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Plays by Anton Chekhov, Second Series by Anton Chekhov

Part 2 out of 5

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the other end. The first couple are DASHENKA with one of the
GROOMSMEN. The last are YATS and ZMEYUKINA. These two remain
behind. ZHIGALOV and DIMBA enter and go up to the table.]

GROOMSMAN. [Shouting] Promenade! Messieurs, promenade! [Behind]

[The dancers have all left the scene.]

YATS. [To ZMEYUKINA] Have pity! Have pity, adorable Anna

ZMEYUKINA. Oh, what a man! ... I've already told you that I've no
voice to-day.

YATS. I implore you to sing! Just one note! Have pity! Just one

ZMEYUKINA. I'm tired of you. ... [Sits and fans herself.]

YATS. No, you're simply heartless! To be so cruel--if I may express
myself--and to have such a beautiful, beautiful voice! With such a
voice, if you will forgive my using the word, you shouldn't be a
midwife, but sing at concerts, at public gatherings! For example,
how divinely you do that _fioritura_ ... that ... [Sings] "I loved
you; love was vain then. ..." Exquisite!

ZMEYUKINA. [Sings] "I loved you, and may love again." Is that it?

YATS. That's it! Beautiful!

ZMEYUKINA. No, I've no voice to-day. ... There, wave this fan for
me ... it's hot! [To APLOMBOV] Epaminond Maximovitch, why are you
so melancholy? A bridegroom shouldn't be! Aren't you ashamed of
yourself, you wretch? Well, what are you so thoughtful about?

APLOMBOV. Marriage is a serious step! Everything must be considered
from all sides, thoroughly.

ZMEYUKINA. What beastly sceptics you all are! I feel quite
suffocated with you all around. ... Give me atmosphere! Do you
hear? Give me atmosphere! [Sings a few notes.]

YATS. Beautiful! Beautiful!

ZMEYUKINA. Fan me, fan me, or I feel I shall have a heart attack in
a minute. Tell me, please, why do I feel so suffocated?

YATS. It's because you're sweating. ...

ZMEYUKINA. Foo, how vulgar you are! Don't dare to use such words!

YATS. Beg pardon! Of course, you're used, if I may say so, to
aristocratic society and. ...

ZMEYUKINA. Oh, leave me alone! Give me poetry, delight! Fan me, fan

ZHIGALOV. [To DIMBA] Let's have another, what? [Pours out] One can
always drink. So long only, Harlampi Spiridonovitch, as one doesn't
forget one's business. Drink and be merry. ... And if you can drink
at somebody else's expense, then why not drink? You can drink. ...
Your health! [They drink] And do you have tigers in Greece?


ZHIGALOV. And lions?

DIMBA. And lions too. In Russia zere's nussing, and in Greece
zere's everysing--my fazer and uncle and brozeres--and here zere's

ZHIGALOV. H'm. ... And are there whales in Greece?

DIMBA. Yes, everysing.

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. [To her husband] What are they all eating and
drinking like that for? It's time for everybody to sit down to
supper. Don't keep on shoving your fork into the lobsters. ...
They're for the general. He may come yet. ...

ZHIGALOV. And are there lobsters in Greece?

DIMBA. Yes ... zere is everysing.

ZHIGALOV. Hm. ... And Civil Servants.

ZMEYUKINA. I can imagine what the atmosphere is like in Greece!

ZHIGALOV. There must be a lot of swindling. The Greeks are just
like the Armenians or gipsies. They sell you a sponge or a goldfish
and all the time they are looking out for a chance of getting
something extra out of you. Let's have another, what?

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. What do you want to go on having another for?
It's time everybody sat down to supper. It's past eleven.

ZHIGALOV. If it's time, then it's time. Ladies and gentlemen,
please! [Shouts] Supper! Young people!

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. Dear visitors, please be seated!

ZMEYUKINA. [Sitting down at the table] Give me poetry.
"And he, the rebel, seeks the storm,
As if the storm can give him peace."
Give me the storm!

YATS. [Aside] Wonderful woman! I'm in love! Up to my ears!

[Enter DASHENKA, MOZGOVOY, GROOMSMEN, various ladies and gentlemen,
etc. They all noisily seat themselves at the table. There is a
minute's pause, while the band plays a march.]

MOZGOVOY. [Rising] Ladies and gentlemen! I must tell you this. ...
We are going to have a great many toasts and speeches. Don't let's
wait, but begin at once. Ladies and gentlemen, the newly married!

[The band plays a flourish. Cheers. Glasses are touched. APLOMBOV
and DASHENKA kiss each other.]

YATS. Beautiful! Beautiful! I must say, ladies and gentlemen,
giving honour where it is due, that this room and the accommodation
generally are splendid! Excellent, wonderful! Only you know,
there's one thing we haven't got--electric light, if I may say so!
Into every country electric light has already been introduced, only
Russia lags behind.

ZHIGALOV. [Meditatively] Electricity ... h'm. ... In my opinion
electric lighting is just a swindle. ... They put a live coal in
and think you don't see them! No, if you want a light, then you
don't take a coal, but something real, something special, that you
can get hold of! You must have a fire, you understand, which is
natural, not just an invention!

YATS. If you'd ever seen an electric battery, and how it's made up,
you'd think differently.

ZHIGALOV. Don't want to see one. It's a swindle, a fraud on the
public. ... They want to squeeze our last breath out of us. ... We
know then, these ... And, young man, instead of defending a
swindle, you would be much better occupied if you had another
yourself and poured out some for other people--yes!

APLOMBOV. I entirely agree with you, papa. Why start a learned
discussion? I myself have no objection to talking about every
possible scientific discovery, but this isn't the time for all that!
[To DASHENKA] What do you think, _ma chere_?

DASHENKA. They want to show how educated they are, and so they
always talk about things we can't understand.

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. Thank God, we've lived our time without being
educated, and here we are marrying off our third daughter to an
honest man. And if you think we're uneducated, then what do you
want to come here for? Go to your educated friends!

YATS. I, Nastasya Timofeyevna, have always held your family in
respect, and if I did start talking about electric lighting it
doesn't mean that I'm proud. I'll drink, to show you. I have always
sincerely wished Daria Evdokimovna a good husband. In these days,
Nastasya Timofeyevna, it is difficult to find a good husband.
Nowadays everybody is on the look-out for a marriage where there is
profit, money. ...

APLOMBOV. That's a hint!

YATS. [His courage failing] I wasn't hinting at anything. ...
Present company is always excepted. ... I was only in general. ...
Please! Everybody knows that you're marrying for love ... the dowry
is quite trifling.

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. No, it isn't trifling! You be careful what
you say. Besides a thousand roubles of good money, we're giving
three dresses, the bed, and all the furniture. You won't find
another dowry like that in a hurry!

YATS. I didn't mean ... The furniture's splendid, of course, and ...
and the dresses, but I never hinted at what they are getting
offended at.

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. Don't you go making hints. We respect you on
account of your parents, and we've invited you to the wedding, and
here you go talking. If you knew that Epaminond Maximovitch was
marrying for profit, why didn't you say so before? [Tearfully] I
brought her up, I fed her, I nursed her. ... I cared for her more
than if she was an emerald jewel, my little girl. ...

APLOMBOV. And you go and believe him? Thank you so much! I'm very
grateful to you! [To YATS] And as for you, Mr. Yats, although you
are acquainted with me, I shan't allow you to behave like this in
another's house. Please get out of this!

YATS. What do you mean?

APLOMBOV. I want you to be as straightforward as I am! In short,
please get out! [Band plays a flourish]

THE GENTLEMEN. Leave him alone! Sit down! Is it worth it! Let him
be! Stop it now!

YATS. I never ... I ... I don't understand. ... Please, I'll go. ...
Only you first give me the five roubles which you borrowed from
me last year on the strength of a _pique_ waistcoat, if I may say
so. Then I'll just have another drink and ... go, only give me the
money first.

VARIOUS GENTLEMEN. Sit down! That's enough! Is it worth it, just
for such trifles?

A GROOMSMAN. [Shouts] The health of the bride's parents, Evdokim
Zaharitch and Nastasya Timofeyevna! [Band plays a flourish.

ZHIGALOV. [Bows in all directions, in great emotion] I thank you!
Dear guests! I am very grateful to you for not having forgotten and
for having conferred this honour upon us without being standoffish
And you must not think that I'm a rascal, or that I'm trying to
swindle anybody. I'm speaking from my heart--from the purity of my
soul! I wouldn't deny anything to good people! We thank you very
humbly! [Kisses.]

DASHENKA. [To her mother] Mama, why are you crying? I'm so happy!

APLOMBOV. _Maman_ is disturbed at your coming separation. But I
should advise her rather to remember the last talk we had.

YATS. Don't cry, Nastasya Timofeyevna! Just think what are human
tears, anyway? Just petty psychiatry, and nothing more!

ZMEYUKINA. And are there any red-haired men in Greece?

DIMBA. Yes, everysing is zere.

ZHIGALOV. But you don't have our kinds of mushroom.

DIMBA. Yes, we've got zem and everysing.

MOZGOVOY. Harlampi Spiridonovitch, it's your turn to speak! Ladies
and gentlemen, a speech!

ALL. [To DIMBA] Speech! speech! Your turn!

DIMBA. Why? I don't understand. ... What is it!

ZMEYUKINA. No, no! You can't refuse! It's you turn! Get up!

DIMBA. [Gets up, confused] I can't say what ... Zere's Russia and
zere's Greece. Zere's people in Russia and people in Greece. ...
And zere's people swimming the sea in karavs, which mean sips, and
people on the land in railway trains. I understand. We are Greeks
and you are Russians, and I want nussing. ... I can tell you ...
zere's Russia and zere's Greece ...

[Enter NUNIN.]

NUNIN. Wait, ladies and gentlemen, don't eat now! Wait! Just one
minute, Nastasya Timofeyevna! Just come here, if you don't mind!
[Takes NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA aside, puffing] Listen ... The
General's coming ... I found one at last. ... I'm simply worn out. ...
A real General, a solid one--old, you know, aged perhaps eighty, or
even ninety.

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. When is he coming?

