Act IV - Scene XI

[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 father—

KHLESTAKOV: Stop! One at a time. What do you want?

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, father.

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.]