The Schoolmaster eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 174 pages of information about The Schoolmaster.
president of the Zemstvo, Marfutkin, kissed my hand after lunch, held it a long while to his lips, and, wagging his head in an absurd way, burst into tears:  so much feeling but no words!  Father Yevmeny, that delightful little old man, sat down by me, and looking tearfully at me kept babbling something like a child.  I did not understand what he said, but I know how to understand true feeling.  The police captain, the handsome man of whom I wrote to you, went down on his knees to me, tried to read me some verses of his own composition (he is a poet), but . . . his feelings were too much for him, he lurched and fell over . . . that huge giant went into hysterics, you can imagine my delight!  The day did not pass without a hitch, however.  Poor Alalykin, the president of the judges’ assembly, a stout and apoplectic man, was overcome by illness and lay on the sofa in a state of unconsciousness for two hours.  We had to pour water on him. . . .  I am thankful to Doctor Dvornyagin:  he had brought a bottle of brandy from his dispensary and he moistened the patient’s temples, which quickly revived him, and he was able to be moved. . . .”

A BAD BUSINESS

“WHO goes there?”

No answer.  The watchman sees nothing, but through the roar of the wind and the trees distinctly hears someone walking along the avenue ahead of him.  A March night, cloudy and foggy, envelopes the earth, and it seems to the watchman that the earth, the sky, and he himself with his thoughts are all merged together into something vast and impenetrably black.  He can only grope his way.

“Who goes there?” the watchman repeats, and he begins to fancy that he hears whispering and smothered laughter.  “Who’s there?”

“It’s I, friend . . .” answers an old man’s voice.

“But who are you?”

“I . . . a traveller.”

“What sort of traveller?” the watchman cries angrily, trying to disguise his terror by shouting.  “What the devil do you want here?  You go prowling about the graveyard at night, you ruffian!”

“You don’t say it’s a graveyard here?”

“Why, what else?  Of course it’s the graveyard!  Don’t you see it is?”

“O-o-oh . . .  Queen of Heaven!” there is a sound of an old man sighing.  “I see nothing, my good soul, nothing.  Oh the darkness, the darkness!  You can’t see your hand before your face, it is dark, friend.  O-o-oh. . .”

“But who are you?”

“I am a pilgrim, friend, a wandering man.”

“The devils, the nightbirds. . . .  Nice sort of pilgrims!  They are drunkards . . .” mutters the watchman, reassured by the tone and sighs of the stranger.  “One’s tempted to sin by you.  They drink the day away and prowl about at night.  But I fancy I heard you were not alone; it sounded like two or three of you.”

“I am alone, friend, alone.  Quite alone.  O-o-oh our sins. . . .”

The watchman stumbles up against the man and stops.

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The Schoolmaster from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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