It was striking midnight from all the clock towers in Petersburg when Mr.
Golyadkin, beside himself, ran out on the Fontanka Quay, close to th_smailovsky Bridge, fleeing from his foes, from persecution, from a hailstor_f nips and pinches aimed at him, from the shrieks of excited old ladies, fro_he Ohs and Ahs of women and from the murderous eyes of Andrey Filippovitch.
Mr. Golyadkin was killed — killed entirely, in the full sense of the word, an_f he still preserved the power of running, it was simply through some sort o_iracle, a miracle in which at last he refused himself to believe. It was a_wful November night — wet, foggy, rainy, snowy, teeming with colds in th_ead, fevers, swollen faces, quinseys, inflammations of all kinds an_escriptions — teeming, in fact, with all the gifts of a Petersburg November.
The wind howled in the deserted streets, lifting up the black water of th_anal above the rings on the bank, and irritably brushing against the lea_amp-posts which chimed in with its howling in a thin, shrill creak, keepin_p the endless squeaky, jangling concert with which every inhabitant o_etersburg is so familiar. Snow and rain were falling both at once. Lashed b_he wind, the streams of rainwater spurted almost horizontally, as though fro_ fireman’s hose, pricking and stinging the face of the luckless Mr. Golyadki_ike a thousand pins and needles. In the stillness of the night, broken onl_y the distant rumbling of carriages, the howl of the wind and the creaking o_he lamp-posts, there was the dismal sound of the splash and gurgle of water,
rushing from every roof, every porch, every pipe and every cornice, on to th_ranite of the pavement. There was not a soul, near or far, and, indeed, i_eemed there could not be at such an hour and in such weather. And so only Mr.
Golyadkin, alone with his despair, was fleeing in terror along the pavement o_ontanka, with his usual rapid little step, in haste to get home as soon a_ossible to his flat on the fourth storey in Shestilavotchny Street.
Though the snow, the rain, and all the nameless horrors of a raging snowstor_nd fog, under a Petersburg November sky, were attacking Mr. Golyadkin,
already shattered by misfortunes, were showing him no mercy, giving him n_est, drenching him to the bone, glueing up his eyelids, blowing right throug_im from all sides, baffling and perplexing him — though conspiring an_ombining with all his enemies to make a grand day, evening, and night fo_im, in spite of all this Mr. Golyadkin was almost insensible to this fina_roof of the persecution of destiny: so violent had been the shock and th_mpression made upon him a few minutes before at the civil councillo_erendyev’s! If any disinterested spectator could have glanced casually at Mr.
Golyadkin’s painful progress, he would certainly have said that Mr. Golyadki_ooked as though he wanted to hide from himself, as though he were trying t_un away from himself! Yes! It was really so. One may say more: Mr. Golyadki_id not want only to run away from himself, but to be obliterated, to cease t_e, to return to dust. At the moment he took in nothing surrounding him,
understood nothing of what was going on about him, and looked as though th_iseries of the stormy night, of the long tramp, the rain, the snow, the wind,
all the cruelty of the weather, did not exist for him. The golosh slipping of_he boot on Mr. Golyadkin’s right foot was left behind in the snow and slus_n the pavement of Fontanka, and Mr. Golyadkin did not think of turning bac_o get it, did not, in fact, notice that he had lost it. He was so perplexe_hat, in spite of everything surrounding him, he stood several times stoc_till in the middle of the pavement, completely possessed by the thought o_is recent horrible humiliation; at that instant he was dying, disappearing;
then he suddenly set off again like mad and ran and ran without looking back,
as though he were pursued, as though he were fleeing from some still mor_wful calamity. . . . The position was truly awful! . . . At last Mr.
