The Cherry Orchard - Chekhov
Act: I II
In a field. An old, crooked shrine, which has been long
abandoned; near it a well and large stones, which apparently are
old tombstones, and an old garden seat. The road is seen to
GAEV'S estate. On one side rise dark poplars, behind them begins
the cherry orchard. In the distance is a row of telegraph poles,
and far, far away on the horizon are the indistinct signs of a
large town, which can only be seen on the finest and clearest
days. It is close on sunset. CHARLOTTA, YASHA, and DUNYASHA are
sitting on the seat; EPIKHODOV stands by and plays on a guitar;
all seem thoughtful. CHARLOTTA wears a man's old peaked cap; she
has unslung a rifle from her shoulders and is putting to rights
the buckle on the strap.
CHARLOTTA. [Thoughtfully] I haven't a real passport. I don't
know how old I am, and I think I'm young. When I was a little
girl my father and mother used to go round fairs and give very
good performances and I used to do the salto mortale and various
little things. And when papa and mamma died a German lady took
me to her and began to teach me. I liked it. I grew up and
became a governess. And where I came from and who I am, I don't
know. . . . Who my parents were--perhaps they weren't married--I
don't know. [Takes a cucumber out of her pocket and eats] I
don't know anything. [Pause] I do want to talk, but I haven't
anybody to talk to . . . I haven't anybody at all.
EPIKHODOV. [Plays on the guitar and sings]
"What is this noisy earth to me,
What matter friends and foes?"
I do like playing on the mandoline!
DUNYASHA. That's a guitar, not a mandoline.
[Looks at herself in a little mirror and powders herself.]
EPIKHODOV. For the enamoured madman, this is a mandoline.
"Oh that the heart was warmed,
By all the flames of love returned!"
YASHA sings too.
CHARLOTTA. These people sing terribly. . . . Foo! Like jackals.
DUNYASHA. [To YASHA] Still, it must be nice to live abroad.
YASHA. Yes, certainly. I cannot differ from you there. [Yawns
and lights a cigar.]
EPIKHODOV. That is perfectly natural. Abroad everything is in
YASHA. That goes without saying.
EPIKHODOV. I'm an educated man, I read various remarkable books,
but I cannot understand the direction I myself want to
go--whether to live or to shoot myself, as it were. So, in case,
I always carry a revolver about with me. Here it is. [Shows a
CHARLOTTA. I've done. Now I'll go. [Slings the rifle] You,
Epikhodov, are a very clever man and very terrible; women must
be madly in love with you. Brrr!! [Going] These wise ones are
all so stupid. I've nobody to talk to. I'm always alone, alone;
I've nobody at all . . . and I don't know who I am or why I
live. [Exit slowly.]
EPIKHODOV. As a matter of fact, independently of everything
else, I must express my feeling, among other things, that fate
has been as pitiless in her dealings with me as a storm is to a
small ship. Suppose, let us grant, I am wrong; then why did I
wake up this morning, to give an example, and behold an enormous
spider on my chest, like that. [Shows with both hands] And if I
do drink some kvass, why is it that there is bound to be
something of the most indelicate nature in it, such as a beetle?
[Pause] Have you read Buckle? [Pause] I should like to trouble
you, Avdotya Fedorovna, for two words.
DUNYASHA. Say on.
EPIKHODOV. I should prefer to be alone with you. [Sighs.]
DUNYASHA. [Shy] Very well, only first bring me my little cloak.
. . . It's by the cupboard. It's a little damp here.
EPIKHODOV. Very well ... I'll bring it. . . . Now I know what to
do with my revolver. [Takes guitar and exits, strumming.]
YASHA. Two-and-twenty troubles! A silly man, between you and me
and the gatepost. [Yawns.]
DUNYASHA. I hope to goodness he won't shoot himself. [Pause] I'm
so nervous, I'm worried. I went into service when I was quite a
little girl, and now I'm not used to common life, and my hands
are white, white as a lady's. I'm so tender and so delicate now;
respectable and afraid of everything. . . . I'm so frightened.
And I don't know what will happen to my nerves if you deceive
YASHA. [Kisses her] Little cucumber! Of course, every girl must
respect herself; there's nothing I dislike more than a badly
DUNYASHA. I'm awfully in love with you; you're educated, you can
talk about everything. [Pause.]
