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Contents > Author > Nikolai Gogol > The Inspector-General (Act 4) 1809- 1852
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Nikolai Gogol
The Inspector-General (Act 4)
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SCENE: Same as in Act III.


Enter cautiously, almost on tiptoe, Ammos Fiodorovich,
Artemy Filippovich, the Postmaster, Luka Lukich,
Dobchinsky and Bobchinsky in full dress-uniform.

AMMOS. For God's sake, gentlemen, quick, form your
line, and let's have more order. Why, man alive, he
goes to Court and rages at the Imperial Council. Draw
up in military line, strictly in military line. You, Piotr
Ivanovich, take your place there, and you, Piotr Ivanovich,
stand here. [Both the Piotr Ivanoviches run on
tiptoe to the places indicated.]

ARTEMY. Do as you please, Ammos Fiodorovich, I
think we ought to try.

AMMOS. Try what?

ARTEMY. It's clear what.

AMMOS. Grease?

ARTEMY. Exactly, grease.

AMMOS. It's risky, the deuce take it. He'll fly into
a rage at us. He's a government official, you know.
Perhaps it should be given to him in the form of a gift
from the nobility for some sort of memorial?

POSTMASTER. Or, perhaps, tell him some money has
been sent here by post and we don't know for whom?

ARTEMY. You had better look out that he doesn't
send you by post a good long ways off. Look here,
things of such a nature are not done this way in a well-ordered
state. What's the use of a whole regiment
here? We must present ourselves to him one at a time,
and do--what ought to be done, you know--so that
eyes do not see and ears do not hear. That's the way
things are done in a well-ordered society. You begin
it, Ammos Fiodorovich, you be the first.

AMMOS. You had better go first. The distinguished
guest has eaten in your institution.

ARTEMY. Then Luka Lukich, as the enlightener of
youth, should go first.

LUKA. I can't, I can't, gentlemen. I confess I am
so educated that the moment an official a single degree
higher than myself speaks to me, my heart stands still
and I get as tongue-tied as though my tongue were
caught in the mud. No, gentlemen, excuse me. Please
let me off.

ARTEMY. It's you who have got to do it, Ammos
Fiodorovich. There's no one else. Why, every word
you utter seems to be issuing from Cicero's mouth.

AMMOS. What are you talking about! Cicero!
The idea! Just because a man sometimes waxes enthusiastic
over house dogs or hunting hounds.

ALL [pressing him]. No, not over dogs, but the
Tower of Babel, too. Don't forsake us, Ammos Fiodorovich,
help us. Be our Saviour!

AMMOS. Let go of me, gentlemen.

Footsteps and coughing are heard in Khlestakov's
room. All hurry to the door, crowding and jostling in
their struggle to get out. Some are uncomfortably
squeezed, and half-suppressed cries are heard.

BOBCHINSKY'S VOICE. Oh, Piotr Ivanovich, you
stepped on my foot.

ARTEMY. Look out, gentlemen, look out. Give me
a chance to atone for my sins. You are squeezing me
to death.

Exclamations of "Oh! Oh!" Finally they all push
through the door, and the stage is left empty.


Enter Khlestakov, looking sleepy.

KHLESTAKOV [alone]. I seem to have had a fine
snooze. Where did they get those mattresses and
feather beds from? I even perspired. After the meal
yesterday they must have slipped something into me
that knocked me out. I still feel a pounding in my
head. I see I can have a good time here. I like hospitality,
and I must say I like it all the more if people
entertain me out of a pure heart and not from interested
motives. The Governor's daughter is not a bad one
at all, and the mother is also a woman you can still--
I don't know, but I do like this sort of life.


Khlestakov and the Judge.

JUDGE [comes in and stops. Talking to himself].
Oh, God, bring me safely out of this! How my knees
are knocking together! [Drawing himself up and holding
the sword in his hand. Aloud.] I have the honor
to present myself--Judge of the District Court here,
College Assessor Liapkin-Tiapkin.

KHLESTAKOV. Please be seated. So you are the
Judge here?

JUDGE. I was elected by the nobility in 1816 and I
have served ever since.

KHLESTAKOV. Does it pay to be a judge?

JUDGE. After serving three terms I was decorated
with the Vladimir of the third class with the approval
of the government. [Aside.] I have the money in my
hand and my hand is on fire.

KHLESTAKOV. I like the Vladimir. Anna of the
third class is not so nice.

JUDGE [slightly extending his balled fist. Aside].
Good God! I don't know where I'm sitting. I feel as
though I were on burning coals.

KHLESTAKOV. What have you got in your hand

AMMOS [getting all mixed up and dropping the bills
on the floor]. Nothing.

KHLESTAKOV. How so, nothing? I see money has
dropped out of it.

AMMOS [shaking all over]. Oh no, oh no, not at all!
[Aside.] Oh, Lord! Now I'm under arrest and
they've brought a wagon to take me.

KHLESTAKOV. Yes, it IS money. [Picking it up.]

AMMOS [aside]. It's all over with me. I'm lost!
I'm lost!

KHLESTAKOV. I tell you what--lend it to me.

