less.' She sends no message for me, does not want to explain herself to me. . . .'
'Grigory Mihalitch,' called a strained voice positively in his ear.
Litvinov started, and saw before him his servant with a note in his hand. He recognised Irina's writing. . . . Before he had broken the seal, he had a foreknowledge of woe, and bent his head on his breast and hunched his shoulders, as though shrinking from the blow.
He plucked up courage at last, and tore open the envelope all at once. On a small sheet of notepaper were the following lines:
'Forgive me, Grigory Mihalitch. All is over between us; I am going away to Petersburg. I am dreadfully unhappy, but the thing is done. It seems my fate . . . but no, I do not want to justify myself. My presentiments have been realised. Forgive me, forget me; I am not worthy of you.— Irina. Be magnanimous: do not try to see me.'
Litvinov read these five lines, and slowly dropped on to the sofa, as though some one had dealt him a blow on the breast. He dropped the note, picked it up, read it again, whispered 'to Petersburg,' and dropped it again ; that was all. There even came upon him a sense of peace ; he even, with his hands thrown behind him, smoothed the pillow under his head.