A month passed.
Kashtanka had grown used to having a nice dinner every evening,
and being called Auntie. She had grown used to the stranger too,
and to her new companions. Life was comfortable and easy.
Every day began in the same way. As a rule, Ivan Ivanitch was
the first to wake up, and at once went up to Auntie or to the
cat, twisting his neck, and beginning to talk excitedly and
persuasively, but, as before, unintelligibly. Sometimes he would
crane up his head in the air and utter a long monologue. At
first Kashtanka thought he talked so much because he was very
clever, but after a little time had passed, she lost all her
respect for him; when he went up to her with his long speeches
she no longer wagged her tail, but treated him as a tiresome
chatterbox, who would not let anyone sleep and, without the
slightest ceremony, answered him with "R-r-r-r!"
Fyodor Timofeyitch was a gentleman of a very different sort.
When he woke he did not utter a sound, did not stir, and did not
even open his eyes. He would have been glad not to wake, for, as
was evident, he was not greatly in love with life. Nothing
interested him, he showed an apathetic and nonchalant attitude
to everything, he disdained everything and, even while eating
his delicious dinner, sniffed contemptuously.
When she woke Kashtanka began walking about the room and
sniffing the corners. She and the cat were the only ones allowed
to go all over the flat; the gander had not the right to cross
the threshold of the room with the dirty wall-paper, and
Hayronya Ivanovna lived somewhere in a little outhouse in the
yard and made her appearance only during the lessons. Their
master got up late, and immediately after drinking his tea began
teaching them their tricks. Every day the frame, the whip, and
the hoop were brought in, and every day almost the same
performance took place. The lesson lasted three or four hours,
so that sometimes Fyodor Timofeyitch was so tired that he
staggered about like a drunken man, and Ivan Ivanitch opened his
beak and breathed heavily, while their master became red in the
face and could not mop the sweat from his brow fast enough.
The lesson and the dinner made the day very interesting, but the
evenings were tedious. As a rule, their master went off
somewhere in the evening and took the cat and the gander with
him. Left alone, Auntie lay down on her little mattress and
began to feel sad.
Melancholy crept on her imperceptibly and took possession of her
by degrees, as darkness does of a room. It began with the dog's
losing every inclination to bark, to eat, to run about the
rooms, and even to look at things; then vague figures, half
dogs, half human beings, with countenances attractive, pleasant,
but incomprehensible, would appear in her imagination; when they
came Auntie wagged her tail, and it seemed to her that she had
somewhere, at some time, seen them and loved them. And as she
dropped asleep, she always felt that those figures smelt of
glue, shavings, and varnish.
When she had grown quite used to her new life, and from a thin,
long mongrel, had changed into a sleek, well-groomed dog, her
master looked at her one day before the lesson and said:
"It's high time, Auntie, to get to business. You have kicked up
your heels in idleness long enough. I want to make an artiste of
you. . . . Do you want to be an artiste?"
And he began teaching her various accomplishments. At the first
lesson he taught her to stand and walk on her hind legs, which
she liked extremely. At the second lesson she had to jump on her
hind legs and catch some sugar, which her teacher held high
above her head. After that, in the following lessons she danced,
ran tied to a cord, howled to music, rang the bell, and fired
the pistol, and in a month could successfully replace Fyodor
Timofeyitch in the "Egyptian Pyramid." She learned very eagerly
and was pleased with her own success; running with her tongue
out on the cord, leaping through the hoop, and riding on old
Fyodor Timofeyitch, gave her the greatest enjoyment. She
accompanied every successful trick with a shrill, delighted
bark, while her teacher wondered, was also delighted, and rubbed
"It's talent! It's talent!" he said. "Unquestionable talent! You
will certainly be successful!"
And Auntie grew so used to the word talent, that every time her
master pronounced it, she jumped up as if it had been her name.