Dead Souls
Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol

Part 5 out of 8

To say anything more was unnecessary. The Postmaster clapped his hand
to his forehead, and publicly called himself a fool, though, later, he
tried to excuse his mistake by saying that in England the science of
mechanics had reached such a pitch that wooden legs were manufactured
which would enable the wearer, on touching a spring, to vanish
instantaneously from sight.

Various other theories were then propounded, among them a theory that
Chichikov was Napoleon, escaped from St. Helena and travelling about
the world in disguise. And if it should be supposed that no such
notion could possibly have been broached, let the reader remember that
these events took place not many years after the French had been
driven out of Russia, and that various prophets had since declared
that Napoleon was Antichrist, and would one day escape from his island
prison to exercise universal sway on earth. Nay, some good folk had
even declared the letters of Napoleon's name to constitute the
Apocalyptic cipher!

As a last resort, the tchinovniks decided to question Nozdrev, since
not only had the latter been the first to mention the dead souls, but
also he was supposed to stand on terms of intimacy with Chichikov.
Accordingly the Chief of Police dispatched a note by the hand of a
commissionaire. At the time Nozdrev was engaged on some very important
business--so much so that he had not left his room for four days, and
was receiving his meals through the window, and no visitors at all.
The business referred to consisted of the marking of several dozen
selected cards in such a way as to permit of his relying upon them as
upon his bosom friend. Naturally he did not like having his retirement
invaded, and at first consigned the commissionaire to the devil; but
as soon as he learnt from the note that, since a novice at cards was
to be the guest of the Chief of Police that evening, a call at the
latter's house might prove not wholly unprofitable he relented,
unlocked the door of his room, threw on the first garments that came
to hand, and set forth. To every question put to him by the
tchinovniks he answered firmly and with assurance. Chichikov, he
averred, had indeed purchased dead souls, and to the tune of several
thousand roubles. In fact, he (Nozdrev) had himself sold him some, and
still saw no reason why he should not have done so. Next, to the
question of whether or not he considered Chichikov to be a spy, he
replied in the affirmative, and added that, as long ago as his and
Chichikov's joint schooldays, the said Chichikov had been known as
"The Informer," and repeatedly been thrashed by his companions on that
account. Again, to the question of whether or not Chichikov was a
forger of currency notes the deponent, as before, responded in the
affirmative, and appended thereto an anecdote illustrative of
Chichikov's extraordinary dexterity of hand--namely, an anecdote to
that effect that, once upon a time, on learning that two million
roubles worth of counterfeit notes were lying in Chichikov's house,
the authorities had placed seals upon the building, and had surrounded
it on every side with an armed guard; whereupon Chichikov had, during
the night, changed each of these seals for a new one, and also so
arranged matters that, when the house was searched, the forged notes
were found to be genuine ones!

Again, to the question of whether or not Chichikov had schemed to
abduct the Governor's daughter, and also whether it was true that he,
Nozdrev, had undertaken to aid and abet him in the act, the witness
replied that, had he not undertaken to do so, the affair would never
have come off. At this point the witness pulled himself up, on
realising that he had told a lie which might get him into trouble; but
his tongue was not to be denied--the details trembling on its tip were
too alluring, and he even went on to cite the name of the village
church where the pair had arranged to be married, that of the priest
who had performed the ceremony, the amount of the fees paid for the
same (seventy-five roubles), and statements (1) that the priest had
refused to solemnise the wedding until Chichikov had frightened him by
threatening to expose the fact that he (the priest) had married
Mikhail, a local corn dealer, to his paramour, and (2) that Chichikov
had ordered both a koliaska for the couple's conveyance and relays of
horses from the post-houses on the road. Nay, the narrative, as
detailed by Nozdrev, even reached the point of his mentioning certain
of the postillions by name! Next, the tchinovniks sounded him on the
question of Chichikov's possible identity with Napoleon; but before
long they had reason to regret the step, for Nozdrev responded with a
rambling rigmarole such as bore no resemblance to anything possibly
conceivable. Finally, the majority of the audience left the room, and
only the Chief of Police remained to listen (in the hope of gathering
something more); but at last even he found himself forced to disclaim
the speaker with a gesture which said: "The devil only knows what the
fellow is talking about!" and so voiced the general opinion that it
was no use trying to gather figs of thistles.

Meanwhile Chichikov knew nothing of these events; for, having
contracted a slight chill, coupled with a sore throat, he had decided
to keep his room for three days; during which time he gargled his
throat with milk and fig juice, consumed the fruit from which the
juice had been extracted, and wore around his neck a poultice of
camomile and camphor. Also, to while away the hours, he made new and
more detailed lists of the souls which he had bought, perused a work
by the Duchesse de la Valliere[2], rummaged in his portmanteau, looked
through various articles and papers which he discovered in his
dispatch-box, and found every one of these occupations tedious. Nor
could he understand why none of his official friends had come to see
him and inquire after his health, seeing that, not long since, there
had been standing in front of the inn the drozhkis both of the
Postmaster, the Public Prosecutor, and the President of the Council.
He wondered and wondered, and then, with a shrug of his shoulders,
fell to pacing the room. At length he felt better, and his spirits
rose at the prospect of once more going out into the fresh air;
wherefore, having shaved a plentiful growth of hair from his face, he
dressed with such alacrity as almost to cause a split in his trousers,
sprinkled himself with eau-de-Cologne, and wrapping himself in warm
clothes, and turning up the collar of his coat, sallied forth into the
street. His first destination was intended to be the Governor's
mansion, and, as he walked along, certain thoughts concerning the
Governor's daughter would keep whirling through his head, so that
almost he forgot where he was, and took to smiling and cracking jokes
to himself.

[2] One of the mistresses of Louis XIV. of France. In 1680 she wrote a
book called Reflexions sur la Misericorde de Dieu, par une Dame

Arrived at the Governor's entrance, he was about to divest himself of
his scarf when a Swiss footman greeted him with the words, "I am
forbidden to admit you."

"What?" he exclaimed. "You do not know me? Look at me again, and see
if you do not recognise me."

"Of course I recognise you," the footman replied. "I have seen you
before, but have been ordered to admit any one else rather than
Monsieur Chichikov."

"Indeed? And why so?"

"Those are my orders, and they must be obeyed," said the footman,
confronting Chichikov with none of that politeness with which, on
former occasions, he had hastened to divest our hero of his wrappings.
Evidently he was of opinion that, since the gentry declined to receive
the visitor, the latter must certainly be a rogue.

"I cannot understand it," said Chichikov to himself. Then he departed,
and made his way to the house of the President of the Council. But so
put about was that official by Chichikov's entry that he could not
utter two consecutive words--he could only murmur some rubbish which
left both his visitor and himself out of countenance. Chichikov
wondered, as he left the house, what the President's muttered words
could have meant, but failed to make head or tail of them. Next, he
visited, in turn, the Chief of Police, the Vice-Governor, the
Postmaster, and others; but in each case he either failed to be
accorded admittance or was received so strangely, and with such a
measure of constraint and conversational awkwardness and absence of
mind and embarrassment, that he began to fear for the sanity of his
hosts. Again and again did he strive to divine the cause, but could
not do so; so he went wandering aimlessly about the town, without
succeeding in making up his mind whether he or the officials had gone
crazy. At length, in a state bordering upon bewilderment, he returned
to the inn--to the establishment whence, that every afternoon, he had
set forth in such exuberance of spirits. Feeling the need of something
to do, he ordered tea, and, still marvelling at the strangeness of his
position, was about to pour out the beverage when the door opened and
Nozdrev made his appearance.

"What says the proverb?" he began. "'To see a friend, seven versts is
not too long a round to make.' I happened to be passing the house, saw
a light in your window, and thought to myself: 'Now, suppose I were to
run up and pay him a visit? It is unlikely that he will be asleep.'
Ah, ha! I see tea on your table! Good! Then I will drink a cup with
you, for I had wretched stuff for dinner, and it is beginning to lie
heavy on my stomach. Also, tell your man to fill me a pipe. Where is
your own pipe?"

"I never smoke," rejoined Chichikov drily.

"Rubbish! As if I did not know what a chimney-pot you are! What is
your man's name? Hi, Vakhramei! Come here!"

"Petrushka is his name, not Vakhramei."

"Indeed? But you USED to have a man called Vakhramei, didn't you?"

"No, never."

"Oh, well. Then it must be Derebin's man I am thinking of. What a
lucky fellow that Derebin is! An aunt of his has gone and quarrelled
with her son for marrying a serf woman, and has left all her property
to HIM, to Derebin. Would that _I_ had an aunt of that kind to
provide against future contingencies! But why have you been hiding
yourself away? I suppose the reason has been that you go in for
abstruse subjects and are fond of reading" (why Nozdrev should have
drawn these conclusions no one could possibly have said--least of all
Chichikov himself). "By the way, I can tell you of something that
would have found you scope for your satirical vein" (the conclusion as
to Chichikov's "satirical vein" was, as before, altogether unwarranted
on Nozdrev's part). "That is to say, you would have seen merchant
Likhachev losing a pile of money at play. My word, you would have
laughed! A fellow with me named Perependev said: 'Would that Chichikov
had been here! It would have been the very thing for him!'" (As a
matter of fact, never since the day of his birth had Nozdrev met any
one of the name of Perependev.) "However, my friend, you must admit
that you treated me rather badly the day that we played that game of
chess; but, as I won the game, I bear you no malice. A propos, I am
just from the President's, and ought to tell you that the feeling
against you in the town is very strong, for every one believes you to
be a forger of currency notes. I myself was sent for and questioned
about you, but I stuck up for you through thick and thin, and told the
tchinovniks that I had been at school with you, and had known your
father. In fact, I gave the fellows a knock or two for themselves."

"You say that I am believed to be a forger?" said Chichikov, starting
from his seat.

"Yes," said Nozdrev. "Why have you gone and frightened everybody as
you have done? Some of our folk are almost out of their minds about
it, and declare you to be either a brigand in disguise or a spy.
Yesterday the Public Prosecutor even died of it, and is to be buried
to-morrow" (this was true in so far as that, on the previous day, the
official in question had had a fatal stroke--probably induced by the
excitement of the public meeting). "Of course, _I_ don't suppose you
to be anything of the kind, but, you see, these fellows are in a blue
funk about the new Governor-General, for they think he will make
trouble for them over your affair. A propos, he is believed to be a
man who puts on airs, and turns up his nose at everything; and if so,
he will get on badly with the dvoriane, seeing that fellows of that
sort need to be humoured a bit. Yes, my word! Should the new
Governor-General shut himself up in his study, and give no balls,
there will be the very devil to pay! By the way, Chichikov, that is a
risky scheme of yours."

"What scheme to you mean?" Chichikov asked uneasily.

"Why, that scheme of carrying off the Governor's daughter. However, to
tell the truth, I was expecting something of the kind. No sooner did I
see you and her together at the ball than I said to myself: 'Ah, ha!
Chichikov is not here for nothing!' For my own part, I think you have
made a poor choice, for I can see nothing in her at all. On the other
hand, the niece of a friend of mine named Bikusov--she IS a girl,
and no mistake! A regular what you might call 'miracle in muslin!'"

"What on earth are you talking about?" asked Chichikov with his eyes
distended. "HOW could I carry off the Governor's daughter? What on
earth do you mean?"

"Come, come! What a secretive fellow you are! My only object in having
come to see you is to lend you a helping hand in the matter. Look
here. On condition that you will lend me three thousand roubles, I
will stand you the cost of the wedding, the koliaska, and the relays
of horses. I must have the money even if I die for it."

Throughout Nozdrev's maunderings Chichikov had been rubbing his eyes
to ascertain whether or not he was dreaming. What with the charge of
being a forger, the accusation of having schemed an abduction, the
death of the Public Prosecutor (whatever might have been its cause),
and the advent of a new Governor-General, he felt utterly dismayed.

"Things having come to their present pass," he reflected, "I had
better not linger here--I had better be off at once."

Getting rid of Nozdrev as soon as he could, he sent for Selifan, and
ordered him to be up at daybreak, in order to clean the britchka and
to have everything ready for a start at six o'clock. Yet, though
Selifan replied, "Very well, Paul Ivanovitch," he hesitated awhile by
the door. Next, Chichikov bid Petrushka get out the dusty portmanteau
from under the bed, and then set to work to cram into it, pell-mell,
socks, shirts, collars (both clean and dirty), boot trees, a calendar,
and a variety of other articles. Everything went into the receptacle
just as it came to hand, since his one object was to obviate any
possible delay in the morning's departure. Meanwhile the reluctant
Selifan slowly, very slowly, left the room, as slowly descended the
staircase (on each separate step of which he left a muddy foot-print),
and, finally, halted to scratch his head. What that scratching may
have meant no one could say; for, with the Russian populace, such a
scratching may mean any one of a hundred things.


