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IVAN LAPKIN, a youth of pleasing exterior, and Anna Zamblitskaya, a girl with a tip-tilted nose, descended the steep river bank and took their seats on a bench at its foot. The bench stood at the water’s edge in a thicket of young willows. It was a lovely spot. Sitting there, one was hidden from all the world and observed only by fish and the daddy-long-legs that skimmed like lightning across the surface of the water. The young people were armed with fishing-rods, nets, cans containing worms, and other fishing appurtenances. They sat down on the bench and immediately began to fish.
“I am glad that we are alone at last,” began Lapkin glancing behind him. “I have a great deal to say to you, Miss Anna, a very great deal. When first I saw you—you’ve got a bite!—I realized at last the reason for my existence. I knew that you were the idol at whose feet I was to lay the whole of an honourable and industrious life—that’s a big one biting! On seeing you I fell in love for the first time in my life. I fell madly in love!— Don’t pull yet, let it bite a little longer!— Tell me, dearest, I beg you, if I may aspire, not to a return of my affection—no, I am not worthy of that, I dare not even dream of it—but tell me if I may aspire to—pull!” With a shriek, Anna jerked the arm that held the fishing-rod into the air; a little silvery-green fish dangled glistening in the sunlight.