The 'little demonstration' which Bormenthal had promised to lay on for
Sharikov did not, however, take place the following morning, because
Poligraph Poligraphovich had disappeared from the house. Bormenthal gave way
to despair, cursing himself for a fool for not having hidden the key of the
front door. Shouting that this was unforgivable, he ended by wishing
Sharikov would fall under a bus. Philip Philipovich, who was sitting in his
study running his fingers through his hair, said:
'I can just imagine what he must be up to on the street. . . I can just
imagine .. . "from Granada to Seville .. ." My God.'
'He may be with the house committee,' said Bormenthal furiously, and
At the house committee he swore at the chairman, Shvonder, so violently
that Shvonder sat down and wrote a complaint to the local People's Court,
shouting as he did so that he wasn't Sharikov's bodyguard. Poligraph
Poligraphovich was not very popular at the house committee either, as only
yesterday he had taken 7 roubles from the funds, with the excuse that he was
going to buy text books at the co-operative store.
For a reward of 3 roubles Fyodor searched the whole house from top to
bottom. Nowhere was there a trace to be found of Sharikov.
Only one thing was clear - that Poligraph had left at dawn wearing cap,
scarf and overcoat, taking with him a bottle of rowanberry brandy from the
sideboard. Doctor Bormenthal's gloves, and all his own documents. Darya
Petrovna and Zina openly expressed their delight and hoped that Sharikov
would never come back again. Sharikov had borrowed 50 roubles from Darya
Petrovna only the day before.
'Serve you right!' roared Philip Philipovich, shaking his fists. The
telephone rang all that day and all the next day. The doctors saw an unusual
number of patients and by the third day the two men were faced with the
question of what to tell the police, who would have to start looking for
Sharikov in the Moscow underworld.
Hardly had the word 'police' been mentioned than the reverent hush of
Obukhov Street was broken by the roar of a lorry and all the windows in the
house shook. Then with a confident ring at the bell Poligraph Poligraphovich
appeared and entered with an air of unusual dignity. In absolute silence he
took off his cap and hung his coat on the hook. He looked completely
different. He had on a second-hand leather tunic, worn leather breeches and
long English riding-boots laced up to the knee. An incredible odour of cat
immediately permeated the whole hall. As though at an unspoken word of
command Preobrazhensky and Bormenthal simultaneously crossed their arms,
leaned against the doorpost and waited for Poligraph Poligraphovich to make
his first remark. He smoothed down his rough hair and cleared his throat,
obviously wanting to hide his embarrassment by a nonchalant air.
At last he spoke. 'I've taken a job, Philip Philipovich.'
Both doctors uttered a vague dry noise in the throat and stirred
slightly. Preobrazhensky was the first to collect his wits. Stretching out
his hand he said: 'Papers.'
The typewritten sheet read: 'It is hereby certified that the bearer,
comrade Poligraph Poligraphovich Sharikov, is appointed in charge of the
sub-department of the Moscow Cleansing Department responsible for
eliminating vagrant quadrupeds (cats, etc.)'
'I see,' said Philip Philipovich gravely. 'Who fixed this for you? No,
don't tell me - I can guess.'
'Yes, well, it was Shvonder.'
'Forgive my asking, but why are you giving off such a revolting smell?'
Sharikov anxiously sniffed at his tunic.
'Well, it may smell a bit - that's because of my job. I spent all
yesterday strangling cats . . .'
Philip Philipovich shuddered and looked at Bormenthal, whose eyes
reminded him of two black gun-barrels aimed straight at Sharikov. Without
the slightest warning he stepped up to Sharikov and took him in a light,
practised grip around the throat.
'Help!' squeaked Sharikov, turning pale.
'Don't worry, Philip Philipovich, I shan't do anything violent,'
answered Bormenthal in an iron voice and roared:
'Zina and Darya Petrovna!'
The two women appeared in the lobby.
'Now,' said Bormenthal, giving Sharikov's throat a very slight push
toward the fur-coat hanging up on a nearby hook, 'repeat after me: "I
apologise . . ." ' 'All right, I'll repeat it . . .' replied the defeated
Sharikov in a husky
Suddenly he took a deep breath, twisted, and tried to shout 'help', but
no sound came out and his head was pushed right into the fur-coat.
