The entrance hall of a wealthy house in Moscow. There are three doors: the front door, the door of Leoníd Fyódoritch's study, and the door of Vasíly Leoníditch's room. A staircase leads up to the other rooms; behind it is another door leading to the servants' quarters.
GREGORY [looks at himself in the glass and arranges his hair, &c.] I am sorry about those mustaches of mine! “Mustaches are not becoming to a footman,” she says! And why? Why, so that any one might see you're a footman,—else my looks might put her darling son to shame. He's a likely one! There's not much fear of his coming anywhere near me, mustaches or no mustaches! [Smiling into the glass] And what a lot of 'em swarm round me. And yet I don't care for any of them as much as for that Tánya. And she only a lady's-maid! Ah well, she's nicer than any young lady. [Smiles] She is a duck! [Listening] Ah, here she comes. [Smiles] Yes, that's her, clattering with her little heels. Oh!
Enter Tánya, carrying a cloak and boots.
GREGORY. My respects to you, Tatyána Márkovna.
TÁNYA. What are you always looking in the glass for? Do you think yourself so good-looking?
GREGORY. Well, and are my looks not agreeable?
TÁNYA. So, so; neither agreeable nor disagreeable, but just betwixt and between! Why are all those cloaks hanging there?
GREGORY. I am just going to put them away, your ladyship! [Takes down a fur cloak and, wrapping it round her, embraces her] I say, Tánya, I'll tell you something …
TÁNYA. Oh, get away, do! What do you mean by it? [Pulls herself angrily away] Leave me alone, I tell you!
GREGORY [looks cautiously around] Then give me a kiss!
TÁNYA. Now, really, what are you bothering for? I'll give you such a kiss! [Raises her hand to strike].
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [off the scene, rings and then shouts] Gregory!
TÁNYA. There now, go! Vasíly Leoníditch is calling you.
GREGORY. He'll wait! He's only just opened his eyes! I say, why don't you love me?
TÁNYA. What sort of loving have you imagined now? I don't love anybody.
GREGORY. That's a fib. You love Simon! You have found a nice one to love—a common, dirty-pawed peasant, a butler's assistant!
TÁNYA. Never mind; such as he is, you are jealous of him!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [off the scene] Gregory!
GREGORY. All in good time.… Jealous indeed! Of what? Why, you have only just begun to get licked into shape, and who are you tying yourself up with? Now, wouldn't it be altogether a different matter if you loved me?… I say, Tánya …
TÁNYA [angrily and severely] You'll get nothing from me, I tell you!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [off the scene] Gregory!!
GREGORY. You're mighty particular, ain't you?
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [off the scene, shouts persistently, monotonously, and with all his might] Gregory! Gregory! Gregory! [Tánya and Gregory laugh].
GREGORY. You should have seen the girls that have been sweet on me. [Bell rings].
TÁNYA. Well then, go to them, and leave me alone!
GREGORY. You are a silly, now I think of it. I'm not Simon!
TÁNYA. Simon means marriage, and not tomfoolery!
Enter Porter, carrying a large cardboard box.
PORTER. Good morning!
GREGORY. Good morning! Where are you from?
PORTER. From Bourdey's. I've brought a dress, and here's a note for the lady.
TÁNYA [taking the note] Sit down, and I'll take it in. [Exit].
Vasíly Leoníditch looks out of the door in shirt-sleeves and slippers.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Gregory!
GREGORY. Yes, sir.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Gregory! Don't you hear me call?
GREGORY. I've only just come, sir.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Hot water, and a cup of tea.
GREGORY. Yes, sir; Simon will bring them directly.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. And who is this? Ah, from Bourdier?
PORTER. Yes, sir.
Exeunt Vasíly Leoníditch and Gregory. Bell rings. Tánya runs in at the sound of the bell and opens the front door.
TÁNYA [to Porter] Please wait a little.
PORTER. I am waiting.
Sahátof enters at front door.
TÁNYA. I beg your pardon, but the footman has just gone away. This way, sir. Allow me, please. [Takes his fur cloak].
SAHÁTOF [adjusting his clothes] Is Leoníd Fyódoritch at home? Is he up? [Bell rings].
TÁNYA. Oh yes, sir. He's been up a long time.
Doctor enters and looks round for the footman. Sees Sahátof and addresses him in an offhand manner.
DOCTOR. Ah, my respects to you!
SAHÁTOF [looks fixedly at him] The Doctor, I believe?
DOCTOR. And I thought you were abroad! Dropped in to see Leoníd Fyódoritch?
SAHÁTOF. Yes. And you? Is any one ill?
DOCTOR [laughing] Not exactly ill, but, you know … It's awful with these ladies! Sits up at cards till three every morning, and pulls her waist into the shape of a wine-glass. And the lady is flabby and fat, and carries the weight of a good many years on her back.
SAHÁTOF. Is this the way you state your diagnosis to Anna Pávlovna? I should hardly think it quite pleases her!
DOCTOR [laughing] Well, it's the truth. They do all these tricks—and then come derangements of the digestive organs, pressure on the liver, nerves, and all sorts of things, and one has to come and patch them up. It's just awful! [Laughs] And you? You are also a spiritualist it seems?
SAHÁTOF. I? No, I am not also a spiritualist.… Good morning! [Is about to go, but is stopped by the Doctor].
DOCTOR. No! But I can't myself, you know, positively deny the possibility of it, when a man like Krougosvétlof is connected with it all. How can one? Is he not a professor,—a European celebrity? There must be something in it. I should like to see for myself, but I never have the time. I have other things to do.
SAHÁTOF. Yes, yes! Good morning. [Exit, bowing slightly].
DOCTOR [to Tánya] Is Anna Pávlovna up?
TÁNYA. She's in her bedroom, but please come up.
Doctor goes upstairs.
Theodore Ivánitch enters with a newspaper in his hand.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH [to Porter] What is it you want?
PORTER. I'm from Bourdey's. I brought a dress and a note, and was told to wait.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Ah, from Bourdey's! [To Tánya] Who came in just now?
