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Full Online Book HomePlaysFruits Of Culture: A Comedy In Four Acts - Act 3
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Fruits Of Culture: A Comedy In Four Acts - Act 3 Post by :Truman Category :Plays Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :May 2012 Read :2466

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Fruits Of Culture: A Comedy In Four Acts - Act 3

ACT III

Evening of the same day. The small drawing-room in Leonid Fyodoritch's house, where the seances are always held. Leonid Fyodoritch and the Professor.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Well then, shall we risk a seance with our new medium?

PROFESSOR. Yes, certainly. He is a powerful medium, there is no doubt about it. And it is especially desirable that the seance should take place to-day with the same people. Grossman will certainly respond to the influence of the mediumistic energy, and then the connection and identity of the different phenomena will be still more evident. You will see then that, if the medium is as strong as he was just now, Grossman will vibrate.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Then I will send for Simon and ask those who wish to attend to come in.

PROFESSOR. Yes, all right! I will just jot down a few notes. (Takes out his note-book and writes).

(Enter Sahatof.)

SAHATOF. They have just settled down to whist in Anna Pavlovna's drawing-room, and as I am not wanted there--and as I am interested in your seance--I have put in an appearance here. But will there be a seance?

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, certainly!

SAHATOF. In spite of the absence of Mr. Kaptchitch's mediumistic powers?

LEONID FYODORITCH. _Vous avez la main heureuse._(11) Fancy, that very peasant whom I mentioned to you this morning, turns out to be an undoubted medium.

(Note 11: LEONID FYODORITCH. You bring good luck.)


SAHATOF. Dear me! Yes, that is peculiarly interesting!

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, we tried a few preliminary experiments with him just after dinner.

SAHATOF. So you've had time already to experiment, and to convince yourself ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, perfectly! And he turns out to be an exceptionally powerful medium.

SAHATOF (incredulously) Dear me!

LEONID FYODORITCH. It turns out that it has long been noticed in the servants' hall. When he sits down to table, the spoon springs into his hand of its own accord! (To the Professor) Had you heard about it?

PROFESSOR. No, I had not heard that detail.

SAHATOF (to the Professor). But still, you admit the possibility of such phenomena?

PROFESSOR. What phenomena?

SAHATOF. Well, spiritualistic, mediumistic, and supernatural phenomena in general.

PROFESSOR. The question is, what do we consider supernatural? When, not a living man but a piece of stone attracted a nail to itself, how did the phenomena strike the first observers? As something natural? Or supernatural?

SAHATOF. Well, of course; but phenomena such as the magnet attracting iron always repeat themselves.

PROFESSOR. It is just the same in this case. The phenomenon repeats itself and we experiment with it. And not only that, but we apply to the phenomena we are investigating the laws common to other phenomena. These phenomena seem supernatural only because their causes are attributed to the medium himself. But that is where the mistake lies. The phenomena are not caused by the medium, but by psychic energy acting through a medium, and that is a very different thing. The whole matter lies in the law of equivalents.

SAHATOF. Yes, certainly, but ...

(Enter Tanya, who hides behind the hangings.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. Only remember that we cannot reckon on any results with certainty, with this medium any more than with Home or Kaptchitch. We may not succeed, but on the other hand we may even have perfect materialisation.

SAHATOF. Materialisation even? What do you mean by materialisation?

LEONID FYODORITCH. Why, I mean that some one who is dead--say, your father or your grandfather--may appear, take you by the hand, or give you something; or else some one may suddenly rise into the air, as happened to Alexey Vladimiritch last time.

PROFESSOR. Of course, of course. But the chief thing is the explanation of the phenomena, and the application to them of general laws.

(Enter the Fat Lady.)

FAT LADY. Anna Pavlovna has allowed me to join you.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Very pleased.

FAT LADY. Oh, how tired Grossman seems! He could scarcely hold his cup. Did you notice (to the Professor) how pale he turned at the moment he approached the hiding-place? I noticed it at once, and was the first to mention it to Anna Pavlovna.

PROFESSOR. Undoubtedly,--loss of vital energy.

FAT LADY. Yes, it's just as I say, one should not abuse that sort of thing. You know, a hypnotist once suggested to a friend of mine, Vera Konshin (oh, you know her, of course)--well, he suggested that she should leave off smoking,--and her back began to ache!

PROFESSOR (trying to have his say) The temperature and the pulse clearly indicate ...

FAT LADY. One moment! Allow me! Well, I said to her: it's better to smoke than to suffer so with one's nerves. Of course, smoking is injurious; I should like to give it up myself, but, do what I will, I can't! Once I managed not to smoke for a fortnight, but could hold out no longer.

PROFESSOR (again trying to speak) Clearly proves ...

FAT LADY. Yes, no! Allow me, just one word! You say, "loss of strength." And I was also going to say that, when I travelled with post-horses ... the roads used to be dreadful in those days--you don't remember--but I have noticed that all our nervousness comes from railways! I, for instance, can't sleep while travelling; I cannot fall asleep to save my life!

