How the two ivans quarre.., p.1
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       How the Two Ivans Quarrelled, p.1
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           Nikolai Gogol
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How the Two Ivans Quarrelled


  FIRST PUBLISHED IN 1835 IN THE STORY COLLECTION MIRGOROD

  MELVILLE HOUSE PUBLISHING

  145 PLYMOUTH STREET

  BROOKLYN, NY 11201

  WWW.MHPBOOKS.COM

  A CATALOG RECORD FOR THIS BOOK IS AVAILABLE

  FROM THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.

  eISBN: 978-1-61219-257-4

  v3.1

  Contents

  Cover

  Title Page

  Copyright

  I. Ivan Ivanovitch and Ivan Nikiforovitch

  II. From Which May be Seen Whence Arose the Discussion Between Ivan Ivanovitch and Ivan Nikiforovitch

  III. What Took Place After Ivan Ivanovitch’s Quarrel with Ivan Nikiforovitch

  IV. What Took Place Before the District Judge of Mirgorod

  V. In Which are Detailed the Deliberations of two Important Personages of Mirgorod

  VI. From Which the Reader Can Easily Discover what is Contained in It

  VII. How a Reconciliation was Sought to be Effected and a Lawsuit Ensued

  Other Books in the Series

  I IVAN IVANOVITCH AND IVAN NIKIFOROVITCH

  A fine pelisse has Ivan Ivanovitch! splendid! And what lambskin! Deuce take it, what lambskin! blue-black with silver lights. I’ll forfeit, I know not what, if you find any one else owning such a one. Look at it, for heaven’s sake, especially when he stands talking with any one! look at him side-ways: what a pleasure it is! To describe it is impossible: velvet! silver! fire! Nikolai the Wonder-worker, saint of God! why have I not such a pelisse? He had it made before Agafya Fedosyevna went to Kief. You know Agafya Fedosyevna who bit the assessor’s ear off?

  Ivan Ivanovitch is a very handsome man. What a house he has in Mirgorod! Around it on every side is a balcony on oaken pillars, and on the balcony are benches. Ivan Ivanovitch, when the weather gets too warm, throws off his pelisse and his remaining upper garments, and sits, in his shirt sleeves, on the balcony to observe what is going on in the courtyard and the street. What apples and pears he has under his very windows! You have but to open the window and the branches force themselves through into the room. All this is in front of the house; but you should see what he has in the garden. What is there not there? Plums, cherries, every sort of vegetable, sunflowers, cucumbers, melons, peas, a threshing-floor, and even a forge.

  A very fine man, Ivan Ivanovitch! He is very fond of melons: they are his favourite food. As soon as he has dined, and come out on his balcony, in his shirt sleeves, he orders Gapka to bring two melons, and immediately cuts them himself, collects the seeds in a paper, and begins to eat. Then he orders Gapka to fetch the ink-bottle, and, with his own hand, writes this inscription on the paper of seeds: “These melons were eaten on such and such a date.” If there was a guest present, then it reads, “Such and such a person assisted.”

  The late judge of Mirgorod always gazed at Ivan Ivanovitch’s house with pleasure. The little house is very pretty. It pleases me because sheds and other little additions are built on to it on all sides; so that, looking at it from a distance, only roofs are visible, rising one above another, and greatly resembling a plate full of pancakes, or, better still, fungi growing on the trunk of a tree. Moreover, the roof is all overgrown with weeds: a willow, an oak, and two apple-trees lean their spreading branches against it. Through the trees peep little windows with carved and white-washed shutters, which project even into the street.

  A very fine man, Ivan Ivanovitch! The commissioner of Poltava knows him too. Dorosh Tarasovitch Pukhivotchka, when he leaves Khorola, always goes to his house. And when Father Peter, the Protopope who lives at Koliberdas, invites a few guests, he always says that he knows of no one who so well fulfils all his Christian duties and understands so well how to live as Ivan Ivanovitch.

  How time flies! More than ten years have already passed since he became a widower. He never had any children. Gapka has children and they run about the courtyard. Ivan Ivanovitch always gives each of them a cake, or a slice of melon, or a pear.

  Gapka carries the keys of the storerooms and cellars; but the key of the large chest which stands in his bedroom, and that of the centre storeroom, Ivan Ivanovitch keeps himself; Gapka is a healthy girl, with ruddy cheeks and calves, and goes about in coarse cloth garments.

