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The Burial 265

nified that the thunderstorm—the only thing in the world the intrepid dog feared—was over, and that he was back next to the man he loved, respected, and considered the most powerful on earth, the ruler of all men, who made the dog himself feel privileged, superior, and special as well. But once he had lain down by his master's feet, the dog sensed immediately, even without looking at him, but at the gathering shadows in the garden, that something bad had happened to him. Therefore, the dog changed position, got up, went around to the side of the chair, and put his front paws and head on the procurator's knees, getting wet sand all over the bottom of his cloak. Banga's actions were probably meant to console his master and to let him know that he was prepared to face misfortune with him. He tried to show this with his eyes, which looked sideways up at his master, and his ears, which were perked and at attention. Thus the two of them, the dog and the man who loved each other, greeted the holiday night on the balcony.

In the meantime the procurator's guest had a great number of things to do. After leaving the upper terrace of the garden in front of the bad-cony, he went down the stairs to the lower terrace, turned right, and went out to the barracks situated inside the palace grounds. In those barracks were billeted the two centuries which had accompanied the procurator to Yershalaim for the holiday, as well as the procurator's secret guard commanded by the guest himself. The guest spent a short time in the barracks, not more than ten minutes, but at the end of that time three carts set out from the barracks yard loaded with entrenching tools and a barrel of water. Fifteen men on horseback wearing gray cloaks accompanied the carts. The enure procession left the palace grounds through the rear gates, headed west, came out at the city walls, and took the path to the Bethlehem road and then proceeded northward. After reaching the crossroads by the Hebron Gate, they headed down the Jaffa road, taken earlier by the execution procession. By that time it was already dark and the moon was showing on the horizon.

Soon after the carts had left with their escort, the procurator's guest, who had now changed into a shabby, dark chiton, also left the palace compound on horseback. The guest headed straight into the city, rather than out of it. A short time later he could be seen approaching the Antonia Fortress, which was located in the northern part of the city, in close proximity to the great temple. The guest did not spend much time at the fortress either, and later could be spotted in the Lower City, in its winding labyrinthine streets. The guest arrived there by mule.

The guest knew the city well and easily found the street he was looking for. It was called Greek Street because a number of Greek shops were located there, including one that traded in rugs. It was there that the guest stopped his mule, dismounted, and tied it to a ring at the gate. The shop was already closed. The guest walked through a wicket gate next to the shop's entrance and found himself in a small square court-

266 The Master and Margarita

yard lined on three sides with sheds. After turning a corner in the yard, he ended up on the stone terrace of an ivy-covered dwelling where he surveyed his surroundings. The house and sheds were dark, because the lamps had not yet been lit. The guest called softly, " Niza! "

A door creaked in answer to his call, and a young woman without a shawl over her head appeared in the shadows of the terrace. She leaned over the railing, peering anxiously, trying to see who was there. When she recognized who it was, she gave him a welcoming smile, nodded her head, and waved.

" Are you alone? " asked Afranius softly in Greek.

" Yes, " whispered the woman on the terrace. " My husband left for Caesarea this morning." Here the woman glanced at the door and added in a whisper, " But the servant woman is here." She made a gesture that meant—" come in." Afranius glanced back and stepped onto the stone stairs. He and the woman then disappeared inside the house.

Afranius spent a very short time at the woman's house—not more than five minutes. After that he left the house and terrace, pulled his hood down lower over his eyes, and went out into the street. By then the lamps were being lit in the houses, the holiday-eve throng was still immense, and Afranius on his mule was lost in the stream of people on foot and on horseback. Where he went after that is not known.

Left alone, the woman whom Afranius had called Niza began changing her clothes in a great hurry. No matter how hard it was for her to find what she needed in the dark room, she did not light the lamp and did not call her servant. Only after she was ready and wearing a dark shawl over her head was her voice heard in the house saying, " If anyone should ask for me, say that I have gone to visit Enanta."

The grumbling of the old servant woman was heard in the darkness, " Enanta? Oh, That awful woman! Your husband forbade you to see her! She's a procuress, your Enanta! I'll tell your husband..."

" There, there, there, hush up, " answered Niza, and she slipped out of the house like a shadow. Niza's sandals tapped against the stone slabs of the courtyard. Still grumbling, the servant woman closed the door to the terrace. Niza left her house.

At the same time, from another narrow lane in the Lower City, a winding lane which descended in terraces to one of the municipal ponds, through the gate of an unprepossessing house whose blind side faced the street and whose windows opened onto a courtyard, came a young man with a neady shaved beard, who was wearing a clean white kaffiyeh that fell down to his shoulders, a new light-blue holiday tallith with dangling tassels, and new sandals that creaked. The hook-nosed, handsome man, dressed up for the great holiday, walked briskly, overtaking those who were hurrying home to their holiday table, and one by one he saw the windows begin to blaze with light. The young man was heading down the road that led past the marketplace to the palace of

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