Story of a Shoemaker and his Servant Prituitshkin
There lived in a certain kingdom a renowned Prince, Mistafor Skurlatovich, who had a servant named Goria, the son of Krutshinin. And Mistafor gave him a skilful master to teach him the art of shoemaking that he should become the best and most skilful of all workmen in that craft. Goria went on learning for several years, and became so clever that he made shoes even better than his master. Then Mistafor Skurlatovich took him into his house and ordered him to make some shoes; so he set to work and made twenty dozen pairs, but not a single pair of them satisfied Mistafor Skurlatovich. So he beat him unmercifully till the shoemaker, Goria Krutshinin, was half dead, and lay sick for ten long weeks.
As soon as Goria began to recover, Mistafor Skurlatovich ordered him to make some more shoes. And when Goria had finished several pairs he took them to his master to try on; but not a single pair pleased him. Then Skurlatovich flung the shoes at his head, and beat him until his face was covered with blood. Goria Krutshinin, who had one poor copper altine in his pocket, went to spend it in a public-house by the road-side, and, as he sat down, he said to himself: “I wish the devil would free me from this master of mine!”
Suddenly a stranger stood before him, and said: “Why are you in such a passion, my good lad?”
“How can I help it?” replied Goria, the shoemaker; “my master is as cruel as a mad dog; you see how he has dressed me down, and ten weeks ago he beat me even still more than now.”
“Why does he beat you so?” said the stranger. And Goria replied: “I have learnt the art of shoemaking better than my teacher, and I make shoes for my master, but though I work for him all I can, do what I will, I never can please him; and instead of thanking me, he beats me as you see.”
Then the stranger said: “I know your master well enough; you must be freed from his cruelty; and, if you like, I will marry Mistafor’s daughter to you instead of to the Prince to whom she is betrothed.”
“Are you mad?