The Baldwin Library
... m' .
A CHINA CUP
OTHER STORIES FOR CHILDREN
THE CHILDREN'S LIBRARY
THE BROWN OWL.
THE CHINA CUP, AND OTHER STORIES.
STORIES FROM FAIRYLAND.
.OTHER STORIES FOR CHILDREN
ILLUSTRATED BY MALISCHEFF
FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
A CHINA CUP
How SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
DEFENDED THE RIGHT .
THE TINY SCREW
THE OLD SWORD'S MISTAKE
'MY OWN '
THE TALE ABOUT HOW ALL
THESE TALES CAME TO LIGHT
A CHINA CUP
A CHINA CUP
WAGGON drove to the
great pit dug in the clay
-not common clay, but
such as china vessels are
made of. A man with an iron spade
jumped from the waggon; he entered
the pit and began to dig the clay.
After the first stroke of the spade a
little lump fell out of the native
ground, and with a bitter, plaintive
murmur rolled down. Nobody heard
the murmur; it seemed to the work-
man that the Lump in rolling down
made a slight noise, whereas it was
A CHINA CUP
groaning: it was hard to be torn away
from mother earth. 'All is over,' it
whispered; oh, how hard it is to live
in the world !'
The workman took it up on his
spade with the other clay, and threw
it into the waggon. 'Oh!' groaned
the bit of clay from pain, as it fell on
the bottom of the waggon; 'not only
was I torn away from my mother, but
thrown far away from her. Alas! is
there any one more unhappy in this
world than I ? I should like to die I'
But the Lump did not die. The
workman had soon filled up his wag-
gon, jumped in himself, and drove
away, carrying it to the china factory.
It was pretty well while they were
going along an even place, but when
they went down a steep mountain-side,
the horse ran fast, and our Lump was
jolted, thrown from side to side, and
knocked against the waggon. Nor did
all its torments end then. As soon as
it was brought to the china factory, it
A CHINA CUP 5
was thrown with other clay into a large
tub with water in it, and it felt with
horror how it- began gradually to get
soft, and to be transformed into a sort
of soft mud. It had no time to
recover, as it was taken out with a
great ladle and poured somewhere-
it was into the funnel of the great
millstones. The driver shouted, the
horses went on, pulled one end of a
bar, which was fastened by the other
end to a big axle standing erect in the
middle of the great millstones; the
bar again turned the axle to which the
upper millstone was fastened, and the
millstones began to grind the water-
softened clay, crushing its smallest
particles. Our Lump no longer ex-
isted, but all its little particles which
before formed it were now like clay-
jelly, and kept close together.
Ah, how, they suffered! The awful
millstone pressed upon them with
its whole weight-squeezed, flattened,
ground them. They shrivelled, groaned,
6 A CHINA CUP
cried from pain and said: 'Oh-o-o!
what a torture! it is all over with us !'
But that was not all. After the
grinding the clay-jelly was poured by
means of gutters into the empty wooden
tub to settle. There the hard particles,
heavier than water, sank. On the
bottom was the sand, next the reddish
clay, mixed with iron-rust, then the
coarser parts of the white clay, and
finally its lightest particles, quite free
from all other mixture. All the part-
icles of our Lump happened to be of
the same weight and to be nicely
ground; they sank together and
formed again the same Lump, only
soft, delicate, and free from all un-
necessary admixture. It was very
nice, of course, but the little Lump was
so tired from all it suffered, so ex-
hausted, that it did not wish to live
in the world. 'I would rather death
would come !' it said.
Death, however, did not come. A
workman came instead, poured off the
SA CHINA CUP 7
water which was on the surface of the
clay, cut the clay to the bottom, separ-
ated it into layers, and assorted them,
so that the upper, more delicate layer
was for the best china vessels, and the
lower for the coarser plates. As our
Lump was in the upper layer, it was
taken to a workman who made the
The workman took our Lump, put
it into the middle of a round table
which turned on its centre, made this
table spin round with his feet, and at
the same time pressed the clay here
and there till he had made a coarse
cup without a handle. The workman
then, with an instrument like a knife,
began to turn the cup, till it became a
fine, fine one. He then handed it to
his neighbour, who put a nice little
handle to it. 'Well,' thought the
Lump, transformed now into a cup,
'it is not so bad. I suffered indeed,
but what a beauty I am now!' .
and the Cup looked self-contentedly
8 A CHINA CUP
around. She did not rejoice long.
She was soon put with others into one
of the pots of particular form called
'muffles,' and the muffles were put
into a furnace, which began to heat
the Cup by scorching degrees to make
it red hot. 'Oh, how hot it is!'
stammered the poor Cup, perspiring,
crying, and groaning at once. 'Oh,
what a torture Oh, how hard it is to
live in the world! I should like to
Still, she did not die. She was
taken from the furnace, watered with
a certain mixture, burnt once more. A
charming bouquet and garland were
then painted on her, and the Cup did
not recognize herself. 'Ah, how happy
I am!' said she to herself ; 'it was
worth while to suffer all that I suffered.
I am the most beautiful here, and
there is and will be no one happier.'
Very soon the Cup went from the
factory to the shop. She was de-
lighted to see the fine hall with large
A CHINA CUP
windows and nice glass cases. She
enjoyed the society of china cups,
teapots, plates, and all sorts of most
'Here,' thought she, 'they can
appreciate my beauty I' and she im-
mediately addressed her neighbour, a
big, round teapot: 'Please, sir, have
you been long here ?'
'Yes,' answered the teapot gruffly,
knocking with his coarse lid.
'And do you think there was ever
before a cup with such fine ornament
and delicate painting as I have ?'
Ho-ho-ho-ha-ha !' laughed the
big teapot. 'Just listen !' shouted he
to his companions, as big and coarse
as himself; 'this damsel is asking
whether there is in the world a
beauty like her? -ho-ho-ho!'
Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha !' burst all the big
teapots in laughter, holding their sides
with their handles.
Our Cup was offended, and ashamed
o1 A CHINA CUP
What are you laughing at?' whis-
pered she in confusion.
.And how can we help laughing?'
exclaimed her neighbour; 'you think
too much of yourself; and what are
you good for ? To spend all your life
on some nice shelf; you need cheap-
ness and solidity to be of some use.
And as for your ornament, look to
your right, on the third shelf; there
are more elegant ones there than you !'
The Cup looked to the right, and
would have grown green from envy if
she could have changed colour. There
were standing fine cups on small feet;
such delicate, fine cups, like white, pale,
and pink rose petals the beauti-
ful bouquets, the prettiest heads, the
finest gold lace, with black and green
ornamentation, were painted upon
them. These cups were also proud of
their beauty, and as they were more
beautiful than their new companion,
they looked at her with contempt and
A CHINA CUP 11
In the china factory the Cup thought
herself the most beautiful in the world,
and was quite happy; and now she
was forced not only to acknowledge
that there were more beautiful ones,
but to listen to the mocking words
and endure the most offensive looks.
Envy, vexation, shame, tormented her,
and she would fain run away some-
where, yet she could not move from
the spot. This helplessness added
still to her pain and anger. She would
like to have sunk into the earth.
'Ah,' thought she, 'why did I not
die before! Why does death not
Death did not come, however. The
shop door opened, a fine lady, with a
richly-dressed young girl of about ten
years of age, came in.
'We want a nice cup, not too ex-
pensive,' said the lady to the shopman
at the counter.
The shopman took our Cup and
some others from the shelf and put
12 A CHINA CUP
them on the counter. Oh, what our
Cup felt at that moment! She was
displayed with half a dozen of her
companions, every one of whom
thought herself more beautiful than the
others, and was proud of it. Suppose
these elegant purchasers should give
the preference not to her, but to one of
her conceited companions ? She felt
as if on burning coals. The little girl
stretched her hand to one of our Cup's
neighbours, and the Cup trembled
with anxiety. But the little purchaser
only touched the rival of our Cup and
finally took the latter. 'This one,
mamma,' said the child, and the
mother bought her. Oh, with what a
pride shone now this plaything, and
how haughtily she looked at her com-
panions! Her beauty is now openly
acknowledged; she is preferred to
others! She was bright with happi-
ness, and slightly trembled when the
shopman took her from the counter to
wrap her in paper.