PROFESSOR (makes another attempt, which the Fat Lady baffles) The loss of strength ...

SAHATOF (smiling) Yes; oh yes!

(Leonid Fyodoritch rings.)

FAT LADY. I am awake one night, and another, and a third, and still I can't sleep!

(Enter Gregory.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. Please tell Theodore to get everything ready for the seance, and send Simon here--Simon, the butler's assistant,--do you hear?

GREGORY. Yes, sir. (Exit).

PROFESSOR (to Sahatof). The observation of the temperature and the pulse have shown loss of vital energy. The same will happen in consequence of the mediumistic phenomena. The law of the conservation of energy ...

FAT LADY. Oh yes, yes; I was just going to say that I am very glad that a simple peasant turns out to be a medium. That's very good. I always did say that the Slavophils ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. Let's go into the drawing-room in the meantime.

FAT LADY. Allow me, just one word! The Slavophils are right; but I always told my husband that one ought never to exaggerate anything! "The golden mean," you know. What is the use of maintaining that the common people are all perfect, when I have myself seen ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. Won't you come into the drawing-room?

FAT LADY. A boy--that high--who drank! I gave him a scolding at once. And he was grateful to me afterwards. They are children, and, as I always say, children need both love and severity!

(Exeunt all, all talking together.)

(Tanya enters from behind the hangings.)

TANYA. Oh, if it would only succeed! (Begins fastening some threads).

(Enter Betsy hurriedly.)

BETSY. Isn't papa here? (Looks inquiringly at Tanya) What are you doing here?

TANYA. Oh, Miss Elizabeth, I have only just come; I only wished ... only came in ... (Embarrassed).

BETSY. But they are going to have a seance here directly. (Notices Tanya drawing in the threads, looks at her, and suddenly bursts out laughing) Tanya! Why, it's you who do it all? Now don't deny it. And last time it was you too? Yes, it was, it was!

TANYA. Miss Elizabeth, dearest!

BETSY (delighted) Oh, that is a joke! Well, I never. But why do you do it?

TANYA. Oh miss, dear miss, don't betray me!

BETSY. Not for the world! I'm awfully glad. Only tell me how you manage it?

TANYA. Well, I just hide, and then, when it's all dark, I come out and do it. That's how.

BETSY (pointing to threads) And what is this for? You needn't tell me. I see; you draw ...

TANYA. Miss Elizabeth, darling! I will confess it, but only to you. I used to do it just for fun, but now I mean business.

BETSY. What? How? What business?

TANYA. Well, you see, those peasants that came this morning, you saw them. They want to buy some land, and your father won't sell it; well, and Theodore Ivanitch, he says it's the spirits as forbid him. So I have had a thought as ...

BETSY. Oh, I see! Well, you are a clever girl! Do it, do it.... But how will you manage it?

TANYA. Well, I thought, when they put out the lights, I'll at once begin knocking and shying things about, touching their heads with the threads, and at last I'll take the paper about the land and throw it on the table. I've got it here.

BETSY. Well, and then?

TANYA. Why, don't you see? They will be astonished. The peasants had the paper, and now it's here. I will teach ...

BETSY. Why, of course! Simon is the medium to-day!

TANYA. Well, I'll teach him ... (Laughs so that she can't continue) I'll tell him to squeeze with his hands any one he can get hold of! Of course, not your father--he'd never dare do that--but any one else; he'll squeeze till it's signed.

BETSY (laughing) But that's not the way it is done. Mediums never do anything themselves.

TANYA. Oh, never mind. It's all one; I daresay it'll turn out all right.

(Enter Theodore Ivanitch.)

(Exit Betsy, making signs to Tanya.)

THEODORE IVANITCH. Why are you here?

TANYA. It's you I want, Theodore Ivanitch, dear ...

THEODORE IVANITCH. Well, what is it?

TANYA. About that affair of mine as I spoke of.

THEODORE IVANITCH (laughs) I've made the match; yes, I've made the match. The matter is settled; we have shaken hands on it, only not had a drink on it.

TANYA (with a shriek) Never! So it's all right?

THEODORE IVANITCH. Don't I tell you so? He says, "I shall consult the missus, and then, God willing ..."

TANYA. Is that what he said? (Shrieks) Dear Theodore Ivanitch, I'll pray for you all the days of my life!

THEODORE IVANITCH. All right! All right! Now is not the time. I've been ordered to arrange the room for the seance.

TANYA. Let me help you. How's it to be arranged?

THEODORE IVANITCH. How? Why, the table in the middle of the room--chairs--the guitar--the accordion. The lamp is not wanted, only candles.

TANYA (helps Theodore Ivanitch to place the things) Is that right? The guitar here, and here the inkstand. (Places it) So?

THEODORE IVANITCH. Can it be true that they'll make Simon sit here?

TANYA. I suppose so; they've done it once.

THEODORE IVANITCH. Wonderful! (Puts on his pince-nez) But is he clean?

TANYA. How should I know?

THEODORE IVANITCH. Then, I'll tell you what ...

