By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Plays
Author: Ostrovsky, Aleksandr Nicolaevich, 1823-1886
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Plays" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.









The following persons have co-operated in preparing the present volume:
Leonard Bacon (verses in "Poverty Is No Crime"), Florence Noyes
(suggestions on the style of all the plays), George Rapall Noyes
(introduction, revision of the translation, and suggestions on the style
of all the plays), Jane W. Robertson ("Poverty Is No Crime"), Minnie Eline
Sadicoff ("Sin and Sorrow Are Common to All"), John Laurence Seymour
("It's a Family Affair--We'll Settle It Ourselves" and "A Protégée of the
Mistress"). The system of transliteration for Russian names used in the
book is with very small variations that recommended for "popular" use by
the School of Russian Studies in the University of Liverpool.








ALEXANDER NIKOLAYEVICH Ostróvsky (1823-86) is the great Russian dramatist
of the central decades of the nineteenth century, of the years when the
realistic school was all-powerful in Russian literature, of the period when
Turgénev, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy created a literature of prose fiction
that has had no superior in the world's history. His work in the drama
takes its place beside theirs in the novel. Obviously inferior as it is in
certain ways, it yet sheds light on an important side of Russian life that
they left practically untouched. Turgénev and Tolstoy were gentlemen by
birth, and wrote of the fortunes of the Russian nobility or of the peasants
whose villages bordered on the nobles' estates. Dostoyevsky, though not of
this landed-proprietor school, still dealt with the nobility, albeit with
its waifs and strays. None of these masters more than touched the Russian
merchants, that homespun moneyed class, crude and coarse, grasping and
mean, without the idealism of their educated neighbors in the cities or the
homely charm of the peasants from whom they themselves sprang, yet gifted
with a rough force and determination not often found among the cultivated
aristocracy. This was the field that Ostróvsky made peculiarly his own.

With this merchant class Ostróvsky was familiar from his childhood. Born in
1823, he was the son of a lawyer doing business among the Moscow tradesmen.
After finishing his course at the gymnasium and spending three years at the
University of Moscow, he entered the civil service in 1843 as an employee
of the Court of Conscience in Moscow, from which he transferred two years
later to the Court of Commerce, where he continued until he was discharged
from the service in 1851. Hence both by his home life and by his
professional training he was brought into contact with types such as
Bolshóv and Rizpolozhensky in "It's a Family Affair--We'll Settle It

As a boy of seventeen Ostróvsky had already developed a passion for the
theatre. His literary career began in the year 1847, when he read to
a group of Moscow men of letters his first experiments in dramatic
composition. In this same year he printed one scene of "A Family Affair,"
which appeared in complete form three years later, in 1850, and established
its author's reputation as a dramatist of undoubted talent. Unfortunately,
by its mordant but true picture of commercial morals, it aroused against
him the most bitter feelings among the Moscow merchants. Discussion of the
play in the press was prohibited, and representation of it on the stage
was out of the question. It was reprinted only in 1859, and then, at the
instance of the censorship, in an altered form, in which a police
officer appears at the end of the play as a _deus ex machina_, arrests
Podkhalyúzin, and announces that he will be sent to Siberia. In this
mangled version the play was acted in 1861; in its original text it did not
appear on the stage until 1881. Besides all this, the drama was the cause
of the dismissal of Ostróvsky from the civil service, in 1851. The whole
episode illustrates the difficulties under which the great writers of
Russia have constantly labored under a despotic government.

Beginning with 1852 Ostróvsky gave his whole strength to literary work. He
is exceptional among Russian authors in devoting himself almost exclusively
to the theatre. The latest edition of his works contains forty-eight pieces
written entirely by him, and six produced in collaboration with other
authors. It omits his translations from foreign dramatists, which were of
considerable importance, including, for example, a version of Shakespeare's
"Taming of the Shrew."

The plays of Ostróvsky are of varied character, including dramatic
chronicles based on early Russian history, and a fairy drama, "Little
Snowdrop." His real strength lay, however, in the drama of manners, giving
realistic pictures of Russian life among the Russian city classes and the
minor nobility. Here he was recognized, from the time of the appearance on
the stage of his first pieces, in 1853 and the following years, as without
a rival among Russian authors for the theatre. Of this realistic drama the
present volume gives four characteristic examples.

The tone of "Poverty Is No Crime" (1854), written only four years after "A
Family Affair," is in sharp contrast with that of its predecessor. In the
earlier play Ostróvsky had adopted a satiric tone that proved him a worthy
disciple of Gógol, the great founder of Russian realism. Not one lovable
character appears in that gloomy picture of merchant life in Moscow; even
the old mother repels us by her stupidity more than she attracts us by her
kindliness. No ray of light penetrates the "realm of darkness"--to borrow
a famous phrase from a Russian critic--conjured up before us by the young
dramatist. In "Poverty Is No Crime" we see the other side of the medal.
Ostróvsky had now been affected by the Slavophile school of writers and
thinkers, who found in the traditions of Russian society treasures of
kindliness and love that they contrasted with the superficial glitter of
Western civilization. Life in Russia is varied as elsewhere, and Ostróvsky
could change his tone without doing violence to realistic truth. The
tradesmen had not wholly lost the patriarchal charm of their peasant
fathers. A poor apprentice is the hero of "Poverty Is No Crime," and a
wealthy manufacturer the villain of the piece. Good-heartedness is the
touchstone by which Ostróvsky tries character, and this may be hidden
beneath even a drunken and degraded exterior. The scapegrace, Lyubím
Tortsóv, has a sound Russian soul, and at the end of the play rouses his
hard, grasping brother, who has been infatuated by a passion for aping
foreign fashions, to his native Russian worth.

Just as "Poverty Is No Crime" shows the influence of the Slavophile
movement, "A Protégée of the Mistress" (1859) was inspired by the great
liberal movement that bore fruit in the emancipation of the serfs in 1861.
Ostróvsky here departed from town to a typical country manor, and produced
a work kindred in spirit to Turgénev's "Sportsman's Sketches," or "Mumu."
In a short play, instinct with simple poetry, he shows the suffering
brought about by serfdom: the petty tyranny of the landed proprietor, which
is the more galling because it is practised with a full conviction of
virtue on the part of the tyrant; and the crushed natures of the human
cattle under his charge.

     The master grim, the lowly serf that tills his lands;
     With lordly pride the first sends forth commands,
     The second cringes like a slave.

Despite the unvarying success of his dramas on the stage, Ostróvsky for a
long time derived little financial benefit from them. Discouragement and
overwork wrecked his health, and were undoubtedly responsible for the
gloomy tone of a series of plays written in the years following 1860, of
which "Sin and Sorrow Are Common to All" (1863) is a typical example. Here
the dramatist sketches a tragic incident arising from the conflict of two
social classes, the petty tradesmen and the nobility. From the coarse
environment of the first emerge honest, upright natures like Krasnóv; from
the superficial, dawdling culture of the second come weak-willed triflers
like Babáyev. The sordid plot sweeps on to its inevitable conclusion with
true tragic force.

Towards the end of his life Ostróvsky gained the material prosperity that
was his due. "There was no theatre in Russia in which his plays were not
acted" (Skabichévsky). From 1874 to his death he was the president of the
Society of Russian Dramatic Authors. In 1885 he received the important
post of artistic director of the Moscow government theatres; the harassing
duties of the position proved too severe for his weak constitution, and he
passed away in the next year.

As a dramatist, Ostróvsky is above all else a realist; no more thoroughly
natural dramas than his were ever composed. Yet as a master of realistic
technique he must not be compared with Ibsen, or even with many less
noted men among modern dramatists. His plays have not the neat, concise
construction that we prize to-day. Pages of dialogue sometimes serve no
purpose except to make a trifle clearer the character of the actors, or
perhaps slightly to heighten the impression of commonplace reality. Even
in "Sin and Sorrow" and "A Protégée" whole passages merely illustrate the
background against which the plot is set rather than help forward the
action itself. Many plays, such as "A Family Affair," end with relatively
unimportant pieces of dialogue. Of others we are left to guess even the
conclusion of the main action: will Nádya in "A Protégée" submit to her
degrading fate, or will she seek refuge in the pond?

Ostróvsky rarely uses the drama to treat of great moral or social problems.
He is not a revolutionary thinker or an opponent of existing society; his
ideal, like that of his predecessor Gógol, is of honesty, kindliness,
generosity, and loyalty in a broad, general way to the traditions of the
past. He attacks serfdom not as an isolated leader of a forlorn hope, but
as an adherent of a great party of moderate reformers.

Thus Ostróvsky's strength lies in a sedate, rather commonplace realism. One
of the most national of authors, he loses much in translation.[1] His style
is racy, smacking of the street or the counting-house; he is one of the
greatest masters of the Russian vernacular. To translate his Moscow slang
into the equivalent dialect of New York would be merely to transfer
Broadway associations to the Ilyínka. A translator can only strive to
be colloquial and familiar, giving up the effort to render the varying
atmosphere of the different plays. And Ostróvsky's characters are as
natural as his language. Pig-headed merchants; apprentices, knavish or
honest as the case may be; young girls with a touch of poetry in their
natures, who sober down into kindly housewives; tyrannical serf-owners and
weak-willed sons of noble families: such is the material of which he builds
his entertaining, wholesome, mildly thoughtful dramas. Men and women live
and love, trade and cheat in Ostróvsky as they do in the world around us.
Now and then a murder or a suicide appears in his pages as it does in those
of the daily papers, but hardly more frequently. In him we can study the
life of Russia as he knew it, crude and coarse and at times cruel, yet full
of homely virtue and aspiration. Of his complex panorama the present volume
gives a brief glimpse.

[Footnote 1: Ostróvsky, it may be remarked, has been singularly neglected
by translators from the Russian. The only previous versions of complete
plays in English known to the present writer are "The Storm." by
Constance Garnett (London and Chicago, 1899, and since reprinted), and
"Incompatibility of Temper" and "A Domestic Picture" (in "The Humour of
Russia," by E.L. Voynich, London and New York, 1895).]




MADAM ULANBÉKOV,[1] _an old woman of nearly sixty, tall, thin, with a large
nose, and thick, black eyebrows; of an Eastern type of face, with a small
mustache. She is powdered and rouged, and dressed richly in black. She is
owner of two thousand serfs._

[Footnote 1: The name hints at a Circassian origin and a tyrannical
disposition. Ostróvsky frequently gives to the persons in his plays names
that suggest their characteristics.]

LEONÍD, _her son, eighteen years old, very handsome, resembling his mother
slightly. Wears summer dress. Is studying in Petersburg._

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA, _a toady of_ MADAM ULANBÉKOV'S, _an old maid of
forty. Scanty hair, parted slantingly, combed high, and held by a large
comb. She is continually smiling with a wily expression, and she suffers
from toothache; about her throat is a yellow shawl fastened by a brooch._

POTÁPYCH, _the old steward. Tie and vest, white; coat black. Has an air of

NADÉZHDA[2] (_called_ NÁDYA), _seventeen years old, favorite protégée of_
MADAM ULANBÉKOV; _dressed like a young lady._

[Footnote 2: Hope.]

GAVRÍLOVNA, _the housekeeper; an elderly woman, plump, with an open

GRÍSHA, _a boy of nineteen, a favorite of the mistress, dandified in dress,
wearing a watch with a gold chain. He is handsome, curly-headed, with a
foolish expression._

NEGLIGÉNTOV, _a clerk in a government office; a very disreputable young

LÍZA, _a housemaid, not bad-looking, but very stout and snub-nosed; in a
white dress, of which the bodice is short and ill-fitting. About her neck
is a little red kerchief; her hair is very much pomaded._

_A peasant girl, a footman, and a housemaid: mute personages._

_The action takes place in the springtime, at the suburban estate of_ MADAM



_Part of a densely grown garden; on the right benches; at the back a rail
fence, separating the garden from a field._


_Enter_ NÁDYA _and_ LÍZA

NÁDYA. No, Líza, don't say that: what comparison could there be between
country and city life!

LÍZA. What is there so specially fine about city life?

NÁDYA. Well, everything is different there; the people themselves, and
even the whole social order are entirely different. [_She sits down on a
bench_.] When I was in Petersburg with the mistress, one had only to take
a look at the sort of people who came to see us, and at the way our rooms
were decorated; besides, the mistress took me with her everywhere; we even
went on the steamer to Peterhof, and to Tsarskoe Selo.

LÍZA. That was pretty fine, I suppose.

NÁDYA. Yes indeed, it was so splendid that words can't describe it!
Because, no matter how much I may tell you about it, if you haven't seen it
yourself, you'll never understand. And when a young lady, the mistress's
niece, was visiting us, I used to chat with her the whole evening, and
sometimes we even sat through the night.

LÍZA. What in the world did you talk about with her?

NÁDYA. Well, naturally, for the most part about the ways of high society,
about her dancing partners, and about the officers of the guard. And as she
was often at balls, she told me what they talked about there, and whom she
had liked best. Only how fine those young ladies are!

LÍZA. What do you mean?

NÁDYA. They're very gay. And where did they learn all that? Afterwards we
lived a whole winter in Moscow. Seeing all this, my dear, you try to act
like a born lady yourself. Your very manners change, and you try to have a
way of talking of your own.

LÍZA. But why should we try to be fine ladies? Much good it does!

NÁDYA. Much good, you say? Well, you see the ladies promised to marry me
off, so I am trying to educate myself, so that no one'll be ashamed to take
me. You know what sort of wives our officials have; well, what a lot they
are! And I understand life and society ten times better than they do. Now I
have just one hope: to marry a good man, so I may be the mistress of my own
household. You just watch then how I'll manage the house; it will be no
worse at my house than at any fine lady's.

LÍZA. God grant your wish! But do you notice how the young master is
running after you?

NÁDYA. Much good it'll do him! Of course, he's a pretty fellow, you might
even say, a beauty; only he has nothing to expect from me; because I am
decidedly not of that sort; and on the other hand, I'm trying now in every
way that there may be no scandal of any sort about me. I have but one thing
in mind: to get married.

LÍZA. Even married life is sometimes no joy! You may get such a husband
that ... God help you!

NÁDYA. What a joy it would be to me to marry a really fine man! I, thank
God, am able to distinguish between people: who is good, who bad. That's
easy to see at once from their manners and conversation. But the mistress
is so unreasonable in holding us in so strictly, and in keeping everlasting
watch over us! Indeed, it's insulting to me! I'm a girl that knows how to
take care of herself without any watching.

LÍZA. It looks as if the master were coming.

NÁDYA. Then let's go. [_They rise and go out._

LEONÍD _comes in with a gun._



LEONÍD. Wait a bit! Hey, you, where are you going? Why are they always
running away from me? You can't catch them anyhow! [_He stands musing.

A GIRL _sings behind the rail fence:_

    "No man may hope to flee the sting
       Of cruel affliction's pain;
     New love within the heart may sing--
       Regret still in its train."

LEONÍD. [_Running up to the fence_] What a pretty girl you are!

GIRL. Pretty, but not yours!

LEONÍD. Come here!

GIRL. Where?

LEONÍD. To me in the garden.

GIRL. Why go to you?

LEONÍD. I'll go to town and buy you earrings.

GIRL. You're only a kid!

_She laughs loudly and goes out._ LEONÍD _stands with bowed head musing._
POTÁPYCH _enters in hunting-dress, with a gun._

POTÁPYCH. One can't keep up with you, sir; you have young legs.

LEONÍD. [_All the while lost in thought_] All this, Potápych, will be mine.

POTÁPYCH. All yours, sir, and we shall all be yours.... Just as we served
the old master, so we must serve you.... Because you're of the same
blood.... That's the right way. Of course, may God prolong your dear
mamma's days....

LEONÍD. Then I shan't enter the service, Potápych; I shall come directly to
the country, and here I shall live.

POTÁPYCH. You must enter the service, sir.

LEONÍD. What's that you say? Much I must! They'll make me a copying clerk!
[_He sits down upon a bench._

POTÁPYCH. No, sir, why should you work yourself? That's not the way to do
things! They'll find a position for you--of the most gentlemanly, delicate
sort; your clerks will work, but you'll be their chief, over all of them.
And promotions will come to you of themselves.

LEONÍD. Perhaps they will make me vice-governor, or elect me marshal of the

POTÁPYCH. It's not improbable.

LEONÍD. Well, and when I'm vice-governor, shall you be afraid of me?

POTÁPYCH. Why should I be afraid? Let others cringe, but for us it's all
the same. You are our master: that's honor enough for us.

LEONÍD. [_Not hearing_] Tell me, Potápych, have we many pretty girls here?

POTÁPYCH. Why, really, sir, if you think it over, why shouldn't there be
girls? There are some on the estate, and among the house servants; only it
must be said that in these matters the household is very strictly run. Our
mistress, owing to her strict life and her piety, looks after that very
carefully. Now just take this: she herself marries off the protégées and
housemaids whom she likes. If a man pleases her, she marries the girl off
to him, and even gives her a dowry, not a big one--needless to say. There
are always two or three protégées on the place. The mistress takes a little
girl from some one or other and brings her up; and when she is seventeen
or eighteen years old, then, without any talk, she marries her off to some
clerk or townsman, just as she takes a notion, and sometimes even to a
nobleman. Ah, yes, sir! Only what an existence for these protégées, sir!

LEONÍD. But why?

POTÁPYCH. They have a hard time. The lady says: "I have found you a
prospective husband, and now," she says, "the wedding will be on such and
such a day, and that's an end to it; and don't one of you dare to argue
about it!" It's a case of get along with you to the man you're told to.
Because, sir, I reason this way: who wants to see disobedience in a person
he's brought up? And sometimes it happens that the bride doesn't like the
groom, nor the groom the bride: then the lady falls into a great rage. She
even goes out of her head. She took a notion to marry one protégée to a
petty shopkeeper in town; but he, an unpolished individual, was going to
resist. "The bride doesn't please me," he said, "and, besides, I don't want
to get married yet." So the mistress complained at once to the town bailiff
and to the priest: well, they brought the blockhead round.

LEONÍD. You don't say.

POTÁPYCH. Yes, sir. And even if the mistress sees a girl at one of her
acquaintances', she immediately looks up a husband for her. Our mistress
reasons this way: that they are stupid; that if she doesn't look after them
closely now, they'll just waste their life and never amount to anything.
That's the way, sir. Some people, because of their stupidity, hide girls
from the mistress, so that she may never set eyes on them; because if she
does, it's all up with the girls.

LEONÍD. And so she treats other people's girls the same way?

POTÁPYCH. Other people's, too. She extends her care to everybody. She has
such a kind heart that she worries about everybody. She even gets angry if
they do anything without her permission. And the way she looks after her
protégées is just a wonder. She dresses them as if they were her own
daughters. Sometimes she has them eat with her; and she doesn't make them
do any work. "Let everybody look," says the mistress, "and see how my
protégées live; I want every one to envy them," she says.

LEONÍD. Well, now, that's fine, Potápych.

POTÁPYCH. And what a touching little sermon she reads them when they're
married! "You," she says, "have lived with me in wealth and luxury, and
have had nothing to do; now you are marrying a poor man, and will live your
life in poverty, and will work, and will do your duty. And now forget," she
says, "how you lived here, because not for you I did all this; I was merely
diverting myself, but you must never even think of such a life; always
remember your insignificance, and of what station you are." And all this so
feelingly that there are tears in her own eyes.

LEONÍD. Well, now, that's fine.

POTÁPYCH. I don't know how to describe it, sir. Somehow they all get tired
of married life later; they mostly pine away.

LEONÍD. Why do they pine away, Potápych?

POTÁPYCH. Must be they don't like it, if they pine away.

LEONÍD. That's queer.

POTÁPYCH. The husbands mostly turn out ruffians.

LEONÍD. Is that so?

POTÁPYCH. Everybody hopes to get one of our protégées, because the mistress
right away becomes his patroness. Now in the case of these she marries to
government clerks, there's a good living for the husband; because if they
want to drive him out of the court, or have done so, he goes at once to
our mistress with a complaint, and she's a regular bulwark for him; she'll
bother the governor himself. And then the government clerk can get drunk or
anything else, and not be afraid of anybody, unless he is insubordinate or
steals a lot....

LEONÍD. But, say, Potápych, why is it that the girls run away from me?

POTÁPYCH. How can they help running? They must run, sir!

LEONÍD. Why must they?

POTÁPYCH. Hm! Why? Why, because, as you are still under age, the mistress
wants to watch over you as she ought to; well, and she watches over them,

LEONÍD. She watches us, ha, ha, ha!

POTÁPYCH. Yes, sir. That's the truth! She was talking about that. You're a
child, just like a dove, but, well--the girls are foolish. [_Silence_] What
next, sir? It's your mamma's business to be strict, because she is a lady.
But why should you mind her! You ought to act for yourself, as all young
gentlemen do. You don't have to suffer because she's strict. Why should you
let others get ahead of you? That'd disgrace you.

LEONÍD. Well, well, but I don't know how to talk to the girls.

POTÁPYCH. But what's the use of talking to them a long time? What about?
What kind of sciences would you talk about with them? Much they understand
such stuff! You're just the master, and that's all.

LEONÍD. [_Glances to one side_] Who's this coming? That's NÁDYA, evidently.
Ah, Potápych, how pretty she is!

POTÁPYCH. She is related to me, sir, my niece. Her father was set free by
the late master; he was employed in a confectioner's in Moscow. When her
mother died, her mistress took and brought her up, and is awful fond of
her. And because her father is dead, why, now, she's an orphan. She's a
good girl.

LEONÍD. Looks as if they were coming this way.

POTÁPYCH. Well, let 'em.

GAVRÍLOVNA _and_ NÁDYA _enter_.


_The same_, GAVRÍLOVNA _and_ NÁDYA

GAVRÍLOVNA. How do you do, good master?

LEONÍD. [_Bows_] How do you do?

GAVRÍLOVNA. Well, master, I suppose you're bored in the country?

LEONÍD. No, not at all.

GAVRÍLOVNA. What, not bored yet! Why, you see it's like a monastery here;
they look after you with a hundred eyes. Well, as for you, it goes without
saying, you're a young gentleman, you ought to have some amusement; but you
can't. It's no great joy to shoot ducks!                    [_She laughs._

LEONÍD. [_Going up to_ GAVRÍLOVNA] Yes, yes, Gavrílovna.

NÁDYA. [_To_ GAVRÍLOVNA] Let's go.

GAVRÍLOVNA. Where do you want to go? Now, seeing that the mistress isn't
at home, you ought to have a little fun with the young master. That's what
young folks need. And what a clever girl she is, master! In talking, and in

NÁDYA. Come, what's the use!

GAVRÍLOVNA. Well, there's no harm in it! I was young once. I didn't run
away from the gentlemen, and you see they didn't eat me. Perhaps even he
won't bite you. Quit playing the prude, and stay here! But I'm going to get
the tea ready! Good-by, good master! [_She goes out._

LEONÍD. Why did you not wish to remain with me?

POTÁPYCH. What's this, sir! You talk to her as if she were a young lady!
Call her Nádya!

LEONÍD. What are you afraid of, Nádya?

NÁDYA _is silent._

POTÁPYCH. Talk! What are you keeping still for? And I'm going, sir; I must
get dressed for tea, too. [_He goes out._


LEONÍD, NÁDYA, _and then_ LÍZA

NÁDYA. Of course I'm a girl of humble position, but, indeed, even we do not
want anybody to speak evil of us. Pray consider yourself, after such talk,
who would marry me?

LEONÍD. Are you going to get married?

NÁDYA. Yes, sir. Every girl hopes to get married some time.

LEONÍD. But have you a suitor?

NÁDYA. Not yet, sir.

LEONÍD. [_Timidly_] If you have no suitor, then, maybe you're in love with

NÁDYA. You want to know a lot! Well, no, I needn't fib about it, I'm not in
love with anybody, sir.

LEONÍD. [_With great joy_] Then love me!

NÁDYA. It's impossible to force the heart, sir.

LEONÍD. Why? Don't you like me?

NÁDYA. Well, how could I help liking you? But I'm not your equal! What sort
of love is that? Clean ruin! Here comes Líza running after me, I suppose.
Good-by. Good luck to you! [_She goes away._

LÍZA _comes in._

LÍZA. Master, if you please! Your mamma has come.


LÍZA. [_Approaching_] What is it, please?

LEONÍD. [_He embraces_ LÍZA; _she trembles with pleasure_] Why won't Nádya
love me?

LÍZA. [_Affectedly_] What are you talking about, master! Girls of our sort
must look out for themselves!

LEONÍD. Look out for yourselves how?

LÍZA. [_Looks him in the face and smiles_] Why, everybody knows. What are
you talking like a child for?

LEONÍD. [_Sadly_] What shall I do now? Indeed, I don't know. They all run
away from me.

LÍZA. But don't lose courage; just make love a little bit. Heavens, our
hearts aren't of stone!

LEONÍD. But see here! I asked her: she said she didn't love me.

LÍZA. Well, if you aren't a queer one! Whoever asked girls right out
whether they were in love or not! Even if one of us girls was in love, she
wouldn't say so.


LÍZA. Because she's bashful. Only let me go, sir! [_She gets free_] There
goes the old fury!

LEONÍD. Come out here into the garden after supper, when mamma goes to bed.

LÍZA. You don't lose any time!

LEONÍD. Please come.

LÍZA. Well, we'll see later. [VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA _enters_] Master,
please come to tea, your mamma is waiting.

LEONÍD. All right, I'm coming.



VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. I saw you, my dear, I saw you.

LÍZA. There was nothing to see. [_She goes out._

LEONÍD. Well, what did you see? What are you going to complain about? I
shall simply say that you lie. Whom are they going to believe quicker, you
or me?

[_He makes a grimace and goes out._

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. There, that's the way they all treat me. I can't
stand it! My heart is just sick. I'm a martyr in this world. [_She plucks
a flower viciously and pulls off its petals_] I believe that if I had the
power I'd do this to all of you! I'd do this to all of you! I'd do this to
all of you! You just wait, you young scamp! I'll catch you. My heart boils,
it boils, it boils over! And now I must smirk before the mistress as if I
were a fool. What a life! What a life! The sinners in hell do not suffer as
I suffer in this house! [_She goes out._


_A parlor. Rear centre, a door opening into the garden. Doors at the sides;
in the centre a round table._


_From a side door there enter a footman with a samovar and a maid with a
tea-service; they place both on the table and go out._ GAVRÍLOVNA _and_
POTÁPYCH _enter after them_. GAVRÍLOVNA _prepares the tea_. VASILÍSA
PEREGRÍNOVNA _enters from the garden_.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. My dear, you always serve me only water.

GAVRÍLOVNA. It isn't good for you to drink strong tea, madam.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. It's not your business to worry about me!

GAVRÍLOVNA. It dries up the chest, and you're all dried up as it is.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. What a life! What a life! I am not dried up from
tea-drinking, my dear, but from the insults of the world.

GAVRÍLOVNA. Insults! You insult everybody yourself, as if something were
stirring you up!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Don't you dare talk to me like that. Just remember
who you are. I once owned serfs myself; at my place, such people as you
didn't dare peep, they walked the chalk. I didn't let your sort get

GAVRÍLOVNA. That time's gone by. God gives a vicious cow no horns.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Oh, you monsters, wretches! You want me to die. Soon
I shall die, soon; my soul feels its fast approaching end! _Raising her
eyes heavenward_ Shelter me from men, O lid of my coffin! Take me to thee,
moist earth! Then you'll be happy; then you'll be joyful!

POTÁPYCH. We? What's it to us?.... Tend to your own business.

GAVRÍLOVNA. While God is patient with your sins.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. For my sins I have already been tortured here. I
mourn now the sins of others.

GAVRÍLOVNA. It would be better for you not to bother with other people's
sins. Now you're getting ready to die, yet you talk about the sins of
others. Aren't you afraid?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Afraid of what? Why should I be afraid?

GAVRÍLOVNA. Of that little black man with the hook. He's waiting for you
now, I guess.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Where am I? Where am I? My God! Just as if I were in
a slough; monsters....

_From the left side_ MADAM ULANBÉKOV, NÁDYA, LÍZA, _and_ GRÍSHA _come in_.



VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Did our benefactress deign to attend prayer service?

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Yes, I went to vespers in town; to-day is a holiday there.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Did you distribute generous alms among the people

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. No, I only called in Pustaya Street at old man
NEGLIGÉNTOV's. He asked me to set up his nephew; you see, the nephew is my
godson. I'm sorry for these people!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. And you, dear soul, are a benefactress to all. To
all alike, to all! You do favors to people who aren't even worth your
looking at.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. [_Sits down_] Never mind, my dear. One must do good to his

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. But do they feel that good? Can they understand,
heartless creatures, how great is your condescension to them?

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. It's all the same to me, my dear! One must do good for his
own sake, for his own soul. Then I stopped in to see the chief of police,
and asked him to make NEGLIGÉNTOV head-clerk.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. But, my benefactress, is he worthy?

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Don't interrupt! A strange man, our chief of police! I
ask him, and he says: "There's no job!" I say to him: "You evidently don't
understand who's asking you?" "Well!" says he, "do you expect me to drive
out a good man for your godson?" Churlish fellow! However, he promised!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. To think of his hesitating! I cannot understand how
he could even talk back to you. Here his ill-breeding shows up at once.
Maybe NEGLIGÉNTOV, because of his life, isn't worth saying much about;
nevertheless, the chief ought to do everything in the world for him for
your sake, no matter how worthless a scamp NEGLIGÉNTOV might be.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Don't you forget that he's my godson!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. And for that very reason, benefactress, I add: he is
your godson; well, and that's all there is to it; the chief of police ought
not to listen to any kind of gossip. And, besides, what things they do say!
They say that he's utterly worthless, that his uncle got him a court job,
but he won't stay with it. He was gone a whole week, they say, somewhere or
other about three miles down the highroad, near the tavern, fishing. Yes,
and that he is a drunkard beyond his years. But whose business is it? He
must be worthy of it, since you ask it.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. I've never heard that. I've never seen him drunk; but I
spoke to the chief of police on his behalf, because he's my godson. I take
his mother's place.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. I know, benefactress, I know; every one knows that
if you take a notion, you, my benefactress, can make a man out of mud; but
if you don't take a notion to do so, he'll fall into insignificance no
matter how brainy he may be. He's to blame himself, because he didn't
deserve it!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. I'm sure I never did any one any harm.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Harm? You, who because of your angelic heart
wouldn't hurt even a fly! Of course all we mortals are not without sins;
you have done many things; you can't please everybody. Indeed, to tell the
truth, my dear benefactress, there are people enough who complain about

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Who complains about me? What a lie!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. It's impossible for you to know everything, dear
benefactress. And it's not worth while for you, in your gentility, to
trouble yourself about every low-lived person. And though they do complain,
what's the use of paying attention; are they worth your notice? Since you
do so many good deeds for others, God will forgive you, our benefactress.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. All the same, I want to know whom I have offended?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Well, there are some persons, benefactress.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. [_Forcibly_] But who? Speak!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Don't be angry, benefactress! I spoke as I did
because you yourself know how touchy people are nowadays--never satisfied.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. You spoke as you did in order to cause me some

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. May my eyes burst if I did.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Well, I know you. You're never at rest in your own soul
unless you're about to say something mean. You will please be more careful;
otherwise you'll drive me out of patience one of these days; it'll be all
the worse for you. [_Silence_] Serve the tea.

GAVRÍLOVNA. Right away, mistress.

_She pours out two cups_. POTÁPYCH _hands them to_ MADAM ULANBÉKOV _and to_

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Pour Grísha a cup, too; he went with me to-day, and he's
tired out.

GAVRÍLOVNA. Yes, mistress.

[_She pours out a cup and hands it to_ GRÍSHA.

GRÍSHA. Why didn't you put more milk in it? Are you stingy, eh?

GAVRÍLOVNA. [_Adding milk_] As it is, you're fattened on milk, like a calf.

GRÍSHA _takes the cup and goes out through the door into the garden._

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. I have thought of marrying NÁDYA to NEGLIGÉNTOV--with
a decent settlement, of course. You say that he leads a bad life;
consequently we must hasten the wedding. She is a girl of good principles,
she'll hold him back, otherwise he'll ruin himself with his bachelor
habits. Bachelor life is very bad for young men.

NÁDYA. [_To_ LÍZA] Do you hear, Líza? What's this? My God!

LÍZA. You just have to listen, and you can't say a word.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. It's high time she was married, benefactress; why
should she be hanging around here? And now your young son, the angel, has

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Oh, be still! What are you thinking up now? Why, he's only
a child!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. A child, benefactress! Well, there's nothing more to
be said; God gave you a son as a joy and a consolation. And we can never
feast our eyes enough on him. It's just as if the sunshine had come into
our house. So good-natured, so merry, so gentle with every one! But he's
already running after the girls so; he never lets one pass; and they, silly
things, are tickled to death; they fairly snort with delight.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. You're lying. He never has a chance to see the girls
anywhere, I think; all day long they are in their own side of the house,
and, besides, they never go anywhere.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Ah, benefactress, there are no locks to keep a girl
in, once she takes a notion to do something.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. You hear, Gavrílovna! Look after my girls. You know I
won't have any loose conduct. You tell them that so they'll know I mean it.
[_To_ VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA] But no, there can't be anything like that.
You're merely disturbing me with your silly notions. What a dirty tongue
you have! What business had you to chatter? And now I can't get the stuff
out of my head! Keep watch, Gavrílovna!

GAVRÍLOVNA. What's the use of listening to her, mistress?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. But really, benefactress, am I saying anything bad?
Would I dare to think any harm about him, that little angel? Of course
he's still a child, he wants to frisk a little; but here he hasn't any
companions, so he plays with the girls.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. There's poison on your tongue. [_She reflects_. POTÁPYCH
_takes the cups_. GAVRÍLOVNA _fills them and gives them back_. GRÍSHA
_comes in from the garden, gives_ GAVRÍLOVNA _a push, and makes a sign with
his head that she is to pour him another cup_. GAVRÍLOVNA _does so_. GRÍSHA
_goes out_] However, I must marry off Nádya.

NÁDYA. [_Almost weeping_] Mistress, you have shown me such kindness that
I can't even express it. Forgive me for daring to speak to you now; but,
because of your attitude towards me, I expected quite a different favor
from you. In what respect have I displeased you now, mistress, that you
wish to marry me to a drunkard?

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. My dear, it's not for you to argue about that; you're just
a girl. You ought to rely in all things upon me, your patroness. I brought
you up, and I am even bound to establish you in life. And again, you ought
not to forget this: that he is my godson. Rather, you ought to be thankful
for the honor. And now I tell you once and for all: I do not like it when
my girls argue, I simply do not like it, and that's all there is to it.
That's a thing I cannot permit anybody. I've been accustomed, from my
youth, to having people obey my every word; it's time you knew that! And
it's very strange to me, my dear, that you should presume to oppose me. I
see that I have spoiled you; and you at once get conceited. [NÁDYA _weeps._

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Benefactress, one must have feeling for his fellow
creature, one must have feeling. But what kind of feelings can such as they
have, save ingratitude?

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. No one's talking to you! What are you mixing into
everything for? [_To_ NÁDYA, _sternly_] What new tale is this? Still
crying! Let's have no more tears! [NÁDYA _weeps_] I'm talking to you.
[_Rising slightly_] Your tears mean absolutely nothing to me! When I make
up my mind to do a thing, I take a firm stand, and listen to no one on
earth! [_She sits down_] And know, first of all, that your obstinacy will
lead to nothing; you will simply anger me.

NÁDYA. [_Weeping_] I'm an orphan, mistress! Your will must be obeyed!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Well, I should say! Of course it must; because I brought
you up; that's equal to giving you life itself.

LEONÍD _enters._


_The same and_ LEONÍD

LEONÍD. How are you, mamma?

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. How are you, my dear? Where have you been?

LEONÍD. I went hunting with Potápych. I killed two ducks, mamma.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. You don't spare your mother; the idea, going hunting in
your state of health! You'll fall sick again, God forbid! and then you'll
simply kill me! Ah, my God, how I have suffered with that child! [_She

GAVRÍLOVNA. Some tea, master?

LEONÍD. No, thanks.

a very long time. Then he was always sickly, and he grew up puny. How many
tears have I shed over him! Sometimes I would just look at him, and my
tears would flow; no, it will never be my lot to see him in the uniform of
the guardsmen! But it was most distressing of all for me when his father,
owing to the boy's poor health, was unable to send him to a military
school. How much it cost me to renounce the thought that he might become a
soldier! For half a year I was ill. Just imagine to yourself, my dear, when
he finishes his course, they will give him some rank or other, such as they
give to any priest's son clerking in a government office! Isn't it
awful? In the military service, especially in the cavalry, all ranks are
aristocratic; one knows at once that even a junker is from the nobility.
But what is a provincial secretary, or a titular councillor! Any one can
be a titular councillor--even a merchant, a church-school graduate, a
low-class townsman, if you please. You have only to study, then serve
awhile. Why, one of the petty townsmen who is apt at learning will get a
rank higher than his! That's the way of the world! That's the way of the
world! Oh, dear! [_She turns away with a wave of her hand_] I don't like to
pass judgment on anything that is instituted by higher authority, and won't
permit others to do so, but, nevertheless, I don't approve of this system.
I shall always say loudly that it's unjust, unjust.

LEONÍD. Why are Nádya's eyes red from crying?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. She hasn't been flogged for a long time.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. That's none of your business, my dear. Nádya, go away,
you're not needed here.

[NÁDYA _goes out._]

LEONÍD. Well, I know why: you want to marry her off.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Whether I do or not, my dear, is my own business.
Furthermore, I do not like to have any one meddle in my arrangements.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. What a clever young man you are; you know
everything, you get into everything!

LEONÍD. Indeed, mamma dear, I don't mean to meddle in your arrangements.
Only he's a drunkard.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. And that, again, is none of your business. Leave that to
your mother's judgment.

LEONÍD. I'm only sorry for her, mamma.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. All very fine, my dear; but I should like to know from
whom you heard that I'm going to marry NÁDYA. If one of the housemaids

LEONÍD. No, mamma, no.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. How could you find out otherwise? How did that get out?
[_To_ GAVRÍLOVNA] Find out without fail!

LEONÍD. No, indeed, mamma; the man she's going to marry told me.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. What sort of a man?

LEONÍD. I don't know what sort! He said he was a clerk in a government
office.... a peculiar surname: NEGLIGÉNTOV. What a funny fellow he is! He
says he's your godson, and that he's afraid of nobody. He's dancing in the
garden now, drunk.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Drunk, in my house!

LEONÍD. If you want, I'll invite him in. Potápych, call NEGLIGÉNTOV! He
said that you were at his uncle's to-day, and that you promised to give him
Nádya. Already he's reckoning, in anticipation, how much income he will get
in the court, or "savings," as he says. What a funny fellow! He showed me
how they taught him at school. Do you want me to bring him in?




MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Oh, oh, how disgusting! Don't come near me!

NEGLIGÉNTOV. I'm sent from uncle to thank you for your bounty.

LEONÍD. He says, mamma, that they taught him a good deal, only it was
impossible for him to learn anything.

NEGLIGÉNTOV. Impossible; from my birth I had no aptitude for the sciences.
I received from fifty to a hundred birch rods nearly every day, but they
didn't quicken my understanding.

LEONÍD. Oh, mamma, how amusingly he tells about the way he learned! Here,
just listen. Well, and how did you learn Latin?

NEGLIGÉNTOV. Turpissime!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. [_Shrugging her shoulders_] What in the world is that?

NEGLIGÉNTOV. Most abominably.

LEONÍD. No, wait a bit; and what did the teacher do with you?

NEGLIGÉNTOV. [_Bursts out laughing_] It made you laugh. Once, after a cruel
torture, he commanded two students to fasten me by the neck with a belt,
and to lead me through the market-place as a laughing-stock.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. How is it they took you into the civil service if you
never learned anything?

NEGLIGÉNTOV. Through the mediation of influential people.

LEONÍD. And did they expel you from school?

NEGLIGÉNTOV. They didn't expel me; but they excluded me because I grew too

LEONÍD. Grew too much?

NEGLIGÉNTOV. Well, as I, during all this teaching and grilling, remaining
in the lower grades, was getting on in years, and grew more than the other
fellows of my class, of course I was excluded because I was too big. I
suffered all the more from the venality of those at the head. Our rector
liked gifts; and a week before the examinations, he sent us all to our
parents for presents. According to the number of these presents, we were
promoted to the higher classes.

LEONÍD. What was your conduct like?

NEGLIGÉNTOV. Reprehensible.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. What in the world! Good heavens! Go away, my dear sir, go

LEONÍD. Oh, mamma, he's comical; wait a bit before driving him out. Dance,

NEGLIGÉNTOV. [_Dances and sings_]

"I shall go, shall go to mow
 Upon the meadow green."

GRÍSHA _bursts out laughing._

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Stop, stop! [NEGLIGÉNTOV _ceases_. _To_ GRÍSHA] What are
you laughing at?

GRÍSHA. The member dances very comically.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. What do you mean, "member"?

GRÍSHA. Why, he himself tells us all that he is a member in the court, not
a copy-clerk. And so they call him the member.

NEGLIGÉNTOV. I call myself the member, although falsely, but expressly
for the respect of the court menials, and in order to escape scoffing and

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Be gone, and don't you ever dare to show yourself to me!

NEGLIGÉNTOV. Uncle says that I fell into loose living because of my
bachelor life, and that I may get mired in it unless you show me your

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. No, no, never!

NEGLIGÉNTOV. [_On his knees_] Uncle told me to beg you with tears, because
I am a lost man, subject to many vices, and, without your favor, I shall
not be tolerated in the civil service.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Tell your uncle that I shall always be your benefactress;
but don't you even think about a wife! Be gone, be gone!

NEGLIGÉNTOV. I thank you for not deserting me! [_To_ GRÍSHA] Ask the
mistress to let you go to the fair, and catch up with me! [_He goes out_.


_The same, except_ NEGLIGÉNTOV

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. How easy it is to be mistaken in people! You take pains
for them, work your head off, and they don't even feel it. I should have
been glad to establish that boy in life, but he crawls into the house
drunk. Now, if he's a prey to that weakness, he ought, at least, to try to
hide it from me. Let him drink where he will, but don't let me see it!
I should know, at least, that he respected me. What clownishness! What
impudence! Whom will he be afraid of, pray tell, if not of me?

LEONÍD. Oh, what a comical fellow! Don't be angry with me, mamma. When I
found out that you wanted to marry NÁDYA to him, I felt sorry for her. And
you're so good to everybody! [_He kisses her hand_] I didn't want you to do
anything unjust.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Such people fairly drive you into sin. [_Kissing him_] You
have a beautiful soul, my dear! [_To_ VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA] Indeed, I have
always thought that God himself sometimes speaks with the lips of babes.
Líza! Go tell Nadezhda not to cry, that I have turned out NEGLIGÉNTOV.

LÍZA. Yes, ma'am. [_She goes out_.

GRÍSHA. [_Approaches, swaggering, and stops in a free and easy pose_]

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. What's the matter with you?

GRÍSHA. Let me go down-town; to-day's a holiday there.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. What do you want to go for? To stare at the drunkards?

GRÍSHA. [_Clasping his hands behind him_] Please, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. No, most certainly not!

GRÍSHA. Please do, mistress.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. I tell you, positively, no! One's morals are just spoiled
at these fairs. Your greedy ears will take in all kinds of nastiness!
You're still a boy; that's no place for you!

GRÍSHA. No, but please let me, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. You stay right here! Put that nonsense out of your head!

GRÍSHA. Well, I declare! I slave, and slave, and can't ever go anywhere!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Oh me, oh my! Oh me, oh my! How spoiled you are! How
spoiled you are!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. What are you cackling about? Keep still!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. But how can I keep still, benefactress? Such lack of
feeling! Such ingratitude! It pierces the heart.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. I command you to keep still, and you must keep still!

GRÍSHA. Please let me, ma'am!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. As if the mistress didn't love you, as if she didn't
fondle you, more, if anything, than her own son!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. [_Stamping her foot_] Shhh!.... I'll turn you out!

GRÍSHA. I want awfully to go to the fair; please let me, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Well, go along then! but come back early!

GRÍSHA. Yes, ma'am.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Kiss the dear lady's hand, you blockhead!

GRÍSHA. What are you trying to teach me for? I know my own business. [_He
kisses the mistress's hand and goes out._

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. As for you, my dear, if I ever hear anything like this
again, I'll have them drive you off the place with brooms.

_She goes out._ VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA _remains standing in a stupor._


_The same, except_ MADAM ULANBÉKOV; _then_ LÍZA

LEONÍD. Well, you caught it, didn't you? And you deserved it, too!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. I'll have my turn yet.

LÍZA _enters._

LÍZA. [_Quietly to_ LEONÍD] Nádya sent me to say that we'll come to the

LEONÍD. Give her a kiss from me.

GAVRÍLOVNA. God give you health, master, for taking our part. Any wretch
can insult us; but there's no one to take our part. You'll get a rich
reward for that in the next world.

LEONÍD. I'm always ready to help you. [_He goes out to the right, with a

GAVRÍLOVNA. Thanks, my dear! [_She goes out with_ LÍZA, _to the left_.



VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Why don't you insult me? They all insult me, why
don't you? You heard how she herself wanted to flog me; "I'll have them do
it with brooms," she said. May her words choke her!

POTÁPYCH. What, I!.... I insult anybody! But as to the gentlefolk
there ... I don't know, but perhaps they have to.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Do you see what's going on in this house! Do you
see? Do you understand it, or don't you? Just now when I began to talk
about Grísha, you heard how she began to roar? You heard how she began to

POTÁPYCH. What's that to me? I, by the mistress's kindness, in her
employ....I shall carry out all her orders.... What business is it of mine?
I don't want to know anything that isn't my business.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. But did you see how Nádya and Líza--the
hussies!--looked at me? Did you see how the snakes looked? Ha! I must look
after them, I must! [POTÁPYCH, _with a wave of his hand, goes out_] Bah!
you! you old blockhead! What people! What people! There's no one to whom I
can talk, and relieve my heart. [_She goes out_.


_Part of the garden; to the rear, a pond, on the shore of which is a boat.
Starry night. A choral song is heard in the far distance. For a while the
stage is empty._


_Enter_ NÁDYA _and_ LÍZA

LÍZA. Oh, Nádya, what's this we're doing? When the mistress hears of this,
it'll be your last day on earth.

NÁDYA. If you're afraid, take yourself home.

LÍZA. No, I'll wait for you. But all the same, my girl, it's awful, no
matter what you say! Lord preserve us when she finds it out.

NÁDYA. Always singing the same tune! If you fear the wolf, keep out of the

LÍZA. But what has happened to you? Before, you didn't talk like this. You
used to hide yourself; and now you go to him of your own accord.

NÁDYA. Yes, before I ran away from him; now I don't want to. [_She stands
musing_] Now I myself don't know what has suddenly happened within me! Just
when the mistress said, a short while ago, that I shouldn't dare to argue,
but marry the man she said to marry, just then my whole heart revolted.
"Oh, Lord, what a life for me!" I thought. [_She weeps_] What's the use in
my living purely, guarding myself not merely from every word, but even from
every look? Even so, evil seized upon me. "Why," I thought, "should I guard
myself?" I don't want to! I don't want to! It was just as if my heart died
within me. It seemed that if she said another word, I should die on the

LÍZA. What are you saying! Why, I really thought you were coming to the
master as a joke.

NÁDYA. As a joke! I can't bear an insult! I cannot. [_Silence_] Oh, Líza,
if life were better, I shouldn't have come into the garden at night. You
know how it used to be, when I would think about myself--I suppose it must
have come into your head, too--that here you are, an honest girl; you live
like a bird, suddenly you're fascinated by some man, he makes love to you,
comes to see you often, kisses you.... You're abashed before him, yet happy
to see him. That's the way it always is. Although you may not be rich;
although it may be you have to sit with your lover in the servants' room;
yet it is as if you were a queen, just as if every day were a holiday for
you. Then they marry you, and all congratulate you. Well, then, no matter
how hard married life may be, perhaps there may be lots of work, in spite
of that you live as if in paradise; just as if you were proud of something.

LÍZA. Naturally, my girl.

NÁDYA. But when they say to you: "Pack off to this drunkard, and don't you
dare argue, and don't you dare cry over yourself!".... Oh, Líza!.... And
then you think how that horrid man will make fun of you, will bully you,
show his authority, will begin to ruin your life, all for nothing! You grow
old by his side without having a chance to live. [_She weeps_] It breaks
your heart even to tell about it! [_Waving her hand_] And so, indeed, the
young master is better.

