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Collected Plays
Anton Chekhov









Translated, with an Introduction, by Julius West




The last few years have seen a large and generally unsystematic
mass of translations from the Russian flung at the heads and hearts
of English readers. The ready acceptance of Chekhov has been one of
the few successful features of this irresponsible output. He has
been welcomed by British critics with something like affection.
Bernard Shaw has several times remarked: "Every time I see a play
by Chekhov, I want to chuck all my own stuff into the fire."
Others, having no such valuable property to sacrifice on the altar
of Chekhov, have not hesitated to place him side by side with
Ibsen, and the other established institutions of the new theatre.
For these reasons it is pleasant to be able to chronicle the fact
that, by way of contrast with the casual treatment normally handed
out to Russian authors, the publishers are issuing the complete
dramatic works of this author. In 1912 they brought out a volume
containing four Chekhov plays, translated by Marian Fell. All the
dramatic works not included in her volume are to be found in the
present one. With the exception of Chekhov's masterpiece, "The
Cherry Orchard" (translated by the late Mr. George Calderon in
1912), none of these plays have been previously published in book
form in England or America.

It is not the business of a translator to attempt to outdo all
others in singing the praises of his raw material. This is a
dangerous process and may well lead, as it led Mr. Calderon, to
drawing the reader's attention to points of beauty not to be found
in the original. A few bibliographical details are equally
necessary, and permissible, and the elementary principles of
Chekhov criticism will also be found useful.

The very existence of "The High Road" (1884); probably the earliest
of its author's plays, will be unsuspected by English readers.
During Chekhov's lifetime it a sort of family legend, after his
death it became a family mystery. A copy was finally discovered
only last year in the Censor's office, yielded up, and published.
It had been sent in 1885 under the nom-de-plume "A. Chekhonte," and
it had failed to pass. The Censor, of the time being had scrawled
his opinion on the manuscript, "a depressing and dirty piece,--
cannot be licensed." The name of the gentleman who held this view--
Kaiser von Kugelgen--gives another reason for the educated
Russian's low opinion of German-sounding institutions. Baron von
Tuzenbach, the satisfactory person in "The Three Sisters," it will
be noted, finds it as well, while he is trying to secure the
favours of Irina, to declare that his German ancestry is fairly
remote. This is by way of parenthesis. "The High Road," found after
thirty years, is a most interesting document to the lover of
Chekhov. Every play he wrote in later years was either a one-act
farce or a four-act drama. [Note: "The Swan Song" may occur as an
exception. This, however, is more of a Shakespeare recitation than
anything else, and so neither here nor there.]

In "The High Road" we see, in an embryonic form, the whole later
method of the plays--the deliberate contrast between two strong
characters (Bortsov and Merik in this case), the careful
individualization of each person in a fairly large group by way of
an introduction to the main theme, the concealment of the
catastrophe, germ-wise, in the actual character of the characters,
and the of a distinctive group-atmosphere. It need scarcely be
stated that "The High Road" is not a "dirty" piece according to
Russian or to German standards; Chekhov was incapable of writing a
dirty play or story. For the rest, this piece differs from the
others in its presentation, not of Chekhov's favourite middle-classes,
but of the moujik, nourishing, in a particularly stuffy atmosphere,
an intense mysticism and an equally intense thirst for vodka.

"The Proposal" (1889) and "The Bear" (1890) may be taken as good
examples of the sort of humour admired by the average Russian. The
latter play, in another translation, was put on as a curtain-raiser
to a cinematograph entertainment at a London theatre in 1914; and
had quite a pleasant reception from a thoroughly Philistine
audience. The humour is very nearly of the variety most popular
over here, the psychology is a shade subtler. The Russian novelist
or dramatist takes to psychology as some of his fellow-countrymen
take to drink; in doing this he achieves fame by showing us what we
already know, and at the same time he kills his own creative power.
Chekhov just escaped the tragedy of suicide by introspection, and
was only enabled to do this by the possession of a sense of humour.
That is why we should not regard "The Bear," "The Wedding," or "The
Anniversary" as the work of a merely humorous young man, but as
the saving graces which made perfect "The Cherry Orchard."

"The Three Sisters" (1901) is said to act better than any other of
Chekhov's plays, and should surprise an English audience
exceedingly. It and "The Cherry Orchard" are the tragedies of doing
nothing. The three sisters have only one desire in the world, to go
to Moscow and live there. There is no reason on earth, economic,
sentimental, or other, why they should not pack their bags and take
the next train to Moscow. But they will not do it. They cannot do
it. And we know perfectly well that if they were transplanted
thither miraculously, they would be extremely unhappy as soon as
ever the excitement of the miracle had worn off. In the other play
Mme. Ranevsky can be saved from ruin if she will only consent to a
perfectly simple step--the sale of an estate. She cannot do this,
is ruined, and thrown out into the unsympathetic world. Chekhov is
the dramatist, not of action, but of inaction. The tragedy of
inaction is as overwhelming, when we understand it, as the tragedy
of an Othello, or a Lear, crushed by the wickedness of others. The
former is being enacted daily, but we do not stage it, we do not
know how. But who shall deny that the base of almost all human
unhappiness is just this inaction, manifesting itself in
slovenliness of thought and execution, education, and ideal?

The Russian, painfully conscious of his own weakness, has accepted
this point of view, and regards "The Cherry Orchard" as its master-study
in dramatic form. They speak of the palpitating hush which fell
upon the audience of the Moscow Art Theatre after the first fall of
the curtain at the first performance--a hush so intense as to make
Chekhov's friends undergo the initial emotions of assisting at a
vast theatrical failure. But the silence ryes almost a sob, to be
followed, when overcome, by an epic applause. And, a few months
later, Chekhov died.

This volume and that of Marian Fell--with which it is uniform--
contain all the dramatic works of Chekhov. It considered not worth
while to translate a few fragments published posthumously, or a
monologue "On the Evils of Tobacco"--a half humorous lecture by
"the husband of his wife;" which begins "Ladies, and in some
respects, gentlemen," as this is hardly dramatic work. There is
also a very short skit on the efficiency of provincial fire
brigades, which was obviously not intended for the stage and has
therefore been omitted.

Lastly, the scheme of transliteration employed has been that,
generally speaking, recommended by the Liverpool School of Russian
Studies. This is distinctly the best of those in the field, but as
it would compel one, e.g., to write a popular female name, "Marya,"
I have not treated it absolute respect. For the sake of uniformity
with Fell's volume, the author's name is spelt Tchekoff on the
title-page and cover.

J. W.


1 verst = 3600 feet = 2/3 mile (almost)
1 arshin = 28 inches
1 dessiatin = 2.7 acres
1 copeck = 1/4 d
1 rouble = 100 copecks = 2s. 1d.



TIHON EVSTIGNEYEV, the proprietor of a inn on the main road
SAVVA, an aged pilgrim
NAZAROVNA and EFIMOVNA, women pilgrims
FEDYA, a labourer
EGOR MERIK, a tramp
KUSMA, a driver

The action takes place in one of the provinces of Southern Russia


[The scene is laid in TIHON'S bar. On the right is the bar-counter
and shelves with bottles. At the back is a door leading out of the
house. Over it, on the outside, hangs a dirty red lantern. The
floor and the forms, which stand against the wall, are closely
occupied by pilgrims and passers-by. Many of them, for lack of
space, are sleeping as they sit. It is late at night. As the
curtain rises thunder is heard, and lightning is seen through the

[TIHON is behind the counter. FEDYA is half-lying in a heap on one
of the forms, and is quietly playing on a concertina. Next to him
is BORTSOV, wearing a shabby summer overcoat. SAVVA, NAZAROVNA, and
EFIMOVNA are stretched out on the floor by the benches.]

EFIMOVNA. [To NAZAROVNA] Give the old man a nudge dear! Can't get
any answer out of him.

NAZAROVNA. [Lifting the corner of a cloth covering of SAVVA'S face]
Are you alive or are you dead, you holy man?

SAVVA. Why should I be dead? I'm alive, mother! [Raises himself on
his elbow] Cover up my feet, there's a saint! That's it. A bit more
on the right one. That's it, mother. God be good to us.

NAZAROVNA. [Wrapping up SAVVA'S feet] Sleep, little father.

SAVVA. What sleep can I have? If only I had the patience to endure
this pain, mother; sleep's quite another matter. A sinner doesn't
deserve to be given rest. What's that noise, pilgrim-woman?

NAZAROVNA. God is sending a storm. The wind is wailing, and the
rain is pouring down, pouring down. All down the roof and into the
windows like dried peas. Do you hear? The windows of heaven are
opened ... [Thunder] Holy, holy, holy ...

FEDYA. And it roars and thunders, and rages, sad there's no end to
it! Hoooo ... it's like the noise of a forest. ... Hoooo. ... The
wind is wailing like a dog. ... [Shrinking back] It's cold! My
clothes are wet, it's all coining in through the open door ... you
might put me through a wringer. ... [Plays softly] My concertina's
damp, and so there's no music for you, my Orthodox brethren, or
else I'd give you such a concert, my word!--Something marvellous!
You can have a quadrille, or a polka, if you like, or some Russian
dance for two. ... I can do them all. In the town, where I was an
attendant at the Grand Hotel, I couldn't make any money, but I did
wonders on my concertina. And, I can play the guitar.

A VOICE FROM THE CORNER. A silly speech from a silly fool.

FEDYA. I can hear another of them. [Pause.]

NAZAROVNA. [To SAVVA] If you'd only lie where it was warm now,
old man, and warm your feet. [Pause.] Old man! Man of God! [Shakes
SAVVA] Are you going to die?

FEDYA. You ought to drink a little vodka, grandfather. Drink, and
it'll burn, burn in your stomach, and warm up your heart. Drink,

NAZAROVNA. Don't swank, young man! Perhaps the old man is giving
back his soul to God, or repenting for his sins, and you talk like
that, and play your concertina. ... Put it down! You've no shame!

FEDYA. And what are you sticking to him for? He can't do anything
and you ... with your old women's talk ... He can't say a word in
reply, and you're glad, and happy because he's listening to your
nonsense. ... You go on sleeping, grandfather; never mind her! Let
her talk, don't you take any notice of her. A woman's tongue is
the devil's broom--it will sweep the good man and the clever man
both out of the house. Don't you mind. ... [Waves his hands] But
it's thin you are, brother of mine! Terrible! Like a dead skeleton!
No life in you! Are you really dying?

SAVVA. Why should I die? Save me, O Lord, from dying in vain. ...
I'll suffer a little, and then get up with God's help. ... The
Mother of God won't let me die in a strange land. ... I'll die at

FEDYA. Are you from far off?

SAVVA. From Vologda. The town itself. ... I live there.

FEDYA. And where is this Vologda?

TIHON. The other side of Moscow. ...

FEDYA. Well, well, well. ... You have come a long way, old man! On

SAVVA. On foot, young man. I've been to Tihon of the Don, and I'm
going to the Holy Hills. [Note: On the Donetz, south-east of
Kharkov; a monastery containing a miraculous ikon.] ... From there,
if God wills it, to Odessa. ... They say you can get to Jerusalem
cheap from there, for twenty-ones roubles, they say. ...

FEDYA. And have you been to Moscow?

SAVVA. Rather! Five times. ...

FEDYA. Is it a good town? [Smokes] Well-standing?

Sews. There are many holy places there, young man. ... Where there
are many holy places it's always a good town. ...

BORTSOV. [Goes up to the counter, to TIHON] Once more, please!
For the sake of Christ, give it to me!

FEDYA. The chief thing about a town is that it should be clean. If
it's dusty, it must be watered; if it's dirty, it must be cleaned.
There ought to be big houses ... a theatre ... police ... cabs,
which ... I've lived in a town myself, I understand.

BORTSOV. Just a little glass. I'll pay you for it later.

TIHON. That's enough now.

BORTSOV. I ask you! Do be kind to me!

TIHON. Get away!

BORTSOV. You don't understand me. ... Understand me, you fool, if
there's a drop of brain in your peasant's wooden head, that it
isn't I who am asking you, but my inside, using the words you
understand, that's what's asking! My illness is what's asking!

TIHON. We don't understand anything. ... Get back!

BORTSOV. Because if I don't have a drink at once, just you
understand this, if I don't satisfy my needs, I may commit some
crime. God only knows what I might do! In the time you've kept this
place, you rascal, haven't you seen a lot of drunkards, and haven't
you yet got to understand what they're like? They're diseased! You
can do anything you like to them, but you must give them vodka!
Well, now, I implore you! Please! I humbly ask you! God only knows
how humbly!

TIHON. You can have the vodka if you pay for it.

BORTSOV. Where am I to get the money? I've drunk it all! Down to
the ground! What can I give you? I've only got this coat, but I
can't give you that. I've nothing on underneath. ... Would you like
my cap? [Takes it off and gives it to TIHON]

TIHON. [Looks it over] Hm. ... There are all sorts of caps. ... It
might be a sieve from the holes in it. ...

FEDYA. [Laughs] A gentleman's cap! You've got to take it off in
front of the mam'selles. How do you do, good-bye! How are you?

TIHON. [Returns the cap to BORTSOV] I wouldn't give anything for
it. It's muck.

BORTSOV. If you don't like it, then let me owe you for the drink!
I'll bring in your five copecks on my way back from town. You can
take it and choke yourself with it then! Choke yourself! I hope it
sticks in your throat! [Coughs] I hate you!

TIHON. [Banging the bar-counter with his fist] Why do you keep on
like that? What a man! What are you here for, you swindler?

BORTSOV. I want a drink! It's not I, it's my disease! Understand

TIHON. Don't you make me lose my temper, or you'll soon find
yourself outside!

BORTSOV. What am I to do? [Retires from the bar-counter] What am I
to do? [Is thoughtful.]

EFIMOVNA. It's the devil tormenting you. Don't you mind him, sir.
The damned one keeps whispering, "Drink! Drink!" And you answer
him, "I shan't drink! I shan't drink!" He'll go then.

FEDYA. It's drumming in his head. ... His stomach's leading him
on! [Laughs] Your houour's a happy man. Lie down and go to sleep!
What's the use of standing like a scarecrow in the middle of the
inn! This isn't an orchard!

BORTSOV. [Angrily] Shut up! Nobody spoke to you, you donkey.

FEDYA. Go on, go on! We've seen the like of you before! There's a
lot like you tramping the high road! As to being a donkey, you wait
till I've given you a clout on the ear and you'll howl worse than
the wind. Donkey yourself! Fool! [Pause] Scum!

NAZAROVNA. The old man may be saying a prayer, or giving up his
soul to God, and here are these unclean ones wrangling with one
another and saying all sorts of ... Have shame on yourselves!

FEDYA. Here, you cabbage-stalk, you keep quiet, even if you are in
a public-house. Just you behave like everybody else.

BORTSOV. What am I to do? What will become of me? How can I make
him understand? What else can I say to him? [To TIHON] The blood's
boiling in my chest! Uncle Tihon! [Weeps] Uncle Tihon!

SAWA. [Groans] I've got shooting-pains in my leg, like bullets of
fire. ... Little mother, pilgrim.

EFIMOVNA. What is it, little father?

SAVVA. Who's that crying?

EFIMOVNA. The gentleman.

SAVVA. Ask him to shed a tear for me, that I might die in Vologda.
Tearful prayers are heard.

BORTSOV. I'm not praying, grandfather! These aren't tears! Just
juice! My soul is crushed; and the juice is running. [Sits by
SAVVA] Juice! But you wouldn't understand! You, with your darkened
brain, wouldn't understand. You people are all in the dark!

SAVVA. Where will you find those who live in the light?

BORTSOV. They do exist, grandfather. ... They would understand!

SAVVA. Yes, yes, dear friend. ... The saints lived in the light. ...
They understood all our griefs. ... You needn't even tell them. ...
and they'll understand. ... Just by looking at your eyes. ... And
then you'll have such peace, as if you were never in grief at all--
it will all go!

FEDYA. And have you ever seen any saints?

SAVVA. It has happened, young man. ... There are many of all sorts
on this earth. Sinners, and servants of God.

BORTSOV. I don't understand all this. ... [Gets up quickly] What's
the use of talking when you don't understand, and what sort of a
brain have I now? I've only an instinct, a thirst! [Goes quickly to
the counter] Tihon, take my coat! Understand? [Tries to take it
off] My coat ...

TIHON. And what is there under your coat? [Looks under it] Your
naked body? Don't take it off, I shan't have it. ... I'm not going
to burden my soul with a sin.

[Enter MERIK.]

BORTSOV. Very well, I'll take the sin on myself! Do you agree?

MERIK. [In silence takes of his outer cloak and remains in a
sleeveless jacket. He carries an axe in his belt] A vagrant may
sweat where a bear will freeze. I am hot. [Puts his axe on the
floor and takes off his jacket] You get rid of a pailful of sweat
while you drag one leg out of the mud. And while you are dragging
it out, the other one goes farther in.

EFIMOVNA. Yes, that's true ... is the rain stopping, dear?

MERIK. [Glancing at EFIMOVNA] I don't talk to old women. [A pause.]

BORTSOV. [To TIHON] I'll take the sin on myself. Do you hear me or
don't you?

TIHON. I don't want to hear you, get away!

MERIK. It's as dark as if the sky was painted with pitch. You can't
see your own nose. And the rain beats into your face like a
snowstorm! [Picks up his clothes and axe.]

FEDYA. It's a good thing for the likes of us thieves. When the
cat's away the mice will play.

MERIK. Who says that?

FEDYA. Look and see ... before you forget.

MERIN. We'll make a note of it. ... [Goes up to TIHON] How do you
do, you with the large face! Don't you remember me.

TIHON. If I'm to remember every one of you drunkards that walks the
high road, I reckon I'd need ten holes in my forehead.

MERIK. Just look at me. ... [A pause.]

TIHON. Oh, yes; I remember. I knew you by your eyes! [Gives him his
hand] Andrey Polikarpov?

MERIK. I used to be Andrey Polikarpov, but now I am Egor Merik.

TIHON. Why's that?

MERIK. I call myself after whatever passport God gives me. I've
been Merik for two months. [Thunder] Rrrr. ... Go on thundering,
I'm not afraid! [Looks round] Any police here?

TIHON. What are you talking about, making mountains out of mole-hills? ...
The people here are all right ... The police are fast asleep in
their feather beds now. ... [Loudly] Orthodox brothers, mind your
pockets and your clothes, or you'll have to regret it. The man's
a rascal! He'll rob you!

MERIK. They can look out for their money, but as to their clothes--
I shan't touch them. I've nowhere to take them.

TIHON. Where's the devil taking you to?

MERIK. To Kuban.

TIHON. My word!

FEDYA. To Kuban? Really? [Sitting up] It's a fine place. You
wouldn't see such a country, brother, if you were to fall asleep
and dream for three years. They say the birds there, and the beasts
are--my God! The grass grows all the year round, the people are
good, and they've so much land they don't know what to do with it!
The authorities, they say ... a soldier was telling me the other
day ... give a hundred dessiatins ahead. There's happiness, God
strike me!

MERIK. Happiness. ... Happiness goes behind you. ... You don't see
it. It's as near as your elbow is, but you can't bite it. It's all
silly. ... [Looking round at the benches and the people] Like a lot
of prisoners. ... A poor lot.

EFIMOVNA. [To MERIK] What great, angry, eyes! There's an enemy in
you, young man. ... Don't you look at us!

MERIK. Yes, you're a poor lot here.

EFIMOVNA. Turn away! [Nudges SAVVA] Savva, darling, a wicked man is
looking at us. He'll do us harm, dear. [To MERIK] Turn away, I tell
you, you snake!

SAVVA. He won't touch us, mother, he won't touch us. ... God won't
let him.

MERIK. All right, Orthodox brothers! [Shrugs his shoulders] Be
quiet! You aren't asleep, you bandy-legged fools! Why don't you
say something?

EFIMOVNA. Take your great eyes away! Take away that devil's own

MERIK. Be quiet, you crooked old woman! I didn't come with the
devil's pride, but with kind words, wishing to honour your bitter
lot! You're huddled together like flies because of the cold--I'd
be sorry for you, speak kindly to you, pity your poverty, and here
you go grumbling away! [Goes up to FEDYA] Where are you from?

FEDYA. I live in these parts. I work at the Khamonyevsky brickworks.

MERIK. Get up.

FEDYA. [Raising himself] Well?

MERIK. Get up, right up. I'm going to lie down here.

FEDYA. What's that. ... It isn't your place, is it?

MERIK. Yes, mine. Go and lie on the ground!

FEDYA. You get out of this, you tramp. I'm not afraid of you.

MERIK. You're very quick with your tongue. ... Get up, and don't
talk about it! You'll be sorry for it, you silly.

TIHON. [To FEDYA] Don't contradict him, young man. Never mind.

FEDYA. What right have you? You stick out your fishy eyes and think
I'm afraid! [Picks up his belongings and stretches himself out on
the ground] You devil! [Lies down and covers himself all over.]

MERIK. [Stretching himself out on the bench] I don't expect you've
ever seen a devil or you wouldn't call me one. Devils aren't like
that. [Lies down, putting his axe next to him.] Lie down, little
brother axe ... let me cover you.

TIHON. Where did you get the axe from?

MERIK. Stole it. ... Stole it, and now I've got to fuss over it
like a child with a new toy; I don't like to throw it away, and
I've nowhere to put it. Like a beastly wife. ... Yes. ... [Covering
himself over] Devils aren't like that, brother.

FEDYA. [Uncovering his head] What are they like?

MERIK. Like steam, like air. ... Just blow into the air. [Blows]
They're like that, you can't see them.

A VOICE FROM THE CORNER. You can see them if you sit under a

MERIK. I've tried, but I didn't see any. ... Old women's tales, and
silly old men's, too. ... You won't see a devil or a ghost or a
corpse. ... Our eyes weren't made so that we could see everything. ...
When I was a boy, I used to walk in the woods at night on purpose
to see the demon of the woods. ... I'd shout and shout, and there
might be some spirit, I'd call for the demon of the woods and not
blink my eyes: I'd see all sorts of little things moving about, but
no demon. I used to go and walk about the churchyards at night, I
wanted to see the ghosts--but the women lie. I saw all sorts of
animals, but anything awful--not a sign. Our eyes weren't ...

THE VOICE FROM THE CORNER. Never mind, it does happen that you do
see. ... In our village a man was gutting a wild boar ... he was
separating the tripe when ... something jumped out at him!

SAVVA. [Raising himself] Little children, don't talk about these
unclean things! It's a sin, dears!

MERIK. Aaa ... greybeard! You skeleton! [Laughs] You needn't go to
the churchyard to see ghosts, when they get up from under the floor
to give advice to their relations. ... A sin! ... Don't you teach
people your silly notions! You're an ignorant lot of people living
in darkness. ... [Lights his pipe] My father was peasant and used
to be fond of teaching people. One night he stole a sack of apples
from the village priest, and he brings them along and tells us,
"Look, children, mind you don't eat any apples before Easter, it's
a sin." You're like that. ... You don't know what a devil is, but
you go calling people devils. ... Take this crooked old woman, for
instance. [Points to EFIMOVNA] She sees an enemy in me, but is her
time, for some woman's nonsense or other, she's given her soul to
the devil five times.

EFIMOVNA. Hoo, hoo, hoo. ... Gracious heavens! [Covers her face]
Little Savva!

TIHON. What are you frightening them for? A great pleasure! [The
door slams in the wind] Lord Jesus. ... The wind, the wind!

MERIK. [Stretching himself] Eh, to show my strength! [The door
slams again] If I could only measure myself against the wind! Shall
I tear the door down, or suppose I tear up the inn by the roots!
[Gets up and lies down again] How dull!

NAZAROVNA. You'd better pray, you heathen! Why are you so restless?

EFIMOVNA. Don't speak to him, leave him alone! He's looking at us
again. [To MERIK] Don't look at us, evil man! Your eyes are like
the eyes of a devil before cockcrow!

SAVVA. Let him look, pilgrims! You pray, and his eyes won't do you
any harm.

BORTSOV. No, I can't. It's too much for my strength! [Goes up to
the counter] Listen, Tihon, I ask you for the last time. ... Just
half a glass!

TIHON. [Shakes his head] The money!

BORTSOV. My God, haven't I told you! I've drunk it all! Where am I
to get it? And you won't go broke even if you do let me have a drop
of vodka on tick. A glass of it only costs you two copecks, and it
will save me from suffering! I am suffering! Understand! I'm in
misery, I'm suffering!

TIHON. Go and tell that to someone else, not to me. ... Go and ask
the Orthodox, perhaps they'll give you some for Christ's sake, if
they feel like it, but I'll only give bread for Christ's sake.

BORTSOV. You can rob those wretches yourself, I shan't. ... I won't
do it! I won't! Understand? [Hits the bar-counter with his fist] I
won't. [A pause.] Hm ... just wait. ... [Turns to the pilgrim
women] It's an idea, all the same, Orthodox ones! Spare five
copecks! My inside asks for it. I'm ill!

FEDYA. Oh, you swindler, with your "spare five copecks." Won't you
have some water?

BORTSOV. How I am degrading myself! I don't want it! I don't want
anything! I was joking!

MERIK. You won't get it out of him, sir. ... He's a famous
skinflint. ... Wait, I've got a five-copeck piece somewhere. ...
We'll have a glass between us--half each [Searches in his pockets]
The devil ... it's lost somewhere. ... Thought I heard it tinkling
just now in my pocket. ... No; no, it isn't there, brother, it's
your luck! [A pause.]

BORTSOV. But if I can't drink, I'll commit a crime or I'll kill
myself. ... What shall I do, my God! [Looks through the door] Shall
I go out, then? Out into this darkness, wherever my feet take me. ...

MERIK. Why don't you give him a sermon, you pilgrims? And you,
Tihon, why don't you drive him out? He hasn't paid you for his
night's accommodation. Chuck him out! Eh, the people are cruel
nowadays. There's no gentleness or kindness in them. ... A savage
people! A man is drowning and they shout to him: "Hurry up and
drown, we've got no time to look at you; we've got to go to work."
As to throwing him a rope--there's no worry about that. ... A rope
would cost money.

SAVVA. Don't talk, kind man!

MERIK. Quiet, old wolf! You're a savage race! Herods! Sellers of
your souls! [To TIHON] Come here, take off my boots! Look sharp now!

TIHON. Eh, he's let himself go I [Laughs] Awful, isn't it.

MERIK. Go on, do as you're told! Quick now! [Pause] Do you hear me,
or don't you? Am I talking to you or the wall? [Stands up]

TIHON. Well ... give over.

MERIK. I want you, you fleecer, to take the boots off me, a poor

TIHON. Well, well ... don't get excited. Here have a glass. ...
Have a drink, now!

MERIK. People, what do I want? Do I want him to stand me vodka, or
to take off my boots? Didn't I say it properly? [To TIHON] Didn't
you hear me rightly? I'll wait a moment, perhaps you'll hear me then.

[There is excitement among the pilgrims and tramps, who half-raise
themselves in order to look at TIHON and MERIK. They wait in silence.]

TIHON. The devil brought you here! [Comes out from behind the bar]
What a gentleman! Come on now. [Takes off MERIK'S boots] You child
of Cain ...

MERIK. That's right. Put them side by side. ... Like that ... you
can go now!

TIHON. [Returns to the bar-counter] You're too fond of being
clever. You do it again and I'll turn you out of the inn! Yes! [To
BORTSOV, who is approaching] You, again?

BORTSOV. Look here, suppose I give you something made of gold. ...
I will give it to you.

TIHON. What are you shaking for? Talk sense!

BORTSOV. It may be mean and wicked on my part, but what am I to do?
I'm doing this wicked thing, not reckoning on what's to come. ...
If I was tried for it, they'd let me off. Take it, only on
condition that you return it later, when I come back from town. I
give it to you in front of these witnesses. You will be my
witnesses! [Takes a gold medallion out from the breast of his coat]
Here it is. ... I ought to take the portrait out, but I've nowhere
to put it; I'm wet all over. ... Well, take the portrait, too! Only
mind this ... don't let your fingers touch that face. ... Please ...
I was rude to you, my dear fellow, I was a fool, but forgive me and ...
don't touch it with your fingers. ... Don't look at that face with
your eyes. [Gives TIHON the medallion.]

TIHON. [Examining it] Stolen property. ... All right, then, drink. ...
[Pours out vodka] Confound you.

BORTSOV. Only don't you touch it ... with your fingers. [Drinks
slowly, with feverish pauses.]

TIHON. [Opens the medallion] Hm ... a lady! ... Where did you get
hold of this?

MERIK. Let's have a look. [Goes to the bar] Let's see.

TIHON. [Pushes his hand away] Where are you going to? You look
somewhere else!

FEDYA. [Gets up and comes to TIHON] I want to look too!

[Several of the tramps, etc., approach the bar and form a group.
MERIK grips TIHON's hand firmly with both his, looks at the
portrait, in the medallion in silence. A pause.]

MERIK. A pretty she-devil. A real lady. ...

FEDYA. A real lady. ... Look at her cheeks, her eyes. ... Open your
hand, I can't see. Hair coming down to her waist. ... It is
lifelike! She might be going to say something. ... [Pause.]

MERIK. It's destruction for a weak man. A woman like that gets a
hold on one and ... [Waves his hand] you're done for!

[KUSMA'S voice is heard. "Trrr. ... Stop, you brutes!" Enter KUSMA.]

KUSMA. There stands an inn upon my way. Shall I drive or walk past
it, say? You can pass your own father and not notice him, but you
can see an inn in the dark a hundred versts away. Make way, if you
believe in God! Hullo, there! [Planks a five-copeck piece down on
the counter] A glass of real Madeira! Quick!

FEDYA. Oh, you devil!

TIHON. Don't wave your arms about, or you'll hit somebody.

KUSMA. God gave us arms to wave about. Poor sugary things, you're
half-melted. You're frightened of the rain, poor delicate things.

EFIMOVNA. You may well get frightened, good man, if you're caught
on your way in a night like this. Now, thank God, it's all right,
there are many villages and houses where you can shelter from the
weather, but before that there weren't any. Oh, Lord, it was bad!
You walk a hundred versts, and not only isn't there a village; or a
house, but you don't even see a dry stick. So you sleep on the
ground. ...

KUSMA. Have you been long on this earth, old woman?

EFIMOVNA. Over seventy years, little father.

KUSMA. Over seventy years! You'll soon come to crow's years. [Looks
at BORTSOV] And what sort of a raisin is this? [Staring at BORTSOV]
Sir! [BORTSOV recognizes KUSMA and retires in confusion to a corner
of the room, where he sits on a bench] Semyon Sergeyevitch! Is that
you, or isn't it? Eh? What are you doing in this place? It's not
the sort of place for you, is it?

BORTSOV. Be quiet!

MERIK. [To KUSMA] Who is it?

KUSMA. A miserable sufferer. [Paces irritably by the counter]
Eh? In an inn, my goodness! Tattered! Drunk! I'm upset, brothers ...
upset. ... [To MERIK, in an undertone] It's my master ... our
landlord. Semyon Sergeyevitch and Mr. Bortsov. ... Have you ever
seen such a state? What does he look like? Just ... it's the drink
that brought him to this. ... Give me some more! [Drinks] I come
from his village, Bortsovka; you may have heard of it, it's 200
versts from here, in the Ergovsky district. We used to be his
father's serfs. ... What a shame!

MERIK. Was he rich?

KUSMA. Very.

MERIK. Did he drink it all?

KUSMA. No, my friend, it was something else. ... He used to be
great and rich and sober. ... [To TIHON] Why you yourself used to
see him riding, as he used to, past this inn, on his way to the
town. Such bold and noble horses! A carriage on springs, of the
best quality! He used to own five troikas, brother. ... Five years
ago, I remember, he cam here driving two horses from Mikishinsky,
and he paid with a five-rouble piece. ... I haven't the time, he
says, to wait for the change. ... There!

MERIK. His brain's gone, I suppose.

KUSMA. His brain's all right. ... It all happened because of his
cowardice! From too much fat. First of all, children, because of a
woman. ... He fell in love with a woman of the town, and it seemed
to him that there wasn't any more beautiful thing in the wide
world. A fool may love as much as a wise man. The girl's people
were all right. ... But she wasn't exactly loose, but just ...
giddy ... always changing her mind! Always winking at one! Always
laughing and laughing. ... No sense at all. The gentry like that,
they think that's nice, but we moujiks would soon chuck her out. ...
Well, he fell in love, and his luck ran out. He began to keep
company with her, one thing led to another ... they used to go out
in a boat all night, and play pianos. ...

BORTSOV. Don't tell them, Kusma! Why should you? What has my life
got to do with them?

KUSMA. Forgive me, your honour, I'm only telling them a little ...
what does it matter, anyway. ... I'm shaking all over. Pour out
some more. [Drinks.]

MERIK. [In a semitone] And did she love him?

KUSMA. [In a semitone which gradually becomes his ordinary voice]
How shouldn't she? He was a man of means. ... Of course you'll fall
in love when the man has a thousand dessiatins and money to burn. ...
He was a solid, dignified, sober gentleman ... always the same,
like this ... give me your hand [Takes MERIK'S hand] "How do you do
and good-bye, do me the favour." Well, I was going one evening past
his garden--and what a garden, brother, versts of it--I was going
along quietly, and I look and see the two of them sitting on a seat
and kissing each other. [Imitates the sound] He kisses her once,
and the snake gives him back two. ... He was holding her white,
little hand, and she was all fiery and kept on getting closer and
closer, too. ... "I love you," she says. And he, like one of the
damned, walks about from one place to another and brags, the
coward, about his happiness. ... Gives one man a rouble, and two to
another. ... Gives me money for a horse. Let off everybody's debts. ...

BORTSOV. Oh, why tell them all about it? These people haven't any
sympathy. ... It hurts!

KUSMA. It's nothing, sir! They asked me! Why shouldn't I tell them?
But if you are angry I won't ... I won't. ... What do I care for
them. ... [Post-bells are heard.]

FEDYA. Don't shout; tell us quietly. ...

KUSMA. I'll tell you quietly. ... He doesn't want me to, but it
can't be helped. ... But there's nothing more to tell. They got
married, that's all. There was nothing else. Pour out another drop
for Kusma the stony! [Drinks] I don't like people getting drunk!
Why the time the wedding took place, when the gentlefolk sat down
to supper afterwards, she went off in a carriage ... [Whispers] To
the town, to her lover, a lawyer. ... Eh? What do you think of her
now? Just at the very moment! She would be let off lightly if she
were killed for it!

MERIK. [Thoughtfully] Well ... what happened then?

KUSMA. He went mad. ... As you see, he started with a fly, as they
say, and now it's grown to a bumble-bee. It was a fly then, and
now--it's a bumble-bee. ... And he still loves her. Look at him, he
loves her! I expect he's walking now to the town to get a glimpse
of her with one eye. ... He'll get a glimpse of her, and go back. ...

[The post has driven up to the in.. The POSTMAN enters and has a

TIHON. The post's late to-day!

[The POSTMAN pays in silence and goes out. The post drives off, the
bells ringing.]

A VOICE FROM THE CORNER. One could rob the post in weather like
this--easy as spitting.

MERIK. I've been alive thirty-five years and I haven't robbed the
post once. ... [Pause] It's gone now ... too late, too late. ...

KUSMA. Do you want to smell the inside of a prison?

MERIK. People rob and don't go to prison. And if I do go!
[Suddenly] What else?

KUSMA. Do you mean that unfortunate?

MERIK. Who else?

KUSMA. The second reason, brothers, why he was ruined was because
of his brother-in-law, his sister's husband. ... He took it into
his head to stand surety at the bank for 30,000 roubles for his
brother-in-law. The brother-in-law's a thief. ... The swindler
knows which side his bread's buttered and won't budge an inch. ...
So he doesn't pay up. ... So our man had to pay up the whole thirty
thousand. [Sighs] The fool is suffering for his folly. His wife's
got children now by the lawyer and the brother-in-law has bought an
estate near Poltava, and our man goes round inns like a fool, and
complains to the likes of us: "I've lost all faith, brothers! I
can't believe in anybody now!" It's cowardly! Every man has his
grief, a snake that sucks at his heart, and does that mean that he
must drink? Take our village elder, for example. His wife plays
about with the schoolmaster in broad daylight, and spends his money
on drink, .but the elder walks about smiling to himself. He's just
a little thinner ...

