The garden of IVANOFF'S country place. On the left is a terrace and the facade
of the house. One window is open. Below the terrace is a broad semicircular
lawn, from which paths lead to right and left into a garden. On the right are
several garden benches and tables. A lamp is burning on one of the tables. It is
evening. As the curtain rises sounds of the piano and violoncello are heard.
IVANOFF is sitting at a table reading.
BORKIN, in top-boots and carrying a gun, comes in from the rear of the garden.
He is a little tipsy. As he sees IVANOFF he comes toward him on tiptoe, and
when he comes opposite him he stops and points the gun at his face.
IVANOFF. [Catches sight of BORKIN. Shudders and jumps to his feet] Misha!
What are you doing? You frightened me! I can't stand your stupid jokes when I
am so nervous as this. And having frightened me, you laugh! [He sits down.]
BORKIN. [Laughing loudly] There, I am sorry, really. I won't do it again. Indeed I
won't. [Take off his cap] How hot it is! Just think, my dear boy, I have covered
twelve miles in the last three hours. I am worn out. Just feel how my heart is
IVANOFF. [Goes on reading] Oh, very well. I shall feel it later!
BORKIN. No, feel it now. [He takes IVANOFF'S hand and presses it against his
breast] Can you feel it thumping? That means that it is weak and that I may die
suddenly at any moment. Would you be sorry if I died?
IVANOFF. I am reading now. I shall attend to you later.
BORKIN. No, seriously, would you be sorry if I died? Nicholas, would you be
sorry if I died?
IVANOFF. Leave me alone!
BORKIN. Come, tell me if you would be sorry or not.
IVANOFF. I am sorry that you smell so of vodka, Misha, it is disgusting.
BORKIN. Do I smell of vodka? How strange! And yet, it is not so strange after all.
I met the magistrate on the road, and I must admit that we did drink about eight
glasses together. Strictly speaking, of course, drinking is very harmful. Listen, it is
harmful, isn't it? Is it? Is it?