AMMOS [eagerly]. Why, of course, of course--with
the greatest pleasure. [Aside.] Bolder! Bolder!
Holy Virgin, stand by me!

KHLESTAKOV. I've run out of cash on the road, what
with one thing and another, you know. I'll let you
have it back as soon as I get to the village.

AMMOS. Please don't mention it! It is a great honor
to have you take it. I'll try to deserve it--by putting
forth the best of my feeble powers, by my zeal and
ardor for the government. [Rises from the chair and
draws himself up straight with his hands hanging at his
sides.] I will not venture to disturb you longer with
my presence. You don't care to give any orders?

KHLESTAKOV. What orders?

JUDGE. I mean, would you like to give orders for
the district court here?

KHLESTAKOV. What for? I have nothing to do with
the court now. No, nothing. Thank you very much.

AMMOS [bowing and leaving. Aside.]. Now the
town is ours.

KHLESTAKOV. The Judge is a fine fellow.


Khlestakov and the Postmaster.

POSTMASTER [in uniform, sword in hand. Drawing
himself up]. I have the honor to present myself--
Postmaster, Court Councilor Shpekin.

KHLESTAKOV. I'm glad to meet you. I like pleasant
company very much. Take a seat. Do you live here
all the time?

POSTMASTER. Yes, sir. Quite so.

KHLESTAKOV. I like this little town. Of course,
there aren't many people. It's not very lively. But
what of it? It isn't the capital. Isn't that so--it
isn't the capital?

POSTMASTER. Quite so, quite so.

KHLESTAKOV. It's only in the capital that you find
bon-ton and not a lot of provincial lubbers. What is
your opinion? Isn't that so?

POSTMASTER. Quite so. [Aside.] He isn't a bit
proud. He inquires about everything.

KHLESTAKOV. And yet you'll admit that one can live
happily in a little town.


KHLESTAKOV. In my opinion what you want is this
--you want people to respect you and to love you sincerely.
Isn't that so?


KHLESTAKOV. I'm glad you agree with me. Of
course, they call me queer. But that's the kind of
character I am. [Looking him in the face and talking
to himself.] I think I'll ask this postmaster for a loan.
[Aloud.] A strange accident happened to me and I
ran out of cash on the road. Can you lend me three
hundred rubles?

POSTMASTER. Of course. I shall esteem it a piece
of great good fortune. I am ready to serve you with all
my heart.

KHLESTAKOV. Thank you very much. I must say,
I hate like the devil to deny myself on the road. And
why should I? Isn't that so?

POSTMASTER. Quite so. [Rises, draws himself up,
with his sword in his hand.] I'll not venture to disturb
you any more. Would you care to make any remarks
about the post office administration?

KHLESTAKOV. No, nothing.

The Postmaster bows and goes out.

KHLESTAKOV [lighting a cigar]. It seems to me the
Postmaster is a fine fellow, too. He's certainly obliging.
I like people like that.


Khlestakov and Luka Lukich, who is practically
pushed in on the stage. A voice behind him is heard
saying nearly aloud, "Don't be chickenhearted."

LUKA [drawing himself up, trembling, with his hand
on his sword]. I have the honor to present myself--
School Inspector, Titular Councilor Khlopov.

KHLESTAKOV. I'm glad to see you. Take a seat,
take a seat. Will you have a cigar? [Offers him a

LUKA [to himself, hesitating]. There now! That's
something I hadn't anticipated. To take or not to

KHLESTAKOV. Take it, take it. It's a pretty good
cigar. Of course not what you get in St. Petersburg.
There I used to smoke twenty-five cent cigars. You feel
like kissing yourself after having smoked one of them.
Here, light it. [Hands him a candle.]

Luka Lukich tries to light the cigar shaking all over.

KHLESTAKOV. Not that end, the other.

LUKA [drops the cigar from fright, spits and shakes
his hands. Aside]. Confound it! My damned timidity
has ruined me!

KHLESTAKOV. I see you are not a lover of cigars.
I confess smoking is my weakness--smoking and the fair
sex. Not for the life of me can I remain indifferent to
the fair sex. How about you? Which do you like
more, brunettes or blondes?

Luka Lukich remains silent, at a complete loss what
to say.

KHLESTAKOV. Tell me frankly, brunettes or blondes?

LUKA. I don't dare to know.

KHLESTAKOV. No, no, don't evade. I'm bound to
know your taste.

LUKA. I venture to report to you-- [Aside.] I
don't know what I'm saying.

KHLESTAKOV. Ah, you don't want to say. I suppose
some little brunette or other has cast a spell over
you. Confess, she has, hasn't she?

Luka Lukich remains silent.

KHLESTAKOV. Ah, you're blushing. You see. Why
don't you speak?

LUKA. I'm scared, your Hon--High--Ex--
[Aside.] Done for! My confounded tongue has undone

KHLESTAKOV. You're scared? There IS something
awe-inspiring in my eyes, isn't there? At least I know
not a single woman can resist them. Isn't that so?

LUKA. Exactly.

