For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Sleepy”

Anton Chekhov

Excerpt

“Give the baby here!” a familiar voice answers. “Give the baby here!” the same voice repeats, this time harshly and angrily. “Are you asleep, you wretched girl?”

Varka jumps up, and looking round grasps what is the matter: there is no high road, no Pelageya, no people meeting them, there is only her mistress, who has come to feed the baby, and is standing in the middle of the room. While the stout, broad-shouldered woman nurses the child and soothes it, Varka stands looking at her and waiting till she has done. And outside the windows the air is already turning blue, the shadows and the green patch on the ceiling are visibly growing pale, it will soon be morning.

“Take him,” says her mistress, buttoning up her chemise over her bosom; “he is crying. He must be bewitched.”

Varka takes the baby, puts him in the cradle and begins rocking it again. The green patch and the shadows gradually disappear, and now there is nothing to force itself on her eyes and cloud her brain. But she is as sleepy as before, fearfully sleepy! Varka lays her head on the edge of the cradle, and rocks her whole body to overcome her sleepiness, but yet her eyes are glued together, and her head is heavy.

We read it in Later Stories: 1888-1903.