Read an Excerpt
CHAPTER IIt was nearly eight o'clock in the morning when the titular councillor1 Yakov Petrovich Goliadkin came to after a long sleep, yawned, stretched, and finally opened his eyes all the way. For some two minutes, however, he lay motionless on his bed, like a man who is not fully certain whether he is awake or still asleep, whether what is happening around him now is a reality or a continuation of the disordered reveries of his sleep. Soon, though, Mr. Goliadkin's senses began to receive their usual everyday impressions more clearly and distinctly. The dirtyish green, sooty, and dusty walls of his little room, his mahogany chest of drawers, the imitation mahogany chairs, the red-painted table, the oilcloth Turkish sofa of a reddish color with little green flowers, and finally his clothes, hastily taken off the night before and thrown in a heap on the sofa, all gazed at him familiarly. Finally, the gray autumn day, dull and dirty, peeked into his room through the dim window so crossly and with such a sour grimace that Mr. Goliadkin could in no way doubt any longer that he was not in some far-off kingdom but in the city of Petersburg, in the capital, on Shestilavochnaya Street, on the fourth floor of a quite large tenement house, in his own apartment. Having made this important discovery, Mr. Goliadkin convulsively closed his eyes, as if regretting his recent dream and wishing to bring it back for a brief moment. But after a moment he leaped out of bed at a single bound, probably hitting finally upon the idea around which his scattered, not yet properly ordered thoughts had been turning. Having leaped out of bed, he ran at once to the small round mirror that stood on the chest of drawers. Though the sleepy, myopic, and rather bald-pated figure reflected in the mirror was precisely of such insignificant quality as to arrest decidedly no one's exclusive attention at first sight, its owner evidently remained perfectly pleased with all he saw in the mirror. ''What a thing it would be,'' Mr. Goliadkin said half-aloud, ''what a thing it would be if something was amiss with me today, if, for instance, something went wrong--a stray pimple popped out somehow or some other sort of unpleasantness occurred; however, so far it's not bad; so far everything's going well.'' Very glad that everything was going well, Mr. Goliadkin put the mirror back in its former place, and, despite the fact that he was barefoot and still wearing the costume in which he was accustomed to go to bed, he rushed to the window and, with great concern, began searching with his eyes for something in the courtyard on which the windows of his apartment gave. Apparently whatever he was searching for in the yard also satisfied him completely; his face lit up with a self-satisfied smile. Then--though not without having first peeked behind the partition into the closet of his valet Petrushka and made sure that Petrushka was not in it-- he tiptoed to the desk, unlocked one of the drawers, rummaged about in the hindmost corner of that drawer, finally took out a shabby green wallet from under some old yellow papers and trash, opened it warily, and peeked carefully and with delight into its remotest secret pocket. Probably a wad of green, gray, blue, red, and multicolored bits of paper looked back quite affably and approvingly at Mr. Goliadkin: with a beaming face he placed the opened wallet on the table before him and rubbed his hands energetically as a sign of the greatest pleasure. Finally he took it out, his comforting wad of banknotes, and for the hundredth time--that is, counting only from yesterday--began to re-count them, painstakingly rubbing each leaf between his thumb and index finger. ''Seven hundred and fifty roubles in banknotes!'' he finished finally in a half-whisper. ''Seven hundred and fifty roubles...a significant sum! An agreeable sum,'' he went on in a voice trembling and slightly faint with pleasure, squeezing the wad in his hands and smiling significantly, ''quite an agreeable sum! An agreeable sum for anyone! I'd like to see the man now for whom this sum would be negligible! A man can go far on such a sum...''''What is this, though?'' thought Mr. Goliadkin. ''Where is Petrushka?'' Still wearing the same costume, he peeked once more behind the partition. Again Petrushka was not to be found behind the partition; there was only a samovar left on the floor there, angry, excited, and beside itself, constantly threatening to run away, and babbling to Mr. Goliadkin heatedly, quickly, in its abstruse language, lisping and swallowing its R's--probably saying something like, ''Take me, good people, I'm perfectly ripe and ready.''''Devil take it!'' thought Mr. Goliadkin. ''The lazy brute may finally drive one