straight out of the house.
You are such a fantastical creature, God bless you! What I think is: one
should do what one likes, only be sure it's kept dark!
I don't like that. What good can come of it! I had much better bear it as
long as I can bear it.
And when you can't bear it, what will you do?
What shall I do?
Yes, what will you do?
Whatever I long to do, I will do.
Just try; why they'd torment you to death.
What do I care! I should go away, and that would be the end of it.
Where would you go? You are a married woman.
Ah, Varia, you don't know me! I pray, of course, it may never come to
that! But if I am too miserable here, they would not keep me by any force
on earth. I should throw myself out of the window, I should drown myself
in the Volga. If I will not to live here, then I would not, they might cut
me to pieces! (_Silence._)
Do you know what, Katia! When Tihon's gone, let's sleep in the garden, in
Oh, why, Varia?
Why, isn't it just the same to you?
I'm timid of sleeping in a place I'm not used to.
Timid, nonsense! Glasha will be with us.
Still one feels nervous, somehow! But perhaps I will.
I wouldn't have asked you, only mamma wouldn't let me alone, and I must.
KATERINA (_looking at her_).
We'll tell our fortunes together there.
You must be joking.
To be sure, I am joking; did you think I meant it?
Where can Tihon be?
Why, do you want him?
No, I only wondered, he has to start so soon.
He's sitting locked up with mamma. She's nagging away at him now.
For nothing at all, teaching him to mind what he's about. He'll be a
fortnight away out of her sight! Only fancy! She has an uneasy inkling all
the time that he'll enjoy himself when he's his own master. And so she's
busy now laying all sorts of injunctions upon him, each more imperative
than the last, and then she'll take him up to the holy picture and make
him swear solemnly that he'll do everything exactly and precisely
according to her bidding.
And so even when he's free he'll be as good as bound.
Bound! Oh, will he! As soon as he gets away, he'll start drinking, you may
be sure. He says nothing now, but all the while he's only thinking how to
get away as soon as possible.
[_Enter Mme. Kabanova and Kabanov_.
The Same with KABANOV and MADAME KABANOVA.
Now do you remember everything I've told you? Mind you do remember it!
Keep it in your heart!
Well, now everything is ready. The horses are at the door. You've only to
say good-bye and be off in God's name.
Yes, mamma, it's time I was off.
What do you desire?
Why are you standing about? Don't you know the way to do things? Lay your
commands upon your wife, exhort her how she is to live in your absence.
[_Katerina looks on the ground_.
But she knows quite well without that.
The way you talk! Come, come, give your commands, that I may hear what
commands you lay upon her! And then when you come back, you can ask if she
has performed everything exactly.
KABANOV (_standing opposite Katerina_).
Obey mamma, Katia.
Tell her not to be saucy to her mother-in-law.
Don't be saucy!
To revere her mother-in-law as her own mother.
Revere mamma, Katia, as your own mother.
Not to sit with her hands in her lap like a fine lady.
Do some work while I am away!
Not to go staring out of window!
But, mamma, whenever has she....
Don't look out of window!
Not to stare at young fellows while you are away!
But that is too much, mamma, for mercy's sake!
MME. KABANOVA (_severely_).
Enough of this nonsense! It's your duty to do what your mother tells you.
(_With a smile_) It's always as well when it's forbidden.
KABANOV (_in great confusion_).
Don't look at young men! [_Katerina looks sternly at him_.
Well, now you can talk by yourselves a little, if you want to. Come,
Varvara! [_They go out_.
KABANOV and KATERINA (_she stands as though turned to stone_).
Katia! (_Silence_.) Katia, you're not angry with me?
KATERINA (_after a protracted silence - shakes her head_).
But why are you like this? Come, forgive me!
KATERINA (_still in the same position, slightly shaking her head_).
Peace be with you! (_Hiding her face in her hands_) She has hurt me!
If you take everything to heart so, you'll soon fall into a decline. Why
listen to her! You know she must talk! Well then, let her talk, and you
let it go in at one ear and out at the other. Come, good-bye, Katia!
