Prince Yuri Lubovedsky

In this way my clients could listen to the ‘Marseillaise’ or an operatic air while I shined their shoes. In addition to this, I fastened to the right arm of the chair a little tray of my own make, on which I put a glass, a decanter of water, vermouth, and some illustrated magazines. Thanks to this, my business became more than successful, and lire, not centesimi, began to pour in. Rich young tourists paid particularly well.

Curious gapers would stand round me all day long, most of them waiting for their turn to sit in the armchair so that, while I shined their shoes, they could enjoy something never before seen or heard of, and incidentally show themselves off to the others who hung round all day, the same conceited fools as themselves.

In this crowd I often noticed a certain young lady. She attracted my attention because she seemed quite familiar to me, but for lack of time I did not look at her closely. One day I happened to hear her voice as she said in Russian to the elderly woman with her, ‘I bet it is he’, and I became so intrigued that, managing somehow to get free of my clients, I went straight up to her and asked her in Russian: ‘Tell me please, who are you? It seems to me that I have seen you somewhere.’

‘I am the person,’ she replied, ‘whom you once so hated that the flies which came into the sphere of the radiations of your hate perished. If you recall Prince Lubovedsky, then perhaps you will also recall the unfortunate girl you accompanied from Constantinople to Russia.’

I then immediately recognized her and also the elderly woman with her, the prince’s sister. From that day until they left for , I spent every evening with them at their hotel.

A year and a half after this meeting, accompanied by Professor Skridlov, Vitvitskaia came to the meeting place for one of our big expeditions, and from then on was a permanent member of our itinerant band.