Act II - Scene I

OSIP [lying on his master's bed]: The devil take it! I'm so hungry. There's a racket in my belly, as if a whole regiment were blowing trumpets. We'll never reach home. I'd like to know what we are going to do. Two months already since we left St. Pete. He's gone through all his cash, the precious buck, so now he sticks here with his tail between his legs and takes it easy. We'd have had enough and more than enough to pay for the fare, but no he must exhibit himself in every town. [Imitates him.] "Osip, get me the best room to be had and order the best dinner they serve. I can't stand bad food. I must have the best." It would be all right for a somebody, but for a common copying clerk! Goes and gets acquainted with the other travellers, plays cards, and plays himself out of his last penny. Oh, I'm sick of this life. It's better in our village, really. There isn't so much going on, but then there is less to bother about. You get yourself a wife and lie on the stove all the time and eat pie. Of course, if you wanted to tell the truth, there's no denying it that there's nothing like living in St. Pete. All you want is money. And then you can live smart and classy—theeadres, dogs to dance for you, everything, and everybody talks so genteel, pretty near like in high society. If you go to the Schukin bazaar, the shopkeepers cry, "Gentlemen," at you. You sit with the officials in the ferry boat. If you want company, you go into a shop. A sport there will tell you about life in the barracks and explain the meaning of every star in the sky, so that you see them all as if you held them in your hand. Then an old officer's wife will gossip, or a pretty chambermaid will dart a look at you—ta, ta, ta! [Smirks and wags his head.] And what deucedly civil manners they have, too. You never hear no impolite language. They always say "Mister" to you. If you are tired of walking, why you take a cab and sit in it like a lord. And if you don't feel like paying, then you don't. Every house has an open-work gate and you can slip through and the devil himself won't catch you. There's one bad thing, though; sometimes you get first class eats and sometimes you're so starved you nearly drop—like now. It's all his fault. What can you do with him? His dad sends him money to keep him going, but the devil a lot it does. He goes off on a spree, rides in cabs, gets me to buy a theeadre ticket for him every day, and in a week look at him—sends me to the old clo'es man to sell his new dress coat. Sometimes he gets rid of everything down to his last shirt and is left with nothing except his coat and overcoat. Upon my word, it's the truth. And such fine cloth, too. English, you know. One dress coat costs him a hundred and fifty rubles and he sells it to the old clo'es man for twenty. No use saying nothing about his pants. They go for a song. And why? Because he doesn't tend to his business. Instead of sticking to his job, he gads about on the Prospect and plays cards. Ah, if the old gentleman only knew it! He wouldn't care that you are an official. He'd lift up your little shirtie and would lay it on so that you'd go about rubbing yourself for a week. If you have a job, stick to it. Here's the innkeeper says he won't let you have anything to eat unless you pay your back bills. Well, and suppose we don't pay. [Sighing.] Oh, good God! If only I could get cabbage soup. I think I could eat up the whole world now. There's a knock at the door. I suppose it's him.

[Rises from the bed hastily.]