The Chorus Girl and Other Stories HTML version

A Father
"I ADMIT I have had a drop. . . . You must excuse me. I went into a beer shop on the
way here, and as it was so hot had a couple of bottles. It's hot, my boy."
Old Musatov took a nondescript rag out of his pocket and wiped his shaven, battered face
with it.
"I have come only for a minute, Borenka, my angel," he went on, not looking at his son,
"about something very important. Excuse me, perhaps I am hindering you. Haven't you
ten roubles, my dear, you could let me have till Tuesday? You see, I ought to have paid
for my lodging yesterday, and money, you see! . . . None! Not to save my life!"
Young Musatov went out without a word, and began whispering the other side of the
door with the landlady of the summer villa and his colleagues who had taken the villa
with him. Three minutes later he came back, and without a word gave his father a ten-
rouble note. The latter thrust it carelessly into his pocket without looking at it, and said:
"Merci. Well, how are you getting on? It's a long time since we met."
"Yes, a long time, not since Easter."
"Half a dozen times I have been meaning to come to you, but I've never had time. First
one thing, then another. . . . It's simply awful! I am talking nonsense though. . . . All that's
nonsense. Don't you believe me, Borenka. I said I would pay you back the ten roubles on
Tuesday, don't believe that either. Don't believe a word I say. I have nothing to do at all,
it's simply laziness, drunkenness, and I am ashamed to be seen in such clothes in the
street. You must excuse me, Borenka. Here I have sent the girl to you three times for
money and written you piteous letters. Thanks for the money, but don't believe the letters;
I was telling fibs. I am ashamed to rob you, my angel; I know that you can scarcely make
both ends meet yourself, and feed on locusts, but my impudence is too much for me. I am
such a specimen of impudence--fit for a show! . . . You must excuse me, Borenka. I tell
you the truth, because I can't see your angel face without emotion."
A minute passed in silence. The old man heaved a deep sigh and said:
"You might treat me to a glass of beer perhaps."
His son went out without a word, and again there was a sound of whispering the other
side of the door. When a little later the beer was brought in, the old man seemed to revive
at the sight of the bottles and abruptly changed his tone.
"I was at the races the other day, my boy," he began telling him, assuming a scared
expression. "We were a party of three, and we pooled three roubles on Frisky. And,
thanks to that Frisky, we got thirty-two roubles each for our rouble. I can't get on without