A young, attractive woman lived with an artist in his studio on Znamenka. She was his model, lover, and housekeeper.
The artist was painting her as a bather, standing naked on a small platform, as if she was about to enter a stream in a forest. After working for an hour, the artist would take a break and ask her to make a second pot of coffee.
Well, this is a stop. Heat up a second pot of coffee.
While the coffee was brewing, the woman would sing a song taught to her by another artist, Yartsev, with whom she had lived for a year. Yartsev was a gifted but foolish man who had died from excessive drinking. He had taken her virginity and was often violent towards her when he was drunk.
He took my virginity too, at only the second sitting. Suddenly leapt up from the easel, dropped his palette and brushes, and knocked me off my feet onto a carpet.
The woman had been brought to Moscow by her uncle after she was orphaned at the age of sixteen. She worked at her other uncle's inn, washing dishes and doing laundry. Her aunt had planned to sell her to a brothel, but she was saved by the famous singer Shalyapin and the artist Korovin. They had seen her carrying a large samovar and had asked her to serve them. Korovin had given her ten roubles and asked her to come to his studio the next day. However, he had changed his mind about painting her and sent her to Dr Goloushev, who examined drunks and corpses for the police and also painted. He had started passing her around to different studios, where she posed for various artists.