He habitually concealed them in the steward's hemp patch or some other handy nook, and presented himself to our host with the announcement that he would produce them when he was paid his "tea-money" in advance, in the shape of a glass of vodka. The swap always took place. In spite of this weakness, Piotr was a very well-to-do peasant.
Our excitement was ministered to by the Tatar waiters, who, not having knowledge of our nationality, mistook us for English people, and wrecked our nerves by making our tea as strong and black as beer, with a view to large "tea-money" for this delicate attention to our insular tastes. If no one wanted those documents, what were we to do with them?
"Nowadays, there is no one to order us about like that, or to thrash us," she remarked. We found our fuddled old peasant guide hanging about for "tea-money," when we bade farewell to my friend Domna, who, with her family, offered us her hand at parting.
That was the last I ever heard of him or of it, and I was forced to conclude that some thirsty soul had been in quest of "tea-money" for vodka. I am still in debt to the Russian government for five kopeks. The last time I arrived in Petersburg, I tried a new plan.
But we were cordially received, assured that our visit was well timed and that there were no guests, and were installed in the room of the count's eldest son, who was at his business in St. Petersburg. Then I paid and dismissed the beaming Vanka, whose name chanced to be Alexei, adding liberal "tea-money" for his charming manners and conversation.
Once I offered her some "tea-money" in the shape of a basket of raspberries, which she wished to preserve and drink in her tea, with the privilege of purchasing them herself. As an experiment to determine whether bargaining is the outcome of thrift and economy alone, or a distinct pleasure in itself, it was a success.
It was finally agreed that he should have the little girl for $25, viz., the $23 already owing, and $2 to the mother as "tea-money." The $2 were paid and he took the child away. The mother said: "I was very sorry about it and cried."
Our cunning rogues of boatmen took advantage of our scattered march to obtain from us separately such installments of tea-money as must, in the aggregate, have rendered them hilarious for days to come, if they paid themselves for their minstrelsy in the coin which they had suggested to us before breakfast.
Only one of our friends had even taken the trouble to bring a "document;" but the whole party spent three days under the protection of this ex-serf. Of course, we bespoke his attendance for ourselves, and remembered that little circumstance in his "tea-money."
The archaic frescoes of angels in the chancel, which date from the same period, and are the best in Kieff, were the only objects which the deacon could find to expound, to enhance the "tea-money" value of his services in putting on his best gown and unlocking the door, and he performed his duty meekly, but firmly.