NUNIN. This minute. You'll be grateful to me all your life. [Note:
A few lines have been omitted: they refer to the "General's" rank
and its civil equivalent in words for which the English language
has no corresponding terms. The "General" is an ex-naval officer, a
second-class captain.]

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. You're not deceiving me, Andrey darling?

NUNIN. Well, now, am I a swindler? You needn't worry!

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. [Sighs] One doesn't like to spend money for
nothing, Andrey darling!

NUNIN. Don't you worry! He's not a general, he's a dream! [Raises
his voice] I said to him: "You've quite forgotten us, your
Excellency! It isn't kind of your Excellency to forget your old
friends! Nastasya Timofeyevna," I said to him, "she's very annoyed
with you about it!" [Goes and sits at the table] And he says to me:
"But, my friend, how can I go when I don't know the bridegroom?"
"Oh, nonsense, your excellency, why stand on ceremony? The
bridegroom," I said to him, "he's a fine fellow, very free and
easy. He's a valuer," I said, "at the Law courts, and don't you
think, your excellency, that he's some rascal, some knave of
hearts. Nowadays," I said to him, "even decent women are employed
at the Law courts." He slapped me on the shoulder, we smoked a
Havana cigar each, and now he's coming. ... Wait a little, ladies
and gentlemen, don't eat. ...

APLOMBOV. When's he coming?

NUNIN. This minute. When I left him he was already putting on his
goloshes. Wait a little, ladies and gentlemen, don't eat yet.

APLOMBOV. The band should be told to play a march.

NUNIN. [Shouts] Musicians! A march! [The band plays a march for a

A WAITER. Mr. Revunov-Karaulov!


NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. [Bowing] Please come in, your excellency! So
glad you've come!

REVUNOV. Awfully!

ZHIGALOV. We, your excellency, aren't celebrities, we aren't
important, but quite ordinary, but don't think on that account that
there's any fraud. We put good people into the best place, we
begrudge nothing. Please!

REVUNOV. Awfully glad!

NUNIN. Let me introduce to you, your excellency, the bridegroom,
Epaminond Maximovitch Aplombov, with his newly born ... I mean his
newly married wife! Ivan Mihailovitch Yats, employed on the
telegraph! A foreigner of Greek nationality, a confectioner by
trade, Harlampi Spiridonovitch Dimba! Osip Lukitch Babelmandebsky!
And so on, and so on. ... The rest are just trash. Sit down, your

REVUNOV. Awfully! Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, I just want to
say two words to Andrey. [Takes NUNIN aside] I say, old man, I'm a
little put out. ... Why do you call me your excellency? I'm not a
general! I don't rank as the equivalent of a colonel, even.

NUNIN. [Whispers] I know, only, Fyodor Yakovlevitch, be a good man
and let us call you your excellency! The family here, you see, is
patriarchal; it respects the aged, it likes rank.

REVUNOV. Oh, if it's like that, very well. ... [Goes to the table]

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. Sit down, your excellency! Be so good as to
have some of this, your excellency! Only forgive us for not being
used to etiquette; we're plain people!

REVUNOV. [Not hearing] What? Hm ... yes. [Pause] Yes. ... In the
old days everybody used to live simply and was happy. In spite of
my rank, I am a man who lives plainly. To-day Andrey comes to me
and asks me to come here to the wedding. "How shall I go," I said,
"when I don't know them? It's not good manners!" But he says: "They
are good, simple, patriarchal people, glad to see anybody." Well,
if that's the case ... why not? Very glad to come. It's very dull
for me at home by myself, and if my presence at a wedding can make
anybody happy, then I'm delighted to be here. ...

ZHIGALOV. Then that's sincere, is it, your excellency? I respect
that! I'm a plain man myself, without any deception, and I respect
others who are like that. Eat, your excellency!

APLOMBOV. Is it long since you retired, your excellency?

REVUNOV. Eh? Yes, yes. ... Quite true. ... Yes. But, excuse me,
what is this? The fish is sour ... and the bread is sour. I can't
eat this! [APLOMBOV and DASHENKA kiss each other] He, he, he ...
Your health! [Pause] Yes. ... In the old days everything was simple
and everybody was glad. ... I love simplicity. ... I'm an old man.
I retired in 1865. I'm 72. Yes, of course, in my younger days it
was different, but-- [Sees MOZGOVOY] You there ... a sailor, are

MOZGOVOY. Yes, just so.

REVUNOV. Aha, so ... yes. The navy means hard work. There's a lot
to think about and get a headache over. Every insignificant word
has, so to speak, its special meaning! For instance, "Hoist her
top-sheets and mainsail!" What's it mean? A sailor can tell! He,
he!--With almost mathematical precision!

NUNIN. The health of his excellency Fyodor Yakovlevitch Revunov-Karaulov!
[Band plays a flourish. Cheers.]

YATS. You, your excellency, have just expressed yourself on the
subject of the hard work involved in a naval career. But is
telegraphy any easier? Nowadays, your excellency, nobody is
appointed to the telegraphs if he cannot read and write French and
German. But the transmission of telegrams is the most difficult
thing of all. Awfully difficult! Just listen.

[Taps with his fork on the table, like a telegraphic transmitter.]

REVUNOV. What does that mean?

YATS. It means, "I honour you, your excellency, for your virtues."
You think it's easy? Listen now. [Taps.]

REVUNOV. Louder; I can't hear. ...

YATS. That means, "Madam, how happy I am to hold you in my

REVUNOV. What madam are you talking about? Yes. ... [To MOZGOVOY]
Yes, if there's a head-wind you must ... let's see ... you must
hoist your foretop halyards and topsail halyards! The order is: "On
the cross-trees to the foretop halyards and topsail halyards" and
at the same time, as the sails get loose, you take hold underneath
of the foresail and fore-topsail halyards, stays and braces.

A GROOMSMAN. [Rising] Ladies and gentlemen ...

REVUNOV. [Cutting him short] Yes ... there are a great many orders
to give. "Furl the fore-topsail and the foretop-gallant sail!!"
Well, what does that mean? It's very simple! It means that if the
top and top-gallant sails are lifting the halyards, they must level
the foretop and foretop-gallant halyards on the hoist and at the
same time the top-gallants braces, as needed, are loosened
according to the direction of the wind ...

NUNIN. [To REVUNOV] Fyodor Yakovlevitch, Mme. Zhigalov asks you to
talk about something else. It's very dull for the guests, who can't
understand. ...

REVUNOV. What? Who's dull? [To MOZGOVOY] Young man! Now suppose the
ship is lying by the wind, on the starboard tack, under full sail,
and you've got to bring her before the wind. What's the order?
Well, first you whistle up above! He, he!

NUNIN. Fyodor Yakovlevitch, that's enough. Eat something.

REVUNOV. As soon as the men are on deck you give the order, "To
your places!" What a life! You give orders, and at the same time
you've got to keep your eyes on the sailors, who run about like
flashes of lightning and get the sails and braces right. And at
last you can't restrain yourself, and you shout, "Good children!"
[He chokes and coughs.]

A GROOMSMAN. [Making haste to use the ensuing pause to advantage]
On this occasion, so to speak, on the day on which we have met
together to honour our dear ...

REVUNOV. [Interrupting] Yes, you've got to remember all that! For
instance, "Hoist the topsail halyards. Lower the topsail gallants!"

THE GROOMSMAN. [Annoyed] Why does he keep on interrupting? We
shan't get through a single speech like that!

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. We are dull people, your excellency, and
don't understand a word of all that, but if you were to tell us
something appropriate ...

REVUNOV. [Not hearing] I've already had supper, thank you. Did you
say there was goose? Thanks ... yes. I've remembered the old days. ...
It's pleasant, young man! You sail on the sea, you have no worries,
and [In an excited tone of voice] do you remember the joy of
tacking? Is there a sailor who doesn't glow at the memory of that
manoeuvre? As soon as the word is given and the whistle blown and
the crew begins to go up--it's as if an electric spark has run
through them all. From the captain to the cabin-boy, everybody's

ZMEYUKINA. How dull! How dull! [General murmur.]

REVUNOV. [Who has not heard it properly] Thank you, I've had
supper. [With enthusiasm] Everybody's ready, and looks to the
senior officer. He gives the command: "Stand by, gallants and
topsail braces on the starboard side, main and counter-braces to
port!" Everything's done in a twinkling. Top-sheets and jib-sheets
are pulled ... taken to starboard. [Stands up] The ship takes the
wind and at last the sails fill out. The senior officer orders, "To
the braces," and himself keeps his eye on the mainsail, and when at
last this sail is filling out and the ship begins to turn, he yells
at the top of his voice, "Let go the braces! Loose the main
halyards!" Everything flies about, there's a general confusion for
a moment--and everything is done without an error. The ship has
been tacked!

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. [Exploding] General, your manners. ... You
ought to be ashamed of yourself, at your age!

REVUNOV. Did you say sausage? No, I haven't had any ... thank you.

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. [Loudly] I say you ought to be ashamed of
yourself at your age! General, your manners are awful!

NUNIN. [Confused] Ladies and gentlemen, is it worth it? Really ...

REVUNOV. In the first place, I'm not a general, but a second-class
naval captain, which, according to the table of precedence,
corresponds to a lieutenant-colonel.

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. If you're not a general, then what did you go
and take our money for? We never paid you money to behave like

REVUNOV. [Upset] What money?

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. You know what money. You know that you got 25
roubles from Andrey Andreyevitch. ... [To NUNIN] And you look out,
Andrey! I never asked you to hire a man like that!

NUNIN. There now ... let it drop. Is it worth it?

REVUNOV. Paid ... hired. ... What is it?

APLOMBOV. Just let me ask you this. Did you receive 25 roubles from
Andrey Andreyevitch?

REVUNOV. What 25 roubles? [Suddenly realizing] That's what it is!
Now I understand it all. ... How mean! How mean!

APLOMBOV. Did you take the money?

REVUNOV. I haven't taken any money! Get away from me! [Leaves the
table] How mean! How low! To insult an old man, a sailor, an
officer who has served long and faithfully! If you were decent
people I could call somebody out, but what can I do now? [Absently]
Where's the door? Which way do I go? Waiter, show me the way out!
Waiter! [Going] How mean! How low! [Exit.]