YASHA. [Yawns] Yes. I think this: if a girl loves anybody, then
that means she's immoral. [Pause] It's nice to smoke a cigar out
in the open air. . . . [Listens] Somebody's coming. It's the
mistress, and people with her. [DUNYASHA embraces him suddenly]
Go to the house, as if you'd been bathing in the river; go by
this path, or they'll meet you and will think I've been meeting
you. I can't stand that sort of thing.
DUNYASHA. [Coughs quietly] My head's aching because of your
Exit. YASHA remains, sitting by the shrine. Enter LUBOV
ANDREYEVNA, GAEV, and LOPAKHIN.
LOPAKHIN. You must make up your mind definitely--there's no time
to waste. The question is perfectly plain. Are you willing to
let the land for villas or no? Just one word, yes or no? Just
LUBOV. Who's smoking horrible cigars here? [Sits.]
GAEV. They built that railway; that's made this place very
handy. [Sits] Went to town and had lunch . . . red in the
middle! I'd like to go in now and have just one game.
LUBOV. You'll have time.
LOPAKHIN. Just one word! [Imploringly] Give me an answer!
GAEV. [Yawns] Really!
LUBOV. [Looks in her purse] I had a lot of money yesterday, but
there's very little to-day. My poor Varya feeds everybody on
milk soup to save money, in the kitchen the old people only get
peas, and I spend recklessly. [Drops the purse, scattering gold
coins] There, they are all over the place.
YASHA. Permit me to pick them up. [Collects the coins.]
LUBOV. Please do, Yasha. And why did I go and have lunch there?
. . . A horrid restaurant with band and tablecloths smelling of
soap. . . . Why do you drink so much, Leon? Why do you eat so
much? Why do you talk so much? You talked again too much to-day
in the restaurant, and it wasn't at all to the point--about the
seventies and about decadents. And to whom? Talking to the
waiters about decadents!
GAEV. [Waves his hand] I can't be cured, that's obvious. . . .
[Irritably to YASHA] What's the matter? Why do you keep twisting
about in front of me?
YASHA. [Laughs] I can't listen to your voice without laughing.
GAEV. [To his sister] Either he or I . . .
LUBOV. Go away, Yasha; get out of this. . . .
YASHA. [Gives purse to LUBOV ANDREYEVNA] I'll go at once.
[Hardly able to keep from laughing] This minute. . . . [Exit.]
LOPAKHIN. That rich man Deriganov is preparing to buy your
estate. They say he'll come to the sale himself.
LUBOV. Where did you hear that?
LOPAKHIN. They say so in town.
GAEV. Our Yaroslav aunt has promised to send something, but I
don't know when or how much.
LOPAKHIN. How much will she send? A hundred thousand roubles? Or
LUBOV. I'd be glad of ten or fifteen thousand.
LOPAKHIN. You must excuse my saying so, but I've never met such
frivolous people as you before, or anybody so unbusinesslike and
peculiar. Here I am telling you in plain language that your
estate will be sold, and you don't seem to understand.
LUBOV. What are we to do? Tell us, what?
LOPAKHIN. I tell you every day. I say the same thing every day.
Both the cherry orchard and the land must be leased off for
villas and at once, immediately--the auction is staring you in
the face: Understand! Once you do definitely make up your minds
to the villas, then you'll have as much money as you want and
you'll be saved.
LUBOV. Villas and villa residents--it's so vulgar, excuse me.
GAEV. I entirely agree with you.
LOPAKHIN. I must cry or yell or faint. I can't stand it! You're
too much for me! [To GAEV] You old woman!
LOPAKHIN. Old woman! [Going out.]
LUBOV. [Frightened] No, don't go away, do stop; be a dear.
Please. Perhaps we'll find some way out!
LOPAKHIN. What's the good of trying to think!
LUBOV. Please don't go away. It's nicer when you're here. . . .
[Pause] I keep on waiting for something to happen, as if the
house is going to collapse over our heads.
GAEV. [Thinking deeply] Double in the corner . . . across the
middle. . . .
LUBOV. We have been too sinful. . . .
LOPAKHIN. What sins have you committed?
GAEV. [Puts candy into his mouth] They say that I've eaten all
my substance in sugar-candies. [Laughs.]
