Orville Dewey.

The two great commandments: sermons online

. (page 4 of 5)
Online LibraryOrville DeweyThe two great commandments: sermons → online text (page 4 of 5)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

VoiNrrsKY [throwing the flowers on a chair, speak'
ing in great excitement and wiping his face tvith his
handkerchief] Nothing — yes, yes, nothing.

AsTROFF [sulking] It's a fine day, my dear Ivan
Petrovitdi. This morning, die sky was overcast and it
looked like rain, but now the sun is shining again.
Akkr all, weVe had a very fine autumn, and Ae wheat

■.y^" 'I' - ' Digitized by VjOOQ IC


crop looks unusually promising. [Putting his map
back into the portfolio] But the da3rs are growing short.

Hblena Anoreievna [quickly approaching Voinit-
sky] You must do your best; you must use all the
power you have to get my husband and myself away
from here to-day! Do you hear? I say, to-day!

VoiNiTSKY [wiping his face] Oh ! Ah ! Oh ! Very
well! I — Helena, I saw everything!

Helena Andreievna [greatly agitated] Do you
hear me? I must leave here this very day!

[Serebryakoff , Sonya, Marina and Telyegin enter,]

Telyegin. Pm not feeling very well myself, your
Excellency. I've been lame for two days, and my
head —

Serebryakoff. Where are the rest? I hate this
house. It is a regular labyrinth. Every one is always
scattered through its twenty-six huge rooms. You can
never find a soul. [Ringing] Ask Maria Vassilievna
and Helena Andreievna to come here!

Helena Andreievna. I am here.

Serebryakoff. Please sit down, all of you.

Sonya [going up to Helena Andreievna and asking
anxiously] What did he say?

Helena Andreievna. I'll tell you later.

Sonya. You are all upset. [Looking siviftly and
vJith inquiry into her face] I understand ; he said he


by Google


would not come here any more. [J pause] Tell me,
did he?

[Helena Andreievna nods."]

Serbbryakoff [to Telyeffiti] After all, one can be-
come reconciled to being an invalid, but not to this
life in the country. I feel as if I had been tossed from
this earth and dumped on a strange planet. Please be
seated, ladies and gentlemen. Sonya! [She does not
hear. She stands with her head sadly bent forward."]
Sonya! [A pause] She does not hear me. [Ta
Marina] You sit down, too, nurse. [Marina takes a
seat and resumes knitting her stocking] I bespeak your
indulgence, ladies and gentlemen ; check your ears, if I
may put it so, at the hat-rack of attention. [He

VoiNrrsKY [fit agitation] Perhaps I*m not needed —
may I be excused?

Serbbryakoff. No, you are needed now more
than any one else.

VoiNrrsKY. What do you wiA?

Serbbryakoff. You — but what makes you so
angry? If it is anything I have done, I beg your for-

VoiNrrsKY. Oh, forget that and come to the point;
what do you wish ?

IMaria Fassilievna enters.]


by Google


Serbbryakoff. Here is mother. Ladies and gen-
tlemen, I shall begin. I have asked you to gather
here, my friends, to inform you that the inspector ge n-
eral is coming. All jokes aside, though, I widi to
discuss a very important matter. I must ask you for
your aid and advice, and realizing your unflagging
cordiality, I believe I can count on both. I am a
book-worm and a scholar, and I am not familiar with
practical afiEairs. I am unable, I find, to dispense with
the help of well-informed people such as you, Ivan
Petrovitch, and you, Ilya Ilyitch, and you, mother.
The truth is, tnanet omnes una nox, that is to say, our
lives rest in the hands of God, and as I am old and
ill, I realize that the time has come for me to dispose
of my property in the interests of my family. My life
is nearly finished, and I am not thinking of myself,
but I must consider my young wife and daughter. [J
pause] I cannot go on living in the country; we were
not intended for country life. And yet, we cannot
afford to live in town on the income derived from this
estate. We might sell the forests, but that would be an
expedient to which we could not resort every year. We
must work out some method of guaranteeing ourselves
a certain more or less fixed annual income. With this
object in view, a plan has occurred to me which I
now have the honor of proposing to you for your con-
sideration. I shall give you only a rough outline, fore-


by Google


going all details. Our estate does not pay on an
average more than two per cent, on the investment. I
propose to sell it. If then we invest our capital in
bonds, it will bring us four to five per cent., and we
should probably have a surplus of several thousand
rubles, with which we could buy a modest cottage in
Finland —

VoiNrrsKY. Wait a moment! Repeat what you
said just now ; I don't believe I heard you quite right.

