I met him in the harbor of Odessa. Fot three successive days his square, strongly built figure attracted my attention. His face, of a Caucasian type, was framed in a handsome beard. He haunted me. I saw him standing for hours together on the stone quay, with the handle of his walking stick in his mouth, staring down vacantly, with his black almond, shaped eyes into the muddy waters of the harbor. Ten times a day, he would pass me by with the gait of a careless lounger. Whom could he be?
I began to watch him. As if anxious to excite my curiosity, he seemed to cross my path more and more often. In the end, his fashionably, cut light check suit, his black hat, like that of an artist, his indolent lounge, and even his listless, bored glance grew quite familiar to me. His presence was utterly unaccountable, here in the harbor. The whistling of the steamers and engines, the clanking of chains, the shouting of workmen, all the hurried maddening bustle of a port, dominated one's sensations. They deadened one's nerves and brain. Eveyone else about the port was enmeshed in its immense complex machinery, which demanded incessant vigilance and endless toil.