KATERINA (_falling on her husband's neck_).
Tisha, don't go away! For God's sake, don't go away! Dear one, I implore
I must, Katia. When mamma sends me, how can I not go?
Well, take me with you, do take me!
KABANOV (_freeing himself from her embrace_).
But it's impossible!
Oh, why, Tisha, impossible?
Much fun there would be in going with you! You've worried me out of my
life here between you! No sooner have I a hope of escaping than you want
to fasten yourself upon me.
Why, can it be that you are tired of me?
No, I'm not tired of you; but to get out of this slavery a man would run
away from the loveliest woman in the world! Just consider for a minute; I
may not be good for much; but I'm a man anyway; and living all my life as
you see, one's glad to run away from one's wife even. Why, when I think
now, that for two whole weeks there'll be no storm hanging over me, no
fetters on my legs, - do you suppose I can think of my wife?
How can I care for you, when you say things like that?
Say things? Why, what things am I to say? God knows what it is you're
afraid of! You won't be alone, you know, you'll be with mamma.
Don't speak of her, don't torture my heart! Ah, how wretched I am, how
wretched! (_Weeps_.) Where can I go? Whom can I cling to? Merciful
Heavens, I am lost!
Come, be quiet!
KATERINA (_goes up to her husband and draws him to her_).
Tisha, dear one, if you would stay, if you would take me with you, how I
would love you, how I would cherish you, my dear one!
I can't make you out, Katia! Often there's no getting a word out of you,
to say nothing of a kiss, and now you come coaxing up to me of your own
Tisha, what are you leaving me to? There'll be trouble when you're away!
There'll be trouble!
Now, come, I can't, so it's no use.
Well, here then! Take from me some dreadful vow....
A vow that I will not dare while you're away on any ground whatever to
speak with any outsider, nor see anyone, - that I will not even dare to
think of anyone but you.
But what's this for?
Set my heart at rest, do this for me!
But one can never answer for oneself like that, anything may come into
KATERINA (_falling on her knees_).
May I never look upon my father nor my mother! May I die impenitent,
KABANOV (_pulling her up_).
Hush! Nonsense! What wickedness is this! I won't hear you!
[_Voice of Mme. Kabanova heard without, "It's time to start, Tihon!" Enter
Mme. Kabanova, Varvara and Glasha._
MME. KABANOVA, VARVARA and GLASHA.
Come, Tihon, it's time now! Set off on your way in God's name! (_sits
down_). Sit down, all of you! (_All sit down. Silence_.) Now, good-bye!
(_Gets up and all get up_.)
KABANOV (_going up to his mother_).
MME. KABANOVA (_with a wave of her hand points him to the ground_).
At my feet! At my feet! (_Kabanov bows down to her feet, then kisses his
mother_.) Say good-bye to your wife.
Good-bye, Katia! [_Katerina falls on his neck_.
What do you want to hang on his neck like that for, shameless hussy! It's
not a lover you're parting from! He's your husband - your head! Don't you
know how to behave? Bow down at his feet! [_Katerina bows down to his
Good-bye, sister (_kisses Varvara_). Good-bye! Glasha (_kisses Glasha_).
Good-bye, mamma! (_bows down to the ground_).
Good-bye! Long farewells mean foolish tears.
[_Kabanov goes out, after him Katerina, Varvara, and Glasha_.
MME. KABANOVA (_alone_).
The way young folks behave! It makes one laugh really to see them! If they
weren't my own, I could laugh till I split. They don't know the way to do
anything properly. Can't even take leave with decorum. A lucky thing it is
for them that they have elder folk, who will keep their house together as
long as they're living. And yet, the silly fools, they long to be their
own masters, though when they do have their own way, they get in a mess
directly to the scandal and amusement of all worthy folk. One here and
there, to be sure, will be sorry for them, but for the most part they'll
all laugh. No one can help laughing either; they'll invite guests, and not
know how they should sit, and what's more, as likely as not, they leave
out some one of their relations. It's simply comical. But the old order's
passing away. There are some houses one doesn't care to go into. If you do
cross the threshold, all you can do is to spit, and get away as quick as
may be. What will happen when the old people are dead, how the world will
go on, I really can't think. I'm thankful anyway, that I shall see nothing
[_Enter Katerina and Varvara._
MME. KABANOVA, KATERINA, and VARVARA.
