It was bright starlight when he came out on the steps. What multitudes of stars, big and little, yellow, red, blue and white were scattered over the sky! They seemed all flashing, swarming, twinkling unceasingly. There was no moon in the sky, but without it every object could be clearly discerned in the half-clear, shadowless twilight. Sanin walked down the street to the end . . . He did not want to go home at once; he felt a desire to wander about a little in the fresh air. He turned back and had hardly got on a level with the house, where was the Rosellis’ shop, when one of the windows looking out on the street, suddenly creaked and opened; in its square of blackness — there was no light in the room — appeared a woman’s figure, and he heard his name —‘Monsieur Dimitri!’
He rushed at once up to the window . . . Gemma! She was leaning with her elbows on the window-sill, bending forward.
‘Monsieur Dimitri,’ she began in a cautious voice, ‘I have been wanting all day long to give you something . . . but I could not make up my mind to; and just now, seeing you, quite unexpectedly again, I thought that it seems it is fated’ . . .
Gemma was forced to stop at this word. She could not go on; something extraordinary happened at that instant.
All of a sudden, in the midst of the profound stillness, over the perfectly unclouded sky, there blew such a violent blast of wind, that the very earth seemed shaking underfoot, the delicate starlight seemed quivering and trembling, the air went round in a whirlwind. The wind, not cold, but hot, almost sultry, smote against the trees, the roof of the house, its walls, and the street; it instantaneously snatched off Sanin’s hat, crumpled up and tangled Gemma’s curls. Sanin’s head was on a level with the window-sill; he could not help clinging close to it, and Gemma clutched hold of his shoulders with both hands, and pressed her bosom against his head. The roar, the din, and the rattle lasted about a minute. . . . Like a flock of huge birds the revelling whirlwind darted revelling away. A profound stillness reigned once more.
Sanin raised his head and saw above him such an exquisite, scared, excited face, such immense, large, magnificent eyes — it was such a beautiful creature he saw, that his heart stood still within him, he pressed his lips to the delicate tress of hair, that had fallen on his bosom, and could only murmur, ‘O Gemma!’
‘What was that? Lightning?’ she asked, her eyes wandering afar, while she did not take her bare arms from his shoulder.
‘Gemma!’ repeated Sanin.
She sighed, looked around behind her into the room, and with a rapid movement pulling the now faded rose out of her bodice, she threw it to Sanin.
‘I wanted to give you this flower.’
He recognised the rose, which he had won back the day before. . . .
But already the window had slammed-to, and through the dark pane nothing could be seen, no trace of white.
Sanin went home without his hat. . . . He did not even notice that he had lost it.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:01