A comedy in five acts translated from the Russian
by Thomas Seltzer
CHARACTERS OF THE PLAY
ANTON ANTONOVICH SKVOZNIK-DMUKHANOVSKY, the
ANNA ANDREYEVNA, his wife.
MARYA ANTONOVNA, his daughter.
LUKA LUKICH KHLOPOV, the Inspector of Schools.
AMMOS FIODOROVICH LIAPKIN-TIAPKIN, the Judge.
ARTEMY FILIPPOVICH ZEMLIANIKA, the Superintendent of
IVAN KUZMICH SHPEKIN, the Postmaster.
PIOTR IVANOVICH DOBCHINSKY. }
PIOTR IVANOVICH BOBCHINSKY. } Country Squires.
IVAN ALEKSANDROVICH KHLESTAKOV, an official from St.
OSIP, his servant.
CHRISTIAN IVANOVICH H?BNER, the district Doctor.
FIODR ANDREYEVICH LlULIUKOV. } ex-officials,
IVAN LAZAREVICH RASTAKOVSKY. }personages
STEPAN IVANOVICH KOROBKIN. }of the town.
STEPAN ILYICH UKHOVERTOV, the Police Captain.
PUGOVITZYN. }Police Sergeants.
ABDULIN, a Merchant.
FEVRONYA PETROVA POSHLIOPKINA, the Locksmith's wife.
The Widow of a non-commissioned Officer.
MISHKA, the Governor's Servant.
Servant at the Inn.
Guests, Merchants, Citizens, and Petitioners.
CHARACTERS AND COSTUMES
DIRECTIONS FOR ACTORS
THE GOVERNOR.--A man grown old in the service, by
no means a fool in his own way. Though he takes
bribes, he carries himself with dignity. He is of a
rather serious turn and even given somewhat to
ratiocination. He speaks in a voice neither too loud
nor too low and says neither too much nor too little.
Every word of his counts. He has the typical hard
stern features of the official who has worked his way
up from the lowest rank in the arduous government
service. Coarse in his inclinations, he passes
rapidly from fear to joy, from servility to arrogance.
He is dressed in uniform with frogs and wears
Hessian boots with spurs. His hair with a sprinkling
of gray is close-cropped.
ANNA ANDREYEVNA.--A provincial coquette, still this
side of middle age, educated on novels and albums
and on fussing with household affairs and servants.
She is highly inquisitive and has streaks of vanity.
Sometimes she gets the upper hand over her husband,
and he gives in simply because at the moment
he cannot find the right thing to say. Her
ascendency, however, is confined to mere trifles and
takes the form of lecturing and twitting. She
changes her dress four times in the course of the
KHLESTAKOV.--A skinny young man of about twenty-three,
rather stupid, being, as they say, "without a
czar in his head," one of those persons called an
"empty vessel" in the government offices. He
speaks and acts without stopping to think and utterly
lacks the power of concentration. The words burst
from his mouth unexpectedly. The more naivet?
and ingenousness the actor puts into the character
the better will he sustain the role. Khlestakov is
dressed in the latest fashion.
OSIP.--A typical middle-aged servant, grave in his address,
with eyes always a bit lowered. He is argumentative
and loves to read sermons directed at his
master. His voice is usually monotonous. To his
master his tone is blunt and sharp, with even a touch
of rudeness. He is the cleverer of the two and
grasps a situation more quickly. But he does not
like to talk. He is a silent, uncommunicative rascal.
He wears a shabby gray or blue coat.
BOBCHINSKY AND DOBCHINSKY.--Short little fellows,
strikingly like each other. Both have small
paunches, and talk rapidly, with emphatic gestures
of their hands, features and bodies. Dobchinsky is
slightly the taller and more subdued in manner.
Bobchinsky is freer, easier and livelier. They are
both exceedingly inquisitive.
