The main actions of AI Kuprin’s work “Gambrinus” unfold in a pub with the same name.
The pub was named in honor of King Gambrinus, a patron of the beer business. The place was in the basement. The walls of the beer garden were always damp, the floor was thickly covered with sawdust, and instead of tables there were beer barrels. To the right of the entrance stood the stage. On it every evening for many years in a row played “for pleasure and entertainment of guests” musician Sashka. He was a Jew, his appearance was a kind of shabby monkey, but everyone loved and respected him. Sasha had a little dog, Belochka, who always accompanied him. Except Sasha in Gambrinus was another significant person – the barmaid Madame Ivanova, who “as the captain of the ship from the felling” silently disposed of the servant and constantly smoked.
The city’s port was always crowded with ships. English, Japanese, Russian, Polish, French.
The Italian ships stood, tightly pressed to each side. The sailors of various countries and states were invariable visitors to Gambrinus, and they were invariable admirers of Sashka. Everyone ordered him the melody of his country, his land, and Sashka with great success played them. By the evening, the pockets of the musician were heavy with silver coins, and he himself was swaying slightly from the beer, which he was treated to. But the next day he always appeared in Gambrinus again, and everything repeated. With his playing on the violin, Sashka forced people to forget that there are gray everyday life, longing, work, despondency…
Sasha was deservedly valued. One day Sasha came to Gambrinus earlier than usual. In his eyes, he was bitterly taken to the war. Did not stop and the fact that he was a Jew. By evening, the whole Gambrinus knew about this. Out of sympathy, Sashka was given a drink to the dead, but from his eyes “sadness and terror” were still looking. Sashka presented the violin to one worker, and the dog Belyka to the barmaid – Madame Ivanova.
Without Sashka Gambrinus “emptied
and stalled.” The master tried to invite the roaming mandolinists, but the audience, who came to Gambrinus, booed them and threw them into them with sticks of sausages. At first Sashka was asked almost every evening, wondering if there was a letter or a postcard from him. But since the time “everything is humbling and washing away,” Lushka, the former thief, has replaced the mandolinists and firmly established himself.
A year has passed. About Sasha already no one remembered, except Madame Ivanova.
Another year has passed. And then Sashka came back. As it turned out, he was not even injured. On the day when Sashka returned, there were so many people in Gambrinus that there was nowhere to sit. Sasha was returned to the violin, and the little dog Squirrel was sitting at his feet again. Everything was fine, it seemed that the musician had not changed at all. But Madame Ivanova noticed – anguish and horror from his eyes did not disappear.
Soon came the “motley, changeable, turbulent times.” Crowds of people were walking along the streets, sometimes there were pogroms. They beat Jews too. But Sasha was not touched, because everyone knew him. However, not daring to harm him, once in his eyes killed Squirrel. After pogroms in the city there was an ominous silence. Detectives were walking around the city. They came to Gambrinus as well. One of the detectives was a baptized Jew, nicknamed Gundosy. Something he did not like about Sashka, and he pounced on him. But after a few moments, everyone saw that Gundosy lay on the floor, while Sashka was holding a fragment of his violin… Of course, the crowd hid Sashka from the detectives in an instant. But in the evening, when Sasha left the pub, several people attacked him. Sashka could be considered buried.
Three months passed. One evening Sasha returned. He grew a beard and was thin. But the worst thing was that Sasha’s left arm “was elbowed to the side”. It was evident that the hand did not unbend. To the questions of the people surrounding him, Sashka replied that “something with a tendon.” He could no longer play the violin. The audience was upset. But suddenly Sashka took out his healthy hand from his pocket… a harmonica. And old, long-known melodies were heard in Gambrinus.
“A person can be crippled, but art will endure all and win everything” – such words complete the work of AI Kuprin “Gambrinus”.