The Inspector-General/Act III

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SCENE: The same apartment as in the First Act.

Scene I[edit]

(ANNA ANDRYEVNA and MARYA ANIONOVNA standing at the window, in the same positions as at the end of the First Act.)

ANNA. There now, we've been waiting a whole hour, and it's all through your stupid vanity ; you were quite ready dressed, but no ! you must still be dawdling ! . . . Oh, dear ! not a sound to be heard of her.[1] . . . How vexatious it is ! ... There's not a soul to be seen, of course ; it's just as if the whole place were dead.

MARYA. There, mamma, really we shall know all about it in a minute or two. Avdotya must come back soon. (Looks out of the window and screams.) Oh, mamenka, mamma dear ! some one is coming—away there at the end of the street !

ANNA. Who's coming? Where? You've always got some fancy or other ! . . . Ah, so there is ! Who is it, now ? He's short—in a dress coat ! Who can it be ? Eh ? How tiresome not to know ! Who ever can it be ?

MARYA. It's Dobchinski, mamma.

ANNA. Dobchinski, indeed ! One of your random guesses, miss ! It's certainly not Dobchinski. (Waves her handkerchief.) Hi ! you ! come here ! quick !

MARYA. It's really Dobchinski, mamenka !

ANNA. There now, you only want to contradict, of course. You're told it's not Dobchinski.

MARYA. But look, mamma, look ! You see it is Dobchinski.

ANNA. Well, so it is. ... I see now. Why do you want to argue about it ? (Shouts at the window.) Hurry up, quick ! How slow you walk ! . . . Well, where are they—eh ? Tell me from where you are; it'll do just as well ! What, is he very severe ? Eh ? How about my husband—my husband? (Moves away from the window a little, disgusted.) How stupid he is ! Not a single word will he utter till he's got into the room !

Scene II[edit]


ANNA. Now, if you please, tell me—aren't you ashamed of yourself? I used to think you were the only one of them who was a gentleman. They all bolted off, and you after them! and here have I been all this while without a soul to tell me about it all. Isn't it disgraceful of you ? I stood godmother to your little Ivan and Liza, and this is the way you treat me !

DOBCHINSKI. I vow, my dear lady,[2] I ran so fast to pay my respects to you, that I'm quite out of breath. ... I have the honour to salute you, Marya Antonovna !

MARYA. Good afternoon, Peter Ivanovich !

ANNA. Well, tell us now, what's going on there ?

DOBCHINSKI. Anton Antonovich has sent you this note.

ANNA. Yes, but what is he—a general ?

DOBCHINSKI. No, not a general, but he's quite as big a swell. Such manners—such dignified ways !

ANNA. Ah, it's the very same that was mentioned in the letter to my husband !

DOBCHINSKI. Precisely. Bobchinski and I were the first to discover him.

ANNA. Good ! Now tell me all about it !

DOBCHINSKI I will. Thank the Lord, everything's all right now. At first he received Anton Antonovich rather roughly ; I assure you, ma'am, he got angry, and said that the inn was most uncomfortable, that he wouldn't come to the Governor's house, nor go to gaol for him ; but afterwards, when he found out Anton Antonovich's innocence, and had had a short conversation with him, he changed his opinion directly, and then, thank Heaven, all went well. They have now gone to inspect the hospital. ... I confess, though, that Anton Antonovich quite thought that a secret information would be lodged against him. I myself also was a little alarmed.

ANNA. Why should you be afraid? you're not an official, you know.

DOBCHINSKI. Yes, but you see, when a bigwig speaks you can't help feeling a bit frightened.

ANNA. Well, well ... all this is trifling, though ; describe what he's like personally—is he young or old ?

DOBCHINSKI. Young, quite young—about twenty-three years old ; but he talks quite like an old man. "Permit me," he says, "I will go there, and there —(gesticulates)— in very distinguished style. " I am fond," says he, " of writing and reading ; it's a bore, though," he says, " that it's rather dark in my room."

