The Schoolmistress, and other stories eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 189 pages of information about The Schoolmistress, and other stories.

“Pavel Ivanitch!” the turner cried in surprise, seeing the doctor before him.  “Your honor, benefactor!”

He wanted to leap up and fall on his knees before the doctor, but felt that his arms and legs would not obey him.

“Your honor, where are my legs, where are my arms!”

“Say good-by to your arms and legs....  They’ve been frozen off.  Come, come!...  What are you crying for?  You’ve lived your life, and thank God for it!  I suppose you have had sixty years of it—­that’s enough for you!...”

“I am grieving....  Graciously forgive me!  If I could have another five or six years!...”

“What for?”

“The horse isn’t mine, I must give it back....  I must bury my old woman....  How quickly it is all ended in this world!  Your honor, Pavel Ivanitch!  A cigarette-case of birchwood of the best!  I’ll turn you croquet balls....”

The doctor went out of the ward with a wave of his hand.  It was all over with the turner.

ON OFFICIAL DUTY

The deputy examining magistrate and the district doctor were going to an inquest in the village of Syrnya.  On the road they were overtaken by a snowstorm; they spent a long time going round and round, and arrived, not at midday, as they had intended, but in the evening when it was dark.  They put up for the night at the Zemstvo hut.  It so happened that it was in this hut that the dead body was lying—­the corpse of the Zemstvo insurance agent, Lesnitsky, who had arrived in Syrnya three days before and, ordering the samovar in the hut, had shot himself, to the great surprise of everyone; and the fact that he had ended his life so strangely, after unpacking his eatables and laying them out on the table, and with the samovar before him, led many people to suspect that it was a case of murder; an inquest was necessary.

In the outer room the doctor and the examining magistrate shook the snow off themselves and knocked it off their boots.  And meanwhile the old village constable, Ilya Loshadin, stood by, holding a little tin lamp.  There was a strong smell of paraffin.

“Who are you?” asked the doctor.

“Conshtable,...” answered the constable.

He used to spell it “conshtable” when he signed the receipts at the post office.

“And where are the witnesses?”

“They must have gone to tea, your honor.”

On the right was the parlor, the travelers’ or gentry’s room; on the left the kitchen, with a big stove and sleeping shelves under the rafters.  The doctor and the examining magistrate, followed by the constable, holding the lamp high above his head, went into the parlor.  Here a still, long body covered with white linen was lying on the floor close to the table-legs.  In the dim light of the lamp they could clearly see, besides the white covering, new rubber goloshes, and everything about it was uncanny and sinister:  the dark walls, and the silence, and the goloshes, and the stillness of the dead body.  On the table stood a samovar, cold long ago; and round it parcels, probably the eatables.

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Project Gutenberg
The Schoolmistress, and other stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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