Part 6 out of 6
SAHÁTOF. Well, spiritualistic, mediumistic, and supernatural phenomena
PROFESSOR. The question is, what do we consider supernatural? When,
not a living man but a piece of stone attracted a nail to itself, how
did the phenomena strike the first observers? As something natural? Or
SAHÁTOF. Well, of course; but phenomena such as the magnet attracting
iron always repeat themselves.
PROFESSOR. It is just the same in this case. The phenomenon repeats
itself and we experiment with it. And not only that, but we apply to
the phenomena we are investigating the laws common to other phenomena.
These phenomena seem supernatural only because their causes are
attributed to the medium himself. But that is where the mistake lies.
The phenomena are not caused by the medium, but by psychic energy
acting through a medium, and that is a very different thing. The whole
matter lies in the law of equivalents.
SAHÁTOF. Yes, certainly, but....
[Enter TÁNYA, who hides behind the hangings.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Only remember that we cannot reckon on any results
with certainty, with this medium any more than with Home or
Kaptchítch. We may not succeed, but on the other hand we may even have
SAHÁTOF. Materialisation even? What do you mean by materialisation?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Why, I mean that some one who is dead--say, your
father or your grandfather--may appear, take you by the hand, or give
you something; or else some one may suddenly rise into the air, as
happened to Alexéy Vladímiritch last time.
PROFESSOR. Of course, of course. But the chief thing is the
explanation of the phenomena, and the application to them of general
[Enter the FAT LADY.
FAT LADY. Anna Pávlovna has allowed me to join you.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Very pleased.
FAT LADY. Oh, how tired Grossman seems! He could scarcely hold his
cup. Did you notice (to the PROFESSOR) how pale he turned at the
moment he approached the hiding-place? I noticed it at once, and was
the first to mention it to Anna Pávlovna.
PROFESSOR. Undoubtedly,--loss of vital energy.
FAT LADY. Yes, it's just as I say, one should not abuse that sort of
thing. You know, a hypnotist once suggested to a friend of mine, Véra
Kónshin (oh, you know her, of course)--well, he suggested that she
should leave off smoking,--and her back began to ache!
PROFESSOR (trying to have his say). The temperature and the pulse
FAT LADY. One moment! Allow me! Well, I said to her: it's better to
smoke than to suffer so with one's nerves. Of course, smoking is
injurious; I should like to give it up myself, but, do what I will, I
can't! Once I managed not to smoke for a fortnight, but could hold out
PROFESSOR (again trying to speak). Clearly proves....
FAT LADY. Yes, no! Allow me, just one word! You say, "loss of
strength." And I was also going to say that, when I travelled with
post-horses ... the roads used to be dreadful in those days--you
don't remember--but I have noticed that all our nervousness comes from
railways! I, for instance, can't sleep while travelling; I cannot fall
asleep to save my life!
PROFESSOR (makes another attempt, which the FAT LADY baffles). The
loss of strength....
SAHÁTOF (smiling). Yes; oh yes!
[LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH rings.
FAT LADY. I am awake one night, and another, and a third, and still I
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Please tell Theodore to get everything ready for
the séance, and send Simon here--Simon, the butler's assistant,--do
GREGORY. Yes, sir.
PROFESSOR (to SAHÁTOF). The observation of the temperature and the
pulse have shown loss of vital energy. The same will happen in
consequence of the mediumistic phenomena. The law of the conservation
FAT LADY. Oh yes, yes; I was just going to say that I am very glad
that a simple peasant turns out to be a medium. That's very good. I
always did say that the Slavophils....
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Let's go into the drawing-room in the meantime.
FAT LADY. Allow me, just one word! The Slavophils are right; but I
always told my husband that one ought never to exaggerate anything!
"The golden mean," you know. What is the use of maintaining that the
common people are all perfect, when I have myself seen....
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Won't you come into the drawing-room?
FAT LADY. A boy--that high--who drank! I gave him a scolding at once.
And he was grateful to me afterwards. They are children, and, as I
always say, children need both love and severity!
[Exeunt all, all talking together.
[TÁNYA enters from behind the hangings.
TÁNYA. Oh, if it would only succeed!
[Begins fastening some threads.
[Enter BETSY hurriedly.
BETSY. Isn't papa here? (Looks inquiringly at TÁNYA.) What are you
TÁNYA. Oh, Miss Elizabeth, I have only just come; I only wished ...
only came in....
BETSY. But they are going to have a séance here directly (Notices
TÁNYA drawing in the threads, looks at her, and suddenly bursts out
laughing.) Tánya! Why, it's you who do it all? Now don't deny it. And
last time it was you too? Yes, it was, it was!
TÁNYA. Miss Elizabeth, dearest!
BETSY (delighted). Oh, that is a joke! Well, I never. But why do you
TÁNYA. Oh miss, dear miss, don't betray me!
BETSY. Not for the world! I'm awfully glad. Only tell me how you
TÁNYA. Well, I just hide, and then, when it's all dark, I come out and
do it. That's how.
BETSY (pointing to threads). And what is this for? You needn't tell
me. I see; you draw....
TÁNYA. Miss Elizabeth, darling! I will confess it, but only to you. I
used to do it just for fun, but now I mean business.
BETSY. What? How? What business?
TÁNYA. Well, you see, those peasants that came this morning, you saw
them. They want to buy some land, and your father won't sell it; well,
and Theodore Ivánitch, he says it's the spirits as forbid him. So I
have had a thought as....
BETSY. Oh, I see! Well, you are a clever girl! Do it, do it.... But
how will you manage it?
TÁNYA. Well, I thought, when they put out the lights, I'll at once
begin knocking and shying things about, touching their heads with the
threads, and at last I'll take the paper about the land and throw it
on the table. I've got it here.
BETSY. Well, and then?
TÁNYA. Why, don't you see? They will be astonished. The peasants had
the paper, and now it's here. I will teach....
BETSY. Why, of course! Simon is the medium to-day!
TÁNYA. Well, I'll teach him.... (Laughs so that she can't continue.)
I'll tell him to squeeze with his hands any one he can get hold of! Of
course, not your father--he'd never dare do that--but any one else;
he'll squeeze till it's signed.
BETSY (laughing). But that's not the way it is done. Mediums never do
TÁNYA. Oh, never mind. It's all one; I daresay it'll turn out all
[Enter THEODORE IVÁNITCH.
[Exit BETSY, making signs to TÁNYA.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Why are you here?
TÁNYA. It's you I want, Theodore Ivánitch, dear....
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Well, what is it?
TÁNYA. About that affair of mine as I spoke of.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH (laughs). I've made the match; yes, I've made the
match. The matter is settled; we have shaken hands on it, only not had
a drink on it.
TÁNYA (with a shriek). Never! So it's all right?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Don't I tell you so? He says, "I shall consult the
missus, and then, God willing...."
TÁNYA. Is that what he said? (Shrieks.) Dear Theodore Ivánitch, I'll
pray for you all the days of my life!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. All right! All right! Now is not the time. I've
been ordered to arrange the room for the séance.
TÁNYA. Let me help you. How's it to be arranged?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. How? Why, the table in the middle of the room--
chairs--the guitar--the accordion. The lamp is not wanted, only
TÁNYA (helps THEODORE IVÁNITCH to place the things). Is that right?
The guitar here, and here the inkstand. (Places it.) So?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Can it be true that they'll make Simon sit here?
TÁNYA. I suppose so; they've done it once.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Wonderful! (Puts on his pince-nez.) But is he
TÁNYA. How should I know?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Then, I'll tell you what....
