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ANTON CHEKHOV    The Cherry Orchard






Academic use of this translation is freely permitted, provided the customary acknowledgements are made. 

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G. R. Ledger, Jan 2015. 




The living room, divided from the reception room by an archway. The chandelier is lit. The Jewish orchestra, mentioned in the second act, is heard playing in the reception room. It is evening. In the reception room they are dancing grand rond. The voice of Simeonov Pischik is heard: ďPromenade a une paire!Ē The dancers come into the living room: in the first pair Pischik and Charlotte Ivanovna; in the second Trofimov and Lyubov Andreyevna; in the third Anya with the postal clerk; in the fourth Varya with the station master, and so on. Varya is quietly crying and wipes her tears away as she dances. Dunyasha is in the last pair. They pass through the living room and exit. Pischik shouts ďGrand rond, balancez!Ē and ďLes cavaliers ŗ genoux et remerciez vos dames!Ē Feers, wearing tails, carries into the room a tray with soda water. Pischik and Trofimov enter.

PISCHIK  I have high blood pressure, Iíve already had two strokes, itís difficult for me to dance, but as they say, when youíre in the kennels, bark or donít bark, but at least wag your tail. Iíve the constitution of a horse. My late father, a great joker, god rest his soul, used to say about our origins that the ancient family of Simeonov Pischik was descended from the horse that Caligula made a senator... (He sits down.) But the only trouble is, Iíve no money! A hungry dog only thinks of meat... (He snores then immediately wakes up.) Itís the same with me... I can only think of money.

TROFIMOV  Itís true, you have something of the horse in your figure.

PISCHIK  As you say... a horse is a fine animal... you can sell a horse...

From the adjoining room is heard the sound of billiards. Varya comes in and stands under the archway.

TROFIMOV  (Teases her.) Madame Lopakhin! Madame Lopakhin!...

VARYA  (Angrily) Shabby gent!

TROFIMOV  Yes, Iím a shabby gent and Iím proud of it.

VARYA  (Bitterly.) Weíve hired the musicians, and how are they to be paid? (She leaves.)

TROFIMOV  (To Pischik.) If all that energy that youíve expended throughout your life on searching for money to pay your mortgage interest you had used on something else, then probably in the end you could have revolutionised the world.

PISCHIK  Nietzsche... the philosopher... a great one, renowned... a man of huge intellect, says in his works that itís alright to forge money.

TROFIMOV  Have you read Nietzsche?

PISCHIK  Well... Dashenka told me about it. But Iím in such a state now that Iíd happily forge money... The day after tomorrow Iíve got to pay three hundred and ten roubles... Iíve already got a hundred and thirty... (He feels in his pockets anxiously.) The moneyís gone! Iíve lost the money! (Tearfully.) Whereís the money? (Jubilantly.) Here it is, behind the lining... I even broke into a sweat...

Lyubov Andreyevna and Charlotte Ivanovna enter.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  (She hums a folk tune.) Why is Leonid so long? Whatís he doing in the town? (To Dunyasha.) Dunyasha, offer the musicians some tea...

TROFIMOV  The sale didnít take place, in all probability.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  The musicians neednít have come, and this dance was unnecessary... Well, itís not important... (She sits down and hums quietly.)

CHARLOTTE  (Gives a pack of cards to Pischik.) Hereís a pack of cards. Just think of one card.

PISCHIK  Iíve thought of one.

CHARLOTTE  Now shuffle the pack. Thatís fine. Now give it to me my dear Mr. Pischik. Ein, zwei, drei! Now look for it in your side pocket...

PISCHIK  (Takes the card out of his side pocket.) The eight of spades, thatís absolutely correct! (Astonished.) Just imagine it!

CHARLOTTE  (Holds the pack in the palm of her hand. To Trofimov.) Tell me quickly, what card is on the top.

TROFIMOV  Let me think. Well, the queen of spades.

CHARLOTTE  Here it is! (To Pischik.) And what card is on the top now?

PISCHIK  The ace of hearts.

CHARLOTTE  Here it is! (She claps her hands and the pack of cards disappears.) What wonderful weather it is today. (A mysterious female voice replies to her, as if from under the floor ďOh yes, the weather is splendid Madam.Ē You are so handsome, my ideal man... (The voice ďAnd I also like you very much Madam.)

STATION MASTER  (Applauds.) Madame ventriloquist, bravo!

PISCHIK  (Astonished.) Just imagine it. Most charming Charlotte Ivanovna... Iím deeply in love...

CHARLOTTE  In love? (She shrugs her shoulders.) Can you really love? Guter Mensch, aber schlechter Musikant.[i]

TROFIMOV  (Pats Pischik on the shoulder.) Youíre such a horse...

CHARLOTTE  Attention please! Still one more trick. (She takes a shawl from a chair.) This is a fine Scottish shawl, I would like to sell it... (She shakes it.) Would anyone like to buy it?

PISCHIK  (Astonished.) Just imagine it!

CHARLOTTE  Ein, zwei, drei! (She briskly whisks away the shawl. Anya is standing behind it. She makes a curtsey, runs to her mother, embraces her and then runs back into the reception room to everyoneís delight.)  

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  (Applauds.) Bravo, bravo!

CHARLOTTE  And now once more! Ein, zwei, drei. (She lifts aside the shawl, behind which stands Varya who bows.)

PISCHIK  (Astonished,) Just imagine it!

CHARLOTTE  All finished. (She throws the shawl onto Pishik, makes a curtsey and runs off into the reception room.)

PISCHIK  Follows her.) You crafty one... What do you think of that? What do you think of that? (He leaves.)

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Still no Leonid. What can he be doing in the town for so long, I donít understand it! After all everything will be finished there, the estate is sold, or the sale didnít take place, but why keep us so long in suspense!

VARYA  (Trying to console her.) Uncle will have bought it, Iím sure of that.

TROFIMOV  (Sarcastically.)  Yes.

VARYA  Grandma sent him authority to buy the estate in her name, with a transfer of the debt. She did it for Anyaís sake. And Iím convinced, God will help us, uncle will buy it.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Yaroslav grandma sent fifteen thousand to buy it in her name ó she doesnít trust us ó but that money wouldnít be enough even to pay the interest. (Covers her face with her hands.) Today my fate is being decided, my fate...

TROFIMOV  (He teases Varya.) Madam Lopakhin.

VARYA  (Angrily.) Eternal student! Youíve already been sent down twice from University!

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Why are you angry Varya? Heís teasing you about Lopakhin, well, what of it? If you want to, marry him. Heís a good and interesting man. If you donít want to, donít marry him. Nobody is forcing you my darling...

VARYA  I do take it very seriously dear Mama, I can say it truly. Heís a good man, I like him.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Then marry him! Why wait, I donít understand!

VARYA  Dear Mama, I canít propose to him myself. Itís two years now since everyone talks to me about him, everyone, but he either keeps quiet or just makes jokes. I understand. Heís growing rich, busy with his work, he hasnít time for me. If I had some money, just a little, even a hundred roubles, I would throw aside everything and set off far away. I would go to a monastery.

TROFIMOV  How splendid!

VARYA  For a student you should be more intelligent! (In a softened tone, and tearfully.) How ugly youíve become, Petya, how old! (To Lyubov Andreyevna, no longer crying.) But I must have work Mama. I need to have something to occupy me every minute.

Yasha enters.

YASHA  (Barely managing to prevent himself from laughing.) Epihodov has just broken a billiard cue.

VARYA  Why is Epihodov here? Who let him play billiards? I donít understand these people. (She leaves.)

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Donít tease her Petya, you can see that even without that sheís unhappy.

TROFIMOV  But sheís so fussy, she sticks her nose in other peopleís business. All summer she didnít leave me in peace, or Anya, she was afraid that some romance would strike up between us. Besides I didnít give any indication of it, Iím far removed from vulgarity. We are superior to love!

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  And I suppose I must be inferior to love. (Seriously worried.) Why is Leonid not here? I only want to know, is the estate sold or not. It seems all so improbable, this disaster, that I donít know at all what to think, I despair... I feel like screaming... I might do something stupid. Help me Petya. Tell me something, speak to me...

TROFIMOV  Whether the estate is sold today or not ó does it matter? Its day is past long ago, thereís no turning back, the road has grown over. Calm yourself my dear. You mustnít deceive yourself, you must at least once in your life look truth in the eye.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  What truth? You can see where truth is and where falsehood is, but I seem to have lost my sight, I donít see anything. You settle boldly all lifeís important problems, but tell me, dear fellow, isnít that because you are young, because you havenít endured a single one of those problems. You boldly look into the future, but isnít that because you donít expect or see anything terrible that will beset you, because life is still hidden from your young eyes. You are more daring, more honourable, deeper than us, but just think about it, have some generosity if only in your fingertips, donít be cruel to me. After all I was born here, my mother and father lived here, my grandfather, I love this house, without the cherry orchard my life is meaningless, and if it must be sold, then sell me with it as well... (Embraces Trofimov and kisses his forehead.) And my son was drowned here... (She cries.) Pity me, Petya, youíre a good, an honest man.

TROFIMOV  You know I sympathise with you with all my heart.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  But you must say it differently, differently... (She takes a handkerchief from her pocket and a telegram falls to the floor.) Thereís a weight on my soul today, you canít feel what itís like. Itís so noisy, I tremble at every sound, I shake all over, but I canít go to my room, being alone in the silence is terrifying. Donít judge me Petya... I love you like family. I would happily marry you to Anya, I swear it, but dear fellow, you must study and finish your course. You donít do anything, and fate tosses you from place to place, itís so strange... Isnít that true? Yes? And you should do something about your beard, to make it grow somehow... (She laughs.) Youíre so funny!

TROFIMOV  (He picks up the telegram.) I donít want to be an Adonis.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Itís a telegram from Paris. I get one every day. Yesterday, and today. That wild man is ill again, things are bad for him again... He asks for forgiveness, begs me to come to him, and truthfully, I need to set out for Paris, to be beside him. I see you have a stern look on your face Petya, but what can I do, dear boy, what can I do, heís ill, heís alone and unhappy, and who can look after him, who can stop him making mistakes, who can give him his medicine on time? And why should I hide it, or keep quiet about it, I love him, thatís evident. I love him, I love him... Itís a stone round my neck, Iíll go with him the bottom, but I love that stone and I canít live without it. (Presses Trofimovís hand.) Donít think badly of me Petya, donít say anything, donít speak...

TROFIMOV  (Tearfully.) Forgive me for being frank, for Godís sake: he robbed you of everything!

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  No, no, no, you mustnít speak like that... (She covers her ears.)

TROFIMOV  But heís just a worthless wretch, youíre the only one who doesnít see it. Heís a pitiful wretch, a nothing!...

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  (Angrily, but restrained.) Youíre twenty six or twenty seven, but youíre just a schoolboy of year two!

TROFIMOV  What of it!

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  You should be a man. At your age you should understand those who love. And you should be in love yourself... You should fall in love! (Angrily.) Yes, yes. And youíre not pure, youíre just a prude, a ridiculous weirdo, a monster...

TROFIMOV  (Horror struck.) What is she saying!

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  ďIím superior to love!Ē Youíre not superior to love, youíre just a clumsy oaf, as Feers says. At your age you should have a lover!...

TROFIMOV  (Horror struck.) This is terrible! What is she saying?! (He rushes into the reception room holding his head.) This is terrible... I canít bear it. Iím going... (He leaves but immediately returns.) Everything is finished between us! (He leaves.)

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  (Shouts after him.) Petya, wait! You strange man, I was joking! Petya! (Someone is heard rushing down the stairs and then a clatter as they tumble down. Anya and Varya scream, then laughter is heard.)

