MADAME RANEVSKY: [Deeply agitated] Why doesn't Leoníd come?

Oh, if only I knew whether the property's sold or not! It seems such an impossible disaster, that I don't know what to think. . . . I'm bewildered . . . I shall burst out screaming, I shall do something idiotic. Save me, Peter; say something to me, say something. You can see what's truth and untruth, but I seem to have lost the power of vision; I see nothing. You settle every important question so boldly; but tell me, Peter, isn't that because you're young, because you have never solved any question of your own as yet by suffering? You look boldly ahead; isn't it only that you don't see or divine anything terrible in the future; because life is still hidden from your young eyes? You are bolder, honester, deeper than we are, but reflect, show me just a finger's breadth of consideration, take pity on me. Don't you see? I was born here, my father and mother lived here, and my grandfather; I loved this house; without the cherry orchard my life has no meaning for me, and if it must be sold, then for heaven's sake sell me too! My little boy was drowned here. Be gentle with me, dear, kind Peter. I am so wretched today, you can't imagine! All this noise jars on me, my heart jumps at every sound. I tremble all over; but I can't shut myself up; I am afraid of the silence when I'm alone. Don't be hard on me, Peter; I love you like a son. I would gladly let Anya marry you, I swear it; but you must work, Peter; you must get your degree. You do nothing; Fate tosses you about from place to place; and that's not right. It's true what I say, isn't it? And you must do something to your beard to make it grow better. I can't help laughing at you. [Showing him a telegraph] It's a telegram from Paris. I get them every day. One came yesterday, another today. That savage is ill again; he's in a bad way. . . . He asks me to forgive him, he begs me to come; and I really ought to go to Paris and be with him. You look at me sternly; but what am I to do, Peter? What am I to do? He's ill, he's lonely, he's unhappy. Who is to look after him? Who is to keep him from doing stupid things? Who is to give him his medicine when it's time? After all, why should I be ashamed to say it? I love him, that's plain. I love him, I love him. . . . My love is like a stone tied round my neck; it's dragging me down to the bottom; but I love my stone. I can't live without it. Don't think ill of me, Peter; don't say anything! Don't say anything!

unless you leave this house at once. afraid every moment lest the mask should be stripped from one's face. Go back to that child who even now. You don't know what it is.MRS. But don't spoil your beautiful young life on my account! You don't know what may be in store for you. He will require from you that you make his life fine. At night time they come with the flute players and the players of . Lady Windermere--your husband loves you! He has never swerved for a moment from the love he bears you. I may have wrecked my own life. sneered at--to be an outcast! to find the door shut against one. made it and broken it. may be calling to you. mocked. Lady Windermere. and all the while to hear the laughter. a thing more tragic than all the tears the world has ever shed. You couldn't stand dishonor! No! Go back. you must stay with your child. You--why. Honorius. in pain or in joy. you are a mere girl. What answer will you make to God if his life is ruined through you? Back to your house. My lovers hang garlands round the pillars of my house. ERLYNNE: Believe what you choose about me. If he ill-treated you. MYRRHINA: Come forth. to have to creep in by hideous byways. But even if he had a thousand loves. your place is with your child. You must never know that. My bed is strewn with purple and the steps are of silver. God gave you that child. that you watch over him. I am not worth a moment's sorrow. to the husband who loves you. If he was harsh to you. for to-night you have made a heart in one who had it not. you would be lost. but I will not let you wreck yours. and all one's life one pays. and then one pays again. The hangings are sewn with silver pomegranates and the steps that are of silver are strewn with saffron and with myrrh. My chamber is ceiled with cedar and odorous with myrrh. whom you love. Lady Windermere. You have a child. whatever they have been. You have neither the wit nor the courage. to be despised. then at this moment I have expiated all my faults. the horrible laughter of the world. if suffering be an expiation.--But let that pass.--As for me. You don't know what it is to fall into the pit. One pays for one's sins. you must stay with your child. If he abandoned you. abandoned. You haven't got the kind of brains that enables a woman to get back. you must stay with your child. The pillars of my bed are of cedar and the hangings are of purple.

