smoky chandelier with its multitude of pendant glass drops, which leaped and jingled every time the waiter ran across the worn oil-cloth, boldly flourishing his tray, upon which stood well-nigh as many tea- cups as there are birds on the seashore. Moreover, there were the usual oil paintings on the walls; in a word, everything was exactly the same as what is found everywhere, the only difference being that one of the pictures represented a nymph with such an enormous bosom as the reader has, in all probability, never beheld. Such freaks of nature, however, occur in various historical pictures, whence, at what time, and by whom brought to us in Russia, is unknown, but sometimes by our grandees and art-lovers, who have purchased them in Italy on the advice of the couriers who conducted them.

The gentleman threw off his cap and unwound from his neck a rainbow-hued woollen scarf, such as a wife prepares for her husband with her own hands, giving it to him with suitable instructions how to wrap himself up. Who makes these things for bachelors no one can tell. God knows! For myself, although a celibatarian, I have never worn such a scarf. Having unwound his scarf, the gentleman ordered dinner. While they served him with the various dishes usual at an inn, such as cabbage soup with tarts, purposely kept for several weeks, calf’s brains with peas, small sausages with cabbage, roast capon, pickled cucumbers, and the eternal sweet puff-paste tarts which are always ready at one’s service—while he was being served with all these either warm or cold, he made the waiter tell him all sorts of nonsense about who had formerly kept the inn, and who kept it now, whether there was much profit derived from it, and whether the landlord was a great rogue, to which the waiter answered according to custom, “Oh, a very great one, sir! a perfect rascal!” For there are a great many people nowadays in civilised Russia who cannot eat a mouthful in a tavern without talking to the servant, and even sometimes jesting in an amusing way at his expense.

However, the new arrival’s questions were not all foolish ones. He inquired with great minuteness who was the governor of the town, who was president of the court, who was procurator; in short, he did not omit a single individual of importance; but he interrogated him with still greater minuteness concerning all the prominent landowners: how many souls (serfs) such a one had, how far he lived from town, what his character was, even, and how often he came into the city; he inquired, too, attentively concerning the condition of that region—were there no diseases in the government, epidemic complaints, deadly fevers, small-pox, and the like; and he put other questions of the same sort, and in a manner which gave proof of something more than mere curiosity. There was something respectable about the gentleman’s manners, and he blew his nose very loudly. It is impossible to say how he managed it, but his nose resounded like a trumpet. This won him much respect from the servant, who every time he heard the noise shook back his hair, straightened himself up into a more respectful attitude, and then bending down his head from his full height, inquired, “Is there anything you would like, sir?” After dinner the gentleman sipped a small cup of coffee, and seated himself on the sofa, placing behind his back the cushion, which in Russian taverns is stuffed with something very much resembling bricks and pebbles instead of wool.

Then he began to yawn, and ordered them to show him to his room, where he lay down and slept for two hours. Having rested himself he wrote upon a scrap of paper, at the request of the servant, his title, Christian name, and surname, so that they might be communicated to the police, according to regulation. The waiter, as he descended the stairs, spelt out on the bit of paper the following words: “Collegiate Councillor Pavel Ivanovitch Tchitchikoff, landed proprietor, travelling on his own private business.”

While the waiter was still engaged in deciphering this, letter by letter, Pavel Ivanovitch Tchitchikoff set out to take a look at the town, which seemed to be satisfactory, for he found that it was not a whit behind other provincial cities; the yellow paint on the stone buildings struck the eye forcibly, and the wooden structures were of a modest dark grey. The houses were one and two storeys high, or a storey and a half, including the inevitable “entresol,” which is so very beautiful, in the opinion of provincial architects. In some places, these houses seemed lost in the middle of a street which was as broad as a field, with interminable wooden fences; in other places they were collected in a cluster; and here more activity on the part of the people and more life were perceptible. Signboards met the eye, with representations of cracknels and boots, nearly obliterated by the rain; and here and there was a painting of a pair of blue breeches, and the name of some Warsaw tailor. Here, moreover, was a shop full of caps—leather caps

  By PanEris using Melati.

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