LIAPKIN-TIAPKIN.--He has read four or five books and
so is a bit of a freethinker. He is always seeing a
hidden meaning in things and therefore puts weight
into every word he utters. The actor should preserve
an expression of importance throughout. He
speaks in a bass voice, with a prolonged rattle and
wheeze in his throat, like an old-fashioned clock,
which buzzes before it strikes.
ZEMLIANIKA.--Very fat, slow and awkward; but for all
that a sly, cunning scoundrel. He is very obliging
SHPEKIN.--Guileless to the point of simplemindedness.
The other characters require no special explanation,
as their originals can be met almost anywhere.
The actors should pay especial attention to the last
scene. The last word uttered must strike all at once,
suddenly, like an electric shock. The whole group should
change its position at the same instant. The ladies must
all burst into a simultaneous cry of astonishment, as if
with one throat. The neglect of these directions may
ruin the whole effect.
A Room in the Governor's House.
Anton Antonovich, the Governor, Artemy Filippovich,
the Superintendent of Charities, Luka Lukich, the Inspector
of Schools, Ammos Fiodorovich, the Judge,
Stepan Ilyich, Christian Ivanovich, the Doctor, and two
GOVERNOR. I have called you together, gentlemen, to
tell you an unpleasant piece of news. An Inspector-General
AMMOS FIOD. What, an Inspector-General?
ARTEMY FIL. What, an Inspector-General?
GOVERNOR. Yes, an Inspector from St. Petersburg,
incognito. And with secret instructions, too.
AMMOS. A pretty how-do-you-do!
ARTEMY. As if we hadn't enough trouble without an
LUKA LUKICH. Good Lord! With secret instructions!
GOVERNOR. I had a sort of presentiment of it. Last
night I kept dreaming of two rats--regular monsters!
Upon my word, I never saw the likes of them--black
and supernaturally big. They came in, sniffed, and then
went away.-- Here's a letter I'll read to you--from
Andrey Ivanovich. You know him, Artemy Filippovich.
Listen to what he writes: "My dear friend, godfather
and benefactor--[He mumbles, glancing rapidly down
the page.]--and to let you know"-- Ah, that's it--
"I hasten to let you know, among other things, that an
official has arrived here with instructions to inspect the
whole government, and your district especially. [Raises
his finger significantly.] I have learned of his being
here from highly trustworthy sources, though he pretends
to be a private person. So, as you have your little peccadilloes,
you know, like everybody else--you are a
sensible man, and you don't let the good things that come
your way slip by--" [Stopping] H'm, that's his junk
--"I advise you to take precautions, as he may arrive
any hour, if he hasn't already, and is not staying somewhere
incognito. --Yesterday--" The rest are family
matters. "Sister Anna Krillovna is here visiting us
with her husband. Ivan Krillovich has grown very fat
and is always playing the fiddle"--et cetera, et cetera.
So there you have the situation we are confronted with,
AMMOS. An extraordinary situation, most extraordinary!
Something behind it, I am sure.
LUKA. But why, Anton Antonovich? What for?
Why should we have an Inspector?
GOVERNOR. It's fate, I suppose. [Sighs.] Till now,
thank goodness, they have been nosing about in other
towns. Now our turn has come.
AMMOS. My opinion is, Anton Antonovich, that the
cause is a deep one and rather political in character. It
means this, that Russia--yes--that Russia intends to
go to war, and the Government has secretly commissioned
an official to find out if there is any treasonable activity
GOVERNOR. The wise man has hit on the very thing.
Treason in this little country town! As if it were on
the frontier! Why, you might gallop three years away
from here and reach nowhere.
AMMOS. No, you don't catch on--you don't-- The
Government is shrewd. It makes no difference that our
town is so remote. The Government is on the look-out
all the same--
GOVERNOR [cutting him short]. On the look-out, or
not on the look-out, anyhow, gentlemen, I have given you
warning. I have made some arrangements for myself,
and I advise you to do the same. You especially, Artemy
Filippovich. This official, no doubt, will want first of all
to inspect your department. So you had better see to it
that everything is in order, that the night-caps are clean,
and the patients don't go about as they usually do, looking
as grimy as blacksmiths.