LÍZA. Oh, Nádya; it would be better if you hadn't spoken, and I hadn't

NÁDYA. Stop, Líza! Why are you playing the prude with me? What would you do
yourself if the master fell in love with you?

LÍZA. [_Stammering_] Well, how should I know? Of course, what shall I
say.... the old Nick is strong.

NÁDYA. There you are!.... [_Silence_] Here is what I wanted to say to you,
Líza. What a strange inspiration has come over me! When such thoughts came
into my head, and, Líza, when I began to think about the master--then how
dear he became to me!.... so dear, that, really, I can't tell.... Before,
when he ran after me, I didn't care; but now it's just as if something drew
me to him.

LÍZA. Oh, my girl! Just think of it; surely this is fate!

NÁDYA. And such a spirit came into me, I am afraid of nothing! I feel as if
you could cut me to pieces, and still I'd not change my mind. And why this
is so, I don't know. [_Silence_] I could hardly wait till night! It seems
as if I could fly to him on wings! The one thing that I have in mind
is that, at any rate, I am not a pretty girl for nothing; I shall have
something by which to remember my youth. [_Musingly_] I thought to myself:
"What a young man, how handsome! Am I, silly girl that I am, worth his
loving me?" May I be choked here, in this lonely spot, if he does not.

LÍZA. What's this, Nádya? You seem beside yourself.

NÁDYA. And I really am beside myself. While she spoiled me, caressed me,
then I thought that I was a person like other people; and my thoughts about
life were entirely different. But when she began to command me, like a
doll; when I saw that I was to have no will of my own, and no protection,
then, Líza, despair fell upon me. What became of my fear, of my shame--I
don't know. "Only one day, but mine!" I thought; "then come what may, I
don't care to inquire. Marry me off to a herdsman, lock me in a castle with
thirty locks!.... it's all the same to me!"

LÍZA. I think the master's coming.

LEONÍD _enters from the opposite side, in a cloak._

NÁDYA. Well, Líza, isn't he handsome, ha?

LÍZA. Oh, stop! You're either sick or half out of your head!


_The_ same _and_ LEONÍD

LEONÍD. [_Approaching_] I was thinking you would deceive me by not coming.

NÁDYA. Why did you think so?

LEONÍD. Well, you see, you said you didn't love me.

NÁDYA. No matter what girls say, don't you believe them. How could one help
loving such a handsome fellow?

LEONÍD. [_Surprised_] Why, Nádya! He takes her hand, for a short time holds
it, then kisses it.

NÁDYA. [_In fright withdrawing her hand_] Oh! why did you do that? Dear,
kind master! Aren't you ashamed?

LEONÍD. I love you ever so much, Nádya!

NÁDYA. You love me? Well, then, you might give me a kiss!

LEONÍD. May I, Nádya? Will you let me?

NÁDYA. What's the harm in it?

LEONÍD. [_Turning about_] Oh, and you, Líza, here....

LÍZA. I'm going, I'm going ... I shan't meddle.

LEONÍD. [_Confused_] I didn't mean that. Where did you get that idea?

LÍZA. Oh, don't dodge. We know, too....

[_She goes out behind the shrubs._

LEONÍD. And so you will let me kiss you? [_He kisses her timidly_] No, no,
let me kiss your hand.

NÁDYA. [_Hides her hand_] No, no, how could you! What do you mean....

LEONÍD. Why not? I'll tell you what, you are the most precious thing on
earth to me.

NÁDYA. Is that really so?

LEONÍD. You see, no one ever loved me before.

NÁDYA. Aren't you fooling?

LEONÍD. No, truly!.... Truly, no one has ever loved me. Honest to God....

NÁDYA. Don't swear; I believe you without it.

LEONÍD. Let's go sit down on the bench.

NÁDYA. Yes, let's. [_They sit down._

LEONÍD. Why do you tremble so?

NÁDYA. Am I trembling?

LEONÍD. You are.

NÁDYA. Then, it must be that I feel a bit chilly.

LEONÍD. Just let me wrap you up. He covers her with one side of his cloak,
embracing her as he holds it around her. She takes his hand and holds it.

NÁDYA. And now let's sit this way and talk.

LEONÍD. What are we going to talk about? I shall say only one thing to you:
I love you.

NÁDYA. You will say it, and I shall listen.

LEONÍD. You'll get tired of one and the same thing.

NÁDYA. Maybe you'll get tired of it; I never shall.

LEONÍD. Then let me speak. I love you, little Nádya. [_He rises and kisses

NÁDYA. Why do you do that? Just sit quietly, as we said we would.

LEONÍD. Shall we sit like this, with our hands folded?

NÁDYA. [_Laughing_] Like that. Hear, a nightingale is singing in the
thicket. Sit down and listen. How nice it is to listen!

LEONÍD. Like this?

NÁDYA. Yes, as we sit together. It seems as if I could sit here all my life
and listen. What could be better, what more could one want?....

LEONÍD. Nádya, dear, that would really be a bore.

NÁDYA. What fellows you men are! You get sick of things in no time. But
I, you see, am ready to sit out the whole night, to look at you, without
lowering my eyes. It seems as if I should forget the whole world!

_Tears start in her eyes, she bends her head, and then looks at_ LEONÍD
_fixedly and musingly._

LEONÍD. Now it would be nice to go rowing; it is warm, the moon is shining.

NÁDYA. [_Absently and almost mechanically_] What is it, sir?

LEONÍD. To go rowing; I should row you out to the little island. It is so
pleasant there, on the island. Well, let's go. [_He takes her by the hand._

NÁDYA. [_In a revery_] Where, sir?

LEONÍD. Where, where? I told you; didn't you hear me?

NÁDYA. Oh, forgive me, dearest master. I was thinking and didn't hear
anything. Dearest master, forgive me!

[_She lays her head upon his shoulder._

LEONÍD. I say, let's go to the island.

NÁDYA. [_Nestling up to him_] Oh, wherever you please! Even to the end of
the world! If only with you.... Take me wherever you want.

LEONÍD. Nádya, you are so good, so sweet, that it seems as if I must burst
out crying, just to look at you. [_They approach the boat_] Good-by, Líza.

LÍZA. [_Coming from the bushes, she makes a warning gesture_] Look out,
you two! [LEONÍD _and_ NÁDYA _sit down in the boat and move away_] There,
they've gone! And I must wait here for them! This is awful, simply awful!
At night, in the garden, and all alone, too! What a fix for me--afraid of
everything, and.... [_She glances about her_] Heavens, this is deadly! If
there were only somebody here, it would be all right, I'd have somebody to
talk to. Holy Saints! Somebody's coming! [_She looks_] Oh, all right; just
our old folks from the fair. [_She hides herself._


_Enter_ POTÁPYCH _in an overcoat and a broad-brimmed hat, and with a cane,
somewhat tipsy;_ GAVRÍLOVNA _in an old-fashioned bonnet. They sit down on
the bench._

POTÁPYCH. No, Gavrílovna, not that ... don't say that!... Our lady is so
... such a kind mistress!... Here, we asked if we could go to the fair, and
she said to go along.... But what they say about her ... that I don't know:
it's not my business, and so I don't know anything about it.

GAVRÍLOVNA. Why _not_ let us go, Potápych? You and I are not youngsters; we
shan't be spoiled!

POTÁPYCH. You can't let the young folks go, because you must have models
for everything, Gavrílovna. Whatever models a person has in front of him,
he may, very likely ... most probably....

GAVRÍLOVNA. Well, why did she let Grísha go? She said she wouldn't; well,
and then she ought not to have done it.

POTÁPYCH. Vasilísa Peregrínovna stirred me up a lot on Grísha's account
a while ago ... she stirred me up a lot, but I don't know. It's not my
business, so I don't know anything about it.

GAVRÍLOVNA. What's this you were saying about models? It would be better
for her to show a better example herself! As it is, she only keeps
shouting: "Watch, I tell you, watch the girls!" But what's the use of
watching them? Are they all babies? Every person has his own brains in his
head. Let every one think for himself. All you need to do is to look out
for the five-year-olds, that they don't spoil something or other. What a
life for a girl! There's nothing worse on earth! But the mistress doesn't
want to consider whether a girl gets much fun out of life. Well, _does_ she
get much? Say!

POTÁPYCH. [_Sighs_] A dog's life.

GAVRÍLOVNA. It surely is! Consequently one ought to pity them and not
insult them at every step. As it is, it's simply awful! Nobody trusts them
at all; it's just as if they weren't human beings. Just let a girl poke her
nose out, and the guards are on the job!

POTÁPYCH. But you can't.

GAVRÍLOVNA. Can't what? You can do everything. That'll do, Potápych! You're
used to saying over other people's words like a magpie; but just think for

POTÁPYCH. But I don't know ... I don't know anything.

GAVRÍLOVNA. You won't gain anything through severity. You may tell 'em, if
you please, that they'll be hung for such-and-such; they'll go and do it
anyway. Where there's the greatest strictness, there's the most sin. You
ought to reason like a human being. No matter if our masters pay money for
their wits while we have only what we're born with, we have our own way of
thinking, all the same. It's all right to lay down the law strictly; but
don't always punish a fellow who makes a slip; let him off now and then.
Some bad comes from spoiling people; but now and then you can't help going

POTÁPYCH. Now, if you ask me ... what can I answer to that? How can I
answer you?

GAVRÍLOVNA. Well, how?

POTÁPYCH. Just this: I don't know anything about it, because it isn't my
business ... it's the mistress's business.

GAVRÍLOVNA. Bah, you old idiot! You've lost your wits in your old age.

POTÁPYCH. Why should I ... I, thanks to the lady's kindness, now in her
employ ... I carry out all her orders ... but I don't know.

GAVRÍLOVNA. Well, let's go home. She may have thought up something or other
about even you and me.

[_They go out._]


LÍZA. [_Enters_] Alone again! Where are those precious darlings of mine? I
suppose they've forgotten about me! But, then, why should they remember
me? Saints alive, it'll soon be daylight. This night is shorter than a
sparrow's beak. How can we go home then? How brave that Nádya is!




VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. What are you doing there, dearest?

LÍZA. Can't you see? I'm taking a stroll.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. I see! How can I help it? But what kind of a
night-walk is this?

LÍZA. Well, when can we go walking? We work all day and wait on the gentry,
and we go walking at night. But I am surprised at you! Don't you walk
enough daytimes that you still want to wander around at night and scare
people, just like....

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Just like what?... Well, say it, say it!

LÍZA. What? Oh, nothing.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. No, you said, "Just like" ... well, say it now; just
like who?

LÍZA. I said what I said.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. No, don't you dare sneak out of it! Come, speak up!

LÍZA. Why did you stick to it? All right, I'll tell you: like a spook.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. What, what! Like a spook!... How do you dare, you
dirty hussy, ha? What's this! You want to push me alive into the grave! But
I'll find your lover here, and take you to the mistress. Then we'll see
what song you'll sing.

LÍZA. I haven't any lover! There's no use in your looking. Search the whole
garden if you want to! And even if I had, it's none of your business! It's
shameful for you even to speak of it. You ought not even to know about it:
you're an old maid. You ought to be ashamed of yourself!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Sing on, sing on, my dear; you sing very finely on
the wing; but you'll perch pretty soon! You're not going to roam about at
night for nothing. I know your tricks. I'll show you all up! I'm so mad
now, that even if you bow down to my feet, I'll not forgive you.

LÍZA. Just wait! I see myself bowing before you! Don't count on it!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. No, now I'm going to look around every bush.

LÍZA. Do it!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA _looks about on both sides, then approaches the

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Ha, what's this? Do tell, what tricks they're up to!
In the boat! Hugging each other! How tender that is! Just like a picture!
You ought to have thought to take a guitar along and sing love-songs!...
They're kissing each other! Very good! Delightful! Again! Excellent! What
could be better? Phew, what an abomination! It's disgusting to look at!
Well, my dears, you will remember me. _Now_ I have nothing to say to you.
_To-morrow_ I shall! [_She goes out._

LÍZA. What devil brought her here? You can't clear up the mess now!

LEONÍD _and_ NÁDYA _reach the shore and disembark from the boat._



LÍZA. What have you done, what have you done!...

NÁDYA. [_Not listening to her, softly to_ LEONÍD] You will come to-morrow?

LEONÍD. I will.

LÍZA. What's the matter, don't you hear?

NÁDYA. If I can't come, I'll send a note somehow or other.


NÁDYA. Well, good-by. [_They kiss._

LÍZA. [_Loudly_] Nádya!

NÁDYA. [_Goes up to_ LÍZA. LEONÍD _sits down upon the bench_] What's the

LÍZA. Vasilísa Peregrínovna saw you rowing on the pond.

NÁDYA. Well, deuce take her!

LÍZA. My dear girl, don't carry your head too high!

LEONÍD. Nádya! [NÁDYA _goes to him_] Oh, Nádya, what a vile,
good-for-nothing fellow I am!

NÁDYA. What do you mean?

LEONÍD. Little Nádya! [_He whispers in her ear._

NÁDYA. [_Shakes her head_] Oh, my precious darling, why did that come into
your head? I'm not sorry for this, but you are. How kind you are! Now,
good-by! It's high time. I shouldn't leave you, but I can't help it; I'm
not my own mistress.

LEONÍD. Good-by, then!

_Slowly, as if unwillingly, they separate._ NÁDYA _returns, overtakes_
LEONÍD _and gazes into his eyes._

NÁDYA. Do you love me?

LEONÍD. I do love you, indeed I do!

[_They kiss and go out in different directions._


Same room as in second picture


[Footnote 1: The whole scene in a whisper.]

POTÁPYCH _is leaning against the door-jamb, his hand to his head._ VASILÍSA
PEREGRÍNOVNA _enters quietly._

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Result of yesterday evening, I suppose, my friend?

POTÁPYCH. Wha-a-t?


POTÁPYCH. Did you put up the money?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. You haven't any money for anything else; but you
have for such things.

POTÁPYCH. Well, anyhow, it ain't your business.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Of course, Potápych, you're an old man, why
shouldn't you take a drink once in a while?

POTÁPYCH. Sure, I guess I work for it.


POTÁPYCH. I'm tired of being lectured by you!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. I wish you well, Potápych.

POTÁPYCH. No need for it! [_Silence_] But you keep upsetting the mistress
so! If you'd only put in a word for us when she's in a good humor; but you
just look for the wrong time, in order to complain of us.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. What do you say, Potápych? God preserve me!

POTÁPYCH. What's that! No matter how much you swear, I know you! For
instance, why are you coming to the mistress now?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. To wish the benefactress good morning.

POTÁPYCH. You'd better not come.


POTÁPYCH. It must be she got out the wrong side of bed; she's out of sorts.
[VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA _rubs her hands with pleasure_] Here now, I see that
you're happy; you're dying for some deviltry or other. Phew! Lord forgive
us! What a disposition!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. You are saying insulting words to me, Potápych,
insulting to my very heart. When did I ever say anything about you to the

POTÁPYCH. If not about me, then about somebody else.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. But that's my business.

POTÁPYCH. Your spite's always getting in its work.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Not spite, not spite, my friend! You're mistaken! I
have just been so insulted that it's impossible to live in this world after
it. I shall die, but I shall not forget.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV _enters._ POTÁPYCH _goes out._



have risen early, benefactress. You must have an awful lot of things on
your mind.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. [_Sitting down_] I didn't sleep much. I had a bad dream.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. What, a dream, benefactress? The dream may be
terrible, but God is merciful. Not the dream, but what is going on in
reality, disturbs you, benefactress. I see that; I've seen it a long time.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Bah, what is it to me what's going on?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Why, benefactress, don't we know that your son, dear
little soul! is struck with every creature he meets?

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. You make me tired.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. I'm so sorry for you, benefactress! Don't look for
any consolation in this life! You scatter benefactions upon every one; but
how do they repay you? The world is full of lust.


VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. [_Weeping_] I can't keep back my tears when I look
at you! My heart bleeds that they don't respect you, that they don't
respect you even in your own house! In your honorable house, in such pious
premises as these, to do such things!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. [_Frowning_] You silly crow! You want to croak about
something or other. Well, croak away!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Benefactress, I'm afraid it might upset you.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. You've upset me already. Talk!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. [_Glances about in all directions and sits down on
a stool at the feet of_ MADAM ULANBÉKOV] Yesterday, benefactress, I was
ending my evening prayer to the Heavenly Creator, and went out to stroll in
the garden, and to occupy myself for the night with pious meditations.


VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. And what did I see there, benefactress! How my legs
held me up, I don't know! That Líza of yours was running through the bushes
with a depraved look; it must be she was seeking her lovers. Our master,
the little angel! was rowing in the boat on the pond, and Nádya, also with
a depraved expression, was clinging to him with her arms about his neck,
and was kissing him. And it was easy to see that he, because of his purity,
was trying to thrust her away; but she kept clasping him about the neck,
kissing and tempting him.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Are you lying?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. You may quarter me, benefactress.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. It's enough if there is one grain of truth in your words.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. It's all true, benefactress.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Fiddlesticks! not all--it can't be! You always make up
more than half. But where were the servants?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. All of them, benefactress, were more or less drunk.
No sooner had you gone to bed, than they all went to the fair and got
tipsy. Gavrílovna, Potápych, all were drunk. What an example to the young!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. This must be looked into thoroughly. Of course, I
shouldn't have expected the least mischief of Leoníd. Quiet lads like him!
Well, if he'd been a soldier, it would be pardonable; but as it is....
[_She muses._

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. And furthermore, benefactress, so far Grísha hasn't
come back from the fair.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. How's that? He didn't sleep at home?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. He did not, benefactress!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. You lie, you lie, you lie! I'll drive you off the place!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. May I die in my tracks!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. [_Sinking back in her chair_] You want to kill me.
[_Raising herself from the chair_] You simply want to kill me. [_She rings.
Enter_ POTÁPYCH] Where's Grísha?

POTÁPYCH. Just came, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Send him here! [POTÁPYCH _goes out_] This certainly beats

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. You'll not find anybody more devoted than I,
benefactress; only I am unhappy in one respect: that my disposition
displeases you.

_Enter_ GRÍSHA, _his hair tousled and dishevelled._


_The same, and_ GRÍSHA

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Where've you been?

GRÍSHA. [_Now opens, now closes his eyes, not sure of his tongue, and
unsteady on his legs_] At the fair, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Just come from it? [GRÍSHA _is silent_] Why don't you
talk? [_Silence_] Am I going to get a word out of you, or not?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Answer the mistress.

GRÍSHA. What's that to you?

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Answer me! Where have you been all this time?

GRÍSHA. I've done wrong, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. I'm not asking you whether you've done wrong or not; I'm
asking you where you were!

GRÍSHA. [_Looks at the ceiling with a vacant stare_] Why, where should I
be? The idea! The same place as usual!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Well, where's that?

GRÍSHA. I just informed you that I was there all the time, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. You'll drive me out of patience! Where's there?

GRÍSHA. But, really, ma'am! Your will in everything, ma'am. What did I,
ma'am.... I've done wrong, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Good Lord! You're still drunk, I guess.

GRÍSHA. Not a bit, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Nonsense! I can see.

GRÍSHA. But, really, ma'am! One can say anything about a man.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Bah, you disgraceful scamp! He still denies it! This is
awful! This is awful! Now, speak up, where've you been?

GRÍSHA. Why, really, ma'am! I just informed you, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Were you at the fair all night?

GRÍSHA. I just informed you so, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. How did you dare, when I let you go for only a short time?

GRÍSHA. Well, really, ma'am! I did want to go home, but they wouldn't let
me, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Who wouldn't let you go?

GRÍSHA. My friends wouldn't, ma'am.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Who are these friends of yours?

GRÍSHA. Why, really, ma'am! Government office clerks.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Great heavens! Clerks! Do you understand what kind of
people they are?

GRÍSHA. Who, ma'am, clerks? Understand what about them, ma'am?

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. And you prowled about with them all night! It would have
been better if you hadn't told me, nasty scamp that you are! I know how
they act! They'll teach you all sorts of things! What does this mean?
Be-gone! And don't you dare show yourself before my eyes!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Ask forgiveness, you blockhead! Kiss the dear lady's

GRÍSHA _waves his hand impatiently and goes out._

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. What an affliction! It'll simply make me ill! Already I
feel my spasms are beginning. What a worthless scamp! He went out just as
if he had no responsibilities! And without a sign of repentance!

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Ah, benefactress, you see he's still a child; he did
it just out of stupidity.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. No, he needs a good....

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. What do you say, benefactress? He's still a regular
booby! What can you expect of him! He'll get wiser, then it will be
altogether different.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. What offends me most is ingratitude! It seems to me he
ought to feel what I am doing for him. I'm positively sick. Go for the

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Calm yourself, benefactress; as if that rabble were
worth your getting upset over!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Hand me the smelling-salts.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. [_Hands her them_] Snap your fingers at them, that's
all. Now, if only those girls....

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Oh, here's another affliction! Now I certainly can't
collect my thoughts; I'm completely distracted, and now she begins on the
girls! I shall take to my bed at any moment.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Lust, benefactress, is beyond all endurance.

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. No, they needn't expect any mercy from me. As it is, I
forgive one, then another, and so the whole crowd is spoiled. [_She rings;
enter_ POTÁPYCH] Call Nadezhda, and come here yourself! [POTÁPYCH _goes
out_] That's what it is to be a woman. If I were a man, would they dare be
so willful?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. They don't give a fig for you, benefactress, not a
fig. They aren't a little bit afraid of you!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. They're going to find out pretty quick whether I amount to

_Enter_ POTÁPYCH _and_ NÁDYA. GAVRÍLOVNA _and_ LÍZA _look through the


_The same_, POTÁPYCH _and_ NÁDYA

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Nadezhda! Vasilísa PEREGRÍNOVNA says she saw you in the
garden last night with the master. Is that so? [NÁDYA _is silent_] You're
silent, that means it's true. Well, now, you can thank yourself. I'm not a
conniver at loose conduct, and I won't endure it in my house. I can't turn
you out as a vagabond, that would weigh upon my conscience. I am obliged
to marry you off. [_To_ POTÁPYCH] Send to town and tell NEGLIGÉNTOV that I
shall marry Nádya to him; and let the wedding be just as soon as possible.

[_She rises from her chair and is about to leave_].

NÁDYA. [_Falling at her feet_] Whatever you wish, only not marriage with

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Fiddlesticks! What I have once said is sacred. And what
do you mean by this scene? Can't you see that I'm not well? To keep on
plaguing me! Potápych! She has no father; you be a father to her instead;
and impress upon her in fatherly fashion the baseness of her conduct, and
the fact that she must obey my commands.

POTÁPYCH. You listen, Nadezhda, to what the mistress commands! Because when
she intrusts you to me, it means that I must show my authority over you. If
you command it, mistress, I can at once, in your presence, give her some
moral instruction with my own hand! Here, if you dare to say one tiny word
to the contrary, I'll drag you off by the hair, no matter what any one

[_He raises his hand threateningly._]

NÁDYA. Oh!... [_She crouches._]

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Don't strike her! What disgusting scenes!

POTÁPYCH. But, mistress! You can't get results by talking! Besides, if I'm
her father, that's the regular thing! That's the law, and according to
that, since she is rebelling against you now, I ought to give you that

NÁDYA. [_Weeping_] Mistress, don't ruin me!

MADAM ULANBÉKOV. Oh, my God! You don't spare me at all. Tears, squabblings!
Send for the doctor at once! How many times have I got to say it? It's
your own fault, you've nobody to blame for your tears. Potápych! get this
business over with! I don't like to repeat the same thing ten times over.

_She goes out,_ GAVRÍLOVNA _after her. Silence_. GAVRÍLOVNA _returns_.

GAVRÍLOVNA. She's gone to bed, and banged the door behind her.

POTÁPYCH. [_At the window_] Antoshka! Antoshka! Post boy! Saddle the horse
and ride to town for the doctor. Oh, you! Lord!

NÁDYA. [_Rising from her knees_] Don't you think it's a sin for you to
abuse me, Potápych? What have I ever done to you?

POTÁPYCH. What do I care? What do I care about you? When the mistress
really wants something, I have to try to please her in every way; because I
was born her servant.

NÁDYA. If she had commanded you to kill me, would you have done it?

POTÁPYCH. That's not my affair, I can't argue about that.

GAVRÍLOVNA. That's enough, Nádya, don't cry! God doesn't abandon orphans.

NÁDYA _falls upon_ GAVRÍLOVNA'S _bosom_.

LÍZA. [_To_ VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA] Well, is your heart content now?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Wait, my dear, your turn will come.

LEONÍD _enters_.


_The same and_ LEONÍD

LEONÍD. What's this? What has happened?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. You made all the trouble yourself, and then ask what
has happened.

LEONÍD. What trouble did I make? What are you continually thinking up?

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Now, don't pretend! The whole truth has come out.
You've been having a little fun. What of it? At your age, why shouldn't you

LÍZA. She's reported the whole thing to the mistress. The mistress got so
angry that it was awful! And now, sir, she is going to marry Nádya to that
government clerk.

LEONÍD. Are you sure?

NÁDYA. The thing's settled, dearest master! I have to answer for last
evening's sport.

LEONÍD. Is mamma very angry?

GAVRÍLOVNA. No one dares go near her.

LEONÍD. But how can that be? Isn't it possible to talk her over somehow or

GAVRÍLOVNA. Just go and try. No, she won't come out of her room now for
five days; and she won't let any one at all see her there.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Do you want to talk your mamma over?


VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Do you want me to tell you how?

LEONÍD. Please be so kind, Vasilísa Peregrínovna.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Well, permit me. Our benefactress is very much hurt
at Grísha, because he didn't spend the night at home: he came in drunk, and
didn't even ask forgiveness nor kiss her hand. It was this vexation that
made her sick. And then this Nadezhda happened to come her way when she
was angry. Now our benefactress won't even come out of her room, and won't
allow any one to go to her, so long as that stubborn Grísha doesn't beg

GAVRÍLOVNA. How contrarily everything happened! Grísha will keep up his
character, too. Although he is a blockhead, he has some sense. Now he'll
flop down on the hay and he'll lie there on his belly for four days.

POTÁPYCH. Somebody ought to take Uncle Gerasim's club and dress him down
from top to toe.

VASILÍSA PEREGRÍNOVNA. Now, our dear master, wouldn't you like to go
present your compliments to him, in order that he might hurry up and ask
your mamma's forgiveness?

LEONÍD. [_Upon reflection_] That would be too great an honor for him. But
see here, Gavrílovna, is mamma actually very angry?

GAVRÍLOVNA. So angry, sir, that it's terrible!

LEONÍD. Well, what's to be done now!

NÁDYA. Why are you bothering? You see, there's nothing you can do: better
leave me! Now you'll soon go away to Petersburg; you will be happy: why
should you think about such trifles, or disturb yourself?

LEONÍD. Why, you see, I'm sorry for you!

NÁDYA. Don't be sorry, if you please! I ran to my own destruction of my own
free will, like a mad girl, without once stopping to think.

LEONÍD. What are you planning to do now?

NÁDYA. That's my business.

LEONÍD. But, you see, it's going to be very hard for you.

NÁDYA. What business is it of yours? It will be all the happier for you.

LEONÍD. But why do you talk like this?

NÁDYA. Because you're still a boy!... Leave me!

LEONÍD. But, you see, he's such a drunken, vile fellow.

NÁDYA. Oh, my God! It would be better for you to go off somewhere: out of
my sight.

LEONÍD. Yes, really, it would be better for me to spend a week with our

NÁDYA. For God's sake, do!

LEONÍD. But Nádya, if it should be awfully hard for you to live with your
husband, what then?

NÁDYA. [_Weeping_] Oh, leave me alone! Be good enough to leave me alone!
[_Sobbing_] I beg only one thing of you: leave me, for God's sake! [_She

GAVRÍLOVNA _and_ LÍZA. [_Motioning with their hands_] Go away! Go away!

LEONÍD. Why do you drive me out? I guess I'm sorry enough for her! I keep
thinking somehow or other, that it may still be possible to help her in
some way.

NÁDYA. [_With desperation_] I don't want any helpers or defenders! I don't
want them! If my patience fails, that pond of ours isn't far off!

LEONÍD. [_Timidly_] Well, I'll go away if you wish.... Only what is she
saying? You folks, look after her, please! Good-by! [_He goes to the door_.

NÁDYA. [_After him in a loud voice_] Good-by!

LEONÍD _goes out_.

LÍZA. And so the old proverb is true: What's fun for the cat is tears for
the mouse.




GORDÉY KÁRPYCH TORTSÓV, _a rich merchant_.


LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA, _his daughter_.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH TORTSÓV, _his brother, a man who has squandered his

AFRIKÁN SÁVVICH KÓRSHUNOV[1], _a manufacturer_.

[Footnote 1: Vulture]



GRÍSHA RAZLYULYÁYEV, _a young merchant, the son of a rich father_.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA, _a young widow_.

      } _friends of_ LYUBÓV TORTSÓV.

EGÓRUSHKA, _a boy, distant relative of_ TORTSÓV.



_The action takes place in a district town in the house of the merchant
TORTSÓV during the Christmas holidays_.



_A small office room; in the rear wall a door; in the corner on the left
a bed, on the right a cupboard. In the left wall a window, and beside the
window a table. Near the table a chair; near the right wall a desk and a
wooden stool. Beside the bed a guitar; on the table and desk are books and


MÍTYA _is walking back and forth in the room_. EGÓRUSHKA _is seated on the
stool reading_ "Bová Korolévich."

EGÓRUSHKA. [_Reads_] "My sovereign father, glorious and brave king, Kiribít
Verzoúlovich, I do not possess the courage to marry him now. Because when I
was young I was wooed by King Gvidón."

MÍTYA. Well, Egórushka, is any one at home?

EGÓRUSHKA. [_Putting his finger on the place where he is reading in order
not to make a mistake_] Nobody; they've all gone driving. There's only
Gordéy Kárpych at home. [_Reads_] "Whereupon Kiribít Verzoúlovich said to
his daughter"--[_Again marking the place_]--only he's in such a rage, it's
awful! I cleared out--he keeps on cursing. [_Reads_] "Then the beautiful
Militrísa Kirbítyevna called her servant Licharda to her."

MÍTYA. With whom was he angry?

EGÓRUSHKA. With my uncle, with Lyubím KÁRPYCH. On the second day of the
holidays Uncle Lyubím KÁRPYCH dined with us; at dinner he got drunk and
began to play the fool; it was awfully funny. I always get the giggles. I
couldn't stand it, and then I burst out laughing, and they were all looking
at me. Uncle Gordéy KÁRPYCH took it as a great insult to himself and very
bad manners, and he was furious with him and turned him out. Uncle Lyubím
Kárpych made a great row, and out of revenge went and stood with the
beggars by the church door. Uncle Gordéy Kárpych said: "He has put me to
shame," he said, "in the eyes of the whole town." And now he gets angry
with everybody who comes near him, no matter who they are. [_Reads_] "With
the intention of advancing toward our town."

MÍTYA. [_Looking out of the window_] Here they come, I think. Yes, it's so.
Pelagéya Egórovna, Lyubóv Gordéyevna, and guests with them.

EGÓRUSHKA. [_Concealing his story in his pocket_] I'll run up-stairs.
                                                        [_Goes out_.


MÍTYA alone

MÍTYA. Oh, Lord, what misery! Everybody in the streets is having a holiday,
and everybody in the houses too, and you have to sit between four walls! I
am a stranger to all, no relations, no friends!--And then besides!--O well!
I'd better get to work; perhaps this wretchedness will pass off. [_Seats
himself at the desk and muses, then begins to sing_.

    "Her beauty I cannot describe!
    Dark eyebrows, with languishing eyes."

Yes, with languishing eyes. And yesterday when she came from mass, in her
sable coat, and her little handkerchief on her head, like this--ah!--I
really think such beauty was never seen before! [_Muses, then sings_.

    "Where, O where was this beauty born!"

My work all goes out of my head! I'm always thinking of her! My heart is
tormented with sorrow. O misery most miserable!

_Covers his face with his hands and sits silent. Enter_ PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA,
_dressed in winter clothes; she stops in the doorway._



PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Mítya, Mítya dear!

MÍTYA. What do you want?

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Come up to us later on in the evening, my dear, and play
with the girls. We're going to sing songs.

MÍTYA. Thank you exceedingly, I shall make it my first duty.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Why are you always sitting alone in the office? It's not
very cheerful! You'll come, won't you? Gordéy Kárpych won't be at home.

MÍTYA. Good, I shall come without fail.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. He's going off again, you see; he's going off there to
that friend of his--what's his name?

MÍTYA. To Afrikán Savvich?

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Yes, yes! He's quite gone on him! Lord forgive him!

MÍTYA. Take a seat, Pelagéya Egórovna. [_Fetches a chair_.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Oh, I have no time. Well, yes, I'll sit down a bit.
[_Sits down_] Now just think, what a misfortune! Really, they've become
such friends that it beats everything! Yes, that's what it's come to! And
why? What's the use of it all? Tell me that, pray. Isn't Afrikán Savvich a
coarse, drunken fellow? Isn't he?

MÍTYA. Perhaps Gordéy Kárpych has some business with Afrikán Savvich.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. What sort of business! He has no business at all. You
see Afrikán Savvich is always drinking with that Englishman. He has an
Englishman as director of his factory, and they drink together! But he's
no fit company for my husband. But can you reason with him? Just think how
proud he is! He says to me: "There isn't a soul here to speak to; all," he
says, "are rabble, all, you see, are just so many peasants, and they live
like peasants. But that man, you see, is from Moscow--lives mostly in
Moscow--and he's rich." And whatever has happened to him? Well, you see, it
was all of a sudden, my dear boy, all of a sudden! He used to have so much
sense. Well, we lived, of course not luxuriously, but all the same pretty
fairly decently; and then last year he went for a trip, and he caught it
from some one. He caught it, he caught it, they have told me so--caught all
these tricks. Now he doesn't care for any of our Russian ways. He keeps
harping on this: "I want to be up to date, I want to be in the fashion.
Yes, yes! Put on a cap," he says! What an idea to get! Am I going to try to
charm any one in my old age and make myself look lovely? Bah! You just try
to do anything with him. He never drank before--really he didn't--but now
he drinks with this Afrikán. It must be that drink has turned his brain
[_points to her head_] and muddled him.... [_Silence_] I think now that the
devil has got hold of him! Why can't he have some sense! If he were a young
fellow! For a young fellow to dress up and all that is all right; but you
see he's nearly sixty, my dear, nearly sixty! Really! "Your fashionable
up-to-date things," says I, "change every day; our Russian things have
lived from time immemorial! The old folks weren't any stupider than we."
But can you reason with him, my dear, with his violent character?

MÍTYA. What is there to say? He's a harsh man.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Lyubóv is just at the right age now; we ought to be
settling her, but he keeps dinning it in: "There's no one her equal, no!
no!" But there is! But he says there isn't. How hard all this is for a
mother's heart.

MÍTYA. Perhaps Gordéy Kárpych wishes to marry Lyubóv Gordéyevna in Moscow.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Who knows what he has in his mind? He looks like a wild
beast, and never says a word, as if I were not a mother. Yes, truly, I
never say anything to him; I don't dare; all you can do is to speak with
some outsider about your grief, and weep, and relieve your heart; that's
all. [_Rises_] You'll come, Mítya?

MÍTYA. I'll come, ma'am.

GÚSLIN _comes in_.


The _same and_ GÚSLIN

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Here's another fine lad! Come up-stairs to us, Yasha,
and sing songs with the girls; you're good at that; and bring along your

GÚSLIN. Thank you, ma'am: I don't think of that as work; I must say it's a

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Well, good-by! I'm going to take a nap for half an hour.

GÚSLIN _and_ MÍTYA. Good-by.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA _goes out_; MÍTYA _seats himself dejectedly at the
table_; GÚSLIN _seats himself on the bed and takes up the guitar_.



GÚSLIN. What a crowd there was at the fair! Your people were there. Why
weren't you?

MÍTYA. Because I felt so awfully miserable.

GÚSLIN. What's the matter? What are you unhappy about?

MÍTYA. How can I help being unhappy? Thoughts like these keep coming into
my head: what sort of man am I in the world? My mother is old and poor
now, and I must keep her--and how? My salary is small; I get nothing but
abuse and insults from Gordéy Kárpych; he keeps reproaching me with my
poverty, as if I were to blame--and he doesn't increase my salary. I'd
look for another place, but where can one find one without friends? And,
yes, I will confess to you that I won't go to another place.

GOSLIN. Why won't you go? There at the Razlyulyáyevs' it's very nice--the
people are rich and kind.

MÍTYA. No, Yasha, that doesn't suit me! I'll bear anything from Gordéy
Kárpych, I'll stand poverty, but I won't go away. That's my destiny!

GÚSLIN. Why so?

MÍTYA. [_Rises_] Well, I have a reason for this. It is, Yasha, because I
have another sorrow--but nobody knows about it. I haven't spoken to any one
about my sorrow.

GÚSLIN. Tell me about it.

MÍTYA. [_Waving his hand_] What for?

GÚSLIN. Yes, tell me; don't put on airs!

MÍTYA. Whether I tell you or not, you can't help me!

GÚSLIN. How do you know?

MÍTYA. [_Walking toward_ GÚSLIN] Nobody can help me--I am a lost man! I've
fallen wildly in love with Lyubóv Gordéyevna.

GÚSLIN. What's the matter with you, Mítya? Whatever do you mean?

MÍTYA. Well, anyhow, it's a fact.

GÚSLIN. You'd better put it out of your head, Mítya. Nothing can ever come
of that, so there's no use thinking about it.

MÍTYA. Though I know all this, one cannot control one's heart. "To love is
most easy, one cannot forget." [_He speaks with violent gestures_] "I love
the beautiful girl more than family, more than race; but evil people forbid
me, and they bid me cease."

GÚSLIN. Yes, indeed; but you must stop it! Now Anna Ivánovna is my equal;
she has no money, and I haven't a kopek--and even so uncle forbids me to
marry. It's no use for you to think of doing so. You'll get it into your
head and then it'll be still harder for you.

MÍTYA. [_Declaiming_] "What of all things is most cruel? The most cruel
thing is love." [_Walking about the room_.] Yasha, have you read Koltsóv?

GÚSLIN. Yes, why?

MÍTYA. How he describes all these feelings!

GÚSLIN. He does describe them exactly.

MÍTYA. Exactly, to perfection. [_Walking about the room_] Yasha!


MÍTYA. I myself have composed a song.



GÚSLIN. Let's make up a tune for it, and we'll sing it.

MÍTYA. Good! Here, take this [_gives him a paper_] and I'll write a
little--I have some work: most likely Gordéy Kárpych will be asking me
about it. [_Sits and writes_.

GÚSLIN _takes the guitar and begins to pick out a tune_. RAZLYULYÁYEV
_comes in with an accordion_.


_The same and_ RAZLYULYÁYEV

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Hello, boys! [_Plays on the accordion and begins to dance_.

GÚSLIN. What a fool! What did you buy that accordion for?

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Why, I bought it to play on, of course--this way. [_Plays_.

GÚSLIN. Well, that's fine music, I must say! Stop, I tell you!

RAZLYULYÁYEV. What! Do you think I'll stop? I'll stop when I want to.--What
airs! Haven't I got any money? [_Slapping his pocket_] It chinks! If we go
on a spree--then it's some spree!

    "One mountain is high,
    And another is low;
    One darling is far,
    And another is near."

Mítya! [_Strikes_ MÍTYA _on the shoulder_] Mítya, why are you sitting

MÍTYA. I have some work to do. [_Continues to work_.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Mítya! Say, Mítya, I'm on a spree, my boy! Really, I am. Oh,
come on! [_Sings, "One mountain is high," etc_.] Mítya! Say, Mítya, I'm
going on a spree for the whole holiday season--then I'll set to work,
upon my word I will! Haven't I got any money? There it is! And I'm not
drunk.--Oh, no, such a spree!--so jolly!

MÍTYA. Well, go on a spree as much as you like.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. And after the holidays I shall marry!--Upon my word I shall
marry! I'll get a rich girl.

GÚSLIN. Now, then, listen; how does this sound?

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Sing it, sing it! I'll listen.

GÚSLIN. [_Sings_]

    "Is naught so hard and evil
    As to be fatherless;
    Than slavery more grievous
    And sharper than distress.

    All in the world make holiday,
    But lonely you must pine.
    Your mind is wild and drunken,
    But it came not from the wine.

    Youth shall not do your pleasure,
    Beauty no healing bear.
    Your sweetheart does not comb your locks,
    But your harsh stepdame, Care."

_During all this time_ RAZLYULYÁYEV _stands as if rooted to the ground, and
listens with emotion; when the song is finished all are silent_.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Good! Very good! It's awfully sad; it takes hold of one's
heart. [_Sighs_] Ah, Yasha! play something cheerful; that's enough of this
stuff--to-day's a holiday. [_Sings_.

    "Who does not love a hussar!
    Life without love would be sad!"

Play the tune, Yasha.

GÚSLIN _plays the tune_.

MÍTYA. That's enough of your fooling. Come, now, let's sit down in a circle
and sing in a low tone.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. All right. [_They sit down_.

GÚSLIN. [_Begins to sing_; MÍTYA _and_ RAZLYULYÁYEV _join in_]

    "Now my young, my young lads,
    You my friends...."

_Enter_ GORDÉY KÁRPYCH; _all stand up and stop singing_.


_The same and_ GORDÉY KÁRPYCH

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. What's all this screeching! Bawling like so many peasants!
[_To_ MÍTYA] And you here! You're not living here in a peasant's hut! What
a dram-shop! See that this sort of thing doesn't go on in the future!
[_Goes to the table and inspects the papers_] Why are these papers all
scattered about?

MÍTYA. I was looking over the accounts, sir. GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. [_Takes the
book by Koltsóv, and the copy-book with verses_] And this, too, what's this

MÍTYA. I was copying these poems of Koltsóv's to pass the time away, since
it's a holiday. GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. You are sentimental for a poor lad!

MÍTYA. I just study for my own education, in order to understand things.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Education! Do you know what education is?--And yet you
keep on talking! You ought to get yourself a new coat! For when you come
up-stairs to us and there are guests, it's a disgrace! What do you do with
your money?

MÍTYA. I send it to my mother because she is old and has nowhere to get

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Send it to your mother! You ought to educate yourself
first; God knows what your mother needs! She wasn't brought up in luxury;
most likely she used to look after the cows herself.

MÍTYA. It's better that I should suffer than that my mother should be in
any want at all.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. This is simply disgusting! If you don't know yourself how
to observe decency, then sit in your hovel! If you haven't anything to
wear, then don't have any fancies! You write verses, you wish to educate
yourself--and you go about looking like a factory hand! Does education
consist in this, in singing idiotic songs? You idiot! [_Through his teeth
and looking askance at_ MÍTYA] Fool! [_Is silent_] Don't you dare to show
yourself in that suit up-stairs. Listen, I tell you! [_To_ RAZLYULYÁYEV]
And you too! Your father, to all appearances, rakes up money with a shovel,
and you go about in this Russian smock.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. What do you say! It's new--French goods--I ordered it from
Moscow--from an acquaintance--twenty rubles a yard! Do you think I ought
to go about in a bob-tailed coat, like Franz Fédorych at the apothecary's!
Why, they all tease him there!--the deuce of a coat! What's the use of
making people laugh! GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Much you know! It's hopeless to expect
anything of you! You yourself are an idiot, and your father hasn't much
more sense--he always goes about in dirty old clothes. You live like
ignorant fools, and like fools you will die.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. That's enough!


RAZLYULYÁYEV. That's enough, I say!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Clown! You don't even know how to talk straight! It's
simply waste of words to speak to you--like shooting peas against a
wall--to waste words on such as you, fools! [_Goes out_.


_The same without_ TORTSÓV

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Just look! How savage! What a rage he's in! Oh, we're awfully
scared of you--you bet we are!

MÍTYA. [_To_ GÚSLIN] There, that's the sort of life I lead! That's the sort
of thing I have to put up with!

RAZLYULYÁYEV. It'll drive you to drink--upon my word, it'll drive you to
drink! But you'd better stop thinking about it. [_Sings_.

    "One mountain is high,
    And another is low;
    One darling is far,
    And another is near."




ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Peace, honest company!

RAZLYULYÁYEV. I welcome you to our shanty.

MÍTYA. Our respects! Please come in! What good wind brings you here?

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. No wind--we just took it into our heads and came. Gordéy
Kárpych has gone out, and Pelagéya Egórovna has gone to lie down, so now we
are free! Be as jolly as you please!

MÍTYA. I humbly beg you to sit down.

_They sit down_; MÍTYA _seats himself opposite_ LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA;
RAZLYULYÁYEV _walks about_.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. It grew dull sitting silent cracking nuts. "Come on, girls,"
said I, "and see the boys," and that suited the girls.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. What stories you do make up! We never thought of coming
here--that was your idea.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Much you didn't! You were the first! Everybody knows, if a
person wants a thing, then he thinks about it; the boys of the girls, and
the girls of the boys.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Ha, ha, ha! Anna Ivánovna, you have said it exactly.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Not a bit of it!

MÁSHA. [_To_ LÍZA] Oh, how embarrassing!

LÍZA. Anna Ivánovna, you are just saying what isn't true.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Oh, you modest thing! I'd like to say a word--but it
wouldn't be nice before the boys!--I've been a girl myself. I know all
about it.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. There are girls and girls!

MÁSHA. Oh, how embarrassing!

LÍZA. What you say sounds very strange to us, and, I must say, it's


ANNA IVÁNOVNA. What were we talking about just now up-stairs? Do you want
me to tell? Shall I tell them? Well, have you calmed down now?


ANNA IVÁNOVNA. What are _you_ opening your mouth for? It wasn't about
you--don't you worry.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Even if it wasn't about me, still it may be there is some one
who thinks about me. I know what I know! [_Dances to a tune_.

    "Who does not love a hussar!
    Life without love would be sad!"

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. [_Walking towards_ GÚSLIN] Well, guitar player, when will
you marry me?

GÚSLIN. [_Playing on the guitar_] When I can get permission from Gordéy
Kárpych. What's the use of hurrying! It isn't raining on us! [_Nods his
head_] Come along here, Anna Ivánovna; I've got something to say to you.

_She goes to him, and sits near him; he whispers in her ear, looking

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. What do you say!--Really?

GÚSLIN. It's really true.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Well, then, all right; keep quiet! [_They talk in a

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. You, Mítya, will you come to us later on in the evening?

MÍTYA. I will.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. And I'm coming; I'm good at dancing. [_Stands with arms
akimbo_] Girls! do fall in love with me, one of you!

MÁSHA. You ought to be ashamed of yourself! What's that you're saying?

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Why such airs! I say, fall in love with me,
somebody--yes--for my simplicity.

LÍZA. People don't talk like that to girls. You ought to wait till they do
fall in love with you.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Yes, much I'll get from you by waiting! [_Dances_

    "Who does not love a hussar!"

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_Looking at_ MÍTYA] It may be somebody loves somebody
and won't tell! He must guess himself.

LÍZA. How can any girl in the world say that!

MÁSHA. I know it!

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. [_Goes up to them and looks now at_ LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA _and
now at_ MÍTYA _and sings_:

    "Already it is seen
    If somebody loves somebody--
    Opposite the beloved one she seats herself
    Heavily sighing."

MÍTYA. Who does that apply to?

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. We know to whom.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Stay, girls, I'll sing you a song.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Sing, sing!

RAZLYULYÁYEV. [_Sings slowly_]

    "A bear was flying through the sky."

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Don't you know anything worse than that!

LÍZA. We might think you were making fun of us.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. If this isn't good enough I'll sing you another, for I'm a
jolly fellow. [_Sings_.

    "Beat! Beat! upon the board.
     Moscow! Moscow! that's the word.
     Moscow's got it in his head
     That Kolomna he will wed.
     Tula laughs with all his heart.
     But with the dowry will not part.
     Buckwheat is tuppence. It's twenty for oats.
     Millet is sixpence and barley three groats.
                                 [_Turns towards the girls_.
     If only oats would but come down!
     It's costly carting 'em to town."

See! What weather!

MÁSHA. This doesn't concern us.