TIHON. [Sighs] When God gives a man strength. ...

KUSMA. There's all sorts of strength, that's true. ... Well? How
much does it come to? [Pays] Take your pound of flesh! Good-bye,
children! Good-night and pleasant dreams! It's time I hurried off.
I'm bringing my lady a midwife from the hospital. ... She must be
getting wet with waiting, poor thing. ... [Runs out. A pause.]

TIHON. Oh, you! Unhappy man, come and drink this! [Pours out.]

BORTSOV. [Comes up to the bar hesitatingly and drinks] That means I
now owe you for two glasses.

TIHON. You don't owe me anything? Just drink and drown your sorrows!

FEDYA. Drink mine, too, sir! Oh! [Throws down a five-copeck piece]
If you drink, you die; if you don't drink, you die. It's good not
to drink vodka, but by God you're easier when you've got some!
Vodka takes grief away. ... It is hot!

BORTSOV. Boo! The heat!

MERIK. Dive it here! [Takes the medallion from TIHON and examines
her portrait] Hm. Ran off after the wedding. What a woman!

A VOICE FROM THE CORNER. Pour him out another glass, Tihon. Let him
drink mine, too.

MERIK. [Dashes the medallion to the ground] Curse her! [Goes
quickly to his place and lies down, face to the wall. General

BORTSOV. Here, what's that? [Picks up the medallion] How dare you,
you beast? What right have you? [Tearfully] Do you want me to kill
you? You moujik! You boor!

TIHON. Don't be angry, sir. ... It isn't glass, it isn't
broken. ... Have another drink and go to sleep. [Pours out] Here
I've been listening to you all, and when I ought to have locked up
long ago. [Goes and looks door leading out.]

BORTSOV. [Drinks] How dare he? The fool! [to MERIK] Do you
understand? You're a fool, a donkey!

SAVVA. Children! If you please! Stop that talking! What's the good
of making a noise? Let people go to sleep.

TIHON. Lie down, lie down ... be quiet! [Goes behind the counter
and locks the till] It's time to sleep.

FEDYA. It's time! [Lies down] Pleasant dreams, brothers!

MERIK. [Gets up and spreads his short fur and coat the bench] Come
on, lie down, sir.

TIHON. And where will you sleep.

MERIK. Oh, anywhere. ... The floor will do. ... [Spreads a coat on
the floor] It's all one to me [Puts the axe by him] It would be
torture for him to sleep on the floor. He's used to silk and down. ...

TIHON. [To BORTSOV] Lie down, your honour! You've looked at that
portrait long enough. [Puts out a candle] Throw it away!

BORTSOV. [Swaying about] Where can I lie down?

TIHON. In the tramp's place! Didn't you hear him giving it up to

BORTSOV. [Going up to the vacant place] I'm a bit ... drunk ...
after all that. ... Is this it? ... Do I lie down here? Eh?

TIHON. Yes, yes, lie down, don't be afraid. [Stretches himself out
on the counter.]

BORTSOV. [Lying down] I'm ... drunk. ... Everything's going round. ...
[Opens the medallion] Haven't you a little candle? [Pause] You're a
queer little woman Masha. ... Looking at me out of the frame and
laughing. ... [Laughs] I'm drunk! And should you laugh at a man
because he's drunk? You look out, as Schastlivtsev says, and ...
love the drunkard.

FEDYA. How the wind howls. It's dreary!

BORTSOV. [Laughs] What a woman. ... Why do you keep on going round?
I can't catch you!

MERIK. He's wandering. Looked too long at the portrait. [Laughs]
What a business! Educated people go and invent all sorts of
machines and medicines, but there hasn't yet been a man wise enough
to invent a medicine against the female sex. ... They try to cure
every sort of disease, and it never occurs to them that more people
die of women than of disease. ... Sly, stingy, cruel, brainless. ...
The mother-in-law torments the bride and the bride makes things
square by swindling the husband ... and there's no end to it. ...

TIHON. The women have ruffled his hair for him, and so he's

MERIK. It isn't only I. ... From the beginning of the ages, since
the world has been in existence, people have complained. ... It's
not for nothing that in the songs and stories, the devil and the
woman are put side by side. ... Not for nothing! It's half true, at
any rate ... [Pause] Here's the gentleman playing the fool, but I
had more sense, didn't I, when I left my father and mother, and
became a tramp?

FEDYA. Because of women?

MERIK. Just like the gentleman ... I walked about like one of the
damned, bewitched, blessing my stars ... on fire day and night,
until at last my eyes were opened ... It wasn't love, but just a
fraud. ...

FEDYA. What did you do to her?

MERIK. Never you mind. ... [Pause] Do you think I killed her? ...
I wouldn't do it. ... If you kill, you are sorry for it. ... She
can live and be happy! If only I'd never set eyes on you, or if I
could only forget you, you viper's brood! [A knocking at the door.]

TIHON. Whom have the devils brought. ... Who's there? [Knocking]
Who knocks? [Gets up and goes to the door] Who knocks? Go away,
we've locked up!

A VOICE. Please let me in, Tihon. The carriage-spring's broken! Be
a father to me and help me! If I only had a little string to tie it
round with, we'd get there somehow or other.

TIHON. Who are you?

THE VOICE. My lady is going to Varsonofyev from the town. ... It's
only five versts farther on . ... Do be a good man and help!

TIHON. Go and tell the lady that if she pays ten roubles she can
have her string and we'll mend the spring.

THE VOICE. Have you gone mad, or what? Ten roubles! You mad dog!
Profiting by our misfortunes!

TIHON. Just as you like. ... You needn't if you don't want to.

THE VOICE. Very well, wait a bit. [Pause] She says, all right.

TIHON. Pleased to hear it!

[Opens door. The COACHMAN enters.]

COACHMAN. Good evening, Orthodox people! Well, give me the string!
Quick! Who'll go and help us, children? There'll be something left
over for your trouble!

TIHON. There won't be anything left over. ... Let them sleep, the
two of us can manage.

COACHMAN. Foo, I am tired! It's cold, and there's not a dry spot in
all the mud. ... Another thing, dear. ... Have you got a little
room in here for the lady to warm herself in? The carriage is all
on one side, she can't stay in it. ...

TIHON. What does she want a room for? She can warm herself in here,
if she's cold. ... We'll find a place [Clears a space next to
BORTSOV] Get up, get up! Just lie on the floor for an hour, and let
the lady get warm. [To BORTSOV] Get up, your honour! Sit up!
[BORTSOV sits up] Here's a place for you. [Exit COACHMAN.]

FEDYA. Here's a visitor for you, the devil's brought her! Now
there'll be no sleep before daylight.

TIHON. I'm sorry I didn't ask for fifteen. ... She'd have given
them. ... [Stands expectantly before the door] You're a delicate
sort of people, I must say. [Enter MARIA EGOROVNA, followed by the
COACHMAN. TIHON bows.] Please, your highness! Our room is very
humble, full of blackbeetles! But don't disdain it!

MARIA EGOROVNA. I can't see anything. ... Which way do I go?

TIHON. This way, your highness! [Leads her to the place next to
BORTSOV] This way, please. [Blows on the place] I haven't any
separate rooms, excuse me, but don't you be afraid, madam, the
people here are good and quiet. ...

MARIA EGOROVNA. [Sits next to BORTSOV] How awfully stuffy! Open the
door, at any rate!

TIHON. Yes, madam. [Runs and opens the door wide.]

MARIA. We're freezing, and you open the door! [Gets up and slams
it] Who are you to be giving orders? [Lies down]

TIHON. Excuse me, your highness, but we've a little fool here ... a
bit cracked. ... But don't you be frightened, he won't do you any
harm. ... Only you must excuse me, madam, I can't do this for ten
roubles. ... Make it fifteen.

MARIA EGOROVNA. Very well, only be quick.

TIHON. This minute ... this very instant. [Drags some string out
from under the counter] This minute. [A pause.]

BORTSOV. [Looking at MARIA EGOROVNA] Marie ... Masha ...

MARIA EGOROVNA. [Looks at BORTSOV] What's this?

BORTSOV. Marie ... is it you? Where do you come from? [MARIA
EGOROVNA recognizes BORTSOV, screams and runs off into the centre
of the floor. BORTSOV follows] Marie, it is I ... I [Laughs loudly]
My wife! Marie! Where am I? People, a light!

MARIA EGOROVNA. Get away from me! You lie, it isn't you! It can't
be! [Covers her face with her hands] It's a lie, it's all nonsense!

BORTSOV. Her voice, her movements. ... Marie, it is I! I'll stop in
a moment. ... I was drunk. ... My head's going round. ... My God!
Stop, stop. ... I can't understand anything. [Yells] My wife!
[Falls at her feet and sobs. A group collects around the husband
and wife.]

MARIA EGOROVNA. Stand back! [To the COACHMAN] Denis, let's go! I
can't stop here any longer!

MERIK. [Jumps up and looks her steadily in the face] The portrait!
[Grasps her hand] It is she! Eh, people, she's the gentleman's

MARIA EGOROVNA. Get away, fellow! [Tries to tear her hand away from
him] Denis, why do you stand there staring? [DENIS and TIHON run up
to her and get hold of MERIK'S arms] This thieves' kitchen! Let go
my hand! I'm not afraid! ... Get away from me!

MERIK. [Note: Throughout this speech, in the original, Merik uses
the familiar second person singular.] Wait a bit, and I'll let go. ...
Just let me say one word to you. ... One word, so that you may
understand. ... Just wait. ... [Turns to TIHON and DENIS] Get away,
you rogues, let go! I shan't let you go till I've had my say! Stop ...
one moment. [Strikes his forehead with his fist] No, God hasn't
given me the wisdom! I can't think of the word for you!

MARIA EGOROVNA. [Tears away her hand] Get away! Drunkards ... let's
go, Denis!

[She tries to go out, but MERIK blocks the door.]

MERIK. Just throw a glance at him, with only one eye if you like!
Or say only just one kind little word to him! God's own sake!

MARIA EGOROVNA. Take away this ... fool.

MERIK. Then the devil take you, you accursed woman!

[He swings his axe. General confusion. Everybody jumps up noisily
and with cries of horror. SAVVA stands between MERIK and MARIA
EGOROVNA. ... DENIS forces MERIK to one side and carries out his
mistress. After this all stand as if turned to stone. A prolonged
pause. BORTSOV suddenly waves his hands in the air.]

BORTSOV. Marie ... where are you, Marie!

NAZAROVNA. My God, my God! You've torn up my your murderers! What
an accursed night!

MERIK. [Lowering his hand; he still holds the axe] Did I kill her
or no?


TIHON. Thank God, your head is safe. ...

MERIK. Then I didn't kill her. ... [Totters to his bed] Fate hasn't
sent me to my death because of a stolen axe. ... [Falls down and
sobs] Woe! Woe is me! Have pity on me, Orthodox people!




NATALYA STEPANOVNA, his daughter, twenty-five years old
IVAN VASSILEVITCH LOMOV, a neighbour of Chubukov, a large and
hearty, but very suspicious landowner

The scene is laid at CHUBUKOV's country-house


A drawing-room in CHUBUKOV'S house.

[LOMOV enters, wearing a dress-jacket and white gloves. CHUBUKOV
rises to meet him.]

CHUBUKOV. My dear fellow, whom do I see! Ivan Vassilevitch! I am
extremely glad! [Squeezes his hand] Now this is a surprise, my
darling ... How are you?

LOMOV. Thank you. And how may you be getting on?

CHUBUKOV. We just get along somehow, my angel, to your prayers, and
so on. Sit down, please do. ... Now, you know, you shouldn't forget
all about your neighbours, my darling. My dear fellow, why are you
so formal in your get-up? Evening dress, gloves, and so on. Can you
be going anywhere, my treasure?

LOMOV. No, I've come only to see you, honoured Stepan Stepanovitch.

CHUBUKOV. Then why are you in evening dress, my precious? As if
you're paying a New Year's Eve visit!

LOMOV. Well, you see, it's like this. [Takes his arm] I've come to
you, honoured Stepan Stepanovitch, to trouble you with a request.
Not once or twice have I already had the privilege of applying to
you for help, and you have always, so to speak ... I must ask your
pardon, I am getting excited. I shall drink some water, honoured
Stepan Stepanovitch. [Drinks.]

CHUBUKOV. [Aside] He's come to borrow money! Shan't give him any!
[Aloud] What is it, my beauty?

LOMOV. You see, Honour Stepanitch ... I beg pardon, Stepan
Honouritch ... I mean, I'm awfully excited, as you will please
notice. ... In short, you alone can help me, though I don't deserve
it, of course ... and haven't any right to count on your
assistance. ...

CHUBUKOV. Oh, don't go round and round it, darling! Spit it out!

LOMOV. One moment ... this very minute. The fact is, I've come to
ask the hand of your daughter, Natalya Stepanovna, in marriage.

CHUBUKOV. [Joyfully] By Jove! Ivan Vassilevitch! Say it again--I
didn't hear it all!

LOMOV. I have the honour to ask ...

CHUBUKOV. [Interrupting] My dear fellow ... I'm so glad, and so on. ...
Yes, indeed, and all that sort of thing. [Embraces and kisses
LOMOV] I've been hoping for it for a long time. It's been my
continual desire. [Sheds a tear] And I've always loved you, my
angel, as if you were my own son. May God give you both His help
and His love and so on, and I did so much hope ... What am I
behaving in this idiotic way for? I'm off my balance with joy,
absolutely off my balance! Oh, with all my soul ... I'll go and
call Natasha, and all that.

LOMOV. [Greatly moved] Honoured Stepan Stepanovitch, do you think I
may count on her consent?

CHUBUKOV. Why, of course, my darling, and ... as if she won't
consent! She's in love; egad, she's like a love-sick cat, and so
on. ... Shan't be long! [Exit.]

LOMOV. It's cold ... I'm trembling all over, just as if I'd got an
examination before me. The great thing is, I must have my mind made
up. If I give myself time to think, to hesitate, to talk a lot, to
look for an ideal, or for real love, then I'll never get married. ...
Brr! ... It's cold! Natalya Stepanovna is an excellent housekeeper,
not bad-looking, well-educated. ... What more do I want? But I'm
getting a noise in my ears from excitement. [Drinks] And it's
impossible for me not to marry. ... In the first place, I'm already
35--a critical age, so to speak. In the second place, I ought to
lead a quiet and regular life. ... I suffer from palpitations, I'm
excitable and always getting awfully upset. ... At this very moment
my lips are trembling, and there's a twitch in my right eyebrow. ...
But the very worst of all is the way I sleep. I no sooner get into
bed and begin to go off when suddenly something in my left side--
gives a pull, and I can feel it in my shoulder and head. ... I jump
up like a lunatic, walk about a bit, and lie down again, but as
soon as I begin to get off to sleep there's another pull! And this
may happen twenty times. ...


NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Well, there! It's you, and papa said, "Go;
there's a merchant come for his goods." How do you do, Ivan

LOMOV. How do you do, honoured Natalya Stepanovna?

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. You must excuse my apron and néligé ... we're
shelling peas for drying. Why haven't you been here for such a long
time? Sit down. [They seat themselves] Won't you have some lunch?

LOMOV. No, thank you, I've had some already.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Then smoke. ... Here are the matches. ... The
weather is splendid now, but yesterday it was so wet that the
workmen didn't do anything all day. How much hay have you stacked?
Just think, I felt greedy and had a whole field cut, and now I'm
not at all pleased about it because I'm afraid my hay may rot. I
ought to have waited a bit. But what's this? Why, you're in evening
dress! Well, I never! Are you going to a ball, or what?--though I
must say you look better. Tell me, why are you got up like that?

LOMOV. [Excited] You see, honoured Natalya Stepanovna ... the fact
is, I've made up my mind to ask you to hear me out. ... Of course
you'll be surprised and perhaps even angry, but a ... [Aside] It's
awfully cold!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What's the matter? [Pause] Well?

LOMOV. I shall try to be brief. You must know, honoured Natalya
Stepanovna, that I have long, since my childhood, in fact, had the
privilege of knowing your family. My late aunt and her husband,
from whom, as you know, I inherited my land, always had the
greatest respect for your father and your late mother. The Lomovs
and the Chubukovs have always had the most friendly, and I might
almost say the most affectionate, regard for each other. And, as
you know, my land is a near neighbour of yours. You will remember
that my Oxen Meadows touch your birchwoods.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Excuse my interrupting you. You say, "my Oxen
Meadows. ..." But are they yours?

LOMOV. Yes, mine.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What are you talking about? Oxen Meadows are
ours, not yours!

LOMOV. No, mine, honoured Natalya Stepanovna.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Well, I never knew that before. How do you make
that out?

LOMOV. How? I'm speaking of those Oxen Meadows which are wedged in
between your birchwoods and the Burnt Marsh.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Yes, yes. ... They're ours.

LOMOV. No, you're mistaken, honoured Natalya Stepanovna, they're

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Just think, Ivan Vassilevitch! How long have
they been yours?

LOMOV. How long? As long as I can remember.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Really, you won't get me to believe that!

LOMOV. But you can see from the documents, honoured Natalya
Stepanovna. Oxen Meadows, it's true, were once the subject of
dispute, but now everybody knows that they are mine. There's
nothing to argue about. You see, my aunt's grandmother gave the
free use of these Meadows in perpetuity to the peasants of your
father's grandfather, in return for which they were to make bricks
for her. The peasants belonging to your father's grandfather had
the free use of the Meadows for forty years, and had got into the
habit of regarding them as their own, when it happened that ...

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. No, it isn't at all like that! Both my
grandfather and great-grandfather reckoned that their land extended
to Burnt Marsh--which means that Oxen Meadows were ours. I don't
see what there is to argue about. It's simply silly!

LOMOV. I'll show you the documents, Natalya Stepanovna!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. No, you're simply joking, or making fun of me. ...
What a surprise! We've had the land for nearly three hundred years,
and then we're suddenly told that it isn't ours! Ivan Vassilevitch,
I can hardly believe my own ears. ... These Meadows aren't worth much
to me. They only come to five dessiatins [Note: 13.5 acres], and are
worth perhaps 300 roubles [Note: £30.], but I can't stand unfairness.
Say what you will, but I can't stand unfairness.

LOMOV. Hear me out, I implore you! The peasants of your father's
grandfather, as I have already had the honour of explaining to you,
used to bake bricks for my aunt's grandmother. Now my aunt's
grandmother, wishing to make them a pleasant ...

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I can't make head or tail of all this about
aunts and grandfathers and grandmothers! The Meadows are ours, and
that's all.

LOMOV. Mine.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Ours! You can go on proving it for two days on
end, you can go and put on fifteen dress-jackets, but I tell you
they're ours, ours, ours! I don't want anything of yours and I
don't want to give up anything of mine. So there!

LOMOV. Natalya Ivanovna, I don't want the Meadows, but I am acting
on principle. If you like, I'll make you a present of them.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I can make you a present of them myself,
because they're mine! Your behaviour, Ivan Vassilevitch, is
strange, to say the least! Up to this we have always thought of you
as a good neighbour, a friend: last year we lent you our
threshing-machine, although on that account we had to put off our
own threshing till November, but you behave to us as if we were
gipsies. Giving me my own land, indeed! No, really, that's not at
all neighbourly! In my opinion, it's even impudent, if you want to
know. ...

LOMOV. Then you make out that I'm a land-grabber? Madam, never in
my life have I grabbed anybody else's land, and I shan't allow
anybody to accuse me of having done so. ... [Quickly steps to the
carafe and drinks more water] Oxen Meadows are mine!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. It's not true, they're ours!

LOMOV. Mine!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. It's not true! I'll prove it! I'll send my
mowers out to the Meadows this very day!

LOMOV. What?

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. My mowers will be there this very day!

LOMOV. I'll give it to them in the neck!


LOMOV. [Clutches at his heart] Oxen Meadows are mine! You
understand? Mine!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Please don't shout! You can shout yourself
hoarse in your own house, but here I must ask you to restrain

LOMOV. If it wasn't, madam, for this awful, excruciating
palpitation, if my whole inside wasn't upset, I'd talk to you in a
different way! [Yells] Oxen Meadows are mine!


LOMOV. Mine!


LOMOV. Mine!


CHUBUKOV. What's the matter? What are you shouting at?

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Papa, please tell to this gentleman who owns
Oxen Meadows, we or he?

CHUBUKOV. [To LOMOV] Darling, the Meadows are ours!

LOMOV. But, please, Stepan Stepanitch, how can they be yours? Do be
a reasonable man! My aunt's grandmother gave the Meadows for the
temporary and free use of your grandfather's peasants. The peasants
used the land for forty years and got as accustomed to it as if it
was their own, when it happened that ...

CHUBUKOV. Excuse me, my precious. ... You forget just this, that
the peasants didn't pay your grandmother and all that, because the
Meadows were in dispute, and so on. And now everybody knows that
they're ours. It means that you haven't seen the plan.

LOMOV. I'll prove to you that they're mine!

CHUBUKOV. You won't prove it, my darling.

LOMOV. I shall!

CHUBUKOV. Dear one, why yell like that? You won't prove anything
just by yelling. I don't want anything of yours, and don't intend
to give up what I have. Why should I? And you know, my beloved,
that if you propose to go on arguing about it, I'd much sooner give
up the meadows to the peasants than to you. There!

LOMOV. I don't understand! How have you the right to give away
somebody else's property?

CHUBUKOV. You may take it that I know whether I have the right or
not. Because, young man, I'm not used to being spoken to in that
tone of voice, and so on: I, young man, am twice your age, and ask
you to speak to me without agitating yourself, and all that.

LOMOV. No, you just think I'm a fool and want to have me on! You
call my land yours, and then you want me to talk to you calmly and
politely! Good neighbours don't behave like that, Stepan
Stepanitch! You're not a neighbour, you're a grabber!

CHUBUKOV. What's that? What did you say?

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Papa, send the mowers out to the Meadows at

CHUBUKOV. What did you say, sir?

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Oxen Meadows are ours, and I shan't give them
up, shan't give them up, shan't give them up!

LOMOV. We'll see! I'll have the matter taken to court, and then
I'll show you!

CHUBUKOV. To court? You can take it to court, and all that! You
can! I know you; you're just on the look-out for a chance to go to
court, and all that. ... You pettifogger! All your people were like
that! All of them!

LOMOV. Never mind about my people! The Lomovs have all been honourable
people, and not one has ever been tried for embezzlement, like
your grandfather!

CHUBUKOV. You Lomovs have had lunacy in your family, all of you!


CHUBUKOV. Your grandfather was a drunkard, and your younger aunt,
Nastasya Mihailovna, ran away with an architect, and so on.

LOMOV. And your mother was hump-backed. [Clutches at his heart]
Something pulling in my side. ... My head. ... Help! Water!

CHUBUKOV. Your father was a guzzling gambler!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. And there haven't been many backbiters to equal
your aunt!

LOMOV. My left foot has gone to sleep. ... You're an intriguer. ...
Oh, my heart! ... And it's an open secret that before the last
elections you bri ... I can see stars. ... Where's my hat?

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. It's low! It's dishonest! It's mean!

CHUBUKOV. And you're just a malicious, double-faced intriguer! Yes!

LOMOV. Here's my hat. ... My heart! ... Which way? Where's the
door? Oh! ... I think I'm dying. ... My foot's quite numb. ...
[Goes to the door.]

CHUBUKOV. [Following him] And don't set foot in my house again!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Take it to court! We'll see!

[LOMOV staggers out.]

CHUBUKOV. Devil take him! [Walks about in excitement.]

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What a rascal! What trust can one have in one's
neighbours after that!

CHUBUKOV. The villain! The scarecrow!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. The monster! First he takes our land and then
he has the impudence to abuse us.

CHUBUKOV. And that blind hen, yes, that turnip-ghost has the
confounded cheek to make a proposal, and so on! What? A proposal!


CHUBUKOV. Why, he came here so as to propose to you.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. To propose? To me? Why didn't you tell me so

CHUBUKOV. So he dresses up in evening clothes. The stuffed sausage!
The wizen-faced frump!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. To propose to me? Ah! [Falls into an easy-chair
and wails] Bring him back! Back! Ah! Bring him here.

CHUBUKOV. Bring whom here?

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Quick, quick! I'm ill! Fetch him! [Hysterics.]

CHUBUKOV. What's that? What's the matter with you? [Clutches at his
head] Oh, unhappy man that I am! I'll shoot myself! I'll hang
myself! We've done for her!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I'm dying! Fetch him!

CHUBUKOV. Tfoo! At once. Don't yell!

[Runs out. A pause. NATALYA STEPANOVNA wails.]

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What have they done to me! Fetch him back!
Fetch him! [A pause.]

[CHUBUKOV runs in.]

CHUBUKOV. He's coming, and so on, devil take him! Ouf! Talk to him
yourself; I don't want to. ...

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. [Wails] Fetch him!

CHUBUKOV. [Yells] He's coming, I tell you. Oh, what a burden, Lord,
to be the father of a grown-up daughter! I'll cut my throat! I
will, indeed! We cursed him, abused him, drove him out, and it's
all you ... you!


CHUBUKOV. I tell you it's not my fault. [LOMOV appears at the door]
Now you talk to him yourself [Exit.]

[LOMOV enters, exhausted.]

LOMOV. My heart's palpitating awfully. ... My foot's gone to sleep. ...
There's something keeps pulling in my side.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Forgive us, Ivan Vassilevitch, we were all a
little heated. ... I remember now: Oxen Meadows really are yours.

LOMOV. My heart's beating awfully. ... My Meadows. ... My eyebrows
are both twitching. ...

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. The Meadows are yours, yes, yours. ... Do sit
down. ... [They sit] We were wrong. ...

LOMOV. I did it on principle. ... My land is worth little to me,
but the principle ...

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Yes, the principle, just so. ... Now let's talk
of something else.

LOMOV. The more so as I have evidence. My aunt's grandmother gave
the land to your father's grandfather's peasants ...

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Yes, yes, let that pass. ... [Aside] I wish I
knew how to get him started. ... [Aloud] Are you going to start
shooting soon?

LOMOV. I'm thinking of having a go at the blackcock, honoured
Natalya Stepanovna, after the harvest. Oh, have you heard? Just
think, what a misfortune I've had! My dog Guess, whom you know, has
gone lame.


LOMOV. I don't know. ... Must have got twisted, or bitten by some
other dog. ... [Sighs] My very best dog, to say nothing of the
expense. I gave Mironov 125 roubles for him.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. It was too much, Ivan Vassilevitch.

LOMOV. I think it was very cheap. He's a first-rate dog.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Papa gave 85 roubles for his Squeezer, and
Squeezer is heaps better than Guess!

LOMOV. Squeezer better than. Guess? What an idea! [Laughs] Squeezer
better than Guess!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Of course he's better! Of course, Squeezer is
young, he may develop a bit, but on points and pedigree he's better
than anything that even Volchanetsky has got.

LOMOV. Excuse me, Natalya Stepanovna, but you forget that he is
overshot, and an overshot always means the dog is a bad hunter!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Overshot, is he? The first time I hear it!

LOMOV. I assure you that his lower jaw is shorter than the upper.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Have you measured?

LOMOV. Yes. He's all right at following, of course, but if you want
him to get hold of anything ...

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. In the first place, our Squeezer is a
thoroughbred animal, the son of Harness and Chisels, while there's
no getting at the pedigree of your dog at all. ... He's old and as
ugly as a worn-out cab-horse.

LOMOV. He is old, but I wouldn't take five Squeezers for him. ...
Why, how can you? ... Guess is a dog; as for Squeezer, well, it's
too funny to argue. ... Anybody you like has a dog as good as
Squeezer ... you may find them under every bush almost. Twenty-five
roubles would be a handsome price to pay for him.

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. There's some demon of contradiction in you
to-day, Ivan Vassilevitch. First you pretend that the Meadows are
yours; now, that Guess is better than Squeezer. I don't like people
who don't say what they mean, because you know perfectly well that
Squeezer is a hundred times better than your silly Guess. Why do
you want to say it isn't?

LOMOV. I see, Natalya Stepanovna, that you consider me either blind
or a fool. You must realize that Squeezer is overshot!


LOMOV. He is!


LOMOV. Why shout, madam?

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Why talk rot? It's awful! It's time your Guess
was shot, and you compare him with Squeezer!

LOMOV. Excuse me; I cannot continue this discussion: my heart is

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I've noticed that those hunters argue most who
know least.

LOMOV. Madam, please be silent. ... My heart is going to pieces. ...
[Shouts] Shut up!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I shan't shut up until you acknowledge that
Squeezer is a hundred times better than your Guess!

LOMOV. A hundred times worse! Be hanged to your Squeezer! His
head ... eyes ... shoulder ...

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. There's no need to hang your silly Guess; he's
half-dead already!

LOMOV. [Weeps] Shut up! My heart's bursting!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I shan't shut up.


CHUBUKOV. What's the matter now?

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Papa, tell us truly, which is the better dog,
our Squeezer or his Guess.

LOMOV. Stepan Stepanovitch, I implore you to tell me just one
thing: is your Squeezer overshot or not? Yes or no?

CHUBUKOV. And suppose he is? What does it matter? He's the best dog
in the district for all that, and so on.

LOMOV. But isn't my Guess better? Really, now?

CHUBUKOV. Don't excite yourself, my precious one. ... Allow me. ...
Your Guess certainly has his good points. ... He's pure-bred, firm
on his feet, has well-sprung ribs, and all that. But, my dear man,
if you want to know the truth, that dog has two defects: he's old
and he's short in the muzzle.

LOMOV. Excuse me, my heart. ... Let's take the facts. ... You will
remember that on the Marusinsky hunt my Guess ran neck-and-neck
with the Count's dog, while your Squeezer was left a whole verst

CHUBUKOV. He got left behind because the Count's whipper-in hit him
with his whip.

LOMOV. And with good reason. The dogs are running after a fox, when
Squeezer goes and starts worrying a sheep!

CHUBUKOV. It's not true! ... My dear fellow, I'm very liable to
lose my temper, and so, just because of that, let's stop arguing.
You started because everybody is always jealous of everybody else's
dogs. Yes, we're all like that! You too, sir, aren't blameless! You
no sooner notice that some dog is better than your Guess than you
begin with this, that ... and the other ... and all that. ... I
remember everything!

LOMOV. I remember too!

CHUBUKOV. [Teasing him] I remember, too. ... What do you remember?

LOMOV. My heart ... my foot's gone to sleep. ... I can't ...

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. [Teasing] My heart. ... What sort of a hunter
are you? You ought to go and lie on the kitchen oven and catch
blackbeetles, not go after foxes! My heart!

CHUBUKOV. Yes really, what sort of a hunter are you, anyway? You
ought to sit at home with your palpitations, and not go tracking
animals. You could go hunting, but you only go to argue with people
and interfere with their dogs and so on. Let's change the subject
in case I lose my temper. You're not a hunter at all, anyway!

LOMOV. And are you a hunter? You only go hunting to get in with the
Count and to intrigue. ... Oh, my heart! ... You're an intriguer!

CHUBUKOV. What? I an intriguer? [Shouts] Shut up!

LOMOV. Intriguer!


LOMOV. Old rat! Jesuit!

CHUBUKOV. Shut up or I'll shoot you like a partridge! You fool!

LOMOV. Everybody knows that--oh my heart!--your late wife used to
beat you. ... My feet ... temples ... sparks. ... I fall, I fall!

CHUBUKOV. And you're under the slipper of your housekeeper!

LOMOV. There, there, there ... my heart's burst! My shoulder's come
off. ... Where is my shoulder? I die. [Falls into an armchair] A
doctor! [Faints.]

CHUBUKOV. Boy! Milksop! Fool! I'm sick! [Drinks water] Sick!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. What sort of a hunter are you? You can't even sit
on a horse! [To her father] Papa, what's the matter with him? Papa!
Look, papa! [Screams] Ivan Vassilevitch! He's dead!

CHUBUKOV. I'm sick! ... I can't breathe! ... Air!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. He's dead. [Pulls LOMOV'S sleeve] Ivan Vassilevitch!
Ivan Vassilevitch! What have you done to me? He's dead. [Falls into
an armchair] A doctor, a doctor! [Hysterics.]

CHUBUKOV. Oh! ... What is it? What's the matter?

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. [Wails] He's dead ... dead!

CHUBUKOV. Who's dead? [Looks at LOMOV] So he is! My word! Water! A
doctor! [Lifts a tumbler to LOMOV'S mouth] Drink this! ... No, he
doesn't drink. ... It means he's dead, and all that. ... I'm the most
unhappy of men! Why don't I put a bullet into my brain? Why haven't I
cut my throat yet? What am I waiting for? Give me a knife! Give me a
pistol! [LOMOV moves] He seems to be coming round. ... Drink some water!
That's right. ...

LOMOV. I see stars ... mist. ... Where am I?

CHUBUKOV. Hurry up and get married and--well, to the devil with you!
She's willing! [He puts LOMOV'S hand into his daughter's] She's willing
and all that. I give you my blessing and so on. Only leave me in peace!

LOMOV. [Getting up] Eh? What? To whom?

CHUBUKOV. She's willing! Well? Kiss and be damned to you!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. [Wails] He's alive. . . Yes, yes, I'm willing. ...

CHUBUKOV. Kiss each other!

LOMOV. Eh? Kiss whom? [They kiss] Very nice, too. Excuse me, what's
it all about? Oh, now I understand ... my heart ... stars ... I'm happy.
Natalya Stepanovna. ... [Kisses her hand] My foot's gone to sleep. ...

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. I ... I'm happy too. ...

CHUBUKOV. What a weight off my shoulders. ... Ouf!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. But ... still you will admit now that Guess is
worse than Squeezer.

LOMOV. Better!


CHUBUKOV. Well, that's a way to start your family bliss! Have some

LOMOV. He's better!

NATALYA STEPANOVNA. Worse! worse! worse!

CHUBUKOV. [Trying to shout her down] Champagne! Champagne!




DASHENKA, their daughter
ANNA MARTINOVNA ZMEYUKINA, a midwife, aged 30, in a brilliantly red dress
DMITRI STEPANOVITCH MOZGOVOY, a sailor of the Imperial Navy (Volunteer

The scene is laid in one of the rooms of Andronov's Restaurant


[A brilliantly illuminated room. A large table, laid for supper.
Waiters in dress-jackets are fussing round the table. An orchestra
behind the scene is playing the music of the last figure of a


ZMEYUKINA. No, no, no!

YATS. [Following her] Have pity on us! Have pity!

ZMEYUKINA. No, no, no!

GROOMSMAN. [Chasing them] You can't go on like this! Where are you
off to? What about the _grand ronde? Grand ronde, s'il vous plait_!
[They all go off.]


NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. You had much better be dancing than upsetting
me with your speeches.

APLOMBOV. I'm not a Spinosa or anybody of that sort, to go making
figures-of-eight with my legs. I am a serious man, and I have a
character, and I see no amusement in empty pleasures. But it isn't
just a matter of dances. You must excuse me, maman, but there is a
good deal in your behaviour which I am unable to understand. For
instance, in addition to objects of domestic importance, you
promised also to give me, with your daughter, two lottery tickets.
Where are they?

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. My head's aching a little ... I expect it's
on account of the weather. ... If only it thawed!

APLOMBOV. You won't get out of it like that. I only found out to-day
that those tickets are in pawn. You must excuse me, _maman_, but
it's only swindlers who behave like that. I'm not doing this out of
egoisticism [Note: So in the original]--I don't want your tickets--
but on principle; and I don't allow myself to be done by anybody. I
have made your daughter happy, and if you don't give me the tickets
to-day I'll make short work of her. I'm an honourable man!

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. [Looks round the table and counts up the
covers] One, two, three, four, five ...

A WAITER. The cook asks if you would like the ices served with rum,
madeira, or by themselves?

APLOMBOV. With rum. And tell the manager that there's not enough
wine. Tell him to prepare some more Haut Sauterne. [To NASTASYA
TIMOFEYEVNA] You also promised and agreed that a general was to be
here to supper. And where is he?

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. That isn't my fault, my dear.

APLOMBOV. Whose fault, then?