TÁNYA. Yes, Theodore Ivánitch?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Go and take a nail-brush and some Pears' soap; you
may take mine ... and go and cut his claws and scrub his hands as
clean as possible.
TÁNYA. He can do it himself.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Well then, tell him to. And tell him to put on a
clean shirt as well.
TÁNYA. All right, Theodore Ivánitch.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH (sits down in an easy-chair). They're educated and
learned--Alexéy Vladímiritch now, he's a professor--and yet sometimes
one can't help doubting very much. The people's rude superstitions are
being abolished: hobgoblins, sorcerers, witches.... But if one
considers it, is not this equally superstitious? How is it possible
that the souls of the dead should come and talk, and play the guitar?
No! Some one is fooling them, or they are fooling themselves. And as
to this business with Simon--it's simply incomprehensible. (Looks at
an album.) Here's their spiritualistic album. How is it possible to
photograph a spirit? But here is the likeness of a Turk and Leoníd
Fyódoritch sitting by.... Extraordinary human weakness!
[Enter LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Is it all ready?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH (rising leisurely). Quite ready. (Smiles.) Only I
don't know about your new medium. I hope he won't disgrace you, Leoníd
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. No, I and Alexéy Vladímiritch have tested him. He
is a wonderfully powerful medium!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Well, I don't know. But is he clean enough? I don't
suppose you have thought of ordering him to wash his hands? It might
be rather inconvenient.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. His hands? Oh yes! They're not clean, you think?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. What can you expect? He's a peasant, and there will
be ladies present, and Márya Vasílevna.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. It will be all right.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. And then I have something to report to you.
Timothy, the coachman, complains that he can't keep things clean
because of the dogs.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (arranging the things on the table absentmindedly).
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. The three hounds that came for Vasíly Leoníditch
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (vexed). Tell Anna Pávlovna! She can do as she likes
about it. I have no time.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. But you know her weakness....
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. 'Tis just as she likes, let her do as she pleases.
As for him,--one never gets anything but unpleasantness from him.
Besides, I am busy.
[Enter SIMON, smiling; he has a sleeveless peasant's coat on.
SIMON. I was ordered to come.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, it's all right. Let me see your hands. That
will do, that will do very well! Well, then, my good fellow, you must
do just as you did before,--sit down, and give way to your mood. But
don't think at all.
SIMON. Why should I think? The more one thinks, the worse it is.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Just so, just so, exactly! The less conscious one
is, the greater is the power. Don't think, but give in to your mood.
If you wish to sleep, sleep; if you wish to walk, walk. Do you
SIMON. How could one help understanding? It's simple enough.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. But above all, don't be frightened. Because you
might be surprised yourself. You must understand that just as we live
here, so a whole world of invisible spirits live here also.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH (improving on what LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH has said).
Invisible feelings, do you understand?
SIMON (laughs). How can one help understanding! It's very plain as you
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. You may rise up in the air, or something of the
kind, but don't be frightened.
SIMON. Why should I be frightened? That won't matter at all.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well then, I'll go and call them all.... Is
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I think so.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. But the slates?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. They are downstairs. I'll bring them.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. All right then. So don't be afraid, but be at your
SIMON. Had I not better take off my coat? One would be more easy like.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Your coat? Oh no. Don't take that off.
SIMON. She tells me to do the same again, and she will again shy
things about. How isn't she afraid?
[Enter TÁNYA in her stockings and in a dress of the color of the
wall-paper. SIMON laughs.
TÁNYA. Shsh!... They'll hear! There, stick these matches on your
fingers as before. (Sticks them on.) Well, do you remember everything?
SIMON (bending his fingers in, one by one). First of all, wet the
matches and wave my hands about, that's one. Then make my teeth
chatter, like this ... that's two. But I've forgotten the third thing.
TÁNYA. And it's the third as is the chief thing. Don't forget as soon
as the paper falls on the table--I shall ring the little bell--then
you do like this.... Spread your arms out far and catch hold of some
one, whoever it is as sits nearest, and catch hold of him. And then
squeeze! (Laughs.) Whether it's a gentleman or a lady, it's all one,
you just squeeze 'em, and don't let 'em go,--as if it were in your
sleep, and chatter with your teeth, or else howl like this. (Howls
sotto-voce.) And when I begin to play on the guitar, then stretch
yourself as if you were waking up, you know.... Will you remember
SIMON. Yes, I'll remember, but it is too funny.
TÁNYA. But mind you don't laugh. Still, it won't matter much if you do
laugh; they'd think it was in your sleep. Only take care you don't
really fall asleep when they put out the lights.
SIMON. No fear, I'll pinch my ears.
TÁNYA. Well, then, Sim, darling, only mind do as I tell you, and don't
get frightened. He'll sign the paper, see if he don't! They're coming!
[Gets under the sofa.
[Enter GROSSMAN and the PROFESSOR, LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH and the FAT
LADY, the DOCTOR, SAHÁTOF and ANNA PÁVLOVNA. SIMON stands near
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Please come in, all you doubters! Though we have a
new and accidentally discovered medium, I expect very important
SAHÁTOF. That's very, very interesting.
FAT LADY (pointing to SIMON). Mais il est très bien! 
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Yes, as a butler's assistant, but hardly....
SAHÁTOF. Wives never have any faith in their husbands' work. You don't
believe in anything of this kind?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Of course not. Kaptchítch, it is true, has something
exceptional about him, but Heaven knows what all this is about!
FAT LADY. No, Anna Pávlovna, permit me, you can't decide it in such a
way. Before I was married, I once had a remarkable dream. Dreams, you
know, are often such that you don't know where they begin and where
they end; it was just such a dream that I....
[Enter VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH and PETRÍSTCHEF.
FAT LADY. And much was revealed to me by that dream. Nowadays the
young people (points to PETRÍSTCHEF and VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH) deny
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. But look here, you know--now I, for instance, never
deny anything! Eh, what?
[BETSY and MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA enter, and begin talking to
FAT LADY. And how can one deny the supernatural? They say it is
unreasonable. But what if one's reason is stupid; what then? There
now, on Garden Street, you know ... why, well, it appeared every
evening! My husband's brother--what do you call him? Not beau-frère--
what's the other name for it?--I never can remember the names of these
different relationships--well, he went there three nights running, and
still he saw nothing; so I said to him....
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, who is going to stay here?
FAT LADY. I! I!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (to DOCTOR). Do you mean to say you are going to stay?
DOCTOR. Yes; I must see, if only once, what it is that Alexéy
Vladímiritch has discovered in it. How can we deny anything without
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Then I am to take it to-night for certain?
DOCTOR. Take what?... Oh, the powder. Yes, it would perhaps be better.
Yes, yes, take it.... However, I shall come upstairs again.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Yes, please do. (Loud.) When it is over, mesdames et
messieurs, I shall expect you to come to me upstairs to rest from your
emotions, and then we will finish our rubber.
FAT LADY. Oh, certainly.
SAHÁTOF. Yes, thanks!
[Exit ANNA PÁVLOVNA.
BETSY (to PETRÍSTCHEF). You must stay, I tell you. I promise you
something extraordinary. Will you bet?
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. But you don't believe in it?
BETSY. To-day I do.
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA (to PETRÍSTCHEF). And do you believe?
PETRÍSTCHEF. "I can't believe, I cannot trust a heart for falsehood
framed." Still, if Elizabeth Leonídovna commands....
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Let us stay, Márya Konstantínovna. Eh, what? I
shall invent something épâtant.
