Page:Best Russian Short Stories.djvu/272
BEST RUSSIAN SHORT STORIES
The gentleman in the sandy suit spoke for him, turning to the committee.
"Gentlemen, before you stands a respected member of our association. His specialty is breaking open safes, iron strong boxes, and other receptacles for monetary tokens. In his night work he sometimes avails himself of the electric current of the lighting installation for fusing metals. Unfortunately he has nothing on which he can demonstrate the best items of his repertoire. He will open the most elaborate lock irreproachably. . . . By the way, this door here, it's locked, is it not?"
Every one turned to look at the door, on which a printed notice hung: "Stage Door. Strictly Private."
"Yes, the door's locked, evidently," the chairman agreed.
"Admirable. Sesoi the Great, will you be so kind?"
"'Tain't nothin' at all," said the giant leisurely.
He went close to the door, shook it cautiously with his hand, took out of his pocket a small bright instrument, bent down to the keyhole, made some almost imperceptible movements with the tool, suddenly straightened and flung the door wide in silence. The chairman had his watch in his hands. The whole affair took only ten seconds.
"Thank you, Sesoi the Great," said the gentleman in the sandy suit politely. "You may go back to your seat."
But the chairman interrupted in some alarm: "Excuse me. This is all very interesting and instructive, but . . . is it included in your esteemed colleague's profession to be able to lock the door again?"
"Ah, mille pardons." The gentleman bowed hurriedly. "It slipped my mind. Sesoi the Great, would you oblige?"
The door was locked with the same adroitness and the same silence. The esteemed colleague waddled back to his friends, grinning."Now I will have the honour to show you the skill of one of our comrades who is in the line of picking pockets in theatres and railway-stations," continued the orator. "He is still very young, but you may to some extent judge from the delicacy of his present work of the heights he will attain by diligence. Yasha!" A swarthy youth in a blue silk blouse and long glacé boots, like a gipsy, came forward with