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Whatís happening.

Anya runs in.

ANYA  (She laughs.) Petya has fallen down the stairs. (She runs out.)

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  What a strange man that Petya is...

The station master stands in the middle of the drawing room and recites from A. Tolstoyís ĎThe Sinner.í[ii] They listen to him but he has only said a few lines when the music of a waltz is heard striking up in the reception room and the recitation breaks off. Everyone dances. Trofimov, Anya, Varya and Lyubov Andreyevna proceed in from the reception room.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Come now, Petya... Come, you sweet soul... Forgive me... Letís dance.  (They dance.)

Anya and Varya dance. Feers enters. He stands his stick next to the side door. Yasha also comes in and looks at the dancers.

YASHA  How are things, granddad?

FEERS  Iím not well. In old times at our dances we had generals, barons, admirals, and now we send out for post office clerks and station masters, and even they donít come willingly. Iím growing weak. The late master, their grandfather, used to cure everyone with sealing wax, all illnesses. I take sealing wax every day, I have done for twenty years, or longer; thatís perhaps why Iím still alive.

YASHA  You bore me granddad. (He yawns.) Why donít you just kick the bucket.

FEERS  Eh, you... stupid clumsy oaf! (He mutters.)

Trofimov and Lyubov Andreyevna dance in the reception room, then in the drawing room.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Merci. Iíll sit down... (She sits.) Iím tired.

Enter Anya

ANYA  (Excitedly.) Just now in the kitchen some man was saying that the cherry orchard was sold today.


ANYA  He didnít say. Heís gone. (She dances with Trofimov and they dance into the reception room.)

YASHA  That was some old man who was chattering there. A stranger.

FEERS  And Leonid Andreyich is not here, heís not back yet. Heís only got a light overcoat, a mid season one, before you know it heíll catch cold. These young green boobies!

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Iím going to die. Go, Yasha, find out who itís sold to.

YASHA  But heís been gone a long time, that old man. (He laughs.)

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  (Slightly irritated.) What are you laughing at? Why so happy?

YASHA  That Epihodov is so amusing. A simpleton. Twenty two misfortunes.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Feers, if the estate is sold, where will you go?

FEERS  Wherever you say, thatís where Iíll go.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Whatís the matter with your face? Are you ill? You know, you should go and have a lie down...

FEERS  Yes... (He laughs.) If I go to bed who will serve here, who will make arrangements? I am the only one in the house who can.

YASHA  (To Lyubov Andreyevna.) Lyubov Andreyevna!  May I make a request of you, if youíd be so kind. If you go back to Paris again, please take me with you, please do. Itís just impossible for me to stay here. (He looks round, then in a low voice.) Thereís no point in talking about it, you know yourself, the country is uneducated, the people are immoral, thereís the boredom, the food in the kitchen is foul, then thereís this Feers wandering around mumbling various inappropriate things. Do take me with you, be so kind!

Pischik enters.

PISCHIK  Permit me to ask your hand... a little waltz... most beautiful lady. (Lyubov Andreyevna stands up and takes his hand.) All the same, I must have a hundred and eighty little roubles from you, enchantress... I must have it (They dance.) A hundred and eighty little roubles. (They dance off into the reception room.)

YASHA  (Sings quietly.)  ďBut will you understand, my heart yearns fitfully...Ē

In the reception room a figure in a grey top hat and check trousers waves its arms and leaps. Shouts are heard ďBravo Charlotte!Ē)

DUNYASHA  (She stops to powder her face.) The mistress told me I must dance ó there are lots of men, but not enough women, but when I dance my head spins, my heart thumps, Feers Nikolayevich, and just now the post office clerk said such a thing to me that it took my breath away.

The music grows quiet.

FEERS  What did he say to you?

DUNYASHA  You, he said, are like a flower.

YASHA  (Yawns.) Ignorance... (He leaves.)

