Notes from the Underground
"Into my house come bold and free,
Its rightful mistress there to be."
I stood before her crushed, crestfallen, revoltingly confused, and I believe I
smiled as I did my utmost to wrap myself in the skirts of my ragged wadded
dressing-gown--exactly as I had imagined the scene not long before in a fit of
depression. After standing over us for a couple of minutes Apollon went away,
but that did not make me more at ease. What made it worse was that she, too,
was overwhelmed with confusion, more so, in fact, than I should have expected.
At the sight of me, of course.
"Sit down," I said mechanically, moving a chair up to the table, and I sat down on
the sofa. She obediently sat down at once and gazed at me open-eyed, evidently
expecting something from me at once. This naivete of expectation drove me to
fury, but I restrained myself.
She ought to have tried not to notice, as though everything had been as usual,
while instead of that, she ... and I dimly felt that I should make her pay dearly for
"You have found me in a strange position, Liza," I began, stammering and
knowing that this was the wrong way to begin. "No, no, don't imagine anything," I
cried, seeing that she had suddenly flushed. "I am not ashamed of my poverty ....
On the contrary, I look with pride on my poverty. I am poor but honourable ....
One can be poor and honourable," I muttered. "However ... would you like tea?
"No," she was beginning.
"Wait a minute."
I leapt up and ran to Apollon. I had to get out of the room somehow.
"Apollon," I whispered in feverish haste, flinging down before him the seven
roubles which had remained all the time in my clenched fist, "here are your
wages, you see I give them to you; but for that you must come to my rescue:
bring me tea and a dozen rusks from the restaurant. If you won't go, you'll make
me a miserable man! You don't know what this woman is .... This is--everything!
You may be imagining something .... But you don't know what that woman is! ..."
Apollon, who had already sat down to his work and put on his spectacles again,
at first glanced askance at the money without speaking or putting down his
needle; then, without paying the slightest attention to me or making any answer,
he went on busying himself with his needle, which he had not yet threaded. I
waited before him for three minutes with my arms crossed à la Napoléon. My
temples were moist with sweat. I was pale, I felt it. But, thank God, he must have
been moved to pity, looking at me. Having threaded his needle he deliberately
got up from his seat, deliberately moved back his chair, deliberately took off his
spectacles, deliberately counted the money, and finally asking me over his
shoulder: "Shall I get a whole portion?" deliberately walked out of the room. As I
was going back to Liza, the thought occurred to me on the way: shouldn't I run