TÁNYA. It was Sergéy Ivánitch Sahátof and the Doctor. They stood talking here a bit. It was all about spiritalism.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH [correcting her] Spiritualism.
TÁNYA. Yes, that's just what I said—spiritalism. Have you heard how well it went off last time, Theodore Ivánitch? [Laughs] There was knocks, and things flew about!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. And how do you know?
TÁNYA. Miss Elizabeth told me.
Jacob runs in with a tumbler of tea on a tray.
JACOB [to the Porter] Good morning!
PORTER [disconsolately] Good morning!
Jacob knocks at Vasíly Leoníditch's door.
GREGORY. Give it here.
JACOB. You didn't bring back all yesterday's tumblers, nor the tray Vasíly Leoníditch had. And it's me that have to answer for them!
GREGORY. The tray is full of cigars.
JACOB. Well, put them somewhere else. It's me who's answerable for it.
GREGORY. I'll bring it back! I'll bring it back!
JACOB. Yes, so you say, but it is not where it ought to be. The other day, just as the tea had to be served, it was not to be found.
GREGORY. I'll bring it back, I tell you. What a fuss!
JACOB. It's easy for you to talk. Here am I serving tea for the third time, and now there's the lunch to get ready. One does nothing but rush about the livelong day. Is there any one in the house who has more to do than me? Yet they are never satisfied with me.
GREGORY. Dear me? Who could wish for any one more satisfactory? You're such a fine fellow!
TÁNYA. Nobody is good enough for you! You alone …
GREGORY [to Tánya] No one asked your opinion! [Exit].
JACOB. Ah well, I don't mind. Tatyána Márkovna, did the mistress say anything about yesterday?
TÁNYA. About the lamp, you mean?
JACOB. And how it managed to drop out of my hands, the Lord only knows! Just as I began rubbing it, and was going to take hold of it in another place, out it slips and goes all to pieces. It's just my luck! It's easy for that Gregory Miháylitch to talk—a single man like him! But when one has a family, one has to consider things: they have to be fed. I don't mind work.… So she didn't say anything? The Lord be thanked!… Oh, Theodore Ivánitch, have you one spoon or two?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. One. Only one! [Reads newspaper].
Bell rings. Enter Gregory (carrying a tray) and the Doorkeeper.
DOORKEEPER [to Gregory] Tell the master some peasants have come from the village.
GREGORY [pointing to Theodore Ivánitch] Tell the major-domo here, it's his business. I have no time. [Exit].
TÁNYA. Where are these peasants from?
DOORKEEPER. From Koursk, I think.
TÁNYA [shrieks with delight] It's them.… It's Simon's father come about the land! I'll go and meet them! [Runs off].
DOORKEEPER. Well, then, what shall I say to them? Shall they come in here? They say they've come about the land—the master knows, they say.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Yes, they want to purchase some land. All right! But he has a visitor now, so you had better tell them to wait.
DOORKEEPER. Where shall they wait?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Let them wait outside. I'll send for them when the time comes. [Exit Doorkeeper]
Enter Tánya, followed by three Peasants.
TÁNYA. To the right. In here! In here!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I did not want them brought in here!
GREGORY. Forward minx!
TÁNYA. Oh, Theodore Ivánitch, it won't matter, they'll stand in this corner.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. They'll dirty the floor.
TÁNYA. They've scraped their shoes, and I'll wipe the floor up afterwards. [To Peasants] Here, stand just here.
Peasants come forward carrying presents tied in cotton handkerchiefs: cake, eggs, and embroidered towels. They look around for an icón before which to cross themselves; not finding one, they cross themselves looking at the staircase.
GREGORY [to Theodore Ivánitch]. There now, Theodore Ivánitch, they say Pironnet's boots are an elegant shape. But those there are ever so much better. [Pointing to the third Peasant's bast shoes].
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Why will you always be ridiculing people? [Exit Gregory].
THEODORE IVÁNITCH [rises and goes up to the Peasants] So you are from Koursk? And have come to arrange about buying some land?
FIRST PEASANT. Just so. We might say, it is for the completion of the purchase of the land we have come. How could we announce ourselves to the master?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Yes, yes, I know. You wait a bit and I'll go and inform him. [Exit].
The Peasants look around; they are embarrassed where to put their presents.
FIRST PEASANT. There now, couldn't we have what d'you call it? Something to present these here things on? To do it in a genteel way, like,—a little dish or something.
TÁNYA. All right, directly; put them down here for the present. [Puts bundles on settle].
FIRST PEASANT. There now,—that respectable gentleman that was here just now,—what might be his station?
TÁNYA. He's the master's valet.
FIRST PEASANT. I see. So he's also in service. And you, now, are you a servant too?
TÁNYA. I am lady's-maid. Do you know, I also come from Démen! I know you, and you, but I don't know him. [Pointing to third Peasant].
THIRD PEASANT. Them two you know, but me you don't know?
TÁNYA. You are Efím Antónitch.
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it!
TÁNYA. And you are Simon's father, Zachary Trifánitch.
SECOND PEASANT. Right!
THIRD PEASANT. And let me tell you, I'm Mítry Vlásitch Tchilíkin. Now do you know?
TÁNYA. Now I shall know you too!
SECOND PEASANT. And who may you be?
TÁNYA. I am Aksínya's, the soldier's wife's, orphan.
FIRST AND THIRD PEASANTS [with surprise] Never!
SECOND PEASANT. The proverb says true:
“Buy a penny pig, put it in the rye,
And you'll have a wonderful fat porker by-and-by.”
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it! She's got the resemblance of a duchess!
THIRD PEASANT. That be so truly. Oh Lord!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. [off the scene, rings, and then shouts] Gregory! Gregory!
FIRST PEASANT. Now who's that, for example, disturbing himself in such a way, if I may say so?
TÁNYA. That's the young master.
THIRD PEASANT. Oh Lord! Didn't I say we'd better wait outside until the time comes? [Silence].
SECOND PEASANT. Is it you, Simon wants to marry?
