The rattle of the night watchman is heard outside. All day I am mum ; I copy all sorts of petitions and complaints naturally I feel like chattering at night. Now, I feel more like going somewhere, where simple, whole- some people live, where they talk differently and work earnestly, at some- thing that everyone needs. But you cannot escape, Varya! Shalimoff will probably arrive tomorrow. I don't care for his last things.
I saw him once at a party. I looked at him and trembled for joy that such men exist. Yes, I was happy! I remember how energetically he shook his head; how a dark strand of hair fell over his forehead; and I can still see his inspired eyes. That was six or seven years ago, no, eight years. You dream like a schoolgirl over a new teacher! Authors are masters in the art of conquest over women's hearts. Don't say that, Vlass, that's vulgar. Don't be angry, Varya. Can't you understand that I am looking for him I understand, I understand.
My life, too, is hard. But why do you? Act like a clown? I don't like to have any one see that I feel unhappy. What a beautiful night. And there you are, — and what's more there's an odor of charcoal fumes here. Good evening, Miss 'Abstraction. The forest is so silent, so plunged in thought. Oh, it's beauti- ful! The moon is soft, the shadows deep and warm. The day is never as fine as the night.
Yes, — old ladies are always jollier than young girls, — and cray-fish fly faster than swallows. You don't understand things. Pour me out some tea, Varya. Has any one called here? Please let me alone. The watchman's rattle and soft whistle are heard from the window. Did Yulia Fillipovna come to see you? Yes, yes, she came to talk over the theatricals. Were you in the woods? Yes, I met Rumin. What did he say? He told me once that to love a woman is man's tragic duty. You thought differently of him once. You think then that it is my fault. Oh, no, Varya, no indeed! I tried at first to divert his mind.
Did you have a final talk? His love must be lukewarm and lack passion — all words. And a joyless love offends a woman. Isn't he a humpback? I never noticed it. Do you think so? There is something inharmonious in his soul — and when I see that in a man, I begin to think that he is a physical monstrosity. Flass [coming out of the study in a sad mood, shuffling his papers]. Taking into consideration the number of these briefs, I humbly represent to you, my patroness, that with the best intentions, it will be impossible for me, in accordance with the wish of the patron, to complete the unpleasant duty he has assigned me!
I will help you later. Indeed you are a sister! Be proud of this! Miss 'Abstraction,' learn to love your neighbor as long as I and my sister are alive. Let me tell you, you are a humpback, too. From what point of view? Your soul is humpbacked. I hope it does not spoil my looks. Rudeness is as much of a defect as a hump.
Those who are lame according to your aph- orisms. Vulgar men are to me as though they were marked with small- pox, and they are generally blonde men. All dark men marry early; while the metaphysicians are blind and deaf. That's not even witty! Most likely you are not familiar with metaphysics. Yes, I know; tobacco and metaphysics are delectable things for amateurs. I don't smoke, so I am ignorant as to tobacco, but I have read the works of metaphysicians, and I can say that they produce nausea and vertigo!
Weak brains grow dizzy even on the perfume of flowers. You will end by quarreling. I will eat; that's more to the point. And I will play on the piano. How hot it is here, Varya! I will open the door of the veranda. Vlass sips his tea. Kaleria seats herself at the piano. The soft whistle of the watchman is heard.
Kaleria wanders softly over the keyboard of the middle register. Olga Alekseyevna enters, pulling the drapery aside quickly, as though she were a large frightened bird. She throws of her grey shawl. Please go on playing; no need to shake hands. How are you, Vlass? Sit down, sit down! Why didn't you come before? I thought some one was hidden in the forest, — some tramp. Why do they whistle so? Yes, that's very alarming! Aren't they hooting at us? I wanted to run up here before, but Nadya was naughty. Perhaps she wasn't feeling well. You know, Volka is ill, — feverish. Then my husband returned from the city out of sorts.
And the new maid is impossible! She plunged the glass milk jars into boiling water and they cracked, of course. Why, my poor dear! You care for much — that's why everything comes out overdone or underdone! But inelegant — 'underdone,' 'overdone'! I am not the author of the Russian lan- guage. Of course you find all this ridiculous. It does not entertain you?
