Fruits of Culture
by Leo Tolstoy
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BETSY. Stop your nonsense! Vovo, which bag is it in?

VASLY LEONDITCH. That one, that one. He is getting near, very near!

PETRSTCHEF. Is it spirits divine, or spirits of wine?

BETSY. Now your cigarette comes in handy for once. Smoke closer, closer to me.

Petrstchef leans over her and smokes at her.

VASLY LEONDITCH. He's getting near, I tell you. Eh, what?

GROSSMAN [searches excitedly round the Third Peasant] It is here; I feel it is!

FAT LADY. Do you feel an effluence? [Grossman stoops and finds the spoon in the bag].

ALL. Bravo! [General enthusiasm].

VASLY LEONDITCH. Ah! So that's where our spoon was. [To Peasants] Then that's the sort you are!

THIRD PEASANT. What sort? I didn't take your spoon! What are you making out? I didn't take it, and my soul knows nothing about it. I didn't take it—there! Let him do what he likes. I knew he came here for no good. "Where's your bag?" says he. I didn't take it, the Lord is my witness! [Crosses himself] I didn't take it!

The young people group round the Peasant, laughing.

LEOND FYDORITCH [angrily to his son] Always playing the fool! [To the Third Peasant] Never mind, friend! We know you did not take it; it was only an experiment.

GROSSMAN [removes bandage from his eyes, and pretends to be coming to] Can I have a little water? [All fuss round him].

VASLY LEONDITCH. Let's go straight from here into the coachman's room. I've got a bitch there—ptante![8] Eh, what?

[8] Stunning!

BETSY. What a horrid word. Couldn't you say dog?

VASLY LEONDITCH. No. I can't say—Betsy is a man, ptant. I should have to say young woman; it's a parallel case. Eh, what? Mrya Konstantnovna, isn't it true? Good, eh? [Laughs loudly].

MRYA KONSTANTNOVNA. Well, let us go. [Exeunt Mrya Konstantnovna, Betsy, Petrstchef, and Vasly Leonditch].

FAT LADY [to Grossman] Well? how are you? Have you rested? [Grossman does not answer. To Sahtof] And you, Mr. Sahtof, did you feel the effluence?

SAHTOF. I felt nothing. Yes, it was very fine—very fine. Quite a success!

BARONESS. Admirable! a ne le fait pas souffrir?[9]

LEOND FYDORITCH. Pas le moins du monde.

[9] BARONESS. Capital! Does it not cause him any pain?

LEOND FYDORITCH. Not the slightest.

PROFESSOR [to Grossman] May I trouble you? [Hands him a thermometer] At the beginning of the experiment it was 37 decimal 2, degrees.[10] [To Doctor] That's right, I think? Would you mind feeling his pulse? Some loss is inevitable.

[10] He uses a Centigrade thermometer.

DOCTOR [to Grossman] Now then, sir, let's have your hand; we'll see, we'll see. [Takes out his watch, and feels Grossman's pulse].

FAT LADY [to Grossman] One moment! The condition you were in could not be called sleep?

GROSSMAN [wearily] It was hypnosis.

SAHTOF. In that case, are we to understand that you hypnotised yourself?

GROSSMAN. And why not? An hypnotic state may ensue not only in consequence of association—the sound of the tom-tom, for instance, in Charcot's method—but by merely entering an hypnogenetic zone.

SAHTOF. Granting that, it would still be desirable to define what hypnotism is, more exactly?

PROFESSOR. Hypnotism is a phenomenon resulting from the transmutation of one energy into another.

GROSSMAN. Charcot does not so define it.

SAHTOF. A moment, just a moment! That is your definition, but Libault told me himself...

DOCTOR [lets go of Grossman's pulse] Ah, that's all right; well now, the temperature?

FAT LADY [interrupting] No, allow me! I agree with the Professor. And here's the very best proof. After my illness, when I lay insensible, a desire to speak came over me. In general I am of a silent disposition, but then I was overcome by this desire to speak, and I spoke and spoke, and I was told that I spoke in such a way that every one was astonished! [To Sahtof] But I think I interrupted you?

SAHTOF [with dignity] Not at all. Pray continue.

DOCTOR. Pulse 82, and the temperature has risen three-tenths of a degree.

PROFESSOR. There you are! That's a proof! That's just as it should be. [Takes out pocket-book and writes] 82, yes? And 37 and 5. When the hypnotic state is induced, it invariably produces a heightened action of the heart.

DOCTOR. I can, as a medical man, bear witness that your prognosis was justified by the event.

PROFESSOR [to Sahtof] You were saying?...

SAHTOF. I wished to say that Libault told me himself that the hypnotic is only one particular psychical state, increasing susceptibility to suggestion.

PROFESSOR. That is so, but still the law of equivalents is the chief thing.

GROSSMAN. Moreover, Libault is far from being an authority, while Charcot has studied the subject from all sides, and has proved that hypnotism produced by a blow, a trauma...

All talking together.

{ SAHTOF. Yes, but I don't reject Charcot's labour. I know him also, { I am only repeating what Libault told me... { { GROSSMAN [excitedly] There are 3000 patients in the Salptrire, and { I have gone through the whole course. { { PROFESSOR. Excuse me, gentlemen, but that is not the point.

FAT LADY [interrupting] One moment, I will explain it to you in two words? When my husband was ill, all the doctors gave him up...

LEOND FYDORITCH. However, we had better go upstairs again. Baroness, this way!

Exeunt Grossman, Sahtof, Professor, Doctor, the Fat Lady, and Baroness, talking loudly and interrupting each other.

ANNA PVLOVNA [catching hold of Leond Fydoritch's arm] How often have I asked you not to interfere in household matters! You think of nothing but your nonsense, and the whole house is on my shoulders. You will infect us all!

LEOND FYDORITCH. What? How? I don't understand what you mean.

ANNA PVLOVNA. How? Why, people ill of diphtheria sleep in the kitchen, which is in constant communication with the whole house.



LEOND FYDORITCH. I know nothing about it.

ANNA PVLOVNA. It's your duty to know, if you are the head of the family. Such things must not be done.

LEOND FYDORITCH. But I never thought ... I thought...

ANNA PVLOVNA. It is sickening to listen to you! [Leond Fydoritch remains silent].

ANNA PVLOVNA [to Theodore Ivnitch] Turn them out at once! They are to leave my kitchen immediately! It is terrible! No one listens to me; they do it out of spite.... I turn them out from there, and they bring them in here! And with my illness... [Gets more and more excited, and at last begins to cry] Doctor! Doctor! Peter Petrvitch!... He's gone too!... [Exit, sobbing, followed by Leond Fydoritch].

All stand silent for a long time.

THIRD PEASANT. Botheration take them all! If one don't mind, the police will be after one here. And I have never been to law in all my born days. Let's go to some lodging-house, lads!

THEODORE IVNITCH [to Tnya] What are we to do?

TNYA. Never mind, Theodore Ivnitch, let them sleep with the coachman.

THEODORE IVNITCH. How can we do that? The coachman was complaining as it is, that his place is full of dogs.

TNYA. Well then, the porter's lodge.

THEODORE IVNITCH. And supposing it's found out?

TNYA. It won't be found out! Don't trouble about that, Theodore Ivnitch. How can one turn them out now, at night? They'll not find anywhere to go to.

THEODORE IVNITCH. Well, do as you please. Only they must go away from here. [Exit].

Peasants take their bags.

DISCHARGED COOK. Oh those damned fiends! It's all their fat! Fiends!

SERVANTS' COOK. You be quiet there. Thank goodness they didn't see you!

TNYA. Well then, daddy, come along to the porter's lodge.

FIRST PEASANT. Well, but how about our business? How, for example, about the applience of his hand to the signature? May we be in hopes?

TNYA. We'll see in an hour's time.

SECOND PEASANT. You'll do the trick?

TNYA [laughs] Yes, God willing!



Evening of the same day. The small drawing-room in Leond Fydoritch's house, where the sances are always held. Leond Fydoritch and the Professor.

LEOND FYDORITCH. Well then, shall we risk a sance 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 sance 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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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 Sahtof.

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

LEOND FYDORITCH. Yes, certainly!

SAHTOF. In spite of the absence of Mr. Kaptchtch's mediumistic powers?

LEOND FYDORITCH. Vous avez la main heureuse.[11] Fancy, that very peasant whom I mentioned to you this morning, turns out to be an undoubted medium.

[11] LEOND FYDORITCH. You bring good luck.

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

LEOND FYDORITCH. Yes, we tried a few preliminary experiments with him just after dinner.

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

LEOND FYDORITCH. Yes, perfectly! And he turns out to be an exceptionally powerful medium.

SAHTOF [incredulously] Dear me!

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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.

SAHTOF [to the Professor]. But still, you admit the possibility of such phenomena?

PROFESSOR. What phenomena?

SAHTOF. 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?

SAHTOF. 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.

SAHTOF. Yes, certainly, but...

Enter Tnya, who hides behind the hangings.

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

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

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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 Alexy Vladmiritch 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 Pvlovna has allowed me to join you.

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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 Pvlovna.

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, Vra Knshin (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...

SAHTOF [smiling] Yes; oh yes!

Leond Fydoritch rings.

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

Enter Gregory.

LEOND FYDORITCH. Please tell Theodore to get everything ready for the sance, and send Simon here—Simon, the butler's assistant,—do you hear?

GREGORY. Yes, sir. [Exit].

PROFESSOR [to Sahtof]. 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...

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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...

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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.

Tnya enters from behind the hangings.

TNYA. Oh, if it would only succeed! [Begins fastening some threads].

Enter Betsy hurriedly.

BETSY. Isn't papa here? [Looks inquiringly at Tnya] What are you doing here?

TNYA. Oh, Miss Elizabeth, I have only just come; I only wished ... only came in... [Embarrassed].

BETSY. But they are going to have a sance here directly. [Notices Tnya drawing in the threads, looks at her, and suddenly bursts out laughing] Tnya! 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!

TNYA. Miss Elizabeth, dearest!

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

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

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

TNYA. 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...

TNYA. 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?

TNYA. 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 Ivnitch, 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?

TNYA. 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?

TNYA. 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!

TNYA. 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.

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

Enter Theodore Ivnitch.

Exit Betsy, making signs to Tnya.

THEODORE IVNITCH. Why are you here?

TNYA. It's you I want, Theodore Ivnitch, dear...

THEODORE IVNITCH. Well, what is it?

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

THEODORE IVNITCH [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.

TNYA [with a shriek] Never! So it's all right?

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

TNYA. Is that what he said? [Shrieks] Dear Theodore Ivnitch, I'll pray for you all the days of my life!

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

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

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

TNYA [helps Theodore Ivnitch to place the things] Is that right? The guitar here, and here the inkstand. [Places it] So?

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

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

THEODORE IVNITCH. Wonderful! [Puts on his pince-nez] But is he clean?

TNYA. How should I know?

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

TNYA. Yes, Theodore Ivnitch?

THEODORE IVNITCH. 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.

TNYA. He can do it himself.

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

TNYA. All right, Theodore Ivnitch. [Exit].

THEODORE IVNITCH [sits down in an easy-chair] They're educated and learned—Alexy Vladmiritch 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 Leond Fydoritch sitting by.... Extraordinary human weakness!

Enter Leond Fydoritch.

LEOND FYDORITCH. Is it all ready?

THEODORE IVNITCH [rising leisurely] Quite ready. [Smiles] Only I don't know about your new medium. I hope he won't disgrace you, Leond Fydoritch.

LEOND FYDORITCH. No, I and Alexy Vladmiritch have tested him. He is a wonderfully powerful medium!

THEODORE IVNITCH. 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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. His hands? Oh yes! They're not clean, you think?

THEODORE IVNITCH. What can you expect? He's a peasant, and there will be ladies present, and Mrya Vaslevna.

LEOND FYDORITCH. It will be all right.

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

LEOND FYDORITCH [arranging the things on the table absent-mindedly] What dogs?

THEODORE IVNITCH. The three hounds that came for Vasly Leonditch to-day.

LEOND FYDORITCH [vexed] Tell Anna Pvlovna! She can do as she likes about it. I have no time.

THEODORE IVNITCH. But you know her weakness...

LEOND FYDORITCH. '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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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 IVNITCH [improving on what Leond Fydoritch has said] Invisible feelings, do you understand?

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

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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.

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


LEOND FYDORITCH. But the slates?

THEODORE IVNITCH. They are downstairs. I'll bring them. [Exit].

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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 Tnya in her stockings and in a dress of the colour of the wall-paper. Simon laughs.

TNYA. 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.

TNYA. 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.

TNYA. 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.

TNYA. 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, Leond Fydoritch and the Fat Lady, the Doctor, Sahtof and Anna Pvlovna. Simon stands near the door.

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

SAHTOF. That's very, very interesting.

FAT LADY [pointing to Simon] Mais il est trs bien![12]

[12] FAT LADY. But he looks quite nice.

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

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

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

FAT LADY. No, Anna Pvlovna, 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 Vasly Leonditch and Petrstchef.

FAT LADY. And much was revealed to me by that dream. Nowadays the young people [points to Petrstchef and Vasly Leonditch] deny everything.

VASLY LEONDITCH. But look here, you know—now I, for instance, never deny anything! Eh, what?

Betsy and Mrya Konstantnovna enter, and begin talking to Petrstchef.

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-frre—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...

LEOND FYDORITCH. Well, who is going to stay here?



ANNA PVLOVNA [to Doctor] Do you mean to say you are going to stay?

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

ANNA PVLOVNA. 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 PVLOVNA. 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.

SAHTOF. Yes, thanks!

Exit Anna Pvlovna.

BETSY [to Petrstchef] You must stay, I tell you. I promise you something extraordinary. Will you bet?

MRYA KONSTANTNOVNA. But you don't believe in it?

BETSY. To-day I do.

MRYA KONSTANTNOVNA [to Petrstchef] And do you believe?

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

VASLY LEONDITCH. Let us stay, Mrya Konstantnovna. Eh, what? I shall invent something ptant.

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

VASLY LEONDITCH [loud] I remain!

LEOND FYDORITCH [severely] But I beg those who remain not to joke about it. It is a serious matter.

PETRSTCHEF. 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.

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

PETRSTCHEF [trembles] Oh, I'm afraid, I'm afraid! Mrya Konstantnovna, I'm afraid! My tootsies tremble.

BETSY [laughing] Not so loud.

All sit down.

LEOND FYDORITCH. Take your seats, take your seats. Simon, sit down!

SIMON. Yes, sir. [Sits down on the edge of the chair].

LEOND FYDORITCH. Sit properly.

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

Betsy, Mrya Konstantnovna and Vasly Leonditch laugh.

LEOND FYDORITCH [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!

VASLY LEONDITCH. Quite quiet! [Hides behind Fat Lady].

LEOND FYDORITCH. Alexy Vladmiritch, will you mesmerise him?

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

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, ansthesia, 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.

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

LEOND FYDORITCH. I think Alexy Vladmiritch 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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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...

PETRSTCHEF. 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...

LEOND FYDORITCH. Yes, but Alexy Vladmiritch, 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.

SAHTOF. 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 sances) 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 Sahtof] What is it that puzzles you? It is so simple.... Thank you so, so much!

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. Yes, yes. But excuse me a moment. I should like to reply to Sergy Ivnitch'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 sance 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!

LEOND FYDORITCH. Quite possibly.

PROFESSOR. I think it is time we began.

LEOND FYDORITCH. I was only going to say...

PROFESSOR. It is getting late.

LEOND FYDORITCH. Very well. Then we will commence. Antn Borsitch, 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.

LEOND FYDORITCH [to the Professor] I think it is quite immaterial.


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

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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 ansthesia. 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 Leond Fydoritch] Do you notice how the medium's trance acts on Grossman? He is beginning to vibrate.

LEOND FYDORITCH. Yes, yes ... can the lights be extinguished now?

SAHTOF. 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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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?

LEOND FYDORITCH. Yes, certainly. [Puts out candles] Ladies and gentlemen! attention, if you please.

Tnya gets from under the sofa and takes hold of a thread tied to a chandelier.

PETRSTCHEF. I like that Spaniard! Just in the midst of a conversation—off he goes head downwards ... as the French say: piquer une tte.[13]

[13] To take a header.

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

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

VASLY LEONDITCH. Would you like me to? I will...

LEOND FYDORITCH. Gentlemen! Silence, if you please!

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

LEOND FYDORITCH. A light! Do you see the light?

SAHTOF. 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 Leond Fydoritch, and points to Grossman, who is moving] Do you notice how he vibrates? It is the dual influence. [The light appears again].

LEOND FYDORITCH [to the Professor] It must be he—you know!


LEOND FYDORITCH. A Greek, Nicholas. It is his light. Don't you think so, Alexy Vladmiritch?

SAHTOF. 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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. He is not yet visible ... Alexy Vladmiritch, he is particularly well disposed towards you. You question him.

PROFESSOR [in a peculiar voice] Nicholas! Is that you?

Tnya raps twice on the wall.

LEOND FYDORITCH [joyfully] It is he! It is he!

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

SAHTOF. Why do you suppose it is he?

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

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

LEOND FYDORITCH [whispers] Do you notice, gentlemen, here is a lamp-shade, and something else—a pencil!... Alexy Vladmiritch, 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.

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

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

SAHTOF [approaches. Tnya 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 Leond Fydoritch] 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].

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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 Leond Fydoritch] Do you see? Do you see?

GROSSMAN. If you like...

DOCTOR. Now then, my dear sir, leave the management to Alexy Vladmiritch, 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...

LEOND FYDORITCH. Silence, if you please.

Tnya draws a thread over the Fat Lady's head.


LEOND FYDORITCH. What? What is it?

FAT LADY. He took hold of my hair!

LEOND FYDORITCH [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!

SAHTOF. Yes, it is strange, very strange!