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. No, you mustn't make me laugh. You know I can't
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH (loud). I remain!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (severely). But I beg those who remain not to joke
about it. It is a serious matter.
PETRÍSTCHEF. Do you hear? Well then, let's stay. Vovo, sit here, and
don't be too shy.
BETSY. Yes, it's all very well for you to laugh; but just wait till
you see what will happen.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Oh, but supposing it's true? Won't it be a go! Eh,
PETRÍSTCHEF (trembles). Oh, I'm afraid, I'm afraid! Márya
Konstantínovna, I'm afraid! My tootsies tremble.
BETSY (laughing). Not so loud.
[All sit down.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Take your seats, take your seats. Simon, sit down!
SIMON. Yes, sir.
[Sits down on the edge of the chair.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Sit properly.
PROFESSOR. Sit straight in the middle of the chair, and quite at your
[Arranges SIMON on his chair.
[BETSY, MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA and VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH laugh.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (raising his voice). I beg those who are going to
remain here not to behave frivolously, but to regard this matter
seriously, or bad results might follow. Do you hear, Vovo! If you
can't be quiet, go away!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Quiet, quiet!
[Hides behind FAT LADY.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Alexéy Vladímiritch, will you mesmerise him?
PROFESSOR. No; why should I do it when Antón Borísitch is here? He has
had far more practice and has more power in that department than I ...
GROSSMAN. Ladies and gentlemen, I am not, strictly speaking, a
spiritualist. I have only studied hypnotism. It is true I have studied
hypnotism in all its known manifestations; but what is called
spiritualism, is entirely unknown to me. When a subject is thrown into
a trance, I may expect the hypnotic phenomena known to me: lethargy,
abulia, anaesthesia, analgesia, catalepsy, and every kind of
susceptibility to suggestion. Here it is not these but other phenomena
we expect to observe. Therefore it would be well to know of what kind
are the phenomena we expect to witness, and what is their scientific
SAHÁTOF. I thoroughly agree with Mr. Grossman. Such an explanation
would be very interesting.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. I think Alexéy Vladímiritch will not refuse to give
us a short explanation.
PROFESSOR. Why not? I can give an explanation if it is desired. (To
the DOCTOR.) Will you kindly note his temperature and pulse? My
explanation must, of necessity, be cursory and brief.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, please; briefly, quite briefly.
DOCTOR. All right. (Takes out thermometer.) Now then, my lad....
[Places the thermometer.
SIMON. Yes, sir!
PROFESSOR (rising and addressing the FAT LADY--then reseating
himself). Ladies and gentlemen! The phenomenon we are investigating
to-night is regarded, on the one hand, as something new; and, on the
other, as something transcending the limits of natural conditions.
Neither view is correct. This phenomenon is not new but is as old as
the world; and it is not supernatural but is subject to the eternal
laws that govern all that exists. This phenomenon has been usually
defined as "intercourse with the spirit world." That definition is
inexact. Under such a definition the spirit world is contrasted with
the material world. But this is erroneous; there is no such contrast!
Both worlds are so closely connected that it is impossible to draw a
line of demarcation, separating the one from the other. We say matter
is composed of molecules....
PETRÍSTCHEF. Prosy matter!
[Whispering and laughter.
PROFESSOR (pauses, then continues). Molecules are composed of atoms,
but the atoms, having no extension, are in reality nothing but the
points of application of forces. Strictly speaking, not of forces but
of energy, that same energy which is as much a unity and just as
indestructible as matter. But matter, though one, has many different
aspects, and the same is true of energy. Till recently only four forms
of energy, convertible into one another, have been known to us:
energies known as the dynamic, the thermal, the electric, and the
chemic. But these four aspects of energy are far from exhausting all
the varieties of its manifestation. The forms in which energy may
manifest itself are very diverse, and it is one of these new and as
yet but little known phases of energy, that we are investigating
to-night. I refer to mediumistic energy.
[Renewed whispering and laughter among the young people.
PROFESSOR (stops and casts a severe look round). Mediumistic energy
has been known to mankind for ages: prophecy, presentiments, visions
and so on, are nothing but manifestations of mediumistic energy. The
manifestations produced by it have, I say, been known to mankind for
ages. But the energy itself has not been recognised as such till quite
recently--not till that medium, the vibrations of which cause the
manifestations of mediumistic energy, was recognised. In the same way
that the phenomena of light were inexplicable until the existence of
an imponderable substance--an ether--was recognised, so mediumistic
phenomena seemed mysterious until the now fully established fact was
recognised, that between the particles of ether there exists another
still more rarefied imponderable substance not subject to the law of
the three dimensions....
[Renewed laughter, whispers, and giggling.
PROFESSOR (again looks round severely). And just as mathematical
calculations have irrefutably proved the existence of imponderable
ether which gives rise to the phenomena of light and electricity, so
the successive investigations of the ingenious Hermann, of Schmidt,
and of Joseph Schmatzhofen, have confirmed beyond a doubt the
existence of a substance which fills the universe and may be called
FAT LADY. Ah, now I understand. I am so grateful....
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, but Alexéy Vladímiritch, could you not ...
condense it a little?
PROFESSOR (not heeding the remark). And so, as I have just had the
honor of mentioning to you, a succession of strictly scientific
experiments have made plain to us the laws of mediumistic phenomena.
These experiments have proved that, when certain individuals are
plunged into a hypnotic state (a state differing from ordinary sleep
only by the fact that man's physiological activity is not lowered by
the hypnotic influence but, on the contrary, is always heightened--as
we have recently witnessed), when, I say, any individual is plunged
into such a state, this always produces certain perturbations in the
spiritual ether--perturbations quite similar to those produced by
plunging a solid body into liquid matter. These perturbations are what
we call mediumistic phenomena....
[Laughter and whispers.
SAHÁTOF. That is quite comprehensible and correct; but if, as you are
kind enough to inform us, the plunging of the medium into a trance
produces perturbations of the spiritual ether, allow me to ask why (as
is usually supposed to be the case in spiritualistic séances) these
perturbations result in an activity on the part of the souls of dead
PROFESSOR. It is because the molecules of this spiritual ether are
nothing but the souls of the living, the dead, and the unborn, and any
vibration of the spiritual ether must inevitably cause a certain
vibration of its atoms. These atoms are nothing but human souls, which
enter into communication with one another by means of these movements.
FAT LADY (to SAHÁTOF). What is it that puzzles you? It is so
simple.... Thank you so, so much!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. I think everything has now been explained, and that
we may commence.
DOCTOR. The fellow is in a perfectly normal condition: temperature 37
decimal 2, pulse 74.
PROFESSOR (takes out his pocket-book and notes this down). What I have
just had the honor of explaining will be confirmed by the fact, which
we shall presently have an opportunity of observing, that after the
medium has been thrown into a trance his temperature and pulse will
inevitably rise, just as occurs in cases of hypnotism.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, yes. But excuse me a moment. I should like to
reply to Sergéy Ivánitch's question: How do we know we are in
communication with the souls of the dead? We know it because the
spirit that appears, plainly tells us--as simply as I am speaking to
you--who he is, and why he has come, and whether all is well with him!
At our last séance a Spaniard, Don Castillos, came to us, and he told
us everything. He told us who he was, and when he died, and that he
was suffering for having taken part in the Inquisition. He even told
us what was happening to him at the very time that he was speaking to
us, namely, that at the very time he was talking to us he had to be
born again on earth, and, therefore, could not continue his
conversation with us.... But you'll see for yourselves....
