Savva and The Life of Man
Part 3 out of 6
_[A cautious knock is heard at the window._
LIPA _(opening the window)_
Who is there?
TONY _(to Speransky)_
Keep quiet, keep quiet.
KING FRIAR _(thrusting his smiling face through the window)_ Is Savva
Yegorovich in? I wanted to ask him to come with me to the woods.
No. Aren't you ashamed of yourself, Vassya? To-morrow is a big
feast-day in your monastery and you--
YOUNG FRIAR _(smiling)_
There are plenty of people in the monastery without me. Please tell
Mr. Savva that I have gone to the ravine to catch fireflies. Ask him
to call out: "Ho, ho!"
What do you want fireflies for?
Why, to scare the monks with. I'll put two fireflies next to each
other like eyes, and they'll think it's, the devil. Tell him, please,
to call: "Ho, ho, ho!" _(He disappears in the darkness)_
LIPA _(shouting after him)_
He can't come to-day. _(To Speransky)_ Gone already--ran off.
They buried three in the cemetery to-day, Miss Olympiada.
Have you seen Savva?
No, I am sorry to say I haven't. I say, they buried three people
to-day. One old man--perhaps you knew him--Peter Khvorostov?
Yes, I knew him. So he's dead?
Yes, and two children. The women wept a great deal.
What did they die of?
I am sorry, but I don't know. It didn't interest me. Some children's
disease, I suppose. When children die, Miss Olympiada, they turn all
blue and look as if they wanted to cry. The faces of grown people are
tranquil, but children's faces are not. Why is that so?
I don't know--I've never noticed it.
It's a very interesting phenomenon.
There's father now. I told you to go to bed. Now I've got to listen to
your brawling. I'll get out.
_(Exit. Enter Yegor Tropinin)_
Who lighted the lamp?
Good evening, Mr. Tropinin.
Good evening. Who lighted the lamp?
YEGOR _(blowing it out)_
Learned it from Savva. _(To Tony)_ And you, what's the matter with
you? How long, how long, for Christ's sake? How long am I to stand all
this from you, you good-for-nothing loafers? Eh? Where did you get the
At the bar.
It wasn't put there for you, was it?
You have a very funny face, father.
Give me the whiskey.
YEGOR _(slaps his face)_
Give it to me, I say.
TONY _(falls on the sofa, still holding on to the bottle)_
YEGOR _(sitting down, calmly)_
All right, swill until you bust, devil. What was I saying? That fool
put it out of my head. Oh yes, the pilgrims are going, it strong this
time. It's been a bad year for the crops. That's another reason, I
suppose. There's no grub, they have nothing to eat, and so they'll
pray. If God listened to every fool's prayer, we'd have a fine time of
it. If he listened to every fool, what chance would the wise man have?
A fool remains a fool. That's why he is called a fool.
I should say it is correct. Father Parfeny is a smart man. He
flim-flams them all right. He put up a new coffin--did you hear that?
The old one has all been eaten away by the pilgrims, so he put a new
one into its place. It was old, so he put a new one instead. They'll
eat that one away. No matter what you give them--Tony, are you
I am! I am! I'll hand you out another one in a moment and we'll see
what you say then.
_[Enter Savva, looking very gay and lively. He stoops less than usual,
talks rapidly, and looks sharp and straight, but his gaze does not
rest long on the same person or object._
Ah, the philosophers! Father! A worthy assemblage. Why do you keep
it so dark here, like some hell-hole with a lot of rats in it? A
philosopher has to have light. The dark is good only for going through
people's pockets. Where is the lamp? Oh, here it is. _(He lights the
Perhaps you'll open the windows too?
Quite right. I'll open the windows also. _(Opens them)_ My, how they
keep pouring in!
A whole army.
And all of them will die in time and acquire peace. And then they'll
know the truth, for it never comes except in the society of worms.
Have I got the essence of your optimistic philosophy down right, my
thin, lean friend?
SPERANSKY _(with a sigh)_
You are always joking.
And you are always moping. Look here now. What with the poor, scanty
fare the deacon's wife doles out to you and your constant grieving,
you will soon die, and then your face will assume an expression of
perfect peace. A peaked nose, and all around, stretching in every
direction, a vast expanse of peace. Can't you get some comfort out
of that? Isn't it a consolation to you? Think of it, a tiny island of
nose lapped in an ocean of peace.
You are still joking.
The idea! Who would joke about death? No, when you die, I'll follow
your funeral and proclaim to all: "Behold, here is a man who has come
to know the truth." Oh no, I'll rather hang you up as a banner of
truth. And, the more your skin and flesh decompose and crumble, the
more will the truth come out. It will be a most instructive object
lesson, highly educative. Tony, why are you staring at me?
You have a very funny face.
What are they talking about?
Father, what's the matter with your face? Have you sooted it? It looks
as black as Satan's.
YEGOR _(quickly putting his hand to his face)_
They are just making fun. There is nothing on your face, Mr. Tropinin.
The fool! Satan? You are Satan yourself, God forgive me!
SAVVA _(making a terrible face and holding up his fingers in the shape
of horns)_ I am the devil.
By God, you are the very devil himself!
SAVVA _(glancing round the room)_
Isn't the devil going to get any dinner to-day? I have had all I want
of sinners. I am surfeited with them. I should like to have something
more appetizing now.
Where were you knocking about at the regular dinner hour? You'll have
to do without dinner now.
