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 Ward. Unknown Lady

ANTON CHEKHOV    The Cherry Orchard






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G. R. Ledger, Jan 2015. 




The setting is the same as that of the first act. There are no curtains at the windows, no pictures, only a few items of furniture remain all piled in a corner as if for a sale. It feels empty. Suitcases, boxes and other bundles are piled near the exits and at the back of the stage. On the left a door is open and the voices of Anya and Varya are heard. Lopakhin stands waiting. Yasha is holding a tray with glasses of champagne on it. In the hallway Epihodov is tying up a box. Behind the scene there is a hum of voices. It is the peasants who have come to say goodbye. The voice of Gayev ďThank you, brothers, thank you all.Ē

YASHA  The simple folk have come to say goodbye. Iím of the opinion, Ermolay Alekseyich, that the people are good, but they understand very little.

The hum of voices dies away. Lyubov Andreyevna and Gayev come in through the hall. She is not crying, but she is pale, her face is shaking and she canít speak.

GAYEV  You gave them your purse Lyuba. Itís impossible! You canít go on like that!

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  I couldnít help it! I couldnít help it! (They both leave.)

LOPAKHIN  (Calls after them through the door.) Please, I humbly invite you. Share a farewell glass. I forgot to bring any from the town, and at the station I could only find one bottle. Please join me. (Pause.) Well then, no joy, good folks? (He moves away from the door.) If Iíd known I wouldnít have bought it. Well I wonít drink it either in that case. (Yasha carefully places the tray on a table.) At least you have a glass Yasha.

YASHA  To those who are leaving! Happiness to those left behind! (He drinks.) This is not real champagne, I am sure of that.

LOPAKHIN  Eight roubles a bottle. (Pause.) Itís devilish cold here.

YASHA  They didnít heat the place today. It doesnít matter as weíre leaving. (He laughs.)

LOPAKHIN  Why are you laughing?

YASHA  From sheer enjoyment.

LOPAKHIN  Itís still October, but itís sunny and calm, like summer. Good for building. (He glances at his watch then calls through the doorway.) Ladies and gentlemen, bear in mind that thereís just forty six minutes before the train leaves. That means that in twenty minutes you must be on your way. Please hurry.

Trofimov wearing an overcoat comes in from outside.

TROFIMOV  I reckon itís time to be on our way. The carriage is ready. God alone knows where my galoshes are. Theyíve vanished. (Shouts through the door.) Anya, my galoshes arenít here. I havenít found them.

LOPAKHIN  Iíve got to go on to Kharkov. Iíll go with you on the same train. Iíll spend the winter in Kharkov. Iíve been hanging round here with you lot, tortured myself by doing nothing. I canít get by without work, I donít know what to do, where to put my hands. They dangle around as if they belonged to someone else.

TROFIMOV  As soon as we go you can get on with your useful work.

LOPAKHIN  Have a glass of champagne.

TROFIMOV  No thanks.

LOPAKHIN  So, youíre off to Moscow now.

TROFIMOV  Yes, Iíll go with them to town, and then tomorrow on to Moscow.

LOPAKHIN  Yes... Well I suppose the professors wonít be giving their lectures, theyíre waiting for you to arrive.  

TROFIMOV  None of your business.

LOPAKHIN  How many years have you been studying at University?

TROFIMOV  Think of a better joke. That oneís old and worn out. (Looks for his galoshes.) You know, you and I will probably never see each other again, so let me give you as a parting gift one bit of advice. Stop waving your arms around so much! Get out of that habit of gesticulating. And this business of building dachas and then pretending that out of these holiday makers in dachas youíll eventually get individual land proprietors, that claim is also a form of gesticulation... Anyway, itís all the same, Iím still very fond of you. Youíve got slim and delicate fingers like an artist, and your soul is slim and delicate...

LOPAKHIN  (Embraces him.) Goodbye old chap. Thank you for everything. If you need anything, borrow some money from me for the journey.

TROFIMOV  Why should I? I donít need it.

LOPAKHIN  But you donít have any!

