“It’s twelve years since I was married to you, and . . . and . . . there has never once been love between us! . . . I . . . I am not crying.
‘Love…’ muttered Yegor, scratching his hand. ‘There can’t be any love. It’s only in name we are husband and wife; we aren’t really. In your eyes I am a wild man, and in mine you are a simple peasant woman with no understanding. Are we well matched? I am a free, pampered, profligate man, while you are a working woman, going in bark shoes and never straightening your back. The way I think of myself is that I am the foremost man in every kind of sport, and you look at me with pity. . . . Is that being well matched?’
‘But we are married, you know, Yegor Vlassitch,’ sobbed Pelagea.
‘Not married of our free will. . . . Have you forgotten? You have to thank Count Sergey Paylovitch and yourself. Out of envy, because I shot better than he did, the Count kept giving me wine for a whole month, and when a man’s drunk you could make him change his religion, let alone getting married. To pay me out he married me to you when I was drunk. . . . A huntsman to a herd-girl! You saw I was drunk, why did you marry me? You were not a serf, you know; you could have resisted. Of course it was a bit of luck for a herd-girl to marry a huntsman, but you ought to have thought about it. Well, now be miserable, cry. It’s a joke for the Count, but a crying matter for you. . . . Beat yourself against the wall.’
A silence followed. Three wild ducks flew over the clearing. Yegor followed them with his eyes till, transformed into three scarcely visible dots, they sank down far beyond the forest.”
The Huntsman by Anton Chekhov