Nevertheless events did not turn out as Chichikov had intended they
should. In the first place, he overslept himself. That was check
number one. In the second place, on his rising and inquiring whether
the britchka had been harnessed and everything got ready, he was
informed that neither of those two things had been done. That was
check number two. Beside himself with rage, he prepared to give
Selifan the wigging of his life, and, meanwhile, waited impatiently to
hear what the delinquent had got to say in his defence. It goes
without saying that when Selifan made his appearance in the doorway he
had only the usual excuses to offer--the sort of excuses usually
offered by servants when a hasty departure has become imperatively

"Paul Ivanovitch," he said, "the horses require shoeing."

"Blockhead!" exclaimed Chichikov. "Why did you not tell me of that
before, you damned fool? Was there not time enough for them to be

"Yes, I suppose there was," agreed Selifan. "Also one of the wheels is
in want of a new tyre, for the roads are so rough that the old tyre is
worn through. Also, the body of the britchka is so rickety that
probably it will not last more than a couple of stages."

"Rascal!" shouted Chichikov, clenching his fists and approaching
Selifan in such a manner that, fearing to receive a blow, the man
backed and dodged aside. "Do you mean to ruin me, and to break all our
bones on the road, you cursed idiot? For these three weeks past you
have been doing nothing at all; yet now, at the last moment, you come
here stammering and playing the fool! Do you think I keep you just to
eat and to drive yourself about? You must have known of this before?
Did you, or did you not, know it? Answer me at once."

"Yes, I did know it," replied Selifan, hanging his head.

"Then why didn't you tell me about it?"

Selifan had no reply immediately ready, so continued to hang his head
while quietly saying to himself: "See how well I have managed things!
I knew what was the matter, yet I did not say."

"And now," continued Chichikov, "go you at once and fetch a
blacksmith. Tell him that everything must be put right within two
hours at the most. Do you hear? If that should not be done, I, I--I
will give you the best flogging that ever you had in your life." Truly
Chichikov was almost beside himself with fury.

Turning towards the door, as though for the purpose of going and
carrying out his orders, Selifan halted and added:

"That skewbald, barin--you might think it well to sell him, seeing
that he is nothing but a rascal? A horse like that is more of a
hindrance than a help."

"What? Do you expect me to go NOW to the market-place and sell him?"

"Well, Paul Ivanovitch, he is good for nothing but show, since by nature
he is a most cunning beast. Never in my life have I seen such a horse."

"Fool! Whenever I may wish to sell him I SHALL sell him. Meanwhile,
don't you trouble your head about what doesn't concern you, but go and
fetch a blacksmith, and see that everything is put right within two
hours. Otherwise I will take the very hair off your head, and beat you
till you haven't a face left. Be off! Hurry!"

Selifan departed, and Chichikov, his ill-humour vented, threw down
upon the floor the poignard which he always took with him as a means
of instilling respect into whomsoever it might concern, and spent the
next quarter of an hour in disputing with a couple of blacksmiths--men
who, as usual, were rascals of the type which, on perceiving that
something is wanted in a hurry, at once multiplies its terms for
providing the same. Indeed, for all Chichikov's storming and raging as
he dubbed the fellows robbers and extortioners and thieves, he could
make no impression upon the pair, since, true to their character, they
declined to abate their prices, and, even when they had begun their
work, spent upon it, not two hours, but five and a half. Meanwhile he
had the satisfaction of experiencing that delightful time with which
all travellers are familiar--namely, the time during which one sits in
a room where, except for a litter of string, waste paper, and so
forth, everything else has been packed. But to all things there comes
an end, and there arrived also the long-awaited moment when the
britchka had received the luggage, the faulty wheel had been fitted
with a new tyre, the horses had been re-shod, and the predatory
blacksmiths had departed with their gains. "Thank God!" thought
Chichikov as the britchka rolled out of the gates of the inn, and the
vehicle began to jolt over the cobblestones. Yet a feeling which he
could not altogether have defined filled his breast as he gazed upon
the houses and the streets and the garden walls which he might never
see again. Presently, on turning a corner, the britchka was brought to
a halt through the fact that along the street there was filing a
seemingly endless funeral procession. Leaning forward in his britchka,
Chichikov asked Petrushka whose obsequies the procession represented,
and was told that they represented those of the Public Prosecutor.
Disagreeably shocked, our hero hastened to raise the hood of the
vehicle, to draw the curtains across the windows, and to lean back
into a corner. While the britchka remained thus halted Selifan and
Petrushka, their caps doffed, sat watching the progress of the
cortege, after they had received strict instructions not to greet any
fellow-servant whom they might recognise. Behind the hearse walked the
whole body of tchinovniks, bare-headed; and though, for a moment or
two, Chichikov feared that some of their number might discern him in
his britchka, he need not have disturbed himself, since their
attention was otherwise engaged. In fact, they were not even
exchanging the small talk customary among members of such processions,
but thinking exclusively of their own affairs, of the advent of the
new Governor-General, and of the probable manner in which he would
take up the reins of administration. Next came a number of carriages,
from the windows of which peered the ladies in mourning toilets. Yet
the movements of their hands and lips made it evident that they were
indulging in animated conversation--probably about the
Governor-General, the balls which he might be expected to give, and
their own eternal fripperies and gewgaws. Lastly came a few empty
drozhkis. As soon as the latter had passed, our hero was able to
continue on his way. Throwing back the hood of the britchka, he said
to himself:

"Ah, good friend, you have lived your life, and now it is over! In the
newspapers they will say of you that you died regretted not only by
your subordinates, but also by humanity at large, as well as that, a
respected citizen, a kind father, and a husband beyond reproach, you
went to your grave amid the tears of your widow and orphans. Yet,
should those journals be put to it to name any particular circumstance
which justified this eulogy of you, they would be forced to fall back
upon the fact that you grew a pair of exceptionally thick eyebrows!"

With that Chichikov bid Selifan quicken his pace, and concluded:
"After all, it is as well that I encountered the procession, for they
say that to meet a funeral is lucky."

Presently the britchka turned into some less frequented streets, lines
of wooden fencing of the kind which mark the outskirts of a town began
to file by, the cobblestones came to an end, the macadam of the
highroad succeeded to them, and once more there began on either side
of the turnpike a procession of verst stones, road menders, and grey
villages; inns with samovars and peasant women and landlords who came
running out of yards with seivefuls of oats; pedestrians in worn shoes
which, it might be, had covered eight hundred versts; little towns,
bright with booths for the sale of flour in barrels, boots, small
loaves, and other trifles; heaps of slag; much repaired bridges;
expanses of field to right and to left; stout landowners; a mounted
soldier bearing a green, iron-clamped box inscribed: "The --th Battery
of Artillery"; long strips of freshly-tilled earth which gleamed
green, yellow, and black on the face of the countryside. With it
mingled long-drawn singing, glimpses of elm-tops amid mist, the
far-off notes of bells, endless clouds of rocks, and the illimitable
line of the horizon.

Ah, Russia, Russia, from my beautiful home in a strange land I can
still see you! In you everything is poor and disordered and unhomely;
in you the eye is neither cheered nor dismayed by temerities of nature
which a yet more temerarious art has conquered; in you one beholds no
cities with lofty, many-windowed mansions, lofty as crags, no
picturesque trees, no ivy-clad ruins, no waterfalls with their
everlasting spray and roar, no beetling precipices which confuse the
brain with their stony immensity, no vistas of vines and ivy and
millions of wild roses and ageless lines of blue hills which look
almost unreal against the clear, silvery background of the sky. In you
everything is flat and open; your towns project like points or signals
from smooth levels of plain, and nothing whatsoever enchants or
deludes the eye. Yet what secret, what invincible force draws me to
you? Why does there ceaselessly echo and re-echo in my ears the sad
song which hovers throughout the length and the breadth of your
borders? What is the burden of that song? Why does it wail and sob and
catch at my heart? What say the notes which thus painfully caress and
embrace my soul, and flit, uttering their lamentations, around me?
What is it you seek of me, O Russia? What is the hidden bond which
subsists between us? Why do you regard me as you do? Why does
everything within you turn upon me eyes full of yearning? Even at this
moment, as I stand dumbly, fixedly, perplexedly contemplating your
vastness, a menacing cloud, charged with gathering rain, seems to
overshadow my head. What is it that your boundless expanses presage?
Do they not presage that one day there will arise in you ideas as
boundless as yourself? Do they not presage that one day you too will
know no limits? Do they not presage that one day, when again you shall
have room for their exploits, there will spring to life the heroes of
old? How the power of your immensity enfolds me, and reverberates
through all my being with a wild, strange spell, and flashes in my
eyes with an almost supernatural radiance! Yes, a strange, brilliant,
unearthly vista indeed do you disclose, O Russia, country of mine!

"Stop, stop, you fool!" shouted Chichikov to Selifan; and even as he
spoke a troika, bound on Government business, came chattering by, and
disappeared in a cloud of dust. To Chichikov's curses at Selifan for
not having drawn out of the way with more alacrity a rural constable
with moustaches of the length of an arshin added his quota.

What a curious and attractive, yet also what an unreal, fascination
the term "highway" connotes! And how interesting for its own sake is a
highway! Should the day be a fine one (though chilly) in mellowing
autumn, press closer your travelling cloak, and draw down your cap
over your ears, and snuggle cosily, comfortably into a corner of the
britchka before a last shiver shall course through your limbs, and the
ensuing warmth shall put to flight the autumnal cold and damp. As the
horses gallop on their way, how delightfully will drowsiness come
stealing upon you, and make your eyelids droop! For a while, through
your somnolence, you will continue to hear the hard breathing of the
team and the rumbling of the wheels; but at length, sinking back into
your corner, you will relapse into the stage of snoring. And when you
awake--behold! you will find that five stages have slipped away, and
that the moon is shining, and that you have reached a strange town of
churches and old wooden cupolas and blackened spires and white,
half-timbered houses! And as the moonlight glints hither and thither,
almost you will believe that the walls and the streets and the
pavements of the place are spread with sheets--sheets shot with
coal-black shadows which make the wooden roofs look all the brighter
under the slanting beams of the pale luminary. Nowhere is a soul to be
seen, for every one is plunged in slumber. Yet no. In a solitary
window a light is flickering where some good burgher is mending his
boots, or a baker drawing a batch of dough. O night and powers of
heaven, how perfect is the blackness of your infinite vault--how
lofty, how remote its inaccessible depths where it lies spread in an
intangible, yet audible, silence! Freshly does the lulling breath of
night blow in your face, until once more you relapse into snoring
oblivion, and your poor neighbour turns angrily in his corner as he
begins to be conscious of your weight. Then again you awake, but this
time to find yourself confronted with only fields and steppes.
Everywhere in the ascendant is the desolation of space. But suddenly
the ciphers on a verst stone leap to the eye! Morning is rising, and
on the chill, gradually paling line of the horizon you can see
gleaming a faint gold streak. The wind freshens and grows keener, and
you snuggle closer in your cloak; yet how glorious is that freshness,
and how marvellous the sleep in which once again you become enfolded!
A jolt!--and for the last time you return to consciousness. By now the
sun is high in the heavens, and you hear a voice cry "gently, gently!"
as a farm waggon issues from a by-road. Below, enclosed within an
ample dike, stretches a sheet of water which glistens like copper in
the sunlight. Beyond, on the side of a slope, lie some scattered
peasants' huts, a manor house, and, flanking the latter, a village
church with its cross flashing like a star. There also comes wafted to
your ear the sound of peasants' laughter, while in your inner man you
are becoming conscious of an appetite which is not to be withstood.

Oh long-drawn highway, how excellent you are! How often have I in
weariness and despondency set forth upon your length, and found in you
salvation and rest! How often, as I followed your leading, have I been
visited with wonderful thoughts and poetic dreams and curious, wild

At this moment our friend Chichikov also was experiencing visions of a
not wholly prosaic nature. Let us peep into his soul and share them.
At first he remained unconscious of anything whatsoever, for he was
too much engaged in making sure that he was really clear of the town;
but as soon as he saw that it had completely disappeared, with its
mills and factories and other urban appurtenances, and that even the
steeples of the white stone churches had sunk below the horizon, he
turned his attention to the road, and the town of N. vanished from his
thoughts as completely as though he had not seen it since childhood.
Again, in its turn, the road ceased to interest him, and he began to
close his eyes and to loll his head against the cushions. Of this let
the author take advantage, in order to speak at length concerning his
hero; since hitherto he (the author) has been prevented from so doing
by Nozdrev and balls and ladies and local intrigues--by those thousand
trifles which seem trifles only when they are introduced into a book,
but which, in life, figure as affairs of importance. Let us lay them
aside, and betake ourselves to business.

