“Take it, take it!” I murmured: “it’s mine—I give it to you. You can sell it and get something with the money, whatever you want. Good-bye!”
I thrust the watch into his hand, and ran quickly home. I stood for a minute behind the door of our common bedroom, and when I had recovered my breath I went up to David, who had nearly dressed himself and was combing his hair. “Do you know, David,” I began with as calm a voice as I could muster, “I have given Nastasa’s watch away?”
David looked at me and went on arranging his hair.
“Yes,” I added in the same business-like tone, “I have given it away. There’s a little boy very poor and miserable, and I’ve given it to him.”
David put the brush down on the washstand.
“For the money he will get for it he can buy himself something useful. He will certainly get something for it.” I was silent.
“Well, that’s good,” said David at last; and he went into our study, I following him.
“And if they ask you what you have done with it?” he suggested.
“I shall say I have lost it,” I answered, as if that did not trouble me a bit. We spoke no more about the watch that day, but it seemed to me that David not only approved of what I had done, but that he really admired it to some extent. I was sure he did.
Two days went by. It happened that no one in the house thought about the watch. My father had some trouble with his clients, and did not concern himself with me or my watch. I, on the contrary, was thinking of it all the time. Even the supposed approval of David comforted me but little. He had not openly expressed it; only he had said once when we were talking together that he would not have expected it of me. Decidedly, my sacrifice was of but little use, since the satisfaction of my vanity did not compensate me for it. As luck would have it, there came a schoolmate of ours, the son of the city physician, who kept bragging of not even a silver, but of a pinchbeck watch his grandmother had given him. At last I could bear it no longer, and one day I slunk quietly out of the house, determined to find the boy to whom I had given my watch. I soon came across him: he was playing jackstones with some other boys in the church-porch. I called him aside, and, hardly waiting to take breath, I stammered out that my parents were very angry with me for giving the watch away, and that if he was willing to give it back to me I would gladly pay him for it. I had brought an Elizabeth ruble with me, which was all my savings.
“But I haven’t got your watch,” answered the boy with a tearful voice. “My father saw me have it and took it away from me: he did, and he wanted to whip me too. He said I must have stolen it somewhere. He said, ‘Who would be such a fool as to give you a watch?’”
“And who is your father?”
“My father? Trofimytsch.”