The dining-room of SORIN'S house. Doors open out of it to the
right and left. A table stands in the centre of the room. Trunks
and boxes encumber the floor, and preparations for departure are
evident. TRIGORIN is sitting at a table eating his breakfast, and
MASHA is standing beside him.
I am telling you all these things because you write books
and they may be useful to you. I tell you honestly, I should not
have lived another day if he had wounded himself fatally. Yet I
am courageous; I have decided to tear this love of mine out of my
heart by the roots.
Oh, if you knew what it is to love without hope for years
and years, to wait for ever for something that will never come! I
shall not marry for love, but marriage will at least be a change,
and will bring new cares to deaden the memories of the past.
Shall we have another drink?
Fiddlesticks! [She fills a glass] Don't look at me with
that expression on your face. Women drink oftener than you
imagine, but most of them do it in secret, and not openly, as I
do. They do indeed, and it is always either vodka or brandy.
[They touch glasses] To your good health! You are so easy to get
on with that I am sorry to see you go. [They drink.]
She would not do that now. Her son has been behaving
outrageously. First he attempted suicide, and now I hear he is
going to challenge me to a duel, though what his provocation may
be I can't imagine. He is always sulking and sneering and
preaching about a new form of art, as if the field of art were
not large enough to accommodate both old and new without the
necessity of jostling.
It is jealousy. However, that is none of my business. [A
pause. JACOB walks through the room carrying a trunk; NINA comes
in and stands by the window] That schoolteacher of mine is none
too clever, but he is very good, poor man, and he loves me
dearly, and I am sorry for him. However, let me say good-bye and
wish you a pleasant journey. Remember me kindly in your thoughts.
[She shakes hands with him] Thanks for your goodwill. Send me
your books, and be sure to write something in them; nothing
formal, but simply this: "To Masha, who, forgetful of her origin,
for some unknown reason is living in this world." Good-bye. [She
NINA [Holding out her closed hand to TRIGORIN] Is it odd or
NINA [With a sigh] No, it is odd. I had only one pea in my hand.
I wanted to see whether I was to become an actress or not. If
only some one would advise me what to do!
One cannot give advice in a case like this. [A pause.]
We shall soon part, perhaps never to meet again. I should
like you to accept this little medallion as a remembrance of me.
I have had your initials engraved on it, and on this side is the
name of one of your books: "Days and Nights."
How sweet of you! [He kisses the medallion] It is a
I shall never forget you. I shall always remember you
as I saw you that bright day--do you recall it?--a week ago, when
you wore your light dress, and we talked together, and the white
seagull lay on the bench beside us.
NINA [Lost in thought] Yes, the sea-gull. [A pause] I beg you to
let me see you alone for two minutes before you go.
She goes out to the left. At the same moment ARKADINA comes in
from the right, followed by SORIN in a long coat, with his orders
on his breast, and by JACOB, who is busy packing.
Stay here at home, you poor old man. How could you pay
visits with that rheumatism of yours? [To TRIGORIN] Who left the
room just now, was it Nina?
Oh, nothing in particular, but somehow-- [He laughs] They
are soon to lay the corner-stone of the new court-house here. How
I should like to leap out of this minnow-pond, if but for an hour
or two! I am tired of lying here like an old cigarette stump. I
have ordered the carriage for one o'clock. We can go away
ARKADINA [After a pause] No, you must stay here. Don't be
lonely, and don't catch cold. Keep an eye on my boy. Take good
care of him; guide him along the proper paths. [A pause] I am
going away, and so shall never find out why Constantine shot
himself, but I think the chief reason was jealousy, and the
sooner I take Trigorin away, the better.
There were--how shall I explain it to you?--other reasons
besides jealousy for his act. Here is a clever young chap living
in the depths of the country, without money or position, with no
future ahead of him, and with nothing to do. He is ashamed and
afraid of being so idle. I am devoted to him and he is fond of
me, but nevertheless he feels that he is useless here, that he is
little more than a dependent in this house. It is the pride in
He is a misery to me! [Thoughtfully] He might possibly
enter the army.
SORIN [Gives a whistle, and then speaks with hesitation] It
seems to me that the best thing for him would be if you were to
let him have a little money. For one thing, he ought to be
allowed to dress like a human being. See how he looks! Wearing
the same little old coat that he has had for three years, and he
doesn't even possess an overcoat! [Laughing] And it wouldn't hurt
the youngster to sow a few wild oats; let him go abroad, say, for
a time. It wouldn't cost much.
Yes, but-- However, I think I might manage about his
clothes, but I couldn't let him go abroad. And no, I don't think
I can let him have his clothes even, now. [Decidedly] I have no
money at present.
If I had any money of course I should let him have some
myself, but I haven't even a penny. The farm manager takes my
pension from me and puts it all into the farm or into cattle or
bees, and in that way it is always lost for ever. The bees die,
the cows die, they never let me have a horse.
Of course I have some money, but I am an actress and my
expenses for dress alone are enough to bankrupt me.
You are a dear, and I am very fond of you, indeed I am.