LÍZA. We don't trade in flour.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. What are you interrupting for! Just guess this riddle.
What's this: round--but not a girl; with a tail--but not a mouse?[1]

[Footnote 1: A turnip.]

RAZLYULYÁYEV. That's a hard one!

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Indeed it is!--You just think it over! Now, girls, come
along! [_The girls rise and get ready to go_] Come along, boys!

GÚSLIN _and_ RAZLYULYÁYEV _get ready_.

MÍTYA. But I'll come later. I'll put things to rights here first.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. [_Sings while they are getting ready_]

    "Our maids last night,
    Our pretties last night,
    They brewed us a brew of the beer last night.
    And there came to our maids,
    And there came to our pretties
    A guest, a guest whom they didn't invite."

ANNA IVÁNOVNA _lets them all pass through the door, except_ LYUBÓV
GORDÉYEVNA; _she shuts the door and does not allow her to pass_.



LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_At the door_] Stop, don't be silly! [_Through the
door the girls are heard laughing_] They won't let me out! Oh, what girls!
[_Walks away from the door_] They're always up to something.

MÍTYA. [_Hands her a chair_] Be seated, Lyubóv Gordéyevna, and talk to me
for just a moment. I'm very glad to see you in my room.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Why are you glad? I don't understand.

MÍTYA. Oh, why!--It is very pleasant for me to see on your side such
consideration; it is above my deserts to receive it from you. This is the
second time I have had the good fortune--

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. There's nothing in that! I came here, sat awhile, and
went away again. That means nothing. Maybe I'll go away again at once.

MÍTYA. Oh, no! Don't go!--Why should you! [_Takes the paper out of his
pocket_] Permit me to present to you my work, the best I can do--from my


MÍTYA. I made these verses just for you.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_Trying to hide her joy_] Still, it may be just some
sort of foolishness--not worth reading.

MÍTYA. That I cannot judge, because I wrote it myself, and without studying


MÍTYA. Directly.

_Seats himself at the table, and takes the paper_: LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA
_approaches very near to him_.

    "In the meadow no grasses wither,
    And never a flower doth fade;
    However a fair lad fadeth
    That once was a lusty blade.

    He loved a handsome damsel;
    For that his grief is great,
    And heavy his misfortune,
    For she came of high estate.

    The lad's heart is breaking,
    But vain his grief must be,
    Because he loved a damsel
    Above his own degree.

    When all the night is darkened
    The sun may not appear;
    And so the pretty maiden.
    She may not be his dear."

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_Sitting and reflecting for some time_] Give it here.
[_Takes the paper and hides it, then rises_] Now I will write something
for you.


LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Only I don't know how to do it in verse, but--just plain

MÍTYA. I shall regard such a kindness from you as a great happiness to
myself. [_Gives her paper and pen_] Here they are.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. It's a great pity that I write so abominably. [_She
writes_; MÍTYA _tries to look_] Only don't you look, or I'll stop writing
and tear it up.

MÍTYA. I won't look. But kindly condescend to permit me to reply, in so far
as I am able, and to write some verses for you on a second occasion.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_Laying down the pen_] Write if you wish--only I've
inked all my fingers; if I'd only known, I'd better not have written.

MÍTYA. May I have it?

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Well, take it; only don't dare to read it while I'm
here, but after, when I've gone.

_Folds together the paper and gives it to him; he conceals it in his

MÍTYA. It shall be as you wish.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_Rises_] Will you come up-stairs to us?

MÍTYA. I will--this minute.


MÍTYA. To our pleasant meeting!

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA _goes to the door; from the doorway_ LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH
_comes in_.


_The same and_ LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH


LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. [_Looking at_ LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA] Wait! What sort of a
creature is this? On what pretext? On what business? We must consider this

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Is it you, uncle!

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Oh, it's I, niece! What? You got a fright? Clear out, never
mind! I'm not the man to tell tales. I'll put it in a box, and think it
over after, all in my spare time.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Good-by. [_Goes out_.



LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Mítya, receive unto thyself Lyubím Kárpych TORTSÓV, the
brother of a wealthy merchant.

MÍTYA. You are welcome.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. [_Sits down_] My brother turned me out! And in the street,
in a coat like this--one has to dance about a bit! The frost--at Christmas
time--brrr!--My hands are frozen, and my feet nipped--brrr!

MÍTYA. Warm yourself up, Lyubím Kárpych.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. You will not drive me away, Mítya? If you do, I'll freeze
in the yard--I'll freeze like a dog.

MÍTYA. How could I? What are you saying?

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. You see, Mítya, my brother turned me out. As long as I had
a little money, I strolled about in warm places; now I have no money, and
they won't let me come in anywhere. All I had was two francs and some-odd
centimes! Not a great capital! It wouldn't build a stone house! It wouldn't
buy a village! What could one do with such a capital? Where put it? Not
take it to a bank! So then I took this capital and drank it up!--squandered
it!--That's the way of it!

MÍTYA. Why do you drink, Lyubím Kárpych? That makes you your own enemy.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Why do I drink? From stupidity! Yes, from my own stupidity.
Why did you think I drank?

MÍTYA. You'd better stop it.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. It's impossible to stop; I've got started on this track.

MÍTYA. What track?

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Ah, well, listen--you're a kind soul--what this track was.
Only, you listen, take note of it. I was left when my father died, just
a kid, tall as a bean pole, a little fool of twenty. The wind whistled
through my head like an empty garret! My brother and I divided up things:
he took the factory himself, and gave me my share in money, drafts
and promissory notes. Well, now, how he divided with me is not our
business--God be his judge! Well, then I went to Moscow to get money on the
drafts. I had to go! One must see people and show oneself, and learn good
manners. Then again, I was such a handsome young man, and I'd never seen
the world, or spent the night in a private house. I felt I must try
everything! First thing, I got myself dressed like a dandy. "Know our
people!" says I. That is, I played the fool to a rarity! Of course, I
started to visit all the taverns: "_Schpeelen sie polka_! Give us a bottle
off the ice!" I got together enough friends to fill a pond! I went to the

MÍTYA. Well, Lyubím Kárpych, it must be very nice in the theatre.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. I kept going to see the tragedies; I liked them very much,
only I didn't see anything decently, and I didn't understand anything
because I was nearly always drunk. [_Rises_] "Drink beneath the dagger of
Prokóp Lyapunóv." [_Sits down_] By this sort of life I soon squandered all
my money; what was left I intrusted to my friend Afrikán Kórshunov, on his
oath and word of honor; with him I had drunk and gone on sprees, he was
responsible for all my folly, he was the chief mixer of the mash! He fooled
me and showed me up, and I was stuck like a crab on a sand bank. I had
nothing to drink, and I was thirsty--what was to be done? Where could I go
to drown my misery? I sold my clothes, all my fashionable things; got pay
in bank-notes, and changed them for silver, the silver for copper, and then
everything went and all was over.

MÍTYA. How did you live, Lyubím Kárpych?

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. How did I live? May God never give such a life to a Tatar!
I lived in roomy lodgings, between heaven and earth, with no walls and no
ceiling. I was ashamed to see people. I hid from the world; and yet you
have to go out into God's world, for you have nothing to eat. You go along
the street, and everybody looks at you.--Every one had seen what a life I
used to lead, how I rattled through the town in a first-class cab, and now
went about tattered and torn and unshaven. They shook their heads and away
they went. Shame, shame, shame! [_Sits and hangs his head_] There is a good
business--a trade which pays--to steal. But this business didn't suit me--I
had a conscience, and again I was afraid: no one approves of this business.

MÍTYA. That's a last resort.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. They say in other countries they pay you thalers and
thalers for this, but in our country good people punch your head for it.
No, my boy, to steal is abominable! That's an old trick, we'll have to give
it up! But, you see, hunger isn't a kind old aunty, and you have to do
something! I began to go about the town as a buffoon, to get money, a kopek
at a time, to make a fool of myself, to tell funny stories, and play all
sorts of tricks. Often you shiver from early morn till night in the town
streets; you hide somewhere behind the corner away from people, and wait
for merchants. When one comes--especially if he is rather rich--you jump
out and do some trick, and one gives you five kopeks, and another ten:
with that you take breath for a day and so exist.

MÍTYA. It would have been better, Lyubím Kárpych, to go to your brother,
than to live like that.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. It was impossible; I'd been drawn in. Oh, Mítya, you get
into this groove, and it isn't easy to get out again. Don't interrupt!
You'll have a chance later. Well, then, listen! I caught cold in the
town--it was winter; I stood in the cold, smartly dressed, in this coat!
I was blowing on my fingers and jumping from foot to foot. Good people
carried me to the hospital. When I began to get better and come to my
senses, my drunken spell was over. Dread came over me! Horror seized me!
How had I lived? What had I done? I began to feel melancholy; yes, such
melancholy that it seemed better to die. And so I decided that when I got
quite well, I would go on a pilgrimage, then go to my brother, and let him
take me as a porter. This I did. I threw myself plump at his feet! "Be a
father to me!" says I, "I have lived abominably--now I wish to reform." And
do you know how my brother received me! He was ashamed, you see, that he
had such a brother. "But you help me out," I said to him, "correct me, be
kind to me, and I will be a man." "Not at all," says he, "where can I put
you when important guests, rich merchants, and gentry come to see me?
You'll be the death of me," says he! "With my feelings and intellect," says
he, "I ought not to have been born in this family at all. See how I live,"
says he; "who'd ever guess that our father was a peasant! For me," says
he, "this disgrace is enough, and then you must come and obtrude yourself
again." He overwhelmed me as with thunder! After these words I went from
bad to worse. "Oh, well," I thought, "deuce take him! He is very thick
here. [_Points to his forehead_] He needs a lesson, the fool. Riches are no
use to fools like us; they spoil us. You need to know how to manage money."
[_Dozes off_] Mítya, I'll lie down here; I want to take a nap.

MÍTYA. Do lie down, Lyubím Kárpych.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Mítya, don't give me any money--that is, don't give me
much; just give me a little. I'll take a nap here, and then go and warm
myself a little, you understand! I only need a little--no, no! Don't be

MÍTYA. [_Taking out money_] Here, take as much as you need.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. I need ten kopeks. This is all silver; I don't need silver.
Give me two kopeks more, that will be just right. [MÍTYA _gives them_]
That's enough. You have a good heart, Mítya! [_Lies down_] My brother
doesn't know how to appreciate you. Yes, I'll play a joke on him! For fools
riches are an evil! Give money to a sensible man, and he'll do something
with it. I walked about Moscow, I saw everything, everything!--I've been
through a long course of study! You'd better not give money to a fool;
he'll only go smash! Foh, foh, foh, brr! just like brother and like me, the
brute! [_In a voice half asleep_] Mítya, I will come and spend the night
with you.

MÍTYA. Come on. The office is empty now--it's a holiday.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Oh, but I'll play a funny joke on brother. [_Falls asleep_.

MÍTYA. [_Walks towards the door and takes the letter out of his pocket_]
What can she have written? I'm frightened!--My hands tremble!--Well, what
is to be will be! I'll read it. [_Reads_] "And I love you. Lyubóv Tortsóv."
[_Clutches his head and runs out_.


_Guest-room in the house of_ TORTSÓV. _Against the rear wall a sofa, in
front of the sofa a round table and six armchairs, three on each side;
in the left corner a door; on each wall a mirror, and under them little
tables. A door in each side wall, and a door in the rear wall in the
corner. On the stage it is dark; from the left door comes a light._


LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA _and_ ANNA IVÁNOVNA _enter through the lighted door._

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Why don't they come, our fine lads? Shall we go and fetch

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. No, you'd better not. Well, yes, if you like, fetch
them. [_Embraces her_] Fetch them, Annushka.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Well, evidently you aren't happy without him!

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Oh, Annushka, if you only knew how I love him!

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Love him, then, my dear, but don't lose your wits. Don't let
him go too far, or you may be sorry for it. Be sure you find out first what
sort of a fellow he is.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. He's a good lad!--I love him very much; he's so quiet,
and he's an orphan.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Well, if he's good, then love him; you ought to know best.
I just said that! Many a girl comes to grief because of them. It's easy to
get into trouble, if you don't use your sense.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. What is our love? Like a blade of grass in the field; it
blooms out of season--and it fades.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Wait a moment! Some one's coming, I think. Isn't it he? I'll
go and you wait, perhaps it's he! Have a good talk with him. [_She goes

MÍTYA _enters._




MÍTYA. It's I, Mítya.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Why were you so long in coming?

MÍTYA. I was detained. [_Approaches_] Lyubóv Gordéyevna, are you alone?

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Yes, what of it?

MÍTYA. Lyubóv Gordéyevna, how do you wish me to understand your letter?
Do you mean it, or is it a joke? [LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA _is silent_] Tell me,
Lyubóv Gordéyevna! I am now in such perplexity that I cannot express it to
you. My position in your house is known to you; subordinate to everybody,
and I may say utterly despised by Gordéy Kárpych. I've had only one
feeling, that for you, and if I receive ridicule from you, then it would
have been better for me never to have lived in this world. You may trust
me! I am telling you the truth.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. No, Mítya dear, what I wrote to you was the truth, and
not a joke. And you, do you love me?

MÍTYA. Indeed, Lyubóv Gordéyevna, I do not know how to express to you what
I feel. But at least let me assure you that I have a heart in my breast,
and not a stone. You can see my love from everything.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. But I thought that you loved Anna Ivánovna.

MÍTYA. That is not true!

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Really, they told me so.

MÍTYA. If this were true, then what sort of a man should I be after acting
as I have? Could I declare with words what my heart does not feel! I think
such a thing would be dishonorable! I may not be worth your regard, but I'm
not the man to deceive you.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. It is impossible to believe you men; all men in the
world are deceivers.

MÍTYA. Let them be deceivers, but I am not.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. How can one know! Perhaps you also are deceiving me and
want to play a joke on me!

MÍTYA. It would be easier for me to die in this place than to hear such
words from you! [_Turns away._

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. No, Mítya, I didn't mean it. I know that you love me. I
only wanted to tease you. [MÍTYA _is silent_] Mítya dear! Mítya! Why are
you silent? Are you angry with me? I tell you I was only joking! Mítya!
Yes! Now, then, say something. [_Takes his hand._

MÍTYA. Oh, Lyubóv Gordéyevna, I'm not in a joking humor! I'm not that sort
of man.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Don't be angry.

MÍTYA. If you love me, then stop these jokes! They are not in place. Oh,
it's all the same to me now! [_Embraces her_] Maybe they can take you from
me by force, but I won't give you up of my free will. I love you more than
my life!

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_Returning his embrace_] Mítya dear, what shall we do

MÍTYA. What shall we do? We didn't fall in love with each other just to say

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Well, but what if they promise me to some one else?

MÍTYA. Look here, Lyubóv, one word! To-morrow we must go together to Gordéy
Kárpych, and throw ourselves at his feet. We'll say so and so--whatever you
please, but we can't live without each other. Yes, if you love me, then
forget your pride!

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. What pride, Mítya? Is this a time for pride! Mítya dear,
don't be angry with me; don't remember my past words. It was only girlish
foolishness; I'm sorry that I did it! I shouldn't have joked with you; I
should have caressed you, my poor boy. [_Throws her arms round his neck_]
Oh, but, if father doesn't consent to our happiness--what then?

MÍTYA. Who can tell beforehand? It will be as God wills. I don't know how
it is with you, but for me life is not life without you! [_Is silent_.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Some one's coming! Go away quietly, dearest, and I'll
come later.

MÍTYA _goes out quietly_. ARÍNA _comes in with a candle_; LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA
_goes to meet her_.



ARÍNA. Well, you! You frightened me enough! What are you doing here? Your
mother is looking for you there, and here you are! Why are you wandering
about in the dark! Oh, you modest maiden! Fairy princess. [LYUBÓV
GORDÉYEVNA _goes out_] Well, really, wasn't some one there with her?
[_Looks into the corner_] But I'm a silly old woman, I suspected some one!
[_Lights the candles_] Oh, deary me, some trouble will be sure to come in
my old age. [EGÓRUSHKA _enters_] Go along, Egórushka, and call the girls in
from the neighbors; tell them Pelagéya Egórovna told you to invite them to
come and sing songs.

EGÓRUSHKA. Oh! how are you, Arína, my dear?

ARÍNA. What are you so happy about, silly?

EGÓRUSHKA. Why shouldn't I be happy? It's such fun! Ha, ha, ha! [_Jumps

ARÍNA. And maybe the mummers are coming; the young people wanted to dress

EGÓRUSHKA. Oh, I shall die! Oh, Lord, I shall die!

ARÍNA. What's the matter with you, you scamp?

EGÓRUSHKA. Oh, I shall die of laughing! Oh, granny, I've got such giggles!

ARÍNA. Dress up yourself.

EGÓRUSHKA. I will, I will! Oh, Lord! Oh, Oh, Oh.

ARÍNA. Now you run along quickly and fetch the girls.

EGÓRUSHKA. In a second! [_Goes out._




PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Arinushka, did you send for the girls?

ARÍNA. I did, my dear.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. That's right. Let them have a song with our folks,
and cheer up Lyubóv and the guests. This is the time for them to enjoy
themselves--while they're young. You know what a girl's life is--behind
bolts and bars, never seeing the world! Now's their holiday!--Yes, let 'em
have a good time!

ARÍNA. Yes, to be sure, to be sure! Why shouldn't they?

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Bring in some Madeira, Arinushka, the oldest we have;
and gingerbread for the young people, and sweets--whatever you choose!
Attend to it yourself, but don't forget the Madeira.

ARÍNA. I understand, I understand; there'll be enough of everything.
Directly, my dear, directly!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. And a snack for the young men.

ARÍNA. Everything, everything will be all right. Don't you worry yourself;
you join the guests. I'll do everything with pleasure. [_Goes out._

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. [_Going to the door_] Girls, boys, come here! There's
more room here and it's lighter.

GÚSLIN, _and two_ GUESTS.


RAZLYULYÁYEV, MÍTYA, GÚSLIN, _and two_ GUESTS _(old women)._

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. [_To the old women_] We'll sit here. [_Seats herself on
the sofa, with the old women near her;_ ANNA IVÁNOVNA _and_ GÚSLIN
_take chairs and talk quietly;_ MÍTYA _stands near them;_ MÁSHA, LYUBÓV
GORDÉYEVNA, _and_ LÍZA _walk about the room with their arms round each
other;_ RAZLYULYÁYEV _follows them_] We'll watch them while they play.

LÍZA. "Just imagine, mother!" I said, "he doesn't know how to talk
properly, and he even uses such words that it's absolutely impolite."

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Do you mean me?

LÍZA. We aren't talking about you; it's no business of yours. [_She
continues_] "But why, mother, must I love him?" [_Speaks in a whisper._

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Yes, my friend, I love the good old ways. Yes, our good
old Russian ways. But there! my husband doesn't care for them! What can you
do about it? That's his character. But I love them, I'm naturally jolly;
yes, I love to give a person a bite and to get them to sing songs to me!
Yes, I take after my family. Our family are all jolly, and love singing.

FIRST GUEST. When I look round, my dear Pelagéya Egórovna, there isn't the
gayety that there used to be when we were young.


PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. In my young days I was the merriest sort of girl--always
singing and dancing---indeed I was. Yes, what songs I knew! They don't sing
such songs now.

FIRST GUEST. No, they don't sing them; new songs have come in now.

SECOND GUEST. Yes, yes, one remembers the old times.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Yasha dear! Sing us some good old songs.

GÚSLIN _takes the guitar._

RAZLYULYÁYEV. [_To the girls_] So it's no use for me to wait; evidently I
shan't get any sense out of you.

LÍZA. What do you mean by sense? I don't understand.

MÁSHA. It's ridiculous to listen to you.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Yes, it's funny for you; but how is it for me? Really, why
don't you love me?

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Let's sit down.

_They sit down._

GÚSLIN. [_Sings_]

    "Four huts beside the brook
    That swift doth run.
    There is a gossip
    In every one.

    Dear gossips all four,
    My friends that be,
    Be friendly and kindly
    And nice to me.

    When you're in the green garden,
    Take me with you;
    When you pluck flowers,
    Pluck me a few.

    When you weave garlands,
    Weave me some too;
    When you go to the river,
    Take me with you.

    When you throw in the garlands,
    Throw also my wreath;
    The others will float,
    When mine sinks beneath.

    All of the sweethearts,
    They have come home;
    Mine, and mine only,
    He has not come."

ARÍNA. [_Enters with bottles and glasses; and a servant-girl with
relishes_] Here, I've brought them!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. [_To the servant_] Pass it to the young ladies. [_The
servant carries wine round to the girls, places the tray on the table
and goes out_] Arína! Bring us some wine. Yes, pour it out, pour out the
Madeira, the Madeira; it will cheer us up. That's all right! Let's have a
glass; they won't condemn us--we're old folks! [_They drink_] Annushka!
Come along and drink some wine. Won't you have some?

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Well, why shouldn't I drink some! They say, don't drink when
there's no one round, but when there's company, it's all right.

_Goes to_ PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA, _drinks and talks in a whisper_.

ARÍNA. Have you had a drop too much, my boys?

MÍTYA. I don't drink.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. With pleasure! [_He comes up with_ GÚSLIN _and drinks; then
catches hold of_ ARÍNA] Now, then, let's start an old song. [_Sings_.

    "Oh, I'll sing an old song,
    Of Eréma, of Fomá--"

ARÍNA. Stop, saucy; you've crumpled me all up!


    "The reins were in Kalúga;
    In Tarús' the hames were hid.
    Grooved runners had the sleigh;
    All by itself it slid."

_The girls laugh_.

ARÍNA. Let me go, I say! Now that's enough! [_Goes out_.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. What are you teasing the old woman for? Come and dance with

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Come on, then! Play for us, Yasha!

YÁSHA _plays; they dance_.

FIRST GUEST. That's a lively little woman.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Yes, very lively, very lively.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. [_Stamping his feet_] That's the way we do it. [_Stops

EGÓRUSHKA. [_Enters_] The girls have come.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Ask them in. [EGÓRUSHKA _goes out; the girls come in_.
ARÍNA _brings in a dish and covers it_] Sit down and sing the dish songs;
I'm so fond of them.

and put them into the dish; the girls sing_.

    "Sow the wheat, my mother, and bake the cake for me.
    Many guests are coming, my lovers for to be. Glory!

    Your guests will wear bast slippers, but mine have boots
    of hide. Glory!
    The girl of whom the song is sung, much good it doth betide.

    The girl whose ring is taken out, will find it so without a
    doubt. Glory!"

RAZLYULYÁYEV _rolls up his sleeves, takes out a ring and gives it to_

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. High time, high time!

GIRLS. [_Sing_]

    "In Bélgorod a sparrow small,  Glory!
    In Bélgorod sits on a wall. Glory!

    In a strange land he looks about. Glory!
    Her ring and fortune will come out. Glory!"

ARÍNA. [_Enters_] The mummers have come; shall I let them in?

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Yes, let them in; let them have a dance. And you girls
can sing afterwards.


_The same and mummers; an_ OLD MAN _with a balalaika or guitar, a_ TRAINER
_with a bear and goat_, EGÓRUSHKA _with molasses_.

OLD MAN. [_Bowing_] To all this honest company, greeting!

TRAINER. Make a bow, Mishka! [_The bear bows_.

OLD MAN. Do you wish me to sing and dance and amuse you, and to limber up
my old bones?

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. That's all right; yes, dance! Give them some wine,

ARÍNA _serves the wine; some of them drink_.

OLD MAN. Thank you humbly for your kind words, and for the entertainment.

    "Our lads, though stripped unto the buff,
    Even so are bold enough.
    Their twelve hands go weaving on;
    Now the web of cloth is done.
    They made kaftans for us here;
    Kaftans do not cost you dear
    When you've grist within your hopper.
    In our purses silver bright
    Will not let us sleep at night.
    And the jingling coins of copper
    For the tavern raise the call.
    Tapster Andrew, quick undo
    The inn-door. We've a kaftan new
    Here to put in pawn with you;
    We won't take it home at all."

[_Goes to one side_.

EGÓRUSHKA. [_Dances with the molasses_]

    "Molasses! Molasses!
    It simmers so sweet.
    Oh, winter is bitter,
    The frost and the sleet.
    Stormy and snowy, oh, ways choked with snow,
    Unto my darling there's no way to go.

    Molasses! Molasses!
    It simmers so sweet.
    Like a little quail my wife
    Sits on her seat.
    And I love her for this, and her praises I tell,
    For she jaunts on so prettily, proudly and well."


FIRST GUEST. Oh, what a fine boy! Ah!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Why, yes, my friend, he's still a child; but he does
the best he can. He's young yet. Come here, Egórushka. [EGÓRUSHKA _comes_]
Here's some gingerbread for you. [_Gives it to him_; EGÓRUSHKA _bows and
goes out_] Yes, he's still a child; you can't expect much from him!

_The_ TRAINEE _leads the bear; the goat dances_.

OLD MAN. [_Sings_]

    "We had a little billy-goat,
    And he was clever, too;
    He carried in the water,
    And set the mush to brew.

    He fed Grandpa and Grandma;
    But when he went one day
    To the dark forest seven wolves
    In waiting for him lay.

    And one of them was hungry,
    And many and many a year
    Had he roamed, forever asking
    For goat's meat far and near."

TRAINER. [_To the bear_] Ask for wine, in honor of the goat. [_Bear bows_.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Arinushka, bring some refreshments for the mummers.

ARÍNA _brings them something to drink; they drink and bow_.

TRAINER. Now, then, amuse the honorable company. Show how the fair young
darlings, the fair young girls, pale and rosy ones, glance at the young
men, and watch their suitors. [_Bear shows off_] And how the old woman goes
to work, bending, shrivelled; old age has overcome her, the years have
broken her down. [_Bear shows off_] Well, now bow to the honorable

[Footnote 1: Ostróvsky is of course reproducing actual Christmas customs.
Count Ilya Tolstoy, in his _Reminiscences of Tolstoy_, tells how his father
played the part of the bear at the family Christmas party.]

_They go out; the_ OLD MAN _plays the guitar; the other mummers dance;
all watch them_. GÚSLIN _and_ MÍTYA _stand near_ LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA; MÍTYA
_whispers something to her, and kisses her_. RAZLYULYÁYEV _comes up_.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. What are you doing?

MÍTYA. What's that to you?

RAZLYULYÁYEV. I'll tell Pelagéya Egórovna; just see if I don't!

MÍTYA. You just dare to tell!

GÚSLIN. [_Approaching him_] Look out for me! You see we'll go away from
here together; it'll be dark and the alley is lonely--just remember that!

RAZLYULYÁYEV. What are you meddling with me for? What's the use? I want to
marry her, and I'm going to make proposals. What are you up to! Yes, I mean
to marry her!

MÍTYA. We'll see about that.

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Do you think they'll marry her to you? Not much! Not if I
know it--I've got lots of money!

ARÍNA. What a racket! Stop! Some one seems to be knocking. [_All listen_]
That's true! They are knocking.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Go and open the door.

ARÍNA. [_Goes out, then returns_] He's come back himself! _All rise._


_The same with_ GORDÉY KÁRPYCH _and_ KÓRSHUNOV

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. [_To the mummers_] What's this rabble!--Get out! [_To his
wife_] Wife! Pelagéya Egórovna! Greet my guest. [_Speaks in a low voice_]
You've ruined me!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. You are welcome, Afrikán Savvich, you are welcome.

KÓRSHUNOV. Good evening, Pelagéya Egórovna. He, he, he! It's very cheerful
here! We've struck it just at the right time.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Yes, here I am with the girls. Yes, I'm always with the
girls. It's holiday time; I want to give my daughter some fun.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. You are welcome, Afrikán Savvich; make yourself at home.
[AFRIKÁN SÁVVICH _seats himself in the armchair at the table. To his wife_]
Turn the hussies out.

KÓRSHUNOV. Why turn them out! Who's going to turn the girls out. He, he,
he! They'll sing a song, and we'll listen and watch them, and we'll give
them some money, but not turn them out.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. As you wish, Afrikán Savvich! Only I am abashed before you!
But don't conclude from this that we are all uneducated--this is all the
wife; nothing can knock anything into her head. [_To his wife_] How many
times have I told you: if you want to have a party in the evening, call
in the musicians, and have things in good form. You can't say I deny you

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Well, what's the use of musicians--for us old women?
_You_ can amuse yourself with them!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. There, that's the idea of life she has! It makes you laugh
to hear her.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. What do you mean? _Idea, idea_! It would be better for
you to give your guest something to eat. Would you like something, Afrikán
Savvich? Some wine with us old women? [_Pours out Madeira_.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. [_Severely_] Wife! Have you really gone out of your mind!
Hasn't Afrikán Savvich ever seen Madeira before! Order champagne--a
half dozen--and be quick about it! Then order lighted candles in the
reception-room where the new furniture is. That will give quite another

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. I will do it myself at once. [_Rises_ Arinushka, come
on. Excuse me, my dear neighbors.

FIRST GUEST. We will come with you, my dear; it's time we were going home.

SECOND GUEST. It's time, it's time! The nights are dark, and the dogs in
the lanes are fierce.

FIRST GUEST. Yes, fierce; very fierce!            [_They bow and go out_.



KÓRSHUNOV. Let's join the young ladies. Where did you pick up such
beauties--he, he! [_Walks towards_ LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA] Good evening, Lyubóv
Gordéyevna, my beauty. [LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA _bows_] May I join your company?

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. We don't drive any one away.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Be seated; you'll be our guest.

KÓRSHUNOV. You're pretty chilly to the old man! It's Christmas time now,
and I suppose we may exchange kisses.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Why be so affectionate?

KÓRSHUNOV. Gordéy Kárpych, may I kiss your daughter? And I must
confess--he, he--I'm fond of this sort of thing. Yes, well, who doesn't
like it! He, he!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. You're welcome to do so; don't stand on ceremony.

KÓRSHUNOV. Will you give me a kiss, young lady?

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. If my father wants me to.     [_They exchange kisses_.

KÓRSHUNOV. Well now, every one of them, right down the line.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. I suppose so! I'm not proud.

MÁSHA. Oh, how embarrassing!

LÍZA. Well, there's nothing to be said; I must say it's a treat!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. [_Going up to_ MÍTYA] Why are you here? Is this your place?
"The crow has flown into the lofty palace!"



_and girls_.

KÓRSHUNOV. [_Seats himself near_ LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA] I'm not like you,
Lyubóv Gordéyevna; you didn't even want to kiss me, he, he, he! And I've
brought you a little present.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. You needn't have taken the trouble.

KÓRSHUNOV. Here I've brought you some diamonds, he, he! [_Gives them to

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Oh, they're earrings! I thank you humbly.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Show them to us.

MÁSHA. But they are charming!

LÍZA. And in such good taste!

KÓRSHUNOV. Give me your hand. [_Takes it and kisses it_] You see, I like
you very much, he, he, he! I like you very much; well, but you don't like
me, I suppose?

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Why shouldn't I like you?

KÓRSHUNOV. Why? You like some one else, that's why. But you will come to
love me! I'm a good man--a jolly man, he, he, he!

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. I don't know what you are talking about.

KÓRSHUNOV. I say, you will come to love me. Why not? I'm not old yet.
[_Looks at her_] Am I an old man? He, he, he! Well, well, there's no harm
in that. To make up for it you shall wear cloth of gold. I haven't any
money! I'm a poor man. I've only got about five hundred thousand, he, he,
he! In silver! [_Takes her hand_.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_Rising_] I don't need your money.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Lyubóv, where are you going?


GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Wait! She'll come here.


KÓRSHUNOV. You don't want to sit by the old man? Give me your hand, young
lady; I will kiss it.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_Gives her hand_] Oh, good heavens!

KÓRSHUNOV. What a hand! He, he, he! Like velvet! [_Strokes her hand, and
then puts on a diamond ring._

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_Freeing her hand_] Oh, let me go! I don't want it; I
don't want it!

KÓRSHUNOV. That's all right; it's no loss to me--it won't ruin me.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. But I don't want it. Give it to whomever you like.
[_Takes it off and returns it._

KÓRSHUNOV. I gave it to you, and I won't take it back! He, he, he!

_Enter_ PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA, _and after her,_ ARÍNA _and_ EGÓRUSHKA _with
wine and glasses._



GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Come now and have a drink.

KÓRSHUNOV. All right, Gordéy Kárpych, give me something to drink. And you
girls, sing a song in my honor--I love to have respect shown me.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Girls, sing a song for him.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. [_Uncorks the bottle, pours out champagne, and offers it to
him_] To our dear friend Afrikán Savvich! Make a bow, wife!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. If you please, Afrikán Savvich, I humbly beg you.

KÓRSHUNOV _takes the glass._

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. [_Takes the glass_] Wife, drink!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Oh, somehow I don't like this kind of wine! Well, yes!
I'll take just a glass.

    GIRLS. [_Sing_] "Ah, who is he, our bachelor,
    And who is still unwed?
    Afrikán's our bachelor
    And Savvich still unwed.
    He jumped on the horse,
    The horse skips to and fro;
    He rides through the meadows,
    And green the meadows grow,
    And flowers blow."

KÓRSHUNOV. [_Seats himself near_ LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA] That's nice. I like
that. Now, then, come here some one. [_A girl comes up, he pats her on the
cheek_] Oh, you little bright eyes! You girls, I suppose, need a lot to set
off your fair faces and rosy blushes; he, he, he! But I haven't any money!
It will be on me, he, he, he! Hold out your apron! [_He tosses her some
small change; the girl bows and goes out_] Now, then, Gordéy Kárpych, tell
your wife why we came.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. I told you, wife, long ago, that living in this town bored
me, because you can't take a step here without seeing that the people are
absolutely ignorant and uneducated. And so I want to move from this place
to Moscow. But there will be a man there who is no stranger to us--our dear
son-in-law, Afrikán Savvich.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Oh! Oh! What are you saying!

KÓRSHUNOV. Yes, we've shaken hands on it, Pelagéya Egórovna. What are you
afraid of? I'm not going to eat her!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Oh, Lord! [_Seizes her daughter_] She's my daughter! I
won't give her up!


PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. My dear Gordéy Kárpych! Don't trifle with a mother's
heart! Stop! You've fairly staggered me!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Wife, you know me! And you, Afrikán Savvich, don't be
uneasy: with me saying is doing!

KÓRSHUNOV. You have promised--then keep your word. [_Rises, goes to the
girls, and speaks to them in a low voice._

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_Goes to her father_] Father, I will never take a step
against your will. But have pity on me, poor girl that I am! Don't ruin my
young life!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. You're a fool, and don't understand your own happiness!
You'll live in Moscow like a lady; you'll ride in a coach. In the first
place, you'll live in the city--and not in a wilderness like this! In the
second place, these are my orders!

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. I dare not disobey your command. Father! [_Bows down to
his feet_] Don't make me unhappy for my whole life! Relent, father! Make me
do whatever you like, only don't compel me to marry a man I don't love!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. I never take back my word. [_Rises._

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. As you wish, father! [_Bows and goes to her mother._

KÓRSHUNOV. There, that business is over! Now, then, girls--a marriage song!

    GIRLS. [_Sing_] "The flowers in the garden will wither all about me,
    The blue flower in the meadow will be faded and forlorn;
    And so will my darling of the red cheeks without me;
    So rise up early, mother, in the morn.
    You must water all the flowers
    In the dawn and evening hours
    With water very often and with bitter tears in showers."

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Not that, not that! Sing another!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Let's go into the reception-room, Afrikán Savvich. Wife,
all of you, come there!

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Where can I hide myself!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Arína, bring along the wine!

ARÍNA. Oh, wait, I can't attend to you now! My darling child! Girls, my
dearies! Here's the song we'll sing. [_She sings._

    "Thou art my own, my mother,
    Who grievest day by day,
    And at night to God dost pray.
    Thou who art so downcast,
    Look but once on her here,
    Thy daughter who was so dear--
    For the last time--the last."

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. For the last time.

_At the end of this song_ GORDÉY KÁRPYCH _and_ KÓRSHUNOV _go out;_ LYUBÓV
GORDÉYEVNA _remains in the embrace of her mother, surrounded by her


_A small room in the house of_ TORTSÓV, _furnished with cupboards of
various sorts; chests and shelves with plates and silver. Furniture: sofas,
armchairs, and tables, all very expensive and crowded together. Usually
this room is used as a sort of sitting-room for the mistress of the
house, where she directs her household, and where she receives her guests
informally. One door leads into the room where the guests are dining, and
the other into the inner rooms._


ARÍNA _is seated on a chair near the door leading into the dining-room;
near her are several girls and women._

ARÍNA. [_Looking into the dining-room_] I didn't expect this, my dear
friends! I never thought to see it! He fell upon us like a hawk--like snow
on the head; he seized our darling swan from the flock of her dear ones,
from father, from mother, from kinsfolk, and from friends. We didn't
realize what was happening. What things happen in this world of ours!
Nowadays people are double-faced and sly, crafty, and cunning. He fairly
befogged Gordéy Kárpych with this and that in his old age, and he began
to hanker after his wealth. They have engaged our lovely beauty to a
disgusting old man. Now she is sitting there, my darling, broken-hearted!
Oh, I'm ready to die! After I have brought you up and nursed you, and
carried you in my arms! I cared for you like a little bird--in cotton wool!
Just now she and I were talking it over together. "We won't give you up, my
child," I said, "to a common man! Only if some prince comes from foreign
lands, and blows his trumpet at our door." But things didn't turn out our
way. Now there he sits--the man who is going to tear her away--fat and
flabby! Staring and smirking at her! He likes it! Oh, confound you! Well,
now they've finished eating and are getting up; I must set to work.

_Rises from her chair; the women go out;_ PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA _comes in._



PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Come along, Arinushka, and help me to get the table
ready. Yes, I'll sit down and rest--I'm tired.

ARÍNA. Of course you are tired, my dear! Day in, day out, on your feet! You
aren't as young as you were once!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. [_Seating herself on the sofa_] Oh! Tell them to send
the big samovar to the maids' room--the very biggest; and find Annushka and
send her to me.

ARÍNA. Certainly, certainly.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Yes, go along! Go along! Oh, I can't stand it! [ARÍNA
_goes out_] My head's fairly splitting! Nothing but sorrow--and here comes
more trouble! Yes, yes, I'm worried to death! Oh, oh, oh! I'm tired out,
absolutely tired out! I've a lot to do, and my head's just spinning. I'm
needed here, and I'm needed there, and I don't know what to begin on!
Really--yes--[_Sits and tries to think_] What a husband for her! What a
husband! Oh, oh, oh! How can you expect her to love him! Do you think she
is hankering after his money? She is a girl now--in the bloom of youth--and
I suppose her heart beats now and then! What she ought to have now is a
man she can love--even if he's poor--that would be life! That would be

ANNA IVÁNOVNA _comes in._



PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Here are the keys of the tea cupboard. Go along and
pour it out for the guests, and do everything that is necessary--you know
yourself! I've walked my legs off! But you don't mind it; you're young
yet--yes, go and serve them.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. I'd just as soon as not. It's no great work; my hands won't
wear out!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. There--there's the tea in the cupboard, in the little
red caddy.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA _unlocks the door and takes out the caddy._ MÍTYA _comes in._


_The same and_ MÍTYA

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. What do you want, Mítya dear?

MÍTYA. [_Keeping back his tears_] I--I--Pelagéya Egórovna, for all your
kindness, and for all your consideration--even though it may be I am not
worth it--seeing that while I was an orphan--you never deserted me--and
like a mother--I will be thankful to you all my life, and will always pray
to God for you. [_Bows down to her feet._

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. But what are you doing, Mítya?

MÍTYA. I thank you for everything. And now good-by, Pelagéya Egórovna.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Where are you going?

MÍTYA. I plan to go to my mother's.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Are you going for long?

MÍTYA. Yes, I asked the master for a vacation, and it's most likely that
I'll stay there for good.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. But why do you wish to leave us, Mítya?

MÍTYA. [Hesitating] Why, I just!--You see--I've already decided.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. But when are you going?

MÍTYA. To-night. [_Is silent_] I thought to myself that I shouldn't see you
before to-night, and so I came to say good-by.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Very well, Mítya, if you are needed there--we won't keep
you; God be with you! Good-by!

MÍTYA. [_Bows down to the feet of _PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA, _exchanges kisses
with her and with_ ANNA IVÁNOVNA; _then bows again and waits_] Might I be
allowed to say good-by to Lyubóv Gordéyevna? You see we have lived in the
same house--maybe I shall die before I see her again!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Yes, you must, you must. Say good-by to her, of course!
Annushka, go and fetch Lyubóv.

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. [_Shaking her head_] "One man leads her by one hand, another
by the other, a third stands and sheds tears; he loved her, but did not get



PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Oh, Mítya, my dear! What trouble we are in! How can we
drive it away--get rid of it--I cannot think. It's as if a thunderbolt had
struck me! I can't recover myself.

MÍTYA. You have no one to blame but yourself for your unhappiness, Pelagéya
Egórovna; you are marrying her off yourself, ma'am.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Yes, we are doing it ourselves; we are marrying her off
ourselves! Only it's not with my consent, Mítya! If I had my way, do you
think I'd give her up? Do you think I'm her enemy?

MÍTYA. He's a man--from what I hear--not a very great catch! There's
nothing good to be heard of him--except what's bad.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. I know, Mítya dear, I know.

MÍTYA. Well, from all accounts, I must say this, that most likely Lyubóv
Gordéyevna, married to such a man, and living far away from you, will
absolutely perish--no doubt of it.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Oh, don't speak of it to me, don't speak of it! I'm
distracted enough about it without your saying anything. I've worn my eyes
out with gazing at her! If I could only look at her enough to last me
forever! It's as if I were getting ready to bury her.

MÍTYA. [Nearly weeping] How can such things happen? How can people do such
things? She's your own daughter, I suppose!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. If she weren't my own, then I shouldn't be weeping and
wailing, and my heart wouldn't be breaking over her tears.

MÍTYA. Why weep? It would be better not to marry her. Why are you ruining
the girl's life, and giving her into slavery? Isn't this a sin? You will
have to answer for it to God.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. I know, I know it all, but I tell you, Mítya, it's
not my doing. Why do you keep on blaming me? It's horrible enough for me
without your talking about it, and you stir me up still more. Mítya, you
should pity me!

MÍTYA. It's true, Pelagéya Egórovna, but I can't endure this sorrow. Maybe
it's worse for me than for you! I trust you so much, Pelagéya Egórovna,
that I will open my heart to you as if you were my own mother. [_Dries his
eyes with his handkerchief_] Yesterday evening, when you were having the
evening party. [_Tears prevent him from speaking_]

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Well, well, tell me, tell me!

MÍTYA. Well, then, she and I made a compact in the dark, that we would go
together to you and to Gordéy Kárpych, and beg you humbly; we were going to
say: "Give us your blessing; we cannot live without each other any longer."
[_Dries his tears_] And now suddenly, this morning, I heard--and my arms
just dropped by my side!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. What are you saying?

MÍTYA. I swear it, Pelagéya Egórovna, in the name of the Lord!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Oh, my dear boy! What a luck-less lad you are, now that
I know all!




PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Here, Lyubóv dear! Mítya has come to say good-by; he is
going away from here to his mother's.

MÍTYA. [Bows] Good-by, Lyubóv Gordéyevna! Don't bear me any ill will!

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Good-by, Mítya! [_Bows_]

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Kiss each other good-by; it may be that God will not let
you see each other again. Well, never mind! [_MÍTYA and LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA
kiss each other; she seats herself on the sofa and weeps; MÍTYA also
weeps_] Stop, stop your weeping! you will drive me wild!

MÍTYA. Oh, I'll risk everything now; everything in the world! [_Goes to
PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA_] Pelagéya Egórovna, are you sorry to marry your daughter
to an old man, or not?

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. If I weren't sorry, I shouldn't be crying.

MÍTYA. Will you permit me to speak, Pelagéya Egórovna?


MÍTYA. This is what I have to say: Get her ready and put on her warm
clothes. Let her slip out quietly; I'll seat her in my fairy sleigh, and
that's the last of us. Then the old man will never see her any more than
his own ears! And no matter if I do go to ruin! I will take her to my
mother and there we will get married. Oh, just give us a chance! I want
some joy in life! At any rate, if I have to pay the price, at least I shall
know that I've really lived.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. What do you mean? What do you mean, you scamp?

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. What an idea, Mítya!

MÍTYA. So you don't love me? Or have you ceased to love me?

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. What you say is dreadful!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. What an idea, you scamp! Who would dare to take such a
sin on his soul? Yes, come to your senses! What are you thinking of?

MÍTYA. Why, I said if you're sorry! But if you're not sorry--then give
her to Afrikán Savvich; sell her into slavery forever and ever. You'll be
miserable yourselves when you see her wretched life; you'll come to your
senses, you and Gordéy Kárpych, but then it will be too late.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. But how could you, without her father's blessing? How
could you? Judge for yourself!

MÍTYA. Certainly, how could we live without a blessing! Then you bless us,
Pelagéya Egórovna. [_Kneels down_] and Gordéy Kárpych, it may be--himself,
in time--somehow---

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. What can I say to you? I feel altogether
distracted.--Yes, I'm going out of my mind! I don't know anything! I don't
remember anything! Yes, yes, my head spins. Oh, my darlings, my heart is

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. _Goes to MÍTYA_] No, Mítya, this can't be! Don't torture
yourself for nothing; stop! [Raises him up] Don't tear my soul! Already my
heart is all withered away within me! God be with you; good-by!

MÍTYA. Why did you deceive me and mock at me?

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Don't, Mítya! Why should I deceive you? Why? I fell in
love with you; so I told you, myself. But now we must not go against the
will of our parents. For it is the will of my father that I should marry; I
must submit to him--that is a girl's lot. It must be that that's the right
thing since it was so ordained of old. I don't want to go against my
father; I don't wish people to talk about me and make an example of me.
Although it may be I have broken my heart because of this--at any rate I
know that I am acting according to law; no one will dare to look me in the
face and jeer. Good-by! [_They kiss_]

MÍTYA. Well, now I know my fate! [_LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA seats herself on the
sofa and weeps_] Good-by! [_Bows to PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA_] Good-by, Pelagéya
Egórovna, you have been my benefactress! So long as I live I shall not
forget your goodness and kindness to me; you did not forget the orphan in a
strange land.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Good-by, my dear; do not blame us in any way--that would
be a sin for you. God grant that you may live happily; we shall not forget
you. MÍTYA _bows and goes out_.



PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. How I pity that boy, Lyubóv dear! Oh, my child, oh,
dear! It never entered my head that you loved him. How could I guess
it, poor old woman that I am! What do I amount to? There, crying is our
business, and I haven't any authority over my daughter! But it would be a
good idea! I'd enjoy the sight of you in my old age. The boy is such an
honest fellow, with such a tender heart, and he would be fond of me in my
old age. And as I look at you, my child, how can you help being sad? And I
have no way to help you, my darling!

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Well, mother, what's the use of thinking about what's
impossible, and only torturing ourselves?

_Seats herself and is silent; some one knocks; the voice of KÓRSHUNOV is
heard,_ "May I come in?"

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Come in, sir. KÓRSHUNOV. [_Entering_] Ah, there she is,
my bride! Where were you hiding yourself? He, he! I'll find you, I'll
find you anywhere. If you please, Pelagéya Egórovna, permit me to talk
confidentially with your daughter about our own affairs.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Certainly. [_Goes out_. KÓRSHUNOV. [_Seats himself near_
LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA] What are you crying about, young lady? For shame, for
shame! He, he, he! There! I'm older than you, and I don't cry. [_Looks at
her searchingly_] Oh, well, I know what it's about! I suppose you want to
marry a young fellow? Now, this, my pretty one [_takes her hand and kisses
it_] is just girlish folly. Now, just listen to what I'm going to tell you;
I'll tell you the truth straight out. I don't like to deceive any one, and
have no need to. Will you listen, eh?


KÓRSHUNOV. Good! Now, we'll begin with this point. Will a young man
appreciate your love? Any girl will love a young man; that is nothing
unusual for him; but to an old man it is precious. An old man will reward
you for your love with some little gift, this and that--with gold, and with
velvet--and there's nothing he won't give you. [_Kisses her hand_] And in
Moscow there are lots of nice things in the shops; there are things worth
giving! So it's nice to fall in love with an old man. That's number one for
you! And then this is what happens with a young and good-looking husband.
You see they are a fickle lot! Before you know it he will be running after
some one else, or some young lady will fall in love with him, and then his
wife may pine away. Then come reproaches and jealousy. And what is this
jealousy, eh? He, he, he! Do you know, young lady, what this jealousy is?

