An Unhappy Girl

by Ivan S. Turgenev

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He came into my room with his habitual, rapid, but deliberate step. His face struck me as pale, and though it showed traces of the fatigue of the journey, there was an expression of astonishment, curiosity, and dissatisfaction—emotions of which he had little experience as a rule. I rushed up to him, embraced him, warmly thanked him for obeying me, and after briefly describing my conversation with Susanna, handed him the manuscript. He went off to the window, to the very window in which Susanna had sat two days before, and without a word to me, he fell to reading it. I at once retired to the opposite corner of the room, and for appearance' sake took up a book; but I must own I was stealthily looking over the edge of the cover all the while at Fustov. At first he read rather calmly, and kept pulling with his left hand at the down on his lip; then he let his hand drop, bent forward and did not stir again. His eyes seemed to fly along the lines and his mouth slightly opened. At last he finished the manuscript, turned it over, looked round, thought a little, and began reading it all through a second time from beginning to end. Then he got up, put the manuscript in his pocket and moved towards the d oor; but he turned round and stopped in the middle of the room.

'Well, what do you think?' I began, not waiting for him to speak.

'I have acted wrongly towards her,' Fustov declared thickly. 'I have behaved... rashly, unpardonably, cruelly. I believed that... Viktor—'

'What!' I cried; 'that Viktor whom you despise so! But what could he say to you?'

Fustov crossed his arms and stood obliquely to me. He was ashamed, I saw that.

'Do you remember,' he said with some effort, 'that... Viktor alluded to... a pension. That unfortunate word stuck in my head. It's the cause of everything. I began questioning him.... Well, and he—'

'What did he say?'

'He told me that the old man... what's his name?... Koltovsky, had allowed Susanna that pension because... on account of... well, in fact, by way of damages.'

I flung up my hands.

'And you believed him?'

Fustov nodded.

'Yes! I believed him.... He said, too, that with the young one... In fact, my behaviour is unjustifiable.'

'And you went away so as to break everything off?'

'Yes; that's the best way... in such cases. I acted savagely, savagely,' he repeated.

We were both silent. Each of us felt that the other was ashamed; but it was easier for me; I was not ashamed of myself.

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