I was with the children, father, with the children. They told me
stories. They tell stories splendidly, and they were all about devils,
witches, and the dead--your specialty, philosopher. They trembled with
fear as they told them. That's why we stayed so long. They were afraid
to go home. Misha was the only one who wasn't scared. He is a brick.
He's afraid of nothing.
What of it? He'll die too.
My dear sir, don't be so funereal. You are like an undertakers' trust.
Don't be forever croaking: "Die, die, die." Here, take my father,
for instance. He'll soon die; but look at his face, how pleasant and
cheerful it is.
Satan! You're the devil incarnate!
But since we don't know--
My good friend, life is such an interesting business. You
understand--life. Come, let's have a game of jackstones to-morrow.
I'll provide the jacks, first-class jacks. _(Enter Lipa, unnoticed)_
And then you should take gymnastic exercises. I mean it seriously. See
how sunken your chest is. You'll choke of consumption in a year or so.
The deaconess will be glad, but it will create consternation among
the dead. Seriously now. I have taken gymnastic exercises. Look. _(He
lifts a heavy chair easily by the leg)_ There, you see!
LIPA _(laughing aloud)_
Ha, ha, ha!
SAVVA _(putting the chair down, with a touch of embarrassment)_
What's the matter? I didn't know you were here.
You, ought to join the circus as an acrobat.
Don't talk nonsense.
Are you offended?
SAVVA _(suddenly bursting into a good-natured, merry laugh)_ Oh, a
trifle! All right, the circus, why not? We'll both join it, Speransky
and I. Not as acrobats though, but as clowns. How about it? Can you
swallow hot junk? No? Well, I'll teach you. As for you, Lipa, won't
you please let me have something to eat? I haven't had anything since
A regular Satan, a regular Satan! Hasn't had anything to eat! Who has
ever heard of eating at this hour of the night? Who has ever seen such
I'll give you a chance to see it now. It's very interesting. Wait,
I'll teach you also how to swallow hot junk. I'll make you an expert.
You'll be a wonder.
Me? Fool, you can't teach me anything any more. Tony, give me the
The devil take you all! Brought up and fed a lot of--_(Exit)_
LIPA _(handing him milk and dark bread)_
You seem to be happy to-night?
Yes, I am, and you are happy too.
And I am happy. _(He drinks the milk with avidity; the footsteps in
the street grow louder, filing the room with their sound, and then die
away again)_ What a treading and a tramping!
LIPA _(looking out of the window)_
The weather will be fine to-morrow. As long as I can remember the sun
has always been shining brightly that way.
Hm, yes. That's good.
And when they carry the ikon, it sparkles all over with the precious
stones like fire. Only His face remains gloomy. All the gems don't
give him any pleasure. He is sad and gloomy like the people's woe.
Hm, yes. Is that so?
Just think how many tears have fallen upon Him, how many sighs and
groans He has heard! That alone is enough to make the ikon holy for
all who love and sympathize with the people and understand their soul.
Why, they have nobody except Christ, all those unfortunate, miserable
people. When I was a little girl, I was always waiting for a miracle--
It would be interesting.
But now I understand that He Himself is waiting for a miracle from
the people. He is waiting for the people to stop fighting, hating, and
destroying each other.
Well, what of it?
LIPA _(fixing her gaze upon him)_
Nothing. To-morrow you'll see for yourself when they carry Him in the
procession. You'll see what effect the mere consciousness that He is
there with them has upon them, how it transforms them, what it does
to them. The whole year round they live a dog's life, in filth,
quarrelling with each other, suffering. On that day all the ugliness
seems to vanish. It is an awful and a joyous day when suddenly you
cast away from yourself all that is superfluous and when you feel so
clearly your nearness to all the unfortunates that are and ever were,
and your nearness to God.
What time is it?
The clock has just struck a quarter past eleven, if I am not mistaken.
It's still early.
Early for what?
Nothing. It's still early, that's all.
What do you mean?
What I mean.
Why did you say it's still early?
Because it's only a little after eleven; but when it's twelve--
SAVVA _(jumping up and going to her quickly; fixing her with his
stare, he speaks slowly, pronouncing every word separately and
distinctly)_ So? Is that it? When it's twelve--_(He turns to Speransky
without removing his eyes from Lipa)_ Listen, you go home.
No, stay, Mr. Speransky. Please stay, I beg you.
If you don't go at once, I'll throw you out of the window. Well?
Excuse me, I never had the faintest idea--I was here with Mr. Anthony
Tropinin. I am going instantly. Where is my hat? I put it here
There's your hat. _(Throws it to him)_
Stay here awhile longer, Mr. Speransky. Sit down.
No, it's late. I must go to bed. Good night, Miss Olympiada. Good
night, Mr. Tropinin. Your brother is asleep already, I believe. You
ought to take him to bed. I'm going, I'm going. _(Exit)_
SAVVA _(speaking in a quiet, calm tone; his movements are heavy and
slow, as if his body had suddenly stiffened)_ You know it?
You know all?
Did the monk tell you?
LIPA _(drawing back a little, and raising her hand for
protection)_-Well, nothing will happen. There'll be no blowing up. You
understand, Savva, there'll be no explosion.
_[Pause. Footsteps are heard in the street, and indistinct talking.
Savva turns around. Stooping more than usually, he takes a turn around
the room with peculiar slowness._
Then you had better believe me, brother. Believe me.
Why that was--I don't know what it was--it was a piece of madness.
Think it over.
Is it really true?