You make a boast of loving your husband so much; I see now how much your
love's worth. Any other good wife, on seeing her husband off, would wail
for a good hour and a half, lying on the steps; but one can see you're not
There's no reason to be! Besides, I don't know how to wail. Why make the
No great art is needed. If you loved him you would have learnt to do it.
If you can't wail properly, you should wail a little, if only for example.
It is always more decorous; or else one sees it is all words with you.
Well, I'm going to pray to God; do not interrupt me.
I'm going out.
MME. KABANOVA (_caressingly_).
I've nothing against it! Go and enjoy yourself till your time comes.
You'll have sitting indoors enough later on! [_Exeunt Mme. Kabanova and
KATERINA (_alone, dreamily_).
Well, now, peace reigns in our house! Ah, the dreariness. If only there
were children! That's the saddest thing! I have no children; I should sit
with them and amuse them all day. I love talking to little children - they
are angels, really. (_Silence._) If I had died when I was little, it would
have been better. I should have looked down on to the earth from Heaven
and been delighted with everything. I should have flown unseen wherever I
liked. I would have floated into the country and fluttered from flower to
flower, like a butterfly. (_Sinks into a reverie_) I know what I will do;
I will begin some piece of work, as an offering to God. I will go to the
bazaar, and buy some stuff and make some clothes to give to the poor. They
will remember me in their prayers. And so I'll sit sewing with Varvara,
and we shall not notice how the time passes; and soon Tisha will be back.
KATERINA and VARVARA.
VARVARA (_putting a kerchief on her head before the looking-glass_).
I am just going out for a walk now; Glasha's putting our beds in the
summer house now, mamma's consented to let us sleep there. Mamma always
keeps the little gate in the garden behind the raspberries locked up and
hides the key. I've taken it and put another one in its place for her, so
she won't notice it. Here, see, maybe, it will be wanted (_gives the
key_). If I see him, I shall tell him to come to the little gate.
KATERINA (_with horror, pushing away the key_).
What for! what for! No! no!
If you don't want it, I do; take it, it won't bite you!
But what are you plotting, wicked girl? It's impossible! Do you know what
you're doing? It's dreadful, dreadful!
Well, well - Least said is soonest mended; and I've no time to stay either.
It's time for my walk.
KATERINA (_alone, holding the key in her hand_).
The things she thinks of doing! Ah, she's a mad girl, really mad! Here is
ruin! Here it is! Fling it away, fling it far away, drop it into the
river, that it may never be found. It burns the hand like fire. (_Musing_)
This is how we women come to ruin. How can anyone be happy in bondage? One
may be driven to anything. Many a one is glad if she gets the chance; she
flings herself headlong. But how can they, without thinking, without
reflecting! Easy is the path that leads to misfortune! And then tears and
anguish all your life: your bondage is bitterer than ever. (_Silence_) But
bitter is a life of bondage, ah, how bitter! Who does not weep in it! Most
of all, we women. Here am I now! I am fretting away my life, and I see no
loophole of light and hope before me! And I never shall see it, that's
certain! It'll be worse as it goes on. And now this wickedness too has
come upon me. (_Muses_) If it were not for my mother-in-law! ... She is
crushing me.... She has made the house hateful to me.... I loathe the
very walls because of her. (_Looks dreamily at the key_) Throw it away? Of
course, I must throw it away. And how came it into my hands? For my
temptation, for my undoing. (_Listens_) Ah, someone is coming. How my
heart is beating! (_hides the key in her pocket_) No! ... No one! ... Why
was I so frightened? And I have put away the key.... Well, that's a sign
it is to be! Fate itself, it seems, wills it! And where is the sin if I do
look at him just once, from a distance. Even if I speak to him, still
there's no harm in that! But what I said to Tihon ... why, he would not
have it himself. And maybe, such a chance will not come again all my life
long. Then I may well weep to myself - that there was a chance and I had
not sense to seize it. But why talk, why cheat myself? If I die for it, I
must see him. Whom am I trying to deceive.... Throw away the key! No, for
nothing in the whole world! It is mine now.... Come what may, I will see
Boris! Ah, night! come quickly!