TROFIMOV  I do. Thank you. I got something for a translation. Itís here, in my pocket. (Anxiously.) But my galoshes have vanished!

VARYA  (From another room.) Here, take your filthy galoshes! (Flings on to the stage a pair of rubber galoshes.)

TROFIMOV  Why are you so angry Varya? Hmm... But these are not my galoshes! 

LOPAKHIN  In the spring I sowed a thousand acres of poppy and I made a clear profit of forty thousand on it. And when my poppies were in bloom what a wonderful sight it was! So you see I earned forty thousand, and that means that I offer you a loan because I can manage it. Why are you snooty about it? Iím a peasant... with me itís all straightforward.

TROFIMOV  Your father was a peasant, mine was a pharmacist, and from that we can deduce absolutely nothing. (Lopakhin takes out his wallet.) Forget it. Forget it... Even if you gave me two thousand I wouldnít take it. And everything which you all value so highly, both rich men and beggars, it doesnít have the slightest power over me, itís like down which floats about on the wind. I can manage without you, I can walk past you, Iím strong and proud. Humanity is going forward to the highest truth, to the highest happiness that is possible on this earth, and I am in the vanguard of the ranks.

LOPAKHIN  Will you get there?

TROFIMOV  I will get there. (Pause.) I will get there, or Iíll show others the way to reach it.

In the distance is heard the sound of an axe starting to fell trees.  

LOPAKHIN  Well, goodbye old chap. Itís time to be going. You and I put on acts in front of each other, but life goes on its way regardless. When I work for long hours without a rest, then my thoughts become lighter and it seems to me as if I even know why I exist. But how many people, my friend, how many people there are who exist for no apparent reason. Oh well, itís all the same, thatís not what makes the world go round. Leonid Andreich, they say, has got a post in a bank, six thousand a year. But I doubt heíll stick to it, heís too lazy...

ANYA  (From the doorway.) Mama asks if you would not cut down the orchard until she leaves.

TROFIMOV  Heavens above, how can you be so tactless... (He leaves through the hallway.)

LOPAKHIN  Alright, alright ... What a fuss, really. (He exits after Trofimov.)

ANYA  Has Feers been sent to the hospital?

YASHA  I made arrangements this morning. We presume theyíve sent him.

ANYA  (To Epihodov who is crossing the room.) Semyon Panteleyich, please ask if Feers has been taken to the hospital.

YASHA  (Offended.) I spoke to Yegor about it this morning. Why go asking a hundred times!

EPIHODOV  In my considered opinion, the geriatric Feers is beyond repair, he should join his forefathers. I can only envy him. (He puts a suitcase on top of a hatbox and flattens it.) There you are, you see. I just knew it! (He leaves.)

YASHA  Mockingly.) Twenty two misfortunes...

VARYA  (Behind the door.) Have they taken Feers to the hospital?

ANYA  Theyíve taken him.

VARYA  Then why havenít they taken the letter for the doctor?

ANYA  Well itíll have to be sent after him... (She leaves.)

VARYA  (From the neighbouring room.)  Whereís Yasha? Tell him his motherís arrived, she wants to say goodbye.

YASHA  (Waves his arms.) These people drive you to distraction.

Dunyasha is all the time fussing with the baggage. Now that Yasha is alone she goes up to him.

DUNYASHA  You could at least look at me once, Yasha. Youíre going away... youíre ditching me... (She cries and throws herself round his neck.)  

YASHA  Whatís the use of crying? (He drinks some champagne.) In six days Iíll be in Paris again. Tomorrow weíll be on the express train and you wonít see us for dust. Vive La France!... Here it doesnít suit me, Iím stifled... what can one do about it? Iíve had my fill of ignorance. [Points to his throat.] Iím up to here with it. (He drinks some champagne.) Whatís the use of crying? Just behave with a bit of decency, then you wonít cry.

DUNYASHA  (Powders her face, looking in the mirror.) Send me a letter from Paris. I did love you so, Yasha, I loved you so much! Iím a frail creature, Yasha!

YASHA  Thereís people coming. (He busies himself with the suitcases and hums quietly.)