'Doctor, please . . .' Sharikov nodded as a sign that he submitted and
repeat what he had to do.
'. . . I apologise, dear Darya Petrovna and Zinaida? . . .'
Prokofievna,' whispered Zina nervously.
'Ow . . . Prokofievna . . . that I allowed myself. . .'
'. . .to behave so disgustingly the other night in a state of
'Intoxication . . .'
'I shall never do it again . . .'
'Do it again . . .'
'Let him go, Ivan Arnoldovich,' begged both women at once. 'You're
throttling him. '
Bormenthal released Sharikov and said:
'Is that lorry waiting for you?'
'It just brought me here,' replied Poligraph submissively.
'Zina, tell the driver he can go. Now tell me - have you come back to
Philip Philipovich's flat to stay?'
'Where else can I go?' asked Sharikov timidly, his eyes nickering
around the room.
'Very well. You will be as good as gold and as quiet as a mouse.
Otherwise you will have to reckon with me each time you misbehave.
'I understand,' replied Sharikov.
Throughout Bormenthal's attack on Sharikov Philip Philipovich had kept
silent. He had leaned against the doorpost with a miserable look, chewed his
nails and stared at the floor. Then he suddenly looked up at Sharikov and
asked in a toneless, husky voice:
'What do you do with them ... the dead cats, I mean?' 'They go to a
laboratory,' replied Sharikov, 'where they make them into protein for the
After this silence fell on the flat and lasted for two days. Poligraph
Poligraphovich went to work in the morning by truck, returned in the evening
and dined quietly with Philip Philipovich and Bormenthal.
Although Bormenthal and Sharikov slept in the same room - the
waiting-room - they did not talk to each other, which Bormenthal soon found
Two days later, however, there appeared a thin girl wearing eye shadow
and pale fawn stockings, very embarrassed by the magnificence of the flat.
In her shabby little coat she trotted in behind Sharikov and met the
professor in the hall.
Dumbfounded, the professor frowned and asked:
'Who is this?'
'Me and her's getting married. She's our typist. She's coming to live
with me. Bormenthal will have to move out of the waiting-room. He's got his
own flat,' said Sharikov in a sullen and very off-hand voice.
Philip Philipovich blinked, reflected for a moment as he watched the
girl turn crimson, then invited her with great courtesy to step into his
study for a moment.
'And I'm going with her,' put in Sharikov quickly and suspiciously.
At that moment Bormenthal materialised from the floor.
'I'm sorry,' he said, 'the professor wants to talk to the lady and you
and I are going to stay here.'
'I won't,' retorted Sharikov angrily, trying to follow Philip
Philipovich and the girl. Her face burned with shame.
'No, I'm sorry,' Bormenthal took Sharikov by the wrist and led him into
For about five minutes nothing was heard from the study, then suddenly
came the sound of the girl's muffled sobbing.
Philip Philipovich stood beside his desk as the girl wept into a dirty
little lace handkerchief.
'He told me he'd been wounded in the war,' sobbed the girl. 'He's
lying,' replied Philip Philipovich inexorably. He shook his head and went
on. 'I'm genuinely sorry for you, but you can't just go off and live with
the first person you happen to meet at work . . . my dear child, it's
scandalous. Here . . .' He opened a desk drawer and took out three 10-rouble
'I'd kill myself,' wept the girl. 'Nothing but salt beef every day in
the canteen . . . and he threatened me . . . then he said he'd been a Red
Army officer and he'd take me to live in a posh flat . . . kept making
passes at me . . . says he's kind-hearted really, he only hates cats ... He
took my ring as a memento . . .'
'Well, well... so he's kind-hearted ...... from Granada to Seville . .
.".' muttered Philip Philipovich. 'You'll get over it, my dear. You're still
'Did you really find him in a doorway?'
'Look, I'm offering to lend you this money - take it,' grunted Philip
The door was then solemnly thrown open and at Philip Philipovich's
request Bormenthal led in Sharikov, who glanced shiftily around. The hair on
his head stood up like a scrubbing-brush.
