'For what ? . . . you know for what,' she said, and she turned slightly away. 'I wronged you, Grigory Mihalitch . . . though, of course, it was my fate' (Litvinov was reminded of her letter) 'and I do not regret it . . . it would be in any case too late; but, meeting you so unexpectedly, I said to myself that we absolutely must become friends, absolutely . . . and I should feel it deeply, if it did not come about . . . and it seems to me for that we must have an explanation, without putting it off, and once for all, so that afterwards there should be no . . . gêne, no awkwardness, once for all, Grigory Mihalitch and that you must tell me you forgive me, or else I shall imagine you feel . . . de la rancune. Voilà! It is perhaps a great piece of fatuity on my part, for you have probably forgotten everything long, long ago, but no matter, tell me, you have forgiven me.'
Irina uttered this whole speech without taking breath, and Litvinov could see that there were tears shining in her eyes . . . yes, actually tears.
'Really, Irina Pavlovna,' he began hurriedly, 'how can you beg my pardon, ask forgiveness? . . . That is all past and buried, and I can only feel astounded that, in the midst of all the splendour which surrounds you, you have still