Part 1 out of 5
Transcribed by James Rusk and Produced for PG by Nicole Apostola
PLAYS BY ANTON CHEKHOV
[The First Series Plays have been previously published
in etext numbers: 1753 through 1756]
Translated, with an Introduction, by Julius West
ON THE HIGH ROAD
A TRAGEDIAN IN SPITE OF HIMSELF
THE THREE SISTERS
THE CHERRY ORCHARD
The last few years have seen a large and generally unsystematic
mass of translations from the Russian flung at the heads and hearts
of English readers. The ready acceptance of Chekhov has been one of
the few successful features of this irresponsible output. He has
been welcomed by British critics with something like affection.
Bernard Shaw has several times remarked: "Every time I see a play
by Chekhov, I want to chuck all my own stuff into the fire."
Others, having no such valuable property to sacrifice on the altar
of Chekhov, have not hesitated to place him side by side with
Ibsen, and the other established institutions of the new theatre.
For these reasons it is pleasant to be able to chronicle the fact
that, by way of contrast with the casual treatment normally handed
out to Russian authors, the publishers are issuing the complete
dramatic works of this author. In 1912 they brought out a volume
containing four Chekhov plays, translated by Marian Fell. All the
dramatic works not included in her volume are to be found in the
present one. With the exception of Chekhov's masterpiece, "The
Cherry Orchard" (translated by the late Mr. George Calderon in
1912), none of these plays have been previously published in book
form in England or America.
It is not the business of a translator to attempt to outdo all
others in singing the praises of his raw material. This is a
dangerous process and may well lead, as it led Mr. Calderon, to
drawing the reader's attention to points of beauty not to be found
in the original. A few bibliographical details are equally
necessary, and permissible, and the elementary principles of
Chekhov criticism will also be found useful.
The very existence of "The High Road" (1884); probably the earliest
of its author's plays, will be unsuspected by English readers.
During Chekhov's lifetime it a sort of family legend, after his
death it became a family mystery. A copy was finally discovered
only last year in the Censor's office, yielded up, and published.
It had been sent in 1885 under the nom-de-plume "A. Chekhonte," and
it had failed to pass. The Censor, of the time being had scrawled
his opinion on the manuscript, "a depressing and dirty piece,--
cannot be licensed." The name of the gentleman who held this view--
Kaiser von Kugelgen--gives another reason for the educated
Russian's low opinion of German-sounding institutions. Baron von
Tuzenbach, the satisfactory person in "The Three Sisters," it will
be noted, finds it as well, while he is trying to secure the
favours of Irina, to declare that his German ancestry is fairly
remote. This is by way of parenthesis. "The High Road," found after
thirty years, is a most interesting document to the lover of
Chekhov. Every play he wrote in later years was either a one-act
farce or a four-act drama. [Note: "The Swan Song" may occur as an
exception. This, however, is more of a Shakespeare recitation than
anything else, and so neither here nor there.]
In "The High Road" we see, in an embryonic form, the whole later
method of the plays--the deliberate contrast between two strong
characters (Bortsov and Merik in this case), the careful
individualization of each person in a fairly large group by way of
an introduction to the main theme, the concealment of the
catastrophe, germ-wise, in the actual character of the characters,
and the of a distinctive group-atmosphere. It need scarcely be
stated that "The High Road" is not a "dirty" piece according to
Russian or to German standards; Chekhov was incapable of writing a
dirty play or story. For the rest, this piece differs from the
others in its presentation, not of Chekhov's favourite middle-classes,
but of the moujik, nourishing, in a particularly stuffy atmosphere,
an intense mysticism and an equally intense thirst for vodka.
"The Proposal" (1889) and "The Bear" (1890) may be taken as good
examples of the sort of humour admired by the average Russian. The
latter play, in another translation, was put on as a curtain-raiser
to a cinematograph entertainment at a London theatre in 1914; and
had quite a pleasant reception from a thoroughly Philistine
audience. The humour is very nearly of the variety most popular
over here, the psychology is a shade subtler. The Russian novelist
or dramatist takes to psychology as some of his fellow-countrymen
take to drink; in doing this he achieves fame by showing us what we
already know, and at the same time he kills his own creative power.
Chekhov just escaped the tragedy of suicide by introspection, and
was only enabled to do this by the possession of a sense of humour.
That is why we should not regard "The Bear," "The Wedding," or "The
Anniversary" as the work of a merely humorous young man, but as
the saving graces which made perfect "The Cherry Orchard."
"The Three Sisters" (1901) is said to act better than any other of
Chekhov's plays, and should surprise an English audience
exceedingly. It and "The Cherry Orchard" are the tragedies of doing
nothing. The three sisters have only one desire in the world, to go
to Moscow and live there. There is no reason on earth, economic,
sentimental, or other, why they should not pack their bags and take
the next train to Moscow. But they will not do it. They cannot do
it. And we know perfectly well that if they were transplanted
thither miraculously, they would be extremely unhappy as soon as
ever the excitement of the miracle had worn off. In the other play
Mme. Ranevsky can be saved from ruin if she will only consent to a
perfectly simple step--the sale of an estate. She cannot do this,
is ruined, and thrown out into the unsympathetic world. Chekhov is
the dramatist, not of action, but of inaction. The tragedy of
inaction is as overwhelming, when we understand it, as the tragedy
of an Othello, or a Lear, crushed by the wickedness of others. The
former is being enacted daily, but we do not stage it, we do not
know how. But who shall deny that the base of almost all human
unhappiness is just this inaction, manifesting itself in
slovenliness of thought and execution, education, and ideal?
The Russian, painfully conscious of his own weakness, has accepted
this point of view, and regards "The Cherry Orchard" as its master-study
in dramatic form. They speak of the palpitating hush which fell
upon the audience of the Moscow Art Theatre after the first fall of
the curtain at the first performance--a hush so intense as to make
Chekhov's friends undergo the initial emotions of assisting at a
vast theatrical failure. But the silence ryes almost a sob, to be
followed, when overcome, by an epic applause. And, a few months
later, Chekhov died.
This volume and that of Marian Fell--with which it is uniform--
contain all the dramatic works of Chekhov. It considered not worth
while to translate a few fragments published posthumously, or a
monologue "On the Evils of Tobacco"--a half humorous lecture by
"the husband of his wife;" which begins "Ladies, and in some
respects, gentlemen," as this is hardly dramatic work. There is
also a very short skit on the efficiency of provincial fire
brigades, which was obviously not intended for the stage and has
therefore been omitted.
Lastly, the scheme of transliteration employed has been that,
generally speaking, recommended by the Liverpool School of Russian
Studies. This is distinctly the best of those in the field, but as
it would compel one, e.g., to write a popular female name, "Marya,"
I have not treated it absolute respect. For the sake of uniformity
with Fell's volume, the author's name is spelt Tchekoff on the
title-page and cover.
RUSSIAN WEIGHTS AND MEASURES AND
MONEY EMPLOYED IN THE PLAYS,
WITH ENGLISH EQUIVALENTS
1 verst = 3600 feet = 2/3 mile (almost)
1 arshin = 28 inches
1 dessiatin = 2.7 acres
1 copeck = 1/4 d
1 rouble = 100 copecks = 2s. 1d.
ON THE HIGH ROAD
A DRAMATIC STUDY
TIHON EVSTIGNEYEV, the proprietor of a inn on the main road
SEMYON SERGEYEVITCH BORTSOV, a ruined landowner
MARIA EGOROVNA, his wife
SAVVA, an aged pilgrim
NAZAROVNA and EFIMOVNA, women pilgrims
FEDYA, a labourer
EGOR MERIK, a tramp
KUSMA, a driver
BORTSOV'S WIFE'S COACHMAN
PILGRIMS, CATTLE-DEALERS, ETC.
The action takes place in one of the provinces of Southern Russia
ON THE HIGH ROAD
[The scene is laid in TIHON'S bar. On the right is the bar-counter
and shelves with bottles. At the back is a door leading out of the
house. Over it, on the outside, hangs a dirty red lantern. The
floor and the forms, which stand against the wall, are closely
occupied by pilgrims and passers-by. Many of them, for lack of
space, are sleeping as they sit. It is late at night. As the
curtain rises thunder is heard, and lightning is seen through the
[TIHON is behind the counter. FEDYA is half-lying in a heap on one
of the forms, and is quietly playing on a concertina. Next to him
is BORTSOV, wearing a shabby summer overcoat. SAVVA, NAZAROVNA, and
EFIMOVNA are stretched out on the floor by the benches.]
EFIMOVNA. [To NAZAROVNA] Give the old man a nudge dear! Can't get
any answer out of him.
NAZAROVNA. [Lifting the corner of a cloth covering of SAVVA'S face]
Are you alive or are you dead, you holy man?
SAVVA. Why should I be dead? I'm alive, mother! [Raises himself on
his elbow] Cover up my feet, there's a saint! That's it. A bit more
on the right one. That's it, mother. God be good to us.
NAZAROVNA. [Wrapping up SAVVA'S feet] Sleep, little father.
SAVVA. What sleep can I have? If only I had the patience to endure
this pain, mother; sleep's quite another matter. A sinner doesn't
deserve to be given rest. What's that noise, pilgrim-woman?
NAZAROVNA. God is sending a storm. The wind is wailing, and the
rain is pouring down, pouring down. All down the roof and into the
windows like dried peas. Do you hear? The windows of heaven are
opened ... [Thunder] Holy, holy, holy ...
