[A reception-room cut off from a drawing-room by an arch. Chandelier lighted. A Jewish band, the one mentioned in Act II, is heard playing in another room. Evening. In the drawing-room the grand rond is being danced. Voice of SIMEONOV PISCHIN "Promenade a une paire!" Dancers come into the reception-room; the first pair are PISCHIN and CHARLOTTA IVANOVNA; the second, TROFIMOV and LUBOV ANDREYEVNA; the third, ANYA and the POST OFFICE CLERK; the fourth, VARYA and the STATION-MASTER, and so on. VARYA is crying gently and wipes away her tears as she dances. DUNYASHA is in the last pair. They go off into the drawing-room, PISCHIN shouting, "Grand rond, balancez:" and "Les cavaliers à genou et remerciez vos dames!" FIERS, in a dress-coat, carries a tray with seltzer-water across. Enter PISCHIN and TROFIMOV from the drawing-room.]
PISCHIN. I'm full-blooded and have already had two strokes; it's hard for me to dance, but, as they say, if you're in Rome, you must do as Rome does. I've got the strength of a horse. My dead father, who liked a joke, peace to his bones, used to say, talking of our ancestors, that the ancient stock of the Simeonov-Pischins was descended from that identical horse that Caligula made a senator.... [Sits] But the trouble is, I've no money! A hungry dog only believes in meat. [Snores and wakes up again immediately] So I... only believe in money....
TROFIMOV. Yes. There is something equine about your figure.
PISCHIN. Well... a horse is a fine animal... you can sell a horse.
[Billiard playing can be heard in the next room. VARYA appears under the arch.]
TROFIMOV. [Teasing] Madame Lopakhin! Madame Lopakhin!
VARYA. [Angry] Decayed gentleman!
TROFIMOV. Yes, I am a decayed gentleman, and I'm proud of it!
VARYA. [Bitterly] We've hired the musicians, but how are they to be paid? [Exit.]
TROFIMOV. [To PISCHIN] If the energy which you, in the course of your life, have spent in looking for money to pay interest had been used for something else, then, I believe, after all, you'd be able to turn everything upside down.
PISCHIN. Nietzsche... a philosopher... a very great, a most celebrated man... a man of enormous brain, says in his books that you can forge bank-notes.
TROFIMOV. And have you read Nietzsche?
PISCHIN. Well... Dashenka told me. Now I'm in such a position, I wouldn't mind forging them... I've got to pay 310 roubles the day after to-morrow... I've got 130 already.... [Feels his pockets, nervously] I've lost the money! The money's gone! [Crying] Where's the money? [Joyfully] Here it is behind the lining... I even began to perspire.
[Enter LUBOV ANDREYEVNA and CHARLOTTA IVANOVNA.]
LUBOV. [Humming a Caucasian dance] Why is Leonid away so long? What's he doing in town? [To DUNYASHA] Dunyasha, give the musicians some tea.
TROFIMOV. Business is off, I suppose.
LUBOV. And the musicians needn't have come, and we needn't have got up this ball.... Well, never mind.... [Sits and sings softly.]
CHARLOTTA. [Gives a pack of cards to PISCHIN] Here's a pack of cards, think of any one card you like.
PISCHIN. I've thought of one.
CHARLOTTA. Now shuffle. All right, now. Give them here, oh my dear Mr. Pischin. Ein, zwei, drei! Now look and you'll find it in your coat-tail pocket.
PISCHIN. [Takes a card out of his coat-tail pocket] Eight of spades, quite right! [Surprised] Think of that now!
CHARLOTTA. [Holds the pack of cards on the palm of her hand. To TROFIMOV] Now tell me quickly. What's the top card?
TROFIMOV. Well, the queen of spades.
CHARLOTTA. Right! [To PISCHIN] Well now? What card's on top?
PISCHIN. Ace of hearts.
CHARLOTTA. Right! [Claps her hands, the pack of cards vanishes] How lovely the weather is to-day. [A mysterious woman's voice answers her, as if from under the floor, "Oh yes, it's lovely weather, madam."] You are so beautiful, you are my ideal. [Voice, "You, madam, please me very much too."]
STATION-MASTER. [Applauds] Madame ventriloquist, bravo!
PISCHIN. [Surprised] Think of that, now! Delightful, Charlotte Ivanovna... I'm simply in love....
CHARLOTTA. In love? [Shrugging her shoulders] Can you love? Guter Mensch aber schlechter Musikant.
TROFIMOV. [Slaps PISCHIN on the shoulder] Oh, you horse!
CHARLOTTA. Attention please, here's another trick. [Takes a shawl from a chair] Here's a very nice plaid shawl, I'm going to sell it.... [Shakes it] Won't anybody buy it?
