فصل 31

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فصل 31

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 4 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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CHAPTER 31

On Sparrow Hills1

The storm was swept away without a trace, and a multicoloured rainbow, its arch thrown across all of Moscow, stood in the sky, drinking water from the Moscow River. High up, on a hill between two copses, three dark silhouettes could be seen. Woland, Koroviev and Behemoth sat in the saddle on three black horses, looking at the city spread out beyond the river, with the fragmented sun glittering in thousands of windows facing west, and at the gingerbread towers of the Devichy Convent.2 There was a noise in the air, and Azazello, who had the master and Margarita flying in the black tail of his cloak, alighted with them beside the waiting group.

‘We had to trouble you a little, Margarita Nikolaevna and master,’ Woland began after some silence, ‘but you won’t grudge me that. I don’t think you will regret it. So, then,’ he addressed the master alone, ‘bid farewell to the city. It’s time for us to go,’ Woland pointed with his black-gauntleted hand to where numberless suns melted the glass beyond the river, to where, above these suns, stood the mist, smoke and steam of the city scorched all day.

The master threw himself out of the saddle, left the mounted ones, and ran to the edge of the hillside. The black cloak dragged on the ground behind him. The master began to look at the city. In the first moments a wringing sadness crept over his heart, but it very quickly gave way to a sweetish anxiety, a wondering gypsy excitement.

‘For ever! … That needs to be grasped,’ the master whispered and licked his dry, cracked lips. He began to heed and take precise note of everything that went on in his soul. His excitement turned, as it seemed to him, into a feeling of deep and grievous offence. But it was unstable, vanished, and gave way for some reason to a haughty indifference, and that to a foretaste of enduring peace.

The group of riders waited silently for the master. The group of riders watched the black, long figure on the edge of the hillside gesticulate, now raising his head, as if trying to reach across the whole city with his eyes, to peer beyond its limits, now hanging his head down, as if studying the trampled, meagre grass under his feet.

The silence was broken by the bored Behemoth.

‘Allow me, maitre,’ he began, ‘to give a farewell whistle before the ride.’

‘You may frighten the lady,’ Woland answered, ‘and, besides, don’t forget that all your outrages today are now at an end.’

‘Ah, no, no, Messire,’ responded Margarita, who sat side-saddle, arms akimbo, the sharp comer of her train hanging to the ground, ‘allow him, let him whistle. I’m overcome with sadness before the long journey. Isn’t it true, Messire, it’s quite natural even when a person knows that happiness is waiting at the end of the road? Let him make us laugh, or I’m afraid it will end in tears, and everything will be spoiled before the journey!’ Woland nodded to Behemoth, who became all animated, jumped down from the saddle, put his fingers in his mouth, puffed out his cheeks, and whistled. Margarita’s ears rang. Her horse reared, in the copse dry twigs rained down from the trees, a whole flock of crows and sparrows flew up, a pillar of dust went sweeping down to the river, and, as an excursion boat was passing the pier, one could see several of the passengers’ caps blow off into the water.

The whistle made the master start, yet he did not turn, but began gesticulating still more anxiously, raising his hand to the sky as if threatening the city. Behemoth gazed around proudly.

‘That was whistled, I don’t argue,’ Koroviev observed condescendingly, ‘whistled indeed, but, to be impartial, whistled rather middlingly.’

‘I’m not a choirmaster,’ Behemoth replied with dignity, puffing up, and he winked unexpectedly at Margarita.

‘Give us a try, for old times’ sake,’ Koroviev said, rubbed his hand, and breathed on his fingers.

‘Watch out, watch out,’ came the stem voice of Woland on his horse, ‘no inflicting of injuries.’

‘Messire, believe me,’ Koroviev responded, placing his hand on his heart, ‘in fun, merely in fun …’ Here he suddenly stretched himself upwards, as if he were made of rubber, formed the fingers of his right hand into some clever arrangement, twisted himself up like a screw, and then, suddenly unwinding, whistled.

This whistle Margarita did not hear, but she saw it in the moment when she, together with her fiery steed, was thrown some twenty yards away. An oak tree beside her was torn up by the roots, and the ground was covered with cracks all the way to the river. A huge slab of the bank, together with the pier and the restaurant, sagged into the river. The water boiled, shot up, and the entire excursion boat with its perfectly unharmed passengers was washed on to the low bank opposite. A jackdaw, killed by Fagott’s whistle, was flung at the feet of Margarita’s snorting steed.

The master was startled by this whistle. He clutched his head and ran back to the group of waiting companions.

‘Well, then,’ Woland addressed him from the height of his steed, ‘is your farewell completed?’

‘Yes, it’s completed,’ the master replied and, having calmed down, looked directly and boldly into Woland’s face.

And then over the hills like a trumpet blast rolled Woland’s terrible voice:

‘It’s time!!’ — and with it the sharp whistle and guffaw of Behemoth.

The steeds tore off, and the riders rose into the air and galloped. Margarita felt her furious steed champing and straining at the bit. Woland’s cloak billowed over the heads of the cavalcade; the cloak began to cover the evening sky. When the black shroud was momentarily blown aside, Margarita looked back as she rode and saw that there not only were no multicoloured towers behind them, but the city itself had long been gone. It was as if it had fallen through the earth - only mist and smoke were left …

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