Whether the character whom I have selected for my hero has pleased my
readers is, of course, exceedingly doubtful. At all events the ladies
will have failed to approve him for the fair sex demands in a hero
perfection, and, should there be the least mental or physical stain on
him--well, woe betide! Yes, no matter how profoundly the author may
probe that hero's soul, no matter how clearly he may portray his
figure as in a mirror, he will be given no credit for the achievement.
Indeed, Chichikov's very stoutness and plenitude of years may have
militated against him, for never is a hero pardoned for the former,
and the majority of ladies will, in such case, turn away, and mutter
to themselves: "Phew! What a beast!" Yes, the author is well aware of
this. Yet, though he could not, to save his life, take a person of
virtue for his principal character, it may be that this story contains
themes never before selected, and that in it there projects the whole
boundless wealth of Russian psychology; that it portrays, as well as
Chichikov, the peasant who is gifted with the virtues which God has
sent him, and the marvellous maiden of Russia who has not her like in
all the world for her beautiful feminine spirituality, the roots of
which lie buried in noble aspirations and boundless self-denial. In
fact, compared with these types, the virtuous of other races seem
lifeless, as does an inanimate volume when compared with the living
word. Yes, each time that there arises in Russia a movement of
thought, it becomes clear that the movement sinks deep into the
Slavonic nature where it would but have skimmed the surface of other
nations.--But why am I talking like this? Whither am I tending? It is
indeed shameful that an author who long ago reached man's estate, and
was brought up to a course of severe introspection and sober, solitary
self-enlightenment, should give way to such jejune wandering from the
point. To everything its proper time and place and turn. As I was
saying, it does not lie in me to take a virtuous character for my
hero: and I will tell you why. It is because it is high time that a
rest were given to the "poor, but virtuous" individual; it is because
the phrase "a man of worth" has grown into a by-word; it is because
the "man of worth" has become converted into a horse, and there is not
a writer but rides him and flogs him, in and out of season; it is
because the "man of worth" has been starved until he has not a shred
of his virtue left, and all that remains of his body is but the ribs
and the hide; it is because the "man of worth" is for ever being
smuggled upon the scene; it is because the "man of worth" has at
length forfeited every one's respect. For these reasons do I reaffirm
that it is high time to yoke a rascal to the shafts. Let us yoke that

Our hero's beginnings were both modest and obscure. True, his parents
were dvoriane, but he in no way resembled them. At all events, a
short, squab female relative who was present at his birth exclaimed as
she lifted up the baby: "He is altogether different from what I had
expected him to be. He ought to have taken after his maternal
grandmother, whereas he has been born, as the proverb has it, 'like
not father nor mother, but like a chance passer-by.'" Thus from the
first life regarded the little Chichikov with sour distaste, and as
through a dim, frost-encrusted window. A tiny room with diminutive
casements which were never opened, summer or winter; an invalid father
in a dressing-gown lined with lambskin, and with an ailing foot
swathed in bandages--a man who was continually drawing deep breaths,
and walking up and down the room, and spitting into a sandbox; a
period of perpetually sitting on a bench with pen in hand and ink on
lips and fingers; a period of being eternally confronted with the
copy-book maxim, "Never tell a lie, but obey your superiors, and
cherish virtue in your heart;" an everlasting scraping and shuffling
of slippers up and down the room; a period of continually hearing a
well-known, strident voice exclaim: "So you have been playing the fool
again!" at times when the child, weary of the mortal monotony of his
task, had added a superfluous embellishment to his copy; a period of
experiencing the ever-familiar, but ever-unpleasant, sensation which
ensued upon those words as the boy's ear was painfully twisted between
two long fingers bent backwards at the tips--such is the miserable
picture of that youth of which, in later life, Chichikov preserved but
the faintest of memories! But in this world everything is liable to
swift and sudden change; and, one day in early spring, when the rivers
had melted, the father set forth with his little son in a
teliezshka[1] drawn by a sorrel steed of the kind known to horsy folk
as a soroka, and having as coachman the diminutive hunchback who,
father of the only serf family belonging to the elder Chichikov,
served as general factotum in the Chichikov establishment. For a day
and a half the soroka conveyed them on their way; during which time
they spent the night at a roadside inn, crossed a river, dined off
cold pie and roast mutton, and eventually arrived at the county town.
To the lad the streets presented a spectacle of unwonted brilliancy,
and he gaped with amazement. Turning into a side alley wherein the
mire necessitated both the most strenuous exertions on the soroka's
part and the most vigorous castigation on the part of the driver and
the barin, the conveyance eventually reached the gates of a courtyard
which, combined with a small fruit garden containing various bushes, a
couple of apple-trees in blossom, and a mean, dirty little shed,
constituted the premises attached to an antiquated-looking villa. Here
there lived a relative of the Chichikovs, a wizened old lady who went
to market in person and dried her stockings at the samovar. On seeing
the boy, she patted his cheek and expressed satisfaction at his
physique; whereupon the fact became disclosed that here he was to
abide for a while, for the purpose of attending a local school. After
a night's rest his father prepared to betake himself homeward again;
but no tears marked the parting between him and his son, he merely
gave the lad a copper or two and (a far more important thing) the
following injunctions. "See here, my boy. Do your lessons well, do not
idle or play the fool, and above all things, see that you please your
teachers. So long as you observe these rules you will make progress,
and surpass your fellows, even if God shall have denied you brains,
and you should fail in your studies. Also, do not consort overmuch
with your comrades, for they will do you no good; but, should you do
so, then make friends with the richer of them, since one day they may
be useful to you. Also, never entertain or treat any one, but see that
every one entertains and treats YOU. Lastly, and above all else,
keep and save your every kopeck. To save money is the most important
thing in life. Always a friend or a comrade may fail you, and be the
first to desert you in a time of adversity; but never will a KOPECK
fail you, whatever may be your plight. Nothing in the world cannot be
done, cannot be attained, with the aid of money." These injunctions
given, the father embraced his son, and set forth on his return; and
though the son never again beheld his parent, the latter's words and
precepts sank deep into the little Chichikov's soul.

[1] Four-wheeled open carriage.

The next day young Pavlushka made his first attendance at school. But
no special aptitude in any branch of learning did he display. Rather,
his distinguishing characteristics were diligence and neatness. On the
other hand, he developed great intelligence as regards the PRACTICAL
aspect of life. In a trice he divined and comprehended how things
ought to be worked, and, from that time forth, bore himself towards
his school-fellows in such a way that, though they frequently gave him
presents, he not only never returned the compliment, but even on
occasions pocketed the gifts for the mere purpose of selling them
again. Also, boy though he was, he acquired the art of self-denial. Of
the trifle which his father had given him on parting he spent not a
kopeck, but, the same year, actually added to his little store by
fashioning a bullfinch of wax, painting it, and selling the same at a
handsome profit. Next, as time went on, he engaged in other
speculations--in particular, in the scheme of buying up eatables,
taking his seat in class beside boys who had plenty of pocket-money,
and, as soon as such opulent individuals showed signs of failing
attention (and, therefore, of growing appetite), tendering them, from
beneath the desk, a roll of pudding or a piece of gingerbread, and
charging according to degree of appetite and size of portion. He also
spent a couple of months in training a mouse, which he kept confined
in a little wooden cage in his bedroom. At length, when the training
had reached the point that, at the several words of command, the mouse
would stand upon its hind legs, lie down, and get up again, he sold
the creature for a respectable sum. Thus, in time, his gains attained
the amount of five roubles; whereupon he made himself a purse and then
started to fill a second receptacle of the kind. Still more studied
was his attitude towards the authorities. No one could sit more
quietly in his place on the bench than he. In the same connection it
may be remarked that his teacher was a man who, above all things,
loved peace and good behaviour, and simply could not abide clever,
witty boys, since he suspected them of laughing at him. Consequently
any lad who had once attracted the master's attention with a
manifestation of intelligence needed but to shuffle in his place, or
unintentionally to twitch an eyebrow, for the said master at once to
burst into a rage, to turn the supposed offender out of the room, and
to visit him with unmerciful punishment. "Ah, my fine fellow," he
would say, "I'LL cure you of your impudence and want of respect! I
know you through and through far better than you know yourself, and
will take good care that you have to go down upon your knees and curb
your appetite." Whereupon the wretched lad would, for no cause of
which he was aware, be forced to wear out his breeches on the floor
and go hungry for days. "Talents and gifts," the schoolmaster would
declare, "are so much rubbish. I respect only good behaviour, and
shall award full marks to those who conduct themselves properly, even
if they fail to learn a single letter of their alphabet: whereas to
those in whom I may perceive a tendency to jocularity I shall award
nothing, even though they should outdo Solon himself." For the same
reason he had no great love of the author Krylov, in that the latter
says in one of his Fables: "In my opinion, the more one sings, the
better one works;" and often the pedagogue would relate how, in a
former school of his, the silence had been such that a fly could be
heard buzzing on the wing, and for the space of a whole year not a
single pupil sneezed or coughed in class, and so complete was the
absence of all sound that no one could have told that there was a soul
in the place. Of this mentor young Chichikov speedily appraised the
mentality; wherefore he fashioned his behaviour to correspond with it.
Not an eyelid, not an eyebrow, would he stir during school hours,
howsoever many pinches he might receive from behind; and only when the
bell rang would he run to anticipate his fellows in handing the master
the three-cornered cap which that dignitary customarily sported, and
then to be the first to leave the class-room, and contrive to meet the
master not less than two or three times as the latter walked homeward,
in order that, on each occasion, he might doff his cap. And the scheme
proved entirely successful. Throughout the period of his attendance at
school he was held in high favour, and, on leaving the establishment,
received full marks for every subject, as well as a diploma and a book
inscribed (in gilt letters) "For Exemplary Diligence and the
Perfection of Good Conduct." By this time he had grown into a fairly
good-looking youth of the age when the chin first calls for a razor;
and at about the same period his father died, leaving behind him, as
his estate, four waistcoats completely worn out, two ancient
frockcoats, and a small sum of money. Apparently he had been skilled
only in RECOMMENDING the saving of kopecks--not in ACTUALLY
PRACTISING the art. Upon that Chichikov sold the old house and its
little parcel of land for a thousand roubles, and removed, with his
one serf and the serf's family, to the capital, where he set about
organising a new establishment and entering the Civil Service.
Simultaneously with his doing so, his old schoolmaster lost (through
stupidity or otherwise) the establishment over which he had hitherto
presided, and in which he had set so much store by silence and good
behaviour. Grief drove him to drink, and when nothing was left, even
for that purpose, he retired--ill, helpless, and starving--into a
broken-down, cheerless hovel. But certain of his former pupils--the
same clever, witty lads whom he had once been wont to accuse of
impertinence and evil conduct generally--heard of his pitiable plight,
and collected for him what money they could, even to the point of
selling their own necessaries. Only Chichikov, when appealed to,
pleaded inability, and compromised with a contribution of a single
piatak[2]: which his old schoolfellows straightway returned him--full
in the face, and accompanied with a shout of "Oh, you skinflint!" As
for the poor schoolmaster, when he heard what his former pupils had
done, he buried his face in his hands, and the tears gushed from his
failing eyes as from those of a helpless infant. "God has brought you
but to weep over my death-bed," he murmured feebly; and added with a
profound sigh, on hearing of Chichikov's conduct: "Ah, Pavlushka, how
a human being may become changed! Once you were a good lad, and gave
me no trouble; but now you are become proud indeed!"

[2] Silver five kopeck piece.

