Some one's hand lay on my shoulder and pushed it several times.... I opene d my eyes and in the faint light of the solitary candle, I saw Fustov standing before me. He frightened me. He was staggering; his face was yellow, almost the same colour as his hair; his lips seemed hanging down, his muddy eyes were staring senselessly away. What had become of his invariably amiable, sympathetic expression? I had a cousin who from epilepsy was sinking into idiocy.... Fustov looked like him at that moment.
I sat up hurriedly.
'What is it? What is the matter? Heavens!'
He made no answer.
'Why, what has happened? Fustov! Do speak! Susanna?...'
Fustov gave a slight start.
'She...' he began in a hoarse voice, and broke off.
'What of her? Have you seen her?'
He stared at me.
'She's no more.'
'No. She is dead.'
I jumped out of bed.
'Dead? Susanna? Dead?'
Fustov turned his eyes away again.
'Yes; she is dead; she died at midnight.'
'He's raving!' crossed my mind.
'At midnight! And what's the time now?'
'It's eight o'clock in the morning now.
They sent to tell me. She is to be buried to-morrow.'
I seized him by the hand.
'Alexander, you're not delirious? Are you in your senses?'
'I am in my senses,' he answered. 'Directly I heard it, I came straight to you.'
My heart turned sick and numb, as always happens on realising an irrevocable misfortune.
'My God! my God! Dead!' I repeated. 'How is it possible? So suddenly! Or perhaps she took her own life?'
'I don't know,' said Fustov, 'I know nothing. They told me she died at midnight. And to-morrow she will be buried.'
'At midnight!' I thought.... 'Then she was still alive yesterday when I fancied I saw her in the window, when I entreated him to hasten to her....'
'She was still alive yesterday, when you wanted to send me to Ivan Demianitch's,' said Fustov, as though guessing my thought.
'How little he knew her!' I thought again. 'How little we both knew her! "High-flown," said he, "all girls are like that."... And at that very minute, perhaps, she was putting to her lips... Can one love any one and be so grossly mistaken in them?'
Fustov stood stockstill before my bed, his hands hanging, like a guilty man.