The Inspector-General/Act V
SCENE As before.
GOVERNOR. Well, Anna Andreyevna—eh ? Had you any idea of that, now ? There's a prize, if you like ! Now, confess it candidly—you never dreamt of such a thing ! You were a simple town-governor's wife, and now see who you've hooked for a son-in-law—a devil of a swell, confound you !
ANNA. Not at all—I knew it ages ago. It's you that's taken by surprise ; you're only a commonplace person, and have never met people of quality !
GOVERNOR. Why, madam, I'm one of the quality myself! . . . Just think, though, Anna Andryevna, what a fine pair of birds we've become—eh ? Anna Andreyevna ! We can fly pretty high now—devilish high! . . . Stop, won't I pepper up all the gentlemen who were so free with their petitions and complaints ! Hi, who's there ? (A POLICE-OFFICER enters.) Oh, that's you, Ivan Karpovich ! Just summon the merchants here, brother. Won't I let the blackguards have it ! Informing about me, indeed ! Wait a little, you cursed pack of Jews, you little turtle-doves ! I chastised you before with whips, now I'll try the scorpions ! Take note of all who came to protest against me, and especially the scribblers who concocted their petitions. And be sure to let 'em all know, from me, what an honour Heaven has sent the Governor ; he's going to marry his daughter, not to a nobody, but to a man whose equal the world's never seen, who can accomplish everything—everything—everything ! Make them all understand that ! Shout it in every one's ears, ring the bells—devil take it ! Now's my triumph, and triumph I will ! (The POLICE-OFFICER goes out.) Now, Anna Andreyevna, what d'you think—eh ? Things being as they are, where shall we take up our abode—here, or in " Peter " ?
ANNA. Oh, in Petersburg, of course. How could we remain here ?
GOVERNOR. Very well, Petersburg be it then !—only it's not bad here even. I fancy, though, the governorship can go to the devil—eh, Anna Andreyevna ?
ANNA. Of course, what's a governorship, indeed !
GOVERNOR. Now, don't you think, Anna Andreyevna, we shall really get to the top of the tree, as he's hail-fellow-well-met with all the ministers, and goes to Court ; so he'll get me promoted, until in time I shall find myself among the generals. What do you think, Anna Andreyevna, shall I do as a general ?
ANNA. I should say so—beautifully!
GOVERNOR. Ah, confound it! it's splendid to be a general ! They'll hang a ribbon across my shoulder! Which do you say's the best order to have—the red one or the blue?
ANNA. Oh, decidedly the blue is the best.
GOVERNOR. Oh, that's what you aim at! The red one's pretty good, too. Why does one want to be a general ? Why, because, when you travel anywhere you have couriers and orderlies always galloping in front, shouting " horses ! " and no one else can have 'em at the stations—every one waits for you—all the councillors, captains, and town-governors—and you don't turn a hair! You dine with the lord-lieutenant, wherever it may be, and snub the town-governor !Ha, ha, ha ! (Laughs till the tears roll down his cheeks.) That's what I call tempting, d— it !
ANNA. Anything rude like that just pleases you. But you really must remember that we shall have to live a quite different kind of life—it won't do for you to know any of your dog-fancier judges, whom you go hare-hunting with, or people like Zemlyanika; on the contrary, your acquaintances will be persons of distinction—counts and fashionables, all of them . . . only I'm anxious about you : you will go and let out some expression or other, which is never heard in polite society.
GOVERNOR. Well, what of that—a word doesn't hurt !
ANNA. No, perhaps not, when you're only a town-governor; but there, you know, our circumstances will be totally altered.
GOVERNOR. Yes, indeed ! You can get two good sorts of fish, they say, there—the sea-eel and the smelt, and they make your mouth water when you begin to eat 'em.
ANNA. That's all he thinks about—fish ! I shall wish our house to be the very first in the capital, and my boudoir to be full of such amber and perfume that you can't go in without shutting your eyes—so! (Screws up her eyes and sniffs.) A—h ! how exquisite !
(Enter the MERCHANTS.)
GOVERNOR. Oh, good-day, little falcons.
MERCHANTS (bowing). We wish you health, little father !