TÁNYA. Why, has he been writing? [Hides her face in her apron].
SECOND PEASANT. It's evident he's written! But it's a bad business he's imagined here. I see the lad's got spoiled!
TÁNYA [quickly] No, he's not at all spoiled! Shall I send him to you?
SECOND PEASANT. Why send him? All in good time. Where's the hurry?
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [desperately, behind scene] Gregory! Where the devil are you?… [Enters from his room in shirt-sleeves, adjusting his pince-nez].
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Is every one dead?
TÁNYA. He's not here, sir.… I'll send him to you at once. [Moves towards the back door].
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. I could hear you talking, you know. How have these scarecrows sprung up here? Eh? What?
TÁNYA. They're peasants from the Koursk village, sir. [Peasants bow].
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. And who is this? Oh yes, from Bourdier.
Vasíly Leoníditch pays no attention to the Peasants' bow. Tánya meets Gregory at the doorway and remains on the scene.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [to Gregory] I told you the other boots… I can't wear these!
GREGORY. Well, the others are also there.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. But where is there?
GREGORY. Just in the same place!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. They're not!
GREGORY. Well, come and see. [Exeunt Gregory and Vasíly Leoníditch].
THIRD PEASANT. Say now, might we not in the meantime just go and wait, say, in some lodging-house or somewhere?
TÁNYA. No, no, wait a little. I'll go and bring you some plates to put the presents on. [Exit].
Enter Sahátof and Leoníd Fyódoritch, followed by Theodore Ivánitch.
The Peasants take up the presents, and pose themselves.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH [to Peasants] Presently, presently! Wait a bit! [Points to Porter] Who is this?
PORTER. From Bourdey's.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Ah, from Bourdier.
SAHÁTOF [smiling] Well, I don't deny it: still you understand that, never having seen it, we, the uninitiated, have some difficulty in believing.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. You say you find it difficult to believe! We do not ask for faith; all we demand of you is to investigate! How can I help believing in this ring? Yet this ring came from there!
SAHÁTOF. From there? What do you mean? From where?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. From the other world. Yes!
SAHÁTOF [smiling] That's very interesting—very interesting!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, supposing we admit that I'm a man carried away by an idea, as you think, and that I am deluding myself. Well, but what of Alexéy Vladímiritch Krougosvétlof—he is not just an ordinary man, but a distinguished professor, and yet he admits it to be a fact. And not he alone. What of Crookes? What of Wallace?
SAHÁTOF. But I don't deny anything. I only say it is very interesting. It would be interesting to know how Krougosvétlof explains it!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. He has a theory of his own. Could you come to-night?—he is sure to be here. First we shall have Grossman—you know, the famous thought-reader?
SAHÁTOF. Yes, I have heard of him but have never happened to meet him.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Then you must come! We shall first have Grossman, then Kaptchítch, and our mediumistic
135séance.… [To Theodore Ivánitch] Has the man returned from Kaptchítch?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Not yet, sir.
SAHÁTOF. Then how am I to know?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Never mind, come in any case! If Kaptchítch can't come we shall find our own medium. Márya Ignátievna is a medium—not such a good one as Kaptchítch, but still …
Tánya enters with plates for the presents, and stands listening.
SAHÁTOF [smiling] Oh yes, yes. But here is one puzzling point:—how is it that the mediums are always of the, so-called, educated class, such as Kaptchítch and Márya Ignátievna? If there were such a special force, would it not be met with also among the common people—the peasants?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Oh yes, and it is! That is very common. Even here in our own house we have a peasant whom we discovered to be a medium. A few days ago we called him in—a sofa had to be moved, during a séance—and we forgot all about him. In all probability he fell asleep. And, fancy, after our séance was over and Kaptchítch had come to again, we suddenly noticed mediumistic phenomena in another part of the room, near the peasant: the table gave a jerk and moved!
TÁNYA [aside] That was when I was getting out from under it!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. It is quite evident he also is a medium. Especially as he is very like Home in appearance. You remember Home—a fair-haired naïve sort of fellow?
SAHÁTOF [shrugging his shoulders] Dear me, this is very interesting, you know. I think you should try him.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. So we will! And he is not alone; there are thousands of mediums, only we do not know them. Why, only a short time ago a bedridden old woman moved a brick wall!
SAHÁTOF. Moved a brick … a brick wall?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes, yes. She was lying in bed, and did not even know she was a medium. She just leaned her arm against the wall, and the wall moved!
SAHÁTOF. And did not cave in?
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. And did not cave in.
SAHÁTOF. Very strange! Well then, I'll come this evening.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Pray do. We shall have a séance in any case. [Sahátof puts on his outdoor things, Leoníd Fyódoritch sees him to the door].
PORTER [to Tánya] Do tell your mistress! Am I to spend the night here?
TÁNYA. Wait a little; she's going to drive out with the young lady, so she'll soon be coming downstairs. [Exit].
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH [comes up to the Peasants, who bow and offer him their presents] That's not necessary!
FIRST PEASANT [smiling] Oh, but this-here is our first duty, it is! It's also the Commune's orders that we should do it!
SECOND PEASANT. That's always been the proper way.
THIRD PEASANT. Say no more about it! 'Cause as we are much satisfied.… As our parents, let's say, served, let's say, your parents, so we would like the same with all our hearts … and not just anyhow! [Bows].
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. But what is it about? What do you want?
FIRST PEASANT. It's to your honor we've come …
Enter Petrístchef briskly, in fur-lined overcoat.
PETRÍSTCHEF. Is Vasíly Leoníditch awake yet? [Seeing Leoníd Fyódoritch, bows, moving only his head].
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. You have come to see my son?
PETRÍSTCHEF. I? Yes, just to see Vovo for a moment.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Step in, step in.
Petrístchef takes off his overcoat and walks in briskly. Exit.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH [to Peasants] Well, what is it you want?
SECOND PEASANT. Please accept our presents!
FIRST PEASANT [smiling] That's to say, the peasants' offerings.