PISCHIN. [Astonished] Think of that now!
CHARLOTTA. Ein, zwei, drei.
[She quickly lifts up the shawl, which is hanging down. ANYA is standing behind it; she bows and runs to her mother, hugs her and runs back to the drawing-room amid general applause.]
LUBOV. [Applauds] Bravo, bravo!
CHARLOTTA. Once again! Ein, zwei, drei!
[Lifts the shawl. VARYA stands behind it and bows.]
PISCHIN. [Astonished] Think of that, now.
CHARLOTTA. The end!
[Throws the shawl at PISCHIN, curtseys and runs into the drawing-room.]
PISCHIN. [Runs after her] Little wretch.... What? Would you? [Exit.]
LUBOV. Leonid hasn't come yet. I don't understand what he's doing so long in town! Everything must be over by now. The estate must be sold; or, if the sale never came off, then why does he stay so long?
VARYA. [Tries to soothe her] Uncle has bought it. I'm certain of it.
TROFIMOV. [Sarcastically] Oh, yes!
VARYA. Grandmother sent him her authority for him to buy it in her name and transfer the debt to her. She's doing it for Anya. And I'm certain that God will help us and uncle will buy it.
LUBOV. Grandmother sent fifteen thousand roubles from Yaroslav to buy the property in her name—she won't trust us—and that wasn't even enough to pay the interest. [Covers her face with her hands] My fate will be settled to-day, my fate....
TROFIMOV. [Teasing VARYA] Madame Lopakhin!
VARYA. [Angry] Eternal student! He's already been expelled twice from the university.
LUBOV. Why are you getting angry, Varya? He's teasing you about Lopakhin, well what of it? You can marry Lopakhin if you want to, he's a good, interesting man.... You needn't if you don't want to; nobody wants to force you against your will, my darling.
VARYA. I do look at the matter seriously, little mother, to be quite frank. He's a good man, and I like him.
LUBOV. Then marry him. I don't understand what you're waiting for.
VARYA. I can't propose to him myself, little mother. People have been talking about him to me for two years now, but he either says nothing, or jokes about it. I understand. He's getting rich, he's busy, he can't bother about me. If I had some money, even a little, even only a hundred roubles, I'd throw up everything and go away. I'd go into a convent.
TROFIMOV. How nice!
VARYA. [To TROFIMOV] A student ought to have sense! [Gently, in tears] How ugly you are now, Peter, how old you've grown! [To LUBOV ANDREYEVNA, no longer crying] But I can't go on without working, little mother. I want to be doing something every minute.
YASHA. [Nearly laughing] Epikhodov's broken a billiard cue! [Exit.]
VARYA. Why is Epikhodov here? Who said he could play billiards? I don't understand these people. [Exit.]
LUBOV. Don't tease her, Peter, you see that she's quite unhappy without that.
TROFIMOV. She takes too much on herself, she keeps on interfering in other people's business. The whole summer she's given no peace to me or to Anya, she's afraid we'll have a romance all to ourselves. What has it to do with her? As if I'd ever given her grounds to believe I'd stoop to such vulgarity! We are above love.
LUBOV. Then I suppose I must be beneath love. [In agitation] Why isn't Leonid here? If I only knew whether the estate is sold or not! The disaster seems to me so improbable that I don't know what to think, I'm all at sea... I may scream... or do something silly. Save me, Peter. Say something, say something.
TROFIMOV. Isn't it all the same whether the estate is sold to-day or isn't? It's been all up with it for a long time; there's no turning back, the path's grown over. Be calm, dear, you shouldn't deceive yourself, for once in your life at any rate you must look the truth straight in the face.
LUBOV. What truth? You see where truth is, and where untruth is, but I seem to have lost my sight and see nothing. You boldly settle all important questions, but tell me, dear, isn't it because you're young, because you haven't had time to suffer till you settled a single one of your questions? You boldly look forward, isn't it because you cannot foresee or expect anything terrible, because so far life has been hidden from your young eyes? You are bolder, more honest, deeper than we are, but think only, be just a little magnanimous, and have mercy on me. I was born here, my father and mother lived here, my grandfather too, I love this house. I couldn't understand my life without that cherry orchard, and if it really must be sold, sell me with it! [Embraces TROFIMOV, kisses his forehead]. My son was drowned here.... [Weeps] Have pity on me, good, kind man.
TROFIMOV. You know I sympathize with all my soul.
