I’m really getting a taste for Chekhov. I’m glad I chose him to represent clubs in the Deal Me In short story reading challenge.
by Anton Chekhov
The son of the house comes home for Christmas vacation, bringing a school friend with him. The son of the house is tall, open, and fair; the friend is slight, taciturn, and dark. Can we say “shadow character“?
I don’t know how old these boys are, but I suspect they’re fairly young, since they expect to hunt tigers in America. Yes, they plan to use this holiday as a jumping off point for running away to the California gold (and tiger) fields. The son of the house’s sisters overhear the plan and keep it secret, since they expect their brother to bring them some gold and ivory when he comes back.
Son of the house has second thoughts, but his friend bucks him up and they do run away. They’re brought back, the fair boy repentant, the dark one still fully identified with his Romantic persona.
Seems like a pretty straightforward schoolboy tale. And yet. And yet. Is the fair boy to be admired for considering the reality of his mamma’s feelings or despised for his vacillation? Is the dark boy to be deplored for his determination to violate the courtesy expected of a guest or applauded for the steadfastness of his vision?
The fair boy will probably never again do anything to outrage his genuinely warm and loving family circle; he’s the sort who conserves everything that’s good. The dark boy will possibly come to grief and lead others after him, but he’s the sort who changes the world.
Wonderful story. Simply wonderful.
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: Write about a mismatched pair.