Well, what of that? We all speak of what interests us most. When I think of the children, it's as though I heard a bell within me. Yes, it's so difficult to manage children, Vary a! Forgive me, dear, but I think you exaggerate. No, no, don't say that. You don't know what an oppressive feeling it is, — this responsibility for chil- dren!
They will ask me some day how they ought to live! And then what am I to say to them? But why do you borrow trouble? They may not ask. That's all you know! They are asking already! Terrible questions such as no one can answer! What a hardship, what a pity it is to be a woman! Vlass [in an undertone but with much earnest feeling]. One ought to be human. The smile of twilight puts out the starlight.
I have made you all gloomy. I'll say no more. Why did you go away, Varya? Come here, or I will think that you can't bear to be with me. I am simply touched. I feel disgusted with myself, — it's as though my soul were shriveled like a little dog's. You know there are lap-dogs like that. The sun rises and sets, but twilight reigns in the hearts of men. I am talking to myself. Stop, Vlass, I beg of you! All right, I am mum. See all the people coming out of the forest. What a pretty sight! But how comically Pavel Sergueyevitch is swinging his arms!
Who is with him? Olga [wraps herself in her shawl]. I am not properly dressed. That elegant Madame Susloff will make fun of me. I can't bear her! My patroness, you are taking me away from the straight path of duty. The 'elegant' lady neglects her children; but strange to say, they are always well.
Marya [entering by the door of the veranda]. Your husband told me you were not feeling well. What is the matter? I am glad you called, but I am quite well. It's a long time since I saw you. You say it as though you were pleased to see me, and I am always complaining. Perhaps I like complaints. How are the children? Yulia [entering from the veranda].
Just see all the guests I bring you! Never mind, we will not stay long! How are you, Olga Aleksey- evna! Why don't you gentlemen come in? Varvara Michailovna, Pavel Sergueyevitch, and Zamysloff are out there. Shall I call them in? Why, have you lost flesh? Shall I fill the samovar? Yes, do, and be quick about it. Mary a [to Vlass]. Why are you making faces? Trying hard to be witty. My dear Varvara, your Pavel Sergueyevitch has nervous prostration. Why do you call him mine? Vlass with a scowl enters the study and shuts the door.
Olga takes Marya aside and whispers to her, pointing to her heart. You will forgive our late intrusion? I am always pleased to see guests. That's the principal charm of country life. But if you had heard their disputes! He and Marya Lvovna. I cannot speak indifferently of such important matters, — of what demands an explanation [Sasha brings the samovar.
Varvara at the table gives her directions and prepares the tea-cups.
Rumin at the piano keeps his eyes on her. You are too nervous, and that's why your arguments fail to convince. My husband's uncle has arrived unexpectedly, — he is a beef-dealer or butter-merchant, — some kind of a merchant.
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He is noisy and jolly, with grey hair and a stub-nose. He is quite entertaining! But where is Zamysloff? My ' reasonable ' knight? What have you been talking about? I have been demoralizing the young generation. Sonia and Zimin were trying to convince me that man has life given him for the purpose of solving various social, moral and other prob- lems, while I tried to convince them that life is an art.
I have just invented it! But I feel this will be my firm belief. Life is the art of finding beauty and joy everywhere, even in eating and drinking. They dispute like vandals. Kaleria, stop your chatter. I know you are a lover of beauty, Kaleria Vassilievna, — Why don't you love me? That's a glaring contradiction.
You are so noisy, so loud. But that's not to the point. I and this fine lady. I can't go on! Let's go into your charming little room. I am so fond of it. Everything hinders us here. Fancy, my husband's uncle's name is Colon! She is always so jolly, and yet, I know that her life with her husband is not always pleasant.
I don't think that concerns us, Olga. I haven't said anything improper, have I? Family tragedies are common now-a-days. Sony a [looking in at the door]. Motherkin, I am going to take a walk. There are so many women here, and that's always a bore. Be careful what you say; your mother is also a woman. Is that so, motherkin?
