“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.”
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 longer.”
“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 favour.”
“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: