Petersburg There Was Utter Senselessness

Nikolai Apollonovich, overcoming a most intense pain in his knee joint (he had really taken quite a knock), was limping slightly: he was running down the booming expanse of the corridor.

A meeting with his mother!

Whirlwinds of thoughts and meanings overwhelmed him; or not even whirlwinds of thoughts and meanings: simply whirlwinds of meaninglessness; thus the particles of a comet, penetrating a planet, do not even cause an alteration in the planet’s composition, flying past with staggering swiftness; as they penetrate the heart, they do not even cause any alteration in the rhythm of the heart’s beats; but let the comet’s speed slow down: then hearts will burst: the planet itself will burst: and everything will become a gas; if we could stop the spinning, senseless whirlwind in Ableukhov’s head even for a moment, that senselessness would deck itself out in stormily swollen thoughts.

And – here are those thoughts.

The thought, in the first place, of the horror of his situation; a dreadful situation had now been created (as a consequence of the sardine tin’s disappearance); the sardine tin, or rather the bomb, had disappeared; it had quite clearly disappeared; and therefore: someone had taken the bomb away; but who, who? One of the lackeys; and – therefore: the bomb had fallen into the hands of the police; and – he would be arrested; but this was not the main thing, the main thing was that Apollon Apollonovich himself had taken the bomb away; and had taken it away at the very moment when the matter of the bomb had been settled; and – he knew: knew everything.

Everything – what was that? Why, it was nothing; a plan of murder? There was no plan of murder; Nikolai Apollonovich firmly denied this plan: this plan was a loathsome slander.

There remained the fact of the bomb having been found.

Since his father was summoning him, since his mother wanted to see him – no, he could not possibly know: and he had not taken the bomb out of his room. And as for the lackeys … The lackeys would have discovered everything a long time ago. But no one had said anything. No, they did not know about the bomb. But – where was it, where was it? Had he really put it away in this desk, had he not put it somewhere under a rug, mechanically, by chance?

Things like that happened to him.

In a week it would be discovered of its own accord … Though in fact, no: it would announce its presence somewhere today – with a most dreadful roar (the Ableukhovs decidedly could not endure such roars).

Somewhere, perhaps, – under a rug, under a pillow, on a shelf, it would announce its presence: would roar and burst; the bomb must be found; but he had no time for searching now: Anna Petrovna had arrived.

In the second place: he had been insulted; in the third place: that mangy little Pavel Yakovlevich – he seemed to have only just seen him, returning from his little flat on the Moika; while Pepp Peppovich Pepp – this was the fourth thing: Pepp was a dreadful expansion of the body, a distension of the veins, boiling water in the head …

Oh, it had all got confused: the whirlwinds of thoughts span with inhuman swiftness and roared in his ears, so that there were not even any thoughts: there was utter meaninglessness.

And now, with this meaningless boiling water in his head Nikolai Apollonovich ran along the booming corridor, without adjusting his little frockcoat in his haste and appearing to the gaze like some hunchbacked cripple, limping on his right leg with its painfully aching knee joint.