A CHINA CUP 13
'Ah, how happy I atn !' said the
Cup in the evening, when fragrant tea
was poured in, and all who were sit-
ting at the tea-table admired her; of
course there is and will be nobody
happier than I.'
Just at this moment the pretty little
girl who had chosen her at the shop
came running in from the garden.
She was very thirsty. She seized the
Cup and took a sip at once, notwith-
standing that they cried to her that
the tea was too hot. The Cup cer-
tainly was not to blame that the girl
from her own carelessness had scalded
her mouth, and the girl treated her
unjustly. 'Oh, you nasty Cup !' cried
she, and threw her to the floor.
Crash! and the pieces of the poor
innocent Cup tinkled plaintively, and
drops of tea, like big tears, trickled on
to the floor from her. The footman
came, gathered the pieces of the
broken Cup and threw them away
into the backyard on the rubbish heap.
14 A CHINA CUP
There she was with the bits of old
leather, broken glass, rusty pieces of
tin, and a pair of decaying cucumbers.
She shivered from contact with the
dirt, which she had never experienced
since she was a nice cup, and she felt
sick from the unpleasant odour. 'Oh,
how unhappy I am !' said the broken
Cup. 'All is over. I have nothing
to expect from life. I have only to
The Cup did not lie long in the
rubbish heap. Early, early the next
morning, when all were yet asleep in
the house, there came into the back-
yard a poor, wrinkled, dirty, ragged,
old woman. She had on her back a
bag, and a big stick with a hook on
its end in her hand. She was a rag-
gatherer. She dug into the heaps
with her hook, picked out of them the
bones, rags, paper, nails, pieces of glass,
and such things thrown away as
seemed to the poor woman of some
use. After having filled up the bag,
A CHINA CUP
the rag-gatherer went home, sorted its
contents, and then took the bones to
the shoeblacking maker, rags and
paper to the pasteboard maker, the
iron to the dealer in old iron, and the
glass to the glass factory. All these
places were far from each other and
from her lodging, and the poor woman
was exceedingly tired in going from
one place to another. She gained
thus a few copecks,' without which
neither she nor her sick granddaughter
would have had anything to eat. On
the following morning the old woman
went again to dig among the heaps.
Coming near the rubbish heap where
the broken Cup was lying, the woman
began to work with her hook, seeking
with her old, tearful, short-sighted eyes
something worth having. She had
already dug up all that she wanted,
when her hook struck against some-
1 A copeck (in Russian kopfka) is a Russian
copper; Ioo copecks form one rouble. A rouble
is worth 2s. oyd. in English money.
16 A CHINA CUP
thing hard; the old woman knew by
this sound that there was something like
glass in the heap. She stooped down
and took up a fragment of the Cup with
a nice nosegay on it.
What fine flowers !' whispered she;
'I will take it home for Mary-a nice
plaything for her-I must take it.'
The good old woman smiled, as she
thought of her beloved granddaughter,
called Mary. She began to search
again among the rubbish, and found
that there were many fine pieces, and
those not too small. 'Oh, the pieces
are all here,' said she; ;' it is possible
perhaps to cement them together.'
And taking all the bits she put them
by themselves into the pocket of her
It was as dark as in a cellar in
the pocket of the old woman, and as
oppressively warm as in an uncared-
for hospital-room in summer; there
were besides an old onion and the
crumbs of spoiled, ill-smelling cheese.
A CHINA CUP 17
The broken Cup felt still more sick at
heart than before; she shivered; her
broken pieces tinkled plaintively at
every step the woman took, and she
thought, 'Oh, what suffering I should
like to die !'
She did not die. It was light when
the old woman came to a large brick
house six stories high, near a market-
place, in a narrow, dirty lane. She
entered through a dirty passage the
courtyard, surrounded on all. sides
with buildings, passed through a
gloomy basement door down to the
ground-floor, where her lodging was.
It was a dark, cheerless room, with
small windows high above the brick
floor. In every corner of the room
there was a whole family of beggars.
The old woman approached a heap
of rags, groaning, removed from her
shoulder the bag with her day's gains
in it, and sat down on an old pine
candle-box, turned upside down, near
the rags; she then took from her
18 A CHINA CUP
pocket all the pieces of the Cup, and
put them on another box which stood
there for a table. The first thing our
Cup now heard was a harsh, noisy
scolding from the farthest corner of
the room; everybody in this beggars'
haunt was so accustomed to it that
nobody paid any attention. 'Oh,'
thought the Cup, 'this is too much!
In what company am I! What rough
people there are Oh, there is surely
nobody in the world more unhappy
than I! I would like to die as soon
as possible !'
The rags in the corner now moved;
under them was lying the sick, sallow,
emaciated darling of the old woman.
She looked at her grandmother with
her wearied eyes, and nothing inter-
'Here is a piece of prydneek, Mary,
which I brought for you,' said the
old woman, taking out a piece of
frydneek, which she had bought for a
A CHINA CUP 19
This was a cake of white, stone-like
consistency, supposed to represent a
horse, though it may be doubted
whether four stumps instead of feet,
a gilded head and a crimson tail, would
give a really good idea of one. There
was indeed enough flour in it, but
little sweetness; still it was a thing
as much to delight the heart of a
Russian child as a gingerbread cat
to rejoice the heart of an English
The girl looked at it, but shook her
head, and did not eat it; she did not
even touch it.
'Why don't you take it, Mary?
Do take it, dear, such a nice piece
of prydneek; look!'
And the grandmother held up the
present, turning it round to show all its
beauty. The girl looked up once more
at the cake, and then at her grand-
mother, without moving her head.
'I am so sore!' she whispered
20 A CHINA CUP
'What ails you?' asked the old
'Everything ails me,' said the sick
girl softly, and two big tears rolled
slowly down her cheeks.
The broken Cup looked at all this,
and was very sorry, and her pieces
tinkled plaintively together, and then
she felt ashamed that she had thought
herself so unhappy while there was in
the world plenty of sorrow far greater
than her own. The girl heard the
tinkling, and silently looked up to see
what it was that was tinkling so on
the box. She noticed the beautiful
flowers on the broken pieces of the
Cup; her eyes brightened by degrees,
and she whispered softly:
'Give it to me, grandmamma.'
'Take it, take it, darling I brought
it home for you.'
Mary took the pieces in her hands,
trembling from weakness, and began
to turn them over and over, admiring
them. She had never any playthings,
A CHINA CUP
and therefore the pretty pieces seemed
to her so much the finer. The more
she looked at them the more her eyes
brightened, and at last she smiled.
The old woman had not for a long
time seen such an expression of
pleasure on the worn-out face of her
poor granddaughter, and the feeble
smile of the sick child rejoiced her
'Oh,' thought the Cup, 'I never
expected to give to any one so much
pleasure after having been broken to
pieces! And I am happier, indeed,
than I was in the rich house where
everybody at the tea-table admired
'Mary, you know, we shall cement
the cup; indeed we shall do it It
will be a pretty cup,' whispered the
Mary became more cheerful, and
the Cup thought: 'Ah, it is possible I
am really good for something! It
seems to me I was in too great a
22 A CHINA CUP
hurry to die; it is worth while living
in the world.'
On the next day the old woman
came home after her day's work with a
little tpfyes, a sort of cylindrical vessel
of birch bark, in which there was a
handful of curd and an egg. These
she had received from some kind-
'You see, Mary, we are going to
cement the Cup!' said she, sitting
down on her box.