LUBOV. Oh, my sins. . . . I've always scattered money about
without holding myself in, like a madwoman, and I married a man
who made nothing but debts. My husband died of champagne--he
drank terribly--and to my misfortune, I fell in love with
another man and went off with him, and just at that time--it was
my first punishment, a blow that hit me right on the head--here,
in the river . . . my boy was drowned, and I went away, quite
away, never to return, never to see this river again. . . I shut
my eyes and ran without thinking, but he ran after me . . .
without pity, without respect. I bought a villa near Mentone
because he fell ill there, and for three years I knew no rest
either by day or night; the sick man wore me out, and my soul
dried up. And last year, when they had sold the villa to pay my
debts, I went away to Paris, and there he robbed me of all I had
and threw me over and went off with another woman. I tried to
poison myself. . . . It was so silly, so shameful. . . . And
suddenly I longed to be back in Russia, my own land, with my
little girl. . . . [Wipes her tears] Lord, Lord be merciful to
me, forgive me my sins! Punish me no more! [Takes a telegram out
of her pocket] I had this to-day from Paris. . . . He begs my
forgiveness, he implores me to return. . . . [Tears it up] Don't
I hear music? [Listens.]
GAEV. That is our celebrated Jewish band. You remember--four
violins, a flute, and a double-bass.
LUBOV So it still exists? It would be nice if they came along
LOPAKHIN. [Listens] I can't hear. . . . [Sings quietly] "For
money will the Germans make a Frenchman of a Russian." [Laughs]
I saw such an awfully funny thing at the theatre last night.
LUBOV. I'm quite sure there wasn't anything at all funny. You
oughtn't to go and see plays, you ought to go and look at
yourself. What a grey life you lead, what a lot you talk
LOPAKHIN. It's true. To speak the straight truth, we live a
silly life. [Pause] My father was a peasant, an idiot, he
understood nothing, he didn't teach me, he was always drunk, and
always used a stick on me. In point of fact, I'm a fool and an
idiot too. I've never learned anything, my handwriting is bad, I
write so that I'm quite ashamed before people, like a pig!
LUBOV. You ought to get married, my friend.
LOPAKHIN. Yes . . . that's true.
LUBOV. Why not to our Varya? She's a nice girl.
LUBOV. She's quite homely in her ways, works all day, and, what
matters most, she's in love with you. And you've liked her for a
LOPAKHIN. Well? I don't mind . . . she's a nice girl. [Pause.]
GAEV. I'm offered a place in a bank. Six thousand roubles a
year. . . Did you hear?
LUBOV. What's the matter with you! Stay where you are. . . .
Enter FIERS with an overcoat.
FIERS. [To GAEV] Please, sir, put this on, it's damp.
GAEV. [Putting it on] You're a nuisance, old man.
FIERS It's all very well. . . . You went away this morning
without telling me. [Examining GAEV.]
LUBOV. How old you've grown, Fiers!
FIERS. I beg your pardon?
LOPAKHIN. She says you've grown very old!
FIERS. I've been alive a long time. They were already getting
ready to marry me before your father was born. . . . [Laughs]
And when the Emancipation came I was already first valet. Only I
didn't agree with the Emancipation and remained with my people.
. . . [Pause] I remember everybody was happy, but they didn't
LOPAKHIN. It was very good for them in the old days. At any
rate, they used to beat them.
FIERS. [Not hearing] Rather. The peasants kept their distance
from the masters and the masters kept their distance from the
peasants, but now everything's all anyhow and you can't
GAEV. Be quiet, Fiers. I've got to go to town tomorrow. I've
been promised an introduction to a General who may lend me money
on a bill.
LOPAKHIN. Nothing will come of it. And you won't pay your
interest, don't you worry.
LUBOV. He's talking rubbish. There's no General at all.
Enter TROFIMOV, ANYA, and VARYA.
GAEV. Here they are.
ANYA. Mother's sitting down here.
LUBOV. [Tenderly] Come, come, my dears. . . . [Embracing ANYA
and VARYA] If you two only knew how much I love you. Sit down
next to me, like that. [All sit down.]
LOPAKHIN. Our eternal student is always with the ladies.
TROFIMOV. That's not your business.
LOPAKHIN. He'll soon be fifty, and he's still a student.
TROFIMOV. Leave off your silly jokes!
LOPAKHIN. Getting angry, eh, silly?
TROFIMOV. Shut up, can't you.
LOPAKHIN. [Laughs] I wonder what you think of me?
TROFIMOV. I think, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, that you're a rich man,
and you'll soon be a millionaire. Just as the wild beast which
eats everything it finds is needed for changes to take place in
matter, so you are needed too.
VARYA. Better tell us something about the planets, Peter.
LUBOV ANDREYEVNA. No, let's go on with yesterday's talk!
TROFIMOV. About what?
GAEV. About the proud man.
