Act IV - Scene V

[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 cigar.]

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

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 me!

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 schools.