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. No, I don't know.

KÓRSHUNOV. But I know! It isn't like a needle prick in the finger; it's
far more painful than that. You see the cursed thing consumes a man. From
jealousy people stab one another, and poison one another with arsenic!
[_Laughs spasmodically and coughs_] But when any one falls in love with an
old man, then all is peaceful for his wife. And here's something else I
will tell you, my dear young lady: Young men like to go on sprees; they
like gayety and distraction, and all sorts of dissipations, and their wives
may sit at home and wait for them till midnight. And they come home drunk,
and bully their wives, and swagger. But an old man will just sit near his
wife; he'll die before he'll leave her. And he would like to look into her
eyes all the time and to caress her and to kiss her hands. [_Kisses them_]
Just like that.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Did your deceased wife love you?

KÓRSHUNOV. [_Looks at her attentively_] And why do you ask this, young

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. I just wanted to know.

KÓRSHUNOV. You wanted to know? [_Rises_] No, she didn't love me, and I
didn't love her either. She wasn't worth loving--I took her, poor, a
beggar, just for her beauty; I took care of her whole family; I saved her
father from prison; she went about in gold.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Love cannot be bought with gold.

KÓRSHUNOV. Whether you love a man or not, you ought to show him some
regard. They needed money, they had nothing to live on; I gave it to them,
I didn't refuse. And _I_ needed their love. Had I a right to exact this or
not? You see I paid money for it! It's a sin to make complaints about me.
Whoever I love has a good living in the world, and if I don't love any one,
then he need not reproach me. [_He becomes excited and walks about_] Yes,
I'm that man's enemy; he'd better keep out of my sight! My words and looks,
more than my deeds, shall pursue him! I won't give the man room to breathe!
I--[_Stops and bursts out laughing_] And you really thought that I was such
a cross man? He, he! I said it in fun, for a joke! I'm a simple, kind old
man! I'll dandle you in my arms [_hums_]; I'll rock you in a little cradle;
I'll sing you to sleep. [_Kisses her hands_.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH _comes in._



GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Ah, so that's where my son-in-law is! We've been looking
for you. We've already started in on the champagne. Come along to the
guests; at our house a feast isn't a feast without you.

KÓRSHUNOV. I like it here.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Then we'll order it to be served here, and we'll drink it
with you. [_Walks to the door_] Hey, boy, serve the wine here! On a silver
tray! [_Sits down_] Now, son-in-law, what do you say?


GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. How, nothing?

KÓRSHUNOV. Just nothing.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. But don't you really? [_Looks at him_] Can you understand
me now?

KÓRSHUNOV. Why shouldn't I understand you?

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Now we've had this little spree! So now you tell me, what
sort of a man I am. Can they appreciate me here?

KÓRSHUNOV. Why should they appreciate you?

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. No, tell me this: Isn't everything well done here? In other
houses a young fellow waits at table in a Russian smock, or there's a
peasant girl; but in my house there's a butler in cotton gloves.
This butler is a trained man, from Moscow; he knows all the ways of
society--where each man should be seated, and what's to be done. But how is
it at other people's houses? They collect in one room, they sit down in a
ring, and sing peasant songs. Of course it's jolly, but I consider it's
vulgar; there's no style about it. And what do they drink in their
boorishness? Home-made cordials, all sorts of cherry water! And they don't
even _know_ that champagne is the proper thing! Oh, if I could live in
Moscow, or in Petersburg, I'd make a point of following every fashion.

KÓRSHUNOV. You don't mean every fashion?

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Every one. As long as my money held out, I wouldn't
stint myself. You just look out, Lyubóv; you toe the mark! Or else your
bridegroom--you see he's from Moscow--may be ashamed of you. I suppose you
don't even know how to walk gracefully, and you don't understand how to
talk as is proper in company.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. I say what I feel, father; I wasn't brought up in a

_The butler enters, and gives wine to KÓRSHUNOV and GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. He
places the bottles on the table, and goes out._

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. That's it, son-in-law! Just let them know what sort of man
Gordéy Kárpych Tortsóv is!

_EGÓRUSHKA comes in._

EGÓRUSHKA. Uncle Gordéy Kárpych, come here, if you please.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. What's the matter with you?

EGÓRUSHKA. Come, please: there's such a scene! [_Laughs_]

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. [_Approaching_] What's the matter?

EGÓRUSHKA. Uncle Lyubím Kárpych has come in.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Why did they let him in?

EGÓRUSHKA. It must be that he just took it into his head; we can't stop
him, anyhow. [_Bursts out laughing._]

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. What's he doing?

EGÓRUSHKA. He's turning out the guests. [_Bursts out laughing_] "You're
glad to eat another man's bread," says he. "I'm also the host," says he.
"I," says he---- [_Bursts out laughing._]

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Sh--he's ruined me!

[_Goes out with EGÓRUSHKA._]

KÓRSHUNOV. What's all this about?

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. I don't know. It must be that uncle is--Sometimes he
takes a notion.




PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. [_At the door_] Where is your brother? Where is Lyubím
Kárpych? What has he done? Oh, misery!

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. He isn't here, mother.


RAZLYULYÁYEV. There you are! Lyubím Kárpych is playing some famous tricks!
Ha, ha, ha! He's cutting up such capers, it beats all!

LÍZA. It isn't at all funny, it's just rude!

MÁSHA. I simply didn't know what to do from embarrassment.

_They seat themselves on the sofa._ LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH _comes in._


_The same and_ LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH

LÍZA. Oh, good heavens, again!

MÁSHA. This is terrible!


LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Gurr, gurr, gurr; bul, bul, bul! With the finger nine! With
the cucumber fifteen! How do, friend! [_Holds out his hand to_ KÓRSHUNOV]
My respects! I haven't seen you for a thousand years and a day! How are

KÓRSHUNOV. Oh, is this you, Lyubím?

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. [_Covering his face with his hands_] I'm not I, and the
horse is not mine, and I'm not a coachman.

KÓRSHUNOV. I remember you, brother! You used to roam the town and pick up

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. You remember how I used to pick up kopeks, but do you
remember how you and I used to go on sprees together? How we sat through
the dark autumn nights, and how we skipped back and forth, from the tavern
to the wine-shop? And don't you know who ruined me, and who turned me out
with a beggar's wallet?

KÓRSHUNOV. Why didn't you look out for yourself? Nobody dragged you in by
the collar, my dear fellow. It's your own fault.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. I was a fool! But, well, _you_ haven't much to be proud of!
You raised me to such heights, you promoted me to such a place--I've stolen
nothing, and yet I'm ashamed to look men in the eyes!

KÓRSHUNOV. You're the same old joker as ever! [_Turning to_ LYUBÓV
GORDÉYEVNA] You've got a jolly uncle! For old acquaintance sake, we'll
surely have to give him a ruble.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Sh! It's not a question of rubles here! Pay up your old
debts, and for my niece here a million three hundred thousand! I won't sell
her cheaper.

KÓRSHUNOV. [_Laughing_] Won't you come down?

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Not a kopek!

RAZLYULYÁYEV. Aha, Lyubím Kárpych! Don't you take any less!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH _comes in._


The same with GORDÉY KÁRPYCH

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. So you are here! What are you doing in my house? Clear out!

KÓRSHUNOV. Wait a bit, Gordéy Kárpych; don't turn him out! Why turn him
out? Let him show off and make jokes. He, he, he!

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. It's my brother that's joking, in giving his daughter to
you, but I'll play such a joke on you as won't suit your stomach!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. This isn't the place for him. Get out!

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Wait, brother, don't turn me out! Do you think Lyubím
Tortsóv has come to make jokes? Do you think Lyubím Tortsóv is drunk? I
have come to you to ask riddles. [_To KÓRSHUNOV_] Why has an ass long ears?
Now, then, give us an answer?

RAZLYULYÁYEV. That's a hard one!

KÓRSHUNOV. How do I know?

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. So that all may know that he is an ass. [_To his brother_]
Here's a riddle for you! To whom are you marrying your daughter?

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. That's not your affair! You've no business to ask me.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. And here's another question for you. Are you an honest
merchant, or not? If you are honest, don't associate with a dishonest one.
You can't touch soot and not be defiled.

KÓRSHUNOV. Joke away--but don't forget yourself, my dear fellow! Turn him
out, or make him keep quiet.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. That meant you! One can see you are as clean as a

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Brother, go away quietly, or it will be the worse for you.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. [_Starting up in a fright_] Uncle, stop!

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. I won't be quiet! Now blood has begun to talk! _All the
domestics and guests enter._



LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Listen, good people! They are insulting Lyubím Tortsóv,
they are driving him away. But am I not a guest too? Why should they drive
me away? My clothes are not clean, but I have a clean conscience! I'm not
Kórshunov; I didn't rob the poor, I didn't ruin another's life, I didn't
torment my wife with jealousy. Me they drive away, but he's their most
esteemed guest, and he's put in the place of honor. Well, never mind!
They'll give him another wife. My brother is marrying his daughter to him!
Ha, ha, ha! [_Laughs tragically_]

KÓRSHUNOV. [_Jumps up_] Don't believe him; he lies! He says this out of
spite to me. He's drunk!

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. How out of spite? I pardoned you long ago. I'm a man of
small account, a crawling worm, the lowest of the low! But don't you do
evil to others.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. [_To the servants_] Take him away!

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. [_Holding up one finger_] Sh, don't touch me! It's an easy
life in this world for a man whose eyes are shameless! Oh, men, men! Lyubím
Tortsóv is a drunkard, but he's better than you! Here, now, I'll go away of
my own accord. [_Turning to the crowd_] Make way--Lyubím Tortsóv is going!
[_Goes, and suddenly turns round_] Unnatural monster!     [_Goes out_]

KÓRSHUNOV. [_Laughing in a forced way_] So that's the way you keep order
in your house! That's how you follow the fashions! At your house drunkards
insult the guests! He, he, he! "I," says he, "shall go to Moscow; here they
don't understand me!" Such fools are almost extinct in Moscow! They laugh
at 'em there! "Son-in-law, son-in-law!" He, he, he! "Dear father-in-law!"
No, humbug, I won't let myself be insulted for nothing. No, you come along
and bow down to me! Beg me to take your daughter!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. You think I'll bow down to you?

KÓRSHUNOV. Yes, you will; I know you! You want a fine wedding. You'd hang
yourself if only to astonish the town! But nobody wants her! How unlucky
for you! He, he he!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. After you've said such words as these I won't have anything
more to do with you! I never bowed down to any one in my life! If it comes
to this, I'll marry her to any man I choose. With the money that I shall
give as her dowry any man will---- _MÍTYA comes in, and stops in the


_The same and MÍTYA_

MÍTYA. [_Turning towards the crowd_] What's all this noise?

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Here, I'll marry her to Mítya!

MÍTYA. What, sir?

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Silence! Yes--I'll marry her to Mítya--to-morrow! And I'll
give her such a wedding as you never saw! I'll get musicians from Moscow!
I'll ride alone in four coaches!

KÓRSHUNOV. We'll see, we'll see! You'll come to ask my pardon, you will!
[_Goes out_.


_The same without_ KÓRSHUNOV

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. To whom, Gordéy Kárpych, did you say?

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. To Mítya--Yes! What airs he put on! As if I were worse than
he! "You'll come and bow down!" He lies! I won't go and bow down! Just to
spite him I'll marry her to Dmitry. [_All are astonished_. MÍTYA. [_Takes_
LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA _by the hand and goes to_ GORDÉY KÁRPYCH] Why out of
spite, Gordéy Kárpych? One does not do such things out of spite. I don't
want you to do it out of spite. I'd rather suffer torment all my life. If
you are kind enough, then give us your blessing as is proper, in a fatherly
fashion, with love. Because we love each other, and even before this
happened, we wanted to confess our guilt to you. And now I'll be a true son
to you forever, with all my heart.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. What, what, "with all your heart"? You're glad of the
chance! But how did you ever dare to think of it? Is she your equal?
Remember to whom you're talking.

MÍTYA. I know very well that you are my master, and that I, because of my
poverty, cannot be her equal; but however, think as you please. Here I am;
I've fallen in love with your daughter with all my heart and soul.

           LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH _comes in and takes his stand in the crowd._


_The same and_ LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. Well, how could you help loving her? Your taste isn't bad!
And you'll get plenty of money with her, which is fine for a penniless
fellow like you--without a rag to your back!

MÍTYA. It is so insulting for me to hear this from you, that I have no
words. Better keep silent. [_Walks away_] If you please, Lyubóv Gordéyevna,
you speak.

LYUBÓV GORDÉYEVNA. Father, I have never gone against your will! If you wish
for my happiness, then give me to Mítya.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Why, why, really, Gordéy Kárpych, why do you keep
changing your mind so? Why do you? I was beginning to feel happy; my heart
was just beginning to feel easy, and now you begin again. Do stick to
something; otherwise what does all this mean? Really! First you say to one
man, and then to the other! Was she born your daughter just to be a martyr?

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. [_From the crowd_] Brother, give Lyubóv to Mítya!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. You here again! Do you understand what you've done to me
to-day? You've put me to shame before the whole town! If you felt this you
wouldn't dare to show yourself in my sight--and then you slink in and give
me advice! If it were only a man talking and not you.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. You'd better bow down to Lyubím Tortsóv's feet, just
because he has put you to shame.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. That's it, dear Lyubím! We ought to bow down to your
feet; that's just it! You have taken a great sin from our souls; all our
prayers could never have freed us from this sin.

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. What, am I a monster to my own family?

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. You're no monster, but you would have ruined your
daughter through your own folly; I tell you this straight out! They marry
girls to old men who are a lot better than Afrikán Savvich, and even so
they live miserable lives.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Permit me! [_Sings_] Tum-ty-tum, tum-ty-tum! [_Dances_]
Look at me, here's an example for you! Lyubím Kárpych stands before you
large as life! He went along that road, he knows what it is! And I was rich
and respected, I drove about in coaches, I played such pranks as would
never come into your head; and then head over heels down. Just see what a
dandy I am!

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. No matter what you say to me, I don't want to listen; you
are my enemy for the rest of my life.

LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Are you a man, or a wild beast? Have pity on Lyubím
Tortsóv! [_Kneels down_] Brother, give Lyubóv to Mítya--he will give me a
corner. I was chilled and hungry. I was growing old, and it was hard for
me to play the fool in the cold for a piece of bread; at least in one's
old age one wants to live decently. You see I've been cheating people,
I've been begging alms, and have spent it in drink. They'll give me work,
and then I'll have my kettle of soup. Then I'll thank God, brother; even
my tears will reach to heaven. What if he is poor, eh? If I had been poor,
I should have been a man. Poverty is no crime.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Gordéy Kárpych, haven't you any feelings?

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. [_Wiping away a tear_] And you really thought that I
hadn't? [_Lifts up his brother_] Well, brother, thank you for bringing me
back to reason; I almost went out of my mind completely. I don't know how
such a rotten notion got into my head. [_Embraces_ MÍTYA _and_ LYUBÓV
GORDÉYEVNA] Now, children, say thank you to your Uncle Lyubím Kárpych, and
live in happiness.

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA _embraces the children._

GÚSLIN. Uncle, may I speak now?

GORDÉY KÁRPYCH. You may, you may! Ask for whatever you want, every one of
you! Now I have become another man.

GÚSLIN. Well, Annushka, it's our turn now!

ANNA IVÁNOVNA. Well, now, we'll have a dance; only hold your hat on!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Yes, let's dance, let's dance!

RAZLYULYÁYEV. [_Goes to_ MÍTYA _and slaps him on the shoulder_] Mítya! For
a friend I give up everything! I loved her myself, but for you--I give her
up. Give me your hand. [_Clasps his hand_] That's all--take her; I give her
up to you! For a friend I don't regret anything! That's the way we do it
when it comes to the point! [_Wipes away his tears with the lappet of
his coat and kisses_ MÍTYA] He told the truth then; drunkenness is no
crime--well, I mean--poverty is no crime. I always make slips!

PELAGÉYA EGÓROVNA. Oh, yes, here they all are! [_To the girls_] Now, then,
girls, a jolly song! Yes, a jolly one! Now we'll celebrate the wedding with
all our hearts! With all our hearts! [_The girls begin to sing._

    LYUBÍM KÁRPYCH. Sh! Obey orders! _He sings; the girls join in._
   "We have done the business;
    All the trade is driven.
    The betrothal we will plight,
    And upon the wedding night
    A fine feast shall be given."




VALENTÍN PÁVLYCH BABÁYEV[1], _a young landowner_

[Footnote 1: womanish]

LEV RODIÓNYCH KRASNÓV, _a shopkeeper, about thirty years of age_

TATYÁNA DANÍLOVNA (_called_ TÁNYA), _his wife_

LUKÉRYA DANÍLOVNA ZHMIGÚLIN (_called,_ LÚSHA), _her sister, an old maid and
daughter of a government clerk now dead._

ARKHÍP, _blind old man, grandfather of_ KRASNÓV

AFÓNYA (AFANÁSY), _invalid boy about eighteen years of age, brother of_

MANÚYLO KALÍNYCH KÚRITSYN, _flour dealer about forty-five years of age_


SHISHGÁLEV, _government clerk_

ZÁYCHIKHA (_called PROKÓFYEVNA_), _landlady of the lodgings taken by_

KARP, BABÁYEV'_s attendant

The action takes place in a district town_.




_A room, cheaply papered, shabbily furnished; in the rear two doors, one
opening on the street, the other leading into an adjoining room; the
windows are hung with chintz curtains._


_KARP is unfastening a valise, and ZÁYCHIKHA (PROKÓFYEVNA) is looking out
of the window._

PROKÓFYEVNA. Just look, dear sir, how many people have gathered.

KARP. What do they want? Why are they curious?

PROKÓFYEVNA. Every one, dear sir, wishes to know who it is that has

KARP. They say you're provincials, and you certainly are provincials. Well,
tell them that it's Babáyev, Valentin Pávlich, a landowner.

PROKÓFYEVNA. [_Speaking through the window_] Babáyev, a landowner. [_To
KARP_] They're asking why you came.

KARP. On business, of course. Did you think we came here for sport? Much
chance there would be for that here.

PROKÓFYEVNA. [_Through the window_] For business. [_To KARP_] Will you
remain long?

KARP. We certainly haven't come to settle here. We may stay two days; not
longer, you may be sure.

PROKÓFYEVNA. [_Through the window_] For two days. [_Withdraws from the
window_] Now I've satisfied them. In five minutes the entire city will

KARP. Your lodging is all right; it's clean.

PROKÓFYEVNA. Certainly it's clean, sir. No great frills, but it's clean. Of
course there's no great travelling to our town.

KARP. It isn't on the highway.

PROKÓFYEVNA. Highway, not much! Yet the best people that do come here,
lodge with me. I know a lot of the landowners who come here. They are used
to me; very few of them ever go to the hotel.

KARP. Because it's so noisy.

PROKÓFYEVNA. Yes, I should say so! Down-stairs is a bar-room; and on market
days the noise is dreadful. Please tell me, wasn't your master's mother
Sofya Pavlovna, the wife of General Babáyev?

KARP. Exactly so.

PROKÓFYEVNA. Is their estate called Zavetnoye?

KARP. Yes.

PROKÓFYEVNA. So, so. I recognized him just now. I used to see him as a
youngster. He often rode to town with his mother, and they would call on
me. Does he live in the country?

KARP. No, we are most of the time in St. Petersburg; but now we have come
to the country to arrange business matters.

PROKÓFYEVNA. So, so. But is he a good man to deal with?

KARP. Pretty good.

PROKÓFYEVNA. Well, thank the Lord! May He reward him! What business brought
you to our town?

KARP. Oh, those endless legal matters. Petty business, something to bear
witness to; but I suppose he'll waste five days over it.

PROKÓFYEVNA. It wouldn't be surprising. Have you called on the judges?

KARP. Yes, we called on them all. Just now they sent us a clerk from court.

PROKÓFYEVNA. They'll probably do it quicker for you than for us. If you
need anything, knock on the wall, and I'll come. [_Goes out_.

BABÁYEV _and_ SHISHGÁLEV _enter at the side door_.



BABÁYEV. So you say, my dear sir, that it is absolutely impossible?

SHISHGÁLEV. [_Bowing and continually blowing his nose and covering his
mouth with his hand_] But, believe me, sir, if it were at all possible we
should have----

BABÁYEV. Maybe it is possible?

SHISHGÁLEV. Judge for yourself, sir. Now the court session has ended, it
is quite impossible to assemble the members; to-morrow is a holiday--then
comes Saturday and then Sunday.

BABÁYEV. Just think, my dear sir, how you are treating me!

SHISHGÁLEV. How am I to blame? I'm the humblest sort of man.

BABÁYEV. But, my dear sir, what shall I do here for the next four days? It
is dreadful!

SHISHGÁLEV. You can look around, sir, and take a glance at our city.

KARP. What's the use of looking at it? What is there to see here? I suppose
you'll say that St. Petersburg is not as fine a city as yours.

BABÁYEV. Have you any kind of social life?

SHISHGÁLEV. I beg pardon, sir?

BABÁYEV. I said, have you any social life, any sort of club, entertainment
with music, or parties?

SHISHGÁLEV. No, we haven't.

BABÁYEV. But where do the members of the court and the rest of them spend
their time?

SHISHGÁLEV. They usually spend it together.

BABÁYEV. How together?

SHISHGÁLEV. Every day is assigned. For instance, to-day they are with the
prefect, to-morrow with the judge, day after to-morrow with the attorney;
then with the farmer of the spirit tax, and next with the retired police
captain--and so all the week goes by.

BABÁYEV. At what time do they meet?

SHISHGÁLEV. About six o'clock.

BABÁYEV. What do they do then?

SHISHGÁLEV. They play preference.

BABÁYEV. And what else, certainly not only preference?

SHISHGÁLEV. That's the truth, just preference. But usually they have tables
with drinks and refreshments--just as it should be. They play, and then
they take a bite, and so they pass the time.

BABÁYEV. And do they all drink, from six o'clock on?

SHISHGÁLEV. Oh, no, by no means! Only the dealer, or some one who has to
pay a fine.

BABÁYEV. Then, my dear sir, I can't help it. I've got to wait.

SHISHGÁLEV. Just wait awhile, sir. On Monday you will please appear in
court, and we'll arrange the matter without delay.

BABÁYEV. Very well, I will be in court on Monday. But you'll have some
writing to do for me. Then I'll give you--as is proper--I don't like any
one to labor for me for nothing.

SHISHGÁLEV. My family is large, Your Honor----

BABÁYEV. What's that?

SHISHGÁLEV. Do have the kindness to bestow a little something----

BABÁYEV. Really, I don't know; how's that? How much do you want?

KARP. Give him one ruble, sir; that'll be enough for him.

BABÁYEV. [_Giving the money_] Here you are--I'm really ashamed.

SHISHGÁLEV. [_Depositing the coin in his pocket_] Not at all. I thank you
heartily; I wish you all good fortune. [_Goes out_.



BABÁYEV. How rude you are, Karp.

KARP. If you begin to be sentimental with 'em, sir, they'll get the habit
of calling around here and bewailing their fate. No amount of money will
suffice 'em. They're a godless crowd.

BABÁYEV. Well, what'll I do? I'd like to go for a walk, but it's still hot.
Karp, what shall I do?

KARP. I'll tell you what, go to sleep; after travelling it's a good thing.

BABÁYEV. But what shall I do at night?

KARP. At night just the same. They say people sleep when they're bored.

BABÁYEV. How stupid I was not to bring any books. If I only had some
frivolous intrigue to amuse myself with for four days.
                                 [_Goes out through the side door._]

KARP. So that's what you wish! An intrigue! That's his style! He was his
mother's spoiled darling and he was raised with young ladies and in the
housemaids' room, and he has a hankering for that kind of thing now. Since
I've lived in St. Petersburg with him, what things I have seen; it was
shameful! I wonder if he's asleep? I'd like to have a nap. [_He's about to
lie down when the door opens_] Who's that?

LUKÉRYA _comes in._



KARP. What do you want?

LUKÉRYA. Valentin Pávlich.

KARP. What do you want of him?

LUKÉRYA. If I want to see him, of course it must be necessary.

KARP. Do you want help of some sort?

LUKÉRYA. How rude! Aren't you aware that the Zhmigulin ladies were always
welcome at the home of your master's mother? I am also very intimately
acquainted with Valentin Pávlich.

KARP. You are? I doubt it.

LUKÉRYA. Maybe you stupidly misunderstand my words in some way that's
beyond me. [_Sits down_] Your business is to go right off and announce me.

KARP. I tell you he's asleep now.

LUKÉRYA. That can't be, because I've just seen him through the window.

KARP. Well, I see I can't do anything with you; I'll have to announce you.
[_Goes out._]

LUKÉRYA. In these modern times, these new changes have done a lot to spoil
people. He ought to have found out first what my rank was, and then treated
me accordingly. And it's not his business whether I came to ask for aid or
not. To be sure, people of our station are often engaged in that, but not
all. Maybe Valentin Pávlich has become so proud since he has lived in St.
Petersburg that he will not wish to see me. But I'm so anxious to show
every one here what acquaintances we have. I think he didn't disdain us
formerly, especially sister Tánya.

_BABÁYEV comes in._



BABÁYEV. Whom have I the honor of addressing?

LUKÉRYA. I hardly expected, Valentin Pávlich, that you would so soon forget
old acquaintances.

BABÁYEV. Be seated, please. [_Both sit down_] I somehow do not recall.

LUKÉRYA. Of course, nowadays feelings are not in vogue; now it's all
a matter of calculation; but we provincials aren't like you in St.
Petersburg; we remember our former acquaintances, and especially our

BABÁYEV. I agree with you--benefactors should always be remembered.

LUKÉRYA. We are so indebted to your mother that words fail me to express
it. She did so much for the Zhmigulin family.

BABÁYEV. The Zhmigulins?

LUKÉRYA. Especially for sister Tánya and me.

BABÁYEV. [_Rising_] Tánya--Tatyána Danílovna?

LUKÉRYA. Do you remember, now?

BABÁYEV. So you are her sister?

LUKÉRYA. Lukérya Danílovna Zhmigulin.

BABÁYEV. Pardon me, I beg of you.

LUKÉRYA. I'm not in the least offended because you remember my sister more
readily than you do me. She's so beautiful that it's impossible to forget

BABÁYEV. Yes, yes, she was an exceedingly beautiful girl; we were great

LUKÉRYA. I'm aware of that. Who should know it if not I? Being the elder
sister I had to care for the younger.

BABÁYEV. Yes, yes, to be sure. Tell me, if you please, where is she now?
What is she doing?

LUKÉRYA. She's here in the city, married.

BABÁYEV. Married? Does she live happily?

LUKÉRYA. Judge for yourself. She lives in poverty among stupid, ignorant
people. It isn't as it was in your mother's house at Zavetnoye. That was an
earthly paradise! Your mother was the kindest of ladies, and liked to have
everybody happy at her house. There were always lots of young ladies in her
house, and likewise young gentlemen, and they played games from morning
till night. She made even the chambermaids play tag with us and other
games, and she looked on and enjoyed it.

BABÁYEV. Yes, yes, it was but a short time ago. It's no more than three
years since I left for St. Petersburg.

LUKÉRYA. I remember it very well. You left three years ago last carnival
time. Your mother didn't like any of her guests to be moody or to read
books. She would say: "Why, you're spoiling everybody's spirits." Every one
was madly gay for her sake, but in the midst of all that gayety anybody who
had a keen eye could see quite a little.

BABÁYEV. Nothing more natural! Men, girls, and young ladies continually
together--of course they couldn't help falling in love.

LUKÉRYA. You were especially strong in that line. You were continually with
Tánya, and you never left her, so they called you the "doves."

BABÁYEV. One's heart's not a stone, Lukérya Danílovna. Even you
yourself--do you remember the surveyor?

LUKÉRYA. He isn't worth remembering. Later on he behaved in a very
ungentlemanly way to me. But fate has punished him for his lack of courtesy
towards a girl of noble birth. He's now in jail for being drunk and

BABÁYEV. Kindly tell me how it happened that your sister married?

LUKÉRYA. When your mamma died last summer we had absolutely no one left to
help us. Our papa in his old age was of no account in the city. He was a
timid man, and so he didn't get on well. Our father was a clerk in the
Chancery Office, and he received a salary of thirty rubles a year. How
could we live on such a sum? And yet we saw something of society. At first
we were hardly ever at home, and your mamma aided us in many ways. Suddenly
all that stopped, and soon our father died. At that time Tánya received an
offer from--I'm almost ashamed to tell you.

BABÁYEV. Why, what are you ashamed of?

LUKÉRYA. You are receiving me so graciously, and your interest in my sister
makes me feel that our actions have been very uncivil.

BABÁYEV. That can't be helped. Probably it was all due to circumstances.
What are you to blame for?

LUKÉRYA. You can hardly imagine the degree of embarrassment this
relationship causes me. In a word, our circumstances were such that she was
forced to marry a petty shopkeeper.

BABÁYEV. A petty shopkeeper? What kind of shop has he?

LUKÉRYA. A vegetable shop. You can see it from here, the sign reads, "Lev

BABÁYEV. Yes, I noticed it. Is he a good man?

LUKÉRYA. Considering the type, he's a very nice man, and he loves sister
very dearly. Yet there is something so inherently bad about his calling
that, judge as you will, he's still not very far removed from a peasant.
That trait of character, if you boil a man for seven years in a kettle, you
cannot boil out. Yet I must give him credit for taking good care of his
house. He doesn't give himself any rest day or night; he toils hard all
the time. As for my sister, he's willing to give her whatever her heart
desires, even his last kopek, just to please her, so that she does
absolutely nothing, and lives like a lady. But his manners are boorish, and
his conversation embarrasses us very much. Altogether this is not the kind
of happiness I wished for Tánya. Judging by her beauty and the standing
of her former admirers, she should now be riding in a carriage. As it is,
necessity has forced her to marry a peasant, almost for a crust of bread,
and to blush for him whenever she sees anybody.

BABÁYEV. So Tatyána Danílovna has married--I'm sorry.

LUKÉRYA. You needn't feel sorry. She's no match for you.

BABÁYEV. Of course.--Here I am in this city, and owing to circumstances I'm
forced to remain at least four days, and maybe more. What am I going to do?
I'm very much pleased that you have called on me. If it hadn't been for you
I don't know what I should have done with myself. Now, just imagine,
if your sister weren't married, we'd spend these four days so that we
shouldn't know how the time was passing. [_Takes her by the hand_] Isn't
that true?

LUKÉRYA. Who's keeping you from that now?

BABÁYEV. Well, you see it's awkward; being married, what will her husband
think? It's really provoking.

LUKÉRYA. You don't mean it! It seems to me that you used to have different
opinions on such things. You weren't so anxious to know what pleased the
husbands and what didn't.

BABÁYEV. Yes, but that was in an entirely different social circle. There
manners are much more free.

LUKÉRYA. How do you know whether my sister has freedom or hasn't?

BABÁYEV. [_Taking both her hands_] At all events, I'm so glad, so thankful
to you for furnishing me with diversion when I was bored. Don't you want
something? Be good enough to make yourself at home; everything is at your
service. Will you have some tea?

LUKÉRYA. Thank you, I've just had tea. But I must hurry home now. I have to
attend to some matters with sister. Shall I extend her your greetings?

BABÁYEV. Please be so kind.

LUKÉRYA. [_Going to the door_] Why don't you invite sister and me to call
on you?

BABÁYEV. I should be so happy to have you, only I really don't know how to
arrange it. I should like very much to see Tatyána Danílovna.

LUKÉRYA. If you wish to see her, then where's the obstacle? She isn't a
princess imprisoned behind ten locks. You'll go for a walk, no doubt, as
you can't remain in your room?

BABÁYEV. I should like to go, but I hardly know in what direction.

LUKÉRYA. You needn't go far. Stroll out of the rear gate to the river-bank,
sit down on the bench and enjoy the beauty of nature. It's a quiet,
secluded place; few people ever go there. It's a most delightful walk for
sentimental young people. Sister and I will go that way, and there you may
be able to see her. Good day! [_She goes out._

BABÁYEV. What a surprise! Could I have expected such good fortune? Little
Tánya, little Tánya! I shall see her again! I'll go mad with joy. She was
so charming, so delicate. Some people said that she didn't have much sense,
but is that a fault in a woman? And then her beauty, her beauty! It's
likely that instead of four days I'll stay four weeks. [_Goes out._


_The bank of a river; at one side a fence and gate, at the other a corner
of a barn; beyond the river stretches the countryside; sunset._


_Enter_ ARKHÍP _and_ AFÓNYA

AFÓNYA. Grandfather, let's rest here awhile. I feel ill to-day. Sit down
here, on the bench.

ARKHÍP. Very well, Afónya, we'll sit down here. You and I are unfortunate:
age is overcoming me and sickness you.

AFÓNYA. I'm not ailing. I was born so. Grandfather, I shan't live long in
this bright world.

ARKHÍP. Don't listen to old wives' tales. No one knows what fate awaits

AFÓNYA. What do I care for old wives! I know that I shall not live long. My
appetite is failing. Others have such hearty appetites after working. They
eat a whole lot and want more. There's brother Lev, when he's tired--just
keep giving him food. But I don't care if I never eat at all. My soul won't
take anything. I just swallow a crust--and am satisfied.

ARKHÍP. That helps growth.

AFÓNYA. No, it doesn't. Why should I grow any more, anyhow! As it is, I
am tall for my age. But it's a sign that I shall not live. Just listen,
grandfather; a man who is alive thinks of living things, but I don't have
any interest in anything. Some people like nice clothes, but for me it's
all the same--whatever rag is near at hand--just so I'm warm. For instance,
all the boys have some hobby; some like fishing, others games, some sing
songs; but nothing attracts me. While others are happy I feel depressed.
Misery seems to grip my heart.

ARKHÍP. That is God's gift to you. From your childhood you have had no love
for this vain world. Some lose their faint-heartedness with years, when
woes and afflictions, Afónya, crush and grind a man into powder; but you
have never lived, have not yet tasted the world's sorrows or joys, and yet
you reason like an old man. Thank God that he has made you wise. The world
does not charm you: you do not know temptation, so your sins are less. That
is your good fortune. Just listen to me. I, Afónya, have known temptation
and have not always turned aside from it, and most often I sought
temptation of my own free will. You say everything seems the same to you,
that nothing in the world delights you; but to me God's world was good and
bright. Everything beckoned and charmed me. An unsated eye and free will
command one to taste all the pleasures of the universe. But in the world,
Afónya, good and evil go hand in hand. Well, one's sins may be more in
number than the sands of the sea. Luckily God prolonged my life, that I
might repent, and did not strike me down in my sins. We repent and humble
ourselves and hope for mercy; but you will have nothing to repent of; you,
Afónya, are a man of God.

AFÓNYA. No, grandfather, no, do not speak so. How am I a man of God? I
have seen men of God, but they are good and do not remember evil. They are
abused and mocked, but they laugh at it, while I am rough and harsh, just
like my brother; only brother is forgiving though quick-tempered, while I
am not. I, grandfather, I have an evil temper.

ARKHÍP. At whom should you be angry, my child; who injures you?

AFÓNYA. No one injures me, but my heart aches for every one--for you, for
brother, for all of you.

ARKHÍP. Why are you grieving for us? We have nothing to complain of.

AFÓNYA. We didn't have anything to complain of, grandfather, before brother
married. Grandfather, why does brother love his wife so?

ARKHÍP. Why shouldn't he love her? Why did he marry her? You should be
happy because he loves his wife. What a foolish fellow you are!

AFÓNYA. No, I speak the truth. Formerly brother used to love you and me
much more than now.

ARKHÍP. So you are jealous! Probably you are envious.

AFÓNYA. No, it isn't envy; but is my brother blind? Does she love him as he
does her? Is she worthy of him? Why is he so servile in the presence of
her and her kin? His servility offends me. Is he inferior to her and her
sister? One marries a wife to have a helper; but she sits with folded
hands. Brother alone works and dances attendance on them. I pity him.

ARKHÍP. What business is it of yours? It's his own choice. He works and
doesn't force you to. You and I are fed by his kindness.

AFÓNYA. Don't I know that? Tell me, grandfather, is she any better than
brother or not?

ARKHÍP. Better or not, she is of different sort.

AFÓNYA. What do you mean by "different sort"! As it is, brother is obliged
to work for them, feed and clothe them, while they give themselves airs.
There isn't a better man in the world than brother, and they have made him
their drudge.

ARKHÍP. How do you know? Your brother himself may not wish her to work.

AFÓNYA. But if she doesn't work then she'd better not put on airs. Since
she married a commoner she should be one like the rest of us. Are we a sort
of accursed people? Lord, pardon me for saying it! We too have our communal
society and we pay taxes and take part in other obligations. My brother
gets money by sweat and toil, and contributes it to the community. She
might stay at home and play the lady, but if she marries, then she
should know that there is one master in the house--her husband. You see,
grandfather, I see and hear everything, since they are so shameless as not
to pay any heed to me. Brother gives her kerchiefs and silk dresses, while
she and her sister laugh at him and call him a fool. I hear it all; it is
bitter to me, grandfather, bitter. I began to speak to brother about it,
but he scolded me. [_Pause_] Grandfather, that is why I can't sleep. What I
see by day appears to me at night, gnaws at my heart, and I weep all night.
I shan't live long. My health cannot improve now because my temper is
altogether too violent. If God would only take me quickly so that I should
have less suffering!

ARKHÍP. Don't say such sinful things! You have to live and live! You see,
Afónya, I have nothing to live for, yet I keep on living. God knows the
reason of all this. What a man I am! I never see the fair sun or the bright
moon, and likewise I shall never see the green meadows or the cool waters
and all creatures of God. But hardest of all is that I cannot see the
bright face of man.

AFÓNYA. It is a pity, grandfather, that you cannot see; but I'm tired of
everything, nothing comforts me.

ARKHÍP. The reason you are not comforted is that your heart is not at
peace. Look at God's world longer and more often, and less at men and
women, and you will become lighter of heart; you will sleep at night and
have pleasant dreams. Where are we sitting now, Afónya?

AFÓNYA. On the bank, grandfather, beside Prokófyevna's house.

ARKHÍP. Is the bridge at our right?

AFÓNYA. Yes, grandfather.

ARKHÍP. Is the sun at our left?

AFÓNYA. Yes, grandfather, but it's almost set.

ARKHÍP. In a cloud?

AFÓNYA. No, it is clear. The twilight is so brilliant. We'll have fine

ARKHÍP. That's it, that's it. I feel it myself. The air is so light and the
breeze so fresh that I do not want to leave. Beautiful, Afónya, beautiful
is God's world. Now the dew will fall and fragrance will rise from every
flower; and yonder the stars will come out; and above the stars, Afónya, is
our merciful Creator. If we remembered more constantly that He is merciful,
we ourselves should be more merciful.

AFÓNYA. I will try to subdue my heart, grandfather. [BABÁYEV _comes in_]
Let us go. Some strange gentleman is walking here; he would probably laugh
at our talk.

ARKHÍP. [_Following_ AFÓNYA] My soul magnifies God. _They go out_.


BABÁYEV _alone_

BABÁYEV. When you are waiting for something pleasant the time seems to
drag! I purposely came by the longest road so as not to arrive too early,
but nevertheless I got here before they did. How I hate to wait! What a
foolish situation! Women generally like to torment: it's their nature; they
like to have someone wait for them. Of course, that doesn't apply to Tánya;
I believe she's very, very glad that I have arrived. I speak of women of
our own sort. I think they torment, because--how shall I express it--the
idea is entirely original--in order to compensate themselves in advance for
the rights which they lose later. That's the result of being in a lovely
landscape face to face with nature! What brilliant thoughts come to one!
If this thought were developed at leisure, in the country, it might form
a small novel, even a comedy on the order of Alfred de Musset. But such
things are not played in our country. They must be presented delicately,
very delicately--here the principal thing is the--bouquet. I think some
one is coming. Is it they? How shall we meet? Two years of separation mean

TATYÁNA _and_ LUKÉRYA _come in_.



TATYÁNA. [_Extending her hand to_ BABÁYEV] How do you do, Valentin Pávlich!
I was so happy when sister told me that you had returned.

BABÁYEV. So, do you still remember me?

TATYÁNA. Indeed I do! We frequently, that is, sister and I, very frequently
speak of you. She tells me that you have forgotten us.

BABÁYEV. No, I have not forgotten you. There are memories, my darling
Tatyána Danílovna, which are not readily forgotten. My acquaintance with
you was of that sort. Isn't that so?

TATYÁNA. [_Dropping her eyes_] Yes, sir.

BABÁYEV. Let me assure you that as soon as I could tear myself away from
St. Petersburg, and come to the country, I continually sought an occasion
to visit this city and to find you without fail.

LUKÉRYA. Have you never found such an occasion before now? Don't tell me

BABÁYEV. I assure you.

LUKÉRYA. Much we believe you! Tánya, do not believe the gentlemen; they
always deceive.

BABÁYEV. Why speak so to me?

LUKÉRYA. That doesn't apply just to you, but to all other fine young

TATYÁNA. Shall you remain long in this city?

BABÁYEV. Shall I remain long? At first I thought it would depend upon the
clerks who have my affair in hand, but now I see that it will depend upon
you, my darling Tatyána Danílovna.

TATYÁNA. That honors me entirely too much. No, tell me, shall you be here
three or four days?

BABÁYEV. They promised to arrange my affairs in three days, but maybe I'll
stay three or four days longer, if you wish me to.

TATYÁNA. Certainly, I do.

BABÁYEV. There is just one drawback, my darling Tatyána Danílovna: your
city is dreadfully lonesome. I will remain on one condition, that I may see
you as often as possible.

TATYÁNA. That's very simple. Call on us. We shall be delighted to have you
come to tea to-morrow.

BABÁYEV. Yes, but it's impossible to call on you often, as gossip and talk
spreads, and then there's your husband----

TATYÁNA. This doesn't concern him. You are my acquaintance; you call on me,
not him.

LUKÉRYA. Then we on our side will observe the courtesies and will return
your call. Besides, we often visit your landlady, so if it's pleasant for
you to see us, you can call in there.

BABÁYEV. [_Withdrawing to one side with_ TATYÁNA] Doesn't married life bore

TATYÁNA. [_After a pause_] I don't know; what can I say to that?

BABÁYEV. My darling Tatyána Danílovna, be perfectly frank with me. You know
what kind feelings I've always had for you.

TATYÁNA. Why should I be so frank with you? What good can come of it? It's
too late to mend things now.

BABÁYEV. If you can't mend things entirely, at least, darling Tatyána
Danílovna, you can sweeten your existence for a time, so that you will not
be entirely smothered by the vulgar life around you.

TATYÁNA. For a time, yes! Then life will be harder than ever. BABÁYEV.
Do you know, I want to move to the country; then we could be near to one
another. I am even ready to move to this town, if only you----

TATYÁNA. [_Turning away_] Please don't talk to me like that! I didn't
expect to hear such things from you, Valentin Pávlich.

LUKÉRYA. [_To_ BABÁYEV] You're getting in pretty deep there. I hear
everything you're saying.

BABÁYEV. Lukérya Danílovna, I think some one is coming. Take a look out on
the bank there. I'm anxious that we should not be seen here together.

LUKÉRYA. Oh, you're a sly gentleman! [_Goes away_.

TATYÁNA. So you will have tea with us to-morrow, Valentin Pávlich?

BABÁYEV. I really don't know--very likely.

TATYÁNA. No, don't fail to come! [_Pause_] Well, how shall I invite you?
[_Takes_ BABÁYEV _by the hand_] Well, my darling! Well, my precious!

BABÁYEV. It seems to me that you have changed, Tatyána Danílovna.

TATYÁNA. I, changed! Honestly I haven't. Not a bit. Why are you so cruel to

BABÁYEV. Do you remember Zavetnoye, Tatyána Danílovna?

TATYÁNA. Why? I remember it all.

BABÁYEV. Do you remember the garden? Do you remember the linden walk? Do
you remember how, after supper, while mother slept, we used to sit on the
terrace? Do you recall the narrow ribbon?

TATYÁNA. [_In a low voice_] Which one?

BABÁYEV. With which you tied my hands.

TATYÁNA. [_Embarrassed_] Well, what of that? Yes, I remember absolutely

BABÁYEV. Just that you, my precious, are now entirely different; you have
met me so coldly.

TATYÁNA. Ah, Valentin Pávlich! Then I was a girl and could love any one I
wished; now I am married. Just think!

BABÁYEV. Why, certainly. Yet I can't imagine you belonging to any one else.
Do what you will, I can hardly control my desire to call you Tánya, as I
used to.

TATYÁNA. Why control yourself? Call me Tánya.

BABÁYEV. But what's the use, my dear! You don't love me any more!

TATYÁNA. Who told you that? I love you as much, even more than before.

BABÁYEV. [_Bending towards her_] Is it possible, Tanechka, that that is the

TATYÁNA. [_Kissing him_] Well, here's my evidence! _Now_ do you believe?
But, darling Valentin Pávlich, if you don't wish me unhappiness for the
rest of my life, we must love one another as we are doing now; but you
mustn't think of more than that. Otherwise, good-by to you--away from

BABÁYEV. Set your mind at rest, darling, about that.

TATYÁNA. No, you swear to me! Swear, so that I may not fear you.

BABÁYEV. How foolish you are!

TATYÁNA. Yes, I am foolish, certainly. If I should listen to the opinions
of older people, then I am committing a great wrong. According to the old
law, I must love no one other than my husband. But since I can't love
him--and loved you before my marriage, and can't change my heart, so
I--only God preserve you from--and I won't in any respect--because I wish
to live right.

BABÁYEV. Calm yourself.

TATYÁNA. That's the way, my dear Valentin Pávlich. It means that we shall
now have a very pleasant love-affair, without sinning against God, or
feeling shame before men.

BABÁYEV. Yes, yes, that'll be splendid!

TATYÁNA. Now I'll give you a kiss because you're so clever! [_Kisses him_]
So you will come to-morrow evening?

BABÁYEV. And then you'll visit me?

TATYÁNA. Be sure to come! Then we'll visit you. Now I'm not afraid of you.

BABÁYEV. How beautiful you are! You're even lovelier than you used to be.

TATYÁNA. Let that be a secret. Good-by. Come on, Lusha!

LUKÉRYA. [_Approaching_] Good-by! Good night, pleasant dreams--of plucking
roses, of watering jasmine! [_Going_] But what a man you are! Oh, oh, oh!
He's clever, I must say! I just looked and wondered. [_They go out_.

BABÁYEV. Now the novel is beginning; I wonder how it'll end!



_A room in_ KRASNÓV'_s house; directly in front a door leading to a
vestibule; to the right a window and a bed with chintz curtains; to the
left a stove-couch and a door into the kitchen; in the foreground a plain
board table and several chairs; along the back wall and window benches;
along the left wall a cupboard with cups, a small mirror, and a wall


TATYÁNA _stands before the mirror putting on a kerchief_; AFÓNYA _is lying
on the stove-couch_; LUKÉRYA _comes in with a figured table-cloth_.

LUKÉRYA. There, Tánya, I've borrowed a cloth from the neighbor to cover our
table. Ours is awfully poor. [_Lays the cloth on the table_.

TATYÁNA. Have you started the samovar?

LUKÉRYA. Long ago; it'll boil soon. Well, you see it's just as I told you;
that kerchief is much more becoming to you. But why did you stick the pin
through it? [_Adjusting it_] There, that's much better.

AFÓNYA. Where are you dressing up to go to? Why are you prinking so at that

TATYÁNA. Nowhere; we're going to stay at home.

LUKÉRYA. What business is it of yours? Do you think we ought to be as
slovenly as yourself?

AFÓNYA. But who are you fixing up for? For your husband? He loves you more
than you deserve even without the fine clothes. Or is it for some one else?

LUKÉRYA. Hear him! A fool, a fool! yet he understands that she's dressing
up for some one else.

TATYÁNA. Why should I dress for my husband? He knows me anyway. When I
dress, of course it's for a stranger.

AFÓNYA. Who are you going to flirt with? Who are you going to charm? Have
you no conscience?

LUKÉRYA. What's the use of arguing with a fool! All he has to do is to
chatter. Lies on the stove-couch and plots trouble.