ANNA. But what's he like to look at, dark or fair ?

DOBCHINSKI. No, auburn rather, and his eyes flash like a wild beast's—they quite unnerve you.

ANNA. H'm—let's see what's written in this note. (Reads.) " I hasten to let you know, my dear, that I was in a very critical predicament ; but, relying on the mercy of God, two pickled gherkins a part and a half-portion of caviare—1 rouble 25 kopeks . . ." (Stops.) What ever does he mean by pickled gherkins and caviare, there ?

DOBCHINSKI. Oh, Anton Antonovich wrote on a piece of paper that had been used before, to save time ; there's some bill or other made out on it.

ANNA. Oh, I see, exactly. (Goes on reading.) " But, relying on the mercy of God, I think all will come to a happy conclusion. Get a room ready quickly—the one with the gold wallpaper—for our distinguished guest ; don't have anything extra for dinner, because we shall lunch at the hospital with Artemi Philippovich, but order in some more wine ; tell Abdiilin to send some of his very best—otherwise I will wreck his whole cellar. I kiss your hand, my dear, and remain, thine, Anton Skvaznfk-Dmuk- hanovski. . . ." Akh, Bozhe moi! there's not a moment to lose ! Hi, who's there ? Mishka ![3]

DOBCHINSKI (runs to the door and shouts?) Mishka ! Mishka ! Mishka ! (MISHKA enters.)

ANNA. Attend : run over to Abdulin the merchant. . . . Stop, I will give you a note. (Sits at the table and writes, talking at the same time.) Give that note to the coachman Sidor ; he's to run to Abdulin's with it, and bring back the wine. Then return here directly, and get a room ready for a visitor. Put a bed, wash-stand, etcetera, there.

DOBCHINSKI. Well, I'll hurry off now, Anna Andreyevna, and see how he does the inspecting !

ANNA. Go then, go, I'll not detain you.

Scene III[edit]

ANNA. Now, Mashenka,[4] we must think about our toilet. He's a young dandy from town—the Lord forbid that he should laugh at us ! You had better put on your blue dress with the little flounces.

MARYA. Lor', mamma, the blue dress ! I don't like it at all ! The Lyapkin-Tyapkin goes about in blue, and Zemlyanika's daughter in blue too. No, I'd much better put on my light pink[5] gown.

ANNA. Your light pink gown ! . . . really, you only say that for the sake of contradiction ! You will look much better in blue, because I wish to wear my favourite shade—straw colour.

MARYA. Oh, mamma, that doesn't suit you at all !

ANNA. What ! straw-colour doesn't suit me ?

MARYA. No. I'll bet anything you won't look well : your eyes ought to be quite dark to go with pale yellow.

ANNA. Oh, I like that ! As if my eyes weren't dark ! They're as dark as they can be ! What rubbish you talk ! How can they help being dark, when I always draw the queen of clubs, if I tell my fortune by the cards ?

MARYA. Oh, mamenka, the queen of hearts is much more your style !

ANNA. Fiddlesticks ! Nonsense ! I never was a queen of hearts ! (Exit hastily with MARYA, and speaks behind the scenes.) What an idea—queen of hearts! Goodness gracious !

(On their departure a door is opened, and MISHKA sweeps dust out. OSIP enters from another door, with a portmanteau on his head.}

Scene IV[edit]

OSIP. Where's this to go ?

MISHKA. Here, mister,[6] this way !

OSIP. Stop ! I must take breath first. Oh, what a miserable time I'm having! On an empty stomach any load seems heavy.

MISHKA. Eh, uncle, will the general be here soon?

OSIP. The general?—who ?

MISHKA. Why, your barin ![7]

OSIP. My barin ? Him a general ?

MISHKA. Ain't he then a general ?

OSIP. Oh yes, but in a different kind o' way.

MISHKA. What is he then ?—higher or lower than a real general in rank ?

OSIP. Oh, higher !

MISHKA. There now ! that's why there's all this to-do here.

