V. V. Nabokov
Invitation to execution
“In accordance with the law, Cincinnatus C. declared a death sentence in a whisper.” Unforgivable Cincinnatus wine – in its “impenetrability”, “opacity” for the rest, to the horror of the similar (the jailor Rodion now and then turns into the director of the prison, Rodrig Ivanovich, and vice versa, the lawyer and the prosecutor by law should be one-foot brothers, if not possible pick up – they grimiruyut that they were like), “transparent friend for a friend of souls.” This peculiarity is inherent in Cincinnatus since childhood (inherited from the father, as reported by the mother who came with a visit to prison, Cecilia C., a puny, curious, in oilskin water polo and with an obstetric
Hearing the verdict, Cincinnatus tries to find out when the execution is scheduled, but the jailers do not tell him. Cincinnatus is taken to look at the city from the tower of the fortress. The 12-year-old Emmochka, the daughter of the director of the prison, suddenly seems to Cincinnatus to be the embodiment
Another prisoner appears in the fortress, a beardless fat man of about thirty. Accompanied prisoner’s pajamas, morocco shoes, light, with a straightforward parting of her hair, wonderful, even teeth appear between her crimson lips.
Promising Cincinnatus meeting with Marfinka is postponed (by law, a meeting is allowed only after a week after the trial). Director of the prison in a solemn manner (on the table a tablecloth and a vase with cheeky peonies) introduces Cincinnatus with a neighbor – Mrs. Pierre. Visiting Cincinnatus in the cell, m-sier Pierre tries to entertain his amateur photographs, most of which he depicts himself, with card tricks and anecdotes. But Cincinnatus, to the insult and displeasure of Rodrig Ivanovich, is closed and unfriendly.
The next day, on a date, not only Marfinka, but her entire family (father, twin brothers, grandfather with grandmother – “old that has already shone through”, children) is on a date to him, and finally a young man with an impeccable profile – the present Cavalier Marfinky. There is also furniture, household utensils, separate parts of the walls. Cincinnatus can not say a word alone with Marfinka. The father-in-law does not cease to reproach him, the brother-in-law urges him to repent (“Think how unpleasant it is when the head is cut”), the young man asks Marfinku to throw a shawl. Then, collecting things (the furniture is carried by the porters), everyone leaves.
In anticipation of the execution, Cincinnatus is even more sensitive to its dissimilarity in all others. In this world, where “the substance is tired: the time has slumbered sweetly,” in the imaginary world, perplexing, only a small part of Cincinnatus wanders, and its main part is in a completely different place. But even so his real life “too much”, causing rejection and protest from others. Cincinnatus returns to the interrupted reading. The famous novel, which he reads, bears the Latin name “Quercus” (“Oak”) and is a biography of the tree. The author narrates about those historical events (or the shadow of events), the witness of which could turn out to be an oak: it is a dialogue of soldiers, then a halt of robbers, then the flight of a nobleman from royal anger… In between these events, the oak is viewed from the point of view of dendrology, ornithology and other sciences, a detailed list of all monograms on the crust with their interpretation is given. A lot of attention is paid to the music of waters, the palette of dawns and weather behavior. This is undoubtedly the best of what was created by the time of Cincinnatus, nevertheless it seems to him distant, false, dead.
Exhausted by the expectation of the executioner’s arrival, awaiting execution, Cincinnatus falls asleep. Suddenly it is awakened by a tapping, some scraping sounds, clearly audible in the silence of the night. Judging by the sounds, this is a dig. Until the morning, Cincinnatus listens to them.
At night, the sounds resume, and day after day Cincinnatus is M’sieur Pierre with vulgar conversations. The yellow wall gives a crack, it opens with a roar, and M-sier Pierre and Rodrigo Ivanovich get out of the black hole, choking with laughter. Msieur Pierre invites Cincinnatus to visit him, and he, seeing no other possibility, crawls along the aisle ahead of Mme. Pierre to his cell. Msieur Pierre expresses his joy over his friendship with Cincinnatus – this was his first task. Then Msieur Pierre unlocks a large case in the corner with a key, in which there is a wide ax.
Cincinnatus climbs up the dug passage back, but suddenly finds itself in a cave, and then through a crack in the rock gets out into the wild. He sees a smoky, blue city with windows like hot embers, and hurries down. Emmochka appears from behind the ledge of the wall and leads him along. Through a small door in the wall, they enter a dark corridor and find themselves in the director’s apartment, where the family of Rodrig Ivanovich and M’sieur Pierre are drinking tea in the dining room at the oval table.
As is customary, on the eve of the execution, M’sieur Pierre and Cincinnatus are on a visit to all the top officials. In honor of them a lavish dinner is arranged, in the garden there is a glow of illumination: the monogram “P” and “C” (not quite, however, released). M’sieur Pierre, as usual, in the spotlight, Cincinnatus is silent and scattered.
In the morning, Marfinka comes to Cincinnatus, complaining that it was difficult to obtain permission (“Of course, it was necessary to make a small concession, in a word, an ordinary story”). Marfinka talks about her meeting with the mother of Cincinnatus, about the fact that her neighbor asks herself for herself, artlessly suggests to Cincinnatus herself (“Leave, what nonsense,” says Cincinnatus). Marfinku is attracted by a finger poked in the door that has been opened, it disappears by three quarters of an hour, and Cincinnatus during her absence thinks that not only did not begin an urgent, important conversation with her, but can not even now express this important. Marfinka, disappointed with her date, leaves Cincinnatus (“I was ready to give everything to you.” It was worth trying “).
Cincinnatus sits down to write: “This is the dead end of the tutos life, – and not in its narrow limits to seek salvation.” Appears m-sier Pierre and two of her assistants, in which it is almost impossible to find a lawyer and director of the prison. A nagging nag drags the peeling car with them down to the city. Hearing about the execution, the audience begins to gather. On the square stands the scarlet platform of the scaffold. Cincinnatus, so that no one touches him, you almost have to run to the dais. While preparations are being made, he looks around: something happened to the lighting, – with the sun is unsuccessful, and part of the sky is shaking. One by one, poplars fall, with which the area is croplanded.
Cincinnatus himself takes off his shirt and lies down on the block. Begins to consider: “one Cincinnatus believed, and the other Cincinnatus has already stopped listening to the retiring ringing of the unnecessary bill, stood up and looked around.” The executioner has not quite stopped yet, but the railing is visible through his torso. The viewers are completely transparent.
Cincinnatus slowly descends and walks along unsteady litter. Behind him lies a platform. Many times the diminished Rodrig unsuccessfully tries to stop Cincinnatus. A woman in a black shawl carries a small executioner in her arms. Everything creeps and falls, and Cincinnatus walks among the dust and fallen things in the direction where, judging by the voices, there are people like him.