. . . It seemed as though the weather meant to change for the better. The snow, which had till then been coming down in regular clouds, began growing visible and here and there tiny stars sparkled in it. It was only wet, muddy, damp and stifling, especially for Mr. Golyadkin, who could hardly breathe as it was. His greatcoat, soaked and heavy with wet, sent a sort of unpleasant warm dampness all through him and weighed down his exhausted legs. A feverish shiver sent sharp, shooting pains all over him; he was in a painful cold sweat of exhaustion, so much so that Mr. Golyadkin even forgot to repeat at every suitable occasion with his characteristic firmness and resolution his favourite phrase that “it all, maybe, most likely, indeed, might turn out for the best.” “But all this does not matter for the time,” our hero repeated, still staunch and not downhearted, wiping from his face the cold drops that streamed in all directions from the brim of his round hat, which was so soaked that it could hold no more water. Adding that all this was nothing so far, our hero tried to sit on a rather thick clump of wood, which was lying near a heap of logs in Olsufy Ivanovitch’s yard. Of course, it was no good thinking of Spanish serenades or silken ladders, but it was quite necessary to think of a modest corner, snug and private, if not altogether warm. He felt greatly tempted, we may mention in passing, by that corner in the back entry of Olsufy Ivanovitch’s flat in which he had once, almost at the beginning of this true story, stood for two hours between a cupboard and an old screen among all sorts of domestic odds and ends and useless litter. The fact is that Mr. Golyadkin had been standing waiting for two whole hours on this occasion in Olsufy Ivanovitch’s yard. But in regard to that modest and snug little corner there were certain drawbacks which had not existed before. The first drawback was the fact that it was probably now a marked place and that certain precautionary measures had been taken in regard to it since the scandal at Olsufy Ivanovitch’s last ball. Secondly, he had to wait for a signal from Klara Olsufyevna, for there was bound to be some such signal, it was always a feature in such cases and, “it didn’t begin with us and it won’t end with us.”
At this point Mr. Golyadkin very appropriately remembered a novel he had read long ago in which the heroine, in precisely similar circumstances, signalled to Alfred by tying a pink ribbon to her window. But now, at night, in the climate of Petersburg, famous for its dampness and unreliability, a pink ribbon was hardly appropriate and, in fact, was utterly out of the question.
“No, it’s not a matter of silk ladders,” thought our hero, “and I had better stay here quietly and comfortably . . . I had better stand here.”
And he selected a place in the yard exactly opposite the window, near a stack of firewood. Of course, many persons, grooms and coachmen, were continually crossing the yard, and there was, besides, the rumbling of wheels and the snorting of horses and so on; yet it was a convenient place, whether he was observed or not; but now, anyway, there was the advantage of being to some extent in the shadow, and no one could see Mr. Golyadkin while he himself could see everything.
The windows were brightly lit up, there was some sort of ceremonious party at Olsufy Ivanovitch’s. But he could hear no music as yet.
“So it’s not a ball, but a party of some other sort,” thought our hero, somewhat aghast. “Is it today?” floated the doubt through him. “Have I made a mistake in the date? Perhaps; anything is possible. . . . Yes, to be sure, anything is possible . . . Perhaps she wrote a letter to me yesterday, and it didn’t reach me, and perhaps it did not reach me because Petrushka put his spoke in, the rascal! Or it was tomorrow, that is — wait with a carriage . . . .”
At this point our hero turned cold all over and felt in his pocket for the letter, to make sure. But to his surprise the letter was not in his pocket.
“How’s this?” muttered Mr. Golyadkin, more dead than alive. “Where did I leave it? Then I must have lost it. That is the last straw!” he moaned at last. “Oh, if it falls into evil hands! Perhaps it has already. Good Lord! What may it not lead to! It may lead to something such that . . . Ach, my miserable fate!” At this point Mr. Golyadkin began trembling like a leaf at the thought that perhaps his vicious twin had thrown the greatcoat at him with the object of stealing the letter of which he had somehow got an inkling from Mr. Golyadkin’s enemies.
“What’s more, he’s stealing it,” thought our hero, “as evidence . . . but why evidence! . . .”
