A.P. Chekhov - The Album
KRATEROV, the titular councillor, as thin and slender as the
Admiralty spire, stepped forward and, addressing Zhmyhov, said:
"Your Excellency! Moved and touched to the bottom of our hearts
by the way you have ruled us during long years, and by your
fatherly care. . . ."
"During the course of more than ten years. . ." Zakusin
"During the course of more than ten years, we, your
subordinates, on this so memorable for us . . . er . . . day,
beg your Excellency to accept in token of our respect and
profound gratitude this album with our portraits in it, and
express our hope that for the duration of your distinguished
life, that for long, long years to come, to your dying day you
may not abandon us. . . ."
"With your fatherly guidance in the path of justice and
progress. . ." added Zakusin, wiping from his brow the
perspiration that had suddenly appeared on it; he was evidently
longing to speak, and in all probability had a speech ready.
"And," he wound up, "may your standard fly for long, long years
in the career of genius, industry, and social
A tear trickled down the wrinkled left cheek of Zhmyhov.
"Gentlemen!" he said in a shaking voice, "I did not expect, I
had no idea that you were going to celebrate my modest jubilee.
. . . I am touched indeed . . . very much so. . . . I shall not
forget this moment to my dying day, and believe me . . . believe
me, friends, that no one is so desirous of your welfare as I am
. . . and if there has been anything . . . it was for your
Zhmyhov, the actual civil councillor, kissed the titular
councillor Kraterov, who had not expected such an honour, and
turned pale with delight. Then the chief made a gesture that
signified that he could not speak for emotion, and shed tears as
though an expensive album had not been presented to him, but on
the contrary, taken from him. . . . Then when he had a little
recovered and said a few more words full of feeling and given
everyone his hand to shake, he went downstairs amid loud and
joyful cheers, got into his carriage and drove off, followed by
their blessings. As he sat in his carriage he was aware of a
flood of joyous feelings such as he had never known before, and
once more he shed tears.
At home new delights awaited him. There his family, his friends,
and acquaintances had prepared him such an ovation that it
seemed to him that he really had been of very great service to
his country, and that if he had never existed his country would
perhaps have been in a very bad way. The jubilee dinner was made
up of toasts, speeches, and tears. In short, Zhmyhov had never
expected that his merits would be so warmly appreciated.
"Gentlemen!" he said before the dessert, "two hours ago I was
recompensed for all the sufferings a man has to undergo who is
the servant, so to say, not of routine, not of the letter, but
of duty! Through the whole duration of my service I have
constantly adhered to the principle;-- the public does not exist
for us, but we for the public, and to-day I received the highest
reward! My subordinates presented me with an album . . . see! I
Festive faces bent over the album and began examining it.
"It's a pretty album," said Zhmyhov's daughter Olya, "it must
have cost fifty roubles, I do believe. Oh, it's charming! You
must give me the album, papa, do you hear? I'll take care of it,
it's so pretty."
After dinner Olya carried off the album to her room and shut it
up in her table drawer. Next day she took the clerks out of it,
flung them on the floor, and put her school friends in their
place. The government uniforms made way for white pelerines.
Kolya, his Excellency's little son, picked up the clerks and
painted their clothes red. Those who had no moustaches he
presented with green moustaches and added brown beards to the
beardless. When there was nothing left to paint he cut the
little men out of the card-board, pricked their eyes with a pin,
and began playing soldiers with them. After cutting out the
titular councillor Kraterov, he fixed him on a match-box and
carried him in that state to his father's study.
"Papa, a monument, look!"
Zhmyhov burst out laughing, lurched forward, and, looking
tenderly at the child, gave him a warm kiss on the cheek.
"There, you rogue, go and show mamma; let mamma look too."
titular councillor: Class 9 in the Civil Service scale
actual civil councillor: Class 4 on the scale, addressed by