with me. But I know perfectly well. Oh, it's a bore to talk about. . . . [With a Jewish accent] Excyuz me. . . . Do you know any funny stories?

LVOV No, I don't.

ANNA Nicholas does. . . . I wonder why people are so unjust--why don't they return love for love?--why do they repay truth with lies? Tell me this: how long will my father and mother hate me? They live thirty-five miles from here, yet night and day--even when I'm asleep--I can feel their hatred. And another thing: how do you explain this despondency of Nicholas's? He says it's only in the evening that he stops loving me . . . when he's crushed by despair. I can understand that--I can even accept it. But just suppose the time comes when he stops loving me altogether. It seems impossible, but just suppose it happens. . . . No, no, I won't even let myself think about it. [Sings.]

Swallow, swallow, where were you?

[Shudders.] What dreadful notions I have. . . . You're not married, Doctor. There are many things you can't understand.

LVOV I certainly don't understand you. [He sits nearby.] Please explain this to me: how did it happen that you, an intelligent, honest, almost saintly, woman, allowed yourself to be deceived and dragged into this owl's nest? What are you doing here? What do you have in common with this cold, heartless, and--all right, let's forget your husband for a moment. What do you have in common with this empty, trifling atmosphere? Good God! This grouchy, creaking, crazy old Count. This thief and scoundrel of scoundrels, Mischa, with his repulsive face. Tell me, what are you doing here? How did you happen to

act two

A ballroom in the Lebedev house. Upstage center is an exit into the garden. There are doors to the right and left. The furniture is antique, expensive, and covered. There are pictures on the walls, and illumination is provided by a chandelier.

come here?

ANNA [laughing] That's exactly the way he used to talk to me. Exactly. But his eyes are large, and when he talked about something that way, they'd burn like coals. . . . Go on, talk. . . . Please talk. . . .

LVOV [gets up and shrugs] What more can I say? Better go inside.

ANNA You say Nicholas is this or he's that-- how do you know? Do you think you can know a man in six months? He's a remarkable man, Doctor, and I'm only sorry you didn't meet him two or three years ago. Now he's grim, silent, accomplishing nothing, but then . . . he was wonderful! I fell in love with him at first sight. [She laughs.] I took one look--and I was trapped! He said, "Let's go," and I cut everything away from me the way you prune dead branches from a tree. [A pause.] But now things are changed. Now he goes to the Lebedevs' to enjoy himself with other women, and I sit in the garden and listen to the hooting of the owls. [The night watchman is heard on his rounds.]

ANNA Doctor, do you have any brothers?


[Anna begins to cry.]

LVOV What's the matter? What's wrong?

ANNA [ getting up] I can't stand it any longer, Doctor. I'm going there.

LVOV Where?

ANNA Over there, where he is. . . . I'm going. . . . Tell them to get the carriage ready. [She runs into the house.]

LVOV I won't be responsible for you if you go. [To himself] It's bad enough that they don't pay me a cent--do they have to tear my soul to pieces? No--I won't be responsible. [He goes into the house.]

Seated center on a sofa is Zinaida Savishna, Lebedev's wife, an either side of her are elderly female guests. Younger people are scattered about the room on chairs, and upstage a card game is going on, the players including Kosich, a government employee, Avdotya Nazarovna, an


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Makers of the Modern Theater
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