The doctor walked about, looked at things, ate and drank, but he
had all the while one feeling: annoyance with Mihail
Averyanitch. He longed to have a rest from his friend, to get
away from him, to hide himself, while the friend thought it was
his duty not to let the doctor move a step away from him, and to
provide him with as many distractions as possible. When there
was nothing to look at he entertained him with conversation. For
two days Andrey Yefimitch endured it, but on the third he
announced to his friend that he was ill and wanted to stay at
home for the whole day; his friend replied that in that case he
would stay too -- that really he needed rest, for he was run off
his legs already. Andrey Yefimitch lay on the sofa, with his
face to the back, and clenching his teeth, listened to his
friend, who assured him with heat that sooner or later France
would certainly thrash Germany, that there were a great many
scoundrels in Moscow, and that it was impossible to judge of a
horse's quality by its outward appearance. The doctor began to
have a buzzing in his ears and palpitations of the heart, but
out of delicacy could not bring himself to beg his friend to go
away or hold his tongue. Fortunately Mihail Averyanitch grew
weary of sitting in the hotel room, and after dinner he went out
for a walk.
As soon as he was alone Andrey Yefimitch abandoned himself to a
feeling of relief. How pleasant to lie motionless on the sofa
and to know that one is alone in the room! Real happiness is
impossible without solitude. The fallen angel betrayed God
probably because he longed for solitude, of which the angels
know nothing. Andrey Yefimitch wanted to think about what he had
seen and heard during the last few days, but he could not get
Mihail Averyanitch out of his head.
"Why, he has taken a holiday and come with me out of friendship,
out of generosity," thought the doctor with vexation; "nothing
could be worse than this friendly supervision. I suppose he is
good-natured and generous and a lively fellow, but he is a bore.
An insufferable bore. In the same way there are people who never
say anything but what is clever and good, yet one feels that
they are dull-witted people."
For the following days Andrey Yefimitch declared himself ill and
would not leave the hotel room; he lay with his face to the back
of the sofa, and suffered agonies of weariness when his friend
entertained him with conversation, or rested when his friend was
absent. He was vexed with himself for having come, and with his
friend, who grew every day more talkative and more
free-and-easy; he could not succeed in attuning his thoughts to
a serious and lofty level.
"This is what I get from the real life Ivan Dmitritch talked
about," he thought, angry at his own pettiness. "It's of no
consequence, though. . . . I shall go home, and everything will
go on as before. . . ."
It was the same thing in Petersburg too; for whole days together
he did not leave the hotel room, but lay on the sofa and only
got up to drink beer.
Mihail Averyanitch was all haste to get to Warsaw.
"My dear man, what should I go there for?" said Andrey Yefimitch
in an imploring voice. "You go alone and let me get home! I
"On no account," protested Mihail Averyanitch. "It's a
Andrey Yefimitch had not the strength of will to insist on his
own way, and much against his inclination went to Warsaw. There
he did not leave the hotel room, but lay on the sofa, furious
with himself, with his friend, and with the waiters, who
obstinately refused to understand Russian; while Mihail
Averyanitch, healthy, hearty, and full of spirits as usual, went
about the town from morning to night, looking for his old
acquaintances. Several times he did not return home at night.
After one night spent in some unknown haunt he returned home
early in the morning, in a violently excited condition, with a
red face and tousled hair. For a long time he walked up and down
the rooms muttering something to himself, then stopped and said:
"Honour before everything."
After walking up and down a little longer he clutched his head
in both hands and pronounced in a tragic voice: "Yes, honour
before everything! Accursed be the moment when the idea first
entered my head to visit this Babylon! My dear friend," he
added, addressing the doctor, "you may despise me, I have played
and lost; lend me five hundred roubles!"
Andrey Yefimitch counted out five hundred roubles and gave them
to his friend without a word. The latter, still crimson with
shame and anger, incoherently articulated some useless vow, put
on his cap, and went out. Returning two hours later he flopped
into an easy-chair, heaved a loud sigh, and said:
"My honour is saved. Let us go, my friend; I do not care to
remain another hour in this accursed town. Scoundrels! Austrian
By the time the friends were back in their own town it was
November, and deep snow was lying in the streets. Dr. Hobotov
had Andrey Yefimitch's post; he was still living in his old
lodgings, waiting for Andrey Yefimitch to arrive and clear out
of the hospital apartments. The plain woman whom he called his
cook was already established in one of the lodges.
Fresh scandals about the hospital were going the round of the
town. It was said that the plain woman had quarrelled with the
superintendent, and that the latter had crawled on his knees
before her begging forgiveness. On the very first day he arrived
Andrey Yefimitch had to look out for lodgings.
"My friend," the postmaster said to him timidly, "excuse an
indiscreet question: what means have you at your disposal?"
Andrey Yefimitch, without a word, counted out his money and
said: "Eighty-six roubles."
"I don't mean that," Mihail Averyanitch brought out in
confusion, misunderstanding him; "I mean, what have you to live
"I tell you, eighty-six roubles . . . I have nothing else."
Mihail Averyanitch looked upon the doctor as an honourable man,
yet he suspected that he had accumulated a fortune of at least
twenty thousand. Now learning that Andrey Yefimitch was a
beggar, that he had nothing to live on he was for some reason
suddenly moved to tears and embraced his friend.