one man could defend the trail to the cave against an army.
"Mon cher," I answered, trying to mimic his tone, "je meprise les femmes, pour ne pas les aimer, car autrement la vie serait un melodrame trop ridicule."
I turned and left him. For half an hour or so I walked about the avenues of the vines, the limestone cliffs and the bushes hanging between them. The day grew hot, and I hurried home- wards. Passing the sulphur spring, I stopped at the covered gallery in order to regain my breath under its shade, and by so doing I was afforded the opportunity of witnessing a rather interesting scene. This is the position in which the dramatis personae were disposed: Princess Ligovski and the Moscow dandy were sitting on a bench in the covered gallery -- apparently engaged in serious conversation. Princess Mary, who had doubtless by this time finished her last tumbler, was walking pensively to and fro by the well. Grushnitski was standing by the well itself; there was nobody else on the square.
I went up closer and concealed myself behind a corner of the gallery. At that moment Grush- nitski let his tumbler fall on the sand and made strenuous efforts to stoop in order to pick it up; but his injured foot prevented him. Poor fellow! How he tried all kinds of artifices, as he leaned on his crutch, and all in vain! His expressive countenance was, in fact, a picture of suffering.
Princess Mary saw the whole scene better than I.
Lighter than a bird she sprang towards him, stooped, picked up the tumbler, and handed it to him with a gesture full of ineffable charm. Then she blushed furiously, glanced round at the gallery, and, having assured herself that her mother apparently had not seen anything, im- mediately regained her composure. By the time Grushnitski had opened his mouth to thank her she was a long way off. A moment after, she came out of the gallery with her mother and the dandy, but, in passing by Grushnitski, she assumed a most decorous and serious air. She did not even turn round, she did not even observe the passionate gaze which he kept fixed upon her for a long time until she had descended the mountain and was hidden behind the lime trees of the boulevard. . . Presently I caught glimpses of her hat as she walked along the street. She hurried through the gate of one of the best houses in Pyatigorsk; her mother walked behind her and bowed adieu to Raevich at the gate.
It was only then that the poor, passionate cadet noticed my presence.
"Did you see?" he said, pressing my hand vigorously. "She is an angel, simply an angel!"
"Why?" I inquired, with an air of the purest simplicity.