FEDYA. And it roars and thunders, and rages, sad there's no end to
it! Hoooo ... it's like the noise of a forest. ... Hoooo. ... The
wind is wailing like a dog. ... [Shrinking back] It's cold! My
clothes are wet, it's all coining in through the open door ... you
might put me through a wringer. ... [Plays softly] My concertina's
damp, and so there's no music for you, my Orthodox brethren, or
else I'd give you such a concert, my word!--Something marvellous!
You can have a quadrille, or a polka, if you like, or some Russian
dance for two. ... I can do them all. In the town, where I was an
attendant at the Grand Hotel, I couldn't make any money, but I did
wonders on my concertina. And, I can play the guitar.
A VOICE FROM THE CORNER. A silly speech from a silly fool.
FEDYA. I can hear another of them. [Pause.]
NAZAROVNA. [To SAVVA] If you'd only lie where it was warm now,
old man, and warm your feet. [Pause.] Old man! Man of God! [Shakes
SAVVA] Are you going to die?
FEDYA. You ought to drink a little vodka, grandfather. Drink, and
it'll burn, burn in your stomach, and warm up your heart. Drink,
NAZAROVNA. Don't swank, young man! Perhaps the old man is giving
back his soul to God, or repenting for his sins, and you talk like
that, and play your concertina. ... Put it down! You've no shame!
FEDYA. And what are you sticking to him for? He can't do anything
and you ... with your old women's talk ... He can't say a word in
reply, and you're glad, and happy because he's listening to your
nonsense. ... You go on sleeping, grandfather; never mind her! Let
her talk, don't you take any notice of her. A woman's tongue is
the devil's broom--it will sweep the good man and the clever man
both out of the house. Don't you mind. ... [Waves his hands] But
it's thin you are, brother of mine! Terrible! Like a dead skeleton!
No life in you! Are you really dying?
SAVVA. Why should I die? Save me, O Lord, from dying in vain. ...
I'll suffer a little, and then get up with God's help. ... The
Mother of God won't let me die in a strange land. ... I'll die at
FEDYA. Are you from far off?
SAVVA. From Vologda. The town itself. ... I live there.
FEDYA. And where is this Vologda?
TIHON. The other side of Moscow. ...
FEDYA. Well, well, well. ... You have come a long way, old man! On
SAVVA. On foot, young man. I've been to Tihon of the Don, and I'm
going to the Holy Hills. [Note: On the Donetz, south-east of
Kharkov; a monastery containing a miraculous ikon.] ... From there,
if God wills it, to Odessa. ... They say you can get to Jerusalem
cheap from there, for twenty-ones roubles, they say. ...
FEDYA. And have you been to Moscow?
SAVVA. Rather! Five times. ...
FEDYA. Is it a good town? [Smokes] Well-standing?
Sews. There are many holy places there, young man. ... Where there
are many holy places it's always a good town. ...
BORTSOV. [Goes up to the counter, to TIHON] Once more, please!
For the sake of Christ, give it to me!
FEDYA. The chief thing about a town is that it should be clean. If
it's dusty, it must be watered; if it's dirty, it must be cleaned.
There ought to be big houses ... a theatre ... police ... cabs,
which ... I've lived in a town myself, I understand.
BORTSOV. Just a little glass. I'll pay you for it later.
TIHON. That's enough now.
BORTSOV. I ask you! Do be kind to me!
TIHON. Get away!
BORTSOV. You don't understand me. ... Understand me, you fool, if
there's a drop of brain in your peasant's wooden head, that it
isn't I who am asking you, but my inside, using the words you
understand, that's what's asking! My illness is what's asking!
TIHON. We don't understand anything. ... Get back!
BORTSOV. Because if I don't have a drink at once, just you
understand this, if I don't satisfy my needs, I may commit some
crime. God only knows what I might do! In the time you've kept this
place, you rascal, haven't you seen a lot of drunkards, and haven't
you yet got to understand what they're like? They're diseased! You
can do anything you like to them, but you must give them vodka!
Well, now, I implore you! Please! I humbly ask you! God only knows
TIHON. You can have the vodka if you pay for it.
BORTSOV. Where am I to get the money? I've drunk it all! Down to
the ground! What can I give you? I've only got this coat, but I
can't give you that. I've nothing on underneath. ... Would you like
my cap? [Takes it off and gives it to TIHON]
TIHON. [Looks it over] Hm. ... There are all sorts of caps. ... It
might be a sieve from the holes in it. ...
FEDYA. [Laughs] A gentleman's cap! You've got to take it off in
front of the mam'selles. How do you do, good-bye! How are you?
TIHON. [Returns the cap to BORTSOV] I wouldn't give anything for
it. It's muck.
BORTSOV. If you don't like it, then let me owe you for the drink!
I'll bring in your five copecks on my way back from town. You can
take it and choke yourself with it then! Choke yourself! I hope it
sticks in your throat! [Coughs] I hate you!
TIHON. [Banging the bar-counter with his fist] Why do you keep on
like that? What a man! What are you here for, you swindler?
BORTSOV. I want a drink! It's not I, it's my disease! Understand
TIHON. Don't you make me lose my temper, or you'll soon find
BORTSOV. What am I to do? [Retires from the bar-counter] What am I
to do? [Is thoughtful.]
EFIMOVNA. It's the devil tormenting you. Don't you mind him, sir.
The damned one keeps whispering, "Drink! Drink!" And you answer
him, "I shan't drink! I shan't drink!" He'll go then.
FEDYA. It's drumming in his head. ... His stomach's leading him
on! [Laughs] Your houour's a happy man. Lie down and go to sleep!
What's the use of standing like a scarecrow in the middle of the
inn! This isn't an orchard!
BORTSOV. [Angrily] Shut up! Nobody spoke to you, you donkey.
FEDYA. Go on, go on! We've seen the like of you before! There's a
lot like you tramping the high road! As to being a donkey, you wait
till I've given you a clout on the ear and you'll howl worse than
the wind. Donkey yourself! Fool! [Pause] Scum!
NAZAROVNA. The old man may be saying a prayer, or giving up his
soul to God, and here are these unclean ones wrangling with one
another and saying all sorts of ... Have shame on yourselves!
FEDYA. Here, you cabbage-stalk, you keep quiet, even if you are in
a public-house. Just you behave like everybody else.
BORTSOV. What am I to do? What will become of me? How can I make
him understand? What else can I say to him? [To TIHON] The blood's
boiling in my chest! Uncle Tihon! [Weeps] Uncle Tihon!
SAWA. [Groans] I've got shooting-pains in my leg, like bullets of
fire. ... Little mother, pilgrim.
EFIMOVNA. What is it, little father?
SAVVA. Who's that crying?
EFIMOVNA. The gentleman.
SAVVA. Ask him to shed a tear for me, that I might die in Vologda.
Tearful prayers are heard.
BORTSOV. I'm not praying, grandfather! These aren't tears! Just
juice! My soul is crushed; and the juice is running. [Sits by
SAVVA] Juice! But you wouldn't understand! You, with your darkened
brain, wouldn't understand. You people are all in the dark!
SAVVA. Where will you find those who live in the light?
BORTSOV. They do exist, grandfather. ... They would understand!
SAVVA. Yes, yes, dear friend. ... The saints lived in the light. ...
They understood all our griefs. ... You needn't even tell them. ...
and they'll understand. ... Just by looking at your eyes. ... And
then you'll have such peace, as if you were never in grief at all--
it will all go!
FEDYA. And have you ever seen any saints?
SAVVA. It has happened, young man. ... There are many of all sorts
on this earth. Sinners, and servants of God.
BORTSOV. I don't understand all this. ... [Gets up quickly] What's
the use of talking when you don't understand, and what sort of a
brain have I now? I've only an instinct, a thirst! [Goes quickly to
the counter] Tihon, take my coat! Understand? [Tries to take it
off] My coat ...
TIHON. And what is there under your coat? [Looks under it] Your
naked body? Don't take it off, I shan't have it. ... I'm not going
to burden my soul with a sin.
BORTSOV. Very well, I'll take the sin on myself! Do you agree?
MERIK. [In silence takes of his outer cloak and remains in a
sleeveless jacket. He carries an axe in his belt] A vagrant may
sweat where a bear will freeze. I am hot. [Puts his axe on the
floor and takes off his jacket] You get rid of a pailful of sweat
while you drag one leg out of the mud. And while you are dragging
it out, the other one goes farther in.
EFIMOVNA. Yes, that's true ... is the rain stopping, dear?
MERIK. [Glancing at EFIMOVNA] I don't talk to old women. [A pause.]
BORTSOV. [To TIHON] I'll take the sin on myself. Do you hear me or
TIHON. I don't want to hear you, get away!
MERIK. It's as dark as if the sky was painted with pitch. You can't
see your own nose. And the rain beats into your face like a
snowstorm! [Picks up his clothes and axe.]
FEDYA. It's a good thing for the likes of us thieves. When the
cat's away the mice will play.
MERIK. Who says that?
FEDYA. Look and see ... before you forget.
MERIN. We'll make a note of it. ... [Goes up to TIHON] How do you
do, you with the large face! Don't you remember me.
TIHON. If I'm to remember every one of you drunkards that walks the
high road, I reckon I'd need ten holes in my forehead.
MERIK. Just look at me. ... [A pause.]
TIHON. Oh, yes; I remember. I knew you by your eyes! [Gives him his
hand] Andrey Polikarpov?
MERIK. I used to be Andrey Polikarpov, but now I am Egor Merik.
TIHON. Why's that?