GOVERNOR. Well, my little pigeons, and how are you getting on? and how's business? (Changes his tone.) And so you would report me, you tea-swillers, you peddling hucksters ! You would, would you, you utter ruffians, you ringleaders of blackguardism, you sharks, you pirates you ! — Eh? Complaining of blackmail? Oh, you thought, here's a chance to clap him in prison ! . . . May the seven fiends and a she-devil catch you ! do you know that — ?
ANNA. Akh ! Bozhe moi! what language you use, Antosha !
GOVERNOR (impatiently). Oh, I can't be picking and choosing my words now ! (To the MERCHANTS.) Are you aware that the very same chinovnik to whom you complained is now engaged to my daughter? I'll pay you out! . . . Why, you fleece the whole nation ! . . . You make a contract with the Government, and cheat it out of a hundred thousand with the rotten cloth you supply; and then, if you're asked to give one a present of fifteen or twenty yards, you expect a consideration for it ! Ay, if they only knew, they'd come down upon you ! And the side you put on ! He's a merchant—don't you touch him ! "We don't rank after gentle folks," say you—but gentlemen have had an education, you ape ! I daresay they are flogged at school—otherwise they'd learn nothing. But what do you learn ? Why, the A B C of swindling, for your master beats you if you don't manage to rob properly. While you're still a small boy you don't know the Lord's Prayer, but you can do anybody; and then, don't you give yourself airs when you get bigger, and your purse gets fuller ! My ! what a sight for sore eyes ! Just because you blow out sixteen samovars a day you put a swagger on ! I spit on your head and your bumptiousness !
MERCHANTS (bowing low). We are guilty, Anton Antonovich !
GOVERNOR. You complained of me? But who was it that winked at your jobbery when you built the bridge and charged twenty thousand for less than a hundred roubles' worth of wood ? It was I, you goat's-beard ! Have you forgotten that? If I had rounded on you, I could have sent you to Siberia ! What say you to that—eh ?
ONE OF THE MERCHANTS. God knows, we are guilty, Anton Antonovich—the devil tempted us ! We will never inform against you again ! Tell us what compensation you wish . . . only don't be angry !
GOVERNOR. Don't be angry ! Oh, now you wallow at my feet—because I've got the upper hand ! but if I was in your position for a moment, you would roll me in the mud, you rabble, and club me on the head into the bargain !
MERCHANTS (prostrating themselves). Spare us, Anton Antonovich !
GOVERNOR. Spare you, indeed ! It's "spare us!" now, but what was it before—eh ? I have a good mind to ... but no ! (Waves his hand's condescendingly.) There, may the Lord forgive you ! Enough—I bear no malice ; only beware, and mind your P's and Q's ! for I'm not giving my daughter to any ordinary gentleman ; so see that the wedding presents are . . . you understand? And don't flatter yourselves you can put me off with your dried fish or sugar-loaves. . . . There, now, you can go, and the Lord be with you ! (Exeunt MERCHANTS.)
(Enter the JUDGE, the CHARITY COMMISSIONER, and afterwards RASTAKOVSKI.)
JUDGE (almost before he has entered the room). Are we to believe the report, Anton Antonovich ? Has an extraordinary piece of good fortune befallen you ?
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. I have the honour to congratulate you on your extraordinary good fortune ! I was heartily pleased when I heard of it! (Kisses ANNA'S hand.) Anna Andreyevna! (Kisses MARYA's.) Marya Antonovna !
RASTAKOVSKl (entering). I congratulate Anton Antonovich ! May the Lord grant long life to you and the bridal pair, and bless you with grandchildren and great-grand-children, and many descendants to succeed you ! Anna Andreyevna ! (Kisses her hand) Marya Antonovna ! (Kisses MARYA's hand.)
(Enter KAROBKIN and his wife, and LYULYUKOV.)
KAROBKIN. I have the honour to congratulate Anton Antonovich ! Anna Andreyevna ! Marya Antonovna ! (Kissing their hands.)
KAROBKIN'S WIFE. I sincerely congratulate you, Anton Antonovich, on your good fortune !
