Ivan Turgenev

(1818-1883 / Russia)

The Workman And The Man With White Hands - A Dialogue


WORKMAN. Why do you come crawling up to us? What do ye want? You're none of
us…. Get along!

MAN WITH WHITE HANDS. I am one of you, comrades!

THE WORKMAN. One of us, indeed! That's a notion! Look at my hands. D'ye see
how dirty they are? And they smell of muck, and of pitch-but yours, see,
are white. And what do they smell of?

THE MAN WITH WHITE HANDS (
offering his hands
). Smell them.

THE WORKMAN (
sniffing his hands
). That's a queer start. Seems like a
smell of iron.

THE MAN WITH WHITE HANDS. Yes; iron it is. For six long years I wore chains
on them.

THE WORKMAN. And what was that for, pray?

THE MAN WITH WHITE HANDS. Why, because I worked for your good; tried to
set free the oppressed and the ignorant; stirred folks up against your
oppressors; resisted the authorities…. So they locked me up.

THE WORKMAN. Locked you up, did they? Serve you right for resisting!


Two Years Later
.

THE SAME WORKMAN TO ANOTHER. I say, Pete…. Do you remember, the year
before last, a chap with white hands talking to you?

THE OTHER WORKMAN. Yes;… what of it?

THE FIRST WORKMAN. They're going to hang him to-day, I heard say; that's
the order.

THE SECOND WORKMAN. Did he keep on resisting the authorities?

THE FIRST WORKMAN. He kept on.

THE SECOND WORKMAN. Ah!… Now, I say, mate, couldn't we get hold of a bit
of the rope they're going to hang him with? They do say, it brings good
luck to a house!

THE FIRST WORKMAN. You're right there. We'll have a try for it, mate.

Submitted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010

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