Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/83

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73
BOOK ONE

am a useless burden on the earth? And what will my children say one day? "Our father is a beast," they will say, "he has left us no property!"'

As the reader is already aware, Tchitchikov was much troubled about his descendants. It was such a touching subject! He would not have set to work so vigorously if it had not been for the question, which for some unknown reason spontaneously occurred to him: 'What will my children say?' And so our future founder of a family was like a cautious tomcat who, looking out of the corner of one eye to see whether his master is watching him from somewhere, hurriedly grabs whatever is nearest to him: soap, candles, salt pork, or a canary if he can get it in his claws, in fact, lets nothing escape him. So our hero wept and lamented, but meanwhile his active brain did not flag; there everything was longing to build up something and only waiting for a plan. Once more he drew himself in, once more he began to lead a hard life, once more restricted himself in every way, once more from an elegant decorous existence sank into degradation and low life. And while waiting for better times he was even obliged to adopt the calling of a legal agent, a calling which is not recognised as creditable among us; he was jostled out of the way on all sides, treated with scant respect by all the small fry of the attorneys' offices, and even by those who employed him, doomed to cool his heels hanging about in entries, to put up with rudeness and so on, but poverty