Act II - Scene VI

[Khlestakov, Osip, and later the Servant.]


OSIP: They're bringing dinner.

KHLESTAKOV: [claps his hands and wriggles in his chair] Dinner, dinner, dinner!

SERVANT: [with plates and napkin] This is the last time the landlord will let you have dinner.

KHLESTAKOV: The landlord, the landlord! I spit on your landlord. What have you got there?

SERVANT: Soup and roast beef.

KHLESTAKOV: What! Only two courses?

SERVANT: That's all.

KHLESTAKOV: Nonsense! I won't take it. What does he mean by that? Ask him. It's not enough.

SERVANT: The landlord says it's too much.

KHLESTAKOV: Why is there no sauce?

SERVANT: There is none.

KHLESTAKOV: Why not? I saw them preparing a whole lot when I passed through the kitchen. And in the dining-room this morning two short little men were eating salmon and lots of other things.

SERVANT: Well, you see, there is some and there isn't.

KHLESTAKOV: Why "isn't"?

SERVANT: Because there isn't any.

KHLESTAKOV: What, no salmon, no fish, no cutlets?

SERVANT: Only for the better kind of folk.

KHLESTAKOV: You're a fool.

SERVANT: Yes, sir.

KHLESTAKOV: You measly suckling pig. Why can they eat and I not? Why the devil can't I eat, too? Am I not a guest the same as they?

SERVANT: No, not the same. That's plain.


SERVANT: That's easy. THEY pay, that's it.

KHLESTAKOV: I'm not going to argue with you, simpleton! [Ladles out the soup and begins to eat.] What, you call that soup? Simply hot water poured into a cup. No taste to it at all. It only stinks. I don't want it. Bring me some other soup.

SERVANT: All right. I'll take it away. The boss said if you didn't want it, you needn't take it.

KHLESTAKOV [putting his hand over the dishes]. Well, well, leave it alone, you fool. You may be used to treat other people this way, but I'm not that sort. I advise you not to try it on me. My God! What soup! [Goes on eating.] I don't think anybody in the world tasted such soup. Feathers floating on the top instead of butter. [Cuts the piece of chicken in the soup.] Oh, oh, oh! What a bird!—Give me the roast beef. There's a little soup left, Osip. Take it. [Cuts the meat.] What sort of roast beef is this? This isn't roast beef.

SERVANT: What else is it?

KHLESTAKOV: The devil knows, but it isn't roast beef. It's roast iron, not roast beef. [Eats.] Scoundrels! Crooks! The stuff they give you to eat! It makes your jaws ache to chew one piece of it. [Picks his teeth with his fingers.] Villains! It's as tough as the bark of a tree. I can't pull it out no matter how hard I try. Such meat is enough to ruin one's teeth. Crooks! [Wipes his mouth with the napkin.] Is there nothing else?


KHLESTAKOV: Scoundrels! Blackguards! They might have given some decent pastry, or something, the lazy good-for-nothings! Fleecing their guests! That's all they're good for.

[The Servant takes the dishes and carries them out accompanied by Osip.]