فصل 24

کتاب: مرشد و مارگریتا / فصل 24

فصل 24

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 28 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

این فصل را می‌توانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید

دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

فایل صوتی

دانلود فایل صوتی

متن انگلیسی فصل

CHAPTER 24

The Extraction of the Master

In Woland’s bedroom everything turned out to be as it had been before the ball. Woland was sitting on the bed in his nightshirt, only Hella was no longer rubbing his leg, but was setting out supper on the table on which they had been playing chess. Koroviev and Azazello, having removed their tailcoats, were sitting at the table, and next to them, of course, was the cat, who refused to part with his bow-tie, though it had turned into an utterly filthy rag. Margarita, swaying, came up to the table and leaned on it. Then Woland beckoned her to him like the other time and indicated that she should sit down beside him.

‘Well, did they wear you out very much?’ asked Woland.

‘Oh, no, Messire,’ Margarita answered, but barely audibly.

‘Nobless obleege,’ the cat observed and poured some transparent liquid into a goblet for Margarita.

‘Is that vodka?’ Margarita asked weakly.

The cat jumped up on his chair in resentment.

‘Good heavens, Queen,’ he croaked, ‘would I allow myself to pour vodka for a lady? It’s pure alcohol!’

Margarita smiled and made an attempt to push the glass away.

‘Drink boldly,’ said Woland, and Margarita took the glass in her hand at once.

‘Hella, sit down,’ Woland ordered and explained to Margarita: The night of the full moon is a festive night, and I have supper in the small company of my retinue and servants. And so, how do you feel? How did this tiring ball go?‘ ‘Stupendous!’ rattled Koroviev. ‘Everybody’s enchanted, infatuated, crushed! So much tact, so much skill, charm, and loveliness!’

Woland silently raised his glass and clinked with Margarita. Margarita drank obediently, thinking that this alcohol would be the end of her. But nothing bad happened. A living warmth flowed into her stomach, something struck her softly on the nape, her strength came back, as if she had got up after a long, refreshing sleep, with a wolfish appetite besides. And on recalling that she had eaten nothing since the previous morning, it flared up still more … She greedily began gulping down caviar.

Behemoth cut a slice of pineapple, salted it, peppered it, ate it, and then tossed off a second glass of alcohol so dashingly that everyone applauded.

After Margarita’s second glass, the candles in the candelabra flared up more brightly, and the flame increased in the fireplace. Margarita did not feel drunk at all. Biting the meat with her white teeth, Margarita savoured the juice that ran from it, at the same time watching Behemoth spread mustard on an oyster.

‘Why don’t you put some grapes on top?’ Hella said quietly, nudging the cat in the ribs.

‘I beg you not to teach me,’ replied Behemoth, ‘I have sat at table, don’t worry, that I have!’

‘Ah, how nice it is to have supper like this, by the fireside, simply,’ Koroviev clattered, ‘in a small circle …’

‘No, Fagott,’ objected the cat, ‘a ball has its own charm, and scope.’

“There’s no charm in it, or scope either, and those idiotic bears and tigers in the bar almost gave me migraine with their roaring,‘ said Woland.

‘I obey, Messire,’ said the cat, ‘if you find no scope, I will immediately begin to hold the same opinion.’

‘Watch yourself!‘ Woland said to that.

‘I was joking,’ the cat said humbly, ‘and as far as the tigers are concerned, I’ll order them roasted.’

‘One can’t eat tiger,’ said Hella.

‘You think not? Then I beg you to listen,‘ responded the cat, and, narrowing his eyes with pleasure, he told how he had once wandered in the wilderness for nineteen days,1 and the only thing he had to eat was the meat of a tiger he had killed. They all listened to this entertaining narrative with interest, and when Behemoth finished, exclaimed in chorus: ‘Bunk!’

‘And the most interesting thing about this bunk,’ said Woland, ‘is that it’s bunk from first word to last.’

‘Ah, bunk is it?’ exclaimed the cat, and they all thought he would start protesting, but he only said quietly: ‘History will judge.’

‘And tell me,’ Margot, revived after the vodka, addressed Azazello, ‘did you shoot him, this former baron?’

‘Naturally,’ answered Azazello, ‘how could I not shoot him? He absolutely had to be shot.’

‘I got so excited!’ exclaimed Margarita, ‘it happened so unexpectedly!’

‘There was nothing unexpected in it,’ Azazello objected, but Koroviev started wailing and whining.

‘How not get excited? I myself was quaking in my boots! Bang! Hup! Baron on his back!’

‘I nearly had hysterics,’ the cat added, licking the caviar spoon.

‘Here’s what I don’t understand,’ Margarita said, and golden sparks from the crystal glittered in her eyes. ‘Can it be that the music and the noise of this ball generally weren’t heard outside?’ ‘Of course they weren’t, Queen,‘ explained Koroviev. ’It has to be done so that nothing is heard. It has to be done carefully.‘

‘Well, yes, yes … But the thing is that that man on the stairs … when Azazello and I passed by … and the other one by the entrance … I think he was watching your apartment…’ ‘Right, right!’ cried Koroviev, ‘right, dear Margarita Nikolaevna! You confirm my suspicions! Yes, he was watching the apartment! I myself first took him for an absent-minded assistant professor or a lover languishing on the stairs. But no, no! Something kept gnawing at my heart! Ah, he was watching the apartment! And the other one by the entrance, too! And the same for the one in the gateway!’ ‘But, it’s interesting, what if they come to arrest you?’ Margarita asked.

