The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories
A Doctor's Visit
THE Professor received a telegram from the Lyalikovs' factory; he was asked to come as
quickly as possible. The daughter of some Madame Lyalikov, apparently the owner of the
factory, was ill, and that was all that one could make out of the long, incoherent telegram.
And the Professor did not go himself, but sent instead his assistant, Korolyov.
It was two stations from Moscow, and there was a drive of three miles from the station. A
carriage with three horses had been sent to the station to meet Korolyov; the coachman
wore a hat with a peacock's feather on it, and answered every question in a loud voice
like a soldier: "No, sir!" "Certainly, sir!"
It was Saturday evening; the sun was setting, the workpeople were coming in crowds
from the factory to the station, and they bowed to the carriage in which Korolyov was
driving. And he was charmed with the evening, the farmhouses and villas on the road,
and the birch-trees, and the quiet atmosphere all around, when the fields and woods and
the sun seemed preparing, like the workpeople now on the eve of the holiday, to rest, and
perhaps to pray. . . .
He was born and had grown up in Moscow; he did not know the country, and he had
never taken any interest in factories, or been inside one, but he had happened to read
about factories, and had been in the houses of manufacturers and had talked to them; and
whenever he saw a factory far or near, he always thought how quiet and peaceable it was
outside, but within there was always sure to be impenetrable ignorance and dull egoism
on the side of the owners, wearisome, unhealthy toil on the side of the workpeople,
squabbling, vermin, vodka. And now when the workpeople timidly and respectfully made
way for the carriage, in their faces, their caps, their walk, he read physical impurity,
drunkenness, nervous exhaustion, bewilderment.
They drove in at the factory gates. On each side he caught glimpses of the little houses of
workpeople, of the faces of women, of quilts and linen on the railings. "Look out!"
shouted the coachman, not pulling up the horses. It was a wide courtyard without grass,
with five immense blocks of buildings with tall chimneys a little distance one from
another, warehouses and barracks, and over everything a sort of grey powder as though
from dust. Here and there, like oases in the desert, there were pitiful gardens, and the
green and red roofs of the houses in which the managers and clerks lived. The coachman
suddenly pulled up the horses, and the carriage stopped at the house, which had been
newly painted grey; here was a flower garden, with a lilac bush covered with dust, and on
the yellow steps at the front door there was a strong smell of paint.
"Please come in, doctor," said women's voices in the passage and the entry, and at the
same time he heard sighs and whisperings. "Pray walk in. . . . We've been expecting you
so long . . . we're in real trouble. Here, this way."