Mary had been groaning and fret-
ting all the day and night, but now
she smiled again. The old woman
broke the egg, poured it into an old
wooden basin, placed on the-box some
curd, mixed lime with it, and, kneading
all together with the white of egg, she
made a thick cement. Smearing the
edges of the pieces of our Cup with the
mixture, the old woman pressed them
together, and placed the Cup carefully
in a hot oven, that the cement might
harden and become proof against water
A CHINA CUP 23
or anything else. It was hot in the
oven for the Cup-dreadfully hot i but
she was ready to suffer anything to be
the same complete beautiful cup as
before. 'Oh, how happy I am!' thought
she, awaiting with inward trembling the
end of her trials in the oven. All is
going on well; I will live again!'
Mary in the meantime grew worse:
she fretted, groaned, and complained
with bitter tears.
'Oh, grandmamma, how I ache!
how I ache !'
'Oh, my poor darling!' said the
old woman, sobbing, while hot tears
rolled down her wrinkled, unwashed
face; 'I cannot tell what to do for
you, my dear pet.'
In the same room with the old
woman, in another corner, there lived
a beggar, an old discharged soldier of
the time of the Russian Emperor
Nicholas, when the discipline was so
inhumanly severe and the term of ser-
vice lasted a whole quarter of a cen-
24 A CHINA CUP
tury He had been in the wars,
fought bravely, and now he was quite
alone in the wide world. The bullets
were still in his body, old age prevented
him from working, and he was obliged
to get by begging here and there a few
copecks. He became accustomed to
sorrow; but now it grieved him to see
the misery of the old woman and the
sufferings of the little girl.
'You are foolish,' said he to the
old woman; 'why do you cry, as if
the child was dying ? You must not
do it Go rather for the physician.'
'Will the physician come ?' ex-
claimed the old woman. 'You are
indeed like an innocent child, Nikitich.l
1 Pronounce 'Neeke6teech." The reader
should rather be told here that the Russian
fashion of calling a person, when addressing
him or her, is not by his or her surname, but
by the Christian name, with the addition of
his or her father's name, somewhat altered in
a way to express 'son of' or 'daughter of'
such-a-one; for example-Ivin Nikitich (John,
son of Nikita). Among common people and
among friends they address only in one's
A CHINA CUP 25
Will the physician come to such a
dirty place ?'
'And why should he not come?
One will not come, another will not
come, but some one perhaps will come
at last. There, I know a physician,
Kdtov, a nice gentleman He always
gives me a glass of tea and five
copecks. He will not let me go with-
out giving me something. How do
you do, Nikitich ?" says he always to
me. I tell you, go to him. Ask him;
you needn't care.'
'Yes, at his home he will receive
me perhaps, but he will not come here.
No, we have nothing to do with physi-
cians. I cannot afford to buy medicine,
and very likely they will not even let
me into the house. No, I dare not.'
Christian name without the addition of the
father's name (' dt-chest-vo') ; but if, in address-
ing a common person, you wish to express
some deference, you use only the 6tchestvo,'
without the person's Christian name; for ex-
ample, Nikitich' instead of 'Ivan Nikitich.'
Such is the case in our tale.
A CHINA CUP
'Well, if you dare not, I will go
At these words the old wounded
soldier took his stick and hobbled
away to the physician's.
The physician did come. He was
a very good man, only he had the
habit of speaking in an angry tone
and even shouting, so that some were
afraid of him. He examined the girl
a long time, put his ear to her back
and chest, tapped both with his fingers,
spat in disgust, and complained angrily
of the dirt and unwholesome air of the
room. He ordered that nothing but
broth be given to the girl, wrote a pre-
scription on a bit of paper, and said
that the medicine would be given
gratuitously at the apothecary's.
In the evening the old woman
brought the bottle with the medicine,
poured some into a wooden spoon and
presented it to her granddaughter.
The girl shook her head feebly and
turned away. She was afraid of the
A CHINA CUP
medicine; she thought it was some-
thing so disagreeable, and for nothing
in the world would she take it.
'Ah me!' said her grandmother,
sighing, why won't you take it? It's
too bad! What will the physician say?
He ordered it and you will not take it.
Wait, you will see what will happen to
disobedient children !'
The girl was frightened; she began
to sob, and when her grandmother
offered her the spoon, she covered her
mouth with her hand and hid her face
in her pillow.
In the morning the old woman took
our Cup out of the oven. Oh, how
glad was our Cup when the old woman,
looking all over her, said to herself,
'Oh, I see it is as good as new now !'
Just at this moment Mary called for
her grandmother and asked for a drink.
The old woman went with the newly-
cemented Cup for some water, and as
she held her hand over the tub, the
Cup saw herself in the water as in a
28 A CHINA CUP
mirror. Alas what did she see there ?
In many places were ugly cracks; the
cement, applied by an unskilful hand,
formed spots and patches. 'Oh,'
groaned the Cup-' oh, how ugly I
am!n It would have been better for
me to perish in the rubbish heap.
Ah, now I would like to die as soon
She did not die, however. The old
woman was obliged to put her in haste
on the window-sill, for just then the
physician entered the room.
'How many spoonfuls of medicine
did she take ?' asked he angrily.
'She did not take any at all, sir.
What shall I do with her ? Such an
obstinate, silly girl; she is not willing
to take any; what shall I do?'
answered the old woman.
'What? How does she dare?
What does she mean? Give me the
spoon !' cried the doctor.
At these words Mary screamed, her
eyes opened wide from fear, and she
A CHINA CUP 29
covered her head with the bedclothes.
The doctor turned once more to the
'And did she take the broth?' he
'But, my good sir, where should we
get money for the broth?' said the
rag-gatherer, with tears in her eyes.
'Well, why did you ask me to come
if you did not intend to do what I
ordered?' He then took at once a
crushed three-rouble bank note from
his pocket, threw it angrily on the
box which served as a table, and
turned away. When he reached the
door he turned his head, and, flushed
with excitement, said:
'All the medicine must be taken by
to-morrow, and the broth must be
ready, and that's the end of it!'
When the old woman saw the three
roubles in her hand she could hardly
realise her good fortune and believe
in her happiness. Just think, three
roubles! For three years or so she
30 A CHINA CUP
had never had more than thirty copecks
at one time, and now she had three
'God grant you every happiness,
our benefactor!' repeated the poor
woman over and over again.
As for Mary, she grew worse and
worse. She groaned, her dilated eyes
shone with the fire of fever, her lips
became parched and black.
'Oh, you little dove, do take the
medicine, and you will feel better,'
entreated the old woman; but Mary
obstinately refused to take any. See-
ing the sufferings of the poor girl, the
rag-gatherer suddenly clasped her gray
head with her hands.
'Oh my God what am I to do with
her? what am I to do with her?'
wept she in despair. She will die, I
am sure, through her own foolishness.
How hard it is to see her suffering
just because she will not take a little
The Cup saw and heard all this,
A CHINA CUP 31
and once more she felt ashamed of
having thought herself unhappy for
not being as beautiful as formerly.
Is this misery ?' thought she now
of her own appearance; 'there is
misery indeed !' and the little Cup was
herself ready to cry for pity. In the
meantime the poor woman dried her
tears and approached her sick grand-
Do you know that I have mended
the little Cup?' she said.
The face of the little girl brightened,
and a faint smile played upon it.
'Let me see it,' lisped she.
The grandmother showed her the
little Cup, and Mary's face expressed
as much rapture as if she saw some
masterpiece of beauty. The poor
child had seen during her life so few
beautiful things, that the mended Cup
with the pretty nosegay on her trans-
ported her with delight.
'And wouldn't you take the medi-
cine out of the Cup ?' asked the old
32 A CHINA CUP
woman, in an uncertain, coaxing tone
The girl made no reply, but smiled
'Well, will you take it out of the
pretty little Cup ?'
'I will,' answered Mary, in an
almost inaudible voice.
