hair. He was a well-built young man of medium height, with full red cheeks, teeth as white as snow, and whiskers as black as pitch. He looked as fresh as blood and milk; his face was radiant with health.

“Bah, bah, bah!” he exclaimed all at once, flinging both arms about as he caught sight of Tchitchikoff. “How did you come here?”

Tchitchikoff now recognised Nozdreff, the same person in whose company he had dined at the procurator’s, and who, in the course of a very few minutes, had got upon a very intimate footing with him.

“Where have you been?” resumed Nozdreff; and without awaiting a reply, he went on. “For myself I have been to the fair, my dear fellow. And now congratulate me! I’m totally ruined! Would you believe it? I was never so completely plucked in all my life! Why, I am travelling with peasants’ horses! Just look out of the window!” Hereupon he bent Tchitchikoff’s head so that it almost came in violent contact with the window sash. “Do you see what wretched beasts they are?” he continued. “It was with difficulty that they dragged me along, the cursed animals! I had to get into his britchka.” So saying, Nozdreff pointed to his comrade. “By the way, you are not already acquainted? This is my brother-in-law, Mizhueff. We were talking about you this morning. ‘See, now,’ said I, ‘we must find Tchitchikoff!’ But oh! my friend, if you only knew how completely ruined I am! Will you believe it? I not only lost four trotters, but everything else besides! Why, I haven’t either a watch or a chain about me!”

Tchitchikoff now looked at Nozdreff, and perceived that he had neither watch nor chain. It even struck him that one of his whiskers was smaller and thinner than the other.

“If I only had had twenty roubles in my pocket,” continued Nozdreff, “only just twenty, I could have won everything back; that is to say, I could have won that and thirty thousand roubles besides, and have immediately put them into this pocket-book, like an honourable man.”

“But that was what you said at the time,” replied the fair-haired man; “and when I gave you fifty roubles, you lost them too.”

“I did not mean to lose them; by heavens, I didn’t mean to! If I had not committed a mistake I should not have lost them. If I hadn’t staked three to two on that cursed seven after the king, I might have broken the bank.”

“But you didn’t break it,” said the fair-haired man.

“I did not break it because I played too soon. But do you think that your major plays well?”

“Whether he plays well or not, he outplayed you.”

“Much that amounts to!” said Nozdreff. “I’ll win some cash from him in the same way. Yes, just let him play with me again, then we’ll see, we’ll see what sort of a player he is. Ah! how jolly we were in town, friend Tchitchikoff! Really, the fair was capital. The merchants themselves declared that there never was such a concourse of people. Everything which I had brought up from the country sold at the most favourable prices. Ah, my friend, what a carouse we had! Even now when I think of it—deuce take it—that is, it is such a pity you were not there. Just imagine, a regiment of dragoons was stationed at three versts from the town. Every one of the officers—and there were forty of them—came to town; and then we began to drink, brother, with the staff cavalry captain, Potzyelueff, such a splendid fellow he is! such a moustache he has, brother! He calls Bordeaux ‘burdashki.’ ‘Bring some burdashki, my good fellow,’ says he. Then Lieutenant Kuvshinnikoff—ah, my friend, what a charming man he is! And I may say that the carouse was managed according to rule. We were all together, and what wine Ponomareff gave us! He is a rascal though, and you mustn’t purchase anything in his shop: he mixes all sorts of rubbish in his wine—sandal-wood, burnt cork, and he even colours it with elderberry, the villain; but after all if he brings a little bottle from the cellar which he calls his own sanctum, then truly, my friend, you find yourself in the empyrean. Our champagne was so good that the governor’s is nothing to it, simply kvas.1 Fancy,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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