Many critics agree that Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894) was a pioneer in developing the modern short story in English literature and Markheim is among his most celebrated. The tale is generally interpreted as an allegory or fable, a narrative of virtue and vice containing a moral.

‘Yes,’ said the dealer, ‘our windfalls are of various kinds. Some customers are ignorant, and then I touch a dividend on my superior knowledge. Some are dishonest,’ and here he held up the candle, so that the light fell strongly on his visitor, ‘and in that case,’ he continued, ‘I profit by my virtue.’

Markheim had but just entered from the daylight streets, and his eyes had not yet grown familiar with the mingled shine and darkness in the shop. At these pointed words, and before the near presence of the flame, he blinked painfully and looked aside.

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An Honest Thief

An Honest Thief is an 1848 short story by Fyodor Dostoevsky (11 November  1821 – 9 February 1881).

One morning, just as I was about to leave for my place of employment, Agrafena (my cook, laundress, and housekeeper all in one person) entered my room, and, to my great astonishment, started a conversation.

She was a quiet, simple-minded woman, who during the whole six years of her stay with me had never spoken more than two or three words daily, and that in reference to my dinner — at least, I had never heard her.

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