White Nights - XXII

White Nights - XXII

2 mins

“What are you afraid of? Why did you let go of my hand?” she said, giving it to me again. “Come, what is it? We will meet him together; I want him to see how fond we are of each other.”

“How fond we are of each other!” I cried. (“Oh, Nastenka, Nastenka,” I thought, “how much you have told me in that saying! Such fondness at certain moments makes the heart cold and the soul heavy. Your hand is cold, mine burns like fire. How blind you are, Nastenka! . . . Oh, how unbearable a happy person is sometimes! But I could not be angry with you!”)

At last my heart was too full.

“Listen, Nastenka!” I cried. “Do you know how it has been with me all day.”

“Why, how, how? Tell me quickly! Why have you said nothing all this time?”

“To begin with, Nastenka, when I had carried out all your commissions, given the letter, gone to see your good friends, then . . . then I went home and went to bed.”

“Is that all?” she interrupted, laughing.

“Yes, almost all,” I answered restraining myself, for foolish tears were already starting into my eyes. “I woke an hour before our appointment, and yet, as it were, I had not been asleep. I don’t know what happened to me. I came to tell you all about it, feeling as though time were standing still, feeling as though one sensation, one feeling must remain with me from that time for ever; feeling as though one minute must go on for all eternity, and as though all life had come to a standstill for me. . . . When I woke up it seemed as though some musical motive long familiar, heard somewhere in the past, forgotten and voluptuously sweet, had come back to me now. It seemed to me that it had been clamouring at my heart all my life, and only now. . . . ”

“Oh my goodness, my goodness,” Nastenka interrupted, “what does all that mean? I don’t understand a word.”

“Ah, Nastenka, I wanted somehow to convey to you that strange impression.” I began in a plaintive voice, in which there still lay hid a hope, though a very faint one.

“Leave off. Hush!” she said, and in one instant the sly puss had guessed.

Suddenly she became extraordinarily talkative, gay, mischievous; she took my arm, laughed, wanted me to laugh too, and every confused word I uttered evoked from her prolonged ringing laughter. . . . I began to feel angry, she had suddenly begun flirting.


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