FAT LADY (interrupting). Oh, how interesting! Perhaps the Spaniard was
born in one of our houses and is a baby now!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Quite possibly.
PROFESSOR. I think it is time we began.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. I was only going to say....
PROFESSOR. It is getting late.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Very well. Then we will commence. Antón Borísitch,
be so good as to hypnotize the medium.
GROSSMAN. What method would you like me to use? There are several
methods. There is Braid's system, there is the Egyptian symbol, and
there is Charcot's system.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (to the PROFESSOR). I think it is quite immaterial.
GROSSMAN. Then I will make use of my own method, which I showed in
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. If you please!
[GROSSMAN waves his arms above SIMON. SIMON closes his eyes and
GROSSMAN (looking closely at him). He is falling asleep! He is asleep!
A remarkably rapid occurrence of hypnosis. The subject has evidently
already reached a state of anaesthesia. He is remarkable,--an
unusually impressionable subject, and might be subjected to
interesting experiments!... (Sits down, rises, sits down again.) Now
one might run a needle into his arm. If you like....
PROFESSOR (to LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH). Do you notice how the medium's
trance acts on Grossman? He is beginning to vibrate.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, yes ... can the lights be extinguished now?
SAHÁTOF. But why is darkness necessary?
PROFESSOR. Darkness? Because it is a condition of the manifestation of
mediumistic energy, just as a given temperature is a condition
necessary for certain manifestations of chemical or dynamic energy.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. But not always. Manifestations have been observed
by me, and by many others, both by candlelight and daylight.
PROFESSOR (interrupting). May the lights be put out?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, certainly. (Puts out candles.) Ladies and
gentlemen! attention, if you please.
[TÁNYA gets from under the sofa and takes hold of a thread tied
to a chandelier.
PETRÍSTCHEF. I like that Spaniard! Just in the midst of a
conversation--off he goes head downwards ... as the French say: piquer
une tête. 
BETSY. You just wait a bit, and see what will happen!
PETRÍSTCHEF. I have only one fear, and that is that Vovo may be moved
by the spirit to grunt like a pig!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Would you like me to? I will....
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Gentlemen! Silence, if you please!
[Silence. SIMON licks the matches on his fingers and rubs his
knuckles with them. Leoníd Fyódoritch. A light! Do you see the
SAHÁTOF. A light? Yes, yes, I see; but allow me....
FAT LADY. Where? Where? Oh, dear, I did not see it! Ah, there it is.
PROFESSOR (whispers to LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH, and points to GROSSMAN, who
is moving). Do you notice how he vibrates? It is the dual influence.
[The light appears again.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (to the PROFESSOR). It must be he--you know!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. A Greek, Nicholas. It is his light. Don't you think
so, Alexéy Vladímiritch?
SAHÁTOF. Who is this Greek, Nicholas?
PROFESSOR. A certain Greek, who was a monk at Constantinople under
Constantine and who has been visiting us lately.
FAT LADY. Where is he? Where is he? I don't see him.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. He is not yet visible ... Alexéy Vladímiritch, he
is particularly well disposed towards you. You question him.
PROFESSOR (in a peculiar voice). Nicholas! Is that you?
[TÁNYA raps twice on the wall.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (joyfully). It is he! It is he!
FAT LADY. Oh, dear! Oh! I shall go away!
SAHÁTOF. Why do you suppose it is he?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Why, the two knocks. It is an affirmative answer;
else all would have been silence.
[Silence. Suppressed giggling in the young people's corner.
TÁNYA throws a lampshade, pencil and penwiper upon the table.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (whispers). Do you notice, gentlemen, here is a
lamp-shade, and something else--a pencil!... Alexéy Vladímiritch, it
is a pencil!
PROFESSOR. All right, all right! I am watching both him and Grossman!
[GROSSMAN rises and feels the things that have fallen on the table.
SAHÁTOF. Excuse me, excuse me! I should like to see whether it is not
the medium who is doing it all himself?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Do you think so? Well, sit by him and hold his
hands. But you may be sure he is asleep.
SAHÁTOF (approaches, TÁNYA lets a thread touch his head. He is
frightened, and stoops). Ye ... ye ... yes! Strange, very strange!
[Takes hold of SIMON'S elbow. SIMON howls.
PROFESSOR (to LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH). Do you notice the effect of
Grossman's presence? It is a new phenomenon--I must note it....
[Runs out to note it down, and returns again.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes.... But we cannot leave Nicholas without an
answer. We must begin....
GROSSMAN (rises, approaches Simon and raises and lowers his arm). It
would be interesting to produce contraction! The subject is in
PROFESSOR (to LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH). Do you see? Do you see?
GROSSMAN. If you like....
DOCTOR. Now then, my dear sir, leave the management to Alexéy
Vladímiritch; the affair is turning out serious.
PROFESSOR. Leave him alone, he (referring to GROSSMAN) is talking in
FAT LADY. How glad I now am that I resolved to be present! It is
frightening, but all the same I am glad, for I always said to my
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Silence, if you please.
[TÁNYA draws a thread over the FAT LADY'S head.
FAT LADY. Aie!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. What? What is it?
FAT LADY. He took hold of my hair!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (whispers). Never mind, don't be afraid, give him
your hand. His hand will be cold, but I like it.
FAT LADY (hides her hands). Not for the world!
SAHÁTOF. Yes, it is strange, very strange!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. He is here and is seeking for intercourse. Who
wishes to put a question to him?
SAHÁTOF. I should like to put a question, if I may.
PROFESSOR. Please do.
SAHÁTOF. Do I believe or not?
[TÁNYA knocks twice.
PROFESSOR. The answer is affirmative.
SAHÁTOF. Allow me to ask again. Have I a ten rouble note in my pocket?
[TÁNYA knocks several times and passes a thread over SAHÁTOF'S head.
[Seizes the thread and breaks it.
PROFESSOR. I should ask those present not to ask indefinite or trivial
questions. It is unpleasant to him!
SAHÁTOF. No, but allow me! Here I have a thread in my hand!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. A thread? Hold it fast; that happens often, and not
only threads but sometimes even silk cords--very ancient ones!
SAHÁTOF. No--but where did this thread come from?
[TÁNYA throws a cushion at him.
SAHÁTOF. Wait a bit; wait! Something soft has hit me on the head.
Light a candle--there is something....
PROFESSOR. We beg of you not to interrupt the manifestations.
FAT LADY. For goodness' sake, don't interrupt! I should also like to
ask something. May I?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, if you like.
FAT LADY. I should like to ask about my digestion. May I? I want to
know what to take: aconite or belladonna?
[Silence, whispers among the young people; suddenly VASÍLY
LEONÍDITCH begins to cry like a baby: "ou-a, ou-a!" (Laughter.)
Holding their mouths and noses, the girls and PETRÍSTCHEF run
away bursting with laughter.
FAT LADY. Ah, that must be the monk who's been born again!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (beside himself with anger, whispers). One gets
nothing but tomfoolery from you! If you don't know how to behave
decently, go away!
[Exit VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Darkness and silence.
FAT LADY. Oh, what a pity! Now one can't ask any more! He is born!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Not at all. It is only Vovo's nonsense. But he is
here. Ask him.
PROFESSOR. That often happens. These jokes and ridicule are quite
usual occurrences. I expect he is still here. But we may ask. Leoníd
Fyódoritch, will you?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. No, you, if you please. This has upset me. So
unpleasant! Such want of tact!...
PROFESSOR. Very well.... Nicholas, are you here?
[TÁNYA raps twice and rings. SIMON roars, spreads his arms out,
seizes SAHÁTOF and the PROFESSOR--squeezing them.
