“Brother,” said my aunt, who noticed with regret that he was getting over his wrath, “don’t trouble yourself any more about this matter: it’s not worth dirtying your hands about. And listen to my proposal: if Nastasa consents, in view of your son’s great ingratitude, I will take charge of the watch myself, and since he has shown by his behavior that he is no longer worthy of wearing it, I will give it in your name to a person who will know how to value your kindness as it deserves.”
“Who is that?” asked my father.
“Christian Lukitsch,” answered my aunt with a little hesitation.
“Christian?” asked my father; and then added with a wave of the hand, “It’s all the same to me: you may throw it into the fire, for all I care.”
He buttoned his waistcoat, which had come undone, and went out, doubled up with coughing.
“And you, cousin, do you agree?” said my aunt, turning to Nastasa.
“Entirely,” he answered. During the whole scene he had not stirred from his stool, but there he sat, breathing audibly, rubbing the tips of his fingers together, and turning his fox eyes by turns on me, my father and Juschka. We gave him a great deal of amusement.
My aunt’s proposal stirred me to the depths of my soul. I did not care for the watch, but I had a great dislike for the person to whom she proposed giving it. This Christian Lukitsch, whose family name was Trankwillitatin, a lanky blockhead of a student, had the habit of coming to see us, the deuce knows why. To see about the children’s education, my aunt used to say; but he could not do anything of the sort, because he was very ignorant and as stupid as a horse. He was like a horse, too, in other ways: he used to stamp his feet like hoofs, he neighed rather than laughed, and opened his jaws when he did so till you could see down his throat; and he had a long face with a curved nose and large, flat check-bones: he wore a rough coat and smelt of raw meat. My aunt called him a respectable man, a cavalier, and even a grenadier. He had a way of tapping children on the forehead with the hard nails of his long fingers (he used to do it to me when I was younger) and saying, “Hear how empty your head sounds,” and then laughing at his own wit. And this idiot was to have my watch? Never! was what I determined as I rushed from the room and flung myself at full length on my bed, my cheeks burning with the box on the ear I had just received. But in my heart was burning the bitterness of outraged dignity and thirst for revenge. Never would I let him triumph over me—wear the watch, hang the chain over his waistcoat, and neigh with joy. That was all very well, but how prevent it? I determined to steal the watch from my aunt.