Mikhail Bulgakov the heart of a dog and other stories

:)


Download 1.1 Mb.
Page24/28
Date conversion04.11.2016
Size1.1 Mb.
1   ...   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28

6


It was a winter evening. The end of January. The time before dinner, before reception. On the lintel of the door into the reception room hung a white sheet of paper on which was written in the hand of Professor Preobrazhensky:

"I forbid the eating of sunflower seeds in the flat.


P. Preobrazhensky."
and in blue pencil, in letters large as cream cakes, in the hand of Bormental:

"Playing musical instruments between 5 in the evening and 7 in the morning is forbidden."

Then, in the hand of Zina:

"When you get back, tell Philip Philipovich: I don't know where he's gone. Fyodor said he was with Shvonder."

In the hand of Preobrazhensky:

"Must I wait a hundred years for the glazier?"

In Darya Petrovna's hand (printed letters):

"Zina has gone to the shop, said she would bring him."

In the dining room everything combined to suggest late evening, thanks to the lamp with the silken shade. The light from the sideboard fell in two distinct patches because the mirror glass was stuck over by a diagonal cross from one corner to the other. Philip Philipovich, bending over the table, was absorbed in a huge, outspread newspaper. Lightning distorted his face and from his clenched teeth came a sprinkling of choked-back, foreshortened, gurgling words. He was reading a report:

"There can be no doubt whatsoever that this is his ' illegitimate' (as they used to say in rotten bourgeois society) son. Now we know how the pseudo-scientific bourgeoisie take their pleasures! Anyone can occupy seven rooms until such time as the shining sword of justice gleams red above their heads. Shv...r."

Insistently, the sound of a balalaika played with virtuoso skill penetrated through two dividing walls, and ornate variations on The Moon Is Shining got all confused in Philip Philipovich's head with the words of the newspaper report in a detestable mix-up. Having read to the end, he made a play of spitting over his shoulder and automatically began to sing under his breath:

"The moon is shi-i-ningshi-i-ning ... the moon is ... shi-ning... got to my brain, that accursed tune!"

He rang the bell. Zina's face appeared through the curtains.

"Tell him that it's five o'clock, time to stop, and call him in here, please."

Philip Philipovich sat at the table in his armchair. Between the fingers of his left hand projected the brown end of a cigar. By the door-curtain, lounging against the lintel, legs crossed, stood a small man of unprepossessing appearance. The hair on his head grew in harsh outcroppings like bushes on an uprooted field and his face was covered by an unshaven downy stubble. The brow was startlingly low. Almost immediately above the thick, black, unkempt brows rose the brush-like hair of the head.

The jacket with the tear under the left armpit had wisps of straw sticking to it, the striped trousers were torn on the right knee and stained lilac on the left. Knotted round the man's neck was an electric blue tie speared into place by an artificial ruby pin. The colour of this tie was so loud that Philip Philipovich, from time to time closing his weary eyes, seemed to see against a background of total darkness, now on the ceiling and now on the wall, a blazing torch with a pale blue halo. Opening his eyes, he was at once blinded again because, showering out a fan of light from the floor, a pair of patent leather shoes topped by white spats immediately took and held the eye.

As if he were wearing galoshes, Philip Philipovich thought with a feeling of repulsion, sighed, sniffed, and began to fiddle with his extinguished cigar. The man at the door stood smoking a cigarette, scattering the ash over his shirt-front, and shooting the odd glance at the Professor from dull eyes.

The clock on the wall with the wooden partridge struck five times. Inside it, something continued to groan as Philip Philipovich opened the conversation.

"I believe I have already twice requested you not to use the high bunk in the kitchen for sleeping, especially in the day-time?"

The man coughed hoarsely, as though he were choking on a small bone, and replied:

"The air suits us better in the kitchen."

His voice was strange, rather muffled, yet at the same time resonant, as though it came from inside a small barrel.

Philip Philipovich shook his head and asked:

"Where did that repulsive object come from? I refer to the tie."

Eyes following the finger, the fellow squinted over his pouting lip to gaze fondly at the tie.

"What's repulsive about it?" the man said. "It's a smart tie. Darya Petrovna gave it me."

