Crime And Punishment Page-59

Crime And Punishment

“Get in, get in!” shouted one of them, a young thick-necked peasant with a fleshy face red as a carrot. “I’ll take you all, get in!” But at once there was an outbreak of laughter and exclamations in the crowd. “Take us all with a beast like that!” “Why, Mikolka, are you crazy to put a nag like that in such a cart?” “And this mare is twenty if she is a day, mates!” “Get in, I’ll take you all,” Mikolka shouted again, leaping first into the cart, seizing the reins and standing straight up in front. “The bay has gone with Matvey,” he shouted from the cart—“and this brute, mates, is just breaking my heart, I feel as if I could kill her. She’s just eating her head off. Get in, I tell you! I’ll make her gallop! She’ll gallop!” and he picked up the whip, preparing himself with relish to flog the little mare. “Get in! Come along!” The crowd laughed. “D’you hear, she’ll gallop!” “Gallop indeed! She has not had a gallop in her for the last ten years!” “She’ll jog along!” “Don’t you mind her, mates, bring a whip each of you, get ready!” “All right! Give it to her!” They all clambered into Mikolka’s cart, laughing and making jokes. Six men got in and there was still room for more. They hauled in a fat, rosy-cheeked woman. She was dressed in red cotton, in a pointed, beaded headdress and thick leather shoes; she was cracking nuts and laughing. The crowd round them was laughing too and indeed, how could they help laughing? That wretched nag was to drag all the cartload of them at a gallop! Two young fellows in the cart were just getting whips ready to help Mikolka. With the cry of “now,” the mare tugged with all her might, but far from galloping, could scarcely move forward; she struggled with her legs, gasping and shrinking from the blows of the three whips which were showered upon her like hail. The laughter in the cart and in the crowd was redoubled, but Mikolka flew into a rage and furiously thrashed the mare, as though he supposed she really could gallop. “Let me get in, too, mates,” shouted a young man in the crowd whose appetite was aroused. “Get in, all get in,” cried Mikolka, “she will draw you all. I’ll beat her to death!” And he thrashed and thrashed at the mare, beside himself with fury. “Father, father,” he cried, “father, what are they doing? Father, they are beating the poor horse!”