“A tumbler-full, even. Perhaps a tumbler and a half?”

Grigory did not answer. He seemed to see what was meant.

“A glass and a half of neat spirit—is not at all bad, don’t you think? You might see the gates of heaven open, not only the door into the garden?”

Grigory remained silent. There was another laugh in the court. The President made a movement.

“Do you know for a fact,” Fetyukovitch persisted, “whether you were awake or not when you saw the open door?”

“I was on my legs.”

“That’s not a proof that you were awake.” (There was again laughter in the court.) “Could you have answered at that moment, if any one had asked you a question—for instance, what year it is?”

“I don’t know.”

“And what year is it, Anno Domini, do you know?”

Grigory stood with a perplexed face, looking straight at his tormentor. Strange to say, it appeared he really did not know what year it was.

“But perhaps you can tell me how many fingers you have on your hands?”

“I am a servant,” Grigory said suddenly, in a loud and distinct voice. “If my betters think fit to make game of me, it is my duty to suffer it.”

Fetyukovitch was a little taken aback, and the President intervened, reminding him that he must ask more relevant questions. Fetyukovitch bowed with dignity and said that he had no more questions to ask of the witness. The public and the jury, of course, were left with a grain of doubt in their minds as to the evidence of a man who might, while undergoing a certain cure, have seen “the gates of heaven,” and who did not even know what year he was living in. But before Grigory left the box another episode occurred. The President, turning to the prisoner, asked him whether he had any comment to make on the evidence of the last witness.

“Except about the door, all he has said is true,” cried Mitya, in a loud voice. “For combing the lice off me, I thank him; for forgiving my blows; I thank him. The old man has been honest all his life and as faithful to my father as seven hundred poodles.”

“Prisoner, be careful in your language,” the President admonished him.

“I am not a poodle,” Grigory muttered.

“All right, it’s I am a poodle myself,” cried Mitya. “If it’s an insult, I take it to myself and I beg his pardon. I was a beast and cruel to him. I was cruel to Æsop, too.”

“What Æsop?” the President asked sternly again.

“Oh, Pierrot…my father, Fyodor Pavlovitch.”

The President again and again warned Mitya impressively and very sternly to be more careful in his language.

“You are injuring yourself in the opinion of your judges.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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