than exchange greetings on meeting or parting,
  • borrow one another's penknife if we needed one, and, in short, observe such
  • bare civilities as convention demands. Well, today he said to me, "Makar
  • Alexievitch, what makes you look so thoughtful?" and inasmuch as I could see
  • that he wished me well, I told him all— or, rather, I did not tell him
  • EVERYTHING, for that I do to no man (I have not the heart to do it); I told
  • him just a few scattered details concerning my financial straits. "Then you
  • ought to borrow," said he. "You ought to obtain a loan of Peter Petrovitch,
  • who does a little in that way. I myself once borrowed some money of him, and
  • he charged me fair and light interest." Well, Barbara, my heart leapt within
  • me at these words. I kept thinking and thinking, —if only God would put it
  • into the mind of Peter Petrovitch to be my benefactor by advancing me a loan!"
  • I calculated that with its aid I might both repay my landlady and assist
  • yourself and get rid of my surroundings (where I can hardly sit down to table
  • without the rascals making jokes about me). Sometimes his Excellency passes
  • our desk in the office. He glances at me, and cannot but perceive how poorly I
  • am dressed. Now, neatness and cleanliness are two of his strongest points.
  • Even though he says nothing, I feel ready to die with shame when he
  • approaches. Well, hardening my heart, and putting my diffidence into my ragged
  • pocket, I approached Peter Petrovitch, and halted before him more dead than
  • alive. Yet I was hopeful, and though, as it turned out, he was busily engaged
  • in talking to Thedosei Ivanovitch, I walked up to him from behind, and plucked
  • at his sleeve. He looked away from me, but I recited my speech about thirty
  • roubles, et cetera, et cetera, of which, at first, he failed to catch the
  • meaning. Even when I had explained matters to him more fully, he only burst
  • out laughing, and said nothing. Again I addressed to him my request;
  • whereupon, asking me what security I could give, he again buried himself in
  • his papers, and went on writing without deigning me even a second glance.
  • Dismay seized me. "Peter Petrovitch," I said, "I can offer you no security,"
  • but to this I added an explanation that some salary would, in time, be due to
  • me, which I would make over to him, and account the loan my first debt. At
  • that moment someone called him away, and I had to wait a little. On returning,
  • he began to mend his pen as though he had not even noticed that I was there.
  • But I was for myself this time. "Peter Petrovitch," I continued, "can you not
  • do ANYTHING?" Still he maintained silence, and seemed not to have heard me. I
  • waited and waited. At length I determined to make a final attempt, and plucked
  • him by the sleeve. He muttered something, and, his pen mended, set about his
  • writing. There was nothing for me to do but to depart. He and the rest of them
  • are worthy fellows, dearest—that I do not doubt— but they are also proud, very
  • proud. What have I to do with them? Yet I thought I would write and tell you
  • all about it. Meanwhile Emelia Ivanovitch had been encouraging me with nods
  • and smiles. He is a good soul, and has promised to recommend me to a friend of
  • his who lives in Viborskaia Street and lends money. Emelia declares that this
  • friend will certainly lend me a little; so tomorrow, beloved, I am going to
  • call upon the gentleman in question… . What do you think about it? It would be
  • a pity not to obtain a loan. My landlady is on the point of turning me out of
  • doors, and has refused to allow me any more board. Also, my boots are wearing
  • through, and have lost every button—and I do not possess another pair! Could
  • anyone in a government office display greater shabbiness? It is dreadful, my
  • Barbara—it is simply dreadful!
  • MAKAR DIEVUSHKIN.