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Full Online Book HomePlaysFruits Of Culture: A Comedy In Four Acts - Act 1
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Fruits Of Culture: A Comedy In Four Acts - Act 1 Post by :add2it Category :Plays Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :May 2012 Read :3082

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Fruits Of Culture: A Comedy In Four Acts - Act 1

ACT I

The entrance hall of a wealthy house in Moscow. There are three doors: the front door, the door of Leonid Fyodoritch's study, and the door of Vasily Leoniditch's room. A staircase leads up to the other rooms; behind it is another door leading to the servants' quarters.

SCENE 1.

GREGORY (looks at himself in the glass and arranges his hair, &c.) I _am sorry about those moustaches of mine! "Moustaches 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, moustaches or no moustaches! (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 Tanya. 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 Tanya, carrying a cloak and boots.)

GREGORY. My respects to you, Tatyana Markovna.

TANYA. What are you always looking in the glass for? Do you think yourself so good-looking?

GREGORY. Well, and are my looks not agreeable?

TANYA. 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, Tanya, I'll tell you something ...

TANYA. 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!

TANYA. Now, really, what are you bothering for? I'll give you such a kiss! (Raises her hand to strike).

VASILY LEONIDITCH (off the scene, rings and then shouts) Gregory!

TANYA. There now, go! Vasily Leoniditch is calling you.

GREGORY. He'll wait! He's only just opened his eyes! I say, why don't you love me?

TANYA. 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!

TANYA. Never mind; such as he is, you are jealous of him!

VASILY LEONIDITCH (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, Tanya ...

TANYA (angrily and severely) You'll get nothing from me, I tell you!

VASILY LEONIDITCH (off the scene) Gregory!!

GREGORY. You're mighty particular, ain't you?

VASILY LEONIDITCH (off the scene, shouts persistently, monotonously, and with all his might) Gregory! Gregory! Gregory! (Tanya and Gregory laugh).

GREGORY. You should have seen the girls that have been sweet on me. (Bell rings).

TANYA. Well then, go to them, and leave me alone!

GREGORY. You are a silly, now I think of it. I'm not Simon!

TANYA. 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.

TANYA (taking the note) Sit down, and I'll take it in. (Exit).

(Vasily Leoniditch looks out of the door in shirt-sleeves and slippers.)

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Gregory!

GREGORY. Yes, sir.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Gregory! Don't you hear me call?

GREGORY. I've only just come, sir.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Hot water, and a cup of tea.

GREGORY. Yes, sir; Simon will bring them directly.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. And who is this? Ah, from Bourdier?

PORTER. Yes, sir.

(Exeunt Vasily Leoniditch and Gregory. Bell rings. Tanya
runs in at the sound of the bell and opens the front door.)


TANYA (to Porter) Please wait a little.

PORTER. I am waiting.

(Sahatof enters at front door.)

TANYA. I beg your pardon, but the footman has just gone away. This way, sir. Allow me, please. (Takes his fur cloak).

SAHATOF (adjusting his clothes) Is Leonid Fyodoritch at home? Is he up? (Bell rings).

TANYA. Oh yes, sir. He's been up a long time.

(Doctor enters and looks round for the footman.
Sees Sahatof and addresses him in an offhand manner.)


DOCTOR. Ah, my respects to you!

SAHATOF (looks fixedly at him) The Doctor, I believe?

DOCTOR. And I thought you were abroad! Dropped in to see Leonid Fyodoritch?

SAHATOF. 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.

SAHATOF. Is this the way you state your diagnosis to Anna Pavlovna? 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?

SAHATOF. 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 Krougosvetlof 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.

SAHATOF. Yes, yes! Good morning. (Exit, bowing slightly).

DOCTOR (to Tanya) Is Anna Pavlovna up?

TANYA. She's in her bedroom, but please come up.

(Doctor goes upstairs.)

(Theodore Ivanitch enters with a newspaper in his hand.)

THEODORE IVANITCH (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 IVANITCH. Ah, from Bourdey's! (To Tanya) Who came in just now?

TANYA. It was Sergey Ivanitch Sahatof and the Doctor. They stood talking here a bit. It was all about spiritalism.

THEODORE IVANITCH (correcting her) Spirit_u_alism.

TANYA. Yes, that's just what I said--spiritalism. Have you heard how well it went off last time, Theodore Ivanitch? (Laughs) There was knocks, and things flew about!