Yet let it not be inferred from this that our hero's character had
grown so blase and hard, or his conscience so blunted, as to preclude
his experiencing a particle of sympathy or compassion. As a matter of
fact, he was capable both of the one and the other, and would have
been glad to assist his old teacher had no great sum been required, or
had he not been called upon to touch the fund which he had decided
should remain intact. In other words, the father's injunction, "Guard
and save every kopeck," had become a hard and fast rule of the son's.
Yet the youth had no particular attachment to money for money's sake;
he was not possessed with the true instinct for hoarding and
niggardliness. Rather, before his eyes there floated ever a vision of
life and its amenities and advantages--a vision of carriages and an
elegantly furnished house and recherche dinners; and it was in the
hope that some day he might attain these things that he saved every
kopeck and, meanwhile, stinted both himself and others. Whenever a
rich man passed him by in a splendid drozhki drawn by swift and
handsomely-caparisoned horses, he would halt as though deep in
thought, and say to himself, like a man awakening from a long sleep:
"That gentleman must have been a financier, he has so little hair on
his brow." In short, everything connected with wealth and plenty
produced upon him an ineffaceable impression. Even when he left school
he took no holiday, so strong in him was the desire to get to work and
enter the Civil Service. Yet, for all the encomiums contained in his
diploma, he had much ado to procure a nomination to a Government
Department; and only after a long time was a minor post found for him,
at a salary of thirty or fourty roubles a year. Nevertheless, wretched
though this appointment was, he determined, by strict attention to
business, to overcome all obstacles, and to win success. And, indeed,
the self-denial, the patience, and the economy which he displayed were
remarkable. From early morn until late at night he would, with
indefatigable zeal of body and mind, remain immersed in his sordid
task of copying official documents--never going home, snatching what
sleep he could on tables in the building, and dining with the watchman
on duty. Yet all the while he contrived to remain clean and neat, to
preserve a cheerful expression of countenance, and even to cultivate a
certain elegance of movement. In passing, it may be remarked that his
fellow tchinovniks were a peculiarly plain, unsightly lot, some of
them having faces like badly baked bread, swollen cheeks, receding
chins, and cracked and blistered upper lips. Indeed, not a man of them
was handsome. Also, their tone of voice always contained a note of
sullenness, as though they had a mind to knock some one on the head;
and by their frequent sacrifices to Bacchus they showed that even yet
there remains in the Slavonic nature a certain element of paganism.
Nay, the Director's room itself they would invade while still licking
their lips, and since their breath was not over-aromatic, the
atmosphere of the room grew not over-pleasant. Naturally, among such
an official staff a man like Chichikov could not fail to attract
attention and remark, since in everything--in cheerfulness of
demeanour, in suavity of voice, and in complete neglect of the use of
strong potions--he was the absolute antithesis of his companions. Yet
his path was not an easy one to tread, for over him he had the
misfortune to have placed in authority a Chief Clerk who was a graven
image of elderly insensibility and inertia. Always the same, always
unapproachable, this functionary could never in his life have smiled
or asked civilly after an acquaintance's health. Nor had any one ever
seen him a whit different in the street or at his own home from what
he was in the office, or showing the least interest in anything
whatever, or getting drunk and relapsing into jollity in his cups, or
indulging in that species of wild gaiety which, when intoxicated, even
a burglar affects. No, not a particle of this was there in him. Nor,
for that matter, was there in him a particle of anything at all,
whether good or bad: which complete negativeness of character produced
rather a strange effect. In the same way, his wizened, marble-like
features reminded one of nothing in particular, so primly proportioned
were they. Only the numerous pockmarks and dimples with which they
were pitted placed him among the number of those over whose faces, to
quote the popular saying, "The Devil has walked by night to grind
peas." In short, it would seem that no human agency could have
approached such a man and gained his goodwill. Yet Chichikov made the
effort. As a first step, he took to consulting the other's convenience
in all manner of insignificant trifles--to cleaning his pens
carefully, and, when they had been prepared exactly to the Chief
Clerk's liking, laying them ready at his elbow; to dusting and
sweeping from his table all superfluous sand and tobacco ash; to
procuring a new mat for his inkstand; to looking for his hat--the
meanest-looking hat that ever the world beheld--and having it ready
for him at the exact moment when business came to an end; to brushing
his back if it happened to become smeared with whitewash from a wall.
Yet all this passed as unnoticed as though it had never been done.
Finally, Chichikov sniffed into his superior's family and domestic
life, and learnt that he possessed a grown-up daughter on whose face
also there had taken place a nocturnal, diabolical grinding of peas.
HERE was a quarter whence a fresh attack might be delivered! After
ascertaining what church the daughter attended on Sundays, our hero
took to contriving to meet her in a neat suit and a well-starched
dickey: and soon the scheme began to work. The surly Chief Clerk
wavered for a while; then ended by inviting Chichikov to tea. Nor
could any man in the office have told you how it came about that
before long Chichikov had removed to the Chief Clerk's house, and
become a person necessary--indeed indispensable--to the household,
seeing that he bought the flour and the sugar, treated the daughter as
his betrothed, called the Chief Clerk "Papenka," and occasionally
kissed "Papenka's" hand. In fact, every one at the office supposed
that, at the end of February (i.e. before the beginning of Lent) there
would take place a wedding. Nay, the surly father even began to
agitate with the authorities on Chichikov's behalf, and so enabled our
hero, on a vacancy occurring, to attain the stool of a Chief Clerk.
Apparently this marked the consummation of Chichikov's relations with
his host, for he hastened stealthily to pack his trunk and, the next
day, figured in a fresh lodging. Also, he ceased to call the Chief
Clerk "Papenka," or to kiss his hand; and the matter of the wedding
came to as abrupt a termination as though it had never been mooted.
Yet also he never failed to press his late host's hand, whenever he
met him, and to invite him to tea; while, on the other hand, for all
his immobility and dry indifference, the Chief Clerk never failed to
shake his head with a muttered, "Ah, my fine fellow, you have grown
too proud, you have grown too proud."

The foregoing constituted the most difficult step that our hero had to
negotiate. Thereafter things came with greater ease and swifter
success. Everywhere he attracted notice, for he developed within
himself everything necessary for this world--namely, charm of manner
and bearing, and great diligence in business matters. Armed with these
resources, he next obtained promotion to what is known as "a fat
post," and used it to the best advantage; and even though, at that
period, strict inquiry had begun to be made into the whole subject of
bribes, such inquiry failed to alarm him--nay, he actually turned it
to account and thereby manifested the Russian resourcefulness which
never fails to attain its zenith where extortion is concerned. His
method of working was the following. As soon as a petitioner or a
suitor put his hand into his pocket, to extract thence the necessary
letters of recommendation for signature, Chichikov would smilingly
exclaim as he detained his interlocutor's hand: "No, no! Surely you do
not think that I--? But no, no! It is our duty, it is our obligation,
and we do not require rewards for doing our work properly. So far as
YOUR matter is concerned, you may rest easy. Everything shall be
carried through to-morrow. But may I have your address? There is no
need to trouble yourself, seeing that the documents can easily be
brought to you at your residence." Upon which the delighted suitor
would return home in raptures, thinking: "Here, at long last, is the
sort of man so badly needed. A man of that kind is a jewel beyond
price." Yet for a day, for two days--nay, even for three--the suitor
would wait in vain so far as any messengers with documents were
concerned. Then he would repair to the office--to find that his
business had not so much as been entered upon! Lastly, he would
confront the "jewel beyond price." "Oh, pardon me, pardon me!"
Chichikov would exclaim in the politest of tones as he seized and
grasped the visitor's hands. "The truth is that we have SUCH a
quantity of business on hand! But the matter shall be put through
to-morrow, and in the meanwhile I am most sorry about it." And with
this would go the most fascinating of gestures. Yet neither on the
morrow, nor on the day following, nor on the third would documents
arrive at the suitor's abode. Upon that he would take thought as to
whether something more ought not to have been done; and, sure enough,
on his making inquiry, he would be informed that "something will have
to be given to the copyists." "Well, there can be no harm in that," he
would reply. "As a matter of fact, I have ready a tchetvertak[3] or
two." "Oh, no, no," the answer would come. "Not a tchetvertak per
copyist, but a rouble, is the fee." "What? A rouble per copyist?"
"Certainly. What is there to grumble at in that? Of the money the
copyists will receive a tchetvertak apiece, and the rest will go to
the Government." Upon that the disillusioned suitor would fly out upon
the new order of things brought about by the inquiry into illicit
fees, and curse both the tchinovniks and their uppish, insolent
behaviour. "Once upon a time," would the suitor lament, "one DID
know what to do. Once one had tipped the Director a bank-note, one's
affair was, so to speak, in the hat. But now one has to pay a rouble
per copyist after waiting a week because otherwise it was impossible
to guess how the wind might set! The devil fly away with all
'disinterested' and 'trustworthy' tchinovniks!" And certainly the
aggrieved suitor had reason to grumble, seeing that, now that
bribe-takers had ceased to exist, and Directors had uniformly become
men of honour and integrity, secretaries and clerks ought not with
impunity to have continued their thievish ways. In time there opened
out to Chichikov a still wider field, for a Commission was appointed
to supervise the erection of a Government building, and, on his being
nominated to that body, he proved himself one of its most active
members. The Commission got to work without delay, but for a space of
six years had some trouble with the building in question. Either the
climate hindered operations or the materials used were of the kind
which prevents official edifices from ever rising higher than the
basement. But, meanwhile, OTHER quarters of the town saw arise, for
each member of the Commission, a handsome house of the NON-official
style of architecture. Clearly the foundation afforded by the soil of
those parts was better than that where the Government building was
still engaged in hanging fire! Likewise the members of the Commission
began to look exceedingly prosperous, and to blossom out into family
life; and, for the first time in his existence, even Chichikov also
departed from the iron laws of his self-imposed restraint and
inexorable self-denial, and so far mitigated his heretofore asceticism
as to show himself a man not averse to those amenities which, during
his youth, he had been capable of renouncing. That is to say, certain
superfluities began to make their appearance in his establishment. He
engaged a good cook, took to wearing linen shirts, bought for himself
cloth of a pattern worn by no one else in the province, figured in
checks shot with the brightest of reds and browns, fitted himself out
with two splendid horses (which he drove with a single pair of reins,
added to a ring attachment for the trace horse), developed a habit of
washing with a sponge dipped in eau-de-Cologne, and invested in soaps
of the most expensive quality, in order to communicate to his skin a
more elegant polish.

[3] A silver quarter rouble.

But suddenly there appeared upon the scene a new Director--a military
man, and a martinet as regarded his hostility to bribe-takers and
anything which might be called irregular. On the very day after his
arrival he struck fear into every breast by calling for accounts,
discovering hosts of deficits and missing sums, and directing his
attention to the aforesaid fine houses of civilian architecture. Upon
that there ensued a complete reshuffling. Tchinovniks were retired
wholesale, and the houses were sequestrated to the Government, or else
converted into various pious institutions and schools for soldiers'
children. Thus the whole fabric, and especially Chichikov, came
crashing to the ground. Particularly did our hero's agreeable face
displease the new Director. Why that was so it is impossible to say,
but frequently, in cases of the kind, no reason exists. However, the
Director conceived a mortal dislike to him, and also extended that
enmity to the whole of Chichikov's colleagues. But inasmuch as the
said Director was a military man, he was not fully acquainted with the
myriad subtleties of the civilian mind; wherefore it was not long
before, by dint of maintaining a discreet exterior, added to a faculty
for humouring all and sundry, a fresh gang of tchinovniks succeeded in
restoring him to mildness, and the General found himself in the hands
of greater thieves than before, but thieves whom he did not even
suspect, seeing that he believed himself to have selected men fit and
proper, and even ventured to boast of possessing a keen eye for
talent. In a trice the tchinovniks concerned appraised his spirit and
character; with the result that the entire sphere over which he ruled
became an agency for the detection of irregularities. Everywhere, and
in every case, were those irregularities pursued as a fisherman
pursues a fat sturgeon with a gaff; and to such an extent did the
sport prove successful that almost in no time each participator in the
hunt was seen to be in possession of several thousand roubles of
capital. Upon that a large number of the former band of tchinovniks
also became converted to paths of rectitude, and were allowed to
re-enter the Service; but not by hook or by crook could Chichikov worm
his way back, even though, incited thereto by sundry items of paper
currency, the General's first secretary and principal bear leader did
all he could on our hero's behalf. It seemed that the General was the
kind of man who, though easily led by the nose (provided it was done
without his knowledge) no sooner got an idea into his head than it
stuck there like a nail, and could not possibly be extracted; and all
that the wily secretary succeeded in procuring was the tearing up of a
certain dirty fragment of paper--even that being effected only by an
appeal to the General's compassion, on the score of the unhappy fate
which, otherwise, would befall Chichikov's wife and children (who,
luckily, had no existence in fact).