After the first shock of horror, the blood rushed to Mr. Golyadkin’s head. Moaning and gnashing his teeth, he clutched his burning head, sank back on his block of wood and relapsed into brooding. . . . But he could form no coherent thought. Figures kept flitting through his brain, incidents came back to his memory, now vaguely, now very distinctly, the tunes of some foolish songs kept ringing in his ears. . . . He was in great distress, unnatural distress!
“My God, my God!” our hero thought, recovering himself a little, and suppressing a muffled sob, “give me fortitude in the immensity of my afflictions! That I am done for, utterly destroyed — of that there can be no doubt, and that’s all in the natural order of things, since it cannot be otherwise. To begin with, I’ve lost my berth, I’ve certainly lost it, I must have lost it . . . Well, supposing things are set right somehow. Supposing I have money enough to begin with: I must have another lodging, furniture of some sort. . . . In the first place, I shan’t have Petrushka. I can get on without the rascal . . . somehow, with help from the people of the house; well, that will be all right! I can go in and out when I like, and Petrushka won’t grumble at my coming in late — yes, that is so; that’s why it’s a good thing to have the people in the house. . . . Well, supposing that’s all right; but all that’s nothing to do with it.”
At this point the thought of the real position again dawned upon Mr. Golyadkin’s memory. He looked round.
“Oh, Lord, have mercy on me, have mercy on me! What am I talking about?” he thought, growing utterly desperate and clutching his burning head in his hands . . . .
“Won’t you soon be going, sir?” a voice pronounced above Mr. Golyadkin. Our hero started; before him stood his cabman, who was also drenched through and shivering; growing impatient, and having nothing to do, he had thought fit to take a look at Mr. Golyadkin behind the woodstack.
“I am all right, my friend . . . I am coming soon, soon, very soon; you wait . . .”
The cabman walked away, grumbling to himself. “What is he grumbling about?” Mr. Golyadkin wondered through his tears. “Why, I have hired him for the evening, why, I’m . . . within my rights now . . . that’s so! I’ve hired him for the evening and that’s the end of it. If one stands still, it’s just the same. That’s for me to decide. I am free to drive on or not to drive on. And my staying here by the woodstack has nothing to do with the case . . . and don’t dare to say anything; think, the gentleman wants to stand behind the woodstack, and so he’s standing behind it . . . and he is not disgracing any one’s honour! That’s the fact of the matter.
“I tell you what is it is, madam, if you care to know. Nowadays, madam, nobody lives in a hut, or anything of that sort. No, indeed. And in our industrial age there’s no getting on without morality, a fact of which you are a fatal example, madam . . . You say we must get a job as a register clerk and live in a hut on the sea-shore. In the first place, madam, there are no register clerks on the sea-shore, and in the second place we can’t get a job as a register clerk. For supposing, for example, I send in a petition, present myself — saying a register clerk’s place or something of the sort . . . and defend me from my enemy . . . they’ll tell you, madam, they’ll say, to be sure . . . we’ve lots of register clerks, and here you are not at Madame Falbalas’, where you learnt the rules of good behaviour of which you are a fatal example. Good behaviour, madam, means staying at home, honouring your father and not thinking about suitors prematurely. Suitors will come in good time, madam, that’s so! Of course, you are bound to have some accomplishments, such as playing the piano sometimes, speaking French, history, geography, scripture and arithmetic, that’s the truth of it! And that’s all you need. Cooking, too, cooking certainly forms part of the education of a well-behaved girl! But as it is, in the first place, my fine lady, they won’t let you go, they’ll raise a hue and cry after you, and then they’ll lock you up in a nunnery. How will it be then, madam? What will you have me do then? Would you have me, madam, follow the example of some stupid novels, and melt into tears on a neighbouring hillock, gazing at the cold walls of your prison house, and finally die, following the example of some wretched German poets and novelists. Is that it, madam? But, to begin with, allow me to tell you, as a friend, that things are not done like that, and in the second place I would have given you and your parents, too, a good thrashing for letting you read French books; for French books teach you no good. There’s a poison in them . . . a pernicious poison, madam! Or do you imagine, allow me to ask you, or do you imagine that we shall elope with impunity, or something of that sort . . . that we shall have a hut on the shore of the sea and so on; and that we shall begin billing and cooing and talking about our feelings, and that so we shall spend our lives in happiness and content; and then there would be little ones — so then we shall . . . shall go to our father, the civil councillor, Olsufy Ivanovitch, and say, ‘we’ve got a little one, and so, on this propitious occasion remove your curse, and bless the couple.’ No, madam, I tell you again, that’s not the way to do things, and for the first thing there’ll be no billing and cooing and please don’t reckon on it. Nowadays, madam, the husband is the master and a good, well-brought-up wife should try and please him in every way. And endearments, madam, are not in favour, nowadays, in our industrial age; the day of Jean Jacques Rousseau is over. The husband comes home, for instance, hungry from the office, and asks, ‘Isn’t there something to eat, my love, a drop of vodka to drink, a bit of salt fish to eat?’ So then, madam, you must have the vodka and the herring ready. Your husband will eat it with relish, and he won’t so much as look at you, he’ll only say ‘Run into the kitchen, kitten,’ he’ll say, ‘and look after the dinner, and at most, once a week, he’ll kiss you, even then rather indifferently . . . That’s how it will be with us, my young lady! Yes, even then indifferently. . . . That’s how it will be, if one considers it, if it has come to one’s looking at the thing in that way. . . . And how do I come in? Why have you mixed me up in your caprices? ‘The noble man who is suffering for your sake and will be dear to your heart for ever,’ and so on. but in the first place, madam, I am not suited to you, you know yourself, I’m not a great hand at compliments, I’m not fond of uttering perfumed trifles for the ladies. I’m not fond of lady-killers, and I must own I’ve never been a beauty to look at. You won’t find any swagger or false shame in me, and I tell you so now in all sincerity. This is the fact of the matter: we can boast of nothing but a straightforward, open character and common sense; we have nothing to do with intrigues. I am not one to intrigue, I say so and I’m proud of it — that’s the fact of the matter! . . . I wear no mask among straightforward people, and to tell you the whole truth . . . .”
Suddenly Mr. Golyadkin started. The red and perfectly sopping beard of the cabman appeared round the woodstack again . . . .
“I am coming directly, my friend. I’m coming at once, you know,” Mr. Golyadkin responded in a trembling and failing voice.
The cabman scratched his head, then stroked his beard, and moved a step forward . . . stood still and looked suspiciously at Mr. Golyadkin.
“I am coming directly, my friend; you see, my friend . . . I . . . just a little, you see, only a second! . . . more . . . here, you see, my friend . . . .”
“Aren’t you coming at all?” the cabman asked at last, definitely coming up to Mr. Golyadkin.
“No, my friend, I’m coming directly. I am waiting, you see, my friend . . . .”
“So I see . . .”
“You see, my friend, I . . . What part of the country do you come from, my friend?”
“We are under a master . . .”
“And have you a good master? . . .”
“All right . . .”
“Yes, my friend; you stay here, my friend, you see . . . Have you been in Petersburg long, my friend?”
“It’s a year since I came . . .”
“And are you getting on all right, my friend?”
“To be sure, my friend, to be sure. You must thank Providence, my friend. You must look out for straightforward people. Straightforward people are none too common nowadays, my friend; he would give you washing, food, and drink, my good fellow, a good man would. But sometimes you see tears shed for the sake of gold, my friend . . . you see a lamentable example; that’s the fact of the matter, my friend . . . .”
The cabman seemed to feel sorry for Mr. Golyadkin. “Well, your honour, I’ll wait. Will your honour be waiting long?”
“No, my friend, no; I . . . you know . . . I won’t wait any longer, my good man . . . What do you think, my friend? I rely upon you. I won’t stay any longer.”
“Aren’t you going at all?”
“No, my friend, no; I’ll reward you, my friend . . . that’s the fact of the matter. How much ought I to give you, my dear fellow?”
“What you hired me for, please, sir. I’ve been waiting here a long time; don’t be hard on a man, sir.”
“Well, here, my good man, here.”
