Which Describes Two Very Eccentric Persons

“If Colonel Koshkareff really is a monomaniac, it would not be a bad thing to try my little dodge on him,” said Tchitchikoff, on finding himself once more amid the open fields and the vast expanse, when everything had disappeared, and all that remained was the vault of heaven above and two clouds on one side.

“Selifan, did you make thorough inquiries as to the road to Colonel Koshkareff’s?” he asked.

“If you will please to consider, Pavel Ivanovitch, I had no time to do so, for I was working at the calash; but Petrushka inquired of the coachman.”

“What a fool! You have been told that no reliance is to be placed in Petrushka. Petrushka is a blockhead, Petrushka is a stupid, and Petrushka is certainly drunk now, to boot.”

“There’s surely no such difficulty about it,” said Petrushka, turning half round, and looking out of the corner of his eye. “There’s nothing more to do than to take to the fields after descending the hill.”

“And you have taken nothing in your mouth excepting common brandy? Good, very good! One may say, he marvelled at the beauty of Europe.” After this remark, Tchitchikoff stroked his chin, and asked himself, “What a difference there is, after all, between the physiognomy of a cultivated nobleman and that of a coarse lackey.”

Meanwhile, the calash had begun to go down-hill. The fields, and the wide expanse dotted with maple- groves, opened out again. The comfortable equipage, rocking gently on its elastic springs, continued to descend the declivity, and at length, traversing the fields, it passed by a mill; then, over a bridge, with a light rumble; and finally with a little bound, over the soft, yielding surface of the lowlands. And not even a mound or a hillock was to be seen on either hand. Silence prevailed, not even a calash was in view.

The clumps of vines, the slender alders, and silvery poplars flew by, brushing Selifan and Petrushka, on the box, with their branches. They swept the latter’s cap off every moment. The surly servitor leapt from the box, cursed the stupid trees, and his master who had perched him up there, but he would neither fasten his cap nor even hold on to it with his hand, hoping that each time would be the last, and that the mishap would not occur again. Maples, birches, and pines were soon added to the list of trees. The forest grew darker, and seemed to be preparing to turn to the blackness of night. But all at once, from every quarter, gleams of light shone between the branches and tree-boles, like flashes from a mirror. The trees became more sparsely scattered, the gleams of light grew larger, and then, all at once, a lake lay before them—a watery expanse four versts in diameter.

High above the lake, on the opposite shore, lay scattered the grey timber cabins of a village. Shouts rang from the water. Twenty men, standing up to their waists, their shoulders, and their necks in the lake, were dragging a net to the opposite shore. An accident had happened. Along with the fish a man had become entangled—a man who, in height as in girth, was the exact counterpart of a water-melon, or a small cask. He was in a desperate condition, and was yelling at the top of his lungs, “Blockhead Denis, give it over to Kuzma! Kuzma, take the end from Denis! Don’t bear on so, Big Foma! Go yonder, where little Foma is. You devils! you’ll break the net, I tell you!”

This water-melon evidently had no fears for himself: he could not drown, owing to his corpulence; and tumble about as he would, with the object of diving, the water kept bringing him to the surface; even if two men had seated themselves on his back, he would have remained on the surface of the water with them like an obstinate bladder, merely grunting a little beneath their weight, and emitting bubbles through his nose. But he was very much afraid that his net would break and the fish he had caught escape him; and, therefore, several men, stationed on the bank with ropes, were dragging him in as well as the fish.

“This must be a gentleman; this must be Colonel Koshkareff,” said Selifan.

“Why?” asked our hero.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.