"Well," said Chichikov to himself, "I have done my best, and now
everything has failed. Lamenting my misfortune won't help me, but only
action." And with that he decided to begin his career anew, and once
more to arm himself with the weapons of patience and self-denial. The
better to effect this, he had, of course to remove to another town.
Yet somehow, for a while, things miscarried. More than once he found
himself forced to exchange one post for another, and at the briefest
of notice; and all of them were posts of the meanest, the most
wretched, order. Yet, being a man of the utmost nicety of feeling, the
fact that he found himself rubbing shoulders with anything but nice
companions did not prevent him from preserving intact his innate love
of what was decent and seemly, or from cherishing the instinct which
led him to hanker after office fittings of lacquered wood, with
neatness and orderliness everywhere. Nor did he at any time permit a
foul word to creep into his speech, and would feel hurt even if in the
speech of others there occurred a scornful reference to anything which
pertained to rank and dignity. Also, the reader will be pleased to
know that our hero changed his linen every other day, and in summer,
when the weather was very hot, EVERY day, seeing that the very
faintest suspicion of an unpleasant odour offended his fastidiousness.
For the same reason it was his custom, before being valeted by
Petrushka, always to plug his nostrils with a couple of cloves. In
short, there were many occasions when his nerves suffered rackings as
cruel as a young girl's, and so helped to increase his disgust at
having once more to associate with men who set no store by the
decencies of life. Yet, though he braced himself to the task, this
period of adversity told upon his health, and he even grew a trifle
shabby. More than once, on happening to catch sight of himself in the
mirror, he could not forbear exclaiming: "Holy Mother of God, but what
a nasty-looking brute I have become!" and for a long while afterwards
could not with anything like sang-froid contemplate his reflection.
Yet throughout he bore up stoutly and patiently--and ended by being
transferred to the Customs Department. It may be said that the
department had long constituted the secret goal of his ambition, for
he had noted the foreign elegancies with which its officials always
contrived to provide themselves, and had also observed that invariably
they were able to send presents of china and cambric to their sisters
and aunts--well, to their lady friends generally. Yes, more than once
he had said to himself with a sigh: "THAT is the department to which
I ought to belong, for, given a town near the frontier, and a sensible
set of colleagues, I might be able to fit myself out with excellent
linen shirts." Also, it may be said that most frequently of all had
his thoughts turned towards a certain quality of French soap which
imparted a peculiar whiteness to the skin and a peerless freshness to
the cheeks. Its name is known to God alone, but at least it was to be
procured only in the immediate neighbourhood of the frontier. So, as I
say, Chichikov had long felt a leaning towards the Customs, but for a
time had been restrained from applying for the same by the various
current advantages of the Building Commission; since rightly he had
adjudged the latter to constitute a bird in the hand, and the former
to constitute only a bird in the bush. But now he decided that, come
what might, into the Customs he must make his way. And that way he
made, and then applied himself to his new duties with a zeal born of
the fact that he realised that fortune had specially marked him out
for a Customs officer. Indeed, such activity, perspicuity, and
ubiquity as his had never been seen or thought of. Within four weeks
at the most he had so thoroughly got his hand in that he was
conversant with Customs procedure in every detail. Not only could he
weigh and measure, but also he could divine from an invoice how many
arshins of cloth or other material a given piece contained, and then,
taking a roll of the latter in his hand, could specify at once the
number of pounds at which it would tip the scale. As for searchings,
well, even his colleagues had to admit that he possessed the nose of a
veritable bloodhound, and that it was impossible not to marvel at the
patience wherewith he would try every button of the suspected person,
yet preserve, throughout, a deadly politeness and an icy sang-froid
which surpass belief. And while the searched were raging, and foaming
at the mouth, and feeling that they would give worlds to alter his
smiling exterior with a good, resounding slap, he would move not a
muscle of his face, nor abate by a jot the urbanity of his demeanour,
as he murmured, "Do you mind so far incommoding yourself as to stand
up?" or "Pray step into the next room, madam, where the wife of one of
our staff will attend you," or "Pray allow me to slip this penknife of
mine into the lining of your coat" (after which he would extract
thence shawls and towels with as much nonchalance as he would have
done from his own travelling-trunk). Even his superiors acknowledged
him to be a devil at the job, rather than a human being, so perfect
was his instinct for looking into cart-wheels, carriage-poles, horses'
ears, and places whither an author ought not to penetrate even in
thought--places whither only a Customs official is permitted to go.
The result was that the wretched traveller who had just crossed the
frontier would, within a few minutes, become wholly at sea, and,
wiping away the perspiration, and breaking out into body flushes,
would be reduced to crossing himself and muttering, "Well, well,
well!" In fact, such a traveller would feel in the position of a
schoolboy who, having been summoned to the presence of the headmaster
for the ostensible purpose of being give an order, has found that he
receives, instead, a sound flogging. In short, for some time Chichikov
made it impossible for smugglers to earn a living. In particular, he
reduced Polish Jewry almost to despair, so invincible, so almost
unnatural, was the rectitude, the incorruptibility which led him to
refrain from converting himself into a small capitalist with the aid
of confiscated goods and articles which, "to save excessive clerical
labour," had failed to be handed over to the Government. Also, without
saying it goes that such phenomenally zealous and disinterested
service attracted general astonishment, and, eventually, the notice of
the authorities; whereupon he received promotion, and followed that up
by mooting a scheme for the infallible detection of contrabandists,
provided that he could be furnished with the necessary authority for
carrying out the same. At once such authority was accorded him, as
also unlimited power to conduct every species of search and
investigation. And that was all he wanted. It happened that previously
there had been formed a well-found association for smuggling on
regular, carefully prepared lines, and that this daring scheme seemed
to promise profit to the extent of some millions of money: yet, though
he had long had knowledge of it, Chichikov had said to the
association's emissaries, when sent to buy him over, "The time is not
yet." But now that he had got all the reins into his hands, he sent
word of the fact to the gang, and with it the remark, "The time is
NOW." Nor was he wrong in his calculations, for, within the space of
a year, he had acquired what he could not have made during twenty
years of non-fraudulent service. With similar sagacity he had, during
his early days in the department, declined altogether to enter into
relations with the association, for the reason that he had then been a
mere cipher, and would have come in for nothing large in the way of
takings; but now--well, now it was another matter altogether, and he
could dictate what terms he liked. Moreover, that the affair might
progress the more smoothly, he suborned a fellow tchinovnik of the
type which, in spite of grey hairs, stands powerless against
temptation; and, the contract concluded, the association duly
proceeded to business. Certainly business began brilliantly. But
probably most of my readers are familiar with the oft-repeated story
of the passage of Spanish sheep across the frontier in double fleeces
which carried between their outer layers and their inner enough lace
of Brabant to sell to the tune of millions of roubles; wherefore I
will not recount the story again beyond saying that those journeys
took place just when Chichikov had become head of the Customs, and
that, had he not a hand in the enterprise, not all the Jews in the
world could have brought it to success. By the time that three or four
of these ovine invasions had taken place, Chichikov and his accomplice
had come to be the possessors of four hundred thousand roubles apiece;
while some even aver that the former's gains totalled half a million,
owing to the greater industry which he had displayed in the matter.
Nor can any one but God say to what a figure the fortunes of the pair
might not eventually have attained, had not an awkward contretemps cut
right across their arrangements. That is to say, for some reason or
another the devil so far deprived these tchinovnik-conspirators of
sense as to make them come to words with one another, and then to
engage in a quarrel. Beginning with a heated argument, this quarrel
reached the point of Chichikov--who was, possibly, a trifle
tipsy--calling his colleague a priest's son; and though that
description of the person so addressed was perfectly accurate, he
chose to take offence, and to answer Chichikov with the words (loudly
and incisively uttered), "It is YOU who have a priest for your
father," and to add to that (the more to incense his companion), "Yes,
mark you! THAT is how it is." Yet, though he had thus turned the
tables upon Chichikov with a tu quoque, and then capped that exploit
with the words last quoted, the offended tchinovnik could not remain
satisfied, but went on to send in an anonymous document to the
authorities. On the other hand, some aver that it was over a woman
that the pair fell out--over a woman who, to quote the phrase then
current among the staff of the Customs Department, was "as fresh and
as strong as the pulp of a turnip," and that night-birds were hired to
assault our hero in a dark alley, and that the scheme miscarried, and
that in any case both Chichikov and his friend had been deceived,
seeing that the person to whom the lady had really accorded her
favours was a certain staff-captain named Shamsharev. However, only
God knows the truth of the matter. Let the inquisitive reader ferret
it out for himself. The fact remains that a complete exposure of the
dealings with the contrabandists followed, and that the two
tchinovniks were put to the question, deprived of their property, and
made to formulate in writing all that they had done. Against this
thunderbolt of fortune the State Councillor could make no headway, and
in some retired spot or another sank into oblivion; but Chichikov put
a brave face upon the matter, for, in spite of the authorities' best
efforts to smell out his gains, he had contrived to conceal a portion
of them, and also resorted to every subtle trick of intellect which
could possibly be employed by an experienced man of the world who has
a wide knowledge of his fellows. Nothing which could be effected by
pleasantness of demeanour, by moving oratory, by clouds of flattery,
and by the occasional insertion of a coin into a palm did he leave
undone; with the result that he was retired with less ignominy than
was his companion, and escaped actual trial on a criminal charge. Yet
he issued stripped of all his capital, stripped of his imported
effects, stripped of everything. That is to say, all that remained to
him consisted of ten thousand roubles which he had stored against a
rainy day, two dozen linen shirts, a small britchka of the type used
by bachelors, and two serving-men named Selifan and Petrushka. Yes,
and an impulse of kindness moved the tchinovniks of the Customs also
to set aside for him a few cakes of the soap which he had found so
excellent for the freshness of the cheeks. Thus once more our hero
found himself stranded. And what an accumulation of misfortunes had
descended upon his head!--though, true, he termed them "suffering in
the Service in the cause of Truth." Certainly one would have thought
that, after these buffetings and trials and changes of fortune--after
this taste of the sorrows of life--he and his precious ten thousand
roubles would have withdrawn to some peaceful corner in a provincial
town, where, clad in a stuff dressing-gown, he could have sat and
listened to the peasants quarrelling on festival days, or (for the
sake of a breath of fresh air) have gone in person to the poulterer's
to finger chickens for soup, and so have spent a quiet, but not wholly
useless, existence; but nothing of the kind took place, and therein we
must do justice to the strength of his character. In other words,
although he had undergone what, to the majority of men, would have
meant ruin and discouragement and a shattering of ideals, he still
preserved his energy. True, downcast and angry, and full of resentment
against the world in general, he felt furious with the injustice of
fate, and dissatisfied with the dealings of men; yet he could not
forbear courting additional experiences. In short, the patience which
he displayed was such as to make the wooden persistency of the
German--a persistency merely due to the slow, lethargic circulation of
the Teuton's blood--seem nothing at all, seeing that by nature
Chichikov's blood flowed strongly, and that he had to employ much
force of will to curb within himself those elements which longed to
burst forth and revel in freedom. He thought things over, and, as he
did so, a certain spice of reason appeared in his reflections.

"How have I come to be what I am?" he said to himself. "Why has
misfortune overtaken me in this way? Never have I wronged a poor
person, or robbed a widow, or turned any one out of doors: I have
always been careful only to take advantage of those who possess more
than their share. Moreover, I have never gleaned anywhere but where
every one else was gleaning; and, had I not done so, others would have
gleaned in my place. Why, then, should those others be prospering, and
I be sunk as low as a worm? What am I? What am I good for? How can I,
in future, hope to look any honest father of a family in the face? How
shall I escape being tortured with the thought that I am cumbering the
ground? What, in the years to come, will my children say, save that
'our father was a brute, for he left us nothing to live upon?'"

Here I may remark that we have seen how much thought Chichikov devoted
to his future descendants. Indeed, had not there been constantly
recurring to his mind the insistent question, "What will my children
say?" he might not have plunged into the affair so deeply.
Nevertheless, like a wary cat which glances hither and thither to see
whether its mistress be not coming before it can make off with
whatsoever first falls to its paw (butter, fat, lard, a duck, or
anything else), so our future founder of a family continued, though
weeping and bewailing his lot, to let not a single detail escape his
eye. That is to say, he retained his wits ever in a state of activity,
and kept his brain constantly working. All that he required was a
plan. Once more he pulled himself together, once more he embarked upon
a life of toil, once more he stinted himself in everything, once more
he left clean and decent surroundings for a dirty, mean existence. In
other words, until something better should turn up, he embraced the
calling of an ordinary attorney--a calling which, not then possessed
of a civic status, was jostled on very side, enjoyed little respect
at the hands of the minor legal fry (or, indeed, at its own), and
perforce met with universal slights and rudeness. But sheer necessity
compelled Chichikov to face these things. Among commissions entrusted
to him was that of placing in the hands of the Public Trustee several
hundred peasants who belonged to a ruined estate. The estate had
reached its parlous condition through cattle disease, through rascally
bailiffs, through failures of the harvest, through such epidemic
diseases that had killed off the best workmen, and, last, but not
least, through the senseless conduct of the owner himself, who had
furnished a house in Moscow in the latest style, and then squandered
his every kopeck, so that nothing was left for his further
maintenance, and it became necessary to mortgage the
remains--including the peasants--of the estate. In those days mortgage
to the Treasury was an innovation looked upon with reserve, and, as
attorney in the matter, Chichikov had first of all to "entertain"
every official concerned (we know that, unless that be previously
done, unless a whole bottle of madeira first be emptied down each
clerical throat, not the smallest legal affair can be carried
through), and to explain, for the barring of future attachments, that
half of the peasants were dead.

