A country house on a terrace. In front of it a garden. In an avenue of trees, under an old
poplar, stands a table set for tea, with a samovar, etc. Some benches and chairs stand near
the table. On one of them is lying a guitar. A hammock is swung near the table. It is three
o'clock in the afternoon of a cloudy day.
MARINA, a quiet, grey-haired, little old woman, is sitting at the table knitting a stocking.
ASTROFF is walking up and down near her.
MARINA. [Pouring some tea into a glass] Take a little tea, my son.
ASTROFF. [Takes the glass from her unwillingly] Somehow, I don't seem to want any.
MARINA. Then will you have a little vodka instead?
ASTROFF. No, I don't drink vodka every day, and besides, it is too hot now. [A pause]
Tell me, nurse, how long have we known each other?
MARINA. [Thoughtfully] Let me see, how long is it? Lord--help me to remember. You
first came here, into our parts--let me think--when was it? Sonia's mother was still alive--
it was two winters before she died; that was eleven years ago--[thoughtfully] perhaps
ASTROFF. Have I changed much since then?
MARINA. Oh, yes. You were handsome and young then, and now you are an old man
and not handsome any more. You drink, too.
ASTROFF. Yes, ten years have made me another man. And why? Because I am
overworked. Nurse, I am on my feet from dawn till dusk. I know no rest; at night I
tremble under my blankets for fear of being dragged out to visit some one who is sick; I
have toiled without repose or a day's freedom since I have known you; could I help
growing old? And then, existence is tedious, anyway; it is a senseless, dirty business, this
life, and goes heavily. Every one about here is silly, and after living with them for two or
three years one grows silly oneself. It is inevitable. [Twisting his moustache] See what a
long moustache I have grown. A foolish, long moustache. Yes, I am as silly as the rest,
nurse, but not as stupid; no, I have not grown stupid. Thank God, my brain is not addled
yet, though my feelings have grown numb. I ask nothing, I need nothing, I love no one,
unless it is yourself alone. [He kisses her head] I had a nurse just like you when I was a
MARINA. Don't you want a bite of something to eat?