Library in IVANOFF'S house. On the walls hang maps, pictures, guns, pistols,
sickles, whips, etc. A writing-table. On it lie in disorder knick-knacks, papers,
books, parcels, and several revolvers. Near the papers stand a lamp, a decanter
of vodka, and a plate of salted herrings. Pieces of bread and cucumber are
scattered about. SHABELSKI and LEBEDIEFF are sitting at the writing-table.
BORKIN is sitting astride a chair in the middle of the room. PETER is standing
near the door.
LEBEDIEFF. The policy of France is clear and definite; the French know what
they want: it is to skin those German sausages, but the Germans must sing
another song; France is not the only thorn in their flesh.
SHABELSKI. Nonsense! In my opinion the Germans are cowards and the
French are the same. They are showing their teeth at one another, but you can
take my word for it, they will not do more than that; they'll never fight!
BORKIN. Why should they fight? Why all these congresses, this arming and
expense? Do you know what I would do in their place? I would catch all the dogs
in the kingdom and inoculate them with Pasteur's serum, then I would let them
loose in the enemy's country, and the enemies would all go mad in a month.
LEBEDIEFF. [Laughing] His head is small, but the great ideas are hidden away
in it like fish in the sea!
SHABELSKI. Oh, he is a genius.
LEBEDIEFF. Heaven help you, Misha, you are a funny chap. [He stops laughing]
But how is this, gentlemen? Here we are talking Germany, Germany, and never
a word about vodka! Repetatur! [He fills three glasses] Here's to you all! [He
drinks and eats] This herring is the best of all relishes.
SHABELSKI. No, no, these cucumbers are better; every wise man since the
creation of the world has been trying to invent something better than a salted
cucumber, and not one has succeeded. [To PETER] Peter, go and fetch some
more cucumbers. And Peter, tell the cook to make four little onion pasties, and
see that we get them hot.
PETER goes out.
LEBEDIEFF. Caviar is good with vodka, but it must be prepared with skill. Take a
quarter of a pound of pressed caviar, two little onions, and a little olive oil; mix