Part 5 out of 6
PETRÍSTCHEF. One can't always hit the mark, you know. It's something
like a lottery. Blanks and blanks again, and at last you win!
[THEODORE IVÁNITCH goes into the study.
BETSY. Well, this was blank then; but tell me, were you at the
Mergásofs' last night?
PETRÍSTCHEF. Not exactly at the Mère Gásof's, but rather at the Père
Gásof's, or better still, at the Fils Gásof's.
BETSY. You can't do without puns. It's an illness. And were the
Gypsies there? 
PETRÍSTCHEF (sings). "On their aprons silken threads, little birds
with golden heads!"....
BETSY. Happy mortals! And we were yawning at Fofo's.
PETRÍSTCHEF (continues to sing). "And she promised and she swore, she
would ope' her ... her ... her...." how does it go on, Márya
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. "Closet door."
PETRÍSTCHEF. How? What? How, Márya Konstantínovna?
BETSY. Cessez, vous devenez impossible! 
PETRÍSTCHEF. J'ai cessé, j'ai bébé, j'ai dédé....
BETSY. I see the only way to rid ourselves of your wit is to make you
sing! Let us go into Vovo's room, his guitar is there. Come, Márya
[Exeunt BETSY, MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA, and PETRÍSTCHEF.
FIRST PEASANT. Who be they?
GREGORY. One is our young lady, the other is a girl who teaches her
FIRST PEASANT. Administrates learning, so to say. And ain't she smart?
A reg'lar picture!
SECOND PEASANT. Why don't they marry her? She is old enough, I should
GREGORY. Do you think it's the same as among you peasants,--marry at
FIRST PEASANT. And that man, for example, is he also in the musitional
GREGORY (mimicking him). "Musitional," indeed! You don't understand
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. And stupidity, one might say, is our
THIRD PEASANT. Oh, Lord!
[Gypsy songs and guitar accompaniment are heard from VASÍLY
[Enter SIMON, followed by TÁNYA, who watches the meeting between
father and son.
GREGORY (to SIMON). What do you want?
SIMON. I have been to Mr. Kaptchítch.
GREGORY. Well, and what's the answer?
SIMON. He sent word he couldn't possibly come to-night.
GREGORY. All right, I'll let them know.
SIMON (to his father). How d'you do, father! My respects to Daddy Efím
and Daddy Mítry! How are all at home?
SECOND PEASANT. Very well, Simon.
FIRST PEASANT. How d'you do, lad?
THIRD PEASANT. How d'you do, sonny?
SIMON (smiles). Well, come along, father, and have some tea.
SECOND PEASANT. Wait till we've finished our business. Don't you see
we are not ready yet?
SIMON. Well, I'll wait for you by the porch.
[Wishes to go away.
TÁNYA (running after him). I say, why didn't you tell him anything?
SIMON. How could I before all those people? Give me time, I'll tell
him over our tea.
[THEODORE IVÁNITCH enters and sits down by the window.
FIRST PEASANT. Respected sir, how's our business proceeding?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Wait a bit, he'll be out presently, he's just
TÁNYA (to THEODORE IVÁNITCH). And how do you know, Theodore Ivánitch,
he is finishing?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I know that when he has finished questioning, he
reads the question and answer aloud.
TÁNYA. Can one really talk with spirits by means of a saucer?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. It seems so.
TÁNYA. But supposing they tell him to sign, will he sign?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Of course he will.
TÁNYA. But they do not speak with words?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Oh, yes. By means of the alphabet. He notices at
which letter the saucer stops.
TÁNYA. Yes, but at a si-ance?....
[Enter LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, friends, I can't do it! I should be very glad
to, but it is quite impossible. If it were for ready money it would be
a different matter.
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. What more could any one desire? But the
people are so inpennycuous--it is quite impossible!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, I can't do it, I really can't. Here is your
document; I can't sign it.
THIRD PEASANT. Show some pity, master; be merciful!
SECOND PEASANT. How can you act so? It is doing us a wrong.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Nothing wrong about it, friends. I offered it you
in summer, but then you did not agree; and now I can't agree to it.
THIRD PEASANT. Master, be merciful! How are we to get along? We have
so little land. We'll say nothing about the cattle; a hen, let's say,
there's no room to let a hen run about.
[LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH goes up to the door and stops. Enter,
descending the staircase, ANNA PÁVLOVNA and DOCTOR, followed by
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH, who is in a merry and playful mood and is
putting some bank-notes into his purse.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (tightly laced, and wearing a bonnet). Then I am to take
DOCTOR. If the symptoms recur you must certainly take it, but above
all, you must behave better. How can you expect thick syrup to pass
through a thin little hair tube, especially when we squeeze the tube?
It's impossible; and so it is with the biliary duct. It's simple
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. All right, all right!
DOCTOR. Yes. "All right, all right," and you go on in the same old
way. It won't do, madam--it won't do. Well, good-bye!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. No, not good-bye, only au revoir! For I still expect
you to-night. I shall not be able to make up my mind without you.
DOCTOR. All right, if I have time I'll pop in.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (noticing the PEASANTS). What's this? What? What people
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. These are peasants from Koursk, come to see Leoníd
Fyódoritch about the sale of some land.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. I see they are peasants, but who let them in?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Leoníd Fyódoritch gave the order. He has just been
speaking to them about the sale of the land.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. What sale? There is no need to sell any. But above all,
how can one let in people from the street into the house? One can't
let people in from the street! One can't let people into the house who
have spent the night heaven knows where!... (Getting more and more
excited.) I daresay every fold of their clothes is full of microbes--
of scarlet-fever microbes, of smallpox microbes, of diphtheria
microbes! Why, they are from Koursk Government, where there is an
epidemic of diphtheria ... Doctor! Doctor! Call the doctor back!
[LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH goes into his room and shuts the door. GREGORY
goes to recall the DOCTOR.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH (smokes at the PEASANTS). Never mind, mamma; if you
like I'll fumigate them so that all the microbes will go to pot! Eh,
[ANNA PÁVLOVNA remains severely silent, awaiting the DOCTOR'S
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH (to PEASANTS). And do you fatten pigs? There's a
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. We do go in for the pig-fattening line
now and then.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. This kind?...
[Grunts like a pig.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Vovo, Vovo, leave off!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Isn't it like? Eh, what?
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. It's very resemblant.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Vovo, leave off, I tell you!
SECOND PEASANT. What's it all about?
THIRD PEASANT. I said, we'd better go to some lodging meanwhile!
[Enter DOCTOR and GREGORY.
DOCTOR. What's the matter? What's happened?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Why, you're always saying I must not get excited. Now,
how is it possible to keep calm? I do not see my own sister for two
months, and am careful about any doubtful visitor--and here are people
from Koursk, straight from Koursk, where there is an epidemic of
diphtheria, right in my house!
DOCTOR. These good fellows you mean, I suppose?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Of course. Straight from a diphtheric place!
DOCTOR. Well, of course, if they come from an infected place it is
rash; but still there is no reason to excite yourself so much about
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. But don't you yourself advise carefulness?
DOCTOR. Of course, of course. Still, why excite yourself?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. How can I help it? Now we shall have to have the house
DOCTOR. Oh, no! Why completely? That would cost 300 roubles or more.
I'll arrange it cheaply and well for you. Take, to a large bottle of
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Boiled?
DOCTOR. It's all the same. Boiled would be better. To one bottle of
water take a tablespoon of salicylic acid, and have everything they
have come in contact with washed with the solution. As to the fellows
themselves, they must be off, of course. That's all. Then you're quite
safe. And it would do no harm to sprinkle some of the same solution
through a spray--two or three tumblers--you'll see how well it will
act. No danger whatever.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Tánya! Where is Tánya?