They’re sure to come, charming Queen, they’re sure to!‘ replied Koroviev, ’my heart tells me they’ll come. Not now, of course, but in due time they’ll certainly come. But I don’t suppose it will be very interesting.‘ ‘Ah, I got so excited when that baron fell!’ said Margarita, evidently still reliving the murder, which was the first she had seen in her life. ‘You must be a very good shot?’ ‘Passable,’ replied Azazello.

‘From how many paces?’ Margarita asked Azazello a not entirely clear question.

‘Depends on what,’ Azazello replied reasonably. ‘It’s one thing to hit the critic Latunsky’s window with a hammer, and quite another thing to hit him in the heart.’ ‘In the heart!’ exclaimed Margarita, for some reason putting her hand to her own heart. ‘In the heart!’ she repeated in a hollow voice.

‘Who is this critic Latunsky?’ asked Woland, narrowing his eyes at Margarita.

Azazello, Koroviev and Behemoth dropped their eyes somehow abashedly, and Margarita answered, blushing.

‘There is this certain critic. I destroyed his whole apartment tonight.’

‘Just look at you! But what for? …’

‘You see, Messire,‘ Margarita explained, ’he ruined a certain master.‘

‘But why go to such trouble yourself?’ asked Woland.

‘Allow me, Messire!’ the cat cried out joyfully, jumping up.

‘You sit down,’ Azazello grunted, standing up. ‘I’ll go myself right now…’

‘No!’ exclaimed Margarita. ‘No, I beg you, Messire, there’s no need for that!’

‘As you wish, as you wish,’ Woland replied, and Azazello sat down in his place.

‘So, where were we, precious Queen Margot?’ said Koroviev. ‘Ah, yes, the heart … He does hit the heart,’ Koroviev pointed his long finger in Azazello’s direction, ‘as you choose - any auricle of the heart, or any ventricle.’ Margarita did not understand at first, and when she did, she exclaimed in surprise:

‘But they’re covered up!’

‘My dear,’ clattered Koroviev, ‘that’s the point, that they’re covered up! That’s the whole salt of it! Anyone can hit an uncovered object!’ Koroviev took a seven of spades from the desk drawer, offered it to Margarita, and asked her to mark one of the pips with her fingernail. Margarita marked the one in the upper right-hand comer. Hella hid the card under a pillow, crying: ‘Ready!’

Azazello, who was sitting with his back to the pillow, drew a black automatic from the pocket of his tailcoat trousers, put the muzzle over his shoulder, and, without turning towards the bed, fired, provoking a merry fright in Margarita. The seven was taken from under the bullet-pierced pillow. The pip marked by Margarita had a hole in it.

‘I wouldn’t want to meet you when you’re carrying a gun,’ Margarita said, casting coquettish glances at Azazello. She had a passion for anyone who did something top-notch.

‘Precious Queen,’ squeaked Koroviev, ‘I wouldn’t advise anyone to meet him, even if he’s not carrying a gun! I give you my word of honour as an ex-choirmaster and precentor that no one would congratulate the one doing the meeting.’ The cat sat scowling throughout the shooting trial, and suddenly announced:

‘I undertake to beat the record with the seven.’

Azazello growled out something in reply to that. But the cat was stubborn, and demanded not one but two guns. Azazello took a second gun from the second back pocket of his trousers and, twisting his mouth disdainfully, handed it to the braggart together with the first. Two pips were marked on the seven. The cat made lengthy preparations, turning his back to the pillow. Margarita sat with her fingers in her ears and looked at the owl dozing on the mantelpiece. The cat fired both guns, after which Hella shrieked at once, the owl fell dead from the mantelpiece, and the smashed clock stopped. Hella, whose hand was all bloody, clutched at the cat’s fur with a howl, and he clutched her hair in retaliation, and the two got tangled into a ball and rolled on the floor. One of the goblets fell from the table and broke.

‘Pull this rabid hellion off me!‘wailed the cat, fighting off Hella, who was sitting astride him. The combatants were separated, and Koroviev blew on Hella’s bullet-pierced finger and it mended.

‘I can’t shoot when someone’s talking at my elbow!’ shouted Behemoth, trying to stick in place a huge clump of fur pulled from his back.

‘I’ll bet,’ said Woland, smiling to Margarita, ‘that he did this stunt on purpose. He’s not a bad shot.’

Hella and the cat made peace and, as a sign of their reconciliation, exchanged kisses. The card was taken from under the pillow and checked. Not a single pip had been hit, except for the one shot through by Azazello.

‘That can’t be,’ insisted the cat, holding the card up to the light of the candelabra.

The merry supper went on. The candles guttered in the candelabra, the dry, fragrant warmth of the fireplace spread waves over the room. After eating, Margarita was enveloped in a feeling of bliss. She watched the blue-grey smoke-rings from Azazello’s cigar float into the fireplace, while the cat caught them on the tip of a sword. She did not want to go anywhere, though according to her reckoning it was already late. By all tokens, it was getting on towards six in the morning. Taking advantage of a pause, Margarita turned to Woland and said timidly: ‘I suppose it’s time for me … it’s late …’

‘What’s your hurry?’ asked Woland, politely but a bit drily. The rest kept silent, pretending to be occupied with the smoke-rings.

‘Yes, it’s time,’ Margarita repeated, quite embarrassed by it, and looked around as if searching for some cape or cloak. She was suddenly embarrassed by her nakedness. She got up from the table. Woland silently took his worn-out and greasy dressing-gown from the bed, and Koroviev threw it over Margarita’s shoulders.

‘I thank you, Messire,’ Margarita said barely audibly, and looked questioningly at Woland. In reply, he smiled at her courteously and indifferently. Black anguish somehow surged up all at once in Margarita’s heart. She felt herself deceived. No rewards would be offered her for all her services at the ball, apparently, just as no one was detaining her. And yet it was perfectly clear to her that she had nowhere to go. The fleeting thought of having to return to her house provoked an inward burst of despair in her. Should she ask, as Azazello had temptingly advised in the Alexandrovsky Garden? ‘No, not for anything!’ she said to herself.