Yes, it's true. It's all over. You can't help it any more. There is
nothing for you to do.
Tell me how it happened. _(Sits down deliberately, his eyes fixed on
I guessed a little something long ago--that day when you spoke to
me--only I didn't know exactly what it was. And I saw the little
machine too. I have another key to the trunk.
Evidently you have been cut out for a spy. Go on!
I am not afraid of insults.
Never mind, never mind--go on.
Then I saw that you had frequent talks with that fellow--Kondraty.
Yesterday I looked in the trunk again, and the machine wasn't there.
So I understood.
You say you have another key?
Yes. The trunk is mine, you know. Well, and to-day--
Toward evening--I couldn't find Kondraty anywhere--I told him that I
knew all. He got very much frightened and told me the rest.
A worthy pair--spy and traitor.
If you are going to insult me, I won't say another word.
Never mind, never mind--go on.
He was going to tell the Father Superior, but I didn't let him. I
didn't want to ruin you.
When it was, all over, I understood what a crazy scheme it was--so
crazy that I simply can't think of it as real. It must have been a
nightmare. It's quite impossible. And I began to feel sorry for you--
I am sorry for you now too. _(With tears)_ Savva, darling, you are my
brother. I have rocked your cradle. My dear angel, what idea is this
you have got into your mind? Why, it's terrible--it's madness. I
understand how hard it must be for you to see how people live, and so
you have resolved on a desperate deed. You have always been good and
kind, and so I can understand you. Don't you think it's hard for me to
see this life? Don't you think I suffer myself? Give me your hand.
SAVVA _(pushing her hand away)_
He told you he would go to the Superior?
But I didn't let him.
Has he got the machine?
He'll give it back to you to-morrow. He was afraid to give it to me.
Savva dear, don't look at me like that. I know it's unpleasant for
you, but you have a lot of common sense. You can't help seeing that
what you wanted to do was an absurdity, a piece of lunacy, a vagary
that can come to one only in one's dreams at night. Don't I understand
that life is hard? Am I not suffering from it myself? I understand
even your comrades, the anarchists. It's not right to kill anybody;
but still I understand them. They kill the bad.
They are not my comrades. I have no comrades.
Aren't you an anarchist?
What are you then?
TONY _(raising his head)_
They are going, they are going. Do you hear?
SAVVA _(quietly, but ominously)_
They are going.
There, you see. Who is going? Think of it. It's human misery that's
going. And you wanted to take away from them their last hope, their
last consolation. And to what purpose? In the name of what? In the
name of some wild, ghastly dream about a "naked earth." _(Peers with
terror into the darkness of the room)_ A naked earth! It's terrible
to think of it. A naked earth! How could a man, a human being, ever
conceive such an idea? A naked earth! Nothing, nothing! Everything
laid bare, everything annihilated. Everything that people worked for
through all the years; everything they have created with so much toil,
with so much pain. Unhappy people! There is among you a man who says
that all this must be burned, must be consumed with fire.
You remember my words to perfection.
You awakened me, Savva. When you told me all that, my eyes were
suddenly opened, and I began to love everything. Do you understand? I
began to love it all. These walls--formerly I didn't notice them;
now I am sorry for them--so sorry, I could cry. And the books and
everything--each brick, each piece of wood to which man has applied
his labor. Let's admit that it's poor stuff. Who says it's good? But
that's why I love it--for its defects, its imperfections, its crooked
lines, its unfulfilled hopes. For the labor and the tears. And all who
hear you talking, Savva, will feel as I do, and will begin to love all
that is old and dear and human.
I have nothing to do with you.
Nothing to do with us? With whom then have you to do? No, Savva, you
don't love anyone. You love only yourself and your dreams. He who
loves men will not take away from them all they have. He will not
regard his own wishes more than their lives. Destroy everything!
Destroy Golgotha! Consider: _(with terror)_ destroy Golgotha! The
brightest, the most glorious hope that ever was on earth! All right,
you don't believe in Christ. But if you have a single drop of nobility
in your nature, you must respect and honor His noble memory. He was
also unhappy. He was crucified--crucified, Savva. You are silent? Have
you nothing to say?
I thought--I thought--if you succeeded in carrying out your plot--I
thought I'd kill you--that I'd poison you like some noxious beast.
And if I don't succeed--
You are still hoping?
And if I don't succeed, I'll kill you.
LIPA _(advancing a step toward him)_
Kill me! Kill me! Give me a chance to suffer for the sake of Christ.
For the sake of Christ and for the sake of the people.
Yes. I'll kill you.
Do you suppose I didn't think of it? Do you suppose I didn't think of
it? Oh, Lord, to suffer for Thee! Is there higher happiness than that?
SAVVA _(with a contemptuous gesture, pointing at Lipa)_
And that's a human being! That's one counted among the best! That's
the kind in which they take pride! Ah me, how poor you are in good
Insult! Mock! That's the way it has always been. They have always
heaped insults upon us before they killed us.
No, I don't mean to insult you. How can I insult you? You are simply
a silly woman. There have been many such in the past. There are many
such to-day. You are simply a foolish, insignificant creature. You are
even innocent, like all insignificant persons. And if I mean to kill
you, there is no reason to be proud of it. Don't think you are an
object specially worthy of my indignation. No, it would merely make
matters a little easier for me. When I was chopping wood, and the axe
in my raised arm struck the threshold instead of the log of wood, the
jar was not so hard as if someone had arrested the motion of my arm. A
raised hand must fall on something.
