called yourself her friend. Didn't you drag me almost by force to go and see her?'
'What of that ? she asked me to get hold of you; and I thought, why not? And I really am her friend. She has her good qualities: she 's very kind, that is to say, generous, that 's to say she gives others what she has no sort of need of herself. But of course you must know her at least as well as I do.'
'I used to know Irina Pavlovna ten years ago; but since then——'
'Ah, Grigory Mihalitch, why do you say that? Do you suppose any one's character changes? Such as one is in one's cradle, such one is still in one's tomb. Or perhaps it is' (here Potugin bowed his head still lower) 'perhaps, you 're afraid of falling into her clutches? that 's certainly . . . But of course one is bound to fall into some woman's clutches.'
Litvinov gave a constrained laugh. 'You think so?'
'There 's no escape. Man is weak, woman is strong, opportunity is all-powerful, to make up one's mind to a joyless life is hard, to forget oneself utterly is impossible . . . and on one side is beauty and sympathy and warmth and light, — how is one to resist it? Why, one runs like a child to its nurse. Ah, well, afterwards to be sure comes cold and darkness and empti-