Free Petersburg by Andrei Bely

Book: Petersburg by Andrei Bely Read Free Book Online
Authors: Andrei Bely
Tags: Fiction, General, Classics
both, interrupting each other, began to talk concernedly to one another: about the weather, about how the disturbances of recent weeks had affected Nikolai Apollonovich’s philosophical work, about the cases of swindling that the officer had uncovered in the provisions commission (the officer was in charge of provisions somewhere out there).
    Thus did they talk all the way.
    And there was the Moika already: the same bright, three-storeyed building of the Alexandrine era; and the same stripe of ornamental stucco above the second storey; circle after circle; and in the circle a Roman helmet on crossed swords.They had already passed the building; there after the building was a house; and there – windows … The officer stopped outside the house and for some reason suddenly flushed; and, having flushed, said:
    ‘Well, goodbye … are you going further?…’
    Nikolai Apollonovich’s heart began to thump violently: he was getting ready to ask something; and – no, he did not ask; now he stood alone in front of the slammed door; memories of an unsuccessful love, or more correctly – sensual attraction – these memories seized him; and more violently did the bluish veins at his temples begin to throb; now he was considering his revenge: outrage at the emotions of the lady who had wounded him and who lived through this entrance porch; he had been considering his revenge for about a month now; and – for the moment about this not a word!
    The same bright, five-columned building with a stripe of ornamental stucco; circle after circle; and in the circle a Roman helmet on crossed swords.
    In the evening the prospect is suffused with a fiery murk.Regularly in the centre rise the apples of the electric lights.While along the sides plays the variable lustre of signs; here, here and here rubies of lights suddenly flare; there – emeralds flare.An instant: the rubies are there; while the emeralds are here, here and here.
    In the evening the Nevsky is suffused with a fiery murk.And the walls of many houses burn with a diamond light: words formed from diamonds brightly scintillate: ‘Coffee House’, ‘Farce’, ‘Tate Diamonds’, ‘Omega Watches’.Greenish by day, but now effulgent, a display window opens wide on the Nevsky its fiery maw: everywhere there are tens, hundreds of infernal fiery maws: these maws agonizingly disgorge on to the flagstones their brilliant white light; they spew a turbid wetness like fiery rust.And the prospect is gnawed to shreds by rust.The white brilliance falls on bowlers, top hats, feathers; the white brilliance rushes onwards, towards the centre of the prospect, shoving aside the evening darkness from the pavement: and the evening wetness dissolves above the Nevsky in glitterings, forming a dim, bloody-yellowish lees made of blood and mud.Thus from the Finnish marshes the city will show you the site of its mad way of life as a red, red stain: and that stain is soundlessly seen from the distance in the dark-coloured night.As you journey through our immense motherland, from the distance you will see a stain of red blood rising into the dark-coloured night; in fear you will say: ‘Is that not the place of the fires of Gehenna over there?’ You will say it – and will go trudging off into the distance: you will try to avoid the place of Gehenna.
    But if, reckless reader, you dared to walk towards Gehenna, the brightly-bloody brilliance that horrified you from the distance would slowly dissolve into a whitish, not entirely pure radiance, surround you with many-lighted houses, – and that is all: in the end it would disintegrate into a great multitude of lights.
    And there would be no Gehenna.
    Nikolai Apollonovich did not see the Neva, in his eyes he still saw that same little house: the windows, the shadows behind the windows; behind the windows, perhaps, merry voices: the voice of the Yellow Cuirassier, Baron Ommau-Ommergau; of the BlueCuirassier, Count Aven and her – her voice … Here sits

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