ARTEMY. Oh, that's a small matter. We can get
night-caps easily enough.
GOVERNOR. And over each bed you might hang up a
placard stating in Latin or some other language--that's
your end of it, Christian Ivanovich--the name of the
disease, when the patient fell ill, the day of the week and
the month. And I don't like your invalids to be smoking
such strong tobacco. It makes you sneeze when you
come in. It would be better, too, if there weren't so
many of them. If there are a large number, it will instantly
be ascribed to bad supervision or incompetent
ARTEMY. Oh, as to treatment, Christian Ivanovich
and I have worked out our own system. Our rule is:
the nearer to nature the better. We use no expensive
medicines. A man is a simple affair. If he dies, he'd
die anyway. If he gets well, he'd get well anyway.
Besides, the doctor would have a hard time making the
patients understand him. He doesn't know a word of
The Doctor gives forth a sound intermediate between
M and A.
GOVERNOR. And you, Ammos Fiodorovich, had better
look to the courthouse. The attendants have turned the
entrance hall where the petitioners usually wait into a
poultry yard, and the geese and goslings go poking their
beaks between people's legs. Of course, setting up
housekeeping is commendable, and there is no reason
why a porter shouldn't do it. Only, you see, the courthouse
is not exactly the place for it. I had meant to tell
you so before, but somehow it escaped my memory.
AMMOS. Well, I'll have them all taken into the kitchen
to-day. Will you come and dine with me?
GOVERNOR. Then, too, it isn't right to have the courtroom
littered up with all sorts of rubbish--to have a
hunting-crop lying right among the papers on your desk.
You're fond of sport, I know, still it's better to have
the crop removed for the present. When the Inspector
is gone, you may put it back again. As for your assessor,
he's an educated man, to be sure, but he reeks of
spirits, as if he had just emerged from a distillery.
That's not right either. I had meant to tell you so long
ago, but something or other drove the thing out of my
mind. If his odor is really a congenital defect, as he
says, then there are ways of remedying it. You might
advise him to eat onion or garlic, or something of the
sort. Christian Ivanovich can help him out with some of
The Doctor makes the same sound as before.
AMMOS. No, there's no cure for it. He says his nurse
struck him when he was a child, and ever since he has
smelt of vodka.
GOVERNOR. Well, I just wanted to call your attention
to it. As regards the internal administration and what
Andrey Ivanovich in his letter calls "little peccadilloes,"
I have nothing to say. Why, of course, there isn't a man
living who hasn't some sins to answer for. That's the
way God made the world, and the Voltairean freethinkers
can talk against it all they like, it won't do any good.
AMMOS. What do you mean by sins? Anton Antonovich?
There are sins and sins. I tell everyone plainly
that I take bribes. I make no bones about it. But
what kind of bribes? White greyhound puppies. That's
quite a different matter.
GOVERNOR. H'm. Bribes are bribes, whether puppies
or anything else.
AMMOS. Oh, no, Anton Antonovich. But if one has a
fur overcoat worth five hundred rubles, and one's wife a
GOVERNOR. [testily]. And supposing greyhound
puppies are the only bribes you take? You're an atheist,
you never go to church, while I at least am a firm believer
and go to church every Sunday. You--oh, I
know you. When you begin to talk about the Creation
it makes my flesh creep.
AMMOS. Well, it's a conclusion I've reasoned out with
my own brain.
GOVERNOR. Too much brain is sometimes worse than
none at all.-- However, I merely mentioned the courthouse.