OSIP. Look here, young 'un ! I see you're a smart chap—just get us somethin' to eat !

MISHKA. But for the likes of you, uncle, there's nothing good enough ready. You won't eat plain stuff—but they'll send you something, when your master sits down to table.

OSIP. Well, but what " plain stuff" have you got?

MISHKA. Cabbage-soup, and porridge, and pastry.

OSIP. Let's have the cabbage-soup, porridge, and pastry—it doesn't matter—I'll eat it all. Now let's take the portmanteau ! What, is there another door ?

MISHKA. Yes. (They both carry the portmanteau into the side-chamber.)

Scene V[edit]

(The POLICE OFFICERS throw both folding-doors open. KHLESTAKOV enters; after him the GOVERNOR, then the CHARITY COMMISSIONER, the DIRECTOR OF SCHOOLS, and BOBCHINSKI with plaster on his nose. The GOVERNOR points out a piece of paper lying on the floor to the POLICE OFFICERS, who rush breathlessly to pick it up, and butt against each other.)

KHLESTAKOV. Splendid institutions ! I'm charmed with the way you have of showing strangers all that's to be seen in your town ! In other places they showed me nothing.

GOVERNOR. In other towns, I venture to suggest, the authorities and officials care most for their own advancement ; but here, one may say, there is no other thought than how to win the recognition of the Government by good order and vigilance.

KHLESTAK6V. That lunch was excellent ; I've quite over-eaten myself. D'you then have a spread like that every day ?

GOVERNOR. No ; it was in honour of such an acceptable guest !

KHLESTAKOV. I'm fond of my dinner ! What does one live for but to pluck the flowers of pleasure ? What was that fish called ?

CHARITY COMMISSIONER (stepping forward). Labardan[8], sir !

KHLESTAKOV. It was exquisite ! Where was it we lunched ? In the infirmary, wasn't it ?

CHARITY COMMISSIONER. Precisely so, sir; in the hospital.

KHLESTAKOV. I remember, I remember—there were beds there. But have the sick got well ? There were not many of them, it seemed.

CHARITY COMMISSIONER. Ten or so remain, not more; the rest have all recovered. The place is so well organised—there's such good discipline. It may seem incredible to you, perhaps, but ever since I've undertaken the management they all get well like flies.[9] The patient no sooner gets into the sick-ward than he's well again. It's not so much done by the doctoring as by honesty and regularity.

GOVERNOR. And I venture to point out what a head-splitting business is the office of a Town Governor ! How many multifarious matters are referred to him, concerning the cleanness of the town and repairs and alterations alone ! ... in a word, the most competent of men might get into hopeless difficulties. God be thanked though, everything progresses favourably here ! Any other' governor, to be sure, would look after his own profit ; but, believe me, that when I lie down to rest, my sole prayer is : " O Lord my God, grant that Government may see my zeal and be satisfied !" . . . They may, or may not, reward me that is as they please, of course—but, at any rate, my conscience is clear. When there is order throughout the town, when the streets are swept clean, and the prisoners are well kept and locked up, when the number of drunkards is small—what more do I want ? Ah, I long for no honours ! They are, without doubt, alluring, but to the upright all dust and vanity !

CHARITY COMMISSIONER (aside). Ah, the villain, how he can spout ! It's a gift of Heaven !

KHLESTAKOV. Quite true. I don't mind saying I also like to declaim now and then ; sometimes it's in prose, and sometimes I throw off verses.

BOBCHINSKI (to DOBCHINSKI). How well, how very well that was put, Pyotr Ivanovich ! Such an observation . . . shows he's studied the liberal arts !

KHLESTAKOV. By the way, could you tell me if you have any amusements here, any places where you could get a game of cards, for instance ?

GOVERNOR (aside). Oho, my young friend,[10] I know who you mean that for![11] (Aloud.) God forbid ! We've never even heard of such a thing as a card-club here ! I've not dealt a card in my life ; I don't even know how cards are played. I can't bear to look at 'em—if ever I happen to see a king of diamonds or such like, I'm so overcome with disgust that I just have to spit to relieve myself. It did once happen that, to please the children, I built a house of cards, but I had a nightmare of the cursed things the night after ! Lord forgive 'em—how can people waste precious time over card-playing? . . .

