“I come from the farm, panochka [master dear]. ’Tis two days since I have eaten or drunk; my own children drove me out.”

“Poor soul! why did you come hither?”

“To beg alms, panochka, to see whether some one will not give at least enough for bread.”

“Hm! so you want bread?” Ivan Ivanovich generally inquired.

“How should I not want it? I am as hungry as a dog.”

“Hm!” replied Ivan Ivanovich usually, “and perhaps you would like butter too?”

“Yes; everything which your kindness will give; I will be content with all.”

“Hm! Is butter better than bread?”

“How is a hungry person to choose? Any thing you please, all is good.” Thereupon the old woman generally extended her hand.

“Well, go with God’s blessing,” said Ivan Ivanovich. “Why do you stand there? I’m not beating you.” And turning to a second and a third with the same questions, he finally returns home, or goes to drink a little glass of vodka with his neighbor, Ivan Nikiforovich, or the judge, or the chief of police.

Ivan Ivanovich is very fond of receiving presents. This pleases him very much.

A very fine man also is Ivan Nikiforovich. They are such friends as the world never saw. Anton Prokofievich Golopuz, who goes about to this hour in his cinnamon-colored surtout with blue sleeves, and dines every Sunday with the judge, was in the habit of saying that the Devil himself had bound Ivan Ivanovich and Ivan Nikiforovich together with a rope: where one goes the other follows.

Ivan Nikiforovich was never married. Although it was reported that he was married, it was completely false. I know Ivan Nikiforovich very well, and am able to state that he never even had any intention of marrying. Where do all these scandals originate? In the same way it was rumored that Ivan Nikiforovich was born with a tail! But this invention is so clumsy, and at the same time so horrible and indecent, that I do not even consider it necessary to refute it for the benefit of civilized readers, to whom it is doubtless known that only witches, and very few even of those, have tails. Witches, moreover, belong more to the feminine than to the masculine gender.

In spite of their great friendship, these rare friends were not always agreed between themselves. Their characters can best be known by comparing them. Ivan Ivanovich has the unusual gift of speaking in an extremely pleasant manner. Heavens! How he does speak! The feeling can best be described by comparing it to that which you experience when some one combs your head, or draws his finger softly across your heel. You listen and listen until you drop your head. Pleasant, exceedingly pleasant! like the sleep after a bath. Ivan Nikiforovich, on the contrary is more reticent; but if he once takes up the word, look out for yourself! He shaves better than any barber.

Ivan Ivanovich is tall and thin; Ivan Nikiforovich is rather shorter in stature, but he makes it up in thickness. Ivan Ivanovich’s head is like a radish, tail down; Ivan Nikiforovich’s like a radish with the tail up. Ivan Ivanovich lies on the veranda in his shirt after dinner only: in the evening he dons his bekesha, and goes out somewhere, either to the village store, where he supplies flour, or into the fields to catch quail. Ivan Nikiforovich lies all day on his porch; if the day is not too hot, he generally turns his back to the sun, and will not go anywhere. If it happens to occur to him in the morning, he walks through the yard, inspects the domestic affairs, and retires again to his room.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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