1:25 pm - Thursday April 26, 2018

Polinka-by Anton Chekhov-Novel and Ebooks

Novel Name: The Polinka

Written by: Anton Chekhov

Category: Short Stories, Fiction, Classics

Page 1:

IT is one o’clock in the afternoon. Shopping is at its height at the “Nouveauté’s de Paris,” a drapery establishment in one of the Arcades. There is a monotonous hum of shopmen’s voices, the hum one hears at school when the teacher sets the boys to learn something by heart. This regular sound is not interrupted by the laughter of lady customers nor the slam of the glass door, nor the scurrying of the boys.

Polinka, a thin fair little person whose mother is the head of a dressmaking establishment, is standing in the middle of the shop looking about for some one. A dark-browed boy runs up to her and asks, looking at her very gravely:

“What is your pleasure, madam?”

“Nikolay Timofeitch always takes my order,” answers Polinka.

Nikolay Timofeitch, a graceful dark young man, fashionably dressed, with frizzled hair and a big pin in his cravat, has already cleared a place on the counter and is craning forward, looking at Polinka with a smile.

“Morning, Pelagea Sergeevna!” he cries in a pleasant, hearty baritone voice. “What can I do for you?”

“Good-morning!” says Polinka, going up to him. “You see, I’m back again. . . . Show me some gimp, please.”

“Gimp — for what purpose?”

“For a bodice trimming — to trim a whole dress, in fact.”

“Certainly.”

Nickolay Timofeitch lays several kinds of gimp before Polinka; she looks at the trimmings languidly and begins bargaining over them.

“Oh, come, a rouble’s not dear,” says the shopman persuasively, with a condescending smile. “It’s a French trimming, pure silk. . . . We have a commoner sort, if you like, heavier. That’s forty-five kopecks a yard; of course, it’s nothing like the same quality.”

“I want a bead corselet, too, with gimp buttons,” says Polinka, bending over the gimp and sighing for some reason. “And have you any bead motifs to match?”

“Yes.”

Polinka bends still lower over the counter and asks softly:

“And why did you leave us so early on Thursday, Nikolay Timofeitch?”

“Hm! It’s queer you noticed it,” says the shopman, with a smirk. “You were so taken up with that fine student that . . . it’s queer you noticed it!”

Polinka flushes crimson and remains mute. With a nervous quiver in his fingers the shopman closes the boxes, and for no sort of object piles them one on the top of another. A moment of silence follows.

“I want some bead lace, too,” says Polinka, lifting her eyes guiltily to the shopman.

“What sort? Black or coloured? Bead lace on tulle is the most fashionable trimming.”

“And how much is it?”

“The black’s from eighty kopecks and the coloured from two and a half roubles. I shall never come and see you again,” Nikolay Timofeitch adds in an undertone.

“Why?”

“Why? It’s very simple. You must understand that yourself. Why should I distress myself? It’s a queer business! Do you suppose it’s a pleasure to me to see that student carrying on with you? I see it all and I understand. Ever since autumn he’s been hanging about you and you go for a walk with him almost every day; and when he is with you, you gaze at him as though he were an angel. You are in love with him; there’s no one to beat him in your eyes. Well, all right, then, it’s no good talking.”

Polinka remains dumb and moves her finger on the counter in embarrassment.

“I see it all,” the shopman goes on. “What inducement have I to come and see you? I’ve got some pride. It’s not every one likes to play gooseberry. What was it you asked for?”

“Mamma told me to get a lot of things, but I’ve forgotten. I want some feather trimming too.”

“What kind would you like?”

“The best, something fashionable.”

“The most fashionable now are real bird feathers. If you want the most fashionable colour, it’s heliotrope or kanak — that is, claret with a yellow shade in it. We have an immense choice. And what all this affair is going to lead to, I really don’t understand. Here you are in love, and how is it to end?”

Patches of red come into Nikolay Timofeitch’s face round his eyes. He crushes the soft feather trimming in his hand and goes on muttering:

“Do you imagine he’ll marry you — is that it? You’d better drop any such fancies. Students are forbidden to marry. And do you suppose he comes to see you with honourable intentions? A likely idea! Why, these fine students don’t look on us as human beings . . . they only go to see shopkeepers and dressmakers to laugh at their ignorance and to drink. They’re ashamed to drink at home and in good houses, but with simple uneducated people like us they don’t care what any one thinks; they’d be ready to stand on their heads. Yes! Well, which feather trimming will you take? And if he hangs about and carries on with you, we know what he is after. . . . When he’s a doctor or a lawyer he’ll remember you: ‘Ah,’ he’ll say, ‘I used to have a pretty fair little thing! I wonder where she is now?’ Even now I bet you he boasts among his friends that he’s got his eye on a little dressmaker.”

Polinka sits down and gazes pensively at the pile of white boxes.

“No, I won’t take the feather trimming,” she sighs. “Mamma had better choose it for herself; I may get the wrong one. I want six yards of fringe for an overcoat, at forty kopecks the yard. For the same coat I want cocoa-nut buttons, perforated, so they can be sown on firmly. . . .”

Filed in: Anton Chekhov, Classics, Fiction, Short Stories

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