Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To His Sister.

ST. PETERSBURG, January 14, 1891.

Unforeseen circumstances have kept me a few days longer. I am alive and well. There is no news. I saw Tolstoy’s “The Power of Darkness” the other day, though. I have been to Ryepin’s studio. What else? Nothing else. It’s dull, in fact.

I went to-day to a dog-show; I went there with Suvorin, who at the moment I am writing these lines is standing by the table and asking me to write and tell you that I have been to the dog-show with the famous dog Suvorin. . . .

January, later.

I am alive and well, I have no palpitations, I’ve no money either, and everything is going well.

I am paying visits and seeing acquaintances. I have to talk about Sahalin and India. It’s horribly boring.

. . . Anna Ivanovna is as nice as ever, Suvorin talks as incessantly as ever.

I receive the most boring invitations to the most boring dinners. It seems I must make haste and get back to Moscow, as they won’t let me work here.

Hurrah, we are avenged! To make up for our being so bored, the cotton ball has yielded 1,500 roubles clear profit, in confirmation of which I enclose a cutting from a newspaper.

If anything is collected for the benefit of the Sahalin schools, let me know at once.

How is my mongoose? Don’t forget to give him food and drink, and beat him without mercy when he jumps on the table. Does he eat people? [Footnote: A naive question asked by a lady of Chekhov’s acquaintance.]

Write how Ivan is. . . .

January, later.

I am tired as a ballet dancer after five acts and eight tableaux. Dinners, letters which I am too lazy to answer, conversations and imbecilities of all sorts. I have to go immediately to dine in Vassilyevsky Ostrov, and I am bored and ought to work.

I’ll stay another three days and see whether the ballet will go on the same, then I shall go home, or to see Ivan.

I am surrounded by a thick atmosphere of ill-feeling, extremely vague and to me incomprehensible. They feed me with dinners and pay me the vulgarest compliments, and at the same time they are ready to devour me. What for? The devil only knows. If I were to shoot myself I should thereby provide the greatest gratification to nine-tenths of my friends and admirers. And how pettily they express their petty feelings!

. . . My greetings to Lydia Yegorovna Mizinov. I expect a programme from her. Tell her not to eat farinaceous food and to avoid Levitan. A better admirer than me she will not find in her Town Council nor in higher society.

January 16, 1891.

I have the honour to congratulate you and the hero of the name-day; [Footnote: It was the name-day of Chekhov himself.] I wish you and him health and prosperity, and above all that the mongoose should not break the crockery or tear the wall-paper. I shall celebrate my name-day at the Maly Yaroslavets restaurant, from the restaurant to the benefit performance, from the benefit performance to the restaurant again.

I am working, but with very great difficulty. No sooner have I written a line than the bell rings and someone comes in to talk to me about Sahalin. It’s simply awful! . . .

I have found Drishka. It appears that she is living in the same house as I am. She ran away from Moscow to Petersburg under romantic circumstances: she meant to marry a lawyer, plighted her troth to him, but an army captain turned up, and so on; she had to run away or the lawyer would have shot both Drishka and the captain with a pistol loaded with cranberries. She is prospering and is the same lively rogue as ever. I went to Svobodin’s name-day party with her yesterday. She sang gipsy songs, and created such a sensation that all the great men kissed her hand.

Rumours have reached me that Lidia Stahievna is going to be married par depit. Is it true? Tell her that I shall carry her off from her husband par depit. I am a violent man.

Has not anything been collected for the benefit of the Sahalin schools? Let me know. . . .

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06