Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/30

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upon something very important; it was four whole days since he had kept his room, admitting no one, and having his food passed in at his window, in fact he had actually grown thin and sallow. It was a business that called for the closest attention; it consisted of making up out of several hundreds of cards a complete suit of the most recognisable, upon which he could rely as upon a faithful friend. He had at least another fortnight's work before him. All this time, Porfiry had to brush a mastiff puppy with a special brush and to wash it with soap three times a day. Nozdryov was very angry at his solitude being broken in upon; first of all, he sent the policeman to the devil, but when he read in the letter that he might reckon on winning something, as a novice at cards was expected at the party, he immediately locked the door of his room, dressed himself after a fashion and set off. Nozdryov's statements, his evidence and his suppositions were so completely the opposite of those of the officials that every theory they had was confounded. He was a man for whom doubt did not exist, and there was as much decision and certainty about his suppositions as there was hesitation and timidity about theirs. He answered every question without faltering: he declared Tchitchikov had bought thousands of roubles' worth of dead souls, and that he, Nozdryov, had sold them, because he did not see any reason why he shouldn't. To the question whether he was a spy and whether he was trying to find out