THIRD PEASANT. Say no more about it; what's the good? We wish you the same as if you were our own father! Say no more about it!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. All right. Here, Theodore, take these.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH [to Peasants] Give them here. [Takes the presents].
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, what is the business?
FIRST PEASANT. We've come to your honor …
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. I see you have; but what do you want?
FIRST PEASANT. It's about making a move towards completing the sale of the land. It comes to this …
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Do you mean to buy the land?
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. It comes to this … I mean the buying of the property of the land. The Commune has given us, let's say, the power of atturning, to enter, let's say, as is lawful, through the Government bank, with a stamp for the lawful amount.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. You mean that you want to buy the land through the land-bank.
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. Just as you offered it to us last year. It comes to this, then, the whole sum in full for the buying of the property of the land is 32,864 rubles.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. That's all right, but how about paying up?
FIRST PEASANT. As to the payment, the Commune offers just as it was said last year—to pay in 'stalments, and your receipt of the ready money by lawful regulations, 4000 rubles in full.
SECOND PEASANT. Take 4000 now, and wait for the rest of the money.
THIRD PEASANT [unwrapping a parcel of money] And about this be quite easy. We should pawn our own selves rather than do such a thing just anyhow say, but in this way, let's say, as it ought to be done.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. But did I not write and tell you that I should not agree to it unless you brought the whole sum?
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. It would be more agreeable, but it is not in our possibilities, I mean.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well then, the thing can't be done!
FIRST PEASANT. The Commune, for example, relied its hopes on that, that you made the offer last year to sell it in easy 'stalments …
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. That was last year. I would have agreed to it then, but now I can't.
SECOND PEASANT. But how's that? We've been depending on your promise—we've got the papers ready and have collected the money!
THIRD PEASANT. Be merciful, master! We're short of land; we'll say nothing about cattle, but even a hen, let's say, we've no room to keep. [Bows] Don't wrong us, master! [Bows].
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Of course it's quite true, that I agreed last year to let you have the land for payment by installments, but now circumstances are such that it would be inconvenient.
SECOND PEASANT. Without this land we cannot live!
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. Without land our lives must grow weaker and come to a decline.
THIRD PEASANT [bowing] Master, we have so little land, let's not talk about the cattle, but even a chicken, let's say, we've no room for. Master, be merciful, accept the money, master!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH [examining the document] I quite understand,
139and should like to help you. Wait a little; I will give you an answer in half-an-hour.… Theodore, say I am engaged and am not to be disturbed.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Yes, sir. [Exit Leoníd Fyódoritch].
The Peasants look dejected.
SECOND PEASANT. Here's a go! “Give me the whole sum,” he says. And where are we to get it from?
FIRST PEASANT. If he had not given us hopes, for example. As it is we felt quite insured it would be as was said last year.
THIRD PEASANT. Oh Lord! and I had begun unwrapping the money. [Begins wrapping up the bundle of bank-notes again] What are we to do now?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. What is your business, then?
FIRST PEASANT. Our business, respected sir, depends in this. Last year he made us the offer of our buying the land in 'stalments. The Commune entered upon these terms and gave us the powers of atturning, and now d'you see he makes the offering that we should pay the whole in full! And as it turns out, the business is no ways convenient for us.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. What is the whole sum?
FIRST PEASANT. The whole sum in readiness is 4000 rubles, you see.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Well, what of that? Make an effort and collect more.
FIRST PEASANT. Such as it is, it was collected with much effort. We have, so to say, in this sense, not got ammunition enough.
SECOND PEASANT. You can't get blood out of a stone.
THIRD PEASANT. We'd be glad with all our hearts, but we have swept even this together, as you might say, with a broom.
Vasíly Leoníditch and Petrístchef appear in the doorway both smoking cigarettes.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. I have told you already I'll do my
140best, so of course I will do all that is possible! Eh, what?
PETRÍSTCHEF. You must just understand that if you do not get it, the devil only knows what a mess we shall be in!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. But I've already said I'll do my best, and so I will. Eh, what?
PETRÍSTCHEF. Nothing. I only say, get some at any
I will wait.
Exit into Vasíly Leoníditch's room, closing door.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [waving his arm] It's a deuce of a go! [The Peasants bow].
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [looking at Porter, to Theodore Ivánitch] Why don't you attend to this fellow from Bourdier? He hasn't come to take lodgings with us, has he? Just look, he is asleep! Eh, what?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. The note he brought has been sent in, and he has been told to wait until Anna Pávlovna comes down.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [looks at Peasants and notices the money] And what is this? Money? For whom? Is it for us? [To Theodore Ivánitch] Who are they?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. They are peasants from Koursk. They are buying land.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Has it been sold them?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. No, they have not yet come to any agreement. They are too stingy.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Eh? Well, we must try and persuade them. [To the Peasants] Here, I say, are you buying land? Eh?
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. We have made an offering as how we should like to acquire the possession of the land.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Then you should not be so stingy, you know. Just let me tell you how necessary land is to peasants! Eh, what? It's very necessary, isn't it?
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. The land appears as the very first and foremost necessity to a peasant. That's just it.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Then why be so stingy? Just you think what land is! Why, one can sow wheat on it in rows! I tell you, you could get eighty bushels of wheat, at a ruble and a half a bushel—that would be 120 rubles. Eh, what? Or else mint! I tell you, you could collar 400 rubles off an acre by sowing mint!
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. All sorts of producks one could put into action if one had the right understanding.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Mint! Decidedly mint! I have learned about it, you know. It's all printed in books. I can show them you. Eh, what?
FIRST PEASANT. That's just it, all concerns are clearer to you through your books. That's learnedness, of course.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Then pay up and don't be
[To Theodore Ivánitch] Where's papa?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. He gave orders not to be disturbed just now.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Oh, I suppose he's consulting a spirit whether to sell the land or not? Eh, what?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I can't say. All I know is that he went away undecided about it.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. What d'you think, Theodore , is he flush of cash? Eh, what?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I don't know. I hardly think
But what does it matter to you? You drew a good sum not more than a week ago.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. But didn't I pay for those dogs? And now, you know, there's our new Society, and Petrístchef has been chosen, and I had borrowed money from Petrístchef and must pay the subscription both for him and for myself. Eh, what?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. And what is this new Society? A Cycling Club?
