was in a mess in the Oblonskys' house ' as Leo Tolstoy so truly put it, a
remark which applied exactly to the present situation. Everything was in a
mess for Poplavsky. A long spark of light flashed in front of him, then he
had a vision of a funeral procession on a May afternoon and Poplavsky fell
When he reached the landing he knocked a pane out of the window with
his foot and sat down on the step. A legless chicken rolled past him,
disintegrating as it went. On the upper landing Azazello devoured the
chicken-leg in a flash, stuffed the bone into his pocket, turned back into
the flat and slammed the door behind him.
From below there came the sound of a man's cautious steps coming
upstairs. Poplavsky ran down another flight and sat down on a little wooden
bench on the landing to draw breath.
A tiny little old man with a painfully sad face, wearing an
old-fashioned tussore suit and a straw boater with a green ribbon, came up
the stairs and stopped beside Poplavsky.
'Would you mind telling me, sir,' enquired the man in tussore
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