THEODORE IVANITCH. And how do _you know?

TANYA. 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 Vasily Leoniditch's door.)

(Gregory enters.)

GREGORY. Give it here.

JACOB. You didn't bring back all yesterday's tumblers, nor the tray Vasily Leoniditch 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!

TANYA. Nobody is good enough for you! You alone ...

GREGORY (to Tanya) No one asked your opinion! (Exit).

JACOB. Ah well, I don't mind. Tatyana Markovna, did the mistress say anything about yesterday?

TANYA. 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 Mihaylitch 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 Ivanitch, have you one spoon or two?

THEODORE IVANITCH. One. Only one! (Reads newspaper).

(Exit Jacob.)

(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 Ivanitch) Tell the major-domo here, it's his business. I have no time. (Exit).

TANYA. Where are these peasants from?

DOORKEEPER. From Koursk, I think.

TANYA (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 IVANITCH. 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 IVANITCH. Let them wait outside. I'll send for them when the time comes. (Exit Doorkeeper)

(Enter Tanya, followed by three Peasants.)

TANYA. To the right. In here! In here!

THEODORE IVANITCH. I did not want them brought in here!

GREGORY. Forward minx!

TANYA. Oh, Theodore Ivanitch, it won't matter, they'll stand in this corner.

THEODORE IVANITCH. They'll dirty the floor.

TANYA. 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 icon before which to cross themselves;
not finding one, they cross themselves looking at the staircase.)


GREGORY (to Theodore Ivanitch). There now, Theodore Ivanitch, 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 IVANITCH. Why will you always be ridiculing people? (Exit Gregory).

THEODORE IVANITCH (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 IVANITCH. 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.

TANYA. 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?

TANYA. He's the master's valet.

FIRST PEASANT. I see. So he's also in service. And you, now, are you a servant too?

TANYA. I am lady's-maid. Do you know, I also come from Demen! 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?

TANYA. You are Efim Antonitch.

FIRST PEASANT. That's just it!

TANYA. And you are Simon's father, Zachary Trifanitch.

SECOND PEASANT. Right!

THIRD PEASANT. And let me tell you, I'm Mitry Vlasitch Tchilikin. Now do you know?

TANYA. Now I shall know you too!

SECOND PEASANT. And who may you be?

TANYA. I am Aksinya'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!

VASILY LEONIDITCH. (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?

TANYA. 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?

TANYA. 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 spoilt!

TANYA (quickly) No, he's not at all spoilt! Shall I send him to you?

SECOND PEASANT. Why send him? All in good time. Where's the hurry?

VASILY LEONIDITCH (desperately, behind scene) Gregory! Where the devil are you?... (Enters from his room in shirt-sleeves, adjusting his pince-nez).

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Is every one dead?

TANYA. He's not here, sir.... I'll send him to you at once. (Moves towards the back door).

VASILY LEONIDITCH. I could hear you talking, you know. How have these scarecrows sprung up here? Eh? What?

TANYA. They're peasants from the Koursk village, sir. (Peasants bow).

VASILY LEONIDITCH. And who is this? Oh yes, from Bourdier.

(Vasily Leoniditch pays no attention to the Peasants' bow. Tanya
meets Gregory at the doorway and remains on the scene.)


VASILY LEONIDITCH (to Gregory) I told you the other boots... I can't wear these!

GREGORY. Well, the others are also there.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. But where is _there_?

GREGORY. Just in the same place!

VASILY LEONIDITCH. They're not!

GREGORY. Well, come and see. (Exeunt Gregory and Vasily Leoniditch).

THIRD PEASANT. Say now, might we not in the meantime just go and wait, say, in some lodging-house or somewhere?

TANYA. No, no, wait a little. I'll go and bring you some plates to put the presents on. (Exit).

(Enter Sahatof and Leonid Fyodoritch, followed by Theodore Ivanitch.)

(The Peasants take up the presents, and pose themselves.)

LEONID FYODORITCH (to Peasants) Presently, presently! Wait a bit! (Points to Porter) Who is this?

PORTER. From Bourdey's.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Ah, from Bourdier.

SAHATOF (smiling) Well, I don't deny it: still you understand that, never having seen it, we, the uninitiated, have some difficulty in believing.

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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!

