`Take away his hands,' Anna's voice was saying. He takes away his hands and feels the shame-struck and idiotic expression of his face.

He was still lying down, trying to sleep, though he felt there was not the smallest hope of it, and kept repeating stray words from some chain of thought, trying by this to check the rising flood of fresh images. He listened, and heard words repeated in a strange, mad whisper: `You did not appreciate it, did not make enough of it. You did not appreciate it, did not make enough of it.'

`What's this? Am I going out of my mind?' he said to himself `Perhaps. What makes men go out of their minds - what makes men shoot themselves?' he answered himself, and, opening his eyes, he saw with wonder an embroidered cushion beside him, worked by Varia, his brother's wife. He touched the tassel of the cushion, and tried to think of Varia, of when he had seen her last. But to think of anything extraneous was an agonizing effort. `No, I must sleep!' He moved the cushion up, and pressed his head into it, but he had to make an effort to keep his eyes shut. He jumped up and sat down. `That's all over for me,' he said to himself. `I must think what to do. What is left?' His mind rapidly ran through his life apart from his love of Anna.

`Ambition? Serpukhovskoy? Society? The Court?' He could not come to a pause anywhere. All of it had had meaning before, but now there was no reality in it. He got up from the sofa, took off his coat, undid his belt, and, uncovering his hairy chest to breathe more freely, walked up and down the room. `This is how people go mad,' he repeated, `and how they shoot themselves... to escape humiliation,' he added slowly.

He went to the door and closed it, and then with fixed eyes and clenched teeth he went up to the table, took a revolver, looked it about, turned it to a loaded barrel, and sank into thought. For two minutes, his head bent forward with an expression of an intense effort of thought, he stood with the revolver in his hand, motionless, thinking. `Of course,' he said to himself, as though a logical, continuous, and clear chain of reasoning had brought him to an indubitable conclusion. In reality this `of course,' so convincing to him, was simply the result of repeating exactly the same circle of memories and images through which he had already passed ten times during the last hour. There were the same memories of happiness lost forever, the same conception of the senselessness of everything to come in life, the same consciousness of humiliation. There was the same sequence of these images and emotions too.

`Of course,' he repeated, when for the third time his thought passed again round the same spellbound circle of memories and images, and, putting the revolver to the left side of his chest, and twitching vigorously with his whole hand, as though squeezing it in his fist, he pulled the trigger. He did not hear the sound of the shot, but a violent blow on his chest knocked him down. He tried to clutch at the edge of the table, dropped the revolver, staggered, and sat down on the ground, looking about him in astonishment. He did not recognize his room, as he looked up from the ground at the bent legs of the table, at the wastepaper basket, and the tigerskin rug. The hurried, creaking steps of his servant coming through the drawing room brought him to his senses. He made an effort at thought, and was aware that he was on the floor; and seeing blood on the tigerskin rug and on his arm, he knew he had shot himself.

`Idiotic! Missed!' he said, fumbling after the revolver. The revolver was close beside him - he was groping farther off. Still groping for it, he stretched out to the other side, and not being strong enough to keep his balance, fell over, streaming with blood.

The elegant, whiskered manservant, who used to be continually complaining to his acquaintances of the delicacy of his nerves, was so panic-stricken on seeing his master lying on the floor that he left him losing blood while he ran for assistance. An hour later Varia, his brother's wife, had arrived, and with the assistance of three doctors, whom she had sent for in all directions, and who all appeared at the same moment, she got the wounded man to bed, and remained to nurse him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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