A Work of Art
Sasha Smirnov, the only son of his mother, holding under his arm, something wrapped up in No. 223 of the Financial News, assumed a sentimental expression, and went into Dr. Koshelkovs consultingroom.
Ah, dear lad! was how the doctor greeted him. Well! how are we feeling? What good news have you for me?
Sasha blinked, laid his hand on his heart and said in an agitated voice: Mamma sends her greetings to you, Ivan Nikolaevitch, and told me to thank you. I am the only son of my mother and you have saved my life you have brought me through a dangerous illness and we do not know how to thank you.
Nonsense, lad! said the doctor, highly delighted. I only did what anyone else would have done in my place.
I am the only son of my mother we are poor people and cannot of course repay you, and. we are quite ashamed, doctor, although, however, mamma and I the only son of my mother, earnestly beg you to accept in token of our gratitude this object, which An object of great value, an antique bronze. A rare work of art.
You shouldnt! said the doctor, frowning. Whats this for!
No, please do not refuse, Sasha went on muttering as he unpacked the parcel. You will wound mamma and me by refusing. Its a fine thing an antique bronze. It was left us by my deceased father and we have kept it as a precious souvenir. My father used to buy antique bronzes and sell them to connoisseurs Mamma and I keep on the business now.
Sasha undid the object and put it solemnly on the table. It was a not very tall candelabra of old bronze and artistic workmanship. It consisted of a group: on the pedestal stood two female figures in the costume of Eve and in attitudes for the description of which I have neither the courage nor the fitting temperament. The figures were smiling coquettishly and altogether looked as though, had it not been for the necessity of supporting the candlestick, they would have skipped off the pedestal and have indulged in an orgy such as is improper for the reader even to imagine.
Looking at the present, the doctor slowly scratched behind his ear, cleared his throat and blew his nose irresolutely.
Yes, it certainly is a fine thing, he muttered, but how shall I express it? its hm its not quite for family reading. Its not simply decolleté but beyond anything, dash it all.
How do you mean?
The serpent-tempter himself could not have invented anything worse. Why, to put such a phantasmagoria on the table would be defiling the whole flat.
What a strange way of looking at art, doctor! said Sasha, offended. Why, it is an artistic thing, look at it! There is so much beauty and elegance that it fills ones soul with a feeling of reverence and brings a lump into ones throat! When one sees anything so beautiful one forgets everything earthly. Only look, how much movement, what an atmosphere, what expression!
I understand all that very well, my dear boy, the doctor interposed, but you know I am a family man, my children run in here, ladies come in.
Of course if you look at it from the point of view of the crowd, said Sasha, then this exquisitely artistic work may appear in a certain light. But, doctor, rise superior to the crowd, especially as you will wound mamma and me by refusing it. I am the only son of my mother, you have saved my life. We are giving you the thing most precious to us and and I only regret that I have not the pair to present to you.
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