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A Story of Russia

There once lived in St. Petersburg an aged man, who, though poor, had always been noted for strict honor and integrity, and whose whole course of life was as regular as clock work. Each morning he left his modest dwelling at precisely the same hour, passed through the old clothes market to his bureau, and, after six hours’ labor was accomplished, returned home by the self-same route. His garments were shabby from long service, and the covering on his cap was worn to shreds. The urgent solicitations of his daughters finally induced him to replace the latter article; and seeing some of a green color one day in a shop window, he went in and inquired the price. The shopman, however, refused to sell them, on the plea that they were already bespoken, and offered to show him others of a different hue; but the old man had set his heart on green.

“Well, then,” said the man, “if you must absolutely have it, take it, and if needs must I can finish another by tomorrow to take its place.”

The bargain was accordingly concluded, and the next day no small excitement was created by the appearance of the cap, which elicited from his colleagues smiling congratulations upon his successful purchase.

Two days afterward, the heat being intense in the bureau, he felt in his pocket for his handkerchief, in order to wipe the perspiration from his face, and he drew forth, to his great astonishment, one of fine India foulard silk. He showed it to his colleagues, and inquired if he had not by mistake appropriated another person’s property; but one and all disclaimed all knowledge of it, and agreed unanimously that it must be a surprise from one of his daughters.

“Children,” said he, upon his return to his house, “who has done this? Do you wish to make me vain in my old age?”

His daughters also declared their… Read More