  And what a pious man is Ivan Ivanovitch! Every Sunday he dons his pelisse and goes to church. On entering, he bows on all sides, generally stations himself in the choir, and sings a very good bass. When the service is over, Ivan Ivanovitch cannot refrain from passing the poor people in review. He probably would not have cared to undertake this tiresome work if his natural goodness had not urged him to it. “Good-day, beggar!” he generally said, selecting the most crippled old woman, in the most patched and threadbare garments. “Whence come you, my poor woman?”

  “I come from the farm, sir. ’Tis two days since I have eaten or drunk: my own children drove me out.”

  “Poor soul! why did you come hither?”

  “To beg alms, sir, to see whether some one will not give me at least enough for bread.”

  “Hm! so you want bread?” Ivan Ivanovitch generally inquired.

  “How should it be otherwise? I am as hungry as a dog.”

  “Hm!” replied Ivan Ivanovitch usually, “and perhaps you would like butter too?”

  “Yes; everything which your kindness will give; I will be content with all.”

  “Hm! Is butter better than bread?”

  “How is a hungry person to choose? Anything you please, all is good.” Thereupon the old woman generally extended her hand.

  “Well, go with God’s blessing,” said Ivan Ivanovitch. “Why do you stand there? I’m not beating you.” And turning to a second and a third with the same questions, he finally returns home, or goes to drink a little glass of vodka with his neighbour, Ivan Nikiforovitch, or the judge, or the chief of police.

  Ivan Ivanovitch is very fond of receiving presents. They please him greatly.

  A very fine man too is Ivan Nikiforovitch. They are such friends as the world never saw. Anton Prokofievitch Pupopuz, who goes about to this hour in his cinnamon-coloured surtout with blue sleeves and dines every Sunday with the judge, was in the habit of saying that the Devil himself had bound Ivan Ivanovitch and Ivan Nikiforovitch together with a rope: where one went, the other followed.

  Ivan Nikiforovitch has never married. Although it was reported that he was married it was completely false. I know Ivan Nikiforovitch very well, and am able to state that he never even had any intention of marrying. Where do all these scandals originate? In the same way it was rumoured that Ivan Nikiforovitch was born with a tail! But this invention is so clumsy and at the same time so horrible and indecent that I do not even consider it necessary to refute it for the benefit of civilised readers, to whom it is doubtless known that only witches, and very few even of these, have tails. Witches, moreover, belong more to the feminine than to the masculine gender.

  In spite of their great friendship, these rare friends are not always agreed between themselves. Their characters can best be judged by comparing them. Ivan Ivanovitch has the usual gift of speaking in an extremely pleasant manner. Heavens! How he does speak! The feeling can best be described by comparing it to that which you experience when some one combs your head or draws his finger softly across your heel. You listen and listen until you drop your head. Pleasant, exceedingly pleasant! like the sleep after a bath. Ivan Nikiforovitch, on the contrary, is more reticent; but if he once takes up his parable, look out for yourself! He can talk your head off.

  Ivan Ivanovitch is tall and thin: Ivan Nikiforovitch is rather shorter in stature, but he makes it up in thickness. Ivan Ivanovitch’s head is like a radish, tail down; Ivan Nikiforovitch
s like a radish with the tail up. Ivan Ivanovitch lolls on the balcony in his shirt sleeves after dinner only: in the evening he dons his pelisse and goes out somewhere, either to the village shop, where he supplies flour, or into the fields to catch quail. Ivan Nikiforovitch lies all day at his porch: if the day is not too hot he generally turns his back to the sun and will not go anywhere. If it happens to occur to him in the morning he walks through the yard, inspects the domestic affairs, and retires again to his room. In early days he used to call on Ivan Ivanovitch. Ivan Ivanovitch is a very refined man, and never utters an impolite word. Ivan Nikiforovitch is not always on his guard. On such occasions Ivan Ivanovitch usually rises from his seat, and says, “Enough, enough, Ivan Nikiforovitch! It’s better to go out at once than to utter such godless words.”