TATYÁNA. What kind of judge are you, anyway? My husband never says anything
to me, and yet you dare to put in your opinion!

AFÓNYA. Yes, but he's blinded by you, blinded. You've given him some sort
of love-charm.

LUKÉRYA. Keep still, seeing that God has made you a sick man. Tend to your
own business; keep on coughing, there's no sin in that.

AFÓNYA. Fool--brother is a fool! He's ruined himself.

LUKÉRYA. Tánya, shouldn't I bring the samovar in here?

TATYÁNA. Yes, and I'll set the cups. [_Puts cups on the table_. LUKÉRYA
_goes out_] You'd better go into the kitchen.

AFÓNYA. I'm all right here.

TATYÁNA. Strangers are coming and you'll make us gloomy.

AFÓNYA. I won't go.

TATYÁNA. It's a true proverb: "There's no brewing beer with a fool." Our
guest is no cheap shopkeeper like your brother. A gentleman is coming, do
you hear? What are you fussing about?

AFÓNYA. What sort of a gentleman? Why is he coming?

TATYÁNA. Just the same kind of gentleman as all the rest. He's our
acquaintance, a rich landowner; well, now get out!

AFÓNYA. He's a gentleman in his own house, but I'm one here. I'm not going
to him, but he's coming here. I'm in my own house, and sick, so I won't
consider anybody. Was it him you dressed up for?

TATYÁNA. That's my business, not yours.

LUKÉRYA _brings in the samovar_.

LUKÉRYA. [_Placing the samovar on the table_] Lev Rodionych is coming with
some people.

TATYÁNA. I guess some of his relatives; what a horrid nuisance!

AFÓNYA. Nuisance! Why did you ever intrude into our family?




KRASNÓV. [_To his wife_] How are you? [_Kisses her_.

TATYÁNA. How affectionate!

KRASNÓV. Never mind. We have a perfect right to! Let me treat you. We've
just received fresh grapes. [_Gives her a bunch_] Here I have brought you
some company. The samovar is all ready--that's good.

ULYÁNA. How do you do, sister? You are so proud you never call on us! But
we're common folks; so we picked ourselves up and came, uninvited.

KÚRITSYN. How do you do, sister? Why are you so contemptuous of your
relatives? You might run over once in a while for tea; your feet are able
to carry you!

KRASNÓV. How has she time to go visiting? She has so much to do at home.
She's just beginning to get used to the household!

ULYÁNA. Yes, sister, you must get used to the household. That's our woman's
duty. You didn't marry a millionaire, so you needn't put on airs.

KÚRITSYN. Yes, you'd better learn, and well.

ULYÁNA. [_Approaching_ AFÓNYA] Ah, Afónya, are you still sick? You ought to
take something!

KÚRITSYN. [_Also approaching_ AFÓNYA] You eat more--then you'll get well.
If you don't want to, then force yourself to eat; that's what I tell you!
[_Speaks in a low voice to_ AFÓNYA.

TATYÁNA. [_To her husband_] What have you done! What sort of company have
you brought?

LUKÉRYA. To be frank, you've spoiled everything. How embarrassing, how
awfully embarrassing!

KRASNÓV. What, embarrassing? Is some lord coming? What's the odds! Nothing
to get excited over! Let him see our relatives.

LUKÉRYA. Much he's interested!

KRASNÓV. I can't chase my sister away for him. So there's nothing more to
be said about it. I haven't set eyes on him yet, I don't know what he's
like; these, at any rate, are our own. And, besides, they'll not stay long.
[_To his wife_] Be seated; pour the tea! Brother, sister, have a cup of

_All excepting_ AFÓNYA _seat themselves at the table_.

KÚRITSYN. Brother, this is a holiday occasion, so it is customary before
tea to--just a little. Don't you drink, yourself?

KRASNÓV. From the day I married Tatyána Danílovna I stopped all that.
Tatyána Danílovna, treat brother and sister with some vodka.

TATYÁNA. [_Takes out of the cupboard and places on the table decanter,
glasses, and refreshments_] Have some, sister! [ULYÁNA _drinks_] Have some,

KÚRITSYN. That's no invitation, you don't know how to do it.

KRASNÓV. Brother, don't be quite so particular! My wife doesn't know your
common ways, and there's no use knowing them. Please, without ceremony.

KÚRITSYN. [_After drinking_] You are spoiling your wife, that's what I tell
you. Freedom spoils even a good wife. You ought to take example from me,
and teach her common sense; that would be lots better. Ask your sister how
I trained her; we had a hot time of it.

ULYÁNA. Yes, you, Manuylo Kalinich, are a terrible barbarian, and a
blood-sucker! You spend your whole life bossing your wife and showing your

KÚRITSYN. What words are those? Who's talking? What's that you say?
[_Looking around_] Is any stranger here? Seems to me, my people in my own
house don't dare to speak that way!

ULYÁNA. [_With a start_] I just said that for instance, Manuylo Kalinich.
Because, sister, women like us can't live without strict discipline. It's a
true proverb: "If you beat your wife, the soup tastes better."

TATYÁNA. Every one to his own taste! You, sister, like such treatment,
while I consider it the height of rudeness.

LUKÉRYA. Nowadays, such peasant's conduct is discarded everywhere; it's
getting out of fashion.

KÚRITSYN. You lie! Such treatment of women can never get out of fashion,
because you can't get along without it. Brother, listen to what point
I've brought Ulyana. We used to have disputes among ourselves, among
acquaintances or relatives, whose wife was more attentive; I'd bring 'em
to my house, sit on the bench, and push my foot out, so--and say to wife,
"What does my foot want?" and she understood because she'd been trained. Of
course she at once fell at my feet.

ULYÁNA. Yes, that's so, that used to happen. I can say that without shame,
to everybody.

KRASNÓV. There's nothing good in that, just swagger.

KÚRITSYN. Ah, brother! Beat your overcoat and it will be warmer; beat a
wife--she'll be smarter.

TATYÁNA. Not every wife will allow herself to be beaten, and the one that
allows it, isn't worth any other treatment.

ULYÁNA. Why are you giving yourself such airs all of a sudden, sister? Am
I worse than you? You just wait awhile, you'll taste all that. We can clip
your wings, too.

KRASNÓV. Yes, but be careful.

ULYÁNA. What are you saying? Married a beggar and you're putting on airs.
Do you think that you've married the daughter of a distinguished landowner?

KRASNÓV. What I think--is my business, and you can't understand it with
your wits. You'd better keep still.

LUKÉRYA. What an interesting conversation--worth while hearing!

ULYÁNA. It seems to me she doesn't come from nobles but from government
clerks. Not a very great lady! Goats and government clerks are the devil's
own kin.

KRASNÓV. I told you to keep still! I shouldn't have to tell you ten times.
You ought to understand it at once.

KÚRITSYN. Leave them alone. I like it when the women start a row.

KRASNÓV. But I don't like it.

ULYÁNA. What do I care what you like! I'm not trying to please you. My, how
stern you are! You'd better scold your own wife, not me; I'm not under your
orders; you aren't my boss. I have a good husband who can boss me, not you.
I'm not to blame because your wife wanders around highways and byways, and
flirts with young gentlemen for hours.

KRASNÓV. [_Jumping up_] What's that!

TATYÁNA. I know nothing of highways and byways; I have told you, Lev
Rodionych, that I met Valentin Pávlich on the bank, and even everything
that we said.

LUKÉRYA. Yes, I was there with them.

ULYÁNA. Yes, you're the same sort.

KRASNÓV. You're a regular snake in the grass! And you call yourself a
sister. What do you want? To make trouble between us? You're spiteful
because I love my wife! You may rest assured that I wouldn't change her for
anybody. For thirty years I've slaved for my family, labored till I sweated
blood, and I thought of marriage only when I'd provided for the whole
family. For thirty years I haven't known any pleasures. That's why I have
to be thankful to my wife, who has beauty and education, for loving me, a
peasant. Formerly I worked for you; now I will work for her forever. I'll
perish working, but I'll give her every comfort. I should kiss her feet,
because I very well understand that I and my whole household aren't worth
her little finger. Do you think after this I will allow her to be abused! I
respect her--and you all must respect her!

LUKÉRYA. Sister herself understands that she deserves all respect.

KRASNÓV. What's that you were saying, Ulyana? If you're right, then it's
all up with me! See here! I have only one joy, one consolation, and I
should have to give it up. Is that easy? Is it? I'm not made of stone that
I can look at such wifely doings through my fingers! Your foolish words
have entered my ears and wrenched my heart. If I believed you, then--God
keep me from it--I should soon do some violence! One can't vouch for
himself as to what may happen. Maybe the devil will jog my elbow. God save
us! This is not a joking matter! If you wanted to hurt me, you should have
taken a knife and thrust it into my side--that would have been easier for
me. After such words it's better that I never see you again, you breaker-up
of families. I'd rather disown all my people than endure your poison.

ULYÁNA. I'm not the cause of separation. It's she that's breaking up

KÚRITSYN. Well, brother! Evidently, if it's the wife's kin--open the door;
but if it's the husband's kin--then shut the door. You visit us and we'll
show you hospitality. Come, wife, we'd better go home!

ULYÁNA. Well, good-by, sister, but remember! And you, brother, just wait;
we'll settle accounts somehow. [_They go out_.



KRASNÓV. [_Approaching his wife_] Tatyána Danílovna, I hope you won't take
that to heart, because they're a rough lot.

TATYÁNA. That's the kind of relatives you have! I lived better beyond
comparison as a girl; at least I knew that no one dared to insult me.

LUKÉRYA. [_Clearing the table_] We didn't associate with the common people.

KRASNÓV. And I'll never let you be insulted. You saw I didn't spare my own
sister, and drove her out of my house; but if it had been a stranger, he
wouldn't have got off alive. You don't know my character yet; at times I'm
afraid of myself.

TATYÁNA. What, do you become dreadfully furious?

KRASNÓV. Not that I'm furious, I'm hot-tempered. I'm beside myself, and
don't see people at such times.

TATYÁNA. How terribly you talk! Why didn't you tell me about your character
before? I wouldn't have married you.

KRASNÓV. There's nothing bad in a man's being hot-tempered. That means that
he's eager in all things, even in his work, and he can love better, because
he has more feeling than others.

TATYÁNA. Now I shall be afraid of you.

KRASNÓV. I don't want you to fear me. But I should like to know when you
are going to love me?

TATYÁNA. What sort of love do you want to have from me?

KRASNÓV. You know yourself what sort; but maybe you don't feel it. What's
to be done? We'll wait, perhaps it'll come later. Everything can happen in
this world! There have been cases where love has come the fifth or sixth
year after marriage. And what love! Better than if it came at first.

TATYÁNA. Keep on waiting.

LUKÉRYA. You're very hot in your love; but we're of entirely different
bringing up.

KRASNÓV. You speak of bringing up? I'll tell you this, that if I were
younger, I'd take up and study for Tatyána Danílovna. I know, myself, what
I lack, but now it's too late. I've a soul but no training. If I were

LUKÉRYA. [_Glancing towards the window_] He's coming, Tánya; he's coming!
[_Both run out of the room_.

KRASNÓV. Where so suddenly? What are you running after?

LUKÉRYA. What do you mean? Recollect yourself. We must be courteous and go
to meet him. [_They go out_.

AFÓNYA. Brother! You drove sister away. Whether right or not, let God judge
you! But I tell you, you'd better watch the gentleman.

KRASNÓV. What the deuce have you got to do with this? You hiss like a
snake. You want to wound me. Get out of here! Go, I tell you, or I'll kill

AFÓNYA. Well, kill! My life isn't very sweet to me, and I haven't long to
live, anyway. But don't be blind! Don't be blind! [_Goes out_.

KRASNÓV. What are they doing to me? Must I really be on my guard, or are
they just frightening me? Where then is love! Is it possible, Lord, that I
have taken unto me not a joy but a torture! Rouse yourself, Lev Rodionych,
rouse yourself. Hearken not to the fiend. You have one joy--he's seizing
it, and draining your heart. You will ruin your whole life! You will perish
for no cause. All those are slanderous words. They're spiteful because my
wife is good, and we get along together--so they begin to stir up trouble.
That's clearly seen. It's so in every family. The best way is to drop it
and not think about it. The gentleman will have to be gotten rid of; I must
see that he never looks our way any more. "Come oftener," I'll tell him,
"we like it better when you aren't here." So there'll be less talk and my
heart will be calmer.




BABÁYEV. So this is where you live! Is this your own little house?

TATYÁNA. Our own. This is my husband.

BABÁYEV. I'm delighted. I've known your wife a long while.

KRASNÓV. That's your affair.

BABÁYEV. You're in business?

KRASNÓV. That's my affair.

TATYÁNA. Won't you be seated? [BABÁYEV _and_ KRASNÓV _take seats_]
Shouldn't you like some tea?

BABÁYEV. No, thank you; I don't care for tea now.

LUKÉRYA. Ah, Tánya, we've forgotten that now in St. Petersburg they have
different tastes. [To BABÁYEV] We can have coffee immediately.

BABÁYEV. No, please do not trouble yourself; I've already had some. Let us
rather sit and talk. Are you happy here? Have you any amusements here?

TATYÁNA. No. What sort of amusements can one have here?

BABÁYEV. How do you spend your time? Is it possible you are always at home?

TATYÁNA. Mostly.

KRASNÓV. And that is proper among such as us. Our Russian way is: husband
and dog in the yard, and wife and cat in the house.

LUKÉRYA. [In a low voice to KRASNÓV] Can't you speak more politely?

KRASNÓV. I know my business.

BABÁYEV. So you're a housekeeper. I should think it must have been hard for
you to get used to your new duties.

TATYÁNA. [_Glancing at her husband_] Yes; of course I can't say--of
course--at first----

BABÁYEV. [_To_ LUKÉRYA] I'm asking, but I don't really know myself what
these duties consist of.

LUKÉRYA. But considering your noble birth, that's beneath your knowledge.

KRASNÓV. There's nothing vulgar about it.

BABÁYEV. Really, what is there vulgar in it?

LUKÉRYA. The words are low and even quite coarse, and they aren't usually
spoken before people of good breeding.

BABÁYEV. Well, imagine that I'm a man of no breeding. What are the words,
tell me?

LUKÉRYA. You're embarrassing Tánya and me. But if you're interested to hear
those words, all right! The kitchen and other common things belong to the
household: the frying-pan, the handle, the oven fork. Isn't that low?

KRASNÓV. Whether the oven fork is high or low, if you put the soup in the
stove you've got to get it out.

TATYÁNA. You might spare your wife before guests.

KRASNÓV. I haven't insulted you a hair's breadth either before guests or
without guests. When you're asked what sort of a housekeeper you are for
your husband, right before him, then I should think you'd answer, that
you're a good housekeeper, and aren't ashamed of your position, because
among such as us that is the first duty.

LUKÉRYA. [_In a low voice to_ KRASNÓV] You're disturbing our conversation
with our guest.

BABÁYEV. [_In a low voice to_ TATYÁNA] Is he always like this?

TATYÁNA. [_In a low voice_] I don't know what's the matter with him.

BABÁYEV. [_In a low voice_] You see for yourself that I've no business
here. You'd better come to me to-day, and I'll go home now. [_Aloud_] Well,
good-by. I hope this isn't the last time we meet.

LUKÉRYA. Certainly, certainly.

TATYÁNA. We are most grateful for your visit!

KRASNÓV. [_Bowing_] Good-by to you! Are you going away from here soon?

BABÁYEV. I don't know. Whenever my affairs are settled.

KRASNÓV. But when, do you think?

BABÁYEV. They tell me, at court, the day after to-morrow.

KRASNÓV. So, when that's over you're going directly?

BABÁYEV. I think so. What is there to do here?

KRASNÓV. Yes, there's nothing to do here. My regards to you! [BABÁYEV,
TATYÁNA, _and_ LUKÉRYA _go out_] An unbidden guest is worse than a Tatar.
What do we want with him? What use is he to us? I won't have his help; we
aren't beggars. Well, be off with you! Go to St. Petersburg, and good luck
to you.

_Enter_ TATYÁNA _and_ LUKÉRYA.



TATYÁNA. What are you doing? Why did you go and insult me so?

KRASNÓV. There's no insult! Now, look here! We haven't quarrelled once
since our wedding, and I hope that we may never do so, but may always live
in love.

LUKÉRYA. Fine love, I must say!

[KRASNÓV _looks at her sharply._

TATYÁNA. Where is your love? Now we see it very plainly. I must serve your
relatives and friends like a cook; but when our friend came, a gentleman,
then you almost drove him away.

LUKÉRYA. You did drive him away, only in a roundabout fashion.

TATYÁNA. You'd better not speak of your love. What do I want with your love
when you disgrace me at every step.

KRASNÓV. I don't understand the reason for this argument! The whole affair
isn't worth discussing. We probably won't ever see him again, and we
have no need of him; he went with what he came. We have to live our life
together; it isn't worth our having trouble over him.

TATYÁNA. Ah, Lusha, what a disgrace! I wonder what he'll think of us now?

LUKÉRYA. Yes. He'll soon go back to St. Petersburg; a fine opinion of us
he'll take away with him!

KRASNÓV. I tell you again, that you should dismiss him and his opinions
from your mind. The whole affair isn't worth a kopek. I think that whether
he's alive or no, it's all the same to us.

TATYÁNA. It may be all the same for you, but not so for us. Sister and I
have promised to visit him and we want to go to-day.

KRASNÓV. There's no need.

TATYÁNA. How, no need? I tell you that I want to see him.

KRASNÓV. You want to, but I'm not anxious. Ought you to consider my wishes
or not?

TATYÁNA. You seem to have assumed authority all of a sudden. You certainly
don't imagine that we'll obey you.--No, indeed, _we won't_.

KRASNÓV. [_Striking the table_] What do you mean by "no, indeed"? No, if I
tell you something, then that has to go. I'm talking sense and what's good
for you, and that's why I give you strict orders. [_Again strikes the

TATYÁNA. [_Crying_] What tyranny! What torture!

LUKÉRYA. [With a laugh] Oh, what a fearful, oh, what a terrible man, ha,
ha, ha!

KRASNÓV. What are you cackling about? I'll fire you out so fast that your
skirts will squeak on the gate.

TATYÁNA. Well, do what you like, even kill us, but we'll go. We don't want
to show him we're boors. We surely have to thank him for remembering us,
and wish him a pleasant journey.

KRASNÓV. Tatyána Danílovna, please understand what you are told.

TATYÁNA. I hope you aren't going to fight? That'll be just like you. That's
what's to be expected.

KRASNÓV. You're mistaken. You'll never see me do that. I love you so much
that this time I'll even respect your caprices. Go along, but never set
your foot there again. Only one more thing, Tatyána Danílovna: you see this
clock! [_Points to the wall clock_] Look at the clock when you leave, and
be back in half an hour! [_Pointing to the floor_] On this very spot.

TATYÁNA. Come, Lusha, let's dress. [_Both go out._

KRASNÓV. I think everything will be all right now. They were a little
spoiled; in that case sternness will do no harm. If I hold on she'll come
to love me. Then when the gentleman is gone, I can humor her again; then
our misunderstanding will be forgotten. What wouldn't I give for the
half-hour they're with the gentleman? But what's to be done? I can't cut
her off sharp--that'd entirely turn her away from me. Whatever I try to
think of, horrid things come into my head. But he certainly isn't a bandit.
And then my wife, a little while ago--I'm just an enemy to myself! There
surely can't be anything bad; but I think of all sorts of nonsense! I'd
better go and have a chat with my friends at the tavern. What did he
whisper to her just now? Well, they're old acquaintances; just something!
[Takes his cap] Tatyána Danílovna! I pined for you until I married you; and
now that I have married you, all my heart aches. Don't ruin me, poor lad
that I am; it will be a sin for you! [Goes out.


Same room as in ACT I



PROKÓFYEVNA. Is he asleep?

KARP. Don't know. I guess not; he hasn't that habit. It isn't time yet,
anyway. What do you think? In St. Petersburg it isn't dinner-time yet, it's
still morning.

PROKÓFYEVNA. What's that, good heavens!

KARP. Why, at times in the winter, when it's already dusk and the lights
are lit everywhere, it's still considered morning.

PROKÓFYEVNA. What's the wonder! It's a big city, the capital, not like
this. I just came in to see if anything was needed. [Glancing out of the
window] I believe some one is coming here. I'll go and meet them. [Goes

KARP. One is bored to extinction here. If he'd grease the palms of the
principal men at the court, then they'd have done it in a jiffy. At least
we'd now be home, at business. I wonder how it is he isn't bored! I wonder
if he hasn't found some prey here! He surely doesn't go about town for
nothing! I know his ways: he walks and walks past the windows, and casts
his eye around for some brunette.

PROKÓFYEVNA _comes in._

PROKÓFYEVNA. Go and tell him that he is wanted, my dear sir.

KARP. Why is he wanted?

PROKÓFYEVNA. You tell him; he knows why.

KARP. [_Through the door_] Please, sir, you have visitors.

BABÁYEV. [_From the door_] Who?

PROKÓFYEVNA. Come out, sir, for a minute; you're wanted!

BABÁYEV _enters._



PROKÓFYEVNA. Listen! Tatyána Danílovna, the wife of the shopkeeper, has
come with her sister, and wants to know if they may come in.

BABÁYEV. Ask them in. I'll tell you what! Listen, landlady! Please avoid
gossip! It's possible that she'll come again, so you'll please say that she
comes to see you. If any one asks you, you know; the city is small, and
every one knows every one else, and every one watches every one else, where
each goes, and what each does.

PROKÓFYEVNA. Oh, sir! What's that to me! I looked but I didn't see. You're
a stranger, not of this place.

BABÁYEV. Ask them in! You and I, dear landlady, are old friends. [_Pats her
on the shoulder._

PROKÓFYEVNA. Indeed we are, sir, friends! [_Goes out._

KARP. [_With an impatient wave of his hand_] Sins! [_Goes out._

TATYÁNA _and_ LUKÉRYA _come in._



LUKÉRYA. How do you do, again! Were you looking for us?

BABÁYEV. To be frank, I didn't expect you so soon. Be seated; why are you
standing? [_They all sit down_.

LUKÉRYA. We fairly ran over here. We had such a time getting away.

TATYÁNA. That's enough, Lusha; stop!

LUKÉRYA. There's no use concealing matters! You can't do it. Valentin
Pávlich has seen our local gentry to-day, himself. You should see what a
rumpus we had after you left!

TATYÁNA. Ah, Lusha, those things happen in every family; there's no need
telling every one! It's no one's affair how we live.

LUKÉRYA. Now you understand, Valentin Pávlich, what a peasant is when he
assumes importance?

TATYÁNA. It's well for you to talk, since you aren't concerned. You might
spare me! He's my husband, and I have to live with him till the brink of
the grave.

BABÁYEV. You weren't careful in your marriage, Tatyána Danílovna; you
weren't careful.

TATYÁNA. How queer you are! What are you reproaching me for? Where were
you when we had nothing to eat? But now there is no going back. All that
remains for me to do is to cry all the rest of my life. [_Cries_.

BABÁYEV. Why are you crying now?

TATYÁNA. What have I to rejoice over? You? I might be happy if I had
freedom. Understand this: on your account I quarrelled with my husband;
you'll be going away to-day or to-morrow, while I have to remain with him.
You only made matters worse by coming; until you came he didn't seem so
bad, and suddenly he has changed entirely. Before he saw you he fulfilled
my every wish, he licked my hands like a dog; but now he has begun to look
askance at me and to scold. How can I endure torment all my life with the
man I loathe! [_Cries_.

BABÁYEV. Now, please stop! Why do you grieve! [_To_ LUKÉRYA] Listen,
Lukérya Danílovna! You go to the landlady, I can calm her better alone.

LUKÉRYA. All right, but don't be too sly! [_Goes out_.



BABÁYEV. [_Draws nearer and puts one arm around_ TATYÁNA] Darling,
Tanechka, now stop! Why do you weep so! Let's think, together, how we can
help your grief.

TATYÁNA. There's no use thinking! There's no way.

BABÁYEV. Is that so? But what if I take you off to the village?

TATYÁNA. Which one? Where?

BABÁYEV. To my own village. There everything is the same as when mother
lived: the same lanes, ponds, and arbors; everything is familiar to you,
and will remind you of the past. There you'd be my housekeeper.

TATYÁNA. [_Freeing herself from his arm_] What ideas you do get, my dear
sir! How could you get such a foolish notion into your head! Do you think
my husband would allow such a thing! Why, he'd find me, at the bottom of
the sea!

BABÁYEV. For a time we'll be able to hide you so that he won't find you;
and meanwhile we can smooth it over with him.

TATYÁNA. What! What! That's a bright idea! Stop talking such nonsense!
You'd better advise me how to live with my husband the rest of my life.

BABÁYEV. Why so! Much I care for that!

TATYÁNA. So, you don't love me a little bit! You're just making believe!
Yes, that's it!

BABÁYEV. Tánya, isn't it a sin for you to talk so? Now, tell me, isn't it?


BABÁYEV. Isn't it a sin to suspect me?

TATYÁNA. Oh, you! One can't tell whether you're making believe or not.

BABÁYEV. Why should you tell, my angel! Don't worry about me! Just ask your
own heart what it tells you! [_Embraces her_.

TATYÁNA. But what does yours tell you?

BABÁYEV. Yes, but, Tánya, you don't believe me; you say that I'm making
believe, and yet you are asking questions. But how could I deceive you?

TATYÁNA. You aren't a bit interested! You're just talking.

BABÁYEV. Don't be afraid; I'll not deceive! Why should I deceive you?
[_Leans towards her; she listens with downcast eyes_] I'll tell you what,
Tánya! My heart tells me that I have never loved any one as I do you. It's
all the same whether you believe me or not. But I will prove that it is the
truth, and you yourself will agree with me. Why, I don't tell you that I've
never seen women more beautiful than you, or cleverer. Then you might tell
me to my face that I lied. No, I have seen more beautiful women than you,
and cleverer; but I have never seen such a darling, charming, artless
little woman as you.

TATYÁNA. [Sighing] Artless--Ah, you speak the truth.

BABÁYEV. Well, I've told you what I feel. Why don't you tell me?

TATYÁNA. What should I say? I don't know how. I might say more than you.
But why say anything--you know yourself.

BABÁYEV. That is, possibly, I guess, but----

TATYÁNA. Why "but"? There's nothing to be said!

BABÁYEV. Yes, there is. I guess the secret but I get no good from it.
[_Pause_] Tell me yourself that you love me! Well, how about it, Tánya?

TATYÁNA. What do you want?

BABÁYEV. Do you love me? [_Pause_] Do you love me?

TATYÁNA. [_Dropping her eyes_] Well, yes.

BABÁYEV. Very much? [_Pause_] Why are you silent? Do you love me very much?


BABÁYEV. Will you go to the village with me?

TATYÁNA. Ah, stop urging me!

BABÁYEV. Well, you needn't go to the village then. I know what we'll do:
I'll rent a lodging here in the city, and will come here every other week.
Do you agree to that?


BABÁYEV. Now you see, my darling Tanechka, I'm ready to do anything for


BABÁYEV. And you? [_Pause_] Why are you silent?

TATYÁNA. But our compact?

BABÁYEV. What compact?

TATYÁNA. Yesterday's. You remember, on the bank.

BABÁYEV. What's there to remember? There wasn't any compact.

TATYÁNA. Shameless, you're shameless! Can you forget so soon!

BABÁYEV. I don't want to know of any compacts. [_Embraces and kisses her_.

TATYÁNA. [_Rising_] Oh! Stop, please!

BABÁYEV. Why "stop"? What do you mean by "stop"?

TATYÁNA. I mean, stop.

BABÁYEV. What whims!

TATYÁNA. No whims at all, only please move a little further off.

BABÁYEV. If you're going to be so whimsical, then I'll go away. I'll drop
the business for which I came and will go away immediately.

TATYÁNA. Very well, go.

BABÁYEV. I'm not joking. Karp! [KARP _comes in_] Pack up and then go order

KARP. Yes, sir.

TATYÁNA. So that's the way? Well, good luck to you! Good-by! [_Runs out_.

KARP. Well, sir, do you want me to pack up?

BABÁYEV. Pack up, for where? You make me tired, man! [_Goes to the window_]
I wonder if they've gone home?

KARP. They won't leave.

BABÁYEV. That's none of your business! Get out!

KARP _goes out_; LUKÉRYA _comes in_.



LUKÉRYA. Sister has asked me to tell you to put off your going. An
acquaintance is visiting the landlady; so you'll understand that it's
awkward for her to come to you. But when she goes away sister will come to
you. She has something to talk over with you.

BABÁYEV. You're very kind, Lukérya Danílovna! LUKÉRYA. I can't believe my
ears! Is it possible that I hear such compliments from you! [_Courtesies_.



_Same room as in_ ACT II


TATYÁNA _is lying on the bed_; LUKÉRYA _comes in_

LUKÉRYA. Tánya, are you asleep?


LUKÉRYA. Then you'd better get up! What are you lying around for all day?
You've been in bed all the morning, and still not up.

TATYÁNA. What's the use of getting up? What's there to do?

LUKÉRYA. If you were only asleep--but to lie in bed and cry just rends your
heart. Better get up and let's talk it over!

TATYÁNA. [_Getting up_] Oh, what an unhappy, gloomy day this is! [_Sits
down_] How unfortunate I am! What have I done to myself? Why did I marry?
I've drowned my happiness, simply drowned it!

LUKÉRYA. Who could have told? As a suitor he was as quiet as water and
as meek as the grass; now I don't know what has happened to him. Why,
yesterday I thought he was joking when he told us to be back in a

TATYÁNA. I did, too. If you only had seen how he pounced on me, and how
terrible he's become. He looked daggers all the morning, left without
saying good-by, and now he hasn't even come back for dinner.

LUKÉRYA. What did he say to you when you were left alone yesterday?

TATYÁNA. He scolded and abused, got all wrought up, and wept himself; what
didn't he do! "For all my love for you," he said, "I ask you only one thing
in return: soothe me, give me back my peace of mind, because I am jealous."

LUKÉRYA. What an affliction!

TATYÁNA. He said he wasn't jealous of any one but this gentleman.

LUKÉRYA. The idea of his being jealous of every one! That would be a great

TATYÁNA. "When that man leaves," he said, "then you may do anything you
like, and go anywhere, but because you didn't heed my command, don't dare
cross the threshold until he has left the city for good."

LUKÉRYA. What did you say to that?

TATYÁNA. He kept shouting but I kept still through it all; but it hurts me
because he lords it over me so. At first he was sly as a fox, but now he
has started to order me about, and talk to me in his vulgar, peasant's way.
He doesn't care that he has insulted me, but I've been crying all day. I
couldn't love him if he killed me. If he gave me freedom, then I might have
some affection for him; but now I'll do everything he doesn't want me to,
just for meanness; even if I had wronged him, I wouldn't regret it. I must
get even with him some way. I can't fight with him; I haven't the strength
for that.

LUKÉRYA. Certainly. He ought to be satisfied that you married him; and now
he's got the notion of watching your deportment.

TATYÁNA. Since yesterday I've begun to fear him so. You won't believe me;
why, I shudder when he looks at me.

LUKÉRYA. What do you think you'll do now?

TATYÁNA. What's the use of thinking? My head's all in a muddle. It's bad,
no matter how you look at it. I sold my very youth to one I cannot love,
just for a piece of bread, and from one day to another he becomes more
repulsive to me.

LUKÉRYA. After such actions on his part, it's no wonder he's repulsive.
Especially when you compare him with others. The other man is a born
gentleman in every sense of the word.

TATYÁNA. Now what shall I do? If I could break off all connection with
Valentin Pávlich, I should be very glad. But I see I should have thought
of that before, and attended to the matter earlier; but now it's too late.
It's beyond my strength.

LUKÉRYA. But he loves you very much, Tánya.

TATYÁNA. Is that so? Oh, bother him. That's just it; at first I haven't
enough sense, then I have to cry over it. My mother used to say to me: "Be
careful, daughter, your lack of common sense will be your ruin."

LUKÉRYA. You want to see him, I suppose? I think he's waiting.

TATYÁNA. Well, of course. If it depended on me, I'd fly to him.

LUKÉRYA. We'll have to rack our brains how we may work that.

TATYÁNA. No matter how I rack my brain, I can't think of anything.

LUKÉRYA. I know what, Tánya! You'll have to fool your husband.


LUKÉRYA. We women couldn't live without cunning, because we're the weaker
sex, and abused on all sides.

TATYÁNA. But what cunning? Tell me!

LUKÉRYA. Now that you and your husband live like cats and dogs, he can't
help getting the notion into his noddle that you don't love him, but do
love another.

TATYÁNA. How shall I manage?

LUKÉRYA. You'll have to change your tactics. Be very submissive; peasants
like that. Make believe that you're in love with him; give him all sorts
of humbug and he'll prick up his ears at it. Flatter him with all sorts of
flatteries--that'll be a new thing for him.

TATYÁNA. I'll have to say what I don't feel.

LUKÉRYA. Where's the harm in that? How does he know what's in your heart?
He doesn't need to understand that your action is make-believe, and not
sincere. You'll see, after such actions, he'll believe in you so much that
even though you made love before his very eyes, he wouldn't notice it.

TATYÁNA. One can't make such a sudden change in oneself.

LUKÉRYA. It certainly must be sudden. What's there to wait for?

TATYÁNA. He's angry with me now; how can I approach him? I can't beg his

LUKÉRYA. Why pardon? [_She thinks_] Do it this way: you tell grandfather
Arkhíp that you'd like to make up with your husband, so that you'd have
no misunderstandings, that you love your husband, and that you feel his
displeasure very much.

TATYÁNA. Well, I'll try.

LUKÉRYA. It's all the same to me! I'm talking for your own good.

TATYÁNA. Go and bring grandfather; he's sitting in the garden. [LUKÉRYA
_goes out_] That's what it is for a woman to have wits! Even if she takes a
fancy to a man she won't let anybody guess it. She'll so fool her husband
that he'll just dote on her. But without wit one is lost.

LUKÉRYA _comes in leading_ ARKHÍP.



ARKHÍP. Do you need me? What do you want me for? Tatyána, are you here?

TATYÁNA. Yes, grandfather.

ARKHÍP. Lukérya is leading me, and she says: "Grandfather Arkhíp, we need
you!" What business can you have of me in my old age?

LUKÉRYA. You see, grandfather, sister is displeased with her husband.

ARKHÍP. Well, what of that? Who is the judge between husband and wife? Let
them live as they wish.

TATYÁNA. What happiness is there in living so? It is better to live in

ARKHÍP. Then what's the matter? Live in harmony! Who's preventing you?

LUKÉRYA. You see, he has a very crude manner, and we're not used to it.

ARKHÍP. Wait, don't put in your word. She has a tongue of her own. You tell
me, Tatyána.

TATYÁNA. My husband is now angry with me and doesn't even look at me; he
thinks I don't love him, and in that he's mistaken.

LUKÉRYA. [_Motioning to_ TATYÁNA _to talk_] She's afraid of his temper.

TATYÁNA. I love him as my duty requires. If he thinks badly of me, I don't
deserve it. Does he think I could betray him for any one else? I would
never do such a thing in my life.

LUKÉRYA. And such a splendid man! Doesn't she realize it?

TATYÁNA. If I had wronged him in any way, then he might scold, and be done
with it. But if he'll only be kind to me, then I'll show him all respect.
I'll indulge him as he never dared hope.

LUKÉRYA. How many times she's told me: "I love my husband very much, very,
very much."

ARKHÍP. What do you keep backing each other up for? Have you been plotting

LUKÉRYA. Why should I be silent? Is it pleasant for me to see that my
sister, whom I adore, lives in such discord with her husband? [_Signals to_

TATYÁNA. Grandfather Arkhíp, I want to ask you to have a talk with my

ARKHÍP. Wait! Wait! Give me time--don't take me off my feet! You say that
your husband is angry with you? Then you're to blame?

TATYÁNA. Much I am to blame!

ARKHÍP. Much or little, you're certainly to blame. You don't want to humble
yourself; you're ashamed to--so you ask me. Is that so?

TATYÁNA. Yes, grandfather Arkhíp.

ARKHÍP. Are you speaking sincerely, or just words?

TATYÁNA. Sincerely, grandfather.

ARKHÍP. But what's that to me! It's not my business. If you lie, then
you'll answer to God! But I will speak to him. Why not? If you stop
quarrelling, then it will be pleasant for all of us.

LUKÉRYA. You talk to him to-day.

ARKHÍP. I'll talk to him when he comes home. _Enter_ AFÓNYA.



ARKHÍP. Who came in?

AFÓNYA. I, Grandfather Arkhíp.

ARKHÍP. To-day we have a holiday, Afónya. Tatyána wishes to make peace with
her husband, and to submit to him.

AFÓNYA. Submit? Submit? Don't believe her, Grandfather Arkhíp, she's
fooling you.

ARKHÍP. That's enough from you!

TATYÁNA. Why should I fool you? What's the use?

AFÓNYA. You came to your senses when brother frightened you a little. You
ought to have done it long ago. If you're in earnest, then drop your proud
ways. You ought to bow down to your husband's feet, right to his feet. And
to all of us, to all. You have wronged all of us.

LUKÉRYA. [_In a low voice_] That would be entirely too much honor.

TATYÁNA. Why should I bow down to my husband?

AFÓNYA. For everything that he's done for you. I saw myself how he kneeled
before you! It's a shame! [_Covers his face with his hands_.

LUKÉRYA. What of it, if he wanted to?

AFÓNYA. He's no worse than you, yet he bowed down to you; now you bow down
to him. Make up to him for his humiliation. It won't hurt you! And bow down
to all of us, even to our brother-in-law and sister.

TATYÁNA. Bowing down to my husband has some sense in it, but why should I
to you?

AFÓNYA. Because brother insulted all of us on your account. On account
of you our family has been broken up. You're dearer to him than anybody,
dearer than all his own.

ARKHÍP. Calm yourself! Try to control this fit of anger! We want to make
peace, and you are starting a quarrel again.

LUKÉRYA. He's not even her husband, yet what awful things he says! If you
gave him his way, he would make our life unbearable.

ARKHÍP. [_Patting_ AFÓNYA _on the head_] What do you expect of him? He's a
sick man.

KRASNÓV _comes in_.



LUKÉRYA. [_In a low voice to_ ARKHÍP] Lev Rodionych is here.

ARKHÍP. Lev, you haven't had any dinner to-day.

KRASNÓV. I had no time.

TATYÁNA. If you wish, we'll serve you now.

KRASNÓV. [_Sitting down to the table_] Certainly. I can't get along without

TATYÁNA. Set the table, sister! [_Goes to the kitchen_. LUKÉRYA _sets the

ARKHÍP. Lev, are you going back to the shop?

KRASNÓV. No, I'm all through there.

ARKHÍP. Will you stay at home?

KRASNÓV. I'll be here for an hour, then I have to go across the river to
make a collection.

TATYÁNA _brings a plate of cabbage soup, puts it on the table, and goes
out with_ LUKÉRYA. KRASNÓV, _after eating several spoonfuls, is lost in

ARKHÍP. Lev! I can't see you, but it seems as if you weren't happy.

KRASNÓV. What's there to be happy about?

ARKHÍP. Why are you so sad? What's your sorrow?

KRASNÓV. It's my sorrow, grandfather, mine. My very own. It's for me to
judge of it.

ARKHÍP. Well, as you choose! It's your sorrow, and for you to bear.
[_Pause_] If I say anything, you know I'm not your enemy; if you scold
me, there's no harm in it. I've lived longer than you, and I've seen more
sorrow; maybe what I say will be good for you.

KRASNÓV. It isn't the kind of affair, grandfather, that needs advice! You
can't tell me anything.

ARKHÍP. You're foolish, foolish! How do you know? Are you wiser than the
rest of us?

KRASNÓV. Please stop. I can't discuss with you. What do you want? _Strikes
the spoon against the bowl angrily_. LUKÉRYA _enters, places a bowl of mush
on the table, and goes out_.

ARKHÍP. Your wife is wiser than you, really wiser.

KRASNÓV. If she were wise she'd obey her husband.

ARKHÍP. Not necessarily! One can't be on one's guard every minute! Don't
you hold anger for every little thing. One wrong--is no wrong; and two
wrongs--a half wrong; it takes three wrongs to make a whole wrong.

KRASNÓV. What wrongs! All wrongs aren't the same. For some wrongs
strangling would be mild.

ARKHÍP. What makes you so fierce? Nowadays, they don't hang a man even for
highway robbery.

KRASNÓV. I can't even eat my food.

ARKHÍP. You have a terrible temper! I began to talk about your wife; that
wasn't just for the sake of saying something. She came to her senses before
you did. [KRASNÓV _listens_] "Grandfather Arkhíp," says she, "put in a word
for me to my husband! I love him," says she, "but I'm afraid of his temper.
He seems to think me bad without any reason. I wouldn't exchange him
for any one," says she. "I'd try to please him in every way, just so he
forgives me and doesn't get angry."

KRASNÓV. Is that true?

ARKHÍP. Have you gone absolutely crazy? Do you think I'd turn liar in my
old age? She'd have told you herself; she wants to bow down to you but, you
see, she's ashamed, and then she's afraid.

KRASNÓV. [_Rising_] Grandfather Arkhíp, understand me! You know how I love
her, there's no need telling! Until this happened, we lived together very
comfortably; you all saw how I simply doted on her. Now that this gentleman
has come I see that he talks in too free and easy a way with her; and that
made me angry. Would you believe me, I didn't know what I was doing or
saying. When she went to him, I waited half an hour--she didn't return; I
waited an hour--she didn't return; I became furious; my very teeth began
to chatter. Here I was imagining all sorts of things! Maybe I'm doing her
wrong, am unjust to her; maybe she meant nothing; but what was there to do?
I'm consumed with a fire, absolutely consumed, I wronged her, I admit; but
was it easy for me? If you'd told me that she'd just died--I don't know
what I'd do with myself, but it would be easier; then no one could take her
from me. [_Weeps_] Some want money or reputation, but I need nothing except
her love. Give me the choice: Here, Krasnóv, you can have gold-mines and
royal castles, if you'll only give up your wife; or here, you can have a
roofless mud hut, all sorts of hard work, but you may live with your wife.
I won't utter a sound. I'll carry water on my back, just to be with her
always. So listen, grandfather! Is it strange that with my hot temper I
hurt her? If there's no love, then there's no anger. But you tell me that
she herself wants to bow down to me! Such happiness can't come to me even
in a dream. Certainly that is a load off my shoulders. It seems as
though I'd just been born into the world! Thank you, grandfather Arkhíp!
I was a dead man and you brought me to life again! I had such thoughts in
my head that I can't make up for them by praying all my life. The devil was
surely near me. Not only did he whisper in my ear, but--it's a sin to say
it--[_in a low voice_] he might have made me raise my arm.

ARKHÍP. What! At whom?

KRASNÓV. Well, what's past is past. God preserve me from such torment in
the future! I wouldn't wish such for my enemy.

ARKHÍP. You'd better calm your heart!

KRASNÓV. Ah, grandfather! I'd be glad to, but one can't restrain oneself.
All at once your eyes become clouded, your head whirls, it seems as if
some one were gripping your heart with his hand and you can think only of
misfortune and sin. You walk about as if half crazed, and see nothing all
around you. But now when your anger has calmed down, then you're at ease,
as if nothing had happened. [LUKÉRYA _comes in and takes the bowl from the
table_] Where's Tatyána Danílovna?

LUKÉRYA. She's there, in the kitchen.

KRASNÓV. Why in the kitchen? What is she doing there? The kitchen is no
place for her to sit in! Call her in here.

LUKÉRYA _goes out_.

AFÓNYA. [_In a low voice to_ ARKHÍP] Grandfather, will she bow down to
brother's feet or not? If not, then I'll leave.

ARKHÍP. As they please, that's not our business!




TATYÁNA. Did you call me?

KRASNÓV. Yes, because the kitchen is no fit place for you to sit in.

ARKHÍP. I have spoken to him, Tatyána; now do as you like yourself.

TATYÁNA. Lev Rodionych! If I've done you any wrong whatever, please pardon
me. If you wish it, I'll bow down to your feet.

KRASNÓV. No, why should you? I can feel it without your doing that. I could
never allow you to do that--to bow down before me! What kind of man would I
be then?

TATYÁNA. I'm willing to do anything, only do not be angry with me.

KRASNÓV. I need nothing but your word. You gave your word--that's enough;
it's my duty to believe you.

TATYÁNA. Then you're not angry with me?

KRASNÓV. Not at all! I'm not a man of polished manners; in my excitement I
stormed--but don't take it ill of me; I did it because I was fond of you.

LUKÉRYA. Oh, stop! Who could take it ill of you?

TATYÁNA. I've already forgotten it. Your words didn't hurt me so much as
that you didn't even look at me to-day.

ARKHÍP. Well, now they've made up! What's the use of thrashing over old
scandals! Now kiss, as you should. Now everything will go on as it ought.

TATYÁNA. We won't fuss over that, grandfather. I'll be very glad to. I
wanted to long ago, but I didn't know how it would please Lev Rodionych.

KRASNÓV. If it's a pleasure to you, it's a double one for me! [_They kiss
each other_.

LUKÉRYA. I've always marvelled, Lev Rodionych, to see how sister loves you.

KRASNÓV. What's there to marvel at?

LUKÉRYA. I know her, Lev Rodionych, better than you do. She's of a quiet
temperament and can't tell you everything; but you just ought to know what
her real feelings are.

KRASNÓV. That makes it more pleasant still.

LUKÉRYA. She would have liked to tell you how much she loved you; but she's
so timid that she can't.

KRASNÓV. [_To his wife_] Why are you timid with me? I'm only an ordinary

LUKÉRYA. We are so naturally.

KRASNÓV. [_To his wife_] Then be kind enough not to be afraid of me in the
future. That would trouble my conscience. Am I a bogie?

TATYÁNA. I'll not be afraid of you any more, Lev Rodionych; I'll love you.

LUKÉRYA. Other women would make you all sorts of promises that they didn't
mean a bit, but my sister--she's different.

KRASNÓV. Now I can understand you. There were times when I didn't know just
how to approach you--whether you'd be pleased or not!

TATYÁNA. You always please me.

AFÓNYA. Come, Grandfather Arkhíp, let's go out on the street!

ARKHÍP. As you wish; come on! Now, thank God, we again have peace and love.
It's good when there's agreement in the house! It's good, children, good!
[_Going out_] The demon has vanished under the earth, and God walks on the
earth! [_Goes out_.

LUKÉRYA. I just looked in here and now I must go somewhere else. [_Goes



KRASNÓV. [_Sitting down on the bench_] Ah, Tatyána Danílovna, if God would
only grant that we might live our entire lives in such harmony as now!

TATYÁNA. [_Sitting down beside him_] We will.

KRASNÓV. If you were always so kind, you could fairly twist me round your
finger. You can do anything with me by kindness, Tatyána Danílovna.

TATYÁNA. [_Placing her hand on his shoulder_] I don't need anything from
you; I'm satisfied with everything. But don't think ill of me. Why were you
so jealous?

KRASNÓV. [_Embracing her_] So you were offended! [_Looking at her
lovingly_] You're my dear! Whatever is dear to one he guards. Why, you're
dearer to me than everything in the world! What a wife you are! Who else
has such a one? You're the envy of the whole city--don't I see that? Who
would want to lose such a wife? In the first place, it's just like tearing
a piece out of his heart; and secondly with their taunts and reproaches
they would give me no peace, drive me wild. I must tell you, I love you
more than my soul, and I had no intention of abusing you, but--how can I
explain it?--I can't help having notions.

TATYÁNA. Don't have them.

KRASNÓV. That's all over now.

TATYÁNA. [_Kindly_] Don't you insult me by watching me!

KRASNÓV. I tell you that's all past! Give me a good hard kiss! [_They kiss
each other_] That's right! Now tell me why you love me? How can you be so
attached to me?

TATYÁNA. I just love you, that's all.

KRASNÓV. No, do tell me! It does me good to hear it from you. I want to
know what there is in me that could make such a beauty fall in love with
me. Did I please you by my wit or by something else?

TATYÁNA. By everything. Who could say anything bad of you? Everybody knows
you're a good man.

KRASNÓV. And what else?

TATYÁNA. You're very kind, and you don't begrudge me anything.

KRASNÓV. That's the talk! [_Embraces her fervently and kisses her_] Well,
love me still more and then I'll be still kinder. What are you frowning at?
Did I muss you a little?

