"But we are not going to let you charge yourself with anything whatsoever. WE must provide the champagne, for you are our guest, and it is for us--it is our duty, it is our bounden obligation--to entertain you. Look here, gentlemen. Let us adjourn to the house of the Chief of Police. He is the magician who needs but to wink when passing a fishmonger's or a wine merchant's. Not only shall we fare well at his place, but also we shall get a game of whist."
To this proposal no one had any objection to offer, for the mere mention of the fish shop aroused the witnesses' appetite. Consequently, the ceremony being over, there was a general reaching for hats and caps. As the party were passing through the general office, Ivan Antonovitch whispered in Chichikov's ear, with a courteous inclination of his jug-shaped physiognomy:
"You have given a hundred thousand roubles for the serfs, but have paid ME only a trifle for my trouble."
"Yes," replied Chichikov with a similar whisper, "but what sort of serfs do you suppose them to be? They are a poor, useless lot, and not worth even half the purchase money."
This gave Ivan Antonovitch to understand that the visitor was a man of strong character--a man from whom nothing more was to be expected.
"Why have you gone and purchased souls from Plushkin?" whispered Sobakevitch in Chichikov's other ear.
"Why did YOU go and add the woman Vorobei to your list?" retorted Chichikov.
"The woman 'Elizabet' Vorobei--'Elizabet,' not 'Elizabeta?'"