And all the persons who were promenading that evening in the town park by the Summer theatre describe to this day how just before the fourth act they saw a man with bare feet, a yellow face, and terror-stricken eyes dart out of the theatre and dash along the principal avenue. He was pursued by a man in the costume of Bluebeard, armed with a revolver. What happened later no one saw. All that is known is that Murkin was confined to his bed for a fortnight after his acquaintance with Blistanov, and that to the words “I am a man in delicate health, rheumatic” he took to adding, “I am a wounded man. . . .”
IT was twelve o’clock at night.
Mitya Kuldarov, with excited face and ruffled hair, flew into his parents’ flat, and hurriedly ran through all the rooms. His parents had already gone to bed. His sister was in bed, finishing the last page of a novel. His schoolboy brothers were asleep.
“Where have you come from?” cried his parents in amazement. “What is the matter with you?
“Oh, don’t ask! I never expected it; no, I never expected it! It’s . . . it’s positively incredible!”
Mitya laughed and sank into an armchair, so overcome by happiness that he could not stand on his legs.
“It’s incredible! You can’t imagine! Look!”
His sister jumped out of bed and, throwing a quilt round her, went in to her brother. The schoolboys woke up.
“What’s the matter? You don’t look like yourself!”
“It’s because I am so delighted, Mamma! Do you know, now all Russia knows of me! All Russia! Till now only you knew that there was a registration clerk called Dmitry Kuldarov, and now all Russia knows it! Mamma! Oh, Lord!”
Mitya jumped up, ran up and down all the rooms, and then sat down again.
“Why, what has happened? Tell us sensibly!”
“You live like wild beasts, you don’t read the newspapers and take no notice of what’s published, and there’s so much that is interesting in the papers. If anything happens it’s all known at once, nothing is hidden! How happy I am! Oh, Lord! You know it’s only celebrated people whose names are published in the papers, and now they have gone and published mine!”
“What do you mean? Where?”
The papa turned pale. The mamma glanced at the holy image and crossed herself. The schoolboys jumped out of bed and, just as they were, in short nightshirts, went up to their brother.
“Yes! My name has been published! Now all Russia knows of me! Keep the paper, mamma, in memory of it! We will read it sometimes! Look!”
Mitya pulled out of his pocket a copy of the paper, gave it to his father, and pointed with his finger to a passage marked with blue pencil.
The father put on his spectacles.
“Do read it!”
The mamma glanced at the holy image and crossed herself. The papa cleared his throat and began to read: “At eleven o’clock on the evening of the 29th of December, a registration clerk of the name of Dmitry Kuldarov . . .”