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. Andrey, where are those 25 roubles?

NUNIN. Is it worth while bothering about such trifles? What does it
matter! Everybody's happy here, and here you go. ... [Shouts] The
health of the bride and bridegroom! A march! A march! [The band
plays a march] The health of the bride and bridegroom!

ZMEYUKINA. I'm suffocating! Give me atmosphere! I'm suffocating
with you all round me!

YATS. [In a transport of delight] My beauty! My beauty! [Uproar.]

A GROOMSMAN. [Trying to shout everybody else down] Ladies and
gentlemen! On this occasion, if I may say so ...




ELENA IVANOVNA POPOVA, a landowning little widow, with dimples on her
GRIGORY STEPANOVITCH SMIRNOV, a middle-aged landowner
LUKA, Popova's aged footman


[A drawing-room in POPOVA'S house.]

[POPOVA is in deep mourning and has her eyes fixed on a photograph.
LUKA is haranguing her.]

LUKA. It isn't right, madam. ... You're just destroying yourself.
The maid and the cook have gone off fruit picking, every living
being is rejoicing, even the cat understands how to enjoy herself
and walks about in the yard, catching midges; only you sit in this
room all day, as if this was a convent, and don't take any
pleasure. Yes, really! I reckon it's a whole year that you haven't
left the house!

POPOVA. I shall never go out. ... Why should I? My life is already
at an end. He is in his grave, and I have buried myself between
four walls. ... We are both dead.

LUKA. Well, there you are! Nicolai Mihailovitch is dead, well, it's
the will of God, and may his soul rest in peace. ... You've mourned
him--and quite right. But you can't go on weeping and wearing
mourning for ever. My old woman died too, when her time came. Well?
I grieved over her, I wept for a month, and that's enough for her,
but if I've got to weep for a whole age, well, the old woman isn't
worth it. [Sighs] You've forgotten all your neighbours. You don't
go anywhere, and you see nobody. We live, so to speak, like
spiders, and never see the light. The mice have eaten my livery. It
isn't as if there were no good people around, for the district's
full of them. There's a regiment quartered at Riblov, and the
officers are such beauties--you can never gaze your fill at them.
And, every Friday, there's a ball at the camp, and every day the
soldier's band plays. ... Eh, my lady! You're young and beautiful,
with roses in your cheek--if you only took a little pleasure.
Beauty won't last long, you know. In ten years' time you'll want to
be a pea-hen yourself among the officers, but they won't look at
you, it will be too late.

POPOVA. [With determination] I must ask you never to talk to me
about it! You know that when Nicolai Mihailovitch died, life lost
all its meaning for me. I vowed never to the end of my days to
cease to wear mourning, or to see the light. ... You hear? Let his
ghost see how well I love him. ... Yes, I know it's no secret to
you that he was often unfair to me, cruel, and ... and even
unfaithful, but I shall be true till death, and show him how I can
love. There, beyond the grave, he will see me as I was before his
death. ...

LUKA. Instead of talking like that you ought to go and have a walk
in the garden, or else order Toby or Giant to be harnessed, and
then drive out to see some of the neighbours.

POPOVA. Oh! [Weeps.]

LUKA. Madam! Dear madam! What is it? Bless you!

POPOVA. He was so fond of Toby! He always used to ride on him to
the Korchagins and Vlasovs. How well he could ride! What grace
there was in his figure when he pulled at the reins with all his
strength! Do you remember? Toby, Toby! Tell them to give him an
extra feed of oats.

LUKA. Yes, madam. [A bell rings noisily.]

POPOVA. [Shaking] Who's that? Tell them that I receive nobody.

LUKA. Yes, madam. [Exit.]

POPOVA. [Looks at the photograph] You will see, Nicolas, how I can
love and forgive. ... My love will die out with me, only when this
poor heart will cease to beat. [Laughs through her tears] And
aren't you ashamed? I am a good and virtuous little wife. I've
locked myself in, and will be true to you till the grave, and you ...
aren't you ashamed, you bad child? You deceived me, had rows with
me, left me alone for weeks on end . ...

[LUKA enters in consternation.]

LUKA. Madam, somebody is asking for you. He wants to see you. ...

POPOVA. But didn't you tell him that since the death of my husband
I've stopped receiving?

LUKA. I did, but he wouldn't even listen; says that it's a very
pressing affair.

POPOVA. I do not re-ceive!

LUKA. I told him so, but the ... the devil ... curses and pushes
himself right in. ... He's in the dining-room now.

POPOVA. [Annoyed] Very well, ask him in. ... What manners! [Exit
LUKA] How these people annoy me! What does he want of me? Why
should he disturb my peace? [Sighs] No, I see that I shall have to
go into a convent after all. [Thoughtfully] Yes, into a convent. ...
[Enter LUKA with SMIRNOV.]

SMIRNOV. [To LUKA] You fool, you're too fond of talking. ... Ass!
[Sees POPOVA and speaks with respect] Madam, I have the honour to
present myself, I am Grigory Stepanovitch Smirnov, landowner and
retired lieutenant of artillery! I am compelled to disturb you on a
very pressing affair.

POPOVA. [Not giving him her hand] What do you want?

SMIRNOV. Your late husband, with whom I had the honour of being
acquainted, died in my debt for one thousand two hundred roubles,
on two bills of exchange. As I've got to pay the interest on a
mortgage to-morrow, I've come to ask you, madam, to pay me the
money to-day.

POPOVA. One thousand two hundred. ... And what was my husband in
debt to you for?

SMIRNOV. He used to buy oats from me.

POPOVA. [Sighing, to LUKA] So don't you forget, Luka, to give Toby
an extra feed of oats. [Exit LUKA] If Nicolai Mihailovitch died in
debt to you, then I shall certainly pay you, but you must excuse me
to-day, as I haven't any spare cash. The day after to-morrow my
steward will be back from town, and I'll give him instructions to
settle your account, but at the moment I cannot do as you wish. ...
Moreover, it's exactly seven months to-day since the death of my
husband, and I'm in a state of mind which absolutely prevents me
from giving money matters my attention.

SMIRNOV. And I'm in a state of mind which, if I don't pay the
interest due to-morrow, will force me to make a graceful exit from
this life feet first. They'll take my estate!

POPOVA. You'll have your money the day after to-morrow.

SMIRNOV. I don't want the money the day after tomorrow, I want it

POPOVA. You must excuse me, I can't pay you.

SMIRNOV. And I can't wait till after to-morrow.

POPOVA. Well, what can I do, if I haven't the money now!

SMIRNOV. You mean to say, you can't pay me?

POPOVA. I can't.

SMIRNOV. Hm! Is that the last word you've got to say?

POPOVA. Yes, the last word.

SMIRNOV. The last word? Absolutely your last?

POPOVA. Absolutely.

SMIRNOV. Thank you so much. I'll make a note of it. [Shrugs his
shoulders] And then people want me to keep calm! I meet a man on
the road, and he asks me "Why are you always so angry, Grigory
Stepanovitch?" But how on earth am I not to get angry? I want the
money desperately. I rode out yesterday, early in the morning, and
called on all my debtors, and not a single one of them paid up! I
was just about dead-beat after it all, slept, goodness knows where,
in some inn, kept by a Jew, with a vodka-barrel by my head. At last
I get here, seventy versts from home, and hope to get something,
and I am received by you with a "state of mind"! How shouldn't I
get angry.

POPOVA. I thought I distinctly said my steward will pay you when he
returns from town.

SMIRNOV. I didn't come to your steward, but to you! What the devil,
excuse my saying so, have I to do with your steward!

POPOVA. Excuse me, sir, I am not accustomed to listen to such
expressions or to such a tone of voice. I want to hear no more.
[Makes a rapid exit.]

SMIRNOV. Well, there! "A state of mind." ... "Husband died seven
months ago!" Must I pay the interest, or mustn't I? I ask you: Must
I pay, or must I not? Suppose your husband is dead, and you've got
a state of mind, and nonsense of that sort. ... And your steward's
gone away somewhere, devil take him, what do you want me to do? Do
you think I can fly away from my creditors in a balloon, or what?
Or do you expect me to go and run my head into a brick wall? I go
to Grusdev and he isn't at home, Yaroshevitch has hidden himself, I
had a violent row with Kuritsin and nearly threw him out of the
window, Mazugo has something the matter with his bowels, and this
woman has "a state of mind." Not one of the swine wants to pay me!
Just because I'm too gentle with them, because I'm a rag, just weak
wax in their hands! I'm much too gentle with them! Well, just you
wait! You'll find out what I'm like! I shan't let you play about
with me, confound it! I shall jolly well stay here until she pays!
Brr! ... How angry I am to-day, how angry I am! All my inside is
quivering with anger, and I can't even breathe. ... Foo, my word, I
even feel sick! [Yells] Waiter!

[Enter LUKA.]

LUKA. What is it?

SMIRNOV. Get me some kvass or water! [Exit LUKA] What a way to
reason! A man is in desperate need of his money, and she won't pay
it because, you see, she is not disposed to attend to money
matters! ... That's real silly feminine logic. That's why I never
did like, and don't like now, to have to talk to women. I'd rather
sit on a barrel of gunpowder than talk to a woman. Brr! ... I feel
quite chilly--and it's all on account of that little bit of fluff!
I can't even see one of these poetic creatures from a distance
without breaking out into a cold sweat out of sheer anger. I can't
look at them. [Enter LUKA with water.]

LUKA. Madam is ill and will see nobody.

SMIRNOV. Get out! [Exit LUKA] Ill and will see nobody! No, it's all
right, you don't see me. ... I'm going to stay and will sit here
till you give me the money. You can be ill for a week, if you like,
and I'll stay here for a week. ... If you're ill for a year--I'll
stay for a year. I'm going to get my own, my dear! You don't get at
me with your widow's weeds and your dimpled cheeks! I know those
dimples! [Shouts through the window] Simeon, take them out! We
aren't going away at once! I'm staying here! Tell them in the
stable to give the horses some oats! You fool, you've let the near
horse's leg get tied up in the reins again! [Teasingly] "Never
mind. ..." I'll give it you. "Never mind." [Goes away from the
window] Oh, it's bad. ... The heat's frightful, nobody pays up. I
slept badly, and on top of everything else here's a bit of fluff in
mourning with "a state of mind." ... My head's aching. ... Shall I
have some vodka, what? Yes, I think I will. [Yells] Waiter!

