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Home Bulgakov's Feuilleton Three Orders of Swinehood - translation

Three Orders of Swinehood - translation

The magazine "Paprika," Leningrad 1924

THREE ORDERS OF SWINEHOOD


"In our densely populated houses there are no rules and order of coexistence."

(From the newspapers)


1. DELIRIUM TREMENS


Five times the son of a bitch Grishka slid down along the handrail on his stomach, from the 5th floor to "Red Bavaria" and returned with two bottles.  Furthermore, it is well known that the wife and husband Boldin returned from a mission, accompanied by one and a half bottles of premium Nezhin dogberry-flavored brandy made by Gosspirt and, also produced by it, one tender green bottle of Russian vodka, and two port wines of Moscow distribution.

- The Boldins were just paid, - said Duska, and locked the door to her room.

They-- the apartment captain, the baker, Volodya and mamasha Pavlovna—also lock themselves in.

So, at 11 o'clock, they locked themselves in; but, at exactly midnight they unlocked themselves when, in the Boldins’ room, the first glass shattered.  The second glass to shatter was the door's. Then, in the corrido, one after another, appeared a pistol, the spouse of Boldin, and then the husband himself in a completely torn shirt.

Not everyone is so able to scream "help" as did Boldin’s wife.  Consequently, every window of apartment No. 50 flashed light simultaneously, like fireworks for the czar.  After the distribution of the port wine it was impossible to aim well, and the hurled pistol, having just missed by a hair the head of the apartment captain, killed Duska’s mirror.  There remained only a walnut frame.  Here the threatening word first thundered:

- Police!

- Police - echoed the ghosts in sleeping gowns.

This is not the voice of Felia Litvin with an orchestra of a 100 slicing the air of the theatre with terrible cries of "Aida", no, this is Vasily Boldin slicing his wife:

- Police!  Police!


2. BOUND BY LEGAL MARRIAGE


When a handsome young man with a handlebar mustache headed down the corridor, fluttered out in unison these rapturous words:

- Ah, what a man!

Oh, wow, Pavlovna’s Tan’ka!

Got a bachelor on the leash!

Bashful Tan’ka–the-typist's Ah-what-a-man went directly to room No. 2 and to mamashka Pavlovna said these words:

- I'm not some kind of dandy dude, mamashka.   A no-party man.  I'm not the one who would play with an innocent girl and then kick her out.  And you, mamasha, we will cherish.  You will go to the church, I myself will help you with your business.

The stern Pavlovna teetered, and then sent the bastard Shurka sliding down along the handrail to Mosselprom to get granulated sugar for moonshine.

Ah-what-a-man was married in the church of St. Matthew, the one on Sadovaya St., and they saw the lubricated-with-vegetable-oil head of Ah-what-a-man next to the crowned-with-fleur-d’orange head of Tanya.

And a month later, Ah-what-a-man said to mamasha Pavlovna:

- And when will you breathe your last, dear mama, with your funeral observance?  I can’t breathe because of you.

Pavlovna stood up slowly, and her eyes became like an old snake’s:

- I breathe my last?  You yourself will breathe your last, son.  Thief.  Parasitized me and Tan’ka.  Mary, Mother of God, please strike him, the devil, with thunder!

But thunder did not strike Ah-what-a-man.  He stood up slowly from the tea table and spoke thusly:

- And who is this "thief"?  Please tell me, mamasha?  I am the thief? - he asked, and his voice fell to a whisper. - I am the thief - he hissed already quite near and his reptilian eyes dimmed.

- Help! - replied Pavlovna, and loudly and easily flew out the repetition: - Help!

- Police!  Police!

Police!


3. NAME DAY

On the day of the Saints of Faith, Hope and Love and their mother Sophia (we celebrate their day on the Sept. 17th, but in the Soviet-style on the 30th) an Italian accordion struck up in apartment No. 50, and the entire huge building started shaking.  And at half past one in the morning, the famous dancer Pafnutyitch decided to show how once upon a time he did ‘the fish.’  He did it, and in the downstairs apartment plaster weighing six and a half pounds fell from the ceiling of Dr. Fortochker.  The doctor survived only thanks to the circumstance that at the time he was in an adjoining room.

Fortochker returned, saw a huge sedimentary layer and a white cloud in the very place where once was his desk, and screamed:

- Police!  Police!

Police!


Mikhail Bulgakov

A writer with a wife, childless,

non-drinker, looking for a room with a quiet family.




Notes:

Litvin Felia V. (1861-1936) – a famous Russian singer, whose vocal range covered, according to experts, two and a half octaves from lower G to upper D.  With extraordinary ease she sang Gilda in Rigoletto and Carmen in the Bizet’s opera of the same name.  She was an unsurpassed performer of the parts of Brünnhilde and Isolde in the Wagnerian repertoire.  Most likely, MA Bulgakov listened to Feliya Litvin and admired her skill.