The prisoner. The other eye remained closed.  

The prisoner. The other eye remained closed.

Pilate began speaking in Greek, "So you intended to destroy the temple building and were inciting the people to do this?"

Here the prisoner again became animated, the fear disappeared from his eyes, and he began in Greek, "I, goo—," the prisoner's eyes flashed with horror at having again almost said the wrong thing, "Never in my life, Hegemon, have I intended to destroy the temple nor have I ever tried to instígate such a senseless action."

A look of surprise crossed the face of the secretary, who was bent over a low table, writing down the testimony. He raised his head, but then immediately lowered it to the parchment.

"All kinds of different people flock into the city for the holiday. Among them are magi, astrologers, soothsayers, and murderers," said the procurator in a monotone. "And liars as well. You, for example. It is plainly written: He incited the people to destroy the temple. People have testified to that."

Those good people," began the prisoner, and after hastily adding, "Hegemon," he continued, "are ignorant and have muddled what I said. In fact, I'm beginning to fear that this confusion will go on for a long time. And all because he writes down what I said incorrectly."

Silence ensued. Now both pained eyes gazed at the prisoner seriously.

"I will tell you again, but for the last time: stop pretending to be crazy, villain," said Pilate in a soft monotone. "Not much has been recorded against you, but it is enough to hang you."

"No, no, Hegemon," said the prisoner, straining every nerve in his desire to be convincing, "There's someone who follows, follows me around everywhere, always writing on a goatskin parchment. And once I happened to see the parchment and was aghast. Absolutely nothing that was written there did I ever say. I begged him, 'For God's sake burn your parchment!' But he snatched it out of my hands and ran away."

"Who is he?" asked Pilate distastefully, touching his hand to his temple.

"Levi Matvei," the prisoner explained willingly. "He was a tax collector, and I first met him on a road in Bethphage at the place where the fig orchard juts out at an angle, and I struck up a conversation with him. At first he treated me with hostility and even insulted me, that is, he thought he was insulting me by calling me a dog,"—here the prisoner laughed. "I personally have no bad feelings about dogs that would cause me to take offense at the name..."


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