Lyubov Andreyevna, Gaev, Anya and Charlotte Ivanovna enter.

GAYEV  You ought to be on your way. Thereís not much time left. (He looks at Yasha.) Thereís a whiff of herring round here.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  In ten minutes time weíll get in the carriage... (She glances round the room.) Goodbye dear house, old grandfather. The winter will pass, the spring will come, and you will no longer be here, theyíll knock you down. What a lot these walls have seen! (She kisses her daughter emotionally.) My dearest treasure, how radiant you are, your eyes are glittering, like two diamonds. Are you contented? Really happy?

ANYA  Iím really happy. A new life is starting Mama.

GAYEV  (Cheerfully.) Absolutely, now everything is fine. Until the sale of the cherry orchard we were all on edge, we were suffering, and then, when the situation was resolved irreversibly, everything settled down, it even brightened up... Now I work in a bank, Iím a financier... the spot in the middle pocket, and you, Lyuba, you look better, thereís no doubt about it. 

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Yes. My nerves are in a better state, thatís true. (She is given her hat and cloak.) I sleep well. Bring me my things, Yasha. Itís time. (To Anya.) My dear girl, weíll meet again soon... Iím off to Paris. Iíll live there on the money that your Yaroslav grandmother sent to buy the estate Ė long live grandmother! ‒ but that money wonít last long.

ANYA  Mama, youíll come back soon... isnít that so? Iíll study hard, Iíll pass the exams at school, and then Iíll work and help you. Weíll read various books together... isnít that right? (She kisses her motherís hands.) Weíll read in the autumn evenings, weíll read lots of books, and a new and wonderful world will open up before us... (She dreams.) Mama, do come back...

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  I will come back my treasure. (She embraces her daughter.)  

Lopakhin enters. Charlotte Ivanovna quietly sings a song.

GAYEV  Charlotte is happy. Sheís singing!

CHARLOTTE  (She picks up a bundle which is in the shape of a swaddled baby.) My little one, bysey-bye... (The sound of a child crying is heard: wah, wah!) Shush, shush, my darling, my lovely boy. (Wah, wah!) I love you so, little one. (Throws the bundle aside.) But you, if you donít mind, you must find me a place. I canít go on like this.

LOPAKHIN  Weíll find you a place, Charlotte, donít worry.

GAYEV  Everyone is ditching us, Varya is leaving... suddenly weíve become unwanted.

CHARLOTTE  Thereís nowhere for me to live in the town. Iíve got to leave... (Hums a tune.) Oh well, itís all the same...

Pischik enters.

LOPAKHIN  A marvel of nature!...

PISCHIK  (Out of breath.) Oof, let me get my breath back, Iím exhausted... My most respected ... Let me have some water.

GAYEV  Come for money, I suppose. Your humble servant, Iíll remove myself from temptation... (He leaves.)

PISCHIK  Its a long time since Iíve been to see you... gorgeous lady... (To Lopakhin.) So youíre here... Pleased to see you... A man of great intellect... here... take this... (He gives Lopakhin some money.) Four hundred roubles... I still owe you eight hundred and forty...

LOPAKHIN  (Shrugs his shoulders in perplexity.) This is like a dream... Where did you get this?

PISCHIK  Wait... Itís so hot... A most extraordinary chain of events. Some Englishmen came to me and found some white clay in the ground... (To Lyubov Andreyevna.) And for you four hundred... most gorgeous lady... (Gives her some money.) The rest will follow. (Drinks some water.) Just now on the train a young man told us that thereís some... some great philosopher advises us to jump from the roof... ĎJump!í ‒ he says, and all your problems are solved. (Astonished.) Just imagine! Some water!...

LOPAKHIN  Who were these Englishmen?

PISCHIK  I rented the bit of land with the white clay to them for twenty four years... But now, pardon me, I have no time... I must rush on farther... I must go to Znoykov... and then to Kardamanov... I owe them all... (He drinks.) Good health to you all... Iíll come on Thursday...

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Weíre on our way to town, and tomorrow I go abroad...

PISCHIK  What? (Agitated.) Why to town? But I see, the furniture... the suitcases... Ah well, itís nothing... (Tearfully.) Itís nothing... Men of the greatest intellect... Those English... Itís nothing... Good luck to you... May God speed you... Itís nothing... Everything on this earth comes to an end... (Kisses Lyubov Andreyevnaís hand.) And if news reaches you that my end has come, then remember this very same... horse, and say ĎThere was a such and such... Simeyonov-Pischik... may he rest in peace.í... Such remarkable weather... Yes... (He leaves in a state of great distress, but returns immediately and speaks from the doorway.) Dashenka sends her greetings! (He leaves.)

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Now we can go. But I have two worries. The first is ‒ Feers, heís ill. (She looks at her watch.) We still have five minutes...

ANYA  Mama. Feers has already been sent to the hospital. Yasha had him sent this morning.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  My second worry is ‒ Varya. Sheís used to getting up early and working, and now, without work, sheís like a fish out of water. Sheís grown thin, and pale, and she cries, poor thing... (Pause.) You know this very well Yermolay Alexseyich; I dreamed of... you and she marrying, and everyone seemed to think that you would marry. (Whispers to Anya, who nods to Charlotte, and they both leave.) She loves you, and you liked her, and I donít know, I really donít know why you seem to avoid each other. I donít understand it!

LOPAKHIN  I donít understand it myself, to tell you the truth. Itís as if everything is strange... If thereís still time Iím ready even now... Weíll get it over and done with straightaway ‒ then all is settled, but without you, I feel that Iíll never propose to her.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Thatís excellent. After all it only needs a minute. Iíll call her right now...

LOPAKHIN  And we have champagne here just for the purpose. (He looks at the glasses.) Theyíre empty, somebody has already drunk it. (Yasha coughs.)  I just call that piggishness.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  (Excited.) Excellent.Weíll go out... Yasha, allez!... Iíll call her. (Through the doorway.) Varya, drop everything, come here. Come, come!

LOPAKHIN (Looks at his watch.) Yes... Pause.)

Behind the door restrained laughter, whispers, and finally Varya enters.

VARYA  (She inspects the luggage as if looking for something.) Itís strange, I canít find it...

LOPAKHIN  What are you looking for?

VARYA  I put it here myself and now I canít remember.

LOPAKHIN  Where are you going to after this, Varya?

VARYA  Me? Iím going to the Ragulins... Iíve agreed to run the place for them... As a sort of housekeeper...

LOPAKHIN  Is that in Yashnevo? Thatíll be forty miles away. (Pause.) So, life has finished in this house...

VARYA  (Looking over the luggage.) Where can it be?...  perhaps I put it in a suitcase... Yes, life in this house has finished... It will be no more...

LOPAKHIN  And Iím off to Kharkov right now... the same train. Iíve a lot of work. Iím leaving Epihodov in charge here... Iíve taken him on.

VARYA  Really.

LOPAKHIN  Last year at this time there was snow already, if you remember, but now it;s still, and sunny. Only itís rather cold... three degrees of frost.

VARYA  I didnít check it. (Pause.) Besides, our thermometer is broken... (Pause.)

A voice is heard calling from outside ĎErmolay Alexeyich!í

LOPAKHIN  (As if he had been waiting for this for a long time.) Right away! (He leaves quickly.)

Varya sits on the floor and leans her head on a bundle of clothing. She cries quietly. The door opens and Lyubov Andreyevna enters cautiously.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Well? (Pause.) We must leave.

VARYA  (No longer weeping she dries her eyes.) Yes, itís time, dearest mama. I can manage it to the Ragulins today but I mustnít be late for the train.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  (Through the doorway.) Anya, get your coat on!

Anya enters followed by Gayev and Charlotte Ivanovna. Gayev is wearing a thick overcoat with a hood. A servant and coachmen enter. Epihodov fusses around the baggage.

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Now we can start on the road.

ANYA  (Joyfully.) On the road!

GAYEV  My friends, my dearest and most blessed friends! In leaving this house forever can I be silent, can I refrain from uttering in farewell those feelings which well up and fill my entire being...