The little Cup was standing at that
moment on the window-sill, and was
trembling with joy; hitherto no one
had loved her so deeply as Mary did.
Was it not for her sake alone that
Mary consented to take the medicine ?
Perhaps the little girl will recover;
perhaps she, the Cup, will have saved
a human life. 'Oh, what a beautiful
thing it is to live,' said the Cup to
herself; never before was I so
It was a glorious summer day when
Mary went the first time after her
dangerous illness to take breath in
the open air. She was still thin and
A CHINA CUP 33
pale, but her large eyes were bright,
and she looked happy. She was sit-
ting in the nearest square, under a big
green tree, with her Cup in both her
hands. The little girl was evidently
eager to have the Cup always with
her; she would not part with her
treasure. The Cup felt herself also
happy--nay, happier than ever-
although she was now broken and
spotted with ugly cement patches.
She was happy and proud to be the
best friend of the little Mary whom
she had helped to restore to life and
HOW SCARLET-COMB THE
COCK DEFENDED THE
HOW SCARLET-COMB THE
COCK DEFENDED THE RIGHT
LL this happened long, long
ago, in the days when
birds and beasts could talk
in human speech, and the
Polish magnates went about in long
'kountoushi' I-coats embroidered with
gold and silver, with sleeves slung on
behind-and possessed serfs. Perhaps
you do not know what a serf' was in
the old times ? Well, a serf was a
person just like the rest of us, only he
was bound to the land by law; he
had not the right to go and live in
any other place, and if the land was
1 The plural of the Polish word 'kodntoush.'
38 HOW SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
sold, he was sold with it; he tilled
the land, though not for his own profit,
but for the profit of the landowner.
It was not only in Poland that there
used to be these serfs and landlords
who owned them, but in all countries-
in ours as well as every other; and
everywhere the serfs had a hard time
of it. Those landlords who had any
conscience and commonsense, and who
were not in any great need of money,
made their serfs work for them a cer-
tain part of their time, and bring them
eggs, flax, etc.; the rest of their time
and goods the serfs could dispose of
as they thought fit. Others regarded
their peasants as beasts of burden,
belonging to them body and soul; they
forced the peasants to work for them
as much as was possible, and thought
they had a right to all the peasants'
property. But whether the serf-owner
was personally good or bad, it was a
loathsome thing in itself that one
human being should own another.
DEFENDED THE RIGHT 39
One day a Polish 'Pan' (noble-
man) of this kind was riding through
a village on his land. The green
sleeves of his bright-coloured koun-
toush streamed back from his shoulders,
fluttering in the breeze; his fine dappled
horse stepped impatiently under its
rider, tossing flakes of white foam
from its mouth; and Pan Podlidsski
himself glanced haughtily to the right
and left. The wretched, bare look
of the peasants' huts and ruinous
farmyards did not distress him at all;
in Pan Podliasski's opinion a serf was
a serf for nothing else but to be
always ragged, dirty, and miserable.
Suddenly, as he passed one of the huts,
the landlord raised his eyebrows in
angry surprise; in the bare and filthy
yard stood a first-rate grindstone.
'Where did a rascally serf get such
a capital grindstone?' he thought; and
turning to his steward, who was riding
behind with two or three noble retain-
ers, he asked: Whose yard is this ?'
40 HOW SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
'Stanislas Kogodtek's, most illus-
trious Pan,' respectfully answered the
'Why is the grindstone here?'
'It does not belong to the manor;
we have not such a good grindstone,'
replied the steward, understanding the
mistake of the magnate, who supposed
the grindstone to be his, and to have
come into the peasant's yard by chance.
Here Klhop /' (serf 1), cried Pan
A middle-aged peasant, bareheaded,
barefooted, and wearing nothing but
a shirt and trousers of coarse sacking,
ran out of the hut at this summons.
He approached his master, bowing
humbly, fell on his knees before
him, bowed to the ground, and, rising,
kissed his stirrup, after which he
'Whose is the grindstone?' asked
the landlord, frowning.
Kogodtek's terror increased, and
his eyes glanced round in agitation;
DEFENDED THE RIGHT 41
he realized how foolish he had been
not to hide the grindstone from his
'Whose is the grindstone, psia
krew ?' 1 cried the magnate angrily.
'Mine, most illustrious Pan,' an-
swered Kogottek, trembling with fear.
How dare you, you rascal, when I
myself haven't such a grindstone, the
steward says ?'
'I earned it, please your honour,'
stammered Kogoiitek faintly.
'Earned it. What next!' ex-
claimed Pan Podliisski, amazed at
the peasant's insolence, and reddening
with anger. 'How dare you say that,
when you yourself are my property,
not only all your work; do you hear,
you dog? Take it up to the manor,
and give this scoundrel a good lesson,'
he added, turning to the steward.
The unfortunate peasant knew what
a 'good lesson' meant, and flung him-
1 A Polish term of abuse; literally, blood
(or race) of a dog.
42 HOW SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
self, with a piteous cry, at the feet of
his master's horse. But the magnate
shook the reins and galloped off with
The next morning the grindstone
was transferred to the manor yard, and
the wretched Kogofitek was flogged in
the manor stables.
Humiliated, crushed under the sense
of injustice and lacerated with the whip,
the unhappy peasant crept home and
sank down on a bench with a groan.
'What is the matter with our master?'
asked the young cock, Scarlet-Comb, of
his mother, as they strolled about the
yard with the white hen Top-knot and
the old cock.
'Why, didn't you see that they took
away the grindstone that he had worked
so hard for, and then thrashed him for
nothing besides ?'
Scarlet-Comb was still a very young
cock; his grand tail-feathers had not
yet grown, so he did not know how
cruel and unjust people can be. His
DEFENDED THE RIGHT 43
mother's words showed him this for the
first time. He spread his wings and
craned his little neck as if he would
shout out what he had just heard to
all the world; but a spasm in the
throat prevented him from uttering a
sound. When, however, his first burst
of grief and indignation had somewhat
abated, he again appealed to his mother.
'Well, and what will happen now,
What? Why, nothing. Pan Pod-
liAsski will have the grindstone, and
our poor master will have his bruises
'What! And no one, will stand up
for the right?'
'Oh, my child, how recklessly you
talk!' hurriedly whispered the old
hen. Supposing any one should
overhear you, what then ? Why, they
would think you a rebel! What
is the use of talking about "right"
and "standing up" when Pan Podliasski
is a great lord, with fifty horses in his
44 HOW SCARLET-COMB THE, COCK
stables, and hundreds of servants at his
bidding, while our master is a poor
peasant, wearing himself out with
'Well, then, I will take our master's
part I will get justice done!' cried
'Hush, you silly child!' answered
his mother more anxiously than ever,
and gently seizing his comb with her
bill. 'What else do you imagine you
can do ? You would like to set the
whole world to rights, no doubt!'
'The thing is impossible!' cried
Scarlet-Comb, and turning to the old
cock, he added: 'Am I not right,
The old cock majestically raised his
head, stood on tiptoe, flapped his
wings, and shouted at the top of his
voice: 'Cock-a-doodle-doo-oo .'
then stooped down, and betook him-
self, with a hurried business walk,
to the other end of the yard, where
he stopped beside a squashed worm.
