The lawn in front of SORIN'S house. The house stands in the background, on a broad
terrace. The lake, brightly reflecting the rays of the sun, lies to the left. There are flower-
beds here and there. It is noon; the day is hot. ARKADINA, DORN, and MASHA are
sitting on a bench on the lawn, in the shade of an old linden. An open book is lying on
ARKADINA. [To MASHA] Come, get up. [They both get up] Stand beside me. You are
twenty-two and I am almost twice your age. Tell me, Doctor, which of us is the younger
DORN. You are, of course.
ARKADINA. You see! Now why is it? Because I work; my heart and mind are always
busy, whereas you never move off the same spot. You don't live. It is a maxim of mine
never to look into the future. I never admit the thought of old age or death, and just accept
what comes to me.
MASHA. I feel as if I had been in the world a thousand years, and I trail my life behind
me like an endless scarf. Often I have no desire to live at all. Of course that is foolish.
One ought to pull oneself together and shake off such nonsense.
DORN. [Sings softly]
"Tell her, oh flowers--"
ARKADINA. And then I keep myself as correct-looking as an Englishman. I am always
well-groomed, as the saying is, and carefully dressed, with my hair neatly arranged. Do
you think I should ever permit myself to leave the house half-dressed, with untidy hair?
Certainly not! I have kept my looks by never letting myself slump as some women do.
[She puts her arms akimbo, and walks up and down on the lawn] See me, tripping on
tiptoe like a fifteen-year-old girl.
DORN. I see. Nevertheless, I shall continue my reading. [He takes up his book] Let me
see, we had come to the grain-dealer and the rats.
ARKADINA. And the rats. Go on. [She sits down] No, give me the book, it is my turn to
read. [She takes the book and looks for the place] And the rats. Ah, here it is. [She reads]
"It is as dangerous for society to attract and indulge authors as it is for grain-dealers to
raise rats in their granaries. Yet society loves authors. And so, when a woman has found
one whom she wishes to make her own, she lays siege to him by indulging and flattering
him." That may be so in France, but it certainly is not so in Russia. We do not carry out a
programme like that. With us, a woman is usually head over ears in love with an author