Page:Pushkin - Russian Romance (King, 1875).djvu/14

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time I was twelve years of age, and was also able to discuss in a creditable manner the merits of a sporting dog. At about that period my father, in writing to Moscow for his yearly supply of wines and salad oil, engaged a Frenchman, M. Beaupré, to be my tutor. Savelitch was much put out upon his arrival.

"Thank goodness," muttered he to himself, "the child is washed, combed, and fed. Where is the use of wasting one's money and engaging Moussié, just as if one's own people were not sufficient!"

Beaupré had been a hairdresser in his own country, and a soldier in Prussia; he then came to Russia, pour être Outchitel,[1] without quite understanding the meaning of the word. He was a good fellow, but flighty and debauched to a degree. His greatest weakness was admiration of the fair sex, and he frequently met with such rough usage in return for his advances, that he would groan for days together. He was not inimical (as he expressed himself) to the bottle, that is to say (in plain Russian) he liked an extra drop. But as wine was served at dinner at an allowance of only one glassful to each person, the tutor himself being generally passed over, my Beaupré very soon got accustomed to Russian spirits, and began to like them better than the wines of his own country, as being incomparably preferable for the stomach. He and I got on very well, and although he bound himself by his agreement to teach me French, German, and all the sciences, he found it more advantageous to himself to pick up from me, after a fashion, a smattering of Russian, after which lesson, each of us went his way.

  1. Teacher.—Tr.