The day on which it was intended to despatch it to the journal was a very memorable one for him. Navagin remembers that on that never-to-be-forgotten day the secretary who had made a fair copy of his article and the sacristan of the parish who had been sent for on business were in his study. Nayagin’s face was beaming. He looked lovingly at his creation, felt between his fingers how thick it was, and with a happy smile said to the secretary:
“I propose, Filipp Sergeyitch, to send it registered. It will be safer. . . .” And raising his eyes to the sacristan, he said: “I have sent for you on business, my good man. I am putting my youngest son to the high school and I must have a certificate of baptism; only could you let me have it quickly?”
“Very good, your Excellency!” said the sacristan, bowing. “Very good, I understand. . . .”
“Can you let me have it by to-morrow?”
“Very well, your Excellency, set your mind at rest! To-morrow it shall be ready! Will you send someone to the church to-morrow before evening service? I shall be there. Bid him ask for Fedyukov. I am always there. . . .”
“What!” cried the general, turning pale.
“You, . . . you are Fedyukov?” asked Navagin, looking at him with wide-open eyes.
“Just so, Fedyukov.”
“You. . . . you signed your name in my hall?”
“Yes . . .” the sacristan admitted, and was overcome with confusion. “When we come with the Cross, your Excellency, to grand gentlemen’s houses I always sign my name. . . . I like doing it. . . . Excuse me, but when I see the list of names in the hall I feel an impulse to sign mine. . . .”
In dumb stupefaction, understanding nothing, hearing nothing, Navagin paced about his study. He touched the curtain over the door, three times waved his hands like a jeune premier in a ballet when he sees her, gave a whistle and a meaningless smile, and pointed with his finger into space.
“So I will send off the article at once, your Excellency,” said the secretary.
These words roused Navagin from his stupour. He looked blankly at the secretary and the sacristan, remembered, and stamping, his foot irritably, screamed in a high, breaking tenor:
“Leave me in peace! Lea-eave me in peace, I tell you! What you want of me I don’t understand.”
The secretary and the sacristan went out of the study and reached the street while he was still stamping and shouting:
“Leave me in peace! What you want of me I don’t understand. Lea-eave me in peace!”
IT happened not so long ago in the Moscow circuit court. The jurymen, left in the court for the night, before lying down to sleep fell into conversation about strong impressions. They were led to this discussion by recalling a witness who, by his own account, had begun to stammer and had gone grey owing to a terrible moment. The jurymen decided that before going to sleep, each one of them should ransack among his memories and tell something that had happened to him. Man’s life is brief, but yet there is no man who cannot boast that there have been terrible moments in his past.