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Plays by Chekhov, Second Series
by Anton Chekhov
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LUBOV. We're just off to town, and to-morrow I go abroad.

PISCHIN. [Agitated] What? Why to town? I see furniture... trunks.... Well, never mind. [Crying] Never mind. These Englishmen are men of immense intellect.... Never mind.... Be happy.... God will help you.... Never mind.... Everything in this world comes to an end.... [Kisses LUBOV ANDREYEVNA'S hand] And if you should happen to hear that my end has come, just remember this old... horse and say: "There was one such and such a Simeonov-Pischin, God bless his soul...." Wonderful weather... yes.... [Exit deeply moved, but returns at once and says in the door] Dashenka sent her love! [Exit.]

LUBOV. Now we can go. I've two anxieties, though. The first is poor Fiers [Looks at her watch] We've still five minutes....

ANYA. Mother, Fiers has already been sent to the hospital. Yasha sent him off this morning.

LUBOV. The second is Varya. She's used to getting up early and to work, and now she's no work to do she's like a fish out of water. She's grown thin and pale, and she cries, poor thing.... [Pause] You know very well, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, that I used to hope to marry her to you, and I suppose you are going to marry somebody? [Whispers to ANYA, who nods to CHARLOTTA, and they both go out] She loves you, she's your sort, and I don't understand, I really don't, why you seem to be keeping away from each other. I don't understand!

LOPAKHIN. To tell the truth, I don't understand it myself. It's all so strange.... If there's still time, I'll be ready at once... Let's get it over, once and for all; I don't feel as if I could ever propose to her without you.

LUBOV. Excellent. It'll only take a minute. I'll call her.

LOPAKHIN. The champagne's very appropriate. [Looking at the tumblers] They're empty, somebody's already drunk them. [YASHA coughs] I call that licking it up....

LUBOV. [Animated] Excellent. We'll go out. Yasha, allez. I'll call her in.... [At the door] Varya, leave that and come here. Come! [Exit with YASHA.]

LOPAKHIN. [Looks at his watch] Yes.... [Pause.]

[There is a restrained laugh behind the door, a whisper, then VARYA comes in.]

VARYA. [Looking at the luggage in silence] I can't seem to find it....

LOPAKHIN. What are you looking for?

VARYA. I packed it myself and I don't remember. [Pause.]

LOPAKHIN. Where are you going to now, Barbara Mihailovna?

VARYA. I? To the Ragulins.... I've got an agreement to go and look after their house... as housekeeper or something.

LOPAKHIN. Is that at Yashnevo? It's about fifty miles. [Pause] So life in this house is finished now....

VARYA. [Looking at the luggage] Where is it?... perhaps I've put it away in the trunk.... Yes, there'll be no more life in this house....

LOPAKHIN. And I'm off to Kharkov at once... by this train. I've a lot of business on hand. I'm leaving Epikhodov here... I've taken him on.

VARYA. Well, well!

LOPAKHIN. Last year at this time the snow was already falling, if you remember, and now it's nice and sunny. Only it's rather cold.... There's three degrees of frost.

VARYA. I didn't look. [Pause] And our thermometer's broken.... [Pause.]

VOICE AT THE DOOR. Ermolai Alexeyevitch!

LOPAKHIN. [As if he has long been waiting to be called] This minute. [Exit quickly.]

[VARYA, sitting on the floor, puts her face on a bundle of clothes and weeps gently. The door opens. LUBOV ANDREYEVNA enters carefully.]

LUBOV. Well? [Pause] We must go.

VARYA. [Not crying now, wipes her eyes] Yes, it's quite time, little mother. I'll get to the Ragulins to-day, if I don't miss the train....

LUBOV. [At the door] Anya, put on your things. [Enter ANYA, then GAEV, CHARLOTTA IVANOVNA. GAEV wears a warm overcoat with a cape. A servant and drivers come in. EPIKHODOV bustles around the luggage] Now we can go away.

ANYA. [Joyfully] Away!

