Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/81

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71
BOOK ONE

able address, with another pathetic appeal, with one he employed flattery, which never comes amiss, into another's hands he slipped money, in short he managed things so far successfully at least, as to get off with less ignominy than his colleague, and to escape trial on a criminal charge. But both his fortune and all his foreign treasures were lost: other amateurs of such things turned up to secure them. All he managed to keep was a paltry ten thousand, carefully put away for a rainy day, two dozen linen shirts, a small chaise such as bachelor gentlemen drive about in, and two serfs, the coachman Selifan and the footman Petrushka; and the customs house officials, moved by genuine sympathy, left him five or six pieces of soap for preserving the freshness of the complexion—that was all! This was the position in which our hero found himself again! Such was the immensity of the catastrophe that overtook him. This was what he called suffering in a good cause. It might have been expected that after such storms, such trials, such fluctuations of destiny and troubles in life, he would retire with his precious ten thousand to the peaceful seclusion of some little district town and there vegetate for ever in a chintz dressing-gown at the window of a little low-pitched house, watching on Sundays the peasants fighting under his window, or for fresh air and exercise walking into the poultry yard to feel with his own hands the hen destined for soup, and so lead an inglorious but not altogether