TÁNYA. Did you call, M'm?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. You know that big bottle in my dressing-room?
TÁNYA. Out of which we sprinkled the laundress yesterday?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Well, of course! What other bottle could I mean? Well,
then, take that bottle and first wash with soap the place where they
have been standing, and then with....
TÁNYA. Yes, M'm; I know how.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. And then take the spray.... However, I had better do
that myself when I get back.
DOCTOR. Well, then, do so, and don't be afraid! Well, au revoir till
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. And they must be off! Not a trace of them must remain!
Get out, get out! Go--what are you looking at?
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. It's because of our stupidity, as we
GREGORY (pushes the PEASANTS out). There, there; be off!
SECOND PEASANT. Let me have my handkerchief back!
[The handkerchief in which the presents were wrapped.
THIRD PEASANT. Oh, Lord, oh, Lord! didn't I say--some lodging-house
[GREGORY pushes him out. Exeunt PEASANTS.
PORTER (who has repeatedly tried to say something).--Will there be any
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Ah, from Bourdier? (Excitedly.) None! None! You can
take it back. I told her I never ordered such a costume, and I will
not allow my daughter to wear it!
PORTER. I know nothing about it. I was sent....
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Go, go, take it back! I will call myself about it!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH (solemnly). Sir Messenger from Bourdier, depart!
PORTER. I might have been told that long ago. I have sat here nearly
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Ambassador from Bourdier, begone!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Cease, please!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Betsy! Where is she? I always have to wait for her.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH (shouting at the top of his voice). Betsy!
PETRÍSTCHEF! Come quick, quick, quick! Eh? What?
[Enter PETRÍSTCHEF, BETSY, and MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. You always keep one waiting!
BETSY. On the contrary, I was waiting for you!
[PETRÍSTCHEF bows with his head only, then kisses ANNA PÁVLOVNA'S
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. How d'you do! (To BETSY.) You always have an answer
BETSY. If you are upset, mamma, I had better not go.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Are we going or not?
BETSY. Well, let us go; it can't be helped.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Did you see the man from Bourdier?
BETSY. Yes, and I was very glad. I ordered the costume, and am going
to wear it when it is paid for.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. I am not going to pay for a costume that is indecent!
BETSY. Why has it become indecent? First it was decent, and now you
have a fit of prudery.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Not prudery at all! If the bodice were completely
altered, then it would do.
BETSY. Mamma, that is quite impossible.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Well, get dressed.
[They sit down. GREGORY puts on their over-shoes for them.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Márya Konstantínovna, do you notice a vacuum in the
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. What is it?
[Laughs in anticipation.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Bourdier's man has gone! Eh, what? Good, eh?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Well, let us go. (Goes out of the door, but returns at
TÁNYA. Yes, M'm?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Don't let Frisk catch cold while I am away. If she
wants to be let out, put on her little yellow cloak. She is not quite
TÁNYA. Yes, M'm.
[Exeunt ANNA PÁVLOVNA, BETSY, and GREGORY.
PETRÍSTCHEF. Well, have you got it?
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Not without trouble, I can tell you! First I rushed
at the gov'nor; he began to bellow and turned me out. Off to the
mater--I got it out of her. It's here! (Slaps his breast pocket.) If
once I make up my mind, there's no getting away from me. I have a
deadly grip! Eh, what? And d'you know, my wolf-hounds are coming
[PETRÍSTCHEF and VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH put on their outdoor things
and go out. TÁNYA follows.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH (alone). Yes, nothing but unpleasantness. How is it
they can't live in peace? But one must say the new generation are not
--the thing. And as to the women's dominion!... Why, Leoníd Fyódoritch
just now was going to put in a word, but seeing what a frenzy she was
in--slammed the door behind him. He is a wonderfully kind-hearted man.
Yes, wonderfully kind. What's this? Here's Tánya bringing them back
TÁNYA. Come in, come in, grand-dads, never mind!
[Enter TÁNYA and the PEASANTS.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Why have you brought them back?
TÁNYA. Well, Theodore Ivánitch, we must do something about their
business. I shall have to wash the place anyhow.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. But the business will not come off, I see that
FIRST PEASANT. How could we best put our affair into action, respected
sir? Your reverence might take a little trouble over it, and we should
give you full thankings from the Commune for your trouble.
THIRD PEASANT. Do try, honey! We can't live! We have so little land.
Talk of cattle--why, we have no room to keep a hen!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I am sorry for you, friends, but I can't think of
any way to help you. I understand your case very well, but he has
refused. So what can one do? Besides, the lady is also against it.
Well, give me your papers--I'll try and see what I can do, but I
hardly hope to succeed.
[TÁNYA and the three PEASANTS sigh.
TÁNYA. But tell me, grand-dads, what is it that is wanted?
FIRST PEASANT. Why, only that he should put his signature to our
TÁNYA. That the master should sign? Is that all?
FIRST PEASANT. Yes, only lay his signature on the deed and take the
money, and there would be an end of the matter.
THIRD PEASANT. He only has to write and sign, as the peasants, let's
say, desire, so, let's say, I also desire. That's the whole affair--if
he'd only take it and sign it, it's all done.
TÁNYA (considering). He need only sign the paper and it's done?
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. The whole matter is in dependence on
that, and nothing else. Let him sign, and we ask no more.
TÁNYA. Just wait and see what Theodore Ivánitch will say. If he cannot
persuade the master, I'll try something.
FIRST PEASANT. Get round him, will you?
TÁNYA. I'll try.
THIRD PEASANT. Ay, the lass is going to bestir herself. Only get the
thing settled, and the Commune will bind itself to keep you all your
life. See there, now!
FIRST PEASANT. If the affair can be put into action, truly we might
put her in a gold frame.
SECOND PEASANT. That goes without saying!
TÁNYA. I can't promise for certain, but as the saying is: "An attempt
is no sin, if you try...."
FIRST PEASANT. "You may win." That's just so.
[Enter THEODORE IVÁNITCH.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. No, friends, it's no go! He has not done it, and he
won't do it. Here, take your document. You may go.
FIRST PEASANT (gives TÁNYA the paper). Then it's on you we pin all our
reliance, for example.
TÁNYA. Yes, yes! You go into the street, and I'll run out to you in a
minute and have a word with you.
TÁNYA. Theodore Ivánitch, dear Theodore Ivánitch, ask the master to
come out and speak to me for a moment. I have something to say to him.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. What next?
TÁNYA. I must, Theodore Ivánitch. Ask him, do; there's nothing wrong
about it, on my sacred word.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. But what do you want with him?
TÁNYA. That's a little secret. I will tell you later on, only ask him.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH (smiling). I can't think what you are up to! All
right, I'll go and ask him.
TÁNYA. I'll do it! Didn't he say himself that there is that power in
Simon? And I know how to manage. No one found me out that time, and
now I'll teach Simon what to do. If it doesn't succeed it's no great
matter. After all it's not a sin.
[Enter LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH, followed by THEODORE IVÁNITCH.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (smiling). Is this the petitioner? Well, what is
TÁNYA. It's a little secret, Leoníd Fyódoritch; let me tell it you
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. What is it? Theodore, leave us for a minute.
[Exit THEODORE IVÁNITCH.
TÁNYA. As I have grown up and lived in your house, Leoníd Fyódoritch,
and as I am very grateful to you for everything, I shall open my heart
to you as to a father. Simon, who is living in your house, wants to
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. So that's it!
