Please find today’s 5781 word story here: http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/195.html
I liked this story because it got under my skin. It the story of wealthy, well-intentioned people building a house in a small village and dealing with the petty and belligerent peasants. Unlike My Life, which had the peasants acting in selfish and horrible ways to the horror of Misail’s wife, Chekhov goes into the peasants’ homes in this tale and spends times with the different characters and their different points of view regarding the engineer’s family. It is sad to see Elena, who genuinely wants to help the ignorant, short sighted peasants, lose her health from stress they cause. If she had died in this story, I would have hoped that the engineer would have become an avenging widower and burnt down the village. But of course that isn’t Chekhov. The misplaced hate the peasants have is incurable. No amount of logic could have swayed them from their indignant lines: “What do we want a bridge for? We don’t want it.” Of course later, long after the bridge is built and they couldn’t imagine life without it, they wonder why they had treated the family so harshly. I’m glad that Chekhov added the last section to show the peasants’ ignorance and idiocy as well as a moment of guilty reflection.