Serebryakoff. I said we would invest the money
in bonds and with the surplus buy a cottage in Finland.

VoiNiTSKY. No, not Finland — you said something

Serebryakoff. I propose to sell this estate.

VoiNiTSKY. Aha ! That was it ! So you are going
to sell the estate? Splendid! That is a rare idea!
And what do you propose to do with my old mother
and myself and with Sonya, here?

Serebryakoff. That will be determined in due
course. We can't do everything at once.

VoiNiTSKY. Wait! It is clear that up to now IVe
never had an ounce of sense in my head. I have always
been stupid enough to think that the estate belonged to
Sonya. My late father bought it as a wedding gift for
my sister, and as our laws were made for Russians and


by Google


not for Turks, I foolishly imagined that my sister's
estate would pass on to her child.

Serebryakoff. Of course it belongs to Sonya. Has
any one denied it? I don't wish to sell it without
Sonya's consent ; on the contrary, what I am doing is
for Sonya's welfare.

VoiNrrsKY. This is wholly beyond comprehension.
Either I have gone insane or — or —

Maria Vassilievna. Jean, don't contradict Alex-
ander. Trust him ; he knows better than we do what is
right and what is wrong.

VoiNrrsKY. No! Give me some water. [He
drinks] Go on! Say anything you like — anything!

Serebryakoff. I can't understand why you are so
upset. I don't pretend that my scheme is ideal, and if
you all object to it, I shall not insist. [A pause.]

Telyegin [u/ith emharrassment] Not only do I
feel a deep respect toward learning, your Excellency,
but I am also drawn toward your culture by family
ties. My brother Grigory's wife's brother, whom you
may know ; his name is Constantin Trofimovitch Lake-
demonofiE, and he used to be a magistrate —

VoiNiTSKY. Stop, Waffles. This is business; wait
a moment, we'll talk of that later. [To Serebryakoff]
There now, ask him what he thinks; this estate was
purchased from his uncle.


by Google


Serbbryakoff. Ah ! Why should I ask questions?
What good would it do?

VoiNiTSKY. The price was ninety-five thousand
rubles. My father paid seventy and left a mortgage
of twenty-five. Now listen ! This estate could never
have been bought if I had not renounced my inherit-
ance in favor of my sister, whom I loved deeply — and
what is more, I worked like an ox for ten years and
paid off the mortgage.

Serbbryakoff. I regret that I ever started this

VoiNiTSKY. Thanks entirely to my personal cflEorts,
the estate has an absolutely clear title, and now, when
I have grown old, you propose to chase me away!

Serbbryakoff. I can't understand what you're
driving at.

VoiNrrsKY. For twenty-five years I have managed
this estate. I have sent you the proceeds from it like
the most honest of servants, and you have never given
me one single word of thanks for my pains, not one —
neither in my youth nor now. You allowed me a
meagre annual salary of five hundred rubles, a beggar's
pittance, and you have never even thought of adding a
ruble to it.

Serbbryakoff. What did I know about such
things, Ivan Petrovitch ? I am not a practical man and


by Google


I don't understand them. You might have helped
yourself to all you desired.

VoiNrrsKY. Yes, why didn't I steal? Don't you
all despise me for not stealing? It would have been
only fair, and I wouldn't be a poor man now.

Maria Vassilievna [sternly] Jean!

Telyegin [in agiiaioin] Vanya, old man, don't talk
like that. Why spoil such a pleasant relationship?
[Embracing him] Do stop !

