The Second Ordeal

You don’t know how you encourage us, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, by your readiness to answer,” said Nikolay Parfenovitch, with an animated air, and obvious satisfaction beaming in his very prominent, short-sighted, light grey eyes, from which he had removed his spectacles a moment before. “And you have made a very just remark about the mutual confidence, without which it is sometimes positively impossible to get on in cases of such importance, if the suspected party really hopes and desires to defend himself and is in a position to do so. We, on our side, will do everything in our power, and you can see for yourself how we are conducting the case. You approve, Ippolit Kirillovitch?” He turned to the prosecutor.

“Oh, undoubtedly,” replied the prosecutor. His tone was somewhat cold, compared with Nikolay Parfenovitch’s impulsiveness.

I will note once for all that Nikolay Parfenovitch, who had but lately arrived among us, had from the first felt marked respect for Ippolit Kirillovitch, our prosecutor, and had become almost his bosom friend. He was almost the only person who put implicit faith in Ippolit Kirillovitch’s extraordinary talents as a psychologist and orator and in the justice of his grievance. He had heard of him in Petersburg. On the other hand, young Nikolay Parfenovitch was the only person in the whole world whom our “unappreciated” prosecutor genuinely liked. On their way to Mokroe they had time to come to an understanding about the present case. And now as they sat at the table, the sharp-witted junior caught and interpreted every indication on his senior colleague’s face, at half a word, at a glance, or at a wink.

“Gentlemen, only let me tell my own story and don’t interrupt me with trivial questions and I’ll tell you everything in a moment,” said Mitya excitedly.

“Excellent! Thank you. But before we proceed to listen to your communication, will you allow me to inquire as to another little fact of great interest to us. I mean the ten roubles you borrowed yesterday at about five o’clock on the security of your pistols, from your friend, Pyotr Ilyitch Perhotin.”

“I pledged them, gentlemen. I pledged them for ten roubles. What more? That’s all about it. As soon as I got back to town I pledged them.”

“You got back to town? Then had you been out of town?”

“Yes, I went a journey of forty versts into the country. Didn’t you know?”

The prosecutor and Nikolay Parfenovitch exchanged glances.

“Well, how would it be if you began your story with a systematic description of all you did yesterday, from the morning onwards? Allow us, for instance, to inquire why you were absent from the town, and just when you left and when you came back—all those facts.”

“You should have asked me like that from the beginning,” cried Mitya, laughing aloud, “and, if you like, we won’t begin from yesterday, but from the morning of the day before; then you’ll understand how, why, and where I went. I went the day before yesterday, gentlemen, to a merchant of the town, called Samsonov, to borrow three thousand roubles from him on safe security. It was a pressing matter, gentlemen, it was a sudden necessity.”

“Allow me to interrupt you,” the prosecutor put in politely. “Why were you in such pressing need for just that sum, three thousand?”

“Oh, gentlemen, you needn’t go into details, how, when and why, and why just so much money, and not so much, and all that rigmarole. Why, it’ll run to three volumes, and then you’ll want an epilogue!”

Mitya said all this with the good-natured but impatient familiarity of a man who is anxious to tell the whole truth and is full of the best intentions.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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