The Darling and Other Stories
IN the cheapest room of a big block of furnished apartments Stepan Klotchkov, a medical
student in his third year, was walking to and fro, zealously conning his anatomy. His
mouth was dry and his forehead perspiring from the unceasing effort to learn it by heart.
In the window, covered by patterns of frost, sat on a stool the girl who shared his room--
Anyuta, a thin little brunette of five-and-twenty, very pale with mild grey eyes. Sitting
with bent back she was busy embroidering with red thread the collar of a man's shirt. She
was working against time. . . . The clock in the passage struck two drowsily, yet the little
room had not been put to rights for the morning. Crumpled bed-clothes, pillows thrown
about, books, clothes, a big filthy slop-pail filled with soap-suds in which cigarette ends
were swimming, and the litter on the floor--all seemed as though purposely jumbled
together in one confusion. . . .
"The right lung consists of three parts . . ." Klotchkov repeated. "Boundaries! Upper part
on anterior wall of thorax reaches the fourth or fifth rib, on the lateral surface, the fourth
rib . . . behind to the spina scapulæ. . ."
Klotchkov raised his eyes to the ceiling, striving to visualise what he had just read.
Unable to form a clear picture of it, he began feeling his upper ribs through his waistcoat.
"These ribs are like the keys of a piano," he said. "One must familiarise oneself with them
somehow, if one is not to get muddled over them. One must study them in the skeleton
and the living body . . . . I say, Anyuta, let me pick them out."
Anyuta put down her sewing, took off her blouse, and straightened herself up. Klotchkov
sat down facing her, frowned, and began counting her ribs.
"H'm! . . . One can't feel the first rib; it's behind the shoulder-blade . . . . This must be the
second rib. . . . Yes . . . this is the third . . . this is the fourth. . . . H'm! . . . yes. . . . Why
are you wriggling?"
"Your fingers are cold!"
"Come, come . . . it won't kill you. Don't twist about. That must be the third rib, then . . .
this is the fourth. . . . You look such a skinny thing, and yet one can hardly feel your ribs.
That's the second . . . that's the third. . . . Oh, this is muddling, and one can't see it clearly.
. . . I must draw it. . . . Where's my crayon?"
Klotchkov took his crayon and drew on Anyuta's chest several parallel lines
corresponding with the ribs.
"First-rate. That's all straightforward. . . . Well, now I can sound you. Stand up!"