KHLESTAKOV. A strange thing happened to me on
the road. I ran entirely out of cash. Can you lend
me three hundred rubles?

LUKA [clutching his pockets. Aside]. A fine business
if I haven't got the money! I have! I have!
[Takes out the bills and gives them to him, trembling.]

KHLESTAKOV. Thank you very much.

LUKA [drawing himself up, with his hand on his
sword]. I will not venture to disturb you with my
presence any longer.


LUKA [dashes out almost at a run, saying aside.]
Well, thank the Lord! Maybe he won't inspect the


Khlestakov and Artemy Filippovich.

ARTEMY [enters and draws himself up, his hand on
his sword]. I have the honor to present myself--
Superintendent of Charities, Court Councilor Zemlianika.

KHLESTAKOV. Howdeedo? Please sit down.

ARTEMY. I had the honor of receiving you and personally
conducting you through the philanthropic institutions
committed to my care.

KHLESTAKOV. Oh, yes, I remember. You treated me
to a dandy lunch.

ARTEMY. I am glad to do all I can in behalf of my

KHLESTAKOV. I admit, my weakness is a good
cuisine.-- Tell me, please, won't you--it seems to
me you were a little shorter yesterday, weren't

ARTEMY. Quite possible. [After a pause.] I may
say I spare myself no pains and perform the duties of
my office with the utmost zeal. [Draws his chair closer
and speaks in a lowered tone.] There's the postmaster,
for example, he does absolutely nothing. Everything is
in a fearful state of neglect. The mail is held up. Investigate
for yourself, if you please, and you will see.
The Judge, too, the man who was here just now, does
nothing but hunt hares, and he keeps his dogs in the
court rooms, and his conduct, if I must confess--and
for the benefit of the fatherland, I must confess, though
he is my relative and friend--his conduct is in the
highest degree reprehensible. There is a squire here
by the name of Dobchinsky, whom you were pleased to
see. Well, the moment Dobchinsky leaves the house,
the Judge is there with Dobchinsky's wife. I can swear
to it. You just take a look at the children. Not one
of them resembles Dobchinsky. All of them, even the
little girl, are the very image of the Judge.

KHLESTAKOV. You don't say so. I never imagined

ARTEMY. Then take the School Inspector here. I
don't know how the government could have entrusted
him with such an office. He's worse than a Jacobin
freethinker, and he instils such pernicious ideas into the
minds of the young that I can hardly describe it.
Hadn't I better put it all down on paper, if you so

KHLESTAKOV. Very well, why not? I should like it
very much. I like to kill the weary hours reading
something amusing, you know. What is your name? I
keep forgetting.

ARTEMY. Zemlianika.

KHLESTAKOV. Oh, yes, Zemlianika. Tell me, Mr.
Zemlianika, have you any children?

ARTEMY. Of course. Five. Two are already grown

KHLESTAKOV. You don't say! Grown up! And how
are they--how are they--a--a?

ARTEMY. You mean that you deign to ask what their
names are?

KHLESTAKOV. Yes, yes, what are their names?

ARTEMY. Nikolay, Ivan, Yelizaveta, Marya and Perepetuya.


ARTEMY. I don't venture to disturb you any longer
with my presence and rob you of your time dedicated
to the performance of your sacred duties--- [Bows and
makes to go.]

KHLESTAKOV [escorting him]. Not at all. What
you told me is all very funny. Call again, please. I
like that sort of thing very much. [Turns back and
reopens the door, calling.] I say, there! What is
your---- I keep forgetting. What is your first name
and your patronymic?

ARTEMY. Artemy Filippovich.

KHLESTAKOV. Do me a favor, Artemy Filippovich.
A curious accident happened to me on the road. I've
run entirely out of cash. Have you four hundred rubles
to lend me?

ARTEMY. I have.

KHLESTAKOV. That comes in pat. Thank you very


Khlestakov, Bobchinsky, and Dobchinsky.

BOBCHINSKY. I have the honor to present myself
--a resident of this town, Piotr, son of Ivan Bobchinsky.

DOBCHINSKY. I am Piotr, son of Ivan Dobchinsky,
a squire.

KHLESTAKOV. Oh, yes, I've met you before. I believe
you fell? How's your nose?

BOBCHINSKY. It's all right. Please don't trouble.
It's dried up, dried up completely.

KHLESTAKOV. That's nice. I'm glad it's dried up.
[Suddenly and abruptly.] Have you any money?

DOBCHINSKY. Money? How's that--money?

KHLESTAKOV. A thousand rubles to lend me.

BOBCHINSKY. Not so much as that, honest to God
I haven't. Have you, Piotr Ivanovich?

DOBCHINSKY. I haven't got it with me, because my
money--I beg to inform you--is deposited in the State
Savings Bank.

KHLESTAKOV. Well, if you haven't a thousand, then
a hundred.

BOBCHINSKY [fumbling in his pockets]. Have you a
hundred rubles, Piotr Ivanovich? All I have is forty.

DOBCHINSKY [examining his pocket-book]. I have
only twenty-five.

BOBCHINSKY. Look harder, Piotr Ivanovich. I know
you have a hole in your pocket, and the money must have
dropped down into it somehow.

