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Creatures That Once Were Men Maxim Gorky

Part II

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"Here they are; the deeds about the damned houses!"

"Ah! You . . . vagabond! And you pretend to have been a soldier, too!" And Kuvalda did not cease to belabor him with his tongue, as he snatched the blue parchment from his hands. Then, spreading the papers out in front of him, and excited all the more by Vaviloff's inquisitiveness, the Captain began reading and bellowing at the same time. At last he got up resolutely, and went to the door, leaving all the papers on the bar, and saying to Vaviloff:

"Wait! Don't lift them!"

Vaviloff gathered them lip, put them into the cashbox, and locked it, then felt the lock with his hand, to see if it were secure. After that, he scratched his bald head, thoughtfully, and went up on the roof of the eating-house. There he saw the Captain measuring the front of the house, and watched him anxiously, as he snapped his fingers, and began measuring the same line over again. Vaviloff's face lit up suddenly, and he smiled happily.

"Aristid, Fomich, is it possible?" he shouted, when the Captain came opposite to him.

"Of course it is possible. There is more than one short in the front alone, and as to the depth I shall see immediately."

"The depth . . . seventy-three feet."

"What? Have you guessed, you shaved, ugly face?"

"Of course, Aristid Fomich! If you have eyes you can see a thing or two," shouted Vaviloff joyfully.

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A few minutes afterward they sat side by side in Vaviloff's parlor, and the Captain was engaged in drinking large quantities of beer.

"And so all the walls of the factory stand on your ground," said he to the eating-house keeper. "Now, mind you show no mercy! The teacher will be here presently, and we will get him to draw up a petition to the court. As to the amount of the damages you will name a very moderate sum in order not to waste money in deed stamps, but we will ask to have the factory knocked down. This, you see, donkey, is the result of trespassing on other people's property. It is a splendid piece of luck for you. We will force him to have the place smashed, and I can tell you it will be an expensive job for him. Off with you to the court. Bring pressure to bear on Judas. We will calculate how much it will take to break the factory down to its very foundations. We will make an estimate of it all, counting the time it will take too, and we will make honest Judas pay two thousand roubles besides."

"He will never give it!" cried Vaviloff, but his eyes shone with a greedy light.

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Creatures That Once Were Men
Maxim Gorky

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