FOR a cultivated man to be ignorant of foreign languages is a great inconvenience. Vorotov became acutely conscious of it when, after taking his degree, he began upon a piece of research work. "It's awful! Without languages I'm like a bird without wings. I might just as well give up the work."

And Vorotov, seeing her perturbation, realised how much a rouble meant to her, and how bitter it would be to her to lose what she was earning. "I ought to tell you," he muttered, growing more and more confused, and quavering inwardly; he hurriedly stuffed the envelope into his pocket and went on: "Excuse me, I . . . I must leave you for ten minutes."

She introduced herself as a teacher of French, Alice Osipovna Enquête, and told Vorotov that she had been sent to him by one of his friends. "Delighted! "It was Pyotr Sergeitch sent you? Yes, yes . . . I asked him about it. Delighted!" As he talked to Mdlle. Enquête he looked at her shyly and with curiosity. She was a genuine Frenchwoman, very elegant and still quite young.

And Alice turned pale probably from dismay, reflecting that after this declaration she could not come here again and get a rouble a lesson. With a frightened look in her eyes she said in a loud whisper: "Ach, you mustn't! Don't speak, I entreat you! You mustn't!" And Vorotov did not sleep all night afterwards; he was tortured by shame; he blamed himself and thought intensely.

Judging from her pale, languid face, her short curly hair, and her unnaturally slim waist, she might have been eighteen; but looking at her broad, well-developed shoulders, the elegant lines of her back and her severe eyes, Vorotov thought that she was not less than three-and-twenty and might be twenty-five; but then again he began to think she was not more than eighteen.

Enquête, taught in a private school till dinnertime, and after dinner was busy till evening giving lessons in different good families. She went away leaving behind her the faint fragrance of a woman's clothes. For a long time afterwards Vorotov could not settle to work, but, sitting at the table stroking its green baize surface, he meditated.

Vorotov had never seen her like that. She was evidently happy, contented, warm, sincere. What for? Why? Perhaps because these men were her friends and belonged to her own circle. And Vorotov felt there was a terrible gulf between himself and that circle.

Vorotov rummaged in his bookcase and picked out a dog's-eared French book. "Will this do?" "It's all the same," she said. "In that case let us begin, and good luck to it! Let's begin with the title . . . 'Mémoires." "Reminiscences," Mdlle. Enquête translated.

She opened Margot, which she had brought with her, and without introduction began: "French grammar has twenty-six letters. The first letter is called A, the second B . . ." "Excuse me," Vorotov interrupted, smiling. "I must warn you, mademoiselle, that you must change your method a little in my case.

And he made up his mind at all costs to overcome his innate laziness, and to learn French and German; and began to look out for a teacher. One winter noon, as Vorotov was sitting in his study at work, the servant told him that a young lady was inquiring for him. "Ask her in," said Vorotov. And a young lady elaborately dressed in the last fashion walked in.