The artist Mihailov was, as always, at work when the cards of
Count Vronsky and Golenishtchev were brought to him. In the
morning he had been working in his studio at his big picture. On
getting home he flew into a rage with his wife for not having
managed to put off the landlady, who had been asking for money.
"I've said it to you twenty times, don't enter into details.
You're fool enough at all times, and when you start explaining
things in Italian you're a fool three times as foolish," he said
after a long dispute.
"Don't let it run so long; it's not my fault. If I had the
"Leave me in peace, for God's sake!" Mihailov shrieked, with
tears in his voice, and, stopping his ears, he went off into his
working room, the other side of a partition wall, and closed the
door after him. "Idiotic woman!" he said to himself, sat down to
the table, and, opening a portfolio, he set to work at once with
peculiar fervor at a sketch he had begun.
Never did he work with such fervor and success as when things
went ill with him, and especially when he quarreled with his
wife. "Oh! damn them all!" he thought as he went on working. He
was making a sketch for the figure of a man in a violent rage. A
sketch had been made before, but he was dissatisfied with it.
"No, that one was better...where is it?" He went back to his
wife, and scowling, and not looking at her, asked his eldest
little girl, where was that piece of paper he had given them?
The paper with the discarded sketch on it was found, but it was
dirty, and spotted with candle-grease. Still, he took the
sketch, laid it on his table, and, moving a little away, screwing
up his eyes, he fell to gazing at it. All at once he smiled and
"That's it! that's it!" he said, and, at once picking up the
pencil, he began rapidly drawing. The spot of tallow had given
the man a new pose.