Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/28

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but later on would break his chain and gain possession of the whole world. The prophet was very properly put into prison for his predictions, but nevertheless he had done his work and completely confounded the merchants. Long afterwards, even at a time of most profitable transactions, the merchants talked of Antichrist when they went to the tavern to drink their tea. Many of the official class and of the gentry could not help thinking about it too, and infected by the mysticism which was, as is well known, all the fashion then, saw in every letter of the name Napoleon some peculiar significance, some even discovered Apocalyptic numbers in it. And so there is nothing surprising in the fact that the officials unconsciously thought on the same lines; but they soon pulled themselves together, realising that their imaginations were running away with them, and that all this was nonsense. They pondered and pondered and discussed and discussed and at last decided that it would not be amiss to question Nozdryov thoroughly again. Since he was the first to tell the story of the dead souls and was, so it was said, on very intimate terms with Tchitchikov, and therefore would undoubtedly know something about the circumstances of his life, it was decided to try again what Nozdryov could tell them.

Strange people were these official gentlemen, and so indeed are the gentlemen of all other callings too: they knew perfectly well that Nozdryov was a liar, that one could not believe