Find today’s 2440 work story here. http://www.chekhovshorts.com/stories/143.html
This story is full of childhood innocence and adventurous grand ideas. Chekhov sets the scene for the most perfect Russian family when not only the parents and siblings are excited about the Volodya’s return from school, but so is the dog. “Bow-wow!” barked the huge black dog, Milord, in a deep bass, tapping with his tail on the walls and furniture.” This is a Disneyesque, perfect upper class family. Joy and Christmas tidings abound. But things are different this year as there is a new element in the house, Volodya’s schoolmate, Lentilov. He is painted in a negative light from the beginining: “He was thin, dark, and freckled; his hair stood up like a brush, his eyes were small, and his lips were thick. He was, in fact, distinctly ugly, and if he had not been wearing the school uniform, he might have been taken for the son of a cook.” This description reminds me of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, the dark (literally) outsider who corrupts an innocent family. In this case the two two boys are enthralled with America and the California gold rush through the writings of Thomas Mayne Reid. And not unlike a tale from Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn they want to run away. I like that Chekhov gives us the two sisters as detectives trying to figure out what the boys are up to. The youngest sibling, Masha, provides comic relief by getting Lentilov confused with Lent and lentils. The boys perceptions of distances and obstacles are funny. “First to Perm… ” Lentilov said, in an undertone, “from there to Tiumen, then Tomsk… Kamchatka. There the Samoyedes take one over Behring’s Straits in boats…. And then we are in America…. There are lots of furry animals there….” Due to the nature of this story, I never believed the boys would be in any great harm when they took off, but after they did not return a day later, I became worried as Chekhov will sometimes upset readers expectations.