VoiNiTSKY. For twenty-five years I have been sit-
ting here with my mother like a mole in a burrow.
Every thought and hope we had was yours and yours
alone. All day long we talked with pride of you and
your work, and spoke your name with respect; our
evenings we wasted reading your books and papers
which my soul now detests.

Telyegin. Don't, Vanya, don't. I can't endure it

Serebryakoff [angrily] What in the name of
heaven do you desire, anyhow?

VoiNiTSKY. We used to consider you as a super-
man, almost, but now the scales have fallen from my
eyes and I see you as you are ! You write on art with-
out knowing a thing about it. Those books of yours
which I used to admire aren't worth a copper kopeck.
You are a humbug!


by Google


Serbbryakoff. Can't any one stop him? I'm go-
ing away!

Helena Andreievna. Ivan Pctrovitch, I com-
mand you to stop this instant ! Do you hear me ?

VoiNiTSKY. I refuse! [Serebryakoff tries to escape
from the room, but Voinitsky bars the door^ Wait!
I have not finished yet! You have wrecked my life.
I have never really lived. My best years have gone
for nothing. They have been ruined, thanks to you.
You arc my bitterest enemy !

Telyeoin. I can't stand it; I can't stand it. I'm

[He leaves in great excitement,']

Serebryakoff. But what do you wish of me?
What earthly right have you to address me in such
language? What a trifle! If this estate is yours, then
take it, and let me be ruined ; I don't care !

Helena Andreievna. I shall leave this hell at
once! [Shrieking] I can't bear it any longer!

Voinitsky. My life has been a failure. I am,,
clever and courageous and strong. If I had lived a/
normal life I might have become another Schopen^
hauer or Dostoievsky. I am losing my head! I am
going insane! Mother, I am in despair! Oh^ moth er!!

Maria Vassilievna [sternly] Listen, Alexand^!


by Google


[Sonya falls to her knees beside the nurse and clings
to her.l

SoNYA. Oh, nurse, nurse !

VoiNiTSKY. Mother! What shall I do? No,
don't speak! I know what to do. [To Serebryakoff]
You will remember me !

[He departs through the door in the center of the
room and Maria Vassilievna follows him,"]

Serebryakoff. Tell me, what on earth is the mat-
ter? Take this lunatic out of my sight! I simply
cannot live under the same room with him. [Pointing
to the center door] His room is almost next door to
mine. Let him remove into the village or into the wing
of the house, or I shall leave here at once. I cannot
remain in the same house with him.

Helena Andreievna [to her husband] We arc
leaving to-day; we must prepare at once.

Serebryakoff. What a perfectly frightful man !

SoNYA [on her knees beside the nurse, turning to
her father and speaking with emotion] You must be
kind to us, papa. Uncle Vanya and I are so unhappy !
[Controlling her despair] Have mercy on us! Re-
member how Uncle Vanya and grandmother used to
copy and translate your books for you every night —
every night. Uncle Vanya has toiled without rest ; we
would never spend a penny on ourselves, but sent it all


by Google


to you ! Wc earned every mouthful of bread that we
ate! I am not speaking as I should like to, but you
must understand us, papa, you must have mercy on us.

Helena Andreievna [much excited, to her hus-
band] For heaven's sake, Alexander, go and talk to him
— explain !

Serebryakoff. Very well, I shall talk to him.
I do not accuse him of anything, and I am not angry,
but you must confess that his behavior has been strange,
to say the least. Excuse me, I shall go to him.

[He leaves through the center doorJ]

Helena Andreievna. Be gentle with him. Try
to soothe him. [She follows her husband out,]

SoNYA [snuggling nearer to Marina] Nurse, oh,

Marina. It's all right, baby. When the geese
have cackled they will be silent again. First they
cackle and then they stop.

SoNYA. Nurse !