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. No. Just let me tell you. It is quite a new Society. It is a very serious Society, you know. And who do you think is President? Eh, what?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. What's the object of this new Society?
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. It is a “Society to Promote the Breeding of Pure-bred Russian Hounds.” Eh, what? And I'll tell you, they're having the first meeting and a lunch, to-day. And I've no money. I'll go to him and have a try! [Exit through study door].
FIRST PEASANT [to Theodore Ivánitch] And who might he be, respected sir?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH [smiles] The young master.
THIRD PEASANT. The heir, so to say. Oh Lord! [puts away the money] I'd better hide it meanwhile.
FIRST PEASANT. And we were told he was in military service, in the cav'rely, for example.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. No, as an only son he is exempt from military service.
THIRD PEASANT. Left for to keep his parents, so to say! That's right!
SECOND PEASANT [shaking his head] He's the right sort. He'll feed them finely!
THIRD PEASANT. Oh Lord!
Enter Vasíly Leoníditch followed by Leoníd Fyódoritch.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. That's always the way. It's really surprising! First I'm asked why I have no occupation, and now when I have found a field and am occupied, when a Society with serious and noble aims has been founded, I can't even have 300 rubles to go on with!…
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. I tell you I can't do it, and I can't! I haven't got it.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Why, you have just sold some land.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. In the first place I have not sold it! And above all, do leave me in peace! Weren't you told I was engaged? [Exit, slamming door].
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I told you this was not the right moment.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Well, I say! Here's a position to be in! I'll go and see mama—that's my only hope. He's going crazy over his spiritualism and forgets everything else. [Ges upstairs].
Theodore Ivánitch takes newspaper and is just going to sit down, when Betsy and Márya Konstantínovna, followed by Gregory, come down the stairs.
BETSY. Is the carriage ready?
GREGORY. Just coming to the door.
BETSY [to Márya Konstantínovna] Come along, come along, I know it is he.
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. Which he?
BETSY. You know very well whom I mean—Petrístchef, of course.
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. But where is he?
BETSY. Sitting in Vovo's room. You'll see!
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. And suppose it is not he? [The Peasants and Porter bow].
BETSY [to Porter] You brought a dress from Bourdier's?
PORTER. Yes, Miss. May I go?
BETSY. Well, I don't know. Ask my mother.
PORTER. I don't know whose it is, Miss; I was ordered to bring it here and receive the money.
BETSY. Well then, wait.
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. Is it still that costume for the charade?
BETSY. Yes, a charming costume. But mama won't take it or pay for it.
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. But why not?
BETSY. You'd better ask mama. She doesn't grudge Vovo 500 rubles for his dogs, but 100 is too much for a dress. I can't act dressed like a scarecrow. [Pointing to Peasants] And who are these?
GREGORY. Peasants who have come to buy some land or other.
BETSY. And I thought they were the beaters. Are you not beaters?
FIRST PEASANT. No, no, lady. We have come to see Leoníd Fyódoritch about the signing into our possession of the title-deeds to some land.
BETSY. Then how is it? Vovo was expecting some beaters who were to come to-day. Are you sure you are not the beaters? [The Peasants are silent] How stupid they are! [Ges to Vasíly Leoníditch's door] Vovo? [Laughs].
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. But we met him just now upstairs!
BETSY. Why need you remember that? Vovo, are you there?
PETRÍSTCHEF. Vovo is not here, but I am prepared to fulfill on his behalf anything that may be required. How do you do? How do you do, Márya Konstantínovna? [Shakes hands long and violently with Betsy, and then with Márya Konstantínovna].
SECOND PEASANT. See, it's as if he were pumping water!
BETSY. You can't replace him,—still you're better than nobody. [Laughs] What are these affairs of yours with Vovo?
PETRÍSTCHEF. What affairs? Our affairs are fie-nancial, that is, our business is fie! It's also nancial, and besides it is financial.
BETSY. What does nancial mean?
PETRÍSTCHEF. What a question! It means nothing, that's just the point.
BETSY. No, no, you have missed fire. [Laughs].
PETRÍSTCHEF. One can't always hit the mark, you know. It's something like a lottery. Blanks and blanks again, and at last you win! [Theodore Ivánitch goes into the study].
BETSY. Well, this was blank then; but tell me, were you at the Mergásofs' last night?
PETRÍSTCHEF. Not exactly at the Mère Gásof's, but rather at the Père Gásof's, or better still, at the Fils Gásof's.
BETSY. You can't do without puns. It's an illness. And were the Gypsies there? [Laughs].
PETRÍSTCHEF [sings] “On their aprons silken threads, little birds with golden heads!” …
BETSY. Happy mortals! And we were yawning at Fofo's.
PETRÍSTCHEF [continues to sing] “And she promised and she swore, She would ope' her … her … her …” how does it go on, Márya Konstantínovna?
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. “Closet door.”
PETRÍSTCHEF. How? What? How, Márya Konstantínovna?
BETSY. Cessez, vous devenez impossible!
PETRÍSTCHEF. J'ai cessé, j'ai bébé, j'ai dédé.…
BETSY. I see the only way to rid ourselves of your wit is to make you sing! Let us go into Vovo's room, his guitar is there. Come, Márya Konstantínovna, come! [Exeunt Betsy, Márya Konstantínovna, and Petrístchef].
FIRST PEASANT. Who be they?
GREGORY. One is our young lady, the other is a girl who teaches her music.
FIRST PEASANT. Administrates learning, so to say. And ain't she smart? A reg'lar picture!
SECOND PEASANT. Why don't they marry her? She is old enough, I should say.
GREGORY. Do you think it's the same as among you peasants,—marry at fifteen?
FIRST PEASANT. And that man, for example, is he also in the musitional line?
