At the expiration of an hour, Tchitchikoff was in the drawing-room, seated beside the prince, who had just won from a young gentleman, at cards, first his ready money, then two estates he owned, next his stud, and finally his equipages, weapons and dogs.

The prince was desirous of learning who was the guest whom the storm had sent him. Tchitchikoff posed as a man who, wearied of the benumbing influence of towns, was in search of an estate and a wife, as he henceforth wished to live a family life, and to indulge in his tastes for agriculture. Upon hearing this, the prince informed him of a magnificent estate at a distance of thirty versts or so, which belonged to a young lady who knew how to manage her property extremely well, and who would no doubt be charmed to make our hero’s acquaintance, and, better still, to bestow herself and all her possessions upon him. Then he invited Tchitchikoff to join in a game of faro, that was, if he felt inclined to tempt fortune. But our hero at the moment had to give some orders to his servants. He had himself shown to the small chamber which had been assigned to him, and an apology was made to him, as, in order to reach it, he was forced to pass through the kitchen. On entering his apartment, followed by Petrushka, he beheld the three coffers ranged against the wall; and he gazed at them intently with a contraction of his brows, for they constituted a very heavy burden for him to carry about with him in all his peregrinations. Suddenly the idea occurred to him to ask Petrushka if he knew who the man was with a piercing glance, whom he had seen sitting on a stool near the kitchen fire.

“He is a Jew,” answered Petrushka, “and is said to be worth millions. Chance always leads men of his class to places where fortunes fly about.”

“Beg him to come here, then, and leave me alone with him; but try to borrow a scale and some weights, and remain in the kitchen near at hand.”

The Jew was brought in, the scales were procured, and, at the expiration of half an hour, the three embarrassing coffers2 had disappeared from the room, and perhaps even from the house. Tchitchikoff returned to the drawing-room without having opened his cash-box, but with seventy-five thousand good roubles in his pocket-book, a portion of which he decided to risk at play. He had the best of luck; and the finest piece of all was, undoubtedly, that, having won thirty thousand roubles without anyone paying any heed to it, he had the pleasure of seeing the whole company, overwhelmed with fatigue, break up into groups, and, preceded by lackeys armed with torches, retire to their rooms. It was now five o’clock in the morning.

Tchitchikoff did not sleep. The weather was now perfectly calm, and the moonlight superb. He pushed his bed towards the door, in such a manner as to barricade it, and opened his cash-box on a large stool, quite close to him. Then, sitting up in bed, with the white coverlet thrown picturesquely round his shoulders, he set to work to count up his capital. As he was completing this intoxicating operation, he beheld a man, who seemed to be observing him, rise up beneath his window. He instantly darted to the casement, armed with a slipper, held as though it were a pistol; and his gesture imparted a comical fright to the prowler, in whom Tchitchikoff suddenly recognised his coachman, Selifan. He called him, and gave him formal orders to harness the horses and be ready to set out at daybreak.

Tchitchikoff’s double team was not in a state to travel even ten versts, dragging the calash and towing the britchka behind; but, as luck would have it, there chanced to be fifteen stout post-horses stalled in a coach-house there, and they were to start at daybreak for a posting station situated nineteen versts away, and in the very direction of the estate of the wealthy spinster whom Prince Kutinin had alluded to on the evening before. Tchitchikoff’s own horses were accordingly attached behind his carriage, so that the trip proved only a promenade for the poor beasts. After three hours’ repose at an inn, which was situated on the boundary-line between two provinces, they were harnessed in earnest, and, going at a gentle trot, they were able to reach the house where happiness was possibly awaiting Tchitchikoff.

Our hero had thought it necessary, before covering this short distance of fifteen versts, to take minute pains with his toilet. In vain was he informed that Appolina Mercurievna had had twenty suitors, all of whom she had successively ill-used and dismissed; that she was proud, fantastic, choleric, and often

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