Written by Anton Chekhov


I’ll just say what I have to say and then I’ll go. Forthwith…. In the first place you’ve got something against Natasha, my wife – and this I’ve been aware of from the very day we got married. Natasha is a very fine person – honest, straightforward, and upright – that’s my opinion. I love and respect my wife – I respect her, you understand? – and I insist that others respect her, too. I say it again – she is an honest and upright person, and all your little marks of displeasure – forgive me, but you’re simply behaving like spoilt children. (Pause) Secondly, you seem to be angry that I’m not a professor, that I’m not a scientist. But I serve in local government, I am a member of the local Council, and this service I consider just as sacred, just as elevated, as any service I could render science. I am a member of the local Council and proud of it, if you wish to know…. (Pause) Thirdly….. I have something else to say…I mortgaged the house without asking your permission… To this I plead guilty, and indeed ask you to forgive me… I was driven to it by my debts… thirty-five thousand… I don’t play cards now – I gave it up long since – but the main thing I can say in my own justification is that you’re girls, and you get an annuity, whereas I had no… well, no income….. (Pause) …. You’re not listening. Natasha is an outstanding woman, someone of great integrity. (Walks about in silence, then stops) When I got married I thought we were going to be happy … all going to be happy… But my god… (Weeps) My dear sisters, my own dear sisters, don’t believe me, don’t trust me…. (He goes)