DEFENDED THE RIGHT 45
Every one could interpret his expres-
sion of opinion according to their per-
sonal taste : the mother was convinced
that he was setting their son an ex-
ample of thrift and good sense; the
son, that the patriarch's martial air and
cry were intended to spur him on to
prowess. Without any further question
Scarlet-Comb flew across the fence,
and made straight for the castle of
Pan Podliasski was riot alone. As
he had to send to several very dis-
tinguished neighbours invitations for
the next day's banquet, and as, like
most of his peers in those days, he
could not read or write, and considered
it humiliating to do anything for him-
self, he had sent for his chaplain, and
commissioned him to write the invita-
tions. The chaplain had finished
writing the letters, and it only remained
to stamp upon them, instead of a sig-
nature, the crest of the house of
PodliAsski. The magnate took off his
46 HOW SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
signet-ring, which he wore hung round
his neck by a gold chain, and handed
it to the:chaplain to be pressed upon
the wax. At -that moment there
appeared in the open window, from
which the magnate and his chaplain
were divided by a large table, an ugly
'Pan, give back the grindstone!' he
Reddening with anger, the magnate
raised his eyes to the insolent fowl,
and seizing a heavy silver candlestick,
flung it violently at him. All hap-
pened so quickly, that before Scarlet-
Comb had time to understand any-
thing, his wings had carried him from
the window and his quick little legs
from the garden.
When he came to his senses, Scarlet-
Comb was quite ashamed. 'Can it
be that I was frightened? it is
impossible !' he thought. But the
fact was plain; he had lost his head
and run away from the landlord.
"Seizing a heavy silver candlestick, the Magnate fung it violently
at the fowl." [PAGE 46.
DEFENDED THE RIGHT 47
'Well, and what of that ?' said the
cock, consoling himself; 'the import-
ant thing is not to stand like a log
while things are thrown at you that
may smash your head, but to get
And Scarlet-Comb once more made
his way to the castle.
Pan Podliisski was standing on the
front terrace among his retainers and
domestics, giving orders for to-morrow's
banquet, when he suddenly heard the
already familiar words:
Pan, give back the grindstone !'
Scarlet-Comb was standing perched
upon the nearest post, to which several
horses were tied.
The magnate became positively fran-
tic, clenched his fists, and shouted
to his servants to set all the hounds
upon the insolent bird. The cock,
terrified, rushed with all his might out
of the garden. On he ran, helping
himself along with his wings, and hear-
ing how one dog was gaining on him....
48 HOW SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
Now it was quite near snap I
and tore the very best feathers out of
the cock's tail. In his desperation
Scarlet-Comb made one last effort,
flew up as high as he could, and
perched on a tree by the wayside.
The dog stood underneath, barking
and whining, but, fortunately, the
hunting-horn blew, calling back the
scattered dogs, and his persecutor was
obliged to go to kennel.
Meanwhile a discussion was going
on in the yard between the servants
and noble retainers.
What a plucky little cock!' said
some; 'wasn't afraid to tell the Pan
himself the truth to his beard!'
'If I had him, I'd show him what
truth is-with white sauce,' said the
'Just think,' remarked another; 'if
a silly little chicken like that can see
that a Pan shouldn't take away a poor
man's things, it must be a bad business
DEFENDED THE RIGHT
'Yes, it's a mean trick,' muttered
one of the nobles, frowning.
Early next morning Pan Podlidsski's
guests began to arrive. Dear me,
how gorgeous they all were! Satin,
velvet, brocade, in the most brilliant
colours, simply dazzled your eyes on
their kountoushi, zioupdny (doublets),
and trunk hose. Their elegant caps
were bordered with valuable furs; both
lords and ladies were adorned with
ostrich feathers, pearls, gold, silver,
and precious stones. Magnificent
horses of all colours pranced under
their graceful riders, who surrounded
the clumsy but richly-decorated coaches
in which the fair ladies sat. Often,
on the way, the gallants would bend
towards them and exchange merry
jests. The innumerable apartments
of the castle were thrown open for
the crowd of guests.
For dinner all the visitors put on
other still more gorgeous dresses. A
gallant was placed at the right hand of
5o HOW SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
each lady. At the head of the table
sat the host, beaming with pleasure
The long dinner was almost ended.
The guests had feasted upon a wild
boar, which Pan Podliasski had killed
in the chase, and which the cook had
roasted whole and cunningly arranged
standing erect upon a silver dish.
The dessert was already finished; the
noble retainers in their gala dress had
carried round to the guests old mead
of the finest quality, and German and
Hungarian wines. The company was
lively and merry. A handsome young
nobleman stood up at the foot of the
table. He had lately returned from
France, where, at the king's court, he
had grown accustomed to refined
manners and courtly ways. Raising a
golden goblet of wine in his right
hand, and glancing round, he addressed
the company :
'It is not the gratitude of a guest
which persuades me to lift this goblet,
DEFENDED THE RIGHT 51
nor even the courtesy of a Pole. No;
I lift it in honour of our well-beloved
host, because by his virtues Pan Joseph
Podliisski is an ornament to the ranks
of the Polish nobility. Courageous
in. war, generous and hospitable in
time of peace, he is incapable of any
action unworthy of his noble standing.'
Every one listened to the orator
with evident pleasure. Pausing a
moment for breath he would have
continued, when suddenly an ugly
little cock appeared at one of the open
windows of the banqueting-hall, and
Pan, give back the peasant's grind-
The guests, startled and confused,
sat whispering to one another. The
young orator hesitated whether to con-
tinue his speech or not. The host
grew first white, then red, and turned
to his servants.
'Why do you stand staring?' he
cried. 'Do you suppose that is what
52 HOW SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
I maintain you for, that village fowls or
cattle should disturb the pleasure of
my guests ?'
Then, turning back, Pan Podliasski
tried to put on an airy manner.
'Excuse us, dear guests,' he said;
'the country is the country after all.
We are not in Cracow, where fowls
appear at noble banquets only on silver
dishes or in the soup. Still, one can
be as merry in the country as in
Cracow, and I hope we shall prove it
to be so.'
For all that, the magnate did not
really feel at all so merry as he tried
to appear; the guests, too, were no
longer quite at ease.
'What's that about a grindstone?'
many of them asked their neighbours;
and those who had already heard from
their servants about the persistent fowl
related the history of the grindstone in
a few words. A contemptuous expres-
sion appeared on many of the faces;
and those magnates who disliked Podli-
DEFENDED THE RIGHT 53
asski went so far as to remark that it
was unworthy of a great lord to soil
his hands for a miserable grindstone.
All this did not escape the eyes of
Pan Podliasski, and his blood boiled.
Seizing a favourable moment, he
beckoned to his most trustworthy serv-
ant, and, in a whisper, ordered him
to find the cock, alive or dead. For
that matter the servants had already
been hunting the whole court and
garden, but nothing came of it; the
cock had long ago made his escape;
and, hiding in the foliage of the highest
tree in the neighboring forest, waited
till the danger was over.
The guests left earlier than they
had intended. Pan Podliisski, stand-
ing on the great terrace to take leave
of them, tried to conceal his annoy-
ance under an affable manner. As
soon, however, as the last rider disap-
peared from sight, his face grew dark,
and he turned to the crowd of servants.
'Where is Doubinetzki ?' he asked.
54 HOW SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
Here I am, most illustrious Pan,'
replied a warrior with gray moustaches,
'Look here, my faithful Ignatius;
you have served me long and well;
do me one more good service. Shoot
that tiresome cock that gives me no
The honest face of the old noble-
man, seamed with the scars of war,
lighted up with an ironical smile, and
his daring eyes flashed.
'Probably the Pan Voevoda has
had too much to drink at dinner
that he gives me such commands,'
said he. How am I, Ignatius Doubi-
ndtzki, who have fought in fifty battles
against Tartars, Turks, and Swedes;
who last year, without assistance, drove
away a whole marauding band of Tar-
tars, and who in honourable combat
have cut off the head of Akhmet Khan
himself,-how I am now to go to war
against barn-door fowls? No; I am
a poor nobleman, and the Pan is a
DEFENDED THE RIGHT 55
great magnate; but our honour is the
same. Indeed, since it has come to
speaking truth, perhaps I have more
in the way of honour than the Pan;
with all my poverty I would have been
ashamed to covet a peasant's grind-
stone. And if you want a word of
honest advice from old Doubindtzki,
here it is: Leave that sort of thing
alone, Pan Voevoda; it's not an
For some minutes Pan Podlidsski
could not believe his ears. But at
the close of the old man's speech he
turned white with rage, drew his sword
from its sheath, and made a dash for-
ward at Doubindtzki.