SAHATOF. From _there_? What do you mean? From where?

LEONID FYODORITCH. From the other world. Yes!

SAHATOF (smiling) That's very interesting--very interesting!

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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 Alexey Vladimiritch Krougosvetlof--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?

SAHATOF. But I don't deny anything. I only say it is very interesting. It would be interesting to know how Krougosvetlof explains it!

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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?

SAHATOF. Yes, I have heard of him but have never happened to meet him.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Then you must come! We shall first have Grossman, then Kaptchitch, and our mediumistic seance.... (To Theodore Ivanitch) Has the man returned from Kaptchitch?

THEODORE IVANITCH. Not yet, sir.

SAHATOF. Then how am I to know?

LEONID FYODORITCH. Never mind, come in any case! If Kaptchitch can't come we shall find our own medium. Marya Ignatievna is a medium--not such a good one as Kaptchitch, but still ...

(Tanya enters with plates for the presents, and stands listening.)

SAHATOF (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 Kaptchitch and Marya Ignatievna? If there were such a special force, would it not be met with also among the common people--the peasants?

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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 seance--and we forgot all about him. In all probability he fell asleep. And, fancy, after our seance was over and Kaptchitch 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!

TANYA (aside) That was when I was getting out from under it!

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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?

SAHATOF (shrugging his shoulders) Dear me, this is very interesting, you know. I think you should try him.

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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!

SAHATOF. Moved a brick ... a brick wall?

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, yes. She was lying in bed, and did not even know she was a medium. She just leant her arm against the wall, and the wall moved!

SAHATOF. And did not cave in?

LEONID FYODORITCH. And did not cave in.

SAHATOF. Very strange! Well then, I'll come this evening.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Pray do. We shall have a seance in any case. (Sahatof puts on his outdoor things, Leonid Fyodoritch sees him to the door).

PORTER (to Tanya) Do tell your mistress! Am I to spend the night here?

TANYA. Wait a little; she's going to drive out with the young lady, so she'll soon be coming downstairs. (Exit).

LEONID FYODORITCH (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).

LEONID FYODORITCH. But what is it about? What do you want?

FIRST PEASANT. It's to your honour we've come ...

(Enter Petristchef briskly, in fur-lined overcoat.)

PETRISTCHEF. Is Vasily Leoniditch awake yet? (Seeing Leonid Fyodoritch, bows, moving only his head).

LEONID FYODORITCH. You have come to see my son?

PETRISTCHEF. I? Yes, just to see Vovo for a moment.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Step in, step in.

(Petristchef takes off his overcoat and walks in briskly. Exit.)

LEONID FYODORITCH (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!

LEONID FYODORITCH. All right. Here, Theodore, take these.

THEODORE IVANITCH (to Peasants) Give them here. (Takes the presents).

LEONID FYODORITCH. Well, what is the business?

FIRST PEASANT. We've come to your honour ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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 ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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.

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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 roubles.

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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 roubles in full.(2)

(Note 2: The present value of the rouble is rather over two shillings and one penny.)

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.

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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.

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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 ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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).

LEONID FYODORITCH. Of course it's quite true, that I agreed last year to let you have the land for payment by instalments, 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!

LEONID FYODORITCH (examining the document) I quite understand, and 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 IVANITCH. Yes, sir. (Exit Leonid Fyodoritch).

(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 IVANITCH. 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 IVANITCH. What is the whole sum?

FIRST PEASANT. The whole sum in readiness is 4000 roubles, you see.

THEODORE IVANITCH. 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.

(Vasily Leoniditch and Petristchef appear in the doorway both smoking cigarettes.)

VASILY LEONIDITCH. I have told you already I'll do my best, so of course I will do all that is possible! Eh, what?

PETRISTCHEF. You must just understand that if you do not get it, the devil only knows what a mess we shall be in!

VASILY LEONIDITCH. But I've already said I'll do my best, and so I will. Eh, what?

PETRISTCHEF. Nothing. I only say, get some at any cost. I will wait.

(Exit into Vasily Leoniditch's room, closing door.)

VASILY LEONIDITCH (waving his arm) It's a deuce of a go! (The Peasants bow).

VASILY LEONIDITCH (looking at Porter, to Theodore Ivanitch) 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 IVANITCH. The note he brought has been sent in, and he has been told to wait until Anna Pavlovna comes down.