Golyadkin halted in exhaustion, leaned on the railing in the attitude of a ma_hose nose has suddenly begun to bleed, and began looking intently at th_lack and troubled waters of the canal. All that is known is that at tha_nstant Mr. Golyadkin reached such a pitch of despair, was so harassed, s_ortured, so exhausted, and so weakened in what feeble faculties were left hi_hat he forgot everything, forgot the Ismailovsky Bridge, forgo_hestilavotchny Street, forgot his present plight . . . After all, what did i_atter to him? The thing was done. The decision was affirmed and ratified;
what could he do? All at once . . . all at once he started and involuntaril_kipped a couple of paces aside. With unaccountable uneasiness he began gazin_bout him; but no one was there, nothing special had happened, and yet . . .
and yet he fancied that just now, that very minute, some one was standing nea_im, beside him, also leaning on the railing, and — marvellous to relate! —
had even said something to him, said something quickly, abruptly, not quit_ntelligibly, but something quite private, something concerning himself.
“Why, was it my fancy?” said Mr. Golyadkin, looking round once more. “Bu_here am I standing? . . . Ech, ech,” he thought finally, shaking his head,
though he began gazing with an uneasy, miserable feeling into the damp, murk_istance, straining his sight and doing his utmost to pierce with his short-
sighted eyes the wet darkness that stretched all round him. There was nothin_ew, however, nothing special caught the eye of Mr. Golyadkin. Everythin_eemed to be all right, as it should be, that is, the snow was falling mor_iolently, more thickly and in larger flakes, nothing could be seen twent_aces away, the lamp-posts creaked more shrilly than ever and the wind seeme_o intone its melancholy song even more tearfully, more piteously, like a_mportunate beggar whining for a copper to get a crust of bread. At the sam_ime a new sensation took possession of Mr. Golyadkin’s whole being: agon_pon agony, terror upon terror . . . a feverish tremor ran through his veins.
The moment was insufferably unpleasant! “Well, no matter; perhaps it’s n_atter at all, and there’s no stain on any one’s honour. Perhaps it’s as i_hould be,” he went on, without understanding what he was saying. “Perhaps i_ill all be for the best in the end, and there will be nothing to complain of,
and every one will be justified.”
Talking like this and comforting himself with words, Mr. Golyadkin shoo_imself a little, shook off the snow which had drifted in thick layers on hi_at, his collar, his overcoat, his tie, his boots and everything — but hi_trange feeling, his strange obscure misery he could not get rid of, could no_hake off. Somewhere in the distance there was the boom of a cannon shot.
“Ach, what weather!” thought our hero. “Tchoo! isn’t there going to be _lood? It seems as though the water has risen so violently.”
Mr. Golyadkin had hardly said or thought this when he saw a person comin_owards him, belated, no doubt, like him, through some accident. A_nimportant, casual incident, one might suppose, but for some unknown reaso_r. Golyadkin was troubled, even scared, and rather flurried. It was not tha_e was exactly afraid of some ill-intentioned man, but just that “perhaps . .
. after all, who knows, this belated individual,” flashed through Mr.
Golyadkin’s mind, “maybe he’s that very thing, maybe he’s the very principa_hing in it, and isn’t here for nothing, but is here with an object, crossin_y path and provoking me.” Possibly, however, he did not think this precisely,
but only had a passing feeling of something like it — and very unpleasant.
There was no time, however, for thinking and feeling. The stranger was alread_ithin two paces. Mr. Golyadkin, as he invariably did, hastened to assume _uite peculiar air, an air that expressed clearly that he, Golyadkin, kep_imself to himself, that he was “all right,” that the road was wide enough fo_ll, and that he, Golyadkin, was not interfering with any one. Suddenly h_topped short as though petrified, as though struck by lightning, and quickl_urned round after the figure which had only just passed him — turned a_hough some one had given him a tug from behind, as though the wind had turne_im like a weathercock. The passer-by vanished quickly in the snowstorm. He,
too, walked quickly; he was dressed like Mr. Golyadkin and, like him, too,
wrapped up from head to foot, and he, too, tripped and trotted along th_avement of Fontanka with rapid little steps that suggested that he was _ittle scared.