At this point Mr. Golyadkin gave six roubles to the cabman, and made up his mind in earnest to waste no more time, that is, to clear off straight away, especially as the cabman was dismissed and everything was over, and so it was useless to wait longer. He rushed out of the yard, went out of the gate, turned to the left and without looking round took to his heels, breathless and rejoicing. “Perhaps it will all be for the best,” he thought, “and perhaps in this way I’ve run away from trouble.” Mr. Golyadkin suddenly became all at once light-hearted. “Oh, if only it could turn out for the best!” thought our hero, though he put little faith in his own words. “I know what I’ll do . . .” he thought. “No, I know, I’d better try the other tack . . . Or wouldn’t it be better to do this? . . .” In this way, hesitating and seeking for the solution of his doubts, our hero ran to Semyonovsky Bridge; but while running to Semyonovsky Bridge he very rationally and conclusively decided to return.
“It will be better so,” he thought. “I had better try the other tack, that is . . . I will just go — I’ll look on simply as an outsider, an outsider — and nothing more, whatever happens — it’s not my fault, that’s the fact of the matter! That’s how it shall be now.”
Deciding to return, our hero actually did return, the more readily because with this happy thought he conceived of himself now as quite an outsider.
“It’s the best thing; one’s not responsible for anything, and one will see all that’s necessary . . . that’s the fact of the matter!”
It was a safe plan and that settled it. Reassured, he crept back under the peaceful shelter of his soothing and protecting woodstack, and began gazing intently at the window. This time he was not destined to gaze and wait long. Suddenly a strange commotion became apparent at all the windows. Figures appeared, curtains were drawn back, whole groups of people were crowding to the windows at Olsufy Ivanovitch’s flat. All were peeping out looking for something in the yard. From the security of his woodstack, our hero, too, began with curiosity watching the general commotion, and with interest craned forward to right and to left so far as he could within the shadow of the woodstack. Suddenly he started, held his breath and almost sat down with horror. It seemed to him — in short, he realized, that they were looking for nothing and for nobody but him, Mr. Golyadkin! Every one was looking in his direction. It was impossible to escape; they saw him . . . In a flutter, Mr. Golyadkin huddled as closely as he could to the woodstack, and only then noticed that the treacherous shadow had betrayed him, that it did not cover him completely. Our hero would have been delighted at that moment to creep into a mouse-hole in the woodstack, and there meekly to remain, if only it had been possible. But it was absolutely impossible. In his agony he began at last staring openly and boldly at the windows, it was the best thing to do. . . . And suddenly he glowed with shame. He had been fully discovered, every one was staring at him at once, they were all waving their hands, all were nodding their heads at him, all were calling to him; then several windows creaked as they opened, several voices shouted something to him at once . . . .
“I wonder why they don’t whip these naughty girls as children,” our hero muttered to himself, losing his head completely. Suddenly there ran <--? --> down the steps he (we know who), without his hat or greatcoat, breathless, rubbing his hands, wriggling, capering, perfidiously displaying intense joy at seeing Mr. Golyadkin.
“Yakov Petrovitch,” whispered this individual, so notorious for his worthlessness, “Yakov Petrovitch, are you here? You’ll catch cold. It’s chilly here, Yakov Petrovitch. Come indoors.”
“Yakov Petrovitch! No, I’m all right, Yakov Petrovitch,” our hero muttered in a submissive voice.
“No, this won’t do, Yakov Petrovitch, I beg you, I humbly beg you to wait with us. ‘Make him welcome and bring him in,’ they say, ‘Yakov Petrovitch.’”
“No, Yakov Petrovitch, you see, I’d better . . . I had better go home, Yakov Petrovitch . . .” said our hero, burning at a slow fire and freezing at the same time with shame and terror.
“No — no — no — no!” whispered the loathsome person. “No — no — no, on no account! Come along,” he said resolutely, and he dragged Mr. Golyadkin senior to the steps. Mr. Golyadkin senior did not at all want to go, but as every one was looking at them, it would have been stupid to struggle and resist; so our hero went — though, indeed, one cannot say that he went, because he did not know in the least what was being done with him. Though, after all, it made no difference!
Before our hero had time to recover himself and come to his senses, he found himself in the drawing-room. He was pale, dishevelled, harassed; with lustreless eyes he scanned the crowd — horror! The drawing-room, all the rooms — were full to overflowing. There were masses of people, a whole galaxy of ladies; and all were crowding round Mr. Golyadkin and he perceived clearly that they were all forcing him in one direction.
“Not towards the door,” was the thought that floated through Mr. Golyadkin’s mind.
