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12. CHAPTER XII (continued)
No, it was too improbable. Suddenly I leapt up with the idea of seeking Astley and forcing him to speak. There could be no doubt that he knew more than I did. Astley? Well, he was another problem for me to solve.
Suddenly there came a knock at the door, and I opened it to find Potapitch awaiting me.
"Sir," he said, "my mistress is asking for you."
"Indeed? But she is just departing, is she not? The train leaves in ten minutes' time."
"She is uneasy, sir; she cannot rest. Come quickly, sir; do not delay."
I ran downstairs at once. The Grandmother was just being carried out of her rooms into the corridor. In her hands she held a roll of bank-notes.
"Alexis Ivanovitch," she cried, "walk on ahead, and we will set out again."
"But whither, Madame?"
"I cannot rest until I have retrieved my losses. March on ahead, and ask me no questions. Play continues until midnight, does it not?"
For a moment I stood stupefied--stood deep in thought; but it was not long before I had made up my mind.
"With your leave, Madame," I said, "I will not go with you."
"And why not? What do you mean? Is every one here a stupid good-for-nothing?"
"Pardon me, but I have nothing to reproach myself with. I merely will not go. I merely intend neither to witness nor to join in your play. I also beg to return you your five hundred gulden. Farewell."
Laying the money upon a little table which the Grandmother's chair happened to be passing, I bowed and withdrew.
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