Master: Yes, he astounded me greatly, ah, how he astounded me!
Master: Why, the editor, I tell you, the editor! Yes, he read it all right. He crumpled the manuscript needlessly and grunted. The questions he asked seemed crazy to me. Finally I got sick of him and asked directly whether he would publish the novel or not. He asked me to come in two weeks. I came in two weeks and was received by some girl whose eyes were crossed towards her nose from constant lying.
Ivan: That’s Lapshennikova, the editorial secretary.
Master: She told me that the publisher was provided with material for two years ahead, and therefore the question of printing my novel, as she put it, “did not arise”.
Master: The articles, please note, did not cease. I laughed at the first of them. But the more of them that appeared, the more my attitude towards them changed. The second stage was one of astonishment. I had the feeling, and I couldn’t get rid of it, that the authors of these articles were not saying what they wanted to say, and that their rage sprang precisely from that. And then, imagine, a third stage came—of fear. Thus, for instance, I began to be afraid of the dark. In short, the stage of mental illness came.
Master: This was in mid-October. The fire roared in the stove, rain lashed at the windows. Then the final thing happened. I took the heavy manuscript of the novel and the draft notebooks from the desk drawer and started burning them. This was terribly hard to do, because written-on paper burns reluctantly.
Master: Breaking my fingernails, I tore up the notebooks. Just then someone began scratching quietly at the window.
Master: You… you?…
And my voice broke, and we ran downstairs.
With a soft cry, she pulled out of the stove with her bare hands and threw on to the floor the last of what was there, a sheaf that had caught fire from below. Smoke filled the room at once.
Master: I came to hate this novel, and I’m afraid. I’m ill. Frightened.
Margarita:God, how sick you are. Why is it, why? But I’ll save you, I’ll save you. What is all this? I’ll cure you, I’ll cure you. You’ll restore it. Why, why didn’t I keep a copy?
Margarita: This is how one pays for lying, and I don’t want to lie any more. I’d stay with you right now, but I’d rather not do it that way. I don’t want it to remain for ever in his memory that I ran away from him in the middle of the night. He’s never done me any wrong… I’ll talk with him tomorrow morning, I’ll tell him that I love another man and come back to you for ever. Or maybe you don’t want
that? Answer me.
Master: Poor dear, my poor dear, I won’t allow you to do it. Things won’t go well for me, and I don’t want you to perish with me.
Margarita: Is that the only reason?
Master: The only one.
Margarita: I’m perishing with you. In the morning I’ll be here.
Master: And so, the last thing I remember from my life is a strip of light from my front hall, and in that strip of light an uncurled strand of hair, her beret and her eyes filled with determination. I also remember the black silhouette in the outside doorway and the white package.