DOBCHINSKY. No, honestly, there isn't any in the
hole either.

KHLESTAKOV. Well, never mind. I merely mentioned
the matter. Sixty-five will do. [Takes the

DOBCHINSKY. May I venture to ask a favor of you
concerning a very delicate matter?

KHLESTAKOV. What is it?

DOBCHINSKY. It's a matter of an extremely delicate
nature. My oldest son--I beg to inform you--was
born before I was married.


DOBCHINSKY. That is, only in a sort of way. He
is really my son, just as if he had been born in wedlock.
I made up everything afterwards, set everything
right, as it should be, with the bonds of matrimony, you
know. Now, I venture to inform you, I should like to
have him altogether--that is, I should like him to be
altogether my legitimate son and be called Dobchinsky
the same as I.

KHLESTAKOV. That's all right. Let him be called
Dobchinsky. That's possible.

DOBCHINSKY. I shouldn't have troubled you; but it's
a pity, he is such a talented youngster. He gives the
greatest promise. He can recite different poems by
heart; and whenever he gets hold of a penknife, he makes
little carriages as skilfully as a conjurer. Here's Piotr
Ivanovich. He knows. Am I not right?

BOBCHINSKY. Yes, the lad is very talented.

KHLESTAKOV. All right, all right. I'll try to do it
for you. I'll speak to--I hope--it'll be done, it'll
all be done. Yes, yes. [Turning to Bobchinsky.]
Have you anything you'd like to say to me?

BOBCHINSKY. Why, of course. I have a most humble
request to make.

KHLESTAKOV. What is it?

BOBCHINSKY. I beg your Highness or your Excellency
most worshipfully, when you get back to St.
Petersburg, please tell all the high personages there, the
senators and the admirals, that Piotr Ivanovich Bobchinsky
lives in this town. Say this: "Piotr Ivanovich
lives there."

KHLESTAKOV. Very well.

BOBCHINSKY. And if you should happen to speak
to the Czar, then tell him, too: "Your Majesty,"
tell him, "Your Majesty, Piotr Ivanovich Bobchinsky
lives in this town."

KHLESTAKOV. Very well.

BOBCHINSKY. Pardon me for having troubled you
with my presence.

KHLESTAKOV. Not at all, not at all. It was my
pleasure. [Sees them to the door.]


KHLESTAKOV [alone]. My, there are a lot of officials
here. They seem to be taking me for a government
functionary. To be sure, I threw dust in their
eyes yesterday. What a bunch of fools! I'll write all
about it to Triapichkin in St. Petersburg. He'll write
them up in the papers. Let him give them a nice walloping.--
Ho, Osip, give me paper and ink.

OSIP [looking in at the door]. D'rectly.

KHLESTAKOV. Anybody gets caught in Triapichkin's
tongue had better look out. For the sake of a witticism
he wouldn't spare his own father. They are good people
though, these officials. It's a nice trait of theirs to lend
me money. I'll just see how much it all mounts up to.
Here's three hundred from the Judge and three hundred
from the Postmaster--six hundred, seven hundred,
eight hundred-- What a greasy bill!-- Eight hundred,
nine hundred.--Oho! Rolls up to more than a
thousand! Now, if I get you, captain, now! We'll see
who'll do whom!


Khlestakov and Osip entering with paper and ink.

KHLESTAKOV. Now, you simpleton, you see how they
receive and treat me. [Begins to write.]

OSIP. Yes, thank God! But do you know what, Ivan


OSIP. Leave this place. Upon my word, it's time.

KHLESTAKOV [writing]. What nonsense! Why?

OSIP. Just so. God be with them. You've had a
good time here for two days. It's enough. What's the
use of having anything more to do with them? Spit on
them. You don't know what may happen. Somebody
else may turn up. Upon my word, Ivan Aleksandrovich.
And the horses here are fine. We'll gallop away
like a breeze.

KHLESTAKOV [writing]. No, I'd like to stay a little
longer. Let's go tomorrow.

OSIP. Why tomorrow? Let's go now, Ivan Aleksandrovich,
now, 'pon my word. To be sure, it's a great
honor and all that. But really we'd better go as quick
as we can. You see, they've taken you for somebody
else, honest. And your dad will be angry because you
dilly-dallied so long. We'd gallop off so smartly.
They'd give us first-class horses here.

KHLESTAKOV [writing]. All right. But first take
this letter to the postoffice, and, if you like, order post
horses at the same time. Tell the postilions that they
should drive like couriers and sing songs, and I'll give
them a ruble each. [Continues to write.] I wager
Triapichkin will die laughing.

OSIP. I'll send the letter off by the man here. I'd
rather be packing in the meanwhile so as to lose no

KHLESTAKOV. All right. Bring me a candle.

OSIP [outside the door, where he is heard speaking].
Say, partner, go to the post office and mail a letter, and
tell the postmaster to frank it. And have a coach sent
round at once, the very best courier coach; and tell
them the master doesn't pay fare. He travels at the
expense of the government. And make them hurry, or
else the master will be angry. Wait, the letter isn't
ready yet.

