Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/63

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53
BOOK ONE

always taking off his hat when he did so. This strategy was completely successful. All the while he was at school he was in high favour, and on leaving received a full class certificate in all branches, a diploma and a book with the inscription, 'For exemplary diligence and excellent conduct,' in gold letters. When he left school he was a youth of rather attractive appearance, with a chin that already needed shaving. It was then that his father died.

His inheritance turned out to be four hopelessly worn-out vests, two old coats lined with lambswool, and a trifling sum of money. The father was evidently only competent to advise saving money, but had himself saved very little. Tchitchikov instantly sold the dilapidated homestead with its wretched little bit of land for a thousand roubles, and took his family of serfs to the town, purposing to settle there and go into the service. It was about this time that the poor teacher who so prized quietness and good conduct was dismissed for stupidity, or some other failing. The teacher began to drown his sorrows in drink, but at last he had nothing left to buy drink with; ill, helpless, without a crust of bread, he took refuge in some unheated, abandoned shed. Some of his former pupils, clever and witty ones whom he had always suspected of disobedience and impudent behaviour, hearing of his pitiful plight, got up a subscription for his benefit, even selling many things they needed to do so; only one, Pavlushka