The narrator describes his experience walking in the streets of St. Petersburg. He loves the city at night, and feels comfortable in it. He no longer feels comfortable during the day because all the people he is used to seeing are not there. He drew his emotions from them: if they were happy, he was happy; if they were despondent, he was despondent. New faces made him feel alone. As he walked, the houses would talk to him and tell him how they were being renovated or painted a new color or being torn down. He lives alone in a small apartment in Saint Petersburg with only his old and unsociable maid Matryona to keep him company. He tells the story of his relationship with a young woman called Nastenka (a diminutive of the name Anastasia). He first sees her standing against a railing, crying. He becomes concerned and considers asking her what is wrong, but eventually continues walking. There is something special about her and he is very curious. When he hears her scream, he intervenes, saving her from a man who is harassing her. The young woman holds his arm, and he explains that he is alone, that he has never known a woman, and that he feels timid with her. Nastenka reassures him that ladies like timidity and she likes it, too. He tells her how he spends every minute of every day dreaming about a girl that would just say two words to him, who will not repulse him or ridicule him as he approached. He explains how he thinks of talking to a random girl timidly, respectfully, passionately, telling her that he is dying in solitude and that he has no chance of success with her. He tells her that it is a girl's duty not to rudely reject or mock one as timid and luckless as he is. As they reach Nastenka's door, he asks if he will ever see her again. Before she can answer, he adds that he will be at the spot they met tomorrow anyway just so he can relive this one happy moment in his lonely life. She agrees, stating she can't forbid him not to come and she has to be there anyway. The girl would tell him her story and be with him, provided that it does not lead into romance. She too is as lonely as the narrator.
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The Romance of Lust, or Early Experiences is a Victorian erotic novel written an...More