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

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

PROFESSOR. Please do.

SAHTOF. Do I believe or not?

Tnya knocks twice.

PROFESSOR. The answer is affirmative.

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

Tnya knocks several times and passes a thread over Sahtof's head.

SAHTOF. 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!

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

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

SAHTOF. No—but where did this thread come from?

Tnya throws a cushion at him.

SAHTOF. 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?

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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 Vasly Leonditch begins to cry like a baby: "ou-a, ou-a!" [Laughter.] Holding their mouths and noses, the girls and Petrstchef run away bursting with laughter.

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

LEOND FYDORITCH [beside himself with anger, whispers] One gets nothing but tomfoolery from you! If you don't know how to behave decently, go away!

Exit Vasly Leonditch. Darkness and silence.

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

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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. Leond Fydoritch, will you?

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

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

Tnya raps twice and rings. Simon roars, spreads his arms out, seizes Sahtof and the Professor—squeezing them.

PROFESSOR. What an unexpected phenomenon! The medium himself reacted upon! This never happened before! Leond Fydoritch, 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!

Tnya throws the peasants' paper on the table.

LEOND FYDORITCH. Something has fallen upon the table.

PROFESSOR. See what it is!

LEOND FYDORITCH. Paper! A folded paper!

Tnya throws a travelling inkstand on the table.


Tnya throws 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!

Tnya goes behind Leond Fydoritch and strikes him on the head with the guitar.

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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!

LEOND FYDORITCH [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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. Nicholas, do you wish...

Tnya knocks twice.

PROFESSOR. Do you hear? It is quite evident!

Leond Fydoritch takes the paper and pen and goes out. Tnya knocks, plays on the guitar and the accordion, and then creeps under the sofa. Leond Fydoritch returns. Simon stretches himself and coughs.

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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.

LEOND FYDORITCH [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].

SAHTOF [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.

LEOND FYDORITCH. A thread! A thread! We have been witnessing manifestations more important than a thread.

SAHTOF. I don't know. At all events, je rserve mon opinion.

FAT LADY [to Sahtof] Oh no, how can you say: "je rserve 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...

SAHTOF. 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...

SAHTOF [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 Leond Fydoritch] Am I to go?

LEOND FYDORITCH. 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.

{ LEOND FYDORITCH. 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 Sahtof] If we had kept to hypnotism, we might have { produced a thorough state of epilepsy. The success might have been { complete! { { SAHTOF. It is very interesting, but not entirely convincing. That { is all I can say.

Enter Theodore Ivnitch.

LEOND FYDORITCH [with paper in his hand] Ah, Theodore, what a remarkable sance we have had! It turns out that the peasants must have the land on their own terms.


LEOND FYDORITCH. Yes, indeed. [Showing paper] Fancy, this paper that I returned to them, suddenly appeared on the table! I have signed it.

THEODORE IVNITCH. How did it get there?

LEOND FYDORITCH. Well, it did get there! [Exit, Theodore Ivnitch follows him out].

TNYA [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?

TNYA. 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!

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



The same scene as in Act I. The next day. Two liveried footmen, Theodore Ivnitch and Gregory.

FIRST FOOTMAN [with grey whiskers] Yours is the third house to-day. Thank goodness that all the at-homes are in this direction. Yours used to be on Thursdays.

THEODORE IVNITCH. Yes, we changed to Saturday so as to be on the same day as the Golvkins and Grade von Grabes...

SECOND FOOTMAN. The Stcherbkofs do the thing well. There's refreshments for the footmen every time they've a ball.

The two Princesses, mother and daughter, come down the stairs accompanied by Betsy. The old Princess looks in her note-book and at her watch, and sits down on the settle. Gregory puts on her overshoes.

YOUNG PRINCESS. Now, do come. Because, if you refuse, and Dodo refuses, the whole thing will be spoilt.

BETSY. I don't know. I must certainly go to the Shobins. And then there is the rehearsal.

YOUNG PRINCESS. You'll have plenty of time. Do, please. Ne nous fais pas faux bond.[14] Fdya and Koko will come.

[14] Do not disappoint us.

BETSY. J'en ai par-dessus la tte de votre Koko.[15]

[15] BETSY. I have more than enough of your Koko.

YOUNG PRINCESS. I thought I should see him here. Ordinairement il est d'une exactitude...[16]

[16] YOUNG PRINCESS. ... He is usually so very punctual...

BETSY. He is sure to come.

YOUNG PRINCESS. When I see you together, it always seems to me that he has either just proposed or is just going to propose.

BETSY. Yes, I don't suppose it can be avoided. I shall have to go through with it. And it is so unpleasant!

YOUNG PRINCESS. Poor Koko! He is head over ears in love.

BETSY. Cessez, les gens![17]

[17] BETSY. Cease; mind the servants!

Young Princess sits down, talking in whispers. Gregory puts on her overshoes.

YOUNG PRINCESS. Well then, good-bye till this evening.

BETSY. I'll try to come.

OLD PRINCESS. Then tell your papa that I don't believe in anything of the kind, but will come to see his new medium. Only he must let me know when. Good afternoon, ma toute belle. [Kisses Betsy, and exit, followed by her daughter. Betsy goes upstairs].

GREGORY. I don't like putting on an old woman's overshoes for her; she can't stoop, can't see her shoe for her stomach, and keeps poking her foot in the wrong place. It's different with a young one; it's pleasant to take her foot in one's hand.

SECOND FOOTMAN. Hear him! Making distinctions!

FIRST FOOTMAN. It's not for us footmen to make such distinctions.

GREGORY. Why shouldn't one make distinctions; are we not men? It's they think we don't understand! Just now they were deep in their talk, then they look at me, and at once it's "lay zhon!"

SECOND FOOTMAN. And what's that?

GREGORY. Oh, that means, "Don't talk, they understand!" It's the same at table. But I understand! You say, there's a difference? I say there is none.

FIRST FOOTMAN. There is a great difference for those who understand.

GREGORY. There is none at all. To-day I am a footman, and to-morrow I may be living no worse than they are. Has it never happened that they've married footmen? I'll go and have a smoke. [Exit].