'Seize him! bind him! cut the
rebel down!' he shrieked in frenzy.
But it had all happened so suddenly
that for a moment no one obeyed the
magnate, or could decide what to do;
all the more so as every one loved old
Doubinetzki, and knew what a glorious
fire-eater he was.
56 HOW SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
Old Ignatius, meanwhile, in his turn
unsheathed his sword, sprang on to
his horse, which stood ready saddled
beside the gate, and galloped away
unharmed. He was a free gentleman
and a first-rate warrior, and any mag-
nate would be glad to take him into
Utterly beside himself with fury, Pan
Podlidsski went into the castle, and
shut himself up in his bedchamber.
He paced up and down with long
strides, brooding over all that had
passed. The thought that a good-
for-nothing little fowl could embitter
his life made him frantic. He was
ready to instantly call up all his
retainers, and give them strict com-
mands to secure the cock, alive or
dead. But then he remembered the
whispering of his guests at dinner, the
furtive glances of his servants, and the
open rebellion of Doubinetzki. What
was the use of commanding? Would
he not be exposing himself to new
DEFENDED THE RIGHT 57
failures, to new humiliations? And
all this was the work of that cock !
Pan Podliasski felt as if he were
stifled in the room, and went out into the
garden. The barrels of pitch which
had illuminated it during the banquet
were almost burnt out; the pathwaysand
arbours were deserted. Pan Joseph
walked along several avenues, and then
lay down upon a bench.
'Pan, give back the grindstone !'
suddenly resounded over his head the
hated voice of Scarlet-Comb.
Pan Podliisski started up as if he
had been stung, drew the pistol from
his belt, and fired upwards at random
in the direction of the voice. Directly
afterwards he heard a piteous shriek-
from the cock, and a warm drop of
blood fell on to his hand.
'Ah! ah!' cried the magnate in
angry delight; now you will leave off
embittering my life, you loathsome
little brute !'
Satisfied and triumphant, he peered
58 HOW SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
about in the dark to find the cock;
but seeing nothing, lay down again
upon the bench, and soon fell asleep.
Before half an hour had passed, how-
ever, the magnate sprang to his feet
with a fearful cry, clasping his hands
over his left eye. He was conscious
of an intolerable pain, and something
wet and warm and sticky was trickling
down his face and hands. Dazed and
blind, the Voevoda rushed headlong
to the castle. Suddenly behind him
there rang out the well-known cry:
'Pan, give back the grindstone!
give back the peasant's grindstone!'
'Holy Virgin! The creature has
pecked out my eye,' thought the land-
owner in horror, and it was only then
he vaguely understood that he had
not killed, but merely wounded, his
Pan Podliisski did not confide to
any one the manner in which he had
lost his eye. He said that he had struck
against a branch in the dark. He
DEFENDED THE RIGHT 59
further declared that during his illness
every noise disturbed him, and on this
pretext he commanded all the windows
in the castle to be tightly fastened, and
placed sentinels at all the outer doors,
with orders not only to admit no one,
but even to let no one and nothing
approach, neither dog, cat, nor bird.
In reality the magnate was terribly
afraid that Scarlet-Comb would peck
out his right eye too.
The autumn set in. The stone
castle was damp, cold, empty, and
dreary. Its master, with a bandage
over his left eye, sat in the huge
dining hall, with its richly-carved oak
walls, and warmed himself at the great
open hearth where the embers lay
smouldering and the fire still flickered
in the remains of two logs. Suddenly,
from somewhere in the distance, he
heard a muffled but familiar cry:
'Pan, give back the grindstone!'
In an instant the Voevoda started
up as though he had been scalded,
60 HOW SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
and shrieked frantically for his serv-
'Search the castle and everywhere
round it instantly,' he ordered. 'There's
a cock somewhere that sets my teeth
on edge with his crowing.'
Fifty Cossack retainers of the mag-
nate, led by three nobles and about
forty servants under the leadership
of the steward, rushed to fulfil the
Pan's commands. But though they
ransacked all the rooms, corridors,
and doorways,-though they carefully
searched the garden and the court-
yard, they came back and reported to
their illustrious master that not the
slightest sign of any bird at all was
anywhere to be found. This was not
surprising; it did not occur to any-
body to climb up on to the roof; and
there, beside the chimney, sat Scarlet-
'It must have been my fancy,'
thought Pan PodliAsski, and sat down
again before the fire. But just at the
DEFENDED THE RIGHT 61
moment when he was half falling
asleep, there suddenly tumbled down
the chimney into the fireplace some-
thing small and black, which instantly
hopped out on to the floor with singed
feathers, and cried:
'Pan, give back the grindstone!'
The Voevoda shrank away from the
fowl in horror. Scarlet-Comb, taking
advantage of his stupefaction, ran
through the rdoms, and succeeded in
slipping past the sentinels and making
his way right to the village.
The magnate stood breathless.
'One's not safe from him anywhere,'
he thought; and a sense of dread fell
upon him. He clapped his trembling
hands, and ordered the servant who
came in to fetch the steward instantly.
'Give the peasant Kogoiltek his
grindstone back again at once,' said
Pan Podliasski, avoiding the steward's
eyes; and give him ten ducats for
The steward would have replied,
62 SCARLET-COMB THE COCK
but the Voevoda looked at him with
such an expression that the words died
on his lips.
That very day the grindstone was
returned to Stanislas Kogoiitek's yard.
Thereupon the little cock, Scarlet-
Comb, although badly scorched, with
blisters on both claws, with his tail-
feathers gone and his wing shot
through, jumped up on to the gate
and, proudly raising his little head,
shouted to all the world :
Cock-a-doodle-doo! the Pan has
given back the peasant's grindstone!'
THE TINY SCREW
THE TINY SCREW
N the watchmaker's bench,
which was covered with
white paper, so that all the
little things needed for his
trade should be easy to see, were
spread out various small pincers,
gimlets, screwdrivers, tiny hammers,
watchkeys, files, and other delicate
instruments. Under a glass case lay
watches and clocks taken to pieces.
There were some open boxes filled
with cog-wheels, and some watch-
glasses, in which lay some wee screws.
Among these was a very pretty one, of
blue, finely-tempered steel, but so tiny
that he could not be seen properly
66 THE TINY SCREW
without a magnifying-glass. He looked
round the workroom quite frightened
at all his new surroundings. Until
now he had lain in a dark, closed box
and hardly had ever seen the light;
now the watchmaker, Karl Ivanovich,
had taken him out of the box and laid
him in a watch-glass, evidently intend-
ing to use him. And now the little
blue mite peered round, wondering
Indeed, what wonder Round the
walls, in shallow cupboards with glass
doors, in flat cases with sloping glass
lids, on the large table, on the benches
-everywhere, hung or lay or stood
watches and clocks of all kinds and
sizes, and most of them were moving
and ticking like live things. The
cheap clocks with tin or china faces,
decorated with rather clumsily-painted
roses, wagged their pendulums hastily
backwards and forwards, as though
hurrying to work or to business. The
huge clocks in wooden and glass cases,
THE TINY SCREW 67
on the contrary, swung their pendu-
lums with a hardly perceptible motion,
as though they feared to compromise
their dignity by any haste. All sorts
of wonderful things were on the table.
There was a clock in the shape of a
great fallen tree-trunk, across which a
log was thrown, with boys sitting on
the ends of it, swinging in time to the
ticking of the clock. Another repre-
sented a gray hare squatting on his
haunches, holding the dial between his
forefeet and moving his ears in time as
the clock ticked. But our tiny Screw
was most impressed by a large clock,
standing at one corner of the shop in
a huge glass case. The clock itself
represented an Indian temple with a
dome, all carved in black wood.