[Enter LUKA.]

LUKA. What is it?

SMIRNOV. A glass of vodka! [Exit LUKA] Ouf! [Sits and inspects
himself] I must say I look well! Dust all over, boots dirty,
unwashed, unkempt, straw on my waistcoat. ... The dear lady may
well have taken me for a brigand. [Yawns] It's rather impolite to
come into a drawing-room in this state, but it can't be helped. ...
I am not here as a visitor, but as a creditor, and there's no dress
specially prescribed for creditors. ...

[Enter LUKA with the vodka.]

LUKA. You allow yourself to go very far, sir. ...

SMIRNOV [Angrily] What?

LUKA. I ... er ... nothing ... I really ...

SMIRNOV. Whom are you talking to? Shut up!

LUKA. [Aside] The devil's come to stay. ... Bad luck that brought
him. ... [Exit.]

SMIRNOV. Oh, how angry I am! So angry that I think I could grind
the whole world to dust. ... I even feel sick. ... [Yells] Waiter!

[Enter POPOVA.]

POPOVA. [Her eyes downcast] Sir, in my solitude I have grown
unaccustomed to the masculine voice, and I can't stand shouting. I
must ask you not to disturb my peace.

SMIRNOV. Pay me the money, and I'll go.

POPOVA. I told you perfectly plainly; I haven't any money to spare;
wait until the day after to-morrow.

SMIRNOV. And I told you perfectly plainly I don't want the money
the day after to-morrow, but to-day. If you don't pay me to-day,
I'll have to hang myself to-morrow.

POPOVA. But what can I do if I haven't got the money? You're so

SMIRNOV. Then you won't pay me now? Eh?

POPOVA. I can't.

SMIRNOV. In that case I stay here and shall wait until I get it.
[Sits down] You're going to pay me the day after to-morrow? Very
well! I'll stay here until the day after to-morrow. I'll sit here
all the time. ... [Jumps up] I ask you: Have I got to pay the
interest to-morrow, or haven't I? Or do you think I'm doing this
for a joke?

POPOVA. Please don't shout! This isn't a stable!

SMIRNOV. I wasn't asking you about a stable, but whether I'd got my
interest to pay to-morrow or not?

POPOVA. You don't know how to behave before women!

SMIRNOV. No, I do know how to behave before women!

POPOVA. No, you don't! You're a rude, ill-bred man! Decent people
don't talk to a woman like that!

SMIRNOV. What a business! How do you want me to talk to you? In
French, or what? [Loses his temper and lisps] _Madame, je vous
prie_. ... How happy I am that you don't pay me. ... Ah, pardon. I
have disturbed you! Such lovely weather to-day! And how well you
look in mourning! [Bows.]

POPOVA. That's silly and rude.

SMIRNOV. [Teasing her] Silly and rude! I don't know how to behave
before women! Madam, in my time I've seen more women than you've
seen sparrows! Three times I've fought duels on account of women.
I've refused twelve women, and nine have refused me! Yes! There was
a time when I played the fool, scented myself, used honeyed words,
wore jewellery, made beautiful bows. I used to love, to suffer, to
sigh at the moon, to get sour, to thaw, to freeze. ... I used to
love passionately, madly, every blessed way, devil take me; I used
to chatter like a magpie about emancipation, and wasted half my
wealth on tender feelings, but now--you must excuse me! You won't
get round me like that now! I've had enough! Black eyes, passionate
eyes, ruby lips, dimpled cheeks, the moon, whispers, timid
breathing--I wouldn't give a brass farthing for the lot, madam!
Present company always excepted, all women, great or little, are
insincere, crooked, backbiters, envious, liars to the marrow of
their bones, vain, trivial, merciless, unreasonable, and, as far as
this is concerned [taps his forehead] excuse my outspokenness, a
sparrow can give ten points to any philosopher in petticoats you
like to name! You look at one of these poetic creatures: all
muslin, an ethereal demi-goddess, you have a million transports of
joy, and you look into her soul--and see a common crocodile! [He
grips the back of a chair; the chair creaks and breaks] But the
most disgusting thing of all is that this crocodile for some reason
or other imagines that its chef d'oeuvre, its privilege and
monopoly, is its tender feelings. Why, confound it, hang me on that
nail feet upwards, if you like, but have you met a woman who can
love anybody except a lapdog? When she's in love, can she do
anything but snivel and slobber? While a man is suffering and
making sacrifices all her love expresses itself in her playing
about with her scarf, and trying to hook him more firmly by the
nose. You have the misfortune to be a woman, you know from yourself
what is the nature of woman. Tell me truthfully, have you ever seen
a woman who was sincere, faithful, and constant? You haven't! Only
freaks and old women are faithful and constant! You'll meet a cat
with a horn or a white woodcock sooner than a constant woman!

POPOVA. Then, according to you, who is faithful and constant in
love? Is it the man?

SMIRNOV. Yes, the man!

POPOVA. The man! [Laughs bitterly] Men are faithful and constant in
love! What an idea! [With heat] What right have you to talk like
that? Men are faithful and constant! Since we are talking about it,
I'll tell you that of all the men I knew and know, the best was my
late husband. ... I loved him passionately with all my being, as
only a young and imaginative woman can love, I gave him my youth,
my happiness, my life, my fortune, I breathed in him, I worshipped
him as if I were a heathen, and ... and what then? This best of men
shamelessly deceived me at every step! After his death I found in
his desk a whole drawerful of love-letters, and when he was alive--
it's an awful thing to remember!--he used to leave me alone for
weeks at a time, and make love to other women and betray me before
my very eyes; he wasted my money, and made fun of my feelings. ...
And, in spite of all that, I loved him and was true to him. And not
only that, but, now that he is dead, I am still true and constant
to his memory. I have shut myself for ever within these four walls,
and will wear these weeds to the very end. ...

SMIRNOV. [Laughs contemptuously] Weeds! ... I don't understand what
you take me for. As if I don't know why you wear that black domino
and bury yourself between four walls! I should say I did! It's so
mysterious, so poetic! When some junker [Note: So in the original.]
or some tame poet goes past your windows he'll think: "There lives
the mysterious Tamara who, for the love of her husband, buried
herself between four walls." We know these games!

POPOVA. [Exploding] What? How dare you say all that to me?

SMIRNOV. You may have buried yourself alive, but you haven't
forgotten to powder your face!

POPOVA. How dare you speak to me like that?

SMIRNOV. Please don't shout, I'm not your steward! You must allow
me to call things by their real names. I'm not a woman, and I'm
used to saying what I think straight out! Don't you shout, either!

POPOVA. I'm not shouting, it's you! Please leave me alone!

SMIRNOV. Pay me my money and I'll go.

POPOVA. I shan't give you any money!

SMIRNOV. Oh, no, you will.

POPOVA. I shan't give you a farthing, just to spite you. You leave
me alone!

SMIRNOV. I have not the pleasure of being either your husband or
your fiance, so please don't make scenes. [Sits] I don't like it.

POPOVA. [Choking with rage] So you sit down?


POPOVA. I ask you to go away!

SMIRNOV. Give me my money. ... [Aside] Oh, how angry I am! How
angry I am!

POPOVA. I don't want to talk to impudent scoundrels! Get out of
this! [Pause] Aren't you going? No?




POPOVA. Very well then! [Rings, enter LUKA] Luka, show this
gentleman out!

LUKA. [Approaches SMIRNOV] Would you mind going out, sir, as you're
asked to! You needn't ...

SMIRNOV. [Jumps up] Shut up! Who are you talking to? I'll chop you
into pieces!

LUKA. [Clutches at his heart] Little fathers! ... What people! ...
[Falls into a chair] Oh, I'm ill, I'm ill! I can't breathe!

POPOVA. Where's Dasha? Dasha! [Shouts] Dasha! Pelageya! Dasha!

LUKA. Oh! They've all gone out to pick fruit. ... There's nobody at
home! I'm ill! Water!

POPOVA. Get out of this, now.

SMIRNOV. Can't you be more polite?

POPOVA. [Clenches her fists and stamps her foot] You're a boor! A
coarse bear! A Bourbon! A monster!

SMIRNOV. What? What did you say?

POPOVA. I said you are a bear, a monster!

SMIRNOV. [Approaching her] May I ask what right you have to insult

POPOVA. And suppose I am insulting you? Do you think I'm afraid of

SMIRNOV. And do you think that just because you're a poetic
creature you can insult me with impunity? Eh? We'll fight it out!

LUKA. Little fathers! ... What people! ... Water!

SMIRNOV. Pistols!

POPOVA. Do you think I'm afraid of you just because you have large
fists and a bull's throat? Eh? You Bourbon!

SMIRNOV. We'll fight it out! I'm not going to be insulted by
anybody, and I don't care if you are a woman, one of the "softer
sex," indeed!

POPOVA. [Trying to interrupt him] Bear! Bear! Bear!

SMIRNOV. It's about time we got rid of the prejudice that only men
need pay for their insults. Devil take it, if you want equality of
rights you can have it. We're going to fight it out!

POPOVA. With pistols? Very well!

SMIRNOV. This very minute.

POPOVA. This very minute! My husband had some pistols. ... I'll
bring them here. [Is going, but turns back] What pleasure it will
give me to put a bullet into your thick head! Devil take you!

SMIRNOV. I'll bring her down like a chicken! I'm not a little boy
or a sentimental puppy; I don't care about this "softer sex."

LUKA. Gracious little fathers! ... [Kneels] Have pity on a poor old
man, and go away from here! You've frightened her to death, and now
you want to shoot her!

SMIRNOV. [Not hearing him] If she fights, well that's equality of
rights, emancipation, and all that! Here the sexes are equal! I'll
shoot her on principle! But what a woman! [Parodying her] "Devil
take you! I'll put a bullet into your thick head." Eh? How she
reddened, how her cheeks shone! ... She accepted my challenge! My
word, it's the first time in my life that I've seen. ...