“What — what is it?” whispered Mr. Golyadkin, smiling mistrustfully, though h_rembled all over. An icy shiver ran down his back. Meanwhile, the strange_ad vanished completely; there was no sound of his step, while Mr. Golyadki_till stood and gazed after him. At last, however, he gradually came t_imself.
“Why, what’s the meaning of it?” he thought with vexation. “Why, have I reall_one out of my mind, or what?” He turned and went on his way, making hi_ootsteps more rapid and frequent, and doing his best not to think of anythin_t all. He even closed his eyes at last with the same object. Suddenly,
through the howling of the wind and the uproar of the storm, the sound o_teps very close at hand reached his ears again. He started and opened hi_yes. Again a rapidly approaching figure stood out black before him, som_wenty paces away. This little figure was hastening, tripping along, hurryin_ervously; the distance between them grew rapidly less. Mr. Golyadkin could b_ow get a full view of the second belated companion. He looked full at him an_ried out with amazement and horror; his legs gave way under him. It was th_ame individual who had passed him ten minutes before, and who now quit_nexpectedly turned up facing him again. But this was not the only marvel tha_truck Mr. Golyadkin. He was so amazed that he stood still, cried out, trie_o say something, and rushed to overtake the stranger, even shouted somethin_o him, probably anxious to stop him as quickly as possible. The stranger did,
in fact, stop ten paces from Mr. Golyadkin, so that the light from the lamp-
post that stood near fell full upon his whole figure — stood still, turned t_r. Golyadkin, and with impatient and anxious face waited to hear what h_ould say.
“Excuse me, possibly I’m mistaken,” our hero brought out in a quavering voice.
The stranger in silence, and with an air of annoyance, turned and rapidly wen_n his way, as though in haste to make up for the two seconds he had wasted o_r. Golyadkin. As for the latter, he was quivering in every nerve, his knee_hook and gave way under him, and with a moan he squatted on a stone at th_dge of the pavement. There really was reason, however, for his being s_verwhelmed. The fact is that this stranger seemed to him somehow familiar.
That would have been nothing, though. But he recognised, almost certainl_ecognised this man. He had often seen him, that man, had seen him some time,
and very lately too; where could it have been? Surely not yesterday? But,
again, that was not the chief thing that Mr. Golyadkin had often seen hi_efore; there was hardly anything special about the man; the man at firs_ight would not have aroused any special attention. He was just a man like an_ne else, a gentleman like all other gentlemen, of course, and perhaps he ha_ome good qualities and very valuable one too — in fact, he was a man who wa_uite himself. Mr. Golyadkin cherished no sort of hatred or enmity, not eve_he slightest hostility towards this man — quite the contrary, it would seem,
indeed — and yet (and this was the real point) he would not for any treasur_n earth have been willing to meet that man, and especially to meet him as h_ad done now, for instance. We may say more: Mr. Golyadkin knew that ma_erfectly well: he even knew what he was called, what his name was; and ye_othing would have induced him, and again, for no treasure on earth would h_ave consented to name him, to consent to acknowledge that he was called so-
and-so, that his father’s name was this and his surname was that. Whether Mr.
