Although the Russian Nobel prize-winning writer Ivan Bunin has
written several volumes of short stories since his memorable classic
The Gentleman from San Francisco, he preferred this work to
represent him in this volume. Asked for his present-day comment
on the story, Mr. Bunin who has been living in France since he left
Russia in 1919, replied that he was now eighty years old and did
not care to make any further comment.
"Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city!"--
--Revelation of St. John.
THE GENTLEMAN from San Francisco--neither at Naples nor on Capri could any one recall his name--with his wife and daughter, was on his way to Europe, where he intended to stay for two whole years, solely for the pleasure of it.
He was firmly convinced that he had a full right to a rest, enjoyment, a long comfortable trip, and what not. This conviction had a two-fold reason: first, he was rich, and second, despite his fiftyeight years, he was just about to enter the stream of life's pleasures. Until now he had not really lived, but simply existed, to be sure-- fairly well, yet putting off his fondest hopes for the future. He toiled unweariedly--the Chinese, whom he imported by thousands for his works, knew full well what it meant,--and finally he saw that he had made much, and that he had nearly come up to the level of those whom he had once taken as a model, and he decided to catch his breath. The class of people to which he belonged was in the habit of beginning its enjoyment of life with a trip to Europe, India, Egypt. He made up his mind to do the same. Of course, it was first of all himself that he desired to reward for the years of toil, but he was also glad for his wife and daughter's sake. His wife was never distinguished by any extraordinary impressionability, but then, all