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A Tragic Actor-by Anton Chekhov-Novel and Ebooks

Novel Name:A Tragic Actor

Written by: Anton Chekhov

Category:Fiction, Classics

 

Page 1:

IT was the benefit night of Fenogenov, the tragic actor. They were acting “Prince Serebryany.” The tragedian himself was playing Vyazemsky; Limonadov, the stage manager, was playing Morozov; Madame Beobahtov, Elena. The performance was a grand success. The tragedian accomplished wonders indeed. When he was carrying off Elena, he held her in one hand above his head as he dashed across the stage. He shouted, hissed, banged with his feet, tore his coat across his chest. When he refused to fight Morozov, he trembled all over as nobody ever trembles in reality, and gasped loudly. The theatre shook with applause. There were endless calls. Fenogenov was presented with a silver cigarette-case and a bouquet tied with long ribbons. The ladies waved their handkerchiefs and urged their men to applaud, many shed tears. . . . But the one who was the most enthusiastic and most excited was Masha, daughter of Sidoretsky the police captain. She was sitting in the first row of the stalls beside her papa; she was ecstatic and could not take her eyes off the stage even between the acts. Her delicate little hands and feet were quivering, her eyes were full of tears, her cheeks turned paler and paler. And no wonder — she was at the theatre for the first time in her life.

“How well they act! how splendidly!” she said to her papa the police captain, every time the curtain fell. How good Fenogenov is!”

And if her papa had been capable of reading faces he would have read on his daughter’s pale little countenance a rapture that was almost anguish. She was overcome by the acting, by the play, by the surroundings. When the regimental band began playing between the acts, she closed her eyes, exhausted.

“Papa!” she said to the police captain during the last interval, “go behind the scenes and ask them all to dinner to-morrow!”

The police captain went behind the scenes, praised them for all their fine acting, and complimented Madame Beobahtov.

“Your lovely face demands a canvas, and I only wish I could wield the brush!”

And with a scrape, he thereupon invited the company to dinner.

“All except the fair sex,” he whispered. “I don’t want the actresses, for I have a daughter.”

Next day the actors dined at the police captain’s. Only three turned up, the manager Limonadov, the tragedian Fenogenov, and the comic man Vodolazov; the others sent excuses. The dinner was a dull affair. Limonadov kept telling the police captain how much he respected him, and how highly he thought of all persons in authority; Vodolazov mimicked drunken merchants and Armenians; and Fenogenov (on his passport his name was Knish), a tall, stout Little Russian with black eyes and frowning brow, declaimed “At the portals of the great,” and “To be or not to be.” Limonadov, with tears in his eyes, described his interview with the former Governor, General Kanyutchin. The police captain listened, was bored, and smiled affably. He was well satisfied, although Limonadov smelt strongly of burnt feathers, and Fenogenov was wearing a hired dress coat and boots trodden down at heel. They pleased his daughter and made her lively, and that was enough for him. And Masha never took her eyes off the actors. She had never before seen such clever, exceptional people!

In the evening the police captain and Masha were at the theatre again. A week later the actors dined at the police captain’s again, and after that came almost every day either to dinner or supper. Masha became more and more devoted to the theatre, and went there every evening.

She fell in love with the tragedian. One fine morning, when the police captain had gone to meet the bishop, Masha ran away with Limonadov’s company and married her hero on the way. After celebrating the wedding, the actors composed a long and touching letter and sent it to the police captain.

It was the work of their combined efforts.

“Bring out the motive, the motive!” Limonadov kept saying as he dictated to the comic man. “Lay on the respect. . . . These official chaps like it. Add something of a sort . . . to draw a tear.”

The answer to this letter was most discomforting. The police captain disowned his daughter for marrying, as he said, “a stupid, idle Little Russian with no fixed home or occupation.”

And the day after this answer was received Masha was writing to her father.

Filed in: Anton Chekhov, Fantasy, Fiction

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