But something is the matter with me again. [He staggers] I feel
giddy. [He leans against the table] I feel faint, and all.
ARKADINA [Frightened ] Peter! [She tries to support him] Peter!
dearest! [She calls] Help! Help!
TREPLIEFF and MEDVIEDENKO come in; TREPLIEFF has a bandage around
Yes, he promised to be here at nine, and now it is
Sit down. [She takes the bandage off his head] You look
as if you had a turban on. A stranger that was in the kitchen
yesterday asked to what nationality you belonged. Your wound is
almost healed. [She kisses his head] You won't be up to any more
of these silly tricks again, will you, when I am gone?
No, mother. I did that in a moment of insane despair,
when I had lost all control over myself. It will never happen
again. [He kisses her hand] Your touch is golden. I remember when
you were still acting at the State Theatre, long ago, when I was
still a little chap, there was a fight one day in our court, and
a poor washerwoman was almost beaten to death. She was picked up
unconscious, and you nursed her till she was well, and bathed her
children in the washtubs. Have you forgotten it?
Yes, entirely. [She puts on a new bandage.]
Two ballet dancers lived in the same house, and they
used to come and drink coffee with you.
They were very pious. [A pause] I love you again,
these last few days, as tenderly and trustingly as I did as a
child. I have no one left me now but you. Why, why do you let
yourself be controlled by that man?
You don't understand him, Constantine. He has a
wonderfully noble personality.
Nevertheless, when he has been told that I wish to
challenge him to a duel his nobility does not prevent him from
playing the coward. He is about to beat an ignominious retreat.
What nonsense! I have asked him myself to go.
A noble personality indeed! Here we are almost
quarrelling over him, and he is probably in the garden laughing
at us at this very moment, or else enlightening Nina's mind and
trying to persuade her into thinking him a man of genius.
You enjoy saying unpleasant things to me. I have the
greatest respect for that man, and I must ask you not to speak
ill of him in my presence.
I have no respect for him at all. You want me to think
him a genius, as you do, but I refuse to lie: his books make me
You envy him. There is nothing left for people with no
talent and mighty pretensions to do but to criticise those who
are really gifted. I hope you enjoy the consolation it brings.
TREPLIEFF [With irony] Those who are really gifted, indeed!
[Angrily] I am cleverer than any of you, if it comes to that! [He
tears the bandage off his head] You are the slaves of convention,
you have seized the upper hand and now lay down as law everything
that you do; all else you strangle and trample on. I refuse to
accept your point of view, yours and his, I refuse!
ARKADINA [Walking up and down in great excitement] Don't cry!
You mustn't cry! [She bursts into tears] You really mustn't. [She
kisses his forehead, his cheeks, his head] My darling child,
forgive me. Forgive your wicked mother.
TREPLIEFF [Embracing her] Oh, if you could only know what it is
to have lost everything under heaven! She does not love me. I see
I shall never be able to write. Every hope has deserted me.
Don't despair. This will all pass. He is going away
to-day, and she will love you once more. [She wipes away his
tears] Stop crying. We have made peace again.
ARKADINA [Tenderly] Make your peace with him, too. Don't fight
with him. You surely won't fight?
I won't, but you must not insist on my seeing him
again, mother, I couldn't stand it. [TRIGORIN comes in] There he
is; I am going. [He quickly puts the medicines away in the
cupboard] The doctor will attend to my head.
TRIGORIN [Looking through the pages of a book] Page 121, lines
11 and 12; here it is. [He reads] "If at any time you should have
need of my life, come and take it."
TREPLIEFF picks up the bandage off the floor and goes out.
ARKADINA [Looking at her watch] The carriage will soon be here.
TRIGORIN [To himself] If at any time you should have need of my
life, come and take it.
TRIGORIN [Impatiently] Yes, yes. [In deep thought] Why do I hear
a note of sadness that wrings my heart in this cry of a pure
soul? If at any time you should have need of my life, come and
take it. [To ARKADINA] Let us stay here one more day!
I know, dearest, what keeps you here, but you must
control yourself. Be sober; your emotions have intoxicated you a
You must be sober, too. Be sensible; look upon what has
happened as a true friend would. [Taking her hand] You are
capable of self-sacrifice. Be a friend to me and release me!
ARKADINA [In deep excitement] Are you so much in love?
I am irresistibly impelled toward her. It may be that
this is just what I need.
What, the love of a country girl? Oh, how little you
People sometimes walk in their sleep, and so I feel as
if I were asleep, and dreaming of her as I stand here talking to
you. My imagination is shaken by the sweetest and most glorious
visions. Release me!
ARKADINA [Shuddering] No, no! I am only an ordinary woman; you
must not say such things to me. Do not torment me, Boris; you
You could be an extraordinary woman if you only would.
Love alone can bring happiness on earth, love the enchanting, the
poetical love of youth, that sweeps away the sorrows of the
world. I had no time for it when I was young and struggling with
want and laying siege to the literary fortress, but now at last
this love has come to me. I see it beckoning; why should I fly?