Inside the temple was the dial, also
black, with gold letters; the hands
were gold snakes. Under the dial,
a little in front, sat a gray-haired
magician in a long robe and high cap,
holding in his right hand a silver
68 THE TINY SCREW
hammer. The old man, with his
grave expression of face, was so well
carved that he looked quite alive.
But the most wonderful thing of all
was that he never stopped slowly turn-
ing his eyes from side to side, keeping
time with the solemn, hardly audible
ticking of the clock; he seemed as if
watching to see that all was in order
in his kingdom of time. At his right
hand stood a shining silver bell on a
tall and slender pedestal; and at his
left a black cat was sitting on a cushion;
it had real fur, and its green eyes
glittered as if alive.
Our little Screw gazed intently at
the magician in his Indian temple, at
his cat and bell-he gazed upon them
with involuntary reverence and awe-
and finally decided that the enigmatic
old man must be the ruler of time,
and that all the clocks in the place
must be in his service. He was still
meditating upon this, when suddenly
the black clock began to hiss, the
THE TINY SCREW 69
magician raised his left hand with the
forefinger extended, as if commanding
attention, and began slowly striking
the silver bell with his hammer. He
struck it ten times, and every time the
cat opened its mouth and mewed at
each stroke of the hammer.
The moment the magician had fin-
ished, an indescribable confusion arose
in the shop: in three clocks, which
represented houses, windows opened;
from each window a cuckoo jumped
out and called 'cuckoo' ten times.
The other clocks, with the tin, china,
and copper dials, all began striking in
emulation of each other. Some struck
rapidly and with a thin sound, others
slowly and heavily; the first jarred
on the ear with their harsh notes,
while the others had a mellow ring;
but all struck at once, as though trying
to catch one another up. The brass
alarum, which stood on the table,
rattled long and mercilessly, as if it
were determined to silence all the
70 THE TINY SCREW
others with its deafening noise; then,
when the other clocks had finished
striking, it too struck ten. After that
all the clocks continued busily ticking,
just as if nothing had happened.
All this ringing, banging, and noise
made our Screw quite dizzy; the poor
little fellow lay in his watch-glass
trembling all over. But when he
recovered from his agitation, he was
overwhelmed with silent ecstasy. He
understood for what purpose clocks
exist. He knew that they show to
man the divisions of time, thus helping
him in both his intellectual work and
his ordinary life. Two men, however
far apart from one another, can, if
only they have good watches, come
at the same moment to a particular
S spot, or do whatever they may have
agreed upon-even the height of
mountains is determined by means of
watches. The little Screw understood
all this, and his wee frame thrilled all
over with enthusiasm. How useful
THE TINY SCREW 71
they all are!' he thought. This set
him involuntarily thinking of himself,
and he grew sad-sad even to tears.
How tiny he was! how insignificant
and pitiable compared with all these
clocks If you were to hang up even
the worst of them in a house where
there was before no clock at all, there
would at once be in that house more
order, more reason and utility. But
he wherever you were to put him, it
would make no difference.
Our Screw was very unhappy; he
tried so long to be of use to some one,
and he felt that he was fit for nothing!
Once more he looked attentively
round the bench. There were a great
number of little axles, wires, pendu-
lums, pinions, and springs. He did
not understand for what they could be
used, but he saw one thing that
every one of these little objects was
larger than himself. 'Oh dear!' he
thought, 'even if all these little things
are useless in themselves, still, some-
72 THE TINY SCREW
thing useful can be made out of them.
But what can be made of such a non-
entity as I am-I, who cannot even
be seen with the naked eye ? Nothing,
absolutely nothing I. .' And all the
tiny person of the Screw quivered with
At that moment there ran into the
workshop a little boy and girl, the
children of Karl Ivanovich. Their
father had gone to fetch his pipe; his
assistant, Yegdr,' had also left the
shop, and the children had a chance
to enjoy a peep at the wonders of
the workshop, into which Karl Ivwno-
vich generally would not let them
come. The boy ran up to his father's
bench and began quickly examining
the things lying upon it.
Look, look at the little Screw !' he
said to his sister in a loud whisper,
turning to take the blue steel Screw
'Don't touch Don't touch ; you'll
1 Yegdr means George in Russian.
THE TINY SCREW 73
drop it!' whispered the little girl, half
frightened, but also looking inquisi-
tively at our Screw.
'What next! Drop it!' repeated
the boy, mimicking her. 'We're not
all such butter-fingers as you !' and in
a fit of obstinacy he picked up the
Screw. But the Screw was so small
that the boy could scarcely hold him
with the tips of his fingers.
'Indeed, you'll drop it! Papa
will be cross!. continued the little
girl in the utmost anxiety.
Suddenly they heard the creaking
of Karl Ivinovich's boots in the next
room, and he blew his nose as loud as
if it were a trumpet. The boy started,
and dropped the Screw from his fingers
on to the floor.
'Aha! aha! There, you see! I
told you so !' whispered the girl again.
'Hush !' answered her brother, also
in a whisper, stooping down to look
for the Screw. But it was too late;
Karl IvAnovich came into the work-
74 THE TINY SCREW
shop, and in his presence the boy was
afraid to show what he had done.
Our Screw, meanwhile, lay on the
floor, and did not grieve over what
'It is all the same,' he thought,-' to
be crushed under somebody's foot, or
to go through a whole life such a
feeble and useless creature as I am !'
Just at that moment Karl Ivanovich
came into the workshop, puffing at his
pipe. He was a thorough German,
with a flat, red face, and an em-
broidered cap with a tassel. Although
he had lived in Russia for about thirty
years, and owed his good fortune to
Russian people, yet he had not learnt
Russian properly, and thought even
that it was a merit not to know it.
He was of the opinion that the
Russians were mere cattle; and when
he contrived to gain 50 per cent in
selling some watch to a Russian, this
was in his eyes one proof more how
right he was to think contemptu-
THE TINY SCREW 75
ously of the nation. He therefore
always spoke German in his domestic
'Kinder, fort / fort/' said Karl
Ivanovich sternly. But observing at
once from the frightened faces of the
children that something must be amiss,
he frowned still more severely, and
going up to the bench, began inspect-
ing it closely.
'What mischief have you been up
to here, eh ?' asked the watchmaker.
The children hung their heads in
Karl Ivanovich once more carefully
examined his bench, and suddenly his
attention was caught by the watch-
glass in which he had laid the wee blue
'Where's the Screw? Who has
taken the Screw ?' shouted Karl Ivan-
ovich at the top of his voice.
The little girl got frightened for her
brother and began to cry bitterly; the
boy remained silent.
76 THE TINY SCREW
'Well, are you going to speak or
not?' cried the watchmaker, still
'It's on the floor,' whispered the
',That was you dropped it, I'll be
bound !' said the watchmaker, shaking
his finger before his little son's face.
The boy still held his tongue, and
only hung his head lower and lower.
Oh, welch ein wilder Bube I' cried
Karl IvAnovich in a fury. 'Do you
understand what you've done ? It was
the only screw of that kind that I had
left, and the new order has got delayed
on the journey here. How am I to
mend the chronometer from the tele-
graph station now, eh ? '
'Papa, it was so tiny,' said the little
girl through her tears; she wanted to
say something in her brother's defence
and did not know what plea to put
'Oh, du dummes Ding I' cried the
angry watchmaker. Do you suppose
THE TINY SCREW 77
because the Screw is small it's of no
consequence? Why, can't you see
the value of it is just that it's so
small; nothing else will go into the
hole. Without it I can't screw the
pieces together in the chronometer,
and how long do you think it will go.
without being screwed? Can't you
understand that, you little goose?'
