The Schoolmaster and Other Stories
At The Barber's
MORNING. It is not yet seven o'clock, but Makar Kuzmitch Blyostken's shop is already
open. The barber himself, an unwashed, greasy, but foppishly dressed youth of three and
twenty, is busy clearing up; there is really nothing to be cleared away, but he is perspiring
with his exertions. In one place he polishes with a rag, in another he scrapes with his
finger or catches a bug and brushes it off the wall.
The barber's shop is small, narrow, and unclean. The log walls are hung with paper
suggestive of a cabman's faded shirt. Between the two dingy, perspiring windows there is
a thin, creaking, rickety door, above it, green from the damp, a bell which trembles and
gives a sickly ring of itself without provocation. Glance into the looking-glass which
hangs on one of the walls, and it distorts your countenance in all directions in the most
merciless way! The shaving and haircutting is done before this looking-glass. On the little
table, as greasy and unwashed as Makar Kuzmitch himself, there is everything: combs,
scissors, razors, a ha'porth of wax for the moustache, a ha'porth of powder, a ha'porth of
much watered eau de Cologne, and indeed the whole barber's shop is not worth more than
There is a squeaking sound from the invalid bell and an elderly man in a tanned
sheepskin and high felt over-boots walks into the shop. His head and neck are wrapped in
a woman's shawl.
This is Erast Ivanitch Yagodov, Makar Kuzmitch's godfather. At one time he served as a
watchman in the Consistory, now he lives near the Red Pond and works as a locksmith.
"Makarushka, good-day, dear boy!" he says to Makar Kuzmitch, who is absorbed in
They kiss each other. Yagodov drags his shawl off his head, crosses himself, and sits
"What a long way it is!" he says, sighing and clearing his throat. "It's no joke! From the
Red Pond to the Kaluga gate."
"How are you?"
"In a poor way, my boy. I've had a fever."
"You don't say so! Fever!"
"Yes, I have been in bed a month; I thought I should die. I had extreme unction. Now my
hair's coming out. The doctor says I must be shaved. He says the hair will grow again
strong. And so, I thought, I'll go to Makar. Better to a relation than to anyone else. He