"Marriage is a serious step," said Ippolit Ippolititch after a moment's thought. "One has to look at it all round and weigh things thoroughly; it's not to be done rashly. Prudence is always a good thing, and especially in marriage, when a man, ceasing to be a bachelor, begins a new life." And he talked of what every one has known for ages.
"I wonder at you how can you sit indoors?" Ippolit Ippolititch was not a talkative person; he either remained silent or talked of things which everybody knew already. Now what he answered was: "Yes, very fine weather. It's May now; we soon shall have real summer. And summer's a very different thing from winter. In the winter you have to heat the stoves, but in summer you can keep warm without.
In October the school sustained a heavy loss: Ippolit Ippolititch was taken ill with erysipelas on the head and died. For two days before his death he was unconscious and delirious, but even in his delirium he said nothing that was not perfectly well known to every one. "The Volga flows into the Caspian Sea. . . . Horses eat oats and hay. . . ."
Poor Ippolit Ippolititch had been frankly stupid, and all the boys, as well as his colleagues, knew what he was and what to expect from him; but he, Nikitin, like the Czech, knew how to conceal his stupidity and cleverly deceived every one by pretending that, thank God, his teaching was a success.
One of the nests rocked; out of it peeped Shebaldin, shouting loudly: "You have not read Lessing!" Nikitin shuddered all over and opened his eyes. Ippolit Ippolititch was standing before the sofa, and throwing back his head, was putting on his cravat. "Get up; it's time for school," he said. "You shouldn't sleep in your clothes; it spoils your clothes. You should sleep in your bed, undressed."
Ippolit Ippolititch put on his trousers hurriedly and asked in a flutter: "What is it?" "I am going to be married." Nikitin sat down beside his companion, and looking at him wonderingly, as though surprised at himself, said: "Only fancy, I am going to be married! To Masha Shelestov! I made an offer today." "Well? She seems a good sort of girl. Only she is very young."
Nikitin lived nearly half a mile from the Shelestoys' in a flat of eight rooms at the rent of three hundred roubles a year, which he shared with his colleague Ippolit Ippolititch, a teacher of geography and history.
At the midday recess Masha used to send him lunch in a snow-white napkin, and he would eat it slowly, with pauses, to prolong the enjoyment of it; and Ippolit Ippolititch, whose lunch as a rule consisted of nothing but bread, looked at him with respect and envy, and gave expression to some familiar fact, such as: "Men cannot live without food."
Dear Ippolit Ippolititch, the teacher of history and geography, who always says what every one has heard before, pressed my hand warmly and said with feeling: "'Hitherto you have been unmarried and have lived alone, and now you are married and no longer single. "From the church we went to a two-storied house which I am receiving as part of the dowry.
When Nikitin went in this Ippolit Ippolititch, a snub-nosed, middle-aged man with a reddish beard, with a coarse, good-natured, unintellectual face like a workman's, was sitting at the table correcting his pupils' maps.