Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Peter Ignátitch, a well-to-do peasant, is forty-two years old and sickly. His second wife, Anisya, is only thirty-two years old. Still feeling young, she starts an affair with Nikita Akimitch Tchilikin, their hired man. Peter considers Nikita a loafer and thinks of dismissing him. As he is explaining his intention to Anisya, they learn that Nikita is talking about getting married and leaving their farm. Anisya complains to Peter that Nikita’s departure will leave her with more work than she can handle.
When Anisya and Nikita are alone, he tells her that in spite of his marriage plans he will always come back to her. Anisya threatens to do violence to herself if Nikita leaves, adding that when her husband dies, Nikita could marry her and become master of the farm. Nikita declares, however, that he is satisfied with his lot. Matryona, Nikita’s mother, comes in and says that Nikita’s marriage is his father’s plan, not her own, and that he need not worry about it. She then asks Nikita to leave the room.
Left alone with Matryona, Anisya confesses her love for Nikita. Matryona, who says that she has known of their affair all along, gives Anisya some poison and advises her to bury her husband before spring; she suggests also that Nikita will make a good master on the farm. Concerning the marriage, she explains that Nikita had an affair with Marina, an orphan girl, and that when Akim, his father, learned about it he had insisted that Nikita...
(The entire section is 1041 words.)
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