LUKA (aside). But, the rascal, he rooked me to the tune of a hundred roubles at faro yesterday !

GOVERNOR. . . . No, I think it better to employ my time for the Empire's benefit !

KHLESTAKOV. Well, I don't quite agree with you, though ... It all depends how you look at it As long as you stop, say, after losing three-quarters of your cash,[12] it's all right. . . . No, don't say that cards are not good fun, now and then !

Scene VI[edit]


GOVERNOR. May I take the liberty of introducing my family : my wife and daughter !

KHLESTAKOV (bowing to each). How fortunate I am, madam, in being permitted the pleasure of meeting you !

ANNA. It is far more agreeable to us to make the acquaintance of so distinguished a personage !

KHLESTAKOV (with an air of gallantry). Pardon me, Sudarinya, it is quite the contrary ; the pleasure is on my side !

ANNA. Impossible, sir—you allow yourself to say that by way of compliment ! I beg of you to take a seat.

KHLESTAK6V. To stand near you is happiness enough ; still, if you insist on it, I will sit. How favoured I am, to sit at length by your side !

ANNA. Pardon me, but I cannot dare to take that as meant sincerely. . . . You have found the journey very disagreeable, I should think, after life in the capital ?

KHLESTAKOV. Excessively so ! After being used, comprenez-vous, to living in society—to find myself all at once on my travels—with dirty inns, in the depths of uncivilisation ! . . . If it were not, I must say, for circumstances which . . . (Looks meaningly at ANNA, showing off.) which recompense me for all the—

ANNA. Really, how unpleasant it must have been for you !

KHLESTAKOV. I find it quite the reverse, though, madam, at the present moment !

ANNA. Oh, how can you say so, sir ! You do me much honour. I do not deserve it !

KHLESTAK^V. Why not, indeed? Sudarinya, you do deserve it !

ANNA. Oh, I live only in the country. . . .

KHLESTAKOV. Ah, but the country, all the same, has its charming hills and rivulets. . . . To be sure, who could compare it to St. Petersburg ? Ah, Petersburg—what a life it is, indeed ! I dare say you think I am only a copying-clerk ; on the contrary, I'm on most friendly terms with the chief of our department. He slaps me on the back and says, "Come and dine, my boy ! " I only look in at my office for a couple of minutes or so, just to say, "This is to be done so, and that so." There's a rat of a clerk there, who scribbles away—tr—tr. . . . ! for dear life. They wanted even to make me a "College Assessor."[13] I can guess pretty well why. And the porter flies after me on the stairs with the blacking-brush : " Allow me, Ivan Alexandrovich," says he, "to clean your boots for you ! " (To the GOVERNOR.) But why do you stand, gentlemen ? Pray be seated !

GOVERNOR. Our rank is not high enough ; we must stand !

CHIEF COMMISSIONER. Oh, we had rather remain standing !

LUKA. Don't allow yourself to bother about us !

KHLESTAKOV. No ceremony ! I entreat you to take seats! (The GOVERNOR, and the rest sit down.) I do not care to stand on my dignity ; on the contrary, I always try to slip away unobserved ! But it's impossible to hide one's self. Quite impossible ! No matter where I go, they cry at once : " There goes Ivan Alexandrovich ! " Once they even took me for the Commander-in-chief; the soldiers rushed out of the guard-house and saluted. An officer, whom I knew very well, said to me afterwards : " Hullo, my boy, we completely mistook you for the Commander-in-chief!"

ANNA. You don't say so !

KHLESTAKOV. I know nearly all the pretty actresses, and compose all sorts of vaudevilles. I frequently see literary men ; I'm on a very friendly footing with Pushkin—often say to him: "Well, how de do, Pushkin, my boy!"[14] "So-so, old man," he'd reply. "Things might be better. ..." A regular original, is Pushkin !"[15]

ANNA. So you write too ? How delightful it must be to be an author ! And do you really write for the papers ?