TATYÁNA. You're holding me too tight.

KRASNÓV. Oh, for the Lord's sake! I just can't help it! I squeeze you the
way I love you. It's right from the heart, no humbug. I don't suppose
you're made of sugar; you won't fall to pieces.

TATYÁNA. That's all right.

KRASNÓV. I know you didn't mean anything. What's there to complain of! No
need to get angry at such treatment! Isn't that so?

TATYÁNA. You know yourself, why ask!

KRASNÓV. Such is life with a good woman! Peaches and cream! Simply lovely!
Nothing on earth is better! What is the reason that you're so precious to
us men?

TATYÁNA. I don't know.

KRASNÓV. It's the work of Providence--truly, of Providence! It's beyond our
understanding! We know one thing, that--if you're attached to your wife,
that's enough. If you're once attached, then that's all. Now that we're
friends, the house might burn down over my head. [_Kisses her_] To-day I'll
go and collect some money, and to-morrow I'll buy you a new outfit.

TATYÁNA. What for? You don't need to.

KRASNÓV. If I say I'll buy it, then that's my affair. So I do need to buy
it. You attend to your business; comfort your husband! And I'll attend to
mine. [_Looking at his watch_] Oh, there's lots of time! I'd better go! I
wish I didn't have to leave you.

TATYÁNA. Don't go!

KRASNÓV. Don't you really want me to go? Don't act spoiled! Business before
pleasure! If I don't make the collection to-day, I can't get my money for
a whole week. It's so far to go, too! I wish he'd--Why, it's on the other
side of the river! It'll take an hour; confound him! [_Takes his cap_] So
you don't want me to go?

TATYÁNA. Of course not!

KRASNÓV. Oh, what a woman you are! [_Embraces her_] I know your kind,
and very well too! You just wait for me an hour, you'll live through it!
[_Kisses her_] Good-by! Otherwise I'd really be bound to stay with you. You
women were created for man's temptation in this world! [_Starts off_.

TATYÁNA. Come back soon!

KRASNÓV. I'll be back 'fore you can count ten! Speaking seriously, I can't
return within an hour. [_He goes out_.


TATYÁNA _alone_

TATYÁNA. [_As soon as her husband goes_] Well, good-by! At last he's gone!
I'm unfortunate, unfortunate! They say one ought to love one's husband; but
how can I love him? He's vulgar, uneducated--and he fondles me as a bear
would! Sits there--and swaggers like a peasant; and I have to pretend to
love him, to humor him; how disgusting! I'd give anything on earth not to
have to do that. But how can I help it! I have to submit to one I don't
love! [_Silence_] I wonder where everybody is? Here I am all alone! Such
loneliness! [_Sits down at the window_] Even the streets are deserted, and
there's no one to look at. Where's my sister? [_Sings softly_.

    "O, mother I'm sad!
    Sad, my lady!
    My heart is cast down,
    Cast down and aching;
    My beloved knows not
    How my heart is bleeding."



LUKÉRYA. What, is he gone?



TATYÁNA. Across the river.

LUKÉRYA. Will he be long?

TATYÁNA. He said, not sooner than an hour.

LUKÉRYA. Now you might run over. I was just there--he's waiting. He leaves

TATYÁNA. Surely not to-day? How can that be, Lusha, my dear? He didn't tell
me. If I could only see him!

LUKÉRYA. Take my kerchief and cover yourself all up with it. It's so dark
outside that no one will know you.

TATYÁNA. You think it'll be all right?

LUKÉRYA. If you're afraid of the wolf don't go into the woods. It isn't
far, you can run over in a minute. But don't stay too long!

TATYÁNA. No, no, of course I shan't. [_Puts the kerchief on_.

LUKÉRYA. You'd better be watching out! God forbid that Lev Rodionych should
return first. What should I do then! Shall I say that you went for some
thread to a neighbor? It'll be lucky if he believes it. What did you say to
him when you were alone?

TATYÁNA. What did I say--I don't know; and what I'm doing now--I can't

LUKÉRYA. Well, run along! run along!

TATYÁNA _goes out_.


LUKÉRYA _and later_ AFÓNYA

LUKÉRYA. [_At the window_] Just look at her! She's flying like an arrow.
Who'd scheme for her if I didn't? She's a pretty girl, only she hasn't
any sense, and that's bad. She has to be taught everything; she has to be
looked after as though she were a small child. If I hadn't advised her to
make up with her husband, what would have happened? Quarrel and abuse.
She probably wouldn't have wanted to give in; then there'd have been a
continual squabble in the house and scandal among the neighbors. But now
she can do as she likes; everything will be smoothed over. _Enter_ AFÓNYA.

AFÓNYA. Where is Tatyána? Where is she, where is she?

LUKÉRYA. What do you want her for?

AFÓNYA. I need her. Tell me, where? Tell me, where?

LUKÉRYA. Probably in the garden.

AFÓNYA. Why are you fooling me? For once in your life tell the truth! Has
she gone? Speak, has she gone?

LUKÉRYA. Maybe she has gone.

AFÓNYA. Did she just slip out of the gate?

LUKÉRYA. Probably it was she. Wasn't it for thread she went? She's been
wanting to run over to the neighbor's for some time.

AFÓNYA. For thread?

LUKÉRYA. Well, yes, for thread.

AFÓNYA. You lie, lie!

LUKÉRYA. Leave me alone! Why are you worrying me? Why did you leave

AFÓNYA. That's none of your business. I know where she went. You're devils.
You've deceived brother. I saw it long ago in your eyes; in your eyes
flames flickered, devilish flames!

LUKÉRYA. My, but you're a malicious imp!

AFÓNYA. You just wait, just wait! You'll get sick of deceiving us; I'll
show you up.

LUKÉRYA. Don't threaten! We're not afraid of you.

AFÓNYA. [_With tears_] Heavens! My God! What's all this? What a man it is
they're deceiving before his very eyes! [_Runs out_.



_A street before_ PROKÓFYEVNA'_s house. Twilight_


ULYÁNA _and_ PROKÓFYEVNA _come out of the gate_

PROKÓFYEVNA. What is it, Ulyana! What is it! How is it possible! Don't
think of such a thing! You just imagined it. Believe me, you just imagined

ULYÁNA. Say what you like about imagining! Thank Heaven, I'm not blind yet.
Not to recognize her! Why, I'd pick her out of a thousand by her dress. We
have only one style for our clothes; on holidays we don't wear the clothes
she does on week-days. You and I were just coming out of the door, and she
was just going in to see him.

PROKÓFYEVNA. I tell you it's a mistake. It's true, she isn't without
faults. There's a woman here who comes to him, and looks like her, but it
isn't she. What's that to me! Wouldn't I tell you? But if it isn't true,
then why talk nonsense?

ULYÁNA. You're just helping them out.

PROKÓFYEVNA. Don't tell wrong stories, Ulyana; don't tell wrong stories!

ULYÁNA. But where's the wrong, Prokófyevna! She's equal to it; because I
know her. It's too bad brother has given her so much freedom. I wouldn't
have thought of saying such a thing of another, but it isn't a sin to say
it of her. If not to-day then to-morrow she'll begin to raise trouble that
will never come to an end. She'll hoodwink brother. If you only knew how
she's insulted me.

PROKÓFYEVNA. Is that so?

ULYÁNA. May I die in my tracks if she didn't! She's changed brother so that
now he fairly growls at me. "I won't have anything to do with you," says
he. That's the sort she is! Just you wait, my dear! I'm not like some.

PROKÓFYEVNA. That's enough for you! What's the good of your mixing in!
She's the mistress in her house, and you are in yours.

ULYÁNA. To the deuce with her! I've nothing to do with her. But it hurts
me, Prokófyevna, that she upsets brother, and estranges him from his whole

PROKÓFYEVNA. Well, that's your business; you'll settle accounts somehow.
Are you going home now?

ULYÁNA. Yes, my dear; it's supper-time. My boss is probably storming and
pacing the floor by now. Come and see us!


_They kiss each other. PROKÓFYEVNA goes out through the gate._



ULYÁNA. Who knows whether Prokófyevna was lying or not. You can't believe
her; she's a rogue. I'd give a lot to find out for certain if she's now
with the gentleman or not. Will it hurt to wait? If she stays long, my
husband will make such a fuss that I won't forget it for a month of
Sundays. You're lucky that I'm in a hurry, or I'd watch out for you. [_Goes
out. She meets AFÓNYA_] Afónya, where are you going?

AFÓNYA. Go away, leave me alone! Leave me alone!

ULYÁNA. Is Tatyána at home?

AFÓNYA. No, she's gone.

ULYÁNA. Then she's here at the gentleman's; I just saw her.

AFÓNYA. At the gentleman's? Heavens! Have people no sense of shame!

ULYÁNA. I've got to run home; I'll tell my husband, then I'll call at your
house. [_Going away_] Wait, brother, wait! I'll get even with you for your
insults! [_Goes out_.

AFÓNYA. Heavens! I haven't any strength! How is one to live in such a
world? This is a punishment for our sins! Left her husband for a stranger!
She was sitting in a corner starving; we took care of her, gave her fine
clothes bought with hard-earned money! Brother denies himself, denies his
family, and gives her cash to buy rags, and now she and a stranger are
cursing us for the shelter we gave her. It makes me sick! Why don't I die!
I'm shedding tears of blood. We've warmed a viper in our bosom. [_Leans
against the fence_] I'll wait, I'll wait. I'll tell her everything,
everything that's seething in my heart.

BABÁYEV _and_ TATYÁNA _come out of the gate_; AFÓNYA _hides behind a



BABÁYEV. What are you afraid of? There's not a soul on the street. Why are
you in such a hurry? It isn't half an hour since you came.

TATYÁNA. No, no! Somehow I feel uneasy.

BABÁYEV. I don't understand why you are so afraid. Well, your husband will
scold and that's all.

TATYÁNA. I was late the time before; how terribly he acted; I thought he'd
kill me. He makes me afraid, frightfully afraid! [_Silence_] Shall you
return soon?

BABÁYEV. In a week, in ten days at most.

TATYÁNA. Oh, how has this come about! Oh, if we had what we wanted: you'd
go to the country--and I'd go there too; you'd go to St. Petersburg--and
I'd follow you.

BABÁYEV. I asked you to come with me.

TATYÁNA. It's all right for you. You're a free man, while I'm no better
than a captive. That's my trouble. I've thought more than once how I could
run away to you.

BABÁYEV. That's good.

TATYÁNA. Just think how unfortunate my life is: in order to have a little
pleasure I have to deceive my husband. It's all deceit and deceit! But
what's the use of deceiving? It disgusts me; it's not in my character. If
my husband guessed that I didn't love him, then he'd kill me with scolding
and reproaches. I very well understand that I can't be a real wife to him,
and that I'm not wanted by his family; and they'd rather I were anywhere
else; but who can I explain that to, who'd understand it! Just see how
rough and stern they are, and I'm not used to sternness. What a life, when
there's no freedom!

BABÁYEV. Tánya, I'll tell you what to do! Tell him outright that you don't
want to live with him. You and your sister rent a house, and I'll send you
the money.

TATYÁNA. That's impossible. Not to be thought of! Do you think he'd let me
go? He doesn't care if I die--so long as I'm with him--before his eyes. It
would be better for me to leave quietly.

BABÁYEV. Very well, leave quietly.

TATYÁNA. Really, I don't know. We're all brave when it's a matter of words,
but when it comes to action, then you lose your reason, especially such as
I. Do as you wish. I'll do as you advise me. If you love me, you won't want
to cause my ruin.

BABÁYEV. Of course not.

TATYÁNA. They're right when they say that all women are insane; I married
of my own accord--nobody forced me--so now I ought to live according to my
vows; but I'm drawn to you, and want to escape from my home. It's all your
fault, Valentin Pávlich; home has become disgusting to me because of you.
If it weren't for you, I'd manage to live somehow with my husband; at least
I shouldn't know this sorrow.

BABÁYEV. A fine life! You have much to regret!

TATYÁNA. But is my life agreeable now? Of course I ought not to blame you
much, because I'm entirely to blame myself. You have nothing to worry
about! Yours is a man's affair, and no one will condemn you; but we have
to suffer for every single thing. But what's to be done! It's too late to
argue who's in the right and who's to blame; but I guess this affair had to
happen. But don't you deceive me; come back!

BABÁYEV. Oh, stop; what do you mean! Certainly I'll come back.

TATYÁNA. [_Kissing him_] Good-by! It's time for me to go! My, how I'm
shivering! My legs fairly totter under me.

BABÁYEV. Calm yourself a little. Come, I'll walk along the bank with you;
you'll get home in time. [_They go out_.

AFÓNYA. So this, brother Lev, is what you deserted us for! Just look, and
enjoy it! You act like a wild beast to those who love you with their whole
soul. I'm burning up like a candle, I'm wasting away because of love and
pity for you, and yet I haven't once heard a kind word from you. You doted
on your wife, and see what she's up to, the wretch! No, there's no truth in
the world, none. [_Goes out_.


_Same room as in_ ACT III


LUKÉRYA _enters with a candle and places it on a table; later_ AFÓNYA
_comes in_.

LUKÉRYA. Why doesn't Tánya return! It's high time, She's insane! She's just
glad that she got out of here; she doesn't realize that suddenly, when you
least expect it, her husband may return. Here I am on pins and needles.
When I hear any one at the door my heart almost stops. Every minute seems
a year. Afónya torments me too. I wonder where he went. Isn't he spying on
her? Of course I can find ten replies to every word he says; yet he may
rouse suspicion. Ah, some one is coming! Is it possible that it's Lev!
Heaven forbid! I do believe I'll die. [AFÓNYA _comes in, and, groaning,
lies down on the stove-couch_] Where have you been?

AFÓNYA. Never you mind.

LUKÉRYA. Speak, it won't hurt your voice.

AFÓNYA. I don't want to talk to you.

LUKÉRYA. [_Caressingly_] Don't you feel well, Afónya?

AFÓNYA. Oh, Heavens! don't touch me, don't touch! You can't fool me.

LUKÉRYA. I don't in the least wish to fool you.

AFÓNYA. You fooled brother, but you can't fool me. No, no! LUKÉRYA. I don't
understand a bit what you're talking about.

AFÓNYA. Oh, I'm exhausted! Go away: out of my sight. Don't torment me.

LUKÉRYA. You feel worse because you don't appreciate kindness.

AFÓNYA. I don't need it! I don't need anything.

LUKÉRYA. Well, then just lie on your couch. Do you think I want anything
from you? I only spoke out of sympathy. [_Silence_] What a senseless girl;
how senseless! I'm all a-tremble.

KRASNÓV comes in.


The same and KRASNÓV

KRASNÓV. Well, here I am. What a trick I've played! The joke's on Tatyána
Danílovna. "Expect me in an hour," I said, and here I am in half an hour,
so she'd be surprised. I was invited to tea, but I didn't stay. "Do you
think I want tea," I said, "when I have a young wife at home who's waiting
for me!" But where is she?

LUKÉRYA. I don't know. Somewhere around. Isn't she in the garden?

KRASNÓV. Send her in right away, I want to give her a present for her
kindness to-day.

LUKÉRYA. Right away, right away. [_Goes out_]

KRASNÓV. [_Paces up and dawn in silence; then speaks to himself_]
Fifty-seven rubles, six and three, nine to Peter Ananyev. [_Pause_] Has she
disappeared? [_Paces up and down in silence_] Afónya, do you know where my
wife went?

AFÓNYA. Don't know. Oh, I feel sick.

KRASNÓV. What's she dallying around for? [_Goes to the door_] Tatyána
Danílovna! Lukérya Danílovna! They don't even answer. What does that mean
now? Afanásy, where's my wife?

AFÓNYA. Are you lonesome without her? She'll come, don't be afraid. No
matter where she's strolling, she'll come home.

KRASNÓV. [_At the door_] Tatyána Danílovna!

ULYÁNA _comes in_.


_The same and_ ULYÁNA

KRASNÓV. Who's that? Is that you, Ulyana?

ULYÁNA. Yes, brother.

KRASNÓV. What do you want?

ULYÁNA. Just to call on you, brother, as a relative should.

KRASNÓV. I'm in no great need of your calls.

ULYÁNA. My feelings, brother, are different from yours; I can't help
remembering my kindred. Where's your bride?

KRASNÓV. She seems to have gotten lost somewhere here. I keep calling her,
but can't raise her.

ULYÁNA. Maybe she's far away from here, so she can't hear your call

KRASNÓV. What do you mean by "far"? I tell you she's at home.

ULYÁNA. Who said that? Wasn't it her sister, Lukérya Danílovna?

KRASNÓV. Yes, maybe it was she.

ULYÁNA. And you believed her. Oh, you're simple, simple!

KRASNÓV. Go away, sister! Keep out of trouble!

ULYÁNA. Come to your senses; what are you shouting for? I saw with my own
eyes how she went to the gentleman.

KRASNÓV. So that's the kind of family I have! My luck sticks in their
throats. You're a barbarian, you jealous woman. To kill you would be small
penalty for your cursed tongue! [_Raises his arm to strike her_.

AFÓNYA. [_Getting up from the couch_] Quieter, you; quieter! What are you
making a row for?

KRASNÓV. I'll hang you both on the same poplar!

AFÓNYA. [_Shielding his sister_] Don't touch her, don't lay a finger on
her! She's telling the truth, the absolute truth.

KRASNÓV. You lie, you're jealous, both of you! It isn't an hour, I tell
you; it isn't an hour since we sat here, kissing and embracing, looking
into each other's eyes and couldn't get enough of it.

ULYÁNA. Heavens, he's out of his head! You've lost your mind! Go and see
for yourself if you don't believe us.

KRASNÓV. [_At the door_] Lukérya Danílovna!

ULYÁNA. Call, call; she ran over there, too. _Enter_ KÚRITSYN.


_The same and_ KÚRITSYN

KÚRITSYN. What are you yelling for, are you teaching your wife? That's good
for her, so she won't run away from home.

KRASNÓV. But where is she? Where is she? Spare me; you're tearing me to

KÚRITSYN. She'll come back; she doesn't spend the night there.

ULYÁNA. You'd better calm yourself, brother; sit down.

KÚRITSYN. We'll all wait for her, the lady.

KRASNÓV. She petted me, fondled me, pressed me close to her heart.

TATYÁNA _enters quietly and looks around_.


_The same and_ TATYÁNA

KRASNÓV. Where have you been? Have you had a good time? Speak, don't hide
it! Why are you silent? Speak! You see: everybody has come to view my

ULYÁNA. Why don't you talk, you shameless creature! You think you can get
out of it by silence? We saw how you went over there and came back.

KÚRITSYN. Trample on her, brother, trample on her hard; she'll talk.

KRASNÓV. Don't torment me! Tell me, what am I to think of you? What? Are
these people lying? Then I'll turn 'em out, head over heels! Or maybe
they're telling the truth? Deliver me from my sinful thoughts! Tell me,
which of you is my enemy? Were you there?

TATYÁNA. What's the use of lying, since you've all seen me. I was there.

KRASNÓV. [_Beside himself_] There, good people, there--that's how it is!
What shall I do now? What can I--pardon me, a sinner, for doing you wrong!
How other men's wives behave, I don't know; but this is the way in our

ULYÁNA. Now we'll watch your pride. How will you show yourself among people
now, shameless woman? You've disgraced our brother, disgraced him!

AFÓNYA. Viper, viper!

KÚRITSYN. What's the use of looking at her! She ought to pay the penalty
right off.

_ARKHÍP comes in._


_The same and_ ARKHÍP

ARKHÍP. What punishment has God sent us? Why so much noise? Is there a
fire? You know I can't see.

ULYÁNA. The sweet bride has been up to mischief! If I were in brother's
place, I'd take her and crush her.

KRASNÓV. Away, away! Don't, don't anybody lay a finger on her! I'm her
husband, so I'm her judge. Now tell me, why did you do it? Why did you go
astray? Were you drawn into the net of sin? Perhaps you didn't dream of
such a thing of your own accord. Perhaps you didn't expect it? Or did you
rush into sin of your own free will? How about you now? Do you repent or
not? Or maybe you think that was the right thing to do? Speak! Why are you
silent? Are you abashed before people, or are you happy? Are you ashamed,
or are you glad of what you've done? Are you made of stone? Roll at every
one's feet, crucify yourself! Or will you tell me outright that you did it
to spite me! I want to know what to do with you--spare you, or kill you.
Did you love me at least a little bit; is there any reason for my sparing
you? Or did you cheat me all the time? Did I only dream of happy days?

TATYÁNA. [_With tears_] I'm guilty, Lev Rodionych. I deceived you. I never
loved you, and don't love you now. You'd better leave me, rather than have
both of us suffer. Better that we part!

KRASNÓV. How part? Where shall we go? No, you lie! Whom shall I punish for
my shame? You say you don't love me, and never did, while I went around
town and boasted that a beautiful lady loved me. How shall I take revenge
for this insult? Go in the kitchen! You can't be a wife, so be a cook! You
couldn't walk hand in hand with your husband, so fetch water for him. You
have aged me in a day, and now I'll make sport of your beauty! Every day
that the fair sun rises, you'll get nothing from me but slaps and curses
all your life; maybe some time when I'm angry, I'll kill you like a dog.
Some one give me a knife!

TATYÁNA _runs out_.

AFÓNYA. Brother! brother! She's going, she's going away.

KRASNÓV. She won't escape me!

AFÓNYA. She's going to the gentleman. I heard them planning to go away to
the country.

KRASNÓV. Who'll take her from me, if I won't give her up? Who in the whole
world is strong enough to take her from me? If they take her they'll have
to tear my arms off.

AFÓNYA. [_Looking out of the door_] Brother, she's getting ready! She's
leaving, brother!

KRASNÓV. [_Pushing him aside_] Stand aside! A woman leaves her husband
only for the grave, for nowhere else! [_Goes out. The cry of_ TATYÁNA _is
heard_: "Let me go!" _He comes back_] Bind me! I've killed her.

AFÓNYA. Serves her right.

ULYÁNA. Ah, my dear! What will happen to you now?

ARKHÍP. Where is he? Where is he? [AFÓNYA _leads him_] What have you done?
Who gave you the right? Is she guilty only towards you? First of all, she
is guilty before God; and you, a proud and willful man, have taken it upon
yourself to judge? You couldn't wait for the merciful judgment of God; so
now go to the judgment of man, yourself! Bind him!

KÚRITSYN. He didn't expect it, he didn't foresee it, but he fell into
sorrow! Sorrow walks not through the woods, but among men.




SAMSÓN SÍLYCH BOLSHÓV[1], _a merchant_

[Footnote 1: Samsón Strengthson Bigman.]




[Footnote 2: Sneaky.]

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA, _a professional match-maker_


[Footnote 3: Unfrocked.]

FOMÍNISHNA, _housekeeper_ }
                          } _in_ BOLSHÓV'S _house_
TÍSKA[4], boy             }

[Footnote 4: A nickname for Tikhon.]


_Drawing-room in BOLSHÓV'S house_


_LÍPOCHKA is sitting near the window with a book_

LÍPOCHKA. What a pleasant occupation these dances are! Very good indeed!
What could be more delightful? You go to the assembly, or to somebody's
wedding, you sit down, naturally, all beflowered like a doll or a magazine
picture. Suddenly up runs a gentleman: "May I have the happiness, miss?"
Well, you see, if he's a man of wit, or a military individual, you accept,
drop your eyes a little, and answer: "If you please, with pleasure!" Ah!
[_Warmly_] Most fas-ci-nat-ing! Simply beyond understanding! [_Sighs_] I
dislike most of all dancing with students and government office clerks. But
it's the real thing to dance with army men! Ah, charming! ravishing! Their
mustaches, and epaulets, and uniforms, and on some of them even spurs with
little bits of bells. Only it's killingly tiresome that they don't wear a
sabre. Why do they take it off? It's strange, plague take it! The soldiers
themselves don't understand how much more fascinatingly they'd shine! If
they were to take a look at the spurs, the way they tinkle, especially if
a uhlan or some colonel or other is showing off--wonderful! It's just
splendid to look at them--lovely! And if he'd just fasten on a sabre, you'd
simply never see anything more delightful, you'd just hear rolling thunder
instead of the music. Now, what comparison can there be between a soldier
and a civilian? A soldier! Why, you can see right off his cleverness and
everything. But what does a civilian amount to? Just a dummy. [_Silence_] I
wonder why it is that so many ladies sit down with their feet under their
chairs. There's positively no difficulty in learning how! Although I was
a little bashful before the teacher, I learned how to do it perfectly in
twenty lessons. Why not learn how to dance? It's only a superstition not
to. Here mamma sometimes gets angry because the teacher is always grabbing
at my knees. All that comes from lack of education. What of it? He's a
dancing-master and not somebody else. [_Reflecting_] I picture to myself:
suddenly a soldier makes advances to me, suddenly a solemn betrothal,
candles burn everywhere, the butlers enter, wearing white gloves; I,
naturally, in a tulle or perhaps in a gauze gown; then suddenly they begin
to play a waltz--but how confused I shall be before him! Ah, what a shame!
Then where in the world shall I hide? What will he think? "Here," he'll
say, "an uneducated little fool!" But, no, how can that be! Only, you see
I haven't danced for a year and a half! I'll try it now at leisure.
[_Waltzing badly_] One--two--three; one--two--three--



AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. [_Entering_] Ah, ha, shameless creature! My heart
told me so; before it's fairly daylight, before you've eaten God's bread,
you start off dancing right away!

LÍPOCHKA. Now, mamma, I've drunk my tea and eaten some curd-cakes. Look
here, is this all right? One, two, three; one--two--

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. [_Following her_] What difference does it make if
you have had something to eat? I suppose I'll have to keep watching what
sinful pranks you're up to! I tell you, don't whirl around!

LÍPOCHKA. Pooh! where's the sin in that! Everybody's doing it nowadays.
One, two--

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Better knock your forehead against the table, but
don't fiddle around with your feet. [_She runs after her_] What's the
matter with you? Where did you get the idea of not obeying?

LÍPOCHKA. Who told you I didn't obey? Don't meddle; let me finish the way I
want to! One, two, three--

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Shall I have to run after you long, old woman as
I am? Ouf! You've worn me out, you barbarian! Do you hear? Stop! I'll
complain to your father!

LÍPOCHKA. Right away, right away, mamma! This is the last time around! God
created you expressly for complaining. Much I care for you! One--two--

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. What! you keep on dancing, and talk impudently into
the bargain! Stop it this minute! It'll be so much the worse for you; I'll
grab you by the skirt, and tear off the whole train.

LÍPOCHKA. Well, tear it, and much good may it do you! You'll simply have to
sew it up again, and that's all there is to it! [_She sits down_] Phew!
phew! my, I'm soaked through! as if I'd been pulling a van! Ouf! Mamma,
give me a handkerchief to wipe off the perspiration.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Wait, I'll wipe it off myself. You've half killed
yourself! And it's just as if somebody were making you do it. Since you
don't respect your mother, you might at least respect these walls. Your
father, my dear, has to make a great effort even to move his legs; but you
skip about here like a jumping-jack!

LÍPOCHKA. Go away with your advice! How can I act according to your
notions? Do you want me to get sick? That would be all right if I were a
doctor's wife. Ouf! What disgusting ideas you have! Bah! What a woman you
are, mamma, drat it! Honestly, I sometimes blush for your stupidity!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. What a darling child you are! Just consider how
you're insulting your mother! Ah, you stupid chatterbox! Is it right to
dishonor your parents with such words? Was it for this I brought you into
the world, taught you, and guarded you as carefully as if you were a

LÍPOCHKA. You didn't teach me--strangers did; that'll do, if you please.
You yourself, to tell the truth, had no bringing up. What of it? You bore a
child--what was I then?--a child without understanding, I didn't understand
the ways of society. But I grew up, I looked upon society manners, and I
saw that I was far more educated than others. Why should I show too much
indulgence for your foolishness? Why, indeed! Much reason for it, I must

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Let up, let up, you shameless girl! You'll drive me
out of patience; I'll go straight to your father, throw myself at his feet,
and say: "Samsón, dear, there's no living because of our daughter!"

LÍPOCHKA. Yes, there's no living for you! I imagine so. But do you give me
any chance to live? Why did you send away my suitor? Could there have
been a better match? Wasn't he a Coopid[1]? What did you find in him that
was soft?

[Footnote 1: An attempt to reproduce Lipochka's illiterate pronunciation
of the Russian word.]

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. He was soft enough; just a grinning booby. He came
swaggering around, swaggered, strutted, strutted. What a rare bird!

LÍPOCHKA. Yes, much you know! Of course he's a born gentleman; he behaves
in a delicate way. They always do like that in his circle--But how do you
dare to censure such people, of whom you haven't any idea? He, I tell you,
is no cheap merchant. [_She whispers aside_] My darling, my beauty!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Yes, a good darling! Do tell! Pity we didn't marry
you to some circus clown. Shame on you; there's some kind of folly in you;
you whisper right under your mother's nose, just to spite her.

LÍPOCHKA. I've reason enough, because you don't desire my happiness. You
and pa are only good for picking quarrels and tyrannizing!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. You can think what you please. The Lord is your
judge! But nobody feels the anxiety for her child that the mother who bore
her does! Here you're always posing and kicking up all kinds of nonsense,
while your father and I worry day and night about how to find you a good
man, and establish you quickly.

LÍPOCHKA. Yes, easy for you to talk; but just let me ask, what good does
that do me, if you please?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. As if you thought I wasn't sorry for you! But what
can I do? Have a mite of patience, even if you have been waiting a few
years. It's impossible to find a husband for you in a second; it's only
cats that catch mice in a jiffy.

LÍPOCHKA. What have I got to do with your cats! It's a husband I want.
What's the use! I'm ashamed to meet my acquaintances; in all Moscow we
weren't able to choose a husband; other girls kept having all the luck.
Wouldn't it make anybody sick? All my friends were married long ago, and
here I am like a kind of orphan! We found one man, and turned him down.
Now, look here: find me a husband, and find him quick!... I tell you in
advance, look me up a husband right off, or it'll be so much the worse for
you: purposely, just to spite you, I'll secretly scare up an adorer; I'll
run away with a hussar, and we'll get married on the quiet.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. What! What! You lewd creature! Who drummed such
nastiness into your head? Merciful Lord, I can't get my breath! Ah, you
dirty hussy! Well, there's nothing to be done. It's evident. I'll have to
call your father.

LÍPOCHKA. All you ever say is "father, father!" You have a lot to say when
he's around, but just try it when you're by yourself!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. So you think I'm a fool, do you? What kind of
hussars do you know, you brazen-faced creature? Phoo! Diabolical
idea! Perhaps you think I'm not able to make you mind? Tell me, you
shameless-eyed girl, where did you get that spiteful look? What, you want
to be sharper than your mother! It won't take me long, I tell you, to send
you into the kitchen to boil the kettles. Shame, shame on you! Ah! Ah! My
holy saints! I'll make you a hempen wedding-dress, and pull it on over your
head directly. I'll make you live with the pigs, instead of your parents!

LÍPOCHKA. How's that? Will I allow anybody to boss me about? The idea!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Shut up, shut up, you babbling Bessie! Give in to
your mother! What obstinate daring! Just peep another word and I'll stop
your mouth with a potato. A beautiful consolation the Lord has sent me in
you! Impudent slut! You're a miserable tomboy and you haven't a womanly
thought in your head! You're ready, I suppose, to jump on horseback and go
off like a soldier!

LÍPOCHKA. I suppose you'll ring in the police, presently! You'd do better
to keep still, since you weren't properly brought up. I'm absolutely vile;
but what are you, after all? Do you want to send me to the other world
before my time? Do you want to kill me with your caprices? [_She weeps_]
Already I'm about coughing my lungs out! [_Weeps._

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. [_Stands and looks at her_] Well, stop, stop!

LÍPOCHKA _weeps louder and then sobs._

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. I tell you, that'll do! I'm talking to you; stop it!
Well, it's my fault; only do stop--it's my fault!

LÍPOCHKA _weeps._

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Lipochka! Lipa! Come, come, do stop!
[_Tearfully_] Now, don't get angry at me--[_She weeps_] A silly old
woman--ignorant--[_They weep together_] Please forgive me--I'll buy you
some earrings.

LÍPOCHKA. [_Weeping_] I don't want your old earrings; I have a drawer full
already. You buy me some bracelets with emeralds.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. I will, I will, only please stop crying!

LÍPOCHKA. [_Through her tears_] I won't stop crying till I get married.
[_She weeps._

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. You'll get married, my darling; you will! Now, give
me a kiss! [_They kiss_] There, Christ be with you! Now let me wipe away
the tears for you. [_She wipes the tears_] Ustinya Naúmovna wanted to come
to-day; we're going to talk a bit.

LÍPOCHKA. [_In a voice still rather trembly_] Oh, dear, I wish she'd hurry


_The same and_ FOMÍNISHNA

FOMÍNISHNA. Just guess, my dear Agraféna Kondrátyevna, who's come to call
on us!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. I can't say. Do you think I'm a witch at guessing,

LÍPOCHKA. Why don't you ask me? Am I stupider than you or mamma?

FOMÍNISHNA. The fact is, I don't know how to tell you. You're pretty strong
on talk; but when it comes to action you aren't there! I asked you, and
asked you, to give me just a handkerchief--nothing expensive: two heaps of
stuff are lying around on your closet floor now without any care; but it
didn't do any good; it's always give it to strangers, give it to strangers!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. There, now, Fomínishna, I'll never make this out
till doomsday.

LÍPOCHKA. Let her go; she had a drink of beer after breakfast, and so she's
getting fuzzy in her head.

FOMÍNISHNA. That's all right; what are you laughing at? How's it coming
out, Agraféna Kondrátyevna? Sometimes the beginning is worse than the end.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. One can never find out anything from you! As soon as
you begin to talk, we have to stop up our ears! Now, who was it who came

LÍPOCHKA. A man or a woman?

FOMÍNISHNA. You can never see anything but men! Where in the world did one
ever see a man wearing a widow's bonnet? This is a widow's affair--so what
should her name be?

LÍPOCHKA. Naturally, a woman without a husband, a widow.

FOMÍNISHNA. So I was right? And it comes out that it is a woman!

LÍPOCHKA. What a senseless creature! Well, who is the woman?

FOMÍNISHNA. There, there now, you're clever, but no guesser; it couldn't be
anybody else but Ustinya Naúmovna.

LÍPOCHKA. Ah, mamma, how lucky!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Where has she been all this time? Bring her in
quickly, Fomínishna.

FOMÍNISHNA. She'll appear herself in a second. She stopped in the yard,
quarrelling with the porter; he didn't open the door quickly enough.



USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. [_Entering_] Ouf, fa, fa! Why do you have such a steep
staircase, my jewels? You climb, and climb, and much as ever you get there!

LÍPOCHKA. Oh, here she is! How are you, Ustinya Naúmovna?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Don't get in a hurry! There's people older than you.
I want to chatter with your mamma a bit first. [_Exchanges kisses with_
AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA] How are you, Agraféna Kondrátyevna? How did you feel
when you got up? How did you pass the night? All alive, my precious?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Thank the Lord! I'm alive, able to chew; I've been
joking with my daughter all the morning.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. All about dresses, I suppose. [_Exchanging kisses with_
LÍPOCHKA] Well, your turn has come. What's this! It seems as if you had
grown stouter, my jewel! Lord bless you! What could be better than to
blossom out in beauty!

FOMÍNISHNA. Shame on you, temptress! You'll give us bad luck yet!

LÍPOCHKA. Oh, what nonsense! It just looks that way to you, Ustinya
Naúmovna. I keep getting punier; first it's stomachache, then palpitation
of the heart--just like the beating of a pendulum. Now I have a sinking
feeling, or feel kind of seasick, and things swim before my eyes.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. [_To_ FOMÍNISHNA] Come on, you dear soul, let's have a
kiss now. To be sure, we've already exchanged greetings in the yard, my
jewel, so we don't need to rub lips again.

FOMÍNISHNA. Just as you wish. Of course I'm no lady of a household. I don't
amount to much; all the same I have a soul in me, and not just vapor!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. [_Sitting down_] Sit down, sit down, Ustinya
Naúmovna! Why do you stand up as stiff as a bean-pole? Fomínishna, go tell
them to heat up the samovar.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. I've had my tea, I've had it, my jewel; may I perish on
the spot if I haven't; and I've just dropped in for a moment.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. What are you loafing about for, Fomínishna? Run off
a little more nimbly, granny.

LÍPOCHKA. Let me, mamma, I'll go quicker; look how clumsy she is!

FOMÍNISHNA. Don't you meddle where you aren't asked! For my part, my dear
Agraféna Kondrátyevna, this is what I think: wouldn't it be nicer to serve
cordial and some herring?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Cordial's all right, and the samovar's all right. Or
are you stingy with other people's stuff? Well, when it's ready, have it
brought here.

FOMÍNISHNA. Certainly! All right! [_She goes out_.


_The same, without_ FOMÍNISHNA

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Well, haven't you any news, Ustinya Naúmovna? This
girl of mine is simply grieved to death.

LÍPOCHKA. And really, Ustinya Naúmovna, you keep coming, and coming, and no
good comes of it.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. But one can't fix things up quickly with you, my jewels.
Your daddy has his eye peeled for a rich fellow; he tells me he'll be
satisfied with any bell-boy provided he has money and asks a small enough
settlement. And your mamma also, Agraféna Kondrátyevna, is always wanting
her own taste suited; you must be sure to give her a merchant, with a
decoration, who keeps horses, and who crosses himself in the old way[1].
You also have your own notions. How's a person going to please you all?


_The same and_ FOMÍNISHNA, _who enters and places vodka and relishes on the

LÍPOCHKA. I won't marry a merchant, not for anything. I won't! As if I was
brought up for that, and learned French[1], and to play the piano, and to
dance! No, no; get him wherever you want to, but get me an aristocrat.

[Footnote 1: Evidently, Bolshóv and his family, like many other wealthy
Moscow merchants, belonged to the sect of the Old Believers, one of whose
dearest tenets is that the sign of the cross should be made with two
fingers instead of with three.]

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Here, you talk with her.

FOMÍNISHNA. What put aristocrats into your head? What's the special relish
in them? They don't even grow beards like Christians; they don't go to the
public baths, and don't make pasties on holidays. But, you see, even if
you're married, you'll get sick of nothing but sauce and gravy.

LÍPOCHKA. Fomínishna, you were born a peasant, and you'll turn up your toes
a peasant. What's your merchant to me? What use would he be? Has he any
ambition to rise in the world? What do I want of his mop?

FOMÍNISHNA. Not a mop, but the hair that God gave him, miss, that's it.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. See what a rough old codger your dad is; he doesn't
trim his beard; yet, somehow, you manage to kiss him.

LÍPOCHKA. Dad is one thing, but my husband is another. But why do you
insist, mamma? I have already said that I won't marry a merchant, and I
won't! I'd rather die first; I'll cry to the end of my life; if tears give
out, I'll swallow pepper.

FOMÍNISHNA. Are you getting ready to bawl? Don't you think of it!--What fun
do you get out of teasing her, Agraféna Kondrátyevna?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Who's teasing her? She's mighty touchy.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Well, well, if you've got your mind set on a nobleman,
we'll find you one. What sort do you want; rather stout, or rather lean?

LÍPOCHKA. Doesn't matter, it's all right if he's rather stout, so long as
he's no shorty. Of course he'd better be tall than an insignificant little
runt! And most of all, Ustinya Naúmovna, he mustn't be snub-nosed, and he
absolutely must be dark-complexioned. It's understood, of course, that
he must be dressed like the men in the magazines. [_She glances at the
mirror_] Oh, Lord, my hair looks like a feather-duster to-day!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Now, my jewel, I have a husband for you of the very sort
you describe: aristocratic, tall, and brown-complected.

LÍPOCHKA. Oh, Ustinya Naúmovna! Not brown-complected, but

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Yes, much I need, in my old age, to split my tongue
talking your lingo. What I said, goes. He has peasants, and wears a norder
about his neck. Now you go get dressed, and your mamma and I will talk this
thing over.

LÍPOCHKA. Oh, my dear, sweet Ustinya Naúmovna, come up to my room a bit
later; I must talk with you. Let's go, Fomínishna.

FOMÍNISHNA. Ha, what a fidgety child you are!

                                                 [_They go out._



AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Won't you have a sip of cordial before your tea,
Ustinya Naúmovna?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Don't care if I do, my jewel.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. [_Pouring_] With my compliments.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. You ought to drink first, my pearl.


AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. I'll look out for myself!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Ya! Phoo! Where d'you get this decoction?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. At the wine-shop. [_Drinks._

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Buy it in bulk, I suppose?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. By the gallon. What should you want to buy in small
quantities for? Our expenses, you see, are heavy.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What's the use of talking, my dear, what's the use! Now,
I've been bustling about, bustling about for you, Agraféna Kondrátyevna;
trudging, trudging over the pavement, and at last I've grubbed up a
suitable man: you'll gasp for joy, my jewels, for a fact.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. At last you're talking sense!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. A man of birth and of standing; such a grandee as you
never even dreamed of.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. I see I'll have to ask Samsón Sílych for a couple of
fivers for you.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. That's all right, my jewel, I don't mind! And he has
peasants, wears a norder on his neck; and as for intellect, why, he's
simply a bonanza.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Then, Ustinya Naúmovna, you ought to have informed
him that our daughter hasn't got piles of money.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. But he doesn't know where to put his own.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. That would be good, and jolly good; only, look here,
Ustinya Naúmovna, and just consider it yourself, my friend: what am I going
to do with a nobleman for a son-in-law? I shan't dare say a word to him;
I'll be all at sea.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. It's a little scary at first, my jewel, but afterwards
you'll get used to things, you'll manage somehow or other. But, here, we
must talk a bit with Samsón Sílych; he may even know him, this man of ours.



RISPOLÓZHENSKY. [_Entering_] I've come to you, my dear Agraféna
Kondrátyevna. I was going to have a talk with Samsón Sílych, but he was
busy, I saw, so I thought: now, I'll go to Agraféna Kondrátyevna. By
the way, is that vodka, near you? I'll just take a thimbleful, Agraféna
Kondrátyevna. [_Drinks._

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. With my compliments, my dear sir. Please sit down,
won't you? How are you getting along?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. What a life I live! Well, I'm just loafing, Agraféna
Kondrátyevna; you know yourself, my family's large, business is dull. But I
don't grumble; it's a sin to grumble, Agraféna Kondrátyevna.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. That's the last thing in the world to do, my dear

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Whoever grumbles, I think, offends against God, Agraféna
Kondrátyevna. This is the way it happened--

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. What are your front names, my dear sir? I keep

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Sysóy Psoich, my dear Agraféna Kondrátyevna.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What does Psoich mean, my jewel? What lingo is that[1]?

[Footnote 1: The name lends itself to the interpretation, "son of a dog

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. I can't tell you positively: they called my father
Psoy--well, naturally, that makes me Psoich.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. But, Psoich, like that, Psoich! However, that's nothing;
there are worse, my jewel.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Well, Sysóy Psoich, what was it you were going to
tell us?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Well, it was like this, my dear Agraféna Kondrátyevna: it
isn't as if it were a proverb, in a kind of fable, but a real occurrence.
I'll just take a thimbleful, Agraféna Kondrátyevna. [_Drinks._

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Help yourself, my dear sir, help yourself.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. [_Sits down_] There was an old man, a venerable old
man--Here, I've forgotten where it was, my dear madam--only it was in some
desert spot. He had twelve daughters, my dear madam; each younger than the
other! He didn't have the strength to work himself; his wife, too, was very
old, the children were still small; and one has to eat and drink. What they
had was used up by the time they were old, and there was no one to give
them food and drink. Where could they find refuge with their little
children? Then he set to thinking this way, then that way.--No, my dear
lady, that's where thinking won't do any good. "I'll go," he said, "to the
crossroads; perhaps I can get something from charitable people." He sat all
day. "God'll help you," they told him. Sits there another day "God'll help
you!" Well, my dear lady, he began to murmur.


RISPOLÓZHENSKY. "Good Lord!" he said, "I'm no extortioner, I'm no
usurer--it would be better," he said, "to lay hands on myself."


RISPOLÓZHENSKY. And lo! my dear madam, there came a dream to him in the


The same and BOLSHÓV

BOLSHÓV. Ha, you here, sir? What's this you're preaching here?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. [_Bows_] I hope you're well, Samsón Sílych.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Why, my jewel! You seem to be growing thin. Or have you
been crippled somehow?

BOLSHÓV. [_Sitting down_] Must be I've caught cold, or perhaps my blood's
in a bad way.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Well, Sysóy Psoich, and what happened to him next?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Some other time, Agraféna Kondrátyevna, some other time
I'll finish telling; I'll run in some day about dusk and tell you about it

BOLSHÓV. What's the matter with you; trying to be sanctimonious? Ha, ha,
ha! It's time you came to!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. There, now, you're beginning! You won't let us have
a heart-to-heart talk together.

BOLSHÓV. Heart-to-heart talk! Ha, ha, ha! But you just ask him how his case
was lost from court; there's the story he'll tell you better.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. On the contrary, it was not lost! That's not true, Samsón

BOLSHÓV. Then what did they turn you out for?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. This is why, my dear Agraféna Kondrátyevna. I took one
case home with me from the court; on the way my friend and I just stepped
aside--mortal man is weak; well, you understand--if you'll permit me to say
it, into the wine-shop, so to speak. I left it there, and when I was rather
tipsy, I suppose, I forgot it. What of that? It might happen to anybody.
Afterwards, my dear lady, they missed that case in court; we looked and
looked, and I went home twice with the bailiff--still we couldn't find it.
They wanted to bring me to trial, but suddenly I remembered: it must be,
now, I forgot that thing and left it in the wine-shop. I went there with
the bailiff, and there it was.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. I declare! That may happen to a sober man as well as
to one who drinks. What a pity!

BOLSHÓV. How is it they didn't send you off to Kamchatka?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. To Kamchatka! But why, permit me to ask you, why should
they send me off to Kamchatka?

BOLSHÓV. Why? Because you're drunk and disorderly. Do they have to show you
any indulgence? Why, you'll just kill yourself drinking.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. On the contrary, they spared me. You see, my dear Agraféna
Kondrátyevna, they wanted to try me for that very thing--I went immediately
to our general, and flopped at his feet! "Your Excellency!" I said. "Don't
ruin me! I've a wife," I said, "and little children!" "Well," he said,
"deuce take you; they won't strike a man when he's down: tender your
resignation, so I shan't see you here." So he spared me. What now! God
bless him! He doesn't forget me even now; sometimes I run in to see him
on a holiday: "Well," says he, "how are you, Sysóy Psoich?" "I came,
your Excellency, to wish you a happy holiday." So, I went to the Troitsa
monastery not long ago, and brought him a consecrated wafer. I'll just take
a thimbleful, Agraféna Kondrátyevna. [_Drinks._

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. With my compliments, my dear sir. Ustinya Naúmovna,
let's you and me go out; the samovar is ready, I suppose; I'll show you
that we have something new for the wedding outfit.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. I suppose, my jewel, you have heaps of stuff ready.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Why certainly. The new materials have come, and it
seems as if we didn't have to pay money for them.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What's the use of talking, my pearl! You have your own
shop, and it's as if they grew in your garden. [_They go out._



BOLSHÓV. Well, Sysóy Psoich, I suppose you've wasted a good deal of ink in
your time on this pettifoggery?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. He, he! Samsón Sílych, cheap goods! But I came to inquire
how your business is getting on.

BOLSHÓV. You did! Much you need to know! Bah, you low-down people! You
bloodsuckers! Just let you scent out something or other, and immediately
you sneak round with your diabolical suggestions.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. What kind of a suggestion could come from me, Samsón
Sílych? What kind of a teacher should I be, when you yourself, perhaps, are
ten times wiser than I am? I shall do what I'm asked to do. How can I help
it? I'd be a hog if I didn't; because I, it may be said, am loaded with
favors by you, and so are my kiddies. I'm too much of a fool to advise you;
you know your own business yourself better than anybody else.

BOLSHÓV. Know my own business! That's the trouble; men like me, merchants,
blockheads, understand nothing; and this just serves the turn of such
leeches as you. And now you'll besiege me on every side and haunt me to

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. How can I help haunting you? If I didn't love you I
wouldn't haunt you. Haven't I any feelings? Am I really a mere dumb brute?