‘Goodbye, Messire,’ she said aloud, and thought, ‘I must just get out of here, and then I’ll go to the river and drown myself.’

‘Sit down now,’ Woland suddenly said imperiously.

Margarita changed countenance and sat down.

‘Perhaps you want to say something before you leave?’

‘No, nothing, Messire,’ Margarita answered proudly, ‘except that if you still need me, I’m willing and ready to do anything you wish. I’m not tired in the least, and I had a very good time at the ball. So that if it were still going on, I would again offer my knee for thousands of gallowsbirds and murderers to kiss.’ Margarita looked at Woland as if through a veil, her eyes filling with tears.

‘True! You’re perfectly right!’ Woland cried resoundingly and terribly. ‘That’s the way!’

‘That’s the way!’ Woland’s retinue repeated like an echo.

‘We’ve been testing you,’ said Woland. ‘Never ask for anything! Never for anything, and especially from those who are stronger than you. They’ll make the offer themselves, and give everything themselves. Sit down, proud woman,’ Woland tore the heavy dressing-gown from Margarita and again she found herself sitting next to him on the bed. ‘And so, Margot,’ Woland went on, softening his voice, ‘what do you want for having been my hostess tonight? What do you wish for having spent the ball naked? What price do you put on your knee? What are your losses from my guests, whom you just called gallowsbirds? Speak! And speak now without constraint, for it is I who offer.’ Margarita’s heart began to pound, she sighed heavily, started pondering something.

‘Well, come, be braver!’ Woland encouraged her. ‘Rouse your fantasy, spur it on! Merely being present at the scene of the murder of that inveterate blackguard of a baron is worth a reward, particularly if the person is a woman. Well, then?’ Margarita’s breath was taken away, and she was about to utter the cherished words prepared in her soul, when she suddenly turned pale, opened her mouth and stared: ‘Frieda! … Frieda, Frieda!’ someone’s importunate, imploring voice cried in her ears, ‘my name is Frieda!’ And Margarita, stumbling over the words, began to speak: ‘So, that means … I can ask … for one thing?’

‘Demand, demand, my donna,’ Woland replied, smiling knowingly, ‘you may demand one thing.’

Ah, how adroitly and distinctly Woland, repeating Margarita’s words, underscored that ‘one thing’!

Margarita sighed again and said:

‘I want them to stop giving Frieda that handkerchief with which she smothered her baby.’

The cat raised his eyes to heaven and sighed noisily, but said nothing, perhaps remembering how his ear had already suffered.

‘In view of the fact,’ said Woland, grinning, ‘that the possibility of your having been bribed by that fool Frieda is, of course, entirely excluded - being incompatible with your royal dignity - I simply don’t know what to do. One thing remains, perhaps: to procure some rags and stuff them in all the cracks of my bedroom.’ ‘What are you talking about, Messire?’ Margarita was amazed, hearing these indeed incomprehensible words.

‘I agree with you completely, Messire,’ the cat mixed into the conversation, ‘precisely with rags!’ And the cat vexedly struck the table with his paw.

‘I am talking about mercy,’ Woland explained his words, not taking his fiery eye off Margarita. ‘It sometimes creeps, quite unexpectedly and perfidiously, through the narrowest cracks. And so I am talking about rags …

‘And I’m talking about the same thing!’ the cat exclaimed, and drew back from Margarita just in case, raising his paws to protect his sharp ears, covered with a pink cream.

‘Get out,’ said Woland.

‘I haven’t had coffee yet,’ replied the cat, ‘how can I leave? Can it be, Messire, that on a festive night the guests are divided into two sorts? One of the first, and the other, as that sad skinflint of a barman put it, of second freshness?’ ‘Quiet,’ ordered Woland, and, turning to Margarita, he asked: ‘You are, by all tokens, a person of exceptional kindness? A highly moral person?’ ‘No,’ Margarita replied emphatically, ‘I know that one can only speak frankly with you, and so I will tell you frankly: I am a light-minded person. I asked you for Frieda only because I was careless enough to give her firm hope. She’s waiting, Messire, she believes in my power. And if she’s left disappointed, I’ll be in a terrible position. I’ll have no peace in my life. There’s no help for it, it just happened.’ ‘Ah,’ said Woland, ‘that’s understandable.’

‘Will you do it?’ Margarita asked quietly.

‘By no means,’ answered Woland. ‘The thing is, dear Queen, that a little confusion has taken place here. Each department must look after its own affairs. I don’t deny our possibilities are rather great, they’re much greater than some not very keen people may think …’ ‘Yes, a whole lot greater,’ the cat, obviously proud of these possibilities, put in, unable to restrain himself.

‘Quiet, devil take you!’ Woland said to him, and went on addressing Margarita: ‘But there is simply no sense in doing what ought to be done by another - as I just put it — department. And so, I will not do it, but you will do it yourself.’ ‘And will it be done at my word?’

Azazello gave Margarita an ironic look out of the corner of his blind eye, shook his red head imperceptibly, and snorted.

‘Just do it, what a pain!’ Woland muttered and, turning the globe, began peering into some detail on it, evidently also occupied with something else during his conversation with Margarita.

‘So, Frieda …’ prompted Koroviev.

‘Frieda!’ Margarita cried piercingly.

The door flew open and a dishevelled, naked woman, now showing no signs of drunkenness, ran into the room with frenzied eyes and stretched her arms out to Margarita, who said majestically: ‘You are forgiven. The handkerchief will no longer be brought to you.’