GAEV. My friends, my dear friends! Can I be silent, in leaving this house for evermore?—can I restrain myself, in saying farewell, from expressing those feelings which now fill my whole being...?

ANYA. [Imploringly] Uncle!

VARYA. Uncle, you shouldn't!

GAEV. [Stupidly] Double the red into the middle.... I'll be quiet.

[Enter TROFIMOV, then LOPAKHIN.]

TROFIMOV. Well, it's time to be off.

LOPAKHIN. Epikhodov, my coat!

LUBOV. I'll sit here one more minute. It's as if I'd never really noticed what the walls and ceilings of this house were like, and now I look at them greedily, with such tender love....

GAEV. I remember, when I was six years old, on Trinity Sunday, I sat at this window and looked and saw my father going to church....

LUBOV. Have all the things been taken away?

LOPAKHIN. Yes, all, I think. [To EPIKHODOV, putting on his coat] You see that everything's quite straight, Epikhodov.

EPIKHODOV. [Hoarsely] You may depend upon me, Ermolai Alexeyevitch!

LOPAKHIN. What's the matter with your voice?

EPIKHODOV. I swallowed something just now; I was having a drink of water.

YASHA. [Suspiciously] What manners....

LUBOV. We go away, and not a soul remains behind.

LOPAKHIN. Till the spring.

VARYA. [Drags an umbrella out of a bundle, and seems to be waving it about. LOPAKHIN appears to be frightened] What are you doing?... I never thought...

TROFIMOV. Come along, let's take our seats... it's time! The train will be in directly.

VARYA. Peter, here they are, your goloshes, by that trunk. [In tears] And how old and dirty they are....

TROFIMOV. [Putting them on] Come on!

GAEV. [Deeply moved, nearly crying] The train... the station.... Cross in the middle, a white double in the corner....

LUBOV. Let's go!

LOPAKHIN. Are you all here? There's nobody else? [Locks the side-door on the left] There's a lot of things in there. I must lock them up. Come!

ANYA. Good-bye, home! Good-bye, old life!

TROFIMOV. Welcome, new life! [Exit with ANYA.]

[VARYA looks round the room and goes out slowly. YASHA and CHARLOTTA, with her little dog, go out.]

LOPAKHIN. Till the spring, then! Come on... till we meet again! [Exit.]

[LUBOV ANDREYEVNA and GAEV are left alone. They might almost have been waiting for that. They fall into each other's arms and sob restrainedly and quietly, fearing that somebody might hear them.]

GAEV. [In despair] My sister, my sister....

LUBOV. My dear, my gentle, beautiful orchard! My life, my youth, my happiness, good-bye! Good-bye!

ANYA'S VOICE. [Gaily] Mother!

TROFIMOV'S VOICE. [Gaily, excited] Coo-ee!

LUBOV. To look at the walls and the windows for the last time.... My dead mother used to like to walk about this room....

GAEV. My sister, my sister!

ANYA'S VOICE. Mother!

TROFIMOV'S VOICE. Coo-ee!

LUBOV. We're coming! [They go out.]

[The stage is empty. The sound of keys being turned in the locks is heard, and then the noise of the carriages going away. It is quiet. Then the sound of an axe against the trees is heard in the silence sadly and by itself. Steps are heard. FIERS comes in from the door on the right. He is dressed as usual, in a short jacket and white waistcoat; slippers on his feet. He is ill. He goes to the door and tries the handle.]

FIERS. It's locked. They've gone away. [Sits on a sofa] They've forgotten about me.... Never mind, I'll sit here.... And Leonid Andreyevitch will have gone in a light overcoat instead of putting on his fur coat.... [Sighs anxiously] I didn't see.... Oh, these young people! [Mumbles something that cannot be understood] Life's gone on as if I'd never lived. [Lying down] I'll lie down.... You've no strength left in you, nothing left at all.... Oh, you... bungler!

[He lies without moving. The distant sound is heard, as if from the sky, of a breaking string, dying away sadly. Silence follows it, and only the sound is heard, some way away in the orchard, of the axe falling on the trees.]

Curtain.

THE END

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