The Street. The gates of the Kabanovs' house, a garden seat before the
MME. KABANOVA and FEKLUSHA (_sitting on the bench_).
The end of the world is at hand, ma'am, by every sign and token, Marfa
Ignatievna, the end of the world is at hand. It's peace and paradise still
here in your town, but in other towns it's simply Sodom, ma'am: the noise,
the bustle, the incessant traffic! The people keep running, one one way,
and one another.
We've no need to hurry, my dear, we live without haste.
No, ma'am; there is peace and quietness in this town, because there are
many people, you for instance, adorned with virtues, as with flowers;
that's why everything is done decorously and tranquilly. Why, what is the
meaning of all that haste and bustle, ma'am? It is vanity, to be sure! In
Moscow now: the folk run to and fro; there's no knowing for why. It is all
vanity. It is a people, full of vanity, ma'am, and so it runs to and fro.
Each one fancies he's hurrying on business; he hastens, poor fellow,
doesn't recognise people; it seems to him that someone is beckoning him;
but when he gets to the place, sure enough it's empty, there's nothing
there, it's only a dream. And he is downcast and disappointed. And another
one fancies that he's overtaking someone he knows. Anyone looking on can
see in a trice that there's no one; but it seems to him in his vanity and
delusion that he's overtaking someone. Vanity, to be sure, is like a fog
about them. Here among you on a fine evening like this, it's not often
anyone even comes out to sit at his gate; but in Moscow now there's
walking and playing, and a fearful racket going on in the street; a
continual roar. And what's more, Marfa Ignatievna, ma'am, they've
harnessed a fiery serpent to drive: all, look you, for the sake of more
I have heard tell of it, my dear.
But I, ma'am, have seen it with my own eyes; no doubt, others, in
blindness and vanity, see nothing, so it seems a machine to them, but I
saw it doing like this _(spreading out her fingers)_ with its paws. And a
roar, too, that folks of righteous life hear for what it is.
You can call it anything you like, call it a machine, if you will; the
people is foolish and will believe anything. But as for me you might load
me with gold, I wouldn't drive with such a thing.
The very idea, ma'am! The Lord preserve us from such a thing. And let me
tell you too, Marfa Ignatievna, ma'am, a vision I had in Moscow. I went
out early in the morning, it was just dawn, and on a high, very high
house, on the roof, I saw someone standing, with a black face. You
understand whom I mean. And he kept moving his hands, as though he were
scattering something, but nothing fell. Then I divined that he was the
enemy sowing tares, and the people in their blindness see it not, and
gather them up. And that is why they run to and fro so, and the women
among them are all so thin, and never get plump and comfortable, but
always look as if they had lost something, or were looking for something,
and that careworn they are, you feel sorry for them.
Anything is possible, my dear, in our times, one can't be surprised at
Hard times they are, Marfa Ignatievna, ma'am, very hard. Already the time
has begun diminishing.
How is that? diminishing, my dear?
We, of course - how should we observe it in our blindness and vanity? but
wise people have observed that time has grown shorter with us. Once the
summer and the winter dragged on endlessly, you got tired of looking for
the end of them, but now, before one's time to look about one, they've
flown. The days and the hours still seem the same, of course; but the time
keeps growing shorter and shorter, for our sins. That's what the learned
folk say about it.
And worse than that will be, my dear.
I only trust we shan't live to see it.
Maybe, we shall. [_Enter Dikoy._
The Same and DIKOY.
What brings you abroad so late, old friend?
Why, who's to hinder me being out, I should like to know?
Who wants to hinder you, indeed!
Well, then what's the use of talking? Whose control am I under, hey? What
next will you say? What the devil....
Now then, keep a little check on your tongue! You'd better look out for
someone else to talk to! I won't let you off so easily as some do! Go your
way wherever you're going. Come indoors, Feklusha.