LUKA. Go away, sir, and I'll always pray to God for you!

SMIRNOV. She is a woman! That's the sort I can understand! A real
woman! Not a sour-faced jellybag, but fire, gunpowder, a rocket!
I'm even sorry to have to kill her!

LUKA. [Weeps] Dear ... dear sir, do go away!

SMIRNOV. I absolutely like her! Absolutely! Even though her cheeks
are dimpled, I like her! I'm almost ready to let the debt go ...
and I'm not angry any longer. ... Wonderful woman!

[Enter POPOVA with pistols.]

POPOVA. Here are the pistols. ... But before we fight you must show
me how to fire. I've never held a pistol in my hands before.

LUKA. Oh, Lord, have mercy and save her. ... I'll go and find the
coachman and the gardener. ... Why has this infliction come on us. ...

SMIRNOV. [Examining the pistols] You see, there are several sorts
of pistols. ... There are Mortimer pistols, specially made for
duels, they fire a percussion-cap. These are Smith and Wesson
revolvers, triple action, with extractors. ... These are excellent
pistols. They can't cost less than ninety roubles the pair. ... You
must hold the revolver like this. ... [Aside] Her eyes, her eyes!
What an inspiring woman!

POPOVA. Like this?

SMIRNOV. Yes, like this. ... Then you cock the trigger, and take
aim like this. ... Put your head back a little! Hold your arm out
properly. ... Like that. ... Then you press this thing with your
finger--and that's all. The great thing is to keep cool and aim
steadily. ... Try not to jerk your arm.

POPOVA. Very well. ... It's inconvenient to shoot in a room, let's
go into the garden.

SMIRNOV. Come along then. But I warn you, I'm going to fire in the

POPOVA. That's the last straw! Why?

SMIRNOV. Because ... because ... it's my affair.

POPOVA. Are you afraid? Yes? Ah! No, sir, you don't get out of it!
You come with me! I shan't have any peace until I've made a hole in
your forehead ... that forehead which I hate so much! Are you

SMIRNOV. Yes, I am afraid.

POPOVA. You lie! Why won't you fight?

SMIRNOV. Because ... because you ... because I like you.

POPOVA. [Laughs] He likes me! He dares to say that he likes me!
[Points to the door] That's the way.

SMIRNOV. [Loads the revolver in silence, takes his cap and goes to
the door. There he stops for half a minute, while they look at each
other in silence, then he hesitatingly approaches POPOVA] Listen. ...
Are you still angry? I'm devilishly annoyed, too ... but, do you
understand ... how can I express myself? ... The fact is, you see,
it's like this, so to speak. ... [Shouts] Well, is it my fault that
I like you? [He snatches at the back of a chair; the chair creaks
and breaks] Devil take it, how I'm smashing up your furniture! I
like you! Do you understand? I ... I almost love you!

POPOVA. Get away from me--I hate you!

SMIRNOV. God, what a woman! I've never in my life seen one like
her! I'm lost! Done for! Fallen into a mousetrap, like a mouse!

POPOVA. Stand back, or I'll fire!

SMIRNOV. Fire, then! You can't understand what happiness it would
be to die before those beautiful eyes, to be shot by a revolver
held in that little, velvet hand. ... I'm out of my senses! Think,
and make up your mind at once, because if I go out we shall never
see each other again! Decide now. ... I am a landowner, of
respectable character, have an income of ten thousand a year. I can
put a bullet through a coin tossed into the air as it comes down. ...
I own some fine horses. ... Will you be my wife?

POPOVA. [Indignantly shakes her revolver] Let's fight! Let's go

SMIRNOV. I'm mad. ... I understand nothing. [Yells] Waiter, water!

POPOVA. [Yells] Let's go out and fight!

SMIRNOV. I'm off my head, I'm in love like a boy, like a fool!
[Snatches her hand, she screams with pain] I love you! [Kneels] I
love you as I've never loved before! I've refused twelve women,
nine have refused me, but I never loved one of them as I love you. ...
I'm weak, I'm wax, I've melted. ... I'm on my knees like a fool,
offering you my hand. ... Shame, shame! I haven't been in love for
five years, I'd taken a vow, and now all of a sudden I'm in love,
like a fish out of water! I offer you my hand. Yes or no? You don't
want me? Very well! [Gets up and quickly goes to the door.]


SMIRNOV. [Stops] Well?

POPOVA. Nothing, go away. ... No, stop. ... No, go away, go away! I
hate you! Or no. ... Don't go away! Oh, if you knew how angry I am,
how angry I am! [Throws her revolver on the table] My fingers have
swollen because of all this. ... [Tears her handkerchief in temper]
What are you waiting for? Get out!

SMIRNOV. Good-bye.

POPOVA. Yes, yes, go away! ... [Yells] Where are you going? Stop. ...
No, go away. Oh, how angry I am! Don't come near me, don't come
near me!

SMIRNOV. [Approaching her] How angry I am with myself! I'm in love
like a student, I've been on my knees. ... [Rudely] I love you!
What do I want to fall in love with you for? To-morrow I've got to
pay the interest, and begin mowing, and here you. ... [Puts his
arms around her] I shall never forgive myself for this. ...

POPOVA. Get away from me! Take your hands away! I hate you! Let's
go and fight!

[A prolonged kiss. Enter LUKA with an axe, the GARDENER with a
rake, the COACHMAN with a pitchfork, and WORKMEN with poles.]

LUKA. [Catches sight of the pair kissing] Little fathers! [Pause.]

POPOVA. [Lowering her eyes] Luka, tell them in the stables that
Toby isn't to have any oats at all to-day.




IVAN IVANOVITCH TOLKACHOV, the father of a family

The scene is laid in St. Petersburg, in MURASHKIN'S flat


[MURASHKIN'S study. Comfortable furniture. MURASHKIN is seated at
his desk. Enter TOLKACHOV holding in his hands a glass globe for a
lamp, a toy bicycle, three hat-boxes, a large parcel containing a
dress, a bin-case of beer, and several little parcels. He looks
round stupidly and lets himself down on the sofa in exhaustion.]

MURASHKIN. How do you do, Ivan Ivanovitch? Delighted to see you!
What brings you here?

TOLKACHOV. [Breathing heavily] My dear good fellow ... I want to
ask you something. ... I implore you lend me a revolver till
to-morrow. Be a friend!

MURASHKIN. What do you want a revolver for?

TOLKACHOV. I must have it. ... Oh, little fathers! ... give me some
water ... water quickly! ... I must have it ... I've got to go
through a dark wood to-night, so in case of accidents ... do,
please, lend it to me.

MURASHKIN. Oh, you liar, Ivan Ivanovitch! What the devil have you
got to do in a dark wood? I expect you are up to something. I can
see by your face that you are up to something. What's the matter
with you? Are you ill?

TOLKACHOV. Wait a moment, let me breathe. ... Oh little mothers! I
am dog-tired. I've got a feeling all over me, and in my head as
well, as if I've been roasted on a spit. I can't stand it any
longer. Be a friend, and don't ask me any questions or insist on
details; just give me the revolver! I beseech you!

MURASHKIN. Well, really! Ivan Ivanovitch, what cowardice is this?
The father of a family and a Civil Servant holding a responsible
post! For shame!

TOLKACHOV. What sort of a father of a family am I! I am a martyr. I
am a beast of burden, a nigger, a slave, a rascal who keeps on
waiting here for something to happen instead of starting off for
the next world. I am a rag, a fool, an idiot. Why am I alive?
What's the use? [Jumps up] Well now, tell me why am I alive? What's
the purpose of this uninterrupted series of mental and physical
sufferings? I understand being a martyr to an idea, yes! But to be
a martyr to the devil knows what, skirts and lamp-globes, no! I
humbly decline! No, no, no! I've had enough! Enough!

MURASHKIN. Don't shout, the neighbours will hear you!

TOLKACHOV. Let your neighbours hear; it's all the same to me! If
you don't give me a revolver somebody else will, and there will be
an end of me anyway! I've made up my mind!

MURASHKIN. Hold on, you've pulled off a button. Speak calmly. I
still don't understand what's wrong with your life.