PROFESSOR. What an unexpected phenomenon! The medium himself reacted
upon! This never happened before! Leoníd Fyódoritch, will you watch?
It is difficult for me to do so. He squeezes me so! Mind you observe
GROSSMAN! This needs the very greatest attention!
[TÁNYA throws the PEASANTS' paper on the table.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Something has fallen upon the table.
PROFESSOR. See what it is!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Paper! A folded paper!
[TÁNYA throws a travelling inkstand on the table.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. An inkstand!
[TÁNYA throws a pen.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. A pen!
[SIMON roars and squeezes.
PROFESSOR (crushed). Wait a bit, wait: a totally new manifestation!
The action proceeding not from the mediumistic energy produced, but
from the medium himself! However, open the inkstand, and put the pen
on the table, and he will write!
[TÁNYA goes behind LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH and strikes him on the head
with the guitar.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. He has struck me on the head! (Examining table.)
The pen is not writing yet and the paper remains folded.
PROFESSOR. See what the paper is, and quickly; evidently the dual
influence--his and Grossman's--has produced a perturbation!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (goes out and returns at once). Extraordinary! This
paper is an agreement with some peasants that I refused to sign this
morning and returned to the peasants. Probably he wants me to sign it?
PROFESSOR. Of course! Of course! But ask him.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Nicholas, do you wish....
[TÁNYA knocks twice.
PROFESSOR. Do you hear? It is quite evident!
[LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH takes the paper and pen and goes out. TÁNYA
knocks, plays on the guitar and the accordion, and then creeps
under the sofa. LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH returns. SIMON stretches
himself and coughs.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. He is waking up. We can light the candles.
PROFESSOR (hurriedly). Doctor, Doctor, please, his pulse and
temperature! You will see that a rise of both will be apparent.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (lights the candles). Well, what do you gentlemen
who were sceptical think of it now?
DOCTOR (goes up to SIMON and places thermometer). Now then my lad.
Well, have you had a nap? There, put that in there, and give me your
[Looks at his watch.
SAHÁTOF (shrugging his shoulders). I must admit that all that has
occurred cannot have been done by the medium. But the thread?... I
should like the thread explained.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. A thread! A thread! We have been witnessing
manifestations more important than a thread.
SAHÁTOF. I don't know. At all events, je réserve mon opinion.
FAT LADY (to SAHÁTOF). Oh, no, how can you say: "je réserve mon
opinion"? And the infant with the little wings? Didn't you see? At
first I thought it was only an illusion, but afterwards it became
clearer and clearer, like a live....
SAHÁTOF. I can only speak of what I have seen. I did not see that--
nothing of the kind.
FAT LADY. You don't mean to say so? Why, it was quite plainly visible!
And to the left there was a monk clothed in black bending over it....
SAHÁTOF (moves away. Aside). What exaggeration!
FAT LADY (addressing the DOCTOR). You must have seen it! It rose up
from your side.
[DOCTOR goes on counting the pulse without heeding her.
FAT LADY (to GROSSMAN). And that light, the light around it,
especially around its little face! And the expression so mild and
tender, something so heavenly!
[Smiles tenderly herself.
GROSSMAN. I saw phosphorescent light, and objects changed their
places, but I saw nothing more than that.
FAT LADY. Don't tell me! You don't mean it! It is simply that you
scientists of Charcot's school do not believe in a life beyond the
grave! As for me, no one could now make me disbelieve in a future
life--no one in the world!
[GROSSMAN moves away from her.
FAT LADY. No, no, whatever you may say, this is one of the happiest
moments of my life! When I heard Sarasate play, and now.... Yes! (No
one listens to her. She goes up to SIMON.) Now tell me, my friend,
what did you feel? Was it very trying?
SIMON (laughs). Yes, ma'm, just so.
FAT LADY. Still not unendurable?
SIMON. Just so, ma'm. (To LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH.) Am I to go?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, you may go.
DOCTOR (to the PROFESSOR). The pulse is the same, but the temperature
PROFESSOR. Lower! (Considers awhile, then suddenly divines the
conclusion.) It had to be so--it had to descend! The dual influence
crossing had to produce some kind of reflex action. Yes, that's it!
[Exeunt, all talking at once--
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. I'm only sorry we had no complete
materialisation. But still.... Come, gentlemen, let us go to the
FAT LADY. What specially struck me was when he flapped his wings,
and one saw how he rose!
GROSSMAN (to SAHÁTOF). If we had kept to hypnotism, we might have
produced a thorough state of epilepsy. The success might have
SAHÁTOF. It is very interesting, but not entirely convincing. That
is all I can say.
[Enter THEODORE IVÁNITCH.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH (with paper in his hand). Ah, Theodore, what a
remarkable séance we have had! It turns out that the peasants must
have the land on their own terms.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Dear me!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, indeed. (Showing paper.) Fancy, this paper
that I returned to them, suddenly appeared on the table! I have signed
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. How did it get there?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, it did get there!
[Exit. THEODORE IVÁNITCH follows him out.
TÁNYA (gets from under the sofa and laughs). Oh, dear, oh dear! Well,
I did get a fright when he got hold of the thread! (Shrieks.) Well,
anyhow, it's all right--he has signed it!
GREGORY. So it was you that was fooling them?
TÁNYA. What business is it of yours?
GREGORY. And do you think the missis will be pleased with you for it?
No, you bet; you're caught now! I'll tell them what tricks you're up
to, if you don't let me have my way!
TÁNYA. And you'll not get your way, and you'll not do me any harm!
The same scene as in Act I. The next day. Two liveried footmen,
THEODORE IVÁNITCH and GREGORY.
FIRST FOOTMAN (with grey whiskers). Yours is the third house to-day.
Thank goodness that all the at-homes are in this direction. Yours used
to be on Thursdays.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Yes, we changed to Saturday so as to be on the same
day as the Golóvkins and Grade von Grabes....
SECOND FOOTMAN. The Stcherbákofs do the thing well. There's
refreshments for the footmen every time they've a ball.
[The two PRINCESSES, mother and daughter, come down the stairs
accompanied by BETSY. The old PRINCESS looks in her note-book
and at her watch, and sits down on the settle. GREGORY puts on
YOUNG PRINCESS. Now, do come. Because, if you refuse, and Dodo
refuses, the whole thing will be spoilt.
BETSY. I don't know. I must certainly go to the Shoúbins. And then
there is the rehearsal.
YOUNG PRINCESS. You'll have plenty of time. Do, please. Ne nous fais
pas faux bond. Fédya and Koko will come.
BETSY. J'en ai par-dessus la tête de votre Koko.
YOUNG PRINCESS. I thought I should see him here. Ordinairement il est
BETSY. He is sure to come.
YOUNG PRINCESS. When I see you together, it always seems to me that he
has either just proposed or is just going to propose.
BETSY. Yes, I don't suppose it can be avoided. I shall have to go
through with it. And it is so unpleasant!
YOUNG PRINCESS. Poor Koko! He is head over ears in love.
BETSY. Cessez, les gens!
[YOUNG PRINCESS sits down, talking in whispers. GREGORY puts on
YOUNG PRINCESS. Well then, good-bye till this evening.
BETSY. I'll try to come.
OLD PRINCESS. Then tell your papa that I don't believe in anything of
the kind, but will come to see his new medium. Only he must let me
know when. Good afternoon, ma toute belle.