"And are they entered on the revision lists?" asked the secretary.
"Yes," replied Chichikov. "Then what are you boggling at?" continued
the Secretary. "Should one soul die, another will be born, and in time
grow up to take the first one's place." Upon that there dawned on our
hero one of the most inspired ideas which ever entered the human
brain. "What a simpleton I am!" he thought to himself. "Here am I
looking about for my mittens when all the time I have got them tucked
into my belt. Why, were I myself to buy up a few souls which are
dead--to buy them before a new revision list shall have been made, the
Council of Public Trust might pay me two hundred roubles apiece for
them, and I might find myself with, say, a capital of two hundred
thousand roubles! The present moment is particularly propitious,
since in various parts of the country there has been an epidemic, and,
glory be to God, a large number of souls have died of it. Nowadays
landowners have taken to card-playing and junketting and wasting their
money, or to joining the Civil Service in St. Petersburg; consequently
their estates are going to rack and ruin, and being managed in any
sort of fashion, and succeeding in paying their dues with greater
difficulty each year. That being so, not a man of the lot but would
gladly surrender to me his dead souls rather than continue paying the
poll-tax; and in this fashion I might make--well, not a few kopecks.
Of course there are difficulties, and, to avoid creating a scandal, I
should need to employ plenty of finesse; but man was given his brain
to USE, not to neglect. One good point about the scheme is that it
will seem so improbable that in case of an accident, no one in the
world will believe in it. True, it is illegal to buy or mortgage
peasants without land, but I can easily pretend to be buying them only
for transferment elsewhere. Land is to be acquired in the provinces of
Taurida and Kherson almost for nothing, provided that one undertakes
subsequently to colonise it; so to Kherson I will 'transfer' them, and
long may they live there! And the removal of my dead souls shall be
carried out in the strictest legal form; and if the authorities should
want confirmation by testimony, I shall produce a letter signed by my
own superintendent of the Khersonian rural police--that is to say, by
myself. Lastly, the supposed village in Kherson shall be called
Chichikovoe--better still Pavlovskoe, according to my Christian name."

In this fashion there germinated in our hero's brain that strange
scheme for which the reader may or may not be grateful, but for which
the author certainly is so, seeing that, had it never occurred to
Chichikov, this story would never have seen the light.

After crossing himself, according to the Russian custom, Chichikov set
about carrying out his enterprise. On pretence of selecting a place
wherein to settle, he started forth to inspect various corners of the
Russian Empire, but more especially those which had suffered from such
unfortunate accidents as failures of the harvest, a high rate of
mortality, or whatsoever else might enable him to purchase souls at
the lowest possible rate. But he did not tackle his landowners
haphazard: he rather selected such of them as seemed more particularly
suited to his taste, or with whom he might with the least possible
trouble conclude identical agreements; though, in the first instance,
he always tried, by getting on terms of acquaintanceship--better
still, of friendship--with them, to acquire the souls for nothing, and
so to avoid purchase at all. In passing, my readers must not blame me
if the characters whom they have encountered in these pages have not
been altogether to their liking. The fault is Chichikov's rather than
mine, for he is the master, and where he leads we must follow. Also,
should my readers gird at me for a certain dimness and want of clarity
in my principal characters and actors, that will be tantamount to
saying that never do the broad tendency and the general scope of a
work become immediately apparent. Similarly does the entry to every
town--the entry even to the Capital itself--convey to the traveller
such an impression of vagueness that at first everything looks grey
and monotonous, and the lines of smoky factories and workshops seem
never to be coming to an end; but in time there will begin also to
stand out the outlines of six-storied mansions, and of shops and
balconies, and wide perspectives of streets, and a medley of steeples,
columns, statues, and turrets--the whole framed in rattle and roar and
the infinite wonders which the hand and the brain of men have
conceived. Of the manner in which Chichikov's first purchases were
made the reader is aware. Subsequently he will see also how the affair
progressed, and with what success or failure our hero met, and how
Chichikov was called upon to decide and to overcome even more
difficult problems than the foregoing, and by what colossal forces the
levers of his far-flung tale are moved, and how eventually the horizon
will become extended until everything assumes a grandiose and a
lyrical tendency. Yes, many a verst of road remains to be travelled by
a party made up of an elderly gentleman, a britchka of the kind
affected by bachelors, a valet named Petrushka, a coachman named
Selifan, and three horses which, from the Assessor to the skewbald,
are known to us individually by name. Again, although I have given a
full description of our hero's exterior (such as it is), I may yet be
asked for an inclusive definition also of his moral personality. That
he is no hero compounded of virtues and perfections must be already
clear. Then WHAT is he? A villain? Why should we call him a villain?
Why should we be so hard upon a fellow man? In these days our villains
have ceased to exist. Rather it would be fairer to call him an
ACQUIRER. The love of acquisition, the love of gain, is a fault
common to many, and gives rise to many and many a transaction of the
kind generally known as "not strictly honourable." True, such a
character contains an element of ugliness, and the same reader who, on
his journey through life, would sit at the board of a character of
this kind, and spend a most agreeable time with him, would be the
first to look at him askance if he should appear in the guise of the
hero of a novel or a play. But wise is the reader who, on meeting such
a character, scans him carefully, and, instead of shrinking from him
with distaste, probes him to the springs of his being. The human
personality contains nothing which may not, in the twinkling of an
eye, become altogether changed--nothing in which, before you can look
round, there may not spring to birth some cankerous worm which is
destined to suck thence the essential juice. Yes, it is a common thing
to see not only an overmastering passion, but also a passion of the
most petty order, arise in a man who was born to better things, and
lead him both to forget his greatest and most sacred obligations, and
to see only in the veriest trifles the Great and the Holy. For human
passions are as numberless as is the sand of the seashore, and go on
to become his most insistent of masters. Happy, therefore, the man who
may choose from among the gamut of human passions one which is noble!
Hour by hour will that instinct grow and multiply in its measureless
beneficence; hour by hour will it sink deeper and deeper into the
infinite paradise of his soul. But there are passions of which a man
cannot rid himself, seeing that they are born with him at his birth,
and he has no power to abjure them. Higher powers govern those
passions, and in them is something which will call to him, and refuse
to be silenced, to the end of his life. Yes, whether in a guise of
darkness, or whether in a guise which will become converted into a
light to lighten the world, they will and must attain their
consummation on life's field: and in either case they have been evoked
for man's good. In the same way may the passion which drew our
Chichikov onwards have been one that was independent of himself; in
the same way may there have lurked even in his cold essence something
which will one day cause men to humble themselves in the dust before
the infinite wisdom of God.

Yet that folk should be dissatisfied with my hero matters nothing.
What matters is the fact that, under different circumstances, their
approval could have been taken as a foregone conclusion. That is to
say, had not the author pried over-deeply into Chichikov's soul, nor
stirred up in its depths what shunned and lay hidden from the light,
nor disclosed those of his hero's thoughts which that hero would have
not have disclosed even to his most intimate friend; had the author,
indeed, exhibited Chichikov just as he exhibited himself to the
townsmen of N. and Manilov and the rest; well, then we may rest
assured that every reader would have been delighted with him, and have
voted him a most interesting person. For it is not nearly so necessary
that Chichikov should figure before the reader as though his form and
person were actually present to the eye as that, on concluding a
perusal of this work, the reader should be able to return, unharrowed
in soul, to that cult of the card-table which is the solace and
delight of all good Russians. Yes, readers of this book, none of you
really care to see humanity revealed in its nakedness. "Why should we
do so?" you say. "What would be the use of it? Do we not know for
ourselves that human life contains much that is gross and
contemptible? Do we not with our own eyes have to look upon much that
is anything but comforting? Far better would it be if you would put
before us what is comely and attractive, so that we might forget
ourselves a little." In the same fashion does a landowner say to his
bailiff: "Why do you come and tell me that the affairs of my estate
are in a bad way? I know that without YOUR help. Have you nothing
else to tell me? Kindly allow me to forget the fact, or else to remain
in ignorance of it, and I shall be much obliged to you." Whereafter
the said landowner probably proceeds to spend on his diversion the
money which ought to have gone towards the rehabilitation of his affairs.

Possibly the author may also incur censure at the hands of those
so-called "patriots" who sit quietly in corners, and become
capitalists through making fortunes at the expense of others. Yes, let
but something which they conceive to be derogatory to their country
occur--for instance, let there be published some book which voices the
bitter truth--and out they will come from their hiding-places like a
spider which perceives a fly to be caught in its web. "Is it well to
proclaim this to the world, and to set folk talking about it?" they
will cry. "What you have described touches US, is OUR affair. Is
conduct of that kind right? What will foreigners say? Does any one
care calmly to sit by and hear himself traduced? Why should you lead
foreigners to suppose that all is not well with us, and that we are
not patriotic?" Well, to these sage remarks no answer can really be
returned, especially to such of the above as refer to foreign opinion.
But see here. There once lived in a remote corner of Russia two
natives of the region indicated. One of those natives was a good man
named Kifa Mokievitch, and a man of kindly disposition; a man who went
through life in a dressing-gown, and paid no heed to his household,
for the reason that his whole being was centred upon the province of
speculation, and that, in particular, he was preoccupied with a
philosophical problem usually stated by him thus: "A beast," he would
say, "is born naked. Now, why should that be? Why should not a beast
be born as a bird is born--that is to say, through the process of
being hatched from an egg? Nature is beyond the understanding, however
much one may probe her." This was the substance of Kifa Mokievitch's
reflections. But herein is not the chief point. The other of the pair
was a fellow named Mofi Kifovitch, and son to the first named. He was
what we Russians call a "hero," and while his father was pondering the
parturition of beasts, his, the son's, lusty, twenty-year-old
temperament was violently struggling for development. Yet that son
could tackle nothing without some accident occurring. At one moment
would he crack some one's fingers in half, and at another would he
raise a bump on somebody's nose; so that both at home and abroad every
one and everything--from the serving-maid to the yard-dog--fled on his
approach, and even the bed in his bedroom became shattered to
splinters. Such was Mofi Kifovitch; and with it all he had a kindly
soul. But herein is not the chief point. "Good sir, good Kifa
Mokievitch," servants and neighbours would come and say to the father,
"what are you going to do about your Moki Kifovitch? We get no rest
from him, he is so above himself." "That is only his play, that is
only his play," the father would reply. "What else can you expect? It
is too late now to start a quarrel with him, and, moreover, every one
would accuse me of harshness. True, he is a little conceited; but,
were I to reprove him in public, the whole thing would become common
talk, and folk would begin giving him a dog's name. And if they did
that, would not their opinion touch me also, seeing that I am his
father? Also, I am busy with philosophy, and have no time for such
things. Lastly, Moki Kifovitch is my son, and very dear to my heart."
And, beating his breast, Kifa Mokievitch again asserted that, even
though his son should elect to continue his pranks, it would not be
for HIM, for the father, to proclaim the fact, or to fall out with
his offspring. And, this expression of paternal feeling uttered, Kifa
Mokievitch left Moki Kifovitch to his heroic exploits, and himself
returned to his beloved subject of speculation, which now included
also the problem, "Suppose elephants were to take to being hatched
from eggs, would not the shell of such eggs be of a thickness proof
against cannonballs, and necessitate the invention of some new type of
firearm?" Thus at the end of this little story we have these two
denizens of a peaceful corner of Russia looking thence, as from a
window, in less terror of doing what was scandalous than of having it
SAID of them that they were acting scandalously. Yes, the feeling
animating our so-called "patriots" is not true patriotism at all.
Something else lies beneath it. Who, if not an author, is to speak
aloud the truth? Men like you, my pseudo-patriots, stand in dread of
the eye which is able to discern, yet shrink from using your own, and
prefer, rather, to glance at everything unheedingly. Yes, after
laughing heartily over Chichikov's misadventures, and perhaps even
commending the author for his dexterity of observation and pretty turn
of wit, you will look at yourselves with redoubled pride and a
self-satisfied smile, and add: "Well, we agree that in certain parts
of the provinces there exists strange and ridiculous individuals, as
well as unconscionable rascals."

Yet which of you, when quiet, and alone, and engaged in solitary
self-communion, would not do well to probe YOUR OWN souls, and to
put to YOURSELVES the solemn question, "Is there not in ME an
element of Chichikov?" For how should there not be? Which of you is
not liable at any moment to be passed in the street by an acquaintance
who, nudging his neighbour, may say of you, with a barely suppressed
sneer: "Look! there goes Chichikov! That is Chichikov who has just
gone by!"

But here are we talking at the top of our voices whilst all the time
our hero lies slumbering in his britchka! Indeed, his name has been
repeated so often during the recital of his life's history that he
must almost have heard us! And at any time he is an irritable,
irascible fellow when spoken of with disrespect. True, to the reader
Chichikov's displeasure cannot matter a jot; but for the author it
would mean ruin to quarrel with his hero, seeing that, arm in arm,
Chichikov and he have yet far to go.

"Tut, tut, tut!" came in a shout from Chichikov. "Hi, Selifan!"

