Of course, fear in hospitality is not alike. While Chekov’s officers are afraid of appearing insufficiently cultivated, perhaps, their host has a more pressing reason for his anxieties given the young women in his care, one of whom is about to be kissed. Yet, when all is said and done, General Von Rabbek remains a host in ways that his guests can only dream of:

‘Very, very glad to have met you, gentlemen’, said Von Rabbek, and this time sincerely (probably because people are far more sincere and goodhumoured at speeding their parting guests than on meeting them). ‘Delighted. I hope you will come on your way back! Don’t stand on ceremony!’ . . . The officers went out into the garden . . . They were a little drunk, pleased, and in good spirits, but the darkness and silence made them thoughtful for a minute . . . would there ever come a time for them when, like Von Rabbek, they would have a large house, a family, a garden – when they, too, would be able to welcome people, even though insincerely, feed them, make them drunk and contented?