I am beginning to think that fate has cheated me, Doctor. There are a great many people, perhaps no better than I, who are happy without having had to pay for their happiness. But I have paid for everything, absolutely everything! And so dearly! Why should I have had to pay such terribly high interest? My dear friend, you are always so considerate of me, so tactful, you are afraid to tell me the truth, but do you think I don’t know what my illness is? I know perfectly well. Can you tell funny stories? Nikolai can. You say that Nikolai is this or that, one thing and another. How can you know him? Is it possible to know a man in six months? That is a remarkable man, Doctor, and I am sorry you didn’t know him two or three years ago. Now he’s depressed, he doesn’t talk, he doesn’t do anything, but then… how fascinating he was! I fell in love with him at first sight. I just looked at him and the trap was sprung! He said, “Come,” and I cut myself off from everything; it was just like cutting dead leaves with a scissors, and I went. But now, it’s different. Now he goes to the Lebedevs’ to amuse himself with other women, and I sit in the garden and listen to owls screech.