KHLESTAKOV. I wonder where he lives now, on
Pochtamtskaya or Grokhovaya Street. He likes to move
often, too, to get out of paying rent. I'll make a guess
and send it to Pochtamtskaya Street. [Folds the letter
and addresses it.]

Osip brings the candle. Khlestakov seals the letter
with sealing wax. At that moment Derzhimorda's voice
is heard saying: "Where are you going, whiskers?
You've been told that nobody is allowed to come in."

KHLESTAKOV [giving the letter to Osip]. There,
have it mailed.

MERCHANT'S VOICE. Let us in, brother. You have
no right to keep us out. We have come on business.

DERZHIMORDA'S VOICE. Get out of here, get out of
here! He doesn't receive anybody. He's asleep.

The disturbance outside grows louder.

KHLESTAKOV. What's the matter there, Osip? See
what the noise is about.

OSIP [looking through the window]. There are some
merchants there who want to come in, and the sergeant
won't let them. They are waving papers. I suppose
they want to see you.

KHLESTAKOV [going to the window]. What is it,

MERCHANT'S VOICE. We appeal for your protection.
Give orders, your Lordship, that our petitions be received.

KHLESTAKOV. Let them in, let them in. Osip, tell
them to come in.

Osip goes out.

KHLESTAKOV [takes the petitions through the window,
unfolds one of them and reads]. "To his most honorable,
illustrious financial Excellency, from the merchant
Abdulin. . . ." The devil knows what this is! There's
no such title.


Khlestakov and Merchants, with a basket of wine and
sugar loaves.

KHLESTAKOV. What is it, friends?

MERCHANTS. We beseech your favor.

KHLESTAKOV. What do you want?

MERCHANTS. Don't ruin us, your Worship. We suffer
insult and wrong wholly without cause.

KHLESTAKOV. From whom?

A MERCHANT. Why, from our governor here. Such
a governor there never was yet in the world, your Worship.
No words can describe the injuries he inflicts
upon us. He has taken the bread out of our mouths
by quartering soldiers on us, so that you might as well
put your neck in a noose. He doesn't treat you as you
deserve. He catches hold of your beard and says, "Oh,
you Tartar!" Upon my word, if we had shown him
any disrespect, but we obey all the laws and regulations.
We don't mind giving him what his wife and daughter
need for their clothes, but no, that's not enough. So
help me God! He comes to our shop and takes whatever
his eyes fall on. He sees a piece of cloth and says,
"Oh, my friends, that's a fine piece of goods. Take it
to my house." So we take it to his house. It will be
almost forty yards.

KHLESTAKOV. Is it possible? My, what a swindler!

MERCHANTS. So help us God! No one remembers a
governor like him. When you see him coming you hide
everything in the shop. It isn't only that he wants a
few delicacies and fineries. He takes every bit of trash,
too--prunes that have been in the barrel seven years
and that even the boy in my shop would not eat, and
he grabs a fist full. His name day is St. Anthony's, and
you'd think there's nothing else left in the world to
bring him and that he doesn't want any more. But no,
you must give him more. He says St. Onufry's is also
his name day. What's to be done? You have to take
things to him on St. Onufry's day, too.

KHLESTAKOV. Why, he's a plain robber.

MERCHANTS. Yes, indeed! And try to contradict
him, and he'll fill your house with a whole regiment of
soldiers. And if you say anything, he orders the doors
closed. "I won't inflict corporal punishment on you," he
says, "or put you in the rack. That's forbidden by
law," he says. "But I'll make you swallow salt herring,
my good man."

KHLESTAKOV. What a swindler! For such things a
man can be sent to Siberia.

MERCHANTS. It doesn't matter where you are pleased
to send him. Only the farthest away from here the
better. Father, don't scorn to accept our bread and
salt. We pay our respects to you with sugar and a
basket of wine.

KHLESTAKOV. No, no. Don't think of it. I don't
take bribes. Oh, if, for example, you would offer me
a loan of three hundred rubles, that's quite different. I
am willing to take a loan.

MERCHANTS. If you please, father. [They take out
money.] But what is three hundred? Better take five
hundred. Only help us.

KHLESTAKOV. Very well. About a loan I won't say
a word. I'll take it.

MERCHANTS [proffering him the money on a silver
tray]. Do please take the tray, too.

KHLESTAKOV. Very well. I can take the tray, too.

MERCHANTS [bowing]. Then take the sugar at the
same time.

KHLESTAKOV. Oh, no. I take no bribes.

OSIP. Why don't you take the sugar, your Highness?
Take it. Everything will come in handy on the road.
Give here the sugar and that case. Give them here.
It'll all be of use. What have you got there--a string?
Give it here. A string will be handy on the road, too,
if the coach or something else should break--for tying
it up.

MERCHANTS. Do us this great favor, your illustrious
Highness. Why, if you don't help us in our appeal to
you, then we simply don't know how we are to exist.
We might as well put our necks in a noose.

KHLESTAKOV. Positively, positively. I shall exert
my efforts in your behalf.

