Pyotr Semyonitch, the bank manager, together with the book-keeper, his assistant, and two members of the board, were taken in the night to prison. The day after the upheaval the merchant Avdeyev, who was one of the committee of auditors, was sitting with his friends in the shop saying:
So it is Gods will, it seems. There is no escaping your fate. Here to-day we are eating caviare and to-morrow, for aught we know, it will be prison, beggary, or maybe death. Anything may happen. Take Pyotr Semyonitch, for instance.
He spoke, screwing up his drunken eyes, while his friends went on drinking, eating caviare, and listening. Having described the disgrace and helplessness of Pyotr Semyonitch, who only the day before had been powerful and respected by all, Avdeyev went on with a sigh:
The tears of the mouse come back to the cat. Serve them right, the scoundrels! They could steal, the rooks, so let them answer for it!
Youd better look out, Ivan Danilitch, that you dont catch it too! one of his friends observed.
What has it to do with me?
Why, they were stealing, and what were you auditors thinking about? Ill be bound, you signed the audit.
Its all very well to talk! laughed Avdeyev: Signed it, indeed! They used to bring the accounts to my shop and I signed them. As though I understood! Give me anything you like, Ill scrawl my name to it. If you were to write that I murdered someone Id sign my name to it. I havent time to go into it; besides, I cant see without my spectacles.
After discussing the failure of the bank and the fate of Pyotr Semyonitch, Avdeyev and his friends went to eat pie at the house of a friend whose wife was celebrating her name-day. At the name-day party everyone was discussing the bank failure. Avdeyev was more excited than anyone, and declared that he had long foreseen the crash and knew two years before that things were not quite right at the bank. While they were eating pie he described a dozen illegal operations which had come to his knowledge.
If you knew, why did you not give information? asked an officer who was present.
I wasnt the only one: the whole town knew of it, laughed Avdeyev. Besides, I havent the time to hang about the law courts, damn them!
He had a nap after the pie and then had dinner, then had another nap, then went to the evening service at the church of which he was a warden; after the service he went back to the name-day party and played preference till midnight. Everything seemed satisfactory.
But when Avdeyev hurried home after midnight the cook, who opened the door to him, looked pale, and was trembling so violently that she could not utter a word. His wife, Elizaveta Trofimovna, a flabby, overfed woman, with her grey hair hanging loose, was sitting on the sofa in the drawing-room quivering all over, and vacantly rolling her eyes as though she were drunk. Her elder son, Vassily, a highschool boy, pale too, and extremely agitated, was fussing round her with a glass of water.
Whats the matter? asked Avdeyev, and looked angrily sideways at the stove (his family was constantly being upset by the fumes from it).
The examining magistrate has just been with the police, answered Vassily; theyve made a search.
Avdeyev looked round him. The cupboards, the chests, the tableseverything bore traces of the recent search. For a minute Avdeyev stood motionless as though petrified, unable to understand; then his whole inside quivered and seemed to grow heavy, his left leg went numb, and, unable to endure his trembling,
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