Again finding the loneliness intolerable, I asked the authorities for a cellmate. My petition was granted, and a Pole named Pashlovski was brought into my cell. He had been sentenced to katorga and was waiting to be sent to Siberia. He was a very resourceful fellow, even if he was a murderer.
One evening, he was summoned to the prison office. Since he had already been convicted, there was no reason for the office to have anything to do with him. I knew it was a bad omen and felt very apprehensive. However, when he returned, he seemed to be in a humorous mood. He came over to me nearly bursting with laughter.
“Why are you laughing?” I asked anxiously. “What happened in the office?”
“Beilis,” the prisoner answered, “I would tell you, but you are too nervous. If I told you the whole story, you would become much too excited, so it is better for you not to know.”
I renewed my interrogation. “I see you are a good man since you are so mindful of my health. And I thank you for that. But you came in laughing. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known anything was going on. So since you are my friend, you must tell me everything. It is better for me to know the truth, even if it is unpleasant.”
He thought about it for a while and apparently decided to divulge his secret.
“Well, if you insist,” Pashlovski began, “I’ll tell you what happened. I was brought into the office, where many people were gathered. The Prosecuting Attorney, the Warden and the others were all having a lively discussion. The Prosecuting Attorney took a silver cigarette box from the table and offered me a cigarette. You can imagine my amazement. Look who they are, and yet they were treating me, a convict, to cigarettes. I am nobody’s fool. Obviously, they wanted me to do something for them. The Warden began speaking earnestly to me in a very sincere, concerned manner. He spoke as if his own life was on the line.
“‘You are a Christian,’ the Warden said. ‘You are one of us, and I am certain you care for your fellow Christians. You are just as worried about the shedding of Christian blood as we are.’ The Warden hesitated for a moment and then continued. ‘You are in the same cell with Beilis. Tell me, what does he say? Has he told you anything?’
“My answer was simple. ‘He is bewailing his bitter misfortunes,’ I said. ‘He complains that he is suffering unjustly and undeservedly.’
“The Prosecuting Attorney chimed in with a smile. ‘We know that’s what he says. That’s to be expected. But you are an intelligent man who understands people. You can discern the difference between his truths and his lies. Didn’t he ever slip up and say something else?’
“I understood at once that this was a devious group, so I made myself quite clear.
“‘Look here, gentlemen,’ I said. ‘I grew up among Jews. At the age of six, I lost my father and my mother. I was an absolute orphan. My relatives apprenticed me to a Jewish locksmith, and I learned his trade. I lived in his house for over twelve years. By the time I left, I was a grown man with a trade, able to make money and get married. I had friends among the Jews and also among Jewish converts. I daresay that I know all the Jewish customs and a good deal about their religious rites. I know it all from A to Z. This is to be expected since I grew up in a Jewish house as one of them. I know they wouldn’t eat an egg if it had a blood clot in it, because this would not be kosher. They cannot eat it. If I have seen it once, I have seen it a hundred times. I’ve also watched them salt their meat. When I asked the mistress of the house why they do it, she said that this draws out all the blood from the meat, since they are not allowed to eat any blood whatsoever. Now when people come and tell me the Jews use blood, human blood, when they tell me that Beilis has murdered a Christian child to use his blood, I, as a Christian who believes in the cross, can tell you that all these stories are a set of despicable lies.’
“When I was through with my say, they all looked at me with murder in their eyes. They saw they had the wrong man. They realized that the cigarette was of no avail, and some of them lost their patience.
“‘Well,’ said the Prosecuting Attorney, ‘be that as it may, surely he says something in his sleep.’
“I said I had never heard you talking in your sleep. They finally understood they weren’t going to get very much out of me, so they ordered me back to the cell. That’s why I was laughing when I returned to the room. Don’t you see? They don’t have any proof against you. They’re looking for yesterday’s snow!”
They didn’t allow Pashlovski to stay with me for very long. They noticed that he was too affable towards me, so they took him away. Since they couldn’t utilize him for their purposes, they split us up. As a result of episodes such as this, I was convinced that the government knew its case was weak. It was clear to me that had the Black Hundreds felt their case to be stronger, they would not need the help of spies and convicts.
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