GREGORY [mimicking him] “Musitional” indeed! You don't understand anything!
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. And stupidity, one might say, is our ignorance.
THIRD PEASANT. Oh Lord! [Gypsy songs and guitar accompaniment are heard from Vasíly Leoníditch's room].
Enter Simon, followed by Tánya, who watches the meeting between father and son.
GREGORY [to Simon] What do you want?
SIMON. I have been to Mr. Kaptchítch.
GREGORY. Well, and what's the answer?
SIMON. He sent word he couldn't possibly come to-night.
GREGORY. All right, I'll let them know. [Exit].
SIMON [to his father] How d'you do, father! My respects to Daddy Efím and Daddy Mítry! How are all at home?
SECOND PEASANT. Very well, Simon.
FIRST PEASANT. How d'you do, lad?
THIRD PEASANT. How d'you do, sonny?
SIMON [smiles] Well, come along, father, and have some tea.
SECOND PEASANT. Wait till we've finished our business. Don't you see we are not ready yet?
SIMON. Well, I'll wait for you by the porch. [Wishes to go away].
TÁNYA [running after him] I say, why didn't you tell him anything?
SIMON. How could I before all those people? Give me time, I'll tell him over our tea. [Exit].
Theodore Ivánitch enters and sits down by the window.
FIRST PEASANT. Respected sir, how's our business proceeding?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Wait a bit, he'll be out presently, he's just finishing.
TÁNYA [to Theodore Ivánitch] And how do you know, Theodore Ivánitch, he is finishing?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I know that when he has finished questioning, he reads the question and answer aloud.
TÁNYA. Can one really talk with spirits by means of a saucer?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. It seems so.
TÁNYA. But supposing they tell him to sign, will he sign?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Of course he will.
TÁNYA. But they do not speak with words?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Oh, yes. By means of the alphabet. He notices at which letter the saucer stops.
TÁNYA. Yes, but at a si-ance?…
Enter Leoníd Fyódoritch.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, friends, I can't do it! I should be very glad to, but it is quite impossible. If it were for ready money it would be a different matter.
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. What more could any one desire? But the people are so inpennycuous—it is quite impossible!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, I can't do it, I really can't. Here is your document; I can't sign it.
THIRD PEASANT. Show some pity, master; be merciful!
SECOND PEASANT. How can you act so? It is doing us a wrong.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Nothing wrong about it, friends. I offered it you in summer, but then you did not agree; and now I can't agree to it.
THIRD PEASANT. Master, be merciful! How are we to get along? We have so little land. We'll say nothing about the cattle; a hen, let's say, there's no room to let a hen run about.
Leoníd Fyódoritch goes up to the door and stops. Enter, descending the staircase, Anna Pávlovna and doctor, followed by Vasíly Leoníditch, who is in a merry and playful mood and is putting some bank-notes into his purse.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA [tightly laced, and wearing a bonnet] Then I am to take it?
DOCTOR. If the symptoms recur you must certainly take it, but above all, you must behave better. How can you expect thick syrup to pass through a thin little hair tube, especially when we squeeze the tube? It's impossible; and so it is with the biliary duct. It's simple enough.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. All right, all right!
DOCTOR. Yes, “All right, all right,” and you go on in the same old way. It won't do, madam—it won't do. Well, good-bye!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. No, not good-bye, only au revoir! For I still expect you to-night. I shall not be able to make up my mind without you.
DOCTOR. All right, if I have time I'll pop in. [Exit].
ANNA PÁVLOVNA [noticing the Peasants] What's this? What? What people are these? [Peasants bow].
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. These are peasants from Koursk, come to see Leoníd Fyódoritch about the sale of some land.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. I see they are peasants, but who let them in?
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Leoníd Fyódoritch gave the order. He has just been speaking to them about the sale of the land.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. What sale? There is no need to sell any. But above all, how can one let in people from the street into the house? One can't let people in from the street! One can't let people into the house who have spent the night heaven knows where!… [Getting more and more excited] I daresay every fold of their clothes is full of microbes—of scarlet-fever microbes, of smallpox microbes, of diphtheria microbes! Why, they are from Koursk Government, where there is an epidemic of diphtheria … Doctor! Doctor! Call the doctor back!
Leoníd Fyódoritch goes into his room and shuts the door. Gregory goes to recall the Doctor.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [smokes at the Peasants] Never mind,
149mama; if you like I'll fumigate them so that all the microbes will go to pot! Eh, what?
Anna Pávlovna remains severely silent, awaiting the Doctor's return.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [to Peasants] And do you fatten pigs? There's a first-rate business!
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. We do go in for the pig-fattening line now and then.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. This kind?… [Grunts like a pig].
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Vovo, Vovo, leave off!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Isn't it like? Eh, what?
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. It's very resemblant.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Vovo, leave off, I tell you!
SECOND PEASANT. What's it all about?
THIRD PEASANT. I said, we'd better go to some lodging meanwhile!
Enter Doctor and Gregory.
DOCTOR. What's the matter? What's happened?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Why, you're always saying I must not get excited. Now, how is it possible to keep calm? I do not see my own sister for two months, and am careful about any doubtful visitor—and here are people from Koursk, straight from Koursk, where there is an epidemic of diphtheria, right in my house!
DOCTOR. These good fellows you mean, I suppose?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Of course. Straight from a diphtheric place!
DOCTOR. Well, of course, if they come from an infected place it is rash; but still there is no reason to excite yourself so much about it.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. But don't you yourself advise carefulness?
DOCTOR. Of course, of course. Still, why excite yourself?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. How can I help it? Now we shall have to have the house completely disinfected.
DOCTOR. Oh no! Why completely? That would cost
150300 rubles or more. I'll arrange it cheaply and well for you. Take, to a large bottle of water …
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Boiled?
DOCTOR. It's all the same. Boiled would be better. To one bottle of water take a tablespoon of salicylic acid, and have everything they have come in contact with washed with the solution. As to the fellows themselves, they must be off, of course. That's all. Then you're quite safe. And it would do no harm to sprinkle some of the same solution through a spray—two or three tumblers—you'll see how well it will act. No danger whatever!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Tánya! Where is Tánya?