LYULYUKOV. I have the honour to congratulate you, Anna Andreyevna ! (Kisses her hand and turns to the audience, smacking his lips with an air of bravado.) Marya Antonovna ! I have the honour ! (Goes through the same performance.)
(Enter a number of "visitors with overcoats and in full dress ; they first shake ANNA'S hand, and then MARYA's, saying, " Anna Andreyevna ! " " Marya Antonovna ! " Enter also BOBCHINSKI and DOBCHINSKI, eagerly jostling each other.)
BOBCHINSKI. I have the honour to congratulate you . . .
DOBCHINSKI. Anton Antonovich, I have the honour to congratulate you !
BOBCHINSKI. ... On the happy occurrence !
DOBCHINSKI. Anna Andreyevna!
BOBCHINSKI. Anna Andreyevna !
(They both approach at the same moment, and knock their foreheads together).
DOBCHINSKI. Marya Antonovna ! (Kisses her hand.) I have the honour of congratulating you ! May you enjoy the greatest, greatest happiness, and walk about in cloth of gold, and eat all sorts of choicely-flavoured soups, and always pass your time very agreeably ...
BOBCHINSKI (interrupting him). Marya Antonovna, I have the honour to congratulate you! May God grant you wealth of every kind and ducats and a baby boy, as tiny, yes, as tiny as this ! —(Measures with his hand)— small enough to sit on the palm of your hand ! yes, and may the little darling cry all the time : wah—wah—wah !
(Enter more Visitors, who kiss hands; then the SCHOOL DIRECTOR (LUKA LUKICH) and his wife.)
LUKA. I have the honour —
LUKA's WIFE (running forward). I congratulate you, Anna Andreyevna! (They kiss each other.) But really I am so delighted ! They tell me Anna Andreyevna has betrothed her daughter. "Akh Bozhe moi!" thinks I to myself, and I was so delighted that I say to my husband: " Just listen, Lukanchik : What a stroke of good luck for Anna Andreyevna ! " " Yes, slava Bohu ! " I say to myself, and I tell him I'm so enchanted that I'm burning with impatience to go and say so to Anna Andreyevna myself . . . "Akk, Bozhe mdil," I think, "that's exactly what Anna Andreyevna has been looking out for—a match for her daughter, and now there's a piece of good fortune—just what she wanted has happened ! " And I assure you I was so delighted that I couldn't speak—I could only cry and cry ; yes, I regularly sobbed! Then Lukanchik says : " What are you sobbing for, Nastenka ? " " Lukanchik," I say, " I don't know myself, but see, the tears are streaming down in a torrent ! "
GOVERNOR. Kindly sit down, gentlemen ! Here, Mashka, bring some more chairs! (The visitors take seats.)
(Enter the POLICE-SUPERINTENDENT and the POLICE-OFFICERS.)
SUPERINTENDENT. I have the honour to congratulate you, your high Nobility, and to wish you happiness for many years !
GOVERNOR. Thanks—thanks ! Please be seated, gentlemen ! (They sit down.)
JUDGE. Now tell us, please, Anton Antonovich, how it all came about—give us the whole history of it !
GOVERNOR. It's an extraordinary story—he condescended to make the proposal himself in person !
ANNA. In a most respectful and delicate way. He said quite too nicely : " Anna Andreyevna, you have simply made a conquest of me ! " Such a handsome, well-bred young man ; such distinguished manners ! " Believe me, Anna Andreyevna," he said, " I don't value my life at a kopek—it is only on account of your rare and charming qualities that I ..."
MARYA. Oh, mamma, really that's what he said to me !
ANNA. Be quiet ! You know nothing about it ! Don't you meddle with what doesn't concern you ! " I love to distraction, Anna Andreyevna ! " Such were his flattering words . . . and when I began to say, " We dare not hope for so high an honour ! " down he went on his knees in the most aristocratic manner. " Anna Andreyevna," he exclaimed, "don't make me the most miserable of men ! Consent to respond to my passion, or with death I will cut short my existence ! "
MARYA. But of course, mamma, he meant that for me.
ANNA. Oh, no doubt, no doubt . . . he meant it for you ; I'm not denying that at all.
GOVERNOR. And how he frightened us too : he said he would blow his brains out. " I'll shoot myself ; I'll shoot myself ! " he cried.