beyond the last limits; where's he lolling about?'' In righteous indignation he went to the front hall, which consisted of a small corridor at the end of which was the door to the vestibule, opened that door a crack, and saw his servitor surrounded by a decent-sized crowd of sundry lackeyish, domestic, and accidental riffraff. Petrushka was telling some story, the others were listening. Apparently Mr. Goliadkin liked neither the subject of the conversation nor the conversation itself. He immediately called Petrushka and went back to his room thoroughly displeased, even upset. ''This brute is ready to sell a man for a groat, all the more so his master,'' he thought to himself, ''and he did, he surely did, I'm ready to bet he sold me for a penny. Well, so?...''''They've brought the livery, sir.''''Put it on and come here.''Having put on the livery, Petrushka, smiling stupidly, went to his master's room. He could not have been more oddly costumed. He was wearing extremely shabby green lackey's livery with frazzled gold braid, apparently made for someone a whole two feet taller than Petrushka. In his hands he was holding a hat, also with braid and with green feathers, and at his hip he had a lackey's sword in a leather scabbard.Finally, to complete the picture, Petrushka, following his favorite habit of always going about casually, in home-style, was barefoot now as well. Mr. Goliadkin inspected Petrushka all around and apparently remained pleased. The livery had obviously been rented for some solemn occasion. It was also noticeable that during the inspection Petrushka looked at his master with some strange expectation, and followed his every movement with extraordinary curiosity, which greatly embarrassed Mr. Goliadkin.''Well, and the carriage?''''The carriage has come, too.''''For the whole day?''''For the whole day. Twenty-five, in banknotes.''2''And they've brought the boots?''''And they've brought the boots.''''Blockhead! Can't you say they've brought them, sir? Bring them here.''Having expressed his satisfaction that the boots fit well, Mr. Goliadkin asked for tea, a wash and a shave. He shaved rather painstakingly and washed in the same way, hastily sipped some tea, and proceeded to his main, definitive dressing: he put on almost perfectly new trousers; then a shirt front with little bronze buttons, a waistcoat with rather bright and agreeable little flowers; tied a multicolored silk cravat around his neck, and finally pulled on a uniform jacket, also spanking new and painstakingly brushed. While dressing, he glanced lovingly at his boots several times, lifted now one foot, now the other, admired the style, and kept whispering something under his nose, occasionally winking at his thoughts with an expressive little grimace. However, Mr. Goliadkin was extremely distracted that morning, because he let Petrushka's little smiles and grimaces on his account as he helped him dress go almost unnoticed. Finally, having adjusted everything properly, the fully dressed Mr. Goliadkin put his wallet in his pocket, definitively admired Petrushka, who had put on his boots and was thus in full readiness, and, noticing that everything had been done and there was nothing more to wait for, hastily, bustlingly, with little trepidations of the heart, ran down his stairs. A light blue hackney carriage with some coat-of-arms on it rolled up thunderingly to the porch. Petrushka, exchanging winks with the coachman and various idlers, seated his master in the carriage; in an unaccustomed voice and barely holding back his foolish laughter, he shouted: ''Gee-up!'' and jumped onto the tailboard, and the whole thing, with noise and thunder, jingling and clattering, rolled off towards Nevsky Prospect.3 The blue carriage had no sooner driven through the gate than Mr. Goliadkin rubbed his hands convulsively and dissolved into quiet, inaudible laughter, like a man of merry character who has managed to play a nice trick and is as glad of it as glad can be. However, immediately following this fit of merriment, the laughter on Mr. Goliadkin's face changed to a strangely preoccupied expression. Though the weather was damp and gray, he lowered both windows of the carriage and began looking concernedly to right and left at passersby, immediately assuming a decent and decorous air as soon as he noticed someone looking at him. At the turn from Liteinaya onto Nevsky, he gave a start from a most unpleasant sensation and, wincing like some poor fellow whose corn has accidentally been stepped on, hastily and even fearfully pressed himself into the darkest corner of the carriage. The thing was that he had met two of his colleagues, two young clerks from the department where he himself worked. The clerks, as it seemed to Mr. Goliadkin, were