Our hero was thoroughly frightened. Although his britchka was rolling along at full speed, and Nozdreff’s village had long since disappeared from sight behind the meadows, the declivities, and hillocks, he still kept looking behind him in terror, as though he expected that a pursuing party would suddenly make its appearance. He breathed with difficulty, and when he laid his hand upon his heart, he found that it was going thump, thump, like a woodcock in a cage. “Ah, what a fright he gave me! Only think of it!” Then all sorts of forcible and unpleasant wishes were heaped upon Nozdreff: some ugly words even occurred in the course of all this. Tchitchikoff was a Russian, and in a rage. Moreover, it was by no means a matter for jest. “Say what you like,” he said to himself, “if that captain-ispravnik had not come in, I might never have looked upon the light of God again. I should have disappeared like a bubble in the water, without leaving a trace, without any posterity, without having acquired for my future children any property or position or even an honourable name.” Our hero, it will be observed, was very solicitous about his descendants.

“He’s a brute, that Nozdreff,” thought Selifan to himself. “I never saw such a fellow before. I’d like to spit on him! It’s all well enough not to give a man anything to eat, but you ought to feed a horse properly; a horse loves oats; that’s his fodder; what bread and meat are for us, so oats are for him; his provisions.”

The horses, also, apparently, entertained an unfavourable opinion of Nozdreff; the piebald one especially. Although the worst oats always fell to his share, and although Selifan never poured any into his manger without saying, “O you rascal!” still he usually did have some oats, and not plain hay; but at Nozdreff’s he had been given hay alone, and that was not proper. So, like everyone else, he was far from being content.

The cogitations of man and beast alike were suddenly interrupted in a most unexpected manner. The horses, Tchitchikoff, and Selifan abruptly came to themselves when a calash drawn by six horses bore down upon them. Almost directly afterwards there rang out the frightened cries of two ladies seated in the calash, and the curses and threats of their coachman, who bawled out “O, you rascal! I shouted to you at the top of my voice, ‘Turn to the right, you jack-a-napes!’ Are you drunk?”

Selifan was conscious of his neglect of duty; but, as a Russian never likes to acknowledge himself in the wrong before another, he immediately drew himself up, and retorted, “And what were you dashing along in that way for? Did you leave your eyes in pawn in some wine-shop?” Then he began to back the britchka, trying by this means to free it from the other equipage, but all in vain; everything was entangled. The ladies in the calash looked on at all this with alarm depicted on their countenances. One of them was old, and the other quite young—she was a girl of sixteen, with her golden hair neatly and prettily wound about her small head. The lovely oval of her face was like that of a fresh egg, and it shone with a certain transparent whiteness, also like an egg when it is held against the light in the sun-browned hands of the housekeeper examining it. The girl’s delicate ears also transmitted a warm, rosy light; and, in addition to all this, the terror expressed by her parted lips and the tears in her eyes—in fact, everything made her so charming that our hero gazed at her for several minutes without paying the slightest heed to the confusion which had arisen between the horses and the coachmen.

“Get out of the way, you Nizhegorod crow!” shouted the strange driver. Selifan drew back his reins, the strange coachman did the same, the horses retreated a little, and then again came into collision, and kicked over the traces. Hereupon the piebald horse was so delighted at the idea of making some new acquaintances, that he absolutely refused to back, but laying his nose upon the neck of a new- found friend, seemed to be whispering something into his ear—some horrible nonsense, probably, for the horse of the calash kept shaking his ears incessantly.

However, some moujiks from the village, which, happily, was near by, finally assembled on the scene of disorder. Such a spectacle is a boon to the moujik, just as a newspaper or a club is to a German, so a throng of peasants soon collected about the equipages, only the old women and little children being left in the village. The traces were unhitched; a few blows dealt upon the piebald’s nose made him spring back; in a word, the teams were disentangled and led apart. But whether they were vexed at being separated

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