"Darya Petrovna gave you an abomination, only exceeded by the style of those shoes. What sort of glittering trash are they made of? Where did you get them? What did I ask you to do? Get some respectable shoes; and what do you appear in? Surely Doctor Bormental did not choose those?"

"I told him to get patent leather. Am I worse than other people? Just take a walk down the Kuznetsky (5) — they're all wearing patents."

Philip Philipovich turned his head and said with emphasis:

"Sleeping in the kitchen must stop. Do you understand? It is an impertinence! You are in the way there. There are women."

The man's face grew dark and he pouted:

"Huh — women! Hoity-toity! Fine ladies! An ordinary servant she is and puts on enough side for a commissar's wife. It's all that slut Zina telling tales."

Philip Philipovich gave him a quelling glance:

"Do not dare to call Zina a slut! Do you understand?"

Silence.


"Do you understand, I ask you?"

"I understand."

"Take that obscenity off your neck. You ... ought ... you just take a look at yourself in the mirror and see what kind of figure you cut! Some sort of clown. And don't throw your cigarette butts on the floor — for the hundredth time. I don't want to hear one more swearword in this flat — ever! Don't spit! There is the spittoon. Don't make a mess in the lavatory. Do not even talk to Zina any more. She complains that you wait for her in dark corners. You be careful! Who answered a patient's inquiry The devil alone knows!'? Where do you think you are, in some kind of low dive?"

"Why are you so strict with me, Dad," the man suddenly burst out in a tearful whine.

Philip Philipovich blushed, his spectacles glittered.

"Who are you calling Dad? What do you mean by such familiarity? I never want to hear that word again. You are to address me by my name and patronymic."

A cheeky expression flared up in the man's face.

"Why are you like that all the time... Don't spit, don't smoke, don't go there ... what is all this, I'd like to know? There's as many rules as for passengers on the tram. Why do you make my life a misery? And as for my calling you 'Dad' — you've no call to object to that. Did I ask to have that operation?" The man's voice rose to an indignant bark. "A fine business! They go and grab hold of an animal, slit his head open with a knife, and then they can't face up to the result. Perhaps I didn't give my permission for the operation. And by the same token (the man looked up at the ceiling as though recalling some kind of formula) and by the same token, neither did my next of kin. I may well have the right to sue you."

Philip Philipovich's eyes grew completely round, the cigar dropped from his hand. What a type! flashed through his head.

"You wish to complain that you have been turned into a man?" he demanded, eyes narrowing. "Perhaps you prefer to scavenge amongst the rubbish heaps? To freeze under the gateways? Now if I had known that!.."

"Why do you keep on at me! Rubbish heaps, rubbish heaps. I was making an honest living. And if I'd died under your knife? What have you to say to that, comrade?"

"Philip Philipovich!" Philip Philipovich exclaimed irritably. "I am no comrade of yours! This is monstrous!" A nightmare! A nightmare! the thought came unbidden to his mind.

"Well yes, of course, how else..." the man said ironically and victoriously. "We understand. Of course we are no comrade of yours! How could we be? We never had the benefit of being taught at universities, we never lived in flats with 15 rooms and bathrooms. Only now the time has come to leave all that behind you. At the present time everybody has their rights."

Blanching, Philip Philipovich listened to the man's reasoning. The latter paused in his tirade and demonstratively headed for the ashtray with a chewed cigarette-end in his hand. His walk was ungainly. He took a long time squashing the stub into the shell with an expression that clearly said: "Garn! Take that!" Having put out the cigarette, on his way back to the door he suddenly snapped his teeth and buried his nose in his armpit.

"Use your fingers to catch fleas! Your fingers!" yelled Philip Philipovich furiously. "I cannot conceive where you get them from."

"Well, you don't think I breed them specially, do you?" the man said in injured tones. "Fleas like me, that's all there is to it," whereupon he searched the lining of his sleeve with his finger and released a puff of light orangey-red cotton wool into the air.

Philip Philipovich raised his eyes to the garlands on the ceiling and began to drum on the table with his fingers. Having executed the flea, the man went to sit down. When he was seated he raised his hands and relaxed the wrists, letting them drop along the lapels of his jacket. His eyes appeared glued to the pattern of the parquet. He was surveying his shoes, which gave him great pleasure. Philip Philipovich glanced in the direction of the brilliantly twinkling stumpy toes and said:

"What else did you want to see me about?"

