A.P. Chekhov -
The Lady with a Dog
IT was said that a new person had appeared on
the sea-front: a lady with a little dog. Dmitri Dmitritch Gurov,
who had by then been a fortnight at Yalta, and so was fairly at
home there, had begun to take an interest in new arrivals.
Sitting in Verney's pavilion, he saw, walking on the sea-front,
a fair-haired young lady of medium height, wearing a bret; a
white Pomeranian dog was running behind her.
And afterwards he met her in the public gardens and in the
square several times a day. She was walking alone, always
wearing the same bret, and always with the same white dog; no
one knew who she was, and every one called her simply "the lady
with the dog."
"If she is here alone without a husband or friends, it wouldn't
be amiss to make her acquaintance," Gurov reflected.
He was under forty, but he had a daughter already twelve years
old, and two sons at school. He had been married young, when he
was a student in his second year, and by now his wife seemed
half as old again as he. She was a tall, erect woman with dark
eyebrows, staid and dignified, and, as she said of herself,
intellectual. She read a great deal, used phonetic spelling,
called her husband, not Dmitri, but Dimitri, and he secretly
considered her unintelligent, narrow, inelegant, was afraid of
her, and did not like to be at home. He had begun being
unfaithful to her long ago -- had been unfaithful to her often,
and, probably on that account, almost always spoke ill of women,
and when they were talked about in his presence, used to call
them "the lower race."
It seemed to him that he had been so schooled by bitter
experience that he might call them what he liked, and yet he
could not get on for two days together without "the lower race."
In the society of men he was bored and not himself, with them he
was cold and uncommunicative; but when he was in the company of
women he felt free, and knew what to say to them and how to
behave; and he was at ease with them even when he was silent. In
his appearance, in his character, in his whole nature, there was
something attractive and elusive which allured women and
disposed them in his favour; he knew that, and some force seemed
to draw him, too, to them.
Experience often repeated, truly bitter experience, had taught
him long ago that with decent people, especially Moscow people
-- always slow to move and irresolute -- every intimacy, which
at first so agreeably diversifies life and appears a light and
charming adventure, inevitably grows into a regular problem of
extreme intricacy, and in the long run the situation becomes
unbearable. But at every fresh meeting with an interesting woman
this experience seemed to slip out of his memory, and he was
eager for life, and everything seemed simple and amusing.
One evening he was dining in the gardens, and the lady in the
bret came up slowly to take the next table. Her expression, her
gait, her dress, and the way she did her hair told him that she
was a lady, that she was married, that she was in Yalta for the
first time and alone, and that she was dull there. . . . The
stories told of the immorality in such places as Yalta are to a
great extent untrue; he despised them, and knew that such
stories were for the most part made up by persons who would
themselves have been glad to sin if they had been able; but when
the lady sat down at the next table three paces from him, he
remembered these tales of easy conquests, of trips to the
mountains, and the tempting thought of a swift, fleeting love
affair, a romance with an unknown woman, whose name he did not
know, suddenly took possession of him.
He beckoned coaxingly to the Pomeranian, and when the dog came
up to him he shook his finger at it. The Pomeranian growled:
Gurov shook his finger at it again.
The lady looked at him and at once dropped her eyes.
"He doesn't bite," she said, and blushed.
"May I give him a bone?" he asked; and when she nodded he asked
courteously, "Have you been long in Yalta?"
"And I have already dragged out a fortnight here."
There was a brief silence.
"Time goes fast, and yet it is so dull here!" she said, not
looking at him.
"That's only the fashion to say it is dull here. A provincial
will live in Belyov or Zhidra and not be dull, and when he comes
here it's 'Oh, the dulness! Oh, the dust!' One would think he
came from Grenada."
She laughed. Then both continued eating in silence, like
strangers, but after dinner they walked side by side; and there
sprang up between them the light jesting conversation of people
who are free and satisfied, to whom it does not matter where
they go or what they talk about. They walked and talked of the
strange light on the sea: the water was of a soft warm lilac
hue, and there was a golden streak from the moon upon it. They
talked of how sultry it was after a hot day. Gurov told her that
he came from Moscow, that he had taken his degree in Arts, but
had a post in a bank; that he had trained as an opera-singer,
but had given it up, that he owned two houses in Moscow. . . .
And from her he learnt that she had grown up in Petersburg, but
had lived in S---- since her marriage two years before, that she
was staying another month in Yalta, and that her husband, who
needed a holiday too, might perhaps come and fetch her. She was
not sure whether her husband had a post in a Crown Department or
under the Provincial Council -- and was amused by her own
ignorance. And Gurov learnt, too, that she was called Anna
Afterwards he thought about her in his room at the hotel --
thought she would certainly meet him next day; it would be sure
to happen. As he got into bed he thought how lately she had been
a girl at school, doing lessons like his own daughter; he
recalled the diffidence, the angularity, that was still manifest
in her laugh and her manner of talking with a stranger. This
must have been the first time in her life she had been alone in
surroundings in which she was followed, looked at, and spoken to
merely from a secret motive which she could hardly fail to
guess. He recalled her slender, delicate neck, her lovely grey
"There's something pathetic about her, anyway," he thought, and