VASILY LEONIDITCH (looks at Peasants and notices the money) And what is this? Money? For whom? Is it for us? (To Theodore Ivanitch) Who are they?

THEODORE IVANITCH. They are peasants from Koursk. They are buying land.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Has it been sold them?

THEODORE IVANITCH. No, they have not yet come to any agreement. They are too stingy.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. 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.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. 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.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. 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 rouble and a half a bushel--that would be 120 roubles. Eh, what? Or else mint! I tell you, you could collar 400 roubles 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.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Mint! Decidedly mint! I have learnt 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.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Then pay up and don't be stingy. (To Theodore Ivanitch) Where's papa?

THEODORE IVANITCH. He gave orders not to be disturbed just now.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Oh, I suppose he's consulting a spirit whether to sell the land or not? Eh, what?

THEODORE IVANITCH. I can't say. All I know is that he went away undecided about it.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. What d'you think, Theodore Ivanitch, is he flush of cash? Eh, what?

THEODORE IVANITCH. I don't know. I hardly think so. But what does it matter to you? You drew a good sum not more than a week ago.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. But didn't I pay for those dogs? And now, you know, there's our new Society, and Petristchef has been chosen, and I had borrowed money from Petristchef and must pay the subscription both for him and for myself. Eh, what?

THEODORE IVANITCH. And what is this new Society? A Cycling Club?

VASILY LEONIDITCH. 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 IVANITCH. What's the object of this new Society?

VASILY LEONIDITCH. 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 Ivanitch) And who might he be, respected sir?

THEODORE IVANITCH (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 IVANITCH. 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 Vasily Leoniditch followed by Leonid Fyodoritch.)

VASILY LEONIDITCH. 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 roubles to go on with!...

LEONID FYODORITCH. I tell you I can't do it, and I can't! I haven't got it.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Why, you have just sold some land.

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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 IVANITCH. I told you this was not the right moment.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Well, I say! Here's a position to be in! I'll go and see mamma--that's my only hope. He's going crazy over his spiritualism and forgets everything else. (Goes upstairs).

(Theodore Ivanitch takes newspaper and is just going to sit down,
when Betsy and Marya Konstantinovna, followed by Gregory, come down
the stairs.)


BETSY. Is the carriage ready?

GREGORY. Just coming to the door.

BETSY (to Marya Konstantinovna) Come along, come along, I know it is he.

MARYA KONSTANTINOVNA. Which he?

BETSY. You know very well whom I mean--Petristchef, of course.

MARYA KONSTANTINOVNA. But where is he?

BETSY. Sitting in Vovo's room. You'll see!

MARYA KONSTANTINOVNA. 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.

MARYA KONSTANTINOVNA. Is it still that costume for the charade?

BETSY. Yes, a charming costume. But mamma won't take it or pay for it.

MARYA KONSTANTINOVNA. But why not?

BETSY. You'd better ask mamma. She doesn't grudge Vovo 500 roubles 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 Leonid Fyodoritch 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! (Goes to Vasily Leoniditch's door) Vovo? (Laughs).

MARYA KONSTANTINOVNA. But we met him just now upstairs!

BETSY. Why need you remember that? Vovo, are you there?

(Petristchef enters.)

PETRISTCHEF. Vovo is not here, but I am prepared to fulfil on his behalf anything that may be required. How do you do? How do you do, Marya Konstantinovna? (Shakes hands long and violently with Betsy, and then with Marya Konstantinovna).

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?

PETRISTCHEF. 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?

PETRISTCHEF. What a question! It means nothing, that's just the point.

BETSY. No, no, you have missed fire. (Laughs).

PETRISTCHEF. 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 Ivanitch goes into the study).

BETSY. Well, this was blank then; but tell me, were you at the Mergasofs' last night?

PETRISTCHEF. Not exactly at the _Mere Gasof's, but rather at the _Pere Gasof's, or better still, at the _Fils Gasof's.

BETSY. You can't do without puns. It's an illness. And were the Gypsies there?(3) (Laughs).

(Note 3: The Gypsy choirs are very popular in Moscow.)

PETRISTCHEF (sings) "On their aprons silken threads, little birds with golden heads!" ...

BETSY. Happy mortals! And we were yawning at Fofo's.

PETRISTCHEF (continues to sing) "And she promised and she swore, She would ope' her ... her ... her ..." how does it go on, Marya Konstantinovna?