I dare say nobody will ever look at it. It's an
enviable place. God Almighty Himself seems to watch
over it. But you, Luka Lukich, as inspector of schools,
ought to have an eye on the teachers. They are very
learned gentlemen, no doubt, with a college education,
but they have funny habits--inseparable from the profession,
I know. One of them, for instance, the man with
the fat face--I forget his name--is sure, the moment he
takes his chair, to screw up his face like this. [Imitates
him.] And then he has a trick of sticking his hand under
his necktie and smoothing down his beard. It doesn't
matter, of course, if he makes a face at the pupils; perhaps
it's even necessary. I'm no judge of that. But
you yourself will admit that if he does it to a visitor, it
may turn out very badly. The Inspector, or anyone
else, might take it as meant for himself, and then the
deuce knows what might come of it.
LUKA. But what can I do? I have told him about it
time and again. Only the other day when the marshal
of the nobility came into the class-room, he made such a
face at him as I had never in my life seen before. I
dare say it was with the best intentions; But I get reprimanded
for permitting radical ideas to be instilled in the
minds of the young.
GOVERNOR. And then I must call your attention to the
history teacher. He has a lot of learning in his head
and a store of facts. That's evident. But he lectures
with such ardor that he quite forgets himself. Once
I listened to him. As long as he was talking about the
Assyrians and Babylonians, it was not so bad. But when
he reached Alexander of Macedon, I can't describe what
came over him. Upon my word, I thought a fire had
broken out. He jumped down from the platform, picked
up a chair and dashed it to the floor. Alexander of
Macedon was a hero, it is true. But that's no reason for
breaking chairs. The state must bear the cost.
LUKA. Yes, he is a hot one. I have spoken to him
about it several times. He only says: "As you please,
but in the cause of learning I will even sacrifice my
GOVERNOR. Yes, it's a mysterious law of fate. Your
clever man is either a drunkard, or he makes such grimaces
that you feel like running away.
LUKA. Ah, Heaven save us from being in the educational
department! One's afraid of everything. Everybody
meddles and wants to show that he is as clever as
GOVERNOR. Oh, that's nothing. But this cursed incognito!
All of a sudden he'll look in: "Ah, so you're
here, my dear fellows! And who's the judge here?" says
he. "Liapkin-Tiapkin." "Bring Liapkin-Tiapkin
here.-- And who is the Superintendent of Charities?"
"Zemlianika."--"Bring Zemlianika here!"-- That's
Enter Ivan Kuzmich, the Postmaster.
POSTMASTER. Tell me, gentlemen, who's coming?
GOVERNOR. What, haven't you heard?
POSTMASTER. Bobchinsky told me. He was at the
postoffice just now.
GOVERNOR. Well, what do you think of it?
POSTMASTER. What do I think of it? Why, there'll
be a war with the Turks.
AMMOS. Exactly. Just what I thought.
GOVERNOR [sarcastically]. Yes, you've both hit in
the air precisely.
POSTMASTER. It's war with the Turks for sure, all
fomented by the French.
GOVERNOR. Nonsense! War with the Turks indeed.
It's we who are going to get it, not the Turks. You may
count on that. Here's a letter to prove it.
POSTMASTER. In that case, then, we won't go to war
with the Turks.
GOVERNOR. Well, how do you feel about it, Ivan Kuzmich?
POSTMASTER. How do I feel? How do YOU feel about
it, Anton Antonovich?
GOVERNOR. I? Well, I'm not afraid, but I just feel
a little--you know-- The merchants and townspeople
bother me. I seem to be unpopular with them. But the
Lord knows if I've taken from some I've done it without
a trace of ill-feeling. I even suspect--[Takes him by
the arm and walks aside with him.]--I even suspect
that I may have been denounced. Or why would they
send an Inspector to us? Look here, Ivan Kuzmich,
don't you think you could--ahem!--just open a little
every letter that passes through your office and read it--
for the common benefit of us all, you know--to see if it
contains any kind of information against me, or is only
ordinary correspondence. If it is all right, you can seal
it up again, or simply deliver the letter opened.
POSTMASTER. Oh, I know. You needn't teach me
that. I do it not so much as a precaution as out of curiosity.
I just itch to know what's doing in the world.
And it's very interesting reading, I tell you. Some letters
are fascinating--parts of them written grand--
more edifying than the Moscow Gazette.