TANYA. Yes, Theodore Ivanitch?

THEODORE IVANITCH. Go and take a nail-brush and some Pears' soap; you may take mine ... and go and cut his claws and scrub his hands as clean as possible.

TANYA. He can do it himself.

THEODORE IVANITCH. Well then, tell him to. And tell him to put on a clean shirt as well.

TANYA. All right, Theodore Ivanitch. (Exit).

THEODORE IVANITCH (sits down in an easy-chair) They're educated and learned--Alexey Vladimiritch now, he's a professor--and yet sometimes one can't help doubting very much. The people's rude superstitions are being abolished: hobgoblins, sorcerers, witches.... But if one considers it, is not this equally superstitious? How is it possible that the souls of the dead should come and talk, and play the guitar? No! Some one is fooling them, or they are fooling themselves. And as to this business with Simon--it's simply incomprehensible. (Looks at an album) Here's their spiritualistic album. How is it possible to photograph a spirit? But here is the likeness of a Turk and Leonid Fyodoritch sitting by.... Extraordinary human weakness!

(Enter Leonid Fyodoritch.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. Is it all ready?

THEODORE IVANITCH (rising leisurely) Quite ready. (Smiles) Only I don't know about your new medium. I hope he won't disgrace you, Leonid Fyodoritch.

LEONID FYODORITCH. No, I and Alexey Vladimiritch have tested him. He is a wonderfully powerful medium!

THEODORE IVANITCH. Well, I don't know. But is he clean enough? I don't suppose you have thought of ordering him to wash his hands? It might be rather inconvenient.

LEONID FYODORITCH. His hands? Oh yes! They're not clean, you think?

THEODORE IVANITCH. What can you expect? He's a peasant, and there will be ladies present, and Marya Vasilevna.

LEONID FYODORITCH. It will be all right.

THEODORE IVANITCH. And then I have something to report to you. Timothy, the coachman, complains that he can't keep things clean because of the dogs.

LEONID FYODORITCH (arranging the things on the table absent-mindedly) What dogs?

THEODORE IVANITCH. The three hounds that came for Vasily Leoniditch to-day.

LEONID FYODORITCH (vexed) Tell Anna Pavlovna! She can do as she likes about it. I have no time.

THEODORE IVANITCH. But you know her weakness ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. 'Tis just as she likes, let her do as she pleases. As for him,--one never gets anything but unpleasantness from him. Besides, I am busy.

(Enter Simon, smiling; he has a sleeveless peasant's coat on.)

SIMON. I was ordered to come.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, it's all right. Let me see your hands. That will do, that will do very well! Well then, my good fellow, you must do just as you did before,--sit down, and give way to your mood. But don't think at all.

SIMON. Why should I think? The more one thinks, the worse it is.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Just so, just so, exactly! The less conscious one is, the greater is the power. Don't think, but give in to your mood. If you wish to sleep, sleep; if you wish to walk, walk. Do you understand?

SIMON. How could one help understanding? It's simple enough.

LEONID FYODORITCH. But above all, don't be frightened. Because you might be surprised yourself. You must understand that just as we live here, so a whole world of invisible spirits live here also.

THEODORE IVANITCH (improving on what Leonid Fyodoritch has said) Invisible feelings, do you understand?

SIMON (laughs) How can one help understanding! It's very plain as you put it.

LEONID FYODORITCH. You may rise up in the air, or something of the kind, but don't be frightened.

SIMON. Why should I be frightened? That won't matter at all.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Well then, I'll go and call them all.... Is everything ready?

THEODORE IVANITCH. I think so.

LEONID FYODORITCH. But the slates?

THEODORE IVANITCH. They are downstairs. I'll bring them. (Exit).

LEONID FYODORITCH. All right then. So don't be afraid, but be at your ease.

SIMON. Had I not better take off my coat? One would be more easy like.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Your coat? Oh no. Don't take that off. (Exit).

SIMON. She tells me to do the same again, and she will again shy things about. How isn't she afraid?

(Enter Tanya in her stockings and in a dress of the colour of the wall-paper. Simon laughs.)

TANYA. Shsh!... They'll hear! There, stick these matches on your fingers as before. (Sticks them on) Well, do you remember everything?

SIMON (bending his fingers in, one by one) First of all, wet the matches and wave my hands about, that's one. Then make my teeth chatter, like this ... that's two. But I've forgotten the third thing.

TANYA. And it's the third as is the chief thing. Don't forget as soon as the paper falls on the table--I shall ring the little bell--then you do like this.... Spread your arms out far and catch hold of some one, whoever it is as sits nearest, and catch hold of him. And then squeeze! (Laughs) Whether it's a gentleman or a lady, it's all one; you just squeeze 'em, and don't let 'em go,--as if it were in your sleep, and chatter with your teeth, or else howl like this. (Howls sotto-voce) And when I begin to play on the guitar, then stretch yourself as if you were waking up, you know.... Will you remember everything?

SIMON. Yes, I'll remember, but it is too funny.

