9:52 am - Friday January 19, 2018

In The Coach House-by Anton Chekhov-novel and Ebooks

Novel Name:In The Coach House

Written by: Anton Chekhov

Category: Adventure,Horror

Page 1:

IT was between nine and ten o’clock in the evening. Stepan the coachman, Mihailo the house-porter, Alyoshka the coachman’s grandson, who had come up from the village to stay with his grandfather, and Nikandr, an old man of seventy, who used to come into the yard every evening to sell salt herrings, were sitting round a lantern in the big coach-house, playing “kings.” Through the wide-open door could be seen the whole yard, the big house, where the master’s family lived, the gates, the cellars, and the porter’s lodge. It was all shrouded in the darkness of night, and only the four windows of one of the lodges which was let were brightly lit up. The shadows of the coaches and sledges with their shafts tipped upwards stretched from the walls to the doors, quivering and cutting across the shadows cast by the lantern and the players. . . . On the other side of the thin partition that divided the coach-house from the stable were the horses. There was a scent of hay, and a disagreeable smell of salt herrings coming from old Nikandr.

The porter won and was king; he assumed an attitude such as was in his opinion befitting a king, and blew his nose loudly on a red-checked handkerchief.

“Now if I like I can chop off anybody’s head,” he said. Alyoshka, a boy of eight with a head of flaxen hair, left long uncut, who had only missed being king by two tricks, looked angrily and with envy at the porter. He pouted and frowned.

“I shall give you the trick, grandfather,” he said, pondering over his cards; “I know you have got the queen of diamonds.”

“Well, well, little silly, you have thought enough!”

Alyoshka timidly played the knave of diamonds. At that moment a ring was heard from the yard.

“Oh, hang you!” muttered the porter, getting up. “Go and open the gate, O king!”

When he came back a little later, Alyoshka was already a prince, the fish-hawker a soldier, and the coachman a peasant.

“It’s a nasty business,” said the porter, sitting down to the cards again. “I have just let the doctors out. They have not extracted it.”

“How could they? Just think, they would have to pick open the brains. If there is a bullet in the head, of what use are doctors?”

“He is lying unconscious,” the porter went on. “He is bound to die. Alyoshka, don’t look at the cards, you little puppy, or I will pull your ears! Yes, I let the doctors out, and the father and mother in. . . They have only just arrived. Such crying and wailing, Lord preserve us! They say he is the only son. . . . It’s a grief!”

All except Alyoshka, who was absorbed in the game, looked round at the brightly lighted windows of the lodge.

“I have orders to go to the police station tomorrow,” said the porter. “There will be an inquiry . . . But what do I know about it? I saw nothing of it. He called me this morning, gave me a letter, and said: ‘Put it in the letter-box for me.’ And his eyes were red with crying. His wife and children were not at home. They had gone out for a walk. So when I had gone with the letter, he put a bullet into his forehead from a revolver. When I came back his cook was wailing for the whole yard to hear.”

“It’s a great sin,” said the fish-hawker in a husky voice, and he shook his head, “a great sin!”

“From too much learning,” said the porter, taking a trick; “his wits outstripped his wisdom. Sometimes he would sit writing papers all night. . . . Play, peasant! . . . But he was a nice gentleman. And so white skinned, black-haired and tall! . . . He was a good lodger.”

“It seems the fair sex is at the bottom of it,” said the coachman, slapping the nine of trumps on the king of diamonds. “It seems he was fond of another man’s wife and disliked his own; it does happen.”

“The king rebels,” said the porter.

At that moment there was again a ring from the yard. The rebellious king spat with vexation and went out. Shadows like dancing couples flitted across the windows of the lodge. There was the sound of voices and hurried footsteps in the yard.

“I suppose the doctors have come again,” said the coachman. “Our Mihailo is run off his legs. . . .”

A strange wailing voice rang out for a moment in the air. Alyoshka looked in alarm at his grandfather, the coachman; then at the windows, and said:

“He stroked me on the head at the gate yesterday, and said, ‘What district do you come from, boy?’ Grandfather, who was that howled just now?”

His grandfather trimmed the light in the lantern and made no answer.

“The man is lost,” he said a little later, with a yawn. “He is lost, and his children are ruined, too. It’s a disgrace for his children for the rest of their lives now.”

The porter came back and sat down by the lantern.

“He is dead,” he said. “They have sent to the almshouse for the old women to lay him out.”

“The kingdom of heaven and eternal peace to him!” whispered the coachman, and he crossed himself.

Looking at him, Alyoshka crossed himself too.

“You can’t pray for such as him,” said the fish-hawker.

“Why not?”

“It’s a sin.”

“That’s true,” the porter assented. “Now his soul has gone straight to hell, to the devil. . . .”

“It’s a sin,” repeated the fish-hawker; “such as he have no funeral, no requiem, but are buried like carrion with no respect.”

The old man put on his cap and got up.

“It was the same thing at our lady’s,” he said, pulling his cap on further. “We were serfs in those days; the younger son of our mistress, the General’s lady, shot himself through the mouth with a pistol, from too much learning, too. It seems that by law such have to be buried outside the cemetery, without priests, without a requiem service; but to save disgrace our lady, you know, bribed the police and the doctors, and they gave her a paper to say her son had done it when delirious, not knowing what he was doing. You can do anything with money. So he had a funeral with priests and every honor, the music played, and he was buried in the church; for the deceased General had built that church with his own money, and all his family were buried there. Only this is what happened, friends. One month passed, and then another, and it was all right. In the third month they informed the General’s lady that the watchmen had come from that same church. What did they want? They were brought to her, they fell at her feet. ‘We can’t go on serving, your excellency,’ they said. ‘Look out for other watchmen and graciously dismiss us.’ ‘What for?’ ‘No,’ they said, ‘we can’t possibly; your son howls under the church all night.’ “

Alyoshka shuddered, and pressed his face to the coachman’s back so as not to see the windows.

Filed in: Adventure, Anton Chekhov, Horror

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