MERIK. I call myself after whatever passport God gives me. I've
been Merik for two months. [Thunder] Rrrr. ... Go on thundering,
I'm not afraid! [Looks round] Any police here?
TIHON. What are you talking about, making mountains out of mole-hills? ...
The people here are all right ... The police are fast asleep in
their feather beds now. ... [Loudly] Orthodox brothers, mind your
pockets and your clothes, or you'll have to regret it. The man's
a rascal! He'll rob you!
MERIK. They can look out for their money, but as to their clothes--
I shan't touch them. I've nowhere to take them.
TIHON. Where's the devil taking you to?
MERIK. To Kuban.
TIHON. My word!
FEDYA. To Kuban? Really? [Sitting up] It's a fine place. You
wouldn't see such a country, brother, if you were to fall asleep
and dream for three years. They say the birds there, and the beasts
are--my God! The grass grows all the year round, the people are
good, and they've so much land they don't know what to do with it!
The authorities, they say ... a soldier was telling me the other
day ... give a hundred dessiatins ahead. There's happiness, God
MERIK. Happiness. ... Happiness goes behind you. ... You don't see
it. It's as near as your elbow is, but you can't bite it. It's all
silly. ... [Looking round at the benches and the people] Like a lot
of prisoners. ... A poor lot.
EFIMOVNA. [To MERIK] What great, angry, eyes! There's an enemy in
you, young man. ... Don't you look at us!
MERIK. Yes, you're a poor lot here.
EFIMOVNA. Turn away! [Nudges SAVVA] Savva, darling, a wicked man is
looking at us. He'll do us harm, dear. [To MERIK] Turn away, I tell
you, you snake!
SAVVA. He won't touch us, mother, he won't touch us. ... God won't
MERIK. All right, Orthodox brothers! [Shrugs his shoulders] Be
quiet! You aren't asleep, you bandy-legged fools! Why don't you
EFIMOVNA. Take your great eyes away! Take away that devil's own
MERIK. Be quiet, you crooked old woman! I didn't come with the
devil's pride, but with kind words, wishing to honour your bitter
lot! You're huddled together like flies because of the cold--I'd
be sorry for you, speak kindly to you, pity your poverty, and here
you go grumbling away! [Goes up to FEDYA] Where are you from?
FEDYA. I live in these parts. I work at the Khamonyevsky brickworks.
MERIK. Get up.
FEDYA. [Raising himself] Well?
MERIK. Get up, right up. I'm going to lie down here.
FEDYA. What's that. ... It isn't your place, is it?
MERIK. Yes, mine. Go and lie on the ground!
FEDYA. You get out of this, you tramp. I'm not afraid of you.
MERIK. You're very quick with your tongue. ... Get up, and don't
talk about it! You'll be sorry for it, you silly.
TIHON. [To FEDYA] Don't contradict him, young man. Never mind.
FEDYA. What right have you? You stick out your fishy eyes and think
I'm afraid! [Picks up his belongings and stretches himself out on
the ground] You devil! [Lies down and covers himself all over.]
MERIK. [Stretching himself out on the bench] I don't expect you've
ever seen a devil or you wouldn't call me one. Devils aren't like
that. [Lies down, putting his axe next to him.] Lie down, little
brother axe ... let me cover you.
TIHON. Where did you get the axe from?
MERIK. Stole it. ... Stole it, and now I've got to fuss over it
like a child with a new toy; I don't like to throw it away, and
I've nowhere to put it. Like a beastly wife. ... Yes. ... [Covering
himself over] Devils aren't like that, brother.
FEDYA. [Uncovering his head] What are they like?
MERIK. Like steam, like air. ... Just blow into the air. [Blows]
They're like that, you can't see them.
A VOICE FROM THE CORNER. You can see them if you sit under a
MERIK. I've tried, but I didn't see any. ... Old women's tales, and
silly old men's, too. ... You won't see a devil or a ghost or a
corpse. ... Our eyes weren't made so that we could see everything. ...
When I was a boy, I used to walk in the woods at night on purpose
to see the demon of the woods. ... I'd shout and shout, and there
might be some spirit, I'd call for the demon of the woods and not
blink my eyes: I'd see all sorts of little things moving about, but
no demon. I used to go and walk about the churchyards at night, I
wanted to see the ghosts--but the women lie. I saw all sorts of
animals, but anything awful--not a sign. Our eyes weren't ...
THE VOICE FROM THE CORNER. Never mind, it does happen that you do
see. ... In our village a man was gutting a wild boar ... he was
separating the tripe when ... something jumped out at him!
SAVVA. [Raising himself] Little children, don't talk about these
unclean things! It's a sin, dears!
MERIK. Aaa ... greybeard! You skeleton! [Laughs] You needn't go to
the churchyard to see ghosts, when they get up from under the floor
to give advice to their relations. ... A sin! ... Don't you teach
people your silly notions! You're an ignorant lot of people living
in darkness. ... [Lights his pipe] My father was peasant and used
to be fond of teaching people. One night he stole a sack of apples
from the village priest, and he brings them along and tells us,
"Look, children, mind you don't eat any apples before Easter, it's
a sin." You're like that. ... You don't know what a devil is, but
you go calling people devils. ... Take this crooked old woman, for
instance. [Points to EFIMOVNA] She sees an enemy in me, but is her
time, for some woman's nonsense or other, she's given her soul to
the devil five times.
EFIMOVNA. Hoo, hoo, hoo. ... Gracious heavens! [Covers her face]
TIHON. What are you frightening them for? A great pleasure! [The
door slams in the wind] Lord Jesus. ... The wind, the wind!
MERIK. [Stretching himself] Eh, to show my strength! [The door
slams again] If I could only measure myself against the wind! Shall
I tear the door down, or suppose I tear up the inn by the roots!
[Gets up and lies down again] How dull!
NAZAROVNA. You'd better pray, you heathen! Why are you so restless?
EFIMOVNA. Don't speak to him, leave him alone! He's looking at us
again. [To MERIK] Don't look at us, evil man! Your eyes are like
the eyes of a devil before cockcrow!
SAVVA. Let him look, pilgrims! You pray, and his eyes won't do you
BORTSOV. No, I can't. It's too much for my strength! [Goes up to
the counter] Listen, Tihon, I ask you for the last time. ... Just
half a glass!
TIHON. [Shakes his head] The money!
BORTSOV. My God, haven't I told you! I've drunk it all! Where am I
to get it? And you won't go broke even if you do let me have a drop
of vodka on tick. A glass of it only costs you two copecks, and it
will save me from suffering! I am suffering! Understand! I'm in
misery, I'm suffering!
TIHON. Go and tell that to someone else, not to me. ... Go and ask
the Orthodox, perhaps they'll give you some for Christ's sake, if
they feel like it, but I'll only give bread for Christ's sake.
BORTSOV. You can rob those wretches yourself, I shan't. ... I won't
do it! I won't! Understand? [Hits the bar-counter with his fist] I
won't. [A pause.] Hm ... just wait. ... [Turns to the pilgrim
women] It's an idea, all the same, Orthodox ones! Spare five
copecks! My inside asks for it. I'm ill!
FEDYA. Oh, you swindler, with your "spare five copecks." Won't you
have some water?
BORTSOV. How I am degrading myself! I don't want it! I don't want
anything! I was joking!
MERIK. You won't get it out of him, sir. ... He's a famous
skinflint. ... Wait, I've got a five-copeck piece somewhere. ...
We'll have a glass between us--half each [Searches in his pockets]
The devil ... it's lost somewhere. ... Thought I heard it tinkling
just now in my pocket. ... No; no, it isn't there, brother, it's
your luck! [A pause.]
BORTSOV. But if I can't drink, I'll commit a crime or I'll kill
myself. ... What shall I do, my God! [Looks through the door] Shall
I go out, then? Out into this darkness, wherever my feet take me. ...
MERIK. Why don't you give him a sermon, you pilgrims? And you,
Tihon, why don't you drive him out? He hasn't paid you for his
night's accommodation. Chuck him out! Eh, the people are cruel
nowadays. There's no gentleness or kindness in them. ... A savage
people! A man is drowning and they shout to him: "Hurry up and
drown, we've got no time to look at you; we've got to go to work."
As to throwing him a rope--there's no worry about that. ... A rope
would cost money.
SAVVA. Don't talk, kind man!
MERIK. Quiet, old wolf! You're a savage race! Herods! Sellers of
your souls! [To TIHON] Come here, take off my boots! Look sharp now!
TIHON. Eh, he's let himself go I [Laughs] Awful, isn't it.
MERIK. Go on, do as you're told! Quick now! [Pause] Do you hear me,
or don't you? Am I talking to you or the wall? [Stands up]
TIHON. Well ... give over.
MERIK. I want you, you fleecer, to take the boots off me, a poor
TIHON. Well, well ... don't get excited. Here have a glass. ...
Have a drink, now!
MERIK. People, what do I want? Do I want him to stand me vodka, or
to take off my boots? Didn't I say it properly? [To TIHON] Didn't
you hear me rightly? I'll wait a moment, perhaps you'll hear me then.
[There is excitement among the pilgrims and tramps, who half-raise
themselves in order to look at TIHON and MERIK. They wait in silence.]
TIHON. The devil brought you here! [Comes out from behind the bar]
What a gentleman! Come on now. [Takes off MERIK'S boots] You child
of Cain ...
MERIK. That's right. Put them side by side. ... Like that ... you
can go now!