for their own part also extremely perplexed at meeting their colleague in this fashion; one of them even pointed his finger at Mr. Goliadkin. It even seemed to Mr. Goliadkin that the other called him loudly by name, which, naturally, was quite an improper thing to do in the street. Our hero stayed hidden and did not respond. ''Little brats!'' he began to reason with himself. ''Well, what's so strange? A man in a carriage; a man needs to be in a carriage, so he takes a carriage. Simply trash! I know them--they're simply brats who ought to be whipped! They only play pitch-and-toss on payday and mooch about somewhere, that's what they do. I could tell them all a thing or two, only...'' Mr. Goliadkin did not finish and went dead. A brisk pair of pretty Kazan horses, quite familiar to Mr. Goliadkin, hitched to a jaunty droshky, was quickly passing his carriage on the right. The gentleman sitting in the droshky, chancing to see the face of Mr. Goliadkin, who quite imprudently stuck his head out the window of the carriage, was apparently also extremely amazed at such an unexpected encounter and, leaning out as far as he could, began peering with great curiosity and concern into the corner of the carriage, where our hero had hastened to hide. The gentleman in the droshky was Andrei Filippovich, head of an office in the place where Mr. Goliadkin also served in the quality of assistant to his section chief. Mr. Goliadkin, seeing that Andrei Filippovich recognized him perfectly well, was looking at him all eyes, and it was simply impossible to hide from him, blushed to the roots of his hair. ''Should I bow or not? Should I respond or not? Should I acknowledge him or not?'' our hero thought in indescribable anguish. ''Or pretend it's not me but someone else strikingly resembling me, and look as if nothing has happened? Precisely not me, not me, and that's that!'' Mr. Goliadkin said, tipping his hat to Andrei Filippovich and not taking his eyes off him. ''I...I'm all right,'' he whispered with effort, ''I'm quite all right, it's not me at all, Andrei Filippovich, it's not me at all, not me, and that's that.'' Soon, however, the droshky passed the carriage, and the magnetism of the directorial gaze ceased. However, he still kept blushing, smiling, muttering something to himself... ''I was a fool not to respond,'' he thought finally, ''I should simply have taken a bold footing and said frankly, but not without nobility, 'Thus and so, Andrei Filippovich, I'm also invited to dinner, and that's that!' '' Then, suddenly remembering that he had fiunked it, our hero fiared up like fire, frowned, and cast a terrible, defiant glance into the front corner of the carriage, a glance intended to incinerate all his enemies to dust at a stroke. Finally, by some sudden inspiration, he pulled the cord tied to the coachman's elbow, stopped the carriage, and told the coachman to turn back to Liteinaya. The thing was that Mr. Goliadkin felt an immediate need, probably for the sake of his own peace of mind, to say something most interesting to his doctor, Krestyan Ivanovich. And though his acquaintance with Krestyan Ivanovich was quite recent-- namely, he had visited him only once the previous week, owing to a certain necessity--a doctor, as they say, is the same as a father confessor, to hide would be stupid, and to know the patient was his duty. ''Will all this be right, though?'' our hero went on, stepping out of the carriage by the entrance to a five-story house on Liteinaya where he had ordered his equipage to stop, ''will it all be right? Will it be decent? Will it be appropriate? So what, though,'' he went on, going up the stairs, trying to catch his breath and restrain the throbbing of his heart, which was in the habit of throbbing on other people's stairs, ''so what? It's my own affair, and there's nothing reprehensible in it...It would be stupid to hide. So I'll make believe that I'm all right, and that I was just passing by...He'll see that it must be so.''Reasoning thus, Mr. Goliadkin reached the second floor and stopped in front of apartment number five, on the door of which hung a beautiful brass plaque with the inscription:KRESTYAN IVANOVICH RUTENSPITZDOCTOR OF MEDICINE AND SURGERYStopping, our hero hastened to give his physiognomy a decent, casual air, not without a certain courtesy, and prepared to give the bell-pull a tug. Having prepared to give the bell-pull a tug, he immediately and rather appropriately reasoned that tomorrow would be better, and that now, for the time being, there was no great need. But, suddenly hearing someone's footsteps on the stairs, Mr. Goliadkin immediately changed his new resolve and, just by the way, though maintaining a most resolute air, rang at Krestyan Ivanovich's door.