DUNYASHA  Like a flower... Iím such a delicate girl, I adore soft words.

FEERS  Itíll turn your head.

Enter Epihodov

You, Avdotya Fyodorovna, appear to wish not to see me... as if I were some sort of insect. (He sighs.) Oh, life!

DUNYASHA  What do you want?

EPIHODOV  Undoubtedly, itís possible, you are right. (He sighs.) Well, of course, if you look at it from a certain point of view, then you, if I may so express it, pardon me for being frank, you reduce me absolutely to a state of mind. I know my fate, every day some disaster befalls me, and Iíve long since grown used to it, so that I look with a smile at my fortune. You gave me your word, and although I...

DUNYASHA  Please, we can talk afterwards. Iím dreaming. (Fans herself.)

EPIHODOV  Every day some disaster happens to me, and I only, if I may so express it, I only smile, or even laugh.

Varya enters from the drawing room.

VARYA  (To Epihodov.) Are you still here Semyon? Why are you so disrespectful? (To Dunyasha.) You can leave, Dunyasha. (To Epihodov.) First you play billiards and break a cue, then you parade around the dance room as if you were a guest.

EPIHODOV  To reproach me with that, if I may so express it, you are not permitted.

VARYA  I am not reproaching you, I am merely stating it. Itís quite clear, you just walk about from place to place and you do no work. We keep a clerk, but heaven only knows why we bother.

EPIHODOV  (Offended.)  If  I work or not, if I eat or go from place to place, or if I play billiards, only those who have understanding and seniority may make a judgement of it.

VARYA  You dare to speak to me like that! (Flaring up.) How dare you! So evidently, I have no understanding! Get out of here! This very instant!

EPIHODOV  (Losing his courage.) I must ask you to express yourself more politely.

VARYA  (Losing her temper.) This very instant, get out of here! Get out! (He goes to the door. She follows.) Twenty two misfortunes.  I donít want even a whisker of you here.  I donít want to see a hair of your head! (Epihodov leaves. His voice is heard behind the door saying ďIíll make a complaint against you.Ē Youíre coming back are you! (She seizes the stick left behind the door by Feers.) Come on then... Come on... Come on, Iíll show you... Ahh, so youíre coming? Youíre coming? Then take this!... (She lets fly just as Lopakhin enters.)

LOPAKHIN  I most humbly thank you.

VARYA  (Both angry and amused.) My apologies.

LOPAKHIN  Itís nothing. My grateful thanks for such a warm welcome.

VARYA  Itís not worth the thanks. (She walks away and then turns and asks with concern.) Have I hurt you?

LOPAKHIN  No, itís nothing. Thereís just a large bump appearing.

Voices in the reception room. ďLopakhin is here! Ermolay Alekseyich!Ē

PISCHIK  Talk of the devil! (He and Lopakhin kiss.) You smell of brandy dear fellow, old chap. Weíve been making merry here as well.

Enter Lyubov Andreyevna.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Is that you, Ermolay Alekseyich? Why have you been so long? Whereís Leonid?

LOPAKHIN  Leonid Andreyich came with me... Heís on his way...

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  (Agitated.) Well, is there news? Did the sale go ahead? Tell me!

LOPAKHIN  (Embarassed, afraid to reveal his delight.) The sale finished at four... We were late for the train, we had to wait till half past nine. (He sighs deeply.) Ooof! My head is sort of spinning...

Gayev enters. In his right hand he holds some parcels. With his left he is wiping away tears.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Lyonya, what news? Lyonya, tell me? (Impatiently, close to tears.) Tell me quickly, for heavenís sake...

GAYEV  (He does not reply, but only lifts up his hand. To Feers, crying.) Here, take these... Hereís the anchovies, and the herring from Kerch... Iíve not eaten all day... What Iíve had to put up with! (The door to the billiard room is open, the sound of the balls is heard and the voice of Yasha ďSeven and eighteen.Ē Gayevís expression changes and he stops crying.) Iím dreadfully tired. Feers, come and help me get changed. (He leaves followed by Feers.)