TANYA. But mind you don't laugh. Still, it won't matter much if you do laugh; they'd think it was in your sleep. Only take care you don't really fall asleep when they put out the lights.

SIMON. No fear, I'll pinch my ears.

TANYA. Well then Sim darling, only mind do as I tell you, and don't get frightened. He'll sign the paper, see if he don't! They're coming!

(Gets under the sofa.)

(Enter Grossman and the Professor, Leonid Fyodoritch and the Fat Lady, the Doctor, Sahatof and Anna Pavlovna. Simon stands near the door.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. Please come in, all you doubters! Though we have a new and accidentally discovered medium, I expect very important phenomena to-night.

SAHATOF. That's very, very interesting.

FAT LADY (pointing to Simon) _Mais il est tres bien!_(12)

(Note 12: FAT LADY. But he looks quite nice.)

ANNA PAVLOVNA. Yes, as a butler's assistant, but hardly ...

SAHATOF. Wives never have any faith in their husbands' work. You don't believe in anything of this kind?

ANNA PAVLOVNA. Of course not. Kaptchitch, it is true, has something exceptional about him, but Heaven knows what all this is about!

FAT LADY. No, Anna Pavlovna, permit me, you can't decide it in such a way. Before I was married, I once had a remarkable dream. Dreams, you know, are often such that you don't know where they begin and where they end; it was just such a dream that I ...

(Enter Vasily Leoniditch and Petristchef.)

FAT LADY. And much was revealed to me by that dream. Nowadays the young people (points to Petristchef and Vasily Leoniditch) deny everything.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. But look here, you know--now I, for instance, never deny anything! Eh, what?

(Betsy and Marya Konstantinovna enter, and begin talking to Petristchef.)

FAT LADY. And how can one deny the supernatural? They say it is unreasonable. But what if one's reason is stupid; what then? There now, on Garden Street, you know ... why, well, it appeared every evening! My husband's brother--what do you call him? Not _beau-frere_--what's the other name for it?--I never can remember the names of these different relationships--well, he went there three nights running, and still he saw nothing; so I said to him ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. Well, who is going to stay here?

FAT LADY. I! I!

SAHATOF. I.

ANNA PAVLOVNA (to Doctor) Do you mean to say you are going to stay?

DOCTOR. Yes; I must see, if only once, what it is that Alexey Vladimiritch has discovered in it. How can we deny anything without proofs?

ANNA PAVLOVNA. Then I am to take it to-night for certain?

DOCTOR. Take what?... Oh, the powder. Yes, it would perhaps be better. Yes, yes, take it.... However, I shall come upstairs again.

ANNA PAVLOVNA. Yes please, do. (Loud) When it is over, _mesdames et messieurs_, I shall expect you to come to me upstairs to rest from your emotions, and then we will finish our rubber.

FAT LADY. Oh, certainly.

SAHATOF. Yes, thanks!

(Exit Anna Pavlovna.)

BETSY (to Petristchef) You must stay, I tell you. I promise you something extraordinary. Will you bet?

MARYA KONSTANTINOVNA. But you don't believe in it?

BETSY. To-day I do.

MARYA KONSTANTINOVNA (to Petristchef) And do you believe?

PETRISTCHEF. "I can't believe, I cannot trust a heart for falsehood framed." Still, if Elizabeth Leonidovna commands ...

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Let us stay, Marya Konstantinovna. Eh, what? I shall invent something _epatant_.

MARYA KONSTANTINOVNA. No, you mustn't make me laugh. You know I can't restrain myself.

VASILY LEONIDITCH (loud) I remain!

LEONID FYODORITCH (severely) But I beg those who remain not to joke about it. It is a serious matter.

PETRISTCHEF. Do you hear? Well then, let's stay. Vovo, sit here, and don't be too shy.

BETSY. Yes, it's all very well for you to laugh; but just wait till you see what will happen.

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Oh, but supposing it's true? Won't it be a go! Eh, what?

PETRISTCHEF (trembles) Oh, I'm afraid, I'm afraid! Marya Konstantinovna, I'm afraid! My tootsies tremble.

BETSY (laughing) Not so loud.

(All sit down.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. Take your seats, take your seats. Simon, sit down!

SIMON. Yes, sir. (Sits down on the edge of the chair).

LEONID FYODORITCH. Sit properly.

PROFESSOR. Sit straight in the middle of the chair, and quite at your ease. (Arranges Simon on his chair).

(Betsy, Marya Konstantinovna and Vasily Leoniditch laugh.)

LEONID FYODORITCH (raising his voice) I beg those who are going to remain here not to behave frivolously, but to regard this matter seriously, or bad results might follow. Do you hear, Vovo! If you can't be quiet, go away!

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Quite quiet! (Hides behind Fat Lady).

LEONID FYODORITCH. Alexey Vladimiritch, will you mesmerise him?

PROFESSOR. No; why should I do it when Anton Borisitch is here? He has had far more practice and has more power in that department than I.... Anton Borisitch!

