Act III - Scene V

[The Sergeants open both folding doors. Khlestakov enters followed by the Governor, then the Superintendent of Charities, the Inspector of Schools, Dobchinsky and Bobchinsky with a plaster on his nose. The Governor points to a piece of paper lying on the floor, and the Sergeants rush to pick it up, pushing each other in their haste.]

KHLESTAKOV: Excellent institutions. I like the way you show strangers everything in your town. In other towns they didn't show me a thing.

GOVERNOR: In other towns, I venture to observe, the authorities and officials look out for themselves more. Here, I may say, we have no other thought than to win the Government's esteem through good order, vigilance, and efficiency.

KHLESTAKOV: The lunch was excellent. I've positively overeaten. Do you set such a fine table every day?

GOVERNOR: In honor of so agreeable a guest we do.

KHLESTAKOV: I like to eat well. That's what a man lives for—to pluck the flowers of pleasure. What was that fish called?

ARTEMY: [running up to him] Labardan.

KHLESTAKOV: It was delicious. Where was it we had our lunch? In the hospital, wasn't it?

ARTEMY: Precisely, in the hospital.

KHLESTAKOV: Yes, yes, I remember. There were beds there. The patients must have gotten well. There don't seem to have been many of them.

ARTEMY: About ten are left. The rest recovered. The place is so well run, there is such perfect order. It may seem incredible to you, but ever since I've taken over the management, they all recover like flies. No sooner does a patient enter the hospital than he feels better. And we obtain this result not so much by medicaments as by honesty and orderliness.

GOVERNOR: In this connection may I venture to call your attention to what a brain-racking job the office of Governor is. There are so many matters he has to give his mind to just in connection with keeping the town clean and repairs and alterations. In a word, it is enough to upset the most competent person. But, thank God, all goes well. Another governor, of course, would look out for his own advantage. But believe me, even nights in bed I keep thinking: "Oh, God, how could I manage things in such a way that the government would observe my devotion to duty and be satisfied?" Whether the government will reward me or not, that of course, lies with them. At least I'll have a clear conscience. When the whole town is in order, the streets swept clean, the prisoners well kept, and few drunkards—what more do I want? Upon my word, I don't even crave honors. Honors, of course, are alluring; but as against the happiness which comes from doing one's duty, they are nothing but dross and vanity.

ARTEMY: [aside] Oh, the do-nothing, the scoundrel! How he holds forth! I wish the Lord had blessed me with such a gift!

KHLESTAKOV: That's so. I admit I sometimes like to philosophize, too. Sometimes it's prose, and sometimes it comes out poetry.

BOBCHINSKY: [to Dobchinsky] How true, how true it all is, Piotr Ivanovich. His remarks are great. It's evident that he is an educated man.

KHLESTAKOV: Would you tell me, please, if you have any amusements here, any circles where one could have a game of cards?

GOVERNOR: [aside] Ahem! I know what you are aiming at, my boy. [Aloud.] God forbid! Why, no one here has even heard of such a thing as card-playing circles. I myself have never touched a card. I don't know how to play. I can never look at cards with indifference, and if I happen to see a king of diamonds or some such thing, I am so disgusted I have to spit out. Once I made a house of cards for the children, and then I dreamt of those confounded things the whole night. Heavens! How can people waste their precious time over cards!

LUKA LUKICH: [aside] But he faroed me out of a hundred rubles yesterday, the rascal.

GOVERNOR: I'd rather employ my time for the benefit of the state.

KHLESTAKOV: Oh, well, that's rather going too far. It all depends upon the point of view. If, for instance, you pass when you have to treble stakes, then of course—No, don't say that a game of cards isn't very tempting sometimes.