TROFIMOV. Yesterday we talked for a long time but we didn't come
to anything in the end. There's something mystical about the
proud man, in your sense. Perhaps you are right from your point
of view, but if you take the matter simply, without complicating
it, then what pride can there be, what sense can there be in it,
if a man is imperfectly made, physiologically speaking, if in
the vast majority of cases he is coarse and stupid and deeply
unhappy? We must stop admiring one another. We must work,
GAEV. You'll die, all the same.
TROFIMOV. Who knows? And what does it mean--you'll die? Perhaps
a man has a hundred senses, and when he dies only the five known
to us are destroyed and the remaining ninety-five are left
LUBOV. How clever of you, Peter!
LOPAKHIN. [Ironically] Oh, awfully!
TROFIMOV. The human race progresses, perfecting its powers.
Everything that is unattainable now will some day be near at
hand and comprehensible, but we must work, we must help with all
our strength those who seek to know what fate will bring.
Meanwhile in Russia only a very few of us work. The vast
majority of those intellectuals whom I know seek for nothing, do
nothing, and are at present incapable of hard work. They call
themselves intellectuals, but they use "thou" and "thee" to
their servants, they treat the peasants like animals, they learn
badly, they read nothing seriously, they do absolutely nothing,
about science they only talk, about art they understand little.
They are all serious, they all have severe faces, they all talk
about important things. They philosophize, and at the same time,
the vast majority of us, ninety-nine out of a hundred, live like
savages, fighting and cursing at the slightest opportunity,
eating filthily, sleeping in the dirt, in stuffiness, with
fleas, stinks, smells, moral filth, and so on. . . And it's
obvious that all our nice talk is only carried on to distract
ourselves and others. Tell me, where are those créches we hear
so much of? and where are those reading-rooms? People only write
novels about them; they don't really exist. Only dirt,
vulgarity, and Asiatic plagues really exist. . . . I'm afraid,
and I don't at all like serious faces; I don't like serious
conversations. Let's be quiet sooner.
LOPAKHIN. You know, I get up at five every morning, I work from
morning till evening, I am always dealing with money--my own and
other people's--and I see what people are like. You've only got
to begin to do anything to find out how few honest, honourable
people there are. Sometimes, when I can't sleep, I think: "Oh
Lord, you've given us huge forests, infinite fields, and endless
horizons, and we, living here, ought really to be giants."
LUBOV. You want giants, do you ? . . . They're only good in
stories, and even there they frighten one.
EPIKHODOV enters at the back of the stage playing his guitar.
Thoughtfully: Epikhodov's there.
ANYA. [Thoughtfully] Epikhodov's there.
GAEV. The sun's set, ladies and gentlemen.
GAEV [Not loudly, as if declaiming] O Nature, thou art
wonderful, thou shinest with eternal radiance! Oh, beautiful and
indifferent one, thou whom we call mother, thou containest in
thyself existence and death, thou livest and destroyest. . . .
VARYA. [Entreatingly] Uncle, dear!
ANYA. Uncle, you're doing it again!
TROFIMOV. You'd better double the red into the middle.
GAEV. I'll be quiet, I'll be quiet.
They all sit thoughtfully. It is quiet. Only the mumbling of
FIERS is heard. Suddenly a distant sound is heard as if from the
sky, the sound of a breaking string, which dies away sadly.
LUBOV. What's that?
LOPAKHIN. I don't know. It may be a bucket fallen down a well
somewhere. But it's some way off.
GAEV. Or perhaps it's some bird . . . like a heron.
TROFIMOV. Or an owl.
LUBOV. [Shudders] It's unpleasant, somehow. [A pause.]
FIERS. Before the misfortune the same thing happened. An owl
screamed and the samovar hummed without stopping.
GAEV. Before what misfortune?
FIERS. Before the Emancipation. [A pause.]
LUBOV. You know, my friends, let's go in; it's evening now. [To
ANYA] You've tears in your eyes. . . . What is it, little girl?
ANYA. It's nothing, mother.
TROFIMOV. Some one's coming.
Enter a TRAMP in an old white peaked cap and overcoat. He is a
TRAMP. Excuse me, may I go this way straight through to the
GAEV. You may. Go along this path.
TRAMP. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. [Hiccups] Lovely
weather. . . . [Declaims] My brother, my suffering brother. . .
. Come out on the Volga, you whose groans . . . [To VARYA]
Mademoiselle, please give a hungry Russian thirty copecks. . . .
VARYA screams, frightened.