And to think that this beast is my brother!
Whose cradle you rocked and whose diapers you changed. Yes. But to me
it doesn't seem in the least strange that you are my sister, or that
this bundle there is my brother. No, Tony! They are going. _(Tony
turns his head and stares stupidly without making any answer)_ And it
doesn't seem in the least strange to me that any insignificant chit
and piece of nothingness calling itself my brother or my sister should
go to the chemist's and buy a nickel's worth of arsenic on finding out
who I am. You see, they have even attempted to poison me. The girl who
left me tried to do it, but she lost her nerve. The point is that my
sisters and brothers, among other things, have the characteristic of
I would have done it.
I don't doubt it. You are a little hysterical, and hysterical people
are determined, unless they happen to burst into tears first.
I hysterical? All right, have it your way, have it your way. And who
are you, Savva?
That doesn't interest me.
They are going, they are going. And they will find what they need. And
that is the work of an hysterical woman. Do you hear how many of them
there are? And if they found out--if I were to open the window
this minute and cry out: "This man here has tried to destroy your
Christ"--If you want it, I'll do it this instant. You need only say
so. Shall I? _(She takes a step toward the window in a frenzy of rage)_
Yes, it's a good way of escaping the crown of thorns. Go ahead, shout.
But look out, don't knock Tony down.
LIPA _(turning back)_
I am sorry for you. You are beaten, and one doesn't like to kick a
man who is down. But remember, remember, Savva, there are thousands,
thousands of them coming in, and each one is your death!
The tramp of death.
Remember that each one of these would consider himself happy in
killing you, in crushing you like a reptile. Each one of these is your
death. Why, they beat a simple thief to death, a horse thief. What
would they not do to you! You who wanted to steal their God.
Quite true. That's property too.
You still have the brazenness to joke? Who gave you the right to do
such a thing? Who gave you power over people? How dare you meddle with
what to them is right? How dare you interfere with their life?
Who gave me the right? You gave it to me. Who gave me the power? You
gave it to me. And I will cling to it with grim determination. Try
to take it from me. You gave it to me--you with your malice, your
ignorance, your stupidity! You with your wretched impotence! Right!
Power! They have turned the earth into a sewer, an outrage, an abode
of slaves. They worry each other, they torture each other, and they
ask: "Who dares to take us by the throat?" I! Do you understand? I!
You are a mere man like everybody else.
I am the avenger! Behind me follow in pursuit all those whom you
stifled and crushed. Ah, they have been pursuing their wicked trade in
all quietness, thinking that no one would discover them--thinking
that they would get away with it in the end. They have been lying,
grovelling, and sneaking. They have been cringing and abusing
themselves before their altars and their impotent God, saying: "There
is nothing to be afraid of--we are among ourselves." Then comes a man
who says: "An accounting--I want an accounting! What have you done?
Out with it. Give me an accounting. Go on now! Don't try to cheat, for
I know you. I demand an account for each and every single item. I
will not condone a single drop of blood, I will not absolve you from a
But to destroy all. Think of it!
What could you do with them? What would _you_ do? Try to persuade the
oxen to turn away from their bovine path? Catch each one by his horns
and pull him away? Would you put on a frock-coat and read a lecture?
Haven't they had plenty to teach them? As if words and thoughts had
any significance to them! Thought--pure, unhappy thought! They have
perverted it. They have taught it to cheat and defraud. They have made
it a saleable commodity to be bought at auction in the market. No,
sister, life is short and I am not going to waste it in arguments
with oxen. The way to deal with them is by fire. That's what they
require--fire! Let them remember long the day on which Savva Tropinin
came to the earth!
But what do you want? What do you want?
What do I want? To free the earth, to free mankind, to sweep the
whole two-legged, chattering tribe out of existence. Man--the man of
to-day--is wise. He has come to his senses. He is ripe for liberty.
But the past eats away his soul like a canker. It imprisons him within
the iron circle of things already accomplished, within the iron circle
of facts. I want to demolish the facts--that's what I want to
do: demolish all facts! To sweep away all the accumulated
rubbish--literature, art, God. They have perverted mankind. They have
immortalized stupidity. I want to do away with everything behind man,
so that there is nothing to see when he looks back. I want to take him
by the scruff of his neck and turn his face toward the future.
Look here, Savva. You are not immortal, and the two-legged animal has
Do you think I don't know that every one of these stupid asses would
be glad to kill me? But it won't happen, it won't happen. The time has
come for my arrival, and I have arrived. Prepare yourselves. The time
has come. You little insignificant thing there--you thought that by
stealing one little possibility away from me you could rob me of all?
Oh no--I am as rich as ever.
I am your sister, but oh! how glad I am that you are not immortal.
I see that you are a thoroughgoing anarchist. They too think that all
is done if one man is killed. But if they kill me, hang me, break me
on the wheel, there will come another purer than I. Where there's an
itch, there is always somebody to scratch it! Yes, sister! If not I,
then someone else, and _(clenching his fist)_ it will fare ill with
You are a terrible man. I thought you would be crushed by your
failure, but you are like Satan. The fall has only made you blacker.
Yes, Lipa, only a sparrow can fly straight up from the ground. A
large bird must descend to adjust and spread its wings for its upward
Aren't you sorry for the children? Think of the number of children
that will have to perish.