MARYA KONSTANTINOVNA. "Closet door."

PETRISTCHEF. How? What? How, Marya Konstantinovna?

BETSY. _Cessez, vous devenez impossible!_(4)

(Note: 4 BETSY. Cease! You are becoming quite unbearable!)

PETRISTCHEF. _J'ai cesse, j'ai bebe, j'ai dede...._(5)

(Note 5: PETRISTCHEF. I have C said (_ceased_), B said, and D said.)

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, Marya Konstantinovna, come! (Exeunt Betsy, Marya Konstantinovna, and Petristchef).

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! (Gipsy songs and guitar accompaniment are heard from Vasily Leoniditch's room).

(Enter Simon, followed by Tanya, who watches the meeting between father and son.)


GREGORY (to Simon) What do you want?

SIMON. I have been to Mr. Kaptchitch.

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 Efim and Daddy Mitry! 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).

TANYA (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 Ivanitch enters and sits down by the window.)


FIRST PEASANT. Respected sir, how's our business proceeding?

THEODORE IVANITCH. Wait a bit, he'll be out presently, he's just finishing.

TANYA (to Theodore Ivanitch) And how do you know, Theodore Ivanitch, he is finishing?

THEODORE IVANITCH. I know that when he has finished questioning, he reads the question and answer aloud.

TANYA. Can one really talk with spirits by means of a saucer?

THEODORE IVANITCH. It seems so.

TANYA. But supposing they tell him to sign, will he sign?

THEODORE IVANITCH. Of course he will.

TANYA. But they do not speak with words?

THEODORE IVANITCH. Oh, yes. By means of the alphabet. He notices at which letter the saucer stops.

TANYA. Yes, but at a si-ance?...

(Enter Leonid Fyodoritch.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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!

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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.

LEONID FYODORITCH. 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.

(Leonid Fyodoritch goes up to the door and stops. Enter,
descending the staircase, Anna Pavlovna and doctor,
followed by Vasily Leoniditch, who is in a merry and
playful mood and is putting some bank-notes into his purse.)


ANNA PAVLOVNA (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 PAVLOVNA. 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 PAVLOVNA. 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 PAVLOVNA (noticing the Peasants) What's this? What? What people are these? (Peasants bow).

THEODORE IVANITCH. These are peasants from Koursk, come to see Leonid Fyodoritch about the sale of some land.

ANNA PAVLOVNA. I see they are peasants, but who let them in?

THEODORE IVANITCH. Leonid Fyodoritch gave the order. He has just been speaking to them about the sale of the land.

ANNA PAVLOVNA. 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!

(Leonid Fyodoritch goes into his room and shuts the door. Gregory goes to recall the Doctor.)


VASILY LEONIDITCH (smokes at the Peasants) Never mind, mamma; if you like I'll fumigate them so that all the microbes will go to pot! Eh, what?

(Anna Pavlovna remains severely silent, awaiting the Doctor's return.)

VASILY LEONIDITCH (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.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. This kind?... (Grunts like a pig).

ANNA PAVLOVNA. Vovo, Vovo, leave off!

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Isn't it like? Eh, what?

FIRST PEASANT. That's just so. It's very resemblant.

ANNA PAVLOVNA. 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 PAVLOVNA. 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 PAVLOVNA. 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 PAVLOVNA. But don't you yourself advise carefulness?

DOCTOR. Of course, of course. Still, why excite yourself?

ANNA PAVLOVNA. How can I help it? Now we shall have to have the house completely disinfected.

DOCTOR. Oh no! Why completely? That would cost 300 roubles or more. I'll arrange it cheaply and well for you. Take, to a large bottle of water ...

ANNA PAVLOVNA. 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 PAVLOVNA. Tanya! Where is Tanya?

(Enter Tanya.)

TANYA. Did you call, M'm?

ANNA PAVLOVNA. You know that big bottle in my dressing-room?

TANYA. Out of which we sprinkled the laundress yesterday?

ANNA PAVLOVNA. 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 ...

TANYA. Yes, M'm; I know how.

ANNA PAVLOVNA. 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 PAVLOVNA. 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 PAVLOVNA. 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 PAVLOVNA. Go, go, take it back! I will call myself about it!

VASILY LEONIDITCH (solemnly) Sir Messenger from Bourdier, depart!