They were, in fact, forcing him not towards the door but Olsufy Ivanovitch’s easy chair. On one side of the armchair stood Klara Olsufyevna, pale, languid, melancholy, but gorgeously dressed. Mr. Golyadkin was particularly struck by a little white flower which rested on her superb hair. On the other side of the armchair stood Vladimir Semyonovitch, clad in black, with his new order in his buttonhole. Mr. Golyadkin was led in, as we have described above, straight up to Olsufy Ivanovitch — on one side of him Mr. Golyadkin junior, who had assumed an air of great decorum and propriety, to the immense relief of our hero, while on the other side was Andrey Filippovitch, with a very solemn expression on his face.
“What can it mean?” Mr. Golyadkin wondered.
When he saw that he was being led to Olsufy Ivanovitch, an idea struck him like a flash of lightning. The thought of the intercepted letter darted through his brain. In great agony our hero stood before Olsufy Ivanovitch’s chair.
“What will he say now?” he wondered to himself. “Of course, it will be all aboveboard now, that is, straightforward and, one may say, honourable; I shall say this is how it is, and so on.”
But what our hero apparently feared did not happen. Olsufy Ivanovitch received Mr. Golyadkin very warmly, and though he did not hold out his hand to him, yet as he gazed at our hero, he shook his grey and venerable head — shook it with an air of solemn melancholy and yet of goodwill. So, at least, it seemed to Mr. Golyadkin. He even fancied that a tear glittered in Olsufy Ivanovitch’s lustreless eyes; he raised his eyes and saw that there seemed to be tears, too, on the eyelashes of Klara Olsufyevna, who was standing by — that there seemed to be something of the same sort even in the eyes of Vladimir Semyonovitch — that the unruffled and composed dignity of Andrey Filippovitch has the same significance as the general tearful sympathy — that even the young man who was so much like a civil councillor, seizing the opportunity, was sobbing bitterly. . . . Though perhaps this was only all Mr. Golyadkin’s fancy, because he was so much moved himself, and distinctly felt the hot tears running down his cheeks . . . .
Feeling reconciled with mankind and his destiny, and filled with love at the moment, not only for Olsufy Ivanovitch, not only for the whole part collected there, but even for his noxious twin (who seemed now to be by no means noxious, and not even to be his twin at all, but a person very agreeable in himself and in no way connected with him), our hero, in a voice broken with sobs, tried to express his feelings to Olsufy Ivanovitch, but was too much overcome by all that he had gone through, and could not utter a word; he could only, with an expressive gesture, point meekly to his heart. . .
At last, probably to spare the feelings of the old man, Andrey Filippovitch led Mr. Golyadkin a little away, though he seemed to leave him free to do as he liked. Smiling, muttering something to himself, somewhat bewildered, yet almost completely reconciled with fate and his fellow creatures, our hero began to make his way through the crowd of guests. Every one made way for him, every one looked at him with strange curiosity and with mysterious, unaccountable sympathy. Our hero went into another room; he met with the same attention everywhere; he was vaguely conscious of the whole crowd closely following him, noting every step he took, talking in undertones among themselves of something very interesting, shaking their heads, arguing and discussing in whispers. Mr. Golyadkin wanted very much to know what they were discussing in whispers. Looking round, he saw near him Mr. Golyadkin junior. Feeling an overwhelming impulse to seize his hand and draw him aside, Mr. Golyadkin begged the other Yakov Petrovitch most particularly to co-operate with him in all his future undertakings, and not to abandon him at a critical moment. Mr. Golyadkin junior nodded his head gravely and warmly pressed the hand of Mr. Golyadkin senior. Our hero’s heart was quivering with the intensity of his emotion. He was gasping for breath, however; he felt so oppressed — so oppressed; he felt that all those eyes fastened upon him were oppressing and dominating him . . . . Mr. Golyadkin caught a glimpse of the councillor who wore a wig. The latter was looking at him with a stern, searching eye, not in the least softened by the general sympathy . . . .
Our hero made up his mind to go straight up to him in order to smile at him and have an immediate explanation, but this somehow did not come off. For one instant Mr. Golyadkin became almost unconscious, almost lost all memory, all feeling.