What children? Oh yes, Misha. _(Tenderly)_ Misha is a fine boy,
that's true. When he grows up, he will show you no mercy. Yes, the
children--You are beginning to be afraid of them, and you have good
reason for it. Never mind. It's true that I love children. _(With
pride)_ And they love me. But they don't care for you.
I don't play jackstones with them.
How silly you are, sister. But I like to play with them.
Then go ahead and play.
Well, I _will_ play.
When you talk like that I have the feeling once more that it has all
been a dream--all that we were saying just now. Is it really true that
you want to kill me?
Yes, if it must be done. But perhaps it won't be necessary.
You are joking!
Every one of you will have it that I am joking. You keep constantly
telling me so. You seem to have utterly lost the sense for what is
No, it's not a dream. They are going.
Yes, they are going. _(Both listen)_
You still seem to believe. What do you believe?
I believe in my destiny. _(The hour begins to strike in the belfry of
the monastery)_ Twelve.
Seven--eight--and to think that this is the hour when it should have
happened--the very idea of it--_(A muffled report as of a powerful
explosion is heard)_ What was that?
Yes, what was it?
_[Both rush to the window, waking Tony, who moves his head sleepily.
The tread of the footsteps in the street stops momentarily. Then
all begin to run. Frightened cries are heard, weeping, loud, abrupt
ejaculations of "What's the matter?" "Oh, Lord!" "Fire, fire!" "No,
something has fallen down!" "Let's run!" The word "monastery" is
They are running! Where are they running to? Why is nobody here?
PELAGUEYA _(entering the room, half dressed)_
Oh, Lord! Oh, heavens! Is it possible the monastery is on fire! Good
gracious! Heavens! And you here, you drunken sot! You monster!
Oho! They are running? Faces, mugs, eh?
_[The bell begins to toll the alarm. Then the strokes follow each
other in more rapid succession; hasty, disquieting, uneven, they blend
with the noise of the street and seem to creep through the window._
Good God, I don't know where to turn.
_[She runs out. The cries in the street grow louder. Someone yells
in one prolonged note "Oh-oh-oh!" until the sound is drowned in the
general noise, excitement, and ringing._
LIPA _(moving away from the window, very pale, stupefied)_ What does
it mean? It cannot be. It is impossible. Tony, Tony, get up. Tony,
brother, what does it mean? Tony!
It's nothing. They are all faces.
SAVVA _(leaving the window, calm and stern, but also pale)_ Well,
LIPA _(flinging herself about the room)_
I want to run with the rest. I'll run. Where is my scarf? Where is my
scarf? My God, My God! Where is my scarf?
Your scarf? There it is. But I won't give it to you. Sit down; you
have nothing to do there.
Let me have it.
No, sit down, sit down. It's too late now anyway.
Yes, too late. Don't you hear the noise the crowd is making and the
way they are running and pushing?
I'll run, I'll run.
Keep still--sit down. _(Forces her to sit down)_ Tony, did you hear?
They've exploded God.
TONY _(looking at Savva's face in terror)_
Savva, don't make me laugh. Turn your face away.
_[Savva smiles and walks around the room with buoyant step, without
his usual stoop._
What is it? Speak louder.
Is it, really true?
And doesn't He really exist?
He does not.
_[Lipa begins to cry, at first low, then more and more loudly. The
sound of the ringing bells and the noise of the crowd continue to
swell. The rolling and clatter of wagons is also heard._
They are running. My, how they are running! _(Lipa says something, but
her words are inaudible)_ Louder. I can't hear you. My, how they are
Kill, me, Savva.
Why? You'll die anyhow.
I can't wait. I'll kill myself.
Go ahead, kill yourself, kill yourself quick!
_[Lipa cries, burying her head in the armchair Tony, his face
distorted with fear, looks at Savva, holding both his hands in
readiness at his mouth. Loud peals of the bell. The disquieting sound
blends with the loud tone of Savva's speech._
Ah! They are ringing. Ring on! Ring on! Soon the whole earth will
ring. I hear! I hear! I see your cities burning! I see the flames. I
hear the crackling. I see the houses tumbling on your heads. There
is no place to run to. No refuge! No refuge! Fire everywhere. The
churches are burning. The factories are burning. The boilers are
bursting. An end to all slavish toil!
TONY _(trembling with fear)_
Savva, shut up, or I am going to laugh.
The time has come! The time has come! Do you hear? The earth is
casting you out. There is no place for you on earth. No! He is coming!
I see him! He is coming, the free man! He is being born in the flames!
He himself is fire and resolution! An end to the earth of slaves!
Savva, shut up!
SAVVA _(bending down to Tony)_
Be prepared! He is coming! Do you hear his tread? He is coming! He is
THE FOURTH ACT
_Near the monastery. A broad road crosses the stage obliquely. On the
far side of the road is the river, beyond which opens a wide prospect
of the surrounding country--meadows, woods, and villages, with the
crosses of the churches burning in the sun. In the distance, at the
right, where the mountain projects over a glistening bend of the
river, is seen a part of the walls and the towers of the monastery. On
the near side of the road is a hilly elevation covered with trampled
grass. It is between five and six in the morning. The sun is out. The
mist over the meadow is scattering slowly.
Now and then a pilgrim or group of pilgrims may be seen hurrying by
on their way to the monastery. Wagons carrying cripples and other
monstrosities pass along the road. The noise of thousands may be
heard from the monastery. The crowd is evidently moved by some joyous
emotion. No individual voices are heard, but it is as if one could
feel the singing of the blind, the cries, and the quick, glad snatches
of conversation. The general effect is that of an elemental force.