PORTER. I might have been told that long ago. I have sat here nearly five hours!

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Ambassador from Bourdier, begone!

ANNA PAVLOVNA. Cease, please!

(Exit Porter.)

ANNA PAVLOVNA. Betsy! Where is she? I always have to wait for her.

VASILY LEONIDITCH (shouting at the top of his voice) Betsy! Petristchef! Come quick, quick, quick! Eh? What?

(Enter Petristchef, Betsy, and Marya Konstantinovna.)


ANNA PAVLOVNA. You always keep one waiting!

BETSY. On the contrary, I was waiting for you!

(Petristchef bows with his head only, then kisses Anna Pavlovna's hand.)


ANNA PAVLOVNA. How d'you do! (To Betsy) You always have an answer ready!

BETSY. If you are upset, mamma, I had better not go.

ANNA PAVLOVNA. Are we going or not?

BETSY. Well, let us go; it can't be helped.

ANNA PAVLOVNA. 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 PAVLOVNA. 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 PAVLOVNA. Not prudery at all! If the bodice were completely altered, then it would do.

BETSY. Mamma, that is quite impossible.

ANNA PAVLOVNA. Well, get dressed. (They sit down. Gregory puts on their over-shoes for them).

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Marya Konstantinovna, do you notice a vacuum in the hall?

MARYA KONSTANTINOVNA. What is it? (Laughs in anticipation).

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Bourdier's man has gone! Eh, what? Good, eh? (Laughs loudly).

ANNA PAVLOVNA. Well, let us go. (Goes out of the door, but returns at once) Tanya!

TANYA. Yes, M'm?

ANNA PAVLOVNA. 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.

TANYA. Yes, M'm.

(Exeunt Anna Pavlovna, Betsy, and Gregory.)


PETRISTCHEF. Well, have you got it?

VASILY LEONIDITCH. 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.

(Petristchef and Vasily Leoniditch put on their outdoor things and go out. Tanya follows.)

THEODORE IVANITCH (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 as to the women's dominion!... Why, Leonid Fyodoritch 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 kind-hearted man. Yes, wonderfully kind. What's this? Here's Tanya bringing them back again!

TANYA. Come in, come in, grand-dads, never mind!

(Enter Tanya and the Peasants.)

THEODORE IVANITCH. Why have you brought them back?

TANYA. Well, Theodore Ivanitch, we must do something about their business. I shall have to wash the place anyhow.

THEODORE IVANITCH. 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 IVANITCH. 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).

(Tanya and the three Peasants sigh.)

TANYA. But tell me, grand-dads, what is it that is wanted?

FIRST PEASANT. Why, only that he should put his signature to our document.

TANYA. 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.

TANYA (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.

TANYA. Just wait and see what Theodore Ivanitch will say. If he cannot persuade the master, I'll try something.

FIRST PEASANT. Get round him, will you?

TANYA. I'll try.

THIRD PEASANT. Ay, 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!

TANYA. 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 Ivanitch.)

THEODORE IVANITCH. 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 Tanya the paper) Then it's on you we pin all our reliance, for example.

TANYA. Yes, yes! You go into the street, and I'll run out to you in a minute and have a word with you.

(Exeunt Peasants.)

TANYA. Theodore Ivanitch, dear Theodore Ivanitch, ask the master to come out and speak to me for a moment. I have something to say to him.

THEODORE IVANITCH. What next?

TANYA. I must, Theodore Ivanitch. Ask him, do; there's nothing wrong about it, on my sacred word.

THEODORE IVANITCH. But what do you want with him?

TANYA. That's a little secret. I will tell you later on, only ask him.

THEODORE IVANITCH (smiling) I can't think what you are up to! All right, I'll go and ask him. (Exit).

TANYA. 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 Leonid Fyodoritch followed by Theodore Ivanitch.)

LEONID FYODORITCH (smiling) Is this the petitioner? Well, what is your business?

TANYA. It's a little secret, Leonid Fyodoritch; let me tell it you alone.

LEONID FYODORITCH. What is it? Theodore, leave us for a minute.

(Exit Theodore Ivanitch.)

TANYA. As I have grown up and lived in your house, Leonid Fyodoritch, 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.

LEONID FYODORITCH. So that's it!

