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The Servant

S.T. Semyonov

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One day Gerasim betook himself to a friend from his village, who lived
at the extreme outer edge of Moscow, near Sokolnik. The man was
coachman to a merchant by the name of Sharov, in whose service he had
been for many years. He had ingratiated himself with his master, so
that Sharov trusted him absolutely and gave every sign of holding him
in high favour. It was the man's glib tongue, chiefly, that had gained
him his master's confidence. He told on all the servants, and Sharov
valued him for it.

Gerasim approached and greeted him. The coachman gave his guest a
proper reception, served him with tea and something to eat, and asked
him how he was doing.

"Very badly, Yegor Danilych," said Gerasim. "I've been without a job
for weeks."

"Didn't you ask your old employer to take you back?"

"I did."

"He wouldn't take you again?"

"The position was filled already."

"That's it. That's the way you young fellows are. You serve your
employers so-so, and when you leave your jobs, you usually have
muddied up the way back to them. You ought to serve your masters so
that they will think a lot of you, and when you come again, they will
not refuse you, but rather dismiss the man who has taken your place."

"How can a man do that? In these days there aren't any employers like
that, and we aren't exactly angels, either."

"What's the use of wasting words? I just want to tell you about
myself. If for some reason or other I should ever have to leave this
place and go home, not only would Mr. Sharov, if I came back, take me
on again without a word, but he would be glad to, too."

Gerasim sat there downcast. He saw his friend was boasting, and it
occurred to him to gratify him.

"I know it," he said. "But it's hard to find men like you, Yegor
Danilych. If you were a poor worker, your master would not have kept
you twelve years."

Yegor smiled. He liked the praise.

"That's it," he said. "If you were to live and serve as I do, you
wouldn't be out of work for months and months."

Gerasim made no reply.

Yegor was summoned to his master.

"Wait a moment," he said to Gerasim. "I'll be right back."

"Very well."