GROSSMAN. Ladies and gentlemen, I am not, strictly speaking, a spiritualist. I have only studied hypnotism. It is true I have studied hypnotism in all its known manifestations; but what is called spiritualism, is entirely unknown to me. When a subject is thrown into a trance, I may expect the hypnotic phenomena known to me: lethargy, abulia, anæsthesia, analgesia, catalepsy, and every kind of susceptibility to suggestion. Here it is not these but other phenomena we expect to observe. Therefore it would be well to know of what kind are the phenomena we expect to witness, and what is their scientific significance.

SAHATOF. I thoroughly agree with Mr. Grossman. Such an explanation would be very interesting.

LEONID FYODORITCH. I think Alexey Vladimiritch will not refuse to give us a short explanation.

PROFESSOR. Why not? I can give an explanation if it is desired. (To the Doctor) Will you kindly note his temperature and pulse? My explanation must, of necessity, be cursory and brief.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, please; briefly, quite briefly.

DOCTOR. All right. (Takes out thermometer) Now then, my lad ... (Places the thermometer).

SIMON. Yes, sir!

PROFESSOR (rising and addressing the Fat Lady--then reseating himself) Ladies and gentlemen! The phenomenon we are investigating to-night is regarded, on the one hand, as something new; and, on the other, as something transcending the limits of natural conditions. Neither view is correct. This phenomenon is not new but is as old as the world; and it is not supernatural but is subject to the eternal laws that govern all that exists. This phenomenon has been usually defined as "intercourse with the spirit world." That definition is inexact. Under such a definition the spirit world is contrasted with the material world. But this is erroneous; there is no such contrast! Both worlds are so closely connected that it is impossible to draw a line of demarcation, separating the one from the other. We say, matter is composed of molecules ...

PETRISTCHEF. Prosy matter! (Whispering and laughter).

PROFESSOR (pauses, then continues) Molecules are composed of atoms, but the atoms, having no extension, are in reality nothing but the points of application of forces. Strictly speaking, not of forces but of energy, that same energy which is as much a unity and just as indestructible as matter. But matter, though one, has many different aspects, and the same is true of energy. Till recently only four forms of energy, convertible into one another, have been known to us: energies known as the dynamic, the thermal, the electric, and the chemic. But these four aspects of energy are far from exhausting all the varieties of its manifestation. The forms in which energy may manifest itself are very diverse, and it is one of these new and as yet but little known phases of energy, that we are investigating to-night. I refer to mediumistic energy.

(Renewed whispering and laughter among the young people.)

PROFESSOR (stops and casts a severe look round) Mediumistic energy has been known to mankind for ages: prophecy, presentiments, visions and so on, are nothing but manifestations of mediumistic energy. The manifestations produced by it have, I say, been known to mankind for ages. But the energy itself has not been recognised as such till quite recently--not till that medium, the vibrations of which cause the manifestations of mediumistic energy, was recognised. In the same way that the phenomena of light were inexplicable until the existence of an imponderable substance--an ether--was recognised, so mediumistic phenomena seemed mysterious until the now fully established fact was recognised, that between the particles of ether there exists another still more rarified imponderable substance not subject to the law of the three dimensions ...

(Renewed laughter, whispers, and giggling.)

PROFESSOR (again looks round severely) And just as mathematical calculations have irrefutably proved the existence of imponderable ether which gives rise to the phenomena of light and electricity, so the successive investigations of the ingenious Hermann, of Schmidt, and of Joseph Schmatzhofen, have confirmed beyond a doubt the existence of a substance which fills the universe and may be called spiritual ether.

FAT LADY. Ah, now I understand. I am so grateful ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, but Alexey Vladimiritch, could you not ... condense it a little?

PROFESSOR (not heeding the remark) And so, as I have just had the honour of mentioning to you, a succession of strictly scientific experiments have made plain to us the laws of mediumistic phenomena. These experiments have proved that, when certain individuals are plunged into a hypnotic state (a state differing from ordinary sleep only by the fact that man's physiological activity is not lowered by the hypnotic influence but, on the contrary, is always heightened--as we have recently witnessed) when, I say, any individual is plunged into such a state, this always produces certain perturbations in the spiritual ether--perturbations quite similar to those produced by plunging a solid body into liquid matter. These perturbations are what we call mediumistic phenomena ...

(Laughter, and whispers.)

SAHATOF. That is quite comprehensible and correct; but if, as you are kind enough to inform us, the plunging of the medium into a trance produces perturbations of the spiritual ether, allow me to ask why (as is usually supposed to be the case in spiritualistic seances) these perturbations result in an activity on the part of the souls of dead people?

PROFESSOR. It is because the molecules of this spiritual ether are nothing but the souls of the living, the dead, and the unborn, and any vibration of the spiritual ether must inevitably cause a certain vibration of its atoms. These atoms are nothing but human souls, which enter into communication with one another by means of these movements.

FAT LADY (to Sahatof) What is it that puzzles you? It is so simple.... Thank you so, so much!

LEONID FYODORITCH. I think everything has now been explained, and that we may commence.

DOCTOR. The fellow is in a perfectly normal condition: temperature 37 decimal 2, pulse 74.

