from their newly-found friends, or were simply obstinate, at all events, whip them as the coachmen would, they refused to stir, standing stockstill as though rooted to the spot.

The sympathy of the peasants became acute. They vied with one another in offering advice. “Go, Andriushka,” said one of them, “lead that side-horse on the right, and let uncle Mityai mount the shaft horse. Get on, uncle Mityai.” Long, gaunt Mityai, a fellow with a red beard, climbed upon the shaft-horse, where he looked like the village bell-tower, or, rather, like a well-pole, with which water is drawn from a well. The coachman lashed his horses, but nothing came of it: uncle Mityai rendered no assistance. “Stop, stop!” then shouted the peasants. “Get on the side-horse, uncle Mityai, and let uncle Minyai mount the shaft- horse.” Uncle Minyai, a broad-shouldered moujik, with a beard as black as pitch, and a belly like the gigantic samovar in which sbiten is prepared for a large party of frozen market folks, willingly mounted the shaft-horse, which almost fell to the earth beneath his weight. “Now matters will go better,” cried the peasants. “Warm him up, warm him up! Give a taste of the whip to that dun horse, who has planted his legs obstinately apart, like a koramora.”1

But perceiving that matters did not improve, and that the warming up did no good, uncle Mityai and uncle Minyai both mounted the shaft-horse, and Andriushka got upon the side one. Finally the coachman, losing patience, made both uncle Mityai and uncle Minyai dismount; and he did right, for the horses were steaming as though they had journeyed a whole stage at full speed without drawing breath. He allowed them to rest for a moment, after which they started off of their own accord. While this was going on Tchitchikoff stared with great attention at the young stranger in the calash. He made several attempts to address her, but for some reason or other he was unsuccessful. At last the ladies departed; the girl’s pretty head, delicate features, and slender form disappeared, somewhat like a vision; and there only remained—the road, the britchka, the troika of horses so well known to the reader, Selifan, Tchitchikoff, and the low-lying, blank-looking fields around.

As Selifan drove off again, Tchitchikoff began to think about the young girl in the calash. “She was a pretty little thing,” said he, opening his snuffbox, and taking a pinch of snuff. “She was nicely dressed too,” he added. “So I suppose that she is well off. I wonder what sort of a man her father is. Is he a wealthy landowner of respectable morals, or simply a man with money acquired in the public service? This girl might have a dowry of two hundred thousand roubles or so, and she would be a very, very appetising little morsel. Such a dowry would be quite a fortune to many a respectable man.”

The snug little sum of two hundred thousand roubles appeared to his mind in such fascinating colours, that he even began to feel vexed with himself for not having inquired who the travellers were during the stoppage which had followed upon the accident. However, the appearance of Sobakevitch’s village speedily changed his thoughts, and caused them to turn to the matter he had in hand.

The village struck him as a tolerably large one; to right and left of it, like two wings, one dark, the other light, stretched two woods, one of birch trees and the other of pines; in the centre rose up a wooden house, with a mezzanine storey, a red roof, and walls painted a dull grey—it was a house of the sort usually erected among us on military settlements and by German colonists. It was apparent also that, during its construction, the architect had had to carry on a constant struggle with the owner’s tastes. This architect had been a pedant, and had desired symmetry, but the owner had wanted comfort, and had sacrificed all the windows on one side of the house so as to avoid draughts. And, moreover, the verandah was by no means in the middle of the frontage, for the owner had given orders to omit one column on one side, so that there were only three columns instead of four, as had been originally provided for. The yard was surrounded by palings of unusual strength and thickness, and the owner evidently paid great attention to the question of durability. Huge, untrimmed beams, calculated to last for centuries, had been employed in building the stables, the carriage-house, and the kitchen. The moujiks’ huts in the village were also wonderfully well put together; there were no brick walls, no carvings or other adornments, but everything was solid and in proper condition. In short, everything at which Tchitchikoff gazed was substantial, and firm, but had an unprepossessing look.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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