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The building also houses an emboridery shop and another bakery worked by four men who make white bread. Give me biscuits! The narrator says that she has "a thick, long braid of chestnut hair, falling across her shoulder. Before she leaves, they always warn her not to let the boss catch her with the biscuits. Although the men speak coarsely about other women—as men are wont to do in their own company—they never speak ill of Tanya. She is very beautiful. She is the morning sun that brightens their day. We had nobody better than she, and none, except her, paid any attention to us, the dwellers of the cellar.
The men make sure she gets her biscuits every morning. And, occasionally, they perform other chores for her, such as chopping wood. One day, one man asks her to mend a shirt for him. However, they continue to love her, for there is no one else to love.
From time to time, someone asks why they revere the girl. The others rebuke him for his question. In the other bakery in the house, four men make white bread. They consider themselves superior to the twenty-six biscuit men and laugh at them when they encounter them in the yard. The biscuit men avoid these rivals under orders from the proprietor, who is afraid the biscuit-makers will steal loaves of bread.
The bakers of white bread are far better off than the biscuit men. The white-bread men receive more pay and better meals, and they work in a cleaner, more spacious shop conducive to good health.
What is more, their work is easier. On holidays, they visit the city park in their presentable clothes and sturdy boots.
Twenty-Six and One and Other Stories. From Wikisource . Categories: Collections of short stories · Russian short stories. Whilst browsing through the kindle popular classics store I was pleasantly surprised to come across some of Maxim Gorky's works. So in this book we have three.
But because the biscuit men wear rags and old shoes with gaping fissures, the police refuse them entrance to the park. One day, the proprietor fires a white-bread man for heavy drinking and hires a handsome soldier with a curled mustache, a satin vest, an embroidered waistcoat, and a watch dangling from a gold chain. Shortly thereafter, the soldier visits the biscuit cellar and questions the men about the proprietor.
They tell him how villainous the man is. When he asks how many girls are in the building, they tell him nine. He then asks whether they take advantage of the girls.
The soldier then holds himself up as an ideal specimen: strong, handsome, impeccably dressed. He says women fawn over him. Sitting on a flour sack, he tells them stories about how he handles women. After he leaves, the men all agree that the soldier is a fine, friendly fellow who no doubt will attract the embroidery girls. Until then, the men had always admired the embroidery ladies. And what of Tanya? The men all have varying opinions about how she is responding to the soldier. They agree to stay alert about the situation and to warn Tanya to be wary of him.
In the next month, the men often see the soldier with the embroidery girls. When the soldier visits the men now and then, he never speaks of how he is getting along with the girls. Meanwhile, Tanya comes every morning as usual. These references lead the men to believe that she has nothing to do with him.
Heartened, they continue to regard her with affection.
However, they begin to look upon the soldier with contempt. One day, the soldier visits the men while he is drunk and tells how two embroidery girls, Lidka and Grushka, fought over him, scratching each other's faces. Just a wink and I have them! At the oven, the baker says there is one girl the soldier cannot conquer.
The soldier asks which one, but the baker stops talking and goes back to work, using his shovel to put formed biscuit dough into the oven and take finished biscuits out. The soldier approaches him and, saying the baker insulted him, demands to know which girl the baker was talking about.
He leaves. The men think the baker, Pavel, wrongfully whetted the soldier's appetite. On the other hand, they are curious to see what happens.