15:16 hrs – Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation

Posted on December 27, 2009


Two young men travel by train sitting at opposite windows. One of them swarthy, the other one fair. One of them cocky, the other one demure. A handsome conductor moves into the space between them. Tickets please, he says. We don’t have tickets, says the darker of the two travelers, but we are gentlemen. This is no time for gentlemen in Russia, says the conductor, whose face has suddenly assumed an ugly, common expression. The kinder looking of the young men quotes Pushkin: “The illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten-thousand truths.” The conductor sighs and pulls his upper over his lower lip, looking shiftless. The brash companion laughs. The conductor pats both of them on the shoulder, simultaneously, smiling. Myshkin, Rogoshin, he says, chortles and waves himself away like a fly on the wall.