8:21 am - Wednesday July 18, 2018

A Troublesome Visitor-by Anton Chekhov-Novel and Ebooks

Novel Name:A Troublesome Visitor

Written by: Anton Chekhov

Category: Humor

Page 1:

IN the low-pitched, crooked little hut of Artyom, the forester, two men were sitting under the big dark ikon — Artyom himself, a short and lean peasant with a wrinkled, aged-looking face and a little beard that grew out of his neck, and a well-grown young man in a new crimson shirt and big wading boots, who had been out hunting and come in for the night. They were sitting on a bench at a little three-legged table on which a tallow candle stuck into a bottle was lazily burning.

Outside the window the darkness of the night was full of the noisy uproar into which nature usually breaks out before a thunderstorm. The wind howled angrily and the bowed trees moaned miserably. One pane of the window had been pasted up with paper, and leaves torn off by the wind could be heard pattering against the paper.

“I tell you what, good Christian,” said Artyom in a hoarse little tenor half-whisper, staring with unblinking, scared-looking eyes at the hunter. “I am not afraid of wolves or bears, or wild beasts of any sort, but I am afraid of man. You can save yourself from beasts with a gun or some other weapon, but you have no means of saving yourself from a wicked man.”

“To be sure, you can fire at a beast, but if you shoot at a robber you will have to answer for it: you will go to Siberia.”

“I’ve been forester, my lad, for thirty years, and I couldn’t tell you what I have had to put up with from wicked men. There have been lots and lots of them here. The hut’s on a track, it’s a cart-road, and that brings them, the devils. Every sort of ruffian turns up, and without taking off his cap or making the sign of the cross, bursts straight in upon one with: ‘Give us some bread, you old so-and-so.’ And where am I to get bread for him? What claim has he? Am I a millionaire to feed every drunkard that passes? They are half-blind with spite. . . . They have no cross on them, the devils. . . . They’ll give you a clout on the ear and not think twice about it: ‘Give us bread! ‘ Well, one gives it. . . . One is not going to fight with them, the idols! Some of them are two yards across the shoulders, and a great fist as big as your boot, and you see the sort of figure I am. One of them could smash me with his little finger. . . . Well, one gives him bread and he gobbles it up, and stretches out full length across the hut with not a word of thanks. And there are some that ask for money. ‘Tell me, where is your money?’ As though I had money! How should I come by it?”

“A forester and no money!” laughed the hunter. “You get wages every month, and I’ll be bound you sell timber on the sly.”

Artyom took a timid sideway glance at his visitor and twitched his beard as a magpie twitches her tail.

“You are still young to say a thing like that to me,” he said. “You will have to answer to God for those words. Whom may your people be? Where do you come from?”

“I am from Vyazovka. I am the son of Nefed the village elder.”

“You have gone out for sport with your gun. I used to like sport, too, when I was young. H’m! Ah, our sins are grievous,” said Artyom, with a yawn. “It’s a sad thing! There are few good folks, but villains and murderers no end — God have mercy upon us.”

“You seem to be frightened of me, too. . . .”

“Come, what next! What should I be afraid of you for? I see. . . . I understand. . . . You came in, and not just anyhow, but you made the sign of the cross, you bowed, all decent and proper. . . . I understand. . . . One can give you bread. . . . I am a widower, I don’t heat the stove, I sold the samovar. . . . I am too poor to keep meat or anything else, but bread you are welcome to.”

At that moment something began growling under the bench: the growl was followed by a hiss. Artyom started, drew up his legs, and looked enquiringly at the hunter.

“It’s my dog worrying your cat,” said the hunter. “You devils!” he shouted under the bench. “Lie down. You’ll be beaten. I say, your cat’s thin, mate! She is nothing but skin and bone.”

“She is old, it is time she was dead. . . . So you say you are from Vyazovka?”

“I see you don’t feed her. Though she’s a cat she’s a creature . . . every breathing thing. You should have pity on her!”

“You are a queer lot in Vyazovka,” Artyom went on, as though not listening. “The church has been robbed twice in one year. . . To think that there are such wicked men! So they fear neither man nor God! To steal what is the Lord’s! Hanging’s too good for them! In old days the governors used to have such rogues flogged.”

“However you punish, whether it is with flogging or anything else, it will be no good, you will not knock the wickedness out of a wicked man.”

“Save and preserve us, Queen of Heaven!” The forester sighed abruptly. “Save us from all enemies and evildoers. Last week at Volovy Zaimishtchy, a mower struck another on the chest with his scythe . . . he killed him outright! And what was it all about, God bless me! One mower came out of the tavern . . . drunk. The other met him, drunk too.”

The young man, who had been listening attentively, suddenly started, and his face grew tense as he listened.

“Stay,” he said, interrupting the forester. “I fancy someone is shouting.”

The hunter and the forester fell to listening with their eyes fixed on the window. Through the noise of the forest they could hear sounds such as the strained ear can always distinguish in every storm, so that it was difficult to make out whether people were calling for help or whether the wind was wailing in the chimney. But the wind tore at the roof, tapped at the paper on the window, and brought a distinct shout of “Help!”

Filed in: Anton Chekhov, Humor

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