KHLESTAKOV. Yes, I write for the papers too. Besides that, there are a good many of my productions, such as "Figaro's Wedding," "Robert the Devil," "Norma"[16] I really forget some of their names. It all happened by chance. I didn't intend to write, but a theatre-manager said, "Do turn me off something, old man." I consider a bit : " You may as well, brother ! " And so I knocked it off in one evening, I daresay. I have a marvellous flow of ideas, you know. All that came out under the name of "Baron Brambeus,"[17] and "The Frigate of Hope,"[18] and the Moscow Telegraph[19]—all that was my composition !

ANNA. Is it possible ; and so you were really " Brambeus " ?

KHLESTAKOV. Of course, and I correct all their verses. Smirdin[20] gives me forty thousand for that.

ANNA. And, I daresay, "Yuri Miloslavski "[21] was composed by you.

KHLESTAKOV. Yes, that's by me.

ANNA. I thought so at once.

MARYA. But, mamma dear, it says on the title-page that Zagoskin was the author.

ANNA. There ! of course : I knew you would want to argue !

KHLESTAKOV. Ah, so it was; that's true, that particular work was by Zagoskin ; but there's another " Yuri Miloslavski," and that was written by me.

ANNA. Ah, to be sure ! I read yours. How beautifully it is written !

KHLESTAKOV. I must admit, I live by my pen. My house is the first in Petersburg ; it's well known there as " Ivan Alexandrovich's." (Addresses the company generally.) Do me the favour, if any of you are ever in Petersburg, to pay me a visit—I beg, I beg of you ! I give balls too, you know.

ANNA. I can fancy with what good taste and magnificence the balls are given !

KHLESTAKOV. It's a simple affair, not worth talking about ! On the table, for instance, is a water-melon that costs seven hundred roubles. The soup comes straight from Paris by steamer in the tureen : there's nothing in the world to be compared with its flavour! I go to a ball every day. We have our whist-club there too : the Foreign Minister, the French Ambassador, the German Ambassador, and myself. We regularly kill ourselves over cards ; there's nothing to be seen like it ! How I rush home, and clamber up four flights of stairs, and just have strength to say to the cook, " Here, Mavrusha, take my great coat ! " . . . What do I say? I was forgetting that I live on the first-floor— Why, the staircase alone cost me I don't know how much. . . . And it's a curious sight to see my ante-chamber : counts and princes jostling and humming there like bees ; all you can hear is buzz, buzz, buzz ! Once there was a Minister . . . (the GOVERNOR and the rest start from their chairs in alarm). They even write " Your Excellency " on their letters to me. . . . On one occasion I took charge of a Department. It was a funny story : the Director went off somewhere—nobody knew where. So, naturally, people began to ask how was his place to be taken ? who was to fill it? Any number of generals coveted the post and tried it, but they soon gave the thing up—too difficult for 'em ! It looked easy enough, but, on closer inspection, it proved a devil of a business ! There was nothing to be done, but come to me. In a twinkling the streets were choke-full of couriers, couriers after couriers. Just picture to yourselves thirty-five thousand couriers ! How's that for a situation, I ask you ? " Ivan Alexandrovich, come and direct the Department ! " I own I was a little taken aback. I went out in my dressing-gown and wanted to refuse, but, thinks I, it'll get to the Emperor's ears, and it wouldn't look well on my record of service[22] either . . . so, "All right," I say, " I'll undertake the job, I'll undertake it ! So be it ! " I say, " I'll take it ; only remember, sharp's the word with me—sharp's the word, mind ! " And so it was; I go through the Department like an earthquake ; they all shake and tremble like an aspen-leaf. (The GOVERNOR and others quake with terror ; KHLESTAKOV proceeds with redoubled vehemence.) Oh, it's no joke, I can tell you. I gave them all a jobation ! Even the Council of the Empire is in awe of me. And why not, indeed ? I'm such a ... I don't spot any one in particular. I address them all generally, and say, "I know my power ; I know my business ! " I'm everywhere—everywhere ! I go to Court every day. Why, to-morrow, they're going to make me a Field-marsh— (Slips off his chair, and sprawls on the floor, but is respectfully helped up by the chinovniks.)

