shave so early?” so that Ivan Yakovlevich couldn’t find the right moment. Once he actually did drop it, but a policeman some distance away pointed to it with his halberd and said: “Pick it up—you’ve dropped something there,” and Ivan Yakovlevich was obliged to pick up the nose and hide it in his pocket. He was seized with despair, all the more so as the number of people in the street constantly increased when the shops began to open.

He decided to go to St. Isaac’s Bridge—might he not just manage to toss it into the Neva? But I am somewhat to blame for having so far said nothing about Ivan Yakovlevich, in many ways a respectable man.

Like any self-respecting Russian artisan, Ivan Yakovlevich was a terrible drunkard. And although every day he shaved other people’s chins his own was ever unshaven. Ivan Yakovlevich’s tailcoat (Ivan Yakovlevich never wore a frockcoat) was piebald, that is to say, it was all black but dappled with brownish-yellow and gray; the collar was shiny, and in place of three of the buttons hung just the ends of thread. Ivan Yakovlevich was a great cynic, and when Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov told him while being shaved, “Your hands, Ivan Yakovlevich, always stink,” Ivan Yakovlevich would reply with the question, “Why should they stink?” “I don’t know, my dear fellow,” the Collegiate Assessor would say, “but they do,” and Ivan Yakovlevich, after taking a pinch of snuff, would, in retaliation, lather all over his cheeks and under his nose, and behind his ear, and under his chin—in other words, wherever his fancy took him.

This worthy citizen now found himself on St. Isaac’s Bridge. To begin with, he took a good look around, then leaned on the railings as though to look under the bridge to see whether or not there were many fish swimming about, and surreptitiously tossed down the rag containing the nose. He felt as though all of a sudden a ton had been lifted off him: Ivan Yakovlevich even smirked. Instead of going to shave some civil servants’ chins he set off for an establishment bearing a sign “Snacks and Tea” to order a glass of punch when he suddenly noticed, at the end of the bridge, a police officer of distinguished appearance, with wide sideburns, wearing a three-cornered hat and with a sword. His heart sank: the officer was wagging his finger at him and saying, “Step this way, my friend.”

Knowing the etiquette, Ivan Yakovlevich removed his cap while still some way off, and approaching with alacrity said, “I wish your honor good health.”

“No, no, my good fellow, not ‘your honor.’ Just you tell me, what were you doing over there, standing on the bridge?”

“Honestly, sir, I’ve been to shave someone and only looked to see if the river were running fast.”

“You’re lying, you’re lying. This won’t do. Just be so good as to answer.”

“I am ready to shave your worship twice a week, or even three times, and no complaints,” replied Ivan Yakovlevich.

“No, my friend, all that’s nonsense. I have three barbers who shave me and deem it a great honor, too. Just be so good as to tell me, what were you doing over there?”

Ivan Yakovlevich turned pale.… But here the whole episode becomes shrouded in mist, and of what happened subsequently absolutely nothing is known.


Collegiate Assessor Kovalyov woke up rather early and made a “b-rr-rr” sound with his lips as he was wont to do on awakening, although he could not have explained the reason for it. Kovalyov stretched and asked for the small mirror standing on the table. He wanted to have a look at the pimple which had, the evening before, appeared on his nose. But to his extreme amazement he saw that he had, in the place of his nose, a perfectly smooth surface. Frightened, Kovalyov called for some water and

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