"What else? Simple enough. Documents. I need a document, Philip Philipovich."

Philip Philipovich twitched slightly.

"Hm ... the devil! A document! Yes indeed... Hm ... but perhaps, somehow or other, it might be possible..." His voice sounded uncertain and doomed.

"Where's your common sense?" replied the man with confidence. "How can one live without a document? That is—I beg pardon. But you know yourself a person without a document is strictly forbidden to exist. In the first place, the house committee..."

"What has the house committee to do with it?"

"What do you mean, what? They happened to run into me and they asked: When are you going to register as an inhabitant of this house?"

"Oh, Lord!" exclaimed Philip Philipovich miserably. "They happened to run into you', 'they asked'. I can imagine what you told them. I forbade you to go slinking around on the stairs."

"What do you think I am, a convict?" the man demanded on a note of surprise, and even the red pin at his throat glowed up with the awareness of injured innocence. "What do you mean by 'go slinking around'? I take exception to such words. I walk, like everybody else."

As he spoke he stamped his lacquered feet on the parquet.

Philip Philipovich fell silent. His eyes wandered. Self-control, he thought. One must, after all, control oneself. He made for the sideboard and downed a glass of water in one gulp.

"Excellent," he said more calmly. "We won't argue over words. So, what has your charming house committee to say for itself?"

"What do you suppose it says? Anyway, there's no call to go branding them as charming. They defend people's interests."

"Whose interests, may one ask?"

"Everyone knows that. The working class element's."

Philip Philipovich's eyes bulged.

"Why, pray, should you consider yourself a worker!"

"That's obvious. I'm no Nepman. (6).

"Right then, let that pass. And so, what precisely does it require of me in defence of your revolutionary interests?"

"That's obvious—you ought to register me. They say—whoever heard of anyone living in Moscow without being properly registered? That's for starters. Then the most important thing is to have a record card. I don't want to be taken for a deserter. Then again there's the Union, the Labour Exchange..." (7)

"And how, pray, am I to go about registering you? — On the basis of this table-cloth, perhaps, or of my own passport? One must, after all, make allowances for the situation. Don't forget that you are—uh—hmm—you see, you are, so to speak—an unexpected development, a being that originated in the laboratory," Philip Philipovich spoke with ever-decreasing assurance.

The man preserved a triumphant silence.

"Excellent. What, in the last analysis, do we need in order to arrange everything to the satisfaction of that house committee of yours? You have neither name nor surname."

"I can't be blamed for that. All I have to do is to choose a name for myself. I announce it in the newspaper, and that's it."

"And what do you wish to be called?"

The man straightened his tie and replied:

"Polygraph Polygraphovich."

"Don't play the fool," frowned Philip Philipovich. "I am speaking seriously."

A sarcastic smile curled the man's meagre moustache.

"There's one thing I don't understand," he said gleefully and with emphasis. "I mustn't swear, I mustn't spit—but all I ever hear from you is ' Fool, fool.' I see that in the RSFSR swearing must be for Professors only."

Philip Philipovich flushed heavily, poured himself out a glass of water and smashed it. Having recruited his forces from another glass he thought: If he goes on this way he'll be telling me how I should behave, and he'll be absolutely right. I am losing my self-control.

He half turned in his chair, bowing slightly from the waist with exaggerated courtesy and with iron resolve forced out:

"I beg your par-don. My nerves are playing me up. Your choice of name seemed curious to me. Where, I would be interested to know, did you dig it up?"

"The house committee advised me. We looked through the calendar and they said to me: what do you fancy? So I chose that one."

"There could not possibly be anything of the sort in any calendar."

"Now you do surprise me," the man smiled sarcastically. "Considering it's hanging in your consulting room."

Philip Philipovich, without getting up from his chair, lent over to the bell on the wall. Zina answered his ring.

"The calendar from the consulting room."

There was a pause. Zina returned with the calendar. Philip Philipovich asked:

"Where?"

"His day is celebrated on 4 March."

"Show me... Hm... Damn it... Into the stove with it, Zina, this moment."

