Manager! Take it easy on my parents! There is really no basis for the criticisms which you are now making against me, and really nobody has said a word to me about that. Perhaps you have not read the latest orders which I shipped. Besides, now I’m setting out on my trip on the eight o’clock train; the few hours’ rest have made me stronger. Mr. Manager, do not stay. I will be at the office in person right away. Please have the goodness to say that and to convey my respects to the Chief.’
While Gregor was quickly blurting all this out, hardly aware of what he was saying, he had moved close to the chest of drawers without effort, probably as a result of the practice he had already had in bed, and now he was trying to raise himself up on it. Actually, he wanted to open the door; he really wanted to let himself be seen by and to speak with the manager. He was keen to witness what the others now asking after him would say at the sight of him. If they were startled, then Gregor had no more responsibility and could be calm. But if they accepted everything quietly, then he would have no reason to get excited and, if he got a move on, could really be at the station around eight o’clock.
At first he slid down a few times from the smooth chest of drawers. But at last he gave himself a final swing and stood upright there. He was no longer at all aware of the pains in his lower body, no matter how they might still sting. Now he let himself fall against the back of a nearby chair, on the edge of which he braced himself with his thin limbs. By doing this he gained control over himself and kept quiet, for he could now hear the manager.
‘Did you understood a single word?’ the manager asked the parents, ‘Is he playing the fool with us?’ ‘For God’s sake,’ cried the mother already in tears, ‘perhaps he’s very ill and we’re upsetting him. Grete! Grete!’ she yelled at that point. ‘Mother?’ called the sister from the other side. They were making themselves understood through Gregor’s room. ‘You must go to the doctor right away. Gregor is sick. Hurry to the doctor. Have you heard Gregor speak yet?’ ‘That was an animal’s voice,’ said the manager, remarkably quietly in comparison to the mother’s cries.
‘Anna! Anna!’ yelled the father through the hall into the kitchen, clapping his hands, ‘fetch a locksmith right away!’ The two young women were already running through the hall with swishing skirts (how had his sister dressed herself so quickly?) and yanked open the doors of the apartment. One couldn’t hear the doors closing at all. They probably had left them open, as is customary in an apartment in which a huge misfortune has taken place.
However, Gregor had become much calmer. All right, people did not understand his words any more, although they seemed clear enough to him, clearer than previously, perhaps because his ears had gotten used to them. But at least people now thought that things were not all right with him and were prepared to help him.