One day Petrovich
thought long and hard about whether he should travel to Moscow in the platskart coach [where there are no individual compartments] as usual or in a four-bed compartment. Of course, the focus of his deliberations was the difference in price between the two tickets. But then his doubts abandoned him and he bought a ticket for the compartment. When he entered it on the evening of his journey, there were already two persons sitting there. As far as could be judged, they were husband and wife. For a time the three of them travelled in silence, looking each other up and down. A little later, the young man asked Petrovich,
"Are you long back from Switzerland?"
"No, just a short while,"
"You're not publishers, by any chance?"
"No, not publishers!"
Nevertheless, a little later, they got talking and realized that, of course, they have 500 thousand friends in common and that many things in life had happened to them simultaneously. From that moment forwards to part company would have been senseless. And they did not.
All the time that Petrovich was in Moscow, Lyosha and Ira accompanied him and he introduced them to all his friends. They had a great time. It transpired that Ira can sing absolutely beautifully. And Lyosha is a director and actor. And then he was born in Leningrad ‒ but now they live in Moscow. All in all, there was always something happening.
A month after this, Lyosha and Ira came to Peter [Petersburg], and they too invited us everywhere where they went themselves ‒ introduced us to their friends, the most varied and outstanding people. Which is to say, it was clear that all this was a gift of fate, beginning with meeting Lyosha and Ira.
When looked at more closely, this endless string of coincidences did not at all seem so coincidental. Petrovich all this time was glad that he had chosen to buy a ticket for the coupe.
A little later, Petrovich visited Moscow once more, but this time was unable to meet Lyosha and they merely talked over the phone. Petrovich did not know on what day he would be leaving ‒ and there were no tickets for any of the usual trains. With enormous difficulty he managed to buy a ticket for a strange train that left Moscow in the middle of the night and did not even depart from the Leningrad Station as the Petersburg trains usually do. And so Petrovich bursts into the railway coach with all his folders, opens the door ‒ again it's a compartment ‒ and sees... he sees that once more it's Lyosha sitting there. And Lyosha says to Petrovich,
"Well, and now do you understand??"