[The Merchants leave. A woman's voice is heard

"Don't you dare not to let me in. I'll make a complaint
against you to him himself. Don't push me that
way. It hurts."

KHLESTAKOV. Who is there? [Goes to the window.]
What is it, mother?

[Two women's voices are heard:] "We beseech your
grace, father. Give orders, your Lordship, for us to be

KHLESTAKOV. Let her in.


Khlestakov, the Locksmith's Wife, and the non-commissioned
Officer's Widow.

LOCK.'S WIFE [kneeling]. I beseech your grace.

WIDOW. I beseech your grace.

KHLESTAKOV. Who are you?

WIDOW. Ivanova, widow of a non-commissioned officer.

LOCK.'S WIFE. Fevronya Petrova Poshliopkina, the
wife of a locksmith, a burgess of this town. My

KHLESTAKOV. Stop! One at a time. What do you

LOCK.'S WIFE. I beg for your grace. I beseech your
aid against the governor. May God send all evil upon
him. May neither he nor his children nor his uncles
nor his aunts ever prosper in any of their undertakings.

KHLESTAKOV. What's the matter?

LOCK.'S WIFE. He ordered my husband to shave his
forehead as a soldier, and our turn hadn't come, and it
is against the law, my husband being a married man.

KHLESTAKOV. How could he do it, then?

LOCK.'S WIFE. He did it, he did it, the blackguard!
May God smite him both in this world and the next.
If he has an aunt, may all harm descend upon her.
And if his father is living, may the rascal perish, may
he choke to death. Such a cheat! The son of the tailor
should have been levied. And he is a drunkard, too.
But his parents gave the governor a rich present, so he
fastened on the son of the tradeswoman, Panteleyeva.
And Panteleyeva also sent his wife three pieces of linen.
So then he comes to me. "What do you want your
husband for?" he says. "He isn't any good to you any
more." It's for me to know whether he is any good
or not. That's my business. The old cheat! "He's
a thief," he says. "Although he hasn't stolen anything,
that doesn't matter. He is going to steal. And he'll
be recruited next year anyway." How can I do without
a husband? I am not a strong woman. The skunk!
May none of his kith and kin ever see the light of God.
And if he has a mother-in-law, may she, too,--

KHLESTAKOV. All right, all right. Well, and you?

[Addressing the Widow and leading the Locksmith's
Wife to the door.]

LOCK.'S WIFE [leaving]. Don't forget, father. Be
kind and gracious to me.

WIDOW. I have come to complain against the Governor,

KHLESTAKOV. What is it? What for? Be brief.

WIDOW. He flogged me, father.


WIDOW. By mistake, my father. Our women got
into a squabble in the market, and when the police came,
it was all over, and they took me and reported me--
I couldn't sit down for two days.

KHLESTAKOV. But what's to be done now?

WIDOW. There's nothing to be done, of course. But
if you please, order him to pay a fine for the mistake.
I can't undo my luck. But the money would be very
useful to me now.

KHLESTAKOV. All right, all right. Go now, go. I'll
see to it. [Hands with petitions are thrust through the
window.] Who else is out there? [Goes to the window.]
No, no. I don't want to, I don't want to.
[Leaves the window.] I'm sick of it, the devil take
it! Don't let them in, Osip.

OSIP [calling through the window]. Go away, go
away! He has no time. Come tomorrow.

The door opens and a figure appears in a shag cloak,
with unshaven beard, swollen lip, and a bandage over
his cheek. Behind him appear a whole line of others.

OSIP. Go away, go away! What are you crowding
in here for?

He puts his hands against the stomach of the first one,
and goes out through the door, pushing him and banging
the door behind.


Khlestakov and Marya Antonovna.


KHLESTAKOV. What frightened you so, mademoiselle?

MARYA. I wasn't frightened.

KHLESTAKOV [showing off]. Please, miss. It's a
great pleasure to me that you took me for a man who--
May I venture to ask you where you were going?

MARYA. I really wasn't going anywhere.

KHLESTAKOV. But why weren't you going anywhere?

MARYA. I was wondering whether mamma was here.

KHLESTAKOV. No. I'd like to know why you weren't
going anywhere.

MARYA. I should have been in your way. You were
occupied with important matters.

KHLESTAKOV [showing off]. Your eyes are better
than important matters. You cannot possibly disturb
me. No, indeed, by no means. On the contrary, you
afford me great pleasure.

MARYA. You speak like a man from the capital.

KHLESTAKOV. For such a beautiful lady as you.
May I give myself the pleasure of offering you a chair?
But no, you should have, not a chair, but a throne.

MARYA. I really don't know--I really must go
[She sits down.]

KHLESTAKOV. What a beautiful scarf that is.

MARYA. You are making fun of me. You're only
ridiculing the provincials.

KHLESTAKOV. Oh, mademoiselle, how I long to be
your scarf, so that I might embrace your lily neck.

MARYA. I haven't the least idea what you are talking
about--scarf!-- Peculiar weather today, isn't

KHLESTAKOV. Your lips, mademoiselle, are better
than any weather.