TOLKACHOV. What's wrong? You ask me what's wrong? Very well, I'll
tell you! Very well! I'll tell you everything, and then perhaps my
soul will be lighter. Let's sit down. Now listen ... Oh, little
mothers, I am out of breath! ... Just let's take to-day as an
instance. Let's take to-day. As you know, I've got to work at the
Treasury from ten to four. It's hot, it's stuffy, there are flies,
and, my dear fellow, the very dickens of a chaos. The Secretary is
on leave, Khrapov has gone to get married, and the smaller fry is
mostly in the country, making love or occupied with amateur
theatricals. Everybody is so sleepy, tired, and done up that you
can't get any sense out of them. The Secretary's duties are in the
hands of an individual who is deaf in the left ear and in love; the
public has lost its memory; everybody is running about angry and
raging, and there is such a hullabaloo that you can't hear yourself
speak. Confusion and smoke everywhere. And my work is deathly:
always the same, always the same--first a correction, then a
reference back, another correction, another reference back; it's
all as monotonous as the waves of the sea. One's eyes, you
understand, simply crawl out of one's head. Give me some water. ...
You come out a broken, exhausted man. You would like to dine and
fall asleep, but you don't!--You remember that you live in the
country--that is, you are a slave, a rag, a bit of string, a bit of
limp flesh, and you've got to run round and do errands. Where we
live a pleasant custom has grown up: when a man goes to town every
wretched female inhabitant, not to mention one's own wife, has the
power and the right to give him a crowd of commissions. The wife
orders you to run into the modiste's and curse her for making a
bodice too wide across the chest and too narrow across the
shoulders; little Sonya wants a new pair of shoes; your sister-in-law
wants some scarlet silk like the pattern at twenty copecks and
three arshins long. ... Just wait; I'll read you. [Takes a note out
of his pocket and reads] A globe for the lamp; one pound of pork
sausages; five copecks' worth of cloves and cinnamon; castor-oil
for Misha; ten pounds of granulated sugar. To bring with you from
home: a copper jar for the sugar; carbolic acid; insect powder, ten
copecks' worth; twenty bottles of beer; vinegar; and corsets for
Mlle. Shanceau at No. 82. ... Ouf! And to bring home Misha's winter
coat and goloshes. That is the order of my wife and family. Then
there are the commissions of our dear friends and neighbours--devil
take them! To-morrow is the name-day of Volodia Vlasin; I have to
buy a bicycle for him. The wife of Lieutenant-Colonel Virkhin is in
an interesting condition, and I am therefore bound to call in at
the midwife's every day and invite her to come. And so on, and so
on. There are five notes in my pocket and my handkerchief is all
knots. And so, my dear fellow, you spend the time between your
office and your train, running about the town like a dog with your
tongue hanging out, running and running and cursing life. From the
clothier's to the chemist's, from the chemist's to the modiste's,
from the modiste's to the pork butcher's, and then back again to
the chemist's. In one place you stumble, in a second you lose your
money, in a third you forget to pay and they raise a hue and cry
after you, in a fourth you tread on the train of a lady's dress. ...
Tfoo! You get so shaken up from all this that your bones ache all
night and you dream of crocodiles. Well, you've made all your
purchases, but how are you to pack all these things? For instance,
how are you to put a heavy copper jar together with the lamp-globe
or the carbolic acid with the tea? How are you to make a
combination of beer-bottles and this bicycle? It's the labours of
Hercules, a puzzle, a rebus! Whatever tricks you think of, in the
long run you're bound to smash or scatter something, and at the
station and in the train you have to stand with your arms apart,
holding up some parcel or other under your chin, with parcels,
cardboard boxes, and such-like rubbish all over you. The train
starts, the passengers begin to throw your luggage about on all
sides: you've got your things on somebody else's seat. They yell,
they call for the conductor, they threaten to have you put out, but
what can I do? I just stand and blink my eyes like a whacked
donkey. Now listen to this. I get home. You think I'd like to have
a nice little drink after my righteous labours and a good square
meal--isn't that so?--but there is no chance of that. My spouse has
been on the look-out for me for some time. You've hardly started on
your soup when she has her claws into you, wretched slave that you
are--and wouldn't you like to go to some amateur theatricals or to
a dance? You can't protest. You are a husband, and the word husband
when translated into the language of summer residents in the
country means a dumb beast which you can load to any extent without
fear of the interference of the Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals. So you go and blink at "A Family Scandal" or
something, you applaud when your wife tells you to, and you feel
worse and worse and worse until you expect an apoplectic fit to
happen any moment. If you go to a dance you have to find partners
for your wife, and if there is a shortage of them then you dance
the quadrilles yourself. You get back from the theatre or the dance
after midnight, when you are no longer a man but a useless, limp
rag. Well, at last you've got what you want; you unrobe and get
into bed. It's excellent--you can close your eyes and sleep. ...
Everything is so nice, poetic, and warm, you understand; there are
no children squealing behind the wall, and you've got rid of your
wife, and your conscience is clear--what more can you want? You
fall asleep--and suddenly ... you hear a buzz! ... Gnats! [Jumps
up] Gnats! Be they triply accursed Gnats! [Shakes his fist] Gnats!
It's one of the plagues of Egypt, one of the tortures of the
Inquisition! Buzz! It sounds so pitiful, so pathetic, as if it's
begging your pardon, but the villain stings so that you have to
scratch yourself for an hour after. You smoke, and go for them, and
cover yourself from head to foot, but it is no good! At last you
have to sacrifice yourself and let the cursed things devour you.
You've no sooner got used to the gnats when another plague begins:
downstairs your wife begins practising sentimental songs with her
two friends. They sleep by day and rehearse for amateur concerts by
night. Oh, my God! Those tenors are a torture with which no gnats
on earth can compare. [He sings] "Oh, tell me not my youth has
ruined you." "Before thee do I stand enchanted." Oh, the beastly
things! They've about killed me! So as to deafen myself a little I
do this: I drum on my ears. This goes on till four o'clock. Oh,
give me some more water, brother! ... I can't ... Well, not having
slept, you get up at six o'clock in the morning and off you go to
the station. You run so as not to be late, and it's muddy, foggy,
cold--brr! Then you get to town and start all over again. So there,
brother. It's a horrible life; I wouldn't wish one like it for my
enemy. You understand--I'm ill! Got asthma, heartburn--I'm always
afraid of something. I've got indigestion, everything is thick
before me ... I've become a regular psychopath. ... [Looking round]
Only, between ourselves, I want to go down to see Chechotte or
Merzheyevsky. There's some devil in me, brother. In moments of
despair and suffering, when the gnats are stinging or the tenors
sing, everything suddenly grows dim; you jump up and race round the
whole house like a lunatic and shout, "I want blood! Blood!" And
really all the time you do want to let a knife into somebody or hit
him over the head with a chair. That's what life in a summer villa
leads to! And nobody has any sympathy for me, and everybody seems
to think it's all as it should be. People even laugh. But
understand, I am a living being and I want to live! This isn't
farce, it's tragedy! I say, if you don't give me your revolver, you
might at any rate sympathize.

MURASHKIN. I do sympathize.

TOLKACHOV. I see how much you sympathize. ... Good-bye. I've got to
buy some anchovies and some sausage ... and some tooth-powder, and
then to the station.

MURASHKIN. Where are you living?

TOLKACHOV. At Carrion River.

MURASHKIN. [Delighted] Really? Then you'll know Olga Pavlovna
Finberg, who lives there?

TOLKACHOV. I know her. We are even acquainted.

MURASHKIN. How perfectly splendid! That's so convenient, and it
would be so good of you ...

TOLKACHOV. What's that?

MURASHKIN. My dear fellow, wouldn't you do one little thing for me?
Be a friend! Promise me now.

TOLKACHOV. What's that?

MURASHKIN. It would be such a friendly action! I implore you, my
dear man. In the first place, give Olga Pavlovna my very kind
regards. In the second place, there's a little thing I'd like you
to take down to her. She asked me to get a sewing-machine but I
haven't anybody to send it down to her by. ... You take it, my
dear! And you might at the same time take down this canary in its
cage ... only be careful, or you'll break the door. ... What are
you looking at me like that for?

TOLKACHOV. A sewing-machine ... a canary in a cage ... siskins,
chaffinches ...

MURASHKIN. Ivan Ivanovitch, what's the matter with you? Why are you
turning purple?

TOLKACHOV. [Stamping] Give me the sewing-machine! Where's the bird-cage?
Now get on top yourself! Eat me! Tear me to pieces! Kill me!
[Clenching his fists] I want blood! Blood! Blood!

MURASHKIN. You've gone mad!

TOLKACHOV. [Treading on his feet] I want blood! Blood!

MURASHKIN. [In horror] He's gone mad! [Shouts] Peter! Maria! Where
are you? Help!

TOLKACHOV. [Chasing him round the room] I want blood! Blood!




ANDREY ANDREYEVITCH SHIPUCHIN, Chairman of the N---- Joint Stock
Bank, a middle-aged man, with a monocle
TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA, his wife, aged 25
KUSMA NICOLAIEVITCH KHIRIN, the bank's aged book-keeper
NASTASYA FYODOROVNA MERCHUTKINA, an old woman wearing an old-fashioned

The action takes place at the Bank


[The private office of the Chairman of Directors. On the left is a
door, leading into the public department. There are two desks. The
furniture aims at a deliberately luxurious effect, with armchairs
covered in velvet, flowers, statues, carpets, and a telephone. It
is midday. KHIRIN is alone; he wears long felt boots, and is
shouting through the door.]

KHIRIN. Send out to the chemist for 15 copecks' worth of valerian
drops, and tell them to bring some drinking water into the
Directors' office! This is the hundredth time I've asked! [Goes to
a desk] I'm absolutely tired out. This is the fourth day I've been
working, without a chance of shutting my eyes. From morning to
evening I work here, from evening to morning at home. [Coughs] And
I've got an inflammation all over me. I'm hot and cold, and I
cough, and my legs ache, and there's something dancing before my
eyes. [Sits] Our scoundrel of a Chairman, the brute, is going to
read a report at a general meeting. "Our Bank, its Present and
Future." You'd think he was a Gambetta. ... [At work] Two ... one ...
one ... six ... nought ... seven. ... Next, six ... nought ...
one ... six. ... He just wants to throw dust into people's eyes,
and so I sit here and work for him like a galley-slave! This report
of his is poetic fiction and nothing more, and here I've got to sit
day after day and add figures, devil take his soul! [Rattles on his
counting-frame] I can't stand it! [Writing] That is, one ... three ...
seven ... two ... one ... nought. ... He promised to reward me for
my work. If everything goes well to-day and the public is properly
put into blinkers, he's promised me a gold charm and 300 roubles
bonus. ... We'll see. [Works] Yes, but if my work all goes for
nothing, then you'd better look out. ... I'm very excitable. ... If
I lose my temper I'm capable of committing some crime, so look out!

[Noise and applause behind the scenes. SHIPUCHIN'S voice: "Thank
you! Thank you! I am extremely grateful." Enter SHIPUCHIN. He wears
a frockcoat and white tie; he carries an album which has been just
presented to him.]

SHIPUCHIN. [At the door, addresses the outer office] This present,
my dear colleagues, will be preserved to the day of my death, as a
memory of the happiest days of my life! Yes, gentlemen! Once more,
I thank you! [Throws a kiss into the air and turns to KHIRIN] My
dear, my respected Kusma Nicolaievitch!

[All the time that SHIPUCHIN is on the stage, clerks intermittently
come in with papers for his signature and go out.]

KHIRIN. [Standing up] I have the honour to congratulate you, Andrey
Andreyevitch, on the fiftieth anniversary of our Bank, and hope
that ...

SHIPUCHIN. [Warmly shakes hands] Thank you, my dear sir! Thank you!
I think that in view of the unique character of the day, as it is
an anniversary, we may kiss each other! ... [They kiss] I am very,
very glad! Thank you for your service ... for everything! If, in
the course of the time during which I have had the honour to be
Chairman of this Bank anything useful has been done, the credit is
due, more than to anybody else, to my colleagues. [Sighs] Yes,
fifteen years! Fifteen years as my name's Shipuchin! [Changes his
tone] Where's my report? Is it getting on?

