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One day advocate Sergei came across a beggar. He was dressed in very poor clothes. He was crying and requested Sergei to have pity on him. Ile told Sergei that he had the offer of a position in Kaluga, but he did not have money to get there. So he wanted some money to pay for the fare. Sergei looked at the beggar closely. Suddenly he remembered that he had seen him the previous day in Sadovya Street. Then he had told him that he was a student and had been expelled for not paying his fees. At first, the beggar denied the charge. But when Sergei rebuked him, he admitted that he earned his living by lying. He told Sergei that his name was Lushkoff and that he was out of work. Sergei refused to give him alms. But he said that he would give him work of chopping wood. He brought Lushkoff home. He called his maidservant Olga and told her to take him into the woodshed and get some wood chopped. Sergei could see from a room that Lushkoff was weak as well as unwilling to do the chopping work. However, after one hour, Olga came and told Sergei that the wood had been chopped. Sergei gave Lushkoff half a rouble.
After getting wood chopped, Sergei was happy that he had helped a man. He had reformed a beggar. He told Lushkoff that he could come on the first of every month and chop wood for money. Thus Lushkoff came on the first of every month. Although he was so weak that he could hardly stand on his legs, yet there was always work for him and he did it. Sometimes, it was chopping of wood. At other times, he had to shovel snow, or to put the woodshed in order. Sometimes, he was asked to beat the dust out of mattresses and rugs. Every time he received from twenty to forty copecks. One day Sergei moved to another house. He hired Lushkoff to help in packing and hauling of furniture. This time, he was silent and sober. After the work was done, Sergei offered to find better work for him. Ile wrote a letter to one of his friends. He gave this letter to Lushkoff and told him that he would find the job of copying the written matter. In this way, Sergei helped Lushkoff. He was pleased at having put a man on the right path.
After that Sergei did not come across Lushkoff for two years. Then one day, he came across Lushkoff standing at the ticket window of a theatre, paying for a scat. He was wearing a coat collar of curly fur and sealskin cap. Sergei recognised him. Lushkoff told him that now he was a notary and was paid thiry five roubles a month Sergei was pleased to hear this. He congratulated Lushkoff for standing on own feet in life. At this, Lushkoff disclosed something to him. He said that it was not because of him, but his maidservant because at he had reformed himself. When he used to come to his house to chop wood, he could not do so because he was weak and inexperienced Then Olga would take pity on him and chop the wood for him. He told Sergei that he never chopped a single stick. It was all done by Olga. Her kindness transformed him. He stopped drinking and started earning his living by work. In this way, Olga’s kindness had changed his life.
One day a beggar came to Sergei, an advocate, and asked for help. The beggar had worn a fawn-coloured tattered overcoat and had dull, drunken eyes with the red spot on either cheek. He told Sergei that he had been a village schoolteacher for eight years but had lost his job because of scheming and lies. He added that he now had an offer of a position in the province of Kaluga but no money to get there. He said he was ashamed to beg but circumstances compelled him to.
Sergei looked carefully at the beggar and recalled that he had seen him earlier in Sadovya Street. At that time he had claimed to be a student who had been expelled. Sergei confronted the beggar but the latter denied having met him. This angered the advocate and he reprimanded the beggar for telling a shameless lie. He threatened to call the police and have him arrested for trying to cheat people.
The beggar first refused to accept the accusation but soon admitted that he had been telling lies so that people would take pity on him. In fact, he used to sing in a Russian choir and was sent away for his drunkenness. Speaking the truth would not get him anything and he didn’t know what else to do.
Sergei told him that he must work and earn his living. The beggar pleaded that he was willing to work but did not know where to find it.
Sergei advised him to chop wood for him. The beggar agreed reluctantly, saying that those days even skilled wood-cutters found themselves sitting without food.
An assertive Sergei took the beggar to his cook Olga and asked her to take him into the shed and let him chop wood. Trapped by his own words, the beggar followed Olga half-heartedly. In fact, his health had been severely affected due to excessive intake of vodka and he did not at all feel like working hard.
