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THE INTENTIONAL DECEPTION/ Anton Chekhov, translated by Peter Sekirin ZAKHAR KUZMICH DIADECHKIN was having a New Year's party. The idea was to celebrate both New Year's Eve and the birthday of Malania Tikhonovna, his wife and the mistress of the house. Many people were there. AU of them were serious, respectful and sober; not one scoundrel among them. All wore pleasant expressions and held respect for their own dignity. Some were sitting in the livingroom , on a long sofa covered with cheap vinyl. The landowner, Gusev, and the owner of the nearest grocery store, Razmakhalov, were there. They spoke about bribery and drink. "It's so hard to find a man," said Gusev, "who doesn't drink nowadays , a serious man. It's hard to find a man like that." "And the most important thing, Alexei Vasilievich, is law and order." "There must be law and order. Right here at home, so many bad things are happening. How can you establish law and order?" Three old women were sitting in a half-circle around them, looking at the men's mouths with amazement. They looked, astonished and awed, at the two men talking about such clever things. Gury Markovich , their in-law, was sitting in the corner of the room, looking at icons. Suddenly, a soft noise came from the lady's bedroom. There, some younger boys and a girl were playing bingo. The bet was one kopeck. Kolya, a first-year high school student, was standing next to the table, crying. He wanted to play bingo, but the other children would not let him. Why should a young boy play if he did not have a kopeck? "Don't cry, fool! Why are you crying? I think your mother should beat you." "I have beaten him enough," sounded the mother's voice from the kitchen, "you bad boy. Varvara Gurievna, pull him by the ear." Two young girls in pink sat on the mistress' bed, which was covered with a cotton blanket that had lost its original color. A man, twentythree years old, sat in front of them, a clerk from the insurance company . His name was Kopalsky, and his face reminded one of a cat. He was flirting with them. "I am never going to marry," he said, looking dashing and adjusting the tightly fixed collar on his shirt. "A woman is a wonderful thing for a man, but at the same time she can ruin him!" 76 ยท The Missouri Review "But what about men? Men can't fall in love. They can only . . ." "You are so naive! I don't want to be cynical, but I happen to know that men stand much higher than women when it comes to love." Mr. Diadechkin and his elder son, Grisha, were pacing from one corner of the room to another, looking like two wolves in a cage. They were burning with impatience. They had already had a couple of drinks at dinner before, and now they wanted another. Diadechkin went to the kitchen. There, the mistress of the house was covering a pie with powdered sugar. "Malasha, the guests would like some more snacks to be served," said Diadechkin. "They'll have to wait. If you eat and drink everything now, what am I going to serve at midnight? You can wait. Get out of the kitchen and don't get in my way." "Can I have just one small shot, Malasha? You won't even notice it." "What a man! Out of the kitchen! Out! Go talk to our guests! You're not wanted here, in the kitchen." Diadechkin went out and looked at the clock. It showed only eight minutes after eleven. There were fifty-two minutes before the longawaited moment. The waiting was terrible! Waiting for a drink is one of the worst things. It is better to wait for a train for five hours outside in the snow than it is to wait for a drink for five minutes. Diadechkin looked angrily at the clock, took a few steps across the room, and moved the big hand five minutes ahead. And what about Grisha? Grisha was thinking that if he did not get...


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