SECOND FOOTMAN. That's a bold young man you've got.

THEODORE IVNITCH. A worthless fellow, not fit for service. He used to be an office boy and has got spoilt. I advised them not to take him, but the mistress liked him. He looks well on the carriage when they drive out.

FIRST FOOTMAN. I should like to send him to our Count; he'd put him in his place! Oh, he don't like those scatterbrains. "If you're a footman, be a footman and fulfil your calling." Such pride is not befitting.

Petrstchef comes running downstairs, and takes out a cigarette.

PETRSTCHEF [deep in thought] Let's see, my second is the same as my first. Echo, a-co, co-coa. [Enter Koko Klngen, wearing his pince-nez] Ko-ko, co-coa. Cocoa tin, where do you spring from?

KOKO KLNGEN. From the Stcherbkofs. You are always playing the fool...

PETRSTCHEF. No, listen to my charade. My first is the same as my second, my third may be cracked, my whole is like your pate.

KOKO KLNGEN. I give it up. I've no time.

PETRSTCHEF. Where else are you going?

KOKO KLNGEN. Where? Of course to the vins, to practise for the concert. Then to the Shobins, and then to the rehearsal. You'll be there too, won't you?

PETRSTCHEF. Most certainly. At the re-her-Sall and also at the re-her-Sarah. Why, at first I was a savage, and now I am both a savage and a general.

KOKO KLNGEN. How did yesterday's sance go off?

PETRSTCHEF. Screamingly funny! There was a peasant, and above all, it was all in the dark. Vovo cried like an infant, the Professor defined, and Mrya Vaslevna refined. Such a lark! You ought to have been there.

KOKO KLNGEN. I'm afraid, mon cher. You have a way of getting off with a jest, but I always feel that if I say a word, they'll construe it into a proposal. Et a ne m'arrange pas du tout, du tout. Mais du tout, du tout![18]

[18] And that won't suit me at all, at all! Not at all, at all!

PETRSTCHEF. Instead of a proposal, make a proposition, and receive a sentence! Well, I shall go in to Vovo's. If you'll call for me, we can go to the re-her-Sarah together.

KOKO KLNGEN. I can't think how you can be friends with such a fool. He is so stupid,—a regular blockhead!

PETRSTCHEF. And I am fond of him. I love Vovo, but ... "with a love so strange, ne'er towards him the path untrod shall be"... [Exit into Vovo's room].

Betsy comes down with a Lady. Koko bows significantly to Betsy.

BETSY [shaking Koko's hand without turning towards him. To Lady] You are acquainted?


BETSY. Baron Klngen.... Why were you not here last night?

KOKO KLNGEN. I could not come, I was engaged.

BETSY. What a pity, it was so interesting! [Laughs] You should have seen what manifestations we had! Well, how is our charade getting on?

KOKO KLNGEN. Oh, the verses for mon second are ready. Nick composed the verses, and I the music.

BETSY. What are they? What are they? Do tell me!

KOKO KLNGEN. Wait a minute; how does it go?... Oh, the knight sings:

"Oh, naught so beautiful as nature: The Nautilus sails by. Oh, naughty lass, oh, naughty lass! Oh, nought, oh nought! Oh fie!"

LADY. I see, my second is "nought," and what is my first?

KOKO KLNGEN. My first is Aero, the name of a girl savage.

BETSY. Aero, you see, is a savage who wished to devour the object of her love. [Laughs] She goes about lamenting, and sings—

"My appetite,"

KOKO KLNGEN [interrupts]—

"How can I fight,"...

BETSY [chimes in]—

"Some one to chew I long. I seeking go..."


"But even so..."


"No one to chew can find."


"A raft sails by,"


"It cometh nigh; Two generals upon it..."


"Two generals are we: By fate's hard decree, To this island we flee."

And then, the refrain—

"By fate's hard decree, To this island we flee."

LADY. Charmant!

BETSY. But just think how silly!

KOKO KLNGEN. Yes, that's the charm of it!

LADY. And who is to be Aero?

BETSY. I am. And I have had a costume made, but mamma says it's "not decent." And it is not a bit less decent than a ball dress. [To Theodore Ivnitch] Is Bourdier's man here?

THEODORE IVNITCH. Yes, he is waiting in the kitchen.

LADY. Well, and how will you represent Aeronaut?

BETSY. Oh, you'll see. I don't want to spoil the pleasure for you. Au revoir.

LADY. Good-bye! [They bow. Exit Lady].

BETSY [to Koko Klngen] Come up to mamma.

Betsy and Koko go upstairs. Jacob enters from servants' quarters, carrying a tray with teacups, cakes, &c., and goes panting across the stage.

JACOB [to the Footmen] How d'you do? How d'you do? [Footmen bow].

JACOB [to Theodore Ivnitch] Couldn't you tell Gregory to help a bit! I'm ready to drop.... [Exit up the stairs].

FIRST FOOTMAN. That is a hard-working chap you've got there.

THEODORE IVNITCH. Yes, a good fellow. But there now—he doesn't satisfy the mistress, she says his appearance is ungainly. And now they've gone and told tales about him for letting some peasants into the kitchen yesterday. It is a bad look-out: they may dismiss him. And he is a good fellow.

SECOND FOOTMAN. What peasants were they?

THEODORE IVNITCH. Peasants that had come from our Koursk village to buy some land. It was night, and they were our fellow-countrymen, one of them the father of the butler's assistant. Well, so they were asked into the kitchen. It so happened that there was thought-reading going on. Something was hidden in the kitchen, and all the gentlefolk came down, and the mistress saw the peasants. There was such a row! "How is this," she says; "these people may be infected, and they are let into the kitchen!" ... She is terribly afraid of this infection.

Enter Gregory.

THEODORE IVNITCH. Gregory, you go and help Jacob. I'll stay here. He can't manage alone.

GREGORY. He's awkward, that's why he can't manage. [Exit].

FIRST FOOTMAN. And what is this new mania they have got? This infection!... So yours also is afraid of it?

