"Ah, Peter Alexandritch!" she said in a whisper and with a marked expression of despair. Then, observing that Papa was trying to open the door, she whispered again:
"Not here. This door is locked. Go round to the door on the other side."
Oh, how terribly all this wrought upon my imagination, racked as it was by grief and terrible forebodings!
So we went round to the other side. In the corridor we met the gardener, Akim, who had been wont to amuse us with his grimaces, but at this moment I could see nothing comical in him. Indeed, the sight of his thoughtless, indifferent face struck me more painfully than anything else. In the maidservants' hall, through which we had to pass, two maids were sitting at their work, but rose to salute us with an expression so mournful that I felt completely overwhelmed.
Passing also through Mimi's room, Papa opened the door of the bedroom, and we entered. The two windows on the right were curtained over, and close to them was seated, Natalia Savishna, spectacles on nose and engaged in darning stockings. She did not approach us to kiss me as she had been used to do, but just rose and looked at us, her tears beginning to flow afresh. Somehow it frightened me to see every one, on beholding us, begin to cry, although they had been calm enough before.
On the left stood the bed behind a screen, while in the great arm-chair the doctor lay asleep. Beside the bed a young, fair- haired and remarkably beautiful girl in a white morning wrapper was applying ice to Mamma's head, but Mamma herself I could not see. This girl was "La Belle Flamande" of whom Mamma had written, and who afterwards played so important a part in our family life. As we entered she disengaged one of her hands, straightened the pleats of her dress on her bosom, and whispered, " She is insensible," Though I was in an agony of grief, I observed at that moment every little detail.
It was almost dark in the room, and very hot, while the air was heavy with the mingled, scent of mint, eau-de-cologne, camomile, and Hoffman's pastilles. The latter ingredient caught my attention so strongly that even now I can never hear of it, or even think of it, without my memory carrying me back to that dark, close room, and all the details of that dreadful time.
Mamma's eyes were wide open, but they could not see us. Never shall I forget the terrible expression in them--the expression of agonies of suffering!