TIHON. [Returns to the bar-counter] You're too fond of being
clever. You do it again and I'll turn you out of the inn! Yes! [To
BORTSOV, who is approaching] You, again?
BORTSOV. Look here, suppose I give you something made of gold. ...
I will give it to you.
TIHON. What are you shaking for? Talk sense!
BORTSOV. It may be mean and wicked on my part, but what am I to do?
I'm doing this wicked thing, not reckoning on what's to come. ...
If I was tried for it, they'd let me off. Take it, only on
condition that you return it later, when I come back from town. I
give it to you in front of these witnesses. You will be my
witnesses! [Takes a gold medallion out from the breast of his coat]
Here it is. ... I ought to take the portrait out, but I've nowhere
to put it; I'm wet all over. ... Well, take the portrait, too! Only
mind this ... don't let your fingers touch that face. ... Please ...
I was rude to you, my dear fellow, I was a fool, but forgive me and ...
don't touch it with your fingers. ... Don't look at that face with
your eyes. [Gives TIHON the medallion.]
TIHON. [Examining it] Stolen property. ... All right, then, drink. ...
[Pours out vodka] Confound you.
BORTSOV. Only don't you touch it ... with your fingers. [Drinks
slowly, with feverish pauses.]
TIHON. [Opens the medallion] Hm ... a lady! ... Where did you get
hold of this?
MERIK. Let's have a look. [Goes to the bar] Let's see.
TIHON. [Pushes his hand away] Where are you going to? You look
FEDYA. [Gets up and comes to TIHON] I want to look too!
[Several of the tramps, etc., approach the bar and form a group.
MERIK grips TIHON's hand firmly with both his, looks at the
portrait, in the medallion in silence. A pause.]
MERIK. A pretty she-devil. A real lady. ...
FEDYA. A real lady. ... Look at her cheeks, her eyes. ... Open your
hand, I can't see. Hair coming down to her waist. ... It is
lifelike! She might be going to say something. ... [Pause.]
MERIK. It's destruction for a weak man. A woman like that gets a
hold on one and ... [Waves his hand] you're done for!
[KUSMA'S voice is heard. "Trrr. ... Stop, you brutes!" Enter KUSMA.]
KUSMA. There stands an inn upon my way. Shall I drive or walk past
it, say? You can pass your own father and not notice him, but you
can see an inn in the dark a hundred versts away. Make way, if you
believe in God! Hullo, there! [Planks a five-copeck piece down on
the counter] A glass of real Madeira! Quick!
FEDYA. Oh, you devil!
TIHON. Don't wave your arms about, or you'll hit somebody.
KUSMA. God gave us arms to wave about. Poor sugary things, you're
half-melted. You're frightened of the rain, poor delicate things.
EFIMOVNA. You may well get frightened, good man, if you're caught
on your way in a night like this. Now, thank God, it's all right,
there are many villages and houses where you can shelter from the
weather, but before that there weren't any. Oh, Lord, it was bad!
You walk a hundred versts, and not only isn't there a village; or a
house, but you don't even see a dry stick. So you sleep on the
KUSMA. Have you been long on this earth, old woman?
EFIMOVNA. Over seventy years, little father.
KUSMA. Over seventy years! You'll soon come to crow's years. [Looks
at BORTSOV] And what sort of a raisin is this? [Staring at BORTSOV]
Sir! [BORTSOV recognizes KUSMA and retires in confusion to a corner
of the room, where he sits on a bench] Semyon Sergeyevitch! Is that
you, or isn't it? Eh? What are you doing in this place? It's not
the sort of place for you, is it?
BORTSOV. Be quiet!
MERIK. [To KUSMA] Who is it?
KUSMA. A miserable sufferer. [Paces irritably by the counter]
Eh? In an inn, my goodness! Tattered! Drunk! I'm upset, brothers ...
upset. ... [To MERIK, in an undertone] It's my master ... our
landlord. Semyon Sergeyevitch and Mr. Bortsov. ... Have you ever
seen such a state? What does he look like? Just ... it's the drink
that brought him to this. ... Give me some more! [Drinks] I come
from his village, Bortsovka; you may have heard of it, it's 200
versts from here, in the Ergovsky district. We used to be his
father's serfs. ... What a shame!
MERIK. Was he rich?
MERIK. Did he drink it all?
KUSMA. No, my friend, it was something else. ... He used to be
great and rich and sober. ... [To TIHON] Why you yourself used to
see him riding, as he used to, past this inn, on his way to the
town. Such bold and noble horses! A carriage on springs, of the
best quality! He used to own five troikas, brother. ... Five years
ago, I remember, he cam here driving two horses from Mikishinsky,
and he paid with a five-rouble piece. ... I haven't the time, he
says, to wait for the change. ... There!
MERIK. His brain's gone, I suppose.
KUSMA. His brain's all right. ... It all happened because of his
cowardice! From too much fat. First of all, children, because of a
woman. ... He fell in love with a woman of the town, and it seemed
to him that there wasn't any more beautiful thing in the wide
world. A fool may love as much as a wise man. The girl's people
were all right. ... But she wasn't exactly loose, but just ...
giddy ... always changing her mind! Always winking at one! Always
laughing and laughing. ... No sense at all. The gentry like that,
they think that's nice, but we moujiks would soon chuck her out. ...
Well, he fell in love, and his luck ran out. He began to keep
company with her, one thing led to another ... they used to go out
in a boat all night, and play pianos. ...
BORTSOV. Don't tell them, Kusma! Why should you? What has my life
got to do with them?
KUSMA. Forgive me, your honour, I'm only telling them a little ...
what does it matter, anyway. ... I'm shaking all over. Pour out
some more. [Drinks.]
MERIK. [In a semitone] And did she love him?
KUSMA. [In a semitone which gradually becomes his ordinary voice]
How shouldn't she? He was a man of means. ... Of course you'll fall
in love when the man has a thousand dessiatins and money to burn. ...
He was a solid, dignified, sober gentleman ... always the same,
like this ... give me your hand [Takes MERIK'S hand] "How do you do
and good-bye, do me the favour." Well, I was going one evening past
his garden--and what a garden, brother, versts of it--I was going
along quietly, and I look and see the two of them sitting on a seat
and kissing each other. [Imitates the sound] He kisses her once,
and the snake gives him back two. ... He was holding her white,
little hand, and she was all fiery and kept on getting closer and
closer, too. ... "I love you," she says. And he, like one of the
damned, walks about from one place to another and brags, the
coward, about his happiness. ... Gives one man a rouble, and two to
another. ... Gives me money for a horse. Let off everybody's debts. ...
BORTSOV. Oh, why tell them all about it? These people haven't any
sympathy. ... It hurts!
KUSMA. It's nothing, sir! They asked me! Why shouldn't I tell them?
But if you are angry I won't ... I won't. ... What do I care for
them. ... [Post-bells are heard.]
FEDYA. Don't shout; tell us quietly. ...
KUSMA. I'll tell you quietly. ... He doesn't want me to, but it
can't be helped. ... But there's nothing more to tell. They got
married, that's all. There was nothing else. Pour out another drop
for Kusma the stony! [Drinks] I don't like people getting drunk!
Why the time the wedding took place, when the gentlefolk sat down
to supper afterwards, she went off in a carriage ... [Whispers] To
the town, to her lover, a lawyer. ... Eh? What do you think of her
now? Just at the very moment! She would be let off lightly if she
were killed for it!
MERIK. [Thoughtfully] Well ... what happened then?
KUSMA. He went mad. ... As you see, he started with a fly, as they
say, and now it's grown to a bumble-bee. It was a fly then, and
now--it's a bumble-bee. ... And he still loves her. Look at him, he
loves her! I expect he's walking now to the town to get a glimpse
of her with one eye. ... He'll get a glimpse of her, and go back. ...
[The post has driven up to the in.. The POSTMAN enters and has a
TIHON. The post's late to-day!
[The POSTMAN pays in silence and goes out. The post drives off, the
A VOICE FROM THE CORNER. One could rob the post in weather like
this--easy as spitting.
MERIK. I've been alive thirty-five years and I haven't robbed the
post once. ... [Pause] It's gone now ... too late, too late. ...
KUSMA. Do you want to smell the inside of a prison?
MERIK. People rob and don't go to prison. And if I do go!
[Suddenly] What else?
KUSMA. Do you mean that unfortunate?
MERIK. Who else?
KUSMA. The second reason, brothers, why he was ruined was because
of his brother-in-law, his sister's husband. ... He took it into
his head to stand surety at the bank for 30,000 roubles for his
brother-in-law. The brother-in-law's a thief. ... The swindler
knows which side his bread's buttered and won't budge an inch. ...
So he doesn't pay up. ... So our man had to pay up the whole thirty
thousand. [Sighs] The fool is suffering for his folly. His wife's
got children now by the lawyer and the brother-in-law has bought an
estate near Poltava, and our man goes round inns like a fool, and
complains to the likes of us: "I've lost all faith, brothers! I
can't believe in anybody now!" It's cowardly! Every man has his
grief, a snake that sucks at his heart, and does that mean that he
must drink? Take our village elder, for example. His wife plays
about with the schoolmaster in broad daylight, and spends his money
on drink, .but the elder walks about smiling to himself. He's just
a little thinner ...
TIHON. [Sighs] When God gives a man strength. ...
KUSMA. There's all sorts of strength, that's true. ... Well? How
much does it come to? [Pays] Take your pound of flesh! Good-bye,
children! Good-night and pleasant dreams! It's time I hurried off.