LUBOV. Yes, but it ought to be said differently, differently.... [Takes another handkerchief, a telegram falls on the floor] I'm so sick at heart to-day, you can't imagine. Here it's so noisy, my soul shakes at every sound. I shake all over, and I can't go away by myself, I'm afraid of the silence. Don't judge me harshly, Peter... I loved you, as if you belonged to my family. I'd gladly let Anya marry you, I swear it, only dear, you ought to work, finish your studies. You don't do anything, only fate throws you about from place to place, it's so odd.... Isn't it true? Yes? And you ought to do something to your beard to make it grow better [Laughs] You are funny!
TROFIMOV. [Picking up telegram] I don't want to be a Beau Brummel.
LUBOV. This telegram's from Paris. I get one every day. Yesterday and to-day. That wild man is ill again, he's bad again.... He begs for forgiveness, and implores me to come, and I really ought to go to Paris to be near him. You look severe, Peter, but what can I do, my dear, what can I do; he's ill, he's alone, unhappy, and who's to look after him, who's to keep him away from his errors, to give him his medicine punctually? And why should I conceal it and say nothing about it; I love him, that's plain, I love him, I love him.... That love is a stone round my neck; I'm going with it to the bottom, but I love that stone and can't live without it. [Squeezes TROFIMOV'S hand] Don't think badly of me, Peter, don't say anything to me, don't say...
TROFIMOV. [Weeping] For God's sake forgive my speaking candidly, but that man has robbed you!
LUBOV. No, no, no, you oughtn't to say that! [Stops her ears.]
TROFIMOV. But he's a wretch, you alone don't know it! He's a petty thief, a nobody....
LUBOV. [Angry, but restrained] You're twenty-six or twenty-seven, and still a schoolboy of the second class!
TROFIMOV. Why not!
LUBOV. You ought to be a man, at your age you ought to be able to understand those who love. And you ought to be in love yourself, you must fall in love! [Angry] Yes, yes! You aren't pure, you're just a freak, a queer fellow, a funny growth...
TROFIMOV. [In horror] What is she saying!
LUBOV. "I'm above love!" You're not above love, you're just what our Fiers calls a bungler. Not to have a mistress at your age!
TROFIMOV. [In horror] This is awful! What is she saying? [Goes quickly up into the drawing-room, clutching his head] It's awful... I can't stand it, I'll go away. [Exit, but returns at once] All is over between us! [Exit.]
LUBOV. [Shouts after him] Peter, wait! Silly man, I was joking! Peter! [Somebody is heard going out and falling downstairs noisily. ANYA and VARYA scream; laughter is heard immediately] What's that?
[ANYA comes running in, laughing.]
ANYA. Peter's fallen downstairs! [Runs out again.]
LUBOV. This Peter's a marvel.
[The STATION-MASTER stands in the middle of the drawing-room and recites "The Magdalen" by Tolstoy. He is listened to, but he has only delivered a few lines when a waltz is heard from the front room, and the recitation is stopped. Everybody dances. TROFIMOV, ANYA, VARYA, and LUBOV ANDREYEVNA come in from the front room.]
LUBOV. Well, Peter... you pure soul... I beg your pardon... let's dance.
[She dances with PETER. ANYA and VARYA dance. FIERS enters and stands his stick by a side door. YASHA has also come in and looks on at the dance.]
YASHA. Well, grandfather?
FIERS. I'm not well. At our balls some time back, generals and barons and admirals used to dance, and now we send for post-office clerks and the Station-master, and even they come as a favour. I'm very weak. The dead master, the grandfather, used to give everybody sealing-wax when anything was wrong. I've taken sealing-wax every day for twenty years, and more; perhaps that's why I still live.
YASHA. I'm tired of you, grandfather. [Yawns] If you'd only hurry up and kick the bucket.
FIERS. Oh you... bungler! [Mutters.]
[TROFIMOV and LUBOV ANDREYEVNA dance in the reception-room, then into the sitting-room.]
LUBOV. Merci. I'll sit down. [Sits] I'm tired.
ANYA. [Excited] Somebody in the kitchen was saying just now that the cherry orchard was sold to-day.
LUBOV. Sold to whom?
ANYA. He didn't say to whom. He's gone now. [Dances out into the reception-room with TROFIMOV.]
YASHA. Some old man was chattering about it a long time ago. A stranger!
FIERS. And Leonid Andreyevitch isn't here yet, he hasn't come. He's wearing a light, demi-saison overcoat. He'll catch cold. Oh these young fellows.
LUBOV. I'll die of this. Go and find out, Yasha, to whom it's sold.
YASHA. Oh, but he's been gone a long time, the old man. [Laughs.]
LUBOV. [Slightly vexed] Why do you laugh? What are you glad about?