"What is it?" came the reply, uttered with a drawl.

"What is it? Why, how dare you drive like that? Come! Bestir yourself
a little!"

And indeed, Selifan had long been sitting with half-closed eyes, and
hands which bestowed no encouragement upon his somnolent steeds save
an occasional flicking of the reins against their flanks; whilst
Petrushka had lost his cap, and was leaning backwards until his head
had come to rest against Chichikov's knees--a position which
necessitated his being awakened with a cuff. Selifan also roused
himself, and apportioned to the skewbald a few cuts across the back of
a kind which at least had the effect of inciting that animal to trot;
and when, presently, the other two horses followed their companion's
example, the light britchka moved forwards like a piece of
thistledown. Selifan flourished his whip and shouted, "Hi, hi!" as the
inequalities of the road jerked him vertically on his seat; and
meanwhile, reclining against the leather cushions of the vehicle's
interior, Chichikov smiled with gratification at the sensation of
driving fast. For what Russian does not love to drive fast? Which of
us does not at times yearn to give his horses their head, and to let
them go, and to cry, "To the devil with the world!"? At such moments a
great force seems to uplift one as on wings; and one flies, and
everything else flies, but contrariwise--both the verst stones, and
traders riding on the shafts of their waggons, and the forest with
dark lines of spruce and fir amid which may be heard the axe of the
woodcutter and the croaking of the raven. Yes, out of a dim, remote
distance the road comes towards one, and while nothing save the sky
and the light clouds through which the moon is cleaving her way seem
halted, the brief glimpses wherein one can discern nothing clearly
have in them a pervading touch of mystery. Ah, troika, troika, swift
as a bird, who was it first invented you? Only among a hardy race of
folk can you have come to birth--only in a land which, though poor and
rough, lies spread over half the world, and spans versts the counting
whereof would leave one with aching eyes. Nor are you a
modishly-fashioned vehicle of the road--a thing of clamps and iron.
Rather, you are a vehicle but shapen and fitted with the axe or chisel
of some handy peasant of Yaroslav. Nor are you driven by a coachman
clothed in German livery, but by a man bearded and mittened. See him
as he mounts, and flourishes his whip, and breaks into a long-drawn
song! Away like the wind go the horses, and the wheels, with their
spokes, become transparent circles, and the road seems to quiver
beneath them, and a pedestrian, with a cry of astonishment, halts to
watch the vehicle as it flies, flies, flies on its way until it
becomes lost on the ultimate horizon--a speck amid a cloud of dust!

And you, Russia of mine--are not you also speeding like a troika which
nought can overtake? Is not the road smoking beneath your wheels, and
the bridges thundering as you cross them, and everything being left in
the rear, and the spectators, struck with the portent, halting to
wonder whether you be not a thunderbolt launched from heaven? What
does that awe-inspiring progress of yours foretell? What is the
unknown force which lies within your mysterious steeds? Surely the
winds themselves must abide in their manes, and every vein in their
bodies be an ear stretched to catch the celestial message which bids
them, with iron-girded breasts, and hooves which barely touch the
earth as they gallop, fly forward on a mission of God? Whither, then,
are you speeding, O Russia of mine? Whither? Answer me! But no answer
comes--only the weird sound of your collar-bells. Rent into a thousand
shreds, the air roars past you, for you are overtaking the whole
world, and shall one day force all nations, all empires to stand
aside, to give you way!




Why do I so persistently paint the poverty, the imperfections of
Russian life, and delve into the remotest depths, the most retired
holes and corners, of our Empire for my subjects? The answer is that
there is nothing else to be done when an author's idiosyncrasy happens
to incline him that way. So again we find ourselves in a retired spot.
But what a spot!

Imagine, if you can, a mountain range like a gigantic fortress, with
embrasures and bastions which appear to soar a thousand versts towards
the heights of heaven, and, towering grandly over a boundless expanse
of plain, are broken up into precipitous, overhanging limestone
cliffs. Here and there those cliffs are seamed with water-courses and
gullies, while at other points they are rounded off into spurs of
green--spurs now coated with fleece-like tufts of young undergrowth,
now studded with the stumps of felled trees, now covered with timber
which has, by some miracle, escaped the woodman's axe. Also, a river
winds awhile between its banks, then leaves the meadow land, divides
into runlets (all flashing in the sun like fire), plunges, re-united,
into the midst of a thicket of elder, birth, and pine, and, lastly,
speeds triumphantly past bridges and mills and weirs which seem to be
lying in wait for it at every turn.

At one particular spot the steep flank of the mountain range is
covered with billowy verdure of denser growth than the rest; and here
the aid of skilful planting, added to the shelter afforded by a rugged
ravine, has enabled the flora of north and south so to be brought
together that, twined about with sinuous hop-tendrils, the oak, the
spruce fir, the wild pear, the maple, the cherry, the thorn, and the
mountain ash either assist or check one another's growth, and
everywhere cover the declivity with their straggling profusion. Also,
at the edge of the summit there can be seen mingling with the green of
the trees the red roofs of a manorial homestead, while behind the
upper stories of the mansion proper and its carved balcony and a great
semi-circular window there gleam the tiles and gables of some
peasants' huts. Lastly, over this combination of trees and roofs there
rises--overtopping everything with its gilded, sparkling steeple--an
old village church. On each of its pinnacles a cross of carved gilt is
stayed with supports of similar gilding and design; with the result
that from a distance the gilded portions have the effect of hanging
without visible agency in the air. And the whole--the three successive
tiers of woodland, roofs, and crosses whole--lies exquisitely mirrored
in the river below, where hollow willows, grotesquely shaped (some of
them rooted on the river's banks, and some in the water itself, and
all drooping their branches until their leaves have formed a tangle
with the water lilies which float on the surface), seem to be gazing
at the marvellous reflection at their feet.

Thus the view from below is beautiful indeed. But the view from above
is even better. No guest, no visitor, could stand on the balcony of
the mansion and remain indifferent. So boundless is the panorama
revealed that surprise would cause him to catch at his breath, and
exclaim: "Lord of Heaven, but what a prospect!" Beyond meadows studded
with spinneys and water-mills lie forests belted with green; while
beyond, again, there can be seen showing through the slightly misty
air strips of yellow heath, and, again, wide-rolling forests (as blue
as the sea or a cloud), and more heath, paler than the first, but
still yellow. Finally, on the far horizon a range of chalk-topped
hills gleams white, even in dull weather, as though it were lightened
with perpetual sunshine; and here and there on the dazzling whiteness
of its lower slopes some plaster-like, nebulous patches represent
far-off villages which lie too remote for the eye to discern their
details. Indeed, only when the sunlight touches a steeple to gold does
one realise that each such patch is a human settlement. Finally, all
is wrapped in an immensity of silence which even the far, faint echoes
of persons singing in the void of the plain cannot shatter.

Even after gazing at the spectacle for a couple of hours or so, the
visitor would still find nothing to say, save: "Lord of Heaven, but
what a prospect!" Then who is the dweller in, the proprietor of, this
manor--a manor to which, as to an impregnable fortress, entrance
cannot be gained from the side where we have been standing, but only
from the other approach, where a few scattered oaks offer hospitable
welcome to the visitor, and then, spreading above him their spacious
branches (as in friendly embrace), accompany him to the facade of the
mansion whose top we have been regarding from the reverse aspect, but
which now stands frontwise on to us, and has, on one side of it, a row
of peasants' huts with red tiles and carved gables, and, on the other,
the village church, with those glittering golden crosses and gilded
open-work charms which seem to hang suspended in the air? Yes,
indeed!--to what fortunate individual does this corner of the world
belong? It belongs to Andrei Ivanovitch Tientietnikov, landowner of
the canton of Tremalakhan, and, withal, a bachelor of about thirty.

Should my lady readers ask of me what manner of man is Tientietnikov,
and what are his attributes and peculiarities, I should refer them to
his neighbours. Of these, a member of the almost extinct tribe of
intelligent staff officers on the retired list once summed up
Tientietnikov in the phrase, "He is an absolute blockhead;" while a
General who resided ten versts away was heard to remark that "he is a
young man who, though not exactly a fool, has at least too much
crowded into his head. I myself might have been of use to him, for not
only do I maintain certain connections with St. Petersburg, but
also--" And the General left his sentence unfinished. Thirdly, a
captain-superintendent of rural police happened to remark in the
course of conversation: "To-morrow I must go and see Tientietnikov
about his arrears." Lastly, a peasant of Tientietnikov's own village,
when asked what his barin was like, returned no answer at all. All of
which would appear to show that Tientietnikov was not exactly looked
upon with favour.

To speak dispassionately, however, he was not a bad sort of
fellow--merely a star-gazer; and since the world contains many
watchers of the skies, why should Tientietnikov not have been one of
them? However, let me describe in detail a specimen day of his
existence--one that will closely resemble the rest, and then the
reader will be enabled to judge of Tientietnikov's character, and how
far his life corresponded to the beauties of nature with which he
lived surrounded.

On the morning of the specimen day in question he awoke very late,
and, raising himself to a sitting posture, rubbed his eyes. And since
those eyes were small, the process of rubbing them occupied a very
long time, and throughout its continuance there stood waiting by the
door his valet, Mikhailo, armed with a towel and basin. For one hour,
for two hours, did poor Mikhailo stand there: then he departed to the
kitchen, and returned to find his master still rubbing his eyes as he
sat on the bed. At length, however, Tientietnikov rose, washed
himself, donned a dressing-gown, and moved into the drawing-room for
morning tea, coffee, cocoa, and warm milk; of all of which he partook
but sparingly, while munching a piece of bread, and scattering tobacco
ash with complete insouciance. Two hours did he sit over this meal,
then poured himself out another cup of the rapidly cooling tea, and
walked to the window. This faced the courtyard, and outside it, as
usual, there took place the following daily altercation between a serf
named Grigory (who purported to act as butler) and the housekeeper,

Grigory. Ah, you nuisance, you good-for-nothing, you had better hold
your stupid tongue.

Perfilievna. Yes; and don't you wish that I would?

Grigory. What? You so thick with that bailiff of yours, you
housekeeping jade!

Perfilievna. Nay, he is as big a thief as you are. Do you think the
barin doesn't know you? And there he is! He must have heard

Grigory. Where?

Perfilievna. There--sitting by the window, and looking at us!

Next, to complete the hubbub, a serf child which had been clouted by
its mother broke out into a bawl, while a borzoi puppy which had
happened to get splashed with boiling water by the cook fell to
yelping vociferously. In short, the place soon became a babel of
shouts and squeals, and, after watching and listening for a time, the
barin found it so impossible to concentrate his mind upon anything
that he sent out word that the noise would have to be abated.

The next item was that, a couple of hours before luncheon time, he
withdrew to his study, to set about employing himself upon a weighty
work which was to consider Russia from every point of view: from the
political, from the philosophical, and from the religious, as well as
to resolve various problems which had arisen to confront the Empire,
and to define clearly the great future to which the country stood
ordained. In short, it was to be the species of compilation in which
the man of the day so much delights. Yet the colossal undertaking had
progressed but little beyond the sphere of projection, since, after a
pen had been gnawed awhile, and a few strokes had been committed to
paper, the whole would be laid aside in favour of the reading of some
book; and that reading would continue also during luncheon and be
followed by the lighting of a pipe, the playing of a solitary game of
chess, and the doing of more or less nothing for the rest of the day.

The foregoing will give the reader a pretty clear idea of the manner
in which it was possible for this man of thirty-three to waste his
time. Clad constantly in slippers and a dressing-gown, Tientietnikov
never went out, never indulged in any form of dissipation, and never
walked upstairs. Nothing did he care for fresh air, and would bestow
not a passing glance upon all those beauties of the countryside which
moved visitors to such ecstatic admiration. From this the reader will
see that Andrei Ivanovitch Tientietnikov belonged to that band of
sluggards whom we always have with us, and who, whatever be their
present appellation, used to be known by the nicknames of "lollopers,"
"bed pressers," and "marmots." Whether the type is a type originating
at birth, or a type resulting from untoward circumstances in later
life, it is impossible to say. A better course than to attempt to
answer that question would be to recount the story of Tientietnikov's
boyhood and upbringing.

