On reaching the inn Tchitchikoff commanded a halt for two reasons: on the one hand, to give the horses an opportunity to rest, and, on the other, to get something to eat for himself.

The wooden inn, darkened with age, received Tchitchikoff beneath its narrow but hospitable verandah, supported on turned wooden columns, which resembled ancient ecclesiastical candlesticks. The inn was somewhat like an izbá (cabin), but of rather larger dimensions. The carving on the cornice round the windows and door gave it a tolerably artistic appearance, which was heightened by some jugs and flowers painted on the shutters.

Ascending the narrow wooden staircase which led up-stairs into a spacious vestibule, Tchitchikoff encountered a door which opened with a squeak, and beheld a fat old woman in a motley chintz gown, who addressed him with, “This way, if you please.”

“Do you happen to have a roast sucking-pig?” Tchitchikoff asked in reply to her greeting.


“With horse-radish and sour cream?”

“Yes, with both.”

“Fetch it here, then.”

The old woman went to get it, and brought a plate, and a napkin which was starched to such a point that it stood on one end like a dry crust; then she brought a knife with a yellow bone handle and a blade as thin as a penknife, a two-pronged fork, and a salt-cellar which could not be induced to stand straight on the table.

Our hero, according to his custom, immediately entered into conversation with the landlady, and inquired whether she kept the inn herself, or whether there was a landlord, and how much money the inn brought in each year, and whether her sons lived with her, and whether the eldest one was married or unmarried, what sort of a wife he had, whether she had brought him a large dowry or not, and whether the bride’s father was satisfied, or whether he had been angry at only receiving only a few presents at the wedding; in short, he omitted nothing. Of course it is understood that he inquired what landowners there were in the vicinity; and he found out that there were several, named Blokhin, Potchitaeff, Muilnoi, Tcheprakoff, and Sobakevitch. “Ah! do you know Sobakevitch?” he asked, and he immediately learnt that the old woman knew not only Sobakevitch, but Maniloff also. She declared, too, that Maniloff was more exacting than Sobakevitch: “He immediately orders a chicken to be boiled, asks for some veal,” she said; “and if there is any roast mutton, he asks for that also—indeed he tries everything; but Sobakevitch only asks for one thing, eats it all up, and then wants a second help without extra charge.”

While Tchitchikoff was thus conversing and eating the roast sucking-pig, the rumble of an approaching carriage became audible. Peeping through the window he perceived a light britchka, attached to a troika of three fine horses, halting before the door of the inn. Two men descended from the britchka. One of them was fair-haired and of lofty stature; the other somewhat shorter and of dark complexion. The fair man wore a dark-blue Hungarian coat, the dark one a simple striped summer jacket. In the distance an empty calash was coming along, drawn by four long-maned horses with frayed collars and some rope harness. The fair-haired man immediately walked up-stairs, while the dark one remained fumbling for something in the britchka, talking to the servant and pointing to the advancing calash. His voice struck Tchitchikoff as familiar to him in some way or other. While he was still gazing out of the window, the fair-haired man had succeeded in opening the door of the room. He was of lofty stature, with a thin, or what is called a worn face, and a reddish moustache. It might be surmised from his brown cheeks that he knew what smoke was, if not the smoke of powder, at least that from tobacco. He bowed courteously to Tchitchikoff, and the latter responded in the same way. Then the dark-complexioned man entered, flinging his cap from his head upon the table, and jauntily passing his fingers through his thick black

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