A.P. Chekhov - Anyuta
IN the cheapest room of a big block of furnished apartments
Stepan Klotchkov, a medical student in his third year, was
walking to and fro, zealously conning his anatomy. His mouth was
dry and his forehead perspiring from the unceasing effort to
learn it by heart.
In the window, covered by patterns of frost, sat on a stool the
girl who shared his room -- Anyuta, a thin little brunette of
five-and-twenty, very pale with mild grey eyes. Sitting with
bent back she was busy embroidering with red thread the collar
of a man's shirt. She was working against time. . . . The clock
in the passage struck two drowsily, yet the little room had not
been put to rights for the morning. Crumpled bed-clothes,
pillows thrown about, books, clothes, a big filthy slop-pail
filled with soap-suds in which cigarette ends were swimming, and
the litter on the floor -- all seemed as though purposely
jumbled together in one confusion. . . .
"The right lung consists of three parts . . ." Klotchkov
repeated. "Boundaries! Upper part on anterior wall of thorax
reaches the fourth or fifth rib, on the lateral surface, the
fourth rib . . . behind to the spina scapul. . ."
Klotchkov raised his eyes to the ceiling, striving to visualise
what he had just read. Unable to form a clear picture of it, he
began feeling his upper ribs through his waistcoat.
"These ribs are like the keys of a piano," he said. "One must
familiarise oneself with them somehow, if one is not to get
muddled over them. One must study them in the skeleton and the
living body. . . . I say, Anyuta, let me pick them out."
Anyuta put down her sewing, took off her blouse, and
straightened herself up. Klotchkov sat down facing her, frowned,
and began counting her ribs.
"H'm! . . . One can't feel the first rib; it's behind the
shoulder-blade. . . . This must be the second rib. . . . Yes . .
. this is the third . . . this is the fourth. . . . H'm! . . .
yes. . . . Why are you wriggling?"
"Your fingers are cold!"
"Come, come . . . it won't kill you. Don't twist about. That
must be the third rib, then . . . this is the fourth. . . . You
look such a skinny thing, and yet one can hardly feel your ribs.
That's the second . . . that's the third. . . . Oh, this is
muddling, and one can't see it clearly. . . . I must draw it. .
. . Where's my crayon?"
Klotchkov took his crayon and drew on Anyuta's chest several
parallel lines corresponding with the ribs.
"First-rate. That's all straightforward. . . . Well, now I can
sound you. Stand up!"
Anyuta stood up and raised her chin. Klotchkov began sounding
her, and was so absorbed in this occupation that he did not
notice how Anyuta's lips, nose, and fingers turned blue with
cold. Anyuta shivered, and was afraid the student, noticing it,
would leave off drawing and sounding her, and then, perhaps,
might fail in his exam.
"Now it's all clear," said Klotchkov when he had finished. "You
sit like that and don't rub off the crayon, and meanwhile I'll
learn up a little more."
And the student again began walking to and fro, repeating to
himself. Anyuta, with black stripes across her chest, looking as
though she had been tattooed, sat thinking, huddled up and
shivering with cold. She said very little as a rule; she was
always silent, thinking and thinking. . . .
In the six or seven years of her wanderings from one furnished
room to another, she had known five students like Klotchkov. Now
they had all finished their studies, had gone out into the
world, and, of course, like respectable people, had long ago
forgotten her. One of them was living in Paris, two were
doctors, the fourth was an artist, and the fifth was said to be
already a professor. Klotchkov was the sixth. . . . Soon he,
too, would finish his studies and go out into the world. There
was a fine future before him, no doubt, and Klotchkov probably
would become a great man, but the present was anything but
bright; Klotchkov had no tobacco and no tea, and there were only
four lumps of sugar left. She must make haste and finish her
embroidery, take it to the woman who had ordered it, and with
the quarter rouble she would get for it, buy tea and tobacco.
"Can I come in?" asked a voice at the door.
Anyuta quickly threw a woollen shawl over her shoulders.
Fetisov, the artist, walked in.
