'Listen! I cannot deceive you. I have to tell you. You ask what it is? It is that I have loved before.'
She again laid her hand on his with an imploring gesture. He was silent.
'You want to know who it was? It was--the Emperor.'
'We all love him. I can imagine you, a schoolgirl at the Institute . . .'
'No, it was later. I was infatuated, but it passed . . . I must tell you . . .'
'No, it was not simply--' She covered her face with her hands.
'What? You gave yourself to him?'
He sprang up and stood before her with trembling jaws, pale as death. He now remembered how the Emperor, meeting him on the Nevsky, had amiably congratulated him.