I'm bringing my lady a midwife from the hospital. ... She must be
getting wet with waiting, poor thing. ... [Runs out. A pause.]
TIHON. Oh, you! Unhappy man, come and drink this! [Pours out.]
BORTSOV. [Comes up to the bar hesitatingly and drinks] That means I
now owe you for two glasses.
TIHON. You don't owe me anything? Just drink and drown your sorrows!
FEDYA. Drink mine, too, sir! Oh! [Throws down a five-copeck piece]
If you drink, you die; if you don't drink, you die. It's good not
to drink vodka, but by God you're easier when you've got some!
Vodka takes grief away. ... It is hot!
BORTSOV. Boo! The heat!
MERIK. Dive it here! [Takes the medallion from TIHON and examines
her portrait] Hm. Ran off after the wedding. What a woman!
A VOICE FROM THE CORNER. Pour him out another glass, Tihon. Let him
drink mine, too.
MERIK. [Dashes the medallion to the ground] Curse her! [Goes
quickly to his place and lies down, face to the wall. General
BORTSOV. Here, what's that? [Picks up the medallion] How dare you,
you beast? What right have you? [Tearfully] Do you want me to kill
you? You moujik! You boor!
TIHON. Don't be angry, sir. ... It isn't glass, it isn't
broken. ... Have another drink and go to sleep. [Pours out] Here
I've been listening to you all, and when I ought to have locked up
long ago. [Goes and looks door leading out.]
BORTSOV. [Drinks] How dare he? The fool! [to MERIK] Do you
understand? You're a fool, a donkey!
SAVVA. Children! If you please! Stop that talking! What's the good
of making a noise? Let people go to sleep.
TIHON. Lie down, lie down ... be quiet! [Goes behind the counter
and locks the till] It's time to sleep.
FEDYA. It's time! [Lies down] Pleasant dreams, brothers!
MERIK. [Gets up and spreads his short fur and coat the bench] Come
on, lie down, sir.
TIHON. And where will you sleep.
MERIK. Oh, anywhere. ... The floor will do. ... [Spreads a coat on
the floor] It's all one to me [Puts the axe by him] It would be
torture for him to sleep on the floor. He's used to silk and down. ...
TIHON. [To BORTSOV] Lie down, your honour! You've looked at that
portrait long enough. [Puts out a candle] Throw it away!
BORTSOV. [Swaying about] Where can I lie down?
TIHON. In the tramp's place! Didn't you hear him giving it up to
BORTSOV. [Going up to the vacant place] I'm a bit ... drunk ...
after all that. ... Is this it? ... Do I lie down here? Eh?
TIHON. Yes, yes, lie down, don't be afraid. [Stretches himself out
on the counter.]
BORTSOV. [Lying down] I'm ... drunk. ... Everything's going round. ...
[Opens the medallion] Haven't you a little candle? [Pause] You're a
queer little woman Masha. ... Looking at me out of the frame and
laughing. ... [Laughs] I'm drunk! And should you laugh at a man
because he's drunk? You look out, as Schastlivtsev says, and ...
love the drunkard.
FEDYA. How the wind howls. It's dreary!
BORTSOV. [Laughs] What a woman. ... Why do you keep on going round?
I can't catch you!
MERIK. He's wandering. Looked too long at the portrait. [Laughs]
What a business! Educated people go and invent all sorts of
machines and medicines, but there hasn't yet been a man wise enough
to invent a medicine against the female sex. ... They try to cure
every sort of disease, and it never occurs to them that more people
die of women than of disease. ... Sly, stingy, cruel, brainless. ...
The mother-in-law torments the bride and the bride makes things
square by swindling the husband ... and there's no end to it. ...
TIHON. The women have ruffled his hair for him, and so he's
MERIK. It isn't only I. ... From the beginning of the ages, since
the world has been in existence, people have complained. ... It's
not for nothing that in the songs and stories, the devil and the
woman are put side by side. ... Not for nothing! It's half true, at
any rate ... [Pause] Here's the gentleman playing the fool, but I
had more sense, didn't I, when I left my father and mother, and
became a tramp?
FEDYA. Because of women?
MERIK. Just like the gentleman ... I walked about like one of the
damned, bewitched, blessing my stars ... on fire day and night,
until at last my eyes were opened ... It wasn't love, but just a
FEDYA. What did you do to her?
MERIK. Never you mind. ... [Pause] Do you think I killed her? ...
I wouldn't do it. ... If you kill, you are sorry for it. ... She
can live and be happy! If only I'd never set eyes on you, or if I
could only forget you, you viper's brood! [A knocking at the door.]
TIHON. Whom have the devils brought. ... Who's there? [Knocking]
Who knocks? [Gets up and goes to the door] Who knocks? Go away,
we've locked up!
A VOICE. Please let me in, Tihon. The carriage-spring's broken! Be
a father to me and help me! If I only had a little string to tie it
round with, we'd get there somehow or other.
TIHON. Who are you?
THE VOICE. My lady is going to Varsonofyev from the town. ... It's
only five versts farther on . ... Do be a good man and help!
TIHON. Go and tell the lady that if she pays ten roubles she can
have her string and we'll mend the spring.
THE VOICE. Have you gone mad, or what? Ten roubles! You mad dog!
Profiting by our misfortunes!
TIHON. Just as you like. ... You needn't if you don't want to.
THE VOICE. Very well, wait a bit. [Pause] She says, all right.
TIHON. Pleased to hear it!
[Opens door. The COACHMAN enters.]
COACHMAN. Good evening, Orthodox people! Well, give me the string!
Quick! Who'll go and help us, children? There'll be something left
over for your trouble!
TIHON. There won't be anything left over. ... Let them sleep, the
two of us can manage.
COACHMAN. Foo, I am tired! It's cold, and there's not a dry spot in
all the mud. ... Another thing, dear. ... Have you got a little
room in here for the lady to warm herself in? The carriage is all
on one side, she can't stay in it. ...
TIHON. What does she want a room for? She can warm herself in here,
if she's cold. ... We'll find a place [Clears a space next to
BORTSOV] Get up, get up! Just lie on the floor for an hour, and let
the lady get warm. [To BORTSOV] Get up, your honour! Sit up!
[BORTSOV sits up] Here's a place for you. [Exit COACHMAN.]
FEDYA. Here's a visitor for you, the devil's brought her! Now
there'll be no sleep before daylight.
TIHON. I'm sorry I didn't ask for fifteen. ... She'd have given
them. ... [Stands expectantly before the door] You're a delicate
sort of people, I must say. [Enter MARIA EGOROVNA, followed by the
COACHMAN. TIHON bows.] Please, your highness! Our room is very
humble, full of blackbeetles! But don't disdain it!
MARIA EGOROVNA. I can't see anything. ... Which way do I go?
TIHON. This way, your highness! [Leads her to the place next to
BORTSOV] This way, please. [Blows on the place] I haven't any
separate rooms, excuse me, but don't you be afraid, madam, the
people here are good and quiet. ...
MARIA EGOROVNA. [Sits next to BORTSOV] How awfully stuffy! Open the
door, at any rate!
TIHON. Yes, madam. [Runs and opens the door wide.]
MARIA. We're freezing, and you open the door! [Gets up and slams
it] Who are you to be giving orders? [Lies down]
TIHON. Excuse me, your highness, but we've a little fool here ... a
bit cracked. ... But don't you be frightened, he won't do you any
harm. ... Only you must excuse me, madam, I can't do this for ten
roubles. ... Make it fifteen.
MARIA EGOROVNA. Very well, only be quick.
TIHON. This minute ... this very instant. [Drags some string out
from under the counter] This minute. [A pause.]
BORTSOV. [Looking at MARIA EGOROVNA] Marie ... Masha ...
MARIA EGOROVNA. [Looks at BORTSOV] What's this?
BORTSOV. Marie ... is it you? Where do you come from? [MARIA
EGOROVNA recognizes BORTSOV, screams and runs off into the centre
of the floor. BORTSOV follows] Marie, it is I ... I [Laughs loudly]
My wife! Marie! Where am I? People, a light!
MARIA EGOROVNA. Get away from me! You lie, it isn't you! It can't
be! [Covers her face with her hands] It's a lie, it's all nonsense!
BORTSOV. Her voice, her movements. ... Marie, it is I! I'll stop in
a moment. ... I was drunk. ... My head's going round. ... My God!
Stop, stop. ... I can't understand anything. [Yells] My wife!
[Falls at her feet and sobs. A group collects around the husband
MARIA EGOROVNA. Stand back! [To the COACHMAN] Denis, let's go! I
can't stop here any longer!
MERIK. [Jumps up and looks her steadily in the face] The portrait!
[Grasps her hand] It is she! Eh, people, she's the gentleman's
MARIA EGOROVNA. Get away, fellow! [Tries to tear her hand away from
him] Denis, why do you stand there staring? [DENIS and TIHON run up
to her and get hold of MERIK'S arms] This thieves' kitchen! Let go
my hand! I'm not afraid! ... Get away from me!
MERIK. [Note: Throughout this speech, in the original, Merik uses
the familiar second person singular.] Wait a bit, and I'll let go. ...
Just let me say one word to you. ... One word, so that you may
understand. ... Just wait. ... [Turns to TIHON and DENIS] Get away,
you rogues, let go! I shan't let you go till I've had my say! Stop ...
one moment. [Strikes his forehead with his fist] No, God hasn't
given me the wisdom! I can't think of the word for you!
MARIA EGOROVNA. [Tears away her hand] Get away! Drunkards ... let's
[She tries to go out, but MERIK blocks the door.]
