Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/58

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a spittoon full of sand in a corner; the boy, everlastingly sitting on a bench with a pen in his hand, ink on his fingers and even on his lips; the everlasting copy before his eyes, 'Speak the truth, be obedient to your elders, and cherish virtue in your heart'; with the everlasting flap and shuffle of the slippers about the room, the familiar always harsh voice calling out, 'In mischief again,' when the child, weary with the monotony of his work, drew some flourish or tail on a letter; and everlastingly the familiar and always unpleasant sensation when these words were followed by his ears being very painfully wrung in the long clawing fingers behind him: such is the pitiful picture of the early childhood of which he retained scarcely a faint memory. But in life everything changes rapidly, and one day with the first sunshine and rushing floods of spring, the father, taking his son with him, drove out in a little cart, drawn by a piebald nag with a white mouth, of the kind known among horse-dealers as magpies. She was driven by a little hunchback who performed almost all the duties in the house, and was the progenitor of the only family of serfs owned by Tchitchikov's father. With the magpie they were driving for over a day and a half; they stayed a night on the road, crossed a river, lunched on cold pie and roast mutton, and only reached the town on the morning of the third day. The streets of the town dazzled the boy with their unexpected splendour and made him gape with