The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories
MASHENKA PAVLETSKY, a young girl who had only just finished her studies at a
boarding school, returning from a walk to the house of the Kushkins, with whom she was
living as a governess, found the household in a terrible turmoil. Mihailo, the porter who
opened the door to her, was excited and red as a crab.
Loud voices were heard from upstairs.
"Madame Kushkin is in a fit, most likely, or else she has quarrelled with her husband,"
In the hall and in the corridor she met maid-servants. One of them was crying. Then
Mashenka saw, running out of her room, the master of the house himself, Nikolay
Sergeitch, a little man with a flabby face and a bald head, though he was not old. He was
red in the face and twitching all over. He passed the governess without noticing her, and
throwing up his arms, exclaimed:
"Oh, how horrible it is! How tactless! How stupid! How barbarous! Abominable!"
Mashenka went into her room, and then, for the first time in her life, it was her lot to
experience in all its acuteness the feeling that is so familiar to persons in dependent
positions, who eat the bread of the rich and powerful, and cannot speak their minds.
There was a search going on in her room. The lady of the house, Fedosya Vassilyevna, a
stout, broad-shouldered, uncouth woman with thick black eyebrows, a faintly perceptible
moustache, and red hands, who was exactly like a plain, illiterate cook in face and
manners, was standing, without her cap on, at the table, putting back into Mashenka's
workbag balls of wool, scraps of materials, and bits of paper. . . . Evidently the
governess's arrival took her by surprise, since, on looking round and seeing the girl's pale
and astonished face, she was a little taken aback, and muttered:
"Pardon. I . . . I upset it accidentally. . . . My sleeve caught in it. . ."
And saying something more, Madame Kushkin rustled her long skirts and went out.
Mashenka looked round her room with wondering eyes, and, unable to understand it, not
knowing what to think, shrugged her shoulders, and turned cold with dismay. What had
Fedosya Vassilyevna been looking for in her work-bag? If she really had, as she said,
caught her sleeve in it and upset everything, why had Nikolay Sergeitch dashed out of her
room so excited and red in the face? Why was one drawer of the table pulled out a little
way? The money-box, in which the governess put away ten kopeck pieces and old
stamps, was open. They had opened it, but did not know how to shut it, though they had
scratched the lock all over. The whatnot with her books on it, the things on the table, the
bed--all bore fresh traces of a search. Her linen-basket, too. The linen had been carefully
folded, but it was not in the same order as Mashenka had left it when she went out. So the
search had been thorough, most thorough. But what was it for? Why? What had