ANYA  (Pleading.) Uncle!

VARYA  Dear uncle, thereís no need.

GAYEV  (Gloomily.)  A cannon off the red into the middle... Iíll be quiet...

Trofimov enters, then Lopakhin.

TROFIMOV  Well then folks, itís time to be on our way! 

LOPAKHIN  Epihodov, my overcoat!

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Iíll sit here for one minute longer. Itís as if before I never saw what these walls were like, or the ceilings, and now I look at them with greediness, with such tender love...

GAYEV  I remember, when I was six, on Whit Sunday I sat in this window and watched as my father went to church...

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Has everything been taken?

LOPAKHIN  Everything, it seems. (To Epihodov as he puts on his overcoat.) You make sure Epihodov that everything is kept in order.

EPIHODOV  (He speaks with a hoarse voice.) Set your mind at rest on that score, Ermolay Alexeyich.

LOPAKHIN  Whatís the matter with your voice?  

EPIHODOV  I just drank some water and swallowed something.

YASHA  (With contempt.) Ignoramus...

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Weíll leave, and there wonít be a soul left here...

LOPAKHIN  Until the spring.

VARYA  (She pulls out an umbrella from the corner as if she were going to give someone a swipe with it. Lopakhin pretends to be terrified.) Donít be silly... I never even thought.

TROFIMOV  Come on good folks, letís go and get in the carriage... Itís already time! The train leaves very soon!

VARYA  Petya, here they are, your galoshes, beside this suitcase. (Tearfully.) And how filthy they are, how old...

TROFIMOV  (Puts on his galoshes.) Letís go good folks!...

GAYEV  (Deeply disturbed. Heís afraid he might cry.) The train... The station...  The spot in the middle pocket, the white with a cannon into the corner...


LOPAKHIN  Are all here? Is there anyone in here? (He locks the side door on the left.) Here things are packed away, it needs to be locked. Letís go!...

ANYA  Goodbye house! Goodbye old life!

TROFIMOV  Welcome, new life!   (He leaves with Anya.)

Varya casts a glance round the room and goes out slowly. Yasha leaves, followed by Charlotte with her dog. 

LOPAKHIN  So, until the spring. Come on everyone... Till we meet again!... (He leaves.)

Lyubov Andreyevna and Gayev are left together. As if they have waited for this moment they throw their arms round each other and quietly cry, afraid that somebody might hear them.

GAYEV  (Despairingly.) My sister, my sister...

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  My dearest, my tender, my beautiful garden!... My life, my youth, my happiness, goodbye!... Goodbye!...

ANYAíS VOICE  (Happily and invitingly.) Mama!...

TROFIMOVíS VOICE  (Happy and excited.) Cooeee!..

LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  For the last time to look on these walls, these windows... Our dear mother used to love this room...

GAYEV  My sister, my sister!...

ANYAíS VOICE  Mama!...


LYUBOV ANDREYEVNA  Weíre coming... (They leave.)  

The stage is empty. The sound of doors being locked is heard, followed by the noise of the departing carriages. Quietness descends. In the silence the dull sound of an axe chopping a tree resounds, a solitary and mournful sound. Footsteps are heard. Feers appears in the doorway on the right. He is dressed, as always, in a frock coat and a white waistcoat, and is wearing slippers. He is ill.

FEERS  (He goes to the door and tries to open it.) Itís locked. Theyíve all gone... (Sits on the divan.) They forgot about me... Itís nothing... Iíll just sit here... But Iím sure Leonid Andreyich did not put on his fur coat, he went off in an overcoat... (Sighs with concern.) I did not check on it... Heís young and green! (He mumbles something which is impossible to understand.) My life has gone by, as if I had never been... (He lies down.) Iíll just lie down... Your strength has all gone, nothing is left, nothing... Ah you... you clumsy oaf!... (He lies motionless.)

A distant sound is heard, as if from the sky, the sound of a cable breaking, dying away and melancholy. Silence descends and the only sound is that of an axe chopping down a tree far away in the orchard.





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