Very short one today…only 661 words: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/026.html
The story begins with a husband and wife on an evening stroll walking by a train station. It seems they are alone, but they are not. The third character is the moon, which “peeped up from the drifting cloudlets and frowned, as it seemed, envying their happiness and regretting her tedious and utterly superfluous virginity.” I think this is the first time that Chekhov has given an inanimate object a personality. And she is a jealous, self-pitying moon. When an unexpected uncle shows up with his family and a governess in tow at the station, the couple turn on each other, much to the petty moon’s delight. Had the formerly happy couple not stopped to watch the train arrive, but dined on chicken and sardines in their cottage instead (which is never shown BTW), the family still would have appeared, upending their tranquility. If that had happened, would the moon have enjoyed the couple’s misery as well?
Chekhov delights in the unexpected. Today’s story finds a young married couple out enjoying the evening near the train station. They entertain one another, much to the moon’s annoyance, with warm sentiments and reflections on their present condition. As the moon hides behind the clouds, the couple reflect on how happy they are to have each other on such a beautiful night. This may be the first time that Chekhov gives human qualities to an inanimate object (the moon) which purposefully hides having been reminded of “her own loneliness.” Never fear…she need not hide long. The approaching train delivers an unannounced guest. The uncle of the husband has followed through on an previous suggestion to visit the couple. Tagging along are his wife, 2 daughters, 2 sons, and the aunt’s parents–but for only 3-4 days. The young couple were appropriately “horror-striken” and under their breath blame each other for their sudden misfortune. The moon meanwhile beamed and was glad for once to have no relations.