the trail, evidently in search of food and water, and I
"You are always jesting!" he said, pretending to be angry. "In the first place, she knows so little of me as yet" . . .
"Women love only those whom they do not know!"
"But I have no pretensions whatsoever to pleasing her. I simply wish to make the ac- quaintance of an agreeable household; and it would be extremely ridiculous if I were to cherish the slightest hope. . . With you, now, for instance, it is a different matter! You Petersburg con- querors! You have but to look -- and women melt. . . But do you know, Pechorin, what Princess Mary said of you?" . . .
"What? She has spoken to you already about me?" . . .
"Do not rejoice too soon, though. The other day, by chance, I entered into conversation with her at the well; her third word was, 'Who is that gentleman with such an unpleasant, heavy glance? He was with you when' . . . she blushed, and did not like to mention the day, remembering her own delightful little exploit. 'You need not tell me what day it was,' I answered; 'it will ever be present to my memory!' . . . Pechorin, my friend, I cannot congratulate you, you are in her black books. . . And, indeed, it is a pity, because Mary is a charming girl!" . . .
It must be observed that Grushnitski is one of those men who, in speaking of a woman with whom they are barely acquainted, call her my Mary, my Sophie, if she has had the good fortune to please them.
I assumed a serious air and answered:
"Yes, she is good-looking. . . Only be care- ful, Grushnitski! Russian ladies, for the most part, cherish only Platonic love, without mingling any thought of matrimony with it; and Platonic love is exceedingly embarrassing. Princess Mary seems to be one of those women who want to be amused. If she is bored in your company for two minutes on end -- you are lost irrevocably. Your silence ought to excite her curiosity, your con- versation ought never to satisfy it completely; you should alarm her every minute; ten times, in public, she will slight people's opinion for you and will call that a sacrifice, and, in order to requite herself for it, she will torment you. Afterwards she will simply say that she cannot endure you. If you do not acquire authority over her, even her first kiss will not give you the right to a second. She will flirt with you to her heart's content, and, in two years' time, she will marry a monster, in obedience to her mother, and will assure herself that she is unhappy, that she has loved only one man -- that is to say, you -- but that Heaven was not willing to unite her to him because he wore a soldier's cloak, although beneath that thick, grey cloak beat a heart, passionate and noble" . . .