The Egeria of the Russian Mazzini produced, at first view, a strong effect by the death-like immobility of an obviously painted face. The eyes appeared extraordinarily brilliant. The figure, in a close-fitting dress, admirably made, but by no means fresh, had an elegant stiffness. The rasping voice inviting him to sit down; the rigidity of the upright attitude with one arm extended along the back of the sofa, the white gleam of the big eyeballs setting off the black, fathomless stare of the enlarged pupils, impressed Razumov more than anything he had seen since his hasty and secret departure from St. Petersburg. A witch in Parisian clothes, he thought. A portent! He actually hesitated in his advance, and did not even comprehend, at first, what the rasping voice was saying.
Sit down. Draw your chair nearer me. There
He sat down. At close quarters the rouged cheekbones, the wrinkles, the fine lines on each side of the vivid lips, astounded him. He was being received graciously, with a smile which made him think of a grinning skull.
We have been hearing about you for some time.
He did not know what to say, and murmured some disconnected words. The grinning skull effect vanished.
And do you know that the general complaint is that you have shown yourself very reserved everywhere?
Razumov remained silent for a time, thinking of his answer.
I, dont you see, am a man of action, he said huskily, glancing upwards.
Peter Ivanovitch stood in portentous expectant silence by the side of his chair. A slight feeling of nausea came over Razumov. What could be the relations of these two people to each other? She like a galvanized corpse out of some Hoffmans Talehe the preacher of feminist gospel for all the world, and a super- revolutionist besides! This ancient, painted mummy with unfathomable eyes, and this burly, bull-necked, deferential what was it? Witchcraft, fascination. Its for her money, he thought. She has millions!
The walls, the floor of the room were bare like a barn. The few pieces of furniture had been discovered in the garrets and dragged down into service without having been properly dusted, even. It was the refuse the bankers widow had left behind her. The windows without curtains had an indigent, sleepless look. In two of them the dirty yellowy-white blinds had been pulled down. All this spoke, not of poverty, but of sordid penuriousness.
The hoarse voice on the sofa uttered angrily
You are looking round, Kirylo Sidorovitch. I have been shamefully robbed, positively ruined.
A rattling laugh, which seemed beyond her control, interrupted her for a moment.
A slavish nature would find consolation in the fact that the principal robber was an exalted and almost a sacrosanct persona Grand Duke, in fact. Do you understand, Mr. Razumov? A Grand DukeNo! You have no idea what thieves those people are! Downright thieves!
Her bosom heaved, but her left arm remained rigidly extended along the back of the couch.
You will only upset yourself, breathed out a deep voice, which, to Razumovs startled glance, seemed to proceed from under the steady spectacles of Peter Ivanovitch, rather than from his lips, which had hardly moved.
What of that? I say thieves! Voleurs! Voleurs!
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