GOVERNOR (approaches, trembling all over, and struggles to speak). But, your E—e—ex (gasps].

KHLESTAKOV (sharply). What's the matter ?

GOVERNOR. Your E—e—ex . . .

KHLESTAKOV (as before). I can't make out a word you say; it's all nonsense.

GOVERNOR. Yo—ur E—e—xlncy,[23] excellency, won't you be pleased to rest a little, . . . here is a room, and all you require.

KHLESTAKOV. Bosh ! Rest a little ?! ... Stay, I think I will ! . . . Your lunch, gentlemen, was excellent. . . . I'm delighted, delighted ! (Theatrically.) Labardan ! Labardan ! !

(Exit into the side-room, followed by the GOVERNOR.)

Scene VII[edit]

(The same, without KHLESTAKOV and the GOVERNOR. ) BOBCHINSKI. There, Pyotr Ivanovich, there's a man for you ! That's what I call a man ! Never have I been before in the presence of such a swell—I nearly died of fright ! What's his rank, do you think, Dobchinski ?

DOBCHINSKI. I should think he's almost a general.

BOBCHINSKI. Well, I think that a general wouldn't do for the sole of his boots ! Or if he is a general, then he must be the very Generalissimo himself ! Did you hear how he bullies the Council of State? Let's go quick, and tell Ammos Fyodorovich and Karobkin. Good afternoon, Anna Andreyevna !

DOBCHINSKI. Good afternoon, Ktimushka ! (Both go out.)

CHARITY COMMISSIONER (to LUKA LUKICH). It's a terrible anxiety, and one doesn't know who's the culprit. We're not in uniform either ! As soon as he wakes he'll send a report about us to Petersburg! (Exit dejectedly with the SCHOOL INSPECTOR; both saying to ANNA:) Good-bye, Sudarinya !

Scene VIII[edit]


ANNA. Oh, what a charming young man !

MARYA. Akh, how delightful he is !

ANNA. But what refinement of manners! You can see at once he's in society. His deportment and all ... akh, how fine ! I'm passionately fond of young men like that—I'm simply beside myself! However, I'm sure I charmed him exceedingly : I noticed he kept looking at me all the time.

MARYA. Oh, mamma dear, he looked at me!

ANNA. Get along with your rubbish; your remarks are quite out of place !

MARYA. But, mamma, he did, really !

ANNA. There you are, arguing again ! You're not to ; that's flat ! When did he look at you, pray ? and why should he look at you ?

MARYA, Really, mamma dear, he gazed at me the whole time. When he began to talk about literature he looked at me, and when he described how he played whist with the ambassadors he kept his eyes on me.

ANNA. Well, perhaps he did once or twice, and that was only for the sake of appearances. He thought, " Oh, I suppose I had better give her a glance or two !"

Scene IX[edit]

GOVERNOR (entering on tiptoe). Sh— sh—

ANNA. What ?

GOVERNOR. I'm vexed that he has drank so much. . . . Now, supposing half of what he said was true ! (Reflects.) And why shouldn't it be so? When a man's tipsy he lets everything out : what's in his heart flies to his tongue. Of course he invented a little ; but then no story is ever told without a little ornamentation. . . . So he plays whist with Ministers, and goes to Court . . . Upon my word, the more one thinks about it—the devil knows what to make of it—I feel as giddy as if I stood on the top of a steeple, or they were going to hang me.

ANNA. I don't feel the slightest nervousness; I merely saw in him an educated, polished, well-bred young man ; but I don't bother myself about his rank.

