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A monologue from the play by Anton Chekhov
NOTE: This monologue is reprinted from The Moscow Arts Theatre Series of Plays. Ed. Oliver M. Sayler. New York: Brentanos, 1922.
It was ten years ago that I met her first, at her late sister’s home. She was seventeen and I thirty-seven. Why didn’t I fall in love with her then and propose to her? It would have been so easy! And if I had, she would now be my wife.
Yes, to-night’s thunderstorm would have wakened us both. But I would have held her in my arms and whispered: “Don’t be afraid! I am here.” Oh, bewitching dream, so sweet that I smile when I think of it.
[He laughs.] God! My head reels! Why am I so old? Why won’t she understand me? I despise all that rhetoric of hers, that indolent morality, that absurd talk about the destruction of the world– [A pause.] Oh, how I have been deceived!
For years I have worshipped that miserable gout-ridden professor. Sonya and I have milked this estate dry for his sake. We have sold our butter and curds and wheat like misers, and never kept a bit for ourselves, so that we could scrape together enough pennies to send to him.
I was proud of him and his learning; I thought all his words and writings were inspired. And now? Now he has retired, and what is the grand total of his life? A blank! He is absolutely unknown, and his fame has burst like a soap-bubble.
I have been deceived; I see that now, grossly deceived.