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source:qsjtime:2023-12-01 18:16:22

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.

when you want to write, and whatever buttons you might

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.

when you want to write, and whatever buttons you might

[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 Penitente.

when you want to write, and whatever buttons you might

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."

"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.