6 by Anton Chekhov
The conversation went on for about an hour longer, and
apparently made a deep impression on Andrey Yefimitch. He began
going to the ward every day. He went there in the mornings and
after dinner, and often the dusk of evening found him in
conversation with Ivan Dmitritch. At first Ivan Dmitritch held
aloof from him, suspected him of evil designs, and openly
expressed his hostility. But afterwards he got used to him, and
his abrupt manner changed to one of condescending irony.
Soon it was all over the hospital that the doctor, Andrey
Yefimitch, had taken to visiting Ward No. 6. No one -- neither
Sergey Sergevitch, nor Nikita, nor the nurses -- could conceive
why he went there, why he stayed there for hours together, what
he was talking about, and why he did not write prescriptions.
His actions seemed strange. Often Mihail Averyanitch did not
find him at home, which had never happened in the past, and
Daryushka was greatly perturbed, for the doctor drank his beer
now at no definite time, and sometimes was even late for dinner.
One day -- it was at the end of June -- Dr. Hobotov went to see
Andrey Yefimitch about something. Not finding him at home, he
proceeded to look for him in the yard; there he was told that
the old doctor had gone to see the mental patients. Going into
the lodge and stopping in the entry, Hobotov heard the following
"We shall never agree, and you will not succeed in converting me
to your faith," Ivan Dmitritch was saying irritably; "you are
utterly ignorant of reality, and you have never known suffering,
but have only like a leech fed beside the sufferings of others,
while I have been in continual suffering from the day of my
birth till to-day. For that reason, I tell you frankly, I
consider myself superior to you and more competent in every
respect. It's not for you to teach me."
"I have absolutely no ambition to convert you to my faith," said
Andrey Yefimitch gently, and with regret that the other refused
to understand him. "And that is not what matters, my friend;
what matters is not that you have suffered and I have not. Joy
and suffering are passing; let us leave them, never mind them.
What matters is that you and I think; we see in each other
people who are capable of thinking and reasoning, and that is a
common bond between us however different our views. If you knew,
my friend, how sick I am of the universal senselessness,
ineptitude, stupidity, and with what delight I always talk with
you! You are an intelligent man, and I enjoyed your company."
Hobotov opened the door an inch and glanced into the ward; Ivan
Dmitritch in his night-cap and the doctor Andrey Yefimitch were
sitting side by side on the bed. The madman was grimacing,
twitching, and convulsively wrapping himself in his gown, while
the doctor sat motionless with bowed head, and his face was red
and look helpless and sorrowful. Hobotov shrugged his shoulders,
grinned, and glanced at Nikita. Nikita shrugged his shoulders
Next day Hobotov went to the lodge, accompanied by the
assistant. Both stood in the entry and listened.
"I fancy our old man has gone clean off his chump!" said Hobotov
as he came out of the lodge.
"Lord have mercy upon us sinners!" sighed the decorous Sergey
Sergeyitch, scrupulously avoiding the puddles that he might not
muddy his polished boots. "I must own, honoured Yevgeny
Fyodoritch, I have been expecting it for a long time."