Date Read: 7th February 2012
Briefly: Lieutenant Alexandr Grigoryevitch Sokolsky arrives at the home of a young wealthy Jewess to collect money owed to his cousin, Kryukov. Keen to collect the money because it is getting loaned to him for his wedding, Sokolsky is confident that this is going to be a straightforward, uncomplicated visit. It turns out to be everything but.
Afterthoughts: This is a fairly lengthy tale from Chekhov, but it needs its length in order for the story to fully unfold. It’s also one of Chekhov’s complete stories i.e. it has a beginning, a middle and an end, so the reader is not left hanging or having to decide on an outcome for himself (which is often the case with Chekhov). Aside from this, Mire is definitely worth sticking with it for its entertainment factor. The Jewess is a real star of this one. She demonstrates with real comical effect that she’s gutsy, independent and brilliant cunning. I kept thinking of a black widow spider when I was reading this story, and how it allures prey to its web. There may not be a murder or anything as dark in this story, but the Jewess is certainly a mistress of allure and manipulation, and it’s poor old Sokolsky and Kryukov that find themselves on the receiving end of this devious woman’s enchantment.
Notable Quote: Exactly opposite the entrance, he saw sitting in a big low chair, such as old men use, a woman in an expensive Chinese dressing-gown, with her head wrapped up, leaning back on a pillow. Nothing could be seen behind the woollen shawl in which she was muffled but a pale, long, pointed, somewhat aquiline nose, and one large dark eye. Her ample dressing-gown concealed her figure, but judging from her beautiful hand, from her voice, her nose, and her eye, she might be twenty-six or twenty-eight.
*Story read as part of my Checkin’ Off The Chekhov Shorts reading challenge.