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she has found him a rich widow, one who never receives company at home and never goes out, so she has grown very fat and almost ill. Her doctor has recommended her to get married, and she has told the Syakha to find her a husband. But Balzaminof does not receive her information gratefully, for he has fallen in love with two sisters who live next door to the widow, and he imagines they both regard him with affection. The truth is they both laugh at him, but they encourage his visits because one of them is going to run off with a friend of his who finds him a useful messenger. One day when he is in their house, disguised as a shoemaker, their brothers, who are on bad terms with them, suddenly return home. Balzaminof is obliged to run away, so he gets over the paling into the next garden, which belongs to the widow, and there he is seized by the Svakha who happens to be spending the evening with the other lady. The Svakha persuades him that he is in danger of being had up as a thief, and that his only way of escape is to propose to the widow at once. He agrees, and is therefore introduced to her. This is how the scene ends:
• Widow. How dreadfully I was frightened! I thought I should have died.
Svakha. Don't be alarmed. He's a friend of mine. He came here by mistake (takes him by the hand, wishing to introduce him).
Balzaminof (aside). She's awfully fat!
"Svakha. Are you still hesitating? (introduces him) Kiss her hand (he kisses it).
Widow. Why do you do that?
Svakha. To be sure. He's in love. That's it exactly.
Widow. We had better sit down (they sit down). How did you get here? Balzaminof
. Across the paling -- are you angry with me? Widow. No, I'm never angry. I'm too good-humoured. What's your occupation?
· Balzaminof. Mine? nothing:
" Widow. I do nothing too. It's wretched work doing nothing when you're alone. It's much pleasanter to have some one to help you.
Balzaminof. Much pleasanter.
* Widow (laying her hand on his shoulder). Do you wish us to be united ?
· Balzaminof. I shall think it a happiness.
• Widow. I'm very easy to please. I believe everything that's told me. I hope you are not cheating me.
· Balzaminof. How could that be? I think it's mean to cheat.
Widow. Good. You love me then; and I · Balzaminof. I thank you most humbly. Let me kiss
• Widow. There (giving him her hand). But come a little closer, I (Balzaminof bends towards her; she kisses him. The Svakha comes out from behind the bushes, saying)
That's capital. That means all is settled.'
A somewhat more romantic scene of courtship may be found in the Tyajeluie Dni-literally "Heavy Days'-a play which also gives a good picture of Russian laws and lawyers. Tite Titich Bruskof is a merchant of the coarse, quarrelsome class. He has money, but he has never had any education, and he is totally destitute of anything like delicacy or refinement. He is constantly drinking, is always using bad language, and not unfrequently resorts to brutal violence. His son Andrei Titich, on the other hand, is mild and sensitive, so he is greatly annoyed at his father's conduct. Bruskof is always abusing his son for not getting married, but as soon as ever the old man has decided upon choosing
any young lady to fill the position of his daughter-inlaw, he is sure to quarrel with her family and break off the negotiations. As a general rule young Andrei Titich does not admire the girls to whom he is introduced, but he makes an exception in favour of one named Alexandra. Here is his account of how he fell in love with her:
“She and her mother were paying us a visit one day, and they stayed so long that it grew almost dark. Then the old lady said, “How shall we get home now that it's so late?” Says my mother, “Here is Andrei, he'll go with you.” I was overjoyed at that. So I seize my cap immediately, and say "With the greatest possible pleasure.” Off we go then, the old lady behind and we in front. Alexandra says to me “Don't you like driving fast?” I reply “It's the greatest pleasure I have. “I too," she says, “love it mortaliy.” After a while, “It would be a good thing," says she, “if one could tell what men's thoughts are like.” “Why do you want to know?” say I. "Because,” says she, “one could tell then if they were speaking the truth or not.” “But,” say I, “can't that be found out by any other means?” “I,” says she, “can never tell. I always believe everything that's said to me.” Then she says, “Why do you never come to see us ?” “Because,” say I, “I'm not my own master.”
- Look at that window,” says she, “I'm always sitting there. You drive by every day, but you never look up. I'm not like you. I never leave the window till I've seen you come back from the town.” These words made my whole soul rejoice, but I hadn't a word to say in reply. “I pity you,” she says, "you're so shy.” “I am very shy,” say I. At this moment we reach the house. We stop short and let the old lady go through the garden gateway. I look round and see that no one is in the street, so without saying a word, I seize Alexandra by the waist and kiss her.'
On this it appears she runs into the house and slams the door to. Andrei thinks she is angry and does not dare to go near her for several days. At last, however, he musters up courage enough to visit her:
'I enter the room where she is sitting alone at her work. She looks up at me, and in a moment tears come into her eyes. I begin begging pardon for my rudeness, but to all my excuses she doesn't answer a word, except to say several times, “Why didn't you come? Why didn't you come? I suppose you were only amusing yourself.” Í begin again, even with tears, to entreat her forgiveness. "Only forgive me,” say I, “and I'll never again be so rude." She looks up at me, and then she laughs. “What have I to forgive?" she says. “The sin wasn't a great one.” And again I see that there are tears in her eyes. Then her mother comes into the room, and I take up my cap and
The old Bruskof at first seemed very unlikely to consent to his son marrying Alexandra, who has no dowry; but about this time he gets into trouble. Having gained one of his many lawsuits, he gives a feast to a party of lawyers. After the banquet they become so lively that they insist on tossing him in the air, a way of evincing respectful admiration which is common in Russia, but not agreeable to the person honoured by it. They manage to let Bruskof fall, and when he gets up, in a not very amiable mood, he runs against, and proceeds to beat, a stranger who has for some time been trying to force himself upon the company. The injured man turns out to be a chinovnik named Pertsof, who makes a living by bringing actions against any unfortunate persons whom he can drive into insulting or striking him, and he straightway commences a suit against Bruskof. The old merchant is frightened and appeals to Mudrof, a lawyer of his acquaintance, who tells him that the law of self-preservation demands that he should hide. Bruskof, who thinks that is one of the laws in the penal code, consents. Mudrof then says he must travel for a time between two districts, that being an ordinary method of evading justice in Russia. So Bruskof gets into his tarantass, in which, says his wife, 'he sits exactly like an orphan.' Presently Pertsof arrives and begins bargaining with Bruskof's wife as to the sum for which he will condone the offence. At first his claims are exorbitant, but eventually he accepts a hundred roubles, being constrained to do so by the arrival of a chinovnik named Dosujef, a friend of Andrei's, who is aware of a forgery which he ha committed, and threatens to disclose it if he does nos accept that sum quietly. In return for this servicet Dosujef insists on old Bruskof's consenting to his son's marriage with Alexandra.
Our readers will have seen from the outlines of these plays that the chief merit of the Russian Drama is not to be found in the ingenuity of their plots. They are, in fact, 'entirely devoid of original contrivances or startling situations. The story generally unfolds itself as the piece goes on, with a simplicity which is characteristic of a very tender age in art, somewhat resembling that which marks the dramatic productions of India or China. There is very little composition in the pictures the artist exhibits, which follow each other something after the fashion of panoramic illustrations. But as representations of Russian family life, they are not devoid of interest. There is certainly at present no reciprocity in literature between Russian and Western Europe, which is sufficiently ac