Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/64

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Tchitchikov, refused on the ground of lack of means, and only offered a five-kopeck piece, which his schoolfellows at once flung back at him, saying: 'Ough, you screw!' The poor teacher hid his face in his hands, when he heard what his old pupils had done, tears gushed from his faded eyes, as though he were a helpless child. 'The Lord has made me weep on the brink of the grave,' he murmured in a feeble voice; and he heaved a bitter sigh when he heard about Tchitchikov, adding: 'Ah, Pavlushka! how people change! Why, what a well-behaved boy he was! Nothing unruly in him—as soft as silk! I have been deceived in him, dreadfully deceived. …'

It cannot be said, however, that our hero was naturally hard and callous, or that his feelings were so blunted that he knew neither pity nor compassion. He was capable of feeling both; he would even have liked to help so long as no considerable sum was involved, so long as he had not to touch the money which he had determined not to touch; in short his father's admonition, 'Be careful and save money,' was bearing fruit, but he had no great love of money for its own sake: he was not governed by meanness and miserliness. No, those were not the motives that actuated him; he had a vision of a future of ease and comfort with enough of everything; carriages, a well-built house, good dinners—these were the ideals continually floating in his mind. It was to make sure of enjoying all this some day in the future, that the kopecks were