Marina [caressing her hair] You are trembling all
over, as if you had a chill. There, there, little orphan,
God is merciful. A little linden-tea, and it will all
pass ofiF. Don't cry, my sweet. [Looking angrily at
the center door] See, the geese have all gone now.
The devil take them!


by Google


I J shot is hear d. He lena Andreievna screams be^
hind the scenes. Sonya shudders. li

Marina. Bang! What's that?

Serebryakoff [reeling in, terror-stricken'] Hold
him! Hold him! He has gone mad!

[Helena Andreievna and Voinitsky struggle at the

Helena Andreievna [trying to snatch the re-
volver from him] Give it to me; give it to me, I tell

Voinitsky. Let me go, Helena, let me go! [He
frees himself and rushes in, s earching everywhere fo r
Serebryakoff] Where is he? Ah, there he is! [He
shoots at htn i. A pause] Didn't I get him? I missed
again? [Enraged] Damnation! To hell with him!

[He hurls the revolver to the floor and sinks help-
lessly into a chair. Serebryakoff stands stupefied.
Helena Andreievna leans against the wall, half -faint-

Helena Andreievna. Take me away! Take me
away! I can't stay here — I can't!

Voinitsky [despairingly] What am I doing?
What am I doing?

Sonya [softly] Oh, nurse, nurse!

THE curtain falls.


by Google


Voinitsky's bed-room, which he also uses as his
office, A largie table is near the window; scattered
over it are ledger, letter scales, and papers of all de-
scriptions. Near by is a smaller table belonging to
Astroff, with his paints and drawing materials. A
cage hangs on the wall containing a starling. There
is a map of Africa on the wall, obviously of use to no
ofte, . There is a large sofa covered with canvas, A
door leads to the left into an inner room; one to the
right leads into the front hall, and in front of this door
is a mat on which the peasants clean their muddy
boots. It is an evening in autumn. The stillness is
complete, Telyegin and Marina sit facing each other,
winding wool.

Tblyecin. Hurry, Marina, or we shall be called
away to say good-bye before you have finished. They
have ordered the carriage already.

Marina [trying to wind more rapidly'] There isn't
mudi left to wind.

Telyegin. They are going to Kharkoff to live.


by Google



Marina. They're doing well to go.

Telyegin. They have been frightened. The pro-
fessor's wife refuses to stay here an hour longer. "If
we're going at all, let's be oflF," says Mie, "we shall
go to KharkofiF and look around, and then we can
send for our things." They're traveling light-handed.
It seems, Marina, that fate decreed they should not
live here.

Marina. And quite rightly. What a storm they
raised! It was a shame!

Telyegin. Yes, to be sure! The scene was
worthy of the brush of Aibazovsky.

Marina. I wish I'd never laid eyes on them, [if
pause] Once more things will be as they used to be:
tea at eight, dinner at one, and supper in the evening;
everything in order as decent people and Christians
like it. [Siffhinff] It is a long time since I, poor sin-
ner, have eaten noodles.

Telyegin. Yes, we haven't had noodles for an
age. [J pause] Not for ages. As I was passing
through the village this morning, Marina Timofeievna,
one of the shop-keepers, called after me, "Hi! you
hanger-on!" I felt it bitterly.

Marina. Don't pay a bit of attention to diem,
Httle fadier; we are all dependents on Qod. You,




Sonya, Ivan Pctrovitch and myself — none ol us sits
idle; we all work. All! — Where is Sonya?

Tblyegin. In the garden with the doctor, look-
ing for Ivan Petrovitch. They are afraid he may
lay violent hands on himself.

Marina. Where is his revolver?

Tblyegin [whisperinff] I hid it in the cellar.

Marina [amused] Sinner!

[Foinitsiy and Astroff enter.]

VoiNrrsKY. Let me alone! [To Marina and
Telyegin] Go away! Go away and leave me to my-
self. Only for an hour! I won't have you watching
me this way!

Tblyegin [going out on tip-toe] Yes, yes, Vanya.

Marina [gathering up her wool and leaving]
The gander cackles; ho! ho! ho!

VoiNirsKY. Leave me to myself!

