Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/31

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21
BOOK ONE

something, Nozdryov answered that he was a spy; that even at school, where Nozdryov was with him, they used to call him a tell-tale, and that his schoolfellows, among them Nozdryov himself, had knocked him about for it so much that he had had to have two hundred and forty leeches put on his temples, that is, he meant to say forty but two hundred had somehow got said of itself. To the question whether he was a forger of counterfeit notes Nozdryov answered that he was, and thereupon told an anecdote of Tchitchikov's extraordinary dexterity; how it was found out that there were in his house counterfeit notes for two million roubles, a seal was put on the house, and two soldiers were set to keep guard at every door, and how Tchitchikov changed all the notes in a single night so that when the seal was taken off next day, the notes were found to be all genuine. To the question whether Tchitchikov were designing to elope with the governor's daughter, and whether it were true that he had himself undertaken to assist him and to take part in arranging it, Nozdryov answered that he had helped him and that nothing would have come off without him. Here he pulled himself up, realising that he had told quite an unnecessary lie and might get himself into trouble, but his tongue ran away with him. And it was particularly difficult to restrain it, for so many interesting details which he could not possibly sacrifice rose before his imagination. For instance, the very village in the parish church of which it