A Naughty Boy
by Anton Chekhov
IVAN LAPKIN, a youth of pleasing exterior, and
Anna Zamblitskaya, a girl with a tip-tilted nose,
descended the steep river bank and took their
seats on a bench at its foot. The bench stood at
the water's edge in a thicket of young willows.
It was a lovely spot. Sitting there, one was
hidden from all the world and observed only by
fish and the daddy-long-legs that skimmed like
lightning across the surface of the water. The
young people were armed with fishing-rods, nets,
cans containing worms, and other fishing
appurtenances. They sat down on the bench and
immediately began to fish.
"I am glad that we are alone at
last," began Lapkin glancing behind him.
"I have a great deal to say to you, Miss
Anna, a very great deal. When first I saw
you--you've got a bite!--I realized at last the
reason for my existence. I knew that you were the
idol at whose feet I was to lay the whole of an
honourable and industrious life--that's a big one
biting! On seeing you I fell in love for the
first time in my life. I fell madly in love!--
Don't pull yet, let it bite a little longer!--
Tell me, dearest, I beg you, if I may aspire, not
to a return of my affection--no, I am not worthy
of that, I dare not even dream of it--but tell me
if I may aspire to--pull!" With a shriek,
Anna jerked the arm that held the fishing-rod into
the air; a little silvery-green fish dangled
glistening in the sunlight.
"Goodness gracious, it's a perch! Oh, oh,
be quick, it's coming off!"
The perch fell off the hook, flopped across the
grass toward its native element, and splashed into
Somehow, while pursuing it, Lapkin accidentally
seized Anna's hand instead of the fish and
accidentally pressed it to his lips. Anna pulled
it away, but it was too late, their lips
accidentally met in a kiss. It all happened
accidentally. A second kiss succeeded the first,
and then followed vows and the plighting of troth.
Happy moments! But perfect bliss does not exist
on earth, it often bears a poison in itself, or
else is poisoned by some outside circumstances.
So it was in this case. When the young people had
exchanged kisses they heard a sudden burst of
laughter. They looked at the river in
stupefaction; before them, up to his waist in
water, stood a naked boy: it was Kolia, Anna's
schoolboy brother! He stood there smiling
maliciously with his eyes fixed on the young
"Aha! You're kissing one another, are
you? All right, I'll tell mamma!"
"I hope that, as an honourable boy--"
faltered Lapkin, blushing. "To spy on us is
mean, but to sneak is low, base, vile. I am sure
that, as a good and honourable boy, you--"
"Give me a rouble and I won't say
anything!" answered the honourable boy.
"If you don't, I'll tell on you--"
Lapkin took a rouble from his pocket and gave
it to Kolia. The boy seized it in his wet hand,
whistled, and swam away. The young couple
exchanged no more kisses on that occasion.
Next day Lapkin brought Kolia a box of paints
from town and a ball; his sister gave him all her
old pillboxes. They next had to present him with
a set of studs with little dogs' heads on them.
The bad boy obviously relished the game and began
spying on them so as to get more presents.
Wherever Lapkin and Anna went, there he went too.
He never left them to themselves for a moment.
"The little wretch!" muttered Lapkin
grinding his teeth. "So young and yet so
great a rascal! What will become of us?"
All through the month of June Kolia tormented
the unhappy lovers. He threatened them with
betrayal, he spied on them, and then demanded
presents; he could not get enough, and at last
began talking of a watch. The watch was given
Once during dinner, while the waffles were on
the table, he burst out laughing, winked, and said
"Shall I tell them, eh?"
Lapkin blushed furiously and put his napkin
into his mouth instead of a waffle. Anna jumped
up from the table and ran into another room.
The young people remained in this situation
until the end of August when the day at last came
on which Lapkin proposed for Anna's hand. Oh,
what a joyful day it was! No sooner had he spoken
with his sweetheart's parents and obtained their
consent to his suit, than Lapkin rushed into the
garden in search of Kolia. He nearly wept with
exultation on finding him, and caught the wicked
boy by the ear. Anna came running up, too,
looking for Kolia, and seized him by the other
ear. The pleasure depicted on the faces of the
lovers when Kolia wept and begged for mercy was
well worth seeing.
"Dear, good, sweet angels, I won't do it
again! Ouch, ouch! Forgive me!" Kolia
They confessed afterward that during all their
courtship they had never once experienced such
bliss, such thrilling rapture, as they did during
those few moments when they were pulling the ears
of that wicked boy.