I made the Prince my slave. Those that come from Tyre have cloaks of silk and earrings of emerald. Sometimes I sit in the circus and the gladiators fight beneath me. I took the minion of Cæsar from Cæsar and made him my play-fellow.the harp. From the uttermost parts of the world my lovers come to me. He came to me at night in a litter. When the Emperor of Byzantium heard of me he left his porphyry chamber and set sail in his galleys. and the Tetrarch of Cilicia scourged himself for my pleasure before my slaves. Their bodies are bright with oil and their brows are wreathed with willow sprays and with myrtle. When they see me coming they stand on the prows of their ships and call to me. I gave the signal for him to die and the whole theatre applauded. I have wonderful things in my house. Once a Thracian who was my lover was caught in the net. They woo me with apples and on the pavement of my courtyard they write my name in wine. His slaves bare no torches that none might know of his coming. The dust of the desert lies on your hair and your feet are scratched with thorns and your body is scorched by the sun. The two Kings of Libya who are brothers brought me gifts of amber. I put a figured ring on his finger and brought him to my house. At other times I go down to the harbour and watch the merchants unloading their vessels. Honorius. The kings of the earth come to me and bring me presents. The King of Hierapolis who is a priest and a robber set carpets for me to walk on. They stamp their feet on the sand when they wrestle and when they run the sand follows them like a little cloud. Those that come from Massilia have cloaks of fine wool and earrings of brass. and his slave who was a Tyrian I made my Lord for the space of a moon. I go to the little taverns where the sailors lie all day long drinking black wine and playing with dice and I sit down with them. and I will clothe you in a . He was pale as a narcissus. When the King of Cyprus heard of me he sent me ambassadors. but I do not answer them. Come with me. Sometimes I pass through the gymnasium and watch the young men wrestling or in the race. He at whom I smile leaves his companions and follows me to my home. and his body was like honey. The don of the Præfect slew himself in my honour.

to save you from the world's sneers and taunts I have lied to the world. Night and day all that long winter I tended you. to bear you I had to look on death. when you were hungry I gave you food. The world draws them from our side. My past was ever with me. no care too lowly for the thing we women love--and oh! how I loved you! And you needed love. but did not dare to touch them.tunic of silk. And yet. marriage is a sacrament for those who love each other. Gerald. You made many friends and went into their houses and were glad with them. feeling I had no right. It was not. no ceremony. shall ever bind me to George Harford. and we always fancy that when they come to man's estate and know us better they will repay us. did not dare to follow. . Death. [Pause. I could not tell the truth. It is not for such as him. knowing my secret. you imagined. I will not say the words the Church bids us to say. to obey him who. and my very heavy punishments and great disgrace. but stayed at home and closed the door. You thought I was happier working amongst the poor. .] Men don't understand what mothers are. and I. and they are unjust to us often. Death fought with me for you. shut out the sun and sat in darkness. when you were naked I clothed you. and when they find it sweet we do not taste its sweetness with them. and without thinking give pain. I will smear your body with myrrh and pour spikenard on your hair. How could I swear to love the man I loathe. To nurture you I had to wrestle with it. being childless. . Church-hallowed or State-made. I will not say them. nor the dying care if the . . But it is not so. in his mastery. and have amusements from which we are barred. And boys are careless often. I will clothe you in hyacinth and put honey in your mouth. For twenty years I have lied to the world. or such as me. wants our children from us. Gerald. Love-MRS. and they make friends with whom they are happier than they are with us. Gerald. for when they find life bitter they blame us for it. to honour him who wrought you dishonor. ARBUTHNOT: I will never stand before God's altar and ask God's blessing on so hideous a mockery as a marriage between me and George Harford. That was my mission. I tell you I longed for them. And you thought I didn't care for the pleasant things of life. I am no different from other women except in the wrong done me and the wrong I did. All women have to fight with death to keep their children. and only love could have kept you alive. Only love can keep any one alive. made me to sin? No. No. and interests that are not ours. but where else was I to go? The sick do not ask if the hand that smooths their pillow is pure. No office is too mean. for you were weakly. . .

gentle walk through a shady glen. And you thought I spent too much of my time in going to Church. . and the right of every plain. we will have a Prom. Even if we have to go with our cousin. Oh. But where else could I turn? God's house is the only house where sinners are made welcome. I gave to them the love you did not need. It is my disgrace that has bound you so closely to me. Think of the unlucky grown-ups and the elderly who lament the day they decided not to go to the Prom. But it is my right. at morn or evensong. be still! BEATRIX: That's not true. frumpy. don't ask me to do this horrible thing. For though day after day. . There are only a few things in life that are guaranteed to be glorious and memorable and sparkling with gowns and cummerbunds. I do not. Gerald. lavished on them a love that was not theirs. It is the price I paid for you--the price of soul and body--that makes me love you as I do. Maybe I'll never have someone get down on their knee and Offer me a diamond ring. . I would rather be your mother--oh! much rather!--than have been always pure. or our gay best friend from tap class. It's a rite of passage as sacred as getting your driver's license or buying your first bra.lips that touch their brow have known the kiss of sin. and this beloved ceremony symbolizes our journey from the shadows of adolescence to the bright sunshine of the adult world with all its freedoms. and you were always in my heart. book-wormish. You are more to me than innocence. too much in my heart. soon-to-be librarian to have one night of Cinderella magic. don't you see? don't you understand! It is my dishonour that has made you so dear to me. Maybe I'll never walk down the aisle with a smug look of bridal triumph. And it may be the only chance I'll ever have to dance with a boy. How could I repent of my sin when you. Oh. And you will help me . . Child of my shame. Prom is short for Promenade. I never repented of my sin. I have knelt in God's house. It was you I thought of all the time. my love. . were its fruit. a slow. Young women need the Prom. . Prom is the quintessential teenage experience. and in Church duties. It is a key ingredient to a happy and meaningful life. Even now that you are bitter to me I cannot repent.