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Alle Rechte vorbehalten.
Es ist ohne vorherige schriftliche Erlaubnis nicht gestattet, dieses Werk im Ganzen oder in Teilen zu vervielfältigen oder zu veröffentlichen.
NICHOLAS IVANOFF, perpetual member of the Council of Peasant Affairs
ANNA, his wife. Nee Sarah Abramson
MATTHEW SHABELSKI, a count, uncle of Ivanoff
PAUL LEBEDIEFF, President of the Board of the Zemstvo
ZINAIDA, his wife
SASHA, their daughter, twenty years old
LVOFF, a young government doctor
MARTHA BABAKINA, a young widow, owner of an estate and daughter of a rich merchant
KOSICH, an exciseman
MICHAEL BORKIN, a distant relative of Ivanoff, and manager of his estate
AVDOTIA NAZAROVNA, an old woman
GEORGE, lives with the Lebedieffs
PETER, a servant of Ivanoff
GABRIEL, a servant of Lebedieff
The play takes place in one of the provinces of central Russia
The garden of IVANOFF'S country place. On the left is a terrace and the facade of the house. One window is open. Below the terrace is a broad semicircular lawn, from which paths lead to right and left into a garden. On the right are several garden benches and tables. A lamp is burning on one of the tables. It is evening. As the curtain rises sounds of the piano and violoncello are heard.
IVANOFF is sitting at a table reading.
BORKIN, in top-boots and carrying a gun, comes in from the rear of the garden. He is a little tipsy. As he sees IVANOFF he comes toward him on tiptoe, and when he comes opposite him he stops and points the gun at his face.
IVANOFF. [Catches sight of BORKIN. Shudders and jumps to his feet] Misha! What are you doing? You frightened me! I can't stand your stupid jokes when I am so nervous as this. And having frightened me, you laugh! [He sits down.]
BORKIN. [Laughing loudly] There, I am sorry, really. I won't do it again. Indeed I won't. [Take off his cap] How hot it is! Just think, my dear boy, I have covered twelve miles in the last three hours. I am worn out. Just feel how my heart is beating.
IVANOFF. [Goes on reading] Oh, very well. I shall feel it later!
BORKIN. No, feel it now. [He takes IVANOFF'S hand and presses it against his breast] Can you feel it thumping? That means that it is weak and that I may die suddenly at any moment. Would you be sorry if I died?
IVANOFF. I am reading now. I shall attend to you later.
BORKIN. No, seriously, would you be sorry if I died? Nicholas, would you be sorry if I died?
IVANOFF. Leave me alone!
BORKIN. Come, tell me if you would be sorry or not.
IVANOFF. I am sorry that you smell so of vodka, Misha, it is disgusting.
BORKIN. Do I smell of vodka? How strange! And yet, it is not so strange after all. I met the magistrate on the road, and I must admit that we did drink about eight glasses together. Strictly speaking, of course, drinking is very harmful. Listen, it is harmful, isn't it? Is it? Is it?
IVANOFF. This is unendurable! Let me warn you, Misha, that you are going too far.
BORKIN. Well, well, excuse me. Sit here by yourself then, for heaven's sake, if it amuses you. [Gets up and goes away] What extraordinary people one meets in the world. They won't even allow themselves to be spoken to. [He comes back] Oh, yes, I nearly forgot. Please let me have eighty-two roubles.
IVANOFF. Why do you want eighty-two roubles?
BORKIN. To pay the workmen to-morrow.
IVANOFF. I haven't the money.
BORKIN. Many thanks. [Angrily] So you haven't the money! And yet the workmen must be paid, mustn't they?
IVANOFF. I don't know. Wait till my salary comes in on the first of the month.
BORKIN. How is it possible to discuss anything with a man like you? Can't you understand that the workmen are coming to-morrow morning and not on the first of the month?
IVANOFF. How can I help it? I'll be hanged if I can do anything about it now. And what do you mean by this irritating way you have of pestering me whenever I am trying to read or write or——
BORKIN. Must the workmen be paid or not, I ask you? But, good gracious! What is the use of talking to you! [Waves his hand] Do you think because you own an estate you can command the whole world? With your two thousand acres and your empty pockets you are like a man who has a cellar full of wine and no corkscrew. I have sold the oats as they stand in the field. Yes, sir! And to-morrow I shall sell the rye and the carriage horses. [He stamps up and down] Do you think I am going to stand upon ceremony with you? Certainly not! I am not that kind of a man!
ANNA appears at the open window.
ANNA. Whose voice did I hear just now? Was it yours, Misha? Why are you stamping up and down?
