Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol1.djvu/249

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Tchitchikov's purchases became the subject of conversation. Discussions took place in the town, views and opinions were expressed as to whether purchasing serfs for removal to another district were a profitable undertaking. From the controversy it appeared that many possessed a thorough understanding of the subject. 'Of course it's all right,' said some people, 'there is no disputing it: the land in the southern provinces is undoubtedly good and fertile, but how are Tchitchikov's peasants going to get on without water? You know there is no river.'

'That wouldn't matter, there being no water; that wouldn't matter, Stepan Dmitryevitch; but transporting peasants is a risky business. We all know what the peasant is; put down on fresh land and set to till it, and with nothing for him, no hut, no firewood—why he'd run away as sure as twice two makes four, he'd take to his heels and leave no trace behind him.'

'No, Alexey Ivanovitch, excuse me, I don't agree with what you say that Tchitchikov's peasants will run away. The Russian is capable of tackling anything, and can stand any climate. Send him to Kamchatka and just give him warm