Please today’s story 3491 word short story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/188.html
Chekhov follows a schoolmistress riding in a cart to pick up her pay from the zemstvo. She is introverted and had taken the job thirteen years ago out of necessity after her parents died. Her psychological disposition is to not reflect too deeply about anything. To that end she does not think much beyond her examinations. “She had become a schoolmistress from necessity… and she had never thought of a vocation, of serving the cause of enlightenment; and it always seemed to her that what was most important in her work was not the children, nor enlightenment, but the examinations.” Like the only picture she has of her mother which she neglected over years and has faded to only hair and the eyebrows, she seems to have dissolved into a nearly invisible and hollow human. When Hanov, a neighboring landowner and former exam administrator, drives his cart alongside hers, Marya reflects on companionship for possibly the first time in her life. It’s as if the gods were offering her an opportunity to escape with this dashing man who was starting to succumb to alcohol and idleness. “...there was something just perceptible which betrayed in him a being already touched by decay, weak, and on the road to ruin...” Unfortunately that would take courage, and she easily dismisses the notion as she continues on her journey, encountering peasants in a tavern and getting soaked on a river crossing.