The Schoolmaster and Other Stories
FYODOR PETROVITCH the Director of Elementary Schools in the N. District, who
considered himself a just and generous man, was one day interviewing in his office a
schoolmaster called Vremensky.
"No, Mr. Vremensky," he was saying, "your retirement is inevitable. You cannot
continue your work as a schoolmaster with a voice like that! How did you come to lose
"I drank cold beer when I was in a perspiration. . ." hissed the schoolmaster.
"What a pity! After a man has served fourteen years, such a calamity all at once! The idea
of a career being ruined by such a trivial thing. What are you intending to do now?"
The schoolmaster made no answer.
"Are you a family man?" asked the director.
"A wife and two children, your Excellency . . ." hissed the schoolmaster.
A silence followed. The director got up from the table and walked to and fro in
"I cannot think what I am going to do with you!" he said. "A teacher you cannot be, and
you are not yet entitled to a pension. . . . To abandon you to your fate, and leave you to do
the best you can, is rather awkward. We look on you as one of our men, you have served
fourteen years, so it is our business to help you. . . . But how are we to help you? What
can I do for you? Put yourself in my place: what can I do for you?"
A silence followed; the director walked up and down, still thinking, and Vremensky,
overwhelmed by his trouble, sat on the edge of his chair, and he, too, thought. All at once
the director began beaming, and even snapped his fingers.
"I wonder I did not think of it before!" he began rapidly. "Listen, this is what I can offer
you. Next week our secretary at the Home is retiring. If you like, you can have his place!
There you are!"
Vremensky, not expecting such good fortune, beamed too.
"That's capital," said the director. "Write the application to-day."