she was yesterday. But there 's no holding her back now; like a stone set rolling, she must roll on to the bottom. I should be a great idiot indeed, if I imagined my words could hold you back at once . . . you, when a woman like that . . . But that 's enough of this. I couldn't restrain myself, that 's my whole excuse. And after all how can one know, and why not try? Perhaps, you will think again; perhaps, some word of mine will go to your heart, you will not care to ruin her and yourself, and that innocent sweet creature . . . Ah! don't be angry, don't stamp about! What have I to fear? Why should I mince matters? It 's not jealousy speaking in me, not anger ... I 'm ready to fall at your feet, to beseech you . . . Good-bye, though. You needn't be afraid, all this will be kept secret. I wished for your good.'
Potugin strode off along the avenue and quickly vanished in the now falling darkness. Litvinov did not detain him.
'A terrible dark story . . .' Potugin had said to Litvinov, and would not tell it . . . Let us pass it over with a few words only.
Eight years before, it had happened to him to be sent by his department to Count Reisenbach as a temporary clerk. It was in the summer. Potugin used to drive to his country villa with