MARYA. You are just saying that--I should like to
ask you--I'd rather you would write some verses in
my album for a souvenir. You must know very many.

KHLESTAKOV. Anything you desire, mademoiselle.
Ask! What verses will you have?

MARYA. Any at all. Pretty, new verses.

KHLESTAKOV. Oh, what are verses! I know a lot of

MARYA. Well, tell me. What verses will you write
for me?

KHLESTAKOV. What's the use? I know them anyway.

MARYA. I love them so.

KHLESTAKOV. I have lots of them--of every sort. If
you like, for example, I'll give you this: "Oh, thou, mortal
man, who in thy anguish murmurest against God--"
and others. I can't remember them now. Besides, it's
all bosh. I'd rather offer you my love instead, which ever
since your first glance-- [Moves his chair nearer.]

MARYA. Love? I don't understand love. I never
knew what love is. [Moves her chair away.]

KHLESTAKOV. Why do you move your chair away?
It is better for us to sit near each other.

MARYA [moving away]. Why near? It's all the
same if it's far away.

KHLESTAKOV [moving nearer]. Why far? It's all
the same if it's near.

MARYA [moving away]. But what for?

KHLESTAKOV [moving nearer]. It only seems near
to you. Imagine it's far. How happy I would be,
mademoiselle, if I could clasp you in my embrace.

MARYA [looking through the window]. What is
that? It looked as if something had flown by. Was it
a magpie or some other bird?

KHLESTAKOV [kisses her shoulder and looks through
the window]. It's a magpie.

MARYA [rises indignantly]. No, that's too much--
Such rudeness, such impertinence.

KHLESTAKOV [holding her back]. Forgive me, mademoiselle.
I did it only out of love--only out of love,
nothing else.

MARYA. You take me for a silly provincial wench.
[Struggles to go away.]

KHLESTAKOV [still holding her back]. It's out of
love, really--out of love. It was just a little fun.
Marya Antonovna, don't be angry. I'm ready to beg
your forgiveness on my knees. [Falls on his knees.]
Forgive me, do forgive me! You see, I am on my knees.


The same and Anna Andreyevna.

ANNA [seeing Khlestakov on his knees]. Oh, what
a situation!

KHLESTAKOV [rising]. Oh, the devil!

ANNA [to Marya]. What does this mean? What
does this behavior mean?

MARYA. I, mother--

ANNA. Go away from here. Do you hear? And
don't you dare to show your face to me. [Marya goes
out in tears.] Excuse me. I must say I'm greatly

KHLESTAKOV [aside]. She's very appetizing, too.
She's not bad-looking, either. [Flings himself on his
knees.] Madam, you see I am burning with love.

ANNA. What! You on your knees? Please get up,
please get up. This floor isn't very clean.

KHLESTAKOV. No, I must be on my knees before
you. I must. Pronounce the verdict. Is it life or

ANNA. But please--I don't quite understand the
significance of your words. If I am not mistaken, you
are making a proposal for my daughter.

KHLESTAKOV. No, I am in love with you. My life
hangs by a thread. If you don't crown my steadfast
love, then I am not fit to exist in this world. With a
burning flame in my bosom, I pray for your hand.

ANNA. But please remember I am in a certain way

KHLESTAKOV. That's nothing. Love knows no distinction.
It was Karamzin who said: "The laws condemn."
We will fly in the shadow of a brook. Your
hand! I pray for your hand!


The same and Marya Antonovna.

MARYA [running in suddenly]. Mamma, papa says
you should--[seeing Khlestakov on his knees, exclaims:]
Oh, what a situation!

ANNA. Well, what do you want? Why did you come
in here? What for? What sort of flightiness is this?
Breaks in like a cat leaping out of smoke. Well, what
have you found so wonderful? What's gotten into your
head again? Really, she behaves like a child of three.
She doesn't act a bit like a girl of eighteen, not a bit.
I don't know when you'll get more sense into your head,
when you'll behave like a decent, well-bred girl, when
you'll know what good manners are and a proper demeanor.

MARYA [through her tears]. Mamma, I really didn't

ANNA. There's always a breeze blowing through
your head. You act like Liapkin-Tiapkin's daughter.
Why should you imitate them? You shouldn't imitate
them. You have other examples to follow. You have
your mother before you. She's the example to follow.

KHLESTAKOV [seizing Marya's hand]. Anna Andreyevna,
don't oppose our happiness. Give your blessing
to our constant love.

ANNA [in surprise]. So it's in her you are--

KHLESTAKOV. Decide--life or death?

ANNA. Well, there, you fool, you see? Our guest
is pleased to go down on his knees for such trash as you.
You, running in suddenly as if you were out of your
mind. Really, it would be just what you deserve, if
I refused. You are not worthy of such happiness.

MARYA. I won't do it again, mamma, really I won't.


The same and the Governor in precipitate haste.

GOVERNOR. Your Excellency, don't ruin me, don't
ruin me.

KHLESTAKOV. What's the matter?

