The Lady with the Dog and Other Stories
WHEN visitors to the provincial town S---- complained of the dreariness and monotony
of life, the inhabitants of the town, as though defending themselves, declared that it was
very nice in S----, that there was a library, a theatre, a club; that they had balls; and,
finally, that there were clever, agreeable, and interesting families with whom one could
make acquaintance. And they used to point to the family of the Turkins as the most
highly cultivated and talented.
This family lived in their own house in the principal street, near the Governor's. Ivan
Petrovitch Turkin himself--a stout, handsome, dark man with whiskers--used to get up
amateur performances for benevolent objects, and used to take the part of an elderly
general and cough very amusingly. He knew a number of anecdotes, charades, proverbs,
and was fond of being humorous and witty, and he always wore an expression from
which it was impossible to tell whether he were joking or in earnest. His wife, Vera
Iosifovna--a thin, nice-looking lady who wore a pince-nez--used to write novels and
stories, and was very fond of reading them aloud to her visitors. The daughter, Ekaterina
Ivanovna, a young girl, used to play on the piano. In short, every member of the family
had a special talent. The Turkins welcomed visitors, and good-humouredly displayed
their talents with genuine simplicity. Their stone house was roomy and cool in summer;
half of the windows looked into a shady old garden, where nightingales used to sing in
the spring. When there were visitors in the house, there was a clatter of knives in the
kitchen and a smell of fried onions in the yard--and that was always a sure sign of a
plentiful and savoury supper to follow.
And as soon as Dmitri Ionitch Startsev was appointed the district doctor, and took up his
abode at Dyalizh, six miles from S----, he, too, was told that as a cultivated man it was
essential for him to make the acquaintance of the Turkins. In the winter he was
introduced to Ivan Petrovitch in the street; they talked about the weather, about the
theatre, about the cholera; an invitation followed. On a holiday in the spring--it was
Ascension Day--after seeing his patients, Startsev set off for town in search of a little
recreation and to make some purchases. He walked in a leisurely way (he had not yet set
up his carriage), humming all the time:
"'Before I'd drunk the tears from life's goblet. . . .'"
In town he dined, went for a walk in the gardens, then Ivan Petrovitch's invitation came
into his mind, as it were of itself, and he decided to call on the Turkins and see what sort
of people they were.
"How do you do, if you please?" said Ivan Petrovitch, meeting him on the steps.
"Delighted, delighted to see such an agreeable visitor. Come along; I will introduce you
to my better half. I tell him, Verotchka," he went on, as he presented the doctor to his