Here is today’s 1390 word story: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/018.html
Like yesterday’s story, Minds In Ferment, a quiet day on the square erupts into a big scene with citizens throwing accusations and opinions. In this case, a man chases and corners a dog that bit him. The chameleon of the story is police superintendent Otchumyelov. The story becomes a farcical comedy as he vacillates between destroying the dog or reprimanding the bitten man for provoking the animal. It all depends on who owns the dog, not what really happened. Chekhov is definitely poking fun of Russian law enforcement and how the gears of justice lean toward the powerful, even if they are not directly involved.
Two policemen walk into a silent square devoid of everyone…even the beggars…only to be disrupted by a man and a dog. Sounds like the beginning to a bad joke…and in many ways the scene that played out lived up to that expectation. I thought it was interesting that Chekhov chose “gooseberries” as the confiscated artifact being carried by the red-haired policeman shadowing the superintendent. Unfortunately, we never learn more of the gooseberry crime but instead watch the superintendent constantly change his mind about how to play his role–thus the Chameleon title. I particularly enjoyed how Chekhov described the puppy and couldn’t help but smile to see the translation of the word “misery” in anticipation of a future story — “There is an expression of misery and terror in her tearful eyes.” I was drawn more to the dog than any other character for exhibiting both misery and terror simultaneously…the one character that could not defend its reputation and fortunately in the end didn’t have to.