Page:The Novels of Ivan Turgenev (volume V).djvu/54

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SMOKE

after them a Frenchman — a so-called petit jeune homme — poked his nose in; a nasty, silly, pitiful little creature, . . . who enjoyed some repute among his fellow commis-voyageurs on the theory that Russian countesses had fallen in love with him; for his own part, his reflections were centred more upon getting a supper gratis; the last to appear was Tit Bindasov, in appearance a rollicking German student, in reality a skinflint, in words a terrorist, by vocation a police-officer, a friend of Russian merchants' wives and Parisian cocottes; bald, toothless, and drunken; he arrived very red and sodden, affirming that he had lost his last farthing to that blackguard Benazet; in reality, he had won sixteen guldens. ... In short, there were a number of people. Remarkable — really remarkable — was the respect with which all these people treated Gubaryov as a preceptor or chief; they laid their ideas before him, and submitted them to his judgment; and he replied by muttering, plucking at his beard, averting his eyes, or by some disconnected, meaningless words, which were at once seized upon as the utterances of the loftiest wisdom. Gubaryov himself seldom interposed in the discussions; but the others strained their lungs to the utmost to make up for it. It happened more than once that three or four were shouting

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