GOVERNOR. Tell me, then, have you read anything
about any official from St. Petersburg?
POSTMASTER. No, nothing about a St. Petersburg official,
but plenty about Kostroma and Saratov ones. A
pity you don't read the letters. There are some very fine
passages in them. For instance, not long ago a lieutenant
writes to a friend describing a ball very wittily.--
Splendid! "Dear friend," he says, "I live in the regions
of the Empyrean, lots of girls, bands playing, flags flying."
He's put a lot of feeling into his description, a
whole lot. I've kept the letter on purpose. Would you
like to read it?
GOVERNOR. No, this is no time for such things. But
please, Ivan Kuzmich, do me the favor, if ever you chance
upon a complaint or denunciation, don't hesitate a moment,
hold it back.
POSTMASTER. I will, with the greatest pleasure.
AMMOS. You had better be careful. You may get
yourself into trouble.
POSTMASTER. Goodness me!
GOVERNOR. Never mind, never mind. Of course, it
would be different if you published it broadcast. But it's
a private affair, just between us.
AMMOS. Yes, it's a bad business--I really came
here to make you a present of a puppy, sister to the
dog you know about. I suppose you have heard that
Cheptovich and Varkhovinsky have started a suit. So
now I live in clover. I hunt hares first on the one's
estate, then on the other's.
GOVERNOR. I don't care about your hares now, my
good friend. That cursed incognito is on my brain. Any
moment the door may open and in walk--
Enter Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky, out of breath.
BOBCHINSKY. What an extraordinary occurrence!
DOBCHINSKY. An unexpected piece of news!
ALL. What is it? What is it?
DOBCHINSKY. Something quite unforeseen. We were
about to enter the inn--
BOBCHINSKY [interrupting]. Yes, Piotr Ivanovich
and I were entering the inn--
DOBCHINSKY [interrupting]. Please, Piotr Ivanovich,
let me tell.
BOBCHINSKY. No, please, let me--let me. You
can't. You haven't got the style for it.
DOBCHINSKY. Oh, but you'll get mixed up and won't
BOBCHINSKY. Yes, I will, upon my word, I will.
PLEASE don't interrupt! Do let me tell the news--don't
interrupt! Pray, oblige me, gentlemen, and tell Dobchinsky
not to interrupt.
GOVERNOR. Speak, for Heaven's sake! What is it?
My heart is in my mouth! Sit down, gentlemen, take
seats. Piotr Ivanovich, here's a chair for you. [All
seat themselves around Bobchinsky and Dobchinsky.]
Well, now, what is it? What is it?
BOBCHINSKY. Permit me, permit me. I'll tell it all
just as it happened. As soon as I had the pleasure of
taking leave of you after you were good enough to be
bothered with the letter which you had received, sir, I
ran out--now, please don't keep interrupting, Dobchinsky.
I know all about it, all, I tell you.-- So I ran
out to see Korobkin. But not finding Korobkin at home,
I went off to Rastakovsky, and not seeing him, I went to
Ivan Kuzmich to tell him of the news you'd got. Going
on from there I met Dobchinsky--
DOBCHINSKY [interjecting]. At the stall where they
BOBCHINSKY. At the stall where they sell pies. Well,
I met Dobchinsky and I said to him: "Have you heard
the news that came to Anton Antonovich in a letter which
is absolutely reliable?" But Piotr Ivanovich had already
heard of it from your housekeeper, Avdotya, who,
I don't know why, had been sent to Filipp Antonovich
DOBCHINSKY [interrupting]. To get a little keg for
BOBCHINSKY. Yes, to get a little keg for French
brandy. So then I went with Dobchinsky to Pachechuyev's.--
Will you stop, Piotr Ivanovich? Please
don't interrupt.-- So off we went to Pachechuyev's,
and on the way Dobchinsky said: "Let's go to
the inn," he said. "I haven't eaten a thing since
morning. My stomach is growling." Yes, sir, his
stomach was growling. "They've just got in a supply of
fresh salmon at the inn," he said. "Let's take a bite."
We had hardly entered the inn when we saw a young
DOBCHINSKY [Interrupting]. Of rather good appearance
and dressed in ordinary citizen's clothes.
BOBCHINSKY. Yes, of rather good appearance and
dressed in citizen's clothes--walking up and down
the room. There was something out of the usual
about his face, you know, something deep--and a manner
about him--and here [raises his hand to his forehead
and turns it around several times] full, full of
everything. I had a sort of feeling, and I said to Dobchinsky,
"Something's up. This is no ordinary matter."
Yes, and Dobchinsky beckoned to the landlord, Vlas, the
innkeeper, you know,--three weeks ago his wife presented
him with a baby--a bouncer--he'll grow up just
like his father and keep a tavern.-- Well, we beckoned
to Vlas, and Dobchinsky asked him on the quiet, "Who,"
he asked, "is that young man?" "That young man,"
Vlas replied, "that young man"-- Oh, don't interrupt,
Piotr Ivanovich, please don't interrupt. You can't tell
the story. Upon my word, you can't. You lisp and one
tooth in your mouth makes you whistle. I know what
I'm saying. "That young man," he said, "is an official."--
Yes, sir.-- "On his way from St. Petersburg.
And his name," he said, "is Ivan Aleksandrovich
Khlestakov, and he's going," he said "to the government
of Saratov," he said. "And he acts so queerly. It's
the second week he's been here and he's never left the
house; and he won't pay a penny, takes everything on
account." When Vlas told me that, a light dawned on
me from above, and I said to Piotr Ivanovich, "Hey!"--
DOBCHINSKY. No, Piotr Ivanovich, I said "HEY!"
BOBCHINSKY. Well first YOU said it, then I did.
"Hey!" said both of us, "And why does he stick here
if he's going to Saratov?"-- Yes, sir, that's he, the official.
GOVERNOR. Who? What official?
BOBCHINSKY. Why, the official who you were notified
was coming, the Inspector.
GOVERNOR [terrified]. Great God! What's that
you're saying. It can't be he.
DOBCHINSKY. It is, though. Why, he doesn't pay
his bills and he doesn't leave. Who else can it be? And
his postchaise is ordered for Saratov.
BOBCHINSKY. It's he, it's he, it's he--why, he's so
alert, he scrutinized everything. He saw that Dobchinsky
and I were eating salmon--chiefly on account of
Dobchinsky's stomach--and he looked at our plates so
hard that I was frightened to death.
GOVERNOR. The Lord have mercy on us sinners! In
what room is he staying?
DOBCHINSKY. Room number 5 near the stairway.
BOBCHINSKY. In the same room that the officers quarreled
in when they passed through here last year.
GOVERNOR. How long has he been here?
DOBCHINSKY. Two weeks. He came on St. Vasili's
GOVERNOR. Two weeks! [Aside.] Holy Fathers
and saints preserve me! In those two weeks I have
flogged the wife of a non-commissioned officer, the prisoners
were not given their rations, the streets are dirty as
a pothouse--a scandal, a disgrace! [Clutches his head
with both hands.]
ARTEMY. What do you think, Anton Antonovich,
hadn't we better go in state to the inn?
AMMOS. No, no. First send the chief magistrate,
then the clergy, then the merchants. That's what it says
in the book. The Acts of John the Freemason.
GOVERNOR. No, no, leave it to me. I have been in
difficult situations before now. They have passed off all
right, and I was even rewarded with thanks. Maybe the
Lord will help us out this time, too. [Turns to Bobchinsky.]
You say he's a young man?
BOBCHINSKY. Yes, about twenty-three or four at the
GOVERNOR. So much the better. It's easier to pump
things out of a young man. It's tough if you've got a
hardened old devil to deal with. But a young man is all
on the surface. You, gentlemen, had better see to your
end of things while I go unofficially, by myself, or with
Dobchinsky here, as though for a walk, to see that the
visitors that come to town are properly accommodated.