GOVERNOR. Oh, that's just like you women! That one word woman explains everything ! You women only care about fiddle-faddle, [24] and fire off remarks without rhyme or reason. You may be let off with a flogging, but your husband will never more be heard of. You treat this gentleman, my dear, as familiarly as if he was another Dobchinski.

ANNA. I recommend you not to trouble about that. We shall see what we shall see . . . (Glances significantly at her daughter.)

GOVERNOR (soliloquising). Oh, it's no good talking to you ! What a state of things this is ! I haven't yet been able to recover from my fright. (Opens the door, and calls off.) Mishka, call the police officers Svistunov and Derzhimorda ; they are somewhere about near the gate. (After a short silence.) It's a very queer world now. One ought to be able to recognise such people by their distinguished appearance ; but this miserable stripling—how is one to know who he is? A military man reveals himself at once. When he puts on civilian dress he looks like a fly with its wings clipped. ... But then he obstinately remained at the inn, and just now gave vent to such allegories and ambiguities, that it would take you an age to make head or tail of 'em. However, he has surrendered at last. Yes, and said a good deal more than he'd need to. It's pretty plain he's quite young !

Scene X[edit]

(Enter OSIP. All rush to him, beckoning.)

ANNA. Come here, my friend !

GOVERNOR. Hush! . . . Is he—is he asleep?

OSIP. No, he's still stretching himself.

ANNA. Tell me—what's your name?

OSIP. Osip, ma'am.

GOVERNOR (to his wife and daughter). There, that's enough, that'll do for you. (To OSIP.) Well, my friend, have you been well looked after ?

OSIP. Fustrate, sir, fustrate ; and thank you kindly.

ANNA. Tell me now—a good many counts and princes visit your master, don't they ?

OSIP (aside). What shall I say now ? I dessay, if I tell 'em yes, they'll feed me even better still. (Aloud.) Oh yes, a lot of counts come and see him.

MARYA. Ah, my dear Osip, how handsome your barin is !

ANNA. But tell me, please, Osip, how does he—?

GOVERNOR. Now stop it, please ! You only hinder me with such foolish remarks. Well now, my friend—

ANNA. But what is your master's rank ?

OSIP. Oh—the usual rank !

GOVERNOR (to ANNA). Akh, Bozhe moi, how you keep on with your senseless questions ! You don't say a single word to the point ! Now, my man, what is your master like—eh? strict? Is he given to scolding you or not?

OSIP. Yes, he likes orderliness. He must have everything exact.

GOVERNOR. Well, I like your face, my friend. I'm sure you're one of the right sort. Now what—

ANNA. Listen, Osip, what does your master wear in town ; does he go about in uniform or—

GOVERNOR. Now that'll do ; really, what a magpie you are ! This is a serious business a matter of life and death. . . . (To OSIP.) Yes, I'm very pleased with you, my man ; an extra cup of tea on a journey is always acceptable ; it's a trifle cold now, so there's a couple of silver roubles for tea.

OSIP (takes the money). Oh, thank you kindly, sir ! The Lord give you very good health ! It's a great help to a poor man.

GOVERNOR. Certainly, certainly ; and I'm very glad to help you. Now, my friend, what—

ANNA. Listen to me, Osip. What coloured eyes does your master like best—?

MARYA. Osip, my life! what a charming little nose your master has !

GOVERNOR. Have done ! Let me speak. . . . (To OSIP.) Just tell me, please, my good fellow, what does your barin pay most attention to—I mean, what pleases him most on his journeys ?

OSIP. Oh, he's fond of finding out all about everything. Most of all, he likes being well received, being well entertained.

GOVERNOR. Well entertained ?

OSIP. Yes. As for me, I'm only a serf; but he sees that I'm well treated too. Lor' bless us ! One day we set off somewhere. He says, " Well, Osip, have they treated you well ? " " Shabbily, your nobility," says I. " Oho," says he, " then he's no good as a host, Osip. You remind me of him when I come along again ! " " Ah ! " thinks I to myself—(gesticulates)— " God help him ! and I'm only a nobody."