YASHA. Epikhodov's too funny. He's a silly man. Two-and-twenty troubles.
LUBOV. Fiers, if the estate is sold, where will you go?
FIERS. I'll go wherever you order me to go.
LUBOV. Why do you look like that? Are you ill? I think you ought to go to bed....
FIERS. Yes... [With a smile] I'll go to bed, and who'll hand things round and give orders without me? I've the whole house on my shoulders.
YASHA. [To LUBOV ANDREYEVNA] Lubov Andreyevna! I want to ask a favour of you, if you'll be so kind! If you go to Paris again, then please take me with you. It's absolutely impossible for me to stop here. [Looking round; in an undertone] What's the good of talking about it, you see for yourself that this is an uneducated country, with an immoral population, and it's so dull. The food in the kitchen is beastly, and here's this Fiers walking about mumbling various inappropriate things. Take me with you, be so kind!
PISCHIN. I come to ask for the pleasure of a little waltz, dear lady.... [LUBOV ANDREYEVNA goes to him] But all the same, you wonderful woman, I must have 180 little roubles from you... I must.... [They dance] 180 little roubles.... [They go through into the drawing-room.]
YASHA. [Sings softly] "Oh, will you understand
My soul's deep restlessness?"
[In the drawing-room a figure in a grey top-hat and in baggy check trousers is waving its hands and jumping about; there are cries of "Bravo, Charlotta Ivanovna!"]
DUNYASHA. [Stops to powder her face] The young mistress tells me to dance—there are a lot of gentlemen, but few ladies—and my head goes round when I dance, and my heart beats, Fiers Nicolaevitch; the Post-office clerk told me something just now which made me catch my breath. [The music grows faint.]
FIERS. What did he say to you?
DUNYASHA. He says, "You're like a little flower."
YASHA. [Yawns] Impolite.... [Exit.]
DUNYASHA. Like a little flower. I'm such a delicate girl; I simply love words of tenderness.
FIERS. You'll lose your head.
EPIKHODOV. You, Avdotya Fedorovna, want to see me no more than if I was some insect. [Sighs] Oh, life!
DUNYASHA. What do you want?
EPIKHODOV. Undoubtedly, perhaps, you may be right. [Sighs] But, certainly, if you regard the matter from the aspect, then you, if I may say so, and you must excuse my candidness, have absolutely reduced me to a state of mind. I know my fate, every day something unfortunate happens to me, and I've grown used to it a long time ago, I even look at my fate with a smile. You gave me your word, and though I...
DUNYASHA. Please, we'll talk later on, but leave me alone now. I'm meditating now. [Plays with her fan.]
EPIKHODOV. Every day something unfortunate happens to me, and I, if I may so express myself, only smile, and even laugh.
[VARYA enters from the drawing-room.]
VARYA. Haven't you gone yet, Simeon? You really have no respect for anybody. [To DUNYASHA] You go away, Dunyasha. [To EPIKHODOV] You play billiards and break a cue, and walk about the drawing-room as if you were a visitor!
EPIKHODOV. You cannot, if I may say so, call me to order.
VARYA. I'm not calling you to order, I'm only telling you. You just walk about from place to place and never do your work. Goodness only knows why we keep a clerk.
EPIKHODOV. [Offended] Whether I work, or walk about, or eat, or play billiards, is only a matter to be settled by people of understanding and my elders.
VARYA. You dare to talk to me like that! [Furious] You dare? You mean that I know nothing? Get out of here! This minute!
EPIKHODOV. [Nervous] I must ask you to express yourself more delicately.
VARYA. [Beside herself] Get out this minute. Get out! [He goes to the door, she follows] Two-and-twenty troubles! I don't want any sign of you here! I don't want to see anything of you! [EPIKHODOV has gone out; his voice can be heard outside: "I'll make a complaint against you."] What, coming back? [Snatches up the stick left by FIERS by the door] Go... go... go, I'll show you.... Are you going? Are you going? Well, then take that. [She hits out as LOPAKHIN enters.]
LOPAKHIN. Much obliged.
VARYA. [Angry but amused] I'm sorry.
LOPAKHIN. Never mind. I thank you for my pleasant reception.
VARYA. It isn't worth any thanks. [Walks away, then looks back and asks gently] I didn't hurt you, did I?
LOPAKHIN. No, not at all. There'll be an enormous bump, that's all.
VOICES FROM THE DRAWING-ROOM. Lopakhin's returned! Ermolai Alexeyevitch!
PISCHIN. Now we'll see what there is to see and hear what there is to hear... [Kisses LOPAKHIN] You smell of cognac, my dear, my soul. And we're all having a good time.
[Enter LUBOV ANDREYEVNA.]
