THE STEEL FLEA
versation as mere emptiness, unworthy of his imagination.
But when the English began to invite the Emperor to all their arsenals, armories, shops, and soap-sawing factories, in order to demonstrate their superiority over us in all things, Platoff said to himself: "Come, there has been enough of this sort of thing. Up to this point I have endured in patience, but beyond this 'tis impossible. I may manage to say the right thing or I may not, but I won't betray my own people."
And no sooner had he uttered these words to himself than the Emperor said to him: "Thus and so. To-morrow you and I will go to inspect their arsenal museum. There," says he, "exist such perfections of nature, that when you look upon them you will no longer dispute the fact that we Russians, in spite of all our self-importance, are of no account whatever."
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