You have all conspired together to torture me to-day.
TRIGORIN [Clutching his head desperately] She doesn't understand
me! She won't understand me!
Am I then so old and ugly already that you can talk to
me like this without any shame about another woman? [She embraces
and kisses him] Oh, you have lost your senses! My splendid, my
glorious friend, my love for you is the last chapter of my life.
[She falls on her knees] You are my pride, my joy, my light. [She
embraces his knees] I could never endure it should you desert me,
if only for an hour; I should go mad. Oh, my wonder, my marvel,
Some one might come in. [He helps her to rise.]
Let them come! I am not ashamed of my love. [She kisses
his hands] My jewel! My despair! You want to do a foolish thing,
but I don't want you to do it. I shan't let you do it! [She
laughs] You are mine, you are mine! This forehead is mine, these
eyes are mine, this silky hair is mine. All your being is mine.
You are so clever, so wise, the first of all living writers; you
are the only hope of your country. You are so fresh, so simple,
so deeply humourous. You can bring out every feature of a man or
of a landscape in a single line, and your characters live and
breathe. Do you think that these words are but the incense of
flattery? Do you think I am not speaking the truth? Come, look
into my eyes; look deep; do you find lies there? No, you see that
I alone know how to treasure you. I alone tell you the truth. Oh,
my very dear, you will go with me? You will? You will not forsake
I have no will of my own; I never had. I am too
indolent, too submissive, too phlegmatic, to have any. Is it
possible that women like that? Take me. Take me away with you,
but do not let me stir a step from your side.
ARKADINA [To herself] Now he is mine! [Carelessly, as if nothing
unusual had happened] Of course you must stay here if you really
want to. I shall go, and you can follow in a week's time. Yes,
really, why should you hurry away?
As you like. Let us go together then. [A pause.
TRIGORIN writes something in his note-book] What are you writing?
A happy expression I heard this morning: "A grove of
maiden pines." It may be useful. [He yawns] So we are really off
again, condemned once more to railway carriages, to stations and
restaurants, to Hamburger steaks and endless arguments!
I am sorry to have to inform you that your carriage is
at the door. It is time to start, honoured madam, the train
leaves at two-five. Would you be kind enough, madam, to remember
to inquire for me where Suzdaltzeff the actor is now? Is he still
alive, I wonder? Is he well? He and I have had many a jolly time
together. He was inimitable in "The Stolen Mail." A tragedian
called Izmailoff was in the same company, I remember, who was
also quite remarkable. Don't hurry, madam, you still have five
minutes. They were both of them conspirators once, in the same
melodrama, and one night when in the course of the play they were
suddenly discovered, instead of saying "We have been trapped!"
Izmailoff cried out: "We have been rapped!" [He laughs] Rapped!
While he has been talking JACOB has been busy with the trunks,
and the maid has brought ARKADINA her hat, coat, parasol, and
gloves. The cook looks hesitatingly through the door on the
right, and finally comes into the room. PAULINA comes in.
MEDVIEDENKO comes in.
PAULINA [Presenting ARKADINA with a little basket] Here are some
plums for the journey. They are very sweet ones. You may want to
nibble something good on the way.
Good-bye, my dearie. If things have not been quite as
you could have wished, please forgive us. [She weeps.]
It has been delightful, delightful. You mustn't cry.
SORIN comes in through the door on the left, dressed in a long
coat with a cape, and carrying his hat and cane. He crosses the
Come, sister, it is time to start, unless you want to miss
the train. I am going to get into the carriage. [He goes out.]
I shall walk quickly to the station and see you off
there. [He goes out.]
Good-bye, all! We shall meet again next summer if we
live. [The maid servant, JACOB, and the cook kiss her hand] Don't
forget me. [She gives the cook a rouble] There is a rouble for
all three of you.
Thank you, mistress; a pleasant journey to you.
Send us a line to cheer us up. [TO TRIGORIN] Good-bye,
Where is Constantine? Tell him I am starting. I must
say good-bye to him. [To JACOB] I gave the cook a rouble for all
three of you.
All go out through the door on the right. The stage remains
empty. Sounds of farewell are heard. The maid comes running back
to fetch the basket of plums which has been forgotten. TRIGORIN
I had forgotten my cane. I think I left it on the
terrace. [He goes toward the door on the right and meets NINA,
who comes in at that moment] Is that you? We are off.
I knew we should meet again. [With emotion] I have come to
an irrevocable decision, the die is cast: I am going on the
stage. I am deserting my father and abandoning everything. I am
beginning life anew. I am going, as you are, to Moscow. We shall
TRIGORIN [Glancing about him] Go to the Hotel Slavianski Bazar.
Let me know as soon as you get there. I shall be at the
Grosholski House in Moltchanofka Street. I must go now. [A
TRIGORIN [In a low voice] You are so beautiful! What bliss to
think that I shall see you again so soon! [She sinks on his
breast] I shall see those glorious eyes again, that wonderful,
ineffably tender smile, those gentle features with their
expression of angelic purity! My darling! [A prolonged kiss.]