Astroff. I would, with the greatest pleasure. I
should have gone long ago, but I shan't leave you
until you have returned what you took from me.

VoiNirsKY. I took nothing from you.

AsTROi^F. Fm not joking, don't detain me, I seally
have to go.

VoiNrrsKY. I took nothing of yours.


by Google


AsTROFF. You didn't? All right, I shall have to
stay a while longer, and then with your permission I
will have to resort to force. We shall have to bind
you and search you. I mean what I say.

VoiNiTSKY. Do as you please. [J pause] Oh, to
think I made such a fool of myself! To shoot twice
and miss him both times! I shall never forgive

AsTROFF. When you first felt the impulse to shoot,
you might as well have put a bullet through your own

VoiNiTSKY [shrugging his shoulders'] Strange! I
attempted murder, and they're not going to arrest me
or bring me to trial. That means they think Fm
insane. [Laughing bitterly] II jL^am insanejjnd
t he ones w ho hjtfe thrir fiifl'tyi »^*^'^ cnipi'/li'ty^ t\xf\T
shrill cnieltv behind a professor's mask, are sane!
Those who marry old men and then betray them be-
fore the eyes of every one, are sane! I saw you kiss
her; I saw you in each other's arms!

AsTROFF. Yes, sir, I did kiss her; and that's for
you ! [Putting his thumb to his nose]

VoiNirsKY [watching the door] No, it is the earth
that is insane, because it still suffers us to exist

AsTROFF. That's nonsense.


by Google


VoiNiTSKY. Well? Am I not a lunatic, and
therefore irresponsible? Haven't I the rig^t to talk

AsTROFF. This is a farce! Yon are not insane;
you are simply a ridiculous fool. I used to think every \.
fool was out of his senses, but now I^y e that ladc ^
of sense is the normal human state, and you are per * ^

VoiNrrsKY [covering his face with his hands} Oh!
If you knew how ashamed I am! There is nothing
more dreadful under the sun than this bitter sense of
shame. [Agonized] I can't endure it! [Leaning
against the table] What can I do? What can I do ?^

AsTROFF. Nothing.

VoiNrrsKY. Tell me somediing! Oh, my God!
I'am forty-seven. I may live to be sixty; I still have
thirteen years ahead of mc — an eternity! How can
I endure life for thirteen years? What shall I do?
How can I fill them? Oh, don't you see? [Pressing
Astroff's hand convulsively] Don't you see, if I could
only live the rest of my life in some new manner! If
I could only awake some still bright morning and \
feel that my life had begun all over; that the past
was forgiven and had vanished like smoke. [Weeping]
Oh, to begin life anew! Tell me, tell me, how to


by Google


AsTROFF [crossly] Nonsense! What kind of a
n ew life can you and I look fonvarcTto? We hav e
no ho pe.

VoiNirsKY. None?

AsTROFF. ^one. I am. convinced, of that.

VoiNiTSKY. Tell me what to do. [Putting his
hand to his heart] I feel such a burning pain here.

AsTROFF [shouting angrily] Stop! [More mod-
erately] It may be that our posterity, despising us
for our blind and stupid lives, will find some path to
happiness; but we — you and I — have but one hope,
the hope, jtfa at^ visions, ple asa"<- f^f*<i p^rhapg^ may
haunt us as we rest in pur graves. [Sighing] Yes,
brotherj^ in this enjj ry cnmmnnjfy there were only two
decent and in telligent men, you an dL Ten years
or so ofTiis life of ours, this wretched life, have
sucked us under, and we have become as contemptible
and petty as the others. But don't try to talk me
out of my purpose! Will you give me what you took
from me?

VoiNrrsKY. I took nothing from you.

AsTROFF. You took a little bottle of morphine
out of my medicine-case. [A pause] Listen ! If you
arc positively determined to kill yourself, go into the
woods and shoot yourself there. Give me back the


by Google



morphine, or there will be a lot of talk and suspicion ;
people will think I gave it to you. I don't relish
performing a post-mortem on you. Do you think Fd
find it interesting?

