It’s true, our work is noble, it’s clean everywhere, as you never see it in the provincial government: the tables are mahogany, and the superiors address each other formally. Yes, I confess, if it weren’t for the nobility of the work, I’d long since have quit the department.
Ah, you pup! I confess, I was very surprised to hear her speak in human language. But later, when I’d thought it over properly, I at once ceased to be surprised… I confess, lately I had begun sometimes to hear and see things no one had ever seen or heard before.
Our director must be a very intelligent man. His whole study is filled with bookcases. I read the titles of some of the books: it’s all learning, such learning as our kind can’t even come close to… A real statesman. I notice, though, that he has a special liking for me. If only the daughter also...
Heavens above, how she was dressed! Her gown was white as a swan, and so magnificent… “Your Excellency,” I almost wanted to say, “don’t punish me, but if it is your will to punish me, punish me with Your Excellency’s own hand.” But, devil take it, my tongue somehow refused to move…
“You’re over forty— it’s time you got smart. What are you dreaming of? Do you think I don’t know all your pranks? You’re dangling after the director’s daughter! Well, take a look at yourself, only think, what are you? You’re a zero, nothing more. You haven’t got a kopeck to your name.”
I see why he’s angry with me. He’s jealous. Maybe he saw the signs of benevolence preferentially bestowed on me… Wait, friend! we, too, will become a colonel and, God willing, maybe something even higher. We’ll get ourselves a reputation even better than yours.
I’ve meant several times to strike up a conversation with His Excellency, only, devil take it, my tongue wouldn’t obey me: I’d just say it was cold or warm outside, and be decidedly unable to say anything else. I’d like to peek into the drawing room, where you sometimes see only an open door into yet another room beyond the drawing room. Ah, such rich furnishings!
So what if he’s a kammerjunker. It’s nothing more than a dignity; it’s not anything visible that you can take in your hands. Several times already I’ve tried to figure out where all these differences come from. What makes me a titular councillor, and why on earth am I a titular councillor? […] Maybe I myself don’t know who I am.
Spain has a king. He has been found. I am that king. Only this very day did I learn of it. I confess, it came to me suddenly in a flash of lightning. I don’t understand how I could have thought and imagined that I was a titular councillor.
They said the director was coming. Many clerks ran up front to show themselves before him. But I didn’t budge… What is a director that I should stand up before him… I was most amused when they slipped me a paper to be signed. They thought I’d write “Chief Clerk So-and-So”… Not a chance! In the central place, where the director of the department signs, I dashed off: “Ferdinand VIII.”
The mantle is all ready and sewn up. Mavra cried out when I put it on. However, I still refrain from presenting myself at court. No deputation from Spain so far. Without deputies it’s not proper. There’ll be no weight to my dignity.
I still cannot understand what sort of country Spain is. The popular customs and court etiquette are absolutely extraordinary… they began dripping cold water on my head. I’ve never experienced such hell before… Judging by all probabilities, I guess I may have fallen into the hands of the Inquisition, and the one I took for the chancellor may be the grand inquisitor himself.
Is that my mother sitting at the window? Dear mother, save your poor son! shed a tear on his sick head! see how they torment him! press the poor orphan to your breast! there’s no place for him in the world! they’re driving him out! […] And do you know that the Dey of Algiers has a bump just under his nose?