7:44 pm - Saturday May 26, 2018

Choristers-by Anton Chekhov-Novel and Ebooks

Novel Name:Choristers

Written by:Anton Chekhov

Category:Fiction, Classics, Fairytales, Children

Page 1:

THE Justice of the Peace, who had received a letter from Petersburg, had set the news going that the owner of Yefremovo, Count Vladimir Ivanovitch, would soon be arriving. When he would arrive — there was no saying.

“Like a thief in the night,” said Father Kuzma, a grey-headed little priest in a lilac cassock. “And when he does come the place will be crowded with the nobility and other high gentry. All the neighbours will flock here. Mind now, do your best, Alexey Alexeitch. . . . I beg you most earnestly.”

“You need not trouble about me,” said Alexey Alexeitch, frowning. “I know my business. If only my enemy intones the litany in the right key. He may . . . out of sheer spite. . . .”

“There, there. . . . I’ll persuade the deacon. . . I’ll persuade him.”

Alexey Alexeitch was the sacristan of the Yefremovo church. He also taught the schoolboys church and secular singing, for which he received sixty roubles a year from the revenues of the Count’s estate. The schoolboys were bound to sing in church in return for their teaching. Alexey Alexeitch was a tall, thick-set man of dignified deportment, with a fat, clean-shaven face that reminded one of a cow’s udder. His imposing figure and double chin made him look like a man occupying an important position in the secular hierarchy rather than a sacristan. It was strange to see him, so dignified and imposing, flop to the ground before the bishop and, on one occasion, after too loud a squabble with the deacon Yevlampy Avdiessov, remain on his knees for two hours by order of the head priest of the district. Grandeur was more in keeping with his figure than humiliation.

On account of the rumours of the Count’s approaching visit he had a choir practice every day, morning and evening. The choir practice was held at the school. It did not interfere much with the school work. During the practice the schoolmaster, Sergey Makaritch, set the children writing copies while he joined the tenors as an amateur.

This is how the choir practice was conducted. Alexey Alexeitch would come into the school-room, slamming the door and blowing his nose. The trebles and altos extricated themselves noisily from the school-tables. The tenors and basses, who had been waiting for some time in the yard, came in, tramping like horses. They all took their places. Alexey Alexeitch drew himself up, made a sign to enforce silence, and struck a note with the tuning fork.

“To-to-li-to-tom . . . Do-mi-sol-do!”

“Adagio, adagio. . . . Once more.”

After the “Amen” there followed “Lord have mercy upon us” from the Great Litany. All this had been learned long ago, sung a thousand times and thoroughly digested, and it was gone through simply as a formality. It was sung indolently, unconsciously. Alexey Alexeitch waved his arms calmly and chimed in now in a tenor, now in a bass voice. It was all slow, there was nothing interesting. . . . But before the “Cherubim” hymn the whole choir suddenly began blowing their noses, coughing and zealously turning the pages of their music. The sacristan turned his back on the choir and with a mysterious expression on his face began tuning his violin. The preparations lasted a couple of minutes.

“Take your places. Look at your music carefully. . . . Basses, don’t overdo it . . . rather softly.”

Bortnyansky’s “Cherubim” hymn, No. 7, was selected. At a given signal silence prevailed. All eyes were fastened on the music, the trebles opened their mouths. Alexey Alexeitch softly lowered his arm.

“Piano . . . piano. . . . You see ‘piano’ is written there. . . . More lightly, more lightly.”

When they had to sing “piano” an expression of benevolence and amiability overspread Alexey Alexeitch’s face, as though he was dreaming of a dainty morsel.

“Forte . . . forte! Hold it!”

And when they had to sing “forte” the sacristan’s fat face expressed alarm and even horror.

The “Cherubim” hymn was sung well, so well that the school-children abandoned their copies and fell to watching the movements of Alexey Alexeitch. People stood under the windows. The schoolwatchman, Vassily, came in wearing an apron and carrying a dinner-knife in his hand and stood listening. Father Kuzma, with an anxious face appeared suddenly as though he had sprung from out of the earth. . . . After ‘Let us lay aside all earthly cares’ Alexey Alexeitch wiped the sweat off his brow and went up to Father Kuzma in excitement.

“It puzzles me, Father Kuzma,” he said, shrugging his shoulders, “why is it that the Russian people have no understanding? It puzzles me, may the Lord chastise me! Such an uncultured people that you really cannot tell whether they have a windpipe in their throats or some other sort of internal arrangement. Were you choking, or what?” he asked, addressing the bass Gennady Semitchov, the innkeeper’s brother.

“Why?”

“What is your voice like? It rattles like a saucepan. I bet you were boozing yesterday! That’s what it is! Your breath smells like a tavern. . . . E-ech! You are a clodhopper, brother! You are a lout! How can you be a chorister if you keep company with peasants in the tavern? Ech, you are an ass, brother!”

Filed in: Anton Chekhov, Classics, Essays

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply