Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/70

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

precious jewel!" But the petitioner would wait one day, a second, the papers are not brought to the house; nor are they on the third day. He goes to the office—the business has not been touched—he applies to the precious jewel. 'Oh, I beg your pardon,' says Tchitchikov, taking both his hands. 'We have had such a lot of work, but by to-morrow it shall be done, by to-morrow without fail! I really feel quite ashamed.' And all this is accompanied by the most fascinating manners. If meanwhile the skirt of a coat flies open a hand is instantly trying to set things right and hold the skirt. But neither the next day, the day after, or the day after that are the papers brought to the house. The petitioner begins to put two and two together: 'Why, hang it all, what's at the bottom of it?' He makes inquiries and is told: 'You have to give something to the copying clerks.' 'Why not! I am ready to give a quarter of a rouble or two.' 'No, not a quarter, but a twenty-five rouble note.' 'Twenty-five roubles to the copying clerks!' the petitioner cries out. 'Yes, why are you so excited,' he is answered, 'it's divided like this: the copying clerks get a quarter rouble each, and the rest goes to the heads.' The slow-witted petitioner slaps himself on the forehead and swears for all he is worth at the new order of things, at the suppression of bribes, and the courteous refined manners of the officials. 'In old days one did know what to do anyway: one brought the chief man ten roubles and the