TÁNYA. I open my heart to you as to a father! I have no one to advise
me, being an orphan.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, and why not? He seems a nice lad.
TÁNYA. Yes, that's true. He would be all right; there is only one
thing I have my doubts about. It's something about him that I have
noticed and can't make out ... perhaps it is something bad.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. What is it? Does he drink?
TÁNYA. God forbid! But since I know that there is such a thing as
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Ah, you know that?
TÁNYA. Of course! I understand it very well. Some, of course, through
ignorance, don't understand it.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, what then?
TÁNYA. I am very much afraid for Simon. It does happen to him.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. What happens to him?
TÁNYA. Something of a kind like spiritalism. You ask any of the
servants. As soon as he gets drowsy at the table, the table begins to
tremble, and creak like that: tuke, ... tuke! All the servants have
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Why, it's the very thing I was saying to Sergéy
Ivánitch this morning! Yes?...
TÁNYA. Or else ... when was it?... Oh, yes, last Wednesday. We sat
down to dinner, and the spoon just jumps into his hand of itself!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Ah, that is interesting! Jumps into his hand? When
he was drowsing?
TÁNYA. That I didn't notice. I think he was, though.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes?...
TÁNYA. And that's what I'm afraid of, and what I wanted to ask you
about. May not some harm come of it? To live one's life together, and
him having such a thing in him!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (smiling). No, you need not be afraid, there is
nothing bad in that. It only proves him to be a medium--simply a
medium. I knew him to be a medium before this.
TÁNYA. So that's what it is! And I was afraid!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. No, there's nothing to be afraid of. (Aside.)
That's capital! Kaptchítch can't come, so we will test him
to-night.... (To TÁNYA.) No, my dear, don't be afraid, he will be a
good husband and ... that is only a kind of special power, and every
one has it, only in some it is weaker and in others stronger.
TÁNYA. Thank you, sir. Now I shan't think any more about it; but I was
so frightened.... What a thing it is, our want of education!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. No, no, don't be frightened.... Theodore!
[Enter THEODORE IVÁNITCH.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. I am going out now. Get everything ready for
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. But Mr. Kaptchítch is not coming.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. That does not matter. (Puts on overcoat.) We shall
have a trial séance with our own medium.
[Exit. THEODORE IVÁNITCH goes out with him.
TÁNYA (alone). He believes it! He believes it! (Shrieks and jumps with
joy.) He really believes it! Isn't it wonderful! (Shrieks.) Now I'll
do it, if only Simon has pluck for it!
[THEODORE IVÁNITCH returns.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Well, have you told him your secret?
TÁNYA. I'll tell you, too, only later on.... But I have a favor to ask
of you, too, Theodore Ivánitch.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Yes? What is it?
TÁNYA (shyly). You have been a second father to me, and I will open my
heart before you as before God.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Don't beat about the bush, but come straight to the
TÁNYA. The point is ... well, the point is, that Simon wants to marry
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Is that it? I thought I noticed....
TÁNYA. Well, why should I hide it? I am an orphan, and you know
yourself how matters are in these town establishments. Every one comes
bothering; there's that Gregory Miháylitch, for instance, he gives me
no peace. And also that other one ... you know. They think I have no
soul, and am only here for their amusement.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Good girl, that's right! Well, what then?
TÁNYA. Well, Simon wrote to his father; and he, his father, sees me
to-day, and says: "He's spoilt"--he means his son. Theodore Ivánitch
(bows), take the place of a father to me, speak to the old man,--to
Simon's father! I could take them into the kitchen, and you might come
in and speak to the old man!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH (smiling). Then I am to turn match-maker--am I?
Well, I can do that.
TÁNYA. Theodore Ivánitch, dearest, be a father to me, and I'll pray
for you all my life long.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. All right, all right, I'll come later on. Haven't I
[Takes up newspaper.
TÁNYA. You are a second father to me!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. All right, all right.
TÁNYA. Then I'll rely on you.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH (alone, shaking his head). A good affectionate girl.
To think that so many like her perish! Get but once into trouble and
she'll go from hand to hand until she sinks into the mire, and can
never be found again! There was that dear little Nataly. She, too, was
a good girl, reared and cared for by a mother. (Takes up paper.) Well,
let's see what tricks Ferdinand is up to in Bulgaria.
Evening of the same day. The scene represents the interior of the
servants' kitchen. The PEASANTS have taken off their outer garments
and sit drinking tea at the table, and perspiring. THEODORE IVÁNITCH
is smoking a cigar at the other side of the stage. The discharged COOK
is lying on the brick oven, and is unseen during the early part of the
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. My advice is, don't hinder him! If it's his wish
and hers, in Heaven's name, let him do it. She is a good, honest girl.
Never mind her being a bit dressy; she can't help that, living in
town: she is a good girl all the same.
SECOND PEASANT. Well, of course, if it is his wish, let him! He'll
have to live with her, not me. But she's certainly uncommon spruce.
How's one to take her into one's hut? Why, she'll not let her
mother-in-law so much as pat her on the head.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. That does not depend on the spruceness, but on
character. If her nature is good, she's sure to be docile and
SECOND PEASANT. Ah, well, we'll have her if the lad's bent on having
her. After all, it's a bad job to live with one as one don't care for.
I'll consult my missus, and then may Heaven bless them!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Then let's shake hands on it!
SECOND PEASANT. Well, it seems it will have to come off.
FIRST PEASANT. Eh, Zachary! fortune's a-smiling on you! You've come to
accomplish a piece of business, and just see what a duchess of a
daughter-in-law you've obtained. All that's left to be done is to have
a drink on it, and then it will be all in order.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. That's not at all necessary.
[An awkward silence.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I know something of your way of life, too, you
know. I am even thinking of purchasing a bit of land, building a
cottage, and working on the land myself somewhere; maybe in your
SECOND PEASANT. A very good thing, too.
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. When one has got the money one can get
all kinds of pleasure in the country.
THIRD PEASANT. Say no more about it! Country life let's say, is freer
in every way, not like the town!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. There now, would you let me join your Commune if I
settled among you?
SECOND PEASANT. Why not? If you stand drink for the Elders, they'll
accept you soon enough!
FIRST PEASANT. And if you open a public-house, for example, or an inn,
why, you'd have such a life you'd never need to die! You might live
like a king, and no mistake.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Well, we'll see. I should certainly like to have a
few quiet years in my old age. Though my life here is good enough, and
I should be sorry to leave. Leoníd Fyódoritch is an exceedingly
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. But how about our business? Is it
possible that he is going to leave it without any termination?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. He'd do it willingly.
SECOND PEASANT. It seems he's afraid of his wife.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. It's not that he's afraid, but they don't hit
things off together.
THIRD PEASANT. But you should try, father! How are we to live else?
We've so little land....
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. We'll see what comes of Tánya's attempt. She's
taken the business into her hands now!
THIRD PEASANT (takes a sip of tea). Father, be merciful. We've so
little land. A hen, let's say, we've no room for a hen, let alone the
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. If the business depended on me.... (To SECOND
PEASANT.) Well, friend, so we've done our bit of match-making! It's
agreed then about Tánya?
SECOND PEASANT. I've given my word, and I'll not go back on it without
a good reason. If only our business succeeds!
[Enter SERVANTS' COOK, who looks up at the oven, makes a sign,
and then begins to speak animatedly to THEODORE IVÁNITCH.
SERVANTS' COOK. Just now Simon was called upstairs from the front
kitchen! The master and that other bald-headed one who calls up
spirits with him, ordered him to sit down and take the place of
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. You don't say so!
SERVANTS' COOK. Yes, Jacob told Tánya.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Extraordinary!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. What do you want?
