The Trial By Franz Kafka Chapter 8

"Well look at you two sat huddled together!" called Leni as she came back with the dish and stood in the doorway. They were indeed sat close together, if either of them turned his head even slightly it would have knocked against the other's, the businessman was not only very small but also sat hunched down, so that K. was also forced to bend down low if he wanted to hear everything. "Not quite yet!" called out K., to turn Leni away, his hand, still resting on the businessman's hand, twitching with impatience. "He wanted me to tell him about my trial," said the businessman to Leni. "Carry on, then, carry on," she said. She spoke to the businessman with affection but, at the same time, with condescension. K. did not like that, he had begun to learn that the man was of some value after all, he had experience at least, and he was willing to share it. Leni was probably wrong about him. He watched her in irritation as Leni now took the candle from the businessman's hand — which he had been holding on to all this time — wiped his hand with her apron and then knelt beside him to scratch off some wax that had dripped from the candle onto his trousers. "You were about to tell me about the petty lawyers," said K., shoving Leni's hand away with no further comment. "What's wrong with you today?" asked Leni, tapped him gently and carried on with what she had been doing. "Yes, the petty lawyers," said the businessman, putting his hand to his brow as if thinking hard. K. wanted to help him and said, "You wanted immediate results and so went to the petty lawyers." "Yes, that's right," said the businessman, but did not continue with what he'd been saying. "Maybe he doesn't want to speak about it in front of Leni," thought K., suppressing his impatience to hear the rest straight away, and stopped trying to press him.

"Have you told him I'm here?" he asked Leni. "Course I have," she said, "he's waiting for you. Leave Block alone now, you can talk to Block later, he'll still be here." K. still hesitated. "You'll still be here?" he asked the businessman, wanting to hear the answer from him and not wanting Leni to speak about the businessman as if he weren't there, he was full of secret resentment towards Leni today. And once more it was only Leni who answered. "He often sleeps here." "He sleeps here?" exclaimed K., he had thought the businessman would just wait there for him while he quickly settled his business with the lawyer, and then they would leave together to discuss everything thoroughly and undisturbed. "Yes," said Leni, "not everyone's like you, Josef, allowed to see the lawyer at any time you like. Do don't even seem surprised that the lawyer, despite being ill, still receives you at eleven o'clock at night. You take it far too much for granted, what your friends do for you. Well, your friends, or at least I do, we like to do things for you. I don't want or need any more thanks than that you're fond of me." "Fond of you?" thought K. at first, and only then it occurred to him, "Well, yes, I am fond of her." Nonetheless, what he said, forgetting all the rest, was, "He receives me because I am his client. If I needed anyone else's help I'd have to beg and show gratitude whenever I do anything." "He's really nasty today, isn't he?" Leni asked the businessman. "Now it's me who's not here," thought K., and nearly lost his temper with the businessman when, with the same rudeness as Leni, he said, "The lawyer also has other reasons to receive him. His case is much more interesting than mine. And it's only in its early stages too, it probably hasn't progressed very far so the lawyer still likes to deal with him. That'll all change later on." "Yeah, yeah," said Leni, looking at the businessman and laughing. "He doesn't half talk!" she said, turning to face K. "You can't believe a word he says. He's as talkative as he is sweet. Maybe that's why the lawyer can't stand him. At least, he only sees him when he's in the right mood. I've already tried hard to change that but it's impossible. Just think, there are times when I tell him Block's here and he doesn't receive him until three days later. And if Block isn't on the spot when he's called then everything's lost and it all has to start all over again. That's why I let Block sleep here, it wouldn't be the first time Dr. Huld has wanted to see him in the night. So now Block is ready for that. Sometimes, when he knows Block is still here, he'll even change his mind about letting him in to see him." K. looked questioningly at the businessman. The latter nodded and, although he had spoken quite openly with K. earlier, seemed to be confused with shame as he said, "Yes, later on you become very dependent on your lawyer." "He's only pretending to mind," said Leni. "He likes to sleep here really, he's often said so." She went over to a little door and shoved it open. "Do you want to see his bedroom?" she asked. K. went over to the low, windowless room and looked in from the doorway. The room contained a narrow bed which filled it completely, so that to get into the bed you would need to climb over the bedpost. At the head of the bed there was a niche in the wall where, fastidiously tidy, stood a candle, a bottle of ink, and a pen with a bundle of papers which were probably to do with the trial. "You sleep in the maid's room?" asked K., as he went back to the businessman. "Leni's let me have it," answered the businessman, "it has many advantages." K. looked long at him; his first impression of the businessman had perhaps not been right; he had experience as his trial had already lasted a long time, but he had paid a heavy price for this experience. K. was suddenly unable to bear the sight of the businessman any longer. "Bring him to bed, then!" he called out to Leni, who seemed to understand him. For himself, he wanted to go to the lawyer and, by dismissing him, free himself from not only the lawyer but also from Leni and the businessman. But before he had reached the door the businessman spoke to him gently. "Excuse me, sir," he said, and K. looked round crossly. "You've forgotten your promise," said the businessman, stretching his hand out to K. imploringly from where he sat. "You were going to tell me a secret." "That is true," said K., as he glanced at Leni, who was watching him carefully, to check on her. "So listen; it's hardly a secret now anyway. I'm going to see the lawyer now to sack him." "He's sacking him!" yelled the businessman, and he jumped up from his chair and ran around the kitchen with his arms in the air. He kept on shouting, "He's sacking his lawyer!" Leni tried to rush at K. but the businessman got in her way so that she shoved him away with her fists. Then, still with her hands balled into fists, she ran after K. who, however, had been given a long start. He was already inside the lawyer's room by the time Leni caught up with him. He had almost closed the door behind himself, but Leni held the door open with her foot, grabbed his arm and tried to pull him back. But he put such pressure on her wrist that, with a sigh, she was forced to release him. She did not dare go into the room straight away, and K. locked the door with the key.

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