Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol1.djvu/290

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278

DEAD SOULS

a dark grey wooden house of one storey, with little white bas-reliefs above the windows, and high trellis fences just in front of the windows, and a narrow little front garden, in which the slender trees were always white with the dust of the town that covered their leaves.

In the windows could be seen pots of flowers, a parrot swinging in a cage and holding the ring in its beak, and two lap-dogs asleep in the sun. In this house lived the lady's bosom friend. The author is extremely perplexed how to name these ladies in such a way as to avoid exciting an outburst of anger, as he has done in the past. To call them by a fictitious surname is dangerous. Whatever name one thinks of, in some corner of our empire—well called great—some one is sure to be found bearing it, and he is bound to be not slightly but mortally offended, and will declare that the author has secretly paid a visit to the neighbourhood on purpose to find out what he is like, and what sort of a sheepskin he wears, and what Agrafena Ivanovna he visits, and what he likes best to eat. As for speaking of them by their rank in the service, God forbid, that is more dangerous still. All grades and classes now are so mortally sensitive, that everything they find in a book seems to them a personality: apparently this sensitiveness is in the air. It is enough to say that in a certain town there is a stupid man—even that is a personality: a gentleman of respectable appearance will pop up at once and cry out, 'Why, I am a man too, so