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 beating.
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?
IVANOFF. This is unendurable! Let me warn you, Misha, that you are going too far.
BORKIN. Well, well, excuse me. Sit here by yourself then, for heaven's sake, if it amuses you. [Gets up and goes away] What extraordinary people one meets in the world. They won't even allow themselves to be spoken to. [He comes back] Oh, yes, I nearly forgot. Please let me have eighty-two roubles.
IVANOFF. Why do you want eighty-two roubles?
BORKIN. To pay the workmen to-morrow.
IVANOFF. I haven't the money.
BORKIN. Many thanks. [Angrily] So you haven't the money! And yet the workmen must be paid, mustn't they?
IVANOFF. I don't know. Wait till my salary comes in on the first of the month.
BORKIN. How is it possible to discuss anything with a man like you? Can't you understand that the workmen are coming to-morrow morning and not on the first of the month?
IVANOFF. How can I help it? I'll be hanged if I can do anything about it now. And what do you mean by this irritating way you have of pestering me whenever I am trying to read or write or——