As the days lengthened and summer approached, Anton thought of Anna Sergeyevna and her little Pomeranian, white against the hot black cobbles of Yalta. In the mornings he would write, and each evening walk the warming lanes of Alushta. Try as he might, he could not forget her fragile beauty, her grey eyes and tearful countenance.
As the weeks passed and his annual holiday approached, the thought of visiting Anna Sergeyevna in S. became an irresistible fantasy. All of the dangers and tiresome guilt of their affair receded, and she seemed to him somehow apart from all his other assignations.
Anton was filled with a desire to share his memories of their affair, and wrote in a great hurry a story in which they met again and though confounded on every side by the judgements of society, he and the lady with the toy dog found at last the possibility of happiness.
In June, taking his great friend Alexei into his confidence, Anton took a carriage to S. with the intention seeing Anna Sergeyevna. All the while, as he passed peasants tilling the fields, and paused in each great imperial station, he imagined the house and husband he had written for her on Old Gontcharny street, and they grey fence surrounding each.
S. was crowded with revellers making excuses to enjoy the clement weather. Anton and Alexei settled themselves into a moderately appointed hotel, avoiding an ostentatious establishment which might alert the cities literati to their presence.
The plan was simple. Alexei would would make discrete enquirers into Anna Sergeyevna’s whereabouts, while Anton worked on his writing and stick to the quiet quarters of the city. Fate however, had other plans.
That evening as he made his way through a poor district, Anton was forced to deal with an unruly beggar. With an unkempt rope of filthy hair, crusted eyes, a filthy cigaretto plunged between her lips, and a belly heavy with child, it took him some while to recognise Anna Sergeyevna. It wasn’t until he’d clubbed her imploring form into unconsciousness that the realisation struck him.
Anton knew at once what must have happened. Returning home to her cuckolded husband, she had confessed her sin and been cast from his house. Far from the town of her birth, without money, friends, and carrying the illegitimate child of a married man, she had been shunned by charity, and turned at last resort to the oldest profession.
He looked down at her unconscious form, with more pity than distaste. Hard to believe he had once loved this foul unkempt lady of disrepute. How utterly selfish of her to grow pregnant after their brief affair.
How like a member of the inferior species.
Anton looked about once more, and finding the street deserted, resolved his problem with ten stout koshes from his oaken cane. Then, wiping the sullied stick on a nearby bush, he continued his constitutional.
That night, when Alexei returned with the news that Anna Sergeyevna had disappeared, Anton was stoic. ’Well my friend, if she was nowhere to be found, then one must suppose it is not to be.’
Alexei shook his head in admiration. ’My friend, I marvel at how well you deal with grave disappointment.’
Anton nodded sagely, and patted Alexei’s shoulder. ’A sad experience to be sure, but a good story.’