PROFESSOR (takes out his pocket-book and notes this down) What I have just had the honour of explaining will be confirmed by the fact, which we shall presently have an opportunity of observing, that after the medium has been thrown into a trance his temperature and pulse will inevitably rise, just as occurs in cases of hypnotism.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, yes. But excuse me a moment. I should like to reply to Sergey Ivanitch's question: How do we know we are in communication with the souls of the dead? We know it because the spirit that appears, plainly tells us--as simply as I am speaking to you--who he is, and why he has come, and whether all is well with him! At our last seance a Spaniard, Don Castillos, came to us, and he told us everything. He told us who he was, and when he died, and that he was suffering for having taken part in the Inquisition. He even told us what was happening to him at the very time that he was speaking to us, namely, that at the very time he was talking to us he had to be born again on earth, and, therefore, could not continue his conversation with us.... But you'll see for yourselves ...

FAT LADY (interrupting) Oh, how interesting! Perhaps the Spaniard was born in one of our houses and is a baby now!

LEONID FYODORITCH. Quite possibly.

PROFESSOR. I think it is time we began.

LEONID FYODORITCH. I was only going to say ...

PROFESSOR. It is getting late.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Very well. Then we will commence. Anton Borisitch, be so good as to hypnotise the medium.

GROSSMAN. What method would you like me to use? There are several methods. There is Braid's system, there is the Egyptian symbol, and there is Charcot's system.

LEONID FYODORITCH (to the Professor) I think it is quite immaterial.

PROFESSOR. Quite.

GROSSMAN. Then I will make use of my own method, which I showed in Odessa.

LEONID FYODORITCH. If you please!

(Grossman waves his arms above Simon. Simon closes his eyes and stretches himself.)

GROSSMAN (looking closely at him) He is falling asleep! He is asleep! A remarkably rapid occurrence of hypnosis. The subject has evidently already reached a state of anæsthesia. He is remarkable,--an unusually impressionable subject, and might be subjected to interesting experiments!... (Sits down, rises, sits down again) Now one might run a needle into his arm. If you like ...

PROFESSOR (to Leonid Fyodoritch) Do you notice how the medium's trance acts on Grossman? He is beginning to vibrate.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, yes ... can the lights be extinguished now?

SAHATOF. But why is darkness necessary?

PROFESSOR. Darkness? Because it is a condition of the manifestation of mediumistic energy, just as a given temperature is a condition necessary for certain manifestations of chemical or dynamic energy.

LEONID FYODORITCH. But not always. Manifestations have been observed by me, and by many others, both by candlelight and daylight.

PROFESSOR (interrupting) May the lights be put out?

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, certainly. (Puts out candles) Ladies and gentlemen! attention, if you please.

(Tanya gets from under the sofa and takes hold of a thread tied to a chandelier.)

PETRISTCHEF. I like that Spaniard! Just in the midst of a conversation--off he goes head downwards ... as the French say: _piquer une tete_.(13)

(Note 13: To take a header.)

BETSY. You just wait a bit, and see what will happen!

PETRISTCHEF. I have only one fear, and that is that Vovo may be moved by the spirit to grunt like a pig!

VASILY LEONIDITCH. Would you like me to? I will ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. Gentlemen! Silence, if you please!

(Silence. Simon licks the matches on his fingers and rubs his knuckles with them.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. A light! Do you see the light?

SAHATOF. A light? Yes, yes, I see; but allow me ...

FAT LADY. Where? Where? Oh dear, I did not see it! Ah, there it is. Oh!...

PROFESSOR (whispers to Leonid Fyodoritch, and points to Grossman, who is moving) Do you notice how he vibrates? It is the dual influence. (The light appears again).

LEONID FYODORITCH (to the Professor) It must be he--you know!

SAHATOF. Who?

LEONID FYODORITCH. A Greek, Nicholas. It is his light. Don't you think so, Alexey Vladimiritch?

SAHATOF. Who is this Greek, Nicholas?

PROFESSOR. A certain Greek, who was a monk at Constantinople under Constantine and who has been visiting us lately.

FAT LADY. Where is he? Where is he? I don't see him.

LEONID FYODORITCH. He is not yet visible ... Alexey Vladimiritch, he is particularly well disposed towards you. You question him.

PROFESSOR (in a peculiar voice) Nicholas! Is that you?

(Tanya raps twice on the wall.)

LEONID FYODORITCH (joyfully) It is he! It is he!

FAT LADY. Oh dear! Oh! I shall go away!

SAHATOF. Why do you suppose it is he?

LEONID FYODORITCH. Why, the two knocks. It is an affirmative answer; else all would have been silence.

(Silence. Suppressed giggling in the young people's corner. Tanya throws a lampshade, pencil and penwiper upon the table.)

LEONID FYODORITCH (whispers) Do you notice, gentlemen, here is a lamp-shade, and something else--a pencil!... Alexey Vladimiritch, it is a pencil!

PROFESSOR. All right, all right! I am watching both him and Grossman!

