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must confess our conversation strikes me as altogether rather original. . . . I should like to know, does the hint contained in your words refer to me?'

Potugin did not at once answer Litvinov; he was visibly struggling with himself.

'Grigory Mihalitch,' he began at last, 'either I am completely mistaken in you, or you are capable of hearing the truth, from whomsoever it may come, and in however unattractive a form it may present itself. I told you just now, that I saw where you came from.'

'Why, from the Hôtel de l'Europe. What of that?'

'I know, of course, whom you have been to see there.'


'You have been to see Madame Ratmirov.'

'Well, I have been to see her. What next?'

'What next? . . . You, betrothed to Tatyana Petrovna, have been to see Madame Ratmirov, whom you love . . . and who loves you.'

Litvinov instantly got up from the seat; the blood rushed to his head.

'What 's this?' he cried at last, in a voice of concentrated exasperation: 'stupid jesting, spying? Kindly explain yourself.'

Potugin turned a weary look upon him.

'Ah! don't be offended at my words. Grigory