Georgy Chulkov: Shurochka and Venya


On the corner of Saint Michel Boulevard and Rue Monsieur le Prince – in a cramped and dusty shop where they sell nails, wire and other house wares – stood Venya Pavlushin holding a tin pot in his hand.
“Fete, le trou, mosie, ici ici,” Venya told the craftsman, pointing to the bottom of the pot he had purchased.
Venya spoke very poor French, but that did not make him even a bit embarrassed. The owner of the shop – a fat, red-lipped, and, as it appeared, funny man – looked at Venya puzzled, “Make a hole in the pot…Why?” But Venya said it over and over again: 
“Fete, le trou, mosie, ici ici.”
Venya took out from his pocket a small brush made from multicolored feathers and put it against the pot. If you make a hole and stick the brush into it, then the pot would resemble a feathery helmet. Assyrian warriors wore such helmets. Venya put the pot on his head. His serious and anxious face together with this sudden gesture greatly amused the honorable shop owner and two female customers.
Everything was now clear. Artists have organized a ball today in Montmarte and the young foreigner is preparing himself a costume. Excellent. It is not a lot of trouble to pierce a hole in the pot and attach the feather. Indeed, the helmet would turn out splendid.
Venya was a painter. He came to Paris one year ago, only to stay for two weeks at first, but accidentally overstayed. He was eking it out, residing on the Boulevard du Montparnasse and zealously painting apples and bananas, imitating Cézanne. One day he will paint a great monumental work of art. Venya firmly believed in that. And who knows, maybe the contemporaries will appreciate him. He will be assigned to decorate the walls of public buildings, and he, Venya, will cover numerous square meters with magnificent frescos. What a celebration of art would that be! But the journey of an artist is a thorny one. Sometimes Venya is short of two or three francs; there is nothing he could do about that. But can such nonsense really disturb an artist? Besides, Venya is keen on theosophy, and this teaching, as we know, requires spiritual strength from its follower, as well as purity in the times of all kinds of worldly ordeals.

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