A couple of weeks ago, we moved our oldest daughter into her NYU summer housing and I jumped at the opportunity to spend a few minutes at Strand Books. Working under time pressure, I found three books in five or ten minutes (though my husband claims it was closer to thirty), including this edition of Wordsworth Classics Selected Stories.
The first story, "Overseasoned" (1885), seemed vaguely familiar. A surveyor arrives at a station, only to find that his business is still another thirty or forty miles farther. With no post horses are available, he warily enlists the services of a willing peasant.
They left the station at dusk. To the right stretched a cold, dark plain so boundless and vast that if you crossed it no doubt you would come out the Other End of Nowhere. The cold autumn sunset burnt out slowly where the edge of it melted into the sky. To the left, in the fading light, some little mounds rose up that might have been trees or last year's haystacks. The surveyor could not see what lay ahead, for here the whole landscape was blotted out by the broad, clumsy back of the driver. The air was still, but frosty and cold.What a vivid picture Chekhov paints! The surveyor soon becomes uncomfortable and more than a little nervous. He begins boasting (falsely) to the driver about a revolver he claims to be carrying, his physical prowess in fighting off would-be robbers, and a group of his friends trying to catch up with the wagon. In a comic twist, his bravado backfires and causes the driver to become afraid of the surveyor.
I have probably read this story before and am curious to see if the others produce a similar feeling of deja vu. A different translation of this story can be read online. Interestingly, it is more aptly titles as "Overdoing It".
Short Story Monday is hosed by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set.