7:23 pm - Saturday May 26, 2018

Boys-by Anton Chekhov-Novel and Ebooks

 

Novel Name:Boys

Written by:Anton Chekhov

Category:Fiction, Classics

Page 1:

“VOLODYA’S come!” someone shouted in the yard.

“Master Volodya’s here!” bawled Natalya the cook, running into the dining-room. “Oh, my goodness!”

The whole Korolyov family, who had been expecting their Volodya from hour to hour, rushed to the windows. At the front door stood a wide sledge, with three white horses in a cloud of steam. The sledge was empty, for Volodya was already in the hall, untying his hood with red and chilly fingers. His school overcoat, his cap, his snowboots, and the hair on his temples were all white with frost, and his whole figure from head to foot diffused such a pleasant, fresh smell of the snow that the very sight of him made one want to shiver and say “brrr!”

His mother and aunt ran to kiss and hug him. Natalya plumped down at his feet and began pulling off his snowboots, his sisters shrieked with delight, the doors creaked and banged, and Volodya’s father, in his waistcoat and shirt-sleeves, ran out into the hall with scissors in his hand, and cried out in alarm:

“We were expecting you all yesterday? Did you come all right? Had a good journey? Mercy on us! you might let him say ‘how do you do’ to his father! I am his father after all!”

“Bow-wow!” barked the huge black dog, Milord, in a deep bass, tapping with his tail on the walls and furniture.

For two minutes there was nothing but a general hubbub of joy. After the first outburst of delight was over the Korolyovs noticed that there was, besides their Volodya, another small person in the hall, wrapped up in scarves and shawls and white with frost. He was standing perfectly still in a corner, in the shadow of a big fox-lined overcoat.

“Volodya darling, who is it?” asked his mother, in a whisper.

“Oh!” cried Volodya.” This is — let me introduce my friend Lentilov, a schoolfellow in the second class. . . . I have brought him to stay with us.”

“Delighted to hear it! You are very welcome,” the father said cordially. “Excuse me, I’ve been at work without my coat. . . . Please come in! Natalya, help Mr. Lentilov off with his things. Mercy on us, do turn that dog out! He is unendurable!”

A few minutes later, Volodya and his friend Lentilov, somewhat dazed by their noisy welcome, and still red from the outside cold, were sitting down to tea. The winter sun, making its way through the snow and the frozen tracery on the window-panes, gleamed on the samovar, and plunged its pure rays in the tea-basin. The room was warm, and the boys felt as though the warmth and the frost were struggling together with a tingling sensation in their bodies.

“Well, Christmas will soon be here,” the father said in a pleasant sing-song voice, rolling a cigarette of dark reddish tobacco. “It doesn’t seem long since the summer, when mamma was crying at your going . . . and here you are back again. . . . Time flies, my boy. Before you have time to cry out, old age is upon you. Mr. Lentilov, take some more, please help yourself! We don’t stand on ceremony!”

Volodya’s three sisters, Katya, Sonya, and Masha (the eldest was eleven), sat at the table and never took their eyes off the newcomer.

Lentilov was of the same height and age as Volodya, but not as round-faced and fair-skinned. He was thin, dark, and freckled; his hair stood up like a brush, his eyes were small, and his lips were thick. He was, in fact, distinctly ugly, and if he had not been wearing the school uniform, he might have been taken for the son of a cook. He seemed morose, did not speak, and never once smiled. The little girls, staring at him, immediately came to the conclusion that he must be a very clever and learned person. He seemed to be thinking about something all the time, and was so absorbed in his own thoughts, that, whenever he was spoken to, he started, threw his head back, and asked to have the question repeated.

The little girls noticed that Volodya, who had always been so merry and talkative, also said very little, did not smile at all, and hardly seemed to be glad to be home. All the time they were at tea he only once addressed his sisters, and then he said something so strange. He pointed to the samovar and said:

“In California they don’t drink tea, but gin.”

He, too, seemed absorbed in his own thoughts, and, to judge by the looks that passed between him and his friend Lentilov, their thoughts were the same.

After tea, they all went into the nursery. The girls and their father took up the work that had been interrupted by the arrival of the boys. They were making flowers and frills for the Christmas tree out of paper of different colours. It was an attractive and noisy occupation. Every fresh flower was greeted by the little girls with shrieks of delight, even of awe, as though the flower had dropped straight from heaven; their father was in ecstasies too, and every now and then he threw the scissors on the floor, in vexation at their bluntness. Their mother kept running into the nursery with an anxious face, asking:

“Who has taken my scissors? Ivan Nikolaitch, have you taken my scissors again?”

“Mercy on us! I’m not even allowed a pair of scissors!” their father would respond in a lachrymose voice, and, flinging himself back in his chair, he would pretend to be a deeply injured man; but a minute later, he would be in ecstasies again.

On his former holidays Volodya, too, had taken part in the preparations for the Christmas tree, or had been running in the yard to look at the snow mountain that the watchman and the shepherd were building. But this time Volodya and Lentilov took no notice whatever of the coloured paper, and did not once go into the stable. They sat in the window and began whispering to one another; then they opened an atlas and looked carefully at a map.

First to Perm . . . ” Lentilov said, in an undertone, “from there to Tiumen, then Tomsk . . . then . . . then . . . Kamchatka. There the Samoyedes take one over Behring’s Straits in boats . . . . And then we are in America. . . . There are lots of furry animals there. . . .”

“And California?” asked Volodya.

“California is lower down. . . . We’ve only to get to America and California is not far off. . . . And one can get a living by hunting and plunder.”

All day long Lentilov avoided the little girls, and seemed to look at them with suspicion. In the evening he happened to be left alone with them for five minutes or so. It was awkward to be silent.

He cleared his throat morosely, rubbed his left hand against his right, looked sullenly at Katya and asked:

“Have you read Mayne Reid?”

“No, I haven’t. . . . I say, can you skate?”

Absorbed in his own reflections, Lentilov made no reply to this question; he simply puffed out his cheeks, and gave a long sigh as though he were very hot. He looked up at Katya once more and said:

“When a herd of bisons stampedes across the prairie the earth trembles, and the frightened mustangs kick and neigh.”

He smiled impressively and added:

“And the Indians attack the trains, too. But worst of all are the mosquitoes and the termites.”

“Why, what’s that?”

“They’re something like ants, but with wings. They bite fearfully. Do you know who I am?”

Filed in: Anton Chekhov, Classics, Essays, Fiction

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