“No, I am registered!” retorted Lichonin, beginning to lose patience.
“And that’s splendid. But the young lady, about whom you’re troubling yourself?”
“No, she’s not registered as yet. But I have her blank in my possession, which, I hope, you’ll exchange for a real passport for me, and then I’ll register her at once.”
Kerbesh spread his arms out wide, then again began toying with the cigar case.
“Can’t do anything for you, Mr. Student, just nothing at all, until you present all the papers required. As far as the girl’s concerned, why, she, as one not having the right of residence, will be sent to the police without delay, and there detained; unless she personally desires to go there, where you’ve taken her from. I’ve the honour of wishing you good day.”
Lichonin abruptly pulled his hat over his eyes and went toward the door. But suddenly an ingenious thought flashed through his head, from which, however, he himself became disgusted. And feeling nausea in the pit of his stomach, with clammy, cold hands, experiencing a sickening pinching in his toes, he again walked up to the table and said as though carelessly, but with a catch in his voice:
“Pardon me, inspector. I’ve forgotten the most important thing; a certain mutual acquaintance of ours has instructed me to transmit to you a small debt of his.”
“Hm! An acquaintance?” asked Kerbesh, opening wide his magnificent azure eyes. “And who may he be?”
“Bar ... Barbarisov.”
“Ah, Barbarisov? So, so, so, I recollect, I recollect!”
“So then, won’t you please accept these ten roubles?”
Kerbesh shook his head, but did not take the bit of paper.
“Well, but this Barbarisov of yours—that is, ours—is a swine. It isn’t ten roubles he owes me at all, but a quarter of a century. What a scoundrel! Twenty-five roubles and some small change besides. Well, the small change, of course, I won’t count up to him. God be with him! This, you see, is a billiard debt. I must say that he’s a blackguard, plays crookedly ... And so, young man, dig up fifteen more.”
“Well, but you are a knave, Mr. Inspector!” said Lichonin, getting out the money.
“Oh, mercy!” by now altogether good-naturedly retorted Kerbesh. “A wife, children ... You know yourself what our salary is ... Receive the little passport, young man. Sign your receipt. Best wishes.”
A queer thing! The consciousness that the passport was, finally, in his pocket, for some reason suddenly calmed and again braced up and elevated Lichonin’s nerves.