This story weighs in at 1294 words. http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/011.html
This story is only interesting in that Chekhov would later on in life write plays that revolutionized theater with understated, realistic performances. Reading the line “…he trembled all over as nobody ever trembles in reality, and gasped loudly,” I felt Chekhov was already annoyed with the acting style in the Russian theaters. And it seemed like he didn’t care much for the actors as they come across as opportunistic heels. The story as Steve says below is forgettable and seems rushed. It’s interesting that the police captain who dotes over his daughter, taking her to the theater and inviting actors over for dinner on her behalf, does nothing when she elopes with the tragedian Fenogenov. In stereotypical American stories, the captain would use all the power of the law to hunt down and string up the actors. Instead he shockingly washes his hands of her. This is 19th century Russia and daughters come with dowries, or so the acting troupe thought. Is Fenogenov a “tragic” actor because he is hitched to an untalented, penniless bride? I don’t care for abusers, so I have no sympathy for him. Perhaps the next time he hands Masha a sword, she’ll run him through and then he’ll be tragic.
A young impressionable daughter of a police captain is swept off her feet by the leading male of a traveling acting group. This story felt more like the first two chapters of what you hope is a story with a better ending. Masha (the daughter) has never seen a play before and is instantly smitten by the troupe having “never before seen such clever, exceptional people!” It made me wonder who she typically invites over for dinner. It doesn’t take long for her to run away with Fenogenov only to be immediately remorseful of her decision. The irony perhaps is how theatrical Masha appears while swooning over a man who hates her and yet how horrible she was as an actress in the troupe. The story is forgettable in my opinion and rushed too hurriedly to make what I can only assume is a lesson in being remorseful of youthful naïveté.