Prince Yuri Lubovedsky
Knowing the prince’s idealism and kindness, I took a very sceptical attitude toward his project and considered that in this case his efforts would be in vain. I even thought then: ‘What falls from the wagon is lost!’
Without having even set eyes on Vitvitskaia, there arose in me, for some reason or other, something like hatred for her; but I could not refuse the prince, and with a reluctant heart consented to accompany this, as I then thought, worthless woman.
I first saw her several days later when we boarded the boat. She was above middle height, very beautiful, with a good figure and brown hair. She had kind, honest eyes, which sometimes became diabolically cunning. It seems to me that the Thais of history must have been of the same type. At the first sight of her, she aroused in me a dual feeling towards her—now of hate, now of pity.
And so I went with her to the Tambov province. She stayed with the prince’s sister, who became very fond of her and took her abroad where they lived for long periods, particularly in Italy. Little by little, under the influence of the prince’s sister and the prince himself, she grew interested in their ideas, which soon became an integral part of her essence. She began to work on herself in earnest, and anyone who met her, even if only once, could feel the result of that work.
After I had taken her to Russia, I did not see her again for a long time. It was, it seems to me, at least four years later that I met her, quite by chance, with the sister of Prince Yuri Lubovedsky in Italy in the following peculiar circumstances:
Once I was in Rome, as always pursuing my aim, and since my money was fast running out, I followed the advice of two young Aïsors whose acquaintance I had made there, and with their help began to shine shoes on the street.
It could not be said that my business went very well at first, and so, to increase my income, I decided to run it on new and original lines. For this purpose I ordered a special armchair under which, hidden from onlookers, I placed an Edison phonograph. To this I attached a rubber tube with earpieces on the end, in such a way that whoever sat in the armchair could put them to his ears, and I would then unnoticeably set the machine in motion.