Golyadkin’s stupefaction lasted a short time or a long time, whether he wa_itting for a long time on the stone of the pavement I cannot say; but,
recovering himself a little at last, he suddenly fell to running, withou_ooking round, as fast as his legs could carry him; his mind was preoccupied,
twice he stumbled and almost fell — and through this circumstance his othe_oot was also bereaved of its golosh. At last Mr. Golyadkin slackened his pac_ little to get breath, looked hurriedly round and saw that he had already,
without being aware of it, run passed part of the Nevsky Prospect and was no_tanding at the turning into Liteyny Street. Mr. Golyadkin turned into Liteyn_treet. His position at that instant was like that of a man standing at th_dge of a fearful precipice, while the earth is bursting open under him, i_lready shaking, moving, rocking for the last time, falling, drawing him int_he abyss, and yet, the luckless wretch has not the strength, nor th_esolution, to leap back, to avert his eyes from the yawning gulf below; th_byss draws him and at last he leaps into it of himself, himself hastening th_oment of destruction. Mr. Golyadkin knew, felt and was firmly convinced tha_ome other evil would certainly befall him on the way, that som_npleasantness would overtake him, that he would, for instance, meet hi_tranger once more: but — strange to say, he positively desired this meeting,
considered it inevitable, and all he asked was that it might all be quickl_ver, that he should be relieved from his position in one way or another, bu_s soon as possible. And meanwhile he ran on and on, as though moved by som_xternal force, for he felt a weakness and numbness in his whole being: h_ould not think of anything, though his thoughts caught at everything lik_rambles. A little lost dog, soaked and shivering, attached itself to Mr.
Golyadkin, and ran beside him, scurrying along with tail and ears drooping,
looking at him from time to time with timid comprehension. Some remote, long-
forgotten idea — some memory of something that had happened long ago — cam_ack into his mind now, kept knocking at his brain as with a hammer, vexin_im and refusing to be shaken off.
“Ech, that horrid little cur!” whispered Mr. Golyadkin, not understandin_imself.
At last he saw his stranger at the turning into Italyansky Street. But thi_ime the stranger was not coming to meet him, but was running in the sam_irection as he was, and he, too, was running, a few steps in front. At las_hey turned into Shestilavotchny Street.
Mr. Golyadkin caught his breath. The stranger stopped exactly before the hous_n which Mr. Golyadkin lodged. He heard a ring at the bell and almost at th_ame time the grating of the iron bolt. The gate opened, the stranger stooped,
darted in and disappeared. Almost at the same instant Mr. Golyadkin reache_he spot and like an arrow flew in at the gate. Heedless of the grumblin_orter, he ran, gasping for breath, into the yard, and immediately saw hi_nteresting companion, whom he had lost sight of for a moment.
The stranger darted towards the staircase which led to Mr. Golyadkin’s flat.
Mr. Golyadkin rushed after him. The stairs were dark, damp and dirt. At ever_urning there were heaped-up masses of refuse from the flats, so that an_naccustomed stranger who found himself on the stairs in the dark was force_o travel to and fro for half an hour in danger of breaking his legs, cursin_he stairs as well as the friends who lived in such an inconvenient place. Bu_r. Golyadkin’s companion seemed as though familiar with it, as though a_ome; he ran up lightly, without difficulty, showing a perfect knowledge o_is surroundings. Mr. Golyadkin had almost caught him up; in fact, once o_wice the stranger’s coat flicked him on the nose. His heart stood still. Th_tranger stopped before the door of Mr. Golyadkin’s flat, knocked on it, and
(which would, however, have surprised Mr. Golyadkin at any other time)
Petrushka, as though he had been sitting up in expectation, opened the door a_nce and, with a candle in his hand, followed the strange as the latter wen_n. The hero of our story dashed into his lodging beside himself; withou_aking off his hat or coat he crossed the little passage and stood still i_he doorway of his room, as though thunderstruck. All his presentiments ha_ome true. All that he had dreaded and surmised was coming to pass in reality.
His breath failed him, his head was in a whirl. The stranger, also in his coa_nd hat, was sitting before him on his bed, and with a faint smile, screwin_p his eyes, nodded to him in a friendly way. Mr. Golyadkin wanted to scream,
but could not — to protest in some way, but his strength failed him. His hai_tood on end, and he almost fell down with horror. And, indeed, there was goo_eason. He recognised his nocturnal visitor. The nocturnal visitor was n_ther than himself — Mr. Golyadkin himself, another Mr. Golyadkin, bu_bsolutely the same as himself — in fact, what is called a double in ever_espect…