“Pavel Vasilich, a certain lady is asking for you,” reported Luke, his butler. “She has been waiting for nearly an hour.”
Pavel Vasilich had just finished his breakfast. When he heard about the lady, he wrinkled his nose as he said, “Tell her to go to hell. Tell her that I am busy right now.”
“Pavel Vasilich, this is the fifth time she has come to see you already. She says that it is very important for her to see you. She is on the verge of bursting into tears.”
“Fine. Invite her into my office.”
Pavel Vasilich put on his jacket, slowly took a pen in one hand and a book in the other hand, and, pretending to be very busy, entered his office.
His visitor was already there, waiting for him. She was a big, chubby lady with a fleshy face, wearing glasses, dressed more than decency required. She had a sophisticated hat, the top of which was a gray bird with a design of four ribbons around it. As soon as she saw the master of the house, she clasped her hands together as if in prayer and lifted her eyes to the ceiling.
“Certainly, you do not remember me,” she started in a deep, male-sounding tenor voice, obviously showing her excitement. “I had the pleasure of meeting you at the Krutsky party. My name is Mrs. Grasshopper.”
“Oh, I remember. Well, please take a seat. What can I do for you?”
“You see um I well,” the lady muttered as she tried to continue. “I am Mrs. Grasshopper. I am a great admirer of your talent, and I always read your articles with great pleasure. Do not think that I am flattering. God forbid! I am just saying what you deserve. I always read your work, always. I too am an author. Actually, I do not dare call myself a female writer, but I have a little drop of honey in the general beehive of literature, so to speak. I have published, at different times, three stories for children. I have also done a lot of translating, and my brother worked at the Business Review Newspaper.”
“So what is it exactly that I can do for you today?”
“You see,” Mrs. Grasshopper lowered her glance and blushed as she began, “I know your talent, and I know your views, but I would like your opinion, or, to be exact, your advice. As you know, pardon my French, I have an outline in the form of a theatrical drama, and before submitting it officially, I would like your opinion.”
Mrs. Grasshopper, with an expression of a bird caught in a net, rummaged nervously in the folds of her dress and pulled out a thick notebook.
Now, Pavel Vasilich loved only his own writing. Pieces written by others, which he had to listen to often, reminded him of a cannon being aimed at his head. On seeing the notebook, he became fearful and hastily said, “Please leave it here. I will read it later.”
“Pavel Vasilich,” Mrs. Grasshopper said dramatically, standing up and again folding her hands, as if in prayer, “I know you are busy. I know that every minute counts for you, and I know that you, in the depths of your soul, are sending me to hell, but please be so kind and let me read my drama to you now. Please,” she implored.
“It was a pleasure to meet you.” Pavel Vasilich now felt bewildered. “But my dear lady, I am very busy at the moment. I have somewhere to go.”
“Pavel Vasilich.” The lady groaned as her eyes filled with tears. “I must insist. I know I am an impudent, saucy, impertinent, cheeky creature, but please, please help me! Tomorrow I am going to the remote town of Kazan, and before I go I would like to know your opinion. Just give me half an hour of your time, just one half hour, I implore you!”
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