an online showcase curated by Maya Kóvskaya



by Artur Azevedo
translated by Amanda Sarasien



On that day the Minister arrived at his office in a foul mood and immediately sent for the Director-General of the Secretariat.

The latter, as if powered by a battery, was, moments later, in the presence of His Excellency, who received him with steam coming out of his ears.

“I’m furious!” exclaimed the Counselor. “Because of you I was disgraced before His Majesty the Emperor!”

“Because of me?” asked the Director-General, opening his eyes wide and beating his breast.

“In the file, you sent me a nomination order without the name of the nominated official!”

“What are you saying, Excellency…?”

And the Director-General, as passive and humble with his superiors as he was arrogant and authoritarian with his subordinates, quickly snatched from the air the order which the minister threw at him, nearly hitting him in the face, and, after balancing his pince-nez upon his nose, confessed in a low voice:

“You’re right! I overlooked it! I don’t know how this happened…!”

“This carelessness is unpardonable! The acts which must be submitted for His Majesty’s signature deserve a little more attention, especially now that, as you know, my cabinet official is ill!”

And, banging his fists on the table, the Minister continued:

“Because of you a ministerial crisis was imminent: I heard such unpleasant words uttered by the august lips of His Majesty, that I gave my resignation!...”


“His Majesty did not accept it…”

“Naturally; His Majesty did the right thing.”

“He did not accept it because he thinks highly of me, and he knows that for a minister as busy as I am, a poorly copied order is easy to miss.”

“I ask a thousand pardons of Your Excellency,” protested the Director-General, terribly shocked by the word resignation. “This backlog caused me to overlook such a serious omission; but I swear to Your Excellency that from now on I shall take the greatest care that episodes of this kind are not repeated.”

The Minister turned his back on him and shrugged his shoulders, saying:

“Good! See to it this mess is rectified.”

The Director-General left, falling all over himself, and, arriving in his office, sent for the chief of the third division who found him bristling with rage.

“I am furious! Because of you I was disgraced before the minister!”

“Because of me?”

“In the file, you sent me a nomination order without the name of the nominated official!”

And he threw him the paper which fell on the floor.

The Third-Division Chief picked it up, stupefied, and, after checking the error, stammered:

“Sir, please forgive me, Mr. Director…these things happen…there was so much work…and all so urgent!...”

“The Minister, with good reason, was enraged! He treated me with every consideration, with absolute courtesy, but I could tell he was beside himself!”

“It was no big deal…”

“No big deal? Now you listen here, His Excellency told me that I should suspend the division chief who sent me this in the file!”


“I’m not going to suspend you; I will merely give you a warning, according to the regulations.”


“Don’t answer! Do not make even the slightest remark! Go away, and see to it this mess is rectified!”

The Third-Division Chief went away confused and headed straight to the desk of the amanuensis who had so poorly copied the order.

“I am furious, Mr. Godinho! Because of you I was disgraced before the Director-General!”

“Because of me?”

“You are an inept, lazy, negligent, incorrigible employee! This order does not have the name of the nominated official!”

And he threw the paper, which hit the Amanuensis in the chest.

“I should have proposed your suspension for 15 days or a month: I’ll merely reprimand you in accordance with regulations! Imagine what I would have heard, if the Director-General had not treated me with such respect and consideration!”

“I was in such a hurry I did not have time to reread what I wrote…”

“So you admit it!”

“Sir, I assumed you would turn a blind eye.”

“Quiet!...Perhaps you would like to test my powers?!...”

“No, sir, and I ask that you forgive me this oversight…”

“Quiet, I said, and try to rectify this mess!...”

The Amanuensis obeyed.

At the end of the workday, the bell sounded.

The Custodian appeared.

“Because of you, I was disgraced before the Division Chief!”

“Because of me?”

“Yes, because of you! If you had not taken so long yesterday in bringing me the notebook of imperial paper that I requested of you, I would not have prepared the order in such a hurry that I skipped the nominee’s name!”

“It was because…”

“Don’t make excuses: You are a very lazy custodian! If the boss didn’t think so highly of me, I would be suspended, and then it would be your fault!  Go away!”


“Go away, I said! And you should consider yourself quite fortunate: I could have filed a complaint about you!...”

The Custodian left the Amanuensis and went to take it out on a black servant, who was dozing in a hallway of the secretariat.

“I am furious! Because of you I had the dishonor to be reprimanded by a scoundrel!”

“Because of me?”

“Yes; yesterday when I sent you to the gatehouse to find that notebook of imperial paper, why did you take so long?”


“Shut up! You’re walking a thin line, you hear? Because, the very day I file a complaint about you, you’re out on the street! Servants are not in short supply!...”

The Negro said nothing in response.

The poor devil had no one below him on whom to take out the Custodian’s aggression; however, after begrudgingly dining at the local greasy spoon, he entered the dump he called home and leveled a tremendous kick at his dog.

The pitiful animal who came happily to welcome him grunted, grunted, grunted, and turned back humbly to lick his feet.

This dog paid for the anger of the Servant, the Custodian, the Amanuensis, the Division Chief, the Director-General and the Minister!...



Read the story in the original Portuguese.

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