“What’s the matter with him?” asked Gladishev in a fright.
Niurka answered him, starting to speak in a rapid, jerky whisper:
“Roly-Poly just came here...Gave Manka the candy, and then started in to put Armenian riddles to us...’Of a blue colour, hangs in the parlor and whistles’...We couldn’t guess nohow, but he says: ’A herring’...Suddenly he started laughing, had a coughing spell, and began falling sideways; and then—bang on the ground and don’t move...They sent for the police...Lord, there’s doings for you! ... I’m horribly afraid of corpseses!”
“Wait!” Gladishev stopped her. “It’s necessary to feel his forehead; he may be alive yet...”
He did try to thrust himself forward, but Simeon’s fingers, just like iron pincers, seized him above the elbows and dragged him back.
“There’s nothing, there’s nothing to be inspecting,” sternly ordered Simeon, “go on, now, young gents, out of here! This is no place for you: the police will come, will summon you as witnesses —then it’s scat! to the devil’s dam! for you out of the military high school! Better go while you’re good and healthy!”
He escorted them to the entrance hall, shoved the great-coats into their hands and added still more sternly:
“Well, now—go at a run...Lively! So’s there won’t be even a whiff of you left. And if you come another time, then I won’t let youse in at all. You are wise guys, you are! You gave the old hound money for whiskey—so now he’s gone and croaked.”
“Well, don’t you get too smart, now!” Gladishev flew at him, all ruffled up.
“What d’you mean, don’t get smart? ...” Simeon suddenly began to yell infuriatedly, and his black eyes without lashes and brows became so terrible that the cadets shrank back. “I’ll soak you one on the snout so hard you’ll forget how to say papa and mamma! Git, this second! Or else I’ll bust you in the neck!”
The boys went down the steps.
At this time two men were going up, in cloth caps on the sides of their heads; one in a blue, the other in a red blouse, with the skirts outside, under the unbuttoned, wide open jackets— evidently, Simeon’s comrades in the profession.
“What?” one of them called out gaily from below, addressing Simeon, “Is it bye-bye for Roly-Poly?”
“Yes, it must be the finish,” answered Simeon. “We’ve got to throw him out into the street in the meantime, fellows, or else the spirits will start haunting. The devil with him, let ’em think that he drank himself full and croaked on the road.”
“But you didn’t ... well, now? ... You didn’t do for him?”
“Well, now, there’s foolish talk! If there’d only been some reason. He was a harmless fellow. Altogether like a little lamb. It must be just that his turn came.”
“And didn’t he find a place where to die! Couldn’t he have thought up something worse?” said the one who was in the red shirt.