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. It's Andrey Andreyevitch's fault. ...
Yesterday he came to see us and promised to bring a perfectly real
general. [Sighs] I suppose he couldn't find one anywhere, or he'd
have brought him. ... You think we don't mind? We'd begrudge our
child nothing. A general, of course ...

APLOMBOV. But there's more. ... Everybody, including yourself,
_maman_, is aware of the fact that Yats, that telegraphist, was
after Dashenka before I proposed to her. Why did you invite him?
Surely you knew it would be unpleasant for me?

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. Oh, how can you? Epaminond Maximovitch was
married himself only the other day, and you've already tired me and
Dashenka out with your talk. What will you be like in a year's
time? You are horrid, really horrid.

APLOMBOV. Then you don't like to hear the truth? Aha! Oh, oh! Then
behave honourably. I only want you to do one thing, be honourable!

[Couples dancing the _grand ronde_ come in at one door and out at
the other end. The first couple are DASHENKA with one of the
GROOMSMEN. The last are YATS and ZMEYUKINA. These two remain
behind. ZHIGALOV and DIMBA enter and go up to the table.]

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

[The dancers have all left the scene.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

YATS. That's it! Beautiful!

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

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

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

YATS. Beautiful! Beautiful!

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

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

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

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

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

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


ZHIGALOV. And lions?

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

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

DIMBA. Yes, everysing.

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

ZHIGALOV. And are there lobsters in Greece?

DIMBA. Yes ... zere is everysing.

ZHIGALOV. Hm. ... And Civil Servants.

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

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

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

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

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. Dear visitors, please be seated!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APLOMBOV. That's a hint!

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

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

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

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

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

YATS. What do you mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DIMBA. Yes, everysing is zere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Enter NUNIN.]

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

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. When is he coming?

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

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

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

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

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

APLOMBOV. When's he coming?

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

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

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

A WAITER. Mr. Revunov-Karaulov!


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

REVUNOV. Awfully!

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

REVUNOV. Awfully glad!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOZGOVOY. Yes, just so.

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

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

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

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

REVUNOV. What does that mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVUNOV. [Upset] What money?

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

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

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

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

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

APLOMBOV. Did you take the money?

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

NASTASYA TIMOFEYEVNA. Andrey, where are those 25 roubles?

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

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

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

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




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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POPOVA. Oh! [Weeps.]

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

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

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

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

LUKA. Yes, madam. [Exit.]

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

[LUKA enters in consternation.]

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

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

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

POPOVA. I do not re-ceive!

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

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

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

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

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

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

SMIRNOV. He used to buy oats from me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POPOVA. I can't.

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

POPOVA. Yes, the last word.

SMIRNOV. The last word? Absolutely your last?

POPOVA. Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

[Enter LUKA.]

LUKA. What is it?

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

LUKA. Madam is ill and will see nobody.

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

[Enter LUKA.]

LUKA. What is it?

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

[Enter LUKA with the vodka.]

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

SMIRNOV [Angrily] What?

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

SMIRNOV. Whom are you talking to? Shut up!

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

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

[Enter POPOVA.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

POPOVA. I can't.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POPOVA. That's silly and rude.

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

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

SMIRNOV. Yes, the man!

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

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

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

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

POPOVA. How dare you speak to me like that?

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

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

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

POPOVA. I shan't give you any money!

SMIRNOV. Oh, no, you will.

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

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

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


POPOVA. I ask you to go away!

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

POPOVA. Get out of this, now.

SMIRNOV. Can't you be more polite?

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

SMIRNOV. What? What did you say?

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

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

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

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

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

SMIRNOV. Pistols!

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

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

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

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

POPOVA. With pistols? Very well!

SMIRNOV. This very minute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Enter POPOVA with pistols.]

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

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

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

POPOVA. Like this?

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

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

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

POPOVA. That's the last straw! Why?

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

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

SMIRNOV. Yes, I am afraid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

POPOVA. Stand back, or I'll fire!

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

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

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

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

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


SMIRNOV. [Stops] Well?

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

SMIRNOV. Good-bye.

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

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

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

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

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

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




IVAN IVANOVITCH TOLKACHOV, the father of a family

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


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

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

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

MURASHKIN. What do you want a revolver for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MURASHKIN. I do sympathize.

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

MURASHKIN. Where are you living?

TOLKACHOV. At Carrion River.

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

TOLKACHOV. I know her. We are even acquainted.

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

TOLKACHOV. What's that?

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

TOLKACHOV. What's that?

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

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

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

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

MURASHKIN. You've gone mad!

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

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

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




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

The action takes place at the Bank


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KHIRIN. Please don't make hints.

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

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

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

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

SHIPUCHIN. Oh, that's nothing.

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

SHIPUCHIN. On the contrary, feminine society elevates!

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

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

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

SHIPUCHIN. Ah! In the nick of time!


[Runs to her husband: a prolonged kiss.]

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

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

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

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

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

[KHIRIN coughs angrily.]

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

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

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

[KHIRIN coughs angrily.]

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

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

[KHIRIN coughs angrily.]

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

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

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

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

SHIPUCHIN. What do you want?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. All right. [Goes out.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SHIPUCHIN. [Sighs] Ouf!

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

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

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

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

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

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

KHIRIN. I ask you, what do you want?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

MERCHUTKINA. Your excellency!

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

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

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

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

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

MERCHUTKINA. Your excellency.

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

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

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

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

SHIPUCHIN. [Panting] Ouf!

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

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

SHIPUCHIN. [Exhausted] How much do you want?

MERCHUTKINA. 24 roubles 36 copecks.

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

[KHIRIN coughs angrily.]

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

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

SHIPUCHIN. [Sighs] Ouf!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SHIPUCHIN. [Chasing them] Stop! I implore you! Not such a noise?
Have pity on me!

KHIRIN. [Chasing MERCHUTKINA] Out of this! Catch her! Hit her! Cut
her into pieces!

SHIPUCHIN. [Shouts] Stop! I ask you! I implore you!

MERCHUTKINA. Little fathers ... little fathers! [Screams] Little
fathers! ...

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. [Shouts] Help! Help! ... Oh, oh ... I'm sick,
I'm sick! [Jumps on to a chair, then falls on to the sofa and
groans as if in a faint.]

KHIRIN. [Chasing MERCHUTKINA] Hit her! Beat her! Cut her to pieces!

MERCHUTKINA. Oh, oh ... little fathers, it's all dark before me!
Ah! [Falls senseless into SHIPUCHIN'S arms. There is a knock at the
door; a VOICE announces THE DEPUTATION] The deputation ...
reputation ... occupation ...

KHIRIN. [Stamps] Get out of it, devil take me! [Turns up his
sleeves] Give her to me: I may break the law!

[A deputation of five men enters; they all wear frockcoats. One
carries the velvet-covered address, another, the loving-cup.
Employees look in at the door, from the public department. TATIANA
ALEXEYEVNA on the sofa, and MERCHUTKINA in SHIPUCHIN'S arms are
both groaning.]

ONE OF THE DEPUTATION. [Reads aloud] "Deeply respected and dear
Andrey Andreyevitch! Throwing a retrospective glance at the past
history of our financial administration, and reviewing in our minds
its gradual development, we receive an extremely satisfactory
impression. It is true that in the first period of its existence,
the inconsiderable amount of its capital, and the absence of
serious operations of any description, and also the indefinite aims
of this bank, made us attach an extreme importance to the question
raised by Hamlet, 'To be or not to be,' and at one time there were
even voices to be heard demanding our liquidation. But at that
moment you become the head of our concern. Your knowledge,
energies, and your native tact were the causes of extraordinary
success and widespread extension. The reputation of the bank ...
[Coughs] reputation of the bank ...

MERCHUTKINA. [Groans] Oh! Oh!

TATIANA ALEXEYEVNA. [Groans] Water! Water!

THE MEMBER OF THE DEPUTATION. [Continues] The reputation [Coughs] ...
the reputation of the bank has been raised by you to such a height
that we are now the rivals of the best foreign concerns.

SHIPUCHIN. Deputation ... reputation ... occupation. ... Two
friends that had a walk at night, held converse by the pale
moonlight. ... Oh tell me not, that youth is vain, that jealousy
has turned my brain.

THE MEMBER OF THE DEPUTATION. [Continues in confusion] Then,
throwing an objective glance at the present condition of things,
we, deeply respected and dear Andrey Andreyevitch ... [Lowering his
voice] In that case, we'll do it later on. ... Yes, later on. ..."
[DEPUTATION goes out in confusion.]




NATALIA IVANOVA (NATASHA), his fiancée, later his wife (28)
His sisters:
FEODOR ILITCH KULIGIN, high school teacher, married to MASHA (20)
ALEXANDER IGNATEYEVITCH VERSHININ, lieutenant-colonel in charge of
a battery (42)
NICOLAI LVOVITCH TUZENBACH, baron, lieutenant in the army (30)
FERAPONT, door-keeper at local council offices, an old man
ANFISA, nurse (80)

The action takes place in a provincial town.

[Ages are stated in brackets.]



[In PROSOROV'S house. A sitting-room with pillars; behind is seen a
large dining-room. It is midday, the sun is shining brightly
outside. In the dining-room the table is being laid for lunch.]

[OLGA, in the regulation blue dress of a teacher at a girl's high
school, is walking about correcting exercise books; MASHA, in a
black dress, with a hat on her knees, sits and reads a book; IRINA,
in white, stands about, with a thoughtful expression.]

OLGA. It's just a year since father died last May the fifth, on
your name-day, Irina. It was very cold then, and snowing. I thought
I would never survive it, and you were in a dead faint. And now a
year has gone by and we are already thinking about it without pain,
and you are wearing a white dress and your face is happy. [Clock
strikes twelve] And the clock struck just the same way then.
[Pause] I remember that there was music at the funeral, and they
fired a volley in the cemetery. He was a general in command of a
brigade but there were few people present. Of course, it was
raining then, raining hard, and snowing.

IRINA. Why think about it!

[BARON TUZENBACH, CHEBUTIKIN and SOLENI appear by the table in the
dining-room, behind the pillars.]

OLGA. It's so warm to-day that we can keep the windows open, though
the birches are not yet in flower. Father was put in command of a
brigade, and he rode out of Moscow with us eleven years ago. I
remember perfectly that it was early in May and that everything in
Moscow was flowering then. It was warm too, everything was bathed
in sunshine. Eleven years have gone, and I remember everything as
if we rode out only yesterday. Oh, God! When I awoke this morning
and saw all the light and the spring, joy entered my heart, and I
longed passionately to go home.

CHEBUTIKIN. Will you take a bet on it?

TUZENBACH. Oh, nonsense.

[MASHA, lost in a reverie over her book, whistles softly.]

OLGA. Don't whistle, Masha. How can you! [Pause] I'm always having
headaches from having to go to the High School every day and then
teach till evening. Strange thoughts come to me, as if I were
already an old woman. And really, during these four years that I
have been working here, I have been feeling as if every day my
strength and youth have been squeezed out of me, drop by drop. And
only one desire grows and gains in strength ...

IRINA. To go away to Moscow. To sell the house, drop everything
here, and go to Moscow ...

OLGA. Yes! To Moscow, and as soon as possible.


IRINA. I expect Andrey will become a professor, but still, he won't
want to live here. Only poor Masha must go on living here.

OLGA. Masha can come to Moscow every year, for the whole summer.

[MASHA is whistling gently.]

IRINA. Everything will be arranged, please God. [Looks out of the
window] It's nice out to-day. I don't know why I'm so happy: I
remembered this morning that it was my name-day, and I suddenly
felt glad and remembered my childhood, when mother was still with
us. What beautiful thoughts I had, what thoughts!

OLGA. You're all radiance to-day, I've never seen you look so
lovely. And Masha is pretty, too. Andrey wouldn't be bad-looking,
if he wasn't so stout; it does spoil his appearance. But I've grown
old and very thin, I suppose it's because I get angry with the
girls at school. To-day I'm free. I'm at home. I haven't got a
headache, and I feel younger than I was yesterday. I'm only
twenty-eight. ... All's well, God is everywhere, but it seems to me
that if only I were married and could stay at home all day, it
would be even better. [Pause] I should love my husband.

TUZENBACH. [To SOLENI] I'm tired of listening to the rot you talk.
[Entering the sitting-room] I forgot to say that Vershinin, our new
lieutenant-colonel of artillery, is coming to see us to-day. [Sits
down to the piano.]

OLGA. That's good. I'm glad.

IRINA. Is he old?

TUZENBACH. Oh, no. Forty or forty-five, at the very outside. [Plays
softly] He seems rather a good sort. He's certainly no fool, only
he likes to hear himself speak.

IRINA. Is he interesting?

TUZENBACH. Oh, he's all right, but there's his wife, his mother-in-law,
and two daughters. This is his second wife. He pays calls and tells
everybody that he's got a wife and two daughters. He'll tell you so
here. The wife isn't all there, she does her hair like a flapper
and gushes extremely. She talks philosophy and tries to commit
suicide every now and again, apparently in order to annoy her
husband. I should have left her long ago, but he bears up
patiently, and just grumbles.

SOLENI. [Enters with CHEBUTIKIN from the dining-room] With one hand
I can only lift fifty-four pounds, but with both hands I can lift
180, or even 200 pounds. From this I conclude that two men are not
twice as strong as one, but three times, perhaps even more. ...

CHEBUTIKIN. [Reads a newspaper as he walks] If your hair is coming
out ... take an ounce of naphthaline and hail a bottle of spirit ...
dissolve and use daily. ... [Makes a note in his pocket diary] When
found make a note of! Not that I want it though. ... [Crosses it
out] It doesn't matter.

IRINA. Ivan Romanovitch, dear Ivan Romanovitch!

CHEBUTIKIN. What does my own little girl want?

IRINA. Ivan Romanovitch, dear Ivan Romanovitch! I feel as if I were
sailing under the broad blue sky with great white birds around me.
Why is that? Why?

CHEBUTIKIN. [Kisses her hands, tenderly] My white bird. ...

IRINA. When I woke up to-day and got up and dressed myself, I
suddenly began to feel as if everything in this life was open to
me, and that I knew how I must live. Dear Ivan Romanovitch, I know
everything. A man must work, toil in the sweat of his brow, whoever
he may be, for that is the meaning and object of his life, his
happiness, his enthusiasm. How fine it is to be a workman who gets
up at daybreak and breaks stones in the street, or a shepherd, or a
schoolmaster, who teaches children, or an engine-driver on the
railway. ... My God, let alone a man, it's better to be an ox, or
just a horse, so long as it can work, than a young woman who wakes
up at twelve o'clock, has her coffee in bed, and then spends two
hours dressing. ... Oh it's awful! Sometimes when it's hot, your
thirst can be just as tiresome as my need for work. And if I don't
get up early in future and work, Ivan Romanovitch, then you may
refuse me your friendship.

CHEBUTIKIN. [Tenderly] I'll refuse, I'll refuse. ...

OLGA. Father used to make us get up at seven. Now Irina wakes at
seven and lies and meditates about something till nine at least.
And she looks so serious! [Laughs.]

IRINA. You're so used to seeing me as a little girl that it seems
queer to you when my face is serious. I'm twenty!

TUZENBACH. How well I can understand that craving for work, oh God!
I've never worked once in my life. I was born in Petersburg, a
chilly, lazy place, in a family which never knew what work or worry
meant. I remember that when I used to come home from my regiment, a
footman used to have to pull off my boots while I fidgeted and my
mother looked on in adoration and wondered why other people didn't
see me in the same light. They shielded me from work; but only just
in time! A new age is dawning, the people are marching on us all, a
powerful, health-giving storm is gathering, it is drawing near,
soon it will be upon us and it will drive away laziness,
indifference, the prejudice against labour, and rotten dullness
from our society. I shall work, and in twenty-five or thirty years,
every man will have to work. Every one!

CHEBUTIKIN. I shan't work.

TUZENBACH. You don't matter.

SOLENI. In twenty-five years' time, we shall all be dead, thank the
Lord. In two or three years' time apoplexy will carry you off, or
else I'll blow your brains out, my pet. [Takes a scent-bottle out
of his pocket and sprinkles his chest and hands.]

CHEBUTIKIN. [Laughs] It's quite true, I never have worked. After I
came down from the university I never stirred a finger or opened a
book, I just read the papers. ... [Takes another newspaper out of
his pocket] Here we are. ... I've learnt from the papers that there
used to be one, Dobrolubov [Note: Dobroluboy (1836-81), in spite
of the shortness of his career, established himself as one of the
classic literary critics of Russia], for instance, but what he
wrote--I don't know ... God only knows. ... [Somebody is heard
tapping on the floor from below] There. ... They're calling me
downstairs, somebody's come to see me. I'll be back in a minute ...
won't be long. ... [Exit hurriedly, scratching his beard.]

IRINA. He's up to something.

TUZENBACH. Yes, he looked so pleased as he went out that I'm pretty
certain he'll bring you a present in a moment.

IRINA. How unpleasant!

OLGA. Yes, it's awful. He's always doing silly things.

MASHA. "There stands a green oak by the sea.
        And a chain of bright gold is around it ...
        And a chain of bright gold is around it. ..."
[Gets up and sings softly.]

OLGA. You're not very bright to-day, Masha. [MASHA sings, putting
on her hat] Where are you off to?

MASHA. Home.

IRINA. That's odd. ...

TUZENBACH. On a name-day, too!

MASHA. It doesn't matter. I'll come in the evening. Good-bye, dear.
[Kisses MASHA] Many happy returns, though I've said it before. In
the old days when father was alive, every time we had a name-day,
thirty or forty officers used to come, and there was lots of noise
and fun, and to-day there's only a man and a half, and it's as
quiet as a desert ... I'm off ... I've got the hump to-day, and am
not at all cheerful, so don't you mind me. [Laughs through her
tears] We'll have a talk later on, but good-bye for the present, my
dear; I'll go somewhere.

IRINA. [Displeased] You are queer. ...

OLGA. [Crying] I understand you, Masha.

SOLENI. When a man talks philosophy, well, it is philosophy or at
any rate sophistry; but when a woman, or two women, talk
philosophy--it's all my eye.

MASHA. What do you mean by that, you very awful man?

SOLENI. Oh, nothing. You came down on me before I could say ...
help! [Pause.]

MASHA. [Angrily, to OLGA] Don't cry!

[Enter ANFISA and FERAPONT with a cake.]

ANFISA. This way, my dear. Come in, your feet are clean. [To IRINA]
From the District Council, from Mihail Ivanitch Protopopov ... a

IRINA. Thank you. Please thank him. [Takes the cake.]


IRINA. [Louder] Please thank him.

OLGA. Give him a pie, nurse. Ferapont, go, she'll give you a pie.


ANFISA. Come on, gran'fer, Ferapont Spiridonitch. Come on.

MASHA. I don't like this Mihail Potapitch or Ivanitch, Protopopov.
We oughtn't to invite him here.

IRINA. I never asked him.

MASHA. That's all right.

[Enter CHEBUTIKIN followed by a soldier with a silver samovar;
there is a rumble of dissatisfied surprise.]

OLGA. [Covers her face with her hands] A samovar! That's awful!
[Exit into the dining-room, to the table.]

IRINA. My dear Ivan Romanovitch, what are you doing!

TUZENBACH. [Laughs] I told you so!

MASHA. Ivan Romanovitch, you are simply shameless!

CHEBUTIKIN. My dear good girl, you are the only thing, and the
dearest thing I have in the world. I'll soon be sixty. I'm an old
man, a lonely worthless old man. The only good thing in me is my
love for you, and if it hadn't been for that, I would have been
dead long ago. ... [To IRINA] My dear little girl, I've known you
since the day of your birth, I've carried you in my arms ... I
loved your dead mother. ...

MASHA. But your presents are so expensive!

CHEBUTIKIN. [Angrily, through his tears] Expensive presents. ...
You really, are! ... [To the orderly] Take the samovar in there. ...
[Teasing] Expensive presents!

[The orderly goes into the dining-room with the samovar.]

ANFISA. [Enters and crosses stage] My dear, there's a strange
Colonel come! He's taken off his coat already. Children, he's
coming here. Irina darling, you'll be a nice and polite little
girl, won't you. ... Should have lunched a long time ago. ... Oh,
Lord. ... [Exit.]

TUZENBACH. It must be Vershinin. [Enter VERSHININ] Lieutenant-Colonel

VERSHININ. [To MASHA and IRINA] I have the honour to introduce
myself, my name is Vershinin. I am very glad indeed to be able to
come at last. How you've grown! Oh! oh!

IRINA. Please sit down. We're very glad you've come.

VERSHININ. [Gaily] I am glad, very glad! But there are three
sisters, surely. I remember--three little girls. I forget your
faces, but your father, Colonel Prosorov, used to have three little
girls, I remember that perfectly, I saw them with my own eyes. How
time does fly! Oh, dear, how it flies!

TUZENBACH. Alexander Ignateyevitch comes from Moscow.

IRINA. From Moscow? Are you from Moscow?

VERSHININ. Yes, that's so. Your father used to be in charge of a
battery there, and I was an officer in the same brigade. [To MASHA]
I seem to remember your face a little.

MASHA. I don't remember you.

IRINA. Olga! Olga! [Shouts into the dining-room] Olga! Come along!
[OLGA enters from the dining-room] Lieutenant Colonel Vershinin
comes from Moscow, as it happens.

VERSHININ. I take it that you are Olga Sergeyevna, the eldest, and
that you are Maria ... and you are Irina, the youngest. ...

OLGA. So you come from Moscow?

VERSHININ. Yes. I went to school in Moscow and began my service
there; I was there for a long time until at last I got my battery
and moved over here, as you see. I don't really remember you, I
only remember that there used to be three sisters. I remember your
father well; I have only to shut my eyes to see him as he was. I
used to come to your house in Moscow. ...

OLGA. I used to think I remembered everybody, but ...

VERSHININ. My name is Alexander Ignateyevitch.

IRINA. Alexander Ignateyevitch, you've come from Moscow. That is
really quite a surprise!

OLGA. We are going to live there, you see.

IRINA. We think we may be there this autumn. It's our native town,
we were born there. In Old Basmanni Road. ... [They both laugh for

MASHA. We've unexpectedly met a fellow countryman. [Briskly] I
remember: Do you remember, Olga, they used to speak at home of a
"lovelorn Major." You were only a Lieutenant then, and in love with
somebody, but for some reason they always called you a Major for

VERSHININ. [Laughs] That's it ... the lovelorn Major, that's got it!

MASHA. You only wore moustaches then. You have grown older!
[Through her tears] You have grown older!

VERSHININ. Yes, when they used to call me the lovelorn Major, I was
young and in love. I've grown out of both now.

OLGA. But you haven't a single white hair yet. You're older, but
you're not yet old.

VERSHININ. I'm forty-two, anyway. Have you been away from Moscow

IRINA. Eleven years. What are you crying for, Masha, you little
fool. ... [Crying] And I'm crying too.

MASHA. It's all right. And where did you live?

VERSHININ. Old Basmanni Road.

OLGA. Same as we.

VERSHININ. Once I used to live in German Street. That was when the
Red Barracks were my headquarters. There's an ugly bridge in
between, where the water rushes underneath. One gets melancholy
when one is alone there. [Pause] Here the river is so wide and
fine! It's a splendid river!

OLGA. Yes, but it's so cold. It's very cold here, and the midges. ...

VERSHININ. What are you saying! Here you've got such a fine healthy
Russian climate. You've a forest, a river ... and birches. Dear,
modest birches, I like them more than any other tree. It's good to
live here. Only it's odd that the railway station should be
thirteen miles away. ... Nobody knows why.

SOLENI. I know why. [All look at him] Because if it was near it
wouldn't be far off, and if it's far off, it can't be near. [An
awkward pause.]

TUZENBACH. Funny man.

OLGA. Now I know who you are. I remember.

VERSHININ. I used to know your mother.

CHEBUTIKIN. She was a good woman, rest her soul.

IRINA. Mother is buried in Moscow.

OLGA. At the Novo-Devichi Cemetery.

MASHA. Do you know, I'm beginning to forget her face. We'll be
forgotten in just the same way.

VERSHININ. Yes, they'll forget us. It's our fate, it can't be
helped. A time will come when everything that seems serious,
significant, or very important to us will be forgotten, or
considered trivial. [Pause] And the curious thing is that we can't
possibly find out what will come to be regarded as great and
important, and what will be feeble, or silly. Didn't the
discoveries of Copernicus, or Columbus, say, seem unnecessary and
ludicrous at first, while wasn't it thought that some rubbish
written by a fool, held all the truth? And it may so happen that
our present existence, with which we are so satisfied, will in time
appear strange, inconvenient, stupid, unclean, perhaps even sinful. ...

TUZENBACH. Who knows? But on the other hand, they may call our life
noble and honour its memory. We've abolished torture and capital
punishment, we live in security, but how much suffering there is

SOLENI. [In a feeble voice] There, there. ... The Baron will go
without his dinner if you only let him talk philosophy.

TUZENBACH. Vassili Vassilevitch, kindly leave me alone. [Changes
his chair] You're very dull, you know.

SOLENI. [Feebly] There, there, there.

TUZENBACH. [To VERSHININ] The sufferings we see to-day--there are
so many of them!--still indicate a certain moral improvement in

VERSHININ. Yes, yes, of course.

CHEBUTIKIN. You said just now, Baron, that they may call our life
noble; but we are very petty. ... [Stands up] See how little I am.
[Violin played behind.]

MASHA. That's Andrey playing--our brother.

IRINA. He's the learned member of the family. I expect he will be a
professor some day. Father was a soldier, but his son chose an
academic career for himself.

MASHA. That was father's wish.

OLGA. We ragged him to-day. We think he's a little in love.

IRINA. To a local lady. She will probably come here to-day.

MASHA. You should see the way she dresses! Quite prettily, quite
fashionably too, but so badly! Some queer bright yellow skirt with
a wretched little fringe and a red bodice. And such a complexion!
Andrey isn't in love. After all he has taste, he's simply making
fun of us. I heard yesterday that she was going to marry
Protopopov, the chairman of the Local Council. That would do her
nicely. ... [At the side door] Andrey, come here! Just for a
minute, dear! [Enter ANDREY.]

OLGA. My brother, Andrey Sergeyevitch.

VERSHININ. My name is Vershinin.

ANDREY. Mine is Prosorov. [Wipes his perspiring hands] You've come
to take charge of the battery?

OLGA. Just think, Alexander Ignateyevitch comes from Moscow.

ANDREY. That's all right. Now my little sisters won't give you any

VERSHININ. I've already managed to bore your sisters.

IRINA. Just look what a nice little photograph frame Andrey gave me
to-day. [Shows it] He made it himself.

VERSHININ. [Looks at the frame and does not know what to say] Yes. ...
It's a thing that ...

IRINA. And he made that frame there, on the piano as well. [Andrey
waves his hand and walks away.]

OLGA. He's got a degree, and plays the violin, and cuts all sorts
of things out of wood, and is really a domestic Admirable Crichton.
Don't go away, Andrey! He's got into a habit of always going away.
Come here!

[MASHA and IRINA take his arms and laughingly lead him back.]

MASHA. Come on, come on!

ANDREY. Please leave me alone.

MASHA. You are funny. Alexander Ignateyevitch used to be called the
lovelorn Major, but he never minded.

VERSHININ. Not the least.

MASHA. I'd like to call you the lovelorn fiddler!

IRINA. Or the lovelorn professor!

OLGA. He's in love! little Andrey is in love!

IRINA. [Applauds] Bravo, Bravo! Encore! Little Andrey is in love.

CHEBUTIKIN. [Goes up behind ANDREY and takes him round the waist
with both arms] Nature only brought us into the world that we
should love! [Roars with laughter, then sits down and reads a
newspaper which he takes out of his pocket.]

ANDREY. That's enough, quite enough. ... [Wipes his face] I
couldn't sleep all night and now I can't quite find my feet, so to
speak. I read until four o'clock, then tried to sleep, but nothing
happened. I thought about one thing and another, and then it dawned
and the sun crawled into my bedroom. This summer, while I'm here, I
want to translate a book from the English. ...

VERSHININ. Do you read English?

ANDREY. Yes father, rest his soul, educated us almost violently. It
may seem funny and silly, but it's nevertheless true, that after
his death I began to fill out and get rounder, as if my body had
had some great pressure taken off it. Thanks to father, my sisters
and I know French, German, and English, and Irina knows Italian as
well. But we paid dearly for it all!

MASHA. A knowledge of three languages is an unnecessary luxury in
this town. It isn't even a luxury but a sort of useless extra, like
a sixth finger. We know a lot too much.

VERSHININ. Well, I say! [Laughs] You know a lot too much! I don't
think there can really be a town so dull and stupid as to have no
place for a clever, cultured person. Let us suppose even that among
the hundred thousand inhabitants of this backward and uneducated
town, there are only three persons like yourself. It stands to
reason that you won't be able to conquer that dark mob around you;
little by little as you grow older you will be bound to give way
and lose yourselves in this crowd of a hundred thousand human
beings; their life will suck you up in itself, but still, you won't
disappear having influenced nobody; later on, others like you will
come, perhaps six of them, then twelve, and so on, until at last
your sort will be in the majority. In two or three hundred years'
time life on this earth will be unimaginably beautiful and
wonderful. Mankind needs such a life, and if it is not ours to-day
then we must look ahead for it, wait, think, prepare for it. We
must see and know more than our fathers and grandfathers saw and
knew. [Laughs] And you complain that you know too much.

MASHA. [Takes off her hat] I'll stay to lunch.

IRINA. [Sighs] Yes, all that ought to be written down.

[ANDREY has gone out quietly.]

TUZENBACH. You say that many years later on, life on this earth
will be beautiful and wonderful. That's true. But to share in it
now, even though at a distance, we must prepare by work. ...

VERSHININ. [Gets up] Yes. What a lot of flowers you have. [Looks
round] It's a beautiful flat. I envy you! I've spent my whole life
in rooms with two chairs, one sofa, and fires which always smoke.
I've never had flowers like these in my life. ... [Rubs his hands]
Well, well!

TUZENBACH. Yes, we must work. You are probably thinking to
yourself: the German lets himself go. But I assure you I'm a
Russian, I can't even speak German. My father belonged to the
Orthodox Church. ... [Pause.]

VERSHININ. [Walks about the stage] I often wonder: suppose we could
begin life over again, knowing what we were doing? Suppose we could
use one life, already ended, as a sort of rough draft for another?
I think that every one of us would try, more than anything else,
not to repeat himself, at the very least he would rearrange his
manner of life, he would make sure of rooms like these, with
flowers and light ... I have a wife and two daughters, my wife's
health is delicate and so on and so on, and if I had to begin life
all over again I would not marry. ... No, no!

[Enter KULIGIN in a regulation jacket.]

KULIGIN. [Going up to IRINA] Dear sister, allow me to congratulate
you on the day sacred to your good angel and to wish you, sincerely
and from the bottom of my heart, good health and all that one can
wish for a girl of your years. And then let me offer you this book
as a present. [Gives it to her] It is the history of our High
School during the last fifty years, written by myself. The book is
worthless, and written because I had nothing to do, but read it all
the same. Good day, gentlemen! [To VERSHININ] My name is Kuligin, I
am a master of the local High School. [Note: He adds that he is a
_Nadvorny Sovetnik_ (almost the same as a German _Hofrat_), an
undistinguished civilian title with no English equivalent.] [To
IRINA] In this book you will find a list of all those who have
taken the full course at our High School during these fifty years.
_Feci quod potui, faciant meliora potentes_. [Kisses MASHA.]

IRINA. But you gave me one of these at Easter.

KULIGIN. [Laughs] I couldn't have, surely! You'd better give it
back to me in that case, or else give it to the Colonel. Take it,
Colonel. You'll read it some day when you're bored.

VERSHININ. Thank you. [Prepares to go] I am extremely happy to have
made the acquaintance of ...

OLGA. Must you go? No, not yet?

IRINA. You'll stop and have lunch with us. Please do.

OLGA. Yes, please!

VERSHININ. [Bows] I seem to have dropped in on your name-day. Forgive
me, I didn't know, and I didn't offer you my congratulations. [Goes
with OLGA into the dining-room.]

KULIGIN. To-day is Sunday, the day of rest, so let us rest and
rejoice, each in a manner compatible with his age and disposition.
The carpets will have to be taken up for the summer and put away
till the winter ... Persian powder or naphthaline. ... The Romans
were healthy because they knew both how to work and how to rest,
they had _mens sana in corpore sano_. Their life ran along certain
recognized patterns. Our director says: "The chief thing about each
life is its pattern. Whoever loses his pattern is lost himself"--
and it's just the same in our daily life. [Takes MASHA by the
waist, laughing] Masha loves me. My wife loves me. And you ought to
put the window curtains away with the carpets. ... I'm feeling
awfully pleased with life to-day. Masha, we've got to be at the
director's at four. They're getting up a walk for the pedagogues
and their families.

MASHA. I shan't go.

KULIGIN. [Hurt] My dear Masha, why not?

MASHA. I'll tell you later. ... [Angrily] All right, I'll go, only
please stand back. ... [Steps away.]

KULIGIN. And then we're to spend the evening at the director's. In
spite of his ill-health that man tries, above everything else, to
be sociable. A splendid, illuminating personality. A wonderful man.
After yesterday's committee he said to me: "I'm tired, Feodor
Ilitch, I'm tired!" [Looks at the clock, then at his watch] Your
clock is seven minutes fast. "Yes," he said, "I'm tired." [Violin
played off.]

OLGA. Let's go and have lunch! There's to be a masterpiece of

KULIGIN. Oh my dear Olga, my dear. Yesterday I was working till
eleven o'clock at night, and got awfully tired. To-day I'm quite
happy. [Goes into dining-room] My dear ...

CHEBUTIKIN. [Puts his paper into his pocket, and combs his beard] A
pie? Splendid!

MASHA. [Severely to CHEBUTIKIN] Only mind; you're not to drink
anything to-day. Do you hear? It's bad for you.

CHEBUTIKIN. Oh, that's all right. I haven't been drunk for two
years. And it's all the same, anyway!

MASHA. You're not to dare to drink, all the same. [Angrily, but so
that her husband should not hear] Another dull evening at the
Director's, confound it!

TUZENBACH. I shouldn't go if I were you. ... It's quite simple.


MASHA. Yes, "don't go. ..." It's a cursed, unbearable life. ...
[Goes into dining-room.]

CHEBUTIKIN. [Follows her] It's not so bad.

SOLENI. [Going into the dining-room] There, there, there. ...

TUZENBACH. Vassili Vassilevitch, that's enough. Be quiet!

SOLENI. There, there, there. ...

KULIGIN. [Gaily] Your health, Colonel! I'm a pedagogue and not
quite at home here. I'm Masha's husband. ... She's a good sort, a
very good sort.

VERSHININ. I'll have some of this black vodka. ... [Drinks] Your
health! [To OLGA] I'm very comfortable here!

[Only IRINA and TUZENBACH are now left in the sitting-room.]

IRINA. Masha's out of sorts to-day. She married when she was
eighteen, when he seemed to her the wisest of men. And now it's
different. He's the kindest man, but not the wisest.

OLGA. [Impatiently] Andrey, when are you coming?

ANDREY. [Off] One minute. [Enters and goes to the table.]

TUZENBACH. What are you thinking about?

IRINA. I don't like this Soleni of yours and I'm afraid of him. He
only says silly things.

TUZENBACH. He's a queer man. I'm sorry for him, though he vexes me.
I think he's shy. When there are just the two of us he's quite all
right and very good company; when other people are about he's rough
and hectoring. Don't let's go in, let them have their meal without
us. Let me stay with you. What are you thinking of? [Pause] You're
twenty. I'm not yet thirty. How many years are there left to us,
with their long, long lines of days, filled with my love for you. ...

IRINA. Nicolai Lvovitch, don't speak to me of love.

TUZENBACH. [Does not hear] I've a great thirst for life, struggle,
and work, and this thirst has united with my love for you, Irina,
and you're so beautiful, and life seems so beautiful to me! What
are you thinking about?

IRINA. You say that life is beautiful. Yes, if only it seems so!
The life of us three hasn't been beautiful yet; it has been
stifling us as if it was weeds ... I'm crying. I oughtn't. ...
[Dries her tears, smiles] We must work, work. That is why we are
unhappy and look at the world so sadly; we don't know what work is.
Our parents despised work. ...

