Chapter 3

“You will come in for a moment?” said Natalia Haldin.

I demurred on account of the late hour. “You know mother likes you so much,” she insisted.

“I will just come in to hear how your mother is.”

She said, as if to herself, “I don’t even know whether she will believe that I could not find Mr. Razumov, since she has taken it into her head that I am concealing something from her. You may be able to persuade her.…”

“Your mother may mistrust me too,” I observed.

“You! Why? What could you have to conceal from her? You are not a Russian nor a conspirator.”

I felt profoundly my European remoteness, and said nothing, but I made up my mind to play my part of helpless spectator to the end. The distant rolling of thunder in the valley of the Rhone was coming nearer to the sleeping town of prosaic virtues and universal hospitality. We crossed the street opposite the great dark gateway, and Miss Haldin rang at the door of the apartment. It was opened almost instantly, as if the elderly maid had been waiting in the anteroom for our return. Her flat physiognomy had an air of satisfaction. The gentleman was there, she declared, while closing the door.

Neither of us understood. Miss Haldin turned round brusquely to her. “Who?”

“Herr Razumov,” she explained.

She had heard enough of our conversation before we left to know why her young mistress was going out. Therefore, when the gentleman gave his name at the door, she admitted him at once.

“No one could have foreseen that,” Miss Haldin murmured, with her serious grey eyes fixed upon mine. And, remembering the expression of the young man’s face seen not much more than four hours ago, the look of a haunted somnambulist, I wondered with a sort of awe.

“You asked my mother first?” Miss Haldin inquired of the maid.

“No. I announced the gentleman,” she answered, surprised at our troubled faces.

“Still,” I said in an undertone, “your mother was prepared.”

“Yes. But he has no idea…”

It seemed to me she doubted his tact. To her question how long the gentleman had been with her mother, the maid told us that Der Herr had been in the drawing-room no more than a short quarter of an hour.

She waited a moment, then withdrew, looking a little scared. Miss Haldin gazed at me in silence.

“As things have turned out,” I said, “you happen to know exactly what your brother’s friend has to tell your mother. And surely after that…”

“Yes,” said Natalia Haldin slowly. “I only wonder, as I was not here when he came, if it wouldn’t be better not to interrupt now.”

We remained silent, and I suppose we both strained our ears, but no sound reached us through the closed door. The features of Miss Haldin expressed a painful irresolution; she made a movement as if to go in, but checked herself. She had heard footsteps on the other side of the door. It came open, and Razumov, without pausing, stepped out into the ante-room. The fatigue of that day and the struggle with himself had changed him so much that I would have hesitated to recognize that face which, only

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