TÁNYA. Did you call, M'm?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. You know that big bottle in my dressing-room?
TÁNYA. Out of which we sprinkled the laundress yesterday?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Well, of course! What other bottle could I mean? Well then, take that bottle and first wash with soap the place where they have been standing, and then with …
TÁNYA. Yes, M'm; I know how.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. And then take the spray … However, I had better do that myself when I get back.
DOCTOR. Well then, do so, and don't be afraid! Well,
au revoir till this evening. [Exit].
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. And they must be off! Not a trace of them must remain! Get out, get out! Go—what are you looking at?
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. It's because of our stupidity, as we were instructed …
GREGORY [pushes the Peasants out] There, there; be off!
SECOND PEASANT. Let me have my handkerchief back! [The handkerchief in which the presents were wrapped].
THIRD PEASANT. Oh Lord, oh Lord! didn't I say—some lodging-house meanwhile!
Gregory pushes him out. Exeunt Peasants.
PORTER [who has repeatedly tried to say something] Will there be any answer?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Ah, from Bourdier? [Excitedly] None! None! You can take it back. I told her I never ordered such a costume, and I will not allow my daughter to wear it!
PORTER. I know nothing about it. I was sent …
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Go, go, take it back! I will call myself about it!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [solemnly] Sir Messenger from Bourdier, depart!
PORTER. I might have been told that long ago. I have sat here nearly five hours!
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Ambassador from Bourdier, begone!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Cease, please!
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Betsy! Where is she? I always have to wait for her.
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH [shouting at the top of his voice] Betsy! Petrístchef! Come quick, quick, quick! Eh? What?
Enter Petrístchef, Betsy, and Márya Konstantínovna.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. You always keep one waiting!
BETSY. On the contrary, I was waiting for you!
Petrístchef bows with his head only, then kisses Anna Pávlovna's hand.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. How d'you do! [To Betsy] You always have an answer ready!
BETSY. If you are upset, mama, I had better not go.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Are we going or not?
BETSY. Well, let us go; it can't be helped.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Did you see the man from Bourdier?
BETSY. Yes, and I was very glad. I ordered the costume, and am going to wear it when it is paid for.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. I am not going to pay for a costume that is indecent!
BETSY. Why has it become indecent? First it was decent, and now you have a fit of prudery.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Not prudery at all! If the bodice were completely altered, then it would do.
BETSY. Mama, that is quite impossible.
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Well, get dressed. [They sit down. Gregory puts on their over-shoes for them].
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Márya Konstantínovna, do you notice a vacuum in the hall?
MÁRYA KONSTANTÍNOVNA. What is it? [Laughs in anticipation].
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Bourdier's man has gone! Eh, what? Good, eh? [Laughs loudly].
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Well, let us go. [Ges out of the door, but returns at once] Tánya!
TÁNYA. Yes, M'm?
ANNA PÁVLOVNA. Don't let Frisk catch cold while I am away. If she wants to be let out, put on her little yellow cloak. She is not quite well to-day.
TÁNYA. Yes, M'm.
Exeunt Anna Pávlovna, Betsy, and Gregory.
PETRÍSTCHEF. Well, have you got it?
VASÍLY LEONÍDITCH. Not without trouble, I can tell you! First I rushed at the gov'nor; he began to bellow and turned me out. Off to the mater—I got it out of her. It's here! [Slaps his breast pocket] If once I make up my mind, there's no getting away from me. I have a deadly grip! Eh, what? And d'you know, my wolf-hounds are coming to-day.
Petrístchef and Vasíly Leoníditch put on their outdoor things and go out. Tánya follows.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH [alone] Yes, nothing but unpleasantness. How is it they can't live in peace? But one must say the new generation are not—the thing. And
153as to the women's dominion!… Why, Leoníd Fyódoritch just now was going to put in a word, but seeing what a frenzy she was in—slammed the door behind him. He is a wonderfully kindhearted man. Yes, wonderfully kind. What's this? Here's Tánya bringing them back again!
TÁNYA. Come in, come in, grand-dads, never mind!
Enter Tánya and the Peasants.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Why have you brought them back?
TÁNYA. Well, Theodore Ivánitch, we must do something about their business. I shall have to wash the place anyhow.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. But the business will not come off, I see that already.
FIRST PEASANT. How could we best put our affair into action, respected sir? Your reverence might take a little trouble over it, and we should give you full thankings from the Commune for your trouble.
THIRD PEASANT. Do try, honey! We can't live! We have so little land. Talk of cattle—why, we have no room to keep a hen! [They bow].
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. I am sorry for you, friends, but I can't think of any way to help you. I understand your case very well, but he has refused. So what can one do? Besides, the lady is also against it. Well, give me your papers—I'll try and see what I can do, but I hardly hope to succeed. [Exit].
Tánya and the three Peasants sigh.
TÁNYA. But tell me, grand-dads, what is it that is wanted?
FIRST PEASANT. Why, only that he should put his signature to our document.
TÁNYA. That the master should sign? Is that all?
FIRST PEASANT. Yes, only lay his signature on the deed and take the money, and there would be an end of the matter.
THIRD PEASANT. He only has to write and sign, as the peasants, let's say, desire, so, let's say, I also desire. That's the whole affair—if he'd only take it and sign it, it's all done.
TÁNYA [considering] He need only sign the paper and it's done?
FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. The whole matter is in dependence on that, and nothing else. Let him sign, and we ask no more.
TÁNYA. Just wait and see what Theodore Ivánitch will say. If he cannot persuade the master, I'll try something.
FIRST PEASANT. Get round him, will you?
TÁNYA. I'll try.
THIRD PEASANT. Aye, the lass is going to bestir herself. Only get the thing settled, and the Commune will bind itself to keep you all your life. See there, now!
FIRST PEASANT. If the affair can be put into action, truly we might put her in a gold frame.
