“I have a son, now, a schoolboy—Paul. He comes to me, the scoundrel, and declares: ’Papa, the pupils swear at me, because you are a policeman, and because you serve on Yamskaya, and because you take bribes from brothels.’ Well, tell me, for God’s sake, Madam Shoibes, if that isn’t effrontery?”
“Ai, ai, ai! ... And what bribes can there be? Now with me...”
“I say to him: ’Go, you good-for-nothing, and let the principal know, that there should be no more of this, otherwise papa will inform on all of you to the governor.’ And what do you think? He comes to me and says: ’I am no longer a son to you—seek another son for yourself.’ What an argument! Well, I gave him enough to last till the first of the month! Oho-ho! Now he doesn’t want to speak with me. Well, I’ll show him yet!”
“Ah, you don’t have to tell us,” sighs Anna Markovna, letting her lower, raspberry-coloured lip hang down and with a mist coming over her faded eyes. “We keep our Birdie—she is in Fleisher’s high school—we purposely keep her in town, in a respectable family. You. understand, it is awkward, after all. And all of a sudden she brings such words and expressions from the high school that I just simply turned all red.”
“Honest to God, Annochka turned all red,” confirms Isaiah Savvich.
“You’ll turn red, all right!” warmly agrees the inspector. “Yes, yes, yes, I understand you fully. But, my God, where are we going! Where are we only going? I ask you, what are these revolutionaries and all these various students, or... what-you-may-call-’ems? ... trying to attain? And let them put the blame on none but themselves. Corruption is everywhere, morality is falling, there is no respect for parents. They ought to be shot.”
“Well, now, the day before yesterday we had a case,” Zociya mixes in bustlingly. “A certain guest came, a stout man...”
“Drop it!” Emma Edwardovna, who was listening to the inspector, piously nodding with her head bowed to one side, cuts her short in the jargon of the brothels. “You’d better go and see about breakfast for the young ladies.”
“And not a single person can be relied upon,” continues the proprietress grumblingly. “Not a servant but what she’s a stiff, a faker. And all the girls ever think about is their lovers. Just so’s they may have their own pleasure. But about their duties they don’t even think.”
There is an awkward silence. Some one knocks on the door. A thin, feminine voice speaks on the other side of the door:
“Housekeeper, dear, take the money and be kind enough to give me the stamps. Pete’s gone.”
The inspector gets up and adjusts his sabre.
“Well, it’s time I was going to work. Best regards, Anna Markovna. Best wishes, Isaiah Savvich.”
“Perhaps you’ll have one more little glass for a stirrup cup?” the nearly blind Isaiah Savvich thrusts himself over the table.