The noise decreases at regular intervals, like a wave, and then the
singing of the blind becomes distinctly audible.
Lipa and the Young Friar appear on the near side of the road: Lipa is
sitting on the hillock, dressed as she was the night before, but her
head is covered with a white scarf carelessly tied. She is exhausted
with joy and almost dropping off to sleep. The Friar stands near
her. On his face there is a troubled, vacant look. His movements are
irresolute and aimless. He tries to smile, but his smile is twisted
and pitiful. He is like a child who feels hurt without knowing the
LIPA _(untying her scarf)_
Heavens, but this is splendid! I should like to die here. I can't get
enough of it. Oh, it's splendid, it's splendid!
FRIAR _(looking around)_
Yes, it is splendid. But I can't stand it in there. I can't. They push
and jostle and press and jam. They crushed the life out of one woman,
absolutely crushed her. She had a child with her. I couldn't look at
it. I--I'll go to the woods.
How splendid! Oh, Lord!
FRIAR _(looking dejectedly into the distance)_
I'll go to the woods.
And to think that only yesterday everything was just as usual. There
was nothing of all this, no miracle, nothing. There was only Savva--I
can't believe it was yesterday. It seems to me a whole year has
passed, a century. Oh, Lord!
FRIAR _(his face clouding)_
Why did he do it? Why?
Can't you guess, Vassya?
FRIAR _(waving his hand)_
I asked him to come to the woods with me. He should have come.
Did he tell you anything?
FRIAR _(waving his hand)_
He should have come. Yes, he should have come.
Ah, Vassya, Vassya, on account of your woods you missed one of the
greatest events that ever happened--so great, in fact, that no man
remembers the like of it. Ah, Vassya, how can you be speaking about
anything else when right now, right here--right here--a miracle has
happened. Do you understand? A miracle! The very mention of it fills
one with awe. A miracle! Oh, God! Where were you, Vassya, when the
explosion occurred? In the woods?
Yes, in the woods. I didn't hear the explosion. I only heard the
ringing of the alarm bell.
Nothing. I ran back and found the gate open and everybody crying like
mad. And the ikon--
Well, well? Did you see?
Yes, it was in the same place as before. And all around--_(Growing
animated)_ You know the iron grating over there--you know it, don't
you? It was twisted like a rope. It's funny to look at. It looks like
something soft. I touched it, and it wasn't soft, of course. What
power! It must have been something tremendous.
Well, and what about the ikon--the ikon?
What about it? Nothing. It's there in its place, and our people are
praying to it.
Oh, Lord! And the glass is whole too?
The glass is whole too.
That's what they told me, but I can't believe it yet. Forgive me, O
Lord! Well, what are they doing? They are overjoyed, I suppose.
Yes, they are overjoyed. They act as if they were drunk. You can't
make out what they are saying. A miracle, a miracle. Father Kirill
keeps grunting like a pig "Oui, oui, oui." They put cold compresses on
his head. He is fat, and he may pass out any moment. No, I can't stand
it here. Come, let us go. I'll take you home, Miss Olympiada.
No, Vassya dear, I'll go in there.
Don't go, for heaven's sake. They'll crush you, as they did that
woman. They are all like drunk. They are carrying on and shouting like
mad, with their eyes wide open. Listen. Can't you hear them?
You are still a boy, Vassya. You don't understand. Why, it's a
miracle. All their lives these people have been waiting for a miracle.
Perhaps they had already begun to despair, and now--O Lord! It's
enough to make you mad with joy. Yesterday, when I heard the cry of "a
miracle," I thought: "No, it's impossible. How could it happen?" But
then I saw them crying, crossing themselves, and going down on their
knees. And the ringing of the alarm bell stopped.
Oh, it was Afanassy who rang. He's terribly strong, a regular giant.
And the only thing heard was "A miracle, a miracle!" No one spoke, and
yet one kept hearing "A miracle, a miracle," as if the whole earth
had become articulate. And even now, when I close my eyes, I hear
"A miracle, a miracle!" _(She closes her eyes and listens with an
ecstatic smile)_ How splendid!
I am sorry for Mr. Savva. Listen to the noise they are making.
Oh, don't talk about him. He'll have to answer to God. Are they going
to sing "Christ is arisen" instead of the usual hymn when they carry
the ikon in the procession to-day? Vassya, do you hear? I am asking
you a question.
Yes, they say that they are. Go home, Miss Olympiada, won't you?
You can go, if you like.
But how can I leave you alone? They'll come tearing down here soon.
For heaven's sake, there is Mr. Savva!
_[Savva comes in hatless. His face is dark and stormy. There are lines
under his eyes. He looks sideways with a steady stare. Frequently he
glances around and seems to be listening to something. His gait is
heavy, but quick. Noticing Lipa and the Friar, he turns and walks
toward them. At his approach Lipa rises and turns away._
Have you seen Kondraty?
No, he is in the monastery.
_[Savva remains standing in silence. The noise in the monastery has
subsided and the sad, pitiful singing of the blind is heard._
Have you got a cigarette?
No, I don't smoke. _(Plaintively)_ Come to the woods, Mr. Savva.
_(Savva remains immovable and silent)_ They'll kill you, Mr. Tropinin.
Come to the woods--please come! _(Savva looks fixedly at him, then
silently turns and walks away)_ Mr. Tropinin, on my word you had
better come with me to the woods.