Here, Svistunov. [To one of the Sergeants.]
GOVERNOR. Go instantly to the Police Captain--or,
no, I'll want you. Tell somebody to send him here as
quickly as possibly and then come back.
Svistunov hurries off.
ARTEMY. Let's go, let's go, Ammos Fiodorovich. We
may really get into trouble.
AMMOS. What have you got to be afraid of? Put
clean nightcaps on the patients and the thing's done.
ARTEMY. Nightcaps! Nonsense! The patients
were ordered to have oatmeal soup. Instead of that
there's such a smell of cabbage in all the corridors that
you've got to hold your nose.
AMMOS. Well, my mind's at ease. Who's going to
visit the court? Supposing he does look at the papers,
he'll wish he had left them alone. I have been on the
bench fifteen years, and when I take a look into a report,
I despair. King Solomon in all his wisdom could not tell
what is true and what is not true in it.
The Judge, the Superintendent of Charities, the School
Inspector, and Postmaster go out and bump up against
the Sergeant in the doorway as the latter returns.
The Governor, Bobchinsky, Dobchinsky, and Sergeant
GOVERNOR. Well, is the cab ready?
SVISTUNOV. Yes, sir.
GOVERNOR. Go out on the street--or, no, stop--go
and bring--why, where are the others? Why are you
alone? Didn't I give orders for Prokhorov to be here?
Where is Prokhorov?
SVISTUNOV. Prokhorov is in somebody's house and
can't go on duty just now.
GOVERNOR. Why so?
SVISTUNOV. Well, they brought him back this morning
dead drunk. They poured two buckets of water over
him, but he hasn't sobered up yet.
GOVERNOR [clutching his head with both hands].
For Heaven's sake! Go out on duty quick--or, no,
run up to my room, do you hear? And fetch my sword
and my new hat. Now, Piotr Ivanovich, [to Dobchinsky]
BOBCHINSKY. And me--me, too. Let me come, too,
GOVERNOR. No, no, Bobchinsky, it won't do. Besides
there is not enough room in the cab.
BOBCHINSKY. Oh, that doesn't matter. I'll follow
the cab on foot--on foot. I just want to peep through
a crack--so--to see that manner of his--how he acts.
GOVERNOR [turning to the Sergeant and taking his
sword]. Be off and get the policemen together. Let
them each take a--there, see how scratched my sword
is. It's that dog of a merchant, Abdulin. He sees the
Governor's sword is old and doesn't provide a new one.
Oh, the sharpers! I'll bet they've got their petitions
against me ready in their coat-tail pockets.--Let each take
a street in his hand--I don't mean a street--a broom--
and sweep the street leading to the inn, and sweep it
clean, and--do you hear? And see here, I know you,
I know your tricks. You insinuate yourselves into the
inn and walk off with silver spoons in your boots. Just
you look out. I keep my ears pricked. What have you
been up to with the merchant, Chorniayev, eh? He gave
you two yards of cloth for your uniform and you stole the
whole piece. Take care. You're only a Sergeant.
Don't graft higher than your rank. Off with you.
Enter the Police Captain.
GOVERNOR. Hello, Stepan Ilyich, where the dickens
have you been keeping yourself? What do you mean by
acting that way?
CAPTAIN. Why, I was just outside the gate.
GOVERNOR. Well, listen, Stepan Ilyich. An official
has come from St. Petersburg. What have you done
CAPTAIN. What you told me to. I sent Sergeant
Pugovichyn with policemen to clean the street.
GOVERNOR. Where is Derzhimorda?
CAPTAIN. He has gone off on the fire engine.
GOVERNOR. And Prokhorov is drunk?
GOVERNOR. How could you allow him to get drunk?
CAPTAIN. God knows. Yesterday there was a fight
outside the town. He went to restore order and was
brought back drunk.