MERIK. Just throw a glance at him, with only one eye if you like!
Or say only just one kind little word to him! God's own sake!
MARIA EGOROVNA. Take away this ... fool.
MERIK. Then the devil take you, you accursed woman!
[He swings his axe. General confusion. Everybody jumps up noisily
and with cries of horror. SAVVA stands between MERIK and MARIA
EGOROVNA. ... DENIS forces MERIK to one side and carries out his
mistress. After this all stand as if turned to stone. A prolonged
pause. BORTSOV suddenly waves his hands in the air.]
BORTSOV. Marie ... where are you, Marie!
NAZAROVNA. My God, my God! You've torn up my your murderers! What
an accursed night!
MERIK. [Lowering his hand; he still holds the axe] Did I kill her
TIHON. Thank God, your head is safe. ...
MERIK. Then I didn't kill her. ... [Totters to his bed] Fate hasn't
sent me to my death because of a stolen axe. ... [Falls down and
sobs] Woe! Woe is me! Have pity on me, Orthodox people!
STEPAN STEPANOVITCH CHUBUKOV, a landowner
NATALYA STEPANOVNA, his daughter, twenty-five years old
IVAN VASSILEVITCH LOMOV, a neighbour of Chubukov, a large and
hearty, but very suspicious landowner
The scene is laid at CHUBUKOV's country-house
A drawing-room in CHUBUKOV'S house.
[LOMOV enters, wearing a dress-jacket and white gloves. CHUBUKOV
rises to meet him.]
CHUBUKOV. My dear fellow, whom do I see! Ivan Vassilevitch! I am
extremely glad! [Squeezes his hand] Now this is a surprise, my
darling ... How are you?
LOMOV. Thank you. And how may you be getting on?
CHUBUKOV. We just get along somehow, my angel, to your prayers, and
so on. Sit down, please do. ... Now, you know, you shouldn't forget
all about your neighbours, my darling. My dear fellow, why are you
so formal in your get-up? Evening dress, gloves, and so on. Can you
be going anywhere, my treasure?
LOMOV. No, I've come only to see you, honoured Stepan Stepanovitch.
CHUBUKOV. Then why are you in evening dress, my precious? As if
you're paying a New Year's Eve visit!
LOMOV. Well, you see, it's like this. [Takes his arm] I've come to
you, honoured Stepan Stepanovitch, to trouble you with a request.
Not once or twice have I already had the privilege of applying to
you for help, and you have always, so to speak ... I must ask your
pardon, I am getting excited. I shall drink some water, honoured
Stepan Stepanovitch. [Drinks.]
CHUBUKOV. [Aside] He's come to borrow money! Shan't give him any!
[Aloud] What is it, my beauty?
LOMOV. You see, Honour Stepanitch ... I beg pardon, Stepan
Honouritch ... I mean, I'm awfully excited, as you will please
notice. ... In short, you alone can help me, though I don't deserve
it, of course ... and haven't any right to count on your
CHUBUKOV. Oh, don't go round and round it, darling! Spit it out!
LOMOV. One moment ... this very minute. The fact is, I've come to
ask the hand of your daughter, Natalya Stepanovna, in marriage.
CHUBUKOV. [Joyfully] By Jove! Ivan Vassilevitch! Say it again--I
didn't hear it all!
LOMOV. I have the honour to ask ...
CHUBUKOV. [Interrupting] My dear fellow ... I'm so glad, and so on. ...
Yes, indeed, and all that sort of thing. [Embraces and kisses
LOMOV] I've been hoping for it for a long time. It's been my
continual desire. [Sheds a tear] And I've always loved you, my
angel, as if you were my own son. May God give you both His help
and His love and so on, and I did so much hope ... What am I
behaving in this idiotic way for? I'm off my balance with joy,
absolutely off my balance! Oh, with all my soul ... I'll go and
call Natasha, and all that.
LOMOV. [Greatly moved] Honoured Stepan Stepanovitch, do you think I
may count on her consent?
CHUBUKOV. Why, of course, my darling, and ... as if she won't
consent! She's in love; egad, she's like a love-sick cat, and so
on. ... Shan't be long! [Exit.]
LOMOV. It's cold ... I'm trembling all over, just as if I'd got an
examination before me. The great thing is, I must have my mind made
up. If I give myself time to think, to hesitate, to talk a lot, to
look for an ideal, or for real love, then I'll never get married. ...
Brr! ... It's cold! Natalya Stepanovna is an excellent housekeeper,
not bad-looking, well-educated. ... What more do I want? But I'm
getting a noise in my ears from excitement. [Drinks] And it's
impossible for me not to marry. ... In the first place, I'm already
35--a critical age, so to speak. In the second place, I ought to
lead a quiet and regular life. ... I suffer from palpitations, I'm
excitable and always getting awfully upset. ... At this very moment
my lips are trembling, and there's a twitch in my right eyebrow. ...
But the very worst of all is the way I sleep. I no sooner get into
bed and begin to go off when suddenly something in my left side--
gives a pull, and I can feel it in my shoulder and head. ... I jump
up like a lunatic, walk about a bit, and lie down again, but as
soon as I begin to get off to sleep there's another pull! And this
may happen twenty times. ...
[NATALYA STEPANOVNA comes in.]
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Well, there! It's you, and papa said, "Go;
there's a merchant come for his goods." How do you do, Ivan
LOMOV. How do you do, honoured Natalya Stepanovna?
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. You must excuse my apron and nelige ... we're
shelling peas for drying. Why haven't you been here for such a long
time? Sit down. [They seat themselves] Won't you have some lunch?
LOMOV. No, thank you, I've had some already.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Then smoke. ... Here are the matches. ... The
weather is splendid now, but yesterday it was so wet that the
workmen didn't do anything all day. How much hay have you stacked?
Just think, I felt greedy and had a whole field cut, and now I'm
not at all pleased about it because I'm afraid my hay may rot. I
ought to have waited a bit. But what's this? Why, you're in evening
dress! Well, I never! Are you going to a ball, or what?--though I
must say you look better. Tell me, why are you got up like that?
LOMOV. [Excited] You see, honoured Natalya Stepanovna ... the fact
is, I've made up my mind to ask you to hear me out. ... Of course
you'll be surprised and perhaps even angry, but a ... [Aside] It's
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What's the matter? [Pause] Well?
LOMOV. I shall try to be brief. You must know, honoured Natalya
Stepanovna, that I have long, since my childhood, in fact, had the
privilege of knowing your family. My late aunt and her husband,
from whom, as you know, I inherited my land, always had the
greatest respect for your father and your late mother. The Lomovs
and the Chubukovs have always had the most friendly, and I might
almost say the most affectionate, regard for each other. And, as
you know, my land is a near neighbour of yours. You will remember
that my Oxen Meadows touch your birchwoods.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Excuse my interrupting you. You say, "my Oxen
Meadows. ..." But are they yours?
LOMOV. Yes, mine.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What are you talking about? Oxen Meadows are
ours, not yours!
LOMOV. No, mine, honoured Natalya Stepanovna.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Well, I never knew that before. How do you make
LOMOV. How? I'm speaking of those Oxen Meadows which are wedged in
between your birchwoods and the Burnt Marsh.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Yes, yes. ... They're ours.
LOMOV. No, you're mistaken, honoured Natalya Stepanovna, they're
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Just think, Ivan Vassilevitch! How long have
they been yours?
LOMOV. How long? As long as I can remember.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Really, you won't get me to believe that!
LOMOV. But you can see from the documents, honoured Natalya
Stepanovna. Oxen Meadows, it's true, were once the subject of
dispute, but now everybody knows that they are mine. There's
nothing to argue about. You see, my aunt's grandmother gave the
free use of these Meadows in perpetuity to the peasants of your
father's grandfather, in return for which they were to make bricks
for her. The peasants belonging to your father's grandfather had
the free use of the Meadows for forty years, and had got into the
habit of regarding them as their own, when it happened that ...
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. No, it isn't at all like that! Both my
grandfather and great-grandfather reckoned that their land extended
to Burnt Marsh--which means that Oxen Meadows were ours. I don't
see what there is to argue about. It's simply silly!
LOMOV. I'll show you the documents, Natalya Stepanovna!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. No, you're simply joking, or making fun of me. ...
What a surprise! We've had the land for nearly three hundred years,
and then we're suddenly told that it isn't ours! Ivan Vassilevitch,
I can hardly believe my own ears. ... These Meadows aren't worth much
to me. They only come to five dessiatins [Note: 13.5 acres], and are
worth perhaps 300 roubles [Note: L30.], but I can't stand unfairness.
Say what you will, but I can't stand unfairness.
LOMOV. Hear me out, I implore you! The peasants of your father's
grandfather, as I have already had the honour of explaining to you,
used to bake bricks for my aunt's grandmother. Now my aunt's
grandmother, wishing to make them a pleasant ...
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I can't make head or tail of all this about
aunts and grandfathers and grandmothers! The Meadows are ours, and
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Ours! You can go on proving it for two days on
end, you can go and put on fifteen dress-jackets, but I tell you
they're ours, ours, ours! I don't want anything of yours and I
don't want to give up anything of mine. So there!