[Enter NATALIA IVANOVA; she wears a pink dress and a green sash.]

NATASHA. They're already at lunch ... I'm late ... [Carefully
examines herself in a mirror, and puts herself straight] I think my
hair's done all right. ... [Sees IRINA] Dear Irina Sergeyevna, I
congratulate you! [Kisses her firmly and at length] You've so many
visitors, I'm really ashamed. ... How do you do, Baron!

OLGA. [Enters from dining-room] Here's Natalia Ivanovna. How are
you, dear! [They kiss.]

NATASHA. Happy returns. I'm awfully shy, you've so many people

OLGA. All our friends. [Frightened, in an undertone] You're wearing
a green sash! My dear, you shouldn't!

NATASHA. Is it a sign of anything?

OLGA. No, it simply doesn't go well ... and it looks so queer.

NATASHA. [In a tearful voice] Yes? But it isn't really green, it's
too dull for that. [Goes into dining-room with OLGA.]

[They have all sat down to lunch in the dining-room, the
sitting-room is empty.]

KULIGIN. I wish you a nice fiancée, Irina. It's quite time you

CHEBUTIKIN. Natalia Ivanovna, I wish you the same.

KULIGIN. Natalia Ivanovna has a fiancé already.

MASHA. [Raps with her fork on a plate] Let's all get drunk and make
life purple for once!

KULIGIN. You've lost three good conduct marks.

VERSHININ. This is a nice drink. What's it made of?

SOLENI. Blackbeetles.

IRINA. [Tearfully] Phoo! How disgusting!

OLGA. There is to be a roast turkey and a sweet apple pie for
dinner. Thank goodness I can spend all day and the evening at home.
You'll come in the evening, ladies and gentlemen. ...

VERSHININ. And please may I come in the evening!

IRINA. Please do.

NATASHA. They don't stand on ceremony here.

CHEBUTIKIN. Nature only brought us into the world that we should
love! [Laughs.]

ANDREY. [Angrily] Please don't! Aren't you tired of it?

[Enter FEDOTIK and RODE with a large basket of flowers.]

FEDOTIK. They're lunching already.

RODE. [Loudly and thickly] Lunching? Yes, so they are. ...

FEDOTIK. Wait a minute! [Takes a photograph] That's one. No, just a
moment. ... [Takes another] That's two. Now we're ready!

[They take the basket and go into the dining-room, where they have
a noisy reception.]

RODE. [Loudly] Congratulations and best wishes! Lovely weather
to-day, simply perfect. Was out walking with the High School
students all the morning. I take their drills.

FEDOTIK. You may move, Irina Sergeyevna! [Takes a photograph] You
look well to-day. [Takes a humming-top out of his pocket] Here's a
humming-top, by the way. It's got a lovely note!

IRINA. How awfully nice!

MASHA. "There stands a green oak by the sea,
        And a chain of bright gold is around it ...
        And a chain of bright gold is around it ..."
[Tearfully] What am I saying that for? I've had those words running
in my head all day. ...

KULIGIN. There are thirteen at table!

RODE. [Aloud] Surely you don't believe in that superstition?

KULIGIN. If there are thirteen at table then it means there are
lovers present. It isn't you, Ivan Romanovitch, hang it all. ...

CHEBUTIKIN. I'm a hardened sinner, but I really don't see why
Natalia Ivanovna should blush. ...

[Loud laughter; NATASHA runs out into the sitting-room, followed by

ANDREY. Don't pay any attention to them! Wait ... do stop, please. ...

NATASHA. I'm shy ... I don't know what's the matter with me and
they're all laughing at me. It wasn't nice of me to leave the table
like that, but I can't ... I can't. [Covers her face with her

ANDREY. My dear, I beg you. I implore you not to excite yourself. I
assure you they're only joking, they're kind people. My dear, good
girl, they're all kind and sincere people, and they like both you
and me. Come here to the window, they can't see us here. ... [Looks

NATASHA. I'm so unaccustomed to meeting people!

ANDREY. Oh your youth, your splendid, beautiful youth! My darling,
don't be so excited! Believe me, believe me ... I'm so happy, my
soul is full of love, of ecstasy. ... They don't see us! They
can't! Why, why or when did I fall in love with you--Oh, I can't
understand anything. My dear, my pure darling, be my wife! I love
you, love you ... as never before. ... [They kiss.]

[Two officers come in and, seeing the lovers kiss, stop in



[Scene as before. It is 8 p.m. Somebody is heard playing a
concertina outside in' the street. There is no fire. NATALIA
IVANOVNA enters in indoor dress carrying a candle; she stops by the
door which leads into ANDREY'S room.]

NATASHA. What are you doing, Andrey? Are you reading? It's nothing,
only I. ... [She opens another door, and looks in, then closes it]
Isn't there any fire. ...

ANDREY. [Enters with book in hand] What are you doing, Natasha?

NATASHA. I was looking to see if there wasn't a fire. It's
Shrovetide, and the servant is simply beside herself; I must look
out that something doesn't happen. When I came through the
dining-room yesterday midnight, there was a candle burning. I
couldn't get her to tell me who had lighted it. [Puts down her
candle] What's the time?

ANDREY. [Looks at his watch] A quarter past eight.

NATASHA. And Olga and Irina aren't in yet. The poor things are
still at work. Olga at the teacher's council, Irina at the
telegraph office. ... [Sighs] I said to your sister this morning,
"Irina, darling, you must take care of yourself." But she pays no
attention. Did you say it was a quarter past eight? I am afraid
little Bobby is quite ill. Why is he so cold? He was feverish
yesterday, but to-day he is quite cold ... I am so frightened!

ANDREY. It's all right, Natasha. The boy is well.

NATASHA. Still, I think we ought to put him on a diet. I am so
afraid. And the entertainers were to be here after nine; they had
better not come, Audrey.

ANDREY. I don't know. After all, they were asked.

NATASHA. This morning, when the little boy woke up and saw me he
suddenly smiled; that means he knew me. "Good morning, Bobby!" I
said, "good morning, darling." And he laughed. Children understand,
they understand very well. So I'll tell them, Andrey dear, not to
receive the entertainers.

ANDREY. [Hesitatingly] But what about my sisters. This is their

NATASHA. They'll do as I want them. They are so kind. ... [Going] I
ordered sour milk for supper. The doctor says you must eat sour
milk and nothing else, or you won't get thin. [Stops] Bobby is so
cold. I'm afraid his room is too cold for him. It would be nice to
put him into another room till the warm weather comes. Irina's
room, for instance, is just right for a child: it's dry and has the
sun all day. I must tell her, she can share Olga's room. It isn't
as if she was at home in the daytime, she only sleeps here. ... [A
pause] Andrey, darling, why are you so silent?

ANDREY. I was just thinking. ... There is really nothing to say. ...

NATASHA. Yes ... there was something I wanted to tell you. ... Oh,
yes. Ferapont has come from the Council offices, he wants to see

ANDREY. [Yawns] Call him here.

[NATASHA goes out; ANDREY reads his book, stooping over the candle
she has left behind. FERAPONT enters; he wears a tattered old coat
with the collar up. His ears are muffled.]

ANDREY. Good morning, grandfather. What have you to say?

FERAPONT. The Chairman sends a book and some documents or other.
Here. ... [Hands him a book and a packet.]

ANDREY. Thank you. It's all right. Why couldn't you come earlier?
It's past eight now.


ANDREY. [Louder]. I say you've come late, it's past eight.

FERAPONT. Yes, yes. I came when it was still light, but they
wouldn't let me in. They said you were busy. Well, what was I to
do. If you're busy, you're busy, and I'm in no hurry. [He thinks
that ANDREY is asking him something] What?

ANDREY. Nothing. [Looks through the book] To-morrow's Friday. I'm
not supposed to go to work, but I'll come--all the same ... and do
some work. It's dull at home. [Pause] Oh, my dear old man, how
strangely life changes, and how it deceives! To-day, out of sheer
boredom, I took up this book--old university lectures, and I
couldn't help laughing. My God, I'm secretary of the local district
council, the council which has Protopopov for its chairman, yes,
I'm the secretary, and the summit of my ambitions is--to become a
member of the council! I to be a member of the local district
council, I, who dream every night that I'm a professor of Moscow
University, a famous scholar of whom all Russia is proud!

FERAPONT. I can't tell ... I'm hard of hearing. ...

ANDREY. If you weren't, I don't suppose I should talk to you. I've
got to talk to somebody, and my wife doesn't understand me, and I'm
a bit afraid of my sisters--I don't know why unless it is that they
may make fun of me and make me feel ashamed ... I don't drink, I
don't like public-houses, but how I should like to be sitting just
now in Tyestov's place in Moscow, or at the Great Moscow, old

FERAPONT. Moscow? That's where a contractor was once telling that
some merchants or other were eating pancakes; one ate forty
pancakes and he went and died, he was saying. Either forty or
fifty, I forget which.

ANDREY. In Moscow you can sit in an enormous restaurant where you
don't know anybody and where nobody knows you, and you don't feel
all the same that you're a stranger. And here you know everybody
and everybody knows you, and you're a stranger ... and a lonely

FERAPONT. What? And the same contractor was telling--perhaps he was
lying--that there was a cable stretching right across Moscow.

ANDREY. What for?

FERAPONT. I can't tell. The contractor said so.

ANDREY. Rubbish. [He reads] Were you ever in Moscow?

FERAPONT. [After a pause] No. God did not lead me there. [Pause]
Shall I go?

ANDREY. You may go. Good-bye. [FERAPONT goes] Good-bye. [Reads] You
can come to-morrow and fetch these documents. ... Go along. ...
[Pause] He's gone. [A ring] Yes, yes. ... [Stretches himself and
slowly goes into his own room.]

[Behind the scene the nurse is singing a lullaby to the child.
MASHA and VERSHININ come in. While they talk, a maidservant lights
candles and a lamp.]

MASHA. I don't know. [Pause] I don't know. Of course, habit counts
for a great deal. After father's death, for instance, it took us a
long time to get used to the absence of orderlies. But, apart from
habit, it seems to me in all fairness that, however it may be in
other towns, the best and most-educated people are army men.

VERSHININ. I'm thirsty. I should like some tea.

MASHA. [Glancing at her watch] They'll bring some soon. I was given
in marriage when I was eighteen, and I was afraid of my husband
because he was a teacher and I'd only just left school. He then
seemed to me frightfully wise and learned and important. And now,
unfortunately, that has changed.

VERSHININ. Yes ... yes.

MASHA. I don't speak of my husband, I've grown used to him, but
civilians in general are so often coarse, impolite, uneducated.
Their rudeness offends me, it angers me. I suffer when I see that a
man isn't quite sufficiently refined, or delicate, or polite. I
simply suffer agonies when I happen to be among schoolmasters, my
husband's colleagues.

VERSHININ. Yes. ... It seems to me that civilians and army men are
equally interesting, in this town, at any rate. It's all the same!
If you listen to a member of the local intelligentsia, whether to
civilian or military, he will tell you that he's sick of his wife,
sick of his house, sick of his estate, sick of his horses. ... We
Russians are extremely gifted in the direction of thinking on an
exalted plane, but, tell me, why do we aim so low in real life?


VERSHININ. Why is a Russian sick of his children, sick of his wife?
And why are his wife and children sick of him?

MASHA. You're a little downhearted to-day.

VERSHININ. Perhaps I am. I haven't had any dinner, I've had nothing
since the morning. My daughter is a little unwell, and when my
girls are ill, I get very anxious and my conscience tortures me
because they have such a mother. Oh, if you had seen her to-day!
What a trivial personality! We began quarrelling at seven in the
morning and at nine I slammed the door and went out. [Pause] I
never speak of her, it's strange that I bear my complaints to you
alone. [Kisses her hand] Don't be angry with me. I haven't anybody
but you, nobody at all. ... [Pause.]

MASHA. What a noise in the oven. Just before father's death there
was a noise in the pipe, just like that.

VERSHININ. Are you superstitious?


VERSHININ. That's strange. [Kisses her hand] You are a splendid,
wonderful woman. Splendid, wonderful! It is dark here, but I see
your sparkling eyes.

MASHA. [Sits on another chair] There is more light here.

VERSHININ. I love you, love you, love you ... I love your eyes,
your movements, I dream of them. ... Splendid, wonderful woman!

MASHA. [Laughing] When you talk to me like that, I laugh; I don't
know why, for I'm afraid. Don't repeat it, please. ... [In an
undertone] No, go on, it's all the same to me. ... [Covers her face
with her hands] Somebody's coming, let's talk about something else.

[IRINA and TUZENBACH come in through the dining-room.]

TUZENBACH. My surname is really triple. I am called Baron
Tuzenbach-Krone-Altschauer, but I am Russian and Orthodox, the same
as you. There is very little German left in me, unless perhaps it
is the patience and the obstinacy with which I bore you. I see you
home every night.

IRINA. How tired I am!

TUZENBACH. And I'll come to the telegraph office to see you home
every day for ten or twenty years, until you drive me away. [He
sees MASHA and VERSHININ; joyfully] Is that you? How do you do.

IRINA. Well, I am home at last. [To MASHA] A lady came to-day to
telegraph to her brother in Saratov that her son died to-day, and
she couldn't remember the address anyhow. So she sent the telegram
without an address, just to Saratov. She was crying. And for some
reason or other I was rude to her. "I've no time," I said. It was
so stupid. Are the entertainers coming to-night?


IRINA. [Sitting down in an armchair] I want a rest. I am tired.

TUZENBACH. [Smiling] When you come home from your work you seem so
young, and so unfortunate. ... [Pause.]

IRINA. I am tired. No, I don't like the telegraph office, I don't
like it.

MASHA. You've grown thinner. ... [Whistles a little] And you look
younger, and your face has become like a boy's.

TUZENBACH. That's the way she does her hair.

IRINA. I must find another job, this one won't do for me. What I
wanted, what I hoped to get, just that is lacking here. Labour
without poetry, without ideas. ... [A knock on the floor] The
doctor is knocking. [To TUZENBACH] Will you knock, dear. I can't ...
I'm tired. ... [TUZENBACH knocks] He'll come in a minute. Something
ought to be done. Yesterday the doctor and Andrey played cards at
the club and lost money. Andrey seems to have lost 200 roubles.

MASHA. [With indifference] What can we do now?

IRINA. He lost money a fortnight ago, he lost money in December.
Perhaps if he lost everything we should go away from this town. Oh,
my God, I dream of Moscow every night. I'm just like a lunatic.
[Laughs] We go there in June, and before June there's still ...
February, March, April, May ... nearly half a year!

MASHA. Only Natasha mustn't get to know of these losses.

IRINA. I expect it will be all the same to her.

[CHEBUTIKIN, who has only just got out of bed--he was resting after
dinner--comes into the dining-room and combs his beard. He then
sits by the table and takes a newspaper from his pocket.]

MASHA. Here he is. ... Has he paid his rent?

IRINA. [Laughs] No. He's been here eight months and hasn't paid a
copeck. Seems to have forgotten.

MASHA. [Laughs] What dignity in his pose! [They all laugh. A

IRINA. Why are you so silent, Alexander Ignateyevitch?

VERSHININ. I don't know. I want some tea. Half my life for a
tumbler of tea: I haven't had anything since morning.

CHEBUTIKIN. Irina Sergeyevna!

IRINA. What is it?

CHEBUTIKIN. Please come here, Venez ici. [IRINA goes and sits by
the table] I can't do without you. [IRINA begins to play patience.]

VERSHININ. Well, if we can't have any tea, let's philosophize, at
any rate.

TUZENBACH. Yes, let's. About what?

VERSHININ. About what? Let us meditate ... about life as it will be
after our time; for example, in two or three hundred years.

TUZENBACH. Well? After our time people will fly about in balloons,
the cut of one's coat will change, perhaps they'll discover a sixth
sense and develop it, but life will remain the same, laborious,
mysterious, and happy. And in a thousand years' time, people will
still be sighing: "Life is hard!"--and at the same time they'll be
just as afraid of death, and unwilling to meet it, as we are.

VERSHININ. [Thoughtfully] How can I put it? It seems to me that
everything on earth must change, little by little, and is already
changing under our very eyes. After two or three hundred years,
after a thousand--the actual time doesn't matter--a new and happy
age will begin. We, of course, shall not take part in it, but we
live and work and even suffer to-day that it should come. We create
it--and in that one object is our destiny and, if you like, our

[MASHA laughs softly.]

TUZENBACH. What is it?

MASHA. I don't know. I've been laughing all day, ever since

VERSHININ. I finished my education at the same point as you, I have
not studied at universities; I read a lot, but I cannot choose my
books and perhaps what I read is not at all what I should, but the
longer I love, the more I want to know. My hair is turning white, I
am nearly an old man now, but I know so little, oh, so little! But
I think I know the things that matter most, and that are most real.
I know them well. And I wish I could make you understand that there
is no happiness for us, that there should not and cannot be. ... We
must only work and work, and happiness is only for our distant
posterity. [Pause] If not for me, then for the descendants of my

[FEDOTIK and RODE come into the dining-room; they sit and sing
softly, strumming on a guitar.]

TUZENBACH. According to you, one should not even think about
happiness! But suppose I am happy!


TUZENBACH. [Moves his hands and laughs] We do not seem to
understand each other. How can I convince you? [MASHA laughs
quietly, TUZENBACH continues, pointing at her] Yes, laugh! [To
VERSHININ] Not only after two or three centuries, but in a million
years, life will still be as it was; life does not change, it
remains for ever, following its own laws which do not concern us,
or which, at any rate, you will never find out. Migrant birds,
cranes for example, fly and fly, and whatever thoughts, high or
low, enter their heads, they will still fly and not know why or
where. They fly and will continue to fly, whatever philosophers
come to life among them; they may philosophize as much as they
like, only they will fly. ...

MASHA. Still, is there a meaning?

TUZENBACH. A meaning. ... Now the snow is falling. What meaning?

MASHA. It seems to me that a man must have faith, or must search
for a faith, or his life will be empty, empty. ... To live and not
to know why the cranes fly, why babies are born, why there are
stars in the sky. ... Either you must know why you live, or
everything is trivial, not worth a straw. [A pause.]

VERSHININ. Still, I am sorry that my youth has gone.

MASHA. Gogol says: life in this world is a dull matter, my masters!

TUZENBACH. And I say it's difficult to argue with you, my masters!
Hang it all.

CHEBUTIKIN. [Reading] Balzac was married at Berdichev. [IRINA is
singing softly] That's worth making a note of. [He makes a note]
Balzac was married at Berdichev. [Goes on reading.]

IRINA. [Laying out cards, thoughtfully] Balzac was married at

TUZENBACH. The die is cast. I've handed in my resignation, Maria

MASHA. So I heard. I don't see what good it is; I don't like

TUZENBACH. Never mind. ... [Gets up] I'm not handsome; what use am
I as a soldier? Well, it makes no difference ... I shall work. If
only just once in my life I could work so that I could come home in
the evening, fall exhausted on my bed, and go to sleep at once.
[Going into the dining-room] Workmen, I suppose, do sleep soundly!

FEDOTIK. [To IRINA] I bought some coloured pencils for you at
Pizhikov's in the Moscow Road, just now. And here is a little

IRINA. You have got into the habit of behaving to me as if I am a
little girl, but I am grown up. [Takes the pencils and the knife,
then, with joy] How lovely!

FEDOTIK. And I bought myself a knife ... look at it ... one blade,
another, a third, an ear-scoop, scissors, nail-cleaners.

RODE. [Loudly] Doctor, how old are you?

CHEBUTIKIN. I? Thirty-two. [Laughter]

FEDOTIK. I'll show you another kind of patience. ... [Lays out

[A samovar is brought in; ANFISA attends to it; a little later
NATASHA enters and helps by the table; SOLENI arrives and, after
greetings, sits by the table.]

VERSHININ. What a wind!

MASHA. Yes. I'm tired of winter. I've already forgotten what
summer's like.

IRINA. It's coming out, I see. We're going to Moscow.

FEDOTIK. No, it won't come out. Look, the eight was on the two of
spades. [Laughs] That means you won't go to Moscow.

CHEBUTIKIN. [Reading paper] Tsitsigar. Smallpox is raging here.

ANFISA. [Coming up to MASHA] Masha, have some tea, little mother.
[To VERSHININ] Please have some, sir ... excuse me, but I've
forgotten your name. ...

MASHA. Bring some here, nurse. I shan't go over there.

IRINA. Nurse!

ANFISA. Coming, coming!

NATASHA. [To SOLENI] Children at the breast understand perfectly. I
said "Good morning, Bobby; good morning, dear!" And he looked at me
in quite an unusual way. You think it's only the mother in me that
is speaking; I assure you that isn't so! He's a wonderful child.

SOLENI. If he was my child I'd roast him on a frying-pan and eat
him. [Takes his tumbler into the drawing-room and sits in a

NATASHA. [Covers her face in her hands] Vulgar, ill-bred man!

MASHA. He's lucky who doesn't notice whether it's winter now, or
summer. I think that if I were in Moscow, I shouldn't mind about
the weather.

VERSHININ. A few days ago I was reading the prison diary of a
French minister. He had been sentenced on account of the Panama
scandal. With what joy, what delight, he speaks of the birds he saw
through the prison windows, which he had never noticed while he was
a minister. Now, of course, that he is at liberty, he notices birds
no more than he did before. When you go to live in Moscow you'll
not notice it, in just the same way. There can be no happiness for
us, it only exists in our wishes.

TUZENBACH. [Takes cardboard box from the table] Where are the

IRINA. Soleni has eaten them.

TUZENBACH. All of them?

ANFISA. [Serving tea] There's a letter for you.

VERSHININ. For me? [Takes the letter] From my daughter. [Reads]
Yes, of course ... I will go quietly. Excuse me, Maria Sergeyevna.
I shan't have any tea. [Stands up, excited] That eternal story. ...

MASHA. What is it? Is it a secret?

VERSHININ. [Quietly] My wife has poisoned herself again. I must go.
I'll go out quietly. It's all awfully unpleasant. [Kisses MASHA'S
hand] My dear, my splendid, good woman ... I'll go this way,
quietly. [Exit.]

ANFISA. Where has he gone? And I'd served tea. ... What a man.

MASHA. [Angrily] Be quiet! You bother so one can't have a moment's
peace. ... [Goes to the table with her cup] I'm tired of you, old

ANFISA. My dear! Why are you offended!


ANFISA. [Mocking] Anfisa! He sits there and ... [Exit.]

MASHA. [In the dining-room, by the table angrily] Let me sit down!
[Disturbs the cards on the table] Here you are, spreading your
cards out. Have some tea!

IRINA. You are cross, Masha.

MASHA. If I am cross, then don't talk to me. Don't touch me!

CHEBUTIKIN. Don't touch her, don't touch her. ...

MASHA. You're sixty, but you're like a boy, always up to some
beastly nonsense.

NATASHA. [Sighs] Dear Masha, why use such expressions? With your
beautiful exterior you would be simply fascinating in good society,
I tell you so directly, if it wasn't for your words. _Je vous prie,
pardonnez moi, Marie, mais vous avez des manières un peu

TUZENBACH. [Restraining his laughter] Give me ... give me ...
there's some cognac, I think.

NATASHA. _Il parait, que mon Bobick déjà ne dort pas_, he has
awakened. He isn't well to-day. I'll go to him, excuse me ...

IRINA. Where has Alexander Ignateyevitch gone?

MASHA. Home. Something extraordinary has happened to his wife

TUZENBACH. [Goes to SOLENI with a cognac-flask in his hands] You go
on sitting by yourself, thinking of something--goodness knows what.
Come and let's make peace. Let's have some cognac. [They drink] I
expect I'll have to play the piano all night, some rubbish most
likely ... well, so be it!

SOLENI. Why make peace? I haven't quarrelled with you.

TUZENBACH. You always make me feel as if something has taken place
between us. You've a strange character, you must admit.

SOLENI. [Declaims] "I am strange, but who is not? Don't be angry,

TUZENBACH. And what has Aleko to do with it? [Pause.]

SOLENI. When I'm with one other man I behave just like everybody
else, but in company I'm dull and shy and ... talk all manner of
rubbish. But I'm more honest and more honourable than very, very
many people. And I can prove it.

TUZENBACH. I often get angry with you, you always fasten on to me
in company, but I like you all the same. I'm going to drink my fill
to-night, whatever happens. Drink, now!

SOLENI. Let's drink. [They drink] I never had anything against you,
Baron. But my character is like Lermontov's [In a low voice] I even
rather resemble Lermontov, they say. ... [Takes a scent-bottle from
his pocket, and scents his hands.]

TUZENBACH. I've sent in my resignation. Basta! I've been thinking
about it for five years, and at last made up my mind. I shall work.

SOLENI. [Declaims] "Do not be angry, Aleko ... forget, forget, thy
dreams of yore. ..."

[While he is speaking ANDREY enters quietly with a book, and sits
by the table.]

TUZENBACH. I shall work.

CHEBUTIKIN. [Going with IRINA into the dining-room] And the food
was also real Caucasian onion soup, and, for a roast, some

SOLENI. Cheremsha [Note: A variety of garlic.] isn't meat at all,
but a plant something like an onion.

CHEBUTIKIN. No, my angel. Chehartma isn't onion, but roast mutton.

SOLENI. And I tell you, chehartma--is a sort of onion.

CHEBUTIKIN. And I tell you, chehartma--is mutton.

SOLENI. And I tell you, cheremsha--is a sort of onion.

CHEBUTIKIN. What's the use of arguing! You've never been in the
Caucasus, and never ate any chehartma.

SOLENI. I never ate it, because I hate it. It smells like garlic.

ANDREY. [Imploring] Please, please! I ask you!

TUZENBACH. When are the entertainers coming?

IRINA. They promised for about nine; that is, quite soon.

    "Oh my house, my house, my new-built house."

ANDREY. [Dances and sings]
    "Newly-built of maple-wood."

    "Its walls are like a sieve!" [Laughter.]

TUZENBACH. [Kisses ANDREY] Hang it all, let's drink. Andrey, old
boy, let's drink with you. And I'll go with you, Andrey, to the
University of Moscow.

SOLENI. Which one? There are two universities in Moscow.

ANDREY. There's one university in Moscow.

SOLENI. Two, I tell you.

ANDREY. Don't care if there are three. So much the better.

SOLENI. There are two universities in Moscow! [There are murmurs
and "hushes"] There are two universities in Moscow, the old one and
the new one. And if you don't like to listen, if my words annoy
you, then I need not speak. I can even go into another room. ...

TUZENBACH. Bravo, bravo! [Laughs] Come on, now. I'm going to play.
Funny man, Soleni. ... [Goes to the piano and plays a waltz.]

MASHA. [Dancing solo] The Baron's drunk, the Baron's drunk, the
Baron's drunk!

[NATASHA comes in.]

NATASHA. [To CHEBUTIKIN] Ivan Romanovitch!

[Says something to CHEBUTIKIN, then goes out quietly; CHEBUTIKIN
touches TUZENBACH on the shoulder and whispers something to him.]

IRINA. What is it?

CHEBUTIKIN. Time for us to go. Good-bye.

TUZENBACH. Good-night. It's time we went.

IRINA. But, really, the entertainers?

ANDREY. [In confusion] There won't be any entertainers. You see,
dear, Natasha says that Bobby isn't quite well, and so. ... In a
word, I don't care, and it's absolutely all one to me.

IRINA. [Shrugging her shoulders] Bobby ill!

MASHA. What is she thinking of! Well, if they are sent home, I
suppose they must go. [To IRINA] Bobby's all right, it's she
herself. ... Here! [Taps her forehead] Little bourgeoise!

[ANDREY goes to his room through the right-hand door, CHEBUTIKIN
follows him. In the dining-room they are saying good-bye.]

FEDOTIK. What a shame! I was expecting to spend the evening here,
but of course, if the little baby is ill ... I'll bring him some
toys to-morrow.

RODE. [Loudly] I slept late after dinner to-day because I thought I
was going to dance all night. It's only nine o'clock now!

MASHA. Let's go into the street, we can talk there. Then we can
settle things.

(Good-byes and good nights are heard. TUZENBACH'S merry laughter is
heard. [All go out] ANFISA and the maid clear the table, and put
out the lights. [The nurse sings] ANDREY, wearing an overcoat and a
hat, and CHEBUTIKIN enter silently.)

CHEBUTIKIN. I never managed to get married because my life flashed
by like lightning, and because I was madly in love with your
mother, who was married.

ANDREY. One shouldn't marry. One shouldn't, because it's dull.

CHEBUTIKIN. So there I am, in my loneliness. Say what you will,
loneliness is a terrible thing, old fellow. ... Though really ...
of course, it absolutely doesn't matter!

ANDREY. Let's be quicker.

CHEBUTIKIN. What are you in such a hurry for? We shall be in time.

ANDREY. I'm afraid my wife may stop me.


ANDREY. I shan't play to-night, I shall only sit and look on. I
don't feel very well. ... What am I to do for my asthma, Ivan

CHEBUTIKIN. Don't ask me! I don't remember, old fellow, I don't

ANDREY. Let's go through the kitchen. [They go out.]

[A bell rings, then a second time; voices and laughter are heard.]

IRINA. [Enters] What's that?

ANFISA. [Whispers] The entertainers! [Bell.]

IRINA. Tell them there's nobody at home, nurse. They must excuse

[ANFISA goes out. IRINA walks about the room deep in thought; she
is excited. SOLENI enters.]

SOLENI. [In surprise] There's nobody here. ... Where are they all?

IRINA. They've gone home.

SOLENI. How strange. Are you here alone?

IRINA. Yes, alone. [A pause] Good-bye.

SOLENI. Just now I behaved tactlessly, with insufficient reserve.
But you are not like all the others, you are noble and pure, you
can see the truth. ... You alone can understand me. I love you,
deeply, beyond measure, I love you.

IRINA. Good-bye! Go away.

SOLENI. I cannot live without you. [Follows her] Oh, my happiness!
[Through his tears] Oh, joy! Wonderful, marvellous, glorious eyes,
such as I have never seen before. ...

IRINA. [Coldly] Stop it, Vassili Vassilevitch!

SOLENI. This is the first time I speak to you of love, and it is as
if I am no longer on the earth, but on another planet. [Wipes his
forehead] Well, never mind. I can't make you love me by force, of
course ... but I don't intend to have any more-favoured rivals. ...
No ... I swear to you by all the saints, I shall kill my rival. ...
Oh, beautiful one!

[NATASHA enters with a candle; she looks in through one door, then
through another, and goes past the door leading to her husband's

NATASHA. Here's Andrey. Let him go on reading. Excuse me, Vassili
Vassilevitch, I did not know you were here; I am engaged in

SOLENI. It's all the same to me. Good-bye! [Exit.]

NATASHA. You're so tired, my poor dear girl! [Kisses IRINA] If you
only went to bed earlier.

IRINA. Is Bobby asleep?

NATASHA. Yes, but restlessly. By the way, dear, I wanted to tell
you, but either you weren't at home, or I was busy ... I think
Bobby's present nursery is cold and damp. And your room would be so
nice for the child. My dear, darling girl, do change over to Olga's
for a bit!

IRINA. [Not understanding] Where?

[The bells of a troika are heard as it drives up to the house.]

NATASHA. You and Olga can share a room, for the time being, and
Bobby can have yours. He's such a darling; to-day I said to him,
"Bobby, you're mine! Mine!" And he looked at me with his dear
little eyes. [A bell rings] It must be Olga. How late she is! [The
maid enters and whispers to NATASHA] Protopopov? What a queer man
to do such a thing. Protopopov's come and wants me to go for a
drive with him in his troika. [Laughs] How funny these men are. ...
[A bell rings] Somebody has come. Suppose I did go and have half an
hour's drive. ... [To the maid] Say I shan't be long. [Bell rings]
Somebody's ringing, it must be Olga. [Exit.]

[The maid runs out; IRINA sits deep in thought; KULIGIN and OLGA
enter, followed by VERSHININ.]

KULIGIN. Well, there you are. And you said there was going to be a

VERSHININ. It's queer; I went away not long ago, half an hour ago,
and they were expecting entertainers.

IRINA. They've all gone.

KULIGIN. Has Masha gone too? Where has she gone? And what's
Protopopov waiting for downstairs in his troika? Whom is he

IRINA. Don't ask questions ... I'm tired.

KULIGIN. Oh, you're all whimsies. ...

OLGA. My committee meeting is only just over. I'm tired out. Our
chairwoman is ill, so I had to take her place. My head, my head is
aching. ... [Sits] Andrey lost 200 roubles at cards yesterday ...
the whole town is talking about it. ...

KULIGIN. Yes, my meeting tired me too. [Sits.]

VERSHININ. My wife took it into her head to frighten me just now by
nearly poisoning herself. It's all right now, and I'm glad; I can
rest now. ... But perhaps we ought to go away? Well, my best
wishes, Feodor Ilitch, let's go somewhere together! I can't, I
absolutely can't stop at home. ... Come on!

KULIGIN. I'm tired. I won't go. [Gets up] I'm tired. Has my wife
gone home?

IRINA. I suppose so.

KULIGIN. [Kisses IRINA'S hand] Good-bye, I'm going to rest all day
to-morrow and the day after. Best wishes! [Going] I should like
some tea. I was looking forward to spending the whole evening in
pleasant company and--o, fallacem hominum spem! ... Accusative case
after an interjection. ...

VERSHININ. Then I'll go somewhere by myself. [Exit with KULIGIN,

OLGA. I've such a headache ... Andrey has been losing money. ...
The whole town is talking. ... I'll go and lie down. [Going] I'm
free to-morrow. ... Oh, my God, what a mercy! I'm free to-morrow,
I'm free the day after. ... Oh my head, my head. ... [Exit.]

IRINA. [alone] They've all gone. Nobody's left.

[A concertina is being played in the street. The nurse sings.]

NATASHA. [in fur coat and cap, steps across the dining-room,
followed by the maid] I'll be back in half an hour. I'm only going
for a little drive. [Exit.]

IRINA. [Alone in her misery] To Moscow! Moscow! Moscow!



[The room shared by OLGA and IRINA. Beds, screened off, on the
right and left. It is past 2 a.m. Behind the stage a fire-alarm is
ringing; it has apparently been going for some time. Nobody in the
house has gone to bed yet. MASHA is lying on a sofa dressed, as
usual, in black. Enter OLGA and ANFISA.]

ANFISA. Now they are downstairs, sitting under the stairs. I said
to them, "Won't you come up," I said, "You can't go on like this,"
and they simply cried, "We don't know where father is." They said,
"He may be burnt up by now." What an idea! And in the yard there
are some people ... also undressed.

OLGA. [Takes a dress out of the cupboard] Take this grey dress. ...
And this ... and the blouse as well. ... Take the skirt, too,
nurse. ... My God! How awful it is! The whole of the Kirsanovsky
Road seems to have burned down. Take this ... and this. ... [Throws
clothes into her hands] The poor Vershinins are so frightened. ...
Their house was nearly burnt. They ought to come here for the
night. ... They shouldn't be allowed to go home. ... Poor Fedotik
is completely burnt out, there's nothing left. ...

ANFISA. Couldn't you call Ferapont, Olga dear. I can hardly manage. ...

OLGA. [Rings] They'll never answer. ... [At the door] Come here,
whoever there is! [Through the open door can be seen a window, red
with flame: afire-engine is heard passing the house] How awful this
is. And how I'm sick of it! [FERAPONT enters] Take these things
down. ... The Kolotilin girls are down below ... and let them have
them. This, too.

FERAPONT. Yes'm. In the year twelve Moscow was burning too. Oh, my
God! The Frenchmen were surprised.

OLGA. Go on, go on. ...

FERAPONT. Yes'm. [Exit.]

OLGA. Nurse, dear, let them have everything. We don't want
anything. Give it all to them, nurse. ... I'm tired, I can hardly
keep on my legs. ... The Vershinins mustn't be allowed to go home. ...
The girls can sleep in the drawing-room, and Alexander Ignateyevitch
can go downstairs to the Baron's flat ... Fedotik can go there, too,
or else into our dining-room. ... The doctor is drunk, beastly drunk,
as if on purpose, so nobody can go to him. Vershinin's wife, too,
may go into the drawing-room.

