Act IV - Scene XII

[Khlestakov and Marya Antonovna.]


KHLESTAKOV: What frightened you so, mademoiselle?

MARYA: I wasn't frightened.

KHLESTAKOV: [showing off] Please, miss. It's a great pleasure to me that you took me for a man who—May I venture to ask you where you were going?

MARYA: I really wasn't going anywhere.

KHLESTAKOV: But why weren't you going anywhere?

MARYA: I was wondering whether mamma was here.

KHLESTAKOV: No. I'd like to know why you weren't going anywhere.

MARYA: I should have been in your way. You were occupied with important matters.

KHLESTAKOV: [showing off] Your eyes are better than important matters. You cannot possibly disturb me. No, indeed, by no means. On the contrary, you afford me great pleasure.

MARYA: You speak like a man from the capital.

KHLESTAKOV: For such a beautiful lady as you. May I give myself the pleasure of offering you a chair? But no, you should have, not a chair, but a throne.

MARYA: I really don't know—I really must go [She sits down.]

KHLESTAKOV: What a beautiful scarf that is.

MARYA: You are making fun of me. You're only ridiculing the provincials.

KHLESTAKOV: Oh, mademoiselle, how I long to be your scarf, so that I might embrace your lily neck.

MARYA: I haven't the least idea what you are talking about—scarf!—Peculiar weather today, isn't it?

KHLESTAKOV: Your lips, mademoiselle, are better than any weather.

MARYA: You are just saying that—I should like to ask you—I'd rather you would write some verses in my album for a souvenir. You must know very many.

KHLESTAKOV: Anything you desire, mademoiselle. Ask! What verses will you have?

MARYA: Any at all. Pretty, new verses.

KHLESTAKOV: Oh, what are verses! I know a lot of them.

MARYA: Well, tell me. What verses will you write for me?

KHLESTAKOV: What's the use? I know them anyway.

MARYA: I love them so.

KHLESTAKOV: I have lots of them—of every sort. If you like, for example, I'll give you this: "Oh, thou, mortal man, who in thy anguish murmurest against God—" and others. I can't remember them now. Besides, it's all bosh. I'd rather offer you my love instead, which ever since your first glance—[Moves his chair nearer.]

MARYA: Love? I don't understand love. I never knew what love is. [Moves her chair away.]

KHLESTAKOV: Why do you move your chair away? It is better for us to sit near each other.

MARYA: [moving away] Why near? It's all the same if it's far away.

KHLESTAKOV: [moving nearer] Why far? It's all the same if it's near.

MARYA: [moving away] But what for?

KHLESTAKOV: [moving nearer] It only seems near to you. Imagine it's far. How happy I would be, mademoiselle, if I could clasp you in my embrace.

MARYA: [looking through the window] What is that? It looked as if something had flown by. Was it a magpie or some other bird?

KHLESTAKOV: [kisses her shoulder and looks through the window] It's a magpie.

MARYA: [rises indignantly] No, that's too much—Such rudeness, such impertinence.

KHLESTAKOV: [holding her back]: Forgive me, mademoiselle. I did it only out of love—only out of love, nothing else.

MARYA: You take me for a silly provincial wench. [Struggles to go away.]

KHLESTAKOV: [still holding her back] It's out of love, really—out of love. It was just a little fun. Marya Antonovna, don't be angry. I'm ready to beg your forgiveness on my knees. [Falls on his knees.] Forgive me, do forgive me! You see, I am on my knees.