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disturbing you perhaps, but, seeing you in the distance, I thought. . . . However if you 're not in the humour. . . '

'On the contrary I 'm delighted,' Litvinov muttered between his teeth.

Potugin walked beside him.

'What a lovely evening!' he began, 'so warm! Have you been walking long?'

'No, not long.'

'Why do I ask though; I' ve just seen you come out of the Hôtel de l'Еuгоре! '

'Then you 've been following me?'


'You have something to say to me?'

'Yes,' Potugin repeated, hardly audibly.

Litvinov stopped and looked at his uninvited companion. His face was pale, his eyes moved restlessly; his contorted features seemed overshadowed by old, long-standing grief.

'What do you specially want to say to me?' Litvinov said slowly, and he moved forward.

'Ah, with your permission . . . directly. If it 's all the same to you, let us sit down here on this seat. It will be most convenient.'

'Why, this is something mysterious,' Litvinov declared, seating himself near him. 'You don't seem quite yourself, Sozont Ivanitch.'

'No; I 'm all right; and it 's nothing mysterious either. I specially wanted to tell