Tales of Belkin

The Undertaker

This story was told to Belkin by shop employee B.V., who like the character who told Belkin "The Blizzard," is not involved in the story. The tale concerns an undertaker, Adrian Prokhorov, who moves from the Basmanny District in northeastern Moscow to Nikitskaya Street, west of the Kremlin. Prokhorov, who is depicted as cold and regimented, never deviating from his routine, soon sets up shop in his new neighborhood. Soon after, he becomes acquainted with his neighbors, mostly German merchants, who come to visit him. They invite him to a wedding anniversary dinner with all of the local merchants, where after a long night of card games and other entertainment, several toasts are proposed. Prokhorov is offended after someone jokingly offers a toast to the health of Prokhorov's customers, and leaves suddenly, claiming that he will hold his house-warming party with his customers rather than his neighbors. To his horror, when he returns home, all the reanimated corpses have accepted his invitation and are moving around his room, even Prokhorov's first customer, who returns as a skeleton. The corpses accuse him of cheating, overcharging, and numerous other offenses. Prokhorov is then woken by his housekeeper, revealing that it was all a drunken dream. He tells her to fetch his daughters and make a cup of tea.

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