COACHMAN (to THEODORE IVÁNITCH). You may just tell them I never agreed
to live with a lot of dogs! Let any one who likes do it, but I will
never agree to live among dogs!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. What dogs?
COACHMAN. Three dogs have been sent into our room by Vasíly
Leoníditch! They've messed it all over. They're whining, and if one
comes near them they bite--the devils! They'd tear you to pieces if
you didn't mind. I've a good mind to take a club and smash their legs
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. But when did they come?
COACHMAN. Why, to-day, from the Dog Show; the devil knows what kind
they are, but they're an expensive sort. Are we or the dogs to live in
the coachmen's quarters? You just go and ask!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Yes, that will never do. I'll go and ask about it.
COACHMAN. They'd better be brought here to Loukérya.
SERVANTS' COOK (angrily). People have to eat here, and you'd like to
lock dogs in here! As it is....
COACHMAN. And I've got the liveries, and the sledge-covers and the
harness there, and they expect things kept clean! Perhaps the porter's
lodge might do.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I must ask Vasíly Leoníditch.
COACHMAN (angrily). He'd better hang the brutes round his neck and lug
them about with him! But no fear: he'd rather ride on horseback
himself. It's he as spoilt. Beauty without rhyme or reason. That was a
horse!... Oh, dear! what a life!
[Exit, slamming door.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. That's not right! Certainly not right! (To
PEASANTS.) Well, then, it's time we were saying good-bye, friends.
[Exit THEODORE IVÁNITCH.
[As soon as he is gone a sound of groaning is heard from the top
of the oven.
SECOND PEASANT. He's sleek, that one; looks like a general.
SERVANTS' COOK. Rather! Why he has a room all to himself; he gets his
washing, his tea and sugar, and food from the master's table.
DISCHARGED COOK (on the oven). Why shouldn't the old beggar live well?
He's lined his pockets all right!
SECOND PEASANT. Who's that up there, on the oven?
SERVANTS' COOK. Oh, it's only a man.
FIRST PEASANT. Well, and you, too, as I noticed a while since when you
were supping, have capital food to eat.
SERVANTS' COOK. We can't complain. She's not mean about the food. We
have wheat bread every Sunday, and fish when a holiday happens to be a
fast-day, too, and those who like may eat meat.
SECOND PEASANT. And does any one tuck into flesh on fast-days?
SERVANTS' COOK. Oh, they nearly all do! Only the old coachman--not the
one who was here just now but the old one--and Simon, and I and the
housekeeper, fast--all the others eat meat.
SECOND PEASANT. And the master himself?
SERVANTS' COOK. Catch him! Why, I bet he's forgotten there is such a
thing as fasting!
THIRD PEASANT. Oh, Lord!
FIRST PEASANT. That's the gentlefolks' way: they have got it all out
of their books. 'Cos of their intelex!
THIRD PEASANT. Shouldn't wonder if they feed on wheat bread every day!
SERVANTS' COOK. Wheat bread, indeed! Much they think of wheat bread!
You should see what food they eat. No end of different things!
FIRST PEASANT. In course gentlefolks' food is of an airial kind.
SERVANTS' COOK. Airial, of course, but all the same they're good at
stuffing themselves, they are!
FIRST PEASANT. Have healthy appekites, so to say.
SERVANTS' COOK. 'Cos they always rinse it down! All with sweet wines,
and spirits, and fizzy liquors. They have a different one to suit
every kind of food. They eat and rinse it down, and eat and rinse it
down, they do.
FIRST PEASANT. And so the food's floated down in proportion, so to
SERVANTS' COOK. Ah, yes, they are good at stuffing! It's awful! You
see, it's not just sitting down, eating, then saying grace and going
away--they're always at it!
SECOND PEASANT. Like pigs with their feet in the trough!
SERVANTS' COOK. As soon as, by God's grace, they have opened their
eyes, the samovár is brought in--tea, coffee, chocolate. Hardly is the
second samovár emptied, a third has to be set. Then lunch, then
dinner, then again coffee. They've hardly left off, then comes tea,
and all sorts of tit-bits and sweetmeats--there's never an end to it!
They even lie in bed and eat!
THIRD PEASANT. There now; that's good.
FIRST AND SECOND PEASANTS. What are you about?
THIRD PEASANT. If I could only live a single day like that!
SECOND PEASANT. But when do they do their work?
SERVANTS' COOK. Work indeed! What is their work? Cards and piano--
that's all their work. The young lady used to sit down to the piano as
soon as she opened her eyes, and off she'd go! And that other one who
lives here, the teacher, stands and waits. "When will the piano be
free?" When one has finished, off rattles the other, and sometimes
they'd put two pianos near one another and four of 'em would bust out
at once. Bust out in such a manner, you could hear 'em down here!
THIRD PEASANT. Oh, Lord!
SERVANTS' COOK. Well, and that's all the work they do! Piano or cards!
As soon as they have met together--cards, wine, smoking, and so on,
all night long. And as soon as they are up: eating again!
SIMON. Hope you're enjoying your tea!
FIRST PEASANT. Come and join us.
SIMON. (comes up to the table). Thank you kindly.
[First PEASANT pours out a cup of tea for him.
SECOND PEASANT. Where have you been?
SECOND PEASANT. Well, and what was being done there?
SIMON. Why, I couldn't make it out at all! I don't know how to explain
SECOND PEASANT. But what was it?
SIMON. I can't explain it. They have been trying some kind of strength
in me. I can't make it out. Tánya says, "Do it, and we'll get the land
for our peasants; he'll sell it them."
SECOND PEASANT. But how is she going to manage it?
SIMON. I can't make it out, and she won't say. She says, "Do as I tell
you," and that's all.
SECOND PEASANT. But what is it you have to do?
SIMON. Nothing just now. They made me sit down, put out the lights and
told me to sleep. And Tánya had hidden herself there. They didn't see
her, but I did.
SECOND PEASANT. Why? What for?
SIMON. The Lord only knows--I can't make it out.
FIRST PEASANT. Naturally, it is for the distraction of time.
SECOND PEASANT. Well, it's clear you and I can make nothing of it. You
had better tell me whether you have taken all your wages yet.
SIMON. No, I've not drawn any. I have twenty-eight roubles to the
good, I think.
SECOND PEASANT. That's all right! Well, if God grants that we get the
land, I'll take you home, Simon.
SIMON. With all my heart!
SECOND PEASANT. You've got spoilt, I should say. You'll not want to
SIMON. Plough? Only give me the chance! Plough or mow,--I'm game.
Those are things one doesn't forget.
FIRST PEASANT. But it don't seem very desirous after town life, for
SIMON. It's good enough for me. One can live in the country, too.
FIRST PEASANT. And Daddy Mítry here is already on the look-out for
your place; he's hankering after a life of luckshury!
SIMON. Eh, Daddy Mítry, you'd soon get sick of it. It seems easy
enough when one looks at it, but there's a lot of running about that
takes it out of one.
SERVANTS' COOK. You should see one of their balls, Daddy Mítry, then
you would be surprised!
THIRD PEASANT. Why, do they eat all the time?
SERVANTS' COOK. My eye! You should have seen what we had here awhile
ago. Theodore Ivánitch took me upstairs and I peeped in. The ladies--
awful! Dressed up! Dressed up, bless my heart, and all bare down to
here, and their arms bare.
THIRD PEASANT. Oh, Lord!
SECOND PEASANT. Faugh! How beastly!
FIRST PEASANT. I take it the climate allows of that sort of thing!