LOPAKHIN. [Angrily] There's manners everybody's got to keep!
LUBOV. [With a start] Take this ... here you are. . . . [Feels
in her purse] There's no silver. . . . It doesn't matter, here's
TRAMP. I am deeply grateful to you! [Exit. Laughter.]
VARYA. [Frightened] I'm going, I'm going. . . . Oh, little
mother, at home there's nothing for the servants to eat, and you
gave him gold.
LUBOV. What is to be done with such a fool as I am! At home I'll
give you everything I've got. Ermolai Alexeyevitch, lend me some
more! . . .
LOPAKHIN. Very well.
LUBOV. Let's go, it's time. And Varya, we've settled your
affair; I congratulate you.
VARYA. [Crying] You shouldn't joke about this, mother.
LOPAKHIN. Oh, feel me, get thee to a nunnery.
GAEV. My hands are all trembling; I haven't played billiards for
a long time.
LOPAKHIN. Oh, feel me, nymph, remember me in thine orisons.
LUBOV. Come along; it'll soon be supper-time.
VARYA. He did frighten me. My heart is beating hard.
LOPAKHIN. Let me remind you, ladies and gentlemen, on August 22
the cherry orchard will be sold. Think of that! . . . Think of
that! . . .
All go out except TROFIMOV and ANYA.
ANYA. [Laughs] Thanks to the tramp who frightened Barbara, we're
TROFIMOV. Varya's afraid we may fall in love with each other and
won't get away from us for days on end. Her narrow mind won't
allow her to understand that we are above love. To escape all
the petty and deceptive things which prevent our being happy and
free, that is the aim and meaning of our lives. Forward! We go
irresistibly on to that bright star which burns there, in the
distance! Don't lag behind, friends!
ANYA. [Clapping her hands] How beautifully you talk! [Pause] It
is glorious here to-day!
TROFIMOV. Yes, the weather is wonderful.
ANYA. What have you done to me, Peter? I don't love the cherry
orchard as I used to. I loved it so tenderly, I thought there
was no better place in the world than our orchard.
TROFIMOV. All Russia is our orchard. The land is great and
beautiful, there are many marvellous places in it. [Pause]
Think, Anya, your grandfather, your great-grandfather, and all
your ancestors were serf-owners, they owned living souls; and
now, doesn't something human look at you from every cherry in
the orchard, every leaf and every stalk? Don't you hear voices .
. . ? Oh, it's awful, your orchard is terrible; and when in the
evening or at night you walk through the orchard, then the old
bark on the trees sheds a dim light and the old cherry-trees
seem to be dreaming of all that was a hundred, two hundred years
ago, and are oppressed by their heavy visions. Still, at any
rate, we've left those two hundred years behind us. So far we've
gained nothing at all--we don't yet know what the past is to be
to us--we only philosophize, we complain that we are dull, or we
drink vodka. For it's so clear that in order to begin to live in
the present we must first redeem the past, and that can only be
done by suffering, by strenuous, uninterrupted labour.
Understand that, Anya.
ANYA. The house in which we live has long ceased to be our
house; I shall go away. I give you my word.
TROFIMOV. If you have the housekeeping keys, throw them down the
well and go away. Be as free as the wind.
ANYA. [Enthusiastically] How nicely you said that!
TROFIMOV. Believe me, Anya, believe me! I'm not thirty yet, I'm
young, I'm still a student, but I have undergone a great deal!
I'm as hungry as the winter, I'm ill, I'm shaken. I'm as poor as
a beggar, and where haven't I been--fate has tossed me
everywhere! But my soul is always my own; every minute of the
day and the night it is filled with unspeakable presentiments. I
know that happiness is coming, Anya, I see it already. . .
ANYA. [Thoughtful] The moon is rising.
EPIKHODOV is heard playing the same sad song on his guitar. The
moon rises. Somewhere by the poplars VARYA is looking for ANYA
and calling, "Anya, where are you?"
TROFIMOV. Yes, the moon has risen. [Pause] There is happiness,
there it comes; it comes nearer and nearer; I hear its steps
already. And if we do not see it we shall not know it, but what
does that matter? Others will see it!
THE VOICE OF VARYA. Anya! Where are you?
TROFIMOV. That's Varya again! [Angry] Disgraceful!
ANYA. Never mind. Let's go to the river. It's nice there.
TROFIMOV Let's go. [They go out.]
THE VOICE OF VARYA. Anya! Anya!
Proceed to act three>>