The Master and Margarita. point he turned and was immediately handed Ivan's sheet, "while trying to fînd a stranger

point he turned and was immediately handed Ivan's sheet, "while trying to fînd a stranger, who told you he was an acquaintance of Pontius Pilate, you did the following," here Stravinsky began bending his long fingers, looking first at the chart, then at Ivan. "You hung an icon on your chest. Is that right?"

"Yes," Ivan agreed sullenly.

"You fell off a fence and hurt your face. Right? Appeared at a restaurant with a lighted candle in your hand, wearing only underwear, and then hit one of the people in the restaurant. You were tied up and brought here. Once you got here, you called the police and asked them to send machine guns. Then you tried to throw yourself out the window. Is that right? Now I ask you: is it possible to catch anyone or arrest them by acting that way? And if you're a normal person, you can answer that yourself: no it isn't. Do you wish to leave here? Be my guest. But may I ask where you will go?"

"To the police of course," replied Ivan, but not so firmly as before and losing his composure a bit beneath the professor's gaze.

"Straight from here?"

"I guess so."

"And won't you stop off at your apartment'" asked Stravinsky quickly.

"No, there's no time for that) While I'm going to apartments, he'll get away!"

"I see. And what's the first thing you will tell the police?"

"About Pontius Pilate," answered Ivan Nikolayevich, and his eyes clouded over.

"Well, a splendid ideal" exclaimed Stravinsky agreeably, and turning to the fellow with the goatee, he gave the order, "Fyodor Vasilyevich, please issue a release for citizen Bezdomny so that he can return to the city. But leave his room unoccupied and don't change the sheets. Citizen Bezdomny will be back here in two hours. Well," he turned to the poet, "I won't wish you success because I don't for a minute believe you'll have any. See you soonl" And he stood up while his entourage began to stir.

"Why do you think I'll be back?" Ivan asked anxiously.

Stravinsky seemed to be waiting for that question because he resumed his seat and began talking. "Because as soon as you appear at the police station in your long underwear and say that you met a man who was personally acquainted with Pontius Pilate—they'll have you back here in an instant, and you'll find yourself in this very same room."

"What does my underwear have to do with it?" asked Ivan, looking around in distress.

"The main problem is Pontius Pilate. But the underwear doesn't help. We'll have to remove your hospital clothes and give you back your own. And you were brought here in long underwear. And you had no intention of stopping off at your apartment although I hinted that you should do so. Then comes Pilate... and the case is complete!"


The Duel Between the Professor and the Poet 77


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