day afterwards, and Maniloff’s joy, especially, was so great, that nothing seemed left of his face but his nose and lips; his eyes disappeared completely. He held Tchitchikoff’s hand in both of his own for a quarter of an hour, and made it frightfully warm. Then he related in the most delicate and agreeable terms how he had come to town on purpose to embrace Pavel Ivanovitch, and his speech concluded with a compliment such as is only addressed as a rule to a young girl, with whom one is on the point of dancing. Tchitchikoff had already opened his mouth without knowing how to thank Maniloff; but all at once the latter pulled a roll of paper, tied with a narrow pink ribbon, from beneath his cloak.

“What is this?” asked our hero, taking the paper.

“A list of the moujiks.”

“Ah!” Then Tchitchikoff unrolled it, ran his eyes over it, and was amazed at the clearness and elegance of the writing. “This is splendidly done,” said he; “it will not be necessary to copy it. There is even a border all round it. Who did this border so tastefully?”

“Well, you ought not to ask me. It was my wife.”

“Ah, good Heavens! I am really ashamed that she should have taken so much trouble.”

“There is no such thing as trouble, when Pavel Ivanovitch is in question.”

Tchitchikoff made a bow of gratitude. On learning that he was on his way to the court-house, to complete the deed of sale, Maniloff expressed his readiness to accompany him.

The friends locked arms and set off together. At every elevation, however light, at every little rise of ground or step, Maniloff supported Tchitchikoff, and almost lifted him up by his arm, accompanying the action with an agreeable smile and the remark that he would by no means suffer Pavel Ivanovitch to hurt his little feet. Tchitchikoff felt conscience-stricken, since he did not know how to return his thanks, though he was well aware that he was rather heavy. By dint of mutual assistance, they finally reached the market-place, where the court-house was situated, a large three-storey stone building, as white as chalk, in allusion, probably, to the purity of soul prevailing in the public offices installed within it.

The friends did not walk, but ran, up the staircase. Tchitchikoff, not caring to let Maniloff have the trouble of helping him, quickened his pace; and Maniloff, on his side, flew on in advance, in order not to allow Tchitchikoff to get the advantage of him, so that they both were very much out of breath when they finally arrived in a dark corridor. Neither in this place nor in the rooms around was any cleanliness at all conspicuous. Our heroes espied a great many documents, both rough drafts and clean copies, clerks with bent heads, broad necks, swallow-tailed coats, surtouts of provincial cut, and even one in a simple light grey round jacket, which stood out sharply among the rest, and whose owner, with his head on one side, and almost resting on the paper, was writing out either a protocol about the seizure of some land, or else the description of an estate which had been suddenly seized by some land-grabber. Then they heard exclamations and orders given in a hoarse voice; “Matter No. 368, if you please, Fedosiy Fedosievitch!” Next a scolding remark: “You are always carrying off the stopper of the court ink-bottle!” While at times a more commanding voice, belonging probably to one of the superior officials, rang out imperiously, “There, copy that, and look sharp; if you don’t, your boots shall be taken off your feet, and you shall sit in my office without food for six days!”

The noise made by the pens as they went scratch, scratch, was very great, and resembled that of several telyégas loaded with brushwood passing through a forest, where the dry leaves lay fully a quarter of an arshin1 high.

Tchitchikoff and Maniloff entered the first department, where there sat two officials, of whom our hero inquired—“Will you be kind enough to tell us where is the proper office for recording the sales of serfs?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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