The Horse-Stealers and Other Stories HTML version

An Avenger
SHORTLY after finding his wife in flagrante delicto Fyodor Fyodorovitch Sigaev was
standing in Schmuck and Co.'s, the gunsmiths, selecting a suitable revolver. His
countenance expressed wrath, grief, and unalterable determination.
"I know what I must do," he was thinking. "The sanctities of the home are outraged,
honour is trampled in the mud, vice is triumphant, and therefore as a citizen and a man of
honour I must be their avenger. First, I will kill her and her lover and then myself."
He had not yet chosen a revolver or killed anyone, but already in imagination he saw
three bloodstained corpses, broken skulls, brains oozing from them, the commotion, the
crowd of gaping spectators, the post-mortem. . . . With the malignant joy of an insulted
man he pictured the horror of the relations and the public, the agony of the traitress, and
was mentally reading leading articles on the destruction of the traditions of the home.
The shopman, a sprightly little Frenchified figure with rounded belly and white waistcoat,
displayed the revolvers, and smiling respectfully and scraping with his little feet
". . . I would advise you, M'sieur, to take this superb revolver, the Smith and Wesson
pattern, the last word in the science of firearms: triple-action, with ejector, kills at six
hundred paces, central sight. Let me draw your attention, M'sieu, to the beauty of the
finish. The most fashionable system, M'sieu. We sell a dozen every day for burglars,
wolves, and lovers. Very correct and powerful action, hits at a great distance, and kills
wife and lover with one bullet. As for suicide, M'sieu, I don't know a better pattern."
The shopman pulled and cocked the trigger, breathed on the barrel, took aim, and
affected to be breathless with delight. Looking at his ecstatic countenance, one might
have supposed that he would readily have put a bullet through his brains if he had only
possessed a revolver of such a superb pattern as a Smith-Wesson.
"And what price?" asked Sigaev.
"Forty-five roubles, M'sieu."
"Mm! . . . that's too dear for me."
"In that case, M'sieu, let me offer you another make, somewhat cheaper. Here, if you'll
kindly look, we have an immense choice, at all prices. . . . Here, for instance, this
revolver of the Lefaucher pattern costs only eighteen roubles, but . . ." (the shopman
pursed up his face contemptuously) ". . . but, M'sieu, it's an old-fashioned make. They are
only bought by hysterical ladies or the mentally deficient. To commit suicide or shoot
one's wife with a Lefaucher revolver is considered bad form nowadays. Smith-Wesson is
the only pattern that's correct style."