فصل 32

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فصل 32

توضیح مختصر

  • زمان مطالعه 9 دقیقه
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CHAPTER 32

Forgiveness and Eternal Refuge

Gods, my gods! How sad the evening earth! How mysterious the mists over the swamps! He who has wandered in these mists, he who has suffered much before death, he who has flown over this earth bearing on himself too heavy a burden, knows it. The weary man knows it. And without regret he leaves the mists of the earth, its swamps and rivers, with a light heart he gives himself into the hands of death, knowing that she alone can bring him peace.

The magical black horses also became tired and carried their riders slowly, and ineluctable night began to overtake them. Sensing it at his back, even the irrepressible Behemoth quieted down and, his claws sunk into the saddle, flew silent and serious, puffing up his tail.

Night began to cover forests and fields with its black shawl, night lit melancholy little lights somewhere far below - now no longer interesting and necessary either for Margarita or for the master — alien lights. Night was outdistancing the cavalcade, it sowed itself over them from above, casting white specks of stars here and there in the saddened sky.

Night thickened, flew alongside, caught at the riders’ cloaks and, tearing them from their shoulders, exposed the deceptions. And when Margarita, blown upon by the cool wind, opened her eyes, she saw how the appearance of them all was changing as they flew to their goal. And when, from beyond the edge of the forest, the crimson and full moon began rising to meet them, all deceptions vanished, fell into the swamp, the unstable magic garments drowned in the mists.

Hardly recognizable as Koroviev-Fagott, the self-appointed interpreter to the mysterious consultant who needed no interpreting, was he who now flew just beside Woland, to the right of the master’s friend. In place of him who had left Sparrow Hills in a ragged circus costume under the name of Koroviev-Fagott, there now rode, softly clinking the golden chains of the bridle, a dark-violet knight with a most gloomy and never-smiling face. He rested his chin on his chest, he did not look at the moon, he was not interested in the earth, he was thinking something of his own, flying beside Woland.

‘Why has he changed so?’ Margarita quietly asked Woland to the whistling of the wind.

This knight once made an unfortunate joke,‘ replied Woland, turning his face with its quietly burning eye to Margarita. ’The pun he thought up, in a discussion about light and darkness, was not altogether good. And after that the knight had to go on joking a bit more and longer than he supposed. But this is one of the nights when accounts are settled. The knight has paid up and closed his account.‘ Night also tore off Behemoth’s fluffy tail, pulled off his fur and scattered it in tufts over the swamps. He who had been a cat, entertaining the prince of darkness, now turned out to be a slim youth, a demon-page, the best jester the world has ever seen. Now he, too, grew quiet and flew noiselessly, setting his young face towards the light that streamed from the moon.

At the far side, the steel of his armour glittering, flew Azazello. The moon also changed his face. The absurd, ugly fang disappeared without a trace, and the albugo on his eye proved false. Azazello’s eyes were both the same, empty and black, and his face was white and cold. Now Azazello flew in his true form, as the demon of the waterless desert, the killer-demon.

Margarita could not see herself, but she saw very well how the master had changed. His hair was now white in the moonlight and gathered behind in a braid, and it flew on the wind. When the wind blew the cloak away from the master’s legs, Margarita saw the stars of spurs on his jackboots, now going out, now lighting up. Like the demon-youth, the master flew with his eyes fixed on the moon, yet smiling to it, as to a close and beloved friend, and, from a habit acquired in room no. 118, murmuring something to himself.

And, finally, Woland also flew in his true image. Margarita could not have said what his horse’s bridle was made of, but thought it might be chains of moonlight, and the horse itself was a mass of darkness, and the horse’s mane a storm cloud, and the rider’s spurs the white flecks of stars.

Thus they flew in silence for a long time, until the place itself began to change below them. The melancholy forests drowned in earthly darkness and drew with them the dim blades of the rivers. Boulders appeared and began to gleam below, with black gaps between them where the moonlight did not penetrate.

Woland reined in his horse on a stony, joyless, flat summit, and the riders then proceeded at a walk, listening to the crunch of flint and stone under the horses’ shoes. Moonlight flooded the platform greenly and brightly, and soon Margarita made out an armchair in this deserted place and in it the white figure of a seated man. Possibly the seated man was deaf, or else too sunk in his own thoughts. He did not hear the stony earth shudder under the horses’ weight, and the riders approached him without disturbing him.

The moon helped Margarita well, it shone better than the best electric lantern, and Margarita saw that the seated man, whose eyes seemed blind, rubbed his hands fitfully, and peered with those same unseeing eyes at the disc of the moon. Now Margarita saw that beside the heavy stone chair, on which sparks glittered in the moonlight, lay a dark, huge, sharp-eared dog, and, like its master, it gazed anxiously at the moon. Pieces of a broken jug were scattered by the seated man’s feet and an undrying black-red puddle spread there.

The riders stopped their horses.

‘Your novel has been read,’ Woland began, turning to the master, ‘and the only thing said about it was that, unfortunately, it is not finished. So, then, I wanted to show you your hero. For about two thousand years he has been sitting on this platform and sleeping, but when the full moon comes, as you see, he is tormented by insomnia. It torments not only him, but also his faithful guardian, the dog. If it is true that cowardice is the most grievous vice, then the dog at least is not guilty of it. Storms were the only thing the brave dog feared. Well, he who loves must share the lot of the one he loves.’ ‘What is he saying?’ asked Margarita, and her perfectly calm face clouded over with compassion.