(Grossman rises and feels the things that have fallen on the table.)

SAHATOF. Excuse me, excuse me! I should like to see whether it is not the medium who is doing it all himself?

LEONID FYODORITCH. Do you think so? Well, sit by him and hold his hands. But you may be sure he is asleep.

SAHATOF (approaches. Tanya lets a thread touch his head. He is frightened, and stoops). Ye ... ye ... yes! Strange, very strange! (Takes hold of Simon's elbow. Simon howls).

PROFESSOR (to Leonid Fyodoritch) Do you notice the effect of Grossman's presence? It is a new phenomenon--I must note it ... (Runs out to note it down, and returns again).

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes.... But we cannot leave Nicholas without an answer. We must begin ...

GROSSMAN (rises, approaches Simon and raises and lowers his arm) It would be interesting to produce contraction! The subject is in profound hypnosis.

PROFESSOR (to Leonid Fyodoritch) Do you see? Do you see?

GROSSMAN. If you like ...

DOCTOR. Now then, my dear sir, leave the management to Alexey Vladimiritch, the affair is turning out serious.

PROFESSOR. Leave him alone, he (referring to Grossman) is talking in his sleep!

FAT LADY. How glad I now am that I resolved to be present! It is frightening, but all the same I am glad, for I always said to my husband ...

LEONID FYODORITCH. Silence, if you please.

(Tanya draws a thread over the Fat Lady's head.)

FAT LADY. Aie!

LEONID FYODORITCH. What? What is it?

FAT LADY. He took hold of my hair!

LEONID FYODORITCH (whispers) Never mind, don't be afraid, give him your hand. His hand will be cold, but I like it.

FAT LADY (hides her hands) Not for the world!

SAHATOF. Yes, it is strange, very strange!

LEONID FYODORITCH. He is here and is seeking for intercourse. Who wishes to put a question to him?

SAHATOF. I should like to put a question, if I may.

PROFESSOR. Please do.

SAHATOF. Do I believe or not?

(Tanya knocks twice.)

PROFESSOR. The answer is affirmative.

SAHATOF. Allow me to ask again. Have I a ten rouble note in my pocket?

(Tanya knocks several times and passes a thread over Sahatof's head.)

SAHATOF. Ah! (Seizes the thread and breaks it).

PROFESSOR. I should ask those present not to ask indefinite or trivial questions. It is unpleasant to _him_!

SAHATOF. No, but allow me! Here I have a thread in my hand!

LEONID FYODORITCH. A thread? Hold it fast; that happens often, and not only threads but sometimes even silk cords--very ancient ones!

SAHATOF. No--but where did this thread come from?

(Tanya throws a cushion at him.)

SAHATOF. Wait a bit; wait! Something soft has hit me on the head. Light a candle--there is something ...

PROFESSOR. We beg of you not to interrupt the manifestations.

FAT LADY. For goodness' sake don't interrupt! I should also like to ask something. May I?

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, if you like.

FAT LADY. I should like to ask about my digestion. May I? I want to know what to take: aconite or belladonna?

(Silence, whispers among the young people; suddenly Vasily
Leoniditch begins to cry like a baby: "ou-a, ou-a!"
(Laughter.) Holding their mouths and noses, the girls
and Petristchef run away bursting with laughter.)


FAT LADY. Ah, that must be the monk who's been born again!

LEONID FYODORITCH (beside himself with anger, whispers) One gets nothing but tomfoolery from you! If you don't know how to behave decently, go away!

(Exit Vasily Leoniditch. Darkness and silence.)

FAT LADY. Oh, what a pity! Now one can't ask any more! He is born!

LEONID FYODORITCH. Not at all. It is only Vovo's nonsense. But _he is here. Ask him.

PROFESSOR. That often happens. These jokes and ridicule are quite usual occurrences. I expect _he is still here. But we may ask. Leonid Fyodoritch, will you?

LEONID FYODORITCH. No, you, if you please. This has upset me. So unpleasant! Such want of tact!...

PROFESSOR. Very well.... Nicholas, are you here?

(Tanya raps twice and rings. Simon roars, spreads his arms out,
seizes Sahatof and the Professor--squeezing them.)


PROFESSOR. What an unexpected phenomenon! The medium himself reacted upon! This never happened before! Leonid Fyodoritch, will you watch? It is difficult for me to do so. He squeezes me so! Mind you observe Grossman! This needs the very greatest attention!

(Tanya throws the peasants' paper on the table.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. Something has fallen upon the table.

PROFESSOR. See what it is!

LEONID FYODORITCH. Paper! A folded paper!

(Tanya throws a travelling inkstand on the table.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. An inkstand!

(Tanya throws a pen.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. A pen!

(Simon roars and squeezes.)

PROFESSOR (crushed) Wait a bit, wait: a totally new manifestation! The action proceeding not from the mediumistic energy produced, but from the medium himself! However, open the inkstand, and put the pen on the table, and _he will write!

(Tanya goes behind Leonid Fyodoritch and strikes him on the head with the guitar.)

