crossing the dark roadway of the Boulevard des Philosophes. He had a broad-brimmed soft hat, and the collar of his coat turned up. I watched him make straight for the house, but, instead of going in, he stopped opposite the still lighted windows, and after a time went away down a side-street.
I knew that he had not been to see Mrs. Haldin yet. Miss Haldin told me he was reluctant; moreover, the mental condition of Mrs. Haldin had changed. She seemed to think now that her son was living, and she perhaps awaited his arrival. Her immobility in the great arm-chair in front of the window had an air of expectancy, even when the blind was down and the lamps lighted.
For my part, I was convinced that she had received her death-stroke; Miss Haldin, to whom, of course, I said nothing of my forebodings, thought that no good would come from introducing Mr. Razumov just then, an opinion which I shared fully. I knew that she met the young man on the Bastions. Once or twice I saw them strolling slowly up the main alley. They met every day for weeks. I avoided passing that way during the hour when Miss Haldin took her exercise there. One day, however, in a fit of absent- mindedness, I entered the gates and came upon her walking alone. I stopped to exchange a few words. Mr. Razumov failed to turn up, and we began to talk about himnaturally.
Did he tell you anything definite about your brothers activitieshis end? I ventured to ask.
No, admitted Miss Haldin, with some hesitation. Nothing definite.
I understood well enough that all their conversations must have been referred mentally to that dead man who had brought them together. That was unavoidable. But it was in the living man that she was interested. That was unavoidable too, I suppose. And as I pushed my inquiries I discovered that he had disclosed himself to her as a by no means conventional revolutionist, contemptuous of catch-words, of theories, of men too. I was rather pleased at thatbut I was a little puzzled.
His mind goes forward, far ahead of the struggle, Miss Haldin explained. Of course, he is an actual worker too, she added.
And do you understand him? I inquired point-blank.
She hesitated again. Not altogether, she murmured.
I perceived that he had fascinated her by an assumption of mysterious reserve.
Do you know what I think? she went on, breaking through her reserved, almost reluctant attitude: I think that he is observing, studying me, to discover whether I am worthy of his trust
And that pleases you?
She kept mysteriously silent for a moment. Then with energy, but in a confidential tone
I am convinced, she declared, that this extraordinary man is meditating some vast plan, some great undertaking; he is possessed by ithe suffers from itand from being alone in the world.
And so hes looking for helpers? I commented, turning away my head.
Again there was a silence.
Why not? she said at last.
The dead brother, the dying mother, the foreign friend, had fallen into a distant background. But, at the same time, Peter Ivanovitch was absolutely nowhere now. And this thought consoled me. Yet I saw the gigantic shadow of Russian life deepening around her like the darkness of an advancing night. It would devour her presently. I inquired after Mrs. Haldinthat other victim of the deadly shade.
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