[Kisses BETSY, and exit, followed by her daughter. BETSY goes
GREGORY. I don't like putting on an old woman's overshoes for her; she
can't stoop, can't see her shoe for her stomach, and keeps poking her
foot in the wrong place. It's different with a young one; it's
pleasant to take her foot in one's hand.
SECOND FOOTMAN. Hear him! Making distinctions!
FIRST FOOTMAN. It's not for us footmen to make such distinctions.
GREGORY. Why shouldn't one make distinctions; are we not men? It's
they think we don't understand! Just now they were deep in their talk,
then they look at me, and at once it's "lay zhon!"
SECOND FOOTMAN. And what's that?
GREGORY. Oh, that means, "Don't talk, they understand!" It's the same
at table. But I understand! You say, there's a difference? I say there
FIRST FOOTMAN. There is a great difference for those who understand.
GREGORY. There is none at all. To-day I am a footman, and to-morrow I
may be living no worse than they are. Has it never happened that
they've married footmen? I'll go and have a smoke.
SECOND FOOTMAN. That's a bold young man you've got.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. A worthless fellow, not fit for service. He used to
be an office boy and has got spoilt. I advised them not to take him,
but the mistress liked him. He looks well on the carriage when they
FIRST FOOTMAN. I should like to send him to our Count; he'd put him in
his place! Oh, he don't like those scatterbrains. "If you're a
footman, be a footman and fulfil your calling." Such pride is not
[PETRÍSTCHEF comes running downstairs, and takes out a cigarette.
PETRÍSTCHEF (deep in thought). Let's see, my second is the same as my
first. Echo, a-co, co-coa. (Enter KOKO KLÍNGEN, wearing his
pince-nez.) Ko-ko, co-coa. Cocoa tin, where do you spring from?
KOKO KLÍNGEN. From the Stcherbákofs. You are always playing the
PETRÍSTCHEF. No, listen to my charade. My first is the same as my
second, my third may be cracked, my whole is like your pate.
KOKO KLÍNGEN. I give it up. I've no time.
PETRÍSTCHEF. Where else are you going?
KOKO KLÍNGEN. Where? Of course to the Ivins, to practice for the
concert. Then to the Shoúbins, and then to the rehearsal. You'll be
there too, won't you?
PETRÍSTCHEF. Most certainly. At the re-her-Sall and also at the
re-her-Sarah. Why, at first I was a savage, and now I am both a savage
and a general.
KOKO KLÍNGEN. How did yesterday's séance go off?
PETRÍSTCHEF. Screamingly funny! There was a peasant, and above all, it
was all in the dark. Vovo cried like an infant, the Professor defined,
and Márya Vasílevna refined. Such a lark! You ought to have been
KOKO KLÍNGEN. I'm afraid, mon cher. You have a way of getting off with
a jest, but I always feel that if I say a word they'll construe it
into a proposal. Et ça ne m'arrange pas du tout, du tout. Mais du
tout, du tout! 
PETRÍSTCHEF. Instead of a proposal, make a proposition, and receive a
sentence! Well, I shall go in to Vovo's. If you'll call for me, we can
go to the re-her-Sarah together.
KOKO KLÍNGEN. I can't think how you can be friends with such a fool.
He is so stupid--a regular blockhead!
PETRÍSTCHEF. And I am fond of him. I love Vovo, but ... "with a love
so strange, ne'er towards him the path untrod shall be"....
[Exit into Vovo's room.
[BETSY comes down with a LADY. KOKO bows significantly to BETSY.
BETSY (shaking KOKO'S hand without turning towards him. To LADY). You
BETSY. Baron Klíngen.... Why were you not here last night?
KOKO KLÍNGEN. I could not come, I was engaged.
BETSY. What a pity, it was so interesting! (Laughs.) You should have
seen what manifestations we had! Well, how is our charade getting on?
KOKO KLÍNGEN. Oh, the verses for mon second are ready. Nick composed
the verses, and I the music.
BETSY. What are they? What are they? Do tell me!
KOKO KLÍNGEN. Wait a minute; how does it go?... Oh, the knight sings:
"Oh, naught so beautiful as nature:
The Nautilus sails by.
Oh, naughty lass, oh, naughty lass!
Oh, nought, oh, nought! Oh, fie!"
LADY. I see, my second is "nought," and what is my first?
KOKO KLÍNGEN. My first is Aero, the name of a girl savage.
BETSY. Aero, you see, is a savage who wished to devour the object of
her love. (Laughs.) She goes about lamenting, and sings--
KOKO KLÍNGEN (interrupts)--
"How can I fight,"....
BETSY (chimes in)--
"Some one to chew I long.
I seeking go ...."
"But even so...."
"No one to chew can find."
"A raft sails by,"
"It cometh nigh;
Two generals upon it...."
"Two generals are we:
By fate's hard decree,
To this island we flee."
And then, the refrain--
"By fate's hard decree,
To this island we flee."
BETSY. But just think how silly!
KOKO KLÍNGEN. Yes, that's the charm of it!
LADY. And who is to be Aero?
BETSY. I am. And I have had a costume made, but mamma says it's "not
decent." And it is not a bit less decent than a ball dress. (To
THEODORE IVÁNITCH.) Is Bourdier's man here?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Yes, he is waiting in the kitchen.
LADY. Well, and how will you represent Aeronaut?
BETSY. Oh, you'll see. I don't want to spoil the pleasure for you. Au
[They bow. Exit LADY.
BETSY (to KOKO KLÍNGEN). Come up to mamma.
[BETSY and KOKO go upstairs. JACOB enters from servants'
quarters, carrying a tray with teacups, cakes, etc., and goes
panting across the stage.
JACOB (to the FOOTMEN). How d'you do? How d'you do?
JACOB (to THEODORE IVÁNITCH). Couldn't you tell Gregory to help a bit!
I'm ready to drop....
[Exit up the stairs.
FIRST FOOTMAN. That is a hard-working chap you've got there.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Yes, a good fellow. But there now--he doesn't
satisfy the mistress, she says his appearance is ungainly. And now
they've gone and told tales about him for letting some peasants into
the kitchen yesterday. It is a bad look-out: they may dismiss him. And
he is a good fellow.
SECOND FOOTMAN. What peasants were they?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Peasants that had come from our Koursk village to
buy some land. It was night, and they were our fellow-countrymen, one
of them the father of the butler's assistant. Well, so they were asked
into the kitchen. It so happened that there was thought-reading going
on. Something was hidden in the kitchen, and all the gentlefolk came
down, and the mistress saw the peasants. There was such a row! "How is
this," she says; "these people may be infected, and they are let into
the kitchen!".... She is terribly afraid of this infection.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Gregory, you go and help Jacob. I'll stay here. He
can't manage alone.
GREGORY. He's awkward, that's why he can't manage.
FIRST FOOTMAN. And what is this new mania they have got? This
infection!... So yours also is afraid of it?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. She fears it worse than fire! Our chief business,
nowadays, is fumigating, washing, and sprinkling.
FIRST FOOTMAN. I see. That's why there is such a stuffy smell here.
(With animation.) I don't know what we're coming to with these
infection notions. It's just detestable! They seem to have forgotten
the Lord. There's our master's sister, Princess Mosolóva, her daughter
was dying, and, will you believe it, neither father nor mother would
come near her! So she died without their having taken leave of her.
And the daughter cried, and called them to say good-bye--but they
didn't go! The doctor had discovered some infection or other! And yet
their own maid and a trained nurse were with her, and nothing happened
to them; they're still alive!
[Enter VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH and PETRÍSTCHEF from VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH'S
room, smoking cigarettes.
