go back to Petersburg, come there, live there, we will find occupation for you, your labours in the past shall not be thrown away, you shall find good use for them . . . only live near me, only love me; such as I am, with all my weaknesses and my vices, and believe me, no heart will ever be so tenderly devoted to you as the heart of your Irina. Come soon to me, I shall not have an instant's peace until I see you. — Yours, yours, yours, I.'
The blood beat like a sledge-hammer in Litvinov's head, then slowly and painfully sank to his heart, and was chill as a stone in it. He read through Irina's letter, and just as on that day at Moscow he fell in exhaustion on the sofa, and stayed there motionless. A dark abyss seemed suddenly to have opened on all sides of him, and he stared into this darkness in senseless despair. And so again, again deceit, no, worse than deceit, lying and baseness. . . . And life shattered, everything torn up by its roots utterly, and the sole thing which he could cling to—the last prop in fragments too! 'Come after us to Petersburg,' he repeated with a bitter inward laugh, 'we will find you occupation. . . . Find me a place as a head clerk, eh? and who are we? Here there 's a hint of her past. Here we have the secret, hideous