Page:Dead Souls - A Poem by Nikolay Gogol - vol2.djvu/85

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75
BOOK ONE

of man suddenly dawned upon Tchitchikov. 'Ough, I am a Simple Simon,' he said to himself: 'I look for my gloves and they are both in my belt! Why, suppose I buy all who are dead, before the new census lists are sent out, if I get, let us say, a thousand of them, and suppose the Trustee Committee gives me two hundred roubles a soul: why there's a fortune of two hundred thousand! And now is a good time, there has just been an epidemic, the peasants have died, thank goodness, in great numbers. The owners have been losing at cards, carousing and squandering their money most appropriately; they are running to Petersburg to go into the service, their estates are deserted and managed anyhow, and it is more and more difficult every year to pay the taxes. So every one will be delighted to let me have them if only to escape paying the tax on them; and perhaps in some cases I may get a kopeck for taking them. Of course it is a difficult and troublesome business, and there is a danger of getting into trouble again, of some scandal arising. Well, but man has been given a brain to make use of it. And the best of it is that the project will seem incredible to every one, no one will believe in it; it is true that one cannot buy peasants without land, nor mortgage them either. But I will buy them for resettlement; nowadays you can get land in the Taurida or Kherson provinces for nothing if only you settle peasants on them. And that is where I will settle them all! To Kherson with them! Let