KHIRIN. Yes; there's only five pages left.

SHIPUCHIN. Excellent. Then it will be ready by three?

KHIRIN. If nothing occurs to disturb me, I'll get it done. Nothing
of any importance is now left.

SHIPUCHIN. Splendid. Splendid, as my name's Shipuchin! The general
meeting will be at four. If you please, my dear fellow. Give me the
first half, I'll peruse it. ... Quick. ... [Takes the report] I
base enormous hopes on this report. It's my _profession de foi_,
or, better still, my firework. [Note: The actual word employed.] My
firework, as my name's Shipuchin! [Sits and reads the report to
himself] I'm hellishly tired. ... My gout kept on giving me trouble
last night, all the morning I was running about, and then these
excitements, ovations, agitations ... I'm tired!

KHIRIN. Two ... nought ... nought ... three ... nine ... two ...
nought. I can't see straight after all these figures. ... Three ...
one ... six ... four ... one ... five. ... [Uses the counting-frame.]

SHIPUCHIN. Another unpleasantness. ... This morning your wife came
to see me and complained about you once again. Said that last night
you threatened her and her sister with a knife. Kusma Nicolaievitch,
what do you mean by that? Oh, oh!

KHIRIN. [Rudely] As it's an anniversary, Andrey Andreyevitch, I'll
ask for a special favour. Please, even if it's only out of respect
for my toil, don't interfere in my family life. Please!

SHIPUCHIN. [Sighs] Yours is an impossible character, Kusma
Nicolaievitch! You're an excellent and respected man, but you
behave to women like some scoundrel. Yes, really. I don't
understand why you hate them so?

KHIRIN. I wish I could understand why you love them so! [Pause.]

SHIPUCHIN. The employees have just presented me with an album; and
the Directors, as I've heard, are going to give me an address and a
silver loving-cup. ... [Playing with his monocle] Very nice, as my
name's Shipuchin! It isn't excessive. A certain pomp is essential
to the reputation of the Bank, devil take it! You know everything,
of course. ... I composed the address myself, and I bought the cup
myself, too. ... Well, then there was 45 roubles for the cover of
the address, but you can't do without that. They'd never have
thought of it for themselves. [Looks round] Look at the furniture!
Just look at it! They say I'm stingy, that all I want is that the
locks on the doors should be polished, that the employees should
wear fashionable ties, and that a fat hall-porter should stand by
the door. No, no, sirs. Polished locks and a fat porter mean a good
deal. I can behave as I like at home, eat and sleep like a pig, get
drunk. ...

KHIRIN. Please don't make hints.

SHIPUCHIN. Nobody's making hints! What an impossible character
yours is. ... As I was saying, at home I can live like a tradesman,
a _parvenu_, and be up to any games I like, but here everything
must be _en grand_. This is a Bank! Here every detail must
_imponiren_, so to speak, and have a majestic appearance. [He picks
up a paper from the floor and throws it into the fireplace] My
service to the Bank has been just this--I've raised its reputation.
A thing of immense importance is tone! Immense, as my name's
Shipuchin! [Looks over KHIRIN] My dear man, a deputation of
shareholders may come here any moment, and there you are in felt
boots, wearing a scarf ... in some absurdly coloured jacket. ...
You might have put on a frock-coat, or at any rate a dark jacket. ...

KHIRIN. My health matters more to me than your shareholders. I've
an inflammation all over me.

SHIPUCHIN. [Excitedly] But you will admit that it's untidy! You
spoil the _ensemble_!

KHIRIN. If the deputation comes I can go and hide myself. It won't
matter if ... seven ... one ... seven ... two ... one ... five ...
nought. I don't like untidiness myself. ... Seven ... two ... nine ...
[Uses the counting-frame] I can't stand untidiness! It would have
been wiser of you not to have invited ladies to to-day's
anniversary dinner. ...

SHIPUCHIN. Oh, that's nothing.

KHIRIN. I know that you're going to have the hall filled with them
to-night to make a good show, but you look out, or they'll spoil
everything. They cause all sorts of mischief and disorder.

SHIPUCHIN. On the contrary, feminine society elevates!

KHIRIN. Yes. ... Your wife seems intelligent, but on the Monday of
last week she let something off that upset me for two days. In
front of a lot of people she suddenly asks: "Is it true that at our
Bank my husband bought up a lot of the shares of the Driazhsky-Priazhsky
Bank, which have been falling on exchange? My husband is so annoyed
about it!" This in front of people. Why do you tell them everything,
I don't understand. Do you want them to get you into serious trouble?

SHIPUCHIN. Well, that's enough, enough! All that's too dull for an
anniversary. Which reminds me, by the way. [Looks at the time] My
wife ought to be here soon. I really ought to have gone to the
station, to meet the poor little thing, but there's no time. ...
and I'm tired. I must say I'm not glad of her! That is to say, I am
glad, but I'd be gladder if she only stayed another couple of days
with her mother. She'll want me to spend the whole evening with her
to-night, whereas we have arranged a little excursion for
ourselves. ... [Shivers] Oh, my nerves have already started dancing
me about. They are so strained that I think the very smallest
trifle would be enough to make me break into tears! No, I must be
strong, as my name's Shipuchin!

[Enter TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA SHIPUCHIN in a waterproof, with a little
travelling satchel slung across her shoulder.]

SHIPUCHIN. Ah! In the nick of time!


[Runs to her husband: a prolonged kiss.]

SHIPUCHIN. We were only speaking of you just now! [Looks at his

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. [Panting] Were you very dull without me? Are
you well? I haven't been home yet, I came here straight from the
station. I've a lot, a lot to tell you. ... I couldn't wait. ... I
shan't take off my clothes, I'll only stay a minute. [To KHIRIN]
Good morning, Kusma Nicolaievitch! [To her husband] Is everything
all right at home?

SHIPUCHIN. Yes, quite. And, you know, you've got to look plumper
and better this week. ... Well, what sort of a time did you have?

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. Splendid. Mamma and Katya send their regards.
Vassili Andreitch sends you a kiss. [Kisses him] Aunt sends you a
jar of jam, and is annoyed because you don't write. Zina sends you
a kiss. [Kisses.] Oh, if you knew what's happened. If you only
knew! I'm even frightened to tell you! Oh, if you only knew! But I
see by your eyes that you're sorry I came!

SHIPUCHIN. On the contrary. ... Darling. ... [Kisses her.]

[KHIRIN coughs angrily.]

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. Oh, poor Katya, poor Katya! I'm so sorry for
her, so sorry for her.

SHIPUCHIN. This is the Bank's anniversary to-day, darling, we may
get a deputation of the shareholders at any moment, and you're not

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. Oh, yes, the anniversary! I congratulate you,
gentlemen. I wish you. ... So it means that to-day's the day of the
meeting, the dinner. ... That's good. And do you remember that
beautiful address which you spent such a long time composing for
the shareholders? Will it be read to-day?

[KHIRIN coughs angrily.]

SHIPUCHIN. [Confused] My dear, we don't talk about these things.
You'd really better go home.

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. In a minute, in a minute. I'll tell you
everything in one minute and go. I'll tell you from the very
beginning. Well. ... When you were seeing me off, you remember I
was sitting next to that stout lady, and I began to read. I don't
like to talk in the train. I read for three stations and didn't say
a word to anyone. ... Well, then the evening set in, and I felt so
mournful, you know, with such sad thoughts! A young man was sitting
opposite me--not a bad-looking fellow, a brunette. ... Well, we
fell into conversation. ... A sailor came along then, then some
student or other. ... [Laughs] I told them that I wasn't married ...
and they did look after me! We chattered till midnight, the
brunette kept on telling the most awfully funny stories, and the
sailor kept on singing. My chest began to ache from laughing. And
when the sailor--oh, those sailors!--when he got to know my name
was TATIANA, you know what he sang? [Sings in a bass voice] "Onegin
don't let me conceal it, I love Tatiana madly!" [Note: From the
Opera _Evgeni Onegin_--words by Pushkin.] [Roars with laughter.]

[KHIRIN coughs angrily.]

SHIPUCHIN. Tania, dear, you're disturbing Kusma Nicolaievitch. Go
home, dear. ... Later on. ...

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. No, no, let him hear if he wants to, it's
awfully interesting. I'll end in a minute. Serezha came to meet me
at the station. Some young man or other turns up, an inspector of
taxes, I think ... quite handsome, especially his eyes. ... Serezha
introduced me, and the three of us rode off together. ... It was
lovely weather. ...

[Voices behind the stage: "You can't, you can't! What do you want?"
Enter MERCHUTKINA, waving her arms about.]

MERCHUTKINA. What are you dragging at me for. What else! I want him
himself! [To SHIPUCHIN] I have the honour, your excellency ... I am
the wife of a civil servant, Nastasya Fyodorovna Merchutkina.

SHIPUCHIN. What do you want?

MERCHUTKINA. Well, you see, your excellency, my husband has been
ill for five months, and while he was at home, getting better, he
was suddenly dismissed for no reason, your excellency, and when I
went to get his salary, they, you see, deducted 24 roubles 36
copecks from it. What for? I ask. They said, "Well, he drew it from
the employees' account, and the others had to make it up." How can
that be? How could he draw anything without my permission? No, your
excellency! I'm a poor woman ... my lodgers are all I have to live
on. ... I'm weak and defenceless. ... Everybody does me some harm,
and nobody has a kind word for me.

SHIPUCHIN. Excuse me. [Takes a petition from her and reads it

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. [To KHIRIN] Yes, but first we. ... Last week I
suddenly received a letter from my mother. She writes that a
certain Grendilevsky has proposed to my sister Katya. A nice,
modest, young man, but with no means of his own, and no assured
position. And, unfortunately, just think of it, Katya is absolutely
gone on him. What's to be done? Mamma writes telling me to come at
once and influence Katya. ...

KHIRIN. [Angrily] Excuse me, you've made me lose my place! You go
talking about your mamma and Katya, and I understand nothing; and
I've lost my place.

