The Tribunals and the Police

On the next morning when our hero awoke he stretched out his arms and legs, and felt that he had had a good rest. After lying for a couple of minutes on his back, he snapped his fingers, and recalled with a smile that he now owned nearly four hundred souls. Thereupon he leapt from his bed, and began to dress, without even looking at his face, of which he was sincerely fond, and in which he seemed to find the chin the most attractive feature, for he frequently praised it in the presence of his friends, especially if they chanced to be present while he was shaving. “Look here,” he generally said, “see what a chin I have: it is perfectly round.”

However, now he glanced neither at his chin nor at his nose, but straightway put on his morocco leather boots with ornaments of many colours, such as the town of Torzhok skilfully supplies, and then in Scottish fashion, clad only in his shirt, and forgetful of his dignity and his respectable middle age, he executed a couple of leaps about the room, cracking his heels very cleverly. Finally he set to work: he rubbed his hands before his dressing-case with as much satisfaction as an incorruptible district judge feels when he has successfully completed a judicial investigation. He was anxious to settle matters at once, and would not allow of any delay. He decided to draw up the bills of sale himself, in order that he might not be obliged to pay any lawyer. He was perfectly well acquainted with the legal formulas, so he boldly began writing in large letters, “Year one thousand eight hundred and so-and-so”; and then, in smaller letters he added “Landowner so-and-so,” and all the rest that was necessary, so that in a couple of hours everything was ready.

When he glanced after this at the various lists of moujiks who had actually been alive once upon a time—who had toiled, and got drunk, and acted as izvoshtchiks, had cheated their masters, or possibly had simply been good moujiks in their way, a certain feeling overpowered him, which was strange and incomprehensible, even to himself. Each one of the lists seemed to possess a special character; and, more than that, the moujiks themselves seemed to have acquired a special character. Nearly all the moujiks which had belonged to Madame Korobotchka seemed to have supplementary names and nicknames. Pliushkin’s list was distinguished by brevity of style; often only the first syllables of the men’s names and surnames were given, and these were followed by a couple of dots. On the other hand, Sobakevitch’s list was remarkable for its fulness and minuteness of detail; not a single one of any of the moujiks’ qualities was omitted. Of one it was said, “A good cabinet-maker”; to the name of another was appended the remark, “He is intelligent, and does not get drunk.” Such facts were also indicated as who were the men’s mothers and fathers, and what the conduct of the parents had been. Against the name of one, a certain Fedotoff, there was written, “His father is not known, but his mother was the housemaid Kepitolina; however, he is of a good disposition, and not a thief.” All these details contributed a peculiar freshness to the list; it seemed as though these moujiks had been alive only the day before. After indulging in a long look at their names, Tchitchikoff ejaculated with a sigh, “My good fellows! how many there are of you packed in here! What did you do when you were alive? Answer me, beloved of my heart! How did you get along?” This led him to many reflections as to the lives led by the departed moujiks, and the time rapidly slipped away. “Heigho! twelve o’clock!” he said at last, glancing at his watch. “Why have I been dawdling here all this time? I might have finished my business, and instead of that I first wasted time in foolish thoughts. Well, I am a fool.”

Having made this remark he exchanged his Scottish costume for one patronised by civilised Europeans, drew the buckle of his waistcoat as tightly as possible, sprinkled himself with eau-de-Cologne, took his cap in his hand and his papers under his arm, and set out for the city court-house to complete the sales.

He walked along at a rapid pace, for he felt that he should feel awkward and uneasy until everything was finished. He had not been long in the street, and he was still thinking of all these matters, and at the same time drawing his bearskin cloak, covered with light-brown cloth, over his shoulders, when at a turn in the lane he came in contact with a gentleman, also clad in a bearskin cloak, covered with light- brown cloth, and having a warm cap with ear-pieces on his head. The gentleman uttered an exclamation; it was Maniloff. They immediately clasped each other in a close embrace, and stood in the street in that attitude for fully five minutes. Their kisses were so vigorous that their front teeth ached for the whole

  By PanEris using Melati.

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