Armenian Literature

Part 4 out of 4

OSSEP. O dear! O dear!
[_Stands near fireplace; rests head on hand and remains motionless_.

ALEXANDER [_enter right_]. You have come, father? [_Silence--comes near
Ossep_.] Father.

OSSEP. Ah! Alexander [_offering his hand_]. Please sit down. Have you
just come?

ALEXANDER. No; I have been here a long time. I was in the garden.

OSSEP. What is the news? [_Both sit down_.

ALEXANDER. Nothing, except that I wish to have a wedding next week.

OSSEP. So soon?

ALEXANDER. Yes; my chief goes soon to Petersburg, and I want him to be
at the wedding.

OSSEP. And can't we wait till he comes back?

ALEXANDER. That would be too long.

OSSEP. Very well. As you wish.

ALEXANDER [_stammering_]. But--my dear father--

OSSEP. I understand; I understand. You want me to pay over the money at

ALEXANDER. Yes, my dear father, if it is possible.

OSSEP. I am sorry to confess that at the present moment I have no money
at hand. You must wait a little. If you wish to marry without money,
that is your affair.

ALEXANDER. You amaze me!

OSSEP. It is better for me to tell you this than to deceive you. You
know the law to some extent. Tell me, if I owe someone money on a note,
can my creditor bring action against me and put an execution on me
without having me called before the court?

ALEXANDER. Is the note attested by a notary?


ALEXANDER. He has the right to come to your house and have everything
put under seal.

OSSEP. Without first bringing me into court?

ALEXANDER. Yes, without court proceedings.

OSSEP. But if he has received on account of this debt the note of a
third person?

ALEXANDER. That is another thing. Have you a receipt for it?

OSSEP. No; but I can take my oath on it.

ALEXANDER. According to law you must first pay the money and then
produce proofs that you gave him the other document.

OSSEP [_excited_]. Is that true?

ALEXANDER. Yes, it is so.

OSSEP [_wringing his hands and springing up_]. Then I am ruined. [_A
silence. Nato's voice is heard outside_.] Alexander, they are calling

ALEXANDER [_approaching Ossep_]. What is it? For God's sake tell me the

OSSEP. There, there. Go out first. They are calling you.

ALEXANDER [_aside, taking his hat_]. So far as I see, I am ruined also.

OSSEP [_alone_]. What do I not suffer! If they really come here I shall
perish through shame. Where can I find so much money in such a hurry?
One must have time for it, and that fellow may come to-day even--perhaps
this minute. Then I am lost--who will trust me then? My creditors will
tie a rope around my neck and prevent me from saying a word in my own
behalf. "Pay us," they will cry; "pay us!" O Salome, Salome!

_Enter Gewo_.

OSSEP. There he is.

GEWO. Good-evening, Ossep.

OSSEP. You have come, too. You want your money, too? Yes, choke me;
double my debt; say that I owe you, not 2,000 rubles, but 4,000. Speak!
You are my creditor; speak! Have no pity on me. You want your money--why
do you wait, then? Slay me; tear my heart out of my body; hack me in
pieces and sell it piece by piece, so that your money shall not be lost.
[_Gewo wipes his eyes_.] Weep, weep, for your money is lost. I am

GEWO [_embracing Ossep_]. Dear Ossep, dear Ossep!

OSSEP. You say "dear" to me? Yet you are my creditor.

GEWO. Take courage; be a man!

OSSEP. What kind of a man? I am a good-for-nothing; I have lost my good
name [_weeping_]. My good name is gone. [_Wipes his eyes_.]

GEWO. God is merciful, dear Ossep.

OSSEP. God and heaven have taken their mercy from me. You see now where
the marriage of my daughter has led me? If I could at least pay you
everything I owe you--that I must do at any price.

GEWO. What are you saying, Ossep? If I had the means I would go on your
bond. Why should I be your friend otherwise?

OSSEP. If you had money, dear Gewo, you would not be my friend, nor have
such a good heart. Stay poor as you are, so that I shall not lose your
friendship. Only your sympathy is left me in this world. I would not
like to lose your friendship. In this one day I have suffered
everything. No one has shown interest in me; no one has given proof of
his sympathy--neither my uncle, nor my brother, nor my nephew. When they
saw I was near my last breath, they all forsook me and shut the door in
my face.

GEWO. Come with me; perhaps we will find help somewhere.

OSSEP. There can be no more talk of help.

GEWO. Come, come; there is still a way out.

OSSEP. What way out can there be?

GEWO. Come, come; let us not delay.

OSSEP. But tell me how is it to be managed?

GEWO. Come, come! I will tell you on the way.

OSSEP. What you say sounds very strange; tell me what it is. Speak, what
has occurred? Don't fear! Don't spare me! Whatever happens cannot be
worse than what has happened; they have already sent a bullet into my
heart, and what worse can they do to me, except tear open my breast and
take my heart out? Speak; what is it? Have they put seals on my store?

GEWO. Come and you will see.

OSSEP. They have put seals on it, then?

GEWO. I tell--

OSSEP. You are ruined, Ossep. [_Rushes to the table, seizes the box and
scatters the cards; some fall on the floor_.] Now you may play; now you
may play. [_Exit_.

GEWO. Too bad; too bad about him! [_Follows him_.


_Enter Salome, Martha, Nino, Pepel, and many well-dressed ladies,
followed by two footmen carrying candelabra and lamps, which they put on
the table_.

SALOME. Take seats, please. The cards are already here.

MARTHA. How pretty it is, isn't it? The cards are already dealt.
[_The ladies converse smilingly with one another_.

SALOME [_stepping forward and noticing the cards on the floor_].
What is this? Who can have done it?

MARTHA. Probably the cats ran over the table.

SALOME. I cannot think how it could have happened! Please sit down.

_Enter Nato and her friends_.

SALOME [_collecting the cards_]. Who can have done it? Nato, did you do

NATO. No, mamma, I did not touch them.

SALOME [_to the guests_]. Sit down, I beg.

[_All the guests sit down at the table, Nato and her friends sit on the
other side of the stage. Salome, standing, deals the cards which the
guests hand one to the other. Then they pay in the stakes to Salome,
which she lays on the table in front of her_.

_Enter Alexander_.

NATO [_going to meet Alexander_]. Alexander, why were you so long?

ALEXANDER. I was obliged to be [_leading Nato aside excitedly, and in a
whisper_:] I have something to say to you.

NATO [_in a whisper_]. What makes your hand tremble?

ALEXANDER. They have brought action against your father in the courts.

NATO. What! For what reason?

ALEXANDER. Because of debts.

NATO. Who told you so?

ALEXANDER. Your father himself.

NATO [_laughing aloud_]. Ha! ha! ha! [_Whispering_:] My father has no

ALEXANDER. Well, he told me so himself.

NATO. He was joking. Don't believe him.
[_Goes over to her friends, laughing_.

ALEXANDER. Well, I can't make it out. I am not so stupid, however. Until
I have the money in my hands I will not cross this threshold again.

SALOME. Let us begin. [_Guests begin to play_.


_Enter Chacho_.

CHACHO [_coming from left_]. Get this stuff out of the way.

SALOME. What is the matter? What has happened?

CHACHO. What was to happen? We are ruined. [_Behind the scenes are heard
threatening voices_:] "Here! Yes! No." [_Then Ossep's voice_:] "Come in,
come in."

CHACHO [_to Salome_]. Do you not hear them?

_Enter Barssegh through middle door_.

BARSSEGH. This is really splendid! I work for my daily bread, and you
illuminate your house on my money.

CHACHO [_to Salome_]. Now you have it.

SALOME [_rising_]. Are you mad? Show him out.

BARSSEGH. I will show you pretty soon who is to be shown out.

SALOME. Alexander, show this man out.

ALEXANDER [_to Barssegh_]. What do you want, sir? How can you indulge in
such insolence?

BARSSEGH. That is not your affair, sir! I demand my money. Demand yours
also if you can. You will be obliged to wait a long while for it.

CHACHO [_to Barssegh_]. Have you no conscience?

BARSSEGH. I want my money, and nothing more.

_Enter Ossep, Gewo, a sheriff and his secretary, Dartscho, and several

OSSEP [_opening the door with both hands as he enters_]. Come in! come
in! [_The others follow him_.] Play, play and laugh as much as you will
over my misfortunes!

CHACHO [_aside_]. Now it is all over with us!

SALOME. Tell me, for God's sake, the meaning of this.

OSSEP. God will judge you and me also. [_To sheriff and others:_] Come,
make your inventory, put your seals on everything--the house, the
furniture, and on the cards, too.

BARSSEGH. Make an inventory of everything.
[_The sheriff lists furniture in the background
and puts a ticket on each piece. The guests
assemble, frightened, on the left side of the

SALOME [_beating her head_]. Good heavens!

MARTHA. This is a disgrace for us as well.

CHACHO [_in a low voice to Martha_]. You at least should be silent.

OSSEP [_pointing to Barssegh_]. He has stripped me of my honor. Now you
will honor and esteem him. He will arrange for your parties. Yes, he,
the man who takes the shirt from my back and possesses himself of all my

ALEXANDER [_aside_]. I have my sister to thank for all this, who dragged
me into this house.

OSSEP [_ironically_]. Alexander, look for a dowry elsewhere, for I can
no longer give my daughter one.

ALEXANDER [_angry_]. What, you deride me as well! I don't belong to your
class, sir!

OSSEP. And has it come to this!

ALEXANDER [_taking his hat_]. I have not acquired my present dignity to
lose it through you.

OSSEP. Ha! ha! ha! His dignity!

ALEXANDER [_coming near Nato_]. I have loved you truly, Miss Nato, but I
must give you up. I am not to blame for it. Farewell.
[_Goes to the door_.

[_Barssegh laughs for joy_.

OSSEP [_approaching Salome, who stands dismayed, takes her by the arm
and points to the departing Alexander_]. There goes your official!

NATO [_standing at the left near the sofa_]. Alexander! Alexander!
[_Exit Alexander_.] Dear Alexander.
[_Sitting down on the sofa, begins to cry_.

SALOME [_in a low tone, striking her brow with both hands_].
Why doesn't the earth open and swallow me?

OSSEP [_to Salome_]. Now you are punished, are you not? [_Turning to
Barssegh_:] Take it all, now! Satisfy yourself! [_Takes off his coat_.]
Take this also! [_Throws it to Barssegh_.] Yes, take it! [_Takes his cap
from the table and throws it to Barssegh_.] Make off with this also; I
need it no longer.
[_Runs to and fro as if distracted_.

BARSSEGH [_in a low voice_]. Keep on giving!
[_Turns to sheriff and speaks softly to him_.

OSSEP [_taking up different articles from card table and throwing them
on the floor_]. Take these also! Take these also! [_Taking a lighted
candelabra and smashing it on the floor_] Stick that also down your

SEVERAL OF THE GUESTS. The poor fellow is losing his wits.
[_Nato crying; her friends comfort her. Salome faints_.

CHACHO. Ossep! My dear Ossep!

GEWO [_embracing Ossep_]. Be calm, dear Ossep. You behave like a madman.

OSSEP [_after a pause_]. Gewo, I was mad when I settled in this city.
This life is too much for me; it was not for me. I am ruined. I am a
beggar. He is to be praised who comes off better than I.

SALOME [_with her hand on her brow sinks down on the sofa, groaning
loudly_]. Ah!

GEWO. Poor Ossep!

BARSSEGH [_turns from Dartscho, to whom he has been speaking, to the
sheriff_]. What are you gazing around for, sir? Keep on with your
[_Sheriff looks at Barssegh in disgust, sits down by
card table and writes_.

MARTHA [_to the guests_]. We have nothing more to look for here.
[_Aside:_] A charming set!
[_Goes toward middle door; some ladies follow; others
stand offended_.

CHACHO [_raising her eyes_]. Would that I had died long ago, so that I
had not lived to see this unfortunate day!



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