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. What does that matter? You listen when a lady
is talking to you! Why are you so angry to-day? Are you in love?

SHIPUCHIN. [To MERCHUTKINA] Excuse me, but what is this? I can't
make head or tail of it.

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. Are you in love? Aha! You're blushing!

SHIPUCHIN. [To his wife] Tanya, dear, do go out into the public
office for a moment. I shan't be long.

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. All right. [Goes out.]

SHIPUCHIN. I don't understand anything of this. You've obviously
come to the wrong place, madam. Your petition doesn't concern us at
all. You should go to the department in which your husband was

MERCHUTKINA. I've been there a good many times these five months,
and they wouldn't even look at my petition. I'd given up all hopes,
but, thanks to my son-in-law, Boris Matveyitch, I thought of coming
to you. "You go, mother," he says, "and apply to Mr. Shipuchin,
he's an influential man and can do anything." Help me, your

SHIPUCHIN. We can't do anything for you, Mrs. Merchutkina. You must
understand that your husband, so far as I can gather, was in the
employ of the Army Medical Department, while this is a private,
commercial concern, a bank. Don't you understand that?

MERCHUTKINA. Your excellency, I can produce a doctor's certificate
of my husband's illness. Here it is, just look at it. ...

SHIPUCHIN. [Irritated] That's all right; I quite believe you, but
it's not our business. [Behind the scene, TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA'S
laughter is heard, then a man's. SHIPUCHIN glances at the door]
She's disturbing the employees. [To MERCHUTKINA] It's strange and
it's even silly. Surely your husband knows where you ought to

MERCHUTKINA. Your excellency, I don't let him know anything. He
just cried out: "It isn't your business! Get out of this!" And ...

SHIPUCHIN. Madam, I repeat, your husband was in the employ of the
Army Medical Department, and this is a bank, a private, commercial

MERCHUTKINA. Yes, yes, yes. ... I understand, my dear. In that
case, your excellency, just order them to pay me 15 roubles! I
don't mind taking that to be going on with.

SHIPUCHIN. [Sighs] Ouf!

KHIRIN. Andrey Andreyevitch, I'll never finish the report at this

SHIPUCHIN. One moment. [To MERCHUTKINA] I can't get any sense out
of you. But do understand that your taking this business here is as
absurd as if you took a divorce petition to a chemist's or into a
gold assay office. [Knock at the door. The voice of TATIANA
ALEXEYEVNA is heard, "Can I come in, Andrey?" SHIPUCHIN shouts]
Just wait one minute, dear! [To MERCHUTKINA] What has it got to do
with us if you haven't been paid? As it happens, madam, this is an
anniversary to-day, we're busy ... and somebody may be coming here
at any moment. ... Excuse me. ...

MERCHUTKINA. Your excellency, have pity on me, an orphan! I'm a
weak, defenceless woman. ... I'm tired to death . ... I'm having
trouble with my lodgers, and on account of my husband, and I've got
the house to look after, and my son-in-law is out of work. ...

SHIPUCHIN. Mrs. Merchutkina, I ... No, excuse me, I can't talk to
you! My head's even in a whirl. ... You are disturbing us and
making us waste our time. [Sighs, aside] What a business, as my
name's Shipuchin! [To KHIRIN] Kusma Nicolaievitch, will you please
explain to Mrs. Merchutkina. [Waves his hand and goes out into
public department.]

KHIRIN. [Approaching MERCHUTKINA, angrily] What do you want?

MERCHUTKINA. I'm a weak, defenceless woman. ... I may look all
right, but if you were to take me to pieces you wouldn't find a
single healthy bit in me! I can hardly stand on my legs, and I've
lost my appetite. I drank my coffee to-day and got no pleasure out
of it.

KHIRIN. I ask you, what do you want?

MERCHUTKINA. Tell them, my dear, to give me 15 roubles, and a month
later will do for the rest.

KHIRIN. But haven't you been told perfectly plainly that this is a

MERCHUTKINA. Yes, yes. ... And if you like I can show you the
doctor's certificate.

KHIRIN. Have you got a head on your shoulders, or what?

MERCHUTKINA. My dear, I'm asking for what's mine by law. I don't
want what isn't mine.

KHIRIN. I ask you, madam, have you got a head on your shoulders, or
what? Well, devil take me, I haven't any time to talk to you! I'm
busy. ... [Points to the door] That way, please!

MERCHUTKINA. [Surprised] And where's the money?

KHIRIN. You haven't a head, but this [Taps the table and then
points to his forehead.]

MERCHUTKINA. [Offended] What? Well, never mind, never mind. ... You
can do that to your own wife, but I'm the wife of a civil servant. ...
You can't do that to me!

KHIRIN. [Losing his temper] Get out of this!

MERCHUTKINA. No, no, no ... none of that!

KHIRIN. If you don't get out this second, I'll call for the
hall-porter! Get out! [Stamping.]

MERCHUTKINA. Never mind, never mind! I'm not afraid! I've seen the
like of you before! Miser!

KHIRIN. I don't think I've ever seen a more awful woman in my life. ...
Ouf! It's given me a headache. ... [Breathing heavily] I tell you
once more ... do you hear me? If you don't get out of this, you old
devil, I'll grind you into powder! I've got such a character that
I'm perfectly capable of laming you for life! I can commit a crime!

MERCHUTKINA. I've heard barking dogs before. I'm not afraid. I've
seen the like of you before.

KHIRIN. [In despair] I can't stand it! I'm ill! I can't! [Sits down
at his desk] They've let the Bank get filled with women, and I
can't finish my report! I can't.

MERCHUTKINA. I don't want anybody else's money, but my own,
according to law. You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Sitting in a
government office in felt boots. ...


TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. [Following her husband] We spent the evening at
the Berezhnitskys. Katya was wearing a sky-blue frock of foulard
silk, cut low at the neck. ... She looks very well with her hair
done over her head, and I did her hair myself. ... She was
perfectly fascinating. ...

SHIPUCHIN. [Who has had enough of it already] Yes, yes ...
fascinating. ... They may be here any moment. ...

MERCHUTKINA. Your excellency!

SHIPUCHIN. [Dully] What else? What do you want?

MERCHUTKINA. Your excellency! [Points to KHIRIN] This man ... this
man tapped the table with his finger, and then his head. ... You
told him to look after my affair, but he insults me and says all
sorts of things. I'm a weak, defenceless woman. ...

SHIPUCHIN. All right, madam, I'll see to it ... and take the
necessary steps. ... Go away now ... later on! [Aside] My gout's
coming on!

KHIRIN. [In a low tone to SHIPUCHIN] Andrey Andreyevitch, send for
the hall-porter and have her turned out neck and crop! What else
can we do?

SHIPUCHIN. [Frightened] No, no! She'll kick up a row and we aren't
the only people in the building.

MERCHUTKINA. Your excellency.

KHIRIN. [In a tearful voice] But I've got to finish my report! I
won't have time! I won't!

MERCHUTKINA. Your excellency, when shall I have the money? I want
it now.

SHIPUCHIN. [Aside, in dismay] A re-mark-ab-ly beastly woman!
[Politely] Madam, I've already told you, this is a bank, a private,
commercial concern.

MERCHUTKINA. Be a father to me, your excellency. ... If the
doctor's certificate isn't enough, I can get you another from the
police. Tell them to give me the money!

SHIPUCHIN. [Panting] Ouf!

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. [To MERCHUTKINA] Mother, haven't you already
been told that you're disturbing them? What right have you?

MERCHUTKINA. Mother, beautiful one, nobody will help me. All I do
is to eat and drink, and just now I didn't enjoy my coffee at all.

SHIPUCHIN. [Exhausted] How much do you want?

MERCHUTKINA. 24 roubles 36 copecks.

SHIPUCHIN. All right! [Takes a 25-rouble note out of his pocket-book
and gives it to her] Here are 25 roubles. Take it and ... go!

[KHIRIN coughs angrily.]

MERCHUTKINA. I thank you very humbly, your excellency. [Hides the

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. [Sits by her husband] It's time I went home. ...
[Looks at watch] But I haven't done yet. ... I'll finish in one
minute and go away. ... What a time we had! Yes, what a time! We
went to spend the evening at the Berezhnitskys. ... It was all
right, quite fun, but nothing in particular. ... Katya's devoted
Grendilevsky was there, of course. ... Well, I talked to Katya,
cried, and induced her to talk to Grendilevsky and refuse him.
Well, I thought, everything's, settled the best possible way; I've
quieted mamma down, saved Katya, and can be quiet myself. ... What
do you think? Katya and I were going along the avenue, just before
supper, and suddenly ... [Excitedly] And suddenly we heard a shot. ...
No, I can't talk about it calmly! [Waves her handkerchief] No, I

SHIPUCHIN. [Sighs] Ouf!

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. [Weeps] We ran to the summer-house, and there ...
there poor Grendilevsky was lying ... with a pistol in his hand. ...

SHIPUCHIN. No, I can't stand this! I can't stand it! [To
MERCHUTKINA] What else do you want?

MERCHUTKINA. Your excellency, can't my husband go back to his job?

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. [Weeping] He'd shot himself right in the heart ...
here. ... And the poor man had fallen down senseless. ... And he
was awfully frightened, as he lay there ... and asked for a doctor.
A doctor came soon ... and saved the unhappy man. ...

MERCHUTKINA. Your excellency, can't my husband go back to his job?

SHIPUCHIN. No, I can't stand this! [Weeps] I can't stand it!
[Stretches out both his hands in despair to KHIRIN] Drive her away!
Drive her away, I implore you!

KHIRIN. [Goes up to TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA] Get out of this!

SHIPUCHIN. Not her, but this one ... this awful woman. ... [Points]
That one!

KHIRIN. [Not understanding, to TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA] Get out of this!
[Stamps] Get out!

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. What? What are you doing? Have you taken leave
of your senses?

SHIPUCHIN. It's awful? I'm a miserable man! Drive her out! Out with

KHIRIN. [To TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA] Out of it! I'll cripple you! I'll
knock you out of shape! I'll break the law!

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. [Running from him; he chases her] How dare you!
You impudent fellow! [Shouts] Andrey! Help! Andrey! [Screams.]

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