Lady with Lapdog
People were telling one another that a newcomer had been seen on the promenade--a lady
with a dog. Dmitri Dmitrich Gurov had been a fortnight in Yalta, and was accustomed to
its ways, and he, too, had begun to take an interest in fresh arrivals. From his seat in
Vernet's outdoor café, he caught sight of a young woman in a toque, passing along the
promenade; she was fair and not very tall; after her trotted a white Pomeranian.
Later he encountered her in the municipal park and in the square several times a day. She
was always alone, wearing the same toque, and the Pomeranian always trotted at her side.
Nobody knew who she was, and people referred to her simply as "the lady with the dog."
"If she's here without her husband, and without any friends," thought Gurov, "it wouldn't
be a bad idea to make her acquaintance."
He was not yet forty but had a twelve-year-old daughter and two sons in high school. He
had been talked into marrying in his third year at college, and his wife now looked nearly
twice as old as he did. She was a tall woman with dark eyebrows, erect, dignified,
imposing, and, as she said of herself, a "thinker." She was a great reader, omitted the
"hard sign" at the end of words in her letters, and called her husband "Dimitry" instead of
Dmitry; and though he secretly considered her shallow, narrow-minded, and dowdy, he
stood in awe of her, and disliked being at home. He had first begun deceiving her long
ago and he was now constantly unfaithful to her, and this was no doubt why he spoke
slightingly of women, to whom he referred as
the lower race.
He considered that the ample lessons he had received from bitter experience entitled him
to call them whatever he liked, but without this "lower race" he could not have existed a
single day. He was bored and ill-at-ease in the company of men, with whom he was
always cold and reserved, but felt quite at home among women, and knew exactly what
to say to them, and how to behave; he could even be silent in their company without
feeling the slightest awkwardness. There was an elusive charm in his appearance and
disposition which attracted women and caught their sympathies. He knew this and was
himself attracted to them by some invisible force.
Repeated and hitter experience had taught him that every fresh intimacy, while at first
introducing such pleasant variety into every-day life, and offering itself as a charming,