Zina, eyes popping with fright, went off with the calendar and the man shook his head reproachfully.

"And may I know your surname?"

"I am prepared to accept my hereditary surname."

"What's that? Hereditary? And that is..."

"Sharikov."



____________________
Before the desk in the study stood the chairman of the house committee Shvonder wearing a leather jacket. Bormental sat in the armchair. The rosy cheeks of the doctor (he had just come in out of the frost) wore the same lost expression as was to be seen on the face of Philip Philipovich, who was sitting next to him.

"What should I write?" he asked impatiently.

"Well," said Shvonder, "there's nothing complicated about it. Write an attestation, Citizen Professor: that for this, that or the other reason, you know the person presenting the aforesaid to be in actual fact Sharikov, Polygraph Polygraphovich, who was, hm, born here in your flat."

Bormental made a bewildered movement in his chair. Philip Philipovich tugged at his moustache.

"Hm ... what a devilish situation! You can't imagine anything more idiotic. There can be no question of his having been born, he simply ... well, er..."

"It is for you to decide," remarked Shvonder with quiet malice. "Whether or not he was born ... taken by and large, it was your experiment, Professor! You are the creator of Citizen Sharikov."

"As simple as that," barked Sharikov from the bookcase. He was gazing at the reflection of his tie mirrored in the depths of the glass.

"I would be most grateful," Philip Philipovich retorted, "if you would keep out of this conversation. You have no grounds for saying it was simple... It was very far from simple."

"Why should I keep out of it," mumbled Sharikov, taking offence.

Shvonder immediately supported him.

"Forgive me, Professor, Citizen Sharikov is quite right. It is his right to take part in any discussion about his own fate and more especially as we are speaking of documents. One's document is the most important thing in the world."

At that moment a deafening ringing above their heads interrupted the conversation. Philip Philipovich said, "Yes" into the receiver, flushed and shouted:

"Pray do not disturb me on matters of no importance! What business is it of yours?" And hung up with some violence.

Pure joy spread over Shvonder's face.

Philip Philipovich, scarlet in the face, cried out:

"In a word, let us get this over and done with!"

He tore a piece of paper from the block and wrote down a few words, then read aloud in an exasperated voice:

"I hereby certify ... the devil alone knows what this is all about... huhhm ... that the person presenting this paper is a human being obtained during a laboratory experiment on the brain, who requires documents... Dammit! In general I am against obtaining these idiotic documents. Signature—Professor Preobrazhensky."

"Rather curious, Professor," said Shvonder in an injured voice, "how can you say documents are idiotic? I cannot give permission for any person without documents to reside in this house, particularly one not registered for the reserve with the militia. What if all of a sudden there was a war against the imperialist predators?"

"I'm not going to war, not for anyone!" Sharikov yelped, frowning into the bookcase.

Shvonder was taken aback, but recovered immediately and remarked politely to Sharikov:

"You, Citizen Sharikov, are speaking in a very irresponsible manner. It is essential to register for the reserve."

"I'll register for the reserve all right, but as to going to war — you can stuff that one," replied Sharikov, straightening his tie.

It was Shvonder's turn to be embarrassed. Preobrazhensky exchanged malicious but anguished glances with Bormental. There is a moral to be drawn, don't you think? Bormental nodded significantly.

"I was severely wounded in the course of the operation," whined Sharikov. "Look what they did to me," and he pointed to his head. Around the forehead ran the scar from the operation, still very fresh.

"Are you an anarchist-individualist?" asked Shvonder, raising his brows.

"I ought to have exemption on medical grounds," Sharikov replied to this one " — a white ticket."

"Well, we'll see, that is not the matter at issue," replied Shvonder in some confusion. "The fact remains that we shall send the Professor's attestation to the militia and you will get your document."

"Here, listen," Philip Philipovich suddenly interrupted him, clearly tormented by some secret thought. "You don't happen to have a spare room somewhere in this house, do you? I would agree to buy it from you."

Yellow sparks appeared in Shvonder's brown eyes. "No, Professor, I deeply regret, I have no spare room. And I won't have."

Philip Philipovich pursed his lips and said nothing. Again the telephone rang out shrilly. Philip Philipovich, without answering, silently tipped the receiver off the hook so that it hung suspended on the pale-blue cord. They all jumped. The old man's feeling the strain, thought Bormental, and Shvonder, eyes flashing, nodded and left.

