Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/66

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were distinguished by their ugliness and unprepossessing appearance. Some had faces that looked like badly baked bread, with a cheek swollen out on one side, and the chin bent in the other direction, with a pimple on the upper lip, which was cracked, moreover—in fact they were anything but pretty. They all spoke gruffly in a voice that sounded as if they were just going to hit some one; they frequently sacrificed to Bacchus, so proving that there are many relics of paganism left in the Slavonic nature; they used even to come to the office sometimes the worse for liquor, as it is called, which made things very unpleasant and the air anything but fragrant. Tchitchikov, who was a complete contrast to them both in his looks, in the affableness of his voice and in his complete abstinence from strong drink, could not but be conspicuous and distinguished among such clerks. But, for all that, his progress was difficult. He was under the authority of a very old head clerk, who was the very incarnation of stony callousness and insensibility: everlastingly the same, unapproachable, he had never in his life displayed a trace of a smile on his face, he had never greeted any one even with an inquiry after his health. No one had ever seen him different from what he always was, either in the street, or at home. If only he had shown an interest in anything; if only he had got drunk and laughed in his cups; or if he had given himself up to the savage merriment of a drunken robber, but there was not a