The Darling and Other Stories
IT is one o'clock in the afternoon. Shopping is at its height at the "Nouveauté's de Paris,"
a drapery establishment in one of the Arcades. There is a monotonous hum of shopmen's
voices, the hum one hears at school when the teacher sets the boys to learn something by
heart. This regular sound is not interrupted by the laughter of lady customers nor the slam
of the glass door, nor the scurrying of the boys.
Polinka, a thin fair little person whose mother is the head of a dressmaking establishment,
is standing in the middle of the shop looking about for some one. A dark-browed boy
runs up to her and asks, looking at her very gravely:
"What is your pleasure, madam?"
"Nikolay Timofeitch always takes my order," answers Polinka.
Nikolay Timofeitch, a graceful dark young man, fashionably dressed, with frizzled hair
and a big pin in his cravat, has already cleared a place on the counter and is craning
forward, looking at Polinka with a smile.
"Morning, Pelagea Sergeevna!" he cries in a pleasant, hearty baritone voice. "What can I
do for you?"
"Good-morning!" says Polinka, going up to him. "You see, I'm back again. . . . Show me
some gimp, please."
"Gimp--for what purpose?"
"For a bodice trimming--to trim a whole dress, in fact."
Nickolay Timofeitch lays several kinds of gimp before Polinka; she looks at the
trimmings languidly and begins bargaining over them.
"Oh, come, a rouble's not dear," says the shopman persuasively, with a condescending
smile. "It's a French trimming, pure silk. . . . We have a commoner sort, if you like,
heavier. That's forty-five kopecks a yard; of course, it's nothing like the same quality."
"I want a bead corselet, too, with gimp buttons," says Polinka, bending over the gimp and
sighing for some reason. "And have you any bead motifs to match?"
Polinka bends still lower over the counter and asks softly: