The Sea-Gull, by Anton Chekhov

ACT IV

A sitting-room in Sorin’S house, which has been converted into a writing-room for Treplieff. To the right and left are doors leading into inner rooms, and in the centre is a glass door opening onto a terrace. Besides the usual furniture of a sitting-room there is a writing-desk in the right-hand corner of the room. There is a Turkish divan near the door on the left, and shelves full of books stand against t he walls. Books are lying scattered about on the windowsills and chairs. It is evening. The room is dimly lighted by a shaded lamp on a table. The wind moans in the tree tops and whistles down the chimney. The watchman in the garden is heard sounding his rattle. Medviedenko and Masha come in.

Masha.

[Calling Treplieff] Mr. Constantine, where are you? [Looking about her] There is no one here. His old uncle is forever asking for Constantine, and can’t live without him for an instant.

Medviedenko.

He dreads being left alone. [Listening to the wind] This is a wild night. We have had this storm for two days.

Masha.

[Turning up the lamp] The waves on the lake are enormous.

Medviedenko.

It is very dark in the garden. Do you know, I think that old theatre ought to be knocked down. It is still standing there, naked and hideous as a skeleton, with the curtain flapping in the wind. I thought I heard a voice weeping in it as I passed there last night.

Masha.

What an idea! [A pause.]

Medviedenko.

Come home with me, Masha.

Masha.

[Shaking her head] I shall spend the night here.

Medviedenko.

[Imploringly] Do come, Masha. The baby must be hungry.

Masha.

Nonsense, Matriona will feed it. [A pause.]

Medviedenko.

It is a pity to leave him three nights without his mother.

Masha.

You are getting too tiresome. You used sometimes to talk of other things besides home and the baby, home and the baby. That is all I ever hear from you now.

Medviedenko.

Come home, Masha.

Masha.

You can go home if you want to.

Medviedenko.

Your father won’t give me a horse.

Masha.

Yes, he will; ask him.

Medviedenko.

I think I shall. Are you coming home to-morrow?

Masha.

Yes, yes, to-morrow.

She takes snuff. Treplieff and Paulina come in. TREPLIEFF is carrying some pillows and a blanket, and Paulina is carrying sheets and pillow cases. They lay them on the divan, and Treplieff goes and sits down at his desk.

Masha.

Who is that for, mother?

Paulina.

Mr. Sorin asked to sleep in Constantine’s room to-night.

Masha.

Let me make the bed.

She makes the bed. Paulina goes up to the desk and looks at the manuscripts lying on it. [A pause.]

Medviedenko.

Well, I am going. Good-bye, Masha. [He kisses his wife’s hand] Good-bye, mother. [He tries to kiss his mother-in-law’s hand.]

Paulina.

[Crossly] Be off, in God’s name!

Treplieff shakes hands with him in silence, and Medviedenko goes out.

Paulina.

[Looking at the manuscripts] No one ever dreamed, Constantine, that you would one day turn into a real author. The magazines pay you well for your stories. [She strokes his hair.] You have grown handsome, too. Dear, kind Constantine, be a little nicer to my Masha.

Masha.

[Still making the bed] Leave him alone, mother.

Paulina.

She is a sweet child. [A pause] A woman, Constantine, asks only for kind looks. I know that from experience.

Treplieff gets up from his desk and goes out without a word.

Masha.

There now! You have vexed him. I told you not to bother him.

Paulina.

I am sorry for you, Masha.

Masha.

Much I need your pity!

Paulina.

My heart aches for you. I see how things are, and understand.

Masha.

You see what doesn’t exist. Hopeless love is only found in novels. It is a trifle; all one has to do is to keep a tight rein on oneself, and keep one’s head clear. Love must be plucked out the moment it springs up in the heart. My husband has been promised a school in another district, and when we have once left this place I shall forget it all. I shall tear my passion out by the roots. [The notes of a melancholy waltz are heard in the distance.]

Paulina.

Constantine is playing. That means he is sad.

Masha silently waltzes a few turns to the music.

Masha.

The great thing, mother, is not to have him continually in sight. If my Simon could only get his remove I should forget it all in a month or two. It is a trifle.

Dorn and Medviedenko come in through the door on the left, wheeling Sorin in an arm-chair.

Medviedenko.

I have six mouths to feed now, and flour is at seventy kopecks.

Dorn.

A hard riddle to solve!

Medviedenko.

It is easy for you to make light of it. You are rich enough to scatter money to your chickens, if you wanted to.

Dorn.

You think I am rich? My friend, after practising for thirty years, during which I could not call my soul my own for one minute of the night or day, I succeeded at last in scraping together one thousand roubles, all of which went, not long ago, in a trip which I took abroad. I haven’t a penny.

Masha.

[To her husband] So you didn’t go home after all?

Medviedenko.

[Apologetically] How can I go home when they won’t give me a horse?

Masha.

[Under her breath, with bitter anger] Would I might never see your face again!

Sorin in his chair is wheeled to the left-hand side of the room. Paulina, Masha, and Dorn sit down beside him. Medviedenko stands sadly aside.

Dorn.

What a lot of changes you have made here! You have turned this sitting-room into a library.

Masha.

Constantine likes to work in this room, because from it he can step out into the garden to meditate whenever he feels like it. [The watchman’s rattle is heard.]

Sorin.

Where is my sister?

Dorn.

She has gone to the station to meet Trigorin. She will soon be back.

Sorin.

I must be dangerously ill if you had to send for my sister. [He falls silent for a moment] A nice business this is! Here I am dangerously ill, and you won’t even give me any medicine.

Dorn.

What shall I prescribe for you? Camomile tea? Soda? Quinine?

Sorin.

Don’t inflict any of your discussions on me again. [He nods toward the sofa] Is that bed for me?

Paulina.

Yes, for you, sir.

Sorin.

Thank you.

Dorn.

[Sings] “The moon swims in the sky to-night.”

Sorin.

I am going to give Constantine an idea for a story. It shall be called “The Man Who Wished — L’Homme qui a voulu.” When I was young, I wished to become an author; I failed. I wished to be an orator; I speak abominably, [Exciting himself] with my eternal “and all, and all,” dragging each sentence on and on until I sometimes break out into a sweat all over. I wished to marry, and I didn’t; I wished to live in the city, and here I am ending my days in the country, and all.

Dorn.

You wished to become State Councillor, and — you are one!

Sorin.

[Laughing] I didn’t try for that, it came of its own accord.

Dorn.

Come, you must admit that it is petty to cavil at life at sixty-two years of age.

Sorin.

You are pig-headed! Can’t you see I want to live?

Dorn.

That is futile. Nature has commanded that every life shall come to an end.

Sorin.

You speak like a man who is satiated with life. Your thirst for it is quenched, and so you are calm and indifferent, but even you dread death.

Dorn.

The fear of death is an animal passion which must be overcome. Only those who believe in a future life and tremble for sins committed, can logically fear death; but you, for one thing, don’t believe in a future life, and for another, you haven’t committed any sins. You have served as a Councillor for twenty-five years, that is all.

Sorin.

[Laughing] Twenty-eight years!

Treplieff comes in and sits down on a stool at Sorin’S feet. Masha fixes her eyes on his face and never once tears them away.

Dorn.

We are keeping Constantine from his work.

Treplieff.

No matter. [A pause.]

Medviedenko.

Of all the cities you visited when you were abroad, Doctor, which one did you like the best?

Dorn.

Genoa.

Treplieff.

Why Genoa?

Dorn.

Because there is such a splendid crowd in its streets. When you leave the hotel in the evening, and throw yourself into the heart of that throng, and move with it without aim or object, swept along, hither and thither, their life seems to be yours, their soul flows into you, and you begin to believe at last in a great world spirit, like the one in your play that Nina Zarietchnaya acted. By the way, where is Nina now? Is she well?

Treplieff.

I believe so.

Dorn.

I hear she has led rather a strange life; what happened?

Treplieff.

It is a long story, Doctor.

Dorn.

Tell it shortly. [A pause.]

Treplieff.

She ran away from home and joined Trigorin; you know that?

Dorn.

Yes.

Treplieff.

She had a child that died. Trigorin soon tired of her and returned to his former ties, as might have been expected. He had never broken them, indeed, but out of weakness of character had always vacillated between the two. As far as I can make out from what I have heard, Nina’s domestic life has not been altogether a success.

Dorn.

What about her acting?

Treplieff.

I believe she made an even worse failure of that. She made her debut on the stage of the Summer Theatre in Moscow, and afterward made a tour of the country towns. At that time I never let her out of my sight, and wherever she went I followed. She always attempted great and difficult parts, but her delivery was harsh and monotonous, and her gestures heavy and crude. She shrieked and died well at times, but those were but moments.

Dorn.

Then she really has a talent for acting?

Treplieff.

I never could make out. I believe she has. I saw her, but she refused to see me, and her servant would never admit me to her rooms. I appreciated her feelings, and did not insist upon a meeting. [A pause] What more can I tell you? She sometimes writes to me now that I have come home, such clever, sympathetic letters, full of warm feeling. She never complains, but I can tell that she is profoundly unhappy; not a line but speaks to me of an aching, breaking nerve. She has one strange fancy; she always signs herself “The Sea-gull.” The miller in “Rusalka” called himself “The Crow,” and so she repeats in all her letters that she is a sea-gull. She is here now.

Dorn.

What do you mean by “here?”

Treplieff.

In the village, at the inn. She has been there for five days. I should have gone to see her, but Masha here went, and she refuses to see any one. Some one told me she had been seen wandering in the fields a mile from here yesterday evening.

Medviedenko.

Yes, I saw her. She was walking away from here in the direction of the village. I asked her why she had not been to see us. She said she would come.

Treplieff.

But she won’t. [A pause] Her father and stepmother have disowned her. They have even put watchmen all around their estate to keep her away. [He goes with the doctor toward the desk] How easy it is, Doctor, to be a philosopher on paper, and how difficult in real life!

Sorin.

She was a beautiful girl. Even the State Councillor himself was in love with her for a time.

Dorn.

You old Lovelace, you!

Shamraeff’S laugh is heard.

Paulina.

They are coming back from the station.

Treplieff.

Yes, I hear my mother’s voice.

Arkadina and Trigorin come in, followed by Shamraeff.

Shamraeff.

We all grow old and wither, my lady, while you alone, with your light dress, your gay spirits, and your grace, keep the secret of eternal youth.

Arkadina.

You are still trying to turn my head, you tiresome old man.

Trigorin.

[To Sorin] How do you do, Peter? What, still ill? How silly of you! [With evident pleasure, as he catches sight of Masha] How are you, Miss Masha?

Masha.

So you recognised me? [She shakes hands with him.]

Trigorin.

Did you marry him?

Masha.

Long ago.

Trigorin.

You are happy now? [He bows to Dorn and Medviedenko, and then goes hesitatingly toward Treplieff] Your mother says you have forgotten the past and are no longer angry with me.

Treplieff gives him his hand.

Arkadina.

[To her son] Here is a magazine that Boris has brought you with your latest story in it.

Treplieff.

[To Trigorin, as he takes the magazine] Many thanks; you are very kind.

Trigorin.

Your admirers all send you their regards. Every one in Moscow and St. Petersburg is interested in you, and all ply me with questions about you. They ask me what you look like, how old you are, whether you are fair or dark. For some reason they all think that you are no longer young, and no one knows who you are, as you always write under an assumed name. You are as great a mystery as the Man in the Iron Mask.

Treplieff.

Do you expect to be here long?

Trigorin.

No, I must go back to Moscow to-morrow. I am finishing another novel, and have promised something to a magazine besides. In fact, it is the same old business.

During their conversation Arkadina and Paulina have put up a card-table in the centre of the room; Shamraeff lights the candles and arranges the chairs, then fetches a box of lotto from the cupboard.

Trigorin.

The weather has given me a rough welcome. The wind is frightful. If it goes down by morning I shall go fishing in the lake, and shall have a look at the garden and the spot — do you remember? — where your play was given. I remember the piece very well, but should like to see again where the scene was laid.

Masha.

[To her father] Father, do please let my husband have a horse. He ought to go home.

Shamraeff.

[Angrily] A horse to go home with! [Sternly] You know the horses have just been to the station. I can’t send them out again.

Masha.

But there are other horses. [Seeing that her father remains silent] You are impossible!

Medviedenko.

I shall go on foot, Masha.

Paulina.

[With a sigh] On foot in this weather? [She takes a seat at the card-table] Shall we begin?

Medviedenko.

It is only six miles. Good-bye. [He kisses his wife’s hand;] Good-bye, mother. [His mother-in-law gives him her hand unwillingly] I should not have troubled you all, but the baby — [He bows to every one] Good-bye. [He goes out with an apologetic air.]

Shamraeff.

He will get there all right, he is not a major-general.

Paulina.

Come, let us begin. Don’t let us waste time, we shall soon be called to supper.

Shamraeff, Masha, and Dorn sit down at the card-table.

Arkadina.

[To Trigorin] When the long autumn evenings descend on us we while away the time here by playing lotto. Look at this old set; we used it when our mother played with us as children. Don’t you want to take a hand in the game with us until supper time? [She and Trigorin sit down at the table] It is a monotonous game, but it is all right when one gets used to it. [She deals three cards to each of the players.]

Treplieff.

[Looking through the pages of the magazine] He has read his own story, and hasn’t even cut the pages of mine.

He lays the magazine on his desk and goes toward the door on the right, stopping as he passes his mother to give her a kiss.

Arkadina.

Won’t you play, Constantine?

Treplieff.

No, excuse me please, I don’t feel like it. I am going to take a turn through the rooms. [He goes out.]

Masha.

Are you all ready? I shall begin: twenty-two.

Arkadina.

Here it is.

Masha.

Three.

Dorn.

Right.

Masha.

Have you put down three? Eight. Eighty-one. Ten.

Shamraeff.

Don’t go so fast.

Arkadina.

Could you believe it? I am still dazed by the reception they gave me in Kharkoff.

Masha.

Thirty-four. [The notes of a melancholy waltz are heard.]

Arkadina.

The students gave me an ovation; they sent me three baskets of flowers, a wreath, and this thing here.

She unclasps a brooch from her breast and lays it on the table.

Shamraeff.

There is something worth while!

Masha.

Fifty.

Dorn.

Fifty, did you say?

Arkadina.

I wore a perfectly magnificent dress; I am no fool when it comes to clothes.

Paulina.

Constantine is playing again; the poor boy is sad.

Shamraeff.

He has been severely criticised in the papers.

Masha.

Seventy-seven.

Arkadina.

They want to attract attention to him.

Trigorin.

He doesn’t seem able to make a success, he can’t somehow strike the right note. There is an odd vagueness about his writings that sometimes verges on delirium. He has never created a single living character.

Masha.

Eleven.

Arkadina.

Are you bored, Peter? [A pause] He is asleep.

Dorn.

The Councillor is taking a nap.

Masha.

Seven. Ninety.

Trigorin.

Do you think I should write if I lived in such a place as this, on the shore of this lake? Never! I should overcome my passion, and give my life up to the catching of fish.

Masha.

Twenty-eight.

Trigorin.

And if I caught a perch or a bass, what bliss it would be!

Dorn.

I have great faith in Constantine. I know there is something in him. He thinks in images; his stories are vivid and full of colour, and always affect me deeply. It is only a pity that he has no definite object in view. He creates impressions, and nothing more, and one cannot go far on impressions alone. Are you glad, madam, that you have an author for a son?

Arkadina.

Just think, I have never read anything of his; I never have time.

Masha.

Twenty-six.

Treplieff comes in quietly and sits down at his table.

Shamraeff.

[To Trigorin] We have something here that belongs to you, sir.

Trigorin.

What is it?

Shamraeff.

You told me to have the sea-gull stuffed that Mr. Constantine killed some time ago.

Trigorin.

Did I? [Thoughtfully] I don’t remember.

Masha.

Sixty-one. One.

Treplieff throws open the window and stands listening.

Treplieff.

How dark the night is! I wonder what makes me so restless.

Arkadina.

Shut the window, Constantine, there is a draught here.

Treplieff shuts the window.

Masha.

Ninety-eight.

Trigorin.

See, my card is full.

Arkadina.

[Gaily] Bravo! Bravo!

Shamraeff.

Bravo!

Arkadina.

Wherever he goes and whatever he does, that man always has good luck. [She gets up] And now, come to supper. Our renowned guest did not have any dinner to-day. We can continue our game later. [To her son] Come, Constantine, leave your writing and come to supper.

Treplieff.

I don’t want anything to eat, mother; I am not hungry.

Arkadina.

As you please. [She wakes Sorin] Come to supper, Peter. [She takes Shamraeff’S arm] Let me tell you about my reception in Kharkoff.

Paulina blows out the candles on the table, then she and Dorn roll Sorin’S chair out of the room, and all go out through the door on the left, except Treplieff, who is left alone. TREPLIEFF prepares to write. He runs his eye over what he has already written.

Treplieff.

I have talked a great deal about new forms of art, but I feel myself gradually slipping into the beaten track. [He reads] “The placard cried it from the wall — a pale face in a frame of dusky hair”— cried — frame — that is stupid. [He scratches out what he has written] I shall begin again from the place where my hero is wakened by the noise of the rain, but what follows must go. This description of a moonlight night is long and stilted. Trigorin has worked out a process of his own, and descriptions are easy for him. He writes that the neck of a broken bottle lying on the bank glittered in the moonlight, and that the shadows lay black under the mill-wheel. There you have a moonlight night before your eyes, but I speak of the shimmering light, the twinkling stars, the distant sounds of a piano melting into the still and scented air, and the result is abominable. [A pause] The conviction is gradually forcing itself upon me that good literature is not a question of forms new or old, but of ideas that must pour freely from the author’s heart, without his bothering his head about any forms whatsoever. [A knock is heard at the window nearest the table] What was that? [He looks out of the window] I can’t see anything. [He opens the glass door and looks out into the garden] I heard some one run down the steps. [He calls] Who is there? [He goes out, and is heard walking quickly along the terrace. In a few minutes he comes back with Nina ZARIETCHNAYA] Oh, Nina, Nina!

Nina lays her head on Treplieff’S breast and stifles her sobs.

Treplieff.

[Deeply moved] Nina, Nina! It is you — you! I felt you would come; all day my heart has been aching for you. [He takes off her hat and cloak] My darling, my beloved has come back to me! We mustn’t cry, we mustn’t cry.

Nina.

There is some one here.

Treplieff.

No one is here.

Nina.

Lock the door, some one might come.

Treplieff.

No one will come in.

Nina.

I know your mother is here. Lock the door.

Treplieff locks the door on the right and comes back to Nina.

Treplieff.

There is no lock on that one. I shall put a chair against it. [He puts an arm-chair against the door] Don’t be frightened, no one shall come in.

Nina.

[Gazing intently into his face] Let me look at you. [She looks about her] It is warm and comfortable in here. This used to be a sitting-room. Have I changed much?

Treplieff.

Yes, you have grown thinner, and your eyes are larger than they were. Nina, it seems so strange to see you! Why didn’t you let me go to you? Why didn’t you come sooner to me? You have been here nearly a week, I know. I have been several times each day to where you live, and have stood like a beggar beneath your window.

Nina.

I was afraid you might hate me. I dream every night that you look at me without recognising me. I have been wandering about on the shores of the lake ever since I came back. I have often been near your house, but I have never had the courage to come in. Let us sit down. [They sit down] Let us sit down and talk our hearts out. It is so quiet and warm in here. Do you hear the wind whistling outside? As Turgenieff says, “Happy is he who can sit at night under the roof of his home, who has a warm corner in which to take refuge.” I am a sea-gull — and yet — no. [She passes her hand across her forehead] What was I saying? Oh, yes, Turgenieff. He says, “and God help all houseless wanderers.” [She sobs.]

Treplieff.

Nina! You are crying again, Nina!

Nina.

It is all right. I shall feel better after this. I have not cried for two years. I went into the garden last night to see if our old theatre were still standing. I see it is. I wept there for the first time in two years, and my heart grew lighter, and my soul saw more clearly again. See, I am not crying now. [She takes his hand in hers] So you are an author now, and I am an actress. We have both been sucked into the whirlpool. My life used to be as happy as a child’s; I used to wake singing in the morning; I loved you and dreamt of fame, and what is the reality? To-morrow morning early I must start for Eltz by train in a third-class carriage, with a lot of peasants, and at Eltz the educated trades-people will pursue me with compliments. It is a rough life.

Treplieff.

Why are you going to Eltz?

Nina.

I have accepted an engagement there for the winter. It is time for me to go.

Treplieff.

Nina, I have cursed you, and hated you, and torn up your photograph, and yet I have known every minute of my life that my heart and soul were yours for ever. To cease from loving you is beyond my power. I have suffered continually from the time I lost you and began to write, and my life has been almost unendurable. My youth was suddenly plucked from me then, and I seem now to have lived in this world for ninety years. I have called out to you, I have kissed the ground you walked on, wherever I looked I have seen your face before my eyes, and the smile that had illumined for me the best years of my life.

Nina.

[Despairingly] Why, why does he talk to me like this?

Treplieff.

I am quite alone, unwarmed by any attachment. I am as cold as if I were living in a cave. Whatever I write is dry and gloomy and harsh. Stay here, Nina, I beseech you, or else let me go away with you.

Nina quickly puts on her coat and hat.

Treplieff.

Nina, why do you do that? For God’s sake, Nina! [He watches her as she dresses. A pause.]

Nina.

My carriage is at the gate. Do not come out to see me off. I shall find the way alone. [Weeping] Let me have some water.

Treplieff hands her a glass of water.

Treplieff.

Where are you going?

Nina.

Back to the village. Is your mother here?

Treplieff.

Yes, my uncle fell ill on Thursday, and we telegraphed for her to come.

Nina.

Why do you say that you have kissed the ground I walked on? You should kill me rather. [She bends over the table] I am so tired. If I could only rest — rest. [She raises her head] I am a sea-gull — no — no, I am an actress. [She hears Arkadina and Trigorin laughing in the distance, runs to the door on the left and looks through the keyhole] He is there too. [She goes back to Treplieff] Ah, well — no matter. He does not believe in the theatre; he used to laugh at my dreams, so that little by little I became down-hearted and ceased to believe in it too. Then came all the cares of love, the continual anxiety about my little one, so that I soon grew trivial and spiritless, and played my parts without meaning. I never knew what to do with my hands, and I could not walk properly or control my voice. You cannot imagine the state of mind of one who knows as he goes through a play how terribly badly he is acting. I am a sea-gull — no — no, that is not what I meant to say. Do you remember how you shot a seagull once? A man chanced to pass that way and destroyed it out of idleness. That is an idea for a short story, but it is not what I meant to say. [She passes her hand across her forehead] What was I saying? Oh, yes, the stage. I have changed now. Now I am a real actress. I act with joy, with exaltation, I am intoxicated by it, and feel that I am superb. I have been walking and walking, and thinking and thinking, ever since I have been here, and I feel the strength of my spirit growing in me every day. I know now, I understand at last, Constantine, that for us, whether we write or act, it is not the honour and glory of which I have dreamt that is important, it is the strength to endure. One must know how to bear one’s cross, and one must have faith. I believe, and so do not suffer so much, and when I think of my calling I do not fear life.

Treplieff.

[Sadly] You have found your way, you know where you are going, but I am still groping in a chaos of phantoms and dreams, not knowing whom and what end I am serving by it all. I do not believe in anything, and I do not know what my calling is.

Nina.

[Listening] Hush! I must go. Good-bye. When I have become a famous actress you must come and see me. Will you promise to come? But now — [She takes his hand] it is late. I can hardly stand. I am fainting. I am hungry.

Treplieff.

Stay, and let me bring you some supper.

Nina.

No, no — and don’t come out, I can find the way alone. My carriage is not far away. So she brought him back with her? However, what difference can that make to me? Don’t tell Trigorin anything when you see him. I love him — I love him even more than I used to. It is an idea for a short story. I love him — I love him passionately — I love him to despair. Have you forgotten, Constantine, how pleasant the old times were? What a gay, bright, gentle, pure life we led? How a feeling as sweet and tender as a flower blossomed in our hearts? Do you remember, [She recites] “All men and beasts, lions, eagles, and quails, horned stags, geese, spiders, silent fish that inhabit the waves, starfish from the sea, and creatures invisible to the eye — in one word, life — all, all life, completing the dreary round set before it, has died out at last. A thousand years have passed since the earth last bore a living creature on its breast, and the unhappy moon now lights her lamp in vain. No longer are the cries of storks heard in the meadows, or the drone of beetles in the groves of limes ——”

She embraces Treplieff impetuously and runs out onto the terrace.

Treplieff.

[After a pause] It would be a pity if she were seen in the garden. My mother would be distressed.

He stands for several minutes tearing up his manuscripts and throwing them under the table, then unlocks the door on the right and goes out.

Dorn.

[Trying to force open the door on the left] Odd! This door seems to be locked. [He comes in and puts the chair back in its former place] This is like a hurdle race.

Arkadina and Paulina come in, followed by Jacob carrying some bottles; then come Masha, Shamraeff, and Trigorin.

Arkadina.

Put the claret and the beer here, on the table, so that we can drink while we are playing. Sit down, friends.

Paulina.

And bring the tea at once.

She lights the candles and takes her seat at the card-table. Shamraeff leads Trigorin to the cupboard.

Shamraeff.

Here is the stuffed sea-gull I was telling you about. [He takes the sea-gull out of the cupboard] You told me to have it done.

Trigorin.

[looking at the bird] I don’t remember a thing about it, not a thing. [A shot is heard. Every one jumps.]

Arkadina.

[Frightened] What was that?

Dorn.

Nothing at all; probably one of my medicine bottles has blown up. Don’t worry. [He goes out through the door on the right, and comes back in a few moments] It is as I thought, a flask of ether has exploded. [He sings]

“Spellbound once more I stand before thee.”

Arkadina.

[Sitting down at the table] Heavens! I was really frightened. That noise reminded me of — [She covers her face with her hands] Everything is black before my eyes.

Dorn.

[Looking through the pages of a magazine, to Trigorin] There was an article from America in this magazine about two months ago that I wanted to ask you about, among other things. [He leads Trigorin to the front of the stage] I am very much interested in this question. [He lowers his voice and whispers] You must take Madame Arkadina away from here; what I wanted to say was, that Constantine has shot himself.

The curtain falls.

This web edition published by:

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University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/chekhov/anton/c51se/act4.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06