PETRÍSTCHEF. Come along then, only I must take Koko--Cocoanut, with
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Your Koko is a regular dolt; I can't bear him. A
hare-brained fellow, a regular gad-about! Without any kind of
occupation, eternally loafing around! Eh, what?
PETRÍSTCHEF. Well, anyhow, wait a bit, I must say goodbye.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. All right. And I will go and look at my dogs in the
coachman's room. I've got a dog there that's so savage, the coachman
said, he nearly ate him.
PETRÍSTCHEF. Who ate whom? Did the coachman really eat the dog?
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. You are always at it!
[Puts on outdoor things and goes out.
PETRÍSTCHEF (thoughtfully). Ma - kin - tosh, Co - co - tin.... Let's
[JACOB runs across the stage.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. What's the matter?
JACOB. There is no more thin bread and butter. I said....
SECOND FOOTMAN. And then our master's little son fell ill, and they
sent him at once to an hotel with his nurse, and there he died without
FIRST FOOTMAN. They don't seem to fear sin! I think you cannot escape
from God anywhere.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. That's what I think.
[JACOB runs upstairs with bread and butter.
FIRST FOOTMAN. One should consider too, that if we are to be afraid of
everybody like that, we'd better shut ourselves up within four walls,
as in a prison, and stick there!
[Enter TÁNYA; she bows to the FOOTMEN.
TÁNYA. Good afternoon.
TÁNYA. Theodore Ivánitch, I have a word to say to you.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Well, what?
TÁNYA. The peasants have come again, Theodore Ivánitch....
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Well? I gave the paper to Simon.
TÁNYA. I have given them the paper. They were that grateful! I can't
say how! Now they only ask you to take the money.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. But where are they?
TÁNYA. Here, by the porch.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. All right, I'll tell the master.
TÁNYA. I have another request to you, dear Theodore Ivánitch.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. What now?
TÁNYA. Why, don't you see, Theodore Ivánitch, I can't remain here any
longer. Ask them to let me go.
[Enter JACOB, running.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH (to JACOB). What d'you want?
JACOB. Another samovár, and oranges.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Ask the housekeeper.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH (to TÁNYA). How is that?
TÁNYA. Why, don't you see, my position is such....
JACOB (runs in). There are not enough oranges.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Serve up as many as you've got. (Exit JACOB.) Now's
not the time! Just see what a bustle we are in.
TÁNYA. But you know yourself, Theodore Ivánitch, there is no end to
this bustle; one might wait for ever--you know yourself--and my affair
is for life.... Dear Theodore Ivánitch, you have done me a good turn,
be a father to me now, choose the right moment and tell her, or else
she'll get angry and won't let me have my passport.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Where's the hurry?
TÁNYA. Why, Theodore Ivánitch, it's all settled now.... And I could go
to my godmother's and get ready, and then after Easter we'd get
married. Do tell her, dear Theodore Ivánitch!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Go away--this is not the place.
[An elderly GENTLEMAN comes downstairs, puts on overcoat, and
goes out, followed by the SECOND FOOTMAN.
[Exit TÁNYA. Enter JACOB.
JACOB. Just fancy, Theodore Ivánitch, it's too bad! She wants to
discharge me now! She says, "You break everything, and forget Frisk,
and you let the peasants into the kitchen against my orders!" And you
know very well that I knew nothing about it. Tatyána told me, "Take
them into the kitchen"; how could I tell whose order it was?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Did the mistress speak to you?
JACOB. She's just spoken. Do speak up for me, Theodore Ivánitch! You
see, my people in the country are only just getting on their feet, and
suppose I lose my place, when shall I get another? Theodore Ivánitch,
[ANNA PÁVLOVNA comes down with the old COUNTESS, whom she is
seeing off. The COUNTESS has false teeth and hair. The FIRST
FOOTMAN helps the COUNTESS into her outdoor things.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Oh, most certainly, of course! I am so deeply touched.
COUNTESS. If it were not for my illness, I should come oftener to see
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. You should really consult Peter Petróvitch. He is
rough, but nobody can soothe one as he does. He is so clear, so
COUNTESS. Oh no, I shall keep to the one I am used to.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Pray, take care of yourself.
COUNTESS. Merci, mille fois merci.
[GREGORY, dishevelled and excited, jumps out from the servants'
quarters. SIMON appears behind him in the doorway.
SIMON. You'd better leave her alone!
GREGORY. You rascal! I'll teach you how to fight, you scamp, you!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. What do you mean? Do you think you are in a
GREGORY. This coarse peasant makes life impossible for me.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (provoked). You've lost your senses. Don't you see? (To
COUNTESS.) Merci, mille fois merci. A mardi! 
[Exeunt COUNTESS and FIRST FOOTMAN.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (to GREGORY). What is the meaning of this?
GREGORY. Though I do occupy the position of a footman, still I won't
allow every peasant to hit me; I have my pride too.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Why, what has happened?
GREGORY. Why, this Simon of yours has got so brave, sitting with the
gentlemen, that he wants to fight!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Why? What for?
GREGORY. Heaven only knows!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (to SIMON). What is the meaning of it?
SIMON. Why does he bother her?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. What has happened?
SIMON (smiles). Well, you see, he is always catching hold of Tánya,
the lady's-maid, and she won't have it. Well, so I just moved him
aside a bit, just so, with my hand.
GREGORY. A nice little bit! He's almost caved my ribs in, and has torn
my dress-coat, and he says, "The same power as came over me yesterday
comes on me again," and he begins to squeeze me.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (to SIMON). How dare you fight in my house?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. May I explain it to you, ma'am? I must tell you
Simon is not indifferent to Tánya, and is engaged to her. And Gregory
--one must admit the truth--does not behave properly, nor honestly, to
her. Well, so I suppose Simon got angry with him.
GREGORY. Not at all! It is all his spite, because I have discovered
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. What trickery?
GREGORY. Why, at the séance. All those things, last night,--it was not
Simon but Tánya who did them! I saw her getting out from under the
sofa with my own eyes.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. What is that? From under the sofa?
GREGORY. I give you my word of honor. And it was she who threw the
paper on the table. If it had not been for her the paper would not
have been signed, nor the land sold to the peasants.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. And you saw it yourself?
GREGORY. With my own eyes. Shall I call her? She'll not deny it.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Yes, call her.
[Noise behind the scenes. The voice of the DOORKEEPER, "No, no,
you cannot." DOORKEEPER is seen at the front door, the three
PEASANTS rush in past him, the SECOND PEASANT first; the THIRD
one stumbles, falls on his nose, and catches hold of it.
DOORKEEPER. You must not go in!
SECOND PEASANT. Where's the harm? We are not doing anything wrong. We
only wish to pay the money!
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it; as by laying on the signature the
affair is come to a conclusion, we only wish to make payment with
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Wait a bit with your thanks. It was all done by fraud!
It is not settled yet. Not sold yet.... Leoníd.... Call Leoníd
[LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH enters, but, seeing his wife and the PEASANTS,
wishes to retreat.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. No, no, come here, please! I told you the land must not
be sold on credit, and everybody told you so, but you let yourself be
deceived like the veriest blockhead.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. How? I don't understand who is deceiving?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. You ought to be ashamed of yourself! You have grey
hair, and you let yourself be deceived and laughed at like a silly
boy. You grudge your son some three hundred roubles which his social
position demands, and let yourself be tricked of thousands--like a
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Now come, Annette, try to be calm.
FIRST PEASANT. We are only come about the acceptation of the sum, for
THIRD PEASANT (taking out the money). Let us finish the matter, for
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Wait, wait!