SEVERAL OF THE VISITORS. Good gracious, you don't say so !
JUDGE. What a character !
LUKA. In truth, this is the work of fate !
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. Don't say it's fate, batyushka; fate's an old turkey-hen ! The Governor's public services have earned him this honour ! (Aside.) They always cast pearls before swine, like that !
JUDGE. If you like, Anton Antonovich, I'll make you a present of the dog we were bargaining about.
GOVERNOR. Oh, no ! I can't bother about dogs now !
JUDGE. Oh, if you don't like that one, we'll arrange about another !
KAROBKIN's WIFE. Ah, Anna Andreyevna, how glad I am at your good fortune ! — you can't imagine !
KAROBKIN. May I ask where your distinguished guest is now ? I heard he had left for some reason or other.
GOVERNOR. Yes, he has gone away for a day on very important business—
ANNA. ... to see his uncle, and to ask for his blessing.
GOVERNOR. Yes, to ask for his blessing ; but to-morrow . . . (Sneezes ; the rest simultaneously ejaculate " Bless you ! ") Many thanks ! he'll be back again, I say, to-m— (Sneezes again ; the ejaculations are repeated, and several of the company speak at the same time:)
SUPERINTENDENT. I wish you good health, your high Nobility !
BOBCHINSKI. A sack of ducats and a hundred years !
DOBCHINSKI. May the Lord prolong them to a thousand !
CHARITY COMMISSIONER (aside). May you go to perdition !
KAROBKIN's WIFE (aside). May the devil fly away with you !
GOVERNOR. I thank you sincerely, and wish you the same !
ANNA. We intend to live in Petersburg now. Here, there's such an air, I must say . . . it's really too rustic ! . . . I find it excessively disagreeable . . . my husband too ... he will get general's rank there !
GOVERNOR. Yes, I own, gentlemen, I've a consumed ambition to be a general !
LUKA. And may God grant it !
RASTAKOVSKI. With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible !
JUDGE. A great voyage befits a great ship.
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. Your public services deserve the honour !
JUDGE (aside). And a nice blunder he'll make when he gets it! Why, a generalship will suit him as well as a saddle does a cow ! No, my friend, it's a far cry to that. There's plenty of people cleverer than you who are not yet generals !
CHARITY COMMISSIONER (aside). General, indeed ! Confound him ! It's not impossible, after all. He may get made one. With his bumptiousness, the devil wouldn't have him at any price! (Turns to him.) When you are a general, Anton Antonovich, don't forget us !
JUDGE. And if any little business difficulty crops up, don't fail to help us out !
KAROBKIN. Next year I am going to take my son to the capital to serve his country ; please be so kind as to take him under your protection—be a father to the little orphan !
GOVERNOR. I'm quite ready, on my part—quite ready to help him !
ANNA. You're always free with your promises, Antosha ! But, in the first place, you'll not have time to think about that. How can you possibly burden yourself with such engagements ?
GOVERNOR. Why not, my love ? One can sometimes —
ANNA. Of course ! But you really cannot bother to be a friend and protector of all sorts of nobodies !
KAROBKIN's WIFE (aside). Do you hear how she treats us ?
A VISITOR. Oh, she was always like that—I know her ; seat her at table, and she'll put her feet on it—
(Enter the POSTMASTER, out of breath, with an opened letter in his hand.)
POSTMASTER. Here's an astounding thing happened, sirs ! The chinovnik we took to be the Revizor is not a revizor !
ALL. What ? not a revizor ?
POSTMASTER. Not a revizor at all—I've found that out from the letter.
GOVERNOR. What do you mean—what do you mean—from what letter ?
POSTMASTER. Why, from the letter he wrote himself. They bring me a letter to post. I look at the address, and see "Post-office Street"—I was regularly stunned. Well, I say to myself, he's without doubt found something wrong in the postal department, and he's reporting it to the authorities. So I took the letter and—opened it.
GOVERNOR. How could you—?