Sharikov, the soles of his shoes squeaking, followed him.

The Professor was left alone with Bormental. After a short silence Philip Philipovich gave his head a little shake and said:

"This is a nightmare, upon my word. Do you see what is going on? I swear to you, my dear Doctor, that I am more exhausted as a result of the last two weeks than from the whole of the last fourteen years. What a type! And let me tell you..." Somewhere far away there was a muffled sound of cracking glass, then a suppressed female squeal, almost immediately extinguished. Something went zigzagging wildly along the corridor wall-paper in the direction of the consulting room where there was a sound of a heavy fall, immediately after which the thing came flying back. There was a banging of doors and from the kitchen a deep bellow from Darya Petrovna. Then a howl from Sharikov.

"Good God, now what's happened!" cried Philip Philipovich, charging for the door.

"A cat," Bormental realised and darted out after him. They dashed along the corridor into the hall, burst into it and turned from there into the corridor towards the lavatory and bathroom. Zina leapt out from the kitchen straight into the arms of Philip Philipovich.

"How many times have I ordered that there should be no cats!" yelled Philip Philipovich, quite beside himself. "Where is it? Ivan Arnoldovich, for God's sake go and reassure the patients in reception."

"In the bathroom, the devil, he's sitting in the bathroom!" cried Zina, quite out of breath.

Philip Philipovich put his shoulder to the bathroom door, but it would not open.

"Open up — this instant!"

In answer something leapt around the bathroom walls, bowls were scattered and Sharikov's wild voice sounded in a muffled roar from behind the door:

"I'll get you, I'll have your guts..."

There was a sound of water running along the pipes, then pouring out. Philip Philipovich put all his weight on the door and began to force it. Darya Petrovna, all dishevelled and steamy, her face distorted, appeared on the threshold of the kitchen. Then the high-up pane of glass right up against the ceiling between the bathroom and the kitchen cracked right across in a snaky line, two fragments of glass came tumbling down and after them crashed a tiger-coloured fierce cat of vast size with a pale-blue ribbon round its neck and a distinct resemblance to a militiaman. It landed plump on the table in the middle of a large oval dish which cracked from end to end, leapt from the dish onto the floor, performed a pirouette on three legs, waving the fourth as if in a ballet, and promptly filtered itself through the narrow opening onto the back stairs. The gap grew wider and in place of the cat the face of an old woman in a headscarf peered in at the door: the old woman's billowing skirt scattered with white polka dots followed her head into the kitchen. Rubbing her sunken mouth with index finger and thumb, she took in the kitchen with one glance of her sharp, swollen eyes and pronounced with undisguised curiosity:

"Oh, Lord Jesus Christ!"

White-faced, Philip Philipovich strode across the kitchen and asked the old woman on a note of menace:

"What do you want?"

"I'm curious to see the talking dog," answered the old woman placatingly and crossed herself.

Philip Philipovich turned paler still, went right up to the old woman and whispered in a breathless voice:

"Out, out of the kitchen this minute!"

The old woman backed away to the door and said in injured tones:

"That's very rude of you, Professor."

"Out, I say!" repeated Philip Philipovich and his eyes grew round as an owl's. He slammed the back door behind the old woman with his own hand. "Darya Petrovna, I especially asked you!"

"Philip Philipovich," replied Darya Petrovna, doubling her bare hands into fists. "What can I do? There are people trying to get in all day long, I've no time for my own work."

The water in the bathroom continued to roar, a muffled menace, but there was no further sound of voices. Doctor Bormental came into the kitchen.

"Ivan Arnoldovich, I beg you ... hm... How many patients have you got out there?"

"Eleven."

"Let them all go, I shall cancel reception for today."

Philip Philipovich rapped on the door of the bathroom with his knuckles:

"Come out this instant! Why have you locked yourself in?"

"Woo-hoo!" answered Sharikov's voice dully and pitifully.

"What the hell!.. I can't hear, turn off the water."

"Wuff! Wuff!"

"Turn off the water, I said! What's he done, I don't understand!" cried Philip Philipovich, losing all self-control.

