Ivan Dmitritch, a middle class man who lived with his family on an income of twelve hundred a year and was very well satisfied with his lot, sat down on the sofa after supper and began reading the newspaper.
“I forgot to look at the newspaper today,” his wife said to him as she cleared the table. “Look and see whether the list of drawings is there.”
“Yes, it is,” said Ivan Dmitritch, “but hasn’t your ticket lapsed?”
“No, I took the interest on Tuesday.”
“What is the number?”
“Series 9,499, number 26.”
“All right we will look 9,499 and 26.”
Ivan Dmitritch had no faith in lottery luck and would not, as a rule, have consented to look at the lists of winning numbers; but now, as he had nothing else to do and as the newspaper was before his eyes, he passed his finger downwards along the column of numbers. And immediately, as though in mockery of his skepticism, no further than the second line from the top, his eye was caught by the figure 9,499! Unable to believe his eyes, he hurriedly dropped the paper on his knees without looking to see the number of the ticket, and, just as though someone had given him a douche of cold water, he felt an agreeable chill in the pit of the stomach, tingling and terrible and sweet!
“Masha, 9,499 is there!” he said in a hollow voice.
His wife looked at his astonished and panic-stricken face and realized that he was not joking.
“9,499?” she asked, turning pale and dropping the folded tablecloth on the table.
“Yes, yes it really is there!”
“And the number of the ticket?”
“Oh, yes! There’s the number of the ticket too. But stay wait! No, I say! Anyway, the number of our series is there! Anyway, you understand .”
Looking at his wife, Ivan Dmitritch gave a broad, senseless smile, like a baby when a bright object is shown it. His wife smiled too; it was as pleasant to her as to him that he only mentioned the series and did not try to find out the number of the winning ticket. To torment and tantalize oneself with hopes of possible fortune is so sweet, so thrilling!
“It is our series,” said Ivan Dmitritch, after a long silence. “So there is a probability that we have won. It’s only a probability, but there it is!”
“Well, now look!”
Ivan Dmitritch, holding the paper in his hand, walked several times from corner to corner, and only when he had recovered from the first impression, began dreaming a little.
“And if we have won,” he said, “why, it will be a new life; it will be a transformation! The ticket is yours, but if it were mine, I should, first of all, of course, spend twenty-five thousand on real property in the shape of an estate; ten thousand on immediate expenses, new furnishing traveling paying debts, and so on . The other forty thousand I would put in the bank and get interest on it.”
“Yes, an estate, that would be nice,” said his wife, sitting down and dropping her hands in her lap.
“Somewhere in the Tula or Oryol provinces . In the first place, we shouldn’t need a summer villa, and besides, it would always bring in an income.”
Canadian subscribers add $10; All other international subscribers add $40.