Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/25

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15
BOOK ONE

told me I must find means for myself; very good, I will find them!" Well, how they took him to his destination and where he was taken, no one knows. All traces of Captain Kopeykin were lost, you understand, in the waters of oblivion, in Lethe, or whatever the poets call it. But here, gentlemen, allow me to point out, begins the gist of the story. What became of Kopeykin no one knows, but before two months had passed, would you believe it, a band of robbers made their appearance in the forests of Ryazan and the chief of that band, my good sir, was no other than …'

'But excuse me, Ivan Andreyevitch,' said the police-master, suddenly interrupting him. 'Why, you said yourself that Captain Kopeykin lost an arm and a leg, while Tchitchikov has …'

The postmaster cried out, slapped himself on the forehead and called himself a calf publicly before them all. He could not understand how the circumstance had not occurred to him at the beginning of the story, and confessed that the saying, 'The Russian is wise after the event,' was perfectly true. A minute later, however, he began to be ingenious and tried to wriggle out of it, saying that mechanical limbs had been brought to a wonderful perfection in England, that it seemed from the papers that a man had invented artificial legs, that by merely touching an unseen spring would carry a man goodness knows where, so that he could never be found again.