“Do me a kindness, fellow-countryman, and take me with you to the capital. Why should I go on suffering here in rain and mud, while our Diamond is, men say, in honour there? I don’t understand why it has been treated with such respect. Side by side with me here it lay so many years; it is just such a stone as I am—my close companion. Do take me! How can one tell? If I am seen there, I too, perhaps, may be found worthy of being turned to account.”
The Moujik took the stone into his lumbering cart, and conveyed it to the city. Our stone tumbled into the cart, thinking that it would soon be sitting by the side of the Diamond. But a quite different fate befell it. It really was turned to account, but only to mend a hole in the road.
A conceited Pike took it into its head to exercise the functions of a cat. I do not know whether the Evil One had plagued it with envy, or whether, perhaps, it had grown tired of fishy fare; but, at all events, it thought fit to ask the Cat to take it out to the chase, with the intention of catching a few mice in the warehouse. “But, my dear friend,” Vaska says to the Pike, “do you understand that kind of work? Take care, gossip, that you don’t incur disgrace. It isn’t without reason that they say: ‘The work ought to be in the master’s power.’”
“Why really, gossip, what a tremendous affair it is! Mice, indeed! Why, I have been in the habit of catching perches!”
“Oh, very well. Come along!”
They went; they lay each in ambush. The Cat thoroughly enjoyed itself; made a hearty meal; then went to look after its comrade. Alas! the Pike, almost destitute of life, lay there gasping, its tail nibbled away by the mice. So the Cat, seeing that its comrade had undertaken a task quite beyond its strength, dragged it back, half dead, to its pond.
Trishka’s caftan was out at the elbows. But why should he ponder long over it? He took to his needle, cut a quarter off each sleeve: so mended the elbows.
The caftan was all right again, only his arms were bare for a quarter of their length. That is no great matter, but every one is always laughing at Trishka. So Trishka says:
“I’m not a fool. I’ll set this affair straight also. I’ll make the sleeves longer than they were before. They shall see Trishka is no mere commonplace fellow.”
So he cut off the skirts of his caftan, and used them to lengthen his sleeves.
Then Trishka was happy, though he had a caftan which was as short as a waistcoat.
In a similar way I have sometimes seen other embarrassed people set straight their affairs. Take a look at them as they dash away. They have all got on Trishka’s caftan.