I stood motionless with joy, and my aunt screamed out, “Kiss his hand, kiss his hand, stu—, boy!”
I kissed my godfather’s hand, but my aunt added, “Oh, Nastasa, why do you spoil him so? What should he want of a watch? He will be sure to lose it or break it.”
My father came in, looked at the watch, and having thanked Nastasa somewhat coolly, called him into his office. I heard my father say, as if he were talking to himself, “If you hope to get off in that way—” But I could not wait a moment longer: I stuck the watch in my pocket and rushed off to show it to David.
David took the watch, opened it and examined it carefully. He had a great talent for mechanics: he could work in iron, copper and all kinds of metals. He had got himself several kinds of tools, and he could easily repair or make anew a screw, a key, and so on. David turned the watch about in his hands, and muttered between his teeth—he was not talkative—“Old—poor,” and asked, “Where did you get it?”
I told him my godfather gave it to me.
“Yes, Nastasa Nastasaitch.”
David set the watch down on the table and walked off without a word.
“You don’t like it?” I asked.
“No: that’s not it; but in your place I would not have taken any present from Nastasa.”
“Because he is a contemptible creature, and I would not be under any obligations to him, or have to thank him for anything if I could help it. You kissed his hand, I suppose?”
“Yes: my aunt made me.”
David smiled with a singular expression. That was his way. He never laughed aloud: he considered it a sign of weakness. David’s words and his quiet smile pained me much. “He is blaming me in his heart,” I thought. “In his eyes I am contemptible. He would never have lowered himself in that way: he would never accept a present from Nastasa. But what shall I do now?”
To give back the watch was impossible.
I tried to talk it over with David and get his advice, but he answered that he never gave any one advice, and that I must do what I thought best. I remember I could not sleep all that night, so great was my anxiety. It was hard to part with the watch. I put it on the table at my bedside, and it ticked so pleasantly! But then to feel that David despised me—and there was no doubt that he did—was unendurable. By morning I had come to a determination. It made me cry, but I went to sleep as soon as I had made it, and when I awoke I put on my clothes quickly and ran out in the street. I had determined to give my watch to the first poor person I met.
I had not gone far from the house when I met what I wanted. A boy about ten years old ran across my path—a ragged, barefooted little fellow, who was often idling in front of our windows. I sprang toward him, and without giving him or myself time for reflection I offered him my watch. The boy stared at me, and raised one hand to his mouth as if he was afraid of burning his fingers, while he held out the other.