What is she chattering about? She hasn't even stopped to say good evening. Sony a [to Varvara]. We saw each other today. But I'll kiss you once more with delight. I am kind and generous when it suits me. Stop fooling and run away. See what a mother I have! She called herself a woman just now. It is eighteen years since I made her acquaintance and I hear this acknowledgment for the first time!
Are you coming or not? Allow me to introduce my slave. Why don't you come in? He is impossible in good society. She tore out the sleeve of my smoking-jacket, — that's what's the matter! He is not satisfied with that, but wants more! Motherkin I will call for you, will that be all right? I am going to hear how Max will talk to me of love eternal. We'll see, young man. Is the moon up? I am not a young man — in Sparta. Now, look here, Sonya, why do you jostle a man who Sonya. You are not a man yet. You have a fine girl, Marya Lvovna. I was like that at her age. It's delightful to see how you treat each other.
Yes, we are friends. How did you do it? Win your child's friendship. We should be sincere with our children, not hide the truth from them, or deceive them. Rumin [with a smile]. This is somewhat risky, you know. Truth is cold and stern, and the pernicious poison of skepticism is ever concealed therein. You may thus poison a child's mind at once, revealing to it the terrible face of truth. And you prefer to poison it gradually? So as not to notice yourself how you will distort it? Rumin [excitedly and nervously]. No, no, I never said so.
I am only opposing those unwise and unnecessary revelations, those attempts to strip life of the beautiful garb of poetry which conceals its rude and fre- quently hideous aspects. We should embellish life! We should prepare new garments for it before discarding the old ones! What are you talking about? I am speaking of man's right to covet deception.
You speak of life often enough. But what is life? When you speak the word, it rises before me like a giant monster, constantly calling for human victims. It devours the brain and force of man daily, greedily drinks his blood. She makes a motion as though to stop Rumin. I see no reason in it, but I know that the longer a man lives the more filth, vulgarity, vileness, and roughness he sees.
He can't do away with the contradictions of life, can't ban- ish all its evil and filth! Don't, then, take from him the right to see what kills the soul! Grant him the right to turn aside from the facts that offend him! A man seeks rest and oblivion, peace! Your ideal man has become a bankrupt? I am very sorry. Only in this way do you claim for him the right to rest peace- fully. I am sure you don't flatter him. Excuse me for talking so loud. I see, you oppose this. If I do, it isn't because you are nervous.
What, then, is your reason? A man grows, develops, as well as his thoughts. This tiny, dark thought flutters like a frightened bat. It rises in a spiral, but still it rises higher. You suspect me of insincerity, Marya Lvovna? No; I see you are sincere. You are excited, and al- though hysterics fail to convince me — I am at a loss to understand.
It is as though something had frightened you. There are many such frightened people. Yes, there are hosts of them, because men feel more and more keenly that life is cruel. Everything in it is strictly foreordained. Then you should try all the more to make this accident a fact of social necessity;. When people say anything severe and condemn- ing, I shrivel up, as though I were condemned. How little kindness there is in life. Well, I must go home! It's so cosy here, Varya,. It's getting late, too, and it's time to go. Don't go yet, my dear. Why are you in such haste, all at once?
They'll send for you if they need you. Well, I'll stay awhile. Rumin nervously taps his fingers on the panes of the glass door. We live strange lives! We talk and talk, and there it ends. We have many opinions, But when it comes to wishes, — defined and strong, — we don't have them at all. Is that meant for me? We live an ugly, dull and insincere life. She has written a new poem and has promised to read it at our soiree for the benefit of the children's colony.
I request that it shall be read here, now. I love your caressing verses. Yes, I should love to hear it. We grow rude in discussions. Do read it, my dear. Is it something new, Kaleria? Yes, but it's poetry in prose and rather uninteresting. Do read it, sweetheart. It's so little trouble to you! But where is Vlass? He is in the study. He has a great deal to do. I was somewhat curt with him. Really it's too bad to see him making a clown of himself. But you should be a little more lenient with him. He is a dear man, much advised, but never petted.