Frieda’s scream rang out, she fell face down on the floor and prostrated in a cross before Margarita. Woland waved his hand and Frieda vanished from sight.

Thank you, and farewell,‘ Margarita said, getting up.

‘Well, Behemoth,’ began Woland, ‘let’s not take advantage of the action of an impractical person on a festive night.’ He turned to Margarita: ‘And so, that does not count, I did nothing. What do you want for yourself?’ Silence ensued, interrupted by Koroviev, who started whispering in Margarita’s ear:

‘Diamond donna, this time I advise you to be more reasonable! Or else fortune may slip away.’

‘I want my beloved master to be returned to me right now, this second,’ said Margarita, and her face was contorted by a spasm.

Here a wind burst into the room, so that the flames of the candles in the candelabra were flattened, the heavy curtain on the window moved aside, the window opened wide and revealed far away on high a full, not morning but midnight moon. A greenish kerchief of night light fell from the window-sill to the floor, and in it appeared Ivanushka’s night visitor, who called himself a master. He was in his hospital clothes — robe, slippers and the black cap, with which he never parted. His unshaven face twitched in a grimace, he glanced sidelong with a crazy timorousness at the lights of the candles, and the torrent of moonlight seethed around him.

Margarita recognized him at once, gave a moan, clasped her hands, and ran to him. She kissed him on the forehead, on the lips, pressed herself to his stubbly cheek, and her long held-back tears now streamed down her face. She uttered only one word, repeating it senselessly: ‘You… you … you …’

The master held her away from him and said in a hollow voice:

‘Don’t weep, Margot, don’t torment me, I’m gravely ill.’ He grasped the window-sill with his hand, as if he were about to jump on to it and flee, and, peering at those sitting there, cried: ‘I’m afraid, Margot! My hallucinations are beginning again …’ Sobs stifled Margarita, she whispered, choking on the words:

‘No, no, no … don’t be afraid of anything … I’m with you … I’m with you …’

Koroviev deftly and inconspicuously pushed a chair towards the master, and he sank into it, while Margarita threw herself on her knees, pressed herself to the sick man’s side, and so grew quiet. In her agitation she had not noticed that her nakedness was somehow suddenly over, that she was now wearing a black silk cloak. The sick man hung his head and began looking down with gloomy, sick eyes.

‘Yes,’ Woland began after a silence, ‘they did a good job on him.’ He ordered Koroviev: ‘Knight, give this man something to drink.’

Margarita begged the master in a trembling voice:

‘Drink, drink! You’re afraid? No, no, believe me, they’ll help you!’

The sick man took the glass and drank what was in it, but his hand twitched and the lowered glass smashed at his feet.

‘It’s good luck, good luck!’ Koroviev whispered to Margarita. ‘Look, he’s already coming to himself.’

Indeed, the sick man’s gaze was no longer so wild and troubled.

‘But is it you, Margot?’ asked the moonlit guest.

‘Don’t doubt, it’s I,’ replied Margarita.

‘More!’ ordered Woland.

After the master emptied the second glass, his eyes became alive and intelligent.

‘Well, there, that’s something else again,’ said Woland, narrowing his eyes. ‘Now let’s talk. Who are you?’

‘I’m nobody now,’ the master replied, and a smile twisted his mouth.

‘Where have you just come from?’

‘From the house of sorrows. I am mentally ill,’ replied the visitor.

These words Margarita could not bear, and she began to weep again. Then she wiped her eyes and cried out: ‘Terrible words! Terrible words! He’s a master, Messire, I’m letting you know that! Cure him, he’s worth it!’ ‘Do you know with whom you are presently speaking?’ Woland asked the visitor. ‘On whom you have come calling?’

‘I do,’ replied the master, ‘my neighbour in the madhouse was that boy, Ivan Homeless. He told me about you.’

‘Ah, yes, yes,’ Woland responded, ‘I had the pleasure of meeting that young man at the Patriarch’s Ponds. He almost drove me mad myself, proving to me that I don’t exist. But you do believe that it is really I?’ ‘I must believe,’ said the visitor, ‘though, of course, it would be much more comforting to consider you the product of a hallucination. Forgive me,’ the master added, catching himself.

‘Well, so, if it’s more comforting, consider me that,’ Woland replied courteously.

‘No, no!’ Margarita said, frightened, shaking the master by the shoulder. ‘Come to your senses! It’s really he before you!’

The cat intruded here as well.

‘And I really look like a hallucination. Note my profile in the moonlight.’ The cat got into the shaft of moonlight and wanted to add something else, but on being asked to keep silent, replied: ‘Very well, very well, I’m prepared to be silent. I’ll be a silent hallucination,’ and fell silent.

‘But tell me, why does Margarita call you a master?’ asked Woland.

The man smiled and said:

‘That is an excusable weakness. She has too high an opinion of a novel I wrote.’

‘What is this novel about?’

‘It is a novel about Pontius Pilate.’

Here again the tongues of the candles swayed and leaped, the dishes on the table clattered, Woland burst into thunderous laughter, but neither frightened nor surprised anyone. Behemoth applauded for some reason.

‘About what? About what? About whom?’ said Woland, ceasing to laugh. ‘And that — now? It’s stupendous! Couldn’t you have found some other subject? Let me see it.’ Woland held out his hand, palm up.

‘Unfortunately, I cannot do that,’ replied the master, ‘because I burned it in the stove.’

‘Forgive me, but I don’t believe you,’ Woland replied, ‘that cannot be: manuscripts don’t burn.’2 He turned to Behemoth and said, ‘Come on, Behemoth, let’s have the novel.’ The cat instantly jumped off the chair, and everyone saw that he had been sitting on a thick stack of manuscripts. With a bow, the cat gave the top copy to Woland. Margarita trembled and cried out, again shaken to the point of tears: ‘It’s here, the manuscript! It’s here!’

