Act III - Scene II

[Enter Dobchinsky.]

ANNA: Now tell me, aren't you ashamed? You were the only one I relied on to act decently. They all ran away and you after them, and till now I haven't been able to find out a thing. Aren't you ashamed? I stood godmother to your Vanichka and Lizanko, and this is the way you treat me.

DOBCHINSKY: Godmother, upon my word, I ran so fast to pay my respects to you that I'm all out of breath. How do you do, Marya Antonovna?

MARYA: Good afternoon, Piotr Ivanovich.

ANNA: Well, tell me all about it. What is happening at the inn?

DOBCHINSKY: I have a note for you from Anton Antonovich.

ANNA: But who is he? A general?

DOBCHINSKY: No, not a general, but every bit as good as a general, I tell you. Such culture! Such dignified manners!

ANNA: Ah! So he is the same as the one my husband got a letter about.

DOBCHINSKY: Exactly. It was Piotr Ivanovich and I who first discovered him.

ANNA: Tell me, tell me all about it.

DOBCHINSKY: It's all right now, thank the Lord. At first he received Anton Antonovich rather roughly. He was angry and said the inn was not run properly, and he wouldn't come to the Governor's house and he didn't want to go to jail on account of him. But then when he found out that Anton Antonovich was not to blame and they got to talking more intimately, he changed right away, and, thank Heaven, everything went well. They've gone now to inspect the philanthropic institutions. I confess that Anton Antonovich had already begun to suspect that a secret denunciation had been lodged against him. I myself was trembling a little, too.

ANNA: What have you to be afraid of? You're not an official.

DOBCHINSKY: Well, you see, when a Grand Mogul speaks, you feel afraid.

ANNA: That's all rubbish. Tell me, what is he like personally? Is he young or old?

DOBCHINSKY: Young—a young man of about twenty-three. But he talks as if he were older. "If you will allow me," he says, "I will go there and there." [Waves his hands.] He does it all with such distinction. "I like," he says, "to read and write, but I am prevented because my room is rather dark."

ANNA: And what sort of a looking man is he, dark or fair?

DOBCHINSKY: Neither. I should say rather chestnut. And his eyes dart about like little animals. They make you nervous.

ANNA: Let me see what my husband writes. [Reads.] "I hasten to let you know, dear, that my position was extremely uncomfortable, but relying on the mercy of God, two pickles extra and a half portion of caviar, one ruble and twenty-five kopeks." [Stops.] I don't understand. What have pickles and caviar got to do with it?

DOBCHINSKY: Oh, Anton Antonovich hurriedly wrote on a piece of scrap paper. There's a kind of bill on it.

ANNA: Oh, yes, I see. [Goes on reading.] "But relying on the mercy of God, I believe all will turn out well in the end. Get a room ready quickly for the distinguished guest—the one with the gold wall paper. Don't bother to get any extras for dinner because we'll have something at the hospital with Artemy Filippovich. Order a little more wine, and tell Abdulin to send the best, or I'll wreck his whole cellar. I kiss your hand, my dearest, and remain yours, Anton Skvoznik-Dmukhanovsky." Oh my! I must hurry. Hello, who's there? Mishka?

DOBCHINSKY: [Runs to the door and calls.] Mishka! Mishka! Mishka! [Mishka enters.]

ANNA: Listen! Run over to Abdulin—wait, I'll give you a note. [She sits down at the table and writes, talking all the while.] Give this to Sidor, the coachman, and tell him to take it to Abdulin and bring back the wine. And get to work at once and make the gold room ready for a guest. Do it nicely. Put a bed in it, a wash basin and pitcher and everything else.

DOBCHINSKY: Well, I'm going now, Anna Andreyevna, to see how he does the inspecting.

ANNA: Go on, I'm not keeping you.