PISCHIK  What about the sale? Tell us.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Is the cherry orchard sold.

LOPAKHIN  Itís sold.


LOPAKHIN  I did. (Pause.)

Lyubov Andreyevna is overcome, she would have fallen if she had not been standing beside an armchair and a table. Varya undoes a bunch of keys from her waist and throws them on the floor in the middle of the room, then she leaves.

LOPAKHIN  I bought it! Wait a moment, good folks, if youíd be so kind, my head is in a turmoil, I canít speak... (He laughs.) We got to the sale, Deriganov was already there. Leonod Andreyich only had fifteen thousand, and Deriganov immediately bid thirty thousand above the debt. I saw what the situation was and decided to take him on, so I bid forty thousand. He bid forty five thousand and I bid fifty five. Evidently he was going up five at a time, and I was going up ten... In the end it finished. I bid ninety thousand above the debt and I won it. The cherry orchard is now mine! Mine! (He laughs loudly.) God Almighty, Lord above, the cherry orchard is mine! Tell me that Iím drunk, that Iím out of my mind, that this is all a dream... (He stamps his feet.) Donít laugh at me! If my father and my grandfather could rise out of their graves and could see all this, if they could see how their Ermolay, their beaten and ill educated Ermolay, who went barefoot in winter, how that same Ermolay has bought an estate which has no rival on this earth. Iíve bought an estate where my father and grandfather were serfs, where they wouldnít even allow them into the kitchen. Iím dreaming, this is something just imagined, it only seems to be... This is a fruit of your imagination, covered with the darkness of uncertainty... (He picks up the keys and gently smiles.) She threw down the keys, she wanted to show that sheís no longer in charge here... (He jangles the bunch of keys.) Well, it doesnít matter. (The music starts up again.) Hey, Musicians, play, I want to listen to you! Come on all of you and see how Ermolay Lopakhin will take an axe to the cherry trees and how they will fall down. We will build dachas and our grandchildren and great grandchildren will see a new life beginning here... Music, Play on!

The music plays. Lyubov Andreyevna sinks into a chair and weeps bitterly.

LOPAKHIN  (Reproachfully.) Why oh why didnít you listen to me? My poor dear beautiful lady, thereís no going back. (Tearfully.) If only this could all be over and done with, if only our disjointed, unhappy lives could be changed for something better.

PISCHIK  (Takes him under the arm and speaks softly.) Sheís crying. Come with me into the other room, leave her alone... Come with me... (Takes him by the arm and leads him into the reception room.)

LOPAKHIN  Whatís that? Music, play, let me hear you! Let everything be as I wish it! (Ironically.) Here comes the new landowner, the owner of the cherry orchard! (He bumps into a small table nearly upsetting the candelabra.) I can pay for everything... (He leaves with Pischik.)

Only Lyubov Andreyevna remains on stage huddled in an armchair and weeping bitterly. The music plays. Any and Trofimov enter quickly. Anya hurries up to her mother and sinks to her knees in front of her. Trofimov stays beside the entrance to the reception room.

ANYA  Mama!...  Mama, are you crying? My dearest, my good, my lovely, beautiful Mama, I love you... I bless you. The cherry orchard is sold, it is no more, that is true, but donít cry, Mama, you still have your life before you, you still have your fine, your pure soul... Come with me, come, away from here, come with me, my dearest!... We will plant a new orchard, more luxuriant than this one, you will see it, youíll understand, and a quiet, deep joy will sink into your soul like sun in the evening, and you will smile, Mama! Come with me, my dearest, come with me...




[i] A good man but a bad musician.

[ii] The first lines are ďThe crowd seethes, laughter, happiness,/ The sound of strings, the cymbals clash.Ē The poem is by Alexey Konstantinovich Tolstoy 1817 Ė 1875. For an English audience it would probably be best to select a better known poem such as The Ancient Mariner or Tennysonís Morte DíArthur

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