She dashed to Woland and added in admiration:

‘All-powerful! All-powerful!’

Woland took the manuscript that had been handed to him, turned it over, laid it aside, and silently, without smiling, stared at the master. But he, for some unknown reason, lapsed into anxiety and uneasiness, got up from the chair, wrung his hands, and, quivering as he addressed the distant moon, began to murmur: ‘And at night, by moonlight, I have no peace … Why am I being troubled? Oh, gods, gods …’

Margarita clutched at the hospital robe, pressing herself to him, and began to murmur herself in anguish and tears:

‘Oh, God, why doesn’t the medicine help you?’

‘It’s nothing, nothing, nothing,’ whispered Koroviev, twisting about the master, ‘nothing, nothing… One more little glass, I’ll keep you company…’ And the little glass winked and gleamed in the moonlight, and this little glass helped. The master was put back in his place, and the sick man’s face assumed a calm expression.

‘Well, it’s all clear now,’ said Woland, tapping the manuscript with a long finger.

‘Perfectly clear,’ confirmed the cat, forgetting his promise to be a silent hallucination. ‘Now the main line of this opus is thoroughly clear to me. What do you say, Azazello?’ he turned to the silent Azazello.

‘I say,’ the other twanged, ‘that it would be a good thing to drown you.’

‘Have mercy, Azazello,’ the cat replied to him, ‘and don’t suggest the idea to my sovereign. Believe me, every night I’d come to you in the same moonlight garb as the poor master, and nod and beckon to you to follow me. How would that be, Azazello?’ ‘Well, Margarita,’ Woland again entered the conversation, ‘tell me everything you need.’

Margarita’s eyes lit up, and she said imploringly to Woland:

‘Allow me to whisper something to him.’

Woland nodded his head, and Margarita, leaning to the master’s ear, whispered something to him. They heard him answer her.

‘No, it’s too late. I want nothing more in my life, except to see you. But again I advise you to leave me, or you’ll perish with me.’

‘No, I won’t leave you,’ Margarita answered and turned to Woland: ‘I ask that we be returned to the basement in the lane off the Arbat, and that the lamp be burning, and that everything be as it was.’ Here the master laughed and, embracing Margarita’s long-since-uncurled head, said:

‘Ah, don’t listen to the poor woman, Messire! Someone else has long been living in the basement, and generally it never happens that anything goes back to what it used to be.’ He put his cheek to his friend’s head, embraced Margarita, and began muttering : ‘My poor one … my poor one …’ ‘Never happens, you say?’ said Woland. ‘That’s true. But we shall try.’ And he called out: ‘Azazello!’

At once there dropped from the ceiling on to the floor a bewildered and nearly delirious citizen in nothing but his underwear, though with a suitcase in his hand for some reason and wearing a cap. This man trembled with fear and kept cowering.

‘Mogarych?’ Azazello asked of the one fallen from the sky.

‘Aloisy Mogarych,’3 the man answered, shivering.

‘Was it you who, after reading Latunsky’s article about this man’s novel, wrote a denunciation saying that he kept illegal literature?’ asked Azazello.

The newly arrived citizen turned blue and dissolved in tears of repentance.

‘You wanted to move into his rooms?’ Azazello twanged as soulfully as he could.

The hissing of an infuriated cat was heard in the room, and Margarita, with a howl of ‘Know a witch when you see one!’, sank her nails into Aloisy Mogarych’s face.

A commotion ensued.

‘What are you doing?’ the master cried painfully. ‘Margot, don’t disgrace yourself!’

‘I protest! It’s not a disgrace!’ shouted the cat.

Koroviev pulled Margarita away.

‘I put in a bathroom …’ the bloodied Mogarych cried, his teeth chattering, and, terrified, he began pouring out some balderdash, ‘the whitewashing alone … the vitriol…’ ‘Well, it’s nice that you put in a bathroom,’ Azazello said approvingly, ‘he needs to take baths.’ And he yelled: ‘Out!’

Then Mogarych was turned upside down and left Woland’s bedroom through the open window.

The master goggled his eyes, whispering:

‘Now that’s maybe even neater than what Ivan described!’ Thoroughly struck, he looked around and finally said to the cat: ‘But, forgive me, was it you … was it you, sir …’ he faltered, not knowing how to address a cat, ‘are you that same cat, sir, who got on the tram?’ ‘I am,’ the flattered cat confirmed and added: ‘It’s pleasing to hear you address a cat so politely. For some reason, cats are usually addressed familiarly, though no cat has ever drunk bruderchaft4 with anyone.’ ‘It seems to me that you’re not so much a cat …’ the master replied hesitantly. ‘Anyway, they’ll find me missing at the hospital,’ he added timidly to Woland.

‘Well, how are they going to find you missing?’ Koroviev soothed him, and some papers and ledgers turned up in his hands. ‘By your medical records?’ ‘Yes…’

Koroviev flung the medical records into the fireplace.

‘No papers, no person,’ Koroviev said with satisfaction. ‘And this is your landlord’s house register?’

