All that morning was spent by Mr. Golyadkin in a strange bustle of activity. On reaching the Nevsky Prospect our hero told the driver to stop at the bazaar. Skipping out of his carriage, he ran to the Arcade, accompanied by Petrushka, and went straight to a shop where gold and silver articles were for sale. One could see from his very air that he was overwhelmed with business and had a terrible amount to do. Arranging to purchase a complete dinner — and tea-service for fifteen hundred roubles and including in the bargain for that sum a cigar-case of ingenious form and a silver shaving-set, and finally, asking the price of some other articles, useful and agreeable in their own way, he ended by promising to come without fail next day, or to send for his purchases the same day. He took the number of the shop, and listening attentively to the shopkeeper, who was very pressing for a small deposit, said that he should have it all in good time. After which he took leave of the amazed shopkeeper and, followed by a regular flock of shopmen, walked along the Arcade, continually looking round at Petrushka and diligently seeking our fresh shops. On the way he dropped into a money-changer’s and changed all his big notes into small ones, and though he lost on the exchange, his pocket-book was considerably fatter, which evidently afforded him extreme satisfaction. Finally, he stopped at a shop for ladies’ dress materials. Here, too, after deciding to purchase good for a considerable sum, Mr. Golyadkin promised to come again, took the number of the shop and, on being asked for a deposit, assured the shopkeeper that “he should have a deposit too, all in good time.” Then he visited several other shops, making purchases in each of them, asked the price of various things, sometimes arguing a long time with the shopkeeper, going out of the shop and returning two or three times — in fact he displayed exceptional activity. From the Arcade our hero went to a well-known furniture shop, where he ordered furniture for six rooms; he admired a fashionable and very toilet table for ladies’ use in the latest style, and, assuring the shopkeeper that he would certainly send for all these things, walked out of the shop, as usual promising a deposit. then he went off somewhere else and ordered something more. In short, there seemed to be no end to the business he had to get through. At last, Mr. Golyadkin seemed to grow heartily sick of it all, and he began, goodness knows why, to be tormented by the stings of conscience. Nothing would have induced him now, for instance, to meet Andrey Filippovitch, or even Krestyan Ivanovitch.
At last, the town clock struck three. When Mr. Golyadkin finally took his seat in the carriage, of all the purchases he had made that morning he had, it appeared, in reality only got a pair of gloves and a bottle of scent, that cost a rouble and a half. As it was still rather early, he ordered his coachman to stop near a well-known restaurant in Nevsky Prospect which he only knew by reputation, got out of the carriage, and hurried in to have a light lunch, to rest and to wait for the hour fixed for the dinner.
Lunching as a man lunches who has the prospect before him of going out to a sumptuous dinner, that is, taking a snack of something in order to still the pangs, as they say, and drinking one small glass of vodka, Mr. Golyadkin established himself in an armchair and, modestly looking about him, peacefully settled down to an emaciated nationalist paper. After reading a couple of lines he stood up and looked in the looking-glass, set himself to rights and smoothed himself down; then he went to the window and looked to see whether his carriage was there . . . then he sat down again in his place and took up the paper. It was noticeable that our hero was in great excitement. Glancing at his watch and seeing that it was only a quarter past three and that he had consequently a good time to wait and, at the same time, opining that to sit like that was unsuitable, Mr. Golyadkin ordered chocolate, though he felt no particular inclination for it at the moment. Drinking the chocolate and noticing that the time had moved on a little, he went up to pay his bill.
He turned round and saw facing him two of his colleagues, the same two he had met that morning in Liteyny Street, — young men, very much his juniors both in age and rank. Our hero’s relations with them were neither one thing nor the other, neither particularly friendly nor openly hostile. Good manners were, of course, observed on both sides: there was no closer intimacy, nor could there be. The meeting at this moment was extremely distasteful to Mr. Golyadkin. He frowned a little, and was disconcerted for an instant.
“Yakov Petrovitch, Yakov Petrovitch!” chirped the two register clerks; “you here? what brings you? . . .”
“Ah, it is you, gentlemen,” Mr. Golyadkin interrupted hurriedly, somewhat embarrassed and scandalized by the amazement of the clerks and by the abruptness of their address, but feeling obliged, however, to appear jaunty and free and easy. “You’ve deserted gentlemen, he-he-he . . .” Then, to keep up his dignity and to condescend to the juveniles, with whom he never overstepped certain limits, he attempted to slap one of the youths on the shoulder; but this effort at good fellowship did not succeed and, instead of being a well-bred little jest, produced quite a different effect.
“Well, and our bear, is he still at the office?”
“Who’s that, Yakov Petrovitch?”
“Why, the bear. Do you mean to say you don’t know whose name that is? . . .” Mr. Golyadkin laughed and turned to the cashier to take his change.
“I mean Andrey Filippovitch, gentlemen,” he went on, finishing with the cashier, and turning to the clerks this time with a very serious face. The two register clerks winked at one another.
“He’s still at the office and asking for you, Yakov Petrovitch,” answered one of them.
