Mikhail Bulgakov. The Master and Margarita
1 Never Talk to Strangers
2 Pontius Pilate
3 The Seventh Proof
4 The Pursuit
5 The Affair at Griboyedov
7 The Haunted Flat
8 A Duel between Professor and Poet
9 Koroviev’s Tricks
10 News from Yalta
11 The Two Ivans
12. Black Magic Revealed
13 Enter the Hero
14 Saved by Cock-Crow
15 The Dream of Nikanor Ivanovich
16 The Execution
17 A Day of Anxiety
18 Unwelcome Visitors
20 Azazello’s Cream
21 The Flight
22 By Candlelight
23 Satan’s Rout
24 The Master is Released
25 How the Procurator Tried to Save Judas of Karioth
26 The Burial
27 The Last of Flat No. 50
28 The Final Adventure of Koroviev and Behemoth
29 The Fate of the Master and Margarita is Decided
30 Time to Go
On Sparrow Hills
32 Absolution and Eternal Refuge
‘Say at last – who art thou?’
‘That Power I serve
Which wills forever evil
Yet does forever good.’
* BOOK ONE *
1. Never Talk to Strangers
At the sunset hour of one warm spring day two men were to be seen at Patriarch’s Ponds. The first of them – aged about forty, dressed in a greyish summer suit – was short, dark-haired, well-fed and bald. He carried his decorous pork-pie hat by the brim and his neatly shaven face was embellished by black hornrimmed spectacles of preternatural dimensions. The other, a broad-shouldered young man with curly reddish hair and a check cap pushed back to the nape of his neck, was wearing a tartan shirt, chewed white trousers and black sneakers.
The first was none other than Mikhail Alexandrovich Berlioz, editor of a highbrow literary magazine and chairman of the management cofnmittee of one of the biggest Moscow literary clubs, known by its abbreviation as massolit; his young companion was the poet Ivan Nikolayich Poniryov who wrote under the pseudonym of Bezdomny.
Reaching the shade of the budding lime trees, the two writers went straight to a gaily-painted kiosk labelled’Beer and Minerals’.
There was an oddness about that terrible day in May which is worth recording : not only at the kiosk but along the whole avenue parallel to Malaya Bronnaya Street there was not a person to be seen. It was the hour of the day when people feel too exhausted to breathe, when Moscow glows in a dry haze as the sun disappears behind the Sadovaya Boulevard – yet no one had come out for a walk under the limes, no one was sitting on a bench, the avenue was empty.
‘A glass of lemonade, please,’said Berlioz.
‘There isn’t any,’replied the woman in the kiosk. For some reason the request seemed to offend her.
‘Got any beer?’ enquired Bezdomny in a hoarse voice.
‘Beer’s being delivered later this evening’ said the woman.
‘Well what have you got?’ asked Berlioz.
‘Apricot juice, only it’s warm’ was the answer.
‘All right, let’s have some.’
The apricot juice produced a rich yellow froth, making the air smell like a hairdresser’s. After drinking it the two writers immediately began to hiccup. They paid and sat down on a bench facing the pond, their backs to Bronnaya Street. Then occurred the second oddness, which affected Berlioz alone. He suddenly stopped hiccuping, his heart thumped and for a moment vanished, then returned but with a blunt needle sticking into it. In addition Berlioz was seized by a fear that was groundless but so powerful that he had an immediate impulse to run away from Patriarch’s Ponds without looking back.