When he came to himself again he noticed that he was the centre of a large ring formed by the rest of the party round him. Suddenly Mr. Golyadkin’s name was called from the other room; noise and excitement, all rushed to the door of the first room, almost carrying our hero along with them. In the crush the hard-hearted councillor in the wig was side by side with Mr. Golyadkin, and, taking our hero by the hand, he made him sit down opposite Olsufy Ivanovitch, at some distance from the latter, however. Every one in the room sat down; the guests were arranged in rows round Mr. Golyadkin and Olsufy Ivanovitch. Everything was hushed; every one preserved a solemn silence; every one was watching Olsufy Ivanovitch, evidently expecting something out of the ordinary. Mr. Golyadkin noticed that beside Olsufy Ivanovitch’s chair and directly facing the councillor sat Mr. Golyadkin junior, with Andrey Filippovitch. The silence was prolonged; they were evidently expecting something.
“Just as it is in a family when some one is setting off on a far journey. We’ve only to stand up and pray now,” thought our hero.
Suddenly there was a general stir which interrupted Mr. Golyadkin’s reflections. Something they had been waiting for happened.
“He is coming, he is coming!” passed from one to another in the crowd.
“Who is it that is coming?” floated through Mr. Golyadkin’s mind, and he shuddered at a strange sensation. “High time too!” said the councillor, looking intently at Andrey Ivanovitch. Andrey Filippovitch, for his part, glanced at Olsufy Ivanovitch. Olsufy Ivanovitch gravely and solemnly nodded his head.
“Let us stand up,” said the councillor, and he made Mr. Golyadkin get up. All rose to their feet. Then the councillor took Mr. Golyadkin senior by the hand, and Andrey Filippovitch took Mr. Golyadkin junior, and in this way these two precisely similar persons were conducted through the expectant crowd surrounding them. Our hero looked about him in perplexity; but he was at once checked and his attention was called to Mr. Golyadkin junior, who was holding out his hand to him.
“They want to reconcile us,” thought our hero, and with emotion he held out his hand to Mr. Golyadkin junior; and then — then bent his head forward towards him. The other Mr. Golyadkin did the same . . . .
At this point it seemed to Mr. Golyadkin senior that his perfidious friend was smiling, that he gave a sly, hurried wink to the crowd of onlookers, and that there was something sinister in the face of the worthless Mr. Golyadkin junior, that he even made a grimace at the moment of his Judas kiss . . . .
There was a ringing in Mr. Golyadkin’s ears, and a darkness before his eyes; it seemed to him that an infinite multitude, an unending series of precisely similar Golyadkins were noisily bursting in at every door of the room; but it was too late. . . . the resounding, treacherous kiss was over, and . . .
Then quite an unexpected event occurred. . . . The door opened noisily, and in the doorway stood a man, the very sight of whom sent a chill to Mr. Golyadkin’s heart. He stood rooted to the spot. A cry of horror died away in his choking throat. Yet Mr. Golyadkin knew it all beforehand, and had had a presentiment of something of the sort for a long time. The new arrival went up to Mr. Golyadkin gravely and solemnly. Mr. Golyadkin knew this personage very well. He had seen him before, had seen him very often, had seen him that day . . . This personage was a tall, thick-set man in a black dress-coat with a good-sized cross on his breast, and was possessed of thick, very black whiskers; nothing was lacking but the cigar in the mouth to complete the picture. Yet this person’s eyes, as we have mentioned already, sent a chill to the heart of Mr. Golyadkin. With a grave and solemn air this terrible man approached the pitiable hero of our story. . . . Our hero held out his hand to him; the stranger took his hand and drew him along with him . . . With a crushed and desperate air our hero looked about him.
“It’s . . . it’s Krestyan Ivanovitch Rutenspitz, doctor of medicine and surgery; your old acquaintance, Yakov Petrovitch!” a detestable voice whispered in Mr. Golyadkin’s ear. He looked around: it was Mr. Golyadkin’s twin, so revolting in the despicable meanness of his soul. A malicious, indecent joy shone in his countenance; he was rubbing his hands with rapture, he was turning his head from side to side in ecstasy, he was fawning round every one in delight and seemed ready to dance with glee. At last he pranced forward, took a candle from one of the servants and walked in front, showing the way to Mr. Golyadkin and Krestyan Ivanovitch. Mr. Golyadkin heard the whole party in the drawing-room rush after him, crowding and squeezing one another, and all beginning to repeat after Mr. Golyadkin himself, “It is all right, don’t be afraid, Yakov Petrovitch; this is your old friend and acquaintance, you know, Krestyan Ivanovitch Rutenspitz. . .”