SERVANTS' COOK. Well, daddy, so I peeped in. Dear me, what it was
like! All of 'em in their natural skins! Would you believe it: old
women--our mistress, only think, she's a grandmother, and even she'd
gone and bared her shoulders.
THIRD PEASANT. Oh, Lord!
SERVANTS' COOK. And what next? The music strikes up, and each man of
'em went up to his own, catches hold of her, and off they go twirling
round and round!
SECOND PEASANT. The old women, too?
SERVANTS' COOK. Yes, the old ones, too.
SIMON. No, the old ones sit still.
SERVANTS' COOK. Get along,--I've seen it myself!
SIMON. No, they don't.
DISCHARGED COOK (in a hoarse voice, looking down from the oven).
That's the Polka-Mazurka. You fools don't understand what dancing is.
The way they dance....
SERVANTS' COOK. Shut up, you dancer! And keep quiet--there's some one
[Enter GREGORY; old COOK hides hurriedly.
GREGORY (to SERVANTS' COOK). Bring some sour cabbage.
SERVANTS' COOK. I am only just up from the cellar, and now I must go
down again! Who is it for?
GREGORY. For the young ladies. Be quick, and send it up with Simon. I
SERVANTS' COOK. There now, they tuck into sweetmeats till they are
full up, and then they crave for sour cabbage!
FIRST PEASANT. That's to make a clearance.
SERVANTS' COOK. Of course, and as soon as there is room inside, they
[Takes basin, and exit.
GREGORY (at PEASANTS). Look at them, how they've established
themselves down here! Mind, if the mistress finds it out she'll give
it you hot, like she did this morning!
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it, she did raise a storm that time--awful!
SECOND PEASANT. That time it looked as if the master was going to step
in, but seeing that the missus was about to blow the very roof off the
house, he slams the door. Have your own way, thinks he.
THIRD PEASANT (waving his arm). It's the same everywhere. My old
woman, let's say, she kicks up such a rumpus sometimes--it's just
awful! Then I just get out of the hut. Let her go to Jericho! She'll
give you one with the poker if you don't mind. Oh, Lord!
[JACOB enters hurriedly with a prescription.
JACOB. Here, Simon, you run to the chemist's and get these powders for
SIMON. But master told me not to go out.
JACOB. You've plenty of time; your business won't begin till after
their tea. Hope you are enjoying your tea!
FIRST PEASANT. Thanks, come and join us.
JACOB. I haven't time. However, I'll just have one cup for company's
FIRST PEASANT. And we've just been having a conversation as to how
your mistress carried on so haughty this morning.
JACOB. Oh, she's a reg'lar fury! So hot-tempered, that she gets quite
beside herself. Sometimes she even bursts out crying.
FIRST PEASANT. Now, there's a thing I wanted to ask you about. What,
for example, be these mikerots she was illuding to erewhile? "They've
infested the house with mikerots, with mikerots," she says. What is
one to make of these same mikerots?
JACOB. Mikerogues, you mean! Well, it seems there is such a kind of
bugs; all illnesses come from them, they say. So she says there are
some of 'em on you. After you were gone, they washed and washed and
sprinkled the place where you had stood. There's a kind of physic as
kills these same bugs, they say. Second Peasant. Then where have we
got these bugs on us?
JACOB (drinking his tea). Why, they say they're so small that one
can't see 'em even through a glass.
SECOND PEASANT. Then how does she know I've got 'em on me? Perhaps
there's more of that muck on her than on me!
JACOB. There now, you go and ask her!
SECOND PEASANT. I believe it's humbug.
JACOB. Of course it's bosh. The doctors must invent something, or else
what are they paid for? There's one comes to us every day. Comes,--
talks a bit,--and pockets ten roubles!
SECOND PEASANT. Nonsense!
JACOB. Why, there's one as takes a hundred!
FIRST PEASANT. A hundred? Humbug!
JACOB. A hundred. Humbug, you say? Why, if he has to go out of town,
he'll not do it for less than a thousand! "Give a thousand," he says,
"or else you may kick the bucket for what I care!"
THIRD PEASANT. Oh, Lord!
SECOND PEASANT. Then does he know some charm?
JACOB. I suppose he must. I served at a General's outside Moscow once:
a cross, terrible proud old fellow he was--just awful. Well, this
General's daughter fell ill. They send for that doctor at once. "A
thousand roubles, then I'll come." Well, they agreed, and he came.
Then they did something or other he didn't like, and he bawled out at
the General and says, "Is this the way you show your respect for me?
Then I'll not attend her!" And, oh, my! The old General forgot all his
pride, and starts wheedling him in every way not to chuck up the job!
FIRST PEASANT. And he got the thousand?
JACOB. Of course!
SECOND PEASANT. That's easy got money. What wouldn't a peasant do with
such a sum!
THIRD PEASANT. And I think it's all bosh. That time my foot was
festering I had it doctored ever so long. I spent nigh on five roubles
on it,--then I gave up doctoring, and it got all right!
[DISCHARGED COOK on the oven coughs.
JACOB. Ah, the old crony is here again!
FIRST PEASANT. Who might that man be?
JACOB. He used to be our master's cook. He comes to see Loukérya.
FIRST PEASANT. Kitchen-master, as one might say. Then, does he live
JACOB. No, they won't allow that. He's here one day, there another. If
he's got a copper he goes to a dosshouse; but when he has drunk all,
he comes here.
SECOND PEASANT. How did he come to this?
JACOB. Simply grew weak. And what a man he used to be--like a
gentleman! Went about with a gold watch; got forty roubles a month
wages. And now look at him! He'd have starved to death long ago if it
hadn't been for Loukérya.
[Enter SERVANTS' COOK with the sour cabbage.
JACOB (to SERVANTS' COOK). I see you've got Paul Petróvitch here
SERVANTS' COOK. And where's he to go to? Is he to go and freeze?
THIRD PEASANT. What liquor does.... Liquor, let's say....
[Clicks his tongue sympathetically.
SECOND PEASANT. Of course. A firm man's firm as a rock; a weak man's
weaker than water.
DISCHARGED COOK (gets off the oven with trembling hands and legs).
Loukérya, I say, give us a drop!
SERVANTS' COOK. What are you up to? I'll give you such a drop!...
DISCHARGED COOK. Have you no conscience? I'm dying! Brothers, a
SERVANTS' COOK. Get back on the oven, I tell you!
DISCHARGED COOK. Half a glass only, cook, for Heaven's sake! I say, do
you understand? I ask you in the name of Heaven, now!
SERVANTS' COOK. Come along, here's some tea for you.
DISCHARGED COOK. Tea; what is tea? Weak, sloppy stuff. A little vódka
--just one little drop.... Loukérya!
THIRD PEASANT. Poor old soul, what agony it is!
SECOND PEASANT. You'd better give him some.
SERVANTS' COOK (gets out a bottle and fills a wine-glass). Here you
are; you'll get no more.
DISCHARGED COOK (clutches hold of it and drinks, trembling all over).
Loukérya, Cook! I am drinking, and you must understand....
SERVANTS' COOK. Now, then, stop your chatter! Get on to the oven, and
let not a breath of you be heard!
[The old COOK meekly begins to climb up, muttering something to
SECOND PEASANT. What it is, when a man gives way to his weakness!
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it--human weakness.
THIRD PEASANT. That goes without saying.
[The DISCHARGED COOK settles down, muttering all the time.
SECOND PEASANT. I want to ask you something: that girl of Aksínya's as
comes from our village and is living here. How is she? What is she
like? How is she living--I mean, does she live honest?
JACOB. She's a nice girl; one can say nothing but good of her.
