Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/62

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

through as you don't know yourself. I'll make you go down on your knees to me! I'll let you go hungry!' And the poor boy wore out his knees and went hungry for days together without knowing what for. 'Cleverness and talent are all nonsense,' he used to say; 'all I look at is conduct. I would give full marks on every subject to a boy who did not know his A B C if he behaved himself properly. And if I see a boy showing a bad spirit or turning things into ridicule, I'd give him a nought, even if he were wiser than Solon.' So said the teacher, who had a mortal hatred for Krylov because he said, 'Better a drunkard who understands his job than a sober man who doesn't,' and who always described with gratification in his face and in his voice, how the stillness in the school in which he used to teach was so great that they could hear a fly move, and that in the course of a whole year not one single pupil coughed or blew his nose in class, and that until the bell rang one could not have told whether there was any one in the room or not. Tchitchikov instantly perceived the master's spirit and saw what good conduct meant. He never blinked an eye or twitched an eyebrow in class, however much the others might pinch him from behind; as soon as the bell rang, he dashed to fetch the master his three-cornered hat (the teacher always wore one); after handing him his hat he was the first to run out of the schoolroom and tried to meet him two or three times on the road,