Arkady Averchenko: Expert in the heart of a female

She was thinking and then decisively turned her face bathed in tears towards Maks.

“Tell me, is Mastakov a good match for my Lida or not?”

“Mastakov? Of course not.”

“You see, I tell her the same thing. But she doesn’t want to listen. She’s completely in love with him. I was even sinful in trying to slander him and expose all his bad sides, but its no use.”

“You know…it all depends on which sides you expose…What did you tell her?”

“Don’t you worry – I said all the bad things: that he’s a gambler, a spendthrift, and that women chase after him, and he himself is susceptible to their charms… I painted it so well that another women would never have a look at him ever again.”

“Mother! Excuse me for calling you mother, but are you insane? You have to be delusional to say something like that!! Do you know that, because of all that slander, and all those defects, you have made her love him even more?! Mother! Excuse me for calling you that, but you were wrong.”

“But I thought it would make things better.”

“Mother! You have made it worse. You have ruined the whole thing. Is that really a way to slander someone? Big deal – a spendthrift, a gambler…Why, it is beautiful! It has charm. Hermann in ‘The Queen of Spades’ was a gambler, but see how much charisma he had… And his relationships with women…Now your Lida is proud of that lousy Mastakov: ‘What a ladies man! No one can resist him, and I have him!’ I can’t believe you! You have to slander, discredit, and degrade in a smart way… If I was to do it, no one would want to look at him again…”

“Maks…darling, talk to her.”

“I will. After all I am a family friend? Yes. That means my responsibility is to take care of it. We will have a talk, where is she now?”

“She’s in her room. I think she’s writing him a letter.”

“To hell with the letter! It will never be sent! Mother! Excuse me for calling you mother, but when we’re done there will be nothing left of Mastakov.”

“Hello, Lidia Vasilevna! Writing a letter are you? That’s a good thing. I just came in to talk. Have you seen my friend Mastakov lately?”

“I didn’t know you were friends.”

“We? We are thick as thieves. I love him more than anything in this world.”

“Is that right?”

“How else? Such a great man. A crystal personality.”

“Thank you, dear Maks. Everybody else criticizes him…Mother, and…everybody. This is so hard for me.”

“Lidochka! My dear child…Excuse me, for calling you that, but…don’t believe anyone! Everything they say about Mastakov is not true! Desperate, stinking lies. I know Mastakov like no one else! A rare individual! A soul amazingly pure!”

“Thank you…I will never…forget…”

“There now! It’s nothing. What shocks me the most is when they say ‘Mastakov is a spendthrift! Mastakov throws away money!’ Mastakov is a spendthrift? When he, before hiring a hackney driver, bargains with him for half an hour! Drives him mad. The driver has steam coming off him, the horse has steam, and the hackney also. And they say he’s a spendthrift! He would turn away three times and come back again, only for a ten-kopeck coin. I love him more than a brother. A wonderful person. Wonderful!”

“I didn’t think he was like that…so economical.”

Translated by Maria Aprelenko, RT

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