It was addressed to Count Skariatine, at his lodging, and it bore the postmark of a town in Great-Russia, between Petersburg and Moscow. Schmidt took out the sheet, and his face suddenly grew very dark and angry. The handwriting was either in reality Akulina's, or it resembled it so closely as to have deceived a better expert than the Cossack.

To judge from the last accents of Akulina's voice she had been repaying Johann Schmidt with compound interest, now that the right was on her side, for the manner in which he had attacked her. As the Count entered, however, all held their peace, and he began to speak in the midst of total silence.

Moreover, and this last consideration determined his action, if he brought the money too late it was to be feared that Fischelowitz would have shut up the shop, after which there would be no certainty of finding him. The Count wished to make the restitution of the money in Akulina's presence, but he was also determined to give the fifty marks directly to the tobacconist.

He determined to wait some time longer, to see whether anything would happen. Meanwhile, he thrust Akulina's letter into his pocket, reflecting that as it was a forgery it would be best that the Count should not have it, lest he should be again misled by the contents. He sat down and waited. Nothing happened.

I only reminded Herr Fischelowitz of what took place because " "Because you have no money of course!" interrupted Akulina. "On the contrary, because I have brought the money, and shall be obliged to you if you will count it." Akulina's jaw dropped, and Fischelowitz looked up in amazement. The Count produced his knotted handkerchief and laid it on the table.

There was no truth in Akulina's statement that a thunder-storm was approaching. The stars shone clear and bright, high above the narrow street, and the solitary man looked up at them, and remembered other days and a freer life and a broader horizon; days when he had been younger than he was now, a life full of a healthier labour, a horizon boundless as that of the little street was limited.

The shock, overtaking him when he was in his normal condition, was tremendous. The colour came and went rapidly in his features, and he caught his breath, leaning heavily upon the little lawyer, who watched his face with some anxiety. Akulina's remark about the Count's madness had made him more careful than he would otherwise have been in his manner of breaking the news.

The reversing of the thing's natural position produced some mysterious effect upon the musical box, and the tune which had been so rudely interrupted by Akulina's well-aimed blow, suddenly began again from the point at which it had stopped, continuing for a few bars and then coming to an end with a sharp twang and a little click.

Possibly he felt that in removing it from the shop, he was taking with it even the memory of the transaction of which the blame had been so bitterly thrown on him; or, possibly, he was really attached to the toy for its associations, or, lastly, he may have felt impelled to save it from Akulina's destroying wrath, so far as it yet could be said to be saved.

"Our Consul came with me," said the lawyer. "He is in the shop. Perhaps you did not notice him." "No I do not think I did. I am afraid he thought me very careless." "Not at all, not at all." Grabofsky began to think that there had been some truth in Akulina's remarks after all, but he kept his opinion to himself, then and afterwards, a course which was justified by subsequent events.