“I know what I’m saying: don’t lie. You have the watch: give it to me.”
“No. I haven’t got your watch.”
“And in the drinking-house you—” I began, but David held me back.
“Wassily Tarentiev,” he said in a low, threatening voice, “we know for certain that you have the watch. I am in earnest. Give me the watch, and if you don’t give it to me—”
Wassily sniffed insolently: “And what will you do with me, then?”
“What? We will both fight with you until you beat us or we beat you.”
Wassily laughed: “Fight? It’s not the thing for young gentlemen to fight with a servant.”
David quickly took hold of Wassily’s waistcoat. “True, we are not going to fight with our fists,” he said, grinding his teeth. “Listen! I shall give you a knife and take one myself, and we shall see who—Alexis!” he called to me, “go and bring me my large knife: you know—the one with the bone handle: it is lying on the table. I have the other in my pocket.”
Wassily nearly fell to the ground. David still held him by the waistcoat. “Have mercy on me, David,” he stammered forth, the tears coming into his eyes. “What does this mean? What are you doing? Oh, let me go!”
“I sha’n’t let you go, and you need not expect any mercy. If you’re afraid to-day, we’ll try again to-morrow.—Alexis, where’s the knife?”
“David,” roared Wassily, “don’t commit a murder. What do you mean? And the watch! Well, I was joking. I—I’ll fetch it this minute. What a fellow you are! First you want to cut open Chrisauf Lukitsch; then me. Leave me, David. Be good enough to take the watch; only say nothing about it.”
David let go of Wassily’s waistcoat. I looked at his face. Really, any one would have been frightened, he looked so fierce and cold and angry. Wassily ran into the house, and at once returned, bringing the watch. Without a word he gave it to David, and only when he had got back again to the house he shouted out from the threshold, “Fie! what a row!” David shook his head and went into our chamber. I still followed him. “Suwarow, just like Suwarow,” I thought to myself. At that time, in the year 1801, Suwarow was our first national hero.
David closed the door behind him, laid the watch down on the table, folded his hands, and, strange to say, burst out laughing. I looked at him and laughed too. “It’s a most extraordinary thing,” he began: “we can’t get rid of this watch in any way. It’s really bewitched. And why did I suddenly get so angry?”
“Yes, why?” I repeated. “If you’d left it with Wassily—–”
“No, no,” interrupted David: “that would have been foolish. But what shall we do with it now?”
“Yes, what shall we?”
We both looked at the watch and considered, Adorned with a blue string of pearls (the unhappy Wassily in his terror had not been able to remove this decoration, which belonged to him), it was going quietly. It ticked—to be sure somewhat unevenly—and the minute-hand was slowly advancing.