LUBOV. Is that you, Ermolai Alexeyevitch? Why were you so long? Where's Leonid?
LOPAKHIN. Leonid Andreyevitch came back with me, he's coming....
LUBOV. [Excited] Well, what? Is it sold? Tell me?
LOPAKHIN. [Confused, afraid to show his pleasure] The sale ended up at four o'clock.... We missed the train, and had to wait till half-past nine. [Sighs heavily] Ooh! My head's going round a little.
[Enter GAEV; in his right hand he carries things he has bought, with his left he wipes away his tears.]
LUBOV. Leon, what's happened? Leon, well? [Impatiently, in tears] Quick, for the love of God....
GAEV. [Says nothing to her, only waves his hand; to FIERS, weeping] Here, take this.... Here are anchovies, herrings from Kertch.... I've had no food to-day.... I have had a time! [The door from the billiard-room is open; the clicking of the balls is heard, and YASHA'S voice, "Seven, eighteen!" GAEV'S expression changes, he cries no more] I'm awfully tired. Help me change my clothes, Fiers.
[Goes out through the drawing-room; FIERS after him.]
PISCHIN. What happened? Come on, tell us!
LUBOV. Is the cherry orchard sold?
LOPAKHIN. It is sold.
LUBOV. Who bought it?
LOPAKHIN. I bought it.
[LUBOV ANDREYEVNA is overwhelmed; she would fall if she were not standing by an armchair and a table. VARYA takes her keys off her belt, throws them on the floor, into the middle of the room and goes out.]
LOPAKHIN. I bought it! Wait, ladies and gentlemen, please, my head's going round, I can't talk.... [Laughs] When we got to the sale, Deriganov was there already. Leonid Andreyevitch had only fifteen thousand roubles, and Deriganov offered thirty thousand on top of the mortgage to begin with. I saw how matters were, so I grabbed hold of him and bid forty. He went up to forty-five, I offered fifty-five. That means he went up by fives and I went up by tens.... Well, it came to an end. I bid ninety more than the mortgage; and it stayed with me. The cherry orchard is mine now, mine! [Roars with laughter] My God, my God, the cherry orchard's mine! Tell me I'm drunk, or mad, or dreaming.... [Stamps his feet] Don't laugh at me! If my father and grandfather rose from their graves and looked at the whole affair, and saw how their Ermolai, their beaten and uneducated Ermolai, who used to run barefoot in the winter, how that very Ermolai has bought an estate, which is the most beautiful thing in the world! I've bought the estate where my grandfather and my father were slaves, where they weren't even allowed into the kitchen. I'm asleep, it's only a dream, an illusion.... It's the fruit of imagination, wrapped in the fog of the unknown.... [Picks up the keys, nicely smiling] She threw down the keys, she wanted to show she was no longer mistress here.... [Jingles keys] Well, it's all one! [Hears the band tuning up] Eh, musicians, play, I want to hear you! Come and look at Ermolai Lopakhin laying his axe to the cherry orchard, come and look at the trees falling! We'll build villas here, and our grandsons and great-grandsons will see a new life here.... Play on, music! [The band plays. LUBOV ANDREYEVNA sinks into a chair and weeps bitterly. LOPAKHIN continues reproachfully] Why then, why didn't you take my advice? My poor, dear woman, you can't go back now. [Weeps] Oh, if only the whole thing was done with, if only our uneven, unhappy life were changed!
PISCHIN. [Takes his arm; in an undertone] She's crying. Let's go into the drawing-room and leave her by herself... come on.... [Takes his arm and leads him out.]
LOPAKHIN. What's that? Bandsmen, play nicely! Go on, do just as I want you to! [Ironically] The new owner, the owner of the cherry orchard is coming! [He accidentally knocks up against a little table and nearly upsets the candelabra] I can pay for everything! [Exit with PISCHIN]
[In the reception-room and the drawing-room nobody remains except LUBOV ANDREYEVNA, who sits huddled up and weeping bitterly. The band plays softly. ANYA and TROFIMOV come in quickly. ANYA goes up to her mother and goes on her knees in front of her. TROFIMOV stands at the drawing-room entrance.]
ANYA. Mother! mother, are you crying? My dear, kind, good mother, my beautiful mother, I love you! Bless you! The cherry orchard is sold, we've got it no longer, it's true, true, but don't cry mother, you've still got your life before you, you've still your beautiful pure soul... Come with me, come, dear, away from here, come! We'll plant a new garden, finer than this, and you'll see it, and you'll understand, and deep joy, gentle joy will sink into your soul, like the evening sun, and you'll smile, mother! Come, dear, let's go!