Everything connected with the latter seemed to promise success, for at
twelve years of age the boy--keen-witted, but dreamy of temperament,
and inclined to delicacy--was sent to an educational establishment
presided over by an exceptional type of master. The idol of his
pupils, and the admiration of his assistants, Alexander Petrovitch
was gifted with an extraordinary measure of good sense. How thoroughly
he knew the peculiarities of the Russian of his day! How well he
understood boys! How capable he was of drawing them out! Not a
practical joker in the school but, after perpetrating a prank, would
voluntarily approach his preceptor and make to him free confession.
True, the preceptor would put a stern face upon the matter, yet the
culprit would depart with head held higher, not lower, than before,
since in Alexander Petrovitch there was something which
heartened--something which seemed to say to a delinquent: "Forward
you! Rise to your feet again, even though you have fallen!" Not
lectures on good behaviour was it, therefore, that fell from his lips,
but rather the injunction, "I want to see intelligence, and nothing
else. The boy who devotes his attention to becoming clever will never
play the fool, for under such circumstances, folly disappears of
itself." And so folly did, for the boy who failed to strive in the
desired direction incurred the contempt of all his comrades, and even
dunces and fools of senior standing did not dare to raise a finger
when saluted by their juniors with opprobrious epithets. Yet "This is
too much," certain folk would say to Alexander. "The result will be
that your students will turn out prigs." "But no," he would reply.
"Not at all. You see, I make it my principle to keep the incapables
for a single term only, since that is enough for them; but to the
clever ones I allot a double course of instruction." And, true enough,
any lad of brains was retained for this finishing course. Yet he did
not repress all boyish playfulness, since he declared it to be as
necessary as a rash to a doctor, inasmuch as it enabled him to
diagnose what lay hidden within.

Consequently, how the boys loved him! Never was there such an
attachment between master and pupils. And even later, during the
foolish years, when foolish things attract, the measure of affection
which Alexander Petrovitch retained was extraordinary. In fact, to the
day of his death, every former pupil would celebrate the birthday of
his late master by raising his glass in gratitude to the mentor dead
and buried--then close his eyelids upon the tears which would come
trickling through them. Even the slightest word of encouragement from
Alexander Petrovitch could throw a lad into a transport of tremulous
joy, and arouse in him an honourable emulation of his fellows. Boys of
small capacity he did not long retain in his establishment; whereas
those who possessed exceptional talent he put through an extra course
of schooling. This senior class--a class composed of
specially-selected pupils--was a very different affair from what
usually obtains in other colleges. Only when a boy had attained its
ranks did Alexander demand of him what other masters indiscreetly
require of mere infants--namely the superior frame of mind which,
while never indulging in mockery, can itself bear ridicule, and
disregard the fool, and keep its temper, and repress itself, and
eschew revenge, and calmly, proudly retain its tranquillity of soul.
In short, whatever avails to form a boy into a man of assured
character, that did Alexander Petrovitch employ during the pupil's
youth, as well as constantly put him to the test. How well he
understood the art of life!

Of assistant tutors he kept but few, since most of the necessary
instruction he imparted in person, and, without pedantic terminology
and inflated diction and views, could so transmit to his listeners the
inmost spirit of a lesson that even the youngest present absorbed its
essential elements. Also, of studies he selected none but those which
may help a boy to become a good citizen; and therefore most of the
lectures which he delivered consisted of discourses on what may be
awaiting a youth, as well as of such demarcations of life's field that
the pupil, though seated, as yet, only at the desk, could beforehand
bear his part in that field both in thought and spirit. Nor did the
master CONCEAL anything. That is to say, without mincing words, he
invariably set before his hearers the sorrows and the difficulties
which may confront a man, the trials and the temptations which may
beset him. And this he did in terms as though, in every possible
calling and capacity, he himself had experienced the same.
Consequently, either the vigorous development of self-respect or the
constant stimulus of the master's eye (which seemed to say to the
pupil, "Forward!"--that word which has become so familiar to the
contemporary Russian, that word which has worked such wonders upon his
sensitive temperament); one or the other, I repeat, would from the
first cause the pupil to tackle difficulties, and only difficulties,
and to hunger for prowess only where the path was arduous, and
obstacles were many, and it was necessary to display the utmost
strength of mind. Indeed, few completed the course of which I have
spoken without issuing therefrom reliable, seasoned fighters who could
keep their heads in the most embarrassing of official positions, and
at times when older and wiser men, distracted with the annoyances of
life, had either abandoned everything or, grown slack and indifferent,
had surrendered to the bribe-takers and the rascals. In short, no
ex-pupil of Alexander Petrovitch ever wavered from the right road,
but, familiar with life and with men, armed with the weapons of
prudence, exerted a powerful influence upon wrongdoers.

For a long time past the ardent young Tientietnikov's excitable heart
had also beat at the thought that one day he might attain the senior
class described. And, indeed, what better teacher could he have had
befall him than its preceptor? Yet just at the moment when he had been
transferred thereto, just at the moment when he had reached the
coveted position, did his instructor come suddenly by his death! This
was indeed a blow for the boy--indeed a terrible initial loss! In his
eyes everything connected with the school seemed to undergo a
change--the chief reason being the fact that to the place of the
deceased headmaster there succeeded a certain Thedor Ivanovitch, who
at once began to insist upon certain external rules, and to demand of
the boys what ought rightly to have been demanded only of adults. That
is to say, since the lads' frank and open demeanour savoured to him
only of lack of discipline, he announced (as though in deliberate
spite of his predecessor) that he cared nothing for progress and
intellect, but that heed was to be paid only to good behaviour. Yet,
curiously enough, good behaviour was just what he never obtained, for
every kind of secret prank became the rule; and while, by day, there
reigned restraint and conspiracy, by night there began to take place
chambering and wantonness.

Also, certain changes in the curriculum of studies came about, for
there were engaged new teachers who held new views and opinions, and
confused their hearers with a multitude of new terms and phrases, and
displayed in their exposition of things both logical sequence and a
zest for modern discovery and much warmth of individual bias. Yet
their instruction, alas! contained no LIFE--in the mouths of those
teachers a dead language savoured merely of carrion. Thus everything
connected with the school underwent a radical alteration, and respect
for authority and the authorities waned, and tutors and ushers came to
be dubbed "Old Thedor," "Crusty," and the like. And sundry other
things began to take place--things which necessitated many a penalty
and expulsion; until, within a couple of years, no one who had known
the school in former days would now have recognised it.

Nevertheless Tientietnikov, a youth of retiring disposition,
experienced no leanings towards the nocturnal orgies of his
companions, orgies during which the latter used to flirt with damsels
before the very windows of the headmaster's rooms, nor yet towards
their mockery of all that was sacred, simply because fate had cast in
their way an injudicious priest. No, despite its dreaminess, his soul
ever remembered its celestial origin, and could not be diverted from
the path of virtue. Yet still he hung his head, for, while his
ambition had come to life, it could find no sort of outlet. Truly
'twere well if it had NOT come to life, for throughout the time that
he was listening to professors who gesticulated on their chairs he
could not help remembering the old preceptor who, invariably cool and
calm, had yet known how to make himself understood. To what subjects,
to what lectures, did the boy not have to listen!--to lectures on
medicine, and on philosophy, and on law, and on a version of general
history so enlarged that even three years failed to enable the
professor to do more than finish the introduction thereto, and also
the account of the development of some self-governing towns in
Germany. None of the stuff remained fixed in Tientietnikov's brain
save as shapeless clots; for though his native intellect could not
tell him how instruction ought to be imparted, it at least told him
that THIS was not the way. And frequently, at such moments he would
recall Alexander Petrovitch, and give way to such grief that scarcely
did he know what he was doing.

But youth is fortunate in the fact that always before it there lies a
future; and in proportion as the time for his leaving school drew
nigh, Tientietnikov's heart began to beat higher and higher, and he
said to himself: "This is not life, but only a preparation for life.
True life is to be found in the Public Service. There at least will
there be scope for activity." So, bestowing not a glance upon that
beautiful corner of the world which never failed to strike the guest
or chance visitor with amazement, and reverencing not a whit the dust
of his ancestors, he followed the example of most ambitious men of his
class by repairing to St. Petersburg (whither, as we know, the more
spirited youth of Russia from every quarter gravitates--there to enter
the Public Service, to shine, to obtain promotion, and, in a word, to
scale the topmost peaks of that pale, cold, deceptive elevation which
is known as society). But the real starting-point of Tientietnikov's
ambition was the moment when his uncle (one State Councillor Onifri
Ivanovitch) instilled into him the maxim that the only means to
success in the Service lay in good handwriting, and that, without that
accomplishment, no one could ever hope to become a Minister or
Statesman. Thus, with great difficulty, and also with the help of his
uncle's influence, young Tientietnikov at length succeeded in being
posted to a Department. On the day that he was conducted into a
splendid, shining hall--a hall fitted with inlaid floors and lacquered
desks as fine as though this were actually the place where the great
ones of the Empire met for discussion of the fortunes of the State; on
the day that he saw legions of handsome gentlemen of the quill-driving
profession making loud scratchings with pens, and cocking their heads
to one side; lastly on the day that he saw himself also allotted a
desk, and requested to copy a document which appeared purposely to be
one of the pettiest possible order (as a matter of fact it related to
a sum of three roubles, and had taken half a year to produce)--well,
at that moment a curious, an unwonted sensation seized upon the
inexperienced youth, for the gentlemen around him appeared so exactly
like a lot of college students. And, the further to complete the
resemblance, some of them were engaged in reading trashy translated
novels, which they kept hurriedly thrusting between the sheets of
their apportioned work whenever the Director appeared, as though to
convey the impression that it was to that work alone that they were
applying themselves. In short, the scene seemed to Tientietnikov
strange, and his former pursuits more important than his present, and
his preparation for the Service preferable to the Service itself. Yes,
suddenly he felt a longing for his old school; and as suddenly, and
with all the vividness of life, there appeared before his vision the
figure of Alexander Petrovitch. He almost burst into tears as he
beheld his old master, and the room seemed to swim before his eyes,
and the tchinovniks and the desks to become a blur, and his sight to
grow dim. Then he thought to himself with an effort: "No, no! I WILL
apply myself to my work, however petty it be at first." And hardening
his heart and recovering his spirit, he determined then and there to
perform his duties in such a manner as should be an example to the rest.

But where are compensations to be found? Even in St. Petersburg,
despite its grim and murky exterior, they exist. Yes, even though
thirty degrees of keen, cracking frost may have bound the streets, and
the family of the North Wind be wailing there, and the Snowstorm Witch
have heaped high the pavements, and be blinding the eyes, and
powdering beards and fur collars and the shaggy manes of horses--even
THEN there will be shining hospitably through the swirling
snowflakes a fourth-floor window where, in a cosy room, and by the
light of modest candles, and to the hiss of the samovar, there will be
in progress a discussion which warms the heart and soul, or else a
reading aloud of a brilliant page of one of those inspired Russian
poets with whom God has dowered us, while the breast of each member of
the company is heaving with a rapture unknown under a noontide sky.

Gradually, therefore, Tientietnikov grew more at home in the Service.
Yet never did it become, for him, the main pursuit, the main object in
life, which he had expected. No, it remained but one of a secondary
kind. That is to say, it served merely to divide up his time, and
enable him the more to value his hours of leisure. Nevertheless, just
when his uncle was beginning to flatter himself that his nephew was
destined to succeed in the profession, the said nephew elected to ruin
his every hope. Thus it befell. Tientietnikov's friends (he had many)
included among their number a couple of fellows of the species known
as "embittered." That is to say, though good-natured souls of that
curiously restless type which cannot endure injustice, nor anything
which it conceives to be such, they were thoroughly unbalanced of
conduct themselves, and, while demanding general agreement with their
views, treated those of others with the scantiest of ceremony.
Nevertheless these two associates exercised upon Tientietnikov--both
by the fire of their eloquence and by the form of their noble
dissatisfaction with society--a very strong influence; with the result
that, through arousing in him an innate tendency to nervous
resentment, they led him also to notice trifles which before had
escaped his attention. An instance of this is seen in the fact that he
conceived against Thedor Thedorovitch Lienitsin, Director of one of
the Departments which was quartered in the splendid range of offices
before mentioned, a dislike which proved the cause of his discerning n
the man a host of hitherto unmarked imperfections. Above all things
did Tientietnikov take it into his head that, when conversing with his
superiors, Lienitsin became, of the moment, a stick of luscious
sweetmeat, but that, when conversing with his inferiors, he
approximated more to a vinegar cruet. Certain it is that, like all
petty-minded individuals, Lienitsin made a note of any one who failed
to offer him a greeting on festival days, and that he revenged himself
upon any one whose visiting-card had not been handed to his butler.
Eventually the youth's aversion almost attained the point of hysteria;
until he felt that, come what might, he MUST insult the fellow in
some fashion. To that task he applied himself con amore; and so
thoroughly that he met with complete success. That is to say, he
seized on an occasion to address Lienitsin in such fashion that the
delinquent received notice either to apologies or to leave the
Service; and when of these alternatives he chose the latter his uncle
came to him, and made a terrified appeal. "For God's sake remember
what you are doing!" he cried. "To think that, after beginning your
career so well, you should abandon it merely for the reason that you
have not fallen in with the sort of Director whom you prefer! What do
you mean by it, what do you mean by it? Were others to regard things


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