ANFISA. [Tired] Olga, dear girl, don't dismiss me! Don't dismiss

OLGA. You're talking nonsense, nurse. Nobody is dismissing you.

ANFISA. [Puts OLGA'S head against her bosom] My dear, precious
girl, I'm working, I'm toiling away ... I'm growing weak, and
they'll all say go away! And where shall I go? Where? I'm eighty.
Eighty-one years old. ...

OLGA. You sit down, nurse dear. ... You're tired, poor dear. ...
[Makes her sit down] Rest, dear. You're so pale!

[NATASHA comes in.]

NATASHA. They are saying that a committee to assist the sufferers
from the fire must be formed at once. What do you think of that?
It's a beautiful idea. Of course the poor ought to be helped, it's
the duty of the rich. Bobby and little Sophy are sleeping, sleeping
as if nothing at all was the matter. There's such a lot of people
here, the place is full of them, wherever you go. There's influenza
in the town now. I'm afraid the children may catch it.

OLGA. [Not attending] In this room we can't see the fire, it's
quiet here.

NATASHA. Yes ... I suppose I'm all untidy. [Before the looking-glass]
They say I'm growing stout ... it isn't true! Certainly it isn't!
Masha's asleep; the poor thing is tired out. ... [Coldly, to
ANFISA] Don't dare to be seated in my presence! Get up! Out of
this! [Exit ANFISA; a pause] I don't understand what makes you keep
on that old woman!

OLGA. [Confusedly] Excuse me, I don't understand either ...

NATASHA. She's no good here. She comes from the country, she ought
to live there. ... Spoiling her, I call it! I like order in the
house! We don't want any unnecessary people here. [Strokes her
cheek] You're tired, poor thing! Our head mistress is tired! And
when my little Sophie grows up and goes to school I shall be so
afraid of you.

OLGA. I shan't be head mistress.

NATASHA. They'll appoint you, Olga. It's settled.

OLGA. I'll refuse the post. I can't ... I'm not strong enough. ...
[Drinks water] You were so rude to nurse just now ... I'm sorry. I
can't stand it ... everything seems dark in front of me. ...

NATASHA. [Excited] Forgive me, Olga, forgive me ... I didn't want
to annoy you.

[MASHA gets up, takes a pillow and goes out angrily.]

OLGA. Remember, dear ... we have been brought up, in an unusual
way, perhaps, but I can't bear this. Such behaviour has a bad
effect on me, I get ill ... I simply lose heart!

NATASHA. Forgive me, forgive me. ... [Kisses her.]

OLGA. Even the least bit of rudeness, the slightest impoliteness,
upsets me.

NATASHA. I often say too much, it's true, but you must agree, dear,
that she could just as well live in the country.

OLGA. She has been with us for thirty years.

NATASHA. But she can't do any work now. Either I don't understand,
or you don't want to understand me. She's no good for work, she can
only sleep or sit about.

OLGA. And let her sit about.

NATASHA. [Surprised] What do you mean? She's only a servant.
[Crying] I don't understand you, Olga. I've got a nurse, a
wet-nurse, we've a cook, a housemaid ... what do we want that old
woman for as well? What good is she? [Fire-alarm behind the stage.]

OLGA. I've grown ten years older to-night.

NATASHA. We must come to an agreement, Olga. Your place is the
school, mine--the home. You devote yourself to teaching, I, to the
household. And if I talk about servants, then I do know what I am
talking about; I do know what I am talking about ... And to-morrow
there's to be no more of that old thief, that old hag ...
[Stamping] that witch! And don't you dare to annoy me! Don't you
dare! [Stopping short] Really, if you don't move downstairs, we
shall always be quarrelling. This is awful.

[Enter KULIGIN.]

KULIGIN. Where's Masha? It's time we went home. The fire seems to
be going down. [Stretches himself] Only one block has burnt down,
but there was such a wind that it seemed at first the whole town
was going to burn. [Sits] I'm tired out. My dear Olga ... I often
think that if it hadn't been for Masha, I should have married you.
You are awfully nice. ... I am absolutely tired out. [Listens.]

OLGA. What is it?

KULIGIN. The doctor, of course, has been drinking hard; he's
terribly drunk. He might have done it on purpose! [Gets up] He
seems to be coming here. ... Do you hear him? Yes, here. ...
[Laughs] What a man ... really ... I'll hide myself. [Goes to the
cupboard and stands in the corner] What a rogue.

OLGA. He hadn't touched a drop for two years, and now he suddenly
goes and gets drunk. ...

[Retires with NATASHA to the back of the room. CHEBUTIKIN enters;
apparently sober, he stops, looks round, then goes to the
wash-stand and begins to wash his hands.]

CHEBUTIKIN. [Angrily] Devil take them all ... take them all. ...
They think I'm a doctor and can cure everything, and I know
absolutely nothing, I've forgotten all I ever knew, I remember
nothing, absolutely nothing. [OLGA and NATASHA go out, unnoticed by
him] Devil take it. Last Wednesday I attended a woman in Zasip--and
she died, and it's my fault that she died. Yes ... I used to know a
certain amount five-and-twenty years ago, but I don't remember
anything now. Nothing. Perhaps I'm not really a man, and am only
pretending that I've got arms and legs and a head; perhaps I don't
exist at all, and only imagine that I walk, and eat, and sleep.
[Cries] Oh, if only I didn't exist! [Stops crying; angrily] The
devil only knows. ... Day before yesterday they were talking in the
club; they said, Shakespeare, Voltaire ... I'd never read, never
read at all, and I put on an expression as if I had read. And so
did the others. Oh, how beastly! How petty! And then I remembered
the woman I killed on Wednesday ... and I couldn't get her out of
my mind, and everything in my mind became crooked, nasty, wretched. ...
So I went and drank. ...

[IRINA, VERSHININ and TUZENBACH enter; TUZENBACH is wearing new and
fashionable civilian clothes.]

IRINA. Let's sit down here. Nobody will come in here.

VERSHININ. The whole town would have been destroyed if it hadn't
been for the soldiers. Good men! [Rubs his hands appreciatively]
Splendid people! Oh, what a fine lot!

KULIGIN. [Coming up to him] What's the time?

TUZENBACH. It's past three now. It's dawning.

IRINA. They are all sitting in the dining-room, nobody is going.
And that Soleni of yours is sitting there. [To CHEBUTIKIN] Hadn't
you better be going to sleep, doctor?

CHEBUTIKIN. It's all right ... thank you. ... [Combs his beard.]

KULIGIN. [Laughs] Speaking's a bit difficult, eh, Ivan Romanovitch!
[Pats him on the shoulder] Good man! _In vino veritas_, the
ancients used to say.

TUZENBACH. They keep on asking me to get up a concert in aid of the

IRINA. As if one could do anything. ...

TUZENBACH. It might be arranged, if necessary. In my opinion Maria
Sergeyevna is an excellent pianist.

KULIGIN. Yes, excellent!

IRINA. She's forgotten everything. She hasn't played for three
years ... or four.

TUZENBACH. In this town absolutely nobody understands music, not a
soul except myself, but I do understand it, and assure you on my
word of honour that Maria Sergeyevna plays excellently, almost with

KULIGIN. You are right, Baron, I'm awfully fond of Masha. She's
very fine.

TUZENBACH. To be able to play so admirably and to realize at the
same time that nobody, nobody can understand you!

KULIGIN. [Sighs] Yes. ... But will it be quite all right for her to
take part in a concert? [Pause] You see, I don't know anything
about it. Perhaps it will even be all to the good. Although I must
admit that our Director is a good man, a very good man even, a very
clever man, still he has such views. ... Of course it isn't his
business but still, if you wish it, perhaps I'd better talk to him.

[CHEBUTIKIN takes a porcelain clock into his hands and examines

VERSHININ. I got so dirty while the fire was on, I don't look like
anybody on earth. [Pause] Yesterday I happened to hear, casually,
that they want to transfer our brigade to some distant place. Some
said to Poland, others, to Chita.

TUZENBACH. I heard so, too. Well, if it is so, the town will be
quite empty.

IRINA. And we'll go away, too!

CHEBUTIKIN. [Drops the clock which breaks to pieces] To

[A pause; everybody is pained and confused.]

KULIGIN. [Gathering up the pieces] To smash such a valuable object--
oh, Ivan Romanovitch, Ivan Romanovitch! A very bad mark for your

IRINA. That clock used to belong to our mother.

CHEBUTIKIN. Perhaps. ... To your mother, your mother. Perhaps I
didn't break it; it only looks as if I broke it. Perhaps we only
think that we exist, when really we don't. I don't know anything,
nobody knows anything. [At the door] What are you looking at?
Natasha has a little romance with Protopopov, and you don't see it. ...
There you sit and see nothing, and Natasha has a little romance
with Protopovov. ... [Sings] Won't you please accept this date. ...

VERSHININ. Yes. [Laughs] How strange everything really is! [Pause]
When the fire broke out, I hurried off home; when I get there I see
the house is whole, uninjured, and in no danger, but my two girls
are standing by the door in just their underclothes, their mother
isn't there, the crowd is excited, horses and dogs are running
about, and the girls' faces are so agitated, terrified, beseeching,
and I don't know what else. My heart was pained when I saw those
faces. My God, I thought, what these girls will have to put up with
if they live long! I caught them up and ran, and still kept on
thinking the one thing: what they will have to live through in this
world! [Fire-alarm; a pause] I come here and find their mother
shouting and angry. [MASHA enters with a pillow and sits on the
sofa] And when my girls were standing by the door in just their
underclothes, and the street was red from the fire, there was a
dreadful noise, and I thought that something of the sort used to
happen many years ago when an enemy made a sudden attack, and
looted, and burned. ... And at the same time what a difference
there really is between the present and the past! And when a little
more time has gone by, in two or three hundred years perhaps,
people will look at our present life with just the same fear, and
the same contempt, and the whole past will seem clumsy and dull,
and very uncomfortable, and strange. Oh, indeed, what a life there
will be, what a life! [Laughs] Forgive me, I've dropped into
philosophy again. Please let me continue. I do awfully want to
philosophize, it's just how I feel at present. [Pause] As if they
are all asleep. As I was saying: what a life there will be! Only
just imagine. ... There are only three persons like yourselves in
the town just now, but in future generations there will be more and
more, and still more, and the time will come when everything will
change and become as you would have it, people will live as you do,
and then you too will go out of date; people will be born who are
better than you. ... [Laughs] Yes, to-day I am quite exceptionally
in the vein. I am devilishly keen on living. ... [Sings.]
             "The power of love all ages know,
              From its assaults great good does grow." [Laughs.]

MASHA. Trum-tum-tum ...

VERSHININ. Tum-tum ...

MASHA. Tra-ra-ra?

VERSHININ. Tra-ta-ta. [Laughs.]

[Enter FEDOTIK.]

FEDOTIK. [Dancing] I'm burnt out, I'm burnt out! Down to the
ground! [Laughter.]

IRINA. I don't see anything funny about it. Is everything burnt?

FEDOTIK. [Laughs] Absolutely. Nothing left at all. The guitar's
burnt, and the photographs are burnt, and all my correspondence. ...
And I was going to make you a present of a note-book, and that's
burnt too.

[SOLENI comes in.]

IRINA. No, you can't come here, Vassili Vassilevitch. Please go

SOLENI. Why can the Baron come here and I can't?

VERSHININ. We really must go. How's the fire?

SOLENI. They say it's going down. No, I absolutely don't see why
the Baron can, and I can't? [Scents his hands.]

VERSHININ. Trum-tum-tum.

MASHA. Trum-tum.

VERSHININ. [Laughs to SOLENI] Let's go into the dining-room.

SOLENI. Very well, we'll make a note of it. "If I should try to
make this clear, the geese would be annoyed, I fear." [Looks at
TUZENBACH] There, there, there. ... [Goes out with VERSHININ and

IRINA. How Soleni smelt of tobacco. ... [In surprise] The Baron's
asleep! Baron! Baron!

TUZENBACH. [Waking] I am tired, I must say. ... The brickworks. ...
No, I'm not wandering, I mean it; I'm going to start work soon at
the brickworks ... I've already talked it over. [Tenderly, to
IRINA] You're so pale, and beautiful, and charming. ... Your
paleness seems to shine through the dark air as if it was a light. ...
You are sad, displeased with life. ... Oh, come with me, let's go
and work together!

MASHA. Nicolai Lvovitch, go away from here.

TUZENBACH. [Laughs] Are you here? I didn't see you. [Kisses IRINA'S
hand] good-bye, I'll go ... I look at you now and I remember, as if
it was long ago, your name-day, when you, cheerfully and merrily,
were talking about the joys of labour. ... And how happy life
seemed to me, then! What has happened to it now? [Kisses her hand]
There are tears in your eyes. Go to bed now; it is already day ...
the morning begins. ... If only I was allowed to give my life for

MASHA. Nicolai Lvovitch, go away! What business ...

TUZENBACH. I'm off. [Exit.]

MASHA. [Lies down] Are you asleep, Feodor?


MASHA. Shouldn't you go home.

KULIGIN. My dear Masha, my darling Masha. ...

IRINA. She's tired out. You might let her rest, Fedia.

KULIGIN. I'll go at once. My wife's a good, splendid ... I love
you, my only one. ...

MASHA. [Angrily] Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant.

KULIGIN. [Laughs] No, she really is wonderful. I've been your
husband seven years, and it seems as if I was only married
yesterday. On my word. No, you really are a wonderful woman. I'm
satisfied, I'm satisfied, I'm satisfied!

MASHA. I'm bored, I'm bored, I'm bored. ... [Sits up] But I can't
get it out of my head. ... It's simply disgraceful. It has been
gnawing away at me ... I can't keep silent. I mean about Andrey. ...
He has mortgaged this house with the bank, and his wife has got all
the money; but the house doesn't belong to him alone, but to the
four of us! He ought to know that, if he's an honourable man.

KULIGIN. What's the use, Masha? Andrey is in debt all round; well,
let him do as he pleases.

MASHA. It's disgraceful, anyway. [Lies down]

KULIGIN. You and I are not poor. I work, take my classes, give
private lessons ... I am a plain, honest man ... _Omnia mea mecum
porto_, as they say.

MASHA. I don't want anything, but the unfairness of it disgusts me.
[Pause] You go, Feodor.

KULIGIN. [Kisses her] You're tired, just rest for half an hour, and
I'll sit and wait for you. Sleep. ... [Going] I'm satisfied, I'm
satisfied, I'm satisfied. [Exit.]

IRINA. Yes, really, our Andrey has grown smaller; how he's snuffed
out and aged with that woman! He used to want to be a professor,
and yesterday he was boasting that at last he had been made a
member of the district council. He is a member, and Protopopov is
chairman. ... The whole town talks and laughs about it, and he
alone knows and sees nothing. ... And now everybody's gone to look
at the fire, but he sits alone in his room and pays no attention,
only just plays on his fiddle. [Nervily] Oh, it's awful, awful,
awful. [Weeps] I can't, I can't bear it any longer! ... I can't, I
can't! ... [OLGA comes in and clears up at her little table. IRINA
is sobbing loudly] Throw me out, throw me out, I can't bear any

OLGA. [Alarmed] What is it, what is it? Dear!

IRINA. [Sobbing] Where? Where has everything gone? Where is it all?
Oh my God, my God! I've forgotten everything, everything ... I
don't remember what is the Italian for window or, well, for ceiling ...
I forget everything, every day I forget it, and life passes and
will never return, and we'll never go away to Moscow ... I see that
we'll never go. ...

OLGA. Dear, dear. ...

IRINA. [Controlling herself] Oh, I am unhappy ... I can't work, I
shan't work. Enough, enough! I used to be a telegraphist, now I
work at the town council offices, and I have nothing but hate and
contempt for all they give me to do ... I am already twenty-three,
I have already been at work for a long while, and my brain has
dried up, and I've grown thinner, plainer, older, and there is no
relief of any sort, and time goes and it seems all the while as if
I am going away from the real, the beautiful life, farther and
farther away, down some precipice. I'm in despair and I can't
understand how it is that I am still alive, that I haven't killed

OLGA. Don't cry, dear girl, don't cry ... I suffer, too.

IRINA. I'm not crying, not crying. ... Enough. ... Look, I'm not
crying any more. Enough ... enough!

OLGA. Dear, I tell you as a sister and a friend if you want my
advice, marry the Baron. [IRINA cries softly] You respect him, you
think highly of him. ... It is true that he is not handsome, but he
is so honourable and clean ... people don't marry from love, but in
order to do one's duty. I think so, at any rate, and I'd marry
without being in love. Whoever he was, I should marry him, so long
as he was a decent man. Even if he was old. ...

IRINA. I was always waiting until we should be settled in Moscow,
there I should meet my true love; I used to think about him, and
love him. ... But it's all turned out to be nonsense, all nonsense. ...

OLGA. [Embraces her sister] My dear, beautiful sister, I understand
everything; when Baron Nicolai Lvovitch left the army and came to
us in evening dress, [Note: I.e. in the correct dress for making a
proposal of marriage.] he seemed so bad-looking to me that I even
started crying. ... He asked, "What are you crying for?" How could
I tell him! But if God brought him to marry you, I should be happy.
That would be different, quite different.

[NATASHA with a candle walks across the stage from right to left
without saying anything.]

MASHA. [Sitting up] She walks as if she's set something on fire.

OLGA. Masha, you're silly, you're the silliest of the family.
Please forgive me for saying so. [Pause.]

MASHA. I want to make a confession, dear sisters. My soul is in
pain. I will confess to you, and never again to anybody ... I'll
tell you this minute. [Softly] It's my secret but you must know
everything ... I can't be silent. ... [Pause] I love, I love ... I
love that man. ... You saw him only just now. ... Why don't I say
it ... in one word. I love Vershinin.

OLGA. [Goes behind her screen] Stop that, I don't hear you in any

MASHA. What am I to do? [Takes her head in her hands] First he
seemed queer to me, then I was sorry for him ... then I fell in
love with him ... fell in love with his voice, his words, his
misfortunes, his two daughters.

OLGA. [Behind the screen] I'm not listening. You may talk any
nonsense you like, it will be all the same, I shan't hear.

MASHA. Oh, Olga, you are foolish. I am in love--that means that is
to be my fate. It means that is to be my lot. ... And he loves me. ...
It is all awful. Yes; it isn't good, is it? [Takes IRINA'S hand and
draws her to her] Oh, my dear. ... How are we going to live through
our lives, what is to become of us. ... When you read a novel it
all seems so old and easy, but when you fall in love yourself, then
you learn that nobody knows anything, and each must decide for
himself. ... My dear ones, my sisters ... I've confessed, now I
shall keep silence. ... Like the lunatics in Gogol's story, I'm
going to be silent ... silent ...

[ANDREY enters, followed by FERAPONT.]

ANDREY. [Angrily] What do you want? I don't understand.

FERAPONT. [At the door, impatiently] I've already told you ten
times, Andrey Sergeyevitch.

ANDREY. In the first place I'm not Andrey Sergeyevitch, but sir.
[Note: Quite literally, "your high honour," to correspond to
Andrey's rank as a civil servant.]

FERAPONT. The firemen, sir, ask if they can go across your garden
to the river. Else they go right round, right round; it's a

ANDREY. All right. Tell them it's all right. [Exit FERAPONT] I'm
tired of them. Where is Olga? [OLGA comes out from behind the
screen] I came to you for the key of the cupboard. I lost my own.
You've got a little key. [OLGA gives him the key; IRINA goes behind
her screen; pause] What a huge fire! It's going down now. Hang it
all, that Ferapont made me so angry that I talked nonsense to him. ...
Sir, indeed. ... [A pause] Why are you so silent, Olga? [Pause]
It's time you stopped all that nonsense and behaved as if you were
properly alive. ... You are here, Masha. Irina is here, well, since
we're all here, let's come to a complete understanding, once and
for all. What have you against me? What is it?

OLGA. Please don't, Audrey dear. We'll talk to-morrow. [Excited]
What an awful night!

ANDREY. [Much confused] Don't excite yourself. I ask you in perfect
calmness; what have you against me? Tell me straight.

VERSHININ'S VOICE. Trum-tum-tum!

MASHA. [Stands; loudly] Tra-ta-ta! [To OLGA] Goodbye, Olga, God
bless you. [Goes behind screen and kisses IRINA] Sleep well. ...
Good-bye, Andrey. Go away now, they're tired ... you can explain
to-morrow. ... [Exit.]

ANDREY. I'll only say this and go. Just now. ... In the first
place, you've got something against Natasha, my wife; I've noticed
it since the very day of my marriage. Natasha is a beautiful and
honest creature, straight and honourable--that's my opinion. I love
and respect my wife; understand it, I respect her, and I insist
that others should respect her too. I repeat, she's an honest and
honourable person, and all your disapproval is simply silly ...
[Pause] In the second place, you seem to be annoyed because I am
not a professor, and am not engaged in study. But I work for the
zemstvo, I am a member of the district council, and I consider my
service as worthy and as high as the service of science. I am a
member of the district council, and I am proud of it, if you want
to know. [Pause] In the third place, I have still this to say ...
that I have mortgaged the house without obtaining your permission. ...
For that I am to blame, and ask to be forgiven. My debts led me
into doing it ... thirty-five thousand ... I do not play at cards
any more, I stopped long ago, but the chief thing I have to say in
my defence is that you girls receive a pension, and I don't ... my
wages, so to speak. ... [Pause.]

KULIGIN. [At the door] Is Masha there? [Excitedly] Where is she?
It's queer. ... [Exit.]

ANDREY. They don't hear. Natasha is a splendid, honest person.
[Walks about in silence, then stops] When I married I thought we
should be happy ... all of us. ... But, my God. ... [Weeps] My
dear, dear sisters, don't believe me, don't believe me. ... [Exit.]

[Fire-alarm. The stage is clear.]

IRINA. [behind her screen] Olga, who's knocking on the floor?

OLGA. It's doctor Ivan Romanovitch. He's drunk.

IRINA. What a restless night! [Pause] Olga! [Looks out] Did you
hear? They are taking the brigade away from us; it's going to be
transferred to some place far away.

OLGA. It's only a rumour.

IRINA. Then we shall be left alone. ... Olga!

OLGA. Well?

IRINA. My dear, darling sister, I esteem, I highly value the Baron,
he's a splendid man; I'll marry him, I'll consent, only let's go to
Moscow! I implore you, let's go! There's nothing better than Moscow
on earth! Let's go, Olga, let's go!



[The old garden at the house of the PROSOROVS. There is a long
avenue of firs, at the end of which the river can be seen. There is
a forest on the far side of the river. On the right is the terrace
of the house: bottles and tumblers are on a table here; it is
evident that champagne has just been drunk. It is midday. Every now
and again passers-by walk across the garden, from the road to the
river; five soldiers go past rapidly. CHEBUTIKIN, in a comfortable
frame of mind which does not desert him throughout the act, sits in
an armchair in the garden, waiting to be called. He wears a peaked
cap and has a stick. IRINA, KULIGIN with a cross hanging from his
neck and without his moustaches, and TUZENBACH are standing on the
terrace seeing off FEDOTIK and RODE, who are coming down into the
garden; both officers are in service uniform.]

TUZENBACH. [Exchanges kisses with FEDOTIK] You're a good sort, we
got on so well together. [Exchanges kisses with RODE] Once again. ...
Good-bye, old man!

IRINA. Au revoir!

FEDOTIK. It isn't au revoir, it's good-bye; we'll never meet again!

KULIGIN. Who knows! [Wipes his eyes; smiles] Here I've started

IRINA. We'll meet again sometime.

FEDOTIK. After ten years--or fifteen? We'll hardly know one another
then; we'll say, "How do you do?" coldly. ... [Takes a snapshot]
Keep still. ... Once more, for the last time.

RODE. [Embracing TUZENBACH] We shan't meet again. ... [Kisses
IRINA'S hand] Thank you for everything, for everything!

FEDOTIK. [Grieved] Don't be in such a hurry!

TUZENBACH. We shall meet again, if God wills it. Write to us. Be
sure to write.

RODE. [Looking round the garden] Good-bye, trees! [Shouts] Yo-ho!
[Pause] Good-bye, echo!

KULIGIN. Best wishes. Go and get yourselves wives there in Poland. ...
Your Polish wife will clasp you and call you "kochanku!" [Note:
Darling.] [Laughs.]

FEDOTIK. [Looking at the time] There's less than an hour left.
Soleni is the only one of our battery who is going on the barge;
the rest of us are going with the main body. Three batteries are
leaving to-day, another three to-morrow and then the town will be
quiet and peaceful.

TUZENBACH. And terribly dull.

RODE. And where is Maria Sergeyevna?

KULIGIN. Masha is in the garden.

FEDOTIK. We'd like to say good-bye to her.

RODE. Good-bye, I must go, or else I'll start weeping. ... [Quickly
embraces KULIGIN and TUZENBACH, and kisses IRINA'S hand] We've been
so happy here. ...

FEDOTIK. [To KULIGIN] Here's a keepsake for you ... a note-book
with a pencil. ... We'll go to the river from here. ... [They go
aside and both look round.]

RODE. [Shouts] Yo-ho!

KULIGIN. [Shouts] Good-bye!

[At the back of the stage FEDOTIK and RODE meet MASHA; they say
good-bye and go out with her.]

IRINA. They've gone. ... [Sits on the bottom step of the terrace.]

CHEBUTIKIN. And they forgot to say good-bye to me.

IRINA. But why is that?

CHEBUTIKIN. I just forgot, somehow. Though I'll soon see them
again, I'm going to-morrow. Yes ... just one day left. I shall be
retired in a year, then I'll come here again, and finish my life
near you. I've only one year before I get my pension. ... [Puts one
newspaper into his pocket and takes another out] I'll come here to
you and change my life radically ... I'll be so quiet ... so agree ...
agreeable, respectable. ...

IRINA. Yes, you ought to change your life, dear man, somehow or

CHEBUTIKIN. Yes, I feel it. [Sings softly.]
    "Tarara-boom-deay. ..."

KULIGIN. We won't reform Ivan Romanovitch! We won't reform him!

CHEBUTIKIN. If only I was apprenticed to you! Then I'd reform.

IRINA. Feodor has shaved his moustache! I can't bear to look at

KULIGIN. Well, what about it?

CHEBUTIKIN. I could tell you what your face looks like now, but it
wouldn't be polite.

KULIGIN. Well! It's the custom, it's modus vivendi. Our Director is
clean-shaven, and so I too, when I received my inspectorship, had
my moustaches removed. Nobody likes it, but it's all one to me. I'm
satisfied. Whether I've got moustaches or not, I'm satisfied. ...

[At the back of the stage ANDREY is wheeling a perambulator
containing a sleeping infant.]

IRINA. Ivan Romanovitch, be a darling. I'm awfully worried. You
were out on the boulevard last night; tell me, what happened?

CHEBUTIKIN. What happened? Nothing. Quite a trifling matter. [Reads
paper] Of no importance!

KULIGIN. They say that Soleni and the Baron met yesterday on the
boulevard near the theatre. ...

TUZENBACH. Stop! What right ... [Waves his hand and goes into the

KULIGIN. Near the theatre ... Soleni started behaving offensively
to the Baron, who lost his temper and said something nasty. ...

CHEBUTIKIN. I don't know. It's all bunkum.

KULIGIN. At some seminary or other a master wrote "bunkum" on an
essay, and the student couldn't make the letters out--thought it
was a Latin word "luckum." [Laughs] Awfully funny, that. They say
that Soleni is in love with Irina and hates the Baron. ... That's
quite natural. Irina is a very nice girl. She's even like Masha,
she's so thoughtful. ... Only, Irina your character is gentler.
Though Masha's character, too, is a very good one. I'm very fond of
Masha. [Shouts of "Yo-ho!" are heard behind the stage.]

IRINA. [Shudders] Everything seems to frighten me today. [Pause]
I've got everything ready, and I send my things off after dinner.
The Baron and I will be married to-morrow, and to-morrow we go away
to the brickworks, and the next day I go to the school, and the new
life begins. God will help me! When I took my examination for the
teacher's post, I actually wept for joy and gratitude. ... [Pause]
The cart will be here in a minute for my things. ...

KULIGIN. Somehow or other, all this doesn't seem at all serious. As
if it was all ideas, and nothing really serious. Still, with all my
soul I wish you happiness.

CHEBUTIKIN. [With deep feeling] My splendid ... my dear, precious
girl. ... You've gone on far ahead, I won't catch up with you. I'm
left behind like a migrant bird grown old, and unable to fly. Fly,
my dear, fly, and God be with you! [Pause] It's a pity you shaved
your moustaches, Feodor Ilitch.

KULIGIN. Oh, drop it! [Sighs] To-day the soldiers will be gone, and
everything will go on as in the old days. Say what you will, Masha
is a good, honest woman. I love her very much, and thank my fate
for her. People have such different fates. There's a Kosirev who
works in the excise department here. He was at school with me; he
was expelled from the fifth class of the High School for being
entirely unable to understand _ut consecutivum_. He's awfully hard
up now and in very poor health, and when I meet him I say to him,
"How do you do, _ut consecutivum_." "Yes," he says, "precisely
_consecutivum_ ..." and coughs. But I've been successful all my
life, I'm happy, and I even have a Stanislaus Cross, of the second
class, and now I myself teach others that _ut consecutivum_. Of
course, I'm a clever man, much cleverer than many, but happiness
doesn't only lie in that. ...

["The Maiden's Prayer" is being played on the piano in the house.]

IRINA. To-morrow night I shan't hear that "Maiden's Prayer" any
more, and I shan't be meeting Protopopov. ... [Pause] Protopopov is
sitting there in the drawing-room; and he came to-day ...

KULIGIN. Hasn't the head-mistress come yet?

IRINA. No. She has been sent for. If you only knew how difficult it
is for me to live alone, without Olga. ... She lives at the High
School; she, a head-mistress, busy all day with her affairs and I'm
alone, bored, with nothing to do, and hate the room I live in. ...
I've made up my mind: if I can't live in Moscow, then it must come
to this. It's fate. It can't be helped. It's all the will of God,
that's the truth. Nicolai Lvovitch made me a proposal. ... Well? I
thought it over and made up my mind. He's a good man ... it's quite
remarkable how good he is. ... And suddenly my soul put out wings,
I became happy, and light-hearted, and once again the desire for
work, work, came over me. ... Only something happened yesterday,
some secret dread has been hanging over me. ...

CHEBUTIKIN. Luckum. Rubbish.

NATASHA. [At the window] The head-mistress.

KULIGIN. The head-mistress has come. Let's go. [Exit with IRINA
into the house.]

CHEBUTIKIN. "It is my washing day. ... Tara-ra ... boom-deay."

[MASHA approaches, ANDREY is wheeling a perambulator at the back.]

MASHA. Here you are, sitting here, doing nothing.

CHEBUTIKIN. What then?

MASHA. [Sits] Nothing. ... [Pause] Did you love my mother?

CHEBUTIKIN. Very much.

MASHA. And did she love you?

CHEBUTIKIN. [After a pause] I don't remember that.

MASHA. Is my man here? When our cook Martha used to ask about her
gendarme, she used to say my man. Is he here?


MASHA. When you take your happiness in little bits, in snatches,
and then lose it, as I have done, you gradually get coarser, more
bitter. [Points to her bosom] I'm boiling in here. ... [Looks at
ANDREY with the perambulator] There's our brother Andrey. ... All
our hopes in him have gone. There was once a great bell, a thousand
persons were hoisting it, much money and labour had been spent on
it, when it suddenly fell and was broken. Suddenly, for no
particular reason. ... Andrey is like that. ...

ANDREY. When are they going to stop making such a noise in the
house? It's awful.

CHEBUTIKIN. They won't be much longer. [Looks at his watch] My
watch is very old-fashioned, it strikes the hours. ... [Winds the
watch and makes it strike] The first, second, and fifth batteries
are to leave at one o'clock precisely. [Pause] And I go to-morrow.

ANDREY. For good?

CHEBUTIKIN. I don't know. Perhaps I'll return in a year. The devil
only knows ... it's all one. ... [Somewhere a harp and violin are
being played.]

ANDREY. The town will grow empty. It will be as if they put a cover
over it. [Pause] Something happened yesterday by the theatre. The
whole town knows of it, but I don't.

CHEBUTIKIN. Nothing. A silly little affair. Soleni started
irritating the Baron, who lost his temper and insulted him, and so
at last Soleni had to challenge him. [Looks at his watch] It's
about time, I think. ... At half-past twelve, in the public wood,
that one you can see from here across the river. ... Piff-paff.
[Laughs] Soleni thinks he's Lermontov, and even writes verses.
That's all very well, but this is his third duel.

MASHA. Whose?


MASHA. And the Baron?

CHEBUTIKIN. What about the Baron? [Pause.]

MASHA. Everything's all muddled up in my head. ... But I say it
ought not to be allowed. He might wound the Baron or even kill him.

CHEBUTIKIN. The Baron is a good man, but one Baron more or less--
what difference does it make? It's all the same! [Beyond the garden
somebody shouts "Co-ee! Hallo! "] You wait. That's Skvortsov
shouting; one of the seconds. He's in a boat. [Pause.]

ANDREY. In my opinion it's simply immoral to fight in a duel, or to
be present, even in the quality of a doctor.

CHEBUTIKIN. It only seems so. ... We don't exist, there's nothing
on earth, we don't really live, it only seems that we live. Does it
matter, anyway!

MASHA. You talk and talk the whole day long. [Going] You live in a
climate like this, where it might snow any moment, and there you
talk. ... [Stops] I won't go into the house, I can't go there. ...
Tell me when Vershinin comes. ... [Goes along the avenue] The
migrant birds are already on the wing. ... [Looks up] Swans or
geese. ... My dear, happy things. ... [Exit.]

ANDREY. Our house will be empty. The officers will go away, you are
going, my sister is getting married, and I alone will remain in the

CHEBUTIKIN. And your wife?

[FERAPONT enters with some documents.]

ANDREY. A wife's a wife. She's honest, well-bred, yes; and kind,
but with all that there is still something about her that
degenerates her into a petty, blind, even in some respects
misshapen animal. In any case, she isn't a man. I tell you as a
friend, as the only man to whom I can lay bare my soul. I love
Natasha, it's true, but sometimes she seems extraordinarily vulgar,
and then I lose myself and can't understand why I love her so much,
or, at any rate, used to love her. ...

CHEBUTIKIN. [Rises] I'm going away to-morrow, old chap, and perhaps
we'll never meet again, so here's my advice. Put on your cap, take
a stick in your hand, go ... go on and on, without looking round.
And the farther you go, the better.

[SOLENI goes across the back of the stage with two officers; he
catches sight of CHEBUTIKIN, and turns to him, the officers go on.]

SOLENI. Doctor, it's time. It's half-past twelve already. [Shakes
hands with ANDREY.]

CHEBUTIKIN. Half a minute. I'm tired of the lot of you. [To ANDREY]
If anybody asks for me, say I'll be back soon. ... [Sighs] Oh, oh,

SOLENI. "He didn't have the time to sigh. The bear sat on him
heavily." [Goes up to him] What are you groaning about, old man?


SOLENI. How's your health?

CHEBUTIKIN. [Angry] Mind your own business.

SOLENI. The old man is unnecessarily excited. I won't go far, I'll
only just bring him down like a snipe. [Takes out his scent-bottle
and scents his hands] I've poured out a whole bottle of scent
to-day and they still smell ... of a dead body. [Pause] Yes. ...
You remember the poem
    "But he, the rebel seeks the storm,
     As if the storm will bring him rest ..."?

    "He didn't have the time to sigh,
     The bear sat on him heavily."
[Exit with SOLENI.]

[Shouts are heard. ANDREY and FERAPONT come in.]

FERAPONT. Documents to sign. ...

ANDREY. [Irritated]. Go away! Leave me! Please! [Goes away with the

FERAPONT. That's what documents are for, to be signed. [Retires to
back of stage.]

[Enter IRINA, with TUZENBACH in a straw hat; KULIGIN walks across
the stage, shouting "Co-ee, Masha, co-ee!"]

TUZENBACH. He seems to be the only man in the town who is glad that
the soldiers are going.

IRINA. One can understand that. [Pause] The town will be empty.

TUZENBACH. My dear, I shall return soon.