LOMOV. Natalya Ivanovna, I don't want the Meadows, but I am acting
on principle. If you like, I'll make you a present of them.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I can make you a present of them myself,
because they're mine! Your behaviour, Ivan Vassilevitch, is
strange, to say the least! Up to this we have always thought of you
as a good neighbour, a friend: last year we lent you our
threshing-machine, although on that account we had to put off our
own threshing till November, but you behave to us as if we were
gipsies. Giving me my own land, indeed! No, really, that's not at
all neighbourly! In my opinion, it's even impudent, if you want to
LOMOV. Then you make out that I'm a land-grabber? Madam, never in
my life have I grabbed anybody else's land, and I shan't allow
anybody to accuse me of having done so. ... [Quickly steps to the
carafe and drinks more water] Oxen Meadows are mine!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. It's not true, they're ours!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. It's not true! I'll prove it! I'll send my
mowers out to the Meadows this very day!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. My mowers will be there this very day!
LOMOV. I'll give it to them in the neck!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. You dare!
LOMOV. [Clutches at his heart] Oxen Meadows are mine! You
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Please don't shout! You can shout yourself
hoarse in your own house, but here I must ask you to restrain
LOMOV. If it wasn't, madam, for this awful, excruciating
palpitation, if my whole inside wasn't upset, I'd talk to you in a
different way! [Yells] Oxen Meadows are mine!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Ours!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Ours!
CHUBUKOV. What's the matter? What are you shouting at?
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Papa, please tell to this gentleman who owns
Oxen Meadows, we or he?
CHUBUKOV. [To LOMOV] Darling, the Meadows are ours!
LOMOV. But, please, Stepan Stepanitch, how can they be yours? Do be
a reasonable man! My aunt's grandmother gave the Meadows for the
temporary and free use of your grandfather's peasants. The peasants
used the land for forty years and got as accustomed to it as if it
was their own, when it happened that ...
CHUBUKOV. Excuse me, my precious. ... You forget just this, that
the peasants didn't pay your grandmother and all that, because the
Meadows were in dispute, and so on. And now everybody knows that
they're ours. It means that you haven't seen the plan.
LOMOV. I'll prove to you that they're mine!
CHUBUKOV. You won't prove it, my darling.
LOMOV. I shall!
CHUBUKOV. Dear one, why yell like that? You won't prove anything
just by yelling. I don't want anything of yours, and don't intend
to give up what I have. Why should I? And you know, my beloved,
that if you propose to go on arguing about it, I'd much sooner give
up the meadows to the peasants than to you. There!
LOMOV. I don't understand! How have you the right to give away
somebody else's property?
CHUBUKOV. You may take it that I know whether I have the right or
not. Because, young man, I'm not used to being spoken to in that
tone of voice, and so on: I, young man, am twice your age, and ask
you to speak to me without agitating yourself, and all that.
LOMOV. No, you just think I'm a fool and want to have me on! You
call my land yours, and then you want me to talk to you calmly and
politely! Good neighbours don't behave like that, Stepan
Stepanitch! You're not a neighbour, you're a grabber!
CHUBUKOV. What's that? What did you say?
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Papa, send the mowers out to the Meadows at
CHUBUKOV. What did you say, sir?
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Oxen Meadows are ours, and I shan't give them
up, shan't give them up, shan't give them up!
LOMOV. We'll see! I'll have the matter taken to court, and then
I'll show you!
CHUBUKOV. To court? You can take it to court, and all that! You
can! I know you; you're just on the look-out for a chance to go to
court, and all that. ... You pettifogger! All your people were like
that! All of them!
LOMOV. Never mind about my people! The Lomovs have all been honourable
people, and not one has ever been tried for embezzlement, like
CHUBUKOV. You Lomovs have had lunacy in your family, all of you!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. All, all, all!
CHUBUKOV. Your grandfather was a drunkard, and your younger aunt,
Nastasya Mihailovna, ran away with an architect, and so on.
LOMOV. And your mother was hump-backed. [Clutches at his heart]
Something pulling in my side. ... My head. ... Help! Water!
CHUBUKOV. Your father was a guzzling gambler!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. And there haven't been many backbiters to equal
LOMOV. My left foot has gone to sleep. ... You're an intriguer. ...
Oh, my heart! ... And it's an open secret that before the last
elections you bri ... I can see stars. ... Where's my hat?
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. It's low! It's dishonest! It's mean!
CHUBUKOV. And you're just a malicious, double-faced intriguer! Yes!
LOMOV. Here's my hat. ... My heart! ... Which way? Where's the
door? Oh! ... I think I'm dying. ... My foot's quite numb. ...
[Goes to the door.]
CHUBUKOV. [Following him] And don't set foot in my house again!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Take it to court! We'll see!
[LOMOV staggers out.]
CHUBUKOV. Devil take him! [Walks about in excitement.]
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What a rascal! What trust can one have in one's
neighbours after that!
CHUBUKOV. The villain! The scarecrow!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. The monster! First he takes our land and then
he has the impudence to abuse us.
CHUBUKOV. And that blind hen, yes, that turnip-ghost has the
confounded cheek to make a proposal, and so on! What? A proposal!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What proposal?
CHUBUKOV. Why, he came here so as to propose to you.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. To propose? To me? Why didn't you tell me so
CHUBUKOV. So he dresses up in evening clothes. The stuffed sausage!
The wizen-faced frump!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. To propose to me? Ah! [Falls into an easy-chair
and wails] Bring him back! Back! Ah! Bring him here.
CHUBUKOV. Bring whom here?
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Quick, quick! I'm ill! Fetch him! [Hysterics.]
CHUBUKOV. What's that? What's the matter with you? [Clutches at his
head] Oh, unhappy man that I am! I'll shoot myself! I'll hang
myself! We've done for her!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I'm dying! Fetch him!
CHUBUKOV. Tfoo! At once. Don't yell!
[Runs out. A pause. NATALYA STEPANOVNA wails.]
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What have they done to me! Fetch him back!
Fetch him! [A pause.]
[CHUBUKOV runs in.]
CHUBUKOV. He's coming, and so on, devil take him! Ouf! Talk to him
yourself; I don't want to. ...
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. [Wails] Fetch him!
CHUBUKOV. [Yells] He's coming, I tell you. Oh, what a burden, Lord,
to be the father of a grown-up daughter! I'll cut my throat! I
will, indeed! We cursed him, abused him, drove him out, and it's
all you ... you!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. No, it was you!
CHUBUKOV. I tell you it's not my fault. [LOMOV appears at the door]
Now you talk to him yourself [Exit.]
[LOMOV enters, exhausted.]
LOMOV. My heart's palpitating awfully. ... My foot's gone to sleep. ...
There's something keeps pulling in my side.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Forgive us, Ivan Vassilevitch, we were all a
little heated. ... I remember now: Oxen Meadows really are yours.
LOMOV. My heart's beating awfully. ... My Meadows. ... My eyebrows
are both twitching. ...
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. The Meadows are yours, yes, yours. ... Do sit
down. ... [They sit] We were wrong. ...
LOMOV. I did it on principle. ... My land is worth little to me,
but the principle ...
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Yes, the principle, just so. ... Now let's talk
of something else.
LOMOV. The more so as I have evidence. My aunt's grandmother gave
the land to your father's grandfather's peasants ...
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Yes, yes, let that pass. ... [Aside] I wish I
knew how to get him started. ... [Aloud] Are you going to start
LOMOV. I'm thinking of having a go at the blackcock, honoured
Natalya Stepanovna, after the harvest. Oh, have you heard? Just
think, what a misfortune I've had! My dog Guess, whom you know, has
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What a pity! Why?
LOMOV. I don't know. ... Must have got twisted, or bitten by some
other dog. ... [Sighs] My very best dog, to say nothing of the
expense. I gave Mironov 125 roubles for him.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. It was too much, Ivan Vassilevitch.
LOMOV. I think it was very cheap. He's a first-rate dog.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Papa gave 85 roubles for his Squeezer, and
Squeezer is heaps better than Guess!
LOMOV. Squeezer better than. Guess? What an idea! [Laughs] Squeezer
better than Guess!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Of course he's better! Of course, Squeezer is
young, he may develop a bit, but on points and pedigree he's better
than anything that even Volchanetsky has got.
LOMOV. Excuse me, Natalya Stepanovna, but you forget that he is
overshot, and an overshot always means the dog is a bad hunter!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Overshot, is he? The first time I hear it!
LOMOV. I assure you that his lower jaw is shorter than the upper.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Have you measured?
LOMOV. Yes. He's all right at following, of course, but if you want
him to get hold of anything ...
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. In the first place, our Squeezer is a
thoroughbred animal, the son of Harness and Chisels, while there's
no getting at the pedigree of your dog at all. ... He's old and as
ugly as a worn-out cab-horse.
LOMOV. He is old, but I wouldn't take five Squeezers for him. ...
Why, how can you? ... Guess is a dog; as for Squeezer, well, it's
too funny to argue. ... Anybody you like has a dog as good as
Squeezer ... you may find them under every bush almost. Twenty-five
roubles would be a handsome price to pay for him.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. There's some demon of contradiction in you
to-day, Ivan Vassilevitch. First you pretend that the Meadows are
yours; now, that Guess is better than Squeezer. I don't like people
who don't say what they mean, because you know perfectly well that
Squeezer is a hundred times better than your silly Guess. Why do
you want to say it isn't?
LOMOV. I see, Natalya Stepanovna, that you consider me either blind
or a fool. You must realize that Squeezer is overshot!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. It's not true.
LOMOV. He is!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. It's not true!
LOMOV. Why shout, madam?
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Why talk rot? It's awful! It's time your Guess
was shot, and you compare him with Squeezer!
