The Arousing of Thought

Once upon a time a certain Russian, who in external appearance was to those around him a simple merchant, had to go from his provincial town on some business or other to this second capital of Russia, the city of Moscow, and his son, his favorite one—because he resembled only his mother—asked him to bring back a certain book.

When this great unconscious author of the “all-universal principle of living” arrived in Moscow, he together with a friend of his became—as was and still is usual there—“blind drunk” on genuine “Russian vodka.”

And when these two inhabitants of this most great contemporary grouping of biped breathing creatures had drunk the proper number of glasses of this “Russian blessing” and were discussing what is called “public education,” with which question it has long been customary always to begin one’s conversation, then our merchant suddenly remembered by association his dear son’s request, and decided to set off at once to a bookshop with his friend to buy the book.

In the shop, the merchant, looking through the book he had asked for and which the salesman handed him, asked its price.

The salesman replied that the book was sixty kopecks. Noticing that the price marked on the cover of the book was only forty-five kopecks, our merchant first began pondering in a strange manner, in general unusual for Russians, and afterwards, making a certain movement with his shoulders, straightening himself up almost like a pillar and throwing out his chest like an officer of the guards, said after a little pause, very quietly but with an intonation in his voice expressing great authority: