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.
VERSHININ: Yes. [Laughs] How strange everything really is! [Pause] When the fire broke out, I hurried off home; when I get there I see the house is whole, uninjured, and in no danger, but my two girls are standing by the door in just their underclothes, their mother isn’t there, the crowd is excited, horses and dogs are running about, and the girl’s faces are so agitated, terrified, beseeching, and I don’t know what else. My heart hurt me, when I saw those faces. My God, I thought, what these girls will have to put up with if they live long! I caught them up and ran, and still kept on thinking the one thing: what they will have to live through in this world! [Pause] I come here and find their mother shouting and angry. And when my girls were standing by the door in just their underclothes, and the street was red from the fire, there was a dreadful noise, and I thought that something of the sort used to happen many years ago when an enemy made a sudden attack, and looted, and burned . . . And at the same time what a difference there really is between the present and the past! And when a little more time has gone by, in two or three hundred years perhaps, people will look at our present life with just the same fear, and the same contempt, and the whole past will seem clumsy and dull, and very uncomfortable, and strange. Oh, indeed, what a life there will be, what a life. [Laughs.] Forgive me, I’ve dropped into philosophy again. Please let me continue. I do long to philosophize, I’m in just that sort of mood. [Pause] As if they are all asleep. As I was saying: what a life there will be! Only just imagine . . . There are only three persons like yourselves in the town just now, but in future generations there will be more and more, and still more, and the time will come when everything will change and become as you would have it, people will live as you do, and then you, too, will go out of date; people will be born who are better than you … [Laughs] Yes, to-day, I am in a most peculiar mood. I am devilishly keen on living … [Sings] “The power of love is known to all the world, Great good grows out of it–” [Laughs]