SERVANTS' COOK. I'll tell you straight, daddy; I know this here
establishment out and out, and if you mean to have Tánya for your
son's wife--be quick about it, before she comes to grief, or else
she'll not escape!
JACOB. Yes, that's true. A while ago we had a girl here, Nataly. She
was a good girl too. And she was lost without rhyme or reason. No
better than that chap!
[Pointing to the old COOK.
SERVANTS' COOK. There's enough to dam a mill-pool, with the likes of
us, as perish! 'Cos why, every one is tempted by the easy life and the
good food. And see there,--as soon as one has tasted the good food she
goes and slips. And once she's slipped, they don't want her, but get a
fresh one in her place. So it was with dear little Nataly; she also
slipped, and they turned her out. She had a child and fell ill, and
died in the hospital last spring. And what a girl she used to be!
THIRD PEASANT. Oh, Lord! People are weak; they ought to be pitied.
DISCHARGED COOK. Those devils pity? No fear! (He hangs his legs down
from the oven.) I have stood roasting myself by the kitchen range for
thirty years, and now that I am not wanted, I may go and die like a
dog.... Pity indeed!...
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. It's the old circumstances.
SECOND PEASANT. While they drank and they fed, you were "curly head."
When they'd finished the prog, 'twas "Get out, mangy dog!"
THIRD PEASANT. Oh Lord!
DISCHARGED COOK. Much you know. What is "Sautey a la Bongmont"? What
is "Bavassary"? Oh, the things I could make! Think of it! The Emperor
tasted my work, and now the devils want me no longer. But I am not
going to stand it!
SERVANTS' COOK. Now, then, stop that noise, mind.... Get up right into
the corner, so that no one can see you, or else Theodore Ivánitch or
some one may come in, and both you and me'll be turned out!
JACOB. And do you know my part of the country? I'm from Voznesénsky.
SECOND PEASANT. Not know it? Why, it's no more'n ten miles from our
village; not that across the ford! Do you cultivate any land there?
JACOB. My brother does, and I send my wages. Though I live here, I am
dying for a sight of home.
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it.
SECOND PEASANT. Then Anísim is your brother?
JACOB. Own brother. He lives at the farther end of the village.
SECOND PEASANT. Of course, I know; his is the third house.
[Enter TÁNYA, running.
TÁNYA. Jacob, what are you doing, amusing yourself here? She is
JACOB. I'm coming; but what's up?
TÁNYA. Frisk is barking; it's hungry. And she's scolding you. "How
cruel he is," she says. "He's no feeling," she says. "It's long past
Frisk's dinner-time, and he has not brought her food!"
JACOB (rises to go). Oh, she's cross? What's going to happen now, I
SERVANTS' COOK. Here, take the cabbage with you.
JACOB. All right, give it here.
[Takes basin, and exit.
FIRST PEASANT. Who is going to dine now?
TÁNYA. Why, the dog! It's her dog. (Sits down and takes up the
tea-pot.) Is there any more tea? I've brought some.
[Puts fresh tea into the tea-pot.
FIRST PEASANT. Dinner for a dog?
TÁNYA. Yes, of course! They prepare a special cutlet for her; it must
not be too fat. And I do the washing--the dog's washing, I mean.
THIRD PEASANT. Oh Lord!
TÁNYA. It's like that gentleman who had a funeral for his dog.
SECOND PEASANT. What's that?
TÁNYA. Why, some one told me he had a dog--I mean the gentleman had a
dog. And it died. It was winter, and he went in his sledge to bury
that dog. Well, he buried it, and on the way home he sits and cries--
the gentleman does. Well, there was such a bitter frost that the
coachman's nose keeps running, and he has to keep wiping it. Let me
fill your cup! (Fills it.) So he keeps wiping his nose, and the
gentleman sees it, and says, "What are you crying about?" And the
coachman, he says, "Why, sir, how can I help it; is there another dog
SECOND PEASANT. And I daresay he thinks to himself, "If your own self
was to kick the bucket I'd not cry."
DISCHARGED COOK (from up on the oven). That is true; that's right!
TÁNYA. Well, the gentleman, he gets home and goes straight to his
lady: "What a good-hearted man our coachman is; he was crying all the
way home about poor Dash. Have him called.... Here, drink this glass
of vódka," he says, "and here's a rouble as a reward for you." That's
just like her saying Jacob has no feelings for her dog!
[The PEASANTS laugh.
FIRST PEASANT. That's the style!
SECOND PEASANT. That was a go!
THIRD PEASANT. Aye, lassie, but you've set us a-laughing!
TÁNYA (pouring out more tea). Have some more! Yes, it only seems that
our life is pleasant; but sometimes it is very disgusting,--clearing
up all their messes! Faugh! It's better in the country. (PEASANTS turn
their cups upside-down, as a polite sign that they have had enough.
TÁNYA pours out more tea.) Have some more, Efím Antónitch. I'll fill
your cup, Mítry Vlásitch.
THIRD PEASANT. All right, fill it, fill it.
FIRST PEASANT. Well, dear, and what progression is our business
TÁNYA. It's getting on....
FIRST PEASANT. Simon told us....
TÁNYA. (quickly). Did he?
SECOND PEASANT. But he could not make us understand.
TÁNYA. I can't tell you now, but I'm doing my best--all I can! And
I've got your paper here! (Shows the paper hidden under the bib of her
apron.) If only one thing succeeds ... (Shrieks.) Oh, how nice it
SECOND PEASANT. Don't lose that paper, mind. It has cost money.
TÁNYA. Never fear. You only want him to sign it? Is that all?
THIRD PEASANT. Why, what else? Let's say he's signed it, and it's
done! (Turns his cup upside-down.) I've had enough.
TÁNYA (aside). He'll sign it; you'll see he will.... Have some more.
[Pours out tea.
FIRST PEASANT. If only you get this business about the sale of the
land settled, the Commune would pay your marriage expenses.
[Refuses the tea.
TÁNYA (pouring out tea). Do have another cup.
THIRD PEASANT. You get it done, and we'll arrange your marriage, and I
myself, let's say, will dance at the wedding. Though I've never danced
in all my born days, I'll dance then!
TÁNYA (laughing). All right, I'll be in hopes of it.
SECOND PEASANT (examines TÁNYA). That's all very well, but you're not
fit for peasant work.
TÁNYA. Who? I? Why, don't you think me strong enough? You should see
me lacing up my mistress. There's many a peasant couldn't tug as hard.
SECOND PEASANT. Where do you tug her to?
TÁNYA. Well, there's a thing made with bone, like--something like a
stiff jacket, only up to here! Well, and I pull the strings just as
when you saddle a horse--when you ... what d'ye call it? You know,
when you spit on your hands!
SECOND PEASANT. Tighten the girths, you mean.
TÁNYA. Yes, yes, that's it. And you know I mustn't shove against her
with my knee.
SECOND PEASANT. Why do you pull her in?
TÁNYA. For a reason!
SECOND PEASANT. Why, is she doing penance?
TÁNYA. No, it's for beauty's sake!
FIRST PEASANT. That's to say, you pull in her paunch for appearance'
TÁNYA. Sometimes I lace her up so that her eyes are ready to start
from her head, and she says, "Tighter," till my hands tingle. And you
say I'm not strong!
[PEASANTS laugh and shake their heads.
TÁNYA. But here, I've been jabbering.
[Runs away, laughing.
THIRD PEASANT. Ah, the lassie has made us laugh!
FIRST PEASANT. She's a tidy one!
SECOND PEASANT. She's not bad.
