And with a tragic wave of his arm the Frenchman flings his dinner napkin on the table majestically, and walks out of the room with dignity. Three hours later the table is laid again, and the servants bring in the dinner. Kamyshev sits alone at the table. After the preliminary glass he feels a craving to babble. He wants to chatter, but he has no listener.
"My God! accursed be that hour when the fatal thought of leaving my country entered my head! . . ." "Come, come, come . . . I was joking!" says Kamyshev in a lower tone. "Queer fish he is; he doesn't understand a joke. One can't say a word!" "My dear friend!" shrieks Champoun, reassured by Kamyshev's tone.
Why, whatever he may be, we ought not to despise him. . . . There's something good in everyone. Who knows," sighed the colonel's lady, looking her daughters up and down anxiously, "perhaps your fate is here. Change your dresses anyway. . . ." SUNDAY, midday. A landowner, called Kamyshev, is sitting in his dining-room, deliberately eating his lunch at a luxuriously furnished table.
I call him one thing and another, a Jew, and a scurvy rascal, and I make a pig's ear out of my coat tail, and catch him by his Jewish curls. He doesn't take offence." "But he is a slave! For a kopeck he is ready to put up with any insult!" "Come, come, come . . . that's enough! Peace and concord!" Champoun powders his tear-stained face and goes with Kamyshev to the dining-room.
"What is Alphonse Ludovikovitch doing?" he asks the footman. "He is packing his trunk, sir." "What a noodle! Lord forgive us!" says Kamyshev, and goes in to the Frenchman.
Before you have gone three or four miles they pounce upon you." Champoun raises his head and looks mistrustfully at Kamyshev. "Yes. . . . You will see! They will see from your face you haven't a passport, and ask at once: Who is that? Alphonse Champoun. We know that Alphonse Champoun. Wouldn't you like to go under police escort somewhere nearer home!" "Are you joking?"
The duties of the former tutor were not complicated. He had to be properly dressed, to smell of scent, to listen to Kamyshev's idle babble, to eat and drink and sleep and apparently that was all. For this he received a room, his board, and an indefinite salary. Kamyshev eats and as usual babbles at random.
Champoun is sitting on the floor in his room, and with trembling hands is packing in his trunk his linen, scent bottles, prayer-books, braces, ties. . . . All his correct figure, his trunk, his bedstead and the table all have an air of elegance and effeminacy. Great tears are dropping from his big blue eyes into the trunk. "Where are you off to?" asks Kamyshev, after standing still for a little.
The Frenchman says nothing. "Do you want to go away?" Kamyshev goes on. "Well, you know, but . . . I won't venture to detain you. But what is queer is, how are you going to travel without a passport? I wonder! You know I have lost your passport. I thrust it in somewhere between some papers, and it is lost. . . . And they are strict about passports among us.