Page:The Novels of Ivan Turgenev (volume V).djvu/135

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XI

Litvinov took up his book again, but he could not read. He went out of the house, walked a little, listened to the music, glanced in at the gambling, returned again to his room, and tried again to read—still without success. The time seemed to drag by with peculiar dreariness. Pishtchalkin, the well-intentioned peaceable mediator, came in and sat with him for three hours. He talked, argued, stated questions, and discoursed intermittently, first of elevated, and then of practical topics, and succeeded in diffusing around him such an atmosphere of dulness that poor Litvinov was ready to cry. In raising dulness—agonising, chilling, helpless, hopeless dulness—to a fine art, Pishtchalkin was absolutely unrivalled even among persons of the highest morality, who are notoriously masters in that line. The mere sight of his well-cut and well-brushed head, his clear lifeless eyes, his benevolent nose, produced an involuntary despondency, and his deliberate,

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