IRINA. Where are you going?

TUZENBACH. I must go into the town and then ... see the others off.

IRINA. It's not true ... Nicolai, why are you so absentminded
to-day? [Pause] What took place by the theatre yesterday?

TUZENBACH. [Making a movement of impatience] In an hour's time I
shall return and be with you again. [Kisses her hands] My darling ...
[Looking her closely in the face] it's five years now since I fell
in love with you, and still I can't get used to it, and you seem to
me to grow more and more beautiful. What lovely, wonderful hair!
What eyes! I'm going to take you away to-morrow. We shall work, we
shall be rich, my dreams will come true. You will be happy. There's
only one thing, one thing only: you don't love me!

IRINA. It isn't in my power! I shall be your wife, I shall be true
to you, and obedient to you, but I can't love you. What can I do!
[Cries] I have never been in love in my life. Oh, I used to think
so much of love, I have been thinking about it for so long by day
and by night, but my soul is like an expensive piano which is
locked and the key lost. [Pause] You seem so unhappy.

TUZENBACH. I didn't sleep at night. There is nothing in my life so
awful as to be able to frighten me, only that lost key torments my
soul and does not let me sleep. Say something to me [Pause] say
something to me. ...

IRINA. What can I say, what?

TUZENBACH. Anything.

IRINA. Don't! don't! [Pause.]

TUZENBACH. It is curious how silly trivial little things, sometimes
for no apparent reason, become significant. At first you laugh at
these things, you think they are of no importance, you go on and
you feel that you haven't got the strength to stop yourself. Oh
don't let's talk about it! I am happy. It is as if for the first
time in my life I see these firs, maples, beeches, and they all
look at me inquisitively and wait. What beautiful trees and how
beautiful, when one comes to think of it, life must be near them!
[A shout of Co-ee! in the distance] It's time I went. ... There's a
tree which has dried up but it still sways in the breeze with the
others. And so it seems to me that if I die, I shall still take
part in life in one way or another. Good-bye, dear. ... [Kisses her
hands] The papers which you gave me are on my table under the

IRINA. I am coming with you.

TUZENBACH. [Nervously] No, no! [He goes quickly and stops in the
avenue] Irina!

IRINA. What is it?

TUZENBACH. [Not knowing what to say] I haven't had any coffee
to-day. Tell them to make me some. ... [He goes out quickly.]

[IRINA stands deep in thought. Then she goes to the back of the
stage and sits on a swing. ANDREY comes in with the perambulator
and FERAPONT also appears.]

FERAPONT. Andrey Sergeyevitch, it isn't as if the documents were
mine, they are the government's. I didn't make them.

ANDREY. Oh, what has become of my past and where is it? I used to
be young, happy, clever, I used to be able to think and frame
clever ideas, the present and the future seemed to me full of hope.
Why do we, almost before we have begun to live, become dull, grey,
uninteresting, lazy, apathetic, useless, unhappy. ... This town has
already been in existence for two hundred years and it has a
hundred thousand inhabitants, not one of whom is in any way
different from the others. There has never been, now or at any
other time, a single leader of men, a single scholar, an artist, a
man of even the slightest eminence who might arouse envy or a
passionate desire to be imitated. They only eat, drink, sleep, and
then they die ... more people are born and also eat, drink, sleep,
and so as not to go silly from boredom, they try to make life
many-sided with their beastly backbiting, vodka, cards, and
litigation. The wives deceive their husbands, and the husbands lie,
and pretend they see nothing and hear nothing, and the evil
influence irresistibly oppresses the children and the divine spark
in them is extinguished, and they become just as pitiful corpses
and just as much like one another as their fathers and mothers. ...
[Angrily to FERAPONT] What do you want?

FERAPONT. What? Documents want signing.

ANDREY. I'm tired of you.

FERAPONT. [Handing him papers] The hall-porter from the law courts
was saying just now that in the winter there were two hundred
degrees of frost in Petersburg.

ANDREY. The present is beastly, but when I think of the future, how
good it is! I feel so light, so free; there is a light in the
distance, I see freedom. I see myself and my children freeing
ourselves from vanities, from kvass, from goose baked with cabbage,
from after-dinner naps, from base idleness. ...

FERAPONT. He was saying that two thousand people were frozen to
death. The people were frightened, he said. In Petersburg or
Moscow, I don't remember which.

ANDREY. [Overcome by a tender emotion] My dear sisters, my
beautiful sisters! [Crying] Masha, my sister. ...

NATASHA. [At the window] Who's talking so loudly out here? Is that
you, Andrey? You'll wake little Sophie. _Il ne faut pas faire du
bruit, la Sophie est dormée deja. Vous êtes un ours._ [Angrily] If
you want to talk, then give the perambulator and the baby to
somebody else. Ferapont, take the perambulator!

FERAPONT. Yes'm. [Takes the perambulator.]

ANDREY. [Confused] I'm speaking quietly.

NATASHA. [At the window, nursing her boy] Bobby! Naughty Bobby! Bad
little Bobby!

ANDREY. [Looking through the papers] All right, I'll look them over
and sign if necessary, and you can take them back to the offices. ...

[Goes into house reading papers; FERAPONT takes the perambulator to
the back of the garden.]

NATASHA. [At the window] Bobby, what's your mother's name? Dear,
dear! And who's this? That's Aunt Olga. Say to your aunt, "How do
you do, Olga!"

[Two wandering musicians, a man and a girl, are playing on a violin
and a harp. VERSHININ, OLGA, and ANFISA come out of the house and
listen for a minute in silence; IRINA comes up to them.]

OLGA. Our garden might be a public thoroughfare, from the way
people walk and ride across it. Nurse, give those musicians

ANFISA. [Gives money to the musicians] Go away with God's blessing
on you. [The musicians bow and go away] A bitter sort of people.
You don't play on a full stomach. [To IRINA] How do you do, Arisha!
[Kisses her] Well, little girl, here I am, still alive! Still
alive! In the High School, together with little Olga, in her
official apartments ... so the Lord has appointed for my old age.
Sinful woman that I am, I've never lived like that in my life
before. ... A large flat, government property, and I've a whole
room and bed to myself. All government property. I wake up at
nights and, oh God, and Holy Mother, there isn't a happier person
than I!

VERSHININ. [Looks at his watch] We are going soon, Olga Sergeyevna.
It's time for me to go. [Pause] I wish you every ... every. ...
Where's Maria Sergeyevna?

IRINA. She's somewhere in the garden. I'll go and look for her.

VERSHININ. If you'll be so kind. I haven't time.

ANFISA. I'll go and look, too. [Shouts] Little Masha, co-ee! [Goes
out with IRINA down into the garden] Co-ee, co-ee!

VERSHININ. Everything comes to an end. And so we, too, must part.
[Looks at his watch] The town gave us a sort of farewell breakfast,
we had champagne to drink and the mayor made a speech, and I ate
and listened, but my soul was here all the time. ... [Looks round
the garden] I'm so used to you now.

OLGA. Shall we ever meet again?

VERSHININ. Probably not. [Pause] My wife and both my daughters will
stay here another two months. If anything happens, or if anything
has to be done ...

OLGA. Yes, yes, of course. You need not worry. [Pause] To-morrow
there won't be a single soldier left in the town, it will all be a
memory, and, of course, for us a new life will begin. ... [Pause]
None of our plans are coming right. I didn't want to be a
head-mistress, but they made me one, all the same. It means there's
no chance of Moscow. ...

VERSHININ. Well ... thank you for everything. Forgive me if I've ...
I've said such an awful lot--forgive me for that too, don't think
badly of me.

OLGA. [Wipes her eyes] Why isn't Masha coming ...

VERSHININ. What else can I say in parting? Can I philosophize about
anything? [Laughs] Life is heavy. To many of us it seems dull and
hopeless, but still, it must be acknowledged that it is getting
lighter and clearer, and it seems that the time is not far off when
it will be quite clear. [Looks at his watch] It's time I went!
Mankind used to be absorbed in wars, and all its existence was
filled with campaigns, attacks, defeats, now we've outlived all
that, leaving after us a great waste place, which there is nothing
to fill with at present; but mankind is looking for something, and
will certainly find it. Oh, if it only happened more quickly.
[Pause] If only education could be added to industry, and industry
to education. [Looks at his watch] It's time I went. ...

OLGA. Here she comes.

[Enter MASHA.]

VERSHININ. I came to say good-bye. ...

[OLGA steps aside a little, so as not to be in their way.]

MASHA. [Looking him in the face] Good-bye. [Prolonged kiss.]

OLGA. Don't, don't. [MASHA is crying bitterly]

VERSHININ. Write to me. ... Don't forget! Let me go. ... It's time.
Take her, Olga Sergeyevna ... it's time ... I'm late ...

[He kisses OLGA'S hand in evident emotion, then embraces MASHA once
more and goes out quickly.]

OLGA. Don't, Masha! Stop, dear. ... [KULIGIN enters.]

KULIGIN. [Confused] Never mind, let her cry, let her. ... My dear
Masha, my good Masha. ... You're my wife, and I'm happy, whatever
happens ... I'm not complaining, I don't reproach you at all. ...
Olga is a witness to it. Let's begin to live again as we used to,
and not by a single word, or hint ...

MASHA. [Restraining her sobs]
    "There stands a green oak by the sea,
     And a chain of bright gold is around it. ...
     And a chain of bright gold is around it. ..."

I'm going off my head ... "There stands ... a green oak ... by the
sea." ...

OLGA. Don't, Masha, don't ... give her some water. ...

MASHA. I'm not crying any more. ...

KULIGIN. She's not crying any more ... she's a good ... [A shot is
heard from a distance.]

    "There stands a green oak by the sea,
     And a chain of bright gold is around it ...
     An oak of green gold. ..."

I'm mixing it up. ... [Drinks some water] Life is dull. . . I don't
want anything more now ... I'll be all right in a moment. ... It
doesn't matter. ... What do those lines mean? Why do they run in
my head? My thoughts are all tangled.

[IRINA enters.]

OLGA. Be quiet, Masha. There's a good girl. ... Let's go in.

MASHA. [Angrily] I shan't go in there. [Sobs, but controls herself
at once] I'm not going to go into the house, I won't go. ...

IRINA. Let's sit here together and say nothing. I'm going away
to-morrow. ... [Pause.]

KULIGIN. Yesterday I took away these whiskers and this beard from
a boy in the third class. ... [He puts on the whiskers and beard]
Don't I look like the German master. ... [Laughs] Don't I? The boys
are amusing.

MASHA. You really do look like that German of yours.

OLGA. [Laughs] Yes. [MASHA weeps.]

IRINA. Don't, Masha!

KULIGIN. It's a very good likeness. ...

[Enter NATASHA.]

NATASHA. [To the maid] What? Mihail Ivanitch Protopopov will sit with
little Sophie, and Andrey Sergeyevitch can take little Bobby out.
Children are such a bother. ... [To IRINA] Irina, it's such a pity
you're going away to-morrow. Do stop just another week. [Sees KULIGIN
and screams; he laughs and takes off his beard and whiskers] How you
frightened me! [To IRINA] I've grown used to you and do you think it
will be easy for me to part from you? I'm going to have Andrey and
his violin put into your room--let him fiddle away in there!--and
we'll put little Sophie into his room. The beautiful, lovely child!
What a little girlie! To-day she looked at me with such pretty eyes
and said "Mamma!"

KULIGIN. A beautiful child, it's quite true.

NATASHA. That means I shall have the place to myself to-morrow. [Sighs]
In the first place I shall have that avenue of fir-trees cut down, then
that maple. It's so ugly at nights. ... [To IRINA] That belt doesn't
suit you at all, dear. ... It's an error of taste. And I'll give orders
to have lots and lots of little flowers planted here, and they'll
smell. ... [Severely] Why is there a fork lying about here on the seat?
[Going towards the house, to the maid] Why is there a fork lying about
here on the seat, I say? [Shouts] Don't you dare to answer me!

KULIGIN. Temper! temper! [A march is played off; they all listen.]

OLGA. They're going.

[CHEBUTIKIN comes in.]

MASHA. They're going. Well, well. ... Bon voyage! [To her husband] We
must be going home. ... Where's my coat and hat?

KULIGIN. I took them in ... I'll bring them, in a moment.

OLGA. Yes, now we can all go home. It's time.

CHEBUTIKIN. Olga Sergeyevna!

OLGA. What is it? [Pause] What is it?

CHEBUTIKIN. Nothing ... I don't know how to tell you. ... [Whispers
to her.]

OLGA. [Frightened] It can't be true!

CHEBUTIKIN. Yes ... such a story ... I'm tired out, exhausted, I won't
say any more. ... [Sadly] Still, it's all the same!

MASHA. What's happened?

OLGA. [Embraces IRINA] This is a terrible day ... I don't know how to
tell you, dear. ...

IRINA. What is it? Tell me quickly, what is it? For God's sake! [Cries.]

CHEBUTIKIN. The Baron was killed in the duel just now.

IRINA. [Cries softly] I knew it, I knew it. ...

CHEBUTIKIN. [Sits on a bench at the back of the stage] I'm tired. ...
[Takes a paper from his pocket] Let 'em cry. ... [Sings softly]
"Tarara-boom-deay, it is my washing day. ..." Isn't it all the same!

[The three sisters are standing, pressing against one another.]

MASHA. Oh, how the music plays! They are leaving us, one has quite
left us, quite and for ever. We remain alone, to begin our life over
again. We must live ... we must live. ...

IRINA. [Puts her head on OLGA's bosom] There will come a time when
everybody will know why, for what purpose, there is all this suffering,
and there will be no more mysteries. But now we must live ... we must
work, just work! To-morrow, I'll go away alone, and I'll teach and give
my whole life to those who, perhaps, need it. It's autumn now, soon it
will be winter, the snow will cover everything, and I shall be working,
working. ...

OLGA. [Embraces both her sisters] The bands are playing so gaily, so
bravely, and one does so want to live! Oh, my God! Time will pass on,
and we shall depart for ever, we shall be forgotten; they will forget
our faces, voices, and even how many there were of us, but our sufferings
will turn into joy for those who will live after us, happiness and
peace will reign on earth, and people will remember with kindly words,
and bless those who are living now. Oh dear sisters, our life is not
yet at an end. Let us live. The music is so gay, so joyful, and, it
seems that in a little while we shall know why we are living, why
we are suffering. ... If we could only know, if we could only know!

[The music has been growing softer and softer; KULIGIN, smiling happily,
brings out the hat and coat; ANDREY wheels out the perambulator in
which BOBBY is sitting.]

CHEBUTIKIN. [Sings softly] "Tara. . . ra-boom-deay. ... It is my
washing-day." ... [Reads a paper] It's all the same! It's all the same!

OLGA. If only we could know, if only we could know!




ANYA, her daughter, aged seventeen
VARYA (BARBARA), her adopted daughter, aged twenty-seven
LEONID ANDREYEVITCH GAEV, Mme. Ranevsky's brother
FIERS, an old footman, aged eighty-seven
YASHA, a young footman

The action takes place on Mme. RANEVSKY'S estate


[A room which is still called the nursery. One of the doors leads
into ANYA'S room. It is close on sunrise. It is May. The cherry-trees
are in flower but it is chilly in the garden. There is an early
frost. The windows of the room are shut. DUNYASHA comes in with a
candle, and LOPAKHIN with a book in his hand.]

LOPAKHIN. The train's arrived, thank God. What's the time?

DUNYASHA. It will soon be two. [Blows out candle] It is light

LOPAKHIN. How much was the train late? Two hours at least. [Yawns
and stretches himself] I have made a rotten mess of it! I came here
on purpose to meet them at the station, and then overslept myself ...
in my chair. It's a pity. I wish you'd wakened me.

DUNYASHA. I thought you'd gone away. [Listening] I think I hear
them coming.

LOPAKHIN. [Listens] No. ... They've got to collect their luggage
and so on. ... [Pause] Lubov Andreyevna has been living abroad for
five years; I don't know what she'll be like now. ... She's a good
sort--an easy, simple person. I remember when I was a boy of
fifteen, my father, who is dead--he used to keep a shop in the
village here--hit me on the face with his fist, and my nose bled. ...
We had gone into the yard together for something or other, and he
was a little drunk. Lubov Andreyevna, as I remember her now, was
still young, and very thin, and she took me to the washstand here
in this very room, the nursery. She said, "Don't cry, little man,
it'll be all right in time for your wedding." [Pause] "Little man". ...
My father was a peasant, it's true, but here I am in a white
waistcoat and yellow shoes ... a pearl out of an oyster. I'm rich
now, with lots of money, but just think about it and examine me,
and you'll find I'm still a peasant down to the marrow of my bones.
[Turns over the pages of his book] Here I've been reading this
book, but I understood nothing. I read and fell asleep. [Pause.]

DUNYASHA. The dogs didn't sleep all night; they know that they're

LOPAKHIN. What's up with you, Dunyasha ...?

DUNYASHA. My hands are shaking. I shall faint.

LOPAKHIN. You're too sensitive, Dunyasha. You dress just like a
lady, and you do your hair like one too. You oughtn't. You should
know your place.

EPIKHODOV. [Enters with a bouquet. He wears a short jacket and
brilliantly polished boots which squeak audibly. He drops the
bouquet as he enters, then picks it up] The gardener sent these;
says they're to go into the dining-room. [Gives the bouquet to

LOPAKHIN. And you'll bring me some kvass.

DUNYASHA. Very well. [Exit.]

EPIKHODOV. There's a frost this morning--three degrees, and the
cherry-trees are all in flower. I can't approve of our climate.
[Sighs] I can't. Our climate is indisposed to favour us even this
once. And, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, allow me to say to you, in
addition, that I bought myself some boots two days ago, and I beg
to assure you that they squeak in a perfectly unbearable manner.
What shall I put on them?

LOPAKHIN. Go away. You bore me.

EPIKHODOV. Some misfortune happens to me every day. But I don't
complain; I'm used to it, and I can smile. [DUNYASHA comes in and
brings LOPAKHIN some kvass] I shall go. [Knocks over a chair]
There. ... [Triumphantly] There, you see, if I may use the word,
what circumstances I am in, so to speak. It is even simply
marvellous. [Exit.]

DUNYASHA. I may confess to you, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, that
Epikhodov has proposed to me.


DUNYASHA. I don't know what to do about it. He's a nice young man,
but every now and again, when he begins talking, you can't
understand a word he's saying. I think I like him. He's madly in
love with me. He's an unlucky man; every day something happens. We
tease him about it. They call him "Two-and-twenty troubles."

LOPAKHIN. [Listens] There they come, I think.

DUNYASHA. They're coming! What's the matter with me? I'm cold all

LOPAKHIN. There they are, right enough. Let's go and meet them.
Will she know me? We haven't seen each other for five years.

DUNYASHA. [Excited] I shall faint in a minute. ... Oh, I'm

[Two carriages are heard driving up to the house. LOPAKHIN and
DUNYASHA quickly go out. The stage is empty. A noise begins in the
next room. FIERS, leaning on a stick, walks quickly across the
stage; he has just been to meet LUBOV ANDREYEVNA. He wears an
old-fashioned livery and a tall hat. He is saying something to
himself, but not a word of it can be made out. The noise behind the
stage gets louder and louder. A voice is heard: "Let's go in
little dog on a chain, and all dressed in travelling clothes, VARYA
in a long coat and with a kerchief on her head. GAEV, SIMEONOV-PISCHIN,
LOPAKHIN, DUNYASHA with a parcel and an umbrella, and a servant
with luggage--all cross the room.]

ANYA. Let's come through here. Do you remember what this room is,

LUBOV. [Joyfully, through her tears] The nursery!

VARYA. How cold it is! My hands are quite numb. [To LUBOV
ANDREYEVNA] Your rooms, the white one and the violet one, are just
as they used to be, mother.

LUBOV. My dear nursery, oh, you beautiful room. ... I used to sleep
here when I was a baby. [Weeps] And here I am like a little girl
again. [Kisses her brother, VARYA, then her brother again] And
Varya is just as she used to be, just like a nun. And I knew
Dunyasha. [Kisses her.]

GAEV. The train was two hours late. There now; how's that for

CHARLOTTA. [To PISCHIN] My dog eats nuts too.

PISCHIN. [Astonished] To think of that, now!

[All go out except ANYA and DUNYASHA.]

DUNYASHA. We did have to wait for you!

[Takes off ANYA'S cloak and hat.]

ANYA. I didn't get any sleep for four nights on the journey. ...
I'm awfully cold.

DUNYASHA. You went away during Lent, when it was snowing and
frosty, but now? Darling! [Laughs and kisses her] We did have to
wait for you, my joy, my pet. ... I must tell you at once, I can't
bear to wait a minute.

ANYA. [Tired] Something else now ...?

DUNYASHA. The clerk, Epikhodov, proposed to me after Easter.

ANYA. Always the same. ... [Puts her hair straight] I've lost all
my hairpins. ... [She is very tired, and even staggers as she

DUNYASHA. I don't know what to think about it. He loves me, he
loves me so much!

ANYA. [Looks into her room; in a gentle voice] My room, my windows,
as if I'd never gone away. I'm at home! To-morrow morning I'll get
up and have a run in the garden. ...Oh, if I could only get to
sleep! I didn't sleep the whole journey, I was so bothered.

DUNYASHA. Peter Sergeyevitch came two days ago.

ANYA. [Joyfully] Peter!

DUNYASHA. He sleeps in the bath-house, he lives there. He said he
was afraid he'd be in the way. [Looks at her pocket-watch] I ought
to wake him, but Barbara Mihailovna told me not to. "Don't wake
him," she said.

[Enter VARYA, a bunch of keys on her belt.]

VARYA. Dunyasha, some coffee, quick. Mother wants some.

DUNYASHA. This minute. [Exit.]

VARYA. Well, you've come, glory be to God. Home again. [Caressing
her] My darling is back again! My pretty one is back again!

ANYA. I did have an awful time, I tell you.

VARYA. I can just imagine it!

ANYA. I went away in Holy Week; it was very cold then. Charlotta
talked the whole way and would go on performing her tricks. Why did
you tie Charlotta on to me?

VARYA. You couldn't go alone, darling, at seventeen!

ANYA. We went to Paris; it's cold there and snowing. I talk French
perfectly horribly. My mother lives on the fifth floor. I go to
her, and find her there with various Frenchmen, women, an old abbé
with a book, and everything in tobacco smoke and with no comfort at
all. I suddenly became very sorry for mother--so sorry that I took
her head in my arms and hugged her and wouldn't let her go. Then
mother started hugging me and crying. ...

VARYA. [Weeping] Don't say any more, don't say any more. ...

ANYA. She's already sold her villa near Mentone; she's nothing
left, nothing. And I haven't a copeck left either; we only just
managed to get here. And mother won't understand! We had dinner at
a station; she asked for all the expensive things, and tipped the
waiters one rouble each. And Charlotta too. Yasha wants his share
too--it's too bad. Mother's got a footman now, Yasha; we've
brought him here.

VARYA. I saw the wretch.

ANYA. How's business? Has the interest been paid?

VARYA. Not much chance of that.

ANYA. Oh God, oh God ...

VARYA. The place will be sold in August.

ANYA. O God. ...

LOPAKHIN. [Looks in at the door and moos] Moo! ... [Exit.]

VARYA. [Through her tears] I'd like to. ... [Shakes her fist.]

ANYA. [Embraces VARYA, softly] Varya, has he proposed to you?
[VARYA shakes head] But he loves you. ... Why don't you make up
your minds? Why do you keep on waiting?

VARYA. I think that it will all come to nothing. He's a busy man.
I'm not his affair ... he pays no attention to me. Bless the man, I
don't want to see him. ... But everybody talks about our marriage,
everybody congratulates me, and there's nothing in it at all, it's
all like a dream. [In another tone] You've got a brooch like a bee.

ANYA. [Sadly] Mother bought it. [Goes into her room, and talks
lightly, like a child] In Paris I went up in a balloon!

VARYA. My darling's come back, my pretty one's come back! [DUNYASHA
has already returned with the coffee-pot and is making the coffee,
VARYA stands near the door] I go about all day, looking after the
house, and I think all the time, if only you could marry a rich
man, then I'd be happy and would go away somewhere by myself, then
to Kiev ... to Moscow, and so on, from one holy place to another.
I'd tramp and tramp. That would be splendid!

ANYA. The birds are singing in the garden. What time is it now?

VARYA. It must be getting on for three. Time you went to sleep,
darling. [Goes into ANYA'S room] Splendid!

[Enter YASHA with a plaid shawl and a travelling bag.]

YASHA. [Crossing the stage: Politely] May I go this way?

DUNYASHA. I hardly knew you, Yasha. You have changed abroad.

YASHA. Hm ... and who are you?

DUNYASHA. When you went away I was only so high. [Showing with her
hand] I'm Dunyasha, the daughter of Theodore Kozoyedov. You don't

YASHA. Oh, you little cucumber!

[Looks round and embraces her. She screams and drops a saucer.
YASHA goes out quickly.]

VARYA. [In the doorway: In an angry voice] What's that?

DUNYASHA. [Through her tears] I've broken a saucer.

VARYA. It may bring luck.

ANYA. [Coming out of her room] We must tell mother that Peter's

VARYA. I told them not to wake him.

ANYA. [Thoughtfully] Father died six years ago, and a month later
my brother Grisha was drowned in the river--such a dear little boy
of seven! Mother couldn't bear it; she went away, away, without
looking round. ... [Shudders] How I understand her; if only she
knew! [Pause] And Peter Trofimov was Grisha's tutor, he might tell
her. ...

[Enter FIERS in a short jacket and white waistcoat.]

FIERS. [Goes to the coffee-pot, nervously] The mistress is going to
have some food here. ... [Puts on white gloves] Is the coffee
ready? [To DUNYASHA, severely] You! Where's the cream?

DUNYASHA. Oh, dear me ...! [Rapid exit.]

FIERS. [Fussing round the coffee-pot] Oh, you bungler. ... [Murmurs
to himself] Back from Paris ... the master went to Paris once ...
in a carriage. ... [Laughs.]

VARYA. What are you talking about, Fiers?

FIERS. I beg your pardon? [Joyfully] The mistress is home again.
I've lived to see her! Don't care if I die now. ... [Weeps with

latter in a long jacket of thin cloth and loose trousers. GAEV,
coming in, moves his arms and body about as if he is playing

LUBOV. Let me remember now. Red into the corner! Twice into the

GAEV. Right into the pocket! Once upon a time you and I used both
to sleep in this room, and now I'm fifty-one; it does seem strange.

LOPAKHIN. Yes, time does go.

GAEV. Who does?

LOPAKHIN. I said that time does go.

GAEV. It smells of patchouli here.

ANYA. I'm going to bed. Good-night, mother. [Kisses her.]

LUBOV. My lovely little one. [Kisses her hand] Glad to be at home?
I can't get over it.

ANYA. Good-night, uncle.

GAEV. [Kisses her face and hands] God be with you. How you do
resemble your mother! [To his sister] You were just like her at her
age, Luba.

[ANYA gives her hand to LOPAKHIN and PISCHIN and goes out, shutting
the door behind her.]

LUBOV. She's awfully tired.

PISCHIN. It's a very long journey.

VARYA. [To LOPAKHIN and PISCHIN] Well, sirs, it's getting on for
three, quite time you went.

LUBOV. [Laughs] You're just the same as ever, Varya. [Draws her
close and kisses her] I'll have some coffee now, then we'll all go.
[FIERS lays a cushion under her feet] Thank you, dear. I'm used to
coffee. I drink it day and night. Thank you, dear old man. [Kisses

VARYA. I'll go and see if they've brought in all the luggage.

LUBOV. Is it really I who am sitting here? [Laughs] I want to jump
about and wave my arms. [Covers her face with her hands] But
suppose I'm dreaming! God knows I love my own country, I love it
deeply; I couldn't look out of the railway carriage, I cried so
much. [Through her tears] Still, I must have my coffee. Thank you,
Fiers. Thank you, dear old man. I'm so glad you're still with us.

FIERS. The day before yesterday.

GAEV. He doesn't hear well.

LOPAKHIN. I've got to go off to Kharkov by the five o'clock train.
I'm awfully sorry! I should like to have a look at you, to gossip a
little. You're as fine-looking as ever.

PISCHIN. [Breathes heavily] Even finer-looking ... dressed in
Paris fashions ... confound it all.

LOPAKHIN. Your brother, Leonid Andreyevitch, says I'm a snob, a
usurer, but that is absolutely nothing to me. Let him talk. Only I
do wish you would believe in me as you once did, that your
wonderful, touching eyes would look at me as they did before.
Merciful God! My father was the serf of your grandfather and your
own father, but you--you more than anybody else--did so much for me
once upon a time that I've forgotten everything and love you as if
you belonged to my family ... and even more.

LUBOV. I can't sit still, I'm not in a state to do it. [Jumps up
and walks about in great excitement] I'll never survive this
happiness. ... You can laugh at me; I'm a silly woman. ... My dear
little cupboard. [Kisses cupboard] My little table.

GAEV. Nurse has died in your absence.

LUBOV. [Sits and drinks coffee] Yes, bless her soul. I heard by

GAEV. And Anastasius has died too. Peter Kosoy has left me and now
lives in town with the Commissioner of Police. [Takes a box of
sugar-candy out of his pocket and sucks a piece.]

PISCHIN. My daughter, Dashenka, sends her love.

LOPAKHIN. I want to say something very pleasant, very delightful,
to you. [Looks at his watch] I'm going away at once, I haven't much
time ... but I'll tell you all about it in two or three words. As
you already know, your cherry orchard is to be sold to pay your
debts, and the sale is fixed for August 22; but you needn't be
alarmed, dear madam, you may sleep in peace; there's a way out.
Here's my plan. Please attend carefully! Your estate is only
thirteen miles from the town, the railway runs by, and if the
cherry orchard and the land by the river are broken up into
building lots and are then leased off for villas you'll get at
least twenty-five thousand roubles a year profit out of it.

GAEV. How utterly absurd!

LUBOV. I don't understand you at all, Ermolai Alexeyevitch.

LOPAKHIN. You will get twenty-five roubles a year for each
dessiatin from the leaseholders at the very least, and if you
advertise now I'm willing to bet that you won't have a vacant plot
left by the autumn; they'll all go. In a word, you're saved. I
congratulate you. Only, of course, you'll have to put things
straight, and clean up. ... For instance, you'll have to pull down
all the old buildings, this house, which isn't any use to anybody
now, and cut down the old cherry orchard. ...

LUBOV. Cut it down? My dear man, you must excuse me, but you don't
understand anything at all. If there's anything interesting or
remarkable in the whole province, it's this cherry orchard of ours.

LOPAKHIN. The only remarkable thing about the orchard is that it's
very large. It only bears fruit every other year, and even then you
don't know what to do with them; nobody buys any.

GAEV. This orchard is mentioned in the "Encyclopaedic Dictionary."

LOPAKHIN. [Looks at his watch] If we can't think of anything and
don't make up our minds to anything, then on August 22, both the
cherry orchard and the whole estate will be up for auction. Make up
your mind! I swear there's no other way out, I'll swear it again.

FIERS. In the old days, forty or fifty years back, they dried the
cherries, soaked them and pickled them, and made jam of them, and
it used to happen that ...

GAEV. Be quiet, Fiers.

FIERS. And then we'd send the dried cherries off in carts to Moscow
and Kharkov. And money! And the dried cherries were soft, juicy,
sweet, and nicely scented. ... They knew the way. ...

LUBOV. What was the way?

FIERS. They've forgotten. Nobody remembers.

PISCHIN. [To LUBOV ANDREYEVNA] What about Paris? Eh? Did you eat

LUBOV. I ate crocodiles.

PISCHIN. To think of that, now.

LOPAKHIN. Up to now in the villages there were only the gentry and
the labourers, and now the people who live in villas have arrived.
All towns now, even small ones, are surrounded by villas. And it's
safe to say that in twenty years' time the villa resident will be
all over the place. At present he sits on his balcony and drinks
tea, but it may well come to pass that he'll begin to cultivate his
patch of land, and then your cherry orchard will be happy, rich,
splendid. ...

GAEV. [Angry] What rot!

[Enter VARYA and YASHA.]

VARYA. There are two telegrams for you, little mother. [Picks out a
key and noisily unlocks an antique cupboard] Here they are.

LUBOV. They're from Paris. ... [Tears them up without reading them]
I've done with Paris.

GAEV. And do you know, Luba, how old this case is? A week ago I
took out the bottom drawer; I looked and saw figures burnt out in
it. That case was made exactly a hundred years ago. What do you
think of that? What? We could celebrate its jubilee. It hasn't a
soul of its own, but still, say what you will, it's a fine

PISCHIN. [Astonished] A hundred years. ... Think of that!

GAEV. Yes ... it's a real thing. [Handling it] My dear and honoured
case! I congratulate you on your existence, which has already for
more than a hundred years been directed towards the bright ideals
of good and justice; your silent call to productive labour has not
grown less in the hundred years [Weeping] during which you have
upheld virtue and faith in a better future to the generations of
our race, educating us up to ideals of goodness and to the
knowledge of a common consciousness. [Pause.]

LOPAKHIN. Yes. ...

LUBOV. You're just the same as ever, Leon.

GAEV. [A little confused] Off the white on the right, into the
corner pocket. Red ball goes into the middle pocket!

LOPAKHIN. [Looks at his watch] It's time I went.

YASHA. [Giving LUBOV ANDREYEVNA her medicine] Will you take your
pills now?

PISCHIN. You oughtn't to take medicines, dear madam; they do you
neither harm nor good. ... Give them here, dear madam. [Takes the
pills, turns them out into the palm of his hand, blows on them,
puts them into his mouth, and drinks some kvass] There!

LUBOV. [Frightened] You're off your head!

PISCHIN. I've taken all the pills.

LOPAKHIN. Gormandizer! [All laugh.]

FIERS. They were here in Easter week and ate half a pailful of
cucumbers. ... [Mumbles.]

LUBOV. What's he driving at?

VARYA. He's been mumbling away for three years. We're used to that.

YASHA. Senile decay.

[CHARLOTTA IVANOVNA crosses the stage, dressed in white: she is
very thin and tightly laced; has a lorgnette at her waist.]

LOPAKHIN. Excuse me, Charlotta Ivanovna, I haven't said "How do you
do" to you yet. [Tries to kiss her hand.]

CHARLOTTA. [Takes her hand away] If you let people kiss your hand,
then they'll want your elbow, then your shoulder, and then ...

LOPAKHIN. My luck's out to-day! [All laugh] Show us a trick,
Charlotta Ivanovna!

LUBOV ANDREYEVNA. Charlotta, do us a trick.

CHARLOTTA. It's not necessary. I want to go to bed. [Exit.]

LOPAKHIN. We shall see each other in three weeks. [Kisses LUBOV
ANDREYEVNA'S hand] Now, good-bye. It's time to go. [To GAEV] See
you again. [Kisses PISCHIN] Au revoir. [Gives his hand to VARYA,
then to FIERS and to YASHA] I don't want to go away. [To LUBOV
ANDREYEVNA]. If you think about the villas and make up your mind,
then just let me know, and I'll raise a loan of 50,000 roubles at
once. Think about it seriously.

VARYA. [Angrily] Do go, now!

LOPAKHIN. I'm going, I'm going. ... [Exit.]

GAEV. Snob. Still, I beg pardon. ... Varya's going to marry him,
he's Varya's young man.

VARYA. Don't talk too much, uncle.

LUBOV. Why not, Varya? I should be very glad. He's a good man.

PISCHIN. To speak the honest truth ... he's a worthy man. ... And
my Dashenka ... also says that ... she says lots of things.
[Snores, but wakes up again at once] But still, dear madam, if you
could lend me ... 240 roubles ... to pay the interest on my
mortgage to-morrow ...

VARYA. [Frightened] We haven't got it, we haven't got it!

LUBOV. It's quite true. I've nothing at all.

PISCHIN. I'll find it all right [Laughs] I never lose hope. I used
to think, "Everything's lost now. I'm a dead man," when, lo and
behold, a railway was built over my land ... and they paid me for
it. And something else will happen to-day or to-morrow. Dashenka
may win 20,000 roubles ... she's got a lottery ticket.

LUBOV. The coffee's all gone, we can go to bed.