Like the rest of us. That's why we are all rude and rough. He lived with his father, a tippler, who abused him. I'll go to him. You are becoming more and more intimate with Marya Lvovna, isn't that so? Olga [in an undertone]. How severely she judges everything! Marya Lvovna possesses in a high degree the severity of the faithful. How can this please?
Dudakof [enters from the corridor]. My greetings to you. Have you been walking? Would you like a glass of tea, Kyrill Akimovitch? I don't drink it at night. I should like to see you, Pavel Sergueyevitch. Can I see you tomorrow at your house? It's in regard to the colony of the minor criminals. They are again in mischief. They are abused, I know, and yesterday the papers accused us. Yes; — in general, — there is no time to look into everything.
Everybody has his own affairs to manage, I walked out into the woods.
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It did me good. My nerves are on edge. This donkey of a mayor reprimands me. The patients eat too much and use too much quinine. In the first place, that's none of his busi- ness He ought to drain the streets in the lower part of the city, then I wouldn't touch his quinine. I don't use it myself? Is it worth while to get vexed at such trifles? You should have been used to them, long ago. But if all life is made of trifles? And what do you mean when you say 'used to them'? To have every idiot stick his nose into your business and interfere with your life? Yes, I am getting used to that.
My reason tells me I must economize It's bad for the business, but I'll economize. I have no other practice and can't give up the devilish place. On account of your family? This is not the first time I hear this from you, and you could have spared me here — you rough and tactless man! What's the matter with you? Let me be, let me be! I heard what he said [Both disappear in Varvara's room. I had no idea, Pavel Sergueyvitch, forgive me, please. This is quite unexpected. I am so upset. The Doctor has almost taken us off our feet. What's the matter with him? I distrust this doctor.
He is such a sickly-looking person. He may make mistakes in his prescriptions and give some inju- rious drug. I believe he will end in suicide. You say it so calmly. Suicides among doctors are frequent. Words agitate you more than men do. Is the poetry to be read here? If you wish to hear it you must stop talking.
Let all life cease. I am very glad. This is poetry in prose. Music will be set to it in time. I love every- thing original. Automobiles, colored postal cards please me like a child. Will you allow me to read? Kaleria softly touches the piano. Boundless above them is the desert of skies and the myriad eyes of the planets look sadly down upon the snow-bound heights. At the foot of the hills, yonder, on the narrow valleys of the earth, life grows and struggles, while the sad lord of the plains — man — suffers. In the dark caves of the earth groans and laughter, cries of rage and whispers of love unite in one sad chord.
But the stillness of the summits and the gaze of the passionless stars disturb not the deep sighs of men. But on the border line of the ice, in the kingdom of perpetual silence, grows the sad mountain flower — the Edelweiss — as though to tell some one of the sorrows of earth and of the sufferings of weary men. Above it, in the endless space of heaven, the proud sun moves silently, the dumb moon sheds a sad light and the mute stars glimmer and shine.
And the icy robe of stillness descending from above, surrounds the lonely flower — the Edelweiss. All remain silent and wrapt in thought. The watch- man's whistle is heard in the distance. With wide open eyes, Kaleria looks before her. So sad — so pure! I say, when you read this, you ought to wear a loose white gown, as fluffy as the Edelweiss, you understand. That would be intensely beautiful!
Vlass [approaching the piano]. I like it, too! Don't be angry, — I am sincere. Varvara goes towards the door and pauses as she sees Shalimoff, who enters. Have I the pleasure of seeing —? Pray — walk in. ACT II A meadow in front of the Bassoffs' veranda, thickly encircled with pines, firs, and birches, hi front, on the left, under some pines, a round table and three chairs. In the rear the low veranda of the house with an awning. Opposite, a wide settee, fitted in between the trunks of a group of trees. Still more to the rear, on the right, a small, open, shell-shaped stage. On the left, a road leading to the Sussloffs' country-house.
