Letters of Anton Chekhov, by Anton Chekhov

To L. S. Mizinov.

YALTA, March 27, 1894.

DEAR LIKA,

Thanks for your letter. Though you do scare me in your letter saying you are soon going to die, though you do taunt me with having rejected you, yet thank you all the same; I know perfectly well you are not going to die, and that no one has rejected you.

I am in Yalta and I am dreary, very dreary indeed. The aristocracy, so to call it, are performing “Faust,” and I go to the rehearsals and there I enjoy the spectacle of a perfect flower-bed of black, red, flaxen, and brown heads; I listen to the singing and I eat. At the house of the principal of the high school I eat tchibureks, and saddle of lamb with boiled grain; in various estimable families I eat green soup; at the confectioner’s I eat — in my hotel also. I go to bed at ten and I get up at ten, and after dinner I lie down and rest, and yet I am bored, dear Lika. I am not bored because “my ladies” are not with me, but because the northern spring is better than the spring here, and because the thought that I must, that I ought to write never leaves me for an instant. To write and write and write! It is my opinion that true happiness is impossible without idleness. My ideal is to be idle and to love a plump girl. My loftiest happiness is to walk or to sit doing nothing; my favourite occupation is to gather up what is not wanted (leaves, straws, and so on) and to do what is useless. Meanwhile, I am a literary man, and have to write here in Yalta. Dear Lika, when you become a great singer and are paid a handsome salary, then be charitable to me, marry me, and keep me at your expense, that I may be free to do nothing. If you really are going to die, it might be undertaken by Varya Eberly, whom, as you know, I love. I am so all to pieces with the perpetual thought of work I ought to do and can’t avoid that for the last week I have been continually tormented with palpitations of the heart. It’s a loathsome sensation.

I have sold my fox-skin greatcoat for twenty roubles! It cost sixty, but as forty roubles’ worth of fur has peeled off it, twenty roubles was not too low a price. The gooseberries are not ripe here yet, but it is warm and bright, the trees are coming out, the sea looks like summer, the young ladies are yearning for sensations: but yet the north is better than the south of Russia, in spring at any rate. In our part nature is more melancholy, more lyrical, more Levitanesque; here it is neither one thing nor the other, like good, sonorous, but frigid verse. Thanks to my palpitations I haven’t drunk wine for a week, and that makes the surroundings seem even poorer. . . .

M. gave a concert here, and made one hundred and fifty roubles clear profit. He roared like a grampus but had an immense success. I am awfully sorry I did not study singing; I could have roared too, as my throat is rich in husky elements, and they say I have a real octave. I should have earned money, and been a favourite with the ladies. . . .

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