“At the office, eh! In that case, let him stay, gentlemen. And asking for me, eh?”
“He was asking for you, Yakov Petrovitch; but what’s up with you, scented, pomaded, and such a swell? . . .”
“Nothing, gentlemen, nothing! that’s enough,” answered Mr. Golyadkin, looking away with a constrained smile. Seeing that Mr. Golyadkin was smiling, the clerks laughed aloud. Mr. Golyadkin was a little offended.
“I’ll tell you as friends, gentlemen,” our hero said, after a brief silence, as though making up his mind (which, indeed, was the case) to reveal something to them. “You all know me, gentlemen, but hitherto you’ve known me only on one side. no one is to blame for that and I’m conscious that the fault has been partly my own.”
Mr. Golyadkin pursed his lips and looked significantly at the clerks. The clerks winked at one another again.
“Hitherto, gentlemen, you have not known me. To explain myself here and now would not be appropriate. I will only touch on it lightly in passing. There are people, gentlemen, who dislike roundabout ways and only mask themselves at masquerades. There are people who do not see man’s highest avocation in polishing the floor with their boots. There are people, gentlemen, who refuse to say that they are happy and enjoying a full life when, for instance, their trousers set properly. There are people, finally, who dislike dashing and whirling about for no object, fawning, and licking the dust, and above all, gentlemen, poking their noses where they are not wanted . . . I’ve told you almost everything, gentlemen; now allow me to withdraw. . .”
Mr. Golyadkin paused. As the register clerks had not got all that they wanted, both of them with great incivility burst into shouts of laughter. Mr. Golyadkin flared up.
“Laugh away, gentlemen, laugh away for the time being! If you live long enough you will see,” he said, with a feeling of offended dignity, taking his hat and retreating to the door.
“But I will say more, gentlemen,” he added, turning for the last time to the register clerks, “I will say more — you are both here with me face to face. This, gentlemen, is my rule: if I fail I don’t lose heart, if I succeed I persevere, and in any case I am never underhand. I’m not one to intrigue — and I’m proud of it. I’ve never prided myself on diplomacy. They say, too, gentlemen, that the bird flies itself to the hunter. It’s true and I’m ready to admit it; but who’s the hunter, and who’s the bird in this case? That is still the question, gentlemen!”
Mr. Golyadkin subsided into eloquent silence, and, with a most significant air, that is, pursing up his lips and raising his eyebrows as high as possible, he bowed to the clerks and walked out, leaving them in the utmost amazement.
“What are your orders now?” Petrushka asked, rather gruffly; he was probably weary of hanging about in the cold. “What are your orders?” he asked Mr. Golyadkin, meeting the terrible, withering glance with which our hero had protected himself twice already that morning, and to which he had recourse now for the third time as he came down the steps.
“To Ismailovsky Bridge.”
“To Ismailovsky Bridge! Off!”
“Their dinner will not begin till after four, or perhaps five o’clock,” thought Mr. Golyadkin; “isn’t it early now? However, I can go a little early; besides, it’s only a family dinner. And so I can go sans facons, as they say among well-bred people. Why shouldn’t I go sans facons? The bear told us, too, that it would all be sans facons, and so I will be the same . . . .” Such were Mr. Golyadkin’s reflections and meanwhile his excitement grew more and more acute. It could be seen that he was preparing himself for some great enterprise, to say nothing more; he muttered to himself, gesticulated with his right hand, continually looked out of his carriage window, so that, looking at Mr. Golyadkin, no one would have said that he was on his way to a good dinner, and only a simple dinner in his family circle — sans facons, as they say among well-bred people. Finally, just at Ismailovsky Bridge, Mr. Golyadkin pointed out a house; and the carriage rolled up noisily and stopped at the first entrance on the right. Noticing a feminine figure at the second storey window, Mr. Golyadkin kissed his hand to her. He had, however, not the slightest idea what he was doing, for he felt more dead than alive at the moment. He got out of the carriage pale, distracted; he mounted the steps, took off his hat, mechanically straightened himself, and though he felt a slight trembling in his knees, he went upstairs.
“Olsufy Ivanovitch?” he inquired of the man who opened the door.
“At home, sir; at least he’s not at home, his honour’s not at home.”
“What? What do you mean, my good man? I-I’ve come to dinner, brother. Why, you know me?”
“To be sure I know you! I’ve orders not to admit you.”
“You . . . you, brother . . . you must be making a mistake. It’s I, my boy, I’m invited; I’ve come to dinner,” Mr. Golyadkin announced, taking off his coat and displaying unmistakable intentions of going into the room.
“Allow me, sir, you can’t, sir. I’ve orders not to admit you. I’ve orders to refuse you. That’s how it is.”
Mr. Golyadkin turned pale. At that very moment the door of the inner room opened and Gerasimitch, Olsufy Ivanovitch’s old butler, came out.
“You see the gentlemen wants to go in, Emelyan Gerasimitch, and I . . .”
“And you’re a fool, Alexeitch. Go inside and send the rascal Semyonovitch here. It’s impossible,” he said politely but firmly, addressing Mr. Golyadkin. “It’s quite impossible. His honour begs you to excuse him; he can’t see you.”
