One autumn, returning from the hunt, I fell ill. Fever caught me in the hotel of a county town. I sent for the doctor. The county physician was a man of small stature, thin and black-haired. We talked, and he told me a story I bring here.
Once, in the great fast, the doctors were called to the sick. She was the daughter of a poor landowner, widow, and lived 20 miles from the city. The road was infernal, and the doctor struggled to reach a small, straw-covered house. The old landowner immediately took the doctor to the sick woman, followed by her two sisters. The sick girl was about 20 years old. When carrying out the necessary procedures, the doctor noticed that his patient was a rare beauty.
After the patient fell asleep, the tired doctor was given tea and put to bed, but
Meanwhile, a terrible mudslide had become, even the medicine from the city was being delivered with difficulty. The patient did not recover. So passed day by day. The patient, Alexandra Andreevna, soon felt for the doctor a friendly disposition, which she took for love. Meanwhile, it was getting worse. The whole family had a blind trust in the doctor, which fell heavily on his shoulders. At night he sat around Alexandra’s bed, entertained her, and talked with her for a long time. She took medicine only from his hands.
Gradually the doctor began to understand that the girl would not survive. Alexandra also understood this. One night she made the doctor tell her the truth and said that she loved him. The doctor realized that this was not so – the girl was scared to die at 25 years old, without experiencing love. Alexandra kissed the doctor, and he could not resist. She lived for three more days and three nights, and every night the doctor spent with her. On the last night, a mother entered the room, and Alexandra told her that she was engaged to a doctor.
The next day the girl died. Since then, the doctor managed to marry a lazy and evil merchant’s daughter with a large dowry.