Wait a bit, old friend, wait a bit! Don't be angry. You're in no hurry to
get home; your home's not many miles away. Here it is!
If you've come on business, don't shout at me, but speak out plainly.
I've no business, but I'm drunk, that's what it is!
Well, would you have me praise you for that, hey?
Needn't praise or blame. Only I'm drunk, and that's all about it. I can't
get over it till I've slept it off.
Well, go and have a sleep then.
Where am I to go?
Home, of course, where else?
But if I don't want to go home.
Why not, allow me to ask you?
Because I've a row going on there.
Why, who is there to quarrel with? You're the only quarrelsome one there,
Well, what if I am quarrelsome, hey? What of it, hey?
Oh, nothing. Only there's no great glory in doing battle all your life
with women, that's all.
Well, I suppose they ought to obey me! Or am I to obey them, hey?
I really wonder at you; with all the crowd of folks in your house, not a
single one can do anything to your liking.
Come, what do you want of me?
Well, talk me out of my temper. You're the only person in the whole town
who knows how to talk to me.
Go in, Feklusha, and order a little something to be served. _(Feklusha
goes.)_ Let's go indoors.
No, I'm not going indoors, I'm worse indoors!
How have they put you into such a rage?
I've been so all day since the morning.
I suppose they've been asking for money.
As if they were in league together, damn them. One after another the whole
day long they've been at me.
No doubt you'll have to give it them, or they wouldn't persist.
I know that; but what would you have me do, since I've a temper like that?
Why, I know that I must pay, still I can't do it with a good will. You're
a friend of mine, and I've to pay you something, and you come and ask me
for it, I'm bound to swear at you! Pay I will, if pay I must, but I must
swear too. For you've only to hint at money to me, and I feel hot all over
in a minute; red-hot all over, and that's all about it. And to be sure at
such times, I'd swear at anyone for nothing at all.
You've no one over you, and so you think you can do as you like.
No, you hold your tongue! Listen to me! I'll tell you the sort of troubles
that happen to me. I had fasted and all ready for sacrament in Lent, and
then the evil one thrusts a wretched peasant under my nose. He had come
for money, - for wood he had supplied us. And for my sins he must needs
show himself at a time like that! I fell into sin, of course, I pitched
into him, pitched into him finely, I did, all but thrashed him. There you
have it, my temper! Afterwards I asked his pardon, bowed down at his feet,
upon my word I did. It's the truth I'm telling you, I bowed down at a
peasant's feet. That's what my temper brings me to: on the spot there, in
the mud I bowed down at his feet; before everyone, I did.
But what do you work yourself up into a rage on purpose for? That's not
right, my friend!
On purpose? How d'you mean?
I've seen you, I know all about it. When you see that people are going to
ask you for anything, you go and pick a quarrel purposely with one of your
household, so as to work yourself into a rage. For you know that when
you're in a rage, no one dare come near you. That's a pretty thing!
Well, what of it? Who likes parting with his property?
[_Glasha comes in._
Marfa Ignatievna, lunch is served!
Well, old friend, come in! Have a taste of what God has sent us!
Pray walk in. _(Ushers Dikoy in front and follows him in. Glasha, folding
her arms, stands at the gates.)_
If that isn't Boris Grigoritch coming. Sure now he's not after his uncle?
Or may be, just out for a stroll - to be sure, out for a stroll, he must
be. [_Enter Boris._
GLASHA, BORIS, later KULIGIN.
Isn't my uncle inside?
Yes. Do you want him?
They sent me from home to find out where he was. But since he's with you
let him stop there; no one wants him. At home they're pleased and happy
that he's out.
Our good lady out to marry him, she'd soon make him mind what he's about.
But I mustn't stop here gossiping with you! Good-bye. [_Exit._
Ah, merciful Heavens! For one glimpse of her! I can't go into the house.
No one calls anywhere uninvited in this place. What a life! We are living
in the same town, almost next door; yet we barely see each other once a
week, and then only in church, or in the street, - and that's all! When a