[The stage is set as for Act I. There are no curtains on the windows, no pictures; only a few pieces of furniture are left; they are piled up in a corner as if for sale. The emptiness is felt. By the door that leads out of the house and at the back of the stage, portmanteaux and travelling paraphernalia are piled up. The door on the left is open; the voices of VARYA and ANYA can be heard through it. LOPAKHIN stands and waits. YASHA holds a tray with little tumblers of champagne. Outside, EPIKHODOV is tying up a box. Voices are heard behind the stage. The peasants have come to say good-bye. The voice of GAEV is heard: “Thank you, brothers, thank you.”]
YASHA: The common people have come to say good-bye. I am of the opinion, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, that they’re good people, but they don’t understand very much.
[The voices die away. LUBOV ANDREYEVNA and GAEV enter. She is not crying but is pale, and her face trembles; she can hardly speak.]
GAEV: You gave them your purse, Luba. You can’t go on like that, you can’t!
LUBOV: I couldn’t help myself, I couldn’t! [They go out.]
LOPAKHIN: [In the doorway, calling after them] Please, I ask you most humbly! Just a little glass to say good-bye. I didn’t remember to bring any from town and I only found one bottle at the station. Please, do!
Won’t you really have any? [Goes away from the door] If I only knew—I wouldn’t have bought any. Well, I shan’t drink any either. [YASHA carefully puts the tray on a chair] You have a drink, Yasha, at any rate.
YASHA: To those departing! And good luck to those who stay behind! [Drinks] I can assure you that this isn’t real champagne.
LOPAKHIN: Eight roubles a bottle.
It’s devilish cold here.
YASHA: There are no fires to-day, we’re going away. [Laughs]
LOPAKHIN: What’s the matter with you?
YASHA: I’m just pleased.
LOPAKHIN: It’s October outside, but it’s as sunny and as quiet as if it were summer. Good for building. [Looking at his watch and speaking through the door] Ladies and gentlemen, please remember that it’s only forty-seven minutes till the train goes! You must go off to the station in twenty minutes. Hurry up.
[TROFIMOV, in an overcoat, comes in from the grounds.]
TROFIMOV: I think it’s time we went. The carriages are waiting. Where the devil are my goloshes? They’re lost. [Through the door] Anya, I can’t find my goloshes! I can’t!
LOPAKHIN: I’ve got to go to Kharkov. I’m going in the same train as you. I’m going to spend the whole winter in Kharkov. I’ve been hanging about with you people, going rusty without work. I can’t live without working. I must have something to do with my hands; they hang about as if they weren’t mine at all.
TROFIMOV: We’ll go away now and then you’ll start again on your useful labours.
LOPAKHIN: Have a glass.
TROFIMOV: I won’t.
LOPAKHIN: So you’re off to Moscow now?
TROFIMOV: Yes. I’ll see them into town and to-morrow I’m off to Moscow.
LOPAKHIN: Yes.... I expect the professors don’t lecture nowadays; they’re waiting till you turn up!
TROFIMOV: That’s not your business.
LOPAKHIN: How many years have you been going to the university?
TROFIMOV: Think of something fresh. This is old and flat. [Looking for his goloshes] You know, we may not meet each other again, so just let me give you a word of advice on parting: “Don’t wave your hands about! Get rid of that habit of waving them about. And then, building villas and reckoning on their residents becoming freeholders in time—that’s the same thing; it’s all a matter of waving your hands about.... Whether I want to or not, you know, I like you. You’ve thin, delicate fingers, like those of an artist, and you’ve a thin, delicate soul....”
LOPAKHIN: [Embraces him] Good-bye, dear fellow. Thanks for all you’ve said. If you want any, take some money from me for the journey.
TROFIMOV: Why should I? I don’t want it.
LOPAKHIN: But you’ve nothing!
TROFIMOV: Yes, I have, thank you; I’ve got some for a translation. Here it is in my pocket. [Nervously] But I can’t find my goloshes!
VARYA: [From the other room] Take your rubbish away! [Throws a pair of rubber goloshes on to the stage.]
TROFIMOV: Why are you angry, Varya? Hm! These aren’t my goloshes!
LOPAKHIN: In the spring I sowed three thousand acres of poppies, and now I’ve made forty thousand roubles net profit. And when my poppies were in flower, what a picture it was! So I, as I was saying, made forty thousand roubles, and I mean I’d like to lend you some, because I can afford it. Why turn up your nose at it? I’m just a simple peasant....
TROFIMOV: Your father was a peasant, mine was a chemist, and that means absolutely nothing. [LOPAKHIN takes out his pocket-book] No, no.... Even if you gave me twenty thousand I should refuse. I’m a free man. And everything that all you people, rich and poor, value so highly and so dearly hasn’t the least influence over me; it’s like a flock of down in the wind. I can do without you, I can pass you by. I’m strong and proud. Mankind goes on to the highest truths and to the highest happiness such as is only possible on earth, and I go in the front ranks!
LOPAKHIN: Will you get there?
TROFIMOV: I will.
I’ll get there and show others the way. [Axes cutting the trees are heard in the distance.]
LOPAKHIN: Well, good-bye, old man. It’s time to go. Here we stand pulling one another’s noses, but life goes its own way all the time. When I work for a long time, and I don’t get tired, then I think more easily, and I think I get to understand why I exist. And there are so many people in Russia, brother, who live for nothing at all. Still, work goes on without that. Leonid Andreyevitch, they say, has accepted a post in a bank; he will get sixty thousand roubles a year.... But he won’t stand it; he’s very lazy.
ANYA: [At the door] Mother asks if you will stop them cutting down the orchard until she has gone away.
TROFIMOV: Yes, really, you ought to have enough tact not to do that. [Exit.]
LOPAKHIN: All right, all right... yes, he’s right. [Exit.]
ANYA: Has Fiers been sent to the hospital?
YASHA: I gave the order this morning. I suppose they’ve sent him.
ANYA. [To EPIKHODOV, who crosses the room] Simeon Panteleyevitch, please make inquiries if Fiers has been sent to the hospital.
YASHA: [Offended] I told Egor this morning. What’s the use of asking ten times!
EPIKHODOV: The aged Fiers, in my conclusive opinion, isn’t worth mending; his forefathers had better have him. I only envy him. [Puts a trunk on a hat-box and squashes it] Well, of course. I thought so! [Exit.]
YASHA: [Grinning] Two-and-twenty troubles.
VARYA: [Behind the door] Has Fiers been taken away to the hospital?
VARYA: Why didn’t they take the letter to the doctor?
ANYA: It’ll have to be sent after him. [Exit.]
VARYA: [In the next room] Where’s Yasha? Tell him his mother’s come and wants to say good-bye to him.
YASHA: [Waving his hand] She’ll make me lose all patience!
[DUNYASHA has meanwhile been bustling round the luggage; now that YASHA is left alone, she goes up to him.]
DUNYASHA: If you only looked at me once, Yasha. You’re going away, leaving me behind.
[Weeps and hugs him round the neck.]
YASHA: What’s the use of crying? [Drinks champagne] In six days I’ll be again in Paris. To-morrow we get into the express and off we go. I can hardly believe it. Vive la France! It doesn’t suit me here, I can’t live here... it’s no good. Well, I’ve seen the uncivilized world; I have had enough of it. [Drinks champagne] What do you want to cry for? You behave yourself properly, and then you won’t cry.
DUNYASHA: [Looks in a small mirror and powders her face] Send me a letter from Paris. You know I loved you, Yasha, so much! I’m a sensitive creature, Yasha.
YASHA: Somebody’s coming.
[He bustles around the luggage, singing softly. Enter LUBOV ANDREYEVNA, GAEV, ANYA, and CHARLOTTA IVANOVNA.]
GAEV: We’d better be off. There’s no time left. [Looks at YASHA] Somebody smells of herring!
LUBOV: We needn’t get into our carriages for ten minutes.... [Looks round the room] Good-bye, dear house, old grandfather. The winter will go, the spring will come, and then you’ll exist no more, you’ll be pulled down. How much these walls have seen! [Passionately kisses her daughter] My treasure, you’re radiant, your eyes flash like two jewels! Are you happy? Very?
ANYA: Very! A new life is beginning, mother!
GAEV: [Gaily] Yes, really, everything’s all right now. Before the cherry orchard was sold we all were excited and we suffered, and then, when the question was solved once and for all, we all calmed down, and even became cheerful. I’m a bank official now, and a financier... red in the middle; and you, Luba, for some reason or other, look better, there’s no doubt about it.
LUBOV: Yes. My nerves are better, it’s true. [She puts on her coat and hat] I sleep well. Take my luggage out, Yasha. It’s time. [To ANYA] My little girl, we’ll soon see each other again.... I’m off to Paris. I’ll live there on the money your grandmother from Yaroslav sent along to buy the estate—bless her!—though it won’t last long.
ANYA: You’ll come back soon, soon, mother, won’t you? I’ll get ready, and pass the exam at the Higher School, and then I’ll work and help you. We’ll read all sorts of books to one another, won’t we? [Kisses her mother’s hands] We’ll read in the autumn evenings; we’ll read many books, and a beautiful new world will open up before us.... [Thoughtfully] You’ll come, mother....
LUBOV: I’ll come, my darling. [Embraces her.]
[Enter LOPAKHIN. CHARLOTTA is singing to herself.]
GAEV: Charlotta is happy; she sings!
CHARLOTTA: [Takes a bundle, looking like a wrapped-up baby] My little baby, bye-bye. [The baby seems to answer, “Oua! Oua!”] Hush, my nice little boy. [“Oua! Oua!”] I’m so sorry for you! [Throws the bundle back] So please find me a new place. I can’t go on like this.
LOPAKHIN: We’ll find one, Charlotta Ivanovna, don’t you be afraid.
GAEV: Everybody’s leaving us. Varya’s going away... we’ve suddenly become unnecessary.
CHARLOTTA: I’ve nowhere to live in town. I must go away. [Hums] Never mind.
LOPAKHIN: Nature’s marvel!
PISCHIN: [Puffing] Oh, let me get my breath back.... I’m fagged out... My most honoured, give me some water....
GAEV: Come for money, what? I’m your humble servant, and I’m going out of the way of temptation. [Exit.]
PISCHIN: I haven’t been here for ever so long... dear madam. [To LOPAKHIN] You here? Glad to see you... man of immense brain... take this... take it.... [Gives LOPAKHIN money] Four hundred roubles.... That leaves 840....
LOPAKHIN: [Shrugs his shoulders in surprise] As if I were dreaming. Where did you get this from?
PISCHIN: Stop... it’s hot.... A most unexpected thing happened. Some Englishmen came along and found some white clay on my land.... [To LUBOV ANDREYEVNA] And here’s four hundred for you... beautiful lady.... [Gives her money] Give you the rest later.... [Drinks water] Just now a young man in the train was saying that some great philosopher advises us all to jump off roofs. “Jump!” he says, and that’s all. [Astonished] To think of that, now! More water!
LOPAKHIN: Who were these Englishmen?
PISCHIN: I’ve leased off the land with the clay to them for twenty-four years.... Now, excuse me, I’ve no time.... I must run off.... I must go to Znoikov and to Kardamonov... I owe them all money.... [Drinks] Good-bye. I’ll come in on Thursday.
LUBOV: We’re just off to town, and to-morrow I go abroad.
PISCHIN: [Agitated] What? Why to town? I see furniture... trunks.... Well, never mind. [Crying] Never mind. These Englishmen are men of immense intellect.... Never mind.... Be happy.... God will help you.... Never mind.... Everything in this world comes to an end.... [Kisses LUBOV ANDREYEVNA’S hand] And if you should happen to hear that my end has come, just remember this old... horse and say: “There was one such and such a Simeonov-Pischin, God bless his soul....” Wonderful weather... yes.... [Exit deeply moved, but returns at once and says in the door] Dashenka sent her love! [Exit.]
LUBOV: Now we can go. I’ve two anxieties, though. The first is poor Fiers [Looks at her watch] We’ve still five minutes....
ANYA: Mother, Fiers has already been sent to the hospital. Yasha sent him off this morning.
LUBOV: The second is Varya. She’s used to getting up early and to work, and now she’s no work to do she’s like a fish out of water. She’s grown thin and pale, and she cries, poor thing....
You know very well, Ermolai Alexeyevitch, that I used to hope to marry her to you, and I suppose you are going to marry somebody? [Whispers to ANYA, who nods to CHARLOTTA, and they both go out] She loves you, she’s your sort, and I don’t understand, I really don’t, why you seem to be keeping away from each other. I don’t understand!
LOPAKHIN: To tell the truth, I don’t understand it myself. It’s all so strange.... If there’s still time, I’ll be ready at once... Let’s get it over, once and for all; I don’t feel as if I could ever propose to her without you.
LUBOV: Excellent. It’ll only take a minute. I’ll call her.
LOPAKHIN: The champagne’s very appropriate. [Looking at the tumblers] They’re empty, somebody’s already drunk them. [YASHA coughs] I call that licking it up....
LUBOV: [Animated] Excellent. We’ll go out. Yasha, allez. I’ll call her in.... [At the door] Varya, leave that and come here. Come! [Exit with YASHA.]
LOPAKHIN: [Looks at his watch] Yes....
[There is a restrained laugh behind the door, a whisper, then VARYA comes in.]
VARYA: [Looking at the luggage in silence] I can’t seem to find it....
LOPAKHIN: What are you looking for?
VARYA: I packed it myself and I don’t remember.
LOPAKHIN: Where are you going to now, Barbara Mihailovna?
VARYA: I? To the Ragulins.... I’ve got an agreement to go and look after their house... as housekeeper or something.
LOPAKHIN: Is that at Yashnevo? It’s about fifty miles.
So life in this house is finished now....
VARYA: [Looking at the luggage] Where is it?... perhaps I’ve put it away in the trunk.... Yes, there’ll be no more life in this house....
LOPAKHIN: And I’m off to Kharkov at once... by this train. I’ve a lot of business on hand. I’m leaving Epikhodov here... I’ve taken him on.
VARYA: Well, well!
LOPAKHIN: Last year at this time the snow was already falling, if you remember, and now it’s nice and sunny. Only it’s rather cold.... There’s three degrees of frost.
VARYA: I didn’t look.
And our thermometer’s broken....
[VOICE AT THE DOOR: “Ermolai Alexeyevitch!”]
LOPAKHIN: [As if he has long been waiting to be called] This minute. [Exit quickly.]
[VARYA, sitting on the floor, puts her face on a bundle of clothes and weeps gently. The door opens. LUBOV ANDREYEVNA enters carefully.]
We must go.
VARYA: [Not crying now, wipes her eyes] Yes, it’s quite time, little mother. I’ll get to the Ragulins to-day, if I don’t miss the train....
LUBOV: [At the door] Anya, put on your things.
[Enter ANYA, then GAEV, CHARLOTTA IVANOVNA. GAEV wears a warm overcoat with a cape. A servant and drivers come in. EPIKHODOV bustles around the luggage]
Now we can go away.
ANYA: [Joyfully] Away!
GAEV: My friends, my dear friends! Can I be silent, in leaving this house for evermore?—can I restrain myself, in saying farewell, from expressing those feelings which now fill my whole being...?
ANYA: [Imploringly] Uncle!
VARYA: Uncle, you shouldn’t!
GAEV: [Stupidly] Double the red into the middle.... I’ll be quiet.
[Enter TROFIMOV, then LOPAKHIN.]
TROFIMOV: Well, it’s time to be off.
LOPAKHIN: Epikhodov, my coat!
LUBOV: I’ll sit here one more minute. It’s as if I’d never really noticed what the walls and ceilings of this house were like, and now I look at them greedily, with such tender love....
GAEV: I remember, when I was six years old, on Trinity Sunday, I sat at this window and looked and saw my father going to church....
LUBOV: Have all the things been taken away?
LOPAKHIN: Yes, all, I think. [To EPIKHODOV, putting on his coat] You see that everything’s quite straight, Epikhodov.
EPIKHODOV: [Hoarsely] You may depend upon me, Ermolai Alexeyevitch!
LOPAKHIN: What’s the matter with your voice?
EPIKHODOV: I swallowed something just now; I was having a drink of water.
YASHA: [Suspiciously] What manners....
LUBOV: We go away, and not a soul remains behind.
LOPAKHIN: Till the spring.
VARYA: [Drags an umbrella out of a bundle, and seems to be waving it about. LOPAKHIN appears to be frightened] What are you doing?... I never thought...
TROFIMOV: Come along, let’s take our seats... it’s time! The train will be in directly.
VARYA: Peter, here they are, your goloshes, by that trunk. [In tears] And how old and dirty they are....
TROFIMOV: [Putting them on] Come on!
GAEV: [Deeply moved, nearly crying] The train... the station.... Cross in the middle, a white double in the corner....
LUBOV: Let’s go!
LOPAKHIN: Are you all here? There’s nobody else? [Locks the side-door on the left] There’s a lot of things in there. I must lock them up. Come!
ANYA: Good-bye, home! Good-bye, old life!
TROFIMOV: Welcome, new life! [Exit with ANYA.]
[VARYA looks round the room and goes out slowly. YASHA and CHARLOTTA, with her little dog, go out.]
LOPAKHIN: Till the spring, then! Come on... till we meet again! [Exit.]
[LUBOV ANDREYEVNA and GAEV are left alone. They might almost have been waiting for that. They fall into each other’s arms and sob restrainedly and quietly, fearing that somebody might hear them.]
GAEV: [In despair] My sister, my sister....
LUBOV: My dear, my gentle, beautiful orchard! My life, my youth, my happiness, good-bye! Good-bye!
ANYA’S VOICE: [Gaily] Mother!
TROFIMOV’S VOICE: [Gaily, excited] Coo-ee!
LUBOV: To look at the walls and the windows for the last time.... My dead mother used to like to walk about this room....
GAEV: My sister, my sister!
ANYA’S VOICE: Mother!
TROFIMOV’S VOICE: Coo-ee!
LUBOV: We’re coming! [They go out.]
[The stage is empty. The sound of keys being turned in the locks is heard, and then the noise of the carriages going away. It is quiet. Then the sound of an axe against the trees is heard in the silence sadly and by itself. Steps are heard. FIERS comes in from the door on the right. He is dressed as usual, in a short jacket and white waistcoat; slippers on his feet. He is ill. He goes to the door and tries the handle.]
FIERS: It’s locked. They’ve gone away. [Sits on a sofa] They’ve forgotten about me.... Never mind, I’ll sit here.... And Leonid Andreyevitch will have gone in a light overcoat instead of putting on his fur coat.... [Sighs anxiously] I didn’t see.... Oh, these young people! [Mumbles something that cannot be understood] Life’s gone on as if I’d never lived. [Lying down] I’ll lie down.... You’ve no strength left in you, nothing left at all.... Oh, you... bungler!
[He lies without moving. The distant sound is heard, as if from the sky, of a breaking string, dying away sadly. Silence follows it, and only the sound is heard, some way away in the orchard, of the axe falling on the trees.]