Ah with what joy our little Screw
listened to this speech as he lay on
the floor beside the bench. He was
not ill-natured, and felt very sorry for
the children when Karl IvAnovich
scolded them so; but how could the
little creature help rejoicing when his
dearest wish was thus suddenly ful-
filled ? He had been grieving because
he was so small, had been ashamed of
his weakness, and had believed himself
utterly useless. He had so longed to
be useful-even as useful as any lump
of metal that has not been made into
anything; but he had thought himself
incapable even of that. ... And now it
78 THE TINY SCREW
appeared that he, small as he was,
could be as useful as a first-rate chron-
ometer Yes, for without him, the
tiny Screw, the chronometer itself,
would not keep time properly.
The Screw was wild with joy; he
positively choked with delight !
Soon, however, his rapture was
changed into terrible anxiety. Karl
Ivinovich made the children look for
the lost Screw, called his assistant to
look too, and finally, straddling his
short legs apart, and leaning his red
hands on his knees, stooped down
himself with a magnifying-glass at his
eye, and began carefully inspecting the
floor. But all their searching was in
vain: the whole four of them looked,
crawled over the floor, felt about with
their hands quite close to the Screw,
and could not find him.
Oh dear thought the poor little
fellow, 'what if they don't find me
after all ? That would be terrible! '
It would indeed be terrible ; after
THE TINY SCREW
passing through such bitter moments,
to be at the very point of reaching the
utmost possible happiness, and then
after all to miss it and be crushed
under a dirty boot! He would have
cried out, 'Here I am! here!' but
did not know how to do that in
In his extremity the little Screw
looked up at the mighty magician who
ruled over all the clocks. As before,
the magician was gravely turning his
eyes from side to side, watching over
Oh great, good magician king of
time benefactor of men surely thou
wilt not let me perish here for no
cause, when I too might be of use?
Help me, oh help me, to be found!'
entreated our wee friend.
The magician glanced benevolently
down on. the poor little Screw, and
instantly raising his left hand to com-
mand attention, began striking on his
bell with the hammer he held in his
80 THE TINY SCREW
right; the cat at once began to
A ray of sunshine fell through the
window straight upon the magician.
When he raised and dropped his
hammer, the ray flashed on its smooth
surface and was reflected from it right
on to the Screw. The Screw glittered
like a spark of fire, and Karl Ivan-
ovich's little girl cried out joyfully,
'I've found it!'
Karl Ivinovich instantly picked up
his recovered treasure with a pair of
small pincers and laid him again in
the watch-glass. Then he sat down at
his bench and set to work at the tele-
graph chronometer. Presently came
the turn of our Screw; the watch-
maker picked him up again with the
pincers, placed him in a hole in one
part of the chronometer, and screwed
him tight with a delicate little screw-
On finishing his work Karl Ivdn-
ovich wound up the watch, held it to his
THE TINY SCREW
ear and listened. It was ticking away
merrily, and our Screw sat firmly in
his place and held the pieces together
as a conscientious screw should. Then
the watchmaker hung up the chron-
ometer in a glass case to be tested.
One morning, about a fortnight after-
wards, the outer door of Karl IvAn-
ovich's shop opened, and the director
of the telegraph station came in.
'Good morning, Karl IvAnovich,'
he said; 'what about my watch?'
'It's ready-quite ready.'
'And goes well ?'
'Goes perfectly. There was just
one screw wanting, and I've put it in.
That was the whole matter.'
The telegraph director opened the
inner lid of the watch and looked at
our Screw; then he shut the lid again
and put the chronometer into his waist-
coat pocket. It ticked bravely, and
the little blue steel Screw sat in
his hole, saying to himself joyfully:
'And I, too, am of use !'
HERE once lived a little boy
Called Basil. He had a
good mamma, who worked
hard to educate her child.
They lived alone: they had no rela-
tives, no servants. His mamma tried
never to leave Basil alone in the
evening; when she had some work to
carry to her employer she always tried
to do it in the daytime.
A friend once presented Basil's
mamma with a ticket for the theatre.
This took place in her absence. When
she returned home Basil met her with
great joy. 'Mamma dearest, Petr
86 THE DREAM
Petrbvich (Mr. Peter) has been here
and left a ticket for you. You shall
go to hear the opera to-night. You
like the opera, don't-you?
'But, my dear boy, what shall I do
with the ticket? I cannot go.'
'And why, mamma?'
'Why, I can't leave you all alone
at home; if we had two tickets we
could both go; but without you I
'No, no, you must go, mamma,'
'No, my darling, I can't leave you,'
said his mother, sighing; you would
be afraid, and something might happen
'You might ask Mrs. Lookina to
stay with me.'
Mrs. Lookina was their neighbour,
living on the same landing in the same
It is hard to be under an obliga-
tion to any one, my dear; the last
time when I had to take home some
THE DREAM 87
hurried work I asked Mrs. Lookina to
stay some time with you. I cannot do so
too often; she has work of her own.'
'Then I shall stay alone, and will
not be afraid,' answered Basil; 'and
if anything happens, I shall call Mrs.
Lookina; and if nothing happens, I
shall not call her.'
Basil's mother saw very well that
the boy wished her to go to the
theatre. She was much pleased; she
kissed him tenderly, but did not say
what she intended to do: But by the
glance she cast at the ticket, the way
she put it aside, the sigh which fol-
lowed, Basil understood all very well;
his mamma would very much like to
go to the opera, and it was hard for
her to deprive herself of so rare a
pleasure, which she could now have
for nothing; but yet she could not
decide to go. Basil was so disap-
pointed that tears were ready to fall.
Oh mamma! you often said that
we must help one another, and not
88 THE DREAM
find it difficult. You made a collar
for Mrs. Lookina. .And if you do
not go to the theatre I shall cry,' he
added, quite unexpectedly beginning
'Don't, dearest, don't cry,' said his
mother, taking her boy on her lap and
kissing him; but the child wept, re-
'Poor mamma, you never can go
to the theatre-you would so much
like to go; I know it.'
Well, well, I will go; only don't cry.'
Then his mamma went to Mrs.
Lookina and asked her to give Basil
some tea, put him to bed, and stay
with him until her return. When she
was dressed she kissed her boy and
Soon it was tea-time. Mrs. Lookina
never before had had to give Basil his
tea, and did not know that he took
very weak tea. She poured him out
some strong tea, and as the boy liked
it very much, he took more of it than
THE DREAM 89
usual. Basil well remembered what
his mamma said, and did not wish to
tire Mrs. Lookina, so he told her he
would undress himself and go to bed,
and she might lock the door from the
outside and go home.
'I shall not be afraid,' concluded
he; and if anything happens, I shall
knock like this.'
'But why, my boy? I can stay
with you,' answered the neighbour.
'No, no, you have some work at
home,' said Basil, and wrapping him-
self up in his quilt with decision, he
closed his eyes and said: 'There, I
am asleep already.'
'Very well, my boy,' said Mrs.
Lookina, smiling; 'but you must pro-
mise me to knock as soon as you need
Yes, yes; I shall knock this way,'
and kneeling up on his bed, Basil
showed how he would knock.
Mrs. Lookina left him. Basil heard
her leaving their lodging, taking the
go THE DREAM
candle with her; heard her locking
the door. And now Basil was alone.
All was quiet around. He opened his
eyes; all was dark. Basil felt uneasy,
to tell the truth, but he tried not to
think about it; he again closed his
eyes, and turned his back to the wall.
A long time he lay thus, and the
strong, tea he had taken kept him
awake. He began to rock himself
slightly in his bed and sing-
'Sleep, sleep, come to me.
Sleep, sleep, take me now.
Sleep, lull me into- sleep.'
Basil repeated these words several times,
and all at once" it seemed to him as if
the room were not as dark as before.
He opened his eyes wide, and was
lost in astonishment. The room was
full of pale light-something like
moonlight-and not far from his bed
Basil noticed a queer little being. It
was a tiny little old man, not more
than six inches high. He wore a
short jacket made of red corn-poppy
"Notfar from his bed Basil noticed a queer little being."