THEODORE IVNITCH. She fears it worse than fire! Our chief business, nowadays, is fumigating, washing, and sprinkling.

FIRST FOOTMAN. I see. That's why there is such a stuffy smell here. [With animation] I don't know what we're coming to with these infection notions. It's just detestable! They seem to have forgotten the Lord. There's our master's sister, Princess Mosolva, her daughter was dying and, will you believe it, neither father nor mother would come near her! So she died without their having taken leave of her. And the daughter cried, and called them to say good-bye—but they didn't go! The doctor had discovered some infection or other! And yet their own maid and a trained nurse were with her, and nothing happened to them; they're still alive!

Enter Vasly Leonditch and Petrstchef from Vasly Leonditch's room, smoking cigarettes.

PETRSTCHEF. Come along then, only I must take Koko—Cocoanut, with me.

VASLY LEONDITCH. Your Koko is a regular dolt; I can't bear him. A hare-brained fellow, a regular gad-about! Without any kind of occupation, eternally loafing around! Eh, what?

PETRSTCHEF. Well, anyhow, wait a bit, I must say good-bye.

VASLY LEONDITCH. All right. And I will go and look at my dogs in the coachman's room. I've got a dog there that's so savage, the coachman said, he nearly ate him.

PETRSTCHEF. Who ate whom? Did the coachman really eat the dog?

VASLY LEONDITCH. You are always at it! [Puts on outdoor things and goes out].

PETRSTCHEF [thoughtfully] Ma-kin-tosh, Co-co-tin.... Let's see. [Goes upstairs].

Jacob runs across the stage.

THEODORE IVNITCH. What's the matter?

JACOB. There is no more thin bread and butter. I said... [Exit].

SECOND FOOTMAN. And then our master's little son fell ill, and they sent him at once to an hotel with his nurse, and there he died without his mother.

FIRST FOOTMAN. They don't seem to fear sin! I think you cannot escape from God anywhere.

THEODORE IVNITCH. That's what I think.

Jacob runs upstairs with bread and butter.

FIRST FOOTMAN. One should consider too, that if we are to be afraid of everybody like that, we'd better shut ourselves up within four walls, as in a prison, and stick there!

Enter Tnya; she bows to the Footmen.

TNYA. Good afternoon.

Footmen bow.

TNYA. Theodore Ivnitch, I have a word to say to you.


TNYA. The peasants have come again, Theodore Ivnitch...

THEODORE IVNITCH. Well? I gave the paper to Simon.

TNYA. I have given them the paper. They were that grateful! I can't say how! Now they only ask you to take the money.

THEODORE IVNITCH. But where are they?

TNYA. Here, by the porch.

THEODORE IVNITCH. All right, I'll tell the master.

TNYA. I have another request to you, dear Theodore Ivnitch.


TNYA. Why, don't you see, Theodore Ivnitch, I can't remain here any longer. Ask them to let me go.

Enter Jacob, running.

THEODORE IVNITCH [to Jacob] What d'you want?

JACOB. Another samovr, and oranges.

THEODORE IVNITCH. Ask the housekeeper.

Exit Jacob.

THEODORE IVNITCH [to Tnya] How is that?

TNYA. Why, don't you see, my position is such...

JACOB [runs in] There are not enough oranges.

THEODORE IVNITCH. Serve up as many as you've got [Exit Jacob]. Now's not the time! Just see what a bustle we are in.

TNYA. But you know yourself, Theodore Ivnitch, there is no end to this bustle; one might wait for ever—you know yourself—and my affair is for life.... Dear Theodore Ivnitch, you have done me a good turn, be a father to me now, choose the right moment and tell her, or else she'll get angry and won't let me have my passport.[19]

[19] Employers have charge of the servants' passports, and in this way have a hold on them in case of misconduct.

THEODORE IVNITCH. Where's the hurry?

TNYA. Why, Theodore Ivnitch, it's all settled now.... And I could go to my godmother's and get ready, and then after Easter we'd get married.[20] Do tell her, dear Theodore Ivnitch!

[20] See footnote, p. 28. It is customary for peasants to marry just after Easter, but when spring has come and the field work begun, no marriages take place among them till autumn.

THEODORE IVNITCH. Go away—this is not the place.

An elderly Gentleman comes downstairs, puts on overcoat, and goes out followed by the Second Footman.

Exit Tnya. Enter Jacob.

JACOB. Just fancy, Theodore Ivnitch, it's too bad! She wants to discharge me now! She says, "You break everything, and forget Frisk, and you let the peasants into the kitchen against my orders!" And you know very well that I knew nothing about it. Tatyna told me, "Take them into the kitchen"; how could I tell whose order it was?

THEODORE IVNITCH. Did the mistress speak to you?

JACOB. She's just spoken. Do speak up for me, Theodore Ivnitch! You see, my people in the country are only just getting on their feet, and suppose I lose my place, when shall I get another? Theodore Ivnitch, do, please!

Anna Pvlovna comes down with the old Countess, whom she is seeing off. The Countess has false teeth and hair. The First Footman helps the Countess into her outdoor things.

ANNA PVLOVNA. Oh, most certainly, of course! I am so deeply touched.

COUNTESS. If it were not for my illness, I should come oftener to see you.

ANNA PVLOVNA. You should really consult Peter Petrvitch. He is rough, but nobody can soothe one as he does. He is so clear, so simple.

COUNTESS. Oh no, I shall keep to the one I am used to.

ANNA PVLOVNA. Pray, take care of yourself.

COUNTESS. Merci, mille fois merci.[21]

[21] COUNTESS. Thank you (for your hospitality), a thousand thanks.

Gregory, dishevelled and excited, jumps out from the servants' quarters. Simon appears behind him in the doorway.

SIMON. You'd better leave her alone!

GREGORY. You rascal! I'll teach you how to fight, you scamp, you!

ANNA PVLOVNA. What do you mean? Do you think you are in a public-house?

GREGORY. This coarse peasant makes life impossible for me.

