Chekhov Asks “Who Was To Blame?” #DealMeIn2018

For the Deal Me In story reading challenge, we choose what connection we want between playing cards and stories, and draw random cards to choose stories to read. For me, the clubs mean Chekhov.

Chekhov must have either loved cats or hated cats; this is not the first story of his I’ve read that deals with them. Neither has been happy, although this one at least isn’t utterly ghastly.

“Who Was To Blame?”

by Anton Chekhov

TL;DR: Uncle Pyotr Demyanitch.

Here’s why I’ve come to love Chekhov. He describes this uncle thusly: “…a lean, bilious collegiate councillor, exceedingly like a stale smoked fish with a stick through it….” OMG! I’m cackling with laughter, here!

Okay, so the uncle decides the cook’s kitten should grow up to be a mouser. Although the kitten has the instincts for it, the uncle insists on teaching the kitten by exposing it to a trapped mouse and shouting at it. He shouts, he kicks, he hits, he does everything a reasonable person would expect to put the kitten off mice, and he’s convinced he’s doing everything to encourage it to go for the mouse. The result, of course, is that the kitten grows up to be utterly terrified of mice.

As the narrator puts it, “Fate had destined him to be the terror of cellars, store-rooms and cornbins, and had it not been for education….”

And that’s why I can’t play the piano, in spite of years of lessons. Yes, Miss Stella, I’m looking at you.

If YOU need a short story to read, I have free ones here on my Free Reads page. I also have four collections for 99 cents each linked from my Short Stories page.

A WRITING PROMPT BASED ON MY POST: A character wants to learn something, but can’t, or tries to teach someone something, but can’t.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Chekhov Asks “Who Was To Blame?” #DealMeIn2018

  1. Dan Antion

    July 9, 2018 at 10:42am

    I have to admit to a slight sigh of depression when I realized it was this Chekhoc and not the Ensign from STOS. None of our cats have been good mousers. Our first could catch baby mice, but not the ever-pregnant mother. We inherited what had been an outside cat from a hardware store. She was a good mouser in her former location, but adapted too well to retirement and decided that since we were feeding her, she no longer needed to bother.

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      July 9, 2018 at 4:34pm

      If it makes you feel any better, Dan, you can imagine him reading the post to you.

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      • Author

        Marian Allen

        July 9, 2018 at 4:36pm

        Pardon me. Since your bar buddy is being all Englishy, you can imagine HIS reading the post to you. Or, as I would have explained to my mother, when she corrected me, “No, you can imagine HIM. Reading the post to you.”

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