THE STEEL FLEA
at haphazard but after training, and understand their business. In front of every one of them hangs a multiplication table, and close by his hand is an erasing-board; whenever an artisan does anything, he looks at the multiplication table, and verifies it with surety, and then writes down one thing on the board and erases another, and brings it into accuracy: what is written in figures turns out just so in fact. And when a holiday comes, they assemble in pairs, each takes a slender rod in his hand, and they go off to enjoy themselves in honorably dignified fashion, as is fitting.
The left-handed man gazed his fill at their manner of life and all their labors, but devoted most attention of all to one object which caused the
- Apparently, a slate. The point is, that Russians still perform all their calculations on the ancient abacus, with marvellous rapidity, and look upon pen-and-paper or slate-and-pencil as a slow, cumbrous process.
[ 77 ]