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Taras Bulba and Other Tales

How The Two Ivans Quarrelled
Chapter 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.
 
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