Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol1.djvu/165

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had departed this life; but such streams of words followed that he had no choice but to listen.

'Milushkin the bricklayer could build a stove in any house you like. Maxim Telyatnikov the bootmaker: no sooner does he put the awl through the leather than it's a boot; and you must be thankful that it is a boot; and he never touched a drop. And Yeremy Sorokoplyohin! That peasant alone is worth all the rest. He traded in Moscow and sent me as much as five hundred roubles at a time in lieu of labour. That's the sort of fellows they are! They are not what a Plyushkin would sell you.'

'But excuse me,' said Tchitchikov at last, amazed at this flood of eloquence which seemed as though it would be endless. 'Why are you enumerating all their qualifications? They are no good now, you know, they are all dead. A dead man is no use even to prop up a fence, as the proverb says.'

'Yes, of course they are dead,' said Sobakevitch, as though reflecting and recalling the fact that they really were dead; and then he added: 'though it must be said, that these fellows who are reckoned alive are not worth calling men, they are no better than flies.'

'Still they do exist, while the others are a dream.'

'But no, they are not a dream! I tell you, Miheyev was a man you won't find the like of again! He was such a giant, he couldn't have walked into this room: no, he's not a dream!