SECOND PEASANT. That goes without saying!
TÁNYA. I can't promise for certain, but as the saying is: “An attempt is no sin, if you try …”
FIRST PEASANT. “You may win.” That's just so.
Enter Theodore Ivánitch.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. No, friends, it's no go! He has not done it, and he won't do it. Here, take your document. You may go.
FIRST PEASANT [gives Tánya the paper] Then it's on you we pin all our reliance, for example.
TÁNYA. Yes, yes! You go into the street, and I'll run out to you in a minute and have a word with you.
TÁNYA. Theodore Ivánitch, dear Theodore Ivánitch, ask the master to come out and speak to me for a moment. I have something to say to him.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. What next?
TÁNYA. I must, Theodore Ivánitch. Ask him, do; there's nothing wrong about it, on my sacred word.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. But what do you want with him?
TÁNYA. That's a little secret. I will tell you later on, only ask him.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH [smiling] I can't think what you are up to! All right, I'll go and ask him. [Exit].
TÁNYA. I'll do it! Didn't he say himself that there is that power in Simon? And I know how to manage. No one found me out that time, and now I'll teach Simon what to do. If it doesn't succeed it's no great matter. After all it's not a sin.
Enter Leoníd Fyódoritch followed by Theodore Ivánitch.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH [smiling] Is this the petitioner? Well, what is your business?
TÁNYA. It's a little secret, Leoníd Fyódoritch; let me tell it you alone.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. What is it? Theodore, leave us for a minute.
Exit Theodore Ivánitch.
TÁNYA. As I have grown up and lived in your house, Leoníd Fyódoritch, and as I am very grateful to you for everything, I shall open my heart to you as to a father. Simon, who is living in your house, wants to marry me.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. So that's it!
TÁNYA. I open my heart to you as to a father! I have no one to advise me, being an orphan.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, and why not? He seems a nice lad.
TÁNYA. Yes, that's true. He would be all right; there is only one thing I have my doubts about. It's something about him that I have noticed and can't make out … perhaps it is something bad.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. What is it? Does he drink?
TÁNYA. God forbid! But since I know that there is such a thing as spiritalism …
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Ah, you know that?
TÁNYA. Of course! I understand it very well. Some, of course, through ignorance, don't understand it.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Well, what then?
TÁNYA. I am very much afraid for Simon. It does happen to him.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. What happens to him?
TÁNYA. Something of a kind like spiritalism. You ask any of the servants. As soon as he gets drowsy at the table, the table begins to tremble, and creak like that:
tuke, … tuke! All the servants have heard it.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Why, it's the very thing I was saying to Sergéy Ivánitch this morning! Yes?…
TÁNYA. Or else … when was it?… Oh yes, last Wednesday. We sat down to dinner, and the spoon just jumps into his hand of itself!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Ah, that is interesting! Jumps into his hand? When he was drowsing?
TÁNYA. That I didn't notice. I think he was, though.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. Yes?…
TÁNYA. And that's what I'm afraid of, and what I wanted to ask you about. May not some harm come of it? To live one's life together, and him having such a thing in him!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH [smiling] No, you need not be afraid, there is nothing bad in that. It only proves him to be a
medium—simply a medium. I knew him to be a medium before this.
TÁNYA. So that's what it is! And I was afraid!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. No, there's nothing to be afraid of. [Aside]. That's capital! Kaptchítch can't come, so we will test him to-night.… [To Tánya] No, my dear, don't be afraid, he will be a good husband and … that is only a kind of special power, and every one has it, only in some it is weaker and in others stronger.
TÁNYA. Thank you, sir. Now I shan't think any more
157about it; but I was so frightened.… What a thing it is, our want of education!
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. No, no, don't be frightened… Theodore!
Enter Theodore Ivánitch.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. I am going out now. Get everything ready for to-night's séance.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. But Mr. Kaptchítch is not coming.
LEONÍD FYÓDORITCH. That does not matter. [Puts on overcoat] We shall have a trial séance with our own medium. [Exit. Theodore Ivánitch goes out with him].
TÁNYA [alone] He believes it! He believes it! [Shrieks and jumps with joy] He really believes it! Isn't it wonderful! [Shrieks] Now I'll do it, if only Simon has pluck for it!
Theodore Ivánitch returns.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Well, have you told him your secret?
TÁNYA. I'll tell you too, only later on.… But I have a favor to ask of you too, Theodore Ivánitch.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Yes? What is it?
TÁNYA [shyly] You have been a second father to me, and I will open my heart before you as before God.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Don't beat about the bush, but come straight to the point.
TÁNYA. The point is … well, the point is, that Simon wants to marry me.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Is that it? I thought I noticed …
TÁNYA. Well, why should I hide it? I am an orphan, and you know yourself how matters are in these town establishments. Every one comes bothering; there's that Gregory Miháylitch, for instance, he gives me no peace. And also that other one … you know. They think I have no soul, and am only here for their amusement.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. Good girl, that's right! Well, what then?
TÁNYA. Well, Simon wrote to his father; and he, his
158father, sees me to-day, and says: “He's spoiled”—he means his son. Theodore Ivánitch [bows], take the place of a father to me, speak to the old man,—to Simon's father! I could take them into the kitchen, and you might come in and speak to the old man!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH [smiling] Then I am to turn match-maker—am I? Well, I can do that.
TÁNYA. Theodore Ivánitch, dearest, be a father to me, and I'll pray for you all my life long.
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. All right, all right, I'll come later on. Haven't I promised? [Takes up newspaper].
TÁNYA. You are a second father to me!
THEODORE IVÁNITCH. All right, all right.
TÁNYA. Then I'll rely on you. [Exit].
THEODORE IVÁNITCH [alone, shaking his head] A good affectionate girl. To think that so many like her perish! Get but once into trouble and she'll go from hand to hand until she sinks into the mire, and can never be found again! There was that dear little Nataly. She, too, was a good girl, reared and cared for by a mother. [Takes up paper] Well, let's see what tricks Ferdinand is up to in Bulgaria.