Notes from the Underground
"So this is it, this is it at last--contact with real life," I muttered as I ran headlong
downstairs. "This is very different from the Pope's leaving Rome and going to
Brazil, very different from the ball on Lake Como!"
"You are a scoundrel," a thought flashed through my mind, "if you laugh at this
"No matter!" I cried, answering myself. "Now everything is lost!"
There was no trace to be seen of them, but that made no difference--I knew
where they had gone.
At the steps was standing a solitary night sledge-driver in a rough peasant coat,
powdered over with the still falling, wet, and as it were warm, snow. It was hot
and steamy. The little shaggy piebald horse was also covered with snow and
coughing, I remember that very well. I made a rush for the roughly made sledge;
but as soon as I raised my foot to get into it, the recollection of how Simonov had
just given me six roubles seemed to double me up and I tumbled into the sledge
like a sack.
"No, I must do a great deal to make up for all that," I cried. "But I will make up for
it or perish on the spot this very night. Start!"
We set off. There was a perfect whirl in my head.
"They won't go down on their knees to beg for my friendship. That is a mirage,
cheap mirage, revolting, romantic and fantastical--that's another ball on Lake
Como. And so I am bound to slap Zverkov's face! It is my duty to. And so it is
settled; I am flying to give him a slap in the face. Hurry up!"
The driver tugged at the reins.
"As soon as I go in I'll give it him. Ought I before giving him the slap to say a few
words by way of preface? No. I'll simply go in and give it him. They will all be
sitting in the drawing-room, and he with Olympia on the sofa. That damned
Olympia! She laughed at my looks on one occasion and refused me. I'll pull
Olympia's hair, pull Zverkov's ears! No, better one ear, and pull him by it round
the room. Maybe they will all begin beating me and will kick me out. That's most
likely, indeed. No matter! Anyway, I shall first slap him; the initiative will be mine;
and by the laws of honour that is everything: he will be branded and cannot wipe
off the slap by any blows, by nothing but a duel. He will be forced to fight. And let
them beat me now. Let them, the ungrateful wretches! Trudolyubov will beat me
hardest, he is so strong; Ferfitchkin will be sure to catch hold sideways and tug at
my hair. But no matter, no matter! That's what I am going for. The blockheads will
be forced at last to see the tragedy of it all! When they drag me to the door I shall
call out to them that in reality they are not worth my little finger. Get on, driver,
get on!" I cried to the driver. He started and flicked his whip, I shouted so
"We shall fight at daybreak, that's a settled thing. I've done with the office.
Ferfitchkin made a joke about it just now. But where can I get pistols? Nonsense!
I'll get my salary in advance and buy them. And powder, and bullets? That's the
second's business. And how can it all be done by daybreak? and where am I to