Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To A. N. Pleshtcheyev.

MOSCOW, December 25, 1891.

DEAR ALEXEY NIKOLAEVITCH,

Yesterday I chanced to learn your address, and I write to you. If you have a free minute please write to me how you are in health, and how you are getting on altogether. Write, if only a couple of lines.

I have had influenza for the last six weeks. There has been a complication of the lungs and I have a cruel cough. In March I am going south to the province of Poltava, and shall stay there till my cough is gone. My sister has gone down there to buy a house and garden.

Literary doings here are quiet but life is bustling. There is a great deal of talk about the famine, and a great deal of work resulting from the said talk. The theatres are empty, the weather is wretched, there are no frosts at all. Jean Shteheglov is captivated by the Tolstoyans. Merezhkovsky sits at home as of old, lost in a labyrinth of deep researches, and as of old is very nice; of Chekhov they say he has married the heiress Sibiryakov and got five millions dowry — all Petersburg is talking of it. For whose benefit and for what object this slander, I am utterly unable to imagine. It’s positively sickening to read letters from Petersburg.

I have not seen Ostrovsky this year. . . .

We shall probably not meet very soon, as I am going away in March and shall not return to the North before November. I shall not keep a flat in Moscow, as that pleasure is beyond my means. I shall stay in Petersburg.

I embrace you warmly. By the way, a little explanation in private. One day at dinner in Paris, persuading me to remain there, you offered to lend me money. I refused, and it seemed to me my refusal hurt and vexed you, and I fancied that when we parted there was a touch of coldness on your side. Possibly I am mistaken, but if I am right I assure you, my dear friend, on my word of honour, that I refused not because I did not care to be under an obligation to you, but simply from a feeling of self-preservation; I was behaving stupidly in Paris, and an extra thousand francs would only have been bad for my health. Believe me that if I had needed it, I would have asked you for a loan as readily as Suvorin.

God keep you.

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