The Schoolmaster and Other Stories
In An Hotel
"LET me tell you, my good man," began Madame Nashatyrin, the colonel's lady at No.
47, crimson and spluttering, as she pounced on the hotel-keeper. "Either give me other
apartments, or I shall leave your confounded hotel altogether! It's a sink of iniquity!
Mercy on us, I have grown-up daughters and one hears nothing but abominations day and
night! It's beyond everything! Day and night! Sometimes he fires off such things that it
simply makes one's ears blush! Positively like a cabman. It's a good thing that my poor
girls don't understand or I should have to fly out into the street with them. . . He's saying
something now! You listen!"
"I know a thing better than that, my boy," a husky bass floated in from the next room.
"Do you remember Lieutenant Druzhkov? Well, that same Druzhkov was one day
making a drive with the yellow into the pocket and as he usually did, you know, flung up
his leg. . . . All at once something went crrr-ack! At first they thought he had torn the
cloth of the billiard table, but when they looked, my dear fellow, his United States had
split at every seam! He had made such a high kick, the beast, that not a seam was left. . . .
Ha-ha-ha, and there were ladies present, too . . . among others the wife of that drivelling
Lieutenant Okurin. . . . Okurin was furious. . . . 'How dare the fellow,' said he, 'behave
with impropriety in the presence of my wife?' One thing led to another . . . you know our
fellows! . . . Okurin sent seconds to Druzhkov, and Druzhkov said 'don't be a fool' . . . ha-
ha-ha, 'but tell him he had better send seconds not to me but to the tailor who made me
those breeches; it is his fault, you know.' Ha-ha-ha! Ha-ha-ha. . . ."
Lilya and Mila, the colonel's daughters, who were sitting in the window with their round
cheeks propped on their fists, flushed crimson and dropped their eyes that looked buried
in their plump faces.
"Now you have heard him, haven't you?" Madame Nashatyrin went on, addressing the
hotel-keeper. "And that, you consider, of no consequence, I suppose? I am the wife of a
colonel, sir! My husband is a commanding officer. I will not permit some cabman to utter
such infamies almost in my presence!"
"He is not a cabman, madam, but the staff-captain Kikin. . . . A gentleman born."
"If he has so far forgotten his station as to express himself like a cabman, then he is even
more deserving of contempt! In short, don't answer me, but kindly take steps!"
"But what can I do, madam? You are not the only one to complain, everybody's
complaining, but what am I to do with him? One goes to his room and begins putting him
to shame, saying: 'Hannibal Ivanitch, have some fear of God! It's shameful! and he'll
punch you in the face with his fists and say all sorts of things: 'there, put that in your pipe
and smoke it,' and such like. It's a disgrace! He wakes up in the morning and sets to
walking about the corridor in nothing, saving your presence, but his underclothes. And
when he has had a drop he will pick up a revolver and set to putting bullets into the wall.