‘Y-yes …’

‘Who is registered in it? Aloisy Mogarych?’ Koroviev blew on the page of the house register. ‘Hup, two! He’s not there, and, I beg you to notice, never has been. And if this landlord gets surprised, tell him he dreamed Aloisy up! Mogarych? What Mogarych? There was never any Mogarych!’ Here the loose-leafed book evaporated from Koroviev’s hands. ‘And there it is, already back in the landlord’s desk.’ ‘What you say is true,’ the master observed, struck by the neatness of Koroviev’s work, ‘that if there are no papers, there’s no person. I have no papers, so there’s precisely no me.’ ‘I beg your pardon,’ Koroviev exclaimed, ‘but that precisely is a hallucination, your papers are right here.’ And Koroviev handed the master his papers. Then he rolled up his eyes and whispered sweetly to Margarita: ‘And here is your property, Margarita Nikolaevna,’ and Koroviev handed Margarita the notebook with charred edges, the dried rose, the photograph, and, with particular care, the savings book. ‘Ten thousand, as you kindly deposited, Margarita Nikolaevna. We don’t need what belongs to others.’ ‘Sooner let my paws wither than touch what belongs to others,’ the cat exclaimed, all puffed up, dancing on the suitcase to stamp down all the copies of the ill-fated novel.

‘And your little papers as well,’ Koroviev continued, handing Margarita her papers and then turning to report deferentially to Woland: That’s all, Messire!‘ ‘No, not all,’ replied Woland, tearing himself away from the globe. ‘What, dear donna, will you order me to do with your retinue? I personally don’t need them.’ Here the naked Natasha ran through the open door, clasped her hands, and cried out to Margarita:

‘Be happy, Margarita Nikolaevna!’ She nodded to the master and again turned to Margarita: ‘I knew all about where you used to go.’

‘Domestics know everything,’ observed the cat, raising a paw significantly. ‘It’s a mistake to think they’re blind.’

‘What do you want, Natasha?’ asked Margarita. ‘Go back to the house.’

‘Darling Margarita Nikolaevna,’ Natasha began imploringly and knelt down, ‘ask them’ - she cast a sidelong glance at Woland - ’to let me stay a witch. I don’t want any more of that house! I won’t marry an engineer or a technician! Yesterday at the ball Monsieur Jacques proposed to me.‘ Natasha opened her fist and showed some gold coins.

Margarita turned a questioning look to Woland. He nodded. Then Natasha threw herself on Margarita’s neck, gave her a smacking kiss, and with a victorious cry flew out the window.

In Natasha’s place Nikolai Ivanovich now stood. He had regained his former human shape, but was extremely glum and perhaps even annoyed.

‘This is someone I shall dismiss with special pleasure,’ said Woland, looking at Nikolai Ivanovich with disgust, ‘with exceptional pleasure, so superfluous he is here.’ ‘I earnestly beg that you issue me a certificate,’ Nikolai Ivanovich began with great insistence, but looking around wildly, ‘as to where I spent last night.’ ‘For what purpose?’ the cat asked sternly.

‘For the purpose of presenting it to the police and to my wife,’ Nikolai Ivanovich said firmly.

‘We normally don’t issue certificates,’ the cat replied, frowning, ‘but, very well, for you we’ll make an exception.’

And before Nikolai Ivanovich had time to gather his wits, the naked Hella was sitting at a typewriter and the cat was dictating to her.

‘It is hereby certified that the bearer, Nikolai Ivanovich, spent the said night at Satan’s ball, having been summoned there in the capacity of a means of transportation … make a parenthesis, Hella, in the parenthesis put “hog”. Signed - Behemoth.’ ‘And the date?’ squeaked Nikolai Ivanovich.

‘We don’t put dates, with a date the document becomes invalid,’ responded the cat, setting his scrawl to it. Then he got himself a stamp from somewhere, breathed on it according to all the rules, stamped the word ‘payed’ on the paper, and handed it to Nikolai Ivanovich. After which Nikolai Ivanovich disappeared without a trace, and in his place appeared a new, unexpected guest.

‘And who is this one?’ Woland asked squeamishly, shielding himself from the candlelight with his hand.

Varenukha hung his head, sighed, and said softly:

‘Let me go back, I can’t be a vampire. I almost did Rimsky in that time with Hella. And I’m not bloodthirsty. Let me go!’

‘What is all this raving!’ Woland said with a wince. ‘Which Rimsky? What is this nonsense?’

‘Kindly do not worry, Messire,’ responded Azazello, and he turned to Varenukha: ‘Mustn’t be rude on the telephone. Mustn’t tell lies on the telephone. Understand? Will you do it again?’ Everything went giddy with joy in Varenukha’s head, his face beamed, and, not knowing what he was saying, he began to murmur:

‘Verily… that is, I mean to say … Your ma … right after dinner …’ Varenukha pressed his hands to his chest, looking beseechingly at Azazello.

‘All right. Home with you!’ the latter said, and Varenukha dissolved.

‘Now all of you leave me alone with them,’ ordered Woland, pointing to the master and Margarita.

Woland’s order was obeyed instantly. After some silence, Woland said to the master:

‘So it’s back to the Arbat basement? And who is going to write? And the dreams, the inspiration?’

‘I have no more dreams, or inspiration either,’ replied the master. ‘No one around me interests me, except her.’ He again put his hand on Margarita’s head. ‘I’m broken, I’m bored, and I want to be in the basement.’ ‘And your novel? Pilate?’

‘It’s hateful to me, this novel,’ replied the master, ‘I went through too much because of it.’

‘I implore you,’ Margarita begged plaintively, ‘don’t talk like that. Why do you torment me? You know I put my whole life into this work.’ Turning to Woland, Margarita also added: ‘Don’t listen to him, Messire, he’s too worn out.’ ‘But you must write about something,’ said Woland. ‘If you’ve exhausted the procurator, well, then why not start portraying, say, this Aloisy…’ The master smiled.

‘Lapshennikova wouldn’t publish that, and, besides, it’s not interesting.’

‘And what are you going to live on? You’ll have a beggarly existence.’

