The Horse-Stealers and Other Stories HTML version
PYOTR SEMYONITCH, the bank manager, together with the book-keeper, his assistant,
and two members of the board, were taken in the night to prison. The day after the
upheaval the merchant Avdeyev, who was one of the committee of auditors, was sitting
with his friends in the shop saying:
"So it is God's will, it seems. There is no escaping your fate. Here to-day we are eating
caviare and to-morrow, for aught we know, it will be prison, beggary, or maybe death.
Anything may happen. Take Pyotr Semyonitch, for instance. . . ."
He spoke, screwing up his drunken eyes, while his friends went on drinking, eating
caviare, and listening. Having described the disgrace and helplessness of Pyotr
Semyonitch, who only the day before had been powerful and respected by all, Avdeyev
went on with a sigh:
"The tears of the mouse come back to the cat. Serve them right, the scoundrels! They
could steal, the rooks, so let them answer for it!"
"You'd better look out, Ivan Danilitch, that you don't catch it too!" one of his friends
"What has it to do with me?"
"Why, they were stealing, and what were you auditors thinking about? I'll be bound, you
signed the audit."
"It's all very well to talk!" laughed Avdeyev: "Signed it, indeed! They used to bring the
accounts to my shop and I signed them. As though I understood! Give me anything you
like, I'll scrawl my name to it. If you were to write that I murdered someone I'd sign my
name to it. I haven't time to go into it; besides, I can't see without my spectacles."
After discussing the failure of the bank and the fate of Pyotr Semyonitch, Avdeyev and
his friends went to eat pie at the house of a friend whose wife was celebrating her name-
day. At the name-day party everyone was discussing the bank failure. Avdeyev was more
excited than anyone, and declared that he had long foreseen the crash and knew two years
before that things were not quite right at the bank. While they were eating pie he
described a dozen illegal operations which had come to his knowledge.
"If you knew, why did you not give information?" asked an officer who was present.
"I wasn't the only one: the whole town knew of it," laughed Avdeyev. "Besides, I haven't
the time to hang about the law courts, damn them!"