The Cause of It All. A Play in Two Acts - Leo Tolstoy - ebook

The Cause of It All. A Play in Two Acts ebook

Leo Tolstoy

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Opis

Alcoholism then and now caused endless quarrels, domestic violence, senseless violence, disintegration of families, and a decrease in the life expectancy of men. So, we see that Tolstoy’s message is deeply appropriate, and his strategy to convey this tale of morality for most people was to make it simple, short, with an emphasis on the destructive effect of alcohol. This is truly a moral story – and that’s good because it solves a real problem that destroys the structure of society.

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Liczba stron: 22




Contents

CHARACTERS

ACT I

ACT II

CHARACTERS

AKULÍNA. An old woman of seventy, brisk, dignified, old-fashioned.

MICHAEL. Her son, thirty-five years old, passionate, self-satisfied, vain and strong.

MARTHA. Her daughter-in-law, a grumbler, speaks much and rapidly.

PARÁSHKA. Ten years old, daughter of Martha and Michael.

TARÁS. The village elder’s assistant, speaks slowly and gives himself airs.

A TRAMP. Forty years old, restless, thin, speaks impressively; when drunk is particularly free and easy.

IGNÁT. Forty years old, a buffoon, merry and stupid.

THE CAUSE OF IT ALL

ACT I

Autumn. A peasant’s hut, with a small room partitioned off. Akulína sits spinning; Martha the housewife is kneading bread; little Paráshka is rocking a cradle.

MARTHA. Oh dear, my heart feels heavy! I know it means trouble; there’s nothing to keep him there. It will again be like the other day, when he went to town to sell the firewood and drank nearly half of it. And he blames me for everything.

AKULÍNA. Why look for trouble? It is still early, and the town is a long way off. For the present...

MARTHA. What do you mean by early? Akímych is back already. He started after Michael but Michael’s not back yet! It’s worry worry all day long; that’s all the pleasure one gets.

AKULÍNA. Akímych took his load straight to a customer; but our man took his to sell at the market.

MARTHA. If he were alone I shouldn’t worry, but Ignát is with him; and when he’s with that lousy hound (God forgive me!), he’s sure to get drunk. Early and late one toils and moils. Everything is on our shoulders! If one only got anything by it! But no! hustling about all day long is all the pleasure one gets.

Door opens and Tarás enters with a ragged Tramp.

TARÁS. Good day to you! I’ve brought a man who wants a night’s lodging.

TRAMP [bows] My respects to you.

MARTHA. Why do you bring them to us so often? We put up a tramp last Wednesday night; you always bring them to us. You should make Stepanída put them up; there are no children there. It’s more than I can do to look after my own family, and you always bring these people to us.

TARÁS. Everyone in turn has to put them up.

MARTHA. It’s all very well to say “everyone in turn,” but I have children, and besides, the master is not at home to-day.

TARÁS. Never mind, let the fellow sleep here to-night; he’ll not wear out the place he lies on.

AKULÍNA [to Tramp] Come in and sit down, and be our guest.

TRAMP. I tender my gratitude. I should like a bite of something, if possible.

MARTHA. You haven’t had time to look round, and want to eat already. Didn’t you beg anything in the village?

TRAMP [sighs] I’m not in the habit of begging because of my position, and having no producks of my own...

Akulína rises, goes to the table, takes a loaf of bread, cuts a slice, and gives it to the Tramp.

TRAMP [taking the bread] Merci. [Sits down on the bench and eats greedily].

TARÁS. And where is Michael?

MARTHA. Why, he took hay to the town. It’s time he was back, but he’s not here. Something must have happened.

TARÁS. Why, what should happen?

MARTHA. What indeed? Not anything good; it’s only bad one has to expect. As soon as he’s out of the house he forgets all about us! I expect he’ll come back tipsy!

AKULÍNA [sitting down to spin, points at Martha and says to Tarás] It’s not in her to be quiet. As I always say, we women must find something to grumble about.

MARTHA. If he were alone I should not be afraid, but he went with Ignát.

TARÁS [smiling] Ah well, Ignát Ivánovich certainly is fond of a drop of vódka.

AKULÍNA. Doesn’t he know what Ignát is like! Ignát is one man, and our Michael’s another.

MARTHA. It’s all very well for you to talk, mother; but I’m sick of his drinking. While he is sober it would be a sin to complain of him, but when he’s drunk, you know what he is like. One can’t say a word; everything is wrong.

TARÁS. Yes, but look at you women too; a man has a drink. Well, he swaggers about a bit, and sleeps it off, and everything goes on all right; but then the likes of you keep on nagging at him.

MARTHA. When he’s drunk there’s no pleasing him, do what you will.

TARÁS. But you should understand that we can’t help having a drop now and then. Your woman’s business is at home, but the likes of us must have a drop when we’re on business, or for company’s sake. Well, so one drinks, and where is the harm?

MARTHA. You may talk, but it’s hard on us women. Oh, how hard it is! If one harnessed you men to our work just for a week, you would sing a different tune. Kneading, cooking, baking, spinning, weaving, and the cattle to look after, and all the rest of it, and the brats to keep washed and clothed and fed; it’s all on our shoulders, and if anything is the least bit not to his fancy, there you are, especially when he’s drunk. Oh dear, what a life ours is!

TRAMP [chewing] That’s quite correct. It’s the cause of it all; I mean all the catastrophes of life proceed from alcoholic liquors.

TARÁS. It seems to have bowled you over too!

TRAMP. No, not exactly that, though I have suffered from that too. The career of my life might have been different but for the drink.

TARÁS. Now, to my thinking, if you drink reasonably, there’s no manner of harm in it.

TRAMP. But I say that it is so strong that it may completely ruin a man.

MARTHA. That’s what I say: you worry and do your best, and the only comfort you get is to be scolded and beaten like a dog.

TRAMP. And that’s not all. There are some people, persons I mean, that are quite deprived of their reason through it and commit entirely inappropriate actions. While he does not drink, give him anything you like and he won’t take what is not his; but when drunk, he grabs whatever comes handy. Many a time one gets beaten and put in prison. As long as I don’t drink, all goes honestly and honourably, but as soon as I drink, I mean as soon as that same person drinks, he at once begins grabbing whatever comes his way.

AKULÍNA. And I think it’s all in oneself.

TRAMP. Of course it’s in oneself as long as one is well, but this is a kind of disease.

TARÁS. A nice kind of disease. A good hiding would soon cure that disease. Well, goodbye for the present. [Exit].

MARTHA [wipes her hands and turns to go].

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.

This is a free sample. Please purchase full version of the book to continue.