‘Willingly, willingly,’ replied the master, drawing Margarita to him. He put his arm around her shoulders and added: ‘She’ll see reason, she’ll leave me …’ ‘I doubt that,’ Woland said through his teeth and went on: ‘And so, the man who wrote the story of Pontius Pilate goes to the basement with the intention of settling by the lamp and leading a beggarly existence?’ Margarita separated herself from the master and began speaking very ardently:

‘I did all I could. I whispered the most tempting thing to him. And he refused.’

‘I know what you whispered to him,’ Woland retorted, ‘but it is not the most tempting thing. And to you I say,’ he turned, smiling, to the master, ‘that your novel will still bring you surprises.’ That’s very sad,‘ replied the master.

‘No, no, it’s not sad,’ said Woland, ‘nothing terrible. Well, Margarita Nikolaevna, it has all been done. Do you have any claims against me?’ ‘How can you, oh, how can you, Messire! …’

Then take this from me as a memento,‘ said Woland, and he drew from under the pillow a small golden horseshoe studded with diamonds.

‘No, no, no, why on earth!’

‘You want to argue with me?’ Woland said, smiling.

Since Margarita had no pockets in her cloak, she put the horseshoe in a napkin and tied it into a knot. Here something amazed her. She looked at the window through which the moon was shining and said: ‘And here’s something I don’t understand … How is it midnight, midnight, when it should have been morning long ago?’

‘It’s nice to prolong the festive night a little,’ replied Woland. ‘Well, I wish you happiness!’

Margarita prayerfully reached out both hands to Woland, but did not dare approach him and softly exclaimed:

‘Farewell! Farewell!’

‘Goodbye,’ said Woland.

And, Margarita in the black cloak, the master in the hospital robe, they walked out to the corridor of the jeweller’s wife’s apartment, where a candle was burning and Woland’s retinue was waiting for them. When they left the corridor, Hella was carrying the suitcase containing the novel and Margarita Nikolaevna’s few possessions, and the cat was helping Hella.

At the door of the apartment, Koroviev made his bows and disappeared, while the rest went to accompany them downstairs. The stairway was empty. As they passed the third-floor landing, something thudded softly, but no one paid any attention to it. Just at the exit from the sixth stairway, Azazello blew upwards, and as soon as they came out to the courtyard, where the moonlight did not reach, they saw a man in a cap and boots asleep, and obviously dead asleep, on the doorstep, as well as a big black car by the entrance with its lights turned off. Through the windshield could be dimly seen the silhouette of a rook.

They were just about to get in when Margarita cried softly in despair:

‘Oh, God, I’ve lost the horseshoe!’

‘Get into the car,’ said Azazello, ‘and wait for me. I’ll be right back, I only have to see what’s happened.’ And he went back in.

What had happened was the following: shortly before Margarita and the master left with their escort, a little dried-up woman carrying a can and a bag came out of apartment no. 48, which was located just under the jeweller’s wife’s apartment. This was that same Annushka who on Wednesday, to Berlioz’s misfortune, had spilled sunflower oil by the turnstile.

No one knew, and probably no one will ever know, what this woman did in Moscow or how she maintained her existence. The only thing known about her is that she could be seen every day either with the can, or with bag and can together, in the kerosene shop, or in the market, or under the gateway, or on the stairs, but most often in the kitchen of apartment no. 48, of which this Annushka was one of the tenants. Besides that and above all it was known that wherever she was or wherever she appeared, a scandal would at once break out, and, besides, that she bore the nickname of ‘the Plague’.

Annushka the Plague always got up very early for some reason, and today something got her up in the wee hours, just past midnight. The key turned in the door, Annushka’s nose stuck out of it, then the whole of her stuck out, she slammed the door behind her, and was about to set off somewhere when a door banged on the landing above, someone hurtled down the stairs and, bumping into Annushka, flung her aside so that she struck the back of her head against the wall.

‘Where’s the devil taking you in nothing but your underpants?’ Annushka shrieked, clutching her head.

The man in nothing but his underwear, carrying a suitcase and wearing a cap, his eyes shut, answered Annushka in a wild, sleepy voice:

The boiler … the vitriol … the cost of the whitewashing alone …‘ And, bursting into tears, he barked: ’Out!‘

Here he dashed, not further down, but back up to where the window had been broken by the economist’s foot, and out this window he flew, legs up, into the courtyard. Annushka even forgot about her head, gasped, and rushed to the window herself. She lay down on her stomach on the landing and stuck her head into the yard, expecting to see the man with the suitcase smashed to death on the asphalt, lit up by the courtyard lantern. But on the asphalt courtyard there was precisely nothing.

It only remained to suppose that a sleepy and strange person had flown out of the house like a bird, leaving not a trace behind him. Annushka crossed herself and thought: ‘Yes, indeed, a nice little apartment, that number fifty! It’s not for nothing people say … Oh, a nice little apartment!’ Before she had time to think it through, the door upstairs slammed again, and a second someone came running down. Annushka pressed herself to the wall and saw a rather respectable citizen with a little beard, but, as it seemed to Annushka, with a slightly piggish face, dart past her and, like the first one, leave the house through the window, again without ever thinking of smashing himself on the asphalt. Annushka had already forgotten the purpose of her outing and stayed on the stairway, crossing herself, gasping, and talking to herself.

A third one, without a little beard, with a round, clean-shaven face, in a Tolstoy blouse, came running down a short while later and fluttered out the window in just the same way.

To Annushka’s credit it must be said that she was inquisitive and decided to wait and see whether any new miracles would occur. The door above was opened again, and now a whole company started down, not at a run, but normally, as everybody walks. Annushka darted away from the window, went to her own door, opened it in a trice, hid behind it, and her eye, frenzied with curiosity, glittered in the chink she left for herself.