[Enter SAHÁTOF and VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. SAHÁTOF holds a teaspoon in
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Not exactly a dinner, but a déjeuner dinatoire. And
first-rate it was, I tell you. Ham of sucking-pig, delicious! Roulier
feeds one splendidly! I've only just returned. (Sees PEASANTS.) Ah,
the peasants are here again!
SAHÁTOF. Yes, yes, that's all very well, but we came here to hide this
article. Where shall we hide it?
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Excuse me a moment. (To SERVANTS' COOK.) Where are
SERVANTS' COOK. In the coachman's quarters. You can't keep dogs in the
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Ah, in the coachman's quarters? All right.
SAHÁTOF. I am waiting.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Excuse me, please. Eh, what? Hide it? I'll tell you
what. Let's put it into one of the peasants' pockets. That one. I say,
where's your pocket? Eh, what?
THIRD PEASANT. What for d'ye want my pocket? You're a good 'un! My
pocket! There's money in my pocket!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Where's your bag, then?
THIRD PEASANT. What for?
SERVANTS' COOK. What d'you mean? That's the young master!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH (laughs. To SAHÁTOF). D'you know why he's so
frightened? Shall I tell you? He's got a heap of money. Eh, what?
SAHÁTOF. Yes, yes, I see. Well, you talk to them a bit, and I'll put
it into that bag without being observed, so that they should not
notice and could not point it out to him. Talk to them.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. All right! (To PEASANTS.) Well then, old fellows,
how about the land? Are you buying it? Eh, what?
FIRST PEASANT. We have made an offering, so to say, with our whole
heart. But there,--the business don't come into action nohow.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. You should not be so stingy! Land is an important
matter! I told you about planting mint. Or else tobacco would also do.
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. Every kind of producks.
THIRD PEASANT. And you help us, master. Ask your father. Or else how
are we to live? There's so little land. A fowl, let's say, there's not
enough room for a fowl to run about.
SAHÁTOF (having put the spoon into a bag belonging to the THIRD
PEASANT). C'est fait. Ready. Come along.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. So don't be stingy! Eh? Well, good-bye.
THIRD PEASANT. Didn't I say, come to some lodging-house? Well,
supposing we'd had to give three-pence each, then at least we'd have
been in peace. As to here, the Lord be merciful! "Give us the money,"
he says. What's that for?
SECOND PEASANT. He's drunk, I daresay.
[PEASANTS turn their cups upside-down, rise, and cross themselves.
FIRST PEASANT. And d'you mind what a saying he threw out? Sowing mint!
One must know how to understand them, that one must!
SECOND PEASANT. Sow mint indeed! He'd better bend his own back at that
work, and then it's not mint he'll hanker after, no fear! Well, many
thanks!... And now, good woman, would you tell us where we could lie
down to sleep?
SERVANTS' COOK. One of you can lie on the oven, and the others on
THIRD PEASANT. Christ save you!
[Prays, crossing himself.
FIRST PEASANT. If only by God's help we get our business settled!
(Lies down.) Then to-morrow, after dinner, we'd be off by the train,
and on Tuesday we'd be home again.
SECOND PEASANT. Are you going to put out the light?
SERVANTS' COOK. Put it out? Oh, no! They'll keep running down here,
first for one thing then another.... You lie down, I'll lower it.
SECOND PEASANT. How is one to live, having so little land? Why, this
year, I have had to buy corn since Christmas. And the oat-straw is all
used up. I'd like to get hold of ten acres, and then I could take
THIRD PEASANT. You're a man with a family. You'd get the land
cultivated without trouble. If only the business comes off.
SECOND PEASANT. We must pray to the Holy Virgin, maybe she'll help us
out. (Silence, broken by sighs. Then footsteps and voices are heard
outside. The door opens. Enter GROSSMAN hurriedly, with his eyes
bandaged, holding SAHÁTOF'S hand, and followed by the PROFESSOR and
the DOCTOR, the FAT LADY and LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH, BETSY and PETRÍSTCHEF,
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH and MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA, ANNA PÁVLOVNA and the
BARONESS, THEODORE IVÁNITCH and TÁNYA.)
[PEASANTS jump up. GROSSMAN comes forward stepping quickly, then
FAT LADY. You need not trouble yourselves; I have undertaken the task
of observing, and am strictly fulfilling my duty! Mr. Sahátof, are you
not leading him?
SAHÁTOF. Of course not!
FAT LADY. You must not lead him, but neither must you resist! (To
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH.) I know these experiments. I have tried them
myself. Sometimes I used to feel a certain effluence, and as soon as I
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. May I beg of you to keep perfect silence?
FAT LADY. Oh, I understand so well! I have experienced it myself. As
soon as my attention was diverted I could no longer....
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Sh...!
[GROSSMAN goes about, searches near the FIRST and SECOND
PEASANTS, then approaches the THIRD, and stumbles over a bench.
BARONESS. Mais dites-moi, on le paye?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Je ne saurais vous dire.
BARONESS. Mais c'est un monsieur?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Oh, oui!
BARONESS. Ça tient du miraculeux. N'est ce pas? Comment est-ce qu'il
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Je ne saurais vous dire. Mon mari vous l'expliquera.
(Noticing PEASANTS, turns round, and sees the SERVANTS' COOK.) Pardon
... what is this?
[BARONESS goes up to the group.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. (to SERVANTS' COOK). Who let the peasants in?
SERVANTS' COOK. Jacob brought them in.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Who gave Jacob the order?
SERVANTS' COOK. I can't say. Theodore Ivánitch has seen them.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Leoníd!
[LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH does not hear, being absorbed in the search,
and says, Sh....
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Theodore Ivánitch! What is the meaning of this? Did you
not see me disinfecting the whole hall, and now the whole kitchen is
infected, all the rye bread, the milk....
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I thought there would not be any danger if they
came here. The men have come on business. They have far to go, and are
from our village.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. That's the worst of it! They are from the Koursk
village, where people are dying of diphtheria like flies! But the
chief thing is, I ordered them out of the house!... Did I, or did I
not? (Approaches the others that have gathered round the PEASANTS.) Be
careful! Don't touch them--they are all infected with diphtheria!
[No one heeds her, and she steps aside in a dignified manner and
stands quietly waiting.
PETRÍSTCHEF (sniffs loudly). I don't know if it is diphtheria, but
there is some kind of infection in the air. Don't you notice it?
BETSY. Stop your nonsense! Vovo, which bag is it in?
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. That one, that one. He is getting near, very near!
PETRÍSTCHEF. Is it spirits divine, or spirits of wine?
BETSY. Now your cigarette comes in handy for once. Smoke closer,
closer to me.
[PETRÍSTCHEF leans over her and smokes at her.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. He's getting near, I tell you. Eh, what?
GROSSMAN (searches excitedly round the THIRD PEASANT). It is here; I
feel it is!
FAT LADY. Do you feel an effluence?
[GROSSMAN stoops and finds the spoon in the bag.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Ah! So that's where our spoon was. (To PEASANTS.)
Then that's the sort you are!
THIRD PEASANT. What sort? I didn't take your spoon! What are you
making out? I didn't take it, and my soul knows nothing about it. I
didn't take it--there! Let him do what he likes. I knew he came here
for no good. "Where's your bag?" says he. I didn't take it, the Lord
is my witness! (Crosses himself.) I didn't take it!
[The young people group round the PEASANT, laughing.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (angrily to his son). Always playing the fool! (To
the THIRD PEASANT.) Never mind, friend! We know you did not take it;
it was only an experiment.
GROSSMAN (removes bandage from his eyes, and pretends to be coming
to). Can I have a little water?
[All fuss round him.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Let's go straight from here into the coachman's
room. I've got a bitch there--épâtante!
