something I know nothing of, but which she has been trying to wipe out, to burn as in a fire. Here we have that world of intrigues, of secret relations, of shameful stories of Byelskys and Dolskys. . . . And what a future, what a lovely part awaiting me! To live close to her, visit her, share with her the morbid melancholy of the lady of fashion who is sick and weary of the world, but can't live outside its circle, be the friend of the house of course, of his Excellency . . . until . . . until the whim changes and the plebeian lover loses his piquancy, and is replaced by that fat general or Mr. Finikov—that 's possible and pleasant, and I dare say useful. . . . She talks of a good use for my talents? . . . but the other project's impracticable, impracticable.' . . . In Litvinov's soul rose, like sudden gusts of wind before a storm, momentary impulses of fury. . . . Every expression in Irina's letter roused his indignation, her very assertions of her unchanging feelings affronted him. 'She can't let it go like that,' he cried at last, 'I won't allow her to play with my life so mercilessly.'
Litvinov jumped up, snatched his hat. But what was he to do? Run to her? Answer her letter? He stopped short, and his hands fell.
'Yes; what was to be done?'