Mihalitch, me you cannot offend. I did not begin to talk to you for that, and I 'm in no joking humour now.'
'Perhaps, perhaps. I 'm ready to believe in the excellence of your intentions; but still I may be allowed to ask you by what right you meddle in the private affairs, in the inner life, of another man, a man who is nothing to you; and what grounds you have for so confidently giving out your own . . . invention for the truth?'
'My invention! If I had imagined it, it should not have made you angry; and as for my right, well I never heard before that a man ought to ask himself whether he had the right to hold out a hand to a drowning man.'
'I am humbly grateful for your tender solicitude,' cried Litvinov passionately, 'but I am not in the least in need of it, and all the phrases about the ruin of inexperienced young men wrought by society women, about the immorality of fashionable society, and so on, I look upon merely as stock phrases, and indeed in a sense I positively despise them; and so I beg you to spare your rescuing arm, and to let me drown in peace.'
Potugin again raised his eyes to Litvinov. He was breathing hard, his lips were twitching,
'But look at me, young man,' broke from him