"I have come to ask you a favour," he began, addressing
Klotchkov, and glaring like a wild beast from under the long
locks that hung over his brow. "Do me a favour; lend me your
young lady just for a couple of hours! I'm painting a picture,
you see, and I can't get on without a model."
"Oh, with pleasure," Klotchkov agreed. "Go along, Anyuta."
"The things I've had to put up with there," Anyuta murmured
"Rubbish! The man's asking you for the sake of art, and not for
any sort of nonsense. Why not help him if you can?"
Anyuta began dressing.
"And what are you painting?" asked Klotchkov.
"Psyche; it's a fine subject. But it won't go, somehow. I have
to keep painting from different models. Yesterday I was painting
one with blue legs. 'Why are your legs blue?' I asked her. 'It's
my stockings stain them,' she said. And you're still grinding!
Lucky fellow! You have patience."
"Medicine's a job one can't get on with without grinding."
"H'm! . . . Excuse me, Klotchkov, but you do live like a pig!
It's awful the way you live!"
"How do you mean? I can't help it. . . . I only get twelve
roubles a month from my father, and it's hard to live decently
"Yes . . . yes . . ." said the artist, frowning with an air of
disgust; "but, still, you might live better. . . . An educated
man is in duty bound to have taste, isn't he? And goodness knows
what it's like here! The bed not made, the slops, the dirt . . .
yesterday's porridge in the plates. . . Tfoo!"
"That's true," said the student in confusion; "but Anyuta has
had no time to-day to tidy up; she's been busy all the while."
When Anyuta and the artist had gone out Klotchkov lay down on
the sofa and began learning, lying down; then he accidentally
dropped asleep, and waking up an hour later, propped his head on
his fists and sank into gloomy reflection. He recalled the
artist's words that an educated man was in duty bound to have
taste, and his surroundings actually struck him now as loathsome
and revolting. He saw, as it were in his mind's eye, his own
future, when he would see his patients in his consulting-room,
drink tea in a large dining-room in the company of his wife, a
real lady. And now that slop-pail in which the cigarette ends
were swimming looked incredibly disgusting. Anyuta, too, rose
before his imagination -- a plain, slovenly, pitiful figure . .
. and he made up his mind to part with her at once, at all
When, on coming back from the artist's, she took off her coat,
he got up and said to her seriously:
"Look here, my good girl . . . sit down and listen. We must
part! The fact is, I don't want to live with you any longer."
Anyuta had come back from the artist's worn out and exhausted.
Standing so long as a model had made her face look thin and
sunken, and her chin sharper than ever. She said nothing in
answer to the student's words, only her lips began to tremble.
"You know we should have to part sooner or later, anyway," said
the student. "You're a nice, good girl, and not a fool; you'll
understand. . . ."
Anyuta put on her coat again, in silence wrapped up her
embroidery in paper, gathered together her needles and thread:
she found the screw of paper with the four lumps of sugar in the
window, and laid it on the table by the books.
"That's . . . your sugar . . . " she said softly, and turned
away to conceal her tears.
"Why are you crying?" asked Klotchkov.
He walked about the room in confusion, and said:
"You are a strange girl, really. . . . Why, you know we shall
have to part. We can't stay together for ever."
She had gathered together all her belongings, and turned to say
good-bye to him, and he felt sorry for her.
"Shall I let her stay on here another week?" he thought. "She
really may as well stay, and I'll tell her to go in a week;" and
vexed at his own weakness, he shouted to her roughly:
"Come, why are you standing there? If you are going, go; and if
you don't want to, take off your coat and stay! You can stay!"
Anyuta took off her coat, silently, stealthily, then blew her
nose also stealthily, sighed, and noiselessly returned to her
invariable position on her stool by the window.
The student drew his textbook to him and began again pacing from
corner to corner. "The right lung consists of three parts," he
repeated; "the upper part, on anterior wall of thorax, reaches
the fourth or fifth rib . . . ."
In the passage some one shouted at the top of his voice:
"Grigory! The samovar!"
Anyuta: affectionate diminutive for "Anna"
spina scapulae: shoulder blade
learn up: cram
Psyche: wife of Eros in Greek mythology; also the Greek word for