GOVERNOR. The merchants have complained to your
Excellency. I assure you on my honor that not one
half of what they said is so. They themselves are
cheats. They give short measure and short weight.
The officer's widow lied to you when she said I flogged
her. She lied, upon my word, she lied. She flogged

KHLESTAKOV. The devil take the officer's widow.
What do I care about the officer's widow.

GOVERNOR. Don't believe them, don't believe them.
They are rank liars; a mere child wouldn't believe them.
They are known all over town as liars. And as for
cheating, I venture to inform you that there are no
swindlers like them in the whole of creation.

ANNA. Do you know what honor Ivan Aleksandrovich
is bestowing upon us? He is asking for our
daughter's hand.

GOVERNOR. What are you talking about? Mother
has lost her wits. Please do not be angry, your Excellency.
She has a touch of insanity. Her mother was
like that, too.

KHLESTAKOV. Yes, I am really asking for your
daughter's hand. I am in love with her.

GOVERNOR. I cannot believe it, your Excellency.

ANNA. But when you are told!

KHLESTAKOV. I am not joking. I could go crazy,
I am so in love.

GOVERNOR. I daren't believe it. I am unworthy of
such an honor.

KHLESTAKOV. If you don't consent to give me your
daughter Marya Antonovna's hand, then I am ready to
do the devil knows what.

GOVERNOR. I cannot believe it. You deign to joke,
your Excellency.

ANNA. My, what a blockhead! Really! When you
are told over and over again!

GOVERNOR. I can't believe it.

KHLESTAKOV. Give her to me, give her to me! I
am a desperate man and I may do anything. If I shoot
myself, you will have a law-suit on your hands.

GOVERNOR. Oh, my God! I am not guilty either in
thought or in action. Please do not be angry. Be
pleased to act as your mercy wills. Really, my head is
in such a state I don't know what is happening. I have
turned into a worse fool than I've ever been in my life.

ANNA. Well, give your blessing.

Khlestakov goes up to Marya Antonovna.

GOVERNOR. May God bless you, but I am not guilty.
[Khlestakov kisses Marya. The Governor looks at
them.] What the devil! It's really so. [Rubs his
eyes.] They are kissing. Oh, heavens! They are
kissing. Actually to be our son-in-law! [Cries out,
jumping with glee.] Ho, Anton! Ho, Anton! Ho,
Governor! So that's the turn events have taken!


The same and Osip.

OSIP. The horses are ready.

KHLESTAKOV. Oh! All right. I'll come presently.

GOVERNOR. What's that? Are you leaving?

KHLESTAKOV. Yes, I'm going.

GOVERNOR. Then when--that is--I thought you
were pleased to hint at a wedding.

KHLESTAKOV. Oh--for one minute only--for one
day--to my uncle, a rich old man. I'll be back tomorrow.

GOVERNOR. We would not venture, of course, to hold
you back, and we hope for your safe return.

KHLESTAKOV. Of course, of course, I'll come back at
once. Good-by, my dear--no, I simply can't express
my feelings. Good-by, my heart. [Kisses Marya's

GOVERNOR. Don't you need something for the road?
It seems to me you were pleased to be short of cash.

KHLESTAKOV, Oh, no, what for? [After a little
thought.] However, if you like.

GOVERNOR. How much will you have?

KHLESTAKOV. You gave me two hundred then, that
is, not two hundred, but four hundred--I don't want to
take advantage of your mistake--you might let me have
the same now so that it should be an even eight hundred.

GOVERNOR. Very well. [Takes the money out of
his pocket-book.] The notes happen to be brand-new,
too, as though on purpose.

KHLESTAKOV. Oh, yes. [Takes the bills and looks
at them.] That's good. They say new money means
good luck.

GOVERNOR. Quite right.

KHLESTAKOV. Good-by, Anton Antonovich. I am
very much obliged to you for your hospitality. I admit
with all my heart that I have never got such a
good reception anywhere. Good-by, Anna Andreyevna.
Good-by, my sweet-heart, Marya Antonovna.

All go out.

Behind the Scenes.

KHLESTAKOV. Good-by, angel of my soul, Marya

GOVERNOR. What's that? You are going in a plain

KHLESTAKOV. Yes, I'm used to it. I get a headache
from a carriage with springs.


GOVERNOR. Take a rug for the seat at least. If you
say so, I'll tell them to bring a rug.

KHLESTAKOV. No, what for? It's not necessary.
However, let them bring a rug if you please.

GOVERNOR. Ho, Avdotya. Go to the store-room and
bring the very best rug from there, the Persian rug with
the blue ground. Quick!


GOVERNOR. When do you say we are to expect you

KHLESTAKOV. Tomorrow, or the day after.

OSIP. Is this the rug? Give it here. Put it there.
Now put some hay on this side.


OSIP. Here, on this side. More. All right. That
will be fine. [Beats the rug down with his hand.]
Now take the seat, your Excellency.

KHLESTAKOV. Good-by, Anton Antonovich.

GOVERNOR. Good-by, your Excellency.

MARYA} Good-by, Ivan Aleksandrovich.

KHLESTAKOV. Good-by, mother.

POSTILION. Get up, my boys!

The bell rings and the curtain drops.

-------------------END OF ACT FOUR------------------

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