'It was a hot and suffocating day. The windows were all flung open, but there wasn’t even the hint of a breeze, not even the slightest wind coming in from outside. Chekhov sat at his writing desk, immersed in his thoughts. I gazed at his tired, mournful eyes, trying to make a sketch of his head tilting to one side. His mind was on his work, but his face looked drawn, and his features—it seemed to me— were dissolving into the air. He had a kind of curve in his spine, and his entire posture indicated that he was exhausted. He had lost a lot of weight, and he looked gaunt. His posture, including his tilted head, his tired face, the tense movements of his thick hands – all this asserted that this was a person listening to his inner voice, to a voice which a strong, healthy man would never hear, due to the process of the illness going on inside of him. It was very difficult for me to look upon the features of a person so very sick. Yet, at the same time, the experience was invaluable for the entire country. “Have you found anything worth painting?” he asked me about his portrait. I looked at his somber face and replied, “No. It does not look anything like what I wanted to depict. You seem too sad and tired in this portrait.” “Then let us leave it as it is. Please, do not change anything. The first impression is always the most truthful.”'
A Very Successful Cover-Up
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