POSTMASTER, I don't know—a supernatural force impelled me. I had already ordered a courier to take it by express, but such a feeling of curiosity overpowered me as I had never known before. " I can't do it, I can't—I can't!" I hear myself saying; but I feel drawn, drawn to it ! " Oh, don't open it, or you'll be utterly ruined ! " that's what sounds in one ear ; and in the other, like a devil whispering, " Open it, open it, open it!" And so I broke the sealing-wax—my veins were on fire; but after I had done it they froze, by God, they froze. My hands shook, and everything whirled.
GOVERNOR. And so you dared to open the letter of so powerful a personage ?
POSTMASTER. That's where the joke is—he's neither a personage nor powerful !
GOVERNOR. What is he then, according to you ?
POSTMASTER. Neither the one nor the other; the devil knows what he is !
GOVERNOR (furiously). What do you mean ? How do you dare to call him neither the one nor the other, nor the devil knows what? I'll put you under arrest—!
POSTMASTER. Who ? You ?
GOVERNOR. Yes— I will !
POSTMASTER. Pooh ! That's beyond your power !
GOVERNOR. Are you aware that he is going to marry my daughter ? that I shall become a grandee? that I shall have power to send to Siberia ?
POSTMASTER. Eh, Anton Antonovich—Siberia ? that's a long way off. . . . But I had better read you the letter. Gentlemen, let me read it you !
ALL. Yes, read it, read it !
POSTMASTER (reads). " I hasten to let you know, my dear Tryapichkin, all about my adventures. On the way an infantry captain cleared me out completely, so that the innkeeper wanted to send me to gaol ; when all of a sudden, owing to my Petersburg get-up and appearance, the whole town took me for the Governor-General. So now I am living at the Governor's ; I do just as I please ; I flirt madly with his wife and daughter—but I can't settle which to begin with. Do you remember how hard-up we were, how we dined at other folk's expense, and how the pastry-cook once pitched me out neck-and-crop, because I had put some tarts I had eaten down to the account of the King of England ? It is quite a different state of things now ! They all lend me as much money as ever I please. They are an awful set of originals—you would die of laughing if you saw them ! You write articles, I know: bring these people in. First and foremost, there's the Governor—he's as stupid as a mule . . ."
GOVERNOR. Impossible! It can't be there !
POSTMASTER (showing him the letter). Read it yourself !
GOVERNOR (reads). " Stupid as a mule." It can't be so—you've written it yourself!
POSTMASTER. How could I have written it ?
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. Read!
LUKA. Read on !
POSTMASTER (resuming). " The Governor—he's as stupid as a mule ..."
GOVERNOR. Oh, devil take it ! Is it necessary to repeat that? As if it wasn't there without that !
POSTMASTER (continues). Hm . . . hm . . . hm ..." as a mule. The Postmaster too is a good fellow . . ." (Stops.) Well, he says something uncomplimentary about me too.
GOVERNOR. No read it out !
POSTMASTER. But what's the good ?
GOVERNOR. No, no—confound it, if you read any of it, read it all ! Read it through !
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. Allow me; I'll have a try ! (Puts on his spectacles, and reads.) " The Postmaster is exactly like our office-beadle Mikheyev, and a rascal into the bargain—he drinks like a fish."
POSTMASTER (to the company). Well, the young blackguard ought to be flogged—that's all!
CHARITY COMMISSIONER (continuing). " The Charity Com ... er ... er ..." (Hesitates.)
KAROBKIN. But what are you stopping for ?
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. It's badly written . . . however, it's clearly something insulting.
KAROBKIN. Give it to me! My eyes are better, I fancy. (Tries to take the letter.)
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. (holding it back). No, we can leave that part out—further on it's plain enough.
KAROBKIN. But allow me—I can read !
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. Why, so can I—further on, I tell you, it's quite easy to make out.
POSTMASTER. No, read it all ! It was all read before !
ALL. Give it up, Artemi Philippovich ; give the letter up! (To KAROBKIN.) You read it !
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. Certainly! (Hands the letter) There, if you please . . . (Covers the passage with his finger) That's where you begin. (All crowd round.)
POSTMASTER. Read it, read it through ; what nonsense ! Read it all!
KAROBKIN (reading). " The Charity Commissioner, Zemlyanika, is a regular pig in a skull-cap."