‘He says one and the same thing,’ Woland replied. ‘He says that even the moon gives him no peace, and that his is a bad job. That is what he always says when he is not asleep, and when he sleeps, he dreams one and the same thing: there is a path of moonlight, and he wants to walk down it and talk with the prisoner Ha-Nozri, because, as he insists, he never finished what he was saying that time, long ago, on the fourteenth day of the spring month of Nisan. But, alas, for some reason he never manages to get on to this path, and no one comes to him. Then there’s no help for it, he must talk to himself. However, one does need some diversity, and to his talk about the moon he often adds that of all things in the world, he most hates his immortality and his unheard-of fame. He maintains that he would willingly exchange his lot for that of the ragged tramp Matthew Levi.’ ‘Twelve thousand moons for one moon long ago, isn’t that too much?’ asked Margarita.

‘Repeating the story with Frieda?’ said Woland. ‘But don’t trouble yourself here, Margarita. Everything will turn out right, the world is built on that.’

‘Let him go!’ Margarita suddenly cried piercingly, as she had cried once as a witch, and at this cry a stone fell somewhere in the mountains and tumbled down the ledges into the abyss, filling the mountains with rumbling. But Margarita could not have said whether it was the rumbling of its fall or the rumbling of satanic laughter. In any case, Woland was laughing as he glanced at Margarita and said: ‘Don’t shout in the mountains, he’s accustomed to avalanches anyway, and it won’t rouse him. You don’t need to ask for him, Margarita, because the one he so yearns to talk with has already asked for him.’ Here Woland turned to the master and said: ‘Well, now you can finish your novel with one phrase!’

The master seemed to have been expecting this, as he stood motionless and looked at the seated procurator. He cupped his hands to his mouth and cried out so that the echo leaped over the unpeopled and unforested mountains:

‘You’re free! You’re free! He’s waiting for you!’

The mountains turned the master’s voice to thunder, and by this same thunder they were destroyed. The accursed rocky walls collapsed. Only the platform with the stone armchair remained. Over the black abyss into which the walls had gone, a boundless city lit up, dominated by gleaming idols above a garden grown luxuriously over many thousands of moons. The path of moonlight so long awaited by the procurator stretched right to this garden, and the first to rush down it was the sharp-eared dog. The man in the white cloak with blood-red lining rose from the armchair and shouted something in a hoarse, cracked voice. It was impossible to tell whether he was weeping or laughing, or what he shouted. It could only be seen that, following his faithful guardian, he, too, rushed headlong down the path of moonlight.

‘I’m to follow him there?’ the master asked anxiously, holding the bridle.

‘No,’ replied Woland, ‘why run after what is already finished?’

‘There, then?’ the master asked, turning and pointing back, where the recently abandoned city with the gingerbread towers of its convent, with the sun broken to smithereens in its windows, now wove itself behind them.

‘Not there, either,’ replied Woland, and his voice thickened and flowed over the rocks. ‘Romantic master! He, whom the hero you invented and have just set free so yearns to see, has read your novel.’ Here Woland turned to Margarita: ‘Margarita Nikolaevna! It is impossible not to believe that you have tried to think up the best future for the master, but, really, what I am offering you, and what Yeshua has asked for you, is better still! Leave them to each other,’ Woland said, leaning towards the master’s saddle from his own, pointing to where the procurator had gone, ‘let’s not interfere with them. And maybe they’ll still arrive at something.’ Here Woland waved his arm in the direction of Yershalaim, and it went out.

‘And there, too,’ Woland pointed behind them, ‘what are you going to do in the little basement?’ Here the sun broken up in the glass went out. ‘Why?’ Woland went on persuasively and gently, ‘oh, thrice-romantic master, can it be that you don’t want to go strolling with your friend in the daytime under cherry trees just coming into bloom, and in the evening listen to Schubert’s music? Can it be that you won’t like writing with a goose quill by candlelight? Can it be that you don’t want to sit over a retort like Faust, in hopes that you’ll succeed in forming a new homunculus? There! There! The house and the old servant are already waiting for you, the candles are already burning, and soon they will go out, because you will immediately meet the dawn. Down this path, master, this one! Farewell! It’s time for me to go!’ ‘Farewell!’ Margarita and the master answered Woland in one cry. Then the black Woland, heedless of any road, threw himself into a gap, and his retinue noisily hurtled down after him. There were no rocks, no platform, no path of moonlight, no Yershalaim around. The black steeds also vanished. The master and Margarita saw the promised dawn. It began straight away, immediately after the midnight moon. The master walked with his friend in the brilliance of the first rays of morning over a mossy little stone bridge. They crossed it. The faithful lovers left the stream behind and walked down the sandy path.

‘Listen to the stillness,’ Margarita said to the master, and the sand rustled under her bare feet, ‘listen and enjoy what you were not given in life — peace. Look, there ahead is your eternal home, which you have been given as a reward. I can already see the Venetian window and the twisting vine, it climbs right up to the roof. Here is your home, your eternal home. I know that in the evenings you will be visited by those you love, those who interest you and who will never trouble you. They will play for you, they will sing for you, you will see what light is in the room when the candles are burning. You will fall asleep, having put on your greasy and eternal nightcap, you will fall asleep with a smile on your lips. Sleep will strengthen you, you will reason wisely. And you will no longer be able to drive me away. I will watch over your sleep.’ Thus spoke Margarita, walking with the master to their eternal home, and it seemed to the master that Margarita’s words flowed in the same way as the stream they had left behind flowed and whispered, and the master’s memory, the master’s anxious, needled memory began to fade. Someone was setting the master free, as he himself had just set free the hero he had created. This hero had gone into the abyss, gone irrevocably, the son of the astrologer-king, forgiven on the eve of Sunday, the cruel fifth procurator of Judea, the equestrian Pontius Pilate.

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