TANYA. I open my heart to you as to a father! I have no one to advise me, being an orphan.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Well, and why not? He seems a nice lad.

TANYA. 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.

LEONID FYODORITCH. What is it? Does he drink?

TANYA. God forbid! But since I know that there is such a thing as spiritalism ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. Ah, you know that?

TANYA. Of course! I understand it very well. Some, of course, through ignorance, don't understand it.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Well, what then?

TANYA. I am very much afraid for Simon. It does happen to him.

LEONID FYODORITCH. What happens to him?

TANYA. 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.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Why, it's the very thing I was saying to Sergey Ivanitch this morning! Yes?...

TANYA. Or else ... when was it?... Oh yes, last Wednesday. We sat down to dinner, and the spoon just jumps into his hand of itself!

LEONID FYODORITCH. Ah, that is interesting! Jumps into his hand? When he was drowsing?

TANYA. That I didn't notice. I think he was, though.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes?...

TANYA. 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!

LEONID FYODORITCH (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.

TANYA. So that's what it is! And I was afraid!

LEONID FYODORITCH. No, there's nothing to be afraid of. (Aside). That's capital! Kaptchitch can't come, so we will test him to-night.... (To Tanya) 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.

TANYA. Thank you, sir. Now I shan't think any more about it; but I was so frightened.... What a thing it is, our want of education!

LEONID FYODORITCH. No, no, don't be frightened... Theodore!

(Enter Theodore Ivanitch.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. I am going out now. Get everything ready for to-night's seance.

THEODORE IVANITCH. But Mr. Kaptchitch is not coming.

LEONID FYODORITCH. That does not matter. (Puts on overcoat) We shall have a trial seance with our own medium. (Exit. Theodore Ivanitch goes out with him).

TANYA (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 Ivanitch returns.)

THEODORE IVANITCH. Well, have you told him your secret?

TANYA. I'll tell you too, only later on.... But I have a favour to ask of you too, Theodore Ivanitch.

THEODORE IVANITCH. Yes? What is it?

TANYA (shyly) You have been a second father to me, and I will open my heart before you as before God.

THEODORE IVANITCH. Don't beat about the bush, but come straight to the point.

TANYA. The point is ... well, the point is, that Simon wants to marry me.

THEODORE IVANITCH. Is that it? I thought I noticed ...

TANYA. 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 Mihaylitch, 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 IVANITCH. Good girl, that's right! Well, what then?

TANYA. Well, Simon wrote to his father; and he, his father, sees me to-day, and says: "He's spoilt"--he means his son. Theodore Ivanitch (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 IVANITCH (smiling) Then I am to turn match-maker--am I? Well, I can do that.

TANYA. Theodore Ivanitch, dearest, be a father to me, and I'll pray for you all my life long.

THEODORE IVANITCH. All right, all right, I'll come later on. Haven't I promised? (Takes up newspaper).

TANYA. You are a second father to me!

THEODORE IVANITCH. All right, all right.

TANYA. Then I'll rely on you. (Exit).

THEODORE IVANITCH (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.

(Curtain.)

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ACT IIEvening of the same day. The scene represents the interior of the servants' kitchen. The Peasants have taken off their outer garments and sit drinking tea at the table, and perspiring. Theodore Ivanitch is smoking a cigar at the other side of the stage. The discharged Cook is lying on the brick oven, and is unseen during the early part of the scene.THEODORE IVANITCH. My advice is, don't hinder him! If it's his wish and hers, in Heaven's name let him do it. She is a good, honest girl. Never mind her being a bit dressy; she can't help that,
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FRUITS OF CULTUREA COMEDY IN FOUR ACTS(1889)CHARACTERSLEONID FYODORITCH ZVEZDINTSEF. A retired Lieutenant of the Horse Guards. Owner of more than 60,000 acres of land in various provinces. A fresh-looking, bland, agreeable gentleman of 60. Believes in Spiritualism, and likes to astonish people with his wonderful stories.ANNA PAVLOVNA ZVEZDINTSEVA. Wife of Leonid. Stout; pretends to be young; quite taken up with the conventionalities of life; despises her husband, and blindly believes in her doctor. Very irritable.BETSY. Their daughter. A young woman of 20, fast, tries to be mannish, wears a pince-nez, flirts and giggles. Speaks very quickly and distinctly.VASILY LEONIDITCH ZVEZDINTSEF. Their
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