  Ivan Ivanovitch gets into a terrible rage if a fly falls into his beet-soup. Then he is fairly beside himself; he flings away his plate and the housekeeper catches it. Ivan Nikiforovitch is very fond of bathing; and when he gets up to the neck in water, orders a table and a samovar, or tea urn, to be placed on the water, for he is very fond of drinking tea in that cool position. Ivan Ivanovitch shaves twice a week; Ivan Nikiforovitch once. Ivan Ivanovitch is extremely curious. God preserve you if you begin to tell him anything and do not finish it! If he is displeased with anything he lets it be seen at once. It is very hard to tell from Ivan Nikiforovitch’s countenance whether he is pleased or angry; even if he is rejoiced at anything, he will not show it. Ivan Ivanovitch is of a rather timid character: Ivan Nikiforovitch, on the contrary, has, as the saying is, such full folds in his trousers that if you were to inflate them you might put the courtyard, with its storehouses and buildings, inside them.

  Ivan Ivanovitch has large, expressive eyes, of a snuff colour, and a mouth shaped something like the letter V; Ivan Nikiforovitch has small, yellowish eyes, quite concealed between heavy brows and fat cheeks; and his nose is the shape of a ripe plum. If Ivanovitch treats you to snuff, he always licks the cover of his box first with his tongue, then taps on it with his finger and says, as he raises it, if you are an acquaintance, “Dare I beg you, sir, to give me the pleasure?” if a stranger, “Dare I beg you, sir, though I have not the honour of knowing your rank, name, and family, to do me the favour?” but Ivan Nikiforovitch puts his box straight into your hand and merely adds, “Do me the favour.” Neither Ivan Ivanovitch nor Ivan Nikiforovitch loves fleas; and therefore, neither Ivan Ivanovitch nor Ivan Nikiforovitch will, on no account, admit a Jew with his wares, without purchasing of him remedies against these insects, after having first rated him well for belonging to the Hebrew faith.

  But in spite of numerous dissimilarities, Ivan Ivanovitch and Ivan Nikiforovitch are both very fine fellows.

  II FROM WHICH MAY BE SEEN WHENCE AROSE THE DISCUSSION BETWEEN IVAN IVANOVITCH AND IVAN NIKIFOROVITCH

  One morning—it was in July—Ivan Ivanovitch was lying on his balcony. The day was warm; the air was dry, and came in gusts. Ivan Ivanovitch had been to town, to the mower’s, and at the farm, and had succeeded in asking all the muzhiks and women whom he met all manner of questions. He was fearfully tired and had laid down to rest. As he lay there, he looked at the storehouse, the courtyard, the sheds, the chickens running about, and thought to himself, “Heavens! What a well-to-do man I am! What is there that I have not? Birds, buildings, granaries, everything I take a fancy to; genuine distilled vodka; pears and plums in the orchard; poppies, cabbages, peas in the garden; what is there that I have not? I should like to know what there is that I have not?”

  As he put this question to himself, Ivan Ivanovitch reflected; and meantime his eyes, in their search after fresh objects, crossed the fence into Ivan Nikiforovitch’s yard and involuntarily took note of a curious sight. A fat woman was bringing out clothes, which had been packed away, and spreading them out on the line to air. Presently an old uniform with worn trimmings was swinging its sleeves in the air and embracing a brocade gown; from behind it peeped a court-coat, with buttons stamped with coats-of-arms, and moth-eaten collar; and white kersymere pantaloons with spots, which had once upon a time clothed Ivan Nikiforovitch’s legs, and might now possibly fit his fingers. Behind them were speedily hung some more in the shape of the letter pi. Then came a blue Cossack jacket, which Ivan Nikiforovitch had had made twenty years before, when he was preparing to enter the militia, and allowed his moustache to grow. And one after another appeared a sword, projecting into the air like a spit, and the skirts of a grass-green caftan-like garment, with copper buttons the size of a five-kopek piece, unfolded themselves. From among the folds peeped a vest bound with gold, with a wide opening in front. The vest was soon concealed by an old petticoat belonging to his dead grandmother, with pockets which would have held a water-melon.

  All these things piled together formed a very interesting spectacle for Ivan Ivanovitch; while the sun’s rays, falling upon a blue or green sleeve, a red binding, or a scrap of gold brocade, or playing in the point of a sword, formed an unusual sight, similar to the representations of the Nativity given at farmhouses by wandering bands; particularly that part where the throng of people, pressing close together, gaze at King Herod in his golden crown or at Anthony leading his goat.

  Presently the old woman crawled, grunting, from the storeroom, dragging after her an old-fashioned saddle with broken stirrups, worn leather holsters, and saddle-cloth, once red, with gilt embroidery and copper disks.

  “Here’s a stupid woman,” thought Ivan Ivanovitch. “She’ll be dragging Ivan Nikiforovitch out and airing him next.”