Leave him alone. He is like Cain. He can't find a place on the earth.
Everybody is rejoicing, and he--
His face is black. I am sorry for him.
He is black all through. You had better keep away from him, Vassya.
You don't know whom you are pitying. You are too young. I am his
sister. I love him, but if he is killed, it will be a benefit to the
whole world. You don't know what he wanted to do. The very thought of
it is terrible. He is a madman, Vassya, a fearful lunatic. Or else he
is--I don't know what.
FRIAR _(waving his hand)_
You needn't tell me all that. I know. Of course I know. Don't I see?
But I am sorry for him all the same, and I am disgusted too. Why did
he do it? Why? What stupid things people will do! Oh, my!
I have only one hope--that he has understood at last. But if--
Well, what's the "if"?
Oh, nothing, but--When he came here, it was as if a cloud had passed
across the sun.
There you go also! You should be happy--Why don't you rejoice? Don't
be "iffing" and "butting."
_[A crowd begins to collect gradually. Two wagons with cripples stop
on the road. A paralytic has been sitting for some time under a tree,
crying and blowing his nose and wiping it with his sleeve. A Man in
Peasant Overcoat appears from the direction of the monastery._
MAN IN OVERCOAT _(officiously)_
We must get the cripples over to Him, to the ikon--we must get them
over there. What's the matter, women, are you asleep? Come on, move
along. You'll get your rest over there. What's the matter with you,
gran'pa? Why aren't you moving along? You ought to be there with your
legs. Go on, old man, go on.
I can't walk.
MAN IN OVERCOAT _(fussily)_
Oh, that's it? That's what's the matter with you, eh? Come, I'll give
you a lift. Get up.
Won't his legs work? What you want to do is to put him on his feet,
and then he'll hop away by himself. Isn't that right, old man?
MAN IN OVERCOAT
You take hold of him on that side, and I'll take this one. Well, old
man, get a move on you. You won't have to suffer long now.
There he goes hop, hop. That's right. Go it, go it, old man, and you
won't get left. _(He goes away)_
FRIAR _(smiling happily)_
They started him going all right. Clever, isn't it? He is galloping
away at a great rate too. Good-bye, old gran'pa.
What's the matter? Don't cry, for pity's sake. What are you crying
for? There is no cause for crying.
No cause do you say, Vassya? I am crying for joy. Why aren't you glad,
Vassya? Don't you believe in the miracle?
Yes, I do. But I can't bear to see all this. They all behave like
drunks, and shout and make a noise. You can't understand what they are
talking about. They crushed that woman. _(With pain and disgust)_ They
squeezed the life out of her. Oh, Lord, I simply can't! And the whole
business. Father Kirill keeps grunting "Oui, oui, oui." _(Laughs
sadly)_ Why is he grunting?
You learned that from Savva.
No, I didn't. Tell me, why is he grunting? _(Laughs sadly)_ Why?
_[Yegor Tropinin enters dressed in holiday attire, his beard and hair
combed. He looks extremely solemn and stern._
Why are you here, eh? And in that kind of dress? You're a fine sight.
I had no time to get dressed.
But you found time to get here. What you have no business to do you
have time for, but what you should do you have no time for. Go home
and get dressed. It isn't proper. Who has ever seen such a thing?
There is nothing to "oh" about. It's all right, papa is papa, but you
see I am properly dressed. I dressed and then went out. That's the
right way to do. Yes. It's a pleasure to look at myself sideways. I
dressed as was proper, yes. On a day like this you ought to give a
hand at the counter. Tony has disappeared, and Polya can't do all the
work herself. You needn't be making such a face now.
MERCHANT _(passing by)_
Congratulate you on the miracle, Mr. Tropinin!
Thank you, brother, the same to you. Wait, I'll go with you. You are a
goose, Olympiada. You have always been a goose, and you have remained
a goose to this day.
You'll have a fine trade now.
If it please the Lord! Why are you so late? Have you been sleeping?
You keep sleeping, all of you, all the time. _(They go out)_
I scattered all the fireflies I caught on the road when I ran last
night. And now the crowd has trampled them down. I wish I had left
them in the woods. Listen to the way they are shouting. I wonder
what's the matter. They must have squeezed somebody to death again.
LIPA _(closing her eyes)_
When you talk, Vassya, your words seem to pass by me. I hear and I
don't hear. I think I should like to stay this way all my life without
moving from the spot. I should like to remain forever with my
eyes shut, listening to what is going on within me. Oh, Lord! What
happiness! Do you understand, Vassya?
Yes, I understand.
No. Do you understand what it is that has happened to-day? Why, it
means that God has said--God Himself has said: "Wait and do not fear.
You are miserable. Never mind, it's nothing, it's only temporary. You
must wait. Nothing has to be destroyed. You must work and wait." Oh,
it will come, Vassya, it will come. I feel it now, I know it.
What will come?
Life, Vassya, real life will come. Oh, mercy! I still feel like crying
for joy. Don't be afraid.
_[Speransky and Tony enter, the latter very gloomy, glancing sideways
and sighing. In a queer way he sometimes recalls Savva his gait and
Good morning, Miss Olympiada. Good morning, Vassya. What an
extraordinary event, if we are to believe what people say.
Believe, Mr. Speransky, believe.
You judge in a very simple offhand manner. If, however, you take into
consideration the fact that it is highly probable that nothing exists,
that even we ourselves do not exist--
Why? There is no miracle for me, Miss Olympiada. If at this moment,
for example, everything on this earth were suddenly to be suspended in
the air, I shouldn't regard it as a miracle.
