“Yes, let us go and inspect my disorder and thriftlessness,” repeated Khlobuyoff. “Of course, it is as well for you that you have dined. Will you believe it, Konstantin Feodorovitch? there is not a single chicken in the house, to such straits have I come!”

He sighed; and, as though sensible that he would meet with but little sympathy from Konstantin Feodorovitch, he took Platonoff’s arm, and pressing it close to his breast, he walked on in advance with him. Kostanzhoglo and Tchitchikoff remained behind, and, linking arms, followed the other pair at a distance.

“It’s hard, Platon Mikhailovitch, it’s hard!” said Khlobuyoff to Platonoff. “You cannot conceive how hard it is. No money, no food, no shoes! These are surely words in an unknown tongue to you. All this would be but a trifle were I but young and alone. But when all these misfortunes attack you in your old age, when you have a wife and five children by your side, then you grow sad involuntarily, you grow sad.”

“Well, and if you were to sell your estate, wouldn’t that set you right?”

“Set me right indeed!” exclaimed Khlobuyoff, with a wave of the hand. “Everything must go to pay my debts, and there won’t be a thousand roubles left for me.”

“Then what are you going to do?”

“God knows!”

“Why do you not undertake something to extricate yourself from such a position?”

“What should I undertake?”

“Get some employment.”

“I was a governmental secretary. But what sort of a place would they give me now? How am I to accept some paltry remuneration of five hundred roubles or so? I have a wife and five children, remember.”

“Get a situation as overseer.”

“And who would intrust his property to me? I have ruined my own.”

“Well, but if hunger and death threaten, something must be done. I will ask my brother whether he cannot get you some employment through someone in the city.”

“No, Platon Mikhailovitch,” replied Khlobuyoff, sighing, and pressing his hand warmly. “I am good for nothing now. I have become decrepit before my time, and my loins ache from my old sins, and I have rheumatism in my shoulders. Of what use am I? And besides, a great many lucrative places have already been established for the benefit of useless people. God forbid that the taxes of the poorer classes should be increased on my account!”

“Behold the fruits of dissipation!” thought Platonoff. “This is worse than my heedlessness.”

In the meantime, while they had been thus conversing, Kostanzhoglo, as he walked behind them with Tchitchikoff, was quite beside himself with rage.

“Just see,” said Kostanzhoglo, pointing with his finger, “to what a state of misery he has reduced his peasants! Why, there are neither carts nor horses here. If murrain breaks out a man ought not to consider his own property. He ought to sell all his own belongings at once, and provide the peasant with cattle, in order that he may not be left for a single day without the means of pursuing his work. However, things cannot be remedied for years here. The peasants have become lazy, dissipated drunkards. If you ever allow them to remain without work for even one year, you ruin them for ever; they grow used to rags and a vagabond life. And what land! Look at the land!” he said, pointing to the fields, which soon made

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