BORKIN. Anybody who had anything to do with your Nicholas would stamp up and down.
ANNA. Listen, Misha! Please have some hay carried onto the croquet lawn.
BORKIN. [Waves his hand] Leave me alone, please!
ANNA. Oh, what manners! They are not becoming to you at all. If you want to be liked by women you must never let them see you when you are angry or obstinate. [To her husband] Nicholas, let us go and play on the lawn in the hay!
IVANOFF. Don't you know it is bad for you to stand at the open window, Annie? [Calls] Shut the window, Uncle!
[The window is shut from the inside.]
BORKIN. Don't forget that the interest on the money you owe Lebedieff must be paid in two days.
IVANOFF. I haven't forgotten it. I am going over to see Lebedieff today and shall ask him to wait.
[He looks at his watch.]
BORKIN. When are you going?
IVANOFF. At once.
BORKIN. Wait! Wait! Isn't this Sasha's birthday? So it is! The idea of my forgetting it. What a memory I have. [Jumps about] I shall go with you! [Sings] I shall go, I shall go! Nicholas, old man, you are the joy of my life. If you were not always so nervous and cross and gloomy, you and I could do great things together. I would do anything for you. Shall I marry Martha Babakina and give you half her fortune? That is, not half, either, but all—take it all!
IVANOFF. Enough of this nonsense!
BORKIN. No, seriously, shan't I marry Martha and halve the money with you? But no, why should I propose it? How can you understand? [Angrily] You say to me: "Stop talking nonsense!" You are a good man and a clever one, but you haven't any red blood in your veins or any—well, enthusiasm. Why, if you wanted to, you and I could cut a dash together that would shame the devil himself. If you were a normal man instead of a morbid hypochondriac we would have a million in a year. For instance, if I had twenty-three hundred roubles now I could make twenty thousand in two weeks. You don't believe me? You think it is all nonsense? No, it isn't nonsense. Give me twenty-three hundred roubles and let me try. Ofsianoff is selling a strip of land across the river for that price. If we buy this, both banks will be ours, and we shall have the right to build a dam across the river. Isn't that so? We can say that we intend to build a mill, and when the people on the river below us hear that we mean to dam the river they will, of course, object violently and we shall say: If you don't want a dam here you will have to pay to get us away. Do you see the result? The factory would give us five thousand roubles, Korolkoff three thousand, the monastery five thousand more—
IVANOFF. All that is simply idiotic, Misha. If you don't want me to lose my temper you must keep your schemes to yourself.
BORKIN. [Sits down at the table] Of course! I knew how it would be! You never will act for yourself, and you tie my hands so that I am helpless.
Enter SHABELSKI and LVOFF.
SHABELSKI. The only difference between lawyers and doctors is that lawyers simply rob you, whereas doctors both rob you and kill you. I am not referring to any one present. [Sits down on the bench] They are all frauds and swindlers. Perhaps in Arcadia you might find an exception to the general rule and yet—I have treated thousands of sick people myself in my life, and I have never met a doctor who did not seem to me to be an unmistakable scoundrel.
BORKIN. [To IVANOFF] Yes, you tie my hands and never do anything for yourself, and that is why you have no money.
SHABELSKI. As I said before, I am not referring to any one here at present; there may be exceptions though, after all—[He yawns.]
IVANOFF. [Shuts his book] What have you to tell me, doctor?
LVOFF. [Looks toward the window] Exactly what I said this morning: she must go to the Crimea at once. [Walks up and down.]
SHABELSKI. [Bursts out laughing] To the Crimea! Why don't you and I set up as doctors, Misha? Then, if some Madame Angot or Ophelia finds the world tiresome and begins to cough and be consumptive, all we shall have to do will be to write out a prescription according to the laws of medicine: that is, first, we shall order her a young doctor, and then a journey to the Crimea. There some fascinating young Tartar——
IVANOFF. [Interrupting] Oh, don't be coarse! [To LVOFF] It takes money to go to the Crimea, and even if I could afford it, you know she has refused to go.
LVOFF. Yes, she has. [A pause.]
BORKIN. Look here, doctor, is Anna really so ill that she absolutely must go to the Crimea?
LVOFF. [Looking toward the window] Yes, she has consumption.
BORKIN. Whew! How sad! I have seen in her face for some time that she could not last much longer.
LVOFF. Can't you speak quietly? She can hear everything you say. [A pause.]
BORKIN. [Sighing] The life of man is like a flower, blooming so gaily in a field. Then, along comes a goat, he eats it, and the flower is gone!
SHABELSKI. Oh, nonsense, nonsense. [Yawning] Everything is a fraud and a swindle. [A pause.]
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