Zina and Darya Petrovna opened the door and peered out from the kitchen. Philip Philipovich battered on the door with his fist once again.

"There he is!" yelled Darya Petrovna from the kitchen.

Philip Philipovich rushed to her side. From the broken window under the ceiling had appeared and was now protruding the face of Polygraph Polygraphovich. It was all awry, the eyes brimming with tears and a freshly bleeding scratch flaming the length of the nose.

"Have you lost your wits?" asked Philip Philipovich. "Why don't you come out?"

Sharikov, himself thoroughly upset and frightened, looked round and replied:

"I've locked myself in."

"Draw back the bolt. What's the matter with you, you've seen a bolt before, haven't you?"

"The damned thing won't open!" answered Sharikov in some alarm.

"Oh, heavens! He's put it on double lock!" cried Zina and threw up her hands.

"There is a button there!" yelled Philip Philipovich, trying to make his voice heard above the running water. "Press it down ... down! Press it down!"

Sharikov disappeared and a moment later reappeared at the window.

"I can't see my paw before my face!" he yapped.

"Turn on the light. He's run mad!"

"That filthy great torn smashed the bulb," replied Sharikov, "and when I tried to seize the blighter by the legs I pulled out the tap and now I can't find it."

All three threw up their hands and froze where they stood.

Five minutes later Bormental, Zina and Darya Petrovna were sitting in a row on a wet carpet rolled up against the bottom of the bathroom door, pressing it against the crack with their behinds, and the porter Fyodor was clambering up a wooden ladder to the high window, holding a lighted wax candle with a white bow, a memento of Darya Petrovna's wedding. His bottom, clad in bold grey check, stuck in the opening for a moment — then vanished.

"Do-hoo-hoo!" Sharikov's voice sounded through the rush of water.

Then Fyodor's:

"Philip Philipovich, we'll have to open the door anyway. Let it run out, we'll pump it from the kitchen."

"Open, then!" cried Philip Philipovich angrily.

The three sentries rose from the carpet, someone pushed the door from inside the bathroom and, immediately, the water flooded out into the small corridor. Here it divided into three streams: straight ahead into the lavatory opposite, to the right into the kitchen and to the left into the hall. Paddling and jumping, Zina reached the door and closed it. Fyodor emerged ankle deep in water and, for some reason, with a broad grin on his face. He was all wet, like a seaman in his oilcloth.

"Only just managed to get the tap back in, the pressure's very strong," he explained.

"Where's that...?" Philip Philipovich raised one leg with a curse.

"Afraid to come out," explained Fyodor with a stupid grin.

"You going to beat me, Dad?" came Sharikov's tearful whine from the bathroom.

"Idiot!" responded Philip Philipovich succinctly.

Zina and Darya Petrovna, their skirts tucked up to the knees and bare-legged, Sharikov and the porter both with rolled up trousers and bare feet, worked away mopping up the kitchen with sopping rags, wringing them out into dirty buckets or the basin. The abandoned oven hummed. The water seeped away under the door onto the echoing staircase and plunged into the stairwell, right down to the basement.

Bormental stood on tiptoe in a deep puddle on the parquet and conversed with someone through a crack in the front door from which he had not unlatched the chain.

"There will be no reception today. The Professor is unwell. Be so kind as to move away from the door, we've had a burst pipe."

"But when is the reception?" the voice behind the door insisted. "I would only take up one minute..."

"I can't," Bormental rocked from toes to heels. "The Professor is in bed and we have a burst pipe. I'll try to arrange it for tomorrow. Zina! My dear! Come and mop the water up from here or it will run out onto the front stairs."

"The rags aren't absorbing."

"We'll bail it out with mugs," came Fyodor's voice. "Coming."

People kept ringing at the door and Bormental was already standing with the soles of his shoes in the water.

"When will the operation take place?" a voice insisted and someone tried to insert himself into the crack.

"We've had a burst pipe..."

"I'd be all right in galoshes..."

Bluish silhouettes appeared beyond the door.

"No, please come tomorrow."

"But I have an appointment."

"Tomorrow. There's been an accident with the water system."

