The dining-room of SEREBRAKOFF'S house. It is night. The tapping of the
WATCHMAN'S rattle is heard in the garden. SEREBRAKOFF is dozing in an arm-chair
by an open window and HELENA is sitting beside him, also half asleep.
SEREBRAKOFF. [Rousing himself] Who is here? Is it you, Sonia?
HELENA. It is I.
SEREBRAKOFF. Oh, it is you, Nelly. This pain is intolerable.
HELENA. Your shawl has slipped down. [She wraps up his legs in the shawl] Let me
shut the window.
SEREBRAKOFF. No, leave it open; I am suffocating. I dreamt just now that my left leg
belonged to some one else, and it hurt so that I woke. I don't believe this is gout, it is
more like rheumatism. What time is it?
HELENA. Half past twelve. [A pause.]
SEREBRAKOFF. I want you to look for Batushka's works in the library to-morrow. I
think we have him.
HELENA. What is that?
SEREBRAKOFF. Look for Batushka to-morrow morning; we used to have him, I
remember. Why do I find it so hard to breathe?
HELENA. You are tired; this is the second night you have had no sleep.
SEREBRAKOFF. They say that Turgenieff got angina of the heart from gout. I am
afraid I am getting angina too. Oh, damn this horrible, accursed old age! Ever since I
have been old I have been hateful to myself, and I am sure, hateful to you all as well.
HELENA. You speak as if we were to blame for your being old.
SEREBRAKOFF. I am more hateful to you than to any one.
HELENA gets up and walks away from him, sitting down at a distance.
SEREBRAKOFF. You are quite right, of course. I am not an idiot; I can understand
you. You are young and healthy and beautiful, and longing for life, and I am an old
dotard, almost a dead man already. Don't I know it? Of course I see that it is foolish for