BETSY. What a horrid word! Couldn't you say dog?
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. No. I can't say--Betsy is a man, épâtante. I should
have to say young woman; it's a parallel case. Eh, what? Márya
Konstantínovna, isn't it true? Good, eh?
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. Well, let us go.
[Exeunt MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA, BETSY, PETRÍSTCHEF, and VASÍLY
FAT LADY (to GROSSMAN). Well? how are you? Have you rested? (GROSSMAN
does not answer. To SAHÁTOF.) And you, Mr. Sahátof, did you feel the
SAHÁTOF. I felt nothing. Yes, it was very fine--very fine. Quite a
BARONESS.--Admirable! Ça ne le fait pas souffrir? 
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Pas le moins du monde.
PROFESSOR (to GROSSMAN). May I trouble you? (Hands him a thermometer.)
At the beginning of the experiment it was 37 decimal 2 degrees. 
(To DOCTOR.) That's right, I think? Would you mind feeling his pulse?
Some loss is inevitable.
DOCTOR (to GROSSMAN). Now then, sir, let's have your hand; we'll see,
[Takes out his watch and feels GROSSMAN'S pulse.
FAT LADY (to GROSSMAN). One moment! The condition you were in could
not be called sleep?
GROSSMAN (wearily). It was hypnosis.
SAHÁTOF. In that case, are we to understand that you hypnotised
GROSSMAN. And why not? An hypnotic state may ensue not only in
consequence of association--the sound of the tom-tom, for instance, in
Charcot's method--but by merely entering an hypnogenetic zone.
SAHÁTOF. Granting that, it would still be desirable to define what
hypnotism is, more exactly?
PROFESSOR. Hypnotism is a phenomenon resulting from the transmutation
of one energy into another.
GROSSMAN. Charcot does not so define it.
SAHÁTOF. A moment, just a moment! That is your definition, but
Liébault told me himself....
DOCTOR (lets go of GROSSMAN'S pulse). Ah, that's all right; well, now,
FAT LADY (interrupting). No, allow me! I agree with the Professor. And
here's the very best proof. After my illness, when I lay insensible, a
desire to speak came over me. In general I am of a silent disposition,
but then I was overcome by this desire to speak, and I spoke and
spoke, and I was told that I spoke in such a way that every one was
astonished! (To SAHÁTOF.) But I think I interrupted you?
SAHÁTOF (with dignity). Not at all. Pray continue.
DOCTOR. Pulse 82, and the temperature has risen three-tenths of a
PROFESSOR. There you are! That's a proof! That's just as it should be.
(Takes out pocket-book and writes.) 82, yes? And 37 and 5. When the
hypnotic state is induced, it invariably produces a heightened action
of the heart.
DOCTOR. I can, as a medical man, bear witness that your prognosis was
justified by the event.
PROFESSOR (to SAHÁTOF). You were saying?...
SAHÁTOF. I wished to say that Liébault told me himself that the
hypnotic is only one particular psychical state, increasing
susceptibility to suggestion.
PROFESSOR. That is so, but still the law of equivalents is the chief
GROSSMAN. Moreover, Liébault is far from being an authority, while
Charcot has studied the subject from all sides, and has proved that
hypnotism produced by a blow, a trauma....
[All talking together--
SAHÁTOF. Yes, but I don't reject Charcot's labor. I know him
also, I am only repeating what Liébault told me...
GROSSMAN (excitedly). There are 3000 patients together in the
Salpêtrière, and I have gone through the whole course.
PROFESSOR. Excuse me, gentlemen, but that is not the point.
FAT LADY (interrupting). One moment, I will explain it to you in two
words. When my husband was ill, all the doctors gave him up....
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. However, we had better go upstairs again. Baroness,
[Exeunt GROSSMAN, SAHÁTOF, PROFESSOR, DOCTOR, the FAT LADY, and
BARONESS, talking loudly and interrupting each other.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (catching hold of LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH'S arm). How often
have I asked you not to interfere in household matters! You think of
nothing but your nonsense, and the whole house is on my shoulders. You
will infect us all!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. What? How? I don't understand what you mean.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. How? Why, people ill of diphtheria sleep in the
kitchen, which is in constant communication with the whole house.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, but I....
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. What, I?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. I know nothing about it.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. It's your duty to know, if you are the head of the
family. Such things must not be done.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. But I never thought.... I thought....
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. It is sickening to listen to you!
[LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH remains silent.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (to THEODORE IVÁNITCH). Turn them out at once! They are
to leave my kitchen immediately! It is terrible! No one listens to me;
they do it out of spite.... I turn them out from there, and they bring
them in here! And with my illness.... (Gets more and more excited, and
at last begins to cry.) Doctor! Doctor! Peter Petróvitch!... He's gone
[Exit, sobbing, followed by LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH.
[All stand silent for a long time.
THIRD PEASANT. Botheration take them all! If one don't mind, the
police will be after one here. And I have never been to law in all my
born days. Let's go to some lodging-house, lads!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. (to TÁNYA). What are we to do?
TÁNYA. Never mind, Theodore Ivánitch, let them sleep with the
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. How can we do that? The coachman was complaining as
it is, that his place is full of dogs.
TÁNYA. Well, then, the porter's lodge.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. And supposing it's found out?
TÁNYA. It won't be found out! Don't trouble about that, Theodore
Ivánitch. How can one turn them out now, at night? They'll not find
anywhere to go to.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Well, do as you please. Only they must go away from
[PEASANTS take their bags.
DISCHARGED COOK. Oh those damned fiends! It's all their fat! Fiends!
SERVANTS' COOK. You be quiet there. Thank goodness they didn't see
TÁNYA. Well then, daddy, come along to the porter's lodge.
FIRST PEASANT. Well, but how about our business? How, for example,
about the applience of his hand to the signature? May we be in hopes?
TÁNYA. We'll see in an hour's time.
SECOND PEASANT. You'll do the trick?
TÁNYA (laughs). Yes, God willing!
Evening of the same day. The small drawing-room in LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH'S
house, where the séances are always held. LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH and the
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well then, shall we risk a séance with our new
PROFESSOR. Yes, certainly. He is a powerful medium, there is no doubt
about it. And it is especially desirable that the séance should take
place to-day with the same people. Grossman will certainly respond to
the influence of the mediumistic energy, and then the connection and
identity of the different phenomena will be still more evident. You
will see then that, if the medium is as strong as he was just now,
Grossman will vibrate.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Then I will send for Simon and ask those who wish
to attend to come in.
PROFESSOR. Yes, all right! I will just jot down a few notes.
[Takes out his note-book and writes.
SAHÁTOF. They have just settled down to whist in Anna Pávlovna's
drawing-room, and as I am not wanted there--and as I am interested in
your séance--I have put in an appearance here. But will there be a
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, certainly!
SAHÁTOF. In spite of the absence of Mr. Kaptchítch's mediumistic
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Vous avez la main heureuse.  Fancy, that very
peasant whom I mentioned to you this morning turns out to be an
SAHÁTOF. Dear me! Yes, that is peculiarly interesting!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, we tried a few preliminary experiments with
him just after dinner.
SAHÁTOF. So you've had time already to experiment, and to convince
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, perfectly! And he turns out to be an
exceptionally powerful medium.
SAHÁTOF (incredulously). Dear me!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. It turns out that it has long been noticed in the
servants' hall. When he sits down to table, the spoon springs into his
hand of its own accord! (To the PROFESSOR.) Had you heard about it?
PROFESSOR. No, I had not heard that detail.
SAHÁTOF (to the PROFESSOR). But still, you admit the possibility of
PROFESSOR. What phenomena?