A.P. Chekhov -
A Country Cottage
Two young people who had not long been
married were walking up and down the platform of a little
country station. His arm was round her waist, her head was
almost on his shoulder, and both were happy.
The moon peeped up from the drifting cloudlets and frowned, as
it seemed, envying their happiness and regretting her tedious
and utterly superfluous virginity. The still air was heavy with
the fragrance of lilac and wild cherry. Somewhere in the
distance beyond the line a corncrake was calling.
"How beautiful it is, Sasha, how beautiful!" murmured the young
wife. "It all seems like a dream. See, how sweet and inviting
that little copse looks! How nice those solid, silent telegraph
posts are! They add a special note to the landscape, suggesting
humanity, civilization in the distance. . . . Don't you think
it's lovely when the wind brings the rushing sound of a train?"
"Yes. . . . But what hot little hands you've got. . . That's
because you're excited, Varya. . . . What have you got for our
"Chicken and salad. . . . It's a chicken just big enough for
two. . . . Then there is the salmon and sardines that were sent
The moon as though she had taken a pinch of snuff hid her face
behind a cloud. Human happiness reminded her of her own
loneliness, of her solitary couch beyond the hills and dales.
"The train is coming!" said Varya, "how jolly!"
Three eyes of fire could be seen in the distance. The
stationmaster came out on the platform. Signal lights flashed
here and there on the line.
"Let's see the train in and go home," said Sasha, yawning. "What
a splendid time we are having together, Varya, it's so splendid,
one can hardly believe it's true!"
The dark monster crept noiselessly alongside the platform and
came to a standstill. They caught glimpses of sleepy faces, of
hats and shoulders at the dimly lighted windows.
"Look! look!" they heard from one of the carriages. "Varya and
Sasha have come to meet us! There they are! . . . Varya! . . .
Varya. . . . Look!"
Two little girls skipped out of the train and hung on Varya's
neck. They were followed by a stout, middle-aged lady, and a
tall, lanky gentleman with grey whiskers; behind them came two
schoolboys, laden with bags, and after the schoolboys, the
governess, after the governess the grandmother.
"Here we are, here we are, dear boy!" began the whiskered
gentleman, squeezing Sasha's hand. "Sick of waiting for us, I
expect! You have been pitching into your old uncle for not
coming down all this time, I daresay! Kolya, Kostya, Nina, Fifa
. . . children! Kiss your cousin Sasha! We're all here, the
whole troop of us, just for three or four days. . . . I hope we
shan't be too many for you? You mustn't let us put you out!"
At the sight of their uncle and his family, the young couple
were horror-stricken. While his uncle talked and kissed them,
Sasha had a vision of their little cottage: he and Varya giving
up their three little rooms, all the pillows and bedding to
their guests; the salmon, the sardines, the chicken all devoured
in a single instant; the cousins plucking the flowers in their
little garden, spilling the ink, filled the cottage with noise
and confusion; his aunt talking continually about her ailments
and her papa's having been Baron von Fintich. . . .
And Sasha looked almost with hatred at his young wife, and
"It's you they've come to see! . . . Damn them!"
"No, it's you," answered Varya, pale with anger. "They're your
relations! they're not mine!"
And turning to her visitors, she said with a smile of welcome:
"Welcome to the cottage!"
The moon came out again. She seemed to smile, as though she were
glad she had no relations. Sasha, turning his head away to hide
his angry despairing face, struggled to give a note of cordial
welcome to his voice as he said:
"It is jolly of you! Welcome to the cottage!"