After leaving the beggar with Olga, Sergei hurried into the dining-room. From the window, he saw that the cook led the beggar to the woodshed and shoved him with her elbow before unlocking the door. Banging the door angrily, she flung down an axe at his feet and seemed to be scolding him. The beggar made failed attempts to cut the wood and blew at his freezing hands. When Sergei saw this, he felt sorry to have set such a tough task for an unfit drunkard.
After an hour, Olga came in and told Sergei that the wood had all been chopped. A pleased Sergei asked her to give the beggar half a rouble and tell him to return on the first day of each month to cut the wood. The beggar returned on the said day and again earned half a rouble. That day onwards, he would often come and do odd jobs like shovelling snow, putting the wood-shed in order or beating the dust out of rugs and mattresses. Every time he would earn twenty to forty copecks and once even got a pair of old trousers. When Sergei shifted house, the beggar was hired to help in packing and hauling of furniture. On that day, he was sober, gloomy, and silent. He hardly did anything and simply walked behind the wagons, hanging his head. He shivered in cold and suffered embarrassment when other carters mocked at him.
However, a happy Sergei sent for him and told him that he was pleased to see the positive change in him. He gave him a rouble as wages for his work and asked him his name. The beggar was Lushkoff.
Sergei asked Lushkoff if he knew how to write. On getting a positive response, Sergei gave him a letter addressed to his friend who would give some copying work. Sergei was very happy at having brought back a wayward to the right path. As a gesture of kindness, he tapped Lushkoff on the shoulder and shook hands too. After that day Lushkoff never returned to ask for work.
Two years passed. One evening, Sergei noticed a well-dressed man beside him at the ticket window of a theatre. He was buying a ticket in the gallery and paid for it in copper coins. On a closer look, Sergei recognised that the man was Lushkoff. Delighted, Sergei inquired him about his well-being. Lushkoff told that now he was a notary and was paid thirty-five roubles a month as wages.
Sergei told Lushkoff that he was very happy because he had been able to push an ashtray on the right path. Lushkoff acknowledged Sergei’s ‘roasting’ and thanked him for pulling him out of a sinking pit. However, he said that the true credit for changing him went to Olga, the cook. A visibly surprised Sergei asked how this had come to be. Lushkoff then revealed that he had never chopped a single piece of wood. It was Olga who would chop it for him. All the while she would scold him and tell him that he would go to hell as there was no hope for him. She would also weep while astonishing him. Lushkoff told Sergei that he could not explain how the change came to him but he can never forget Olga’s help. She set him right through her support and compassion.
Lushkoff then took leave and departed.
This is a story about a beggar, Lushkoff who used to beg as a school teacher ora student. He met an advocate named Sergei who offered him a job at his house. Sergei asked Lushkoff to chop woods for him. He asked his servant, Olga, to look after him. Lushkoff was very weak. He could not do any work. Olga found him incapable of chopping the wood. She rebuked him but she was very sympathetic to him. She wept for him. Olga decided to help him. She worked in his place and informed Sergei that he had done his work. She made him get half a rouble. Sergei asked Lushkoff to come to work on the first of every month. Lushkoff was always rebuked by Olga for his inefficiency. But it was Olga only who helped him in his work. Once Sergei asked Lushkoff to help in the shifting of the house, he looked weak and unhealthy. Sergei thought that he should not put him to hard work and decided to send him to his friends for an easier job. Lushkoff got a more respectable job. After two years, Sergei met Lushkoff in a theatre. He was well-dressed and look healthier. He had become a notary and was earning thirty-five roubles a month. Sergei felt good. Lushkoff thanked Sergei for his kind words and deed. He disclosed that it was Olga who helped and set him right. He would never forget her. Olga’s words and actions had brought a change in him. She made him quit drinking. Lushkoff expressed his gratitude towards Sergei and Olga. He bade him goodbye and departed for work.