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A monologue from the play by Alexander Ostrovsky

NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from Plays of Alexander Ostrovsky. Ed. George Rapall Noyes. New York: Scribners, 1917.


What a pleasant occupation these dances are! Very good indeed! What could be more delightful? You go to the assembly, or to somebody’s wedding, you sit down,

naturally, all beflowered like a doll or a magazine picture. Suddenly up runs a gentleman: “May I have the happiness, miss?” Well, you see, if he’s a man of wit, or a military individual, you accept, drop your eyes a little, and answer:

“If you please, with pleasure!” Ah! [Warmly] Most fas-ci-nat-ing! Simply beyond understanding!  [Sighs] I dislike most of all dancing with students and government office clerks. But it’s the real thing to dance with army men!

Ah, charming! Ravishing! Their mustaches, and epaulets, and uniforms, and on some of them even spurs with little bits of bells. Only it’s killingly tiresome that they don’t wear a sabre.

Why do they take it off? It’s strange, plague take it! The soldiers themselves don’t understand how much more fascinatingly they’d shine! If they were to take a look at the spurs,

the way they tinkle, especially if a uhlan or some colonel or other is showing off–wonderful! It’s just splendid to look at them–lovely! And if he’d just fasten on a sabre, you’d simply never see anything more delightful,

you’d just hear rolling thunder instead of the music. Now, what comparison can there be between a soldier and a civilian? A soldier! Why, you can see right off his cleverness and everything.

But what does a civilian amount to? Just a dummy. [Silence] I wonder why it is that so many ladies sit down with their feet under their chairs. There’s positively no difficulty in learning how!

Although I was a little bashful before the teacher, I learned to do it perfectly in twenty lessons. Why not learn how to dance? It’s only a superstition not to. Here mamma sometimes gets angry because the teacher is always grabbing at my knees.

All that comes from lack of education. What of it? He’s a dancing-master and not somebody else. [Reflecting] I picture to myself: suddenly a soldier makes advances to me, suddenly a solemn betrothal,

candles burn everywhere, the butlers enter, wearing white gloves; I, naturally, in a tulle or perhaps in a gauze gown; then suddenly they begin to play a waltz–but how confused I shall be before him!

Ah, what a shame! Then where in the world shall I hide? What will he think? “Here,” he’ll say, “an uneducated little fool!” But, no, how can that be! Only, you see I haven’t danced for a year and a half! I’ll try it now at leisure. 

[Waltzing badly] One–two–three; one–two–three . . .

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