GOVERNOR. Well, then, this is what you are to do.--
Sergeant Pugovichyn--he is tall. So he is to stand
on duty on the bridge for appearance' sake. Then
the old fence near the bootmaker's must be pulled
down at once and a post stuck up with a whisp of
straw so as to look like grading. The more debris
there is the more it will show the governor's activity.--
Good God, though, I forgot that about forty cart-loads
of rubbish have been dumped against that fence.
What a vile, filthy town this is! A monument, or even
only a fence, is erected, and instantly they bring a lot of
dirt together, from the devil knows where, and dump it
there. [Heaves a sigh.] And if the functionary that has
come here asks any of the officials whether they are satisfied,
they are to say, "Perfectly satisfied, your Honor";
and if anybody is not satisfied, I'll give him something to
be dissatisfied about afterwards.-- Ah, I'm a sinner, a
terrible sinner. [Takes the hat-box, instead of his hat.]
Heaven only grant that I may soon get this matter over
and done with; then I'll donate a candle such as has
never been offered before. I'll levy a hundred pounds of
wax from every damned merchant. Oh my, oh my!
Come, let's go, Piotr Ivanovich. [Tries to put the hat-box
on his head instead of his hat.]
CAPTAIN. Anton Antonovich, that's the hat-box, not
GOVERNOR [throwing the box down]. If it's the hat-box,
it's the hat-box, the deuce take it!-- And if he asks
why the church at the hospital for which the money was
appropriated five years ago has not been built, don't let
them forget to say that the building was begun but was
destroyed by fire. I sent in a report about it, you
know. Some blamed fool might forget and let out that
the building was never even begun. And tell Derzhimorda
not to be so free with his fists. Guilty or
innocent, he makes them all see stars in the cause of
public order.-- Come on, come on, Dobchinsky. [Goes
out and returns.] And don't let the soldiers appear on
the streets with nothing on. That rotten garrison wear
their coats directly over their undershirts.
All go out.
Anna Andreyevna and Marya Antonovna rush in on
ANNA. Where are they? Where are they? Oh, my
God! [opening the door.] Husband! Antosha! Anton!
[hurriedly, to Marya.] It's all your fault. Dawdling!
Dawdling!--"I want a pin--I want a scarf."
[Runs to the window and calls.] Anton, where are you
going? Where are you going? What! He has come?
The Inspector? He has a moustache? What kind of a
GOVERNOR [from without]. Wait, dear. Later.
ANNA. Wait? I don't want to wait. The idea, wait!
I only want one word. Is he a colonel or what? Eh?
[Disgusted.] There, he's gone! You'll pay for it!
It's all your fault--you, with your "Mamma, dear, wait
a moment, I'll just pin my scarf. I'll come directly."
Yes, directly! Now we have missed the news. It's all
your confounded coquettishness. You heard the Postmaster
was here and so you must prink and prim yourself
in front of the mirror--look on this side and that
side and all around. You imagine he's smitten with you.
But I can tell you he makes a face at you the moment
you turn your back.
MARYA. It can't be helped, mamma. We'll know
everything in a couple of hours anyway.
ANNA. In a couple of hours! Thank you! A nice
answer. Why don't you say, in a month. We'll know
still more in a month. [She leans out of the window.]
Here, Avdotya! I say! Have you heard whether anybody
has come, Avdotya?-- No, you goose, you didn't
-- He waved his hands? Well, what of it? Let him
wave his hands. But you should have asked him anyhow.
You couldn't find out, of course, with your head full
of nonsense and lovers. Eh, what? They left in a
hurry? Well, you should have run after the carriage.
Off with you, off with you at once, do you hear? Run
and ask everybody where they are. Be sure and find
out who the newcomer is and what he is like, do you
hear? Peep through a crack and find everything out
--what sort of eyes he has, whether they are black or
blue, and be back here instantly, this minute, do you
hear? Quick, quick, quick!
She keeps on calling and they both stand at the window
until the curtain drops.
-----------------------END OF ACT ONE--------------------