LOMOV. Excuse me; I cannot continue this discussion: my heart is
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I've noticed that those hunters argue most who
LOMOV. Madam, please be silent. ... My heart is going to pieces. ...
[Shouts] Shut up!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I shan't shut up until you acknowledge that
Squeezer is a hundred times better than your Guess!
LOMOV. A hundred times worse! Be hanged to your Squeezer! His
head ... eyes ... shoulder ...
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. There's no need to hang your silly Guess; he's
LOMOV. [Weeps] Shut up! My heart's bursting!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I shan't shut up.
CHUBUKOV. What's the matter now?
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Papa, tell us truly, which is the better dog,
our Squeezer or his Guess.
LOMOV. Stepan Stepanovitch, I implore you to tell me just one
thing: is your Squeezer overshot or not? Yes or no?
CHUBUKOV. And suppose he is? What does it matter? He's the best dog
in the district for all that, and so on.
LOMOV. But isn't my Guess better? Really, now?
CHUBUKOV. Don't excite yourself, my precious one. ... Allow me. ...
Your Guess certainly has his good points. ... He's pure-bred, firm
on his feet, has well-sprung ribs, and all that. But, my dear man,
if you want to know the truth, that dog has two defects: he's old
and he's short in the muzzle.
LOMOV. Excuse me, my heart. ... Let's take the facts. ... You will
remember that on the Marusinsky hunt my Guess ran neck-and-neck
with the Count's dog, while your Squeezer was left a whole verst
CHUBUKOV. He got left behind because the Count's whipper-in hit him
with his whip.
LOMOV. And with good reason. The dogs are running after a fox, when
Squeezer goes and starts worrying a sheep!
CHUBUKOV. It's not true! ... My dear fellow, I'm very liable to
lose my temper, and so, just because of that, let's stop arguing.
You started because everybody is always jealous of everybody else's
dogs. Yes, we're all like that! You too, sir, aren't blameless! You
no sooner notice that some dog is better than your Guess than you
begin with this, that ... and the other ... and all that. ... I
LOMOV. I remember too!
CHUBUKOV. [Teasing him] I remember, too. ... What do you remember?
LOMOV. My heart ... my foot's gone to sleep. ... I can't ...
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. [Teasing] My heart. ... What sort of a hunter
are you? You ought to go and lie on the kitchen oven and catch
blackbeetles, not go after foxes! My heart!
CHUBUKOV. Yes really, what sort of a hunter are you, anyway? You
ought to sit at home with your palpitations, and not go tracking
animals. You could go hunting, but you only go to argue with people
and interfere with their dogs and so on. Let's change the subject
in case I lose my temper. You're not a hunter at all, anyway!
LOMOV. And are you a hunter? You only go hunting to get in with the
Count and to intrigue. ... Oh, my heart! ... You're an intriguer!
CHUBUKOV. What? I an intriguer? [Shouts] Shut up!
CHUBUKOV. Boy! Pup!
LOMOV. Old rat! Jesuit!
CHUBUKOV. Shut up or I'll shoot you like a partridge! You fool!
LOMOV. Everybody knows that--oh my heart!--your late wife used to
beat you. ... My feet ... temples ... sparks. ... I fall, I fall!
CHUBUKOV. And you're under the slipper of your housekeeper!
LOMOV. There, there, there ... my heart's burst! My shoulder's come
off. ... Where is my shoulder? I die. [Falls into an armchair] A
CHUBUKOV. Boy! Milksop! Fool! I'm sick! [Drinks water] Sick!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What sort of a hunter are you? You can't even sit
on a horse! [To her father] Papa, what's the matter with him? Papa!
Look, papa! [Screams] Ivan Vassilevitch! He's dead!
CHUBUKOV. I'm sick! ... I can't breathe! ... Air!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. He's dead. [Pulls LOMOV'S sleeve] Ivan Vassilevitch!
Ivan Vassilevitch! What have you done to me? He's dead. [Falls into
an armchair] A doctor, a doctor! [Hysterics.]
CHUBUKOV. Oh! ... What is it? What's the matter?
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. [Wails] He's dead ... dead!
CHUBUKOV. Who's dead? [Looks at LOMOV] So he is! My word! Water! A
doctor! [Lifts a tumbler to LOMOV'S mouth] Drink this! ... No, he
doesn't drink. ... It means he's dead, and all that. ... I'm the most
unhappy of men! Why don't I put a bullet into my brain? Why haven't I
cut my throat yet? What am I waiting for? Give me a knife! Give me a
pistol! [LOMOV moves] He seems to be coming round. ... Drink some water!
That's right. ...
LOMOV. I see stars ... mist. ... Where am I?
CHUBUKOV. Hurry up and get married and--well, to the devil with you!
She's willing! [He puts LOMOV'S hand into his daughter's] She's willing
and all that. I give you my blessing and so on. Only leave me in peace!
LOMOV. [Getting up] Eh? What? To whom?
CHUBUKOV. She's willing! Well? Kiss and be damned to you!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. [Wails] He's alive. . . Yes, yes, I'm willing. ...
CHUBUKOV. Kiss each other!
LOMOV. Eh? Kiss whom? [They kiss] Very nice, too. Excuse me, what's
it all about? Oh, now I understand ... my heart ... stars ... I'm happy.
Natalya Stepanovna. ... [Kisses her hand] My foot's gone to sleep. ...
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I ... I'm happy too. ...
CHUBUKOV. What a weight off my shoulders. ... Ouf!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. But ... still you will admit now that Guess is
worse than Squeezer.
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Worse!
CHUBUKOV. Well, that's a way to start your family bliss! Have some
LOMOV. He's better!
NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Worse! worse! worse!
CHUBUKOV. [Trying to shout her down] Champagne! Champagne!
EVDOKIM ZAHAROVITCH ZHIGALOV, a retired Civil Servant.
NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA, his wife
DASHENKA, their daughter
EPAMINOND MAXIMOVITCH APLOMBOV, Dashenka's bridegroom
FYODOR YAKOVLEVITCH REVUNOV-KARAULOV, a retired captain
ANDREY ANDREYEVITCH NUNIN, an insurance agent
ANNA MARTINOVNA ZMEYUKINA, a midwife, aged 30, in a brilliantly red dress
IVAN MIHAILOVITCH YATS, a telegraphist
HARLAMPI SPIRIDONOVITCH DIMBA, a Greek confectioner
DMITRI STEPANOVITCH MOZGOVOY, a sailor of the Imperial Navy (Volunteer
GROOMSMEN, GENTLEMEN, WAITERS, ETC.
The scene is laid in one of the rooms of Andronov's Restaurant
[A brilliantly illuminated room. A large table, laid for supper.
Waiters in dress-jackets are fussing round the table. An orchestra
behind the scene is playing the music of the last figure of a
[ANNA MARTINOVNA ZMEYUKINA, YATS, and a GROOMSMAN cross the stage.]
ZMEYUKINA. No, no, no!
YATS. [Following her] Have pity on us! Have pity!
ZMEYUKINA. No, no, no!
GROOMSMAN. [Chasing them] You can't go on like this! Where are you
off to? What about the _grand ronde? Grand ronde, s'il vous plait_!
[They all go off.]
[Enter NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA and APLOMBOV.]
NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. You had much better be dancing than upsetting
me with your speeches.
APLOMBOV. I'm not a Spinosa or anybody of that sort, to go making
figures-of-eight with my legs. I am a serious man, and I have a
character, and I see no amusement in empty pleasures. But it isn't
just a matter of dances. You must excuse me, maman, but there is a
good deal in your behaviour which I am unable to understand. For
instance, in addition to objects of domestic importance, you
promised also to give me, with your daughter, two lottery tickets.
Where are they?
NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. My head's aching a little ... I expect it's
on account of the weather. ... If only it thawed!
APLOMBOV. You won't get out of it like that. I only found out to-day
that those tickets are in pawn. You must excuse me, _maman_, but
it's only swindlers who behave like that. I'm not doing this out of
egoisticism [Note: So in the original]--I don't want your tickets--
but on principle; and I don't allow myself to be done by anybody. I
have made your daughter happy, and if you don't give me the tickets
to-day I'll make short work of her. I'm an honourable man!
NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. [Looks round the table and counts up the
covers] One, two, three, four, five ...
A WAITER. The cook asks if you would like the ices served with rum,
madeira, or by themselves?
APLOMBOV. With rum. And tell the manager that there's not enough
wine. Tell him to prepare some more Haut Sauterne. [To NASTASYA
TIMOFEYEVNA] You also promised and agreed that a general was to be
here to supper. And where is he?
NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. That isn't my fault, my dear.
APLOMBOV. Whose fault, then?
NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. It's Andrey Andreyevitch's fault. ...
Yesterday he came to see us and promised to bring a perfectly real
general. [Sighs] I suppose he couldn't find one anywhere, or he'd
have brought him. ... You think we don't mind? We'd begrudge our
child nothing. A general, of course ...
APLOMBOV. But there's more. ... Everybody, including yourself,
_maman_, is aware of the fact that Yats, that telegraphist, was
after Dashenka before I proposed to her. Why did you invite him?
Surely you knew it would be unpleasant for me?
NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. Oh, how can you? Epaminond Maximovitch was
married himself only the other day, and you've already tired me and
Dashenka out with your talk. What will you be like in a year's
time? You are horrid, really horrid.
APLOMBOV. Then you don't like to hear the truth? Aha! Oh, oh! Then
behave honourably. I only want you to do one thing, be honourable!
[Couples dancing the _grand ronde_ come in at one door and out at