“He said he couldn’t see me?” Mr. Golyadkin asked uncertainly. “Excuse me, Gerasimitch, why is it impossible?”
“It’s quite impossible. I’ve informed your honour; they said ‘Ask him to excuse us.’ They can’t see you.”
“Why not? How’s that? Why.”
“Allow me, allow me! . . .”
“How is it though? It’s out of the question! Announce me . . . How is it? I’ve come to dinner. . .”
“Excuse me, excuse me . . .”
“Ah, well, that’s a different matter, they asked to be excused: but, allow me, Gerasimitch; how is it, Gerasimitch?”
“Excuse me, excuse me! replied Gerasimitch, very firmly putting away Mr. Golyadkin’s hand and making way for two gentlemen who walked into the entry that very instant. The gentlemen in question were Andrey Filippovitch and his nephew Vladimir Semyonovitch. Both of the looked with amazement at Mr. Golyadkin. Andrey Filippovitch seemed about to say something, but Mr. Golyadkin had by now made up his mind: he was by now walking out of Olsufy Ivanovitch’s entry, blushing and smiling, with eyes cast down and a countenance of helpless bewilderment. “I will come afterwards, Gerasimitch; I will explain myself: I hope that all this will without delay be explained in due season . . . .”
“Yakov Petrovitch, Yakov Petrovitch . . .” He heard the voice of Andrey Filippovitch following him.
Mr. Golyadkin was by that time on the first landing. He turned quickly to Andrey Filippovitch.
“What do you desire, Andrey Filippovitch?” he said in a rather resolute voice.
“What’s wrong with you, Yakov Petrovitch? In what way?”
“No matter, Andrey Filippovitch. I’m on my own account here. This is my private life, Andrey Filippovitch.”
“I say, Andrey Filippovitch, that this is my private life, and as for my being here, as far as I can see, there’s nothing reprehensible to be found in it as regards my official relations.”
“What! As regards your official . . . What’s the matter with you, my good sir?”
“Nothing, Andrey Filippovitch, absolutely nothing; an impudent slut of a girl, and nothing more . . .”
“What! What?” Andrey Filippovitch was stupefied with amazement. Mr. Golyadkin, who had up till then looked as though he would fly into Andrey Filippovitch’s face, seeing that the head of his office was laughing a little, almost unconsciously took a step forward. Andrey Filippovitch jumped back. Mr. Golyadkin went up one step and then another. Andrey Filippovitch looked about him uneasily. Mr. Golyadkin mounted the stairs rapidly. Still more rapidly Andrey Filippovitch darted into the flat and slammed the door after him. Mr. Golyadkin was left alone. Everything grew dark before his eyes. He was utterly nonplussed, and stood now in a sort of senseless hesitation, as though recalling something extremely senseless, too, that had happened quite recently. “Ech, ech!” he muttered, smiling with constraint. Meanwhile, there came the sounds of steps and voices on the stairs, probably of other guests invited by Olsufy Ivanovitch. Mr. Golyadkin recovered himself to some extent; put up his racoon collar, concealing himself behind it as far as possible, and began going downstairs with rapid little steps, tripping and stumbling in his haste. He felt overcome by a sort of weakness and numbness. His confusion was such that, when he came out on the steps, he did not even wait for his carriage but walked across the muddy court to it. When he reached his carriage and was about to get into it, Mr. Golyadkin inwardly uttered a desire to sink into the earth, or to hide in a mouse hole together with his carriage. It seemed to him that everything in Olsufy Ivanovitch’s house was looking at him now out of every window. He knew that he would certainly die on the spot if he were to go back.
“What are you laughing at, blockhead?” he said in a rapid mutter to Petrushka, who was preparing to help him into the carriage.
“What should I laugh at? I’m not doing anything; where are we to drive to now?”
“Go home, drive on . . . .”
“Home, off!” shouted Petrushka, climbing on to the footboard.
“What a crow’s croak!” thought Mr. Golyadkin. Meanwhile, the carriage had driven a good distance from Ismailovsky Bridge. Suddenly our hero pulled the cord with all his might and shouted to the driver to turn back at once. The coachman turned his horses and within two minutes was driving into Olsufy Ivanovitch’s yard again.
“Don’t, don’t, you fool, back!” shouted Mr. Golyadkin — and, as though he were expecting this order, the driver made no reply but, without stopping at the entrance, drove all round the courtyard and out into the street again.
Mr. Golyadkin did not drive home, but, after passing the Semyonovsky Bridge, told the driver to return to a side street and stop near a restaurant of rather modest appearance. Getting out of the carriage, our hero settled up with the driver and so got rid of his equipage at last. He told Petrushka to go home and await his return, while he went into the restaurant, took a private room and ordered dinner. He felt very ill and his brain was in the utmost confusion and chaos. For a long time he walked up and down the room in agitation; at last he sat down in a chair, propped his brow in his hands and began doing his very utmost to consider and settle something relating to his present position.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53