ANNA PVLOVNA [provoked] You've lost your senses. Don't you see? [To Countess] Merci, mille fois merci. A mardi![22]

[22] ANNA PVLOVNA. Thank you (for coming to see us), a thousand thanks. Till next Tuesday!

Exeunt Countess and First Footman.

ANNA PVLOVNA [to Gregory] What is the meaning of this?

GREGORY. Though I do occupy the position of a footman, still I won't allow every peasant to hit me; I have my pride too.

ANNA PVLOVNA. Why, what has happened?

GREGORY. Why, this Simon of yours has got so brave, sitting with the gentlemen, that he wants to fight!

ANNA PVLOVNA. Why? What for?

GREGORY. Heaven only knows!

ANNA PVLOVNA [to Simon] What is the meaning of it?

SIMON. Why does he bother her?

ANNA PVLOVNA. What has happened?

SIMON [smiles] Well, you see, he is always catching hold of Tnya, the lady's-maid, and she won't have it. Well, so I just moved him aside a bit, just so, with my hand.

GREGORY. A nice little bit! He's almost caved my ribs in, and has torn my dress-coat, and he says, "The same power as came over me yesterday comes on me again," and he begins to squeeze me.

ANNA PVLOVNA [to Simon] How dare you fight in my house?

THEODORE IVNITCH. May I explain it to you, ma'am? I must tell you Simon is not indifferent to Tnya, and is engaged to her. And Gregory—one must admit the truth—does not behave properly, nor honestly, to her. Well, so I suppose Simon got angry with him.

GREGORY. Not at all! It is all his spite, because I have discovered their trickery.

ANNA PVLOVNA. What trickery?

GREGORY. Why, at the sance. All those things, last night,—it was not Simon but Tnya who did them! I saw her getting out from under the sofa with my own eyes.

ANNA PVLOVNA. What is that? From under the sofa?

GREGORY. I give you my word of honour. And it was she who threw the paper on the table. If it had not been for her the paper would not have been signed, nor the land sold to the peasants.

ANNA PVLOVNA. And you saw it yourself?

GREGORY. With my own eyes. Shall I call her? She'll not deny it.

ANNA PVLOVNA. Yes, call her.

Exit Gregory.

Noise behind the scenes. The voice of the Doorkeeper, "No, no, you cannot." Doorkeeper is seen at the front door, the three Peasants rush in past him, the Second Peasant first; the Third one stumbles, falls on his nose, and catches hold of it.

DOORKEEPER. You must not go in!

SECOND PEASANT. Where's the harm? We are not doing anything wrong. We only wish to pay the money!

FIRST PEASANT. That's just it; as by laying on the signature the affair is come to a conclusion, we only wish to make payment with thanks.

ANNA PVLOVNA. Wait a bit with your thanks. It was all done by fraud! It is not settled yet. Not sold yet.... Leond.... Call Leond Fydoritch. [Exit Doorkeeper].

Leond Fydoritch enters, but, seeing his wife and the Peasants, wishes to retreat.

ANNA PVLOVNA. No, no, come here, please! I told you the land must not be sold on credit, and everybody told you so, but you let yourself be deceived like the veriest blockhead.

LEOND FYDORITCH. How? I don't understand who is deceiving?

ANNA PVLOVNA. You ought to be ashamed of yourself! You have grey hair, and you let yourself be deceived and laughed at like a silly boy. You grudge your son some three hundred roubles which his social position demands, and let yourself be tricked of thousands—like a fool!

LEOND FYDORITCH. Now come, Annette, try to be calm.

FIRST PEASANT. We are only come about the acceptation of the sum, for example...

THIRD PEASANT [taking out the money] Let us finish the matter, for Christ's sake!

ANNA PVLOVNA. Wait, wait!

Enter Tnya and Gregory.

ANNA PVLOVNA [angrily] You were in the small drawing-room during the sance last night?

Tnya looks round at Theodore Ivnitch, Leond Fydoritch, and Simon, and sighs.

GREGORY. It's no use beating about the bush; I saw you myself...

ANNA PVLOVNA. Tell me, were you there? I know all about it, so you'd better confess! I'll not do anything to you. I only want to expose him [pointing to Leond Fydoritch] your master.... Did you throw the paper on the table?

TNYA. I don't know how to answer. Only one thing,—let me go home.

Enter Betsy unobserved.

ANNA PVLOVNA [to Leond Fydoritch] There, you see! You are being made a fool of.

TNYA. Let me go home, Anna Pvlovna!

ANNA PVLOVNA. No, my dear! You may have caused us a loss of thousands of roubles. Land has been sold that ought not to be sold!

TNYA. Let me go, Anna Pvlovna!

ANNA PVLOVNA. No; you'll have to answer for it! Such tricks won't do. We'll have you up before the Justice of the Peace!

BETSY [comes forward] Let her go, mamma. Or, if you wish to have her tried, you must have me tried too! She and I did it together.

ANNA PVLOVNA. Well, of course, if you have a hand in anything, what can one expect but the very worst results!

Enter the Professor.

PROFESSOR. How do you do, Anna Pvlovna? How do you do, Miss Betsy? Leond Fydoritch, I have brought you a report of the Thirteenth Congress of Spiritualists at Chicago. An amazing speech by Schmidt!

LEOND FYDORITCH. Oh, that is interesting!

ANNA PVLOVNA. I will tell you something much more interesting! It turns out that both you and my husband were fooled by this girl! Betsy takes it on herself, but that is only to annoy me. It was an illiterate peasant girl who fooled you, and you believed it all. There were no mediumistic phenomena last night; it was she [pointing to Tnya] who did it!

PROFESSOR [taking off his overcoat] What do you mean?

ANNA PVLOVNA. I mean that it was she who, in the dark, played on the guitar and beat my husband on the head and performed all your idiotic tricks—and she has just confessed!

PROFESSOR [smiling] What does that prove?

ANNA PVLOVNA. It proves that your mediumism is—tomfoolery; that's what it proves!