CHARITY COMMISSIONER (to the rest). That's supposed to be witty ! Pig in a skull-cap! Who ever saw a pig in a skull-cap ?
KAROBKIN (continues). "The School Director reeks of onions—"
LUKA (to the rest). Good God ! And an onion has never crossed my lips !
JUDGE (aside). Thank goodness, there's nothing, at any rate, about me !
KAROBKIN (reading). " The Judge—"
JUDGE (aside). Now for it ! . . (Aloud.) I think this letter is tedious. What the devil's the good of reading all that rubbish ?
LUKA. No !
POSTMASTER. No, go on with it !
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. No, read it through !
KAROBKIN (resumes.). "The Judge, Lyapkin-Typkin, is in the utmost degree moveton . . ." (Stops.) That must be a French word !
JUDGE. But the devil knows what's the meaning of it ! It's bad enough if it's only swindler, but it may be a good deal worse.
KAROBKIN (goes on). " But, after all, the people are hospitable and well-meaning. Farewell, my dear Tryapichkin. I myself should like to follow your example and take up literature. It's a bore, my friend, to live as I do—one certainly wants food for the mind ; one must, I see, have some elevated pursuit. Write to me at the village of Podkalitovka, Sardtov government" (He turns the letter over and reads the address.) " To the Well-born and Gracious Mister Ivan Vasiliyevich Tryapichkin, Saint Petersburg, Post-office Street, Number Ninety-seven, within the Court-yard, Third Floor, on the right."
ONE OF THE LADIES. What an unexpected rebuff!
GOVERNOR. He has as good as cut my throat ! I'm crushed, crushed—regularly crushed ! I can see nothing—only pigs' snouts instead of faces, nothing else. . . . Catch him, catch him ! (Gesticulates wildly.)
POSTMASTER. How can we catch him ? Why, as if on purpose, I told the manager to give him his very best troika—and the devil persuaded me to give him an order for horses in advance.
KAROBKIN'S WIFE. Well, here's a pretty mess ! The like of it has never happened !
JUDGE. Besides, sirs, confound it ! He has borrowed three hundred roubles of me !
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. And three hundred of me too !
POSTMASTER (groans). Ah! And three hundred of me as well !
BOBCHINSKI. Yes, and Dobchinski and I, sirs, gave him sixty-five, sirs, in bank-notes !
JUDGE (with a gesture of perplexity). How was it, gentlemen, that we came to make such a mistake ?
GOVERNOR (beats himself on the shoulders). How could I ? There's not such another old blockhead as I am ! I must be in my dotage, idiot of a mutton-head that I am. . . . Thirty years have I been in the service; not a trades-man or contractor could cheat me ; rogues after rogues have I overreached, sharpers and rascals I have hooked, that were ready to rob the whole universe ! three governors-general I've duped ! . . . Pooh ! what are governors-general ? (With a contemptuous wave of the hand.) They're not worth talking about ! . . .
ANNA. But this can't be so, Antosha ; he's engaged to Mashenka ! . . .
GOVERNOR (furiously). Engaged! Bosh! A fig for your "engaged"! Confound your engagement ! (In desperation.) Look at me, look—all the world, all Christendom, all of you see how the Governor's fooled ! Ass ! Booby ! Dotard that I am ! (Shakes his fists at himself.) Ah, you fat-nose ! Taking an icicle, a rag, for a man of rank ! And now he's rattling along the road with his bells, and telling the whole world the story ! Not only do you get made a laughing-stock of, but some quill-driver, some paper-stainer will go and put you in a play ! It's maddening ! He'll spare neither your rank nor your calling, and all will grin and clap their hands. . . . Who are you laughing at? laugh at yourselves . . . Ah ! you . . . (Stamps on the ground ferociously.) I would do for all the pack of scribblers ! Ugh ! The quill-splitters ! Damned liberals ! Devil's brood ! I would scrag you all, I'd grind you to powder ! You'd be a dish for the foul fiend, and the devil's cap your resting-place ! (Shakes his fist and grinds his heel on the ground. Then, after a short silence :) I can't collect myself yet. It's true, that if God will punish a man, he first drives him mad. To be sure, what was there like a Revizor in that crack-brained trifler ? Nothing at all ! Not the resemblance of half a little finger—and all of them shout at once : the Revizor, the Revizor ! Who was it then who first gave out he was the Revizor ? Answer me !