[Sonya eHters.l

VoiNiTSKY. Leave rac alone.

AsTROFF [to Sonya] Sonya, your unde has stolen
a bottle of morphine from my medicine-case and won't
give it up. Tell him his behavior is — well, unwise.
I haven't time, I must be going. .

Sonya. Uncle Vanya, did you take the mon^ine?

AsTROFF. Yes, he took it. [J pause] I am abso-
lutely sure.

Sonya. Give it up ! "Wiy do you wish to frighten
us? [Tenderly] Give it up, Uncle Vanya! My sor-
row is perhaps even keener than yours, but I am not
in despair. I endure my grief and shall go on doing
so until my life comes to its natural end. You must
endure yours, too. [A pause] Give it up! [Kissing
his hands] Dear, darling Uncle Vanya. Give it up!
[Weeping] You are so good, I am sure you'll have
pity on us and give it up. You must endure your
grief. Uncle Vanya; you must endure it.

[Voinitsky takes the bottle from the table drawer
and gives it to Jstroff,]


by Google


VcMNiTSKY. There It is! [To Sonya] And now
we must get busy at once; we must do something, or
else ril not be able to stand it.

Sonya. Yes, yes, let's work! As soon as we've
seen them off, we'll go to work. [Nervously she
straightens out the papers on the table] We have
neglected everything!

AsTROFF [putting the bottle in the case and strap'
pin§ fV] Now I can go.

[Helena Andreievna enters.]

Helena Andreievna. Are you here, Ivan Petro-
vitdi? We are starting presently. Go to Alexander,
he wishes to speak to you.

SoNYA. Go, Uncle Vanya. [Taking Voinitskys
arm] Come, you and papa must make peace; that is
absolutely necessary.

[Sonya and Voinitsky depart.]

Helena Andreievna. I am leaving. [Giving
Astroff her hand] Good-bye.

AsTROFF. So soon?

Helena Andreievna. The carriage is waiting.

Astroff. Good-bye.

Helena Andreievna. You promised me that you,
too, would go away to-day.


by Google


AsTROFF. I have forgotten. I am going imme-
diately. [J pause] Were you afraid? [Takinjf her
by the hand] Was it so terrif5ring?

Helena Andrbievna. Yes.

AsTROFF. Couldn't you stay? Couldn't you?
To-morrow — in the forest —

Helena Andreievna. No. Everything is set-
tled, and that is why I can look you so squarely in
the eyes. Our departure is fixed. One thing I must
ask of you: don't think too harshly of me; I should
like you to respect me.

AsTROFF. Ah! [fFith an impatient gesture] Stay,
I beg you! Admit there's nothing for you to do in
this world. You have no object in life; nothing to
occupy your attention. Sooner or later your feelings
will master you. It is inevitable. It would be better
if it happened, not in KharkolF or in Kursk, but here
in the lap of nature. Here, at least, it would be
poetic, even beautiful. Here you have the forests,
the half-ruined houses of which Turgenieff writes,

Helena Andreievna. How droll you are ! I am
angry with you and yet I shall always remember 3rou
with pleasure. You are interesting and original. You
and I will never meet again, and so I shall tell you
— why conceal it? — that I am just a little in love
with you. Come, one last handclasp, and then let us


by Google


part good friends. Let us not bear each other atiy

AsTROFF Ipressinf her hand] Yes, go. [Thought'
fully] You seem sincere and good, and yet there is
something strangely restless about your personality.
The moment you and your husband arrived here,
every one whom you found busy and engaged in
active, creative work felt compelled to drop it and
give himself up to your husband's gout and yourself
for the entire summer. You and he have contami-
nated us with your idleness. I have been swept from
my moorings; I haven't put my hand to a thing for
weeks. Sickness has been running its course un-
checked among the people, and the peasants have been
using my forests and young plantations as a pasture
for their cattle. Wherever you go, you and your
husband will always carry destruction in your wake.

1 2 4

Online LibraryOrville DeweyThe two great commandments: sermons → online text (page 4 of 5)