[Enter TÁNYA and GREGORY.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (angrily). You were in the small drawing-room during the
séance last night?
[TÁNYA looks around at THEODORE IVÁNITCH, LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH, and
SIMON, and sighs.
GREGORY. It's no use beating about the bush; I saw you myself....
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Tell me, were you there? I know all about it, so you'd
better confess! I'll not do anything to you. I only want to expose him
(pointing to LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH) your master.... Did you throw the
paper on the table?
TÁNYA. I don't know how to answer. Only one thing,--let me go home.
[Enter BETSY unobserved.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (to LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH). There, you see! You are being
made a fool of.
TÁNYA. Let me go home, Anna Pávlovna!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. No, my dear! You may have caused us a loss of thousands
of roubles. Land has been sold that ought not to be sold!
TÁNYA. Let me go, Anna Pávlovna!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. No; you'll have to answer for it! Such tricks won't do.
We'll have you up before the Justice of the Peace!
BETSY (comes forward). Let her go, mamma. Or, if you wish to have her
tried, you must have me tried too! She and I did it together.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Well, of course, if you have a hand in anything, what
can one expect but the very worst results!
[Enter the PROFESSOR.
PROFESSOR. How do you do, Anna Pávlovna? How do you do, Miss Betsy?
Leoníd Fyódoritch, I have brought you a report of the Thirteenth
Congress of Spiritualists at Chicago. An amazing speech by Schmidt!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Oh, that is interesting!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. I will tell you something much more interesting! It
turns out that both you and my husband were fooled by this girl! Betsy
takes it on herself, but that is only to annoy me. It was an
illiterate peasant girl who fooled you, and you believed it all.
There were no mediumistic phenomena last night; it was she (pointing
to TÁNYA) who did it!
PROFESSOR (taking off his overcoat). What do you mean?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. I mean that it was she who, in the dark, played on the
guitar and beat my husband on the head and performed all your idiotic
tricks--and she has just confessed!
PROFESSOR (smiling). What does that prove?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. It proves that your mediumism is--tomfoolery; that's
what it proves!
PROFESSOR. Because this young girl wished to deceive, we are to
conclude that mediumism is "tomfoolery," as you are pleased to express
it? (Smiles.) A curious conclusion! Very possibly this young girl may
have wished to deceive: that often occurs. She may even have done
something; but then, what she did--she did. But the manifestations of
mediumistic energy still remain manifestations of mediumistic energy!
It is even very probable that what this young girl did evoked (and so
to say solicited) the manifestation of mediumistic energy,--giving it
a definite form.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Another lecture!
PROFESSOR (sternly). You say, Anna Pávlovna, that this girl, and
perhaps this dear young lady also, did something; but the light we all
saw, and, in the first case the fall, and in the second the rise of
temperature, and Grossman's excitement and vibration--were those
things also done by this girl? And these are facts, Anna Pávlovna,
facts! No! Anna Pávlovna, there are things which must be investigated
and fully understood before they can be talked about, things too
serious, too serious....
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. And the child that Márya Vasílevna distinctly saw?
Why, I saw it too.... That could not have been done by this girl.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. You think yourself wise, but you are--a fool.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, I'm going.... Alexéy Vladímiritch, will you
[Exit into his study.
PROFESSOR (shrugging his shoulders, follows). Oh, how far, how far, we
still lag behind Western Europe!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (following LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH with her eyes). He has been
tricked like a fool, and he sees nothing! (To JACOB.) What do you
JACOB. How many persons am I to lay the table for?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. For how many?... Theodore Ivánitch! Let him give up the
silver plate to you. Be off, at once! It is all his fault! This man
will bring me to my grave. Last night he nearly starved the dog that
had done him no harm! And, as if that were not enough, he lets the
infected peasants into the kitchen, and now they are here again! It is
all his fault! Be off at once! Discharge him, discharge him! (To
SIMON.) And you, horrid peasant, if you dare to have rows in my house
again, I'll teach you!
SECOND PEASANT. All right, if he is a horrid peasant there's no good
keeping him; you'd better discharge him too, and there's an end of it.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA (while listening to him looks at THIRD PEASANT). Only
look! Why, he has a rash on his nose--a rash! He is ill; he is a
hotbed of infection!! Did I not give orders, yesterday, that they were
not to be allowed into the house, and here they are again? Drive them
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Then are we not to accept their money?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Their money? Oh yes, take their money; but they must be
turned out at once, especially this one! He is quite rotten!
THIRD PEASANT. That's not just, lady. God's my witness, it's not just!
You'd better ask my old woman, let's say, whether I am rotten! I'm
clear as crystal, let's say.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. He talks!... Off, off with him! It's all to spite
me!... Oh, I can't bear it, I can't!... Send for the doctor!
[Runs away, sobbing. Exit also JACOB and GREGORY.
TÁNYA (to BETSY). Miss Elizabeth, darling, what am I to do now?
BETSY. Never mind, you go with them and I'll arrange it all.
FIRST PEASANT. Well, your reverence, how about the reception of the
SECOND PEASANT. Let us settle up, and go.
THIRD PEASANT (fumbling with the packet of banknotes). Had I known,
I'd not have come for the world. It's worse than a fever!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH (to DOORKEEPER). Show them into my room. There's a
counting-board there. I'll receive their money. Now go.
DOORKEEPER. Come along.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. And it's Tánya you have to thank for it. But for
her you'd not have had the land.
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. As she made the proposal, so she put it
THIRD PEASANT. She's made men of us. Else what were we? We had so
little land, no room to let a hen out, let's say, not to mention the
cattle. Good-bye, dear! When you get to the village, come to us and
SECOND PEASANT. Let me get home and I'll start brewing the beer for
the wedding! You will come?
TÁNYA. Yes, I'll come, I'll come! (Shrieks.) Simon, this is fine,
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Well, Tánya, when you have your house I'll come to
visit you. Will you welcome me?
TÁNYA. Dear Theodore Ivánitch, just the same as we would our own
[Embraces and kisses him.
FOOTNOTES FOR FRUITS OF CULTURE
1. Economical balls at which the ladies are bound to appear in
dresses made of cotton materials.
2. The present value of the rouble is rather over fifty cents.
3. The Gypsy choirs are very popular in Moscow.
4. BETSY. Cease! You are becoming quite unbearable!.
5. PETRÍSTCHEF. I have C said (ceased), B said, and D said.
6. BARONESS. But tell me, please, is he paid for this?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. I really do not know.
BARONESS. But he is a gentleman?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Oh, yes!
BARONESS. It is almost miraculous. Isn't it? How does he manage
to find things?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. I really can't tell you. My husband will explain
it to you.... Excuse me....
8. BARONESS. Capital! Does it not cause him any pain?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Not the slightest.
9. He uses a Centigrade thermometer.
10. LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. You bring good luck.
11. FAT LADY. But he looks quite nice.
12. To take a header.
13. Do not disappoint us.
14. BETSY. I have more than enough of your Koko.
15. YOUNG PRINCESS. He is usually so very punctual....
16. BETSY. Cease; mind the servants!
17. And that won't suit me at all, at all! Not at all, at all!
18. Employers have charge of the servants' passports, and in this way
have a hold on them in case of misconduct.
19. It is customary for peasants to marry just after Easter, but when
spring has come and the field work begun, no marriages take place
among them till autumn. (See also THE POWER OF DARKNESS
20. COUNTESS. Thank you (for your hospitality), a thousand thanks
21. ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Thank you (for coming to see us), a thousand
thanks. Till next Tuesday!