Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/69

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59
BOOK ONE

This was the hardest stage in his upward journey. From that time forward, his advance was easier and more successful. He became a marked man. He turned out to possess everything necessary in that world: agreeable manners and deportment and briskness in business matters. With these qualifications, he succeeded within a short time in obtaining what is called a lucrative post and made the fullest possible use of it. It must be understood that just at that time very strict measures were being taken against bribes of all sorts. He was not afraid of these measures, but turned them to his own advantage, displaying that typical Russian resourcefulness that only comes to the surface in times of stress. The way things were managed was this: as soon as a petitioner came forward and thrust his hand into his pocket in order to extract therefrom the familiar letters of recommendation signed by Prince Hovansky, as the expression is among us in Russia—'No, no,' he would say with a smile, stopping the petitioner's hand, 'do you imagine that I … no, no! this is our duty, the work we are bound to do without any recompense! As far as that goes you may rest assured: everything will be done by to-morrow. Allow me to know your address, there is no need for you to trouble yourself, it shall all be brought to your house.'

The delighted petitioner would return home almost ecstatic, thinking: 'Well, at last here's the sort of man we want more of! He's a