  Ivan Ivanovitch was not so far wrong in his surmise. Five minutes later, Ivan Nikiforovitch’s nankeen trousers appeared, and took nearly half the yard to themselves. After that she fetched out a hat and a gun. “What’s the meaning of this?” thought Ivan Ivanovitch. “I never knew Ivan Nikiforovitch had a gun. What does he want with it? Whether he shoots, or not, he keeps a gun! Of what use is it to him? But it’s a splendid thing. I have long wanted just such a one. I should like that gun very much: I like to amuse myself with a gun. Hello, there, woman, woman!” shouted Ivan Ivanovitch, beckoning to her.

  The old woman approached the fence.

  “What’s that you have there, my good woman?”

  “A gun, as you see.”

  “What sort of a gun?”

  “Who knows what sort of a gun? If it were mine, perhaps I should know what it is made of; but it is my master’s, therefore I know nothing of it.”

  Ivan Ivanovitch rose, and began to examine the gun on all sides, and forgot to reprove the old woman for hanging it and the sword out to air.

  “It must be iron,” went on the old woman.

  “Hm, iron! why iron?” said Ivan Ivanovitch. “Has your master had it long?”

  “Yes; long, perhaps.”

  “It’s a nice gun!” continued Ivan Ivanovitch. “I will ask him for it. What can he want with it? I’ll make an exchange with him for it. Is your master at home, my good woman?”

  “Yes.”

  “What is he doing? lying down?”

  “Yes, lying down.”

  “Very well, I will come to him.”

  Ivan Ivanovitch dressed himself, took his well-seasoned stick for the benefit of the dogs, for, in Mirgorod, there are more dogs than people to be met in the street, and went out.

  Although Ivan Nikiforovitch’s house was next door to Ivan Ivanovitch’s, so that you could have got from one to the other by climbing the fence, yet Ivan Ivanovitch went by way of the street.

  From the street it was necessary to turn into an alley which was so narrow that if two one-horse carts chanced to meet they could not get out, and were forced to remain there until the drivers, seizing the hind-wheels, dragged them back in opposite directions into the street, whilst pedestrians drew aside like flowers growing by the fence on either hand. Ivan Ivanovitch’s waggon-shed adjoined this alley on one side; and on the other were Ivan Nikiforovitch’s granary, gate, and pigeon-house.

  Iva
n Ivanovitch went up to the gate and rattled the latch. Within arose the barking of dogs; but the motley-haired pack ran back, wagging their tails when they saw the well-known face. Ivan Ivanovitch traversed the courtyard, in which were collected Indian doves, fed by Ivan Nikiforovitch’s own hand, melon-rinds, vegetables, broken wheels, barrel-hoops, and a small boy wallowing with dirty blouse—a picture such as painters love. The shadows of the fluttering clothes covered nearly the whole of the yard and lent it a degree of coolness. The woman greeted him with a bend of her head and stood, gaping, in one spot. The front of the house was adorned with a small porch, with its roof supported on two oak pillars—a welcome protection from the sun, which at that season in Little Russia loves not to jest, and bathes the pedestrian from head to foot in perspiration. It may be judged how powerful Ivan Ivanovitch’s desire to obtain the coveted article was when he made up his mind, at such an hour, to depart from his usual custom, which was to walk abroad only in the evening.

  The room which Ivan Ivanovitch entered was quite dark, for the shutters were closed; and the ray of sunlight passing through a hole made in one of them took on the colours of the rainbow, and, striking the opposite wall, sketched upon it a particoloured picture of the outlines of roofs, trees, and the clothes suspended in the yard, only upside down. This gave the room a peculiar half-light.

  “God assist you!” said Ivan Ivanovitch.

  “Ah! how do you do, Ivan Ivanovitch?” replied a voice from the corner of the room. Then only did Ivan Ivanovitch perceive Ivan Nikiforovitch lying upon a rug which was spread on the floor. “Excuse me for appearing before you in a state of nature.”

  “Not at all. You have been asleep, Ivan Nikiforovitch?”

  “I have been asleep. Have you been asleep, Ivan Ivanovitch?”

  “I have.”

  “And now you have risen?”

  “Now I have risen. Christ be with you, Ivan Nikiforovitch! How can you sleep until this time? I have just come from the farm. There’s very fine barley on the road, charming! and the hay is tall and soft and golden!”

 
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