+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

about to collar the second Ischvostchik to
prevent his fleeing too; but he, good fellow,
wished to see me comfortably into Heyde's,
or was perhaps anxious about the fare, and
he remained. He was so anxious about this
fare that he demanded it at once with
passionate entreaties and gesticulations, crying
out, when I gave him to understand by signs
that he would be paid when I was inside,
"Nietts Geyde! Nietts Geyde! Sitchas!"
Why should he have objected to be paid by
Heyde, or at Heydes, or Geydes, as he called
it? Wearied at last with manual language,
I asked him how much he and his brother
Jehu thought themselves entitled to; whereupon
he held up such a handthe hand in a
baronet's scutcheon was nothing to it for
bigness, boldness, and beefinessand cried out
"Roubliy cerebram! Roubliy cerebram!"
counting one, two, three fingers; from which
I gathered that he wanted three roubles
nine and sixpencefor a twenty minutes'
drive. But I did not pay him; for, with the
exception of one English sixpence, one Irish
harp halfpenny, one Danish Rigsbank
schilling, and some very small beer in the way of
copecks and silbergroschen, I had no money.

I have been keeping the reader a most
unconscionable time at Heyde's Hotel door;
but I am certain that I was kept there
a most unconscionable time myself. The
Ischvostchik who didn't go to the Vodki
shop, and who had so great an objection to
being paid by Geyde, hung himselfthat is
about the wordnot for suicidal but for
tintinabulatory purposes, to a great bell that
projected from the door-jamb like a gibbet, or a
wholesale grocer's crane. He swung about,
tugging at this bell till I could hear it booming
through the house like a Chinese gong, but
nobody answered it. There was a great
balcony on the first floor, with a Marquise
verandah above it, and in this balcony a very
stout gentleman smoking a cigarette. I
shouted out an inquiry to him in French and
German, as to whether there was anybody in
the house, but he merely smiled, wagged his
fat head, and didn't answer me. He was either
very deaf or very rude. Nobody came, while
before me glared the great closed door of
Heyde's, which was painted a rich maroon
colour, and had a couple of great knob bell-
handles, like the trunnions of brass cannon.
Nobody came. It was now nearly six o'clock,
but the sun was blazing away with noontide
vigour, and seemingly caring no more than
any friend Captain Smith for any curfews
that might toll the knell of parting day. And
the infernal dust, with no visible motive
influence, came trooping down the street in
rolling caravans of brown, hot, stifling clouds.
And the Ischvostchik kept swinging at the
demoniac bell, which kept booming, and
nobody came; and I began to think of crying
aloud, this is not Petropolis or Petersburg of
Russia, but the city of Dis, and Francesca of,
Rimini passed by in that last cloud caravan,
and yonder bell-swinger is not an Ischvostchik,
but P. Virgilius Maro, inducting me,
Dante Alighieri, into the mysteries of the
Inferno. Would that I had Dante's stool to
sit uponto say nothing of the genius of that

A bearded party in a red shirt (his beard
was red too) eventually put in an appearance
through the tardy opening of the maroon-
coloured door. He exchanged a few compliments
or abusive epithetsthey may have
been one, they may have been the other
with the Ischvostchik; then, closing the door
again, he disappeared and left me to desolation.

How long we might have continued dwellers
at the threshold at Heyde's inhospitable door
is exceedingly uncertainperhaps till the
cows came home, perhaps till I went mad
but, just as I began to speculate on one or
other of those eventualities, it suddenly
occurred to my Ischvostchik to call out in a
tone of triumph, "Geyde na Dom," which I
conjectured to be a sort of Muscovite pæan
for Heyde being to the fore. And, following
out the discovery he had announced with
such Eureka-like elocution, the droschky-
driver did no more nor less than turn one of
the brass-cannon-trunnion-like door-handles
and walk me into Heyde's hall. It was the
old story of Mahomet and the Mountain.
Heyde would not come to us, so we were
obliged to go to Heyde'swhich, by the way,
we might perhaps have done a quarter of an
hour previously. But I never was the right
man in the right place yet, nor did the right
thing. The second or luggage Ischvostchik
he who had been so prompt in disappearing
into the Vodki-shop, and who had now
returned smelling very strongly of that abominable
blacksheep of the not-at-any-time over-
reputable Alcohol familyevidently thought
very little of my strength of purpose in
obtaining admittance into an hotel. He, with
a contemptuous leer on his face (which, round
and flat, and straightly touched for line and
feature, was not unlike the mystic dial that
crowns the more mystic columns in the inner
sheet of the Times newspaper), seemed to
taunt me with my inability to get into
Heyde's; to imply, moreover, that he knew
well enough how to effect an entrance,
because he hated me as an Anglisky, and hated
the other Ischvostchik, his brother, for being
his brother, simply.

The sun had been brightly glaring outside:
the hall of Heyde's was painted above and
on either side a cool green; and the transition
from the brazen desert outside to these
leafy shades was pleasant as unexpected. It
would have been much pleasanter, though,
had we found any one living soul to welcome
us; but nobody came.

At the extremity of the hall there
commenced a very dark stone staircase, beneath
which there was a recess, most uncomfortably
like a grave, with a bed in it. My eyes had
been very much tried by the glare without