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The Servant

S.T. Semyonov

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Yegor came back and reported that inside of half an hour he would have
to have the horses harnessed, ready to drive his master to town. He
lighted his pipe and took several turns in the room. Then he came to a
halt in front of Gerasim.

"Listen, my boy," he said, "if you want, I'll ask my master to take
you as a servant here."

"Does he need a man?"

"We have one, but he's not much good. He's getting old, and it's very
hard for him to do the work. It's lucky for us that the neighbourhood
isn't a lively one and the police don't make a fuss about things being
kept just so, else the old man couldn't manage to keep the place clean
enough for them."

"Oh, if you can, then please do say a word for me, Yegor Danilych.
I'll pray for you all my life. I can't stand being without work any

"All right, I'll speak for you. Come again to-morrow, and in the
meantime take this ten-kopek piece. It may come in handy."

"Thanks, Yegor Danilych. Then you will try for me? Please do me the

"All right. I'll try for you."

Gerasim left, and Yegor harnessed up his horses. Then he put on his
coachman's habit, and drove up to the front door. Mr. Sharov stepped
out of the house, seated himself in the sleigh, and the horses
galloped off. He attended to his business in town and returned home.
Yegor, observing that his master was in a good humour, said to him:

"Yegor Fiodorych, I have a favour to ask of you."

"What is it?"

"There's a young man from my village here, a good boy He's without a


"Wouldn't you take him?"

"What do I want him for?"

"Use him as man of all work round the place."

"How about Polikarpych?"

"What good is he? It's about time you dismissed him."

"That wouldn't be fair. He has been with me so many years. I can't let
him go just so, without any cause."

"Supposing he has worked for you for years. He didn't work for
nothing. He got paid for it. He's certainly saved up a few dollars for
his old age."

"Saved up! How could he? From what? He's not alone in the world. He
has a wife to support, and she has to eat and drink also."

"His wife earns money, too, at day's work as charwoman."

"A lot she could have made! Enough for kvas."

"Why should you care about Polikarpych and his wife? To tell you the
truth, he's a very poor servant. Why should you throw your money away
on him? He never shovels the snow away on time, or does anything
right. And when it comes his turn to be night watchman, he slips away
at least ten times a night. It's too cold for him. You'll see, some
day, because of him, you will have trouble with the police. The
quarterly inspector will descend on us, and it won't be so agreeable
for you to be responsible for Polikarpych."

"Still, it's pretty rough. He's been with me fifteen years. And to
treat him that way in his old age—it would be a sin."

"A sin! Why, what harm would you be doing him? He won't starve. He'll
go to the almshouse. It will be better for him, too, to be quiet in
his old age."

Sharov reflected.

"All right," he said finally. "Bring your friend here. I'll see what I
can do."

"Do take him, sir. I'm so sorry for him. He's a good boy, and he's
been without work for such a long time. I know he'll do his work well
and serve you faithfully. On account of having to report for military
duty, he lost his last position. If it hadn't been for that, his
master would never have let him go."