GOVERNOR. Very good ; you speak to the point. What I gave you was for tea—here's something extra for biscuits !

OSIP. Oh, you're too liberal, your high nobility ! (Pockets the money.) I'll make sure to spend it all in drinking your honour's health !

ANNA. Come to me, Osip, and you'll get something more.

MARYA. Osip, my life, kiss your master for me!

(KHLESTAKOV is heard to cough slightly in the next room.)

GOVERNOR. Sh! (Walks on tiptoe; the rest of the scene is conducted in an undertone.) Good God ! don't make a noise ! Get out of the room! (To ANNA.) We've had quite enough of you !

ANNA. Let us go, Mashenka ; I'll tell you something I noticed about our guest that can only be said in private.

GOVERNOR. Oh, they're at it again! Just go and listen to them—you'll have to stop up your ears pretty quick ! (Turns to OSIP.) Now, my friend—

Scene XI[edit]


GOVERNOR. Sh ! Those bandy-legged bears how they stump with their boots ! They blunder about as if some one's throwing forty puds out of a waggon. Where's the devil taking you to ?

DERZHIMORDA (loudly). My orders were—

GOVERNOR. Sh! (Stops his mouth.} You bark like a raven ! (Shakes him.) Your orders were—were they indeed ! Bellowing like a bull in a barrel ! (To OSIP.) Now, my man, you go and get ready there—order anything that there is in the house! (OSIP goes out.) But you . . . stand on the landing, and don't stir from the spot ! And let no stranger into the house, and above all, no merchants ! If you let one even slip past you, then I'll . . . ! And just mind, if any one comes with a petition, or even without one, if he looks like a person who would present a petition against me—then you kick him out head-foremost—straight ! So ! (Business.) Do you understand ? Sh ! now, sh ! (Exit on tiptoe with the Police-Officers.)


  1. The servant Avdotya.
  2. Kumushka, a familiar term of address. Like the English word "gossip," it strictly means "fellow-sponsor," "godmother. "
  3. Diminutive of Mikhail.
  4. Diminutive of Masha, the familiar form for Marya.
  5. Tsoyeinoye—literally, any bright colour.
  6. Dyadyushka, diminutive of dyadya, uncle.
  7. Master ; strictly speaking, a nobleman.
  8. Salted or dried codfish.
  9. In allusion to the Russian popular saying, " Umrut kak mukhi muzhiki" (The muzhiks die like flies.)
  10. Golubchik, my little pigeon.
  11. Literally, in whose garden you throw stones—a proverbial expression.
  12. Literally, after bending down three corners of your scoringcard.
  13. Kollezhki Assessor, the eighth grade or chin in the Civil Service, with the title of Vuisokoblagharodye (Nobility). See Note II. at the end.
  14. Brat, literally " brother," the most common form of address to an equal or inferior, batyushka (little father) being applied to superiors.
  15. Pushkin, the greatest of Russian poets, was a friend of Gogol's, and was alive (aged 37) at the date of the production of this play. See Introduction.
  16. The well-known operas by Mozart, Meyerbeer, and Bellini respectively.
  17. The pseudonym of Josef I. Sienkowski, a popular journalist, critic, orientalist, and encyclopaedic writer of the time, and editor of the Bibloteka dlya chteniya (" Library for Reading").
  18. A novel by A. Bestuzhev, written under the pseudonym of " Marlmski."
  19. A newspaper, edited by N. Polevoi.
  20. A celebrated publisher of St. Petersburg.
  21. A story of the Smutnoye Vremya, or " time of troubles," between the death of Theodore I., the last of Rurik's dynasty (1598), and the accession of Michael, the first of the Romanovs (1613).
  22. He refers to his official record kept by the clerk of his special department, with a duplicate at the office of the corresponding ministry.
  23. He refers to his official record kept by the clerk of his special department, with a duplicate at the office of the corresponding ministry.
  24. Or, it is a trifle to you (but it is a serious matter to me). The Russian is ambiguous.