BOLSHÓV. I know that you love me--you all love us; only one can't get
anything decent out of you. Here I'm worrying, worrying with this business
so that I'm worn out, if you believe me, with this one anxiety. If I could
only get it over with, and out of my head.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Well, Samsón Sílych, you aren't the first, nor the last;
aren't others doing it?

BOLSHÓV. How can they help it, brother? Others are doing it. But how do
they do it; without shame, without conscience! They ride in carriages with
easy springs; they live in three-storied houses. One of them will build a
belvedere with pillars, in which he's ashamed to show his ugly phiz;
and that's the end of him, and you can't get anything out of him. These
carriages will roll away, Lord knows where; all his houses are mortgaged,
and all the creditors will get out of it'll be three pairs of old boots.
That's the whole story. And who is it that he'll fool? Just some poor
beggars whom he'll send out into the world in nothing but their shirts. But
my creditors are all rich men; what difference will it make to them?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Naturally. Why, Samsón Sílych, all that is in our hands.

BOLSHÓV. I know that it's in our hands; but are you equal to handling this
affair? You see, you lawyers are a rum lot. Oh, I know you! You're nimble
enough in words, and then you go and mess things up.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. But come now, Samsón Sílych, if you please: do you think
this is the first time for me! As though I didn't know that already! He,
he, he! Yes, I've done such things before; and they've turned out fine.
They'd have sent anybody else long ago for such jobs to the other side of

BOLSHÓV. Oho! What kind of a scheme will you get up?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Why, we'll see--according to circumstances. I'll just
take a thimbleful, Samsón Sílych. [_Drinks_] Now, the first thing, Samsón
Sílych, we must mortgage the house and shops; or sell them. That's the
first thing.

BOLSHÓV. Yes, that positively must be done right away. But on whom shall we
shove the stuff? Shall it be my wife?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Illegal, Samsón Sílych! That's illegal! It is stated in the
laws that such sales are not valid. It's an easy thing to do, but you'll
have to see that there're no hitches afterward. If it's to be done, it must
be done thoroughly, Samsón Sílych.

BOLSHÓV. That's it: there must be no loose ends.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. If you make it over to an outsider, there's nothing they
can cavil at. Let 'em try to make a row later, and try to dispute good
legal papers.

BOLSHÓV. But here's the trouble: when you make over your house to an
outsider, maybe it'll stick to him, like a flea to a soldier.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Well, Samsón Sílych, you must look for a man who knows what
conscience is.

BOLSHÓV. But where are you going to find him nowadays? Everybody's watching
his chance these days to grab you by the collar; and here you want

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Here's my idea, Samsón Sílych, whether you want to listen
to me or not: what sort of a fellow is your clerk?

BOLSHÓV. Which one? Do you mean Lázar?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Yes; Lázar Elizárych.

BOLSHÓV. All right, Lázar; make it over to him; he's a young man with
understanding, and he has some capital.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. What do you want, Samsón Sílych, a mortgage-deed or a

BOLSHÓV. Whichever you can get at the lowest interest rate'll suit me. But
do the thing up brown and I'll give you such a fee, Sysóy Psoich, as'll
fairly make your hair curl.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Set your mind at rest, Samsón Sílych, I know my own
business. But have you talked to Lázar Elizárych about this thing or not?
Samsón Sílych, I'll just take a thimbleful. [_Drinks_.

BOLSHÓV. Not yet. We'll talk it over to-day. He's a capable lad; only wink
at him, and he understands. And he'll do the business up so tight that you
can't get in a finger. Well! we'll mortgage the house; and then what?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Then we'll write out a statement that such and such notes
are due, and that we'll pay twenty-five kopeks on the ruble: well, then go
see the creditors. If anybody is especially stubborn, you can add a bit,
and if a man gets real angry, pay him the whole bill. You'll pay him on
the condition that he writes that he accepted twenty-five kopeks--just for
appearances, to show the others. "That's the way _he_ did," you see; and
the others, seeing the document, will agree.

BOLSHÓV. That's right, there's no harm in bargaining: if they don't take it
at twenty-five kopeks, they'll take it at half a ruble; but if they won't
take it at half a ruble, they'll grab for it with both hands at seventy
kopeks. We'll profit, anyhow. There, you can say what you please, but I
have a marriageable daughter; I want to pass her on, and get rid of her.
And then, my boy, it'll be time for me to take a rest; I'll have an easy
time lying on my back; and to the devil with all this trading! But here
comes Lázar.


_The same and_ PODKHALYÚZIN, _who enters_

BOLSHÓV. What do you say, Lázar? Just come from town? How are your affairs?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Oh, they're getting on so-so; thank God, sir! Good morning,
Sysóy Psoich! [_Bows_.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. How do you do, my dear Lázar Elizárych! [_Bows_.

BOLSHÓV. If they're getting on, let 'em get. [_After a short silence_] But,
look here, Lázar, when you make up the balance for me at your leisure, you
might deduct the retail items sold to the gentry, and the rest of that sort
of thing. You see, we're trading and trading, my boy, but there's not a
kopek of profit in it. Maybe the clerks are going wrong and are carrying
off stuff to their folks and mistresses. You ought to give 'em a word of
advice. What's the use of fooling around without making any profits? Don't
they know the tricks of the trade? It's high time, it seems to me.

PODKHALYÚZIN. How in the world can they help knowing, Samsón Sílych? It
seems as if I were always in town and always talking to them, sir.

BOLSHÓV. But what do you say?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why, the usual thing, sir. I try to have everything in order
and as it should be. "Now, my boys," I say, "look sharp, now. Maybe there's
a chance for a sale; some idiot of a purchaser may turn up, or a colored
pattern may catch some young lady's eye, and click!" I say, "you add a
ruble or two to the price per yard."

BOLSHÓV. I suppose you know, brother, how the Germans in our shops swindle
the gentlemen. Even if we're not Germans, but orthodox Christians, we, too,
like to eat stuffed pasties. Ain't that so? Ha?


PODKHALYÚZIN. Why certainly, sir. "And you must measure," I say, "more
naturally: pull and stretch ju-u-u-st enough, God save us, not to tear the
cloth: you see," I say, "we don't have to wear it afterwards. Well, and if
they look the other way, nobody's to blame if you should happen to measure
one yard of cloth twice."

BOLSHÓV. It's all one. I suppose the tailor'd steal it. Ha? He'd steal it,
I suppose?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. He'd steal it, Samsón Sílych, certainly that rascal would
steal it; I know these tailors.

BOLSHÓV. That's it; the whole lot of them are rascals, and we get the

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Quite right, Samsón Sílych, you're certainly speaking the

BOLSHÓV. Ah, Lázar, profits are rotten these days: it's not as it used to
be. [_After a moment of silence_] Well, did you bring the paper?

PODKHALYÚZIN. [_Taking it from his pocket and handing it over_] Be so good
as to read it, sir.

BOLSHÓV. Just give it here; we'll take a look. [_He puts on his spectacles
and examines the paper_.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Samsón Sílych, I'll just take a thimbleful. _He drinks,
then puts on his spectacles, sits down beside_ BOLSHÓV, _and looks at the

BOLSHÓV. [_Reads aloud_] "Crown announcements, and from various societies.
One, two, three, four, five, and six, from the Foundlings' Hospital."
That's not in our line: it's not for us to buy peasants. "Seven and eight
from Moscow University, from the Government Regencies, from the Office of
the Board of Charities." Well, we'll pass that up, too. "From the City
Council of Six." Now, sir, maybe there's something here! [_He reads_] "The
Moscow City Council of Six hereby announces: Would not some one care to
take in his charge the collection of taxes as named below?" That's not our
line, you have to give security. "The Office of the Widows' Home hereby
invites--" Let it invite, we won't go. "From the Orphans' Court." I haven't
any father or mother, myself. [_Examines farther_] Aha! Here something's
slipped up! Listen here, Lázar! "Year so-and-so, twelfth day of September,
according to the decision of the Commerce Court, the merchant Fedót
Selivérstov Pleshkóv, of the first guild, was declared an insolvent debtor,
in consequence of which--" What's the use of explaining? Everybody knows
the consequences. There you are, Fedót Selivérstov! What a grandee he was,
and he's gone to smash! But say, Lázar, doesn't he owe us something?

PODKHALYÚZIN. He owes us a very little, sir. They took somewhere between
six and eight barrels of sugar for home use.

BOLSHÓV. A bad business, Lázar. Well, he'll pay me back in full, out of

PODKHALYÚZIN. It's doubtful, Sir.

BOLSHÓV. We'll settle it somehow. [_Reads_] "Moscow merchant of the first
guild, Antíp Sysóyev Enótov, declared an insolvent debtor--" Does _he_ owe
us anything?

PODKHALYÚZIN. For vegetable oil, sir; just before Lent they took about
three kegs, sir.

BOLSHÓV. Those blooming vegetarians that keep all the fasts! They want to
please God at other people's expense. Brother, don't you trust their sedate
ways! Those people cross themselves with one hand, and slip the other into
your pocket. Here's the third; "Moscow merchant of the second guild, Efrém
Lúkin Poluarshínnikov[1], declared an insolvent debtor." Well, what about

[Footnote 1: Half a yard.]

PODKHALYÚZIN. We have his note, sir.

BOLSHÓV. Protested?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Yes, sir. He himself's in hiding, sir.

BOLSHÓV. Well! And the fourth there, Samopálov. Why! have they got a
combination against us?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Such an underhanded gang, sir.

BOLSHÓV. [_Turning over the pages_] One couldn't get through reading them
until to-morrow. Take it away!

PODKHALYÚZIN. They only dirty the paper. What a moral lesson for the whole
merchant corporation! [_Silence_.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Good-by, Samsón Sílych, I'll run home now; I have some
little matters to look after.

BOLSHÓV. You might sit a little while longer.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. No, confound it, Samsón Sílych, I haven't time. I'll come
to you as early as possible to-morrow morning.

BOLSHÓV. Well, as you choose!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Good-by! Good-by, Lázar Elizárych! [_He goes out_.



BOLSHÓV. Now consider, Lázar, what trading's like: just think about it. You
think it's getting money for nothing? "Money, not much!" they tell you;
"ain't seen any for a long time. Take my note," they say. But what are
you going to get from some people on a note? Here I have about a hundred
thousand rubles' worth of 'em lying around, and with protests. You don't
do anything but add to the heap each year. If you want, I'll sell you the
whole pile for half a ruble in silver. You'll never catch the men who
signed 'em even with bloodhounds. Some have died off, some have run away;
there's not even a single man to put in the pen. Suppose you do send one
there, Lázar, that doesn't do you any good; some of 'em will hold on so
that you can't smoke 'em out. "I'm all right here," they say, "you go
hang!" Isn't that so, Lázar?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Just so, that's the way it happens.

BOLSHÓV. Always notes, notes! But what on earth is a note? Absolutely
nothing but paper, if I may say so. And if you discount it, they do it at
a rate that makes your belly ache, and you pay for it later with your own
property. [_After a brief silence_] It's better not to have dealings with
provincials: always on credit, always on credit; and if he ever does bring
the money, it's in slick small change--you look, and there's neither head
nor tail to the coins, and the denomination's rubbed off long ago. But do
as you please here! You'd better not show your goods to the tradesman of
this place; any one of 'em'll go into any warehouse and sniff and peck, and
peck, and then clear out. It'd be all right if there were no goods, but
what do you expect a man to trade in? I've got one apothecary shop, one dry
goods, the third a grocery. No use, none of them pays. You needn't even go
to the market; they cut the prices down worse than the devil knows what;
but if you sell a horse-collar, you have to throw in trimmings and earnest
money, and treat the fellows, and stand all sorts of losses through wrong
weights. That's the way it goes! Don't you realize that?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Seems I ought to realize it, sir.

BOLSHÓV. There's business for you, and that's the way to do it. [_Silence_]
Well, Lázar, what do you think?

PODKHALYÚZIN. What should I think, sir? That's just as you please. My
business is that of a subordinate.

BOLSHÓV. What do you mean, subordinate? Just speak out freely. I'm asking
you about the business.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Again, Samsón Sílych, it's just as you please, sir.

BOLSHÓV. You twaddle one thing: "As you please." But what do you think?

PODKHALYÚZIN. That I can't say, sir.

BOLSHÓV. [_After a brief silence_] Tell me, Lázar, on your conscience;
do you love me? [_Silence_] Do you love me or not? Why are you silent?
[_Silence_] I've given you food and drink, set you up in the world; haven't

PODKHALYÚZIN. Oh, Samsón Sílych! What's the use of talking about it, sir?
Don't have any doubts about me! Only one word: I'm just such as you see me.

BOLSHÓV. What do you mean by that?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why, if you need anybody or anything whatsoever, you can
count on me. I shan't spare myself.

BOLSHÓV. Well, then, there's nothing more to be said. In my opinion, Lázar,
now is the most proper time; we have a good deal of ready cash, and all
the notes have fallen due. What's the use of waiting? You'll wait, if you
please, until some merchant just like yourself, the dirty cur, will strip
you bare, and then, you'll see, he'll make an agreement at ten kopeks on
the ruble, and he'll wallow in his millions, and won't think you're worth
spitting at. But you, an honorable tradesman, must just watch him, and
suffer--keep on staring. Here's what I think, Lázar: to offer the creditors
such a proposition as this--will they accept from me twenty-five kopeks on
the ruble? What do you think?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why, according to my notion, Samsón Sílych, if you're going
to pay at the rate of twenty-five kopeks, it would be more decent not to
pay at all.

BOLSHÓV. Why, really, that's so. You won't scare anybody by a bluff; but
it's better to settle the affair on the quiet. Then wait for the Lord to
judge you at the Second Coming. Only it's a heap of trouble. I'm going to
mortgage my house and shops to you.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Impossible to do it without some bother, sir. You'll have to
get rid of the notes for something, sir; have the merchandise transferred
somewhere further off. We'll get busy, sir!

BOLSHÓV. Just so. Although an old man, I'm going to get busy. But are you
going to help?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Good gracious, Samsón Sílych, I'll go through fire and water,

BOLSHÓV. What could be better! Why the devil should I scratch around for
pennies. I'll make one swoop, and that's an end to it! Only God give us the
nerve! Thanks, Lázar. You've treated me like a friend. [_He rises_] Now,
get busy! [_He goes up to him and taps him on the shoulder_] If you get the
thing done properly, you and I'll divide the profits. I'll reward you for
the rest of your life.

[_He goes to the door._

PODKHALYÚZIN. I don't need anything, Samsón Sílych, except your peace of
mind, sir. I've lived with you since my earliest years, and I've received
countless favors from you; it may be said, sir, you took me as a little
brat, to sweep out your shops; consequently I simply must be grateful.


_Office in the house of BOLSHÓV. Rear centre a door; on the left a
staircase leading to the floor above._


TISHKA _near the front of the stage, with a brush_

TISHKA. What a life, what a life! Sweep the floors before daylight! And is
it my business to sweep floors? Things aren't the same here as with decent
folks. Now if the other bosses have a boy, he lives with the boys; that is,
he hangs around the shop. But with me it's now here, now there, tramp the
pavement all day as if you were crazy. You'll soon feather your nest--I
don't think! Decent people keep a porter for running around; but at our
place he lies on the stove with the kittens, or he hangs around with the
cook; but _you're_ in demand. At other people's it's easy-going; if you get
into mischief now and then, they make allowances for your youth. But at our
house--if it isn't he, then it's somebody else; either the old man or the
old woman will give you a hiding; otherwise there's the clerk Lázar, or
there's Fomínishna, or there's--any old rascal can lord it over you. What a
cursed life it is! But if you want to tear yourself away from the house
and go somewhere with friends to play three-card monte, or have a game of
handball--don't think of such a thing! Now, really, there's something feels
wrong in my head. [_He climbs upon a chair on his knees and looks in the
mirror_] How do you do, Tikhon Savostyánovich! How are you getting along?
Are you all top notch? Now, then, Tishka, just do a stunt. [_He makes a
grimace_] That's what! [_Another_] Exactly like----

                                            [_He bursts out laughing_.


TISHKA _and_ PODKHALYÚZIN, _who steals in and seizes him by the collar_.

PODKHALYÚZIN. What are you doing there, you little imp?

TISHKA. What? You know what! I was wiping off dust!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Were you wiping it off with your tongue? As if you could find
any dust on the mirror! I'll show you some dust! You're showing off! I'll
just warm up the nape of your neck so you'll know it.

TISHKA. Know what? Now what have I done?

PODKHALYÚZIN. What have you done? What have you done? Say another word and
you'll find out what! Just let out a peep!

TISHKA. Yes, a peep! I'm going to tell the boss, and then you'll catch it!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Going to tell the boss! What's your boss to me? Why, if it
came to that--what's your boss to me!--Why, you're just a kid that has to
be taught; what were you thinking of? If we didn't wallop you imps there'd
be no good come of you. That's the regular way of doing things. I, myself,
my boy, have come through fire, water, and copper pipes.

TISHKA. I know you did.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Shhh--you little devil! [_Threatening him_.

TISHKA. Ha, just try it! I'll sure tell, honest to goodness I will.

PODKHALYÚZIN. What are you going to tell, you devil's pepper-pot?

TISHKA. What'll I say? Why, that you scold!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Great impression that'll make! You're quite a gentleman! Come
here, sir! Has Sysóy Psoich been here?

TISHKA. He sure has.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Talk sense, you little devil! Was he going to come again?

TISHKA. He was that!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Well, you can run along, now.

TISHKA. Do you want any vodka?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Yes, I do. I'll have to treat Sysóy Psoich. [_He gives
money_] Buy a bottle, but you keep the change for gingerbread. But see that
you hurry, so they don't miss you here!

TISHKA. I'll be home before a short-haired girl can twist her braids. Off I
go, hippity-hop.



PODKHALYÚZIN. What a misfortune! Here's where a misfortune has come upon
us! What's to be done now? Well, it's a bad business. Now we can't avoid
declaring ourselves bankrupt. Well, suppose the boss should have something
left over; but where do I come in? What shall I do with myself? Sell junk
in the second-hand market! I've worked, I've worked about twenty years,
and then to be sent rambling! Now, how am I going to settle this matter?
Perhaps with merchandise? Here, he said to sell the notes. [_He draws them
out and reads them_] It must be that it's going to be possible to profit
by it. [_He walks about the room_] They say a fellow ought to know what
conscience is. Well, of course he ought to; but in what sense must he
understand that? Everybody has conscience where a good man is concerned;
but when the man himself is cheating others, then where does your
conscience come in? Samsón Sílych is a very rich merchant, and has hatched
up this whole business now just to kill time, so to speak. But I'm a poor
man! If I should make a little extra profit in this business--then there
can't be any sin in it; because he himself is acting dishonorably, and
going against the law. And why should I pity him? The course is clear;
well, don't slip up on it: he follows his politics, and you look out for
your interest. I'd have seen the thing through with him, but I don't feel
like it. Hm!--What day-dreams will come into a man's head! Of course,
Olimpiáda Samsónovna is a cultivated young lady; and it must be said,
there're none on earth like her; but of course that suitor won't take her
now; he'll say, "Give me money!" But where are you going to get money? And
now she can't marry a nobleman because she hasn't any money. Sooner or
later they'll have to marry her to a merchant. [_He walks on in silence_]
I'll raise the dough, and bow to Samsón Sílych. "Samsón Sílych," says I,
"I'm at an age when I must think about the continuance of posterity; and
I, now, Samsón Sílych, haven't grudged my sweat and blood for your
tranquillity. To be sure, now, Olimpiáda Samsónovna is a cultivated young
lady; but I, Samsón Sílych, am no common trash; you can see for yourself,
if you please. I have capital, and I'm a good manager in that line." Why
shouldn't he give her to me? Ain't I a man? I haven't been detected in
any knavery; I'm respectful to my elders. But in addition to all that, as
Samsón Sílych has mortgaged his house and shops to me, I can frighten him
with the mortgage. Knowing as I do the disposition of Samsón Sílych to be
what it is, that may very easily happen. This is the way with his sort:
once they get an idea into their head, you simply can't drive it out. It's
just as when, three years ago, he wanted to shave his beard. No matter how
much Agraféna Kondrátyevna begged and wept, "No," he said, "afterwards I'll
let it grow again; but for the time being I'll have my own way." And he
took and shaved it. It's the same way with this business; if I make a hit
with him, or the idea strikes him all right--then it's sweet wedding-bells
to-morrow, and that's all, and don't you dare argue! I could jump from the
tower of Ivan the Great for the joy of it.

_Enter_ TISHKA _with the bottle._



TISHKA. [_Coming in with the bottle_] Here I am! I've come.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Listen, Tishka, is Ustinya Naúmovna here?

TISHKA. Up-stairs there. And the shyster's coming.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Well, put the vodka on the table, and bring some relishes.

TISHKA _puts down the vodka and brings relishes; then goes out._



PODKHALYÚZIN. Ah, my respects to you, sir!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Mine to you, my dear Lázar Elizárych, mine to you! Fine. I
think, now, perhaps there's something I can do. Is that vodka, near you?
I'll just take a thimbleful, Lázar Elizárych. My hands have begun to shake
mornings, especially the right one. When I go to write something, Lázar
Elizárych, I have to hold it with my left. I swear I do. But take a sip of
vodka, and it seems to do it good. [_Drinks._

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why do your hands shake?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. [_Sits down by the table_] From anxiety, Lázar Elizárych;
from anxiety, my boy.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Indeed, sir! But I suppose it's because you're plundering
people overmuch. God is punishing you for your unrighteousness.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. He, he, he!--Lázar Elizárych! How could I plunder anybody?
My business is of a small sort. I'm like a little bird, picking up small

PODKHALYÚZIN. You deal in small quantities, of course?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. You'd deal even in small quantities if you couldn't get
anything else. Well, it wouldn't matter so much if I were alone; but, you
see, I have a wife and four kiddies. They all want to eat, the little
dears. One says, "Daddy, give me!" Another says, "Daddy, give me!" And I'm
a man who feels strongly for his family. Here I entered one boy in the high
school; he has to have a uniform, and then something else. And what's to
become of the old shack?--Why, how much shoe-leather you wear out simply
walking from Butírky to the Voskresénsky Gates.

PODKHALYÚZIN. That's right, sir.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. And why do you make the trip? You write a little petition
for one man, you register somebody else in the citizen class. Some days
you'll not bring home half a ruble in silver. I vow, I'm not lying! Then
what're you going to live on? Lázar Elizárych, I'll just take a thimbleful.
[_Drinks_] "So," I think, "I'll just drop in on Lázar Elizárych; perhaps
he'll spare me a little change."

PODKHALYÚZIN. For what sort of knavery, sir?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. What do you mean by knavery! Come, that's a sin, Lázar
Elizárych! Don't I serve you? I'm your servant till the grave; command me
what you want. And I fixed up the mortgage for you!

PODKHALYÚZIN. See here, you've been paid! And it's not your business to
keep harping on the same string!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Just so, Lázar Elizárych, I've been paid. Just so! Ah,
Lázar Elizárych, poverty has crushed me!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Poverty crushed you! Oh, that happens, sir. [_He approaches
and sits down by the table_] Well, sir, I have a little extra money; I've
no place to put it.
                      [_Lays his pocketbook on the table_.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. What, you, Lázar Elizárych? Extra money? I'm afraid you're

PODKHALYÚZIN. All joking aside, sir.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Well, if you have a little extra money, why not help a poor
man? God'll reward you for it.

PODKHALYÚZIN. But d'you need much?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Give me just three rubles.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Is that all, sir?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Well, give me five.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Oh, ask more!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Well, then, if you'll be so good, give me ten.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Ten, sir! What, for nothing?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Indeed not! I'll work it off, Lázar Elizárych; we'll be
quits sometime or other.

PODKHALYÚZIN. That's all talk, sir. The snail keeps going, and sometime
she'll get there! But here's the little business I want to put up to you
now: did Samsón Sílych promise you much for fixing up this scheme?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. I'm ashamed to tell you, Lázar Elizárych! A thousand rubles
and an old coon-skin overcoat. No one will accept less than I, by heavens;
just go and inquire prices.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Well, here's what, Sysóy Psoich; I'll give you two thousand
for that identical business, sir.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Oh, Lázar Elizárych, my benefactor! I and my wife and
children'll be your slaves!

PODKHALYÚZIN. One hundred in silver, spot cash; but the rest later upon the
completion of the whole business, sir!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Now, then, how can one help praying for people like you!
Only a kind of ignorant swine could fail to feel that. I bow down to your
feet, Lázar Elizárych!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Really now, what for, sir? Only, Sysóy Psoich, don't
run about like a chicken with its head cut off, but go in for
accuracy--straight to the point, and walk the line. Do you understand, sir?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. How can I help understanding? Why, Lázar Elizárych, do you
think I'm still a boy? It's time I understood!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Yes, but what do you understand? Here's the way things are,
sir. Just listen first. Samsón Sílych and I came to town, and we brought
along the list as was proper. Then he went to the creditors: this one
didn't agree, that one didn't agree; that's the way, and not a single one
will take up the proposition. That's the way the affair stands.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. What's that you say, Lázar Elizárych? Oh! Just think of it,
what a gang.

PODKHALYÚZIN. And how are we going to make a good thing out of this
business now? Do you understand me, or not?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. That is, the insolvency, Lázar Elizárych?

PODKHALYÚZIN. The insolvency will take care of itself; but I mean my own
business affairs.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. He, he, he!--That is, the house and the shops--even--the
house--he, he, he!----

PODKHALYÚZIN. What's the matter, sir?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. No, sir; that's just my foolishness; I was just joking.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Fine jokes, indeed! Don't you joke about that, sir. The house
is nothing; I have such a dream in my head now about that subject, that I
must talk it over with you at length. Just come to my room, sir. Tishka!


_The same and_ TISHKA

PODKHALYÚZIN. Put all this in order! Well, let's go, Sysóy Psoich!

TISHKA _is about to carry away the vodka_.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Wait, wait! Eh, my boy, what an idiot you are! If you see
that a fellow wants to drink, just wait a bit. You just wait a bit. You're
young yet, but you just be polite and condescending. Lázar Elizárych, I'll
just take a thimbleful.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Help yourself, only hurry up; I'm afraid _he'll_ come.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Right away, my dear Lázar Elizárych, right away! [_Drinks
and smacks his lips_] But it would be better to take it with us. [_They go

TISHKA _arranges something or other; from above descend_ USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA
_and_ FOMÍNISHNA. TISHKA _goes out_.

FOMÍNISHNA. Now do fix it up for her, Ustinya Naúmovna! You see the girl is
all worked up; and, indeed, it's time, my dear. Youth isn't a bottomless
kettle, and they say it gets empty. I can say that from my own experience.
I got married when I was thirteen; but in another month she'll have passed
her nineteenth year. Why let her pine away for nothing? Others of her age
have long since borne children. And so, my dear, why let her pine away?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. I keep thinking about that myself, my jewel; but the
thing isn't held up on my account; I have a whole pack of suitors, all
right. But, confound it, she and her mother are mighty particular.

FOMÍNISHNA. Why should they be particular? Well, the chief thing is that
they should be fresh-complexioned people, not bald, and not smell bad; and
then anything'll pass, so it's a man!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. [_Sitting down_] Sit down a minute, my jewel. I have worn
myself out the livelong day; from early morning I've been tearing around
like a wet hen. But, you see, I couldn't neglect anything; I'm an
indispensable person everywhere. Naturally, my jewel, every person is a
human being: a man needs a wife, a girl a husband; give it to them if you
have to rob the cradle; then here and there there's a genuine wedding. And
who fixes them up? Why, I do. Ustinya Naúmovna has to bear the burden for
all of them. And why does she have to? Because that's the way things are;
from the beginning of the world, that's the way the wheel was wound up.
However, to tell the truth, they don't cheat me for my trouble: one gives
me the material for a dress, another a fringed shawl, another makes up a
cap for you, and here and there you'll get a gold piece, and here and there
something better--just what the job deserves and they're able to pay.

FOMÍNISHNA. What's the use of talking, my dear; what's the use of talking!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Sit down, Fomínishna; your legs are old and rickety.

FOMÍNISHNA. Eh! Haven't time, my dear! You see, it's just awful; because
_he_ doesn't come home we're all scared to death: he may come home drunk at
any time. And then what a bad one, good Lord! Then what a row he'll kick

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Naturally; a rich peasant is worse than the devil to talk

FOMÍNISHNA. We've seen him do terrible things. One night last week he came
home drunk. He tore around, and what a row! It was simply awful; he smashed
the china--"Ooo!" he said, "I'll kill the whole crowd of you at once!"


FOMÍNISHNA. That's the truth, my dear. But I'll just run up-stairs,
darling--Agraféna Kondrátyevna is alone in my room. When you're going
home, come back to me; I'll tie up a bit of ham for you. [_She mounts the

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. I'll follow, my jewel, I'll follow.




PODKHALYÚZIN. Ah! Ustinya Naúmovna! It's been ages since I've seen you,

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. How are you, dear soul! How've you been?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Oh, able to be around, ma'am.

[_He sits down_.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. I'll capture a little mamzelle for you if you want me to.
PODKHALYÚZIN. Thank you kindly--I don't need one yet.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. If you don't want one yourself, my jewel, I'll do a good
turn for your friends. I suppose you have friends around town, a whole

PODKHALYÚZIN. I have quite a few, ma'am.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Well, if you have, thank the Lord! If you know of a
marriageable man, whether he's a bachelor, unmarried, or a widower--drag
him straight to me.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Will you find him a wife?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. I will. Why shouldn't I find him a wife? I'll do it in a

PODKHALYÚZIN. That's very fine, ma'am, But now I ask you, Ustinya Naúmovna,
why do you come here to us so confoundedly often?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What's that to you? Why shouldn't I come? I'm no thief,
no sheep without a name. What do you mean by that question?

PODKHALYÚZIN. But, really, aren't you wasting your time coming?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Wasting my time? Where did you get that idea, my jewel?
Just see here, what sort of a husband I've found: an aristocrat, has
peasants, and a fine young man.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why has the thing come to a halt, ma'am?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. It hasn't come to a halt! He wanted to come to-morrow to
get acquainted. So we'll hitch him up, and it'll all be over.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Hitch him up, try it--he'll give you the slip.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What's the matter, are you in your right mind, my jewel?


USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. May I die before to-night, but you're either drunk, my
jewel, or you've wandered clean out of your head.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Be so good as not to trouble yourself about that; you look
out for yourself; but I know what I know.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Well, what do you know?

PODKHALYÚZIN. No matter what I know, ma'am.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. If you know something, tell me what it is: I suppose your
tongue won't fall off.

PODKHALYÚZIN. That's the point of the thing--that I can't tell it.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Why can't you? Why do you hesitate to tell me, my jewel?
Go ahead, talk--it doesn't matter what it is.

PODKHALYÚZIN. It's not a matter of conscience. But if I tell you, of course
you'll go and blab!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Curst if I do! You may chop off my hand!

PODKHALYÚZIN. That's it, ma'am; a promise is better than money.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Of course. Well, what do you know?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Here's what, Ustinya Naúmovna: isn't it possible to throw
over that suitor you've found, ma'am?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What's the matter with you; are you gone daft?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Gone daft nothing, ma'am! But if you want to have a
heart-to-heart talk, honor bright, ma'am; then here's the sort of thing it
is, ma'am: at my house there's a certain Russian merchant I know, who is
very much in love with Olimpiáda Samsónovna, ma'am. "No matter what I have
to give," says he, "so long as I get married," says he; "I shan't grudge
any sum."

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Why didn't you tell me about that before, my jewel?

PODKHALYÚZIN. There was nothing to tell for the good reason that I only
just now found out about it, ma'am.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. But it's late now, my jewel!

PODKHALYÚZIN. And what a suitor he is, Ustinya Naúmovna! He'll shower you
with gold from head to foot, ma'am; he'll have a cloak made for you out of
live sables.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. But, my dear, it's impossible! I'd be tickled to death,
but I've given my word.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Just as you please, ma'am! But if you betroth her to the
other fellow, you'll bring such bad luck upon yourself, that you'll not get
clear afterwards!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. But just consider yourself, how'll I have the nerve to
show my face before Samsón Sílych? I gave it to him hot and heavy: that the
fellow is rich, and handsome, and so much in love that he is half dead; and
now what'll I say? You know yourself what a fellow Samsón Sílych is; you
see he'll pull my cap over my ears before you know it.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Pull your cap nothing, ma'am!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. And I've got the girl all worked up. Twice a day she
sends to me and asks: "What's the matter with my suitor?" and, "What's he

PODKHALYÚZIN. But don't you run away from your own good fortune, Ustinya
Naúmovna. Do you want two thousand rubles and a sable cloak for merely
arranging this wedding, ma'am? But let our understanding about the match be
private. I tell you, ma'am, that this suitor's such a sort as you've never
seen; there's only one thing, ma'am: he's not of aristocratic origin.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. But is she an aristocrat? Pity if she is, my jewel!
That's the way things go these days: every peasant girl is trying to
worm her way into the nobility.--Now, although this here Olimpiáda
Samsónovna--of course, God give her good health--gives presents like a
princess, yet, believe me, her origin's no better than ours. Her father,
Samsón Sílych, dealt in leather mittens on the Balchug; respectable people
called him Sammy, and fed him with thumps behind the ears. And her mother,
Agraféna Kondrátyevna, was little more than a peasant girl, and he got her
from Preobrazhénskoye. They got together some capital, climbed into the
merchant class--so the daughter has her eye peeled for the title of
princess. And all that through money. How much worse am I than she? Yet I
have to trot at her heels. God knows what kind of bringing-up she's had:
she walks like an elephant crawls on his belly; whether French or piano,
it's a bit here and a bit there, and there's nothing to it; and when she
starts to dance--I have to stuff a handkerchief in my mouth.

PODKHALYÚZIN. But, look here--it'd be more proper for her to marry a

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. But how'll I stand with the first suitor, my jewel? I've
already assured him that Olimpiáda Samsónovna is such a beauty, that she's
the real ticket for him; "and educated," I said, "in French, and is trained
in all sorts of society ways." And now what am I going to say to him?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why, just tell him also: "Now, she is a beauty, and
cultivated in a good many ways; only they've lost all their money." And
he'll break off himself!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Well, now, that's so, my jewel! But, no, wait! You see I
told him that Samsón Sílych is rolling in money.

PODKHALYÚZIN. See here, you talk too much. But how do you know how much
money Samsón Sílych has; you haven't counted it, have you?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Ask anybody you please; every one knows that Samsón
Sílych is the richest sort of merchant.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Yes! Much you know! But what'll happen when, after you've
engaged a man of standing, Samsón Sílych won't give any money? Afterwards
the fellow'll come up and say, says he: "I'm no merchant, that you can
cheat me out of the dowry!" Furthermore, like a man of standing he'll file
a complaint at court, because a man of standing has his own way everywhere,
ma'am; then Samsón Sílych and I'll be ruined, and there'll be no getting
out of it for you. Here, you yourself know you can cheat anybody of our
sort out of a dowry, that'll work; but just try to fool a man of standing,
and you'll not get away with it afterwards.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. That's enough trying to scare me! You've muddled my head

PODKHALYÚZIN. Here, take these hundred rubles in silver as earnest-money,
and give us your hand on it, ma'am.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. And you say, my jewel, two thousand rubles and a sable

PODKHALYÚZIN. Exactly so, ma'am. Be at rest on that score!--And you'll put
on that sable cloak, Ustinya Naúmovna, and you'll go out walking--why,
anybody will think you're a general's wife.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Do you think so? Well, now, indeed! When I put on that
sable cloak, I'll look my perkiest, with my hands by my sides; then your
bearded friends will stare with their mouths wide open. They'll get to
sighing so that you couldn't stop them with a fire engine; the women will
all turn up their noses from jealousy.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Just so, ma'am!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Give me the earnest-money! Here goes!

PODKHALYÚZIN. But, Ustinya Naúmovna, you're doing this of your own free
will; don't back out.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Back out, what for? Just look: two thousand rubles, and a
sable cloak!

PODKHALYÚZIN. I tell you, we'll make it out of live sables. There's nothing
more to be said.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Well, good-by, my emerald! I'll run off now to the
suitor. We'll see each other to-morrow, and then I'll report to you.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Wait a minute! Where're you going! Just follow me--we'll just
take a drink of vodka, ma'am. Tishka! Tishka! [_Enter_ TISHKA] You keep a
lookout, and if you see the boss coming, run for me straight off.

                                                       [_They go out._


TISHKA _alone._

TISHKA. [_Sits down beside the table and takes some money out of his
pocket_] Half a ruble in silver--that's what Lázar gave me to-day. And the
other day, when I fell from the steeple, Agraféna Kondrátyevna gave me
ten kopeks; I won twenty-five kopeks at heads and tails; and day before
yesterday the boss forgot and left one whole ruble on the counter. Gee,
here's money for you! [_He counts to himself. The voice of FOMÍNISHNA is
heard behind the scene:_ "Tishka, oh, Tishka! How long have I got to call
you?"] Now what's the matter there? ["Is Lázar at home?"]--He was, but he's
sure gone now! ["Well, where has he sneaked to?"] How in the world should I
know? He doesn't ask my leave. If he had, I'd know.

FOMÍNISHNA _comes down the stairs._

FOMÍNISHNA. You see Samsón Sílych has come, and seems to be tipsy.

TISHKA. Phew! We're goners!

FOMÍNISHNA. Run for Lázar, Tishka; there's a dear; run quick!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. [_Appearing at the head of the stairs_] What's this,
Fomínishna dear, where's he bound for?

FOMÍNISHNA. This way, I guess, my dear! Ah, I'll close the doors, good
heavens, I'll close them; let him go up-stairs, but you stay here, my dear.

           _A knock at the door, and the voice of_ SAMSÓN SÍLYCH:
           "Hey! open up; who's there?" AGRAFÉNA
            KONDRÁTYEVNA _disappears_.

FOMÍNISHNA. Come in, honey, come in and go to sleep; God bless you!

BOLSHÓV. [_Behind the door_] What's the matter with you, you old cripple;
have you lost your wits?

FOMÍNISHNA. Ah, my dear boy! Ah, I'm a blind old granny. But, you see, I
was fool enough, somehow, to think you'd come home tipsy. Forgive me, I've
gotten deaf in my old age.

SAMSÓN SÍLYCH _comes in_.



BOLSHÓV. Has that shyster been cooking up any deviltry here?

FOMÍNISHNA. They've cooked cabbage soup with corned beef, and roast goose.

BOLSHÓV. Are you gone daft, you old fool?

FOMÍNISHNA. No, dear! I gave the order to the cook myself!

BOLSHÓV. Get out! [_He sits down_.

FOMÍNISHNA _goes to the door_; PODKHALYÚZIN _and_ TISHKA _come in_.

FOMÍNISHNA. [_Returning_] Ah, I'm a fool, a fool! Don't punish me for my
bad memory. The cold roast sucking pig had entirely jumped out of my mind.



BOLSHÓV. Go to the pigs yourself! [FOMÍNISHNA _goes out. To_ TISHKA] What
are you gaping at? Haven't you anything to do?

PODKHALYÚZIN. [_To_ TISHKA] You've been spoken to, haven't you?

TISHKA _goes out_.

BOLSHÓV. Has the shyster been here?

PODKHALYÚZIN. He has, sir.

BOLSHÓV. Did you talk with him?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why, Samsón Sílych? Does he have any feeling? Isn't his soul
naturally nothing but ink, sir? He just thrums on one string--to declare
yourself bankrupt.

BOLSHÓV. If I must declare myself bankrupt, I'll do it, and there's an end
to it.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Ah, Samsón Sílych, what's that you're saying!

BOLSHÓV. What! pay out money? Where did you get that notion? I will rather
burn everything in the fire, before I'll give them a kopek. Transfer the
merchandise, sell the notes, let 'em pilfer, let anybody steal who wants
to; but I'm not going to pay a kopek.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Pardon me, Samsón Sílych, we had the business all going fine;
and now everything has to be thrown into confusion.

BOLSHÓV. What affair was it of yours? It ain't yours. You just work
hard--I'll not forget you.

PODKHALYÚZIN. I'm not in need of anything after the kindness you have shown
me, and you're quite wrong in having any such idea about me. I'm ready to
give away my whole soul for you, and by no means to do anything tricky.
You're getting on in years; Agraféna Kondrátyevna is a very gentle lady;
Olimpiáda Samsónovna is an accomplished young lady, and of suitable
years; and you've got to spend some thought on her. But now such are the
circumstances; there's no knowing what may come of all this.

BOLSHÓV. Well, what could come of it? I'm the only one responsible.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why talk about you! You, Samsón Sílych, have already had a
long life; thank God, you're in a ripe old age; but Olimpiáda Samsónovna,
of course, is a young lady whose like can't be found on earth. I'm speaking
to you conscientiously, Samsón Sílych; that is, absolutely according to my
feelings. If I'm exerting myself on your behalf now, and am putting in my
whole strength, too, it may be said, grudging neither sweat nor blood--then
it's mostly because I'm sorry for your family.

BOLSHÓV. Come, really now?

PODKHALYÚZIN. If you please, sir. Now, suppose all this ends well. Very
good, sir. You'll have something left with which to establish Olimpiáda
Samsónovna.--Well, of that there's nothing to say; let there be money,
and suitors'll be found, sir. Well, but what a sin, Lord save us! if they
object, and begin to hound you through the courts; and such a stigma falls
upon the family, and if, furthermore, they should take away the property.
Sir, the ladies'd be obliged to endure hunger and cold, and without any
care, like shelterless birdies. But Lord save them from that! What would
happen then? [_He weeps._

BOLSHÓV. What are you crying about?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Of course, Samsón Sílych, I merely say that just for
instance--talk at the right time, keep still at the wrong time; words don't
hurt. But you see, the Old Nick is powerful--he shakes the hills.

BOLSHÓV. What's to be done, my boy? Evidently such is the will of God, and
you can't oppose it.

PODKHALYÚZIN. That's just it, Samsón Sílych! But all the same, according to
my foolish way of reasoning, you should settle Olimpiáda Samsónovna in good
time upon a good man; and then she will be, at any rate, as if behind a
stone wall, sir. But the chief thing is that the man should have a soul,
so that he'll feel. As for that noble's courting Olimpiáda Samsónovna--why
he's turned tail already.

BOLSHÓV. Turned tail how? What gave you that notion?

PODKHALYÚZIN. It isn't a notion, Samsón Sílych. You ask Ustinya Naúmovna.
Must be some one who knows him heard something or other.

BOLSHÓV. What of it! As my affairs are going now there's no need of such a

PODKHALYÚZIN. Samsón Sílych, just take into consideration! I'm a stranger,
and no relative of yours, but for the sake of your well-being I know
no rest by day or by night, my very heart is all withered. But they're
marrying to him the young lady who, it may be said, is an indescribable
beauty; and they're giving money, sir; but he swaggers and carries it high!
Well, is there any soul in him, after all that?

BOLSHÓV. Well, if he don't want her he needn't have her, and we won't cry
about it.

PODKHALYÚZIN. No, Samsón Sílych, you just consider about that: has the man
any soul? Here I am, a total stranger, yet I can't see all this without
tears. Just understand that, Samsón Sílych! Nobody else would care enough
about it to pine away because of another man's business, sir. But you see,
even if you drive me out now, even if you beat me, still I won't leave you;
because I cannot--I haven't that kind of a heart.

BOLSHÓV. But how in the world could you think of leaving me? You see my
only hope now is you. I'm old, and my affairs have gotten into a tight fix.
Just wait! It may be we'll still swing some kind of a deal such as you're
not expecting.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Oh, I can't do that, Samsón Sílych. Just understand this
much: I'm absolutely not that kind of a man! To anybody else, Samsón
Sílych, of course it's all the same; he doesn't care whether the grass
grows; but I can't do that way, sir. Kindly see yourself, sir, whether
I'm hustling or not. I'm simply wasting away now like some poor devil, on
account of your business, sir; because I'm not that kind of a man, sir. I'm
doing all this because I feel sorry for you, and not for you so much as
for your family. You ought to realize that Agraféna Kondrátyevna is a very
tender lady, Olimpiáda Samsónovna a young lady whose like can't be found on
earth, sir----

BOLSHÓV. Not on earth? Look here, brother, aren't you hinting around a

PODKHALYÚZIN. Hinting, sir? No, I didn't mean, sir!----

BOLSHÓV. Aha! Brother, you'd better speak more openly. Are you in love with
Olimpiáda Samsónovna?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why, Samsón Sílych, must be you want to joke me.

BOLSHÓV. Joke, fiddlesticks! I'm asking you seriously.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Good heavens, Samsón Sílych, could I dare think of such a
thing, sir?

BOLSHÓV. Why shouldn't you dare? Is she a princess or something like that?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Maybe she's no princess; but as you've been my benefactor
and taken the place of my own father--But no, Samsón Sílych, how is it
possible, sir, how can I help feeling it!

BOLSHÓV. Well, then, I suppose you don't love her?

PODKHALYÚZIN. How can I help loving her, sir? Good gracious, it seems as if
I loved her more than anything on earth. But no, Samsón Sílych, how is it
possible, sir!

BOLSHÓV. You ought to have said: "I love her, you see, more than anything
on earth."

PODKHALYÚZIN. How can I help loving her, sir? Please consider yourself:
all day, I think, and all night, I think--Oh, dear me, of course Olimpiáda
Samsónovna is a young lady whose like can't be found on earth--But no, that
cannot be, sir. What chance have I, sir?

BOLSHÓV. What cannot be, you poor soft-head?

PODKHALYÚZIN. How can it be possible, Samsón Sílych? Knowing you, sir, as I
do, like my own father, and Olimpiáda Samsónovna, sir; and again, knowing
myself for what I'm worth--what chance have I with my calico snout, sir?

BOLSHÓV. Calico nothing. Your snout'll do! So long as you have brains in
your head--and you don't have to borrow any; because God has endowed you
in that way. Well, Lázar, suppose I try to make a match between you and
Olimpiáda Samsónovna, eh? That indescribable beauty, eh?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Good gracious, would I dare? It may be that Olimpiáda
Samsónovna won't look kindly on me, sir!

BOLSHÓV. Nonsense! I don't have to dance to her piping in my old age!
She'll marry the man I tell her to. She's my child: if I want, I can eat
her with my mush, or churn her into butter! You just talk to me about it!

PODKHALYÚZIN. I don't dare, Samsón Sílych, talk about it with you, sir! I
don't want to appear a scoundrel to you.

BOLSHÓV. Get along with you, you foolish youngster! If I didn't love you,
would I talk with you like this? Do you understand that I can make you
happy for life? I can simply make your life for you.

PODKHALYÚZIN. And don't I love you, Samsón Sílych, more than my own father?
Damn it all!--what a brute I am.

BOLSHÓV. Well, but you love my daughter?

PODKHALYÚZIN. I've wasted away entirely, sir. My whole soul has turned over
long since, sir!

BOLSHÓV. Well, if your soul has turned over, we'll set you up again.
Johnny's the boy for our Jenny!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Daddy, why do you favor me? I'm not worth it. I'm not worth
it! My poor face would positively crack a mirror.

BOLSHÓV. What of your face! Here, I transfer all the property to you;
so that afterwards the creditors will be sorry that they didn't take
twenty-five kopeks on the ruble.

PODKHALYÚZIN. You can bet they'll be sorry, sir!

BOLSHÓV. Well, you get off to town now, and after a while come back to the
girl; we'll play a little joke on 'em.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Very good, daddy, sir! [_They go out._


_Setting as in ACT I_


_BOLSHÓV comes in and sits down in the armchair; for some time he looks
into the corners and yawns._

BOLSHÓV. Here's the life; it's well said: vanity of vanities, and all is
vanity. The devil knows, I myself can't make out what I want. If I were to
take a snack of something, I'd spoil my dinner, and if I sit still I'll go
crazy. Perhaps I might kill a little time drinking tea. [_Silence_] Here's
all there is to it; a man lives, and lives, and all at once he dies and he
turns to dust. Oh, Lord, oh, Lord!

                                  [_He yawns and looks into the corners._


_AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA comes in with LÍPOCHKA, who is very much dressed

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Get along, get along, my darling; don't catch
yourself on the sides of the doorway. Just look, Samsón Sílych, my dear
lord and master, and admire how I've rigged up our daughter! Phew! go
away! What a peony-rose she is now! [_To her_] Ah, you little angel, you
princess, you little cherub, you! [_To him_] Well, Samsón Sílych, isn't it
all right? Only she ought to ride in a six-horse carriage.

