Departure on Fresh Enterprises

Everything was to have been ready at daybreak, and at 6 a.m. Tchitchikoff was to have passed through the city gates. Nothing, however, happened as he had anticipated. In the first place, he woke up later than he had intended: this was the first unpleasantness. On rising, he immediately sent to learn whether his britchka was harnessed, and whether all was in readiness; but it was reported to him that the britchka was not yet harnessed, and that nothing was ready: this was the second unpleasantness. He then flew into a rage, and even made preparations to administer a sound thrashing to our friend Selifan, merely waiting, in impatience, until the latter should allege some excuse in his own defence. Selifan soon made his appearance at the door, and his master had the pleasure of listening to the discourses which masters generally hear from their servants whenever it is necessary for one to set out in haste.

“It will be necessary to have the horses shod, Pavel Ivanovitch.”

“Ah, you young pig! O you blockhead! Why didn’t you say so before? Wasn’t there time?”

“Yes, there was plenty of time. And there’s the wheel, too, Pavel Ivanovitch: the tire will have to be replaced, for the roads are full of ruts now, and there will be a great strain on it everywhere. And I wanted to report that the dashboard is all rickety, so that it will probably not last for two stages.”

“You villain!” shouted Tchitchikoff, wringing his hands, and approaching the servant so closely that Selifan retreated, for fear that he might receive a blow from his master.

“Have you sworn to murder me? hey?” shouted our hero. “Do you wish to cut my throat? Yes, have you made up your mind to cut my throat on the highway, you bandit, you hog, you marine scarecrow? hey? hey? We have been settled here three weeks, haven’t we, hey? And you never gave a hint, you good-for-nothing, of all this, and now you bring it out at the last moment, when we’re almost on the very point of starting! You meant to mount and set out, did you, hey? And you concealed it, hey, hey? Of course you knew it all before? You knew it, hey? hey? Answer me! You knew it, hey?”

“I knew it,” replied Selifan, dropping his head.

“Then why didn’t you say so, hey?”

To this question Selifan made no reply, but he seemed to be saying to himself, as he stood with drooping head, “Just see how nasty it has all turned out; I knew it, and like a stupid I did not tell it.”

“Now go and fetch the blacksmith,” retorted our hero, “and let everything be finished in two hours. Do you hear? in two hours without fail; and if it is not, I’ll give you, I’ll—I’ll twist you into a horn—I’ll tie you up in a knot!” As will be seen by this language our hero was deeply incensed.

Selifan turned to the door, with the intention of carrying out his instructions; but suddenly he halted, and said, “One thing more. That piebald horse ought to be sold, Pavel Ivanovitch, for he’s a regular villain: he’s such a horse, that if you keep him—may God protect us from mishap, that’s all I say!”

“Yes! Of course I’ll go—I’ll run to the market, and sell him!”

“By Heavens, Pavel Ivanovitch, he’s only fine in appearance. In reality, he’s the most vicious horse I know; such a horse is worth nothing.”

“You idiot! When I want to sell him, I’ll sell him. You have set to arguing again, I see! I’ll attend to that. If you don’t fetch the blacksmith instantly, and if everything is not ready in two hours, I’ll give you such a thrashing that you won’t be able to look yourself in the face afterwards! Go! march!” Thereupon Selifan left the room.

Tchitchikoff broke into a violent rage, and flung down the sword which he carried about with him on his journeys, for the purpose of inspiring fear whenever necessary. He excited himself with the blacksmith for about a quarter of an hour before he came to terms; for all blacksmiths are barefaced rogues, and

  By PanEris using Melati.

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