A few seats face the stage. Kaleria is playing on the piano at the Bassoffs'. Pustobaika, the watchman, moves about in a leisurely way, placing seats for the audience. I say, all new folks? Not the same people who rented it last Summer? Pus [taking his pipe out']. They are all the same kind of gentry. Summerfolk are all alike. I have seen hosts of them, these five years. To me they are like bubbles in a puddle of water, they swell and burst, — burst. That's the way of it.
They have music, too! Are they going to play on the stage? I never saw the gentry act. I suppose it's funny? Have you seen them? I have seen many sights. How do they do it? They dress up in other men's clothes and say — all sorts of things, — just what suits them best. One makes believe he's honest, — an- other that he's clever — or unhappy Whatever suits 'em, they act.
So that is how they do it! And do they sing? They don't sing much. The engineer's wife squeals now and then, but she has a thin voice. The gentry are coming. Don't laugh at me! You can't compete with me! You are only 40 and you are bald; I am about 60 and my hair curls even though I am grey. My factory was an old one, the machinery not good for much — whereas they set up new machinery, — and their goods were superior to mine and cheaper.
I saw that my business would run down. I thought it over, — I couldn't compete with the Germans. So I decided to sell out to them. And you sold everything out? I left my city house, an old and extensive house. And now I am out of business, — I have only one business — that's to count my money.
I am an old fool, if the truth be known. I sold out and at once felt like an orphan. Here are my hands, for instance, I never noticed them before — now they swing like useless things. Varvara appears on the veranda with her hands behind her back and slowly walks up and down. She draws like a magnet! If I only were ten years younger. I thought you were married? I have been married several times. Russians make bad husbands! Sometimes I came and looked about me and I saw that the wife was a worthy woman, while the husband was a nonentity.
So I would win her over. How do you expect to live now? Vlass [speaking to Varvara]. Vlass [putting his arm about her waist']. I would like to tell you something comforting — but I don't know what to say. Don't mind me, dear. Chernoff is coming our way. He is not the bashful kind, but a loafer, I believe. Who is a loafer? Perhaps you too are not much of a business man? Since I have had the pleasure of your acquaintance, estimable Semion Semionovitch, I take it that when you say 'business' you mean squeezing your neighbor out of his worldly goods?
I am not a business man in that sense of the word. In youth, you understand that's not an easy matter; the conscience is still tender, and the head is filled with pink jelly instead of brains. But when you mature, you will stride some- one's neck most comfortably. Prosperity is attained much more easily if you stride your neighbor's neck. I believe you; you are surely an experienced man in such matters.
I suppose he is tickled at saucing me. Well, let him; let the youngsters have their fun. You don't wish to make up? Whose advent are you expecting now? I don't know ; I don't know. Well, Petrucha, how am I to live now? It can't be decided right off. I must think it over. Can't be decided, eh? I didn't say anything.
No, and you never will, that's what I think. They bow as they pass and sit down at the table under the pines. Bassoff has a towel hanging round his neck. We've just had a dip. Is the water cold? I think I'll take a bath, too. Come, Piotr; I may be drowned; then you'll get your legacy all the quicker! No, I can't go.
I must speak with them. Well, I am going. Susloff follows him with his eyes. Smiles and goes towards Bassoff. Varya, order a bottle of beer here, order three bottles. Well, how is your uncle? Yes, old people are not entertaining. It looks as though he meant to live with me. Well, what are you going to do? I suppose it will be as he wishes. Well, Iakov, why don't you say something? With Marya Lvovna, of course. A fierce woman, I say! I don't fancy her. I am gentle, but I confess I was almost rude to her. Put yourself in my place. A man writes, feels deeply — finally he simply becomes exhausted.
He comes to his friends to rest, to rusticate, to collect his thoughts. What are your beliefs? What are your ideals? Why don't you write of this? Post-grad Diploma in Russian Language. Following a prolific second career writing original plays for radio and television, Stephen began translating plays, mainly from Russian, in the late s.
Published and produced work ranges from the great 19th-century classics — Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Chekhov — to contemporary drama by Gelman and Petrushevskaya. In addition, the following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:. A weary former prostitute seeks out her estranged sea captain father, hoping to find forgiveness from him, while hiding her past from a sailor she loves.
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