FIERS. [Brushing GAEV'S trousers; in an insistent tone] You've put
on the wrong trousers again. What am I to do with you?

VARYA. [Quietly] Anya's asleep. [Opens window quietly] The sun has
risen already; it isn't cold. Look, little mother: what lovely
trees! And the air! The starlings are singing!

GAEV. [Opens the other window] The whole garden's white. You
haven't forgotten, Luba? There's that long avenue going straight,
straight, like a stretched strap; it shines on moonlight nights. Do
you remember? You haven't forgotten?

LUBOV. [Looks out into the garden] Oh, my childhood, days of my
innocence! In this nursery I used to sleep; I used to look out from
here into the orchard. Happiness used to wake with me every
morning, and then it was just as it is now; nothing has changed.
[Laughs from joy] It's all, all white! Oh, my orchard! After the
dark autumns and the cold winters, you're young again, full of
happiness, the angels of heaven haven't left you. ... If only I
could take my heavy burden off my breast and shoulders, if I could
forget my past!

GAEV. Yes, and they'll sell this orchard to pay off debts. How
strange it seems!

LUBOV. Look, there's my dead mother going in the orchard ...
dressed in white! [Laughs from joy] That's she.

GAEV. Where?

VARYA. God bless you, little mother.

LUBOV. There's nobody there; I thought I saw somebody. On the
right, at the turning by the summer-house, a white little tree bent
down, looking just like a woman. [Enter TROFIMOV in a worn student
uniform and spectacles] What a marvellous garden! White masses of
flowers, the blue sky. ...

TROFIMOV. Lubov Andreyevna! [She looks round at him] I only want to
show myself, and I'll go away. [Kisses her hand warmly] I was told
to wait till the morning, but I didn't have the patience.

[LUBOV ANDREYEVNA looks surprised.]

VARYA. [Crying] It's Peter Trofimov.

TROFIMOV. Peter Trofimov, once the tutor of your Grisha. ... Have I
changed so much?

[LUBOV ANDREYEVNA embraces him and cries softly.]

GAEV. [Confused] That's enough, that's enough, Luba.

VARYA. [Weeps] But I told you, Peter, to wait till to-morrow.

LUBOV. My Grisha ... my boy ... Grisha ... my son.

VARYA. What are we to do, little mother? It's the will of God.

TROFIMOV. [Softly, through his tears] It's all right, it's all

LUBOV. [Still weeping] My boy's dead; he was drowned. Why? Why, my
friend? [Softly] Anya's asleep in there. I am speaking so loudly,
making such a noise. ... Well, Peter? What's made you look so bad?
Why have you grown so old?

TROFIMOV. In the train an old woman called me a decayed gentleman.

LUBOV. You were quite a boy then, a nice little student, and now
your hair is not at all thick and you wear spectacles. Are you
really still a student? [Goes to the door.]

TROFIMOV. I suppose I shall always be a student.

LUBOV. [Kisses her brother, then VARYA] Well, let's go to bed. ...
And you've grown older, Leonid.

PISCHIN. [Follows her] Yes, we've got to go to bed. ... Oh, my
gout! I'll stay the night here. If only, Lubov Andreyevna, my dear,
you could get me 240 roubles to-morrow morning--

GAEV. Still the same story.

PISCHIN. Two hundred and forty roubles ... to pay the interest on
the mortgage.

LUBOV. I haven't any money, dear man.

PISCHIN. I'll give it back ... it's a small sum. ...

LUBOV. Well, then, Leonid will give it to you. ... Let him have it,

GAEV. By all means; hold out your hand.

LUBOV. Why not? He wants it; he'll give it back.

VARYA, and YASHA remain.]

GAEV. My sister hasn't lost the habit of throwing money about. [To
YASHA] Stand off, do; you smell of poultry.

YASHA. [Grins] You are just the same as ever, Leonid Andreyevitch.

GAEV. Really? [To VARYA] What's he saying?

VARYA. [To YASHA] Your mother's come from the village; she's been
sitting in the servants' room since yesterday, and wants to see
you. ...

YASHA. Bless the woman!

VARYA. Shameless man.

YASHA. A lot of use there is in her coming. She might have come
tomorrow just as well. [Exit.]

VARYA. Mother hasn't altered a scrap, she's just as she always was.
She'd give away everything, if the idea only entered her head.

GAEV. Yes. ... [Pause] If there's any illness for which people
offer many remedies, you may be sure that particular illness is
incurable, I think. I work my brains to their hardest. I've several
remedies, very many, and that really means I've none at all. It
would be nice to inherit a fortune from somebody, it would be nice
to marry our Anya to a rich man, it would be nice to go to Yaroslav
and try my luck with my aunt the Countess. My aunt is very, very

VARYA. [Weeps] If only God helped us.

GAEV. Don't cry. My aunt's very rich, but she doesn't like us. My
sister, in the first place, married an advocate, not a noble. ...
[ANYA appears in the doorway] She not only married a man who was
not a noble, but she behaved herself in a way which cannot be
described as proper. She's nice and kind and charming, and I'm very
fond of her, but say what you will in her favour and you still have
to admit that she's wicked; you can feel it in her slightest

VARYA. [Whispers] Anya's in the doorway.

GAEV. Really? [Pause] It's curious, something's got into my right
eye ... I can't see properly out of it. And on Thursday, when I was
at the District Court ...

[Enter ANYA.]

VARYA. Why aren't you in bed, Anya?

ANYA. Can't sleep. It's no good.

GAEV. My darling! [Kisses ANYA'S face and hands] My child. ...
[Crying] You're not my niece, you're my angel, you're my all. ...
Believe in me, believe ...

ANYA. I do believe in you, uncle. Everybody loves you and respects
you ... but, uncle dear, you ought to say nothing, no more than
that. What were you saying just now about my mother, your own
sister? Why did you say those things?

GAEV. Yes, yes. [Covers his face with her hand] Yes, really, it was
awful. Save me, my God! And only just now I made a speech before a
bookcase ... it's so silly! And only when I'd finished I knew how
silly it was.

VARYA. Yes, uncle dear, you really ought to say less. Keep quiet,
that's all.

ANYA. You'd be so much happier in yourself if you only kept quiet.

GAEV. All right, I'll be quiet. [Kisses their hands] I'll be quiet.
But let's talk business. On Thursday I was in the District Court,
and a lot of us met there together, and we began to talk of this,
that, and the other, and now I think I can arrange a loan to pay
the interest into the bank.

VARYA. If only God would help us!

GAEV. I'll go on Tuesday. I'll talk with them about it again. [To
VARYA] Don't howl. [To ANYA] Your mother will have a talk to
Lopakhin; he, of course, won't refuse ... And when you've rested
you'll go to Yaroslav to the Countess, your grandmother. So you
see, we'll have three irons in the fire, and we'll be safe. We'll
pay up the interest. I'm certain. [Puts some sugar-candy into his
mouth] I swear on my honour, on anything you will, that the estate
will not be sold! [Excitedly] I swear on my happiness! Here's my
hand. You may call me a dishonourable wretch if I let it go to
auction! I swear by all I am!

ANYA. [She is calm again and happy] How good and clever you are,
uncle. [Embraces him] I'm happy now! I'm happy! All's well!

[Enter FIERS.]

FIERS. [Reproachfully] Leonid Andreyevitch, don't you fear God?
When are you going to bed?

GAEV. Soon, soon. You go away, Fiers. I'll undress myself. Well,
children, bye-bye ...! I'll give you the details to-morrow, but
let's go to bed now. [Kisses ANYA and VARYA] I'm a man of the
eighties. ... People don't praise those years much, but I can still
say that I've suffered for my beliefs. The peasants don't love me
for nothing, I assure you. We've got to learn to know the peasants!
We ought to learn how. ...

ANYA. You're doing it again, uncle!

VARYA. Be quiet, uncle!

FIERS. [Angrily] Leonid Andreyevitch!

GAEV. I'm coming, I'm coming. ... Go to bed now. Off two cushions
into the middle! I turn over a new leaf. ... [Exit. FIERS goes out
after him.]

ANYA. I'm quieter now. I don't want to go to Yaroslav, I don't like
grandmother; but I'm calm now; thanks to uncle. [Sits down.]

VARYA. It's time to go to sleep. I'll go. There's been an
unpleasantness here while you were away. In the old servants' part
of the house, as you know, only the old people live--little old
Efim and Polya and Evstigney, and Karp as well. They started
letting some tramps or other spend the night there--I said nothing.
Then I heard that they were saying that I had ordered them to be
fed on peas and nothing else; from meanness, you see. ... And it
was all Evstigney's doing. ... Very well, I thought, if that's what
the matter is, just you wait. So I call Evstigney. ... [Yawns] He
comes. "What's this," I say, "Evstigney, you old fool." ... [Looks
at ANYA] Anya dear! [Pause] She's dropped off. ... [Takes ANYA'S
arm] Let's go to bye-bye. ... Come along! ... [Leads her] My
darling's gone to sleep! Come on. ... [They go. In the distance,
the other side of the orchard, a shepherd plays his pipe. TROFIMOV
crosses the stage and stops on seeing VARYA and ANYA] Sh! She's
asleep, asleep. Come on, dear.

ANYA. [Quietly, half-asleep] I'm so tired ... all the bells ...
uncle, dear! Mother and uncle!

VARYA. Come on, dear, come on! [They go into ANYA'S room.]

TROFIMOV. [Moved] My sun! My spring!



[In a field. An old, crooked shrine, which has been long abandoned;
near it a well and large stones, which apparently are old
tombstones, and an old garden seat. The road is seen to GAEV'S
estate. On one side rise dark poplars, behind them begins the
cherry orchard. In the distance is a row of telegraph poles, and
far, far away on the horizon are the indistinct signs of a large
town, which can only be seen on the finest and clearest days. It is
close on sunset. CHARLOTTA, YASHA, and DUNYASHA are sitting on the
seat; EPIKHODOV stands by and plays on a guitar; all seem
thoughtful. CHARLOTTA wears a man's old peaked cap; she has unslung
a rifle from her shoulders and is putting to rights the buckle on
the strap.]

CHARLOTTA. [Thoughtfully] I haven't a real passport. I don't know
how old I am, and I think I'm young. When I was a little girl my
father and mother used to go round fairs and give very good
performances and I used to do the _salto mortale_ and various
little things. And when papa and mamma died a German lady took me
to her and began to teach me. I liked it. I grew up and became a
governess. And where I came from and who I am, I don't know. ...
Who my parents were--perhaps they weren't married--I don't know.
[Takes a cucumber out of her pocket and eats] I don't know
anything. [Pause] I do want to talk, but I haven't anybody to talk
to ... I haven't anybody at all.

EPIKHODOV. [Plays on the guitar and sings]
   "What is this noisy earth to me,
   What matter friends and foes?"
   I do like playing on the mandoline!

DUNYASHA. That's a guitar, not a mandoline.
[Looks at herself in a little mirror and powders herself.]

EPIKHODOV. For the enamoured madman, this is a mandoline. [Sings]
   "Oh that the heart was warmed,
   By all the flames of love returned!"

[YASHA sings too.]

CHARLOTTA. These people sing terribly. ... Foo! Like jackals.

DUNYASHA. [To YASHA] Still, it must be nice to live abroad.

YASHA. Yes, certainly. I cannot differ from you there. [Yawns and
lights a cigar.]

EPIKHODOV. That is perfectly natural. Abroad everything is in full

YASHA. That goes without saying.

EPIKHODOV. I'm an educated man, I read various remarkable books,
but I cannot understand the direction I myself want to go--whether
to live or to shoot myself, as it were. So, in case, I always carry
a revolver about with me. Here it is. [Shows a revolver.]

CHARLOTTA. I've done. Now I'll go. [Slings the rifle] You,
Epikhodov, are a very clever man and very terrible; women must be
madly in love with you. Brrr! [Going] These wise ones are all so
stupid. I've nobody to talk to. I'm always alone, alone; I've
nobody at all ... and I don't know who I am or why I live. [Exit

EPIKHODOV. As a matter of fact, independently of everything else, I
must express my feeling, among other things, that fate has been as
pitiless in her dealings with me as a storm is to a small ship.
Suppose, let us grant, I am wrong; then why did I wake up this
morning, to give an example, and behold an enormous spider on my
chest, like that. [Shows with both hands] And if I do drink some
kvass, why is it that there is bound to be something of the most
indelicate nature in it, such as a beetle? [Pause] Have you read
Buckle? [Pause] I should like to trouble you, Avdotya Fedorovna,
for two words.


EPIKHODOV. I should prefer to be alone with you. [Sighs.]

DUNYASHA. [Shy] Very well, only first bring me my little cloak. ...
It's by the cupboard. It's a little damp here.

EPIKHODOV. Very well ... I'll bring it. ... Now I know what to do
with my revolver. [Takes guitar and exits, strumming.]

YASHA. Two-and-twenty troubles! A silly man, between you and me and
the gatepost. [Yawns.]

DUNYASHA. I hope to goodness he won't shoot himself. [Pause] I'm so
nervous, I'm worried. I went into service when I was quite a little
girl, and now I'm not used to common life, and my hands are white,
white as a lady's. I'm so tender and so delicate now; respectable
and afraid of everything. ... I'm so frightened. And I don't know
what will happen to my nerves if you deceive me, Yasha.

YASHA. [Kisses her] Little cucumber! Of course, every girl must
respect herself; there's nothing I dislike more than a badly
behaved girl.

DUNYASHA. I'm awfully in love with you; you're educated, you can
talk about everything. [Pause.]

YASHA. [Yawns] Yes. I think this: if a girl loves anybody, then
that means she's immoral. [Pause] It's nice to smoke a cigar out in
the open air. ... [Listens] Somebody's coming. It's the mistress,
and people with her. [DUNYASHA embraces him suddenly] Go to the
house, as if you'd been bathing in the river; go by this path, or
they'll meet you and will think I've been meeting you. I can't
stand that sort of thing.

DUNYASHA. [Coughs quietly] My head's aching because of your cigar.

[Exit. YASHA remains, sitting by the shrine. Enter LUBOV

LOPAKHIN. You must make up your mind definitely--there's no time to
waste. The question is perfectly plain. Are you willing to let the
land for villas or no? Just one word, yes or no? Just one word!

LUBOV. Who's smoking horrible cigars here? [Sits.]

GAEV. They built that railway; that's made this place very handy.
[Sits] Went to town and had lunch ... red in the middle! I'd like
to go in now and have just one game.

LUBOV. You'll have time.

LOPAKHIN. Just one word! [Imploringly] Give me an answer!

GAEV. [Yawns] Really!

LUBOV. [Looks in her purse] I had a lot of money yesterday, but
there's very little to-day. My poor Varya feeds everybody on milk
soup to save money, in the kitchen the old people only get peas,
and I spend recklessly. [Drops the purse, scattering gold coins]
There, they are all over the place.

YASHA. Permit me to pick them up. [Collects the coins.]

LUBOV. Please do, Yasha. And why did I go and have lunch there? ...
A horrid restaurant with band and tablecloths smelling of soap. ...
Why do you drink so much, Leon? Why do you eat so much? Why do you
talk so much? You talked again too much to-day in the restaurant,
and it wasn't at all to the point--about the seventies and about
decadents. And to whom? Talking to the waiters about decadents!


GAEV. [Waves his hand] I can't be cured, that's obvious. ...
[Irritably to YASHA] What's the matter? Why do you keep twisting
about in front of me?

YASHA. [Laughs] I can't listen to your voice without laughing.

GAEV. [To his sister] Either he or I ...

LUBOV. Go away, Yasha; get out of this. ...

YASHA. [Gives purse to LUBOV ANDREYEVNA] I'll go at once. [Hardly
able to keep from laughing] This minute. ... [Exit.]

LOPAKHIN. That rich man Deriganov is preparing to buy your estate.
They say he'll come to the sale himself.

LUBOV. Where did you hear that?

LOPAKHIN. They say so in town.

GAEV. Our Yaroslav aunt has promised to send something, but I don't
know when or how much.

LOPAKHIN. How much will she send? A hundred thousand roubles? Or
two, perhaps?

LUBOV. I'd be glad of ten or fifteen thousand.

LOPAKHIN. You must excuse my saying so, but I've never met such
frivolous people as you before, or anybody so unbusinesslike and
peculiar. Here I am telling you in plain language that your estate
will be sold, and you don't seem to understand.

LUBOV. What are we to do? Tell us, what?

LOPAKHIN. I tell you every day. I say the same thing every day.
Both the cherry orchard and the land must be leased off for villas
and at once, immediately--the auction is staring you in the face:
Understand! Once you do definitely make up your minds to the
villas, then you'll have as much money as you want and you'll be

LUBOV. Villas and villa residents--it's so vulgar, excuse me.

GAEV. I entirely agree with you.

LOPAKHIN. I must cry or yell or faint. I can't stand it! You're too
much for me! [To GAEV] You old woman!

GAEV. Really!

LOPAKHIN. Old woman! [Going out.]

LUBOV. [Frightened] No, don't go away, do stop; be a dear. Please.
Perhaps we'll find some way out!

LOPAKHIN. What's the good of trying to think!

LUBOV. Please don't go away. It's nicer when you're here. ...
[Pause] I keep on waiting for something to happen, as if the house
is going to collapse over our heads.

GAEV. [Thinking deeply] Double in the corner ... across the middle. ...

LUBOV. We have been too sinful. ...

LOPAKHIN. What sins have you committed?

GAEV. [Puts candy into his mouth] They say that I've eaten all my
substance in sugar-candies. [Laughs.]

LUBOV. Oh, my sins. ... I've always scattered money about without
holding myself in, like a madwoman, and I married a man who made
nothing but debts. My husband died of champagne--he drank terribly--
and to my misfortune, I fell in love with another man and went off
with him, and just at that time--it was my first punishment, a blow
that hit me right on the head--here, in the river ... my boy was
drowned, and I went away, quite away, never to return, never to see
this river again ...I shut my eyes and ran without thinking, but
_he_ ran after me ... without pity, without respect. I bought a
villa near Mentone because _he_ fell ill there, and for three years
I knew no rest either by day or night; the sick man wore me out,
and my soul dried up. And last year, when they had sold the villa
to pay my debts, I went away to Paris, and there he robbed me of
all I had and threw me over and went off with another woman. I
tried to poison myself. ... It was so silly, so shameful. ... And
suddenly I longed to be back in Russia, my own land, with my little
girl. ... [Wipes her tears] Lord, Lord be merciful to me, forgive
me my sins! Punish me no more! [Takes a telegram out of her pocket]
I had this to-day from Paris. ... He begs my forgiveness, he
implores me to return. ... [Tears it up] Don't I hear music?

GAEV. That is our celebrated Jewish band. You remember--four
violins, a flute, and a double-bass.

LUBOV So it still exists? It would be nice if they came along some

LOPAKHIN. [Listens] I can't hear. ... [Sings quietly] "For money
will the Germans make a Frenchman of a Russian." [Laughs] I saw
such an awfully funny thing at the theatre last night.

LUBOV. I'm quite sure there wasn't anything at all funny. You
oughtn't to go and see plays, you ought to go and look at yourself.
What a grey life you lead, what a lot you talk unnecessarily.

LOPAKHIN. It's true. To speak the straight truth, we live a silly
life. [Pause] My father was a peasant, an idiot, he understood
nothing, he didn't teach me, he was always drunk, and always used a
stick on me. In point of fact, I'm a fool and an idiot too. I've
never learned anything, my handwriting is bad, I write so that I'm
quite ashamed before people, like a pig!

LUBOV. You ought to get married, my friend.

LOPAKHIN. Yes ... that's true.

LUBOV. Why not to our Varya? She's a nice girl.


LUBOV. She's quite homely in her ways, works all day, and, what
matters most, she's in love with you. And you've liked her for a
long time.

LOPAKHIN. Well? I don't mind ... she's a nice girl. [Pause.]

GAEV. I'm offered a place in a bank. Six thousand roubles a year. ...
Did you hear?

LUBOV. What's the matter with you! Stay where you are. ...

[Enter FIERS with an overcoat.]

FIERS. [To GAEV] Please, sir, put this on, it's damp.

GAEV. [Putting it on] You're a nuisance, old man.

FIERS It's all very well. ... You went away this morning without
telling me. [Examining GAEV.]

LUBOV. How old you've grown, Fiers!

FIERS. I beg your pardon?

LOPAKHIN. She says you've grown very old!

FIERS. I've been alive a long time. They were already getting ready
to marry me before your father was born. ... [Laughs] And when the
Emancipation came I was already first valet. Only I didn't agree
with the Emancipation and remained with my people. ... [Pause] I
remember everybody was happy, but they didn't know why.

LOPAKHIN. It was very good for them in the old days. At any rate,
they used to beat them.

FIERS. [Not hearing] Rather. The peasants kept their distance from
the masters and the masters kept their distance from the peasants,
but now everything's all anyhow and you can't understand anything.

GAEV. Be quiet, Fiers. I've got to go to town tomorrow. I've been
promised an introduction to a General who may lend me money on a

LOPAKHIN. Nothing will come of it. And you won't pay your interest,
don't you worry.

LUBOV. He's talking rubbish. There's no General at all.


GAEV. Here they are.

ANYA. Mother's sitting down here.

LUBOV. [Tenderly] Come, come, my dears. ... [Embracing ANYA and
VARYA] If you two only knew how much I love you. Sit down next to
me, like that. [All sit down.]

LOPAKHIN. Our eternal student is always with the ladies.

TROFIMOV. That's not your business.

LOPAKHIN. He'll soon be fifty, and he's still a student.

TROFIMOV. Leave off your silly jokes!

LOPAKHIN. Getting angry, eh, silly?

TROFIMOV. Shut up, can't you.

LOPAKHIN. [Laughs] I wonder what you think of me?

TROFIMOV. I think, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, that you're a rich man,
and you'll soon be a millionaire. Just as the wild beast which eats
everything it finds is needed for changes to take place in matter,
so you are needed too.

[All laugh.]

VARYA. Better tell us something about the planets, Peter.

LUBOV ANDREYEVNA. No, let's go on with yesterday's talk!

TROFIMOV. About what?

GAEV. About the proud man.

TROFIMOV. Yesterday we talked for a long time but we didn't come to
anything in the end. There's something mystical about the proud
man, in your sense. Perhaps you are right from your point of view,
but if you take the matter simply, without complicating it, then
what pride can there be, what sense can there be in it, if a man is
imperfectly made, physiologically speaking, if in the vast majority
of cases he is coarse and stupid and deeply unhappy? We must stop
admiring one another. We must work, nothing more.

GAEV. You'll die, all the same.

TROFIMOV. Who knows? And what does it mean--you'll die? Perhaps a
man has a hundred senses, and when he dies only the five known to
us are destroyed and the remaining ninety-five are left alive.

LUBOV. How clever of you, Peter!

LOPAKHIN. [Ironically] Oh, awfully!

TROFIMOV. The human race progresses, perfecting its powers.
Everything that is unattainable now will some day be near at hand
and comprehensible, but we must work, we must help with all our
strength those who seek to know what fate will bring. Meanwhile in
Russia only a very few of us work. The vast majority of those
intellectuals whom I know seek for nothing, do nothing, and are at
present incapable of hard work. They call themselves intellectuals,
but they use "thou" and "thee" to their servants, they treat the
peasants like animals, they learn badly, they read nothing
seriously, they do absolutely nothing, about science they only
talk, about art they understand little. They are all serious, they
all have severe faces, they all talk about important things. They
philosophize, and at the same time, the vast majority of us,
ninety-nine out of a hundred, live like savages, fighting and
cursing at the slightest opportunity, eating filthily, sleeping in
the dirt, in stuffiness, with fleas, stinks, smells, moral filth,
and so on. . . And it's obvious that all our nice talk is only
carried on to distract ourselves and others. Tell me, where are
those créches we hear so much of? and where are those reading-rooms?
People only write novels about them; they don't really exist. Only
dirt, vulgarity, and Asiatic plagues really exist. ... I'm afraid,
and I don't at all like serious faces; I don't like serious
conversations. Let's be quiet sooner.

LOPAKHIN. You know, I get up at five every morning, I work from
morning till evening, I am always dealing with money--my own and
other people's--and I see what people are like. You've only got to
begin to do anything to find out how few honest, honourable people
there are. Sometimes, when I can't sleep, I think: "Oh Lord, you've
given us huge forests, infinite fields, and endless horizons, and
we, living here, ought really to be giants."

LUBOV. You want giants, do you? ... They're only good in stories,
and even there they frighten one. [EPIKHODOV enters at the back of
the stage playing his guitar. Thoughtfully:] Epikhodov's there.

ANYA. [Thoughtfully] Epikhodov's there.

GAEV. The sun's set, ladies and gentlemen.


GAEV [Not loudly, as if declaiming] O Nature, thou art wonderful,
thou shinest with eternal radiance! Oh, beautiful and indifferent
one, thou whom we call mother, thou containest in thyself existence
and death, thou livest and destroyest. ...

VARYA. [Entreatingly] Uncle, dear!

ANYA. Uncle, you're doing it again!

TROFIMOV. You'd better double the red into the middle.

GAEV. I'll be quiet, I'll be quiet.

[They all sit thoughtfully. It is quiet. Only the mumbling of FIERS
is heard. Suddenly a distant sound is heard as if from the sky, the
sound of a breaking string, which dies away sadly.]

LUBOV. What's that?

LOPAKHIN. I don't know. It may be a bucket fallen down a well
somewhere. But it's some way off.

GAEV. Or perhaps it's some bird ... like a heron.

TROFIMOV. Or an owl.

LUBOV. [Shudders] It's unpleasant, somehow. [A pause.]

FIERS. Before the misfortune the same thing happened. An owl
screamed and the samovar hummed without stopping.

GAEV. Before what misfortune?

FIERS. Before the Emancipation. [A pause.]

LUBOV. You know, my friends, let's go in; it's evening now. [To
ANYA] You've tears in your eyes. ... What is it, little girl?
[Embraces her.]

ANYA. It's nothing, mother.

TROFIMOV. Some one's coming.

[Enter a TRAMP in an old white peaked cap and overcoat. He is a
little drunk.]

TRAMP. Excuse me, may I go this way straight through to the

GAEV. You may. Go along this path.

TRAMP. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. [Hiccups] Lovely
weather. ... [Declaims] My brother, my suffering brother. ... Come
out on the Volga, you whose groans ... [To VARYA] Mademoiselle,
please give a hungry Russian thirty copecks. ...

[VARYA screams, frightened.]

LOPAKHIN. [Angrily] There's manners everybody's got to keep!

LUBOV. [With a start] Take this ... here you are. ... [Feels in her
purse] There's no silver. ... It doesn't matter, here's gold.

TRAMP. I am deeply grateful to you! [Exit. Laughter.]

VARYA. [Frightened] I'm going, I'm going. ... Oh, little mother, at
home there's nothing for the servants to eat, and you gave him

LUBOV. What is to be done with such a fool as I am! At home I'll
give you everything I've got. Ermolai Alexeyevitch, lend me some
more! ...

LOPAKHIN. Very well.

LUBOV. Let's go, it's time. And Varya, we've settled your affair; I
congratulate you.

VARYA. [Crying] You shouldn't joke about this, mother.

LOPAKHIN. Oh, feel me, get thee to a nunnery.

GAEV. My hands are all trembling; I haven't played billiards for a
long time.

LOPAKHIN. Oh, feel me, nymph, remember me in thine orisons.

LUBOV. Come along; it'll soon be supper-time.

VARYA. He did frighten me. My heart is beating hard.

LOPAKHIN. Let me remind you, ladies and gentlemen, on August 22 the
cherry orchard will be sold. Think of that! ... Think of that! ...

[All go out except TROFIMOV and ANYA.]

ANYA. [Laughs] Thanks to the tramp who frightened Barbara, we're
alone now.

TROFIMOV. Varya's afraid we may fall in love with each other and
won't get away from us for days on end. Her narrow mind won't allow
her to understand that we are above love. To escape all the petty
and deceptive things which prevent our being happy and free, that
is the aim and meaning of our lives. Forward! We go irresistibly on
to that bright star which burns there, in the distance! Don't lag
behind, friends!

ANYA. [Clapping her hands] How beautifully you talk! [Pause] It is
glorious here to-day!

TROFIMOV. Yes, the weather is wonderful.

ANYA. What have you done to me, Peter? I don't love the cherry
orchard as I used to. I loved it so tenderly, I thought there was
no better place in the world than our orchard.

TROFIMOV. All Russia is our orchard. The land is great and
beautiful, there are many marvellous places in it. [Pause] Think,
Anya, your grandfather, your great-grandfather, and all your
ancestors were serf-owners, they owned living souls; and now,
doesn't something human look at you from every cherry in the
orchard, every leaf and every stalk? Don't you hear voices ...? Oh,
it's awful, your orchard is terrible; and when in the evening or at
night you walk through the orchard, then the old bark on the trees
sheds a dim light and the old cherry-trees seem to be dreaming of
all that was a hundred, two hundred years ago, and are oppressed by
their heavy visions. Still, at any rate, we've left those two
hundred years behind us. So far we've gained nothing at all--we
don't yet know what the past is to be to us--we only philosophize,
we complain that we are dull, or we drink vodka. For it's so clear
that in order to begin to live in the present we must first redeem
the past, and that can only be done by suffering, by strenuous,
uninterrupted labour. Understand that, Anya.

ANYA. The house in which we live has long ceased to be our house; I
shall go away. I give you my word.

TROFIMOV. If you have the housekeeping keys, throw them down the well
and go away. Be as free as the wind.

ANYA. [Enthusiastically] How nicely you said that!

TROFIMOV. Believe me, Anya, believe me! I'm not thirty yet, I'm
young, I'm still a student, but I have undergone a great deal! I'm
as hungry as the winter, I'm ill, I'm shaken. I'm as poor as a
beggar, and where haven't I been--fate has tossed me everywhere!
But my soul is always my own; every minute of the day and the night
it is filled with unspeakable presentiments. I know that happiness
is coming, Anya, I see it already. ...

ANYA. [Thoughtful] The moon is rising.

[EPIKHODOV is heard playing the same sad song on his guitar. The
moon rises. Somewhere by the poplars VARYA is looking for ANYA and
calling, "Anya, where are you?"]

TROFIMOV. Yes, the moon has risen. [Pause] There is happiness,
there it comes; it comes nearer and nearer; I hear its steps
already. And if we do not see it we shall not know it, but what
does that matter? Others will see it!

THE VOICE OF VARYA. Anya! Where are you?

TROFIMOV. That's Varya again! [Angry] Disgraceful!

ANYA. Never mind. Let's go to the river. It's nice there.

TROFIMOV Let's go. [They go out.]




[A reception-room cut off from a drawing-room by an arch.
Chandelier lighted. A Jewish band, the one mentioned in Act II, is
heard playing in another room. Evening. In the drawing-room the
grand rond is being danced. Voice of SIMEONOV PISCHIN "Promenade a
une paire!" Dancers come into the reception-room; the first pair
ANDREYEVNA; the third, ANYA and the POST OFFICE CLERK; the fourth,
VARYA and the STATION-MASTER, and so on. VARYA is crying gently and
wipes away her tears as she dances. DUNYASHA is in the last pair.
They go off into the drawing-room, PISCHIN shouting, "Grand rond,
balancez:" and "Les cavaliers à genou et remerciez vos dames!"
FIERS, in a dress-coat, carries a tray with seltzer-water across.
Enter PISCHIN and TROFIMOV from the drawing-room.]

PISCHIN. I'm full-blooded and have already had two strokes; it's
hard for me to dance, but, as they say, if you're in Rome, you must
do as Rome does. I've got the strength of a horse. My dead father,
who liked a joke, peace to his bones, used to say, talking of our
ancestors, that the ancient stock of the Simeonov-Pischins was
descended from that identical horse that Caligula made a senator. ...
[Sits] But the trouble is, I've no money! A hungry dog only
believes in meat. [Snores and wakes up again immediately] So I ...
only believe in money. ...

TROFIMOV. Yes. There is something equine about your figure.

PISCHIN. Well ... a horse is a fine animal ... you can sell a

[Billiard playing can be heard in the next room. VARYA appears
under the arch.]

TROFIMOV. [Teasing] Madame Lopakhin! Madame Lopakhin!

VARYA. [Angry] Decayed gentleman!

TROFIMOV. Yes, I am a decayed gentleman, and I'm proud of it!

VARYA. [Bitterly] We've hired the musicians, but how are they to be
paid? [Exit.]

TROFIMOV. [To PISCHIN] If the energy which you, in the course of
your life, have spent in looking for money to pay interest had been
used for something else, then, I believe, after all, you'd be able
to turn everything upside down.

PISCHIN. Nietzsche ... a philosopher ... a very great, a most
celebrated man ... a man of enormous brain, says in his books that
you can forge bank-notes.

TROFIMOV. And have you read Nietzsche?

PISCHIN. Well ... Dashenka told me. Now I'm in such a position, I
wouldn't mind forging them ... I've got to pay 310 roubles the day
after to-morrow ... I've got 130 already. ... [Feels his pockets,
nervously] I've lost the money! The money's gone! [Crying] Where's
the money? [Joyfully] Here it is behind the lining ... I even began
to perspire.


LUBOV. [Humming a Caucasian dance] Why is Leonid away so long?
What's he doing in town? [To DUNYASHA] Dunyasha, give the musicians
some tea.

TROFIMOV. Business is off, I suppose.

LUBOV. And the musicians needn't have come, and we needn't have got
up this ball. ... Well, never mind. ... [Sits and sings softly.]

CHARLOTTA. [Gives a pack of cards to PISCHIN] Here's a pack of
cards, think of any one card you like.

PISCHIN. I've thought of one.

CHARLOTTA. Now shuffle. All right, now. Give them here, oh my dear
Mr. Pischin. _Ein, zwei, drei_! Now look and you'll find it in your
coat-tail pocket.

PISCHIN. [Takes a card out of his coat-tail pocket] Eight of
spades, quite right! [Surprised] Think of that now!

CHARLOTTA. [Holds the pack of cards on the palm of her hand. To
TROFIMOV] Now tell me quickly. What's the top card?

TROFIMOV. Well, the queen of spades.

CHARLOTTA. Right! [To PISCHIN] Well now? What card's on top?

PISCHIN. Ace of hearts.

CHARLOTTA. Right! [Claps her hands, the pack of cards vanishes] How
lovely the weather is to-day. [A mysterious woman's voice answers
her, as if from under the floor, "Oh yes, it's lovely weather,
madam."] You are so beautiful, you are my ideal. [Voice, "You,
madam, please me very much too."]

STATION-MASTER. [Applauds] Madame ventriloquist, bravo!

PISCHIN. [Surprised] Think of that, now! Delightful, Charlotte
Ivanovna ... I'm simply in love. ...

CHARLOTTA. In love? [Shrugging her shoulders] Can you love? _Guter
Mensch aber schlechter Musikant_.

TROFIMOV. [Slaps PISCHIN on the shoulder] Oh, you horse!

CHARLOTTA. Attention please, here's another trick. [Takes a shawl
from a chair] Here's a very nice plaid shawl, I'm going to sell it. ...
[Shakes it] Won't anybody buy it?

PISCHIN. [Astonished] Think of that now!

CHARLOTTA. _Ein, zwei, drei_.

[She quickly lifts up the shawl, which is hanging down. ANYA is
standing behind it; she bows and runs to her mother, hugs her and
runs back to the drawing-room amid general applause.]

LUBOV. [Applauds] Bravo, bravo!

CHARLOTTA. Once again! _Ein, zwei, drei_!

[Lifts the shawl. VARYA stands behind it and bows.]

PISCHIN. [Astonished] Think of that, now.


[Throws the shawl at PISCHIN, curtseys and runs into the drawing-room.]

PISCHIN. [Runs after her] Little wretch. ... What? Would you? [Exit.]

LUBOV. Leonid hasn't come yet. I don't understand what he's doing
so long in town! Everything must be over by now. The estate must be
sold; or, if the sale never came off, then why does he stay so

VARYA. [Tries to soothe her] Uncle has bought it. I'm certain of

TROFIMOV. [Sarcastically] Oh, yes!

VARYA. Grandmother sent him her authority for him to buy it in her
name and transfer the debt to her. She's doing it for Anya. And I'm
certain that God will help us and uncle will buy it.

