A.P. Chekhov -
A YOUNG dog, a reddish mongrel, between a dachshund and a
"yard-dog," very like a fox in face, was running up and down the
pavement looking uneasily from side to side. From time to time
she stopped and, whining and lifting first one chilled paw and
then another, tried to make up her mind how it could have
happened that she was lost.
She remembered very well how she had passed the day, and how, in
the end, she had found herself on this unfamiliar pavement.
The day had begun by her master Luka Alexandritch's putting on
his hat, taking something wooden under his arm wrapped up in a
red handkerchief, and calling: "Kashtanka, come along!"
Hearing her name the mongrel had come out from under the
work-table, where she slept on the shavings, stretched herself
voluptuously and run after her master. The people Luka
Alexandritch worked for lived a very long way off, so that,
before he could get to any one of them, the carpenter had
several times to step into a tavern to fortify himself.
Kashtanka remembered that on the way she had behaved extremely
improperly. In her delight that she was being taken for a walk
she jumped about, dashed barking after the trains, ran into
yards, and chased other dogs. The carpenter was continually
losing sight of her, stopping, and angrily shouting at her. Once
he had even, with an expression of fury in his face, taken her
fox-like ear in his fist, smacked her, and said emphatically: "Pla-a-ague
take you, you pest!"
After having left the work where it had been bespoken, Luka
Alexandritch went into his sister's and there had something to
eat and drink; from his sister's he had gone to see a bookbinder
he knew; from the bookbinder's to a tavern, from the tavern to
another crony's, and so on. In short, by the time Kashtanka
found herself on the unfamiliar pavement, it was getting dusk,
and the carpenter was as drunk as a cobbler. He was waving his
arms and, breathing heavily, muttered:
"In sin my mother bore me! Ah, sins, sins! Here now we are
walking along the street and looking at the street lamps, but
when we die, we shall burn in a fiery Gehenna. . . ."
Or he fell into a good-natured tone, called Kashtanka to him,
and said to her: "You, Kashtanka, are an insect of a creature,
and nothing else. Beside a man, you are much the same as a
joiner beside a cabinet-maker. . . ."
While he talked to her in that way, there was suddenly a burst
of music. Kashtanka looked round and saw that a regiment of
soldiers was coming straight towards her. Unable to endure the
music, which unhinged her nerves, she turned round and round and
wailed. To her great surprise, the carpenter, instead of being
frightened, whining and barking, gave a broad grin, drew himself
up to attention, and saluted with all his five fingers. Seeing
that her master did not protest, Kashtanka whined louder than
ever, and dashed across the road to the opposite pavement.
When she recovered herself, the band was not playing and the
regiment was no longer there. She ran across the road to the
spot where she had left her master, but alas, the carpenter was
no longer there. She dashed forward, then back again and ran
across the road once more, but the carpenter seemed to have
vanished into the earth. Kashtanka began sniffing the pavement,
hoping to find her master by the scent of his tracks, but some
wretch had been that way just before in new rubber goloshes, and
now all delicate scents were mixed with an acute stench of india-rubber,
so that it was impossible to make out anything.
Kashtanka ran up and down and did not find her master, and
meanwhile it had got dark. The street lamps were lighted on both
sides of the road, and lights appeared in the windows. Big,
fluffy snowflakes were falling and painting white the pavement,
the horses' backs and the cabmen's caps, and the darker the
evening grew the whiter were all these objects. Unknown
customers kept walking incessantly to and fro, obstructing her
field of vision and shoving against her with their feet. (All
mankind Kashtanka divided into two uneven parts: masters and
customers; between them there was an essential difference: the
first had the right to beat her, and the second she had the
right to nip by the calves of their legs.) These customers were
hurrying off somewhere and paid no attention to her.
When it got quite dark, Kashtanka was overcome by despair and
horror. She huddled up in an entrance and began whining
piteously. The long day's journeying with Luka Alexandritch had
exhausted her, her ears and her paws were freezing, and, what
was more, she was terribly hungry. Only twice in the whole day
had she tasted a morsel: she had eaten a little paste at the
bookbinder's, and in one of the taverns she had found a sausage
skin on the floor, near the counter -- that was all. If she had
been a human being she would have certainly thought: "No, it is
impossible to live like this! I must shoot myself!"
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