Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/53

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43
BOOK ONE

the devil flay your soul?' and the troika vanished amid dust and rattle.

How strange, alluring, stimulating and wonderful is the sound of the words 'on the road.' And how marvellous that road is! The sunny day, the autumn leaves, the cold air. … Wrapped more closely in one's winter coat, cap over ears, one huddles more snugly into the corner. For the last time a faint shiver passes through the limbs and is followed by a pleasant warmth. The horses race along … how seductively drowsiness steals over one and the eyelids close, and through sleep one hears, 'Not white were the snows,' and the breathing of the horses and the rumble of the wheels, and one snores, squeezing one's neighbour into the corner. One wakes—five stations are left behind; moonlight; an unfamiliar town; churches with old-fashioned wooden cupolas and blackened spires; dark log houses and white brick ones; patches of moonlight here and there like white linen handkerchiefs hung upon the walls, the pavements, the streets; slanting, coal black shadows intersect them; the wooden roofs shine like gleaming metal in the moonlight and not a soul to be seen, everything is asleep. At most one solitary light glimmers at a window: is it a workman mending his boots, or a baker busy with his oven?—what do they matter? And the night! … Heavenly powers! What a night is being enacted on high! And the air, and the sky, lofty, far away yonder, in its fathomless depths, stretching in