At last they came out on the brightly lighted stairs; there was a crowd of people on the stairs too. The front door was thrown open noisily, and Mr. Golyadkin found himself on the steps, together with Krestyan Ivanovitch. At the entrance stood a carriage with four horses that were snorting with impatience. The malignant Mr. Golyadkin junior in three bounds flew down the stair and opened the carriage door himself. Krestyan Ivanovitch, with an impressive gesture, asked Mr. Golyadkin to get in. There was no need of the impressive gesture, however; there were plenty of people to help him in. . . . Faint with horror, Mr. Golyadkin looked back. The whole of the brightly lighted staircase was crowded with people; inquisitive eyes were looking at him from all sides; Olsufy Ivanovitch himself was sitting in his easy chair on the top landing, and watching all that took place with deep interest. Every one was waiting. A murmur of impatience passed through the crowd when Mr. Golyadkin looked back.
“I hope I have done nothing . . . nothing reprehensible . . . or that can call for severity . . . and general attention in regard to my official relations,” our hero brought out in desperation. A clamour of talk rose all round him, all were shaking their head, tears started from Mr. Golyadkin’s eyes.
“In that case I’m ready . . . I have full confidence . . . and I entrust my fate to Krestyan Ivanovitch . . . .”
No sooner had Mr. Golyadkin declared that he entrusted his fate to Krestyan Ivanovitch than a dreadful, deafening shout of joy came from all surrounding him and was repeated in a sinister echo through the whole of the waiting crowd. Then Krestyan Ivanovitch on one side and Andrey Filippovitch on the other helped Mr. Golyadkin into the carriage; his double, in his usual nasty way, was helping to get him in from behind. The unhappy Mr. Golyadkin senior took his last look on all and everything, and, shivering like a kitten that has been drenched with cold water — if the comparison may be permitted — got into the carriage. Krestyan Ivanovitch followed him immediately. The carriage door slammed. There was a swish of the whip on the horses’ backs . . . the horses started off. . . . The crowd dashed after Mr. Golyadkin. The shrill, furious shouts of his enemies pursued him by way of good wishes for his journey. For some time several persons were still running by the carriage that bore away Mr. Golyadkin; but by degrees they were left behind, till at last they all disappeared. Mr. Golyadkin’s unworthy twin kept up longer than any one. With his hands in the trouser pockets of his green uniform he ran on with a satisfied air, skipping first to one and then to the other side of the carriage, sometimes catching hold of the window-frame and hanging on by it, poking his head in at the window, and throwing farewell kisses to Mr. Golyadkin. But he began to get tired, he was less and less often to be seen, and at last vanished altogether. There was a dull ache in Mr. Golyadkin’s heart; a hot rush of blood set Mr. Golyadkin’s head throbbing; he felt stifled, he longed to unbutton himself — to bare his breast, to cover it with snow and pour cold water on it. He sank at last into forgetfulness . . . .
When he came to himself, he saw that the horses were taking him along an unfamiliar road. There were dark patches of copse on each side of it; it was desolate and deserted. Suddenly he almost swooned; two fiery eyes were staring at him in the darkness, and those two eyes were glittering with malignant, hellish glee. “That’s not Krestyan Ivanovitch! Who is it? Or is it he? It is. It is Krestyan Ivanovitch, but not the old Krestyan Ivanovitch, it’s another Krestyan Ivanovitch! It’s a terrible Krestyan Ivanovitch!” . . .
“Krestyan Ivanovitch, I . . . I believe . . . I’m all right, Krestyan Ivanovitch,” our hero was beginning timidly in a trembling voice, hoping by his meekness and submission to soften the terrible Krestyan Ivanovitch a little.
“You get free quarters, wood, with light, and service, the which you deserve not,” Krestyan Ivanovitch’s answer rang out, stern and terrible as a judge’s sentence.
Our hero shrieked and clutched his head in his hands. Alas! For a long while he had been haunted by a presentiment of this.
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Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07