BOLSHÓV. She'll go in a two-horse carriage--she's no highflying

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. To be sure, she's no general's daughter, but, all
the same, she's a beauty! Well, pet the child a little; what are you
growling like a bear for?

BOLSHÓV. Well, how do you want me to pet her? Shall I lick her hands, or
bow down to her feet? Fine circus, I must say! I've seen something more
elegant than that.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. But what have you seen? No matter what; but this is
your daughter, your own child, you man of stone!

BOLSHÓV. What if she is my daughter? Thank God she has shoes, dresses, and
is well fed--what more does she want?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. What more! Look here, Samsón Sílych, have you gone
out of your head? Well fed! What if she is well fed! According to the
Christian law we should feed everybody; people look after strangers, to say
nothing of their own folks. Why, it's a sin to say that, when people can
hear you. Anyhow, she's your own child!

BOLSHÓV. I know she's my own child--but what more does she want? What
are you telling me all these yarns for? You don't have to put her in a
picture-frame! I know I'm her father.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Then, my dear, if you're her father, then don't act
like a stepfather! It's high time, it seems to me, that you came to your
senses. You'll soon have to part with her, and you don't grind out one
kind word; you ought, for her good, to give her a bit of good advice. You
haven't a single fatherly way about you!

BOLSHÓV. No, and what a pity; must be God made me that way.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. God made you that way! What's the matter with you?
It seems to me God made her, too, didn't he? She's not an animal, Lord
forgive me for speaking so!--but ask her something!

BOLSHÓV. What shall I ask her? A goose is no playmate for a pig; do what
you please.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. We won't ask you when it comes to the point;
meantime, say something. A man, a total stranger, is coming--no matter how
much you try, a man is not a woman--he's coming for his first visit, when
we've never seen him before.

BOLSHÓV. I said, stop it!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. What a father you are! And yet you call yourself
one! Ah, my poor abandoned little girl, you're just like a little orphan
with drooping head! He turns away from you, and won't recognize you! Sit
down, Lipochka; sit down, little soul, my charming little darling! [_She
makes her sit down._

LÍPOCHKA. Oh, stop it, mamma! You've mussed me all up!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. All right, then, I'll look at you from a distance.

LÍPOCHKA. Look if you want to, only don't rave! Fudge, mamma, one can't
dress up properly without your going off into a sentimental fit.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. So, so, my dear! But when I look at you, it seems
such a pity.

LÍPOCHKA. Why so? It had to come some time.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. All the same, it's a pity, you little fool. We've
been raising you all these years, and you've grown up--but now for no
reason at all we're giving you over to strangers, as if we were tired of
you, and as if you bored us by your foolish childishness, and by your sweet
behavior. Here, we'll pack you out of the house, like an enemy from the
town; then we'll come to, and look around, and you'll be gone forever.
Consider, good people, what it'll be like, living in some strange, far-away
place, choking on another's bread, and wiping away your tears with your
fist! Yes, good God, she's marrying beneath her; some blockhead will be
butting in--a blockhead, the son of a blockhead! [_She weeps._

LÍPOCHKA. There you go, crying! Honestly, aren't you ashamed, mamma? What
do you mean by blockhead?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. [_Weeping_] The words came out of themselves. I
couldn't help it.

BOLSHÓV. What made you start this bawling? If anybody asks you, you don't
know yourself.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. I don't know, my dear, I don't know; the fit just
came over me.

BOLSHÓV. That's it, just foolishness. Tears come cheap with you.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Yes, my dear, they do! They do! I know myself that
they come cheap; but how can you help it?

LÍPOCHKA. Fudge, mamma, how you act! Stop it! Now, he'll come any
moment--what's the use?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. I'll stop, child, I'll stop; I'll stop right off!


_The same, and USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA_

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. [_Entering_] How are you, my jewels! What are you gloomy
and down in the dumps for?

[_Kisses are exchanged._

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. We'd about given you up.

LÍPOCHKA. Well, Ustinya Naúmovna, will he come soon?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. It's my fault, I own up at once; it's my fault! But our
affairs, my jewels, aren't in a very good way.

LÍPOCHKA. How! What do you mean by that?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Now what new notion have you got?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Why, my pearls, our suitor is wavering.

BOLSHÓV. Ha, ha, ha! You're a great go-between! How are you going to make a

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. He's like a balky horse, he won't whoa nor giddup. You
can't get a sensible word out of him.

LÍPOCHKA. But what's this, Ustinya Naúmovna? What do you mean, really?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Holy saints! How can it be!

LÍPOCHKA. Have you just seen him?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. I was at his house this morning. He came out just as he
was, in his dressing-gown; but he treated me, be it said to his honor. He
ordered coffee, and rum, and heaps of fancy crackers--simply piles of them.
"Eat away!" says he, "Ustinya Naúmovna." I had come on business, you know,
so it was necessary to find out something definite. So I said: "You wanted
to go to-day and get acquainted." But on that subject he wouldn't say a
sensible word to me. "Well," he said, "we'll think it over, and advise
about it." And all he did was pull at the cords of his dressing-gown.

LÍPOCHKA. Why does he just fold his arms and sentimentalize? Why, it's
disgusting to see how long this lasts.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Really, now, why is he showing off? Aren't we as
good as he is?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Plague take him; can't we find another fellow?

BOLSHÓV. Don't you look for another, or the same thing will happen again.
I'll find another for you myself.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Yes, much you will, unless you get down off the
stove and hustle. You've actually forgotten, I think, that you have a

BOLSHÓV. We'll see!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. We'll see what? We'll see nothing! Bah--don't talk
to me, please; don't aggravate me. [_She sits down._

_BOLSHÓV bursts out laughing;_ USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA _walks off with_ LÍPOCHKA
_to the other side of the stage_. USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA _inspects the girl's

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. My! how you're dolled up--that dress certainly makes you
look better. You didn't make it yourself, did you?

LÍPOCHKA. Horrible need I had of making it! Why, do you think we're
beggars? What are dressmakers for?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Beggars, the idea! Who's saying anything so foolish
to you? They can tell from your house-keeping that you didn't make it
yourself. However, your dress is a fright.

LÍPOCHKA. What's the matter with you? Have you lost your wits? Where are
your eyes? What gave you that wild notion?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What are you getting on your high horse for?

LÍPOCHKA. Nonsense! Think I'll stand such rubbish? What, am I an
uncultivated hussy!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What are you taking on so for? Where did such a caprice
come from? Am I finding fault with your dress? Why, isn't it a dress?--and
anybody will say it's a dress. But it isn't becoming to you; it's
absolutely not the right thing for your style of beauty--blot out my
soul if I lie. For you a gold one would be little enough; let's have one
embroidered with seed-pearls. Ah! there you smile, my jewel! You see, I
know what I'm talking about!

TISHKA. [_Entering_] Sysóy Psoich wants me to ask whether he, says he, can
come in. He's out there with Lázar Elizárych.

BOLSHÓV. March! Call him in here with Lázar.

TISHKA _goes out_.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Well, now, the relish isn't ready for nothing: we'll
take a snack. Now, Ustinya Naúmovna, I suppose you've been wanting a drop
of vodka for a long time?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Just the thing--it's one o'clock, the admiral's

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Now, Samsón Sílych, move out of that place; what are
you sitting there like that for?

BOLSHÓV. Wait a minute; they're coming up. There's time enough.

LÍPOCHKA. Mamma, I'll go change my dress.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Run along, my dear, run along.

BOLSHÓV. Wait a minute before changing--there's a suitor coming.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. What sort of a suitor can that be? Quit your

BOLSHÓV. Wait a bit, Lipa, there's a suitor coming.

LÍPOCHKA. Who is it, daddy? Do I know him or not?

BOLSHÓV. You'll see him in a minute; and then, perhaps, you'll recognize

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. What are you listening to him for? What sort of a
clown is coming? He's just talking to hear himself talk.

BOLSHÓV. I told you that he was coming; and I usually know what I'm talking

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. If anybody were actually coming, then you'd be
talking sense; but you keep saying he's coming, he's coming, but God knows
who it is that's coming. It's always like that.

LÍPOCHKA. Well, in that case I'll stay, mamma. [_She goes to the mirror and
looks at herself. Then to her father_] Daddy!

BOLSHÓV. What do you want?

LÍPOCHKA. I'm ashamed to tell you, daddy!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Ashamed of what, you little fool? Speak out if you
need anything.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Shame isn't smoke--it won't eat out your eyes.

LÍPOCHKA. No, by heavens, I'm ashamed!

BOLSHÓV. Well, hide your face if you're ashamed!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Do you want a new hat; is that it?

LÍPOCHKA. There! you didn't guess it. No, not a hat.

BOLSHÓV. Then what do you want?

LÍPOCHKA. To marry a soldier!

BOLSHÓV. Just listen to that!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Wake up, you shameless girl! Lord help you!

LÍPOCHKA. Why--you see, others marry soldiers.

BOLSHÓV. Well, let 'em marry 'em; you just sit by the sea and wait for a
fair breeze.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. And don't you dare give me any of your lip! I won't
give you my mother's blessing.


_The same and_ LÁZAR, RISPOLÓZHENSKY, _and_ FOMÍNISHNA _in the doorway_.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. How do you do, my dear Samsón Sílych! How do you do, my
dear Agraféna Kondrátyevna! Olimpiáda Samsónovna, how do you do!

BOLSHÓV. How are you, old man, how are you! Do us the favor to sit down.
You sit down, too, Lázar!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Won't you have a snack? I have a relish all ready
for you.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Why shouldn't I, dear lady? I'd just like a thimbleful of
something now.

BOLSHÓV. Let's all go in together pretty soon; but now, meanwhile, we can
have a little talk.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Why not have a little talk? D'you know, my jewels, I
heard--it must have been printed in the newspaper, whether it's true or
not--that a second Bonaparte has been born, and it may be, my jewels----

BOLSHÓV. Bonaparte's all right, but we'll trust most of all in the mercy of
God; it's not a question of that now.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What is it a question of, my pearl?

BOLSHÓV. Why, about the fact that our years are approaching their decline;
our health also is failing every minute, and the Creator alone can foresee
what is ahead. So we have proposed, while we're still living, to give in
marriage our only daughter; and in regard to her settlement we may hope
also that she'll not bring into ill repute our resources and origin; above
all, in other people's eyes.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Just hear how sweetly he tells that, the jewel!

BOLSHÓV. And since now our daughter is here in person, and in view of the
fact that we are convinced of the honorable conduct and the sufficient
means of our future son-in-law, which for us is a matter of extreme
concern, in consideration of God's blessing, we hereby designate him in the
presence of these witnesses. Lipa, come here.

LÍPOCHKA. What do you want, daddy?

BOLSHÓV. Come here to me. I shan't eat you, never fear. Well, now, Lázar,
toddle up!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Been ready a long time, sir!

BOLSHÓV. Now, Lipa, give me your hand.

LÍPOCHKA. How! What nonsense is this? Where did you get this rubbish?

BOLSHÓV. Look out that I don't have to force you!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Now you're catching it, young lady!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Lord! What on earth is this?

LÍPOCHKA. I don't want to! I don't want to! I won't marry anything so

FOMÍNISHNA. The power of the cross be with us!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Evidently, daddy, it's not for me to see happiness in this
world! Evidently, sir, it can't be as you would wish!

BOLSHÓV. [_Seizes_ LÍPOCHKA _violently by the arm; takes_ LÁZAR'S _hand_]
Why can't it, if I want it to be? What am I your father for, if not to
command you? Have I fed her for nothing?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. What're you doing! What're you doing! Recollect

BOLSHÓV. Stay on your own side of the fence! This is none of your business!
Well, Lipa! Here's your future husband! I ask you to love and cherish him!
Sit down side by side and talk nice; and then we'll have a fine dinner and
set about the wedding.

LÍPOCHKA. What! Do you think I want to sit down with that booby! What

BOLSHÓV. If you won't sit down, I'll sit you down, and put an end to your

LÍPOCHKA. Who ever heard of educated young ladies being married off to
their employees!

BOLSHÓV. Better shut up! If I say so, you'll marry the porter. [_Silence_.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Say, now, Agraféna Kondrátyevna, if that isn't a pity!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. I myself, the mother, am as much in the dark as a
clothes-closet. And I can't understand what in the world has caused this!

FOMÍNISHNA. Lord! I'm past sixty, and how many weddings I've seen; but I've
never seen anything so shameful as this.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. What do you mean, you murderers; do you want to
dishonor the girl?

BOLSHÓV. Yes, much I have to listen to your high-falutin' talk. I've
decided to marry my daughter to a clerk, and I'll have my way, and don't
you dare argue; I don't give a hang for anybody. Come now, we'll go take
a snack; but just let them kid each other, and maybe they'll make it up
somehow or other.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Let's go, Samsón Sílych, and you and I, for company, will
just take a thimbleful. Yes, yes, Agraféna Kondrátyevna, that's the first
duty, that children should obey their parents. We didn't start that custom,
and we shan't see the last of it.

_They all rise and go out except_ LÍPOCHKA, PODKHALYÚZIN, _and_ AGRAFÉNA

LÍPOCHKA. Mamma, what does this mean? Does he want to make a cook of me?
[_She weeps_.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Mamma, ma'am! Such a son-in-law as will respect you and,
naturally, make your old age happy, aside from me you won't find, ma'am.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. How are you going to do that, my dear?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Mamma, ma'am! God has made me aspire so high, ma'am for this
reason, ma'am, because the other fellow, mamma, will turn you down flat,
ma'am; but I, till I land in my coffin [_weeps_], must have feeling, ma'am!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Ah, saints alive! But how can this be?

BOLSHÓV. [_Through the door_] Wife, come here!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Coming, my dear, coming!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Mamma, you remember the word I said just now!





PODKHALYÚZIN. Olimpiáda Samsónovna, ma'am! Olimpiáda Samsónovna! I suppose
you abominate me? Say only one word, ma'am! Just let me kiss your little

LÍPOCHKA. You blockhead, you ignorant lout!

PODKHALYÚZIN. But why, Olimpiáda Samsónovna, do you want to insult me,

LÍPOCHKA. I'll tell you once, now and forever, that I won't marry you, and
I won't!

PODKHALYÚZIN. That's just as you please, ma'am! Love can't be forced. Only
here's what I want to announce to you, ma'am----

LÍPOCHKA. I won't listen to you; go away from me! As if you were an
educated gentleman! You see that I wouldn't marry you for anything in the
world--you ought to break off yourself!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Now, Olimpiáda Samsónovna, you were pleased to say "break
off." Only, if I should break off, what would happen then, ma'am?

LÍPOCHKA. Why, the thing that would happen would be that I'd marry an

PODKHALYÚZIN. An aristocrat, ma'am! But an aristocrat won't take you
without a dowry!

LÍPOCHKA. What do you mean, without dowry? What are you talking about? Just
take a look and see what kind of a dowry I have; it fairly hits you in the

PODKHALYÚZIN. Those dish-rags, ma'am? A nobleman won't take dish-rags. A
nobleman wants it in cash, ma'am.

LÍPOCHKA. What of it? Dad will give cash!

PODKHALYÚZIN. All right, if he will, ma'am! But what if he hasn't any to
give? You don't know about your papa's affairs, but I know 'em mighty well;
your papa's a bankrupt, ma'am.

LÍPOCHKA. What do you mean, bankrupt? And the house and shops?

PODKHALYÚZIN. The house and shops--are mine, ma'am!

LÍPOCHKA. Yours! Get out! Are you trying to make a fool of me? Look for a
bigger goose than I am.

PODKHALYÚZIN. But I have here some legal documents. [_He produces them._

LÍPOCHKA. So you bought them of dad?

PODKHALYÚZIN. I did, ma'am!

LÍPOCHKA. Where'd you get the money?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Money! Glory to God, I have more money than any nobleman.

LÍPOCHKA. What in the world are they doing to me? They've been bringing me
up all these years, and then go bankrupt! [_Silence._

PODKHALYÚZIN. Now suppose, Olimpiáda Samsónovna, that you married a
nobleman--what will that ever amount to, ma'am? Only the glory of being a
lady, but not the least pleasure, ma'am. Please consider: ladies themselves
often go to the market on foot, ma'am. And if they do drive out anywhere,
then it's only the glory of having four horses; but the whole team ain't
worth one merchant's horse. By heaven, it ain't, ma'am! And they don't
dress so blamed superbly either, ma'am! But if, Olimpiáda Samsónovna, you
should marry me, ma'am--here's the first word: you'll wear silk gowns even
at home, and visiting, and to the theatre, ma'am--and we shan't dress you
in anything but velvets. In respect to hats and cloaks--we won't care
what's in style with the nobility, but we'll furnish you the finest ever!
We'll get horses from the Orlov stud. [_Silence_] If you have doubts on the
question of my looks, then that's just as you like, ma'am; I'll put on a
dress coat, and trim my beard or cut it off, according to the fashion,
ma'am; that's all one to me, ma'am.

LÍPOCHKA. You all talk that way before the wedding; but afterwards you
cheat us.

PODKHALYÚZIN. May I die on the spot, Olimpiáda Samsónovna! Damnation blast
me if I lie! Why should I, Olimpiáda Samsónovna? D'you think we'll live
in a house like this? We'll buy one in the Karetny, ma'am; and how we'll
decorate it! We'll have birds of paradise on the ceilings, sirens, various
Coopids[1]--people'll pay good money just to look at it.

[Footnote 1: These are not the only words that Podkhalyúzin mispronounces;
_Olimpiáda_ is another.]

LÍPOCHKA. They don't paint Coopids any more nowadays.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Then we'll let 'em paint bókays. [_Silence_] If you'd only
agree on your side, then I don't want anything more in life. [_Silence_]
How unfortunate I am, anyhow, that I can't say nice compliments.

LÍPOCHKA. Why don't you talk French, Lázar Elizárych?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Because there was no reason why I should. [_Silence_] Make
me happy, Olimpiáda Samsónovna; grant me that blessing, ma'am. [_Silence_]
Just tell me to kneel to you.

LÍPOCHKA. Well, do it! [PODKHALYÚZIN _kneels_] What a horrid waistcoat you
have on!

PODKHALYÚZIN. I'll give this one to Tishka, ma'am, and I'll get myself one
on the Kuznetsky Bridge, only don't ruin me! [_Silence_] Well, Olimpiáda
Samsónovna, ma'am?

LÍPOCHKA. Let me think.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Think about what, ma'am?

LÍPOCHKA. How can I help thinking?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why, you don't need to think!

LÍPOCHKA. I'll tell you what, Lázar Elizárych!

PODKHALYÚZIN. What're your orders, ma'am?

LÍPOCHKA. Carry me off on the quiet.

PODKHALYÚZIN. But why on the quiet, ma'am, when your papa and mamma are so

LÍPOCHKA. That's quite the thing to do. Well, if you don't want to carry me
off, why, let it go as it is.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Olimpiáda Samsónovna, just let me kiss your little hand! [_He
kisses it; then he jumps up and runs to the door_] Daddy, sir!

LÍPOCHKA. Lázar Elizárych! Lázar Elizárych! Come here!

PODKHALYÚZIN. What do you want, ma'am?

LÍPOCHKA. Oh, if you knew, Lázar Elizárych, what my life here is like!
Mamma says one thing one day, and another the next; papa, when he isn't
drunk, has nothing to say; but when he's drunk he's apt to beat you at any
moment. How's a cultivated young lady going to endure such a life? Now, if
I could marry a nobleman, I'd go out of this house, and could forget about
all that. But now everything will go on as before.

PODKHALYÚZIN. No, ma'am, Olimpiáda Samsónovna; it won't be that way!
Olimpiáda Samsónovna, as soon as we've celebrated the wedding, we'll move
into our own house, ma'am. And then we won't let 'em boss us. No, here's an
end to all that, ma'am! That'll do for them--they ran things in their day,
now it's our turn.

LÍPOCHKA. Just look here, Lázar Elizárych, we shall live by ourselves at
our house, and they by themselves at their house. We'll do everything
fashionably, and they, just as they please.

PODKHALYÚZIN. That's the idea, ma'am.

LÍPOCHKA. Well, call papa now.

[_She rises and prinks before the mirror._

PODKHALYÚZIN. Papa! Papa! Sir! Mamma!



PODKHALYÚZIN. [_Goes to meet_ SAMSÓN SÍLYCH _and throws his arms about him
in an embrace_] Olimpiáda Samsónovna has agreed, sir!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. I'm coming, my dears, I'm coming!

BOLSHÓV. Well, that's talking! Just the thing! I know what I'm doing; it's
not for you to teach me.

PODKHALYÚZIN. [To AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA] Mamma, ma'am! Let me kiss your

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Kiss away, my dear; they're both clean. Ah, you
blessed child, has it been long since you decided? Ah? Good heavens! What's
this? I absolutely didn't know how to decide this matter. Oh, my own little
darling, you!

LÍPOCHKA. Mamma, I positively didn't know that Lázar Elizárych was such a
well-educated gentleman! But now I see at once that he's infinitely more
respectful than the others.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Well, well, well, you little goose! As if your
father would wish you any harm! Ah, mamma's little dove! What a little
story, eh? Oh, my holy saints! What in the world is this? Fomínishna!

FOMÍNISHNA. Coming, coming, my dear, coming! [_She comes in._

BOLSHÓV. Stop, you gabbler! Now you two just sit down side by side, and
we'll have a look at you. Fomínishna, bring up a little bottle of fizz.


FOMÍNISHNA. Right away, my dear, right away! [_She goes out._]



AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Congratulate the bride and groom to be, Ustinya
Naúmovna! God has brought us to a ripe old age; we have lived to see

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What have I got to congratulate you with, my jewels? My
mouth's too dry to sing your praises.

BOLSHÓV. Well, now, we'll wet your whistle.


_The same_, FOMÍNISHNA, _and_ TISHKA, _who is bringing wine on a tray_.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Aha! here's a matter of a different sort. Well, God grant
you live long, keep young, grow fat, and be rich! _[She drinks]_ It's
bitter, my jewels! _[LÍPOCHKA and LÁZAR kiss]_ Ah! that sweetens it!

BOLSHÓV. Just let me drink their health. _[He takes the glass_; LÍPOCHKA
_and_ LÁZAR _stand up]_ Live as you think best--you're reasonable beings.
But so that you won't find life a bore, the house and shops go to you,
Lázar, in place of dowry, and I'll throw in some ready cash.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Many thanks, daddy; I'm well satisfied with what you've done
for me as it is.

BOLSHÓV. Nothing to thank me for! They're my own goods--I made 'em myself.
I give 'em to whomever I please. Pour me another! [TISHKA _pours another
glass]_ But what's the good of talking! Kindness is no crime! Take
everything, only feed me and the old woman, and pay off the creditors at
ten kopeks on the ruble.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why, daddy, that's not worth talking about, sir! Don't I know
what feeling is? It's a family affair--we'll settle it ourselves.

BOLSHÓV. I tell you, take it all, and there's an end to it! And nobody can
boss me! Only pay my creditors. Will you pay 'em?

PODKHALYÚZIN. If you please, dad, that's my first duty, sir.

BOLSHÓV. Only you look out--don't give 'em much. As it is, I suppose you'll
be fool enough to pay the whole debt.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Oh, we'll settle it later, daddy, somehow. If you please,
it's a family affair.

BOLSHÓV. Come, all right! Don't you give 'em more than ten kopeks. That'll
do for them. Well, kiss each other!

_LÍPOCHKA and LÁZAR do so._

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Ah, my little doves! How in the world did it happen!
I declare I've quite lost my head.


    "Whoever heard or saw such things?
    The elephant's learning to fly with wings;
    The hen laid a door-knob instead of an egg;
    And piggy is dancing a jig on a keg!"

_She pours out wine and goes up to RISPOLÓZHENSKY; RISPOLÓZHENSKY bows and
declines the wine._

BOLSHÓV. Drink to their happiness, Sysóy Psoich.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. I can't, Samsón Sílych--it turns my stomach!

BOLSHÓV. Go along with you! Drink to their happiness.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. He's always showing off!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. It turns my stomach, Samsón Sílych! By heaven, it does!
I'll just take a thimbleful of vodka. But my nature won't stand the other.
I have such a weak constitution.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Bah! you long-necked goose! Nonsense--much your nature
won't stand it! Give it here. I'll pour it down his collar if he won't
drink it!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. No fair, Ustinya Naúmovna! That ain't nice for a lady to
do. Samsón Sílych, I can't, sir! Would I have refused it? He! he! he! What
kind of a blockhead am I, that I should do anything so rude? I've seen high
society, I know how to live. Now, I never refuse vodka; if you don't mind,
I'll just take a thimbleful! But this I simply can't drink--it turns my
stomach. Samsón Sílych, don't you allow all this disorderly conduct; it's
easy to insult a man, but it ain't nice.

BOLSHÓV. Give it to him hot and heavy, Ustinya Naúmovna, hot and heavy!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY _runs away from her._

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. _[Placing the wine on the table]_ You shan't get away
from me, you old son of a sea-cook! _[She pushes him into a corner and
seizes him by the collar._


_All burst out laughing._


_A richly furnished chamber in the house of PODKHALYÚZIN_


_OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA is sitting luxuriously near the window; she wears a
silk waist, and a bonnet of the latest fashion. PODKHALYÚZIN, in a stylish
frock coat, stands before the mirror. Behind him TISHKA is adjusting his
master's clothes, and adding the finishing touches._

TISHKA. There now, it fits you to a T!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Well, Tishka, do I look like a Frenchman? Ah! Step away and
look at me!

TISHKA. Like as two peas.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Go along, you blockhead! Now you just look at me. _[He walks
about the room]_ There now, Olimpiáda Samsónovna! And you wanted to marry
an officer, ma'am! Ain't I a sport, though? I picked the smartest coat I
could find and put it on.

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. But you don't know how to dance, Lázar Elizárych.

PODKHALYÚZIN. What of it--won't I learn, though, and the raggiest ever! In
the winter we're going to attend the Merchants' Assemblies. You just watch
us, ma'am! I'm going to dance the polka.

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Now, Lázar Elizárych, you buy that carriage we saw at

PODKHALYÚZIN. Of course, Olimpiáda Samsónovna, ma'am! Of course, by all

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. They've brought me a new cloak; you and I ought to go
Friday to Sokolniki.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Of course, most certainly we'll go, ma'am; and we'll drive in
the park on Sundays. You see our carriage is worth a thousand rubles, and
the horses a thousand, and the harness mounted with silver--just let 'em
look! Tishka! My pipe. _[TISHKA goes out. PODKHALYÚZIN sits down beside
OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA]_ Just so, ma'am, Olimpiáda Samsónovna; you just let
'em watch us.


OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Well, why don't you kiss me, Lázar Elizárych?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why, sure! Permit me, ma'am! With great pleasure! If you
please, your little hand, ma'am! _[He kisses it. Silence]_ Olimpiáda
Samsónovna, say something to me in the French dialect, ma'am!

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. What shall I say to you?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Oh, say anything--any little thing, ma'am. It's all the same
to me, ma'am!

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. _Kom voo zet zholi!_

PODKHALYÚZIN. What does that mean, ma'am?


PODKHALYÚZIN. _[Jumping up from his chair]_ Aha! now here's a wife for you,
ma'am! Hooray, Olimpiáda Samsónovna! You've treated me fine! Your little
hand, please!

_Enter_ TISHKA _with the pipe._

TISHKA. Ustinya Naúmovna has come.

PODKHALYÚZIN. What the devil is she here for!

TISHKA _goes out._



USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. How are you managing to live, my jewels?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Thanks to your prayers, Ustinya Naúmovna, thanks to your

grown better looking, and have filled out a bit!

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Bah, what nonsense you're chattering, Ustinya
Naúmovna! Now, what struck you to come here?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What nonsense, my jewel! Here's what's up. Whether you
like it or not, you can't help it.--If you like to slide down-hill you've
got to pull up your sled.--Now, why have you forgotten me completely, my
jewels? Or haven't you had a chance yet to look about you? I suppose you're
all the time billing and cooing.

PODKHALYÚZIN. We have that failing, Ustinya Naúmovna; we have it.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Come, come now: just see what a nice sweetheart I got for

PODKHALYÚZIN. We're well satisfied, Ustinya Naúmovna; we're well satisfied.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. How could you be dissatisfied, my ruby? What's the matter
with you! I suppose you're all the time bustling around over new clothes,
now. Have you laid in a stock of stylish things yet?

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Not much so far, and that mostly because the new
stuffs have just come in.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Naturally, my pearl, you can't help it; let 'em be of
poor goods, so long's they're blue! But what kind of dresses did you order
most of, woollens or silks?

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. All sorts--both woollens and silks; not long ago I
had a crape made with gold trimmings.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. How much have you, all-in-all, my jewel?

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Here, count: my wedding-dress of blond lace over
a satin slip; and three velvets--that makes four; two gauze and a
crape embroidered with gold--that's seven; three satin, and three
grosgrain--that's thirteen; gros de Naples and gros d'Afrique,
seven--that's twenty; three marceline, two mousseline de ligne, two Chine
royale--how many's that?--three and four's seven, and twenty--twenty-seven;
four crape Rachel--that's thirty-one. Then there are muslins, bouffe
mousseline and calico, about twenty, and then waists and morning
jackets--about nine or ten. And then I've just had one made of Persian

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Lord help you, what heaps you've got! But you go and pick
out for me the largest of the gros d'Afrique ones.

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. I won't give you a gros d'Afrique. I have only three
myself; besides, it wouldn't suit your figure: now, if you want to, you can
take a crape Rachel.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What in time do I want with a tripe Rachel. Evidently
there's nothing to be done with you; I'll be satisfied with a satin one,
and let it go at that.

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Well, and the satin, too--it's not quite the thing,
cut ballroom style, very low--you understand? But I'll look up a crape
Rachel jacket; we'll let out the tucks, and it'll fit you like the paper on
the wall.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Well, bring on your tripe Rachel! You win, my ruby; go
open the clothes closet.

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Right away; wait just a minute.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. I'll wait, my jewel, I'll wait. Besides, I have to have
a little talk with your husband. [OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA _goes out_] What's
this, my jewel, have you entirely forgotten about your promise?

PODKHALYÚZIN. How could I forget, ma'am? I remember. [_He takes out his
pocketbook and gives her a note._

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Why, what's this, my diamond?

PODKHALYÚZIN. One hundred rubles, ma'am!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Only one hundred? Why, you promised me fifteen hundred!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Wha--at, ma'am?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. You promised me fifteen hundred!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Ain't that a bit steep? Won't you be living too high?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What's this, you barnyard cockerel; are you trying to
joke with me, man? I'm a mighty cocky lady myself!

PODKHALYÚZIN. But why should I give you money? I'd do it if there were any
occasion for it.

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Whether for something or for nothing, give it here--you
promised it yourself!

PODKHALYÚZIN. What if I did promise! I promised to jump from the Tower of
Ivan the Great, provided I married Olimpiáda Samsónovna; should I jump?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Do you think I won't have the law on you? Much I care
that you're a merchant of the second guild; I'm in the fourteenth class
myself, and even if that ain't much, I'm an official's wife all the same.

PODKHALYÚZIN. You may be a general's wife--it's all the same to me; I won't
have anything to do with you! And there's an end to it!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. You lie, it ain't! You promised me a sable cloak.

PODKHALYÚZIN. What, ma'am?

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. A sable cloak! Have you grown deaf, maybe?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Sable, ma'am! He, he, he!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Yes, sable! What are you laughing and stretching your
mouth at?

PODKHALYÚZIN. You haven't gone out for a stroll with your mug in a sable
cloak[1] yet, have you?

[Footnote 1: Russian fur cloaks, it may be useful to remember, have broad
collars that can be turned up to protect the face.]

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA _brings in a dress and hands it to_ USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA.



USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. What in the world is the matter with you; do you want to
rob me, maybe?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Rob you, nothing! You just go to the devil, and be done with

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. Are you going to turn me out? And I, senseless idiot,
agreed to work for you: I can see now your vulgar blood!

PODKHALYÚZIN. What, ma'am! Speak, if you please!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. When it comes to that, I don't care to look at you! Not
for any amount of money on earth will I agree to associate with you! I'll
go twenty miles out of my way, but I won't go by you! I'll sooner shut my
eyes and bump into a horse, than stand and look at your dirty den! Even if
I want to spit, I'll never set foot in this street again! Break me in ten
pieces if I lie! You can go to the infernal jim-jams if you ever see me
here again!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Easy now, aunty, easy!

USTÍNYA NAÚMOVNA. I'll show you up, my jewels: you'll find out! I'll give
you such a rep in Moscow that you won't dare show your face in public!--Oh!
I'm a fool, a fool to have anything to do with such a person! And I, a lady
of rank and position!--Fah, fah, fall! [_She goes out._

PODKHALYÚZIN. Well, the blue-blooded lady flew off the handle! Oh, Lord,
what an official she is! There's a proverb that says: "The thunderbolt
strikes, not from the clouds, but from the dung-heap." Good Lord! Just look
at her; what a lady!

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Bright idea of yours, Lázar Elizárych, ever to have
anything to do with her!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Really, a very absurd woman.

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. [_Glancing out of the window_] I believe they've let
daddy out of the pen; go see, Lázar Elizárych.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Well, no, ma'am; they won't let daddy out of the pen soon,
either; most likely they ordered him to the meeting of the creditors,
and then he got leave to come home. Mamma, ma'am! Agraféna Kondrátyevna!
Daddy's coming, ma'am!



AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Where is he? Where is he? My own children, my little
doves! [_Kisses are exchanged._

PODKHALYÚZIN. Daddy, how do you do, our respects!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. My little dove, Samsón Sílych, my treasure! You've
left me an orphan in my old age!

BOLSHÓV. That'll do, wife; stop!

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. What's the matter with you, ma? you're crying over
him as if he were dead! God only knows what's happened.

BOLSHÓV. That's just it, daughter; God only knows; but all the same your
father's in jail.

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Why, daddy, there are better people than you and me
there, too.

BOLSHÓV. There are, that's so! But how does it feel to be there? How'd you
like to go through the street with a soldier? Oh, daughter! You see they've
known me here in this city for forty years; for forty years they've all
bowed to me down to their belts, but now the street brats point their
fingers at me.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. You haven't any color at all, my darling! You look
like a ghost.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Ah, daddy, God is merciful! When the rough places are
smoothed over it'll all be pleasant again. Well, daddy, what do the
creditors say?

BOLSHÓV. Here's what: they've agreed on the terms. "What's the use," they
say, "of dragging it out? Maybe it'll do good, maybe it won't; but just
give something in cash, and deuce take you!"

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why not give 'em something, sir! By all means do, sir! But do
they ask much, daddy?

BOLSHÓV. They ask twenty-five kopeks.

PODKHALYÚZIN. That's a good deal, daddy!

BOLSHÓV. Well, man, I know myself that it's a good deal; but what's to be
done? They won't take less.

PODKHALYÚZIN. If they'd take ten kopeks, then it'd be all right sir. Seven
and a half for satisfaction, and two and a half for the expenses of the

BOLSHÓV. That's the way I talked; but they won't listen to it.

PODKHALYÚZIN. They carry it blamed high! But won't they take eight kopeks
in five years?

BOLSHÓV. What's the use, Lázar, we'll have to give twenty-five; that's what
we proposed at first.

PODKHALYÚZIN. But how, daddy! You yourself used to say not to give more
than ten kopeks, sir. Just consider yourself: at the rate of twenty-five
kopeks, that's a lot of money. Daddy, wouldn't you like to take a snack of
something, sir? Mamma! order them to bring some vodka, and have them start
the samovar; and we, for company's sake, 'll just take a thimbleful,
sir.--But twenty-five kopeks's a lot, sir!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Right away, my dear, right away! [She goes out.

BOLSHÓV. But what are you talking to me for: of course, I know it's a good
deal, but how can I help it? They'll put you in the pen for a year and a
half; they'll have a soldier lead you through the streets every week, and
if you don't watch out, they'll even transfer you to prison: so you'd be
glad to give even half a ruble. You don't know where to hide yourself from
mere shame.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA _enters with vodka_; TISHKA _brings in relishes, and
goes out_.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. My own little dove! Eat, my dear, eat! I suppose
they half starve you there!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Eat, daddy! Don't be particular; we're offering you such as
we have.

BOLSHÓV. Thanks, Lázar, thanks! [_He drinks_] Take a drink yourself.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Your health! [_He drinks_] Mamma, won't you have some, ma'am?
Please do!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Holy saints, what am I to do now? Such is the will
of God! O Lord, my God! Ah, my own little dove, you!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Ah, mamma, God is merciful; we'll get out of it somehow. Not
all at once, ma'am!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Lord grant we may! As it is, it makes me pine away
simply looking at him.

BOLSHÓV. Well, what about it, Lázar?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Ten kopeks, if you please, I'll give, sir, as we said.

BOLSHÓV. But where am I going to get fifteen more? I can't make 'em out of

PODKHALYÚZIN. Daddy, I can't raise 'em, sir! God sees that I can't, sir!

BOLSHÓV. What's the matter, Lázar? What's the matter? What have you done
with the money?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Now you just consider: here I'm setting up in business--have
fixed up a house. But do have something to eat, daddy! You can have some
Madeira if you want it, sir! Mamma, pass daddy something.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Eat, Samsón Sílych, dear! Eat! I'll pour out a
little punch for you, dear!

BOLSHÓV. [_Drinks_] Rescue me, my children, rescue me!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Here, daddy, you were pleased to ask what I had done with the
money?--How can you ask, sir? Just consider yourself: I'm beginning to do
business; of course, without capital it's impossible, sir; there's nothing
to begin on. Here, I've bought a house; we've ordered everything that a
good house ought to have, horses, and one thing and another. Just consider
yourself! One has to think about the children.

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Why, daddy, we can't strip ourselves bare! We're none
of your common townspeople.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Daddy, please consider: to-day, without capital, sir, without
capital you can't do much business.

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. I lived with you until I was twenty years old, daddy,
and was a regular stay-at-home. What, would you have me give back the money
to you, and go about again in calico-print clothes?

BOLSHÓV. What are you saying? What are you saying? Recollect! You see I'm
not asking any kindness of you, but my rights. Are you human beings?

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Why, of course, daddy, we're human beings; we're not

BOLSHÓV. Lázar, you just recollect; you see, I've given away everything to
you, fairly wiped my slate clean; here's what I've got left, you see! You
see, I took you into my house when you were a little rascal, you heartless
scoundrel! I gave you food and drink as if I were your own father, and set
you up in the world. But did I ever see any sort of gratitude in you?
Did I? Recollect, Lázar, how many times have I noticed that you were
light-fingered! What of it? I didn't drive you away as if you were a beast,
I didn't tell on you all over town. I made you my head clerk; I gave all my
property away to you; and to you, Lázar, I gave even my daughter, with my
own hand. If you hadn't received permission from me, you'd never have dared
look at her.

PODKHALYÚZIN. If you please, daddy, I feel all that very keenly, sir.

BOLSHÓV. Yes, you do! You ought to give everything away as I did, and leave
yourself nothing but your shirt, just to rescue your benefactor. But I
don't ask that, I don't need to; you simply pay out for me what's expected

PODKHALYÚZIN. And why shouldn't I pay, sir? Only they ask a price that's
wholly unreasonable.

BOLSHÓV. But am _I_ asking it? I begged out of every one of your kopeks I
could; I begged, and bowed down to their feet; but what can I do, when they
won't come down one little bit?

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. We have told you, daddy, that we can't pay more than
ten kopeks--and there's no use saying any more about it.

BOLSHÓV. And so, daughter, you say: "Go along now, you old devil, you, into
the pen! Yes, into the pen! Off to prison with him, the old blockhead! And
it serves him right!"--Don't chase after great wealth, be contented with
what you have. But if you do chase after wealth, they'll take away
the last you have, and strip you clean. And it'll come about that
you'll run out onto the Stone Bridge, and throw yourself into the river
Moscow. And they'll haul you out by your tongue, and put you in prison.
[_All are silent_; BOLSHÓV _drinks_] But you just think a bit: what kind of
a walk am I going to have to the pen now? How am I going to shut my eyes?
Now the Ilyínka will seem to me a hundred miles long. Just think, how
it will seem to walk along the Ilyínka! It's just as if the devils were
dragging my sinful soul through torment; Lord, forgive me for saying so!
And then past the Iver Chapel[1]: how am I going to look upon her, the Holy
Mother?--You know, Lázar; Judas, you see, sold even Christ for money, just
as we sell our conscience for money. And what happened to him because of
it?--And then there are the government offices, the criminal tribunal!--You
see, I did it with set purpose, with malice aforethought.--You see, they'll
exile me to Siberia. O Lord!--If you won't give me the money for any other
reason, give it as charity, for Christ's sake. [_He weeps_.

[Footnote 1: In which there is a miracle-working image of the Virgin.]

PODKHALYÚZIN. What's the matter, what's the matter, daddy? There, there,
now! God is merciful! What's the matter with you? We'll fix it up somehow.
It's all in our hands.

BOLSHÓV. I need money, Lázar, money. There's nothing else to fix it with.
Either money or Siberia.

PODKHALYÚZIN. And I'll give you money, sir, if you'll only let up. As it
is, I'll add five kopeks more.

BOLSHÓV. What have we come to! Have you any Christian feeling in you? I
need twenty-five kopeks, Lázar!

PODKHALYÚZIN. No, daddy, that's a good deal, sir; by heaven, that's a good

BOLSHÓV. You nest of snakes!

                           [_He falls with his head upon the table_.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Barbarian, you barbarian! Robber that you are! You
shan't have my blessing! You'll dry up, money and all; you'll dry up, dying
before your time! You robber! Robber that you are!

PODKHALYÚZIN. That'll do, mamma; you're angering God. Why are you cursing
me when you haven't looked into the business? You can see that daddy has
got a bit tipsy, and you start to make a row.

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. It would be better for you, ma, to keep still! You
seem to enjoy sending people to the third hell. I know: you'll catch it for
this. It must be for that reason God didn't give you any more children.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Keep still yourself, shameless creature! You were
enough of a punishment for God to send me!

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. You think everybody's shameless and that you're the
only good person. But you ought to take a good look at yourself: all you
can do is fast one day extra every week, and not a day goes by that you
don't bark at somebody.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Shame on you! Shame on you! Oh! Oh! Oh!--I'll curse
you in all the churches!

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Curse away if you want to!

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Yes, that's it! You'll die, and not rot! Yes!


BOLSHÓV. [_Rising_] Well, good-by, children!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Why, daddy, sit still! We've got to settle this business
somehow or other.

BOLSHÓV. Settle what? I see plainly enough that the jig is up. You'll make
a mistake if you don't do me up brown! Don't you pay anything for me; let
'em do what they please. Good-by, it's time I was going.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Good-by, daddy! God is merciful---you'll get out of this

BOLSHÓV. Good-by, wife.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Good-by, Samsón Sílych, dear! When'll they let us
come to see you in jail?

BOLSHÓV. Don't know.

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. Then I'll inquire, otherwise you'll die there
without our seeing you.

BOLSHÓV. Good-by, daughter! Good-by, Olimpiáda Samsónovna! Well, now you're
going to be rich, and live like a princess. That means assemblies and
balls--devil's own amusements! But don't you forget, Olimpiáda Samsónovna,
that there are cells with iron bars, and poor prisoners are sitting in
them. Don't forget us poor prisoners.

                          [_He goes out with_ AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Ah! Olimpiáda Samsónovna, ma'am! How awkward, ma'am! I pity
your father, by heaven I pity him, ma'am! Hadn't I better go myself and
compound with his creditors? Don't you think I'd better, ma'am? Yet he
himself will soften them better. Ah! Or shall I go? I'll go, ma'am! Tishka!

OLIMPIÁDA SAMSÓNOVNA. Do just as you please--it's your business.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Tishka! [TISHKA _enters_] Give me my old coat, the worst one
there is. [TISHKA _goes out_] As I am, they'd think I must be rich; and in
that case, there'd be no coming to terms.



RISPOLÓZHENSKY. My dear Agraféna Kondrátyevna, haven't you pickled your
cucumbers yet?

AGRAFÉNA KONDRÁTYEVNA. No, my dear. Cucumbers now, indeed! What do I care
about them! But have you pickled yours?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Certainly we have, my dear lady. Nowadays they're very
dear; they say the frost got them. My dear Lázar Elizárych, how do you do?
Is that vodka? I'll just take a thimbleful, Lázar Elizárych.


PODKHALYÚZIN. Why is it you've favored us with a visit, may I inquire?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. He, he, he!--What a joker you are, Lázar Elizárych! Of
course you know why.

PODKHALYÚZIN. And what may that be, I should like to know, sir?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. For money, Lázar Elizárych, for money! Anybody else might
come for something different, but I always come for money!

PODKHALYÚZIN. You come mighty blamed often for money.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. How can I help it, Lázar Elizárych, when you give me only
five rubles at a time? You see I have a family.

PODKHALYÚZIN. You couldn't expect me to give you a hundred at a time!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. If you'd give it to me all at once, I shouldn't keep coming
to you.

PODKHALYÚZIN. You know about as much about business as a pig does about
pineapples; and what's more, you take bribes. Why should I give you

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Why, indeed!--You yourself promised to!

PODKHALYÚZIN. I myself promised! Well, I've given you money--you've made
your profit, and that'll do; it's time to turn over a new leaf.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. What do you mean by "time to turn over a new leaf"? You
still owe me fifteen hundred rubles.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Owe you! Owe you! As if you had some document! And what for?
For your rascality!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. What do you mean by "rascality"? For my toil, not for my


RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Well, whatever it may be for, just give me the money, or a
note for it.

PODKHALYÚZIN. What, sir! A note! Not much, you come again when you're a
little older.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Do you want to swindle me with my little children?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Swindle, indeed! Here, take five rubles more, and go to the

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. No, wait! You'll not get rid of me with that.

TISHKA _enters_.

PODKHALYÚZIN. What are you going to do to me?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. My tongue isn't bought up yet.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Oh, perhaps you want to lick me, do you?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. No, not lick you, but to tell the whole thing to all
respectable people.

PODKHALYÚZIN. What are you going to talk about, you son of a sea-cook! And
who's going to believe you?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Who's going to believe me?

PODKHALYÚZIN. Yes! Who's going to believe you? Just take a look at

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Who's going to believe me? Who's going to believe me?
You'll see! Yes, you'll see! Holy saints, but what can I do? It's my death!
He's swindling me, the robber, swindling me! No, you wait! You'll see! It's
against the law to swindle!

PODKHALYÚZIN. But what'll I see?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Here's what you'll see! You just wait, just wait, just
wait! You think I won't have the law on you? You wait!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Wait; yes, wait!--As it is, I've waited long enough. Quit
your bluffing, you don't scare me.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. You think no one will believe me? Won't believe me? Well,
let 'em insult me! I--here's what I'll do: Most honorable public!

PODKHALYÚZIN. What're you doing? What're you doing? Wake up!

TISHKA. Shame on you; you're just running around drunk!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Wait, wait!--Most honorable public! I have a wife, four
children--look at these miserable boots!--

PODKHALYÚZIN. All lies, gentlemen! A most dishonorable man, gentlemen!
That'll do for you, that'll do!--You'd better look out for yourself first,
and see what you're up to!

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Lemme go! He plundered his father-in-law! And he's
swindling me.--A wife, four children, worn-out boots!

TISHKA. You can have 'em half-soled.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. What're you talking about? You're a swindler, too!

TISHKA. Not at all, sir; never mind.

PODKHALYÚZIN. Oh! But what are you moralizing about?

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. No, you wait! I'll remember you! I'll send you to Siberia!

PODKHALYÚZIN. Don't believe him, it's all lies, gentlemen! There,
gentlemen, he's a most dishonorable man himself, gentlemen; he isn't worth
your notice! Bah, my boy, what a lout you are! Well, I never knew you--and
not for any blessings on earth would I have anything to do with you.

RISPOLÓZHENSKY. Hold on there, hold on! Take that, you dog! Well, may you
be strangled with my money, and go to the devil! [_He goes out_.

PODKHALYÚZIN. How mad he got! [_To the public_] Don't you believe him, I
mean him who was talking, gentlemen--that's all lies. None of that ever
happened. He must have seen all that in a dream. But now we're just opening
a little shop: favor us with your patronage. Send the baby to us, and we
won't sell him a wormy apple!

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Plays" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.