LUBOV. Grandmother sent fifteen thousand roubles from Yaroslav to
buy the property in her name--she won't trust us--and that wasn't
even enough to pay the interest. [Covers her face with her hands]
My fate will be settled to-day, my fate. ...

TROFIMOV. [Teasing VARYA] Madame Lopakhin!

VARYA. [Angry] Eternal student! He's already been expelled twice
from the university.

LUBOV. Why are you getting angry, Varya? He's teasing you about
Lopakhin, well what of it? You can marry Lopakhin if you want to,
he's a good, interesting man. ... You needn't if you don't want
to; nobody wants to force you against your will, my darling.

VARYA. I do look at the matter seriously, little mother, to be
quite frank. He's a good man, and I like him.

LUBOV. Then marry him. I don't understand what you're waiting for.

VARYA. I can't propose to him myself, little mother. People have
been talking about him to me for two years now, but he either says
nothing, or jokes about it. I understand. He's getting rich, he's
busy, he can't bother about me. If I had some money, even a little,
even only a hundred roubles, I'd throw up everything and go away.
I'd go into a convent.

TROFIMOV. How nice!

VARYA. [To TROFIMOV] A student ought to have sense! [Gently, in
tears] How ugly you are now, Peter, how old you've grown! [To LUBOV
ANDREYEVNA, no longer crying] But I can't go on without working,
little mother. I want to be doing something every minute.

[Enter YASHA.]

YASHA. [Nearly laughing] Epikhodov's broken a billiard cue! [Exit.]

VARYA. Why is Epikhodov here? Who said he could play billiards? I
don't understand these people. [Exit.]

LUBOV. Don't tease her, Peter, you see that she's quite unhappy
without that.

TROFIMOV. She takes too much on herself, she keeps on interfering
in other people's business. The whole summer she's given no peace
to me or to Anya, she's afraid we'll have a romance all to
ourselves. What has it to do with her? As if I'd ever given her
grounds to believe I'd stoop to such vulgarity! We are above love.

LUBOV. Then I suppose I must be beneath love. [In agitation] Why
isn't Leonid here? If I only knew whether the estate is sold or
not! The disaster seems to me so improbable that I don't know what
to think, I'm all at sea ... I may scream ... or do something
silly. Save me, Peter. Say something, say something.

TROFIMOV. Isn't it all the same whether the estate is sold to-day
or isn't? It's been all up with it for a long time; there's no
turning back, the path's grown over. Be calm, dear, you shouldn't
deceive yourself, for once in your life at any rate you must look
the truth straight in the face.

LUBOV. What truth? You see where truth is, and where untruth is,
but I seem to have lost my sight and see nothing. You boldly settle
all important questions, but tell me, dear, isn't it because you're
young, because you haven't had time to suffer till you settled a
single one of your questions? You boldly look forward, isn't it
because you cannot foresee or expect anything terrible, because so
far life has been hidden from your young eyes? You are bolder, more
honest, deeper than we are, but think only, be just a little
magnanimous, and have mercy on me. I was born here, my father and
mother lived here, my grandfather too, I love this house. I
couldn't understand my life without that cherry orchard, and if it
really must be sold, sell me with it! [Embraces TROFIMOV, kisses
his forehead]. My son was drowned here. ... [Weeps] Have pity on
me, good, kind man.

TROFIMOV. You know I sympathize with all my soul.

LUBOV. Yes, but it ought to be said differently, differently. ...
[Takes another handkerchief, a telegram falls on the floor] I'm so
sick at heart to-day, you can't imagine. Here it's so noisy, my
soul shakes at every sound. I shake all over, and I can't go away
by myself, I'm afraid of the silence. Don't judge me harshly, Peter ...
I loved you, as if you belonged to my family. I'd gladly let Anya
marry you, I swear it, only dear, you ought to work, finish your
studies. You don't do anything, only fate throws you about from
place to place, it's so odd. ... Isn't it true? Yes? And you ought
to do something to your beard to make it grow better [Laughs] You
are funny!

TROFIMOV. [Picking up telegram] I don't want to be a Beau Brummel.

LUBOV. This telegram's from Paris. I get one every day. Yesterday
and to-day. That wild man is ill again, he's bad again. ... He begs
for forgiveness, and implores me to come, and I really ought to go
to Paris to be near him. You look severe, Peter, but what can I do,
my dear, what can I do; he's ill, he's alone, unhappy, and who's to
look after him, who's to keep him away from his errors, to give him
his medicine punctually? And why should I conceal it and say
nothing about it; I love him, that's plain, I love him, I love him. ...
That love is a stone round my neck; I'm going with it to the
bottom, but I love that stone and can't live without it. [Squeezes
TROFIMOV'S hand] Don't think badly of me, Peter, don't say anything
to me, don't say ...

TROFIMOV. [Weeping] For God's sake forgive my speaking candidly,
but that man has robbed you!

LUBOV. No, no, no, you oughtn't to say that! [Stops her ears.]

TROFIMOV. But he's a wretch, you alone don't know it! He's a petty
thief, a nobody. ...

LUBOV. [Angry, but restrained] You're twenty-six or twenty-seven,
and still a schoolboy of the second class!

TROFIMOV. Why not!

LUBOV. You ought to be a man, at your age you ought to be able to
understand those who love. And you ought to be in love yourself,
you must fall in love! [Angry] Yes, yes! You aren't pure, you're
just a freak, a queer fellow, a funny growth ...

TROFIMOV. [In horror] What is she saying!

LUBOV. "I'm above love!" You're not above love, you're just what
our Fiers calls a bungler. Not to have a mistress at your age!

TROFIMOV. [In horror] This is awful! What is she saying? [Goes
quickly up into the drawing-room, clutching his head] It's awful ...
I can't stand it, I'll go away. [Exit, but returns at once] All is
over between us! [Exit.]

LUBOV. [Shouts after him] Peter, wait! Silly man, I was joking!
Peter! [Somebody is heard going out and falling downstairs noisily.
ANYA and VARYA scream; laughter is heard immediately] What's that?

[ANYA comes running in, laughing.]

ANYA. Peter's fallen downstairs! [Runs out again.]

LUBOV. This Peter's a marvel.

[The STATION-MASTER stands in the middle of the drawing-room and
recites "The Magdalen" by Tolstoy. He is listened to, but he has
only delivered a few lines when a waltz is heard from the front
room, and the recitation is stopped. Everybody dances. TROFIMOV,
ANYA, VARYA, and LUBOV ANDREYEVNA come in from the front room.]

LUBOV. Well, Peter ... you pure soul ... I beg your pardon ...
let's dance.

[She dances with PETER. ANYA and VARYA dance. FIERS enters and
stands his stick by a side door. YASHA has also come in and looks
on at the dance.]

YASHA. Well, grandfather?

FIERS. I'm not well. At our balls some time back, generals and
barons and admirals used to dance, and now we send for post-office
clerks and the Station-master, and even they come as a favour. I'm
very weak. The dead master, the grandfather, used to give everybody
sealing-wax when anything was wrong. I've taken sealing-wax every
day for twenty years, and more; perhaps that's why I still live.

YASHA. I'm tired of you, grandfather. [Yawns] If you'd only hurry
up and kick the bucket.

FIERS. Oh you ... bungler! [Mutters.]

[TROFIMOV and LUBOV ANDREYEVNA dance in the reception-room, then
into the sitting-room.]

LUBOV. _Merci_. I'll sit down. [Sits] I'm tired.

[Enter ANYA.]

ANYA. [Excited] Somebody in the kitchen was saying just now that
the cherry orchard was sold to-day.

LUBOV. Sold to whom?

ANYA. He didn't say to whom. He's gone now. [Dances out into the
reception-room with TROFIMOV.]

YASHA. Some old man was chattering about it a long time ago. A

FIERS. And Leonid Andreyevitch isn't here yet, he hasn't come. He's
wearing a light, _demi-saison_ overcoat. He'll catch cold. Oh these
young fellows.

LUBOV. I'll die of this. Go and find out, Yasha, to whom it's sold.

YASHA. Oh, but he's been gone a long time, the old man. [Laughs.]

LUBOV. [Slightly vexed] Why do you laugh? What are you glad about?

YASHA. Epikhodov's too funny. He's a silly man. Two-and-twenty

LUBOV. Fiers, if the estate is sold, where will you go?

FIERS. I'll go wherever you order me to go.

LUBOV. Why do you look like that? Are you ill? I think you ought to
go to bed. ...

FIERS. Yes ... [With a smile] I'll go to bed, and who'll hand
things round and give orders without me? I've the whole house on my

YASHA. [To LUBOV ANDREYEVNA] Lubov Andreyevna! I want to ask a
favour of you, if you'll be so kind! If you go to Paris again, then
please take me with you. It's absolutely impossible for me to stop
here. [Looking round; in an undertone] What's the good of talking
about it, you see for yourself that this is an uneducated country,
with an immoral population, and it's so dull. The food in the
kitchen is beastly, and here's this Fiers walking about mumbling
various inappropriate things. Take me with you, be so kind!

[Enter PISCHIN.]

PISCHIN. I come to ask for the pleasure of a little waltz, dear
lady. ... [LUBOV ANDREYEVNA goes to him] But all the same, you
wonderful woman, I must have 180 little roubles from you ... I
must. ... [They dance] 180 little roubles. ... [They go through
into the drawing-room.]

YASHA. [Sings softly]
   "Oh, will you understand
   My soul's deep restlessness?"

[In the drawing-room a figure in a grey top-hat and in baggy check
trousers is waving its hands and jumping about; there are cries of
"Bravo, Charlotta Ivanovna!"]

DUNYASHA. [Stops to powder her face] The young mistress tells me to
dance--there are a lot of gentlemen, but few ladies--and my head
goes round when I dance, and my heart beats, Fiers Nicolaevitch;
the Post-office clerk told me something just now which made me
catch my breath. [The music grows faint.]

FIERS. What did he say to you?

DUNYASHA. He says, "You're like a little flower."

YASHA. [Yawns] Impolite. ... [Exit.]

DUNYASHA. Like a little flower. I'm such a delicate girl; I simply
love words of tenderness.

FIERS. You'll lose your head.


EPIKHODOV. You, Avdotya Fedorovna, want to see me no more than if I
was some insect. [Sighs] Oh, life!

DUNYASHA. What do you want?

EPIKHODOV. Undoubtedly, perhaps, you may be right. [Sighs] But,
certainly, if you regard the matter from the aspect, then you, if I
may say so, and you must excuse my candidness, have absolutely
reduced me to a state of mind. I know my fate, every day something
unfortunate happens to me, and I've grown used to it a long time
ago, I even look at my fate with a smile. You gave me your word,
and though I ...

DUNYASHA. Please, we'll talk later on, but leave me alone now. I'm
meditating now. [Plays with her fan.]

EPIKHODOV. Every day something unfortunate happens to me, and I, if
I may so express myself, only smile, and even laugh.

[VARYA enters from the drawing-room.]

VARYA. Haven't you gone yet, Simeon? You really have no respect for
anybody. [To DUNYASHA] You go away, Dunyasha. [To EPIKHODOV] You
play billiards and break a cue, and walk about the drawing-room as
if you were a visitor!

EPIKHODOV. You cannot, if I may say so, call me to order.

VARYA. I'm not calling you to order, I'm only telling you. You just
walk about from place to place and never do your work. Goodness
only knows why we keep a clerk.

EPIKHODOV. [Offended] Whether I work, or walk about, or eat, or
play billiards, is only a matter to be settled by people of
understanding and my elders.

VARYA. You dare to talk to me like that! [Furious] You dare? You
mean that I know nothing? Get out of here! This minute!

EPIKHODOV. [Nervous] I must ask you to express yourself more

VARYA. [Beside herself] Get out this minute. Get out! [He goes to
the door, she follows] Two-and-twenty troubles! I don't want any
sign of you here! I don't want to see anything of you! [EPIKHODOV
has gone out; his voice can be heard outside: "I'll make a
complaint against you."] What, coming back? [Snatches up the stick
left by FIERS by the door] Go ... go ... go, I'll show you. ... Are
you going? Are you going? Well, then take that. [She hits out as
LOPAKHIN enters.]

LOPAKHIN. Much obliged.

VARYA. [Angry but amused] I'm sorry.

LOPAKHIN. Never mind. I thank you for my pleasant reception.

VARYA. It isn't worth any thanks. [Walks away, then looks back and
asks gently] I didn't hurt you, did I?

LOPAKHIN. No, not at all. There'll be an enormous bump, that's all.

VOICES FROM THE DRAWING-ROOM. Lopakhin's returned! Ermolai

PISCHIN. Now we'll see what there is to see and hear what there is
to hear. .. [Kisses LOPAKHIN] You smell of cognac, my dear, my
soul. And we're all having a good time.


LUBOV. Is that you, Ermolai Alexeyevitch? Why were you so long?
Where's Leonid?

LOPAKHIN. Leonid Andreyevitch came back with me, he's coming. ...

LUBOV. [Excited] Well, what? Is it sold? Tell me?

LOPAKHIN. [Confused, afraid to show his pleasure] The sale ended up
at four o'clock. ... We missed the train, and had to wait till
half-past nine. [Sighs heavily] Ooh! My head's going round a

[Enter GAEV; in his right hand he carries things he has bought,
with his left he wipes away his tears.]

LUBOV. Leon, what's happened? Leon, well? [Impatiently, in tears]
Quick, for the love of God. ...

GAEV. [Says nothing to her, only waves his hand; to FIERS, weeping]
Here, take this. ... Here are anchovies, herrings from Kertch. ...
I've had no food to-day. ... I have had a time! [The door from the
billiard-room is open; the clicking of the balls is heard, and
YASHA'S voice, "Seven, eighteen!" GAEV'S expression changes, he
cries no more] I'm awfully tired. Help me change my clothes, Fiers.

[Goes out through the drawing-room; FIERS after him.]

PISCHIN. What happened? Come on, tell us!

LUBOV. Is the cherry orchard sold?

LOPAKHIN. It is sold.

LUBOV. Who bought it?

LOPAKHIN. I bought it.

[LUBOV ANDREYEVNA is overwhelmed; she would fall if she were not
standing by an armchair and a table. VARYA takes her keys off her
belt, throws them on the floor, into the middle of the room and
goes out.]

LOPAKHIN. I bought it! Wait, ladies and gentlemen, please, my
head's going round, I can't talk. ... [Laughs] When we got to the
sale, Deriganov was there already. Leonid Andreyevitch had only
fifteen thousand roubles, and Deriganov offered thirty thousand on
top of the mortgage to begin with. I saw how matters were, so I
grabbed hold of him and bid forty. He went up to forty-five, I
offered fifty-five. That means he went up by fives and I went up by
tens. ... Well, it came to an end. I bid ninety more than the
mortgage; and it stayed with me. The cherry orchard is mine now,
mine! [Roars with laughter] My God, my God, the cherry orchard's
mine! Tell me I'm drunk, or mad, or dreaming. ... [Stamps his feet]
Don't laugh at me! If my father and grandfather rose from their
graves and looked at the whole affair, and saw how their Ermolai,
their beaten and uneducated Ermolai, who used to run barefoot in
the winter, how that very Ermolai has bought an estate, which is
the most beautiful thing in the world! I've bought the estate where
my grandfather and my father were slaves, where they weren't even
allowed into the kitchen. I'm asleep, it's only a dream, an
illusion. ... It's the fruit of imagination, wrapped in the fog of
the unknown. ... [Picks up the keys, nicely smiling] She threw down
the keys, she wanted to show she was no longer mistress here. ...
[Jingles keys] Well, it's all one! [Hears the band tuning up] Eh,
musicians, play, I want to hear you! Come and look at Ermolai
Lopakhin laying his axe to the cherry orchard, come and look at the
trees falling! We'll build villas here, and our grandsons and
great-grandsons will see a new life here. ... Play on, music! [The
band plays. LUBOV ANDREYEVNA sinks into a chair and weeps bitterly.
LOPAKHIN continues reproachfully] Why then, why didn't you take my
advice? My poor, dear woman, you can't go back now. [Weeps] Oh, if
only the whole thing was done with, if only our uneven, unhappy
life were changed!

PISCHIN. [Takes his arm; in an undertone] She's crying. Let's go
into the drawing-room and leave her by herself ... come on. ...
[Takes his arm and leads him out.]

LOPAKHIN. What's that? Bandsmen, play nicely! Go on, do just as I
want you to! [Ironically] The new owner, the owner of the cherry
orchard is coming! [He accidentally knocks up against a little
table and nearly upsets the candelabra] I can pay for everything!
[Exit with PISCHIN]

[In the reception-room and the drawing-room nobody remains except
LUBOV ANDREYEVNA, who sits huddled up and weeping bitterly. The
band plays softly. ANYA and TROFIMOV come in quickly. ANYA goes up
to her mother and goes on her knees in front of her. TROFIMOV
stands at the drawing-room entrance.]

ANYA. Mother! mother, are you crying? My dear, kind, good mother,
my beautiful mother, I love you! Bless you! The cherry orchard is
sold, we've got it no longer, it's true, true, but don't cry
mother, you've still got your life before you, you've still your
beautiful pure soul ... Come with me, come, dear, away from here,
come! We'll plant a new garden, finer than this, and you'll see it,
and you'll understand, and deep joy, gentle joy will sink into your
soul, like the evening sun, and you'll smile, mother! Come, dear,
let's go!



[The stage is set as for Act I. There are no curtains on the
windows, no pictures; only a few pieces of furniture are left; they
are piled up in a corner as if for sale. The emptiness is felt. By
the door that leads out of the house and at the back of the stage,
portmanteaux and travelling paraphernalia are piled up. The door on
the left is open; the voices of VARYA and ANYA can be heard through
it. LOPAKHIN stands and waits. YASHA holds a tray with little
tumblers of champagne. Outside, EPIKHODOV is tying up a box. Voices
are heard behind the stage. The peasants have come to say good-bye.
The voice of GAEV is heard: "Thank you, brothers, thank you."]

YASHA. The common people have come to say good-bye. I am of the
opinion, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, that they're good people, but they
don't understand very much.

[The voices die away. LUBOV ANDREYEVNA and GAEV enter. She is not
crying but is pale, and her face trembles; she can hardly speak.]

GAEV. You gave them your purse, Luba. You can't go on like that,
you can't!

LUBOV. I couldn't help myself, I couldn't! [They go out.]

LOPAKHIN. [In the doorway, calling after them] Please, I ask you
most humbly! Just a little glass to say good-bye. I didn't remember
to bring any from town and I only found one bottle at the station.
Please, do! [Pause] Won't you really have any? [Goes away from the
door] If I only knew--I wouldn't have bought any. Well, I shan't
drink any either. [YASHA carefully puts the tray on a chair] You
have a drink, Yasha, at any rate.

YASHA. To those departing! And good luck to those who stay behind!
[Drinks] I can assure you that this isn't real champagne.

LOPAKHIN. Eight roubles a bottle. [Pause] It's devilish cold here.

YASHA. There are no fires to-day, we're going away. [Laughs]

LOPAKHIN. What's the matter with you?

YASHA. I'm just pleased.

LOPAKHIN. It's October outside, but it's as sunny and as quiet as
if it were summer. Good for building. [Looking at his watch and
speaking through the door] Ladies and gentlemen, please remember
that it's only forty-seven minutes till the train goes! You must go
off to the station in twenty minutes. Hurry up.

[TROFIMOV, in an overcoat, comes in from the grounds.]

TROFIMOV. I think it's time we went. The carriages are waiting.
Where the devil are my goloshes? They're lost. [Through the door]
Anya, I can't find my goloshes! I can't!

LOPAKHIN. I've got to go to Kharkov. I'm going in the same train as
you. I'm going to spend the whole winter in Kharkov. I've been
hanging about with you people, going rusty without work. I can't
live without working. I must have something to do with my hands;
they hang about as if they weren't mine at all.

TROFIMOV. We'll go away now and then you'll start again on your
useful labours.

LOPAKHIN. Have a glass.

TROFIMOV. I won't.

LOPAKHIN. So you're off to Moscow now?

TROFIMOV Yes. I'll see them into town and to-morrow I'm off to

LOPAKHIN. Yes. ... I expect the professors don't lecture nowadays;
they're waiting till you turn up!

TROFIMOV. That's not your business.

LOPAKHIN. How many years have you been going to the university?

TROFIMOV. Think of something fresh. This is old and flat. [Looking
for his goloshes] You know, we may not meet each other again, so
just let me give you a word of advice on parting: "Don't wave your
hands about! Get rid of that habit of waving them about. And then,
building villas and reckoning on their residents becoming freeholders
in time--that's the same thing; it's all a matter of waving your hands
about. ... Whether I want to or not, you know, I like you. You've
thin, delicate fingers, like those of an artist, and you've a thin,
delicate soul. ..."

LOPAKHIN. [Embraces him] Good-bye, dear fellow. Thanks for all
you've said. If you want any, take some money from me for the

TROFIMOV. Why should I? I don't want it.

LOPAKHIN. But you've nothing!

TROFIMOV. Yes, I have, thank you; I've got some for a translation.
Here it is in my pocket. [Nervously] But I can't find my goloshes!

VARYA. [From the other room] Take your rubbish away! [Throws a pair
of rubber goloshes on to the stage.]

TROFIMOV. Why are you angry, Varya? Hm! These aren't my goloshes!

LOPAKHIN. In the spring I sowed three thousand acres of poppies,
and now I've made forty thousand roubles net profit. And when my
poppies were in flower, what a picture it was! So I, as I was
saying, made forty thousand roubles, and I mean I'd like to lend
you some, because I can afford it. Why turn up your nose at it? I'm
just a simple peasant. ...

TROFIMOV. Your father was a peasant, mine was a chemist, and that
means absolutely nothing. [LOPAKHIN takes out his pocket-book] No,
no. ... Even if you gave me twenty thousand I should refuse. I'm a
free man. And everything that all you people, rich and poor, value
so highly and so dearly hasn't the least influence over me; it's
like a flock of down in the wind. I can do without you, I can pass
you by. I'm strong and proud. Mankind goes on to the highest truths
and to the highest happiness such as is only possible on earth, and
I go in the front ranks!

LOPAKHIN. Will you get there?

TROFIMOV. I will. [Pause] I'll get there and show others the way.
[Axes cutting the trees are heard in the distance.]

LOPAKHIN. Well, good-bye, old man. It's time to go. Here we stand
pulling one another's noses, but life goes its own way all the
time. When I work for a long time, and I don't get tired, then I
think more easily, and I think I get to understand why I exist. And
there are so many people in Russia, brother, who live for nothing
at all. Still, work goes on without that. Leonid Andreyevitch, they
say, has accepted a post in a bank; he will get sixty thousand
roubles a year. ... But he won't stand it; he's very lazy.

ANYA. [At the door] Mother asks if you will stop them cutting down
the orchard until she has gone away.

TROFIMOV. Yes, really, you ought to have enough tact not to do
that. [Exit.]

LOPAKHIN, All right, all right ... yes, he's right. [Exit.]

ANYA. Has Fiers been sent to the hospital?

YASHA. I gave the order this morning. I suppose they've sent him.

ANYA. [To EPIKHODOV, who crosses the room] Simeon Panteleyevitch,
please make inquiries if Fiers has been sent to the hospital.

YASHA. [Offended] I told Egor this morning. What's the use of
asking ten times!

EPIKHODOV. The aged Fiers, in my conclusive opinion, isn't worth
mending; his forefathers had better have him. I only envy him.
[Puts a trunk on a hat-box and squashes it] Well, of course. I
thought so! [Exit.]

YASHA. [Grinning] Two-and-twenty troubles.

VARYA. [Behind the door] Has Fiers been taken away to the hospital?

ANYA. Yes.

VARYA. Why didn't they take the letter to the doctor?

ANYA. It'll have to be sent after him. [Exit.]

VARYA. [In the next room] Where's Yasha? Tell him his mother's come
and wants to say good-bye to him.

YASHA. [Waving his hand] She'll make me lose all patience!

[DUNYASHA has meanwhile been bustling round the luggage; now that
YASHA is left alone, she goes up to him.]

DUNYASHA. If you only looked at me once, Yasha. You're going away,
leaving me behind.

[Weeps and hugs him round the neck.]

YASHA. What's the use of crying? [Drinks champagne] In six days
I'll be again in Paris. To-morrow we get into the express and off
we go. I can hardly believe it. Vive la France! It doesn't suit me
here, I can't live here ... it's no good. Well, I've seen the
uncivilized world; I have had enough of it. [Drinks champagne] What
do you want to cry for? You behave yourself properly, and then you
won't cry.

DUNYASHA. [Looks in a small mirror and powders her face] Send me a
letter from Paris. You know I loved you, Yasha, so much! I'm a
sensitive creature, Yasha.

YASHA. Somebody's coming.

[He bustles around the luggage, singing softly. Enter LUBOV

GAEV. We'd better be off. There's no time left. [Looks at YASHA]
Somebody smells of herring!

LUBOV. We needn't get into our carriages for ten minutes. ...
[Looks round the room] Good-bye, dear house, old grandfather. The
winter will go, the spring will come, and then you'll exist no
more, you'll be pulled down. How much these walls have seen!
[Passionately kisses her daughter] My treasure, you're radiant,
your eyes flash like two jewels! Are you happy? Very?

ANYA. Very! A new life is beginning, mother!

GAEV. [Gaily] Yes, really, everything's all right now. Before the
cherry orchard was sold we all were excited and we suffered, and
then, when the question was solved once and for all, we all calmed
down, and even became cheerful. I'm a bank official now, and a
financier ... red in the middle; and you, Luba, for some reason or
other, look better, there's no doubt about it.

LUBOV Yes. My nerves are better, it's true. [She puts on her coat
and hat] I sleep well. Take my luggage out, Yasha. It's time. [To
ANYA] My little girl, we'll soon see each other again. ... I'm off
to Paris. I'll live there on the money your grandmother from
Yaroslav sent along to buy the estate--bless her!--though it won't
last long.

ANYA. You'll come back soon, soon, mother, won't you? I'll get
ready, and pass the exam at the Higher School, and then I'll work
and help you. We'll read all sorts of books to one another, won't
we? [Kisses her mother's hands] We'll read in the autumn evenings;
we'll read many books, and a beautiful new world will open up
before us. ... [Thoughtfully] You'll come, mother. ...

LUBOV. I'll come, my darling. [Embraces her.]

[Enter LOPAKHIN. CHARLOTTA is singing to herself.]

GAEV. Charlotta is happy; she sings!

CHARLOTTA. [Takes a bundle, looking like a wrapped-up baby] My
little baby, bye-bye. [The baby seems to answer, "Oua! Oua!"] Hush,
my nice little boy. ["Oua! Oua!"] I'm so sorry for you! [Throws the
bundle back] So please find me a new place. I can't go on like

LOPAKHIN. We'll find one, Charlotta Ivanovna, don't you be afraid.

GAEV. Everybody's leaving us. Varya's going away ... we've suddenly
become unnecessary.

CHARLOTTA. I've nowhere to live in town. I must go away. [Hums]
Never mind.

[Enter PISCHIN.]

LOPAKHIN. Nature's marvel!

PISCHIN. [Puffing] Oh, let me get my breath back. ... I'm fagged
out ... My most honoured, give me some water. ...

GAEV. Come for money, what? I'm your humble servant, and I'm going out
of the way of temptation. [Exit.]

PISCHIN. I haven't been here for ever so long ... dear madam. [To
LOPAKHIN] You here? Glad to see you ... man of immense brain ...
take this ... take it. ... [Gives LOPAKHIN money] Four hundred
roubles. ... That leaves 840. ...

LOPAKHIN. [Shrugs his shoulders in surprise] As if I were dreaming.
Where did you get this from?

PISCHIN. Stop ... it's hot. ... A most unexpected thing happened.
Some Englishmen came along and found some white clay on my land. ...
[To LUBOV ANDREYEVNA] And here's four hundred for you ... beautiful
lady. ... [Gives her money] Give you the rest later. ... [Drinks
water] Just now a young man in the train was saying that some great
philosopher advises us all to jump off roofs. "Jump!" he says, and
that's all. [Astonished] To think of that, now! More water!

LOPAKHIN. Who were these Englishmen?

PISCHIN. I've leased off the land with the clay to them for twenty-four
years. ... Now, excuse me, I've no time. ... I must run off. ... I
must go to Znoikov and to Kardamonov ... I owe them all money. ...
[Drinks] Good-bye. I'll come in on Thursday.

LUBOV. We're just off to town, and to-morrow I go abroad.

PISCHIN. [Agitated] What? Why to town? I see furniture ... trunks. ...
Well, never mind. [Crying] Never mind. These Englishmen are men of
immense intellect. ... Never mind. ... Be happy. ... God will help
you. ... Never mind. ... Everything in this world comes to an end. ...
[Kisses LUBOV ANDREYEVNA'S hand] And if you should happen to hear
that my end has come, just remember this old ... horse and say:
"There was one such and such a Simeonov-Pischin, God bless his
soul. ..." Wonderful weather ... yes. ... [Exit deeply moved, but
returns at once and says in the door] Dashenka sent her love!

LUBOV. Now we can go. I've two anxieties, though. The first is poor
Fiers [Looks at her watch] We've still five minutes. ...

ANYA. Mother, Fiers has already been sent to the hospital. Yasha
sent him off this morning.

LUBOV. The second is Varya. She's used to getting up early and to
work, and now she's no work to do she's like a fish out of water.
She's grown thin and pale, and she cries, poor thing. ... [Pause]
You know very well, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, that I used to hope to
marry her to you, and I suppose you are going to marry somebody?
[Whispers to ANYA, who nods to CHARLOTTA, and they both go out] She
loves you, she's your sort, and I don't understand, I really don't,
why you seem to be keeping away from each other. I don't

LOPAKHIN. To tell the truth, I don't understand it myself. It's all
so strange. ... If there's still time, I'll be ready at once ...
Let's get it over, once and for all; I don't feel as if I could
ever propose to her without you.

LUBOV. Excellent. It'll only take a minute. I'll call her.

LOPAKHIN. The champagne's very appropriate. [Looking at the
tumblers] They're empty, somebody's already drunk them. [YASHA
coughs] I call that licking it up. ...

LUBOV. [Animated] Excellent. We'll go out. Yasha, allez. I'll call
her in. ... [At the door] Varya, leave that and come here. Come!
[Exit with YASHA.]

LOPAKHIN. [Looks at his watch] Yes. ... [Pause.]

[There is a restrained laugh behind the door, a whisper, then VARYA
comes in.]

VARYA. [Looking at the luggage in silence] I can't seem to find it. ...

LOPAKHIN. What are you looking for?

VARYA. I packed it myself and I don't remember. [Pause.]

LOPAKHIN. Where are you going to now, Barbara Mihailovna?

VARYA. I? To the Ragulins. ... I've got an agreement to go and look
after their house ... as housekeeper or something.

LOPAKHIN. Is that at Yashnevo? It's about fifty miles. [Pause] So
life in this house is finished now. ...

VARYA. [Looking at the luggage] Where is it? ... perhaps I've put
it away in the trunk. ... Yes, there'll be no more life in this
house. ...

LOPAKHIN. And I'm off to Kharkov at once ... by this train. I've a
lot of business on hand. I'm leaving Epikhodov here ... I've taken
him on.

VARYA. Well, well!

LOPAKHIN. Last year at this time the snow was already falling, if
you remember, and now it's nice and sunny. Only it's rather cold. ...
There's three degrees of frost.

VARYA. I didn't look. [Pause] And our thermometer's broken. ...

VOICE AT THE DOOR. Ermolai Alexeyevitch!

LOPAKHIN. [As if he has long been waiting to be called] This
minute. [Exit quickly.]

[VARYA, sitting on the floor, puts her face on a bundle of clothes
and weeps gently. The door opens. LUBOV ANDREYEVNA enters

LUBOV. Well? [Pause] We must go.

VARYA. [Not crying now, wipes her eyes] Yes, it's quite time,
little mother. I'll get to the Ragulins to-day, if I don't miss the
train. ...

LUBOV. [At the door] Anya, put on your things. [Enter ANYA, then
GAEV, CHARLOTTA IVANOVNA. GAEV wears a warm overcoat with a cape. A
servant and drivers come in. EPIKHODOV bustles around the luggage]
Now we can go away.

ANYA. [Joyfully] Away!

GAEV. My friends, my dear friends! Can I be silent, in leaving this
house for evermore?--can I restrain myself, in saying farewell,
from expressing those feelings which now fill my whole being ...?

ANYA. [Imploringly] Uncle!

VARYA. Uncle, you shouldn't!

GAEV. [Stupidly] Double the red into the middle. ... I'll be quiet.


TROFIMOV. Well, it's time to be off.

LOPAKHIN. Epikhodov, my coat!

LUBOV. I'll sit here one more minute. It's as if I'd never really
noticed what the walls and ceilings of this house were like, and
now I look at them greedily, with such tender love. ...

GAEV. I remember, when I was six years old, on Trinity Sunday, I
sat at this window and looked and saw my father going to church. ...

LUBOV. Have all the things been taken away?

LOPAKHIN. Yes, all, I think. [To EPIKHODOV, putting on his coat]
You see that everything's quite straight, Epikhodov.

EPIKHODOV. [Hoarsely] You may depend upon me, Ermolai Alexeyevitch!

LOPAKHIN. What's the matter with your voice?

EPIKHODOV. I swallowed something just now; I was having a drink of

YASHA. [Suspiciously] What manners. ...

LUBOV. We go away, and not a soul remains behind.

LOPAKHIN. Till the spring.

VARYA. [Drags an umbrella out of a bundle, and seems to be waving
it about. LOPAKHIN appears to be frightened] What are you doing? ...
I never thought ...

TROFIMOV. Come along, let's take our seats ... it's time! The train
will be in directly.

VARYA. Peter, here they are, your goloshes, by that trunk. [In
tears] And how old and dirty they are. ...

TROFIMOV. [Putting them on] Come on!

GAEV. [Deeply moved, nearly crying] The train ... the station. ...
Cross in the middle, a white double in the corner. ...

LUBOV. Let's go!

LOPAKHIN. Are you all here? There's nobody else? [Locks the
side-door on the left] There's a lot of things in there. I must
lock them up. Come!

ANYA. Good-bye, home! Good-bye, old life!

TROFIMOV. Welcome, new life! [Exit with ANYA.]

[VARYA looks round the room and goes out slowly. YASHA and
CHARLOTTA, with her little dog, go out.]

LOPAKHIN. Till the spring, then! Come on ... till we meet again!

[LUBOV ANDREYEVNA and GAEV are left alone. They might almost have
been waiting for that. They fall into each other's arms and sob
restrainedly and quietly, fearing that somebody might hear them.]

GAEV. [In despair] My sister, my sister. ...

LUBOV. My dear, my gentle, beautiful orchard! My life, my youth, my
happiness, good-bye! Good-bye!

ANYA'S VOICE. [Gaily] Mother!

TROFIMOV'S VOICE. [Gaily, excited] Coo-ee!

LUBOV. To look at the walls and the windows for the last time. ...
My dead mother used to like to walk about this room. ...

GAEV. My sister, my sister!



LUBOV. We're coming! [They go out.]

[The stage is empty. The sound of keys being turned in the locks is
heard, and then the noise of the carriages going away. It is quiet.
Then the sound of an axe against the trees is heard in the silence
sadly and by itself. Steps are heard. FIERS comes in from the door
on the right. He is dressed as usual, in a short jacket and white
waistcoat; slippers on his feet. He is ill. He goes to the door and
tries the handle.]

FIERS. It's locked. They've gone away. [Sits on a sofa] They've
forgotten about me. ... Never mind, I'll sit here. ... And Leonid
Andreyevitch will have gone in a light overcoat instead of putting
on his fur coat. ... [Sighs anxiously] I didn't see. ... Oh, these
young people! [Mumbles something that cannot be understood] Life's
gone on as if I'd never lived. [Lying down] I'll lie down. ...
You've no strength left in you, nothing left at all. ... Oh, you ...

[He lies without moving. The distant sound is heard, as if from
the sky, of a breaking string, dying away sadly. Silence follows
it, and only the sound is heard, some way away in the orchard, of
the axe falling on the trees.]



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