The Tale of How Ivan Ivanovich Quarrelled with Ivan Nikiforovich


Ivan Ivanovich And Ivan Nikiforovich

A fine Bekesha [short shooting-coat] has Ivan Ivanovich! splendid! And what lambskin! deuce take it, what lambskin! blue-black with silver lights. I’ll forfeit, I know not what, if you find any one else owning any such. Look at it, for Heaven’s sake, especially when he stands talking with any one! look at him from the side; what a pleasure it is! To describe it, is impossible: velvet! silver! fire! Heavens! Nikolai the Wonder-worker, saint of God! why have not I such a bekesha? He had it made before Agafya Fedosyevna went to Kief. You know Agafya Fedosyevna, the same who bit the assessor’s ear off.

Ivan Ivanovich was a very handsome man. What a house he had in Mirgorod! Around it on every side was a veranda on oaken pillars, and on the veranda everywhere were benches. Ivan Ivanovich, when the weather gets too warm, throws off his bekesha and his underclothing, remains in his shirt alone, and rests on the veranda and observes what is going on in the courtyard and the street. What apples and pears he has under his very windows! You have but to open the window, and the branches force themselves through into the room. All this is in front of the house; but you should have seen what he had in the garden. What was there not there? Plums, cherries, black-hearts, every sort of vegetable, sunflowers, cucumbers, melons, peas, a threshing-floor, and even a forge.

A very fine man, Ivan Ivanovich! He is very fond of melons: they are his favorite food. Just as soon as he has dined, and come out on his veranda, in his shirt, he orders Gapka to fetch two melons, and immediately cuts them himself, collects the seeds in a paper, and begins to eat. Then he orders Gapka to fetch the ink-bottle, and, with his own hand, writes this inscription on the paper of seeds: These melons were eaten on such and such a date. If there was a guest present, then it reads, Such and such a person assisted.

The late judge of Mirgorod always gazed at Ivan Ivanovich’s house with pleasure. Yes, the little house was very pretty. It pleased me because sheds, and still other little sheds, were built on to it on all sides; so that, looking at it from a distance, only roofs were visible, rising one above another, which greatly resembled a plate full of pancakes, or, better still, fungi growing on the trunk of a tree. Moreover, the roofs were all overgrown with weeds: a willow, an oak, and two apple-trees leaned their spreading branches against it. Through the trees peeped little windows with carved and whitewashed shutters, which projected even into the street.

A very fine man Ivan Ivanovich! The commissioner of Poltava knows him also. Dorosh Tarasovich Pukhívochka, when he leaves Khorola, always goes to his house. And Father Peter, the Protopope who lives in Koliberda, when he invites a few guests, always says that he knows of no one who so well fulfils all his Christian duties, and understands so well how to live, as Ivan Ivanovich.

How time flies! More than ten years have already passed since he became a widower. He never had any children. Gapka has children, and they run about the court-yard. Ivan Ivanovich always gives each one of them either a round cake, or a slice of melon, or a pear.

Gapka carries the keys of his storerooms and cellars; but the key of the large chest which stands in his bedroom, and that of the centre storeroom, Ivan Ivanovich keeps himself; and he does not like to admit any one. Gapka is a healthy girl, and goes about in coarse cloth garments with ruddy cheeks and calves.

And what a pious man is Ivan Ivanovich! Every Sunday he dons his bekesha and goes to church. On entering, Ivan Ivanovich bows on all sides, generally stations himself in the choir, and sings a very good bass. When the service is over, Ivan Ivanovich cannot refrain from passing the poor people in review. He probably would not have cared to undertake this tiresome work, if his natural goodness had not urged him to it. “Good-day, beggar!” he generally said, selecting the most crippled old woman in the most threadbare garment made of patches. “Whence come you, my poor woman?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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