Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/76

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I must mention that another thing he used to dream of was a special sort of French soap which imparted an extraordinary whiteness to the skin and freshness to the complexion; what it was called, God only knows, but he imagined he would certainly come upon it at the frontier. And so he had for years been longing to get into the customs department, but he had been restrained by the various advantages connected with the building committee, and he justly argued that the customs was far away and that a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush. Now he determined at all costs to get into the customs—and he got into the customs. He attacked his duties with extraordinary zeal. It seemed as though fate itself had marked him out to be a customs house official. Such promptitude, penetration, and sharpsightedness had never before been seen or even heard of. In three or four weeks he had become so completely at home in the work that he knew absolutely everything about it. He did not even weigh or measure but found out from the invoice how many yards of cloth or other material there was in the piece; lifting a parcel in his hand he could tell at once how many pounds it weighed. As for searches, in that, as his colleagues expressed it, he simply had the scent of a hound; one could not but be amazed at the patience with which he felt every button, and all this was done with killing sang-froid and incredible courtesy. And while the victims were furious and beside themselves with anger,