CHARITY COMMISSIONER (shrugging his shoulders). It all happened in such a way that I wouldn't tell you, if you were to kill me. Our wits were befogged—it was the devil's doing !
JUDGE. Who started the idea ? Why, there they are—those enterprising young bucks ! (Points to DOBCHINSKI and BOBCHINSKI.)
BOBCHINSKI. I swear it wasn't me ! I never thought—
DOBCHINSKI. I hadn't the least idea—
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. Undoubtedly it was you !
LUKA. Why, certainly it was ; they ran like mad from the inn with the news— " He's here, he's come, he pays no money! ..." A fine bird you discovered !
GOVERNOR. Of course, it was you — you gossiping busy-bodies, you damnable liars !
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. I wish you had gone to the devil with your revizor and your stories !
GOVERNOR. All you do is to run about the town and meddle with everybody, you confounded chatterboxes, you tittle-tattling scandal-mongers, you short-tailed jackdaws !
JUDGE. You confounded bunglers !
LUKA. You dirty night-caps !
CHARITY COMMISSIONER. You pot-bellied drivellers !
(All crowd up to them threateningly.)
BOBCHINSKI. Yei Bohu, it wasn't me, it was Dobchinski !
DOBCHINSKI. No, Peter Ivanovich, you certainly were the first to—
BOBCHINSKI. No, I did not—you began it.
(Enter a Gendarme.)
GENDARME. The Inspector-General sent by Imperial command has arrived, and requests your attendance at once. He awaits you in the inn.
(They are thunderstruck at this announcement. The ladies utter simultaneous ejaculations of amazement ; the whole group suddenly shift their positions and remain as if petrified.)
Scene Without Words
(The GOVERNOR is seen standing in the centre, stiff as a Post, with outstretched arms and head bent back. At his right are his wife and daughter, turning to him; beyond them the POSTMASTER, turning to the audience with a look of interrogation; behind him LUKA LUKICH, with an innocent expression; and farther, at the extreme edge of the scene, three ladies (visitors), who exchange satirical glances, sneering at the GOVERNOR and his family. To the GOVERNOR'S left is ZEMLYANIKA, with his head slightly on one side, as if listening; behind him the JUDGE, shrugging his shoulders, bending low, and moving his lips, as if he were going to whistle or say, " Here's a Saint George's Day for you, old woman !" Next to him is KAROBKIN, winking at the audience and making a contemptuous gesture at the GOVERNOR ; and at the outside of the scene BOBCHINSKI and DOBCHINSKI, staring at each other open-mouthed. The others stay motionless as statues. The whole group retain the same positions for a minute or so, as if changed to stone; then the curtain falls.)
- The red ribbon is for the Order of St. Anne, 1st class ; the blue, for the White Eagle. (See Note at the end.)
- Literally, your breath does not even turn your moustache, i.e., you don't concern yourself.
- Gubernator, chief of a guberniya or province.
- Gorodnichi, like the speaker, governor or burgomaster of a town. The phrase here is, Stoi gorodnichi!—literally, the town-governor can stand or wait.
- Golubchiki, terms of endearment ; here, of course, used ironically.
- Literally, your belly wags in front.
- Alluding to the immoderate consumption of weak tea by Russian traders over their bargains.
- At the date of the play, only the lower classes wore beards ; hence the expression, Kozlinaya barada, is a term of abuse.
- All the characters in this and the following scenes use the same form of congratulation ; I therefore keep the similarity in the translation.
- Diminutive of Anastasia.
- Vuisokoblaghorodye, the form of address applied to chinovoiks of the sixth, seventh, and eighth degrees.
- Na sorok-sarakov—literally, to forty times forty.
- Russian proverb.
- Russian proverb.
- Literally, a grey gelding.
- They are puzzled by the phonetic rendering of the French phrase, mauvais ton.
- A sledge or carriage with three horses. The centre horse is trained to trot, while the two outsiders gallop.