'You beast,' said the girl, her eyes flashing, her mascara running past
her streakily powdered nose.
'Where did you get that scar on your forehead? Try and explain to the
lady,' said Philip Philipovich softly.
Sharikov staked his all on one preposterous card:
'I was wounded at the front fighting against Kolchak,' he barked.
The girl stood up and went out, weeping noisily.
'Stop crying!' Philip Philipovich shouted after her. 'Just a minute -
the ring, please,' he said, turning to Sharikov, who obediently removed a
large emerald ring from his finger.
'I'll get you,' he suddenly said with malice. 'You'll remember me.
Tomorrow I'll make sure they cut your salary.'
'Don't be afraid of him,' Bormenthal shouted after the girl. *I won't
let him do you any harm.' He turned round and gave Sharikov such a look that
he stumbled backwards and hit his head on the glass cabinet.
'What's her surname?' asked Bormenthal. 'Her surname!' he roared,
'Basnetsova,' replied Sharikov, looking round for a way of escape.
'Every day,' said Bormenthal, grasping the lapels of Sharikov's tunic,
'I shall personally make enquiries at the City Cleansing Department to make
sure that you haven't been interfering with citizeness Basnetsova's salary.
And if I find out that you have . . . then I will shoot you down with my own
hands. Take care, Sharikov - I mean what I say.' Transfixed, Sharikov stared
at Bormenthal's nose. 'You're not the only one with a revolver . . .'
muttered Poligraph quietly.
Suddenly he dodged and spurted for the door. 'Take care!' Bormenthal's
shout pursued him as he fled. That night and the following morning were as
tense as the atmosphere before a thunderstorm. Nobody spoke. The next day
Poligraph Poligraphovich went gloomily off to work by lorry, after waking up
with an uneasy presentiment, while Professor Preobrazhensky saw a former
patient, a tall, strapping man in uniform, at a quite abnormal hour. The man
insisted on a consultation and was admitted. As he walked into the study he
politely clicked his heels to the professor.
'Have your pains come back?' asked Philip Philipovich pursing his lips.
'Please sit down.'
'Thank you. No, professor,' replied his visitor, putting down his cap
on the edge of the desk. 'I'm very grateful to you ... No ... I've come,
h'm, on another matter, Philip Philipovich ... in view of the great respect
I feel . . . I've come to ... er, warn you. It's obviously nonsense, of
course. He's simply a scoundrel.' The patient searched in his briefcase and
took out a piece of paper. 'It's a good thing I was told about this right
away . . .'
Philip Philipovich slipped a pince-nez over his spectacles and began to
read. For a long time he mumbled half-aloud, his expression changing every
moment. '. . . also threatening to murder the chairman of the house
committee, comrade Shvonder, which shows that he must be keeping a firearm.
And he makes counter-revolutionary speeches, and even ordered his domestic
worker, Zinaida Prokofievna Bunina, to burn Engels in the stove. He is an
obvious Menshevik and so is his assistant Ivan Arnoldovich Bormenthal who is
living secretly in his flat without being registered. Signed: P. P. Sharikov
Sub-Dept. Controller City Cleansing Dept. Countersigned: Shvonder
Chairman, House Committee. Pestrukhin Secretary, House Committee.
'May I keep this?' asked Philip Philipovich, his face blotchy. 'Or
perhaps you need it so that legal proceedings can be made?'
'Really, professor.' The patient was most offended and blew out his
nostrils. 'You seem to regard us with contempt. I . . .' And he began to
puff himself up like a turkeycock.
'Please forgive me, my dear fellow!' mumbled Philip Philipovich. 'I
really didn't mean to offend you. Please don't be angry. You can't believe
what this creature has done to my nerves . . .'
'So I can imagine,' said the patient, quite mollified. 'But what a
swine! I'd be curious to have a look at him. Moscow is full of stories about
you . . .'
Philip Philipovich could only gesture in despair. It was then that the
patient noticed how hunched the professor was looking and that he seemed to
have recently grown much greyer.
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