Yama (the Pit) by Alexander Kuprin

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Kuprin – Yama (the Pit) – Contents

< < < Chapter IV
Chapter VI > > >

Part II

Chapter V

With the arrival of Horizon (however, God knows how he was called: Gogolevich, Gidalevich, Okunev, Rosmitalsky), in a word, with the arrival of this man everything changed on Yamskaya Street. Enormous shufflings commenced. From Treppel girls were transferred to Anna Markovna, from Anna Markovna into a rouble establishment, and from the rouble establishment into a half-rouble one. There were no promotions: only demotions. At each change of place Horizon earned from five to a hundred roubles. Verily, he was possessed of an energy equal, approximately, to the waterfall of Imatra! Sitting in the daytime at Anna Markovna’s, he was saying, squinting from the smoke of the cigarette, and swinging one leg crossed over the other:

“The question is … What do you need this same Sonka for? It’s no place for her in a decent establishment. If we’ll float her down the stream, then you’ll make a hundred roubles for yourself, I twenty-five for myself. Tell me frankly, she isn’t in demand, is she, now?”

“Ah, Mr. Shatzky! You can always talk a person over! But just imagine, I’m sorry for her. Such a nice girl …”

Horizon pondered for a moment. He was seeking an appropriate citation and suddenly let out:

“‘Give the falling a shove!'[11] And I’m convinced, Madam Shaibes, that there’s no demand of any sort for her.”

[11] Horizon is quoting a Nietzscheism of Gorky’s.—TRANS.

Isaiah Savvich, a little, sickly, touchy old man, but in moments of need very determined, supported Horizon:

“And that’s very simple. There is really no demand of any sort for her. Think it over for yourself, Annechka; her outfit costs fifty roubles, Mr. Shatzky will receive twenty-five roubles, fifty roubles will be left for you and me. And, glory be to God, we have done with her! At least, she won’t be compromising our establishment.”

In such a way Sonka the Rudder, avoiding a rouble establishment, was transferred into a half-rouble one, where all kinds of riff-raff made sport of the girls at their own sweet will, whole nights through. There tremendous health and great nervous force were requisite. Sonka once began shivering from terror, in the night, when Thekla, a mountain of a woman of some two hundred pounds, jumped out into the yard to fulfill a need of nature, and cried out to the housekeeper who was passing by her:

“Housekeeper, dear! Listen—the thirty-sixth man! … Don’t forget!”

Fortunately, Sonka was not disturbed much; even in this establishment she was too homely. No one paid any attention to her splendid eyes, and they took her only in those instances when there was no other at hand. The pharmacist sought her out and came every evening to her. But cowardice, or a special Hebrew fastidiousness, or, perhaps, even physical aversion, would not permit him to take the girl and carry her away with him from the house. He would sit whole nights through near her, and, as of yore, patiently waited until she would return from a chance guest; created scenes of jealousy for her and yet loved her still, and, sticking in the daytime behind the counter in his drug store and rolling some stinking pills or other, ceaselessly thought of her and yearned.

< < < Chapter IV
Chapter VI > > >

Russian LiteratureChildren BooksRussian PoetryAlexander Kuprin – Yama (the Pit) – Contents

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