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The Schoolmaster and Other Stories

In The Graveyard
"THE wind has got up, friends, and it is beginning to get dark. Hadn't we better take
ourselves off before it gets worse?"
The wind was frolicking among the yellow leaves of the old birch trees, and a shower of
thick drops fell upon us from the leaves. One of our party slipped on the clayey soil, and
clutched at a big grey cross to save himself from falling.
"Yegor Gryaznorukov, titular councillor and cavalier . ." he read. "I knew that gentleman.
He was fond of his wife, he wore the Stanislav ribbon, and read nothing. . . . His
digestion worked well . . . . life was all right, wasn't it? One would have thought he had
no reason to die, but alas! fate had its eye on him. . . . The poor fellow fell a victim to his
habits of observation. On one occasion, when he was listening at a keyhole, he got such a
bang on the head from the door that he sustained concussion of the brain (he had a brain),
and died. And here, under this tombstone, lies a man who from his cradle detested verses
and epigrams. . . . As though to mock him his whole tombstone is adorned with verses. . .
. There is someone coming!"
A man in a shabby overcoat, with a shaven, bluish-crimson countenance, overtook us. He
had a bottle under his arm and a parcel of sausage was sticking out of his pocket.
"Where is the grave of Mushkin, the actor?" he asked us in a husky voice.
We conducted him towards the grave of Mushkin, the actor, who had died two years
before.
"You are a government clerk, I suppose?" we asked him.
"No, an actor. Nowadays it is difficult to distinguish actors from clerks of the Consistory.
No doubt you have noticed that. . . . That's typical, but it's not very flattering for the
government clerk."
It was with difficulty that we found the actor's grave. It had sunken, was overgrown with
weeds, and had lost all appearance of a grave. A cheap, little cross that had begun to rot,
and was covered with green moss blackened by the frost, had an air of aged dejection and
looked, as it were, ailing.
". . . forgotten friend Mushkin . . ." we read.
Time had erased the never, and corrected the falsehood of man.
"A subscription for a monument to him was got up among actors and journalists, but they
drank up the money, the dear fellows . . ." sighed the actor, bowing down to the ground
and touching the wet earth with his knees and his cap.
 
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