LEONID FYODORITCH. He has struck me on the head! (Examining table) The pen is not writing yet and the paper remains folded.

PROFESSOR. See what the paper is, and quickly; evidently the dual influence--his and Grossman's--has produced a perturbation!

LEONID FYODORITCH (goes out and returns at once) Extraordinary! This paper is an agreement with some peasants that I refused to sign this morning and returned to the peasants. Probably _he wants me to sign it?

PROFESSOR. Of course! Of course! But ask him.

LEONID FYODORITCH. Nicholas, do you wish ...

(Tanya knocks twice.)

PROFESSOR. Do you hear? It is quite evident!

(Leonid Fyodoritch takes the paper and pen and goes out.
Tanya knocks, plays on the guitar and the accordion, and
then creeps under the sofa. Leonid Fyodoritch returns.
Simon stretches himself and coughs.)


LEONID FYODORITCH. He is waking up. We can light the candles.

PROFESSOR (hurriedly) Doctor, Doctor, please, his pulse and temperature! You will see that a rise of both will be apparent.

LEONID FYODORITCH (lights the candles) Well, what do you gentlemen who were sceptical think of it now?

DOCTOR (goes up to Simon and places thermometer) Now then my lad. Well, have you had a nap? There, put that in there, and give me your hand. (Looks at his watch).

SAHATOF (shrugging his shoulders) I must admit that all that has occurred cannot have been done by the medium. But the thread?... I should like the thread explained.

LEONID FYODORITCH. A thread! A thread! We have been witnessing manifestations more important than a thread.

SAHATOF. I don't know. At all events, _je reserve mon opinion_.

FAT LADY (to Sahatof) Oh no, how can you say: "_je reserve mon opinion?_" And the infant with the little wings? Didn't you see? At first I thought it was only an illusion, but afterwards it became clearer and clearer, like a live ...

SAHATOF. I can only speak of what I have seen. I did not see that--nothing of the kind.

FAT LADY. You don't mean to say so? Why, it was quite plainly visible! And to the left there was a monk clothed in black bending over it ...

SAHATOF (moves away. Aside) What exaggeration!

FAT LADY (addressing the Doctor) You must have seen it! It rose up from your side.

(Doctor goes on counting pulse without heeding her.)

FAT LADY (to Grossman) And that light, the light around it, especially around its little face! And the expression so mild and tender, something so heavenly! (Smiles tenderly herself).

GROSSMAN. I saw phosphorescent light, and objects changed their places, but I saw nothing more than that.

FAT LADY. Don't tell me! You don't mean it! It is simply that you scientists of Charcot's school do not believe in a life beyond the grave! As for me, no one could now make me disbelieve in a future life--no one in the world!

(Grossman moves away from her.)

FAT LADY. No, no, whatever you may say, this is one of the happiest moments of my life! When I heard Sarasate play, and now.... Yes! (No one listens to her. She goes up to Simon) Now tell me, my friend, what did you feel? Was it very trying?

SIMON (laughs) Yes, ma'm, just so.

FAT LADY. Still not unendurable?

SIMON. Just so, ma'm. (To Leonid Fyodoritch) Am I to go?

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, you may go.

DOCTOR (to the Professor) The pulse is the same, but the temperature is lower.

PROFESSOR. Lower! (Considers awhile, then suddenly divines the conclusion) It had to be so--it had to descend! The dual influence crossing had to produce some kind of reflex action. Yes, that's it!

(Exeunt, all talking at once.)


{ LEONID FYODORITCH. I'm only sorry we had no complete
{ materialisation. But still.... Come, gentlemen, let us go to the
{ drawing-room?
{
{ FAT LADY. What specially struck me was when he flapped his wings,
{ and one saw how he rose!
{
{ GROSSMAN (to Sahatof) If we had kept to hypnotism, we might have
{ produced a thorough state of epilepsy. The success might have been
{ complete!
{
{ SAHATOF. It is very interesting, but not entirely convincing. That
{ is all I can say.

(Enter Theodore Ivanitch.)


LEONID FYODORITCH (with paper in his hand) Ah, Theodore, what a remarkable seance we have had! It turns out that the peasants must have the land on their own terms.

THEODORE IVANITCH. Dear me!

LEONID FYODORITCH. Yes, indeed. (Showing paper) Fancy, this paper that I returned to them, suddenly appeared on the table! I have signed it.

THEODORE IVANITCH. How did it get there?

LEONID FYODORITCH. Well, it did get there! (Exit, Theodore Ivanitch follows him out).

TANYA (gets from under the sofa and laughs) Oh dear, oh dear! Well, I did get a fright when he got hold of the thread! (Shrieks) Well, anyhow, it's all right--he has signed it!

(Enter Gregory.)

GREGORY. So it was you that was fooling them?

TANYA. What business is it of yours?

GREGORY. And do you think the missis will be pleased with you for it? No, you bet; you're caught now! I'll tell them what tricks you're up to, if you don't let me have my way!

TANYA. And you'll not get your way, and you'll not do me any harm!

(Curtain.)

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