Someone, possibly sick or possibly not, but strange, pale, with a stubbly beard, in a black cap and some sort of robe, walked down with unsteady steps. He was led carefully under the arm by a lady in a black cassock, as it seemed to Annushka in the darkness. The lady was possibly barefoot, possibly wearing some sort of transparent, obviously imported, shoes that were torn to shreds. Pah! Shoes my eye! … The lady is naked! Yes, the cassock has been thrown right over her naked body! … ‘A nice little apartment! …’ Everything in Annushka’s soul sang in anticipation of what she was going to tell the neighbours the next day.

The strangely dressed lady was followed by a completely naked one carrying a suitcase, and next to the suitcase a huge black cat was knocking about. Annushka almost squeaked something out loud, rubbing her eyes.

Bringing up the rear of the procession was a short, limping foreigner, blind in one eye, without a jacket, in a white formal waistcoat and tie. This whole company marched downstairs past Annushka. Here something thudded on the landing.

As the steps died away, Annushka slipped like a snake from behind the door, put the can down by the wall, dropped to the floor on her stomach, and began feeling around. Her hands came upon a napkin with something heavy in it. Annushka’s eyes started out of her head when she unwrapped the package. Annushka kept bringing the precious thing right up to her eyes, and these eyes burned with a perfectly wolfish fire. A whirlwind formed in Annushka’s head: ‘I see nothing, I know nothing! … To my nephew? Or cut it in pieces? … I could pick the stones out, and then one by one: one to Petrovka, another to Smolensky … And - I see nothing, I know nothing!’ Annushka hid the found object in her bosom, grabbed the can, and was about to slip back into her apartment, postponing her trip to town, when that same one with the white chest, without a jacket, emerged before her from devil knows where and quietly whispered: ‘Give me the horseshoe and napkin!’

‘What napkin horseshoe?’ Annushka asked, shamming very artfully. ‘I don’t know about any napkins. Are you drunk, citizen, or what?’

With fingers as hard as the handrails of a bus, and as cold, the white-chested one, without another word, squeezed Annushka’s throat so that he completely stopped all access of air to her chest. The can dropped from Annushka’s hand on to the floor. After keeping Annushka without air for some time, the jacketless foreigner removed his fingers from her throat. Gulping air, Annushka smiled.

‘Ah, the little horseshoe?’ she said. This very second! So it’s your little horseshoe? And I see it lying there in a napkin, I pick it up so that no one takes it, and then just try finding it!‘ Having received the little horseshoe and napkin, the foreigner started bowing and scraping before Annushka, shook her hand firmly, and thanked her warmly, with the strongest of foreign accents, in the following terms: ‘I am deeply grateful to you, ma’am. This little horseshoe is dear to me as a memento. And, for having preserved it, allow me to give you two hundred roubles.‘ And he took the money from his waistcoat pocket at once and handed it to Annushka.

She, smiling desperately, could only keep exclaiming:

‘Ah, I humbly thank you! Merci! Merci!’

The generous foreigner cleared a whole flight of stairs in one leap, but, before decamping definitively, shouted from below, now without any accent: ‘You old witch, if you ever pick up somebody else’s stuff again, take it to the police, don’t hide it in your bosom!’

Feeling a ringing and commotion in her head from all these events on the stairs, Annushka went on shouting for some time by inertia:

‘Merci! Merci! Merci! …’ But the foreigner was long gone.

And so was the car in the courtyard. Having returned Woland’s gift to Margarita, Azazello said goodbye to her and asked if she was comfortably seated, Hella exchanged smacking kisses with Margarita, the cat kissed her hand, everyone waved to the master, who collapsed lifelessly and motionlessly in the corner of the seat, waved to the rook, and at once melted into air, considering it unnecessary to take the trouble of climbing the stairs. The rook turned the lights on and rolled out through the gates, past the man lying dead asleep under the archway. And the lights of the big black car disappeared among the other lights on sleepless and noisy Sadovaya.

An hour later, in the basement of the small house in the lane off the Arbat, in the front room, where everything was the same as it had been before that terrible autumn night last year, at the table covered with a velvet tablecloth, under the shaded lamp, near which stood a little vase of lilies of the valley, Margarita sat and wept quietly from the shock she had experienced and from happiness. The notebook disfigured by fire lay before her, and next to it rose a pile of intact notebooks. The little house was silent. On a sofa in the small adjoining room, covered with the hospital robe, the master lay in a deep sleep. His even breathing was noiseless.

Having wept her fill, Margarita went to the intact notebooks and found the place she had been rereading before she met Azazello under the Kremlin wall. Margarita did not want to sleep. She caressed the manuscript tenderly, as one caresses a favourite cat, and kept turning it in her hands, examining it from all sides, now pausing at the title page, now opening to the end. A terrible thought suddenly swept over her, that this was all sorcery, that the notebooks would presently disappear from sight, and she would be in her bedroom in the old house, and that on waking up she would have to go and drown herself. But this was her last terrible thought, an echo of the long suffering she had lived through. Nothing disappeared, the all-powerful Woland really was all powerful, and as long as she liked, even till dawn itself, Margarita could rustle the pages of the notebooks, gaze at them, kiss them, and read over the words: The darkness that came from the Mediterranean Sea covered the city hated by the procurator …‘ Yes, the darkness …

مشارکت کنندگان در این صفحه

تا کنون فردی در بازسازی این صفحه مشارکت نداشته است.

🖊 شما نیز می‌توانید برای مشارکت در ترجمه‌ی این صفحه یا اصلاح متن انگلیسی، به این لینک مراجعه بفرمایید.