The Christmas Tree

Чехов Ёлка

The tall, ever-green Christmas tree of fate is hung with the benefits of life… From the bottom to the top, careers, lucky cases, suitable games, winnings, «butter figs», snaps on the nose, and so on hang. Adult children crowd around the Christmas tree. Fate gives them gifts…
— Children, which of you wants a rich woman for wife? — it asks, taking off a red-cheeked merchant from a branch, covered from head to heels with pearls and diamonds… - Two houses on Ivy, three iron shops, one vine shop and two hundred thousand in money! Well, who wants this?
— Me! Me! — hundreds of hands are reaching out for the bill of sale. — Give me a wife-merchant! I want this businesswoman!
— Don′t crowd, children, and don′t worry...everyone will be satisfied... let the young aesculapius take the wife-merchant. A person who has devoted himself to science and signed up as a benefactor of humanity cannot do without a pair of horses, good furniture, etc. Take it, dear Doctor! No problem… Well, now the next surprise! A place on the Chukhlomo-Poshekhonskaya railway! Ten thousand salary, the same amount of bonus, work three hours a month, an apartment in thirteen rooms, and so on. Who wants to? You, Kolya? Take it, you are really my favorite! Well. I could go on further… The place of the housekeeper at the lonely Baron Schmaus! Ah, don't tear up so that, Mesdames! Have patience! I have for you many presents. Next! A young, pretty girl, the daughter of poor but noble parents! Not a penny of dowry, but an honest, sensitive, poetic nature! Who wants to? (Pause.) Nobody?
— I would take it, but there is nothing to feed! — the poet′s voice is heard from the corner.
— So no one wants to?
— Perhaps, let me take... so be it... — says a small, gouty old man who serves in the spiritual consistory. — Perhaps I do it…
— Zorina′s handkerchief! Who wants this?
— Ah! Me! Me! Ah! My poor leg crushed! I want! Oh, I ′ve always wanted this!
— The next surprise! A luxurious library containing all the works of Kant, Schopenhauer, Goethe, all Russian and foreign authors, a lot of old folios, etc. Who wants this?
— I am, sir! — says the bookseller Svinopasov. — I ask it, sir! Please!

 Svinopasov takes the library, selects for himself «Oracle», «Dream Book», «Letter book», «Table book for bachelors»..., throws the rest on the floor…

— Next! Portrait of an Okreian!

 Loud laughter is heard…

— Let me... — says the museum's owner Winkler. — It will come in handy…
— Next! Luxury frame from the «Novi» award (pause). Nobody wants to? In this case, next… Torn boots!

 Boots go to the artist… In the end, the tree is robbed and the audience disperses… There is only one person, employee of humorous magazines remains near the Christmas tree…

— What do you have for me? — he asks Fate. — Everyone got a gift. Nothing? Blimey, who′d spend that much on you? Well, I don′t care... This is piggish on your part!
— Everything was disassembled, there was nothing left… There is, however, one «fig with butter» ... Do you want?
— No need… I′m already tired of these «figs with butter»... the boxes of some Moscow editorial offices are full of this stuff. Is not there something more significant?
— Take these frames…
— I already have it…
— Here′s the bridle, the reins… Here′s the red cross, if you want... toothache... iron gloves... a month in prison for defamation…
— It just doesn′t sink in for you, does it? I already have all this…
— Tin soldier, if you want... a map of the North…

 The humorist waves his hand and goes home with the hope of a Christmas tree next year…


Anton Pavlovich CHEKHOV, pre-revolutionary Russian writer
Outstanding Russian writer, prose writer, playwright. A classic of world literature.

Illustration by Alexander Botvinov
Ботвинов Alexander graduated from the Grekov Art School in Rostov
and the graphic design faculty of the Rostov Institute of Arts.
He is engaged in graphics.
Larisa Vladimirovna Mironova, contemporary Russian writer
Novelist, member of the Moscow city organization of the Union of Writers of Russia.
Permanently resides in Moscow.
Graduated from school with a gold medal, has four higher education, in the Union of Writers since 1990.
Published over a hundred works, including four novels,
Three books of prose, and another three - in collective collections.