Chapter 4 Summary

At a saloon called the Silenus Restaurant and often frequented by revolutionaries, Ossipun has a meeting with a short, bespectacled bomb-maker known only as the Professor. While a piano plays in the background, Ossipun grills the Professor about a recent event, claiming the Professor must know “the inside of his confounded affair.”

Ironic and aloof, the Professor says he doesn’t know what Ossipun is talking about, that he has been in bed all day and hasn’t had the chance to look at a newspaper. Frustrated because he believes the Professor is being coy with him, Ossipun asks the short man again whether he has heard the news yet, but the Professor continues to act as if he has not.

Ossipun then asks the Professor whether he sells his bomb-making materials to anyone who asks him. The Professor replies that it is his personal principle never to refuse anyone. Ossipun asks how the Professor knows his customers aren’t undercover policemen, and the

Professor says that he will never be arrested because at all times he carries a live bomb on his person, one he can detonate with a switch connected to his pocket. The Professor says that everyone knows about this switch and so anyone dealing with him must realize that they’re putting their own life in his hands.

When the Professor says that it takes twenty seconds for this bomb to detonate, Ossipun is awed by his ability to wait that long. The Professor claims that the bomb could kill everyone currently in the restaurant.

The Professor goes on to criticize the philosophy of Ossipun and the other members of the Red Committee. He claims that Ossipun and his comrades are too wedded to conventional morality to ever sustain a truly successful revolution. What society needs, according to the Professor, is a complete destruction of the current order, and only men like him, who are completely comfortable with death, are able to cause that destruction....

(The entire section is 564 words.)