As what then? You're a very peculiar man.
I should look on it simply as a change. It was first one thing and
then it became another. If you wish, I'll admit that for me the very
fact that things are as they are is in itself a miracle. All are glad
and rejoicing but I sit and think: "Time is blinking his eyes now, and
there is a change. The old people are dead, and in their places appear
the young. And they are apparently glad and rejoicing too."
Where is Savva?
Why do you want him?
He has been looking for Mr. Savva ever so long. We have looked
everywhere, but have not been able to find him.
He was here awhile ago.
Where did he go?
To the monastery, I think.
TONY _(pulling Speransky)_
Good-bye, Miss Olympiada. How they are shouting over there! The time
will come when they will all be silent. _(They go off)_
Why are they looking for Mr. Savva?
I don't know.
I don't like that seminarist. Always nosing about where there are dead
around. What does he want? He is a dreadfully disagreeable fellow.
Never misses a funeral. He smells death miles away.
He is an unhappy creature.
Unhappy? Why is he unhappy? Even the dogs in the village are afraid
of him. You don't believe it? It's so, upon my word! They bark at him,
and then slink away behind the gate.
What does all this matter anyway, Vassya? It's of no account, mere
trifles. To-day they are going to sing: "Christ is arisen from the
dead. Death has conquered death." Do you understand? "Death has
I understand. I understand. But why does he say "All will become
silent" and that sort of stuff? I don't like it, I don't like it.
They have crushed a woman to death--perhaps others too. _(Shaking his
head)_ I don't like it. In the woods everything is so quiet and nice,
and here--I'd prefer that no miracle had happened. I'd rather have
things nice and pleasant. What's the use of it? What's the use of the
miracle? There is no need of a miracle.
What are you talking about, Vassya?
Savva Tropinin! The idea. It shouldn't have been done. There was no
need of it. He said he'd go with me to the woods and then--I liked him
a lot, but now I am afraid of him. Why did he do it? Why? My, what a
fearful crowd! More cripples coming, and more and more.
What is the matter, Vassya? What are you so excited about?
Everything was so nice and fine. Oh, my! Why _don't_ you go home, Miss
Olympiada? Do go, please. You have seen all there is to be seen. It's
enough. What can you gain by staying here? Come, I'll go with you. Oh,
God, there comes Mr. Savva again!
There he is. For heaven's sake!
SAVVA _(enters and sits down)_
Has Kondraty been here?
No, Mr. Savva.
_[Pause. Again the piteous singing of the blind can be heard._
Got a cigarette, Vassya?
No, I haven't. I don't smoke.
What are you waiting for, Savva? Go away. You are not wanted here.
Look at yourself. You are a terrible sight. Your face is black.
I didn't sleep all last night. That's why it's black.
What are you waiting for?
For an explanation.
You don't believe in the miracle?
Vassya, do you believe in the miracle?
Yes, of course I do, Mr. Savva.
Wait. You'll find out. What are they doing down there? They have
already crushed three to death.
And they'll kill many more. And they all keep shouting: "A miracle,
a miracle!" At last it has come. They have got what they have been
waiting for at last.
And it's you, Savva, who gave them the miracle. It's you who are to be
thanked for it.
Well, Vassya, the monks are glad, aren't they? Tell me, don't be
They are very glad, Mr. Savva. They are crying.
SAVVA _(looking at him)_
_Crying?_ Why are they crying?
I don't know. I suppose for joy. Father Kirill grunts like a pig "Oui,
oui, oui." They all act as if they were drunk.
SAVVA _(rising, agitated)_
As if they were drunk? What does that mean? Perhaps they really are
Oh no, Mr. Tropinin. It's all on account of the miracle. They are mad
with joy. Father Kirill keeps grunting "Oui, oui, oui." He vows that
if he remains alive he'll swear off liquor and live as a hermit.
SAVVA _(eyeing him)_
What do they say?
They say they'll do penance and stop sinning. They hug each other and
behave as if they were drunk.
SAVVA _(walking up and down, stroking his forehead with his hand)_
Yes, hm. So that's the way! Yes.
LIPA _(following him with her eyes)_
Go away from here, Savva. You are not wanted here.
They may recognize you and then--Why don't you put on a hat at least?
You look like--
Yes, go--please go--dear Mr. Savva. Why, they--why, they might kill
SAVVA _(in a sudden outburst of anger)_
Leave me alone! No one will kill me. It's bosh! _(Pause. Sits down)_
I wish I could get a drink of water or something. I am very thirsty.
Isn't there a pool or something of the kind around here?
FRIAR _(looking in terror at Savva)_
No, it's all dried up.
Oh, that woman there has a jug of water. _(Gleefully)_ I'll go and ask
her for it. _(Runs)_
You ought not to have that water. Go away from here, Savva, go away.
Look what gladness there is all around you. Everybody, everything
rejoices. The earth is glad. The sun is glad. You are the only one who
is not--you alone. I still can't forget that you are my brother. Go.
But wherever you go, bear with you the memory of this day always.
Remember that the same fate awaits you everywhere. The earth will not
surrender her God to you; the people will not surrender to you that
whereby they live and breathe. Yesterday I still feared you. To-day
I regard you with pity. You are pitiful, Savva! Go! Why are you
Isn't it a little premature, sister, for you to be delivering my
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