PROFESSOR. Because this young girl wished to deceive, we are to conclude that mediumism is "tomfoolery," as you are pleased to express it? [Smiles] A curious conclusion! Very possibly this young girl may have wished to deceive: that often occurs. She may even have done something; but then, what she did—she did. But the manifestations of mediumistic energy still remain manifestations of mediumistic energy! It is even very probable that what this young girl did, evoked (and so to say solicited) the manifestation of mediumistic energy,—giving it a definite form.

ANNA PVLOVNA. Another lecture!

PROFESSOR [sternly] You say, Anna Pvlovna, that this girl, and perhaps this dear young lady also, did something; but the light we all saw, and, in the first case the fall, and in the second the rise of temperature, and Grossman's excitement and vibration—were those things also done by this girl? And these are facts, Anna Pvlovna, facts! No! Anna Pvlovna, there are things which must be investigated and fully understood before they can be talked about, things too serious, too serious...

LEOND FYDORITCH. And the child that Mrya Vaslevna distinctly saw? Why, I saw it too.... That could not have been done by this girl.

ANNA PVLOVNA. You think yourself wise, but you are—a fool.

LEOND FYDORITCH. Well, I'm going.... Alexy Vladmiritch, will you come? [Exit into his study].

PROFESSOR [shrugging his shoulders, follows] Oh, how far, how far, we still lag behind Western Europe!

Enter Jacob.

ANNA PVLOVNA [following Leond Fydoritch with her eyes] He has been tricked like a fool, and he sees nothing! [To Jacob] What do you want?

JACOB. How many persons am I to lay the table for?

ANNA PVLOVNA. For how many?... Theodore Ivnitch! Let him give up the silver plate to you. Be off, at once! It is all his fault! This man will bring me to my grave. Last night he nearly starved the dog that had done him no harm! And, as if that were not enough, he lets the infected peasants into the kitchen, and now they are here again! It is all his fault! Be off at once! Discharge him, discharge him! [To Simon] And you, horrid peasant, if you dare to have rows in my house again, I'll teach you!

SECOND PEASANT. All right, if he is a horrid peasant there's no good keeping him; you'd better discharge him too, and there's an end of it.

ANNA PVLOVNA [while listening to him looks at Third Peasant] Only look! Why, he has a rash on his nose—a rash! He is ill; he is a hotbed of infection!! Did I not give orders, yesterday, that they were not to be allowed into the house, and here they are again? Drive them out!

THEODORE IVNITCH. Then are we not to accept their money?

ANNA PVLOVNA. Their money? Oh yes, take their money; but they must be turned out at once, especially this one! He is quite rotten!

THIRD PEASANT. That's not just, lady. God's my witness, it's not just! You'd better ask my old woman, let's say, whether I am rotten! I'm clear as crystal, let's say.

ANNA PVLOVNA. He talks!... Off, off with him! It's all to spite me!... Oh, I can't bear it, I can't!... Send for the doctor! [Runs away, sobbing. Exit also Jacob and Gregory].

TNYA [to Betsy] Miss Elizabeth, darling, what am I to do now?

BETSY. Never mind, you go with them and I'll arrange it all. [Exit].

FIRST PEASANT. Well, your reverence, how about the reception of the sum now?

SECOND PEASANT. Let us settle up, and go.

THIRD PEASANT [fumbling with the packet of bank-notes] Had I known, I'd not have come for the world. It's worse than a fever!

THEODORE IVNITCH [to Doorkeeper] Show them into my room. There's a counting-board there. I'll receive their money. Now go.

DOORKEEPER. Come along.

THEODORE IVNITCH. And it's Tnya you have to thank for it. But for her you'd not have had the land.

FIRST PEASANT. That's just it. As she made the proposal, so she put it into effect.

THIRD PEASANT. She's made men of us. Else what were we? We had so little land, no room to let a hen out, let's say, not to mention the cattle. Good-bye, dear! When you get to the village, come to us and eat honey.

SECOND PEASANT. Let me get home and I'll start brewing the beer for the wedding! You will come?

TNYA. Yes, I'll come, I'll come! [Shrieks] Simon, this is fine, isn't it? [Exeunt Peasants].

THEODORE IVNITCH. Well, Tnya, when you have your house I'll come to visit you. Will you welcome me?

TNYA. Dear Theodore Ivnitch, just the same as we would our own father! [Embraces and kisses him].



[ Transcriber's Note:

The following is a list of corrections made to the original. The first line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

ALEXY VLADMIROVITCH KROUGOSVTLOF. A professor and scientist of about ALEXY VLADMIRITCH KROUGOSVTLOF. A professor and scientist of about

THE FAT LADY: MRYA VASLYEVNA TOLBOHINA. A very distinguished, rich, THE FAT LADY: MRYA VASLEVNA TOLBOHINA. A very distinguished, rich,

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

VASLY LEONDITCH. Then pay up and don't be stingy [To Theodore VASLY LEONDITCH. Then pay up and don't be stingy. [To Theodore

VASLY LEONDITCH. What d'you think, Theodore Ivantch, is he flush of VASLY LEONDITCH. What d'you think, Theodore Ivnitch, is he flush of

THEODORE IVNITCH. I don't know. I hardly think so, But what does it THEODORE IVNITCH. I don't know. I hardly think so. But what does it

COACHMAN. They'd better be brought here to Loukrya COACHMAN. They'd better be brought here to Loukrya.

VASLY LEONDITCH. Excuse me a moment. [To Servants Cook] Where are the VASLY LEONDITCH. Excuse me a moment. [To Servants' Cook] Where are the

do it out of spite. .. I turn them out from there, and they bring them do it out of spite.... I turn them out from there, and they bring them

too!. . [Exit, sobbing, followed by Leond Fydoritch]. too!... [Exit, sobbing, followed by Leond Fydoritch].

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

PETRSTCHEF [trembles] Oh, I'm afraid, I'm afraid! Mrya Konstantnova, PETRSTCHEF [trembles] Oh, I'm afraid, I'm afraid! Mrya Konstantnovna,

LEOND FYDORITCH. Well, it did get there! [Exit Theodore Ivnitch LEOND FYDORITCH. Well, it did get there! [Exit, Theodore Ivnitch

"A raft sails by,' "A raft sails by," ]


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