“Raissa?” I repeated in my amazement. “You’re joking.”
“I never make jokes: I don’t know how to.”
“But she’s a year older than you?”
“What difference does that make? But we won’t talk any more about it.”
“Just one question,” I persisted. “Does she know that you want to marry her?”
“But you haven’t told her?”
“What is there to tell her? When the time comes I’ll tell her. Now, that’s enough.” David rose and left the room.
When I was alone I thought it over, and, at last came to the conclusion that David was acting like a wise and practical man, and I felt a glow of pride at being the friend of such a practical man. And Raissa in her eternal black woolen dress suddenly seemed to me charming and deserving of the most devoted affection.
But still David’s father neither came nor wrote. The year advanced; we were well into the summer; it was near the end of June. We grew tired of waiting. Meanwhile, rumors grew thick that Latkin was growing worse, and that his family, as might have been expected, were starving, and that their hovel might at anytime fall to pieces and bury them all in its ruins. David’s expression altered, and grew so fierce and gloomy that every one kept away from him. He also began to go out more frequently. I no longer met Raissa. At times I saw her in the distance, hastily walking in the street with light, graceful step, straight as an arrow, her hands folded, with a sad, thoughtful look in her eyes, and an expression on her pale face—that was all. My aunt, with Trankwillitatin for an ally, still kept tormenting me, and perpetually whispered tauntingly in my ear, “Thief! thief!” But I paid no attention to her, and my father was very busy and kept traveling in every direction, without knowing what was going on at home.
Once, as I was going by the well-known apple tree, and more from habit than intentionally happened to glance at the familiar spot, it seemed to me suddenly as if the surface of the earth above our treasure looked different from usual I—as if there were a mound where there had been a hollow, and as if the place had been disturbed. “What’s the meaning of this?” thought I to myself. “Has any one discovered our secret and taken the watch?”
I wanted to make sure with my own eyes. I did not care for the watch, which was rusting in the damp earth, but I didn’t want any one else to have it. So the next day I got up early, went into the garden equipped with a knife, found the place beneath the apple tree, and began to dig. I dug a hole almost a yard deep, when I was convinced that the watch was gone—that some one had found it, taken it, stolen it.
But who could have taken it except David? Who else knew where it was?