Fyodor, at the doctor's feet, was floundering about in the hall scraping with a mug, but the scratched Sharikov had thought up a new method. He had made a roll out of a huge rag, lay on his stomach in the water and swished it back before the roll into the lavatory.

"Why are you spreading it all over the flat, you hobgoblin," scolded Darya Petrovna. "Pour it down the sink."

"No time for the sink," replied Sharikov, scooping up the cloudy water with his hands. "It'll get out into the front staircase."

A small bench slid out from the corridor with a rasping sound. Very erect and superbly balanced, Philip Philipovich propelled it along, his feet clad in blue striped socks.

"Ivan Arnoldovich, there's no need to answer the door. Go to the bedroom. I'll give you a pair of slippers."

"Don't bother, Philip Philipovich, it's not worth troubling your head."

"Then put on galoshes."

"It doesn't matter, honestly. My feet are wet anyway."

"Oh dear me!" Philip Philipovich was upset.

"What a nasty animal!" Sharikov unexpectedly chimed in and hopped out in a squatting position with a soup bowl in one hand.

Bormental slammed the door, unable to contain himself any longer, and burst out laughing. Philip Philipovich's nostrils expanded and his spectacles glinted.

"Who are you speaking of?" he asked Sharikov from his superior height. "If I may ask."

"I'm talking about the cat. Filthy brute," said Sharikov, failing to meet the Professor's eye.

"You know, Sharikov," remarked Philip Philipovich, taking a deep breath, "I have never seen a more brazen creature than you."

Bormental giggled.

"You," continued Philip Philipovich, "are an insolent fellow. How dare you say such a thing? You are the cause of all this and you ... but no! It's beyond everything!"

"Sharikov, tell me, please," said Bormental, "how long are you going to go on chasing cats? You should be ashamed of yourself! It's a disgrace! You're a barbarian!"

"Why am I a barbarian?" muttered Sharikov sulkily. "I'm no barbarian. There's no bearing with him in the flat. Always on the lookout for something to steal. He ate all Darya's mince. I wanted to give him a good hiding."

"It's you who should be given a good hiding," said Philip Philipovich. "Just look at your face in the mirror."

"He almost scratched my eyes out," Sharikov responded glumly, dabbing at his eye with a wet, dirty hand.

By the time the parquet, which had turned black from the damp, had dried out somewhat, and all the mirrors were covered with a veil of steam, the doorbell had ceased to ring. Philip Philipovich, in red Morocco slippers, stood in the hall.

"There you are, Fyodor."

"Many thanks."

"Go and get changed at once. Ah, I know: go and ask Darya Petrovna to pour you a glass of vodka."

"Thank you very much indeed," Fyodor hesitated, then said: "There's another thing, Philip Philipovich. I do beg pardon, I feel it's really a shame to trouble you — only — for a pane of glass in flat No. 7... Citizen Sharikov threw stones."

"At the cat?" asked Philip Philipovich, frowning like a thundercloud.

"That's the trouble — at the owner of the flat. He's threatened to go to law."

"The devil!"

"Sharikov was cuddling his cook, so he chased him. And they had an argument."

"For goodness sake always tell me about such things at once. How much?"

"One and a half."

Philip Philipovich produced three shiny 50 kopeck pieces and handed them to Fyodor.

"Fancy paying one and a half roubles for such a filthy swine," a hollow voice sounded from the door. "He himself..."

Philip Philipovich swung round, bit his lip and silently bore down on Sharikov, pressing him into the reception room where he immediately turned the key on him. From inside Sharikov immediately started banging on the door with his fists.

"Don't you dare!" exclaimed Philip Philipovich in a clearly sick voice.

"Well, if that doesn't beat all," remarked Fyodor significantly. "Never in all my born days have I seen such an impertinent brute."

Bormental appeared as if from under the earth.

"Philip Philipovich, please don't upset yourself."

The energetic young doctor opened the door into the hall and from there you could hear his voice:

"Where do you think you are? In a pub, or what?"

"That's the way," the decisive Fyodor added. "That's the way ... and a clip over the ear..."

"Ah, Fyodor, how can you say such things?" muttered Philip Philipovich gruffly.

"But I'm sorry for you, Philip Philipovich."





1   ...   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28
:)


The database is protected by copyright ©hestories.info 2017
send message

    Main page

:)