The Incredulous Mr. Ivanyuk

(short story)

The family of Mr. Ivanyuk settled in Tsvetochek during the time of Taras Bulba. Ivanyuk’s great-grandfather, not without a certain grip, quickly took into circulation all the beet farms and several years after amassed a solid capital, which allowed him to rebuild an exquisitely expensive classical-style mansion in the very center of the city and provide all his descendants for three hundred years in advance. So, Mr. Ivanyuk was fabulously rich. He not only did not squander his great-grandfather’s money, but also multiplied it many times in some completely mystical way.

Gloomy Gentleman always wore the same purple dress coat, shirt-fronts, the impeccable whiteness of which cut the eye, a top hat and a gold pince-nez. He never took off his leather gloves, probably because he never had to shake hands with anyone. On his left little finger there was a huge ruby ​​ring, supposedly once belonging to an Arab prince who fell into slavery to the distant ancestor of Mr. Ivanyuk.

Mr. Ivanyuk had no friends and never left the house in the evenings, even if there was a holiday in Tsvetochek. Every morning at eight o’clock sharp he would appear from the door of his house and sit in a shiny black Bentley. The car slowly drove through the central square, crossed the North Bridge and drove off somewhere out of town. Silent and sinister, it put an unpleasant numbness on the residents and they always sighed with relief when the car disappeared around the corner, starting to laugh and talk louder.

Of course, restless children were not frightened by the funereal figure of Ivanyuk, but got a ever-rising feeling of burning curiosity. The gloomy gardener, silent like his owner, caught spies in the bushes, removed the brave pioneers from the chimney and drove the curious from the windows eternally and tightly closed with curtains.

Grim Gentleman often stayed late at work, sometimes he even sat until night, solving a particularly difficult issue, and sometimes even brought some work home.

Today Mr. Ivanyuk entered through the back door, it was still too dark anywhere, and there was no need to make any pleasant impressions. He washed his hands with soap, went up to his huge bedroom, where he changed into warm pajamas inlarge diamonds. He turned on the light in the living room and only then began to unpack the bundle he had brought with him from work. The contents of the package saddened him again. Ivanyuk looked at a rare holly pumpkin, which, well, did not want to start blooming, and the Pumpkin Festival was not far off!

He began to conjure and cast spells: he whispered some magic words and turned around; he brought a mirror and switched on his special solar lamp; he covered the naughty pumpkin with a glass cap and twisted the gramophone knob, making the old violin concert sound in all corners of his house.

Though the pumpkin was stubborn, Mr. Ivanyuk sighed and redoubled his efforts. The butler named Grisha entered the room slowly:

“How was your day? He put a tray with hot tea on the table.”

“Great, but the pumpkin is not blooming,” Mr. Ivanyuk answered sadly.

“Is it all for today?” Grisha asked, being accustomed to his gentleman`s behavior.

“But I’m trying so hard,” Mr. Ivanyuk howled.

“Have you tried to water it? Plants like water like women-tenderness,” Grisha grinned a bit.

There was a long silence in the room. Mr. Ivanyuk blushed and rushed to water the plants. Grisha left.

“Mademoiselle Albertina! My amusing beauty! This is beyond the bounds of decency!” He whispered, cradling the capricious plant.

As soon as the first sun rays lit the wide windows, the first timid bud appeared on the odd pumpkin and Mr.Ivanyuk fell asleep right there, in an arty armchair, flying happy in the seventh heaven, smearing with some rare fertilizers. Very soon, he had to get up to become Terribly Suspicious Mister Ivanyuk again.

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