Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To O. L. Knipper.

YALTA, February 14, 1900.

DEAR ACTRESS,

The photographs are very, very good, especially the one in which you are leaning in dejection with your elbows on the back of a chair, which gives you a discreetly mournful, gentle expression under which there lies hid a little demon. The other is good too, but it looks a little like a Jewess, a very musical person who attends a conservatoire, but at the same time is studying dentistry on the sly as a second string, and is engaged to be married to a young man in Mogilev, and whose fiance is a person like M——. Are you angry? Really, really angry? It’s my revenge for your not signing them.

Of the seventy roses I planted in the autumn only three have not taken root. Lilies, irises, tulips, tuberoses, hyacinths, are all pushing out of the ground. The willow is already green. By the little seat in the corner the grass is luxuriant already. The almond-tree is in blossom. I have put little seats all over the garden, not grand ones with iron legs, but wooden ones which I paint green. I have made three bridges over the stream. I am planting palms. In fact, there are all sorts of novelties, so much so that you won’t know the house, or the garden, or the street. Only the owner has not changed, he is just the same moping creature and devoted worshipper of the talents that reside at Nikitsky Gate. [Footnote: O. L. Knipper was living at Nikitsky Gate.] I have heard no music nor singing since the autumn, I have not seen one interesting woman. How can I help being melancholy?

I had made up my mind not to write to you, but since you have sent the photographs I have taken off the ban, and here you see I am writing. I will even come to Sevastopol, only I repeat, don’t tell that to anyone, especially not to Vishnevsky. I shall be there incognito, I shall put myself down in the hotel-book Count Blackphiz.

I was joking when I said that you were like a Jewess in your photograph. Don’t be angry, precious one. Well, herewith I kiss your little hand, and remain unalterably yours.

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